I just recently spent six days glued to my couch, clinging desperately to my decongestants and tissue box. Although it was an unpleasant experience, it did give me a chance to catch up on my reading. Here’s my top three reads from my days on the couch:
One for the Money
by Janet Evanovich is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. Stephanie Plum is an unemployed New Jersey girl who is forced to work for her bail bondsman cousin, Vinnie. Originally, she applies for a job filing, but since that job has been filled, she becomes a bounty hunter. The mystery is good, but the true joy of this book is the tales of Stephanie’s ineptness at her new job.
The Department of Lost and Found
by Allison Winn Scotch has a slightly more serious tone, but is still light enough for sick-time reading. Natalie Miller is an ambitious political assistant with bad luck in love. When she is sidelined by cancer, she’s given an opportunity to rexamine life and how she wants to live it. Although about a challenging subject, Scotch manages to present Natalie’s story with humor and hope.
by Sherry Thomas lives up to the title. A Victorian version of the Cinderella story, Delicious is the tale of Verity Durant, a woman whose culinary creations render entire dinner parties speechless with delight. She is content in the kitchen until her employer dies, leaving his house to his brother, a man from Verity’s past. Her passions, both culinary and otherwise, make for a great story of love, loss, and the power of good food.
>While James Bond was out battling the likes of Dr. No and Goldfinger, sipping shaken-not-stirred martinis and racing around in his specially equipped Aston Martin (or BMW, depending on which version of Bond you fancy), Miss Moneypenny was sitting quietly at her desk, typing up his reports and daydreaming about the womanizing secret agent, right? Wrong. Kate Westbrook’s The Moneypenny Diaries paints a very different picture of M’s loyal secretary. Haunted by the disappearance of her father on a mysterious covert mission during World War II, Jane Moneypenny joins MI6 in the hope that the connections she makes in Britain’s spy agency will lead her to the truth about his fate. Meanwhile, the secrecy surrounding her day-to-day work complicates her personal relationships, and the information she is privy to involves her in dangers far removed from her office at MI6 headquarters. And then there’s 007, the dashing but troubled agent with whom she shares a flirtatious friendship, and for whose welfare Jane spends many a worried, wakeful night.
Full of action, intrigue, and factual information about the operations of spy agencies in the Cold War era, The Moneypenny Diaries will leave you with a new appreciation for the woman too often lost in James Bond’s shadow.
Sandy Shortt is obsessed with missing things. She has arranged her home so that things rarely disappear because it is so distressing to her when they do. Her career is searching for missing persons. This obsession has gotten in the way of her relationships and her happiness. She recognizes that this is a problem, but isn’t sure how to deal with it. Then one day she goes missing herself, which clarifies many of her questions, but isn’t much comfort unless she can get back to her old life. This is an imaginative story that will help you to feel much better about those missing socks.
> Cat Connelly is a 34 year old, single woman who has taken care of her father and sister after their mother left the family– working as an accountant and living her life without taking any risks. When her grandmother embarrasses her at her sister’s wedding and a man she is attracted to turns out to be married, she decides take her un-used vacation time and take a trip to Rome, a place she visited as a college student and which hold memories of happier times. Cat’s trip to Rome becomes a journey to find herself, to discover her passions and to reconnect with her past. Hamel has a knack for describing not just the city of Rome but the atmosphere, sounds and flavors as well. The small “moments” in Rome captivate Cat—old men playing chess in the park, the taste of crisp Roman pizza, families walking arm-in-arm, children playing soccer. There is romance in Italian for Beginners, but much of the story revolves around Cat’s self-discovery. The story is told with warmth and humor and excellent descriptions of the sights and sounds of Rome. The author even includes recipes for some of the Italian specialties served to Cat in the story. This is a delightful story—a great escape novel!
Second Thyme Around
by Katie Fforde is the delightful story of Perdita, an organic gardener who produces fresh vegetables for local restaurants. Since her divorce, she has settled into a comfortable life spending time in her garden, chatting with her favorite customers, and spending time with Kitty, the delightful woman who raised her. Her cozy world is rocked when she discovers that the chef at one of her restarants has been replaced by her cranky ex-husband, who wasn’t even a chef when she last saw him.
The plot is a touch predictable, but the characters and back story, as well as all the discussion of good food, make for a delightful read.
>Sarah Addison Allen is coming out with a new book, Girl Who Chased the Moon. I have loved her books and can’t wait for this one to come out. Watch the video clip to learn about her books and her influences.
I’ve been working so hard to not write about Chick Lit constantly. Now that I’ve been good for several weeks, I think it’s time to reward myself with a post about my favorite genre. I read a mention
recently of one of my all time favorite Chick Lit reads, which inspired me to look back over the years at some of the great books I’ve read. Here’s my top three list:
1. In Her Shoes
by Jennifer Weiner – The story of two very different sisters learning to deal with themselves and each other.
2. Thirty Nothing
by Lisa Jewell – Dig and Nadine have been best friends since grade school. Dredging up past loves forces them to reevaluate their friendship.
3. Driving Sideways
by Jess Riley – Having just gone through a kidney transplant, Leigh goes on a road trip to celebrate being alive and to clear some things up from her past.
I’d love to hear what your favorites are!
You step into a magical place when you open up Garden Spells
by Sarah Addison Allen. The Waverly women have always been well known in their small town of Bascom, N.C. for their strange ways. Everyone knows there’s something mysterious about the apple tree in their back yard. Claire Waverly is often hired to cater local gatherings because her food can alter the mood of the party. Aunt Evanelle goes around town giving things to people – a lighter, a shirt, gum – that they find they need soon after. The whole town is stirred up when Sydney returns with a young daughter after ten years of wandering without any word of her whereabouts.
This is a delightful story of magic, romance, and dreams come true.
Some of us are Anglophiles, but some of us are also Maineophiles (no, that’s not really a word). When I picked up The Way Life Should Be
by Christina Baker Kline, and saw that the setting is Mt. Desert Island, Maine, I settled in for a fun read. And that’s exactly what this book is, fun and witty.
Angela Russo is a 33 year old New Yorker, drifting through her life as an event planner. After yet another dismal blind date, she finds herself tempted into an online romance with a Maine sailing instructor. Anglela gets so distracted by her fantasy romance that her career literally “goes up in flames” when she forgets to take out fire insurance at a fancy event. With no job, no boyfriend and no regrets, Angela packs up and moves to Maine to live with her online boyfriend. You can probably guess that her life in Maine doesn’t quite work out as planned, but her adventures are very entertaining.
As a little bonus, Angela’s recipes from her Italian grandmother are included.
Chick lit has had a bad reputation as fluff about shopping and romance, but I must admit that I, the person with the bachelor’s degree in English, love it. There is always romance and, personally, I don’t mind that. There are also really interesting and well-developed characters, funny situations, and some life lessons. If you’re new to the genre I would recommend Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding or In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner for starters. If you’re a long-time fan and looking for some new material, here are some good ones I’ve read recently.
Restoring Grace by Katie Fforde is the story of Grace, a divorced wine expert who is trying to rescue her crumbling London home and Ellie, a pregnant and struggling artist. Along the way they find solutions and cranky, interesting men. . . with potential, of course.
Friends gather together after hearing about the death of a former school mate in Second Chance by Jane Green. While grieving about their friend, they re-examine their lives exploring issues of love, infertility, careers, and bad marriages.
Women on the Edge of a Nervous Breakthrough by Isabel Sharpe is a surprisingly great book. The glamourous Lorelei Taylor returns to Kettle, Wisconsin seeking a quiet refuge from the press coverage of the recent trial where she was acquitted of murdering her husband. She assumes that nothing ever happens there, but is soon clashing with the town socialite, giving teens dating advice, unwittingly giving hope to an abused woman, and, of course, coping with a cute neighbor.