The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society: A Novel

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Revisiting the busybody river town of Avalon, Ill., Gee (Friendship Bread) pens another sentimental ode to the domestic arts and their power to save women in crisis. “Scrapbooks are about memories,” Bettie, president and founder of the Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society, preaches to reluctant newcomers Connie, Yvonne, Ava, and Frances, each wrestling with painful pasts and uncertain futures. Orphan Connie, part of the kitchen help at Avalon’s must-meet-and-eat spot, Madeline’s Tea Salon, lets a troublemaking goat named Serena show her that home is where the heart is. Yvonne, one-time society dame who now works as a plumber, turns her back on a villainous family and rediscovers a lost love. Ava, the insecure single mother of a young son, the product of an affair with a married man, finds the courage to reconcile with the woman whose home she wrecked. And the unconditional love of Frances’s family helps her accept the daunting challenge of adopting a baby with a disability. But it’s Bettie’s heartbreaking battle with her failing memory that brings the women—and the town of Avalon—together to cherish both her and their past in a three-hanky nod to It’s a Wonderful Life. Gee—who also writes as Mia King (Table Manners)—gets the unapologetically schmaltzy tone just right with the irresistible premise that we can love the impossible. A surefire book club hit. Agent: Dorian Karchmar, WME Entertainment. (Feb.)
From the Publisher

Praise for Darien Gee and The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society 

“In a gathering of women there will always be compelling stories. Throw in a love of craft and these stories take on a whole new dynamic. There are shared secrets, support, encouragement, and love as the Avalon Ladies come to terms with the past and boldly step forward into the future.”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber 

 “There are many threads to this story (including a female plumber with a secret past), but, like a good scrapbooker, Gee puts them all together beautifully. Bettie is the glue that holds the residents of Avalon together—whether they like it or not—and as she seems to unravel, the town comes together. This funny, moving book is the follow-up to Friendship Bread (2011), although The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society can stand on its own. A welcome addition to any women’s-fiction collection and a good choice for fans of Debbie Macomber’s knitting series.”--Booklist 

“A three-hanky nod to It’s a Wonderful Life. Gee—who also writes as Mia King (Table Manners)—gets the unapologetically schmaltzy tone just right with the irresistible premise that we can love the impossible. A surefire book club hit.” --Publisher’s Weekly 

“In this exceptionally well-written novel you’ll find heartwarming inspiration, humor, wisdom and endless charm … This is one of those books you’ll want to tell your friends about so you can talk about the antics and struggles that will stay in your heart long after the final page is turned. Gee is an author to keep a close eye on.” --RT Book Reviews

 “Truly charming! You’ll want to read and then immediately share with your best friends (and then start a scrapbooking society of your own!). Darien Gee writes about friendship and family with depth, grace and heart.”—Sarah Jio, New York Times bestselling author of Blackberry Winter and The Violets of March

“Darien Gee pieces together lives and scraps with the skill and heart of a true storyteller. The ladies of Avalon will have you calling your sisters and girlfriends to share old memories and make new ones. I loved it!”—Lisa Wingate, bestselling author of Dandelion Summer and Blue Moon Bay

Praise for Darien Gee’s Friendship Bread
 “A vivid, tender portrait of friends, a window into the intricacies of friendship itself.”—New York Times bestselling author Luanne Rice 

 “With heart and soul, Darien Gee has crafted a charming story of love, friendship, tragedy, and the surprising ways healing weaves its way through a small town.”—New York Times bestselling author Beth Hoffman

 “You’ll root all the way as these characters stumble toward forgiveness, understanding, and, ultimately, celebration. Friendship Bread is a perfect book club selection.”—New York Times bestselling author Kate Jacobs

“Charming.”—Ladies’ Home Journal

 “An engrossing story about a small town and lives transformed.”—Miami Herald

 “Perfect for the book-club circuit and beyond.” —Kirkus

“Darien Gee’s virtuoso storytelling kept me turning pages—and wishing I lived in Avalon.”—New York Times bestselling author Nancy Thayer

 “Comforting, warm and delicious.”—New York Times bestselling author Jane Green
 

Kirkus Reviews
A novel featuring several ladies living in or near the small town of Avalon, Ill. The tale opens with an interesting and comedic scene of a young woman, Connie, trying to rescue a lost goat she guesses might have been abused. In this scene, we are also introduced to Madeline, who runs the town's popular teahouse, above which Madeline and Connie live. The scene then moves quickly to Isabel, who is not recovering from the trauma of her husband leaving her before he died; then to Yvonne, a plumber; then to Ava (the "other woman"); then to Frances; and so on. Perhaps these transitions from one character to another in such rapid succession comprise the author's way of recreating the ambiance of the teahouse at its busiest or the feeling of flipping through a lot of scrapbooks with portraits of a multitude of faces quickly glimpsed. The women become members of a scrapbooking club started by Bettie, who likes to sell her scrapbook decorations at the teahouse. This is a long, crowded book, and a reader who cares about these ladies with their significant problems might feel bogged down with too many details, some over-the-top strange and some completely mundane. This scrapbook of interesting, comic and tragic vignettes needs some nip and tuck to realize its full potential for passing along life lessons.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345525376
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/29/2013
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 284,217
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Read an Excerpt

The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society

A Novel
By Darien Gee

Ballantine Books

Copyright © 2013 Darien Gee
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780345525376

Chapter One

The goat was Connie's idea.

"I'm not so sure about this," Madeline Davis says, frowning. At seventy-five she's trying to make her life simpler, not the other way around. Then again, running a tea salon isn't what most people her age are doing these days. Madeline's days are busy, yes, but she goes to sleep each night happily content, her heart full. And for the past year she's had Connie Colls, her tea salon manager, an unexpected godsend with black spiky hair who has also become her friend and housemate.

Now Connie is tearfully looking at her and Madeline feels herself wavering. Connie has never asked for anything before and seeing this young woman about to cry is more than Madeline can bear.

"Well . . ." she says reluctantly. "Maybe for a couple of days until you can find a more suitable home." She watches as the goat sniffs its way around the garden, then starts chewing on a patch of orange nasturtiums.

"Oh!" Connie wipes her eyes and hurries toward the goat. She waves her hands over the flowers in an attempt to shoo the goat away, but the animal ignores her.

Lord, Madeline knows how this is going to go. She watches as Connie tugs unsuccessfully on the goat's makeshift collar, a frayed rope with a tail that has been chewed through. Well, the good news is that the goat belongs to someone. They just have to find out who.

"I'm going inside," she tells Connie, who's trying to drag the goat into the shade of a walnut tree.

"Thank you, Madeline," Connie says, forcing a bright smile. "She won't be any trouble at all, I promise."

"Hmm. Well, I think she's eating my Double Delights."

Connie turns, stricken. "No! No roses! Bad goat!"

Madeline just shakes her head and walks through the back door of the house into the kitchen.

The morning light streams in behind her, a generous sliver of sunshine falling onto the farmer's table that rests in the middle of the kitchen. Fresh loaves of Amish Friendship Bread, scones, and muffins are cooling on wire racks. Two arugula-and-bacon quiches are in the oven. Her kitchen is fragrant and inviting, and Madeline knows that her customers find these smells a reassuring comfort. They come to Madeline's Tea Salon for that very reason--the promise of good food and an encouraging smile. A kind word and possibly a joke or two, depending on her mood.

If they're lucky they may get more, like an impromptu performance by Hannah Wang, the young cellist who used to play with the New York Philharmonic and who now resides in Avalon. There's Bettie Shelton, too, with her mobile scrapbooking business. She comes in under the pretense of ordering a pot of Darjeeling tea while she indiscreetly sets up her wares at an adjoining table. On the days Bettie is here even the least crafty Avalonian or unsuspecting tourist is sure to leave with a packet of patterned paper and random embellishments. Madeline remembers what happened last month when a group of men had lunch at the salon, hunched over a table as they ate, speaking in low whispers. It was clear by their body language that they didn't want to be disturbed. Bettie, however, had marched up to them undaunted. Less than a minute later the men found their table littered with colorful ribbons and glittery sequins. Two men bought scrapbooking starter kits, dazed looks on their faces as they handed their money to Bettie. As quickly as she had arrived, Bettie was gone, leaving everyone to wonder what happened while Madeline cleared her table with a chuckle.

The small brass bell over the front door tinkles. A pair of women walk in, smile at Madeline, and choose a table by the window. Madeline knows it's only a matter of time before the tea salon will be bustling with people and laughter.

She selects several tins of the chamomile and rooibos tea blend from the large antique armoire that graces the dining room. She's not sure what came first--discovering so many wonderful finds at garage sales and antiques stores and then pondering what to put in them, or knowing that she wanted to sell her own tea blends and looking for an artful way to display them. It was a small thing to help pass the time in those early months when business was slow, but now it's taken on a life of its own. Connie wants them to open an online store but that's more than Madeline is willing to take on right now. At the moment this balance feels just right, however hectic it may be.

In the kitchen, Connie is at the sink, scrubbing her hands. "Serena took off into the neighbor's yard but she's back now," she says, a look of apologetic guilt on her face when Madeline walks in. "She, uh, kind of ate a few heads of lettuce from their garden."

Madeline raises an eyebrow. "Kind of?"

Connie fakes a cough. "Well, she ate them, but then she threw them back up." Connie wipes her hands on a dishtowel, avoiding eye contact. "I'll call the vet later to see if there's anything special we should be feeding her. Maybe Serena has a delicate stomach."

Goodness. Madeline isn't sure what's more concerning, that Connie has named the goat or that the goat has found its way into Walter Lassiter's vegetable garden. His wife, Dolores, doesn't mind the steady traffic of the tea salon but Walter is always looking for something to complain about. Madeline has a feeling that a stray goat may push him over the edge.

"I'm sure Serena's stomach is fine," she says, handing Connie the tea. "Do you mind wrapping these? Dora Ponce is putting together a gift basket for the Rotary Club auction and I told her we'd make a donation."

"Sure." Connie drapes an apron over her head. "I'll use that pretty paper I picked up at the farmer's market last week. Ruth Pavord is selling her whole stock--she's going to start making birdhouses instead." Connie is about to say more when there's a holler from the dining room. It's followed by the unmistakable sound of porcelain breaking.

"Help!" they hear one of the women shout. "There's a wild beast in here!" Connie hurries to the dining room. There's a stern reprimand and then another exclamation accompanied by the sound of more good china crashing to the floor.

To outsiders Avalon may look like a nondescript river town, but Madeline knows better. She reaches for the broom and dustpan with a happy sigh, then heads to the dining room.



Isabel grasps the hammer and pounds the for sale sign into her front lawn. The earth is hard and unyielding, dry from too much Illinois heat, another long hot August that shows no sign of relief. Maybe she should have watered the lawn first. Maybe she should have hired that redheaded kid from down the street. Maybe she should have called a real estate agent to list her house properly instead of trying to do it on her own, like so many things these days.

But Isabel doesn't want to wait for people to call her back, to check their schedules, to haggle a fee. To find the garden hose, wherever that is.

Bang bang bang. The sign shakes and shivers.

Last night, when she was the last person wandering the dusky streets after a seven o'clock showing of The Man from M.A.R.S., Isabel had stopped at the hardware store to pick up some laundry detergent. There they were, right by the entrance, on clearance. Fifteen cans of paint stacked in a pyramid, pointing to the sky.

Isabel thought about her house, of the stove and kitchen table, of the fridge and nubby dishtowels. The living room furniture, the bedroom set, the chipped cherrywood table in the hallway. She thought of her tired walls, the ceilings, the doors. There was a time when she dreamed they'd live in that house forever, have children in it, grow old in it. But Isabel's had to let that dream go. So what's she still doing in Avalon?

"I'll take them all," she'd told the cashier, handing him a hundred-dollar bill. "And some of those brushes, too."

She declined a drop cloth, spackle, turpentine. Too many things to remember. Just the paint, she'd said. And then she saw it. A sign, bent at the corners, leaning forlornly against the bags of organic lawn fertilizer.

FOR SALE BY OWNER.

She bought that, too.

Isabel steps back to survey her work. The sign is crooked, but it's clearly visible from the street. She knows her neighbors will be curious, maybe even nervous that she's selling. Avalon is the sort of place where most people come to settle down, where families spend whole lifetimes. Isabel herself married into this small town, Bill having been born and raised here. Buried here, too, almost four years now.

There's a flutter of curtains from the house next door. It's her neighbor Bettie Shelton, the town fussbudget. Isabel knows Bettie had a hand in spreading the news about Bill's departure and then his death two months later, a wrong turn down a one-way street. Casseroles had sprouted on her porch like mushrooms.

"Isabel Kidd!" she hears Bettie holler from inside her house. Bettie's silvery-blue hair is still in curlers. She struggles to open the window, then settles on rapping the glass, the look on her face indignant. "What the heck do you think you're doing?"

Isabel gives the sign a tap with the hammer.

"Isabel? Do you hear me?"

Isabel pretends to pick at a speck of dust on the sign.

"ISABEL!"

Exasperated, Isabel scowls. "Of course I hear you! Who doesn't hear you?" Catty-corner from her house, Isabel sees Peggy Lively emerge from her house, dressed in her fuzzy pink bathrobe. "You hear her, don't you, Peggy?"

Peggy stares at Isabel and the hammer for a moment before glancing down the empty street. Then she grabs the morning paper from her walk and hurries back inside, slamming the door shut behind her. Isabel hears the lock sliding into place.

Isabel shoots Bettie an annoyed look and then gives the sign one last pound for good measure. She heads back into the house, knowing that Bettie's prying eyes are watching her retreat.

In her living room, the paint cans are laid out like a labyrinth, waiting. Isabel hesitates, tentative, suddenly unsure. Putting up the for sale sign was easy, knowing it could be pulled up at any time, no harm done, a whim put to bed. But this is different. Once done, it can't be undone.

She reaches for the can closest to her, uses a screwdriver to crack the lid open. She gazes at the placid pool of paint. Whisper White. She gives it a stir, the smell tickling her nose.

Her first stroke on the wall is uneven, streaking, her second stroke no better. But still the paint glistens, beckoning, a stark contrast to the tired gray hue that's been there for years. Isabel dips the brush again and swirls it until the bristles are heavy with paint, then lifts and tries again. This time there's a thick swath of white, smooth and complete. She follows with another stroke, bolder this time.

It goes faster than she thinks, and soon the entire wall is done. It's a blank stare looking back at her, giving away nothing. Isabel leans closer, looking for a hint of the past, but sees nothing other than her own shadow as the tip of her nose bumps against the damp wall. Ouch. And then Isabel remembers other white walls.

There, that wasn't so bad, was it?

No, doctor, it wasn't.

Of course he had asked her when she was in a morphine-induced haze, easy and agreeable, happy to talk to anyone and everyone. Bill had been by her side, stunned and sad, knowing that this was it, their last chance. They weren't going to try anymore. It didn't matter, he would try to assure her when she lay in bed, night after night, her pillow damp with tears. It was enough, just the two of them. He'd hold her fingertips to his lips and kiss each one gently. A promise.

It would be a few more years before Bill would leave, that promise forgotten. They had said it wouldn't change them, but it had, and whatever it was they lost they couldn't get back. Isabel wasn't happy but she wasn't unhappy, either. It was tolerable. She still loved Bill and she knew he loved her, and yet a whole chasm spanned between them, pushing them further and further apart with each day that passed. If she had to she could live out her life this way, in polite deference to each other, a peaceful coexistence in the same space, the same life. It wasn't ideal but it was enough for Isabel. Not, apparently, for Bill.

What is it with dentists and their dental assistants? It's an embarrassing cliche that Isabel has to live with. My husband left me for his dental assistant, a woman ten years younger than me. At the time Isabel had thought it couldn't get any worse, that nothing could usurp this abandonment, but she was wrong.

She hadn't been prepared for the baby announcement, had cracked the seal of the envelope without thinking. She thought it was a belated sympathy card, a few months late. She pulled out the stiff card and saw a chubby cherub of a baby with Bill's unmistakable bright blue eyes and Dumbo ears.

So now, at the ripe old age of thirty-eight, Isabel Kidd is alone. No husband, no children. An unsatisfying job as a customer service representative for a corrugated paper company in Rockford, about forty-five minutes away. Some money from Bill's pension. His share of the dental practice went to his partner, Randall Strombauer, a man Isabel never cared for. He's the one who hired the assistant with an eye, Isabel suspects, of having her all to himself. Randall was the single guy while Bill was safely ensconced in a marriage of twelve years. An open playing field with Randall as the only player. But, of course, things have a way of not working out as planned.

The remaining walls in the living room look shabby and lifeless, dull neighbors to the freshly painted wall. That's how it goes sometimes. She could keep it as an accent wall, but she feels for the others. They deserve a fresh start as well. After all, they were all innocent bystanders.

This time she'll do it differently--no need to slap one stroke on after the other. After all, this is her house, her walls. She can do whatever she wants with it.

Isabel dips her brush and begins again.



Yvonne Tate checks the address one last time before shoving the scrap of paper into her pocket. The house in front of her is a modest bungalow with a white picket fence, sycamore trees lining the street. She opens the gate and goes up the walk, noticing the postage-stamp lawn and garden. Flower boxes filled with geraniums and impatiens in a summer burst of colors line the windows, butterflies dancing in the garden. It's a sweet home.

Continues...

Excerpted from The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society by Darien Gee Copyright © 2013 by Darien Gee. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 22 )
Rating Distribution

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(12)

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(6)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 22 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2013

    Among the aspects of scrapbooking I¿ve always appreciated is the

    Among the aspects of scrapbooking I’ve always appreciated is the creator’s ability to shape reality.

    When I’m choosing subject matter, I can emphasize happy moments and minimize — or entirely omit —  ugly ones.

    When I’m cropping photos, I can crop out my fat thighs.

    When I’m adding a caption, I can be the clever girl I never manage to be in person.

    In the end, all the disparate pieces and parts of my life fit neatly into a scrapbook page with the perfect background and pretty embellishments.
    That’s how I felt Darien Gee wrote “The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society.”

    It’s all a little too neat and sweet.

    It’s well paced and I enjoyed most of the characters, and I even found tears welling up in my eyes as certain emotional moments played out.

    So I liked it.

    But I don’t believe it.

    An heiress runs away from her controlling family to become … a plumber? Really?

    A woman whose husband leaves her and impregnates another woman before he dies suddenly …. becomes friends with her dead husband’s mistress? Really?

    The town’s eccentric scrapbooking saleswoman is still going strong … at 77? Sorry, no. I’m a scrapbooker. I worked for a scrapbooking company. I’ve attended hundreds of scrapbooking workshops. And I know how heavy scrapbooking supplies are. Seventy-seven-year-olds pushing paper packs and albums are rare indeed.

    It’s all cute and described delightfully, but in the end the town of Avalon and its scrapbookers are a fun distraction without a whole lot of substance.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 29, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    The Avalon Ladies Scrapbook Society is a great squeal to the Fri

    The Avalon Ladies Scrapbook Society is a great squeal to the Friendship Bread. This book introduces new characters but also keeps you involved with a few of the characters from the first book. Darien does a wonderful job of showing you the lives of her characters. She lets you see their happy moments, struggles, and heartaches all while they try to preserve memories. It's wonderful how she can show how a community can come together to help those in need. Just as the Friendship Bread got you baking, the Avalon Ladies Scrapbook Society will get you scrapbooking in no time. I can't wait to see what else Darien can bring us from this small town of Avalon.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 29, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I write this today, which is the book release of The Avalon Ladi

    I write this today, which is the book release of The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society: A Novel by author Darien Gee, who also writes under the name Mia King. Her first novel, Friendship Bread is a tasty fiction book full of Amish Friendship Bread recipes.

    This is breaking news! For any author the release date has to be seen as giving birth day when your book is released into the public and from there it will truly have a chance to grow and be shared with many. So today is the birth day of The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society by Darien Gee. Will you help it grow? It is already ranked and off to a great start. 

    The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society (ALSS) book is set in Avalon population 4,243 and is a small river town in Illinois. The book is about a group of women who form deep friendships and sharing together, bringing in other women into their circle by way of scrapbooking. The leader and founder of ALSS, Bettie shares her passion of scrapbooking and wants everyone to preserve their precious memories. Through this group, the women share their past and work together to help one another move into their future by dealing and working through their life issues. 

    Just like Friendship Bread, ALSS is chocked full of carefully developed characters which Gee shares with us in this town of Avalon. The book made me laugh, shout for joy, shed tears of sadness as well as tears of joy. Gee crafts the novel to draw the reader into Avalon and be a part of the town which is why I felt all those emotions reading the book. I truly felt the emotions of the characters. Now this, friends, is a perfect example of a book full of developed characters. 

    In case you are wondering, yes you can read this book if you haven't read the first book, Friendship Bread and if you aren't into scrapbooking ;) Did I mention the book has recipes? I love fiction books with recipes which Darien Gee and Mia King books always include.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2014

    Cozy book

    This book made me feel as though these people were people I knew and I enjoyed reading about them and their lives. The happy and the sad..and finding renewal after some tough bumps in the road.It was a comforting book.

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  • Posted June 15, 2014

    Fluffy

    Despite the fact scrapbooking isn't my thing, the story sounded interesting. It really wasn't. Characters were rather simple, but pleasant. In its favor it was a quick read and somewhat entertaining.

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  • Posted June 14, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Small town life at its best.

    Having grown up in a very small town, this book was like going home-a reminder of the friendships and caring found where people really get to know each other. As a scrapbooker, I enjoyed the scrap booking, but a love of scrap booking is not a requisite for the enjoyment of this story. The author makes us care about the characters-about their strengths, weaknesses and struggles. There is sadness, joy, and laughter. I liked Avalon, IL and it's residents.
    My only difficulty with this book is the way the author jumps suddenly from one character to another making for difficult transitions when there are so many names to keep straight.
    I do praise the author for her compassionate treatment of one character's struggle with Dementia and the townspeople's reaction and support.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2014

    recommended

    easy read---great story line

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  • Posted June 13, 2014

    Enjoyable

    This is a gentle, happy read. The trials and tribulations of small-town living are brought to life by the colorful citizens of Avalon, Illinois.
    As the Amish Friendship Bread is featured in Gee's book FRIENDSHIP BREAD, this sequel (although not necessary to read in order)highlights the pleasures of scrapbooking.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2014

    Ok, but...

    I love scrapbooking, and don't mind many characters in a book, but this one just spent too much time jumping around. Finally I gave up about 200 pages in. I just didn't care enough to find out how it resolved.

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  • Posted June 6, 2014

    check I tout

    really good cute

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2014

    Do all pieces have to fit?

    Unlike a puzzle, no. A scrapbook is a record, and these members bring all sorts of stories, pictures, losses, gains, why's and what's together to make a one of a kind scrapbook of lives

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  • Posted January 23, 2014

    Love Darien's books!

    Love Darien's books!

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  • Posted March 21, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    This book brings us back to Avalon IL, and our friends from Frie

    This book brings us back to Avalon IL, and our friends from Friendship Bread and Madeline's Tea Room. How great to be able to spend time again with these remarkable women. We also meet some of the other residents of this great town.
    Bette has done with scrap booking what friendship bread did for the community in the last book. Although, loaves of this amazing starter keep showing up.
    Bette is an awesome, sweet, elderly lady, that runs a scrap booking business. She is suffering from a form of dementia, and the sweet soul is actually quite funny. She gives away a lot of her supplies, and makes each and everyone feel special. She has been gifted with a talent to help one find their inner self.
    Isabelle is Bette's neighbor, and don't think she ever knew when and where Bette would appear. We find a gruff exterior in Isabelle as the book opens, but I never expected what would happen.
    Madeline is still running the tea shop, and Connie still lives with her, now including a goat named Serena...keeping them on their toes!
    This story comes at you from a lot of directions, some have lost love ones because of deceit, others from divorce, and others from death. We have couple of stories of adoption, and the heart ache both good and bad that comes with it. We enjoy life with adorable Max, a precocious three year old!
    Don't miss this one, would recommend you read the first book, but this can stand alone. We end with an epilogue, which I loved! Also included are some great tips for Scrap Booking, and then some recipes that were used in the book!!

    I received this book through Net Galley and Random House Publishing, and was not required to give a positive review

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  • Posted March 15, 2013

    THE AVALON LADIES SCRAPBOOKING SOCIETY is an amazing read!  I ha

    THE AVALON LADIES SCRAPBOOKING SOCIETY is an amazing read!  I have never read a book where numerous characters were introduced and their personalities developed with such skill and emotional insight. Here you encounter a goat and a young Chinese girl as the story begins, and shortly thereafter you're making the acquaintance of an elderly scrapbook maven (who I happened to find extremely endearing), a plumber, the mother of many boys, a crotchety old man, and the list goes on. Life for these people is much the same as it is for all of us. They have pasts with joy and some regrets, and now in the present they are trying to hold onto their memories or, in some instances, forget them or reconcile them in order to move on in their life. Memory keeping becomes the thread that pulls them together and binds them.  In at least one instance, they keep memories alive for one of their fellow citizens who has become such a part of them and their memories. I never thought of so many ways of "keeping" memories until I read this book! If you must put this book down in between chapters as I was forced to do, (life has its demands.), don't fret, because you can pick this book up where you left off, and all of these lovely people will still be there waiting for you to join in the living of their lives. Pick up your cup of tea, get comfy, and pick up where you left off.  I must say, that as the final chapter came to a close, I had a difficult time leaving Avalon. it had become a part of me. I then did what i had to do:  I picked up my unread copy of FRIENDSHIP BREAD and began reading.  Ahhhh....back in Avalon!                  

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  • Posted February 27, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Wonderful stories that will leave you feeling good.  After read

    Wonderful stories that will leave you feeling good. 

    After reading The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society byDarien Gee, I want to move to Avalon, Illinois. Who wouldn't want to live in a small town where everyone knows each other and even the meanest and grumpiest of the inhabitants are really good at heart? 




    The author deftly uses the Scrapbooking Society as a metaphor for the theme of community and support throughout the book. Just like their individual stories, each of their scrapbooks were different and unique, but like the community, they were also full of examples of sharing and collaboration. In other words, like the lives of the characters they were both separate and yet intertwined. The support that they gave to each other in their everyday lives was a great example of all that is good and right in towns and communities all over the world. This spirit was never more in evidence than when trouble befell one of the inhabitants and the town pulled together. 




    I was a bit confused, at first, by the author's lack of introduction to the characters and thought that the beginning of the book was the weakest part. It seemed that she just jumped into talking about them without really giving the background of who they were or why they were paired together, as in the case of Madeleine and Connie. It was almost like we should already know that information. I realized part way through that, in fact, not only was it her second book, but many of the characters had also appeared in her first book. I still haven't read Friendship Bread, but I think that if I had I would have already been familiar with the characters and therefore the beginning would have flowed better for me. I will give her credit, though, as she filled in the missing pieces, or enough of them, as the book progressed, to make this book work well as a stand alone. By the end of the book, the only reason that I wanted to read Friendship Bread was because I was in love with Avalon and it's inhabitants, not because I felt the need for any extra explanation on the characters in the Scrapbooking Society. What more could a reader ask for? 




    In the end, what really sold me on this book was the strong characters that Ms. Gee filled the book with. And let me tell you, there are quite a few. Instead of being confusing, though, having such a large cast of characters and viewpoints in the story was what made it work for me. I found myself rooting for Frances and her family, wondering if Yvonne was going to succeed, how was Connie going to resolve her relationship with Serena, how would that affect her relationship with Madeleine, how Ava was going to make a place for her and Max, and how Isabel was going to solve her dilemmas. And through it all there is Bette, the president of the Scrapbooking Society and the tie that binds them all together. As I followed them all past their struggles, through their decisions, and to the conclusion of their stories I just felt good. 




    So - I am picking up a copy of Friendship Bread at the library this week and anxiously awaiting Ms. Gee's next installment in the life and times of Avalon, Ill. I hope she is already working on one!

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  • Posted February 2, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Darien Gee, the author of Friendship Bread takes us back to Aval

    Darien Gee, the author of Friendship Bread takes us back to Avalon, Illinois, population 4243.




    Madeline’s Tea Salon is the place residents meet and catch up and even occasionally get together as a group like the members of The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society founded by Bettie Shelton. Under Bettie’s guidance, even the most reluctant of Avalon’s residents come to terms with their past and make bold decisions about their future.




    Isabel Kidd is fixing up her ramshackle house while sorting through the complications of her late husband’s affair. Ava Catalina is mourning the love of her life and helping her young son grow up without his father. Local plumber Yvonne Tate is smart, beautiful, and new to Avalon, but finds that despite a decade of living life on her own terms, the past has a way of catching up—no matter where she goes. And Frances Latham, mother to a boisterous brood of boys, eagerly anticipates the arrival of a little girl from China—unprepared for the emotional roller coaster of foreign adoption.




    Bettie has helped so many people and now she is facing a trial of her own. Everyone needs to come together and create something truly memorable just for her.








    Darien Gee writes about friendship and she does it masterfully. I was actually sad when I reached the last page. Bettie may not be adored by everyone in Avalon but she sure is the glue that holds the town together. She believes the answer to every problem is scrapbooking and saving memories. It is also the community of scrapbookers and their families that gather together to share their projects and support each other through good times and bad.




    While Bettie is the main character of this story, the supporting characters are written just as well. A few characters return from Gee’s first story but we are introduced to new ones as well. There are several prominent supporting characters. You need to take your time, this is not a book to rush through, so you can really get to know these fabulous. characters and their stories.  I said in my review of Friendship Bread that is was a story to be savored and the same is true with this story. The characters are rich and their stories feel real. One story line reminds me of similar circumstances in the Miss Julia Series by Ann B. Ross.




    Gee has written another heartwarming and inspiring story that you will want to share with all your friends. I can only hope that this is not our last trip to Avalon. Both books are fabulous and can be read as stand alone but you will want to read both and then you will want to bake bread, start scrapbooking and get together with all your friends and family. The recipes and scrapbooking tips are a real added bonus.

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  • Posted January 29, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

          Darien Gee's sequel to "Friendship Bread" contin

          Darien Gee's sequel to "Friendship Bread" continues to follow the lives of the residents of the quaint town of Avalon. If you've read the previous book, you're already familiar with several of the characters, and will get to know some new ones during this story as well. Activity centers around a cozy tea room and bakery and on the members of the scrapbooking society and their families. The community rallies when the aging society founder and leader begins to suffer with signs of dementia and later loses her home to fire. I enjoyed this book - the characters are well developed, diverse, and easy to relate to. Their heartaches, sorrows, victories and joys are a lot like our own. The story stands on its own whether you've read the previous book or not, but I highly recommend you read them both. Enjoy!

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  • Posted January 29, 2013

    ¿It¿s a day of sharing and togetherness, of family and friends,

    “It’s a day of sharing and togetherness, of family and friends, of memories to be made and not easily forgotten.” The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society (TALSS) by Darien Gee takes you into a town you wish existed and you could move to. Where else can you become friends/family with someone you believe to be your enemy. Where love is so strong you take care of friends like family, when a memory fades due to health. Nowhere but Avalon, join them for scrapbooking and tea. Let the ladies of TALSS show you what true friends are and how family (no matter what form two or four-legged) stands behind you. An excellent follow up to Friendship Bread, Gee’s earlier novel. The starter for the friendship bread lives on (recipe included in Friendship Bread or her blog) and the scrapbooking memories (tips included) will keep your memories in a place you see every day and in your heart. I had the privilege of an early release copy and enjoyed it so much. We can hope that Gee takes us back to Avalon, since we can’t move there!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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