Posts Tagged ‘women’

What Happens on Sunday by Laurie Koozer

I know an author!  Well, technically we’ve never met in real life, but I know her via Twitter.  It still counts!  Laurie Koozer just published her first novel, “What Happens on Sunday“, and I’m so excited to share my thoughts AND a special Q&A with Laurie!

From Amazon.com:

In Pittsburgh, what happens on football Sundays is more than just a game and for six women during the 2005 Steelers season their complicated relationships with the team provides solace, distraction and occasionally frustration.

Jen is a very young and very pregnant newlywed who worries that getting married on the same day as a Steelers loss will doom her marriage.

Megan never met a tailgate or a man she couldn’t conquer but is scared of losing her best friend to a relationship.

Desiree is a brash professional struggling to deal with her husband’s ex-wife and children and beginning to wonder if it’s the right time to start a family of her own.

Angela is a high school senior long ago branded bad luck for the Steelers and all she wants to do is get the hell out of Pittsburgh even if it means leaving behind her best friend Robbie.

Patty, a mom who sends a pair of sexy panties to a different player every week, hasn’t been on a date since her divorce five years ago.

And then there’s Shannon, thirty-four and single she spends the majority of her days navigating Pittsburgh traffic and her evenings tending bar and pining after her sister’s boyfriend.

As the Steelers make what seems to be an impossible run to the Super Bowl, their lives will intersect, each of them finding connections in the most unexpected places.

I love books set in or about Pittsburgh, you know that.  ”What Happens on Sunday” is no exception.  As a lifelong Pittsburgher and a Steelers fan (duh), I could totally relate to the characters in this book and I think most other people could, too.  Maybe not all of them in all situations, but I feel like I could see little bits of myself in almost all of the ladies.  I could picture the characters as regular women walking around town, someone I might run into at Target or Primanti’s.  The story took me back to the ups and downs of the 2005 football season.

And if you love Pittsburgh, you’ll get your fill with a ton of Pittsburgh references, similes, and metaphors.  I felt like I was “in on the secret” because I knew all of the things and places that were in the story.  Laurie did a great job of capturing the spirit of the city, both good and bad parts and stereotypes.  This was a fun, easy read that I didn’t want to put down, and if you’re local, used to be local, like Pittsburgh for no reason, are a Steelers fan, are a female, or just need something fun to read, get it!  It’s only $3.99 on Amazon – about half the price of a Primanti’s Capicola and Cheese.  Save yourself some calories and buy this instead.

If you want to hear more about the book or follow Laurie’s other adventures in reading and in the ‘Burgh, check out her blog at Yinz R Readin and you can also find her on Twitter at @yinzrreadin.  The ebook is available for sale on Amazon and if you’re not into the ebook thing, you’re in luck!  You can buy a print copy at the following locations: Caliban Books in Oakland, East End Book Exchange at the Pittsburgh Public Market and Eljay’s Used Books in Dormont.  Support local authors and bookstores!

 

Laurie was also nice enough to answer some of my questions about her book (my questions in bold).  Enjoy!

I know you’re a native Pittsburgher. Why did you choose to write your first book about Pittsburghers and the Steelers instead of something else?

I was actually born in Central PA so even though my family moved to Western PA when I was 11, I don’t know if I can claim to be a native Pittsburgher. J I have lived in the city for the past 11 years though and I think that the number one reason I wrote this book was selfishness.   Like you, I love to read and as many books as I’ve read, I’ve never really found one that captured the world or the people that I know, so this was my attempt to do that.

Do you think that readers not familiar with Pittsburgh would understand and enjoy this book as much as someone from Pittsburgh?

I would hope so, but with the specific nature of the book, right now I’m not worrying too much about what Jane Smith from Kansas would think about the book and just hoping that Pittsburghers like it!   Still, I think that the specific characters in the book are struggling with the sorts of conflicts that all sorts of women can relate to – love, loneliness, growing up, etc – so I definitely wouldn’t rule it out from finding a wider audience.

Where did you come up with the characters?  

The original two characters – Patty and Angela – developed from a Post-Gazette article I read about sports rituals and superstitions.  The article talked about women mailing underwear to different players and it really got me wondering what type of person would do that.  And I think we’ve all heard of (or maybe been) the person who has to stay out of the room during a sports game because their family thinks that they’re bad luck.  Usually the person is a sports fan and in on the joke but I started wondering how it would play out if the person being removed from the games wasn’t a fan at all. Jen and Dave were inspired by a couple I saw in Detroit during Super Bowl XL – a husband proudly showing off the Steelers helmet he’d painted on his pregnant wife’s belly.  Shannon’s character was inspired by a neighborhood bar where I used to hang out. Megan and Desiree were more of an amalgam of different types of people that I’ve known or observed over the years.

Was it as hard as I think it would be to intertwine their stories and relationships?

It actually wasn’t because I had that vision from the very beginning so I kind of worked out various scenarios in my head and then worked backwards from there.  I wanted their lives to connect or even collide but I also wanted to have character arcs that stood on their own. More than anything, I wanted it to be reflective of the very real “it’s a small world” thing that is always at play in Pittsburgh where you almost always have a mutual connection to strangers if you dig deep enough.     I have to say that some of my favorite scenes to write were the ones where we see the same incident from multiple points of view – like that infamous night at The Locker Room and especially at Jen’s wedding.

Which one of your characters would you most and least like to be friends with and why?

I feel like I could be friends with all of my characters, but if I have to choose I would say that I probably have the least in common with Jen and that if Patty could ever see fit to leave her desk and take a lunch out sometime, I would love to be her office lady lunch buddy!

How much studying did you have to do on the Steelers’ 2005 season to get all of the facts right?

I don’t know if studying is the right word but I have a binder with recaps of every game and all kinds of articles about different storylines that were going on that year, so yeah I definitely did my homework, even down to researching what weather Pittsburgh was having during specific games that year.  And it wasn’t just the Steelers season I had to research – I started writing in 2006 so everything was very fresh to me but as the years went by I started adding a lot of pop culture and current event facts to my 2005 binder so that I could stay accurate. It’s funny to me that there’s a MySpace reference in the book because that seems pretty quaint now but back then it was pretty big.

Hines Ward or Troy Polamalu?

Troy!!!

Do you have any plans to write a sequel?  I would love to know what happens to all of the characters after the Super Bowl!

I’m glad you asked that question. A lot of people are asking me that and I will take that as a very good sign about the success of these characters and the book itself.  I’m definitely not done with these women –  how that is going to play out I’m not sure yet because with working full-time and kids I don’t get as much writing time as I used to but yeah, there’s definitely a lot more that happens to these characters after Super Bowl XL.

What is your second favorite (assuming yours is your favorite) book set in Pittsburgh?

Ah, I can’t narrow it down so I will say that my second favorite Pittsburgh-set book is a three-way tie between An American Childhood (Annie Dillard), The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky) and Wonder Boys (Michael Chabon).

Lastly, is that your butt on the cover?

No, but I’m flattered that you think it is.  The identity of that front cover butt is supposed to be top-secret but unfortunately I think we messed up when we took my three-year-old on the photo shoot because as soon as she saw the cover she yelled “That’s XX!!!”  So yeah, if you really want to know who that butt belongs to you’ll have to ask her, because I swore I’d never tell.

 

Thanks again to Laurie for the interview and for writing a great book n’at!

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!

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!

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?

2012 Reading Challenge

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

What I'm Reading



Jaci's favorite books »
Categories
Blogroll Center Books