Tag Archive | 2013 Books

Trail of Kisses – Cover Reveal!

It’s here! At last, the day is here when I can reveal the cover for the first book in my new Hot on the Trail series, Trail of Kisses!

And without further ado…

TrailofKisses

Someone is trying to kill Lynne Tremaine. After her father sentences two members of The Briscoe Boys gang to death, Judge Tremaine feels he has no choice but to send Lynne to Denver City along the Oregon Trail to live with her Uncle George…against her will. For Lynne, the only thing worse than being sent away to the wild west is making the journey with the handsome, arrogant, wicked man her uncle has hired to escort her. Especially when the anger she feels toward him begins to turn to something hotter.

Cade Lawson is determined to prove himself to his employer, George Tremaine, after letting him down months earlier. But what he thought would be his second chance may, in fact, be a harsh punishment for his past mistakes. Lynne is headstrong, fiery, and determined to show him she is fearless. She is also beautiful and tempting, and when Cade sees just how afraid she really is underneath her brave act, he may be in danger of losing his heart to her forever. When her would-be killer attacks, it’s all he can do to keep Lynne safe.

He swore to protect her, but who will protect him from her?

But wait, there’s more! You can currently pre-order Trail of Kisses on Amazon and iBooks for the low indtoructory price of $0.99! But that price is for a limited time only. It’ll go up to the regular price of $3.99 once we hit release day, October 27th.

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Like what you’ve read? I love the fact that you read it! I’ve got more for you too. Sign up for my quarterly newsletter to receive special content, sneak-peeks, and treats that only subscribers are privy to. And thank you!

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2013 Book #34 – The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

I’ve already mentioned in my post of Top Five Books of 2013 that The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak was one of my favorite books read last year. Well, now you get to find out why.

the book thief

I was a history major in college. Twice. I have always been fascinated by any story that has a historical setting. And I actually took an entire course in college called “Hitler’s Third Reich”. So I knew the general territory of The Book Thief. It’s a coming of age story about a young girl, Leisel, growing up in the crazy world of Germany during the war. But before you stop and balk and say that you don’t want to read about that, take heart of the message that Markus Zusak has for us in his acknowledgements at the end of the book: there are two sides to every story.

This is not a typical “rah-rah Hitler” or “ooo, that evil Germany” kind of story. This is a heartbreaking, realistic story of what it’s like to grow up poor when your country is at war. More than that, when your country is taken over by a tyrant. Because Leisel and her foster parents, Hans and Rosa Hubermann, are not what we in our Allied countries would think of your typical German citizens of the Nazi era. They disagree with their government but are wary of showing it. They know what can happen to those who disagree.

But that’s not what the story is about.

Here we have a ramshackle, thrown-together family that is rough around the edges and not what we would instantly think of as happy and fuzzy, and through all of their hardship, what do they do? They take in a young, frightened Jewish man, Max, who is sick with guilt because he took the opportunity to run to safety when the rest of his family was dragged off to the concentration camps. Max is bright, creative, melancholy, and scrambling for the meaning of life. Strangely enough, so is Leisel. They form an amazing bond in the absolute worst of circumstances. One that reminds each of them that there are reasons to live.

But that’s not what the story is about either.

Leisel spends those tense years of early adolescence and the dawn and dusk of the war running around with her best friend, a boy, Rudy, who has his own crosses to bear. They are both poor and have to prove themselves around every corner. They take out their aggressions and snatch moments of triumph through stealing. And as they get older, their relationship changes and teeters on the verge of something beyond.

But even that is not what this story is about.

This is a story about words and the power that they hold. It’s a story that demonstrates through the very way that it is told—narrated by Death—that the words we hear and they way we hear or read them has power. Zusak breaks all sorts of rules of fiction writing in the way he tells the story. He gives spoilers about the fates of his characters from the very beginning of the book. He interrupts his own narrative with pictures and details. It’s almost as if he tells the story the way the mind of an eleven-year-old would work. And it’s beautiful!

I can’t say too much more about the story without giving everything away. I will say this: I needed Kleenex when I got to the end of the book. It was just so amazingly good. If you like a story that tugs at your heartstrings, makes you angry and frustrated with the callousness of governments and the sheep that love them, and makes you sigh over the things that people can do, good and bad, then this is the book for you. But don’t steal it. Just buy it.

Okay! I ended the year with an awesome book, and I’m happy to say that I’m starting the year with a really good book too. I’ll probably have it finished to report on by next week.

Top Five Books of 2013

And now for my final top five list of 2013. Of course I saved the best for last. I made a real effort to read more in 2013 than I have been reading lately, and lucky for me, I pulled that off! So of those 34 books I managed to read in 2013, here are the five that were my favorite.

stephen-king-on-writing-0011On Writing, by Stephen King – This automatically gets my number one spot (and the rest are in no particular order). In fact, this was the first book that I read in 2013 and the one that inspired and encouraged me to read as much as I did. Ironically, I have never read another book by Stephen King and I’m not sure if I ever will, but he is now totally my hero. The advice he gives about the craft and practice of writing is second only to the amazing story of his life. It’s so heartening to hear that a writer as accomplished as King has gone through all of the stages of doubt and angst, triumph and frustration that I have gone through myself. This is one of those books that I’m going to have to go back and read again and again whenever I feel the writer doubt sneaking up on me.

the governess affairThe Governess Affair, by Courtney Milan – I think this was probably my favorite fiction book that I read for the first time this year. (I re-read the Hunger Games trilogy, but I’m not counting them in this top five because I’d read them before) Courtney Milan writes exactly the kind of novel that I love. Both her hero and heroine were ordinary people, which you don’t usually see in a historical romance. They were not the upper crust, even though they worked with the upper crust. I found that refreshing.

But what really sold me on this book was the sharp, witty exchanges between the hero and heroine. Those letters they sent to each other when she was sitting out on the bench in front of the duke’s house were to die for! The originality of this story was the other major selling point for me. It wasn’t your same old tired historical romance plot. I loved that!

Welcome to TemptationWelcome to Temptation, by Jennifer Cruisie – Oh my gosh, this may be the funniest thing I read all year! I haven’t read all that much contemporary romance, but books like this are the kind of thing that would get me started. The characters were off-the-charts wacky, but they also managed to be believable. I love the way Jennifer Cruisie kept piling on one outlandish twist of circumstance after another until the whole thing had me rolling with laughter. Not only that, the love scenes were totally steamy! You’ve got to love that!

enders-game-novel-coverEnder’s Game, by Orson Scott Card – I can’t believe I waited this long to read Ender’s Game! I mean, I’ve known about the book for years. Oh boy, was it good! Completely absorbing. I have to confess that I kind of love good sci-fi, and I really love good alternative worlds. But what really made this book awesome to me was the fact that I was so absorbed into Ender and his world that I didn’t see some of the plot twists coming. I probably would have seen them if I had more distance and didn’t care about the characters so much, but nope. I wept bitterly when the truth of what was going on came out at the end. You know a book is awesome when you have to blink in order to read it!

the book thiefThe Book Thief, by Markus Zusak – Okay, maybe this one is cheating a wee little bit because I haven’t technically finished yet. I’ll post my complete book report once I do, but I am loving this book! It’s so moving and real, and at the same time the world of this book is so foreign to me. But one of the most incredible aspects of this book to me is the fact that Zusak breaks all the rules in the way he tells the story. You know, all those rules writers are told about plot structure and narrative style and backstory and not telegraphing the ending and oh so many things. Those rules lay in tatters around each brilliant page of this book! I’m in awe. And I think I’ll probably need Kleenex at some point when I near the end too!

So those are the books of 2013. 34 books overall. Eight 5-star books, two 4.5-star, eight 4-star, one 3.5-star, seven 3-star, three 2-star, one 1-star, and five “Did Not Finish”. And no, I don’t post those ratings when I do my book reports for several reasons. But there you have it.

My goal for 2014? At least 40 books. Here’s to hoping they’re all 4 and 5 stars!

What books did you read this year that really stood out?

2013 Book #32 – The Seduction of Lady Phoebe, by Ella Quinn

Finally! I finally had a chance to read Ella Quinn’s debut novel! I’ve been waiting to read this one since well before it came out. Ella is a writer friend of mine (full disclosure) and I pretty much counted down the days until The Seduction of Lady Phoebe came out, then counted down more days as it rose up on my TBA list. At last!

Ladt Phoebe

Let me tell you, if you are even a little bit of a fan of the Regency genre, Phoebe will not disappoint! As I read through Phoebe and Marcus’s story, I swear I could hear Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer both doing a running commentary, you know, like they do on DVDs of great shows. Both ladies kept pointing out the delicious historical details and calling, “Bravo!” Continue reading

2013 Book #23 – The Duchess War, by Courtney Milan

Yeah, this pretty much seals it. I’m a big fan of Courtney Milan. I read The Governess Affair a couple of months ago and absolutely loved it. Then I met Courtney in Atlanta during RWA nationals and found her to be a really nice, brilliantly intelligent person. So naturally I had her sign a copy of The Duchess War for me, and I actually paid for it too! It was the first of the 30+ books I got in Atlanta that I rushed to read.

duchess war

 

Yep. I liked it! Very much. I love how deep and dimensional Courtney’s characters are. Not only does she write in a non-standard historical time period (the 1860s), she writes characters who are not your standard upper class, wealthy, titled romance novel fare. Sure, the hero, Robert, is a duke, but he is a very unconventional duke. The heroine, Minnie, is firmly middle class with some decidedly unusual secrets in her past. They are a perfect match, but of course the path to love does not run straight. Continue reading