30 March 2010

Beautiful People

By Wendy Holden
Published by Headline Review
First published in 2009

This is the tenth book written by Wendy Holden. This is the ninth book I have read by Wendy Holden (I can't seem to get hold of "Gossip Hound"). Holden's style of chick-lit is mixed with social commentary, an exaggeration of the British upper class, and character names that crack me up (Champagne D'Vyne, Totty Ponsonby-Pratt, Hugh Faugh, Venetia Bothamley-Tartt). She is snarky, hilarious, and able to put together a good story from a cast of thousands.

"Beautiful People" is a mixture of Hollywood agents, actors, directors, British MPs, nannies, and adorable children. No wonder the book is 695 pages!

In Hollywood, the biggest movie of all time, "Galaxia", is about to be made. Actors need to be hired which, of course, involves more than just acting ability. Who is hot right now, who is thin right now, are things to be considered. In Britain, nannies need to be hired to take care of children for the upper classes. This requires not so much a degree in child care as it does a connection to the Lords of the Realm; the more prestigious your nanny, the better.

As all the beautiful people intermingle, an interesting story unfolds of how people are treated differently based on their looks, their weight, and their accents.

Told with all the sarcasm and snide remarks she can muster, Holden takes us from Hollywood, to the UK, to Italy, all the while making us wonder why the beautiful people of the world really are treated differently from the rest of us.

10 March 2010

The One-Week Job Project

By Sean Aiken
Published by the Penguin Group
April 2010

So, what do you do for a job when you don't know what to do for a job? If you're Sean Aiken you decide to try fifty-two jobs in one year. Like the book says one man, one year, fifty-two jobs. This is how Aiken believes he will discover his passion.

For the most part, the book is fun - Aiken outlines each of the fifty-two jobs and where he travelled to get them. Among other jobs, he was the mascot for the Washington Capitals, a yoga instructor, a film producer, a firefighter, a radio deejay. Some stats: during the fifty-two weeks he travelled 46,685 miles, hitchhiked 17 times, received 204 job offers, and had 24 plane trips.

Aiken takes a friendly approach with the reader; like he's sitting in your living room telling you about his travels. What makes Aiken and the book even more likeable is his willingness to tell you about his personal life along the way. To me, this was possibly the more interesting part of the book. Sure, I wanted to know about the types of jobs he took on, but I also wanted to know how he felt about each job, the friends he made along the way, and how this quest impacted him personally.

Did Aiken find his passion? What's he doing now? How did his personal life turn out? I make it a practice not to run a spoiler site. You'll have to buy the book yourself and check it out.

09 March 2010

Love Nest

By Julia Llewellyn
Published by the Penguin Group
April 2010

Let's start at the same place the book does - the prelude. I thought this was the set-up for the book; however, it only set up one story and that story turned out to be the least interesting of the book. Grace is at her mother's funeral and learns she has to sell the family home. But wait, Grace is lonely (because she is fat); she had a poisonous relationship with her mother (because she is fat); she has low self-esteem (because she is fat); everyone looks down on her (because she is fat). Cliched, to say the least.

But, that particular storyline aside, Llewellyn has written a good book of buying and selling real estate and the stories of the families involved in the transactions. Grace doesn't want to sell her childhood home in the country, Chadlicote Manor, but Karen's husband, Phil, is desperate for it after battling with cancer and wanting to make a fresh start. Gemma and Alex want Karen and Phil's home because they want to start a family and feel a home just outside London would be better than Phil's bachelor flat. Up and coming rock star, Nick, wants the bachelor flat and plans to buy it without telling his long-time girlfriend so he can dump her as soon as the sale goes through. Lucinda is the real estate agent who wants to work at her wealthy father's business but has to prove to her father she has the business skills to do so.

All in all, in the great realm of chick-lit, this is a good book. The stories are interesting, one story flows seamlessly into another, and the balance of love and hate the reader feels toward the characters is in good proportion.

Recommended for all those who are looking for something a little bit different in the field of women's literature.