Top Ten Tuesday: Underrated Books I Enjoyed

2000 rating

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is interesting, because it’s all about the books that don’t get enough love. Out of all the novels that I’ve kept track of reading on the ultimate literary social platform Goodreads, I’m supposed to choose my top ten with fewer than 2,000 ratings.

Unfortunately, it seems that my favorite books are also everyone else’s, so finding these diamonds in the rough was more difficult than I expected (hence why I’ve reduced my top ten to my top five!).

That said, there is a lot of diversity in this list, from junkie thriller to geeky romance. There’s historical fiction, a modern retelling of a classic novel, and even a two-sided love story. So pick the book less traveled and enjoy!

Bait by J. Kent Messum
590 Goodreads ratings: avg. 3.4 stars
My rating: 3 stars

The Gendarme by Mark T. Mustian
1,467 Goodreads ratings: avg. 3.68 stars
My rating: 3 stars

Gilded Age by Claire McMillan
730 Goodreads ratings: avg. 3.08 stars
My rating: 3 stars

The Thorn and the Blossom by Theodora Goss
823 Goodreads ratings: avg. 3.3 stars
My rating: 4 stars

Talk Nerdy to Me by Vicki Lewis Thompson
1,454 Goodreads ratings: avg. 3.78 stars
My rating: 4 stars

Top Ten Books When You Just Want to Laugh

Image by The Broke and the Bookish

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, has us talking about moods. There’s a book for every emotion your heart desires: anger, sadness, and even fear (Side note: Why in the world do people like to feel terrified? I will never understand you, horror fans!)

So what should someone read if she just wants to laugh? Here is my list of my top ten funniest books–and if you can get them on audio, even better!

PicMonkey Collage 1

Celebrity memoirs

  1. Tina Fey, Bossypants
  2. Amy Poehler, Yes Please
  3. Chelsea Handler, Uganda Be Kidding Me
  4. Mindy Kaling, Why Not Me?
  5. Nora Ephron, I Feel Bad About My Neck

PicMonkey Collage 2

Love, lunacy, and LOLs

  1. Jenny Lawson, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened
  2. Alida Nugent, Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse
  3. Sophie Kinsella, I’ve Got Your Number
  4. Vicki Lewis Thompson, Talk Nerdy to Me
  5. Mallory Ortberg, Texts from Jane Eyre

So which books have you rolling on the floor laughing? Recommendations are always welcome!

Movie Review: Some Like It Hot

Rating: 4 out of 5

If you guessed my birthday, you would be correct! I’m officially 24, transitioning from my “Screwing up is encouraged” early twenties to “Maybe we should get it together?” mid twenties.

And while I don’t always feel like a full-fledged adult–given that I ate pizza for breakfast today and am still on my family’s cell phone plan–I also don’t think that milking my metabolism and rollover minutes is the end of the world.

I mean, it’s days like my birthday where I’m actually proud of myself. I’ve got a Master’s degree and a great job, with enough money to save, invest, and pay my crazy expensive rent and student loan.

I’ve also got a loving family and fantastic friends who threw me an Old Hollywood-themed birthday party! We made martinis and margaritas, stuffed ourselves with Chinese food, and played fun games.

Did your bday party have a "Wuthering Heights" guestbook?

Did your bday party have a “Wuthering Heights” guestbook?

We also watched Billy Wilder’s “Some Like It Hot” (1959). This film is set in 1929 and stars Marilyn Monroe as Sugar “Kane” Kowalczyk, a young woman in a female band called “Sweet Sue and her Society Syncopators,” which is headed to Miami.

Actors Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon play Joe and Jerry respectively, two Chicago musicians on the run after they accidentally witness the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre. To escape the mob, they dress up as Josephine and Daphne and board the Syncopators’ train.

Image via The Guardian

Of course, with Monroe being the blonde bombshell that she is, both men compete for her affections–which is difficult and hilarious while they’re dressed as women. I won’t give anything away, but it’s definitely a fun flick to watch with your girlfriends.

I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised with “Some Like It Hot.” I’ve never been one to glorify Monroe, but I had read and seen “My Week with Marilyn.” I’ve also decided to watch more classic films, but have been mostly disappointed so far. I guess I’ll just to have to accept that I don’t understand what all the fuss is about over Audrey Hepburn. So while I may not want my breakfast at Tiffany’s, “Some Like It Hot” was full of crazy antics and funny one-liners.

And if you’re wondering why a book blogger is writing a review of this film, then check out my last post where I reviewed “Nerds Like It Hot” by Vicki Lewis Thompson. In the book, Thompson alters the plot: Instead of the male leads running from the Mafia, it’s the female protagonist with the hit on her. And to further her disguise, she puts on a blonde wig and dresses up as Marilyn herself.

On its own, “Nerds Like It Hot” wasn’t the best read from Thompson, but I appreciated this movie even more because it was fun to compare the two stories. This was the first film I watched of Marilyn, not just about her, and I’m glad that I did. I’d love to hear what you think of the actress–and would appreciate more classic movie recommendations to add to my list!

Lastly, thanks to everyone who’s been following this blog. It’s been a blast being Book Club Babe, and I hope to continue doing so for many more birthdays!


Book Review: Nerds Like It Hot

Cover via Goodreads

Rating: 2 out of 5

Hey everybody! I’ve finally got a break from traveling for a few days–that is, before I head back to my hometown to spend my birthday with family and friends. But I might have to blow out my candles wishing for a better read, since this last book was a disappointment.

I’ve been a fan of romance novelist Vicki Lewis Thompson for years now, having read six of the eight stand-alone novels in her Nerd series (Check out my reviews of My Nerdy Valentine and Gone With the Nerd).

In Nerds Like It Hot, Hollywood makeup artist Gillian McCormick witnesses a murder, and to avoid being eliminated by the mob, she goes into hiding on a cruise for single geeks.

By her side is former actress Cora Bledsoe, who makes Gillian over to be the spitting image of her friend Marilyn Monroe. And guarding Gillian are two private investigators, Dante Fiorello and Lex Manchester.

Despite being hunted down by the Mafia, Gillian and Lex manage to grow fond of each other. Unlike in other Thompson novels, their sexual tension builds extremely quickly, which eliminates the anticipation that makes romance novels successful.

Not to mention, their first love scene ends just as rapidly as it began! I’ll just say that if there’s one thing required of a male lead, it’s stamina. Talk about frustrating!

What’s also frustrating is the forced emotional obstacles that Gillian places on her relationship with Lex. First, for some reason she believes that no man would love her plain Jane brunette exterior after disguising herself as a Marilyn Monroe, blonde bombshell. Someone needs to inform this makeup artist that true beauty lies on the inside.

Also, she frequently harps on the fact that she’s a Cancer and he’s an Aries, as if that means anything. Any woman who throws a hissy fit over astrological incompatibility doesn’t deserve the brain she was born with. Enough with the stupid pseudoscience!

Lastly, even though the dangerous criminal was unique and hilarious, the novel suffers from the too-easily-solved plot of the romance genre. I like knowing that there will always be a happy ending, but authors should try their best to make the suspense believable.

With the Nerd novels, I expect geeky, sexy fun. Unfortunately, the characters aren’t nearly geeky enough (good grades does not a nerd make), the sex was often awkward, and any fun that occurred was only thanks to the secondary characters with little screen time.

Perhaps I’ll appreciate this story more after watching the film, “Some Like It Hot” at my Old Hollywood-themed birthday party, as I’m sure Thompson threw more nods to Monroe than I was able to catch.

But for now, I just might be outgrowing the Nerd series. If anyone has better romance novel recommendations, let me know!

Book Review: My Nerdy Valentine

Rating: 3 out of 5

Vicki Lewis Thompson’s Nerd series is one of my favorites among romance novels. They’re just as fluffy and predictable as other love stories, but instead of all the controlling vampires and the clueless victims who fall for them that you see in the genre, they depict hard-working, talented women and intellectually stimulating men. Of Thompson’s seven stand-alone novels in this series, My Nerdy Valentine is the fifth that I’ve read (You can read my review of Gone with the Nerd here.)

Unfortunately, My Nerdy Valentine was not as nerdy as I wanted it to be. Thompson’s other books have featured introverted, fashion-inept electrical and software engineers, but stockbroker William Sloan’s only perceivable nerdy traits were an embarrassing hat and a love for trivia. He wasn’t portrayed as having a supermodel’s body, but that’s easy to dismiss since he’s certainly not lacking in sexual abilities.

William’s leading lady Amanda Rykowsky is an intern for a prominent sex therapist, so their “meet cute” occurs when Amanda runs into William after a sex toy shopping excursion, thus spilling her collection in the hall of their building. If this racy premise sounds intriguing, you’d be disappointed: although Amanda’s job creates sexual tension throughout the novel, the two don’t seal the deal until two-thirds of the way in. And not once do they actually use any of Amanda’s “office supplies!” For a romance novel, talk about disappointing!

Thompson always inserts a mysterious antagonist into her stories, but this time, there’s no mystery about it. In the weeks before Valentine’s Day, Amanda starts getting creepy cards and voicemails from a secret valentine, so William offers to be her pretend boyfriend to protect her. Despite the cliche, what’s more of a bummer is that the reader knows who the perpetrator is all along. I preferred the novels where Thompson at least attempts to make things suspenseful.

Overall, it’s a decent escapist read for the V-Day season, but I’d recommend Nerd in Shining Armor and Nerd Gone Wild if you’re interested in trying Thompson for the first time. I’d also appreciate any suggestions to other romance novels if you’ve got them!

2011 Book Review Catch-Up: Part 2

The new year is less than a week away, and I still have four books to review before I present my complete ratings list. So let’s just jump right in, shall we? Today I wanted to review two romance novels: Gone with the Nerd by Vicki Lewis Thompson and The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan.

Image via Open Library

Gone with the Nerd (Rating: 4 out of 5)

I’m not a big reader of romance novels, especially not the embarrassing bodice-rippers with shirtless guys on the covers. But you haven’t read Thompson’s Nerd series, you’re in for a real treat. Currently seven stand-alone novels, the series focuses on women attracted to geeky computer programmers and engineers instead of princes and vampires. Gone with the Nerd, published in 2005, follows the sexual tension between actress Zoe Tarleton and her attorney Flynn Granger. Determined to nab some more serious roles, Zoe travels to California’s Bigfoot country so she can secretly rehearse her lines as a dowdy chemist. Flynn offers to go over lines with her, but what happens when their chemistry jumps off the pages? And what about all the mysterious accidents that keep occurring, including the poisoned food and killer bees? Granted, the plot’s predictable and the dialogue’s cheesy, but the love scenes are ultra-hot and Thompson always promises a happy ending. I also recommend Nerd in Shining Armor, Talk Nerdy to Me, and Nerd Gone Wild.

Image via The New Yorker

The Lover’s Dictionary (Rating: 4 out of 5)

Calling this a romance novel is a bit misleading, but it’s an excellent tale of love and loss. From the author famous for Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and published earlier this year, it’s a unconventional story showing the rise and fall of the narrator’s relationship through word entries like a dictionary. Each letter of the alphabet can have multiple entries, which vary in length from a few pages to a single sentence. You never learn everything about their lives together, but you piece together their ups-and-downs all while learning new vocabulary! Written in a non-linear style, it’s a refreshing take on the person-meets-person plot (it’s even ungendered for universality). Beware, at only 224 pages, you’ll finish this book in one sitting. So wish it could have been a longer read!

One of my favorite entries: autonomy, n. “I want my books to have their own shelves,” you said, and that’s how I knew it would be okay to live together.

So if you’re interested in some good, not-old-fashioned love stories, check out these two. And be sure to read my final catch-up mini-review tomorrow!