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Mini Reviews - June

Monday, June 10, 2013

I haven't really read anything recently that has inspired a gushing, full review. So, I thought I'd do another set of mini's. 

This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

What's the deal? Ellie and Graham have been setting their keyboards alight, sending each other witty emails after a misdirected message brought them together. However, Ellie doesn't know that Graham is THE Graham Larkin- young Hollywood royalty. So, when Graham manages to relocate his film to Maine to be near Ellie and introduces himself, she has to come to terms with the possibility of love, and being in love, with a famous person.

Any good? It was nice. Definitely a summer read that could be finished in an afternoon by the pool. The characters felt a little flat but the overall themes of belonging and making connections were enough to compensate. The email exchanges were sweet and funny. I only wish we'd gotten to know Quinn and the other supporting characters a little better. I preferred The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight though.

Should I get it? I  saw the film titles You've Got Mail and Sleepless in Seatlle peppering the Goodreads page for this book. I've not seen the former and can scarcely remember the latter but I suppose if you like those kinds of films, this would be right up your street. 

The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger

What's the deal? Amina and George met online whilst Amira was still in Bangladesh and George was in Rochester, NY. Within no time, Amina is on a plane to Rochester, ready to marry her American dream. The ups and downs of Amina and George's first few years of married life are chronicled in this novel. 

Any good? This was interesting and a nice change of pace from my usual reads. Amina's character was richly drawn, full of light and shade, so that by the end of the book I felt like I knew her and really cared for her parents, and George too. I'm not married yet but I can imagine the first year especially would be difficult for anyone even without culture clash thrown into the mix. I thought the reality of their situation was handled extremely well - it wasn't painted as exotic (gosh, I hate that word) or a rescue mission but rather two very different people trying to make it work.

There's so much to say about this rich, complex novel that it probably deserves a proper review to really get into the themes. I'm afraid to say I'd never heard of Nell Freudenberger before this but I will look into her other work as this novel has shown her to be a talented storyteller and writer - because you can be one and not the other, right? 

Should I get it? If you like to read about inter-racial/inter-faith relationships or enjoy learning about South Asian culture. 

Crash by Nicole Williams
What's the deal? Lucy is determined to get through her senior year without drama and get the hell out of Dodge. Then she meets Jude Ryder - resident bad boy extrodinaire. The two strike up an ill advised relationship and naturally, drama ensues. 

Any good? Oh boy. The cover was misleading because I thought it would be a dance book like Bunheads or even like When the Stars Go Blue which has a stormy relationship in it but dancing is the heart. I don't know what to say about this book because it is not my cup of tea (so far away in fact it might as well be Earl Grey) but I can imagine it would be a five star read for some people. I just didn't get on with the characters or the plot, which was a little too far fetched for me at certain points. I don't like to give up on books though (the only one I stopped reading this year was A Beautiful Lie because, not my kind of story) so I powered through is what it is. I'll say no more.

Should I get it? I listened to the podcast about the New Adult category on Clear Eyes, Full Shelves and that helped put this book into perspective. I think this falls into the Beautiful Disaster camp (although I haven't read it), so if you like that book and general bad boy falls for sassy girl stories, knock yourself out. 

The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

What's the deal? Cora Carlisle is experiencing empty nest syndrome, so when she finds out that the Brooks family are looking for a chaperone to accompany their Louise to a summer session at a New York dance school, she offers her services and soon finds herself living in an apartment on the Upper West Side. However, there's more to Cora than meets the eye and she uses her time in New York to figure out the missing pieces from her past, present and future. 

Any good? This was a good, solid read. The story kept up the momentum and revealed new surprises at the right times. The setting of New York in the 1920's was interesting and fun, what with all the flappers and speakeasies. It probably helped that when I started it, all the Gatsby promotional stuff was everywhere. Finally, I enjoyed learning about Louise Brooks. I'd heard her name a few times over the years, mainly in reference to her haircut, but didn't know much about her life. Looking at Laura Moriarty's reference list she provides at the end of the book, I'm guessing most of the Louise element of the story is accuarte. Fascinating stuff. 

Should I get it? If you like Louise Brooks, the roaring twenties and I'm going to say The Good Wife because I heard and saw Alicia Florick in Cora's character for some reason. 


  1. I really enjoyed This is What Happy. It is such a cute, summer book and I loved the addition of the emails. I love Sleepless in Seattle. That's too bad about Crash. I'm so drawn to dancers on covers, but am not at all in to NA books about bad boys. I'll have to check out The Chaperone. I love books set in the 20s. Great mini review post!

    1. Thanks! Yeah, I would avoid Crash if you're looking for a proper dance book.


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