July 17, 2004
I Don't Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson

I Don’t Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson: a novel about the life of Kate Reddy, a British working mother.

When we first meet Kate Reddy, she’s in her kitchen at 1:37 a.m. distressing mince pies for her daughter’s Christmas party at school so that they will look homemade. Kate is a hedge-fund manager, one of the best in her office. She’s also the mother of two children, Emily and Ben, whom she hardly ever gets to see. She has a lovely husband, Richard, whom she also never sees.

Her days are measured by seconds and each one of them is used in the most efficient manner possible. She tries to be the best mother, wife, and employee, but things are starting to give.

I really enjoyed Allison Pearson’s novel for many reasons. First of all, I liked Kate. I wanted her to be happy and spend some time on herself and have a peaceful life. Secondly, Pearson’s writing style was just beautiful. It walked the line between funny and poignant while making us really care about Kate and her family. While I’m not a mother, I still sympathized with Kate and would highly recommend this one, especially to all the working mothers out there.

October 16, 2003
Cause Celeb by Helen Fielding

Cause Celeb by Helen Fielding: a very enjoyable book from the offer of Bridget Jones’s Diary despite the fact that it takes place in famine-stricken Africa.

Rosie Richardson works in publishing and is quite shocked to find herself girlfriend to one of television’s stars. However, the relationship is terribly flawed and emotionally abusive, helping lead to her decision to move to Nambula, Africa to help run a refugee camp. Four years later, a famine of epic proportions is threatening to destroy all that she has helped build, so she returns to London to enlist the help of the celebrities she used to know in raising funds and food for the camp.

The first part of the book is done in flashbacks of Rosie’s life before Africa while continuing to tell what is currently happening with her. I enjoyed both timelines and was almost disappointed when the book caught up with “real time” and became linear.

I found Rosie to be a wonderful character - strong without realizing it and willing to help others despite the risk to herself. While I suppose you could predict where the entire book was going, I nevertheless liked it quite a lot. Fans of Fielding and other chick lit authors should be quite pleased with this one.

September 24, 2003
Eat Cake by Jeanne Ray

Eat Cake by Jeanne Ray: a wonderful feel-good type of book that probably most people could easily relate to.

Ruth, a housewife in Minneapolis, loves to bake cakes. Baking a cake is her form of both relaxation and therapy, something that she’s going to need a lot of in her near future.

Ruth lives with her husband Sam, her difficult teenage daughter Camille, and her mother Hollis who moved in after her house was robbed. To complicate things even further, Sam loses his job and Ruth’s father Guy, whom she hardly even sees and her mother hates, has a serious accident and has to move in. Needless to say, tension in the household increases and Ruth begins baking even more cakes.

In reality, this book was pretty easy to predict what was going to happen next, but I loved reading every word of it. Ray’s voice is soothing and funny and very easy to get sucked into. I enjoyed her characters, especially Ruth, Hollis, and Guy, and the interaction among the family was a joy to experience.

Like a piece of cake, Eat Cake was both light and enjoyable - perfect summer reading or to just take a break from every day life.

August 31, 2003
The Trials of Tiffany Trott by Isabel Wolff

The Trials of Tiffany Trott by Isabel Wolff: another British chick lit book that I found to be occasionally uneven and ultimately a bit disappointing.

We first find Tiffany Trott on the even of her thirty-seventh birthday getting ready for her party. She’s in a good mood since she’s got a wonderful boyfriend and she’s convinced that he’s going to be asking her to marry him any minute now. Unfortunately for Tiffany, by the end of the party she receives the dreaded “we need to talk” call and Alex dumps her.

The rest of the novel is about Tiffany trying to find the right guy. She uses lonely hearts ads. She tries dating agencies. She even tries Eat 'N Greet single matches. She does find one eligible guy, but the fact that he’s married and looking for a part-time girlfriend, really isn’t what Tiffany is looking for.

For the most part I enjoyed the book, but I never found myself dying to get back to it and find out what was going to happen next. I definitely found the ending annoying, but I do wonder what Tiffany’s going to do about the events that unfold in the last ten pages or so.

All in all, not the worst chick lit book that I’ve ever read, but definitely not the best. It does have some good, dry British humor, though, so that’s always a plus.

May 13, 2003
Amanda's Wedding by Jenny Colgan

Amanda’s Wedding by Jenny Colgan: yet another “zany chick” book. I just can’t seem to get away from them.

Anyway, this book is the story of Mel and Fran and their so-called “friend” (we all have them - the people that you’re nice to but secretly can’t stand) Amanda. Amanda is rich and snobby and getting married to a super nice guy that Mel had a crush on in college, Fraser. With several willing accomplices including the groom’s brother, they set out to stop Amanda’s wedding.

For whatever reason, I enjoyed this book much more than most of the books in this genre that I’ve been reading lately. I enjoyed the characters, the situations they got themselves into, and really wanted to find out what was going to happen in the end, especially after a few key events unfolded. It definitely stands out in the genre, so if you’re looking for a book like this, this one’s a good one to choose.

April 10, 2003
Girls' Poker Night: A Novel of High Stakes by Jill A. Davis

Girls' Poker Night: A Novel of High Stakes by Jill A. Davis: another one of those “zany chick” books that I seem to have read so many of, especially lately. I was particularly drawn to this one because I’m a poker player. I knew that this book wouldn’t be addressing the game itself, really, but it gave me an added incentive to give it a try.

Unfortunately in this particular case, this book has sunk very low on my list of “chick” books that I can recommend to others. It had a pretty good start, but by the time it ended I didn’t really care about anyone in it all. As a matter of fact, I would be hard pressed to come up with any specific details relating to the book it was that bland.

I really can’t recomend this book at all unless you absolutely adore books in this genre and even then I am sure you could find one that was more memorable and more interesting than this one turned out to be.

April 02, 2003
Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman: this is the second time that I’ve read this book and it’s still as wonderful as the first time I read it about three years ago.

Practical Magic is set in our time and in our world, but also in a world where a lover’s passion is so strong that butter melts in their house. Where the ticking of a beetle can signify death for someone that you love. I think we all used to have some of this magic in our world, but we lose it as we get older and reality takes a stronger hold on us. Reading this book is a wonderful way to recapture the amazing in the every day.

The story revolves around sets of sisters in the Owens family - the aunts, Gillian and Sally, and Sally’s girls. All of the women in the Owens family are beguiling and they also happen to be witches. This aspect seemed more focused on in movie (very highly recommended) than in the book, but it’s an important element nonetheless. The relationships between the family is both one of love and one that is convoluted through choices that are made.

While it may sound like a sappy book, the way it is handled makes it anything but. The characters are deep and interesting and you can’t help but experience their longing, their worry, and their love. This book is simply lovely and has become one of my favorites of all time, always staying with me. I can not recommend it enough.

March 23, 2003
Fishbowl by Sarah Mlynowski

Fishbowl by Sarah Mlynowski: one of the many “zany female” books ala Bridget Jones’s Diary that is so in vogue right now.

I found the book to be pretty decent and I particularly liked the way that the author did each chapter alternating through each of the three main characters points of view. You get to see how they view each other (not just how they view themselves) which added a bit more depth to the story.

All in all, it kind of blended in with the rest of the books that I’d read in this vein, but it’s not bad if you’re looking for a quick read.

February 10, 2003
4 Blondes by Candance Bushnell

4 Blondes by Candance Bushnell: four stories about rich women - a model, a writer, a journalist, and a princess - and their trials and tribulations.

I found this book bland at best and couldn’t really get into the characters. It’s by the same woman responsible for Sex and the City, but while I genuinely care about Carrie and her friends, I couldn’t be bothered to really worry or be concerned with these women’s problems. Carrie and her crew always seem like real people while these four ladies were so far removed from my plane of reality. If your biggest problem is trying to find the best house to stay in in The Hamptons for the summer, we have nothing in common.

I suppose this book was an okay way to spend a few hours. I’m just relieved I got it for free at Swappingtons instead of paying for it.

January 25, 2003
Jemima J by Jane Green

Jemima J by Jane Green: another quick read that I polished off in half a day. It’s the story of a sad, fat girl that longs to be thin but doesn’t really have the willpower to do it. However, she gets on the Internet and meets a hottie from California (she lives in London) who wants to meet her. Of course, she’s told the guy that she’s thin and gorgeous, so now the pressure is on. It was a good book with a pretty interesting twist at the end. I enjoyed it.

Otherwise Engaged by Suzanne Finnamore

Otherwise Engaged by Suzanne Finnamore: for the first half of the book or so I didn’t like the character much and couldn’t get into the novel. Towards the end, though, she became more human to me and I started liking the storyline. I actually liked it once I got past the first eighty pages or so. Not sure if I would try other books by this author, but I think it was her first novel, so others by her might be better.

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant: absolutely amazing book about Dinah from The Bible. It’s a fictional account and has nothing to do with religion. Instead, it’s about the relationship between Dinah, her mother, and her aunts. It’s both fascinating and touching and I feel completely in love with this book.

Shopaholic Takes Manhattan by Sophie Kinsella

Shopaholic Takes Manhattan by Sophie Kinsella: I only read this one because I could borrow it from Christine. It was basically the first book all over again. I spent the whole time wanting to slap the main character and yell at her, ‘Grow up, damn it! Stop being a victim and learn some discipline.’ Avoid these books.

Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner

Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner: even though some of the book is a little far-fetched, I loved it and strongly rooted for the main character. It was a great book and I recommend it to all women.

Shopgirl by Steve Martin

Shopgirl by Steve Martin was quick little read about a shopgirl and her relationship with two men. It was a touching book and I really liked it.