That’s right: I’m tired of being told that I should read something because it really “makes you think.” I don’t want to think — I want to escape from thinking. Therefore, I’m starting a book club all of my own. (Well, actually, of my own plus my sisters. They actually do read books that make them think, but they also appreciate a good fluffy chick lit book — as long as it’s written well, of course.) Meg Cabot is my patron saint, with Jennifer Crusie coming in a close second. I’m happy to say, that I’ve got another author to happily add: Stacey Ballis. Here’s the review of her book, Room for Improvement, I just posted on LibraryThing (see it there at http://www.librarything.com/work/1087127/reviews/73030967 – or, you know, just read it below):

I loved this book. It held my attention from the moment I started reading it until the very last words — not something that happens very often these days. Unlike the previous book I read (which, incidentally, also had to do with interior design, to a point), this story integrated the background and the relationships perfectly. I liked reading about the Trading Spaces/Queer Eye for the Straight Guy-type reality show (although I did find it a bit jarring that it kept outright mentioning Bravo — was it sanctioned by them, I wonder?) as well as how the protagonist’s (Lily Allen) life changed as the show became more of a success. The friendships were great, as were the work relationships. Plus the romance didn’t feel forced in the way that some of the others I’ve read lately have. (That said, it definitely is not the main focus of the book so be forewarned if that’s what you’re looking for.)

I was quite happy that it was mentioned only in passing that Lily was on the more voluptuous side (whether a 14 going on 16 or a 16 going on 18, I can’t remember). It was refreshing both that she wasn’t a perfect size 2 and that it was such a complete non-issue. (In reading the author’s website I later learned that she wanted to put books out there that got this message across exactly. She did it perfectly, IMHO.) Although, of course, the picture on the cover doesn’t quite represent that; not the author’s fault, however. The one thing I didn’t like was that there were several places in which the author used a convention of paragraphs using alliteration — it brought about a smile the first time I came across it; not so much the second and third. That’s my one quarrel with the book, however, and not a huge one at that.

I also have to note one passage that particularly caught my eye: “We always buy people the KitchenAid stand mixer. Always the five-quart, even if they registered for the four-and-a-half-quart. Always in either deep cobalt blue or bright red, even if we are tempted by the new color choices of the season. (The lavender and spring green this year were particularly difficult to resist.) I think that deep down, all three of us secretly want nothing more than to own a five-quart KitchenAid stand mixer.”

Those of you who know me know exactly how I feel about the KitchenAid mixer so it won’t come as a surprise that, even if I hadn’t liked the rest of the book, this one would have earned it a star all on its own. The one sad part about all of this is that it looks like Stacey Ballis only has a few other books out. I guess I’ll just have to space them out judiciously.

Read more about Stacey Ballis at: http://www.staceyballis.com/