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 received an ARC of Rosemary Rey’s novel Stained Glass Shards via Netgalley.
This novel is a romance/erotica that switches viewpoints between former long-time lovers Griffin and Elyce, who had a 50-Shades-of-Fucked-Up-Even-Though-That-Isn’t-A-Saying relationship until Elyce abruptly grew a backbone and ended it.
Griffin is a movie star. Insanely good-looking, great actor, went to school in Boston with Elyce, which is where they met and became friends-with-benefits.
Elyce is the gal who secretly wanted Griffin to fall in love with her and marry her, but didn’t think it was within the realm of possibility until she realized, well, fuck, if he’s not into it I should dump his ass and find someone who is. So she breaks up with him, and writes a thinly-veiled fictionalization of their relationship which becomes a bestseller. That is optioned for movie rights, and furthermore, is actively picked up to be made into a movie. I think you see where this is going…
This novel was not quite my cup of tea. Rey’s writing is a bit too literal to me, reading a bit woodenly. Also, Elyce kind of got on my nerves.
BUT I also thought Rey did a great job of taking a storyline that was starting to read like a fan fic, and delve into the relationship a bit more. The stained glass metaphor was painfully drawn out, but I get why it’s in the book. Rey is dealing with appearance vs. reality, and her characters actively grow and change. Perspective is a major component of this book, which I loved.
I would recommend if you are in the mood for some sexy fluff. I don’t recommend as a romance, but I do recommend if you want to escape a bit.
Have you read Stained Glass Shards? What did you think? Who was your favorite character?
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!
I recently received an e-galley for review from Netgalley of Fatal Beauty by Nazarea Andrews.
I was so excited by the following description:
New Orleans. Memphis. Vegas.
Beautiful girls who know just how to get exactly what they want.
It’s all fun and games, sexy nights and wild parties.
But you can only manipulate your way out of so much, and the body count is rising. When their past catches up, not even a pretty smile will get them out of trouble this time.
I was further excited by the gorgeous cover:
My excitement, much like the reports of Mark Twain’s death, was greatly exaggerated.
This novel is one that is written to shock readers, and it didn’t do a very good job of that. There is murder, drugs, and a lot of sex. But unless you’re in the mood for a lot of sex scenes, I do not recommend this book. Personally, I could not even finish the book.
Don’t let the gorgeous cover fool you. This book had definite promise and possibility, but unfortunately, did not deliver.
So I recommend adding to the bulk of mail our mailman above is holding (on his ill-advised rollerblades), by returning this book to sender. Or, you know, never buying it in the first place.