Archive for September 2010

Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

I was pretty quick with this one – it JUST got released on September 21st.  As much as I wanted to start reading it the day it was delivered to my Kindle (since I pre-ordered it), I had to finish the other book I was reading first so I didn’t start this one till Saturday night.  I don’t have the attention span or good enough memory to read two books at once.

I’m not going to rehash the entire five-book series before “Mini Shopaholic” because if you’re reading this, you’ve most likely read at least one of the books already.

The last time we saw Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood), she was expecting a baby.  Fast forward several years, Becky and Luke have a darling 2-year old girl named Minnie.  Unfortunately, Minnie has gotten her mother’s genes when it comes to loving material things and being stubborn.  Luke begins to worry when Minnie gets kicked out of her FOURTH Santa’s Grotto (apparently that’s what they call the Santa visiting displays in England) that perhaps she is out of control and has a behavior problem.  They look into nanny services that are known to have structure and teach the children multiple languages and martial arts and well, that doesn’t turn out so well.

Becky is also determined to do something special for Luke – throw him a surprise party.  Luke isn’t fond of birthdays.  When Becky brings up this idea for their family and friends, they are skeptical that she would actually follow through and be able to keep it a surprise.  As Becky is planning, she goes a little crazy with the ideas and of course, gets in over her head.  Then, an unexpected guest comes in to offer their help….

Along the way, Becky is trying REALLY hard to control her spending.  At Christmastime, she promises Luke that she will wear each of her items of clothing three times before she is allowed to buy herself something new… which would last her until October of the next year.  While she’s trying not to spend for herself, she feels that it’s okay to spend on Minnie and take it out of her “pocket money” account, which she doesn’t really have yet because she’s only 2.  Luke’s suspicions about Becky’s spending are heightened even more than usual as she’s trying to hide the birthday party planning and he thinks she’s gotten herself into spending trouble (again).

As much as I like reading this series for entertainment value, sometimes I think Becky’s a total idiot and want to shake her shoulders and yell at her, “Haven’t you learned your lesson yet???”  The book was a VERY quick and easy read and took me less than two days to read.  One really stupid thing bothered me: all of the dates mentioned in the book were between 2005 and 2006.  There was one reference to a variety of Google products including Google Chrome, Google Wave, Google Voice, etc.  Um, those things weren’t around that long ago.  I guess none of the editors caught that one.

If you’ve read the rest of the series, you must read this one.  I also suspect that there will be another addition to the series after this one based upon how the book ended, but I won’t give you any more hints than that!

19 Questions…

I ran across this list of book-related questions and thought it might be fun to fill out so you can learn a little more about me!  How would YOU answer some of these?  Let me know in the comments!

1. Which book has been on your shelves the longest?
The books that I’ve owned the longest are “Jane Eyre”, “Emma”, and the “Bell Jar”, all from high school English classes (complete with highlighted quotes inside).

2. What is your current read, your last read and the book you’ll read next?
Current Read: “Family Tree” by Barbara Delinsky
Last Read: “Bake Sale Murder” by Leslie Meier
Next Book: “Mini Shopaholic” by Sophie Kinsella

3. What book did everyone like and you hated?
Anything by Candace Bushnell – I can’t get through any of her books.  Also, “Love in the Time of Cholera”.  I bought it and tried reading it and just couldn’t get into it.

4. Which book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read, but you probably won’t?
I keep wanting to read the Stieg Larsson trilogy, but I keep finding other books that I would rather read first.  I’m sure I’ll get around to them eventually… probably once they’ve lost their popularity.

5. Which book are you saving for “retirement?”
I don’t think I could actually save any books – what’s the point of buying it if you’re not going to try to read it right away (or as soon as you get through the rest of the pile you have waiting)?

6. Last page: read it first or wait till the end?
I never skip to the end.  It’s much easier to not be tempted when you have a Kindle and can’t flip through pages.

7. Acknowledgements: waste of ink and paper or interesting aside?
I typically don’t read them unless there’s an interesting story incorporated with them.

8. Which book character would you switch places with?
I don’t know if I could pick.  There’s always positive and negative features of each character and their situation.  I can’t even think of one off the top of my head right now!

9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life (a person, a place, a time)?
The bulk of my reading has occurred since my fiancé and I have been together so they all kind of tie back to him, somehow.  Nothing specific, though.

10. Name a book you acquired in some interesting way.
The only one I can think of is “Holly’s Inbox: Scandal in the City”.  I couldn’t find it for sale in the US so I bought a used version online originally from the UK that had a British Red Cross sticker on it.

11. Have you ever given away a book for a special reason to a special person?
Not particularly.  I’ve loaned books out before if I think the person will like it, but that has lead to me not getting many of them back that I wanted to eventually read again one day.

12. Which book has been with you to the most places?
Does my Kindle count?  I always take it with me on trips and sometimes to work if I want to read during lunch!

13. Any “required reading” you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad ten years later?
I actually hated all reading in high school.  I went through a phrase where I didn’t read for fun from probably middle school to after college.  I’ve re-read some of my high school books (see question #1) recently and enjoyed them.

14. What is the strangest item you’ve ever found in a book?
I don’t think I’ve found anything in a book.  Most of the books I buy are new.

15. Used or brand new?
Following up on the question above, I prefer new (or as new as possible) because I like the crisp pages and I hate when the spine is cracked or creased.  I’ve been buying some used books lately for money saving purposes but I won’t buy something that is in bad condition.  A used book with stains grosses me out.

16. Stephen King: Literary genius or opiate of the masses?
I’ve actually never read any Stephen King books.  I think they would give me nightmares.

17. Have you ever seen a movie you liked better than the book?
Wow, that’s a hard one.  I saw the movie version of “The Notebook” first and was disappointed in the book.  Otherwise, I don’t really care for movie versions of books.

18. Conversely, which book should NEVER have been introduced to celluloid?
I had to turn off “Message in a Bottle” because it was so off from the book and made me mad.  The “Shopaholic” movie was also really dumb (although I loved the books).

19. Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take?
My mom.  She’s the one who got me reading for fun again by letting me borrow “The Guardian” by Nicholas Sparks.  I was hooked after that.  We have the same taste in books.

Sliding into Home by Kendra Wilkinson

There aren’t too many other girls that I know who DIDN’T watch the original “The Girls Next Door” on E!.  It was just one of those shows where your curiosity got the best of you and you just wanted to know what went on behind the scenes of the Playboy Mansion and what it was like to be a girlfriend of a rich (VERY rich), old man who likes to wear robes and sailor hats.

I went into reading “Sliding into Home” not expecting any literary work of genius (and literary work of genius it was not).  This is the story of Kendra Wilkinson, the third and youngest former girlfriend of Hugh Hefner during the “Girls Next Door” days.  Kendra sets out to explain what made her the person she is today, including her rough upbringing.  As a child, Kendra’s father walks out on the family and she is raised by her mom and grandma.  Once she reaches her teen years, she begins to rebel and gets involved with the wrong crowd.  She gets heavily involved in alcohol and a variety of different drugs and is in and out of high school and even does short stint in rehab.  Everything her mom tries to do to help doesn’t work.  At one point, when Kendra almost overdoses, it wakes her up and makes her realize that she doesn’t want to her life to be THAT anymore.

Once she cleans herself up and finishes high school, she begins dating another guy who she feels is so much better for her.  She gets a job as a dental assistant and her life seems to be on the right track… until she begins to get bored of her job and is looking for a new way to make ends meet.  She and her boyfriend attend a lot of car shows and she starts to get attention by photographers and begins to model with cars and motorcycles.  That helps her build confidence in herself that she didn’t really have before and leads her to a new job as a stripper.

My memory is a little fuzzy on how the transaction from stripping to Playboy happened (that’s what I get for not blogging immediately after I finish a book and it’s too hard to look something up again on my Kindle), but basically she was called to work at a Playboy party and Hef took a liking to her and asked her to be his girlfriend and move in (very quickly, I may add).  She was a little hesitant at first, especially because she still had a boyfriend, but figured she couldn’t pass up an opportunity like that.

Then, as you know, she met Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Hank Baskett, they got pregnant, married, and are living happily ever after.  The book goes into a lot more detail about how they met (and had to keep their relationship a secret for so long) and what her life is like now.

The part of the book that I was really interested in was went on behind the scenes of “The Girls Next Door” and the mansion.  I’m not going to tell you those juicy details – you’re going to have to read the book and find out yourself!  It was pretty much what I expected, I guess, but it is just a bit shocking for someone to actually confirm those things.  Kendra talked about her relationship with Holly and Bridget and the mansion staff and how she really felt about Hef.  I also had no idea she was a stripper or how bad her drug problem really was, so that was a surprise for me.  Overall, it wasn’t the best book I have ever read, but I find it interesting to go “behind the scenes” and learn about someone “famous”.  I also give Kendra credit for ‘fessing up to her sketchy past and putting it all out there (in more ways than one).

P.S. So while doing a little bit more research and planning on venting about how much I can’t stand the new girlfriends (mostly the twins, I don’t mind Crystal as much), I found out that the twins are actually no longer his girlfriends (Wikipedia stated that they both had other boyfriends and moved out earlier this year).  The spin-off show, “The Bunny House”, aired a pilot in August where the twins moved into the guest house or whatever it’s called with some more of the Playmates.  I have no clue if it got picked up or will be continued though – I don’t remember even hearing about it or seeing it.  Crystal is apparently his only girlfriend now.

Spoiler Alert!

Has anyone else seen this video yet?  Of course, since it was about books, I just had to check it out.

Okay… it’s a little cheesy, but you have to give them points for being creative.  And now I will never have to read any Harry Potter books!  Thanks Fine Brothers!  :)

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

I really need to keep on top of my blogging – I’ll read books and then forget to blog about them until several months later.  Oops!  That’s what happens when you’re a fast reader, I guess.  I read this book earlier this summer.  I had heard some rumblings about it since it was on the NYT Bestseller list, but wasn’t really sure what it was about.  Truthfully, I wasn’t sure at first if I would actually like it.

As “Water for Elephants” starts, Jacob Janikowski is an old man in his nineties in a nursing home.  He despises the nursing home and everything about it.  One day, a circus comes into town nearby and all of the other residents’ families come to take them to see the circus… except Jacob’s family.  He begins to reflect on his younger days after another nursing home resident makes a comment about when he used to work with a circus, which Jacob seriously refutes.

Each chapter alternates between Jacob’s current life in the nursing home and his younger life, when he ran away to join the circus.  He was a veterinary student at Cornell, almost ready to graduate, when his parents were killed in a tragic car accident.  Not knowing what to do with himself and not having any money from his family, Jacob takes a chance and joins a circus tour.  They reluctantly accept him into their group after learning of his veterinary background and his ability to work with their animals.  The Benzini Brothers circus has many a shady character, and Jacob has to always watch his back, not wanting to stir up trouble with circus leader, Uncle Al, or the animal trainer, August.  Against his better judgment, Jacob begins to fall in love with Marlena, August’s wife, and the star performer.  Marlena is a gem amongst the rest of the circus employees – she’s beautiful and has a true way with animals, especially Rosie, an elephant that the circus inherits from another circus that they came across on their travels.  This relationship, obviously, puts a target on Jacob’s back and slowly, the circus begins to fall apart.

I enjoyed this book so much more than I thought I would.  The story was not a true story; however, the author did thorough research on circus life during the early part of the century and makes the reader aware of how horrible the conditions were and the way the people and animals were treated.  Many of the events in this book were taken from pieces of other stories that Sara Gruen had read about.  I found the details very fascinating and while some of them weren’t very pleasant, there were others that made me smile – especially the antics of Rosie the elephant.

I also just found out that this book is being made into a movie, potentially set to be released sometime next year.  I personally think that this story would make a fabulous movie.  I’m sure it wouldn’t be able to incorporate all of the details and little stories that were in the book, but it will be really interesting to see how they make the book characters into characters on the big screen.  Robert Pattinson will be playing Jacob (I really can’t stand him, but it’s probably because he’s so weird in Twilight and I think his face looks like a caveman, so I wonder how he’ll turn out) and Reese Witherspoon will be playing Marlena (I think this is a good choice and I can totally picture it).  I don’t really recognize any of the names of the other characters.  I’m really looking forward to seeing it!

2012 Reading Challenge

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

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