Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Lucy and her friends have decided to spend graduation night searching for Shadow, the elusive but talented graffiti artist.  Ed and his friends just want to kill time until they can carry out their real plans for the evening.  In the meantime, Ed joins Lucy in her quest, racing to all of Shadow’s artwork while thawing their prickly relationship through their stories and hopes.  Lucy shares her obsession with Shadow and his art, unaware of how close he really is.  Graffiti Moon is a fun young adult novel with great characters and an artistic twist.

I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

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Poppy Wyatt has lost it.  In the midst of a hotel fire drill she manages to lose both her family-heirloom engagement ring and her cell phone, causing a near panic until she catches a glimpse of a phone in the trash can.  Finders keepers, right?  Sam Roxton, obnoxious businessman and the owner of the phone disagrees.  Now Poppy is fielding messages and calls from Sam’s business associates and her cranky wedding planner, but still not from all the people who are supposed to be finding her engagement ring.  Add to this juggling act Poppy’s attempt to impress her future in-laws while hiding her loss of ring from them and chaos is the result.  Sam ends up being her conscience and support and forces her to question what’s missing from her relationship with the “perfect” Magnus besides an emerald ring. 

In Kinsella’s classic style of a well-intentioned heroine who just keeps messing up, I’ve Got Your Number will keeping you cringing, laughing, and cheering on Poppy to the very end.

Love in a Nutshell by Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly

>I must confess, I read One for the Money a few years ago and I didn’t like it. I decided to give Janet Evanovich one more try, though, so I picked up Love in a Nutshell and was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed it.

Kate Appleton has had a horrible year. She found out her husband was cheating on her, got a divorce, lost the custody battle over her poodle, and then she lost her job. She really needs a break. Her plan is to fix up her parents’ lake house and turn it into a bed and breakfast. This would be easier if it weren’t in horrible shape and she hadn’t lost most of her savings in the housing market crash when she and her husband’s house lost a lot of its value.

Enter Matt Culhane, owner of a successful restaurant/brewery in town who needs someone to find out who has been sabotaging his business. Matt offers Kate $20,000 to find his saboteur, which she accepts as pretty much her only option for saving the house (did I mention her parents were behind on house payments?).

Kate has a lot on her plate with trying to find out who is sabotaging Matt’s business, meet new friends in Keene’s Harbor, fix up her parents’ house, and try to resist her growing attraction to Matt.

The Perfect Blend by Trish Perry

>Steph Vandergrift is floundering. She burned some bridges in Baltimore when she quit her job and left her friends and family to move to Middleburg and elope with Rick Manfred, the young attorney who stood her up at the altar. Now she needs to find a job and a place to live until she can get herself back on her feet. When Milly, the kind woman who owns Millicent’s Tea Shop offers her a short-term position, it’s the answer to her prayers.

Kendall James, a handsome Middleburg business owner, meets and begins pursuing Steph, a source of great confusion for her. Just when she starts feeling ready to consider a relationship with Kendall, her A.W.O.L. fiance turns back up looking for a second chance.

With wonderful secondary characters, a cozy small town setting, and a sweet romance, Trish Perry has written a winner in The Perfect Blend. The second book in the Tea Shop series, Tea for Two, is already out and available at the library.

Take a Chance on Me by Jill Mansell

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Humorous and quirky characters, witty dialogue and romance combine in this delightful new contemporary romance Take a Chance on Me. Twenty-something Cleo lives in the village where she grew up, working as a chauffeur and happy that she has finally found her perfect man in Will–until she learns he is married with two children. Her childhood nemesis, Johnny, has returned home and has set up his artists studio in his uncle’s old home. In a village where everyone knows everyone else’s business, it’s hard for Cleo to live down her involvement with a married man and she tries to build a wall against Johnny’s charms. Her sister Abbie has a crisis of her own, Will’s ex-wife comes to live in the village and her best friend Ash struggles with unrequited love. The interplay between Cleo and Johnny is engaging and believable, and the village setting and its residents charming–this is a fun and entertaining romance!

Stay by Allie Larkin

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Savannah Leone is maid of honor at her best friend’s wedding, but not a happy member of the wedding party because her best friend is marrying the love of Savannah’s life. As she wallows in her sorrow, aided by a vodka-kool-aid mix, Savannah surfs the Internet and decides she needs companionship, ordering a German Shepherd puppy online. When he arrives, her “puppy” Joe turns out to be a one-year old police dog who understands commands in Slovakian–luckily for Savannah a list of commands comes with the dog. The story is filled with humor as Savannah adjusts to life with her new companion and without her old love. This is a charming novel about friendship and coming to terms with the past—about letting go, moving on and coping with life’s complications. Allie Larkin’s Stay is about relationships of all kinds and is a delightful debut novel.

Leaving Unknown by Kerry Reichs

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After losing yet another job, Maeve Connelly decides she needs a fresh start. Hoping to lose her reputation as irresponsible and flighty by starting over in a new place, she packs up her 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner and heads for California. Car trouble along the way leaves her stranded in Unknown, Arizona where she finds a boarding house that offers a free room in exchange for cleaning and a job in a book store to help pay for the car repair. The annoyance of being stranded quickly fades as she is befriended by quirky characters who help her to see herself differently, and eventually she’s not so sure that she wants to head on down the road.
In Leaving Unknown Kerry Reichs mixes humorous characters, romance, and small-town nostalgia with an inspiring story about facing the past.

Insatiable by Meg Cabot

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Meena Harper is really tired of her life. The soap opera she writes for is being taken over by a vampire plot line, she can’t get her unemployed brother to move out of her apartment, and it’s so difficult to meet men when she has the ability to see how people are going to die as soon as she meets them. Then one night late when she is out walking her tempermental dog, she is rescued from a freak bat attack by a beautiful man. For the first time ever, she can look him straight in the eye and not see how he will die. Of course, the reason for this is going to be unpleasant.

Meg Cabot is at her finest with Insatiable, managing to create a paranormal romance with her typical wit.

Blame It on Paris by Laura Florand

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Blame It on Paris by Laura Florand is a semiautobiographical novel that tells the story of Laura, a student in Paris who doesn’t like the city but stumbles upon a waiter that she can’t resist. I picked this up thinking it would be a fun little chick lit novel and in some ways it is. The romance is delightful and it is a very funny novel. But I found myself entranced by seeing the two cultures interact. It wasn’t always pretty, but they learned from each other and we get to learn vicariously along the way.

The Food of Love

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A new twist on the old Cyrano de Bergerac tale, The Food of Love by Anthony Capella is about Laura, an American in Rome, studying art. Tomasso, an Italian waiter with a penchant for blonde American girls, overhears Laura tell a friend that she is no longer interested in Italian men, unless she could find a chef. He convinces her to let him cook her a meal then quickly convinces his friend and chef Bruno to prepare the meal for him. Bruno is quiet, not as charming or good looking as Tomasso, but composes masterpieces of food. He’s shy around women but has been admiring a particularly beautiful blonde he’s seen at the food market. When he discovers that the girl Tomasso is asking him to cook for is the one he has been longing for, he pours all of his disappointment into creating exquisite meals for her. Laura falls in love with the food and supposedly with Tomasso, but wonders why he often doesn’t seem as passionate as his cooking would indicate. This delightfully funny and sensual romance will capture your heart and make you long for Italian food.

The Girl Who Chased the Moon

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In The Girl Who Chased the Moon Sarah Addison Allen presents another enchanting tale of magic and romance in a small southern town. Emily Benedict is still recovering from the death of her mother when she goes to live with the maternal grandfather she’s never met. From the moment she enters the house her mother was raised in Emily is surrounded by a sense of mystery and magic: from the quiet giant of a grandfather who constantly checks the dryer to the wallpaper that seems to change overnight. She quickly realizes that there is a reason her mother never visited or talked about her home town, but no one will tell her what it is.

She is befriended by her neighbor, Julia, who bakes cakes and struggles to put the past behind her. That would be easier if Sawyer, her first love and biggest regret would stop hanging around. Emily and Julia struggle together to deal with the past and let a bit of magic into their lives.

The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square by Rosina Lippi

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John Dodge makes his living by moving to a new place, saving a small business, then selling it and moving on. His family is concerned about his inability to settle down, but he can’t seem to stop the restlessness that begins after a few months in a new place. His latest move is to a small town in South Carolina that is full of characters. He is most intrigued by the pajama-wearing owner of Cocoon, a bedding and pajama shop, Julia Darrow. She is friendly but distant to everyone in town. Dodge can’t help but try to figure out the mystery, even if the process forces him to confront his restlessness. The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square is a funny, sexy, and heart-warming story that is best enjoyed while wearing your most comfy pajamas.

Comfort Reads

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I just recently spent six days glued to my couch, clinging desperately to my decongestants and tissue box. Although it was an unpleasant experience, it did give me a chance to catch up on my reading. Here’s my top three reads from my days on the couch:

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. Stephanie Plum is an unemployed New Jersey girl who is forced to work for her bail bondsman cousin, Vinnie. Originally, she applies for a job filing, but since that job has been filled, she becomes a bounty hunter. The mystery is good, but the true joy of this book is the tales of Stephanie’s ineptness at her new job.

The Department of Lost and Found by Allison Winn Scotch has a slightly more serious tone, but is still light enough for sick-time reading. Natalie Miller is an ambitious political assistant with bad luck in love. When she is sidelined by cancer, she’s given an opportunity to rexamine life and how she wants to live it. Although about a challenging subject, Scotch manages to present Natalie’s story with humor and hope.
Delicious by Sherry Thomas lives up to the title. A Victorian version of the Cinderella story, Delicious is the tale of Verity Durant, a woman whose culinary creations render entire dinner parties speechless with delight. She is content in the kitchen until her employer dies, leaving his house to his brother, a man from Verity’s past. Her passions, both culinary and otherwise, make for a great story of love, loss, and the power of good food.

The Moneypenny Diaries

>While James Bond was out battling the likes of Dr. No and Goldfinger, sipping shaken-not-stirred martinis and racing around in his specially equipped Aston Martin (or BMW, depending on which version of Bond you fancy), Miss Moneypenny was sitting quietly at her desk, typing up his reports and daydreaming about the womanizing secret agent, right? Wrong. Kate Westbrook’s The Moneypenny Diaries paints a very different picture of M’s loyal secretary. Haunted by the disappearance of her father on a mysterious covert mission during World War II, Jane Moneypenny joins MI6 in the hope that the connections she makes in Britain’s spy agency will lead her to the truth about his fate. Meanwhile, the secrecy surrounding her day-to-day work complicates her personal relationships, and the information she is privy to involves her in dangers far removed from her office at MI6 headquarters. And then there’s 007, the dashing but troubled agent with whom she shares a flirtatious friendship, and for whose welfare Jane spends many a worried, wakeful night.

Full of action, intrigue, and factual information about the operations of spy agencies in the Cold War era, The Moneypenny Diaries will leave you with a new appreciation for the woman too often lost in James Bond’s shadow.

There’s No Place Like Here

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If you’ve ever wondered where those missing socks have gone, There’s No Place Like Here by Cecelia Ahern is the book for you.

Sandy Shortt is obsessed with missing things. She has arranged her home so that things rarely disappear because it is so distressing to her when they do. Her career is searching for missing persons. This obsession has gotten in the way of her relationships and her happiness. She recognizes that this is a problem, but isn’t sure how to deal with it. Then one day she goes missing herself, which clarifies many of her questions, but isn’t much comfort unless she can get back to her old life. This is an imaginative story that will help you to feel much better about those missing socks.