The Bad Behavior of Belle Cantrell by Loraine Despres

belle
http://www.lorainedespres.com

I love books about the south and southern women. There’s something about their strong-willed personalities and their slow, often scandalous way of life, that makes them so intruiging. They can shoot a gun, and bake an pecan pie all in the same afternoon. The Bad Behavior of Belle Cantrell and Despres’ earleir success, The Scandalous Summer of Sissy LeBlanc are two of my all-time favorite southern stories.

The Bad Behavior of Belle Cantrell follows the title character throughout her early adult life in deep southern Louisiana during the 1920s. Belle is a sharp-talking suffragette, who cares more about womens rights and having a good time, than what people in her small community will think about her.

The book opens with the revalation that Belle has killed her husband. The rest of the story follows this scandal, and keeps getting juicier. Belle gets wrapped up in “bad behavior” such as an affair, run-ins with the Ku Klux Klan, and all together “unladylike” antics.

Belle Cantrell becomes that grandmother to Sissy, Despres’ main character in The Scandalous Summer of Sissy LeBlanc which is equally as wonderful, and a must-read after the funny, empowering Belle.

 

My Horizontal Life by Chelsea Handler

www.chelseahandler.com
http://www.chelseahandler.com

We all know Chelsea Handler. You probably know her as the hilarious comedienne and host of her own late-night E! talk show, Chelsea Lately. But did you know that this same comedic genius is also an author? Yes, you heard me, Cheslsea can write. And she can actually write really well. She currently has two books, My Horizontal Life and Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea. Both are very similar in their structure and content, but My Horizontal Life is her lesser known, and funnier, first one.

I started reading this book after I found it on my old roommate’s bookshelf about 2 1/2 years ago, before Chelsea Handler had launched her show and really taken off. I remembered laughing at her on Girls Behaving Badly and some various E! specials she commented in, so I decided to give it a try. I fell in love with her sarcastic, messed up sense of humor, and instantly became a fan. Handler’s writing is absolutely as hysterical as her stand-up, and her form of storytelling will rope you in and not let you go, until you can’t see the words on the page because of tears from laughter.

The full title of the book is My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands, and it is just that. Handler chronicles her life…or should I say sex life…and the many men she has…conquered in her lifetime. Her experiences range from ones with men of all ethnicities, and sizes. In the dirty and literal sense of the word. My favorite story is one of her encounter with a little person, or “little nugget” as she so-lovingly refers to him (NOT Chuy…at least I don’t think.)

Although the book does not follow a set plot, there really is no need for one. You can pick up at any chapter and it’s like it’s own mini story-inside-a-story. It’s the perfect book to grab and read in between classes, waiting for a doctor’s appointment, at your own leisure.

If you’ve easily offended by sexual humor, explicit language, and raunchy jokes, please do not read this book.
If you’ve got a great sense of humor and love a good laugh, purchase this immediately.

Little Altars Everywhere by Rebecca Wells

www.rebeccawellsbooks.com
http://www.rebeccawellsbooks.com

Little Altars Everywhere by Rebecca Wells usually plays second string to it’s sister book, The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. And while I also like the more famous book better than this one, this is still definitely worth reading, especially if you plan on reading ‘Ya-Ya.’  If you read ‘Ya-Ya’ without reading ‘Altars,’ you’ll still know what’s going on, but reading this book first really makes it better, as it sets up the scene, and introduces you to the characters.

Little Altars Everywhere follows the Louisiana childhood of Siddalee, who is the daughter of one of the main characters in The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. It is given through various points of view, including Sidda’s, her brothers, younger sister, father, and housekeeper. Siddalee’s childhood is rocky, and it is mostly attributable to her mother. Vivi has numerous personal and psychological issues, as well as a bad addiction to alcohol, and often abuses her children…way more than just emotionally. She is self-centered, mean, flamboyant, and the only way her husband deals with her, is by running away. It is hard, if not impossible, to feel any sympathy toward Vivi Abbott in this book. But that is what makes ‘Ya-Ya’ so wonderful.

This book sets up the reasons for the strained relationship that Siddalee and her mother have in The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, and also explains Sidda’s reasons for wanting to leave Louisiana and never go back. While Little Altars Everywhere is at times a strain to read, and the plot rolls along very slowly, it is worth it because of how incredible of a book ‘Ya-Ya’ is.

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

www.sophiekinsella.com
http://www.sophiekinsella.com

While I am not a huge fan of Sophie Kinsella’s best known book (and movie) Confessions of a Shopaholic, her other books, not in the ‘Shopaholic’ series are excellent. Warning: these are complete fluff books. They are fast, smooth reads, usually very predictable, and all with happy endings. However, if you need something quick to get through and put yourself in a good mood, Kinsella is your go-to girl.

The Undomestic Goddess is about successful attorney Samantha whose busy life is based solely on her law career. She can’t imagine her life without power, money, and success. But when she realizes a simple mistake she made at work one day, she enters a chaotic frenzy, and leaves her job, her home, and her life, without a word, and with no idea where she is going.

Samantha randomly ends up at the home of Trish and Eddie Geiger, who mistake her for the new hired help; their maid. Samantha is, as the title suggests, quite un-domestic, this being an understatement. She cannot cook. clean, iron, or do laundry. But she realizes it is too late for her to go back to her previous life and clean up her mess, so she decides to stay at the Geiger’s and attempts to become the housekeeping goddess they believer her to be.

Samantha quickly falls in love with more than just her adopted family and their breezy way of life–their hunky gardener Nathaniel becomes Samantha’s companion, and accesory in her deception.

But when the press gets news of the once powerful attorney who is now cleaning toilets and washing windows, they ambush Samantha and expose her secret to the Geigers. Will Samantha return to her previous world and pursue her dreams of making it as partner at her law firm, or will she decide that living the simply life is more than meets the eye?

Although rather cliche and fairy-tale-like, The Undomestic Goddess keeps a few twists hidden up its sleeves for the ending of the book. It is a story that will help you realize that although your dreams and aspirations and important to keep, don’t ever let them keep you from true happiness.

I’ve heard rumors and seen posts on other blogs that The Undomestic Goddess has been bought by Universal and it in in the works to become a movie. Hopefully this turns out to be true, and it becomes as big of a hit as ‘Shopaholic’–it’s a much better story!

Paperback Swap

I don’t know about you, but it’s very rare that I re-read a book a second or third time. And I tend to go through books fairly quickly. I usually buy a book, read it through once, and then that’s it. The book will sit on my bookshelf collecting dust for years, until a friend borrows it, or I simply get rid of it. With each paperback book costing around $15 at Borders or Barnes & Noble, this seems to be such a waste of money–a lost investment. books

While the library is often a great alternative to purchasing books, I still run into problems with this choice. First, my local library doesn’t get many new women’s fiction books in very often, so the selection is usually limited. Secondly, while this is a great way to obtain new books, it doesn’t do anything to the ones you already own.

I have found a solution: PaperBack Swap.

I first heard about the program on The Today Show (yes, I’m a news nerd) and I’ve also heard it was featured on Oprah, so you know it must be good. Basically, PaperBack Swap is a program that allows you to trade your used, read books for other ones you’d like to read.

First, visit www.paperbackswap.com and sign up. Next, you post information on the books you own that you are willing to trade with members of the site. You must post your own books in order to receive credits, and you can use each credit to request a book.

You can search through the website to find your book of interest, and PaperBack Swap has an EXCELLENT selection. Virtually every book or author that I have searched has been in the site’s collection. When you find a book you want, you simply order it and it will be shipped to your address. You can keep the book as long as you want, or you can read it, and post it right back on the site to share with someone else.

The only time you have to pay is when someone requests to order one of your books. If you get a request, you simply pay for the shipping costs. Shipping for a paperback book should only be around $5 at the most, so you’re still saving, on average, $10 per  book. What a deal!

This program is especially helpful in today’s day. It is a great way to save money in our troubled economy, and also a fun way to go green and recycle your good reads!

Watermelon by Marian Keyes

www.mariankeyes.com
http://www.mariankeyes.com

Marian Keyes is by far my favorite chick-lit author. Although she is an Irish author, her books carry themes that are applicable to women of locations. Watermelon is the first of four books that chronical the lives of the Walsh sisters, a group of five very different women who all share a common love for one another.

In this book, we meet Claire, the eldest of the girls. When Claire gives birth to her first child, she thinks that her life is the fairy-tale she’s always dreamed of. Until her husband, James, tells her he wants a divorce. Before she’s even left the maternity ward.

Abandoned new-mother Claire and her fatherless daughter are forced to move back to Dublin, and back in with her not-so-peaceful family. She falls into a deep depression, and her family tiptoes around the issue of James as if on eggshells. Claire struggles to get back to the normal way of life, with  a little help from Momma Walsh and her younger sisters, Helen and Anna (who later stars in her own novel.) The Walsh women provide Claire with shoulders to cry on, and eventually a lot of tough love, until she renews her life for the sake of her daughter, and her sanity.

Marian Keyes handles the serious issues of life and love that Claire encounters with a sensitive, yet often comical touch. The squabbles and triumphs of the Walsh women resemble so closely those of an everyday family, and will leave you wanting to read up on the next Walsh sister’s own story.

I highly reccommend all of Marian Keyes’ books for those of you looking for a feminine book with a little more substance. All of her books are great, but if you’d like to read the Walsh sister’s tales, begin with Watermelon first, as to not spoil the plots of the others.

*Note: The link on the picture takes you to Marian Keyes’ official Ireland based website. To see the U.S. versions of her book covers, go to http://www.mariankeyesbooks.com.