Friday, October 14, 2011

The Most Recent Books I've Read

Last weekend our HD cable box died.  I mean dead as a doornail.  Black screen.  Nothing. 

So I had to read. 

I say that like it's a chore, but I enjoyed all four books I finished that weekend.  I have a few others that I read before the weekend, so here they all are.

Fools Rush In, by Kristan Higgins.  This one was definitely up to Kristan's standards.  I loved it.  Here's the blurb from Amazon:  "Millie Barnes is this close to finally achieving her perfect life…  Rewarding job as a local doctor on Cape Cod? Check. Cute cottage of her very own? Check. Adorable dog suitable for walks past attractive locals? Check! All she needs is for golden boy and former crush Joe Carpenter to notice her, and Millie will be set.  But perfection isn't as easy as it looks—especially when Sam Nickerson, a local policeman, is so distracting. He is definitely not part of her master plan. But maybe it's time for Millie to start a new list…"

Jane (I'm-Still-Single) Jones, by Joan Reeves.   Jane is a designer in New York City who goes to her ten-year high school reunion in small-town Louisiana.  The last person she wants to see there is the geeky boy who broke her heart when they were in school, but now he's a very successful, very rich, very hunky guy.  They immediately lock horns like neither wants anything to do with the other.  Slowly we learn the back story of the two former sweethearts, and of course, as in all romances, one thing leads to another, and the truth comes out.  It's an engaging book, although parts of the dialogue are a little hokey, but I enjoyed reading it and would recommend it to anyone who likes romances.

The Love Goddess' Cooking School, by Melissa Senate.  "Holly Maguire's grandmother Camilla was the Love Goddess of Blue Crab Island, Maine--a Milanese fortune-teller who could predict the right man for you, and whose Italian cooking was rumored to save marriages. Holly has been waiting years for her unlikely fortune: her true love will like sa cordula, an unappetizing old-world delicacy. But Holly can't make a decent marinara sauce, let alone sa cordula. Maybe that's why the man she hopes to marry breaks her heart. So when Holly inherits Camilla's Cucinotta, she's determined to forget about fortunes and love and become an Italian cooking teacher worthy of her grandmother's legacy. But Holly's four students are seeking much more than how to make Camilla's chicken alla Milanese. Simon, a single father, hopes to cook his way back into his daughter's heart. Juliet, Holly's childhood friend, hides a painful secret. Tamara, a serial dater, can't find the love she longs for. And twelve-year-old Mia thinks learning to cook will stop her dad, Liam, from marrying his phony lasagna-queen girlfriend. As the class gathers each week, adding Camilla's essential ingredients of wishes and memories in every pot and pan, unexpected friendships and romances are formed--and tested. Especially when Holly falls hard for Liam . . . and learns a thing or two about finding her own recipe for happiness."  This was a lovely book, and somewhat deeper than your basic romance.  I think I'd call it a mainstream novel.  

I got tired of reading romances, so I switched to a mystery:

Dick Francis's Gamble, by Felix Francis.  This is the first Francis novel penned solely by Felix, and it's just as good as all the other Francis novels. "Nicholas 'Foxy' Foxton, a former jockey who suffered a career- ending injury, is out for a day at the Grand National races when his friend and coworker Herb Kovak is murdered, execution style, right in front of him-and 60,000 other potential witnesses. Foxton and Kovak were both independent financial advisers at Lyall & Black, a firm specializing in extreme-risk investments. As he struggles to come to terms with Kovak's seemingly inexplicable death, Foxton begins to question everything, from how well he knew his friend to how much he understands about his employer. Was Kovak's murder a case of mistaken identity...or something more sinister?"  (Amazon)  This description of the book doesn't really address the excitement and suspense in Gamble.  It was a roller coaster ride throughout much of the book; an exhilarating read!  

Welcome to Temptation, by Jennifer Crusie.  "Prepare to be absolutely charmed by Jennifer Crusie's riotous tale of two slightly twisted sisters and a town chock full of hunks, coots, and petty politics in Welcome to Temptation.  Sophie and Amy Dempsey are just two wedding filmers trying to hop to the next level of their careers when they agree to produce a documentary of aging film star Clea Whipple's return to her hometown of Temptation, Ohio. But things are never easy in rural Ohio, and what starts off as an esoteric art film project soon evolves into potential porn.  Clea's husband Zane turns belly-up, the race for mayor turns dirty, and Sophie and Phin turn on the heat full steam.With clever characters and Crusie's trademark wit, Welcome to Temptation will keep your eyes glued to the page and your stomach aching with laughter." --Nancy R.E. O'Brien (Amazon review). 

The Violets of March, by Sarah Jio.  "In her twenties, Emily Wilson was on top of the world: she had a bestselling novel, a husband plucked from the pages of GQ, and a one-way ticket to happily ever after.  Ten years later, the tide has turned on Emily's good fortune. So when her great-aunt Bee invites her to spend the month of March on Bainbridge Island in Washington State, Emily accepts, longing to be healed by the sea. Researching her next book, Emily discovers a red velvet diary, dated 1943, whose contents reveal startling connections to her own life."  (Amazon).  Oh, this was a lovely story!  The "startling connections" get even more startling toward the end of the book, but it's all perfectly believable.  This is one of the four that I read on the fateful dead-cable-box weekend.  I was looking for something different from the run-of-the-mill romance and I found it in this novel.  I highly recommend it.

Daniel's Gift, by Barbara Freethy.  Daniel St. Claire is the 12-year-old son of a single mother, Jenny.  He wants very desperately to know his real father, but Jenny keeps putting him off.  Danny doesn't like Jenny's current boyfriend, a cop named Alan.  He finds out from snooping in his mother's closet what his father's name is, and he also finds out that his father has recently come back to San Francisco.  Luke Sheridan is a highly successful doctor in medical research who has followed his parents' expectations for him willingly throughout his life, and he thinks that he is happy and content.  When Danny shows up on Luke's door on the night of an important party, Luke's wife shuts the door in his face and tells Luke that it was just a kid selling candy.  On his way home on this foggy night, Danny is struck by a hit-and-run driver and seriously injured.  When Jenny finds out what Danny has done and also finds the house empty, she goes on a frantic search and goes to Luke's house.  It's during the party and the maid turns her away at the door.  When Luke asks the maid about the visitor at the door, she tells him Jenny's name and  he runs outside trying to catch her but she's already gone.  Luke reads about the accident and starts going to all the hospitals in town looking for Danny and Jenny.  When he and Jenny had parted thirteen years earlier, he was on his way to medical school and he gave her $500 and told her to get an abortion.  The accident leaves Danny with a serious brain injury and in a coma, but his spirit travels out of his body, accompanied by his guardian angel, Jacob.  (Freethy makes all this believable.)  Danny tries to get his parents to at least talk to each other and most of the book is taken up with the ups and downs of the story.  It's a very good novel, although in places it's a little more lightweight than I was expecting, but it was enjoyable.  I recommend it.  You'll love Danny.  He's a good kid.

And I will continue reading.  But, you know, it's October and I really should get back into my knitting.  I know I can do both (not at the same time!).  I just ordered some yarn to make a scarf and I need a quick project like that.  I read the Yarn Harlot's blog and am amazed by how much knitting she does.  I imagine her hands are a blur while she's knitting. 

Well, happy reading everybody.  And go knit something soft and cuddly.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Random Thursday/Friday in October

Anybody besides me getting tired of the Republicans' war on women?

I work in an academic library.  This semester, there has been a noticeable turnaround in the attitude of the student population.  They are more focused, more polite, and visit the library in greater numbers.  I hope this is because of a change in admission requirements and not just a fluke.

My boss retired.  The rest of us are sort of flopping around like fish out of water, trying to hold things together with a skeleton staff.  We've had a meeting with the administration and things should start happening in the not too distant future.  Keep your fingers crossed that everything goes well.

I know it's a little early to be talking about this, but Richard and I will be hosting the family at Thanksgiving this year.  Just like the dinner we had with them in March (or was it April?), we are looking forward to it.  Since my father-in-law passed away, there will only be seven places at the table rather than eight, and he will be missed.  I hope everybody has a good time anyway.  I know the food will be good (main course, deep-fried turkey). 

Even though I am a PC user, I was sad to hear of Steve Jobs's passing.  It made me want to go out and buy an iPad 2 in his honor.  What a genius!  I do have an iPod, so I'm not completely anti-Apple.  And I'm seriously contemplating that iPad 2. 

My friend Julie is having a beer-tasting this weekend.  I don't drink beer, so she's going to make me a Cosmopolitan or two (or ten).  Seriously, though, I'll probably stop at two, as I will be my own designated driver that evening. 

I got a little tired of taking Amazon's recommendations for books to download to my Kindle.  I started reading about five of them and got bored with every one.  So I am now reading a hardback copy of Dick Francis's Gamble, written by Felix Francis, his first on-his-own mystery since his father died.  I guess I wanted some variety.  I have a feeling that if I finish reading several of those Kindle books, I will be glad of it.  Maybe I was just missing mysteries.  I've put a few mysteries on my Christmas wish list. 

Speaking of Christmas, Richard and I blithely go through most of the year spending our separate disposable incomes on things of our own choosing, but as of October 1, there is a moratorium on both of us buying ourselves anything until after Christmas.  You never know what your spouse is going to come up with for Christmas gifts, hence the moratorium.  However, I told Richard he could spend money on camping gear ("Why, Mr. Richard, you know I don't know nothin' 'bout no campin' stuff!") and I can buy clothes.  Anyway...

The diet is going along nicely.  I can no longer stuff myself at mealtimes.  I would probably be in physical pain if I did.  And it was not even hard to decrease my food cravings.  I guess because I'm eating a more balanced diet and eating more low-calories things that fill me up and keep me satisfied longer.  Yay Duke Diet! 

The weather around here finally dropped out of the high 90s.  We've even put a blanket on our bed!  A couple of mornings it was down in the low 40s when I got up at oh-dark-hundred.  We just had more insulation added in our attic, and the other day Richard said he wished it would get really cold so we could find out if our house stays warmer. 

Okay, is that random enough for you?  I guess I was just feeling talky.  Take care.  Read a mystery.