Posts Tagged ‘Love Stories’

Best ‘New to Us’ Books in 2014: Melissa O’s Picks

December 26, 2014

I read a wide variety of books of all different genres. Ask me for a suggestion and I most likely have read something that would appeal to you. Here are five books I stumbled upon this year. Some have been out there a long time, others are more recent arrivals, but they are all worth checking out and passing along for more to enjoy!

The Devil's BonesThe Devil’s Bones by Jefferson Bass
Bill Brockton is a forensic anthropologist who founded the Body Farm at the University of Tennessee. There he and his team study of the science of decomposition. He also finds himself drawn into the danger and drama of the murders they are trying to solve. It starts out simply enough, a woman’s charred body in a burned out car. How did she die? Then he receives a package of strange cremated remains. Suddenly he is fighting for his life and trying to solve a crime so hideous you won’t want to believe it. Another reason to love this book is that the author, Jefferson Bass, is actually a pseudonym for Bill Bass, the real-life famous forensic anthropologist and founder of the Body Farm, and cowriter Jon Jefferson. How cool is that!

Pioneer WomanPioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels – a love story by Ree Drummond
I had never read her blog, watched her cooking show, or picked up one of her cookbooks when I stumbled on this autobiography by Ree Drummond. As someone who spent some time feeling lost and unsure about the future, I could relate to her feelings as she struggled with where her next steps should take her. She never thought that future would mean staying in rural Oklahoma. And she certainly didn’t think it would involve a cowboy! I became lost in the words, flowery and syrupy as they sometimes are, as she “accidently” found herself on a cattle ranch and having adventures she never could have pictured in her future. A great read about taking a chance on love and setting out on the path less traveled.

Dangerous PassageDangerous Passage by Lisa Harris
This is a new inspirational series introducing widowed police detective Avery North and medical examiner Jackson Bryant. Harris nicely intertwines a love story into a thrilling murder mystery. Young Asian women are being murdered and the only link between them seems to be a small tattoo of a magnolia blossom. The investigation seems to simply uncover more mysteries and cover ups. Can they solve the case before more women go missing, and will Avery be ready to open her heart to love again?

 

Stand Up That MountainStand Up That Mountain by Jay Erskine Leutze
If you love the outdoors, this book is for you. If you love gut wrenching legal battles, this book is for you. If you love to root for the little guy, well you get the picture. Jay has escaped his life as an attorney and retreated to the North Carolina Mountains. Living quietly as a naturalist and fisherman, he loves the Appalachian Trail. He learns from a family of “mountain people” that a mining company plans to dynamite Belview Mountain, which sits right beside the Trail. They have evidence of their less than ethical behavior and the fight is on. As an avid mountain hiker and lover of nature, this book captured me, especially since it is in our own backyard! It is hard to believe that we almost lost one of the great treasures of our state. Jay Erskine Leutze recounts his story of the ground breaking legal fight to save this tiny Appalachian community in a book that is as engaging as any fiction tale.

SubmergedSubmerged by Dani Pettrey
The old saying “you can never go home again” seemed to hold true for Bailey Craig. Yet home is exactly where she found herself, for better or worse. She left Yancey, Alaska in disgrace, now can she find forgiveness? Bailey returned to bury her beloved aunt her died in a plane crash. Was it an accident or was it murder? Cole McKenna has put his past with Bailey behind him, until she shows up in town again. Soon she is fighting for her own life. Can Cole accept that Bailey has changed and help her solve the murder before she becomes another victim? Dani Pettrey is a new author and anyone who loves Dee Henderson’s novels should check her out. This new inspirational suspense series is fantastic and I can’t wait to continue the journey with her characters.

Advertisements

Best New Books of 2014: Amy W’s Picks

December 1, 2014

I enjoy a well-balanced diet…of books. Here we have something for EVERYONE from light and fun page-turners to thought-provoking non-fiction. Don’t let 2014 end without checking out any (or all) of these awesome books!

This Dark Road to MercyThis Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash
Easter and Ruby are two young girls placed in foster care after the sudden death of their junkie mother. The girls are used to watching out for themselves. They hope to be adopted, but do not want to live with their maternal grandparents in Alaska, total strangers, living in a strange land. Their estranged father, a washed up amateur league baseball player, appears suddenly and confuses the already precarious situation. In the backdrop of the novel and adding to the tension, is the home run rivalry between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire. The scores go back and forth and the competition is of interest to everyone. This Dark Road to Mercy is a well-constructed, page-turner that artfully tells a moving story in which children are once again thrust into an adult world.  See my full review.

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast
Roz Chast, a longtime New Yorker cartoonist, documents the slow decline of her aging parents. Not only does this impact her life at the time, but spending time with them at their most vulnerable brings up old anxieties. No surprise, Chast tackles this subject with great humor and candor. I found this book to be comforting and thought provoking. The graphic memoir format really lends itself to exploring a topic I would ordinarily shy away from reading.

LandlineLandline by Rainbow Rowell
Remember back in the 80’s when you would talk on the phone for an eternity until your ear actually hurt? I do. I loved talking on the phone, not so much cell phones— and texting has its moments if you can get past all the auto-correct errors. Nothing will ever surpass the old school telephone when it comes to connecting with another person. Georgie McCool is in crisis mode. She is a writer for a sitcom that just may get a pilot. Her marriage, family, mental health and personal hygiene suffer from the effort. She needs to reconnect. Her old yellow phone becomes her lifeline to the past and the present. Told with great humor and tenderness, Landline is a delight!

All Joy and No FunAll Joy and No Fun by Jennifer Senior
Why, why, why is parenting so hard today? This thought has crossed my mind a lot, well, more accurately, this thought lives in my mind and it ain’t goin’ nowhere. Parenting seemed easy for my mom (it also did not hurt that I was a perfect child, am I right?). This is really the only parenting book I have ever read and boy, do I love it! It is not a book about how to parent , but a look at what parenting is about these days from a sociological and psychological perspective. So, I was right — it is hard–but now I spend a lot less time focusing on the no fun aspects of parenting. See my full review.

Thousand Dollar Tan LineThe Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas
I loved the Veronica Mars television series! This book takes place a few years after the series ends when Veronica gets really close to joining the FBI but decides to live and work in her small, California beach-side hometown, Neptune. Written by the series creator, writer and producer, Rob Thomas, stylistically the book is true to the spirit of the show and the 2014 movie. I know you are thinking, “that sounds kind of low-brow for you, a well-read librarian”. Well, it’s not. This book is not great literature, but it is perfectly entertaining and it was great to be reunited with old friends (this is the part where you remember the catchy theme song…A long time ago, we used to be friends….).

Save the Date by Mary Kay Andrews

November 19, 2014

Bloom owner, Cara Kryzik is a talented florist slowly making a name for herself with Savannah’s elite. Bloom is doing steady business and she has a great reputation in Savannah for being creative and cutting edge.

Cara and her assistant, Bert are making great progress on the arrangements and other decor for the Fanning wedding, the most high profile wedding she has secured and everything must go accordingly. In spite of a major obstacle, Cara’s ability to pull off The Fanning wedding opened many doors for her, and lands her the biggest wedding of her career. Brooke Trappnell has requested that Cara not only do the floral arrangements for her wedding, but also serve as the wedding planner. Obtaining the contract for the Trappnell-Strayhorn wedding will put her in a position to take care of some urgent financial obligations. Cara is busy at work trying to get everything in place for the wedding but she still finds time to pursue a courtship with Jack Finnerty, a handsome contractor that she keeps bumping into at weddings.

As Cara starts working out the details for the Trappnell-Strayhorn wedding, life starts to spiral out of control. Her assistant starts pulling no shows, a new florist in town is trying to sabotage her reputation, her romance with Jack fizzles, and her bride may be coming down with a case of cold feet.

Save the Date has just the right dose of suspense, wit, romance and southern charm. In her usual fashion, Mary Kay Andrews paints a colorful story and introduces you to a great cast of characters.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

The Last Girlfriend on Earth: and Other Love Stories by Simon Rich

October 23, 2014

The Last Girlfriend on Earth: and Other Love StoriesThis is not your traditional book of short love stories. Is there a traditional one of those? I don’t know, but this definitely isn’t it.

Simon Rich is a very funny man. I was first introduced to his writing through Elliot Allagash, his first novel, back in 2010. I did a lot of giggling. So when I saw this collection of short stories on the shelf, I wanted to give it a go.

I tend to like a short story collection, which I know not everyone does. I generally prefer to space out my consumption of the stories — I have trouble staying engaged reading an entire book of short stories at once. For The Last Girlfriend on Earth, though, this was not the case. Some stories are as short as a page and a half, others are somewhat longer, but each is a quick read that will have you wanting to move right on to the next.

The stories are broken into three thematic segments; Boy Meets Girl, Boy Gets Girl, and Boy Loses Girl. Classic tales of love and heartbreak, you might be thinking. But you are incorrect, dear friend. Rich’s plots and characters vary wildly, from the “girl” in question being your basic under-the-bridge troll (think: short, hairy, speaks in grunts) to the “boy” being Hitler, now aged 124, wheel-chair ridden, and hitting the party scene with his new gal in New York.

It’s all really very silly, but sometimes that’s exactly what you need.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

October 2, 2014

The Book of Unknown AmericansThis is a passionate novel about what it means to become “American,” from a new immigrant perspective.

Meet the Riveras, Arturo, Alma and Maribel. The opening scene of the novel has the Riveras confused after being dropped off at a Newark, Delaware, convenience store fresh from 3 day cross-border journey from their small town in Mexico. Thinking that the convenience store/gas station is where Americans shop, the Riveras are baffled by the microwave hot dogs, slushy drinks and high prices of food in plastic. Into this confusing landscape Arturo and Alma have brought their 15-year old daughter Maribel from Mexico; she suffers from a traumatic brain injury that dramatically altered her personality and ability to reason, but with the right education, she has a chance at regaining function. In search of a better life for his daughter, Arturo forgoes his own construction company in Mexico, and gets a job toiling in the dark in a mushroom factory in the hopes that the US education system they have dreamed about can help Maribel.

The entire novel is focused on and set in a concrete block, low-income apartment building whose residents are new immigrants from all over Central and South America. The residents’ stories are told in alternating chapters. Equally compelling is the story of the Toros, a Panamanian family whose son Mayor falls for the gorgeous Maribel. Rather than seeing Maribel as damaged and needing fixing as the rest of the world (and her parents) see her, Mayor accepts her for what she is, although their ill-fated puppy love will have disastrous consequences for all.

The novel mirrors life, insanely and hysterically funny (the passage where the Toros finally buy a car and attempt to drive) to tragic. The overriding story of puppy love, cross cultural assimilation and the struggle to survive within The American Dream is masterfully told, while the inherent politics concerning immigration are gracefully but somewhat unrealistically sidestepped (Arturo got a work visa to be pack mushrooms?) Henriquez is a master storyteller, and her characters offer insight into the immigrant experience that is a good reminder of who we are as a culture. In the words of one reviewer, in case we’ve forgotten, it all started this way. One of the characters, in a particularly insightful passage, says, “We’re the unknown Americans, the ones no one even wants to know, because they’ve been told they’re supposed to be scared of us and because maybe if they did take the time to get to know us, they might realize that we’re not all that bad, maybe even that we’re a lot like them. And who would they hate then?”

Recommended novel, a great book club discussion choice. I’m a pretty hard-nosed, jaded reader, and this book touched me.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

July 18, 2014

Like Water for ChocolateWelcome to post-revolution northern Mexico, at the turn of the 20th century, the dry, violent land of Pancho Villa, on the border with the United States. Tita is the last-born daughter of a wealthy hacienda owner/widow; as the last-born daughter, her role is to remain unmarried to care for her mother, a nasty control freak who is destined to make Tita’s life as miserable as possible. Stifled in the kitchen and in her role as unmarried daughter, Tita manages to communicate through the food she creates. Any emotions she feels – anger, love, sadness–are conveyed in the traditional Mexican cuisine she prepares for her family. Tita is in love with Pedro. They wish to marry, but Tita’s mother squelches that idea and marries Tita’s sister Rosaura to Pedro. Tita is crushed, and the story chronicles Tita’s lifetime love for Pedro, most unrequited.

Esquivel is one of the best magical realism authors around, and she melds a captivating story that is rich in dialogue, character, and setting. Mexico City-native Esquivel worked in television programming before writing Like Water for Chocolate, her first novel. Her settings are especially evocative, and it is no surprise that the novel was made into a movie in the 1990’s. Esquivel is an effective observer of social roles of women, vis a vis the role of women in the Mexican home. The translation is full and one need not know anything about Mexican history or society to enjoy this novel, as the themes of family tension, love, and jealousy are universal, and the novel is not chock full of regional references; any references are fully explained, as in the history of the recipes that Tita prepares. This is an older novel, but one that I re-read every now and then because, like Tita’s cooking, it is rich and evocative.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

A Room With a View by E.M. Forster

July 2, 2014

A Room With a ViewBeing a fan of Jane Austen, I can’t help but love A Room With a View. Even though it was written nearly 100 years after Austen, this novel by E.M. Forster has many Austen hallmarks.

The main character, 19-year-old Lucy Honeychurch, is a member of the English upper middle class, and she hasn’t quite worked out yet just who she is and what she wants from life. On a trip to Italy with her maiden aunt Charlotte, Lucy meets George Emerson and his father, a pair who speak the truth without realizing how offensive this can be. When Lucy witnesses a tragic incident in the town square, George helps her to return to their hotel, and the two form a bond that Lucy refuses to acknowledge, even to herself. Instead, she becomes engaged to Cecil Vyse, an arrogant, upper class prig of a man who views Lucy as someone he can shape into his ideal woman. Back at home in England, George enters Lucy’s life again. He declares his love for her, but she continues to refuse to see that she feels the same about him.

The most amusing character, and the most Austenian, is Aunt Charlotte. Here she is on a picnic arguing with Lucy about which of them will have the use of a mackintosh square to protect them from the damp ground:

“The ground will do for me. Really I have not had rheumatism for years. If I do feel it coming on I shall stand.” … She cleared her throat. “Now don’t be alarmed; this isn’t a cold. It’s the tiniest cough, and I have had it three days. It’s nothing to do with sitting here at all.”

A Room With a View is Forster’s lightest, most optimistic novel. However, if your copy has an appendix in it, then you will discover that the author did not expect things to go well for his heroine and hero after the events of the book. You can read the appendix  here.  Personally, I prefer a happy ending for Lucy and George.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

Shopgirl by Steve Martin

April 22, 2014

Shopgirl by Steve MartinSpring is here again. What a relief. It sometimes seems like this will be the year of eternal winter. Nope. It is here again and all that new energy brings thoughts of romance to some, hay fever to others. Here is a little love story by Steve Martin who is a lovely writer. A novella is the perfect book for your purse or man bag if you still read paper and this one is not short on endearing, imperfect characters and a concise storyline with the elegant complexity that you would expect from Martin.

As the story opens, Mirabelle is a young, somewhat idealistic clerk at Macy’s who meets an older, more experienced, maybe jaded man, Ray Porter, who is buying a pair of fine gloves for his current lover. With an awkward glimpse of her dating life we also meet a young man, Jeremy, who haphazardly inhabits her bedroom one evening before he leaves the picture for a while on a trip out west. While on his journey, Ray Porter woos Mirabelle with the adult and sophisticated rewards of having fought his way to middle age gathering what is valued and stylishly presented in L.A.

As Mirabelle waits for Ray to pick her up for their second date, after he has spent as much as one month of her rent on their first dinner, she looks around her apartment.  It hasn’t changed much since she graduated from college and got her first job.  She contemplates how things might go when he arrives: “Mirabelle doesn’t have a real sofa, only a low-lying futon cradled in a wood brace, which means that anyone attempting to sit on it is immediately jackknifed at floor level. If a visitor allows an arm to fall to one side, it will land on the gritty hardwood. If he sits with a drink, it has to be put on the floor at cat level. She reminds herself not to ask Ray to sit down.”

Martin’s shrewd observations give these characters enough of the dark shadings of human nature to make them real and interesting. If I told you that it was a terrific movie too, would you promise to read it first?

Find and reserve this book in our catalog

Promise Me by Richard Paul Evans

March 19, 2014

Beth Cardall has a blissful marriage, a beautiful six-year-old daughter, Charlotte, a promising job, and sisterly friendship with Roxanne at the Cleaner. Her once perfect life suddenly turns upside down when she discovers that her perfect husband is unfaithful to her and later dies of pancreatic cancer leaving Beth in a financial crisis. Her daughter is also suffering from a mysterious illness that doctors cannot diagnose correctly. On Christmas day, a strikingly young handsome man named Matthew walks into her life at a 7- Eleven convenience store when she is not ready for a romance. He tirelessly pursues Beth until she eventually falls for him.

Beth notices that Matthew acts very strange during the course of their relationship because he seems to know everything about her and her daughter. He is also charming. Unfortunately, Beth is very disappointed to find out that Matthew has withdrawn all her money from their joint account to gamble. What a pleasant Christmas surprise of her life when Matthew returns all the money to her, including the winnings. She discovers more unforgettable mysteries about Matthew and Charlotte when he confesses that he is not supposed to fall in love with her because he is married to Charlotte, her daughter, in his future life.

My favorite character in this story is Roxanne, Beth’s supervisor at the Cleaner, for her tireless support of Beth. I picked this book because it’s an easy read. Richard Paul Evans is one of my favorite authors; I will read anything he writes, and I was not disappointed picking this book as my Christmas read.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

February 7, 2014

If you already love fantasy or are thinking about trying something for the first time,  Anna Banks’s Of Poseidon is a must-read.

The book opens with a humorous encounter with a gorgeous guy and a couple of teens on vacation in Florida. When a beach trip goes tragically wrong, Emma’s life suddenly takes a very different turn. She has always been an ordinary, if somewhat klutzy teen. This all changes when the mysterious guy, Galen, she met on the beach that sad day turns out to be a merman prince and claims she has an ability that will save her people. But, Emma is as stubborn as they come. So, she’s had a few strange things happen to her in her life, that does not mean she’s willing to leave it all behind and believe she is the answer to a race of fish-people’s problems. Can Galen convince Emma to help his people and discover who she really is along the way without falling for her in the process?

This book is written with so much humor you’ll be kept laughing the whole way. Of Poseidon is a young adult novel but definitely one adults of all ages will enjoy as we see the role family and responsibility play in our decisions in life. Emma is a strong main female character who knows how to take even a bad situation and find something amusing to take from it. The love that develops between Emma and Galen will have you in love with them as well and wanting to be best friends with their wonderful family. If you’re looking for a light, funny read, set in modern times with a fantasy twist, definitely pick up this amazing book.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog


%d bloggers like this: