Tuesday, December 30, 2014

I Heart Hollywood Book Review

I Heart Hollywood by Lindsey Kelk

Click here for the Amazon product page.


Celebs, sunshine and beautiful boys...enough to lead a girl astray?

Angela Clark can't believe her luck. She's an English girl living in New York with a dream job at a hip magazine, The Look, and a sexy boyfriend. Her latest assignment takes her to Hollywood to interview hot actor and fellow Brit James Jacobs. Thrown in at the deep end, she heads west with best friend Jenny, dreaming of Rodeo Drive and Malibu beach. Soon Angela discovers that celebrity life in Hollywood is not all glamour, gloss and sunshine. Despite his lady-killer reputation, the only person who seems genuine is James. Then a paparazzi snaps them in an uncompromising position and suddenly Angela is thrust into the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

Can she convince all those close to her - especially her boss and her boyfriend - not to believe everything they read? And will Hollywood ever win Angela's heart?

Review by Brittany:

This is the second in the "I Heart" series by this author. This book is a UK import as she is published in the UK and not in the US.

Even though this is a second installment, it is not necessary for the first to be read before this one is. It may enhance the reading experience, but the author does enough of a recap in this second book to cover all necessary bases.

My largest disappointment with this book was actually the character of Jenny Lopez, which is surprising because she seems to be a fan favorite and was a great character in the first novel. She is Angela's best friend, but I thought she was the worst character in the book. She was extremely temperamental with everyone, especially Angela, and she came across as being quite selfish. Angela and Jenny have many confrontations throughout the book, and each time I found myself getting more and more frustrated with Jenny. I also can't understand why Angela puts up with Jenny. I found the entire friendship frustrating and I don't understand why they are friends.

That being said, the other characters in the book are great. Angela is a bit of an airhead and makes some bad choices, but she is lovable anyway. She is funny and humble and endearing, despite the fact that there were many times when I just wanted to shake her. Her boyfriend, Alex, is less developed in this novel, which is one reason why reading the first would enhance this one. I could see why she cares for him, but I don't think his charm came through as well in this one. The Hollywood star of the novel, James Jacobs, spends most of the book seeming just that little bit too good to be true. In the end, he is shown to be human like the rest of us, which I really appreciated.

I enjoyed reading about the different hot spots in LA and the experiences Angela had. There was a bit too much partying and drinking for my taste, but that's only a personal preference. Overall I thought the book was pretty cute. I just hope that, throughout the series, Jenny's character will get some redeeming qualities.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Time of My Life Book Review

The Time of My Life by Cecelia Ahern

Click here for the Amazon product page.
Click here for the Barnes and Noble page.
Click here for the Books-a-Million page.


Lucy Silchester keeps receiving this strange appointment card and sweeping its gold embossed envelope under the rug. Literally. She busies herself with a job she doesn't like, helping out friends, fixing her car, feeding her cat, and devoting her time to her family's dramas. But Lucy is about to find out that this is one appointment she can't miss, when Life shows up at her door, in the form of a sloppy but determined man.

Life follows her everywhere - from the office, to the bar, and to her bedroom - and Lucy learns that some of the choices she has made and the stories she has told aren't what they seem. Now her half-truths are about to be revealed, unless Lucy tells the truth about what really matters to her.

Review by Brittany:

This author is one who always writes stories that have a little element of magic to them. This book has Life, a person who solely exists to document your life and can help you out if you let your life get out of control. I love the idea of this person who you can talk things through with to help you figure yourself out.

My favorite thing about this book is the characterization. Lucy, the main character, feels like a person. She tells white lies that lead her to tell more white lies, until no one knows how she is really feeling or what is really going on in her life. She got her job under slightly false pretenses, and her whole life is a bit of a sham. But she also banters with a new friend, develops a relationship with Life, and forms a rocky sort of relationship with her neighbor. She is very much like a real person, and I love that.

Life was an interesting character because he is a person, but his whole life revolves around Lucy's life. It's a strange concept. His appearance at the beginning of the book is a bit bedraggled, as is Lucy's life, but as the story progresses and Lucy's life improves, so does the appearance of Life. This is a neat little detail that adds some characterization to Life.

I thought this book was definitely worth reading. The slightly magical elements to it add something fresh, but the basis of the story is about changing your life for the better, something I think we can all relate to. Ahern makes her characters believable and relatable, while also telling a good story. Even if you don't pick up this book, she's an author worth reading.

Notable quotes:

You never forget about things you've done that you know you shouldn't have done.

I wanted to just stop for a while. I wanted to stop doing things and stop moving. I just wanted to be on my own.

And older people are like babies; something about their demeanor makes you love them despite their ignorant selfish personalities.

I knew something monumental was happening. I was doing something that needed to be done and I felt the burden of it every step of the way.

Our lives all crash and collide and you think there's no reason or rhyme to it?

There is an outcome, repercussions and occurrences to everybody you meet and everything you say.

...that's what people do, they're mostly polite, even when they're feeling rude inside.

...life has a way of getting what it wants when it really knows what it wants.

I thought about it some more, thought about my dreams, my wishes, my ambitions, where I wanted to be that would make me feel better than being here. I couldn't come up with anything.

But then I'd changed and the things he'd loved about me were gone and then so was his love.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Juliet, Naked Book Review

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby

Click here for the Amazon product page.
Click here for the Barnes and Noble product page.
Click here for the Books-a-Million product page.


In a dreary seaside town in England, Annie loves Duncan - or thinks she does, because she always has. Duncan loves Annie, but then, all of a sudden, he doesn't anymore. So Annie stops loving Duncan, and starts getting her own life.

She sparks an e-mail correspondence with Tucker Crowe, a reclusive Dylanesque singer-songwriter who stopped making music twenty-two years ago, and who is also Duncan's greatest obsession. A surprising connection is forged between two lonely people who are looking for more out of what they've got. Tucker's been languishing (and he's unnervingly aware of it), living in rural Pennsylvania with what he sees as his one hope for redemption amid a life of emotional, familial, and artistic ruin - his young son, Jackson. But then there's also the material he's about to release to the world, an acoustic, stripped-down version of his greatest album, Juliet, titled Juliet, Naked. And he's just been summoned across the Atlantic with Jackson to face his multitude of ex-wives and children (both just discovered and formerly neglected), in the same country where his intriguing new Internet friend resides.

What happens when a washed-up musician looks for another chance? And miles away, a restless, childless woman looks for a change? Juliet, Naked is a powerfully engrossing, humblingly humorous novel about music, love, loneliness, and the struggle to live up to one's promise.

Review by Brittany:

This is a book about music. Except really it isn't. It's more about the musician and the ways in which life doesn't go the way you expect, even if you're semi-famous. And it's also about not being a musician and how life doesn't go the way you expect it to.

One skill of Hornby's is his ability to show the dreariest sides of relationships. He did this in High Fidelity and he does this again in this novel. Annie and Duncan have been floating along, staying together more out of convenience than for any other reason. Duncan jumps at the first opportunity to stray, and Annie realizes that maybe Duncan isn't worth keeping around, no matter how much he apologizes.

The relationship between Tucker and Annie is fragile at best, and the development of it is interesting. They mostly use email as a way to correspond and start developing something, no matter how impractical the relationship is. When he travels to England from the US, he meets with her in person. They are able to communicate in the same fashion as they did during email, building some type of relationship. The whole thing is impractical, however, because Tucker is married, lives in another country, and has a son with his wife.

Tucker is also a character with few redeeming qualities. He disappeared from the music scene, leaving more and more abandoned children and hurt ex-wives behind him. He has no money, no inspiration to write music or to sing again, and no desire to really be back on the music scene. He is just existing. His one real redeeming quality is his love for his youngest son Jackson, the one child he interacts with and has truly attempted to raise.

So if the characters aren't redeemable and the relationships are doomed, why is this a good book? Because Hornby writes it the best. He makes these characters lovable - or relatable or believable, at the very least - and gives the relationships bursts of promise, even if the majority of it is not promising at all.

The end of the book did leave me feeling a bit incomplete. I feel like there were loose ends that I would like to have tied up, but in leaving those ends loose, I think Hornby has actually told me everything I need to know.

This book isn't a happy book, but it's also not a depressing book. It just is. And this book does what it does in the best possible way. I would definitely recommend it.

Notable quotes:

But she could see now that a lot of resentment had been locked into her somewhere, and it was busy, restless stuff, roaming around looking for the tiniest open window.

Not being married to him was becoming every bit as irritating as she imagined marriage to him might be.

We get together with people because they're the same or because they're different, and in the end we split with them for exactly the same reasons.

There was an awful lot to be said for familiarity, if you thought about it. It was an extremely underrated virtue, ignorable until the very moment that you were in danger of losing whatever or whoever it was that was familiar - a house, a view, a partner.

It was hopeless, life, really. It was set up all wrong.

She had to defend him in order to defend herself. That was why people were so prickly about their partners, even their ex-partners.

It was an illness, loneliness - it made you weak, gullible, feeble-minded.

The trouble was, she couldn't help but be boring and bland and sensible and good.

But then, that was the trouble with relationships generally. They had their own temperature, and there was no thermostat.

Tucker accepted completely that women were the fairer and wiser sex, but they were also irredeemably vicious when the occasion demanded.

She was trying to say something else; she was trying to say that the inability to articulate what one feels in any satisfactory way is one of our enduring tragedies.

The truth about life was that nothing ever ended until you died, and even then you just left a whole bunch of unresolved narratives behind you.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Baby Proof Book Review

Baby Proof by Emily Giffin

Click here for the Amazon page.
Click here for the Barnes and Noble page.
Click here for the Books-a-Million page.


First comes love. Then comes marriage. Then comes...a baby carriage? Isn't that what all women want?

Not so for Claudia Parr. And just as she gives up on finding a man who feels the same way, she meets warm, wonderful Ben. Things seem too good to be true when they fall in love and agree to buck tradition with a satisfying, child-free marriage. Then the unexpected occurs: one of them has a change of heart. One of them wants children after all.

This is the witty, heartfelt story about what happens to the perfect couple when they suddenly want different things. It's about feeling that your life is set and then realizing that nothing is as you thought it was - and that there is no possible compromise. It's about deciding what is most important in life, and taking chances to get it. But most of all, it's about the things we will do - and won't do - for love.

Review by Brittany:

As a fan of Giffin, I knew when I picked this book up that it would be one that would interest me and that I would enjoy. Giffin has a way of writing that draws you in from the first page and keeps you hooked all the way through, and this book was no different.

I could totally relate to Claudia. As a woman who is unsure of whether or not I want children, I could relate to her on a level that I often can't in books, which helped make this book a winner for me. Claudia has dedicated herself to the idea that she will not have children, so the idea that her husband might want children throws her for a loop.

One thing that surprised me about this book is that the events happened extremely fast. The synopsis is what happens within the first few chapters, so there's a whole lot of story that comes after. Claudia and Ben cannot agree on what is best for them - a life with children or a life without - and they separate because of it. This sends Claudia on a path of trying to figure out how to live her life without Ben, the love of her life, which is really where the meat of the book happens.

I also thought it was interesting that Claudia's sisters are women with vastly different feelings about children than Claudia. They end up being extremely important characters to the development of Claudia's story and to the events with Claudia and Ben's relationship. While they were only supporting characters, Giffin wrote them in such a way that they played a large part.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. There were times when I wanted to shake the characters for being stupid or weep along with them during troubling times or laugh along, all of which are important elements in any book. Giffin is an author who knows how to write good characters and a good story, so I will continue to read what she writes.

Notable quotes:

After all, most people - women and men - view not wanting kids as a deal breaker. At the very least, I risked coming across as cold and selfish, two traits that don't top the list of "what every man wants".

Fleeting references to our history had been made up to that point, and I was well aware that we were both silently making those inevitable comparisons, putting our relationship in context. She is more this and less of that. He is better or worse in these ways. It is human nature to do this - unless it's your first relationship, which might be the very reason that your first relationship feels special and remains forever sacred.

The person who loved me like this was the person I loved back - which can feel like an absolute miracle. It is an absolute miracle.

I have often heard her say that the biggest decision a woman can make in life is not who to marry but who should be the father of her children. "You can't undo it," she says. "It bonds you for life."

Everyone has a messed-up family - to one extent or another - but we all have an obligation to rise above it.

I can't possibly fathom how another woman feels when I don't want to be a mother myself. After all, what kind of a woman doesn't want to be a mother?

I realize it's mighty difficult to act normal when someone else is behaving oddly.

It strikes me that she is the sort of person who, if you are unfortunate enough to fall for, you might never be able to stop loving.

I don't know whether I will ever overcome my fears of motherhood. Whether I will someday be a mother. Whether I am capable of being a good one.