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Miss Harper Can Do It: A Novel
Miss Harper Can Do It: A Novel
by Jane Berentson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.09
99 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Quirky, charming story, May 18, 2009
I liked this book a lot. It was a little rambly, but it was also cute and lovable. There was a scene about Mr. Rogers that I particularly liked. Although the book is about a girl whose boyfriend goes off to war, it was not depressing or even especially serious. The narrator had a fun, quirky voice, and I liked the off-the-cuff quality of the writing (not trying to impress). I would be interested in reading other books by Jane Berentson.


The Family Man
The Family Man
by Elinor Lipman
Edition: Hardcover
181 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars All in the family, May 16, 2009
This review is from: The Family Man (Hardcover)
In this book, Elinor Lipman turns her acerbic wit to New York City instead of Massachusetts (her usual setting). The lightning-quick repartee was a bit much for me - I felt like I was watching a high-speed tennis match! But the characters were endearing and the concept entertaining. The story focuses on Thalia, a would-be actress who agrees to a publicity stunt. The plot is kind of beside the point, since it ends predictably. The story is more about the characters - Henry, a refined gay lawyer; Denise, a meddlesome heart-of-gold type who recalls the mother in Lipman's Then She Found Me; Thalia, a flirtatious drama queen; and Todd, Henry's warm-hearted retailer boyfriend.


Love or Something Like It: A Novel
Love or Something Like It: A Novel
by Deirdre Shaw
Edition: Hardcover
109 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 (A Jennifer Johnson Novel)
Jennifer Johnson Is Sick of Being Single: A Novel (A Jennifer Johnson Novel)
by Heather McElhatton
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.62
148 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
219 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: $7.99
65 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
134 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
73 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
124 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
144 used & new from $0.01

7 of 11 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.


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