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Friday, July 25, 2014

This Month's Reads - July '14

Well...I've decided to cut back from my weekly reading post to once a month.  Last Friday of every month, I'll post the highlights from that month's reading.  All in my efforts to keep blogging fun and realistic for me.  So here's my favorites from July.

Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio
Seattle, 1933. Single mother Vera Ray kisses her three-year-old son, Daniel, goodnight and departs to work the night-shift at a local hotel. She emerges to discover that a May-Day snow has blanketed the city, and that her son has vanished. Outside, she finds his beloved teddy bear lying face-down on an icy street, the snow covering up any trace of his tracks, or the perpetrator's.
Seattle, 2010. Seattle Herald reporter Claire Aldridge, assigned to cover the May 1 "blackberry winter" storm and its twin, learns of the unsolved abduction and vows to unearth the truth. In the process, she finds that she and Vera may be linked in unexpected ways...

Lovely. Interesting. Tragic. Well worth reading.

The Thieves of Manhattan by Adam Langer
The famously false memoirs of James Frey may be yesterday’s news, but as this funny riff reminds us, literary fakes are as old as literature itself. Ian Minot is an aspiring writer who labors over short stories that seem destined to remain unread. His beautiful Romanian girlfriend, Anya Petrescu, finds success more easily—and leaves Ian for Blade Markham, a bloviating ex-gangbanger whose “so-called memoir” is a best-seller. When Ian is approached by ex-editor Jed Roth, who wants Ian to publish Jed’s pulpy tale of book theft and murder as a memoir, then renounce it, it’s a chance for both of them to get revenge: Jed on his former employer, and Ian on the world. Although Langer may be too cute for some (he employs made-up slang in which a penis is a portnoy), he does an engaging job with the hall-of-mirrors plot. And if readers can predict that the book they’re reading is the one that Ian ends up writing, they’ll never guess the ending. Just when you want a surprising twist, Langer delivers several.

Okay, I loved this. How many books are you laughing and smiling about as you finish? I'm not even sure what to say about it, except that it was a delight...clever, snarky, and just...fun. Also thoroughly enjoyed the literary references (there's a glossary in the back to help you out on those you don't know or aren't obvious).
And now for my usual parental warning, so to speak: some language.

The Fortune Cafe by Julie Wright, Melanie Jacobson and Heather B. Moore
The Fortune Café 
A Tangerine Street Romance 
(a novel in three parts) 

Welcome to Tangerine Street 

Tangerine Street is a must-see tourist stop with a colorful mix of one-of-a-kind boutiques, unique restaurants, eclectic museums, quaint bookstores, and exclusive bed-and-breakfasts. The Fortune Café, situated in the middle of this charming collection of shops and cafés on Tangerine Street, is a Chinese restaurant unlike any other because, well, to be honest, the fortunes found in the cookies all come true… 

MIS-FORTUNE: Emma, a waitress at The Fortune Café will do anything to avoid opening a fortune cookie. Each fortune is rumored to somehow magically come true. Being a girl grounded in reality, she doesn’t have time for that kind of nonsense. But when trying to prevent a food fight at the café, Emma accidentally cracks open a fortune cookie: “Look around, love is trying to catch you.” If there is one thing that Harrison, her former best friend in high school is good at, it’s catching her unaware. 

LOVE, NOT LUCK: Lucy has always been lucky . . . until her parents meet her fiancé’s parents at a disastrous lunch at The Fortune Café, and she breaks her lucky jade necklace. Even worse, her fortune cookie reveals that “True love is for the brave, not the lucky.” How is she supposed to read that? She’s always considered it lucky how she met her fiancé. But after breaking her necklace, Lucy’s luck takes a dive. And when her fiancé dumps her, the only person she can turn to is Carter, the unluckiest guy she knows. 

TAKEOUT: Stella is content in her new life of taking over her mom’s jewelry shop. No more boyfriend to worry about, and as long as she stays busy, she doesn’t have to dwell on her non-existent love life. When Evan comes into the shop with his young daughter, Stella is charmed. But she is reluctant to complicate her straightforward life, so when she reads her fortune after ordering takeout from The Fortune Café, she completely ignores it. After all, how can a fortune as vague as “Do the thing you fear and love is certain,” apply to her?

Cute, fun, light-hearted reading.  Thoroughly enjoyed it.

While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax
When the concierge of The Alexander, a historic Atlanta apartment building, invites his fellow residents to join him for weekly screenings of Downton Abbey, four very different people find themselves connecting with the addictive drama, and—even more unexpectedly—with each other…
Samantha Davis married young and for the wrong reason: the security of old Atlanta money—for herself and for her orphaned brother and sister. She never expected her marriage to be complicated by love and compromised by a shattering family betrayal.
Claire Walker is now an empty nester and struggling author who left her home in the suburbs for the old world charm of The Alexander, and for a new and productive life. But she soon wonders if clinging to old dreams can be more destructive than having no dreams at all.
And then there’s Brooke MacKenzie, a woman in constant battle with her faithless ex-husband. She’s just starting to realize that it’s time to take a deep breath and come to terms with the fact that her life is not the fairy tale she thought it would be.
For Samantha, Claire, Brooke—and Edward, who arranges the weekly gatherings—it will be a season of surprises as they forge a bond that will sustain them through some of life’s hardest moments—all of it reflected in the unfolding drama, comedy, and convergent lives of Downton Abbey.

Delightful.  An ode to friendships and how they can be found in surprising places.

Killing Ruby Rose by Jessie Humphries
In sunny Southern California, seventeen-year-old Ruby Rose is known for her killer looks and her killer SAT scores. But ever since her dad, an LAPD SWAT sergeant, died, she's also got a few killer secrets.

To cope, Ruby has been trying to stay focused on school (the top spot in her class is on the line) and spending time with friends (her Jimmy Choos and Manolo Blahniks are nothing if not loyal). But after six months of therapy and pathetic parenting by her mom, the District Attorney, Ruby decides to pick up where her dad left off and starts going after the bad guys herself.

When Ruby ends up killing a murderer to save his intended victim, she discovers that she's gone from being the huntress to the hunted. There's a sick mastermind at play, and he has Ruby in his sights. Ruby must discover who's using her to implement twisted justice before she ends up swapping Valentino red for prison orange.

With a gun named Smith, a talent for martial arts, and a boyfriend with eyes to die for, Ruby is ready to face the worst. And if a girl's forced to kill, won't the guilt sit more easily in a pair of Prada peep-toe pumps?

Loved this. Sassy irreverent heroine. Lots of snark and wit. Fun.  I'll continue on in the series.
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