Ellie and the Harp Maker by Hazel Prior

Ellie and the Harp Maker is a love story set in Exmoor, England and involves a nature loving, autistic harp maker and a lost housewife dominated by her husband. But that description itself is already a spoiler, because Hazel Prior tells the story directly from the point of view of Ellie and Dan (the harpmaker) and lets you decide who and what they are. I loved the simple voice of each narrator as they tell the story of what happened to them. You will cheer at the end. The book is written by a harpist (her website is still devoted mostly to her harp career.) so she knows about harps and their construction. And she also knows something about how to make a book a joy to read.

The Bride Test

The Bride Test is a wonderful romance, written by Helen Hoang, that sensitively deals with autism and immigration issues. Ms. Huong is herself on the autism spectrum and so can share with deep personal insight how that feels. She is also the daughter of a Vietnamese war refuge so she has insight into the Veitnamese immigration experience.

Don’t miss the sexy fun — and the sweet ending!

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Slivera

This one is a delight — Becky Albertalli (Simon vs the Home Sapien Agenda) and Adam Silvera (They Both Die at the End) each write a character in a fun summer romance set in NYC. The meet cute first meeting, the hunt to find each other later, the bad first dates (x 3!) and of course, all too soon, the end of summer all deliver rich characters, light humor and just a bit of sexual tension. I would have liked the 2 character’s voices to be more distinct; I sometimes had to look at the chapter title to figure out who was speaking. However, this is a solid, adorable, fun relationship-focused romance from 2 writers who’ve captured our imaginations in a sparkling way before.

Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley

This “dual time historical fiction” romance (who knew that was a ‘thing?’) shares the story of a museum curator working to create a museum on Long Island in the home of a revolutionary war hero. She is researching the war hero’s sister’s romance during the last year of the French and Indian War. We also hear the story from the perspective of this sister — and from the perspective of the captured French Canadian Officer being billeted in her home. The characters are well drawn, dealing with a terrible amount of grief; the time period is well researched in every detail; the book is a very compelling read. Ms. Kearsley changed and enlarged my understanding of the French and Indian War, a less well known era, while thoroughly entertaining me. My first book from Susanna Kearsley but I am looking forward to getting to know her writing better

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F. C. Lee

Super powers, hilarity, demon spawn and Chinese mythology make  The Epic Crush of Genie Lo an awesome book.  Genie is busting her butt trying to get into a great college and get out of the community she lives in outside of San Francisco.  Everything is going to plan until Quentin shows up and strange things start to happen, like demons arriving and the possibility of the whole city being destroyed.

Here’s the abridged version; turns out Quentin is actually the Monkey King and Genie is the Monkey King’s former all powerful weapon, the Ruyi Jingu Bang, reincarnated as a human.  Of course this takes Genie some time to wrap her head around.  Turns out being the Ruyi Jingu Bang also means she has awesome super powers. Since the Ruyi Jingu Bang, is incredibly powerful everyone is after Genie because they want to harness her power.  Genie has no interest in belonging to someone else.  Genie and Quentin begin to train together, because of those aforementioned demons.  There are over 100 demons that have escaped from hell and Genie and Quentin need to take them all down to save the day. Note – that is not a simple task.  While all that is going on Genie is still trying to manage her day to day life including applying for colleges, friendships, crushes and her divorced parents.  She has her hands full to say the least.

The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman

Abbi Waxman is great at conveying grief and confusion while also being really funny. Her main character, Lilian, lost her husband suddenly and, after 3 years, is just getting her feet under her. She’s taking a gardening class to prep for a big illustration job at work, not to heal. But of course gardening leads to growth, and not just for the tomatoes!

As a gardener, I loved each chapter’s open, a single page of instructions and tips on growing a particular vegetable.  Fun, engaging, well written, The Garden of Small Beginnings is very affecting, despite the regular jocularity. A great summer read and one that may inspire you.

Author Interview with Romance novelist Caridad Pineiro

December 7, 2011

(En español)

A creative book project in elementary school was the impetus to the thriving, successful career of Romance novelist Caridad Piñeiro. Writing her first romance novel in the fifth grade about stranded high school students on a tropical island finding solace in each other, she is now the author of over 20 published books. The New York City Chapter of Romance Writers of America honored Caridad with the Golden Apple Author of the Year Award. In a recent interview with Reader’s Services’ Elvira Carrizal-Dukes, Caridad Piñeiro shared her love of writing.

Continue reading “Author Interview with Romance novelist Caridad Pineiro”

Romance: the program

January 23, 2011

 If you are a sucker for the happy ending, if you crave the comfort of a well-told tale of love, if you seek out authors who can satisfy your love of star-crossed couplings, paranormal trysts, romantic suspense, or urban young adult and inspirational romance, then romantic fiction is for you, and you won’t want to miss this February 12 romance fiction program!

Indulge in Romance” will feature a panel discussion by five talented Romance authors, Barbara Binns; urban young adult romances, Julie James; romantic suspense novels based on her experience as a lawyer, Maureen Lang; inspirational romances with a historical twist; Margot Justes; international mysteries, and Patricia Rosemoor, author of fifty Harlequin Intrigue novels as well as books in the contemporary, historical and paranormal sub-genres.

The Saturday program begins at 2 p.m. and includes a Borders Books Shop and Share program, with a percentage of all weekend proceeds benefiting Evanston Public Library. In addition, Romance program attendees can indulge in cupcakes, take part in a raffle of luscious gifts from local merchants, Belgian Chocolatier Piron, Pivot Point Academy, and Benefit Boutique and swap for gently-used romance novels.

Warm up February and Indulge in Romance. Contact Juliette Swett at jswett@ecityofevenston.org for details.

Susan M., RA

Reading Through the RITAs

October 21, 2010

Although I occasionally read more “literary” fiction, I spend a lot of time reading Women’s Fiction and Contemporary Romance.  The other day, I tried to remember what first drew me to this genre.  Every summer, my family drove our Subaru station wagon north to a small cottage in northern Michigan. Every year, two days before we left on our journey, my mother took me and my brother to the library.  There we would spend two hours picking out books to entertain us during our time at the cottage. The cottage’s black and white TV’s reception was fuzzy at best, and the June weather wasn’t always warm enough for outdoor activities.  Instead, I relied heavily on the entertainment value of the books I picked out during our two-hour adventure at the library. Continue reading “Reading Through the RITAs”