In My Mailbox/Mailbox Monday – May 30/31


First Comes Marriage  A Touch of Scandal  Hannah's List The Angel's Game (Paperback)
First Comes Marriage by Mary Balogh (Goodreads First Reads)
A Touch of Scandal by Jennifer Haymore – giveaway win My Guilty Pleasures blog
$50 gift card/Hannah’s List – giveaway from Words To Mouth and Debbie Macomber (watch for a giveaway of this copy of Hannah’s List soon because I received two).
The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon – I bought for me : )

Sunday Summary – May 30


It was fun to follow the book bloggers who were at BEA/BBC.  I loved hearing about all the authors and books.  For those bloggers who couldn’t get to NYC there was Armchair BEA.  Many thanks to Danielle, Emily, Florinda, Michelle and Tif for organizing a wonderful week of activities for us.  I visited many new blogs and enjoyed all the topics discussed.

I was pleased to have author Jodi Thomas guest blog on Thursday.  Her new book Welcome to Harmony will be in stores on June 1st.  It’s the first in a new series and I can’t wait to read the second book.  Check out the giveaway  – it ends June 2.

Books read this week:

Cars from a Marriage For the Love of Pete  Seduce Me 


Books reviewed on the blog this week:
Welcome to Harmony  Shut Up and Kiss Me

Show Me 5 Saturday – Shut Up And Kiss Me by Christie Craig

1 Book title: Shut Up and Kiss Me by Christie Craig

2 Words that describe the book: Romance/Suspense

3 Settings or characters:
*  Shala Winters, hired to make Precious, TX (pop. 893)  a tourist destination
*  Sky Gomez, police chief of Precious, needs to find out who’s trying to kill Shala Winters
*  Jose Darkwater, foster brother to Sky.  He left Precious years ago for NYC .  When he returns to see his injured father nothing goes right

4 Things I liked/disliked about the book:
I liked the quirky minor characters
I enjoyed  Christie Craig’s humor, had me laughing out loud a lot.
I think Jose needs his own book, it would be hilarious (if this book is any indication)
I liked the small-town aspect – where everyone knows everyone.  That usually makes things interesting.

5 Stars or less: 4/5

Back of the book:

Shut Up and Kiss MePhotojournalist Shala Winters already had her hands full bringing tourism to this backward, podunk town, but her job just got tougher.  Pictures can say a thousand words, and one of Shala’s is screaming bloody murder.  Now she has to entrust a macho, infuriating lawman with her life – but she’ll never trust him with her heart.
Trusted or not, Sky Gomez isn’t about to let a killer get his hands on Shala’s Nikon – or any of her more comely assets, for that matter.  Her mouth might move faster than a Piney Woods roadrunner, but all he can think about is how good it must taste…and how she’ll never escape true love.

Welcome to Harmony by Jodi Thomas

Welcome to Harmony

After reading two novels by Jodi Thomas I’m convinced few authors write about small towns better. Welcome to Harmony, the first book in her new series, is set in Harmony, Texas – a town of 14,000. Rain hasn’t made an appearance in a long time and there’s an arsonist on the loose.

The main characters in this book are Reagan, a teenage runaway from Oklahoma; Jeremiah Truman, the man who takes Reagan in; Alexandra McAllen, the town sheriff who is haunted by a personal tragedy; Noah, the sheriff’s 16 year old brother; Hank Matheson, the fire chief; Tyler Wright, the local undertaker. There are many other memorable characters who play a part in the search for the arsonist. Thomas creates minor characters who are unique enough that I hope to read more about them in future books.

Welcome to Harmony is more than a novel about arson.  Reagan is looking for a place to call home, a place where she belongs, a place where she feels welcome.  There’s a strong attraction between Alexandra and Hank; good friendship with the promise of more between Reagan and Noah; and a sweet online  correspondence  between Tyler and a mysterious  woman – a couple who thought that love may have passed them by.  I’m hoping we’ll read more of Tyler’s story as the series progresses.

Thomas is a first-rate storyteller and she pulled me into the lives of her characters and the drama of the fire scenes.  If you like novels about small towns with good, believable characters I recommend you read Welcome to Harmony.   I look forward to the next book in the series.

Review copy from Penguin Group

Penguin Group also sent a book for one of my US readers.

Leave your email in your comment (a must)
Open to US residents
Giveaway ends Wednesday, June 2, 6pm eastern

Good luck!

Giveaway is closed



Jodi Thomas guest post

It is my pleasure to welcome award-winning author Jodi Thomas to Bookfan. Her  new book Welcome to Harmony will be in stores on June 1st. Come back tomorrow for my review and a giveaway.

Cover design for Twisted Creek
In a few days WELCOME TO HARMONY will hit the stores and I don’t know when I’ve been so excited about a book coming out.  This will be my 29th book.   A writer writes a story, climbs into a world and lives there for months.  Then, the writer has to send the story off and let go of the characters for a while.  With this book it wasn’t easy.  I didn’t want to say goodbye.    Funny, sometimes a writer writes a book they’d like to read and in this case I did just that.

WELCOME TO HARMONY opens with Reagan, a runaway, being dropped off after dark on the Main Street of Harmony, Texas. Before the night is over, she’s stepped into a world she’s never known. A world where she can belong.

As I wrote it seemed like my characters came to me one at a time, sat down, and began to tell me their story. As the book moves through the weeks, you’ll meet a funeral director who cares about everyone he meets, a volunteer fire chief who loves what he does, a sheriff who fights every day to live up to her family, and a child who sees people for who they really are.

This story will touch your heart and make you laugh. By the time you finish, you’ll feel like Harmony is a real place.

Three love stories wind their way through the book. One is a story of first love between two teenagers. Another is a love story between two strong willed adults who have loved each other since childhood but are torn apart because of an accident. The third love story is between a middle aged kind man who had never found anyone he can talk too. He develops a relationship with a woman on line that he met one icy night when they were both forced of the road due to weather. Both are professionals dedicated to their work and not the kind of people used to sharing feelings.

I hope to keep you up late because you have to learn what happens to the folks in Harmony. So, come along with me for a visit.

Much love to you all,
Jodi Thomas

A fifth generation Texan, Jodi Thomas chooses to set the majority of her novels in her home state. With a degree in Family Studies, Thomas is a marriage and family counselor by education, a background that enables her to write about family dynamics. Honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Thomas enjoys interacting with students on the West Texas A & M University campus, where she currently serves as Writer In Residence.

You can read more about Jodi Thomas at her official website

Waiting On Wednesday – May 26

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

This week’s pre-publication “can’t-wait-to-read” selection is:

The Girls from the Revolutionary Cantina: A Novel by M. PadillaDescription from Amazon: Julia Juarez and Ime Benevides, two Mexican-American women from the barrio, have risen from humble beginnings to brisk, career-oriented lives in the San Fernando Valley. Inspired by their good-natured rivalry, Julia and Ime have never let anything come between them. Then enters Julia’s new coworker Ilario, who pulls both women’s heartstrings, disrupting their friendship and bringing Julia’s career to the brink of disaster. Looking for support, Julia turns to her other friends: a party-obsessed dance instructor named Concepcion; Nina, a timid but shrewd seamstress who’s not too taken with her fiance; and Marta, a divorced bar owner preoccupied with the details of a Hollywood murder case. When they involve Julia in a risky scheme, she must choose between her loyalty to her friends and a chance to live the life she’s worked so hard to achieve.

On sale:  June 22, 2010

In My Mailbox/Mailbox Monday – May 23/24


Hannah's List The Wife's Tale: A Novel Anyone But You (Hardcover) Never Seduce a Scoundrel (The School for Heiresses)

1. Hannah’s List by Debbie Macomber from Big Honcho Media via a giveaway at Take Me Away 

2. The Wife’s Tale by Lori Lansens (audiobook) giveaway win from Brilliance Audio via Borders True Romance Blog
3. Anyone But You by Jennifer Crusie (audiobook) giveaway win from Brilliance Audio via Borders True Romance Blog
4. Never Seduce A Scoundrel by Sabrina Jeffries (audiobook) giveaway win from Brilliance Audio via Borders True Romance Blog

Show Me 5 Saturday -Roses by Leila Meacham

1. Book title: Roses by Leila Meacham

2. Words that describe the book: multigenerational saga

3. Settings or characters:
* Howbutker, TX founded by the Toliver, Warwick, and duMont families.
* Mary Toliver, heir to the cotton plantation
* Percy Warwick, heir to his father’s lumber company

4. Things I liked/disliked about the book:
* I liked the cinematic feel to the writing. It was like watching a movie from the 1930s or ’40s – I love that era of sweeping epics.
* I think the author did a great job of making her characters come off the page. Appearances, emotions, actions were quite vivid.
* I thought it became a bit overly dramatic a few times – maybe that’s why it reminded me of a movie.
* I loved that it took me away – this would be a good vacation read.

5. Stars or less: 4/5

Goodreads synopsis (not my review):
RosesSpanning the 20th century, the story of Roses takes place in a small East Texas town against the backdrop of the powerful timber and cotton industries, industries controlled by the scions of the town’s founding families. Cotton tycoon Mary Toliver and timber magnate Percy Warwick should have married but unwisely did not, and now must deal with the deceit, secrets, and tragedies of their choice and the loss of what might have been–not just for themselves but for their children, and children’s children. With expert, unabashed, big-canvas storytelling, Roses covers a hundred years, three generations of Texans and the explosive combination of passion for work and longing for love.

Waiting On Wednesday – May 19

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

This week’s pre-publication “can’t-wait-to-read” selection is:

Captive Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine

July 20, 2010: Ballantine

Goodreads synopsis:
It is the year 1152 and a beautiful woman of thirty, attended by only a small armed escort, is riding like the wind southwards through what is now France, leaving behind her crown, her two young daughters and a shattered marriage to Louis of France, who had been more like a monk than a king, and certainly not much of a lover. This woman is Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine, and her sole purpose now is to return to her vast duchy and marry the man she loves, Henry Plantagenet, a man destined for greatness as King of England. Theirs is a union founded on lust which will create a great empire stretching from the wilds of Scotland to the Pyrenees. It will also create the devil’s brood of Plantagenets – including Richard C ur de Lion and King John – and the most notoriously vicious marriage in history. “The Eagle and the Lion” is a novel on the grand scale, an epic subject for Alison Weir. It tells of the making of nations, and of passionate conflicts: between Henry II and Thomas Becket, his closest friend who is murdered in Canterbury Cathedral on his orders; between Eleanor and Henry’s formidable mother Matilda; between father and sons, as Henry’s children take up arms against him; and finally between Henry and Eleanor herself.

Sunday Summary – May 16

Jean Kwok, author of Girl In Translation

Is it really Sunday already? I read a couple of good books last week (see below). I also found Secret Keepers for my WoW pick – it’s being released in paperback. I think it looks terrific! It is set to go on sale May 25.

One highlight of my week was seeing Jean Kwok read from her wonderful debut novel Girl in Translation. I won a giveaway of an arc and am so happy to recommend this book. Ms. Kwok spoke for an hour – she read 3 sections from the book and then talked about her background. She shared that the main character in her novel, Kimberly, is based on a combination of Ms. Kwok and her brother. She ended with a Q&A and then signed copies of her book.
If Ms. Kwok visits a bookstore near you I encourage you to go meet her and listen to her story. I was happy to learn that she is working on her next novel. It is very different from Girl in Translation but it sounds good. I’d like to offer my ARC of Girl in Translation to one of my readers who lives in the US. I’m not publicizing this giveaway. Just let me know in a comment if you’d like to be entered. It ends at 10pm eastern on Monday, May 17 (that’s tomorrow). I’ll announce the winner on Tuesday so check back!

This week’s Waiting on Wednesday pick:
Secret Keepers (Paperback) by Mindy Friddle
Secret Keepers by Mindy Friddle

Books read/reviewed:
Knit in Comfort Girl in Translation
Knit in Comfort by Isabel Sharpe
Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok

Show Me 5 Saturday – Girl In Translation by Jean Kwok

1. Book title: Girl In Translation by Jean Kwok

2. Words that describe the book: Fiction, Immigrants

3. Settings or characters:
* Kimberly Chang, 11 year old who emigrates to the U.S. (from Hong Kong) with her mother. They live in a run-down Brooklyn apartment that has no heat but plenty of insects.
* Aunt Paula, older sister of Kimberly’s mother. She’s bitter and jealous and doesn’t want her sister and niece to ever forget how much they owe her. She and her husband run the factory where Kimberly and her mother work.
* Matt, the boy at the factory who befriends Kimberly. At first he seemed aloof and a little curious about Kimberly but later he became a good friend. He had a tough life working a few jobs to provide for a sick mother and a brother with special needs.

4. Things I liked/disliked about the book:
* I liked that the novel reads like a memoir but is fiction that draws on the author’s own life experiences.
* I love the character of Kimberly. Jean Kwok gives us a young girl full of life and optimism even under the bleakest of circumstances.
* I liked the device Kwok used that showed the difficulty someone who has learned English in her home country has in understanding spoken English in the US (or other country where English is the primary language). She spelled some words incorrectly but as they were heard by Kimberly – which makes for a lot of misunderstanding. It was very effective.
* Kwok describes the factory scenes in detail. That had me thinking she probably experienced this to a certain extent.

5. Stars or less: 4.5/5. Recommended!

Girl in Translation

Goodreads synopsis:
When Kimberly Chang and her mother emigrate from Hong Kong to Brooklyn squalor, she quickly begins a secret double life: exceptional schoolgirl during the day, Chinatown sweatshop worker in the evenings. Disguising the more difficult truths of her life-like the staggering degree of her poverty, the weight of her family’s future resting on her shoulders, or her secret love for a factory boy who shares none of her talent or ambition-Kimberly learns to constantly translate not just her language but herself back and forth between the worlds she straddles. 

Through Kimberly’s story, author Jean Kwok, who also emigrated from Hong Kong as a young girl, brings to the page the lives of countless immigrants who are caught between the pressure to succeed in America, their duty to their family, and their own personal desires, exposing a world that we rarely hear about. Written in an indelible voice that dramatizes the tensions of an immigrant girl growing up between two cultures, surrounded by a language and world only half understood, Girl in Translation is an unforgettable and classic novel of an American immigrant-a moving tale of hardship and triumph, heartbreak and love, and all that gets lost in translation.


Waiting On Wednesday – May 12

Secret Keepers

May 25th 2010 by Picador

At age seventy-two, Emma Hanley plans to escape small-town Palmetto, South Carolina, and travel the globe. But when her fickle husband dies in undignified circumstances, Emma finds herself juggling the needs of her adult children. Her once free-spirited daughter Dora turns to compulsive shopping and a controlling husband to forget her wayward past. Her son Bobby still lives with her, afflicted with an illness that robbed him of his childhood promise.

When Dora’s old flame Jake Cary returns to Palmetto with a broken heart and a gift for gardening, the town becomes filled with mysterious, potent botanicals and memories long forgotten. Soon enough, Jake and his ragtag group of helpers begin to unearth the secrets that have divided the Hanleys for decades.Written with the warmth of Lee Smith and the magical touch of Alice Hoffman, Secret Keepers is a beguiling second novel by the acclaimed author of The Garden Angel.

Knit in Comfort by Isabel Sharpe

Knit in Comfort: A Novel by Isabel Sharpe

Goodreads synopsis:
Because of her father’s belief that he was always “this close” to striking it rich, Megan Morgan grew up moving every few years, following her father’s bliss. In a moment of her own recklessness, Megan puts her foot down in senior year of high school-accepting a marriage proposal rather than move again.

Now, twenty years later, stability hasn’t given Megan all she imagined it would. Comfort, North Carolina is a tight-knit community, but Megan has never felt like she truly fit in. Sure, she does all the knitting and lace-making that the other ladies do, but she’s always felt a step apart. It takes the arrival of a new tenant to open Megan’s eyes to the true possibilities of a life in Comfort. But now that she knows what she could have, is she too late?

* * * * * * *

My thoughts:
I really enjoyed this book. Southern atmosphere, a knitting group of women in their 30s who’ve known each other most of their lives, and a stranger who stirs things up while searching for a few answers in her own life all make for a good story.

Change is in the humid, fragrant air and I felt like I was right there watching it all start to play out. Isabel Sharpe wrote wonderful dialogue for her characters. I loved the fable that she worked into the novel. It’s a story Megan’s mother told her when Megan was going through a rough time in her teens. Her life, in a way, is a bit like the story – but which character is she? Five years into her marriage Megan discovered a secret but because she so desired stability, she decided to keep the secret. She decided to act as if it didn’t exist. Little by little that secret has taken something, her joy, from her life.

Elizabeth is the stranger who comes to Comfort after dreaming about her grandmother who told her to look for comfort. Elizabeth is looking for answers in her life so she grabs that dream and runs with it. She rents Megan’s garage apartment which also includes dinner each evening with the family. Little by little she is drawn into Megan’s life. One part of her life is the Purls – the knitting group comprised of Megan’s high school friends. Elizabeth is accepted as a new member and, ready or not, she asks questions that they never would have asked – and they answer. She moves them out of their comfort zone. She learns from them as well. Yes, change is in the air.

At the end I was happy to find an informative Q&A with the author.

Review copy from HarperCollins