Miss Julia is back and better than ever. She comes home one day to find that her jewelry and Hazel Marie's jewelry has been burgled, and of course, shMiss Julia is back and better than ever. She comes home one day to find that her jewelry and Hazel Marie's jewelry has been burgled, and of course, she is not in the least content to wait for the police to go and find the stuff. Together with Little Lloyd and Etta Mae, she finds a private investigator (her usual go-to man, JD Pickens, is vacationing with Hazel Marie in Mexico) and goes after the jewel thieves herself.
The book is typical Miss Julia madcap hilarity, her proper Southern ladylike ways getting her into all kinds of trouble. The private investigator they manage to pick up is a drunk of the nth degree, and her interactions with him alone is worth the price of admission.
I love Miss Julia. Can't wait for the next one! ...more
This is my ultimate guilty pleasure, beach book piece of fluff, and consequently I read it in its entirety while I was at the beach this weekend. WhenThis is my ultimate guilty pleasure, beach book piece of fluff, and consequently I read it in its entirety while I was at the beach this weekend. Whenever I'm in the dumps, there are 2 books I pick up, and this piece of hardcover romantic comedy is one of them. When I broke my leg, I probably read it 5 times in those 3 months.
Bet Me is the story of Min Dobbs, insurance actuarial at large. She is "chubby" by her mother's standards, has a fetish for fun shoes, has lousy luck picking men, adores her sister and her two best friends, and is a die hard Elvis Presley fan. As the story opens, Min is being dumped by her "I-oughta-love-him" boyfriend, David, a sleazy software developer who dumps Min in a bar, as she won't "put out" for him after 3 months.
Cal Morrissey is a risk taking golden boy, gorgeous, rich, self assured, and afraid of commitment. He happens to be at the same bar that Min and David are at. On a bet from David, he takes Min to dinner. The bet is altogether more complicated than that, but I don't want to give too much away.
Min knows Cal's reputation as a playboy, and upon overhearing the bet being made, decides she'll string him along for 3 weeks and get him to take her to her sister Diana's wedding. But can she?
Despite their best efforts, they fall for each other. Min struggles as much to reject Cal as he does to come to terms with the feelings that he's finally met the woman of his dreams. But the bet may very well come back to haunt them.
Yeah right. It's a romantic comedy, not a tragedy. ...more
There are two books in my collection that I read occasionally when I need a light read and something kind of fun, and this is one of them. It is the sThere are two books in my collection that I read occasionally when I need a light read and something kind of fun, and this is one of them. It is the story of Lillian Manville, the wife of billionaire James Manville, who is killed when his plane crashes in the middle of the night. He dies, leaving Lillian a decrepit old farm house and a mysterious note that reads, "Find out what happened." Lillian undergoes plastic surgery and moves to the farm in rural Virginia, trying to reassemble her life, which has been lived in the lap of luxury for 12 years. Now on her own, she relies on the strapping Matthew Longacre, her new boarder, and some friends to help her rebuild her life, discover the truth of what happened to her husband, and prevent her deceased husband's half-brother and half-sister from destroying the Manville empire with their narcissistic greediness.
I love this book. It is, in places, so beyond belief as to be grossly entertaining, and at the same time there are parts of it that I can't get enough of. Matthew Longacre is the leading man I love to hate--at one point he tells Lillian (who is newly-named Bailey James) that the pressure is off for them to be anything more than friends, and not two pages later, he kisses her in front of his whole entire family! Plus he agrees to rent one room from her and winds up taking over her whole entire house, and he is basically reverting back to his high school years while living at home licking his wounds from his failed marriage.
The half-brother and sister are so evil, and the people who rally around Lillian/Bailey are so overwhelmingly selfless and wealthy themselves, you really have to read this book with an eye to entertainment versus believability. James Manville makes Bill Gates look like a pauper. Seriously.
A fun, quick read, as close to a romance novel as I'll ever truly get and still enjoy it. ...more
Arlene Fleet makes a deal with God. She will never lie, fornicate, or return home to Alabama, so long as He agrees never to reveal where the body is hArlene Fleet makes a deal with God. She will never lie, fornicate, or return home to Alabama, so long as He agrees never to reveal where the body is hidden. After 9 years living in Chicago as a celibate, honest literature lovin' professional, an unexpected visitor arrives to find out what happened to the person Arlene has killed and vows to find out. So Arlene packs up her long suffering boyfriend and hauls ass to Alabama to make sure her biggest secret remains so.
God what a book. While stereotypical about the residents of Dixie, the characters were funny, engaging, and Arlene's pain and fear about her secret are palpable in every page. I made myself go slow and savor it. I'm so glad I did. ...more
Lina Pritchett's life is centered around hiding her new pregnancy from her husband's family until they are ready to tell, her son Red, and her mother-Lina Pritchett's life is centered around hiding her new pregnancy from her husband's family until they are ready to tell, her son Red, and her mother-in-law Margot, as well as her career as a teacher in a tiny town on the Australian Outback. One of her former students has run off with her best friend's husband, the big scandal in town. At a wedding for the two, Lina is started to run into Sophie, a backpacker from England who is sure she knows Lina as her old pal Daisy from ballet school back in Devon. Ten years earlier, Daisy was accused of a terrible crime and committed suicide in the midst of the ensuing media melee. Or did she?
This was a really great women's suspense type of book. Written in such a way that you know that Lina is Daisy and that she was not entirely guilty (one of those shades of gray type of deals), the suspense centers around her getting caught, and what will happen to the life she's so carefully protected for the last ten years. Can a person be rehabilitated, and is forgiveness possible? I loved that it wasn't grisly, that it was very human, and exposed the frailties we're all vulnerable to as thoughtless careless youths (granted, we aren't all mildly responsible for poisoning four of our best friends). How Daisy deals with being discovered and how it affects the people around her makes for compelling reading. ...more
it was a WONDERFUL book, even if I had to read the Oxford English Dictionary at the same time. Loosely based on a true story, YOW is the tale of a smait was a WONDERFUL book, even if I had to read the Oxford English Dictionary at the same time. Loosely based on a true story, YOW is the tale of a small village in England in which the plague breaks out. The town's minister convinces the majority of its residents to stay put in the village and not risk infecting and spreading the contagion to those outside the confines of the village. What follows is the town turning in on itself, madness and mayhem reigning. The story is told through the eyes of Anna, the minister's 19 year old servant girl, a widow whose two young sons are among the first felled by the plague. The writing is vivid, colorful, and full of words that I didn't know. Yes, I could figure many out by context, but what's the fun in that? So I created my own glossary--and there's a glossary for the book on line. If you decide to read it and want to have a copy of my glossary, let me know, and I'll send it to you. ...more
This book follows the story of young Livvy Dunne, who at 24 has been written off as a spinster while her two younger and prettier sisters marry militaThis book follows the story of young Livvy Dunne, who at 24 has been written off as a spinster while her two younger and prettier sisters marry military officers during WWII. When it is discoverd that Livvy has been, well, knocked up by a military officer who left to join the war, a family friend who is a minister arranges a marriage to a far off farmer, away from her family and friends, and far away from her dreams of pursuing a career in archeology. Lonely and not connecting with her new husband, she befriends two young Japanese-American girls who work on the farm as part of their jobs in the nearby internment camp. The girls involve Livvy in a scheme that could land her in a heap of trouble, and Livvy must come to terms with her life as it is and make peace with it. I loved this book. It was a real page turner. The basic criticism of the book is that the plot is improbable in terms of what Livvy and the Japanese girls do, and that it wraps up rather neatly and quickly at the end, both of which are true. But for me, that didn't detract one minute from the book. I enjoyed the story of a woman who takes on her circumstances by doing what is dictated by those around her, and how she must either run from those decisions screaming or make peace with how she finds her life. I felt a definite kinship and sympathy towards Livvy and truly enjoyed reading about her life and life during the time period. The writing was also quite fluid and easy to read. ...more
I found this book at the Wilderness Library and very nearly didn't buy it. Just looking at the title, the words didn't exactly compute and I thought,I found this book at the Wilderness Library and very nearly didn't buy it. Just looking at the title, the words didn't exactly compute and I thought, "hmmm, this book seems kind of silly." Then I read "A Novel in Letters" and my shameless snoop side came out. I love, love, love reading books that are comprised of letters, I feel like I'm really snooping in someone's mail or diaries, and it makes it so interesting. So I picked up Ella and on my way to the car, said the title out loud and the light went on.
The story is one of letters, literally, written in letters between various people. The fictional town of Nollop is facing a crisis: Named after Nevin Nollop who famously coined the phrase "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog", a statue to its founder in town is falling to pieces. Specifically, letters on tiles comprising the famous sentence are falling off the statue, and the town council has taken that as a sign. The citizenry is officially banned from using any letter which falls off the sign. Failure to restrict use of those letters results first in lashing, and then in banishment from the island. They may neither speak nor write the offending letters. It starts out fairly simply, with the letter Z, but eventually more and more letters drop and it becomes harder and harder to write and speak.
I won't reveal how it is resolved, but it was an excellent story and one that I only wish I had had the cleverness to invent myself. It's a fairly short book as well, so you could read it pretty quickly if you wanted to! Fun and funny, definitely a book for people who love words. Take up the town's challenge yourself and see if you can come up with a sentence...? ...more
I recently did a health fair for work, and had to share a table with the Fairfax County Public Library's NLS for the Disabled representative. We got tI recently did a health fair for work, and had to share a table with the Fairfax County Public Library's NLS for the Disabled representative. We got to talking books since she had a couple of my old favorites on display and then it turned out we were both in book clubs. So she asked what kind of books we were reading and I asked her what book her club was currently reading, and she said they like to read women's fiction that's not chick lit, and they were reading this book, The Monk Downstairs, which was a non-romance romance. Although we had known each other all of 10 minutes, she announced that I would like it and I should read it. Guess what? She was right.
The book tells the story of Rebecca Martin, a thirty-something single mom who's sharing custody of her young daughter Mary Martha with her surfer-dude ex-husband. She has an in-law apartment downstairs and she rents it out to Michael Christopher, a 30-something who has just left the monastery after losing faith in God, having been a monk the better part of two decades. Together, Rebecca and Mike navigate new relationships--Rebecca dumping Bob, a good guy who's all wrong for her, and Mike learning to live in the secular world after having been largely insulated from it for the past 20 years. And however unlikely (although since it's sort of a romance, it's pretty likely), they manage to form a common bond after not speaking for half the book and fall in love.
There is a sequel out, The Monk Upstairs, which chronicles their marriage. I am looking forward to reading it. Truly, this was not the typical sappy love story. The characters were real, their faults were all too obvious and unforgiving, and they were hard on each other. The book was not some hot but heartbroken dude stumbling on a gorgeous farmgirl who wants to raise his darling but precocious five year old. Two real people, who've been a bit banged around by life, find solace in each other. Good stuff. ...more
I loved this book. I found myself hating it--it's very slow and languid, kind of like a hot Southern summer day, and you kind of have to pick your wayI loved this book. I found myself hating it--it's very slow and languid, kind of like a hot Southern summer day, and you kind of have to pick your way through it, but it's a wonderful story and written beautifully. Friddle is the type of writer I aspire to be: she makes you work for it, and makes you want to work for it. By the end, I couldn't put it down. And the book comes with a pretty happy ending, which made me even happier. Things don't always work out exactly the way we want, but they usually work out for the best. Good stuff! ...more
Linc Menner is a man who has just given up his job as a very successful landscaper in California to move to Western New York, where his wife has beenLinc Menner is a man who has just given up his job as a very successful landscaper in California to move to Western New York, where his wife has been hired to be CEO of a hospital. While Jo, his wife, laments her 12 hour days, Linc is left to deal with the whisperings of his neighborhood housewives who don't trust a man around their children (including his own 3 year old daughter), the struggles of maintaining a household, the pressures of being supportive of his wife, and his own struggle to find meaning in a life defined by laundry and cooking.
The book reminded me a bit of an updated version of the old Michael Keaton film Mr. Mom. Linc and Jo have to find their own ways to deal with his being a stay-at-home dad and it's so entertaining to read Linc whining about having to go be arm candy at his wife's corporate events, while she complains that she doesn't get to spend enough time with 3-year-old Violet. When they finally find their balance, it's wonderful. I loved hearing Linc become whiny and dependent and his wife annoyed and distant. It really cracked me up. Good stuff. ...more
This book was actually a tad on the racy side! Young Gary amuses himself with a book, High School Orgies, given to him by his friend Leonard. He spinsThis book was actually a tad on the racy side! Young Gary amuses himself with a book, High School Orgies, given to him by his friend Leonard. He spins himself additional fantasies around this book and his cousin Kate, as well as spending time hanging out with his hero, Jim Dandy, member of the Doo Dads singing sensation and announcer at the local ballfield. The book has lots of Lake Wobegon charm and I suspect I'll probably read more in the series, but I was a tad surprised by the constant mention of genitalia, considering I only was familiar with the NPR version of Keillor's famed little town. It was a fun read, though. I look forward to some more of these stories and people. ...more
Ok, my sister has been raving about Kinsella for a while, and I never was interested in the Shopaholic books. However, on a recent perusal over at theOk, my sister has been raving about Kinsella for a while, and I never was interested in the Shopaholic books. However, on a recent perusal over at the Wilderness Library, TUG was on the shelves for a dollar, and I figured, "What the heck!? She raved about it at book club!" and took a chance.
Samantha Sweeting is on the verge of partnership at the prestigious London law firm Carter Spink—the Holy Grail of her entire workaholic life. But when she finds she has made a terrible, costly mistake just before the partnership decision, she's terrified of being fired. In a fog, she stumbles out of the building and onto the nearest train, which drops her in the countryside, where she wanders to a stately home. The nouveau riche lady of the house mistakes her for the new housekeeper—and Samantha is too astonished to correct her. Numb and unable to face returning to London, Samantha tries to master the finer points of laundry, cooking and cleaning. She discovers that the slow life, her pompous but good-hearted employers and the attentions of the handsome gardener, Nathaniel, suit her just fine. But her past is hard to escape, and when she discovers a terrible secret about her firm—and when the media learns that the former legal star is scrubbing toilets for a living—her life becomes more complicated than ever.
I loved this book. It was so entertaining to see Samantha struggle with becoming a housekeeper and making a change for the better in her life. When reading about how stressed out she was and how little time she had for herself in London (her to-do list was hilarious), and seeing her grow into an actual person away from her job, it was great. It gave me hope that someday we'll all stop being who we are for work and start being who we are for fun. And it made me long for the British countryside (so I watched "The Holiday" on DVD again, which was actually a perfect tie-in for this book). Nathaniel was a great character, seeing through Samantha's brave facade, and her employers were absolutely charming in their bumblingishness (is that a word?!). I particularly enjoyed when they tried to convince Samantha that she was bright enough to go back and finish her schooling, little knowing they had a prodigy lawyer on their hands.
The end of the book, which revolves around Samantha's eventualy unmasking and the choices she has to make, was not too terribly trite, but at the same time I was slightly miffed that Kinsella didn't see fit to share the note with the rest of us. Read the book, and you'll know what I mean! ...more
Ruby and Rose are identical twin girls born conjoined at the head. Their birth mother flees from them after they are born, and they are taken in by thRuby and Rose are identical twin girls born conjoined at the head. Their birth mother flees from them after they are born, and they are taken in by the attending nurse, Lovey and her husband, Stash, a native Slovak. The girls grow up in a small Canadian border town, and as they learn that they are dying, they decide to write their autobiography. The story spans their growing up and their life together, as well as Lovey and Stash's lives together.
I really, really enjoyed this book, it was probably one of the top 10 I've read this year. My only minor quibble with the book was the sheer number of time the author wrote "we are conjoined". Every freakin' page. Judy and I would call each other and ask, "Hey, did you know these girls are conjoined?" It got to be a joke. Last night we were sitting in the car, and I said, "You know, I've been thinking a lot about it, and I've come to a serious conclusion after a lot of thought." Judy kind of tensed up, since a lot's been going on lately, and she said, "What?! What's up?" and I said, "I think they were conjoined." and we both got the giggles.
The other quibble I had with it was the girls' trip to Slovakia, which in my opinion was set up to be a huge, disastrous experience, and in fact, after I read it, I thought, "uh huh, and?" But there were other parts that made up for it. Great book, I really liked it. ...more