Friday, June 8, 2012

Summer Reading List: Groove and Bitter

It's Friiiiiiiiiday!

I'm spending the day doing laundry (yay!) so that I can pack tomorrow.  My original plan as to do a majority of the packing today but you know what?  Don't see that happening.  We're leaving on Sunday morning.  This morning K1, who is easily the most excited of all my kids, did his "two day dance."  He can't wait to go see his family and, of course, Barack Obama and Abraham Lincoln . . .

A couple books from this past week:

How Stella Got Her Groove Back by Terry McMillan - I have read several Terry McMillan books and really enjoyed them (favorite: A Day Late and a Dollar Short).  My only real complaint with her is that she tends to talk down on white people on occasion and, well, WHITE PERSON.  I understand that I'm not her target audience though.  Anyway.  Stella is one of the few McMillan books I'd yet to read so I gave it a go this week. 

If you're not aware - and I think most people are since it was made it a movie and all - the book is the story of Stella, a 40-something from San Francisco who goes to Jamaica to have fun and "do her" for a few days. While there, she meets and falls in love with a 20-year-old Jamaican man named Winston. Half the book is her whining about how young he is and the other half is her rambling about something that makes absolutely zero sense to the plot.

Y'all.  This book is a total snoozer.  The only way I was even able to finish it is because we took a Tennessee River Run on Sunday and, being in the car for about five round-trip hours, meant I had tons of time to read.  (Side note: does anyone else find that e-readers, iBooks, and Kindles make it so much easier to read in the car?  I get queasy if I read a regular book in the car but it doesn't bother me to read an iBook  Weird).  It also helped that I could visualize Winston and Taye Diggs.  I'm not sure if I found the book so boring because it actually IS boring or if it's because we know the outcome.  It was partly based on McMillan's own romance and, well, said romance went up in flames.  Not only did it go up in flames but the man Winston was based upon turned out to be gay and McMillan claimed he used her to gain citizenship.  Ai yi yi.  So much for a great story.

The thing is, though, the character of Stella rambles on too much and about things that have nothing to do with the story, nor do they help to develop her character any further.  I skimmed over entire pages because it was, like, seriously? She's rambling AGAIN?  It was just a boring book.  I can understand why they made it into a movie because the basic plot is great.  It just could've - and should've - been hashed out so much better.

Bitter is the New Black: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smartass, Or, Why You Should Never Carry a Prada Bag go the Unemployment Office by Jen Lancaster - I LOVE Jen Lancaster.  I love her.  I kinda want to BE her. (Or at least have her shoe collection).  She is funny and sarcastic and irreverent.  And - best of all - she owns who she is (just look at the title of this book!).  She also reminds me - a lot - of my friend Jenn B.  An annony noter left me the recommendation a couple weeks ago to read her books in order.  In my head, I know this is a good idea but I tend to get caught up in covers and descriptions sometimes.  I read Such a Pretty Fat a few weeks ago and absolutely adored it but, now I'm going in order.  Believe it or not, Bitter is even BETTER than Pretty FatTo say it's a good read would be an understatement.
It's the (true!) story of Jen Lancaster's own journey through unemployment.  She begins the book with an infatuation with all things Dior and Prada and, even if you can't relate (Hi!  I own exactly two designer items: a Louis Vuitton that I bought in Belize and is probably a knock off because the chain on it broke after a few months.  And a Coach wristlet that came (new, with tags!) from Goodwill) you still love her for it.  She is admittedly bitchy and narcissistic but you can't help but like her -- and root for her.

Through out the course of the book she learns a lot of important lessons.  And, really, I think part of what makes the book enjoyable is that we've all been there.  If you're anywhere close to your 30's then you know there's been a time in your life when you had an "OMG, how am I going to pay my bills" moment while simultaneously kicking yourself for wasting (former) paychecks at the shoe department of your favorite department store.  (Which totes reminds me of the Carrie Bradshaw quote: "I like my money right where I can see it.  Hanging in my closet").

I don't think I can write enough good things about this book.  Just.  Start reading Jen Lancaster books.  And start with this one.  Thank me later.

P.S. Lancaster got her start by BLOGGING.  Awesome, huh?  She's kinda my hero.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Summer Reading List: Nannies, Cheaters, and Castaways

Let's talk some Book Nerd News for a minute here.

First off, I read an article yesterday that said Lauren Weisberger is writing a sequel to The Devil Wears Prada and it will be released next April.  Pardon me for a moment: SQUEEEEEE!  I love The Devil Wears Prada and it's one case where the movie based on the book did not completely suck.  I'm totally ready for more Andy and more Miranda.

Also, Jennifer Weiner's (she's my favorite!) newest is due out July 3rd.  It's called The Next Best Thing and, in reading the description, it sounds like it's the prequel to a short story she wrote in The Guy Not Taken.  I can't wait for it to come out!  I know a lot of people have been disillusioned by her last few books but guess what?  I'm NOT one of them.  I love her books!

Nanny Returns by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus - I read The Nanny Diaries a good decade ago and absolutely DEVOURED the book.  I loved it!  And, even though it more or less dealt with all the shitty things related to being a nanny, it made me want to pack my bags, move to New York City, and find a family to nanny for.  Maybe even a family that consisted of a couple of angelic children and a single dad.  A single dad that I would fall in love with and live happily ever after with.  Ahhhh.  Anyway.  I loved the book then they went and butchered it by turning it into a movie starring Scarlett Johansson. 

Obviously, since I really enjoyed the book, I was excited to get my hands on a copy of the sequel.  I sort of expected Nanny Returns to pick up where Diaries left off -- maybe Nan finds another family to provide childcare for, more adventures in nannying.  Yeah.  Not quite.  Nanny Returns picks up 12 years later.  Nan is married, newly moved back to NYC, working as a consultant, and hesitant about adding children to her family.  The X family comes back into her life and, just like in Diaries, she finds herself unable to say "no" to even the craziest of demands.  The book has a lot of twists and turns and, I suppose, a look into the lives of the New York City elite.  It was decent.  An easy enough read with a somewhat enjoyable plot line.  It just wasn't anywhere near as enjoyable as it's original. And I definitely don't see this one being made into a movie.

Something Blue by Emily Griffin - We all know how much I just LOVED Something Borrowed (totes sarcasm, FYI) so I had to pick up the sequel to see if Emily Griffin could redeem herself any at all.  And, you guys, she TOTALLY did.  This book was so so so so so so much better than Something BorrowedBlue is told from the voice of Darcy and, from the offset, she's just as manipulative, spoiled, selfish, and bitchy as in he first book.  As the book goes, though, she does become slightly more likeable (let me be real here for a minute, though, this was both predictable and unrealistic.  Predictable in that we know the character had to go through some sort of change of heart so that people will relate to her, actually like her, and be more into the book.  Unrealistic in that we ALL know people like Darcy Rhone and we all also know that they very rarely change).  I think Emily Griffin tried to set us up with a "twist" in Darcy's love interest but, seriously, I had it figured out by just a few pages into the book.

To give you a bit of a summary, Something Blue picks up right where Borrowed lets off.  Darcy is pregnant, "in love" with Marcus (we get a little more detail on the how and why they hooked up in the first place), and absolutely irate about Rachel and Dex and their deception.  Not too far into the book, she finds herself friendless, Marcus-less (totally not a spoiler, by the way, because - really - we all knew that wasn't going to last), and very much alone.  She takes off for London and, well, that's as much of a summary as Imma give ya!
Slight spoiler alert: I have a really, REALLY hard time believing that a woman would invite her former best friend that was sleeping with her finace while he was still engaged to her to her wedding to another man.  I have an even harder time believing that said former best friend would travel overseas with an infant in order to attend the nuptials.  Let's be real.  Notgonnahappen. End slight spoiler alert.

All in all, the book was much more enjoyable than the first -- not so one sided in the "she's a mean bitch and that makes it okay for me to steal her fiance" type of way.

The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand - I totally have a girl crush on Elin Hilderbrand.  Or, at the very least, on the books she writes.  This woman has SUCH a talent for being able to create likeable characters -- characters that, even though they do deplorable things, you find yourself rooting for and actually caring about.

The Castaways is the story of four couples who happen to be best friends.  One of the couples is killed while sailing and the remainder of the book deals with the grief the other couples experience -- as well as trying to discern what exactly happened as far as the accident.  The grief is real and tangible and, I guarantee you, you will find yourself totally and completely relating to at least one character in the book.

This isn't exactly what I'd call a beach read.  It takes place in Nantucket and all but it's way too heavy to be considered beach trash.  Also, one of the characters lost her brother in the 9/11 Attacks.  The chapter in which this was hashed out had me in tears -- and I was a 21-year-old college student in Texas, thousands of miles away from where the Attacks occurred.  I would imagine it would be extremely hard for anyone personally touched by the Attacks to read.