Monthly Archives: May 2010

The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell

As I mentioned in my “To-Read” pile post, I had recently picked up The Carrie Diaries and was hoping to start reading it soon. I had some downtime this weekend to read the story, and here is my review!

From Goodreads.com

Carrie Diaries Book CoverBefore Carrie Bradshaw hit the big time in the City, she was a regular girl growing up in the suburbs of Connecticut. How did she turn into one of the most-read social observers of our generation?

The Carrie Diaries opens up in Carrie’s senior year of high school. She and her best friends — Walt, Lali, Maggie, and the Mouse — are inseparable, amid the sea of Jens, Jocks and Jets. And then Sebastian Kydd comes into the picture. Sebastian is a bad boy-older, intriguing, and unpredictable. Carrie falls into the relationship that she was always supposed to have in high school-until a friend’s betrayal makes her question everything. With her high school days coming to a close, Carrie will realize it’s finally time to go after everything she ever wanted.

Rabid fans of Sex and the City will love seeing Carrie Bradshaw evolve from a regular girl into a sharp, insightful writer. They’ll learn about her family background — how she found her writing voice, and the indelible impression her early friendships and relationships left on her. We’ll see what brings Carrie to her beloved New York City, where the next Carrie Diaries book will take place.

I am very lucky that my experience of reading young adult (YA) books has lead me to some great authors. As a result, I have given high marks to almost all of the YA books I have read. Due to these wonderful writers–and the fabulous books they have published–I have come to expect high quality in my YA reads. High school is a time for young adults to grow and go through many changes. This has never been used as an excuse to develop weak characters; this is part of the reason I seek out great YA books.

Bushnell’s first attempt at YA does not begin to reach the high level of YA I have come to expect. This book is long–400 pages–but says very little. Part of the reason is because this book is full of many contradictions. For example Carrie claims she wants to be a writer, yet for most of the book she does nothing to reach this goal. She goes on and on about how she never wants to get married, yet immediately attaches herself to the first guy who shows interest in her. What is further annoying about this relationship is the fact that he treats her awfully for most of the book, yet she stays with him. The relationship with two of her friends also drove me crazy. She gives a great deal of herself to these relationships, yet receives little in return. To me this all lead to Carrie being an uninteresting and weak character.

There were some redeeming things about this story that did keep me reading. The secondary plot of Carrie’s family situation was enjoyable for me to read. I felt as if the relationship between Carrie and her sisters was very honest. How they related to each other and their father after their mother’s passing kept me interested. A second storyline discussing about Carrie’s relationship with George, a boy she meets at Brown University, really helps move the plot along. Unfortunately, this story doesn’t start progressing until the last third of the book. I wish the author had discussed introduced these bits more throughout the story, as I believe it would of lead to a more interesting book.

Review: The two plot points I enjoyed could not save this book for me. Sadly it is the last line of this book that is the most interesting to me. While this does make me excited for the next “Carrie Diaries” book, it does not say much for this book. Although I usually love YA books, I felt this book was childish.

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Books of Summer

As a book lover, I am very excited for this summer. Not only does the summer offer many opportunities for lying out in the sun and reading, it also brings a bunch of new book releases! I am eagerly awaiting many of these releases as they are from some of my favorite authors.

Heart of the Matter book coverThe first summer release that has me excited is Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin. Although this book has been released — its release date was Tuesday, May 11th– I still feel it is worth a mention. I discovered Emily Giffin’s first book, Something Borrowed, while waiting in line for the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I picked up the book initially just to help me pass the time while waiting in line. An hour or so later I was engrossed in the story. I ended up buying it, and it has since become one of my favorites. I often find myself returning to this book for an impromptu re-read. I have since purchased and enjoyed Giffin’s other three releases. The author’s ability to depict relationships between people in her novels has consistently amazed me. This skill always translates to characters that I can relate to. I can’t wait to see if this is true of her new novel.

Insatiable Book CoverThe next summer release on my calendar is Insatiable by Meg Cabot. Due in bookstores on June 1st, this will be Cabot’s third release this year. Though Cabot has quite the collection of published works, none feel “cookie-cutter” in plot. I have read over thirty Meg Cabot stories and I have enjoyed them all. Each book or series has a different feel to it which really helps them stand out. That is certainly true of her newest novel. Cabot promises that Insatiable will take on the topics of Supernatural and Vampires in a new way. I can’t wait to see what that is!

Promises to Keep by Jane GreenThe third summer release I am excited about is Promises to Keep by Jane Green. I have read many of Green’s books and love how I have always been able to relate to her characters. When I was an unmarried college student, I was able to connect with the single women in her stories. Once I was married, I enjoyed her stories of the trials and tribulations newlyweds. As I leave that stage of my life, I am enjoying her stories of mothers-to-be and find them to be delightful. I hope that Promises to Keep: A Novel helps to continue that trend. This book is scheduled to be released June 15th.

Fly Away Home book coverJuly 13th is the release date of my next anticipated summer release Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner. Weiner’s ability to describe the complex feelings of relationships is a reason why she is among my favorite authors. She uses this skill in In Her Shoes to tell the story of two sisters, making this book a favorite of mine. In her novel Little Earthquakes, she is able to show the connection between young mothers with the same realism. I am interested to see which relationship she tackles in this new release as it is sure to be as moving as her previous works.

Mini Shopaholic book coverThe last summer release I am eagerly awaiting is Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella. This book, to be released August 24th, is the latest in the author’s “Shopaholic” series. As a fellow shopaholic, I find main character Becky Bloomwood endearing. I have related to many of her antics and travels throughout the series. I have been wondering about Becky the birth of her daughter in the end of Shopaholic and Baby and can not wait to see what she has been up to in the time since.

These are the five summer releases that have me excited. Are any of your favorite authors releasing books this summer? What are your most anticipated summer releases? Thanks in advance for sharing!

An Education by Lynn Barber

I’ve been lucky recently and won a few goodreads.com giveaways recently. This review of An Education by Lynn Barber is another such book. As is the case with Lay the Favorite, I would not have read this book had I not won it on goodreads.

From Goodreads.com

Book cover of "An Education" by Lynn BarberLynn Barber’s true story is now a major film of the same name scripted by Nick Hornby. At 16, Lynn Barber was an ambitious schoolgirl working towards a place at Oxford, when she was picked up at a bus-stop by an attractive older man in a sports car. So began a relationship that almost wrecked her life. Barber’s fascinating memoir takes us beyond this bizarre episode, revealing how it left her with an abiding mistrust of men which paradoxically led her to a promiscuous life-style at university until she met her husband-to-be. “An Education” tells how she went on to work for seven years at daring (for the times) men’s magazine “Penthouse’ before beginning her starry days as the Demon Barber – Britain’s most entertaining and most feared interviewer. The book ends with an extraordinarily moving account of the early death of her husband. Her writing is refreshingly frank and funny.

I first became aware of An Education during the last Academy Awards ceremony. I found the clips and description of the movie very interesting, and made a mental note to watch the movie someday. I didn’t think of the movie again until noticing a book titled An Education listed as a goodreads.com giveaway. After a bit of research, I found that the movie had been based on this book Remembering that the movie had caught my attention, I checked out the book’s description. The description and my previous interest in the movie after the Oscars led me to sign up for the giveaway.

While I don’t usually discuss the book covers in my blogs, the publishers did such a great job designing the cover for this book that I can’t help but mention it. I felt as if this cover was a good representation of the book. The publishing company could have gone with a glossy cover with a photo-shopped model, but they didn’t. While this that kind of cover may have had more “shelf-appeal,” it would not have matched the story that’s being told. The simple cover featuring a younger image of the author was quite fitting. In my opinion this cover represented the story about Barber’s life very well.

At first I was unable to get into this book. The first chapter was necessary to give me background information on the author’s life, but it felt a bit slow. I did find myself getting more interested as I read., and I soon was unable to put the book down. Barber lead an interesting life and it translates into a engaging book.

I did feel a bit of a handicap as a US reader as opposed to someone from Barber’s native country. Some things like the discussion of England’s school system were confusing to me. The mention of certain prominent figures in the United Kingdom were lost on me as well since I did not know who they were. As a result, I felt that I was unable to grasp the importance of her interaction with these people. While this did take away my ability to relate to the character in some parts, it did not have much of an impact on my overall enjoyment or the story.

Review: I found this book interesting and engaging. It was a quick read that entertained me for an afternoon. I especially appreciated the way the author described her feelings and relationships with her family, and showed how those feelings educated her in her life.

My “To-Read” pile

I like to always have a good-sized “to-read” pile sitting on my bookshelf at home. This practice always insures I have a new book to start at the completion of another! As my “to-read” pile had started dwindling in the last week, I headed to Target this weekend to restock.

The Carrie Diaries Book CoverOne of the books I purchase was The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell. This book tells the high school tale of Sex and the City fashionista Carrie Bradshaw. Although I am excited to read this book, I do have some reservations. A part of me is afraid that this book is an attempt to capitalize on the upcoming release of the Sex and the City 2 movie, leading the author to deliver a substandard book to make a buck. Another reservation is due to the fact that my history with Bushnell books is a bit rocky. While I enjoyed One Fifth Avenue, I felt that Four Blondes and Sex and the City were just alright. Hopefully my love for all things Carrie Bradshaw will lead to an enjoyable reading experience.

My Fair Lazy book coverMy next purchase was a book I have been eagerly awaiting: My Fair Lazy: One Reality Television Addict’s Attempt to Discover If Not Being A Dumb Ass Is the New Black; Or, A Culture-Up Manifesto by Jen Lancaster. I discovered Lancaster after finding a previous book Bright Lights, Big Ass during a bookstore run. The book was hysterical. I have since picked up–and enjoyed–her other three books. I can not wait for the right day to pick up this book and escape into Lancaster’s world.

Book cover of "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett The last book I picked up on my shopping trip was The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Unlike the previous two books, this purchase was an accidental find. This book first grabbed my interest when I saw it on my local Target shelf. Since then I started seeing references to this book in articles and TV spots. Finally after a recommendation from my friend Melissa, I figured I needed to add it to my “to-read” shelf. It is now sitting on my bookshelf, and I am excited to see what it is about!

So that is my current “to-read” pile! What’s on your list?