Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen -- Sarah is a recent discovery, and I already can't wait to read more of her talent! "Garden Spells" was a complete storytelling experience, with fully-developed characters, family drama, and a happy ending. Her novel is cozy and familiar, but with the addition of magic to make the plot unique. If you like the writing of Fannie Flagg or Billie Letts (and I like them both), you will enjoy Sarah Addison Allen, I'm sure.
My Miserable Lonely Lesbian Pregnancy by Andrea Askowitz -- SUCH A FUNNY TRUE STORY. I don't even want children of my own (and the play-by-play of her labour didn't make me change my mind!), but I loved reading this journal. Andrea doesn't mince words when it comes to her pregnancy, and she documents every mood swing in a hilarious way.
The Great Betrayal by Millenia Black -- I liked her first novel better, The Great Pretender, a story about a man living a double life. You know he's going to get caught, and I kept turning the pages, wondering how it was going to happen. The Great Betrayal...well, the reader discovers the betrayal fairly early on (or so you think.) By the time of the "shocking!" grand finale, unfortunately I didn't much care about any of the characters, so the end was underwhelming.
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain -- I never, never, never want to be a chef! This memoir is worth reading for the chapter titled "A Day in the Life" alone, which left me utterly exhausted.
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot -- Really fun! I was pleasantly surprised to note the differences between the book and the movie, mainly, that I was a lot more sympathetic to book character Mia and her persistent teenage awkwardness because there was more time in the book to develop what she perceives as her dorky qualities. "My haircut looks like a Yield sign and I have feet like skis." I also liked the random diary entries devoted to her homework assignments and her penchant for making lists.
Rachel's Holiday by Marian Keyes -- I've said it before, I love Marian Keyes. It is a goal to read all of her novels. When she's on, she knocks it out of the park (Angels, Anybody Out There.) Other times, she just meanders around, adding a bunch of extra scenes that do nothing to move the plot forward. Then you're on chapter 38 before you realize there's still forty more to go! Rachel's Holiday dragged and dragged and dragged.
The God of Animals by Aryn Kyle -- This was...an okay book? Just okay. I mean, I finished it. And the depiction of an adolescent girl coming-of-age was great. I just kept thinking that there was going to be more, but maybe the novel was meaning to depict the dull, daily routine of farm life, of living paycheck-to-paycheck. It made me tired, too tired to really be affected by the violence in the last act.
Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster -- The true-story of an arrogant, self-centered, egotistical woman who loses her high-paying job. And in the first chapters, she really comes across as arrogant, self-centered and egotistical! So much so that I thought, "Why am I reading this?" But halfway through the book, I realized that I was thinking of her as "sassy", "spirited" and "spunky." I don't really know how this happened, but now I want to read her next memoir.
Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane -- THIS IS AN AMAZING NOVEL AND EVERYONE MUST READ IT. At first, I was frustrated. For the first while, it's nothing but descriptions of the land, the water, the sky, and rain, rain, rain. Borrrr-rrrring. BUT THEN IT BECOMES AMAZING!!! I stayed up many, many hours past my bedtime to read it all in one night! (It has been a long time since I've done that, lemme just say.)