Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bright Young Things

Bright Young Things, by Anna Godbersen.

New York was the capital of commerce and joy, and young people sought us from every direction. They came in droves, to join the kind of party only a great metropolis can host. They came from wealthy families and farming families, from the north and south and west. They came to avoid kitchens and marriages, to a place where they could reasonably claim to be eighteen forever. Or for the foreseeable future, anyway, which seemed to us the same thing. They came, mostly, for the fun - especially the young things, especially the girls.
That is what I want to tell you about: the girls with their short skirts and bright eyes and big-city dreams.

The girls of 1929.

I really like Anna Godbersen's series "The Luxe," and so when I heard that she had started a new series, "Bright Young Things," I wanted to read the book, and it did not disappoint. While "The Luxe" was set in the turn of the century (late 1800s), this book is set in 1929, when Prohibition is still on and the world is changing quickly. Letty and Cordelia, two friends, decide to escape from their small town in Ohio and pursue their dreams in New York; Cordelia, however, is keeping a secret from Letty, which will be revealed when they arrive in the city.

The book was pretty good and I am looking forward to the next book in the series, Beautiful Days, of which apparently Godbersen has just finished a draft.

4 stars out of 5.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend), by Kody Keplinger.

Before crawling under my sheets, I took a glance at the full-length mirror across the room. I searched my reflection with new eyes, with new knowledge. Uncontrollable wavy auburn hair. A long nose. Big thighs. Small boobs. Yep. Definitely Duff material. How had I not known?

I mean, I'd never considered myself particularly attractive, and it wasn't hard to see that Casey and Jessica, both thin and blond, were gorgeous, but still. The fact that I played the role of the ugly girl to their luscious duo hadn't occurred to me. Thanks to Wesley Rush, I could see it now.

Sometimes it's better to be clueless.

This was one of the best YA books I've read in a while, and the 19-year-old author (who was 18 when she wrote and published it) puts my lazy 24-year-old creative writing self to shame in terms of productiveness. I saw the book in a bookstore a while back, but because books are expensive (and I read them far too quickly) I put a hold on it at the library and it finally came in for me this week.

The book follows Bianca, who hangs out with Casey and Jessica, both of whom are very pretty. One day when she and her friends are out at a dance club, Wesley, the school hottie (but also manwhore) comes up to her and starts talking to her, since he wants to eventually sleep with one of her friends. He calls her a DUFF and when she learns what it means, she is not happy, to say the least. Bianca is having a lot of family problems at home, too, and Wesley keeps talking to her, so one day she basically throws herself at him; the real fun starts, however, when he kisses her back.

I read a lot of YA books but I liked how "real" Bianca felt. We've all felt like the DUFF at some point in our lives, I'm sure, but she really took the word to heart, and it was only later that she confronted Wesley about it, since he calls her "Duffy" throughout the whole novel.

I look forward to Keplinger's next novel, Luststruck, which will be released this fall, according to her blog.

4 stars out of 5.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Confession

The Confession, by John Grisham.

Now we're getting somewhere, Keith thought. The burden of unconfessed sin. The shame of buried guilt. "It would be helpful if you told me about these bad things. Confession is the best place to start."

"And this is confidential?"

"For the most part, yes, but there are exceptions."

"What exceptions?"

"If you confide in me and I believe you're a danger to yourself or to someone else, then the confidentiality is waived. I can take reasonable steps to protect you or the other person. In other words, I can go get help."

"Sounds complicated."

"Not really."

"Look, Pastor, I've done some terrible things, but this one has nagged at me for many years now. I gotta talk to someone, and I got no place else to go. If I told you about a terrible crime that I committed years ago, you can't tell anyone?"

John Grisham is one of my favorite storytellers, especially for legal thrillers, and he does not disappoint in this novel. I can definitely see this being made into a movie, as the writing is so taut and exciting.

Travis Boyette just got out of jail and is living in a halfway house in Kansas. He has an inoperable brain tumor and expects to die within the year. Back in 1998, nine years ago, he killed and raped a girl in Texas, and the wrong man was arrested for the crime, to which the man confessed. Now, that man - Donte Drumm - is awaiting his execution on death row in a few days. Travis goes to a pastor, Keith, in Kansas, and confesses this to him, and later Keith agrees to drive him to Texas - technically breaking Travis's parole conditions - so he can confess and try to stop the execution.

As with all of John Grisham's books, this one was very well done, and you can tell that he used to be a lawyer because of all the technical terms and knowledge displayed in the book. Although the book is a length 400 pages or so, I flew through it in about two days, because it was so good, and I hope that they DO option it as a movie sometime soon.

4.5 stars out of 5.

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