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The Shelves are Groaning - XV/12

In order to get through this long list of books I’ve recently added to my home library, I’ve copied in summaries from Goodreads and cut back on the personal commentary a great deal.

unmaking hunter kennedy

Debutantes by Cora Harrison – YA Historical Fiction.
Set in 1923 this is about four girls – Violet, Daisy, Poppy and Rose Derrington – want nothing more than to leave their enormous, crumbly old house in the country to go to London and live the life of jazz, dancing and parties. They each have their own plans for escaping their humdrum country life, but “a house as big and old as Beech Grove Manor hides many secrets, and Daisy is about to uncover one so huge it could ruin all their plans – ruin everything – forever.”

Unmaking Hunter Kennedy by Anne Eliot – YA Romance.
“After an accident and a suicide attempt, a teen pop star recovering from depression is forced to move to Colorado and live in disguise so he can rest, but falls in love with the girl next door.”

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay – YA Romance.
E-book from Netgalley. “Full of rage and without a purpose, former pianist Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone discovering her past and to make the boy who took everything from her pay. All 17 year-old Josh Bennett wants is to build furniture and be left alone, and everyone allows it because it’s easier to pretend he doesn’t exist. When your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space. Everyone except Nastya, a hot mess of a girl who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. The more he gets to know her, the more of a mystery she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he may ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding or if he even wants to.”

gravity

The Gypsy King by Maureen Fergus – YA Fantasy.
E-book from Netgalley. Due out January 2013. Sixteen-year-old Persephone is a slave who “has spent four long years toiling beneath the leering gaze of her despised owner and dreaming of a life where she is free to shape her own destiny. Then, one night, a chance encounter with a handsome chicken thief named Azriel changes her life forever. Sold to him for a small bag of gold coins, Persephone soon discovers what she already suspected: namely, that Azriel is not what he seems. And when she realizes that he believes Persephone has a special destiny—she is determined to escape him and his impossibly broad shoulders.”

Gravity by Melissa West – YA Science Fiction.
“In the future, only one rule will matter: Don’t. Ever. Peak. Seventeen-year-old Ari Alexander just broke that rule and saw the last person she expected hovering above her bed – arrogant Jackson Locke, the most popular boy in her school. She expects instant execution or some kind of freak alien punishment, but instead, Jackson issues a challenge: help him, or everyone on Earth will die.”

Scorcher by Kelly Edwards – Urban Fantasy.
E-book from Amazon. “Orphaned by the accidental use of her pyrokinetic abilities at the age of 11, Aidan O’Donnell had nowhere to turn when the secret criminal organization known as Iris took her in and used her powers of fire manipulation for their own nefarious purposes. Hoping to one day break free of Iris’s hold, Aidan closely guards the secret of her criminal life as she struggles to maintain a separate identity as Aidan Grey. Aidan can’t let her guard down, especially not with New York City Detective Marty Knox, the man who won’t turn his back on her and the man she can’t resist. But Marty has a secret of his own, one that would endanger both their lives if discovered by Iris.”

swipe

The Culling by Steven dos Santos – YA Science Fiction.
E-book from Netgalley. First book in the Torch Keeper series. “Lucian ‘Lucky’ Spark has been recruited for training by the totalitarian government known as the Establishment. According to Establishment rules, if a recruit fails any level of the violent training competitions, a family member is brutally killed … and the recruit has to choose which one. As the five recruits form uneasy alliances in the hellish wasteland that is the training ground, an undeniable attraction develops between Lucky and the rebellious Digory Tycho. But the rules of the training ensure that only one will survive – the strongest recruits receive accolades, wealth, and power while the weakest receive death. With Cole – Lucky’s four-year-old brother – being held as ‘incentive,’ Lucky must marshal all his skills and use his wits to keep himself alive, no matter what the cost.”

Swipe by Evan Angler – Children’s/YA Science Fiction.
After I got Sneak from Netgalley I realised it was the second book in the series, so since I was still interested in reading it I got the first book, Swipe. “Set in a future North America that is struggling to recover after famine and global war, Swipe follows the lives of three kids caught in the middle of a conflict they didn’t even know existed. United under a charismatic leader, every citizen of the American Union is required to get the Mark on their 13th birthday in order to gain the benefits of citizenship. The Mark is a tattoo that must be swiped by special scanners for everything from employment to transportation to shopping. It’s almost Logan Langly’s 13th birthday and he knows he should be excited about getting the Mark, but he hasn’t been able to shake the feeling he’s being watched. Not since his sister went to get her Mark five years ago … and never came back.”

Sneak by Evan Angler – Children’s/YA Science Fiction.
E-book from Netgalley. I didn’t realise this was the second book in a series until after I got downloaded it. “In a future United States under the power of a charismatic leader, everyone gets the Mark at age thirteen. The Mark lets citizen shop, go to school, and even get medical care–but without it, you are on your own. Few refuse to get the Mark. Those who do . . . disappear. Logan Langly went in to get his Mark, but he backed out at the last minute. Now he’s on the run from government agents who will stop at nothing to capture him. But Logan is on a mission to find and save his sister, Lily, who disappeared five years ago on her thirteenth birthday, the day she was supposed to receive her Mark.”

nightshifted

Alien vs. Alien by Gini Koch – Science Fiction; Romance.
The fifth book in the Katherine “Kitty Katt” series. “Jeff and Kitty Katt-Martini and the rest of the American Centaurion Diplomatic Corps are still recovering from their introduction to Washington DC politics, parties, and conspiracies. So when compromising pictures arrive, no one’s too surprised. They’re also the least of anyone’s worries. Evil androids running amok, birds of all kinds and from all places creating havoc, a senator trapped in an ever-tightening web of intrigue, and escalating international tensions all seem tough but manageable. But the disappearance of Jeff Martini and Charles Reynolds during the International One World Festival signals more than the usual nastiness – and it looks like even ACE can’t help them.”

White Horse by Alex Adams – Science Fiction.
E-book from Netgalley. “Thirty-year-old Zoe leads an ordinary life until the end of the world arrives. She is cleaning cages and floors at Pope Pharmaceuticals when the president of the United States announces that human beings are no longer a viable species. When Zoe realizes that everyone she loves is disappearing, she starts running. Scared and alone in a shockingly changed world, she embarks on a remarkable journey of survival and redemption. Along the way, Zoe comes to see that humans are defined not by their genetic code, but rather by their actions and choices.”

Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander – Urban Fantasy.
First book in the Eddie Spence series. “Nursing school prepared Edie Spence for a lot of things. Burn victims? No problem. Severed limbs? Piece of cake. Vampires? No way in hell. But as the newest nurse on Y4, the secret ward hidden in the bowels of County Hospital, Edie has her hands full with every paranormal patient you can imagine—from vamps and were-things to zombies and beyond… Edie’s just trying to learn the ropes so she can get through her latest shift unscathed. But when a vampire servant turns to dust under her watch, all hell breaks loose. Now she’s haunted by the man’s dying words—Save Anna—and before she knows it, she’s on a mission to rescue some poor girl from the undead. Which involves crashing a vampire den, falling for a zombie, and fighting for her soul.”

Break the Skin by Lee Martin – Fiction.
“Laney—a skinny, awkward teenager alone in the world—thinks she’s found a kindred spirit in thirty-five-year-old Delilah. Until the police come to ask Laney questions and she finds herself reconstructing a story of suspense, deceit, and revenge; a story that will haunt her forever. Seven hundred miles away, in Texas, Miss Baby has the hardened heart of a woman who has been used by men in every possible way, yet she is desperate for true love. When she meets a stranger, a man who claims he can’t remember his real name or his past but who seems gentle and trusting, Miss Baby thinks she may have finally found someone to love, someone who will protect her from the abusive men who fill her past. But Miss Baby and Laney are connected by a terrible crime, and, bit by bit, the complex web of deceptions and seemingly small misjudgments they’ve each helped to create starts to unravel—all the way to the shocking, tragic climax.”

The Patient Ecstasy of Fraulein Braun by Lavonne Mueller – Historical Fiction.
E-book from Netgalley. “Eva understands Hitler is married to Germany and must herself stand back unacknowledged as he enclasps the world in a passionate, pythonlike thrall. Until the last days in the final chapter of the Third Reich (and the first chapter of the novel), when Adolf and Eva move into their first home together, the Fuhrerbunker. There, deep underground, hidden from the light of day and the light of history, but laid fully bare to the author’s unblinking eye, Eva Braun’s unquestioning patriotism and patience finally pay off—in a private wedding ceremony and a cyanide capsule.”

The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright – Fiction.
“In Terenure, a pleasant suburb of Dublin, in the winter of 2009, it has snowed. A woman recalls the trail of lust and happenstance that brought her to fall for “the love of her life.” As the city outside comes to a halt, she remembers the days of their affair in one hotel room or another: long afternoons made blank by bliss and denial. Now, as the silent streets and the stillness and vertigo of the falling snow make the day luminous and full of possibility, she awaits the arrival on her doorstep of his fragile, twelve-year-old daughter, Evie.”

The Chocolate Money by Ashley Prentice Norton – Fiction.
This story, set in Chicago and the East Coast in the 1980s, is about “the relationship between an impossibly rich chocolate heiress, Babs Ballentyne, and her sensitive and bookish young daughter, Bettina. Babs plays by no one’s rules: naked Christmas cards, lavish theme parties with lewd installations at her Lake Shore Drive penthouse, nocturnal visits from her married lover, who “admires her centerfold” while his wife sleeps at their nearby home. Bettina wants nothing more than to win her mother’s affection and approval, both of which prove elusive. When she escapes to an elite New Hampshire prep school, Bettina finds that her unorthodox upbringing makes it difficult to fit in with her peers, one of whom happens to be the son of Babs’s lover. As she struggles to forge an identity apart from her mother, Bettina walks a fine line between self-preservation and self-destruction.”

The Colour of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe – Fiction.
I totally got this for the cover. Well actually, I picked it up at Chapters because of the cover, but I wouldn’t have got it if the story hadn’t interested me. “Lost among the mayhem that defines Macau, Grace’s life is slowly unraveling. Her marriage to Pete is fraying and her dreams of having a family seem hopeless. With the heralding of a new year she resolves to do something bold. Something her impetuous Mama might do. In this pocket of China, filled with casinos and yum cha restaurants, she opens her own small cafe called Lillian’s. This sanctuary of macarons and tea becomes a place where the women of Macau come together, bridging cultural divides, to share in each other’s triumphs and pain. But Grace’s immersion in the cafe takes its toll on her marriage, and when things start to crumble, her beloved Lillian’s suddenly feels like a burden rather than an escape. The recipe for disaster is complete when Pete does the unthinkable.”

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante – Fiction.
“The story begins in the 1950s, in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. Growing up on these tough streets the two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else. As they grow, as their paths repeatedly diverge and converge, Elena and Lila remain best friends whose respective destinies are reflected and refracted in the other. They are likewise the embodiments of a nation undergoing momentous change. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her protagonists, the unforgettable Elena and Lila.”

jm barries ladies swimming society hemingway's girl

Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away by Christie Watson – Fiction.
“When their mother catches their father with another woman, twelve year-old Blessing and her fourteen-year-old brother, Ezikiel, are forced to leave their comfortable home in Lagos for a village in the Niger Delta, to live with their mother’s family. Without running water or electricity, Warri is at first a nightmare for Blessing. Her mother is gone all day and works suspiciously late into the night to pay the children’s school fees. Her brother, once a promising student, seems to be falling increasingly under the influence of the local group of violent teenage boys calling themselves Freedom Fighters. Her grandfather, a kind if misguided man, is trying on Islam as his new religion of choice, and is even considering the possibility of bringing in a second wife. But Blessing’s grandmother, wise and practical, soon becomes a beloved mentor, teaching Blessing the ways of the midwife in rural Nigeria. Blessing is exposed to the horrors of genital mutilation and the devastation wrought on the environment by British and American oil companies. As Warri comes to feel like home, Blessing becomes increasingly aware of the threats to its safety, both from its unshakable but dangerous traditions and the relentless carelessness of the modern world.”

The JM Barrie Ladies’ Swimming Society by Barbara J Zitwer – Fiction.
“Joey, an overworked New York architect, has come to the Cotswolds to oversee the restoration of Stanway House – the stately home that inspired J.M. Barrie to write Peter Pan. But it hasn’t been easy. The local residents aren’t exactly welcoming, and then there’s the problem of the brooding caretaker, a man who seems to take every opportunity to undermine her plans. She soon begins to feel that she can’t do anything right. Until, that is, she begins to take a daily dip with the members of the J.M. Barrie Ladies’ Swimming Society in their private, watery Neverland. They will teach her that it’s not the house that needs restoring; it’s her…”

Hemingway’s Girl by Erika Robuck – Historical Fiction.
“In Depression-era Key West, Mariella Bennet, the daughter of an American fisherman and a Cuban woman, knows hunger. Her struggle to support her family following her father’s death leads her to a bar and bordello, where she bets on a risky boxing match…and attracts the interest of two men: world-famous writer, Ernest Hemingway, and Gavin Murray, one of the WWI veterans who are laboring to build the Overseas Highway. When Mariella is hired as a maid by Hemingway’s second wife, Pauline, she enters a rarified world of lavish, celebrity-filled dinner parties and elaborate off-island excursions. As she becomes caught up in the tensions and excesses of the Hemingway household, the attentions of the larger-than-life writer become a dangerous temptation…even as the reliable Gavin Murray draws her back to what matters most.”

The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead – Classics.
“Every family lives in an evolving story, told by all its members, inside a landscape of portentous events and characters. Their view of themselves is not shared by people looking from outside in–visitors, and particularly not relatives–for they have to see something pretty humdrum, even if, as in this case, the fecklessness they complain of is extreme.”

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett – Historical Fiction.
First book in the Century Trilogy. “A thirteen-year-old Welsh boy enters a man’s world in the mining pits.…An American law student rejected in love finds a surprising new career in Woodrow Wilson’s White House. A housekeeper for the aristocratic Fitzherberts takes a fateful step above her station, while Lady Maud Fitzherbert herself crosses deep into forbidden territory when she falls in love with a German spy. And two orphaned Russian brothers embark on radically different paths when their plan to emigrate to America falls afoul of war, conscription, and revolution.”

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton – Historical Fiction; Romantic Thriller.
“It starts with a letter, lost for half a century and unexpectedly delivered to Edie’s mother on a Sunday afternoon. The letter leads Edie to Milderhurst Castle, where the eccentric Blythe spinsters live and where, she discovers, her mother was billeted during World War II. The elder Blythe sisters are twins and have spent most of their lives caring for their younger sister, Juniper, who hasn’t been the same since her fiancé jilted her in 1941. Inside the decaying castle, Edie searches for her mother’s past but soon learns there are other secrets hidden in its walls. The truth of what happened in “the distant hours” has been waiting a long time for someone to find it. In this enthralling romantic thriller, Morton pays homage to the classics of gothic fiction, spinning a rich and intricate web of mystery, suspense, and lost love.”

perfect place

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf – Classics.
I’ve never read this, and I’ve never had a copy. Decided it was time to rectify it, though I’m not looking forward to reading it, to be honest. “To the Lighthouse is made up of three powerfully charged visions into the life of one family living in a summer house off the rocky coast of Scotland. As time winds its way through their lives, the Ramsays face, alone and simultaneously, the greatest of human challenges and it greatest triumph – the human capacity for change. A moving portrait in miniature of family life, it also has profoundly universal implications, giving language to the silent space that separates people and the space that they transgress to reach each other.”

The Perfect Place by Sheila Kohler – Fiction.
“At a hotel in Switzerland, a mysterious and elegant woman is recovering from an unspecified illness. One day, a man approaches her on the terrace. “You were a friend of Daisy Summers,” he says. With that simple statement begins the unraveling of a decades-old mystery and a journey into a mind as fascinatingly intelligent and amoral as readers have seen since Patricia Highsmith unleashed The Talented Mr. Ripley.”

The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak – Historical Fiction.
“When Vavara, a young Polish orphan, arrives at the glittering, dangerous court of the Empress Elizabeth in St Petersburg, she is schooled in skills ranging from lock-picking to love-making, learning above all else to stay silent – and listen. Then Sophie, a vulnerable young princess, arrives from Prussia as a prospective bride for the Empress’ heir. Set to spy on her, Vavara soon becomes her friend and confidante, and helps her navigate the illicit liaisons and the treacherous shifting allegiances of the court. But Sophie’s destiny is to become the notorious Catherine the Great. Are her ambitions more lofty and far-reaching than anyone suspected, and will she stop at nothing to achieve absolute power?”

balloonist waterproof bible all my friends are superheroes

The Balloonist by MacDonald Harris – Historical Fiction.
“As in the best of Jules Verne or Albert Sanchez Pinol, The Balloonist is a gripping and surreal yarn, chilling and comic by turn, that brilliantly reinvents the Arctic adventure. It is July 1897, at the northernmost reach of the inhabited world. A Swedish scientist, an American journalist, and a young, French-speaking adventurer climb into a wicker gondola suspended beneath a huge, red-and-white balloon. The ropes are cut, the balloon rises, and the three begin their voyage: an attempt to become the first people to set foot on the North Pole, and return, borne on the wind.”

The Waterproof Bible by Andrew Kaufman – Speculative Fiction.
I enjoyed The Tiny Wife so much I immediately ordered a couple more Kaufman books. “Rebecca has a most unusual problem: no matter how hard she tries, she can’t stop broadcasting her feelings to people around her. Luckily, she’s discovered how to trap and store her feelings in personal objects. Lewis is grieving for his wife, Lisa, Rebecca’s sister. Inconsolable he skips Lisa’s funeral. flies to Winnipeg, gets a haircut and meets a woman who claims to be God. At the wheel of a stolen Honda Civic is Aberystwyth, aka Aby, driving across Canada to save the soul of her dting mother. She is green gill-necked, and very uncomfortable out of the water. An unexpected encounter with Aby sets off a chain of events which sends each of them on a personal quest. Can Rebecca, Lewis and Aby find redemption before a terrible flood destroys their chance of happiness?”

All My Friends Are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman – Speculative Fiction.
“All Tom’s friends really are superheroes. There’s the Ear, the Spooner, the Impossible Man. Tom even married a superhero, the Perfectionist. But at their wedding, the Perfectionist was hypnotized to believe that Tom is invisible. Nothing he does can make her see him. Six months later, she’s sure that Tom has abandoned her. So she’s moving to Vancouver. She’ll use her superpower to make Vancouver perfect and leave all the heartbreak in Toronto. With no idea Tom’s beside her, she boards an airplane. Tom has until the wheels touch the ground in Vancouver to convince her he’s there, or he loses her forever.”

buffalo jump 419

Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason – Mystery; Suspense; Thriller; Crime.
E-book from Netgalley. Due out February 2013. I don’t normally read much crime fiction, but the premise of this one had me instantly requesting it. “‘There is very little peace for a man with a body buried in his backyard.’ With this memorable first line, we meet Jason Getty, a regular guy in every mild sense of the word. But extraordinary circumstances push this ordinary man to do something he can’t undo…and now he must live with the undeniable reality of his actions. And just as Jason does finally learn to live with it, a landscaper discovers a body on his property—only it’s not the body Jason buried. As Jason’s fragile peace begins to unravel, his life is hitched to the fortunes of several strangers: Leah, an abandoned woman looking for answers to her heartbreak; Tim, a small-town detective just doing his job; and Boyd, a fringe-dweller whose past is about to catch up to him – all of them in the wake and shadow of a dead man who had it coming.”

Buffalo Jump by Howard Shrier – Crime.
“Toronto investigator Jonah Geller is at a low point in his life. A careless mistake on his last case left him with a bullet in his arm, a busted relationship and a spot in his boss’s doghouse. Then he comes home to find notorious contract killer Dante Ryan in his apartment — not to kill him for butting into mob business, as Jonah fears, but to plead for Jonah’s help. Ryan has been ordered to wipe out an entire Toronto family, including a five-year-old boy. With a son of his own that age, Ryan can’t bring himself to do it. He challenges Jonah to find out who ordered the hit. With help from his friend Jenn, Jonah investigates the boy’s father — a pharmacist who seems to lead a good life — and soon finds himself ducking bullets and dodging blades from all directions. When the case takes Jonah and Ryan over the river to Buffalo, where good clean Canadian pills are worth their weight in gold, their unseen enemies move in for the kill.”

419 by Will Ferguson – Fiction.
Winner of this year’s Giller Prize. I honestly wasn’t going to get it until the paperback came out, but some women on my street have started a book club and invited me to join, and this is the first book we’re reading (for February). “A car tumbles down a snowy ravine. Accident or suicide? On the other side of the world, a young woman walks out of a sandstorm in sub-Saharan Africa. In the labyrinth of the Niger Delta, a young boy learns to survive by navigating through the gas flares and oil spills of a ruined landscape. In the seething heat of Lagos City, a criminal cartel scours the internet looking for victims. Lives intersect, worlds collide, a family falls apart. And it all begins with a single email: “Dear Sir, I am the son of an exiled Nigerian diplomat, and I need your help …” 419 takes readers behind the scene of the world’s most insidious internet scam. When Laura’s father gets caught up in one such swindle and pays with his life, she is forced to leave the comfort of North America to make a journey deep into the dangerous back streets and alleyways of the Lagos underworld to confront her father’s killer. What she finds there will change her life forever.”

Galore by Michael Crummey – Fiction; Historical Fiction.
“When a whale beaches itself on the shore of the remote coastal town of Paradise Deep, the last thing any of the townspeople expect to find inside it is a man, silent and reeking of fish, but remarkably alive. The discovery of this mysterious person, soon christened Judah, sets the town scrambling for answers as its most prominent citizens weigh in on whether he is man or beast, blessing or curse, miracle or demon. Though Judah is a shocking addition, the town of Paradise Deep is already full of unusual characters. King-me Sellers, self-appointed patriarch, has it in for an inscrutable woman known only as Devine’s Widow, with whom he has a decades-old feud. Her granddaughter, Mary Tryphena, is just a child when Judah washes ashore, but finds herself tied to him all her life in ways she never expects. Galore is the story of the saga that develops between these families, full of bitterness and love, spanning two centuries.”

Two Solitudes by Hugh Maclennan – Fiction.
This is the Quebec book that will be debated in next year’s Canada Reads – I hadn’t heard of it before but I’m interested in the theme – the oft-times tense relations between the Quebecois and English-speaking Canada, and the search for a Canadian national identity. It is about “Athanase Tallard, the son of an aristo-cratic French-Canadian tradition, of Kathleen, his beautiful Irish wife, and of their son Paul, who struggles to establish a balance in himself and in the country he calls home.”

February by Lisa Moore – Fiction.
This is the Newfoundland selection for Canada Reads, and I thought I had a copy but I didn’t. Well, I do now! “In 1982, the oil rig Ocean Ranger sank off the coast of Newfoundland during a Valentine’s Day storm. All eighty-four men aboard died. February is the story of Helen O’Mara, one of those left behind when her husband, Cal, drowns. It begins in the present-day, but spirals back again and again to the ‘February’ that persists in Helen’s mind and heart. In her external life, Helen O’Mara cleans and does yoga and looks after her grandchildren and shakes hands with solitude. In her internal life, she continually revisits Cal. Then, one night she gets a phone call: her son John is coming home. He has made a girl pregnant after a brief, sex-filled week in Iceland. As John grapples with what it might mean to be a father, Helen comes to terms with her need to remember the dead.”

confidant lighthouse stevensons

When the Siren Calls by Tom Barry – Fiction.
E-book from Netgalley. I’ve already started reading this but it’s a bit slow (and long) and I’m not even halfway yet. “Restless and neglected, Isobel is suffocating in a stagnant marriage. Suave and charismatic Jay is fighting for survival. An invitation to visit Jay’s resort in the hills of Tuscany sparks Isobel to imagine a life of freedom and excitement. Dismissing her husband’s objections, Isobel pursues Jay to Tuscany on the pretext of searching for a holiday home. After fighting anguished guilt, she abandons herself in a passionate affair, with her controlling lover encouraging Isobel to push beyond her sexual boundaries. But all is not as it seems in the idyllic Tuscan retreat, and Isobel finds herself trapped in a web of intrigue, deception, and betrayal. She is one player in a dangerous love triangle, unsure whether Jay is her saviour, or her nemesis. As her world falls apart, she must choose between the woman she thought she was, and the woman she has become.”

The Confidant by Hélène Grémillon – Historical Fiction.
“‘I got a letter one day, a long letter that wasn’t signed.’ Camille reads this narration of events from pre-war France, certain that it has been sent to her by mistake. Then more letters start to arrive… They tell of a friendship struck up between a young village girl, Annie, and Madame M, a bourgeois lady. To begin with the women simply share a love of art, but when Annie offers to carry a child for her infertile friend, their lives become intimately entwined. The child is born on the eve of the German invasion of France, and the repercussions of her birth are still felt decades later.”

The Lighthouse Stevensons by Bella Bathurst – Non-fiction: Biography; History.
I didn’t realise this was non-fiction when I ordered it; I really don’t read biography, but I’m not one to turn down a challenge. The subtitle is The Extraordinary Story of the Building of the Scottish Lighthouses by the Ancestors of Robert Louis Stevenson. “For centuries the seas around Scotland were notorious for shipwrecks. Mariners’ only aids were skill, luck, and single coal-fire light on the east coast, which was usually extinguished by rain. In 1786 the Northern Lighthouse Trust was established, with Robert Stevenson appointed as chief engineer a few years later. In this engrossing book, Bella Bathhurst reveals that the Stevensons not only supervised the construction of the lighthouses under often desperate conditions but also perfected a design of precisely chiseled interlocking granite blocks that would withstand the enormous waves that batter these stone pillars. The same Stevensons also developed the lamps and lenses of the lights themselves, which “sent a gleam across the wave” and prevented countless ships from being lost at sea. While it is the writing of Robert Louis Stevenson that brought fame to the family name, this memorizing account shows how his extraordinary ancestors changed the shape of the Scotland coast – against incredible odds and with remarkable technical ingenuity.”

inventing the christmas tree

Because I Said So! The Truth Behind the Myths, Tales, and Warnings Every Generation Passes Down to Its Kids by Ken Jennings – Non-fiction: Parenting; Science.
“Ken Jennings wants to find out if mother and father always know best. Yes, all those years you were told not to sit too close to the television (you’ll hurt your eyes!) or swallow your gum (it stays in your stomach for seven years!) or crack your knuckles (arthritis!) are called into question by our country’s leading trivia guru. Jennings separates myth from fact to debunk a wide variety of parental edicts: no swimming after meals, sit up straight, don’t talk to strangers, and so on. Armed with medical case histories, scientific findings, and even the occasional experiment on himself (or his kids), Jennings exposes countless examples of parental wisdom run amok. Whether you’re a parent who wants to know what you can stop worrying about or a kid (of any age) looking to say, “I told you so,” this is the anti–helicopter parenting book you’ve been waiting for.”

Fairy Tales From the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version by Philip Pullman – Fairy Tales; Short Stories.
“Two hundred years ago, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm published the first volume of Children’s and Household Tales. Now, […] Philip Pullman, one of the most popular authors of our time, makes us fall in love all over again with the immortal tales of the Brothers Grimm. From much-loved stories like “Cinderella” and “Rumpelstiltskin,” “Rapunzel” and “Hansel and Gretel” to lesser-known treasures like “Briar-Rose,” “Thousandfurs,” and “The Girl with No Hands,” Pullman retells his fifty favourites, paying homage to the tales that inspired his unique creative vision—and that continue to cast their spell on the Western imagination.”

Inventing the Christmas Tree by Bernd Brunner – Non-fiction: History, Anthropology.
“A colourfully decorated Christmas tree, lit with twinkling lights, provokes awe and delight. We understand the lighted tree as a central symbol of the Christmas season, but what are the roots of the tradition? Who first thought to bedeck a tree, to bring it inside? How and where did the local activity grow into a widespread tradition, and how has the Christmas tree traveled across time and continents? Bernd Brunner’s brief history — enriched by a selection of delightful and unusual historical illustrations — spans many centuries and cultures to illuminate the mysteries of the Christmas tree and its enduring hold on the human imagination.”

A Christmas Bride/Christmas Beau by Mary Balogh – Historical Romance; Novella.
Two short romances set around Christmas time. In the first: “The very wealthy Edgar Downes has promised his aging father to finally take a bride—specifically, to wed a titled lady by Christmas. London is full of pretty, proper, and eligible misses, but it’s the widow Helena, Lady Stapleton, in a shocking red dress, who captures Edgar’s attention.” In “Christmas Beau”, “Not even the warm, forgiving Christmas spirit can stop the Marquess of Denbigh from settling his score with Judith Easton: The beautiful young widow injured Denbigh’s pride years ago by jilting him for another man. Now that Judith is free from a nightmare marriage, the handsome marquess has her in his sights—and wants her in his arms.”

Instant Attraction by Jill Shalvis – Romance.
Marg (Adventures of an Intrepid Reader) recommended the Shalvis’ Wilder series, and I believe this is the first one. “Accountant Katie Kramer is a quintessential good girl; working hard, recycling diligently, all the while trying to ignore the feeling that she doesn’t fit in anywhere. That’s all she wants. Well, that; and amazing sex, and the kind of daredevil escapade she can look back on when she’s crunching numbers in a dusty cubicle. Which explains why she just took a job in Wishful, California, working for Wilder Adventures and Expeditions. Waking up to find a magnificently built stranger towering over her bed; that part defies explanation…”

The Governess Affair by Courtney Millan – Historical Romance; Novella.
E-book from Amazon. After reading Angie’s glowing review on Angieville, I absolutely had to get this. “Three months ago, governess Serena Barton was let go from her position. Unable to find new work, she’s demanding compensation from the man who got her sacked: a petty, selfish, swinish duke. But it’s not the duke she fears. It’s his merciless man of business — the man known as the Wolf of Clermont. The formidable former pugilist has a black reputation for handling all the duke’s dirty business, and when the duke turns her case over to him, she doesn’t stand a chance. But she can’t stop trying — not with her entire future at stake.”

Dr Chandler’s Sleeping Beauty by Melanie Milburne and Her Christmas Eve Diamond by Scarlet Wilson – Romance.
Ooh lookit, a Mills & Boon book!! Haven’t read one of these since that great course at uni on popular fiction, when we all had to read three of them. This is from their Medical Romance series, both set in Sydney, and I don’t know, I guess I was curious – and maybe too wanted to read an Aussie romance for a change. Plus one refers to Sleeping Beauty and the other seems to be Christmas-themed.

That Weekend… by Jennifer McKenzie – Romance.
E-book from Netgalley. Due out January 2013. “As a TV blogger and celebrity reporter with her finger on the pulse of the entertainment world, Ava Christensen figures she’s a shoo-in as cohost at Entertainment News Now. Wrong. The reason? Jake Durham. To add insult to injury, Ava has to spend a week with her Judas of a boss at the industry’s A-list film festival. All right, so maybe she used to think the hotshot executive producer was a hunk, but that was before he passed her over for promotion. These days, Ava isn’t ready to believe there’s a tender, caring side to the guy. But Jake’s surprising her in more ways than one, making Ava wonder what she really wants. Her dream job…or possibly her dream guy?”

Wild About You by Kerrelyn Sparks – Paranormal Romance.
The 13th book in the Love at Stake series. I have all the books but have only read six of them so far. I have some catching up to do! Because they don’t number them on the covers, I had to write a list of the entire series down so that when I’m looking at my shelves, I know which one I’m up to.

The Bite Before Christmas by Lynsay Sands & Jeaniene Frost – Paranormal Romance; Novella; Anthology.
Two of my favourite paranormal romance authors in one book? Yes please! And with a Christmas theme to boot, I’m loving it! I’m absolutely determined to read as many Christmas-themed books as I can around this time of year. (I vow that every year and it hasn’t happened yet, sadly.)

Shadow’s Claim by Kresley Cole – Paranormal Romance.
It’s Kresley Cole’s new book/series. What more needs to be said?

Rogue Rider by Larisa Ione – Paranormal Romance.
I got this as an e-book galley from Netgalley first, but when I saw it at the shop the other day I thought, what the hell. I liked Ione’s first series, even if I thought the last book was a bit disappointing – her writing is still good and I love the world she’s created.

bedding down

Bedding Down edited by Rachel Kramer Russel – Erotica; Short Stories.
E-book from Amazon. So glad to see not everyone is following the new trend of giving erotic romance books those bland Fifty Shades-inspired covers (did you see, they even re-released Megan Hart’s novels with the new covers! Sooooo boring). I love Kramer’s anthologies, and have high hopes for this one too, which carries the themes of cold winter nights. The stories sound great: “Two uptight Manhattanites discover a hotspot in frigid Minnesota where they can shed their inhibitions and explore their most intimate fantasies… A billionaire recluse and a beautiful paparazzo generate some serious heat in a snowbound cabin in the Colorado Rockies… Combine a blizzard, a romantic old castle, a burglary, and a breathtakingly sexy devil—her perfect recipe for dangerous lust… In the unfamiliar chill of a New York winter, a California sun bunny discovers the secret to igniting her boyfriend’s inner erotic fire… Stuck with a man she despises on her sister’s wedding day, a distraught beauty resolves to be civilized — until her studly adversary lures her into a forbidden place with no rules or taboos… A husband and wife whose marriage has stalled get their pistons pumping once more when a sudden winter storm strands them in their car… Though she’s been taught all her life never to beg, her insatiable desire for him is bringing her to her knees…”

O Come All Ye Kinky edited by Sarah Frantz – Erotic Romance; Short Stories; Anthology.
E-book from Netgalley. Another Christmas themed book! “From Ava March’s forbidden Regency love among men, to Katie Porter’s scorching hot contemporary tale of two women discovering holiday happiness, everyone will find a favorite here. Pervertible toys abound: Lambda Literary Award finalist L.A. Witt’s candy cane, Jane Davitt’s wrapping paper and tape, and Alexa Snow’s Christmas candles all please and delight. Newcomer Elyan Smith and fan favorite Kim Dare both celebrate New Year’s Eve with romantic flair and kinky fireworks, while bestselling author Joey W. Hill’s poignant story of love lost and regained will lead you home.”

Chains of Revenge by Keziah Hill – Erotic Fantasy.
E-book from Amazon. “A dark, violent, and devastatingly sensual erotic fantasy about the binding force of love. Lissa, Princess of Horvald, loved and lost her slave in chains ten long years ago. Then she was spoiled and selfish, thinking she could bend a warrior of Catiscal to her will. But time and adversity have changed her into a leader, prepared to give herself to the Warlord Death in order to save her people. Will he accept her sacrifice? Or will his need for revenge blind him to the insidious chains of love wrapping around him – chains even a powerful Warlord can’t resist … or can he?”

Bettie Page Presents: The Librarian by Logan Belle – Erotic Romance.
“Inspired by the story of the iconic Bettie Page, Logan Belle’s sizzling erotic novel explores the transformation of Regina Finch from shy librarian to the object of one powerful man’s all-consuming desire. Regina Finch, brilliant and bookish, has worked her way up to her dream job as a librarian at the Main Branch of the New York Public Library. But her discovery of the sordid sexual adventures of a rakish, young billionaire among the hallowed halls and sacred stacks of the library unleashes a confusing blend of repulsion and desire that threatens to consume her. It is only through her introduction to the work of Bettie Page — the world’s most popular ingenue-turned-fetish-model — and Page’s own sexual awakening that Regina can hope to discover her sexual prowess and seduce the man she loves.”

Just One Night: The Stranger by Kyra Davis – Erotic Romance.
E-book from Netgalley. Due out January 2013. “Kasie knows who she’s supposed to be. But one passionate night with a mysterious stranger will teach her who she wants to be. “You should sleep with a stranger,” her best friend whispers in her ear as they take to Vegas for one last pre-wedding fling. Despite her best intentions, when Kasie Fitzgerald enters the casino and sees him, a man whose tailored clothes belied a powerful, even dangerous, presence, she loses herself to the moment. […] It was supposed to be just one night. But right as she’s thinking she wants more, he shows up in her office with an agenda. As the billionaire CEO of a company that’s engaged her PR firm, his demands just became her reality…and he desires so much more than just some attention in the boardroom.”

Wallbanger by Alice Clayton – Erotic Romance.
E-book from Amazon. “Caroline Reynolds has a fantastic new apartment in San Francisco, a KitchenAid mixer, and no O (and we’re not talking Oprah here, folks). She has a flourishing design career, an office overlooking the bay, a killer zucchini bread recipe, and no O. She has Clive (the best cat ever), great friends, a great rack, and no O. Adding insult to O-less, since her move, she has an oversexed neighbor with the loudest late-night wallbanging she’s ever heard. Each moan, spank, and–was that a meow?–punctuates the fact that not only is she losing sleep, she still has, yep, you guessed it, no O. Enter Simon Parker. (No, really, Simon, please enter.) When the wallbanging threatens to literally bounce her out of bed, Caroline, clad in sexual frustration and a pink baby-doll nightie, confronts her heard-but-never-seen neighbor. Their late-night hallway encounter has, well, mixed results. Ahem. With walls this thin, the tension’s gonna be thick…”

________________________________

HUGH’S LIBRARY:

noni the pony

Noni the Pony by Alison Lester – Picture Book.
A very cute story about Noni, her life at Warratah Bay, and her two friends, Coco the Cat and Dave Dog, by one of my favourite baby/toddler/children’s book writer and illustrator.

Mr Brown Can Moo! Can You? by – Picture Book.
Recently reviewed here.

Up, Up, Down by Robert Munsch – Picture Book.
Recently reviewed here.

that's not my reindeer

Jack and the Beanstalk by Diane Namm – Fairy Tales; Children’s Fiction.
I always enjoyed Jack and the Beanstalk – I don’t know who originally wrote it or where it came from, but I wanted to have a copy to read to Hugh when he’s older. This is a little mass market paperback-sized hardcover, with large, well-spaced-out text and gorgeous colour illustrations on every page, done by Maurizio Quarello. I haven’t read it yet to see if this version lines up with my memory of the story, but if it’s good I might look into more tales in this Silver Penny Stories series.

Sing a Song of Mother Goose by Barbara Reid – Picture Book.
This is a great collection, and Reid’s illustrations are very engaging and quite unique (they’re done with some kind of modelling clay). It’s much better than the Scholastic one.

That’s Not My Reindeer by Fiona Watt – Picture Book.
This is such a great series of touchy-feely books, the kids love them. I’ll have to do a post showcasing the ones we have here.

Animals and On the Move by Sarah Phillips & Joanna Bicknell – Picture Book.
Recently reviewed here.

Colours by Sarah Phillips and First Words by Joanna Bicknell – Picture Book.
Recently reviewed here.

9 comments to The Shelves are Groaning – XV/12

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