I was graciously provided with an advanced reader’s copy of Sophie Kinsella’s recently released My (not so) Perfect Life via Netgalley.
Here is the synopsis from Penguin Random House:
Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie’s life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle—from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she’s trying to negotiate. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she’s desperate to make her dad proud.
Then, just as she’s finding her feet—not to mention a possible new romance—the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family’s farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away—until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie’s future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.
Full confession: I am one of those few people who was actually not a fan of Confessions of a Shopaholic.
Yet I liked My Not So Perfect Life. It was not exactly written in the way that I would have liked – there were some cringeworthy moments, and some moments where the writing was a bit over the top. But there were also moments that made me giggle, and overall, I felt a strong connection to the story.
I’m going I let you guys in on a little secret: I am not perfect. I would love to be, but I’m not.
Katie works in marketing, a job that demands creative thinking, grueling hours, and can feel pretty thankless. This description likely sounds familiar to anyone who works a white-collar job.
I would actually highly recommend this novel for work-book clubs, because it could facilitate discussion regarding many aspects of work-life relationships:
- Work-life balance
- Relationships with co-workers
- The importance of hard work
- Being true to yourself
- Perception vs. reality
- Goals, and how to achieve them
Sophie Kinsella creates characters who are believable and relatable, and if you are feeling overwhelmed, trying to find your place in the world, or looking for the next book for your book club, then you might enjoy My (not so) Perfect Life.
I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of Paul Auster’s 4 3 2 1, and it. Was. Amazing.
Archie Ferguson, born in NYC, is a normal boy with athletic and literary inclinations. This novel examines four ways in which his life might have occurred, if certain key moments in his life had or had not happened. There are certain desires and activities that remain the same regardless of the circumstances, but they generally manifest in different ways.
Archie – in all four variants – is real. He has normal thoughts, he has flaws, he is smart yet sometimes foolish, and so easy to like as a character.
In addition to the regular trials and tribulations of being a kid and teenager, Ferguson and his loved ones also experience the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, and the turmoil and momentous moments of the time are interesting, and currently feel topical. Political dissent, and people arguing over whether or not others are treating them as equals? Definitely problems that our society is currently facing.
You should read this book.
Release day was October 12! You can now purchase Paranormal Dating on Amazon for $2.99, or read it free of charge if you have Kindle Unlimited.
Paranormal Dating is a short story anthology comprised of tales that are simultaneously horror, romance, and erotica.
Please let me know your thoughts, and write a review if you obtain a copy. Honest reviews are requested, although obviously, I hope that you like it. Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments below, as well!
I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of Mrs. Caliban from Netgalley.
Mrs. Caliban is a novella, originally published in 1982. The novel follows Dorothy, a depressed housewife whose children have died and whose husband is unfaithful, as she potentially meets a large sea monster. As we all know, sea monsters are sexy.
Unless there is no sea monster at all.
Narrated in a matter-of-fact manner that in no way dissuades from the notion that there is a good chance the protagonist is mentally ill, this novella forces the reader to wonder what the reality of the novel is. The problems – the tangled soap opera that is Dorothy’s life, the death, the specifics of the infidelity, are clear to the reader before being officially revealed in the novella. To be honest, it is unclear to me if the work is written that way on purpose or not.
Personally, I get the impression that this novella is written with some intent, yet that some of what might be construed as literary purposefulness is actually poor writing. Dorothy is described almost mechanically, yet she is not an emotionless robot, as it is clear she is no longer medicating herself to be an emotionless vacuum, and also an emotionless person would not deal with her husband’s shit as long as she has, or even be interested in saving or having sexy times with a lizard.
I feel that this novella is interesting, conceptually, but that the concept is not quite pulled off. If you are looking for a short read, and you like the story or idea more than the writing and characterization, give it a try. Otherwise, you might want to pass.
I recently received an ARC of The Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club by Lynsey James.
This novel is a chick-lit book from the UK, part of a series James writes that occur in Luna Bay. The cover is adorable:
The story, meanwhile? … perhaps too adorable.
The beginning is strong. Good writing, strong and funny protagonist. Emily Reed is having one of those days that snowballs – just when she thinks it can’t get any worse, something worse happens to prove her wrong. The icing on the cake? Family secrets come out that make her question everything, including her identity.
Desperate to escape her office, where a poor salesgirl has trumped her to a promotion by becoming intimate with the boss, Emily escapes to Luna Bay, which offers her some work (because who doesn’t want to work for her crooked boss instead of taking a real vacation?) and the possibility of gaining closure regarding the family secrets that have recently come to light.
Somewhere in the middle, the protagonist turns into a wish-washy mess who constantly has to tell the reader what she’s usually like, because her actions throughout the rest of the novel are going to run counter to these statements.
The love story that weaves throughout much of the novel is first, predictable…
… and then, overly adorable.
The ending, unfortunately, does not redeem the muddling middle.
As I mentioned previously, this book is part of a series. It is possible that the first novel in this series, The Broken Hearts Book Club, is considerably better. I actually haven’t read it, but often, the first book in a series is the best book in a series. But I do not recommend The Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club.
Have you read either of these novels? What are your thoughts? Please share in the comments!
Today, we’re going to talk about a book I received as an ARC from Netgalley:
The book is Defending Taylor, by Miranda Kenneally.
This book was pretty awful. I skimmed, primarily because it was occasionally amusing in its’ ridiculousness. To be fair, I think that this book might be well liked by prudish moms who want their kids to read an unrealistic portrayal of what could possibly, potentially happen to a kid who does something stupid, gets caught, and whose parents steadfastly refuse to act in their best interests in order to “teach them a lesson.” Since I am not that reader, I am going to make fun of it.
- Taylor’s “dream vacation” is being set loose in a museum to… read placards.
Museums. Set me loose in one, and I could stay for weeks, reading all the little placards describing each exhibit.
Honey, if you have to read all of the placards, you’re not really a museum buff. You’re a trivia buff, or someone who wants to seem more intelligent than she is.
- A teenager with tattoos is a huge deal. Huge.
…I’ve always done exactly what my parents asked of me. Sure, I bent the rules here and there, like when I used my sister’s driver’s license to get my ankle tattoo, but overall, I’ve been a very good daughter.
A teenage girl who is procuring illegal tattoos is not any parents definition of a “good” girl. If you delight in being rebellious once in awhile, that’s totally fine, but don’t turn around and pretend you’re a fucking saint. You broke the law to get something permanently etched on your skin that you’ll probably regret in five years. Get over yourself.
- Anyone who thinks of you as “the druggie girl” for taking Adderall is a fucking idiot.
Taking those pills and taking the blame for Ben didn’t just get me kicked out of school. It didn’t just mess up my dad’s job. It changed people’s perception of me. From here on out, I’ll be the druggie girl.
Emphasis in the quote above is not mine. I’m calling bullshit on this entire thing. First of all, if you’re getting kicked out of school because you got caught with Adderall, particularly when your father is a senator, then the administration has it out for you or something. It’s ridiculous. I don’t advocate abusing prescription drugs, but taking Adderall once in awhile to stay awake is not the same as snorting cocaine off your boyfriend’s ass. In addition, if your father is a senator, and he doesn’t use his connections to prevent you from getting kicked out of school to “teach you a lesson,” then he’s not going to do well in politics, anyway, and he ruined his own job by showing that to everyone. Anyone who feels bad for Taylor’s father is far more empathetic than he deserves. Any person off the street who has applied for a job knows that you have 6 seconds to make an impression on people – are we supposed to believe a senator wouldn’t consider the implications of his daughter being kicked out of school on a bogus charge on his own reputation? A senator who cannot give that much thought to his own reputation doesn’t deserve to be a senator.
- The teacher from Pretty Little Liars is in here, and he doesn’t know how to dance.
He leads me to the dance floor, where he sets one hand on my hip and eases me into a fluid foxtrot. He’s very good…
Honey, if he’s putting his hand on your hip, he’s not “very good,” he doesn’t know what the fuck he’s doing. If he knew what he was doing, he would have placed his hand beneath your left shoulder, so that your frame would be correct, and you would be able to feel his signals regarding what moves to do.
(Pretty Little Liars reference because the love interest’s name is Ezra.)
- While narrating, Taylor makes up nonsensical phrases
I pull a deep breath.
Breathing is an action, not a muscle. How on earth did you pull it?
- Is Taylor supposed to be in high school or in a nursing home?
‘What’s going on?’ I ask, a little miffed. I hate it when people look at their phones awhile they’re spending time with me. It makes me feel like I’m not worth their time.
Good luck existing, as a teenager.
- Taylor talking about her crush is embarrassing.
Ezra takes my hand. Gazes into my eyes. The low museum lights emphasize his handsome face. He’s a great work of art.
- Taylor = hypocrite
‘I’m sorry I’m not worth suffering through a little gossip at parties. Not that I give a shit about those things.’
Um… you’ve literally spent the entirety of the preceding pages bitching about how the things you got blamed for and actually did have changed others’ perception of you and your family. So, I’m not really convinced that you don’t “give a shit about those things.”
- Like, every freakin’ character in this novel is addicted to painkillers
‘I had to take this pill, Percocet, for a month to help with the pain. It made me drowsy all the time and messed up my stomach. But the worst part was when I had to give it up. I wanted it all the time. I’d wake up in the morning thinking about it.’
Thank you, girl delivering after-school special monologue.
- Seriously… your dad sucks
He laughs nervously and won’t meet my gaze. Guilt presses on my heart.
I suddenly don’t feel like doing this college interview. I don’t feel like doing much of anything.
Stop feeling guilty! Your father is acting like a child.
- Bitch can’t decide whether or not to apply to Yale, on the chance that she gets in, and goes even though she doesn’t want to go.
Just send your app in, bitch! It just gives you more options.
My parents wave back, but my sister flips me off, then follows with a thumbs-up. I return the thumbs up and roll my eyes.
I have… no idea what the author is getting at here.
- As the novel progresses, Taylor and her parents sound less and less intelligent.
And I’m glad my parents know I was never into serious drugs.
Um… did you parents seriously think you were into “serious drugs?” You got caught with some Adderall pills. Give me a freakin’ break.
- …And so does her boyfriend.
‘He’s so happy to hear that I want to go to school again. I think he’d be excited no matter what I wanted to study. I could’ve told him I want to be a gynecologist.’
Why would your father have a problem with your becoming a highly paid doctor?
In summation, I wouldn’t recommend. While I see where the author was trying to go with this novel, it doesn’t work.
Have you read Defending Taylor? Do you agree with my assessment? Disagree? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
A friend lent me her copy of We Love You, Charlie Freeman, and I have been thinking about it ever since. It is a difficult book to write about.
The debut novel of the talented Kaitlyn Greenidge, this book varies between the viewpoint of various members of the Freeman family (mother, father, 2 daughters) in the 1990s, and a woman in a Christian cult named Nymphadora in the 1920s. Both the Freemans and Nymphadora are black, and despite the differences that come from the time periods in which they are telling their story, there are also, sadly, too many similarities.
Ultimately, the impression that I received from this novel is that racism sucks, teenagers suck, and love can twist you up inside and cause you to accept treatment that you would never accept from someone you cared about less. There are a lot of relationships in this novel: first loves, parental love, bestial love, familial love. And there are many characters in this novel who rightfully feel abandoned, some of whom learn to cope with this feeling, some of whom react recklessly and defensively, and some of whom perform harmful acts (though probably not the ones you’re thinking of).
This novel was well written, interesting, and difficult. I felt clammy and physically distressed for the characters. I was not entirely sure where the story was going to go, and was hoping for the best. I was not entirely right, nor entirely wrong.
This novel is a very good read, and one that will really make you think. Highly recommend!
Have you read this novel, or are you planning to read it in the future?