Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Rogue By Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean

Book CoverThis book was delicious, with witty dialog and love scenes worthy of a flaming chili pepper rating.

The best part of the holiday season, for me, is curling up with a good historical romance.  However, I've been a bit moody this year, and I will say it's me because I've begun five romances in this genre and not finished a single one.  I was looking for that particular romance magic, a heroine I can route for and a hero who's angst is believable.  I found it with A Rogue By Any Other Name.  So all is not lost this holiday season in my own little private reading world. 

When he was young and foolish, Michael Borne lost his entire estate to his guardian in a game of chance.  He spent ten years rebuilding his wealth for the ultimate goal of revenge.  When his estate and family home is acquired by a former neighbor in another game of chance, and added to that neighbor's plain and aging daughter's dowry, Borne moves in and forces her hand in marriage.  Penelope is 29ish (I can't remember her age exactly and don't want to try and backtrack on the Nook), let's just say she is old for the regency era to still be unmarried, but I do love a romance that isn't about barely removed teenagers, so I appreciate the almost-a-spinster heroine.  She is well aware he wants her only for her dowry but there is a former relationship of childhood friendship, and friendship, as proven with this story, can be a more powerful persuader than revenge.

What added depth to this story, for me, is that their relationship began when they were children.  The author did a wonderful job portraying this endearing relationship though correspondence. 

I enjoyed this book so much I donated it to the Red Nook Team.  Also, we have just added a copy to the library's collection.  request A Rogue By Any Other Name from The Bangor Public Library

This is the first book in MacLean's new Rules Of Scoundrel's series.  The second looks just as fun; One Good Earl Deserves a Lover is due out the end of the month.

I hope you all are having a wonderful holiday season and are reading lots of good books to share with us at January's meeting.

Please note: I have given this book a flaming chili pepper rating.  view rating system

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

It has been so long since I have done a book review I’m not sure if I remember how.  For November we were suppose to read two books, “A Discovery of Witches” by Deborah Harkness and “A Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman.  I came down with that nasty cold that had been going around so I was only able to finish one of the books before the meeting; this was “A Discovery of Witches.”

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. While we have a few familiar elements, such as witches and vampires, it is a new take on these beings. We also have another class of beings in this book, and they are the daemons.  For millennium these three types of being have worked hard to hide themselves from humans.  The two main characters are Diana Bishop, a historian and a witch, and Matthew Clairmont who happens to be a scientist as well as a vampire.  Diana who is doing research on alchemy asks for a book from the Bodleian Library.  It is most commonly known as Ashmole 782, she soon realizes that the book has a spell cast upon it. This poses a problem for Diana who tries not to use magic to further her research. The reason for this is that her parents, who were both witches, were killed on a trip to Africa, so Diana would rather have nothing to do with magic at all.  But the book proves too tempting for Diana and she breaks the spell, she quickly realizes that the book is a palimpsest, or a manuscript within a manuscript.  But this was not just any palimpsest, where the parchment had been reused and the old writing was showing through.  Diana can only catch glimpses of what the manuscript is hiding.  She soon realizes that there is more to this book than it seems, and that each type of creature is desperate to get a hold of this manuscript which has been “lost” for 150 years. Diana soon realizes that there are more witches, vampires, and daemons in Oxford than she thought possible.  

We follow Diana’s and Mathew’s budding romance which is of course has many twists and turns.  Diana also starts to experience some witch talents that she had been unaware of, such as witch water and witch wind.  These talents are extremely rare, so Matthew, who is a geneticist, tests her DNA and finds out that, she has a marker for almost every single witch talent.  Most witches at the most only have one or two.  Both of Diana’s parents were very powerful witches and obviously passed down most of their talents.  Diana has always been a kind of mystery to the rest of her kind because she doesn’t practice her craft; she would rather rely on just her intellect to produce her scholarly work.  As her and Matthew’s relationship get quite serious the other creatures get quite agitated and so far as to spy on her and break into her apartment.  At this point Matthew is actually afraid of what the witches and daemons might do to Diana he brings her to his “mother” in France. 

I really enjoyed this book and have started the second book.  There were a few aspects that bothered me, such as Diana’s lack of awareness as to how much she actually uses magic her life and her approach to her and Matthew’s relationship.  I had no problem getting right into the book but many other group members said that it took a bit for them to get into the story.

Friday, November 16, 2012

January's Books

As always, we had another fun meeting and welcomed some new members.  If you couldn't make it last night, this is just a reminder that we are not meeting in December, so the two books chosen at last night's meeting will be discussed January 24th, 2013!

The group chose two very different books so that should be fun to read over the holidays.  Remember, you only have to read the one that interests you most.

And the two books that won the vote were...

Hope you all have a wonderful holiday season, and see you in January!
Jan and Sarah

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

It's Book Group Week

The book vote is ready to go, although a bit late, so please take a moment and place your vote before Thursday.  We have replace a few low vote receivers with some new NYOBG suggestions.  Remember, this is just the first round of eliminations; the top four books from each category will be voted on in person! 

Hope to see you all on Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 6:00 pm!  We will be in the Lecture Hall this month, on the third floor of the library under the dome!

~ Jan and Sarah

And the winners were...
A Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster
Don't Look Down by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer

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Friday, October 19, 2012

November's Books

We had another wonderful meeting, and the hummingbird cupcakes were so worth the calories!  The winners of last night's vote were A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness and The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, fitting reads around Halloween.  Both these books will be discussed at November's meeting.  Remember, you only have to read the book that interests you most.

Not too surprisingly, both these books were nominated and chosen by our members, and were the only two books that neither Sarah and I have read yet, but we've heard good things about both.  Sarah will tweet and post on facebook as soon as they are downloaded on the Nooks. 

According to our NYOBG member who nominated The Graveyard Book, a young adult novel that has adult concepts, "It has a dark setting the begins with an infant escaping murderers of his family and toddling off to a graveyard where he is protected by ghosts.  Very well written."  She is currently doing a read-along of this book on her blog if you want to skip over and take a look... Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers

A Discovery of Witches, at 500+ pages, is probably the heavier read.  According to our NYOBG member who highly recommended this book, "It encompasses all the paranormal elements of a book I like, with a little bit of time travel, magic and history that are all well described.  It felt as if I was in the places the author wrote about."

If you want Sarah or I to request a hard cover copy of either book just let us know.  Our emails are on the left sidebar of this blog.

As always, hope to see you in our library someday soon,


Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen

Hummngbird Cupcakes, recipe from The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen

I will begin this post with cupcakes because that is what Sarah Addison Allen's books remind me of, something wonderful and sweet that always make me smile.

I wasn't surprised when this book was nominated by our members, and then immediately voted in.  It is the last book by Sarah Addison Allen that our book group hadn't read.  So now, until she writes another, we have officially read a full book run of an author.  Garden Spells is still my favorite, but this one held my favorite character.  That being said, I enjoyed every single one of her novels; I was always hooked from the very first page and always finished in one sitting.  How many authors can we say that about?

The Girl Who Chased the Moon begins with Emily, a teenage girl who moves to the small southern town of Mullaby, known for its barbecue.  Emily's mother passed away and the only remaining relative is Vance, a grandfather she never knew.  Emily's mother moved away due to a past she wasn't proud of and a scandal the town of Mullaby hasn't forgotten.  Vance is abnormally tall, a gentle giant who accepts his new responsibility to his granddaughter with endearing awkwardness.

Vance's neighbor, Julia, takes Emily under her protective wing, knowing the people of Mullaby will not welcome her due to a secret her mother revealed in a public display about Mullaby's most prominent family.  The display resulted in a family member's death.  Julia owns a restaurant, inherited from her father, and bakes cakes to increase business, and for other reasons.  She wants to sell the restaurant and open a bakery.  I will not reveal the real motivation behind her baking in this review as not to give away an important scene.  Julia is an amazing character, my favorite out of all Allen's books to date. 

As with all of Allen's novels, The Girl Who Chased the Moon is filled with Southern charm, recipes I want to try, and a bit of magic realism.  I have learned to expect a charming touch of whimsy in all of Allen's books, superstitions made real in a quirky setting.

Most importantly, especially for our meeting that discusses this book, Sarah Addison Allen included recipes of the cakes Julia bakes in the story.  I have made hummingbird cupcakes.  I won't tell you how much sugar, butter and cream cheese is in the recipe, only that it is very Southern, and very divine---what I lovingly refer to as quality calories, food worth gaining a pound for.

As always, hope to see you in our library someday soon,

Monday, October 15, 2012

It's Book Group Week!

Our online vote is ready to go, so be sure to vote before this week's meeting!  We added all the new suggestions from our members, and kept some high vote receivers as well.  Remember, this is just the first round of eliminations; the top four books from each category will be voted on in person! 

Hope to see you all on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 6:00 pm!  We're in the Board Room again.  We will be discussing Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and The Girl Who Chased the Moon, and voting on next month's books.

See you  this Thursday,
Jan and Sarah

The winners were...
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harness
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Books to read for October's Meeting

Our first fall meeting was wonderful, as always. It was lovely to meet new members who joined the group and see returning ones as well. The books that won the book votes were The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley, and The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen.

Just remember you only have to read the book that interests you most, although it's going to be a hard decision this month! I think we're all are going to end up reading both.

We will discuss the books at our October meeting.

The next book vote should be ready next week, so keep checking back for reviews and other fun happenings.

Hope to see you in our library someday soon,

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Search by Nora Roberts

Book CoverReview by Jan:

With this book, as with most of Nora Robert's books, I am reminded why this author dominates a genre, simply because she is a consistent, and good, storyteller.  I have been in a weird reading mood, not able to get into much this summer, and was grateful to find a story I didn't want to put down.  I picked this book up because it was recommended by a NYOBG member and because it made our fall vote.  Also, it received good reviews from the mystery/thriller readers of our library.

Fiona Bristow is the sole survivor of George Perry, a serial killer who abducted and strangled his victims with a red scarf.  Perry is now in prison and exacting his revenge on Fiona through a proxy student.  Several years earlier, she lost her fiance and his K-9 officer to Perry.  A survivor, she rebuilt her life on a Orcas Island in the San Juans off of Washington.  She trains dogs for search and rescue.  When Perry's "student" begins to recreate his murders, she finds herself fighting her former tormentor once again.

Although this story leans more toward a mystery/thriller, there is a hero and romance interest.  Simon is a carpenter, ornery and quite attached to his solitude, and unprepared for Fiona in his life.  His mother gave him a lab puppy as a present, not wanting her son to be alone.  Desperate for help with a new canine chewing terror in his routine life, Simon brings his puppy to Fiona for training.  The  relationship dynamics of the puppy and owner is both entertaining and heartwarming.  This book has quite a bit of dog training and search and rescue scenes throughout.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, especially because I adore dogs and have my own puppy training issues at the moment.  The mystery/thriller elements were well executed, as were the characters and their motivations.  It was a great summer read.

As always, hope to see you in our library someday soon,

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Do you have any book suggestions for our fall vote?

We are preparing for our fall book vote. Our first meeting back from summer break is September 20, 2012! We will launch the first on-line vote in August. So, in the meantime, if you have any books suggestions you want added to the vote please comment below!

Here is a list of recommendations we've gathered so far...

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Hope you're all having a wonderful summer,