2011 Challenge Wrap Up

Each year I’ve participated in few challenges. In 2011 I signed on to:

The 2011 Reading From My Shelves Project

The Reagan Arthur Books Challenge

The War & Peace Read Along

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So these were very relaxed challenges.If you click on The Reagan Arthur Challenge link above you’ll see I read only two books this year. One was sent to me by the publisher and the other I bought. I enjoyed both books.

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The War & Peace Challenge was supposed to end today but several weeks ago I received an email saying it would be extended to mid-2012. That’s all I needed to hear! Since I’m on page 1061 of 1215 I hope to finish it well before June.

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Now lets talk about the 2011 Reading From My Shelves Project. I’ve joined the past couple of years and was content with the 20+ books I cleared off my shelves each year. Silly me. I think for every book I cleared off the shelves four more appeared. How does that happen?!! That is the reason I’ve decided to make 2012 the year of reading mostly from my shelves. I’ll read a few review books but only books I really, really want to read.

That’s my plan. Thank you so much for visiting Bookfan this year. I love your comments and book suggestions, etc.

I wish you all a New Year filled with good health, good friends, and good books to read.

Happy New Year!

Trouble at the Wedding by Laura Lee Guhrke

Title:  Trouble at the Wedding

Author:  Laura Lee Guhrke

Genre:  Historical Romance (series)

Published:  December 2011 – Avon

About:  (back of the book) Annabel is about to marry the perfect man… The last thing Miss Annabel Wheaton desires is true love. She learned the hard way that love makes a woman foolish and leads only to heartache. That’s why she agreed to marry an earl who needs her money. He’s got a pedigree and a country estate, and he won’t ever break her heart. There’s only one problem…

Christian isn’t about to let her marry that pompous prig… Christian Du Quesne, Duke of Scarborough, thinks the stubborn heiress is about to make the biggest mistake of her life, and he’s determined to stop her. Tempting beautiful women is Christian’s forte, after all. When her family offers him a nice sum of money to stop the wedding, he’s happy to accept. Falling in love with Annabel was never supposed to be part of the bargain…

My take:  Trouble at the Wedding is the third book in the Abandoned at the Altar series. If you haven’t read the first two books don’t worry – this can be a stand alone novel. The primary characters are all new. I do recommend you read the other books just because they are so good.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I love the 1904 time period and it was fun reading a historical romance with an American heroine. Annabel is beautiful and has a strength of spirit and will that charms the reader. That said, she does suffer from the wish to be accepted by old money New Yorkers. She’s a “new money, Mississippi nobody” – and they don’t let her forget it. So when she has a chance to move up in the social world by marrying an English earl she grabs it. She doesn’t want to marry for love anyway. Her father never loved her mother which made her mother miserable. Annabel refuses to make that mistake. What she didn’t count on was meeting Christian…

Laura Lee Guhrke has a gift for creating strong yet flawed characters. I enjoyed how Christian and Annabel worked through their challenges. There are a few scenes that made me laugh out loud and one or two that were quite emotional. It’s a historical romance so you know there’s a HEA. The fun is in how they get there.

Recommended to fans of historical romance and the author. I look forward to reading more of Laura Lee Guhrke’s books.

Source:  Avon

Disclaimer:  See sidebar. I was not compensated for my review.

Mailbox Monday – December 26



Hosted in December at Let Them Read Books

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The Book of Holiday Awesome by Neil Pasricha – a giveaway win from the publisher via Jenny at Take Me Away. Thanks, Jenny!

Charlotte Figg Takes Over Paradise by Joyce Magnin (Kindle freebie)

Murder of a Bookstore Babe by Denise Swanson (I bought it)

Angel’s Rest by Emily March (giveaway win from the publisher)

What was in your mailbox?

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: A Novel in Pictures by Caroline Preston

Title:  The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: A Novel in Pictures

Author:  Caroline Preston

Genre:  Sequential Art; Historical Fiction

Published:  October 2011 – Ecco

About:  (from the book flap):  For her graduation from high school in 1920, Frankie Pratt receives a scrapbook and her father’s old Corona typewriter. Despite Frankie’s dreams of becoming a writer, she must forgo a college scholarship to help her widowed mother. But when a mysterious Captain James sweeps her off her feet, her mother finds a way to protect Frankie from the less-than-noble intentions of her unsuitable beau.

My take:  I’ll just start by saying The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt is one of my favorite books of 2011. It is Frances Pratt’s story told through her scrapbook. Caroline Preston compiled a wonderful array of 1920s memorabilia from the US and France. Each page is a feast for the eyes that conveys Frankie’s story as she moves from high school graduation to Vassar to New York City to Paris and back home again.

I was surprised by the emotional connection I felt to Frankie given the unusual style of this novel. Frankie’s notes, photos, souvenirs, etc. tell a personal and complete story of the first part of her adult life that demands re-reading just to take it all in. I love that! This is definitely one for my keeper shelf. Recommended.

Source:  I bought it.

Disclaimer:  See sidebar. I was not compensated for my review.

Book Blogger Holiday Swap – Secret Santa gifts

Several days ago I received a package from my Book Blogger Holiday Swap Secret Santa. Inside I found three books that have been on my wish list for a while. I’m really looking forward to reading them in the new year.

Click each cover for more information.


Thank you to my Secret Santa: Barbara.

I also want to thank the coordinators of the BBHS:


Mailbox Monday – December 19



Hosted in December at Let Them Read Books

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The Shell Keeper by Robin P. Nolet : I bought it after reading this review. Thanks to Dar for bringing it to my attention.

Unraveled by Courtney Milan: It’s the third in a series – can’t wait to read it!

Hometown Girl by Mariah Stewart: Giveaway win from the publisher and Kaye at PudgyPenguinPerusals. Thanks, Kaye.

Lady of the English by Elizabeth Chadwick: a Christmas exchange gift from my friend Sherri.

The Misremembered Man by Christina McKenna: a Kindle Daily Deal, one of the few I’ve picked up but couldn’t resist the Ireland setting.

What was in your mailbox?

Weekend Cooking – Dec. 17 (Reindeer cupcakes edition)

My daughter Meg wanted to make a kid-friendly dessert for Thanksgiving so she used Google to look for ideas and found this adorable recipe at With Sprinkles On Top. It’s a great blog – you should check it out!

Meg used a cake mix, store-bought chocolate frosting, a tube of black icing and white York Peppermint Pieces for the eyes, peanut butter M&M on a Nilla Wafer (held in place with a dab of frosting) for the nose.

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Meg – almost finished and pleased with the results.

These were a hit with kids and adults alike!

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You can find more Weekend Cooking posts at Beth Fish Reads

Bring Me Home For Christmas by Robyn Carr

Title: Bring Me Home For Christmas

Virgin River series #16

Author: Robyn Carr

Genre: Romance; Christmas

Published: October 2011 – Mira

About: (from Goodreads synopsis) This year, Becca Timm knows the number one item on her Christmas wish list: getting over Denny Cutler. Three years ago Denny broke her heart before heading off to war. It’s time she got over her silly college relationship and moved on.

So she takes matters into her own hands and heads up to Virgin River, the rugged little mountain town that Denny calls home, as an uninvited guest on her brother’s men-only hunting weekend. But when an accident turns her impromptu visit into an extended stay, Becca finds herself stranded in Virgin River.

My brief take: Robyn Carr takes us back to Virgin River, CA for a Christmas story. We got to know Denny in the most recent books and now we see the reason why he ended up in the small mountain town – Becca. He is taken by surprise when she shows up for the hunting weekend with her brother and friends. Denny thought it would be just the guys he served with in ‘the sandbox’. Becca’s appearance changes everything – including the rest of his life.

If you’re looking for a romance with a heartwarming Christmas theme and a hopeful and happy ending you may enjoy Take Me Home For Christmas. I recommend it to fans of Robyn Carr and the Virgin River series.

Source: I bought it.

Disclaimer: See sidebar. I was not compensated for my review.

Mailbox Monday – December 12


Hosted in December at Let Them Read Books

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Only one book in my mailbox last week (and it’s really an ebook). Cathy @ KittlingBooks tipped me off to it. I’ve wanted to read J.A. Jance and this looks like a good place to start. It’s a collection of short stories.

I’ve wanted to read Marcia Evanick’s Misty Harbor (Maine) series for a while. When I saw the first book was available at Audible I decided to give it a listen. Sounds like a good one for the new year.


The J.A. Jance Casebook

Catch of the Day

What was in your mailbox?

1225 Christmas Tree Lane by Debbie Macomber

Title:  1225 Christmas Tree Lane

A Cedar Cove Novel

Author:  Debbie Macomber

Genre:  Christmas; Series Romance

Published:  September 2011 – Mira

About:  (Goodreads synopsis) The people of Cedar Cove know how to celebrate Christmas. Like Grace and Olivia and everyone else, Beth Morehouse expects this Christmas to be one of her best. Her small Christmas-tree farm is prospering, her daughters and her dogs are happy and well, and her new relationship with local vet Ted Reynolds is showing plenty of romantic promise.

But …someone recently left a basket filled with puppies on her doorstep, puppies she’s determined to place in good homes. That’s complication number one. And number two is that her daughters Bailey and Sophie have invited their dad, Beth’s ex-husband, Kent, to Cedar Cove for Christmas. The girls have visions of a mom-and-dad reunion dancing in their heads.

As always in life— and in Cedar Cove —there are surprises, too. More than one family’s going to have a puppy under the tree. More than one scheme will go awry. And more than one romance will have a happy ending!

My brief take:  I’ve enjoyed Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove series. 1225 Christmas Tree Lane is book 12 and the final novel in the series. We get to know Beth Morehouse, her daughters, and her ex-husband. The synopsis above explains their story. The puppies serve as a way to bring back characters from previous books. They adopt the puppies and the reader gets caught up on what’s new in their lives.

You’ll have to read the book to see if Beth’s daughters get their Christmas wish. As you might expect Debbie Macomber gives all of the Cedar Cove residents a fond farewell in this satisfying series finale. I smiled as I turned the last page.

Recommended to fans of small town fiction, the author, and the Cedar Cove series.

Source:  Library book.

Disclaimer:  See sidebar. I was not compensated for my review.

The Arrivals by Meg Mitchell Moore

Title:  The Arrivals

Author:  Meg Mitchell Moore

Genre:  Fiction

Published:  May 2011 – Reagan Arthur Books/Little, Brown & Company

My take:  It’s summer and the three adult Owen children return to their parents’ home in Vermont. The eldest, Lillian, has her two small children with her. She’s left her husband after an unforgivable act. Middle child Stephen and his pregnant wife want to visit for a couple of days but a health scare forces them to extend the visit for weeks. Youngest child Rachel arrives wanting to forget about recent happenings in her life. Parents Ginny and William, both in their mid-60s, see their summer change from a quiet one to one that’s pretty much out of their control.

Meg Mitchell Moore’s character driven novel rang true for me. In fact, it made me think of how my own parents must have felt when my siblings and I (and our families) all gathered for vacations, holidays, etc. in their home. I can’t believe they still have their sanity! It was interesting to see Lillian, Stephen and Rachel move from normally capable adults to almost needy children in their parents’ home. I guess what the Owen children were seeking was a bit of security and grounding. Each was dealing with issues a bit out of their control and they needed to be taken care of by their parents – if only for a short time.

I think there’s a lot to relate to in The Arrivals. After all, we all have parents and many of us have children. My husband and I have recently moved into the roles of parents of married adult children. We’ve experienced our own ‘Arrivals‘.  The cycle continues. I enjoyed this debut novel and look forward to reading more by Meg Mitchell Moore.

Source:  I bought it.

Disclaimer:  See sidebar. I was not compensated for my review.

Audiobook: Trading Christmas by Debbie Macomber

Title:  Trading Christmas (audiobook)

Author:  Debbie Macomber

Narrator:  Renee Raudman

Genre:  Christmas Romance

Published:  October 2011 – Brilliance Audio (previously titled When Christmas Comes – 2004)

About:  (Goodreads synopsis) Emily Springer widowed mother of one, decides to leave her hometown of Leavenworth, Washington, to spend Christmas with her daughter in Boston. Charles Brewster, history professor, seasoned curmudgeon and resident of Boston, wants to avoid Christmas altogether.

Through an Internet site, they arrange to swap houses for the holiday. So Emily goes to Boston–and discovers that her daughter has gone to Florida. And Charles arrives in Leavenworth to discover a town that looks like Santa’s village, full of Christmas trees, Christmas music and elves.

Meanwhile, Emily’s friend Faith Kerrigan travels to Leavenworth to visit her–and finds Charles the grouch. . .whose brother, Ray, shows up at Charles’s place, to find Emily living there.

Through all the mix-ups and misunderstandings, amid the chaos and confusion, romance begins to emerge in unexpected ways. Because when Christmas comes, so does love. . .

My brief take:  Debbie Macomber’s Christmas novels are cute and heartwarming. Trading Christmas is no different. It’s a comedy of errors that involves three story lines. The romance is light and the humor borders on corny at times but I didn’t mind that. Narrator Renee Raudman gave a fine performance. I listened to the audiobook while I knitted a Christmas gift. It was perfect entertainment. The Hallmark Channel is airing the movie version of this novel. It’s new this year and I hope to watch it soon. If you enjoy cute Christmas themed novels you may like Trading Christmas.

Source:  I bought it.

Disclaimer:  See sidebar. I was not compensated for my review.