Less by Andrew Sean Greer

Published: July 18th, 2017
Publisher: Lee Boudreaux Books

Who says you can’t run away from your problems?

You are a failed novelist about to turn fifty. A wedding invitation arrives in the mail: your boyfriend of the past nine years is engaged to someone else. You can’t say yes–it would be too awkward–and you can’t say no–it would look like defeat. On your desk are a series of invitations to half-baked literary events around the world.

QUESTION: How do you arrange to skip town?

ANSWER: You accept them all.

What would possibly go wrong? Arthur Less will almost fall in love in Paris, almost fall to his death in Berlin, barely escape to a Moroccan ski chalet from a Saharan sandstorm, accidentally book himself as the (only) writer-in-residence at a Christian Retreat Center in Southern India, and encounter, on a desert island in the Arabian Sea, the last person on Earth he wants to face. Somewhere in there: he will turn fifty. Through it all, there is his first love. And there is his last.

Because, despite all these mishaps, missteps, misunderstandings and mistakes, LESS is, above all, a love story.

A scintillating satire of the American abroad, a rumination on time and the human heart, a bittersweet romance of chances lost, by an author The New York Times has hailed as “inspired, lyrical,” “elegiac,” “ingenious,” as well as “too sappy by half,” LESS shows a writer at the peak of his talents raising the curtain on our shared human comedy.”

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Lee Bourdreaux Books, and Andrew Sean Greer for providing me an arc in exchange for an honest review. 

I love this book. I could go on and on about the main character, Arthur Less. He was one of the best characters in a book I’ve read in a long time. A failing novelist who can’t find love and deals with it along the way. There’s so many things that could go wrong in life, and Arthur Less is the champion of that happening to him. Above all, this story is about love and how it can bring you down and lift you up.

This book definitely shows heartbreak. I resonate with these kind of books because I’ve seen love fall apart and mend back together. This book is so great because it would stand out to a lot of people for the same reason. So many people have had their hearts broken, whatever their sexual orientation is. Writing about something that so many people can talk about was definitely well done by the author. Andrew Greer really made me feel like he was the heartbroken one himself. He wrote this book so beautifully that it made me feel for Arthur on multiple occasions.

Next, this book was so very quotable. There were many quotes that I will take from this book. I highlighted a lot on my Kindle, and I love when that happens because it shows how quotable a book really was. It seemed that every page had a different theme, but each theme wrapped into one big theme at the end. There was one specific quote I took from this and I think it was written in to each page: “Just for the record: happiness is not bullshit“. And it’s not. Arthur Less proves that through everything he goes through.

This was absolutely wonderful to read. It was comforting because it shows that in the end, it will all work out. Arthur Less goes through a myriad of things and he comes out of it okay. It’s a very important message, and it is displayed very well throughout this book on every single page you read.

Overall, a beautiful, dazzling, comforting, heartbreaking read by Andrew Sean Greer and it was magnificent. I will be recommending it to a lot of people.

Rating: ★★★★★

 

Sex & Sweet Tea Series by Juliette Poe

#1: Ain’t He Precious
Published: April 11th, 2017

“Welcome to Whynot, North Carolina, population 3,872. It has one stoplight, one bar, and the one-and-only Trixie Mancinkus.

Eleven years ago, Trixie graduated Harvard Law, turned down a job offer from one of the most prestigious law firms in Boston, and headed home to Whynot to open her own firm. Not only did she leave behind the big city, but she also left her boyfriend of three years. And just so we’re clear… that would be me.

So what am I doing in Whynot at this very moment? It seems Trixie needs help with a legal case and for some insane reason, she called on me for assistance. I’ve been in town for five minutes, and I’m every bit as out of place as I feel. Trixie is all sweet, southern curves to my tailored suits and high-priced haircuts. It’s a culture clash of north versus south and about the only thing we have in common is our physical attraction to each other.

But I have a new motto since coming to Whynot: When life hands you lemons, all you need is a little sex and sweet tea to make things better.”

Review:

Trixie and Ryland made life choices that left them both without love for eleven years. He stayed in Boston, working at one of the biggest firms there, while Trixie went back home after Harvard. When Trixie needs help on a case, she asks Ry to come help her in her hometown of Whynot, NC. Trixie is exactly where she is supposed to be and Ry sticks out like a sore thumb. After denying their chemistry for so long, it’s bound to happen that things will escalate in the way that they both want it to.

This book was so fun to read. Sawyer Bennett is using a different name to write as Juliette Poe. There were so many memorable and hilarious quotes that could come from this book. One of my favorites was from Ryland: “The people in this town are nuttier than squirrel shit.” There were moments where I laughed out loud.

The chemistry that this book had was unbelievable. I read tons and tons of romance. It’s one of my favorite genres. “Ain’t He Precious” had some of the best chemistry that I have ever read. I love the story of this book too. Two loves from college get away from each other: if it’s meant to be, it will be.

The last thing was the characters. Juliette Poe did a magnificent job describing what it’s like to live in a small town. I live in a town where it’s only two miles long. It’s very true that when you go out into town, you know everyone. When we have family or friends visit, they always say, “Wow, you know everyone, don’t you?”.  Juliette Poe wrote the small town narrative perfectly.

Overall, this was a wonderful book that I would recommend to any romance lover. If you like a little steam, you’ll get that too! The writing style and characters were all phenomenal. Read. This. Book!

The second book of this series: Stubborn As A Mule, is published as of July 20th, 2017. This is a story of Trixie’s brother Lowe, and how he got himself in deep trouble with the law. There’s a historical house that belongs in the Mancinkus family and it was bought from underneath of him by a woman named Melinda. So, what does Lowe do? He vandalizes the house and paints it bright pink. The second book will be about Lowe and Melinda’s journey to fix the house as court ordered by a judge.

Rating: ★★★★★

#2: Stubborn As a Mule
Published: July 20th, 2017

Down in Whynot, NC, there are three things that hold true: 1) life moves just a little bit slower, 2) family means everything, and 3) you don’t mess with history.

When his family decides to sell a home that’s been part of their history for over a century, Lowe Mancinkus is madder than a hornet. To add insult to injury, the woman who purchased it is some fancy pants, city girl looking to fix it up and sell it off. Doesn’t matter that she’s sexy as hell or that just being near her gets his blood racing like never before. That home belongs to his family, or at least it did until she came to town.

Well that just won’t do, now will it?

From the moment that she laid eyes on the historical home in rural North Carolina, Melinda Rothschild knew Mainer House was something special. The perfect escape from life in New York City, Melinda signed the papers and set to work restoring the house to its natural beauty. That is until an angry Lowe showed up on her doorstep one day. With a scowl on his handsome, chiseled face. And a shotgun in his strong, muscular arms.

Is it getting hot in here?

Melinda’s about to get a lesson on life in the south, but Lowe is about to learn a lesson of his own – this city girl doesn’t back down from a fight. ”

Review:

I waited and waited months for this book to come out and let me say, I am NOT disappointed. Stubborn as a Mule starts off with Lowe and Melinda in the court room trying to figure out a punishment for Lowe’s vandalism. The judge has known Lowe and his family for a long time, so when the outsider, Melinda, starts putting up a fight about how much punishment he is actually getting. When the judge finds her to be a nuisance, he summons both of them to work on the house together for 200 hours. When they begin working together, it’s not a surprise that there is chemistry there. Melinda learns the hard way of a town that is so small, running into Lowe’s ex-flings and having to hear all the details. Lowe is falling for Melinda and vice versa. The perfect story yet again.

I should just copy and paste my review of the first in the series. This book was absolutely fantastic. Honestly, it was the perfect sequel. This book had a different premise than the first. The first book was more of a “one that got away” story line, and this one was enemies-to-lovers. It was amazing.

The characters were great. I loved Lowe because even though he acts tough on the outside, he’s sweet and romantic on the inside. I didn’t like Melinda at first. She was just so mean and her attitude was holier-than-thou. However, I loved her by the end. She’s a strong, independent woman that hasn’t been in a relationship in a long time. Again, Melinda learns how it is in a small town. Juliette Poe continues to really bring that home.

Overall, again, a perfect love story about learning how to be patient and kind. Trixie and Ry were mentioned in this book, so it’s important to acknowledge that this series is staying together. I love this series and can’t wait for the next!

As of right now, this series is five books long. The next book is called “Barking Up the Wrong Tree” and it’s about Trixie and Lowe’s sister, Laken, who is the only veterinarian in Whynot. What will happen when a new dog shows up in town with a very cute owner? We’ll find out in September of 2017!

I will continue this post as a series when each book comes out!

Cheeky by Natasha Madison

Published: June 4th, 2017

“​Bradley Fitch has it all. A suave job, a gigantic trust fund, and an accent that makes panties drop faster than the speed of light. His new life in New York City is fast-paced and furious, but it’s nothing a little getaway can’t cure.

What says party and unwind like Las Vegas? Nothing. Plus, whatever happens there has to stay there.

When his best friend bails, he finds himself sitting on the plane next to his best friend’s sister.

She’s off-limits—proverbial caution tape wrapped around her body. Of course, she’s also totally ball busting gorgeous.

Lexi Quinn fell in love with Bradley at eight years old and then vowed to kill him at eight and a half. What was supposed to be a romantic week away is turning into a nightmare. Her ex is actually married, her luggage is lost, and her reservation is cancelled. And she’s sitting next to the man she swore to hate forever

One week. No strings attached. What is the worst that could happen?

It’s all fun and games till this British bad boy gives new meaning to BBC and becomes a little bit too cheeky.”

Review:

I am a sucker for British contemporary romance. I live for it. When I hear about a new one being put out, it gets put on my first to read list. Bradley and Lexi are both individuals from Britain who are away from home. They’re childhood friends where Bradley was best friends with Lexi’s brother. Both living in New York City, they find each other on a plane to Las Vegas when Bradley’s best friend bails and Lexi is getting away from her old life. After the flight, things go wrong for Lexi. Her luggage is lost and her reservation at the hotel is cancelled from her ex. Bradley, being a nice guy, invites Lexi to just stay with him for the week. Can Bradley hold the temptation of his best friend’s sister? Not by a long shot. They agree to have one week and then it goes back to how it was. What will it be like when they get home to NYC?

I loved this book. Natasha Madison wrote this with such passion and excitement that I read it in two days. I couldn’t put it down. The characters, the idea, the setting, everything was perfect. This book was definitely a great mix of romance and comedy. There were so many funny one-liners that I laughed out loud at. Very sexy, funny and overall romantic. A great read. Can’t wait to read more Natasha Madison!

Rating: ★★★★★

Pinkie Promises by Renea Porter

Published: August 10th, 2016

“Simone has lost her trust in men. The one exception is her best friend Jace Prescott. In the twenty years they’ve known each other, they’ve made a lot of pinkie promises.

Jace has always had feelings for Simone. But she was with his brother for three years before they split.

With James wedding to another woman coming up, Simone refuses to attend. Even if it is her best friend’s brother.

Never one to go back on a pinkie promise, Simone agrees to being Jace’s girlfriend for the weekend long wedding festivities.

Will Simone finally see what’s right there in front of her? Will Jace be able to convince her that he isn’t his brother?”

Review:

Simone doesn’t have faith in any relationships involving her and another person. She’s been through too much when she found James, her ex, cheating on her. Nothing has been the same. Jace is Simone’s best friend and James’s brother. He watched her shut herself down after the blowout with his brother. They’ve known each other since they were kids, always making pinkie promises to each other throughout the years. Now, well into adulthood, they’re still best friends and making pinkie promises. When Simone hears that James is getting married, Jace makes her pinkie promise to be his date. Who is she to go back on a pinkie promise? They clearly have chemistry and when they show to up to Jace’s parents, everyone sees the same.

This book was very fast and had a cute love story. Simone is like every woman who gets her heart broken. It was very easy to relate to her. I didn’t know if I would like this story in the beginning because I didn’t like how it was two brothers, but everything seemed to pan out in the end. James was getting married so what was he to say about it?

I think that I still feel a little bit the same as I thought I would. I didn’t like the best friends but you dated my brother and I’m not him story line. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t like it that much. It would be different if it was a best friend instead of brother or something like that. It’s a personal preference.

There were also a few editing errors. I am a huge stickler for that kind of thing, so unfortunately, it makes my rating drop. There were a few times where your was supposed to be you’re and other things.

The ending was a little too fast. I understand that it was a novella, but it still felt a little bit rushed. Overall, it was a cute, romantic story, but the editing and ending could have been better.

Rating: ★★★

 

All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg

Published: March 7th, 2017
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

“Who is Andrea Bern? When her therapist asks the question, Andrea knows the right things to say: she’s a designer, a friend, a daughter, a sister. But it’s what she leaves unsaid—she’s alone, a drinker, a former artist, a shrieker in bed, captain of the sinking ship that is her flesh—that feels the most true. Everyone around her seems to have an entirely different idea of what it means to be an adult: her best friend, Indigo, is getting married; her brother—who miraculously seems unscathed by their shared tumultuous childhood—and sister-in-law are having a hoped-for baby; and her friend Matthew continues to wholly devote himself to making dark paintings at the cost of being flat broke. But when Andrea’s niece finally arrives, born with a heartbreaking ailment, the Bern family is forced to reexamine what really matters. Will this drive them together or tear them apart?

Told in gut-wrenchingly honest, mordantly comic vignettes, All Grown Up is a breathtaking display of Jami Attenberg’s power as a storyteller, a whip-smart examination of one woman’s life, lived entirely on her own terms.”

Review:

Andrea Bern struggles through her life. It’s quite obvious. Things happen around her like her brother having a baby, her best friend getting married, etc., and she doesn’t want anything to do with it. She has all of these adjectives for herself that she won’t dare speak of out loud. Alone, drinker, a former artist, a shrieker in bed. She goes through life living on her own terms, not getting married, not having children, etc. I have to say that I had high expectations for this book, and for me it fell a little flat.

First, I believe that I was waiting for a moving story, but that doesn’t really happen. It really is just sad all the way through. Andrea does live life her way, but she’s unhappy doing so. I was expecting her to make some sort of a change or something along those lines. I was expecting a pretty fast paced, inspiring novel considering how short it was. I was disappointed to find that’s not what I got.

Next, I couldn’t like any of the characters. I couldn’t connect to any of them. Andrea especially was hard to grasp. The moments where the other characters were involved were extremely short lived. Andrea was just a girl who couldn’t take any other advice. She was a drinker, drug addict, and what seems like a sex addict. I really wanted to like her, but I like someone who accepts help when it’s needed.

Lastly, I can appreciate the honesty of this book. There was no hiding. Andrea was completely honest and upfront about everything she did. Maybe that was the point of this book, but I wasn’t really feeling it. It was only 197 pages, but it was extremely depressing all 197 pages.

Overall, I think this book had a lot of potential, but nothing happened for it to get a higher rating from me. I think it was extremely honest, but very, very sad. It didn’t grasp me from the beginning and I had a hard time getting into it. I wish I could’ve liked this book more.

Rating: ★★/5

Bitch Slap by J. Kenner

Published: June 1st, 2017

The first time I met her I wanted to slap her.

The second time, I knew I had to have her.

As for the third time, a gentleman doesn’t tell.

So I guess it’s a good thing I’m no gentleman … right?

Let’s get this out of the way, right off the bat: I love women.
I love the way they look. The way they smell. The way they feel. Especially the way they feel. And I’ve pretty much made it my mission to give each and every woman who shares my bed the ride of her life.

Then I met her. Bitchy as hell and completely uninterested in me. And damned if I didn’t want her. Crave her. I told myself I only wanted to tame her. That it was all about the challenge.

I never expected to break through that ice queen exterior and find the softness underneath. Never expected how wild she’d be between the sheets or the way she’d cry my name with such sincere intensity when I totally rocked her world.

Most of all, I never expected to fall for her.

But I did.

And the question is, now that I know I want her, how the hell do I go about keeping her?”

Review:

Very, very well written novel by J. Kenner. I really enjoyed this.

It was a very current and contemporary romance based on finding the wrong person in a restaurant using a dating app for one night stands. She thought he was looking for long-term, he thought she was looking for, well you know.

There were some parts in the beginning that had me a little confused. When they first meet at the restaurant, I was confused on who she actually was. However, when I understood, things really picked up. I read this in a day.

The ending was my favorite part of this book. It was so sweet and absolutely perfect. There was nothing I wanted more than that ending, and I got it so I was extremely happy.

Rating: ★★★★

The Dinner by Herman Koch

Published: February 12th, 2013

“An internationally bestselling phenomenon: the darkly suspenseful, highly controversial tale of two families struggling to make the hardest decision of their lives — all over the course of one meal.

It’s a summer’s evening in Amsterdam, and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. Between mouthfuls of food and over the polite scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse — the banality of work, the triviality of the holidays. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened.

Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act; an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children. As civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple show just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.

Tautly written, incredibly gripping, and told by an unforgettable narrator, The Dinner promises to be the topic of countless dinner party debates. Skewering everything from parenting values to pretentious menus to political convictions, this novel reveals the dark side of genteel society and asks what each of us would do in the face of unimaginable tragedy”

Review:

When reading the synopsis of this book, I thought wow. I thought it sounded really intriguing and would grab my attention right away. I kept this book in the back of my mind until I found out that it was apparently being made in to a movie. I just had to read it. I’m very disappointed to say that this will go down in history as one of my books that I rated under 3 stars. I rarely ever do that, and I hate doing it. However, I feel like this book really deserved this rating.

There were multiple times where I wanted to stop this book. It was very dry, and some people like that, but this really had trouble holding my attention throughout a lot of the book. It was very slow, and I understand trying to give the reader some anticipation for something big, I just feel like that never came. It was a bit predictable.

However, this book did show something that I do see a lot around me, and that is how far parents will go to protect their children. What they will do and how they will do it. The parents in this book were interesting, but I wish I could say that I liked them or related to them.

I wish I really enjoyed this book, but a book with this dry of a narrator and how much it interested me was just not in the cards unfortunately.

Rating: ★★