Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What's In Your Mailbox

The Three Weissmanns of Westport
Cathleen Schine

In Schine's story, sisters Miranda, an impulsive but successful literary agent, and Annie, a pragmatic library director, quite unexpectedly find themselves the middle-aged products of a broken home. Dumped by her husband of nearly fifty years and then exiled from their elegant New York apartment by his mistress, Betty is forced to move to a small, run-down Westport, Connecticut, beach cottage. Joining her are Miranda and Annie, who dutifully comes along to keep an eye on her capricious mother and sister. As the sisters mingle with the suburban aristocracy, love starts to blossom for both of them, and they find themselves struggling with the dueling demands of reason and romance.

Staying True
Jenny Sanford

In this candid and compelling memoir, the first lady of South Carolina reveals the private ordeal behind her very public betrayal—and offers inspiration for anyone struggling to keep faith during life’s most trying times.

She’s been a successful investment banker, a mother of four, and the campaign manager for one of American politics’ rising stars—her husband, Mark Sanford of South Carolina, once widely hailed as a possible candidate for president in 2012. Yet to most Americans, Jenny Sanford is best known for the one role she refused to play—that of conventional political spouse standing silently by while her husband went before the media and confessed his infidelity. Instead, she stayed true—to herself, to her faith, and to her highest ideals of parenthood and public service. She chose to let Mark Sanford deal with the embarrassment and political fallout from his own actions while focusing her own efforts privately on raising their children to be men of character, even in the face of the lies their father has told.

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People
Farahad Zama

Mr Ali decides to open a marriage bureau that will cater for a wide range of Indian clients from all walks of life and, encouraged by the indomitable Mrs Ali, he has the good sense to appoint a local girl, Aruna, as his very able assistant. Under Mr Ali's and Aruna's imaginative care the marriage bureau flourishes as it sorts out the future for many happy clients, although meanwhile things are not running so smoothly for everyone in the office as Aruna is nursing a secret that threatens to break her heart, while Mr Ali is unable to see that he himself doesn't follow the wise advice he so readily offers to those who come for help...

Monday, March 29, 2010

2010 Reading From My Shelves Challenge

Goal: 50

1. How Green Was My Valley - Richard Llewellyn
2. The Sari Shop Widow - Shobhan Bantwal
3. The Diva Takes the Cake - Krista Davis
4. The Janus Stone - Elly Griffiths
5. September Society - Charles Finch
6. Death by Cashmere - Sally Goldenbaum
7. Fatal Fixer-Upper - Jennie Bentley
8. Wish You Were Here - Rita Mae Brown
9. The Princess Academy - Shannon Hale
10. Murder is Binding - Lorna Barrett
11. Maid for Murder - Barbara Colley
12. Sworn to Silence - Linda Castillo
13. Second Hand Spirits - Juliet Blackwell

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Cat, The Quilt and the Corpse

The Cat, The Quilt and the Corpse

LeAnn Sweeney

2 out of 5

This book was just bad. Maybe if you are cat obsessed there would be parts that would appeal to you, but for the rest of us, the monotony of characters that put more into their pets then into people runs out in about two chapters.

Jillian Hart, recently widowed, of course, spends her days making cat quilts for fellow cat fanciers. Somehow this obsession came to be when Jillian and her then living husband, rescued three abandoned cats while working in a shelter just after hurricane Katrina.

When Syrah, all the cats are named after wines, is stolen from her home, she spends money that she barely has to install a alarm / computer system that allows her to record what is going on with her pets all day. Through the use of her cell phone and the security system, rather James Bondish, Jillian is able to identify the cat-napper when there is a return visit for the other other cats. Of course, when she goes to confront him, he is found dead, which then leads Jillian on a redundant caper of trying to find the real killer.

I love cozies, I love the quirky characters and the slow meandering pace that leads to a happily-ever-after ending, but there was nothing unique about this book - it was too choppy and filled with characters that I could not find myself caring about. Unfortunately, I can't see myself reading the next in the series. Sweeney really needs to step up her game if she wants seasoned cozy readers to follow this series.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Summer on Blossom Street

Summer on Blossom Street

Debbie Macomber

4 out of 5

Of all of Debbie's series, I enjoy this one the best. Many of her other books make the women sound like whiny victims, but the voices on Blossom Street, are much stronger and more in control of their lives. Something that is very lacking in much of women's fiction.

Like the other books in this series, the comings and goings of enjoyable characters keeps me coming back. Book six takes us once again to the quilt shop where Lydia hosts a Knit to Quit class. This class if for people looking to quit something or maybe even someone.

With new characters and the reappearance of likable familiar ones, once again Macomber entwines just enough new with old and moves these woman forward into surprising new directions. Though each woman, and a man, move at their own pace, they are always brought back to where they need to be, whether it be expanding their horizons or knowing that home is always the best place to be, the women of Blossom Street are there for each other and on occasion bring new and exciting people with them on their journey.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

How Green Was My Valley

How Green Was My Valley

Richard Llewelyn

4 out of 5

Though a vivid portrayal of Welch life, I found it hard to fully get into the flow of the language of this book, the middle bogs down, with a bit too much repetition, and some characters are glossed over a little too much for my liking.

Llewelyn draws the picture of life for Huw Morgan and the hardscrabble life of his brothers, parents and friends in a very difficult time. Coal mining is what the Morgan family was all about, this was their life, their valley and their existence so when the mining companies make the Morgan family's way of living unbearable, the Morgan boys had no choice but to rise up against the oppression and there goes the beauty that was once their lives.

Huw makes this story come alive. Through the eyes of the innocent, then the dawning adolescence and finally the man that has been through love and heartbreak, we see the valley that Huw loved so much. Llwelyn's first person narrative allows us to see each character through Huw's eyes. The eyes that grow with time and with maturity.

I can see the charm of this book growing with each reader. There are many layers and with each readers personal experiences each will see this book differently. If you have read it in the past, re-read it again and you will see why this book is a classic.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Jenniemae & James

Jenniemae & James

Brooke Newman

4 out of 5

Whoever wrote the initial book flap of this book really didn't read beyond the third chapter because the whole gambling and numbers thing is only a very small part of this book.

The brilliant mathematician James Newman might understand numbers and their place in the world but when it comes to running his home and the multiple women in his life he is at a loss. When James sees that his wife is not able to run their DC home in the way it should be, he decides to let Jenniemae in. A choice that was monumental in both their lives . Jenniemae a no nonsense woman with unique words of wisdom soon see's what the Newman household is all about and in her own - sometimes forceful and sometimes gentle- ways brings a very needy family together.

Though Brooke tells a story of her upbringing, she uses a voice and placement that she truly could not be a part of. How did she know what went on in private conversations? Conversations that seemingly went on for pages. How did she know what was going on in the heads of others - for most of the book she was a child. Billed as a memoir, which I think means "this is what I remember and might not actually be the truth," Brooke tells the story of two very remarkable people trying to do the best they can with what they have been given.