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Reviews Written by
momazon "cjd" (Astoria, NY USA)

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Jerk (Full Screen)
Jerk (Full Screen)
DVD ~ Steve Martin
Offered by boutiquecinemaniac,com
Price: CDN$ 19.95
9 used & new from CDN$ 2.73

4.0 out of 5 stars weirdly funny, April 23 2004
This review is from: Jerk (Full Screen) (DVD)
Steve Martin shows a lot of comedic flair in this, one of his first films (he later tones it down and hones it in later works, which is all I had seen up to this point, so this was very strange in how over-the-top he is.)
Steve plaves Navin, a white boy adopted by a large loving African-American family, who honestly believed he would turn black on his 18th birthday (which is when his family reveals to him that he is adopted, although they had hoped he would figure it out beforehand.)
Determined to make his way out in the world, Navin takes on a series of unrelated jobs that turn out poorly --- gas station attendant (in which he demolishes a church), carnival employee (where he has his first carnal knowledge and his first romantic love -- with two very different women), and later becomes a billionaire through some very odd means.
But at heart, he's just a simple country boy who wants to fit in back where he came from. He's not a bum, he's a jerk! All he has are his friends and a thermos.

Playing Away
Playing Away
by Adele Parks
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 24.97
24 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars a not-so-innocent abroad, April 23 2004
This review is from: Playing Away (Paperback)
While on a business trip to Paris, Londoner Connie begins an exciting affair with John Harding. He's randy, naughty and just thinking his name makes her excited in a sexual way.
However, Connie is married to a great guy named Luke, with whom she has spent the last 5 years. But he doesn't get her excited anymore, and she has few-to-no qualms about starting an affair that has her shopping for clothes, working out, and in the throes of love, which many of her friends notice.
Connie has a good base of friends, who are all diverse in their views of romantic relationships, so some friends encourage her and others condemn her. In the midst of all this, one couple meets and gets engaged, and Connie can't help but compare it to her own life ... especially when her new boyfriend proves to be a selfish dud.
Connie is by no means innocent, which makes this book interesting. It's NOT a series of pratfalls and misunderstandings -- it is very human, and it's too complex so you don't know how it is going to end till you've read it.

Center Stage (Special Edition) (Bilingual)
Center Stage (Special Edition) (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Amanda Schull
Price: CDN$ 8.98
43 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1.0 out of 5 stars that's YOUR dream, Mom! Not mine!, April 22 2004
Oh, this is awful. Basically, a ballerina from a small town gets the chance to study for a year at the American Ballet Academy in NYC, where she meets a bunch of trite friends (great dancer with too much attitude, girl with eating disorder and mommy issues, yadda yadda yadda). She also likes the forbidden fruit -- a dance choreographer! and maybe she's not as good a ballerina as she thought she was now that she is in the big-time.
Yawn. Who cares? I watched this from a hospital bed when I had seen everything else in the video box. And I still regret it. Even when the girl (whose character's name I can't even remember) was supposedly dancing so great (to a 1987 Michael Jackson song) I still thought she was boring and terrible.

The House on Mango Street
The House on Mango Street
by Sandra Cisneros
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 10.11
95 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars a neighborhood brought to life, April 22 2004
I greatly enjoyed this mosaic of the people and incidences on Mango Street, where a young Latina girl finally has her first house. Her relationships with her sister and some neighbor girls who are also sisters are true-to-life and even cut across cultural lines when they have their uarrels as young girls always have.
Other stories were a bit saddening, like the pretty young wife whose husband locks her up at home so she won't run around on him, even though she has never given her any reason to believe that she will, except for the fact that she is so beautiful. (Hello -- fire safety!) It's like Cyndi Lauper sang in 1984 "Some boys take a beautiful girl and hide her away from the rest of the world."
This is a great little book, especially when there is not that much available from Latina authors that doesn't mirror the overplayed chick-lit genre. Very good.

Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities
Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities
by Alexandra Robbins
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 22.02
50 used & new from CDN$ 0.06

4.0 out of 5 stars interesting, captivating read, April 21 2004
Alexandra Robbins went undercover for a year at a Texas sorority she names "Alpha Rho" and follows 4 girls she calls "Vicki, Caitlin, Amy and Sabrina" for anonymity's sake. The four girls are diverse in their backgrounds and impressive in their general characters, and each goes through some life-changing and sometimes tragic incidences in the course of a year.
Amy's identical twin sister died a few months before college, so she seeks a new sisterhood in the sorority. Sabrina is the first in her family to go to college and joins the sorority to make important connections for the future. Vicki joins to make the large campus a little smaller.
Robbins rounds out the girls' lives with research and interviews with girls from other sororities and universities, as well as statistics dating back to the early 1900s. Each chapter covers a month of the school year, and an excerpt from sorority handbooks from 1907, 1985 and 1999 are used at the start of each chapter. Interestingly, the ones from 1907 are more forward-thinking than the ones from 1985 and 1999.
Although I had never been a sorority, I was friends with many sorority girls who didn't think twice about whether or not I had ever rushed. I would have liked if there was more information about girls from regions and campuses where sororities exist but are not as all-consuming as the ones in this book. They DO exist.
Also -- -I was a bit perturbed when the sororities' various secret codewords, dialogues and signals were published. These are obviously important parts of the girls' identities, and to reveal them shows a lack of respect of their privacy. The author could have mentioned that such secrets exist without actually spelling out what they were.
All in all, however, this is a good book that has been thoroughly researched. The girls are human -- too complex to be all good or all bad, and you can sympathize with them even if you don't agree with every decision they make. Well-done.

The Song Reader
The Song Reader
by Lisa Tucker
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 11.68
41 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars an unusual sister tale, April 18 2004
This review is from: The Song Reader (Paperback)
Leeann is 12 years younger than her beautiful and sympathetic sister Mary Beth. With a deceased mother she never knew, and a long-absent father she barely remembers, Leeann looks up to Mary beth who raises her and Tommy, the son given to her by one of her clients.
Mary beth has a business as a "song reader" -- akin to a psychic, she has people tell her the songs that run through their head, and creates a chart based on what those songs and lyrics have in common. She helps a lot of people this way. In fact, she is hooked on helping too many people -- when one client's desperation is beyond what the song reading can do, Mary beth blames herself for the aftermath and falls into deep depression.
Like Austen's Emma, Mary beth neglects her own life to help others. Leeann starts summoning her old boyfriends and father to finally help the sister who has helped everyone else. But will it work? Read this and see!

Scottish Girls about Town: And Sixteen Other Scottish Women Authors
Scottish Girls about Town: And Sixteen Other Scottish Women Authors
by Jenny Colgan
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 26.57
32 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars an awesome collection, April 18 2004
I found this book when looking for the works of Jenny Colgan, whose books I enjoy. She is one of the many female Scottish writers whose work is displayed here. I got a great introduction to several authors whose books I would like to read.
The stories alternate between amusing (such as when one woman encounters her high school crush while participating on a reality show and gets her revenge) to poignant (when one little girl befriends her next-door neighbor because she thinks her own mother is too dumpy and sad, and instead learns a new way of looking at her life and the adults in it.)
All of it is very good. makes me look forward to reading "Irish Girls About Town" next!

Bergdorf Blondes
Bergdorf Blondes
by Plum Sykes
Edition: Hardcover
88 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars lifestyles of the rich and selfish, April 18 2004
This review is from: Bergdorf Blondes (Hardcover)
Narrated by a faaabulous NYC blonde who simply goes by "Moi", this book follows the lives and loves of several women so selfish they can't comprehend that there is any other way to be. While this may sound like the premise of a tiresome book, the writing is so wonderfully ironic that you can get past all that and enjoy yourself.
Moi is best friends with Julie Bergdorf, the department store heiress, who, when bored, shoplifts from her own store and demands hair and makeup be brought in for her mug shot.
Such pampered little park Avenue Princesses -- women who enjoy being called 'princesses' and can't divine that it is actually an insult! Writer Plum Sykes -- a former contributing editor of "Vogue" -- is well aware of this world and brings it out in full force for the reader's enjoyment. The strategy to find a fiancee because apparently, being engaged is the best facial around and gives you glowing skin --- is ridiculous in theory but it doesn't stop many a girl from practicing it. Also starting a book club to meet smart men, then being horrified at the thought of actually reading a book (I was impressed that so many of the characters did it.)
It's very tongue-in-cheek but with enough bite because frankly, there are indeed people in NYC who live this life. Kudos to the author for finding the fine balance of writing a story about such people without totaly dissing or revering them.

sMothering
sMothering
by Wendy French
Edition: Hardcover
10 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars It's Naggedy Ann!, April 16 2004
This review is from: sMothering (Hardcover)
Claire lives in Portland and works a horrific telemarketing job she hates, with coworkers she hates. She recently broke up with a seemingly perfect guy -- Paul -- because h e was cheatign on her. But awful as her life is, she still doesn't want her mother disrupting it -- which she does, out of the blue, on an apparently spontaneous trip all the way from Omaha, without her father.
Claire has only recently become the favored daughter ever since her gorgeous blonde sister Stephanie -- also a transplant to Portland -- came out of the closet. Mother sees this as something personal against her.
Barely able to keep her own life together, Claire must referee her sister and mother, protect the feelings of Alison, Stephanie's partner whom Claire likes, figure out what is going on with her father when her mother won't tell her, and deal with a not-great promotion that makes her coworkers hate her and puts her in cahoots with a pretty gross boss.
This is a great read and a welcome change from a lot of those "aren't we so fun and glamourous" books set in NYC and London. It's still chicklit but with enough of a twist to keep you interested.

Game Over
Game Over
by Adele Parks
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 18.89
21 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars she's good mean fun!, April 16 2004
This review is from: Game Over (Paperback)
Jocasta "Cas" Perry is a top TV executive in London who brainstorms the idea of a reality TV show called "Sex With an Ex". Fiancees will set up their betrothed to run into an ex, and then see if they are tempted fro one last fling. Cas doesn't believe in true love -- she only cares about her mother and her 2 best friends, Josh and Issie -- and everyone else be damned. After all, that is how she got on top and that is where she intends to stay.
The show makes her rich and even a bit famous, as she is shown in magazines promoting it. People both love and condemn it, but there is no such thing as bad publicity. Until Cas meets Darren, who is too principled to be involved in her show. But he is so goodlooking that she is sure ratings will go up if he is on an episode. And she wants him for herself, as well.
so ... can Cas fall in love? What will it mean to her career and her show if she does? And can she make Darren see her viewpoint that she just gives the public what it wants? Read this and see!

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