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Happy Blogiversary to Me!

Today is my two-year blogiversary (yeah, I made that up, but it sounds good, doesn’t it?)!

Two years ago today, I posted my first post here on this blog.  January of 2009 was also the month when I posted a whole lot more than I do now.  I guess my goal to post several times a week didn’t quite stick.  Oh well!  I’m happy that I’ve kept it up though and plan to continue blogging about books until I decide to stop!  I admit that I’m wayyyy behind on books vs. blog posts, but I’ll get to the good ones stored in my memory eventually.

Speaking of reading, do you see the fancy little widget at the top of the menu on the ride side of the page?  The one that says 2012 Reading Challenge?  To follow up on my last post, you should set up your own reading challenge through Goodreads!  I already track the books I read there anyway, and this makes it so much easier to follow my progress.  Plus, it’s satisfying to see the little bar moving to the right after I mark a book as “read”.  What’s interesting is the Goodreads has some stats on the challenge, and the average amount of books in all of the 83k challenges is 64.  64!  I don’t know if I’ll ever have time to read 64 books in a year.  Maybe one day.

Anyway, thanks for visiting and for your support over the past two years and please let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions for me for the future.  Happy reading!

A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis by Irene Woodbury

 

I was really excited to read this book when I was contacted by author Irene Woodbury.  It seemed like something that I’d like and enjoy reading.  Plus, I’ve never been to Vegas before, so I thought that maybe I could live vicariously through the characters in this book.

In “A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis“, mid-40′s newlywed Wendy Sinclair has just moved to Texas from Los Angeles to be with her husband, who she had been dating for seven years prior.   She’s realizing that she doesn’t really fit in with the Texas crowd, especially the rich, snotty wives of her husband’s colleagues that she is forced to socialize with.  She misses working in an upscale women’s clothing boutique in LA with her best friend, Paula.  Wendy and Paula plan a girls’ weekend together in Las Vegas to catch up and let loose and everything changes from there!

Wendy and Paula have a wild and interesting weekend, but Wendy doesn’t want it to end there… she doesn’t want to go back to Texas.  And frankly, she felt like her relationship with her husband, Roger, was better before they got married.  She decides to extend her weekend trip for a few more weeks.  And a few more weeks after that.  Then a few months.  Wendy is offered a job working with one of the casinos, which solidifies the feeling of her being needed somewhere other than Texas.  She makes some friends along the way and enjoys relaxing, eating, working (on something she loves to do!), and being pampered.  The entire time, Roger is none too happy that Wendy is spending their first year of marriage in a different city, and Wendy is suspicious of the daughter of one of Roger’s colleagues who starts hanging around him.  So, does Wendy stay in Vegas and follow her heart and do what makes her happy, or does she go home to Roger and rekindle their marriage?

This book was really easy for me to get into and it was interesting to hear about some Vegas stuff that most tourists probably don’t think about or see.  I found myself getting a little frustrated with some of the characters – I wanted to strangle Paula at some points, and I was going back and forth with being disappointed with Wendy for abandoning her husband and not just talking to him, while cheering her on in “you go, girl!” fashion for being independent and doing what SHE wanted to do.  But I don’t think it’s always necessary for characters to be likable… I think that characters that illicit mixed responses like that from readers are just as good!

Overall, the story was a fun read and was a nice escape from my own reality into someone else’s crazy life!

Confessions of a Call Center Gal by Lisa Lim

Sorry for the brief hiatus!   I recently got married, and while I barely had any time to post here, I was still able to find time to read here and there in between everything else.  I have a huge backlog of posts I need to write from my summer reads, so I’ll be getting to those soon!  And there are some good ones in there!

Before the wedding, I was contacted by an up-and-coming author named Lisa Lim, who asked me to read and review her book.  When I read her description of the book, “Bridget Jones meets The Office”, I didn’t even think twice before I responded with an enthusiastic “Yes!” (in so many words).

“Confessions of a Call Center Gal” is about a new college grad named Madison (aka Maddy), who is searching for her first real job out of school in a horrible job market.  With no other options left in her hometown, Maddy decides to move to the midwest to be with her best friend, Karsynn (aka Kars), who is in the same jobless boat.  Both girls apply to positions at a local call center and thankfully, both get the jobs.  While neither girl aspires to be a call center service rep for a living, it’ll do for now.

One bright spot for Maddy is her crush on her hunky Belgian coworker and new friend, Mika.  She helps as his English tutor and their relationship starts to grow, even though Mika is already dating another one of their coworkers, who is also a friend of Maddy’s.  While Maddy and Kars enjoy working together and the camaraderie with some of their coworkers, their boss is horrible and of course, there’s the whole issue of dealing with irate customers who blame you for all of their troubles, like you’re the one who personally messed up their service.

I liked that Maddy and Kars seemed like normal girls leading a pretty normal life, instead of the glamorous New York PR-types of characters in most chick lit books (which I normally don’t mind, but it’s a refreshing change).  Some of the situations that Maddy found herself in with her callers and coworkers made me chuckle.  I admit I had a little bit of a hard time liking Kars, Maddy’s best friend but I think that’s just the way the character was written.  And here’s a fun twist, Lisa Lim actually worked for a call center and I found myself wondering how much of the book was inspired by her own experiences!  Overall, the book was an easy, fun girly read that will make you glad you don’t work in a call center (or if you do, I’m sure you’d identify with Maddy’s pain and suffering).

This is author Lisa Lim’s first novel, and I hope she writes another (or more)!  You can follow her updates on Goodreads, and if you’re looking for a new blogger to follow, check her out at Confessions of a Call Center Gal.  She blogs about a variety of topics, including books and her love of Anthropologie clothing.  She has some great fashion sense and the same taste in books as I do!

One Day by David Nicholls

Sorry I’ve been away so long!  Technically, I haven’t really gone anywhere; I just haven’t really been motivated to blog lately.   I have a “backlog” of books I’ve read over the past few months that I need to write about and it’s going to take me forever to get to them all!  Anyway, this book had been on my radar for awhile but I wasn’t in a rush to buy it.  I believe it may have been included on some bestseller or best book lists (I know it was in the top 100 paid Kindle books for awhile and maybe still is).

“One Day” is broken down into one day per year over a twenty year period starting in 1988.  Strangely, I totally missed that fact when I was reading the book but realized it afterward when I was reading a summary of the story.  Oops.  The story starts out with two college students in England, Emma and Dexter (Dex for short), who hook up on graduation night.  Emma has had a crush on Dex for awhile and is so excited to finally have a chance with him.  Dex, on the other hand, isn’t as enthused as Emma at first.  Jump to the following year – Emma and Dex have gone their separate ways but are conversing through letters.  As years go on, Emma’s career as an actress in plays has been unsuccessful and she gets stuck in a bunch of dead-end jobs, not really knowing where she wants her life to go, but she knows that she loves to write.  Dex gets into the entertainment industry and becomes a popular TV personality and leads the life of a playboy.  Dex and Emma couldn’t be in two more different places in their lives.

Over the years, Emma and Dex’s friendship ebbs and flows, usually depending on Dex’s situation and “fame”.  You know the whole time that Emma is in love with Dex but how does he feel about her?  While Emma and Dex find themselves in the arms of others, they always keep coming back to each other.  The story involves more situations and people intertwined with Emma and Dex but you can really see how strong their relationship is after that one night together which was much more than just a one night stand.  You will just have to read it to hear about their ups and downs and what happens to them in the end (do they ever get together?!?  Read it and find out!).

I had a little bit of a hard time getting going at the beginning but the story picked up for me after a little while.  It did seem like a long book though (it’s sometimes hard to tell since the Kindle doesn’t have real page numbers – although that feature is being added soon if it hasn’t been activated already) and it makes sense now since the book covered one day per year for twenty years.  The characters seemed very real, and I found myself really liking Emma and hating Dex sometimes for how he acted.

David Nicholls has a few other books out that I’d like to check out someday.  I also found out that there is a movie based up this book already in the works.   Anne Hathaway is starring as Emma; Jim Sturgess (never heard of him) will be Dex.  This disappoints me because I wasn’t impressed with Anne Hathaway in “Love and Other Drugs” and I wouldn’t have pictured her playing Emma in this story.  Oh well… another movie that won’t live up to the book.  We’ll just have to wait and see!

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Remember in my last post how I mentioned that I’ll look over the book summary once when I first purchase the book and then never look at it again?  Well, that came back to bite me this time because I started reading this book and got really freakin’ confused.

Never Let Me Go” is told in the first person perspective of Kathy.  The book actually starts with Kathy as an adult, reflecting back on her childhood and teen years and her relationships.  She is raised in a boarding school in the English countryside and from a young age, she bonds with two other students – Ruth and Tommy.  Kathy is usually the one who stands back and observes, while Ruth is a little more on the outgoing side.  Tommy is known to have a horrible temper and is teased by many of his classmates.  Kathy befriends him because she realizes there is more to Tommy underneath the bursts of anger and frustration.

At their school, Hailsham, the students are taught normal school subjects but are also pushed to be creative and athletic.  The students know that they are special from others outside of Hailsham, but they aren’t exactly sure how since they are totally isolated.  As teens, more pieces start to fall into place about what makes Hailsham students different and how they can cope in the outside world once they leave the school.  At this time, Ruth and Tommy start to date, leaving Kathy as the third wheel, but she still acts as a confidant to both.  Together, they go through the journey to adulthood while piecing together parts of their past that, at the time, were things that happened in passing that only now start to make sense and will determine the rest of their lives.

Okay, like I said above, this book TOTALLY confused the heck out of me.  I actually had to look up some spoilers because I thought I was just an idiot and didn’t understand what was going on.  If you want to know the real story, you need to go out and read this book yourself.  It would give way too much away if I told you, and what’s the fun in that?

Although the book was confusing and maybe a little bit “too deep” for me (I don’t like to think too much), I did like it, but didn’t love it.  It was something different for me.  I liked that it was told from Kathy’s perspective, but I found it really confusing when Kathy would mention something, then say that she has to tell another story first, then will go off track again before she finally gets back to the story she originally wanted to tell.  By the time that whole song and dance was done, I usually forgot what the original story was.

This weekend when I was in the middle of this book, I was watching E! News and something was mentioned about Keira Knightley’s new movie being shot called “Never Let Me Go“, so I thought to myself, “Hmm, wonder if it’s the same as this book…” and turns out, it is.  The movie starring Keira Knightley as Ruth and Carey Mulligan as Kathy and some dude I don’t know as Tommy is apparently out in theaters in limited release.  (Pssst: Pittsburghers – it’s showing at the Cinemagic Manor Theater in Squirrel Hill and the Waterfront.)  I have a feeling that this story in movie format will be even more confusing as the book, but maybe it will be told in a different order.  Don’t know.  I’ll have to check it out when it gets to Netflix.

Has anyone else read this or seen the movie yet?  Thoughts?

2012 Reading Challenge

2012 Reading Challenge
Jaci has read 1 book toward her goal of 35 books.
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