Sunday, February 6, 2011

Reading updates

We have had lots of snow days here in the Midwest so I have been able to get several books read.  I am a very bad book reviewer, but here is my attempt.

I finished The Sunday Wife by Cassandra King.
From Library Journal:  For 20 years, Willodean (Dean) Lynch has been molded into what her ambitious, upwardly mobile minister husband and his congregation consider to be the perfect preacher's wife. Then she meets Augusta Holderfield, a free spirit who encourages her to break loose. The more her husband and his too-pious congregants try to smother her, the more liberated Dean wants to be. Unfortunately, she learns the hard way that freedom can come at a very high price. Told in the first person and heavy on Southern atmosphere, this novel is peppered with Dean's wry observations. All aspects of institutional religious hypocrisy, intolerance, ultraconservatism, and general self-righteousness are fair game as Dean discovers who she really is.

I  liked The Sunday Wife but didn't love it.

I read Courting Miss Amsel by Kim Vogel Sawyer
From Booklist:  Becoming the schoolmarm in tiny Walnut Hill, Nebraska, in 1882, fulfills Edythe Amsel’s dream, although she regrets leaving Missy, her youngest sister, back in Omaha with their brother. But Joel Townsend and his nephews, Johnny and Robert, together with her landlady, Luthenia Kinsley, make Edythe welcome. Soon she is caught up in town life, her happiness marred only by one student’s malicious pranks and by the suspicion with which many parents view some of her innovative teaching methods. When Missy arrives during a bad storm, having run away from Omaha, and proves to be sullen and demanding, Edythe finds herself turning more and more to scripture with Luthenia’s support and guidance. Sawyer’s first-rate, stand-alone Christian historical prairie romance moves rapidly. She sets the stage, then allows events to play out over the course of the school year as Edythe attempts to broaden her students’ perspective while introducing them to suffrage and current events around the world.

Courting Miss Amsel was a cute story.  Predictable in places but I expected that when I started it.  I did enjoy it.

Waking Up in Dixie by Haywood Smith

From Publishers Weekly:  Smith shakes up the midlife marriage renewal subgenre with the emotionally complex tale of Elizabeth Whittington, who has accepted that her marriage to Howe Whittington, the wealthiest man in their small Georgia town, is a sham. Howe cheats, has grown hard over the years, and is less than present in their marriage, but after a stroke lands him in a coma, he wakes up, six months later, a changed man. Suddenly, he wants to work on repairing their marriage and helping others fix the problems in their lives. That, naturally, proves to be difficult, and Elizabeth, meanwhile, must decide if she can trust her husband while he tries to right some wrongs, and, in the process, reveals a trove of town secrets.

I really liked Waking Up in Dixie.  I enjoyed the characters and the way they developed.

Bad Girl Creek; Along Came MaryGoodbye Earl by Jo-Ann Mapson
From School Library Journal:  When her aunt dies, Phoebe DeThomas finds herself the owner of a 40-acre flower farm, complete with debts and only one farmhand. Having to deal with her bad heart, her life in a wheelchair, and the financial problems brought on by the inheritance, she takes in three boarders who assist in running the farm. The women form strong bonds that help them all through the joys and heartbreaks of their lives. Phoebe finds love but has to battle pneumonia along with her other problems. Ness, the strong-willed, protective black farrier, discovers that she may be carrying the AIDS virus. Beryl has been in prison for murder, and Nance struggles to recover from her relationship with a boyfriend, even as she falls in love with Phoebe's brother. The setting is a picturesque area along central California's coast, where the weather and environment become major factors in the success or failure of the flower farm.

The description listed is for the first book of the Bad Girl Creek trilogy.  I really enjoyed these books.  Each book is told from the voice of several characters.  It really helps you get to know each of them. The second book took a little longer to get into because it started out with new characters but after a chapter or two I figured it out.

Lady Luck's Map of Vegas Barbara Samuel
From Booklist:  With her rhinestoned, cat's-eye sunglasses, traffic-stopping figure, and smoldering sexuality, India's outgrageous mother, Eldora, drives her nuts, so she's not exactly looking forward to driving her to Las Vegas, where the recently widowed 63-year-old is determined to revisit the scenes of her wild-and-crazy youth. Their Thelma and Louise-style road trip in Eldora's vintage '57 T-bird has another, more pressing mission, however: India's schizophrenic twin, Gypsy, is missing. As they follow Gypsy's nomadic wanderings through the Southwest from one homeless shelter to another, Eldora unburdens herself of the shameful secrets of her past with a capital P, but the more Eldora reveals, the harder it is for India to conceal a secret of her own. Her long-distance romance with the dashing Jack Shea has encountered a serious complication, and India's newfound insights into her family's past threaten her future happiness.

I liked Lady Luck's Map of Vegas a lot.  It really made me want to visit the southwest.

The Atlas of Love Laurie Frankel
Overexposed Susan Shapiro
Maybe This Time Jennifer Crusie

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