Tag Archives: chick lit

Review: The Never Never Sisters

Recap: For marriage counselor Paige Reinhardt, summer couldn’t come soon enough. She rented a home in the Hamptons, and is looking forward to spending some alone time there with her workaholic lawyer husband, Dave. But something happens at Dave’s office that causes him to be suspended. As his world spirals out of control, and he works to keep Paige out of it, Paige’s estranged sister plans a trip into town to visit. Sloane has been out of the picture for twenty years, since her drug addiction got the best of her.

Suddenly Paige’s relaxing summer becomes a stressful one, as she works to uncover why Dave was suspended and to get to know the sister she lost so many years ago (not to mention Sloane’s new fiancé, Giovanni). As the summer continues, Paige realizes more and more how many secrets the people close to her have been keeping. What happened at Dave’s office, and why won’t he tell Paige? Who is Sloane, and has she gotten her life together? Can she really be trusted? As a marriage counselor, she tries to practice what she preaches, but that proves easier said than done as she’s faced with her own marital problems.

AnalysisThe Never Never Sisters is a family drama, a good beach read, the perfect chick lit novel for right now, since its story also takes place in the summer. It hooked me because it wasn’t easy to map out exactly which direction the story was headed. Compared to other family dramas I’ve read, this certainly wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t the worst either. Most of the characters came across as sketchy, so it was hard for me to understand why Paige so badly wanted to make things work with Dave and her sister. It was hard to believe there was ever much love in Paige and Dave’s relationship, and while I was curious to learn what Dave did to get suspended and why he kept it from Sloane, I didn’t necessarily care. And the fact that Paige is a marriage counselor and couldn’t even see the problems in her marriage was slightly concerning to me.

To be honest, I was more interested in the relationship between the sisters. The book spent a fair amount of time on them, but in my opinion, not enough, considering the book is titled for them. I expected and wanted to see more their relationship develop more. The fact that much of what they bonded over and discussed was Dave seemed to cloud the focus of the novel. But the ending was unexpected — in a good way! — though I wish the climax and resolution hadn’t felt so rushed.

MVP: Giovanni. Sloane’s fiancé brought to The Never Never Sisters the light-hearted, happy parts of the novel. While some found him to be annoying, he knew how to right a wrong situation and bring out the best in Sloane.

Get The Never Never Sisters in paperback for $12.34.

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Review: On Grace

Recap: Grace May is both dreading and greatly looking forward to her 40th birthday. The idea of turning 40 is overwhelming for any women in this day and age, but she has a plan. Now that her sons are both going to elementary school full-time, she plans to go back to work part-time. She also wants to get back in shape and make time to reconnect with her husband, Darren, who’s seemed somewhat distant recently.

But then she learns the reason Darren has been distant; he reveals to Grace that he cheated on her a few months back, just once with a waitress on a business trip. Then Grace’s plan for a new job falls apart, and major life-changing news comes down about her best friend, Cameron. In a matter of weeks, Grace’s plan and vision of turning 40 is slipping through her fingers. Everything is falling apart at once. And her inherent need to be perfect isn’t making things any easier. Can she handle it all and persevere? Can she do it if it means changing the kind of person she is and changing her attitude? Is 39-going-on-40 too late in life to make that change?

Analysis: Susie Schnall’s On Grace reveals the spinning mind of a modern-day 40-year-old woman and how difficult it is to balance all of the important things in her life: marriage, children, work, and friends. And for Grace, it’s all about “doing it with grace.” Taken from a first-person point of view, the reader sees the inner workings of Grace’s neurotic mind, and as neurotic as it is, it is completely and utterly relatable. Reading On Grace, I felt so much better about myself, knowing that there are other women whose minds spin and run wild in the way that mine does at times. I think it’s safe to say it’s a woman thing, and Susie Schnall does a nice job of portraying that.

When everything falls apart in Grace’s life, weeks pass in the novel, proving that cleaning up the mess is no easy or time-efficient task. In an odd twist, however, the future of Grace and Darren’s marriage lies in the hands of Darren. That was my one issue with the book; in a book about women and how strong they must be, ultimately the final and most important decision made at the end of the novel is still made by a man. Ultimately, the future of their marriage was dependent on him. But in the end, Grace did have a happy 40th birthday, despite the unexpected, negative turns she had to take to get there.

MVP: Grace’s best friend, Cameron. As much as Grace has to deal with, Cameron has even more. She is easily the strongest woman in the novel, not only putting on a brave face and handling things matter-of-factly, but doing it with a positive attitude and outlook — something that everyone needs, especially in the most difficult of times.

Get On Grace in paperback for $13.50.

Or on your Kindle for $9.99.

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Review: Then Came You

Recap: Life has an interesting and surprising way of bringing people together. Such is the case for Jules, Annie, India, and Bettina. Then Came You starts with India, a 38-year-old (actually 43) woman who wants to have a baby with her new — and very wealthy — husband. But her stepdaughter Bettina is convinced — and rightfully so — that India’s reasoning for the baby has more to do with money than love. Enter Jules and Annie — the women who make the baby happen. Jules donates her eggs, in the hopes that she will earn enough money to help her sick father. Annie becomes a surrogate to support her own family of four.

All four women work together without even knowing one another to bring another person into the world. Some are doing it for the right reasons. Some are doing it for the wrong reasons. Some are doing it for simply selfish reasons. But when the baby is born, the bond between the women changes. Suddenly this new life impacts them like they never expected, and not only do they get a baby, but they also get three new friends to go along with her.

Analysis: With revolving first-person narration between the four characters, Then Came You gives the reader a good look at each person involved — what their story is, where they come from, what motivates them to do what they do. Initially it’s difficult to understand how the women are connected, but the picture starts to come into focus about halfway through the book. Possibly more interesting than the hard work that goes into creating this baby is each of their motivations for it doing it. It’s fair to say that each woman gets out of the experience much more than just a baby and some extra financial cushioning.

So much of this novel is about women, maternity, life and death. With the new life these women are bringing into the world also come several deaths — all by male characters. With her charm, author Jennifer Weiner uses Then Came You to make a statement about the importance of women in continuing the natural life cycle. With technology and science advancing the way things are these days (donor eggs, surrogates), women are now even more powerful and independent.

Each character learns something — Jules learns who she is and realizes that some people never change. Annie realizes the importance of making sacrifices. Bettina learns to accept others, despite her initial judgements. India learns it’s better to be honest than to keep secrets. But most importantly, they learn the importance of love and strength.

MVP: Annie. Though timid, not well-educated, and the one with the least personality, she is the strongest. She is the person most willing to help make this baby happen — willing to selflessly make sacrifices for her family, help others, and strive to be a better person.

Get Then Came You in paperback for $12.09.

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Review: Rome For Beginners

Recap: When three women have moments of crises, they decide it’s not time for an escape, but for a new life altogether. So begins Rome for Beginners, set in modern-day Rome, telling the stories of three American women who have left the States only to meet and befriend each other in Rome. They have become close, and together, they struggle with everyday problems — work, ex-husbands, children, and dating. But to add to it all, they’re in a foreign country, attempting to learn a new language and culture.

Suzanne has been living in Rome for years. Her ex is Italian, and her son is a problem child. Lilian is divorced and dating a younger Italian man named Massimo, but she’s supposed to be working on a big project for her job back in the United States. Brennan is a runner who has found work but could be deported at any time. Sex And the City meets Eat, Pray, Love, this is a story about women searching for love, happiness and self-actualization. They rely on their friendship to achieve it all. But can they? And can they do it in Rome of all places?

Analysis: On the surface, Rome for Beginners is a sort of combination of SATC and Eat, Pray, Love but not quite on that caliber. There’s a group of middle-aged friends attempting to get in the dating game and find themselves. But to that end, we don’t see a lot of character development or growth during the course of the novel. Brennan is the only character who faces the most significant changes at the end — and all at once — but the others more or less continue living their lives. Maybe that’s just realistic. But I found myself, waiting for this big turnaround moment to happen that never seem to came.

That’s not to say Rome for Beginners doesn’t have its fair share of charm and humor; it does. Each chapter of the book takes the perspective of another woman, so the reader gets an in-depth look at each of the characters. But it’s the moments when the women are together that are the most enjoyable. Their friendships are strong and hysterical in ways that female friendships often are. When embarrassing or seemingly tragic things happen, they have each other to make light of it and help each other out.

Rome for Beginners is light and cute — a good, quick summer read. But at the end, I found myself wondering what was the point? But maybe, that was the point.

MVP: Brennan. On a personal level, I could relate to her the most. But the best thing about Brennan is that she comes closest to achieving self-actualization, even though other events force her to get to that point. At the end of the novel, I was proud of and happy for Brennan.

Get Rome For Beginners on your Kindle now for just $4.40.

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Author Lauren Weisberger on ‘Devil Wears Prada’ Sequel

It’s a sequel many reader have been waiting for for 10 years nowRevenge Wears Prada, a follow-up to chick lit author Lauren Weisberger’s The Devil Wears Prada. The Devil Wears Prada was a bestseller when it came out in 2003 and was ultimately turned into a hit movie starring Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep. So how does Revenge Wears Prada compare?

According to L.A. Times, which did an interview with the author last month, Revenge picks up 10 years after Devil. Here, we find the protagonist Andy facing motherhood and marriage as she continues to work, now at a wedding magazine. But Weisberger told L.A. Times reporter Irene Lacher that she made sure to also work on the character of Miranda, Andy’s boss:

There just aren’t that many people who pick up this book and relate on a level of being the head of the fashion and publishing industries simultaneously. Miranda is not the every-page presence that she was in the first book, so I had to up the ante in making her even scarier. That’s why I made her the editorial director of [fictional magazine publisher] Elias-Clark. I gave her more of a position of power to properly torment them.

Though Revenge is on the bestseller list, it’s not doing nearly as well with critics as Devil did. Weisberger says it doesn’t bother her, since her fans seem to love the book regardless. There’s also still no word on whether or not the sequel will be turned into a movie, like Devil was.

As a fan of The Devil Wears Prada, I would really love to read the book. What about you?

Get Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns now in hardcover or on your Kindle.

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Review: Maine

Recap: Every family has its fair share of drama, and the Kellehers are no exception. Take Alice, the 83-year-old matriarch of the family. She’s a moody widow who holds high standards for others, likes a glass or two (or three) of wine, flirts with her much younger priest and has a secret, which causes her a lot of painstaking guilt. Then there’s her daughter, Kathleen, a 15-years-sober alcoholic, who is divorced, living off her father’s financial legacy that he left almost entirely to her on a “worm poop” farm with her boyfriend in California. There’s Kathleen’s daughter, Maggie. She’s a mess of a 30-something, living in New York City in an apartment she can barely afford, all the while hoping to make it big as a writer and to convince her awful boyfriend to commit to her. Last but not least, there’s Ann Marie — the wife of Kathleen’s brother. Ann Marie is a snooty, condescending do-gooder who doesn’t work, but builds and decorates doll houses and has a shameful secret of her own.

These four women have enough drama individually, in their own houses and apartments. But when they all converge on the family summer beach house in Cape Neddick, Maine for a few weeks in June, sparks are bound to fly, some in a good way, and others in a not-so-good way.

Analysis: Maine is mostly a character study of these four women, but the story goes much deeper than that. It revolves around the inter-generational relationships within a family. With chapters alternating between four narrators — Alice, Kathleen, Ann Marie, and Maggie — we see the differences between three generations — Alice comes from a generation that is more religious and reserved, while Maggie’s is more free-spirited. The generations in which these women were born affect the way they handle the difficult moments in their lives. Alice hides things. Kathleen drank. Maggie relies more on her friends than her family — at first. The generations also affect their relationships with each other. Alice is used to families being private, whereas Maggie wants to talk about her feelings with her family and doesn’t know how to do it.

The inner workings of these women say so much about women and families in the present day. There’s often underlying tension that’s never addressed, until it becomes too much to bear and is released all at once. That’s what happens when these women finally see each other in person. For some, the relationships sever a bit. For others, learning each others’ secrets helps the women to gain respect for each other. But that still doesn’t mean they have to like each other. Women are interesting creatures. We hold grudges and have trouble letting go of the past. Maine is a beautiful, sad and simultaneously funny novel about what happens when four adult women try to move forward when their pasts keep pulling them back. A relatable, gripping, and moving novel for any modern-day woman — young or old.

MVP: Maggie. She’s the youngest, but also becomes one of the strongest. At the end of the novel, it becomes clear that Maggie has grown up a lot in just the short summer in which we read her story, but it also becomes clear that she’s going to continue to grow so much — in a good way.

Get Maine in paperback for $12.26.

Or get it on your Kindle for $9.99.

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Review: Girls in White Dresses

Review: Ah, the post-grad years. Adult life. The 20’s. It’s supposed to be the time of our lives. Yet for most of us, these are the years where we find ourselves the most lost. College was the bridge to responsibility and independence. Now we’ve crossed that bridge and realized we still don’t know which direction to go from here.

That’s the premise of Girls in White Dresses, about a group of college girlfriends branching out on their own journey to career success and love. Isabella, Lauren, and Mary are the central characters. Isabella is not quite sure where she’s heading professionally, but moves to New York City with Mary anyway and dates a number of not-so-great guys. Mary is  goal-oriented and finds early success in her law career, but makes some disastrously bad dating choices. Then there’s Lauren — the girl with the attitude who’s fun and spunky but the most lost of them all.

Each chapter focuses on a different girl, not just Isabella, Mary, and Lauren, but also their other friends and acquaintances from college. Included are anecdotes about their experiences with dating, showers, babies, weddings, sex, engagements, and in-laws. Each girl realizes life doesn’t end up exactly how you plan. But as they inch closer and closer to their 30s, they start to wonder, will we even get close?

Analysis: The overarching plot of Girls in White Dresses is sad. It’s a bunch of girls and their not-so-great lives — particularly love lives. Each chapter I found myself wishing for the one anecdote with a happy ending and a sense of hope. Only a few offered that. That being said, this book is funny.

Many of the anecdotes made me laugh for their humor, humility, and relatability. Author Jennifer Close is able to make the reader laugh through the pain of these young women, and therein lies the positivity that the reader is looking for. Just like in real life, sometimes you have to find the little things that make you smile when you’re going through a tough time.

I read this book along with a number of girlfriends, as part of a book club. We are all in our 20s and could relate to different sections of the book. Some of my friends hated it. Some loved it. That made me believe that your feelings about a book like this will be almost entirely based on your own experiences and what you’re currently going through in life. A 25-year-old who’s single and unemployed or waiting tables might detest this book. But a 25-year-old with a good job and a great boyfriend might love it. Either way it’s worth a read, if for no other reason else than to put the 20-something world in perspective.

MVP: Isabella. She struggles like all the girls, but she is the one the reader gets to know the best. Her story feels most like one of growth. At the end of the book, she takes some big risks, but alas, the reader gets the sense that maybe, just maybe, Isabella is going to be okay.

Get Girls in White Dresses in paperback for $10.98.

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Review: Sisterhood Everlasting

Recap: When four girls have been best friends since before they were born — after all, their mothers met in a prenatal exercise class — they assume they’ll be friends forever. But with their 30th birthdays looming, Lena, Bridget, Tibby, and Carmen (from the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series) find themselves drifting apart.

Lena lives in Rhode Island, where she paints, teaches art classes, and continues to pine for her Greek ex-boyfriend Kostos. Bridget has moved in with her successful longtime boyfriend, Eric, across the country in San Francisco. Carmen is now an actress in New York City, dating another man in the business who treats her poorly. And then there’s Tibby, who’s moved to Australia with her longtime boyfriend Brian, and hasn’t seen the girls in two years.

So when the three stateside girlfriends receive plane tickets from Tibby to meet once again in their magical place, Greece, they’re more than excited to reconnect. But as soon as they arrive, everything changes. Suddenly, there are only three girls left in the sisterhood. As much as they thought they’d always be together, they soon realize that when one girl leaves, the rest of the group falls apart.

Each girl is now left to deal with a devastating tragedy. They reflect on the past to figure out how to move forward. But with the one missing piece, none of it seems to make sense.

Analysis: If you start reading this book thinking it’s going to be like the first four Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books, you’re wrong. The fifth and final book in the popular YA series takes place 10 years after the first one. The girls are grown up, and the problems are a lot bigger. And without a doubt, much darker. The tragedy that happens early on sets the tone for the rest of the novel, and that tone is one of loss, in every sense of the word — losing a friend, losing yourself, losing your way.

As the book flips back and forth between characters, some sections move faster than others. I cared less for Carmen’s subplot than any of the others. Her character in particular seemed the most changed from the original books. Lena, Bridget, and Tibby all had storylines that moved, with secrets revealed and new characters to introduce.

What likely kept me reading the most was my attachment to the characters from having read the earlier books. (That’s not to say you won’t understand the book if you haven’t read the rest of the series; there’s plenty of history that’s explained.) Reading this was like attending a high school reunion with only the people you actually cared about. It’s fun to see where the characters end up — whether it’s in a good place or bad. Sure, the end was a bit cheesey — okay, it was really cheesey — but author Ann Brashares’ storytelling grew as her characters did, and there’s a lot in this book about what friendship and life really means.

MVP: Tibby. There’s really no single protagonist in the series. It’s split pretty evenly across. But Tibby is clearly the clue in Sisterhood Everlasting. She may have fallen out of touch the most with the others, but despite the tragedy, she still manages to bring them all back together.

Get Sisterhood Everlasting in paperback for $9.60.

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Get ‘Love The One You’re With’ in Paperback for $5.58

If you’ve ever read Something Borrowed or Something Blue, then you probably love author Emily Giffin. She’s the bestselling author who wrote those novels, and a handful of others about modern-day love — a bestselling chick lit novelist, if you will.

So if you like her work, it’s worth picking up a copy of Love the One You’re With. It tells the story of a happily-married woman, who somehow gets back in touch with one of the bad, but tempting boyfriends of her past. It’s a story about love, loyalty, and growing up. Who will she choose? Will it be the right choice?

Emily Giffin has a way of writing books women simply can’t put down, and now Love the One You’re With is available on the cheap.

Get Love the One You’re With in paperback for just $5.58.

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New ‘Bridget Jones’ Book On the Way

After two Bridget Jones novels and two movies, you might have thought Bridget’s story was over. But author Helen Fielding isn’t done writing it yet.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Fielding is working on a third installment to the bestselling Bridget Jones’s Diary series. To keep up with the times, Fielding says the chapters will start off with Bridget’s tweets, rather than her diary entries. A release date has not yet been set.

Speaking of third installments, a third Bridget Jones movie is also in the works, but the third book will not follow the storyline of the third movie. Apparently, there’s also talk about a Bridget Jones musical!

Sounds like a whole lot of Bridget to me! I never read the books, but I saw the first movie and didn’t enjoy it very much. What do you guys think? Are you excited for the new book? Will you read it?


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