Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sugar and Grits - DiAnn Mills, Martha Rogers, Janice Thompson, Kathleen Y'Barbo

I was at my local library last week and saw this book on one of the New Fiction shelves. The title intrigued me (I love grits... without sugar), but what really grabbed me was one word in the tag line: "Southern Hospitality Enriches Mississippi Romances"... Mississippi... I am a Mississippi girl... I love my state... the people, the places, the food, the stories... so I knew I had to read this collection.

The stories are set in the fictional town of Calista, MS and revolved around a group of 4 unlikely friends who meet weekly for Bible study. There is Berta who owns Bert's Dirt, a bulldozing service.... Dottie Jean, owner of the Catfish House (reading about her food made my mouth water.. I love Catfish!).. Sassy, a spitfire who owns the local bait shop... and Sue Ellen, the new owner of the local beauty parlor. Each lady finds love in a unique way and often humorous way.

These are 4 light-hearted fun reads... perfect for summer time relaxing... I enjoyed them while sitting in the back yard keeping an eye out for a new puppy exploring his new turf!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Interior Motives by Ginny Aiken

This is book 3 of Aiken's Deadly Decor Mysteries series... and I believe the final book for this series... which saddens me. I have enjoyed these light mysteries and the wonderful characters Aiken created. While the story lines may be a bit light... a kin to Murder She Wrote (which I love), there is a depth to some of the characters that intrigues me. Haley Farrell is not Jessica Fletcher.. she is a young interior designer learning to live light despite her past which includes not only sadness, but personal despair. Her faith is tested over and over in these books and Haley, like all of us, struggles with trusting God.. giving Him control. Dutch Merrill is her nemesis.. or so it seems... a contractor with a sharp wit and keen observation skills. Then there is Bella... oh my Bella and the Balis (her feline babies)... Bella is a hoot... really to kooky to be real and yet I have a feeling I know a Bella or two! She defines the word eccentric and stretches it to whole new heights. Tedd is a wonderful Christian psychologist who has issues of her own and Lila is the karate cop "twin" of Haley (just don't tell them or you will catch their wrath!). Add in a smathering of other fun folks and you have a cast who keeps you entertained with their "doings".

In Interior Motives life is going good for Haley. She is in the midst of renovating Tedd's office... a much needed renovation in her opinion... she is dealing with the issues in her life... she is not having to deal with Lila... life is good. Then she meets Darlene.. a sweet elderly woman who is caring for her husband, an Alzheimer patient, while battling cancer. Darlene's gentle spirit captures Haley's attention as does her fascination with Darlene's home.. a grand old Victorian lady in need of revitalization. Haley agrees to help Darlene bring the old girl back to life, but when she goes for their first consultation plans change. Darlene is dead... the cancer has won... or did it? Why does Haley suspect foul play when no one else does? Why does she call Lila instead of an ambulance? And how is it that every time she goes to redo a house a dead body pops up?

A very fun read... you definitely need to read the book in the series in order as they all build on each other.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Stealing Lumby by Gail Fraser

I love the Lumby series! I forget where I even heard of these books, but I am so glad I did. Stealing Lumby is book 2 and it is just a fun and charming as the first. Much like Jan Karon's Mitford series, one comes to know the town on Lumby and the characters who live there, so reading a Lumby novel is like taking a trip to visit with old friends.

In Stealing Lumby, the famous painting The Barns of Lumby, has been stolen... and so has one of the barns! In learning about the painting, we find that prominent resident Charlotte Ross knows has a personal interest in it and in the painted, Dana Porter. Pam and Mark are busy at Montis Inn, especially once the media descends on Lumby to ask about the painting. In the midst of the media frenzy, Mark continues to add to their collection of animals overwhelming Pam with the reality that she is quickly becoming Mrs. Ole MacDonald! And to top it all off the Monks are caught up in a hostile takeover of their Rum Sauce Company. Hank the flamingo continues to make his presence know and The Lumby Lines continues to supply their readers with all the latest news including information on the upcoming Midnight Moo Doo Iditarod.. an annual Lumby event you don't want to miss!

This is one of the most charming series out there and one, I think, that is a bit of a hidden gem. I am looking forward to the next installment of the news from Lumby and all the rest to follow.

The New Year's Quilt by Jennifer Ciaverini

Another book in the wonderful Elms Creek Quilts series. The New Quilt Year's is a short novel but with a wonderful storyline that weaves the past and present together to create a hope-filled future. Sylvia and Andrew are off on their honeymoon after an impromptu Christmas Eve wedding. After spending a few days in a friend's bed and breakfast, they head to Andrew's daughter's home for New Years. The daughter who doesn't know her dad has remarried and wasn't happy when the idea was mentioned earlier in the year. Needless to say Andrew and Sylvia are nervous... and when Sylvia is nervous she does what calms her most.... she quilts. Throughout the story we find her working to finish a long forgotten project... a quilt based on the New Year's Eve celebrations Sylvia's family held when she was a child. Each block invokes a memory from days gone by which are all artfully told here. Once at Amy's house, Sylvia hopes the quilt will be a sign of a new beginning with a new family and new traditions and adventures to come.
A sweet story about letting go of the past and reaching out for the future.