Greer Hennessy's last job was a disaster. And if she is going to salvage her career as a movie location scout she needs to find the perfect Florida town. Not a pretty, planned community, not Disney-ish nor touristy, but the perfect tucked-away-and-undiscovered small Florida town. She finds it in Cypress Key, but she also finds a crazy heiress, a spoiled brat of a leading man, a decaying town, an estranged father, and most importantly, a very stubborn and very desirable town mayor named Eben Thibadeaux. There is a lot going on in this novel, but it is also pure fun as only Mary Kay Andrews delivers it; this is the perfect relaxing antidote for a very busy spring.
I adored Nickolas Butler's beautifully written first novel Shotgun Lovesongs, and his brand new book of short stories is every bit as great. I would love to tell you more about it now, but I will be talking about it on Tuesday, June 9, during Penguin Random House Night. The ticket link is below, and I hope you'll come hear all about it then!
Not all children's cookbooks are created equally. Some have great recipes but no pictures. Some use too many convenience foods. Some contain recipes that are supposedly 'kid foods,' but frankly, that's always seemed to me to treat children's palates condescendingly. I'm in love with this new Complete Children's Cookbook because it has none of those flaws. It's a sturdy and large hardcover that opens flat for ease of use. The illustrations are colorful photos that show not only the finished dish but also step-by-step instructions. The recipes are varied enough to suit all tastes. Ingredients and equipment lists are well organized, as are preparation times and helpful hints. And best of all, it gives not only recipes and fun trivia but very clear instructions on different cooking tips and techniques. This is the best children's cookbook I've seen in a long time; in fact, I'm tempted to give it to myself!
J.K. Rowling, author of that little-known children's series beginning with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, gave the commencement speech to Harvard University's graduating class of 2008. Quite cleverly, she begins by saying that no one even really listens to their own commencement speech and she certainly couldn't remember a word of hers. I'm convinced that I would have paid close attention to Rowling's, though - she details the benefits of failure, which we all will experience in a life well-lived. And she speaks of one of her first jobs working at the London office of Amnesty International, and how it not only paid the rent but clarified the way in which she wished to live her own life. Funny and poignant, this little book would make the perfect graduation gift for those few Harry Potter fans - or really anyone else.
Miss Julia has enough on her plate without town newcomer Connie Clayborn insinuating that the downtown is shabby and out of date and that the influential ladies of Abbotsville should do something about it. Her beloved Sam is out of town, an ice storm is brewing, Coleman Bates is staging a sit-in on a highway sign and librarian Roberta is paying too much attention to the married sheriff's deputy, a mysterious runner is going past her house every night, and the Christmas ornaments for the annual sale won't just make themselves. But her trouble is just beginning when she finds Connie on her kitchen floor - very dead. Minister Larry Ledbetter is avoiding her and holding her to the secret of why his wife Emma Sue is out of circulation, and her nemesis Lieutenant Peavey is determined to find Miss Julia somehow responsible for everything. I was delighted to discover that I was actually a book behind in this favorite-of-mine series and have spent several happy days in Abbottsville, NC.
Mary Byrd Thornton was living an idyllic life in Oxford, Mississippi, with her lovely home, solid husband, and two children, when she received a phone call a cold case detective in her hometown in Virginia. He is reopening the case of the abduction and murder of her nine-year-old stepbrother, and while they always thought the killer was the weird kid down the street there was not enough evidence to convict. This is Lisa Howorth's first book, newly released in paperback. She is the owner of the award-winning independent bookstore Square Books in Oxford, and she lived through a similar situation in her own life. Flying Shoes has a little suspense, a lot of kooky characters, a wonderful depiction of the New South, and a sharp wit. Indeed, I fell in love with Howorth's spot-on writing from her description of some fraternity brothers on page two...
It's late June in Abbottsville, North Carolina, and Miss Julia is looking forward to a well-ordered rest of the summer. Until her darling Sam decides to run for the state senate. And Etta Mae Wiggins reports that young, up-and-coming mortician Rodney Pace will stop at nothing to acquire the land on which her single-wide sits - and which Miss Julia owns. And her long-lost cousin Elsie decides to send her unwilling, unkempt, and ill-mannered granddaughter Trixie to Miss Julia for the summer in the hopes that Trixie will return home with some gentile manners- and a rich husband. And now Miss Julia's summer is peaceful no longer. This charming series is fast-paced, with delightful characters and dry humor, and is a long-standing favorite of mine.
Set in West Virginia coal mining country, Whisper Hollow tells the story of three very different women - Alta, who longs to be an artist but is tied to her small town by family and duty, Myrthen, who is outwardly pious and inwardly cold, and Lidia, a young mother with a dark secret. Their stories span fifty years and intertwine through tragedy, intrigue, and the ever-present harsh reality of the dangerous coal mines. This is April's Book of the Month selection (and it's not too late to sign up and get your copy - call us for details!) and I'm hoping they love it as much as I did....
While many of the Murder on Tour book club members were mystery writers themselves, none of them were ready to witness the murder of one of their own at their monthly meeting. And as founding member Hazel Rose assists her police officer boyfriend in digging into victim Carlene's murder, she finds not only an unsavory past but that every book club member had a motive. This cozy mystery will certainly have the reader guessing until the very end.
The author of The Happiness Project is taking on a new project. Most of us have behaviors we'd like to change, tweak, or master, and Rubin begins by suggesting that many popular methods for forming habits will fail for most people because they don't take individual personality into consideration. Through research and experimentation - often using herself as a guinea pig - Rubin suggests methods such as abstaining completely, moderating, and use of 'treats' as opposed to 'rewards' to either form a new and good habit or stop a bad one. Knowing what motivates one can lead to greater success in, for example, losing weight, forming good nutrition or exercise habits, or ending spending or drinking issues. I like Rubin's books almost despite myself. I don't generally enjoy self-help, but I find her style almost memoir-like and rather gentle in suggestions as she reminds us all along that this worked for her.