Friday, September 16, 2005

Solo

Solo by Emily Barr

Our cellist heroine claims to have built her career more on her good looks and blond hair than her musical abilities. However, I kept thinking the whole time, 'but she must have talent if she is playing the London Palladium'. This book's odd beginning subtly changed over the next couple hundred pages from a woman empowering herself to one of lost power and reclaimation. Although a quick, fluid read, I often wondered where this book was going. She leaves her husband during a performance and then goes on to try to refit her life into what she thinks it should be. A deep, dark, hidden secret from her past and a would be stalker send this woman into a tailspin causing her to reevaluate her life.

I'm still not sure that I liked this book. I think I may have but how do I know? Was it predictable? Yes, somewhat. Yet, the initial romance that I thought was the core of this story transformed into a voyage of self discovery for the our heroine. Perhaps it is only the main character that I didn't like but the story that I appreciate. I did truly admire her self awareness although I loathed her narcissistic as H-E-double hockey sticks attitude.

A note about the cover: this is not the same book jacket as the book that I read. I picked up this tome as I was browsing the stacks of the local library and it is strange that I couldn’t find an example of that cover at the online bookstore. The cover of the book that I read had a cartoon drawing of a woman with a cello. Odd that it was a brunette woman with a cello since the main character repeatedly mentions that she is blond, but I digress. I doubt seriously that I would have bothered to pick up this book if the cover as shown here was my choice. I don’t relish books that show off women’s derrieres as a selling point. -Flourish

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Shadows at the Fair

Shadows at the Fair: an antique print mystery by Lea Wait

Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes at an antiques fair? Apparently antiques are murder! LOL Our recently widowed main character sets up her antique prints booth at one of the most prestigious fairs on Memorial Day weekend. This murder mystery series is a bit on the predictable and boring side but we do get a glimpse of behind the scenes at an antiques fair. A swift read, the author begins each chapter with a description of an antique print and its value. The book jacket explains that the author owned an antique print business for 25 years.

I have a bit of an ethical dilemma with the whole antique prints business that was only somewhat mollified by the book. Dear readers, do you know where these prints come from? Books. Yes, books are chopped up to get a hold of these prints so that they can be resold for a bigger profit. Our author explains at one point in Shadows that sometimes books are damaged with missing pages which renders them less valuable to antique book dealers. That’s when antique print dealers get their hands on them. I wonder what other means antique print dealers obtain prints? Any ideas?

This was an enjoyable read even though the plot was somewhat predictable. A strong female lead whose college teaching job doesn’t really pay all the bills (gee, really?) now that her husband has passed on, she earns extra cash at antiques shows. An interesting cast of supporting characters with various subplots that could pan out interestingly in the long run. I’m going to read at least one more book in this series before I make up my mind whether or not to read them all. -Flourish

Monday, September 12, 2005

Southern Fried Divorce

Southern Fried Divorce by Judy Conner (audio)

Right up there with the top three funniest books I've ever read, if you're a southern woman get yourself down to the bookstore and buy this book. Yes, dear readers, I said get down to the bookstore, not the library. This is a book you're going to want to keep forever. I grabbed this audio book off the library shelves because it had a brown dog on the cover. Little did I know that this true life story would center around the little brown dog and that ex husband of the author. And what a true story it is! Initially I found Cynthia Darlow's reading voice too gravely as if she'd just finished smoking a pack of cigeretts. I'd just thrown aside another audio book, Ruby River, that she was narrating because I was having a horridly busy week at work and I couldn't follow all the characters in it. However, her voice grew on me after I made it through the first CD.

Judy recounts with southern hilarity the many misadventures that ensued with that ex husband and the brown dog. I found myself laughing out loud during several scenes and at one point I actually insisted that Blotts listen to one particularly laughable moment. Judy is the sister of famed author Jill of Sweet Potato Queen's Book of Love. Actually, I'm not sure how famed she is because I'd never read her although I'd vaguely recalled hearing the title mentioned a couple of times. Blotts had not only heard of the Queen but had read her book and said she was extremely laugh out loudable.

This book is set in the Big Easy. That's New Orleans for those of you not in the know. This is how I choose to remember a fantastic city as it struggles to survive after a devastating storm. -Flourish

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Dog Breath!

Dog Breath!: The Horrible Trouble with Hally Tosis by Dav Pilkey

hal·i·to·sis n. The condition of having stale or foul-smelling breath.

Dav may be best known for his Captain Underpants series but I love Dog Breath! best. This is one of the funniest small kids' books I've ever read. Dog Hally lives with the Tosis family but her breath is so horrible that they come to the devastating decision that she must go. That is, of course, until she saves the day and her family's home by breathing on and knocking out the burglars. The delightful pictures and simple story of love will entertain readers from the age of two to one hundred. Highly recommended. -Flourish

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Not a Girl Detective

Not a Girl Detective by Susan Kandel

Did you know that there were several people who wrote under the name of Carolyn Keene for the Nancy Drew mystery series? What’s really enjoyable about this book is the author takes some interesting literary fact and weaves a hilarious fictional plot around it. Our returning main character Cece Caruso writes biographies for a living and in this second installment of the series we find her working on the elusive authors of the famed mystery series for girls. This book is chalk full of interesting characters including her two best friends, a rich collector who ends up dead, and some fanatical Nancy Drew fans. It’s entertaining to glimpse the main character’s love for vintage fashion and art. Reading this book was like getting to relive some of the high jinks of my youth. Come on now, admit it. You know, just like me, you loved reading those Nancy Drew books as a kid and then started seeing all manner of mysteries that needed solving around the house: Case of the Napping Dog, Case of the Evil Homework Giving Teacher, etc. This book is an easy read that will take your mind off the long, hard day you had at work. If you, like nearly every other girl in the U.S., grew up reading the Nancy Drew books then you’ll love this book. -Flourish

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Aunt Dimity’s Good Deed

Aunt Dimity’s Good Deed by Nancy Atherton

The main characters are quite delightful although this book was a bit more staid than the first two in this series. Where else can you enjoy a ghost character that shows up as swoopy handwriting in a blue journal? I must have a thing for books set in Boston and the English countryside. This book takes us on an English cross country trek through some scenic old houses. If you’ve read the first two books then you’ll want to follow it with this third book in the Aunt Dimity series.

I’ve failed to mention in my book reviews so far of this series that one of my favorite reoccurring characters is Lori’s pink stuffed flannel bunny Reginald. Anthropomorphized to high heaven, he is a great little comic relief and cute as a bug in a rug! -Flourish

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Don't think pink

Don’t Think Pink: What Really Makes Women Buy: And How to Increase Your Share of This Crucial Market by Lisa Johnson

Why do I pick up these marketing to women books? Why? I never enjoy them. I usually end up throwing them across the room in a fit of disgust or anger. Unless they’re library books of course, :), then I place them gently into the return box and turn my back. I’m usually pretty good at duping myself into believing that this book will be different. Of course, I say that every time and when it’s several months between the last time and the latest time I tend to forget my usual response.

So I pick this book up because it’s written by a woman and because the title and subtitle imply that there is some sort of new information here that could be useful. I tell myself, and others, that I read these books in order to thwart the advertisers at their own game. I like to think that I’ve figured out their angles so that I can nod knowingly and judgmentally at the television screen with eyes narrowed and a tisk on my lips. Yes, that’s partly true I guess, but this time around I’ve got an ulterior motive.

Blotts and I have been not very hard at work developing a product idea we had targeting a group of women that we know best. I ran across a mention of this book one day and in a fit of passion, and market research of course, I proceeded to locate one and read it. Sorry ya’ll but I didn’t quite make it to the end. The world of marketing still thinks that they can compartmentalize people into categories that will increase business revenue. Written for a generation X audience, this thirtysomething author makes an attempt to explain who women really are and what women really want. Some of what she says makes sense, even though I don’t really want to admit it. Overall, if you’re in the business world and you will have female customers, you might want to read this one over. -Flourish

Friday, September 02, 2005

Holes, redux

Holes by Louis Sachar

Blotts, I just want you to know that I don’t have any idea what the heck you were talking about when you said that this book was laugh out loud funny! I was practically crying over that poor innocent boy who got sent out to the detention camp. And all because of his no-good- rotten- pig- stealin- great- great- grandfather! :) You recommended reading it at red lights so I figured I’d start out in the bathroom and see where I end up. I guess I should mention that this 1999 Newberry award-winning book was written for children.

Poor Stanley! Having to live with a curse of bad luck all because of his no- good- rotten- pig- stealin- great- great- grandfather. I just wanted to slap that warden! There really was a method to the madness for all that hole diggin'. What a neat parrallel story with the past too. A quick read, a fun story, and a moral or two to boot, Holes will delight its audience of most ages. -Flourish

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Town that Came a Courtin'

The Town that Came a Courtin' by Ronda Rich

Another Georgia belle does good. You’ve gotta love a book that actually uses the word conniption. Now when was the last time you read that word in a book? This true southern romance couldn’t be any sweeter with sentences like “I feel like I’ve been drinking unsweetened tea for years and tonight you added the sugar”. The wordy start quickly dissipated as I got sucked into the story of a Georgia author on a book tour. Our heroine is from a small country town that is chalk full of hilarious stories complete with eccentric characters. Her book tour stop in tiny Bliss, Mississippi leads to an adventure filled romance that is an entertaining whirlwind. Delightful supporting characters that you will probably recognize from your own small town experience including two loveable dogs. No nasty talk or scenes of overt sex and it even gives mention to the fellow upstairs. Totally unbelievable, completely predictable, sappily sweet, but true romance all the way, if you’re a girl from the south this is a book not to be missed. -Flourish