Wednesday, April 6, 2011

April Book Review and a Kindle Cover

At the age of 60, Maggie Fortenberry feels that the best of her life is now behind her, and even that had been disappointing, so she decides to "leave life a little earlier than expected."  Most people who know her will be shocked, she realizes, and some may think she is taking the cowardly way out.   Yet, Maggie has given this much thought and carefully weighed the pros and cons, going so far as making a list of both sides before making what she believes is the only right decision.

 "Oh sure, it would have been easier if she could have somehow unzipped her scalp, taken her brain out, and held it over the kitchen sink, and just rinsed away all the old regrets, hurts, and humiliations right down the drain, and started over, but that was impossible."

Once the decision has been made, Maggie is determined not to burden those left behind and to cause them as little pain as possible. She makes up a "Things to Do Before I Go" list.  She carefully prepares a vague and impersonal handwritten note on monogrammed stationery with tomorrow's date.  Tomorrow morning, before her exit from the world, she plans to close her bank account, box up all her clothes for charity, and of course, launder the sheets and make the bed.   But before she can finish the letter, her best friend Brenda calls and announces excitedly that she has front-row tickets for the two of them to see the Whirling Dervishes at the Alabama Theatre on Sunday.  Maggie debates about this for awhile and then decides she simply can't disappoint her good friend. What would it hurt to postpone her leaving this world for another six days?   She pulls out a bottle of white-out and carefully changes the date on her letter to November 3.

Suicide is hardly a humorous topic, so why do we immediately take Maggie's intentions so lightly?  First of all, I Still Dream About You: A Novel is written by Fannie Flagg, which gives us the first clue not to expect anything tragic in this novel.  Secondly, Maggie deals with her own impending demise with such logic that we find ourselves almost agreeing with her:

"...On the positive side, by leaving now, she would be saving the government an awful lot of Social Security money down the line; making much less of a carbon footprint; using less oxygen, gas, water, food, plastics, and papers goods; and there would be fewer used coffee grounds in the garbage. Al Gore should certainly appreciate it."

(Spoiler Alert!) Finally, despite her best intentions, Maggie never goes through with her plan. 

Maggie, a former Miss Alabama, is a very likable character who never utters an unkind word about anyone, including her nemesis, Babs "The Beast" Bingington, a ruthless real estate broker who has nearly ruined Maggie's own real estate firm.  To others like her friend Brenda, Maggie seems to have "the world by the tail."  Brenda is quite a character herself, getting into all kinds of hilarious predicaments, often involving ice cream. One time she made the local newspaper when she foiled a would-be purse-snatcher with the only weapon at hand, a hot fudge sundae.

The novel weaves stories from the past in with the present, so that we understand Maggie's background and the reason for her feelings of disappointment.  We also learn about her late employer and mentor, the energetic and optimistic Hazel Whisenknott.  There is also a mystery involved, when Maggie and Brenda make an unusual discovery at a house they are preparing to put on the market.

My only exposure to Fannie Flagg before reading this novel was seeing (several times) the movie "Fried Green Tomatoes," based on Flagg's second novel.  So while I really can't compare this book to her other works, I can say I was entertained enough to want to read more of her novels.  It was a refreshing departure from the often dark mysteries and crime thrillers I usually read.  If you are looking for a book to cheer you up or simply make you smile, you can't go wrong with I Still Dream of You. 

April daffodils can also make you smile!

As a side note, I Still Dream About You was the first book I read on my new Kindle, which I received for Christmas.  I have to admit I never wanted a Kindle; I still like the feel and smell of a real book, being able to flip through the pages and feel its weight in my hands.  But I could see the advantages of a Kindle, particularly for traveling or having it handy while waiting in the doctor's office.  I realized, though, that before I stuffed it in my purse for my flight to Portland at the end of January, that I would need some kind of cover for it to protect the screen.

Checking out covers while shopping at Barnes and Noble one day, I was surprised to find out how expensive they were.  Of course, B and N's Nook is not compatible with the Kindle--kind of like the old days with Mac and PC software--but it gave me an idea of what the Kindle cover might cost.  Being of a cheap frugal nature, I thought why couldn't I just make one?  It didn't take much searching on Google to find several patterns for covers for either e-reader, including a neat one that can stand up in case you want to read while doing something else, like working out on a treadmill.  In the end, though, I decided to make my own pattern.

I purchased a small piece of fabric, spending under $2.00 for this cover, but you could make one for nothing if you have a suitable remnant on hand.  I added some quilt batting that I had left over from another project to one side for some added padding, lined the inside to keep the batting from possibly scratching the screen, and added a little free-form machine quilting to finish it off. Iron-on velcro on the flap keeps the pouch closed and free from dust.

Before anyone asks me for the pattern, let me say that I don't sew as much as I used to, and while I'm good at following patterns, I'm not so good at creating them.  I wasted some material  in trying to figure out how to turn this rightside out:)  If you would like to make your own, I'd recommend checking out this website or do a Google search for other patterns.

Disclaimer:  I received no remuneration for this review, purchasing the Kindle version of I Still Dream of You myself.  Also, just a note that I will be taking a break from the Book Review Club for at least the next two months due to some busy days ahead for me.  I hope to be back later this summer with another reading recommendation for you. 

Be sure to check out our hostess, Barrie Summy, for other book reviews this month.


  1. Good morning! The author of this book came to Nashville last fall and gave a talk. One of my clients coincidentally was reading the book at the time and actually went and saw here speak. Such a small world. I've not read this book but must do so soon. It's gotten a lot of press. Great job on the cover!! That's ingenuity for sure and it looks good.

  2. Hi, Tina! I bet hearing Fannie Flagg would have been entertaining. I remember years ago when she was on TV, I think on "Candid Camera." Right now I'm trying to figure out why all my text is in italics--Blogger doesn't like me this morning, I guess:)

  3. Sounds like a great book to cuddle up with in the winter. I will add it to my reading list.
    That cover is darn cute! Aren't you clever?!

  4. Oh, goody! Another FF novel. I've not been keeping up with her work lately so thanks for the recommendation. It sounds like it will be just as satisfying as Fried Green Tomatoes. The only weird thing I noticed in that story (at least the movie; I didn't read the book) was the product "endorsement"--Mary Kay cosmetics. Was this novel selling anything?

    Beautiful work on that Kindle cover, Rose. I am so jealous of people who know how to sew. Is it too late to take lessons?

  5. I've read Fried Green Tomatoes and enjoyed it. I've been meaning to read another Flagg book one of these days and I liked the way you reviewed this one!!

    Your Kindle cover is great!

  6. Only Flagg I've read is Fried Green Tomatoes, which I liked very much.
    I have never really taken to my Kindle. I like the case though

  7. Hi Rose, I always feel such a bore.
    I just cannot seem to grasp why anyone would want to read a book about someone's intended suicide.
    Isn't life depressing enough sometimes.
    As you know, I am not a lover of fiction......I have to say, as always your review is great, they always are.

    The cover is lovely. Well done.
    Would not know where to start.
    Like the price to!!

    Did flat Emily get back safely BTW?

  8. You made your own kindle cover!!! You are so talented! I do like a Fannie Flagg book by the way. Always entertaining. Thanks for reviewing!

  9. A humorous look on suicide is certainly original. Good review, but I’m even more impressed by your smart cover – very nice! Enjoy those busy days ahead, I’m guessing in your garden. I’m getting more used to my Kindle on the third book, but I still prefer real books too. It is the best for travel.

  10. This book sounds really interesting, so I didn't read your review after the spoiler alert.

    My husband got me a Kindle for Christmas a couple of years ago, and like you I wasn't sure I wanted one. But I have enjoyed it for certain situations.

  11. Nice cover for the Kindle! Like you I am having a difficult time warming up to my e-reader.

  12. Congrats on making your own Kindle cover! I convinced my mom to make me one when she made hers. (I also wasn't sure that I wanted a Kindle but found I love reading on it. I just really, really, like real books.)

    This book has a great premise and sounds like a very entertaining read. (I skipped the spoilers.) Thanks for the review!

  13. "Fried Green Tomatoes" is one of my favorite films! The book sound as if it is right up my street. Love your Kindle cover, far better than having one exactly the same as thousands of other people. I think MIL is going to buy herself one when she is out in the States next week so I will get to see what all the fuss is about...

  14. Your reviews are always beautifully written Rose. Not too sure I fancy the subject matter though although I do realise she is writing in a humorous manner.

    Your Kindle cover looks lovely, what a good idea. My friend is looking forward to a Kindle for her birthday but I haven't succumbed yet. I do love the look, smell and feel of a book but apart from that I have (literally!) stacks and stacks of books which are waiting to be read.

    Lovely photo of the Daffodils, my favourite garden flower :)

  15. Glad this Maggie is very different from the one in your book!
    60 is no age and with the exception of one or two illnesses... surely there is always something to live for.
    Anyway, glad to see that she never went ahead with it..... but of course for anyone wanting to read it, that piece of information might spoil things now. LOL!
    Thanks for the brilliant review.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  16. Rose, Loved the review and knew immediately that Fannie would never let her heroine take her own life! I really enjoy her books and look forward to this one~Thank you for a really delightful review. xxoogail PS Impressive cover!

  17. that's very clever of you to make your own cover. i'm going to be buying some fabric as well to make a case for my camera. can't get cheaper than that ;D

  18. Sounds like an interesting read. I loved 'Fried Green Tomatoes' so I'll definitely have to check some of her other stuff out as well. :) Great job on the cover for your Kindle. My boys have been trying to get me to buy one, but I love the feel & smell of a book.

  19. I shall look out for that. Last November I read Can't wait to Get to Heaven by Ms Flagg, another delight.

    You are so clever making that cover! I am in awe.

  20. And incidentally the book of Fried Green Tomatoes was MUCH better than the film.

  21. I must read Fried Green Tomatoes. It's been mentioned to me several times over the past year. Then I'll move on to this one.

    I saw a TV show years ago about the same thing. Somebody was going to end his life, but the preacher just happened to walk by and pay a visit. Of course he couldn't go through with it and on and on. It was really done as a comedy and focused on silly details, like a chicken popping out from nowhere to confuse the issue.

    Anyway, love your daffys. And wow, I'm impressed with your kindle cover. You go girl!
    Happy gardening and reading.

  22. W2W, I don't remember any product endorsement in this book; I think films tend to do that more. It's never too late to learn to sew! I'm still thinking about guitar lessons:)

    Cheryl and Songbird, I understand your concern about the subject matter. It's hard to explain, but the beginning is rather vague, so by the time you realize what Maggie intends, you also know that she'll never go through with it. But humor is subjective and certainly not every book appeals to everyone.

    Thanks everyone for your comments and compliments on the Kindle cover. I've since received a leather cover as a gift--not sure I like it, except it has a retractable reading light with it, which I definitely like!

  23. I love your cover. I have a nook and a Kindle. I still read books too. I just use them all. Yes, for traveling, I love my nook. It's great.~~Dee

  24. Rose, is there anything that you're not good at? I'm impressed with anyone that sews. I can thread a needle and then after that I don't know what to do. So sad.

    Your review of this book was excellent. Makes me want to read it. I just finished reading Edna Ferber's...So Big.

  25. Rose, I enjoyed this book but my favorites are those set in Elmwood Springs. WELCOME TO THE WORLD, BABY GIRL and STANDING IN THE RAINBOW are both delightful and poignant.


Thanks for stopping by. I love to hear from you, so please leave a comment. I'll try to reply here, but I'll definitely return the visit.