Fabulous Fiction Firsts #281

Jennifer Close's debut novel Girls in White Dresses * is a perfect way to wrap up a lovely summer, like putting on your favorite frock just one more time.

"Wickedly hilarious and utterly recognizable, Girls in White Dresses tells the story of three women grappling with heartbreak and career change, family pressure and new love—all while suffering through an endless round of weddings and bridal showers." You get the picture.

Sunday after Sunday, Isabella, Mary, and Lauren in their pastel dresses, attend bridal shower after bridal shower, drink champagne, eat minuscule sandwiches and doll-sized cakes, all the while thinking when-it-would-be-their-turn.

"Close's novel in a series of linked stories, expresses the perfect blend of mid twenties angst, collegiate nostalgia, and plentiful laughter."

For fans of Melissa Bank's The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing and J. Courtney Sullivan's Commencement (in audio)

* = Starred review

(My) Fabulous Fiction Firsts #247

For someone who is eternally looking for the next Chick Lit. read, I have no idea how Jill Mansell gets by me. Mind you, not once, but 3 times. But I will be making up for lost time.

Charming and cheery, Staying at Daisy's (originally published in the UK, 2002) was just the thing to ward off the lingering winter chill and the incessant sleet and snow.

In this "screwball romantic comedy" set at a posh hotel in picturesque Bristol, Daisy MacLean handily juggles the hospitality business, misbehaving guests, an odd assortment of staff and the embarrassing excuse for an owner who happens to her father; but is leery and tentative with rich, successful (and very hot) former rugby player Dev Tyzack who might just be pursuing her romantically.

Daisy's personal history, small town secrets, serendipity and surprises enrich the plot, add to the humor, and heighten the suspense, making it a "clever, absorbing, and very enjoyable read".

For fans of British Katie Fforde; Madeleine Wickham; and Isabel Wolff who enjoy lighthearted, contemporary women's fiction.

Teen Stuff: The Crafty Girl's Guides to Almost Everything

Are your everyday items becoming a little too ordinary? Does your calculator need some sparkle to its numbers? Is your handbag looking lifeless these days? Good news: the Crafty Girl series has a solution (more like hundreds of them) to all of these problems. Author Jennifer Traig is fantastic at transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary with easy-to-follow steps for the crafty girl looking for some daily inspiration. Each book in the Crafty Girl series is dedicated to making one part of your life really sizzle, from Beauty to Accessories to Hair. Happy crafting!

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #201

Zoe Fishman's Balancing Acts is timely, warm-fuzzy, and it strikes the right balance in exploring the themes of friendship and self-empowerment.

Fishman is timely for taking on yoga as a lifestyle as well as a cultural phenomenon among the young urban professionals. Recent New York Times articles discussed yoga being the "must-have" amenity in any self-respecting hotel chains in Rolling Out the Yoga Mat. In When Chocolate And Chakras Collide – yoga for foodies sessions are not just popular in NYC, they are coming to a restaurant near you.

Many attribute yoga's popularity to the harsh economy and the disillusionment of the dot-com generation. (See Hard Times are Jamming the Ashrams). In Balancing Acts when Charlie decides to leave her high-paying job as a Wall Street banker to open her own yoga studio, her biggest worry is finding enough customers to keep her business afloat. At her college's 10-year reunion, she reconnects with Naomi, Sabine, and Bess and signs them up for beginning yoga. Many shared oms and Adho Mukha Svanasanas later, they learn to lean on their friendship and newly found confidence as they deal with heartbreaks, disappointments and make positive changes in their lives.

"Fishman combines humor and brutal honesty as she keeps four story lines going and tracks the growing friendship among the women". A debut not to be missed. (Read an interview with Zoe). Zoe Fishman has strong ties to the Ann Arbor community. We are hoping for an author visit this fall.

Readalikes: A Fortunate Age and Everyone is Beautiful for the female friendship/reunion elements. How to be Single and Smart Girls Like Me for single girl/self-empowerment issues.

Austen on PBS

Jane Austen's mixed up matchmaker is back. This season PBS's Masterpiece Classic will be airing an all new production of Emma January 24 - February 7 at 9pm. Full episodes of Emma are available to watch online and the library has also ordered several copies on DVD. You might also want to revisit the A&E version of Emma starring Kate Beckinsale or the 1996 version with Gwyneth Paltrow.

Later in February, Masterpiece Classic will also be airing presentations of Persuasion, which the library already carries on DVD and Northanger Abbey (Austen's parody of the Gothic novel) .

Commencing the Menses

If you're particularly squeamish and don't like to hear about that "female problem," then skip this post and Rachel Kauder Nalebuff's new book My Little Red Book. But if you're up for a little humor, a little sympathetic cringing, check out this new arrival. Nalebuff, who will be an undergraduate student at Yale this coming fall, has compiled anecdotes from diverse women--from different nations, backgrounds, and professions--about their first periods. Now, I always take issue with the way that chick lit depicts women as NYC natives, stylish, single, glamorous, successful, and brand-conscious shopaholics. So, it's refreshing to see an anthology about women from all walks of life, recounting an experience that almost every women lives through--her first period. Every girl's got a story about "surfing the crimson wave" for the first time. And Nalebuff's collected a bunch of them! It'll definitely be interesting to see how the women represented in Nalebuff's book will refer to their "Aunt Flo."

February Books to Films

Sophie Kinsella's bestseller Confessions of a Shopaholic is now a chick flick that would appeal to retail-therapy addicts who won't mind a bit of humor at our expense. Shopping on Madison Avenue is almost as much fun as the original London setting.

Fresh from winning the ultimate Newbery Award, one of Neil Gaiman's earlier novels comes to the silver screen as a delightful animated feature Coraline. While looking for excitement, young Coraline ventures through a mysterious door into a strange world where she must challenge a gruesome entity in order to save herself, her parents, and the souls of three others. The novel was a New York Times Bestseller, Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2002 and School Library Journal Best Book of 2002.

Based on the wildly popular He's Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt, this potential blockbuster tells the stories of a group of interconnected, Baltimore-based twenty- and thirtysomethings as they navigate their various relationships "from the shallow end of the dating pool through the deep, murky waters of married life", trying to read the signs of the opposite sex. With a star-studded cast, it is sure to please the movie-date crowd.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants: Audiobook

When four best friends find a pair of pants that magically fit all their very different shapes they make a pact to share them over their first summer apart...

The audio opens with music but otherwise has no special effects but the reader, Angela Goethals, gives each girl a compelling voice (even if they aren't always distinctive enough to tell apart). I actually laughed out loud to Goethal's animation at things that I would have only smiled at had I simply read it which is always the sign of a good reader.

You can also check out the book or film from our library.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #111

The History of Lucy’s Love Life in Ten and a Half Chapters is fun, fluffy and fantastical.

29 year-old commitment-phobic Lucy is staring at the prospect of a perfect life with dishy and nice Anthony (with whom she had 400 plus one-night stands) and chucks it all, wondering if there’s something better on the horizon.

Sacked from her pointless job and bored, an errant time machine sends Lucy on a dating frenzy with bad boy Lord Byron, Leonardo da Vinci, Ovid and Casanova (a sweet guy, really). It’s a thrill ride but there’s also a lesson to be learned. The question is… Is Lucy ready for it?

This British chick lit./fantasy/romantic comedy is the first to be published in the United States by Deborah Wright, a graduate of Oxford University with three best-selling novels in the U.K.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #109

In Girls in Trucks we first meet Sarah Walters and her Camellia (Society) girls at the Charleston Cotillion School for future debutantes. Then come the Ivy League college days and the decade as single girls in the big city. We watch as they make consistent bad choices about men, drugs and alcohol, falling short of the Camellia Society ideal (no riding in shiny red trucks with boys), and in danger of totally missing out on a chance for happiness.

Told in the linked-short-story format, Katie Crouch’s “exceptional, stylish debut” is distinguished by its “gentle humor and sharp observation couched in straightforward prose with none of the preening preciosity so often seen in Southern fiction.”

Fresh, heartwarming and engaging, it reminds one of Melissa Bank’s The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing and The Last Girls by Lee Smith.

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