Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square by Rosina Lippi

John Dodge finds himself on his way to Lamb's Corner, South Carolina to take over Scriveners, a store that specializes in selling fountain pens and stationary. Dodge likes to move around the country about every two years buying a small business and making it successful before he travels on. In Lamb's Corner's Lambert Square, he meets his new neighbor Julia Darrow, owner of Cocoon, a luxury bedding and sleepwear store. Julia and her many female employees all wear pajamas to work and the store is a hotbed of friendship and gossip. Soon, Dodge and Julia are keeping company together, but can their relationship overcome the baggage they both carry (his need to move on and her past life in Chicago)? The book is also filled with colorful secondary characters like Dodge's and Julia's employees and the other shopkeepers in town. An enjoyable and, at times, quirky read. For readers who enjoy Mary Kay Andrews or the Miss Julia books by Ann B. Ross.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Civil & Strange by Clair Ni Aonghusa

Play it "civil and strange" advises Ellen's Uncle Matt when she moves to the small Irish village of Ballindoon. Ellen has just bought her cousins' home and plans to fix it up after taking a year off from her teaching job in Dublin. Ellen spent summers here with her three cousins while growing up and Uncle Matt, her father's brother, has a farm outside town. By "civil and strange," Uncle Matt means to keep her distance from people because there are awful gossips around, especially at the village store. Ellen does become close, though, with her uncle, as well as with Beatrice (who has her own heartache) and Eugene (who builds Ellen a new kitchen and finds a way to her heart). The novel does a great job of showing life in contemporary Ireland, especially the changing countryside and its new, vibrant economy. An interesting read, like Maeve Binchy with a bit of a edge.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny

It's Easter time in the small French-Canandian village of Three Pines and the residents decide to hold a seance in the old Hadley house. The house is feared by many villagers, so it's no surprise that someone is scared to death during their outing. Soon they learn that the woman, Madeleine, was actually poisoned and Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his team come to Three Pines to find her murderer. Gamache, who investigated two deaths in Three Pines in the previous two books of the series, loves to stay at the local bed and breakfast owned by Gabri and Olivier and has become close with some of the people of the town, like married painters Clara and Peter. In this book, the story of fellow police officers out to get Gamache to leave his job is also continued from the other books. If you like mysteries that are slower paced, more literary with a great sense of place, give The Cruelest Month a try.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Killer's Wife by Bill Floyd

Leigh Wren changed her name from Nina Mosley, building a new life for herself and her young son, Hayden, far away from her past in California. Six years ago, her husband, Randy, was unmasked as a serial killer and is on death row. Her past catches up with her when Charles Pritchett, the father of one of Randy's victims, outs her as Randy's ex-wife. Pritchett has always believed that Nina was involved in Randy's murderous spree. Nina maintains that she had no idea what her husband was up to. Unfortunately, the discovery of Nina and Hayden's whereabouts is news to Randy and possibly a copycat killer, putting their lives in danger. In The Killer's Wife, the reader gets an unique view through Nina's eyes of her discovery of Randy's evil nature. A quick, fast-paced read.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella

When Lexi wakes up in the hospital after a car accident, she's in for a big surprise. Her body and hair are perfect, she's wealthy, and has a gorgeous husband. She's also lost three years of her life and only remembers when she was single, not so pretty and struggling with her career. Now she's supposed to adapt to a high-powered lifestyle and having an emotionally bereft husband, all of which seems so at odds with how she remembers herself. She also has somehow alienated her oldest friends. To complicate matters, a man named Jon tells her that they were having an affair and Lexi was going to leave her husband, Eric, for him. Will Lexi be able to reconcile her past with the present and find happiness? Kinsella writes her usual breezy humorous chick-lit novel and her regular readers won't be disappointed.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Deep Dish by Mary Kay Andrews

Gina Foxton's life is in the toilet. She's the host of a cooking show called Fresh Start and has just found out that her program has been canceled because her boyfriend Scott has been having an affair with the wife of the show's sponsor. Her only chance of pulling herself back together and avoiding moving back home to Odum, Georgia with her parents is to win a job on the Cooking Channel. Her competition is Tate Moody, host of Vittles, which is an outdoorsy cooking show. Barry Adelman, vice president of programming at the Cooking Channel will choose either Gina or Tate based on a series of cooking challenges that he has created for them. When Gina and Tate meet, there's an attraction, of course, but she must concentrate on the contest to save her pride and livelihood. Will Gina be able to win both Tate and a new job? Andrews, who also wrote many mysteries under the name Kathy Hogan Trocheck, writes a southern novel with fun characters, although it could have used more plot. Little Bitty Lies is my favorite book by her.

Friday, March 7, 2008

City of the Sun by David Levien

Parents Paul and Carol Gabriel are devastated when their twelve-year-old son Jamie disappears while delivering papers one morning. Fourteen months later, he's still missing and they're frustrated by the police department's lack of interest. As their marriage falls apart, they hire former-cop-turned-private-investigator Frank Behr. Behr is just what they need—a tenacious detective having good connections, yet willing to break the law if necessary. Behr also knows how the Gabriels' feel, having lost his own son years ago. Behr and Paul work together in order to find out what happened to Jamie--is he dead or alive? City of the Sun is a great page turner. I could not put it down despite the disturbing subject matter. It reminded me of the novels of Harlan Coben.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

What Never Happens by Anne Holt

Police detective Adam Stubo and his wife, profiler Johanne Vik, have just had their first child when a series of brutal murders sets Oslo on edge. Someone is murdering public figures, including a talk show host and a politician. Even though she's lacking sleep and taking care of a newborn, Adam asks for Johanne's help with the case, feeling that her time with the FBI and her expertise will help him find the killer. Johanne is able to find clues that no one else can, but her results turn out to be troubling on both the personal and professional level, putting their own lives in danger and revealing that killer might always roam free.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Changing Status by Hazel Hucker

Brambourne Manor in Hampshire has some new inhabitants. There’s Judge Hugh Thorne and his wife Celia who have moved to the area because he’s taken up a new job. Unhappy couple Alex and Fenella Lindridge have come to Brambourne with their two teenage children, Donna and Duncan, because he’s been made redundant. Longtime military man Martin Upcott with his wife Betty are also newly arrived and have to do some belt tightening because like Alex, he’s unemployed. The story is about these characters and how they cope with the changes in their lives. Because they are all living in the manor, which has been divided into individual residences, criss-crossing of lives is inevitable. Hucker writes a story that is like Maeve Binchy’s or Rosamunde Pilcher’s. Changing Status (which was OK) has not been published in the U.S., but two of her earlier books, A Dangerous Happiness and The Trials of Friendship were. I loved both of them.