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The Various Haunts of Men by Susan Hill

The Various Haunts of Men by Susan Hill is the first of the Simon Serrailler mysteries.  Hill has written countless other books of fiction, non-fiction and a few children's books in addition to the Serrailler mysteries.  This is the first book by Hill that I've read.  Before I go on, I have a confession to make.  About halfway through the book in the midst of a (failed) quest to find the proper pronunciation of the surname Serrailler (I hate it when there are words or names with ambiguous or unclear pronunciations in a book!) I read a spoiler regarding a central character's fate, and it nearly spoiled the entire book for me, and for a split second I considered ditching the book entirely.  However, denial is a wonderful thing sometimes, and then the next girl went missing, and the story picked up immediately with this development, and I decided I had to finish it because I had to know who the culprit was and maybe that really bad thing doesn't really happen to that char…

The Love Goddess' Cooking School by Melissa Senate

Melissa Senate is a well established novelist apparently.  She's had at least one novel adapted for a TV movie on the ABC Family channel.  The Love Goddess' Cooking School is not her first novel--it is her TENTH!  But for the fact that the text of the novel itself is rife with typos throughout the entire book, one would think that it is a debut.  There are missing words, words in the wrong form, etc.  For whatever reason this book had a crap copy editor and the mistakes kind of take a little away from the story. They're just enough of a distraction when they pop up that they pull the reader out of the story a little bit because you have to go back and read it again to make sure that yes, that really is a typo, and then you have to go back and read it again to figure out what that typo should be corrected to.  It's a shame because it's a charming story, and I enjoyed reading it, except for all the typos.

When Holly's 16, her Italian grandmother, Camilla, reads …

Evenfall by Liz Michalski

Since I finished The Everafter I've had a bit of trouble finding a book that I like enough and that catches enough of my interest to want to finish it.  I've started a book, read fifty pages or read over a hundred pages, and decided that no, it just isn't worth it, and I don't really care to finish it, so I don't.  I've gone through several books this way: starting them only to never finish them.  I'm hoping that Evenfall by Liz Michalski is the end of that spell because, Lord, that is no fun at all.  Evenfall is the debut novel of Michalski.  It's a novel that drips in regret--that is, two of its main characters' lives are steeped in it, and the third main character is 'thisclose' to heading that way if she doesn't open up her eyes, see what's in front of her, grow a pair and kick that two timing, money grubbing lover to the curb real fast.

Evenfall's chapters rotate among three perspectives. Frank, the recently dead beloved un…

The Everafter by Amy Huntley

Published in 2009 The Everafter is Amy Huntley's first and (thus far) only novel.  It's a fast, suspenseful, and sad read--I read it in a day.  Unfortunately, it is not available in county; I requested it through Inter-library Loan.

Madison Stanton wakes up dead in an endless, dark void populated only by the glowing objects she lost during her lifetime.  She discovers each object is a portal to the moment in her life when she lost that object.  She can use these objects to relive those moments to see her family and friends again who were involved in those moments, but there are rules.  If she finds an object while reliving that moment, it disappears from the void and she can never return to that moment in her life.  She can change the moments' outcomes, but in changing them, she also changes herself in imperceptible but monumental ways.

Using these objects Madison slowly pieces together who she was, who her family and friends were, when she died, and, she hopes eventually…

In The Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming

In The Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming is the first in a mystery series starring an Episcopalian priest, Clare Ferguson, and Miller's Kill chief of police, Russ Van Alstyne.  I mentioned in a previous entry there was a second mystery novel that I'd read and liked well enough but didn't like the characters enough to want to read the rest of the series.  This is that novel.  This title was on the book club list for a library in the Philadelphia area that our book club will be reading next year, and I decided that I wanted to read it too.

The Reverend Clare Ferguson is new to Miller's Kill and St. Alban's parish, a tiny town and Episcopalian parish in upstate New York.  One bitterly cold winter evening Clare, just two weeks into shepherding her new flock, discovers a newborn baby boy bundled in blankets inside a box left on the steps of her church.  When the body of a local teenage girl is discovered in the snow out on the frigid shores of the kill, Van Alsty…

Still Life by Louise Penny

Still Life is Louise Penny's first novel in the series that features Chief Inspector Armand Gamache.  Life is a good book and a gripping mystery; however, the characters didn't make enough of an impact on me to want to read the entire series.  This was also the case with the next book I'll review.

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is called to the tiny village of Three Pines to investigate the suspicious death of Jane Neal, a beloved local woman found dead of a mysterious wound on a path through the woods near her house.  In addition to the difficulty of proving the death was a homicide warranting a thorough investigation or a hunting accident, the investigation is hampered by the negligence and arrogance of Agent Yvette Nichol, new to Gamache's team.  Meanwhile, Gamache, master of observation and detail, is convinced the suspicious death has roots sprung from seeds planted and left festering for decades.

I have to say that Nichol really irked me. Okay, if I'm honest,…

Saint's Gate by Carla Neggers

Saint's Gate is the first in a series by Carla Neggers that will star an ex-nun turned FBI agent and her deep cover FBI operative lover, which is really only a minor spoiler because let's face it, savvy readers will know right from the outset that these two will hook up by novel's end.  I have a hard and fast rule that when an author starts the first lines of the first chapter with a main character's first and last names, as Neggers does with this one, I ditch the book because it always strikes me as a lazy way to start a story and probably a sign of mediocre writing. However, something about the story of Saint's Gate grabbed me.  Neggers sets up an intriguing mystery with an unusual heroine at the center of the story.  The art history and iconography elements add interest to what could be a run of the mill procedural FBI caper.

FBI special agent Emma Sharpe works on an elite team that tracks dangerous, high end art thieves who are often well funded.  Out of the bl…

In Search of the Rose Notes by Emily Arsenault

In Search of the Rose Notes is Emily Arsenault's follow up to The Broken Teaglass, a novel previously reviewed here on the blog.  I was looking back at previous posts and when I clicked through Teaglass' I decided to head to amazon to see if Arsenault had published a follow up yet.  Sometimes these new authors can be tricky--some take forever to publish another novel, some never publish another novel.  I'm still waiting for Ronlyn Domingue's follow up novel to The Mercy of Thin Air--and I've been waiting five years for it!  I'm also wondering when Katherine Howe will publish a follow up novel to The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane.  Anyway I went to amazon and that's how found out Arsenault had published a second novel.

While Notes doesn't have as unique a premise as the setting of a dictionary company, poetry plays an integral role in this novel.  The narrative is split between 1990 in the months leading up to and those following the disappearance of…

Coming Up For Air by Patti Callahan Henry

Coming Up For Air is the first book by Patti Callahan Henry that I've read.  I enjoyed it--great story made even better by great writing and vivid characters.

Ellie's mother is controlling and a force to be reckoned with but in the wake of her sudden death, Ellie becomes unmoored as she realizes she has come to a crossroads in both her life and her marriage.  Ellie admits a heart breaking realization to herself: her marriage is loveless and she can choose to stay and allow it to wither what's left of her heart and soul or she can choose another path; a path that won't end with her becoming a numb, emotionless, steely woman like her mother.

Rusty, Ellie's husband, shows only the kind, charming self to the public, but Ellie knows he has another darker side, prone to cruel words and temper tantrums that he shows to her.  While he's never raised a hand to her, Ellie's come to realize that she mistook his ways of controlling for ways of loving.  And she's ti…

The Burning Soul by John Connolly

The Burning Soul is the latest installment of the Charlie Parker series.  With Connolly's books it's sometimes hard to write reviews--the plots often have multiple strands that connect by the conclusion and it's hard to balance how much to include in the review to convey the flavor of the story without giving the entire thing away.  There is more hinting in this book that something bad is coming Parker's way at some point and that (possibly) something else bad is keeping tabs on him unless the entity keeping tabs is the same nastiness headed his way in which case it's not fair that evil's doing reconnaissance on an unsuspecting Parker!

Pastor's Bay is a tiny, insulated town on the Maine coast whose inhabitants are wary of outsiders and protective of its own citizens.  It has its small town, small time, petty crime, but little does it know that big government is luring some big city, big time, nasty criminals to its environs to orchestrate a take down of sai…

The Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly

The Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly probably could have done with a closer editorial eye.  I get the impression that there were passages from this book in which certain people might have been referred to by the wrong name; however, most of these were the passages in which one of Jo March's letters were being related, so I'm not sure if that was case or if it was a case of certain characters were known by more than one name and this was not explained properly.  While this is a stand alone book, I recommend the reader read the book Little Women by Louisa May Alcott before reading this one or at the very least familiarize themselves with that novel's storyline and characters because Donnelly assumes her reader has more than just a passing knowledge of Little Women characters and storyline which is what I have.  I've never read the book--though I have seen parts of a movie adaptation (or the entire movie adaptation, I can't really remember, it was a long tim…

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley is part historical novel and part romance with a dash of family history.  I first saw this book in Target and wrote down the title hoping that one of the libraries would get it (because I don't buy my books; I borrow them from the library).  It took a long time but one of the libraries did eventually get a copy and I borrowed it.  I liked this book enough that I looked up Kearsley's other books, but a couple of them seemed like they kind of had similar plots with time travelling historical romances.  They didn't really pique my interest.

Best selling historical fiction novelist Carrie McClelland is struggling with her current novel, set in France amidst the intrigue of the exiled Scottish court of the last Stewart king.  Upon stumbling on the beautiful atmospheric ruins of Slains castle, whose resident noble family is at the heart of an ill fated Jacobite plot to land the Stewart king on Scotland's shores, Carrie knows she must revers…

White Heat by M.J. McGrath

M.J. McGrath is a British author who has written several non-fiction books about the Arctic and its native cultures; McGrath makes her fiction debut with White Heat, a story set in the isolated, Inuit Canadian tundra with a half Inuit protagonist.  All murder mysteries convey a sense of urgency especially when more people start dropping dead; in the instance of White Heat, the remote, cold, and inherently dangerous environment of the arctic adds to the sense of urgency and danger--if the murderer doesn't get to you, the frigid weather will if one's not careful.

Edie is the best guide on Ellesmere Island, but when she takes two American men out on the tundra for a routine hunting trip and one is shot and killed, a puzzling and dangerous mystery is uncovered --and promptly dismissed by her community's mayor.  More bodies fall in the wake of the first murder as the dead man's travel companion disappears on a later expedition guided by her beloved stepson, Joe, who also ge…

The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson

The Lantern is Deborah Lawrenson's debut novel.  It's very atmospheric, foreboding, suspenseful, lyrical, and haunting.  The lush, isolated landscape of the French countryside becomes its own character in the novel.

Eve meets Dom, an older gentleman, by chance while on a job in Switzerland.  Immediately the two embark upon a whirlwind love affair that continues after both return to London.  Dom, a previously married man, is mysterious, closed off about his past, and given to mercurial and dark moods.  Their love affair exists in its own isolated bubble--neither makes much effort to introduce the other to family or friends, especially Dom, who insists on compartmentalizing his past and his present; he refuses to discuss the former with Eve because he claims it is too painful.

When Dom proposes moving to an isolated, run down, long uninhabited estate in the Provence countryside, Eve agrees to go with him that summer.  But as the two pass the summer in France, Eve realizes she ne…

South of Superior by Ellen Airgood

Ellen Airgood is a diner manager in Michigan, and South of Superior is her debut novel.  This is the kind of novel that reads fast.  A lot happens while at the same time nothing really happens--it's one of those kind of stories.

Chicago raised Madeline Stone still reels from the death of her beloved adoptive mother, Emmy, a year ago.  Abandoned by her mother, rejected by her grandfather, who refused to raise her and from whom she remained estranged for the rest of his life, Madeline accepts an invitation from Gladys, her grandfather's girlfriend, and Glady's sister, Arbutus, to return to tiny McAllaster, Michigan, town of her birth, to assist in caring for Arbutus, who's become crippled by arthritis.

McAllaster is a tiny, one street town on the coast of Lake Superior where less than 1000 people live year round.  The natives struggle to make ends meet while the rich out of towners summer in mansions built on the lake shore that drive up taxes and drive out native McAlla…

Emily's Ghost by Denise Giardina

Emily's Ghost is the first novel I've read by Denise Giardina, but it's not Giardina's first novel.  Even though the book is based on real life people, it is important to note (and not forget) that this is a novel of historical fiction, and, based on some readings I've done online, great liberties were taken in the portrayal of the characters based on real people and the relationships and dynamics between said characters.  I've also read other online reviews of the novel--some people liked it, others didn't.  One person took extreme issue with the title because it is misleading.  The subtitle is "A Novel of the Bronte Sisters," and I must admit the subtitle did puzzle me a bit because the novel and title clearly focus on Emily Bronte.  I thought the subtitle made it sound as if this might be the first in a series.  Whether this is true or not, I have no idea.  I'm not sure that I would read subsequent novels in this series.

I felt as if this n…

The End of Everything by Megan Abbott

The End of Everything is the first novel that I've read by Megan Abbott.  It is not the author's first novel.  I looked up Abbott's previous titles because I liked this one enough and the titles listed on the inside cover were pretty kick ass--like you know how sometimes you can tell you'll want to read a book just by the title alone? Or an intriguing title is enough to get you look it up on Amazon to find out what it's about?  Well, that's why I looked up previous Abbott titles--totally forgetting that I already did this weeks ago and, when the photos of the book covers came up on Amazon, it all came back to me.  Because the covers make the books look like pulp crime fiction titles.  I don't know if they're really that or not, but it was enough (for now) for me to decide that I don't want to read any of the previous titles.  I may change my mind in the future, but the descriptions of the plots didn't really redeem the book covers enough to make…

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Where She Went is the sequel and follow up to Gayle Forman's debut novel, If I Stay, a novel that was previously reviewed here on the blog.  If I Stay was devastating and suspenseful and it is available here at the library.  I recommend you read it before you read Where She Went which is also available here at the library.

If I Stay was told from the perspective of Mia in the wake of the car crash that killed her entire family; it took place over the several days she spent in a coma as she decided whether to stay or die with the rest of her family. Where She Went is told from Adam's perspective.  Adam was Mia's boyfriend and much like Mia reminisced about memories shared with her family and boyfriend throughout her coma, Adam shares his own perspective on that fateful week and the years since that have been spent estranged from Mia.

Over three years have passed since the horrific crash that took the lives of Mia's parents and brother and nearly hers too.  Both Mia and A…

Fallen by Karin Slaughter

I'm not sure how many of you are Karin Slaughter fans.  Over the space of her previous two or three releases I've become a hard core fan due to the vivid characters, twisty mysteries and first rate writing.  Really, it's because the merger of the Atlanta series starring Will Trent and Faith Mitchell with the Grant County series starring Dr. Sara Linton that the series has really taken off for me as a reader.  Fallen is Slaughter's highly, highly anticipated follow up to Broken.  I'm already looking forward to the follow up to Fallen.

When Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent Faith Mitchell arrives at her mother's house, she finds a bloody hand print on the front door and a trail of blood leading from the door back to the locked shed where Faith's mother keeps her gun.  Faith sees her infant daughter hidden in the locked shed and that her mother's gun safe is open.  The gun inside it is gone.  Faith knows her mother's in trouble, so she calls for ba…

Sister by Rosamund Lupton

Sister is the debut novel by the British author Rosamund Lupton.  It is an impressive, haunting, harrowing, and heartbreaking debut.

When their mother calls Bee in New York to tell her that her younger sister, Tess, has been missing for four days, Bee catches the next flight to London.  She expects to find Tess and deliver the usual lecture about responsibility.  Instead her sister's body is found in a nearby park.  And despite the police ruling the death a suicide and her family's acceptance of this ruling, Bee is adamant that she knows her sister, that she knows her well enough to know that Tess would never take her own life.  Determined to find her sister's murderer, Bee moves into Tess's apartment and begins her own investigation predicated on the certainty of the closeness of the relationship between herself and Tess.

The story is structured as a long letter that Bee has written to Tess to explain to her sister why she was murdered, who her murderer is, and how Be…

The Silent Girl by Tess Gerritsen

The Silent Girl is the latest installment in the Rizzoli and Isles series by Tess Gerritsen.  I have since finished this book and moved on to another good one that I'll be reviewing probably next week.  This was a very satisfying installment in the series, and it had a bit of a surprise twist in the true identity of one of the supporting characters.  Considering the role this particular character played in the book, it makes me wonder if he will also make an appearance in the next book in the series.

Before I move on to the review, I want to share some exciting book news.  Fallen, Karin Slaughter's newest book has finally arrived here at the library.  People.  I CAN BARELY CONTAIN MYSELF.  I still have about half of a book left before I can start Fallen.  I think I know what I'll be doing this weekend.

A Jane Doe's cleanly severed hand turns up in a Chinatown alleyway in Boston, and Rizzoli is called to investigate.  A police search finds the rest of Jane Doe atop the …

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is Ransom Riggs' debut novel.  After reading the book in its entirety I can only say that what started out with such promise, ended in a blaze of mixed feelings.  I'm not sure how I feel about it.  The ending leaves several issues unresolved and is more of a beginning than an ending.  While the jacket blurb makes no mention of this being the first book in a potential series, the ending makes it clear that there must be at least one planned sequel.

Jacob's grandfather told him fantastical stories about the children he grew up with in an orphanage on a remote island off the coast of Wales.  There was the girl who could create fire with her bare hands, the boy who was filled bees, and the levitating girl among others.  When Jacob stopped believing the stories, his grandfather stopped telling them.  Years later when Jacob's 15, his grandfather dies suddenly and with his last words he sends Jacob on a journey to discover the s…

The Glass Demon by Helen Grant

The Glass Demon is Helen Grant's follow up to The Vanishing of Katharina Linden, a book previously reviewed on this blog back in June.  The Glass Demon is every bit as gripping as Grant's debut, starting from the killer first lines.  Demon is a dark and sinister, modern myth, and, like its predecessor, takes place in Germany.  Grant is expert at evoking the claustrophobia and clique-ishness of small town life where locals close ranks against outsiders and rumors and gossip fly like nobody's business.

In the wake of a career setback, Lin's father uproots the family from their home in England and packs them off to the remote German countryside to spend the year living in a rundown castle in the middle of a forest.  When the family arrives, they come across an old man lying dead in an orchard, the ground around him littered with shattered glass, and when Lin's father refuses to report the corpse to the police, the reader knows this cannot bode well.  Indeed the family…

Now You See Me by S.J. Bolton

Now You See Me is S.J. Bolton's newest release.  I've been waiting since the last one I read which means I've been waiting nearly a year.  It's been a long, hard wait.  Then it finally FINALLY dropped and then... the library's copy took a month to get here from Amazon.  A MONTH!  I refrained from asking after it every day even though I wanted to.  But when it arrived it came with two or three other titles I really wanted to read so I'm willing to forgive because it brought friends.

I must say that Now You See Me was worth the wait.  My immediate feeling after reading the last chapter was that it was Bolton's best novel yet.  And now I have to wait another year for the next one.  This was a very quick read.  The action starts literally on the first page, and it's very hard to put down.  It's thrilling, suspenseful, frightening, and disturbing.

Detective Constable Lacy Flint is thrown into the middle of a bloody murder scene when a terrifying and dang…

The Last Will of Moira Leahy by Therese Walsh

The Last Will of Moira Leahy is Therese Walsh's debut novel.  It's breathtaking, heart pounding, tragic, and there's a bit of an unexpected twist to one part of the story that leads to a slightly hokey scene near the end, but I enjoyed the book.  The author does an expert job of drawing the characters--especially the smarmy, sinister 'villain.'

Moira and Maeve are twins who were once so close they spoke their own language and knew what the other was feeling.  In their sixteenth year Moira, driven by jealousy and spurned affections,  embarks on a secret love affair built on betrayal and deception.  The consequences irrevocably rend her family in pieces and destroy her relationship with her twin forever.

Over nine years later Maeve has left home and is teaching at a university.  She's left behind her beloved music and blocked out her past at the expense of love and friendships.  She buries herself in her work and keeps her almost boyfriend at a distance.  However…

The Summer We Read Gatsby by Danielle Ganek

The Summer We Read Gatsby is Danielle Ganek's second novel.  I haven't read her first one, but since Summer was pretty good, and I'm now thinking about trying out her debut novel.  Ganek writes long chapters which is something I don't appreciate because of the way I read a book.  However, after the first few chapters, the chapters and the book go very quickly once you get caught up its fictional world.  This is largely due to the witty writing and the vivid characters as well as the bits of mysterious intrigue about a 'thing of utmost value,' a stolen painting, and a gorgeous house guest with a strange, murky past who refuses to leave.

Peck and Cassie's beloved Aunt Lydia, the last of their paternal relatives, has died.  Lydia's will bequeaths her summer home in the Hamptons and all its contents to her nieces with specific instructions to spend a final month in the house during which Lydia hopes that they'll find something of utmost value before the…

Graveminder by Melissa Mars

Graveminder by Melissa Marr is the author's first adult novel.  She's well known in the young adult fiction world for her best selling Wicked Lovely series that details the exploits of some royal courts in the fey world.  While neither the book jacket nor the author's website says that Graveminder is the start a new series, the book itself has that kind of feeling to it because there a lot of questions left open regarding some minor characters in the book etc.  I also read in the press release for the Graveminder (which you can find at the author's website) that the book is already being developed into a television series.  This intrigues me, and I will say that I'm more likely to watch the series than read it.  Unless the tv series turns out be crap or populated by annoying actors that I hate, in which case I won't be watching it either.

Graveminder sets forth a unique world contained in a small town, and it also puts a new spin on the undead  concept (they are…

Invisible Boy by Cornelia Read

Invisible Boy is Cornelia Read's third and most recent installment in the Madeline Dare series.  Thus far each book in the series takes place about a year after its predecessor in a different setting.  This makes me wonder where we'll find Madeline and her husband living in the next book especially considering the life altering development in their personal lives that was revealed in the closing pages of the book.  Might we next find them in Ohio living near Madeline's friend Ellis who last made an appearance in the debut Dare novel?  We'll have to wait until next year to find out because if the author follows her previous pattern of releasing a new novel every two years, the next one won't drop until sometime in 2012.

By now we all know how trouble follows Madeline, and it shows up like clockwork on a yearly basis despite Madeline putting geographical distance between herself and the site of her previous encounters with life endangering trouble with a capital T. …

The Crazy School by Cornelia Read

The Crazy School is the second installment in Cornelia Read's Madeline Dare series.  The Crazy School, both as a book and as a place, is populated by characters who are all different kinds of crazy for all different kinds of reasons.  A Field of Darkness (Crazy's predecessor)  started off with a killer first line/paragraph that set the bar and tone for the rest of that novel.  The Crazy School doesn't have that distinction.  However, the book very quickly hooks the reader--once the story gets going, it's very hard to put down, and the chapters fly by.

It's the year after the events of A Field of Darkness.  While these events are referenced obliquely once or twice, it would be very easy for someone to jump into the series starting with this book and then catch up with the first one.  Me, I like to read a series in order.  Okay, let's just be honest: I HAVE to read a series in order, so I started with the first one and continued on through the third and most rece…

A Field of Darkness by Cornelia Read

A Field of Darkness is the first in a new series.  Read has released two more installments after this one (and the reviews for those will be forthcoming).  There is a marked difference in the feel and tone between Field and its successors.  It makes me wonder if maybe the first one was first intended as a stand alone novel.  Nevertheless this (and its successors) is a gripping mystery story related by a sharp tongued, witty narrator.  It's a page turner, very hard to put down and is populated with elements that always seem to intrigue me: family history, fairy tales and murder.

It's 1988, and Madeline Dare is unhappily ensconced in Syracuse, New York, her husband's hometown.  Though she writes for a local, free, weekly newspaper, she is the opposite of the intrepid, investigative reporter chomping at the bit for her big break.  Madeline is quite happy writing the fluff lifestyle and home pieces for the newspaper.  Then a chilling, unsolved, double murder drops into her lap…

As Husbands Go by Susan Isaacs

As Husbands Go is the first book by Susan Isaacs that I've read.  I was on the fence for the first fifty pages or so about whether or not I was going to finish reading it or abandon ship.  I feel as if the blurb on the inside book flap is slightly misleading (and I always feel gypped when I find this the case with a book)--the blurb makes it sound as if the mystery and intrigue and flashy granny are larger parts of the book than they turn out to be.  The mystery and intrigue don't get cranked up in earnest until at least halfway into the book and the flashy granny doesn't make an appearance until halfway through and doesn't become a fixture until well past the point.  So those were my main quibbles with the book for the most part.

I like the clever dual meaning of the title.  And the characters who populate the story are wild, witty, hilarious, and superficial (though quite self aware of their own superficiality).  It is largely the characters' personalities and th…