Monday, February 25, 2013

Off the Book Shelf: MARRIED IN SEATTLE

What can you expect from Debbie Macomber? A heartwarming romance with some smiles.

(This copy was picked up at a used book fair at the mall -- evidenced by 2 hand-written price stickers, as well as a used bookstore stamp. Wow, this book got around! Well, it can stop wandering now -- I hold onto ALL the Debbie Macomber books that come my way.)

MARRIED IN SEATTLE is actually two novellas, both about the frustrations of two couples who never would have chosen each other -- and most likely never would have found each other -- except for some well-meaning, irritating, know-it-all, smug, stubborn interference from those who love them best.

I had to chuckle, reading about Janine and Zach, who are put together by her grandfather/his business partner. The more they tried to work together to convince her grandfather that they do not belong together -- that they don't even like each other -- the more they are drawn together.

Maybe if they had used email to communicate, the campaign would have worked better?

Then there are Meg and Steve. Her daughter and his sister placed lonely hearts ads for them, and then compounded the deception by answering as them. Suddenly Meg found herself on a first date with a man she didn't even know existed until an hour before.

And the rest is history.

If you want to relax with a fun, sweet read, this book is a good choice. Debbie always delivers!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Off the Bookshelf: WYRD WRAVINGS

Anthologies. Love 'em or hate 'em? Depends on what the theme is... I suppose the whole purpose of anthologies is to give you a taste of a writer's style and maybe a series of books he or she is known for, so you go look for more.

WYRD WRAVINGS is an anthology of SF/F put out by Echelon Press, that I got as a prize at the Intergalactic Bar and Grill "party," hosted by Linnea Sinclair, at Romantic Times last year in Chicago. Mega-fun party. Way too short. The SF trivia game was inspired. And all the door prizes of goodies ... some silly, some great -- and delicious. (You had to be there!)

Not enough room to give you an idea of the 10 very, very different stories by 10 very, very different authors. But I had fun reading them. Wrapping my mind around them. And struggling through the "Huh?" moment when my brain had to shift gears -- quickly -- from one universe to another. A few that stand out in my mind is the hard-up-for-money time traveler who sold a dune buggy to King Tut -- or the author having major problems with his characters, who keep threatening to talk with their union rep -- or something that could only be described as desperate, unappreciated housewives meet a pyramid scheme meet an intergalactic travel agency ...

If you want a short vacation from reality, no matter what your taste is in spec fic, you'll probably find it in this book. Thanks to: Margaret Bailey, Ellen Dawn Benefield, Linda DeMeulemeester, Karen Duvall, Lazette Gifford, Lynn David Hebert, Kfir Luzatto, Janet Miller, Candace Sams, and Marc Vun Kannon.

On a side note: I'm now part of the Barn Door blog. Check it out, for insights and humor and other assorted offerings. A different blogger every day. My day is the 19th of every month. But like with an anthology, no matter what your tastes, you'll probably find something you like!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Off the Bookshelf: THE SILVER SWORD

If you've read any of the books I've written, you know I like tough chicks. My very FIRST published book was of a woman warrior. So when Angela Hunt came out with a series of books featuring the female descendants of a heroic woman warrior ... Well, wouldn't you wonder if I DIDN'T read it?

THE SILVER SWORD, by Angela Elwell Hunt, is the first book about the heirs of Cahira O'Connor.

All of them are marked with red hair, with a streak of white.

The stories are framed by the research and quest of the modern-day daughter of Cahira, Kathleen O'Connor ... who is somewhat dismayed when she starts to realize that she might just be caught up in the legacy Cahira left for her descendants.

As always, Angela Hunt tells a good story. No matter what genre she journeys through. She's one of those authors I admire -- nay, envy! -- because she breaks the rules. Everywhere writers go in writing conferences and workshops, we're being told we have to stick with ONE genre, because we don't want to confuse our readers. That readers who pick up our historical romances won't be pleased when the next book is a futuristic shoot-em-up with nary a speck of romance in it. Angela Hunt writes what she darn well pleases and her readers gladly follow along and gulp it down as soon as they can.

I wanna be Angie Hunt when I grow up!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Off the Bookshelf: BLISS

C.S. Lewis once said that a good book is one that you enjoy as an adult as well as in childhood. I like reading YA books -- and not just because I write YA. There's a lot of fun and imagination and possibilities, and I enjoy going back and rediscovering books I originally found in the junior high library. Of course, I read The Odyssey in 7th grade, so you can't really judge by my experiences ...


BLISS, by Kathryn Littlewood, was a book I picked up recently from Nook's Free Book Fridays. It looked like a lot of fun -- and proved to more than live up to its PR.

What's it about?
Baking, and magic, and kids who are conned and get into trouble while their parents are away.

But oh ... so much MORE than that!

The setting: The Bliss Bakery -- perfect name for a bakery, don't you think? -- in a town called Calamity Falls. The parents, Purdy and Albert, have a talent for bakery that not only suits the current needs, but seems to magically fix all sorts of ... problems. When they head off to another town to help stem a terrible flu epidemic, the kids are left to help run the bakery: Ty (Thyme), Rose (Rosemary), Sage, and Leigh (Parsley). Anyone hearing strains of Simon and Garfunkle music?

Barely has the sound of the departing car engine faded from the air when Aunt Lily drives up on her motorcycle. Rose is the only one who is suspicious about this conveniently appearing relative that they never really heard about, but even she is taken in by Aunt Lily's glamour and charm.

Things get ... hmm ... interesting when the kids decide to use the family's magical cook book to fix some problems, and some problematic people, in town. The magical ingredients are clever and the kids show their potential for future escapades and brilliant futures -- if they survive -- by how they reason through their dilemmas. The ending makes me think there are more adventures for the Bliss family, especially since they have to deal with the fallout of Aunt Lily's duplicity and schemes.

More, please? I will definitely be on the lookout for more Bliss Bakery stories from Kathryn Littlewood!