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With so many fantastic genres and authors, how can one person choose the perfect book to match their specific tastes and moods? Here we are happy to help, providing novel descriptions and firsthand reviews on many new and classics along with must reads for any book lover, young and old!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Harlequin Celebrates 60 Years!

While this is not our customary review post, we came across some great finds and had to share! This year, Harlequin is celebrating 60 years of great romance publishing. As a ‘Thank you’ to readers they are offering 16 … yes, we said it, 16 … of their incredible stories for FREE as eBooks!

If you have never read an eBook, do not be alarmed! As long as you possess a computer you can receive a book … no need for those fancy electronic reading devices (Kindle, etc). Just decide upon a book and download directly to PC (as long it runs Adobe, eReader (free download online), MS Reader or ePub). We have provided the direct link to these free downloads, and while you are at it, check out the various other novels for sale on the site. Harlequin not only has 'Freebie Fridays' with a free eBook download every week, but their prices cannot be matched!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Water for Elephants: A Novel by Sara Gruen

Book Description

As a young man, Jacob Jankowski was tossed by Fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. It was the early part of the great Depression, and for Jacob, now ninety or ninety-three, the circus world he remembers was both his salvation and a living hell. A veterinary student just shy of a degree, he was put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It was there that he met Marlena, the beautiful equestrian star married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. And he met Rosie, an un-trainable elephant who was the great hope for this third-rate traveling show. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and, ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.

Fine Printings’ Review

This book came to us as a recommended read from several sources. Once selected, we could not possibly put it down. The author, Sara Gruen, builds the detailed and fantastic world of a travelling circus during the Great Depression from the ground up! The story of Jacob Jankowski is one of sorrow, love and at times terrifying. His constant emotional struggles can be related to by many readers (though perhaps not as fantastical) and will captivate the imagination. The other characters Gruen constructed are perhaps the most remarkable outside of young Jacob, as with any circus, they all act their parts accordingly … with flawless precision.

One does not need to be a circus aficionado or historical reader to take pleasure in this novel, for it contains a little of everything to captivate any bookworm. We guarantee you will not be able to put this one down!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Music Selection for November 2009

Once a month we wander off the beaten track and explore the world of music and its varying artists. Akin to many other readers, we enjoy a little background music to soften the mood. Nothing is better than swimming in the depths of tranquil waters, lost in a captivating story with soft music cocooning you. Believe us when we say, this relaxes both the body and soul after a long day with the kids or at work!

This month’s musical enjoyment is from the soundtrack Classical Music for Reading (a given, right?). Thoroughly enjoyable, this CD focuses on soft melodies with a collection of famous compositions at the ready. Enjoy the best of Mozart, Rachmaninov, Beetoven along with many others. The only downfall to this music collection is it not being quite long enough, however we are sure readers will have no qualms setting it on a loop and losing themselves in this classical ensemble.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

Book Description

A spellbinding epic set in twelfth-century England, The Pillars of the Earth tells the story of Philip, prior of Kingsbridge, a devout and resourceful monk driven to build the greatest cathedral the world has known ... of Tom, the mason who becomes his architect-a man divided in his soul ... of the beautiful, elusive Lady Aliena, haunted by a secret shame ... and of a struggle between good and evil that will turn church against state, and brother against brother.

Fine Printings’ Review

As promised, The Pillars of the Earth was spellbinding, enchanting, engrossing along with any other similar adjective one can think. At over a thousand pages, a reader may be apprehensive about picking it up; however, there is no other way Ken Follett could have told the tale without selling the reader short. Perhaps you are questioning our sanity. A novel about the construction of a cathedral, how could that be entertaining? To put it plainly … in medieval England … how could it not be?

On the other hand, this is not a story for the faint of heart. Even though centered around the forty-year construction of a church, Follett brazenly (and brilliantly) encompasses the plot with murder, lust, back-stabbing, politics, grief, rape, and a long held secret. These characters are easy to love, hate, and laugh with. Families are formed; enemies are made … but as always, good conquers all. A superior read and favorite among ours and as Follett fans, we look forward to seeing more.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Book Description

Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out of work actor on Earth. Together this dynamic pair begin their journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitch Hiker's Guide "A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have" and a galaxy full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out to lunch President of the Galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod's girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan); and Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant and constantly depressed robot. Join these five eccentric individuals on the most hilarious and philosophical ride of their lives … and yours.

Fine Printings’ Review

We were reluctant when this book was suggested due to the sci-fi comical nature that coincides with Douglas Adam’s work. However, overriding our doubts, the following he has received from this work gained our interest and we could not help ourselves to trying out a few chapters. No more than two pages into the story, we were hooked. The author’s uproarious contempt towards the human race (though harmless and playful), the main character Arthur’s naivety toward the ways of the Galaxy immediately peek curiosity and his poetic writing induces an intellectual comic fodder. Rolling on the floor, holding our stomachs, and laughter induced convulsing was consistent throughout the entire storyline. There is no wonder why this tale has a dedicated cult following, and will always continue so. Ahead of his time, and not nearly respected enough for his philosophical writing while alive, Douglas Adams is perhaps one of the greatest writers to have ever lived. We certainly look forward to finishing this series, as well as introducing ourselves to the rest of his novels. A book for ALL ages, please add it to your “must read before I die” list. Furthermore, if you have already indulged in the series, be sure to look out for Eoin Colfer’s And Another Thing, the newest addition to the Hitchhiker family.

Also, for all you Galaxy Hitchhikers … just remember everything is going to be OK, as long as you know where your towel is. And for goodness sake:


Friday, November 6, 2009

The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz

Book Description

Who will be with you in the darkest hour? Amy Redwing has devoted her life to rescuing dogs. But the unique bond she shares with Nickie, a golden retriever she saves in the most dangerous encounter of her life, is deeper than any she has ever known. In one night, their loyalty will be put to the test, and each will prove to the other how far they will go -- when the stakes turn deadly serious.

Fine Printings' Review

This novel left us feeling lost throughout the story. The relationship formed between Amy and the golden retriever, Nickie is endearing and the action is heart racing. However, the associations shaped during the tale seem to be clumsily connected ... easily broken, which left us wanting a little more out of the story. Furthermore, the style in which the book was written is confusing since the author consistently jumped from character to character. Though countless writers can get away with this style of storytelling, it can only be truly successful with a limited cast. In The Darkest Evening of the Year a multitude of characters are portrayed along with their own train of thoughts and this seems to take away from appreciating the actual plot when attempting to deduce which character was now being presented. In the end, we found ourselves sorely disappointed …

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sphere by Michael Crichton

Book Description

Within a space ship lying at the bottom of the sea, a mysterious sphere promises each of the main characters some personal reward: military might, professional prestige, power, and understanding. Trapped underwater with the sphere, the humans confront eerie and increasingly dangerous threats after communication with the alien object has been achieved. The story is exciting and loaded with scientific and psychological speculations that add interest at no cost to the action, including an intriguing sequence in which human and computer attempt to decode the alien communication. As the story races to an end, suspicions of evil-doing fall as many ways as in a detective novel.

Fine Printings’ Review

A scientific thriller packed with plot twists galore that would keep you guessing the whole way through. Crichton shows his understanding of human nature with a diverse cast of characters whom all show expertise within technical fields. As always he keeps the techno jargon just out of reach of those without PhD’s, however not allowing the reader to feel dumb. We enjoyed this novel immensely as a challenging, philosophical and sexy work of fiction.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Book Description

“My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.” So begins the story of Susie Salmon, who is adjusting to her new home in heaven, a place that is not at all what she expected, even as she is watching life on earth continue without her – her friends trading rumors about her disappearance, her killer trying to cover his tracks, her grief-stricken family unraveling.

Fine Printings’ Review

This is a powerful novel by Alice Sebold that captivates from the very beginning. Susie’s story unfolds darkly however, somehow, manages to end vibrantly. Horror, mystery, love, vengeance and powerful friendships abound in this novel that will both grieve and cheer you to your very soul. Definitely sit down, grab this book and hold on for a powerful emotional rollercoaster!

Soon to be a major motion picture!

The Darkest Fire by Gena Showalter

Book Description

He is the guardian of hell, more monster than man. She is the goddess of oppression, more angel than woman. Together they will enter the flames to battle a dangerous horde of demon lords — and discover a passion unlike any other….

Fine Printings' Review

Written by award winning author, Gena Showalter, this story is not one of her sexiest or captivating though it does prepare the reader for the tantalizing series that follows. Due to the size of the story, the reader may find it hard to form a bond with the characters within. Though, it is an appropriate prequel, which makes it a “have to read” before delving into the fascinating world of the Lords of the Underworld. Currently this novella is available only as an eBook from the author.

Darkest Fire eBook link

Monday, November 2, 2009

Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning

Book Description

MacKayla Lane’s life is good. She has great friends, a decent job, and a car that breaks down only every other week or so. In other words, she’s your perfectly ordinary twenty-first-century woman. Or so she thinks…until something extraordinary happens.

When her sister is murdered, leaving a single clue to her death–a cryptic message on Mac’s cell phone–Mac journeys to Ireland in search of answers. The quest to find her sister’s killer draws her into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems, where good and evil wear the same treacherously seductive mask. She is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to learn how to handle a power she had no idea she possessed–a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae….

As Mac delves deeper into the mystery of her sister’s death, her every move is shadowed by the dark, mysterious Jericho, a man with no past and only mockery for a future. As she begins to close in on the truth, the ruthless V’lane–an alpha Fae who makes sex an addiction for human women–closes in on her. And as the boundary between worlds begins to crumble, Mac’s true mission becomes clear: find the elusive Sinsar Dubh before someone else claims the all-powerful Dark Book–because whoever gets to it first holds nothing less than complete control of the very fabric of both worlds in their hands. . . .

Fine Printings' Review

Could not put this book down for a minute! Karen Marie Moning has magic in her fingertips and once again proves her skill in reader captivation with the first book of this five book series. The perfect mix of revenge, shock, passion and discovery sets this book apart from other paranormals out there today. Her first book written in the first person paradigm, she weaves Mac’s world and throws her from fanciful, carefree southern bell into the dangerous Dublin streets teeming with Tuatha de Dananns, Seelie and Unseelie alike.

If you have read her previous books in the Highlander Series, some of this first book may seem a bit repetitive as Mac learns about the world between man and Fae, but fear not, for you Moning fans a new cast (and some old ones) enter to form fascinating relationships that will not let you down!

(The author is offering this book for free in ebook format; you can follow the link provided to download this exciting book!)

Download Darkfever for free!

The Top Classic Fine Printings

Take a look at our top 25 classic books, that are a MUST read for anyone who enjoys a good book; because, let’s face it ... you cannot fully appreciate today's writing if you couldn't love those who began it all!

1. Silence by Sarah Roche-Mahdi

Silence, translated by Sarah Roche-Mahdi, is a story of a girl who is raised as a boy. She argues that the character, Silence, is caught in the conflict of nature versus nurture as it applies to gender roles while her father, Cador, is caught in the battle between acceptance of the social reality and the possibility of change.

2. The Nibelungenlied by Author Unknown

Written by an unknown author in the twelfth century, this influential tale of murder and revenge reaches back to the earliest epochs of German ancient times. Siegfried, a great prince of the Netherlands, wins the hand of the beautiful princess Kriemhild of Burgundy, by aiding her brother Gunther in his struggle to seduce a powerful Icelandic Queen. But the two women fight, and Siegfried is ultimately destroyed by those he trusts the most. Similar to the Iliad, this expertly crafted tale combines the remains of half forgotten myths to create one of the greatest epic poems.

3. War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

The night after a shooting star is seen streaking through the sky from Mars, a cylinder is discovered on Horsell Common in London. Na├»ve locals approach the cylinder armed just with a white flag—only to be quickly killed by an all-destroying heat ray, as terrifying tentacled invaders emerge. Soon the whole of human civilization is under threat as powerful Martians build gigantic killing machines, destroying all life in their path with black gas and burning ray. The forces of Earth, however, may prove harder to beat than they appear.

4. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Set in the harsh Puritan community of seventeenth-century Massachusetts, this tale of an adulterous entanglement resulting in an illegitimate birth engendered the first true heroine of American fiction.

5. Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell

Hidden away in the Record Department of the sprawling Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith skilfully rewrites the past to suit the needs of his Party. Though he inwardly rebels against the totalitarian world he lives in, which demands absolute obedience and controls him through the all-seeing telescreens and the watchful eye of Big Brother, the symbolic head of the Party. In his longing for truth and liberty, Smith begins a secret love affair with a fellow worker Julia, but then discovers the true price of freedom … is betrayal.

6. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

Ethan Frome and Zeena marry after she nurses his mother in her last illness back to health. Although Frome seems ambitious and intelligent, Zeena holds him back. When her cousin Mattie comes to stay on their New England farm, Frome falls in love with her. But the social conventions of the day doom their love and hopes.

7. Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

Sit back and wade past tense introductions in A Study in Scarlet and move forward into classic tales like The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Adventure of the Speckled Band, and The Final Problem, the reader is sure to draw their own conclusions about Holmes's veiled past and his odd relationship with "Boswell" Watson.

8. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

This novel details the two days in the life of 16-year-old Holden Caulfield after he has been expelled from prep school. Confused and disillusioned, he searches for truth and rails against the "phoniness" of the adult world. He ends up exhausted and emotionally ill, in a psychiatrist's office.

9. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig

Phaedrus, the narrator, takes a present tense cross-country motorcycle trip with his son during which the maintenance of their motorcycle becomes an illustration of how we can unify the cold, rational land of technology with the warm, imaginative land of artistry. Just like with Zen, the trick is to become one with the activity and engage in it fully, in order to see and appreciate all details, whether it be hiking in the woods, writing a novel, or tightening the chain of a motorcycle.

10. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Set in the small Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the Depression, this novel follows three years in the life of 8-year-old Scout Finch, her brother, Jem, and their father, Atticus--three years punctuated by the arrest and eventual trial of a young black man accused of raping a white woman.

11. The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler

For three years, ever since his father died, Charles has been loitering around the family's crumbling seaside estate near Dublin, drinking and watching old movies. His sister, Bel, and everyone else, view him as a shiftless drunkard, and Charles's own narration leaves little doubt whose judgment is more correct. Then the reappearance of Charles's mother, (who's been away at a clinic for alcoholics and is now determined to change the rest of the family) means that his allowance is immediately cut off and he's required to get a job. This obviously proves to be very difficult, since Charles has never labored a day in his life. Meanwhile, the family's Bosnian housekeeper smuggles her grown-up children into the country, and Bel starts a theater company with the housekeeper's beautiful daughter, Mirela, who's much too clever for infatuated Charles.

12. The Strenuous Life by Theodore Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt carefully crafted an image of himself as a self-made man. Though he had a big head start in coming from one of New York's wealthiest and best-connected families. More than just shaping his body to overcome weakness, his spirit to overcome fear, he had to overcome the prejudices of his time and class in order to be truly fit for leadership, and even as President he fought with a few contradictions. He was not always successful, but emerged in the end as a great champion of civil rights and of the middle and working classes, very much ahead of his time.

13. All Quiet On The Western Front by Erich Maria Remarq

This war novel is actually an anti-war novel, following the lives and losses of a young group of soldiers caught in the brutality of World War I. Mesmerizing, realistic, and intense with a vision not consistent with post-war Germany, this book caused Remarque to receive death threats and have to leave Germany to live and work in Hollywood.

14. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Following the downfall of bloodthirsty buccaneer Captain Flint, young Jim Hawkins finds himself with the key to a fortune. He has discovered a map that will lead him to the legendary Treasure Island. But a mass of villains, wild animals and deadly savages stand between him and the store of gold. Not to mention the most infamous pirate ever to sail the high seas.

15. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

"Community, Identity, Stability" is the motto of the utopian World State. Here everyone consumes daily grams of “soma”, to fight depression, babies are born in laboratories, and the most popular form of entertainment is "Feelie," a movie that stimulates the senses of sight, hearing, and touch. Though there is no violence and everyone is provided for, Bernard Marx feels something is missing and senses his relationship with a woman has the possibility to be much more than the limitations of their way of life allows.

16. Moby Dick by Herman Melville

This is a story told by sailor Ishmael, and his voyage on the whaling ship Pequod. The ship is commanded by Captain Ahab and Ishmael soon learns that Ahab does not mean to use the Pequod and its crew to hunt whales for market trade, as whaling ships generally do. Ahab looks for one specific whale, Moby Dick, a great white whale of remarkable size and strength. In a prior encounter, Moby Dick destroyed Ahab's ship and resulted in the loss of one of Ahab’s legs. Ahab now intends to exact revenge on the whale.

17. The Art of War by Sun Tzu

The Art of War was compiled more than two and a half thousand years ago by a mysterious warrior/philosopher, Sun Tzu. This book is still considered the most influential book of strategy in the world, studied by modern politicians, executives, and military leaders. The book is rumored to have possibly influenced Napoleon, and even the planning of Operation Desert Storm. Many current influential leaders have also claimed to have drawn inspiration from the work.

18. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

This is a classic tale about a group of English schoolboys who are plane-wrecked on a deserted island. At first, the stranded boys cooperate, attempting to gather food, make shelters, and maintain signal fires; though the situation soon deteriorates as the trappings of civilization continue to fall away. Golding's gripping novel explores the boundary between human reason and animal instinct, all on the brutal playing field of adolescent competition.

19. Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss

While sailing to Port Jackson in Australia a family is shipwrecked in the East Indies. The family finds themselves stranded on a deserted island, and has to learn to live off the land. There are many dangers and conflicts the family must learn to overcome in order to survive.

20. Call of the Wild by Jack London

Call of the Wild follows a previously domesticated and even somewhat pampered dog named Buck, whose primal instincts return after a series of events finds him serving as a sled dog in the treacherous, cold Yukon during the days of the 19th-century Klondike Gold Rushes in which sled dogs were bought at generous prices.

21. White Fang by Jack London

During the Gold Rush days, prowling canine killers hunt in packs and search for their next victim. Sadistic dog trainers look for easy money. And the invincible spirit of a vicious wolf roams free until he receives a human being's love and understanding. The classic sequel to The Call of the Wild chronicles the life story of White Fang from birth until his eventual domestication. The fast paced action of White Fang never lets up with danger always waiting beyond the next pile of snow or beneath the claws of a snarling predator.

22. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

In Hertfordshire, far, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet (a country squire of no great means and his scatterbrained wife) must marry off their five lively daughters. At the center of all this is the headstrong second daughter Elizabeth and her suitor Darcy, two lovers in which pride and prejudice must be overcome before love can bring the novel to its fantastic conclusion.

23. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

This is a tragic tale of a mentally disabled man and his closest friend who loves and tries to protect him from the evil of their time.

24. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Written and set in the Alcott family home, in 19th-century New England, the novel follows the lives of four sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March and their trials and tribulations of growing up while their father is off at war.

25. The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald

This story is about self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby and his rise to glory and eventual fall from grace which becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream and the trials of love.