Sunday Post

Book arrivals:

sleigh bells in the snow  Armed

Last week on Bookfan:

What I’m reading:

  • Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan
  • Old Man River by Paul Schneider

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I hope you’ll take a minute to vote for Harlequin’s More Than Words program. Read about the nominees at this link  and then cast your vote at this link. You can vote each day through November 21st.

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The first snow of the season arrived last Monday – click for a closer look

Happy reading!

Redesigning Rose by Lydia Laceby

redesigning rose

  • Title:  Redesigning Rose
  • Author:  Lydia Laceby
  • Genre:  Contemporary Women’s Fiction; Chick Lit
  • Published:  June 2013 – Lydia Laceby
  • Source:  Author

Synopsis:  Rose Parker’s husband has been lying. About everything.

When a conversation with her husband triggers questions, Rose Parker uncovers alarming answers that shatter her perfect life. But it is only when she shoves her belongings in her SUV and drives off that Rose realizes just how far from perfect her life actually was. She has nowhere to turn.

While debating between distressing sleeping arrangements-her mother’s house full of questions or a hotel room with too much solitude-Rose bumps into an acquaintance from her gardening class and allows bubbly, exuberant Becky to indulge her in a wild night full of whiskey, weeping, and whispered confidences. Suddenly, Rose has a new friend, a roof over her head, and two gorgeous men moving her out of her marital home.

As Rose struggles to settle into her new life, she remains determined to comprehend her past. And with time and distance and especially wine, comes knowledge. Frank wasn’t the only one lying to her. Rose was lying to herself. (author)

My take:  It was easy to sympathize with Rose and her new situation. She found out her husband was not the man she thought – perhaps something she’d known all along. With some distance between them she realized she had become a different person since marrying him. With that awareness Rose started on a path to rediscover her true self.

I loved the new people in Rose’s life beginning with Becky, the acquaintance who takes her in, as well as Becky’s brother, other friends, and Rose’s mother. They all had a hand in helping Rose move forward. It wasn’t an easy path. She moved backward a couple of times but eventually learned to listen to and trust her instincts again.

Redesigning Rose is Lydia Laceby’s debut novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The story and characters charmed me and I couldn’t help thinking as I read that it would make a good movie. Recommended to fans of Chick Lit.

Audiobook catch up

a hundred summers

  • Title:  A Hundred Summers 
  • Author:  Beatriz Williams
  • Narrator: Kathleen McInerney
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction; Romance
  • Published:  May 2013 – Penguin Audio
  • Length:  11 hours 35 minutes
  • Source:  Purchased

Synopsis:  Memorial Day, 1938: New York socialite Lily Dane has just returned with her family to the idyllic oceanfront community of Seaview, Rhode Island, expecting another placid summer season among the familiar traditions and friendships that sustained her after heartbreak.

That is, until Greenwalds decide to take up residence in Seaview.

Nick and Budgie Greenwald are an unwelcome specter from Lily’s past: her former best friend and her former fiancee, now recently married – an event that set off a wildfire of gossip among the elite of Seaview, who have summered together for generations. Budgie’s arrival to restore her family’s old house puts her once more in the center of the community’s social scene, and she insinuates herself back into Lily’s friendship with an overpowering talent for seduction… and an alluring acquaintance from their college days, Yankees pitcher Graham Pendleton. But the ties that bind Lily to Nick are too strong and intricate to ignore, and the two are drawn back into long-buried dreams, despite their uneasy secrets and many emotional obligations.

Under the scorching summer sun, the unexpected truth of Budgie and Nick’s marriage bubbles to the surface, and as a cataclysmic hurricane barrels unseen up the Atlantic and into New England, Lily and Nick must confront an emotional cyclone of their own, which will change their worlds forever.  (publisher)

My brief take:  Beatriz Williams’ story of wealthy people and soap-like drama was a good beach read. I love the era. It was  post-1929 crash and pre-WWII which encompassed financial difficulties, prejudice, and people ignoring much of what was happening in the rest of the world. Add in the personal issues of failed friendships, betrayal, a broken engagement and an uncomfortable summer season that brings Budgie, Nick and Lily back together and you’ve got a juicy story. I enjoyed listening to A Hundred Summers. Kathleen McInerney’s narration was top notch.

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the firebird

  • Title:  The Firebird
  • Author:  Susanna Kearsley
  • Narrator:  Katherine Kellgren
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction; Paranormal; Time Travel
  • Published:  January 2013 – Audible, Inc.
  • Length:  14 hours 39 minutes
  • Source:  Purchased

Synopsis:  Nicola Marter was born with a gift. When she touches an object, she sometimes glimpses those who have owned it before. When a woman arrives with a small wooden carving at the gallery Nicola works at, she can see the object’s history and knows that it was named after the Firebird – the mythical creature from an old Russian fable.
Compelled to know more, Nicola follows a young girl named Anna who leads her into the past on a quest through the glittering backdrops of the Jacobites and Russian courts, unearthing a tale of love, courage, and redemption.  (publisher)

My brief take:  I enjoyed this follow up (continuation) to The Winter Sea. I’m a fan of these adventures Susanna Kearsley takes us on. I rate it 4.5 stars and the fantastic narration by Katherine Kellgren moves it up to 5 stars.

I also followed the Kindle edition from time to time. An added bonus of the print book are the author’s notes at the end. Kearsley answered questions I’d had in mind while reading such as what is historically accurate and what is filled in to connect dots. I always wonder about those things while reading historical fiction. I don’t care what the answers are if the story grabs me – something that is never a problem with Kearsley’s novel. Like I mentioned, I’m a fan!

This book is part of the Slains series and I realized too late that I was reading them out of order. No matter, I have The Shadowy Horses on my shelf and look forward to reading it. Can’t wait to meet the sigh-worthy Rob from the beginning 🙂

Sunday Post

Book arrivals:

my own miraculous (short story)  the goldfinch  the theory of opposites  the life I now live

Last week on Bookfan: (since I missed posting last Sunday I’m highlighting the past two weeks)

What I’m reading:

  • A Fool’s Gold Christmas by Susan Mallery
  • Redesigning Rose by Lydia Laceby

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Hi-Res_MoreThanWords_Logo-2

I hope you’ll take a minute to vote for Harlequin’s More Than Words program. Read about the nominees at this link  and then cast your vote at this link. You can vote each day through November 21st.

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Only a few days left for US audiobook lovers to bid on exciting items in this

online auction benefitting ALS and Bob Deyan.

Auction flyer correct

Time to vote for Harlequin’s More Than Words award winners!

VOTE FOR HARLEQUIN’S MORE THAN WORDS AWARD WINNERS
GIVE THANKS THIS SEASON BY VOTING FOR THOSE WHO HELPS OTHERS
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Harlequin has just opened the voting for their annual More Than Words awards – a charitable program that honors women, real-life heroines, making a difference in their communities.

How often do we get a chance to say thanks to someone who is dedicating their life to helping other people? By voting for your favorite woman and charity, you give one of these impressive women a chance to win $15,000 for her charity of choice and to be paired up with a bestselling Harlequin writer, who will turn her inspiring story into a novella that’s released to the public as a free e-book.

There are 5 finalists and only 3 winners, so vote now and vote as often as once a day through November 21st at 11:59pm EST. Winners will be announced in January.

Vote at this link

MEET THE FINALISTS:
Linda Burston has been the Support Coordinator at the Women’s Lunch Place for the last 14 years. As a former homeless drug addict rehabilitated through the help of the Women’s Lunch Place, she is determined to help homeless and poor women get off the streets and develop independence. Learn more about Linda here: http://www.harlequinmorethanwords.com/vote/linda-burston/

Sarah Cronk, the Founder of The Sparkle Effect, also serves as its President and Creative Director. Currently a student at Whitman College, Sarah helped to create and coach the nation’s first high-school based inclusive cheerleading squad at Pleasant Valley High School in Bettendorf, Iowa, when she was just 15 years old. The Sparkle Effect is a student-run program that empowers teens nationwide to include students with disabilities in school-based cheerleading and dance programs. Learn more about Sarah here: http://www.harlequinmorethanwords.com/vote/sarah-cronk/

Shari Duval is the president of K9s For Warriors, a non-profit organization that provides service dogs to combat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and traumatic brain injury as a result of the wars since 9/11. The service is free and gives each warrior a three week, live-in program with a trained service dog, equipment, vet care, all meals and emotional support. Learn more about Shari here: http://www.harlequinmorethanwords.com/vote/shari-duval/

Ann McGee, founder of Miracle Flights for Kids® , recognized the need for coordination of aviation services that could provide no cost transportation for blood, donor organs, and sick children to medical facilities around the country that they otherwise couldn’t get to because of financial hardship. Through her dedication, the program has grown from a handful of flights for local kids to a nation-wide effort that flies boys and girls from all corners of the country. Learn more about Ann here: http://www.harlequinmorethanwords.com/vote/ann-mcgee/

Megan Yunn, founder of Beverly’s Birthdays, believes in spreading birthday cheer 365 days a year and that every child, regardless of personal or financial circumstances deserves a birthday celebration. The organization currently serve ten homeless shelters in the Pittsburgh region by throwing birthday parties for the children living in the shelters. Megan receives no income from the organization and hopes that in the future, Beverly’s Birthdays can provide a birthday celebration for every child living in transitional or emergency shelters in the Pittsburgh region. Learn more about Megan here: http://www.harlequinmorethanwords.com/vote/megan-yunn/

The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg

the all-girl filling station's last reunion

  • Title:  The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion – A Novel
  • Author:  Fannie Flagg
  • Genre:  Fiction
  • Published:  November 2013 – Random House
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  With her last daughter’s wedding behind her, Sookie Pool is looking forward to relaxing with her husband on a much-needed vacation when she receives a registered letter that turns her life upside down. The letter pushes Sookie on a journey of discovery as she tries to solve the mystery that has suddenly taken over her life.

Filled with colorful characters, my favorite of the book was Sookie. Although I didn’t identify completely with her there are certain aspects of Sookie that every woman will understand. I think we’re all on the same journey – just at different places along the way.

Fannie Flagg is one of my favorite authors. I adore her charming and funny way of telling a story that never fails to pull me completely in. That was the case in this novel. She also taught me about the WASPs (Women Airforce Service Pilots) of WWII. I’d always heard about the war effort on the home front but the WASPs were new to me. What an amazing group of women!

The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion is one of my favorite books of 2013. If you’re looking for a book that will make you laugh out loud and possibly learn something new you’ll want to read this wonderful novel.

Note:  You can learn more about the WASPs here.

Provence, 1970 by Luke Barr

provence, 1970

  • Title:  Provence, 1970  MFK Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Taste
  • Author:  Luke Barr
  • Genre:  Biography; Memoir
  • Published:  October 2013 – Clarkson Potter
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Provence, 1970 is about a singular historic moment. In the winter of that year, more or less coincidentally, the iconic culinary figures James Beard, M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, Richard Olney, Simone Beck, and Judith Jones found themselves together in the South of France. They cooked and ate, talked and argued, about the future of food in America, the meaning of taste, and the limits of snobbery. Without quite realizing it, they were shaping today’s tastes and culture, the way we eat now. The conversations among this group were chronicled by M.F.K. Fisher in journals and letters—some of which were later discovered by Luke Barr, her great-nephew. In Provence, 1970, he captures this seminal season, set against a stunning backdrop in cinematic scope—complete with gossip, drama, and contemporary relevance.  (publisher)

My take:  Luke Barr’s affection for his great-aunt Mary Frances Kennedy (MFK) Fisher is apparent in Provence, 1970. His narrative and anecdotes (culled from MF’s diaries and letters) of the last months of 1970 as well as the years before and after make for an interesting reading experience. The principal players have strong opinions where food and eating are concerned. I found myself in the camp of Beard, Fisher and Child. Cooking should not be intimidating or come with a purist attitude when presenting recipes for the masses. Rather, stress the importance of quality ingredients. Simplicity can be its own form of beauty. At least, that’s how I took the message.

Adding to the story were cooking purists who seemed to enjoy looking down their collective nose at American chefs. Their catty remarks about Fisher, Beard and Child seemed to be steeped in jealousy and self-loathing. Who knew? Not this foodie neophyte, that’s for sure.

At any rate, the late 1960s and the 1970s were times of great cultural change in the US and the world. The same could be said of the food world. Child and Beard were at the helm in showing regular people how to cook good food. And MFK Fisher wrote about eating good food. I enjoyed Provence, 1970 and think fans of cooking or any of the chefs listed, culinary students, and fans of books about eating will want to read it.