I know Jane Green has many enthusiastic fans but this book was barely meh for me. I will say I think Cat is a well-written and empathetic example of tI know Jane Green has many enthusiastic fans but this book was barely meh for me. I will say I think Cat is a well-written and empathetic example of the pure destructiveness that an alcoholic can be. I think that may have actually been the problem. I have been on the other side of addictive and abusive personalities and am generally the one left cleaning up the mess so I felt much more for her daughter and husband and mother than I did for her. Not the book for me. ...more
Warning: Do not drive, handle sharp objects, or wear mascara while listening to this book. It's a bonafide tear jerker. Jojo Moyes somehow manages toWarning: Do not drive, handle sharp objects, or wear mascara while listening to this book. It's a bonafide tear jerker. Jojo Moyes somehow manages to mix a surprisingly sweet romantic storyline and a greek tragedy and a late coming of age story all in one along with a look into a delightfully mundane, blue-collar British family. She also tackles the highly emotional and divisive issue of assisted suicide. Although I don't think all of her books are a good match, fans of Jodi Picoult may enjoy this one because of that combo of tear-jerker and social issues. I didn't always like it but I always was intrigued by the story and it hit me emotionally in a couple of places. I am looking forward to meeting Lou again in After You....more
This is the type of women's fiction with a touch of magical realism that fans of Sarah Addison Allen may enjoy. I quite enjoyed the magical tone of thThis is the type of women's fiction with a touch of magical realism that fans of Sarah Addison Allen may enjoy. I quite enjoyed the magical tone of the story, the lovely setting, and the quirky characters. That being said, I have to give a warning for those of you who prefer gentle reads. The author took the story to a much darker, sadder place than I was prepared to go based on the promotion of the story. It was jarring and even more so because the end wraps up so neatly. I didn't feel justice was really served and was upset enough by the turn the story took that the ending felt sickly sweet and forced rather than a natural part of the story....more
The thing I know absolutely after reading this book: princesshood is not for me. Keep me out of the spotlight, thank you very much. Even the love of aThe thing I know absolutely after reading this book: princesshood is not for me. Keep me out of the spotlight, thank you very much. Even the love of a good man and all the tiaras are not worth the paparazzi, the creation of a public persona, the constant dieting, and the terrible behavior of people online aimed right at your heart. I am still horrified that Kate was in pantyhose the day after baby #2 and smiling and waving at people. I would have punched my publicist if I were her. Which is probably an indication of why I am not princess material.
The thing that bothered me most about this book: Nick never apologized for the many, many times that he left Bex emotionally and physically alone to handle big dramatic changes to her life and liberty. I wanted way more groveling. WAY more. So I just couldn't buy all the way into the sort-of HEA we're left with in the end. Now some may say that Bex betrayal was over the line, but I found most of her actions justifiable.
The things I loved about this book: Bex and her odd-ball cohort of friends are just a delight to be around. I was sometimes frustrated with Bex and her willingness to take so much abuse in this relationship but the story is really about her personal growth more than a royal romance. I liked her, even when I was frustrated with her. I loved her friends' efforts to rally around her every time things went south, and there was a lot of going south in the 464 pages. The portrayal of Bex's relationship individually and collectively with her mom, dad, and sister rang so true to me. They all love each other and have functional, healthy relationships. It was a pleasant surprise to have a supportive and loving family in the picture in a romantic book. And despite my misgivings about Nick, the romance itself is very sweet. Plus So. Much. England. I'm just desperate to go visit again now. And never, ever leave.
What I don't recommend: listening to this book. The narrator nailed creating a solid voice for Bex but her British accents were sometimes painful to listen to. And if my uncultured American ears felt that way, I can only image in the grimaces from the Brits.
In the end, I laughed, I cried, and despite some of its lumpy bits, I loved this story. It hit a lot of fabulous reading buttons for me and I would happily recommend to romance fans, royals fanatics, and anglophiles....more
**spoiler alert** There is no way I can talk about this book without spoilers so readers beware - don't go any further if you don't want to know impor**spoiler alert** There is no way I can talk about this book without spoilers so readers beware - don't go any further if you don't want to know important plot points. Also, if you have any triggers re: rape, bullying, violence, school shootings, cussing, sexual promiscuity, this book is absolutely not for you. You have been warned.
Without ever cracking a review, I can already hear the complaints coming. Readers (especially other women) are just going to despise Ani. And she is a complete and total bitch in a lot of ways so I get the knee jerk reaction to hate her. The thing is, though, I understand her and I empathize with her. From very early in the story, I suspected that she had experienced emotional abuse at home and/or sexual abuse at a young age (surprise - she had both and also survives a violent school shooting). She has crafted a mask against the world that is so thick she has become that mask in a lot of ways. At some point, she decided that wealthy, sexy, intelligent trophy wives were the safest people to be and she spent all of her college years and her career crafting a persona to become one of these safe women. She sacrificed quite a bit of her self-esteem and individual personality to accomplish this. The woman is seriously dedicated.
Now, this has received the obligatory marketing nod of "Gone Girl" read alike. And I'm gonna say no way. In fact, if anything, it is Gone Girl in reverse. In Gone Girl, Amy has created the perfect good girl persona that tricked the whole world including her terrible husband, but underneath is the most psychotic bitch ever to walk the fictional planet. On top of that, she has exactly zero excuse for turning out this way which meant that as a reader I had zero empathy for her. Ani has done just the opposite. She's a generally nice person underneath but has crafted an outward facing Devil-Wears-Prada super bitch to protect her from the world. For multiple very, very good reasons she does not trust a single person so this persona is completely understandable. Gone Girl was a story about terrible people living through a highly suspenseful event with a super-crazy twist. Luckiest Girl Alive is about one normal if screwed up woman with both good and bad traits reliving the highly suspenseful events of her freshman year in high school with not so much of a twist. I empathized with her so closely that it was painful to read her story
At it's heart this is a story that most of us can understand - the story of trying to reconcile things that have happened to you with who you actually are and who you want to be. It's intense and enraging and terrifying but ultimately hopeful. ...more
I was just recently discussing with a friend the lack of books that I feel really, strongly represent female friendships. I would love to read more boI was just recently discussing with a friend the lack of books that I feel really, strongly represent female friendships. I would love to read more books about courting and finding and sustaining friends. Too often when I find books with a large focus on friendship they portray either or both of the Hollywood stereotypes of mean girls pretending to be friends but terrorizing each other or girls with the perfect, most wonderful bestest friends ever who eat ice cream and have pillow fights. Now these stereotypes come from somewhere and both elements appear in female friendships in real life - sometimes a single friendship will exhibit both of these multiple times through the life of the friendship. However, they just never ring true for me. They never allow for the deep intimacy that can come with a true friendship, the silliness, the relief of having someone who just gets you, etc. Having had a couple of very serious friendships in my life, I am always sad when these stories don't ring true.
The afore mentioned very intelligent friend pointed out to me that his most successful friendships are drama free - as actualized and self-aware adults we only have to be friends with people we truly care about and who care about us equally, and we tend to seek stable friendships that don't add to the stresses of our daily lives by being drama llama-ful. This type of story just doesn't lend itself to good storytelling. This, of course, is why the few authors who do authentic representations of friendship well tend to hide it in a larger story, i.e. Victoria Dahl. That way the friendships are a support system and the drama is external to the group.
So, with all that said, I was a bit worried about tackling a women's fiction novel (a genre that often doesn't work for me as a reader) that puts a lens on a long term friendship between three women. I expected full drama all the time. And this story does have some of that - it's really the story of these three women as they grow up and face their own addictions and neuroses and some of that means hurting each other. They face drug and alcohol addiction, terrible men, violence, child-rearing, and on. What sets this book apart, though, is that through all of this they remain a support system for each other. Even when they are at their lowest or are facing a betrayal within the group, they still reach out to each other and show up when it's important. Anna and Kate especially seem like very real people - people I could be friends with and people I could care about even at their lowest. And the dialogue is fabulous - I swear that Lutz mined the on-going three-way text between me and two of my closest and wackiest friends. It's funny and sweet and poignant and heartbreaking.
My one complaint is that the third friend - George - didn't strike me as a fully realized person like Anna and Kate did. She seemed somehow less and I was a bit sad to find her so flat. Still, I blew through this book in a single day and if I find more women writing this type of women's fiction I may become a convert.
The Anchoress is an interesting book about a fascinating medieval religious practice. There was a time when a patron could pay for the living expensesThe Anchoress is an interesting book about a fascinating medieval religious practice. There was a time when a patron could pay for the living expenses of a woman who lived as a walled-in recluse in a room attached to the side of the church and was never allowed to leave. In exchange for the cost of her food and clothing and other needs, the woman agreed to pray daily for the health of the patron and the community. She often acted as a wise woman for community women, offering guidance and support. At face value, it sounds like a terrible and lonely existence in many ways. But through Sarah, we also see it as a unique opportunity for a woman to take some control back of her own fate in a world intent on denying her every freedom. Cadwallader, like a good author and historian, does not make any allowances for historical behavior and beliefs and never tries to soften the blow for modern audiences. It makes for an utterly fascinating look into the mind of a complex woman who is truly faithful and devout and thus believes herself to be a weak, willful, and wicked sinner but has a hidden spark that also questions this reality. The book becomes an epic internal battle as she examines religious texts, gets to know the women in the community she now serves, and strives to live what she believes to be a righteous life. ...more
The thing I loved about this book was that as a reader, I got everything I was expecting to get and a little more. Helen is a character who is easy toThe thing I loved about this book was that as a reader, I got everything I was expecting to get and a little more. Helen is a character who is easy to relate to: she has a tough family history and a failed marriage both of which have combined to shape her into a person she is not too happy being. In a last ditch effort to knock herself out of a full year slump, she signs up for an insanely dangerous three week survivalist course despite her lack of anything resembling wilderness skills. She is by far the oldest person in the training and finds herself isolated by her perceived differences from the rest of the group. Her adventures and misadventures often had me laughing out loud. She does manage to find some hidden inner strength and passion although not necessarily in the way she expected to. Her love interest is ridiculously sweet and yummy and the romance between them simmers throughout the book to a very satisfying end. I continue to indulge in day dreams about him. I also very much enjoyed the mending of a lifetime dysfunctional relationship between Helen and her brother - I found both her frustration with him and her efforts to change her perception of him from hooligan child to functional adult to ring true.
There was one thing that really bothered me - enough to throw me out of the story completely. (view spoiler)[It is revealed that Jake, the aforementioned love interest, has a degenerative eye disease that will soon leave him functionally blind. Helen's response was immediately to see this as a disability that will leave him with no hope left in the world and completely helpless for ever and ever. Now, as a sighted person I do believe that I would experience some serious terror and grief at the idea of myself or my loved ones losing their sight. This is something that would change the whole way you live and process the world. But I was really frustrated that there wasn't a point past this dramatic reaction by either Jake or Helen that allowed for the idea that while it would be a different life to be blind, his diagnosis is in fact not the end of the world. Especially with today's technology, Jake still has his full life ahead of him and once he gets past grieving and an intensive learning period to figure out how to live without his sight, he'll be just fine and can still pursue all of his dreams. I wanted Helen to say "Hey this will suck for a while but we'll figure it out." But she never really did and so the delightful reunion between Helen and Jake and their HEA was left a little tainted for me. (hide spoiler)]
Despite that inelegant piece, I loved this story. It left me with a happy reading glow.
My reading copy was provided gratis by the publisher....more