Book It: Holiday Gift-Giving Guide!

It’s been a good long while since I’ve presented a book report. Like, I have approximately 3 gajillion books to either make dioramas about or write about here. Since I tend to hoard shoe boxes, I’ll skip the dioramas and write up my thoughts here – in convenient holiday gift-giving themes!

Today’s theme? Beachy reads. These are fun books that I either read on vacation or would recommend for vacation-type times. Or times you wish were vacation-type times.

The Next Best Thing: A Novel – Jennifer Weiner
My pal Alice read a horrible review of this book and so cautioned our otherwise Weiner-loving book club. However, I am here to tell you: I loved this book. I enjoyed it more than the author’s recent books, and it was one of those books that makes you wonder about the characters when you’re not reading. Plus, I learned a lot about how shows for the teevee are made, since the plot follows writer Ruthie through the process of getting her sitcom produced. Also, it made me really glad I don’t live in LA.

Speaking of not living in LA …

Attachments: A Novel – Rainbow Rowell
This was a recommendation from Alice, and I also loved it (I do read some books I don’t love, I swear). Let’s hear it for a novel where the main characters don’t live in LA or New York! These characters manage to lead interesting, nuanced lives in Omaha. Gasp! These Midwesterners were well-developed and the prose in this tender little love story was engaging. Rowell has another book out soon and I can’t wait.

A Different Kind of Normal – Cathy Lamb
I have read everything Lamb has written – she’s great at escapist fiction that asks readers to just go ahead and believe in a handful of hopeful, crazy things. I enjoyed this book, but I have to admit that it made me think that I’ve got the author’s formula figured out: One traumatic event + A headstrong, lonely woman + A masculine but sensitive guy + Some random psychic or witchy ability = Book! Not to knock it, but … I can’t quite remember the plot. Something about a son with a cranial deformity and being in love with his doctor.

The Lost Recipe for Happiness – Barbara O’Neal
If I’m razzing on plots that depend on random supernatural business, I shouldn’t recommend this novel. But I’m going to. Publishers Weekly calls it a “bland kitchen romance” but that seems harsh, so they can suck it. If you’re looking for a recreational novel, this is a good, mindless choice. Elena’s a chef, and she’s haunted by an accident from which she was the only survivor. And then some stuff happens. And then you’re glad for her.

Welcome to Eudora: A Novel – Mimi Thebo
Holy cow – yet another book that doesn’t take place in LA or New York. What is the literary world coming to? This little gem centers around comings and goings in small-town Kansas. I grew up in a small town. I’m given to occasional tangents wherein talking about my hometown morphs into a meandering soliloquy that might feature generations-deep genealogy, careful descriptions of long-gone buildings, and the phrase “she turned up pregnant.” So, I totally appreciate any novelist that attempts to capture small-town life. Thebo did a great job and crafted a sweet little romance, too. Extra credit goes to the author for writing about the influx of Latino residents that’s shaping so many Midwest towns. Lots of people are scared to talk about this, but she handled it with grace and aplomb.

Next up in Cha Cha’s Book-Giving Guide? Biographies!

Disclaimer: When you purchase a book through my links, Amazon throws some spare change my way. This enables me to pay my library fines, stay out of library jail, and keep entertaining you with my hard-hitting literary criticism.

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