October Books

At Home in Covington (J. Medlicott)
Bubbles in Trouble (S. Strohmeyer)
Two Days After the Wedding (J. Medlicott)
Broken (D. Clay)
But Come Ye Back (B. Lordan)
Good Things (M. King)
Dollar Days (K. Gillespie)
Engaging Father Christmas (R. Jones Gunn)
Testimony (A. Shreve)
The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square (R. Lippi)
Bubbles Ablaze (S. Strohmeyer)

The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square by Rosina Lippi

The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square by Rosina Lippi: Book Cover

Book flap: When Julia Darrow’s life in Chicago falls apart, she moves to small-town South Carolina and opens a shop specializing in luxury linens. Five years later she’s satisfied with the life she’s made for herself: Cocoon is doing very well; she wears designer pajamas all day, every day; she’s got a houseful of foster dogs; and she has friendly, efficient, if quirky, employees and all the other Lambert Square shop owners to occupy her. Julia has no interest in going anywhere.
John Dodge grew up an army brat and he’s still a rover: the idea of sticking to one place gives him hives. He makes a living moving around the country, fixing up small businesses on the brink of disaster. The newest venture to capture his imagination is an odd little shop that specializes in collectible pens, located in a renovated printing plant in the Deep South. He arrives in Lambert Square on a sunny fall day, and on his first morning there he runs into bellicose fishermen, curious tourists, a former underwear model who is now the no-nonsense mayor, a dozen friendly new neighbors full of advice on how to clean his bathtub and where to go to church, and Julia Darrow, walking across Lambert Square, in pajamas. When he goes to Cocoon to introduce himself, Dodge ends up spending a fortune on linen and asking Julia out to dinner. He takes her refusal in stride, but he also comes away with the distinct sense that there’s something going on with this woman from Chicago, something below the surface that she never lets anybody see. He is warned, right from the start: Don’t set your sights on our Julia. She’s shut up tight as a Chinese puzzle box, nary a seam to be seen.
But Dodge likes puzzles, and he’s really good at fixing things. There is a collision in the making, and all of Lambert Square is watching.
The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square is why I like to read. It is an entertaining tale filled with interesting and humorous characters. Rosina Lippi has a talent for local color. I felt like I was in Lamb’s Corner, shopping in Lambert Square and enjoying a meal at Annabeth Tindell’s place.

And then there is the story of Julia and (John) Dodge. But you need to find out about that on your own. I found myself smiling through much of this book. If you’re looking for a book to take you away, Pajama Girls’ would be a great choice.

Testimony by Anita Shreve

Testimony by Anita Shreve: Book Cover

Book flap: At Avery Academy, A prestigious New England boarding school, the headmaster finds himself in possession of a videotape — a disaster in a small package. More shocking than the sexual acts recorded on the tape are the ages of the students. One girl is just fourteen.
A Pandora’s box, the tape unleashes a storm of shame and recrimination throughout the small community. The men, women, and teenagers involved speak out to relate the events of that night and their aftermath. Mike Bordwin, the headmaster, struggles to contain the scandal before it destroys the school. Silas Quinnery, a well-liked local boy, grapples with the tremendous consequences of his mistakes. Anna, his mother, confronts her own forbidden temptations. And Sienna, an enigmatic and troubled young woman, tries to put her past behind her.
For all the tape reveals, it provokes more questions than it answers. How did this happen? Who is to blame? And will the mistakes of one foolish moment ruin the futures of everyone involved? As the chorus of voices rises to the crescendo, it reveals the surprising truth of what occurred that night, and how the lives touched by these events will be forever transformed.
Wow. I began reading Testimony in the morning and only took small breaks for the rest of the day. I couldn’t put it down. I didn’t expect that, especially after the first ‘testimony’ describing the event. But, being a parent of three who are now all in their 20s, I completely bought into the book. I know this could happen!

I like how Shreve unfolds the story – through the eyes of everyone involved. I think she nailed the students’ voices. And I think she gives an accurate portrayal of today’s news media, sad to say.

To say I enjoyed the book would be wrong. I was taken in by the compelling, honest, and gripping story.
Thanks to Miriam at Hachette Book Group for sending me this book.

Engaging Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn

Engaging Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn: Book Cover

From the book flap: Miranda Carson can’t wait to return to England to spend Christmas with her boyfriend, Ian. She spent a lifetime yearning for a place to call home, and she’s sure Carlton Heath will be it, especially when hints of engagement fill the air.
But Miranda’s high hopes for a jolly Christmas are toppled when Ian’s father is hospitalized and the matriarch of the Whitcombe family refuses to bless Miranda and Ian’s relationship. How can Miranda ever find a place to belong in this cheery corner of the world? When family secrets threaten all her relationships in unanticipated ways, Miranda is certain all is lost.
And yet . . . as Miranda searches for love, she finds the promise of so much more in the arms of a certain Father Christmas. Perhaps this holiday has special gifts in store for her after all.
Robin Jones Gunn has written a sweet, cozy novella that is perfect for the holiday season. It’s the first book I’ve read by this author. In fact, it’s the first I’ve read that fits in the Christian Lit. category.

If you want a book that will help you get in the holiday mood, Engaging Father Christmas would be a good choice. It had the feel of an old-fashioned Christmas – much like an old black and white movie. It took a couple of hours to read and I enjoyed it very much.
I’ll be looking for Finding Father Christmas. It is part 1 of Miranda’s story and I want to read all the details!
Thanks to Miriam at Hachette Book Group for sending me this book.

Dollar Daze by Karin Gillespie

Dollar Daze by Karin Gillespie: Book Cover

Back of the book: Moons and Junes are the flavors of the month for the Bottom Dollar Girls, whose sudden fondness for wooing and cooing has them in a Dollar Daze. From the night of the Sweetheart Dance, love begins blooming all over Cayboo Creek. Attalee, soda jerk at the Bottom Dollar Emporium, and her beau Dooley seem headed for the altar via Thrill Hill. But Elizabeth is pining for her newlywed days when she felt more like a wife than a mother, while widowed Mavis has been up nights nursing a case of loneliness. Not so for newspaper woman Birdie. “I’m glad my dating days are done,” she claims, and Gracie Tobias agrees that she, too, is “done with romance.” They couldn’t be more wrong.
Dollar Daze is the third installment of the Bottom Dollar Girls series. It continues the multi-generational story of a group of women in a small South Carolina town. They support each other through various situations with sensitivity and great humor. If you need a good laugh, these books will do the trick. I’ve chuckled and laughed out loud through the entire series. I hope Karin Gillespie has a 4th book ready to go soon.

Good Things by Mia King

Good Things by Mia King: Book Cover

Back of the book: Deidre McIntosh became famous teaching women to live simple, and simply live – ironic for a woman who thrives on the chaos of a television career and shares a home with her best friend, the one man she can count on, who happens to be gay.
But when her Seattle cooking-and-lifestyle show gets bumped off the air, and her best guy moves in with his boyfriend, she’s left trying to figure out the next segment. She can achieve the perfect balance of ingredients in a corn fritter, but it’s not so easy in her life.
Seizing on a chance encounter with an attractive stranger, Deidre accepts his offer to use his country home. She hopes to get away for a while and learn to practice what she preaches: to appreciate life without voice mail; to gain the courage to start again; and to take the first slow, cautious steps toward a new kind of success — and maybe even love.
It seems like a simple task. But it may be the hardest thing she’s ever done…
Good Things has been on my TBR stack for several months. I finally decided to dust it off and give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised! I didn’t want to put it down after starting, but life got in the way and it took me 2.5 days to read. I found the characters likable and mostly realistic. This is Mia King’s first novel and I can’t wait to read her next. It was entertaining and fun – it would make a great vacation read.

But Come Ye Back by Beth Lordan

But Come Ye Back by Beth Lordan: Book Cover

Back of the book: For thirty-some years, Lyle has made a life for his family working as an accountant. But when he retires, his Irish-born wife, Mary, wants to leave America and go home – where the ocean is near and the butter has flavor.
Somewhat grudgingly, Lyle agrees, but during their years in Galway, they discover that the surprises of life are not over. Going home is more complicated than butter and the bay, and thirty content years does not mean that a couple is immune to romantic intrigue. In this new life, while Mary and Lyle are rediscovering each other and building a richer life together, an unexpected event forces Lyle to decide where his home truly is.
I so wanted to like this book. The description on the back gave me high hopes but, in the end, I found it lacking. The book is told in connected but separate stories. It begins with Mary and Lyle Sullivan deciding to move to Galway for their retirement. Interesting, right? Well, maybe a little. It moved to curious and then rather boring stories. It ended flat, I thought. I suppose that’s how some people’s lives are but I expected more.

Autumn colors

This is the Mountain Ash tree in our back yard. I took the photo this afternoon and it is one of the reasons why Autumn is my favorite season. These leaves will change quickly and drop so I knew I’d be sorry if I didn’t snap a pic today. Also, I don’t know how long we’ll have this tree. Apparently there is an insect taking out Ash trees across the country. It arrived in my state over the summer. If anyone knows of a way to save my tree, please let me know.

Broken by Daniel Clay

Broken by Daniel Clay: Book Cover

Back of the book: Until that fateful afternoon, Skunk Cunningham had been a normal little girl, playing on the curb in front of her house. Rick Buckley had been a normal geeky teenager, hosing off his brand-new car. Bob Oswald had been a normal sociopathic single father of five slutty daughters, charging furiously down the sidewalk. Then Bob was beating Rick to a bloody pulp, right there in the Buckley’s driveway, and life on Drummond Square was never the same again.
I won this book through a giveaway on Dar’s blog. Thank you so much, Dar! The book took me way out of my comfort zone but that’s not always a bad thing. I’m glad I read Broken.
There is cruelty in this world. Some people use it against others to get through life and then there are those on the receiving end – trying to avoid it and not sure why they can’t. There are decent, honorable people in this world and sometimes bad things happen to them. Broken is a tale that starts with a lie that sets in motion a series of cruel events which have devastating results. Daniel Clay’s debut novel is unlike any book I’ve ever read. It took me on an emotional ride that at times made me laugh but mostly had me wincing. There’s a blurb on the back of the book that says the author “tells the truth about childhood in the modern world”. I think that may be a bit of a stretch – maybe kids are like this in some neighborhoods but I’d like to think it’s the exception and not the norm.

Broken is the nickname assigned to Rick when he can no longer deal with life after the beating he takes from Bob Oswald. He ends up medicated, uncommunicative and rarely leaves his bedroom. No longer is he the young man who was so proud of his new car. I think each character has a bit of ‘broken-ness’ about them – from the single fathers to the motherless children.

Daniel Clay says he was inspired by To Kill a Mockingbird and there are a few similarities. The edition I read has a P.S. at the end of the book where Clay explains the inspiration. I found that quite interesting. Dar at Peeking Between the Pages has a fine interview with the author here.