Monday, December 29, 2014

Off the Bookshelf: The Christmas Traditions Series: AN APPLE FOR CHRISTMAS and CHRISTMAS LESSONS

Love at Christmas, with touches of humor and hurt, growth, historical settings, and charm.

There are more short stories in this series than the two I read, which I got from Amazon. Both were charming, quick reads, in different locations and time periods, with different challenges for the heroines and the heroes to overcome, but both were set in schools. I don't know enough about the series to know if all the stories were set in schools in different periods of history, but it might just be worth buying the rest of the stories to find out!

CHRISTMAS LESSONS intrigued me because the heroine is physically challenged -- not going to tell you how -- and part of her problem is proving she is just as able as everyone around her. She and the hero have a past. Will love help them get over their differences and old pain? AN APPLE FOR CHRISTMAS is set in Vermont and deals largely with apple farming, an apple farmer, and education for females.

Charming. I wasn't able to read very many Christmas stories in time for Christmas, but who says you have to limit reading stories set at Christmas to just Christmas time? If you don't have a lot of time for reading, look for these. Small bites can be just as satisfying as full-length stories.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Off the Bookshelf: TITANIUM by Linda Palmer

Today's Spotlight book hasn't officially hit the bookshelves yet.

TITANIUM, by fellow Uncial Press author Linda Palmer, is due to be released in February.

You can pre-order Uncial Press books from Amazon and Kobo and Nook and iBooks -- I believe -- so it might be a good idea to put this on your wish list and ask for it before it's officially out.

Yeah, it's that good.

Part suspense, part romance, part sociological treatise on fandom and the wounded warriors phenomenon ... there's a lot of book packed into its mere 180 pages.

Riley is our heroine, a college student working a frustrating job for the proverbial boss from heck. Some jerk customers at the taco stand target her -- jerks dressed up as zombies.

Fortunately for her, Zander, a vet who lost a leg, has a sixth sense for danger. He notices the zombies watching Riley and leaps into action. Despite his better judgment, their lives are soon intertwined. Which is a good thing when Riley's estranged father enrages some lunatic fringe fans of his cult classic comic book, "Titanium," and they -- yep, you guessed it, the zombies -- strike out at Riley to ... well, you're just gonna have to read the book to find out what's going on and why.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Off the Bookshelf: MANIPULATIONS, Shifters Book 1 by Audie Thacker

If you haven't picked up on it yet, I belong to ACFW -- American Christian Fiction Writers. I also belong to the Speculative group -- those of us who write outside the box of what you'd expect from faith-focused writers. Of course, we count C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein among our forefathers, so ...

On the Speculative group, Audie Thacker announced his new book was free, and it had shapeshifters in it -- and you know I've got shapeshifters (the Hoveni) in my Commonwealth Universe --so yeah, I was interested!

This is an intricately wrought world, with clashing empires and elves and magic and evil schemes and revenge and long-range plots and feisty princesses and warriors with wounded souls and ... whew!

Make sure you have big chunks of time when you sit down to read, because this is one of those books where you want to take it in big gulps, not little nibbles. There are a lot of details and characters to keep track of -- gee, it feels like a real world. An impressive offering, and because it's Book 1, there's a lot more to come. If you like "this kind of stuff," then check it out! I got my copy from Amazon.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Off the Bookshelf: NO DAWN FOR MEN, by James LePore and Carlos Davis

Sometimes you read a book blurb and your immediate reaction is WHATTTTT??????

Part of you immediately insists, "No way." And another part says, "I gotta read this. It's just too ..." And you can't finish that statement because you're not sure what it's "too" of ...

NO DAWN FOR MEN takes J.R.R. Tolkein (Hobbit, LOTR) and Ian Fleming (Bond, James Bond) and tosses them into pre-WWII Nazi Germany for a little Indiana Jonesing ....

When I mentioned it on my Speculative group on Facebook, one person's reaction was to picture Gandalf walking into the Prancing Pony and asking for a vodka martini, shaken, not stirred. Or Gollum doing a Goldfinger speech.

Bottom line: FUN read. Very clever. A few spots where you want to say, "Okay, so that's where the author got the idea" for that character/event/detail in one or another of their famous books. Then a moment later you say, "Uh, wait a minute, that never happened!" I don't want to give anything away, but there's a search for a dangerous item that Hitler wants, that has to be destroyed, and the person carrying it is worn down by the burden, and a beautiful girl, and daredevils and nasty villains and ... READ IT.

I really, really hope the authors weren't playing with us, and I wasn't reading too much into a casual line, and there will be another adventure of Prof. Tolkein and Mr. Fleming.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Off the Bookshelf: ESTHER by Norah Lofts

Another book read long, long ago -- as I recall, I got it from the Middleburg Heights Library several times during junior high and high school -- which I obtained through that place that makes it so easy to yield to temptation, Alibris.

How Alibris works is it connects you with probably thousands of used bookstores and other such vendors around the world, listing the book or movie or music you want, the prices charged by the vendor, and the names of the vendor. So if you have 6 copies of a book at 6 different vendors, and you have another book you want with 15 copies at 15 different vendors ... common sense says to save on shipping charges and get both books from the same vendor, if possible.

Anyway ....

ESTHER is, as the title makes clear, the story of the Hebrew girl who becomes Queen of Persia through what was essentially a beauty contest. From her story comes the phrase, "for such a time as this," meaning you may be in the position you're in, whether good or bad, to fulfill a specific purpose in God's plan. I was surprised to realize this story of intrigue, politics, revenge and a dash of romance, was written in the 50s. A well-told story never goes out of style.

The author doesn't stick strictly to the facts listed in the Bible, but it's easy to forgive her. The gist of the story carries through. I was delighted to finally get my hands on a copy to put in my library, and reread again in the future.