Saturday, December 13, 2014

And Now - Here's Lesa!

I am always so proud to have my friend Lesa Holstine here.  

If you don't already follow her blog, and take advantage of her reading suggestions, I urge you to get on over there!  You can find her at Lesa's Book Critiques where she shares her passion for books.  She's also shared that passion in libraries in Ohio, Florida, Arizona, and now Indiana, where she's been a library/manager for over 30 years. She was the winner of the 2011 Arizona Library Association Outstanding Library Service Award. She is a contributing Book Reviewer for Library Journal, Mystery Readers Journal, and Author of the "Mystery Fiction" chapter in Genreflecting: A Guide to Popular Reading Interests (7th ed.) Winner of the 2009 and 2010 Spinetingler Awards for Best Reviewer.  

And she's the owner of the sweetest, most winning smile in the book world.

Say hello to Lesa, everyone.

I always say yes when Kaye asks me a year ahead of time if I’ll write a guest post, and then when the time comes, I have no idea what to talk about. At one time, I thought I’d talk about the romances that drive me crazy in mysteries. My sister and I enjoy the romance, but we tire of the romantic triangles, the women who are indecisive, and the decision-making that goes on and on and on and…. Then, I decided I shouldn’t call out any particular author, so I won’t write that post.

I read an interesting article about your personal brand, but I could talk about Kaye’s better than I could talk about my own. When I think of Kaye, I think of Donald and Harley and gorgeous nature photos, the color red, and passion – her passion for life, for books, for her family and friends, and her passion for justice.

I finally hit on this year’s topic – discovery. As a librarian and blogger, I’m always excited about the discovery of new authors, and the opportunity to share them with others. For a book lover, what’s better than sharing a new book, a new author? Those of you who know my blog, Lesa’s Book Critiques, may know that I emphasize mysteries. So, it might come as a surprise that none of my discoveries this year are mystery authors. But, you might notice some common themes shared in the novels I loved this year. Although some of the authors had written before, I had never read any of their previous books.

Actually, Sarah Jio has written a number of novels, Goodnight June was the first one I read. It’s for all of us who love bookstores, children’s books, and Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon. Jio managed to combine all those elements in a love story, and a love story tribute to children’s books and bookstores. She followed that up with a wonderful tribute to love itself, The Look of Love. Jio’s books make me smile and cry.

Gabrielle Zevin had written young adult and children’s books, but The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry won my heart. This story of an eccentric bookseller and owner of a small island bookstore who finds a toddler left in his bookstore. It will change his life, and everyone he knows. It wasn’t until I heard Zevin speak that I discovered she was inspired by George Eliot’s Silas Marner, a book I hated in school. Now, I may have to go back and read it.

Kaye introduced me to A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd, a debut juvenile novel that is just “splendiferous”. It’s a story with magnificent characters, and wonderful magic. It’s a celebration of words and books, a book in the best tradition of magical storytellers such as Sarah Addison Allen. And, anyone who loves words and magic and stories should pick this one up.

Linda Francis Lee has written numerous books, but The Glass Kitchen was the one I discovered, drawn to the gorgeous cover. And, then I was drawn to the magical elements of this book, the story of a woman who inherited her grandmother’s gift. She knew what food people “needed”, knew what foods would make them feel better. It’s a story of family, love, and a gift.

Many people discovered Daisy Goodwin with her book The American Heiress. I never read that one, but I raced through her historical novel, The Fortune Hunter. It’s a fascinating story about an heiress, Charlotte Baird, who falls for Bay Middleton, a cavalry captain. Middleton has a reputation as a ladies’ man, and a possible fortune hunter. And, his reputation isn’t helped when Elizabeth, the Empress of Austria, the most beautiful woman of her time, asks Bay Middleton to be her pilot on the hunting courses of England. The story fascinated me so much that I looked up all the people involved to find out how their lives ended.

Martha Woodroof’s debut novel, Small Blessings, goes on my list of favorite books of 2014. It’s the story of the people of a small, insulated college community, and the changes in their lives thanks to the new assistant director at the college bookstore. It’s the story of change in one family. It’s about mental illness, alcoholism, and addiction, but it’s also a story of living people who find joy and hope. It’s an optimistic story by author who speaks the truth.

Cancel the Wedding by Carolyn T. Dingman is also a debut novel. Unfortunately, the cover makes it appear to be a chick lit novel about a runaway bride when it’s actually a mystery about one woman’s  past, and a fascinating search for family secrets. It’s the story of a woman who walks away from her engagement – drives away actually, to search for her mother’s past.  Ignore the cover. Do yourself a favor, and discover this bright new author.

And, I’m ending the book discussion with another debut, Shelly King’s The Moment of Everything. It’s about books, bookstores, and reading. (Do you see a pattern here?) It’s a contemporary story about geeks and gamers, the same people who love and buy used books. Narrated by a thirty-four-year-old bookseller who discovers notes in a copy of a book, notes that lead to a change in her life, and in the life of the bookstore itself. It’s Maggie’s story of disillusionment with life and love. It’s sad, and filled with hope and books, along with beautiful writing and fascinating conversations. Why not end a list of discoveries with The Moment of Everything?

I love Kaye. I appreciate her zest for life, and I love her blog and her other writings. It’s always a challenge to come up with something that will do justice to Kaye and her readers. My passion? Sharing books, so this time, that’s exactly what I’m doing, sharing this year’s discoveries. What authors did you discover in 2014?

(note: please don't be concerned if your comment doesn't show up right away.  I've had to enable the "moderate comments" feature.  I may not get to it right away, but I will - promise!)


mybillcrider said...

I may be the only person ever who actually liked SILAS MARNER. Or maybe Steve Martin did, too, because he made a movie based on it: A SIMPLE TWIST OF FATE. I liked THE STORIED LIFE OF A. J. FICKRY quite a bit, too.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

My thanks to you, Lesa, for being here again. You are always, always, a joy. And I love you back, my friend.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your comments about Kaye... she has a sense of fun, and making light out of darkness, a feel for joie de vivre... so many people are apt to drag down others when they feel down, but Kaye is a lifter upper and we are drawn to her light for that! Thelma Straw in Manhattan

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Thelma Straw, you are the SWEETEST! thank you!

And I remembered a new to me series that I am totally hooked on. Written by Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston. The Special Agent Pendergast novels are interfering with my sleep, my housework, my Christmas cards getting addressed, and all the other books piling up in the TBR stack! But, I will be sad when I'm all caught up and then have to wait a whole year for the next installment.

Carol N Wong said...

Good to see you Lesa!

Lesa said...

Thank you, Kaye, for having me, and everyone else for dropping by. It's always an honor to do a guest post for Kaye. And, it's always fun to discuss book discoveries, even if one of them used Silas Marner as the inspiration, Bill.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

(note: please don't be concerned if your comment doesn't show up right away. I've had to enable the "moderate comments" feature. I may not get to it right away, but I will - promise!)

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Lesa rocks!

Lesa said...

Oh, Kevin. Thank you. You do, too, my friend.

Grandma Cootie said...

Thanks for this list, Lesa. Sometimes I get stuck in mysteries or reading the same authors. Not a bad thing, but discovery is good, too. These have all gone on my TBR list for next year.

My Recent Favorite Books said...

I really enjoy Lesa's blog! She is a very sweet lady.

Thanks for sharing her book discoveries!

Lesa said...

Thanks to everyone who stopped by or took the time to comment. I hope you found a few books to enjoy!

Lesa said...

Thank you, Melissa. I'm glad you stopped by Meanderings and Muses to see what books I featured.