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Emily Giffin’s books are as recognizable by their pastel hues as they are for covering topics you’d expect in chick-lit (I don’t mean this to be derogatory; is “women’s fiction” better?): weddings, babies, love, friendship, and now infidelity. After having read some deeper books, I was in the mood over the wintery weekend for an easy read and saw the purple spine on my bookshelf. I was ready to be lost in a world of chattering women and married suburbia… Instead, it was a love triangle with no easy way out.
Tessa is married to Dr. Nick Russo, a pediatric plastic surgeon dedicated to his work. Married for seven years with two young children, they have a seemingly happy life in a wealthy suburb of Boston. The short version is Nick gets overly attached to a patient and his single mom. Seemingly (inappropriately; unconvincingly) unsatisfied with his home life, he starts along the slippery slope of lying about working late; Halloween parties, etc. I won’t ruin the ending, but this was one of those books in which I didn’t really identify with any of the characters and found none of their actions to be totally reasonable/understandable.
“Moral” of my review: books focused on infidelity aren’t my thing. I don’t mind if it’s a plot point, but when infidelity is its own character I’m lost. I just like to think people are better than that – although my dad always says I’m too trusting. The silver lining is that it motivated me to update my blog! And y’all, this is a tenuous connection to my Southern list since the gorgeous Emily Giffin hails from Atlanta?!
Other books on infidelity that I haven’t loved include many of the Jennifer Weiner’s (I enjoyed the movie IN HER SHOES but was horrified that the sister slept with the others’ bf!), ADMISSION by Jean Hanff Korelitz (though I loved her WHITE ROSE novel), the one about the teacher and student with a green apple on the hardcover jacket (don’t remember the name of this one – anyone?)…
But I’m not a total prude: I have enjoyed many books for which infidelity takes place like Jonathan Tropper’s THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU (in fact, my literary-lovin’ pup just chewed this one up recently), Anita Shreve’s THE PILOT’S WIFE (though it was traumatizing and I will still not date a pilot… and have been disappointed by every Shreve novel since), Sue Miller’s THE SENATOR’S WIFE (infidelity was much less of a focus in this one) and I’m sure there are more, because for better or worse this seems to be a hot topic in our society.
This was a pretty boring review, sorry crew! I’m super excited for my Monday post on MAJOR PETTIGREW’S LAST STAND – please come back then.
A story of NYC + Sisters seems like my type of novel, especially in these hot summer months when I need to escape the airlessness that can overtake my tiny NYC pad to go lie in a shady patch of green.
But even typing “patch of green” makes me cringe a bit, as I think of the Salon that this whole story is centered around. I’m not easily embarrassed – I’m way too clumsy to blush over the occasional trip or the bruises that consistently appear from things hopping right in my way – but WAXED details some “below the belt” happenings that I would have preferred remained un-detailed. I found myself to be rather distracted by the, er, unique setting that it was difficult to focus on the sisters.
From the publisher:
Waxed is the story of three relationship-challenged sisters working together at New York’s hottest waxing salon, catering to socialites, actresses, and regular folk alike.
Yank. On the surface, glamorous Carolina Impresario—big sister and owner of Impresarios—unapologetically wants it all, but secretly she is caught between her successful boyfriend and the only man she has ever truly loved.
Pluck. After a painful divorce, middle sister Anna reluctantly reenters the workforce and puts on a brave face while attempting to raise her children, one of whom is decidedly different.
Tear. Newlywed Sofia is a hybrid of her two older sisters: She loves the idea of a domestic life like Anna’s, but is entranced by New York nightlife and a new best friend, resulting in some major complications at home.
There was more than just hairless talk, as the three sisters had some complicated issues – I just wish I had been able to care more. This book was a quick read, so we didn’t get to go in-depth with any of the characters but just skimmed the surface. Carolina is a little too cold for comfort and I wish there had been a couple more cracks in her facade (and what happened with her “surprise” at the end). Anna was sweet enough, but nothing stellar (though I did like her interactions with JJ and the way she accepted her children unconditionally). Sofia was exploring herself and testing boundaries and was fun to follow along, though had some questionable behaviors that seemed to be in contradiction with other aspects of her described personality (which is totally allowed, just an observation… by far my favorite sister. And wow, what a twist – yes, that’s intended to hook you!).
The winning character award goes to JJ, the eccentric elderly widow who is determined to live out The New Yorker’s “List of Things To Do in NYC Before You Die” before her terminal illness takes her. Though Anna is written as the sidekick, the opposite is true – JJ was the highlight of this novel.
Side note – I tried to find this list, does anyone know if it really exists? The closest result Google delivered is the Facebook page called “New York Bucket List” here.
I’m more interested in the author than the characters, and I don’t really mean that as an insult. His official bio is “Former New York City publicist, Robert Rave, has worked on numerous public relations campaigns and high profile special events in the lifestyle, fashion, nightlife and entertainment industries. He is the author of SPiN and currently lives in Los Angeles.” But I suggest you visit his website at http://www.robertrave.com to learn more. It’s so curious to me that a man chose to set a book around a waxing salon. I enjoyed this book enough to want to pick up Robert’s SPiN when it comes out in paperback (which I think would be soon), as I think the public relations setting would appeal to my apparently prudish sensibilities more.
This book is the perfect pick for a beach read as it’s short enough to carry around without being weighed down and you can read it in one sitting – though be aware you may blush at some parts! You can pick it up on Amazon here.
Thank you to TLC Book Tours for hosting this book tour! I invite you to take a look at the list of all blog hosts available here.
For being the biggest city in the U. S., NYC is quite a lonely place.
I tell my friends back in Chicago that it’s really fun because you can truly wear whatever you want without people caring or noticing (if you’d like me to illustrate with pictures of other East Village locals wearing neon colors, animal prints, or an occasional live cat on the head let me know) – but you’re often invisible as well.
Maybe it’s because I’ve led a spoiled life – always had close family and friends, but NYC is a test. Not just because it’s ridiculously expensive w/less than optimal living space (I don’t allow pictures to be taken of my apartment; I insist upon visiting for the experience over a still image) but because you’re by yourself. A lot. And the crazy thing is, I think I’m starting to like it.
With the exception of my mom reprimanding me for drinking wine alone tonight (before you judge, I was trying to write and I now understand why real writers are notoriously heavy drinkers), I’ve learned I may not be quite as social or as talkative as I would have previously believed. I actually enjoy eating dinner out by myself (usually with a good book) and the solitude when my roommate leaves and is no longer constantly trying to speak to me.
I recently read Jen Lancaster’s memoir, BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG ASS. It resonated with me not only because she hails from my beloved Chicago and the bus lines she spoke of were so familiar, but when she talks about the fast and easy friendships of the past giving way to new living, and relationship, situations:
“Suddenly I found myself living around people very different from me. We were diverse not due to ethnicity, race, or age, but because we didn’t come from a shared past; our jobs, hometowns, educations, and experiences were all vastly different and we had no instant commonalities…” (pg. 178)
This I can commiserate with. Yes, I’ve made acquaintances here in this huge, vast city that sparkles in the night and grimy by day… Even some people I call friends. But it’s hard work when you don’t have the baseline from which to start.
Luckily, I have books to escape the real world and I find myself disappearing into them quite often. For the second “luckily”, this trait is advantageous to being in a job I love. So while I desperately miss my friends in Chicago (there’s nothing comparable to living with your two best friends in a downtown highrise boasting a pool on your rooftop with a view of Lake Michigan) I like to believe I made the best decision in transferring my life to the East Coast. While I admit I’m not exactly living an Into the Wild survival expedition, I think I have given up some basic luxuries.
This may be a pointless post, but thanks for indulging in my slightly-wine induced thoughts and joining me all the way out here in NYC. In fact, I think I officially belong in that annoying group of people that think “everyone should live, and thrive, in NYC at least once in their life.”
Update: Oprah (along with some kind words and admittances of solo and proud drinking from OUB & OAD) has made me realize that moving to NYC is a worthwhile adventure for a job I love. Recently, Oprah shared a list of “The Top 20 Things I Know for Sure” and I’m happy that I am totally in line with several, including #13: Let passion drive your profession.
Sundays are notoriously unproductive (is this true across the board or just for my roomies and I?), typically spent lolling around in front of the Lifetime Movie Channel or, weather permitting, relaxing on the pool deck, rejuvenating from what was undoubtedly a raucous weekend. So it makes me proud to say that yesterday, I accomplished quite the feat: one sushi meal with Char at RA, one Lifetime movie (the disturbing & sad Natalee Holloway one), three cups of tea and two books!
Quite unintentionally, both books I read dealt with ghosts/spirits/other-worldly forms of energy. The protagonist in Joshilyn Jackson’s The Girl Who Stopped Swimming saw the ghost come to her of the young girl who drowned in the pool while Ronlyn Domingue writes a captivating tale from the ghost’s perspective in The Mercy of Thin Air.
The Girl Who Stopped Swimming is Jackson’s third novel, following Gods in Alabama and Between, Georgia. Having read them all, I’ve come to realize that Jackson employs a formula in each: Takes place in the South, involves a family secret, poor relatives and a young woman. While these traits are shared, each book is individual, offering a different story and secret to be uncovered.
The secret in The Girl Who Stopped Swimming begins to unravel once Laurel finds the body of her daughter’s tween friend floating in her pool. After enlisting her free-spirited sister, Thalia, to help, Laurel discovers more than she had anticipated about her marriage, her daughter, DeLop (the oppressed town of impoverished relatives), the murder in her past and even about herself. An enlightening novel that makes the reader question happiness and wonder about their own ghosts, outside their line of vision.
- NovelWhore’s Grade: B+
- Title: The Girl Who Stopped Swimming
- Author: Joshilyn Jackson
- Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (Hachette)
Hard to believe The Mercy of Thin Air is Domingue’s first novel. Written with such insight and conviction, even a non-believer like myself questions reality. Told in first person by the intelligent and vivacious Raziela Nolan after her tragic death at the turning point of her life, it tells the story of love that doesn’t die with the body.
Even though Razi dies in 1929 at the age of 22, the story carries the characters up into the 21st century, as she stays “between” – invisible to mortals but remaining on Earth. Her tale is intertwined with the love story of a couple struggling through their relationship and hidden past, whose lives intersect with the one Razi left behind. Interesting subplots abound: Razi’s dedication to educating women on their reproductive options when this knowledge was illegal (apparently in the 1920s pregnancy was the only job women were expected to do), the growth and development of independent women, the relationships with other souls in “between” and the life of her great love.
Both The Girl Who Stopped Swimming and The Mercy of Thin Air are more than love stories, though I do feel they appeal to women readers much more than men. I consider myself to be grounded in reality and both these books made me more open to the presence of those we can’t see. The next time I feel a cold draft or smell a scent that seems out of place I may have to smile, wondering if possibly a spirit is sharing in my experience. Who is to say otherwise?
- NovelWhore’s Grade: A-
- Title: The Mercy of Thin Air
- Author: Ronlyn Domingue
- Publisher: Atria Books (Simon & Schuster)
I do, however, suggest you read these books at least a few days apart. I had a hard time sleeping last night imagining the spirits hovering around my bed!
My Dad went on a fishing trip to Alaska last year, which completely surprised me since my dad had never fished in his life, much less being some huge sportsman that travels some 3,500 miles to what I always imagined as some white, frozen piece of tundra, replete with polar bears (cute, but supposedly dangerous), Sarah Palin shooting wolves, and not much else. But every morning when I received a picture message I had to admit it was of a gorgeous scene.
So, with my interest in Alaska piqued, when I came across Nora Robert’s Northern Lights novel priced at a very affordable $1 at the Newberry Library book fair I had to snatch it up. While not a huge Nora Roberts fan, I admit her books are a fat-free indulgence every once in awhile, and I dare to say Northern Lights is one of her better titles.
Complete with murder, small-town intrigue and (surprise, surprise) a steamy love affair, Lunacy, Alaska is brought to life through the sexy cop recently transplanted from Baltimore (due to a traumatic experience, read it to discover why he ran away), and the equally mysterious female bush pilot who is also the daughter of a man missing 15 years soon to be found murdered in the mountains. Whew what a story. Through family issues, affairs, and secrets past and present, the tale is twisted through a town where everyone knows each other, and one of them is a murderer. It’s up to the “outsider” Police Chief and his sexy hometown hunny (sorry, couldn’t resist) to separate the disgruntled rednecks (are rednecks in AK?) from the real threats.
Brought alive by a newly aired Lifetime movie (another guilty pleasure, though I swear I only imbibe with roomies present, never alone) graced with the acting of country singer LeAnn Rimes and Eddie Cibrian (apparently with a past role in “Baywatch Nights” – who knew), the 562 page book is condensed into a two hour movie, commercials included. Needless to say, much of the quality, community feeling and character development that makes the book a success is lost in the movie translation.
As you may or may not have heard, the movie may be somewhat of a success due to the publicity of a supposed real-life affair (strategic move or true infidelity?) between Rimes and Cibrian, both of whom are married.
While I would never suggest that anyone go out and purchase this book, if the Nora Roberts genre appeals to you than give Northern Lights a chance. It offers twists and turns outside the bedroom (ha), and the ending, while expected, isn’t boring.
And just in case you’re wondering, my dad will never feel the need to read this book to relive his Alaskan experience, since we still have delicious smoked salmon in the deep freezer waiting to be enjoyed.
- NovelWhore’s Grade, Book: B-
NovelWhore’s Grade, Movie: D
- Title: Northern Lights
- Author: Nora Roberts
- Publisher: Jove
Don’t get excited now, no, this is not a tell-all admission of my love life (trust me, that would be really boring to read) but a glowing recommendation of Chelsea Handler’s over-active sex drive in her memoir “My Horizontal Life – A Collection of One-Night Stands.”
I abhor the term LOL, it’s out of style right? But, it’s totally appropriate as I describe what I was doing while reading this. Outrageous, hilarious and
totally entertaining, this book makes me giggle even as I think of it.
“My Vagina clammed up. I was scared for me and my little beaver’s life. I just hoped we would make it out of this okay.”
That’s a legitimate quote, and the fact that it’s referring to the, ah, genitalia of a male midget makes it even more humorous. While I don’t wish to live her life, I have no qualms about living vicariously through her stories, liberally soaked in alcohol, inappropriate situations and objectionable (often offensive) morals.
Of course you have to hope Handler is exaggerating as she describes her exploits, and it’s even rather sad at times as you wonder what actually is meaningful in her life… But get off that high-horse and just enjoy the ride!
Read this if: You’re open-minded, enjoy racy humor, aren’t offended by blatant smuttiness and alcohol-motivated decisions and aren’t embarrassed to laugh out loud while reading by yourself.
Avoid this is: You’re no fun, bland, easily offendable and can only think of sex as a sacred act no matter who is engaging in it.
- Title: My Horizontal Life
- Author: Chelsea Handler
- Publisher: Bloomsbury
- NovelWhore’s Grade: A (first blogging “A”!!!)
Book vs. Movie
By now, who isn’t familiar with this term? If you haven’t read the book, at the very least you’ve seen the trailers for the movie, currently in theaters, featuring a multitude of celebrities: Jennifer Aniston, Ben Affleck, Scarlett Johansson, Justin Long, Drew Barrymore, Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Connelly and Kevin Connolly make up the all-star cast
I’m sure authors Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo (both contributing writers to the smash success “Sex & the City) had no idea the effect their book, aka “The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys,” would have on the world. I remember first reading “He’s Just Not That Into You” (HJNTIY) back when it came out in 2004 and was on it’s way to becoming some sort of a classic. I was a naive and somewhat innocent college sophomore, and thought that the book was a more amusing and informational form of the Bible.
Though my Advanced Composition teacher ended up stealing the book (Ms. Laura Elizabeth, you disappeared with my “Bible” and my portfolio!) I still have quite a vivid recollection of the empowerment I felt upon completion. Although I’ve never found myself in a terribly unhealthy relationship (some are less happy to remember than others…), I have definitely been blind to the reality of any given situation. Told with humorous examples, comedic banter and the ability to make you smile through your tears of humiliation (you wonder how you missed that obvious hint!), the book is a feel-good tool to encourage every woman to go out there and find the relationship she deserves, not just one she’s stuck with.
Since I really did enjoy the book, appreciate the message and was able to occasionally relate to the situations with self-deprecating laughter, I had high expectations for the movie.
Let me admit, I am not a movie person. I am terrible at sitting still, rarely captivated by what is happening on screen and I don’t even like popcorn (though I looooove the icees at theaters!). I think books are a much more effective and enjoyable way to portray a story, although a movie is much less effort. Anyways, I was prepared to really enjoy HJNTIY, as it had been receiving mostly rave reviews.
My movie partner was a guy I’m casually seeing, and he only went to the movie since he lost a bet (lesson to be learned, never bet me on random historical facts!). He complained about going, but I think ended up liking it and laughing more than me. It was your stereotypical romantic comedy with a little bit more humor, I didn’t think it had nearly the powerful and positive message that the book shared with it’s audience. The movie poses the question:
“are you the exception… or are you the rule?”
The movie follows different characters through life in Maryland (totally random, right?), and it’s almost one of those six-degrees of separation examples, how everyone is inextricably linked without knowing. It’s interesting to see how all the lives tie together, but painful at times to watch as Gigi (Goodwin) is pathetically desperate to date someone, anyone, or as Janine’s (Connelly) husband enters into an affair.
It wasn’t a bad movie, but I did leave feeling as if something were missing. Oh, right, it’s the idea that things don’t always turn out as you planned, and the guy doesn’t always realize that you’re the greatest woman in the world for him (though I’m sure you are), and that sometimes, relationships are disappointing and people aren’t meant to be together and it doesn’t work out (and I swear I’m not even bitter or cynical!). I guess one marriage does dissolve through the course of the movie, but in the current state where affairs and divorces are commonplace, it would be almost more satisfying (less stereotypical, at least) had the woman been responsible, or at minimum, in control, of the relationship! I definitely think the uplifting lesson conveyed in the book is somehow lost with the on-screen adaptation.
Read the book if: You need motivation, inspiration, or optimism in your relationship or life in general. Pass the book to a friend if you can see they’re stuck in a dead end relationship and a third-party unbiased source yelling at them could help realization dawn.
Avoid the book if: You like losers, and accept you’re stuck with them. No no kidding, read the book.
Watch the movie if: You like happy endings, stereotypical romantic comedies, pathetic women, cheating men, and some laughter along the way. Though I suggest you wait until it comes out on DVD and make a wine night out of it, much better use of $$$$.
Avoid the movie if: You’re looking for a movie with a lasting impact.
- Title: He’s Just Not That Into You
- Author(s): Greg Behrendt & Liz Tuccillo
- Publisher: Simon Spotlight Entertainment
- NovelWhore’s Grade (Book): A-
- NovelWhore’s Grade (Movie): C+
**As usual, the book is much better than the movie!