Posts Tagged ‘sweet’

When Calls the Heart

November 16, 2011

Author: Janette Oke

Title: When Calls the Heart

Genre: Inspirational, Gentle Reads, Romance

Publication Date: 1983

Number of Pages: 220

Geographical Setting: Toronto, Ontario; Calgary, Alberta; Lacombe, Alberta; Pine Springs, Alberta

Time Period: Early 20th century

Series (If applicable): Canadian West series

Plot Summary:  Elizabeth Thatcher has a wonderful life in Toronto with as a school teacher living with her God-fearing, close knit family.  However, when a letter from her older half-brother living across the country in Calgary comes suggesting that Elizabeth might like to teach out West and visit with her family there, she decides to go.  Through a series of mishaps, Elizabeth ends up in a small town with a new school over a hundred miles away from her brother and his family.  Here, she must adjust to life in the small town, start a school, and live on her own for the first time.  Although she did not move across country to find a husband, and in fact had decided that she was not necessarily looking for marriage at all, her plans get turned on their head when she meets Wynn Delaney, a friend of her half-brother’s and a member of the North West Mounted Police.  Through her attraction towards Wynn, her newfound independence, and her new situation, Elizabeth grows in faith, love and confidence in this sweet novel.

Subject Headings: Canada; Toronto; Calgary; Pioneers; North West Mounted Police; Teachers; Rural Life

 Appeal: Sentimental, leisurely-paced, rural, domestic, sweet, inspirational, gentle, heartwarming, homespun, hopeful, romantic, faithful characters, series characters, folksy, details of Canadian pioneers, accessible, straightforward, unpretentious

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Sentimental, leisurely-paced, rural

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

One-Room Schools of the Middle West: An Illustrated History by Wayne E. Fuller

This title gives the history of one-room schools in the Midwest, including photographs.  Although Elizabeth Thatcher’s school is in Alberta, Canada, this book will give background on how such a school works and shows what her school could have looked like.

Forging the Prairie West  by John Herd Thompson

This title, as part of the Illustrated History of Canada series, discusses the West of Canada where Elizabeth Thatcher goes to live with her brother and his family.  This book should give background on the history of the area and what happened in the time after which Elizabeth’s story is set.

Looking North: Royal Canadian Mounted Police Illustrations: The Potlatch Collection by Karal Ann Marling

This illustrated title provides artwork featuring the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or Mounties.  In When Calls the Heart, Wynn Delaney works as a Mountie.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Christy by Catherine Marshall

This classic title tells the story of a young girl who goes into the Appalachian mountains as a missionary school teacher.  This romantic, inspirational tale does not gloss over some of the more gritty aspects of living in the area in the early 20th century.  Christy’s work with her school children, romantic interests, and Christian beliefs should interest those who enjoy When Calls the Heart.

A Place Called Bliss by Ruth Glover

This novel, which takes place in the Canadian frontier, tells the story of two women of different social classes who move to the area to start a new life with their husbands.  This book along with the rest in the series should interest those who enjoy the setting and inspirational Christian nature of Janette Oke’s Canadian West series.

Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery

This classic series should interest fans of When Calls the Heart for a variety of reasons.  A more rural Canadian setting is featured in most of these books along with a strong family life, going to class and teaching in one-room schoolhouses, and the funny, heartwarming and romantic situations that Anne Shirley finds herself in throughout the entire series.

Name: Christi H.

His Wicked Sins

October 24, 2011

Author: Eve Silver

Title: His Wicked Sins

Genre: Romance, Suspense

Publication Date: 2008

Number of Pages: 343

Geographical Setting: Yorkshire and London, England

Time Period: 19th century

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary:  When Elizabeth Canham accepts a teaching position at Burndale Academy in Yorkshire, in order to help out her impoverished family, she does not realize the kind of danger she will face.  A serial killer stalks the school, seeking women with curly blonde hair that he can bury alive, scalp, and eventually kill.  Two teachers before Beth have died and a third girl, a maid, is missing.  All seem to be connected to Griffin Fairfax, a charming widower with a reclusive child who Beth befriends.  As Beth gets pulled into Griffin’s seductive ways, and battles claustrophobia and a fear of the dark from a traumatic childhood experience, she begins to feel as though she is being watched.  Her survival, ultimately, depends on whether or not she can trust Griffin Fairfax to not be the man she fears seeks to kill her.

Subject Headings: Serial killers, Yorkshire, England, London, England, boarding school, claustrophobia, childhood trauma, romance

 Appeal: Seductive, atmospheric, fast-paced, romantic, suspenseful, sweet, familiar characters, multiple points of view, cinematic, plot twists, racy, sexually explicit, small-town, straightforward language

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Seductive, atmospheric, romantic

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper by Maxim Jakubowski

This title includes essays about 19th century London serial killer Jack the Ripper and speculations on his real identity.  Each essay is written by a different expert with a different point of view on this hundred year old mystery.

Educating Women: Schooling and Identity in England and France, 1800-1867 by Christina de Bellaique

This scholarly volume discusses the education of girls in boarding schools in both England and France during the early 1800s, and the female school teachers who taught them.

Too Scared to Cry: Psychic Trauma in Childhood by Lenore Terr

This title discusses childhood trauma and how it affects the children who experience it.  The author discusses this in the context of a 1976 abduction of a group of children and her work with them as they continued to heal from the experience.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

This classic novel tells the story of a young orphan girl as she becomes a governess, falls in love with her brooding, villainous employer, and discovers the secrets that exist in her new home.  Fans of His Wicked Sins may enjoy it due to the similarities between Jane Eyre and Elizabeth Canham and their love interests despite Bronte’s more literary style of writing.

Rules of Surrender by Christina Dodd

This historical romance features a governess who is hired by a woman who wants instruction for her grandchildren and training in manners for her son.  As expected, however, the son, Wynter Ruskin, has other ulterior motives for the governess.  Suggested for those who enjoy historical romances about teachers or governesses and their somewhat dangerous lovers.

A Kiss to Die For by Claudia Dain

This historical romance novel takes place in the American West and features a bounty hunter, Jack Scullard, on the trail of a serial killer targeting young women.  Anne Ross, a woman he meets while on the trail, disdains the idea of ever getting married even though she is being courted by the man that Jack believes to be his strongest suspect.  Suggested for those who enjoy romances where the female lead is being stalked by a serial killer.

Name: Christi H.

The Easy Hour

August 3, 2011

Author: Leslie Stella

Title: The Easy Hour

Genre: Women’s Lives and Relationships

Publication Date: 2003

Number of Pages: 265

Geographical Setting: Chicago

Time Period: Present day

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: Southside born and raised Lisa Galisa (it rhymes!) sells sportswear at Chicago’s Fishman’s Department Store, her retail existence barely more ambitious than dreams of earning the coveted brown senior salesperson name tag and portraying Maria Callas as part of a storewide Greek Islands marketing theme. When Lisa helps her friend Fred launch a popular retro-themed club night—the Easy Hour—in a local Bridgeport tavern, her path crosses that of infamous socialite Honey Dietrich, and before long she is taking memos as her personal assistant. Soon Lisa—when not confiding in gay best friend Tim Gideon—is spending her time planning an Easy Christmas party for Chicago’s elite, and falling in love with Ray Fuchet (also rhymes!), laid-off schoolteacher/part-time Fishman’s janitor and Aristotle Onassis to her Callas. Has Lisa finally come into her own? Can she bring her Easy style to high society Chicago? Stella’s second novel is a witty, sharp story of one girl’s chance to climb a little higher, albeit with her offbeat family and friends in tow. Readers who enjoy a lively, clever, light-hearted story with humorous female characters, a little bit of  fashion and more than a little irony should take note.

Subject Headings: Women’s clothing industry; Chicago—Fiction; Retail trade; Love stories; Women—Humor—Fiction

Appeal:  Humorous, intelligent, light-hearted, offbeat characters, Chicago setting, romantic, sarcastic, sweet, pop-culture references, sarcastic, hipster culture, brisk pace, witty, family issues

3 terms that best describe this book: Witty, intelligent, offbeat characters

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Wacky Chicks: Life Lessons from Fearlessly Inappropriate and Fabulously Eccentric Women, by Simon Doonan (eccentric female characters, humor)

Groovy Chick’s Guide to Shopping and Style, by Bang on the Door (fashion, hipster culture, humor)

Pretty in Plaid: A Life, A Witch, and a Wardrobe, or, the Wonder Years Before the Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smart-Ass Phase, by Jen Lancaster (sassy humor, fashion, feminine perspective)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Night I Got Lucky, by Laura Caldwell (offbeat characters, romantic tone, strong female lead character)

The Bitch-Proof Suit, by Dee-ann Black (fashion, women’s humor, lead character faces personal challenges in business and relationships)

Cat’s Meow, by Melissa De la Cruz (quirky female character, romantic tone, fashion humor)


Fudge Cupcake Murder

June 7, 2010

Fudge Cupcake Murder bookcover

Author: Joanne Fluke

Title: Fudge Cupcake Murder

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Publication Date: 2004

Number of Pages: 305

Geographical Setting: Lake Eden, Minnesota

Time Period: Current

Series: 5th in the Hannah Swensen Mystery Series

Plot Summary: Bakery owner and amateur sleuth Hannah Swensen is back for her fifth installment with some puzzles to solve. On her to do list: Get pet cat Moshie to swallow vitamins and/or tolerate senior kitty food, discover the secret ingredient in the late Mrs. Keoster’s fudge cupcakes, and negotiate her torn love life amongst the prying eyes of her judgmental mother and very pregnant sister, not to mention the rest of the small-town. Things in Lake Eden are running as smoothly as can be expected with the election for town sheriff approaching. Hannah’s brother-in-law, Bill, is favored to win against incumbent Sheriff Grant. That is, until Hannah discovers the body of Sheriff Grant in a dumpster behind the high school where she is teaching her cooking class. Bill is named the prime suspect in the investigation, but it turns out that Sheriff Grant had a long list of enemies. In order to clear her brother in law’s name Hannah must prove his innocence and find the real killer!

Subject Headings: Women detectives, Police, Murder, Hannah, Bakeries, Minnesota, Culinary mystery stories, Cozy mystery stories, Gentle Reads

Appeal: Lighthearted, domestic, sweet, recipes included, descriptive, tasty, quirky characters, homey, intimate, cozy, quick-read, series

3 Terms That Best Describe This Book: light, small-town, culinary mystery

Titles in the Series:

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder (2000)

Strawberry Shortcake Murder (2001)

Blueberry Muffin Murder (2002)

Lemon Meringue Pie Murder (2003)

Fudge Cupcake Murder (2004)

Sugar Cookie Murder (2004)

Peach Cobbler Murder (2005)

Cherry Cheesecake Murder (2006)

Key Lime Pie Murder (2007)

Similar Authors and Works:


  • Dewey: The Small-town Library Cat who Touched the World by Vicki Myron

This book traces the author’s discovery of a half-frozen kitten in the drop-box of her small community Iowa library, and the feline’s development into an affable library mascot whose intuitive nature prompted hundreds of abiding friendships.

Similarities: small town life, cat-lovers

  • Talking with my Mouth Full: Crab Cakes, Bundt Cakes and Other Kitchen Stories by Bonny Wolf

The food commentator for NPR’s “Weekend Edition Sunday” journeys into the heartland of America to discuss those foods that we eat for holidays, family gatherings, comfort, and other occasions, with essays on great regional specialties and more than seventy recipes for such classic foods as popovers, Southwestern chili, shepherd’s pie, Irish raisin soda bread, and chicken la king.

Similarities: quintessentially American, lighthearted, food oriented

  • The lost night: a daughter’s search for the truth of her father’s murder by Rachel Howard

The bizarre small town murder of Stan Howard was never solved. Author Rachel coped by keeping silent and trying to pretend the murder had never happened. Now seventeen years later, she attempts to uncover what happened by reconnecting with her father’s family. Rachel sorts through their memories of his death and presses the less-than-helpful detectives, and seeks her former stepmother and stepbrother, neither of whom she has seen since her father’s funeral.

Similarities: small town murder mystery, female protagonist, family themes.


  • Chocolate Dipped Death by Sammi Carter

Candy shop owner Abby must use her sleuthing skills to solve the murder of a local girl turned millionaire trophy wife that occurred on the eve of the Tenth Annual Confectionery Competition

Similarities: Small town, confectioner turned amateur sleuth, recipes included

  • A Catered Halloween: A Mystery with Recipes by Isis Cawford

“Hired to cater a charity haunted house at the old Peabody School, sisters Bernadette and Libby Simmons find murder on the menu when the death of wealthy socialite Amethyst Applegate could hold the key to solving the decades-old “accidental” death of a young girl.” (Novelist 2008)

Similarities: small-town, cozy culinary mystery with, sister relationship and Halloween season recipes.

  • The Chocolate Cupid Killings: a Chocoholic Mystery by JoAnna Carl

“Chocolatier Lee and her Aunt Nettie are suspected of involvement in the murder of private detective Derrick Valentine while trying to keep secret the identity of one of their employees.”  (Novelist 2009)

Similarities: cozy culinary mystery set in a small town, murder investigation revolving around a sweet shop, law enforcement officer murdered, and female detectives

Name: Amy

Joy School

June 15, 2009

Joy School
Author: Elizabeth Berg
Title: Joy School
Genre: Women’s Lives and Relationships
Publication Date: 1997
Number of Pages: 208p
Geographical Setting: Missouri
Time Period: Late 1950s/Early 1960s
Series (If applicable): The Katie Nash Series

Plot Summary:
Katie Nash is a 13-year-old “army brat”.  Her mother recently passed away, and her father has moved her from Texas to Missouri.  Katie is left to fend for herself in a new school with new neighbors in a new town.  Her best friend’s letters are getting shorter and shorter, and Katie is not so sure about her new friends.  While ice skating one day, she falls through the ice and eventually makes her way into a nearby gas station to Jimmy (who looks just like Superman and saves her life.)  Told from Katie’s point of view, this book covers a lot of ground in the 13 year old’s life from scary new friendships, the bad girls at school, how love is supposed to feel, and what it has been like growing up without a mother.  Katie is precocious, careful and full of questions that she has to answer for herself.

Subject Headings: First Loves, Adolescence, Loss of Mother, Father and Daughter Relationships, Coming of Age Story

Appeal: Character driven, heartfelt, measured, heartbreaking, honest, awkward, giddy, funny, introspective, reminiscent, nostalgic, sweet, memorable.

3 terms that best describe this book:
Internal, passionately youthful, reflective

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:
Still Here With Me:  Teenagers and Children on Losing a Parent by Suzanne Sjoqvist and Margaret Myers (children and teens express their own feelings of loss)
Vintage Fashions for Women: the 1950s & 60s (photos and patterns for A-Line Skirts and Peter Pan collar blouses that Katie and Taylor Sinn love)
Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul on Tough Stuff: Stories of Tough Times and Lessons
Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Kimberly Kirberger (Teens sharing stories about difficult life situations)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:
Object Lessons by Anna Quindlen (12 year old’s perspective of family life)
Offsides: A Novel by Kerry Madden-Lunsford (Coming of age story of a girl who moves to a new town with her father)
The Usual Rules by Joyce Manard (a young girl moves in with her father after the loss of her mother)

Katy A. Hite