Monday, July 28, 2008

Gods In Alabama - Joshilyn Jackson

Rating:4 Tell a Friend over a Derby Pie (ääää)
Pages: 320
Challenges: Summer Thing
Review (from
When Arlene Fleet headed off to college in Chicago, she made three promises to God: She would never again lie, never fornicate outside of marriage, and never, ever go back to her tiny hometown of Possett, Alabama (the "fourth rack of Hell"). All God had to do in exchange was to make sure the body of high school quarterback Jim Beverly was never found. Ten years later, Arlene has kept her promises, but an old schoolmate has recently turned up asking questions. And now Arlene’s African American beau has given her a tough ultimatum: introduce him to her family, or he’s gone. As she prepares to confront guilt, discrimination, and a decade of deception, Arlene is about to discover just how far she will go to find redemption--and love.

If you like books on relationships you will love this book! It's not your average relationship book. There is a love interest but that isn't the interesting relationship. There is also a mystery - what happened 10 years ago to drive Arlene away and why has she made a deal with God...and is the mystery really what she thinks it is? This is one of those books that is hard to put down. I enjoyed this one much better than The Girl Who Went Swimming.

There's No Place Like Here - Cecelia Ahern

Rating: 2 Drink more Mint Juleps before reading (åå)
Pages: 340
Challenges: Chick Lit, Summer Reading Thing

Synopsis (from
Lost and found People disappear every day, some because they choose to leave their old lives behind, and some for more unpleasant reasons. Things, too, disappear: mittens and cell phones, wallets and luggage. In every case, someone is left behind; someone is left to wonder what happened.

Ever since her classmate Jenny-May vanished when they were ten years old, Sandy Shortt has been obsessed with finding things. Now grown, Sandy's obsession has become a calling, with her own agency devoted to locating missing persons. But with every failed case, Sandy is plagued with questions: Where do missing people go? Are they alive or dead? Did they intend to disappear, or did they suffer some cruel fate? As these questions threaten to consume her, Sandy suddenly finds that she, herself, has disappeared, and that she has found all the answers she's always searched for in a magical place where all lost things and people go.

A romance that explores the meaning of loss and love, There's No Place Like Here is Cecelia Ahern's most satisfying, most inspired, most entrancing novel yet.

I did not like this book at all. I thought it was slow and at some points very confusing whose perspective the story was being told from (I listened to it on CD). I didn't like the story concept that there is this black hole - a mysterious world where missing things/people go. For some reason Sandy found herself here. They don't explain how or why and then mysteriously leaves with no explanation of how and why. Just weird. This is classified as Chick Lit, but it's not what my impression of Chick Lit is. Has anyone else read this? What do you think?

I have PS I Love you in a challenge and I am hoping that it is better!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Harvesting the Heart - Jodi Picoult

Rating: 2 Drink more Mint Juleps before reading (åå)
Pages: 464
Challenges: Summer Reading Thing, Reading Full Circle Challenge

Synopsis (from
Paige has only a few vivid memories of her mother, who left when she was five. Now, having left her father behind in Chicago for dreams of art school and marriage to an ambitious young doctor, she finds herself with a child of her own. But her mother's absence, and shameful memories of her past, make her doubt both her maternal ability and her sense of self worth.

I really like Jodi Picoult books but I struggled with this one. I had a hard time with first I cannot believe that a child who was abandoned would abandoned her own. OK she just left for a while, but when she left she didn't have any intent on coming back. Second, she seemed to have very little anger against her mother for leaving her. I just really struggled with Paige and didn't believe she would react the way that she did. Also I struggled with her as a mother leaving her child. So needless to say I struggled a lot with this book but FINALLY finished it. If you are interested in Picoult I would start with Salem Falls and skip this one!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Love Walked In - Marisa De Los Santos

Rating: 4 Tell a Friend over a Derby pie (ääää)

Pages: 307
Challenge: Summer Thing, tl;dr

A tribute to classic film and true romance, Love Walked In tells the story of two women – one older, one younger – and the unexpected ways in which their lives are forever changed by chance.

For thirty-one-year old Cornelia Brown, life is a series of movie moments, and "Jimmy Stewart is always and indisputably the best man in the world, unless Cary Grant should happen to show up." So imagine Cornelia's delight when her very own Cary Grant walks through the door of the hip Philadelphia café she manages. Handsome and debonair, Martin Grace sweeps Cornelia off her feet, becoming Cary Grant to Cornelia's Katharine Hepburn, Clark Gable to her Joan Crawford. Meanwhile, on the other side of town, eleven-year-old Clare Hobbes must learn to fend for herself after her increasingly unstable mother has a breakdown and disappears. With no one to turn to, Clare seeks out her estranged father, and when the two of them show up at Cornelia's café, the lives of Cornelia and Clare are changed in drastic and unexpected ways. A cinematic and heartfelt debut that pays homage to the classic Cary Grant/Katharine Hepburn romantic comedy The Philadelphia Story, Love Walked In is sure to win over critics and readers of contemporary fiction.

I liked this book a lot, but struggled with the end. I thought the end was out of character for Cornelia and what she had shown her personality to mean. I loved the story and how a chance encounter wound their lives together. This is my first book by Marisa De Los Santos and I plan on reading more.

Sugar Queen - Sarah Addison Allen

Rating: 4 Tell a Friend over a Derby pie (ääää)
Pages: 267
Challenges: Summer Thing (swap), Pub Challenge

Synopsis (from
Sarah Addison Allen tells the tale of a young woman whose family secrets—and secret passions—are about to change her life forever.Twenty-seven-year-old Josey Cirrini is sure of three things: winter in her North Carolina hometown is her favorite season, she’s a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and sweets are best eaten in the privacy of her hidden closet. For while Josey has settled into an uneventful life in her mother’s house, her one consolation is the stockpile of sugary treats and paperback romances she escapes to each night…. Until she finds it harboring none other than local waitress Della Lee Baker, a tough-talking, tenderhearted woman who is one part nemesis—and two parts fairy godmother…
Fleeing a life of bad luck and big mistakes, Della Lee has decided Josey’s clandestine closet is the safest place to crash. In return she’s going to change Josey’s life—because, clearly, it is not the closet of a happy woman. With Della Lee’s tough love, Josey is soon forgoing pecan rolls and caramels, tapping into her startlingly keen feminine instincts, and finding her narrow existence quickly expanding.
Before long, Josey bonds with Chloe Finley, a young woman who makes the best sandwiches in town, is hounded by books that inexplicably appear whenever she needs them, and—most amazing of all—has a close connection to Josey’s longtime crush.
As little by little Josey dares to step outside herself, she discovers a world where the color red has astonishing power, passion can make eggs fry in their cartons, and romance can blossom at any time—even for her. It seems that Della Lee’s work is done, and it’s time for her to move on. But the truth about where she’s going, why she showed up in the first place—and what Chloe has to do with it all—is about to add one more unexpected chapter to Josey’s fast-changing life.Brimming with warmth, wit, and a sprinkling of magic, here is a spellbinding tale of friendship, love—and the enchanting possibilities of every new day.
Review -
I really liked this book. I liked that the chapters were named after Candy! Here are some quotes that I liked:
This is about a new maid (Helena) who spoke very little English that was hired
to help Margaret after a hip replacement (including bathing which this quote is
about). “But Helena could never quite grasp what was required of
her. She would sit on the lowered toilet lid, her eyes adverted, anxiously
wringing her hands while Margaret sat in the tub and played charade to get her
to understand soap.(7)”

“Della Lee, you’re living in my closet, you’re blackmailing me over candy, and you are currently wearing 16 articles of clothing. It’s amazing to me that you think I have problems. You need to form a plan for yourself (60).”

“’Why do you buy books you don’t even read?’ our daughter asks us. That’s like asking someone who lives alone why they bought a cat. For company of course. (180)”
This book made me laugh out loud during many times! Chloe has books that just appear when she needs him – bad break up with a boyfriend a book on forgiveness appears. I think if I was to die before my daughter was an adult this is what I would want to do…send her books on whatever I thought she needed to learn or should read for enjoyment. And the books relentlessly follow Chloe around until she reads them…doesn’t that just sound like a mother?!
I did have one problem with this book and that is the cover. The book main character is a "thick" girl. The girl on the cover certainly is not. It is possible that it is a different character by why wouldn't they put the main character on the cover...things that make you go hmm...

Hidden - Shelley Shepard Gray

Rating: 4 Tell a Friend over a Derby pie (ääää)

Pages: 272

Challenges: Pub Challenge, 1st in a series (Sisters of the Heart), Summer Thing

Synopsis (from
When Anna decides it's time to leave her abusive boyfriend, she doesn't know where to turn. Rob has completely won over her parents, and the entire community, with his good looks and smooth charm. Only Anna has seen his dark side.
Desperate, she runs to the only place she's ever felt completely safe—the Amish Brenneman Bed and Breakfast, where Anna met life-long friend Katie Brenneman. The family welcomes her in, and with few questions asked allows her to stay, dressed in Plain clothing, and help around the inn.
Katie's older brother Henry is the only one who doesn't take too kindly to the intrusion. He tries to ignore Anna, knowing no good would ever come from caring for an Englisher like her. But as he gets to know Anna, he discovers her good heart and is surprised with her readiness to accept their lifestyle.
The more time Anna spends with the Amish, the more she feels she's found a true home. But how can she deny the life she left behind? And will her chance for happiness be stolen away by the man from her past?


Fabulous! I really enjoyed this and it was a great book to read during the Read-a-thon. I liked that a majority of the characters were Christians when the book started, so it wasn't the Christian formula that someone finds God - they have God from the beginning. It was entertaining and kept me turning the pages. I even gave this to my friend who was doing the read-a-thon with me and she read it in one sitting too! I can't wait to the other books of the series come out!

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan - Lisa See

Rating: 4 Tell a Friend over a Derby pie (ääää)
Pages: 258
Challenges: Summer Reading Thing, TBR
Synopsis (from
In nineteenth-century China, in a remote Hunan county, a girl named Lily, at the tender age of seven, is paired with a laotong, “old same,” in an emotional match that will last a lifetime. The laotong, Snow Flower, introduces herself by sending Lily a silk fan on which she’s painted a poem in nu shu, a unique language that Chinese women created in order to communicate in secret, away from the influence of men. As the years pass, Lily and Snow Flower send messages on fans, compose stories on handkerchiefs, reaching out of isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments. Together, they endure the agony of foot-binding, and reflect upon their arranged marriages, shared loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood. The two find solace, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. But when a misunderstanding arises, their deep friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart.
I liked the fact that this book takes you to a completely different place that I wouldn't have experienced without it. If you enjoyed Memoirs of a Geisha you will enjoy this book. I thought parts were heart breaking and it was a difficult book to read, but the story was very good and it was great learning about Chinese culture.