Tag Archives: books for women

Book Review: “Bossypants”

Well, I missed my introduction post again – I am not doing too well keeping you all updated with the reading of the week! Sorry! This week we segued from March’s “Month of Women” into April’s “Month of Humor,” so to meet both requirements, I picked up a book by a woman (Tina Fey), about a woman (Tina Fey), which promised to be pretty hilarious (because… you know… Tina Fey).

This week’s read was Bossypants by (you guessed it) Tina Fey.

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I have been a Tina Fey fan for over 10 years, when I realized she was the writer of Mean Girls. As much as we all hate to admit it in 2014, the 2004 film was comedy gold – especially if you were a high school senior like I was. I am also a diehard fan of 30 Rock, Fey’s NBC show in which she acted, produced, and wrote. There’s also the little fact that she was a writer and actor on Saturday Night Live. So when I needed to find a “humor” book by a female author, Bossypants was the obvious choice.

Man, am I happy I picked this book. Fey is nothing short of hilarious. Her book serves as a sort of autobiography, riddled with entertaining stories from her childhood, through adolescence (there’s quite the story about how her mom handled her getting her first period), through her “starving artist” days, into a successful career, and up to parenthood. She touches on everything from being a woman in a stereotypically man’s world (comedy), to body issues, to parenting a toddler… all three things I can relate to (being a woman in a man’s world through the military, not through comedy… obviously). Fey writes honestly, and says the things most of us are thinking but refuse to say out loud.

I literally laughed out loud at least once per page while reading this book – which, if you ask my husband, is really annoying because I like to read at night when he’s trying to sleep. I was up until 1:30 a.m. last night (this morning? is it morning if you haven’t slept yet?), trying to laugh quietly and not disturb my poor husband who’s alarm would go off 3 1/2 hours later.

Bossypants was a great way to kick off our “Month of Humor” reading. It was uproariously funny, sweet and sentimental, and Fey is really someone I can (and I’m sure many of you can) relate to. She’s not afraid to make fun of herself, and clearly she’s very successful at doing just that. I would enthusiastically recommend this book to anyone looking for a good read, an exhausted stay-at-home mom needing a mental break, an exhausted working mom needing a mental break, or anyone who wants something to laugh at with a glass of wine (or a beer, or a milkshake).

So how about you? Have you read Bossypants? What are your thoughts? Are you a fan of Tina Fey? Does this book sound like a “must read” or a “total dud” to you?

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Book Review: “The Red Queen”

This month’s reading theme, “Month of Women,” has been exceptionally interesting, and introduced me to a lot of new female authors, books, and characters. The idea was, in honor of National Women’s Month, to read books for women, by women, about women. This week, I read Philippa Gregory’s historical fiction novel, The Red Queen.

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The Red Queen is the second in Gregory’s “The Cousin’s War” series, which follow characters throughout the infamous Cousin’s War in England in the Middle Ages. We read the first book, The White Queen, in January, and it was one of my favorite books of the challenge. The Red Queen had a lot to live up to, in my opinion, but Gregory hit a home run with her second book in the series! Where The White Queen followed the York queen Elizabeth Woodville, The Red Queen followed the founding mother of the opposing family, the Lancasters. Born as a cousin to the King of England, Margaret Beaufort was raised as a pious, regal young woman. She was forced married to a Tudor, and at the ripe old age of 13 birthed her only child, Henry Tudor, who would become heir to the throne of England. With usurpers and decades of battle, Margaret grows from a young mother dedicated to her “true king,” to a queen mother on the warpath to win her son the throne.

The Red Queen is absolutely fascinating. Margaret is a really powerful female lead, and one can’t help but allow their heart to go out to the woman who faces every misfortune on her rise to power. Unlike Elizabeth in The White Queenwho lives a rather fortunate life on her way to power, and needs to face a downfall, Margaret takes the opposite journey – struggling and desperate on her rise to power (or her son’s power), and finally successful later in her life. Gregory weaves a very successful and exceptionally interesting story, allowing readers to related to the character, feel for her disappointments, and enjoy her successes.

I found myself a bit distracted when reading this novel, trying to match up the timeline to that of Elizabeth’s story in The White Queen. Their stories run parallel to one another, and I feel like I can better understand parts of Elizabeth’s story by understanding Margaret’s. These novels tie together so neatly. Gregory’s historical edge is captivating. I am a fan of historical fiction, and her novels remind me of why. While reading her novels, I feel inspired to research the era and the families more completely. Elizabeth and Margaret are the grandmothers of the infamous king, Henry VIII, and great grandmothers to Elizabeth I. Margaret was the matriarch of the famous Tudor dynasty. I love that I learn while reading these novels, and I can’t wait to pick up the next one.

We’ve read the first of a few series during this book challenge, but this is the only time we’ve picked up a second book from a series. There is a reason – I have really enjoyed these novels, and find myself thinking about them well after they’re done (I even had a dream that I was watching the final battle of The Red Queen take place), and inspired to learn more.

So how about you? Did you read along? Have you read The White Queen or The Red Queen? Are you a Gregory fan? Share your thoughts about this novel!

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Week 30 Reading: “The Red Queen”

Wow! I can’t believe we’re onto our 30th book in the challenge! Even if you’re only reading along periodically, or simply collecting recommendations for future reading, I thank you for taking part in this reading adventure! This week we’re keeping with our “Month of Women” theme (book for women, by women, about women), and picking up Philippa Gregory’s The Red Queen.

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The Red Queen is the second in Gregory’s The Cousin’s War series. We read the first book back in January (see: Book Review: “The White Queen”). If you haven’t read that one yet, I recommend you pick it up and catch up with the story before picking up The Red Queen

I have been looking forward to this book since I finished The White Queen in January!! Gregory has a way with storytelling, and infuses just the right amount of mystery, history, and magic in her historical fiction series. I hope The Red Queen continues on the path of excellence Gregory started with her first novel in the series! This novel follows the same story line told through a different point of view, and I just can’t wait to crack it open and get more of this series!

I hope you’ll join me this week! Remember, at the end of the week, you are encouraged to share your thoughts, arguments, criticism, or giddy feelings about any of the readings (and if you hate my opinions, you are free to let me know). We’re going for a “book club” atmosphere, and I hope you’ll join in the fun!

Happy Reading!

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Book Review: “One for the Money”

Well, it has been a very busy week. I am approaching the end of two college courses (finals next week!), and just began two more (my last two). In my hectic school schedule, I forgot to post what book we were reading this week, but hopefully you’re keeping up by checking out the “The Month’s Books” page, where I list what the readings for the month are.

This week, in keeping with the “Month of Women” theme (books for women, by women, about women), we tackled Janet Evanovich’s One for the Money.

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One for the Money is the first in Evanovich’s “Stephanie Plum” series, and was quite an introduction to a really entertaining leading lady! The novel follows broke-as-dirt Stephanie Plum, a 30-year-old single woman in New Jersey, as she tries her hand at gaining some fast cash through bounty hunting. Yes… bounty hunting. She sets quite a slow learning curve as she seeks out to capture the grand prize bounty, Joe Morelli – a man she has a romantic (or at least lusty) past with. Her adventures are exciting, her near-misses frightening, and her story is all over very entertaining.

I have to admit, I came into this novel with a bit of a wall up, thinking I wouldn’t like it. First off, it is apparently a very popular series, and (just being honest – hate me if you will) I have noticed that very popular series that are followed predominantly by women tend to be REALLY hit or miss (think Outlander vs. Twilight). Secondly, my last experience with a female bounty hunter novel ended in grave (pun intended) disappointment (see: Book Review: “Guilty Pleasures”). I have to apologize to Stephanie Plum for my judgements – and eat my words for sure.

Evanovich’s novel is downright funny. Her character – Stephanie Plum – is so honest that it’s impossible not to love her. Unlike many female leads, she doesn’t come by her craft gracefully or easily… she struggles, makes mistakes, and gets herself into some really hairy situations. She even finds herself rescued by quite a few male characters – something that is rarely found in “chick lit” (books for women), where women are usually tough-as-nails and can handle things themselves. It’s refreshing to see such a genuine portrayal of a woman in a novel, especially in a modern woman (well, “90’s modern”) with a job like bounty hunting. I feel like every single woman I know could, at some point in her life, relate to Stephanie. Evancovich infuses so much tongue-in-cheek humor into her characters. From Stephanie on down to the lowliest of supporting characters, each one seems real, New Jersey sarcastic (all that offensive New Jersey language), and contributes to the story.

There’s even an element of mystery in the story, as Stephanie seeks to get her man, and help him prove his innocence. Evanovich kept me captive the entire time, and I found myself up into the late hours of the night with this one. Listen – it’s nothing profound. This novel isn’t going to knock your socks off… but it will entertain you. It was a great relief from all of my school work, and a fun way to spend my evening. I would happily read another Stephanie Plum novel, and gladly pass this one on to any of my friends.

So what about you? Are you a Stephanie Plum fan? Does this novel even sound interesting to you? If you’ve read it before, what did you like (or not like) about it?

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March Reading List

I can’t believe it’s time to release the March reading list!! 2014 seems to be flying by!

March’s theme is “Month of Women,” so we will be tackling books by women, for women, about women. I chose this theme in honor of the National Women’s History Month which takes place each year in March. I think we have a good selection, and I hope you’ll pick at least one (and hopefully more) to read along with me!

March 2 – 8: The Thirteenth Tale – Dianne Sutterfield

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The Thirteenth Tale came as a recommendation from my great friend Alyssa! The book is our fiction selection for the month, and the book description suggests that there is a mysterious story-within-a-story. The story follows two women authors, and will prove to be an excellent selection for our “Month of Women” theme. I bought this book at the used book store a few months, and have been anxiously waiting to crack it open!

 

March 9 – 15: The Paper Woman – Suzanne Adair

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The Paper Woman is a book I am very excited to read! I was given an ebook copy of the novel personally by the award winning author – Suzanne Adair (hi Suzanne!) – who is a very kind and interesting woman. The novel takes place during the American Revolution, and is the first in a series called the “Mysteries of the American Revolution Trilogy.” Historical fiction is my favorite reading genre, and a good mystery is great way to make history even more interesting! You may have a hard time finding this book, but you can easily get your hands on an ebook copy at Smashwords.

 

March 16 – 22: One for the Money – Janet Evanovich

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This book was given to me years ago by a good friend (who actually shares one character’s name: Joe Morelli). One for the Money is the first of a series about a female bounty hunter – Stephanie Plum – and is written by a bestselling female author – Janet Evanovich. It’s about time I read this novel, which has been sitting pretty on my shelf for over four years!

 

March 23-29: The Red Queen – Philipa Gregory

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The Red Queen is the second of the “Cousin’s Wars” series, the first of which we read in January (see: The White Woman). This is the first time we have read a book that is the second in a series, and I have to admit, I loved Gregory’s writing and story enough to want to pick up the second book! Another bestselling female author, writing historical fiction about a strong female character!

 

March 30 – April 5: Bossypants – Tina Fey

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Bossypants meets the themes for both March and April – it is a book by a woman (Tina Fey), and a comedy novel by a very funny woman (April’s theme is “Month of Humor”). I am a big fan of Tina Fey, and am very much looking forward to being entertained by her again through her book. I would watch anything Fey touches, and will certainly read her book!!

So there you have it, our “Month of Women” reading list! I hope you’ll choose one – or more – of the selections, and join in every week to not only read my reviews, but discuss your opinions and thoughts about the reading!

Happy reading!

 

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Book Review: “Guilty Pleasures”

This week we finished up our 9th book on our reading challenge, and the last of our Halloween themed reading for October.

By the way, Happy Halloween (belated) my friends! This week has been a busy one for my family! My mom and two younger sisters came into town, suffering 12 hour drives (my mom from NY, my sisters from FL) to be with us for our favorite holiday. Our family is very Irish (only a few generations removed), and Halloween is very much part of our Druid blood! We haven’t missed a year dressing up in my 26 Halloweens! This year, my girls set the pace, choosing “Star Wars” as our theme! Check out our costumes

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Left to right we have: Mom as C3PO, Tanya at Obi Wan Kenobi, Scarlett (4) as Princess Leia, Me (Regina) as Han Solo, Karina as Darth Vader, and Annabelle (3) as Luke Skywalker. I swear this was all their idea! We’re so proud of our little nerdlings.

ANYWAY….

This weeks’ reading was Laurell K. Hamilton’s vampire “chick lit” (books for women), Guilty Pleasures. The novel follows vampire slayer Anita Blake, known to the St. Louis vampire community as The Executioner. Anita lives in a modern world (well, the 90s, when everyone still carried pagers), where vampires and all sorts of supernatural beings are part of mainstream society, protected by American law and a functioning part of the country. Anita refuses to accept that these beings are anything but evil, and seeks to destroy the vampire undercurrent in the city.

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I have mixed feelings about Hamilton’s book. I’m having a hard time writing this review, because this book was loaned to me by a very well-meaning (and well-read) friend, Katrina, who has read the entire Anita Blake series (apparently there’s dozens of these books), and I feel like if I insult is book, I’m insulting my friend. Let me say, before I start, that on the whole, I enjoyed the book, and am glad I borrowed it. I’d probably give the second in the series a chance as a way to convince me to become a fan of Hamilton’s series. I appreciated Hamilton’s imagination – there was non-stop action, and Hamilton introduces different supernatural beings I would never have considered to be part of mainstream society… besides vampires, there are were-animals (wolves and rats, to name the ones in this book), ghouls, zombies… and Anita herself is a trained “animator,” able to raise the deceased using a sort of voodoo magic. I have to praise Hamilton’s ability to suck you into the story, and Anita is a very strong female character who takes no BS and isn’t sucked into romance (a nice break from the Twilights and Sookie Stackhouses of the “vampire, fantasy chick lit” genre).

I did have a few issues with the book, if I’m being honest. The first actually relates to the “strong female character” that is Anita Blake. She’s almost too strong, in a kind of “get off your high horse” way. I found her really tough to relate to. Her internal monologue got a little old as well (she uses and re-uses a lot of cliche sayings, and I found myself rolling my eyes at the overuse of the same expressions throughout the book). I also had an issue with the amount of action. Stories generally have an ebb and flow – particularly stories that are “high action” – to give the reader (and the characters) a chance to catch their breath and process what just happened. There was really no break in Guilty Pleasures. The action was continuous, and I felt like it was a little disjointed. I found myself reading and having to stop, turn the pages back, and try to figure out what the heck was happening. It was all kind of muddled together, and there was no defined lines between “action scenes.” I felt the beginning half of the book was one big blur of action, and by the second half, Hamilton kind of got her story together, and clarified her writing style. I feel a little guilty judging an author’s writing style because, truth be told, Hamilton is a much better writer, and about 1,000 times more creative, than I could ever hope to be.

That being said, on the whole, I enjoyed Guilty Pleasures. The characters were very well developed – everyone from Anita to the cast of vampires, and even the small supporting characters of Anita’s friends, well all well defined and creative. They all felt like “real people,” that’s for sure. I have a feeling the series gets better along the way, and that Hamilton masters her craft throughout the different books. These books have a HUGE following, and there has to be a reason why. I would recommend this book to a 20-something woman looking for a quick read that she doesn’t have to invest too much brain power or energy into, simply because the pages turn quickly, the language is simple, and the story is creative enough to get you sucked in, but not leave you exhausted after reading it (think the opposite of the time consuming and exhausting Game of Thrones).

How about you? Did you read along? Have you read this book before? What are you thoughts? Am I being too harsh on Anita Blake, and Hamilton in general? Share what you felt about this book – maybe I missed something!

 

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Week 9 Reading: “Guilty Pleasures”

Well, folks – looks like we’ve made it through the month of October (excepting this week). Our last book for this month’s Halloween themed reading is Laurell K. Hamilton’s Guilty Pleasures, which is the first in a series involving Anita Blake, a vampire hunter in St. Louis.

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I had never heard of this series until discussing my Halloween book selection with my good friend, Katrina. I wanted to add something along the line of “modern vampire” (without reading Twilight), and hit on a “chick lit” (books targeted for women). I suggested The Southern Vampire Mysteries (the inspiration for the show True Blood), and Katrina said no way! Then she handed me Guilty Pleasures, and explained the basic premise to me. Anita Blake is living in a world where vampires are part of the mainstream population, and given protection by the law. She works as a consultant for the police department, investigating paranormal events in St. Louis. She is contacted by a group of vampires, and “asked” to perform a job for them, despite their knowledge that she is referred to as “The Executioner.”

Another friend commented that she has read the whole series, and said I should like them, so I’m looking forward to reading this first installment! Hope you’ll read along with me.

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