May 11, 2008
Summer Blowout by Claire Cook
2008 Voice (Hyperion)
Finished on 5/2/08
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)
ARC - Due out on June 3rd
Bella Shaughnessy is addicted to lipstick with names like My Chihuahua Bites and Kiss My Lips, an occupational hazard, since she works as a stylist and makeup artist for her family's small chain of beauty salons in Marshbury, Massachusetts, along with her four half-brothers and -sisters. The owner is her father, Lucky Shaughnessy, a gregarious, three-times-divorced charmer with Donald Trump hair, who is obsessed with all things Italian and still carries a torch for his first wife, Bella's mother. After Bella's own marriage flames out spectacularly when her half-sister runs off with her husband, Bella decides she has seen enough of the damage love can do. She makes a vow: no more men.
Then Bella meets a cute entrepreneur at a college fair, and despite their bickering, they can't seem to stay away from each other. He also gives her a brilliant business idea, one that just might allow her to share her makeup expertise with the world. A small, well-tressed dog finds her way into her life, and her heart, and she decides to chance that, too. When the whole clan heads to Atlanta for a big Southern wedding, sparks fly--in a summer blowout no one will ever forget.
This hilarious, rambunctious novel is pure Claire Cook: full of juicy conflict and unconditional love.
One of my co-workers just got back from a week in Cabo. She and her husband had a great time and she looks well-rested, in spite of her sunburn! I asked what all they did while there and she said they pretty much just soaked up the rays, reading by the pool. Actually, she read every day. Her husband, on the other hand, finished his book (The Ruins) the first day they were there. She said he didn't want to get another book and was perfectly content to just relax in the sun. Boy, not me! I'd find the nearest store and buy at least two more books (not that I'd ever go on vacation without a wide assortment of potential reads).
Anyhow, talking to my friend about her trip brought back memories of a vacation my husband and I took back before we were married. We spent 9 days at a lovely resort in Puerto Vallarta. 9 days was probably a bit too long, as there wasn't a whole lot to do once we'd toured the town and surrounding areas. But this was 1987 and we got a great deal on a hotel/air package as long as we stayed for two weekends. The dollar was certainly worth a lot more than it is twenty years later! (I think the exchange rate was 2,000 pesos to the dollar!) We stayed in a very nice hotel right on the beach, ate lots of lobster, soaked up the rays by the pool, and read lots of books. Looking through my photos, I see that I was in my Danielle Steel phase. (I was young. What can I say?) My husband finished The Tommyknockers (Stephen King), passed it on to me, and headed to the hotel gift shop for something else to read. He settled on Gary Jennings' tome, Aztec. Weighing in at over a thousand pages, it was certain to keep him happy for the remainder of the vacation! (Great book, by the way. I read it at a later date and loved it!)
I've been thinking about vacations and reading. It takes a certain type of trip that allows me the time and setting to read as much as I anticipate. Last summer, I packed far too many books for our cruise through the San Juan Islands. As it happened, I didn't even read an entire book in the two weeks we were gone! I was having far too good of a time snapping pictures of the scenery and wildlife to be bothered with reading. Even when it was too rainy or foggy to head out for our next location, I simply sat in the pilot house gazing out at the water or watching the other boaters in the marina. I didn't want to miss a thing and knew I could always read at home.
The same thing happens when we're visiting family. When we were in Depoe Bay this past fall, I did manage to get a bit more reading in, but for the most part, we played tourists while visiting with my parents. I fell into my normal routine of reading in bed just like I do at home. I certainly didn't need all the books I packed for that visit, either!
Yet summer and reading seem to go hand-in-hand. We have several "Summer Reading" displays at work, and Bookreporter.com is getting reading to kick off their summer-long Summer Beach Bag of Books promotion. Personally, I think I read more in the winter. I love the long, hot days of summer and find that I spend far more time outside (kayaking, gardening, walking, entertaining friends on our deck) than I do during the winter. Even floating at our favorite pool is too distracting for a good read.
Having said that, I know many of you (especially students and teachers) look forward to three months of reading and relaxation. Do you prefer to use this time to catch-up on some of the heavier tomes such as Moby Dick, War and Peace, or Les Miserables, or is this a time for fluffy brain-candy? If you choose the latter, I've got just the book. Summer Blowout is light & fluffy and thoroughly enjoyable. I laughed out loud just as I did when I read Cook's hugely successful, Must Love Dogs. Throw in a few cute dog antics and you're guaranteed several chortles and snorts.
I won't spoil the book for those of you who want to read it, but here are a couple of amusing passages:
The door to the Olde Marshbury Taverne opened, and the father of the bride emerged. He was holding Precious straight out in front of him, and he had a pile of money tucked between one hand and the dog. He walked right over to me and said something about the Board of Health. Or possibly it was the Whore of Wealth.
And then he gave me Precious, still in her cornflower blue taffeta dress with the broach. "Sleep it," he said.
Or maybe it was, "Keep it."
After that, we just checked each other out for a while. I had no idea what kind of dog she was, since I knew nothing about dogs. She looked kind of like a flying squirrel, except for the ears. She had the ears of a fruit bat. I wonder what she was thinking about me. Maybe she thought I had ears like a fruit bat, too.
I rifled through my lipstick drawer, looking for something strong, confident, and hydrating. Beeswax, shea butter, jojoba, and almond oil are all great moisturizing ingredients. I found a tube of Tarte Inside Out Vitamin Lipstick in a deep rose called Revive. It had jojoba, vitamins A, C, E, and K, plus acai, green tea, and lychee extract, so I figured I was covering pretty much all the bases. Maybe if I ate the whole thing like a Popsicle, I wouldn't have to take my vitamins for a couple of months.
This is a fun read that sucked me in from the first page. I'd say it's perfect airplane material or a good one for a few hours out by the pool. Even the cover's cute. How can you possibly resist that adorable little face?
I'm heading to the beach later this summer (Hampton, VA) and plan to pack Cook's Life's a Beach in my bag. Maybe this trip I'll actually read a book!