CIMG2331This weekend, one of my best friends got married, and I got to be a part of it - and a part of something even bigger.

Eric and I have known each other for half our lives, and though we don't often see each other, we're never more than a phone call, an email or a letter (written in multi-coloured pens) away.

I was so honored to be invited to his wedding to Megan, and better yet, to be asked to be a part of the ceremony - I couldn't have been more proud.

The wedding was flawless, the bride was beautiful, and the groom was the happiest I've seen.

But there was something even bigger for me...

I live in a small town where I don't have any family.

My immediately family is hours away.

The rest of them are at a minimum a plane ride across an ocean, at least 9 hours away.

CIMG2395This weekend, I was surrounded by the warmth of joviality, embraced by two families, and a part of a celebration of all that is good in the world.

Food, hugs, dancing, love, beauty, music and laughter.

I met wonderful people, I hugged new friends, for a weekend I became part of a family.

Thank you, Megan and Eric, for making me a part of your family.

My best wishes and congratulations for a long and happy life filled with food, hugs, dancing, love, beauty, music and laughter - but free of astroturf. ;-)

(The entire weekend's photoset is right here)

The Guy Not Taken by Jennifer Weiner

I have been a huge fan of Weiner's since her debut novel, Good in Bed, so I was thrilled to see a new title come across our shelves!

This is a compilation of stories written by Weiner from when she was a budding writer to today - some are funny, some are poignant, and with all of them, I hated that they were short stories! I wanted to read more, know more about the characters, and hated when the story ended!

Weiner's writing is crisp and witty, and her characters flawed and real, and I especially loved her inclusion at the end a snippet about each story - it's origins, when it was first published and so forth.

I heart Jennifer Weiner - a great read!

pom_blackberryblackI admit it, I'm a sucker for snifty packaging.

When I was in Wild Oats recently, I had to pick up the new Blackberry tea from PomWonderful - the pomegranate juice company.

The tea comes in a glass (glass!) container, with a metal top so that you can reuse the glass, keep your drinks from spilling, and look cool all at the same time.

The tea was tasty, and I'm still using the glass!

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka

The blurb on the front cover says "Two years after my mother died, my father fell in love with a glamorous blond Ukrainian divorcee. He was eighty-four and she was thirty-six. She exploded into our lives like a fluffy pink grenade..."

If that doesn't catch your eye, then the title will!

This novel (nominated for the Man Booker Prize) is a strange mix of unrequited love, cruelty between men and women, sisterly fighting and bonding, and a Ukrainian's love of all things material. I enjoyed the "pidgin English" style of the father and wife (I could hear my own grandfather's broken English), but found some of the plot a bit repetitive in its relentless cruelty and lack of conclusion. However, the ending was a nice twist and had a nice bow on top, and I found myself happy at the end with the conclusion.

This is not a fluffy novel, though the title may look like it. In her debut, Lewycka weaves past and present, old and young, conflict and resolution into 300 scant pages. If you enjoy family drama or cultural explorations in literature, then this is the title for you.

The Divide by Nicholas Evans

This title was recommended to me by our Bookmobile Lady, and I mostly agreed because Scott Brick *rawr* narrated the book on CD.

As it turns out, I was totally swept into this story. Though it starts slowly and it has one of those "the beginning is actually the end" styles, over the course of listening to the book I became entrenched in the characters, the emotion and the rift between one family.

Evans jumps back and forth (sometimes rapidly) between past and present, keeping the reader engaged in the story - which begins (and ends) with the death of Abbie Cooper, beloved daughter and sister, who was also wanted on charges of ecoterrorism. The story centers on her family before and after the tragic event.

I really enjoyed this novel, despite my early reservations. Recommended!

Note: I listened to the audio version, narrated by Scott Brick. In anyone less skilled, this could have been a jumbly, confusing mess, but with Mr. Brick, it's smooth, engaging, and made sense. Brick for President!

This book is delicious. :-)

First of all, I love chick lit. Second of all, I'm addicted to HGTV. So what happens when you combine the two? This book!

Lily is a newly hired designer on a "Trading Spaces" type show on Bravo, and has to deal with interior design, two best friends and their dramas, her own dating disasters, therapy for her two gay friends, a sexy movie star, a catty co-star and a contract renewal. All in all, this makes for fun, fast, entertaining reading with great characters, funny lines and cheeky men.

I thoroughly enjoyed this title, and the peek inside the goings-on of a design show. Of course, now I'm angling to buy some paint, a new sofa and to see if I have hardwood floors beneath my carpet...

I recently ordered the DVDs of Due South, and my, I had forgotten how very attractive Paul Gross was in that show.

I described him to my mother thus: "He was my Colin Firth before I knew Colin Firth!"

Not to mention, I just heart the show - Ray Vecchio, his 1971 Buick Riviera, Diefenbaker and more.

Yay for happy DVD purchases!

Any other Duesies out there?

I have oodles of lovely men's shirts for sale over at eBay, if anyone needs to get a jump on their fall wardrobe!

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

This is the title I selected for our book discussion at the library month, based mostly on the fact they enjoyed our previous Kingsolver read, and that I can find a few discussion questions to go with it!

As it turns out, I really enjoyed this novel - Kingsolver's writing is just flowing and lyrical, and you are immediately engaged and rooting for her characters. Taylor Greer is our heroine, as she treks to Tucson in a beat up car and acquires a baby, new friends, a love, a job and a sense of self along the way.

I've not read Kingsolver's "most famous" novel (The Poisonwood Bible) but I've truly enjoyed her writing in the other books I've read. Recommended!

What happens when you cross bluegrass with rock and a dash of comedy?

The Cousin Brothers.

They are a Hoosier band that's making waves in Indy, so if you are in the area tonight, be sure to support them for Round Two of Battle of the Bands. Be sure to visit their website too (designed by none other than moi). :-)

CIMG2125What do you do when you have lots of tote bags, pens, freebies, galley proofs, donated books and more floating around your library?

Host a Book Bingo, of course!

A few weeks ago, I teamed up with our Youth librarian to have a night of bingo at the library, and the meeting room was packed! Everyone who won a round had their choice from all kinds of goodies - and we didn't spend a dime except for popcorn and drinks!

We were told that bingo HAS to last at least 2 hours next time, and that we should do it quarterly. We've already booked our next Book Bingo night. :-)

Here was my favorite part:

CIMG2127We had about 50 of those annoying troll dolls that were popular a few years ago. We had lots of special rounds, and during one of them, we told them the winner would get to choose how many of the trolls they would like.

So we start the round, and a few minutes later, we hear "Bingo!" from the back of the room. This boy, maybe 10 or 12 years old, was our winner. After verifying his numbers, we asked how many of these uglyass trolls he would like.

You know what he said?

He wanted one for every person in the room, so that everyone got a prize for the evening.

We had just enough trolls, and they became the lucky charm for all our attendees.

Isn't that the sweetest thing?

Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas

I was drawn to this slim memoir not only by the positive reviews it has been receiving or the blurb from Stephen King on the front, but from the cover photo that graces it.

Thomas was happily married for 12 years when one day, her husband was in an accident and suffered memory loss, brain damage, and was no longer able to function in her life without fulltime care.

Even after reading and ruminating about this memoir, I'm not sure how I feel - at time I love the author, and at times I hate her. At times I hate the story, and at times I love it. In any case, it is well-written and engaging, though I find myself revisiting the tale, and wondering "what would I do?"

An interesting memoir on the life of a woman who isn't sure if it is best to move forward or back.

Haunted by Meg Cabot

I've been working my way through Cabot's YA series The Mediator, and this is #5 of the series.

And once again, I love the story about Suze - a mediator who can see ghosts that haven't passed on to "the other side". And oh yeah, she's in love with a ghost of her own...

Cabot's YA series are smart, funny, and engaging, and this one is no exception. I'm a big fan!