Posts Tagged ‘chick lit’

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!

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

I’ve done something that I rarely ever do.  I read a book AGAIN.  I know, right?  I first read this book probably 5 or so years ago and have read all of Emily Giffin’s other books since.  When I heard that the movie was coming out, I wanted to reread the book since I was a little fuzzy on plot/character details (storylines and characters start to blend together once you’ve read one too many chick lit-type books), but I couldn’t find it on my bookshelf!  I must have let someone borrow it (no pun intended) and never got it back, although I do still have “Something Blue”.  Rather than download a new copy to my Kindle, I wanted to buy a paperback copy so I have both books in the series together (I’m really anal about stuff like that).

“Something Borrowed” is a tale of two best friends, Rachel and Darcy.  Rachel is your everyday “girl next door” – pretty conservative in her life choices, lawyer, single… someone who you could totally be friends with.  Darcy is basically the opposite – always the center of attention, flashy PR job, gets all the guys, etc.  You could say that Rachel is Darcy’s sidekick.  Darcy is engaged to Dex; he and Rachel met in law school and Rachel introduced him to Darcy.  After a surprise party for Rachel’s 30th birthday, Darcy overdoes it on the alcohol.  While she goes home, Dex returns to the bar to look for Darcy’s purse, and one thing led to another, and next thing they know, Rachel and Dex are kissing then go back to her apartment.

At first, they pretend like it didn’t happen and have no intention on telling Darcy.  Then, Rachel starts to notice things about Darcy and the way she is treated by her – Darcy always competes with Rachel and has to win and be better than her.  Why should selfish Darcy get Dex when she doesn’t deserve a guy like that?  Rachel and Dex begin to communicate in secret and begin to carry on a secret affair.  The wedding date is only months away and Rachel has to figure out if she wants Dex, or if she wants to be loyal to her best friend since childhood.  And if she does want Dex, will he want her enough to call off the wedding?

I love love loved this book the first time I read it.  The second time around, I still really liked it and realized it has a lot more drama and emotion than I had remembered.  That’s not a bad thing, though.  It’s just not a happy, fluffy chick lit read.  The book is told from Rachel’s perspective, so even though she is doing something that’s pretty darn bad, you want to side with her (at least I did).  I began to really dislike Darcy and feel like she deserved everything that was coming to her.

If you read this book, make sure you go out and read “Something Blue” next.  It picks up where “Something Borrowed” left off but is told from Darcy’s perspective this time, so it adds a really interesting twist.  Emily Giffin’s other books are all fantastic as well.

Now onto the movie.  I haven’t seen it yet.  Have you?  The previews of it make it look totally different than the book.  I agree that Ginnifer Goodwin is a great Rachel (I loved her way back when she was in “Ed“!), but I was surprised at Kate Hudson as Darcy since in the book, Darcy is clearly described as a brunette.  I guess that doesn’t really matter.  But I could see how she could be a good Darcy, personality-wise.  This fellow, Colin Egglesfield, that they casted as Dex?  Eh. I’ve never heard of him and wasn’t who I had imagined when I had first read the book.  John Krasinski (swoon) as Ethan?  Not sure it would be my first choice either, but I’ll see anything with him in it.  My question: why did they not put the character Hillary (Rachel’s law firm coworker/confidante) in the movie at all?

So, is the movie worth seeing now or wait till it’s on Netflix?  Or is it just going to be so far off from the movie that it’ll make me turn it off halfway through?

All Things Jen Lancaster

So last night, I got to meet Jen Lancaster!!  Her newest book (and her first novel), If You Were Here, just came out and she was on a book tour and stopped in Pittsburgh.  I got there a little late (thanks, traffic) so I was standing in the back of the group and couldn’t really see her during the reading/Q&A session.  If you’ve read any of her books, she seems just as awesome and hilarious as she is in her books.  And super cute and preppy-looking, too.  She was a real trouper and signed the book of every person in line (I also ended up toward the back of the line and it took me almost 2 hours to get to her!) and made sure to chit-chat and get pics with everyone who wanted one.

Jen Lancaster and Jaci

Jen's signature in my book

I am so kicking myself now, though.  See, Jen talks about in her books how when she’s around a celebrity, she starts to talk their ear off and tries to touch their hair.  Her interaction with Alec Baldwin was the best, though (read “My Fair Lazy” to find out what I’m talking about!).  But when I get in front of someone famous (or even semi-famous like a local news personality), I freeze up and can’t even get words out.  What I WISH I would have mentioned to her was: 1) that I have this blog and I’ve read all of her books within the past few months and love her, and 2) that she inspired me from her book “Such a Pretty Fat” to join a gym and get a personal trainer; if she could do it, so could I.  But…. I’m a wimp and just made some comment about the spelling of my name because she mispronounced it and said something about being glad they gave us (the ones in the back of the line) chairs.  Yes, I’m a loser.  Either way, it was really awesome to see hear her talk and get to meet her for 60 seconds.

Here are my short summaries of her books (all but the newest one are memoirs) since I don’t want this post to be TOO long (and it’s best if you read in chronological order, as listed below) –

Bitter is the New Black: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smartass, Or, Why You Should Never Carry a Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office“: Jen was in a high-paying executive career until the post-September 11th recession, when she was fired.  Her life goes from one extreme to the other pretty quickly and her then boyfriend, Fletch, also finds himself out of a job.  Through a number of temp jobs and some difficult and frustrating situations involving money, they come out on top and Jen lands a book deal in the process.

“Bright Lights, Big Ass: A Self-Indulgent, Surly, Ex-Sorority Girl’s Guide to Why it Often Sucks in the City, Or, Who are These Idiots and Why Do They All Live Next to Me?”: This one is a little more about Jen’s daily life and experience living in Chicago in a questionable neighborhood, shopping, and her thoughts on just about everything.

“Such a Pretty Fat: One Narcissist’s Quest to Discover If Her Life Makes Her Ass Look Big, Or, Why Pie Is Not the Answer”: Jen proposes an idea for a new book: a memoir about her journey to lose weight.  Once it is accepted by her publisher, she realizes she actually has to DO it.  She hires a personal trainer named Barbie (just imagine how that turns out) and goes on a number of different diets.  This is the book that pushed me to get off the couch and join a gym and try to eat better.  At her signing last night, someone asked if she still sees Barbie (which she doesn’t, she moved away) and Jen stated that she has realized it is more enjoyable NOT to go to the gym.

“Pretty in Plaid: A Life, A Witch, and A Wardrobe, Or, The Wonder Years Before the Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smart-Ass Phase”: This one’s a little different, as Jen details her clothing choices from childhood up until current day and how they’ve shaped her life.  To be honest, although I did like this book, it is not my favorite out of her collection.  I like the current snarky Jen more than hearing about her younger days.

“My Fair Lazy: One Reality Television Addict’s Attempt to Discover if Not Being A Dumb Ass is the New Black, Or, A Culture-Up Manifesto“: In between working on her books, Jen has become a reality TV addict.  After spending time with a more “cultured” friend, she embarks on a quest to become more well-rounded as a person and learn about the arts and ethnic dining, which she calls her “Jennaissance”.

Don’t pay attention to the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.  I agree that maybe she’s not everyone’s taste, but Jen Lancaster is freakin’ hilarious.  She’s snarky, sarcastic, snotty, and sometimes inappropriate, but she sure is entertaining.  She tends to say and do those things that you think in your head but would never actually do.  Need some good beach reads for this summer?  Pick up some of her books.  You might get some looks when you start laughing out loud while reading them, but it’s worth it.  Her books are a “guilty pleasure”, some would say.

I’m looking forward to reading her newest book and will blog about it when I’m done!

Frenemies by Megan Crane

Last week, I was in the mood for a chick lit book.  I didn’t have any waiting for me to read on my Kindle, so I thought I’d use the handy dandy Random Number Generator to help me pick a book from the Chick Lit 100 for me to read.   The number that came up was #30, so that’s what I read.

Frenemies” is about a Boston girl named Gus (short for Augustus) who is nearing the big 3-0.  Her life is going great until she realizes her boyfriend, Nate, was cheating on her with her old college roommate, Helen.  Gus actually catches them in the act – Nate’s housemate, Henry, lets Gus into the house one night when he knew that Nate and Helen were together kissing in the kitchen.  Because of this, Gus has developed a deep hatred toward both Helen and Henry, but not Nate.

Since Gus and Nate were friends before they started dating, Gus has to deal with running into Nate and Helen in public quite a bit because they still share the same social circle.  Gus’s two best friends, Georgia and Amy Lee, are sick of Gus whining about Nate and Helen and tell her to grow up and get over it.  That makes Gus even more angry, and to make matters worse, Helen is “stalking” Gus.  Helen doesn’t understand why she and Gus aren’t friends anymore (um, she stole Gus’s boyfriend!).  You see, Helen is one of “those girls”… one of the girls who everyone loves and is perfect in every way, but who can’t be friends with girls.

When Amy Lee tells off Gus and Georgia after a situation at a party, Gus is faced with the fact that maybe she does need to grow up and let things with Nate go, and it helps that her eyes are finally opened up to what her and Nate’s relationship really meant to him.  Gus also struggles with the fact that the person who she acts like she hates the most is the one who was trying to help her in the first place and may not have the worse intentions…

This book was a pretty quick and easy read.  Turns out, Megan Crane actually wrote it after watching the movie “Mean Girls“.  She thought that the movie didn’t show the worst of what can happen between girl friends and that’s what she set out to do in this book.  At some points, I found Gus slightly annoying and agreed that she was acting like a teenager and not a 29-year old, but maybe that was the point.  I wish that the characters would have been developed a bit more to add to the storyline a little.  Overall, it was okay, but not my favorite chick lit book ever.

Megan Crane has three other books published but nothing in the past few years.  The reviews for the other books seem pretty decent on Amazon so maybe I’ll check one of them out next time I’m itching to read a chick lit book.

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!

2012 Reading Challenge

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