Jennifer A. (curvymommy) - , - Reviews

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All Because of You
All Because of You
Author: Melissa Hill
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 2/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 5/1/2008


This was the first book I've read by this author, and I can't say I was impressed.

The story line was boring - the plot just plodded along. I kept waiting for something exciting to happen, and it never did! This is a story of lives intertwined, and I had a hard time keeping the characters straight, because none of them were very memorable: the spoiled younger sister, the career girl who can't keep a man because she comes on too strong, the stay-at-home mum who thinks her husband is cheating on her. Yawn.

As I was reading, I would catch myself mentally drifting off - I honestly think I finished this book only because by the time I figured out nothing was ever going to happen, I had invested too much time to NOT finish it.

Even the twists at the end were not particularly shocking, and the characters reactions were not very believable.

This book has received 4/5 star reviews on Amazon UK, but I can't see why. I was really disappointed in this book.


American Wife
American Wife
Author: Curtis Sittenfeld
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 107
Review Date: 7/22/2008
Helpful Score: 15


When I started this book, I had no idea that the premise was roughly based on the life of Laura Bush. Which was probably a good thing, because if I HAD known that, this liberal-leaning reader probably would not have picked this book up.

However, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I was hooked right from the beginning, and I was only 75 pages in when I started telling friends about this great book I was reading. The first half of the book was SO good, filled with twists and turns and little bits of foreshadowing.

The main character, Alice Lindgren, is a school librarian with a tragic past. We see her as a young teen before the tragedy occurs, when suddenly an accident happens and her world changes. Skip forward in time to a young adult on her own in the 70s, when she meets her husband, who seems wildly mismatched for Alice.

The story of their courtship and marriage moved quickly, and I was quite engrossed. More foreshadowing, more intimate descriptions of their privileged lives and not-so-perfect marriage. I couldn't stop reading.

But then, all of a sudden, we move forward nearly 20 years, and her husband has been governor and is now president. The story slowed down, became more introspective. I felt robbed. I wanted to know the details of how the couple ended up in the governor's mansion. I wanted to understand Alice's feelings about the road to the presidency. Ultimately, these elements were revealed, as flashbacks, but not as engagingly as the previous two-thirds of the novel.

When it finally dawned on me that this novel was a fictionalized account of George and Laura Bush, things finally started to make sense. But I felt jolted out of a fictionalized world, into an all-too-real world, and I couldn't stop thinking about how much I disliked the people this book is based upon.

If I could, I would give the first part of this novel 5 stars, and the last part closer to 3 stars.

I do recommend this novel. The author is extremely talented, with an extraordinary gift for prose. I look forward to her next novel.

Note: I read the Advance Reader's Edition for this book.


The Anglo Files: A Field Guide to the British
The Anglo Files: A Field Guide to the British
Author: Sarah Lyall
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 9
Review Date: 10/3/2008
Helpful Score: 3


As an Anglophile, I was really looking forward to reading this. It did not disappoint. Written in a friendly, engaging style, it was easy to read and not at all dry. Great insights into British culture - and I have to admit that, while I still absolutely cannot wait to visit England, I no longer think I'd want to live there. :)


The Anglophile (Red Dress Ink)
The Anglophile (Red Dress Ink)
Author: Laurie Gwen Shapiro
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 52
Review Date: 4/7/2007


Started out okay, and picked up in the middle, but totally fell apart at the end. Ending was rushed and somewhat implausible. Fellow anglophiles will still enjoy though. :)


Assassination Vacation
Assassination Vacation
Author: Sarah Vowell
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 137
Review Date: 9/6/2008
Helpful Score: 2


If you had told me that I would read and enjoy a book about presidential assassinations, I would have said you were crazy. My preferred genres are chick lit and historical fiction. But, I loved Assassination Vacation!

I decided to give this a try after seeing so many good reviews, and reading the first few pages on Amazon.com. I was laughing from the very beginning, and couldn't wait to read more. So much so, that I didn't want to wait to get it from Amazon, and went down to my local Borders to buy it that same day. I read it in just two days.

It was funny and snarky in the tradition of Jen Lancaster and Laurie Notaro, with the added bonus of actual historical facts. Like all of us, I knew the basic facts of Lincoln's assassination, but I didn't know some of the more interesting details. And I knew nothing about McKinley's and Garfield's assassinations - what I had learned in school didn't stick with me. But, now after reading this book, I know a lot more, and I think I'll remember it, because it was so entertaingly told.

For me, President Garfield will now always be Mr. Loner McBookworm. LOL! And Robert Todd Lincoln will be Jinxy McDeath.

I highly recommend this book. Even if you think this isn't your cup of tea, give it a try. It'll be worth it.


Atonement
Atonement
Author: Ian McEwan
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 891
Review Date: 4/22/2008


I can't tell you how many times I picked this book up at the bookstore, because the story sounded good, but when I flipped through it, the prose put me off. I'm a chick lit kind of gal, and this book looked too...dense.

But, when I found a copy at my local friends of the library store, I decided to give it a try, because it only cost $1.

It took a LONG time to get into this book. By page 75, I still felt like I was waiting for something to hook me in. But it wasn't long before I was reading every chance I got, to see what would unfold next. Even the middle part of the book, the part that dealt with the war, held my interest, and I don't usually care for war stories.

BUT--and this is a big but--the ending just really irritated me to no end. I hated it. If I had not read the epilogue, I probably would have been left with a better view of this book. As it is, all I can think of now is how much I absolutely hated the ending. Although, I have to admit, I don't usually feel so strongly about a book, so even though it was a negative emotion, it still had a powerful affect on me, and I suppose that's the point?

I seriously doubt I'll read anything else by Ian McEwan.

Off to add the movie to my Netflix queue now, to see how well it was translated into film.


Because She Can
Because She Can
Author: Bridie Clark
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 37
Review Date: 3/6/2007


Fast read, moves quickly. Some things seemed a little contrived, but still a good read. I enjoyed it. :)


Big Boned (Heather Wells, Bk 3)
Big Boned (Heather Wells, Bk 3)
Author: Meg Cabot
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 339
Review Date: 6/7/2008
Helpful Score: 6


Well. I've now read all 3 of the Heather Wells books, all in a row, in about 2 weeks time. I'm looking forward to reading something else.

I flew through this one. More in an effort to just finish it already. The mystery in this one was, well, boring. Heather didn't have to try too hard. And if no one in the story cared about the character who was murdered, why should I? There was no depth to this one. Not as good as the other two. Like Ms. Cabot had the "Heather Wells story template", but she just didn't feel like filling in too many details this time around.

I have to admit, I'm a little amazed at how prolific Ms. Cabot is. Maybe her books would be better if she wasn't writing so darn many? Quality over quantity, you know?


Big Girls Don't Cry (Girls Do or Don't, Bk 3)
Big Girls Don't Cry (Girls Do or Don't, Bk 3)
Author: Cathie Linz
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 96
Review Date: 11/8/2007
Helpful Score: 5


I struggled to finish this book. It was so formulaic, and the main character (Leena) was annoying and acted like a ditz at times. There were too many supporting characters, most of whom were just not needed. The story was all over the place and quite superficial - I never felt like I cared about the characters at all. I was disappointed in this book.


Review Date: 12/30/2007


I liked this one better than Bitter is the New Black, although they are both so very funny! This is written in a very accessible essay format - you don't need to read the first book to understand what's going on in this one. If you like Laurie Notaro's books, you'll like this author too. Very snarky and wonderfully hilarious! I'm looking forward to her next book!!


Collateral
Collateral
Author: Ellen Hopkins
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 5
Review Date: 9/10/2012


I really liked Ellen Hopkins' novel in verse Triangles (I stayed up all night reading it), so I was eager to read her latest work, Collateral. However, this story didn't grab hold of me like the story in Triangles.

Told in alternating past and present time, Collateral is the story of the relationship between Ashley, a grad student at San Diego State, and Cole, a United States Marine. Theirs is a passionate relationship, but also a volatile one. The story spans 5 years, with Cole being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan multiple times, and Ashley left behind to deal with the emotional trauma of having a loved one deployed to a war zone.

In the author's signature "novel in verse" style, she accurately portrays the impact - the collateral, if you will - of being in love with a soldier. It's a difficult road to travel, with the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows. You can see the deepening impact that being deployed has on Cole, and in turn, the impact on Ashley, who increasingly depends on alcohol and pills to make it through. I thought the ending was unfortunately realistic, shocking, and sad, but not in the way you might expect.

My only quibble with the story was the poems that were "written by" Ashley and Cole. They didn't fit with the rest of the novel at all. Maybe that is my general dislike of modern poetry coming through, but about halfway through the book, I started skipping over those to get back to the main story verse.

An interesting story that makes you think about the impact of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars on not only the men and women serving our country, but also their families at home.


Confessions of a Contractor
Confessions of a Contractor
Author: Richard Murphy
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.1/5 Stars.
 18
Review Date: 8/21/2008
Helpful Score: 2


I really enjoyed this first novel. It was an easy read, with a friendly tone.

The main character, Henry, is a contractor. While the story is primarily about his relationships with two women whose homes he is renovating, you also get some great insight on how contractors work. Since we are considering adding on to our home in the near future, I especially was interested in those tidbits. Henry's relationship with Clyde the cat was great - both moving and funny, and an unexpected bonus.

Overall, an interesting, enjoyable read that I would recommend to others.


Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World
Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World
Author: Vicki Myron
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 542
Review Date: 12/16/2008
Helpful Score: 15


As a cat lover and a book lover who worked in a library all through high school, I really thought I was going to LOVE this book. It seemed to have all the right ingredients. However, while the ingredients were there, they just weren't mixed together well enough, and I only moderately liked the book.

Dewey's story was cute, and he certainly was an extraordinary cat. But the constant romanticizing of his story, and the anthropomorphizing of Dewey started to become annoying. The writing wasn't that great, with LOTS of repetition.

The story was more than about just Dewey. Much of the book was about the lifestyle of rural Iowa, and the author's own life challenges. I wasn't expecting that, and to be honest I was a little bored with the descriptions of corn and fields - I'm not a country girl by any means though, so that's not really my cup of tea anyway.

That being said, the ending made me cry. Really. Not just a few tears, but actual crying. So while the writing was simple, the story couldn't help but touch me, and that made it worth reading.


Dirty Girls on Top
Dirty Girls on Top
Author: Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 9
Review Date: 6/29/2008


I read the Dirty Girls Social Club back when it first came out, and loved it. Even though I am not Latina, I still felt I could relate to the characters. Now, with the sequel that I was fortunate enough to snag an ARC for, I still feel the same way.

I love how each character has her own voice. The author switches so easily between voices and tone for each character, that you almost feel like each woman is talking directly to you. And, the problems and situations these women face, while sometimes extrordinary, are also down-to-earth and I could see facets of my own life experiences in each of them.

The only thing that bothered me was the liberal use of Spanish throughout. I know what the author was trying to accomplish, and most of the time I could figure out meanings from context, but there were some instances where I had NO clue what the Spanish words meant, which was a bit frustrating.

And like the other reviewers said, this book is racy! Right from the first few pages there's sex and foul language. That didn't bother me at all, but if you are a sensitive reader, be warned.

Overall, a great book! I laughed out loud, I was sad, I was happy, I was shocked. This book has it all. Engaging plot that kept me up reading way past when I should have turned out the light. :) I would highly recommend this book to any woman, Latina or not.


Don't You Forget About Me
Don't You Forget About Me
Author: Jancee Dunn
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 25
Review Date: 10/7/2008
Helpful Score: 12


As a child of the 80s (I graduated in 1990), I enjoyed the flashback aspect of this novel. The music, the clothes, the teenage dramas.

However, the story seemed to drag on forever, full of constant, unnecessary name-dropping from the 80s. And Lillian started to get on my nerves, she was so intent on reliving her high school days. I wanted to yell at her a couple times to just grow up and move on already! What 38-year-old woman would act like this?

It was predictable too, as you just knew that Lillian would once again dump her not-so-cool friend to hang out with the popular girls at the reunion. And that she would miss the signs from the quiet, but good guy while she craved the attentions of the moody but popular bad boy who treated her like crap. Please.

Overall, I was somewhat disappointed. It was light reading, and had funny moments, but the main character was just too annoying.


Dream When You're Feeling Blue
Dream When You're Feeling Blue
Author: Elizabeth Berg
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 68
Review Date: 7/15/2007
Helpful Score: 1


Enjoyable read! I was engrossed from the start, and cared very much about the characters. I didn't see the twist at the end coming, and actually shed a tear at one point (rare for me while reading). Great book!


The Dressmaker
The Dressmaker
Author: Kate Alcott
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 52
Review Date: 3/2/2012
Helpful Score: 1


With the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic being recognized this year ("celebrated" doesn't seem an appropriate word to use here), there is a slew of Titanic-themed fiction and non-fiction being released over the next few months. The Dressmaker is one of those novels.

I found this story of an aspiring dressmaker/maid who is brought on to the Titanic at the last minute to be engaging, and a fresh take on the Titanic story. Tess Collins runs away from her position as a maid in Cherbourg, France and ends up on the dock before the sailing of the Titanic. In an unlikely turn of events, she is hired on the spot by the aristocratic Lady Duff-Gordon, famous dressmaker and head of the House of Lucile.

Tess is thrilled and honored that Lady Duff Gordon has hired her as her maid, and hopes to parlay that good fortune into one day becoming a dressmaker herself. What she doesn't bargain for is the sinking of the Titanic, and the reprecussions of events in a lifeboat that continue to have an impact on her and Lady Duff Gordon's lives long after they have been rescued.

Like any good romance, Tess ends up with two suitors - the good-hearted but poor sailor Jim Bonney, and the rich, aristrocratic divorcee Jack Bremerton. Her involvement with Mr. Bremerton (the rich older man) again seems somewhat unlikely. It's these types of things that prevented me from giving this book more than 3.5 stars, in that I just couldn't find some of the things that happen to Tess to be believeable.

Still, if you can look past those things, you'll find this an interesting piece of historical fiction, that keeps you intrigued until the end. If you enjoy Titanic-themed fiction, I'd definitely recommend picking this one up.


Everyone Is Beautiful
Everyone Is Beautiful
Author: Katherine Center
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 27
Review Date: 3/31/2009
Helpful Score: 3


This was a wonderful book. More than chick lit, this was mommy lit with substance and a heart. I could completely relate to the main character, Lanie - I too have 3 boys close in age (mine are 8 and under) and it was eerie how much of Lanie's story paralleled my own life!

This story was real, and honest, and true to life. It wasn't candy-coated like so many chick lit/mommy lit books are. We don't all have pristine houses with matching furniture - we decorate using garage sales finds and thrift store treasures because we're living on a budget - just like Lanie. Our kids don't have a nanny and do embarrassing things, or aggravating things, or messy things - but we love them with all our hearts - just like Lanie. And our marriages aren't perfect, misunderstandings happen, and feelings get hurt - but we do everything we can to make things right and hope for the happy ending - just like Lanie. This story was REAL, and that's what made it so wonderful.

Just a great down-to-earth book, and an engrossing read. Highly recommended!


Fever
Fever
Author: Mary B. Keane
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 9
Review Date: 2/6/2013


Typhoid Mary. We've all heard of her, but how many of us really know her story? An Irish immigrant with a talent for cooking who, unfortunately, is also a healthy carrier of Typhoid fever, spreading the illness through the food she cooks for the wealthy families she works for.

It was difficult to feel sympathy for Mary in the beginning of this fictionalized account of her life, as she was incredibly stubborn and refused to believe she could be making people sick. I was frustrated with her inability to understand what she had been doing, and the anger she displayed in the face of her circumstances. Her unreasonableness (which was really denial and panic and fear) led her to both be ostracized in the press, and forcibly removed to an island in the Hudson River to live in isolation, and prevent her from further infecting people.

With the help of a young lawyer, Mary finally wins her release, on the condition that she promise to never cook for anyone again. It is here that I begin to feel more sympathy for Mary. The one thing that she is talented at doing, cooking, is the one thing she should never do again. She tries to do other things, but circumstances seem to always lead her back to baking and cooking once again, and Mary becomes the queen of denial, telling herself that this couldn't possibly hurt anyone, or that baking is not the same is cooking. You get the sense that deep down inside, Mary knows she shouldn't be doing what she is doing, but she's good at pulling the wool over her own eyes.

Mary's life is not comfortable - she is a working-class woman in early-20th century New York, and the author does a tremendous job of describing what that was like. In addition to all this, Mary's relationship with her companion, Alfred, was strained by her time on the island. She has difficulties finding a place to live. It seems that this one thing, her status as a carrier of the fever, is slowly breaking apart her life in all areas.

My only issue with this book was the way the author jumped from past to present and back again. It was sometimes difficult to keep track of where in time we were. But overall, I enjoyed this novel, and would recommend it if you enjoy historical fiction.


First Love
First Love
Author: Adrienne Sharp
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 5
Review Date: 1/31/2007


aka The Sleeping Beauty


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