As a single woman in a couples world, I was drawn to this novel. But it wasn't until I cyber-met the lovely Lisette Brod...moreMolly Hacker is Too Appealing!
As a single woman in a couples world, I was drawn to this novel. But it wasn't until I cyber-met the lovely Lisette Brodey when she interviewed me at her Author Chateau that I bumped this story to the top of my list. And what a funny, clever story it is.
Molly Hacker is a 32-year-old newspaper reporter whose single status seems to be of great concern to her friends and family. "Just settle down with a husband!" they say. "Stop being too picky!"
But Molly doesn't want just anyone to be her partner for life. (Smart woman!) She's looking for a guy who's cute, interesting, and funny. A guy just like her ex, Leo. Their breakup broke her heart and her trust, and now her mantra is "I must, I must, I must begin to trust."
I REALLY relate to Molly. She is an independent writer, won't settle for just any guy, likes Coldplay and Maroon 5, has a hilarious gay BFF and a misbehaving cat, and even wishes she could've been a psychologist (my career). However, she's more neurotic than I am (I hope). And I'm so thankful people don't get on my case about being single. Poor Molly has to endure meddling friends and family.
When my aunt Pauline asked me why a pretty girl like me couldn't have brought a man to the wedding who wasn't attached to someone else, I asked the thrice-divorced sister of my mother to explain to me how settling for three Mr. Wrongs had enhanced her life.
She's certainly not a shrinking violet! Molly is a lot funnier than me, too. Her insights crack me up, like:
I was feeling like the rock star's girlfriend. I liked that, but then my lips started forming the word "groupie", and I didn't want to be considered one or to fend off their overzealous affection for my man. My man? I needed to regroup. Or did I need to regroupie?
"What does 'cute as a button' mean, anyway?" I asked. "I mean, how did buttons ever become the poster children for cuteness?"
But her coworker friend Randy steals the show with his cleverness:
I just stared at Randy, noticing his face had a strange orange glow to it. "And your face is orange because … ?" "Okay. Self-tanner. Put on too much for too long. Tried to impress. What a mess. I confess. Now I digress. What's up with you, or should I guess?" "Give it a rest, I chimed in."… "I hate men," I said, glaring at him. "ALL of them." "Molly Rose, how irrational. What has gotten into you? Why so blue?" "If you can be orange, I can be blue!" I said. "Such colorful banter," he said.
Ha ha! Then, when invasive socialite Naomi shows up unannounced at Molly's office, Randy has some fun:
To complicate my ever-complicated life, nothing ever got past Randy, who had taken from his desk drawer a Scream mask (derived from the famous Edvard Munch painting), put it on his face, and proceeded to stand three feet away from the threshold of my office door, mocking every move Naomi made behind her back.
Molly encounters quite a few suitors throughout the story, including a rock star painter, her high school crush (who's now getting a divorce), an older man who's wealthy and suave, and an awkward yet endearing man. If she decides to choose one of these men, which one will it be? This mystery match-making element kept me turning the pages.
It's clear that Molly Hacker is well-deserving of a wonderful man who matches her wit and style.(less)
Hopeless blew me away. (See my review here). Colleen Hoover has amazed me by turning Sky and Holder's trauma into...moreI Live to Read Colleen Hoover Novels
Hopeless blew me away. (See my review here). Colleen Hoover has amazed me by turning Sky and Holder's trauma into triumph, and she has made Holder my favorite book boyfriend. He is so smart, loving, and kind. So it was such a treat to read Sky's journey of discovery from Holder's perspective in Losing Hope.
I'm impressed this story didn't feel rehashed. The addition of Holder's interactions with his sister's boyfriend, along with heart-wrenching letters to and from Les, pack a powerful emotional punch in this story.
There are two issues I have with this series:
1. Les's therapist. The trauma Les sustained is horrific. And, people can heal from that. If Les wasn't getting better after years of therapy, TIME FOR A NEW THERAPIST. Did the therapist even ask if Les was thinking about suicide? Sometimes even the best therapists can't help clients, especially if clients are hell-bent on killing themselves, but I thought this potential malpractice was glossed over in the story.
2. The cover model is cute and all, but he just doesn't look like Dean Holder to me. I picture Holder as taller and lankier, with less of a preppy look. What do you think?
These are minor complaints I have for a masterpiece of a story. The sadness, the humor, the depth of characterization, and most of all, the hope…I can't wait to read what Colleen Hoover writes next.(less)
How does a woman move on after the death of her husband? Having two adorable sons and supportive parents helps. But what really...moreFixated on This Story!
How does a woman move on after the death of her husband? Having two adorable sons and supportive parents helps. But what really does the trick is falling in love with a humble movie star who needs some fixing of his own.
So goes the romance of Kelly and Andrew, who meet when Kelly breaks down sobbing on a run. Andrew's in town for a film shoot, and he feels sad to learn it's the two year anniversary of Kelly's husband's death. They gradually get to know each other. Can a famous actor and a down-to-earth widow make this long distance relationship work? It'll be tough, given Kelly's lovable neuroticism, Andrew's shady past, and initial exchanges like this:
He fishes his cell phone and sunglasses out of the car. "Can I get your number?" "You don't want my number." "Yes, I do." "No, you don't." Seriously, is he kidding? "Do too." He shakes his head. "This is insane. Why not?" "Look at you. Come on." He stares at me with those very blue eyes. "Don't be ridiculous. Give me your number."
I loved the unique setting of Boise (said with an "s", not a "z"!) and the realistic characters. But what I loved most of all was the humor. MAJOR props for the mention of that Saturday Night Live skit "Master Thespian!" As well as these quotes:
Starting the first day I get little texts each day: "Development meeting in 90210. Lady across from me has taken 'bee stung' lips to a horrifying new level."
"You'll fly down here. A quick visit. Now go, make the phone calls. Make it so." "I will see what I can do, Jean-Luc Picard. You're a huge nerd." "You're the one who knows the name of the captain."
The salesgirl is done giving me the up and down. "Size six is the largest we go." "I'm sorry, I missed it. Did the sign above the door say Big Heads on a Toothpick R Us?"
If my life were a movie this'd be the part where the montage begins. You know, they'd play a kicky song like "Walking on Sunshine," and there'd be shots of Andrew and me getting ice cream, riding bicycles through the park, playfully doing lots of things as a happy couple.
Ha ha ha!
The only part of the story I didn't eat up was when Kelly reveals something about her deceased husband Peter toward the end of the novel. That part of the story didn't quite seem to fit as essential, unless I'm missing something.
Kelly and Andrew admire Ernest Hemingway, and it appears author Beck Anderson does as well, evidenced by her short sentences and overall clean writing.
Spend some time with Kelly and Andrew and you'll enjoy them as much as I do!(less)
Thank you to my friend Sue for choosing this hilarious epistolary novel for book club! The first half had me laughing alm...moreSkewering Seattle Soccer Moms
Thank you to my friend Sue for choosing this hilarious epistolary novel for book club! The first half had me laughing almost every page. I suspected it would be difficult to maintain the intensity of the humor for the whole novel, and unfortunately I was correct. The characters and storyline were so farcical and shocking that it was a bit disappointing when the reality of consequences hit the story. But it's still a fantastic, unique read.
Bee Branch is a fourteen year-old super-star student at Galer Street School in Seattle. From the first words of the novel--the mission statement of Bee's school--I knew I was in for a parody:
Galer Street School is a place where compassion, academics, and global connectitude join together to create civic-minded citizens of a sustainable and diverse planet.
Um, connectitude? It's no surprise when we learn that school parent Audrey Griffin wrote the mission statement. She's neighbor to Bee and her family, and Bee's mother Bernadette Fox can't stand snooty do-gooders like Audrey. Bernadette refers to the school moms as "gnats" and doesn't want anything to do with them. It's hard to tell if Bernadette is eccentric or mentally ill. I loved her architectural genius backstory, revealed later in the novel. Here Bernadette teases Bee that she's going to follow her to boarding school at Choate:
"Oh, didn't I tell you?" Mom said. "I'm going to move to Wallingford and rent a house off campus. I already got a job working in the Choate dining hall." "Don't even joke," I said. "Nobody will know I'm your mother. You won't even have to say hi. I just want to look at your gorgeous face every day. But a little wave every now and then would sure warm a mum's heart." She did that last part sounding like a leprechaun. "Mom!" I said. "You have no choice in it," she said. "I'll be lurking behind the sneeze guards with my plastic gloves, serving hamburgers on Wednesdays, fish on Fridays--" "Dad, make her stop."
Bee's dad Elgin is a brilliant manager at Microsoft and has the third most-watched TED talk in the world, when he unveiled an amazing microchip that harnesses the power of mental imagery to do tasks for you that you don't want to do. (HELLO, can I get one of these to clean my cat's litter box?)
Meanwhile, intrusive neighbor Audrey is planning to host the "Prospective Parent Brunch Committee" organized by the paid consultant Ollie-O, who sends emails to motivate the school parents to recruit high profile parents (aka "Mercedes Parents") in order to elevate the school's reputation, like:
From: Ollie-O To: Prospective Parent Brunch Committee
REAL-TIME FLASH! We're up to 60 RSVPs! I'm just throwing out some fertilizer, but: Pearl Jam. I hear they've got kids entering kindergarten. If we get one of them--it doesn't have to be the singer--I can grow it.
Later Ollie plans the brunch at Audrey's house:
Principal Gwen Goodyear will be stationed at the door, bidding adieux, and handing out Galer Street swag. There is no way to overemphasize the importance of this. Just because they're Mercedes Parents doesn't mean they're not highly receptive to free shit. (Excuzey-moi!)
When the brunch turns disastrous, the school calls on a famous PTSD psychologist to intervene. The psychologist's letter had me howling!
I truly enjoyed the correspondence between Audrey and her friend Soo-Lin, who also has children that attend Galer. Soo-Lin ends up being the administrative assistant for Bee's father Elgin at Microsoft. Soo-Lin's part of VAV: Victims Against Victimhood, and spreads the word wherever she goes. The ridiculous VAV acronyms remind me of self-help groups gone wrong (so wrong).
Seattle is a wonderful setting. The author even mentions my favorite restaurant Wild Ginger!
Bernadette off-handedly promised Bee they would go on a trip to Antartica if Bee gets straight "A"s in middle school (or in Galer's case, straight "S"s for "surpasses excellence" since they don't believe in grades). Naturally genius-child Bee achieves the grades and now the social recluse Bernadette and her workaholic husband need to follow through on their promise.
Will Bee's family ever be accepted by the Prospective Parent Brunch Committee? Will they make it to Antartica? Will Bee's father become part of her life again instead of holing himself up at Microsoft? Will Bernadette stay eccentric or succumb to mental illness?
What a wonderful surprise this series turned out to be. There are so many haters of this series but don't count me as one of them. I...moreChristian is Free!
What a wonderful surprise this series turned out to be. There are so many haters of this series but don't count me as one of them. I thought the characterization was superb for both the heroine and the hero. I liked Ana much more than Bella in the Twilight series, and Christian's psychological journey enthralled me.
I love their banter, even when discussing difficult topics like when Ana buys him a camera on their honeymoon.
"For me, photos like those have usually been an insurance policy, Ana. I know I've objectified women for so long," he says and pauses awkwardly. "And you think taking pictures of me is...um, objectifying me?" ... "Well, it was supposed to be fun, but apparently it's a symbol of women's oppression." I snap away, taking more pictures of him, and watch the amusement grow on his face in super close-up. Then his eyes darken, and his expression changes to predatory. "You want to be oppressed?" he murmurs silkily. "Not oppressed. No," I murmur back, snapping again. "I could oppress you big-time, Mrs. Grey," he threatens, his voice husky. "I know you can, Mr. Grey. And you do, frequently."
Later they celebrate a happy event for Ana's friend Kate and Christian's brother Elliott.
Christian summons the waiter. "Two bottles of the Cristal please. The 2002 if you have it." I smirk at him. "What?" he asks. "Because the 2002 is so much better than the 2003," I tease. He laughs. "To the discerning palate, Anastasia." "You have a very discerning palate, Mr. Grey, and singular tastes." I smile. "That I do, Mrs. Grey." He leans in close. "You taste best," he whispers, and he kisses a certain spot behind my ear, sending little shivers down my spine.
My work book club read this and one therapist made an astute observation. He said that kink isn't pathological, and one downside of this story is Christian's journey from BDSM to vanilla is viewed as a journey to improved psychological health. While I partly agree with my coworker, I also believe Ana and Christian find and keep their own brand of kink. They show that BDSM can be light, playful, and sexy. And I have to believe that this wildly popular series has introduced countless readers to BDSM in a positive way.
The ending gave me an ebullient feeling and I loved reading Christian's perspective of the series's beginning chapter. I'd read all three books from his perspective should Ms. James choose to write them. I love Christian!!!(less)
I don't know about your high school, but in my school it wasn't cool to be smart. The popular kids were solid "B" or "C" students wh...moreSo Sweet and Cute!
I don't know about your high school, but in my school it wasn't cool to be smart. The popular kids were solid "B" or "C" students who didn't take advanced classes. I remember lying about my test grades a time or two due to embarrassment that they set the curve.
So when I came across a Goodreads friend's review of Smart Girls Get What They Want, I was definitely intrigued. Can smart girls have boyfriends and fun social lives too?
Gigi is a 10th grader who spends all her time with her bffs Bea (who's red-headed and feisty) and Neerja (who's Indian and calm). They enjoy their somewhat nerdy obsession with getting into an Ivy League university until they run across Neerja's older sister Parad's 12th grade yearbook, which nobody has signed. Parad is brilliant but doesn't appear to have any high school friends, which appalls the three girls. Is that how they'll end up?
So they set out to create more balanced lives and run into many hijinks along the way. It all starts when Gigi and Mike Ipolito (a lacrosse player who somehow attends the same AP classes as Gigi) get accused of cheating on their AP Chemistry test. Mike claims he has secured a scholarship to Amherst (one detail that's incorrect in this book--there are no athletic scholarships to Ivy League schools) so he seems unfazed by the accusation, but Gigi freaks out that her future is ruined.
The kooky principal makes Gigi and Mike collaborate on a presentation of the Periodic Table as a means of proving their knowledge (the poor things--that sounds like an AWFUL assignment to me). At first Gigi thinks Mike is a dumb jock mooch but perhaps there's more than meets the eye for this cocky boy with brown eyes and shaggy brown hair.
Meanwhile, hottie Will moves to Boston from California, and he seems to have a thing for Gigi of all people. School plays, ski team, and dances all line up in this fun coming-of-age story.
I really enjoyed Gigi's voice. She's funny and endearing.
Parad was the type who carefully saved her tests in color-coded files. (Love her!)
It was like their parents couldn't do enough for Parad now that she'd made the Ivy League. They let her drive their new Mercedes...and never asked her to babysit the eight-year-old twins, Shiva and Shari, who we secretly nicknamed Thing One and Thing Two.
"What I'm saying," I went on, "is nothing worthwhile comes easy." I'd read that somewhere. Maybe on the back of the Pop-Tarts box "This is probably the advantage of being stupid. Stupid people just do. We tend to overthink."
Today Neerja's mom was wearing a bright pink shalwar under a kameez of purple etched in gold and matching pink. I think it is totally unfair that the rest of us don't get to wear these. I would kill to walk around all day in flowing purple and pink lounge wear.
She usually fell for the brooding artists, like Rolf the German exchange student, skinny pale guys in black leather jeans whose pain the rest of us mortals couldn't begin to fathom.
And when Gigi has an angst-ridden moment like this, I swear she lives inside my head:
I focused on the passing houses filled with couples who'd somehow survived this teenage craziness of he-like-her-but-she-likes-another-guy-who-likes-somebody-else. How did they do it? How did they end up in their golden, warm, and cozy living rooms with their 2.3 children and dogs and cats? Because getting from where I was to where they were seemed millions of light-years away.
I smiled so much at the ending that I didn't even mind the lack of realism involved in the resolution to the school budget cut crisis. This is my first read by Sarah Strohmeyer and it won't be my last.(less)
This story engrossed me until the last few chapters, when I thought Jocelyn's commitment issues dragged on a...moreThis Time the Woman Has Commitment Issues
This story engrossed me until the last few chapters, when I thought Jocelyn's commitment issues dragged on a bit too long.
Jocelyn "Joss" Butler is an American living in Scotland, a recent college graduate, who seeks an apartment after her best friend and roommate moves out of town. On her way to view a posh place on Dublin Street, Joss shares a cab with a hot business man she nicknames "The Suit".
Their meeting is fantastic. I was drooling over The Suit just as much as Joss was:
Perhaps in his late twenties or early thirties, the Suit wasn't classically handsome, but there was a twinkle in his eyes and a curl to the corner of his sensual mouth that, together with the rest of the package, oozed sex appeal. I could tell from the lines of the extremely well-tailored expensive silver-gray suit that he wore, that he worked out. He sat with the ease of a fit guy, his stomach iron flat under the waistcoat and white shirt. His pale-blue eyes seemed bemused beneath their long lashes.
A strong, masculine face stared into mine--sharp jawline, a cleft chin, wide cheekbones, and a Roman nose. Dark stubble shadowed his cheeks, and his dark hair was kind of messy. Altogether, his rugged unkemptness seemed at odds with the stylish designer suit.
*fans self* He's surprised Joss doesn't ask him for his number (arrogant arse), and she dishes it right back to him. Love their banter!
All too soon the cab ride is over and Joss meets her new roommate--a friendly woman named Ellie--in the Dublin Street flat. Ellie explains that her brother built the gorgeous flat and gave it to her. When Ellie leaves for a grad school class, Joss christens her new home with a luxurious bubble bath. But whoops, she forgot to bring a towel into the bathroom. When she emerges naked into the hallway, who is there catching a glimpse?
The Suit! Oh, shit. Turns out The Suit is Ellie's older brother Braden.
Despite Braden having a bitchy girlfriend, he has his eyes on Joss. But Joss wants nothing to do with him. Or so she wants to believe.
All I could think about was Braden shirtless, with me wrapped around him like a tortilla.
Joss has a horribly sad past. Her entire family died in a car accident, and her best friend from high school died too. Poor lass has panic attacks whenever she thinks about her family. Like any trauma survivor, she's hesitant to disclose her losses, and avoids getting close to others at any cost.
Too bad she and Braden have such an intense attraction to each other.
"Braden, I don't want anything to happen between us." He raised an eyebrow, clearly unconvinced. "Tell that to your damp knickers, babe." I narrowed my eyes at him. "You are such a dick." He grinned and leaned down to brush a soft kiss across my lips. "I'll see you tomorrow."
One reason I enjoyed this book is that Joss attends therapy, and the therapy scenes seem realistic to me. I like Dr. Pritchard, and I cheered when the psychologist told Joss:
"What I'm trying to say, Joss, is perhaps you should stop being a martyr. Perhaps what is best for Braden is having you in his life."
Amen! Too bad Joss takes such a long time to realize this. But change is hard.
Any book that has a character named Corndog is my kind of read. :-D
I adored Catching Jordan so I was eager to read the story of one of Jordan's classmates, Parker Shelton. She's a high-school senior softball ace who quit the team after a scandal rocked her family life. Now bound for Vanderbilt next year, Parker is searching for an activity to fill her free time.
Parker decides to join her best friend Drew on the baseball team by becoming team manager, helping with stats and equipment. How bad can it be to hang around hot guys in uniform, right? What Parker doesn't realize is that the 23 year-old assistant coach Brian Hoffman is the hottest guy on the team. Coach Hoffman's six years older and highly inappropriate as a love match. Too bad they have an instant connection.
If that's not enough drama, there's a sweet guy Will a.k.a. "Corndog" on the team that might be into Parker. Unfortunately, Parker's bff Drew might have feelings for Will too, if Drew's gay (like Parker suspects).
Though something about the love triangle (quadrangle?) didn't quite grab me emotionally, I really enjoyed the exploration of homosexuality and the church in small-town Tennessee. Not only is Drew's sexual orientation in question, but Parker's family scandal is that her mother left her father for another woman. Parker became so traumatized that she dropped 30 pounds, leaving her at an anorexic weight. Parker's older brother--once an academic superstar--has now turned to alcohol and other drugs to deal with his emotional pain.
Members of their evangelical church have shunned the family for Parker's mother being gay, which was really sad to read. I understand some people view homosexuality as a sin, but I don't view it that way, and I became angry when Parker's classmates called her a slut simply because she kissed several guys in an effort to prove her heterosexuality. Homophobia can be rampant in settings like athletics and particular churches, leaving Parker to feel deeply alone.
Mounting evidence shows that eating disorders are a biological illness and that multiple risk factors have to be present for an eating disorder to begin. Still, it bothered me that 5'7" Parker got down to 110 pounds and didn't seem to face the horrible consequences associated with malnutrition, like low energy or food obsession.
Like in Catching Jordan, there are painfully honest journal entries by the main character and abundant teenage humor. Here Parker writes a memory about her mother:
When I was five, Mom discovered a recipe for homemade edible Play-Doh...I had dinosaur cookie cutters, so I made Play-Doh T-Rex. I bit its head off, and Mom joked, "My little praying mantis." We giggled and giggled and gorged ourselves on that Play-Doh. The next day we went to church and Mom and I kneeled at the altar. As I prayed, I didn't ask you for anything. I only thanked you for giving me Mom.
Gah! That is so sad.
I cracked up when Parker played MASH with Coach Hoffman--a game where she predicts his future in different categories of life.
"Okay, so you're going to marry Kim Kardashian and you'll go to Tokyo for your honeymoon. Then you'll live in a house at the beach and drive a submarine around."
It was also good humor when Parker's dad messes up Will's nickname:
Dad sets a hand on Will's shoulder and studies his face. "What church do you go to, Corn Fritter?"
Ba ha ha!
Overall this is a wonderful Young Adult read and I look forward to the next in the series!(less)
What a clever title! And the cover is fun and catchy as well.
Seventeen year-old Chuck Taylor has some intrusive and unwanted thoughts, like "The stove...moreWhat a clever title! And the cover is fun and catchy as well.
Seventeen year-old Chuck Taylor has some intrusive and unwanted thoughts, like "The stove burners might have been left on...and they could burn the house down." These obsessive thoughts nag and nag at Chuck, skyrocketing his anxiety, until he executes a compulsive behavior to try to neutralize that anxiety. For example, he checks the burners to make sure they're turned off. He doesn't double-check or triple-check, he quadruple-gazillion-checks, which can last HOURS.
It's obvious Chuck suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and these rituals make it hard to live a normal teenage life. Somehow Chuck manages to do well in school and has a great friend named Steve, but when new-girl-at-school Amy asks him to tutor her in Calculus, he faces imminent disaster. He's totally crushing on her, but how can he act normal around her? If she finds out he has OCD, will she reject him?
Afraid of losing Amy, Chuck finally relents to starting therapy and the antidepressant Lexapro. He soon discovers that kicking this OCD thing is a lot harder than it looks.
This is definitely a book for the older YA crowd. Though author Aaron Karo tackles a serious subject matter, he is a comedian, and I giggled throughout the book. The first page discusses Chuck's compulsive count of his masturbation episodes.
I just began my masturbation tally again on January 1st. I don't know why I'm compelled to keep track of it. And to make matters worse, I'm already beating (no pun intended) last year's pace.
Chuck's friend Steve, who apparently looks like a pale Milhouse from The Simpsons, has the unfortunate last name of Sludgelacker. Naturally the school bully immediately nicknames him "Fudgepacker". *shakes head*
My opinion on the authenticity of therapy in this story is a mixed review. The author gets it right when Chuck's therapist uses a version of cognitive behavioral therapy (exposure and response prevention) to try to extinguish the compulsive behaviors. But it's highly unlikely that Chuck sees a psychiatrist for talk therapy--he'd more commonly see a psychologist or a master's level therapist for the talk therapy and a psychiatrist (medical doctor) for the medication. But perhaps that would've been cumbersome to the plot. I'm a bit disappointed that the therapist isn't very likable, though Chuck's description of her as a "pear...a tiny little head and the rest of her body just expands from there" did crack me up.
Dr. S. has been in a much better mood in the past few weeks since I started taking the Lexapro.
Hmm, Chuck. Is it your psychiatrist Dr. S who's changed, or is it YOU? I love books where characters go through significant transformation, and ultimately this book offers a lot of hope for change.
This is a quick, enjoyable read and I encourage you to give it a try!(less)
Young Adult Sports Romance is my kind of genre, and I loved this book.
Jordan Woods is a high school senior who's captain and quarte...moreFun Football Story!
Young Adult Sports Romance is my kind of genre, and I loved this book.
Jordan Woods is a high school senior who's captain and quarterback of the football team. When I read this premise, I was a bit skeptical. Could a girl possess the upper body strength and speed to excel at such a rough game? However, Jordan quickly won me over--she's six feet tall, the daughter of an NFL quarterback, and can zing insults with the best of her male teammates. She's crushed that her father ignores her football career (thinking she has no business playing this "man's" game), and her rocky college recruiting process seems realistic to me.
Jordan, or "Woods" as her teammates call her, is just like one of the guys. She's grown up with wide receiver Sam Henry, a tall lanky goofball with blond curly hair constantly falling in his face. Their friendship is funny and cute. Henry's family is poor, and Henry often eats dinner with the Woods then sleeps in Jordan's bed, with his feet by her head. It's a purely platonic relationship, or so Jordan thinks.
The funniest part of the story is when Jordan and Henry have to take care of an electronic baby for a week as a Home Ec assignment.
"Okay," Mrs. Bonner says. "Now that we all have partners, all husbands should come pick up their babies." I stand up and stretch my arms. Henry also stands. "No way, dude," I say. "I'm the man in the relationship." "Oh yeah, absolutely," he says, grinning. The doll has these creepy glass eyes that look like they're staring straight into my soul. I hold the doll out in front of me like it's a flaming bag of poo and carry it back to Henry. "Congratulations, Mommy," I say, dropping the doll into his hands. "You could've told me I knocked you up." "My bad. I thought you'd force me to get an abortion," Henry replies. "He has your eyes, Woods." "And your hair." The doll is bald. "Can we name him Joe Montana?" "Hells no, his name is Jerry Rice." "No, his name is Joe Montana." "I was in labor with him for fourteen hours!" Henry exclaims as he rocks the baby back and forth. "His name is Jerry Rice." I grin. "Fine."
Jordan's at practice one day, dreaming of her future as the starting quarterback for Alabama, when Tyler Green walks in. After a family tragedy, Texas star quarterback Ty had to move to Tennessee and now he's a part of Jordan's team. But the potential competition for her spot isn't what distracts Jordan. She thinks Ty's smokin' hot. He's tall, muscular, talented, with just the right mix of cockiness and vulnerability. Can Jordan pursue her dreams despite falling for the boy who might take over her starting role?
Here Ty watches a college football player come on to Jordan:
"That's Jake Reynolds?" Ty says, turning to stare. His eyes are opened so wide, he looks like one of those poison dart frogs. "Holy shit. He's so awesome." I laugh. "Trust me, he's not." "Seems like he likes you. Don't you want to date a first-rounder?" "Excuse me while I go vomit." "So you're not interested in him?" Ty asks, smiling. "Hells no. I'd rather date O.J. Simpson." Ty laughs. "I'm glad to hear that...I think."
It's great to see parents who are kind and involved. Jordan's mother tried to help her deal with her feelings:
For my seventeenth birthday, she bought me this lame journal. "Jordan," she said, "writing allows me to blah, blah, blah, think deeply about karma, blah, blah, blah, and helps me figure out my problems." Mom should get a job creating lame-ass mantras for the bottoms of juice-bottle lids.
This is one example of many where the author nails the teenage voice. Jordan finds that journaling actually does help (I hate when moms are always right) and her poetry adds a nice touch to the story.
I actually enjoyed the love triangle, though the story seemed to sag a bit as Jordan was working out her true feelings. The ending is satisfying and fun.
Fans of romance, sports, and YA will love Catching Jordan! (less)
I've been wanting to read this story for some time due to the many elements that appeal to me: healing, redemption, crime, a psychology...moreDeeply Touching
I've been wanting to read this story for some time due to the many elements that appeal to me: healing, redemption, crime, a psychology graduate student character (Livia), a homeless character (Blake), and a story full of emotion. Wow! I got all that and more.
Livia is one of the kindest people around. She smiles at everyone, including the quiet homeless man who frequents the shadows of the Poughkeepsie train station. One morning when some thugs threaten the man Livia's come to known as "Green Eyes", Livia stands up for him. Their first words are adorable:
"You might want to find another place to sit," Livia said. "Those idiots could cook up a plan for revenge." Instead of being the friendly advice Livia intended, her words seem to slice into him. Why is he in such pain? "I can't leave." Green Eyes took a huge breath. "This is the only place where I get to see you."
I fell for the sensitive soul Blake from the start, especially after learning that he counts each of Livia's smiles. His foster brother Cole explains:
"He counts. You've smiled at him four hundred and forty-six times as of a few minutes ago."
How cute is that?
Blake might have a chance with Livia because her boyfriend Chris is a total CAD. I mean, he calls psychology "the study of psychos"! Grr.
There are fantastic secondary characters in this novel:
* Livia's younger sister Kyle. What a potty mouth! Blake says "Pretty sure Kyle lacks any kind of editing mechanism". Their mother took off shortly after Kyle was born, and Kyle blames herself for not being worthy enough to make their mother stay. Kyle's low self-worth leads her to promiscuity. But perhaps she can find a love match in one of Blake's foster bros?
* Cole is Blake's foster brother who's studying to be a priest. He has a violent past he's running from.
* Beckett is a wildly colorful foster brother who aged out of the system before Cole and Blake, determined to pave the road for his brothers by committing all sorts of sins so they wouldn't have to. He's pretty much become a crime boss, with a muscled assistant named Mouse. Kyle refers to Beckett as "the human steroid." He doesn't believe in following rules, like parking in between the lines:
"I'm telling you, Cole, that's how it all gets started. The government's beating us down, and it all begins with those goddamn lines in the parking lot. Set yourself free, my brother. If you see a line, ignore it.
Eve and Mouse were also wonderful characters, along with Livia and Kyle's police officer father.
The flashbacks to the boys getting beaten by their foster dad, and the intensity between Beckett and Eve made me cry so hard.
There are also so many freaking funny lines in the story, but I won't share all the off-color words here ha ha. But one chapter title "My Penis Rules the World" gives you a good flavor! And this excerpt when Kyle berates Livia and Blake at a religious ceremony is priceless (naughty language alert!)
"Will you get your asses up here? People are waiting. I mean Beckett here has maybe a few hours before he's bent over a metal toilet getting it up the ass from a guy named Bubba. Do you want him to have fun now or not?" The streetlight illuminated Beckett as he appeared next to Kyle. "Why would I be the bitch? I don't think that's a fair f*cking assumption." Kyle refused to look at him and crossed her arms. "Of course you'd be the bitch. You have dimples. Bitches have dimples. And I bet your ass is soft like two pillows."
Debra, I love your screwballs sense of humor ;-) And I love even more that your story made me laugh and cry. An EXCELLENT read!(less)
I'm happy my book club chose this domestic comedy--a funny and interesting read that kept me turning the...moreThe Violet Family Puts the Fun in Dysfunction
I'm happy my book club chose this domestic comedy--a funny and interesting read that kept me turning the pages. Tom Violet is a 35 year old married father of one who hates his stupid corporate job. However, he isn't quite ready to risk trying to publish the novel he's written the past seven years, especially with a father who just won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
Tom's easy humor makes him imminently likable. It's no surprise one of his favorite authors is Richard Russo since I could see the similar sense of dry wit and sarcasm. Here Tom reveals his competence as a father:
I can see by my daughter's expression that she'll do whatever she damn well pleases. By now she's old enough to know that we're not going to beat her, so she's pretty much got the run of the place.
When Tom's mother asks him about his manuscript, he replies:
"It's a period piece. A team of crime-fighting lesbians travel back in time to assassinate Hitler."
Ha ha! Tom suspects his schoolteacher wife of cheating on him, and tells his friend about the suspect while they hit golf balls:
"You should've seen that book he gave her, man. Kids writing essays about how great reading is. It was like something out of a John Cusack movie. He'll probably show up at my house next week in the rain holding a f-ing ghetto blaster over his head."
When Tom gets revenge on his meddling, clueless manager, it's the stuff of dreams for every person who's worked in an Office Space environment. Here's the headline of Tom's press release:
STUPID AMERICAN COMPANY NAMES EMPTY-HEADED, OPPORTUNISITiC, UTTERLY UNCREATIVE DOUCHE BAG AS NEW VICE PRESIDENT OF U.S. MARKETING
I really enjoyed the relationship arc between Tom and his famous-writer father Curtis. There were a couple of twists that surprised me, but their characterization felt real and solid. Curtis is a philanderer and womanizer, but when it really counts, he gives Tom excellent advice about his wife Anna:
"Don't be an idiot," he says. "Anna is the sort of woman who writers write about, Tom. Somewhere in the third act, women like her save characters like you and me from ourselves. She's the loveliest literary device in the word. So get your ass out of this room right now and go tell her that she doesn't have to be with anyone else. Because you love her, and because you're not going anywhere. And mean it."
In some ways this is a novel about writing good novels, and Matthew Norman seems to have it down pat.(less)
Matt Gratton is fourteen. He has two buddies Sean and Coop, and a wry sense of humor -- b...moreOur Summer Goal: To See a Girl Naked
This book cracked me up!
Matt Gratton is fourteen. He has two buddies Sean and Coop, and a wry sense of humor -- blessings that more than make up for his lack of muscles. Every summer Matt, Sean, and Coop swim on a summer club team and set a goal like riding their bikes to a far-away lake and going skinny dipping. Given that they're girl-crazy, this summer's goal is to see a real-life naked girl. Matt's wondering if the cute new swim teammate Kelly might be the one they catch nude.
Will the boys succeed?
Matt not only worries about this goal, but he also gets himself in deep when he volunteers to swim the one-hundred butterfly in a desperate move to impress Kelly. If you don't know, butterfly is THE most difficult stroke. It requires superior upper body strength, flexibility, and timing -- of which Matt has none. These boys are nowhere near the fastest swimmers on the team. As Matt states, "In case you don't know, eighteen minutes is not a great time for a hundred yards of butterfly." Um, yeah. It's not such a great time.
The author's voice is fun and real. Here Matt attends a funeral for an elderly neighbor:
The first thing I do is scan the room for cute girls. You'd think that being in a room with a dead body might push those feelings down deep inside you. But no. It's like trying to force a kickboard to stay underwater; unless you give it your full, constant attention, it eventually explodes to the surface.
Matt's family is also realistically dysfunctional. His father left his mother long ago, and his single mother struggles to make a living by selling nutritional supplements (leading to an embarrassing mix-up between protein powder and laxative powder). His grandfather almost steals the show, enlisting Matt to help him woo the widowed neighbor.
Matt tries some extreme training methods to train for the fly, which leave him incredibly sore:
"Whatever." I try to wave Coop off, but since I can't lift my arm, I just look like a girlie T. rex.
I love the friendship among the three boys. Their humor may be juvenile but their caring for each other is genuine.
I pick a few shirts off my bedroom floor and give them the sniff test. The only one that seems relatively clean is my bright yellow BIG BONE LICK STATE PARK, KENTUCKY T-shirt that Cooper got me for my birthday last year. He thought it was the funniest thing ever.
The swimming details lack authenticity but I enjoyed the story so much that I didn't care. And the romance is sweet, original, and unexpected. Maybe there's more to girls than stealing a peep at their naughty parts?(less)
I’ve been hoping to read Victoria Michaels’ contemporary romance Trust in Advertising for some time. The romance is fu...moreTrust in This Story’s Greatness!
I’ve been hoping to read Victoria Michaels’ contemporary romance Trust in Advertising for some time. The romance is fun and flirty, the villain unspeakably vain, and the character development quite strong.
Lexi White is a twenty-something young woman trying to find her way. A wallflower in high school, Lexi had a major crush on the popular Vincent Drake (but of course he didn’t know she existed). When her father became ill, Lexi decided to forgo an Ivy League scholarship to take care of him until his death. Now she’s going nowhere in her job and love life, but at least she has a feisty best friend living in the apartment across the hall -- Hope.
Hope convinces Lexi to take a chance on her dream job in advertising. She lands a position assisting the meanest advertising VP around – an executive who’s dating the supermodel “Jade” – you guessed it . . . Lexi’s high school crush Vincent Drake.
Vincent doesn’t recognize her from their high school, and he behaves in his typical disrespectful way with her. But Lexi the former wallflower is no shrinking violet. She stands her ground with sweetness and determination.
It’s great when Lexi antagonizes the narcissistic Jade, who refers to herself in the third person:
”Just know Jade’s watching you.” “Lexi will try to remember that.” Lexi got up from her desk.
Hope gets into the act when she comments on why so many of the male models around Jade are gay:
”If they’re stuck working all day with ball-devouring hags like you, I can see how that would turn them off to the entire female population,” Hope remarked.
I loved Lexi and Vincent’s dance at a charity event, which shows Lexi’s complexity –- she’s competent and clever, yet also insecure:
Immediately, Lexi felt something hard beneath her foot. “Sorry.” Her cheeks flooded with a deep blush. “Something tells me that you’re used to being in charge. Why don’t you let me lead, and I’ll take care of you for a change?”
Hope calls the dance a “close encounter with the hunky kind.”
Vincent’s niece Madison is adorable, and she allows Lexi to see the gentle, caring side of Vincent. They attend Madison’s tea party together:
Madison rummaged through the bag before pulling out the biggest, pinkest, most disgustingly feather-laden hat. Lexi cringed. “That one would be perfect for her,” Vincent quickly said with a wicked grin. “No, silly, this one is for you. Lexi’s allergic to feathers. She told me when she got here.” Lexi smirked triumphantly across the table as Maddie planted the hat on top of Vincent’s head, the feathers falling in front of his eyes.
Vincent’s mother plays a key role by infusing Lexi with a sense of professional confidence.
This won’t make sense unless you’ve read the story, but I loved Vincent’s simple text:
It was a very big deal.
I really enjoyed the exploration of trust in the story, and I totally swooned for Vincent. My one criticism is that I think the editing could have been tighter. In particular, I think the dialogue toward the end was a bit too long and flowery.