New Reviews

New books read this past week:

Under Holidays: The Gingerbread Cookie Code by Ann Trader – a four Sparkler contemporary romance with a high heat level

Under Romance:

Time Signature by Rick Ellrod – a 5 Sparkler time travel romance

By Any Other Name by Alan Lorens – a 4 Sparkler contemporary

Read but not reviewed:

The Grim Reader by Kate Carlisle – though not written up, I’d give this 14th book in her Bibliophile Series a 5 Sparkler rating. Love this series!

January 17

Birthdays: Benjamin Franklin (1706), Charles Brown (1771), Ellen Wood (1814), Anne Bronte (1820), Compton Mackenzie (1883), Ronald Firbank (1886), Leonard D. White (1891), Neville Shute (1899), William Stafford (1914), Robert Cormier (1925), John Bellairs (1938), Suzanne Berne (1961), Sebastian Junger (1962), Wendy Mass (1967)

Quote: “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” – Benjamin Franklin

Leonard D. White was an American historian and posthumous winner of the 1958 Pulitzer Prize for History.

Neville Shute was a British novelist and aeronautical engineer famous for his book “A Town Like Alice”

William Stafford was the US Poet Laureate in 1970 and Oregon Poet Laureate in 1975.

Robert Cormier was famous for his YA fiction, especially the often censored “The Chocolate War”

Sebastian Junger is best known for his novel “The Perfect Storm”

January 16

Birthdays: Robert W. Service (1874), Margaret Wilson (1882), Anthony Hecht (1923), William Kennedy (1928), Norman Podhoretz (1930), Susan Sontag (1933), Magadalen Nabb (1947), Ruth Reichl (1948), Julie Anne Peters (1952), Mary Karr (1955), Marla Frazee (1958), Craig Johnson (1961), Rebecca Stead (1968), Garth Ennis (1970),

Quote: “My idea of a writer: someone interested in everything.” – Susan Sontag

“The myth is that you make a lot of money when you publish a book. Unless you write a blockbuster, that’s pretty much untrue.” – Mary Karr – best known for her memoir “The Liars’ Club”

Margaret Wilson won the 1928 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for “The Able McLaughlins”.

Anthony Hecht won the 1968 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

William Kennedy won the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his novel “Ironweed”.

Julie Anne Peters writes YA fiction about LGBTQ issues.

Marla Frazee is a two-time Caldecott Honor winner.

Rebecca Stead won the 2010 Newbery Medal for “When You Reach Me”

Craig Johnson is noted for his “Longmire” series.

January 15

Birthdays: Moliere (1622?), Ernest Gaines (1933), Robert Silverberg (1935), Frank Conroy (1936), Jenny Nimmo (1944)


Quote: “History could be as arbitrary as poetry, he told himself: what is history, other than a matter of choice, the picking and choosing of certain facts out of a multitude to elicit a meaningful pattern, which was not necessarily the true one? The act of selecting facts, by definition, inherently involved discarding facts as well, often the ones most inconvenient to the pattern that the historian was trying to reveal. Truth thus became an abstract concept: three different historians, working with the same set of data, might easily come up with three different “truths.” Whereas myth digs deep into the fundamental reality of the spirit, into that infinite well that is the shared consciousness of the entire race, reaching the levels where truth is not an optional matter, but the inescapable foundation of all else. In that sense myth could be truer than history.” – Robert Silverberg


Moliere was a French playwright and considered to be a master of comedy.


Ernest J. Gaines is most famous for his books “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman”, A Gathering of Old Men”, and “A Lesson Before Dying”.


Robert Silverberg is a multiple winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards for his science fiction works.

January 14

Birthdays: Hendrik Van Loon (1882), Hugh Lofting (1886), John dos Passos (1896), Emily Hahn (1905), Tillie Olsen (1913), Dudley Randall (1914), John Killens (1916), Kenneth Bulmer (1921), Yukio Mishima (1925), Thomas Tryon (1926), Taylor Branch (1947), Eric Maisel (1947), John Lescroart (1948), Mary Robison (1949), Arthur Cover (1950), Maureen Dowd (1952), Anchee Min (1957), David Beren (1957).
Quote: “I make no claim to be an authority on writing or illustrating for children. The fact that I have been successful merely means that I can write and illustrate in my own way.” – Hugh Lofting (creator of Doctor Dolittle)
Hendrik Van Loon won the first Newbery Award in 1922 for his children’s book “The Story of Mankind”
John Dos Passos is best known for his USA Trilogy
Taylor Branch won the Pulitzer Prize for History for “Parting the Waters: Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement 1954-63”
A lot of new-to-me authors in this batch today. I’ve heard of Lofting and Dos Passos, but not many of the others. I find it interesting, though, looking at “famous” authors and learning about them.

January 13

Birthdays: A.B. Guthrie Jr. (1901), Carolyn Heilbrun (aka Amanda Cross) (1926), Michael Bond (1926), Flora Nwapa (1931), Horatio Alger Jr (1932), Ron Goulart (1933), Carolyn See (1934), Edmund White (1940), Frank Peretti (1951), Jay McInerney (1955), Claudia Emerson (1957), Lorrie Moore (1957),

Quote: “The great advantage of having a bear as a central character is that he can combine the innocence of a child with the sophistication of an adult.” – Michael Bond (creator of Paddington Bear)

A.B. Guthrie Jr. won the 1950 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for “The Way West”

Claudia Emerson won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for “Late Wife”

Oh, sweet Paddington Bear, at the train station, with his blue coat (with the tag), red hat, and suitcase. Such adventures he had.

Spotlight: Barbara Mountjoy

Up-and-coming mommyblogger and single mom Marisol Herrera Slade returns to her old hometown in western Pennsylvania for her 20th high school reunion in 2005, reluctant and yet compelled to see her high school sweetheart, Russell Asher, who dumped her for the homecoming queen. Russell’s marriage to the golden girl, however, ended in a nasty divorce, and he has been systematically excluded from his sons’ lives. In his Internet wanderings, he’s found feminist blogger named Jerrika Jones, who glorifies single motherhood, essentially putting a stamp of approval on what’s happened to him. His group of single dad advocates have vowed to take this woman down. What Russell doesn’t know, when he thinks to rekindle what he had with Marisol, is that Marisol and Jerrika are one and the same. When his group discovers the truth, will their drive for revenge derail any chance the couple have to reunite? Or will they find they have more in common than they ever expected?

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Alana Lorens has been a published writer for more than forty years, after working as a pizza maker, a floral designer, a journalist, and a family law attorney. Currently a resident of Asheville, NC, the aging hippie loves her time in the smoky blue mountains. She writes romance and suspense as Alana Lorens, and sci-fi, fantasy, and paranormal mystery as Lyndi Alexander. One of her novella’s, “That Girl’s the One I Love” is set in the city of Asheville during the old Bele Chere festival. She lives with her daughter on the autism spectrum, who is the youngest of her seven children, and she is ruled by three crotchety old cats, and six kittens of various ages. She can be found at:

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Twitter: @AlexanderLyndi

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January 12

Birthdays: Charles Perrault (1628), Edmund Burke (1729), Laura Adams Amer (1874), Jack London (1876), Margaret Danner (1915), William Nicholson (1948), Haruki Murakami (1949), Walter Mosley (1952), David Mitchell (1969), Julia Quinn (1970),

Quote: “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” – Jack London

Charles Perrault is noted for being the originator of the fairy tale genre.

Laura Amer won the 1932 Newbery Award winner for “Waterless Mountain”

I read a lot of Jack London when I was in high school. Some of his works are still favorites. But Charles Perrault is the one who gave us tales we’ll remember forever – like Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Puss in Boots, and more.

January 11

Birthdays: Alice Rice (1870), Bernard DeVoto (1897), Alan Paton (1903), Manfred Lee (1905), Helen Howe (1905), Diana Gabaldon (1952), Robert O’Brien (1918), Aldo Leopold (1887), Mary Rodgers (1931), Jill Churchill (1943), Jasper Fforde (1961), Alethea Kontis (1976)

Quote: “If you’re going to have more than one person read your book, they’re going to have totally different opinions and responses. No person – no two people – read the same book.” – Diana Gabaldon

 “Getting a book published is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do and getting a picture book published is darned near impossible. Have a thick skin and prepare yourself for truckloads of rejection and humiliation. But if you’re just masochistic and hard-headed enough to never give up, you’ll make it happen. (Just like anything else in this world.) I wish you the best of luck!” Alethea Kontis, writer of YA books, picture books.

Mary Rodgers, writer of books like “Freaky Friday” is the daughter of Richard Rodgers and she started out writing musicals.

Alan Paton was a South African author and anti-apartheid activist who was famous for his first novel “Cry, the Beloved Country”.

Bernard DeVoto won the 1948 Pulitzer Prize for History for “Across the Wide Missouri”

Manfred Lee wrote under the name “Ellery Queen” and was famous for his mysteries.

Robert O’Brien won the 1972 Newbery Medal for “Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH”