"The Vienna Triangle" by Brenda Webster (found on 1st BOOKS: STORIES OF HOW WRITERS GET STARTED)
"The Last of Her Kind" by Sigrid Nunez (found on Everyday I Write the Book Blog)
"The Makedown" begins with memories of Anna Norton's life as an overweight, geeky, friendless teen and tales of her eccentric family. Anna decides to take drastic measures to change her fate and moves from her small town in Ohio to New York City. There she begins working in a catering business, where her boss becomes a personal mentor and health coach, forcing her to get in shape and helping her shed all her extra fat. Though not as glamorous or good-looking as the other women of Manhattan, Anna begins to gain some confidence and manages to attract the attention of a very handsome bachelor named Ben. Unfortunately, Anna is not the only one who admires Ben's good looks and she finds herself feeling insecure and jealous as other women constantly flirt with her boyfriend. One day Anna devises a plan to make Ben less attractive and therefore less competition for his attention - hence the makedown.
While I have to admit the book's plot sounds a little ridiculous, the execution is really well done and this book turned out to be even better than I thought! I love Gitty Daneshvari's writing style and her flawless choice of words. I also loved the humor in every situation, especially Anna's semi-delusional mother, whose personality merits another book all about her!
Throughout the beginning part of the book, I felt badly for Anna and the way the other kids tormented her. I really sympathized with her and wanted things to improve. Then once she lost the weight, I was relieved that she didn't magically transform into a beauty queen or become conceited. It was very realistic that Anna's insecurities did not disappear and dating the epitome of male perfection would inevitably bring the insecurities to the surface.
Surprisingly enough, even when Anna was fattening Ben up and putting Nair in his shampoo, I still loved her as a character. I thought Ben was way too stuck-up and in some ways deserved to see how it felt to be less than god-like in appearance. Of course the makedown doesn't go as planned and with time, Anna learns her lesson and is a better person because of her experiences.
My only complaint is that I wish the book didn't fast forward in the end because I would have loved to see what happened in between but I did think it was a good ending. This book was humorous and even witty at points, and certainly a lot of fun.
BIG THANKS to Miriam and Hachette Book Group for my review copy.
"She turned her back to me before I had even finished, which surprised me as I didn't expect to be rid of her so easily. From the way she had planted herself in our kitchen almost every afternoon until I had put a stop to it, she'd struck me as a single-minded girl, not easily discouraged."
- "The Price of Silence" by Camilla Trinchieri, page 131
BIG THANKS to Megan of Goldberg McDuffie Communications, Inc. for my review copy!
Since it's hard to summarize the plot in my own words, here is the book's description from the publisher, HarperCollins (plus it's one of the funniest book descriptions I've ever seen):
"A man of infinite jest, Pocket has been Lear's cherished fool for years, from the time the king's grown daughters—selfish, scheming Goneril, sadistic (but erotic-fantasy-grade-hot) Regan, and sweet, loyal Cordelia—were mere girls. So naturally Pocket is at his brainless, elderly liege's side when Lear—at the insidious urging of Edmund, the bastard (in every way imaginable) son of the Earl of Gloucester—demands that his kids swear their undying love and devotion before a collection of assembled guests. Of course Goneril and Regan are only too happy to brownnose Dad. But Cordelia believes that her father's request is kind of . . . well . . . stupid, and her blunt honesty ends up costing her her rightful share of the kingdom and earns her a banishment to boot.
Well, now the bangers and mash have really hit the fan. The whole damn country's about to go to hell in a handbasket because of a stubborn old fart's wounded pride. And the only person who can possibly make things right . . . is Pocket, a small and slight clown with a biting sense of humor. He's already managed to sidestep catastrophe (and the vengeful blades of many an offended nobleman) on numerous occasions, using his razor-sharp mind, rapier wit . . . and the equally well-honed daggers he keeps conveniently hidden behind his back. Now he's going to have to do some very fancy maneuvering—cast some spells, incite a few assassinations, start a war or two (the usual stuff)—to get Cordelia back into Daddy Lear's good graces, to derail the fiendish power plays of Cordelia's twisted sisters, to rescue his gigantic, gigantically dim, and always randy friend and apprentice fool, Drool, from repeated beatings . . . and to shag every lusciously shaggable wench who's amenable to shagging along the way.
Pocket may be a fool . . . but he's definitely not an idiot. "
Let me start off by saying that I am a huge Christopher Moore fan and in that respect I may be a little biased. However, I tried by best to separate my admiration for his writing and judge "Fool" as a single book of its own merit. Also, I usually try to avoid books with vulgar language and explicit material but Moore's writing is so incredibly witty and hilarious that I completely forgive him (although not everyone necessarily will).
For devoted fans, newcomers or anyone in between, the humor in "Fool" DOES NOT disappoint. The depths of Moore's delightfully wicked imagination seem to know no bounds. Moore did a great deal of research when writing this book and perfectly nails the essence of British humor and all of their colloquialisms (while making up a few of his own). I continue to be amazed by the brilliant way Moore uses insane metaphors and imagery to inspire laughter.
I loved the quirky characters and most of all the Pocket, the fool himself, for actually teaching us not to judge others by their titles because one's standing can change with the drop of a hat (or a codpiece).
It's hard to explain exactly why Moore is a such a comedic genius. The only way to truly understand is to find out for yourselves! "Fool" was just released, so go out and get a copy right away!!
BIG THANKS to Deanna and HarperCollins Canada for my review copy!
"Broken Bulbs" is a really interesting and certainly unique little novel. It is the kind of read that will leave you thinking about its message and implications long after you've finished it. Some parts were really confusing and I wasn't sure what to make of them but overall I was pretty intrigued. While I realize this story was intended as a novella, I really wish it could've been longer and perhaps more fully developed. Nonetheless, Eddie Wright is a talented writer who clearly has a vivid imagination and it was probably his intention to end the book with unanswered questions.
BIG THANKS to Eddie for sending me a review copy.
There are so many reasons why I adored this book. The most obvious one being Tiffany Baker's beautiful and eloquent writing. She has a real talent for conveying her meaning through metaphor and I often stopped to re-read certain passages out of admiration. It's astounding to me that this is Tiffany Baker's first novel, as her writing has the maturity of an experienced author.
The storyline itself is also as imaginative and well-crafted as they come, which also amazed me that it's written by a first-time novelist. Each character in this book is almost an exaggeration of themselves, and yet there is something so human and relatable about them.
I also loved the mystical and magical elements of the story, which added a unique quality to the plot and made it even more interesting.
I don't want to spoil too much about the book because yes, it is that good and I want others to read it and see for themselves why it is worthy of all the praise it is receiving! Needless to say, this book has quickly risen to the top of my list of favorite books. It is not one that everyone will necessarily fall in love with, but it is one that I felt an immediate connection with and will recommend to anyone in search of a true gem of a book.
For more of Tiffany Baker (and to read the story of how she got published and other amusing anecdotes) be sure to visit The Debutante Ball . It is also a great 'grog' (group blog) to check out because it is filled with other future literary talents, all of whom are releasing their first novels (so the members change each year).