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by Sophie Kinsella
I have really enjoyed books by Sophie Kinsella and was looking forward to reading her newest book Surprise Me. At first I felt like I was the one “surprised” in a disappointed kind of way. The characters in Surprise Me are two-dimensional, the premise is bland, and the attempts at humor are not very effective—for the first half of the book. The novel was good enough for me to plug on, however, and I’m glad I did. The pace and interest pick up dramatically in the second half. The characters grow and develop and become people you can actually care about. The original proposition seems silly: how do you live with and love the same person for over sixty years? I know the world is changing a lot in terms of longevity of marriages, but there are many examples that demonstrate the success of long marriages and the happiness of people in such marriages.
There are many surprises for the reader and the main character Sylvie as she discovers that she does not really know the people close to her as well as she thought she did. In encountering difficulties, she discovers a strength she never knew she had. There are a lot of negative feelings associated with this book and a lot less fun fluff than initially appears to be the case or is usually associated with Kinsella’s books such as the Shopaholic series. Although I came away with mixed feelings, I also took away some serious musings about the ability of testing in life to help build character.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Random House (Dial Press) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: General Fiction (Adult), Romance
Publication: February 13, 2018 — Random House (Dial Press)
Living with five-year-old twins is like living in a Communist state. I don’t quite count out the Shreddies into the bowls every morning to make sure things are equal, but… Actually, I did once count out the Shreddies into the bowls. It was quicker.
“Oh, marriage.” She makes a snorting sound. “Did you not read the disclaimers? ‘May cause headache, anxiety, mood swings, sleep disturbance, or general feelings of wanting to stab something.’ ”
“If we don’t stick up for the ones we love, then what are we good for?”
The Boyfriend Swap
by Meredith Schorr
I like to vary my reading occasionally by throwing in a Chick Lit book. Meredith Schorr’s The Boyfriend Swap was a good change of pace at the the right time. The first half established characters, varying the viewpoint in clearly marked divisions between elementary school music teacher Robyn and hard driven lawyer Sidney. It is quite funny as they both have family situations coming up at Christmas where they don’t want their families to meet their respective boyfriends for various reasons.
When the boyfriend swap occurs, the book still has humorous moments, but things don’t always turn out as expected so there are some anxious times as well. Is swapping boyfriends a good idea in anyone’s mind? Will it all work out in the end for Robyn, Sidney, and their boyfriends? Come along for a fun read, but don’t model your romantic life on theirs!
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Henery Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Women’s Fiction, Romance
Publication: November 7, 2017—Henery Press
How were children supposed to nurture their creative sides if schools focused entirely on academics?
Giving him a quick once-over as he absently pulled his finders through his longish hair, I was taken aback by his blatant beauty. The gods of looks certainly didn’t hold back the day Perry was born. Too bad they were so stingy with his humility.
Usually, the scent of garlic from my mom’s roasted chicken made my mouth water, but the guilt-and-anxiety cocktail I was drinking rid me of an appetite.
From the Sideline
by Amy Avanzino
From the Sideline is the second book in The Wake-Up Series by Amy Avanzino. Many reviewers praised the first book, Wake-Up Call, as a very funny novel. This is confusing because From the Sideline has humorous notes and certainly moments I can relate to, but they are more than balanced out by the difficulties, past and present, of the main character, Autumn Kovac. In fact, the major problems in the lives of Autumn and her son Zachery are rather dark. My other point of confusion is that Wake-Up Call’s main character is Sarah Winslow, not Autumn Kovac. While it is fine to write a series based on a theme rather than a character, there is a supporting character named Sarah (no last name given) in From the Sideline. I guess I will have to read Wake-Up Call to find out if it is the same Sarah and to read a book with a more generous serving of humor.
From the Sideline combines a number of themes. It focuses on an overly protective single mom, a survivor of several abusive situations, whose awkward, intelligent, and bullied son wants to play football. Autumn Kovac receives an in-depth, rapid introduction to youth football: terminology that seems like a foreign language, coaches who range from caring mentors to frustrated men trying to recapture the glory days of promising sports careers, enthusiastic football moms and dads, and pressured players who are really just kids who want to play.
Another theme is, of course, one that most people experience–the wake-up call. Bad habits and ways of responding to others creep up on us, and Autumn learns to recognize that as well as how to disengage herself and make healthier choices.
Although circumstances vary, most women can probably identify with some parts of this story and engage with the main character who, like all of us, has some difficult choices to make. It’s “chick lit,” and while I enjoyed this book as an entertaining read, I came away with food for thought as well.
I extend my thanks to NetGalley and the publisher Henery Press for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.