30 March 2011

do i need an intervention?

Almost all of my books are registered at BookCrossing. The site now has new sort options and printable lists. So today I sorted my bookshelf, alphabetically, to show only my TBR (to be read) books, and printed the list.

The last time I made a rough counting of my books, I had about a thousand waiting to be read. So it was somewhat of a shock to print my list and discover -- 2,672. How in the hell have I collected so many books?! And when will I ever possibly have time to read all of them?

I keep track of everything I read, and so far this year I've read 23 books. That's an average of 1.76 a week. At this rate, by December 31 I'll have read 91.5 books. If I do not acquire a single new (or used) book ever again, I can read my entire inventory in about 29 years.

Every year my one resolution is to send out more books than I bring in. And every year I fail. Of course that is an impossible goal. If I skipped every library sale, then maybe I could achieve it. But let's be realistic, I'm not gonna. My mom, sister and I go to three library sales a year. Our little city library has their annual sale during the summer. The little city next to us has their annual sale in October, usually the weekend right around my birthday, which means I have birthday money to spend. And the larger city on the other side of us has their annual sale at the fairgrounds, the big sale, every February. That one is the highlight of our year!

I also join the occasional book box on BookCrossing. This is where one member starts a box of books, and makes a list of other members who want to participate, then sends the box to the first name on the list. That person picks out whatever books he or she wants to keep, replaces them with an equal number of books from his or her own library, and then sends the box to the next name on the list. Yesterday I received a Potluck Book Box, which contains a hodge podge of genres, with the only stipulation being no romance. I picked out eight books to keep. But, I'm replacing them with thirteen of my own books. So I'm sending out three more than I received. Of course those thriteen are all books I've either already read or have more than one copy of, while the ones I'm taking from the box will all go in my massive TBR pile. But it still counts!

I send out a lot of books. Once I read a book, I don't usually hang onto it, unless I just really really loved it, or it's autographed from an auhor I really really love. But generally, once I finish a book I look for a new home for it. I check wish lists on BookCrossing, or I may offer it up in the forums there. Or I list it on Book Mooch or PBS.

My mom retired a year ago in December. She told me one day she now reads probably four times as much as she did before, and she assured me that when I retire, I'll have much more time to read. And that's why I feel the need to hang on to all my unread books. Because someday, I will get to each one. Eventually. Or die trying.

25 March 2011

Charmed: Trickery Treat

An original novel by Diana G. Gallagher; based on the hit TV series created by Constance M. Burge.

First Sentence: Piper Halliwell tossed an old leather suit to Leo and swatted at a thick mat of cobwebs.

Publisher's Synopsis:  It’s Halloween, and Piper is busy decorating the Manor, which has become the neighborhood hot spot on the most bewitching night of the year. Meanwhile, Paige decides to use the party as a chance to honor the dead. She casts a spell that creates a portal for a clan of leprechauns…and other wandering spirits.

The guests are thrilled and impressed with the realistic effects, but Phoebe, Piper and Paige soon realize they have a big trick to deal with: one not-so-friendly ghost going out of his way to turn the Manor into a haunted house. The Charmed Ones must stop this evil soul with a vengeance before he takes the life of one experienced ghost hunter who knows his story and has met him before…

I've read a few Charmed books and usually enjoy them. They're written for teens so they're not great literature or anything, but they're fun and bring back memories of the show, which I was a huge fan of.  However, this one was a little more grating than enjoyable.

As each sister is introduced into the narrative, a lot of incidents from the past are mentioned. Example: "Three years ago, a 'Return to Owner' spell on a pair of Grams' red go-go boots had sent Paige back to 1967." I remembered all of these incidents from the TV series, but by the end of the first chapter, it was information overload. And this continued throughout the book.

At the time the book is set, Phoebe is married to Coop. Yet on page 122, Coop is referred to as Cole. Twice!

The most interesting scene in the book (to me) involved Paige brewing a potion, and asking Piper to hand her the powdered dragons' blood. I had watched Off The Map the night before, about a group of doctors working at a clinic in a tiny town in the South American jungle, and two of the doctors had walked through the jungle, scratching at trees with a knife, looking for dragons' blood, a resin. They used it as an adhesive to make temporary bandages. 

(I received this book from a Book Mooch member.)

23 March 2011

March 2011 Acquisitions 4

Five new books in the past few days!

First, two books that were on my wish list at Book Mooch:

The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie by Jaclyn Moriarty.  I read a review or an article or something awhile back about this author and have been eager to read her since then.

Love Me If You Dare by Carly Phillips. One of my favorite romance authors.
On Tuesday nights my mom and I go to the movies with a couple of other women. We both had coupons from Half Price Book Store for 40% off one item, so before the movie, we popped into the store to look around. I ended up buying three books.

The Eternal Highlander by Hannah Howell and Lynsay Sands. I've not read anything by Ms. Howell before, but I love Lynsay Sands' Argeneau series, so I snap up anything I find by her.

Songs Without Words by Ann Packer. I loved The Dive From Clausen's Pier, the only other book I've read by Ms. Packer. 

The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark. I recently read an ARC of The Sandalwood Tree and loved it, so  was excited to find this book. 

20 March 2011

March 2011 Acquisitions 3

I had a little time to kill yesterday while my daughter and her friend were tanning, so I popped into a Salvation Army thrift store to browse around, and came across this book: Out of Harm's Way: The Extraordinary True Story of One Woman's Lifelong Devotion to Animal Rescue, by Terri Crisp and Samantha Glen.

I'm a sucker for any animal, and I love watching programs like the Animal Cops series. When I was young, stray cats and dogs seemed to gravitate to me, and I even wanted to have my own no-kill animal shelter when I grew up. Sometimes when I watch these programs now, I wish I'd gone to college and gone on to some type of career involving animals. 

19 March 2011

The Sandalwood Tree


First Line: Our train hurtled past a gold-spangled woman in a strawberry sari, regal yet sitting on the ground, patting cow dung into disks to dry in the scorching sun - her cooking fuel.

Publisher's Synopsis:  From incredible storyteller and national bestseller Elle Newmark comes a rich, sweeping novel that brings to life two love stories, ninety years apart, set against the backdrop of war-torn India.

Bursting with lavish detail and vivid imagery of Bombay and beyond, The Sandalwood Tree is a powerful story about betrayal, forgiveness, fate, and love.

There are two types of fiction, in my mind. There are novels, and there are literature. (IS literature?) This book is what I consider literature.

I was captivated within the first couple of pages. It's a beautiful and evocative story, or rather two stories in one. The narrator, Evie, and her husband and child have moved from America to India in 1947, where pending partition is making it not quite a safe place to be. She has found some old letters/diary pages written by a young English girl who lived in the same bungalow with her best friend in the 1850s. Evie becomes a little obsessed with their story, wanting to learn more about the girls and what happened to them.

Evie and her husband's marriage has been strained ever since he returned from the war, and she hoped that being in India with him would give them a fresh start, a chance to find each other again. The author keeps us guessing practically to the last few pages as to how their relationship will turn out.

Both stories are beautifully told. And what is basically a character driven novel suddenly at one point becomes full of tense action. Suffice it to say, I loved this book. Loved it.

(I won this ARC in a Goodreads giveaway. The release date is April 5, 2011)

10 March 2011

March 2011 Acquisitions 2

Back in 2008 I read Sleeping With the Fishes by MaryJanice Davidson, and quite enjoyed it. Now I've finally gotten the next two books in this series - Fred the Mermaid. Don't you love all the covers?


Also, at the end of February, the Metropolitan Library System held its huge annual book sale at the fairgrounds. This is always one of the highlights of the year for my family. I went on a Saturday morning with my mom, sister, aunt, and a friend. This is no amatuer event. It calls for stamina and perseverance, and if you have an aversion to crowds, well, that's a weakness. This is the cart I take with me, which I bought at Target one year specifically for this purpose.

After I'd filled my cart up once, I made myself stop. I usually fill it, then take my books to the holding area to be bagged, then go back out and fill it again. But, while going through the checkout, I then succumbed to the lures of the sealed boxes, and bought a romance box priced at $7.50.  So how many books did I go home with? Well, the box had 160 books in it, almost all serial romance types, Harlequin, Loveswept, and so forth, with a few older paperbacks thrown in. In addition to the box, I had picked out 88 paperbacks. I stayed away from the more expensive hardbacks this year. All in all I spent about $41.00. And was a very happy camper. Even though I bought five books that I already had copies of! It's hard to keep track sometimes of what I already have...

Every year I say I'm going to move out more books than I bring in. Every year I fail. Especially when the library sale comes around.

The Rake's Inherited Courtesan


First line: Safe behind her black veil, Sylvia Boisette steeled herself to confront those who, because of her birth, were a part of her world, but who would never accept her as part of theirs.

Publisher's Synopsis:  Daughter of a Parisian courtesan, Sylvia Boisette longs for respectability, though gossips say she is nothing more than a gentleman's paramour. Now, with her guardian dead, she finds herself in a shocking situation...

Christopher Evernden is appalled by his uncle's will -- Mademoiselle Boisette is now his courtesan! Although his body responds to Sylvia's tempting sensuality, he knows he should rid himself of his disreputable charge. But, surprisingly, Sylvia has a vulnerability to match her exceptional beauty. Perhaps his inherited mistress could become his rightful bride!

With that slightly confusing (to me, anyway) opening line, I wasn't really sure how I would like this book. But I was caught up fairly quickly. While it starts out as Sylvia's story, Christopher gets equal time, even when he is not in Sylvia's company, and I liked the crisp narration that delved into his psyche. We the reader get to know both hero and heroine quite well, which makes us more vested in the outcome and in their HEA.

Of course, before getting to that point, there must be conflict and misunderstandings. Sylvia was raised in a brothel, until the age of ten or so. Her father is a duke, but he wants nothing to do with her and has refused to claim paternity of her. Monsieur Jean rescued Sylvia from the brothel, and has been her guardian, but now he's passed away, and the story opens with a gathering for the reading of his will. His nephew, Christopher Evernden, has grudgingly attended, and is shocked when he learns that his uncle has "bequeathed" Sylvia's care to him, as is the lady in question. Sylvia had expected to be left some money, and, being interested in fashion, had intended to invest in a friend's dress shop and make her own life. Now she's stuck with Christopher, who is disgusted at the thought of having to take in his uncle's ladybird. 

There are travels, a kidnapping attempt, a growing attraction that neither wants to admit to, and a startling discovery. And along the way, the pages turn quickly. One method I use to judge a book's merit is whether I want to immediately look up the author and make a list of all her (or his) other books. In this instance, I did so. I look forward to more from Ms. Lethbridge.

(I purchased this book at a library book sale.)

08 March 2011

Alpha Warrior


Harlequin Intrigue #1225; Long Mountain Heroes.

First Line:  Wherever Nick Blacksheep went, trouble usually followed.

Good opening line, cuz we all love those bad boys, right? Nick Blacksheep is a detective and veteran of the Afghan war, whose memories and nightmares of the things he saw and went through in Afghanistan have left him scarred, physically and emotionally. Drew Simmons has just gotten her dream librarian job, but while waiting for the position to start she’s also taken a position in the records dept. at the police station to make ends meet. She lost her father – a police officer – at a young age, and lived with her uncle, the former Chief of Police, and she is determined that she will never allow herself to get involved with anyone in law enforcement. Those men are married to their jobs, and she does not want to live the life of a police officer’s wife. But suddenly her life is in danger, someone is after her, and she has no idea who or why. Nick rescues her from the first abduction attempt, and finds himself then assigned to protect her. 

The heat between Nick and Drew is obvious, but they are both intent on fighting it. Or rather, Drew is…Nick seems eager to give in to it, but only with his body, not with his heart.

This is a Harlequin, so we all know how it is going to end, but with the constant attempts on both Drew and Nick’s lives, it’s a thrilling ride.

(I purchased this book at a library book sale.)

07 March 2011

Friendship Bread


Publisher’s Synopsis:

An anonymous gift sends a woman on a journey she never could have anticipated.

One afternoon, Julia Evarts and her five-year-old daughter, Gracie, arrive home to find an unexpected gift on the front porch: a homemade loaf of Amish Friendship Bread and a simple note: I hope you enjoy it. Also included are a bag of starter, instructions on how to make the bread herself, and a request to share it with others.

Still reeling from a personal tragedy that left her estranged from the sister who was once her best friend, Julia remains at a loss as to how to move on with her life. She’d just as soon toss the anonymous gift, but to make Gracie happy, she agrees to bake the bread. 

When Julia meets two newcomers to the small town of Avalon, Illinois, she sparks a connection by offering them her extra bread starter. Widow Madeline Davis is laboring to keep her tea salon afloat while Hannah Wang de Brisay, a famed concert cellist, is at a crossroads, her career and marriage having come to an abrupt end. In the warm kitchen of Madeline’s tea salon, the three women forge a friendship that will change their lives forever.

In no time, everyone in Avalon is baking Amish Friendship Bread. But even as the town unites for a benevolent cause and Julia becomes ever closer to her new friends, she realizes the profound necessity of confronting the painful past she shares with her sister.

About life and loss, friendship and community, food and family, Friendship Bread tells the uplifting story of what endures when even the unthinkable happens.

It’s not often that a book makes my eyes tear up, but this book managed to do so. I’d never heard of Darien Gee or Amish Friendship Bread before. For the first 50 pages or so, I just kind of plodded along, enjoying it well enough but not finding it particularly outstanding. But somewhere along the way I got so sucked in that I didn't want to put the book down to go to sleep.

There are a lot of characters, and keeping up with all of them may be part of why it took me a bit to really get my bearings. But as the pages turned, the characters’ distinct personalities came through and I felt connected to them. I really cared about them and what would happen in their lives, especially Julia and her sister, Livvy. Not every author can make you feel that way about her (or his) characters.

I’m debating whether I want to try any of the friendship bread recipes in the back of the book. My seventeen-year-old daughter recently commented that maybe she should be a “baker” some day, so she might enjoy trying it with me, and there’s a recipe for “Double Chocolate Friendship Bread”. Kind of hard to pass that up!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and I’ll be eagerly awaiting the sequel. In the meantime, I looked up the author on Fantastic Fiction, and she has three other books under the name Mia King – Good Things, Sweet Life, and Table Manners. So I’ll be tracking those down!

(I received an ARC of this book from The Random House Publishing Group.)

05 March 2011

The Chain of Destiny


First line: The rose bricks of the gracious old manor house shone warmly in the late August sunshine, and the small groups of people walking towards it paused to admire the pleasant sight; it wasn't one of the great country houses but it was early Tudor, still occupied by the descendants of the man who had built it and well worth a pleasant drive through the Wiltshire countryside on a bright afternoon.

Publisher's Synopsis:

Alone in the world without a job. That was Suzannah Lightfoot's unenviable position when Guy Bowers-Bentinck rescued her. She had to accept his help - though she didn't want to be beholden to such an infuriatingly arrogant man.

"He's so tiresom and ill-tempered and impatient and he must hate the sight of me," Suzannah reflected as fate kept throwing them together.

So it was just as well, she told herself, that she wasn't prepared to join the queue of females wanting to marry him...

Last weekend the Metropolitan Library System had their huge annual booksale at the fairgrounds. People come from all over the state and even from neighboring states to attend this sale. I went with my mom, sister, aunt and a friend. In addition to the thousands of books laid out on tables, they have sealed boxes that you can buy. I bought a large romance box for $7.50, which had 160 books in it, almost all Harlequin, Loveswept, etc. type books. I'm still going through the box, a little at a time, but this is the first one I actually pulled out to read.

This is also the first book I've read by Betty Neels (that I remember anyway), though of course I see her name all the time. I love the old quaint Harlequins, and this certainly qualifies (published in 1990, the year my first daughter was born). But it was a little frustrating also. Throughout most of the book, the hero and heroine hardly ever see each other and it's kind of hard to see how they could fall in love.

Suzannah Lightfoot lives with her elderly aunt and works as a tour guide for an historical home. When her aunt dies, and then she is let go from her job, she finds herself looking for employment and a place for herself and her cat to live. Guy Bowers-Bentinck is a brain surgeon, who, while not really caring much for her or being too impressed with her, finds himself worrying about her future and trying to help her find a way to support herself.

It's a pleasant little read, but not especially compelling.

01 March 2011

March 2011 Acquisitions 1

This ARC of The Sandalwood Tree, by Elle Newmark, arrived today from Atria Books, a Division of Simon & Schuster - I won it in a Good Reads giveaway! It will be next on my list to read! Isn't the cover gorgeous?