Waiting on Wednesday – Sept. 30

Waiting on Wednesday is at Breaking the Spine

Nigella Christmas by Nigella Lawson: Book Cover

  • Pub. Date: October 27, 2009
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Format: Hardcover, 288pp


Christmas is a time for family and friends, for tradition and treats. But, let’s face it, when the pressure to feed and entertain builds up, the festive season can start to lose its sparkle . . .

That’s where Nigella comes in. With her no-nonsense approach, her inspirational ideas, and her empathy for the practical realities of the season-combined here with reliable, easy-to-follow recipes and reassuring advice about planning and cooking ahead-Nigella Christmas is guaranteed to bring comfort and joy and make sure the season of good will stays that way.

Vision in White by Nora Roberts

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#1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts invites readers to the wedding event of the year!

#1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts presents her first trade original—a novel of love, friendship, and family—Book One in the Bride Quartet.

Wedding photographer Mackensie “Mac” Elliot is most at home behind the camera, but her focus is shattered moments before an important wedding rehearsal when she bumps into the bride-to-be’s brother…an encounter that has them both seeing stars.

A stable, safe English teacher, Carter Maguire is definitely not Mac’s type. But a casual fling might be just what she needs to take her mind off bridezillas. Of course, casual flings can turn into something more when you least expect it. And Mac will have to turn to her three best friends—and business partners—to see her way to her own happy ending.

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Vision in White is only the second book by Nora Roberts that I’ve read. It is the first of four books in the series. Initially, the cover is what caught my eye. The partial photograph of a bride is beautiful – which is fitting since the main character is a wedding photographer.

It was fun to watch the relationship blossom between Mackensie and Carter. Of course there are stumbling blocks placed in the way to their happily-ever-after but the ‘getting there’ made for an enjoyable way to spend a few hours reading.

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And now for a quick giveaway. I’m offering my gently-read copy of Vision in White. All you need to do is leave your email in the comment. Giveaway ends tomorrow (Wednesday, Sept. 30) at 9pm EDT. Open to US or Canada residents only. Good luck!
Contest has ended.

Sunday Summary – Sept. 27



I reviewedViola In Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani.
I read Instant Gratification by Jill Shalvis. It is the second in a series and I thought it was a pretty good romance.
My review for Angel Lane will be posted on Oct. 5 for Sheila Roberts’ blog tour.
My Friday Finds were two books by Barbara Bretton.
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We went to our final baseball game of the season – our boys lost. There’s always next year!
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All in all, a quiet week. That’s all about to change since the countdown to my son’s wedding has started. Less than two weeks to go. I still need to find shoes – wish me luck!

This photo is from last year. Right now the tree is just beginning to change color.
Autumn – my favorite season.

Viola In Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani

Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani: Book Cover


I’m marooned.
Left to rot in boarding school . . .
Viola doesn’t want to go to boarding school, but somehow she ends up at an all-girls school in South Bend, Indiana, far, far away from her home in Brooklyn, New York. Now Viola is stuck for a whole year in the sherbet-colored sweater capital of the world.
There’s no way Viola’s going to survive the year—especially since she has to replace her best friend Andrew with three new roommates who, disturbingly, actually seem to like it there. She resorts to viewing the world (and hiding) behind the lens of her video camera.
Boarding school, though, and her roommates and even the Midwest are nothing like she thought they would be, and soon Viola realizes she may be in for the most incredible year of her life.
But first she has to put the camera down and let the world in.

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Viola In Reel Life is the story of Viola Chesterton, age fourteen. Viola’s parents are documentary film-makers who are going to film in Afghanistan. They’ll be gone a year and Prefect Academy is the perfect place for Viola to spend that year. She hates leaving her BFFs back in Brooklyn – how will she ever get along without them?
At first, I thought Viola was a spoiled, self-centered girl. But I reminded myself of her age and the fact that her life was changing virtually overnight. I thought she seemed a bit too glib, too precocious in the opening chapters but I warmed up to the character and enjoyed seeing how she coped with her new life, new friends, new school, etc.
I’ll be recommending this book to my niece who is fifteen and rarely seen without a book. I think she’ll enjoy reading about Viola. I know I did!

Waiting on Wednesday – Sept. 23

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie: Book Cover

  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Pub. Date: January 26, 2010
  • ISBN-13: 9780553593365
  • Sales Rank: 40,135
  • 288pp


Linc Blaise needed the perfect fiancée to win his dream job, but finding a woman who’d be convincing in a charade seemed impossible—until he heard Daisy Flattery charm her way out of a sticky situation! Playing the prim and proper bride-to-be was a lark to the dazzling storyteller, but once she glimpsed the touching vulnerability Linc tried to hide, pretense turned into temptation. Could she find a way to make their fairy tale last?

In a deliciously funny and touching tale of opposites attracting, Jennifer Crusie warms hearts and tickles funnybones from start to finish! Daisy had made him believe in wondrous possibilities, drawn him into a world of passionate abandon, but was he brave enough to give her his love?

Sunday Summary – Sept. 20



I read and reviewed only one book last week – that’s unusual for me. The weather has been great (sunny and 70s) and I’ve been outside soaking it all in so that once the cold and snow arrive maybe I can remember these days and feel the warmth *smile*.
The book I read is 92 Pacific Boulevard by Debbie Macomber. My review is here. I’ve also been reading Angel Lane by Sheila Roberts. Review will be up in early October for the blog tour.
I highlighted Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro for the Waiting On Wednesday meme.
A new award (Dragon’s Loyalty Award) arrived on Friday from its creator: Carter. And then Missy passed it to me today. Thank you so much, ladies!
The photo is the clematis around my patio. It started to bloom this week. Click on the photo to make larger.

Waiting on Wednesday – Sept. 16

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

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  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Pub. Date: September 22, 2009
  • ISBN-13: 9780307271020
  • Sales Rank: 6,811
  • 240pp


One of the most celebrated writers of our time gives us his first cycle of short fiction: five brilliantly etched, interconnected stories in which music is a vivid and essential character.

A once-popular singer, desperate to make a comeback, turning from the one certainty in his life . . . A man whose unerring taste in music is the only thing his closest friends value in him . . . A struggling singer-songwriter unwittingly involved in the failing marriage of a couple he’s only just met . . . A gifted, underappreciated jazz musician who lets himself believe that plastic surgery will help his career . . . A young cellist whose tutor promises to “unwrap” his talent . . .
Passion or necessity—or the often uneasy combination of the two—determines the place of music in each of these lives. And, in one way or another, music delivers each of them to a moment of reckoning: sometimes comic, sometimes tragic, sometimes just eluding their…

92 Pacific Boulevard by Debbie Macomber

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92 Pacific Boulevard

Cedar Cove, Washington

Dear Reader,

I’m not much of a letter writer. As the sheriff here, I’m used to writing incident reports, not chatty letters. But my daughter, Megan—who’ll be making me a grandfather soon—told me I had to do this. So here goes.

I’ll tell you straight out that I’d hoped to marry Faith Beckwith (my onetime high school girlfriend) but she ended the relationship last month, even though we’re both widowed and available. There were a few misunderstandings between us, some of them inadvertently caused by Megan.

However, I’ve got plenty to keep me occupied, like the unidentified remains found in a cave outside town. And the fact that my friend Judge Olivia Griffin is fighting cancer. And the break-ins at 204 Rosewood Lane—the house Faith happens to be renting from Grace Harding…

If you want to hear more, come on over to my place or to the sheriff’s office—if you can stand the stale coffee!

Troy Davis

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92 Pacific Boulevard is the latest book in the Cedar Cove series by Debbie Macomber. This is such a relaxed and nice series. There are recurring main characters and then usually a few new ones in each book. Some of the story lines continue in successive books – which is fine with me because I don’t always like things tied up in a bow at the end of a book. There are a couple of mysteries in this installment. Will they be solved? You’ll have to read to find out. I guess this book could stand alone but I would recommend starting at the beginning. You’ll get to know the characters at a nice pace. I look forward to my next visit to Cedar Cove.

Sunday Summary – Sept. 13



Author Michelle Moran wrote about “Life and Libraries in the Classical Age”.
I read Cleopatra’s Daughterand Labor Day. Click the title links to read my thoughts.
Ms. Moran offered two books for a giveaway. One lucky reader won Cleopatra’s Daughter and another equally lucky reader won The Heretic Queen (new paperback). It was a pleasure to spend much of the past week in ancient Rome. I’ve added Nefertiti and The Heretic Queento my TBR list.
Oops! I received this award a couple of weeks ago:
Bingo Award

Thank you, Stacybuckeye!
This award was started by Bookin With BINGO.
This “B-I-N-G-O” BEAUTIFUL BLOG AWARD means that this blog is…
B: Beautiful
I: Informative
N: Neighborly
G: Gorgeous
O: Outstanding

Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

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Labor Day is not your run-of-the-mill love story. It’s about Henry – a shy, lonely 13 year old boy who lives with his emotionally fragile mother across town from his father and his new family. It’s almost Labor Day weekend which means school will be starting in a week. That is why Henry and his mother Adele go shopping for clothes at a local discount store. It’s at the store where they meet a stranger (Frank) and bring him home. And that is the start of a very unique love story.

Author Joyce Maynard explores some really interesting issues: the love between single parent and child; single parent and an unexpected chance for new love; and children of divorce feeling a lack of control over their lives. It’s a lot to cover in a novel that’s less than 250 pages but Ms. Maynard’s story is a satisfying one that I know I’ll be thinking about for quite a while.
Review copy from Book Club Girl

Waiting on Wednesday – Sept. 9

Jill hosts this meme at Breaking the Spine

The Perfect Christmas

The Perfect Christmas
MIRA Hardcover
September 29, 2009
ISBN13: 978-0778326823
16.95 U.S. /


What would make your Christmas perfect?

For Cassie Beaumont, it’s meeting her perfect match. Cassie, at thirty-three, wants a husband and kids, and so far, nothing’s worked. Not blind dates, not the Internet and certainly not leaving love to chance. What’s left? A professional matchmaker. He’s Simon Dodson, and he’s very choosy about the clients he takes on. Cassie finds Simon a difficult, acerbic know-it-all, and she’s astonished when he accepts her as a client.

Claiming he has her perfect mate in mind, Simon assigns her three tasks to complete before she meets him. Three tasks that are all about Christmas: being a charity bell ringer, dressing up as Santa’s elf at a children’s party and preparing a traditional turkey dinner for her neighbors (whom she happens to dislike). Despite a number of comical mishaps, Cassie does it all—and she’s finally ready to meet her match. But just like the perfect Christmas gift, he turns out to be a wonderful surprise!

For more info: Debbie Macomber’s website.

Cleopatra’s Daughter by Michelle Moran (and a giveaway)

A few years ago I read The Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George. It is a huge book (900+pages) that made me a fan of historical fiction. What a story! When I heard about Cleopatra’s Daughter, I was very interested to see how the story continued. Author Michelle Moran immerses the reader in Rome at the time of Octavian. After he conquered Egypt (and following the suicides of Marc Antony and Cleopatra), Octavian takes Cleopatra’s children back to Rome. The story, narrated by Cleopatra Selene, points out the differences (and a few similarities) of Rome and Alexandria. It also shows the paranoia and fear the Romans lived with – slaves and wealthy alike. The book is filled with familiar historical names (senators, poets, relatives of Caesar) and events.

There’s a mystery to be solved – who is Red Eagle? He’s making trouble for slave owners and must be stopped. Could he be a freedman? A close friend of Octavian? A slave? Moran writes about the treatment of slaves as well as all the classes in Roman society. She also portrays a judicial system that left much to be desired – open air courts are depicted where the verdicts were known before the facts of the case were laid out.

There are detailed descriptions of many Rome landmarks such as the Pantheon, Circus Maximus, and Roman Forum. Moran includes a map of Rome in the age of Augustus (Octavian) as well as a map of the Roman Empire (in the age of Augustus). A timeline is provided that leads up to the deaths of Marc Antony and Cleopatra. Also helpful is a glossary. I really appreciated finding out what happened to all the main characters in the Afterword. I’ve added a book to my TBR list from one of the many resources.

From the gorgeous cover to the last page, Cleopatra’s Daughter is a wonderful book and one that I recommend to fans of historical fiction, the Ptolemies, and the Roman Empire.
Review copy from Michelle Moran and Random House. Release date is September 15, 2009.

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Michelle Moran and Random House are providing a hardcover copy of Cleopatra’s Daughter and a paperback copy of The Heretic Queen for a giveaway! I’m going to do separate drawings.

To enter: leave your email in the comment box (sorry – no email, no entry). You also must tell me which book you would like to win.

If you want to enter for both books you must do two separate comments.

This giveaway is world-wide!

Giveaway ends at 9pm EDT, this Friday, Sept. 11. Winners will be announced on Saturday, Sept. 12.
Giveaway is now closed

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Guest Post by Michelle Moran

Today I’m very pleased to offer a guest post by Michelle Moran, author of Cleopatra’s Daughter.

Life and Libraries in the Classical Age

One of the most frequent questions I’m asked by readers is what life was like two thousand years ago when Julius Caesar walked the corridors of the Senate house and Cleopatra visited Rome. Surprisingly, life for the ancient Romans was not unbelievably different from today. The Romans had many of the little luxuries that we often associate exclusively with the modern world. For example, baths were to be found in every city, and public toilets were viewed as a necessity. The toilets depicted in HBO’s Rome Series are copies of those discovered in Pompeii, where those caught short could find a long stretch of latrines (much like a long bench with different sized holes) and relieve themselves next to their neighbor. Shops sold a variety of wigs, and women could buy irons to put curls their hair. For the rain, there were umbrellas, and for the sun, parasols. Houses for the wealthy were equipped with running water and were often decorated quite lavishly, with elaborate mosaics, painted ceilings, and plush carpets.

In the markets, the eager shopper could find a rich array of silks, along with linen and wool. You could also find slaves, and in this, Roman times certainly differ from our own. While some men spoke out against it, one in three people were enslaved. Most of these slaves came from Greece, or Gaul (an area roughly comprising modern France). Abuse was rampant, and the misery caused by this led desperate men like Spartacus to risk death for freedom.

For those few who were free and wealthy, however, life in Rome provided nearly endless entertainments. As a child, there were dolls and board games to be played with, and as an adult, there was every kind of amusement to be had, from the theatre to the chariot races. Even the poor could afford “bread and circuses,” which, according to Juvenal, was all the Romans were really interested in.

For those more academic minded, however, there were libraries. Although I don’t portray this in Cleopatra’s Daughter, libraries were incredibly noisy places. The male scholars and patrons read aloud to themselves and each other, for nothing was ever read silently (the Romans believed it was impossible!). Other cities were renowned for their learning, too: Pergamum (or Pergamon) was the largest and grandest library in the world. Built by the Greeks, Pergamum became Roman property when Greece was captured and many of its people enslaved. The library was said to be home to more than 200,000 volumes, and it is was in Pergamum that the history of writing was forever changed.

Built by Eumenes II, Pergamum inspired great jealousy in the Egyptian Ptolemies, who believed that their Library of Alexandria was superior. In order to cripple this Greek rival (and also because of crop shortages), Egypt ceased exporting papyrus, on which all manuscripts were written. Looking for an alternative solution, the Library of Pergamum began using parchment, or charta pergamena. For the first time, manuscripts were now being written on thin sheets of calf, sheep or goat’s skin. The result of this change from papyrus to parchment was significant. Now, knowledge could be saved by anyone with access to animal hide. Manuscripts (although still quite rare) were now available to more people. Alas, so impressive was this vast Pergamese library of parchment that Cleopatra asked Marc Antony to ship its entire contents to her as a wedding gift. This transfer marked the end of Pergamum’s scholarly dominance, and is the reason why, today, we remember Alexandria as possessing the ancient world’s greatest library.

The death of Cleopatra was only the beginning…

Check out Michelle’s blog at michellemoran.blogspot.com

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Thanks, Michelle. I really enjoyed this post and the links to your photos.

Sunday Summary – Sept. 6



I read two books – Bird in Hand and Sea Witch. You can read my thoughts if you click on the titles.
This week’s Waiting on Wednesday was Wishin’ and Hopin’ by Wally Lamb. It’s a Christmas story.
My Friday Find was The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton.
August books
Under Her Skin by Susan Mallery
There’s Only Been You by Donna Marie Rogers
The Widow’s Season by Laura Brodie
Table Manners by Mia King
The Way Life Should Be by Christina Baker Kline
So Into You by Sandra Hill
That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo
How to Tame a Modern Rogue by Diana Holquist

This was in a flowerpot around the patio

Waiting On Wednesday – Sept. 2

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  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Pub. Date: November 10, 2009
  • ISBN-13: 9780061941009
  • Sales Rank: 156,368
  • 288pp
Wally Lamb, the beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Hour I First Believed, I Know This Much Is True, and She’s Come Undone, delivers a holiday treat with Wishin’ and Hopin’—an unforgettable novella that captures the warmth and joy of the holiday season. Poignant and hilarious, in a vein similar to Jean Shepherd’s A Christmas Story and David Sedaris’s The Santaland Diaries, Lamb’s Christmas tale focuses on a feisty parochial school fifth grader named Felix Funicello—a distant cousin of the iconic Annette!

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine