Thursday, July 27, 2006

Summer Reading List, Weeks VI - VIII

I've gotten behind on my reading list, if not my reading. (Although, I confess that the reading has slowed down a bit.
Darn Footballers Wives...)

Below is the list. I tried to keep things short and sweet, so as not to be too overwhelming. Recommended books are indicated by a hyperlink to Amazon*, so you can learn more about it. Or, if there's anything you'd like to hear more about - leave me a comment!

Seaside: A Lily Pascale Mystery - Scarlett Thomas
The third book in what continues to be a strong series. Lily must investigate the recent death of an 18-year-old twin. Is it suicide or murder? And exactly which twin is it??

The Booster - Jennifer Solow
Very promising debut novel - Upper East Side fashionista falls into a self-destructive downward spiral, which culminates with her involvement in a shoplifting ring.

The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread - Kate DiCamillo
A lovely story for elementary-aged children, and the people who love to read with them. A tidy tale of mice and men; of hope, love and forgiveness. And, oh yes, soup...

Blue Screen - Robert Parker
The newest Sunny Randall novel - with Jesse Stone and Susan Silverman from other Parker franchises making appearances. Sunny is hired by a sleazy Hollywood player to investigate the death of his girlfriend's sister. (His girlfriend is one of the top action stars in L.A)
Even though I am not "recommending" this book - I did enjoy it. I figure, though, that if you're a Robert Parker reader, you're going to read it no matter what I say - and if you're not, then you need to start at the beginning of one of Parker's series, because after the first novel or so, he dispenses with any sort of character introduction or development - he assumes you already know who they are!

Two for the Road: Our Love Affair with American Food - Jane & Michael Stern
I love the "Roadfood" books and website. I enjoyed Jane's solo work, Ambulance Girl. I wanted to love this, too. I didn't. Parts of it were interesting, but I tend to become rapidly tired of any work where the author is trying to impress on me just how cool he/she is, how ahead of their time he/she is, etc.

Wedding Season - Darcy Cosper
Joy, who has declared that she will never marry, is set to attend 17 weddings in six short months.
I read a number of reviews which hailed this as a modern day Jane Austin novel, I didn't quite see that. It does seem to bear a debt to "Four Weddings and a Funeral" - however, with no funeral... I did enjoy this, and it was far more clever than I expected.

Goat: A Memoir - Brad Land
Land is brutally assaulted when his car is stolen. He then goes to Clemson University and pledges a fraternity. Tough to say which is more horrific. He has a very interesting story to tell, but has chooses to tell it in a very stylized and self-conscious voice - which detracts, and distracts, from his story's inherent strength.

Chew On This: Everything You Don't Want to Know About Fast Food - Eric Schlosser
Schlosser simplifies the message of his best-selling "Fast Food Nation" for the tween and teen sets. He does a great job of simplifying without dumbing down. This should be required reading for every middle-school student in America. And if you couldn't stomach (no pun intended) "Fast Food Nation", you, too, need to read this book. It's that important....

Runaway Heart - Stephen J. Cannell
Cannell introduces a new protagonist, a fledgling PI in Los Angeles, in this thriller. There was way too much science fiction-y stuff and conspiracy theories for my taste: "It's all about Area 51! And aliens! And using genetic engineering to create a new species of super soldier!" Please....

User ID - Jenefer Shute
Vera, a middle-aged ESL assistant professor from NYC has her identity stolen by Charlene, who sells discount cosmetics at a drugstore in L.A. Each woman seems to think that her life would be better if only she were living the life of the other. They're both wrong. Neither of these characters is likeable or sympathetic. Which makes for a long book....

Princess in the Spotlight - Meg Cabot
So, it's a guilty pleasure. I love the Mia Thermopolis books...

Swapping Lives - Jane Green
I typically enjoy Jane Green's books, but this one was a bit of a disappointment. It's not a bad book, it's just not as fun or as fresh as her others. The story - two fabulous women with seemingly-perfect lives (one married, one single) decide to swap lives and see if the grass really is greener - seemed like one I had already read a half-dozen times before. It was all just a little too familiar and predictable.

The Little Lady Agency - Hester Browne
It's not that this is the most original story either - girl is hired to pretend to be HandsomeMan's girlfriend, girl falls for HandsomeMan, hilarity and misunderstandings ensue, along with some big time family dysfunction - but the writing style was fun and breezy, and I enjoyed this book far more than the previous one.

Glamorous Disasters - Eliot Schrefer
Just as I get tired with authors who want to beat me about the head and neck with how cool they are, rather than allowing me to discover it on my own (see "Two For The Road", above), I also tire very easily with books about disenchanted, disenfranchised youths. (Unless it's done well. Really well. J.D. Salinger-well!) So I was taken aback at just how much I enjoyed this book...
Noah is suffering a quarter-life crisis as he serves as an SAT tutor to the over-privileged children of Fifth Avenue (the eponymous "Glamorous Disasters".) Numerous books of late have documented these types of families - The Nanny Diaries, The Devil Wears Prada amongst them. Schrefer goes far deeper than the superficial stereotypes of these other works, however. This was a very compelling and strong debut...

*Just so you know, I have no affiliation with Amazon whatsoever. I do often link there just because it is so easily accessible to everyone, it's got all my books in one place, and it pretty consistently loads quickly. However, I do strongly encourage you to support your local library, or your local independent bookseller!


capello said...

Dude. Do you speed read?

jennifer said...

ok i FINALLY finished time travelr's wife. you have now read 87 books in that time. i've moved on to under the banner of heaven by krakour or however you spell his name!

bekka said...

wow. that's a lot of books. have you read scarlett thomas's book popco? i'll try to get it back from my sister, who probably has not read it, if you'd like, and i'll send it to you. verrrry interesting. i had a ST spell where i red through all her stuff. i enjoy that mystery series.

read goat that you mentioned. was not in love with it.

the other look good too!

The Caretaker said...

Have you heard about "American Bee"?