January 29, 2009 The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman
I moved this book up on my TBR list after a generous Bookcrosser offered me a copy of Sarah Vowell's new book and I saw that she had wished for THIS one. It will be going out to her in the mail tomorrow. The perks of having a job where I go to the post office every day.

This was an easy read, in that you could skim and skip as you wish because none of it really matters. There's no plot to follow or anything to really "know" as you go from ramble to ramble. It did teach me that there's a reason why John Hodgman's segments on The Daily Show are only about 3 minutes. Two hundred plus pages of Hodgman is a lot to take in two sittings. I guess it's kinda like America: The Book - not really meant to be read as a book.

I skimmed a lot of things as I read - mostly the highly detailed tables of information. Probably hilarious, but I just don't like tables in my books. I did LOVE his section on touring the Mall of America. Made me crave fried food on a stick!

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January 27, 2009 The Gatecrasher by Madeleine Wickham
Madeleine Wickham won my heart again and she did it with a novel about a woman who crashes funerals to pick up the rich widowers for their cash. Who knew that was possible?

All the characters were richly painted and though I couldn't empathize with all of them for their actions, I understood why they felt and acted the way that they did. It was interesting to see a woman's death as blessing for the family that lost her. We like to romanticize the dead, to forget the things that made us angry, annoyed and frustrated - but sometimes they just weren't good people. Some people aren't.

Much better than my last Wickham pick and I will continue my quest to read all things Wickham/Kinsella.

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January 25, 2009 Dixieland Sushi by Cara Lockwood
I actually really liked this one! It was a departure from the other books by her that I've read, but that's actually a good thing. I could really relate to one of the major themes in the book - being half-"ethnic" in a time and place where seeming NOT is the way to go. Even though the character was half-Japanese and living in a small Southern town, I could totally empathize with a lot of her identity issues and struggles while dealing with the normal chick lit fodder of work, men and weddings.

The present-day plot was interwoven between 80s flashbacks to Jen's growing up times in Dixieland, Arkansas. Though she was obviously a few years older than me, I definitely loved the 80s nostalgia and the grade/middle/high school humiliations that went with it. It was a fun read, even if some of the plot points were predictable. Definitely recommend!

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January 20, 2009 Whose Wedding Is It Anyway? by Melissa Senate
This was a super quick read. It picks up about two years after See Jane Date, but focuses on one of Jane Gregg's BFFs. Of course, I didn't remember her name was Eloise, so it took me a chapter or two to figure it out. And Eloise's boss is the boss from The Soloman Sisters Wise Up, so that was nice too.

There were a lot of conflicts swirling and some of them seemed more easily solvable than they were made out to be. I saw the last twist coming from about the fourth chapter, making that pay off seem rather lame. I was also a little disappointed that one of the major problems seemed to just fade away because it seemed to be SO important and then it just...wasn't.

Overall, it was a great, quick read and it was nice to catch up to the SJD characters again from another perspective. I'll definitely continue to seek out Melissa Senate's work.

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January 17, 2009 first miss of 2009
I don't stop reading a book very often, but when it's over 300 pages long, I do make an exception. I'd read about 150 pages into Like Mother, Like Daughter without getting into it and decided to give it up. This wasn't the book I originally wanted to get from the library by this author, so perhaps I'll try to grab Lost & Found next time.

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January 15, 2009 Love You to Death by Melissa Senate
Very different book than the last Melissa Senate I read, but still pretty awesome. I read it in about a day (stayed up last night past my bedtime to finish it), so it's definitely a fast read.

The book hooked me right from the first scene and that was before the mystery even started. I had one quibble though. Book is set in Portland, Maine, but the Maine part isn't mentioned right away. Maybe I'm just west coast centered, but the first Portland that I thought of was Oregon, so I got a little confused until the Maine part was clarified.

I loved the mystery, the main character was likable, if a little naive (in a good way) and the main male (love) interest is equal parts frustrating and fabulous (like most good guys). I can't wait to read the next Melissa Senate book in my pile.

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January 13, 2009 Starting from Square Two by Caren Lissner
This book had been on my list for such a long time. I'm not sure how I came across it, but when I found it at the library a couple weeks ago, I grabbed it.

It wasn't a typical chick lit book because the main character is a 29-year-old widow. Her husband of 3 years died in a car accident 4 days before September 11th (which also figures more prominently than I would have guessed). Her two friends are a bit more unstable than you usually see in these books - and while she eventually explains it, I spent a long time wondering why the hell Gert spent any time with them.

There was some uncertainty, but most of the plot was pretty straight-forward. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, but I think that's kinda the theme - that's how Gert spends her whole life these days. The ending was kinda open-ended, but I liked that. Maybe I should give that P.S. I Love You book a try after all.

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posted by Jenn at 12:49 PM 1 comments

January 08, 2009 The Soloman Sisters Wise Up by Melissa Senate
I LOVED See Jane Date as a movie first and then as the book, so I grabbed everything by Melissa Senate at the library last week. This is my first foray back into her fabulous writing since then.

Three women, at various life stages, who happened to be sisters, all end living in the same room, dealing with their issues and trying to figure out life. Doesn't sounds like much, but I absolutely loved it. The female characters were strong without being overbearing - and when they were, they got called out about it. Nothing felt contrived and the drama wasn't manufactured. Each chapter was from a different sister's point of view (first Sarah, then Ally, then Zoe, repeat), but it wasn't jarring to have the switch and everything flowed very well.

Chick lit cliches abound, but there's so much other really good, meaty stuff that you really don't even notice it after the beginning. The epilogue did feel a little tacked on and the "happy ending" for one of the girls didn't feel completely earned, but at the same time, sometimes things just happen, so who am I to question?

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January 06, 2009 Going Home by Harriet Evans
My first book of the new year was recommended by my good friend, Katie. That plus a blurb from Sophie Kinsella on the cover meant this was pretty much going to be a home run with me.

It felt like several books put together, which was an interesting way to be introduced to this author, but I felt like perhaps it went on too long. Every time I felt like things were wrapping up, I'd realize I still had over 200 or 100 pages to go and there would have to be another wrench in things before the book would end. Like with Always a Bridesmaid, I got tripped up with some of the British colloquialisms and slang, which was a bit frustrating again. I guess they must clean up Sophie Kinsella's stuff for American readers because I don't notice it as much in her books.

I was a little annoyed by the ending, that it hadn't really been earned and somethings were left up in the air that shouldn't be. I mean, it was romantic and all, but I sorta wished it would have gone differently.

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posted by Jenn at 4:39 PM 1 comments

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