Profile for kacunnin > Reviews


kacunnin's Profile

Customer Reviews: 600
Top Reviewer Ranking: 510
Helpful Votes: 5822

Community Features
Review Discussion Boards
Top Reviewers

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
kacunnin RSS Feed (Bowie, MD USA)

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
Bush Furniture Mobiletech Mobile Computer Cart
Bush Furniture Mobiletech Mobile Computer Cart

4.0 out of 5 stars Classy-looking computer desk, but very challenging assembly, March 3, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Bush Mobiletech Computer Cart is a beautiful computer table - it really looks like a piece of high quality furniture. They call it a "cart," and it does have wheels (making it easy to move), but it definitely looks like a very nice computer desk. There's a good, large desk surface, a smooth-moving keyboard tray, a flat shelf for your monitor and speakers, and room underneath for your processor. The built in USB hub gives you four easy-reach USB plug-ins from your desk top. The finish is described as "mocha cherry laminate," but it's definitely darker than most cherry finishes (there is a bit of a reddish tinge, but the dark coffee-color is more prominent). The cart is solidly-made, and feels very sturdy. I've purchased a bunch of these "assembly necessary" furniture pieces (including tables, shelves, dressers, and desks) and this is by far the most substantial piece I've come across.

Which brings me to the assembly part of this computer cart. It is NOT easy to put this together. There is a lot of hardware (all sorts of screws and pegs and brackets and little locking do-dads), and the larger wooden pieces of the cart are very, very heavy. As I said, I have a lot of experience putting things like this together, and I've seldom needed help. But this is definitely a 2-person project. My husband and I were able to complete the assembly in just over two hours, but it was exhausting. You'll need a good screw driver (Phillips head) and a hammer - plus more muscle than I thought I possessed. The instructions aren't bad, but they're totally graphic (meaning no written descriptions of what to do at each step) - just diagrams with arrows. That said, the parts are all clearly labeled, and even though there are a lot of them, everything ended up fitting together well.

So it's a bit of a chore to assembly this thing, but when you've finally managed to complete your project, you'll like what you see. This really is a gorgeous computer desk. We were able to move it around in my husband's office to find the location that would work best for him. The wheels can be locked once you've chosen your spot, so it won't move while you're working. So far, he likes it a lot (and it looks much better in his office than the huge corner-unit monstrosity he was using previously). If you're looking for a good-quality computer desk that will look very classy in your office, this is a good choice. I give the desk itself five stars, but I have to deduct one star for the challenging assembly. If you're OK with that challenge, this is a good buy.

Quicken WillMaker Plus 2015
Quicken WillMaker Plus 2015
Price: $27.20
5 used & new from $26.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Easy-to-use and inexpensive answer to estate planning, February 25, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My husband and I prepared wills through about three years ago. For a fee of about $70 each ($140 total), our wills were prepared through the legalzoom website and then mailed to us for signing (along with directions for finalizing the will in the state where we live). This was fairly easy to do and reasonably inexpensive. But, the only way to update this will would be to pay another $140, or subscribe to legalzoom's monthly service. This is how they make money!

The best thing about WillMaker Plus is that it will do exactly the same thing legalzoom can do (at less than a third of the price!), but it will also allow you unlimited revisions, changes, and updates. That's a big plus, especially if you anticipate changes in circumstances down the road - marriage, divorce, births of children/grandchildren, purchase or sale of real estate, etc.

I had no problem at all installing this program on my Windows 7 PC - I used the disc included in the package, but if you'd rather download from the Internet, instructions for that (and an access code) are provided. I was directed to update the program before I started using it - the update took about 30 seconds.

When you open the program, you'll find easy instructions for completing five essential documents:
1. Will
2. Health Care Directive
3. Durable Power of Attorney
4. Final Arrangements
5. Information for Caregivers and Survivors
These documents can be completed in any order, and at your own pace. The program takes you through a series of questions as you work on each document, and information is provided on-screen to help you make decisions, to clarify legal terms, and to answer questions. I found this information very helpful. If you want more details, the program provides a downloadable Legal Manual.

I completed wills for my husband and myself, and printed out copies to compare with what we received from legalzoom. The papers were virtually identical, including the instructions for signing and witnessing the will as required in our state. The only difference at all was a sheet of paper attached to the legalzoom wills stating that our wills had been "reviewed by an attorney."

For a fairly simple estate, either legalzoom or WillMaker Plus will work beautifully - but the advantages of WillMaker (it's less expensive and allows unlimited revisions) make it the better choice. Had I known about WillMaker three years ago, I wouldn't have gone with legalzoom.

If you have a very complex estate (or you plan on setting up a number of trusts), I would recommend meeting with an attorney. WillMaker comes with a free one-year subscription to the website's online living trust program, but you are only permitted to set up one trust without paying an additional $60 fee. But for most of us, this program is an easy-to-use and inexpensive answer to estate planning and end-of-life decisions. I highly recommend it.

Solid Copper Moscow Mule Siggió Mug - Set of 4 Mugs - 16 Oz Capacity - 100% Pure Copper Barware - Novelty Copper Drinkware Cups for Mules, Beer, Camping, Water - Authentic Moscow Mule Mugs with No Inner Lining or Lacquer Finish and Lifetime Guarantee
Solid Copper Moscow Mule Siggió Mug - Set of 4 Mugs - 16 Oz Capacity - 100% Pure Copper Barware - Novelty Copper Drinkware Cups for Mules, Beer, Camping, Water - Authentic Moscow Mule Mugs with No Inner Lining or Lacquer Finish and Lifetime Guarantee
Offered by Walsh Fellowes
Price: $109.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely copper mugs -- but they get VERY, VERY COLD!, February 24, 2015
These "Moscow Mule" copper mugs are very attractive, nicely weighted, and would make a nice addition to any bar or kitchen. A Moscow Mule is a vodka-based cocktail that originated in the 1940's and became very popular in Los Angeles - it combines vodka, ginger beer, and lime, and is traditionally served in a copper mug with a brass handle. These Siggio mugs are very authentic looking, with solid copper bowls and brass handles.

I actually tried my mug out with ice water, just to see how well it conducts cold and to determine whether or not the copper affects the taste. As I expected, the ice water instantly made the mug ice cold to the touch. This may or may not be a good thing - for a summer picnic, I can see these icy mugs being very refreshing. But in February, the cold isn't as appealing. Since the mug's handle also gets very, very cold, the mug was actually uncomfortable to hold.

As for the taste, the copper was not at all noticeable. The water tasted clean and fresh, as it does in any regular glass or mug.

If you're a fan of vintage cocktails and you're looking for smart, classy mugs for your Moscow Mules, these are nice. Just be aware of how COLD they will feel with the addition of any cold beverage. As pointed out in the item description, these mugs are not suitable for hot beverages (even though they would look lovely filled with steamy mulled cider, it would probably be impossible to hold them without gloves!). They are also not dishwasher safe, so be prepared to hand-wash them. Also, make sure to wash them thoroughly with warm, soapy water before using them for the first time, since there is a coating on them to protect the sheen during shipping.

Overall, these are lovely mugs. The chilly handles are a negative for me, but it's a minor inconvenience.

[Please note: I was provided a sample of this product for review; the opinions expressed here are my own.]

Adeline: A Novel of Virginia Woolf
Adeline: A Novel of Virginia Woolf
by Norah Vincent
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.25

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Slow-going, pretentious, over-wrought portrait of Virginia Woolf, February 22, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Was ADELINE a failure for me because I'm not a great fan of Virginia Woolf's writing? Or was it a failure for me because Norah Vincent's prose is so stylistically pretentious and so over-wrought in its self-indulgence that I had difficulty getting through it? Perhaps it's a little bit of both.

The novel attempts to channel Woolf's artistic and psychological demons, which could have been interesting had it not been so awkwardly delivered. In the first chapter, Woolf is taking a bath while struggling to "give birth" to her other self, the self that will write another brilliant novel (i.e. "To the Lighthouse"). She plays with words in her head, waiting for the moment when she and the "other" will merge into something artistic and separate. While this is happening, her husband is out in the corridor fretting about her emotional stability (he recognizes her precarious psychological state). Finally, the "other" appears - it's Adeline, which was Virginia's name at birth - Adeline is the one she was but isn't. In one reality, Virginia disappears into the writing itself. In another reality, Virginia and Adeline lie side by side in conversation. The suggestion is that this process produces Woolf's stories, which therefore spring from her soul like words from a seer.

Vincent writes her story in present tense, presumably to better connect the reader with Woolf's internal musings, and with the inner conflict between her psychology and her art. Unfortunately, this awkward style of storytelling actually distracts from any real connection between reader and character. And Vincent's tendency to overuse metaphors and similes further distances the reader. For example, from the first page: "Her long, exhausted feet rise, . . . clutch the livid brass spout, flexing and squirming like newborns of an alien brood, quailing under the light." Or this, from the end of the first chapter: "She falls with a hollow thump into the worn armchair, which enfolds her like a mouth, the molded cushions tonguing the length of her like an indulgent mother cow."

So it was slow-going for me as I attempted to get past the verbiage to find the story. And there is a story - it's about Woolf's relationship with her loving husband, her friends (most of them familiar literary figures from the Bloomsbury group), and herself (the Adeline part of her and the Virginia part of her). Woolf most likely suffered from bipolar disorder, and her bouts of depression were a strain on her marriage and her ability to write. In ADELINE, Vincent attempts to shed light on her decision to commit suicide in 1941. And light is shed.

While I am admittedly not a great fan of Woolf's prose, I do admire her wit, her cleverness, and her sense of humor. None of that comes through in ADELINE, which is both somber and heavy-handed. I would recommend this for fans of Woolf who are familiar with her novels and her life, and who are intrigued by the prospect of spending 275 pages inside her fractured psyche. If instead, like me, you come to this novel as a lover of literature but not necessarily of Woolf, be forewarned - this is not an enjoyable read.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 26, 2015 8:26 PM PST

Second Life: A Novel
Second Life: A Novel
by S. J. Watson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.88

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Fatal Attraction" meets "Lady or the Tiger", February 16, 2015
This review is from: Second Life: A Novel (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
S. J. Watson's SECOND LIFE feels very much like a 21st century version of the film "Fatal Attraction." Thirty-something Julia Wilding is a pretty ordinary London housewife when the novel begins - she's married to a successful doctor, and she's raising her younger sister's 14-year-old son. She has a modest career as a professional photographer, but her life revolves around her husband and son . . . and she's bored. You see, Julia used to be a wild thing when she was younger - lots of sex and drugs and alcohol - but her husband "saved her" and turned her life around. Still, she misses the excitement and passion of her younger, more dangerous years. So when her sister is murdered in a Paris alleyway, Julia begins to delve into the younger woman's online sexual dalliances. Under the guise of investigating her sister's murder, Julia logs onto a sex-fantasy website, meets a man named Lukas, and puts everything in her life at risk.

So much of this novel reminded me of the 1987 Glenn Close/Michael Douglas film. Julia behaves recklessly, and her fantasy lover (who becomes more than a fantasy) isn't too quick to let her off the hook. He's playing games with her, some of which come very close to threatening her husband and son. At first, she likes the excitement, and the element of danger (and violence, even) turns her on. But by the second half of the book she's beginning to wonder if she'll be able to protect her family and her future. The problem is, she waits way too long to come clean about her "affair." Even Douglas owned up to his misstep after the bunny got boiled! But Julia pushes things closer and closer to the edge until there's no room to maneuver, and no way to pull back.

Which makes it very difficult to like Julia, or to sympathize with her. She makes stupid mistakes, one after the other. And she's so moody, so depressed, so unhappy with her typical suburban life. Her husband is a nice guy, he makes a good living, but she sees him as dull and mundane. She'd rather get hot and heavy with a stranger in a urine-scented cubicle near the train station than make love with her "nice guy" husband. This is a woman looking for Erica Jong's "zipless ****," an anonymous encounter with a guy who doesn't even know her name. And it takes her way too long to realize how much her "fling" will cost her.

By the time Julia does realize how much she has put at risk by her insane fantasies, it's really too late. The ending of this novel is exactly like the ending of Frank Stockton's 1884 short story, "The Lady or the Tiger." In that story, a young man must choose between two doors - behind one will be the woman he loves (i.e. "the lady") and behind the other will be a hungry tiger. The story ends with the man choosing between the two doors, but the result of his choice is not revealed (did he get the lady or the tiger?). The end of SECOND LIFE (and no, this is not a spoiler) is the same - Julia juggles two possible decisions. She seems to realize that whichever one she picks will be disastrous, but still she must choose. As she puts it, "Whatever happens next, . . . it's over." And so is the novel. We have no clue what Julia has decided to do, and no clue how her husband and son will respond. Julia's in limbo, the story is in limbo, and so are we the readers.

Ultimately, SECOND LIFE is a frustrating and disappointing novel. It starts out as a character study about a depressed, lonely housewife seduced by dangerous sexual fantasies. It ends up a rather predictable thriller involving convoluted plots, manipulation, and some really eye-roll-inducing coincidences. Watson seems determined to make Julia suffer for her betrayal, for her sexual depravity, and for her stupidity. The problem is, I just didn't care enough about Julia to be invested in the outcome of her dilemma. Her decision at the end of this novel may leave us hanging, but I found myself shrugging with indifference. This is a tedious, overly-long novel about a woman whose stupidity rules her. In the end, who cares?

Lyric 2619063 Chickadee Wild Bird Mix, 4-Pound Bag
Lyric 2619063 Chickadee Wild Bird Mix, 4-Pound Bag
Price: $8.98
3 used & new from $7.21

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pricey "gourmet" bird food, February 14, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have a lot of bird feeders, and I buy a lot of bird seed. Over the years, I've found that the best buy is black oil sunflower seeds, which attract a wide variety of birds and is available in 20-lb bags for about $16 (or about 80 cents per pound). The Lyric Chickadee blend contains a mix of sunflower seeds and nuts (including peanuts, pecans, and pistachios) and costs four times as much as the sunflower seeds I usually buy.

Don't get me wrong, this stuff looks and smells good, and the birds in my yard seemed to enjoy it. But they also enjoy the sunflower seeds I usually put out. So I have to ask myself whether it's worth spending four times the money to go "gourmet." Personally, I'd like a big bowl of pecans and pistachios rather than sunflower seeds, but this is bird food! And I really don't think the birds in my neck of the woods can tell the difference.

If you are an occasional bird feeder (meaning you don't buy bird seed all that often), a bag of this isn't a big problem. But the 4-pound bag filled just one of my feeders, and it was gone in three days (the same amount of time it takes for the birds to consume a feeder-full of sunflower seeds). It just doesn't make sense to spend four times the money for something that isn't going to make much of a difference (if any) to the birds you're feeding. If "fancy" and "gourmet" mean something to you, order this stuff. But I can assure you that the birds would just as soon have sunflower seeds at a quarter of the price.

STAINMASTER Chainlink Area Rug, 5 by 8-Feet, Navy Blue
STAINMASTER Chainlink Area Rug, 5 by 8-Feet, Navy Blue
Price: $169.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful area rug, February 14, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The STAINMASTER Chainlink area rug really is beautiful. It's thick and lush feeling, with a rubberized backing that means you won't need a liner if you're using this on hardwood or tile floors. The color is a vibrant navy, with a creamy white chain link pattern. It's a striking rug that looks gorgeous in my husband's office.

I have purchased several area rugs online, and this is definitely the nicest of the lot. I like the finished edges, the feel of the pile (it's very, very soft), and the non-skid backing. I will mention that the navy color looks different depending on the direction of the pile, which means footprints do show (the color can look more grayish-blue when looked at from some directions). But this doesn't bother me, and the pile can easily be smoothed out if you don't like the color variations. I actually think the variations add character to the rug.

I have not yet had a chance to test the stain-resistant qualities of the rug, but I will update this review if I find that it doesn't repel dirt and stains. So far, the rug looks and feels great.

Overall, this is a beautiful rug at a very reasonable price. It comes rolled up in heavy plastic -- when unrolled, it lies flat without curling (a big improvement over other rugs I've purchased online). There is little if any chemical smell. Great rug.

Cartwheel: A Novel
Cartwheel: A Novel
by Jennifer DuBois
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.90
69 used & new from $0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Overly-long, tedious slog, February 13, 2015
This review is from: Cartwheel: A Novel (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Jennifer DuBois's CARTWHEEL is not a murder mystery, a detective story, or a thriller. Instead it's a somber, self-indulgent slog through the minds of characters involved in a mystery. DuBois takes the basic facts of the Amanda Knox case (American exchange student overseas is charged with murdering her roommate) and uses them to explore how much we really know about each other - or how much we don't.

Twenty-year-old Lily Hayes is spending three months in Buenos Aires taking classes and soaking in the culture. She's a bit jealous of roommate Katy Kellers, who is beautiful, has perfect teeth, and seems too nice to be real. Lily has a fling with the rich kid next door, a strange recluse who speaks like a character from a 1940's film. She also works briefly at a local bar, drinks too much, smokes weed, and happens to be the one who discovers Katy's bloody body. Lily says she's innocent, but her story changes depending on who's asking the questions. And she seems oddly indifferent after the murder, showing little emotion, kissing her boyfriend, and performing an inappropriate cartwheel while waiting to be interrogated.

DuBois's story is told from multiple perspectives, giving us multiple versions of the same events. For example, Beatriz Carrizo (the woman Lily and Katy were living with in Buenos Aires) tells the police how Lily laughed when learning of her husband's depression. But when we see the same scene from Lily's perspective, we discover that the laughter came before Beatriz told her about the depression - Mr. Carrizo had come home drunk the night before, and Lily was laughing to let Beatriz know that she wasn't bothered by the drunkenness, that i was no big deal, and nothing to worry about. Once Beatriz mentioned her husband's depression, there was no more laughter.

This may sound like a very small and unimportant detail, but the point of this novel is that appearances can be deceiving. The police use things like Lily's inappropriate laughter to build their case against her. She laughed at a man's depression. She had sex with the guy next door. She did a cartwheel at the police station. She flirted with her boyfriend after the murder. She wrote snarky things about Katy in text messages. She must be guilty.

We see things from Lily's perspective, from her boyfriend's, from her father's, her mother's, and her sister's, and from the prosecuting attorney's. The only one who knows the truth, of course, is Katy, and we never get her perspective. There are hints that she and Lily didn't get along, that she might have been sleeping with Lily's boyfriend, that she might have had a secret lover, and that she might not be the super-nice girl next door she appeared to be. But that's all we get.

The problem with CARTWHEEL is twofold. First, because it's based on the Knox case, there's really no suspense. We know from the start what will happen to Lily at her trial, and what will happen two years after that. And because DuBois tries so hard to remain true to the original case (where there is still some doubt as to what really happened to the victim), we never really learn how and why Katy was killed. Did Lily participate in her murder? Maybe. Was she completely innocent? Maybe. Who knows?

The second problem is how slow and dreary the novel is, with its smug, self-absorbed characters that all sound exactly alike. None of them are likeable, with the possible exception of Lily's father, who seems overwhelmingly out of his element in this group of disagreeable dolts. The overall point (sort of a "don't judge a book by its cover" thing) is hammered into our heads with such unrelenting force that it's impossible to miss. As Lily's sister says, "She's always been weird," and DuBois wants to be clear that while weird might get you arrested, it doesn't prove you've killed your roommate. If only the police and the prosecutor would get with the program.

I didn't enjoy reading this novel. It was a rather dismal slog through the minds of some people I'd rather not know. None of them were particularly believable, and I found myself not really caring whether Lily is guilty or not. I was a bit more interested in Katy, the one character whose story is never really told. But not enough to wish for a sequel. The Amanda Knox case is an interesting one (and Knox was accused of doing a cartwheel at the police station, although she denied it), but DuBois goes to some lengths to assert that her book was only "loosely inspired" by the Knox case. This would have been a much better novel had the inspiration been even looser, so that DuBois felt free to craft her story as a genuine murder mystery, with characters we might actually care about. As it is, it's an overly-long, rather tedious read.

Eucerin Diabetics' Dry Skin Relief Body Creme, 8 Ounce
Eucerin Diabetics' Dry Skin Relief Body Creme, 8 Ounce
Price: $7.99
3 used & new from $7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent skin cream -- non-oily, odorless, and it works!, February 9, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have very dry hands and continuing problems with eczema, and it's hard to find a lotion that absorbs quickly, isn't greasy, and doesn't broadcast its presence with cloying odor. The Eucerin Diabetics' Dry Skin Relief Body Cream meets all of my criteria. I've used it every day for a week now, and my hands are noticeably smoother and softer. They aren't itching as much, either (which is a great bonus).

The cream is advertised for diabetics, so I had my husband try it for a week as well. He has had diabetes for about 15 years now, and he's tried a number of products for help with his dry, cracked feet and legs. He says this cream is the best he's tried -- his feet are looking and feeling much better after just this first week.

If you're suffering with dry and cracked skin, this body cream is an excellent choice. I'll certainly be buying it from here on out. Highly recommended.

Luckiest Girl Alive: A Novel
Luckiest Girl Alive: A Novel
by Jessica Knoll
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.63

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, devastating, real -- a gripping read, February 2, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Jessica Knoll's LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE reads like a mash-up of Curtis Sittenfeld's PREP and anything by Gillian Flynn. Twenty-eight-year-old narrator Ani FaNelli is living what she thinks is the perfect life - "cool job, impressive zip code, hungry body, and the kicker - dreamboat fiancé." But from the first page, when she imagines plunging a steel blade into husband-to-be Luke Harrison, it's clear that whatever she exhibits to the world around her, something inside Ani is dark and broken and desperate. Because something happened to Ani when she was a freshman at Bradley, an exclusive Philadelphia prep school. Back then she was TifAni FaNelli, from the suburbs, with dreams of fitting in with the old-moneyed crowd at Bradley. Like Lee Fiora in PREP, TifAni makes a lot of bad decisions in her first few months at Bradley, but what ultimately happens is horrifying and beyond her control. Even so, the events of 2001 are what define Ani in 2014 - however she appears to Luke and her friends, in many ways she is still a fourteen-year-old girl struggling to make sense of a horror she can't escape.

It's difficult to like adult Ani, who narrates the novel with heavy doses of snark and bitterness. She's obsessed with her weight (she's desperate to fit into a size 0 dress for her rehearsal dinner), with wearing the right designer clothes (the wrong ones can peg her as a phony), with using the right words ("nice to see you" is right; "nice to meet you" is wrong), and with cultivating a life where she seems cool and self-possessed and comfortable and always in control, even when she never is. The problem is, it's exhausting trying to keep up with this image of herself. And even before I knew what had happened to her back in 2001, I saw Ani as an angst-ridden, over-aged teenager playing high school games to impress the competition.

Once the truth comes out - and it comes out very slowly - Ani's behavior makes sense. Knoll reveals Ani's story through a number of flash-backs, in which she describes the party that almost undid her, the friends who betrayed her, and the "incident" that forever defined her as both a victim and a villain. She did things back then that she can't put behind her, and things were done to her that she can't get past. In the novel, Ani is offered a chance to participate in a documentary being made about the incident at Bradley back in 2001 - she will have an opportunity to tell her side of the story. Luke isn't crazy about the idea (he would prefer she never talk about what happened back then), but Ani is convinced this is her one chance to finally move beyond what happened. She wants to look perfect on film, thin and gorgeous with Luke's gigantic rock on her finger demonstrating how perfect her life has turned out, in spite of what happened - after all, success is the best revenge, right? But has Ani really been successful? Is her life anywhere close to perfect? And is there any hope for her romance with Luke when she can hardly stand the sight of him?

Ultimately, LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE is about how hard it is to know ourselves in a world that's all about appearances and one-upping each other. Ani is convinced that a lot of money, an impressive job, and a blue blood fiancé are the things she needs to protect her from the horrors of the world. If everybody envies her, if they believe she has it all, she will no longer be either a victim or a pariah. But what she learns is that there is no protection from the reality of what really happens to us. Ani wants to move beyond her own tragedy without ever really seeing it for what it was, without ever owning her own role in it. And that's what haunts her.

I found myself drawn into this novel in ways that were intensely personal. While I couldn't identify with Ani's chic, moneyed lifestyle (I have never heard of many of the designers she covets, and her obsession with thinness and money are definitely off-putting), I did understand what it feels like to be a teenager who's an outsider - things haven't changed all that much since I was fourteen and trying to fit in. Ani tries to be someone she isn't, because she can't come to terms with who she really is. And that's something all of us can identify with. This is a sad, devastating story of a young woman's coming of age, a coming-of-age that has been delayed for thirteen years.

This is a brilliantly written novel with an identifiable if unlikable narrator who proves in the end that it is possible to take charge of your own life, even in the face of a cold and uncaring world. Growing up isn't easy for any of us. Ani takes a while to get it right, but she does get it right. I highly recommend LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE.

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20