Sunday, September 25, 2011

What I've Read This Week

What I've Read This Week . . .

The Luck of the Buttons by Anne Ylvisaker -- Middle Grades Historical Fiction

Tugs Button is not expected to make anything of her life. She comes from a perfectly ordinary, if not unlucky, family in rural Iowa. It's 1929 and 12 year old Tug is at an in-between stage. She doesn't know where she fits in with her family or with the other girls in her neighborhood. When she makes friends with the wealthier, but also tomboyish, Aggie and a slick stranger comes to town, Tug's life begins to change and just maybe, she can change her luck after all. I liked this book but didn't love it. I expected more from it being an Independent Booksellers' choice. I hoped it would be one of those unforgettable books but instead I felt it was merely average. The mystery was so obvious even the target age child could figure it out right away and it was resolved a little too quickly and easily. I had hoped Tug's burgeoning interest in photography would be made more of and factor into the plot in a larger way with more insight into why she loves it, how much it means to her and how it has impacted her life. I did like the quirky secondary characters and the local color a lot. I would recommend this to advanced second grade readers through third grade or beginning fourth grade.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Little Miss Austen : Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice : 
A Counting Primer 
by Jennifer Adams with art by Alison Oliver

This board book is an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice for babies. Yes, that's right, babies. It's set up as a counting primer, with each number representing something in the story such as 1 English village, 2 rich gentlemen and so on to 10. It's beautifully illustrated on one side with a giant number and a background design that reflects the subject. On the other side of the page is an adorable comic style illustration to provide a visual cue for the number and also to explain the story. See examples online at the publisher's website.

I found this little book charming and delightful. My favorite pages are 4 and 5 which actually summarize the events of the novel. I know some purists object to watering down the novel to this form but I think it's a great idea. It's the only way I can get my sister (an adult) to read Jane Austen without vampires or zombies and hopefully her daughter will develop an interest in Jane Austen and pick up the actual novel when she's older. If anything, my sister's daughter will understand the themes of the story perfectly. If Mr. Bingley moved in next door, my brother-in-law would be arranging a marriage between his daughter and the Bingley heir or even Bingley himself! 

This is the perfect addition to the library of any Janeite with someone small in their lives or those who like good art or amusing adaptations. I can't wait to see which books they publish next!

What I Read Last Week

What I've Read This Week Part II . . .

Lady Fiasco by Kathleen Baldwin -- Regency Romance

This is the first book in the trilogy featuring Aunt Honore. The other two being Mistaken Kiss and Cut From the Same Cloth. In this book Tyrell, Earl of Westmont has returned home from the wars to take up his duty upon his father's death. His mother is determined it's high time he marry and give her a grandson. Tyrell is angry at the world for he feels that he should still be on the battlefield in Spain and not in the ballroom. He's determined not to even look at any of the young ladies his mother forces on him but then he encounters his childhood playmate Fiona Hawthorn. Fiona was always an adorable elf and Tyrell soon discovers that the little elf has grown into a beautiful minx. Fiona tries to warn Tyrell of her reputation for disaster. The villagers all think she's cursed and even her stepmother doesn't want to be around her. Tyrell cares little for curses and pursues Fiona. However, Tyrell refuses to be leg shackled and when he always gets carried away with Fiona he storms off in anger. Fiona's Aunt Honore comes to the rescue and brings Fiona to the attention of the ton first in Brighton and then in London. Aunt Honore's eccentric ways and Fiona's accident prone nature make Fiona the belle of the ball. Soon Aunt Honore's stepson Marcus becomes jealous of Fiona and is determined that her reputation will keep him in his inheritance. Tyrell soon follows Fiona to London raging with anger and jealousy. He's determined that Marcus should not have Fiona but he doesn't seem to want her himself - or does he? Obviously this is a romance novel and the plot is pretty obvious. It follows a bit of a different path though since the hero and heroine already know each other. Fiona is likable enough and I felt sorry for her that everyone thought she was cursed. I loved Aunt Honore in the previous two books I read. She's outrageous and shocking but in this first novel she's not quite as funny. I did not like Tyrell at all. He's hot tempered, jealous, brooding and uncontrollable. We never really learn his whole story and he never talks to Fiona about why he refuses to be married. I do not like heroes with anger management problems. This is an average read. The other two books are better, with Cut From the Same Cloth having the most depth. Each book stands alone so you do not need to read them all or in order. 

Town Bronze by Kate Huntington -- Regency Romance

Christopher Warrington spent the last eleven years in hellish prisons in France. Now he has returned to England and to the rule of his autocratic grandfather, the Viscount Adderly. Christopher's grandfather wants Christopher to marry Cassandra Davies, the Viscount's ward and the sooner the better. The lady objects to the match and Christopher also wants nothing to do with the sharp tongued young girl, but the Viscount remains adamant. Christopher is not about to exchange one prison for another so he hares off to London without a moment's notice. Grandfather and Cassandra soon follow. Cassandra is thrilled to be in London where she will be able to do the Season at last. Her miserly guardian has hitherto not allowed her to have a Season. At two and twenty Cassandra is a bit naive but she's not so naive to know that when she next encounters Christopher, he has acquired a great deal of town bronze. Christopher arrives in London thinking he'll take his time to find a bride and get reacquainted with London. He becomes friendly with the fashionable widow Mrs. Benningham who helps him when he is in need. At first Cassandra has the time of her life in London. She enjoys the attentions of Lord Whitby, an Earl's heir. Christopher despises Whitby and tries his hardest to keep Cassandra out of harm's way. His jealously does nothing to endear him to the lady but perhaps she isn't the awful creature he has always believed her to be. Cassandra loves London but she can't help but feel like something is missing. This is a typical Regency story that contains slightly different plot elements. Christopher's plot is interesting and unusual, especially. Cassandra's plot feels very realistic and the interaction between Christopher and Cassandra is wonderful. There are some amusing moments but little actual romance. Cassandra's character is a bit stereotypical at first. She comes across as mercenary. She becomes well-developed as the story progresses and I liked her more. She's naive but not stupidly innocent. She has spark and fire and she knows what she wants. Christopher is charming and witty but he has a nasty temper that I'm not fond of. He's much kinder than many Regency heroes, however, and others may love him. The end of the story seems a bit rushed but it's funny and sweet just the same. I really enjoyed this book. It's well-written, realistic (as much as a Regency novel of this type can be) and a cut above the average Regency novel.

Monday, September 12, 2011

What I've Read This Week Part I

What I've Read This Week Part I . . .

Ruby Red (Ruby Red trilogy book 1)  by Kerstin Gier, translated by Anthea Bell -- Young Adult fantasy

Sixteen-year-old Gwynneth Shepherd is an average teenage girl living in London and attending high school. She just happens to be able to talk to ghosts. That's not the only weird thing about her. Her great-aunt has visions and her cousin is expected to inherit the time travel gene that is passed down through the female line of the family. Beautiful, intelligent cousin Charlotte Montrose has been raised with the secret knowledge of the time travel society to which the family belongs. However, the Montrose family is in for a shock became it's not Charlotte that has inherited the gene, it's Gwen! Gwen unexpectedly and uncontrollably finds herself traveling through time. Gwen is suddenly thrust into a world of which she knows nothing about. Secrets come to light and questions are raised about her past. Gwen wants nothing to do with time travel but she begins to see the benefits thanks to the beautiful costumes she gets to wear and the handsome young man who has been assigned to time travel with her. Together Gwen and Gideon must visit their ancestors in the past to obtain the blood needed to run the chronometer (the device which makes time travel happen). They must also discover the whereabouts of Gwen's cousin Lucy and Gideon's relative Paul who stole the original chronometer long ago. Gwen's mother puts doubts in her head about whether to trust this secret society or not. Through it all her best friend Lesley is an enthusiastic supporter, willing to research whatever is necessary to help Gwen figure out what's going on and who to trust. The book ends with an action packed cliffhanger and more secrets that cause more questions. Despite the rapid pace of the story and the endless questions it raises, I loved this book. I'm hooked on trying to solve the mysteries, especially as the reader is privy to information Gwen is not. I loved the costumes and the adventure, the quirky characters and the gorgeous cover of the novel. This book is a must-read for young adults and those young at heart. If you think you know time travel stories, think again and read this book! I can't wait for the next two volumes to be released.

A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine -- Middle Grades Fantasy

Elodie has been sent from her home on a farm to the city of Two Castles to apprentice as a weaver. Elodie has other plans for herself. She dreams of becoming a mansioner (actor). Mansioning is her passion and she's constantly reinventing her life to make it into a mansion. It's a good thing to because her first day in Two Castles doesn't go as planned. First she's dressed differently than everyone else, then she's robbed and finally, she's told there is no place for a free mansion apprentice. Luckily for Elodie, she's befriended by a dragon Masteress Meenore. IT (only dragons know their own gender) offers to hire Elodie to proclaim IT's prowess at deducting and reasoning to solve mysteries. Business is slow until the ogre Count Jonty Um comes to Masteress Meenore for help. Elodie quickly realizes that Count Jonty Um is warm and friendly but the citizens of Two Castles don't see him that way and he fears his life is in danger. Masteress Meenore sends Elodie to Count Jonty Om's castle to solve the mystery of who has been robbing him and who wishes him dead. Elodie finds her mansioning skills put to the test in addition to her new found skills of deduction and induction as she races to solve the mystery before the kind ogre is no more. This is another adorable middle grades fantasy novel by the author of one of my favorite books ever, Ella Enchanted. It features a fully developed medieval type world complete with peculiar speech patterns and accents. I love detail oriented authors who develp fully fleshed out worlds. It's much easier to become engaged in the story. I found Elodie charming despite her youthful enthusiasm and empathized with her struggles. Mastresss Meenore is a great multi-dimensional character and Count Jonty Um is not at all like Shrek though they are both ogres. This book teaches kids lessons on acceptance, using common sense and perseverance. I enjoyed this so much, I hope it becomes a series. I highly recommend it for ages 8 and up.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

What I Read This Weekend

What I Read This Weekend . . .

My One and Only by Kristan Higgins -- Adult Romantic Fiction

Harper James is a successful divorce attorney on Martha's Vineyard (an island off the coast of Massachusetts). She's pretty, successful, owns her own home and has been dating a sweet, lovable firefighter named Dennis for two years. Harper is about to turn 34, a year younger than her mother was the last time Harper saw her. Harper is convinced it's high time to get married and have children. She makes a checklist of what she wants and decides to propose to Dennis. So what if he's a "fixer-upper"? She can change him and make him into what she wants. However, Dennis isn't too interested in marriage at this point. Then a phone call from Harper's step-sister Willa sends Harper on a trip to Montana to witness her sister's (third) wedding. Harper loves Willa and is always bailing the younger woman out of trouble and Harper is convinced this is another one of Willa's big mistakes. After all, Willa is marrying Harper's ex-huband's half-brother. (Complicated enough for you?) Harper's step-mother BeverLee couldn't be happier for her little girl and Harper's dad never says much at all. Harper tries to counsel Willa and offers her help once again. Harper's ex Nick thinks the young couple should be made to sink or swim on their own. Harper and Nick exchange many angry words over the course of the weekend but they are still undeniably attracted to each other. A problem at the airport forces Harper and Nick to take a cross-country road trip together where they enjoy the scenery and spending time with Harper's dog Coco. Nick wonders if they can rekindle their romance but Harper is cynical and cautious. The story follows the typical romantic plot: meet cute, argue, kiss, separate, realization of love, happily ever after. However, this book is different because of the realistic elements of the plot. There is a reason for Harper's cynicism and she has some demons to confront before the happily ever after can happen. Because of those demons and cynicism, Harper is really an unlikeable character. She's described as a cold-hearted *itch which she is until the end of the novel when she has an epiphany. Nick is amazing but a little too perfect to be true. The secondary characters aren't quite as quirky as in Higgins's other novels. BeverLee especially is a carbon copy of Barbara Jean on the TV show Reba. I liked the road trip plot but I felt the rest of the story after that really dragged on. I wasn't as interested in this book as I was in the previous Higgins novels I have read. It took awhile to finish this book and the ending was rushed and the rest of the story told in an epilogue when it really needed to be part of the actual plot. The story should have ended after Chapter 18 or at least after Chapter 21. I also disliked the original swear words and other slang that I have never ever heard anyone in Massachusetts ever use before. (And believe me I've heard plenty of Massachusetts swearing).  The book probably resembles a Lifetime movie so if you like that sort of thing, read this book. If not, skip the melodrama for not even the cute little dog makes this book great.

What I've Read This Week

What I've Read This Week . . .

The Wicked Marquis by Marnie Ellingson -- Regency Romantic Fiction

Now impoverished after her Italian opera singer father's death, Esme Leonardo has come to live with her very English cousins. She s quickly charmed by her cousin Kit, but he sees her as just another little sister. Esme comes to love Kit like a brother and is determined to help him with whatever is bothering him. Kit's sister, Drusilla, Constance and Hope share the (in their mind) tragic story of Kit's ill-fated romance. Kit once engaged in a youthful passion for an unsuitable woman. Their uncle, on whom they are dependent, wants Kit to marry a neighbor, Lydia Milliman, a particularly awful girl who desires a title. Though Kit doesn't have a title yet, he is heir to his cousin, the Marquis of Locklynde who is known for his wild lifestyle. The Marquis has determined that Kit should marry Lydia without ever having met the girl or even really knowing Kit. Esme has already made an enemy of Lydia and Esme knows Kit and Lydia would not suit. Esme comes up with one crazy scheme after another, finally deciding to inform Lydia that she (Esme) is engaged to the Marquis. Complications arise when the Marquis comes to London and the ton learns to Esme and Jared's supposed engagement. The Marquis agrees to Esme's wild idea. The wicked Marquis takes an unusual interest in the plain-speaking Esme, who can't help but wonder about his motives. The premise of this book sounds a lot like Georgette Heyer's The Grand Sophy. Esme is similar to Sophy but not quite as outrageous. The plot is light and moves along quickly, providing a few chuckles along the way. There is a subplot involving Dru which is entirely predictable as is the primary romance plot. The witty dialogue doesn't quite sparkle like Heyer or Austen but it's fun and funny. I really liked this book though it was not at the level of Heyer. It's a nice, pleasant read for fans of the genre.

The Little Balloonist by Linda Donn -- Adult Historical Fiction

This novel chronicles the life of Sophie Armant Blanchard, a female aeronaut in Revolutionary and Napoleonic France. Sixteen-year-old Sophie loves her pretty home by the sea and precious moments spent with her best friend Andre. She dreams of marrying Andre but he seems to have withdrawn from her. Andre is a healer. He can heal people with a single touch. He has decided that he needs to learn how to be a healer and love Sophie at the same time, which he feels is impossible at this moment. Andre heals a young Republican soldier who brings back the story of the charming young Sophie to his friend, Napoleone Buonaparte.  Unbeknown to Sophie or Andre, the Armants have already betrothed Sophie to Jean-Pierre Blanchard, a pioneer balloonist who visited their home before Sophie's birth. Though Sophie's mother wishes for her daughter to marry for love, Sophie's father overrules her objection and Sophie is married off to a man twice her age whom she does not know or love. Life with Jena-Pierre is difficult. He is consumed by his passion for creating and flying in new and better balloons. Sophie meets the young revolutionary Napoleon and he falls instantly in love and their lives become entwined forever. Sophie, not having any children to love, decides to become an aeronaut. The free spirited young woman loves the feeling of flying free and her husband loves the fame it brings. The beautiful Sophie becomes the toast of Paris rubbing elbows with Napoleon, Goethe, Darguerre and other luminaries of the day. Through it all, Andre continues to love her. When her husband dies, Sophie is torn between the love of her childhood friend and the advances of the Emperor Napoleon. Above all else, she desires freedom. This is a really slow moving novel which covers the life of one woman from age 16 to death. It's told in third-person omniscient and sometimes interrupts the narrative to tell the reader what will happen in the future. The narrator is detached from the story and never engaged me as a reader. The plot skips around from character to character and there are far too many to keep track of. Sophie's life is summarized rather than fully shown. The epilogue does not match the prologue or even the rest of the novel. I found this book really slow and uninteresting. I wanted to like it but I just couldn't get into it. The story of Sophie's childhood would make a great young adult novel.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

97 Orchard Street

97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement  
by Jane Ziegelman

This non-fiction book explores the foodways of the various immigrant families who lived in the tenement at 97 Orchard Street in New York's Lower East Side from the 1860s to the 1930s. The author begins with the Germans and their process of assimilation. She then tells how, through their culinary traditions such as delicatessens and beer, Germans established themselves in American culinary culture. Next is the Moore family from Ireland. This chapter examines how the Irish lacked in culinary tradition except for potatoes. She traces the history of Irish immigrants and their interest in becoming "American" and eating "American" foods. She discusses how corned beef and cabbage became the American image of traditional Irish cuisine. The third and fourth chapter deal with Jewish families. First the Gumpertz family, a western European Jewish family whose ancestors borrowed from Gentile traditions. Then in America, the German Jews meshed traditional European and Jewish foodways with more typically American ones to create a new culinary tradition. The chapter on the Rogarshevsky family will seem familiar to those who have visited Ellis Island and/or know about Jewish foodways. My personal favorite chapter is the last one, the Baldizzi family from Sicily. This chapter is near and dear to my heart, being the granddaughter of an Italian immigrant. The story broke my heart and gave me a new appreciation for what my family went through and how our food traditions have become part of mainstream American culture. I could easily imagine the smell of garlic frying in the Balzizzi kitchen (or is that wafting through my bedroom door from my parents' kitchen?). I found this book fascinating. I really enjoyed learning about the different traditions of the different cultures and how those traditions became part of American culture. The author really did her research and I always appreciate a book based on primary sources. I also liked seeing the period recipes sprinkled throughout the book. There's even one from the province my grandmother was born in. My biggest complaint is that there was too much about immigrants and immigrant life in general in some of the chapters but I liked reading about it all anyway. The Baldizzi chapter is too short too and there is no conclusion. The book ends rather abruptly. Overall though, I really enjoyed this book and it's one for the keeper shelf. I highly recommend it to those who are interested in immigrant life in American cities and the history of foodways in America. 

What I Read This Weekend

What I Read This Weekend . . .

Savannah Breeze by Mary Kay Andrews -- Contemporary Romantic Fiction

Savannah restaurateur BeBe Loudermilk has a thing for bad boys. She's been married three times (twice to the same man) but has managed to become a successful businesswoman and home owner. She falls hard for the charming Reddy who is a polished ladies' man. He's charming and considerate and so passionate. When everything seems to be falling apart in BeBe's life, Reddy offers his help. In one moment, BeBe loses everything when Reddy turns out to be a slick con man. BeBe still has her restaurant but is forced to close because she can't afford to pay her employees. When she discovers that Reddy used her money to buy an old rundown motel on Tybee Island near her hometown of Savannah, she is furious. She doesn't want a run down motel. She wants her life back. The motel happens to be prime beach front real estate so BeBe decides she'll sell the land and at least get money enough to begin her life again. She doesn't count on the cantankerous caretaker, Harry and his little white dog. Harry has been living and working on the property and isn't about to leave. He loves the old motel, despite it's dilapidated state and he certainly doesn't want some shiny new condos full of city slickers going up in it's place. BeBe faces another setback and is forced to renovate the property after all. Her best friend Weezie, an antiques dealer, sees the charm of the place and soon BeBe does too. Then she learns that Reddy or whatever his name is, has been up to his old tricks in Fort Lauderdale and she is determined to catch him and do to him what he did to her. BeBe's grandfather shows up to lend his support and gets roped into the scheme, along with Harry and Weezie. BeBe plans a not-quite legal scheme to get back what she lost. She needs the full cooperation of her friends though and she and Harry can't seem to stop arguing. Will she be able to pull it off and get her old life back? The first half of this book is really slow. It picks up once BeBe and company head to Florida. Though this book got rave reviews from other library patrons, I didn't like it. I couldn't like BeBe. I don't have anything in common with BeBe and found her hard to relate to. I found it hard to believe anyone could be that naive and trusting, especially after two ex-husbands and an ex-fiance. Her plan to get her money back is not at all legal and I could not believe that her friends would go along with it. I did not like the outcome of the story either. I also didn't think there was much chemistry between BeBe and the love interest. The romance was rushed and the ending very abrupt. Some of the story is told from Weezie's point of view. I enjoyed Weezie's character more than BeBe but her narrative interrupted the flow of the story. I would recommend this one for someone who is looking for escapist reading without much substance.

What I've Read Recently

What I've Read Recently . . .

In The Shadow of the Lamp by Susanne Dunlap -- Young Adult Historical Fiction

In 1854 London, Seventeen-year-old Molly works hard as a parlourmaid in a rich household, but an enemy destroys her chance of ever climbing the ladder higher. Unable to face her family with the shame of her disgrace, she learns of Florence Nightingale's request for nurses to go to Crimea and nurse wounded soldiers. Molly is rejected because she's too young and not a trained nurse but she is determined to find a way. Her tenaciousness pays off and soon she finds herself on a dangerous journey to the unknown in Turkey where she will experience things she's never seen or felt before. Though the nurses are forbidden from fraternizing with the staff or patients, Molly strikes up a friendship with a young doctor which she thinks may develop into more. Molly discovers a deep empathy for the suffering and her skills are desperately needed. She keeps busy nursing and trying to keep her friend Emma out of trouble. Then someone from her past shows up on the front and complicates matters. Molly is torn between duty and loyalty. One will cost her her heart and the other will cost her job. This is a coming-of-age novel set against the backdrop of the Crimean War. I do not know anything about that war or even where Crimea is on a modern map. My biggest complaint with the story is that there isn't enough historical background that explains what the soldiers are fighting for. A map would have been appreciated. Otherwise the historical details are excellent, almost too good, for the book contains detailed descriptions of period medical practice complete with blood and gore. The author also describes the unsanitary conditions of the hospital where Molly works. The plot of the novel is fine. There are some really unrealistic moments, even some bordering on fantasy, which I did not like. I could have done without the romantic triangle plot. Molly is a plucky heroine and one to be admired. Florence Nightingale was a true heroine and I would like to read more about her.

The Rogue Crew (Redwall) by Brian Jacques -- Middle Grades Adventure/Fantasy

This final novel by Brian Jacques features  a vermin leader known as a Wearat who rides a ship with a green sail over the high seas until being burned by the rogue crew of sea otters of the High North Coast. Razzid Wearat nearly went to Hellsgates in that attack but he survived and now he's bent on revenge. His ship now has wheels and it carries the vermin leader wherever he wants to go. A surprise murder of Salamandastron hares has some of the Long Patrol heading out to form an alliance with the Rogue Crew. Back in Mossflower, the peaceful Redwell Abbey dwellers face the problem of a gluttonous young hedgehog Uggo Wiltud. While sleeping off a stomachache, Uggo sees the green sailed ship on wheels sailing towards Redwall. The otter Cellarkeepeper Jum Gurdy knows of his ship and the destruction it could cause to the Abbey. He hopes his uncle will be able to tell him more and takes young Uggo off on a journey to find out whether Razzid Wearat and his ship were finished off long ago. The adventure will take all of the characters off on a dangerous quest where they will come closer to the enemy than they ever dreamed. It's up to the Redwallers to defend their home against the vermin raiders and hope the experienced warriors arrive in time. This story follows the usual pattern of the Redwall novels but it's a grand adventure just the same. I felt it dragged a bit in parts and took too long to get to the point. There were also so many characters I had a hard time connecting with any of them. I also thought too many good guys died and some of the characters were pretty gruesome. Though the plot is predictable it's a rousing good yarn anyway. The book works as a stand-alone as long as the reader has read Redwall. This series by a much-loved author will be much missed by legions of fans all over the world. Farewell old friend!

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

Greetings Readers! I have entered the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge sponsored by Historical Tapestry. As you know it's not much of a challenge for me, but it will be fun. I'm aiming for "Severe Bookaholism": 20 books. I've already beaten that but I'd like to see how many I read. I hope some of you will enter the challenge also.

Here's my list of books for September (links lead to my reviews):

Thursday, September 1, 2011

What I've Read This Week

What I've Read This Week . . .

Just One of the Guys by Kristan Higgins -- Contemporary adult romantic fiction

Chastity O'Neill is tall, athletic and confident. She's just returned to her hometown of Eaton Falls, NY from the big city and is starting a great new job at the local paper. She loves her large extended family and longs to have a family of her own and preferably soon. The problem is guys seem to be intimidated by her height, her athleticism and especially by her very rugged four older brothers and firefighter father. Everyone in their small town knows the O'Neills and Chasity is fed up with not having luck finding a mate. The real problem is that Chasity is madly in love with her honorary brother, Trevor Meade and has been since she was ten when her classmate (Trevor's sister) died and Chastity brought the lonely, grieving boy home with her. Trev and Chas hooked up once in college but it didn't work out. That doesn't stop Chas from dreaming and being jealous of the other women in Trev's life. Chasity decides it's high time to get over Trevor, no matter how perfect he is he will never want her the way she wants him. He sees her as a sister or just one of the guys. Chasity's mother also decides to get in the dating pool now that she's divorced Chasity's workaholic father. Chasity has her hands full mediating between her parents, looking for love and parenting her lovable mutt. Finally, she thinks she's found happiness with a handsome trauma surgeon who will give her everything she's dreamed of, but is it enough? This novel is an emotional journey. This book will make you laugh out loud but it will also make you cry. The characters are well-developed and very realistic. The O'Neill clan could exist outside of the pages of the novel and Chasity and Trevor's relationship is also very real. My biggest complaint is that I feel like a certain character took advantage of Chas twice when she was feeling bad but she was a willing participant and knew what she was doing both times. My other complaint is that the ending is rushed. This is Kristan Higgins's best novel yet! I highly recommend it. Some people may not like this book because Chasity is a Yankees fan. If you only root for two teams or just the Red Sox, don't read this book or have a friend change the Yankees references for you.

Deep Dish by Mary Kay Andrews -- Contemporary adult romantic fiction

Regina (Gina) Foxton is the host of her own healthy southern cooking show in Atlanta. The show has had local success but Gina dreams of the big time. Unfortunately, her sponsor is about to pull the plug on her show because her producer (also her boyfriend) was busted having a one-night stand with the sponsor's wife. Regina is faced with losing the job she loves and the home in the big city she shares with her party-girl younger sister. Then The Cooking Channel comes searching for their next big star and Gina is one of their top choices. Their other top choice is the hunky outdoorsman Tate Moody who is more known for his good looks than his hunting, fishing and grilling techniques. Gina and Tate's assistants, along with The Cooking Channel producers, decide to turn the search into the next battle of the sexes reality show. They arrange a series of challenges with the winner taking all. Gina thinks she can beat that arrogant butthead Tate and he's convince he's better than that plastic Barbie doll he calls Reggie. As the competition becomes more intense, sparks fly between Gina and Tate and not in the way they expected. The TV ratings system would state this book contains dialogue and language. There is some intense kissing and making out plus references to hooking up but nothing is actually described. Regina is a self-described "nice Christian girl" and tries to behave accordingly. This book is a good summer read. It's a quick, light read with a plot typical of most chick lit novels. The characters are fairly standard for the genre and the plot really doesn't yield any major surprises but the story is interesting and kept me turning pages at all hours to find out what happened next.