Category Archives: Chick Lit

Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris

It’s been a long time coming for the supposedly “last” book in the Sookie Stackhouse series. With a huge fan base and a wildly popular HBO TV series (Alexander Skarsgard, anyone? Nomnomnomnom), Charlaine Harris is living the life that most poor starving authors can only dream of. Unfortunately, she may have been too deeply asleep when she wrote Dead Ever After… Someone needs to pinch the crap out of her! dead-ever-after-by-charlaine-harris-cover-3_4_r560

DEA seems to exist solely to tie up any plot threads that are still left–gasping for air–no matter how weak they may be. Eric, the fairies, Sam, the Weres, Amelia… You name it. Unfortunately, Harris seems to bring up a few new characters and then forget about them–leaving their stories unanswered. But not in a cliff-hanger/spinoff kinda way. More like a “Oh, I totally forgot about that, but oh well my manuscript is due tomorrow! *Send*” kinda way.

Also, as much as I’ve enjoyed the majority of the SS series… Can we please stop detailing Sookie’s mundane day-to-day life?? She literally wasted a whole sentence–awholesecondofmylife!–bemoaning how hard it is to stuff a Digiornio box in the trash. Seriously?? Way to yank me out of the moment. I know plenty about taking the garbage out, not so much about the TrueBlood vamps. That’s what I’m paying you to write about, not pizza boxes.

AND–I DON’T WANT TO SPOIL ANYTHING FOR YOU–BUT… The way she handled Sookie’s love life in this book was very strange. And I would NOT have made the same choice had I been in her shoes. Ew. I mean, woof.

All in all, since I have OCD about this sort of thing–I’m glad I read DEA. However, if this had been my first Charlaine Harris experience… I would’ve run screaming for the hills. I can appreciate a light pool-side read every now and again, but if Sookie’s story gets any lighter it just might float away.

3 bite marks of 5

 

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Rosie Little’s Cautionary Tales for Girls by Danielle Wood

Rosie Little’s Cautionary Tales is one part warning and one part fairy tale. It’s broken up into about a dozen short stories, half of which follow the course of Rosie Little’s life experiences, the other half following the mishaps of several random women. Rosie’s penchant for red and her reference to an abusive boyfriend as “the Wolf” make her a modern day Little Red Riding Hood. Except RL has a fairy godmother that keeps popping up in the most unexpected of places.

The book highlights some of the more important cornerstones and moments of a girl’s life, including: virginity, truth, travel, beauty, art, love, commitment, marriage, work, longing, loss, and destiny.

At some points Wood seemed a bit muddled on whether or not her book was going to be pure fiction or fairy tale. Much of the book seems perfectly “normal” but several of the stories (and parts of Rosie’s life) have supernatural elements thrown in. I enjoyed it quite a bit, especially the magical parts, but I think it could’ve been a tad more stitched together.

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Rosie also scattered tidbits of wisdom throughout. This one was my favorite:

A Word from Rosie Little on Facial Lines

No doubt your mother, or some other responsible adult in your life, warned you about pulling faces when a change in wind direction was on the cards. Of course, the idea that you could end up with the tip of your tongue lodged permanently in a nostril just because the breeze swung to the east sounds as ridiculous as green vegetables putting hairs on your chest, or the marrow in your bones melting because you sat too close to a fire. But on reflection (my own reflection, as it happens, in my very own bathroom mirror), I’ve decided that the saying about pulling faces is not an entirely silly one after all.

Get on a bus full of old people and you’ll understand what I mean. It’s easy to pick the woman who’s spent her life indulging herself in moral indignation, tightening her lips against mothers who are too young, mothers who are too old, young men with dangerous-looking haircuts, and Winifred Martin going off with May Charleston’s husband, and at their age, honestly. Yes, you’ll be able to pick her in a trice, since she’ll be the one with the cat’s arse where her mouth ought to be.

I once met a monk called Father Basil and I can attest to the fact that a life of contemplation does magnificent things for your skin in old age. Sit around all day with a beatific smile on your face, pondering the beauty of nature and the essential goodness of humanity, and you really will end up with your face permanently set in an expression of deep serenity. It’s too late for me, of course, to achieve such a thing. At just past thirty, I’ve already laid the groundwork for my old woman’s face, and what with all the bemused and quizzical faces I’ve affected in my time, I’m bound to be a very puzzled-looking octogenarian. Oh, that wind is out there all right. It just takes a few years for it to change you.

4 paths to grandma’s house of 5

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Taming the Beast by Emily Maguire

This was a pretty freaky book. Like not *bump* what was that?? freaky, more like OMFG WHY IS THIS HAPPENING, EW-kind of freaky. TamingtheBeast-vert-right

Taming the Beast chronicles the insatiable sexual appetite of Sarah Clark, whom at 14–after having an illicit love affair with her 38 year old English teacher–goes on a mad sex spree that would make Don Juan and Casanova reach for the penicillin. It seems as though her first sexual awakening with Mr. Carr was indescribably intense. Unfortunately, after his wife discovers the affair and forces the family to leave the area, it is one she must seek to replicate with others. Many others.

This book was compulsively readable because you kept wondering what Sarah would do next. (Or maybe more appropriately who she would do next). Sure, she did have some traumatic things happen to her… but nothing I feel that completely excused her behavior. She had sex with her unfathomably loyal best friend Jamie–before and after he was married, all her friends’ lovers, random back alley pick-ups, and pretty much anyone and anything with a pulse and a penis. Instead of this illustrating Sarah’s extreme sexual potency, it really just made me feel sorry for her.

And honestly question how she avoided disease for that long.

In fact, the only person I truly felt sorry for was Jamie. He really stood by her through thick and thin and was obviously “the One” for her. Too bad she was too busy hate-screwing Mr. Carr when they met up again seven years down the line. That being said, I do NOT understand Jamie’s irresistible attraction to her. Yes, his wife was pretty dull and goody-two-shoes, but he also made the choice to have unprotected sex with her in college. She got pregnant, they got married. Same old story.

He pretty much brought the situation on himself.

But he was the only person Sarah could always rely on, and I feel like she totally took advantage of his feelings for her. Instead of letting Jamie’s kind heart and innate goodness buoy her up, she just sunk further into the tepid pools of anonymous sex. Gross.

I didn’t understand the characters’ behaviors or attractions, but it was addicting…

4 cigarette butts of 5

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Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

Lisa See’s work is surprising fascinating. Previous to picking up her delightfully tragic novel Peony In Love, I never would’ve believed Ancient Imperial China could be so dang interesting. This confidence in See’s writing ability and historical accuracy drew me to Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.

The protagonist, Lily, is a lower-middle class second daughter to a quietly tense farming household. At a young age, a matchmaker realizes that Lily has great marriageable potential because of auspicious aspects of the girl’s signs. But the most unexpected thing of all–Lily discovers that she is to have a laotong (life-long sworn friend) with a little girl named Snow Flower. The excitement she feels upon hearing the news is nothing compared to the rich friendship that eventually develops over the course of a lifetime. But when Snow Flower’s future and status start going a much separate way from her own, how is Lily supposed to choose between propriety and deference to her in-laws and her much beloved friend?

I will say that Lisa See does a great job of painting a picture of what life was like (especially for women) in that ancient period. The way she describes textures and colors and scents really draws you into the story. However, I do with that she had explained the exact era in a bit more detail. (My guess would be the late-1800’s–it’s hard to say since the Chinese Empire lasted from 221 BC to 1912 AD).

Beautiful Moon was my favorite character, even though she had a very short role in the story. Lily seemed to strict and prim for Snow Flower to be friends with, and Snow Flower seemed so detached and strange to Lily. I never really felt an affection for Snow Flower, and it’s hard for me to swallow a culture where women had so little choice. 

I enjoyed reading SFATSF but not enough to read it again. It lacked the magic and myth of Peony in Love and while learning about the torturous foot-binding tradition was crazy–it wasn’t enough to carry a story about a half-hearted friendship. The friendship never seemed true to me, it just seemed like two lonely girls happy about finally getting some attention.

3 of 5 secret fans


Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris

Sookie, Sookie, Sookie… What kind of trouble have you gotten yourself into now? Well, turns out it because of all those damn vampires you associate with. Surprise, surprise… In Deadlocked by our beloved Charlaine Harris, Sookie once again finds herself in the center of a legal/paranormal shit storm. This time her (sexy) Area 5 Sheriff boyfriend Eric has been accused of killing a girl who ended up dead on his front lawn during a party. No big deal, people die, right? Surely it wasn’t Eric! But when Sookie walks in on Eric erotically feeding from the girl shortly before her death… Let’s just say even she has her suspicions about his innocence.

*cue Weezer’s “Say it Ain’t So…”*

Now not only is Sookie questioning her lover’s involvement in the girl’s death, but now she has her fae cousin Claude’s fishy behavior to contend with. Oh yeah, and that hateful bitch Jannalyn (that Sam is STILL dating) definitely seems like she’s up to no good. *sigh*

If I were Sookie I’d be booking the first flight out of Louisiana I could get–grandma’s house or not. Forget that mess!

As always, Harris has churned out another page-turning novel. But, I will admit that the quality of her work has gone down with her last few projects. They girl-next-door aspect of Sookie’s personality that we all know and love is getting a little tired, especially when Harris wastes page space with detailed descriptions of mundane activities like folding clothes and cooking. We get that Sookie is just like the rest of us, but I have never in my life started a story with “One time, when I was folding laundry….” Get to the goods, woman!

I sensed a definite air of closure during this book, and Harris went through the motions of tying up most of the supporting characters’ loose ends. The only real question mark left is what’s going on between Eric and Sookie and at this point I don’t really know what I’m hoping for…

Definitely read Deadlocked if you’re a die-hard fan but you can skip it because (and I know it’s a bookworm sacrilege to say this but… the show’s better!)

3 fangbangers of 5


A Fortunate Age by Joanna Smith Rakoff

I finished reading A Fortunate Age by Joanna Smith Rakoff last week, and I’m going to be blunt about it.

No. No. Bad.

Bad book.

It wasn’t boring by any means–there was enough drama spread amongst the group of friends–but it just wasn’t made…. dramatic enough. AFA follows an upper-class group of Jewish college kids from the 1990’s into the post-September 11th world. The problem was, I never cared about any of them. There was no point to the story at all. In fact, their petty lives and “first world” problems completely annoyed me. They were all so pretentious and awful–Sadie, Dave, Lil, Emily, Tal, Beth–and whomever else. Not to mention their AWFUL choice in mates that we had to hear about for 10+ years. My god. Never have I ever read a book where I actively disliked the main characters. Seriously.

Think Muffy, Buffy, Chip, Kip. Polo shirts and croquet mallets. Pinkies out on tea cups and white fluffy dogs.

Gag me with a stick.

And there were so many of them. Sheesh. It was pretty hard to keep track of them all for the first few chapters. Rakoff could have really halved the character list and been better off for it. The people were absolutely insufferable from start to finish. Lil married Tuck in the first chapter. He is such a complete asshole that I was inwardly screaming WTF are you doing with this loser-face?! Not to mention her friends knew what a bad person he was (and all the sneaky things he was up to) and never bothered to tell her! It really irritated me. Then–towards the end of the book–the random blunt loss of a character took me off guard. Ok…. Well I guess we didn’t really need them! I wasn’t saddened by the loss, but I was irritated by how the information was presented.

Plus, the whole book was told in third person–which nine times out of ten is a mistake. There was hardly any dialogue breaking up the long, LONG paragraphs about their poor-little-rich-kid lives. Give me a break. They’re all going to private schools and getting Master’s degrees on trust funds–do you really expect me to feel sorry that you got knocked up by a moron? OR that you married someone you LITERALLY just met. Unbelievable.

I cry Tiffany diamonds for you, I really do. Little bourgeois twerps.

(By the way, bourgeois is one of my least favorite words of all time. You sound pretentious and pompous just saying it.)

Maybe my slow, Southern upbringing just didn’t prepare me for this story–but in this case I’m gladly an outsider. Simply put, A Forunate Age was just unfortunate.

1 bagel with fucking lox out of 5


P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

I normally don’t read such sappy love stories, but in honor of Valentine’s Day, I’ll concede.  I originally saw the movie version of  P.S. I Love You (starring Gerard Butler and Hilary Swank) back in 2008  and in a fit of romantic inspiration, I went out and bought the book. It’s not your run-of-the-mill lovefest, however. Cecelia Ahern makes sure of that (as does Nicholas Sparks and pretty much every romantic novelist of all time…)

Holly and Gerry are a happily married couple. They’ve been together since high school and their lives are completely intertwined. They have coupled-up friends and do coupled-up activities. The only thing that Holly lives for (she never was a career person) is to be Gerry’s wife. Then–of course–the unthinkable happens. (You didn’t imagine they’d live happily ever after did you? Pshht). When Gerry begins to suffer from ever-persistent migraines, he goes to the doctor and gets the absolute worst case scenario diagnosis. Brain cancer. Tumors. Malignant. Inoperable. Terminal. Only a few months left to live.

Obviously, the couple is devastated by the news and Holly stays with Gerry through every second of his remaining months. After his death, Holly struggles to find meaning in her life–a reason to live, if you will. That is, until two months later when her mom informs her she has a package.

It’s from Gerry.

The package contains a letter for every month of the year–each containing a new instruction for Holly to help her move on with her life and survive being alone. We follow Holly along through this year of love, loss, sadness, and growth. And I have to say, I really enjoyed it.

P.S. I Love You turned out to be, if not a love story, than maybe a personal growth story. It detailed all the mad adventures of Holly and her wacky friends and family as they struggled to not only deal with the loss of their friend, but also be a support system for a new/young widow. I liked it, because in the end, although Gerry’s death was a terrible tragedy, it also freed Holly to become her own person for the first time in her life. It took her until she was single and 30 to find herself, but find herself she did.

Ahern presented coping with a family member’s death and the grief process in a very realistic way. Some days Holly was a mess, laying around the house hardly sleeping or eating–certainly not showering for a week at a stretch. Then having a few good days intermingled in with the bad. Going from laughing to crying and then back again. Sloooooooowly being able to accept what has happened to you and your loved one, and learning to allow yourself to be happy without them. Being able to remember the fun times rather than the death. It’s a very messy process, for sure.

I’ll admit, I did get misty-eyed at a few passages, but overall it’s not nearly the tear-jerker it’s advertised to be. I think the movie adaptation was much more sad than the novel. Holly’s friends/family really helped keep the tone light for the most part. Although, damn…a headache is a bit more worrisome now than before…

This is definitely a good “chick lit” novel. It’s a fast read and you’ll be anxious to find out what Gerry’s next letter says. Those of you ladies whom enjoy reading about a woman experiencing a personal loss, triumphing over it as best she can, and learning that life goes on after love (cue Cher here)–this one’s for you.

4 of 5 stars