A Little Something Different ~ BRC

It’s December and the last Book Review Club of the year, so pay attention! You could score some great gift ideas if you click through the typewriter link. Now, on to the review of A Little Something Differentby Sandy Hall…

Click icon for more
book review blogs@Barrie Summy

A Little Something Different

by Sandy Hall


A_Little_Something_Different_for_sitejpgI say this a lot, but this was not a normal read for me–really.  The cover intrigued me, particularly the part about fourteen different viewpoints. So I read the blurb and was even more intrigued. So I bought it. Even though it’s a YA, and I rarely read YA. I read it over a girls’ weekend, and I have to admit, it was perfect for that.  Although…it was occasionally difficult to keep track of who was who.  But I blame myself (and my surroundings).

From Amazon:  An irresistibly sweet romance between two college students told from 14 different viewpoints.

The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common—they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together.

Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush, it looks like they are never going to work things out.

But somehow even when nothing is going on, something is happening between them, and everyone can see it.

As expected, this book was really cute and really sweet.  Basically it’s about the two shyest, most self-conscious, most uncertain people EVER, and how everyone else witnessing their little non-courtship feels about them getting together.  Fourteen is a lot of perspectives on the same two people–these people, animal and inanimate object were obsessed with Lea and Gabe!  While the park bench perspective wasn’t my favorite, I admit to looking forward to those squirrel encounters.

I notice the girl eating peanuts.  I love nuts.
Nuts, nuts, nuts.
I hop across the grass, trying to be as cute as possible, hoping that maybe if I’m lucky she’ll drop one. And her loss will be my gain.
She sees me and smiles.
I’m in!  Hooray! …”

It’s a pretty together, happy-go-lucky squirrel.

And then there’s the college professor, her wife, Lea’s best friend, Gabe’s brother, his friend, the barista, the bus driver, the Chinese delivery guy, etc.  And everyone (mostly) has a distinct voice, although a couple of the things the college dudes say seem slightly out-of-character, but maybe I’m stereotyping.

Beyond the gimmick of different points of view–don’t get me wrong, I loved it!–Gabe’s story was nicely fleshed out (no spoilers!), but Lea’s, not so much.  I would have liked to get a better sense of her as a person beyond just being reserved and uncertain.  But, it was a nice, quick, romantic, fun read.  (It’s pretty G rated too, although there are fake IDs and college drinking, but beyond that, it’s pretty tame.)

Pick it up, if only for the novelty!

I’ll definitely be curious to see what Sandy Hall comes up with next!

So ends the last BRC review of 2014.  Happy Holidays, everyone!!  See you in 2015!

Posted in book review club, Uncategorized on 12/03/2014 04:17 am | 4 Comments

October’s Book Review Club

It seems almost no time has passed since I posted my last Book Review Club selection, but evidently September flew by, and now October–the month of pumpkins and mums and bats and candy–is upon us!  That means, it’s time to chat about another book.  True to my habit of selecting a book based on my love of its cover, I’ve chosen

Jana Bibi’s Excellent Fortunes

by Betsy Woodman


13166025Barrie Summy’s Book Review Club has been going on for years now, and if you’ve been reading my reviews for any of that time at all, you know that I tend to rave about the books I feature.  Well, I’m not exactly going to rave about this one.  Don’t get me wrong–I enjoyed this book very much.  This book carried me through a flight with my teenage son to Colorado, a few (lovely!) solitary afternoons reading, and a flight home with my pre-teen son, both boys extraordinarily chatty.  It absolutely kept my interest, but I wasn’t obsessively, compulsively reading, which is normally the case with the books I recommend here.  This was more a getting-to-know-you read, like the first in a cozy mystery series, set in a tiny English village, where you’re not quite sure about the detective, but you’re willing to give him/her a shot.  The difference being that this book was the first in a series set in Hamara Nagar, India, in the fifties.  And Jana Bibi is not a detective.

I’ll let you read the blurb from Amazon and then explain a bit more what I mean…

Janet Laird’s life changed the day she inherited her grandfather’s house in a faraway Indian hill station. Ignoring her son’s arguments to come grow old in their family castle in Scotland, she moves with her chatty parrot, Mr. Ganguly and her loyal housekeeper, Mary, to Hamara Nagar, where local merchants are philosophers, the chief of police is a tyrant, and a bagpipe-playing Gurkha keeps the wild monkeys at bay. Settling in, Jana Bibi (as she comes to be known) meets her colorful local neighbors—Feroze Ali Khan of Royal Tailors, who struggles with his business and family, V.K. Ramachandran, whose Treasure Emporium is bursting at the seams with objects of unknown provenance, and Rambir, editor of the local newspaper, who burns the midnight oil at his printing press. When word gets out that the town is in danger of being drowned by a government dam, Jana is enlisted to help put it on the map. Hoping to attract tourists with promises of good things to come, she stacks her deck of cards, readies her fine-feathered assistant—and Jana Bibi’s Excellent Fortunes is born.

Jana Bibi’s Excellent Fortunes is all about character development: Meeting and understanding Jalovepotionnumber10net Laird, her overprotective son Jack, her mischievous parrot Mr. Ganguly, her companion/cook/helper Mary, and all the people she meets when she decides to move from a nawab’s palace, where she’s giving violin lessons, to a Himalayan hill station house she’s inherited from her grandfath
er.  It’s a book about adapting and making your way, fitting in and, eventually, thriving.  It’s about all life’s challenges–some great and some small–and all the joy and sorrow that is invariably encountered along the way.

Janet Laird is a feisty fifty-eight year old woman who thinks nothing of starting over, staying in India when her only family is in Scotland, bravely facing whatever life might throw at her.  This book, in my mind, was her finding her feet in Hamara Nagar with the help of some wonderfully quirky and lovable new friends.  I’m looking forward to reading the next in the series.  I suspect Jana Bibi will have come into her own.

For more book reviews and recommendations, click through on the typewriter!

Click icon for more
book review blogs
@Barrie Summy


Posted in book review club, Uncategorized on 10/01/2014 12:10 am | 6 Comments

Meet My Character!

Okay, so, I was again invited by the super quirky Stacey Graham to participate in another meme!  This one’s theme?  Meet My Character!  (Who hears game music?  Is it just me?)

Anyway, I’m not totally ready to share the characters from my WIP, so I thought I’d go back to my most recent pubbed book: AUSTENSIBLY ORDINARY.  I miss those guys!











So, here we go with… MEET THE CHARACTER!


1.) What is the name of your character?

Cate Kendall, but at one point in the story, she’s going by Cat Kennedy.  She has her reasons.


2.) Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

Totally fictional.  She is loosely based on Jane Austen’s Emma Woodhouse, who is also a fictional character.


3.) When and where is the story set?

The story is set in modern day Austin, Texas, with a short side trip into the Texas Hill Country.


4.) What should we know about him/her?

Cate is a high school English teacher who lives in an apartment above her divorced mother’s garage.  She plays Scrabble every Sunday night with fellow high school teacher, Ethan Chavez, who manages to find something wrong with every guy she’s dating.  She yearns for excitement and romance…and a big boost out of the rut she thinks she’s stuck in.

Her wish is about to come true, courtesy of fairy godmother Jane Austen.


5.) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

Cate discovers a magical journal that channels the matchmaking spirit of Jane Austen.  Basically it writes back to her, offering up life and love advice.  Yeah, it’s a lot.  And she struggles.

Initially, she doesn’t have a clue about the Jane Austen or matchmaking components.  In fact, she ridiculously assumes that the messages in the journal are involving her in some sort of cloak and dagger situation.  But eventually, it all works out.


6.) What is the personal goal of the character?

Her overarching goal is to find her own Mr. Darcy.  (Mixing allusions: Emma/Darcy, I know, but it all works out in the end.  Trust me.)

Smaller goals include trying to ferret out the secrets coworker/Scrabble God Ethan Chavez is keeping, injecting a little excitement into her life, and sleuthing out the mysteries of the magical journal.


7.) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

There’s actually a done-deal title, and it’s AUSTENSIBLY ORDINARY.  (FYI…that is not the correct spelling of the word ‘ostensibly’.)


8.) When can we expect the book to be published or when was it published?

AUSTENSIBLY ORDINARY was published at the end of January 2013, so a little bit ago.  It’s still available though…

And  it’s chock full of  Jane Austen and Hitchcock allusions, ghost-hunting, spy talk, scheming, plotting, mystery and adventure!   And (of course!) a healthy dash of romance.  So what are you waiting for??

Here’s a short excerpt to pique your interest…

Sitting here under the brightly decorated Japanese lanterns I’d convinced my mom we should string up under the oaks, the possibilities seemed endless, the world glowing—I just needed to hold on to this feeling and find a way to have a little adventure.  It couldn’t be anything too risqué—one amateur videographer with a camera phone was all it took for things to get very hairy indeed.  A good friend of mine had learned that the hard way.  I needed a buffer, a way to keep my real, respectable everyday life separate from a little after-hours adventure.

An alter ego would be perfect…sort of a secret identity.  I could be the kind of girl who would wear red lipstick and a secret smile and agree to a “friends with benefits” arrangement without batting an eye.  Or maybe batting them madly…

“Want me to order the pizza?”

My gaze whipped back to Ethan, his face fringed in shadow as he searched his phone for the number of the pizza place.  I blinked rapidly, trying to get my thought processes back on track, hoping the darkened twilight hid the flush in my cheeks and the nervous whites of my eyes.

“Knock yourself out,” I finally agreed.

As we waited for the pizza and I considered, and discarded, a number of ‘alternative’ options, opportunity e-mailed an invitation.

Derring-Do and Savoir Faire…

presented by Pop-up Culture

Join us for an evening inspired by the films of Alfred Hitchcock.

Suspense, my dears, is key, and so the evening’s menu must remain a mystery…

The cast of characters: charismatic men, intriguing women,

And glamorous, grown-up drinks.

When?  Sunday, All Hallow’s Eve, 9:00 p.m.–midnight

Where? Location to be revealed on confirmed reservation

Entrée?  $40, suggested donation

RSVP to this e-mail address by Tuesday, October 26

Chills edged up my arms as I scrolled through each consecutive line.  This was it!  A perfect departure from my bookish, Darcy-obsessed self.

Pop-up Culture was the current business venture of my good friend/bad influence Syd Carmelo and fellow food junkies Olivia Westin and Willow Burke.  It was a sort of culinary underground, hosting über-cool, invitation-only “pop-up” events all over the city.  Austin was cooler than ever.  I’d been on the mailing list from Day One, but had yet to make it to an event—I had either a parent conference, a family commitment…or a long-standing Scrabble match.  I ended up getting the details with the rest of the city in the paper’s Lifestyle section.  Halloween was only a week away.  And this time, I was going. 

Not as myself, though.  I was in the mood for a little “mysterious.” 

Maybe I’d be a Hitchcock blonde…with a long, slow smile and a whiff of suggestion.  The blond aspect, I had covered.  The rest might require a little practice.  I hurried to RSVP before I could lose my nerve.  Next Sunday…  I glanced at Ethan, who was randomly arranging tiles on the Scrabble board.  Sundays were currently reserved for my “friend sans benefits.”  I could either ask him to go with me or I could strike out on my own.  Chances were we’d be done with Scrabble in plenty of time for me to transform myself into a blond bombshell.


And now, passing the torch, I’m tagging Beth Cato, who has a new book out!!  And Barrie Summy who will shortly have a new book out!  Whoo-hoo!  Both look awesome, so definitely check them out!  Beth and Barrie will be posting their Meet the Character chats on September 29th.  Here’s a little bit about them…

Beth Cato’s the author of THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER, a steampunk fantasy novel from Harper Voyager. Her short fiction is in InterGalactic Medicine Show, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Daily Science Fiction. She’s a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cat.

Barrie Summy is the author of the I So Don’t Do mystery series starring thirteen-year-old detective Sherry Holmes Baldwin. She’ll be blogging about Raine, the protagonist in her next middle-grade mystery, The Disappearance of Emily H.(May 12, 2015, Delacorte Press). Barrie lives in Southern California with her husband, their four children, two dogs, a veiled chameleon, and a fish. There was once a dwarf hamster, but let’s not go there. You can visit her online at barriesummy.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


Posted in Uncategorized on 09/22/2014 12:10 am | Comments Off