Forgotten Waltz and Catherine The Great receive Andrew Carnegie Medals

Andrew Carnegie Medals announced!
The Forgotten Waltz

2012 Fiction Winner:

The Forgotten Waltz, by Anne Enright
published by W. W. Norton & Company

2012 Nonfiction Winner:

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman
by Robert K. Massie
, published by Random House, an imprint of the Random House Publishing Group

Congrats to Anne Enright and Robert Massie for being the first winners of the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in fiction and non-fiction!

The news was announced at the ALA Conference on June 24! WOO HOO

I know what two books I'm reading next!!

Photo images and more information can be found here.

GILDED AGE by Claire McMillan


Claire McMillan

Simon & Schuster, $25.00

What the publisher tells us:

A debut author transforms Edith Wharton’s "The House of Mirth"  into a powerful modern story of one woman’s struggle with independence and love.  Ellie Hart made a brilliant marriage in New York, but it ended in a scandalous divorce and thirty days in Sierra Tucson rehab.  Now, returning home to Cleveland, she finds that, despite feminist lip service, she will still need a husband to be socially complete.  A woman’s sexual reputation matters, and so does her family name in the treacherous social terrain where old money meets new: charitable benefits and tequila body shots, inherited diamonds and viper-bite lip piercings, country house weekends and sexting.  Ellie finds that her beauty is a powerful tool in this world, but it has its limitations, even liabilities.  Through one misstep after another, Ellie mishandles her second act. Her options narrow, her prospects contract, until she faces a desperate choice.

My thoughts up next!   



Nancy Atherton

Viking Adult, $ 25.95

What the publisher wants us to know:   When Amelia Thistle moves to Finch, her new neighbors welcome her with open arms-and inquiring minds. Among them is Lori Shepherd, who isn't fooled by Amelia's unassuming persona. Amelia is, in fact, a world-famous artist with a rabid and eager-to-stalk fan base. 
In order to keep peace in Finch, Lori must help Amelia conceal her identity. Amelia, meanwhile, sets about working on the riddle that brought her to town in the first place. A fragment of a family diary hints that one of Amelia's ancestors might have been Mistress Meg, the Mad Witch of Finch. Following the clue, Lori hunts through Finch's darkest and most secret corners, all the while dodging nosy neighbors and Amelia's frantic fans. With Aunt Dimity's otherworldly help, Lori inches closer to the true story of Mistress Meg-and Amelia. 
Returning to the charming world of Finch, Nancy Atherton's latest novel is sure to delight faithful Aunt Dimity readers, Anglophiles, and cozy mystery fans.

My thoughts about Aunt Dimity and the Village Witch:  

Back in 1993 I came across a then brand new "cozy" mystery series about an American  woman who inherited a cottage in Finch, a small English village. Back then I read a lot of cozies!  They were fun, clean and not so complicated that I had to keep a spread sheet on who was who and what was going on.  I loved Nancy Atherton's Aunt Dimity series!  But after a few adventures with Aunt Dimity, my reading tastes changed and I left dear Aunt Dimity, Reginald the much-loved, fluffy pink bunny and Finch far behind.  Fast forward to last month when I realized that Atherton had written a new addition to the series, I wanted to read it and catch up with Lori, her DH Bill and their boys.

Let me say that Atherton writes THE PERFECT COZY. Seriously.  Not sure what a cozy is?   That's OK, here's a definition I found online:

The cozy mystery usually takes place in a town, village, or other community small (or otherwise insular) enough to make it believable that all the principal characters know, and may well have long-standing social relationships with, each other. The amateur detective is usually a gregarious, well-liked individual who is able to get the community members to talk freely about each other. There is usually at least one very knowledgeable, nosy, yet reliable character in the book who is intimately familiar with the personal history and interrelationships of everyone in the town, and whose ability to fill in the blanks of the puzzle enables the amateur detective to solve the case.

In this Aunt Dimity and Lori adventure, there is no dead body, no one is murdered, but it doesn't matter, because there is the perfect mystery!  Atherton deftly brings the reader into the village of Finch and it doesn't matter if you've visited these people before or if this is your first visit, you fit right in and enjoy getting to know everyone there, including village new comer Amelia Thistle who's there on a quest that her late brother started. This time Lori still guides the movement of the plot, but Atherton allows other residents as well as Lori's DH Bill and father-in-law  Willis, Sr. to help from behind the scenes.  

Atherton has kept the series fresh and fun! The mystery may be less contrived but it's still a fun ride. I was afraid it would be sad and tired by now, and I am so dang happy to write that it's not! I love that I can recommend this new entry into the Aunt Dimity series!

So, if you love a good cozy, or have never read a cozy?  Jump on in, it's a fast and fun read. And then go back and read another adventure with Aunt Dimity and Lori Sheppard, they are great friends to have with you at all times. 

5 out of 5 cozy stars!!!

*This e-galley was supplied to me by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Definition of a "cozy mystery" found here.

Faith Bass Darling's Last Garage Sale by Lynda Rutledge

Faith Bass Darling's Last Garage Sale

by Lynda Rutledge

Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam,  $25.95

What the publisher wants us to know:

On the last day of the millennium, sassy Faith Bass Darling decides to have a garage sale. Why is the richest lady in Bass, Texas, a recluse for twenty years, suddenly selling off her worldly possessions? As the townspeople grab up the heirlooms, and the antiques reveal their own secret stories,a cast of characters appears to witness the sale or try to stop it. Before the day is over, they’ll all examine their roles in the Bass family saga, as well as some of life’s most imponderable questions: Do our possessions possess us? What are we without our memories? Is there life after death or second chances here on earth? And is Faith really selling that Tiffany lamp for $1?

My thoughts about Faith Bass Darling's Last Garage Sale:

Holy shmoly, the premise of this book just grabbed me, I loved the idea!  Starting with a first glimpse of things to come when author Lynda Rutledge immerses the reader into the "garage sale" theme with the provenance of a Louis XV elephant clock and a brief story of how it got to Texas. Rutledge then follows with the preface and a partial list of items up for grabs in Faith Bass Darling's garage sale.  You get the idea that there will be some jumping around in time and some exploration of the "last garage sale" theme.  

The theme being the end of Faith's life as she knows it, you quickly learn that her ability to stay grounded in 1999 is wavering when she pays some neighbor boys in $20 gold coins for helping move furniture, and they want "real" paper money.  Rutledge shows us that Faith is having trouble keeping her doctor's name straight as she confuses him with her long dead physician.  The author quickly paints a clear picture of Faith's world in  Bass, Texas in 1999.  She has Alzheimer's and spends a lot of time in the past, sharing the stories behind the items she's selling and the misconceptions of the meanings in old family letters and notes. Things aren't always what they seem to be.

But about a third of the way through this story, I began to get depressed. I mean really depressed.  As prospective readers, the synopsis of the story, to me, paints a more humorous picture of what this book is about.  There are humorous and very touching moments, but I feel as if the description paints a picture that isn't quite the view we actually get. I wish the synopsis had been a bit less light and fluffy, then I would have been more inclined to be prepared for what Faith Bass Darling's Last Garage Sale really is about. 

It's a nicely told, if slow, story of the things and people in our lives and how we project our idea of what they are worth.  It's the story of a woman at the end her life who has chosen to dispose of the things in her world and along the way to deal with unfinished threads in her life, her estranged daughter. 

All in all, I'd give it 3 out of 5 stars as it was a bit slow and I thought the back and forth was a bit over done and often was hard to keep up with. 

I look forward to the next book from Lynda Rutledge, but next time...maybe I'll take the synopsis with a grain of salt and open the book with no expectations about the story.

**I received this book through a Early Reviewer giveaway and have written my honest opinion.  

The Detour by Andromeda Romano - Lax

The Detour


Andromeda Romano - Lax

Soho Press, $25.00

What the publisher wants you to know:

Ernst Vogler is twenty-six years old in 1938 when he is sent to Rome by his employer—the Third Reich's Sonderprojekte, which is collecting the great art of Europe and bringing it to Germany for the Führer. Vogler is to collect a famous Classical Roman marble statue, The Discus Thrower, and get it to the German border, where it will be turned over to Gestapo custody. It is a simple, three-day job.

Things start to go wrong almost immediately. The Italian twin brothers who have been hired to escort Vogler to the border seem to have priorities besides the task at hand—wild romances, perhaps even criminal jobs on the side—and Vogler quickly loses control of the assignment. The twins set off on a dangerous detour and Vogler realizes he will be lucky to escape this venture with his life, let alone his job. With nothing left to lose, the young German gives himself up to the Italian adventure, to the surprising love and inevitable losses along the way. 

My thoughts about The Detour:  

This is a story that I should have loved, it has so many things that interest me, Italy,  WWII, art, stolen art, smugglers, Italian men...etc.  

But for some reason, this one just didn't make me care one way or the other. For me, the story started slow and never took off. I never much liked or cared about Ernst.  Maybe author Andromeda Romano - Lax didn't want me to like him?  But then why give us so many details that "should" make us feel something for him? His struggle with his father "issues", his love interest? 

And then there was the secondary characters, Cosimo and Enzo.  Bleech, at one moment I actually threw, well gently tossed my e-reader onto a chair and walked away.

I just kept trying to get into this one, and failed. I just didn't care.

I'm giving this 2 out of 5 stars, I'm sure that this story will appeal to many readers out there, I just wasn't one of them.  

* This book was sent to me by the publisher through NetGalley, in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The world loses Ray Bradbury

I was so sad to hear that we've lost a giant in the literary world, a man who changed the way we read fiction, who changed how we thought about trying something out of the norm.  Ray Bradbury, you are already missed.

Camera Press for The New York Times

Ray Bradbury, a master of science fiction whose imaginative and lyrical evocations of the future reflected both the optimism and the anxieties of his own postwar America, died on Tuesday in Los Angeles. He was 91.
His death was confirmed by his agent, Michael Congdon. 

Read more from the NY TIMES article about his passing here:  NY TIMES on the passing of Ray Bradbury

Armchair BEA Day #2 The Crem Della Crem: Our "Best of 2012"

The Crem Della Crem: Our "Best of 2012" 

Today’s suggested posting topic is “Best of 2012”
Today I'll share my favorite books so far this year!


Design credit: Nina of Nina Reads

It's Day One for Armchair BEA!  YAY!  And this is my first time participating from the home desk chair, which is NOT anywhere near as comfy as the one in the header!  

But it's "Introduction" day and we're all answering a few of those "getting to know you" kinds of questions, so here goes:

Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?

Gosh, I've been blogging about books for a couple of years now, but haven't done too much in the way of networking or reaching out to other bloggers...until now.  I've always loved books and since I'm always talking about books, what would be more perfect for me?  

 What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2012?

Between print galleys and e-galleys I've got several books going right now. Real life got in my way for a few weeks and now I'm scrambling to catch up.

1.  Faith Bass Darling's Last Garage Sale by Lynda Rutledge
2.  Alys, Always by Harriett Lane
3.  Abdication by Juliet Nicolson
4.  Unexpected Guest by Anne Korkeakivi
5.  Istanbul Passage by Joseph Kanon

What is your favorite feature on your blog (i.e. author interviews, memes, something specific to your blog)?

I LOVE LOVE LOVE my author interviews!  I've been blessed to have been able to talk with many really fine and legendary authors!  I love talking to people about writing!

What literary location would you most like to visit? Why?

Oh that's way too easy, Bramasole, the charming house from UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN!  I mean, come on, who wouldn't want to go there?  And of course, there's also the legendary Algonquin Hotel bar where the really brilliant writers like Dorothy Parker once held court.

Have your reading tastes changed since you started blogging? How?

No, not really, I still love what I love. But I have gotten a bit more adventurous and stepped out of my comfort zone more often.

Well, that didn't hurt too badly! Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings!

Les Miz - a teaser trailer!

I sometimes do a "Books to Movies Monday" meme when I find something too cool not to use, and this teaser for the December release of Les Miserables, is definitely too cool not to use.  

Tom Hooper (The King's Speech) directed this adaptation of Cameron Mackintosh's successful musical version of Victor Hugo's classic novel, with book and music by Claude-Michel Schönber and Alain Boublil respectively.

This version stars Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean and Anne Hathaway as Fantine and Russell Crowe as Inspector Javert .... out in time for Christmas.

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