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Showing posts from 2015

Book Review: Radio Girl by Carol Brendler

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Radio Girl
Carol Brendler
2013
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Official Synopsis

Fourteen-year-old Cece's dream of a career as a radio star gets off to a bumpy, hilarious start in this engaging historical novel marked by mix-ups and misunderstandings that culminate in the panic surrounding the 1938 broadcast of Orson Welles' War of the Worlds.

My Take in 3 Parts

The Plot
The synopsis is such a simple sentence for such an non-simple book. Radio Girl is one of those novels that handles so many things, like teen rebellion, infidelity, treatment of women in the 1930s, and the callousness of those in show business. It is complex and engaging, especially for someone like me who actually KNOWS about Orson Welles' broadcast of War of the Worlds and the ensuing chaos that erupted.

What might seem like a teen novel, actually doesn't fall under any specific genre. Radio Girl's plot downfall, if it has one, is that it doesn't fit anywhere, not in children's, not in YA, and not in adult. It merely …

Book Review: A Winter Dream by Richard Paul Evans

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A Winter Dream
Richard Paul Evans
Simon & Schuster
2012
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Official Synopsis

From wonderful storyteller and author of the bestselling phenomenon The Christmas Box, a new holiday novel based on the story of Joseph and the coat of many colors.

Joe is forced out of the family business by his jealous siblings. Moving on to another company, he soon becomes chief advisor to the CEO. But when the economy turns, Joe’s siblings need his help to save the family business.
Based on the Old Testament story about Joseph and the coat of many colors and including a love story, A Winter Dream can be embraced for its message of forgiveness by believers and nonbelievers alike.

My Thoughts

I've already determined that I like Richard Paul Evans' writing style. He has a fluid and relaxed way of engaging the reader's interest that makes his books so easy to comprehend and digest, perfect for the holiday season.

That being said, his use of the Old Testament story of Joseph in a modern setting jus…

Book Review: Finding Noel by Richard Paul Evans

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Finding Noel
Richard Paul Evans
Simon and Schuster
2006
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Official Synopsis

"There are stories, Christmas stories that are stored away like boxes of garlands and frosted glass ornaments, to be brought out and cherished each year. I've come to believe that my story is a Christmas story. For it has forever changed the way I see Christmas."

The Christmas season is supposed to be full of joy, but not for Mark Smart. Life had dealt him one blow after another until one snowy November night, when he finds a beautiful young woman who will change his life forever. Macy Wood has little memory of her birth parents, and memories she'd rather forget of her adopted home. A Christmas ornament inscribed with the word "Noel" is the only clue to the little sister she only vaguely remembers, a clue that will send her and Mark on a journey to reclaim her past, and her family.

My Thoughts

As you can tell by now, I love Christmas books. They inspire and uplift me spiri…

Book Review: Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball by Donita K. Paul

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Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball
Donita K. Paul
Waterbrook Multnomah
2010
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Official Synopsis

Can mysterious matchmaking booksellers bring two lonely hearts together in time for Christmas?

In a sleepy, snow-covered city, Cora Crowder is busy preparing for the holiday season. Searching for a perfect gift, a fortuitous trip to Warner, Werner, and Wizbotterdad’s (a most unusual bookshop) leads to an unexpected encounter with co-worker Simon Derrick. And the surprise discovery of a ticket for a truly one-of-a-kind Christmas Ball.

Every year, the matchmaking booksellers of the Sage Street bookshop host an enchanting, old-fashioned Christmas Ball for the romantic matches they’ve decided to bring together.

This year, will Simon and Cora discover a perfect chemistry in their opposite personalities and shared faith? Or will the matchmakers’ best laid plans end up ruining everything this holiday?

My Thoughts

Did you read the synopsis? Assuming that you did, let me give you fair warning…

Happy December!

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I hope everyone is having a blessed holiday season! And I equally hope you're enjoying the Christmas book reviews that I've been posting. I'm going to be busy for the next several days, so I may or may not get a new review posted until the beginning of next week. Just a head's up. Have fun decorating, baking, caroling, wrapping, worshiping, and all of the other amazing things we do during the Christmas season! See you all next week!

Book Review: Christmas at Harrington's by Melody Carlson

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Christmas at Harrington's
Melody Carlson
Revell
2010
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Official Synopsis

Christmas is approaching, and Lena Markham finds herself penniless, friendless, and nearly hopeless. She is trying to restart her life after false accusations landed her in prison, but job opportunities are practically nonexistent. When a secondhand red coat unexpectedly lands her a job as Mrs. Santa at a department store, Lena finally thinks her luck is changing. But can she keep her past a secret? This tender story about fresh starts will charm readers as all of Melody Carlson's Christmas offerings do. Full of redemption and true holiday spirit, Christmas at Harrington's will be readers' newest Christmas tradition.
My Thoughts

I actually had high hopes for this novel simply because the cover was so pretty, so it was a bit of a letdown that I didn't love it. I think it felt toooooo predictable. Most of these stories are naturally predictable, you expect that, but Christmas at Harrington's

Book Review: The Christmas Lamp by Lori Copeland

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The Christmas Lamp
Lori Copeland
Zondervan
2009
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Official Synopsis

Christmas trees, twinkling lights, skating in the park, and holiday displays are the hallmark elements for celebrating Jesus' birth for the sentimental residents of Nativity, Missouri. Will fiscal responsibility replace Christmas their traditions when times are tough?Though their priorities and methods clash, Roni Elliot and Jake Brisco want the same thing---the town to prosper. As the two get to know each other better, each begins to gain a new perspective on what the real wealth of Nativity---and the season---might be.

My Thoughts

This plot had a lot of potential, but it sort of fizzled out about halfway through. The actual Christmas lamp felt a bit like an after-thought, and to be honest, I'm not sure which lamp was actually the Christmas lamp because the story involves 3 lamps. It is supposedly a romance, but I'm at a loss as to how the relationship between Roni and Jake moved from purely platon…

Book Review: The Christmas Candle by Max Lucado

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The Christmas Candle
Max Lucado
Thomas Nelson Publishers
2006
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Official Synopsis

Journey back to a simpler time, to a small English village where nothing out of the ordinary ever happens. Except at Christmastime.

When a mysterious angel suddenly appears in a lowly candlemaker's shop, the holy and the human collide in a way that only God could imagine.

Glowing bright with a timeless message, "The Christmas Candle" will warm your heart with a surprising reminder of God's bountiful love.

My Thoughts

Christmas miracles warm the heart in so many ways, and none better than The Christmas Candle by Max Lucado.

Every 25 years, the same angel comes to the elderly candlemaker's shop in the little village of Gladstone, touching one candle, which the candlemaker then gives away to someone in need, instructing that person to pray to God for a miracle after having lit the candle. The miracle always happens. Only now the new minister isn't necessarily a believer in the s…

Book Review: The Mistletoe Promise by Richard Paul Evans

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The Mistletoe Promise
Richard Paul Evans
Simon and Schuster
2014
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Official Synopsis

Elise Dutton dreads the arrival of another holiday season. Three years earlier, her husband cheated on her with her best friend, resulting in a bitter divorce that left her alone, broken, and distrustful.

Then, one November day, a stranger approaches Elise in the mall food court. Though she recognizes the man from her building, Elise has never formally met him. Tired of spending the holidays alone, the man offers her a proposition. For the next eight weeks—until the evening of December 24—he suggests that they pretend to be a couple. He draws up a contract with four rules:

1. No deep, probing personal questions
2. No drama
3. No telling anyone the truth about the relationship
4. The contract is void on Christmas Day

The lonely Elise surprises herself by agreeing to the idea. As the charade progresses, the safety of her fake relationship begins to mend her badly broken heart. But just as she be…

Book Review: Where Treetops Glisten by Tricia Goyer, Cara Putman, and Sarah Sundin

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Where Treetops Glisten Tricia Goyer, Cara Putnam, Sarah Sundin Waterbrook Press 2014 ✯✯✯✯
(Part of the Official Synopsis)
The crunch of newly fallen snow, the weight of wartime

Three siblings forging new paths and finding love in three stories, filled with the wonder of Christmas

Turn back the clock to a different time, listen to Bing Crosby sing of sleigh bells in the snow, as the realities of America’s involvement in the Second World War change the lives of the Turner family in Lafayette, Indiana.  
The Turner family believes in God’s providence during such a tumultuous time. Can they absorb the miracle of Christ’s birth and God’s plan for a future?
White Christmas by Cara Putnam ✯✯✯
Official Synopsis
In White Christmasby Cara Putman, Abigail Turner is holding down the Home Front as a college student and a part-time employee at a one-of-a-kind candy shop. Loss of a beau to the war has Abigail skittish about romantic entanglements—until a hard-working young man with a serious pro…

Book Review: The Christmas Shoppe by Melody Carlson

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The Christmas Shoppe
Melody Carlson
2011
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Official Synopsis

The small town of Parrish Springs is not ready for Matilda Honeycutt. A strange older woman with scraggly gray hair and jewelry that jangles as she walks, Matilda is certainly not the most likely person to buy the old Barton Building on the town's quaint main street. When it becomes apparent that her new shop doesn't fit the expectations of Parrish Springs residents, a brouhaha erupts. After all, Christmas is approaching, and the last thing the town needs is a junky shop run by someone who looks and acts like a gypsy. But as townsfolk venture into the strange store, they discover that old memories can bring new life and healing.

Once again, Melody Carlson delivers a Christmas story that will touch hearts and delight the senses. Sure to be a classic, The Christmas Shoppe is filled with the special magic the best Christmas stories share--that intangible mixture of nostalgia, joy, and a little bit of magic…

Christmas Fiction Extravaganza!

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Now that I have a book review blog, I figured why not!
There are literally no rules for this since it's not even a blogathon or a blog party, just an excuse for me to read and review Christmas fiction, a lot of which, I'm giving fair warning, will be Christian fiction. If you want to post my button on your page, I would be delighted, just so people can find my blog and hopefully some new Christmas books to read!
I've already begun reading and reviewing, but I won't begin publishing the reviews until the day after Thanksgiving. By that point, I'll likely have a review every day or every other day, which should give you plenty of time to find the books before Christmas.
If anyone wants to join in, I'd love to have you! Just, if you do write a Christmas book review, let me know in the comments of this post so I can compile a list here for others to easily find!

Ash & Bramble by Sarah Prineas

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Ash & Bramble
Sarah Prineas
HarperTeen
2015
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Official Backpage Synopsis

A prince.

A ball.

A glass slipper left behind at the stroke of midnight.

The tale is told and retold, twisted and tweaked, snipped and stretched, as it leads to happily ever after.

But it is not the true Story.

A dark fortress.

A past forgotten.

A life of servitude.

No one has ever broken free of the Godmother’s terrible stone prison until a girl named Pin attempts a breathless, daring escape. But she discovers that what seems to be freedom is a prison of another kind, one that entangles her in a story that leads to a prince, a kiss, and a clock striking midnight. To unravel herself from this new life, Pin must choose between a prince and another—the one who helped her before and who would give his life for her. Torn, the only thing for her to do is trade in the glass slipper for a sword and find her own destiny.

My Take in 3 Parts

The Theme
I love fairy tales and I rarely like a lot of re-tellings. But Ash &…

Update on reading Lorna Doone

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I think I must have been expecting something other than what it's giving me. For one thing, all of that old English is KILLING ME. Bleh! Okay, yes, I love Shakespeare. But that's mostly because Shakespeare had a lyrical quality to his writing that simply sucks me into the story. Everything makes sense, everything has a purpose and a point to it.

What is the point of John Ridd riding his cousin Tom's horse and nearly getting killed while doing it? I'm afraid that R.D. Blackmore found far too many side plots than he needed and managed to incorporate every single one of them into this story.

Combine that with the extremely old English and I'm floundering a bit.

When John was fishing in the icy stream and found his way into the Doone valley, I was interested. Those scenes had everything to do with the plot and because I already know some of the story from the film version, I was fascinated at how they were similar and how they differed.

Overall, though, this is one lo…

The Doctor's Lady by Jody Hedlund

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The Doctor's Lady
Jody Hedlund
Bethany House Publishers
2011
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Official Backpage Synopsis

Priscilla White knows she'll never be a wife or mother and feels God's call to the mission field in India. Dr. Eli Ernest is back from Oregon Country only long enough to raise awareness of missions to the natives before heading out West once more. But then Priscilla and Eli both receive news from the mission board: No longer will they send unmarried men and women into the field. 

Left scrambling for options, the two realize the other might be the answer to their needs. Priscilla and Eli agree to a partnership, a marriage in name only that will allow them to follow God's leading into the mission field. But as they journey west, this decision will be tested by the hardships of the trip and by the unexpected turnings of their hearts.

My Take in 3 Parts

The Theme
I grew up partly in Oregon, okay. Stories about wagon trains and the Oregon Trail were literally everywhere and so…

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty & Other Short Stories by James Thurber

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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and other Short Stories
Review: 3 -

"A solid collection of short stories" by Carissa Horton, written on October 25, 2015
The last time I read a collection of short stories, it was for college and I graduated nearly 2 years ago. It might not seem like a long time, but it really is, especially when you're expecting The Secret Life of Walter Mitty to be a a novella and it turns out to be a short story, barely 7 pages long. I forget that short stories are often published in volumes because they're not what I usually read. Hmm, I guess that explains why the first two "chapters" had nothing whatsoever to do with Walter Mitty. Once comprehension dawned, I was able to appreciate James Thurber's dry and somewhat irascible humor. Although I still think the marketing for this particular collection was all wrong. How many people picked this up thinking it was a novella only to be disappointed? We'll never know.

The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron

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The Butterfly and the Violin
A Hidden Masterpiece Novel
Kristy Cambron
Thomas Nelson Publishers
2014
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Official Backpage Synopsis

A Mysterious painting breathes hope and beauty into the darkest corners of Auschwitz--and the loneliest hearts of Manhattan.

Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at the altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. Her desire for distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young girl--a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes.

In her search for the painting, Sera crosses paths with William Hanover--the grandson of a wealthy California real estate mogul--who may be the key to uncovering the hidden masterpiece. Together Sera and William slowly unravel the story behind the painting's subject: Austrian violinist Adele Von Bron.

A darling of the Austrian aristocracy of 1942, talented violinist, and daughter to a high-ranking member of the Third Reich, Adele risks everything when she beg…

Inkdeath (Cornelia Funke) - Chapters 1 - 5

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I finally got around to starting Inkdeath. Whew. There are always so many books that need reading, especially those that have been loaned to me, and I was beginning to fear that I wouldn't get to Inkdeath this month which would have greatly depressed me. But the time has come, as the Walrus said, and so let us begin. I've never written about individual chapters before so don't be surprised if it takes me a few posts to find my stride.
SPOILERS

Like There's No Tomorrow by Camille Eide

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Like There's No Tomorrow
Camille Eide
Ashberry Lane Publishers
2014
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Official Backpage Synopsis

What if loving means letting go?

Scottish widower Ian MacLean is plagued by a mischievous grannie, bitter regrets, and an ache for something he’ll never have again. His only hope for freedom is to bring his grannie's sister home from America. But first, he'll have to convince her lovely companion, Emily, to let her go.

Emily Chapman devotes herself to foster youth and her beloved Aunt Grace. Caring for others quiets a secret fear she holds close to her heart. But when Ian appears, wanting to whisk Grace off to Scotland, everything Emily needs to protect—including her heart—is at risk.

Set in central Oregon’s high desert and the lowlands of Scotland, Like There’s No Tomorrow is an amusing yet heart-tugging love story about two kind, single caretakers, two quirky, old Scottish sisters bent on reuniting, and too many agendas. It’s a tale of family, fiery furnaces, fall…

Remembering Tolkien

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J. R. R. Tolkien January 3rd, 1892 - September 2nd, 1973
My relationship with Tolkien began with a hobbit, one Bilbo Baggins by name. I was fourteen, browsing the shelves of my local library, and plucked an Alan Lee illustrated copy of The Hobbit from its space. My life is forever changed. Such a wide range of possibilities opened up, an entire new world of wonders. This lead to a glorious span of 4 years as The Lord of the Rings films were released where I eat, slept, and breathed everything Tolkien. Those years are long gone now, but my affection for this man and his stories will never fade.

A Bride in the Bargain by Deeanne Gist

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A Bride in the Bargain
Deeanne Gist
Bethany House Publishers
2009
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Official Backpage Synopsis

In 1860s Seattle, a man with a wife could secure himself 640 acres of timberland. But because of his wife's untimely death, Joe Denton finds himself about to lose half of his claim. Still in mourning, his best solution is to buy one of those Mercer girls arriving from the East. A woman he'll marry in name but keep around mostly as a cook.

Anna Ivey's journey west with Asa Mercer's girls is an escape from the griefs of her past. She's not supposed to be a bride, though, just a cook for the girls. But when they land, she's handed to Joe Denton and the two find themselves in a knotty situation. She refuses to wed him and he's about to lose his land. With only a few months left, can Joe convince this provoking--but beguiling--easterner to be his bride?

My Take in 3 Parts

The Theme
Joe Denton needs a wife in order to keep from losing half of his land and Anna Ivey wants …

Top Ten Literary Characters You Didn't Click With

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So I've actually altered the name a little to be just literary characters because I really wanted to just blog about it on Bookshelves and not on Musings. It's part of a Top Ten Tuesdays theme and I found it on You, Me, and a Cup of Tea!


Gale Hawthorne in The Hunger Games He was entirely too reckless for me to fully like, he was partially responsible for the death of a character I loved, and I was always a Peeta fan, so oh well.

Farid in Inkheart I didn't mind him in Inkheart, but as the series of books progressed, he got stranger, his possessive love towards Meggie and his very weird obsession with Dustfinger really threw me off. Inkdeath made me happy on many levels, one of them being that Meggie choosing a much, much healthier match.

Sirius Black in The Harry Potter Series He was a bad influence, a bully, and I didn't like him. In fact, his behavior, which I found deplorable, made me much more a Snape fan than I would have been otherwise.

Colonel Brandon in Sense and Se…

August Reflections

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Hmm, let me see, what has happened this month? I meant to, but never really got started on a reading challenge that involved inspy awards books for this last round of awards. I honestly don't like having to read a book because it's required of me. I'd much rather read it because I want to read it and because inspiration struck. Some of the reads this month were that way, and that's how I like it. So, no more reading challenges of that ilk, I think.

August Goals
To my absolute amazement, I did read 5 books in August, which was a part of my goal. The rest of it was reading such books as Tiffany Girl by Deeanne Gist and some other books that I already own, but that did not happen, which is okay since I'm not in a rush to read any of them. I do wish I'd finished reading The Iliad, but that's just going to have to move to my goals for September. Certainly it needs to be finished before I crack the spine of Lorna Doone. On the plus side, I read both Not By Sight

When Mockingbirds Sing by Billy Coffey

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When Mockingbirds Sing
Billy Coffey
Thomas Nelson Publishers
2013
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Official Backpage Synopsis

What marks the boundary between a miracle of God and the imagination of a child?

Nine-year-old Leah’s invisible friend seems harmless enough until he aids her in upsetting the tranquility of her new town, a place where her parents desperately hoped she’d finally be able to make friends and fit in. Hidden within a picture she paints for a failed toymaker are numbers that win the toymaker millions. Suddenly, townspeople are divided between those who see Leah as a prophet and those who are afraid of the danger she represents. Caught in the middle is Leah’s agnostic father, who clashes with a powerful town pastor over Leah’s prophecies and what to do about them.

When the imaginary friend’s predictions take an ominous turn and Leah announces that a grave danger looms, doubts arise over the truthfulness of her claims. As a violent storm emerges on the day of the annual carnival, Leah’s…

Classics Club Spin Choice!!!

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 The Classics Club chose #5 for the spin number, and for me that ends up being Lorna Doone!

Now, about this story.

I love the movie version from 2000 with Aiden Gillen and Richard Coyle. It's the epitome of an epic romance for me, beaten maybe only by Ivanhoe. Except that Lorna ends up with the guy she's destined to be with, unlike poor Rebecca and Ivanhoe.

But it is possible, in fact likely, that Blackmore's story is very different from the film I hold so very dear. This is why I'm halfway dreading reading the book because what if it ruins my opinion of the movie? I've had that happen before and really frustrated myself! So let's pray this isn't going to be a repeat of past experiences.

Ooh, and as a means of inspiring myself to read and finish this book, since I didn't own my own copy, I purchased the one to the left. It's from 1889, and yes in not the best condition, but I love vintage books! And it's even illustrated which is always a plus…

Classics Club Spin

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This is an event from the Classics Club! I wasn't going to participate and then figured, why not. At least I would have 2 months in which to read whichever book gets chosen from my list and that is quite doable.

The way this works, I list 20 books from my Classics Club reading list of unreads, and tomorrow the Club admins or whoever they are pick a number randomly and I read whatever book correlates to that number. Get it? Got it. Good!

Moving on to the books.
Bunyan, John: The Pilgrim's Progress (1678) Trollope, Anthony: Phineas Finn (1869) Dumas, Alexandre: The Man in the Iron Mask (1850)  Fitzgerald, F. Scott: The Love of the Last Tycoon (1941)  Blackmore, Richard Doddridge: Lorna Doone (1869) Salinger, J.D.: The Catcher in the Rye (1951)Cather, Willa: Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927) Wells, H. G.:The Time Machine (1895) Woolf, Virginia: A Room of One’s Own (1929)  Dickens, Charles: Little Dorrit (1857)Burnett, Frances Hodgson: The Making of a Marchioness (1901) Melvil…

Prelude for a Lord (Gentlemen Quartet #1) by Camille Elliot

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Prelude for a Lord
The Gentlemen Quartet Series
Camille Elliot
Zondervan Publishers
2014
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Official Backpage Synopsis

An awkward young woman. A haunted young man. A forbidden instrument. Can the love of music bring them together . . . or will it tear them apart?

Bath, England—1810

At twenty-eight, Alethea Sutherton is past her prime for courtship; but social mores have never been her forté. She might be a lady, but she is first and foremost a musician.

In Regency England, however, the violin is considered an inappropriate instrument for a lady. Ostracized by society for her passion, Alethea practices in secret and waits for her chance to flee to the Continent, where she can play without scandal.

But when a thief’s interest in her violin endangers her and her family, Alethea is determined to discover the enigmatic origins of her instrument . . . with the help of the dark, brooding Lord Dommick.

Scarred by war, Dommick finds solace only in playing his violin. He is persuaded to help Alethe…