Teaser Tuesdays: Funny in Farsi, by Firoozeh Dumas

On Teaser Tuesdays readers are asked to:

  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between 7 and 12 lines.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given.

My teasers are:

In 1977, the Shah and his wife were scheduled to come to America to meet the newly elected president, Jimmy Carter. Very few Iranians lifed in America then, and those of us who did were invited to go to Washington, D.C., to welcome the Shah. The Iranian government would cover all expenses.

My father accepted the invitation. My brothers reacted with a few choice words.
from Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America, p. 111, by Firoozeh Dumas

Review: Off Season, by Anne Rivers Siddons

Off Season
by Anne Rivers Siddons
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I’m not sure if I introduced Anne Rivers Siddons’ work to my mother, or if she introduced it to me, but when you want something a little bit beachy and a little bit romantic, with vibrant women characters, no one beats her. This is especially true of her most recent book, Off Season.

In this novel, we are once again on the coast of New England, this time in Maine, in Carters Cove, following the life of a feisty girl named Lilly as she meets her first love (at the tender age of eleven), keeps tabs on the local osprey population, and does gymnastics in the basement gym built by her father.

As she grows up, we see her relationship with her artist-mother, her marriage to the devoted Cam, an architect, and the birth of her children, but her dog, Wilma, and the summer home in Maine are Lilly’s two touchstones, and at time function as additional characters.

Siddons excels at these gentle, dreamy stories of individual women, most of whom are somehow artistic, and the strong, complicated men they marry, and even when her tales veer into implausibility, they still leave you with the sense that you’ve read a really satisfying story.

Goes well with: Ice cold lemonade, a porch swing, and a cotton throw rug.

Review: Riding Lessons, by Sara Gruen

Riding Lessons
by Sara Gruen
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Water for Elephants was one of the best books I’d ever read, so when I was in the Mexico City airport last week with 500 pesos and an extra ninety minutes before my flight – and nothing to read – I took a chance and got Sara Gruen’s earlier book Riding Lessons.

I was expecting plain prose that nevertheless forms incredibly vivid imagery, but I was not expecting a novel that was essentially a conventional romance, albeit one dressed up for dressage and including an angst-ridden mother-daughter relationship. What is it about everyone writing snotty teenagers into their work lately?

Simplified, the plot seems almost cliche: Annemarie has a tragic accident while competing in an equestrian event, turns her back on all things equine, marries a man she doesn’t really love, and ends up divorced with a snotty teenaged daughter. She moves back home to the family farm (and riding academy) where she makes her peace with her estranged mother and dying father, strikes up a romance with the local vet, whom she knew as a much younger woman, and yes, eventually does save the farm and live to tell about it.

Of course, there’s a second love affair in the tale as well: that of Annemarie and her horse, Highland Harry, who died in the tragic accident, and the new horse, troubled and injured, she adopts from the vet’s rescue, and insists is Harry’s long-lost brother.

Fans of romance and horses will enjoy this book, and I must admit, for a cliche it was still an enjoyable read, but I’m glad Gruen’s storytelling has evolved since this was originally published.

Goes well with: Strong coffee, worn jeans, and country-western music. Even if it does take place in New Hampshire.

Review: Such a Pretty Fat, by Jen Lancaster

Such a Pretty Fat: One Narcissist’s Quest to Discover if Her Life Makes Her Ass Look Big
by Jen Lancaster
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Jen Lancaster is never not funny, but part of the reason I always enjoy her books is that even though I suspect our politics are wildly divergent, her exaggerated version of herself is completely relate-able. That was the case with her first memoir, Bitter is the New Black, and it remains the case with her most recent, originally published last year, Such a Pretty Fat, in which she tackles self esteem, body image, and her own physical prowess – or lack thereof.

In this book, Lancaster gets a bit meta on us – spending about a third of the 375 (trade paperback version) pages talking about the novel she’s supposed to be writing, before deciding that a funny, frank look at her weight and attempts to lose it would be more saleable. Apparently, she was right, because I laughed with her, cried with her, and felt guilty about everything I put in my mouth while I was reading it that was less than healthy.

In fact, I lost three pounds while reading it, which I’m sure Jen would appreciate if she knew.

If you want a weight loss book that tells you to starve yourself, and shows pictures of cute size-four models on the cover, and supplies a diet, go read something else. If you want to find inspiration in the funny, real story of a snarky, real woman – read Such a Pretty Fat.

You may not lose three pounds, but you’ll definitely have a smile on your face when the book is over.

Reviewed Elsewhere: The Mighty Queens of Freeville, by Amy Dickinson

The Mighty Queens of Freeville: a Mother, A Daughter, and the Town that Raised Them
by Amy Dickinson
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From time to time, I review books for other blogs, ezines and podcasts, but I still want to track what I’ve read. I recently reviewed True Colors for ALL THINGS GIRL. Here’s the first paragraph:

If you never thought a story that begins with a divorce could be uplifting, you clearly haven’t read Amy Dickinson’s new book, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: a Mother, a Daughter, and the Town that Raised Them.

The rest of the review can be found here.