Friday, October 30, 2009


Admission, by Jean Hanff Korelitz.

The flight from Newark to Hartford took no more than fifty-eight minutes, but she still managed to get her heart broken three times. This was a feat at once pathetic and, bizarrely, something of an underachievement, Portia thought making a painful note on the reader's card of an academically unadmittable Rhode Island girl and shoving the folder back into her bag. Any of her colleagues, she thought ruefully, might have had their hearts broken by twice as many applicants in the same amount of time.

Admission grabs its reader from the first sentence on, and doesn't let go until the very end. The prose is so detailed that it took me a while to read this book, but I have to say that I was glad I stuck it out. Portia, the main character, is an admissions officer at Princeton, and she has had this career for the past sixteen years. She has also been living with her partner (but not husband), Mark, for the same time span. The novel follows her through an especially taxing admissions season, and the ending (and plot points revealed throughout) was surprising, but satisfying.

4 stars out of 5.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

True Colors

True Colors, by Kristin Hannah.

Loss like theirs should leave a mark - summer grass gone suddenly brown, dark clouds that refused to leave, a tree split by lightning. Something.

This is the first book I've read by Hannah - she has written a few others - and it was very good. The book tells the story of the Grey sisters, who lose their mother at an early age to cancer; it starts at this point in time, in the '70s and follows them all the way through 2007 and 2008. The dialogue, characters, and setting are all great, and I enjoyed reading this novel.

4.5 stars out of 5.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Intensely Alice

Intensely Alice, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.

Naylor has written 120+ books, and one of the series she writes is the Alice series, which I have been reading for a long time. Alice "tells it like it is", which is one of the reasons I like her as a character, but in this book, she seems more naive then usual. I don't know if the reason I think this is because I'm more grown-up now than I was in middle and high school when I was reading the series, or what, but in this novel she is approaching her senior year of high school and still has a sense of naivete.

Still, the Alice series is a good read overall, and this book was no exception. Naylor does tackle some serious subjects, such as religion, sex, and "politics", to an extent, and perhaps she is trying to get rid of some of Alice's naivete that has followed her up until now.

3 stars out of 5.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Hope in a Jar

Hope in a Jar, by Beth Harbison.

One of the reasons I don't usually buy books is that I read too quickly ... this book is 340 pages and I finished it in 1 day, about the span of 12 hours or less. Probably about 2-3 hours total. I am a big fan of Harbison's books - try reading Secrets of a Shoe Addict or Shoe Addicts Anonymous, also by her, and you'll see why - and this one did not disappoint. A breezy, fun, chick lit novel that I definitely enjoyed.

4 stars out of 5.

Secrets to Happiness

Secrets to Happiness, by Sarah Dunn.

This book was hilariously written, and was interesting to read. There were a few paragraphs at which I laughed out loud. Here's one example of this:

Holly's mother Fiona called her once a week, usually on Friday afternoons, before she left for her mahjongg game but after she came home from MOPS. Holly wasn't one hundred percent sure what MOPS was, except that it involved church and small children and gave her mother a chance to rail against all these crazy parents these days indulging their kids with made-up peanut allergies and nonsense about choking hazards and things that can fit through toilet-paper tubes. If it were up to Fiona, she'd lock the MOPS toddlers in the church basement with a big batch of peanut butter cookies and a sack full of marbles and see who managed to make it out alive. Still, volunteering made her feel good.

The ending of the novel was a little crazy, but still believable, and I definitely enjoyed the novel overall.

4 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Last Song

The Last Song, Nicholas Sparks.

There's a reason why four of Nicholas Sparks' books have been made into movies - they are just THAT good. Granted, I have read almost all of his books, save for the one he wrote with his brother, so I am a bit biased, but I thought that this book was as good as all of his previous ones, and could definitely be made into a movie as well.

Ronnie (Veronica) is in North Carolina for the summer visiting her father, and as a New York City girl, she is not happy to be there. She then meets Will, however, who turns out to be her first love, and summer seems to be looking up; until she finds out a secret her father has been keeping from her. The ending itself was bittersweet, but Ronnie's ending is overall happy, if that makes any sense.

4.5 stars out of 5.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Swoon, by Nina Malkin.

I don't know what to classify this story as - certainly not a "ghost story," but it's more than just a possession story too - but it was entertaining. Dice (short for Candice) has just moved to Connecticut from New York City to live in Swoon, the same town that her cousin, Pen (Penelope), and her family live. Dice's parents still live in the city, since both of their jobs are there, but they commute home to live with her on weekends. Pen has a near-fatal fall from a tree, and she "must have died for a second," because Sin (Sinclair), a soul from the past, comes to reside in her body. He's not there ALL the time, mind you, but when Pen's normally blue eyes turn black, it is him who is occupying her. Sin realizes that she must exorcise Sin from Pen's body, but there's a problem: she's in love with him.

Interesting premise, and unlike anything I've ever read before. Here's some lines from the novel that I liked:

(a descriptive phrase-->) "In reality, I curled away like a croissant ..."
"Not to get all Pinocchio about it, but could Sinclair Youngblood Powers be turning into a real boy?"

The narrator is at times sarcastic (see above) and definitely too trusting of people - she lets Sin give her the recipe for his OWN exorcism, which actually makes him into a "real boy" - flesh and blood - though admittedly does get him out of Pen's body.

4 stars out of 5.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

That Old Cape Magic

That Old Cape Magic, by Richard Russo.

I read a great review of this book in People magazine, and immediately wanted to read it. Unfortunately, since I was moving out about a week later, I couldn't request it at the Ann Arbor library; so, a month or so after that, I got it from the WB library, and just finished reading it today.

I had never read any of Russo's novels before but this one was very good. I'm a big fan of Massachusetts (having been born there ...) and I like reading about the Cape. The novel follows Jack Griffin (who goes by plain "Griffin" most of the time) throughout his life, and throws in two very dysfunctional families in the process. He cannot get over his own parents, both dead; he was a screenwriter, but now is a college professor; and he and his wife have recently separated. Griffin is a likable main character, and by the end of the novel, after scattering his parents' ashes, he comes full circle.

My favorite line from the novel:
"Happiness sucks as a spectator sport, darlin'."

Very true. The novel also had its funny moments, which made me laugh out loud, and it was a good blend of humor and seriousness.

4.5 stars out of 5.

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