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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...

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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.

ISBN: 9781476729091
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Published: Simon & Schuster - June 3rd, 2014

Don Tillman is a brilliant genetics professor.  He has a tough time making friends, so when he decided that it was time to get married, a sixteen-page questionnaire - simply to weed out unsuitable candidates - seemed entirely logical.  And then Rosie stepped into his office seeking his help to find her biological father.  She could hardly be less suitable and Don is drawn to her anyway as she throws his well-ordered life into tilt.  This book is a charming romance for the non-romantic, and a very funny reminder that all of us are just trying to fit in.  

ISBN: 9780425261415
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Published: Berkley Books - January 6th, 2015

Miss Amelia Blanchard has won just about every cooking contest in the greater Riverville, Texas area, so it came as a shock when her Heavenly Texas Pecan Caviar didn't even win an honorable mention at the "Most Original Pecan Treat" contest at the Agriculture Fair.  Even more shocking was the death of judge Pastor Jenkins right after tasting it, and now Miss Amelia and her granddaughter Lindy must find out who added the secret ingredient -  poisonous hemlock - before Miss Amelia's reputation is ruined forever.  This is the second book in Michigan author Lee's Nut House Mystery series, and it is cute.  And she'll be here chatting with customers and  signing her books on Saturday, February 7th from 11:30am-1:30pm. 

ISBN: 9780758285041
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Published: Kensington Publishing Corporation - January 6th, 2015

It takes a lot of freelance writing gigs to keep Jaine Austen's spoiled cat Prozac in Hearty Halibut Guts, so she's thrilled when Joy Amoroso, owner of the exclusive dating service Dates of Joy wants her for an extensive job.  Except Jaine quickly discovers that Dates of Joy isn't exclusive at all.  The potential dates are fake.  Joy has been ripping people off.  She's selfish with her Godiva chocolates.  She's mean to her employees.   And no one would be unhappy if she were dead.  Which she is, from a poisoned Godiva chocolate, during her 'social event of the year' Valentine's Day party.  And if Jaine is to get paid from her nipped-short job, she needs to find the killer fast.  Levine's heroine reminds me of a Los Angeles-based Stephanie Plum - her mysteries are filled with funny characters and hapless encounters, and are a great (quick read) for a winter afternoon. 

ISBN: 9780451471680
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Published: New American Library - January 6th, 2015

Dr. Reagan Bishop is the star of an enormously popular cable show (think anything by Oprah) - she regularly changes lives by pushing participants in the the right direction as they overcome destructive behaviors.  She's always been an overachiever.  Unfortunately, her family doesn't quite recognize her greatness and seems to prefer Reagan's underachieving sisters.  When the show is purchased by a national network, Reagan is pressured to deliver unreasonably fast results and, desperate to keep her job and all the perks that go with it, she enlists the help of the show's spiritual adviser Deva - to hilarious results.  Lancaster is a funny, funny writer and has a particular gift in giving voice to  selfish, entitled, and self-centered - but still weirdly likable - characters.  I especially enjoyed her bringing back Deva and referencing characters from her previous book, Here I Go Again. 

ISBN: 9781586638528
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Published: Sparknotes - July 3rd, 2003

I happened to mention to my senior-in-high-school daughter that while I've never learned a proper love for Shakespeare, I opine that Iago is the most brilliant villain in literature, in that he does evil and ruins lives without ever lifting a finger.  And that I would like to reread Othello without being mired in academic analysis.  For Christmas, she gifted me with two copies of the Sparknotes version - meaning the translation is on the opposite page - along with a note that we would have a book group of two.  A brilliant gift, yes?  Julia's review this week is about the plot, so aside from the above genius-of-Iago statement, I won't go into that.  But I would encourage any parent, relative, or friend to follow suit.  Pick up two copies of a  book - maybe a classic or and old favorite - and read together.  It was one of the best gifts I've ever received and a joy to share.