WELCOME to the Small Book Blog! I am a voracious reader. I love losing myself in books and cannot wait to read myself into my next adventure. It is because of this love for books that I created this blog. I want to share my passion of books with you! I hope you enjoy my recommendations and reviews. My goal is that they will lead you to a new book, series or author, that you can fall in love with and recommend to others as well.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Susan Elizabeth Phillips' Fancy Pants (Wynette, TX #1)

Fancy Pants is one of Phillips earlier novels, I believe it was first published in the 1980’s. The story, the action, the characters, unlike some of her other early novels, are timeless. I had a love/hate relationship with both the main characters Dallas and Francesca the entire book. For me, part of the hate was because I am not accustomed to the amount of fighting, yelling, screaming, kicking, slapping and walking out that occurs throughout the novel. The reader knows that the character will be redeemed, so for me, that wasn’t an issue. This is a novel of two people that are complete opposites meeting under extreme circumstances and trying to figure out where they go from there. Dallas is a second rate pro-golfer who can’t allow himself to win any of the big tournaments and hides his intellect behind his backwoods cowboy persona. Francesca is a beautiful British fluff ball that is used to getting her way, is a spoiled rich girl, and accustomed to being treated like royalty. Due to a tragedy and circumstances Francesca finds herself on the set of a vampire movie in America’s Deep South. Outraged, she leaves the set, broke, without a clue where she is going, dressed in an ugly pink Southern bell’s gown. Dallas ends up driving by and picking up this woebegone character, thinking she will be just another stray. Instead Francesca and Dallas find themselves at odds, they’re firecrackers and a lighted match, and the fireworks begin.  
The beginning of the novel, I would say well into the 100 page mark in my edition, is all background information on Francesca and some on Dallas so that the reader can really understand the characters and their development, their relationship and choices that are made. I had to convince myself to stick with it for a while, but was happy that I did. Phillips introduces subjects and decisions in this novel that are very potent and tough, that affect the characters for the rest of their lives. This is not a novel of a trivial love story or love triangle but one riddled with flawed characters, poor decision making, humbling circumstancing and having to fight for what you most want in the world. This is riches to rags to riches story that has the reader staying up late to see what will happen next.
If you are a Susan Elizabeth Phillips fan this is a definite must read. Dallas and Francesca are in future novels so finally reading their actual history and story was a pleasure. If you have not read Susan Elizabeth Phillips yet, I would not recommend this for your first experience unless it sounds like it’s up your alley. I read her novel Match Me If You Can as my introduction to the witty world of Phillips and fell in love with her.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Reflections: Re-reading Books

Devouring a beloved novel...
also known as re-reading.
Do you ever feel the pressing need to re-read a book? You hear a story, see a movie, think of a scene or character and then all you can think about is finding that book and devouring it again? That’s how I’m feeling lately…Today I found myself daydreaming what my re-read list would be. So far I have: A Discovery of Witches, one or more Jane Austen novels (except for Northanger Abbey, I don’t want to re-read it). Those books have been stuck in my mind for weeks!  I am debating if I want to re-read the next Twilight book before the new movie so I can criticize and feel like I “really know what I am talking about”. And the same for The Hunger Games. At some point I want to do a Harry Potter marathon, read the book then watch the movie, repeat…but I’d have to wait till all the DVD’s are out. I just re-read Sugar Daddy so it’s out of my system. There are a few Nora Roberts books that are trying to get my attention but luckily they haven’t made themselves known individually to be added to the list.
Do you have a favorite novel or book you have a hampering to re-read? Suggestions of new or beloved books to try out or re-read? I would love ideas! Who cares how long the list is. You guys should see my wish list on Goodreads and Barnes and Noble.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Lisa Kleypas's Sugar Daddy

I love this book. It sucks me in. The author did such a good job from the first page all I want to do is root for Liberty and see where her life is going to take her. This is a contemporary romance, but unlike the harlequins you are picturing right now, this one will not let you down. Another good thing, it’s the first in a series so there is more to devour.

The author starts out with Liberty and her mother when Liberty is just a young girl and you grow up with her through all the joys, trials and tribulations of her life through her adulthood. Most books, to really get to know the character and care, are huge (in size) to encompass everything, but the author has done a good job giving highlights, stories, memories and insightfulness, so all the extra words are not necessary. Liberty lives with her single mother in a trailer park, after her father dies and they move to Welcome, Texas.

The first half of the back is the story of Liberty Jones. We follow her from the age of 14-years-old when her momma moves into a trailer park in Welcome, Texas through her teenage years. When Liberty is only 18-years-old, her momma tragically dies and leaves her the choice of struggling to raise her baby sister, Carrington (named after a famous soap opera star) or give her up to the system. While this has some spoilers, it is the skeletons of the back story. The author gives the reads as much humor and laughter as she does heartache.  

While growing up in the trailer park, Liberty meets Hardy Cates, an ambitious teenager with a bad reputation. Hardy's family is worse off than Liberty's and Hardy is the “man” of the house, helping financially supports his mother and siblings. Hardy is the guy everyone depends on to help out and save them, which he does naturally. Hardy and Liberty's relationship is a unique one and Liberty is heart-broken when Hardy leaves her to work on oil rigs and seek out his fortune.

The story continues with Liberty moving to Houston and working her way through beauty school while caring for her baby sister. She eventually meets mega wealthy investment mogul (which, we know by Texas standards is saying something), Churchill Travis, at a high class beauty salon where she works. She talks Churchill into a manicure and over the years a strong friendship is formed between them. I don’t want to tell you more without getting into some real spoilers but the plot thickens and gets better and better!

Carrington and Churchill are great additions to the plot, especially Churchill. The author left an aura of mystery that needed to be figured out, and while the reader suspects, Liberty doesn’t. It added another layer to an already well layered novel.

The couples in this book are, to me from growing up with Liberty, very believable and had me rooting for them at different times throughout the novel. I didn’t think I would want to switch from Team Hardy to Team Gage but I could not help myself. I felt like I was right there with Liberty trying to help her make her choices between the two loves of her life. Honestly, when it comes to deciding between the love of your past and the possible love of your future, I did not envy Liberty for having to make a decision, but I was rooting for her every step of the way.

I absolutely recommend this novel to anyone in the mood for a good fiction read, romance, wants to fall in love with new fictional characters, or just a book that has laughter and tears. The characters have you wanting to keep reading about them and their family in the next books in the series.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Reflections: J.K. Rowling

I watched Lifetimes new movie about J.K. Rowling. It is an unauthorized biography from her childhood to current. It was very interesting. She is an incredible woman. At the end they showed some tid-bits about her achievements and one of them was a statistic that every 30 seconds someone, somewhere in the world, opens a Harry Potter book to read. (That’s as close as I remember the stat.) How incredible is that?! If anyone finds the actual stat or watches the movie and sees it, please correct me if I am off but what a great gift to the world. Every 30 seconds someone reads a book for enjoyment.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Exciting Upcoming Event- Continued

As I mentioned in July, author Becky Banks is going to be visiting The Small Book Blog! We are tentatively looking at September 25th- October 1st, 2011. Please start submitting any questions or comment you have for Ms. Banks. I am compiling a list. In the mean time, here is Ms. Banks book, for those of you who have not read it yet.

The Legend of Lady MacLaoch             
A legendary love, an unforgiving curse, and the discovery of a lifetime ...
Centuries ago a vengeful curse buried itself deep into the history of the MacLaoch clan and become a legendary tale told by all those not cursed by its words.

In present-day Scotland, the laird and chieftain of the MacLaoch clan is an ex-Royal Air Force fighter pilot who has been past the gates of hell and returned a changed man. Rowan MacLaoch does battle with wartime memories and a family curse that threaten to consume him—unaware that his life and that of the history of the clan will be changed forever by the arrival of an American woman.

Cole Baker, a feisty recent graduate of a master’s program, stumbles upon the ancient curse while researching her bloodlines. Moved by the history of the MacLaoch clan and the mystery of its chief, she digs into the legend that had been anything but quiet for centuries.

On their quest for answers, Cole and Rowan travel to places they have never before been and become witnesses to things they have never before fathomed. The legend—one started with blood—will end with more shed as its creator finally exacts her justice.
Here is a link to Ms. Banks blog, which includes how to purchase her fabulous novel.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Rebecca Ellen Kurtz's Sons of God

Well, Let me start this off with saying that I enjoyed this book... it was different, and I liked that ALOT. I read this book because I actually won it in the Goodreads giveaway. It’s one of the only things I have ever won.

I was a Religious Studies and English major and I found myself thinking that, while I was reading this, if I was in class but daydreaming during a religious studies history course, this book would possibly be the result of my day dreaming... With that in mind this book could have been ginormous in its textual size trying to give the reader background info and teachings, but it wasn't. It was VERY compact and the history/lore/teaching/knowledge one might need was very abbreviated. At some points I felt a little too abbreviated but that just might be me and my love of the subject.

I was a little upset that when you finally got to the big climax it was rushed. There was a nice pace throughout the book and then it was a quick "wam bam thank you mam, watch for the next book in series" ending. The characters, when you learned their true identities, I felt, deserved a little more respect than that. (**Spoiler** I'm still waiting for the sequal...)

I loved the binding of the book; it fit with the book, kinda old fashioned, string binding and not the usual glued spine. It was made to look like an antiquated text, and the layout of the book was unique. There were images with verses and lore to look like they were still on the ancient texts and the font was a brown rather than black. I will say that the author needs a better editor.

That said, it was a fun little read.