KatSings’ #CBR5 Review #27-38: See List Within

Ok, so I am the worst and have fallen tremendously behind on my book reviews.  My professional life has altered greatly in the last few months, and it has changed my usual pattern of both reading and reviewing.  However – I’m happy to say I’m still well on track to make the cannon by year’s end.  I’m actually more than halfway through book 41 right now (books 39-41 are all from the same series, so I wanted to do them together).  The list of books included on my blog is below.  I’m numbering them for your ease, but only providing this one hyperlink: Kat’s Cannon

27 – 30: The MacKade Brothers series by Nora Roberts

31: Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

32: Just for Now by Rosalind James

33 – 34: Daughter of Smoke & Bone and Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor

35: The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan

36: Acting in Film: An Actor’s Take on Movie Making by Michael Caine

37: Just for Fun by Rosalind James

38: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Jen K’s #CBR5 Review #77: The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan

This is the second novel I packed with the express purpose of reading it on the plane. Sullivan’s novels could easily be shelved as “chick lit” since they deal with women’s relationships, but they also are deeper than something like Shopaholic, being kind of the perfect middle ground between entertaining beachy read and literary novel. Her previous two novels dealt with four women’s perspectives, and this one follows a similar path. However, Commencement and Maine both dealt with women who knew each other, either by being college friends, or part of the same family. In this one, Sullivan does something slightly different, addressing marriage, relationships and engagements by using women and men from different time periods, backgrounds and social-economic classes. Mixed in with her usual four perspectives, Sullivan uses an actual historical figure to frame these pieces, and explain the obsession with engagements and diamonds.

Full review.

Scootsa1000’s #CBR5 Review 22: Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan

Unknown-1About a million books ago, during CBR3, I read and enjoyed a book called Maine, about Irish Catholics growing up in the Boston area and vacationing in Maine. It hit close to home for me, an Irish Catholic from the Boston area who frequently vacationed in Maine. It wasn’t great literature, but a quick read filled with realistic characters and some interesting perspective on all things Boston Irish (the Coconut Grove plot was enough to hook me). A few weeks ago at the library, there was a cute little display of “Beach Reads”, and I saw Commencement on the rack, Sullivan’s novel before Maine.

This was totally a beach read. There was sand stuck all up in the back book jacket and water stains all over the book. Seriously. It reeked of Bain Du Soleil. This book was well-loved by beach goers.

And it was fine for what it was.

Commencement tells the tale of four girls (Celia, an Irish Catholic from the Boston area; Sally, a rich private school girl from upscale Wellesley; April, an angry activist from Chicago; and Bree, a beautiful southern belle) who meet up as “first years” (never use the word FRESHMAN) at Smith College. They become best friends and their story is told via flashbacks intermingled with present day narration as they gather for Sally’s wedding, and later after a tragedy strikes.

Sullivan is a graduate of Smith, so I felt that her description of the day-to-day life at an all women’s school were pretty spot-on. Beautiful campus, quirky town, strong friendships, and lots and lots of self-discovery (politics, relationships, sexuality, etc).

But.

I much preferred the in-college story to the out-of-college story. The subplot about April working for a radical feminist filmmaker that gets her into trouble was not for me.

Also, I am really, really tired of how so many books (I’m talking to you, Sarah Dessen) throw a date rape sub-plot into a story and then just kind of…let it disappear into thin air without any real resolution.

I think I’ll continue to read Sullivan’s future books (her new one comes out next week), because I like the Boston tie to them. They make me a little bit homesick, but in a good way.

You can read more of my reviews on my blog.