Friday, February 26, 2010

The Christmas Cookie Club

The Christmas Cookie Club, by Ann Pearlman.

I am the head cookie bitch and this is my party.

The Christmas cookie club is always on the first Monday of December. Mark it on your calendar.

I only read the front flap of this book when I checked it out of the library, so it was a surprise to later read the back flap (author's bio) and see that not only was the author from Ann Arbor, but the book was set there too!
(which I probably could have figured out once they started mentioning Zingerman's and the Gandy Dancer, among other places!)

Marnie is the "head cookie bitch," and each year she invites 11 other women over to her house for her annual cookie club. There are rules, some of which include that you must make 13 dozen cookies (1 dozen for each woman and 1 dozen to donate to a hospice) and you MUST attend the club each year, with these cookies, or else you forfeit your spot - and apparently there is a LONG waiting list to get in. The women are all great friends and as tragedies and miracles happen in their lives, they share them with one another.

The book was a little schmaltzy at points, but each of the women had a different story to tell, which made it interesting. I loved the Ann Arbor references and what was also interesting was that at the end of the book, the author confesses that she actually IS in a Christmas cookie club herself, which is where she got the inspiration for the book.

3 stars out of 5.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Swan Thieves

The Swan Thieves, by Elizabeth Kostova.

Marriages are like certain books, a story where you turn the last page and you think it's over, and then there's an epilogue, and after that you're inclined to go on wondering about the characters or imagining that their lives continue without you, dear reader. Until you forget most of that book, you're stuck puzzling over what happened to them after you closed it.

Elizabeth Kostova is a graduate of the MFA program at Michigan, so I had definitely heard of her before reading this book; in addition, her first novel, The Historian, got very good reviews. I haven't read The Historian but I decided to read this novel, her second. She weaves together 3 or 4 different stories into one cohesive dialogue, and it is interesting to see how the stories all combine and are related to one another. Dr. Andrew Marlow's patient Robert Oliver is a renowned painter, but he tries to attack a painting at a museum, and is then put in psychiatric care. Dr. Oliver wants to find out what is wrong with Robert, and why Robert won't talk any more, and to do this he must delve into his past - he visits his ex-wife, Kate, and his once-lover, Mary, and in doing so becomes entangled with Mary himself. His search takes him around the globe, to Paris, Acapulco, and other places, and soon the search becomes more of an obsession than something that is necessary.

The novel was a little confusing at parts, otherwise I would give it a higher rating.
3.5 stars out of 5.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Ford County

Ford County, by John Grisham.

Although I like Grisham's books, I am not a big short story fan (thereby making me a hypocrite, since all I write are short stories!), but this one was very good. All of the stories take place in Ford County, Mississippi, which was also the setting for Grisham's first novel, A Time to Kill. The stories were all great but my favorite one was "Casino":

And every outfit was adorned with an astonishing collection of gold - thick watches, bulky neck chains, bracelets, belt buckles, collar pins, tie bars. Bobby Carl gathered gold the way some women hoard shoes.

There are 7 short stories in this collection, and all make for easy reading.

4 stars out of 5.

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