Tag Archives: chick lit

Review: Holly’s Inbox, by Holly Denham (Bill Surie)

Holly's InboxAt the start of Holly’s Inbox, by Holly Denham (the pen name of Bill Surie), Holly Denham starts her first day as a receptionist at a busy corporate bank. From here the reader is taken into her email inbox as she emails several different people throughout the course of her work day. The reader gets to tag along to read her emails to and from friends, co-workers, and service providers.

Not only do you get to peek at someone else’s emails, there’s also a romantic storyline to follow, along with a few funny subplots.

Don’t let the size of this book put you off. It weighs in at 665 pages, but since each email is formatted as an email, with appropriate From and To lines, the actual story isn’t as long as it seems. The style of the writing is in keeping with the breezy, chatty style of personal emails, so the book is an easy and fun read.

I read the book in one sitting, and one thing I noticed was that, by making the reader aware, gradually, that there are certain things we don’t know about Holly, there’s actually a nice bit of suspense – it was this suspense that sent me galloping over the last third of the book, because I wanted to find out answers to certain questions.

Not that I didn’t have some quibbles about Holly’s Inbox, though. I don’t want to include any spoilers, so this might not make complete sense to you until/unless you’ve read the book. I really didn’t get James’ character. (James is Holly’s new boyfriend). It just didn’t feel that credible to me that James pre-Spain/up-to-Spain and James post-Spain were the same person. Given what James post-Spain is like, seriously, why would he do what he did while in Spain? Guys like James post-Spain don’t do things like that – there’s no point. What happened in Spain just didn’t make sense to me.

And why was James post-Spain the way he was? We don’t really get a reason for the change from James pre-Spain and James post-Spain, and it’s a bit frustrating not to know his motivations.

Jennie also seemed a bit unbelievable, although incredibly fun to read, especially at the end when she got her comeuppance. And the reason behind Holly’s animosity toward Toby is a plot mechanism that’s pretty old.

But still, despite these quibbles, I enjoyed this book. It was a fun and quick read, and I laughed out loud several times. I thought Bill Surie developed his characters quite well within the limitations of the email format.

Holly’s Inbox has been compared to Bridget Jones’ Diary, and there are certainly some similarities. For me, it wasn’t as good a read as Bridget Jones’ Diary, but regardless, it was a good read overall.

Where to buy Holly’s Inbox:

U.S. (Amazon.com) | Indiebound | UK (Amazon.co.uk)

Review copy details: published by Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2009 (originally published in 2007), trade paperback, 665 pages, review copy provided by publisher

Another Book-Buying Binge! (Or, Why I Shouldn’t Go To Costco Anymore)

Yesterday I accidentally indulged in another book-buying binge. Yes, in case you’re wondering, it was totally by accident. I had no intentions of splurging on anything when I entered Costco.

Unfortunately, since it’s summer, the book section at Costco is a dangerous place for a book lover to be. I think the marketing assumption is that in the summer, people buy books to read on the beach or on holidays.

I’m thinking now that those marketing people are geniuses. Either that, or I’m extraordinarily susceptible to marketing ploys. (Okay, so maybe it’s the latter.)

Here’s the stack I came home with:


And here are the covers:

It Would Be Funny... If It Wasn't My Life, by Lisa DowTailSpin, by Catherine CoulterThe Last Oracle, by James RollinsThe Flying Troutmans, by Miriam ToewsWicked: Witch & Curse, by Nancy Holder and Debbie ViguiéThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg LarssonExit Lines, by Joan BarfootThe Society of S, by Susan HubbardThe Year of Disappearances, by Susan HubbardHow To Be Single, by Liz TuccilloThe Book of God and Physics, by Enrique JovenBrainMatics Logic Puzzles, by H. F. UllmannOne Fifth Avenue, by Candace BushnellDK Encyclopedia of Animals, by DK Publishing

I’m not sure when I’ll have the time to read these. I do, however, feel good knowing I now have them on hand, for whenever the right reading mood strikes.

Want to know something even sadder? Do you see the BrainMatics Logic Puzzles? My husband (who happens to be just as bad when it comes to cookbooks, by the way) happened to slip a copy of this one into the cart, too, thinking I’d enjoy it. So we came home with TWO copies. I’m promising myself I won’t give in to temptation again when we go back to Costco to return the duplicate copy.

Do you go on book-buying binges occasionally? Please say yes!

Incoming! A Version of the Truth, by Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack

Incoming! is a feature at Ms. Bookish that chronicles new books that have arrived in the Ms. Bookish household. Here’s one of the latest new arrivals:

A Version of the Truth, by Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack

A Version of the TruthAbout the Book:

Thirty, newly single, and desperately in need of a paycheck, inveterate bird-watcher Cassie Shaw goes against her principles and lies on her résumé to land a job. She then finds herself employed at an elite university working for two professors as unique as the rare birds she covets.

One of them is a sexy expert in animal behavior, Professor Conner. Under his charismatic tutelage, Cassie begins her personal transformation into the people she was meant to be while meeting the kinds of people she has never met before. But when your entire future and your unlikely new career teeter on one unbearable untruth, the masquerade can’t go on forever

First line: “I flunked the second, third, and ninth grades. In my heart, I knew I was dumb.”

Where I got this book: Part of my No BEA? Books Anyway! haul

My initial thoughts:

Why I picked this one up:

  1. I am a sucker for the phrase “personal transformation” (in fiction only, though.)
  2. I read the authors’ last book, Literacy and Longing in L.A. and absolutely loved it.

Related Links and other Fun Stuff

CBS News interviews Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack about A Version of the Truth (I didn’t embed the video here because I couldn’t get it to stop auto-playing.)

Where to buy A Version of the Truth:: U.S. (Amazon.com) | IndieBound | Canada (Chapters) | UK (Amazon.co.uk)

Incoming! Crossed Wires, by Rosy Thornton

Incoming! is a feature at Ms. Bookish that chronicles new books that have arrived in the Ms. Bookish household. Here’s the latest new arrival:

Crossed Wires, by Rosy Thornton

Crossed WiresAbout the Book:

This is the story of Mina, a girl at a Sheffield call centre, whose next customer in the queue is Peter, a Cambridge geography don, who has crashed his car into a tree stump.

Despite their differences, they’ve got a lot in common – both single, both parents, both looking for love.

Could it be that they’ve just found it?

This is a story about the small joys and tribulations of parenthood; about one-ness and two-ness; about symmetry and coincidence; about the things that separate us and the things that bring us together.

First line: ‘Autocare Direct Motor Insurance. My name is Mina, how may I help you?’

Received from: The author

My initial thoughts:

It’s funny what makes a person decide on a book sometimes. Lately I’ve really been cutting down on the number of review books I’m accepting; but in the case of Crossed Wires, I took a look at Rosy Thornton’s website and immediately thought to myself (perhaps it was that first line, “Hello, I’m Rosy and I appear to be a novelist”), I really like the way she writes.

Books and Movies, one of my favorite book blogs, recently reviewed Crossed Wires and wrote: “Thornton’s writing reminds me some of Alexander McCall Smith, although (and don’t hate me if you’re a total Smith fan) I think Ms. Thornton’s characters are more authentic, less caricature.” If I hadn’t already been sold by Thornton’s writing on her website, this would have done the trick (I enjoy McCall Smith’s writing very much).

Crossed Wires is one of the books I will be bringing with me when I go on holiday at the end of this month. This list is my “short list” of must-reads, as I’m not able to load up the van with books, as much as I would like to; I am really looking forward to reading this book while relaxing on a cool Maritimes beach.

Related Links and other Fun Stuff

Rosy Thornton

“Books Should Be Books!” by Rosy Thornton In this tongue-in-cheek essay, Thornton talks about the mystifying distinction that is made between “Literature” and “Fiction” and offers up her own Utopian solution.

Where to buy Crossed Wires:

U.S. (Amazon.com)

UK (Amazon.co.uk)

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Review: The Year of Living Famously, by Laura Caldwell

The Year of Living FamouslyKyra Felis, a minor clothing designer whose life consists of working temp jobs to make ends meet between each collection she designs, meets Declan McKenna, an up-and-coming Irish actor who sweeps her off her feet. She finds herself married and moves from New York to Los Angeles, where she beings living a life of bliss – until a film Declan starred in a few years back is finally premiered, and he becomes Hollywood’s next big star.

Kyra reluctantly enters life in the fast lane. Declan’s career is sky-rocketing and there are Oscar rumors; in the meantime, celebrities are eying her designs and she finds herself on her own way to designer stardom. But she is uneasy with the changes in her life. Declan acquires a stalker, and the paparazzi are so terrible, they can’t leave the house without bodyguards. Kyra finds herself propelled toward making a choice she really doesn’t want to make.

I first read The Year of Living Famously, by Laura Caldwell, about three years ago, and enjoyed it enough that it has survived every subsequent purging of my shelves to date. Recently I felt like a “comfort read”, and decided to give it a re-read.

The book begins with Kyra telling the story of her brief rise to fame as the wife of a new superstar. Kyra’s voice is wonderful; you feel like you’re doing catch-up with your best friend whom you haven’t seen for a few years. Her relationship with Declan is oh so wonderful. It’s absolutely lovely when all is well, and when you throw in instant fame, a bitchy celebrity, scads of paparazzi and a delusional, possibly dangerous stalker, it really starts getting good.

But funnily enough, this was where the story derailed a little for me the second time around. Which makes me think that it’s me, and not the book, because I don’t have any memories of feeling this way the first time I read it.

What bothered me on this reading was the fact that Kyra didn’t really make much of an effort to enjoy the changes in her life, to be open to the possibilities. There seemed to me to be a decided lack of spunk, independence and spirit, no gleam of a “let me see how I like this” approach to life. She just seemed to decide she didn’t want this, she never asked for this, and it was all a very very bad thing, tarnishing even the bits that involved her own success. I think I would have liked it better if she’d been more open to things as Declan began his rise to fame, maybe approached things with an eye to seeing how this new life might have angles that fit her personally.

Having said that, though, this book was still a good read. I galloped through it happily, and had a warm glow-y feeling when I finished the last page. It won’t survive another bookshelf purge (in fact, I’ll be adding it to my Giftaway shelf), but all that means is that for me, it’s not a keeper anymore. Tastes change. But it was still well-worth the time re-reading it.

Where to buy The Year of Living Famously:

U.S. (Amazon.com)

Canada (Chapters)

UK (Amazon.co.uk)

Review copy details: published by Red Dress Ink, 2004, Trade paperback, 328 pages

An Embarrassment of Library Riches

It must be some sort of Murphy’s Law applicable to bibliophiles, I think. Work-wise it’s been quiet around here, which is why I’ve been able to keep up with all my reading even through all the renovations around here, instead of being stuck at my desk pounding on deadline after deadline. I always have a stash of books I’ve requested from the library, and during these past few months, my holds have been trickling in.

And now? Well, on Monday I received a veritable flood of assignments and now have three deadlines all falling due next week. Then I received several automated phone messages from the local library, telling me that books I had requested were now on hold for me.

Today I took a break from work and popped over to the library. I needed two bags to hold everything! An embarrassment of riches indeed – and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that despite my deadlines, I’ll be able to read most of them. I have three weeks, and I can renew books for two additional three-week periods, provided, of course, that no-one else has put in a request for the titles. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll remember to renew any I haven’t read yet online before the due date!

Here’s what I picked up from the library today:

Mystery: Unnatural Fire, by Fidelis Morgan. I think I had this on my list as a result of reading about it at Cathy’s Kittling: Books.

Mystery: Now & Then, by Robert B. Parker. More Spenser!

Mystery/Paranormal: Ghost at Work, by Carolyn Hart. This one wasn’t a request. The library had it in a display, so it’s more of an impulse grab.

Nonfiction: Loch Ness Monsters and Raining Frogs, by Albert Jack. Another one that was on display. Simply couldn’t resist.

Chick Lit: Odd Mom Out, by Jane Porter. By the author of Flirting with Forty, this definitely looks like a good read, although I’m not sure how it ended up on my hold list.

Mystery: In the Woods, by Tana French. I’d heard so much about this book, and I’d like to read it before French’s new novel, The Likeness, comes out in May (in case it’s really good, in which case I’ll have another book to add to my i-want list).

Nonfiction: Himalaya, by Michael Palin. I’ve been wanting to read this for a while; I love travel books, and like Palin’s humor as well.

Memoir: Up Till Now: The Autobiography, by William Shatner. I came across this a while back while on one of my online book-buying sprees; unfortunately, while Amazon has the hardcover version at a bargain price (in anticipation, I think, of the upcoming release of the trade paperback version), Chapters in Canada didn’t. So I checked the library and put myself in the queue for it. I almost picked it as my Audible selection, but the audiobook is abridged, so I thought I’d go for the longer read instead.

Paranormal/Thriller: Blood Sins, by Kay Hooper. I haven’t read Blood Dreams, the first in the Bishop/Special Crimes Unit trilogy, yet, but I’m hoping that it’s the kind of series you can read out of order.

Paranormal/Thriller: Blood Brothers, by Nora Roberts. I haven’t read very many Nora Roberts novels, and this one sounds good. It’s the start of the trilogy, so I may be in for more happy reading with this series …

Young adult/Mystery: Break and Enter, by Norah McClintock. I’ve already raved about this series here.

Children’s fiction: The Strictest School in the World: Being the Tale of a Clever Girl, a Rubber Boy and a Collection of Flying Machines, Mostly Broken, by Howard Whitehouse. I couldn’t resist typing out the full title. I don’t have a clue how I first came across this book, but I suspect all I had to do was read the title and it was writing itself down on my i-want list.

Fantasy/Erotica: Naughty Paris, by Jina Bacarr. I can’t remember where I came across this title, either, but there it was, on my list of requested books. About a woman living in today’s times, a maverick painter in 1889 and a little bit of black magic and (I gather) a whole lot of sex.

Now, if I could just finish up these deadlines so I can succumb to the lure of this embarrassment of library riches!

Mailbox Monday – March 2

mailboxIt’s time for Mailbox Monday again – Mailbox Monday is hosted each Monday by the Printed Page, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to check out the books people have added to their TBR piles in the last week.

Here’s what arrived in my home this week:

Chick lit: Midori by Moonlight, by Wendy Tokunaga. I won this book in a giveaway over at S. Krishna’s Books and I’m really looking forward to reading it.

Mystery: The Spellman Files, by Lisa Lutz. This one caught my eye while I was out shopping – it looks like a fun quirky mystery kind of like the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovitch.

Paranormal: Marked, by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast. This is the first in the House of Night series.

Young adult: Family Affairs: Secrets of My Hollywood Life, by Jen Calonita. This isn’t the first in the series, but I bought it anyway – it just looked too interesting to resist.

Non-fiction: The Towering World of Jimmy Choo, by Lauren Goldstein Crowe and Sagra Maceira De Rosen. I love shoes – need I say more? ARC courtesy of Bloomsbury.

Children’s Books: Little Skink’s Tail, by Janet Halfmann. This delightful picture book has already reaped a tower of awards; I’m definitely looking forward to reviewing this one. Review copy courtesy of the author and Sylvan Dell Publishing.

What books came into your house this past week? And don’t forget to hop over to the Printed Page to see what treasures have arrived at other book bloggers’ houses, too!

Found Treasures From My Book Stash

This year my husband and I seem to be in a major de-cluttering mode; one result is that I have been going through my books trying to figure out which ones to add to Bookmooch, which ones I should give away and which ones I really want to keep.

And so of course, I’ve been finding books that I own, that I haven’t yet read – and that I actually DO want to read.

Here are the treasures I unearthed from my own book stash this week:

The Mother Trip: Hip Mama’s Guide to Staying Sane in the Chaos of Motherhood, by Ariel Gore. I bought this one back when it first came out (that will give you an idea how LONG it’s been on my shelves!), and when I first came across it the other day, my first thought was to add it to my Bookmooch inventory.

And then I started flipping through the book. I really shouldn’t do that, you know. Because of course I found a few paragraphs here and there that were interesting, and on further investigation, there were lots of essays in it that looked interesting … and now this book is in my TBR pile.

The Manolo Matrix, by Julie Kenner. This is a chick lit mystery, and I’d read and enjoyed the first book by this author (The Givenchy Code). So of course I added this to my TBR pile – and wouldn’t you know it, I ended up picking up a copy of The Prada Paradox when I was online book shopping last week for a great price. Very synchronistic.

And speaking of synchronicities … a few weeks ago, I’d been by Beth Fish’s blog, and loved her review of French Lessons, by Peter Mayle. I decided to put the title in my i-want list – but guess what? Yup. No need to get it, because it turns out I already own it!

De-cluttering is great when you end up getting rid of stuff; it’s not so great when it just swells your TBR pile. And as some of you already know, my TBR pile is really huge already ….

Mailbox Monday – A Big List

It’s Mailbox Monday again – this is where I get the chance to list all the books that came into the house this past week.

This past week, I more or less made up for the the sparse new arrivals a few Mondays ago

I made the mistake of ambling over to Chapters.ca to buy a few non-fiction titles I’ve been really wanting to read. “Mistake” I say, but of course, my bookish heart doesn’t really mean it! I had a load of fun (I ended up spending a very long time in the bargain section, too), and it was kind of like Christmas all over again when the two big boxes of books were delivered. Then, a little later in the week, my husband and I popped into Sam’s Club for a look, and I couldn’t resist a few more books.

Here’s the list of what I bought this past week:

Non-fiction titles:

Memoir: Yes Man, by Danny Wallace. I just couldn’t resist this one – it sounds like such a happy, fun read.

Spirituality: Wisdom of Florence Scovel Shinn, by Florence Scovel Shinn. This book, and the following five titles are on the recommended reading list of a course I’m taking.

Spirituality: Awakened Imagination, by Neville Goddard

Spirituality:Bridging Science and Spirit, by Norman Friedman

Spirituality: Miracles of Mind, by Russell Targ and Jane Katra

Spirituality: Three Magic Words, by U.S. Andersen

Spirituality: Your Faith is Your Fortune 1941, by Neville Goddard

Children’s books/Non-fiction: The Cranium Big Book of Outrageous Fun, by Cranium Inc. This was on sale, and I couldn’t resist. (Note: I’m not sure how many more times you’ll read “I just couldn’t resist” in this post. No need to count, though. Seriously. I already know I’m letting my book-a-holic status out in the open with this post.)

Fiction titles:

General fiction: Thanks for the Memories, by Cecelia Ahern (I see that Amazon has this listed as Hardcover, to be released in April 2009, but the copy I have is a UK paperback version, published 2008). I enjoyed the movie PS I Love You (although I haven’t read the book), so I thought I’d give this one a try.

Children’s books/Mystery: The Dollhouse Murders, by Betty Ren Wright. This is a book I talked about in a recent Friday Finds post.

Chick Lit: Diary of a Blues Goddess, by Erica Orloff. Couldn’t resist this one.

Chick lit: My Heart May Be Broken, but My Hair Still Looks Great, by Dixie Cash. Couldn’t resist this one, either.

Chick Lit/Mystery: The Prada Paradox, by Julie Kenner. I read the Givenchy Code and enjoyed it, and this one was listed at a bargain price, so I thought, why not? (Those two little words lead me into trouble a lot). I also recently discovered I had The Manolo Matrix in my stash, unread, so the timing seemed right.

Children’s books: The Private Notebooks of Katie Roberts, by Amy Hest. This book combines the two diaries of Katie Roberts (age 11, and then age 12) set in the years after World War II.

Young adult/Fantasy: The Kingdom Keepers, by Ridley Pearson. I haven’t read this series yet, but it’s been on my i-want list for a while. What exactly happens at Disney after dark? What a great premise!

Young adult: Chloe Leiberman (Sometimes Wong), by Carrie Rosten. I simply could not resist this one.

Children’s books/Mystery: The Fall of the Amazing Zalindas (Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars), by Tracy Mack and Michael Citrin. This looked good, and is a great fit for the Baker Street reading challenge I’m doing this year.

But wait! There’s more!

A few weeks ago Michelle from Random Reading and I arranged to do an exchange of books, although it was a lopsided exchange, to say the least, as I got a whole bunch of Ngaio Marsh books plus a Donna Leon book, and Michelle only wanted two of mine in return! As luck would have it, Michelle’s package arrived last week too:

Mystery: A Venetian Reckoning, by Donna Leon – I have read one previous book by Leon and enjoyed it very much, so I’m thrilled to have this one in my stash now.

Mysteries, all by Ngaio Marsh (the links are to the only versions that Amazon has; they aren’t the versions I received): Death in a White TieVintage Murder, False Scent, Scales of Justice, Died in the Wool and Singing in the Shrouds. If you enjoy British mysteries you’ll probably like Marsh’s Scotland Yard detective, Roderick Alleyn. It’s been a while since I last read a Ngaio Marsh mystery, so I’m definitely looking forward to rereading these.

Last but not least (if you’re getting this vague picture of me drowning in books, you’d be pretty close …) the library also called with a few more holds that I had requested:

Mystery/Suspense: The Pagan Stone, by Nora Roberts. I haven’t read the first two books in the trilogy yet, but this is the one that arrived first, so it looks like this will be the one I’ll read first! I haven’t read a lot of Nora Roberts, but this series sounds interesting.

Mystery: Christmas is Murder, A Rex Graves Mystery, by C.S. Challinor. I can’t remember why I put a request in for this one – I’m sure it was something I read on someone’s blog, somewhere! But now that I have it, It does sound good – kind of Agatha Christie-ish.

Fantasy: Anathem, by Neal Stephenson. This book is huge – 960 pages. I suspect I will dip into the library version, and then if I get into it, I’ll just buy it so I don’t have to rush through it.

Finally, I’m all done! If you’re interested in adding new titles to your own list of books you’d like to read, head on over to the Printed Page for more of other book bloggers’ Monday Mailbox titles.

TSS: Currently reading Brown, Cabot, Fowler and Neville

It’s Sunday again – time most definitely has been flying by. I’m currently reading four books, but this week is a hectic week for me in terms of editorial deadlines, so I’m not sure how many of these I will be able to finish up and review by this time next Sunday.

But there’s just something so comforting about having such a lovely line-up of books in my Currently Reading pile.

I’ve been getting into the Christmas spirit with Rita Mae Brown’s Santa Claws. Mrs. Murphy and the gang are back at it again, and even though a murder isn’t the most Christmas-y of things, Santa Claws is shaping up to be a nice, cozy read. It’s definitely the kind of book you want to read with a mug of hot chocolate and mini marshmallows by your side. (Oh, wait a minute … I get that feeling with every book, actually.)

I haven’t gotten any further along on Katherine Neville’s The Fire, not because it’s not looking like it will be a good read, but because it’s one of those big, complex looking books that say to me, “I dare you to pick me up, start reading me and then put me down half an hour later because you’ve got work to do. Go on. I dare you.” Frankly, I’m a real wuss when it comes to such challenges; The Fire looks like it will be hard to put down once I get into it, and with so many deadlines coming at me, I’m scared to pick it up.

I know, kind of pathetic. What can I say? Books rule my life. And I’m woman enough to admit it.

Moving right along, I’ve also started Meg Cabot’s Big Boned. I love Cabot’s work, whether it’s her children’s books, YA novels or books for adults. In Big Boned, Heather Wells is back to solve another murder. I personally am reading this not for the whodunnit, but to see if Heather (a) will ever go back to singing superstardom again and (b) ends up with Cooper. Tad’s okay, but Cooper’s more than okay. Poor Tad.

Finally, I’m also reading Christopher Fowler’s White Corridor, another in the Peculiar Crimes Unit series featuring Bryant and May. I really like this duo, who are as quirky as you can get; sure they’re older, but that doesn’t get in the way of solving the crime, another locked room murder.

So that’s my reading week for the coming week. Now if I can only get some of these pesky deadlines finished up, it will be a very good reading week.

And here’s a round-up of the reviews I posted this past week:

Not in the Flesh, by Ruth Rendell (review)

The Cruellest Month, by Louise Penny (review)

The Book of Lies, by Brad Meltzer (review)

Casting Spells, by Barbara Bretton (review)