The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner

The Next Best ThingThe Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book was just "eh" for me. I was a huge fan of Good in Bed and In Her Shoes, but it seems like the magic ended with those two books. I've started and stopped Certain Girls several times but could never get into it, and never finished. And now, I started and wanted to stop The Next Best Thing too, but the behind-the-scenes look at how a TV sitcom is made kept me going. I think it would have been more interesting if Ms. Weiner had written a memoir about her experience in the TV world rather than this dull fictionalized version.

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Landline by Rainbow Rowell

LandlineLandline by Rainbow Rowell

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

While I still LOVE Rainbow Rowell's writing, this one, in my opinion, didn't measure up to Eleanor & Park or Fangirl. I liked this book, but I didn't LOOOOVVVVEEEE it like I did the others. Part of the problem could be that I always have trouble with story lines that play around with the space-time continuum. I just feel like there are too many unanswered questions. I wish the story had been told from two points of view, so the reader could understand what was happening on the other end of the phone. Even though I didn't love this one, I still think Rainbow is a fantastic writer and I'll read anything she puts out. I look forward to whatever comes next.

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Update 15 minutes later:   I was reading reviews on Amazon.com and came across someone who hit the nail on the head.



This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

This is Where I Leave YouThis is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this story of a dysfunctional family sitting shiva for seven days after the father passes away. I hadn't heard of the book until I saw the preview for the upcoming moving, which looked funny and has a great cast. I decided to read the book first and am glad I did. 'It's quite funny, and I always find it interesting to read stories like this from the male perspective.

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The Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks

The Harlem HellfightersThe Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I saw Max Brooks on The Daily Show and was intrigued to read this book.  I'm torn about giving this only three stars.  This is a fictionalized account of the 369th Infantry Regiment--an African American unit who was set up to fail by the U.S. government, but came back as one of the most decorated units during World War I. For working so hard to get this story out there, I give Max Brooks 5 stars and more. However, I had a difficult time with the graphic novel format, hence the 3 stars.

Max Brooks tried to have a movie made, and was turned down time and again, so he decided to try a graphic novel. Again, kudos for not giving up. But, this particular graphic novel I found difficult to follow. This is the second or third graphic novel I've read, so I'm no expert, but the story is disjointed and jumpy, and because the drawings are in black and white, it's difficult to distinguish the characters. I think it would have helped a lot if the drawings were in color. In black and white, it was even difficult to distinguish the black characters from white characters. The drawings are harsh and it's often tough to discern what is happening from one panel to another because there's just so much black ink.

The author's note, historical note, and bibliography at the end were great and very informative. I hope that with the release of this book that the Powers That Be will reconsider and make a movie. I think there's a lot to the story that would translate well in film, but didn't do so well in this format.

A friend and I decided to read this together and she had an equally difficult time.  She felt proud of herself for taking on a graphic novel, as she should.  I hope this doesn't keep her from trying another one.  I recommended that she read Blankets next, which I really enjoyed.

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Feeling good

It's been a long time since my last post, and I promised my friend Kerri that I'd get back to blogging eventually.  Well, here I am.

These days, with crappy radio stations, my iPod, and a local sports station that I like, I often don't know what the kids are listening to these days.  My sister always insists that if I watched VH1's Top 20 Countdown on Saturday or Sunday morning, I'd at least be aware of what's going on.


Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

Someday, Someday, MaybeSomeday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm a big fan of Lauren Graham on Parenthood, and was so surprised when I came across this book at the store and realized, "Yes, it's that Lauren Graham." I was very curious to see what she could do, and she didn't disappoint.

The story is about a struggling actress in NYC and her trials and tribulations in the mid-1990s. It's a fun read...I laughed out loud a few times, and was really pulling for Franny in her endeavors. Toward the end, Franny seemed a little dense and I just wanted to shake her by the shoulders to point out what was right in front of her face. Despite that, I still thought it was a great read. I also loved the interactions between Franny and her dad. And her descriptions of agent Barney Sparks cracked me up too. I agree with the blurbs on the back cover that this book was very charming.

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Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

Silver SparrowSilver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This story starts off with, "My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist." It's told in two parts, first by Dana, who is the daughter in James' secret/illegal marriage. The second part is told by his other daugheter, Chaurisse, from his first marriage. Dana and her mother know the situation, Chaurisse and her mother do not. James is the only character that I didn't care for. I cared about, and pulled for all the others.

Tayari Jones is a wonderful writer who really draws you in to each character's life. It got to a point where I really didn't want to put the book down. The only reason I didn't give it five stars is because the final chapter felt rushed and the story left a lot of questions unanswered. I would love to know more about what happened to these characters' lives.

I also enjoyed reading the interview with the author at the end of the book.  Knowing why she wrote the book the way she did and how she was influenced, made me appreciate the story all the more.

I do look forward to reading other works by Ms. Jones.

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Random Idol post

I haven't posted much about American Idol this season, other than to say I was watching it again thanks to Mr. Harry Connick, Jr.  I don't watch the show religiously and tend to let several episodes build up before I watch, so I'm always a bit behind.  After seeing last week's show (the theme was The 80's) and this week's show, I have a few comments and some advice for some of the contestants.

I like Jessica and Jena's voices, but I don't like their personalities.  When you see them in group shots where they're sitting on the couch with other contestants, both of them are always scowling and looking like they hate the world.  I could be competely wrong, but I think they resent it when other contestants get great comments from the judges.  They never seem happy for any other contestant that does well.

My advice is for Jessica and Sam.  LOOSEN UP.  Sam's too young, but maybe Jessica can use this advice that I saw on Facebook recently:

Last week's performance when she did Blondie's "Call Me," just made me uncomfortable.  It was very clear that she was trying desperately to use the advice given by David Cook (it was great to see him back!) to use the cameras, but it was just so awkward and you could tell she was uncomfortable and thinking too hard.  Okay, maybe alcohol isn't the answer, but she needs something to loosen up. Oh wait, as I'm watching this week's show, Harry just told her to put on some funk or hip-hop music and just dance and watch herself in the mirror.  He's getting at the same point I'm making.  She needs to find the groove and find the beat.

Same goes for Sam.  During Caleb's performance this week, they showed a shot of the other contestants on the couch and most were clapping and dancing.  But poor Sam had his hands shoved in his pockets and he looked extremely awkward.  He reminded me of myself when we first used to go to clubs to go dancing.  I was awkward and uncomfortable for sure, but hey, after a drink or two, I did loosen up and went for it.  Vodka told me I could do it.

And speaking of Caleb.  WOW.  He hasn't had a bad performance yet, and I LOVED last week's performance of Journey's "Faithfully."  He's not the type of performer I'd typically be interested in with the whole ROCK thing, but he just knocks it out every week.  I think he's got the best voice on the show. 

Just a few more weeks to go...it'll be interesting to see how the voting goes.


Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Where'd You Go, BernadetteWhere'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading two pretty heavy books, I needed something fun, and Where'd You Go, Bernadette fit the bill. The story is told through emails, faxes, and other correspondence as young Bee tries to figure out why her mother disappeared. I laughed out loud several times, and zipped through the book in a couple of days. I wished for more with the ending, but overall, I enjoyed this book a lot.

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Misheard lyrics -- say what?!

When I'm with my sister and she happens to be singing a song, 7 times out of 10, I'll have to correct her on some of the lyrics.  This is a running joke between us--she gets lyrics wrong all the time, and couldn't care less.

Tonight on the radio they were talking about misheard lyrcis.  The host raised the question (I'm paraphrasing): What song did you butcher for years before you realized what the real lyrics were?

The first guy that called in said that he always had to correct his friend when he was singing Tupac's California Love.  The caller said: "Yeah, you know how in California Love he says, 'California...knows how to party?'  Well, my friend always sings, 'California....no doubt about it.'  And I'm like, what are doing, man?  It's "knows how to party"! 

So, I was sitting there in the car thinking, IT IS?!!  Because, well, I've been singing "no doubt about it" FOR YEARSSSSSSSS.  I checked the lyrics online and sure enough, "knows how to party."  Then I played the song, and I could hear it clear as day.  How did I miss that all this time?!  Oops.

My sister's going to get a kick out of this.