Archive for February, 2013

20
Feb
13

Scootsa1000’s #CBR5 Review 6: Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

UnknownI was always a big fan of Gilmore Girls (and now a big fan of Bunheads. Seriously — stupid name, great show). When I had my third kid a few years ago (who was actually named Lorelei, and I swear, it has NOTHING to do with GG, but more because of a song by the Pogues) and I was up late at night with the baby, I re-watched the entire series on DVD. And what I noticed this time around was that Lauren Graham was kind of a genius in the way she brought Lorelai to life. So when I heard that Graham had a novel coming out — and knowing that her background was in English and Literature — I had high expectations.

And honestly, I wasn’t disappointed.

Someday, Someday, Maybe could be pigeonholed by some as being “chick lit”. But I hate that term, so I’ll just say that this is light, refreshing fiction, with a feminine viewpoint to it. Nothing fancy, but well done and enjoyable.

SSM tells the tale of Franny Banks, an actress struggling to make it in NYC in the mid-1990s. She’s given herself a deadline, and told herself that if she hasn’t had a break by that date, to pack it up and head back home. If she hasn’t done something with acting in three years, it probably isn’t going to happen. Franny has her ups and downs both professionally and personally — but she gets herself a supercool agent, and starts dating a handsome actor, and it looks like things are finally going her way. But of course, the reader knows that maybe Franny might be better off with a different agent, or a different guy…

A few things I really enjoyed about the book:

I LOVED that it took place in 1995. Before cell phones and texting, before knowing what everyone else was doing and where they were at every second of the day. Franny used pay phones and had an answering machine. Also, Franny lives in Park Slope BEFORE it was the cool place to live, and talks about how some of the neighborhoods were dangerous, but the apartments were cheap!

I really liked the insight (obviously, some of this must come from Graham’s experiences at the time) into making it as an actress. Franny struggles to make rent payments, has to work horrible jobs wearing a hairnet, and yet stays dedicated to acting.

I also liked that at the end, although it looks like things are finally on the right track for Franny, her life isn’t perfect and she still has things to figure out.

Lastly, I loved that the book took place in New York and that none of the characters worked in publishing. Doesn’t it always seem like every single fictional female character in NYC works at a magazine? Argh.

I enjoyed reading Someday, Someday, Maybe and hope that Graham continues to write. She has a strong voice and her sense of humor really shines here. I also enjoyed reading the book picturing a 1990’s Graham (maybe circa NewsRadio) as Franny, with a Spin City-era Connie Britton as her best friend/roommate Jane, and maybe big Craig Bierko as Dan, the giant male roommate. That definitely made it more fun for me.

If you are a fan of Graham, or are just looking for a pleasant way to spend a few hours, I definitely recommend Someday, Someday, Maybe.

I should note that I received an advance copy of this lovely little book from NetGalley.

15
Feb
13

Scootsa1000’s #CBR5 Review 5: Cinderella’s Secret Diary (Book 1: Lost) by Ron Vitale

UnknownAs many before me have mentioned, willing members of the CBR5 were lucky enough to receive free copies of Ron Vitale’s two books about Cinderella and the life she experienced after the ball.

Vitale’s story starts off with an interesting premise: what if Cinderella wasn’t actually living happily ever after? What if the Prince was actually a philandering brute who didn’t love Cinderella at all? What if the Royal Family was only putting up with Cinderella in their lives so that she could produce an heir? Cinderella talks about all of this — and much more — in her daily journal entries, which start off as letters to her Fairy Godmother, who’s help she could use once again.

The story then takes a bit of a left-turn, as Cinderella goes to France and meets another man. She has an affair of her own, and becomes pregnant. Still interesting…having had enough of being treated like garbage by her husband, she enjoys the attentions of a young, handsome Frenchman. When Cinderella is told (by the local witch, who Cinderella was sent to see for help with her fertility) that she is carrying Henri’s baby, she decides to sever ties with the Royal Family and try to make it on her own…with only the assistance of the witch. And this is where the story lost me for good.

Vitale then changes the entire plot to be about magic. Cinderella’s magic, her late mother’s magic, the witch’s magic, her Fairy Godmother (who isn’t exactly as she seems), and the world of Dark Faerie Magic. The two plots simply didn’t seem to work together, in my opinion. I would have preferred to read about Cinderella living on her own, raising a child OR to read a story about dark magic and faeries. Not both together.

There has been lots of discussion on the CBR pages about the quality of the writing in this story. As a former editor (mostly non-fiction), my issue was more with the editing (or the lack thereof). The same words and phrases were repeated constantly, there was often a lack of continuity in the story (Cinderella couldn’t get her glass slippers off no matter how hard she tried, and on the next page, she’s wearing boots, etc…). A careful and thorough edit — even if it meant cutting huge chunks out of the story — would have improved the reading experience for me. I’m not interested in critiquing the writing. I’m not an author, and can only dream of being able to actually write  a book. But I feel comfortable saying that a new editor might change these books for the better.

I’ll admit that I am not the target audience for this story. I’d be interested to know what a younger reader, maybe someone a bit more open to a Twilight-esque story, might think.

14
Feb
13

for no reason whatsoever

 

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I miss Jimmy James.

 

 

 

08
Feb
13

Calzones

chris-dead-1

05
Feb
13

This is Why

Last season, I was somewhat indifferent to Bunheads, the successor to my beloved Gilmore Girls. But this season something has changed for the better, and now I’m looking forward to it more than most other shows every week. Loved the casting of Sutton Foster’s actual brother as her character’s brother. And then this:

 

And don’t even get me started on this week’s episode, with the amazing cold open directed by Chris Eigeman. So cool.

03
Feb
13

Scootsa1000’s #CBR5 Review 4: Defending Jacob by William Landay

Unknown-1Yesterday, I had the good fortune to be able to go and see one of my favorite authors (Ian Rankin) speak at a local bookstore. Rankin talked mostly about his Inspector Rebus books, but also a bit about the genre of crime and detective fiction and the small “band of outlaws” that make a living writing crime novels. Several fans took the opportunity to ask questions about Rebus and the city of Edinburgh. (Side rant: MANY folks in the audience took the Q&A time as an opportunity to CRITIQUE Rankin, his writing, and his books, and talk about what personally irks them in the books. Seriously, if one of your favorite authors is coming to give a FREE talk, how about COMPLIMENTS only? Annoying. End of rant.). One interesting thing that Rankin talked about (after being chastised by an audience member for his errors) was the two Edinburghs in his books — the real city that he loves, with Arthur’s Seat and the Oxford Bar, and the dark, fictional city where the bulk of the crime in his novels happens. Rankin feels that its OK to use real places for the most part, but if he’s going to write about a terrible crime or a horrible part of the city, its best not to use actual names and locations so that locals don’t feel slighted or insulted.

This tidbit made me think of Defending Jacob, which I read a few weeks ago. Defending Jacob takes place in Newton, MA — my hometown.

Defending Jacob tells the story of Andy Barber, assistant DA in Middlesex County (Boston area and surrounding suburbs, including Newton), who is assigned the case of the brutal murder of a local teenager in a park. Some think maybe its a conflict of interest for Andy to take the case — the victim and his son went to the same junior high — but Andy promises he can be take the case and treat it fairly. Until…his own son is arrested for the murder and Andy is removed from the case.

And then the story follows what its like for Andy to be on the other side of the law for once. How the rest of the world turns against you, even if you might not be guilty, and just how far a parent will go to protect their child.

I’m not going to lie — I found this book tough to get through at times. As a parent, it contains all your worst nightmares. But Landay is a talented writer, and he makes the story so compelling, you have to get to the end to find out exactly what happens. And then you’ll have to sit for a few minutes to digest it all, because it isn’t pleasant for sure.

Its obvious to me that Landay has spent some time in Newton. His descriptions of the obnoxious Whole Foods market smack in the center of town made me laugh out loud. He has no love for the ugly and depressing Middlesex County Courthouse, where I’ve served as a juror. Yuck. And he chose to have the murder take place in the once lovely (and now overbuilt) park that was practically in my backyard (in fact, I’m pretty sure I can pinpoint exactly where the murder takes place, just steps from the front door of the house I grew up in!). But other than that, Newton is completely fictionalized. It seems that Landay went the route opposite of Ian Rankin — he fictionalized the bulk of Newton and its surroundings, yet kept the places that annoy and bother him. I guess Landay really has a bone to pick with Whole Foods.

 

02
Feb
13

Bunnybean’s #CBR5 Review 1: Fudge-A-Mania by Judy Blume

UnknownI just read Fudge-A-Mania, the third book (first is Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, and then SuperFudge) about Peter Hatcher, his unique little brother Fudge, and the rest of his family (mom, dad, baby sister Tootsie, and Fudge’s crazy bird Uncle Feather). The Hatchers live in New York City, in the same building as Peter’s nemesis, Sheila Tubman (from Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great).

The Hatcher family decides to go on vacation for the summer and they rent out a huge house in Maine. The house is so big that they get some friends to rent it out with them…and it turns out that they are sharing the house with the Tubmans! Peter and Sheila are not too glad about that.

Things get even worse for Peter and Sheila when Peter’s grandmother meets Sheila’s grandfather. They fall in love and get married right there at the summer house. And now Peter and Sheila are sort of related, but they promise each other that they will still hate each other.

Some other fun things happen. Fudge meets a new friend, Peter meets one of his baseball heroes, and Tootsie gives Jimmy Fargo’s dad (who is an important and famous artist) some ideas for his new art.

I liked this book. Fudge is pretty funny, and the parts where Peter and Sheila argue were funny, too.




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