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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: 9781250077172
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Published: St. Martin's Press - August 18th, 2015

Debut author Clifford tackles the fascinating subjects of class and social standing in America in this story of Evelyn Beegan, whose mother encouraged her to prep at the right school and make the right social connections, but who still seems to hover on the periphery of that world. She works for People Like Us - think Facebook for the Old Money set - signing up socialites for the exclusive website, until scandal ensues. I though this book was wonderful, and Clifford certainly seems to know her subject. Jill is comparing it to The Nanny Diaries and The Devil Wears Prada, and I'm going to toss in Bonfire of the Vanities. Either way, it's definitely a new favorite.

ISBN: 9781476769929
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Published: Simon & Schuster - July 14th, 2015

True story:  Barton Swain sent his resumé to the governor of a southern state simply because he noticed a lack of grammar and syntax in his speeches.  He actually got the job as a member of the communications office, and then spent an exhilarating and miserable three years as a speechwriter to a man whose very principals, ego, and self-absorption lead to his political fall.  Interestingly, Swain never mentions his name, simply referring to him as 'the governor' and he is only named on the jacket as the person for whom Swain worked. This is my personal version of the 'perfect beach read' - lots of information doled out with equal amounts of humor and dishy-ness.

ISBN: 9781101873472
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Published: Vintage - August 4th, 2015

Aristotle Thibadeau is 12.5 years old and determined to 'save' her single-mother family by writing the next Great American Novel - and to that end is closely following the instructions in the book Write a Novel in Thirty Days!   It's certainly not easy - she's already trying to manage her mother Diane's love life and career as an English professor, her quirky little brother Max, and their PMI (Positive Male Influence) nanny/handyman.  Fortunately, Aris has grit, determination, and sense of humor enough to deal in this charming, whimsical novel.  If you liked Graeme Simsion's The Rosie Project, this might be your next choice.

ISBN: 9781455503247
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Published: Grand Central Publishing - June 3rd, 2014

I was originally fascinated with this story - or should I say seven-plus stories - when Koppel's book released in hardcover in 2013.  And then I couldn't get enough.  My friends and family started rolling their eyes over my 'fun facts' and I started Googling the key players.  All eyes were on the astronauts, who had been training to be in the public eye, but their wives - who were wives and mothers and quiet nurturers of their husband's high-powered careers - also became instant celebrities.  NASA supported this in the hopes of boosting public support of the burgeoning space program and the wives were soon followed, interviewed, and photographed for exclusive features in Life magazine.  These were real women, not movie stars though, and Koppel does a fine job of reminding us of that.  And because the ABC series of the same name has become my new addiction, I've been rereading the book to flesh out stories that take more than a television hour.  This is dishy and fascinating.

ISBN: 9781250078988
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Published: St. Martin's Griffin - June 30th, 2015

Carolyn Lessing moved from New Jersey to to Adamsville, Alabama, she thoroughly upset the Adams High junior class status quo.  Beautiful, stylish,and athletic, Carolyn was not only a gifted student but so nice that every girl in school wanted to be her.  Or be near her.  Until she had the audacity to date someone else's boyfriend.  There are a lot of books with the bullying theme right now, but I liked this one very much.  It's written in a deceptively simple style - very much in the fashion in which a small-town high school junior might think - but the story itself is complex and thought-provoking.

ISBN: 9780062409850
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Published: Harper - July 14th, 2015

There have already been many reviews written for this widely anticipated new novel, and I'm going to put my two-cents in anyway, because every one that I read (and I certainly did not read every one) said Harper Lee turned the iconic and perfect Atticus Finch into a racist. I thoroughly disagree. First, I think the reviewers cherry-picked a couple of phrases and took them out of context to make a point. Second, it is set twenty years after TKAM. No one - real or fictional - should remain the same after twenty years, including Atticus Finch. Third, I read complaints that this was no TKAM. I would hope not. Lee deserves to have more than one story in her repertoire. I liked this book very, very much. It made perfect sense to me. I disagree with the label of 'racist'. And while I have heard several customers state that they were afraid to read it - a word choice I admittedly find kind of bizarre - I challenge those reading it to make up their own open minds. And I can't wait to hear what you think.

ISBN: 9780385342940
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Published: Dial Press - June 9th, 2015

It's the summer of 1938.  Most of the country is still reeling from the effects of the Great Depression - including Layla Beck, whose U.S. senator father, in a fit of pique over Layla's unwillingness to marry a 'suitable' man, has  cut off her allowance and arranged for her to work for the Federal Writer's Project writing the history of the small mill town of Macedonia, West Virginia.  Instead of the mind-numbing boredom she expects, however, she boards with the eccentric Romeyn family and soon finds herself enmeshed in not only town but family drama.  Barrows's characters are wonderful, from spunky 'spinster' Jottie Romeyn and her 'bootlegger' brother Felix to Felix's precocious daughters Willa and Bird and including the small town's founding families and Layla herself.  Beautifully written and complex, this novel is a wonderful slice of eccentric southern charm.

ISBN: 9781250042651
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Published: Minotaur Books - July 8th, 2014

It seemed unthinkable to Painter's Mill Chief of Police Kate Burkholder that anyone would accidentally race through an intersection, smash into an Amish buggy, and leave Paul Borntrager and his three young children for dead - but it makes even less sense to her that anyone would do it intentionally, which is where her investigation is beginning to lead.  Paul's beautiful wife Mattie is devastated, and her one surviving son won't talk about the accident, but Mattie and Kate were as close as sisters growing up and Kate can't help thinking that Mattie is hiding something.  This series is one of my favorites - it contains an interesting blend of grittiness and Amish culture, and every story is fast-paced and full of twists.

ISBN: 9781609452520
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Published: Europa Editions - April 7th, 2015

The deadly Hurricane Flora of 1963 is bearing down on Cuba and eight women are evacuated to the former governor's mansion as their best chance at surviving it. This gorgeous novel is really a story in a story, as 'modern day Scheherazade' Maria begins the tale that will help them keep hope and themselves alive. This book is our June Book of the Month Club selection - I loved it, and so have several members who have finished it.

ISBN: 9780062297228
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Published: William Morrow & Company - June 9th, 2015

Oh my goodness - such drama over one book!  Agatha Christie websites argued for months before the hardcover release of this latest Hercule Poirot mystery.  I too, have been in love with M. Poirot since junior high, and I too, tend to have disdain for new stories about old characters, but I decided to give it a chance anyway.  This early case starts at a London coffee shop where a terrified young woman confides to Poirot that she is about to be murdered, and that when she is, justice will be done.  Her connection to a triple murder in a fashionable hotel - each victim having a monogrammed cuff link in his mouth - sets the famous detective into one of his most twisty cases.  Controversy aside, Sophie Hannah is a very good writer, and our beloved Poirot is in capable hands in this charming story.  It just released in paperback, so it's a great opportunity for you  to give it a chance, too...