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Kimberly Weiss "kaweiss" RSS Feed (New Jersey)
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Magic Hour: A Novel
Magic Hour: A Novel
by Kristin Hannah
Edition: Hardcover
155 used & new from $0.01

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Warm and touching, August 24, 2006
This review is from: Magic Hour: A Novel (Hardcover)
As a teacher on vacation, I've read at least 15 books, and this was by far the best.

Is it a little farfetched? Of course. I mean, girl who climbs a tree with a wolf in her arms? And I also found it not convincing that no one figured out or even tried to guess who she really was for several months.

However, the plusses outweighed the minuses. All of the characters were likable, and I did get sucked into the very touching maternal love story between Alice and her caretaker. Maybe it's because I read so many chick-lit books, but it's refreshing to find a female character who's not self absorbed and can give more than she takes. I was also moved to tears and I confess, I checked to make sure it had a happy ending. Overall, a flawed but still very good novel.


Me vs. Me
Me vs. Me
by Sarah Mlynowski
Edition: Paperback
65 used & new from $0.01

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It did it for me!, August 2, 2006
This review is from: Me vs. Me (Paperback)
I love science-fiction romantic comedies. There are a lot of movies of that genre (Family Man, Freaky Friday, etc.), but not a lot of books, so I was excited about this book when I read its description. Even if the book were terrible, I'd probably enjoy it--but fortunately, it was quite good. It was absorbing, the characters were likable, and many scenes were very funny and touching.

There were only a couple of things that bothered me and kept me from giving it 5 stars: First, there was a sort of dated feel to the book. Except for the mentions of terrorists and cosmos, it could have been written in the 70's. The heroine, Gabby, was literally Mary Richards in one life (complete with a news producing job) and June Cleaver in the other. I also felt that the issue of interfaith dating was not handled that well. It wasn't clear if the mother-in-law was a harmless nuisance or a true anti-Semite, or if the boyfriend was a mama's boy or a faithful Christian who really wanted a church wedding and crucifix. This serious topic didn't really gel with the rest of the lighthearted book.

Still, these imperfections were only minor, and didn't distact much from enjoying a very engaging, fun summer book.


Seven Fires: The Urban Infernos that Reshaped America
Seven Fires: The Urban Infernos that Reshaped America
by Peter Charles Hoffer
Edition: Hardcover
57 used & new from $0.01

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Warm but not burning, June 9, 2006
I love disaster books, but this one was merely good, not great.

Hoffer details seven fires and their effects on the United States afterwards. It was interesting to read about three I had never heard of, Boston, Pittsburgh and Baltimore, and Hoffer succeeds very well when describing the fires and the chaos that ensues. His attempts to try to tie the infernos in with other sweeeping social changes, however, are not as successful. I was not convinced that the fire of Boston 1760 had all that much effect on the revolution 16 years later, for example. Hoffer concludes that rich people benefit from fires but poor people suffer--hardly a shocking conclusion. Also, the writing is a little overblown at times. Did the Detroit police really see the people in the slums as "less than human?" Still, despite the book's flaws, it is still overall a good read for people who enjoy disaster books.


Bitter is the New Black: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smartass, Or, Why You Should Never Carry A Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office
Bitter is the New Black: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smartass, Or, Why You Should Never Carry A Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office
by Jen Lancaster
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.28
463 used & new from $0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finding humor in a sad tale, May 22, 2006
This is one of the best books I've read in a long time! I said in a previous review that I wouldn't hold my breath until a chick-lit book with a conservative turned up. Well, it took a while, but one finally did! In the course of the book,Jen Lancaster writes a fan letter to Rush Limbaugh in the middle of the book, visits her parents' dog named Nixon and sends movies to the troops in Iraq.

I suspect that much of her over-the-top shallowness that dominates the beginning of the book is exaggerated for humor's sake. But certainly the heart of the story--her multi-year search for a new job after the dotcom boom ended--is real. I can relate to everything she went through, from increasingly demanding requirements for job interviews (you don't just send a resume, you bring a marketing plan)to the dream jobs that are really pyramid schemes. The fact that she found humor in these awful situations instead of just moaning made the book more readable and enjoyable. This would be a good book to read with Barbara Ehrenreich's latest (which had a more liberal point of view) to get a full picture of what life is like for the educated unemployed.


How to Meet Cute Boys
How to Meet Cute Boys
by Deanna Kizis
Edition: Hardcover
74 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting look at the dating scene, May 22, 2006
This review is from: How to Meet Cute Boys (Hardcover)
I was so disgusted with the last few chick-lit books I read, I was ready to give up on the genre. However, I got this as a gift and was pleasantly surprised. If it were a little deeper and had a real conclusion, I would give it four stars.

What I found interesting was the dating etiquette that seems to exist with young hipster-types. Ben was in a sexual relationship with young Max, but could not show him any affection or refer to him as her boyfriend. The minute she let on that she wasn't just having repeated casual sex with him, he took off, and she blamed herself. Is this a realistic portrait of the 20-something dating scene? Sadly, I think it probably is. I would have liked to see some personal growth by the protagonist--she had to actually remind herself to do something besides chase men--but besides that, the book was interesting, worth a check-out from the library, at least.


The Storekeeper's Daughter (Daughters of Lancaster County, Book 1)
The Storekeeper's Daughter (Daughters of Lancaster County, Book 1)
by Wanda E. Brunstetter
Edition: Paperback
281 used & new from $0.01

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Isn't it nice I've been reading this book for the past three days?", October 18, 2005
I don't usually read "Inspirational" romances, preferring the tougher chick-lit genre, but I've always been fascinated by the Amish and thought it would be a nice change of pace. Overall the book was very good, although it did not have the Hollywood happy ending I was hoping for. Maybe it will come in one of the sequels.

There was one major problem with the book, however, and because of that, I cannot give the book 5 stars. The dialogue was just awful! I think it was because, from the middle of the book on, we the readers only "met up" with the characters every few weeks or so. Much of the dialogue between them, then, was wasted giving away what happened when we last left them. It sounded awkward. I won't plagiarize the author by giving a direct quote, but they were like, "Oh, we sure had fun in Chicago these past two weeks," or "Isn't it wonderful that your daughter has been running the quilt shop for the past six months?" Sometimes, there were no other characters in the scene, so someone would be forced to talk to themselves or even a horse!

The book has a good plot and likable characters, but I kept wishing that someone would make a movie of this and rewrite some of the lines. Still, most of the book's intended audience of Amishphiles and Christians probably won't be as fussy as I am, and will be swept away by this sweet, clean love story peppered liberally with Bible quotes and words of inspiration. I liked the book, but didn't love it.


Juicy: Confessions of a Former Baseball Wife
Juicy: Confessions of a Former Baseball Wife
by Jessica Canseco
Edition: Hardcover
65 used & new from $0.01

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Batting about .250, October 8, 2005
I agree with both sets of reviewers. The book was both terrible and hard to put down at the same time.

Jessica comes off as sympathetic to a degree in the first half of the book. No, she's not the deepest well in the yard, but she seems refreshingly candid and naive. Jose treated her badly, but given her dysfunctional family background, she may not have known to expect anything better.

As the book progresses, though, she seems sleazier and sleazier, until I began to lose sympathy for her. When she finally left Jose, she didn't become a responsible, stable mother, but a partier and recreational drug user. Since her ex only used steroids, he actually comes across as the more responsible parent in a way. (Not that I'm condoning steroid abuse, mind you, but they are probably less mind-altering than Ecstasy, Jessica's drug of choice.)

I also found it hard to buy the "liberating" ending of her posing naked for Playboy. That's liberation?

There was also disappointingly little about the life of a baseball wife. I didn't get the impression that the Canseco's union was typical of all or most baseball marriages.

So, overall, while the book is easy to read and fascinating in a train-wreck sort of way, it is devoid of any sympathetic characters, except for the daughter and the pets.


Flyover States (Red Dress Ink Novels)
Flyover States (Red Dress Ink Novels)
by Grace Grant
Edition: Paperback
50 used & new from $0.01

5 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars PCU, June 29, 2005
Someday, the chick-lit book craze will end, like the sweeping saga "Lace" and "Scruples" craze ended, like the True Crime fad ended, etc. Well, after reading this book, I feel that the end is near.

Basically, the authors created two cookie-cutter chicklit characters--you know, they drink, hang out with their gay friend, drink some more, wear outfits, drink--then put them in an environment two people like that would never be in, academia. Party girls like that going for years without a real salary--I doubt it.

Even more unrealistically, these girls go not to schools in their native New York and California--two states just dripping with colleges, I should add--but send them out to a--can you stand it? Red State!

Even though just about everyone our two heroines meet is either black, hispanic or gay, they still carry on like they are trapped in a land of stupid white racists. The reality shown in this book is unlike the one people really live in, it is more like a reverse-racist stereotype created by liberal screenwriters.

Did you ever, for example, see an ad that portrayed Arabs as terrorists to sell deodorant? I never have, but in this world, it exists, along with fawning news reports of the KKK, evil salesclerks who don't honor Indians' gift certificates, and clueless college administrators who paste black heads onto white bodies to show fake "diversity."

Our politically correct heroines, of course, don't give the same respect to the white natives as they expect from them, referring to them as "Bubbas" or "Billy Rays."

I am not denying the presence of racism, and I imagine city types would feel out of place in a country atmosphere. However, this book didn't handle the social issues very well, in my opinion. It was a mistake, I think, to tackle such issues in a chick-lit book. I'd be happily reading along about one of the women's boyfriends, or trouble at work, for example, but then it would be interrupted with an angry diatribe about how low-achieving students are a product of less money spent on education (partly, but there's a lot more to it than that) or how there are more "legacy" white people in college than black people on Affirmative Action (maybe in fancier colleges, I doubt it in less prestigious universities), and the rhythm would be broken.

The book comes off as sour and elitist, and although there are some interesting characters and scenes, I cannot recommend it to chick-lit fans, or to fans of serious novels, who may be put off by the bar-and-boyfriends plot.


American Girls About Town
American Girls About Town
by Lauren Weisberger
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.51
116 used & new from $0.01

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grab bag of story goodies., June 19, 2005
Like many other reviewers, I also don't read many anthologies, but I have to say I enjoyed this. Was I crazy about every single story in it? No, but there were enough good ones to merit a good review.

Basically, the stories fell into a few categories. The selections by Hendricks, Weisberger and Sparling were about women abroad contemplating their relationships back home, (or lack thereof). All three were very good.

Weiner's, Trigiani's and Manby's all took place in England. They were all just OK, in my opinion. Weiner's writing style was perhaps too serious for its silly plot, Trigiani's was just too fluffy, and Manby's was kind of sleazy (but was probably the best of the three.)

Chupack's, Henderson's, Wolfe's and Curnyn's were the most literary, and were very stream-of consciousness. I didn't like these that much.

Three of the stories were not really chick-lit but of that "Southern small-town woman" genre. The stories were all right (Baggott's, Dalton's and Laskas's)but didn't belong with the others in the anthology.

I didn't get through Mlynowski's, which seemed very shallow, so the three remaining were probably the best.

Gold--Voodoo Dolls, etc.--Melissa Senate. Funny and moving

Silver--Leaving a light on. Cute, with a surprise ending

Bronze--Forty Days, by Jill Smolinski. Close tie with the "vacation" stories, but this one was more origninal.


Shopaholic & Sister (Shopaholic Series)
Shopaholic & Sister (Shopaholic Series)
by Sophie Kinsella
Edition: Hardcover
281 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book rocks!, April 8, 2005
Finally, a chick-lit sequel that's almost as good as the original. I was disappointed in the 2nd and 3rd installments of this series, but this one I liked a lot.

Kinsella was wise to entwine Becky's materialism with a sort of naive optimism. She really believes that if only she had the right outfit, or took her sister to the right store, everything would be fine. Although she's shallow, she's never mean, so she remains likable throughout.

I also liked the fact that this book had a sympathetic science nerd-girl character. Jessica was a bit of a pill, but she was still a decent, moral human being. I hope to see both characters again in another sequel--maybe Shopaholic and Baby?


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