What do you do after a near-death experience and an almost engagement quickly followed by a breakup a few days later while you're recuperating in a hoWhat do you do after a near-death experience and an almost engagement quickly followed by a breakup a few days later while you're recuperating in a hospital? If you're Summer Benson you head for Black Dog Bay, Delaware, reported breakup capital of America. This is a place where you can wallow in your grief at the Better Off Bed-and-Breakfast, drown your sorrows at the Whinery Bar, or eat as many sweet and chocolate confectioneries to soothe your soul at the Eat Your Heart Out Bakery. You can even shop til you drop at Retail Therapy where clothing is actually divided into categories suitable for your breakup/grief stage.
All her life Summer has been a love-'em-and-leave-'em party girl. Now that she's been dumped by her almost fiancé after a near-death experience in a plane crash, she's somewhat lost. She doesn't know what she really wants and refuses to allow her stepsister, Emily, to "help" her recover, even if it might mean a date with Ryan Gosling (I know…she's obviously in need of professional help). The last thing she needs is to become emotionally involved with anyone, especially not with the townsfolk of Black Dog Bay, the town's mayor Dutch Jansen, or the mentor to Dutch's teenage sister, Ingrid. Unfortunately that is exactly what she does and it all starts with her taking on one of the most notorious summer people in the town and then following it up by taking on the town bully, Hattie Huntington.
Cure for the Common Breakup was a fast and hilarious read. Seriously, I'm talking laugh-out-loud funny due to some of Summer's antics not to mention her conversations with Hattie Huntington. This is more than just a love story, even though there is quite a bit of romance. Summer recovers from her breakup only to realize that she wants to put down roots, and that she cares more for the people of Black Dog Bay than she ever dreamed. She allows herself to be emotionally blackmailed by Miss Huntington and what ensues are those laugh-out-loud confrontational conversations, steamy romance scenes between Summer and Dutch, and Summer's ability to put the cares and needs of others before herself. Who knew being an airline steward could have so many practical applications? I loved all of the characters in this story, from the emotionally stunted and comical Summer, to the striving to be perfect teen Ingrid, and even the elderly and bitter Hattie. Ms. Kendrick has crafted an amazingly fast read that pulled me in with the comedy and drama of Summer Benson's life. You'll definitely want to add Cure for the Common Breakup to your summer reading schedule, but be warned that your laughter may elicit a lot of attention. ...more
It's summer time in Ackers Gap, West Virginia and the heat is oppressive. If dealing with the summer heat wasn't bad enough, Bell Elkins3.5 star read
It's summer time in Ackers Gap, West Virginia and the heat is oppressive. If dealing with the summer heat wasn't bad enough, Bell Elkins and the residents of Acker's Gap, West Virginia are also dealing with the fear left behind from a senseless murder. It's only been a few months since the return of Bell's sister, Shirley, and the awful murder of a teenage girl, as well as the spree of murders by a terrorist seeking revenge against one of Bell's friends only in town for a visit. Bell's lover suffered severe injuries during an explosion in a local eatery and their relationship seems to have fizzled out. Bell's daughter is due in for the summer and that is the only bright spot in her immediate future. Just when Bell thinks that things can't get any worse she receives a phone call from another county sheriff's office that her sister is at the scene of a bar brawl that turns into a murder scene. Then another murder victim is found in Acker's Gap and Bell's daughter opts not to return to Acker's Gap for the summer but go to London, England for an internship. Could things get any worse?
Be careful what questions you ask, because yes things can always get worse. After the second murder, Bell begins to wonder what an elderly retired coal miner - the first murder victim, a man that takes care of his dying mother - the second murder victim, a young lady that works at a local gas station/convenience store, and a former West Virginia governor have in common. On the surface, it doesn't appear to be much other than the fact that they are all residents of Raythune County (or at least a former resident with respect to the governor). The more Bell tries to make sense of what's going on, the more confused and angry she becomes. The one thing Bell doesn't do is back down from a challenge and she's determined to find the answers behind these murders, hopefully before another murder occurs.
Summer of the Dead is the third book in the Bell Elkins series by Julia Keller. As with the previous books in this series, Ms. Keller doesn't shy away from touchy subjects such as people getting rich or richer on the backs of the poor, politicians selling out the state to the highest bidders, environmental rape and plunder to the detriment of the everyday working man or woman, and the ever-present problems of meth/prescription drug addiction and abuse in rural areas in the state. The character Bell Elkins doesn't whitewash her disgust at these practices and is adamant in her desire to rid at least her part of West Virginia from as many of these problems as possible. (If you haven't read A Killing in the Hills, the first book in this series, please do so as it deals with the prescription drug abuse problem and drug trade in West Virginia in a realistic manner.) Yes, there is widespread poverty in West Virginia. Yes, there are rural areas in the state where the unemployment level is two or three times the national average. Yes, there are families that never seem to escape the hardscrabble life of their fathers and grandfathers. But there are also people like Bell Elkins that get an education and either stay or come back to make a difference. Summer of the Dead is an amazing mystery that pulled me back into Bell Elkins world. I read this book in one afternoon and only put it down to make another cup of tea or three. Ms. Keller has the ability to spin a tale that is so believable it borders on nonfiction. If you've read A Killing in the Hills and Bitter River then you have to grab Summer of the Dead to read more about Bell Elkins and Ackers Gap. If you haven't read the previous books in this series all I can say is, "what are you waiting for?" ...more