2014 Top Ten plus 4 and 1 Tribute

 

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Woo Hoo! I love talking books so I am very grateful to have a chance to share my favorite books of 2014 with other readers. I do have to apologize for not having all of these titles in our Reading Room but I will work on it as one of my top resolutions for 2015. If you have been following our lists this past week, you can easily see that all of us have different reading interests! We are a very diverse staff! My favorite kinds of books are the ones with quirky, likeable characters and sentimental, mushy stories that tend to have happy endings. It was hard to whittle my list down to just 10 books but here it is:

otherwise engaged    Otherwise Engaged by Amanda Quick

Amanda Quick (aka Jayne Ann Krentz) never disappoints me. Miss Amity Doncaster, world traveler and guidebook writer, is one sassy heroine and no one can stop her, not even a serial killer!

lost lake   Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

One word describes the author’s books — Magical. Kate and her daughter attempt to find their lives again at Lost Lake, the run-down summer resort owned by her great-aunt Eby.

book of life  The Book of Life by Deborah E. Harkness

In this conclusion to  All Souls trilogy, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont must find Ashmole 782 before the birth of their children. This is a perfect book with fantasy, romance, magic, history and science all blended together.

mimi mallooy   Mimi Malloy at Last: A Novel by Julia MacDonnell

It is never too late for a second chance at love even for sixty-something Mimi Malloy with a fading memory. Tissues are needed for the end of this one.

all you can dream   The All You Can Dream Buffet: A Novel by Barbara O’Neal

I needed tissues for this book too but along with the tears, I laughed and laughed with food blogger Lavender Wills and her online food blogger friends who visit her on her organic farm.

chestnut street   Chestnut Street by Maeve Binchy

This posthumously published collection of short stories revolve around the imaginary Chestnut Street in Dublin where neighbors may come and go but their lives are all intermingled together.

monogram murders   The Monogram Murders: the New Hercule Poirot Mystery by Sophie Hannah

He’s back! With permission from the Agatha Christie estate, the author, Sophie Hannah, has created a new Hercule Poirot mystery filled with red herrings, twists and turns that will puzzle  new and old Agatha Christie fans. Ooh-la-la!!

goodnight june   Goodnight June by Sarah Jio

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown is one of my favorite’s childhood books. When June Anderson finds some lost letters between her great-aunt and Margaret Wise Brown, she is determined to prove that their friendship was the inspiration behind the classic book.  I absolutely adored this book!

secret life   The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams

Gosh darn! I don’t know how this author can blend two such  fascinating stories in one but she does! In 1964, Vivian Schuyler receives an overseas package that had been lost in the mail. This  draws her back into her family’ past and into the life of an aunt that she never knew from the 1940s.

oneplusone  One Plus One: A Novel by Jojo Moyes

This was another book that I laughed and cried because of the quirky characters and their off-kilter romance during their horrible, disaster-prone road trip with a moody stepson, a 10 year-old math whiz  and one stinky dog that was just too-too much!

happyface  Now for my Plus 4:

grimm warning  The Land of Stories: A Grimm Warning by Chris Colfer

This is the third book in the Land of Stories series and each one gets better and better. Alex is now training to be the next Fairy Godmother in the Land of Stories. When Connor discovers a clue left by the Grimm Brothers that warns of danger to the Land of Stories, he must get back there to warn his sister.

 

Horton  Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories by Dr. Seuss

This is a collection of lost stories written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss that were first published in the 1950s in various magazines. Since I love Horton the Elephant, I loved the new story with Horton and how he deals with the Kwuggerbug.

nancy knows   Nancy Knows by Cybele Young

I love elephant stories and this one is my new favorite. What an original! The story is simple as Nancy tries to remember something important but the illustrations are so imaginative and delightful that makes this picture book stand out!

alexander best   Alexander, Who’s Trying his Best to be the Best Boy Ever by Judith Viorst; illustrated by Isidre Mones in the style of Ray Cruz

This is a wonderful installment to the Alexander books first published in 1972.

 

Finally, my Tribute to P.D. James

 P.D. James, an English crime writer famous for her detective novels featuring police commander and poet Adam Dalgliesh, died at the age of 94 on November 27, 2014.

Her last book, Death Comes to Pemberley death comes to pemberly was published in 2011 so I really couldn’t include it in my top ten list of 2014 but it too is one of my favorite books. I love Jane Austen and I definitely loved how P.D. James adapted Pride and Prejudice to create this mystery whodunit. This book has also been made into a PBS Masterpiece Mystery. Take a look at her interview on YouTube, P. D. James on Jane Austen and Death Comes to Pemberley.

santa46Happy Reading! Happy Holidays! Donna

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Beauty and the Beast

 The movie Beastly will be coming out in early March. This movie is based on the young adult novel by Alex Finn that came out in 2007. Check out our Reading Room review of the book. I, for one, loved this retelling of the fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast and really recommended this book to friends and family. When news came out this novel was being turned into a movie, I was excitedly looking forward to seeing the movie. However, having seen some of the early trailers on the television, I wonder how much of the movie stays true to the book. Hmmmm….one wonders when the original cover looked like this:and the new paperback version that is out now for the movie looks like this:  

In the book, Kyle is changed into a beast…one with fangs, claws and lots of hair! Kyle in the movie is turned into a beast but he certainly doesn’t look too hairy to me! I’m also having a hard time picturing Mary-Kate Olsen as Kendra the witch who puts Kyle under her magical spell. I also wonder how the Unexpected Changes chat group that Kyle goes to online will be portrayed. I hope the ending won’t be changed!….I’m sure glad that I have read the book first and once again, I think the book will be much, much better than the movie! We’ll see….

Happy Reading!             ~Donna

Of course, they have been many other novels based on the fairy tale, The Beauty and the Beast. If you’re interested, check out these titles from our Reading Room:

Beauty: A Novel by Susan Wilson, A Moment in Time by Judith Gould and The Bride Finder by Susan Carroll.

Remember….I’m the reader who loves Happy Endings….well, I just finished another novel based on The Beauty and the Beast fairy tale. It is the new historical romance paperback by Eloisa James titled When Beauty Tamed the Beast. I loved it! There’s the Beauty and naturally, there’s the Beast and a happy ending for all! Yeah!

 

Borders Bookstores

 I guess I will need to rethink my retirement plans. For many years now I told others that when I retired, I would open a Readery-Eatery. I would get a chance to do what I loved to do…eat and read! One of my favorite television series from the early 2000s shown on the Hallmark Channel was Mystery Woman starring Kellie Martin as Samantha Kinsey, the owner of a mystery bookstore who solved real-life mysteries. I loved that series! There was also another sitcom on television in 2005 called Stacked starring Pamela Anderson who worked in a small family-owned bookstore. Ellen DeGeneres, starred in her sitcom in the mid1990s Ellen (originally titled These Friends of Mine for season one) as a bookstore owner of Buy the Book. Yes, I truly believed that if I couldn’t work in a library, I would work in a bookstore like Kellie Martin, Pamela Anderson and Ellen DeGeneres but with the news that Borders is filing Chapter 11 and closing about 30% of their stores nationwide, I am filled with dread that bookstores may be becoming extinct. Joseph-Beth Booksellers closed their store in Legacy Village after filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy too in December 2010. What’s happening to our bookstores? I don’t have the answers but I know that I will continue to support bookstores (and libraries too) by buying books…In fact, once I post this blog entry, I’m off to Borders with my coupon to buy the new J.D. Robb book, Treachery in Death. I might even start reading it tonight…. Happy Reading!   ~Donna

“A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking.”        Jerry Seinfeld

Happily Ever After

The romance of Valentine’s Day may be over for another year but the love for romance novels continues to run “hot” in the publishing industry. According to the Business of Consumer Book Publishing 2010, romance books had the largest share of the consumer market in 2009 at 13.2 percent with over $1.36 billion dollars in sales! According to data gathered by Bowker, romance novels are now also the fastest growing sector of the e-book market. What’s the appeal of a romance novel? For myself, it is definitely not the gorgeous hunks on the cover (although I will admit that I do drool over some). I enjoy my romances for “the happily ever after.” Yes, during these unstable times, I truly can escape the troubles of the world for awhile by reading a juicy romance with a “happily ever after” ending. Life is good when I know that there will be “a happily ever after.” What about you? Do you read romance?           

            

Having reading as always!                                          Donna

Rosemary Sutcliff

 The new action movie, The Eagle, is based on Rosemary Sutcliff’s classic novel, The Eagle of the Ninth. Have you ever heard of the author, Rosemary Sutcliff? She was known primarily as a British children’s historical fiction author. She won the prestigious Carnegie Medal for her novel, Lantern Bearers, in 1959. She lived from December 14, 1920 and died while still writing on the morning of her death on July 23, 1992. As a child, she suffered from a children’s form of arthritis that forced her to spend most of her life in a wheelchair where she spent a lot of time listening to her mother retelling the old Celtic and Saxon legends. She would later use these legends in her books. Her first book written in 1950 was The Chronicles of Robin Hood. She is best known for her books that were set in Roman Britain in the early second century with her Eagle of the Ninth series. These books were The Eagle of the Ninth (1954), The Silver Branch (1957), the Lantern Bearers (1959) and Dawn Wind (1961). In The Eagle of the Ninth, Marcus, a Roman soldier sets off on a quest to find out what happened to the legendary Ninth Legion that mysteriously disappeared while under his father’s command in Northern Britain. He wants to find the lost eagle standard of the Ninth and to return the lost honor and respect back to his family’s name.

As a prolific historical fiction reader growing up, I thoroughly enjoyed the adventurous stories of Rosemary Sutcliff. Unfortunately, most of her books are out of print and you won’t find too many of her books still in school or public libraries. Hopefully, with this new movie, there will be a renewed interest in her historical books to bring them back in print so that more readers will be able to enjoy her wonderful stories.

To find a complete list of her books, check out the Fantastic Fiction website.

Happy Reading!                                                    Donna

One more fantasy title to add…

Our last Genre Book Discussion was about fantasy and Stacey has already posted the book titles that were shared to this blog. It certainly was a varied selection. Unfortunately, I didn’t turn my blurb in so that the book I read wasn’t included. I love fantasy (probably because I live in my own little world of fairy tales with happy endings) and I love books. I thought the book that I read was so fantastically wonderful that I just have to share it with all of you. The book I read was Among Others by Jo Walton and I loved it!

This book is more than a fantasy. It is a book about books (which I love), libraries (which I love), magic (which I love too) and a young girl struggling to find her own identity (I love these coming of age stories too). I even love the cover of the book too! Yes, I can honestly say that I truly, truly, truly loved this book!

Written in a journal form and set in 1979 and 1980, this is the story of fifteen year old Morwenna Phelps trying to move on with her life after her twin sister is killed. Morwenna and Morganna had teamed together to try to stop their crazy mother from using magic to harm others. In their battle with their mother, Morganna is killed and Morwenna is crippled. After going to live with her father, she is sent to a boarding school where she misses the magic in her life. However, if she uses magic again, will her mother be able to find her?

No matter what, Morwenna has books and as she writes in her journal, “I have books, new books, and I can bear anything as long as there are books.” Thanks to Morwenna, I now have more titles to add to my reading list. I don’t think I will ever run out of books to read! Thank you libraries!

Besides The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, I have read some really marvelous fantasy books. Check out our Reading Room for reviews of books by my favorite fantasy authors, Terry Pratchett, Jasper Fforde, and Neil Gaiman. As Dr. Seuss has said “I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”

Happy Reading!       ~Donna