Safe Haven – Nicholas Sparks

ImageBefore I talk about my most recent book, I just wanted to briefly say that I read “Fifty Shades of Grey” and let’s just say — curiosity killed the cat. Read if you dare but do heed the warnings on the back cover. They are not kidding…

Anyway, after finishing 50 Shades, I listened to Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks while traveling recently. I was a devotee to Nicholas Sparks in my younger years, mainly because I was a young adolescent interested in love stories and also because the settings of many of his books took place in the regions of North Carolina where I had spent much of my childhood. I adored reading about two characters who were falling in love and taking walks on the pier where I grew up taking walks and learning how to fish.

However, as I got older I realized his books all followed a basic formula and that it wasn’t necessary the “quality” writing that a future English major might pursue. But, the fact remains that a good love story soothes the soul — and when you are a hormone-laden female that is always the case.

This story was particularly interesting because it was less about the Notebook-style romance and passion — and more about the reality/fear of abuse combined with loss and an examination of the resilient human spirit. I was honestly impressed with Sparks’ development as a writer and really enjoyed this story. I even found myself sitting in front of my house waiting for moments of suspense to be settled.

All in all, this was a good, quick read. It was an interesting story that was empowering for women and ended in a way that was a little weird, but also endearing.

Advertisements

Something Blue – Emily Giffin

If you are a regular follower on my blog for any reason, you know I read Something Borrowed and Love the One You’re With — both by Emily Giffin. I noted in both that Giffin seems to have an affinity for writing about stories involving cheating. Which immediately elicits images of Dolly Parton belting out Jolene…and makes me very angry…

Anyway, I didn’t even want to read Something Blue — the sequel to Something Borrowed — because I am so bothered by the affair route as a means to finding love. But, I finally decided to give it a try and breezed through it pretty quickly. Friends who have read the book told me I would change my mind about the main offender — Darcy.

If you have seen the movie adaptation of Something Borrowed, Darcy is played by Kate Hudson and the very thought of how she is portrayed makes my skin crawl. Selfish, shallow, completely egotistic — everything you could possibly hate in a girlfriend.

Something Borrowed is written from the perspective of Rachel, the beloved character who falls in love with Darcy’s fiance, Dexter. Something Blue is told from Darcy’s perspective and though I gritted my teeth and rolled my eyes enough to have a headache the next morning when her early exploits and justifications are described in the book…turns out my friends were right. But only because Darcy has a transformation.

The book was interesting for sure — and I won’t lie in saying that the description of Darcy’s misfortunes didn’t gave me pleasure for a while, because they certainly did. The story ready like watching a movie very slowly, and that kind of mindless reading is always fun.

All in all, the story was a decent chick lit read and I’ll probably even give Babyproof a try…

Kris Jenner and All Things Kardashian

So before you jump to any judgments about the title of this post, let me tell you one thing about myself. I am unabashedly and sometimes dangerously curious. I have been that way since I was little and I just want to know what is on the other side of that door…what happens when you touch the hot stove…and what is the deal with those Kardashians?

In all truth, I find them fascinating. I am reading The Tipping Point right now and to me, the Kardashian phenomena is a perfect example of an epidemic-style fame that has consumed pop culture — particularly the E! network. So, this curiosity led to a little exploration. It started with re-runs of Keeping up with the Kardashians to keep me company on the treadmills at the Y. Then a little Google research. And then, the book.

As you may recall if you pay attention to the Today Show or any sort of news genre that covers pop culture in some degree, Kim Kardashian had a huge wedding last year (that some irreverently called America’s “royal” wedding — YUCK) and then got divorced 72 days later. Her mother’s book conveniently came out roughly a week or two later. I ordered it shortly thereafter and breezed through it because I really think a fourth grader could have written a better book.

But, that was not the reason I picked it up, of course. So let me tell you a little bit about it…First of all, the Kardashian/OJ Simpson connection is fascinating. I was so young when that murder case was happening that there were many details I didn’t really know about — and hearing it again through Kris Jenner’s memory was really interesting. I still do not know how he was determined to not be guilty.

Second, Kris Jenner is very open about her infidelity to Robert Kardashian prior to her marriage to Bruce Jenner. It is interesting and revealing. As a reader, you appreciate her honesty and straightforwardness on the topic. I think it was the first time I actually considered what it might be like to be on the other side of an affair (if you have read my blog before, you know I consider that the unforgivable sin in a relationship).

And finally, the family is inconceivably self absorbed. Sure, we knew that, but reading about it in such detail takes it to a whole new level. I was disgusted with them and baffled by the coinciding statements of faith.

Ultimately, the book was pure trash — but I knew it would be from the beginning. I just wanted to see what all the fuss was about and how they came to be who they are today. So, unless you have similar tendencies, don’t waste your time. You can get all the information I gleaned from the book in a quick Wikipedia reference without suffering through some of the worst prose ever written.

Something Borrowed – Le Book by Emily Giffin

It being the Tuesday after the Fourth of July holiday, it seemed appropriate to write a review of Something Borrowed even though I finished it a couple of weeks ago. If you have read the story, you know that a portion of the plot takes place over the holiday weekend. But, if you also know me…you know that stories about infidelity just do not fly. I may have mentioned it before on this blog, but when I first saw the musical Camelot, I was furious about the affair between Lancelot and Gwenevere, even at the young age of 10.

All of that being said, when I saw the previews for the film adaptation of the story that included John Krasinski as one of the lead characters, I was curious to read the book and see what all the fuss was about. I don’t feel bad telling you that the plot revolves around an affair…well, multiple affairs…because it takes approximately 15 pages for that revelation to occur.

However, the thing that bugged me and made me so furious that I had to read something else in order to sleep at times, is that as readers we are supposed to feel sorry for the “other woman” sleeping with her best friend’s fiance. We are supposed to hear the saga of how the best friend (Darcy) has wronged our heroine since they were children and agree that she “deserves” the catch of the story, even if he is taken. And that just did not sit well with me. Even when the character of Darcy is impugned towards the end. Even when it all seems neatly wrapped up and tied with a perfect bow…

I do not buy it and I don’t like it. It teaches the young girls — because it is 13-16 year olds that are reading — that cheating is okay and sometimes it works out in your favor. It devalues integrity and loyalty and honesty for relationships. Now, I am not arguing that stories should teach a lesson by any means, but I was just annoyed that the popular chick lit of the day features characters wrapped up in affairs as the symbol and model of “good” love.

Now, I have heard that Something Blue (le sequel) is actually the side of the story from Darcy’s perspective and though I have it on my shelf, I am not sure if I can take going through the story again. However, I might need to let Darcy vet her arguments since I am an objective reader, after all…

So onto my recommendations…the story is well written, the pages turn quickly, but the plot is just not my cup of tea for a good chick lit read. I think Emily Giffin may like love stories that include affairs/temptation because one of the other books I reviewed on my blog, Love the One You’re With, included these themes as well. Maybe Emily Giffin is just not the author for me.

“Last Night at Chateau Marmont” – Lauren Weisberger

I have read three of Lauren Weisberger’s books and though she may not pen the Great American novel, she certainly knows how to capture the essence of pop culture–particularly that of high society, celebrities, and fashion. Best known for “Devil Wears Prada,” I think this book captured my attention even more than her most popular work. I ordered it on i-tunes before a long trip and though I did not have to go anywhere to acquire the book (i.e. crazy Woodruff Road traffic to find my way to Barnes and Noble), I will not be using i-tunes for book listening again.

<<Just a word to the wise, i-tunes audiobooks (at least this one) keep track of chapters in a weird way and I kept losing my place if stopped the story to listen to music — that is very frustrating when trying to follow a story! >>

Anyway, this was a story that absolutely changed my perspective on certain aspects of celebrity. The book tells the story of a struggling New York couple — Brooke and Julian Alter. Julian is an aspiring musician and Brooke is supporting his efforts to “make it big” through her two jobs as a dietitian. As you might guess, Julian does make it big and “Last Night at Chateau Marmont” basically tells the story of the way a young, normal couple handle the fame and international media attention associated with becoming a star.

Much of the focus of the story is the way the tabloids and media industry encroach on any possibility of a normal life. When I read about those parts of the story, I immediately chided myself for following certain unnamed entities on twitter and for even caring what stars actually have a little bit of cellulite and who is dating/breaking up with/cheating on whom. As I said before, I developed a strong feeling of sympathy for the celebrities in our world. They sacrifice privacy, genuine relationships, and sometimes even love to become famous. And that is sad to me.

As I was listening to the story and crossing my fingers that Julian would treat Brooke right, I became immediately thankful for my quiet life where I can go from place to place under most anyone’s radar. I also thought more about the way celebrities are forced by the public to essentially look perfect and beautiful all the time. What kind of pressure and what kind of life would that be?

In closing, this was a great little chick lit book and I would recommend it to any lady traveling or looking for a mindless book to get lost in for a while. It will make you think, though, and make you thankful for the simple lives we get to live.