Monday, October 15, 2012

Beach Read: "Room for Improvement"

If you were (or perhaps still are) a fan of those home makeover shows, and love a good “Dating Game” scenario and enjoy a laugh-out-loud read to tuck into your beach bag on your next day at the beach, then you are going to LOVE this book! 

Book Title:  Room for Improvement
Author:  Stacey Ballis
Genre: Chick Lit
Setting:  Chicago, with a brief trip to glitzy LA
Format:  Trade paperback
Pages:  294
Publication date:  2006
Publisher:  Berkely

Opening Line: I’m on all fours, on a rug of questionable cleanliness, fumbling in the dark for my boots. 

Favorite Passage:  “So, shall we see what we have under here?” I ask.
          “Oh, yes?” says Birdie.
          “Of course, dear,” says Mom.
          “Here goes!”
          I grab the corner of the padding and begin to pull back.  Birdie shrieks.
          “Oh, sweet Jesus on the cross!”
          My mom and I look down to see that what we have revealed isn’t gorgeous original hardwood floor, it is instead a huge nest of carpenter ants, enormous and shiny black, pouring up and out of a three-inch-wide hole in the sub flooring that we have uncovered by removing the rug and pad.  The three of us run across the room and simultaneously leap up o the wonderful square coffee table I found.  It promptly collapses, dumping the three of us into a pile on the floor.

Beach Read Rating:  4 out of 5 beach umbrellas

Review:   This book grabbed onto the coat tails of the home improvement tv show popularity back in the earlier part of the century, but it might seem a bit dated by 2012 standards.  I loved “Trading Spaces” and this book kind of gave a behind the scenes look at how harried and hectic the work schedule was to get that all remodeling done.  (Really, they can get done in 48 hours what takes a mere mortal months to achieve?  I guess so, if you have an entire crew behind the scenes.  An that's the secret...there are a LOT of people behind the scenes.)  I found that aspect of the book very interesting.  I also enjoyed the “voice” of the main character, Lily, as it was fun and flirty.  Call me old-fashioned, though, but I prefer a good romance where two people meet, fight for 300 pages, then get reach a forever-and-ever-amen ending.  The new trend to see just how many men one woman can sleep with in one book is driving me crazy!  But I did enjoy the “chick-lit” flavor of the book and found the characters witty and vivacious and, in a word, fun.  And Lily did end up with just one guy in the end.  It’s unclear if it’s a happily ever after thing or a you’ll do for the interim fling, but I felt satisfied as a reader.   

Flap Copy:  What do you get when you give two hopeful singles fashion consultants and interior designers, allow them four days to perk up each other’s homes and get a total style overhaul, then let their single friends celebrate the results at a fabulous party? You get Swap/Meet, the newest reality show on the network block, where major changes are either embraced or embarrassing—and Lily Allen’s dream job turned nightmare.

At first, Lily was thrilled to appear on Swap/Meet. What better way for a Chicago interior designer to promote her business and enjoy some pseudo-celebrity? She just didn’t think she’d be doing take after take with the ditzy host, dodging sabotage attempts, and getting caught in the middle of the fashion czars’ lovers’ spat. Plus, the cute, curmudgeonly carpenter on her team knows just how to push her buttons. Episode by episode, through do-it-yourself disasters and matchmaking miracles, Lily discovers that a little bit of controlled chaos is the spice of life—and love…

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