Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris

You know, I was initially a little skeptical about this book. I mean, I love Joanne Harris' Chocolat, and I've read her other work, but this one sounded a bit...different. I mean, mayhem and grudges at a stuffy British boys school? Really?

And yet, I got totally sucked into this novel, and couldn't wait to find out what would happen next - what a lovely surprise!

Told is alternating voices, this is the story of St. Oswald's - first from the point of view of eccentric Classics teacher Roy Straitley, and then from the point of view of Snyde, a student from a different school who slowly infiltrates the world of St. Oswald's...with disastrous results. This is a wonderfully told story of the "haves" and the "have nots".

This is a beautifully written, really entrancing novel with such great characterization - I so looked forward to every word uttered by Straitley, and couldn't figure out WHAT the twist was going to be, and boy, was there a twist! This is just great storytelling...

This is a fantastic read - highly recommended!

(By the way, I had to find out the origin of the title - it's based on English first-class cricket from before World War II, when those who paid without pay were "gentlemen" and those with pay were "players". What an apropos title.)

I listened to the audio edition, narrated by Steven Pacey. Pacey had several characters to differentiate, and did a superb job with different voices and pacing. A really enjoyable listen!


Confessions of a Contractor by Richard Murphy

Okay, so I just bought my very first house a couple of months ago, I dig on HGTV, and I love dishy novels - so when I was offered up a copy of this new novel (another fabu cover!), I jumped at the chance to snag a review copy.

Henry Sullivan is a contractor in LA - the land of beautiful people, big mansions, more money than sense and never ending sunshine. This novel swirls all that together into one dishy read - ranging from Henry's dalliances with the women who hire him to *ahem* do a little construction, to his struggles with his crew, to his conflicted feelings on another homeowner and strangely, her cat.

Murphy writes in an easy first person style, and "Henry" will stop the story to talk about home renovation, the rules and regs, and all the stuff they DON'T show you on HGTV, which works surprisingly well for the reader, even if it does forestall the story a bit (which, oddly, I didn't mind). Of course, now I'm a little afraid of my jacuzzi tub...

I found the ending of this novel a bit conflicting for me, but overall, it was a read that promised what I thought: fast, dishy, fun!


Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls: Moving Day by Meg Cabot

I've been wanting to read this juvenile fiction title for a while (hello, Meg Cabot!), but it's always checked out - which is actually a great thing. In any case, I managed to snag a copy and give it aread - as an adult, it didn't take long to read, but I still enjoyed it!

Despite the audience, this novel still has Cabot's trademark wit and writing style, where you can really hear Allie's voice in your head, talking to you. Allie has just found out her family is moving, which means a new house, a new school...and new friends.

This is just a sweet, fun series, and I'm ready to read #2, which I already have (thanks to Meg herself!).



Private Wars by Greg Rucka

The best way to get me NOT to do something, is to insist I do something over and over and over again.

Mark, over at Crucial Taunt, learned this the hard way.

He has insisted for many moons that I read a Rucka novel, and I've just not gotten around to doing it!

I picked up a "Queen and Country" novel, featuring Tara Chace, a female James Bond in the British secret service and decided to give it a go.

The bulk of this novel actually takes place in Uzbekistan, where Tara is charged with smuggling out the son and grandson of the President, before the President's daughter can assassinate her brother and assume control of the country. There's a lot more to it, but that's the main thrust of the novel.

I found this really, really difficult to read, actually. Rucka makes PROLIFIC use of abbreviations, and I found my flow was interrupted at least once or twice a page when I had to stop and look up the glossary to see what the hell he was saying. Chace began as an intriguing character, but by the end, I just didn't really care about her or her charge - one of the secondary characters held the most sway for me, and even then...

I'm a big action-y, James Bond, Navy SEAL story fan kind of girl, but this one was like...homework. And it just didn't get a good grade from me.

Sorry, Mark...


Nice to Come Home To by Rebecca Flowers

I admit it.

It was the cover.

I love this cover.

(And I covet that dress on the left - and the body to wear it)

And then when I saw the blurbs (Lolly Winston, Marisa de los Santos, Joshilyn Jackson), I knew I would like this book, and for the most part, I did.

Pru Whistler loses her job and her boyfriend in one fell swoop, leaving her knocking around Washington, DC with little direction and no sense of self. Enter her sister, her niece, a cat, a boy, a new job...and suddenly Pru finds herself surrounded by what she wants - a family, albeit a surrogate one.

This is a really gentle story - no earthshattering moments, no "a ha!" moments, but a quiet read through several months of Pru's life - a life I wouldn't mind having at times.

This is not quite chick lit, not quite regular lit, but a nice amalgamation in between. And that cover...


You know, I've been meaning to link this for ages, and keep forgetting!

Brits and reading: love it!

(via Bookshelves of Doom)

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Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

Rare is it that I don't have oodles of words to say about a book review, but this time, I really don't.


(no spoilers!)

We finally come to the end of the "Twilight Saga" with this 750+ page beast which wraps up the story of Bella and Edward, Jacob, the Cullens and Forks as a whole. I'm still on Team Edward, but I came to like Jacob more with this book, so that's something.

I found some of the plot points a bit...Mary Sue fanfic-y...but Meyer still draws you into the story with her writing, making you want to know more. Based on her ending, I surmise that she has put the saga to rest, not planning to resurrect the series any more. Bella and Edward are still achingly romantic in this novel, and the atmosphere once again pulls the reader in. Like the others, this is an easy read that can be devoured in no time.

I still have mixed feelings about the book, but overall, I give it a thumbs up, as I do with the whole saga. If you haven't read Twilight, what are you waiting for??


Holy cannoli, it's been a while since I had a blog post that WASN'T a book review!

So, let's see...what's been going on...

Well, I finally jumped off the cliff with everyone else and joined Twitter. I've never been a text message girl (I barely know how to on my own phone), and it just seemed like it would be lame for anyone following me, because, you know, I'm boring.

And yet, I've decided to give it a go - I like the immediacy of it so far, and that it's not the same as having to post a full blog post about something that may be trivial, but memorable. Plus, I know the fam and a few friends might like to see what I'm up to at every minute, so there ya go. I'm a Twit. Follow me! :-)

Let's see...on the TinyTown front, this photo (taken at the local IGA) pretty much sums up the sentiment of the whole town...

Thank God

(I nearly drove off the road from laughing the first time I saw this.)

Between the Bookmobile vandalism (which seriously pissed off a lot of patrons), and the rash of other house break-ins, screaming stereos, fights and arguments all pointing to the older teen set in TinyTown, we're definitely ready for August 12.

What else...I (with the help of my fabu administrative assistant) wrote the budget for the library for next year. Of course, it's all a farce with the "restructuring" of Indiana government and the serious stalling of my county to get things reassessed, turned in and collected. I'm still due money from LAST year, and yet I'm writing a budget for NEXT year. Fun!

July 11

(Note the pink Disney princesses pencil, straight from Disneyland!)

In other news...

My whole family (Mum, Dad, sis and I) all went to a movie. This is monumental for several reasons: my parents go to the movies about once a decade, and even then under duress; we've never attended the same movie together; and we all LOVED IT!

(Mamma Mia. So, so very good. Lots of giggles and laughter, and of course, singing. Badly.)

July 18

(Mamma Mia!)

And in other news, yes, the AEROGARDEN LIVES!

After finally ditching the herbs from Christmas a few weeks ago, I got the "lettuce" kit. And that sucker grew FAST! Yay for salad NOT in a bag!



Other than that, it's been so humid and hot that I've pretty much hibernated inside as much as possible, except when I'm watering petunias or passing out from mowing the lawn. But the humidity does make for the pretty every once in a while...

(Tree among the fields of Posey County, about 7am.)

And how are you?

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The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes by Jennifer Crusie, Eileen Dreyer and Anne Stuart

Sometimes, you just need a silly, magical girlie chick lit book to break things up from being too serious. :-)

This is a light and frothy romance centering around the three Fortune sisters, each with unique magical gifts (which they can't control), hang ups on men (which they don't have), and family secrets (which they won't tell). So what happens when three men blow into town, destined for the three sisters?

A whole lotta chaos and magic, baby. ;-)

Though a bit disjointed at times, this was a great, light read with winsome characters and just the right amount of magic. Recommended!


The Map Thief by Heather Terrell

This novel was sent to me by the nice folks at Authors on the Web for review, Terrell's second novel after The Chrysalis. Though I haven't read that one, I found this one easy to get into, despite not previously knowing the characters.

It's clear from the outset that Terrell did a tremendous amount of research in writing this novel, which links three distinct time periods and situations: modern day Mara Coyne is on the hunt for a map thief from her office in New York, mapmaker Zhi living in China in 1421, and Antonio, a navigator for da Gama in 1496's Lisbon. Each chapter focuses on one of the protagonists, and I get so into their individual stories, I don't want to switch to another!

A map recently discovered in China has gone missing, and Mara is charged with getting in back. Further complicating matters are issues of exploration from hundreds of years ago, a kingpin map thief, and maybe a new romance...

This is a really rich novel full of detail, history and a bit of "the chase", which is always a good time. I'd be curious to see where Mara ends up on her next adventure!


Paper Towns by John Green

I actually read this new YA novel from superstar Nerdfighter Green several weeks ago, after I managed to snag an advance copy at ALA in Anaheim.

As with Green's other two books, I really loved this one. The sensitive lead boy, Quentin, is such a great narrator for this tale. And of course, we have the brightly burning, mysterious Margo who pulls Quentin into her orbit and won't let him go, plus the supporting characters who ring the two, bringing levity and alternate voices to the tale.

This novel is full of rich characterization, and though the tone is sometimes serious, has some truly laugh-out-loud lines that Nerdfighters will love. As I was reading, I kept thinking "I wish *my* friends and I were this witty and self-aware when *we* were 17!".

(We weren't. I'm sure of it.)

My favorite part of the novel was the final third - the roadtrip - which literally made me snort with laughter (the first BP stop is truly the stuff of legend), and also made me urge them on faster and faster, flying through pages to see if they would make it in time. You'll have to read to understand...

I really enjoyed Green's style, characters, prose and smarts in writing this novel for YAs which adults will absolutely enjoy. Plus, I learned some new things - a bit more about Whitman and the explanation of paper towns. Gotta love a little education along the way. :-)

Highly, highly, uber-recommended!

Note: This title will be released October 16, 2008.