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Love or Something Like It: A Novel
Love or Something Like It: A Novel
by Deirdre Shaw
Edition: Hardcover
102 used & new from $0.01

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Serious book about L.A., May 14, 2009
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book was much more serious than I expected - not the typical frothy California fare at all. Lacey Brennan is a transplant from New York to L.A. She follows her comedy writer husband across country. Unfortunately, their marriage dissolves, and Lacey must figure out how to make a new life for herself.

Lacey is an introspective character, a bit detached, even though she does have deep wells of emotion. She learned to be self-reliant because her mother left her at a young age (in the care of her somewhat chaotic father). This detachment results in some distance between Lacey and the other characters, and at some points the narrative doesn't feel real because of that distance.

However, things came together by the end. I thought the book ended exactly the way it should.


Jennifer Johnson Is Sick of Being Single: A Novel
Jennifer Johnson Is Sick of Being Single: A Novel
by Heather McElhatton
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.33
157 used & new from $0.01

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny but chilling, May 12, 2009
The author has a very wacky sense of humor, and several passages of this book made me laugh out loud. Her protagonist, Jennifer Johnson, doesn't really fit into her religious community in Minnesota. She collects kitschy figurines, has dolls that do naughty things, and has a gay best friend. However, her dream is rather conventional: find a millionaire, marry him and live happily ever after. Then that dream takes a nasty left turn. This is one of those books where the ending is *not* predictable.


Mercury in Retrograde: A Novel
Mercury in Retrograde: A Novel
by Paula Froelich
Edition: Hardcover
225 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Frothy fun, May 9, 2009
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Paula Froelich's debut novel is a frothy confection that anyone who's ever read a gossip magazine, or enjoys chick lit set in New York, will like. Mercury in Retrograde focuses on the campily named Penelope Mercury (a reporter for the fictitious New York Telegraph), Lipstick Carcrash (a socialite who's just been cut off by her parents), and Dana Gluck (an overweight, depressive lawyer, coming off a divorce). All three women live in the same apartment together, and are brought together by private yoga sessions in Dana's apartment.

Penelope is the most fully developed character, and probably an alter ego of Froelich herself (a Page Six reporter). Lipstick comes into her own as a dress designer. Gluck is the least developed, but also enjoyable to read about.

The book is peppered with thinly disguised anecdotes about Miley Cyrus, Eliot Spitzer, etc. - which will all be recognizable to anyone who follows the papers, and are also good for a chuckle.


My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters
My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters
by Sydney Salter
Edition: Paperback
Price: $7.13
55 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Big fun, May 8, 2009
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
At first I thought this book was too conventional - homely girl obsessed with a cool football player, etc. But the characters and situations quickly became quirky, and I was soon enjoying myself.

Jory is a tall, blond teenager who nonetheless finds herself hideous, due to her "Super Schnoz." Obsessed with her proboscis, she decides to save up money for a nose job. Out of desperation, she applies for a job as a driver for a baker so she can deliver cakes - never mind that she can't drive stick and crashed her own car.

Despite some plot predictability, I liked this novel because many of the characters were surprising. They didn't do what I expected them to do. Also, the voice seemed like that of an authentic teenager. I read on the author's website that she used her high school journals as fodder. Finally, though Jory was very hard on herself, her snarky comments and ideas about her nose were often hilarious - for one thing, she was afraid to lie for fear that her nose would grow; for another, she was reluctant to use the word "nosy," for fear of drawing attention to her nose.


A Fortunate Age: A Novel
A Fortunate Age: A Novel
by Joanna Smith Rakoff
Edition: Hardcover
133 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable saga, May 6, 2009
I enjoyed this book. True, it took a while to get going. But, for me, the subplot about Emily taking care of her mentally ill sister generated the narrative tension that the Amazon editor felt was missing. After that, I was hooked. And even before that, I was charmed. Rakoff creates a faithful portrait of a circle of friends from Oberlin (even if some of them - Lil, Tal - are initially not as well-developed as the others). Among the characters are many recognizable types. I also liked how the novel captured the late '90s zeitgeist while also having the scope and range of a Victorian novel. Dickens and George Eliot come to mind.


Lucky Girl: A Memoir
Lucky Girl: A Memoir
by Mei-Ling Hopgood
Edition: Hardcover
90 used & new from $0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing take on adoption, May 4, 2009
This review is from: Lucky Girl: A Memoir (Hardcover)
I enjoyed this book. I did not think her writing was the strongest (simple, journalistic, not always delving beneath the surface), but her story was compelling. The author was adopted at 8 months of age, at which point she flew from Taiwan to the U.S. At age 23, she reconnected with her birth family. The birth family is like a circus - loud, bustling, full of people, but with some dark secrets that are revealed over time. The author emerges with the understanding that she is a "lucky girl" - lucky to be adopted, moved away from the dysfunctional currents of her birth family, and showered with love from her adoptive parents. In this sense, the book was refreshingly different from all the accounts of adoptive children who feel like something was missing, etc.


I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti
I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti
by Giulia Melucci
Edition: Hardcover
133 used & new from $0.01

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun and honest, May 4, 2009
This was a candid memoir about a woman's war-like relationships, studded with recipes. The recipes look good and simple, and employ a variety of meats, vegetables and pasta. The author changed the names and identifying details of some of her lovers, which was frustrating because I want to read (or at least flip through) their books! Still, I respect her need to protect their privacy.

Sometimes the author came off as neurotic/dysfunctional, as when she hoped that cooking for the men in her life and trying to fulfill their every need would make them love her. I could not tell whether the relationships failed because she was trying too hard or whether she just made terrible choices in mates. Overall, it was an honest and entertaining read.


Admission
Admission
by Jean Hanff Korelitz
Edition: Hardcover
155 used & new from $0.01

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rich and compelling, April 20, 2009
This review is from: Admission (Hardcover)
What a great book! I went into this with some trepidation - it's 450 pages long and I have a 10-month-old. But the mounting urgency of the plot, and the protagonist's secret, which is gradually revealed, pulled me in with increasing force. I've always been interested in college admissions, and would even like to be an admissions officer someday, and Korelitz's insider description of this world is fascinating. The emotional portrait of the protagonist is equally compelling.

Korelitz's protagonist, Portia Nathan, is a reserved, intelligent, careful woman who reveals herself to the reader piece by piece. She's a Dartmouth graduate who works for the Princeton admissions office, and takes a lot of flak for it - mostly from angry parents who think getting in should be easier than it is. What no one knows about her is that she's kept a secret, from everyone, for years.

This is a restrained but deeply moving book, and intellectually stimulating as well. I look forward to more from Korelitz.


The Ex-Mrs. Hedgefund
The Ex-Mrs. Hedgefund
by Jill Kargman
Edition: Hardcover
165 used & new from $0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and clever, April 20, 2009
This review is from: The Ex-Mrs. Hedgefund (Hardcover)
I really enjoyed this - even though it's been described as a "beach read," I found it authentic, funny and genuinely moving. It's the story of a New Yorker, Holly Talbott, who finds her husband kissing another woman in Brooklyn, and ends her marriage. The novel recounts her adventures in the dating pool, and the book is liberally laced with '80s pop culture. Holly seemed real, like someone I could relate to. Kargman's portrayal of the hedge-fund world was a little over the top, but thankfully it did not interfere with character development. I also loved the happy ending. This was kind of like a John Hughes movie turned into a book.


Secrets to Happiness: A Novel
Secrets to Happiness: A Novel
by Sarah Dunn
Edition: Hardcover
133 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars New York story, April 5, 2009
This was one of those quintessential New York stories - peopled with fun, neurotic characters and filled with quick, witty dialogue. It wasn't always original - Holly's speech to Amanda at one point mimics Woody Allen's speech to his friend at the end of the movie Manhattan - but that may have been intentional. And the book, as a whole, made me smile.


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