Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Entertaining Disasters

Entertaining Disasters, by Nancy Spiller.

Garlic made us interesting, if only to ourselves, set us apart from our neighbors whose houses held no special odors, were nothing more than common shelter for their benign, boring, blank breath. And when this mother became another mother and stopped making her garlic dip and her garlic bread, stopped putting out the damask tablecloth and using the good crystal and china, we remembered her garlic recipes, made them and tasted them in our minds.

This book was interesting in that at the end of each chapter, a recipe was revealed. In addition, the book was mainly conversation-less, leaving us only with the main character's "voice," who was both dry and witty, and would be someone I'd want to be friends with if she was real. She tells us about her childhood and how food was a major part of it, and how that then changed when her mother slowly went nutsy; and how now, she is an established food writer, but most of her parties that she has written about are fake.

The end of the book slows down a bit, but other than that, it moves steadily throughout.

4 stars out of 5.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Dirty Little Secrets

Dirty Little Secrets, by C.J. Omololu.

I loved the glazed, faraway look people got as they glanced at you with a smile that faded as they quickly realized they didn't know you - their eyes scanned your face and, without a flicker of recognition, moved on to the next person. You were a factor in their life for a nanosecond and then you were gone.

This novel was about Lucy, whose mother was a "hoarder" - she refused to throw practically anything out, and as a result, their house is a mess. Lucy is careful to always go over her friend Kaylie's house and never allow friends or neighbors over to hers, but when she comes home and find her mother dead one day, the game is up. Lucy decides to call 911 in a few days, when she has time to clean up the mess, so that she won't forever be thought of as "Garbage Girl" - at her last school, a Catholic prep school, once one of her former friends had found out her secret, they had started to call her this.

The ending of this book was a little shocking, but I suppose it was still a valid way to end the book. I had never realized that hoarding was an actual disease - the author of this book has done research with an organization called the Children of Hoarders. I tend to collect a lot of things - the U.S. state coins, old memorabilia from high school, etcetera - but luckily I am not a COMPULSIVE hoarder like Lucy's mom was.

3 stars out of 5.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Art of French Kissing

The Art of French Kissing, by Kristin Harmel.

"Emma," Brett said slowly, as if talking to a child or someone whose mental comprehension was in question. "I thought you told me you were coming home."

I looked out at the darkened silhouette of the Eiffel Tower and felt a sense of calm settle over me. "I know," I said. "I think I
am home."

Emma Sullivan is about to marry her boyfriend of three years, Brett - until he dumps her and then kicks her out of the home they share. She then gets fired from her PR job the next day, and it turns out that there aren't many other PR opportunities in Orlando, where she lives. She then gets lucky and receives a job offer from an old friend, Poppy, who is working in Paris to promote a new rock star's first album. While there, she finds happiness, and also love, and learns that maybe what she had before wasn't what she was looking for after all.

Kristin Harmel's books are always very cute and very readable - I devoured this book in less than a day. As she did in When in Rome, she plunks a character down in a foreign city where the character has only been once, and that person learns not only how to thrive there, but has fun in the process. The characters are hilarious and relatable, and there are always twists thrown in near the end as well.

4 stars out of 5.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Tangled, by Carolyn Mackler.

As I waited for her to burst through the door, I wondered whether this was it. My big break. The thing that'll finally make everything better.

Carolyn Macker's books are generally interesting, but this one was particularly so because she broke the book up into four parts, with each of the main characters having their own section. The events and people in each section intersected, however, which is what made it so interesting. Jena, Dakota, Skye, and Owen are all very different people, but their lives intersect when they meet in Paradise (a Caribbean resort). Jena and Dakota hook up; he then dumps her for Skye, who isn't really interested; and Owen doesn't want to be there at all, and spends most of his time on his laptop in the business center. The story continues on after their April week in Paradise, however, and each character tells their story in a different month, up until July.

It was a little disappointing that each character only got 1/4 of the book for us to "get inside their heads," but I did like how all the storylines intersected, for the most part.

3 stars out of 5.

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