Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy

Sycamore RowFrom Goodreads: Seth Hubbard is a wealthy man dying of lung cancer. He trusts no one. Before he hangs himself from a sycamore tree, Hubbard leaves a new, handwritten, will. It is an act that drags his adult children, his black maid, and Jake into a conflict as riveting and dramatic as the murder trial that made Brigance one of Ford County’s most notorious citizens, just three years earlier.

The second will raises far more questions than it answers. Why would Hubbard leave nearly all of his fortune to his maid? Had chemotherapy and painkillers affected his ability to think clearly? And what does it all have to do with a piece of land once known as Sycamore Row?


I have loved all but one Grisham book that I’ve read—I used to be an avid reader of his series, reading nearly all his books, but in the last decade I haven’t read much of his work as the premises haven’t really interested me. However, when Sycamore Row came out, I knew I wanted to read it badly as it’s the second in the Jake Brigance series—jumping off of A Time To Kill, a most phenomenal novel written 25 years ago that is still a bestseller today!

But… Sycamore Row was just… well, long. There were a lot of characters, true to Grisham’s style, but for some reason, they just put me to sleep. None of them were very likable; even Brigance got on my nerves in some of his scenes, and let’s not get started on Lettie, a woman who seemed to have no backbone and wouldn’t listen to anyone concerning the inheritance. I really felt like I was caught in limbo as I read, sometimes interested in the events and characters unfolding, and sometimes not. And truth be told, I feel like Grisham gave away the secret a bit too early in this book. Of course, it’s a very well written book, but I just didn’t feel like enough was happening throughout, and when we learned the potential reason for Seth giving 90% of his money/land to Lettie, well, it became clear quite that that was EXACTLY the reason, even though Grisham tried to make it seem like maybe it wasn’t. After the “possibility” came to light, I knew what was going to happen in the rest of the novel, and that’s never fun. So, while I liked much of the novel overall, I wasn’t extremely impressed like I was with A Time to Kill or any of his other novels written before 2005. Two stars.

2 stars

I borrowed this novel from the library.

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Remember WhenFrom Goodreads: Years before Trip Wiley could be seen on movie screens all over the world, he could be seen sitting in the desk behind me in my high school English class.

This was back in 1990, and I cite the year only to avoid dumbfounding you when references to big hair or stretch pants are mentioned. Although, come to think of it, I am from New Jersey, which may serve as explanation enough. We were teenagers then, way back in a time before anyone could even dream he’d turn into the Hollywood commodity that he is today.

In case you live under a rock and don’t know who Trip Wiley is, just know that these days, he’s the actor found at the top of every casting director’s wish list. He’s incredibly talented and insanely gorgeous, the combination of which has made him very rich, very famous and very desirable.

And not just to casting directors, either.

I can’t confirm any of the gossip from his early years out in Tinseltown, but based on what I knew of his life before he was famous, I can tell you that the idea of Girls-Throwing-Themselves-At-Trip is not a new concept.

I should know. I was one of them.

And my life hasn’t been the same since.


This was very well done. I thought it would be similar to Tammara Webber’s Between the Lines series, but it’s not, really–Trip isn’t famous in this novel yet, and it’s really the back-story before he gets famous (but if you’re a fan of Webber’s BtL series, then definitely pick this one up, anyway!). In fact, the only time they talk about his fame is in the very beginning, when Layla is reminiscing. Book two, I think, is where the fame piece will come up–and I can’t wait to read it, especially with a heartbreaking ending like the one Torrest left us with in the first novel.

I loved Layla’s voice in this novel. She’s full of spunk and she regales us with her memories of her senior year, making us a part of the story and she relives it–the good and the bad–and it was fun to read. Trip is a swoon-worthy character, and Layla is extremely sweet, though I think she allowed her best friend to control her a bit much. Things could have been so different if Layla has just followed her own heart and not taken her best friend’s advice to just let it go. Best friend or not, sometimes their advice shouldn’t be heeded.

I was happy that things sort of worked out in the end for Trip and Layla in the end, and that they at least got to spend some time happy together prior to leaving for college, but I really, really wanted things to end differently. But hey, at least the second and third books are already out, so I can start reading them now and find out what happens next for this fun couple. Four stars.

4 stars

I purchased this novel from Amazon.

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