Friday, December 31, 2010

111. The Spare Wife by Alex Witchel

This is another book that I finished in 2010. I just wanted to post a quick review, and I am not even going to put a blurb about the book.

This was a fun escape read about the famous and wealthy in Manhattan. Those are always enjoyable reads to me, and this one was no different. I liked that the ending was not one where everything was wrapped up in a nice and neat package, but that there was a realistic edge to it. I give it an A-.

I believe I have read this author before, but it was a long time ago. I will keep her name in my mind for future reads!

110. A Most Uncommon Degree of Popularity by Kathleen Gilles Seidel

I enjoyed Ms. Seidel's previous book that I read, so I decided to give this one a try. It was a good read, though I did have some eye rolling moments. I give it a B.

From Amazon:
Your own daughter... one of the popular girls?
On the first day of middle school, Lydia Meadows, a former lawyer turned full time mother, is startled to discover that her daughter Erin is one of the popular girls, a tight foursome whose mothers are also great friends. Lydia has always thought of popular girls as ambitious little manipulators who enjoy being cruel. But Erin is kind and well-adjusted. Maybe this popularity thing won't be so bad after all.
Then a new student ruthlessly targets Erin to boost her own popularity, and Lydia helplessly wonders what to do when her daughter's phone stops ringing. And the uneasiness among the girls begins to affect the friendship of the mothers-even though they are all grown women who should know better. Has their driven energy, once directed toward their careers, turned into an obsession with the social lives of their daughters?

In one word, yes. These mothers, especially Lydia, are way too involved in their daughters' lives, even to the point of letting it come in between other relationships. Now I am not a mother, so maybe I don't know, but these were the exact definition of what "helicopter moms" are. Besides this, I enjoyed the book. I actually finished this book last week, though I just got to posting this review and want to keep my ytd totals correct.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

109. Blind Submission by Debra Ginsberg

As I mentioned earlier, I liked The Neighbors Are Watching so much, I immediately checked out what other books Ms. Ginsberg wrote. While I really liked Blind Submission, I didn't love it as much as The Neighbors Are Watching. I give it a B+.

From Amazon:
Books can be a dangerous business...
Angel Robinson loves books, loves reading, loves anything to do with the written word. But when Blue Moon Books, the Bay Area bookstore where she worked since college, is squeezed out of business, Angel is forced to find a new job. She lucks into a position as the assistant to the world-renowned literary agent Lucy Fiamma.
Angel soons learns that working for Lucy is no picnic. The agent has a blockbuster ego to match her blockbuster success and Angel must juggle both her boss's prima donna demands and the strange quirks of her authors. But Angel soon becomes indispensible to the agency and develops a keen understanding of big projects and the writers who create them.
What she doesn't realize is just how far one of them will go to get published.
One day a chapter from a mysterious manuscript by an anonympus author arrives at the office. Set in a New York literary agency, the novel, titled Blind Submission, centers on the ambitious assistant to a successful literary agent. Angel is pulled in by the plot- but her initia; curiosity soon turns to panic. As the story unfolds-with chapters e-mailed in one by one- it becomes clear that the mystery author is writing the story of Angel's own life, including secrets she thought were deeply hidden. Someone is watching her, even plotting against her. Could it be her backstabbing coworker, her jealous boyfriend, or her seductive new client?
When the novel's plot turns to murder, Angel knows that if she doesn't discover the author's identity before the final chapter is written, more than just her career will be cut short.

I loved getting the inside view point of how an author becomes published and loved even more Angel. While I love everything about books, including their smell and feel, I have absolutely no desire to write them, just like Angel. While I admit that the mystery of the book first drew me in, I thought it could have been left out. I have a feeling that Ms. Ginsberg added it in to make the book be so not The Devil Wears Prada. It was still a good book, and Ms. Ginsberg does a wonderful job describing what makes a book lover a true book lover!

108. Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane

Oh, how I wanted to love this book. I really, really did. I remember loving Gone Baby Gone and have even avoided watching the movie because I didn't want it to be ruined for me. However, I was let down. Maybe it was becasue my expectations were too high, but I just didn't love it. It was still good, but up to all of the hype I have been hearing. I give Moonlight Mile a B.

From Amazon:
Amanda McCready was four years old when she vanished from a Boston neighborhood twelve years ago. Desperate pleas for help from the child's aunt led investigators Kenzie and Gennaro to take on the case. the pair risked everything to find the young girl-only to orchestrate her return to a neglectful mother and a broken home.
Now Amanda is 16- and gone again. A stellar student, brilliant but aloof, she seemed destined to escape her upbringing. Yet Amanda's aunt is one more knocking on Patrick Kenzie's door, fearing the worst for the little girl who has blossomed into a striking, clever young woman- a woman who hasn't been seen in weeks.
Haunted by their conscienses, Kenzie and Gennaro revisit the case that troubled them the most. Their search leads them into a world of identity thieves, meth dealers, a mentally unstable crime boss and his equally demented wife, a priceless thousand-year-old cross, and a happily homicidal Russian gangster. It's a world in which motives and allegiances constantly shift and mistakes are fatal.
In their desperate fight to confront the past and find Amanda McCready, Kenzie and Gennaro will be forced to question in it's possible to do the wrong thign and still be right or to do the right thing and still be wrong. As they face an evil that goes beyond broken dreams, they discover that the sins of yesterday don't always stay buried and the crimes of today could end their lives.

Like I said, maybe the hype was just too much, but I didn't love the book like I thought I would. I think the ending was just a bit too unbelievable for me because in the beginning of the book I was telling anyone who would listen what a great book it was and then it just fell flat for me. If you loved Gone Baby Gone or any of Mr. Lehane's books, I would advise you to read it, but just don't hope for too much.

107. Keep Your Mouth Shut and Wear Beige by Kathleen Gilles Seidel

I found this book by browsing on Amazon, I believe. I think it was one of those recommendations based on my previous browsing and my library had it in, so I gave it a chance. It was a cute, enjoyable read and I give it a B+.

From Amazon:
Darcy Van Aiken is doing just fine, thank you. She's an ICU nurse with an "amicable" divorce from her ex-husband, Mike, two great kids, and a prescription for Ritalin. Then her older son, Jeremy, gets engaged to Cami Zander-Brown---daughter of a very wealthy New York family- and her world gets turned upside down. The source of her trouble, much to Darcy's surprise, is not the form of Rose Zander-Brown, Cami's elegant and accomplished mother. Nor is it in the form of Guy Zander-Brown, Cami's charismatic and wildly successful literary agent father. Instead, lurking in the shadows of Mike's new life is the beautifully dressed Claudia, a self-described "managed perfectionist."
The Zander-Browns have money. Lots of money. the plans for their daughter's dream wedding grow more fabulous by the day, and loving every minute is Claudia. With her perfect taste, Claudia can't help thinking she would make a much better mother of the groom than Darcy. This wedding is her chance to entrench herself in Mike's life- and take credit for the two sons Darcy has worked so hard to raise right.

This was a cute book and an easy read. While nothing that is life shattering or extremely remarkable about the book, I still enjoyed it. As a matter of fact, I checked out more books by Ms. Seidel and am reading one right now and enjoying it. It was refreshing to read that the wealthy people were not the problem and I liked seeing people stand up for what is right and what isn't. If you like pleasant, heartwarming book candy, I would recommend Ms. Seidel's books, including Keep Your Mouth Shut.

106. Whacked by Jules Asner

Whacked was a total impulse grab from the library while I was browsing for other books. While I didn't love it, or the main character, I kept reading and finished this book very quickly. I give it a B.

From Amazon:
She has an almost-perfect boyfriend named Dave and a dream job writing for the TV crime series Flesh and Bone that allows her to indulge her macabre forensic passions. But something isn't quite right with her relationship, and Dani- a wily and inventive snoop- learns that Dave's real creative talents are (1) lying and (2) cheating on her. Soon she is plunged into the world of Los Angeles singledom, enduring a battalion of bad dateswith men whose peccadiloes would drive a lesser woman to kill. At her wit's end, Dani is driven to a dramatic extreme that is as shocking as it is sensible in the girl-eat-girl world of Hollywood.

I really, really did not like Dani. I thought she was a total bitch to everyone. There was a ton of her rolling her eyes at people, being really mean to her mom, and even one time where she went to an open house and stole some prescription meds from the medicine cabinets. All of that doesn't even start to mention her snooping on other people! For some reason though, I continued to read. I guess I can see why the book was written that way, but it still got on my nerves. If you enjoy chick lit but with a little edge, I think you might enjoy this book.

105. The Neighbors are Watching by Debra Ginsberg

Happy Holidays to everyone! I have been so busy with work and getting ready for the holidays that I have fallen behind with my reviews, so these next four posts will be short. The first one is a book I absolutely loved and didn't want to end. I give The Neighbors are Watching an A-.

From Amazon:
A pregnant teenager shows up, literally, on her biological father's doorstep, and the neighbors can't stop talking. Joe Montana is a handsome restaurant manager who failed to tell his wife that he fathered a baby with an ex-girlfriend seventeen years ago. Diana's bombshell arrival in their quiet cul-de-sac sets off a chain reacation of secrets and lies that threaten to engulf the neighborhood along with the approaching flames from a Santa Ana-fueled California wildfire.
A woman scorned, a former reality TV star, and a suburban housewife with her own checkered past- these are just a few of the warring neighbors who will be forced to band together when Diana disappears in the aftermath of the wildfire evacuation, leaving her newborn baby-and many unanswered questions-behind.

When my SIL asked me what I was reading and what it was about, I said it was a lot like Desperate Housewives. There were plenty of suspects and red herrings as to what happened to Diana and I was always changing my mind as to who the guilty parties were, if there were in fact, a guilty person. All in all I really enjoyed this book and promptly checked out what other books Ms. Ginsberg had written!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

104. My Fair Lazy by Jen Lancaster

When I read Ms. Lancaster's first book a couple of years ago, I was hooked. I thought her writing style was unique and funny and I had a good time laughing out loud. My Fair Lazy was a different story though. I give it a B-.

From Amazon:
It's a JENaissance! The New York Times bestselling author of Pretty in Plaid gets her culture on. Readers have followed Jen Lancaster through job loss, sucky city living, weight loss attempts, and 1980s nostalgia. Now Jen chronicles her efforts to achieve cultural enlightenment, with some hilarious missteps and genuine moments of inspiration along the way. And she does so by any means necessary: reading canonical literature, viewing classic films, attending the opera, researching artisan cheeses, and even enrolling in etiquette classes to improve her social graces. In Jen's corner is a crack team of experts, including Page Six socialites, gourmet chefs, an opera aficionado, and a master sommelier. She may discover that well-regarded, high-priced stinky cheese tastes exactly as bad as it smells, and that her love for Kraft American Singles is forever. But one thing's for certain: Eliza Doolittle's got nothing on Jen Lancaster-and failure is an option.

First of all, I am so glad I didn't buy this book and instead waited for it from the library. To me the book was boring and dull. Most of the second half was just a description of the different types of food she was eating and all of the restaurants she went to. I felt like I was reading a menu website or something. I also felt like Ms. Lancaster was kind of dogging herself for watching so many reality shows, which is something I like to do once in awhile to escape from the bad news all of the time. There are still the footnotes and emails with her friends, which I do love, and a touching chapter on her pets that had me tear up. All in all, while I didn't hate the book, it definitely wasn't what I've come to expect from Ms. Lancaster!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

103. Retail Hell: How I Sold My Soul to the Store Confessions of a Tortured Sales Associate by Freeman Hall

I read about this book somewhere, though of course I can't remember now. It was a quick, funny read, and whille I wasn't laughing out loud much there were plenty of times I smiled. I give Retail Hell a B+.

From Amazon:
I think you left these behind,? I said, handing them to her. This happens all the time when women try to return bags they?ve used. Tampons, lipstick, coins, Tic Tacs, and condoms are the top treasures found.
?Greasy? let out a sigh, as if I were the problem. ?I was just trying my things in it. I really don?t see what the problem is here. It?s none of your business what I keep in my handbag.?
It is when my commission is at stake! I?m not your Designer Handbag Rental Service! My name is not!
Enter Freeman Hall, an aspiring screenwriter who sets out to realize his Hollywood dream, but instead plunges into the seventh circle of Retail Hell when the rent comes due, selling animal-hide Hobos and overpriced clutches to Lookie-Loos and Picky Bitches?but always with a sunshiny smile.
Freeman toils in the handbag (that?s handbag, NOT purse) department of the Big Fancy department store, where he sees, hears, smells (and unfortunately, feels) it all! Here, he provides a true?and truly shocking?account of life from the other side of the handbag display. From early-morning RA-RA RALLIES to the craziest crazy-lady customers, Freeman?s horrific and hilarious workday tales redefine Juicy Couture.
As Freeman begins to plots his escape, he realizes that despite the Big Fancy?s lax return policy, for him, there really may be no returns . . . no exchanges . . . no way out

I couldn't believe some of the things people do and get away with. It was absolutely crazy. I always enjoy getting the inside view of someone's life and Retail Hell allowed me to do just that. Freeman is easy to sympathize with when you read about the way he was treated, and while I am always polite when I am at the store, (unless the associate is a total idiot... then I may get snippy) I think this book may have me being just a bit nicer. If you ever worked retail or are just looking for an easy read to pass a few hours, pick this up.