Upcoming Release: The Fixer Upper by Mary Kay Andrews

I have read 76 books so far in 2009. Whew, in the past 25 years I have never kept track of my reading, so as much as I knew I read A LOT I have never counted before.

I impress even myself (and I have a VERY high opinion of myself fyi).

Why am I mentioning this? Out of the 76 books I’ve read so far Mary Kay Andrew’s Savannah Blues was my favorite new book of all of them this year *applause*, and is now on my top favorites list of ALL TIME *cheers, and the crowd goes wild!*

So I am VERY happy to annouce her upcoming new release The Fixer Upper available on June 23rd, 2009.

fixer_upper_andrews

How freaking adorbs is that cover? Here is the blurb:

After her boss in a high-powered Washington public relations firm is caught in a political scandal, fledgling lobbyist Dempsey Jo Killebrew is left almost broke, unemployed, and homeless. Out of options, she reluctantly accepts her father’s offer to help refurbish Birdsong, the old family place he recently inherited in Guthrie, Georgia. All it will take, he tells her, is a little paint and some TLC to turn the fading Victorian mansion into a real-estate cash cow.

But, oh, is Dempsey in for a surprise when she arrives in Guthrie. “Bird Droppings” would more aptly describe the moldering Pepto Bismol–pink dump with duct-taped windows and a driveway full of junk. There’s also a murderously grumpy old lady, one of Dempsey’s distant relations, who has claimed squatter’s rights and isn’t moving out. Ever.

Furthermore, everyone in Guthrie seems to know Dempsey’s business, from a smooth-talking real-estate agent to a cute lawyer who owns the local newspaper. It wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the pesky FBI agents who show up on Dempsey’s doorstep, hoping to pry information about her ex-boss from her.

All Dempsey can do is roll up her sleeves and get to work. And before long, what started as a job of necessity somehow becomes a labor of love and, ultimately, a journey that takes her to a place she never expected—back home again.

Where there is no will, there is no power

I have no will power. I tried to trick myself into having some by saying, “Ok you are not allowed to slake your lust for reading until you write a good blog post.” (or 5)

So I managed not to read ONE SINGLE BOOK in the past 7 days ( a huge feat for me) but I certainly did not WRITE anything which was the whole point of denying myself. Why am I such a masochist? I did read 8273659 blog posts, 5243 wikipedia articles, 2 People Magazines, and 15 hours worth of Perez Hilton and TMZ.

My eyes hurt and my brain is mush.

I’m going to be even meaner to myself and make myself feel more guilty and proclaim that this post doesn’t really count, but I HAVE to start reading. mea culpa.

Mainly because last night I asked hubby to pick up some pork chops on his way home from work. I open the Whole Foods bag to start cooking and what is on top?

my_horizontal_life

Am I lucky or what? His office building is right over a Border’s book store and on his way out he remembered I said I wanted this book, which also means he was listening when I was talking! This is rare, let me tell ya.

Also I am traveling to Chicago this weekend and need plenty to read since somehow I am always delayed in O’Hare. So I am a super nerd-bomber, my suitcase is heavy with all books. I’m also bringing these with me:

eclipse_meyerbreaking_dawn_meyer

Bibliophilic Voyeurism

Something about that title puts my mind firmly in the gutter. It’s entrenched there most of the time anyways, I just can’t help it. But people was I MEANT WAS I am always sneaking peeks at what people are reading. I get a rush when I can read the cover, catch the title on top of a page, or even just recognize the cover art from a distance.

I’m not ashamed to be a bibliophilic voyeur (did I make that term up?), and my favorite way to act out this perversion is at the library. As much as I love the library I am SURE I am not the most perverted person there, puhlease, have you ever BEEN to the DC public libraries? They have to have to have guards there to stop people from sleeping/doing drugs/other things I don’t want to imagine.

Which reminds me of this disturbing scene in The Squid and Whale which scarred me for life. One of the sons is like TEN YEARS OLD and is all messed up from his parents’ divorce and JERKS OFF IN HIS SCHOOL LIBRARY (10 year olds can do that?) and then WIPES IT ON THE BOOKS!!!!! Sooooo sick and foul.

Aren’t you glad I shared?

So why the library? I’ve mentioned this before, but what REALLY makes my skirt fly up is when I find someone elses old library receipt in a book I borrow.

It’s a a more organic “If you like ___ then try ____” and I feel more of a connection since it is by accident and in person, rather than Amazon making a suggestion.

I posted earlier about one I found, and when I cracked open my newest library book last night I found my second one!!!! I tell ya it’s the little things in life that really count. This teensy scarp of paper put a grin on this lusty reader’s face:

library_receipt2

It’s not the best I’ve ever found, only one other book was on it, so I deflated a little bit, but persevered and looked up Songs for the Missing. A little more depressing than my usual fare (how a family is affected by the disappearance of their 18 year old daughter) and the book I’m currently reading (Wifey) is also a bit depressing so I don’t think I’m picking it up anytime soon.

But finding that definitely put a twinkle in this voyeur’s eye.

The Matchmaker of Périgord, by Julia Stuart

matchmaker of perigord

Title: The Matchmaker of Périgord

Author: Julia Stuart

Genre: Literary fiction (and I think dabbling in the burgeoning food-lit genre too)

Publisher: Harper Collins

Release Date: August 5th, 2008

Paperback: 318 pages

Stand alone or series: stand alone

Why did I read this book: I saw it on the end-cap facing out on the new releases shelf of my library. The cover art first caught my eye, followed up the blurb on the jacket saying, “For any reader who adored Chocolat…” Ok FINE I did not read Chocolat but I saw the movie and adored that! So there *glowering huffily*

Summary:Barber Guillaume Ladoucette has always enjoyed great success in his tiny village in southwestern France, catering to the tonsorial needs of Amour-sur-Belle’s thirty-three inhabitants. But times have changed. His customers have grown older—and balder. Suddenly there is no longer a call for Guillaume’s particular services, and he is forced to make a drastic career change. Since love and companionship are necessary commodities at any age, he becomes Amour-sur-Belle’s official matchmaker and intends to unite hearts as ably as he once cut hair. But alas, Guillaume is not nearly as accomplished an agent of amour, as the disastrous results of his initial attempts amply prove, especially when it comes to arranging his own romantic future.

Review: Ms. Stuart introduces us to the inappropriately named town of Amour-sur-Belle as there is no amour to be found. We follow middle-aged protagonist Guillaume Ladoucetteas he transitions from his lifetime passion and career of barbering to being the village with a population of thirty-three’s (33) match-maker. Along the way Guillaume’s childhood love returns as a divorcee to the village and joins the cast of crazy, eccentric, gossipy, food obsessed characters that make up this tiny hamlet.

There were quite a few laugh out loud moments with constant comedies of errors, family feuds, grudges, nicknames (such as the mushroom poisoner) and and also a few salivary moments as Ms. Stuart did not skimp on food descriptions. I want that goat cheese tart infused with walnut oil from the abbey!

Actually Ms. Stuart did not skimp on ANY descriptions and that was my main gripe with the novel. Every new room/street/house/garden that Guillaume walked into was written in extreme detail, so much so that I thought, “There must be a purpose, is this foreshadowing?” But as much as I appreciated being shown what surrounded Guillaume and what his village/home/shop/car looked like, ultimately it got boring and was too wordy. For example:

Above the bath taps was a set of shelves bearing a collection of exquisite gentlemens’ soaps. The bottom row was reserved for those he deemed too splendid to use, which were simply taken out of their boxes and sniffed. Next to the taps was a large loofah and a natural sponge containing two chest hairs. Lined up on top of the small marble-topped table by the sink was a razor in it’s box, a blue shaving mug that had belonged to his father and a badger-hair shaving brush with an ivory handle.

Besides the soap “too splendid to use” (I have totally saved soap/lotion like this before) none of the other items needed description in such detail. And this is the way EVERY SHELF in his basement was treated, every row of vegetables in his garden was treated, etc. It was too much.

With all this detail I DID get a really vivid picture of the village and it’s inhabitants, which I appreciated, but then so much of the description kept being repeated. Did Ms. Stuart think we would forget? She copied phrases and entire paragraphs word for word five, six, seven times. Some examples:

supermarket leather sandals 

crawled his hairy toes

scandalous ramparts

(s)he wore an ancient dress cut off at the knees and her hair twisted up with something sparkly

And whenever a new character was introduced we learned their entire life history, their parents names, occupations, how they did in elementary school, who their first kiss was, did they cheat on their spouse, how were they caught, were they happy, etc… Each villager was SO QUIRKY and SO INTERESTING that I wanted to know about them, their story needed to be told, but it made the narrative flow very choppy.

I would recommend this book to someone who loves to travel and loves France (both of which I adore) but this is not a “chick lit” book for everyone.

Notable quotes/parts: I LOVED how Guillaume went to the doctor and they diagnosed him immediately with a “broken heart” for all the unshed tears they could see in his throat and ears. This was a powerful description for me, even though it was a bit fantastical in an otherwise very down to earth novel.

Verdict: Loved the anecdotes about eccentric characters, but would have made a better short story about JUST Guillaume, or collection of short stories, with less repetition.

Grade: C

Friday Finds (May 15)

friday_finds_buttonWhat great books did you hear about or discover this week? Share with us at Friday Finds! Hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading!

 

I will be reading lots this weekend as I only have two plans:

  1. Bridal shower in PA (one of my MANY romance related events this year)
  2. Going to our local dog-wash, LaundroMutt because they’re giving 50% off for BLACK DOGS!!!! What an amazing idea! I love DC. 

Here are my Friday finds, did you find anything good this week? Got any fun weekend plans, reading related or otherwise?

matchmaker of perigordThe Matchmaker of Perigord, by Julia Stuart: while browsing my library’s new release section the title popped out to me and I only had to read one line on the cover jacket blurb, “For any reader who adored Chocolat…” and that’s all I needed to see, sign me up!

 

 

 

WifeyWifey, by Judy Blume: Hate hate hate the title. no really i don’t like it, can you tell? Are you there Judy Blume? It’s me – wifey hater. Luckily my love for Ms. Blume and all her literary creations whether they be fudge, blubber, or otherwise supersedes my dislike for that word.

I loved her other adult novel Summer Sisters(even though the ending was a bit wonky) and didn’t realize she had written more! Besides Wifey there is also Smart Women, but it was already checked out of my library.

myhorizontallifeMy Horizontal Life, by Chelsea Handler- saw a good review by Olga on Get The To A Punnery, and oh dear God do I adore her blog name. I think Chelsea Handler is funny on her show, but to hear that she is funnier in her book about her sexcapades? Even better!

I don’t wear coke bottle glasses but I did get a Large Print book from the library

It was imperative that I get my grubby little mitts on Devilish by Jo Beverly as it was the last book in a series I was reading, but sadly my library did not have it. Then hark! For what did I spy in the online catalog? But the very title which I sought! Just in the “Large Print” section. Hmmmm I pondered, what would reading a large print book be like? Are they too big to hold comfortably? Would my eyes feel weird looking at the giant text?

After posing these questions to my genius e-friends on twitter I was met with a resounding, “Yes, read large print, it’s fine!”

So not 15 minutes after I started brooding upon the topic I sprang up from my office chair, flew to the elevator, and marched directly over to the library 2 blocks away from where I work.

Not only did I find Devilish but almost EVERY BOOK on the Large Print shelves was either romance or mystery in genre. There were very few other reading categories represented. I had a devilish time (hehehehehe) tearing myself away from the row upon row of ROMANCE AFTER ROMANCE book staring me in the face. But they were all hard cover and quite large so I knew I couldn’t walk out of there with very many.

Never having been to the LP section before I was shocked that they were almost all genre fiction. Why was that I pondered? Am I wrong in assuming that people with poor vision read large print? And that people with poor vision are usually old? Thus I concluded [with no data, research or facts] that old people love reading romance and detective stories.

Where do I sign up for the Nobel prize for that bit of logic?

Reading the large print was fine, it didn’t bother my eyes, and the book wasn’t that much bigger. I did notice the rhythm of my reading pace was different and it was a little disconcerting that I always seemed so far away from the end of the book since there were twice as many pages, but the main thing was I felt like I should be wearing coke bottle glasses. It was pretty obvious it was a large print book so I tried to hide the back cover while I was on the metro. Here is a picture with One For The Money used to show scale:

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When I return it to the library I know I am going to feel a pull, the lure of the Large Print section where I can browse romance novels all lined up in a row, not having to search, with so many choices right before my eyes. It will be hard to resist, but I think LP’s will have to be reserved only when I must must have a title. Or for when I get old and can’t see.

Housekeeepeeeng! [Awards and memes]

Time for a little housekeeping around the lusty reading den. I received two bloggie awards and need to pass them along and I was also tagged in a meme [which incidentally is not pronounced Mee mee, like I thought. But it’s about me, wouldn’t that make sense? Sigh, I’m just gonna add that to the list of words I’ve read a million times but then the first time I said them out-loud I was horribly wrong, like epitome, clandestine, omniscient, etc.]

Ahem, back to the topic at hand. Onward and upward (downward actually) to the awards!

Karen at Planet Books delighted me with the Friends Award:Award_Lets_Be_friends

“These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated.”

And Art Ravels called me lovely!:

lovely

Disregarding the specific rules of numbers [just call me a Lusty Rebel] I’m going to combine the awards, y”all can pick if you’re feeling friendly or lovely since I think you’re both!!!!

  • My Little Becky: This girl is totes presh and fabu. And she also has a penchant for shortening words.
  • Alice’s Wonderland: New blog to me after meeting IRL!
  • DC Striving: She has a cute dog and lives in my hood. These are perfect reasons to like her.
  • Live It, Love It: Although Lilu prolly doesn’t need another award, but I can’t leave my #1 e-crush out

And now for the meme [it’s all about me, what i think, what i like, what i know, what i want, what i see], ok that wasn’t the meme, but now I have that song stuck in my head. Which is fine because this blog IS all about me!!! *smug grin*

List 4 Pet Peeves

  1. People hailing taxis when there aren’t any coming. Put your hand DOWN people!!! Even worse? When there  are NO CARS ON THE ROAD AT ALL. How these morons survive I have no idea.
  2. Windshield wipers on too fast, or when it’s barely raining. That sqeeeak on the windshield drives me nuts. I have asked cab drivers to turn them down/off it bothers me so bad.
  3. Taking food out of the microwave before the time is up and not pushing clear so .09 seconds is left on the display. My OCD says I MUST hit clear and restore to clock display.
  4. Dirty library books, I’ve gotten ones with people hair, pet hair, snot, smelling of smoke, and mystery stickiness. Ugh, hate it.

4 things you love:

Any four of these things would eradicate any feelings of irritation from my above pet peeves:

  1. Otters, I mean just wook at der wittle faces. Soooo cutesy wutsey!
  2. Cheese puffs, mmm my mouth just watered thinking about the crunch and resulting orange fingers.
  3. Flip flops, I would wear them year round if I could.
  4. Reorganizing my book shelves, I could probably do this once a week at least and it makes me all happee in my pants to take them all out, pile them up on the floor and then analyze heights, problem solve too many similar colors, trouble shoot where to put different genres, and strategize how and where they should go together.

Otters

 

 

Got your STD

Email Subject: Got your STD

To Danni: It’s gorgeous! I love the colors, it really pops out on our fridge.

To me: It is lovely to get emails entitled “Got your STD.”  I thought it was junk mail for the clap or something!!

To Danni: yay getting married and not having to be worried about getting stds anymore.

Ahhh life in your mid-twenties, wrought with STDs as save the dates or otherwise. Love is in the air my internet friends! I have been lackadaisical about posting recently, but I have been otherwise engaged (I am full of double entendres today) with all things wedding, just check out our fridge:

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And that’s only the top half.

As much as I adore my romance novels full of happiness, emotional satisfaction, passion, and fulfilling relationships ultimately they are fiction. Obviously.

But with baby showers, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, weddings, and baptisms adding up to TWELVE total events this year I am surround by true love in real life. And NOTHING beats that.

Here are some other examples of real life true love for you to peruse on this cloudy Monday instead of doing work:

1. Famous blogger Pioneer Woman’s romance novel titled story following her courtship of rugged rancher Marlboro Man from the night they met to all their wedding drama:

Ree_Pioneer_WomanBlack Heels to Tractor Wheels (careful though, I spent 3 hours straight reading this the first time I found it, AND I teared up)

 

 

2. The band Plain White Tee’s popular video for their love song 1, 2, 3, 4. The video shows true couples around the band’s hometown of Chicago and details how long they’ve been together, but it is the last scene that got me sobbing into my frosted mini-wheats as I watched the Top 20 countdown on VH1 Saturday morning.

The lead singer wrote the song for his girlfriend. Sooo much more meaningful if it is TRUE! What a genius.

plainwhitetsOk I just tried 9 times to embed a video, one of these days I’m going to figure it out. Here is the youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYp0GVzmLgY

The Laurentine Spy, by Emily Gee

In honor of the fabulous blog I found this book on I’m using their book review format:

laurentine_spyTitle: The Laurentine Spy

Author: Emily Gee

Genre: Fantasy with strong romantic elements

Publisher: Solaris

Release Date: May 5th, 2009

Paperback: 410 pages

Stand alone or series: Stand alone

Summary: The Corhonase citadel is a place of virtue and debauchery – and deadly secrets. For the Laurentine spies embedded there, every day brings danger. Nothing is as it seems, whether in the ballrooms and salons of the nobles’ court or the catacombs beneath it all.

Saliel has many secrets; her spying is one, her past as a pickpocket in Laurent’s slums is another, but her most deeply guarded secret is the magic she posses. She walks a narrow path between discovery as a spy and being burned as a witch. With a sadistic Spycatcher closing in, Saliel and her fellow spies are tested to the limits of their endurance. In the fight to stay alive they must trust each other – or die.

Why did I read this book: Ana’s review at The Book Smugglers was the impetus for me, I wanted to try a new genre to mix up my reading and keep things fresh, but still with my ever-favorite romantic elements and a happily ever after.

Review: After turning the last page I’m still waiting for my heart to start beating normally again. That was intense!

The adventure/action/intrigue scenes were agonizing in a good way, I’ll admit to skimming some pages to find out What Happens Next because Gee was great at keeping the reader in suspense and building up to events. Although I did find some of the conflicts seemed to be elongated just to keep the characters together, like a key breaking and having to wait 5 days for a new one to be made, just seemed a bit too much of a plot contrivance to me.

I agree with a lot of Ana’s points, though billed as a Dark Fantasy this definitely had more of a romance feel to it – it had so many more character driven points, following the relationship development between two main characters, Saliel and fellow undercover Laurentine spy Athan, with less fantasy world building. But overall I think it was most appropriate it was in the Sci Fi section of my bookstore when I bought it. Gee included plenty of little details like the difference in Laurent and Corhona’s cultures, freedoms, social behavior, even the sounds of the languages that still shaped my imagination to create another time in another universe comfortably.

The repressed society of Corhona actually reminded me of a Margaret Atwood type world, like The Handmaid’s Tale maybe? It’s been a while since I read that one though.
Also I would have loved a map of Corhona/Laurent/Marillaqa etc. as the second half of the story follows Saliel and Athan’s flight from Corhona to return to their native Laurent traveling through other countries along the way.
I was really emotionally tied to what the characters were experiencing to all the extremes. I genuinely feared and detested the spycatcher and his witch’s Eye (he could make people tell the truth) but LOVED that Saliel could resist it! I love it when the heroine has speshul qualities like that.
That being said poor Saliel really had the deck stacked against her. In the relationship conflicts with Athan every revelation was something bad on HER part: orphan with no knowledge of her parents, growing up in the slums, stealing, having the Eye… While she has an amazing personality, internal strength, quiet determination, beauty and all her other positives, the negatives were just a little too much.
Not that I wanted her to pull a Captain Lone Starr in Spaceballs where he turns out to be a Prince at the very last minute…that plot line can really annoy me, but I thought she was just given a bit too harsh of a time.
It certainly made Athan’s struggle to accept her more interesting as Laurent has a very strict caste system and other characters shun Saliel when they find out about her heritage (or lack of one), and his love for her that much more meaningful. Without giving too much away I’ll just say it was a very satisfying HEA.
Notable quotes/parts: When Athan is analyzing how he feels about Saliel and trying to understand her now that he knows the many dark secrets of her background:
“He’d watched a painter once, over several days. The man had created his background meticulously, using layer upon layer of pigment. When the painting was completed none of those individual layers had been visible to the eye. With Saliel he’d seen the final result. He’d known who she was as a person – private, relying on no one but herself – without knowing why…She wasn’t unusual; she was remarkable.”
Verdict: Fast paced, heart pounding adventure with a strong historical romance feeling theme.
Grade: B+

Trivia I learned from books Vol. 4

Every now and then in the 782354 books I read I’ll come across a phrase, word, or noun that seems like I should know what it is, but I don’t. The author slipped it in like it was common knowledge and there are some context clues, but I need to know more! So off to Google and Wikipedia I go!

Even though I know what it means when a Hero is “pinked” in a fencing duel at dawn in Hyde Park, or what a doppelganger is, or I recognize the romantic quote “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” from the Bible…in my recent reads I ran across a few new-to-me bits of trivia:

1. Rilke: as in “Henry was known to quote Rilke to aid in expressing himself.”

From the context in Time Traveler’s Wife I figured Rilke was some type of rainer_maria_rilkewriter, but I hadn’t heard of him before. I didn’t feel too bad about that since I didn’t like Henry very much and thought he came off as a trying-too-hard-hipster, but I looked up Rilke to see what I was missing out on. According to his Wikipedia page he was a famous 20th Century German poet, traveling across Eastern Europe, Russia, and finally settling in Switzerland. He met Leo Tolstoy, had a relationship with a woman student of Freud, and his writings were of a philosophical nature .

Yeah, that’s not really my style, but now I can sound more edumicated!

2. ankh: as in “Quinn arranged the giant ankh on the stage to prepare for the vampire wedding ceremony.”

credit radiowood2000 on Flickr

credit radiowood2000 on Flickr

So when I read this in All Together Dead it wasn’t the first time I had heard about an ankh, don’t worry, I’m not THAT out of it. But while I thought I knew what one was, I wanted to be sure, and also to understand what it symbolized. As soon as I looked it up it made TOTAL sense in that scene.

The ankh was an Egyptian hieroglyphic character for “eternal life.” Well duh, that would be good to use at a vampire ceremony.

3. Jimmy Smits: As in “The vampire entering Merlotte’s looked like a twin of Jimmy Smits.”

This was from one of the Sookie books, don’t ask me which one, I just read alljimmy_smits 9 of them in the past 7 days. I got NO context clues and I felt like an idiot for not recognizing that name , but when I checked out his IMDB page I didn’t feel so bad. I was a bit young to see him on L.A. Law, and I don’t watch NYPD Blue or The West Wing. That last sentence makes me sound un-American, oh well!

 

4. Rhodes, IL: as in “The vampire summit was being held in Rhodes, outside Chicago. Our hotel was right next to Lake Michigan!”

So I’m from outside Chicago and I couldn’t place where Rhodes was. I racked my brains, checked google maps, and mapquest for a Rhodes IL, Rhodes WI, or Rhodes IN.

Yeah, it’s a fictional place. FML.

I feel dumb.

I mean I knew Bon Temps, LA didn’t exist either, but with Dallas, Shreveport, and New Orleans all being featured, my brain was on “non fictional cities” track.