Posts Tagged ‘fiction’

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?

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?

Night Road by Kristin Hannah

Being able to pre-order new releases before they come out on the Kindle is pretty sweet.  It’s nice because you don’t pay for the book until it is automatically delivered to your Kindle on release day so you can pre-order books months in advance and not spend all of that money all at once.  I couldn’t wait to read Kristin Hannah’s newest book that just came out a few weeks ago.

Night Road” is told in chunks of time.  It starts out in 2000 when twin teenagers Mia and Zach are entering high school.  The twins are inseparable, even though they are somewhat different: Zach plays sports and is quite popular; Mia is quiet, shy, and doesn’t really have her own set of friends outside of Zach’s.  They seem to balance each other out and are quite dependent on each other.  At this same time, another girl named Lexi, an orphan who has bounced from foster home to foster home, moves into their small town in Washington to be taken in by her great aunt who she has never met before.  Lexi is a bit of a loner herself and on the first day of high school, Lexi and Mia meet during lunch and quickly become best friends.  Judy, Mia and Zach’s mother, has initial concerns about Lexi (her family history, background, etc.) since  their family is quite well-to-do.  Judy is also worried that Lexi will use Mia to get to Zach, which is what happened with another friend of Mia’s in the past.

Fast forward a few years: all this time, Lexi has had a secret crush on Zach but hasn’t done anything about it due to Judy’s concerns.  After a party, Lexi comes on to Zach and he later reveals that he’s had feelings for her the whole time, too.  As Lexi and Zach begin a relationship, and after Mia and Judy’s initial shock wears off, the three teens become as close as ever.  Mia and Zach are both accepted into USC for college, while Lexi can only afford to go to the community college.  Zach doesn’t want to leave Lexi and wants to stay behind in Washington with her, but Mia is too scared to go off to college by herself.

All three kids go to the big graduation celebration party held by one of their classmates at the end of the year.  They drink at the party, even though they promised Judy they wouldn’t.  When it’s time to leave and all three are drunk, Zach and Mia are too afraid to call their mother for a ride even though Judy said they can always call instead of driving after drinking.  What happens next will change everyone’s lives…

I hate leaving you with a cliche cliffhanger like that but that’s really all I can say without giving major spoilers.   I have a habit of not reading the book jacket/summary for authors I like so I had no clue what was going to happen in this book so even up to this point, everything was a surprise to me.

I’ve enjoyed all of Kristin Hannah‘s other books so far but this one was really captivating.  There is so much that happens in the book (so much more after I stopped my summary above) but it’s easy to digest because she breaks it into chunks of years over a decade or so with gaps in between.  I will tell you right now that I almost cried a number of times while reading this but held it in because I was reading it while sitting in the waiting area at the mechanic while getting my car worked on and there were other people around.  The characters were really realistic and the story really draws you in.  I found myself siding with certain characters over others.

I know it’s not summer yet, but if you have any spring vacations coming up and you don’t mind an emotional, potentially tear-jerking book, add this to your reading list.

Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult has been one of my favorite authors for the past few years now and in fact I’ve blogged about two other of her books here.  I noticed several days ago while browsing around in the Kindle bookstore that she had a new novel out as of March 1.  This one is a little unique… a CD is apparently included with the hard cover/paperback versions and a digital download of a CD accompanies the ebook version (however, the Kindle doesn’t  support that so it pointed me toward the publisher’s website where I could go to hear the songs).  I’ll be honest – I haven’t actually listened to the music yet, but it is supposed to go along with the different chapters of the book (one song per chapter) to fit the mood/feeling of each chapter and situation.

Sing You Home” is about a music therapist named Zoe and her landscaper-slash-surfer husband, Max.  Zoe works with many types of clients in hospitals, nursing homes, and schools to use music to help them work through different issues.  Zoe and Max have infertility issues and have been trying to have a baby for years but have suffered multiple miscarriages and now, after several IVF treatments, a stillbirth.  While Zoe wants to try again one more time since she’s reaching the age of 40, Max has had it and can’t handle (or afford) another round of IVF and asks for a divorce.  After the divorce, Zoe tries to make some new female friends and quickly becomes close with Vanessa, a guidance counselor at the high school where she’s done some therapy.

Zoe doesn’t realize at first, but Vanessa is a lesbian.  As they spend more time together hanging out as friends, they both realize that they care much more for each other than friends.  Zoe admits that she never had this type of connection with Max the entire time they were married.  They become a couple, and after several months of dating, they visit the neighboring state of Massachusetts and officially get married, although it’s not recognized in their home state of Rhode Island.  After their marriage, they talk about children and Zoe remembers that she has three frozen embryos from her last round of IVF.  Although Zoe has had a hysterectomy and can no longer have children, Vanessa is able to carry a child.

The problem is that after the divorce, Max was taken under the wing of a local pastor of a popular church and has developed strong religious views.  He is not approving of Zoe’s new lifestyle.  When Zoe asks for his permission for her and Vanessa to use the remaining embryos, Max does not want their children raised in a lesbian household and instead wants to give the embryos to his brother and sister-in-law, who also suffer from fertility issues.  What follows is a lawsuit to prevent Zoe from using the embryos and a media circus when it comes to this controversial topic.

Some of Jodi Picoult’s other books have definitely discussed controversial issues but this one is probably the most controversial that I’ve read from her.  I’ve seen very mixed reviews on this book but I like to form my own opinion rather than relying on others.  I’m not going to get into how I personally feel about these topics because that’s not what this blog is about and you can decide on your own if this book is for you.  All I will say is that I was drawn into the story and didn’t want to put the book (actually, my Kindle) down.  I could really imagine the characters as real people and Picoult did a good job of getting the reader to feel their emotions.

If anyone does check out the music that goes with the book (or reads the book while listening to the music), let me know how it is.  I’m sure I’ll go listen to it at some point.

2012 Reading Challenge

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