Posts Tagged ‘contemporary’

I’m Not the Biggest Bitch in This Relationship: Hilarious, Heartwarming Tales About Man’s Best Friends from America’s Favorite Humorists by Wade Rouse

 

Stories about dogs.  By some of my favorite authors.  Need I say more?  AND LOOK AT THE COVER.

I’m Not the Biggest Bitch in This Relationship” is a compilation of very short stories from a variety of popular writers about man’s (or woman’s) best friend.  The book starts with a foreword by Chunk, comedienne Chelsea Handler’s adopted pup.  The rest of the stories were told from the perspective of the human.  I was especially excited to read the stories from Jen Lancaster, Jenny Gardiner, Laurie Notaro, Jane Green, and Sarah Pekkanen (particularly because I am a big fan of their other books).  This book also helped introduce me to some new-t0-me authors who were especially hilarious.

These stories weren’t super sad, “Marley and Me“-ending types of stories.  Most of them were laugh-out-loud funny, and if not laugh-out-loud funny, then at least chuckle-and-smile-to-myself funny.  Others were sweet and loving stories that made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  If you have a dog, this book will make you really appreciate your relationship with your furry best friend, and if you don’t have a dog, you will probably want to go out and adopt one right away!  Also, 50% of each book purchased goes to the Humane Society of the United States.  How could you go wrong?

Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante

 

While we were honeymooning in California, we met up with a friend of my husband’s in San Francisco.  We were talking about books and I mentioned my blog, and he recommended a new book recently released by a friend of his.  I downloaded it during dinner because it sounded so fascinating (but didn’t start reading it at dinner, because of course that would have been rude).

In “Turn of Mind”, Dr. Jennifer White is a retired orthopedic surgeon in her 60′s.  She also has been diagnosed with dementia.  It also just so happens that her best friend, Amanda, was recently found murdered.  Jennifer has her good days and her bad days and often doesn’t even realize that Amanda is gone or who her children are.  Jennifer’s husband passed away a few years ago and Jennifer often mistakes her son for her late husband.  She has a caretaker who she sometimes doesn’t recognize and she has escaped from the house on multiple occasions.

What is even more confusing for Jennifer is the fact that she is being questioned as a suspect in the case of Amanda’s murder.  Amanda was found with several fingers severed… in a manner than only an expert could do.  Does Jennifer remember what happened?  Did she do it?  And if she did, what would possess her to kill her best friend?

The story is told from Jennifer’s perspective, bouncing back and forth between coherent and way far gone into the depths of dementia.  This was one of the most uniquely written books that I have personally ever read.  You are getting a firsthand account of what a person may go through when suffering from dementia and it is both extremely sad (particularly if you know anyone who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s) and completely enthralling.  It’s a murder mystery where the suspect doesn’t even know if they committed the crime.  There are actually some funny parts to the story but some heartbreaking ones, too.

I found a great interview with Alice LaPlante if you want to learn more about the back story and why she wrote about dementia.  This is her first novel and I really hope to see something else from her in the future.  Trust me, you will not want to put this book down after you pick it up.

A Life That Fits by Heather Wardell

So remember how excited I was when I received my first request to review a book?  Imagine my excitement when I got another request!  Heather Wardell asked me to read and blog about her book and I was so pumped to see that it was just the type of book that I love to read.

A Life That Fits“ is about a girl named Andrea in her late 20′s.  She’s been with her boyfriend Alex for…. well, pretty much forever!  They have been dating for 14 years and  have been living together but aren’t engaged.  Yet.  Andrea is on her way home from a business trip and is convinced that Alex will be at home waiting for her with a ring and a proposal, based on the way he’s been acting lately.  Oh, was she wrong.  Turns out, Alex confesses that he’s leaving her for another woman.  Andrea is devastated (rightly so!) and falls into a depression and can’t even make it into the office for work.

Alex had told Andrea that his “other woman” was basically Andrea’s total opposite.  Andrea finally gets back up on her feet after deciding that she’ll become her opposite and maybe that’ll be what Alex wants and he’ll come back.  She is more outgoing, dresses in clothes that she normally wouldn’t buy (colors!!), etc.  This helps Andrea in a few ways, making new female friends, for example, but also hurts her.  She is basically ousted from her job, but luckily has already accepted an offer with another company in the office park.  She has a new girl friend at the new job, and she also develops a crush on a coworker that starts to develop into more.  But Andrea is torn…. she likes her new life, but does she still like it if Alex isn’t in it?

At first, I wasn’t sure about Andrea because I was getting mad that she wasn’t snapping out of her funk.  But then I wondered how I would feel if I were in her shoes.  After she developed her opposite plan (even though I didn’t support her going back to Alex), I began to root for her and hope she would realize that she didn’t need Alex to be happy.  I rooted for her even more when she started to get eyes for another man!  Go Andrea!  I also wanted to punch Alex.

There are some little twists and turns in this book that I didn’t quite expect and some others that I kinda figured out on my own.  The characters were written as normal everyday people… nothing glamorous or fancy, but people like who you may personally know.  Those are the kinds of characters I really like and can totally relate to.  I can’t wait to read more of Heather Wardell’s books!  She has six other books out, and if you have a Kindle… they’re either free or $0.99!  Awesome!  In fact, I just downloaded her first book, “Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo, as I was writing this post.  It’ll be next on my list to read.  Thanks for the opportunity to read your book, Heather!

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!

Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart

I can’t remember how I ran across this book several months back.  It didn’t really seem like something I’d normally read, so maybe that’s why I decided to give it a go.

Super Sad True Love Story” is about the future… sometime in the future.  In fact, I read in an article (wish I would have saved the link – no clue where I saw it) that the author said that it could be as soon as “next Tuesday”.  Lenny Abramov is a New Yorker with Russian immigrant parents who works for an Indefinite Life Extension Company, basically a company that helps people live forever.  Lenny is middle aged, which puts him at a disadvantage to his young, healthy, and popular coworkers.  Lenny hasn’t had luck in love until he meets a young Korean-American woman named Eunice, who would be the last person on Earth that you’d imagine would want someone like Lenny.  At first, she wants nothing to do with him, but she eventually comes around and is open to the companionship, although she never quite puts herself as fully into the relationship as Lenny does.  He practically worships her and is terrified to lose her.

Being that this story is taking place in the future, you can get a glimpse of what our future may possibly be like.  America is in financial ruin and China rules the world.  Every person has an electronic device they wear around their neck called an “apparat” that connects them to EVERYTHING (is this where we’re going with smartphones?).  If you dare to break the rules or speak against the leaders, you would be in some trouble.  All this is happening around the little bubble of life that Lenny has created around himself and Eunice.  Lenny tries to be hip and young, although he still hangs on to his old-fashioned things such as books and his diary.  Then stuff starts REALLY going bad.

I haven’t read any of Gary Shteyngart’s other books, but I guess he’s known for his satirical writing style.  As I said before, this probably wouldn’t have been something I would have normally picked up, but I found the story really interesting.  It took me awhile to get through, but I was always wanting to know what would happen next in Future New York.  It wasn’t laugh-out-loud funny, but it was somewhat humorous in places.  I found myself feeling bad for Lenny and annoyed at Eunice (for acting so immature and mean sometimes).  Frankly, I hope our future doesn’t turn into this.  It was very Big Brother-ish, and the girls pranced around in various styles of see-through jeans.  Yeah… I’d rather not.

Has anyone else read this or anything else by Shteyngart?  What did you think?   Are there any other similar authors out there that you’d recommend?

2012 Reading Challenge

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