Chick-Lit, Reviews, Romance

Review: I Owe You One

I Owe You OneI Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Sophie Kinsella’s latest novel, I Owe You One, – which I want to thank NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review – is the story of Fixie, a young woman who would do anything for her family and the house good store she, her mother, and two siblings inherited when her father died. She lives by her beloved father’s motto of family first and her family takes advantage of her devotion sometimes to the point of cruelty.
I Owe You One holds a great message about balancing the needs and demands of those you love with your own happiness, and about standing up for what you value while valuing others. It is also a sweet romantic comedy. Fixie’s dedication to being the family doormat wears thin quickly as does her naivete when it comes to her longtime crush, Ryan. I was often angry while reading I Owe You One because of the way Fixie is treated by her siblings, Ryan, her uncle, and even, to an extent, her mother. This only meant that I cared about Fixie, no matter how annoying I sometimes found her. I also recognized myself in her as I’m certain many readers, especially women, will.
The romance storyline is lovely but the message is the reason I would recommend I Owe You One, which is not Kinsella’s best but still enjoyable.

If you enjoy Kinsella’s style of Chick-Lit with a dash of romance, I recommend her My Not so Perfect Life, which has a similar message as I Owe You One but with a more entertaining story.

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Chick-Lit, Reviews, Romance, World Literature

Review: Unmarriageable

 

UnmarriageableUnmarriageable by Soniah Kamal

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What would happen if you moved Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice to 21st century Pakistan? You would get Soniah Kamal’s Unmarriageable, which I got the opportunity to read thanks to NetGalley.

Reading Unmarriageable is not about the story. If you’ve read Pride and Prejudice, you already know the story – a man and a woman from different classes meet and thanks to their ingrained prejudices, take an instant dislike to each other, a dislike she maintains as he falls grudgingly in love with her.  That story will always be great, it is the execution that often fails.  Unmarriageable is not a particularly great adaptation of Pride and Prejudice – Alys is no Elizabeth Bennett, Mrs. Binat is even more annoying than Mrs. Bennett, some of the dialogue is just awkward, and the writing tends to be repetitive.  Instead, for me, the joy of reading Kamal’s interpretation was in learning about Pakistani culture about which I’ll admit I was totally ignorant.

Chick-Lit, which is what this novel and its Austen ancestor is, often gets a bad wrap but, while it is important to learn about the history and the hardships around the world, I think it is equally important to learn about the ordinary, everyday lives that show us not only the cultural differences but how we are alike and Chick-Lit whether it is set in the US, the UK or Pakistan, does that.

If like me, you enjoy a good Pride and Prejudice update, Shannon Hale’s Austenland and Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible are two of my favorites.  Austenland is a fun romp through a vacation experience that places the Austen-obsessed protagonist into Austen’s world with the promise of a happy ending straight out of one of Jane’s novels while Eligible, part of The Austen Project is truly a modernization of Pride and Prejudice.

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Chick-Lit, Reviews, Romance

Review: The Accidental Beauty Queen

The Accidental Beauty QueenThe Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I thank NetGalley for the opportunity to read Teri Wilson’s new novel, The Accidental Beauty Queen. This story of bookish Charlotte who gets roped into filling in for her beauty queen twin, Ginny, when an allergic reaction sidelines her last chance at the crown that their mother won is everything most people expect from a rom/com (in fact Miss Congeniality is mention many, many times). It is light and somewhat predictable yet sweet and, at times, wise. Many of the things Charlotte expects to go wrong do but she hadn’t predicted connection with the other pageant girls or falling in love with one of the judges – a Darcy-quoting good guy.
The simple story only works because it is short yet the writing still tended toward repetition and some over-explanation. The biggest flaw for me was the ending which was rushed an tacked on, reading more like an epilogue than a conclusion. Still, it was a fun, light read.

Since Chick-Lit is one of my favorite genres, I could recommend any number of reads like The Accidental Beauty Queen, but if you’re looking for a really great romantic comedy, I recommend the books of Kristan Higgins.

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Chick-Lit, Reviews, Romance

Review: The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living

The City Baker's Guide to Country LivingThe City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love a good foodie novel and Louise Miller’s The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living is the sort of foodie novel that warms your heart like a wood fire in a little cottage – or an oven in a cozy kitchen. Olivia is a world-class baker whose life is currently a recipe for disaster. After a catastrophe at her job in Boston, she runs away to the open arms of her friend in the small rural Vermont town of Guthrie. When a job opportunity arises at the local B&B, Olivia feels like she has no other choice than to take it no matter how unwelcome the inn’s stern owner, Margaret, makes her feel.
It isn’t long before Vermont’s magic begins to work on Olivia’s heart, bringing back tender memories of her father. Her heart is also warmed by a connection with Martin, the son of Margaret’s best friend, and his family who welcomes her with open arms giving her the feeling of a family she never knew she was missing.
When it looks like her new found family will not welcome her as she’d imagined, Olivia does what she always does. She runs away. Once again she turns to baking, and it is baking and friendships that help her to find her way again.
The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living is a romance and Martin was pretty swoon-worthy, but it is Olivia’s journey of healing and the wonderful female friendships that carry this story. And the details that thrill the senses from the mouth-watering descriptions of Olivia’s bakes to the crispiness of the autumn leaves and the smell of the woodsmoke. Vermont is a character in this novel, leaving me to wish I’d read it in winter rather than the height of summer.

If you, like me, enjoy a good foodie novel with a touch of romance, please read Ruth Reichl’s only foray (so far?) into fiction, Delicious!which not only has food and romance but some history and lots of wonderful characters.

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Chick-Lit, Reviews, Romance

Review: Carrie Goes Off the Map

Carrie Goes Off the MapCarrie Goes Off the Map by Phillipa Ashley

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Phillipa Ashley’s Carrie Goes Off the Map is a mostly disappointing British Chick-Lit/Rom-Com, which is usually my favorite combination. The writing is mediocre, the dialogue is weak, the chemistry between the romantic leads seems forced, there isn’t much comedy (or romance for that matter), and the hero isn’t quite swoon-worthy (which any romance fan can tell you is very important). Matt should have been a dream – a charity doctor, generous, caring, intelligent, and, of course, gorgeous – but his dreaminess doesn’t break through his actions or the dialogue. The story, however, was just good enough to keep me reading to find out how the two would get together. Though, in the end, I was left wondering if they should have. Oh well. It was free.

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