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Posts Tagged ‘fiction’

n300878Last week amid the chaos of boxes I found some time to read a new book Mercury in Retrograde by Paula Froelich. It was a good break.

Here’s the synopsis: Three women brought together at 148 Sullivan (the author’s actual address) by a series of unfortunate events. Penelope Mercury  is a resident in the building who quits her job as a door-stepping reporter at a tabloid called the New York Telegraph. Lena “Lipstick” Lippencrass, a socialite, moves into the building after getting cut off by her father. And Dana Gluck, a corporate lawyer, takes the penthouse after her investment banker husband leaves her for a Russian model.

When fate conspires to have these three very different women move into the same SoHo apartment building, they soon discover that having their carefully planned lives fall to pieces might be the best thing that could have ever happened to them.

I love the premise the author lays out  in the introduction, “When Mercury spins directly between the Earth and Sun–a condition that astrologers call “Mercury in Retrograde”–it appears to the untrained eye looking through a telescope to be hurtling backward. But, in fact, it’s moving at the same pace it always does, approximately three times faster than Earth. It’s your perspective that shifts…”

Honestly, it was a relief to read about how others lives are spinning out of control when mine feels a little chaotic right now. It brought a needed comedic relief. It fits in the chic lit genre, but wasn’t as predictable as most chic lit novels are.  Of course, you know everything it going to end up all right in the end…because it always does.

Each of the characters makes her own journey in the story. All of them have been living up to the expectations of others and seeking approval in some way or another. For Penelope she’ll stand in a blizzard knocking on doors to get a story for the newspaper she works at all in an effort to get a promotion. Dana, although recently divorced, still feels the pressure her ex-husband put on her to skinny, to be pregnant from her family, and her own striving to be the youngest partner at the law firm she works at. As for Lipstick her world is ordered by what high society deems presentable, appropriate, and necessary…her goal to be #1 on SocialStatus.com.

Overall, I enjoyed the story. It was quite comical at times especially since Froelich masked some real-life characters. There’s the mayor who gets caught in a prostitute ring and a teen diva who makes a fool of herself at a gala ball (she sounds like a mix between Miley Cyrus and Lindsay Lohan). There were a few more obvious references but I can’t remember them right now, but you could definitely figure out who’s who.

A fun read. And I love the cover art on this one!

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u1_kitrunner I found a new favorite.

At first glance The Kite Runnerattracted me because this area of the world has been highlighted in recent years. The last decade really. It’s not just foreign because of citizenship, but that whole region is like a secret. A little secluded island set away from the world with traditions, languages, and songs different from any I’ve known. It’s been cloaked from the world like a woman in her burqa, hidden from view for all except its own countrymen.

Then, there’s the humanity and realtiy of the story. From the beginnig you know where it is headed. Maybe not line and verse, but you know the story is not without troubles and war looms in its future tangling itself among the characters.

It’s like watching a car accident after its been pulled to the side of the road, surrounded by police officers and an ambulance. You can’t help  yourself. You slow to look. Intrigued. But at the same time you can’t help but wonder if someone was injured, knowing with most certainty someone is. You hope no one’s hurt, but you just can’t look away.

That’s what it was like watching Amir. I couldn’t believe the things he did (or rather didn’t do) and his inner demons. But I couldn’t look away. I wanted to see how it ended. (I had to restrain myself from peeking at the final pages.)

Which brings me to the humanity of the story. It revealed human nature–the desire for love and acceptance, it revealed disappointment and cowardice as it weaved itself through the darkness of man. It opened up hope in the form of love and restoration in sacrifice.

It was a story of father and son, two friends as close as brothers, betrayal, death, war, and loyalty. In some ways I believe The Kite Runneris more about faith than anything else, but then I hear Hassan say, “for you a thousand times over” and know it is a story of friends tied by loyalty and sacrifice in completely different ways.

As Rahim Kahn said, “There is a way to be good again.”

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6a00c2252c91b0f21900e398ac92a60003-500piI was book browsing last week at the library and feeling the need for a little pick me up and came across The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella. Now, I didn’t love Confessions of a Shopaholic (see my review here), but I wasn’t turned off of Kinsella as a author. The Undomestic Goddess sounded like a fun read and it was.

I enjoyed Samantha Sweeting so much more than Becky Bloomwood, but that’s just me.

Here’s the synopsis:

Workaholic attorney Samantha Sweeting has just done the unthinkable. She’s made a mistake so huge, it’ll wreck any chance of a partnership. (We’re talking $50 million dollar big!)

Going into utter meltdown, she walks out of her London office, gets on a train, and ends up in the middle of nowhere. Asking for directions at a big, beautiful house, she’s mistaken for an interviewee and finds herself being offered a job as housekeeper. Her employers have no idea they’ve hired a lawyer–and Samantha has no idea how to work the oven. She can’t sew on a button, bake a potato, or get the #@%# ironing board to open. How she takes a deep breath and begins to cope–and finds love–is a story as delicious as the bread she learns to bake.

But will her old life ever catch up with her? And if it does…will she want it back?

It’s the same basic chick lit plot, but I think where I was pulled in is when Samantha runs away and starts living. I know when things seem to be melting down all around me that’s what I want to do. Of course, there’s the classic “Am I going to get caught?” and the silliness of Sam not knowing how to use a washing machine (does she get her underwear dry cleaned too?), but where the realism is for me is her growth.

She grows from being so concerned with success as a lawyer and pleases everyone to enjoying life, making real friends, and having a moment to herself. She begins to appreciate life and living. Plus, I loved the romance aspect.

It was a fun, quick (just a few hours), and entertaining read. After this I think I’m going to give Becky Bloomwood another try…maybe the rest of the Shopaholic series will grow on me. Maybe.

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Since I was a little girl, I have loved the idea of mermaids whether it was watching them in a movie (can we say Splash or The Little Mermaid?), Jacket.aspxhaving mermaid hair, or playing mermaids with friends in the pool. Needless to say, I would have loved The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler (and series) when I was in upper elementary and middle school.

It was a fun, captivating read–it is about a 7th grade girl who finds out she’s half-mermaid. I mean, c’mon, that’s pretty cool.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It’s a fun story, but the ending resolution came awfully quick. After painting Neptune, the king of the merpeople, as a hard, heartless man–I mean, merman he was very quick to have a change of heart. Too quick, in my opinion.

Other than that it was fun. I’d read the other books in the series just to see what happens to the Windsnap family.

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glass-time-michael-cox-hardcover-cover-artI found this book browsing through my library’s new books and thought I might as well give it a try. I doubted whether I’d finish it or, tell you the truth, if I’d even start it. You know how you check books out from the library and they stay on your shelf until it’s time to return them? That often happens in my house.

But not The Glass of Time.

Once I started I was pretty much hooked. It was that good. Usually when I read a long book (this one’s 583 pages)I find there are lulls in the story and my attention. Sometimes I skim or even skip ahead (I’ll confess!), but The Glass of Time had a tight grip on my attention. I didn’t want to miss anything! The slightest detail could reveal a clue into the mystery.

Here’s the synopsis:

The Glass of Time s a page turning period mystery about identity, the nature of secrets, and what happens when past obsessions impose themselves on an unwilling present. In the autumn of 1876, nineteen year-old orphan Esperanza Gorst arrives at the great country house of Evenwood to become a lady’s maid to the twenty-sixth Baroness Tansor. But Esperanza is no ordinary servant. She has been sent by her guardian, the mysterious Madame de l’Orme, to uncover the secrets that her new mistress has sought to conceal, and to set right a past injustice in which Esperanza’s own life is bound up. At Evenwood she meets Lady Tansor’s two dashing sons, Perseus and Randolph, and finds herself enmeshed in a complicated web of seduction, intrigue, deceit, betrayal, and murder.

Last week I said it reminded me of a Dicken’s novel and it still does, but even with the similarities to Dicken’s this novel stands on its own. There were twists and turns, the unexpected, and an increasing cast of characters who all play a vital role. That’s one thing I love about Dicken’s he’s all of his characters are so intricately woven into the plot that you couldn’t spare even the smallest cameo.

The Glass of Time was definitely worth the late night reading. It’s characters and mysteries kept be eager to continue reading until all was resolved. If you like a well-thought mystery then you’re likely to enjoy this novel.

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6a00d09e4893e4be2b00cdf7ef2751094f-500piI finally picked up a copy of Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella, mostly so I could see the movie. Which sounds kind of lame, but I like to read the book before I see an adaptation. Just me.

Let me just say this: painful.

That’s what it was for me. It starts out as a fun little story about Becky Bloomwood a woman with a mediocre job as a finance journalist with an obsession for anything carrying a price tag. Harmless, right? I mean, come on, it’s fiction. It’s not like it’s real or anything.

But from my squirming reactions, you’d think it was. It was so painful to see Ms. Bloomwood make purchase after purchase with maxed out credit cards. Maybe I’m a little crazy, but I grew-up in a family that operated debt-free and potential purchases were always met with the question, “Do you really need that?” My husband and I also live debt-free, so to think of the real-life ramifications of owing thousands of dollars to credit card companies for things you don’t need is just a bit unnerving.

Other than the obvious financial frivoliousity, which is noted in the book’s tagline “Going broke was never this much fun,” Confessions of a Shopaholic meets the standards of chick lit. Girl has problem, girl meets boy, girl goes through a series of trials, boy and girl hook-up, everything ends happy.

I do wish that there were a few more confessions other than the heroines shopping woes, say her onslaught of lies? Really, is there no responsibility left even in fiction? Shouldn’t she have to “man-up,” so to speak, and face her friends and family with the truth?

I know it’s fiction, but geez can’t we get some resolution past the inevitable boy-meets-girl happy ending?

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jane-austen-004These days there seems to be a neverending stream of Jane Austen fan fiction. Even though Jane Austen finished her six novels well over a century ago, the options for more of Austen’s character’s and romance presses on from Shannon Hale’s Austenland: A Novel to Pride & Prejudice & Zombies and Jane Austen Ruined My Life. It seems Austenites can never get enough!

I’ve made this my year to finish reading Jane Austen’s complete works. Emma is the only novel I have left to read and I’m halfway through with it and with one Austen biography down and another to go I’m on my way to meet that goal.

With some many sequels to Austen’s novels as well as a plethora of stories whose heroines find their own Mr. Darcy among their obsession you’re bound to find a few that miss the mark (or at least for yourself), can we say Me & Mr. Darcy? To my surprise I’ve actually enjoyed the two novels I’ve come across this year: Austenland by Shannon Hale and Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Rigler. hi08_janeausten_1

I’ve yet to read The Jane Austen Book Club and I haven’t seen the movie, although the previews have turned me off a bit. Why? I guess it just seems so predictable, but really what Austen fan fiction isn’t going to be?

I have come across a few novels that I’m interested in reading:

What Would Jane Austen Do?, by Laurie Brown

Jane Austen Ruined My Life, by Beth Pattilo

The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, by Syrie James

If you’ve read any of these I’d love to know what you thought of them.

Oh…and between you and me, I’m thinking of joining JASNA when we move to Louisville. Of course, that’d be the Jane Austen Society of North America. It seems Louisville has a pretty active chapter. Then I’ll be a card carrying member! Eek!

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