Delicious! is a light, fun, fictional book that should appeal to foodies. The framing story involves Billie Breslin, a young woman with a discerning p...moreDelicious! is a light, fun, fictional book that should appeal to foodies. The framing story involves Billie Breslin, a young woman with a discerning palate, who starts a job as the assistant to the editor of Delicious! magazine in Manhattan. A beautiful historic mansion holds the offices of the food magazine (which is similar to Gourmet magazine where Ruth Reichl served as the editor.) In addition to writing food articles, Billie is responsible for manning a recipe hotline. The magazine guarantees that their readers will be happy with the recipes, or they will refund the price of the ingredients. Billie also works part-time at a family-run Italian deli that sells artisan cheeses and meats. She is mentored by a diverse group of people who introduce her to new food adventures. Sibling issues, a fashion makeover, and a love interest add to the story.
After the food magazine closes its doors, Billie stays on longer working the recipe hotline. With another former employee, Billie explores the wonderful culinary library in the old mansion. They find old letters written by Lulu, a 12-year-old girl, to James Beard during World War II. Lulu seeks advice about foraging for food, and recipes to use during wartime food rationing. She also shares her fears about her pilot father who has been shot down in Europe, and her mother who is working long hours at an aircraft factory. Lulu's problems seemed very real, and her letters were my favorite part of the book. Billie travels to Ohio to see if she can locate Lulu and see how her life progressed.
The book is a combination of interesting information about food, lovely wartime letters, and a "fluffy" contemporary mystery/romance. It was a quick, enjoyable book that would be a good vacation read.(less)
The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is a tale that will charm book lovers and book sellers. A. J. Fikry is the depressed, recently widowed owner of an ind...moreThe Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is a tale that will charm book lovers and book sellers. A. J. Fikry is the depressed, recently widowed owner of an independent bookstore on an island off the coast of Massachusetts. His sales are down, and a valuable first edition book has been stolen. His life changes when someone leaves a precious bundle in the bookstore for him.
The setting is wonderful--a quaint little bookstore full of good literature. The author weaves in situations involving the book-selling business, book clubs, and a humorous author visit. Each chapter is prefaced by a letter recommending a book, usually a short story, a way for A. J. to pass down his love of books. The story is heartwarming, humorous, romantic, and sad with a bit of a fairy tale feel to it. I was sorry to have this engaging story come to an end.(less)
"The Dinner" started with satirical social humor as two brothers and their wives dine at a posh restaurant. But the disturbing story gets psychologica...more"The Dinner" started with satirical social humor as two brothers and their wives dine at a posh restaurant. But the disturbing story gets psychologically darker and totally riveting as it moves on. What secrets is this unreliable narrator hiding? How far will the two couples go to protect their sons who are responsible for a terrible event? I couldn't put the book down!(less)
After his estranged father dies, Dr Cyrus Mills inherits a run-down veterinary office in Vermont. He had always been a loner, working in the laborator...moreAfter his estranged father dies, Dr Cyrus Mills inherits a run-down veterinary office in Vermont. He had always been a loner, working in the laboratory as a veterinary pathologist. It was a new experience getting involved with the animals and their owners. As he interacts with the people, he feels like he's a part of the community, understands his deceased father better, and wants to save the clinic. Although the book was a bit predictable, the author told the story with humor, warmth, and a great love for animals.(less)
"Fangirl" is a coming of age story about Cath as she starts her first year of university in Nebraska. Cath's more outgoing twin, Wren, is living at a...more"Fangirl" is a coming of age story about Cath as she starts her first year of university in Nebraska. Cath's more outgoing twin, Wren, is living at a nearby dorm, and has big plans to party and meet the frat guys. Cath is an avid fan of Simon Snow, a literary character similar to Harry Potter, and has many followers who read her fanfiction. She is so caught up with writing Simon Snow fanfiction that she is not moving on with her life. Her quirky roommate, a special guy, and a persistent professor help her see her potential. Cath and Wren's parents also have individual issues that add to the story.
This is a YA book with humorous dialogue that shows the different sides of the freshman college experience. Cath initially seemed extremely isolated and unfriendly to others. This was the first time she had to navigate the world without her twin, so even going to dinner at the cafeteria seemed daunting. The college students were realistic, especially Wren who doesn't know how much alcohol she can handle.
Along with Cath's story, there are sections of the book with Simon Snow's adventures from both the "original author" and from Cath's fanfiction. Although I had heard of fanfiction before, I did not realize how many writers there were online using published authors' characters, and creating their own stories. Since I only read the first Harry Potter book, I can't evaluate how closely the Simon Snow experiences mimic Harry Potter's. The book is fun in many ways--as a coming of age story, as a cute "first love" romance, and as a window into the world of fanfiction.(less)
Sometimes it's the little decisions in life that take us on a completely different path than the one that was planned. Alice Munro's latest collection...moreSometimes it's the little decisions in life that take us on a completely different path than the one that was planned. Alice Munro's latest collection of short stories are set in small towns in Ontario, Canada in the 1940s and 1950s. With most of the stories, she shows us something unexpected about the characters that sets them in a new direction. Train trips, car rides, and changing residences--all ways of moving on in life--are involved in many of the stories. I especially liked "Train", "To Reach Japan", "Corrie", and "Leaving Maverley".
The end of the book features four works that are more autobiographical in nature about her early life, her parents, and the village where her family lived.(less)
Mona, a reporter for a Colombian tabloid, is sent to the poor mountainous neighborhood of Galilea on the outskirts of Bogota. She is to write a story...moreMona, a reporter for a Colombian tabloid, is sent to the poor mountainous neighborhood of Galilea on the outskirts of Bogota. She is to write a story about an angel who has attracted a devoted following. The angel is a handsome young man who speaks only in foreign tongues, and has a luminous charismatic quality about him. Mona falls deeply in love with him. His mother claims that the angel uses her as a psychic channel, and she has journals filled with his thoughts.
The village is composed of two groups--those that believe in the angel and another group, led by the priest, who think he is a fraud or demon. Mona persues the story of the angel's early life and finds he had a horrific childhood. But he possesses a personal magnetism that offers the poor residents of Galilea something to believe in. Is he an angel, or mentally ill, or both? Full of Latin American magical realism and superstition, this story does not give us an answer. Occasionally, it veers into a humorous or silly vein. The reader justs needs to suspend reality, and go along for an unusual ride.(less)