Sunday, October 4, 2015

A New Ghost in Town: "Manifestations of A Phantom's Soul: A Duet: Rib-caged Hearts" by Michelle Rodriguez

I have to say, Michelle Rodriguez writes the swooniest Phantom and Christine stories! As you can see, the Recommender has been very busy doing other things than reading and reviewing, alas, (big garden/illustration jobs) but I had to get this review finished, for part 1 of this two novella collection, because I couldn't put it down! Rib-Caged Hearts revisits that moment when Erik gives up Christine to his rival for her affections, the worlds most famous Vicomte, Raoul de Chagny. This is staged in a way quite differently from most takes on this love triangle, and Ms. Rodriguez creates a heartbreaking moment and one you'll have to read to understand the emotional fall-out a selfless act can generate. Erik wanted to be loved for himself, and it looks like this is something that might actually happen. Christine is on the brink of becoming his, or so it seemed. Then, a shadow from his past appears. Someone who knows Erik's darker side and has watched, enviously, as the Opera Ghost ruled over the Paris Opera House. Someone who reminded Erik that he was a monster, unworthy of love. Damian, a gypsy magician who aided Erik's escape from his caged humiliation and has now tracked him to his lair with a proposal. One Erik seems ready to accept. Can it be the end of Erik and Christine's love story? You will have to get a copy of this collection and see for yourself. The Recommender will review the second story as time allows!
*A fun note: This past August I attended the fabulous PhantomCon in Richmond, VA. and got to spend time with the talented and lovely author, Michelle, and her talented and adorable cover photographer, Jessica Elizabeth. I also got to meet Elaina, the beautiful cover Christine on several of Michelle's books. It's not every day you meet a book cover girl and Jessica's covers capture the spirit of Michelle's words perfectly. See the image above.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Baby, It's Cold Outside: "All the Stars in the Heavens" by Adriana Trigiani

Adriana Trigiani's dishy, addictive new book, All the Stars in the Heavens, is a fictionalized look at one of Golden Age Hollywood's great (and sssshhhh... secretive!) love stories! The story of Loretta Young and Clark Gable. Anyone who grew up on the great films of that era in the movies or on TV or maybe on TCM will find this look into their love and lives fascinating and you can imagine those larger than life figures acting exactly the way Ms. Trigiani captures them. Loretta, actually Gretchen, was one of four beautiful sisters raised by a single Mom who was a star in her own right, an interior designer to the stars. These amazing women lived and worked in the early days of the studios, all having jobs in the industry. Loretta was in film from the age of 4 and had made 50 movies by the time she met Clark and starred opposite him in William Wellman's "Call of the Wild". Loretta has been given a secretary in this story. A young woman from Italy who had been hoping to become a nun. Circumstances lead her to Ms. Young's employ and she acts as a witness to the drama unfolding both on and off camera in the wilds of Washington State on the wintery, snowy Mt. Baker. What happened on Mt. Baker stayed on Mt. Baker... to a degree, but you'll be in on the scoop as you follow the story to its moving conclusion. Highly recommended!

And get yourself a DVD of The Call of the Wild because you'll want to see the magnetism of the two leads in action!
Here's a brief glimpse thanks to Youtube and saxondog2001

Monday, September 7, 2015

Bread and Roses: "Second Helpings at the Serve You Right Cafe" by Tilia Klebenov Jacobs

Emet First, a man in his early 30's, is a natural chef and baker. He is part native American and an upbeat sort of guy. He works at the Serve You Right Café for Eden Rose, a well liked and respected woman who is also good-hearted and always ready with a hand-out to help those that need it. Emet had been one of those that needed it.
He has a past. But then, so does Eden Rose.
As the story begins, Emet is about to meet up with a girl whose breakfast he had chivalrously paid for earlier, when she realized she had forgotten her wallet. He is excited, but worried that opening up to her and letting her in on his secret will scare her away. The girl, Mercey, is a physical therapist. She has a great job and a degree, but there is something she is hiding from Emet, too.
Despite her credentials and career, Mercey has a family she is ashamed of. A father who ran out. A mother with MS... and a twin brother from hell.
Can Emet and Mercey get past their histories and start a new one? That is one of the stories you'll learn as time goes by and customers and friends and the occasional bad check cross the threshold of the delightful Serve You Right Café. The book should come with recipes, or better yet, baked goods, because the descriptions of Emet's creations will have you dying for a taste!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

"The Bloody Shoe Affair" by Joy York

These days, with kids wired to a variety of devices and actual face time becoming a thing of the past (unless the face they are interacting with is on a screen), you might forget that not that long ago kids had adventures and hanging with friends was filled with conversation, laughs, surprises...and maybe even solving a mystery or two. Joy York's delightful The Bloody Shoe Affair: a Daring and Thrilling Adventure with the Jailer's Daughter brings back a more innocent, and yet fun time. Set in 1968, Christi and her family are visiting relatives in the small town of Roselyn, Mississippi. It's her grandparents 50th wedding anniversary. Christi is going to be staying with her cousin, Lily, while the rest of the family heads to her grandparent's farm.
Lily is smart, spunky, popular and very pretty. She is also the daughter of the county jailer and the jail is attached to their house. Criminals come and go, deputies guard the entry and Lily's mom makes sure everyone is well fed with home-cooked meals.
Lily is also always up for adventure and not above playing pranks on Christi, though they are best friends. Christi adores her cousin and the experiences they've shared over the years... but on this particular visit she may have more adventure than she bargained for.
The night before Christi arrives, Lily is already trying to figure out why her father and the deputies have been so hush-hush about a new prisoner. And then, there's a bag with a bloody pair of women's shoes! What could be going on? And before she knows it, Christi is caught up in the web of secrets, intrigue and ...well, there are some cute boys in the mix, too, so this has all the makings of the most memorable summer ever! Grab a copy and join  the girls as they track down clues and try to uncover the big secret of the mystery of the bloody shoes!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Teen Spirit: "Boo" by Neil Smith

Sometimes you come across a book that is so original you want everyone you know to read it. Boo by Neil Smith is such a book. It is very funny, yet also quite poignant. And thoughtful. It is a book you will remember as our lead character, 13 year old Oliver "Boo" Dalrymple, has such a memorable voice and presence.

 Boo is, or should we say was, a boy who is super smart yet lacking a bit in social skills. The story is set in 1979 so he has to deal as best he can. Today he would probably be coded and placed on some spectrum or other. He is called Boo because he is pale, almost albino pale, and has blonde stick-uppy hair. He was born with a defective heart which would have caused him some problems later in life. He is also the main target of Helen Keller Jr. High's bullies. There are boys in his class who live to make Boo miserable. Or did. But something happened one day as he stood at his locker, memorizing the Periodic table and gazing at photos of his two heroes, Richard Dawkins and Jane Goodall. He dies.

And then wakes up again in a fascinating afterlife called Town which is a kind of Heaven that is populated only by 13 year old Americans. As Boo adjusts to this new life he writes it all down for his devoted parents who may never see it, but it gives him purpose and us his story.

And as his story unfolds, he finds that it is easier to actually make friends and be accepted in this other world than on earth. One person he befriends is a boy who died the same day. A boy who had been kind to Boo back home.  A handsome, popular boy. We will find out how they both ended up here and Boo will realize it may not have been his holey heart that gave out on him.
The Recommender LOVED this book. If you are looking for something different to read this summer, check out Boo. It is about as delightfully different as you can get. Thank you to Edelweiss for the DRC!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Pen Pals: "The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend" by Katarina Bivald

Sara Lindqvist  is a young woman from Sweden who has never really had an adventure besides the ones she read about in the books from the book shop where she'd worked. For several years she has corresponded with and exchanged  books with an elderly lady named Amy Harris who lived in a small Iowa town called Broken Wheel.
As their friendship grows over their mutual love of reading, Sara is finally ready to experience something new and despite her parents reservations, and their pushing her to visit New York or Los Angeles, Sara finds herself, one day, in the center of the town of Hope, Iowa, with a book by Louisa May Alcott, a large suitcase and in need of a ride to Broken Wheel.
So begins one of the most delightful of stories and one that will warm the heart of any book lover. Like Sara,  the reader will get to know and love Broken Wheel and its quirky yet kind inhabitants. I won't spoil this absolutely enchanting story for you, better you should get a copy and join Sara, Amy and the good people of Broken Wheel on an adventure you won't soon forget.  Highly Recommended by the Recommender! Thank you to Edelweiss for the DRC!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Me and My Shadow: "The Angel's Shadow" by Louise Anne Bateman

In  Louise Anne Bateman's The Angel's Shadow Meg comes out of the fiction shadows to take her place as the star of this very intriguing retelling of the Phantom's story. This Meg is a girl of contradictions. On the one hand, she is caught up in the world of ballet and the opera, a loyal friend and confidant to Christine Daae' and a loving daughter to her single Mom, ballet mistress and concierge of the Paris Opera House, Madame Antoinette Giry. But on the other, she is fighting off a darkness she doesn't quite understand, and is also a girl who acts on her impulses.
One impulse was to sneak out of the safety of the Opera House one night to meet a man she doesn't really know. When this man attempts to have his way with her... someone steps out of the shadows and rescues her. Part of this rescue is the dark figure taking care of business by murdering the potential rapist. She is grateful, but a bit concerned at the loss of life. Who is this man who was willing to kill for her? As she begins to realize that the rumors and gossip about the Opera Ghost who haunts the hidden recesses of the Opera House is, in fact, a reality, and that both Christine and her mother have connections to this Phantom, her curiosity gets the better of her, and we follow Meg as she uncovers these secrets... and so much more! For the Erik who has saved her, might also hurt her in ways she can't imagine, and yet, she finds herself continuously drawn to this dark and damaged man. And you, dear reader, will be, too! Let me just say that I am looking forward to book 2! Which I hope will be very, very soon!