Review: Babyville by Jane Green

Title: Babyville
Author: Jane Green
Obtained: borrowed from library
Publisher: Broadway
Format: paperback
Rating: 3/5
Read for: 2011 Chick-Lit Challenge

Meet Julia, a wildly successful television producer who appears to have the picture-perfect life. But beneath the surface, things are not as perfect as they seem. Stuck in a loveless relationship with her boyfriend, Mark, Julia thinks a baby is the answer . . . but she may want a baby more than she wants her boyfriend. Will a trip to New York City with a jet-setting friend—and all the glittering energy and eligible men the city brings—help her discover what she really needs?
Maeve, on the other hand, is allergic to commitment. A feisty, red-haired, high-power career girl, she cherishes her ability to do just as she pleases and breaks out in a rash every time she passes a stroller. But when her no-strings-attached nightlife leads to an unexpected pregnancy, her reaction may be just as unexpected.And then there’s Samantha—happily married and eager to be the perfect June Cleaveresque mother. But baby George brings only exhaustion, extra pounds, and marital strife to her once tidy life. Is having an affair with a friend’s incredibly sexy husband the answer? (goodreads.com)

My Thoughts

The book is broken into three parts: Julia’s story, Maeve’s story, and Sam’s story.

I’ll admit that I got a little frustrated with Julia, whose only focus is having a baby in order to save her relationship. I kept wishing that she would just take a step back and realize that a baby would have probably caused more problems between herself and Mark, but instead she just becomes more and more obsessed until her friend suggests she go to New York for vacation. I was so glad that she went to New York, if only because it was a little rough reading about how jealous Julia was getting when she happened to run into someone at a coffee shop or on the street that had a baby when she couldn’t have one. It was such a relief to see her having fun and not thinking about having a baby.

Maeve’s story overlaps with Julia’s, because when Julia leaves her company to go on an extended vacation in New York, Maeve takes Julia’s place at the company. The summary is a little harsh towards Maeve, who is not necessarily so drastically opposed to having a baby but is just not interested. She is career-driven and a refreshing change from Julia’s baby-obsessed ramblings.

Of course, Maeve doesn’t just take Julia’s place at the office, but seemingly in her old house (in which it is repeatedly said that Julia was not comfortable in such a large house and much preferred a tiny flat) with her old boyfriend. Oh, Maeve. Maeve’s section ends with her in labor, and then it switches.

Sam is the classic over-stressed, bored, stay-at-home mom who wants to go back to work but at the same time doesn’t want to leave her little one with anyone else. She is bored with play dates with other moms with children the same age as little George, and she is frustrated because her husband doesn’t seem to want to help her with their son.

Sam sees an opening when she and her husband agree to have dinner with his co-worker and her husband. He flirts openly with her, and Sam finds herself attracted. I wondered sometimes if it was simply her attraction to the attention, and less to the man himself, that had her worked up into a tizzy. It’s a little heartbreaking to see Sam realize that he is just leading her on, but I was also glad to see that she returns her sights to her husband when she realizes that a fling isn’t what she needs after all.

I sometimes enjoyed the book, and sometimes I didn’t. Maeve’s section is the only one written in first person, and it went by really quickly. I got bogged down in both Julia’s and Sam’s sections, but Sam’s was at least a little more interesting because she learns that she can have a job and be a stay-at-home mom all at once, and she has the extra dilemma of being one of Julia’s best friends and befriending Maeve, whom she initially sees as the enemy but is later glad to have as a friend.

Overall, I’m a little torn about it, but it’s a fun read none-the-less.

Review: Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Title: Lock & Key
Author: Sarah Dessen
Obtained: borrowed from library
Publisher: Viking
Format: hardback
Rating: 4/5
Read for: 2011 Wish I’d Read That Challenge

“Ruby, where is your mother?”
With that question from the social worker, Ruby knows the game is up.
She’s been living alone in the old yellow house, waiting out the months until she turns eighteen and can finally be on her own legally. It certainly wasn’t in her plan to be reunited with Cora, the sister who left ten years before, and brought to live with Cora and her wealthy entrepreneur husband.
Suddenly life is transformed: a luxurious house, private school, new clothes, and even the chance of a future Ruby couldn’t have dreamed of. So why is she wary, unable to be grateful, incapable of letting anyone close. Her old life has been left behind, but where does she fit in this new life? Only Nate, the genial, popular boy next door, seems to understand, perhaps because he’s hiding some secrets of his own. (from dust jacket)

My Thoughts

I’ve never read a Sarah Dessen book before. I see them everywhere I look at books, but I’ve never picked one up, not even to read the back cover. Fortunately, I read the summary for this one and thought it sounded interesting without even seeing the cover. I’m glad I picked this book up. It was touching, and it didn’t come across as cheesy, although it definitely had the potential to do just that.
There was something about Ruby that rubbed me the wrong way, and I’m not sure if I can put my finger on it. Ruby wants to stay in her little yellow house with mildew on her clothes, where half the appliances are broken and where she has to work to pay rent on top of going to school, all because her mother abandons her. Sometimes, I could understand Ruby and her need to stay in her own world–change, especially such a dramatic change, is difficult, and it is compounded by Ruby’s opinion of her sister, Cora. But sometimes, I really didn’t understand why she would rather get black-out drunk above everything else. While she talks a lot about her life with her mom, her life outside her mom, if she had much of one, is a bit more blurry.
Ruby, of course, likes Cora’s husband almost immediately, and I did, too. He’s open and friendly, and I was really glad to see that he had a serious side that went beyond being happy, or serious about business. I was really glad to see that he wasn’t completely one-dimentional.
I had a harder time relating with Nate, probably because I’ve never known anyone in Nate’s situation. It’s a crappy situation, and I love that Ruby wants to help him. I really liked their interactions and that he really seems to like her, despite her need to return to what she knows. I was glad to see that he really wanted to stick by her, and that he was there when she needed him. It really drove home the point that, later in the novel, she wanted him to need her and it hurt her that he didn’t (or, at least, he didn’t want to admit it).
I really liked this book, and I’ll probably be picking up some more books by Sarah Dessen in the future.

Review: Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie

Title: Maybe This Time
Author: Jennifer Crusie
Obtained: borrowed from library
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Format: hardback
Rating: 4/5
Read for: Amazon Best of 2010 Challenge

Blurb (from dust jacket)

Andie Miller is ready to move on with her life. She wants to marry her fiance and leave behind everything in her past, especially her ex-husband, North Archer. But when Andie tries to gain closure with him, he asks one final favor of her. A distant cousin has died and left North the guardian of two orphans who have driven away three nannies already, and things are getting worse. He needs someone to take care of the situation, and he knows Andie can handle anything…
When Andie meets the two children, she realizes the situation is much worse than she feared. Carter and Alice aren’t your average delinquents, and the creepy old house where they live is being run by the worst housekeeper since Mrs. Danvers. Complicating matters is Andie’s fiance’s suspicion that this is all a plan by North to get Andie back. He may be right because Andie’s dreams have been haunted by North since she arrived at the old house. And that’s not the only haunting…
Then her ex-brother-in-law arrives with a duplicitous journalist and a self-doubting parapsychologist, closely followed by an annoyed medium, Andie’s taro card-reading mother, her avenging ex-mother-in-law, and her jealous fiance. Just when Andie’s sure things couldn’t get more complicated, North arrives to make her wonder if maybe this time things could just turn out differently…

Continue reading

Review: Crazy for You by Jennifer Crusie

Title: Crazy for You
Author: Jennifer Crusie
Obtained: purchased
Publisher: St. Martin’s paperbacks
Rating: 5/5
Read for: 2011 Chick-Lit Challenge

Blurb (from back cover)

On Wednesday, Quinn McKenzie changes her life. On Thursday, she tries to get somebody to notice. On Thursday night, somebody does.
Quinn McKenzie has always lived what she calls a “beige” life. She’s dating the world’s nicest guy, she has a good job as a high school art teacher, she’s surrounded by family and friends who rely on her, and she’s bored to the point of insanity. But when Quinn decides to change her life by adopting a stray dog over everyone’s objections, everything begins to spiral out of control. Now she’s coping with dog-napping, breaking and entering, seduction, sabotage, stalking, more secrets than she really wants to know, and two men who are suddenly crazy… for her.

Continue reading

Review: Love @ First Site by Jane Moore

Title: Love @ First Site
Author: Jane Moore
Obtained: borrowed from library
Publisher: Broadway Books
Format: paperback
Rating: 4/5
Read for: 2011 Chick Lit Challenge

Blurb (from back cover)

Spunky, sweet-natured Jessica Monroe is thirty-four years old and perfectly happy being single. Her girlfriends, however, disapprove. And when they secretly place a personal ad on a hot singles Web site on her behalf, Jess is reluctantly hurtled into the topsy-turvy world of online dating. A laugh-out-loud whirlwind of disastrous dates ensues, from Simon, who seems dreamy over e-mail but ditches her at the dinner table, leaving her with the bill, to Graham, a self-described “Ferrari driver” who turns out to be a car salesman–with several (old, fat, bald, creepy, cheap, stuck-up) men in between. When an unforeseen event turns her world upside down, Jess starts to wonder if the qualities she thinks she wants in a man–gorgeous, wildly successful, with a taste for fun and finer things–really are what she ultimately needs…and whether, as a new mystery suitor appears in her e-mail inbox, Cupid has other possibilities up his sleeve.

Continue reading

Review: Baby Proof by Emily Giffin

Title: Baby Proof
Author: Emily Giffin
Obtained: borrowed from library
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Format: paperback
Rating: 3/5
Read for: 2011 Chick Lit Challenge

Blurb (from goodreads.com)

First comes love. Then comes marriage. Then comes…a baby carriage? Isn’t that what all women want? Not so for Claudia Parr. And just as she gives up on finding a man who feels the same way, she meets warm, wonderful Ben. Things seem too good to be true when they fall in love and agree to buck tradition with a satisfying, child-free marriage. Then the unexpected occurs: one of them has a change of heart. One of them wants children after all.
This is the witty, heartfelt story about what happens to the perfect couple when they suddenly want different things. It’s about feeling that your life is set and then realizing that nothing is as you thought it was–and that there is no possible compromise. It’s about deciding what is most important in life, and taking chances to get it. But most of all, it’s about the things we will do–and won’t do–for love.

Continue reading

Review: Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

Title: Bet Me
Author: Jennifer Crusie
Obtained: purchased
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Format: paperback
Rating: 4/5
Read for: 2011 Chick-Lit Challenge

Blurb (from back cover)

Minerva Dobbs knows how to work the odds. Calvin Morrisey always plays to win. But when they face off, neither one is prepared because when real life meets true love, all bets are off.

Minerva Dobbs knows that happily-ever-after is a fairy tale, especially with a man who asked her to dinner to win a bet. Even if he is gorgeous and successful Calvin Morrisey. Cal knows commitment is impossible, especially with a woman as cranky as Min Dobbs. Even if she does wear great shoes and keeps him on his toes. When they say good-bye at the end of their evening, they cut their losses and agree never to see each other again.

But Fate has other plans and it’s not long before Min and Cal meet again. Soon, they’re dealing with a jealous ex-boyfriend, Krispy Kreme donuts, a determined psychologist, chaos theory, a freakishly intelligent cat, Chicken Marsala, and more risky propositions than either of them ever dreamed of. Including the biggest gamble of all–true love.

Continue reading