2009 Challenges Wrap-up

2009 Completed Challenges
Alternative Name
1st level – 12 books
1. The Sixteen Pleasures by Robert Hellenga
2. Philosophy Made Simple by Robert Hellenga
4. Espresso Shot by Cleo Coyle
5. The Long Walk Home by Will North
6. Eating Heaven by Jennie Shortridge
7. Everyone is Beautiful by Katherine Center
8. Sweet Love by Sarah Strohmeyer
9. Shelter Me by Juliette Fay
10. Instant Attraction by Jill Shalvis
11. The Last Chance Cafe by Linda Lael Miller
12. Wings by Aprilynne Pike
* * * * *
(Read at least 5 Romance novels)
1. The Shell Seekers by R. Pilcher
2. Snowbound by J. K. Johnson
3. It Had To Be You by S.E. Phillips
4. Hotby Julia Harper
5. Paradise Valley by Robyn Carr
6. Too Good to be True by Kristan Higgins
7. The Lost Recipe for Happiness by Barbara O’Neal
8. Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler
(I read more but stopped listing for the challenge)
* * * * *
(Read 10 eBooks)
1.Snowbound by Janice Kay Johnson
2. The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
3. It Had To Be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
4. Knit Two by Kate Jacobs
5. Hot by Julia Harper
6. That Old Cape Magicby Richard Russo
7. The Lost Recipe for Happiness by Barbara O’Neal
8. Irresistible by Susan Mallery
9. Welcome to Serenityby Sherryl Woods
11.How to Tame a Modern Rogue by Diana Holquist
12.Sea Witch by Virginia Kantra
13.All the Right Angles by Stef Ann Holm
14. Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby
15. All That Matters by Stef Ann Holm
16.The Christmas Bus by Melody Carlson
17. At Home in Stone Creek by Linda Lael Miller
* * * * *
(Read 1-5 books)
Bed and Breakfast by Lois Battle
On Strike For Christmas by Sheila Roberts
Blue Christmas by Mary Kay Andrews
The Christmas Bus by Melody Carlson

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Shadow of the Wind

Barcelona, 1945—A great world city lies shrouded in secrets after the war, and a boy mourning the loss of his mother finds solace in his love for an extraordinary book called The Shadow of the Wind, by an author named Julian Carax. When the boy searches for Carax’s other books, it begins to dawn on him, to his horror, that someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book the man has ever written. Soon the boy realizes that The Shadow of the Wind is as dangerous to own as it is impossible to forget, for the mystery of its author’s identity holds the key to an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love that someone will go to any lengths to keep secret. – Goodreads synopsis.

* * * * * * *

Reading this novel was like peeling an onion. Every time a layer of the story was revealed another was waiting to be told. I really enjoyed the experience of reading it. Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s writing is so descriptive that I felt I was an observer within the story – eavesdropping on the street or outside a window. The book is full of humor, passion, and intrigue. The Shadow of the Wind is Zafon’s wonderful gift to book lovers and I’m so glad I read it.

I recommend a visit to the author’s website for more information including an essay on why he writes. You’ll also find music composed and performed by the author for The Shadow of the Wind.

My 2009 Favorite books list

Here it is – My 2009 Favorite Books List. These are books that I read in 2009 but were not necessarily published this year. You can click the covers for my reviews. I think 2009 was my best reading year ever. My thanks and appreciation to the authors. The books are in the order that they were read.

Last Days of SummerUnaccustomed EarthToo Good To Be TrueEating Heaven
Shelter MeThe HelpLove Walked In
Shades of Gray: A Novel of the Civil War in VirginiaThe Lace Makers of GlenmaraCleopatra's Daughter

This Is Where I Leave YouHugh and BessBenny & ShrimpThe Secret of Everything: A NovelThe Shadow of the Wind

The Secret of Everything by Barbara O’Neal

The Secret of Everything by Barbara O'Neal: Book Cover

Tessa Harlow enjoyed leading hiking tours until the hike that had a nightmarish ending. Feeling tremendous guilt and responsibility for the incident she goes to her father’s home to heal. From the time of the accident she has flashbacks from her early childhood – memories that don’t make sense. Feeling a pull to the area where she spent the first years of her life, Tessa heads to New Mexico to scout possible hiking tours and that’s where her journey really begins. By meeting people who are new to her but from her past Tessa starts to put pieces together that lead her to the truth of her early years.

I enjoyed Tessa’s journey of discovery and how she learns to make reparations. It seems that more than a few characters in the book are looking for a way to make amends in their lives and find that they can help each other along the way. The depth given to the major characters had me pulling for each one. My favorite was Natalie, the daughter of Tessa’s lover. Natalie is grieving the loss of her mother and is acting out. Tessa feels a connection and wants to help her. I loved how the author makes that happen.

Barbara O’Neal’s writing is beautiful and evocative. Her descriptions of sights, smells, and sounds give wonderful atmosphere to Los Ladrones – the small New Mexico town where the story takes place.

I enjoyed reading The Secret of Everything and look forward to more novels by Barbara O’Neal.

Review copy from Random House (via LibraryThing Early Reviewers)

Truly, Madly by Heather Webber

Truly, Madly: A Novel

Truly, Madly is a fun, entertaining and romantic mystery. Lucy Valentine has a gift. She can find lost things or people. When Lucy fills in for her father at the family business (a match-making business called Valentine, Inc.) one of her first clients asks her to track down a former love. While looking for this person, Lucy finds another mystery to solve. Add to the mix Sean Donahue, the handsome PI who works in the office above Lucy’s, and you’ve got the makings for a fun series. I liked the supporting characters and the twists along the way to solving the mystery and I look forward to the next book by Heather Webber.

This book will be available February 2010.
You can read more about the author and her books here.

Review copy from Goodreads First Reads

Mailbox Monday – Dec. 28


Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists. Mailbox Monday is hosted at The Printed Page. Click the covers for book info.
Cover Image
From Lynne (another Secret Santa gift!)
The Blue Bistro Savannah Breeze
and a lovely Celtic bookmark