Review – Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice

Eligible

 

RATING: 3.0 

Publication date April 19, 2016 by Random House 

I’m a fan of retellings of Jane Austen, whether in books of films. Most of Austen’s writing depends on observations social conventions and the class structure of its time,which is tricky to translate to modern-day traditions. 

In Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice, the characters lacked the subtlety of Austen’s versions of romance in this modern retelling.  Instead of the expected good – natured, and warm characters, we’re given two-dimensional, cold and unlikable ones. Where are Austen’s signature kind and charming characters? My biggest gripe is Sittenfeld’s attempt to mix the old world way of speaking with modern-day talk.

Jane Austen Goes Hollywood
Image by © Theo Westenberger/Corbis

“Uncertainly, Jane said, Mom, you haven’t been reading my texts, have you?” Merrily,    Lydia said, “she doesn’t know how to!”… Mrs. Bennett appeared uncontrite**. Jane furrowed her eyebrow, which for her reflected genuine pique.”

The stilted dialog was a chore to read, as the author tried to blend the speaking mannerisms of the old and the new. Plus, this book needs a good editor. Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice is a light-hearted, modern-day retelling of a Jane Austen novel. I don’t think many die-hard Austen fans would enjoy this book.

* This book was provided to me from NetGalley by Random House in exchange for an honest review.

** Uncontrite is not a word.

 

 

 

Review: Wannabe Porn Money & Mummy

PornMummy

RATING: 5 STARS 

This is Lauren Barnard’s third chick-lit book in her series, involving the adventures of Poppy and Jazz. I love Laura’s writing because she captures genuine emotions without sounding corny or over-the top.

The story revolves around two best friends, Poppy and Jazz, who find themselves in silly “I Love Lucy” type of situations. Poppy is an anxious, empathetic woman,  and typically has too many people rely on her, while she deals with her own struggle of trying to become pregnant. Poppy is imperfect and vulnerable – like a real life women.

Jazz is a care-free, generous, headstrong woman. Unfortunately, due to her strong will, she often finds herself in  difficult situations. Many of us can relate to the family members mentioned in her story. Every family has these type of relatives: the embarrassing one, the bossy one, the Too Much Information one and the “know it all” relative.

This is a light, funny book which I highly recommend for chick-lit lovers or anyone in need of  a good laugh.

RATING: 5 STARS

 

A copy of the book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

 

 

Book Review: The Gossips

TheGossips

RATING: 3.5 STARS

The Gossips  highlights the hypocritical, self-righteous small town mindset behind the polite facade of a close community.  The Gossips is a perceptive and engaging look at small town life, where the main source of entertainment is gossip, which rotates between bribery, real or imagined affairs, drunks, rape, incest, and (clutching my pearls!) the embarrassment of unwed mothers. Initially, the story line and vivid character descriptions drew me in…until half way through, I couldn’t wait until the book was over. Waugh describes gossipy, nosy people in such an accurate way,  she exhausted me. Waugh’s writing is excellent, but it wasn’t enjoyable to read about gossipy small town folks. I’d read another one of her books, but only if the story line is more pleasant.

A copy of the book was provided to me from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Eeny Meeny – 5 Stars

EenyMeeny

Eeny Meeny by M.J. Arlidge is a British suspense/thriller novel. It is the first book in DI Helen Grace Thriller series. DI Helen Grace is youngest female to be promoted to Detective Inspector in her department. She is a submissive in a paid S&M arrangement, which adds vulnerability to her uptight personality. This aspect of her personality was difficult to reconcile until you learn more about her rough childhood.

Detective Inspector Helen Grace is faced with solving a series of kidnapping/abduction murders. Amy Anderson and Sam Fisher were kidnapped then held hostage. Their kidnappers drop them into a remote area and their chances of escape are dim. The kidnappers only give them a cell phone and a gun.  Their only option for survival is if one of them dies. DI Helen Grace isn’t convinced this is a plausible story until two other people are kidnapped in a similar way.  

Eeny Meeny keeps you riveted until the end.  There is violence, sex, and foul language and the book will keep you guessing with all of the twists and turns. I’m looking forward to the next book in this series. Highly recommended for fans of Brit thrillers and suspense novels.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Wreck and Order

WreckandOrder

REVIEW: 2 STARS

Wreck and Order by Hannah Tennant-Moore is about Elsie, a twenty-something who wants to change her life, but must first deal with her inner problems. Courtesy of her father, he gives her money to flit around the world, from Paris to Sri Lanka and New York City. I struggled to continue reading because of her angst, constant careless sex and extended periods of navel-gazing.

The writing is excellent, but it’s not enough to keep the reader interested if the story is depressing and disturbing. When good things come her way, she dismisses them and throws away the opportunity. Her low self-esteem contributes to her self-sabotage behavior by having sex with abusive strangers. The story is told in a flight of ideas style of prose that captures Elsie’s confused state of mind. When her problems become too hard to handle emotionally, she travels to a different country, in hopes that the new setting will solve her problems. Her problems follow her wherever she lands since it’s easier to change her outside life rather than her inner life. I couldn’t connect to Elsie because of her angst and self-sabotage behavior. Plus, her “job” consisted of the translation of a vintage book from French to English, which leads her nowhere. Elsie will not change until she works on her inner problems.

Despite beautiful writing, the story depressed me. Elsie is a self-centered hopeless woman who won’t change her life for the better because it takes courage and strength to change your inner self. The only takeaway from this book is to change your inner problems first, instead of physically running away from them in hopes that will solve your problems.

 

I received an advanced copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review: My Name is Lucy Barton

MyNameLucy

RATING: 4 STARS

If you’ve ever been hospitalized, in between the routine tests and  x-rays, there are long periods of time spent alone. Free from the responsibilities of your life, long stretches of time will be spent not only healing physically but emotionally as well. This is the case in Elizabeth Strout’s latest book, My Name is Lucy Barton. Lucy Barton is a tender-hearted writer, who reflects on her own dysfunctional family, and tries to find her own story.
Set in the 1980’s, she spends nine weeks in the hospital after complications from an appendectomy. Lucy weaves her story back and forth between today and her childhood memories of poverty and mistreatment. 
During her illness, her mother, who she hadn’t seen in many years, visits her for five days in the hospital. The sole presence of her mother triggers Lucy’s childhood memories of her life in rural Illinois and her dysfunctional family. We learn about Lucy’s life story through short small life events. As Lucy’s mother rambles on about bad marriages, she is oblivious and unable to give Lucy what she craves the most – the demonstration of her love. As an adult, Lucy looks back with a fresh perspective and shares her life story in a simple manner. I felt an emotional connection with Lucy’s compassionate storytelling.
Although it’s a story of a woman’s ordinary life, Elizabeth Strout reveals the universal lesson about the human condition, that teaches us how to learn from our mistakes and live a better life. Highly recommended for those who enjoy women’s literature, relationships between mothers and daughters and skilled writing.
 

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Random House Publishing Group via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: American Housewife

AmHousewives
RATING:  3.5
American Housewife is a collection of twelve short stories which focus on
the lives of modern American housewives, based in New York City or the South. The dark humor stories range from laugh out loud funny to snarky and twisted satire. Some of my favorites were “Hello! Welcome to Book Club,” and “How To Be A Patron of the Arts.” Helen Ellis is a talented writer, but I didn’t feel a connection to the jaded, social-climbing women in her stories.
I recommend this book for those who enjoy offbeat, social parody stories.
I received a copy of the book from the Publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

 

Review: The Swans of Fifth Avenue

TheSwansFifth

RATING: 4 STARS

The Swans of Fifth Avenue: A Novel refer to the uber wealthy women of 1950s New York, who glide with ease through their world of fashion, lunch, and parties. Babe Paley, Slim Keith, Gloria Guinness, and Pamela Harriman dominated the New York society columns and the high-fashion magazine spreads. These gorgeous  women were groomed from birth to achieve their main goal in life: to marry a powerful, wealthy man. Their main role as a wife ensured that their husband’s lives were comfortable and effortless.

In exchange for marrying wealthy men, the Swans had everything materialistically but lacked something money could never buy: a man willing to entertain them and more important, give them his full attention. Enter Truman Capote, a rising literary star, with his animated bitchy wit endeared him to them. They took him under their wing, invited him to their exclusive parties, showered him with expensive gifts and vacations. Their husbands were unintimidated by their wive’s relationship with Capote. A harmless flamboyant gay man couldn’t cause any problems, or could he?

A special connection developed between Babe Paley and Truman Capote. Both of them had emotionally distant mothers and never felt they were good enough. Babe strived to be perfect in every way for her husband Bill, the founder of  CBS.  She imposed unrealistic restrictions on herself over her looks and life. Yet when she spent time with Truman, she could relax and be herself.

After Capote’s achieved literary acclaim with “In Cold Blood”,  he struggled for years to create another book. In desperation, he wrote a short story for Esquire magazine, titled La Cote Basque 1965. The Swans found their personal stories, including their secret affairs and deepest secrets, announced to the entire world. Naturally, Capote’s contact with the Swans were severed. Truman’s repeated phone call attempts were never returned. After continuous calls, the maids finally told him outright to stop calling. Even his closest friend, Babe Paley, who was dying of lung cancer, refused to speak to him. The exciting social life he worked for years to achieve were taken away in a matter of days.

This book was fascinating. The intricate descriptions of the Swans’ beauty routines, homes, lunches, and gossip were described in exquisite detail by Melanie Benjamin. Although Capote’s alcohol and drug abuse are briefly mentioned, his lack of insight while under the influence of drugs contributed to his decision to write the Esquire article, which ruined his friendship with the Swans.

Highly recommend for fans of Capote and especially for those keen on reading all the gossipy bits of famous people.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

The Outsider by Frederick Forsyth

TheOutsider

RATING: 5 STARS

Frederick Forsyth, author of  several successful spy thrillers, such as The Day of The Jackal and The Odessa File had a feeling of authenticity- simply because his real life was as exciting and filled with danger as the characters in his thrillers.

In his autobiography, The Outsider, Forsyth decides against attending college and sets his sights on joining the Royal Air Force (RAF), a career he dreamed of since he was a young boy where he explored a cockpit of a Spitfire warplane at the base in Kent where his father served during World War II. England was in the midst of fighting World War II, and Frederick was in awe of the uniformed men and yearned to be a pilot. As a teenager, he spent summers in France and Germany quickly picking up French and German. His knack for languages worked in his favor when he wrote for a local paper, leading to a position as a foreign correspondent with Reuters.

Forsyth shares his adventures with as much energy as his legendary thrillers. His knowledge of French allowed him to eavesdrop in cafes in Northern Africa and France in the dangerous years when France was on the verge of a coup d’état to overthrow President Charles de Gaulle. This distressing experience gave him the idea for his first novel, The Day of The Jackal. He created a fictional insider assassin -the Jackal – and learned much later he was closer to the truth of his fictional account than he realized.

He believed that the detachment he developed as a journalist carried over into his writing. His success with his first three books and their adaptation into blockbuster movies led to worldwide fame and wealth. After entrusting all of his savings to an investment firm, the firm collapsed and he lost all of his savings. Although it was a tremendous blow, it strengthened his belief that one shouldn’t trust The Establishment and he continued to write several more successful novels.

The Outsider is an in-depth look at Forsyth’s life. I highly recommend this book, especially if you’re a fan of Forsyth or spy novels.

 

Book Review: The Debt and The Doormat

DebtandDoormat

RATING: 5 STARS

If you need a good laugh, check out this book. “The Debt and The Doormat” is British author Laura Barnard’s first book. This light-hearted story of two female roommates book will make you laugh. Poppy and Jazz, the two main characters, are polar opposites.In order for Jazz to pay off her debt, she convinces Poppy to swap houses, since Poppy’s rent is cheaper than Jazz’. Poppy, the typical “doormat” goes along with her unconventional scheme. The typical British humor is very dry and funny and all of the characters are well fleshed out. Poppy’s character is well developed, as the reader sees a change in her at the end of the story. Laura Barnard’s writing is excellent – funny and entertaining. I can’t wait to read the rest of her books. I would highly recommend this book for an entertaining read.