Friday, July 30, 2010

Casting Call Friday - Everyone Else's Girl by Megan Crane

I hemmed and hawed over my choice for this week's Casting Call Friday. I had zero inspiration for what to cast this week until, perusing my bookshelves, I stumbled upon an old favorite by Megan Crane.

Here's a quick summary (via Goodreads)

Meredith McKay has gone to a lot of trouble to create the picture-perfect life for herself far away from her troublesome family, thank you. When her fathers car accident forces her back to her hometown, however, she soon discovers that there's no running away from family issues —there's only delaying the inevitable. Can anyone sort out a lifetime of drama in one hot summer? Throw in a hot guy from back in high school with an ax to grind, a best friend turned enemy turned soon-to-be-sister-in-law, and of course, the sometimes irritating, sometimes delightful members of her own family, and Meredith is on her way to figuring out that a trip through the past is the best way to move forward. With one revelation after another coming to light, Meredith must reexamine all the things shes ever believed, including the truth about herself. Could it be that she isnt the picture-perfect good girl she always thought she was?

Meredith McKay - Meredith is your classic "good girl" that always tries to make everyone else happy. Growing up with her brother and Jeannie, she's always been the nice girl, apologizing for their antics. After moving away she finds a job she doesn't really like and falls into a relationship with a guy who's seemingly perfect for her, but she doesn't really love. It's not until she's forced to move back home to care for her injured father does she realize that she needs to start living the life she wants.

Rachel McAdams has the perfect "the girl next door" attitude and ability to play an adorable frazzled, put upon Meredith.

Scotty Sheridan - The former butt of the McKay family's jokes, once gawky and the class "loser, Scott has grown into a confident, clever county prosecutor. He's had a long-time crush on Meredith, but has a lot of resentment for the way she, Jeannie, and Christian treated him.

Matthew Goode would be fantastic as the tall, dark, handsome Scott Sheridan, quietly pining over Meredith, but using his snarky sense of humor to push her buttons.

Jeannie Gillespie - Meredith's former best friend and soon-to-be sister in law, Jeannie likes to be in control and the center of attention. She's funny, confident, and fiercely loyal to the McKay family.

Katherine Heigl is the perfect Jeannie. Controlling, slightly passive-aggressive and sometimes she can be catty, but Jeannie would do anything for her friends and family.

Christian McKay - Meredith's handsome lawyer older brother is a type-A personality and, like Jeannie, is used to Meredith going along with most of his plans (including taking a sabbatical from her job to take care of their father). Christian doesn't take surprises well and is used to getting his way.

Adam Scott has the right kind of sarcastic attitude plus the ability to play both characters that can be jerks (see Stepbrothers/Leap Year) and characters that are sweet and sympathetic (see The Vicious Kind/Parks and Recreation)

Hope McKay - The youngest of the McKay clan, Hope is the antithesis of Meredith. Hope does what she wants, others be damned. She's got a dry, quick wit and tries to break Meredith out of her passive, "good girl" shell.

Mae Whitman has the disaffected youth personality down pat and would be awesome as the irreverent, hilarious Hope.

Father McKay - I couldn't find a name for the patriarch of the McKays, since he's mostly referred to as Dad, but he's quiet and unassuming, and it's easy to see where Meredith gets her eagerness to please. He's got a basement aquarium that he spends most of his time and energy on, much to the dismay of his children.

Richard Jenkins just is this character in my head. He's perfect for this sweet, but kind of sad character.

What do you think? Agree/disagree? I want to hear your thoughts on who would be perfect for this fun, charming book.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Review - A Day Late and A Dollar Short by Terry McMillan

Courtesy of Goodreads: Much-heralded and long awaited, Terry McMillan's tour-de-force novel introduces the Price family-matriarch Viola, her sometimes-husband Cecil, and their four adult kids, each of whom sees life-and one another-through thick and thin, and entirely on their own terms. With her hallmark exuberance and cast of characters so sassy, resilient, and full of life that they breathe, dream, and shout right off the page, the author of the phenomenal best-sellers Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back has given us a novel that takes us ever-further into the hearts, minds, and souls of America-and gives us six more friends we never want to leave.

First let me start off by saying that when I opened up this book to find an extended family tree on the first two pages, I immediately became a little nervous. No one wants to interrupt their reading experience by constantly referring to the legend at the front of the book.

Luckily for me, I didn’t have to.

In A Day Late and A Dollar Short, Terry McMillan paints the picture of a dysfunctional family just trying to make it day by day. There’s Viola, the matriarch, who starts the book off by suffering a nearly fatal asthma attack. There’s Cecil, her (soon to be ex) husband, who has left Viola and is living with another (younger) woman across town. Then there are their children: Paris, Janelle, Lewis and Charlotte, each with their own set of problems.

This story is told from six perspectives, which initially makes it difficult to enjoy. The chapters are not labeled by name so it takes you a minute to realize who is speaking. Unfortunately, this is consistent throughout the entire book. While each character’s story is engaging, the fact that each one doesn’t have their own distinctive voice makes it a bit bothersome. Added to this is the fact that the chapters are long-winded, trying to cram every detail making certain parts of this story repetitive.

Even with those problems, I still really enjoyed this book. McMillan has created wonderfully complex characters that are constantly challenged, exploring exactly why they have become the way they are. Not only focusing on problems that affect the black community, the seemingly casual way with which she deals with different traumatic events, such as Lewis’s molestation by family members and Paris’s substance abuse, leaves one caught off guard. It’s not that she doesn’t delve into the matter…she does. However, she doesn’t allow the character to use it as an excuse. She hasn’t created a book of victims bemoaning and belaboring. She takes this family that has essentially fallen apart and shown how they each are trying to piece it back together again, gifting us with a group of sassy, strong people struggling to find solutions, which makes this an uplifting, positive story.

LitSnit Verdict: B

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday - Daniela

The Sherlockian by Graham Moore

Release Date: December 2010

In December 1893, Sherlock Holmes-adoring Londoners eagerly opened their Strand magazines-- anticipating the detective's next adventure-- only to find the unthinkable: his creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, had killed their hero off. London spiraled into mourning -- crowds sported black armbands in grief -- and railed against Conan Doyle as his assassin.

Then in 1901, just as abruptly as Conan Doyle had "murdered" Holmes in "The Final Problem," he resurrected him. Though the writer kept detailed diaries of his days and work, Conan Doyle never explained this sudden change of heart. After his death, one of his journals from the interim period was discovered to be missing, and in the decades since, has never been found.

Or has it?

When literary researcher Harold White is inducted into the preeminent Sherlock Holmes enthusiast society, The Baker Street Irregulars, he never imagines he's about to be thrust onto the hunt for the holy grail of Holmes-ophiles: the missing diary. But when the world's leading Doylean scholar is found murdered in his hotel room, it is Harold - using wisdom and methods gleaned from countless detective stories - who takes up the search, both for the diary and for the killer.

This type of work is clearly not everyone’s cup of tea, especially someone with a Conon Doyle aversion…wait, do such people actually exist? I don’t know, all I know is that I’m not one of them. I’m rather big on mystery, especially in the winter months when the thought of solving a crime while curled up under a warm blanket, sipping chamomile tea becomes especially appealing. This book will come out in December so its timing is perfect!

The only thing I’m a bit apprehensive about is that this is the author’s first book. I try and stick to a policy of never reading debut novels unless I’ve heard great things about them…usually form Janelle or Erin. But, I’ll take a leap of faith with this one on account that it’s being published by Twelve (an independent publishing company that limits its output to merely 12 books a year, one for each month). I’ve never been led astray by Twelve before; their selections criteria is pretty stringent. I’m hoping for more of the same with The Sherlockian.

*Waiting on Wednesday is an ingenious idea hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine.

Review - The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Summary: (via Goodreads) Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie is navigating through the strange worlds of love, drugs, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show", and dealing with the loss of a good friend and his favorite aunt.

Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the unique creation of author Stephen Chbosky. This book, which takes the format of an epistolary novel, describes the life of a fourteen year old boy in his first year of high school. Every few days the main character, Charlie, writes a new letter in which he updates an unnamed recipient about the events of his life. Sometimes a lot happens, other times the letters are more personal and reflective. Regardless, we continue to follow his steps into that intimately familiar territory of adolescence.

After completing the book, two distinct feeling emerge: a feeling of compassion toward the great amount of drama and trauma in Charlie’s life, and an unsettling feeling toward the strangeness of Charlie’s behavior. This eeriness is cause by the fact that he only exhibits two distinct emotional states: incredible emotional hyperactivity and complete emotional inactivity. The mystery behind his anonymity (Charlie is the pen-name he creates for himself while addressing the letters) combined with the fact that we never learn where he is from or who he is writing to also contribute to this sensation. And it’s not until we realize the strategic purpose behind his behavior and anonymity that we truly start to understand the book. It seems Chbosky envisioned his hero as the fictional representation of all of us. The author manages to give Charlie this universality by making him a perfect chameleon: Charlie is both reclusive and outgoing, both your best friend and a complete oddity, both emotionally stable and a complete wreck. The reason Charlie needs to be all these things is because he is facing the quintessential life dilemma of choosing whether he should try and satisfy others or try and satisfy himself. What complicates the matter is that he repeatedly fails to do either, which lead him into modes of depression, disorientation, and indifference.

The only times he does get some respite from himself is when he reads books and spends time with Sam, the girl that he loves. Charlie finds comfort in the books that he reads (e.g., The Stranger, The Catcher in the Rye, The Fountainhead), and you can see a 1991 version of Holden Caulfield and Meursault in him. His friendship with Sam is another thing altogether. He is in awe of her bluntness and honesty and beauty. She gives him a strange sort of comfort and he craves her on a purely emotional basis, something quite contradictory to what he is: a hormonally driven teenage boy.

Perhaps because it’s been so many years since we’ve been fourteen or maybe it’s because we never really had the time to analyze life at that age, but reading Charlie’s narrative is a revelation. The honesty in his words is stirring, packed with innocent notions about things like acceptance, self image, and the emotions of parents and siblings. His account is both wondrous and difficult to read. In many ways, what he reveals isn’t new at all but more like an old memory we’ve forgotten.

Lit Snit Verdict: B

Monday, July 26, 2010

Review - A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents by Liza Palmer

Summary (via Goodreads): Everything seems just perfect in Grace's life. She's got a great job, a lovely house, a handsome boyfriend – and she's pretty happy with it all.

Except that Grace has got a secret. She has a family. One she ran away from when life got too tough. Not to mention John, the only man she ever truly loved, who she left behind as well.

So when her sister finally tracks her down – to announce that their estranged father is in hospital – Grace has to make a decision. She can stay in the safe little world she's carved out for herself, or she can go home. To face the music. But going home really isn't as easy as it seems. Especially when the music seems to be playing a funeral march, her siblings are beyond furious with her, and their father's second wife is behaving very strangely indeed….

A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents is a heartbreakingly funny story about life, loss and what it really means to come home.

Review: I have to get one thing off my chest before I really get into this review. Something bugged me about this book from one of the first few scenes and has stuck with me every time I think about this book that I just have to address with Liza Palmer.

Liza, love you, but the game Sorry, isn't played with dice! It's played with cards. Sorry, the long-time-Sorry-playin'-OCD-freak in me just needed to get that off my chest.

Phew. Now that's done, I can talk about how much I enjoyed this book. It starts off a little slow and, to be honest, I wasn't sure if I was going to love Grace in the beginning, but all my reservations flew out the window as we meet the rest of the Hawkes clan. I realized as the novel progressed how much the Grace I met in the first scene was a shadow of herself without her family around. Palmer has a way with characters; each of the siblings felt very real and well-rounded. Grace's younger brother Leo is downright adorable. He's a giant skinny, lovable, genius puppy that I just wanted to hug throughout the entire book. (In my head, he's basically Lee Pace)

The sibling relationship are complicated, messy, but full of love. Palmer weaves flashbacks in with the present seemlessly giving me the feeling that I've grown up in this family, too. Palmer dispenses with Grace's boyfriend fairly quickly and without much explanation, but it doesn't matter because the second John and Grace are on the page together they have such chemistry I kind of forget about the boyfriend altogether.

Palmer creates a good balance between the emotion and the plot, creating one of the more odious step-families since Cinderella. I was constantly torn between tears and spewing outrage on the Hawkes children's behalf.

This is a quick, enjoyable read like I'd expect from Palmer, whose first novel Conversations with the Fat Girl is one of my chick lit favorites. A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents is emotional but hopeful tale of family, love, and knowing it's never too late to go home again.

Lit Snit Verdit: B+

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Comic Con 2010: Review - DMZ by Brian Wood

As Comic Con winds down, I'm here to give you my last comic series recommendation/review. If you're not that familiar with comics, I hope you've seen a series or two that's caught your eye. Not all comics are about superheroes and people with powers. Many of today's comic series are dramatic, thought-provoking reads that rival (or are many times better than) what's on the bestseller list. I hope you'll give one of these graphic novels a try next time you're looking for something good to read.

DMZ written by Brian Wood

DMZ is set in New York City, where photography intern Matty Roth, is thrust in the middle of America’s second civil war that has turned the island of Manhattan into a demilitarized zone. Matty, now the only reporter in the DMZ, tries to make sense of the war and report the truth, as both sides of the war, the federal government and the “Free State” armies, conspire, lie, and attempt to use Matty as their pawn.

Living in New York, I was a huge fan of the concept of DMZ. Wood and his co-creator and artist Riccardo Burchielli have imagined a horrific, fascinating vision of NYC. A friend at work and I often hypothesize apocalypse exit strategies and “what if” catastrophe scenarios (because we’re strange and morbid that way) and DMZ is like seeing one of those conversations come to life. Wood tackles moral issues, politics, religion, wartime ethics—nothing is clear cut, but every issue makes you think. Like Scalped, DMZ can get very dark, but that’s what makes it so unique and fascinating. Wood has created a world that makes you think about things on a global and personal level. In later volumes Wood seems to get bogged down by political and social commentary at the detriment to characters, making it a slight struggle to get through for me, but I still enjoyed every volume. Matty’s transformation from the boy who was left in the DMZ to the world-weary report that struggles to find something or someone to believe in is difficult to witness because seeing the chaos in this world gone mad, even I felt helpless and struggled to make sense of it all. DMZ isn’t a complete downer though. Matty is a realistic protagonist and the characters that fill the DMZ are intriguing and full of surprises.

I can't end my Comic Con recs without mentioning two other series that I adore: Buffy the Vampire, Season 8, which is a MUST for any Buffy fan, and Umbrella Academy, a bizarrely brilliant series that the A.V. Club calls "...part X-Men and part The Royal Tenenbaums..." I wish I could write full reviews on all my favorite series, but I assure you both of these books are well-worth a read.

Oh, and I can't believe I forgot to ask this until this last post, but are there any good comic series you guys would recommend?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Comic Con 2010: Review - Runaways by Brian K. Vaughn and Fables by Bill Willingham

I was feeling a bit under the weather yesterday so I didn't get around to my comic review post, so today's Comic Con-inspired post is a twofer.

Runaways created by Brian K. Vaughn

Runaways is another delightful creation from Brian K. Vaughn (Note: if you’re ever unsure where to start when you dive into the comic world, he’s a great writer to start with). Runaways all started with one simple question: what would you do if you discovered your parents were super villains? After six teens, Alex, Karolina, Gert, Chase, Molly and Nico, discover their parents are members of a criminal group they take to the streets, wanting nothing to do with their parents’ evil ways. (I know this is a vague summary, but to say anything more would be giving away ever juicy twist that makes Runaways awesome)

To say I adore Runaways might be an understatement. These are books I re-read again and again, never failing to smile at Molly’s innocent charm or Chase’s silly buffoonery. The series also has what is probably one of my favorite character in book, TV, anything: Gertrude Stein. Smart and sassy with her psychic dinosaur at her side (I know, I know, just go with it. It’s easier when you don’t struggle.), Gert has carved herself a little place in my heart. I don’t want to give anything away that’s too spoiler-y because this series is full of surprises, but the first seven volumes, written by Vaughn are pure genius fun. Joss Whedon picks up the eighth volume, which is decent, but, as much as I adore Whedon, doesn’t have the same flavor that Vaughn brought. Other writers come in after that until the series pitters to a halt. They say they’re “retooling” the series, but it’s been a while now so I don’t know if it will be picked up again or not. I’ve heard they’re making a movie, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

I urge you, if you’re a fan of the YA genre (or even if you’re not) give Vaughn’s run of this series a try. It’s full of heart and comedy, while realistically portraying an emotional coming of age story.

Fables created by Bill Willingham
(via Goodreads)
When a savage creature known only as the Adversary conquered the fabled lands of legends and fairy tales, all of the infamous inhabitants of folklore were forced into exile. Disguised among the normal citizens of modern-day New York, these magical characters have created their own peaceful and secret society within an exclusive luxury apartment building called Fabletown. But when Snow White's party-girl sister, Rose Red, is apparently murdered, it is up to Fabletown's sheriff, a reformed and pardoned Big Bad Wolf, to determine if the killer is Bluebeard, Rose's ex-lover and notorious wife killer, or Jack, her current live-in boyfriend and former beanstalk-climber.

I love the entire concept of Fables. Ageless fairy tale characters wandering the streets of NYC? Yes, please! Whether you’re well-versed in fairy tale lore or not, the characters are entirely engaging and compelling to read. Fables is funny, compelling, and a little bit grim. It's one of those series I want to completely immerse myself in, wishing it were real. Every volume offers something new and different, whether it be a murder mystery, crime caper, or an epic war, making the series an exciting read.

This series has launched a few different spin offs (including one novel) which I need to pick up. If you were at all a fan of our book club book, The Book of Lost Things, I would encourage you to try Fables. It keeps the spirit of dark old world tales and is entirely addictive.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Casting Call Friday - Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty

Yay for Friday! What a better way to start off this weekend that a Casting Call Session? :)

This week's choice is Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty. I love, love, love this book. As a matter of fact, Daniela used to make fun of me for how much I love this book (and rightfully gushing over the swoonworthy leading male was a tad bit ridiculous I'll admit now).Because of the great love I have for this book, I've been struggling with my casting choices but I think I may FINALLY have them right. So here we go!

Jessica Darling: Ellen Page

Jessica is a 16-year-old girl who feels 'like a fish out of water'. She's smart, sassy and awkward. I feel like Ellen Page would totally capture that awkward teenage angst with a dash of snark and is pretty but not TOO pretty.

Bethany Darling: Kate Hudson

Jessica's older sister and a blonde bridezilla. Based on her previous experience on playing a superficial bridezilla, I'll go with Kate Hudson. She would irritate the heck out of me if she were my sister.I admit she may be a bit too old, though...

Mrs.Darling: Jean Smart

Jess's mom is also supposed to be a beautiful blond woman who is super feminine and it appears that Jessica considers her to be the older version of her sister. I'm going with Jean Smart because she's a fox and I think she'd nail that ultra feminine and motherly character.

Bridget Milhokovich: Leven Rambin

Jessica's childhood best friend, now a model. She's described as fair and beautiful but paranoid when it comes to the way she looks. "That's because born beauties get so much praise that their appearance becomes crucial to their self-worth." Leven's character on ABC's Scoundrels is similar to this so I think she would be perfect.

Paul Parlipiano: Kellan Lutz

OK. She has "hot buttered sex" dreams about Paul Parlipiano. She is "overwhelmed by the urge to lick the sweat off his six-pack. Yum yum." This guy needs to be HOT. He needs to be athletic as he is on the track team with her. Kellan Lutz is both. I'm sure he could play 'Columbia University early acceptance smart' as well.

Scotty Glazer: Corey Monteith

According to Jessica's mother, Scotty is a catch. He plays baseball, basketball and football. He has a strong jaw and suffers from chronic bed head. He was also Jessica's first boyfriend. I'm casting Monteith solely because this is the type of character he plays on Glee. He's not deep. He's attractive and gets by.

Sara D'Abruzzi: Lacey Chabert

Sara D'Abruzzi is a member of what Jessica and Hope call the "Clueless Crew". She's rich and uses "oh my god" and "quote, unquote" a lot. She is upset about looking like a "butchy softball player instead of a ballerina". Lacey doesn't fit this last requirement but she could completely capture that spoiled rich girl quality that Sara needs.

Manda Powers: Madeline Zima

Manda "thinks that reading feminist manifestos makes up for her borderline ho-bag behavior". Another member of the Clueless Crew, she is called the "Kissing Slut" and "Lend-a-Hand-a-Manda" and will only lose her virginity to a hot, six-foot tall blond guy who drives a jeep. Madeline has shown us in her performance as Mia on Californication that she can play a young, smart Lolita in the making .

Hyacinth 'Hy' Wallace: Shannon Sossamon

Hy is gorgeous in an edgy way. She comes to Pineville as a supposed transfer but we later learn that she s a socialite who's only using the group to write a book called Bubblegum Bimbos and Assembly Line Meatballers. Shannon Sossamon is perfect for this. She's gorgeous, model like and could go from blue jeans to limousines in two minutes flat.


There are a bunch of characters in this book but I just focused on the ones that I thought were important. Which brings me to the most important one to me--

Marcus Flutie: Now, I'm in love with Marcus Flutie. In love. When I first started this series, I decided that any man I was going to get involved with should be just like Marcus Flutie (yes, Daniela...even if he asked to pee in a yogurt container! :) ). My feelings for Flutie are passionate so I'm having a problem finding anyone who can measure up. The person I think comes the closest for me?

Adam Brody.

He's skinny enough. He's cute but not hot. I could totally imagine him writing me poetry and being enough of a delinquent that I would have to help him pass a urine test. He can play super smart but has the ability to play somewhat of a bad boy as well. He's just dreamy enough...

He's as close as it's going to get for me and even then, it's not on the money!

Who would you cast? Did I miss a favorite character? Do you think I should have cast Hope even if she's not seen? Let me know! (I would especially love to hear who Marcus Flutie would be for YOU!)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Comic Con 2010: Review - Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughn

In honor of Comic Con this week, I'm sharing some of my favorite comic series for the next five days. Yesterday I talked about Scalped by Jason Aaron, a dark, gritty tale about life on a Native American reservation, and today I'm going to talk about the first of two series that I'll share that are created by the brilliant Brian K. Vaughn.

Y: The Last Man written by Brian K. Vaughn

(via Goodreads) In the summer of 2002, a plague of unknown origin destroyed every last sperm, fetus, and fully developed mammal with a Y chromosome--with the apparent exception of one young man and his male pet. This "gendercide" instantaneously exterminated 48% of the global population, or approximately 2.9 billion men.

Now, aided by the mysterious Agent 355, the last human male Yorick Brown must contend with dangerous extremists, a hoped-for reunion with a girlfriend on the other side of the globe, and the search for exactly why he's the only man to survive.

What could easily be a silly male fantasy realized, Y: The Last Man instead is a funny, grim, thought-provoking, and just a flat-out fascinating tale. Over ten volumes, and five years (within the story) you see characters grow and change, adjusting to this new world. Unconventional, but a perfect duo, Yorick (along with his pet monkey Ampersand) and Agent 355 quickly became a delight to read even against this dark backdrop. They're a great duo; Yorick's sly sense of humor is perfect against Agent 355 stoicism.

I was slightly annoyed with the ambiguity as to the cause of the plague that wiped out mankind, but I grew to love the characters so much that I was able to set aside any issues I had with some convoluted plotting (it was also hard reading this with months in between, having to go back and remember what had happened in the previous volume. Lucky for you, all ten volumes are available for purchase and you won't have to wait for the next installment). Vaughn created something special with his ability to tackle issues on a global scale with the political and sociological ramifications of losing all the men in the world (save one), while making it very much a story about a boy in love. Vaughn uses Y to explore issues of morality, humanity, and gender, but is never preachy. Y: The Last Man hits all the right notes of humor, drama, and action, making it a pleasure to read.

Review - Girls' Poker Night by Jill A. Davis

Dissatisfied both with writing a “Single Girl on the Edge/ Ledge/Verge” lifestyle column and with her boyfriend (who has a name for his car and compulsively collects plastic bread ties), Ruby Capote sends her best columns and a six-pack of beer to the editor of The New York News and lands herself a new job in a new city.

In New York, Ruby undertakes the venerable tradition of Poker Night—a way (as men have always known) to eat, drink, smoke, analyze, interrupt one another, share stories, and, most of all, raise the stakes. There’s Skorka, model by profession, home wrecker by vocation; Jenn, willing to cross county lines for true love; Danielle, recently divorced, seducer of at least one father/son combo in her quest to make up for perceived “missed opportunities.”

When Ruby falls for her boss, Michael, all bets are off. He’s a challenge. He’s her editor. And he wants her to stop being quippy and clever and become the writer—and the woman—he knows she can be. Adding to Ruby’s uncertainty is his amazing yet ambiguous kiss in the elevator, and the enjoyably torturous impasse of he-loves-me, he-loves-me-not.

What happens when you realize that Mr. Right has his own unresolved past? Where does that leave the future you envisioned? Ruby knows that happy endings aren’t for cowards, and she hasn’t lost hope that there are risks worth taking. As smart as it is laugh-out-loud funny, Girls’ Poker Night is a twenty-first-century His Girl Friday and a refreshingly upbeat look at friendship, work, and love.


Based on the title and summary, I thought this would be a book about Ruby’s relationships, both romantic and platonic. I expected something along the lines of Sex and the City, where all of Ruby’s wild and wacky antics would be neatly summarized in Ruby’s version of SATC’s Sunday brunch, which in this case would be girls’ poker night.

Not so much.

We learn that Ruby goes through life playing it safe. By playing it safe, she’s found herself unhappy in her 2 year relationship with Doug but she sees no point in ending it as she doesn’t want to deal with the confrontation. When Ruby gets the perfect out, new employment requiring her to move from Boston to NYC, she still doesn’t end it because she doesn’t want the confrontation. It’s easier to stay.

I get why the author has titled this book Girls’ Poker Night. I get that she uses this night to demonstrate how much Ruby likes to play it safe. Ruby doesn’t take risks in poker because, as in all aspects of her life, she doesn’t like to lose. I get it. Fine.

Apparently the author doesn’t either.

I feel like Davis spent this entire book playing it safe. The friendships, referenced to in the title, aren’t really explored. Hell, the poker night provides realizations for everyone BUT Ruby. The attraction between Ruby and her editor, Michael, is touched upon but not in-depth. There is no ‘loves-me, loves-me-not’ because from what I can see, the editor clearly wants to be with her. It’s Ruby being insecure, whiny and afraid of becoming emotionally involved. Even the small twist that takes place towards the end of the novel isn’t really explained either. None of this makes sense to me because the novel definitely has more than its share of necessary dialogue.

With all of that being said, it’s still an interesting and amusing read. Written in short, journal-like entries, this book has a few laugh out loud moments & some great quotes. At the very least it’s quick and entertaining read. It’s not the best book I’ve read, nor is it the worst. It’s just, well…blah,.

Lit Snit Verdict: C

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Comic Con 2010: Review – Scalped by Jason Aaron

In honor of San Diego Comic Con this week (which, okay stopped being about comics a few years ago and is more about Hollywood these days, but whatever) I thought I’d talk about some of my favorite comic series (or graphic novels or whatever you want to call them).

I think comics sometimes get a bad wrap as being “kiddish” or only read by middle-aged sci-fi fans that live in their parents’ basement (though this long-held stereotype is definitely changing lately), but I am a huge fan of the medium and have read some stories that rival even the best award-winning “serious” literature so I thought I'd share a few of my favorite series with you these next five days.

There are so many good series that it’s hard to just pick a few to share with you, but I’ve compiled a list that I'll share over the next five days of what I think are the best series I’ve read in the past few years. I'm not giving these letter grades because they're all my favorite series, so it kind of goes without saying that they'd all be A's in my book.

Scalped written by Jason Aaron

Summary: Scalped is a noir crime story set on a Native American reservation. Dashiell Bad Horse returns to Prairie Rose Indian Reservation, or “the rez,” after fifteen years away, under suspicious circumstances. As Bad Horse is coerced into working for the tribal police force, he's forced to deal with political intrigue, drug dealers, murder, and some emotional entanglements he swore he left behind.

Review: Scalped is an amazing series that constantly pushes the envelope. Full of intrigue, double-crossing, and scandal, it’s an unflinching look at life on a reservation. A dark and gritty storyteller, Jason Aaron never ceases to shock and amaze me with surprising twists and moving emotional archs.

This series hinges on it's twists so I don't want to give too much away, but Bad Horse is a complex character that I don't necessarily like, but I just can't seem to stop from grabbing the next issue to see what will happen next. I like that this series, while centered around Bad Horse, gives a lot of time to other characters so you understand their motivations both in the present and in the past (Aaron blends the past and present seamlessly within his story. This series is as much about what happened before Dashiell was even born as it is about the here and now.). Just when I think I’ve gotten a character or storyline figured out, I’m thrown for another loop and need to re-adjust my entire perception of the series.

I can’t say enough good things about this series. If you like mysteries, crime stories, or film noir pick up volume one of Scalped as soon as you can.

Waiting on Wednesday - Erin

Matched by Ally Condie
Release date: November 30, 2010

In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.

Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s barely any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one . . . until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow—between perfection and passion.

Matched is a story for right now and storytelling with the resonance of a classic.

There's been a lot of buzz on different blogs about Matched and I hear it was the "must-get" item at BEA and I can see why. Dystopian society, forbidden love, free will versus determinism, it all sounds positively delicious. Plus, the cover is adorable! I'm a big fan of romance with a sly sci-fi twist and this book seems like it will deliver on every level. November (almost December!) is way too far away.

*Waiting on Wednesday is an ingenious idea hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Review - The Vinyl Princess by Yvonne Prinz

Summary: (via Goodreads) With a summer job at Bob & Bob Records in Berkeley, California, teen music junkie Allie is ready for anything. She’s poised to fall in love, catch a thief, and make a mix that’ll break your heart. And when she blogs as The Vinyl Princess, Allie is the sort of mystery girl you can’t resist tuning into. Get ready for the vinyl revolution!

Review: In the novel The Vinyl Princess Yvonne Prinz recreates the life of a 16 year old vinyl record collector, Allie, who spends a lazy summer working in a small California record store (Bob & Bob's). Allie’s life is consumed by a singular passion: vinyl records. She lives for the crackle produced by the turntable’s needle as it dances its way to the right place, and nothing—not her mother’s miserable online dating fiasco, her best friend’s cheating boyfriend, or the thieving ways of her crush—can distract her from this obsession, which she actively rants about in a blog entitled thevinylprincess.

The unfortunate part of Al’s situation is that she was born about half a century late. Vinyl is almost extinct and the mp3-addicted, iPod listening generation that she belongs to could care less about album track arrangements or cover art. Her outdated music interest relegates her to a small group of oddballs that either work or shop at Bob & Bob’s. As mundane as it sounds working retail in a musty, hole-in-the-wall record store, Allie’s narrative manage to bring out its charms. She an eloquent observer that can give a romantic feel to everything and everyone around her, from the misanthropic co-worker lurking in the store’s stack collection, to the petty and homeless cross-dressers that practically live on the store’s premises, to the mom-and-pop eateries of Telegraph Avenue where she eats lunch.

Even those of us who could never understand the charms of clunky vinyl records can appreciate Allie’s music addiction as she includes all sort of interesting music-related tidbits throughout her narrative. After throwing us a plethora of music information and tracks to listen to, Prinz delivers a music-pinnacle of sorts in the form of a mixtape (ahem, “the mating call of the romantically challenged”) that Allie receives from Zach, a fellow vinyl purist. This is perhaps the most interactive part of the book and should the reader be invested in the story enough—like I was—they’ll assuredly listen to all the tracks listed (in their correct order) to discover Zach’s message.

The story’s actual pinnacle isn’t very dramatic. Allie was never created with some moral, personal or familial issue to resolve but is a rather content character trying to amicably deal with the issues stirred up by those around her. In a rather false-autobiography type of way, Allie was probably conceived to simulate the author, who herself works at a record store and is the active brain behind the thevinylprincess blog (which does exists in real-life and is filled with all kinds of purchasing suggestions for vinyl enthusiasts).

I liked this book; it made me happy to know that passions can bring such contentment to life, even to a teenager’s life.

Lit Snit Verdict: A

PS-Click here to listen to one of the songs Prinz raves about in her book.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Review - The Duff by Kody Keplinger

Summary (via Goodreads): Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn't think she's the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her "Duffy," she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that Wesley isn't such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

Review (Warning—Light Spoilers): I had to give myself a week and one re-read to write my review so this review didn’t come out full of incoherent fangirl squeeing. Since reading The Duff I've been slightly internet stalking Kody Keplinger as I do most authors I love. (Note to Kody: it's harmless stalking...I swear. Just ignore that feeling like you're being watched all the time. It will fade once you get used to me.)

Just seventeen when she wrote this, I’m torn between admiration and insane jealousy of Keplinger. Her writing is realistic, but incredibly nuanced. (Note again to Kody: not "insane jealousy" like I'm going to 'Single White Female' you. More like I want to steal your words and make your brain that I think about it, that sounds worse, doesn't it?)

Fast-moving, charming, and honest, The Duff (which stands for Designated Ugly Fat Friend) hooked me from page one. Bianca is smart, spunky, and just a little insecure. Wesley, who could easily be a flat character with his “playboy” ways, is he’s as well-developed as Bianca. I totally understand how Bianca could fall for this guy she supposedly hated (heck, I kind of fell for him myself). The way their relationship evolves is completely believable. Their transition from "enemies with benefits" to friends to something even more happens so smoothly you don't even realize it's happening, much like the characters themselves. Their banter is witty and their hookups are, well, pretty hot. As they get to peel back the layers and emotional barriers you begin to see why these two people are so right for each other. Without really realizing it, each helps the other deal with larger issues. Bianca deals with her parents’ divorce and her father’s alcoholism, while Wesley faces absent parents and a grandmother that despises him.

I loved Bianca’s friends, Casey and Jessica. Both are very different from Bianca but incredibly loyal and clearly the trio cares very deeply for each other. At one point, Wesley says that he really only has one friend, who is gay, because other boys are jealous of him. I wish we could have seen a bit more how this affected Wesley. Girls so often turn against a girl that is seen as more sexually active I thought it was interesting that Wesley’s open attitude regarding sex made him a social outcast among the guys.

My only major gripe is that I think Bianca’s father’s alcoholism perhaps doesn’t get the attention it should. His outbursts and recovery are waved aside with a heartfelt apology and mention of AA, but I felt like the issue should have been more developed, especially since he gets violent with her. Also, her absentee mother showing up and expecting things to just work themselves out irked me.

And while I hated how Bianca let Wesley get away with calling her such a horrible name for so long, the scene where she finally admits how much it hurt her is so poignant and emotional you realize that Wesley has no idea how much weight that word carried. In their relationship, Keplinger elegantly explores issues of self-respect and self-worth that aren’t just regulated to teens. All women, young or old, feel like “the duff” at one point or another.

By now I'm sure it's apparent that I loved The Duff. I think I’d put it up there with Some Girls Are and The Sky is Everywhere as my favorite YA books so far this year (maybe ever). Unfortunately, The Duff doesn't come out until September. I know, I know, I'm sorry for raving about something that isn't in stores for you right now. But, I'm counting down the days until you guys can get your hands on this awesome debut novel. I'm sure once you read it you, like me, will be waiting eagerly to see what else Keplinger has in store for us.

Lit Snit Verdict: A+
*This book was provided by the publisher.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Casting Call Friday - The Secret History of the Pink Carnation

It’s Friday again and all of us here at the Lit Snit headquarters are ready for another Casting Call session. This week’s selection is Lauren Willig’s The Secret History of the Pink Carnation. After surfing through a ginormous pile of headshots and resumes, we are finally ready for the silver screen.

First, let’s check out the plot:

Plot: In this story-within-a-story plot, we have two main heroines: Amy Blacort and Eloise Kelly. Eloise Kelly is a Harvard PhD student working on a dissertation exploring one of England’s most distinguished spies: the Purple Gentian (aka Richard Selwick), who helped topple Napoleon from power. Eloise flies to England to study some of the Purple Gentian never-before-read letters which are kept at the Selwick estate. As she begins her adventure though time using the letters, she uncovers an unexpected romance between the Purple Gentian and another mysterious figure by the name of Amy Balcourt. While at the Selwick estate, Eloise also develops an interesting attachment to its current keeper, Colin Selwick.


Character: Amy Balcourt

Amy is a young, upper-class Franco-British woman. She is well-educated and a bit of a feminist. She has a very extroverted and opinionated nature, but is also naïve, and delicate. Amy’s comic side emerges when she engages in her sleuth-wannabe hobby, which tends to lead her into funny damsel in distress situations.

Casting Call Callback: Rose Byrne - We saw this Aussie's brilliant acting talent in the movies Wicker Park and I Capture the Castle. She is versatile, compelling and oh-so-cute!

Character: Richard Selwick

Richard is a young, British Lord. He is charming, easy going and a bit of a Casanova. He can be hot-tempered at times, especially when dealing with Amy. Richard also leads a secretive, dual life of a spy.

Casting Call Callback: Christopher Egan-This Australian hunk first won us over during his brief but memorable appearance as Nick Bennet in the WB series Everwood, but it was his role in Letters to Juliet that made us see his potential as a romantic leading man.

Character: Eloise Kelly

Eloise is a single, middle-class, American woman in her later 20’s. She is witty but shy and introverted. Her priorities are scholastically driven, leaving her little time for appearances or romance.

Casting Call Callback: Emmy Rossum-Knowing how to sing, act and still look amazing must be hard work, but Emmy was able to do all that and more while playing the role of Christine in The Phantom of the Opera. Then, in movie Dare she showed us that being sexy and studious was indeed possible. How can she not be our Eloise?

Character: Colin Selwick

Colin is a well-educated, upper-class Briton. He is very even-tempered and confident. His protectiveness of his family's past makes him come off as snobbish and cold at times, but we soon see the softer side of this English gentleman.

Casting Call Callback: Eric Johnson-This Canadian star has been popping in and out of our radar for years with small appearances on all sorts of TV shows (e.g., Smallville, Ghost Whisperer, Supernatural, Rookie Blue). Now is the perfect time for him to show us his acting talent by playing a leading role in our movie.

Director: Oliver Parker

Soundtrack Selections:

Amy and Richard’s romance: Claude Debussy's Clair de Lune

Eloise and Colin’s romance: The Eels's Fresh Feeling

Review - Brick Lane by Monica Ali

After an arranged marriage to Chanu, a man twenty years older, Nazneen is taken to London, leaving her home and heart in the Bangladeshi village where she was born. Her new world is full of mysteries. How can she cross the road without being hit by a car (an operation akin to dodging raindrops in the monsoon)? What is the secret of her bullying neighbor Mrs. Islam? What is a Hell's Angel? And how must she comfort the naïve and disillusioned Chanu?

As a good Muslim girl, Nazneen struggles to not question why things happen. She submits, as she must, to Fate and devotes herself to her husband and daughters. Yet to her amazement, she begins an affair with a handsome young radical, and her erotic awakening throws her old certainties into chaos.

Monica Ali's splendid novel is about journeys both external and internal, where the marvellous and the terrifying spiral together.

In Brick Lane, Nazneen is walking through life. She's not allowed to experience much. I mean, let's be honest--her future has been decided for her. Her father has married her off to a man significantly older than her. This man, Chanu, staying true to culture, is the breadwinner. He expects Nazneen to remain at home, to be calm (even passive) and content in her position. He doesn't approve of her socializing too much outside of the home or even her need to adjust to their home by learning the English language.

She doesn't argue. She agrees. She accepts. She has been taught from birth not to fight, but to accept fate. She is the good daughter.

Her sister, Hasina, is the 'bad daughter'. She ran away from home to join in a 'love marriage' and was disowned. She ran away from her husband to escape the beatings and ill-treatment. Due to women being treated as second-class citizens, Hasina spends most of her time running.

Ali writes simply but effectively, showing the lives of Bengali women. They are second-class citizens. They lack the power to change their fate...or so they believe. It's terrifying. It's inspiring.

This book is a true coming of age story from 1967 to October 2001. Ali spins a wonderful story of discovering self-worth while becoming acclimated to an unfamiliar way of life. Nazneen's awakening, in the midst of 9/11, is a triumph as she has spent her whole life being seen but not heard. It's more than an 'erotic awakening'. It's the lesson that her words matter, her thoughts matter. She matters.

While I enjoyed this book, the ending was a disappointment. It wrapped quickly, leaving nothing to the imagination. I was also annoyed by the letters from Hasina to Nazneen which were written in some weird broken English/Bengali mix, distracting from the actual story.

Lit Snit Verdict: B+

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Janelle

This week's WoW (courtesy of Jill at Breaking the Spine!):

The Mischief of the Mistletoe: A Pink Carnation Christmas
Dutton Adult
Release Date: October 28, 2010

Goodreads: Arabella Dempsey’s dear friend Jane Austen warned her against teaching. But Miss Climpson’s Select Seminary for Young Ladies seems the perfect place for Arabella to claim her independence while keeping an eye on her younger sisters nearby. Just before Christmas, she accepts a position at the quiet girls’ school in Bath, expecting to face nothing more exciting than conducting the annual Christmas recital. She hardly imagines coming face to face with French aristocrats and international spies…

Reginald “Turnip” Fitzhugh—often mistaken for the elusive spy known as the Pink Carnation—has blundered into danger before. But when he blunders into Miss Arabella Dempsey, it never occurs to him that she might be trouble. When Turnip and Arabella stumble upon a beautifully wrapped Christmas pudding with a cryptic message written in French, “Meet me at Farley Castle”, the unlikely vehicle for intrigue launches the pair on a Yuletide adventure that ranges from the Austens’ modest drawing room to the awe-inspiring estate of the Dukes of Dovedale, where the Dowager Duchess is hosting the most anticipated event of the year: an elaborate 12-day Christmas celebration. Will they find poinsettias or peril, dancing or danger? And is it possible that the fate of the British Empire rests in Arabella and Turnip’s hands, in the form of a festive Christmas pudding?

I believe it was April when Erin introduced me to Lauren Willig's first book, The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, and I immediately fell in love. I ran out and quickly bought the remaining books in the series (including the 6th one in HARDCOVER) and spent the week embracing/loving all things historical, romantic, and spy-like. For me, these books touch upon everything I love in a book--a clever female protagonist, a charming/handsome love interest, good old-fashioned but slightly spicy romance (well spicy as it can be for the 1800s) and adventure. This is really difficult but Willig does it well.

I was disappointed when I realized, after reading the sixth one, that there were no more but then I stumbled upon news of The Mischief of the Mistletoe and now I'm eagerly anticipating October! Sure, it'll be a little colder. I won't be able to wear shorts, go to the beach, drink a margarita on the patio...and yes, this will suck BUT I will be able to snuggle up on my couch and delve into the perfect mix of a Jane Austen+Carolyn Keene (Elizabeth Bennet & Nancy Drew anyone?) novel. Oh, The Mischief of The Mistletoe, you are not coming fast enough!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Review - Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde

Summary (via Goodreads): "If Thursday thought she could avoid the spotlight after her heroic escapades in the pages of Jane Eyre, she was sorely mistaken. The unforgettable literary detective has another think coming." The love of her life has been eradicated by the corrupt multinational Goliath, and to rescue him Thursday must retrieve a supposedly vanquished enemy from the pages of "The Raven." But Poe is off-limits to even the most seasoned literary interloper. Enter a professional: the man-hating Miss Havisham from Dickens's Great Expectations. As Miss H's new apprentice, Thursday keeps her motives secret as she learns the ropes of Jurisfiction, where she moonlights as a Prose Resource Operative inside books. As if jumping into the works of Kafka and Austen, and even Beatrix Potter's Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies, weren't enough, Thursday finds herself the target of a series of potentially lethal coincidences, the authenticator of a newly discovered play by the Bard himself and the only one who can prevent an unidentifiable pink sludge from engulfing all life on Earth.

Review: I've heard a lot of good things about Jasper Fforde over the years, so about three years ago I finally got around to reading first book in the Thursday Next series, The Eyre Affair, and, to be honest, found it a bit difficult to get through. I liked the book enough; it was fun, imaginative, and quirky, but I just felt derailed by not being able to keep track of all the elements of Fforde’s world. I just felt like I’d been dropped into this strange world with no preparation. And I couldn’t really emotionally connect with Thursday. She just left me a little cold.

So when I saw Lost in a Good Book at the library I was hesitant to pick it up, but remembered all the good things I heard and thought I'd give it another try. I’m happy to say that the second book was much more enjoyable and I flew through it. This time things like book jumping, time paradoxes, and mammoth (yes, as in woolly) migrations barely made me bat an eye. This book is much more emotionally driven and allows Thursday to become a much more sympathetic character. I felt like I could understand Thursday's motivations a little better and understood where her initial distance came from. She actually reminded me a bit of Olivia from the show Fringe. At first they were both a bit matter-of-fact and business-like, but once I saw how committed they both are to the people they love, both became two of my favorite female protagonists. I couldn't help shed a tear or two at Thursday despairs over the loss of Landen and admire her determination to get him back, no matter the consequence. I also loved the addition of Miss Havisham as Thursday’s Jurisfiction mentor. She’s hilarious and sad, yet a little badass. I hope she’ll be in more of the series.

Lost in a Good Book is fast-paced and full of one brilliantly irreverent literary reference after another. I definitely became much more immersed in the world this time around. I found myself trying to decide what branch of Spec-Ops I’d want to work in and wanting a dodo as a pet like Thursday. Fforde’s Next series is hard to describe and even harder to encapsulate in one or two words, so let me just say that Lost in a Good Book was absurd, thrilling, hilarious, and a joy to read. I've already ordered The Well of Lost Plots and can't wait to get started.

Lit Snit Verdit: B+

Monday, July 12, 2010

Review - Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

Summary (via Goodreads): When Brittany Ellis walks into chemistry class on the first day of senior year, she has no clue that her carefully created “perfect” life is about to unravel before her eyes. She’s forced to be lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the other side of town, and he is about to threaten everything she's worked so hard for—her flawless reputation, her relationship with her boyfriend, and the secret that her home life is anything but perfect. Alex is a bad boy and he knows it. So when he makes a bet with his friends to lure Brittany into his life, he thinks nothing of it. But soon Alex realizes Brittany is a real person with real problems, and suddenly the bet he made in arrogance turns into something much more.

In a passionate story about looking beneath the surface, Simone Elkeles breaks through the stereotypes and barriers that threaten to keep Brittany and Alex apart.

Review: This book was entertaining enough, but I think all the hype I’d heard from various blogs left me a little disappointed. You can’t help but compare it to the movie Grease (which Elkeles even refers to at one tongue-in-cheek moment), and has the same fun, romantic, opposites attract feel to it. However, Elkeles’ has a certain social commentary and realism that reminds you that Alex isn’t ‘playing’ at being a gang member. I appreciated too that Elkeles deals with Brittany’s sister’s cerebral palsey with respect and honesty, never using Shelley as a cheap gimmick. She has as much personality and development as any of the other characters. I really enjoyed the main characters best friends, Sierra and Paco, who served not only as humorous distractions from the drama at certain points, but really proved that this book was about friendship and loyalty as much as it was a love story.

Perfect Chemistry started off really strong, allowing me to become invested in both Brittany and Alex’s lives, but as things developed it just seemed slightly contrived and their story wrapped up a little too neatly in the end to the point I kind of groaned and wished Elkeles had left a bit more to the imagination. That said, both characters were really well-rounded and I loved the dual POV. The dialogue, for the most part, was witty and clever.

I see the next in the series is about Carlos, Alex’s younger, hot-headed brother, who was probably my least favorite side character. I might give Rules of Attraction a try, but I’ve got so much on my to-read pile right now it probably won’t be any time soon.

Lit Snit Verdict: B-

Want another opinion? See what Emily and Her Little Pink Notes has to say about Perfect Chemistry.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Casting Call Friday - One For The Money

We hadn't seen this kind of feature around on other books blogs, so we here at Lit Snit thought it'd be fun to start a new weekly feature, Casting Call Friday.

We know not every book will be (or should be) turned into a movie, but sometimes you just can't help imagine who in Hollywood would be perfect to play your favorite character. Every Friday one of us will pick a book and give you our dream cast.

This whole thing actually came about a few months ago when I finally got around to reading Janet Evanovich's One for the Money Janelle, Daniela, and I argued for longer than I'm sure any of us would like to admit about who would be the perfect Stephanie Plum, Morelli, and Ranger. In celebration of that first (and probably not the last) casting argument/discussion/belligerent yelling (totally on my part...I get defensive about my Morelli choice) I thought I'd kick off Casting Call Friday with One for the Money, even if it's already cast and in production.

Stephanie Plum: Michelle Monaghan

She's smart and sly, with the ability to play comedy and drama really well. If any of you have seen the movie Trucker, you know Michelle can play a realistic, flawed character with heart. She'd be awesome as the lead character, making those absurd bounty hunter mishaps Stephanie finds herself in, seem realistic and not at all cartoon-y.

Joe Morelli: Jeffrey Dean Morgan

I won't lie. I kind of adore Jeffrey Dean Morgan and think he'd be awesome in most anything, but he'd especially be a great Morelli. He's got that gruff, arrogant but sweet charm that makes Morelli my favorite of Stephanie's love interests. Morgan just embodies Morelli in my mind. He could even pull off lines like, "It's not the pizza, darlin', its my masculine presence" without making me cringe.

Ranger: Kevin Alejandro

Kevin Alejandro has the perfect mysterious badass vibe that's needed for Ranger. He'd be a great bounty hunter mentor to Stephanie, while keeping the sexual tension alive and well.

Grandma Mazur: Cloris Leachman

Hilarious and uncensored, Leachman would be perfect as Stephanie's gun-toting, delightfully batty grandmother. I can just hear her delivering Grandma Mazur's dry, blunt quips, while serving as a lovable meddler in Stephanie's personal and professional life.

Lula: Mo'Nique

Mo'Nique proved this past year that she's one hell of an actress with Precious, and I think she'd be brilliant as Lula, the hooker who Stephanie befriends and eventually becomes her sometimes partner. She's funny and sweet and you'd know she'd have Stephanie's back.

So that's my dream cast for Janet Evanovich's One for the Money. What do you think? Do you agree/disagree? What's your dream cast for the Stephanie Plum series?

EDIT: I've just discovered the hilarious blog Forever Young Adult who cast the main characters in their reviews. If you like this feature, check them out!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Review - I wanna be your Joey Ramone by Stephanie Kuehnert

Summary: (via Goodreads) Punk rock is in Emily Black's blood. Her mother, Louisa, hit the road to follow the incendiary music scene when Emily was four months old and never came back. Now Emily's all grown up with a punk band of her own, determined to find the tune that will bring her mother home. Because if Louisa really is following the music, shouldn't it lead her right back to Emily?

Review: I wanna be your Joey Ramone is the debut novel of Stephanie Kuehnert. At its foundation, it is a coming of age story that highlights the aspects of life that help propel us toward adulthood and the things we must figure out before we can cross that bridge. For Emily, these things are music and her runaway mother, Luisa. She has a strong affinity for both and has decided that the best way to fill the void left by the departure of her mother is by immersing herself in all things punk rock.

With this in mind, Emily manages to create the quintessential pre-rock’n’roll-stardom adolescence for herself. She is brilliant but flawed by her youth, which compels her to try all sorts of destructive habits in abundance: sex, drugs, alcohol. Emily’s reckless lifestyle is shockingly addictive, believable and justifiable. Nobody we know grew up like this—or would have wanted to—yet Emily’s narrative makes it seem possible—attractive even! Kuehnert makes us want to be in Emily’s skin, feeling all the teenage angst, reliving those music-induced highs, and rocking it out with her band (She Laughs). Without having to hear a single note, we become the She Laugh’s first audience, and their first fans.

No matter what happens Emily constantly keeps one thing in mind—Luisa, her idol. In Emily’s head, Luisa is likened to a rock god: she is surrounded by mystery and myth, she is unreachable, and her life is guided solely by music. To help the reader understand more about Luisa, Kuehnert intercuts Emily’s first person narrative with brief third-person narrations describing Luisa’s life. This technique has the interesting effect of supplying information about Luisa while still keeping her estranged. In essence, Luisa’s true feelings are concealed and remain a mystery to us; much like her whole life is a mystery to Emily. But unlike Emily, the reader finds it impossible to idolize Luisa. Instead of living the music-driven life of Emily’s imagination, Luisa is nothing more than a hallow vagabond chased by the ghosts of her violent past. This leads her through her own run of reckless promiscuity and drug abuse, but youth can no longer be an excuse—not after 21 years on the run.

As the story concludes, a reflective look over the lives of Emily and Luisa shows two generations of women whose lives have been ravaged by events beyond their control. By creating such similarities in the lives for both her heroines, Kuehnert seems want to analyze the different healing powers of running away vs. running after one’s problems. Her conclusion is unclear as neither method seems perfectly ideal. What is clear is Kuehnert’s emphasis on the power of family and friends. Ultimately, it’s the longevity of her relationships that allow Emily to find the strength to let go of the past.

Lit Snit Verdict: A

Click here to read the review that inspired me to read this book.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday - Erin & Janelle

This week's WoW (courtesy of Jill at Breaking the Spine!) comes to you from Erin & Janelle!


A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay
St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: September 14, 2010

From Goodreads: This stunning new novel from Tatiana de Rosnay, author of the acclaimed New York Times bestseller Sarah’s Key, plumbs the depths of complex family relationships and the power of a past secret to change everything in the present.

It all began with a simple seaside vacation, a brother and sister recapturing their childhood. Antoine Rey thought he had the perfect surprise for his sister Mélanie’s birthday: a weekend by the sea at Noirmoutier Island, where the pair spent many happy childhood summers playing on the beach. It had been too long, Antoine thought, since they’d returned to the island—over thirty years, since their mother died and the family holidays ceased. But the island’s haunting beauty triggers more than happy memories; it reminds Mélanie of something unexpected and deeply disturbing about their last island summer. When, on the drive home to Paris, she finally summons the courage to reveal what she knows to Antoine, her emotions overcome her and she loses control of the car.

Recovering from the accident in a nearby hospital, Mélanie tries to recall what caused her to crash. Antoine encounters an unexpected ally: sexy, streetwise Angèle, a mortician who will teach him new meanings for the words life, love and death. Suddenly, however, the past comes swinging back at both siblings, burdened with a dark truth about their mother, Clarisse.

Trapped in the wake of a shocking family secret shrouded by taboo, Antoine must confront his past and also his troubled relationships with his own children. How well does he really know his mother, his children, even himself? Suddenly fragile on all fronts as a son, a husband, a brother and a father, Antoine Rey will learn the truth about his family and himself the hard way. By turns thrilling, seductive and destructive, with a lingering effect that is bittersweet and redeeming, A Secret Kept is the story of a modern family, the invisible ties that hold it together, and the impact it has throughout life.

I really enjoyed the author's previous work Sarah's Key, in which she delved into the 1942 round-up of over 10,000 Jews in France, so I'm excited to know that she has another book coming out this fall. Her exploration of  the horrific events of Vel d'Hiv using the parallels of Sarah's life during World War II and an American journalist named Julia kept me capitvated, as their stories began to intersect and we learned more about Sarah and this Parisian tragedy, so I look forward to the story de Rosnay will tell next.


Blameless (The Parasol Protectorate, #3) by Gail Carriger
Orbit Books
Release date: September 1, 2010

From Goodreads:  (I'm giving you the summary for the first in the Parasol Protectorate series because the summaries for the second and third books contain spoilers)

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire -- and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

Steampunk Victorian England? Werewolf detectives? Vampire dandies?  When I first heard of this series it seemed almost too good to be true.  This series, besides have awesome covers that I want to blow up, frame and put on my walls, is just delightful.  I can't believe someone hadn't combined two of my favorite things (Victorian England and the supernatural) before this.  Alexia is a smart, independent woman and a fabulous protagonist, but I have to admit, it's Lord Maccon that has me eagerly awaiting this new book.  I was quite put out with the werewolf and the end of book two and hope he redeems himself in this new book.  I can't wait to see how Carriger delves deeper into the world she's created.  If you haven't read Soulless or Changeless I wholeheartedly recommend you pick them up before September 1st!