52 books in 52 weeks ~book 12 *Best Friends Forever

Photobucket Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner  is the story of Addie Downs, a girl who did not quite fit in, but yet was lucky enough to find a fun best friend.  Valerie Adler moves in across the street when they are 9 years old.  Addie's family isn't quite like everyone else's but they are warm, loving and good.  Valerie lives with her selfish, self-absorbed mother and pretty much fends for herself.  Valerie grows out of her awkward stage, Addie does not and in highschool the girls have a dramatic betrayal and falling out.  This is the story of what comes next, of Addie finally deciding to do some brave things and change her life- of the crazy/hairbrained adventures Valerie brings back into her life.

The story is very much an adventure, I was hooked on finding out what would happen next.  The ending was a charmed one, Sky would call it a "Jenny-ending" -the magical happily every after kind of endings...almost.  Not a perfect ending, but a surprising and good, hopeful one.

This is one I would recommend, it's very entertaining and good fun.

*you can join the 52 books in 52 weeks challenge here

52 books in 52 weeks, book 11


Darcy and Fitzwilliam : a tale of a gentleman and an officer by Karen Wasylowski is another Pride & Prejudice inspired work.  In this story, Darcy and Elizabeth are enjoying newlywed bliss.  Half the story describes this bliss, their wait to welcome a baby and some trouble stirred up by Caroline Bingley.   The second half deals with Richard Fitzwilliam, his post war demons, his playful and entertaining relationship with his cousin/best friend Darcy and his complicated new love interest- a young widow.

I liked this story very much, the writer furthered the likability of all the main characters.  I was a little put-out with her portrayal of a love affair Darcy had right out of college- and of her portrayal of Lizzy resorting to throwing things at her husband upon hearing about it.  First, I felt that Darcy would not have had such an affair, his honor would not have allowed it, and Lizzy would never throw vases at her husband..her mother, maybe- but not Lizzy.  I was a bit miffed, but the book was so well written and the characters all so likeable that I kept reading.

Lady Catherine gets better treatment in this story, the author softens her and details a loving attachment and concern between the aunt and her nephews.  Reading about her defense of them, and of Lizzy was sheer fun and comedy.

All in all, one of the better Pride & Prejudice spin offs- a very good, fun read for those who cannot get enough of Jane Austen's world.

You can join the 52 books in 52 weeks challenge here*

52 books in 52 weeks-book 10

The Laws of Harmony by Judith Ryan Hendricks is a book about love, loss, strong women and friendship.  The story starts out with Sunny Cooper trying to force her boyfriend to level with her and tell her what has gone wrong with their relationship.  Something is wrong with them...money problems? another woman?  She's at a loss and he's not talking.

A tragic accident changes her life, and the story follows Sunny as she remakes her life, all while her childhood memories color and influence her feelings and choices.  You see, Sunny grew up on a hippie commune in New Mexico- and while she despised parts of her childhood, you can see that it also contributed to the caring and very strong woman she has become.

Her thoughts, memories and journey in this story are gripping.  I think she does what all of us sometimes long to do, step out and claim a full life in a new, beautiful place.  There is a bit of mystery in the story, a few big surprises, and a few possible love interests. I enjoyed how real the author made the people in this story, how real she made the places feel, and how authentic Sunny's experiences were.

The end was warm, full and satisfying...though I can be a bit simple and kind of like everything to be all tied up neat and happy at the end- I didn't exactly get that, but the author gave a satisfying nudge in that general direction.  I closed the book satisfied, happy and feeling warmed by this story of grace and strength. 

*like to read? You can join the challenge here

52 books in 52 weeks -book 9

Black Heels to Tractor Wheels- A love story by Ree Drummond - this is the story of small town girl lured by the bright lights/big city ~meets rural cowboy.  Most of us know Ree as PW from her blog Confessions of a Pioneer Woman and from her cookbook (and her awesome cooking section on her blog).

Much of this book was first shared in serial form on her blog, where I gladly read along.
Because I read it first on her blog, much of the story was not new to me, but I noticed it was presented better: there were some details added, and the section on the wedding and the following year were all new. 

So, if you don't know PW, this is the story of a small town girl, who dreams of living a grown-up, sophisticated city life.   After attending college in So. Ca, she makes a stop at home to regroup and plan her graduate school dreams of studying law in a big city such as Chicago.  What she doesn't plan for, though, is to meet a handsome, rugged cowboy in a bar one night.  Once he finally calls her, she is swept away into a whirlwind romance.  Will she give up her dreams of law school and city-living to be a rancher's wife?  We know the answer, but the book is fun- following along as it happens.

PW is smart, pretty, but best of all, self-depreciating.  She has no problem pointing out the comedy in her life, usually at her own expense.  Which is why, I think we like her.  I have to say, that I really laughed out loud several times while reading this. 

A fun read, and it's rumored that the movie rights have been sold. 
So, who should play Ree and Marlborough Man??

52 Books in 52 weeks- book 8

Katy Carter Wants a Hero by Ruth Saberton.  A very fun, British,chick-lit book.  Katy Carter is a school teacher secretly dreaming of finding true love and also secretly working on a steamy romance novel.  She thinks her life is on the fast-track finally, to happily ever after; engaged to the handsome hero of her dreams.  Problem, her fiance doesn't seem to like her much these days.  Katy is busy trying to please her fiance and squelch who she wants to be.  Her story takes a very decided turn after a very important dinner party she is supposed to host to impress her fiance's boss.  Problem: she is not a very good cook and not good at planning- enter her best guy friend to rescue her. Maybe.

This story had quite a few twists and turns, most of them very silly fun.  A few points were just out-and-out fantasy...but in a good way.  Yes, we would all love to bump into a gorgeous movie start and be asked to be his girlfriend for the tabloid's sake...not going to happen, really- but this book is so much fun that you sit back, watch it all unfold and enjoy the ride.

This book put a smile on my face, I couldn't put it down- wanting to see what crazy thing would happen next to Katy.  This one will go on my fav list.  Several adult situations, though pg I would say...and quite a bit adult language that would make it unsuitable for youngsters. 

You can join up with the 52 books in 52 weeks challenge here*

52 books in 52 weeks- book 7

oy, I am so behind!  I've actually finished a few books, but haven't written the reviews for them yet :(

Week 7's book was a fun read:

Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon

This story is about Rachel, who all in a short span of time, lost her boyfriend, her job, her flat and inherited her late aunts' house.  She moves into the house, to sort out the will and see into selling it.  The house also comes with a dog rescue shelter that is not in the least profitable. 

Rachel's aunt had a way with dogs, and a special gift for matching up just the right dog with the right owner.  Rachel resents it a bit that the town assumes she will be the same.

Rachel is sorting out the house, her aunt's secrets, unraveling family miss-understandings and sorting out her messed-up love life.  We also meet some interesting people who become side-stories to Rachel's story.  In this small village, we meet the cute, single Dr.- the cute, rugged and single Vet, a struggling divorced mother dealing with a puppy her ex gives the kids, and Natalie and Johnny- young married couple longing to have a baby.  Of course, we have lovable and lonely dogs, too.

I really enjoyed this read, it was a bit deeper than a chick-lit novel and did not tie everything up into a tidy, perfect, slightly unbelievable package at the end.  Real life is not usually that tidy, and this book gives you a satisfying ending- but realistic and hopeful one, too.

A really good read, I recommend it!

6th of 52 books in 52 weeks- Jane Austen in Scarsdale

I really enjoy fiction loosely patterned after a Jane Austen work. She is one of my very favorite authors, I think her stories were brilliant and timeless. I love a good story patterned after one of her books -or one that takes a book and continues the story. Mind you, I did say a "good" story. I have read some that were badly done.
Jane Austen in Scarsdale- or Love, Death, and the SATs by Paula Marantz Cohen is a Jane Austen re-telling: done well.

Anne Ehrlich is a quiet, well-liked high-school guidance counselor.  She is mild and kind, but her family life is a bit stressful.  Her father and sister are extravagant and are now deep into debt, Anne is faced with the task of persuading them to downsize.  Anne's old flame comes back into her life, now successful and with a fiancee.

This story, I'm sure you've guessed by my description- is a re-telling of Jane Austen's  "Persuasion" 

Anne has to work out selling her family home,  the old flame she once rejected come back into her life, her aging and loving grandmother,  the craziness that is college admissions time at her work...and perhaps a new love interest.  The story is very entertaining, full, and satisfyingly Jane-ish.  The story works out just as satisfying as Jane Austen would have wanted.

This was my second time reading this story, it was just as engaging as the first time.

 *you can join up with the 52 books in 52 weeks challenge here**

5th of 52 books in 52 weeks- Balancing Acts

Balancing Acts by Zoe Fishman is about 4 old college friends who re-connect over yoga class.

Charlie has given up her high-powered Wall Street life to open a yoga studio, she is athletic, confident and pursuing a rewarding career that she loves- but she can't quite put a past hurt behind her.  Sabine and Bess are both writers, but stuck in the entry-level jobs they thought they would have long left behind for serious writing.  Naomi is a beautiful ex-model/photographer and a single mom.

These friends re-connect over yoga- a class Charlie offers hoping to boost her new studio, Bess joins up for less than admirable reasons and the others join up hoping yoga will help their stuck lives. 

Balancing Acts is a nice read about the positive power yoga can have on life.  Reading about these womens' deepening friendships and the changes in their personal and professional lives was enjoyable- the characters were all interesting enough to keep me reading and I liked the blend of friendship/empowerment/ and change.

A warm/fuzzy story that is positive and easy to relate to.  Makes you kind of want to get your yoga mat out too, a plus. :)