Per annual tradition, I will be watching the NASCAR Banquet tonight with my girl De, commenting on every second of the glitzy (sometimes awkward) event. It's worth sitting through the commercials to see the guys in tuxes, hear the sometimes painful speeches, and see how cringe-worthy the production can make it.

I haven't been as dedicated a NASCAR fan this year for a bevy of reasons (much like most other "old fans" I know), but I'm still proud to have a 48 sticker on my car.

Congratulations to Jimmie Johnson, and especially Chad Knaus, for their second championship!

We're proud of you, guys!

(Fine lookin' boys, no?)


So Much For My Happy Ending by Kyra Davis

I liked the cover of this novel, and thought it sounded like a different kind of chick lit - perfect for reading on vacation.

Though it has elements of chick lit (fashion, friends, booze, canoodling), this read quickly breaks the mold of all the other "cookie cutter" novels and almost becomes suspense. April and Tad fall madly in love, and he proposes after only three months. But shortly after their marriage, things begin to unravel as Tad spirals further and further out of control - money issues, threats, lying are just the tip of the iceberg as Tad quietly goes mad.

I had to keep reading to see when April would extricate herself from the situation, when things were finally going to come to a head - just like a car crash, I couldn't look away.

This is a smart, well written, different kind of chick lit novel - I really enjoyed it!


So, there's a reason (well, several, but one big one) I haven't really been blogging much this November.


Just this morning, I finally completed my fifth (FIFTH?!) novel, had it validated and printed off my completion certificate (damn straight every single one hangs in the director's office at APL!).

And then I took a nap.

Because after churning out 50,000 words, I earned it. :-)

Here's what I posted when I finished...


It's been a helluva ride this November.

Through work crises, the death of a fellow employee, Thanksgiving in TinyTown, a trip to a conference in Indy, a visit from my parents and being lost in Shawneetown, somehow I've managed to squeak out a novel.

It's not very good, but it's mine.

And it's DONE.

I'd be remiss without a few thank yous...

Thanks, as always, to my parents for their support and encouragement, and for being willing to leave Thanksgiving two days early so that I could write.

Thanks for Jen, for her dares, her snarky emails, and for kicking my ass in the wordcount until the end. Sorry there wasn't room for more bondage. ;-) (Uh, it's a long story.)

Thanks to De, for reading every word I write and encouraging me along the way.

And thanks to all the nameless, faceless readers who enjoy what I put on the page. You are the reason I write.

Until next year...


And now back to your regularly scheduled blogging...


Thanksgiving has come and gone for another year, but this time the Priddis clan shook it up a bit - Thanksgiving was at MY house.

I know, the rights of passage into adulthood just keep piling up.

(As an aside, can I just say I love it when people ask "How do you British celebrate Thanksgiving?" Now, stop and think about that for a sec. Yeah, exactly. But it always makes me laugh because someone ALWAYS asks.)

Anyhoo, the holiday went well with only a few minor hiccups (maple bacon instead of regular, a deplorable lack of a gravy boat), and of course, I documented the whole shebang...

I had my hair dyed red (really, really red):


I made that all by myself!

November 22

Dad rectified the hideous gravy boat blunder:

Gravy Boat Solution

Don and Michelle paid a surprise visit to TinyTown!

November 23

Dad bought pink roses for his "pink girls":

Dad's Roses

And I'm ready to rock the Christmas season:

November 24

I hope your Thanksgiving was equally super!


All Through the Night by Suzanne Brockmann

As y'all know, if it has Brockmann's name on it, I'm going to love it, and this Christmas novella (bordering pretty close to novel length, if you ask me), is no exception.

Team 16 is back in action, this time to attend the wedding of Jules and Robin, the flagship gay couple of Brockmann's series. Of course, with the Troubleshooters involved, there is threat and disaster at every turn - a bathroom remodel gone awry, a try to Afghanistan, a crazed stalker, and a lot of love and romance.

This is a great novel - light on the Christmas, heavy on the romance - with Brockmann's trademark humor, action, suspense and sex. I'm so glad to see Jules finally get his guy!

Highly recommended if you are a Troubleshooter fan! :-)


Before I Die by Jenny Downham

I was given this ARC by our YA librarian shortly after I read Thirteen Reasons Why, but I put off reading it - both deal with teen death, and I didn't want to dilute my experience of Thirteen in any way.

In this novel, Londoner Tessa is dying of leukemia, and has a list of things to do before she dies - sex, drugs, breaking the law, and saying yes to everything for a day. This novel follows the last few months of her life, but without sentimentality or treacly subtext. At times, you hate Tessa, and at times you root for her to magically get better, but you have to finish her story, either way.

This is a well written, moving novel - far above all those Lurlene McDaniel novels from when *I* was a kid about teens dying.


The Quickie by James Patterson

I seem to be the only person at the library not enamored with James Patterson. I've listened to a few of this suspense novels and found But this stand-alone novel was recommended to me by the Bookmobile Lady, so I gave it a shot.

This novel is incredibly easy to read, with Patterson's trademark quickfire chapters (sometimes only a page long) with lots of little cliffhangers throughout. Lauren is having marital problems and decides to exact revenge by having a "quickie" - only to witness a gruesome murder with her lover turning up dead. The rest of the novel involves her trying to extricate herself from the situation...

I found the ending really flat and uninspired, but I actually enjoyed this novel more than I thought I would, so that's something! Perhaps I'll try another stand-alone novel in the future...


Christmas Letters by Debbie Macomber

I asked my friend Mary to pick out some good "Christmas novels" for me to read on vacation, and this was part of that stack from perennial favorite Macomber.

Two very different personalities, Wynn and K.O. clash around the holidays about a difference of opinion regarding Wynn's latest bestseller. Instead of being at each other's throats, they find romance despite a rocky start with a little help from a neighbor psychic, a fabulous restaurant, and two unruly kids.

This is a cute story, very easy to read, with great characters. Yay!


The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

We recently had a display at the library featuring favorite childhood books of the staff, and this book was a part of the display. I hadn't read this since elementary school and only had fuzzy memories of it, so I wanted to give it a reread.

Not at all what I remembered!

I remembered much more fear of the "Blackbird Pond witch" and of the main character being found to be a witch and killed. While an important part of the story, this also centers around the pioneer spirit of America in 1687, a teenage romance, finding a new family, and the trial of the character for being a witch.

I was actually surprised by the sophistication of language and context of this novel, and I definitely enjoyed it more this time than when I was forced to read it in fourth grade!

Glad for a reread on this one...glad to see a novel written in 1957 is still part of curriculums today...


Okay, so I've been a bit negligent in updating my wee blog, except for book reviews to keep myself straight. Let's see what's been going on with me and TinyTown for the last, oh, month or so...

I got a new toilet, which was good news, because this was vaguely alarming to come home to...

October 24

The fam got together for a fabu steak dinner in Indy to remember Grandpa...

October 27

My friend Jen and I rented a cabin in the woods to have a "girls weekend"...bliss...

October 28

I finally visited the Garden of the Gods in southern Illinois...breathtaking...

November 2

I celebrated Halloween with my co-workers...

October 31

I touched the Lombardi trophy, tried on a Super Bowl ring and hugged the Colts mascot during the ILF Annual Conference...

November 14

And sadly, we lost a fellow employee and friend unexpectedly at APL last week. Nancy worked for the library for ten years, and her passing was sudden and shocking. I closed the library the day she died, and again for her funeral, and the staff put on a lunch for the family following the service, which the family so appreciated. It was a rough week, but we were through it together...

November 8
(APL gone dark)

Aside from that, mostly I've been spending every spare minute in front of a computer writing my fifth novel, rather than blogging or Flickring. ;-)

November 4

Once NaNo is done (November 30), I promise I'll be back! Right now, I have to go prep for Turkey Day...the fam is coming here this year, so I'm in charge of the dinner - a rite of passage into adulthood. I'm not sure I'm ready to be a grown-up yet, but I'll try!

Happy Thanksgiving!

No Place Like Home by Fern Michaels

I'm trying to continue the tradition I started last year of reading a few Christmas novels so that I can a) get into the holiday spirit and b) recommend titles to patrons who are looking for light and happy Christmas tales c) pad the number of titles I've read this year ;-) .

This one is decidedly light and fluffy...the Cisco triplets have found out that their father is marrying a gold digger, their grandmother is unhappily ensconced in an assisted living facility, and Christmas is right around the corner. Naturally, going on the lam with grandma, finding love and reconciling with their father is on the to-do list. ;-)

This is a very easy to read, fluffy tale, but I have to give it to Michaels - though there was (very conveniently placed) romance, it didn't dominate the tale, like so many wintery novels do. If you like Michaels' other novels, you'll enjoy this slim novella...


Lakshmi Sen is a dutiful Bengali daughter, living in Seattle and helping her mother run their sari shop - but Lakshmi Sen has the "knowing", the ability to know what saris women need to grow, to heal, to love.

Despite an upcoming arranged marriage, Lakskmi finds herself falling for a American named Nick, and struggles through the book to find her heart and help those around her as they struggle with their own problems and demons.

This is an easy novel to read - meandering at times, but with lush colours and characters. The romance fell a bit flat for me, but I enjoyed dipping into another culture for a few hours, picturing the foods, the colours, the voices.


Blue Dahlia by Nora Roberts

This is the first in the "In the Garden" series by Roberts, which combines a romance novel with a bit of the paranormal.

Widow Stella moves to Memphis in order to take a job managing a nursery and to start over with her two young boys. She immediately falls in love with the job and her new home, as well as with her coworkers - one in particular. This is actually a novel about three women and their trials and friendship (continued in the next two books are the stories about the other two characters), while also weaving in a new romance and the Harper Bride - a ghost who wanders their home.

This is another engaging series from Roberts, and I'll be reading the other two so I can see "how it ends". Recommended!

Note: I listened to the audio edition, ably narrated by Susie Breck. Breck does a good job with all the accents, and her rendition of the two boys is particularly delightful. A pleasant listen.


The Snow Bride by Debbie Macomber

I haven't read many Christmas novels, so I thought I would grab one for my trip to Indy from novelist Macomber, who has quite a few to choose from!

Practical Jenna Campbell leaves her life behind to travel to Alaska to meet, and hopefully marry, a man she met on the internet. Instead, she finds herself Snowbound in a town called Snowbound with the last man she could ever fall for. Finding herself the only woman in this small town, she comes to find friends, purpose - and love.

This is a short, sweet novel which doesn't have any sort of Christmas theme other than snow, but enjoyable nonetheless!


The Sleeping Beauty Proposal by Sarah Strohmeyer

I really enjoyed Strohmeyer's The Cinderella Pact, so I was looking forward to another stand-alone novel from this author of the Bubbles series.

Genie Michaels is gobsmacked when her boyfriend of four years, a famous author, proposes marriage on national television - but not to her. Instead of facing defeat, she keeps her chin up, buys a ring - and pretends to be engaged anyway.

Of course, miscommunication, deception and hilarity ensue, but with Strohmeyer's heart and wit. This is a fun novel about the lack of benefits of being single, about finding your dream home, and falling for the right man, at the right time.

A fun novel!


Forbidden by Suzanne Brockmann

After the trying events of the last few days, I really wanted a short, silly romance novel to get lost in for a few hours, and as usual, Brockmann delivers with this paperback romance with a bit of adventure thrown in.

When Kayla meets cowboy Cal on a trip to find the brother of one of her dearest friends (who went missing), sparks fly - until she realizes that Cal is the brother she's looking for. What follows is a lot of sexual tension, a trip to a repressed Caribbean country, a daring charade, and of course, romance.

This was the perfect cotton candy story to get lost in for a few hours...


Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

One of my patrons told me this summer that this was one of the best books she's ever read, so it's been sitting on my TBR list for a while.

Taking place in 1860s China, this novel details the lives of two "old sames", Lily and Snow Flower who are matched up as children to be lifelong friends. The story follows their footbinding agonies, their matchmaking and marriages, their survival, and how their friendship endures through all they encounter.

This is a lovely character novel, and I was completely swept away by the cultural and historical setting - as a fan of Amy Tan and Arthur Golden, this is along the similar vein so I really loved it.

A great novel!


Run by Ann Patchett

I was mesmerized by Patchett's breakthrough novel, Bel Canto, so I was eager to read her newest fiction addition.

This novel takes place over the course of 24 hours, chronicling how several lives can intersect in an instant. It revolves around Tip and Teddy, two black brothers given up for adoption and adopted by the Doyles, a rich white family. Also a part of this story is a good Samaritan with a secret, a young girl with promise and the swiftest of feet, the forgotten biological son and an elderly uncle, as well as the overprotective father.

This is not an action-packed novel, but rather a slow, measured character study filled with lovely prose and striking images. Though you know how it will end, you will enjoy the journey to get there - I really found myself wanting to read more about this unorthodox family...

This is a difficult novel to summarize, but it's well worth the read - particularly if you enjoyed Bel Canto.