Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday for February 9, 2016!!

Today's Top Ten Tuesday has no set topic for this week except 
something related to Valentine's Day. 
I have chosen to list some of the authors I LOVE and their publications 
which I have not reviewed on this blog yet.
And you might ask, why have I not done so?
Simple really...most of these I read prior to establishment of Smoke & Mirrors, 
and I am so enthralled with reading 'new-to-me' books that I allow 
very little time for re-reading!
Hopefully I will have reviews for at least some of these posted here in the future... :)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.
Although this is hosted weekly, I participate only when I have the time
and am extremely interested by the posting topic!

mixing coverjoy coverI was fortunate to meet Erica while in Seattle, Washington, almost two years ago. I only knew of this event because I had emailed her, asking what literary events might be scheduled while I was visiting the area, and she enthusiastically recommended I attend Carol Cassella's Gemini book release party scheduled at The Elliott Bay Book Company. You might be asking how I knew Erica... The Borders Book Club I facilitate read her debut novel, The School of Essential Ingredients and the sequel, The Lost Art of Mixing, and she graciously spoke with us during our discussions of each book. Erica is a wonderfully kind and engaging person who is quite gracious. Since I had the opportunity that same evening to also meet Garth Stein, Stephanie (Stevie!) Kallos, Jennie Shortridge, Carol Cassella, and others, I was thrilled beyond belief! Needless to say, I put all these authors busy signing books in the aftermath of the official party! (I entered this event with a huge bag stuffed full of books, all of which I hoped to have signed by the author, and tried to discreetly hide it under my chair...) I had multiple copies of some books to gift to each of my book club members, as well as my own copies I had hauled with me to be signed. Each of these people were so very kind and understanding! They were genuinely thrilled to stop and talk with me a few minutes as they signed whatever I asked them to sign! You cannot ask for better than that! And it was so very much fun to just talk with each of them about their books and writing. I also read and truly enjoyed Erica's other book, Joy for Beginners! The School of Essential Ingredients was one of the few books I literally recommended to any customer when I worked at Borders. I never once had anyone say they didn't love it! 
joy cover
The Art of Racing in the Rain
Raven Stole the MoonA Sudden LightThe Art of Racing in the Rain...ah...Enzo! This is another of my favorite reads ever AND another that I relentlessly recommended to Borders customers! [Okay, and my friends, coworkers, basically anybody and everybody I run into! :)] Honestly, you just need to read it. It is such a rewarding experience. Though you probably need to be warned that you may very well shed a few tears. The second book authored by Stein that I have read is A Sudden Light. This book...how can I possibly describe it? It is still so vivid in my memory over the past year and a half! That definitely is a statement for the story and writing! Stein tackles so many issues in this book: deforestation, ecological sustainability, greed, non-heterosexuality, sibling obsession, and yet is so subtly demonstrative as to leave the reader breathless from this reading experience. You even get some history of the northwest! I have yet to try reading Raven Stole the Moon for no reason other than I think it may be too scary for me. However, I have read a few books in the recent past that I thought might be too scary and have been okay with them, so I really should give this one a try. There is just something about Stein's writing that resonates for me...beyond the written words. When I met him I was so impressed with his enthusiasm and obvious enjoyment of life...and have decided that it is those qualities that come through to me in reading his work. And I'm sure How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets is also a great read. (Admittedly, I always assumed this was a short story collection until just now when I took a minute to actually read the synopsis and now realize it is a novel.) So there are two more on my TBR list from a man I doubt will ever let me down as an author or a human being!
Image result for garth stein enzo cover imageHow Evan Broke His Head and Other SecretsOne of the most fun parts of meeting Garth Stein? Listening to his enthusiasm about his newest project and upcoming release...a children's picture book starring Enzo! Of course, I had to check it out at Christmas that year for my grandkids, and now I see that this past Christmas, there was the release of another Enzo picture book with a Christmas theme. Although I'm behind, I'll have to make a note to get that one for the grandchildren, too! You don't have to wonder about his energy level, his enthusiasm is palpable! I can only imagine that working this this man is both energizing AND exhilarating! Meeting him was so much fun!

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Enzo and the Christmas Tree Hunt, by Garth Stein

3) Jacqueline Sheehan

While working at Borders I was obsessed with the cover image for Lost & Found (Rocky Pelligrino #1). I knew I had to read this book after reading the synopsis. And I was correct! I loved it! As well as the others she has written! Since I buzzed right through Now & Then and Picture This (Rocky Pelligrino #2) as well! What is it exactly that resonates so well with me about Sheehan's writing? Undoubtedly, besides the canines included in these stories, it is the acceptance, respect, retribution, kindness, and compassion her characters demonstrate and explore. I have mentioned before that characterization is of utmost importance to me in reading. While I appreciate a compelling story line and a plot that moves along, I want to truly connect with the characters and ideally, feel as if I am right there living their story with them. Sheehan definitely does this for me in so very many ways! I am anxious to read her newest release, The Center of the World, which looks as if it may be a bit of a departure from her previous novels. I'm always excited when a favorite author forges ahead into relatively new storytelling territory! Then in the process of researching Sheehan I discovered The Comet's Tale, a historical fiction novel about Sojourner Truth! I can't imagine it isn't also amazing!

4) Gil McNeil
Needles and Pearls
The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club (Jo Mackenzie, #1)I love her Jo Mackenzie series: The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club, 
Knit One Pearl One (Jo Mackenzie, #3)A Good Year for the Roses: A NovelNeedles and Pearls, and Knit One Pearl One. I adore Jo and all the characters in this little seaside town! Jo's 'self-talk' is so entertaining! I would like to think that was how I defused my own frustrations with my children when they were small. (It probably wasn't. I was probably a screaming lunatic more than not!) While certainly poignant, these books always make me chuckle and laugh--much good humor! I love being inside Jo's head! She is a very realistic yet caring, loving, and kind parent! And the 'budding' romance between herself and Martin is hysterical! Pearl's birthing scene had me laughing out loud! I am anxious to read her newest release, A Good Year for the Roses which sounds just as heartwarming as the three Jo Mackenzie books were! She has other books that I have also included on my TBR list! 
5) Anthony Eglin
The English Garden/Lawrence Kingston mystery series: The Blue Rose, The Lost Gardens, The Water Lily Cross, The Trail of the Wild Rose, Garden of Secrets Past, The Alcatraz Rose: A Lawrence Kingston Mystery. Eglin includes much botany with each installment as Kingston finds the killer(s) every time! Sometimes he's almost the next victim! And these covers! Isn't it imperative to own these books for these gorgeous flowers, at the very least? :)

6) Kate Jacobs
Image result for comfort food jacobs cover imageImage result for friday night knitting club cover imageAh, Kate's Friday Night Knitting Club series! The Borders Book Club read every single one of these three books and loved them all! Any time Ms. Jacobs wants to write more of these books, we'll be happy to read them! :) This series contains three installments: The Friday Night Knitting Club, Knit Two, and Knit the Season. She also published a stand-alone, Comfort Food, which I really enjoyed, though I truly believe the magic contained in the three Friday Night Knitting club installments may be one-of-a-kind unable of being reproduced. Those books spoiled me! 

7) Spencer Quinn
Peter Abrahams writes the Chet and Bernie Mystery series under the pen name of Spencer Quinn. It is a delightful series. Each book includes much of Chet's internal monologues as well as Bernie's! This series includes Dog On It, Thereby Hangs a Tail, To Fetch a Thief, The Dog Who Knew Too Much, A Fistful of Dollars, The Sound and the Furry, Paw and Order, Scents and Sensibility. I have even read 2 of the 3 e-short stories Quinn/Abrahams has released in this series: A Cat Was Involved, Tail of Vengeance, Santa 365: A Chet and Bernie Mystery eShort Story (Which I read but neglected to post a review for it on Goodreads.), and The Iggy Chronicles, Volume 1. You know I adore this series, 'cause I do not like reading ebooks. Though I admit short stories are easier... I have some catching up to do with this series and I see he has launched a new series recently, Woof, the first installment of the Bowser and Birdie series! I'll definitely give this one a read, too! 
Image result for woof spencer quinn cover image

Image result for woof spencer quinn cover image

8) Terri Dulong's Cedar Key series: Spinning Forward, Casting About, Sunrise on Cedar Key, Postcards from Cedar Key, Secrets on Cedar Key, Farewell to Cedar Key. It has been a while since I read the first two books and I really need to catch up and read the others! I"m fairly certain I own them all...so no excuses, right?!? :) I remember the poignancy and humanity with which DuLong imbues her characters and the plot. I typically read for characterization and this woman provides that! In spades! 
Image result for terri dulong patterns of change cover imageImage result for terri dulong sunrise on cedar key cover imageImage result for terri dulong casting about cover image

Image result for terri dulong farewell to cedar key cover imageImage result for terri dulong postcards from cedar key cover imageImage result for terri dulong secrets on cedar key cover image
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And last year she started the Ormond Beach series with Patterns of Change as the first installment! I can't imagine that I won't enjoy this series just as much!

9 & 10 & 11) (maybe 12? lol) Alexander McCall Smith
This man is one of the most prolific authors! And I'm so glad! I absolutely adore three of his series, the first is, perhaps, his best known...The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. I'll only post a few of the cover images for this series that now has 16 installments! though I own them, I have yet to read the last four! These are just very simple yet charming mysteries and stories. Perhaps what I like best is that I feel as if I am there in Botswana while reading them! We are reading the first installment of this series for the Borders Book Club later this month, so perhaps I'll get to these last four! 

The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon (No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, #14)The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency  (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #1)The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #13)

La's Orchestra Saves the WorldThe Handsome Man's Deluxe Café (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, #15)The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #16)

McCall Smith also has some stand-alones, one of which is La's Orchestra Saves the World which I felt to be quite a unique and heartfelt read. 
I also love the Isabel Dalhousie series which begins with The Sunday Philosophy Club. I described this first installment as "sublime and serene" and I would agree. I love Isabel and her story! I am really behind in this series, though I own them all except these last two!

The Novel Habits of Happiness (Isabel Dalhousie, #10)The Sunday Philosophy Club (Sunday Philosophy Club, #1)The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds (Isabel Dalhousie, #9)

The third series that I have read and adored is Corduroy Mansions. I read the first book in this series before I was ever on Goodreads and have yet to review it on there. (Typically I always review anything I've read on Goodreads, as it is my ultimate reference for books read!) How can you resist that sweet little "dogger" as my good friend Katie says? :)
A Conspiracy of Friends: A Corduroy Mansions Novel (Corduroy Mansions, #3)Corduroy Mansions The Dog Who Came in from the Cold: A Corduroy Mansions Novel

I now own several of the books in McCall Smith's 44 Scotland Street series. I'm anxious to see what I think of this series, too!
Love Over Scotland (44 Scotland Street, #3)44 Scotland Street (44 Scotland Street #1)Espresso Tales (44 Scotland Street, #2)

I actually read the first three installments of his Portuguese Irregular Verbs series while working at Borders and was not overly-impressed. These books were just a bit too dry for me, though I adore the covers and titles! :)

At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances (Portuguese Irregular Verbs, #3)Portuguese Irregular Verbs (Portuguese Irregular Verbs #1)The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs (Portuguese Irregular Verbs, #2)

I also own several more stand-alones: Emma, Trains and Lovers, The Forever Girl.
The Forever GirlEmmaTrains and Lovers

Although I have discovered the one series that did not impress, I'm relatively certain that anything else McCall Smith writes will satisfy my reading pleasures!

Who are your favorite authors? 
Do you have a favorite series? 
Have you read any of these? 


  1. I love Alexander McCall Smith's books. I particularly like the Scotland Street series and the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. He's such a warm-hearted writer.

    1. Ooohhh...good to know about the Scotland Street series! I think I could just take a few weeks and read them all! (Except the Portuguese series! :)) His writing is so easily accessible and readable--pure joy! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. So many books, Lynn! I'm going to comment on Garth Stein's books, because I loved The Art of Racing in the Rain. Can any of his other books possibly measure up? You might have convinced me on A Sudden Light!

    1. A Sudden Light is quite different from The Art of Racing in the Rain, but it is powerful. It is rather intense and I think you would really like it. It certainly has stayed with me over the past year...