Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What are some of your summer reads?

This is my favorite time of year to catch up on all the book recommendations I receive from friends, family, co-workers, library patrons and fellow bloggers. The list is quite mind boggling sometimes, but in a good way.  I thought I would share some of the titles that have made it to the top of my summer reads list and would love to add yours.  If you have read a good book lately please share and I will add it to our list!

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

book jacketTo Be Sung Underwater by Tom McNeal
(literary fiction)
Recommended by Valerie Osborne, Northeastern Maine Library Consultant.  Valerie assures me I'm going to love this book. 

book jacketThe Wood Wife by Terri Windling
Recommended by a book group member, Sue of Coffee, Cookies and Chili Peppers book review blog. 

read Sue's review of The Wood Wife

Wicked Good: a novel of unconditional love by Amy Lewis Faircloth and Joann Lewis 
(woman's fiction)
This is a woman's fiction novel based on a mother of a child with Asperger's.  It's co-written by sisters, one of whom is a local author.  Wicked Good received an amazing review from Kirkus.

book jacketPrisoner of My Desire by Johanna Lindsey
(historical romance)
This is one of my all time favorite romance authors!  This book was first published in the 80's, I believe, but I simply must give it a reread since all her books have been recently released as eBooks.  I donated this title to the Red Nook Team.  Warning, this book comes with a Chili Pepper On Fire rating, dancing toward Roasted.

book jacketA Kind of Intimacy by Jenn Ashworth
(contemporary fiction)
Recommended by Maggie, one of our reference librarians.  She has been trying to get me to read it since last fall.  Her contemporary fiction book group will be reading it this year.  She's wearing me down.  I may just give it a try. 

read Maggie's review of A Kind of Intimacy

Dream Lake by Lisa Kleypas    (contemporary romance with a touch of magic)
Rainshadow Road was the perfect summer read and Dream Lake is the next book in the series, to be released in August!  I have it pre-ordered for the library and will most likely add it to the Nooks as well.  I can't wait.

book jacketThe Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen
(woman's/contemporary fiction)
This is the only SAA book our group hasn't read.  If it's as good as the others it will be a lovely summer read!

book jacketSworn to Silence by Linda Castillo
Recommended by a co-worker who is my go-to person for good mystery/suspense reads.  This received starred reviews from Booklist and Publishers Weekly.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

As with all of Allen's novels, The Peach Keeper is an enjoyable read.  Hints of magic, southern charm, a bit of mystery, friendships, old and new, are the bases of this storyline.  Allen books always seem to have a bit of magic realism involved, superstitions made real, like putting pennies on windowsills to rid a house of ghosts.

This story centers around two woman, Paxton and Willa, whose grandmothers were childhood friends.  Willa's family encountered difficult financial times and her grandmother became a house cleaner, while Paxton's family remained financially secure.  Due to different societal distinctions, the granddaughters never became friends.  Paxton is the head of a local Women's Society Club restoring a historical home named The MadamThe Madam once belonged to Willa's family.  During the excavation of an old peach tree a skeleton is unearthed along with long buried family secrets.

Paxton and Willa are drawn together by a mystery involving their grandmothers and learn that true friendships are not diminished by time or distinguished by social expectations.  Filled with personal growth, family relationships, acceptance of what cannot be changed, and acting on what can, are all elements that make this book yet another lovely read.

Monday, June 18, 2012

NYOBG Summer Reads

Naked In Death by J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts) and Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor are the two books chosen by our NYOBG members to read over summer break. We will be discussing them at our first meeting back in the fall, Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 6:00 PM!

On another note, SueCCCP of Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers book review blog, one of our NYOBG members, suggested a wonderful idea for this blog.  After each meeting (probably a week or so after each meeting) we will post our member's reactions to the books, along will a few questions that arose during the discussion.  That way, if you couldn't make a meeting, or if you are simply following along with our reads, you can still participate here on the blog.  If we have a review available, it will be posted along with member's reactions.

It is always fun to listen to different perspectives on a book, and how each person's opinion is usually different.

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen will be the first to be posted using this new format, hopefully by tomorrow!  If it's successful we will continue, if not, well, we'll see.  So, be sure to log in and comment and let us know your opinion.

Hope you all have a wonderful summer and share your favorite reads,

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas

Review by Jan:

I did the unthinkable with this book.  Believe it or not, I read the second book in a series before reading the first.  Christmas Eve In Friday Harbor is the first book in Lisa Kleypas' Friday Harbor series, and well... it wasn't Christmas time when I was in the mood for a Kleypas book, so I took a little step on the wild side and skipped right to the second book. 

When winter rolls around again I will read the first.

I did not feel like I missed anything, so I will say this series can be read out of order, if you're like me and don't like reading a book with a Christmas setting when it's almost summer.  :o)

Rainshadow Road is a contemporary romance with a little magic realism thrown in.  If you like books by Janet Chapman and Sarah Addison Allen, I would say give this one a try.  It is set in a quaint community with family and relationship issues a strong element of the storyline.

Lucy is a glass artist who lives in a quaint coastal town of Friday Harbor, Washington.  Lucy's younger sister, Alice, almost died as a child.  As a result, their parents made allowance for the younger Alice's misbehavior while expecting Lucy to understand.  The balance of sister equality was shattered, and, as always in this type of situation, bitterness overshadowed the sister's relationship.  As adults, their relationship worsens when Lucy learns that her fiance is leaving her for Alice.  Kevin had been having an affair with her younger sister for months.  Worse, Lucy is living with Kevin and is asked to move out so Alice can move in.

For the first time, Lucy's parent's do not defend the younger sister's actions.  Never having been looked down upon, Alice has a difficult time with her parents disapproval.  She convinces Kevin to set Lucy up on a date, knowing her parents will have an easier time accepting the new situation if Lucy is happy.

Sam Noland is the convenient friend used for Alice and Kevin's scheme.  Sam, thankfully, happens to have more honor than Kevin.  He immediately informs Lucy of Kevin's plan.  Meanwhile, Lucy has a bicycle accident and Sam feels obligated to care for her, and a distasteful arrangement soon becomes a real friendship that develops into love.  Sam is a traditional romantic hero with a troubled past that is very difficult not to like.  He and his brothers were raised by alcoholic parents, and have emotional issues as a result.  In addition, their sister passed away in an accident a year earlier and the brother's are all helping to raise their niece.

I enjoyed this book, but then I love all books by Lisa Klepas.  She has a smooth writing style and lovely characters.  The magic realism was a bit of a twist.  During times of extreme emotion, if Lucy is holding a piece of glass, it will turn into various assortment of birds or butterflies, while Sam has a deep connection to nature.  I read fantasy, so a little magic realism doesn't bother me in a contemporary read, which is why I also adore all books by Sarah Addison Allen. 

Okay, now I'm going to go off on a bit of a tangent here about the romance genre.  I read several reviews on this book that complained about its predictability.  When I pick up a romance, it is that exact predictability that I'm looking for, much like walking through the same garden but in different seasons.  Whether the flowers are blooming, leaves are falling, or snow covers branches---the path always leads back home.  If I'm looking for surprises and angst, I read a different genre.  If I'm looking for mindless escapism with a happy ending, I read romance.  Rainshadow Road was everything I want in a romance and I have already ordered the rest of the books in the series for the library.  My only uncomfortable moment in this book was the whole concept of the sister and ex-fiance setting Lucy up on a date, but Kleypas fixed it by having Sam be immediately forthcoming about the whole thing.  Honesty is so refreshing to read in a book, isn't it?

I give this book a straight Red Chili Pepper rating.
(chili pepper rating explained)

Hope to see you in our library someday soon,

Friday Harbor series by Lisa Kleypas
Book 1 - Christmas Eve In Friday Harbor -  request
Book 2 - Rainshadow Road -  request
Book 3 - Dream Lake - request
Book 4 - Crystal Cove - (on order for Feb. 2013)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Vengeance Born by Kylie Griffin

Review by Jan:

I came across this author while downloading a bunch of samples to my eReader.  For the record, I have decided that eReader samples are a marvelous thing.  I usually get my first twenty-five pages from a sample, and from there, if the author has intrigued me, I borrow it from the library.  Or, if I just can't wait one more day---I buy the book!

I bought this book.

This is the first Kylie Griffin novel I've read, and I have to admit that this cover was too tempting to ignore.  Out of all the book samples I read that day, this is the only one that compelled me to push that ever-tempting red "buy it now" button.  Vengeance Born is the first book in a new paranormal romance series.  For those of you who like books by Nalini Singh, I would recommend you try this author.

The setting is in a fantasy world where humans and demons are at war, with a human deity referred to as The Lady.  The heroine of this story, Annika, is half demon, half human, raised by her demon father.  Annika is a product of revenge in the war between the humans and demons, raised amongst demons who despise her humanity.  However, she is gifted by The Lady, the human's deity, as a powerful healer.  In an act of betrayal to her demon father, she helps a human escape the demon's torture chamber in return for his help in her own escape.

The hero, Kalan, is The Lady's chosen leader.  Imprisoned by the demons, his death a real possibility, he agrees to Annika's offer, hiding his true identity.  Throughout their escape from the demon's territory, Kalan is challenged by his own prejudice toward the demons, while conflicted by his faith, and the undeniable gift that his deity bestowed upon a half human/demon.

Without question, this book has a traditional romance genre feel, complete with love-angst, sexual tension, spicy scenes, and followed by a happy ending.  (All our book group members know how much I adore a happy ending)  With that said, there was depth to this story, especially concerning racial prejudice.  I was engrossed by the fantasy world Griffin created.  She formed a believable war between two races fueled by ignorance and prejudices on both sides.  It was an enjoyable read, and in many ways thought provoking---with a happy ending, of course!

Alliance Forged
is the next book in this series.  I have ordered both books for the library's collection.

Hope to see you in our library someday soon,

 Chili Pepper On Fire