Monday, December 28, 2009

Pretty in Plaid by Jen Lancaster

I fell in love with Jen Lancaster when our former Book Blub (somebody kept misspelling "club" in the emails and it stuck!) picked Bitter is the New Black as out first ever book. No one had ever heard of her or the book, but after falling in love with the cover and read the back, it was the only one we unanimously chose!

If you have never read her, she is quick witted and very funny. She uses little footnotes throughout the book to add a pop of extra humor throughout her stories (the footnnotes are H-I-larious so don't skip them.

I have read all of her books:
Bitter is the New Black
Bright Lights Big Ass
Such a Pretty Fat

and now

Pretty in Plaid

I liked this book. It takes you through Jen's childhood, college, and early twenties. Each chapter is focused around a different item of clothing. My favorite stories revolved around her girl scout sash, her jean jacket and designer bag envy in her sorority stories and the navy blue suit she gets for her entrance to the corporate world.

You get to hear stories of how Jen overcomes being an outsider in Cow Town, stories about sorority rush (I loved these since I was rush chair of my sorority and remember doing dress checks etc. We were even more strict than she was!), and her first few years as a working girl (it made me feel better that she had quite a few broke years when she first started out too!)

It's a good book as all Jen Lancaster books are, but Bitter is the New Black is still my favorite.

I give this one 4 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

This was my first foray into Christian Fiction. I had it sitting on my bookshelf for a while, but it just didn't appeal to me based on the cover. Well, it's true, don't judge a book by it's cover!

Redeeming Love is the story of Angel...or Amanda or Tirzah or Sarah depending on which point in the story you are. It takes place during the California Gold Rush. Angel is a prostitute in a town in California when Micheal Hosea sees her in the street and is determined to make her his wife. Quite an unlikely scenario given he is a good Christian farmer and she lives in a brothel.

The story takes you back and shows you how Angel ended up where she is. She had a horrific childhood that I just can't imagine. But Angel does not give up this life easily. She is determined at first that all she is is a prostitute. She runs away from Michael's farm multiple times. She causes a rift between Michael and his brother-in-law. Her heart is hardened and she is determined to not let anyone in.

Michael loves her and stands by her and rescues her time and time again despite her resistance towards him. It is a great story that is reflective of the kind of love everyone is searching for. The kind of love that doesn't judge and accepts you completely.

It is a great story with lots of twists and turns along the way. At some points I found myself frustrated because I thought their love for each other was too much. But the story sucks you in and just when you think things are getting wrapped up, the author throws another twist in there.

I highly recommend this book even if you aren't a Christian. I don't think it is too "preachy" and either way it is a great story that is sure to get you hooked.

I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Lottery: and Other Short Stories by Shirley Jackson

This was an interesting book of short stories by Shirley Jackson. You might have read The Lottery in high school English (I remember having to study that story). If you haven't read it- spoiler alret- stop reading. It is the story of this village that holds a lottery. The twist is the "winner" of the lottery gets stoned to death by the other villagers. It is really disturbing.

This book reminded me of other weird "classics" like The Bell Jar and Catcher in the Rye. The little stories are like car just can't look away and after it is over you are kind of like what the heck?

One story tells about a little boy who starts kindergarten and everyday when his parents ask him about school, he tells them stories about a terribly misbehaved boy in his class named "Charles". When the mother goes to the Parent-Teacher conference she asks about Charles. Turns out there is no "Charles" in the class.

Another story tells about about a woman who befriends a new neighbor that moves in the cottage down the street. She suddenly stops being friends with her when she hires a black man to tend her garden.

Then there is a story about a boy on a train who is told an awful story by a man about how the man killed his wife.

I think there are 24 stories in all in the book and they are each a few pages long, so they were good to read a couple before bed each night.

They were all somewhat disturbing, but in a good way? if that's possible? The kind of stories that stick with you and make you think.

I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult

I LOVED this book! You probably know Jodi Picoult as the author of My Sister’s Keeper. It was the first of her books that I read and I was hesitant to read any others because I thought they would never live up to My Sister’s Keeper. With that book I couldn’t stop reading because of all the emotional drama and cried my eyes out. With this one I couldn’t stop reading because I was enthralled with learning more about the Amish culture and I just had to figure out the truth!

The book tells the story of a dead infant found on an Amish farm and the big city attorney that immerses herself in the community as she defends her young unmarried Amish client against murder charges. Her client is determined to be the infant’s mother and the investigators say the child was not a stillborn and was most likely smothered to death. But as you learn more and more about the Amish beliefs and values the more impossible it seems that an Amish girl would be capable of doing something like that. So what is the truth?

Ellie, the big city attorney, doesn’t even want to take on the case at first and ends up having to move in with the Fisher family as part of Katie’s bail agreement. She gets a first hand look at the Amish lifestyle and their values as she tries not only to come up with a defense for her client but comes closer and closer to the truth of what really happened.

There are so many twists and turns as more and more pieces of the story are revealed. I loved learning more about the Amish and how for them community and fitting in are everything. They just want to live a good Christian life and fit in with the rest of the community and serving each other. I loved piecing the clues together to try to figure out where Katie’s baby came from, what happened to it, and where her life would go after the trial. It was great. I am officially a Picoult fan now!

Another 5 out of 5 stars for Picoult!
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