Category: Contemporary Fiction

Apr 07

2020 Weekly Wrap-Up: The Fourteenth

Contemporary Fiction, Weekly Wrap-Up 4

How you holding up, Bookworms?

As we head into our fourth week of working from home, I’ve noticed some things. First, Sam has averaged one day per week where he does not take a nap. Second, I have averaged one day per week where I have a crying jag simply because it’s all too much. Often these are the same day, though sometimes not. I’m tired and I’m frightened and I’m angry. But none of that is new. I’m still finding solace in reading, and this week, I FINALLY finished Miracle Creek by Angie Kim. My slow-poke-iness wasn’t necessarily the fault of the narrative, simply that I find myself with much less time for audio books than I used to have (because commute, quiet office, etc.) Anyway.

In a small town in Virginia, a Korean immigrant family open a hyperbaric oxygen tank treatment center. They attract an assortment of clients, from those seeking treatment for autistic children, cerebral palsy, and even infertility. Then, one night, the chamber explodes, killing two people and severely injuring several more. As the dust settles, it becomes clear that the explosion wasn’t an accident. A courtroom driven mystery unfolds as the reader slowly discovers that nearly all the characters are harboring troubling secrets.

This book was… A lot. It was emotionally complex and I’m still processing my feelings. On one hand, I related to the mothers of the special needs kids seeking treatment. Sammers is not special needs, but being a parent is can be emotionally and physically draining under the best of circumstances. The worries and added pressures with finding appropriate treatments, and knowing when to step back has got to be super rough. Not to mention, depending on the level of disability, much of everyday life would be that much harder.

On the other hand, particularly right now, I’m disgusted at the way society treats the disabled. I’ve seen so many Twitter threads by disabled people having to explain that they’re not disposable. Because, really, before COVID-19 really got rolling, the general impression was that it was only going to hit older people and those with complicated health situations. So many people dismissed the virus as not that big a deal because it wouldn’t affect them, just the broken people, and who cares about protecting them? It was REAL gross. Not a good look, humanity. Reading this book while watching all of this unfold made me feel kind of gross for identifying with the mothers at all.

Like I said- COMPLEX EMOTIONS. If you enjoy that sort of thing, definitely read Miracle Creek. If you need to give your brain a break from the actual horror we’re living through, put this one on the shelf with the pandemic books. We can all revisit it in 10 years when this is less raw and horrifying.

As for what I’m reading this week, I’m still enjoying Roshani Chokshi’s A Crown of Wishes. Pure fantasy is such a delicious escape from the here and now. No matter how awful things here get, I’m not being threatened by poisonous mystical beings, so I’ve got that going for me. I keep eyeing the new Christina Lauren book The Honey-Don’t List on Scribd’s audio offerings, but I don’t know when I’m going to be able to start another audio book. A certain small boy is currently fighting his nap in a big way, and no nap means no audio book time. Siiiigh. I even emailed his daycare teacher for help- apparently he takes naps completely unassisted when he’s at school. BECAUSE OF COURSE.

So, Bookworms. What are you reading this week? And does anyone have any magical tips for getting a stubborn 2.5 year old to take the naps they desperately need?

If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. The links in the above text direct to Amazon, but if you are able, please consider making a purchase through a local, independent book store by using the links below. And don’t forget to check out your local library’s digital offerings!

Miracle Creek
A Crown of Wishes
The Honey-Don’t List 

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Feb 27

The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

Audio Books, Contemporary Fiction, Romance 1

Greetings Bookworms,

I just finished the most delightful Rom-Com. As I started writing little notes to myself for my weekly wrap-up, it quickly became clear that I had a lot to say about The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa. Hence, it shall have its own post. You deserve it, you sweet little book, you.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgOur protagonist, Carolina Santos, is a wedding planner who manages to keep doing her job despite having been left at the alter herself (early aughts J-Lo vibes are inevitable, really, but, this is a better story.) Carolina Santos is excellent at her job, and she’s worked very hard to cultivate her no-nonsense persona. After she masterfully saves the eyebrows (you read that right) of the groom one at one memorable event, she’s offered the opportunity to interview for a position to be a swanky hotel’s wedding coordinator. The opportunity sounds almost too good to be true, considering she’s going to be losing her affordable retail space and is OVER the exhausting work of running her own business. The other shoe inevitably drops when she discovers that the marketing team she’s supposed to build her pitch with consists of her ex-fiance Drew and his brother Max, AKA, the WORST BEST MAN EVER (since he apparently encouraged Drew to ditch Lina.) As you might imagine, hijinks ensue.

Let’s get to the good stuff. First, Lina is the daughter of Brazilian immigrants living in the Washington, DC area. I think this is the first book I’ve ever read focusing on Brazilian immigrants, and it was a lot of fun to hear about the family’s dynamic and traditions. And, as an added perk of listening to the audio version, I really enjoyed hearing the little snippets of spoken Portuguese peppered into the dialogue. (That would have been less fun if I’d read it myself, because I don’t speak Portuguese and would certainly have mentally mispronounced all of it.)

This book also hit upon one of my favorite romance tropes, the classic “THERE’S ONLY ONE BED!” But it didn’t stop there! I’d like to see “OOPS WE ACCIDENTALLY LANDED IN A COUPLE’S COUNSELLING RETREAT” become a romance trope in its own rite, because it was hilarious and wonderful. That’s another thing- this book was funny. You know how when you type “LOL” but you really only exhale sharply through your nose and smirk? This was not that type of funny. This was “bystanders are going to wonder what the heck is going on because I’m wearing ear buds and I can’t stop giggling” funny.

The only issue I had with this audio book is that the male narrator’s voice had a quality that kept making me think of Norm Macdonald. And while mid-90s teenage Katie did kind of have a thing for him on SNL, much like my crush on Jonathan Taylor Thomas, this one didn’t age well. GET OUT OF MY HEAD, NORM, YOU’RE RUINING THIS FOR ME! (I’ll own that this criticism is 100% on me; I doubt anyone else has a subconscious Norm Macdonald fixation.)

All the humor and fun aside, this book had a lot of heart. Max and Lina made so much progress in dealing with their emotional baggage. I mean, Max and Drew have this awful toxic competitive relationship that needs a lot of unpacking. And Lina keeps such a tight reign on her emotions because the world has penalized her for having feelings. I’m a walking bundle of messy, leaky feelings, and while it can be inconvenient and embarrassing, White ladies are afforded liberties with emotions that Black Latinx women are not. I WANT TO HUG YOUR FICTIONAL FACE OFF, LINA, YOU DESERVE BETTER!

All that is to say, if you’re in the market for a romantic comedy, I cannot recommend The Worst Best Man highly enough. Humor, heart, and a dash of heat make it an all-around fabulous read!

If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Text links in the post above direct to amazon, but if you prefer to shop through local, independent bookstores, click on the image or the link below:

The Worst Best Man

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Jan 23

How to Hack a Heartbreak by Kristin Rockaway

Chick Lit, Contemporary Fiction, Romance 1

Hey there Bookworms!

I was totally going to stick with my weekly updates, but I thought I’d make things easier on myself and jot down some notes before writing up the wrap-up post… And then a whole book review came out? So yeah. Apparently this is a thing I’m doing again, I guess. Please enjoy my disjointed thoughts on How to Hack a Heartbreak

I recently finished listening to the audio version of Kristin Rockaway’s How to How to Hack a Heartbreak. I should note that when I mentioned the book last week, I initially typed “Kristin” in the post, then changed it to “Kirstin” because Scribd has a big old typo in their system. I’m fairly confident I’ve got it correct now, thanks to the book’s cover image.

How to Hack a Heartbreak is about a woman named Mel Strickland. She works for a tech startup incubator. She’s been stuck at the help desk forever and the work environment is beyond toxic (seriously SO INFURIATING.) So many of the protagonist’s interactions with men have been crappy (her dad, her co-workers, internet dating, randos on the Subway) that she creates her own little website in a fit of catharsis. It’s designed to expose the type of jerks who spam women with dick pics on dating apps. One day she and a co-worker (Alex) discover they have a bit of a spark, and he appears to be a decent dude- but Mel’s got some serious trust issues (for obvious reasons.) She has a super cool friend group, though, and thank goodness for that, because Mel’s little JerkAlert website goes viral. Between her new website, her horrendous job, and her budding romance, things get complicated in a hurry.

If love scenes make you uncomfortable, this is the book for you! It takes the fade-to-black route rather than going into detail. Personally, I rather enjoy a bit of steam in my novels (particularly those categorized as romance), so that was something of a disappointment for me. Also, the narrator of How to Hack a Heartbreak sounded aggressively Midwestern to me which I found distracting, since the book was set in NYC. I know Mel wasn’t originally from NYC, but since they didn’t mention a Midwestern hometown (or if they did, it was glossed over quickly), it threw me for a loop. The actual text did all the right NYC things, from what I understand. I mean, they said “standing on line” instead of “standing in line” which I’ve heard is what New Yorkers say. I myself am aggressively Midwestern so I can’t say I’ve ever actually heard anyone use that phrase, but Twitter tells me that it’s a thing. That’s not to say the narrator isn’t great- she is! She just sounds… Midwestern. At least to my admittedly in-expert ears.

All in all, I liked How to Hack a Heartbreak but I didn’t LOVE it. I think that’s partially because I read a similar novel by Alisha Rai a few months ago and it was SUPERB. It’s hard not to compare two novels that revolve around women in tech that deal extensively with dating apps, and it’s hard not to suffer by comparison to The Right Swipe.  So, How to Hack a Heartbreak is a decent book, but not my super fave. If you like the premise and don’t mind steamy scenes, definitely check out The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai. (I’m now feeling guilty about falling off the blogging wagon despite having read SO MANY EXCELLENT BOOKS. These books deserved better, but the backlog is too overwhelming. I’ll keep giving them shout-outs as I move forward though!)

Alright then. Surprise book review. Check and check.

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Text links in the body of this post direct to Amazon, but if you prefer to order through an independent book store, check out the links below.*

How to Hack a Heartbreak
The Right Swipe

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May 14

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Contemporary Fiction, Romance 3

Greetings, Bookworms!

As you know, I’ve been blogging sporadically (at best) lately, so I haven’t been accepting review requests or seeking review copies of new books from publishers. If there was any author(s) who could get me to dust off my old NetGalley account and beg for a book, it’s Christina Lauren. I’ve burned through nearly all of their standalone novel back list at this point, and patience is not a virtue I possess in abundance. If it wasn’t obvious, I received a complimentary digital review copy of The Unhoneymooners from the publisher for review consideration. I usually preface my reviews of books I receive for free with an assurance that I will provide a fair and honest review and have not been corrupted, but it seems a bit silly in this case. It was practically a foregone conclusion that I was going to LOVE this book. I wouldn’t have requested it otherwise.Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Olive Torres is chronically unlucky. Her love life, career, and relationship with arcade claw machines have all been tainted by her endlessly bad luck. Her twin sister, on the other hand, wins EVERYTHING. In fact, Ami has funded her entire wedding with the fruits of her winning streak. Dresses, hotel, honeymoon, reception buffet- free, free, free! Unfortunately for Ami, her perfect luck turns on her when food poisoning from tainted seafood fells the ENTIRE wedding party and guest list. Well, the entire wedding party EXCEPT for Olive, whose “unlucky” shellfish allergy required her to steer clear of the seafood buffet. Because Ami and her new husband are down for the count, she pleads with Olive to go on her Honeymoon in her place. The only thing worse than paying for something is getting something for free and then wasting it, I guess. But Olive’s luck wouldn’t just allow her a magical free Maui vacation- she’s got to take the only OTHER guest who didn’t get sick with her- her arch nemesis Ethan.

Ethan, brother of the ill-fated groom, and Olive have never seen eye to eye and have been hostile toward each other throughout the entirety of their siblings’ courtship. Now they have to pretend to be newlyweds in order to take advantage of the free vacation and not drive each other bananas in the process. Things get off to a rocky start when the pair keep running into people they know on Maui while they’re assuming the identities of their siblings. Who knew so many Minnesotans booked the same resort? However, Maui will be Maui. As the trip progresses, Ethan and Olive thaw from outright dislike to grudging tolerance to something approaching fondness…

It’s a rom-com, so I think it’s pretty obvious where this is heading. It’s a heck of a fun ride! I now desperately want to take a Hawaiian vacation (that I don’t have to pay for.) Ethan and Olive’s banter is witty and delightful, and peppered with Harry Potter references. The way to my heart is casually accusing your love interest of hiding his horcruxes in paradise, apparently. I enthusiastically recommend The Unhoneymooners to anyone who enjoys romance, comedy, and joy, as well as those who hate buffets and would like a fictional character to back them up on their anti-buffet stance.

If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Text links go to Amazon digital versions, but if you prefer paper books and it’s within your budget, please consider shopping your local indie bookstore through this link, by clicking on the book cover, or in visiting in person.

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Mar 08

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

Contemporary Fiction, Plague 7

Greetings Bookworms!

I’m in a weird head space right now, y’all. I’ve had “Copacabana” playing in my head all day and decided that “Oubliette Gazette” would be a great newsletter name for people trapped in secret sunken trap door prisons. Until, that is, I was reminded that people in oubliettes don’t really get the luxury of newsletters, so it’s just a wasted rhyme. I lay the blame in part on the fact that I wasn’t able to read before bed last night. My Kindle’s battery was kaput and the cord isn’t long enough to stretch from the wall to my bed. And YES, I know I could have read a PAPER book instead, but then I’d need a book light (which also necessitates batteries) and I’d be reading an extra book which would throw off my whole mojo. I normally have one eyeball book and one audio book going at any given time, so throwing an additional title in there would just be chaos. Let’s just talk about one of my recent reads, shall we?

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker was a near perfect read for me. I was expecting to enjoy this book, because I really liked her first novel, The Age of Miracles (review), but this book was another level. The Dreamers is set in a remote California town. A girl at the local college falls asleep and is unable to be woken by her roommate, the paramedics, or the doctors at the hospital. When other students begin falling into this strange sleep, it sets off a panic in the town. Plague books are VERY much in my wheelhouse, so it’s no surprise that the plot of this book appealed to me. Remember in the 90s when that movie Outbreak came out with the monkey and the yellow suits and Renee Russo being smarter than everyone else? This book had a similar feel, but the writing was so lovely and melodic that while I felt all the dread, it also had a dreamy quality. Which, hello, GENIUS, because the book is literally about a sleep plague.

Here are some things this book did particularly well:

Illustrate dorm life: I think Karen Thompson Walker must have lived in a dorm very much like the ones I lived in, because the vibe was pitch perfect. The descriptions of the communal bathrooms alone- my word- I had the most vivid recollections of the University Hall 4B bathrooms circa 2001. Granted, this book wasn’t set in 2001, but there have got to be dorms somewhere that haven’t upgraded to those swanky suites. That somewhere is apparently the fictional Santa Lora College. And probably lots of other places. I don’t know. I’m, like, medium old. I didn’t get a cell phone until I was a sophomore in college and when I did it only worked outside the dorm because reception was bad . If I wanted to talk indoors I had to use a landline and a calling card. GET OFF MY LAWN.

Illustrate new parenthood: One of the families living in Santa Lora during this plague are the parents of a newborn baby. Walker mentioned in the forward of the book that she’d written the novel during the time her two children were born and I felt every smidgen of that reality. Being a new-ish parent myself, the intensity of those sleepless nights and constant self doubt hit home. There’s a scene where the family tries to leave town only to be met by a quarantine border that just about broke me. The second guessing and the terror of what would become of the baby? I was paranoid as heck about Sammers getting exposed to whooping cough or the flu during the period when he was too young to be vaccinated. A friggin mystery plague with a new baby? INTENSE.

Realistic depiction of disease spread and containment. As much as I dig a zombie apocalypse story, I think it’s pretty unrealistic that the contagion would be able to spread universally unchecked, you know? Especially since the majority of zombie stories involve slow, shuffling zombies. Quarantines would certainly be put in place, and those slowpokes would be rounded up quickly. Plus, it’s a contagion spread primarily by biting, so I have a hard time believing in the plausibility of such rapid spread. It’s probably one of the reasons I can stomach zombie novels and other monster fare whereas I have a hard time with horror stories about, like, evil humans. But I digress. The point I’m trying to make is that I found the description of the way this disease spread very believable. Walker wisely chose to liken the spread pattern to that of the measels, which, frankly, has made me extra grateful for SCIENCE because measels is WAY more contagious than I ever realized. YAY VACCINES! Anyway. Quarantines were put into place early. Even when there were gaps in the quarantine (because there’s always going to be someone who sneaks out) exposure was contained. Like, seriously, good job, fictional government. I’m proud of you. There was plenty of chaos WITHIN the cordoned-off town to keep the drama going- no need to devastate the entire planet (which is good, because Walker did THAT in The Age of Miracles and it gave me actual nightmares.) The threat is still kind of there, though, because viruses are tricky bastards. No IMMINENT DOOM, at least.

Have I convinced you to read this book yet? I’m running out of exclamation points! GO FORTH AND READ!

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

 

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May 24

The Simplicity of Cider by Amy E Reichert

Contemporary Fiction, Cozy Lady Fiction 9

Greetings Bookworms!

All apologies for my periodic disappearances. Things that have happened since I talked to you last: I passed the glucose tolerance test meaning that I don’t have gestational diabetes! This is particularly excellent news as I’ve several close friends and family members who have found themselves being stuck with needles and counting their carbs during their final trimester of pregnancy. It seemed extremely unpleasant and I consider myself lucky to have dodged that bullet. Also! I became unnecessarily worried at a doctor’s appointment and had them order extra tests, one of which involved me having to collect my own pee in a jug for 24 hours. That’ll teach me to get worked up over nothing. (So gross. BTW, everything was totally fine. I just have a propensity for foot swelling, nothing more sinister. Because I made them check for everything. They keep claiming I’m nowhere near their most neurotic patient, but I have my doubts.)

Also, I’ve been reading books! One of which was Amy E Reichert’s latest offering, The Simplicity of Cider. *I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through the publisher for review consideration. As per usual, I’m still going to tell you what I actually thought, because that’s how I operate. Terrible manners.*

The Simplicity of Cider takes place at an apple orchard in Door County, Wisconsin. (The Midwest love makes my heart go pitter-pat!) Sanna Lund is single mindedly focused on producing a line of cider from her family’s fifth generation apple orchard. So focused, in fact, that she’s a bit prickly with the rest of the world. Except, perhaps, her elderly father, but that might have something to do with his insistence on having an apple dessert every evening. (It’s hard to be prickly to someone who is willing to make you pie on the regular, you know?) Of course, her father is having a harder and harder time taking care of the orchard, and Sanna’s brother has been pressuring her to consider selling the land.

When Isaac Banks shows up, he is hired to help out with the tasks Sanna’s father finds difficult to do. But, of course, Isaac comes with his own baggage, namely a young son and the specter of the boy’s mother and her troubled past.

I could go on, but this book provided me with everything I wanted. A light read with a little bit of romance and even a tiny dash of Sarah Addison Allen style magical realism. I must admit, I was a little nervous to pick this book up. I loved The Coincidence of Coconut Cake (review) for its light, fun, foodie fiction but wasn’t quite as thrilled with the somewhat more stolid Luck, Love & Lemon Pie (review). I’m so pleased to see that Reichert went in more of a Coconut direction with her latest offering- it was quite the treat. I also ADORED the subtle cameo of a couple of Coconut‘s characters in The Simplicity of Cider. It was the apple dessert to top off this comfort food-esque novel.

Reading this book reminded me of how much I miss hard cider. On the upside, Babysaurus will be here by the fall, so I should be able to sip some cider come apple season. Talk to me, Bookworms. What’s your favorite apple-y treat?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

 

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Jan 17

Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

Contemporary Fiction 13

Greetings, Bookworms!

The fact that it’s cold and gray doesn’t appear to have had the desired effect on my blogging output. So much for that theory. I’m still reading, of course, in between bouts of hibernation and snacking. Yes, I’m probably part bear. Let’s not make a big deal out of it, okay? Anyhow, a while back I read A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman (review) and really dug it, so I thought I’d check out some more of his work. That’s how I came to read Britt-Marie Was Here.

Britt-Marie is sixty three years old. She’s not difficult, she just happens to like things a certain way. A well organized cutlery drawer and a thorough understanding of the virtues of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) are key to a proper life. Kent never fully appreciated the extent to which Britt-Marie kept his life in order, unfortunately, and she’s simply had enough of their loveless 40 year marriage. Once she’s left, she takes a job the only place she can find, the rather derelict town of Borg. It was once a thriving town with a large trucking company, but it was hit very hard by the financial crisis. Britt-Marie begins work attempting to bring order to the soon-to-be-demolished recreation center, and soon finds herself somehow coaching a youth soccer team.

Fredrik Backman has the market cornered on curmudgeonly older Swedes with hearts of gold, let me tell you. Over the course of the book, we learn a lot of the circumstances that shaped Britt-Marie into the woman she became, and we are privileged to witness the circumstances that surround her metamorphosis. I mean, she ends up coaching soccer, for heaven’s sake. It’s adorable.

I must admit that I was somewhat surprised by the plot of this book. For some reason, I never think of a country like Sweden having any problems. It’s one of those countries that always seems to be topping the “best countries to live in” lists. I just never thought “oh hey, I bet there are economically depressed areas of Sweden that are plagued with crime, unemployment, and general discontent.” Because I’m incapable of recognizing complexity, or something. Actually, I’ve got a quote from the book that totally works right here. Ahem: “Societies are like people in that way. If you don’t ask too many questions and don’t shift any heavy furniture around, there’s no need to notice their worst sides.” You should probably read this book. It’s a delight. Britt-Marie Was Here– check it out!

Talk to me Bookworms! What’s the first thing you think of when you think of Sweden?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Nov 18

Faithful by Alice Hoffman

Contemporary Fiction 5

Good Day, Bookworms!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a list of authors whose new work I get awfully excited about. I’ve read a good number of Alice Hoffman’s books over the years and they rarely disappoint. That’s why when I saw she had a new offering, I jumped on Netgalley and made the “pretty please?” face. (Alright, it’s all electronic so no publisher actually saw the face I made when I clicked request, but the face happened and you deserved to know about it.) *I received a complimentary electronic copy of Faithful by Alice Hoffman for review consideration. I’ll still be honest, though, because that’s how I roll.*

faithfulShelby Richmond is an ordinary teenage girl growing up on Long Island until the fateful night when a car she is driving slides on ice and is involved in a horrific wreck. Shelby’s best friend’s future is taken from her, and though Shelby is physically uninjured, she hardly walks away unscathed. What follows is a story of guilt, redemption, and rebuilding.

Shelby attempts to escape her bad memories in Long Island by moving to NYC. She’s a survivor if nothing else, and along the way she inadvertently collects a little family of lost souls.

Oh, my heart. I had so many FEELINGS with this one. Shelby got all up in my psyche. I mean, a broken girl who loves Chinese food and bookstores and rescues dogs? How could I not get emotionally attached? The book started a little on slow side for me, but once I got into it, I couldn’t put it down. I stayed up waaaaaaaaaaay too late to finish it. And then I stayed up a little longer crying because FEELINGS. But that’s the reading life, right?

You want a book that gets into your guts? Faithful by Alice Hoffman will not disappoint.

Alright Bookworms. What was the last book that gut punched you in the feelings? I think I need more of this. 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

 

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Aug 17

The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close

Contemporary Fiction 6

Greetings Bookworms!

Prior to BEA I’d only been to two author events, but I must admit that having interacted with an author especially in person makes for a different reading experience. Fun fact: I am fond of people who are nice to me. Granted, when authors are trying to promote their books, they tend to be nice to those who might purchase and/or talk other folks into purchasing their books. Just because being nice is also in an author’s best interest doesn’t make me enjoy it any less when they compliment my penguin cardigan. All this is to say that Jennifer Close complimented my (admittedly adorable) penguin cardigan when I got my book signed at BEA. And now we have a special bond. Obviously.

thehopefulsHer latest offering, The Hopefuls, is super timely considering that we’re in the midst of a (seemingly endless) election year. Beth knew going into her relationship with Matt that his eventual goal was to work in politics and eventually run for office, but that all seemed far away when they were living in New York and he was working as a lawyer. When they uproot their lives in New York to move to DC and follow Matt’s career, Beth has a hard time adjusting to her new reality. She hates everything about the city from the traffic circles to the casual discussions of government security clearances. Things begin to turn around when Matt and Beth meet charismatic White House staffer Jimmy and his wife Ashleigh. The two couples strike up a fast and intense friendship, but things soon get complicated. Politics, jealousy, and rumors threaten to tear apart the fragile sense of normalcy Beth has only recently attained.

This book was very cheeky and a lot more fun than I expected it would be. The whole political sphere isn’t something that’s ever been a huge interest of mine. I mean, DUH, I have opinions and I CARE, but I have no interest in engaging in debates or anything. Which is why I find the desire to work in politics so baffling. (For the record, I’m super grateful that there are people who DO want to run things,  but campaigning sounds like the ninth circle of Hell to me.) Thanks to the Beaks and Geeks Podcast (which is great fun if you have the time to give it a listen) I learned that author Jennifer Close had the same reaction to DC that Beth did upon moving there. The Hopefuls isn’t autobiographical or anything, but Beth’s DC rants came straight from Close’s initial reactions. No WONDER it felt so authentic!

Is this glowing review the result of the author’s complimenting my ensemble? Not really. At least not intentionally. I really did like the book. But, you know how it is. Unconscious bias and all that. Why don’t you give The Hopefuls a read yourself and form your own opinion?

Talk to me Bookworms! Would you ever consider running for office or does it sound as awful to you as it does to me?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I’ll probably use it to buy more penguin things. Because PENGUINS.*

 

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Jun 13

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

Contemporary Fiction 12

Happy Monday, Bookworms!

I have been terrible about reviewing books lately. I don’t mean that what I’ve been posting is terrible (because I obviously think that what I’m saying is very important and interesting all the time) buuuut I’ve been reading a whole lot more than I have been posting. I’m going to try break out of the cycle this week, folks. Andi at Estella’s Revenge is hosting a week long Reviewathon and I am all in. First on the agenda is one of my BEA acquisitions, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick.

curiouscharmsArthur Pepper is a 69 year old widower who is merely going through the motions in life. He’s spent the year since his wife passed away engaged in the most mundane of activities, his most rewarding relationship being with his houseplant, Frederica. On the one-year anniversary of his wife Miriam’s death, however, things begin to change. Arthur finally brings himself to clear out some of Miriam’s things when he stumbles across a piece of jewelry he’s never seen before. Arthur is completely perplexed by the bracelet and its unusual collection charms. Arthur’s curiosity is piqued for the first time since Miriam’s death. The former homebody embarks on an adventure that leads him to encounter locations, people, and trousers he never would have expected.

I hate to play the comparison game, but I’m going to anyway. Raise your hand if you’ve seen Up! Yes, the Pixar movie. The one where the widower goes on a journey and finds purpose and joy in life in spite of his grief? The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is a little like that. With fewer balloons and more ferns named Frederica, of course. But the general vibe? Totally there. I couldn’t help but love Arthur and all the misfits and oddballs he meets along the way. This is a feel good book of the first degree, and utterly charming. If you need a few warm fuzzies, this is your read, folks!

Talk to me, Bookworms! What’s your favorite feel-good read?

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