Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Review: I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella

Blurb from Goodreads:
Fixie Farr has always lived by her father’s motto: “Family first.” But since her dad passed away, leaving his charming housewares store in the hands of his wife and children, Fixie spends all her time picking up the slack from her siblings instead of striking out on her own. The way Fixie sees it, if she doesn’t take care of her father’s legacy, who will? It’s simply not in her nature to say no to people.

So when a handsome stranger in a coffee shop asks her to watch his laptop for a moment, Fixie not only agrees—she ends up saving it from certain disaster. Turns out the computer’s owner is an investment manager. To thank Fixie for her quick thinking, Sebastian scribbles an IOU on a coffee sleeve and attaches his business card. But Fixie laughs it off—she’d never actually claim an IOU from a stranger. Would she?

Then Fixie’s childhood crush, Ryan, comes back into her life and his lack of a profession pushes all of Fixie’s buttons. She wants nothing for herself—but she’d love Seb to give Ryan a job. And Seb agrees, until the tables are turned once more and a new series of IOUs between Seb and Fixie—from small favors to life-changing moments—ensues. Soon Fixie, Ms. Fixit for everyone else, is torn between her family and the life she really wants. Does she have the courage to take a stand? Will she finally grab the life, and love, she really wants?
My Review:
I have really enjoyed Sophie Kinsella's books in the past (and I still love Can You Keep a Secret?, I've Got Your Number, and The Undomestic Goddess) but this one was a serious disappointment. First of all, it was hard to get over the MC's name - Fixie?  I don't know, it was attempted to be explained but it felt weird for the entire book.  Second, Fixie was so oblivious for at least half of the book as to her own friends and family and their true selves that it was beyond frustrating.  I just kept thinking, REALLY?! to myself and being upset.  I don't know - this just felt boring, rehashed of previous plot devices from SK's books and overall could have done with more editing.

I Owe You One comes out next week on February 5, 2019, and you can purchase HERE. Hopefully you have better luck with this one than I did!
Two weeks later Mum is in St. Tropez with Aunty Karen. She keeps sending me long texts about the marina and the boats and the sunshine, and I know I should send her a proper reply--but I can't fact it. Once I start typing to Mum, everything will pour out, and I'll start sniveling all over my keyboard. 
So instead I'm zapping her lots of smiley faces and emojis of shiny suns and sailboats and dodging the truth altogether. (Maybe that's what emojis were invented for in the first place, and I've just been using them wrong. They're not there to convey thoughts in a fun way; they're there to lie to your mum.)

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Review: The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

Blurb from Goodreads:
One night in an isolated college town in the hills of Southern California, a first-year student stumbles into her dorm room, falls asleep—and doesn’t wake up. She sleeps through the morning, into the evening. Her roommate, Mei, cannot rouse her. Neither can the paramedics who carry the girl away, nor the perplexed doctors at the hospital. 
Then a second girl falls asleep, and then a third, and panic takes hold of the college and spreads to the town. As the number of cases multiplies, classes are canceled. A quarantine is established. Mei, an outsider in the hierarchy of dorm life, finds herself thrown together with an eccentric, idealistic classmate.

A psychiatrist summoned from Los Angeles attempts to make sense of the phenomenon as it spreads. Those infected, she discovers, are displaying unusual levels of brain activity, higher than has ever been recorded before. They are dreaming heightened dreams—but of what?

Gorgeously written, The Dreamers is a breathtaking novel, startling and provocative, about the possibilities contained within a human life—in our waking days and, perhaps even more, in our dreams. 
My Review:
I guess I should just stop having high expectations when anyone compares a book to Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel . . . I always end up disappointed.  Had I not read that book and had I not read that comparison prior to reading this book, I may have enjoyed it slightly more but instead this felt a bit pedestrian.  I wasn't surprised, I wasn't intrigued.  The writing is fine, not superb, but it just feels like another attempt in a long line of dystopians that just leaves me wanting more.

The Dreamers came out earlier this month on January 15, 2019 and you can purchase HERE.  
This time, it starts at the college. 
It starts with a girl leaving a party. She feels sick, she tells her friends, like a fever, she says, like the flue. And tired, too, as tired as she has ever felt in her life.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Review: McGlue: A Novella by Ottessa Moshfegh

Blurb from Goodreads:
Salem, Massachusetts, 1851: McGlue is in the hold, still too drunk to be sure of name or situation or orientation--he may have killed a man. That man may have been his best friend. Intolerable memory accompanies sobriety. A-sail on the high seas of literary tradition, Ottessa Moshfegh gives us a nasty heartless blackguard on a knife-sharp voyage through the fogs of recollection.

They said I've done something wrong? . . . And they've just left me down here to starve. They'll see this inanition and be so damned they'll fall to my feet and pass up hot cross buns slathered in fresh butter and beg I forgive them. All of them . . . : the entire world one by one. Like a good priest I'll pat their heads and nod. I'll dunk my skull into a barrel of gin.
My Review:
The writing, character development and descriptions were excellent as with everything I've read by Ottessa Moshfegh but the plot was a bit too fluid and stream of consciousness for my liking.  Specifically, I didn't really want to be in McGlue's mind that was addled with drink and sickness, reminiscing.  I was hoping for a bit more action but it was not meant to be with this novella.  Still, the writing was excellent and, as always, I can't wait to read what Ottessa Moshfegh writes next!

McGlue came out earlier this month on January 8, 2019 and you can purchase HERE.  
My mind travels the cold hills of Peru where I got lost one night. A fat woman fed me milk from her tit and I rode a shaggy dog back along a river to the coast.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Review: Pretty in Punxsutawney by Laurie Boyle Crompton

Blurb from Goodreads:
A Groundhog Day meets Pretty in Pink mashup from author Laurie Boyle Crompton, Pretty in Punxsutawney tells the tale of a girl willing to look beneath the surface to see people for who they really are.

Andie is the type of girl who always comes up with the perfect thing to say…after it’s too late to say it. She’s addicted to romance movies—okay, all movies—but has yet to experience her first kiss. After a move to Punxsutawney, PA, for her senior year, she gets caught in an endless loop of her first day at her new school, reliving those 24 hours again and again.

Convinced the curse will be broken when she meets her true love, Andie embarks on a mission: infiltrating the various cliques to find the one boy who can break the spell. What she discovers along the way is that people who seem completely different can often share the very same hopes, dreams, and hang-ups. And that even a day that has been lived over and over can be filled with unexpected connections and plenty of happy endings. 
My Review:
This read exactly as it sounds - a mash-up of two great movies -and I really enjoyed it! Andie definitely undergoes an evolution throughout the book and I think it was done well. The book didn't feel repetitive at all even with the reliving of the same day.  This is a super fast read but one I also didn't want to put down - it you are looking for something fun and not super deep, this one is definitely for you!

Pretty in Punxsutawney came out earlier this week on January 15, 2019, and you can purchase HERE.  
The two of us laugh and discuss our favorite parts of the action movie we were just watching, while the strong aroma of warm butter wafts around us. It smells an awful lot like falling in love.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Review: Sourpuss by Merricat Mulwray

Blurb from Goodreads:
Sourpuss is a blistering satire of the depraved and entitled culture that pervades college campuses.

Mallory Wahl loathes the campus party scene . . .

She’s sprinting through her senior year obsessed with winning a spot on the US Olympic track team. But she runs straight into a hurdle in the form of fraternity president Graham Patterson, an intern assigned to help her recover from an injury – one she blames on him. 

Once Graham’s therapies begin to work, Mallory pretends to fall in love but traps herself in her own scheme and tailspins deep into his debauched world. When a scandal erupts which threatens to shatter her Olympic dreams once and for all, Mallory must finally face the dark truth she’s been running from since freshman year.

In the style of a ’90s dark comedy flick, Merricat Mulwray’s debut brings an insightful and humorous perspective to the reckless behavior college students perpetually get away with. Mallory, herself a flawed heroine, is backed by a self-serving cast of athletes, party girls, townies, and fraternity brothers so hilariously dark that the book will leave you wondering if anyone ever gets what they deserve.
My Review:
So when I saw "a dark comedy" on the cover for this one, I was expecting just that.  Unless you find graphic depictions of rape (serious trigger warning!!!!!) along with homophobia and racism hilarious, I wouldn't classify this one as a comedy.  It says it's supposed to be a commentary on current college culture and . . . maybe it is? but to me it was difficult to finish.  The beginning reminded me a lot of The Hating Game (which I loved!) with its enemies to lovers sort of banter.  But then it took a really dark dive and I felt uncomfortable continuing to read it.  I don't think I would call this a comedy . . . even a dark one.  It just made me feel sad and made my heart ache. 

Sourpuss comes out next week on January 20, 2019, and you can purchase HERE. Hopefully you have better luck with this one than I did!
James was so happy he didn't even care he was drinking the watered-down urine that is Natty Ice. The more he thought about it, the more the beer reminded him of his younger days, how it was when all the brothers were under his full charge and command. He didn't think that things could be like that ever again. But now he realized they could! There would be many things to do before they all left at the end of the week.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Review: In Paris with You by Clémentine Beauvais

Blurb from Goodreads:
For fans of Eleanor & Park and Emergency Contact comes a sweeping romance about the love that got away.

Eugene and Tatiana could have fallen in love, if things had gone differently. If they had tried to really know each other, if it had just been them, and not the others. But that was years ago and time has found them far apart, leading separate lives.

Until they meet again in Paris.

What really happened back then? And now? Could they ever be together again after everything?
My Review:
Beyond meh.  I'm not sure if the problem here was the translation or something more fundamental.  This tried to hard to be poetry and ended up being hard to read prose.  It barely skimmed the surface of read-able (as in, not really) and I'm not even sure that I would call its treatment of characters skin-deep.  It need a lot of work, editing, background, plot development, character development . . . I would recommend skipping this one.

In Paris With You came out yesterday on January 8, 2019 and you can purchase HERE.  
Eugene who, as an adolescent, had had a relationship with time that we might characterize as jaded, indifferent, passive, Bored, who, as a teenager, had never impatiently waited for anything-- seriously, nothing at all--- had become, as an adult, like everyone else. (You can give his phone the credit--or the blame-- for that particular development.) Like everyone else, he waited vaguely for the next thing, always the same: the next email, the next weather forecast, the next election, the next plane crash, the next death of a singer from the 1980s, the net terrorist attack, the next pay check,; an adult with a miniature attention span, like everyone else, refreshing, updating, nibbling at time like a ham baguette.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Review: When the Truth Unravels by RuthAnne Snow

Blurb from Goodreads:
Last month, Elin tried to kill herself.

She knows she’s lucky that her parents found her in time. Lucky to be going to prom with her three best friends, like any other teen. Like it never happened. And if she has anything to say about it, no one but her best friends will ever know it did.

Jenna, Rosie, and Ket will do anything to keep Elin’s secret—and to make sure it never happens again. That’s why they’re determined to make prom the perfect night. The night that convinces Elin that life is worth living.

Except, at prom, Elin goes missing.

Now it’s up to her friends to find her. But each of the girls has her own demons to face. Ket is being blackmailed by an ex. Rosie is falling in love for the first time. And Jenna . . . 

Jenna is falling apart.

And no one, not even her best friends, knows why.

Heart-wrenching and utterly impossible to put down, When the Truth Unravels follows four friends as they confront their greatest hopes and darkest secrets during one life-changing night.
My Review:
If you are hoping for a big mystery with this one, there isn't one but I think that made the book more realistic and more compelling.  This felt very Can't Hardly Wait, albeit a bit more serious, with one prom night to right all wrongs and for everyone's wishes to come true.  It was a fast read, which I appreciated but it didn't feel particularly unique.  Still, the writing wasn't terrible and I think the fact that it was told from multiple POV was well done.

When the Truth Unravels came out today on January 8, 2019 and you can purchase HERE.  
Even before the suicide thing, Mom Kim gave me and my friends serious side-eye. She read a lot of Jodi Picoult--you know, those books where teenage girls are always getting themselves into some situation that's half Lifetime Original and second-cousin to a very special episode of Law and Order: SVU?
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