Janet's Jargon

Fun lifestyles, charitable acts, great fiction, author support, Patrick and Grace Mysteries, Keith clan trilogy,

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Last minute gift rescues

These are a few of my favorite things...
OK, so I don't sound quite like Julie Andrews, but The Sound of Music is one of my very favorite movies. It's pretty much a tie between that one and Brigadoon. And that first line up there, as you probably recognize, is from The Sound of Music.

It probably won't come as any surprise that one of my favorite things is a good book. You can't go wrong with that as a gift. One size fits all. If it is especially good, you can read it over and over again. I don't advise that you loan it out, no matter how good the friend is, though, as books have a way of disappearing, just like they do at the public library.

So, in the interest of coming to your rescue, here are a few of some of the best books I have read this year. I know there are a lot of others out there too, and I don't mean to slight any of the other fine authors who have risen onto the horizon this year, but I am drawing the line at just a few. It's always hard to pick and choose, so I don't want to overwhelm you by offering too many. Some of them will be listed by book titles, but a few others will be by author, as they have more than one that fits on my "favorites" list.

Billie A. Williams has numerous books out. I admit that I haven't read all of them, but of those I have read, here are my top picks:
Knapsack Secrets--a woman who is a success suddenly finds herself homeless. When she teams up with another homeless woman (Valentine--my favorite character) and a young teenager, tragedy strikes, but can they find a way out? The scene with the tennis shoes is priceless! This was my favorite of her books until I read...
Ghost Music of Vaudeville--The Keith Theater in Ironwood Michigan is doomed for destruction, but Charlie, a crime reporter for the local newspaper, agrees to temporarily "adopt" a teenage boy, Tommy, while his mother goes off to fight in the war in Iraq. Tommy is a friend of Piano Man, who has been the heart and soul of the Vaudeville acts in the old theater. Can he find a way to breathe life into the theater one last time before the wrecking ball strikes. And where does Bette Midler suddenly fit into the picture?

The Kahills of Willow Walk, by S.K. Hamilton is a brilliant work that will have you scrambling through the hills of Wheeling, West Virginia as Kat makes her move to the big fashion picture in New York City, and discovers that there is more corruption than she ever imagined. Arson, black cats and the adorable Granddad Jedediah weave a magical spell on the reader.

Scarecrow in Grey--by Barry Yelton is a Civil War novel that will have you cheering for the underdog. Laced with a bit of humor amidst the conflict, this is a true delight. The hero in the book faces the enemy with no fear when it is demanded. Friendship, loss, and even rabbits make this one a tale you won't soon forget.

Storm--by Joyce Anthony. It is hard to fit this one into any particular mold. The closest I can come is to call it a "spiritual fantasy." Known only as "Storm," the main character will lead you down the railroad of life and it will change the way you look at those around you forever. Reading this book is truly a life-altering event.

The Savannah River Dolphins--by Muriel Lindsay is a young adult book that will have you smiling before you even open the cover. There is something loving about dolphins, and Ms. Lindsay has dedicated her life to studying--and befriending--these creatures. Truly a delight, no matter what your age.

Alice Duncan--I discovered Alice many years ago, when she was writing for Berkley's Homespun imprint. I have read every book she has published since then (probably about 25 years ago), and I can honestly say that I've never met an Alice Duncan book I didn't enjoy. Her Daisy Gumm books, however, are my favorites, and just in time for Christmas the third one in the series, High Spirits, is out. Daisy is married to a disabled war veteran, and it is up to her to provide the living for her family. She does so by posing as a fortune teller, and she gets into more pickles than you'll find in a bottle of Heinz gherkins. The first two books in the series (Strong Spirits and Fine Spirits) are unfortunately out of print, but if you look hard enough you can find them as used books. They are well worth the effort.

OK, that's it for now. There are tons of others out there, but this will get you started. And if you should happen to stumble across a Janet Elaine Smith book that strikes your fancy, that's fine with me too. With the early onset to a harsh winter this year, including snow in Hollywood, Texas and New Orleans, if you want to escape to a warmer climate, check out Pampas. It will take you to the heart of Argentina, and the heart of a very strange gaucho.

Happy shopping, and Merry Christmas!


  • At 8:44 PM, Blogger Word Crafter said…

    Aww thanks for the endorsement friend. Christmas and books go together I don't think a Christmas ever went by when I was a kid that I didn't get at least one book. My favorite thing in the world. And you listed some very good books in your blog. I haven't read them all but I've read Pee Wee/ er Syliva K Hamilton's and it is exactly as you say--an excellent read. Muriel's cover is enough to get you into the book and you'll never want to leave - oh and wait until next year when your pampas grass in pink and white is blooming - you can sell it and give a copy of your book with it at the open aire market {smile}
    Billie A Williams

  • At 10:39 PM, Blogger Joyce Anthony said…

    All great choices, Janet! You know I'm partial to Bank Roll myself :-)

  • At 9:47 AM, Blogger JanetElaineSmith said…

    Thanks for your visits, Joyce and Billie. I have never seen real Pampas grass, Billie, so I am anxious for that experience. I love learning new things.

    Yes, Joyce, I should have guessed you would like Bank Roll. I'm sure it is not just because of the moose that got loose, but the fact that your son Shane did the cover art for that one might have just a little to do with it, I'm guessing.

  • At 9:58 PM, Blogger S.K. Hamilton said…

    Thanks a lot for mentioning The Kahills of Willow Walk. I really appreciate it. And all the books you've mentioned are top notch. Like Billie I've read most of them and couldn't pick a favorite if my life depended on it. Well--maybe then...

    I dearly love Pampas grass. We had 6 huge bushes of them. The feather's are gorgeous, but be careful, the leaves are prickly.

    Love your blog, dearie.

    Pee Wee


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