Jan 10, 2013

Book Review: A Whisper to a Scream by Karen Wojcik Berner


new cover


Title: A Whisper to a Scream (The Bibliophiles, Book One) by Karen Wojcik Berner
Published June 14, 2011
Genre: contemporary women's fiction
Rating: 4.5/5

A realistic story of two very different women whose paths cross at a Classics Book Club meeting. They seem to be polar opposites. Sarah is a stay-at-home mom looking after two young sons and a too busy husband, keeping family and home together, frustrated that she has no spare time for herself. Anne is a successful public relations executive who delayed having children to further her career, only to find at around age 40 that she and her husband John are diagnosed with "unexplained infertility," and in vitro, artificial insemination, and other technologies are not working for them to have the children they now so desperately want.

The two women meet at the book club gathering, a break from household duties for Sarah. Anne finds it hard to understand Sarah's exasperation being a busy mother and homemaker, something Anne now dreams about.  How things turn out for them is the crux of the novel. When all is said and done, the Classics Book Club helps get them away from their problems, even for a while, and keeps them connected.

I could easily imagine I was reading non-fiction, so well drawn were the characters in the book. With fluid prose and realistic dialogue, the novel is as much a psychological study as a novel about contemporary marriage - the daily demands of raising a family, career versus children, infertility, infidelity, extended family, and hobbies outside of work and home.

I like the idea of having a series of books built around a Classics Book Club. This is the first of the author's planned six books exploring the lives of various book club members, the Bibliophiles. The second book in the series is Until My Soul Gets It Right, published May 22, 2012.

A Whisper to a Scream is as good and in some cases better than many of the contemporary women's fiction novels I've read recently, and I say this without bias.

Thanks to the author for sending an ebook for review.

Karen Wojcik Berner grew up on the outskirts of Chicago. After graduating from Dominican University with degrees in English with a writing concentration and communications, she worked as a magazine editor, public relations coordinator and freelance writer. A two-time Folio Magazine Ozzie Award for Excellence in Magazine Editorial and Design winner, her work also has appeared in countless newspapers and magazines. She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her family.

Jan 8, 2013

New Release/Book Teaser: The Blood Gospel by James Rollins

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB; choose sentences at random from your current read. Identify author and title for readers. First Chapter, First Paragraph is hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea.

Title: The Blood Gospel (The Order of the Sanguines)
Published January 8, 2012; William Morrow
Genre: historical mystery

Opening sentences: 
Caesarea, Israel.  Dr. Erin Granger stroked her softest brush across the ancient skull. As the dust cleared, she studied it with the yes of a scientist, noting the tiny seams of bone, the open fontanel. Her gaze evaluated the amount of callusing, judging the skull to be that of a newborn, and from the angle of the pelvic bone, a boy. (ch. 1. From an advanced reader's edition. Final copy may differ.)
Book description: An earthquake in Masada, Israel, kills hundreds and reveals a tomb buried in the heart of the mountain. A trio of investigators explore the macabre discovery, a subterranean temple holding the crucified body of a mummified girl.

But a brutal attack at the site sets the three on the run, thrusting them into a race to recover what was once preserved in the tomb’s sarcophagus: a book rumored to have been written by Christ’s own hand, a tome that is said to hold the secrets to His divinity.... The answers to all go back to a secret sect within the Vatican, one whispered as rumor but whose very existence was painted for all to see by Rembrandt himself, a shadowy order known as the Sanguines. (publisher)

Another novel in the historial fiction genre of The DaVinci Code. Any takers? Would you continue reading?

Jan 5, 2013

Book Review: The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis


Title: The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis
Published November, 2011; Soho Crime, book and Kindle
Genre: mystery, thriller
Setting: Denmark

Nina Borg, a Red Cross nurse in Copanhagen, opens a suitcase that she had been asked to fetch from a public locker. In the suitcase is a naked boy, a three year old child barely breathing. Nina sets about finding the child's mother and the story surrounding her surprising discovery.

I almost had nightmares over this book. It was excellent as a thriller, but the story that it tells about the extent that some people will go to get what they or their loved ones want and need is chilling. I can't say more without revealing the story, but let's just say, it's not related to sex or child trafficking related to sex. Well written, with memorable characters and heart breaking situations, I can understand the book's best selling ranking.

I bought this book on Kindle.

Visit Cym Lowell's Book Review Wednesdays for more book reviews. 

Jan 3, 2013

100 Books in a Year Reading Challenge 2013 Met



I signed up with Book Chick City for the 100 Books in a Year challenge to read 100 or more books from January 1, 2013 to the end of the year. I joined the challenge again as I did the past two years. The ones I don't finish won't get on the list. Click on the titles to see reviews or information about the books I've read.

1. A Passionate Love Affair with a Total Stranger by Lucy Robinson, humorous women's fiction

 2. Merciless by Lori Armstrong, mystery *

 3. The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis, mystery *

4. A Whisper to a Scream by Karen Wojcik Berner, contemporary women's fiction *

5. Absolute Liability: Southern Fraud Suspense by J.W. Becton, mystery

6. Rally 'Round the Corpse by Hy Conrad, mystery

7. The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley, historical fiction

8. The Woman From Paris by Santa Montefiore, contemporary fiction

9. Birds in Paradise by Dorothy McFalls, Hawaiian mystery novella

10. Shimura Trouble by Sujata Massey, Hawaiian mystery *

11. The Midwife's Tale by Sam Thomas, historical mystery

12. The Blood Gospel by Rollins and Cantrell, sci-fi/fantasy

13. A Tainted Dawn: The Great War, Book 1 by B.N. Peacock, historical fiction

14. Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley, mystery *

15. The Lost Soul by Gabriella Pierce, paranormal, fantasy

16. The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin, historical fiction *

17. Perfect Hatred by Leighton Gage, police procedural, mystery *

18. Whip Smart: Lola Montez Conquers the Spaniards, by Kit Brennan, historical mystery

19. The Doctor of Thessaly by Anne Zouroudi, mystery

20. The Comfort of Lies by Randy Susan Meyers, contemporary fiction

21. The Secret of the Nightingale Palace by Dana Sachs, historical romance

22. The Burning Air by Erin Kelly, psychological suspense

23. A Cold and Lonely Place by Sara J. Henry, mystery

24. The Stonecutter by Camilla Lackberg, thriller

25. Seven Locks by Christine Wade, historical fiction

26. The Woman Who Wouldn't Die by Colin Cotterill, mystery

27. Murder Below Montparnasse by Cara Black, mystery

28. Prague Winter by Madeleine Albright, memoir

29. The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruis Zafon, literary fiction

30. The Missing File by D. A. Mishani, mystery

31. When Maidens Mourn by C. S. Harris, mystery

32. Undercurrents by Pamela Beason, mystery

33. The Boreal Owl Murder by Jan Dunlap, birding mystery

34. Rocamora by Donald Michael Platt, historical fiction

35. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, fiction

36. Have Mother, Will Travel by Claire and Mia Fontaine, memoir

37. Telling the Bees by Peggy Hesketh, fiction

38. The Man Who Turned Both Cheeks by Gillian Royes, mystery

39. The Great Escape by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, romance

40. Tiger Babies Strike Back by Kim Wong Keltner, memoir

41. Roses Have Thorns by Sandra Byrd, historical fiction

41. The Girl Who Married An Eagle by Tamar Myers, mystery

42. Blue Jeans and Coffee Beans by Joanne DeMaio, women's fiction

43. The Gods of Heavenly Punishment by Jennifer Cody Epstein, historical fiction

44. The Christie Curse by Victoria Abbott, cozy mystery

45. A Half Forgotten Song by Katherine Webb, fiction

46. Mayhem at the Orient Express by Kylie Logan, cozy mystery

47. The Wonder Bread Summer by Jessica Anya Blau

48. Lethal Outlook: A Psychic Eye Mystery by Victoria Laurie

49. Running With the Enemy by Lloyd Lofthouse, Vietnam historical novel, suspense

50. The Original 1982 by Lori Carson, fiction

51. Gaijin Cowgirl by Jame DiBiasio, adventure

52. I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag by Jennifer Gilbert, memoir

53. The Alley of Love and Yellow Jasmines by Shohreh Aghdashloo, memoir

54. Slingshot by Matthew Dunn, thriller

55. Blind Curves by Linda Crill, travel memoir

56. A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, fiction

57. The Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van Booy, literary fiction

58. The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley, historical fiction

59. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, fantasy

60. Snapper by Brian Kimberling, fiction

61. Candy and the Cankersaur by Jason Sandberg, illustrated picture ebook

62. Evil and the Mask by Fuminori Nakamura, thriller

63.  This Is Paradise by Kristiana Kahakauwila, literary fiction

64. Candy and the Cankersaur by Jason Sandberg, children's illustrated book

65. The Last Camellia by Sarah Jio, historical mystery

66. The Nine Fold Heaven by Mingmei Yip, historical novel

67. The Meryl Streep Movie Club by Mia March, women's fiction

68. Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw, fiction

69. Bend Not Break by Ping Fu, memoir

70. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan, fiction

71. The Third Son by Julie Wu, historical fiction

72. Redemption (A Conspiracy of Faith) by Jussi Adler-Olsen, Scandinavian thriller

73. Mystery Girl by David Gordon, fiction

74. The English Girl by Daniel Silva, thriller

75. Mystery Girl by David Gordon, mystery

76. Going Through the Notions by Cate Pric, cozy mystery

77. The Sound and the Furry by Spencer Quinn, mystery

78. Reese's Leap by Darcy Scott, mystery

79. Moonrise by Cassandra King, mystery

80. Murder by Syllabub by Kathleen Delaney, mystery

81. The Shogun's Daughter by Laura Joh Rowland, historical mystery

82. The Case of the Love Commandos by Tarquin Hall, mystery

83. I Am Venus by Barbara Mujica, historical fiction

84. A Secondhand Murder by Leslie A. Diehl, mystery

85. An Incurable Insanity by Simi K. Rao, fiction

86. Cartwheel by Jennifer DuBois, fiction, suspense

87. A Cold and Lonely Place by Sara J. Henry, mystery

88. The Pieces We Keep by Kristina McMorris, fiction, historical

89. Death of a Nightingale by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis, Scandinavian crime

90. Itsy Bitsy Spider by Willow Rose, thriller/horror

91. The Detachment by Barry Eisler, thriller

92. The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan, historical fiction

93. Paws for Murder by Annie Knox, cozy mystery

94. Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen, women's fiction

95. How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny, crime fiction

96. The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom, literary fiction

97. The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes, historical fiction, romance

98. Brady Needs a Nightlight by Brian Barlicks and illustrator Gregory Burgess Jones, children's book

99. The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty, women's fiction

100. Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford, literary fiction

101. The Yoga Face by Annalise Hagen, yoga, health

102. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, women's fiction
103. The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout, fiction
104. Larry's Kidney by Daniel Asa Rose, memoir
105. Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy by Elizabeth Kiem, YA novel
106. Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella, contemporary romance
107. Tahoe Chase by Todd Borg, thriller, suspense
108. How to Be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman, women's fiction, suspense
109. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

Books almost all read, but not quite...

1. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
2. The Death of Yesterday by M.C. Beaton, mystery

I began to star books I really liked, but then thought I'd have to star just about every one I read in 2013, so...the starring stopped. I don't normally finish books I don't like, unless they are for a book tour, and I don't recall hating any of those. So, you can just assume I loved all these books!

Louise Penny, Amy Tan, Laura Joh Rowland, Jussi Adler-Olsen, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Spencer Quinn, Ruth Ozeki, are among the many authors whose books I enjoyed. And there are others I have not listed here - I'd have to list too many! I have to keep adding to this list as I remember, from my goodreads list, other books I didn't include as yet.

Don't ask me to choose....but I do ask you. What were your favorite books in 2013?

I'm sending this list to semicolon's special edition of the Saturday Review of Books, a wrap up of books for 2013 by bloggers. Note that this list is of Books Read, as most, but not all, were reviewed. 

Jan 1, 2013

Book Review: A Passionate Love Affair with a Total Stranger by Lucy Robinson


- Title: A Passionate Love Affair with a Total Stranger by Lucy Robinson
- Release date: January 31, 2012; Penguin U.K.
- Genre: romance, humor
- Setting: Edinburgh, London

The title might lead you to think the book's genre is erotica but it's really humorous romance. There is at most a page or two that might fit into the erotica category, which I don't normally read. The book follows an improbable romance between an online dating director and a man she corresponds with on the web.

Charlotte (Charley) Lambert ghost writes email for her clients who are looking for love online but are too awkward to write their own email. Charley is really a communications officer for a pharmaceutical company in Scotland, but after a horrific accident and surgery, finds herself in a wheelchair for three months. To keep her sanity, she creates her online dating company, First Date Aid, which has her writing email for her clients to set them up with the men and women of their choice.

Then, Charley begins correspondence with a man named William, writing him for her client Shelley, a corporate businesswoman who says she is too busy to do it on her own.  Charley and William really hit it off through their conversations via email and Charley begins to fall in love with this William, who thinks he is writing to Shelley.

Charley's grungy flatmate, Sam, an aspiring actor who hasn't had any luck in his career in years, starts to help Charley with advertising and getting the word out about First Date Aid, which begins to take off as a viable company.  Then there is John, CEO of the pharmaceutical company where Charley works, whose ongoing flirtation with Charley has never led to serious romance.

What happens between Charley and William and Shelley and Sam and John is all the fun in this humorous novel, a modern romance that keeps you guessing as events spin in one direction and then in another. I had to cheer for Charley at one point when she did exactly what I did when a close member of the family died. What? Read it and see...

And who does Charley land up with in the end, if with anyone?

I recommend this as an excellent read for the beginning of the year, 2013.
Thanks to the publisher for a review copy of this book.