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Estelle: The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

The Here and Now by Ann BrasharesThe Here and Now by Ann Brashares ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: April 8, 2014
Publisher: Random House / Delacorte Press
Pages: 288
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: semi-dystopian, time travel, romance, secret mission
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley

Summary: Prenna has traveled to the present from the future. Due to the rules she and the rest of her group must follow, life is a little bland except for her friendship (strictly friendship) with Ethan, a kid in her classes. When a strange homeless man warns her about what her people are doing and an upcoming event that will change everything unless she stops it, her doubts about the rules and how she is “living” start to take over. Can Prenna trust Ethan without totally letting her guard down? Most importantly, can they stop the plague from infiltrating the present?

As a long-time fan of Ann Brashares, The Here and Now was one of my most anticipated novels of the year. It’s been just too long since she’s had new work out!

Here are some things I can count on from Ann: beautiful, flowing prose, chemistry between characters, that feeling of not wanting to put down her books for a second, and also, tenderness. I’m happy to say you can find all of these things in The Here and Now. In fact, those qualities were so strong in this book, I stayed up practically all night to finish it.

But. Unfortunately there’s a but: I wanted more. 

This problem is kind of a good one to have, if you think about it. I was so invested in Brashares’ future world from the tiny details — how everyone who traveled to present day had bad eye sight and were required to wear glasses, leaders who monitored everyone so heavily, their own medical advancements ignored despite their needs — especially because they came trickling in all throughout the book. But the most heartbreaking was Prenna having to ignore her memories of the people she was living with in present-day NYC. She had to stick to safe conversations about clothes and could never mention her father (who didn’t come with them on the journey) or moments she remembered from her past. That was probably one of the saddest and loneliest circumstances I’ve ever read about. I couldn’t imagine.

Prenna and Ethan’s chemistry was apparent from the beginning but because she was forced to not get intimate with a “time native” their friendship was a tricky one. He was the first to be welcoming to her when she came to school, he had cute nicknames for her, and he took a lot of pleasure in teaching her how to play a card game. (Plus he never made fun of her for not knowing what normal teenagers know.) I didn’t blame her for imagining more with him, and when they are pushed together to stop some huge cataclysmic event, those feelings continue to grow as does their closeness.

He always seems to know so much about her, and he does. But even if they stop horrible things from happening, could they be together for good?

But despite these details I liked so much, the story felt a little thin. I wanted more background on the community, the future, a focus on the gap between Prenna and her mom, and more build up between Ethan and Prenna, but at least there were a few discoveries that make me want to go back and re-read.

I don’t know if any of you read My Name is Memory, an adult fiction book from Brashares that was supposed to be a part of a trilogy that never happened, but even though it’s been forever since I read it, I thought about it a lot while I was reading The Here and Now and I’m curious to re-read it.

To be honest, I’m actually torn over my rating for this one. This is a book that deserved more pages, and more development. The concept was so interesting. Normally, I would” borrow it” but since I have almost all of Brashares’ books in my collection, I’m leaning toward buying it — maybe not ASAP but eventually.

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April 27, 2014 - 6:06 pm

Hannah @ So Obsessed With - I actually kept thinking of My Name is Memory while I was reading this one, too! Now I want to re-read it. I couldn’t tell if I was thinking of it because the books were actually similar or if it was just because they both had time travel elements. I think you ended up liking this one a little more than I did, but I can definitely agree on everything feeling a bit thin. I enjoyed several aspects of the story, but I need MORE to really fall in love.

April 18, 2014 - 1:32 am

Sara (of The Page Sage) - I think I’ll check this one out from the library after reading your review. I love Ann Brashares’ writing and the world building sounds amazing, but that’s disappointing that the story itself isn’t ore fleshed-out.

April 12, 2014 - 10:06 am

Kelly - This was my first Brashares novel, and while I enjoyed it, I don’t think I connected with it for the same reasons you did. I didn’t find the prose overly memorable, if anything I felt it was a bit too sparse, and her characters were pretty cardboard. But I loved the time travel elements and felt compelled to keep reading to figure out all the details! I totally agree that it needed to be longer to flesh everything out more – I might have felt Prenna and Ethan’s relationship was stronger if it had been given more time to develop, instead of relying on their shared history that I had very little access to. It also might have made the ending feel more like an ending, and less like a beginning.

April 11, 2014 - 9:41 pm

Alexa S. - I’m still very much looking forward to reading THE HERE AND NOW. I do like Ann Brashares’ writing, and I really am curious to see how she tackles this new YA story! I’ve been hearing very mixed things, but overall, they do lean towards the positive, which is nice!

April 9, 2014 - 10:33 am

Candice @ The Grown-Up YA - I’ve never read anything by Brashares (despite owning a couple of the Traveling Pants books). I’m in the middle of reading this one and while it’s good – seriously, fantastic writing – I’m just bored. I’m feeling as though I’m missing something and keep wondering if I’ve skipped a chapter or two. I’m interested in seeing where the plot is going but I have a feeling it will be a very forgettable book for me.

April 8, 2014 - 12:48 pm

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - Interesting! Glad to see your thoughts on this one because I’ve just been struggling to pick it up. I have an ARC but every time I tried to start, I was just afraid of being disappointed. It sounds like it could use a little more but definitely enjoyable!

April 8, 2014 - 11:30 am

Tiff @ Mostly YA Lit - This one frustrated me so much, because, like you, Estelle, I was waiting for a new Ann Brashare novel. I can’t believe how disappointed I was in it – I think you liked it better than I did, maybe because you connected with the characters more? They fell totally flat for me – I just couldn’t get into them.

I did love the writing, and yeah, there were moments of tenderness, but man, the thinness of the story combined with my lack of connection made it a very disappointing read. I’ll still pick up whatever she writes, but honestly, I don’t know if I’ll ever be as happy with her work as I was with Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants…

April 7, 2014 - 9:22 pm

Taylor @ Reading is the Thing - Though I’m a fan of the Sisterhood books, I haven’t read any of Brashares’ other novels. I get the impression that they’ve disappointed readers, and many of the reviews for this one have been so/so. I think I’ll probably pass on it, but I’m glad you got so invested that you wanted more. Thank you for your review!

April 7, 2014 - 11:55 am

Meg - As a longtime fan of Brashares, I’m a little embarrassed to admit I had no idea she had a new work out! This sounds like an intriguing concept, but I always get a little annoyed and skeptical when the world-building in these futuristic stories leaves so very much to the imagination. I’m sure I’ll still give this one a whirl, though. Great review!

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Estelle: Waiting on You by Kristan Higgins (Blog Tour)

Waiting on You by Kristan HIgginsWaiting on You by Kristan Higgins ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: March 25, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Pages: 464
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: first love, matchmaking, small towns
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley. (Thanks!)

Summary: Colleen is part owner and bartender at O’Rourke’s, one of the busiest restaurants/bars in town. She loves her clientele, adores meddling in their love lives, and is basically renowned as one of the friendliest people in town. But her matchmaking skills haven’t quite landed her her own guy. Instead, as hard as she tries, she’s still fixated on her first love, Lucas. With his uncle in terrible shape, Lucas is suddenly back in town and back in her life. Feelings that never went away are consuming her even more, and it seems like she can’t make one move without Lucas being in the vicinity. For Lucas, even with all the distractions in his life (getting his uncle’s affairs in order; straightening out his cousin, Bryce), he’s still drawn to Colleen. But is there too much between them to warrant them a second chance?

So. The important stuff.

I really appreciation that Kristan Higgins took the time to create an impressive microbrew list for O’Rourkes. Empire Cream Ale is one of absolutely favorites and I was happy to see it make an appearance. The author did her homework and I was giddy with excitement (and quite parched while reading — for multiple reasons!). Bravo!

In addition to the main character’s dedication to a varied beer list at her bar, Colleen is known for her matchmaking skills, her flirting, her affection for her half-sister, Savannah, and her warm and welcoming personality. I can’t forget to say she is hilarious. I was literally snorting / laughing out loud while reading about the crazy antics she got herself into. (With or without Lucas involved.)

This is what I appreciate about Higgins’ romance novels: this balance between the sexy stuff and the funny moments in life, while still maintaining the “will they / won’t they” tension. This style makes her novels and her characters feel much more well-developed and down to earth. Can’t complain about either of those things.

Waiting on You is all about first love. When Colleen and Lucas were in high school, they fell for each other so hard and even college couldn’t get between them. (These flashbacks were integrated so well.) But one moment changed everything, and their relationship fell apart. Lucas gets married, and Colleen stays in her hometown. Even though 10 years pass, they don’t ever forget each other. So with Lucas back in town, Colleen is determined to keep her heart safe from Lucas. She can’t risk letting him break it again.

BUT HE IS SO HOT AND SO NICE AND SO HIM.

We all know where this is going.

In addition to all of these feelings, Lucas is going through a tough time. His uncle (who took him in when he was a kid) is dying and needs his help getting his affairs in order. Part of which includes getting his cousin, Bryce, on a track to be more independent. (Shockingly Bryce and Lucas are the same age but since Bryce has been babied by his mom his entire life… he hasn’t exactly amounted to much. Sidenote: he’s a REALLY nice guy, even if he is naive.)

I have to applaud Lucas and Colleen for holding out on me for so long. I don’t think I would have been able to handle it if I were the two of them because I was practically drooling over my Nook, waiting and waiting for the big moment. They are the kind of couple you root for because not only are they super nice but they have this major history and it makes so much sense for them to be together in the present.

Higgins incorporates great side stories too, really giving us a full picture of this town and the people who live there — Colleen’s mother (who was super menopausal… this was very funny) who is having issues getting over her first husband (Colleen’s dad, and a total cheater), the sweet relationship Colleen and Connor have with their half-sister (who is a total tomboy),  the complicated friendship between Paulie and Colleen, and the well-developed relationship Lucas has with his ex-in laws.

I got such a kick out of Waiting on You! It felt so good to laugh so hard and feel so much for the main characters. With each book of hers I read, Higgins is creeping up into my slot for #1 romance writer.

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October 3, 2014 - 9:00 am

In Your Dreams by Kristan Higgins (Review + GIveaway) - […] Goodreads | Buy on B&N | Buy on Amazon | Review of WAITING ON YOU by K. Higgins […]

April 6, 2014 - 12:12 pm

Amy @ bookgoonie - Higgans does beautifully balance the funny & sexy. She made believe in first loves with this one.

April 4, 2014 - 10:13 pm

Alexa S. - “BUT HE IS SO HOT AND SO NICE AND SO HIM.” —> So, basically, this quote is a BIG reason that I want to read this one! But seriously, I love the fact that it’s swoony AND funny. That’s always a winning combination in a contemporary romance for me :D

April 4, 2014 - 9:12 pm

Anna G - Great review! I’m gonna have to add this to my to-read list!

April 4, 2014 - 12:19 pm

Asheley (@BookwormAsheley) - Hey E! YES TO EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS ONE! I think, maybe, this is my favorite in this series so far? Although they are all so CHARMING and great, it’s hard to say. But man I loved Colleen and her matchmaking and her ability to throw out everyone’s favorite drink SO MUCH. I’m seeing everyone love this one. LOVE LOVE LOVE. Jack’s book is next WHEEE!

April 4, 2014 - 11:46 am

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - I’ve been seeing Waiting On You all over the blogosphere lately, and all the positive reviews have convinced me that I need to check out this series by Kristan Higgins. I love family stories, and small town stories, and books that have great characters.

Thanks for the review, Estelle. :)

April 4, 2014 - 10:11 am

daphne - fantastic review, i agree with all of it! people need to buy this book!

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Estelle: The Geography of You and Me by Jen E. Smith

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E SmithThe Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: April 15, 2014
Publisher: Little Brown/Poppy
Pages: 352
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: New York City, travel, relationships with parents, long distance friendship/romance
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley. (Thanks!)

Summary: Owen and Lucy get stuck in an elevator together during a blackout in New York City. Once they are rescued, they explore the darkened (mostly) city and get to know each other. When they wake up the next morning, instead of picking up where they left off, Owen is off taking care of his dad and Lucy is off to (shockingly enough) meet her parents in London. Did their night of chatting, joking, and sharing mean anything more than just that? Owen and Lucy’s lives snowball into something new, maintaining the smallest amount of contact, yet still wondering if they will ever be in the same place again.

There are a few things I’ve come to expect from a Jennifer E. Smith novel: gorgeous prose, intimate friendships, family conflicts, and probably my favorite: lovely details to relish and collect along the way.

I’m so happy to say that The Geography of You and Me delivers in each and every way with the added bonus of a setting that starts off in my favorite place of all-time, New York City, and manages to move along to the West Coast and overseas in a way that made me want to book a plane ticket and explore the world immediately.

Do you remember the blackout in 2003? It was right before I left for college and one of my close friends and I were planning to go into the city after I got out of work. We wanted to see a show in an attempt to make as many memories as possible before we were apart for the first time in years. Well, it never happened. The lights went out in the store I was working in and I went home to no electricity — my plans for the evening totally changed.

My night was definitely not as memorable as Lucy and Owen’s. They spent the night wandering the city, getting to know each other, and looking up at the stars on the roof of their building. (It was their coolest refuge in the crazy heat of the summer.) What I loved most was that their time together wasn’t memorable because something physical happened, but because they shared something — it was a night where they both would have been alone if they hadn’t been caught in the elevator together. (Owen’s dad was stuck in Coney Island, and Lucy’s parents were on vacation in London.) It was one night of so many inconveniences that seemed better than so many others strung together. I didn’t blame each of them for placing so much importance on it, for wondering if it meant as much to the other as it did to them.

I would have been in the same boat.

One magical night doesn’t erase the grieving process that Owen and his dad are going through since his mother died a few months ago. Nor does Lucy’s confusion about feeling excluded from her parents’ lives (and their lavish trips) and wanting so much to see more of the world. Something that really stood out to me were the relationships between each of the characters and their parents. When Owen and his dad decide to leave New York and road trip to their next destination, the two get this unheard of time together to make life work without a mom and a wife. I felt almost jealous of these memories they were making together, even when it was difficult and they didn’t know if each destination was their last.

On the other hand, Lucy had a lot of independence as a teenager. But her parents don’t consider her thoughts when they move her overseas to Edinburgh and her growth as a character has a lot to do with being open with her parents. It’s a difficult thing to do and while she settles as best she can in a new place, she’s sort of at war with this independent life she has been conditioned to have but also trying to figure out how to share her life with her parents and be close to them too.

Through all of this, Owen and Lucy don’t forget each other. There are postcards and emails. Infrequent, but they happen! Most importantly, they don’t let their affection for each other and curiosity about what the blackout night meant for them stop them from moving forward. New locations, new jobs, new schools, and new boyfriends and girlfriends. Life keeps happening, even if you can’t stop thinking about a certain person. The way they miss each other is never angsty or dramatic either… it feels incredibly natural — all due to Smith’s gorgeous and thoughtful writing.

Other standout parts: the realism and awkwardness of the San Francisco trip, an effectively written section where Smith gives us one sentence per chapter (I loved what this did to the pacing), and the depth of character development folded into the story. At one point, I stayed up way past my bedtime because I was in such a trance over Owen and Lucy’s story and I needed to know how it was all going to end.

The Geography of You and Me packed in everything I love so much about the young adult contemporary genre — a fully fleshed out story with two characters who are learning so much about themselves through their relationships with their parents and those special people who make an everlasting imprint in our lives.

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P.S. I now know I need some kind of plan for future blackouts and keeping my cat safe. (Help!)

June 20, 2014 - 1:01 am

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith [thoughts] | - […] it, but The Geography of You and Me sounded interesting and I saw some love for it from Estelle (hm, she must write great reviews because I seem to link back to her a lot!) and I remember […]

June 1, 2014 - 4:51 am

Judith - I was just kind of intrigued by this one before, but OMG IT SOUNDS AMAZING! I just love the sound of the story, and I think Jen E. Smith always writes books with amazing concepts. I actually thought it was going to be about one night, much like Statistical Probability was about one day, but I love that it’s longer than that. Can’t wait to get my hands on this one!!

April 27, 2014 - 6:09 pm

Hannah @ So Obsessed With - Oh, this sounds really good! I loved Statistical Probability but was a little on the fence about This is What Happy Looks Like (mostly because I thought it was fun and cute but ultimately not that memorable). This one sounds like it might be more up my alley, and it’s got your stamp of approval. I definitely need to give it a shot!

April 19, 2014 - 12:01 am

Book Review | The Geography of You and Me | Jennifer E. Smith | Tripping Over Books - […] Estelle @ Rather Be Reading: “The way [Lucy and Owen] miss each other is never angsty or dramatic either… it feels incred… […]

April 5, 2014 - 6:52 pm

Katy - This one sounds pretty cute! I wasn’t sure it would be for me, but I feel like giving it a shot now. Their interactions, and the realism and a bit of awkwardness sounds like it’s enjoyable. The fact that they learn a lot about themselves makes it even better!

April 4, 2014 - 9:52 pm

Alexa S. - Your review for this book is absolutely GORGEOUS, E. I’m seriously obsessed with how perfectly worded it is. You definitely hit the nail on the head here. The Geography of You and Me was a wonderful read, and I loved it oh so much!

April 4, 2014 - 11:50 am

Candice @ The Grown-Up YA - Yay! I’m so glad this one was such a winner. I’ve been looking forward to it for a while. Love how JES incorporates so many different types of meetings in her books and this one sounds just so unique. Like a fantasy meet cute that COULD happen… but really only happens in rom coms. Can’t wait to read this myself! Great review!

April 4, 2014 - 10:07 am

Meg - Sounds like a really great read! I love novels that hop across different locations, and the idea of one magical evening is pretty appealing to me. Reminds me, in a different way, of “Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist.”

April 3, 2014 - 4:38 pm

alice-jane - I just started The Geography of You and Me and I like it so far! I’m glad that you found it so realistic, which definitely makes me want to finish the book sooner! I like how the characters seem more realistic, which was my problem with This Is What Happy Looks Like. I found This Is What Happy Looks Like cute and adorable, but that was it. Hopefully, The Geography of You and Me delivers and I’ll like it as much as you did.

April 3, 2014 - 10:16 am

Hollie @ Music, Books and Tea - I think you listed all my favourite things about Jennifer E. Smith’s novels in your review, and I’m so pleased that this one delivered too. I’ve been desperate to read it ever since I read the premise, there’s something quite awesome about the idea of two people thrown together in a blackout and that night having a bigger effect on them than they expected. It’s nice to see that they don’t stop living their lives because of one another too. Ugh, I’m seriously pining hard over this one now! Lovely review :)

April 3, 2014 - 9:41 am

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - I finished this one not too long ago. I liked it, and it was definitely what I expect from Jennifer E. Smith novels. My only quibble is that I wasn’t able to really connect to Lucy and Owen. I thought they were adorable and so cute, but I think the whole time I was reading it, I knew they weren’t real.

I’m glad you liked this one, though. It sounds like you didn’t have the same kind of expierence during the 2003 blackout that Lucy and Owen did :)

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Estelle: Miss Fortune Cookie by Lauren Bjorkman

Miss Fortune Cookie by Lauren BjorkmanMiss Fortune Cookie by Lauren Bjorkman ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: November 12, 2012
Publisher: Henry Holt
Pages: 279
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: senior year, San Francisco, Chinese culture, friendships, blogging
Format read: ARC paperback from a friend.

Summary: Three best friends living in San Francisco are dealing with college acceptance letters, secret boyfriends, mysterious online identities, old grudges, and how they can move forward and still keep their bond in tact.

Miss Fortune Cookie was such a pleasant surprise for many reasons but here are a few that stood out:

  • It talked about how to deal with the challenges of threesome friendships in a way where each girl had a different (and well-established connection) with each other. (This is so rare.)
  • The challenges of choosing colleges especially when you want to stay close to your best friends and aren’t ready to make that leap out of your comfort zone quite yet.
  • Great insight into the Chinese culture. It was so unique to have a character like Erin who embraced the culture so much (she was born in China) and wanted to officially be a part of it.
  • Realistic portrayal of the internet. Erin secretly blogs as “Miss Fortune Cookie”, dispensing advice to those who ask and I loved the backstory of how her blog gradually rose to fame.

Okay, so let me set it up. Erin, Mei, and Linny are all best friends except Erin and Mei aren’t as close as they used to be because of some unfinished drama back in elementary school. They never talked it through, were reunited thanks to Linny, and while Erin copes, she is hesitant about trusting Mei with her heart again. Fair enough.

I really liked this look at friendships. It’s hard to be in a threesome because at different parts in your life, one person is always closer to another. Bjorkman does another thing really well. She shows the reader how much of these girls has an individual relationship with the other, which (I think) is so important for a threesome to keep on surviving. (So many of my friendships are based on threesomes so I can relate.)

These girls are dealing with so much: obligations to their parents, college acceptances, secret romances, wanting to lose their virginity, not having money all the time (Erin and her mom are struggling to make ends meet), and more. I liked all of these side stories, especially when Erin meets two very cute boys in one night (one is a great match, and the other is a tad younger — okay super young — but offers her some funny, sweet, cute commentary on life) and orders the most ridiculous virgin drink ever at a club. (I laughed out loud.) All of these characters are in situations where they need advice but Erin is usually the one to dispense it, and when an email from one of her friends shows up in her Miss Fortune Cookie mailbox, she feels even more helpless.

All of this leads to some wacky adventures but it also forces the characters to stand up for themselves and what they really want.

As someone who gives a lot of advice herself, I really understood Erin’s frequent dilemma — that blurry line between giving sound advice to someone and letting them go and figure it out on their own. It’s so difficult especially when all you want is for the people in your life to be happy and do what’s best for them. Then there’s the other possibility: the advice you give is taken and things start to fall apart. What happens then?

Miss Fortune Cookie was a great mix of fun and realistic moments and most of all, I enjoyed its focus on strong female friendships, prep for college, and finding the bravery to make the right decisions for yourself.

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April 4, 2014 - 9:24 pm

Alexa S. - Right after reading your review, I headed straight off to the NYPL website to put a copy on hold! Miss Fortune Cookie sounds FANTASTIC. It sounds precisely like the kind of book I’d love, mostly because it’s about friendship. And the added bonus of an Asian culture as part of it? YES PLEASE.

April 2, 2014 - 10:54 pm

Lauren Bjorkman - Thanks for the review. It’s a beautiful moment for an author when a reader gets the book. Buy, borrow, steal, whatever! What I mean is when the reader really understands the story.

Magan and Estelle–a signed copy + cool swag = a fun giveaway. My treat. Let me know if you want to do one.

April 2, 2014 - 2:40 pm

Maggie @ Just a Couple More Pages - After I read the things you liked I was going to put this one on hold at the library, but then when I saw you rated it as “borrow it” and now I don’t know! You’ve left me feeling very confused.

Also, whenever I ask you for advice please just tell me what to do.

April 1, 2014 - 10:03 am

Lola - I never heard of this boook before, but it sounds like a fun read. And I really like the cover and title, so cute! I also think it’s interesting this book deals with the challenge of choosing a college, as there aren’t many books which include that part. Great review :)!

April 1, 2014 - 9:33 am

Meg - Love examinations of friendships, and you’re absolutely right: a story about three best friends is very rare and unique. The idea of the blog is so fun (and one with which we could all relate, I’m sure!), and I love the premise as a whole. Will have to look for this one!

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Big Kids’ Table: Receipt Recommendations

big kids

March 31st already! Here’s hoping spring is truly on the way this time! I’m really looking forward to reading a book outside instead of curled up under 2 blankets at home or in a hefty jacket on the subway. For now, let’s focus on today’s BKT. I am so excited about it!

Here’s the story: Last week, I went to the B&N near work to pick up a copy of Lauren Graham’s Someday, Someday, Maybe for a friend (a book I bought for myself last year) and I got one of those receipts with a short list of books I might be interested in. I’ve gotten so many of these in the past and I barely glance at them before throwing the receipt away.

Since SSM is definitely my taste, I thought I would go through the recommendations and find out if I would consider reading any of them.  Hopefully you’ll get excited about a few too!

Let’s check it out! (Excuse my doodle.)

Receipt Recommendations Big Kids Table 1

Pick #1: Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella

Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella

Lottie just knows that her boyfriend is going to propose during lunch at one of London’s fanciest restaurants. But when his big question involves a trip abroad, not a trip down the aisle, she’s completely crushed. So when Ben, an old flame, calls her out of the blue and reminds Lottie of their pact to get married if they were both still single at thirty, she jumps at the chance. No formal dates—just a quick march to the altar and a honeymoon on Ikonos, the sun-drenched Greek island where they first met years ago.

 Their family and friends are horrified. Fliss, Lottie’s older sister, knows that Lottie can be impulsive—but surely this is her worst decision yet. And Ben’s colleague Lorcan fears that this hasty marriage will ruin his friend’s career. To keep Lottie and Ben from making a terrible mistake, Fliss concocts an elaborate scheme to sabotage their wedding night. As she and Lorcan jet off to Ikonos in pursuit, Lottie and Ben are in for a honeymoon to remember, for better . . . or worse.

Thoughts: This sounds a lot like My Best Friend’s Wedding… kind of. (Love that movie.) I have loved a lot of Sophie’s books in the past. I was a big fan of the Shopaholic series until it just turned into a drama fest and I really love her book, The Domestic Goddess. It’s hilarious. This synopsis sounds so familiar but it also sounds like it could be good…

Final answer: I wouldn’t buy it. Possibly borrow.

Pick #2:  The Star Attraction by Allison Sweeney

The Star Attraction by Alison Sweeney

Sophie is a Hollywood publicist who has a fabulous job, a fabulous boyfriend, and a fabulous life. She even scores her PR firm’s most important actor client and every woman’s dream—Billy Fox. 

But will a steamy make-out session in a restaurant alley with her big-name client cost Sophie her job? And does she really want an escape from her life and her loving, if imperfect, relationship with her investment banker boyfriend? The Star Attraction takes us on a wild ride through one woman’s daytime soap come to life.

Thoughts: Well, B&N knows me because I already bought this book when it came out. I haven’t read it yet but seeing it on this list made me dig it out of my bookshelf. I’m a big fan of Allison and I do love Hollywood stories…

Final answer: Getting to this super soon!

Pick #3: The Lost Husband by Katherine Center

The Lost Husband by Katherine Center

After the sudden loss of her husband in a car crash, Libby Moran falls on hard times-so hard, in fact, that she’s forced to move in with her hyper-critical mother. There, sleeping on the pull-out sofa so her two children can share the guest room, she can’t stop longing for the life she had. So when a letter arrives from Libby’s estranged aunt offering her a job and a place to live on her goat farm, Libby jumps at the opportunity. But starting over is never easy. With an aunt who is nothing like she imagined, a shaggy farm manager with a tragic past, a psychic at the feed store who claims to be able to contact the dead, and a bully at her daughter’s school, country life isn’t at all what Libby expected. But it also offers her what no other place can: A chance to define the good life for herself. A chance to piece together the mysteries of her own past. A chance, even, at love. And, finally, a chance to bring herself, and her family, back to life.

Thoughts: First thing that caught my eye with this one was that Goodreads is telling me readers also enjoyed Nowhere But Home, one of my favorites from last year. I love a country setting and second chances.

Final answer: Ding ding ding. I’m adding this one to my TBR immediately.

Pick #4: The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin

the american heiress by daisy goodwinTraveling abroad with her mother at the turn of the twentieth century to seek a titled husband, beautiful, vivacious Cora Cash, whose family mansion in Newport dwarfs the Vanderbilts’, suddenly finds herself Duchess of Wareham, married to Ivo, the most eligible bachelor in England. Nothing is quite as it seems, however: Ivo is withdrawn and secretive, and the English social scene is full of traps and betrayals. Money, Cora soon learns, cannot buy everything, as she must decide what is truly worth the price in her life and her marriage.

Thoughts: I’m not sure why this book from the historical fiction genre would be recommended for those who buy Lauren Graham’s. I’m really not. The description is a little dry, and it doesn’t seem like my thing.

Final thought: I’ll pass on this one.

Pick #5: Revenge Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

Revenge Wears Prade by Lauren WeisbergerAlmost a decade has passed since Andy Sachs quit the job “a million girls would die for” working for Miranda Priestly at Runway magazine—a dream that turned out to be a nightmare. Andy and Emily, her former nemesis and co-assistant, have since joined forces to start a highend bridal magazine. The Plunge has quickly become required reading for the young and stylish. Now they get to call all the shots: Andy writes and travels to her heart’s content; Emily plans parties and secures advertising like a seasoned pro. Even better, Andy has met the love of her life. Max Harrison, scion of a storied media family, is confident, successful, and drop-dead gorgeous. Their wedding will be splashed across all the society pages as their friends and family gather to toast the glowing couple. Andy Sachs is on top of the world. But karma’s a bitch. The morning of her wedding, Andy can’t shake the past. And when she discovers a secret letter with crushing implications, her wedding-day jitters turn to cold dread. Andy realizes that nothing—not her husband, nor her beloved career—is as it seems. She never suspected that her efforts to build a bright new life would lead her back to the darkness she barely escaped ten years ago—and directly into the path of the devil herself…

Thoughts: Hmm. I feel a lot about Weisberger like I do about Kinsella. I loved a few of their books but they started to feel like the same thing over and over again. Devil Wears Prada was my favorite book of hers so I would be curious how main character Andi is doing… but then again the reviews are pretty poor.

Final thought: I’m curious. A “borrow” at some point but I’m not rushing to the library for it.

Results: All in all, B&N didn’t do too bad with this one. I already one own, would buy another, borrow 2 and skip only one. I’d say those odds are pretty good.

What do you think? Any of these titles strike you? Or have you read any great grown up books lately?
Let me know below!

April 30, 2014 - 9:02 am

Big Kids's Table: More than Just Romance (at Harlequin) - […] on this feature. Big thanks to those of you who gave me positive feedback on last month’s Receipt Recommendations; I will hopefully be doing another one sometime in the future. (But I really must take a break from […]

April 27, 2014 - 6:16 pm

Hannah @ So Obsessed With - Ohhh I really like this spin on Big Kids Table! Please keep doing it. But, yeah, pass on American Heiress. I have NO idea why they recommended it with SSM, but I did not like that book at all. And you know I love historical fiction. That is all. xo

April 11, 2014 - 5:10 pm

Maggie @ Just a Couple More Pages - I love this feature, go buy more books so you can do more! ;) I agree with you about Wedding Night, I’ve loved most of Sophie’s other books (including her last one before Wedding Night, something about a phone number), but it’s been a year and I still haven’t read it. I added The Star Attraction to my TBR, it sounds great and I’m curious about Allison Sweeney’s writing. I really liked The American Heiress, but I love historical fiction. And Revenge Wears Prada, I can’t decide if I want to read it or if I think it’s just silly that there’s a sequel.

April 6, 2014 - 7:21 am

Sunday Post: 62nd Edition - […] Big Kid’s Table: Recommendations Super cute! I really need to start doing something like this. […]

April 1, 2014 - 12:18 am

Alexa S. - I’m a Sophie Kinsella fan, but I haven’t read Wedding Night or I’ve Got Your Number yet. This post reminds me that I really should! I also really like the sound of The Star Attraction and The Lost Husband, plus I do kind of want to see what happens in Revenge Wears Prada. Winning choices, for the most part!

March 31, 2014 - 6:29 pm

Lucy - I rarely look at those book recommendation receipts either, but I love that you dug in to take a closer look! I’ve definitely been on a grown-up read kick lately. And agreed-The Lost Husband and The Star Attraction (cute cover!) look the most promising. I recently picked up the SSM audio and I hope to fit it in soon.

March 31, 2014 - 10:24 am

Leah - oh gosh, E, the last time I went to Barnes & Noble was last year to get my mom a new nook for Christmas. The time before that? TWO Christmases ago when I picked up one of my favorite MG novels for Matt’s cousin. I had NO idea they started giving recs!!

My Best Friend’s Wedding is one of those movies where I will drop EVERYTHING and watch it anytime it’s on! Loove it.

Some of these sound so fun!!

March 31, 2014 - 9:08 am

daphne - I think I’m with you on all of them. I have been wanting to read Wedding Night b/c I love SK, too. and The Lost Husband is going on my TBR, though I’ve never heard of it. thanks for putting it on my radar.

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