Saturday, November 12, 2011

Book Review - The Fixer Upper by Mary Kay Andrews

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s the story of Dempsey Killebrew, a young woman caught up unwittingly in a political scandal. At the heart of the scandal is her boss, a man she all but idolizes and yes, has a crush on. Because she’s the fall guy, even though she doesn’t realize it, and needs to leave her home in DC for a bit, she first heads to her father’s home in Miami, then on to Guthrie, GA to fix up the house her father has just inherited from his uncle.

What she finds in Georgia is a squatter in the house, Ella Kate, who took care of the uncle and just never left, a house in need of major repair, and people who actually support her. It turns out that people to support her is what she needs. While she had friends in DC, her parents, in my opinion, are all but worthless. Her father is busy being a good dad to his second family while at the same time still tromping all over Dempsey and not being a father to her. He might be trying to make up for his shortcomings with Dempsey while raising her by being the textbook dad to his twin four year old boys, but he could be that dad to her now. Her mother, a hippy, isn’t much better and at one point goes all the way to Georgia because she’s sure Dempsey can’t handle this on her own.

In the end Dempsey does handle it on her own - the mess with the political scandal and the house and in the process finds a boyfriend and a town full of people that have faith in her.

Dempsey is naive, but she’s also young. She didn’t want to believe her boss was hanging her out to dry and that hurt her in the beginning. Having said that, the FBI agents just drove me bonkers in the beginning. I’ve never had to deal with the FBI in that capacity and I’d hope they don’t harass people that way, but maybe they do. In the end, they redeemed themselves somewhat. I wasn’t a big fan of Ella Kate’s, but, I think in the end she had her place. I really liked the Berryhill’s, both father and son. Loved the characters of Bobby Livesey and Jimmy Maynard. Basically, I liked all of Guthrie’s residents.

In a way it was sad to see Dempsey realize that her boss, a man she looked up to, was a bad guy. You’d think she’d know better, but she’s young and he played on her crush on him and then set her up. In the end though she got riled and turned the tables on him.

My only complaint is it seemed to end abruptly. You sorta know she’s in the clear, you sorta know who she’s with and that she’ll get married, you sorta know she’ll keep Birdsong and stay in Guthrie. But, it’s all sorta and not really wrapped up. Now, life is rarely wrapped up, but it just seemed to end. Maybe we’ll see more of Dempsey and the town of Guthrie, GA. I hope so.

This is one of my favorites by Mary Kay Andrews and I look forward to reading other books by her.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


I recently crossed the three year mark living in my apartment. This is a record of sorts for me. I've moved a lot and aside from my three and half year stint living in California's central coast, the longest I'd lived anywhere was Texas. But, in California, I lived in two different apartments, so there was a move while there. I lived in my first (and beloved) house in Texas for about six and half years. That's still my record. However, life changes and takes us to new and different places. So, three years in one apartment is kind of a record for me. While, I'm beginning to lust after having my own washer and dryer (even though the shared laundry is literally right next to my apartment) and am wishing for a slightly bigger, better laid out, more storage kitchen, I'm still very happy with where I live.

I'm also very happy with some of the perks. Heat (gas) is included. Huge plus in the winter. Water was included, but that will change when my lease is up and then I'll have a water charge. The city I live in has raised water/sewer rates - a lot - and the management is passing this cost on. I understand. I'm not happy with how, though, as they've decided to determine the surcharge by the number of bedrooms rather than by number of tenants. As one person in a two bedroom apartment, this bugs me. I have written a letter to provide feedback, but I expect it to have little or no impact. So, rent will definitely go up, but such is life, I guess.

There are some other perks. I live in a mid-rise building which has a smallish lobby with a table and two chairs. When someone moves and needs to find a home for stuff, they just leave it in the lobby. I've seen microwaves, patio chairs (nice ones), a chair and ottoman, and not too long ago a sofa. While I think this is cool, what really makes my day is the books. A resident reads a lot, so various books, hardback and paperback, show up on the table. I've recently picked up about five books to read. These, coupled with the ones I got when Border's was going out of business (so sad that), will keep me busy while I'm laid up next week. And, hopefully, help me meet my Goodreads reading goal for the year. And, yes, when I'm done with the books I pass them on, either the same way or to my Mom.

Book Review - Footsteps in the Dark by Georgette Heyer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the first book I’ve read by Georgette Heyer. Three siblings, Peter, Celia and Margaret, inherit a former Priory and head there for a little vacation, along with Celia’s husband, Charles. Joining them is their Aunt, Mrs. Bosanquet. The Priory appeals to all of them, even though it lacks certain amenities, such as electricity. However, since they all like it, they settle in for a vacation. As they go out and about and meet various people from the village they begin to hear stories about the Monk - the ghost that supposedly haunts the Priory. At the same time, strange noises can be heard at the Priory and a skeleton is discovered. Yet, they decide to hang in there and figure out what’s it all about as they don’t really believe it’s a ghost.

It took a bit to get into the story as the writing style is “older” for lack of a better term. For example, the aunt was referred to as either Mrs. Bosanquet or Aunt Lillian - it wasn’t consistent. It also took me a bit of time to nail down the time period. That aside, I enjoyed the setting, both the Priory (secret passages and rooms to be discovered) and the village. I enjoyed the friendship between the siblings and between the brother and his brother-in-law. They all seemed to approach the problem at hand with rationality and practicality, not counting Mrs Bosanquet’s turn with a Ouija board, which was totally in line with her character.

The mystery was a bit light, but original. There was a side romance that went from 0 to 60 in one second, which I felt was a bit rushed, but it didn’t detract from the story.

Overall, while it wasn’t a spectacular story, I enjoyed the book and will read others by her.