A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.
Time to share the books which have earned stars on my reading list in the first half of the year. The stars meaning that I’ve liked them best out of the dozens I’ve read thus far. There’s a good bit of variety and the reviews are in no particular order.
An Affair to Dismember by Elise Sax
Despite the grisly title, this is a great combination of chick-lit and whodunnit. It’s the first in the Matchmaker mystery series featuring Gladie Burger, who is being trained as a matchmaker while living with her grandmother. When a man across the street dies, Gladie’s strange encounters with his family makes her think he was really murdered. While trying to learn more, she runs into the acerbic and handsome police chief and is equally attracted and annoyed by him. Then there’s the well-built new neighbor who likes to work in his garden shirtless and might be an undercover CIA operative. The dialogue is really snappy and actually made me laugh out loud several times. For fans of Janet Evanovich looking for something a little different.
Ballantine Books 2013 320 pp. ISBN-13:978-0345532220 available in ebook and traditional formats
Once Upon a Flock by Lauren Scheuer
A truly delightful book, about a woman who decides to keep a small flock of chickens in her large semi-suburban backyard. When the fluffy chicks arrive, her whole family falls in love with them, though Marky, the terrier takes a bit of convincing. We follow the chicks as they grow up and become distinct personalities. The author is an illustrator and the artwork in this book ranges from photos to drawings to cartoons and many combinations of all three. They add a whimsical feeling to the project and a layer to the narrative.This memoir is a treat, especially for animal lovers.
Atria Books 2013 243 pp. ISBN 978-1-4516-9780-1
Live By Night by Dennis Lehane
Never having read this author before, I was a little nervous that he would be too violent, but was intrigued at the setting of Prohibition Boston(1920’s). Joe Coughlin is the son of the police chief who turns to petty crime and soon becomes entangled with a powerful gangster because they both share an affection for the same woman. After a prison stint, Joe moves to Florida and becomes a powerful gangster himself. Though the elements are familiar, the characters and events are quite compelling and there are some truly poignant moments, some of which still affected me weeks after finishing the book. I recently read that Ben Affleck is planning on making a movie version of it.
William Morrow 2012 416 pp. ISBN-13:978-0060004873 available in ebook and traditional formats
The Girls’ Guide to Love and Supper Clubs by Dana Bate
Though the pink cupcake on the cover portends chick-lit, this is really a novel about dreams and friendship. Hannah is employed by an economic think tank in Washington D.C., but what she really wants to do is become a chef, much to the horror of her professor parents. She and a friend, Rachel, decide to start an underground supper club, where people pay a fee to eat a fancy meal at a private home.The problem is that Hannah lives in a damp basement apartment. Since her landlord is away so often, they decide to “borrow” his townhouse for the supper clubs. How long will they be able to get away with this? Their cooking adventures and looking for love make this an enjoyable novel with serious undertones about being true to oneself.
Hyperion 2013 400 pp. ISBN-13:978-14013 11001 available in ebook and traditional formats
Love At First Bark by Julie Klam
A series of essays about the various dogs the author has rescued and fostered and the impact they’ve had on her life, such as the abandoned, but friendly pit bull which enabled the author and her husband to get through a rocky patch in their marriage. Written with a realistic outlook of the practical problems of balancing pets and family life and caring for dogs which have issues it avoids the syrupy tone that some dog books have. Though that doesn’t prevent some of the dogs from taking a place in your heart and admiring Klam’s efforts to help animals. I only wish this book would’ve been longer.
Riverhead 2011 192 pp. ISBN-13:978-1594488283 available in ebook and traditional formats