Archive for September, 2010

The Wolf in the Parlor: The Eternal Connection Between Humans and Dogs

September 30, 2010

The Wolf in the Parlor: The Eternal Connection Between Humans and Dogs

Jon Franklin

St. Martin’s Griffin, Oct 12 2010, $14.99

ISBN: 9780312662646

Humans and canines have a special bond that is unique in the animal kingdom.  That is the hypothesis of Jon Franklin’s insightful look at how that loving tie formed.  Using several sciences to support his theory, Mr. Franklin takes the audience on a wonderful tour of evolution going back twelve millennia as wild wolves were tamed into followers and further tamed into domestic obedience.  Exploring human and animal behavior to include ethics, Mr. Franklin concludes evolutionary the dog gave up on a fifth of his or her brain power to allow humans to do the hard lifting thinking; he insists we gave away one tenth of ours too as dogs provide us unrequited loved as our best friend.  Finally, the author also brings in anecdotal support to his belief of the symbiotic relationship between man and dog when he discusses his beloved Charlie; these are my favorite entries while my husband says my significant other was Max the dog.   This warm, well written nonfiction is filled with scientific information as much as personal tales that showcase the Wolf in the Parlor goes back to the ancient caves as well as the modern day abodes.

Harriet Klausner

A Knight and White Satin-Jackie Ivie

September 29, 2010

A Knight and White Satin

Jackie Ivie

Zebra, Oct 1 2010, $6.99

ISBN: 9781420108842

In 1540 Scotland, Dallis “White Satin” Caruth has no choice but to wed a man she loathes.  She is informed without her feelings considered that she will marry the King’s champion, Payton Dunn-Fadden; who in her mind is a beast.  They marry, but she has one other secret vow; somehow someway she will destroy her brute of a husband who is beneath her station.  He, on the other hand, knows her scorn yet plans to tame the shrew he calls wife.

However, as Dallis and Payton live as man and wife, she sees a kinder gentler person than she imagined.  She begins to fall in love, which supersedes her thirst for vengeance.  Now she wants her husband’s love and perhaps more important his trust.

This is an engaging sixteenth century historical romance starring two enemy combatants falling in love.  Each comes to the marriage with a personal agenda that quickly becomes superseded by desire, attraction and love.  Although the relationship between the pair for the most part is dysfunctional making the anticipated ending a bit abrupt, fans will enjoy the Beauty and the Beast; Jackie Ivie style.

Harriet Klausner

A Perfect Scandal-Tina Gabrielle

September 29, 2010

A Perfect Scandal

Tina Gabrielle

Zebra, Oct 1 2010, $6.99

ISBN: 9781420108491

In 1814 London Lady Isabel Cameron wants to cross the Channel to study art in Paris.  To achieve her goal once the Napoleonic wars end, she knows she must never marry.  Her father believes a lady needs a husband so he plans to arrange a marriage for his daughter before she becomes comfortable on the shelf.  Thus the earl plans to give her to a man over three decades older than her and even older than him.

Desperate Isabel needs to find the right man quick.  She meets scandalous Lord Marcus Hawksley, who is her age and a younger son of an earl; however, he is unacceptable by the Ton because he earns a living as a stockbroker.  Isabel chooses Marcus as ideal for her; not to marry but to destroy her reputation so no one will wed her.  Without a companion, she goes to see him to ask for his assistance, but when he is accused of stealing she is his alibi, but also his scandal.  They agree to a short term marriage of convenience, but an inconvenient truth surfaces when they fall in love.

A Perfect Scandal is a perfect Regency romance due to the lead characters, who bring refreshing new ideas to the entertaining story line.  Whereas she wants to study art while embracing spinsterhood; he breaks a social taboo by working as a stockbroker.  Readers will enjoy the relationship between these ducal offspring; as Tina Gabrielle proves that the whole formed by love is greater than the sum of the individual parts.

Harriet Klausner

The Perfect Love Song-Patti Callahan Henry

September 29, 2010

The Perfect Love Song

Patti Callahan Henry

Vanguard, Oct 12 2010, $15.95

ISBN: 9781593156169

Jimmy Sullivan writes a beautiful Perfect Love Song for his beloved girlfriend Charlotte Carrington.  The lyrics are so well received; he leaves Palmetto Pointe, South Carolina to go on tour with his brother Jack, their band The Unknown Souls and a who’s who of country music.  He enjoys the glitter of the bright lights, the fame of people remembering his name, and the side benefits of being with the legends.

However, his family and that girlfriend who he wrote his original song for are upset with Jimmy.  Indifferent to their pleading, he chooses to perform on Christmas Eve at Radio City Music Hall instead of being the best man at his brother’s wedding.  Will success spoil Jimmy Sullivan as he wanders alone in Manhattan on Christmas Eve?

The Perfect Love Song is an entertaining character study that modernizes the movie Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?  Jimmy is an intriguing lead protagonist who chose career over love so we naive romance fans will feel no empathy for him though logically we understand his opportunity choice.  Fans who enjoy a warm relationship drama will want to read Patti Callahan Henry’s tender tale.

Harriet Klausner

Sloane Hall-Libby Sternberg

September 28, 2010

Sloane Hall

Libby Sternberg

Five Star, Sep 15 2020, $25.95

ISBN: 9781594149177

In 1929 in Los Angeles, John Doyle becomes a camera operator who works both silent and talkie movies at Canfield Studios.  However, a dumb thing he did costs him his job at the studio and a fight his room. . His camera mentor Leo Barkenstein gets him a job as a live-in chauffeur to silent film star Miss Sloane.  John heads to SLOANE H LL.

An alcoholic with a mercurial personality, Pauline Sloane is attracted to John.  He reciprocates as she finds her vulnerability touching.  However, he never loses sight that he is a servant and any future with Miss Sloane nonexistent beyond being her driver.  Besides John wants back behind the camera while Julia the chef and Marta the housekeeper want to influence their relationship; her agent Robbie prefers torpedoing their affection..

John, filled with anger and loneliness, makes for an entertaining historical tale as he reacts rather than thinks.  The rest of the cast are stereotypes of an age of transition in Hollywood to include a fading star, her loyal staff, her acrimonious agent and John’s mentor.  Fans will enjoy this strong look at Hollywood circa 1929.

Harriet Klausner

The Lost Art of Gratitude-Alexander McCall Smith

September 28, 2010

The Lost Art of Gratitude

Alexander McCall Smith

Anchor (Random House), Sep 21 2010, $14.00

ISBN: 9780307387080

Feeling a bit paranoid investment banker Minty Auchterlonie fears someone detests her so much that they are trying to harm her. First government tax agents are investigating her though she has no idea why suddenly they are doing it unless someone tipped them off.  Second she received a funeral wreath from an unknown sender.

At a child’s birthday party, Minty tells her friend Scottish philosopher Isabel Dalhouse, whose not quite two year old son Charlie is at the bash, that she believes someone is after her.  Isabel investigates using skills honed by being the editor of the Review of Applied Ethics.  She questions the most likely suspect Jock Dundas, who believes he sired Minty’s son during an affair they had; he wants time with his alleged offspring or he will expose her to her spouse Gordon McCaig.  Meanwhile her enemy accuses Isabel of failing to prevent plagiarism at the Review and her lover Jamie asks her to marry him so they and their son Charlie can be a family.

If you seek a bit more action turn to the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency tales.  However as with Precious’s detecting, Isabel is a great focus who holds the intelligent slice of life plot together (see The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday).  Character driven, readers will enjoy this sage saga as evil comes in many shapes, but never a Dove as Isabel learns first hand The Lost Art Of Gratitude as no one seems to appreciate her efforts.

Harriet Klausner

The Mischief of the Mistletoe-Lauren Willig

September 28, 2010

The Mischief of the Mistletoe

Lauren Willig

Dutton, Oct 28 2010, $19.95

ISBN: 9780525951872

In 1803, Reginald “Turnip” Fitzhugh visits his sister Sally at the Climson Select Seminary for Young Ladies, a boarding school she attends in Bath.  He meets and his attracted to the school’s new mistress Arabella Dempsey who accepted a position there over the objection of her best friend Jane. 

Mistaking Turnip for the Pink Carnation, Arabella persuades the Fitzhugh siblings to help her with a bit of espionage at Farley Castle though he is unaware of why she invited him to join her there.  As the trio works their mission, Arabella introduces blundering Turnip to her BFF Miss Austen.  Feeling as if he fell off a wagon, Turnip works hard to prove he is worthy of Arabella.

Satirizing the Pink Carnation series (see The Secret History of the Pink Carnation), Laura Willig provides a fresh entry due to Turnip who is a sort of Regency Inspector Clouseau.  Although the espionage subplot is secondary as is the delightful Ms. Austen “correspondence” with Arabella and her unfinished novel as anchors rather than leads, fans will want to spend the twelve days of Christmas with Turnip and Arabella at Dovetail estate.

Harriet Klausner

Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball-Donita K. Paul

September 28, 2010

Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball

Donita K. Paul

WaterBrook, Oct 5 2010, $14.99

ISBN: 9780307458995

With Christmas around the corner, lonely Cora Crowder knows she procrastinates in buying gifts.  On Sage Street, as such she enters into Warner, Werner, and Wizbotterdad’s bookshop where she meets also lonely Simon Derrick.

At the store, Cora and Simon receive invitations to attend a Christmas ball.  They continue to run into each other around town, which has both wondering what is going on as they never met before they literally ran into each at the WWW bookstore.  When Simon mentions he would love to bring his sister Sandy to the ball; Cora gives him her ticket though he insists he was not asking her for it.  It will take a lot more magic to bring this pair together for Christmas.

Although readers will anticipate the outcome of the Christmas ball, this is a terrific romantic fantasy with a strong underlying message on trusting the Heavenly Father.  Fast-paced and whimsical, young adults and older readers will enjoy Donita K. Paul’s charming holiday novella as The Gift of the Magi is learning to respect and love yourself, others and the Lord while doing the fox trot.

Harriet Klausner

The Secrets Sisters Keep-Abby Drake

September 28, 2010

The Secrets Sisters Keep

Abby Drake

Avon, Oct 12 2010, $14.99

ISBN: 9780061878329

In Kamp Kasteel, New York, Broadway producer Edward Dalton vanishes just prior to the arrival of his four nieces allegedly coming to celebrate his seventy-fifth birthday.  The quartet believes Uncle Edward and his significant other Harry have gone to Connecticut to marry.   Each fears he will next cut them out of his will.

Historian Ellie Dalton, Park Avenue socialite Amanda Dalton Delaney, and movie star Naomi “Babe” Dalton consult with each other re their missing uncle.  The fourth sister, family loser and estranged sibling, Carleen is not welcome by the others, who have long memories of all the tragedies she caused; starting with accidentally killing their parents when she burned their home to the ground.  However, the older trio relents and lets her join the search for Uncle Edward. 

Although somewhat like a soap opera especially each sister’s relationship with non-siblings and their family history, fans will enjoy the search for the missing septuagenarian as the quest leads each of the Dalton females to relook what matters in their respective lives.  They need money but they also realize they miss the empathy as only a sister can provide.  The Secrets Sisters Keep is a strong family drama.

Harriet Klausner

A Piggly Wiggly Christmas-Robert Dalby

September 28, 2010

A Piggly Wiggly Christmas

Robert Dalby

Putnam, Nov 14 2010, $24.95

ISBN: 9780399156779

In Second Creek, Mississippi Laurie Lepanto is concerned with what the new MegaMart by the nearby highway exit is doing to the local small businesses.  She initially talks with some of her fellow Nitwitts about her concern before approaching the returning honeymooners, Mayor “Choppy” Hale Dunbar and his new wife Gaylie Girl.  The three of them and the other Nitwitts ladies’ club plan a Christmas gala to revitalize the town square in order to bring back the local shoppers and tourists. 

However, an electrical fire damages the square, leaving the holiday celebration in jeopardy.  Meanwhile Gaylie’s son Petey falls in love (again) this time with Meta, the daughter of formidable Nitwitt Renza Belford.  Even though tension and depression rise to stratospheric levels, the Nitwitts never ever give up.   They need a Yuletide miracle, but if any group could make it happen it is these determined females.

This is a fun regional small town tale that focuses on a major economic-social issue as the corporations replace mom and pop small businesses with big stores.  Although series fans know how this will end unless they are a halfwit, readers will enjoy the antics of the Nitwitts and other eccentric residents of Second (to none) Creek.

Harriet Klausner