The Importance of Being Married by Gemma Townley

Apparently, this is the first novel in a planned trilogy, and features Jessica Wild, a British gal who told one white lie which spiraled and spiraled...

Jessica befriends Grace, an aging widow who comes to see Jess as an adopted granddaughter, who wants nothing more than for her to find a good man and settle down. To please Grace, Jess "invents" a boyfriend, then fiancee, and then gets "married".

When Grace dies and the will opened, her entire (secret) hidden fortune is left to Jess - in her "married" name. Which gives Jess 50 days to find and marry her invented husband.

This features some great supporting characters (Helen and Ivana were my favorite), despite some outrageous situations and a slightly too-tidy ending, this is a fun and breezy novel for the chick lit crowd.


So, because this is the first Christmas without Mum, we're all doing things a bit differently this year.

Dad and I talked about it, and after discovering Don and Michelle were planning a trip, we decided maybe we should get away as well, spend Christmas somewhere completely distracting.

We made reservations, we found the perfect hotel, and we're jetting out on Christmas Eve, heading home on December 28.

Where else can you forget your sorrows of the season?

Vegas, baby.

las vegas

A room at the Bellagio, some gambling, some food, some sightseeing, and I think we'll get through the holiday after all. Expect lots of pictures and touristy gushing when I return!

But until then, I want to wish each and every one of you a happy, precious, fun-filled, safe, lovely and warm Christmas. You have all certainly made this holiday brighter for me with your comments, emails and warm wishes.

Thank you.

Happy Holidays!

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So, because of schedules, we actually had our Priddis Family Christmas last week, with Michelle and Don as host and hostess.

Though it was our first celebration without Mum, it featured lots of good food, good times, good presents, and good companionship, and no tears.

I wasn't kidding about the present pile!

Pretty Tree

Father and daughter...

December 13

Father and daughters...

Family Portrait

Don, of course, spent most of his time slavin' in the kitchen to make a delicious dinner...

Le Chef

It was a great weekend with all of us together, with a lot of laughs and good presents, and lots of quality loafing around time, which everyone needed. It's going to be a strange Christmas, but at least we're all together for a few days...

Miss you, Mummy...

A Good Cry....

So, I've been watching (and when I say watching, I mean DVRing and then desperately trying to catch up later) some new TV shows this fall, including NBC's Crusoe.

Which stars this guy.


Philip Winchester.

Who is pretty.



And is shirtless at least once an episode.

It's a fun, action-filled show, which also features Philip Winchester.



As I was watching the premiere episode, though, I kept staring at Phil, trying to decide who he reminded me of.

Finally, I hit on it.

Is he not a young Sean Bean?

And then, who pops up on the screen 10 minutes later?


(It also stars Sam Neill, but he's not pretty like Sean. Or Philip.)

Hey, glimpses of Sean are reason enough to watch the show.

As are Philip's abs.


(screencap courtesy of squarehippies, and there are more to see there...)

What new shows have you been enjoying?

And while I'm on the subject of NBC shows, I'm still totally, totally devoted to Chuck. Which makes me laugh out loud at least once an episode, usually in connection to the character of John Casey, played by the brilliant Adam Baldwin.

I snorted out loud when this popped on the screen the other week. It's soooo John Casey on the show. Ya know?


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I know, I know.

It's been a stupidly long time since I blogged anything other than book reviews, NaNoWriMo and my trip to England, so let's catch up with each other, shall we?

What's Marissa been up to? Well...

We've continued to paint walls at the library, culminating in a quote above the circulation desk, painted by the lovely Hilary...

("A good book is the best of friends" - English Proverb)

Quote Wall

I turned into a giggling 14 year old girl when I went with the girls to see Twilight (which I totally loved, of course!)...

November 22

I got lovely flowers from Dad for Thanksgiving...

November 25

We got through our first Thanksgiving without Mum, by celebrating in TinyTown, and Michelle and I cooked!

The Feast

I've got my Christmas lights up on Sunnymeade for the first time...


I took my father BOWLING for the first time in about 50 years, he thinks...

November 28

We went for a "walk in the woods"...

Harmonie Walk

And you can come along too!

I saw my first Evansville Iceman hockey game (a new league formed this year)...

November 29

I watched the last of the leaves fall...

Leaves II

And I giggled when a piece of the library roof fell in too (but then I got kinda ticked off)...


So, what have you been up to? :-)

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Going Home by Harriet Evans

This was another one of those "ooh! cute cover!" pick ups from the shelf (not to mention a blurb from Sophie Kinsella), but I ended up really enjoying this story, which actually partially takes place at Christmas!

Lizzy Walter is going home from London to spend Christmas with her dysfunctional but loving family and friends, only to have a bomb dropped that their beloved old country manor home is to be sold - and that her ex-boyfriend has suddenly resurfaced from New York City, where he has been living.

The next few months involve trying to save the home, dealing with her friends and family's foibles, reconciling the boys in her life, and helping to plan her aunt's wedding. While at times the outlook is bleak, this is ultimately a story with a happy ending.

This is an imminently readable, fun story full of great characters and great relationships, none more poignantly examined than the bonds of family (and friends that are family too). I really enjoyed this read!


The Senator's Wife by Sue Miller

This is absolutely a character-driven novel, full of quiet contemplation and important moments, but no true action or excitement, which somehow heightens the suspense of it.

Meri and Nathan have just moved in next door to Delia, the wife of Senator Tom Naughton, whom she has not lived with for years, but is not divorced from. Delia is in her 70s, Meri in her 30s, but they form a friendship, and this novel switches back and forth from their points of view, and from different points in time, to weave together this story, which is beautifully written and engaging. You watch how Meri evolves, as well as how Delia has changed throughout her life, until one moment culminates in the finale of the book.

I really enjoyed this read, and came to see Meri and Delia as friends, rather than characters, as the reader is taken into the inner lives of these women, with all their foibles and complexities.


Note: I listened to the audio version, beautifully narrated by Blair Brown. Have the story told to me, rather than reading it, made the characters come even more alive for me.


The English American by Alison Larkin

Could there be a more appropriate book for me? :-)

Pippa Dunn was given up for adoption by her American birth parents, and adopted by a British family, where she has been born and raised, reading Malory Towers, eating Marmite on toast and knowing how to brew a cup of tea.

And yet, she finds herself yearning to know about her birth family, and makes a drastic move to America where she is reunited with both her mother and father, who give her insight into some of her quirks and traits - and some she'd rather not see.

This is an engaging, well-written novel about a young woman struggling not only with her heritage, but her identity, her trust in others, and in finding her place in the world, both professionally and romantically. I really enjoyed Pippa as a protagonist, as well as the asides and throw-ins that we "British Americans" we know.


(And isn't that great cover - the front is great too!)


Practically Perfect by Katie Fforde

After reading another Fforde novel while in England and enjoying it, I grabbed this title off our new book shelf for a read.

Anna has just bought a cottage in the Cotswolds with the plan to completely renovate it herself. Between new neighbors, a pesky house inspector, an old flame and an enormous greyhound named Caroline, Anna suddenly has a lot more than she bargained for!

This is a nice novel set in lovely country, with lots of fun characters and easy writing to read. My only complaint is that there would be times when the author would jump forward in time, and I would feel like I'd missed a chapter somewhere, or wondered if I'd nodded off and missed something, rather than it just being the style of the story!

An easy read...


So, about a month ago, Dad and I took a trip back to England to visit family for a couple of weeks. Most of our time we spent hanging out with family, catching up, and just abdicating responsibility to the world for a while, though we did manage to squeeze in a few tourist-y things, as well as some new adventures. And hey, I even managed to write 10,000 words of my novel while we were there. ;-)

Though the weather didn't cooperate, we had a great trip with a lot of family, food, and of course, photos. ;-)


I do love a pebble beach...(the beach in Eastbourne, where my grandmother lives)...

Self Portrait

Dad and I took a boat ride to see the lighthouse on Beachy Head in Eastbourne...

The Lighthouse

We ate at several lovely pubs...

The Cricketer's Arms

Typical Pub

Dad and I toured the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, which was fantastic, then wandered around The Lanes...

I'm Here Too!

October 31

Dad Too!

We zipped up to London for a day to catch up with Dad's best man from 40+ years ago!


Then we drove "cross country" to Wales to spend a week in Hay on Wye, the "town of books", where our cousin Pat lives...

Early Morning View

November 3

Hay Castle


Dad and I took a day trip to Bath - home of Regency novels, Roman baths, and lovely architecture...

Famous Milsom Street...

Milsom Street!

Famous "Royal Crescent"...

Better View


The famous, amazing Roman Baths...

We're Here!

First View

Sacred Spring

The (famous) Abbey...

The Abbey

The Abbey

And, of course, famous Pulteney Bridge across the River Avon, where shops are a part of the bridge...

November 6


Pulteney Bridge Shops

I also very much enjoyed motorway driving. ;-)

November 8

But after a week of lovely food, meeting new people, watching elections, writing, reading and resting, it was time to cross the Severn Bridge back to Eastbourne to make our journey home...

Severn Bridge II

Goodbye, England!

November 9

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nano_08_winner_viking_120x238Okay, so I've had a really good reason for the dearth of posts, chats and photos on my blog in the last month...


But I'm done!

In 28 days, I managed to write a 50,051 novel about spies, romance, England, terrorists, family, betrayal, and even threw in some sex, drugs and Sainsbury's. ;-)

It's not great, but it's done. Novel number six in the books! :-)

And so, we'll be returning to our regularly schedule blog programming...well, now-ish. :-)


Know-It-All: The Little Book of Essential Knowledge by Elizabeth King Humphrey

This is one of those books everyone should have in the house, especially if there is debate over Trivial Pursuit questions, or for someone who likes to know a little bit about everything (which, strangely, sounds like a lot of...librarians!)

This is sort of a mini-encyclopedia, made up of ten sections (Understanding the Universe, The Story of the Earth, The Story of Life, Exploring the World, Invention and Discovery, Conflicts of the Modern Age, Structure of Society, Religion and Philosophy, Artistic Endeavors, and Quizzes), with every topic taking up a scant two pages, but written in a really clear, concise language with the occasional sidebar or tidbit of trivia or data, and even pictures to help clarify things.

This is a Reader's Digest imprint, and it totally serves its purpose, while being fun to read to boot! If you have a trivia buff in the family, this is a great book - hardcover, but compact and trade paperback sized. Recommended!


Grace by Richard Paul Evans

This is one of those small Christmas books you read in a single evening, but it was a well-written, satisfying read.

Eric is a soft-spoken fifteen year old boy who befriends a female classmate named Grace when he learns that she has run away from home, the victim of abuse. They form a deep attachment to each other, and this story tracks their story from October until Christmas.

Though this could have been heavy on the schmaltzy scale, I actually really enjoyed it, though I sensed the ending long before it came to a head. Still, it was a different kind of Christmas read - but a good one.


What Was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn

I'm not entirely sure how to describe this novel, was has already won multiple awards and been long- and short-listed for even more.

This novel switches between 1984 and 2003/04, the earlier date following the day to day "investigations" of inquisitive youngster Kate Meaney, who wants to be a private detective. The later sections deal with Lisa and Kurt, who work in the British mall where Kate disappeared years before, though there is evidence that perhaps she isn't gone...

This is a really well-written tale, engaging and engrossing, though it doesn't have any eureka moments, but instead focuses on the day to day existence of several compelling characters, all while tying up ends that don't seem as though they belong together.

I wouldn't say I *loved* this book, as it's not one you love, but it's a compelling, well-written tale...


Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle

This Christmas novel - featuring three stories from three of the most popular young adult novelists on the market - is actually three stories, cleverly intertwined to take place on one fateful Christmas Eve/Christmas morning in a small town with a train frozen on the tracks, a Waffle House and a Starbucks.

The Maureen Johnson novel was first, and had a few laugh out loud moments. The Lauren Myracle story was last, and also had a few funny moments.

But the John Green story - "A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle" - made me laugh so many times out loud, I snorted.

And laughed.

And cried at one point, I was laughing so hard.

This has become my new favorite Christmas novel. Perhaps ever.

I love the way the three stories tie into one another, with overlapping characters, but with seamless transition, and it's hard to tell that it was written by three distinct voices, as they meld together so well.

But really, it's all about the funny of John Green's story.

Highly, highly recommended!