Sunday, September 30, 2007

Bright Lights, Big Ass by Jen Lancaster

This book is a bit of a follow up to the author's first memoir, Bitter is the New Black.

Bright Lights, Big Ass by Jen Lancaster
382 pages
Finished 9/29/07

I don't really like to use the 5 star rating that often, because there aren't many books that I find "amazing." I was a little reluctant to use it for this book, because I don't want to imply that it's literary genius or anything - I just thought it was a really funny book that I was able to lose myself in for a few hours. I think this is the only book that I can actually say I laughed out loud reading...and I did it while I was reading in bed, and I had to stifle the laugh so David wouldn't hear me and think I am crazy (or, crazier).

The book is basically a collection of essays about her life. She adds in her two cents to everything and includes witty footnotes. This will never be called great literature, but it's amusing and really light-hearted. Jen Lancaster is someone that I could see being friends with - she's funny, smart, and likes to drink. :) The only downside is that she's a Republican. Can't win 'em all, huh?

I give it five stars.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Guy Not Taken by Jennifer Weiner

I figured this would be a quick read, but I didn't expect it to be that quick. I started reading this book last night after finishing Alias Grace, and finally made myself put it down with one story to go last night.

The Guy Not Taken by Jennifer Weiner
279 pages
Finished 9/28/07

I actually waited quite awhile before purchasing this book. I loved the first book by this author, Good In Bed, but her last few novels were just yuck. This book is a collection a short stories, and I think they ranged from really, really good (Buyer's Market, The Mother's Hour) and just ok (Just Desserts, Travels with Nicki). My favorite story was by far The Mother's Hour - you could relate to the main character and her conflicting feelings.

I wasn't a huge fan of the title story, but I thought it was interesting to learn when reading A Conversation with Jennifer Weiner (at the back of the book) that the movie rights have already been bought for the story. I think it will make an interesting, chick flick movie, and it will be interesting to see who is chosen for the roles.

I give it three and a half stars.

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

I have been reading a lot of Margaret Atwood novels lately, and have found that they are hit or miss - I either LOVED them (The Handmaid's Tale, Oryx and Crake), or I HATED them (The Edible Woman). Luckily, this one falls into the former.

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
460 pages
Finished 9/27/07

Another great book from Margaret Atwood. I was a little confused at the beginning of the book, because I didn't know what it was about. A quick search of the Internet and I found that this is her spin on a true story of a murder in the 1800s. The beginning was a little slow, and I was a huge fan of the Dr. Jordan sub-storyline, but once it got to Grace telling her life story, I thought it was great. Very well written.

I also liked Atwood's interpretation of what happened to Grace after she was eventually released from prison. I find it fascinating that she disappeared as she did - she was essentially released from prison and there is no record of her since. It's a bit of food for thought - sure, that was possible in the 1870's, but now days? That could never happen. The Internet is a magical place.

I gave it four stars.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sept. 17 - 22

Whew, with these four books I am all caught up with the month of September.

The Book of Fred, by Abby Bardi
292 pages
Finished 9/17/07

I liked this book a lot. The characters were likable without being completely unrealistic, the book was well written (I especially liked that some of the narrative was written like a person would talk), and the book wasn't as predictable as I thought it would be. It was a nice story, and a great $1 find.

I gave it four stars.

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
235 pages
Finished 9/18/07

This was a fun, quirky little read. It is a very fast read. I was a little annoyed by the writing style (the jumping stories bothered me), but overall it was cute, and I liked the main character. I don't think I'll go out of my way to read the other books in the series, but if I see them at the local bookstore in the dollar bin, I'd definitely pick them up.

I gave it three stars.

Letters for Emily by Camron Wright
214 pages
Finished 9/18/07

I started out the first few chapters really liking the book (the storyline of the Grandpa with Alzheimer's was touching), until we actually got to the "letters for Emily." Then the book quickly turned into a James Patterson book - it was so much like Sam's Letters to Jennifer/Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas I wanted to gag. Way to cheesy and unrealistic for my liking. The ending was pretty out there, too. Blah.

I gave it one and a half stars.

From the Corner of His Eye by Dean Koontz
729 pages
Finished 9/22/07

I've read most of Dean Koontz's books, so I was excited to read this one, especially since I hadn't read one in awhile. It only let me down in one aspect - the summary written on the back of the book. I understand what they were going for, but I think it gave up WAY too much of the story. It wasn't until 3/4 of the way through the book that some of the things mentioned started to happen, and that was a bit of a bummer. Otherwise, I really liked it.

I gave it four stars.

Sept. 15 & 16

I went on a major reading binge the next few's the start...

How to Be Good by Nick Hornby
305 pages
Finished 9/15/07

Another Hornby book I found while looking for High Fidelity. These two books that I have read by Hornby are making me rethink my mission to find HF. Anyway, the main characters in this book were uninteresting and annoying, and I found that I didn't care for them at all. For the most part, I found myself skimming a lot of the book, hoping it would end. There were a couple parts that I actually that were very enjoyable, which gave me hope, but then it went back to it's wordiness. I had to force myself to finish it.

I gave it one and a half stars.

Mutation by Robin Cook
338 pages
Finished 9/16/07

I considered this book a nice, familiar read. You know what you are getting when you read a Robin Cook novel - they all seem to have the same formula, etc. It was a very fast read, and had a level of intrigue that I like - not so sure what's going to happen, but you know you'll get to it quickly.

I gave it three stars.

The Girl Who Talked to Ghosts by Dean C Young
322 pages
Finished 9/16/07

A true story about a family that purchases a house that was haunted. I found it at a used book store, and decided to buy it because it was only a dollar. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book was somewhat local - it takes place in Wisconsin, and all of the towns mentioned I am familiar with.

The story itself leaves something to be desired. The editing on the book is pretty bad - there are so many mistakes (particularly with quotations and paragraph indentation). It was a fast read - I read it while watching the Packers beat the Giants.

I gave it two stars.

Monday, September 24, 2007

3 More

About a Boy by Nick Hornby
307 pages
Finished 9/9/07

I actually picked up this book because I was looking for another book by the author (High Fidelity - I still haven't gotten it yet) and thought I'd read this one, since I liked the movie.
This is one of the few instances where I can say that I liked the movie better. I
think my biggest issue was the author's writing style - I just wasn't a fan.

I gave it two stars

The Saving Graces by Patricia Gaffney
394 pages
Finished 9/11/07

This was a nice, quick, easy book about 4 friends. It got a little cheesy at times, but was a very sweet story. It is very girly, and I have to be in the mood to read this type of book typically. I guess I was, because I didn't throw it down in disgust.

I gave it three stars

Hitler's Niece by Ron Hansen
306 pages
Finished 9/14/07

Historical fiction about Hitler and his relationship with his niece. I think I went into this book with too high of expectations. I had heard good things about the book, but I found it to be very slow moving, and at times really boring. It was very wordy and drawn out. The book definitely picked up about 3/4 of the way through but not enough that I can give it that good of a review.

I gave it two stars

First 2 Books

Lisey's Story by Stephen King.
653 pages
Finished 9/3/07

A typical Stephen King, but not his best. In true King form, he makes up his own words (and repeats them constantly), and has thoughts running all over the place. The novel went up and down for me - some parts were really interesting, and some parts I skimmed just to get through them.

I gave it three stars

The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld
269 pages
Finished 9/5/07

I didn't like it nearly as much as I liked Prep, the author's first novel. Like Prep, the main character in this book was completely unrelatable, but on top of that, she was pretty unlikable and unbelievable as well. The book was a very fast read, though - I started it just after 8 pm, and ended up staying up and reading it. I finished it just before 11 pm the same night.

I gave it two stars

Reviews and Stars

With each book that I read, I plan on putting a copy of the cover of the book in the blog (if I can find one, of course), along with a quick review and the number of stars I give it.

The stars go a little something like this:

0 star - So bad I didn't finish it
1 star - Didn't like it
2 star - It was ok
3 star - Liked it
4 star - Really liked it
5 star - It was amazing

Because I can't commit to just that basis, I'll also be adding half stars for funsies.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


I decided to create a blog about the books I have been reading. I have been on a reading tear so far this month (12 books so far, and I just started lucky #13), and since it seems like I forget about the books I read fairly quickly, I figured a blog would be a good way to help me keep track.

I already have a handy little spreadsheet that I put all of my books into (title, author, date read if I know it, ISBN #), but I thought this would be a more fun.

I'll start updating the books I read in September later - maybe tomorrow. There are a few. Hopefully once I get caught up I will remember to update more often - as soon as I finish each book.