Monday, November 17, 2008

Misadventures of the Wanna-Be Rich and Famous

Oliver Booth wants nothing more than to join the ranks of Palm Beach's high society. But with his arrogant personality, garish wardrobe, and incompetent stewardship of an antique shop filled with gaudy reproductions, he doesn't have a chance. Oliver's luck takes a turnabout when the society doyenne Margaret Van Buren sends him and his assistant, Bernard, to Paris on a shopping spree to furnish her new estate.

What ensues is a series of hilarious, Voltaire-esque misadventures as Oliver bumbles his way through the milieu of the elite. A satirical look at the lengths some people will go to in order to enter the insular circle of the privileged, David's Desmond's novel is a witty glimpse into a world few of us know. (-Greenleaf Book Group Press)

This was a quick read that had me wanting more! While I've never actually been to Palm Beach or to Paris, I honestly felt like I had spent time there after finishing this book!

The book starts out in Palm Beach, with Oliver Booth trying to make himself a bit more important that he really was. He owns an antique store but it's not on the main drag of town, Worth Avenue, so as a result he doesn't see much traffic. (Not that he would anyway-he has reproductions that still have the Made in Mexico stickers on them!) After an unfortunate incident at the Morningwood Country Club on New Year's Eve, Oliver finds himself in an unusual situation. He is asked to go to Paris, along with his assistant Bernard (also a waiter at Morningwood), and find furnishings for the guest house for Margaret Van Buren-one of the Palm Beach Society's elite. The trip is, to say the least, hilarious, and it has Oliver in an even more interesting situation, one he would definitely NOT want to have appear in the Shiny Sheet in Palm Beach.

I really enjoyed reading this book; I felt as though I was looking into the lives of the rich and famous. The characters were rounded, and I felt as though I knew Bernard and Oliver personally. I was a bit worried when I first started the book though-I noticed that Desmond was using larger words than necessary. I realize that it gives the air of importance and richness, but I wasn't sure it was necessary. By the middle of the book, however, either I stopped noticing it as much or it slowed down, because I flew through the book, just wondering what was going to happen next.

I definitely would recommend this book-I think everyone wonders what life of the elite is like, and this does give a taste of it, even if it is just an amuse bouche.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Ella Minnow Pea

Summary: Ella Minnow Pea is a girl living happily on the fictional island of Nollop off the coast of South Carolina. Nollop was named after Nevin Nollop, author of the immortal pangram,* “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” Now Ella finds herself acting to save her friends, family, and fellow citizens from the encroaching totalitarianism of the island’s Council, which has banned the use of certain letters of the alphabet as they fall from a memorial statue of Nevin Nollop. As the letters progressively drop from the statue they also disappear from the novel. The result is both a hilarious and moving story of one girl’s fight for freedom of expression, as well as a linguistic tour de force sure to delight word lovers everywhere. *pangram: a sentence or phrase that includes all the letters of the alphabet (-Anchor)

I read Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn as a recommendation from a friend. I am so happy that I did! The setting of this book is in Nollop, a small island off the coast of South Carolina. The folks there idolize the man who created the sentence "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog." There is a statue of him with the sentence in the middle of town. As time goes by, letters begin to fall off, which the citizens take as a sign that they are no longer to use them. Initially, letters like q and z aren't too hard to live without, but as time goes on, spelling becomes challenging, as letters are combined to create the same sound of a former letter. The only way to get the letters back is to create a sentence that uses all of the letters of the alphabet but is smaller than Nollop's original one.

I loved this book! It was so fun, and it was quite enjoyable. I always like books that written in 'letters' to others, but this one definitely tops the rest. The folks of the town are quite verbose and I enjoyed the different words they would choose just to mean something simple. (Ie Omnipotent being instead of God) It was fantastic! I highly recommend this book. I only wish there were others like it-although I really don't know that they could master the technique as well as Dunn.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Death of a Garage Sale Newbie, a review

Summary: What could Ginger the baby boomer, Kindra the college student, Suzanne the pregnant mother of three, and Mary Margret the silver-haired real-estate agent possibly have in common? Who would’ve guessed…a passion for garage sales!

This motley crew forms the Bargain Hunters Network–bonding while clipping coupons, attending half-price sales, and scouting clearance racks in their hometown of Three Horses, Montana. But when one of the four turns up missing, these shop-till-you-drop women must set their bargain hunting aside to take up an entirely new venture altogether–solving a crime.

As the three amateur sleuths retrace their friend’s fateful steps, they discover clues that lead them to suspect her murder is linked to an unusual garage sale purchase made on the morning of her death. But when their search unearths a disturbing secret that’s been carefully concealed for over twenty years, the women are drawn into a dark underworld filled with bribery, greed, and deception. With determined criminals who will stop at nothing to keep their secret safe, will these fiscally conscious females end up paying the ultimate price? (- WaterBrook Press)

I came across Death of a Garage Sale Newbie by Sharon Dunn on LibraryThing. It was listed as a suggested read for something I'd read earlier this year. Do I remember which one? No-I've checked out a bunch of those suggested reads lately! Anyway, I was in the mood for a quickish mystery, so off to the library I went to check out this book.

It started out decently, three friends who love to bargain shop and their 4th friend is missing, soon to be found dead with an arrow in her back. I have to admit, I think this is the first murder mystery that I've read that the murder weapon is a bow. Anyway. The story continues on, with a police officer who is struggling to connect with her son and keep him out of trouble, an older lady who is missing her husband who passed away 15 years ago, and the grieving 3 friends. They've determined that the reason the friend was killed had to have been important, so they go through the final garage sale purchases of the deceased and try to put the clues together. While I enjoyed this book, I just found it a bit too forced. Perhaps I've just read too many other mysteries. I wanted to find out the ending, but at the same time, I didn't necessarily care if I did. It almost seemed as though there was just too much going on in this book. It seemed as though every character had an issue. Not that that's horrible, but I wasn't expecting that. I wanted a light mystery.

I don't know that I'll continue reading the Bargain Hunters Mysteries series or not. The title of her next book, Death of a Six Foot Teddy Bear, does sound intreguing. I cannot say that I'll rush right over to check it out though. Perhaps when I'm at a lull for books in my TBR pile I will.