It’s the time of year when bouquets of flowers fill the stores, the gift of a box of chocolates takes on new meaning, and love songs (and movies) fill the airwaves. Swoonworthy stuff, ya’ll.
Instead of creating a post about current titles that inspire hearts to flutter, I put out an open call for men and women to name their favorite Greatest Love Stories of All Time. Thanks to Mari Barnes*, Sarah Bewley, Leah Canzoneri, Kait Carson, Peggy Clayton, Joy Ross Davis, Missy Davis, Laura Di Silverio, Saword Broyles Ellis, Terri Gault, Courtney Carter Girton, Sherry Harris, Cynthia Kuhn, Joyce Laferrera, Marj Lilley, Alice Loweecy, Gary Miller, Sylvia Nickels, Debbie York Parker, Nanci Rathbun, Jeanie Smith, Ellis Vidler, and Lynn Chandler Willis for their wonderful suggestions. *drawing winner
Books are listed in alphabetical order by title, and where available, links to the Greatest Love Stories are included. Click on the titles and read more about them.
“At Home in Mitford” by Jan Karon
“Cinderella Story” by Wendy Logia
“Come Rain or Come Shine” by Jan Karon
“Dr. Zhivago” by Boris Pasternak
“Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte
“Lonesome Dove” by Larry McMurtry
“Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon
“Persuasion” by Jane Austen
“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
“Sense and Sensibility” by Jane Austen
“Shadow of the Moon” by MM Kaye
“Somewhere in Time” by Richard Matheson
“Soulless” by Gail Carriger
“The Far Pavilions” by MM Kaye
“The Last of the Mohicans” by James Fenimore Cooper
“The Notebook” by Nicholas Sparks
“The Princess Bride” by William Goldman
“The Scarlet Pimpernel” by Baroness Orczy
“The Second Coming” by Walker Percy
“The Thorn Birds” by Colleen McCullough
Are you thinking romantic, weak-at-the-knees thoughts?
Our work is done. 😉
Photo credit: Patti Phillips
In “The Coincidence of Coconut Cake,” Chef Lou Johnson is living her dream at her restaurant, Luella’s, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She’s making plans for the future and is engaged to Devlin, a prominent attorney. Life is good and getting better.
When Lou bakes a coconut cake for Devlin’s birthday and takes it to his apartment, his intern is there, barely dressed. It appears that Devlin is cheating on her. Devlin is a man who has disapproved of the crocs and casual clothes Lou wears in her everyday chef’s life and buys her expensive dresses because he thinks she doesn’t look after herself. He never understood her need to work/own a restaurant. She has brushed that aside and thought they could work it out, that eventually he would see how important her career is to her. Well, maybe not after the scantily clad gal has made her appearance.
Transplanted Brit and food critic, Al Waters, is looking for a way to leave town as quickly as possible, to get away from Milwaukee, Wisconsin – what he considers to be a Podunk region of the world. The restaurant reviews he writes under a pseudonym can ruin an eatery’s reputation, but all Waters wants to do is make a name for himself. His columns are selling newspapers and getting attention from employers, but sometimes play fast and loose with the facts – almost written before he actually eats at the places.
Al does a scathing review of Lou’s restaurant on the very night of the intern sighting. Groan. Business drops waaaaay off as a result. Double Groan. Suddenly, life can’t get any worse for Lou. The time is ripe for Lou to completely redo her life. What follows is a series of meetings with both Al and Lou keeping their real identities secret. Deception? Evasion? Attraction? What could go wrong in this tale of love’s beginnings and endings and new beginnings?
Amy E. Reichert has written a delightful novel about the way that fate can intervene when life falls off the rails and we are blindsided by events that run contrary to our Grand Plan. The reader is in on the secrets early on, but Reichert’s clever plot keeps us laughing as the main players stay in the dark. Supporting characters are far from cookie-cutter and have love stories of their own, with the result that “The Coincidence of Coconut Cake” serves up a rich selection from the love menu.
Having worked in several restaurants in order to work my way through college and/or learn the business for my own Grand Plan, I read the behind-the-scenes workings of Luella’s with special interest. Reichert reveals the dynamics of running a restaurant with just enough info to provide authenticity. Details such as the number of ‘covers’ and the division of labor in a kitchen, the attention paid to the ‘regulars’, the scars on the chef’s hands, and commitment to a career with long hours, supply the perfect flavor to “The Coincidence of Coconut Cake.”
While there are no actual recipes in the book, the food descriptions are mouthwatering. Cooks will find a lot to like and may even pick up some tips for food prep. It’s obvious that Al and Lou both love great food as they wander through the Milwaukee eateries and eventually cook for each other. They chat about their families’ influences on their professions, food adventures, and the best way to prepare a dish, with warm and often funny scenes. Their interactions are completely natural and we root for their relationship, despite the complications.
“The Coincidence of Coconut Cake” can be enjoyed as a book about second chances in love and life, but also as a surprising celebration of Milwaukee’s eateries. The book has all the elements for an endearing romantic comedy movie, but I’d love to have a piece of that coconut cake.
Please visit www.amyereichert.com for more information about Amy E. Reichert and her work.
Callie Jean Morgan is now the Police Chief in “Echoes of Edisto,” the third book in C. Hope Clark’s Edisto Island series. The former Boston police detective, haunted by the tragic death of her husband, is living in South Carolina on the coastal island of Edisto with her teenaged son. She has come to Edisto to get as far away from the memories as possible, but it seems that law enforcement is in her blood and those memories have a way of following her trail to the beach.
A horrifying traffic accident tests Callie’s mettle as a new Police Chief, pushes the limits of her sobriety, and raises more than one question about the people in her life. “Echoes of Edisto” delves into Callie’s actions, both past and present, and we get to see more of what makes this complex flesh and blood woman tick. Clark delivers an astonishing revelation: just when Callie has come to terms with her deceased father’s behavior, a new bombshell turns her life upside down.
In a perceptive nod to real-life alcoholics, Clark has Callie switch parental roles with her son at her lowest points – he watches out for her when she places herself in danger or drinks too much. Clark explores the nuances of their evolving relationship in occasionally tender, sometimes painful ways as they navigate the minefield of terrifying experiences that have accidentally shaped this young man’s world.
Kudos to Clark for creating very real teenagers in her books. The Slade Mysteries has a teenaged daughter and the Edisto series has the teenaged son and both are spot-on in their love for their moms without being sappy, with nothing out of character for the modern teenaged voice. They are not perfect children by any means, but are occupied with normal (sometimes secret) activities and the average rebellious moments of trouble and subterfuge. Ah, the times that try moms’ souls.
The recurring characters – friends, family, neighbors, supporting officers and personnel – along with the new people essential to the plot, are nicely written with changing attitudes toward Callie as they get to know her through the three books. Mike Seabrook, doctor turned police officer, is her sometime romantic interest, but in self-preservation mode, Callie has placed boundaries on the relationship because of work. It turns out that Seabrook has secrets/challenges of his own that place them all at risk.
Some of the quirky tourists made me LOL. Life as a beach cop must have plenty of “are you kidding me?” moments mixed in with the more serious policing of vacationers who leave their common sense at home. The subplots are complex, with murders and nasty bad guys, along with twists that will keep you turning the pages to find out what happens to these likable people.
More books are planned in the series and I look forward to discovering the stories that develop on Edisto Island, especially the ones with a newcomer from Callie’s past. Delicious possibilities were set up in “Echoes of Edisto” for the future.
*Some adult topics and occasional adult language.
Most of the winners of major book awards are selected by members of the groups that give the award – much like the film industry’s Academy Awards are selected each year. Mystery writers vote on the major mystery awards; romance writers vote on the Rita Award, etc. Goodreads, the popular readers/authors site, has a slightly different model for the Goodreads Choice Awards – 2016.
During the year, readers chat about books they’re reading and make lists of their favorites for their friends and followers to see. They also rank books they’ve read with stars, indicating how much they liked (or disliked) the titles published that year. There are thousands of books listed on the site, with thousands of comments, giving anyone who’s interested a way to see how a book (published in the U.S. in English) is viewed by the Goodreads group. Amazon acquired Goodreads, so these reviews and stars probably have an impact on book sales.
During October, the Goodreads staff looks at the stats and does the math, then nominates 15 books for each of 20 categories that have an average rating of 3.5 stars or more.
The members of the Goodreads community vote in elimination rounds. They are allowed to vote in all twenty categories, giving a broader view of a book’s popularity. If you sign up to become a member of Goodreads, you can vote as well. (It's free)
Semifinal Round now closed: Nov. 8th thru Nov. 13th (voting on the original 15 along with the top 5 write-ins in each category – voters can change their minds about the original vote)
Final Round is closed: Nov. 15th thru Nov. 27th (voting on final top 10 books in each category) Results were announced December 6th.
Here are the 2016 voting links for eight of the categories (once there, the other twelve categories are an easy click away):
The 2015 Goodreads Choice Awards went to:
Fiction: Harper Lee’s “Go Set a Watchman”
Mystery & Thriller: Paula Hawkins’ “The Girl on the Train”
Historical Fiction: Kristin Hannah’s “The Nightingale”
Fantasy: Neil Gaiman’s “Trigger Warning”
Romance: Colleen Hoover’s “Confess”
Science Fiction: Pierce Brown’s “Golden Son”
Fourteen other categories included horror, non-fiction, memoir, humor, and more.
Did you read any of the winning choices from 2015? If so, what did you think? Let us know in the comment section.
The 2014 Goodreads Choice Awards went to:
Fiction: Rainbow Rowell's "Landline"
Mystery & Thriller: Stephen King's "Mr. Mercedes"
Historical Fiction: Anthony Doerr's "All the Light We Cannot See"
History & Biography: Helen Rappaport's The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra"
Romance: Diana Gabaldon's "Written in My Own Heart's Blood"
Science Fiction: Andy Weir's "The Martian"
The 14 additional categories included cookbooks, horror, non-fiction, children’s books and more.
The 2013 Goodreads Choice Awards went to these 6 categories & more:
Fiction: Khaled Hosseini’s “And the Mountains Echoed”
Mystery & Thriller: Dan Brown’s “Inferno”
Historical Fiction: Kate Atkinson’s “Life After Life”
History & Biography: Brian Jay Jones’ “Jim Henson”
Romance: J.R. Ward’s “Lover at Last”
Science Fiction: Margaret Atwood’s “MaddAddam”
It’s interesting to note that in 2013, 1,953,770 total votes were cast for the Goodreads Choice Awards.
At the end of voting in 2014, there were 3,317,504 votes.
The final tabulation for the Goodreads Choice Awards in 2015 was 3,007,748 votes.
Votes as of 7pm EST 12/6/16? 3,564,071
Happy reading & thanks for voting!