"Based Upon Availability" by Alix Strauss - I started out loving this book. Morgan is a manager at the Four Seasons hotel in Manhattan who lost her sister to disease as a child, and hasn't really gotten over it. She goes about her work, and immediately something is off. Quickies with the busboy? Sneaking into guests' rooms and stealing their property? Obsessing over people she hardly knows? She encounters several people in passing, who you then meet in more detail as they take over the narration, but little new ground is covered. At first I wanted to go back and see if there were connections I'd missed, but eventually the story got so dark and the characters so dysfunctional that I was glad to be done with them.
"Oscar Season" by Mary McNamara - Like "Based on Availability" this book focused on a manager in a fancy hotel, and I started out loving it. What I always call "evil Hollywood" truly is evil as bodies pile up just before the Oscars. Juliette deals with diva demands, a star's secret medical treatment in the penthouse, and romance while ducking danger and trying to solve the murders. Maybe I was missing something, but the eventual answer didn't quite make sense and I didn't feel like rereading to figure it out.
"Critical Care: A New Nurse Faces Death, Life, and Everything in Between" by Theresa Brown - I'm scared of serious disease and shy away from reading about it, so maybe this wasn't the best choice of books. The author, an English professor turned RN, takes us to the front lines of medicine in a hospital oncology ward. Her days are a constant stream of patients, procedures, paperwork, and family members. Nursing is necessary and important work, and any negativity about the book comes from my discomfort with the subject, not the writing.
"The Rock And Roll Book Of The Dead" by David Comfort - This book examines the lives and deaths of Elvis Presley, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, John Lennon, Jerry Garcia and Kurt Cobain. There's a LOT of sex, drugs, and rock & roll. Mostly drugs.
"Faking It: How to Seem Like a Better Person Without Actually Improving Yourself" by the Writers of CollegeHumor.com - The last page of this book chides the reader for actually reading all the way to the end. If you paid attention, all you had to do was skim through and note the important points. This is a humor book on faking your way to class and maturity, but I was still turned off by the young male viewpoint and "hey dudes, follow this advice and get laid" attitude.
"Little Beauties" by Kim Addonizio - Former beauty pageant contestant Diana washes obsessively and works in a baby store, Jamie is a pregnant teenager, and Stella is her soon-to-be-born baby. These characters alternate in narrating the story, which is sad, sad, sad. Other reviewers described the writing as lyrical and beautiful but I just found this sad.
"Literacy and Longing in L.A." by Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack - Dora mourns the split with her Hollywood honcho husband by staying inside and reading a lot. Just like me! Well, just the staying inside and reading a lot (and I'm not mourning anything; that's what I like to do). She soon gets involved with a man, and even more involved with his troubled family. This seems a step above standard chick-lit (there's even a list of books mentioned in the back), but I wasn't that interested.