Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Books I've Read In January 2011

1) Why My Third Husband Will Be A Dog, Lisa Scottoline...completed 1/1/11

From Publishers Weekly

Brief, punchy slices of daily life originally published in her Philadelphia Inquirer column allow novelist Scottoline (Everywhere That Mary Went) to dish on men, mothers, panty lines and, especially, dogs. Somewhere in her mid-50s, twice divorced (from men she calls Thing One and Thing Two) and living happily in the burbs with her recent college-graduate daughter and a passel of pets, Scottoline maintains a frothy repartee with the reader as she discusses ways she would redecorate the White House (Cupholders for all!), relies on her built-in Guilt-O-Meter to get dreaded tasks done (a broken garbage disposal rates only a 1, while accumulating late fees at the library rates a 7) and contemplates, while making a will, who will get her cellulite. For some quick gags, Scottoline brings in various family members: mother Mary, a whippersnapper at 4'11 who lives in South Beach with her gay son, Scottoline's brother Frank, and possesses a coveted back-scratcher; and her Harvard-educated daughter, Francesca. Plunging into home improvement frenzy, constructing a chicken coop, figuring out mystifying insurance policies and how not to die at the gym are some of the conundrums this ordinary woman faces with verve and wicked humor, especially how her beloved dogs have contentedly replaced the romance in her life. (Dec.)
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2) If Morning Ever Comes, Anne Tyler...completed 1/2/2011
Ben Joe Hawkes is a worrier. Raised by his mother, grandmother, and a flock of busy sisters, he's always felt the outsider. When he learns that one of his sisters has left her husband, he heads for home and back into the confusion of childhood memories and unforseen love....

3) In The Company Of Others, Jan Karon...completed 1/10/2011

From Publishers Weekly

In Karon's latest, Fr. Timothy Kavanagh, the moral center of the beloved Mitford series, hops the Atlantic for a long anticipated vacation in the Irish countryside. He and his wife settle in at Broughadoon, a B&B run by Liam and Anna Conor in County Sligo, and Father Tim is happy to be reacquainted with his ancestral homeland. He's particularly taken with Catharmore, a sprawling 19th-century estate that was Liam's childhood home. When their stay is extended because of an injury, the Kavanaghs pass the time reading up on Catharmore's history, helping out around the grounds, and getting to know the area's many colorful characters. Father Tim assumes the role of confidant and adviser to the Conors and their extended family, investigating a burglary, helping unburden Liam and Anna of long-held secrets, and aiding Liam's alcoholic mother to recover her lost faith. Karon's prose trundles along at a languid pace, but her heartfelt dialogue and rich characterizations keep the story engaging. Though it's not the ideal entry point to the expansive world of Father Tim, fans will relish this new chapter in his life.

4) My Nest Isn't Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space, Lisa Scottoline...completed 1/27/2011

From Publishers Weekly

Scottoline, a single mom and author of 17 New York Times bestselling novels, also writes for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where her "Chick Wit" column appears on Sundays and is occasionally written by her daughter Francesca. It has also served as fodder for two books, last year's Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog, and this one, which contains 70 more essays that are by turns rueful, uplifting, sweet, kooky--and always amusing. Fans of her mystery and suspense fare will enjoy the opportunity for another warts-and-all peek into the author's daily life, including musings on what it's like to live (and sleep) with five dogs, an addiction to sunflower seeds, and fruitless yet hilarious attempts to communicate with her non sequitur–loving mother. Mother Mary, a spirited octogenarian, gets lots of ink, and rightly so: she's been an important role model for Scottoline and granddaughter. Francesca's writing complements her mother's, particularly in essays like "I Don't" and "Deadhead," in which the former reveals her fascination with the weddings section of the newspaper, the latter, the obituaries. Family photos add to the fun, as does the authors' focus on enjoying life, whether via the delights of a newly empty nest or remembering that, when it comes to women, "Our strength, our wit, and our hearts are more powerful than anybody ever could have imagined." It's a funny, uplifting read for women of any generation. (Nov.) (c)
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