A Quick Giveaway – White Picket Fences

I was part of the blog tour for White Picket Fences this week and would like to offer my copy to someone who really wants to read this book. See my original post to read what I thought about the book. If you’re interested, come back here to sign up for the giveaway.

White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner: Book Cover

I have to limit it to residents of the US

Leave your email in a comment by 9pm eastern, Friday, Nov. 13

I’ll post the winner on Saturday, Nov. 14 Good luck!

Giveaway now closed

Waiting on Wednesday – Nov. 11

Noah's Compass by Anne Tyler: Book Cover

Goodreads synopsis:

Liam Pennywell, who set out to be a philosopher and ended up teaching fifth grade, never much liked the job at that run-down private school, so early retirement doesn’t bother him. But he is troubled by his inability to remember anything about the first night that he moved into his new, spare, and efficient condominium on the outskirts of Baltimore. All he knows when he wakes up the next day in the hospital is that his head is sore and bandaged.

His effort to recover the moments of his life that have been stolen from him leads him on an unexpected detour. What he needs is someone who can do the remembering for him. What he gets is—well, something quite different.
We all know a Liam. In fact, there may be a little of Liam in each of us. Which is why Anne Tyler’s lovely novel resonates so deeply.

Product Details

  • Pub. Date: January 05, 2010
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Format: Hardcover, 288pp

Hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine

White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner – Blog Tour

White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner: Book Cover


Amanda Janvier’s idyllic home seems the perfect place for her niece Tally to stay while her vagabond brother is in Europe, but the white picket fence life Amanda wants to provide is a mere illusion. Amanda’s husband Neil refuses to admit their teenage son Chase, is haunted by the horrific fire he survived when he was four, and their marriage is crumbling while each looks the other way.

Tally and Chase bond as they interview two Holocaust survivors for a sociology project, and become startlingly aware that the whole family is grappling with hidden secrets, with the echoes of the past, and with the realization that ignoring tragic situations won’t make them go away.

* * * * * *

My thoughts:

I found White Picket Fences to be a cautionary tale of what can happen to people when they don’t want to upset the status quo. People usually keep secrets because they don’t want to cause pain or unhappiness for themselves or others – but that can sometimes have the opposite effect.

Although I thought this was a quiet novel, it made me feel anything but quiet. The first half slowly unveiled a few secrets and then events occurred that set the plot in motion. I won’t reveal more except to say that the pace picked up and I read the second half of the book without stopping.

My favorite characters were the two gentlemen who told their stories to Tally and Chase. Not only did they share their Holocaust memories but they gave wise advice to the two teens that helped them make decisions regarding issues in their own lives.

Susan Meissner’s novel is a touching tale. I’m glad I read the book and recommend it to readers of Contemporary fiction and YA fiction. An interview with the author is included. White Picket Fences would be a good family book club selection.

You can get more information about White Picket Fences here.

Review copy provided by WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group

Wishin’ and Hopin’ by Wally Lamb

Book Description

It’s 1964 and ten-year-old Felix is sure of a few things: the birds and the bees are puzzling, television is magical, and this is one Christmas he’ll never forget.

LBJ and Lady Bird are in the White House, Meet the Beatles is on everyone’s turntable, and Felix Funicello (distant cousin of the iconic Annette!) is doing his best to navigate fifth grade—easier said than done when scary movies still give you nightmares and you bear a striking resemblance to a certain adorable cartoon boy.

Back in his beloved fictional town of Three Rivers, Connecticut, with a new cast of endearing characters, Wally Lamb takes his readers straight into the halls of St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parochial School—where Mother Filomina’s word is law and goody-two-shoes Rosalie Twerski is sure to be minding everyone’s business. But grammar and arithmetic move to the back burner this holiday season with the sudden arrivals of substitute teacher Madame Frechette, straight from Québec, and feisty Russian student Zhenya Kabakova. While Felix learns the meaning of French kissing, cultural misunderstanding, and tableaux vivants, Wishin’ and Hopin’ barrels toward one outrageous Christmas.

From the Funicello family’s bus-station lunch counter to the elementary school playground (with an uproarious stop at the Pillsbury Bake-Off), Wishin’ and Hopin’ is a vivid slice of 1960s life, a wise and witty holiday tale that celebrates where we’ve been—and how far we’ve come.

* * * * * * *

My thoughts: Wishin’ and Hopin’ is an amusing novel about Felix Funicello (Annette is his third cousin) and his 5th grade year at St. Aloysius Gonzaga.

I really enjoyed reading about Felix and his classmates, teachers, and family. I went to Catholic elementary school (in the 1960s) and could relate to much of the story. Wally Lamb infused humor throughout the book. That said, there were a few times when I really felt sympathy for a couple of Felix’s classmates. The class is guided through the first semester by a memorable substitute teacher. Lamb’s story culminates in a hilarious Christmas program.

I recommend placing Wishin’ and Hopin’ on your reading list this season.

Review copy from HarperCollins

Sunday Summary – Nov. 8


Books reviewed last week:
Leaving Carolina by Tamara Leigh
Benny & Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti
To Desire a Devil by Elizabeth Hoyt
All the Right Angles by Stef Ann Holm
I’m hosting a giveaway of To Desire a Devil. It ends on Nov.11 so enter soon!
Sign up for the Book Blogger Holiday Swap ends on Nov.12. Click the button if you want to know the specifics.
The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris was my pick for Waiting on Wednesday. I liked his first novel Then We Came to the End.

National Bookstore Day

Today is National Bookstore Day. I plan to visit the nearest independent bookstore and buy a book or two. I buy from all different sources but I understand the importance of the small independent shops. I know times are tough for buyers as well as sellers and these days of price wars aren’t easy. So, today I’m going to champion the “little guy” and buy from Next Chapter Book Shop. Click the logo to visit their website.

All the Right Angles by Stef Ann Holm

Cover Image


Architect Francesca Moretti has always been taught to aim high, work hard and finish what you start. So when it falls to her–the baby of the family and only daughter–to head up the family construction business and see a high-profile project through to completion, there is no question of bailing out.

Still, it won’t be easy. Construction is a guys’ game–Franci will have to prove she’s just as comfortable in steel-toed work boots as in peep-toe heels. To make matters worse, the financing company has sent a glorified babysitter to oversee the project: nitpicking workaholic Kyle Jagger. The human watchdog is constantly looking over Franci’s shoulder–and not always at the blueprints. And Franci’s getting the distinct impression that Kyle is interested in a little more than just the bottom line.

* * * * * * *

My thoughts: When I post a review I usually include the synopsis from the book or one found on BN.com or Amazon.com. I’m not sure if the person who wrote this synopsis actually read the book but I want to say Kyle didn’t seem like a “nitpicking workaholic” or “human watchdog”.

I really liked All the Right Angles. It’s the first of three books. Franci and Kyle’s story was fun to watch unfold. I enjoyed reading about the Moretti family and can imagine a few possible story lines for the books that follow. Although I thought the ending was a bit too abrupt, this is a feel-good romantic novel and I recommend it.

To Desire a Devil – Blog Tour, Review, Giveaway

Back of the book:
After seven years in hellish captivity, Reynaud St. Aubyn busts into his ancestral home half mad with fever, demanding his due. Can this wild man truly be the last earl’s son, thought murdered by Indians?
Beatrice Corning is the niece of the present earl and a proper English miss. Yet she has a secret: No real man has ever excited her more than the handsome youth in a certain portrait. Now, suddenly, he’s here, in the flesh – and luring her into his bed.
Only Beatrice can see past Reynaud’s savage ways to the noble man inside. And Reynaud is drawn to this lovely lady, even as her loyalty to her uncle raises his suspicions. But can she tame a man who will stop at nothing to regain his title – even if it means sacrificing her innocence?

* * * * * * *

My thoughts:
Since the first book in The Legend of the Four Soldiers we’ve read about Reynaud St. Aubyn. When the four soldiers were fighting in the Colonies their unit was overtaken by a group of Indians. Most of the unit died but the four soldiers were captured and tortured. Three of them (the main characters of the previous three books) thought they witnessed the death of St. Aubyn. Throughout the series they’ve been searching for the traitor who tipped off the attackers where the soldiers would be on the fateful day. With the reappearance of St. Aubyn the four men resolve to find the traitor once and for all.

Another aspect of the novel is that Reynaud wants to reclaim his title which is now held by Beatrice’s uncle. She’s torn between her loyalty to the man who has raised her and her new love who she knows deserves his title. There’s political intrigue woven throughout the story, as well.

Elizabeth Hoyt wrote another exciting novel. I love her subtle and detailed character and setting descriptions. When I read her books I feel totally immersed in the story. To Desire a Devil was no exception. The romance between Reynaud and Beatrice was intense and sometimes startling. Hoyt is known for her wicked hot romantic scenes and it holds true in this book. There’s also an exciting dramatic sequence that made me wonder how the book would conclude. I’m sorry to see the series end. I recommend this book (and the rest of the series) to fans of Historical Romance.

visit ElizabethHoyt.com for more information

Review copy provided by Hachette Book Group


* * * * * * *

Hachette Book Group has allowed me to offer 5 copies of To Desire a Devil for a giveaway.

* Open to residents of US and Canada
* No PO Boxes

To enter:
Tell me why you’d like to win this book and then leave your name AND email all in one comment. That’s it! Remember: everything in one comment.

Contest ends Wednesday, Nov. 11th at 9pm (eastern)

Contest Closed

Waiting on Wednesday – Nov. 4

Cover Image

  • Pub. Date: January 18, 2010
  • Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
  • Format: Hardcover, 320pp


He was going to lose the house and everything in it.

The rare pleasure of a bath, the copper pots hanging above the kitchen island, his family-again he would lose his family. He stood inside the house and took stock. Everything in it had been taken for granted. How had that happened again? He had promised himself not to take anything for granted and now he couldn’t recall the moment that promise had given way to the everyday.

Tim Farnsworth is a handsome, healthy man, aging with the grace of a matinee idol. His wife Jane still loves him, and for all its quiet trials, their marriage is still stronger than most. Despite long hours at the office, he remains passionate about his work, and his partnership at a prestigious Manhattan law firm means that the work he does is important. And, even as his daughter Becka retreats behind her guitar, her dreadlocks and her puppy fat, he offers her every one of a father’s honest lies about her being the most beautiful girl in the world.

He loves his wife, his family, his work, his home. He loves his kitchen. And then one day he stands up and walks out. And keeps walking.

THE UNNAMED is a dazzling novel about a marriage and a family and the unseen forces of nature and desire that seem to threaten them both. It is the heartbreaking story of a life taken for granted and what happens when that life is abruptly and irrevocably taken away.

Hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine

Benny & Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti

Benny & Shrimp

Book flap:
It started in a cemetery, where they begrudgingly share a bench. “Shrimp”, the childless young widow and librarian with a sharp intellect and a home so tidy that her jam jars are in alphabetical order, meets Benny, the gentle, overworked milk farmer who fears becoming the village’s Old Bachelor. Both driven by an enormous longing and loudly ticking biological clocks, they can’t escape the powerful attraction between them.
But how will she learn to accept that he falls asleep at the opera and has a house full of his mother’s cross-stitch? And how could he ever feel at home in her minimalist apartment, bare as a dentist’s waiting room?

* * * * * * *

First I’d like to thank Katrina for sending me her copy of Benny & Shrimp. This slim novel was as addicting as the blurb on the cover claimed. The chapters are 3-4 pages and alternate between Benny and Shrimp’s version of the same story. It’s a rather quiet story that had me smiling much of the time.

The main characters are in their mid-late 30s and getting worried that life is passing them by. Instead of observing, they want to participate in life. So they take a leap and strike up an unlikely friendship that becomes much more – but what? They reach a point where they know it’s time to make a big decision.

I don’t want to give away any more of the book but I will encourage you to make time to read Benny & Shrimp. I’m glad I did and hope you will enjoy it as much as I did. Thanks again, Katrina!

Note: Also included in the book is a Q&A with the author as well as discussion questions. In the interview Katarina Mazetti says she wrote a sequel a few years after Benny & Shrimp was published. Has anyone read it? I searched online but didn’t find any mention of it. Maybe there isn’t an English translation yet.

Leaving Carolina by Tamara Leigh – Blog Tour


Piper Wick left her hometown of Pickwick, North Carolina, twelve years ago, shook the dust off her feet, ditched her drawl and her family name, and made a new life for herself as a high-powered public relations consultant in LA. She’s even “engaged to be engaged” to the picture-perfect U.S. Congressman Grant Spangler.

Now all of Piper’s hard-won happiness is threatened by a reclusive uncle’s bout of conscience. In the wake of a health scare, Uncle Obadiah Pickwick has decided to change his will, leaving money to make amends for four generations’ worth of family misdeeds. But that will reveal all the Pickwicks’ secrets, including Piper’s.

Though Piper arrives in Pickwick primed for battle, she is unprepared for Uncle Obe’s rugged, blue-eyed gardener. So just who is Axel Smith? Why does he think making amends is more than just making restitution? And why, oh why, can’t she stay on task? With the Lord’s help, Piper is about to discover that although good PR might smooth things over, only the truth will set her free.

* * * * * * *

Piper Pickwick tries to live a good and honest life but, like most of us, she has things she needs to work on. When she is called back to her hometown she gets the opportunity and time to work on correcting past wrongs. It took me several pages to get into the rhythm of Leaving Carolina but once I did, the pace picked up and I quickly finished reading the book.

Two of my favorite characters in the book help Piper realize that life can be good when you face your past instead of run from it. Those two are Uncle Obe and Axel Smith. Obe has received a diagnosis of dementia and wants to make things right in his own life. Piper has always been his favorite relative and she feels the same about him. Axel is Obe’s godson and works as gardener on Obe’s estate. Obe thinks Axel (who has had several challenges in his life) could be a good match for his niece. The story moves in several directions and never failed to keep my attention.

There are several interesting characters in addition to my favorites. Two of them will be featured in a second book due out in 2010. I would recommend this novel to readers who enjoy Chick Lit and Contemporary Christian Fiction.

You can find more information about Leaving Carolina here.

Review book fromWaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group

Sunday Summary – Nov. 1



I read a few books this week:
Chosen By Desire (review)
Chocolate: A Love Story (review)
A Highlander’s Temptation (review)
To Desire a Devil (review to be posted this week)
The Waiting On Wednesday pick this week was Forbidden Falls – you can read about it here. It’s the newest addition to Robyn Carr’s Virgin River series and I’m really looking forward to that.
I hope my Friday Finds pick will be as good as it sounds. The Three Weissmanns of Westport is due out in February, 2010.
I changed the background on the blog – which I’ve been doing almost monthly. Can you believe November is here already? Daylight Saving Time is over in the US. The holidays are almost upon us and I’m looking forward them.
Happy reading!
October books:
This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber
Hugh and Bess by Susan Higginbotham
To Taste Temptation by Elizabeth Hoyt
Leaving Carolina by Tamara Leigh (Book #100)
To Seduce a Sinner by Elizabeth Hoyt
Lakeshore Christmas by Susan Wiggs
White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner
Chosen By Desire by Kate Perry
To Desire a Devil by Elizabeth Hoyt
A Highlander’s Temptation by Sue-Ellen Welfonder