Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Drunk, Divorced and Covered in Cat Hair

Drunk, Divorced and Covered in Cat Hair: The True-life Misadventures of a 30-something Who Learned to Knit After He Split by Laurie Perry

This one was recommended as a successful blog-turned-book and the title drew me in. Laurie Perry was semi-happy 33-year-old graphic designer living with her husband in Los Angeles. And then her husband left her and, well, that's where this memoir takes off. We get the requisite depressing chapters and the dating-after-divorce stories (especially interesting is the commentary Perry gives on dating in a tech world when she was married before email became a primary form of communication), but we also get funny insight into the life of a thirty-something woman looking for happiness. It was a quick read and there was enough humor to keep me interested.

The Secrets to Happiness

The Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn

I had high expectations based on the reviews and description of this novel set among the New York thirty-something dating scene, but The Secrets to Happiness fell very, very short of those expectations. The book revolves around Holly Frick, a 35-year-old recently divorced writer, and her circle of friends. The problem for me actually lied with the characters. Holly was perfectly likeable, but her friends were all flat and boring. And I didn't really see any change in Holly's character... there was a climax, but it wasn't all too exciting. With all the similar novels out there, I'd skip this one.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Talking to Girls About Duran Duran

Talking to Girls About Duran Duran: One Man's Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut by Rob Sheffield

Those who love music will likely recognize Sheffield's name from Rolling Stone. He's interviewed some of the most popular and acclaimed musicians and also had a hand in deciding which bands were given the (at least at one time important) RS stamp of approval with reviews. This memoir about the 80s (and 90s) is written in true magazine journalism style and is really more like 25 short stories that flow together. Anyone who grew up in the 80s or enjoyed that fascinating decade will laugh out loud throughout every story. Sheffield's humor and sharp eye for what made that decade so humorous are outstanding. I was just a small child in the 80s, but I still found myself relating to so many of the references. I enjoyed the book so much, I immediately ordered his first book Love is a Mix Tape.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Slow Love by Dominique Browning

It must be nice to be laid off and enjoy a year of self reflection with little worry about finding a new job. Of course, Browning does panic (a little) about finding a new job at the beginning of this memoir of the year after House & Garden magazine folds (she was Editor-in-Chief), but after one chapter the worry seems to leave as she enjoys her little seaside home in Rhode Island. Of course, Browning is not 25, she's a seasoned write and editor with many years in the workforce under her belt--and that's precisely why this book had promise (the overworked NYC editor finds that the slow life is better). Unfortunately, I feel Browning fell flat of sharing anything interesting about that year of her life. I guess she's happy at the end? All I know for sure is she claims to finally be over an unhealthy relationship--the man making appearances in nearly every chapter and not really being too intersting. "Slow" describes this book, but it never really picked up.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan

Commencement follows four young women through their lives in that exciting 10 year span from freshman year of college through the 20s. Celia (the NYC publishing assistant with the fast single life), Bree (the Southern Belle turned lesbian), Sally (the affluent wife), and April (the uber feminist activist) are an unlikely group of best friends, and their stories are vastly different. Sullivan is gifted at creating these realistic characters and showing how the friendship evolves through the years while the novel shifts between the perspectives of all four girls. It's like Sex & the City meets Smith College... I'd probably have enjoyed it more had I gone to Smith (the author did and there are jokes about the school peppered throughout that were lost on me), but the characters were so likeable that I was hooked until the last page--wanting to see how their lives all ended (at least, where they stood at 27).

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Promises to Keep

Promises to Keep by Jane Green

Jane Green is still reigning as a princess of chicklit, and after years of churning out popular novels for women, she remains as such. Why? Through every chapter of this predictable, but sweet book, I found myself asking why the author committed cardinal sin #1 of creative writing: Show, don't tell. She did a great job of telling an interesting and very real and moving story. However, she kept telling me tha things were as they were. "Callie and Reece had the greatest love ever." Really? I didn't really see it, but I was told.

It was a quick, enjoyable read once all the characters were introduced. As long as you're not a writing critic, I'd recommend it.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree

Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree by Lauren Tarshis

Emma-Jean Lazarus is somewhat of an outcast at William Gladstone Middle School. She eats lunch alone and usually only talks to the janitor. Emma-Jean is smart--smarter than any other 7th grader for sure--and the other kids don't understand her. And it's with those smarts and her powers of logic that she ultimately is able to befriend others as she helps her fellow students solve their own problems. Of course, solving others' problems sometimes creates more problems and gets her and others into sticky situations. This was a cute book with a lot of heart. I'd recommend it to readers in 4th-6th grades.

Let the Great World Spin

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann

I could not put this book down. It's one of few books I've finished that scream "masterpiece." McCann is a master of language, but beyond the phrases and descriptions that had me stopping every few pages to marvel at how he created such visions and feelings with words, he has created incredibly real characters in his latest novel, Let the Great World Spin. It's New York City in 1974 and the World Trade Center tightrope walker is amazing people from every part of the city. And all the characters that McCann includes are brought together by this one event on this singular day. We get some flashbacks to the Irish background of the central character Corrigan, the multi-faceted immigrant and radical monk who spends his life helping the down-trodden in The Bronx projects and we get some glimpses into the future (the last "Book" which takes place in 2006), but the core of this book is how "the great world spins" on this one day. And it is beautiful, amazing, sad, and true.