Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

There are few words


image via Syndetics

MacKinlay Kantor seems like he was a pretty great guy.  While growing up in Iowa, he added an “a” to his middle name, McKinlay, because he thought it made it more Scottish; during WWII, while riding along on some bombing missions on assignment for an L.A. newspaper, he asked to be trained and allowed to use the plane’s turret machine guns (you know, just in case); and then, there’s this picture.

Levity aside, Kantor seems to have found his experiences in WWII quite formative.  Present at the liberation of the  Buchenwald concentration camp he was convinced to try and tell the story of an American “concentration camp”, Camp Sumter, a.k.a. Andersonville, bane of Union troops during the American Civil War.  There are few words.  Andersonville the prison was a living nightmare.  Extant images of survivors defy imagination.  Simply put, the design, execution, and maintenance of the camp was an atrocity visited upon mankind that has few peers.  It cost one of the Confederate officers in charge, Henry Wirz, his life for war crimes.

Kantor’s writing about the subject has a simple outward structure, yet is entirely compelling.  His characters live and breathe and have a piquant amount of human sensuality.  He is generous to many, even Henry Wirz, giving the lie to easy answers about responsibility for the evil that was Andersonville.  He is able to bring stories he heard face-to-face with Civil War veterans during his boyhood into play within the narrative, humanizing all sides of the conflict.  And he knows when to provide his readers with a miracle.  Contrary to my title for this post, Kantor uses many words in his story of Andersonville.  Some of the details are so overwhelming and the breadth of the book so great, readers could easily begin to lose hope of ever reaching the end or having any reason to.  A miracle (or two!) in the narrative leaves us with a residue of hope by the end and a reason to bother reflecting upon the history that contains such a happening.

“Craig is reading all of the Pulitzer-prize winning novels in chronological order.  See the origins of this journey here.”

Read Full Post »

I know, I know, it’s still warm out. But publishing companies want to make sure you have those books you need to get you through those cold winter nights that are just around the corner. Here is the list of upcoming books for the period of September 15 to October 14, 2015. Those are the publishing dates, not the dates they will appear at a library near you.

Historical romances take place before 1945. A heavy emphasis is placed on the development of a romantic relationship. Subgenres include medievals, American West and regencies.


Jennifer Ashley

The Stolen Mackenzie Bride
Mackenzies series
September 29


Suzanne Enoch

Some Like it Scot
Scandalous Highlanders series
October 6


Madeline Hunter

Tall, Dark and Wicked
Wicked series
October 6

h_leigh (2)

Eva Leigh aka Zoe Archer

Forever Your Earl
Wicked Quills of London series
September 29


Julie Anne Long

The Legend of Lyon Redmond
Pennyroyal Green series
September 29

Historical Fiction normally takes place before 1945. Focus is on the lives, scandals and issues facing the characters, light emphasis on romance. A large percentage of these stories are fictionalized stories of real people. Phillipa Gregory is a HF author.


Jane Thynne

The Scent of Secrets
September 15


Adriana Trigiani

All the Stars in the Heavens
October 13

Contemporary Romance is in modern times; these stories place an emphasis on the development of a romantic relationship. Vary in tone, sensuality and content – may contain light suspense. Settings vary, but most take place in North America.
Mainstream Fiction are usually set in the present day, though occasionally will be set at any time after WWII, and the development of a romantic relationship is not a main focus of the plot. Subgenres include women’s fiction, chick lit, lad lit and literary fiction.


Corban Addison

The Tears of Dark Water
October 13


Diane Chamberlain

Pretending to Dance
October 6


Sonali Dev

The Bollywood Bride
Contemporary Romance
September 29


Susan Fox

Love Somebody Like You
Caribou Crossing series
Contemporary Romance
September 29


Elin Hilderbrand

Winter Stroll
sequel to Winter Street
October 13


Debbie Mason

Snowbound at Christmas
Christmas, Colorado series
September 29


Kate Meader

Playing with Fire
Hot in Chicago series
September 29


Jeanette Murray

Against the Ropes
First to Fight series
Contemporary Romance
October 6


Carla Neggers

A Knights Bridge Christmas
Swift River Valley series
Contemporary Romance
September 29


Jill Shalvis

All I Want
Animal Magnetism series
Contemporary Romance
October 6


Fiona Sussman

Another Woman’s Daughter
October 6


Sherryl Woods

Willow Brook Road
Chesapeake Shores series
Contemporary Romance
September 29

Mysteries take place in different settings and time periods, but solving a mystery (often, but not always, a murder) is the main focus of the plot.
Thrillers take place in all different locations and time periods. The primary focus of the plot revolves around a major threat. Usually there is a time limit in which lives must be saved. These books may include a romantic subplot, but it does not drive the main story.
Suspense takes place in all different settings and time periods. Like mysteries, there is a truth to uncover or a criminal to find, but the why is emphasized as opposed to the who. Romance may be included, but is not the focus.
Romantic Suspense places a heavy emphasis on the development of a romantic relationship as jeopardy, lies, deceit and killers often stalk the hero or heroine. The sensuality and violence varies from book to book depending on the author.


Tasha Alexander

The Adventuress
Lady Emily series
October 13


Laurien Berenson

The Bark Before Christmas
Melanie Travis series
September 29


Heather Blake

Ghost of a Potion
Magic Potion Mystery series
October 6


Jessica Clare

Jen Frederick

Last Hope
Hitman series
Romantic Suspense
September 29


Catherine Coulter

J.T. Ellison

The End Game
A Brit in the FBI series
September 15


John Fortunato

Dark Reservations
October 13


Peter James

Your are Dead
Roy Grace series
October 6


Iris Johansen

Shadow Play
Eve Duncan series
September 29


Jon Land

Strong Light of Day
Caitlin Strong series
October 13


Anne Perry

Corridors of the Night
William Monk series
September 15


Julie Rowe

Lethal Game
Biological Response Team series
Romantic Suspense
October 12


Karin Slaughter

Pretty Girls
September 29

Paranormal Romance takes place in all different settings and time periods. The focus of the plot is on the effect of supernatural or paranormal elements on the characters’ lives as they pursue a romantic relationship. Usually vampire, werewolf, shapeshifters, ghosts involved in romance.
Fantasy takes place in all different settings and time periods. The focus of the plot is primarily on the effect of magical elements on the characters’ lives, often while the characters are on a quest. Some popular themes are historical fantasy, mythical creatures and magical abilities.
Science Fiction takes place in all different settings and time periods. The focus of the plot is primarily on the effect of science innovations, or imagined scientific principles, on the characters lives.
Urban Fantasy are most often told in first-person narration. This person has to deal with supernatural and paranormal elements that are incorporated into our own world. The tales usually continue throughout a series rather than being finished in a single book. These novels are most frequently set in contemporary times, often in large urban areas. Strong women are a feature in this genre.


Jim Butcher

The Aeronaut’s Windlass
The Cinder Spires series
September 29


Jan DeLima

Autumn Moon
Celtic Wolves series
September 29


Jacquelyn Frank

Bound by Sin
Immortal Brothers series
September 29


Laura Anne Gilman

Silver on the Road
The Devils West series
October 6


Heather Graham

The Hidden
Krewe of Hunters series
September 29


Ann Leckie

Ancillary Mercy
Imperial Radch trilogy
Science Fiction
October 6


Erin Lindsey

The Bloodforged
Bloodbound series
September 29


Ilana C. Myer

Last Song Before Night
September 29


Diana Rowland

White Trash Zombie Gone Wild
White Trash Zombie series
Urban Fantasy
October 6


Greg Van Eekhout

Dragon Coast
Sequel to  California Bonesand Pacific Fire
September 15


Rachel Vincent

Menagerie series
September 29

Young Adult books generally focus on teenage heroes and heroines and can be part of any subgenre.


Kelley Armstrong

The Masked Truth
October 13


Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows
Grisha trilogy spinoff
September 29


Kendare Blake

September 22


Sarah Crossan

September 15


Alex Flinn

September 15


Aaron Hartzler

What We Saw
September 22


Julie Murphy

September 15


Sarah Prineas

Ash & Bramble
September 15


Ransom Riggs

Library of Souls
Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series
September 22


Sherry Thomas

The Immortal Heights
Elemental trilogy
October 13

Erotica takes place in different settings and time periods. The focus of the story is evolves around a variety of sexual exploits and not always is there a “happily ever after.”


Jackie Ashenden

You Are Mine
Circle Nine series
October 6


Shayla Black

Wicked for You
Wicked Lovers series
October 6


Sarah Castille

Sinner’s Steel
Sinner’s Tribe Motorcycle Club series
October 6


HelenKay Dimon

Holton Woods series
October 6


Christina Lauren

Dark Wild Night
Wild seasons series
September 15


M. O’Keefe

Everything I Left Unsaid
Everything I Left Unsaid series
October 13


Meredith Wild

Hard Love
Hacker series
September 15

Inspirational Fiction take place across many different time periods and genres. Most contain strong religious themes and are predominantly Christian. Rarely are sex scenes included in these stories. However, some novels in the subcategories of suspense and thriller may contain some scenes of violence.


Ted Dekker

A.D. 33
October 6


Lynne Gentry

Valley of Decision
The Carthage Chronicles series
September 15


Shelley Shepherd Gray

A Wedding at Orange Blossom Inn
Amish Brides of Pinecraft series
September 15


Lisa Harris

Nikki Boyd Files series
September 29


Dorothy Love

A Respectable Actress
October 13


Kim Vogel Sawyer

When Love Returns
Old Order Mennonites of Arborville series
September 22


Lauraine Snelling

Streams of Mercy
Songs of Blessing series
October 6

Read Full Post »

“Sing along with us
Dee dee dee-dee dee
Dah dah dah-dah dah
Yeah we’re hap-happy
Dah dah-dah
Dee-dah-do dee-dah-do dah-do-dah
Dah-dah-dah do-dah-dah

We’re no threat, people
We’re not dirty, we’re not mean
We love everybody but we do as we please
When the weather’s fine
We go fishin’ or go swimmin’ in the sea
We’re always happy
Life’s for livin’ yeah, that’s our philosophy” – Mungo Jerry

Time for a great song!! Time for an upcoming book! New releases coming for August 15, 2015 and September 14, 2015. These dates are publishing dates. And now before summer ends, sing along to that meaningful classic In the Summertime by Mungo Jerry … ahhh the ’70s.

Historical romances take place before 1945. A heavy emphasis is placed on the development of a romantic relationship. Subgenres include medievals, American West and regencies.


Mary Balogh

Only a Kiss
Survivor’s Club series
September 1


Kerrigan Byrne

The Highwayman
To Tempt a Highlander series
September 1


Tessa Dare

When a Scot Ties the Knot
Castles Ever After series
August 25


Meredith Duran

Luck Be a Lady
Rules for the Reckless series
August 25


Amanda Forester

The Highlander’s Bride
Highland Trouble series
September 1


Shana Galen

The Rogue You Know
Covent Garden Cubs series
September 1


Karen Hawkins

The Prince and I
Oxenburg Princes series
August 25


Karen Ranney

Scotsman of My Dreams
MacIain series
August 25


Sue-Ellen Welfonder

To Desire a Highlander
Scandalous Scots series
August 25


Read Full Post »

You know sometimes you fall into a reading rut. Sometimes, you find yourself being less then happy over all the new books that you’re reading. Are you bored with the book that’s in your little hands? Do you find yourself asking: “How did this ever get published?” A lot of people who find themselves in a reading rut will change reading genres. I on the other hand pick up an oldie but goodie — a comfort read, shall we say.  Time for a cleansing breath.

To get out of my downward book spiral, I decided to reread 9780060549312_p0_v1_s260x420Something About Emmaline by Elizabeth Boyle from 2005.  My memory is really hazy when it comes to this book. All I remember is the first time I read it, it made me smile — maybe even laugh. I think I always give a higher nod to books that make me laugh. This story has an amusing set-up. Our hero, Alexander Denford, Baron Sedgwick, is tired of marriage-minded people. Everywhere he turns he’s tripping over some nubile girl with wedding bells on her mind. And if she doesn’t have those wedding bell tunes, her mother and even his grandmother have plans to see him wed. What’s a fella to do? Well, he and his drink-too-much buddy Jack come up with a foolproof plan that will stop all of these women from bothering him. He pretends to have a wife, Emmaline. He makes up a story about his sickly wife who can never make an appearance in society — why she’s almost at death’s door. But not completely because he has to keep her alive to keep all the women away. And, it works — or at least he thinks it works. Little does he know that he and Jack were overheard when they were coming up with their grandiose scheme.

Just when Alex is all comfy in his no-women-bothering-me-dream-world, he starts getting bills. Bills from carpenters, drapers, painters and dressmakers. It seems that his fake wife Emmaline is spending his money. It’s not long before he’s off to London to confront the imposter and the fun begins.


Read Full Post »

Glass DemonBook Review:  The Glass Demon by Helen Grant

“Teenager Lin Fox is a stranger in a strange land — Germany, where her father has come on a quixotic quest to locate a priceless artifact. The medieval (and possibly mythical) Allerheiligen stained glass is believed by some to be lost, by others to have been destroyed, and by virtually all to be haunted. A mysterious letter persuades Dr. Oliver Fox that he can be the one to find it — but someone else is determined to ensure that the glass stays hidden forever.

First, an elderly stranger is found dead in an orchard, then one of Oliver’s contacts is mysteriously drowned — both bodies inexplicably surrounded by shards of colored glass. As dark superstitions simmer, Lin embarks on her own search to find the glass. As her life comes to resemble the grimmest of fairy tales, she realizes that what she must find is not only the truth about the legendary glass but a way to save the lives of those she loves.”  Book description.

A suspenseful blend of legend, mystery, and horror – Grant certainly demonstrates a deft touch in her storytelling.  I loved the legend of the Allerheiligen stained glass, as well as the Gothic setting with its crumbling ruins, dark forests, and brooding priests.  Claustrophobic, eerie, and nicely plotted, the only aspect of the book that didn’t quite convince me was the relationship between Lin and Michael; it was a bit jumpy, but it didn’t detract from the story.  I must add that I desperately wanted to see the Allerheiligen stained glass for myself – I’ll have to settle for googling images of the Steinfeld stained glass windows from which Grant drew inspiration for the story.  Looking forward to reading her first book, The Vanishing of Katharina Linden!

Read Full Post »

Giddy-up lil’ cowpokes, it’s time for the next round-up of a few upcoming releases! And, listen pardner, these here are the release dates not the dates they might be in a library near you.

Historical romances take place before 1945. A heavy emphasis is placed on the development of a romantic relationship. Subgenres include medievals, American West and regencies.



Tremaine’s True Love
True Gentlemen series
August 8



A Fashionable Indulgence
Society of Gentleman series
August 11, 2015



Lady Be Good
Rules for the Reckless series
July 28



The Marriage Act, ebook
July 27



If He’s Noble
Wherlocke series
July 28



The Art of Sinning
Sinful Suitors series
July 21



The Highlander Takes a Bride
July 28


Lauren Willig

The Lure of the Moonflower
Pink Carnation series
August 4


Read Full Post »

adas-rulesBook Review:  Ada’s Rules by Alice Randall

When she receives an invitation to her 25 year college reunion, signed with a wink by her first love, Ada starts comparing her life then and now.  For years she’s been taking care of everyone but herself: her husband, his congregation, her daycare, her parents, her daughters.  She’s gained 100 pounds or so since her college days and she’s lost 3 sisters to diabetes; she also suspects her husband is cheating on her.  Ada decides it’s time for a health and beauty revival and starts listing some rules, the first being Don’t Keep Doing What You’ve Always Been Doing.

The grammar drove me nuts at times but I adore Ada.  It was all too easy for me to identify with her sense of having somehow lost herself over the years.  It was also all too easy for me to identify with her body image/health concerns.  I loved witnessing her journey as she sets goals for herself, makes progress, stumbles, and gets right back on track.  I loved that her transformation wasn’t simply about weight; it was really more about learning to make herself a priority and learning to assert herself.  Part Fiction, part Self Help, Ada’s Rules is an inspirational look at one woman’s year of self-discovery.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: