Book Review: I Take You by Eliza Kennedy

Lily Wilder is a New York lawyer who seems to have it all.  In the week leading up to her wedding to brilliant, charming archaeologist Will, Lily returns home to her Key West family for the first time in over a decade.  Once there, she’s confronted with the harsh reality that she might not be marriage material–or is she simply not marrying the right guy?  As she boozes it up and makes some decisions that might seem questionable at best, Lily is forced to face her demons head on, and ends up with some surprising conclusions.

Readers looking for a straightforward romantic comedy are going to be disappointed here.  Eliza Kennedy’s debut novel has teeth, and it isn’t afraid to show them.  The result is a frequently funny, smart, subversive take on the romantic comedy.  Despite a few implausibilities, this is an entertaining romp with a hidden intellectual side, and it’s thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.

Kennedy has an ear for snappy dialogue, and each page is chock full of one liners and zingers.  There are a few standout scenes, mostly between Lily and her best friend Freddie, and there are moments where Lily is so audacious it’s astonishing.  She’s one hundred percent herself always, and she shines brigtest when she’s taking down sexist old-boy’s-club lawyers.

The novel’s main misstep is when it tries to tackle Lily’s sexual proclivities.  She opines at one point that women sometimes just want sex because they want sex, but it doesn’t seem that it’s totally true for her throughout the course of the novel.  It’s also not a particularly astounding revelation in a post-Sex & the City world.  Here is where the novel’s biggest weakness is, but it’s not enough to derail the rest of the novel, which is so, so much fun.

Eliza Kennedy is an author to watch, and this subversive, smart little novel is the perfect antidote to the well-trodden happily-ever-after.  This would make for a great movie (can we make that happen, actually?) and would also make for a great book club discussion book, as there’s likely to be differing views (and strong ones at that) about the characters and their actions.  Recommended.

I Take You by Eliza Kennedy. Crown: 2015. Library copy.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.  Its purpose is to spotlight eagerly-anticipated upcoming releases.

This week I’m eagerly awaiting:

The Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy

Expected Release Date: August 18, 2015

Twelve years ago Stella and Jeanie vanished while picking strawberries. Stella returned minutes later, with no memory of what happened. Jeanie was never seen or heard from again.

Now Stella is seventeen, and she’s over it. She’s the lucky one who survived, and sure, the case is still cloaked in mystery—and it’s her small town’s ugly legacy—but Stella is focused on the coming summer. She’s got a great best friend, a hookup with an irresistibly crooked smile, and two months of beach days stretching out before her.

Then along comes a corpse, a little girl who washes up in an ancient cemetery after a mudslide, and who has red hair just like Jeanie did. Suddenly memories of that haunting day begin to return, and when Stella discovers that other red-headed girls have gone missing as well, she begins to suspect that something sinister is at work.

And before the summer ends, Stella will learn the hard way that if you hunt for monsters, you will find them.

(summary via Goodreads)

This looks deliciously creepy.  I love a good horror story, and I never feel like there are enough of them to keep me satiated.  So this is coming at a great time, and I can’t wait to see what happens in this book.

What are you waiting on this week?

Book Review: In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

In the early 1950s, a series of airplanes fell out of the sky and crashed in Elizabeth, New Jersey.  Miri Ammerman was one of the townspeople who lived in the town when this happened, and she experienced the loss, confusion, and terror as it happened.  Now it’s 35 years later, and she’s about to return to Elizabeth to commemorate the worst year of her life.  Lost in memories of the past, including her first experience with love, Miri reflects on what happened and how it shaped her and the town she grew up in.

This is a standout book of 2015 for a number of reasons.  It’s Judy Blume’s first novel in many years, which is noteworthy in and of itself.  It’s also another of her adult novels (which are excellent and perhaps underrated).  Although the cast of characters sometimes feels a bit bloated, the novel as a whole is a compelling look at a small town in the 1950s and feels authentic, just like a Judy Blume novel should.

The fact that it blends a real life event with fictional characters makes it a compelling read for many reasons, and it is here that Blume particularly excels.  The line between historical fact and creative fiction is blurred, making for an interesting reading experience, especially for readers who like to know where they stand.  But because Blume has taken liberties with the families who reside in Elizabeth and experience the plane crashes, she’s able to craft a narrative grounded in reality that still allows for her own unique voice to shine through.

This is especially true of the character of Miri Ammerman, who feels like classic Blume.  She lives with her single mother Rusty and her grandmother Irene, and the winter the planes go down, Miri is fifteen.  Blume encapsulates perfectly that time in adolescence, when things are new and confusing and exciting.  Blume also dips in and out of other characters’ heads, allowing them to lend their perspectives to what is happening.  The result is a fast-paced read.

On the whole, a very strong piece of fiction that readers should devour in a single sitting or two.  There are enough characters that it could get confusing for readers who like to draw out their reading experiences, but Blume is so accessible it hardly matters.  This is definitely a great read, and a notable book of 2015.

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume. Knopf: 2015.  Library copy.


My Weekend in Pop Culture

These are the pop culture items I consumed this weekend:

Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola: I tore through this memoir about drinking and recovery and mostly liked it.  There was some weirdly tone-deaf stuff about atheism and belief in the last bit of the book, which chapped my ass more than it should have, but on the whole the book was a fast read, accessible, and interesting (and kind of terrifying).  Definitely a must-read for anyone who likes to read memoirs about drug abuse/recovery.

Everwood, Season 1: I started watching this on a whim.  It’s weirdeverwood to see how it’s aged (not super great, honestly) and also weird to see people like Chris Pratt look like total babies.  I’ve never made it through the whole series, so it’ll be interesting to see if I stick with it this time.

What pop culture did you consume this weekend?

Book Review: The Devil You Know by Trish Doller

All Arcadia wants now that she’s graduated from high school in her minuscule Florida town is to embark on some sort of adventure.  Feeling trapped in her life as primary caregiver to her four-year-old brother and absentee father, Cadie jumps at the chance for some fun when she meets a pair of cute cousins in the midst of a road trip.  But what starts out as a fairly innocent trip turns dangerous when Cadie realizes that one of the boys isn’t exactly how he seems.

Doller moves outside her normal genre with a romantic thriller that is guaranteed to have readers frantically turning the pages to see what happens next.  Tight plotting and excellent pacing make this one a totally entertaining read from start to finish.  Doller is an author to watch, and she proves it again and again.

In the character of Cadie, Doller has crafted an authentic, head-strong heroine who is still flawed.  But she’s smart, and her desires to break free of a life she views as suffocating feel authentic, even when the story strains a bit at credulity.  Her palpable chemistry with the mysterious Noah helps propel the story forward, and their scenes are both romantic and steamy.

The novel’s rising action builds to a breathless climax that will grip readers completely.  This is a read-in-one-sitting type of book, and it doesn’t disappoint.  Doller allows the tension to build by dropping small hints that things are amiss, but it never feels over-the-top or overly obvious. The result is a tense, scary thrill ride.

Highly recommended.

The Devil You Know by Trish Doller.  Bloomsbury Childrens: 2015. Library copy.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.  Its purpose is to spotlight eagerly-anticipated upcoming releases.

This week I’m eagerly awaiting:

The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle

Expected Release Date: August 18, 2015

It’s the accident season, the same time every year. Bones break, skin tears, bruises bloom.

The accident season has been part of seventeen-year-old Cara’s life for as long as she can remember. Towards the end of October, foreshadowed by the deaths of many relatives before them, Cara’s family becomes inexplicably accident-prone. They banish knives to locked drawers, cover sharp table edges with padding, switch off electrical items – but injuries follow wherever they go, and the accident season becomes an ever-growing obsession and fear.

But why are they so cursed? And how can they break free?

(summary via Goodreads)

This one looks creepy and weird, and I kind of love it.  I love that the summary doesn’t give too much away, either.  I think this could be perfect reading for fall and Halloween, despite its August release date.  I’m definitely all in for this one, and I hope it lives up to expectations.

What are you waiting on this week?


Book Review: Chase Me by Tessa Bailey

Roxy Cumberland is a struggling actress in New York.  She thinks she’s hit rock bottom when she takes a gig as a singing telegram, but when she shows up dressed as a giant bunny and a super hot dude answers the door, she knows she’s hit a new low.  Louis is hot, all right–hot and rich, and everything Roxy says she hates.  So why is she so drawn to him?  The feeling is mutual, especially after the two share a steamy kiss.  Louis is determined to track Roxy down, but it’s going to require quite the chase.

For readers who like their romances steamy and their dialogue witty, Tessa Bailey is an author that should be on their radar.  In this novel, one being hailed as “new adult romance,” she’s crafted vivid characters whose chemistry practically leaps off the page.  It’s fun, fast, and sexy, and it’s perfect for a day at the beach (or an hour, because this one reads very quickly).

The book’s strengths lay in its characters and their interactions.  Both Roxy and Louis are well-drawn as far as characters go, and there are some nice touches with regard to Roxy’s roommates (both girls have their own spin-off sequels) and Louis’s twin sisters.  The dialogue is genuinely funny and often very qitty, something that can be difficult to pull off without readers being able to see how hard the author is working.  It’s got a whip-fast plot (sometimes to its detriment) and the love scenes are sexy as hell.

All of this makes the incredibly abrupt ending all the more frustrating for readers looking for a bit more closure.  There’s not much practicality in how it ends, which will leave some readers scratching their heads.  Also frustrating is how predictable the book’s central conflict is, because it’s a trope so well-worn even the most forgiving reader will see it coming from a mile away.  Even so, readers will stay for the characters.  It’s still a hell of a lot of fun.

Chase Me by Tessa Bailey. Avon Impulse: 2015.  Library copy.