Tuesday, January 4, 2022

New Authors in 2021

Good news - this is my LAST post about 2021.  Here is a list of new authors for me this past year:

Kevin Schewe
Catherine Ryan Hyde
Susan Wiggs
Helen Fisher
Susan Meissner
Alison Littman
Andrea Dunlop
Bob Boylan
Sejal Badani
Alex Michaelides
Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb
Colin Whitehead
Eric Kasum & Michael N. Smith
Sanjay Prasad
Ed Duncan
Jaime Lynn Hendricks
Martha Hall Kelly
Sam Subity
Scott A. Shay
Christopher Taunton
Amy Mason Doan
Tasha Alexander
Stephanie Dray
Gail Tsukiyama
Beverly Jenkins
Alka Joshi
Maryles Casto
Lucy Leonelli

28 out of 61 - 46% 

3.5s and up for 2021

Here is the list of books that are 3.5 and up for 2021, IMHO:

4.25 - 
The Clover Girls - Viola Shipman (yes, I know that 4.0 is supposed to be my highest rating)

4.0+ -
The Rose Code - Kate Quinn (see the 4.25 above)

4.0 - 
Three Words for Good-Bye - Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb
Peeps - Erin Gordon
The Women of Chateau Lafayette - Stephanie Dray
The Pilot's Daughter - Meredith Jaeger

3.75 -
The Lost and Found Bookshop - Susan Wiggs
The Four Winds - Kristin Hannah
The Storyteller's Secret - Sejal Badani
Lilac Girls - Martha Hall Kelly
The Forest of Vanishing Stars - Kristin Harmel
The Samurai's Garden - Gail Tsukiyama
What the Lady Wants - Renee Rosen
The Other Einstein - Marie Benedict
A Year in the Life - Lucy Leonelli

3.625 -
The Younger Wife - Sally Hepworth (yes, I know that this is an odd rating)

3.5 -
Posing Naked - Betty Auchard
Have You Seen Luis Vellez? - Catherine Ryan Hyde
Winter Garden - Kristin Hannah
Faye, Faraway - Helen Fisher
The Nature of Fragile Things - Susan Meissner
We Came Here to Forget - Andrea Dunlop
How to Save a Life - Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke
The People We Keep - Allison Larkin
The World Played Chess - Robert Dugoni
The Henna Artist - Alka Joshi
Heard It in a Love Song - Tracey Garvis Graves
Shattered - C. Lee McKenzie

I've got 2 other 3.5s that I read for my job as a professional reviewer for a publicist.  The reason I am listing these separately is that they are not novels.  One is inspirational, and the other is historical:

4 Ideas with Actionable Wisdom - Bob Boylan
100 of the Worst Ideas in History - Michael Smith & Eric Kasum

Get reading, people!

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Books in 2021

Here is the list of books read for 2021.  Coincidentally I read the same number of books in 2021 that I read in 2020 - 61.  My page count is lower, though.  I went from 20,500 to approx. 19,000.  No complaints here.  And...voila:

Posing Naked - Betty Auchard - 3.5

Bad Love Beyond - Kevin Schewe - 3.0

Have You Seen Luis Velez? - Catherine Ryan Hyde - 3.5

The Lost and Found Bookshop - Susan Wiggs - 3.75

Before She Disappeared - Lisa Gardner - 3.25

Winter Garden - Kristin Hannah - 3.5

Faye, Faraway - Helen Fisher - 3.5

The Nature of Fragile Things - Susan Meissner - 3.5

Radio Underground - Alison Littman - 3.0

We Came Here to Forget - Andrea Dunlop - 3.5

4 Ideas with Actionable Wisdom - Bob Boylan - 3.5

Retirement:  Your New Adventure! - Bob Boylan - 3.0

The Four Winds - Kristin Hannah - 3.75

Win - Harlan Coben - 3.0

The Fellowship of the Flames - A.R. Silverberry

How to Save a Life - Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke - 3.5

The Storyteller’s Secret - Sejal Badani - 3.75

Transcendant Kingdom - Yaa Gyasi - 2.75

The Silent Patient - Alex Michaelides - 3.25

Heads You Win - Jeffrey Archer - 3.25

Three Words for Goodbye - Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb - 4.0

The People We Keep - Allison Larkin - 3.5 

The Nickel Boys - Colin Whitehead - 2.75

Peeps - Erin Gordon - 4.0

100 Worst Ideas In History - Eric Kasum & Michael N. Smith - 3.5

The Rose Code - Kate Quinn - 4.0+

Resetting Healthcare - Sanjay Prasad - 3.25

Pigeon-Blood Red - Ed Duncan - 2.5

Finding Tessa - Jaime Lynn Hendricks - 3.25

Lilac Girls - Martha Hall Kelly - 3.75

Bad Love Medicine - Kevin Schewe - 3.0

The Last Shadow Warrior - Sam Subity - 3.25

The Unwilling - John Hart - 3.25

Conspiracy U - Scott A. Shay

The Tear of Tybaleth - A.R. Silverberry - 3.0

The Forest of Vanishing Stars - Kristin Harmel - 3.75

A Summer Classic, The Bew White Story - Christopher Taunton - 2.75

Dreaming in Provence - Jennifer Skully - 3.25

Lady Sunshine - Amy Mason Doan - 3.0

In the Shadow of Vesuvius - Tasha Alexander - 3.0

The Women of Chateau Lafayette - Stephanie Dray - 4.0

The Samurai’s Garden - Gail Tsukiyama - 3.75

What the Lady Wants - Renee Rosen - 3.75

In the Event of Contact - Ethel Rohan - 2.5

The Clover Girls - Viola Shipman - 4.25

Women of the Silk - Gail Tsukiyama - 3.0

Wishing in Rome - Jennifer Skully

The Taming of Jessi Rose - Beverly Jenkins - 3.25

The Other Einstein - Marie Benedict - 3.75

Last Call - Sheldon Siegel

The World Played Chess - Robert Dugoni - 3.5

The Younger Wife - Sally Hepworth - 3.625

The Wickett Sisters - Stephen Houser

Shadow House - A.R. Silverberry

The Henna Artist - Alka Goshi - 3.5

Heard it in a Love Song - Tracey Garvis Graves - 3.5

Shattered - C. Lee McKenzie - 3.5

The Answer to His Prayers - Ellen Kirshman - 3.0

A Hole in the Clouds - Maryles Casto - 3.25

A Year in the Life - Lucy Leonelli - 3.75

The Pilot’s Daughter - Meredith Jaeger - 4.0

61 books


Saturday, December 25, 2021

The Pilot's Daughter, by Meredith Jaeger, Is a MUST Read

I finished The Pilot's Daughter, by Meredith Jaeger, about an hour ago. I'm sorry it took me so long to get to the review!  What a book!  This is so darn good.  It's historical fiction that goes back and forth from the early 1920's in New York and the mid-1940's in San Francisco.  The story centers on Ellie Morgan and her Aunt Iris, who both live in San Francisco.  The story begins with a telegram from the Adjutant General's office, saying that Ellie's dad, William Morgan, was reported missing over the Adriatic Sea during WWII.  Ellie wants to find out whether her father is actually dead and goes to great lengths to get the answer.  She enlists the aid of her aunt.  

That's all I'm going to tell you about the story.  There are plenty of surprises during Ellie's quest.  And I was riveted on every page.  Let me also say that I had plenty of emotional moments, far too many to count (or be held accountable for).  Meredith does a great job of making us care not only about Ellie and Iris, but also about several of the other key characters in the story.

What did I particularly like about The Pilot's Daughter?  I'm glad you asked:

1.  I liked the short distance between the 2 timeframes.  It made both stories come to life for me.
2.  I liked how I cared so much about multiple characters.
3.  I liked that the story took place in San Francisco and New York, great locations for the storyline.
4.  I liked that I hated to put the book away and was so excited to pick it back up.
5.  I liked the Author's Note...a lot.

I read a lot of historical fiction.  I've read some excellent authors - Kate Quinn, Kristin Harmel, Kristen Hannah, Renee Rosen, Marie Benedict, Stephanie Dray, Heather Webb & Hazel Gaynor.  I could go on.  Well, book fans, you can add Meredith Jaeger to that list.  I definitely enjoyed her 2nd book, Boardwalk Summer.  But The Pilot's Daughter elevates her into the ranks of the elite.  You want proof?  Go to Goodreads and check her rating.  Take a look at how many 5 star ratings she got.  I'm not the only one who thinks this is a great book.

Read it! 

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Another Top Notch YA from C. Lee McKenzie

Those of you who have followed my blog for a few years (would the 3 of you please raise your hands?) know that The Princess of Las Pulgas, by C. Lee McKenzie, is my favorite YA.  Now I have read all of Lee's YA and middle grade novels.  And I have definitely liked them all.  But I have to say that Lee's latest YA, Shattered, is my 2nd favorite behind Princess. Shattered is the story of a 19-year old skier named Libby who is on her way to representing the U.S. in the Winter Olympics.  Except that during a practice run, a snowboarder collides with her, and she wakes up in a hospital without any feeling in her legs.  Was it an accident?  You will find out when you read Shattered.  This is a very engaging story where you will definitely get caught up in what happens after the accident.  As you all know, I am well past the age that YA novels are targeted for.  But it doesn't matter.  This is a book that everyone will enjoy. 


Monday, October 18, 2021

Mini-Mini-Mini Reviews

 Hi all.  I know it's been a heckuva long time since my last post (49 days, to be exact!).  But I'm (kinda) ready to get back to it.  I'm going to start my renaissance as book blogger by giving you the names and ratings (with maybe a comment or 2) of the books I've read since my last post.  Here we (I) go:

Stephanie Dray - The Women of Chateau Lafayette - 4.0 - not only do we learn tons about Lafayette and how he helped America break free of England - but Stephanie also weaves in 2 fictional characters in 2 additional time periods - all 3 are mesmerizing

Gail Tsukiyama - The Samurai's Garden - 3.75 - recommended by an RBC member - thanks, Judy

Renee Rosen - What the Lady Wants - 3.75 - everything she writes is really good

Gail Tsukiyama - Women of the Silk - 3.0 - not as good as TSG, but still very readable

Beverly Jenkins - The Taming of Jessi Rose - 3.25 - historical romance - Beverly is coming to the RBC in early November

Marie Benedict - The Other Einstein - 3.75 - fascinating story about Albert Einstein's first wife, who is, in her own right, a great physicist and mathematician who never got the credit she deserved and earned - Marie writes historical fiction about women who have their own stories to be told but are often overshadowed by the men they are with

Robert Dugoni - The World Played Chess - 3.5 - everything Bob writes is very good - this is no exception - it's not The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell - but, then again, what is?

That'll do it for now.  Get reading, people.  There's a lot of good stuff out there (and in here!)

Thursday, September 9, 2021

A New 4.25!

Back on April 24, 2014, I added a 2nd All-Time Top 12 to my original All-Time Top 12.  And then on September 24, 2015, I put a 13th book in the 2nd ATT12.  Well, almost 6 years later, I'm adding #14 to the 2nd ATT12. The book is called The Clover Girls, by Viola Shipman.  I absolutely loved every minute of it.  Instead of posting the book cover synopsis, I'm just going to tell you what it's about:  4 young girls meet at an all-girls camp in Michigan.  They become best friends and keep coming back year-after-year until they are actually camp counsellors.  36 years after that 1st camp, the 4 women are no longer friends.  What happened, and is there any way it can be fixed?  I am giving you NO hints.

I can't even begin to tell you how many times I teared up or just flat-out cried.  We all know that I'm not exactly stoic after I make an emotional connection with a character or 2.  Well, this time I connected with all 4! And it lasted throughout the book.  But there is so much more to it than just emotions.  There is humor.  There is (perhaps) romance.  There is even another takeaway for me.  And, above all else, the writing is superb.  Here is just one example of an analogy that really resonated with me.  And it concerns one character's mother who has been fading for a very long time and is finally near death:

"The body is like a baseball stadium after the last out is made.  Every living thing begins to stream out of it, it grows quiet, calm, cool, and then the lights begin to shut off, one section at a time, starting with the feet."

How cool is that?  I have read one other Shipman book, called The Recipe Box.  I liked it a lot.  But this one has just joined a very special group.  I welcome you, The Clover Girls, to the top 26 books I have read. Feel proud.