Heather H. and Rhonda L.
are the winners of
Thanks to all who entered the giveaway!
Random.org was used to select the winners.
Giveaway courtesy of Severn House Publishers and Anna Suknov at FSB Associates
About: Mrs. Merkle (aka Mrs. Miracle) brings people together and helps them discover the blessings of Christmas.
Descriptive Words: Heartwarming Christmas novel.
Thoughts: Debbie Macomber introduced readers to Mrs. Miracle in her 2009 novel of the same name. Mrs. Miracle is a kind woman who has a knack for appearing when someone really needs her. In Call Me Mrs. Miracle she’s a clerk in the toy department of Finley’s Department Store in New York City. The owner of the store, J.R. Finley and his son Jake, the toy dept. manager, haven’t celebrated Christmas since a tragic event occurred twenty-one years earlier. Eight-year-old Gabe Larson lives with his Aunt Holly while his Dad serves with the National Guard in Afghanistan. Gabe’s mother died when he was a baby so Holly gladly took in her brother’s son. Holly works for a fashion designer (a real Scrooge) who may not give out a bonus this year. They all could use some Christmas spirit. Mrs. Miracle really has her work cut out for her but she’s up to the challenge.
Debbie Macomber does what she does best – writes stories about regular people dealing with real-life situations. However, Mrs. Miracle is a magical character. Some might call her an angel but she never explains herself. I find that to be part of her charm. I enjoyed watching her work her special brand of magic on the characters in this novel. It’s a sweet story with a warm message.
Mrs. Miracle was a movie on The Hallmark Channel last year. Call Me Mrs. Miracle (the movie) will air this Christmas season (original air date is Nov. 27). Doris Roberts plays the title role.
Source: Mira Books via NetGalley
Why I Chose: I enjoy Debbie Macomber’s novels.
Recommend? Yes, to fans of Debbie Macomber, Christmas novels.
Rating: 4 / 5 stars
Pub. date: Sept. 28, 2010
What I Thought I Knew by Alice Eve Cohen (for review from Penguin)
Good Enough To Eat by Stacey Ballis (giveaway win from Book Line & Sinker)
Author: Jenny Gardiner
About: (From the book blurb): Not-so-happily married to Jack-once the man of her dreams but now a modern-day version of the bossy, dull Ward Cleaver of ’50s sitcom fame-Claire is at the end of her rope. Gone are the glorious days of flings in elevators and broom closets. Jack? All he needs is a cardigan and a billowing pipe to become the domineering father figure Claire never wanted. And looking at her body in the mirror, Claire would cast herself as Lumpy. They’d once had a world of color, of wanton frivolity. Now, life’s black and white: a sitcom in reruns. A not-very-funny sitcom. Cue an old boyfriend-the “one that got away”-throw in a predatory hottie who’s set her sights on our leading man, and watch Claire’s world spiral out of control.
Descriptive Words: Funny, bawdy, honest, poignant.
Thoughts: For the most part it’s laugh out-loud-funny but I also had a lump in my throat during a lot of it. Jenny Gardiner’s novel cuts right to the core of a marriage that has lost its luster. The novel is written from the wife’s perspective. Claire is feeling unappreciated and the same could be said for her husband. There’s a lot of truth about marriages “of a certain number of years” in Sleeping with Ward Cleaver.
Source: I bought it.
Why I Chose: A few bloggers I trust gave it good reviews.
Recommend? This is a fast read that I recommend to fans of funny, honest, and entertaining novels about marriage. It’s one I’ll pass on to my sisters.
Rating: 4 /5 stars
Back of the Book: What happens when the boy she loved to hate …
becomes the man she hates to love?
The 1920s are drawing to a close, and feisty Katie O’Connor is the epitome of the new woman — smart and sassy with goals for her future that include the perfect husband and a challenging career in law. Her boyfriend Jack fits all of her criteria for a husband — good-looking, well-connected, wealthy, and eating out of her hand. But when she is forced to spend the summer of 1929 with Cluny McGee, the bane of her childhood existence, Katie comes face to face with a choice. Will she follow her well-laid plans to marry Jack? Or will she fall for the man she swore to despise forever?
My review: A Hope Undaunted is the first book in the The Winds of Change series by Julie Lessman. Eighteen-year-old Katie O’Connor is enjoying a carefree life in 1929 Boston when she unexpectedly meets an old acquaintance – Cluny McGee, who now goes by the name Luke McGee. They were sworn enemies as children and it looks like they could be the same as adults. They have to put that aside when, after defying her curfew, Katie’s father signs her up to be a summer volunteer in Luke’s office at the Boston Children’s Aid Society.
Katie’s co-workers also become her friends – a good thing since she’s grounded when she’s not at work. They are also Luke’s closest friends. Katie and Luke begin to view each other in a new light which soon leads to mutual respect. Then the unexpected happens to one of Luke’s friends. He steps up to help and by doing so changes Katie’s world and his.
I liked how Lessman used humor and drama throughout the novel. The characters came alive for me. The dialogue reminded me of the black & white movies from the 1930s: snappy, heart-felt, and believable. A theme that runs through the course of the story is: Trust the power of prayer. It is key to the story. There are some minor story lines involving Luke’s friends and Katie’s large family that I suspect will be revisited in other books of the series.
I enjoyed reading A Hope Undaunted. Family sagas are among my favorites so I look forward to getting to know the rest of the O’Connor family in the subsequent books. I recommend this novel to fans of Inspirational Historical Fiction.
Review copy from Revell Books via Winsome Media Communications
The Bells: A Novel by Richard Harvell
I bought The Bells after hearing the 8/31/10 Books On The Nightstand podcast
You can also listen to Diane Rehm’s interview with Richard Harvell here
This lovely tote filled with books and bookmarks
from Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
The Snow Globe by Sheila Roberts (from the author)
13 rue Thérèse by Elena Mauli Shapiro
(and a tin of Bonbons Saveur de Cerises from Hachette Books and Reagan Arthur)
Anna from FSB Associates has generously offered two copies of Evan Marshall’s forthcoming mystery City in Shadow.
A Hidden Manhattan Mystery – A frightened woman leaves a note reading HELP ME outside Sanitation supervisor Anna Winthrop’s apartment . . . A career-making story leads a journalist to a human-trafficking ring . . . A woman acts as bait in an effort to track down her missing sister . . . and Anna’s visiting cousin Patti prowls New York’s dark streets, but won’t say why. All roads lead to the Kirkmore, a sinister apartment tower harboring a secret more horrifying than anyone could ever have imagined.
Click here and fill out the form.
Open to US residents
Falling Home by Karen White
(From Joy Strazza at Joan Schulhafer Publishing & Media Consulting – for review)
Back of the book: The bodies of seven women have been discovered in Skull Valley, Arizona. Jonah Young, a private security operative from Department 6, has been hired by the Yavapai County Sheriff to assist in solving these murders. But Jonah’s not prepared for the complications that arise when he’s forced to work with a woman from his past, private investigator Francesca Moretti.
Jonah betrayed Francesca ten years ago. She hasn’t forgiven him and she’s pretty sure she never will. But the woman she was hired to find has been murdered in exactly the same way as the seven in Skull Valley, so like it or not, Francesca has to work with Jonah. They quickly zero in on the most likely suspect–but questions remain. Questions they have to answer. Because if they bet on the wrong man, it might be the last thing they ever do…
My review: Killer Heat is the third book in the Dept. 6 Hired Guns series by Brenda Novak. Seven bodies have been found – women who’ve apparently been raped and then killed. Francesca Moretti and Jonah Young, along with the local authorities, are searching for the killer before another murder takes place.
Francesca and Jonah share a past that ended when he betrayed her – that is, she thought it ended until she became involved with the case and he was already working on it as a consultant. Putting their past behind them, for the time being, they concentrate their efforts on solving the case.
Novak gives us plenty of suspects – some have more motive than others. I thought the suspense built at a perfect pace leading to a breathtaking final scene. I hope there will be more books in the Dept. 6 series. I’ve enjoyed them all and recommend the series to fans of romantic suspense. Killer Heat will be published Sept. 28, 2010.
Review copy from Harlequin MIRA via NetGalley
On June 1st I challenged myself to read the books pictured above before Labor Day. While not 100% successful, I was happy with the result.
Click here to see which books I read.
For review from Baker Publishing Group:
A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman
The Trophy Bride’s Tale by Cyrilla Barr
1 Title: Your Roots Are Showing by Elise Chidley
2 Words that describe the book: Lizzie’s changes
3 Settings or characters:
* Lizzie Buckley, in the throes of postpartum depression, has little interest in her husband or life in general.
* Tessa, Lizzie’s best friend since they were small, is her biggest supporter. She won’t let Lizzie fall any deeper into the abyss of depression. She gets her started on the process of climbing out. Everyone needs a friend like Tessa.
* Roger, Lizzie’s father-in-law. Always her fan, he truly hopes she and his son can make things work. He’s a bit of a character but he seemed genuinely in Lizzie’s corner. I thought he was the one person who gave her hope.
4 Things I liked/disliked about the book:
* I loved Elise Chidley’s way of telling the story so that it was easy to sympathize with almost every character.
* The humor was laugh-out-loud at times. That said, this is not a fluff book. It addresses serious issues faced by many women at one time or another. It was an emotional read but not a depressing one.
* I liked how Chidley showed Lizzie’s experience of starting to run, starting therapy, dealing with her food issues, etc. I could imagine myself feeling the same way as Lizzie.
* I didn’t like that Lizzie and James seemed to give up too easily from the start (that’s not a spoiler). I guess their feelings were so hurt they just turned inward. Maybe that’s not so unusual.
5 Stars or less for the rating: 4.5/5 stars. I recommend it.
Back of the book: Lizzie Buckley is having doubts about her picture-perfect world. She does love her country estate, precocious three-year-old twins, and handsome husband, James. But nobody warned her about postpartum depression and the toll it would take on her marriage. Or how she’d fantasize about chucking it all for a box of chocolates and an uninterrupted bath.
Lizzie vents these frustrations in an e-mail and her life is shattered: James gets the message by mistake. Lizzie soon finds herself uprooting her children to start over in a ramshackle garden cottage. Now facing life – and the twins – alone, Lizzie struggles to reinvent herself and forget about her soon-to-be ex. But when thoughts of James still haunt her, she begins to wonder if the best part of marriage starts after the fairy tale ends…
Back of the book: A-Tac is an elite CIA unit masquerading as faculty at an Ivy League college. Brilliant, badass, and seemingly bulletproof, the members of A-Tac are assigned to the riskiest missions and the most elusive targets.
TORN BETWEEN DUTY AND DESIRE
Covert operations expert Nash Brennon has spent the last eight years trying to forget Annie Gallagher, his former field partner and the only woman he ever loved. Annie betrayed him when he needed her most, then vanished without a trace. Now suddenly she’s back in the game – this time as a suspected traitor and threat to national security.
Annie’s son has been kidnapped by political terrorists. The price for his life? Assassinate a UN ambassador. When Nash and his group find her, the smoldering passion between Annie and the man she swore she’d never contact again blazes out of control. But can Nash trust her? The stakes couldn’t be higher: Their enemy’s endgame is personal, and one false move could cost them their lives.
My review: Dark Deceptions is the first book in the A-Tac series by Dee Davis. The A-Tac team is an off-the-books CIA unit that tackles seemingly impossible missions. This time they need to find a kidnapped boy who happens to have a strong connection to Nash, a current member of the team. They also need to find out who assassinated a high-ranking official and then tried to frame Annie, a former CIA operative and Adam’s (the kidnapped boy) mother.
I loved the pace of the novel. Davis builds from a stark beginning and escalates to a breathtaking ending. There’s a side mystery that runs in the background – is someone sabotaging the A-Tac team and if so, who and why? I look forward to seeing how that thread travels through the series.
If you’re a fan of romantic suspense give this series a try. I’ve read the second book and can’t wait to read the third.
winner of 29: A Novel by Adena Halpern
Thanks to all for the fun birthday wishes!
I’m celebrating by offering my gently read copy of 29: A Novel by Adena Halpern. Just click here (giveaway now closed) and fill out the form (open to US residents). I’ll post the result tomorrow. Good luck!
From the back of the book:
What if you closed your eyes, blew out the candles and your wish came true?
Ellie Jerome is a young-at-heart 75-year old who relates more to her 25-year old granddaughter Lucy than to her 55-year old daughter Barbara. Ellie’s done everything she can to stay young, and the last thing she wants is to celebrate another birthday. So when she finds herself confronted with a cake full of candles, Ellie wishes more than anything that she could be twenty-nine again, just for one day. But who expects a wish like that to come true?
I found this announcement on the Goodreads page: 20th Century Fox has just attained the rights to Adena’s most recent novel, 29! Look for it in theaters soon!