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Queen of Babble Gets Hitched by Meg Cabot

Okay, y'all know I'm a huge fan of fellow Hoosier and rockin' writer Meg Cabot.

So you're going to have to excuse me while I go all fangirl for a second.

Meg Cabot herself sent me the ARC of this book (and of the newest Allie Finkle!).



*squeals in a very undignified way*

Okay, now that that's out of the way...

This is the concluding title in the "Queen of Babble" series by Cabot, one of her series written for adult readers, and man, did Cabot leave us with a cliffhanger in the second novel!

Lizzie Nichols (wedding dress restorer extraordinaire) has finally found a satisfying job, a great place to live in New York, so now she only has one problem: deciding between the Frenchman who just proposed marriage on her front doorstep and the hottie that is laying in her bed upstairs...

Decisions, decisions....

This is another fun, fast, feisty read from Cabot, replete with pop culture references, laugh out loud moments, and a lot of romantic tension as Lizzie tries to decide which boy is going to be hers, Luke or Chaz, Luke or Chaz...

I know which one I was rooting for. ;-)

You absolutely should read the other two books in the series before grabbing this one from the shelf, but rest assured, it's a satisfying conclusion to the series. Great fun!

Highly recommended!

(Thanks for the books, Meg!)


In The Woods by Tana French

I admit, I was a bit skeptical when I received this book for review from the lovely ladies at FSB.

I mean, it's pretty long.

And I'm not a big, huge mystery reader, generally.

But I decided to dive in and give it a go.

After only a few pages, I was completely hooked, and I've barely been able to put this book down for the last few days, even staying up late last night to finally reach the conclusion.

Twenty years ago, twelve year old Adam Ryan was found covered in blood in the woods, his two best friends having vanished and presumed dead. Now, twenty years later, Ryan is a murder detective who has just caught the case of a lifetime - a dead girl found in the very same woods in Ireland.

This is a wonderfully plotted, wonderfully twisted, wonderfully woven novel, filled with complex characters and a great mystery. I adored the relationship French created between Ryan and his partner. The novel is lush with detail - it took a while for me to just let it flow, instead of thinking "oh get on with it, already!". If you are looking for Patterson (which is written like "mystery lite" in my opinion), this isn't for you - but, if you are looking for literary fiction in the form of a mystery, this is absolutely a great read. No wonder it was an Edgar Award finalist...

I love it when books surprise me, and this one did: surprised me in how much I really got into it. One aspect of the ending really burned me, but otherwise, a satisfying, weighty, wonderful read.

Highly recommended!

(link to my Crucial Pop review)


This just makes me sick.

I mean, physically sick.

On Saturday night, someone vandalized our Bookmobile.

And I don't mean a spray painted the outside or tried to puncture a tire.

I mean, they ripped out the dash, boogered all the mechanical wiring, trashed the interior, broke out a window with a 2x4 and sprayed glass everywhere, stole library materials, kicked out the emergency window, cut computer and satellite wiring, and also stole thousands of dollars worth of satellite equipment - equipment that is useless to them without the satellite or the data transfer software.

We are looking at, conservatively, at least $10,000 to $15,000 worth of damage.

I just don't understand...why would someone do this? I mean, the BOOKMOBILE?

And the irony? Even though they took tons of CDs and books, we found them all neatly boxed up on our playground or stacked behind the building. They didn't even take anything.

They just...trashed it.

It really does make me sick what people will do to a good thing...


The photo evidence:

Destruction of the Bookmobile
The trashed interior (and part of a TinyTown cop).

Not Going to Move
The dash, completely ripped out, thus rendering the Bookmobile unable to move.

Glass Everywhere
Shattered glass everywhere and a busted screen from the patron door.

Smashed Bookmobile Window
The busted out window (on the top left)

I weep for the future, if this is what the youth of today will do for fun...

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The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

After so enjoying Allen's Garden Spells, I picked up her most recent novel during a spree at Barnes & Noble this past week (I love shiny new books!).

The Sugar Queen is another book set in North Carolina with a sad, downtrodden protagonist with a good heart and a fairy godmother, this time in the form of Della Lee, who takes up residence in shy, quiet Josey Cirrini's bedroom closet - the same closet where Josey squirrels away her favorite sweets, away from the prying eyes of her overbearing mother.

This novel weaves in the bonds of family and the strength of new friendships, while exploring a new love for Josey, and the strength to stand on one's own two feet, out of the shadows...

And maybe Josey doesn't need those SweeTarts and pecan rolls after all...

This is another gentle novel that will transport the reader into a lovely world for a few hours. While not as magical (to me) as Garden Spells, I still so enjoyed this novel.

Highly recommended!


Summer Reading Program at APL is in full swing (Exercise Your Mind...Read!), and we've had some super programs this week!

Sidewalk Chalk creations...we had sidewalk chalk decorating all the library sidewalks, a mural painted for the youth services area, and of course, snacks!

June 18

My favorite, though, was the steel drum band we had come play. We put them right outside, so the whole downtown could enjoy the sounds of calypso! Everyone brought lawn chairs and blankets, and we had a great time!

June 19

Of course, I was also a big fan of our "Caribbean" buffet table: we served "Tropical Punch" (red Kool-Aid), "Fresh Seafood" (Goldfish crackers), and "Roast Pig" (cocktail wienies in sauce). :-)

"Fresh Seafood"

I love my library!

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Church of the Dog by Kaya McLaren

The lovely folks at FSB sent me a shiny new copy of this novel, which sounded like it would blend it beautifully with my recent reading of Garden Spells - especially when Karen Addison Allen blurbed this book herself!

This novel is told in the narrative voice of four characters - Mara, the dreamy outside, Daniel, the grandson fighting to find his life, Earl, who runs a ranch and knows he's not long for this world, and Edith, his devoted farmwife. I really liked the switching points of view as these four characters intersect, interact, and form their own family out in the wilds of the cattle ranch Earl owns. There are other characters, of course (Daniel's roommates provide a lot of levity), but the points of view remain the same throughout the book.

This novel has a touch of mysticism, in that Mara can see auras, and can travel through dreams, and has some unique views on the institution of churches, which make it thought provoking but not in a "beat you over the head" way. I also love the visual imagery of the story - from Mara's self created "Church of the Dog" to the scenes in the snow to the everyday workings of a cattle ranch - all of it is told in lovely and evocative prose.

This is a gentle book - quiet writing and warm characters - where there are a few huge events, but the equilibrium of the book never tilts the reader completely over, if you know what I mean. A perfect read for an afternoon on a shady front porch with a glass of lemonade nearby (well, that's how I read it, anyway). Recommended!


Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich

Evanovich is back with the fourteenth novel in the "Stephanie Plum" series. Stephanie is a hapless bounty hunter with lots of luck, little talent, two sexy men, a crazy grandmother and a revolving door of crappy cars and crappier jobs, and this novel is no exception.

Evanovich has added a few new quirky characters to the tried and true formula - Stephanie gets pulled into a much bigger bounty hunter job than she intended, and when dead bodies start piling up, she tries to hold it together...not to mention in the mix a crazy aging rock star, a spray painted dog, and Lula and Tank - getting married.

This is another fun, fast, feisty read - I know these books are formulaic, but they are just so much fun. They don't take themselves seriously, and at least once per book, I actually laugh out loud. That's good times.

If you haven't read this series...what, do you live in a cave?! ;-)



Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz

This was the last of my YA shebang last week, picked up on the recommendation of Trish, our YA librarian. This is part Gossip Girls, part vampire tale, and all easy to read and dishy fun.

I really liked this new twist on the same vampire tale: the "Four Hundred" are the Blue Bloods, the vampires who basically run New York as the rich and powerful. But their history dates back to the Mayflower, and a Roanoke mystery...and now, something is hunting them...

Caught up in all this are the kids of Duchesne, a rich kids school where everything is about designers, appearances, hook ups...and blood.

This was a fast and feisty read, with an intriguing take on vampires set in a modern setting, perfect for the YA set. I'll definitely be reading the follow up soon, Masquerade. Recommended!


June 7Well, we did it.

In typical Priddis family style, we thrashed, we ate, we laughed, we sweated, we walked, we napped, we thrashed some more, and we made it 15 hours at the track in a row without air conditioning or a shower at TinyTown's annual Relay for Life.

We had a few changes this year:

*Mum didn't walk the survivor lap, as she is still "chemo girl", so we walked for her. Proudly.

*Michelle and Don came down for the weekend, joining in the festivities (thereby, the entire family missed the colossal flooding in Columbus, the most notable of which has shut down the hospital for months. Luckily, all the houses survived).
Priddis Giggle
*We actually won a basket from the Basket Booth! (Well, Dad did. Way to go, Dad!)

*We had a rainbow of shirts to wear, we sweated right through them, but we made it all the way through the luminary ceremony without a costume change

*This year, I was asked to help read the names of the "in honor" and "in memory" luminarias, which was an amazing experience. It's completely dark but for the candles, and then the names of every survivor, and those we've lost, are read.

But most of all, we did it.

As a whole family.

Father and DaughterInitial reports place our Relay as raising $105,000 - not bad for a town of 7500 souls.

And I'm so grateful to the people who helped me raise more than $1200 of it.

You are my stars.

But really, truly, Mum, you are the biggest star.

You are a big damn chemo taking, straw hat stealing, court holding, camel mode, cancer kicking rock star.

I'm so proud to be your daughter, and so proud of your fight to kick cancer's ass.

That makes all the sweat, work, tears, pain, money and time so, so worth it.

Until next June...

Surprise Fireworks!
The candles on the opposite stands read "Cure". When I stepped out of the booth after reading all those "in memory" names of those who have lost their battle and then saw the candles and the fireworks and then that word, I burst into tears.

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Between, Georgia by Joshilyn Jackson

This was the last of Jackson's novels for me to read, coming on the heels of my reading The Girl Who Stopped Swimming. We are once again transported to the South for a character-driven story of family, family obligations, love, lust and a little bit of crazy.

Nonny is "in between" the Hatfield/McCoy version of Between, Georgia (population, 90), only she is between the Fretts and the Crabtrees, who have feuded for ever and a day. Throw in a blind, deaf mama, a couple of crazy aunts, some hellish dogs, a bit of romance, a little girl and as I said, a wee bit of crazy, and you have this novel. It took me a while to get the mythology of the town and the families straight, but after that, you just go where Jackson pulls you, right into the fire of the novel.

I still think gods in Alabama was my favorite novel of Jackson's, but this was another quirky, Southern read chock full of characters you'll keep thinking about.



Chloe Doe by Suzanne Phillips

I picked up an ARC of this novel eons again, but somehow never got around to reading it, so I added it to my YA weekend stack, and found it the most disappointing of all I read this weekend.

This is basically James Frey's Million Little Pieces, but for the YA set. Chloe is a former prostitute now in a detention center, forced to sit in therapy and earn points for a hairbrush or toothpaste. Naturally, there is family drama that drove her to the streets, but the story is telegraphed from the very first page.

This seems pretty hardcore for most YA novels - racier language and topics than most - but even so, it just didn't resonate with me. I mostly just wanted it to be over, which is never a good sign.

This might be a good fit for something, just not for me...


Summer Boys by Hailey Abbott

I haven't ventured down into our young adult area for a while, so I grabbed several YA books the other day, intending to switch gears for the weekend and read about the younger set, and this novel was first up.

Cousins Ella, Beth and Jamie are spending the summer on the coast of Maine, where they pass every summer, but this one will be different - Jamie will reunite with her boyfriend from last summer, Beth's feelings towards her best friend George will begin to grow and change, and Ella will once again be on the hunt for a boy - too bad she has her heart set on her sister's new boyfriend...

This is a typical YA "beach read" - parties and hookups, breakups and broken hearts, friends and family coming through in the end, and nothing ending where it started. This is an easy read of a novel, but satisfying for reading on the beach while watching the boys cruise by...


Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

I almost don't want to write this review.

I'm afraid if I try to summarize or "sound bite" this novel, it will lose the magic it has given me since the minute I read opening the cover and pouring through it to the last page.

This is a warm, wonderful, magical, luminous, precious, gentle, perfect morsel of a novel.

Set in North Carolina, this is the story of the Waverley sisters (Sydney and Claire), as different as sisters could be but for the magic they hold within them, and the pull of family they both feel. What follows is a novel of flowers and magic, apple trees and love, running, hiding and finding exactly where you belong. Allen's writing is simple and lovely, and I was instantly transported into the garden of the Waverley women, reluctant to let go. I wish I'd read this slower, so I could enjoy it longer, and now that I'm done, I'm already missing the characters, wondering..."what happens next?"

This is a lovely fairy tale of a novel, and I can't recommend it enough. Sigh.

(Link to my Crucial Pop review)


Lovehampton by Sherri Rifkin

So, basically all I know about The Hamptons is what I see on Ina Garten's cooking show on the Food Network and that it's, you know, pretty and stuff.

This novel throws the lid right off of The Hamptons and gets right to the dishy center!

Rifkin (who has written for Bravo, which sold me immediately) has penned a funny, dishy, "inside look" romance novel of "Miller", who spends a summer as part of a house share in the Hamptons with a number of strangers. Party after party, summer romance(s), a business in the city, gossip, fast cars and a transformation made for television pack this novel, which reads so quickly, and is perfect for the beach, or for when you WISH you were on the beach.

I mean, just look at that cover, right? ;-)

This breezy novel was exactly what I needed exactly when I needed it - an escape to an adult playground on the beach, a story that doesn't take itself too seriously, and fast, snappy writing. Be sure to throw this one in your beach tote...



Two Dollar Bill by Stuart Woods

I was on the hunt for a new audiobook, knowing I was going to be on the road quite a bit last month, so I grabbed this Woods novel, which is part of the "Stone Barrington" series.

Though I've never read a title from this series, I found the thread easy enough to pick up - Stone is a cop turned lawyer who hangs out at Elaine's with his ex-cop partner Dino, enjoys the ladies and a good scotch, and lives a fairly quiet life...until Billy Bob Barnstormer arrives as a new customer in his law practice.

What follows is a nightmare of a plot as Billy Bob turns into the worse customer ever, then begins to harass, blackmail and ultimately threaten Stone, leading to a fast paced, thriller ending that has you guessing until the end. Stone is quite the everyman, but I enjoyed his scramble to clear himself from the tornado that is Billy Bob.

I think I'd like other novels in this series - recommended!

Note: I listened to the audio edition, narrated by Tony Roberts. At times, I really struggled with Roberts' voice and characterization, but after awhile, I got a rhythm. Right on.


Blood Noir by Laurell K. Hamilton

You know, it's taken me 16 books, but I'm done with the Anita Blake series.

I should state for the record that I didn't even finish this title - I read about halfway, then skimmed the rest, honestly not caring if any of the characters, including Anita, lived or died.

This novella with oodles of words added to try and masquerade as a full length novel is like a combination of really bad Mary Sue fiction, poorly written erotica, a dash of "General Hospital", a lot of filler, and some really played out horror.

Atrocious prose, beyond annoying characters, a ridiculously "lifted from every fanfic plot aside from the pregnancy one which she used in the LAST book" plot, and a distinct lack of Jean-Claude (my only reason for reading now) make this an absolute plod of a novella cum novel.

No, no, no. Pass. Do not pick this one up, not if you ever liked the first few books in the series.



The Host by Stephenie Meyer

You can read my full length review of The Host over at my regular book review column at Crucial Pop. Enjoy!