Tuesday, January 1, 2013

What I've Read This Week

What I've Read This Week . . .

From Notting Hill With Love . . . Actually by Ali McNamara -- Women's Fiction

 Scarlett O'Brien lives and breathes movies; after all, she was named after one of the most famous movie heroines of all time. Her favorite movies are romances, especially romantic comedies like Notting Hill and Pretty Woman. Her friends and family don't understand Scarlett's obsession. After a big blow up with her less than sympathetic fiance David, Scarlett takes the opportunity to clear her head and prove that movie moments happen every day in real life. She gets a house-sitting gig in posh Notting Hill, what could be more perfect? Things don't get off to a great start when she manages to inadvertently offend her neighbor Sean Bond, a movie hater; but she makes some new friends who are more than willing to help her on her way to making movie moment happen. Sean may hate movies but he offers to help Scarlett search for the mother she never knew. As Sean and Scarlett's friendship develops, they learn that first impressions aren't always what they seem and the course of true love n'er did run smooth. This is one of the best books I've ever read. Like Scarlett, I like the escapism of a good romantic comedy, especially British director Richard Curtis's movies (Notting Hill, Love Actually, Bridget Jones). This book blends the plots of several well-known romantic comedies with a dash of real life to create a whole new romantic comedy. I was torn about how I wanted the story to turn out; I felt like Scarlett needed to get her head out of the clouds but I also really wanted her to have her movie moments. In the end, my heart choose romance over practicality, but I don't think she should have rushed a decision or chosen either or. Scarlett is perky and cheerful, which I normally hate, but she's very kind and caring so I felt for her and wanted her to find happiness. The men in her life are similar, yet different. One seems a bit too good to be true but is the very model of Mark Darcy. Scarlett's friends are off-the-wall funny. The movie moments in the plot are so much fun to pick out and parallel to their famous counterparts. I picked up on some moments that Scarlett took awhile to realize or didn't get at all. This story is the perfect escapist fantasy fluff for romantics at heart and movie buffs. If you love Bridget Jones, you will probably love this book too. It's one for the keeper shelf right alongside your romantic comedy DVDs.


Foul Play at the Fair by Shelley Freydont -- Contemporary Cozy Mystery

Liv Montgomery and her West Highland White Terrier, Whiskey, have recently moved from Manhattan to Celebration Bay, New York, a small town that takes it's name seriously. Liz is the new event coordinator for the town's many festive events. She is glad for an escape from bridezillas and desperate housewives and happy to have a nice, safe, quiet place where her Westie can run and play. During the Harvest By the Bay festival, Liv learns that small towns are not immune to scandal when one of the festival performers ends up dead. When the mayor worries about the scandal and threatens to cancel future events, Liv realizes her job is on the line and wants some answers. As an outsider, she feels people are withholding information from her. With some reluctant help from the grouchy newspaper owner, she dredges up secrets from the past and opens Pandora's Box. It's up to her to fix things so her new home can return to normal. This is a fast paced, engaging mystery. I couldn't put it down and read way too late into the night. I had a few suspects in mind for the murderer but one by one they revealed the reasons why they could not be. I did figure out one piece of the puzzle long before Liv did. The final reveal is a surprise and a bit of a let down and a relief at the same time. Other than that, the mystery is complicated and interesting enough to hold the attention of any reader. The setting is the real star of the novel. The small town, the quirky inhabitants and the amazing festivals are all described in such great detail, I feel like I was there right alongside Liv. The characters all come to life, especially the secondary characters. I liked Liv. She's intelligent, a bit nosy, a bit hot-tempered but willing to admit she made a mistake. She's strong and brave and a capable heroine. I believe there's a love interest in the making. She has great chemistry with a character she loves to hate! I liked that character a lot too for they provided some comic relief. I'd like to know more about them because they aren't what they seem. My favorite character is, of course, Whiskey the Westie. I adore Westies and the description was fairly accurate. I especially loved his good morning conversations with Ted. They reminded me so much of how my terrier would Arrooo at my dad every night when he came home from work. I highly recommend this book as a bit of light reading. I can't wait to see what happens next in Celebration Bay!

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