Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani (2009)
A light but very entertaining book for a beach or trip read, especially if you’ve been or are going to Italy. Valentine, raised in a true Italian family, lives with her aging grandmother as they try to keep their family business (a high-end Italian shoe designer/ manufacturer) up and running. Love enters in for both Valentine and grandma and the ending has a twist. Chick lit, maybe, but I truly enjoyed it!
Read an excerpt and review at Bookreporter.com and visit the author’s website.
Finding Noel by Richard Paul Evans (2006)
This book touched my heart and soul in so many ways. The characters were so believable and relatable. I couldn’t put it down, despite that fact that I was overcome with emotion at various times throughout the book. It was one of those books that kept me thinking about the characters long after I finished it. The book is narrated by a young man. Each chapter opens with a brief entry from his diary. A few of my favorite entries are:
- “My mother used to tell me that angels walk the earth disguised as people. Tonight I’m a believer.”
- “Sometimes you can’t go home again.”
- “I have learned firsthand that one well-placed truth can counter a lifetime of ignorance.”
- “Usually life’s greatest gifts come wrapped in adversity.”
Although this is considered a Christmas book, it certainly can be read at any time of the year.
Read a review at Bookreporter.com, visit the author’s website and check out the reading guide. You may also read an excerpt from the book.
The Matchmaker of Perigord by Julia Stuart (2008)
When all of his regular customers are going bald or deserting him for a snazzy new barber in the next town, Guillaume Ladoucette gives up barbering for matchmaking. Trying to pair up his friends and neighbors, though, turns out to be harder than Guillaume imagined. Especially when he can’t even manage his own love life. A charming story set in a magical town and chock full of good French food and eccentrics.
Read an interview with the author and explore the publisher’s reading guide for this title.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (2008)
At the end of WWII, writer Juliet Ashton has just published a collection of the humorous columns she wrote about London during the war. Now she is at loose ends trying to find her next project. Through a happy accident, a used book with her name in it lands on the Channel Island of Guernsey and into the hands of Dawsey Adams. Through letters to Dawsey and others on Guernsey, Juliet learns about what occupation under the Germans was like and finds the inspiration for her next book.
The story is told entirely in letters between Juliet and her many friends and is very charming. Some might feel it is a bit too charming and even sentimental, but anyone willing to enter into the time and place of the book and who enjoys quirky eccentrics will find a satisfying read. The book is reminiscent of Helen Hanff’s 84 Charing Cross Road for its depiction of England right after WWII and its discussion of literature through letters from Hanff and the friends she made at a bookshop in England. For another story of the Channel Islands under German occupation, see the British miniseries Island at War.
Visit the book’s website and read reviews of the book at Amazon.com.
The Used World by Haven Kimmel (2007)
Contemporary setting in small town about three women and the relationships in their lives. Fast, easy read with twists and an interesting way of life in small town USA today. The story has an interesting ending and all is well. The author’s use of descriptions in her story makes for good reading flow. A person should read this book 30 years from now to know the terminology and setting of life in the beginning of the 21st century.
Read reviews at Amazon.com and visit the author’s website.
A Cedar Cove Christmas by Debbie Macomber (2008)
Mary Jo Wyse is pregnant; she heads to Cedar Cove in search of David, the father of her baby. Following her are three overprotective brothers (the three Wyse men). Although she doesn’t find David, Mary Jo is embraced by the close knit Cedar Cove community. A nice light read that’s good for the holidays.
A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson (2008)
Mr. Malik, a widower living in Nairobi, loves his Tuesday morning bird walks–and Mrs. Mbikwa–the widow who leads them. Mr. Malik, a shy and modest man, has a dream of dancing with Mrs. Mbikwa at the annual Hunt Club Ball. First, though, he must win the right to invite her by seeing and identifying more birds species within a one week period than does his arch nemesis in life and love, the flashy Harry Khan. While Harry flies around Kenya identifying birds, Mr. Malik stays closer to home and deals with stolen cars, his lively young houseboy, and Somalian kidnappers. Will Mr. Malik’s kind and generous heart win his lady love in the end? A charming story told with affection and humor.
Read an interview with the author and reviews from Amazon.com.
Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo (2007)
This is a travel book and an enlightenment book with very funny moments. The two diametrically opposed personalities encounter forced togetherness on a road trip from the East Coast to a family Midwest farm. The author carves out two distinct men, one who is patient about the differences in people and one who is not tolerant of different people. Fast, laugh-out-loud read which provokes reflection on one’s own personality traits.
Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland (1999)
The title of Girl in Hyacinth Blue could also be titled Life of a Painting. All who read this book will enjoy art more because of the wonderful description of the painting and the way the owners of it enjoy its beauty.
Set in Amsterdam from 1939 to 1945, the story gives a wonderful history of the life of the people during WWII. Since the story gives the historical account of the painting Girl in Hyacinth Blue from present day to its beginning, you’re reading a memoir backwards to find out how the painting came to be in the current owner’s home.
Enjoy an easy read while you learn.
Visit the publisher’s website for a reading guide and an interview with the author.