Friday, May 29, 2020

Friday 5ive- May 28, 2020

Welcome to the Friday 5ive, a weekly blog post about five things that caught my attention this week. Monday was Memorial Day, and although we couldn't have big family celebrations, I hope you were able to grill out some hamburgers and hot dogs and maybe catch a viewing of Saving Private Ryan on TV.


1)  While out walking my son and his girlfriend's dog Otto, I found this small monument in Pelham Manor, a tribute to the men who fought in the Battle of Pelham in the Revolutionary War.



2) Last week we celebrated a belated Mother's Day, and this past weekend we celebrated a belated St. Patrick's Day. I always made a big St. Patrick's Day dinner when the boys were growing up, and my oldest son says it is his favorite meal of the year. I made the traditional corned beef and cabbage with carrots, Irish champ mashed potatoes, pistachio bread, and Irish bread pudding. It turned out really well, and we all enjoyed it.
Corned beef, cabbage and carrots


3)  With no Broadway (and who knows when it will come back), I have been watching performances online. Last week, Sally Field and Bryan Cranston performed A.R. Gurney's Love Letters as a fundraiser for The Actors Fund. The show is about an artist, Melissa (played by Sally Field), and a politician, Andrew (played by Bryan Cranston), and the letters they exchanged over 50 years. It was so moving, Sally Field was just phenomenal, and Bryan Cranston is great in everything he does. It makes me wish I could have seen Sally Field on Broadway when she was in The Glass Menagerie. 



4)  Speaking of fundraisers, John Oliver, host of HBO's Last Week Tonight started a fundraiser for the United States Post Office. The USPS has been having financial problems for awhile, and the pandemic has made it even worse. People depend on the USPS for many things, including absentee ballots and medications, and if you are a fan of Oliver's show or you get mail, you can buy the stamps here. I've met Mr. Nutterbutter a few times, so he is my favorite stamp. If you have a birthday coming up, look for Mr. Nutterbutter in the top right corner on a card from me.


5)   I read two books last week. Kimberly McCreight's psychological thriller A Good Marriage begins with Amanda being brutally murdered in her home.  Her husband Zach is arrested for her murder and he reaches out to Lizzie, a woman he briefly dated years ago to represent him. Lizzie is not a criminal defense lawyer, but Zach convinces her to help him. Lizzie has her own marital problems, with an alcoholic husband she doesn't trust. Amanda was murdered following an annual neighborhood party where men and women pair up with people not their spouses for sexual encounters. Did this have anything to do with her death? It's a twisty story, going back and forth between the days leading up to Amanda's death, the grand jury investigation, and Lizzie's own investigation. No one is exactly who you think they are, and there are plenty of secrets, suspects and red herrings here. I did find one plot twist a little too much to take, but fans of the Lifetime Channel movies will want to read this one. 


Now is a great time to read Mary Kay Andrews' Hello, Summer. When the news agency where Conley has just landed a job goes out of business, she heads home to the small Florida Panhandle town of Silver Bay where her sister Grayson is the publisher/managing editor of the local newpaper that has been in their family for years. Times are tough for print newspapers, and Grayson may have to sell the family business. When Conley witnesses a car accident where the local Congressman is killed, she digs deep into what really happened, and ends up "digging up dirt" and angering many in the tight-knit community. There's romance, small town life, and if, like me, you grew up wanting to be Brenda Starr, Hello, Summer is a perfect novel to read at the beach or on your front porch. 


I hope you all stay safe and healthy.




Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Sister Dear by Hannah Mary McKinnon

Sister Dear by Hannah Mary McKinnon
Published by MIRA ISBN 9780778309550
Trade paperback, $16.99, 368 pages

I've never read a Hannah Mary McKinnon book so I wasn't sure what to expect. Her latest, Sister Dear, is a psychological suspense novel that has a crackerjack ending that shocked me. (And I'm not easily shocked.)

As the story opens, Eleanor is visiting her beloved father at his hospice. When she arrives, she hears her estranged mother, trying to get her ex-husband to leave all his money in his will to their younger daughter Amy because, after all, Eleanor is not his real daughter.

After Eleanor confronts her parents, she runs out of the hospice and ends up getting attacked by a mugger outside her apartment building. Her handsome upstairs neighbor Lewis rescues her, but she is seriously injured enough to end up in the hospital.

While there, her father passes away and Eleanor is bereft. Her mother and sister are allied against her as they have always been, and Eleanor feels like she has no one.

She finds out that her biological father is a highpowered real estate developer, a man her mother worked for years ago. Eleanor confronts him, and he tells her that he never wanted to have anything to do with her and still doesn't. He threatens her if she comes near his family.

But Eleanor's curiosity gets the better of her. She follows Victoria, her father's only child, to a restaurant, and listens in on her conversation with Victoria's mother and cousin.

Victoria is everything Eleanor is not- beautiful, thin, wealthy. She turns heads wherever she goes. Eleanor applies to assist Victoria set up a website for her new company, and the two women become friends, although Victoria has no idea who Eleanor really is. Victoria loves having a new friend, someone she can trust.

As Eleanor insinutates herself into Victoria's life, I wondered where this story would go. Eleanor not only works for Victoria, but also for Victoria's husband. Eleanor's life is getting better- a good job, a boyfriend, she has lost weight, and changed her hairstyle to look more like Victoria. Lewis warns her that the longer this goes on without Victoria knowing who she really is, the harder the fall will be.

Sister Dear kept me interested, but the ending of the story knocked me out of my seat. I literally gasped and nearly screamed out loud. McKinnon takes us on this journey with Eleanor, and where we end up is somewhere we couldn't have guessed. She sprinkles the story with breadcrumbs that lead us to some things we can guess, but the ultimate reveal is a corker.

If you like to be surprised by the ending of a novel, pick up Sister Dear immediately.

Thanks to MIRA for putting me on Hannah Mary McKinnon's tour.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Friday 5ive- May 22, 2020

Welcome to the Friday 5ive, a blog post about five things that caught my attention this week. There seems to be more and more people out and about in NYC as this shelter-in-place continues on. Grocery and drug stores have honed their customer policies and in general people seem to respect the rules. (The exception was last weekend when young people were congregating outside bars at night on the Upper East Side- that was a problem.)

1) We got to spend time with our kids, and one night we played a game called The Contender that my daughter-in-law bought for us all to play. It's a card game similiar to Cards Against Humanity, but geared towards presidential politics. Cards have quotes from presidential candidates, and you have to come up with the best answer from your five cards. What I found interesting was that there were many names of candidates that I was unfamiliar with, and our family follows politics closely. It's a great game for fans of history and politics, entertaining and informative. We had so much fun! (There were a lot of LBJ and Nixon quotes as those two are very quotable.)



2)  While upstate with our kids, we celebrated a belated Mother's Day with a barbeque. The day started with my son's girlfriend making me Avocado Toast and it was so delicious! I can't pick out a ripe avocado to save my life, but she has the knack for choosing the best ones. 
Avocado Toast
For dessert, the kids picked out a wonderful vanilla cake with blueberries and strawberries and whipped cream frosting. They found it at DeCicco & Sons  grocery store. They also picked up some rainbow cookies that were tasty too. My crafty daughter-in-law made me a beautiful card with her Cricut. It's so pretty!




3)  On Wednesday night I watched the concert performance of Bombshell by the cast of the NBC's gone-too-soon show Smash. The show, about the mounting of the Broadway show Bombshell based on the life of Marilyn Monroe, ran for two seasons in 2012. In 2015, a concert performance of Bombshell, with the original cast was held in NYC and that was streamed last night as a benefit for The Actors' Fund. The performers, including Katherine McPhee, Megan Hilty, Christian Borle, Brian d'Arcy James, and Leslie Odom Jr. are amazing. Watch it here for a limited time.



4) The Book Expo that was scheduled for this week was cancelled this year due to COVID-19. One of the opening events is the Editors' Book Buzz, where a selection of editors share one of the books they are most excited about publishing. Cameron Esposito hosted a Zoom event on Wednesday with six editors and it worked wonderfully. Usually we are in a packed room with hundreds of people and it is difficult to hear, but on Zoom, we could see each editor clearly and up close as we listened to them talk about books. I loved the format! I will post about the event next week, and every book there has been added to my TBR list.


5) I'm a big fan of J. Courtney Sullivan's books, and her upcoming novel, Friends and Strangers, is another home run for her. It's about a woman (who with her husband and new baby moves from Brooklyn to a college town community upstate) and the young college student she hires to care for her son while she writes her next book. There is so much in this book- class, economic equality, marriage and family issues- it's fantastic. Fans of Kiley Reid's Such A Fun Age will enjoy it, I liked it even more than Reid's book. A full review will post soon. 

I just started Hannah Mary McKinnon's Sister Dear about a young woman who finds discovers a family secret that sets off a dangerous chain of events. My full review will post on Tuesday. 


I hope you all have a safe, healthy and happy Memorial Day weekend. 


Thursday, May 21, 2020

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld
Published by Random House ISBN 9780399590917
Hardcover, $28, 415 pages


Some of the most interesting books are written by people who ask the question "What if?" Phillip Roth's The Plot Against America asks "what if Charles Lindbergh becomes President and turns America towards fascism?". (It's been turned into an HBO miniseries.)

In her new book Rodham, author Curtis Sittenfeld asks the question, "what if Hillary Rodham never married Bill Clinton?" It's a daring book, one that takes factual events and blends them with fiction. Sittenfeld previously wrote American Wife, a novel based on the life of Laura Bush, where her main character was not Laura Bush, but a character with a different name. Hillary Clinton is so famous, or infamous depending on which media you follow, that a fictionalized version of her is possible.

In Rodham, we recognize the third grader who is asked to be in charge of the class when the teacher leaves the room because many of us were that girl too. We recognize the ten year-old girl who, when she opined about the Cubs versus the White Sox's chances, was told that "you're awfully opinionated for a girl". That statement stayed with her for the rest of her life.

This Hillary is diligent, a hardworker, a good student, and ambitious. Like her real-life counterpart, she graduated from Wellsley and gave a commencement speech that challenged convention and angered her "sarcastic, exacting and often mean" father.

This Hillary met Bill Clinton at Yale Law School, where she fell in love with him, much to the consternation of her best friend. Bill Clinton dated a lot of women and planned on going back to his home in Arkansas to run for Attorney General. Hillary's friends did not want her to leave behind all of the opportunities she had ahead of her for a shining career.

In real life, Hillary did follow Bill to Arkansas. In Rodham, Hillary does not marry Bill after catching him cheating on her. (Note to readers- this fictionalized Bill Clinton is not a nice guy.) The breakup crushes Hillary, but she eventually moves on, and has a stellar career of her own.

Rodham is divided into three sections- The Catch, The Woman, The Front-Runner. I found the last two sections, particularly The Front-Runner, most fascinating. Watching this Hillary fulfill her dreams and ambitions, and eventually run for political office is intriguing. How Sittenfeld ties it all up is just genius and so satisfying.

Sittenfeld has written a thought-provoking feminist novel that will talked about for a long time. It's a great book club pick, there is so much here to discuss over wine and appetizers. (I will warn you that there are some explicit sex scenes in here that may not be for everyone.) I highly recommend Rodham, but realize that this is fiction, not reality. This will be one of the books of summer 2020.




Friday, May 15, 2020

Friday 5ive- May 15, 2020

Welcome to the Friday 5ive, a blog post about five things that caught my attention this week. The weather is finally getting warmer and more people are out and about. Please wear your face masks and stay six feet apart.

1) Speaking of social distancing, I saw this sign posted at The Corner Deli, a Mexican restaurant in the neighborhood. "Space Is Your Amigo"


2)  I continued my study of people's bookshelves on TV news, and a lot of my bookish friends are giving high praise to Dr. Anthony Fauci's background. We particularly enjoyed the books stacked neatly on the floor behind him as many of us have the same thing going on in our homes.


3) If anyone is looking for a lovely gift to send to a sick family member or friend, I can highly recommend this gift package from A Spoonful Of Comfort. We received one yesterday as a thank you, and it came with a huge jar of the most delicious chicken soup I have ever had, rolls, and chocolate chip cookies. It even came with a beautiful ladle! 




4)  Sunday was Mother's Day, and we had a lovely takeout dinner from Sergio's Ristorante in Pelham. We called to place an order, they gave us a time slot to come pick it up. While we waited outside in our car for them to bring our dinner, they gave us a Cosmopolitan. Our food was delicious, we had veal, chicken, and shared a risotto and clams casino. I highly recommend them if you are in the area. 
Cheers!


5) I just finished Colm McCann's Apeirogon yesterday, and it is an astonishing novel about two real men, one an Israeli and one a Palestinian, who each lost a daughter to violence in the West Bank. It took me awhile to finish it (it's nearly 500 pages long), and it will be on my Most Compelling Books of 2020 for sure. It is thought-provoking and heartbreaking. My full review will post soon.

On the lighter side, I read Aimee Agresti's The Summer Set, about a summer theater in the Berkshires. Since we can't go to the theater, this is the next best thing. The characters are interesting, and if you like Shakespeare, you'll find some of the same things from his comedies- misunderstandings, love triangles, humor, young love, and frenemies. My full review is here.

I hope you all stay safe, healthy, and home. 


Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Two New Novels For Spring

Reprinted from the Citizen:

Today is Mother’s Day, and it is surely a very different Mother’s Day than the ones we have traditionally celebrated. Most of us won’t be able to see our moms in person, so whether it’s by Skype, FaceTime, What’sApp, Zoom or the old school telephone call, I hope you take the time to connect with your mom. And if you know someone whose mom is no longer with them, maybe take the time to contact them just to tell them you’re there for them.

My mom gave me my love of reading, and I like nothing more than finding a book I know she will love and sending it to her. Talking about books is great way to connect, and it’s something else to talk about besides the weather and how cooped up we all feel these days.

Spring is a big time for publishers, with many new titles hitting the shelves, and authors going around the country to visit bookstores and readers to talk about their books. Now that they can’t do that, they turn to the internet to connect with readers. 

One of my favorite places is A Mighty Blaze, a Facebook page created by two authors, Caroline Leavitt and Jenna Blum. Every week, authors who have new books out talk about their work on A Mighty Blaze’s Facebook page. If you find yourself looking for a new read, head over to the Facebook page to hear from the authors themselves.

Lian Dolan’s new novel, The Sweeney Sisters is for those of you who have sisters or want sisters. Three sisters come together to deal with the death of their father, a larger-than-life and beloved author. 


Liza is the oldest daughter, the one who still lived in their hometown. She owns an art gallery, is married to a successful man, and mom to two teens. If you need something done, go to Liza. She is organized, and at her home on Thanksgiving, every course is timed to perfection and the tablecloths are pressed.

Maggie is daughter number two, a free spirit artist who likes to stir up trouble. If someone is going to blurt out something at the wrong time, it’s Maggie. Tricia is the youngest, a hard-charging lawyer and marathon runner. 

Things take a turn when a former neighbor shows up claiming to be their half-sister, the oldest daughter of their father. You will laugh out loud at parts, and there is a just enough romance to keep it interesting.

Jason B. Rosenthal’s memoir My Wife Said You Wanted To Marry Me tells the true story of his life and love with his wife, author and artist Amy Krouse Rosenthal. The world first knew about them when Amy’s “Modern Love” essay in the New York Times titled “You May Want To Marry My Husband” appeared in 2017.

Amy’s essay dealt with the fact that she was dying and wanted to tell the world about her wonderful husband, detailing all of his good qualities and describing their life together. Five million people read Amy’s essay as it went viral.

Now Jason gets to tell their love story in his memoir. Amy said that when they went on their first date she knew they would get married, but it took Jason a year to know that. He speaks lovingly about Amy and her wonderful family.

Amy was a list maker and when they married, she created a list of Marriage Goals and Ideas, with things like “Get dressed up and go on dates” and “Never stop learning- take classes, read, cook and travel”. For the most part, they kept to the list throughout their life
She was also creative, and became a famous children’s book author. Amy and Jason were a great couple, and they raised three terrific children, Justin, Miles and Paris. 

They were excited to see their children grow into wonderful adults and when the youngest was heading off to college, Amy made a list of things they would do as empty nesters. Life was good.

And then Amy got sick. Jason describes the awful parts of the end of his wife’s life, and it is hard to read. But the thing that shines through is the love they had for each other and how lucky they were to have had it. It’s a love letter to his wife, much like Calvin Trillin’s brilliant book, About Alice.

The Sweeney Sisters by Lian Dolan- A
Published by William Morrow 
Hardcover, $27.99, 304 pages

My Wife Said You May Want To Marry Me by Jason B. Rosenthal- A
Published by Harper Books
Hardcover, $26.99, 256 pages

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

The Summer Set by Aimee Agresti

The Summer Set by Aimee Agresti
Published by Graydon House ISBN 9781525823589
Trade paperback, $17.99, 384 pages

With the world just shut down, there is no live theater to enjoy, and summer theater camps may not open. If you are someone who is missing that, Aimee Agresti's new novel, The Summer Set, just might fill that void.

Charlotte "Charlie" Savoy is a former stage and movie actress who left acting behind. She owns an art movie house in Boston, and leads a low profile life, until the day she accidentally drives her car in to Boston Harbor, while under the influence of sleeping pills.

At her court hearing, she is sentenced to 60 days of community service at Chamberlain Summer Theater, which wouldn't be bad, but it happens to be the theater run by her former lover and director, Nick Blunt. Nick and Charlie had a successful collaboration and relationship until they made a disasterous movie that tanked critically and at the box office.

Charlie has a fiery personality, and she was known as a "wild child" back in the day.  She comes into the Chamberlain ready to shake things up as they stage Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer's Night Dream and The Tempest. Nick needs Charlie's name to help him save the theater. He is desperate to find investors, and if he can't, the theater will close for good.

Nick also still loves Charlie and he has high hopes to win her back. Charlie wants nothing to do with Nick, but being back at the theater reignites her love of acting and more. She takes a young intern under her wing, and reconnects with people she enjoyed working with back in the day.

The Summer Set will bring back fond memories for anyone who worked at summer theater. The highlight of this breezy, charming novel is the staging of the shows. You can feel the excitement and tension in the air as they ready for "places" on opening night.

The characters could be from Shakespeare's comedies- there are love triangles, misunderstandings, young love, and frenemies. I enjoyed the Filmography and IMDB entry for Charlie, it put a nice button on the end of this enjoyable story.

Thanks to Harlequin for putting me on Aimee Agresti's tour.



Saturday, May 9, 2020

Cooking in a COVID World

Now that we've been sheltering-in-place for over eight weeks, there's some common themes- we've all been reading, binge-watching tv and eating.

I don't know about you, but I have made a homecooked meal almost every night since mid-March. (March 14th to be exact- we ate at Ocean Prime on Friday, March 13th for our Lenten fish.) I've made some really great meals, and there have been a few clunkers.

One of my favorites was a Panera Copycat Chicken and Wild Rice Soup, a recipe I found on Pinterest. It was very good, and a terrific way to use up rotisserie chicken. I love a good soup, and since it is barely hitting 39 degrees on May 9th in NYC, I may make it again tonight.
Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

My husband enjoyed Clinton Kelly's Chicken Thigh Osso Bucco, which has a rich flavor profile and is easy to make. It was such a big hit, we've had it twice already.

The latest new recipe I made is one I saw on Rachael Ray this week- Greek Sheet Pan Chicken Dinner. It was a good way to use up salt potatoes that I got from a Wegmans' InstaCart order, and it was so easy to make. I added Tzatziki with Pita and Zucchini Croquettes from Greek Eats restaurant (their takeout procedure was so easy- order and pay online, go to the restaurant and a bag was sitting on a table with my name on it, pick it up and go) and we had Greek night. No ouzo, though, wine instead.
Greek Sheet Pan Chicken Dinner

Shake Shack is one of my special treats, and Goldbelly had a special on their website- $49 for eight burgers. They send you the burger patties, rolls, American cheese slices and Shack Sauce. I followed the directions to a T, and I have to say, it was even better than getting them at the restaurant! The meat mixture from Pat LaFrieda makes all the difference. We loved it so much, we may have to order it again.


Wilbur and Cindy Lou
We really miss barbequeing, and one of our friends dropped off sausage that she grilled at home. She bought some bread from an Italian bakery and we had the most delicious sausage sandwiches. It was very kind of her and she even brought her basset hounds Cindy Lou and Wilbur to do the dropoff.
Grilled Sausage




This post is part of Beth Fish Reads' Weekend Cooking.  If you have anything related to food, cookbook reviews, novel or non-fiction book reviews, recipes, movie reviews, etc., head over to Beth Fish Reads and add your post. Or, if you want to read food related posts, head over to read what some interesting people have to say about food.
This is Beth Fish Reads' last post as host of Weekend Cooking. I have enjoyed reading all of her posts and everyone else's who has linked up to her post. Marg from The Adventures of An Intrepid Reader will take over Weekend Cooking hosting duties next week and we thank her and wish her well. 




Friday, May 8, 2020

Friday 5ive- May 8, 2020

Welcome to the Friday 5ive, a blog post about five things that caught my attention this week. It seems like every week is either a day or a month, nothing in between.

1)  We have decided that since we will be home, we should jazz up the balcony a little bit. We found these plants at a nearby Home Depot and they do brighten up our outdoor area. Now we just need the warm weather to stay. The bottom photo is the view we had from our balcony on Sunday night.







2)  We also made a stop at Costco, where we scored a 30 pack of toilet paper and 12 pack of paper towels. A swing by the meat department found it completely empty, and a sign limiting people to 3 packages of meat per person.




3)  Many of you know of my family's love of Peleton bikes. I'm so glad we have one, especially now that most gyms are closed. I was very excited to see the Peleton truck making a delivery to someone in the neighborhood, I know that Peleton has sold a lot of bikes in the past two months.


4)  Two shows that we like to watch have returned- Billions on Showtime, and Ozark on Netflix. Billions is about a hedge fund billionaire, played by Damien Lewis and his nemesis, a former US Attorney, now Attorney General of NY, played by Paul Giamatti. It's a very intense show, and there are a lot of moving parts. Frequently we look at each other and say, wait, who is that and what are they talking about? The other thing is that Paul Giamatti speaks very low and quietly, and you have to turn up the volume to hear him. 

Ozark is back for a third season, and we've heard it's the best one yet. Jason Bateman and Laura Linney play a couple who have gotten involved with laundering drug money for a Mexican cartel. Each year, they get in deeper and deeper. The acting is fantastic, and Julia Garner won an Emmy last year for her role as a tough, smart young woman who works for Jason Bateman. 


5) I finished one book, Jenny Colgan's Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend, which is perfect for fans of Bridget Jones' Diary. It's about a young London woman who goes from high society to living with four guys and cleaning their bathroom. It's funny and a little rough around the edges compared to Colgan's other books. My full review is here.

I'm in the middle of Colum McCann's Apeirogon, about two men, an Israeli and a Palestinian, who each lost a young daughter to violence. It's a remarkable, stunning novel and I am reading it slowly to ponder and savor it. The power of his words just knock me out. I can tell this will be one of my favorite books of the year. 

I hope you all stay safe, healthy and home. 



Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend by Jenny Colgan

Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend by Jenny Colgan
Published by William Morrow ISBN 9780062869586
Trade paperback, $16.99, 341 pages


I'm a big fan of Jenny Colgan's books, having loved her most recent ones, The Bookshop on the Corner  and The Bookshop on the Shore. They are charming and sweet, and I love the Scottish island setting.

I recently read one of her earlier books, recently republished- Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend, which is a little different from her newer books. It's set in London, and the story is a bit rougher-around-the-edges. It's also very funny.

Sophie Chesterton is a gal-about-town, she spends her days shopping and getting her nails done and her nights out on the town with her two best friends and her boyfriend, whom she hopes will pop the question soon.

Life is good for Sophie until it is not. A tragic event forces her to leave her father's mansion and make her own way in the world. She ends up living in an apartment in the dodgy end of town with four young men, who take in her in with the understanding that she will clean their disgusting apartment as part of the rent. One of them even calls her "Cinders", short for Cinderella. (The scenes where she cleans the bathroom may be too much for some germophobes to even read.)

Sophie wants to be a photographer, and she manages to find a job as a photographer's assistant. She knows the photographer as a fashion photographer, who shoots the most glamorous women. On the side, however, he shoots scantily clad women for the tabloids, and the small, shoddy studio where he does this is where Sophie gets a job.

The characters in the book are terrific; the young women who work as tabloid models had me laughing out loud.  The "boys" Sophie live with are interesting- James (the military man), Wolverine (whose name perfectly describes his canine appearance and actions), Cal (who brings home a different woman every night) and Eck (the sensitive artist). Even Sophie's stepmother, who could have been one-dimensional, has more shades to her.

Sophie is the best character however. I love her salty language (you'll learn a lot great British slang in this book), and attitude. She could have just given up, but Sophie pushes on, even in the face of severe embarassment from her former friends.

There is a love triangle here between Sophie and two men, and the ending came as a bit of surprise, but a welcome and logical one at that. If you liked Bridget Jones' Diary, Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend is a perfect read for you.