2021, Week the Forty-Fourth: Playing Catch Up

November 3, 2021 Literary Fiction, Romance, Romantic Comedy 1

Greetings Bookworms!

I’ve fallen behind in keeping you up to date with my current reads because I was so busy telling you about newly released books. Technically, I read those quite a while ago, but I posted about them on or near their release dates because they’re all really good and now you can just go buy them or request them from the library without having to wait. Well, if you get them from the library, you probably will have to wait because there are only so many copies to go around, but you get what I’m saying. It’s just good manners to promote a new book during release week. Let’s play a bit of catch-up, shall we?

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai- My friend Chrissy asked me if I’d read this yet and when I said I hadn’t she went on and on about its greatness. So much so that I immediately checked out a digital copy from the library. Unfortunately, she in no way warned me that this book would BREAK ME. Gracious. I had no idea AT ALL what the book was about, and I got dropped right in the middle of a Chicago’s confused and terrified gay community in 1984. This book had a dual narrative, it bounced back and forth between 2015 and the 80s, but I felt myself kind of racing through the 2015 chapters because I was so engrossed in Yale’s story. I’ve read books set during this time period that certainly touch on the AIDS crisis (Tell the Wolves I’m Home and The Immortalists come to mind), and I’ve consumed media regarding the medical and political side of things, but I’ve never read a book set right in the swirling center of it. It was BRUTAL. The confusion and the terror and the absolute apathy of the outside world. It’s like, I’ve KNOWN all these things as fact, but this book just made everything so much more immediate and intense and personal. Anyway, the book was lovely, in that depressing lit-fic way. I’m going to need a LOT of romance novels to recover emotionally. Romance novels that glorify the use of prophylactics, naturally.

The Austen Playbook by Lucy Parker- THANK HEAVEN FOR LUCY PARKER. She’s always there, right when I need her, offering me this delicious morsel of a book. Freddy Carlton, who we’ve previously met in this series, who is always kind and gracious and lovely, finds her happy ending with Griff, the grumpy theater critic. Nothing cleanses the palate like a good Grumpy/Sunshine trope. This book is such a treat, a caper within a caper, if you will. Freddy has signed on to perform in a live TV adaptation of a Jane Austen themed murder mystery (which is just as campy and fun as it sounds.) The production is set at a picturesque country estate owned by grumpy Griff’s family. He’s grumpy in large part because the estate’s finances are in the toilet, and his meddling sunshiney brother (I can’t wait for Charlie’s book) offered up the estate for this project. Which is good because the production is doing renovation work, but bad because Griff is grumpy and doesn’t want a bunch of people all up in his house. Still, somehow Griff and Freddy keep running into each other and join up Scooby Doo style to uncover family scandals of old. OF COURSE he and Freddy can’t keep their hands off each other, despite the fact that Griff has written nasty reviews about her performances. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “eww negging is not sexy” and you’re correct. BUT. In this instance, it’s more that Griff can see through Freddy’s performances that she doesn’t actually enjoy the high brow drama she’s been pursuing at the behest of her overbearing father, and she’d rather be tap dancing. WOULDN’T WE ALL? Tap dancing is GREAT. But I digress. This book is a heck of a lot of fun.

Headliners by Lucy Parker- Because Lucy Parker understood the assignment, she hits us with another delectable trope in the next installment of the London Celebrities series: Rivals to Lovers. Sabrina (Freddy’s older sister) is a celebrated TV presenter who is still reeling a bit from a family scandal that was recently uncovered. A scandal whose existence was broken on live television by her career nemesis Nick Davenport on live television. Sabrina and Nick have been battling it out in the ratings and in snarky comments for years, but his exploitation of her family’s drama was super shady. Which is why neither Nick nor Sabrina are thrilled to find out that thanks to a network merger and bad press (Nick was caught on video calling his boss names) that the only way the two will stay on TV is if they team up for… A morning show. A cheeseball, smiley, disaster of a production that is plagued by mishap after on air mishap. Scooby Doo scenarios must run in the family, because Sabrina and Nick decide to investigate the possibility of a saboteur in their midst. Aaaaand then they get locked in a wine cellar together, etc. If professional rivals to lovers is your romance trope jam, this one is hard to beat.

The Kindred Spirits Supper Club by Amy E Reichert- I can’t help but want good things for Amy E Reichert, she seems like a truly lovely human who truly loves Wisconsin and wants to tell midwestern stories and I love that. I’m from Illinois, but I grew up visiting family in Wisconsin so it all feels very homey. Alas, for every book of hers I adore, there seems to be one that doesn’t quite hit home for me. Unfortunately, The Kindred Spirits Supper Club is in the latter category. The story is kind of all over the place. Sabrina Monroe is back in the Wisconsin Dells after finding herself unemployed… Again. Coming home is fraught because beyond the messy exes and former bullies, Sabrina also sees ghosts. But only in the Dells. (That’s how things work in this universe- we’re rolling with it.) Sabrina meets Ray, the new guy in town, during a food fight at a local water park. Meet cute via a frozen margarita to the face is a new one to me, but not unwelcome. Ray is trying to revamp a local Supper Club, an extremely Wisconsin establishment whose story could be a book unto itself. And therein was my problem with the book. It had so many elements pulling me in different directions. I think I’d have enjoyed the story more if it had purely focused on either the supernaturally gifted family OR the intricacies of the supper club OR even just the trauma of moving home and finding yourself essentially back in high school. Trying to do it all in one book was too much for my brain. Even though this book didn’t totally work for me, I’ll still read whatever Amy Reichert publishes next. That Wisconsin charm has me hooked.

That’ll do it for me this week, Bookworms. Stay safe, wear a mask, get vaxxed. You know the drill.

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One Response to “2021, Week the Forty-Fourth: Playing Catch Up”

  1. Jenny @ Reading the End

    Ahhh, the two Lucy Parker books I haven’t read yet but really really want to! The Austen Playbook sounds so far up my alley, and Headliners of course sounds wonderful too. I should’ve put those both on my Christmas list! (maybe I will just add them real quick)

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