Friday, April 27, 2012

Some Recent Reads

I've been reading a lot lately. I've finally found some time to sit down and review some the books that I've recently read.

Bossypants (Tina Fey): Who said women aren't funny? This was hysterical! Tina Fey is awesome. Really. I absolutely recommend this book. I wouldn't say it's 5 star quality, but I absolutely give it 4.5 stars. Tina had me laughing the whole way through her book. The best parts of the book were the backstage look at her life, getting into Saturday Night Live, working on Saturday Night Live, creating 30 Rock, and returning to Saturday Night Live for Sarah Palin impressions. I am not even sure what to call this book, was it an autobiography, a collection of short stories, or random musings of a comedian? Whatever it is that you want to classify it as, it was enjoyable to read. (4.5 stars)

Louder Than Words (Jenny McCarthy): I am not sure what to say about this book. I was hoping for so much more out of it, but was disappointed in the end. Even though there were interesting facts, I find that most people whom have kids with autism, don't have money like Jenny McCarthy does (for the most part), so a lot of it, in the book, is just unrealistic to most people. However, it was still interesting to read what Jenny went through and learn about what lengths mothers are willing to go through to help their child. While I believe that Jenny off the rocker on some things, I couldn't help but admire Jenny for fighting for her son's health the best way she could, as any mother should. And I guess it helped her being a celebrity to get in with doctors, etc. When I wrote that Jenny has money for the most part, there were times when Jenny was running low on funds, but she was able to get a model gig or work on a set, and bring in money to help pay for treatment for her son. Not everyone who have children with autism can just do that. (3 stars)

Starter Wife (Gigi Levangie Grazer): This was not great but not horrible either. It's a light read, if you can overlook the fact that it is very unrealistic. You definitely don't have to concentrate on this book. Gracie, the “starter wife,” gets dumped over her cell phone by her sleazy, egotistical husband but then soon after she falls for a guy she meets on the beach named Sam, who she later discovers is homeless, and she sleeps with him anyway. Apparently there is a TV show based on this book, staring Debra Messing - but I can't imagine it's any good. Eh - I recommend it if you want a distracting story, but if you care for substance, this is not your book. (3 stars)

Can You Keep a Secret? (Sophie Kinsella): This book was funny at times, and was on the slight unrealistic side however. But I guess that's what most chicklit is, right? Light fluff to get you lost in? It was fast paced and I got some good laughs. Like one reviewer wrote on goodreads "Sophie Kinsella’s books don’t make me a better person or enlighten me or give me anything to talk about at dinner parties, but they are damn good fun and I’m willing to admit to needing a damn good fun read now and then." I felt though that her character in this book, Emma, felt far too much like Kinsella's other character, Becky Bloomwood Shopaholic series), just without all the shopping. In this book, Emma has a few little secrets. Secrets from her family, boyfriend and some she hasn't shared with anyone else at all. One day, on a flight, in fright of dying, she tells them all to a stranger on a plane. The stranger on the plane turns out to be her boss, who owns the company she works for, but hasn't met. It was a cute story, but I felt that the ending was a tad predictable, I guess it less than half way through the book. Even though it was predictable, I still enjoyed reading it. (4 stars)

On a Sophie Kinsella kick... I decided to dive into the rest of the Shopaholic series. I had read the first novel, when it first came out in 2000.

Shopaholic Abroad (Sophie Kinsella): I'm not quite sure why I want to keep reading these books. Maybe to see if Becky Bloomwood ever really learns her lesson. It seems like the first almost 200 pages of the novel are the same storyline as the first book: She shops until she drops & can't pay off her debt. What really bothers me is her character, as she's a compulsive liar and spends well beyond her means, but Kinsella somehow betrays her as likeable, which kept me intrigued to find out what happens next. (3 stars)

Shopaholic Ties the Knot (Sophie Kinsella): I just had to know what happened next in the series, which is why I kept reading. I think I liked this one the most, from the entire series. This novel was light to read yet also touched on some really sensitive subjects for Luke (the main character's fiancé). The issue through this novel is that she ends up planning two weddings for the same day, on different sides of the world. How will she choose which wedding to cancel? The solution to the wedding was rather obvious, but the book managed to keep me wanting to know what happened next. As the novel goes on, the read gets more and more stressful because instead of fixing the problem, she adds more into the mix. (3 stars)

Shopaholic & Sister (Sophie Kinsella): I read this book next, because I had to know what happened next. Each book flows into the next in this series, and when I start something (for the most part) I have to finish. This book reads very similar to the other books in the Shopaholic series - quick and with plenty of laughs. It was amusing that Becky, a shopaholic, discovers she has a sister, who actually is frugal and hates to shop. They are complete opposites, and that's one of the things that kept me reading this novel. Plus, I was just curious to see how this series played out. (3 stars)

Shopaholic & Baby (Sophie Kinsella): Continuing on in the series, because I really had to know what happened next. Becky obviously goes overboard shopping for her future child. It was definitely not my favorite in this series. Becky's character is getting a bit too obsessive with the shopping and it is just not nearly as funny as it was in the past. In fact, it's as if she's learned absolutely nothing throughout the course of these books.There could have been more characters developing, but clearly that wasn't happening.  While it's clear the entire series is based on her desire to shop, maybe some personal growth on Becky's part could have been worked into the story. (3 stars)

Mini Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella): I made it to the end of the series. (And I thought I was going to blow my brains out by the end of this one, unfortunately). I"m probably just outgrowing Becky. Her character just never seems to grow up or learn anything, and I find it extremely irritating. I found Becky to be an awful parent and it really made me lose all respect for her. Well, as much respect as you can have for a fictional character. I think this series went on too long, and it should have been finished a few books ago. It's too bad, but I'm ready to say goodbye to Becky. (3 stars)

Undomestic Goddess (Sophie Kinsella): Overall I enjoyed this book but I wouldn't say I loved it. Undomestic Goddess is the story of a high-powered attorney (Samantha) who's up for partner at her firm, sees that she lost a client 50 million pounds, disappears from her life and ends up in the countryside, mistaken for an applicant for the position of a housekeeper. One problem though, she can't cook or clean. She ends up learning as she goes along, with the help of the gardener (where she works) and his mother. This book kept me entertained, which is what I was going for when I picked it up. (3 stars)

Room (Emma Donoghue): I could not put this book down. It's by far my absolute favorite recent read. I recommend it to everyone who asked me for a novel suggestion. A novel hasn't grasped me like this in a long time, right from the start. The story is about a 5-year-old boy named Jack who has never left the room where he lives. He lives in room with his mother. His whole world is Room and Bed and Rug. I think that the story wouldn't have been the same had it been told by his mother's point of view. It's narrated by Jack, and it was extremely well written. I thought I would have issues reading this book seeing as though my own son had just turned 5 when I read it.  During the story, Jack's mother tried to make his life as normal as she possible could by playing games, teaching him to read/write do math and about science & the planets. She does tell him that what is on their television isn't actually reality. But when Jack turns 5 she feels that it's finally time to tell Jack the truth and figure out a way to escape from Room. This turns Jack's world upside down. To Jack, Room is his heaven, his home, the only thing he knows. (5 stars)

Mrs. Kimble (Jennifer Haigh): This novel is a book that is out of the normal "genre" book that I read. It's not "chick lit", which I usually tend to read. It's the chronological story of 3 women (Birdie, Joan, and Dinah), who are each Mrs. Kimble (at different points in time, not all at the same time) and their story as the wife of Mr. Kimble. He meets and marries each of his wives during a vulnerable period in each of their lives. He uses them for what they have to offer him. He doesn't care for their feelings, nor the feelings of his children. I found each story to be interesting, kept hoping that each wife would realize what a dirtbag Mr. Kimble was. Even though it was a tad slow at times, I did thoroughly enjoy the novel.  (4 stars)

Heart of the Matter (Emily Giffin): I feel like I keep picking up books about cheating lately... and not intentionally either. I also feel like it's always the man cheating on the wife. I was unsatisfied with the way the story ended. The reason I was unsatisfied wasn't because the story didn't turn out for the characters the way I had hoped, but because the "fairytale" ending was extremely predictable. While cheating is the plot of this book, it isn't what the book is about. It's about choices and it's about growth and about forgiveness. Only after finishing this book, did I realize that the characters Dex and Rachel are from Emily Giffin's first book, "Something Borrowed". I've read that one, a long time ago, and have seen the movie recently enough (see below for review), but I didn't put two & two together until after finishing it. This book is the tale of Dex's sister Tessa. I liked that this novel was told in the first-person by Tessa and every-other chapter told in the third person by Valerie. Very unique way or writing. However, at the end of the novel, I hated that we are left (just like Tessa), not understanding why her husband did what he did, as we never get answers to why. I kind of feel like that part of the story should have been included. (3 stars).

One for the Money (Janet Evanovich): I started this novel right after seeing the movie based on the book. After seeing the movie, I was excited to start reading the series, which I had heard of before, but never looked into reading them. This is the
first novel in the Stephanie Plum series, and we meet Stephanie Plum, a young girl who is looking for a job since she lost her old job as a lingerie buyer. Unable to find any work, she ends up in her cousin Vinnie's office who owns a bail bondsman company and she ends up becoming a bounty hunter. Stephanie ended up with her first case, hunting down Joe Morelli, a cop on the run for murder, who claims he's innocent, a guy that Stephanie had a fling with back in high school. Evanovich's writing is extremely funny and Stephanie's antics will have you  laughing so hard it hurts. Even Stephanie's grandmother is an absolute riot. Stephanie ends up working with Joe, and she helps him clear his name and he helps her get the $10,000 reward for his booking. Along the way, Stephanie ends up getting herself into trouble and in tight , sticky situations. I wasn't sure what genre this book actually was considered, but it has a bit of romance, action, humor, mystery, crime, with a bit of chick literature all wrapped into the novel, so it has a little bit of everything for all different kind of readers. I plan on continuing reading the rest of the series to see what happens next with Stephanie Plum. (5 stars)

Are you There Vodka? It's Me Chelsea (Chelsea Handler): I started to read this novel after seeing Are you There Chelsea on television. After laughing so hard at the sitcom, I remembered that I had the books on my bookshelf. This novel is comprised of short stories of random times in Chelsea's life and each story is funnier than the last. I am wondering though how much is actually accurate and how much is embellished for her audience, as Chelsea is a comedian after all. She definitely has found herself in quite the situations, and she's very blunt and open about things. Some people might find her style and stories offensive but one shouldn't take her stories offensively because she might poke fun at others, but she pokes fun at herself probably the most. Telling stories about getting pulled over for driving under the influence, or about the time she was taken by a little person con-woman. Need a good laugh? I recommend reading this book. (4 stars)

My Horizontal Life (Chelsea Handler): While I enjoyed this novel, I think I enjoyed Are you There Vodka? It's Me Chelsea more than this one. I am not even sure if I read them in order, not sure which book was written before the other. Once again, I found myself laughing out loud at stories that Chelsea tells, and I'm again wondering which stories were embellished for her audience. This novel centers around short stories of Chelsea's sex-life. While my attention span started to wonder 3 quarters into the book, I still found most of her stories funny. Once again, this is another one of Chelsea's novels that you have to read with an open mind. If you're shy about all things sex related, then this book is not for you. If you have issues with language, then this book (and probably all the rest of Chelsea's books, are not for you). I do plan on reading Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang and also Lies That Chelsea Handler Told me. Hopefully they'll be good too. (3 stars)

What have you read recently? Anything worth recommending? If so, please leave a comment!



Jules said...

I keep meaning to buy Bossypants and I always forget and grab something else. I need to put it on my Kindle wishlist.

I didn't read this Jenny McCarthy book, but read her pregnancy book and toddler book. They were mildly entertaining, but not really what I was looking for (ie not a lot of helpful substance)

Also loved Room and the Chelsea Handler books.

Right now I'm reading the Game of Thrones books. It's taking me forever to get through just the second one, even though I love them!

Hattie said...

This was really helpful! I have some audible credits I wasn't sure what to do with, so after reading this I've got a few ideas of what to do with them. :)

Gabriela said...

I'm going to share your post with my book club, I don't think we've all read some of these books. I absolutely love the Stephanie Plum series. If you haven't read them, I recommend Jen Lancaster's series of memoirs starting with Bitter is the New Black.

We just read the Never Too Late Series by Donna McDonald. And like so many other people we also read the Fifty Shades Trilogy by E.L. James.

sapphireblue said...

Wow! You've done a lot of reading! I hope to read more while I'm off for summer break.

P said...

Hey, it's me, Paula! :-) I recommend the book Putting Alice Back Together, it was a really enjoyable read. But obviously you can check out my goodreads now for the books I've found awesome (or not.) Px

g-girl said...

you know, the starter wife (mini-series) was actually funny. i haven't read the book. she has another book out i hear. she's a nice lady. i met her when i was tutoring in la. she's a knitter too! :)