HelloKatieO’s #CBR5 Review #34: Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

I just graduated from law school, and I had a week off before studying for the bar. I wanted to fill that week with easy to read, fun, fantasy chick lit and my mom lent me her copy of Me Before You. She loved this book, her book club loved this book, and I enjoyed this book…up until the ending.

This book is the story of Louisa Clark, a young woman in her mid-twenties who just lost her job at the small cafe and bakery where she works. Lou is trapped in her small town life, she rarely leaves her hometown, she’s unwilling to explore her passions and she’s basically just…stuck, as many twenty-somethings are. The unemployment office finds her a job as a companion to a young quadriplegic man.

It’s hard to know how much of the plot to describe without veering into spoiler territory. Lou has a long term, exercise obsessed boyfriend. And her employer, the enigmatic Will, lived a life of adventure and action before an accident rendered him quadriplegic.  There are two parallel stories here.  One is Lou’s personal story, as she struggles to support her family during the recession and works through her personal traumas in her past in an attempt to find a life that is her own. And the other is Lou’s romantic story, as she struggles with her growing feelings towards her employer and her waning feelings towards her boyfriend.

What I liked best about this book is that it didn’t sacrifice Lou’s person struggles with her family and past to focus on her romantic life. 

Kash’s #CBR5 Review #16: The Whole Package by Cynthia Ellingsen

I found this novel on my nightstand and had no idea how it had gotten there. On the inside cover it reads, “Hi Miss Amanda, To a fabulous young lady with a lovely Mama, I hope you have a blast reading… xoxo, Cynthia”. Then it hits me, my mom gave me this book a few years ago for my birthday, stuck inside of a purse. Raving about how she knows the author and what a sweetheart she is. My mom knows I don’t like chick lit, but having a signed copy is alright by me.

The Whole Package is a fun and sometimes funny story about three friends from high school who are near forty now. This is the kind of book where you can imagine the movie where at least one of the leads is played by Diane Keaton. Although she might be a little old, I totally see her in this. Anyway, each woman is different in your stereotypical ways. There is Cheryl, the driven and hard hitting marketing exec who sweeps the boys in the boardroom, the racquet ball court, and into her bedroom. She’s like Elizabeth Perkins in Big. And yes she has sex with a younger man. Then there’s Doris, who was once a soccer star. She got married young and swept up into the homemaker role. She’s a bad cook with a Xanax habit and an asshole of a daughter. Also, her husband is a pansy. Lastly is Jackie, the artist. She married an older man and after his death she squandered millions living the high life in Paris. She has returned to the States since her money is gone and she has yet to hold down a job.

After an impromptu night out, the girls hatch a plan to start up a male version of Hooters. Or would it be a female version? Either way, they want to have a restaurant where scantily clad men serve you meals. The rest is pretty predictable.

Spoilers.

People think it’s a stripclub, it gets out of hand, churches get pissed, and then basically everyone quits. Not the employees, the owners. Real mature ladies. So they revamp it based on the idea that women want more romance, and then conveniently it’s a huge hit and everyone wins. All of the ladies are reunited with the men they have been on and off with for the rest of the novel. Glitter rains from the ceiling. Hallelujah. Amen.

This isn’t a romance novel. There aren’t any steamy sex scenes filled with quivering members, but there are a few firm embraces and a plethora of seductive gazes. It’s very much chick lit. If you like it, you like it, if you don’t, then pass. For me it was something nice to read between the sometimes heavy and epic shit that I’ve been undertaking. I believe this is one of those things Cosmo calls a “beach read”.

HelloKatieO’s #CBR5 Review #22: Still Life with Elephant by Judy Reene Singer

[Spoilers abound in this post, beware]

Half of this book I hated, because it felt contrived, and didn’t add anything original to the women’s fiction genre that I truly adore.  Neelie’s husband has an affair with the chipper female co-owner of his veterinarian practice and gets her pregnant. He doesn’t even have the guts to tell Neelie himself; his mistress tells her. And then Neelie discovers that he (a) dated his mistress in vet school, which makes her feel like her marriage is null and void and (b) he had drained their accounts, mortgaged their home and basically stolen all of her money.

So, in the grand tradition of a thousand chick lit novels, Neelie must decide what to do with her marriage.  I hated this part, because Neelie was frustrating and oblivious and needed to be saved.  Ultimately, she meets a rich, handsome man who loves animals as much as she does and he saves her from the wreckage of her failed marriage and a sad tragedy in her past. Of course. I just hated that she didn’t really end up fixing her own life. Her friends, family and new lover fixed it for her.

But the other half of this book, I loved. [hint: it involves elephants!]

xxperksxx’s #CBR5 Review #1: Point, Click, Love by Molly Shapiro

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Upon starting this challenge this year, I was hopeful that my year would be filled with amazing books and scintillating reviews. That is, until I finished Point, Click, Love by Molly Shapiro. The story follows four women following their own path: Katie – secret internet dater; Annie – sperm bank donation stalker; Maxine – a celebrity gossip mongrel; and Claudia the hypocritical cheating wife.

Going into this novel, I knew it would be your stereotypical “chick-lit”. Meaning – I knew it was going to be brain candy. I wasn’t expecting to learn anything or to spend nights contemplating the concepts that were introduced in the book. However, nothing could have prepared me for the horrible dribble that seeped out of this book. The dialog alone is enough to make a person want to throw this book across the room. It’s full of trite saying and absolutely unfathomable conversations – conversations which all wrap up with a neat tiny bow so as not to cause the reader and/or the author a moment of concern or reflection. I continually found myself re-reading passages of conversation between the fearsome foursome and laughing about how absolutely unrealistic the conversations were.

Added to the horrendous conversations was the characters complete lack of individuality. I kept flipping back to the start of the book to try and figure out which person was seeking which type of life through which internet media. The horrible stories just seemed to mesh together. The endings of each story were so utterly predictable I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself at the end of each post-scripted conclusion.

There were no redeeming characters or plot lines in this book. I racked my brain trying to think of something in which I could include to end on a positive note, but the only thing I could come up with was the fact that the book was a quick read with a relatively low page count (272 pages).

HelloKatieO’s #CBR5 Review #3: Promises to Keep by Jane Green

I will preface this by saying that I love Jane Green. I thought that Jemima JBookends and The Other Woman were fabulous – far more funny, interesting and thought provoking than a lot of the chick lit I tend to read. But this one just didn’t do it for me.

Promises to Keep is the story of three women – two sisters, Callie and Steff, and their best friend Lila.  Steff is the free spirit, a vegan chef who moves to the country (in Connecticut) to dog sit for one of her handsome regular customers.  Callie is a mom of two, a breast cancer survivor, with an unbelievably loving husband who also happens to work an incredibly demanding, travel intensive job.  Lila had given up on love and children until she met her current British boyfriend.

Additional analysis, including spoilers, after the jump.