This is my first novel from Chicago-area novelist Laura Caldwell and I loved it.  It’s fun and light, but it has enough oomph to surpass romances and other lighter chick lit fair.  Caldwell’s writing style is easy going and breezy, just like the story here, which revolves around three friends who have been pals for years but are going through a “seven-year itch” in their friendship. The storyteller of the book, Casey, has been in a relationship for a while and that has changed the friendships she has. So, all three friends decide to take a trip to Italy and Greece to have fun and re-bond, but things begin to go awry quite quickly.  So, basically, you have the best of both worlds here…travel and light romance.  It’s fun and entertaining, while never being too fluffy.  Another author for me to savor! 

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Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand is a fantastic book about love, friendship and prejudice at any time in life, within any social status, anywhere in the world.  The character of Major Ernest Pettigrew is pretty much the stereotypical older English gentleman.  He’s classy, he’s respectful, he’s neat and tidy, he’s quiet and he’s not one to ever make a scene.  Enter Mrs. Jasmina Ali and her Pakistani background and ways and the Major finds his proper, sedate life turned upside down.  Right from the start, there is some chemistry between Mrs. Ali and the Major but because of both cultural and class prejudices (from the townspeople, from the Major’s son Roger and even from the Major himself), Mrs. Ali leaves the town, and the Major, behind.  What the Major does next leads to one of the best “adult” endings in fiction ever.  Very little in this book is trite or clichéd.  An excellent, mature read for all…not only for those in the twilight of their lives. 
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 Fins Are Forever:
               Are mermaids real to you? They are to Lily; in fact she’s a walking one. She takes long hot…saltwater baths. She’s in love with this really hot guy named Brody. They’re perfect together; he’s hot, buff, and a swim team captain. She totally wants to go out with him, except she’s got to get over of the fear to talk to him. It’s her time to act when he and his long-time cheerleader girlfriend break up. She finally gets to courage to ask him to the dance when her annoying neighbor Quince tells her that he’s going stag for the dance. Lily doesn’t believe him and think it’s just a stupid prank to keep her alone forever. But it’s true; Brody was going to the dance alone. So Quince comes up with a quick plan for Brody and Lily to meet up… and this is where all the action plus romance starts.
I loved this book. I finished it in a day. This book is amazing in both cliffhanging and romance. I love the sequel also. It’s almost impossible to not love world of Lily and her love.
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Set during both WWII and in the mid-1980s, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an exceptional novel about a time in history American we are too willing to forget…the internment of Japanese Americans during the war. Set in Seattle, Hotel focuses around main character Henry, who is a young 12-year-old Chinese American boy in 1942, where much of the book takes place. During these historical chapters, he meets Keiko, a Japanese girl who is a second generation American. They both start out apprehensive of each other (Henry’s father loathes the Japanese) but eventually grow to care deeply for each other. When Keiko and her family, along with all of the other Japanese families, are rounded up and moved to camps set up by the American government, Henry is not only unhappy but confused…confused since Keiko is more American than he is. Keiko does not even speak Japanese. This contrasts with Henry’s background…where his parents speak only Chinese and they force him to speak only “his English.”
I really liked this novel. It has one of the best, most moving stories I’ve read. Ever. Now, mind you, I am not saying this is the best book I have ever read. Why? What is the difference between “best story” and “best book?” Simple: the way it was written. As I was reading Hotel, I found myself thinking about another book I had read that was also set in the Pacific Northwest about Japanese Americans: Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson. Even though Snow takes place AFTER WWII and Hotel focuses on events that happen DURING the war, I continued to make comparisons between the two while I was reading Hotel. Comparisons to the story and the location and the romantic elements…NOT comparisons to the writing. Guterson’s novel from 1994 is filled with lyrical prose that I remember submerging myself into and not wanting to escape from…vivid from page one to the end, brilliantly bringing to life an entire setting through the pages. The love story in Snow between the main characters is enhanced by the poetic words given to describe both them and their surroundings. Jamie Ford’s writing in Hotel is good…very good. It’s just not excellent. It’s the story in Hotel that you want to savor, not the prose. Had Ford brought to Hotel the expressive, inspired language Guterson used, Hotel might just have been a true literary masterpiece. But, having a minor masterpiece is still pretty good! It’s a great, page-turning read and a story that will stay with you long after the final page.

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A fun tale with an interesting weave of supernatural to change things up a bit. Tilly is bored with her life and her high school sweetheart husband and their inability to get pregnant is a constant source of contention. On a whim, Tilly visits a psychic, who happens to be a former friend, and this fortune teller warns her that she possesses the gift of “clarity.” Not believing in any of the psychic stuff, she initially ignores the fortune, but soon she begins to have day dreams where she foresees what is about to happen in her life. After these flashes of future vision, Tilly’s life begins to take turns she never imagined. This is the second book I’ve read by Winn Scotch, the first being The Department of Lost and Found. She is a strong writer who enjoys taking chances.

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