Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez’s Dirty Girls on Top


Dirty Girls on Top by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez | LibraryThing

Valdes, A. (2008). Dirty girls on top. New York: St. Martin’s Press. 9780312349677

Reasons for Reading : Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez got me hooked on the sucias with The Dirty Girls Social Club. So, I checked out the sequel, Dirty Girls on Top from HCPL.

Summary: (Must Read The Dirty Girls Social Club before starting this book) Las sucias return five years after the end of The Dirty Girls Social Club. Columnist Lauren Fernandez still writes at a Boston paper but can’t choose her men nor hold her liquor well. Ghetto-fabulous Usnavys has a great man and little tomboy at home but also a roving eye. Rebecca found her soulmate in Andre but has yet to realize her dream of parenthood. Sara may appear to have it all together but with her own decorating show on cable but can she resist the charms of her abusive ex-husband Roberto. Chameleon-like rockstar Cuicatl (formerly known as Amber) wakes up to the fact that it’s hard to stay on top. Despite coming out of the closet and living with her partner, Elizabeth is a lonely single parent. All of this begs the question – Can las sucias reunite and withstand all the lemons life has given them?

What I Liked: The first book tied up some loose ends but I wondered about what was happening with las sucias. I think Valdes-Rodriguez answered a number of my questions. Her descriptions render these women quite real and they deal with their issues in realistic ways. I could see these people as though they were in the room with me! While their distinctive voices stand on their own, I appreciated that the author headed each section with the name of the heroine narrating it.

What I Disliked: I mentioned before that I think six were too many. Three or four characters would’ve been great. Perhaps I’m a purest but I didn’t like reading Roberto’s section. This book belongs to las sucias alone! Lastly, I got a little too much detail in some passages. As I’ve noted, Valdes-Rodriguez leaves little to the imagination with her nearly photographic descriptions.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Lana Del Rey – National Anthem – YouTube

Setting : Boston, Los Angeles, New Mexico, Puerto Rico

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Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez’s The Dirty Girls Social Club


The Dirty Girls Social Club: A Novel by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez | LibraryThing

Valdes, A. (2003). The Dirty Girls Social Club. New York: St. Martin’s Press. 9780312313814

 Reasons for Reading : In April, I enjoyed Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez’s Haters. Also, I have been reading more chick  lit lately.  So, I checked out The Dirty Girls Social Club.

 Summary: Six women meet at Boston University. While completely different in looks and personality, they are the only women of Latin descent in the Communications Department. Thus, the six form a strong bond and call their group the Buena Vista Sucia Club also known as The Dirty Girls Social Club. At the beginning of the book, the sucias have been out of college for a few years. They meet each other every six months, rain or shine. These ladies have their ups and downs but always support their sucias. The Dirty Girls Social Club is narrated in the first person, each shedding light on her own life. The sucias are:

 –Lauren, the “caliente” columnist for the local Boston paper whose love live has recently led her to her boyfriend’s closet…to catch him in the act with someone else
–Sara, the perfect wife and mother who’s got it all but who is paying a high price
–Amber, raised a Valley girl without a word of Spanish but who is becoming a huge rock en Español star
–Elizabeth, the stunning black Latina whose TV anchor job conflicts with her intensely private personal life
–Rebecca, hyper-in-command in the world of her glossy magazine, Ella, but totally at sea when it comes to men
–Usnavys, fabulous and larger than life, whose agenda to land the kind of man who can keep her in Manolos almost prevents her finding true love

– From the flap

What I Liked : While brought together by the narrow-mindedness of others, the sucias rise above and show such a devotion to one another that some can only dream of. They’re far from perfect and do ill-advised things but these women are definitely compelling and believable. I felt I could see Lauren, Sara, Amber, Rebecca, Elizabeth, and even Usnavys on the street and in my life. I even visualized some of their faces as those of my friends. I also liked how these women were diverse – Lauren (part-Cuban, part-white  trash), Sara (Cuban Jew), Amber (Valley Girl of Mexican descent), Rebecca (New Mexican Spanish), Elizabeth (Colombian), and Usnavys (Puerto Rican). I also liked how each section was prefaced by passages from Lauren’s column in a Boston newspaper.

What I Disliked : Maybe Valdes-Rodriguez had too many main characters. I think she may have fared better with just four women. Since the narrators alternated from sucia to sucia, I felt some of the stories became cold. Sometimes, I wanted to know about what was happening with one sucia but would be delivered to another. Also, I didn’t care for the very detailed “love scenes.” I like a few things left to the imagination.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Song: El sol de la noche. Salsa céltica. – YouTube

Setting : Boston, Los Angeles, Puerto Rico, Colombia

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Jennifer Close’s Girls in White Dresses


Close, J., & Card, E. J. (2011). Girls in white dresses. New York, NY: Books on Tape/Random House Audio. 9780307939340

Girls In White Dresses by Jennifer Close | LibraryThing

Girls In White Dresses by Jennifer Close | LibraryThing

Reasons for Reading : I desperately sought out another audiobook for my work commute. I spot this on one of the shelving carts.

Summary: Broken into short story-like chapters, author Jennifer Close relays various vignettes about twenty-something single women. The main characters – Isabella, Mary, and Lauren – have much experience as bridesmaids. Throughout Girls in White Dresses, these three and others have the chance to share snippets of their lives.

What I Liked : These stories were pretty humorous. The chapter entitled “Hope” had me laughing my head off when I wasn’t nodding in agreement.

I felt I knew these characters pretty well before the end of the first chapter. I don’t completely identify with these women but I’ve met people similar to these characters.

What I Disliked : This pertains only to the audiobook version – the sole narrator did something weird with her voice when she read Lauren’s parts.

Additionally, it wasn’t always simple to keep track of the who was who in each chapter. Maybe that’s why the narrator gave Lauren an odd voice.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Glee – My Favorite Things (Official Video) – YouTube

Setting : New York City, Chicago, Boston

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Francine Pascal’s Sweet Valley confidential: Ten years later


Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later by Francine Pascal | LibraryThing

Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later by Francine Pascal | LibraryThing

Pascal, F. (2011). Sweet Valley confidential: Ten years later. New York: St. Martin’s Press. 9780312667573

Reasons for Reading : I read the Sweet Valley books when I was in upper-elementary school. While I didn’t consider these books the most edifying literature, I enjoyed the adventures of twin sisters, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. My favorites were The Wakefields of Sweet Valley and The Wakefield Legacy: The Untold Story, which told of the twins’ ancestors. Maybe this foreshadowed my interest in genealogy.

Summary: Creator Francine Pascal revisits the world of Sweet Valley. Everyone is a decade older than when they were last seen. Now, the Wakefield twins aren’t on speaking terms. Elizabeth is pursuing her dream of journalism in New York and avoiding Jessica, who betrayed her. What did Jessica do that pushed the normally merciful and loving Elizabeth away from Sweet Valley? Oh, she just fell into bed with Elizabeth high school sweetheart – Todd Wilkins. Can Elizabeth ever get over such a betrayal?

What I Liked : It was good to see these characters from my girlhood. While I didn’t dislike Jessica, Elizabeth was always my favorite.  

Also, I liked seeing storylines resolved.

What I Disliked : Pascal seemed to think that since this was a book for “adults,” that she needed to make the characters drink, curse, and have lots of sex with various partners. I could understand that Elizabeth was mad at Jessica but she seemed just vile in this book. Oh, and did Alice Wakefield really need to drop the “f-bomb” at grandma’s birthday dinner at the country club?

Then, there were some spelling/grammar errors throughout the book.

One Out of Five Pearls (My lowest rating yet!)

Song: Sweet Valley High (Full Theme Song) by Kathy Fisher – YouTube

Setting : Sweet Valley, California & New York City

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Judy Blume’s Forever. . .


Blume, J. (1975). Forever: A novel. Scarsdale, N.Y: Bradbury Press 9780027110302

Reasons for Reading : I remember loving all the Judy Blume books I read as a child – Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing, Superfudge, Just As Long As We’re Together, etc. As I grew, I read Deenie and It’s Not the End of the World. When I read Wifey as a high school senior, the book scandalized me. From what everyone told me about Forever…, I decided not to try it until November 2011. I requested and checked it out from HCPL.

Summary: When Katherine meets Michael at a New Year’s Eve party thrown by best friend Erica’s cousin, she immediately catches his eye. Soon, the two high school seniors are dating and can’t get enough of each other. Michael wants to “go all the way” with Katherine. Ready for true love, Katherine agrees that their love is a “forever thing” . . . but is it really?

What I Liked : I wish Judy Blume had been my Life Science teacher. She doesn’t back away from the pros and cons of teen sex. The book even began with a note from Blume on how Forever… was published before HIV prevalence. The characters were identifiable, especially narrator Katherine.

What I Disliked : I didn’t care for Michael. I thought he pushed Katherine around the proverbial baseball diamond. Simply put, he pressured her into having sex with him.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Song: The Shirelles – Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow

Setting : New Jersey

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Richard Peck’s Princess Ashley


Princess Ashley by Richard Peck | LibraryThing

Peck, R. (1988). Princess Ashley. New York: Dell. 9780440202066

Reasons for Reading : I remember reading this book in junior high. When I decided I wanted to look at Princess Ashley again, I realized that I would have to request it through Inter-library Loan (ILL).

Summary: Chelsea Olinger begins high school in a new town. She plan to blend in with the wallpaper. Chelsea remains true to this plan until she glimpses Ashley Packard, queen bee of the sophomore class. Shortly, Ashley handpicks Chelsea as a member of her clique. Chelsea can’t believe her luck and ignores the words of wisdom of her mother and devoted friend Pod Johnson regarding Ashley’s true character.

Review : Normally, I don’t care much for male writers telling a female’s story in first person narrative. Yet, I think Peck overcame this pretty well. I appreciated Peck’s description of fads and trends as well. These characters stand out for the familiarity.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Song: Mean Gurl by Gina Rene and Gabriel Rene – YouTube

Setting : I’m guessing somewhere in the Southwest USA.

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Elin Hilderbrand’s Silver Girl


Silver Girl by Elin Hilderbrand | LibraryThing

Hilderbrand, E. (2011). Silver girl: A novel. New York: Little, Brown and Co. 9780316099660

While in England, my roommate gave me a book she just finished. It was Silver Girl. This was the first book I’ve ready by Elin Hilderbrand.

Hilderbrand relates a story of two estranged friends in addition to a tale of a Ponzi schemer. The author gives us two perspectives – that one of Meredith Martin Delinn, the wife of the “Bernie Madoff” character – Freddy Delinn, and her childhood friend Constance “Connie” O’Brien Flute. Forty-nine year old Meredith has lost it all thanks to Freddy cheating rich people out of loads of money. Nobody wants to associate with Meredith and she can’t talk to her grown sons because they’re also implicated in her husband’s crime. Connie’s got problems of her own in addition to the rift between her and Meredith. Then, Connie calls Meredith and the two head out to Nantucket for the summer. Here, Meredith and Connie make way for reconciliation as well as ghosts from the past. Meredith also has to face her old boyfriend, Toby O’Brien, Connie’s brother. 

I found Silver Girl easy to read and the characters realistic. I liked that Hilderbrand offered a point of view such as Meredith’s. Also, I liked that the title was a reference to a song by one of my all-time favorite music acts. I wanted to know more about Connie, though. Also, I was annoyed by how the author stated the characters’ full names. For example:

“The ring had been inherited from her grandmother, Annabeth Martin, and not bought with dirty money.”

“And the way that Meredith knew that Veronica O’Brien drank was because her own parents talked about it. . .

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: ‪Simon and Garfunkel – Bridge Over Troubled Water Original Version‬‏ – YouTube

Setting :  New York City, Nantucket

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