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Jody reads an eclectic mix of non-fiction, cozy mysteries and southern fiction...and, well, just about anything else.  Come pick her brain...

< Karin   Karli>




ISBN: 9780525427094
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Published: Viking - April 7th, 2015

Miss Julia has enough on her plate without town newcomer Connie Clayborn insinuating that the downtown is shabby and out of date and that the influential ladies of Abbotsville should do something about it.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.

ISBN: 9781620403013
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Published: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC - June 17th, 2014

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...

ISBN: 9780143127192
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Published: Penguin Books - March 31st, 2015

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.

ISBN: 9781590517116
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Published: Other Press (NY) - March 17th, 2015

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....

ISBN: 9781476762463
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Published: Pocket Books - December 30th, 2014

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.

ISBN: 9780385348614
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Published: Crown Publishing Group (NY) - March 17th, 2015

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. 

By Sarah Weeks, David Small (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780545609548
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Published: Scholastic Press - February 24th, 2015

Glamourpuss the cat has a very glamorous life with her family the Highhorsens.  She has jewels and servants and a mansion on the hill.  She is charming and she has only one job and that is to be glamorous.  She is very, very good at it and knows that sometimes less is more, so instead of saying "me-ow" like ordinary cats, she shortens it to "me."  And then Bluebelle the dog comes for a visit, and gives Glamourpuss a run for her money with her fancy outfits and entertaining tricks.  Can they ever become friends?   This charming picture book is a lot of fun - kind of a Fancy Nancy with animals - and the illustrations by David Small are particularly well-done and funny. 

ISBN: 9780399169526
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Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - February 10th, 2015

First, a disclaimer or three.  1.  This review is pretty late.  2.  It's late because (as I've said before) the more I like a book, the tougher it is to write the review and I really, really liked this book.  And, 3.  It's very difficult to describe.  On the surface, it's the story of the rape and aftermath of fifteen-year-old Lindy, the golden girl of her middle class Baton Rouge neighborhood.  That story line is not particularly easy to sell.  It's also not exactly general fiction, because there is a bit of mystery in the unfolding of events, and it's not exactly a mystery/thriller in the true sense of the genre because the story unfolds so gently.  It is, however, a beautifully written novel narrated by Lindy's fourteen-year-old neighbor, who is in love with her, and who becomes a 'person of interest' in the crime that rocks the idyllic neighborhood.  Walsh's lovely writing perfectly combines the incongruity of innocent childhood,  beauty of Baton Rouge,  violent and unprecedented crime,  secrets all neighbors shield, and understanding and forgiveness that comes with adulthood.  

ISBN: 9780062316899
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Published: William Morrow & Company - February 3rd, 2015

Twenty-one year old Tilly Harper was looking for a fresh start.  She thought she might find it when she left her home in northern England to become an assistant housemother at Mr. Shaw's Training Home for Watercress and Flower Girls, and was looking forward to helping some of  1912 London's orphaned and crippled 'Flower Girls' and help keep them off the street.  She is drawn into the past, however, with the discovery of a notebook belonging to Flora Flynn, a flower seller from 1876, and learns the heartbreaking story of Flora and her sister Rosie's life on the street, and the separation that devastated them.  This lovely historical fiction novel will appeal to those who enjoyed The Language of Flowers or The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

ISBN: 9781576877555
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Published: powerHouse Books - February 17th, 2015

I used to enjoy doing counted cross stitch.  And it's not that I don't enjoy it any longer, but it's sometimes tough to find patterns that aren't too precious.  Until now. This is not your grandma's pattern book - or maybe it is, if your grandma was a sailor or a longshoreman.  Jackson's patterns are definitely sassy, and some are downright profane.  She combines irreverent sayings with traditional borders, bunnies, teddy bears, and duckies, and the irony is irresistible.  All of the patterns are very simple, and could be quickly whipped up as a gift for a person with a special sense of humor.  I love this book.  Evidently, my sense of humor is...special.