Monday, October 31, 2005

Undead and unwed

Undead and unwed by MaryJanice Davidson

What a bunch of nonsense! I really can’t believe that I actually read this book through to the end. Blond bimbo turns into superduper vampire yet retains her ridiculous blond bimbo ways. Turns out she can do lots of things that other vampires can’t and that she is the foretold Vampire Queen.

Human sidekicks include the rich, black best friend and the gay doctor friend while the vampire side provides the hunky tall, dark and handsome (natch) jerk she continuously tries to resist. Lots of colorful language used throughout. A ludicrous romp through the life (death?) of a couture footwear addicted former secretary. I guess I must admit that at times I found this book outrageously funny. But you really must suspend any basis in reality if you elect to pick up this tomb, er, I mean tome. This book is for the younger Ann Rice fans who want a laugh and interesting sex scenes. If you don’t fit into this category, please, skip this book. -Flourish

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Ivy Chronicles

Ivy Chronicles by Karen Quinn (audio)

Who knew that the world of application to New York’s private schools was so cutthroat? Apparently, lying, cheating, stealing, marrying, bribing, and even murder are all standard procedure to secure your little four year old a spot in a top private school. It seems that these baby ivies lead directly to the big, college ivies and this motley cast of characters is bound and determined to get their little tykes a place. Our lead character, Ivy Ames, suffers the setbacks of losing her job and catching her husband in the bathtub with another woman “and they were both naked”. She is then forced to deal with raising her two daughters alone without a job when she hits upon the idea of becoming a private school consultant, promising her clients acceptance into the private school of their choice and stooping below nearly every decent moral value.

This comedy of errors was a very funny romp through a segment of society of which I’m unfamiliar. When I relayed the plot to Blotts however, she assured me that the world of private schools is indeed a truly competitive one everywhere. Wow! I’ve been living in blissful ignorance with my public school education and state school college degrees. Karen gave me an array of colorful characters to enjoy and laugh at, although many of them seemed standard caricatures rather than fully developed ones. But with a cast so large who has time to delve into everyone’s psyche? Naturally, everything works out in the end but don’t let that stop you from reading this book. BTW, the audio was nice to listen to but I would recommend that you actually read this book. The audio version just seemed to go on and on and I could have gone a lot faster and probably enjoyed it a bit more if I’d read the hard copy. Overall, a quick, funny read that is a bit over the top and outlandish. - Flourish

Thursday, October 20, 2005

J.A.P. Chronicles

J.A.P. Chronicles by Isabel Rose

I can usually tell whether or not I will like a book based on the first few pages. Just going by the title I wasn’t sure if this was going to be one that I would enjoy or not. As it turns out it was indeed an interesting adventure.

The story focuses on our successful documentary filmmaker heroine who’s 10 year Jewish summer camp reunion is upon her. It turns out that those weeks year after year were nothing but a torture test for a bookworm girl who didn’t fit in with those athletic types. Let’s face it; those girls made her life a living hell, with one girl standing out in particular.

We float back and forth between each girl’s story and get a glimpse into their lives both past and present. Our author makes no excuses as to why these girls acted horridly to our heroine, but rather offers up an inside look into the mind’s of these Jewish American Princesses. Most of their lives were so unbearably awful that it was like watching a train wreck that I couldn’t pull my eyes away from. Yet it was somehow satisfying to read that money doesn’t solve all the problems of the world.

BTW, what was up with the size of that pink slipper on the cover of that book? That massive boat tittering at the top of a wave of boxes had to be a size 12 at least, maybe even a size 13!

Overall this books gets a thumbs up as a quick read about a group of grown up girl campers whose lives went in many different directions. -Flourish

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

My Old True Love

My Old True Love by Sheila Kay Adams (audio)

Books that are thoroughly enjoyable have deeply developed characters that I come to love and care about. I want to know what happens to these folks and hope all the way to the last page of the book that things work out ok for them. Sheila has written just this type of book!

This deep character study is set in southern mountains before, during, and after the northern oppression war. A strong, female voice is given to Arty, who spends the book trying to understand and love her family, mainly her adopted son. She is sometimes a distant observer and other times she is right in the thick of things. Occasionally she seeks to sway the situation but often she is powerless to affect the outcome of family dynamics, love triangles, and the War Between the States.

These are country people ya’ll, living in the time of great strife and political upheaval when it was already tough enough to scratch out an existence on the land. Yet their provincial ways and crass toughness provide the backbone and character that allow them to survive and thrive in a sometimes hostile environment either of their own making or that of others.

Music is indeed a central theme to life as this tome is sprinkled with old mountain folk songs that are sung by the narrator. Indeed, the writing is written in a very harmonious style that seems to float along on its own melody. With a somewhat surprise twist of an ending, this story is a keeper. Try to get it on audio if you can because Kate Forbes’ narration is a joy to hear. -Flourish

Friday, October 07, 2005

Living Large in Small Spaces

Living Large in Small Spaces: Expressing Personal Style in 100 to 1000 Square Feet by Marisa Bartolucci

This has got to be the number one best book I’ve ever read on making the most of your small space. Um, did you catch the subtitle on that book? Yes, they really do mean small! Intsy bintsy places with 100, 200, 300 square feet if you can believe it! These aren’t the same old boring hide stuff under the bed ideas either. We’re talking true, new, innovative ways to make more space like beds on a pulley system to bring it up to the ceiling by day. Or how about a rectangular blond wood box that opens to a home office complete with a cutout to accommodate the apartment window? Some of these pictures you will just have to see to believe. And boy howdy do they ever have pictures. Lots of words too, so you can be inspired both ways.

No matter what size living space you have we all wish that we had more. I’ve garnered many and various ideas from this thick little book and I’m still going back over it to see what I missed. Probably one of the best features is that the homes are those of real people. Sometimes the spaces are designed by professionals but sometimes not and it’s seeing how people live in these small spaces that I find interesting. If you're a fan of HGTV's Small Space, Big Style, then you'll love this book.

Go on and run, don’t walk, down to your local library and pick up a copy of this book. You won’t be sorry, I promise. -Flourish

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Any Place I Hang My Hat

Any Place I Hang My Hat by Susan Isaacs (audio)

Here’s another novel with a smart, interesting, strong woman as the central character. Amy Lincoln works for one of those periodicals that don’t have pretty pictures but rather lots of words. Journalists are given time to go more in depth into the story and in fact she does indeed work for In-Depth.

This book is all about finding your own place in the world both in the physical sense and the emotional one. Our thoroughly enjoyable main character grew up on the poor side of town but landed a reprieve in high school by way of a full scholarship to one of the hoity toity girls’ boarding schools. All her life she’s figured out how to fit in no matter where she was and what kind of people she was with. Yet this chameleon sensibility keeps her from a true feeling of belonging anywhere. This spurs her on to track down the mother who abandoned her as a baby. The reader can do nothing to protect our heroine as she attempts to shield herself behind intellect, convincing herself that she only wants to find her mother to find out her medical history. Her ex-convict with a heart of gold dad is a pretty groovy character too, and naturally there is the quintessential love interest tiff thrown in as well.

This was one of those listen in the car audio books for me. Some may say that the story moves too slow but I would disagree. It was sort of comforting getting into the car, coming back to the same pleasurable character over and over again.

Although a bit wordy at times, overall this is an enjoyable character study that I’m glad I read. -Flourish