“…if you’re going to step on people to reach the top, you might as well do it in stilettos!” (Bella, 128)
Lucy Butler has always been a wallflower. Shunned in middle school for her braces, befriended in high school only for her Photoshop and camera skills Lucy seems to have been made only to support the more popular people among us. Freshly graduated from college with a major in photography Lucy is ready to separate from the pack. She’s going to get an internship with the most famous fashion photographer around and Lucy’s not taking No for an answer.
But breaking into the ranks of celebrity isn’t a position Lucy is prepared for. She’s lived life in the middle; being shot to the top of American Royalty is a dizzying place for poor Lucy to be. It’s a world filled with beautiful people, shopping sprees, hot musicians, and drugs. Drugs that keep this celebrity-encrusted world spinning. Lucy will find herself in a perilous position. She’ll be privy to the finest information the gossip rags could never tell you…she’ll also fall so deep into the glittery world of drugs and fashion she might never dig herself out.
A debut tale written by a woman who has lived this life, Kingsley will have you hanging on her dramatic memories, and dying to figure out who this tale was based on…
This book is a total beach read. Seriously folks, it’s the candy corn in your fall reading world. It’s like US magazine in novel format. At the beginning of the book all I could think was “Where was this book when I was 17?!” I would have LOVED it. As it stands my adult reading of the tale became more enjoyable when I decided to enjoy the good bits and ignore everything that wasn’t working – heck the author was, why couldn’t I?
Perhaps that last line was snarky…
But, this book is about 80% snark. It’s as if fashion, snark, and The Devil Wears Prada had a baby. That baby would be this book. Kingsley has a wonderful and entertaining voice when she’s writing what she knows or what she enjoys. Each chapter where in the heroine Lucy falls deeper and deeper into the celebrity-encrusted drug-laden world gets better and better. The characters are rich, the writing is sharp, and the exploits will make you want to rack your brain for the real celebrity Kingsley is talking about. But resist that urge to Google Kingsley’s previous life as a celebrity friend. Kingsley’s virtual life is tighter than Fort Knox. Even as a professional librarian I gave up the hunt. *Sigh*( I have a fierce hope Bella was really Brittany Spears…)
Anyway – Between the nuggets of Pure Goodness there were some stretches of, well, not goodness. You can see where Kingsley is a new author in the following:
The Secondary “Friend” Characters were flatter than pancakes and non-existent except when Lucy ‘needed’ them. The friends Lucy pines for, wants to brag to, are generally stand-ins with which to measure her ‘celebrity life’ to the normal life of an L.A.young thing trying to break into the biz. To cut them would have strengthened the tale. They never felt real to me anyway. Time Passage – Warning: There is no accounting for how much time passes in Lucy’s world. Chapters range from beginning either days or moments after the previous chapter to months later with a rare hint at how far we are apart. Don’t be surprised if you start a chapter thinking it’s a day later only to find that weeks have gone by! Using holidays, weather, time stamps – seriously, anything! would have moored the reader chronologically. It was frustrating not knowing the speed at which Lucy’s story was progressing. I did love that this read falls into the “New Adult” category. I personally would have eaten it up in the older teen/new 20′s space. If you love gossip rags you’ll eat this story up! I ended it excited to see what a second, more focused, effort would be from this author. With some practice she could be a great Chick Lit go-to.
Rating: 2/5 Snarky, fun romp through the dark side of celebrity culture – A debut author to keep an eye on.(less)
Everyone had different facets to their personality. We’re all friends, family, and lovers – we’re runners, artists, rea...moreLink to Original Review BookTalk
Everyone had different facets to their personality. We’re all friends, family, and lovers – we’re runners, artists, readers, and gamers – we dress like cowboys, fashionistas, and sports nuts. We’re all unique and we’re all one new interest away from change.
McLean has taken change to a whole new level. Post-Parental-Divorce McLean chose to travel with Dad, moving across the country saving restaurants rather than setting up camp with Mom, her wealthy husband, and new baby twins. If McLean’s life is going to involve more “new” things – McLean is going to choose them. And she’s going to choose a new personality to go along with them. As she moves from town to town McLean has had as many new fake names and wardrobes to go along with them. Goth in one town, Student Council queen in another. Never making more lasting connections than absolutely necessary.
But at the end of her Senior Year McLean has run into a problem. She can’t seem to shake her real self. Caught exposing her actual name and forced to look at her real preferences, it’s finally time for McLean to get to know who she really is.
This was my first YA contemp audiobook. Usually I stick to something more action packed in my audio choices. Lots of YA paranormals – Stephenie Plum mysteries – even the entertaining (hilarious) Tina Fey autobiography. I was worried that a contemp (which I don’t seem very drawn to even in more traditional reading pursuits wasn’t going to keep my interest. Without all the battles, blood, kissing, and mystery I thought my mind might start to wander.
I won the book via Twitter thanks to Sarah Dessen and Penguin. Whoo Hoo to free audio books. Those babies are EXPENSIVE! Ha.
Silly me – What Happened to Goodbye ended up being very good. Far from my mind straying I found myself sitting in the car for a few extra minutes just to hear a bit more of the story. I have to give props to Dessen. She isn’t the powerhouse contemp writer for nothing. The story was a sweet, easy listen for a coming of age tale. I didn’t find McLean to be “annoying” and I sympathized with her lingering divorce issues. Her life of moving from place to place – personality to personality – was interesting and nowhere near as odd as I had worried it was going to be. All teens go through stages; personality changes. McLean’s just happened to be a bit more structured. The romance was light and secondary to the tale. McLean’s own issues, and full life – including some great and well drawn secondary characters – were central.
What really made this listen great though, was the voice of the actress: Meredith Hanger. Hanger actually sounded like a teen!?!
And the voices she used, her tone and emphasis while reading were spot on. By far the best narrator I’ve come across. It truly enhanced my experience.
Rating: 5/5 The easy listen and pitch-perfect narrator blew me away.(less)
This book is one in the vein of The Devil Wears Prada or The Nanny Diaries. Read: smart, cute young thing ends up disillusioned by her first job out o...moreThis book is one in the vein of The Devil Wears Prada or The Nanny Diaries. Read: smart, cute young thing ends up disillusioned by her first job out of college. The general gist of this one is that Alex has dreamed all her life of a job on ‘The Street’ and after stiff competition she lands the job on the bond desk. Enter: the hard-core boss, Chick, and a slew of secondary male characters manning the desk. Of course the job isn’t all the rainbows and butterflies Alex dreamed of. Instead it consists of a vaguely demeaning nickname (Girlie), a seat on a folding chair (you gotta earn your spot on the desk), and a menagerie of absurd tasks (buying and carting home a 50lb wheel of cheese, tracking a co-worker as he eats an entire vending machine). The experience of the job itself is joined (of course) by an unrecommended romance: Alex’s coworker Will. He’s a bedouche. Obvi.
This one didn’t work for me for a few reasons:
Alex Complains. Alex complains A LOT. And I didn’t really agree with her. Yes, She’s expected to do some pretty wacky things. Shit jobs like helping indecisive bankers put together a Powerpoint, create excel spreadsheets till the wee hours of the morning, and being relegated to a folding chair – watching – till she was seasoned enough to earn a spot at the desk. But really, what first job doesn’t contain petty tasks no one else wants to take on? Spending extra time learning software and job specific skills? Heck even the metaphorical ‘folding chair’ where you wait and watch to gain experience? Alex complaining about these ‘injustices’ comes off as spoiled or entitled rather than garnering sympathy from the listener.
2. The ‘boys club’ was really kinda nice.
As far as the other guys on the desk, her boss, and all those pranks? It really felt like fun, older brother stuff – straight from the start. Alex was taken underwing and accepted pretty quickly. Still…Alex complained.
By the time Alex hits the financial breakdown of 2008 – and really has something to complain about – I was done. Obviously Will was a jerk from the start. I just wanted Alex to pick another job. This one hadn’t been her thing from the beginning. I wanted her to see that life was good when it was good. To fight when it got tough. Working on Wall street has never looked so easy. Surely, if your Dad worked there and you’d been prepping all your life for the position you’d be more prepared?!
3. To add insult to injury the ending was rushed and cliché.
Enter: Group of girls sitting ’round a bar indulging in margaritas. They all say various versions of “You’ll do great things”. Our heroine exits to go on a first date with the sweet but bad boy bartender turned chef. Perfect timing. No depth of understanding in the least.
1/5 All I can say for this tale is that it would make a better movie, you’d be done with her in 2.5 hours…plus you’d get popcorn.(less)
**spoiler alert** The whole listen was like Meet the Parents – you know what was going to happen (Ahem – read: go wrong) waaay before the character. W...more**spoiler alert** The whole listen was like Meet the Parents – you know what was going to happen (Ahem – read: go wrong) waaay before the character. What should have been bread crumbs of prep for future twists, turns, and revelations were like bread loaves – scratch that – Big. Chunky. Bread Trucks. Thus making the story frustrating to listen to. Just because the heroine is completely unaware doesn't excuse the fact that – for the reader – the jig is up!
And what was the rushed ending about? Hours of prep, worry, 3 months of pregnancy (if I got the count right) and Paul [Mr. Tuesday] is totally OK with an unplanned pregnancy with Gemma. Seriously, if I went home tonight and announced to Mr. Librarian “Guess what honey I’m pregnant” wait – not just ‘pregnant’ but 3 months pregnant I think he’d flip…And we are in a committed relationship and have discussed having children!
It was just so unrealistic as to be unsatisfying. Where were the issues? The emotional connections and reactions? If the pregnancy is – magically – a happy announcement the 3 months of gestation (during which Paul has known and dated her for half of!) should garner some…I don’t know…Shock?…Hurt?…Misunderstanding?…Anger?…Take your pick. Any emotion besides blithe agreement would have deepened the already slightly wooden character of Paul. All I have to say is that Paul was hotter as Mac and more complex as Mr. Tuesday. And the whole thing was one unsatisfying mess. Definitely could have used more butter.
1/5 For a title that asks for more richness when in doubt, there was no depth in the trials and tribulations of these characters. (less)
Grant’s second installment in the Blackshear family series proves to be composed of just as unique a premise as her first novel A Lady Awakened. You’v...moreGrant’s second installment in the Blackshear family series proves to be composed of just as unique a premise as her first novel A Lady Awakened. You’ve got the whore and the wounded third son a.k.a. the soldier. Anyone familiar with regency romance knows that the third son is always stuck with the soldier job – either that or become a preacher. Though I suppose either would do as even regency ladies loved a man in uniform…so suited up for God or Her Royal Army, either promises enough pounds a year for a more than respectful living.
But back to our specific third son: Will Blackshear. First off he’s done with the job of war. Scarred by the sight of too much death, broken by one death in particular, Will finds himself a few promises deep into needing money. Money, he’s decided to grow out of his sold commission in the fertile soil of card tables. Here he finds more than he bargained for in our whore. Lydia is the [high-class] mistress of an acquaintance of Will’s. He notices her at first sight not for her beauty, but for her concentration and ability to play cards. Lydia, like her predecessor Martha, is by far the more interesting character of the pair.
Lydia began her life as an actual Lady.
Yep. A woman with a good family and decent prospects at a uniformed man of her own in holy matrimony. I won’t spoil her tale into the sordid world of ‘the other woman’ but I will tell you that her story has far more depth than a formerly rich girl needing quick and dirty money. We already know what happens in that plot: The woman always finds some rake who will take her virginity and end up marrying her in a very proper ceremony…they all live happily ever after. And I’m not dismissing the enjoyment of a plot like that. I’m just sayin’ that Lydia’s realistic fall and equally realistic ending are not trite. They’re rife with trauma and emotion. They’ve made her the perfect woman for a wounded soldier like Will.
But even more interesting than the extra care given to Lydia’s back-story is that she’s really not all that unhappy being a mistress. Nope. She’s got a decent sugar daddy, racks of clothing, the freedom to habitate gambling hells, and a really good sex life…that she enjoys to its fullest extent. Being a mistress isn’t the worst ending Lydia could have had. It isn’t until she’s given the chance she thought she’d lost all those years ago that she reconsiders her enjoyment in her profession.
However, while Grants plot and characters again BLOW ME AWAY, I will admit I liked the first in this series better than the second.
Shoot me. I’m always going against the Goodreads grain.
My main issue was with Lydia. I don’t think that her character was as fleshed out as she could have been. Grant created a quagmire of issues that were so deliciously unique and interesting. I just didn’t feel that at the end of this story Lydia was fully figured out. I could have used a little more time with her. Case in point was Lydia working through untangling her use of sex: 1. her love of sex, 2. mistress sex, and 3. love sex. I think because she enjoyed sex so much it was difficult for her to break through her hard-core mistress sex (a.k.a. sex for sex’s sake) and learn to have loving sex with Will (a.k.a. sex to build a closer connection with your partner). Because really, most people enjoy a smattering of both. Even if we aren’t all 19th century harlots. But since it was a huge part of Lydia’s transformation to find the difference between the two, I’ll just say it was difficult for me to see the sexual change in her.
Rating: 3.5/5 Yet another concoction of unique plots and carefully built characters. (less)
The reviews are right about this read: the voice of the book (really the juxtaposition of Mrs. Randall and Mr. Mirkwood’s voices) are utterly unique....moreThe reviews are right about this read: the voice of the book (really the juxtaposition of Mrs. Randall and Mr. Mirkwood’s voices) are utterly unique. Mrs. Randall’s [Martha's] character shouldn’t be someone readers like. She’s cold, stiff, and hell-bent on gaining absolutely no pleasure inside or outside the bedroom. And she’s not an iceberg that melts quickly. She spends almost the whole of her month-long daily baby-making activities distancing herself from her body’s ability to enjoy sex.
Mr. Mirkwood [Theo] on the other hand is a sensualist. Charming, witty, a lover of women, and a lover of beauty for beauty’s sake. On the surface you want Martha to fall for him. You expect her to fall fast and hard for a man who is making it his day job to bring her pleasure. Any other romance heroine would have given into the pleasure an experienced rogue can provide…Not Martha. Nope. She’s a holdout – this woman can maintain focus like no one you’ve ever seen. And while I find her to be – restricted – I understand her need to feel special or unique to a man/lover. While, like most women, I wouldn’t feel as insulted to have my body or beauty praised (quite frankly the practical talk of sheep wouldn’t turn me on, lol) what Martha wants is an emotional connection from a man who is seemingly only interested in a bodily one. All that practical talk of sheep, roof fixing, and crop rotation is really Martha connecting with Theo on an emotional level that should (seriously) come far before sex.
Ultimately, it is Martha’s emotional isolation that breaks down Theo’s immaturity and forces him to grow up and gain a conscience. He wonders…if he’s not good at pleasuring women…If he can’t do that – What is he worth? Martha unhinges him and he blossoms because of it. Theo’s sudden caring and leadership in turn break through the ice wall Martha has built around her heart.
By the end of the story you realize it took the mismatched pair to make the best of each other. To push each other to places they wouldn’t have traveled otherwise. They both end up being better people because of it.
And it must be noted that simply because Martha doesn’t want to enjoy sex, that there isn’t a healthy dose of the erotic spun throughout the book. I’m really not lying when I say Martha does nothing to ‘help’ Theo in the bedroom. He gets über excited when she touches his back at one point! However, Martha’s lack of participation causes Theo to come up with some pretty sexy fantasies involving Mrs. Randall herself and a few other women to help him fulfill his sexual errand. Lots of mirror work comes into play, and as Mrs. Randall thaws and becomes Martha its heartwarming (and then fraught with sexual tension) as we see how she begins to try to please Theo and how inspired and hopeful Theo becomes toward her. Theo is nothing if not a character with a bottomless amount of hope.
Rating: 5/5 Can’t stop my admiration for the voice of this novel and its unique premise and plot flow. (less)
If you’re looking for a Picoult novel minus the emotional tears you’ve found a contender. Like most of her plots this one comes with it’s own twists a...moreIf you’re looking for a Picoult novel minus the emotional tears you’ve found a contender. Like most of her plots this one comes with it’s own twists and turns. You know that until the final page there’s always room for a plot point you never saw coming. Picoult plays the reader by revealing critical information so slowly you’re dying to have the whole picture. Right. Now.
I’ll admit this book starts a little slower than I expected. It definitly took about 50 to 70 pages (till the first twist happens) to really get hooked. What keeps you glued to the story is the need to find out if Jack really did it. I swear there were several points where I wanted to throw the book against a wall…
“He couldn’t have done it!!! Could he??? Ahh!”
Mind you, my frustration was exacerbated by the fact that my assistant had just read the book…She knew the ending! You have no idea how badly I wanted to get the ending from her; how many times I begged for her to tell me if Jack did it! She’s a woman of strength though, and managed to restrain herself from spilling the beans.
I have a special place in my heart for the Salem Witch Trials. They were the focus of my minor in Women’s Studies. Some really cray cray stuff. I loved the way Picoult picked and chose which parts of the historical situation she pulled out exact and which she remixed in a new way. The choice to include an actual Wiccian Coven in the book was very cool. The part they played; remixed and interesting.
As much as I enjoyed the book a few parts didn’t do it for me. It was actually the fact that she was a little grandiose in her characterization and motivations that the plot fell a bit flat. Some of the conversations were so dramatic as to feel forced. Like it was trying too hard; stressing too much. Plus the real bad guy never gets his due.
3.5/5 Worth the addictive read…even if it doesn’t work perfectly. (less)
Right from the beginning of this book I had some confusion…
I get that a bunch of sh*t went down in High School – but I don’t know how successfu...moreRight from the beginning of this book I had some confusion…
I get that a bunch of sh*t went down in High School – but I don’t know how successful the introduction of the Ellen character was. On Michelle’s re-meet they seemed to always have been acquaintances. From Carly’s point of view they were once friends (all three of them) now they’re enemies…confused…
Don’t see how Michelle deserves to be so angry at Carly…Just doesn’t seem appropriate. Carly overwhelmingly seems to be the victim. How does Carly have all these amazing ideas and yet never used them at the inn? She’s always shocked that Michelle works so well with her and yet they’ve never (past the 1st day) had a business meeting that didn’t.
Biggest of all of these issues was the whole Michelle hating Carly situation. Let’s break it down…
Michelle has a crush on a guy.
Carly ends up dating said guy…Michelle never made a play for him = No harm no foul.
Carly becomes engaged to said guy
Michelle has sex with said guy right before his wedding to Carly…Carly walks in on the sexy-times. (From this point on I’ll be referring to ‘said guy’ as ‘a$$’.)
Carly still marries the a$$ and becomes pregnant.
A$$ leaves her and takes all the money.
Leaving Carly with nothing, about 8 months pregnant.
Fast forward to the beginning of this book where EVERYONE pities Michelle.
Do you understand how Michelle became the victim?
Nope. Neither did I. It eerked me to say the least.
If this was supposed to be a girlfriend novel then I want more depth and more likable characters…not just a martyr and a bitch. It took them too long to reach a reconciliation point with too much tell and not enough show along the way. And *Spoiler Alert* At the end of the book I still have no idea why everyone pitied Michelle over Carly.
This read it fell flat for me. I wasn’t getting my friendship novel…And don’t hold your breath for romance either. It’s a side note at best and comes with its own issues. You see, Carly is thought of as this big slut from High School (though she’s only slept with her ex-husband) and while I think it’s unfair for her to have this reputation she still jumped into bed with her love interest real quick. Quick like, hi I just met you and let’s have a quickie: you’ve got 10 minutes…Go!
And that would be one of the few times a sexual relationship happens in the novel. Though for Carly it held weight because she thinks this later while gazing upon her lover:
“She remembered that body from their lone but very powerful sexual encounter” (30 pgs from end of book)
What I immediately thought following my reading of this was that this ‘encounter’ (of the third kind?) was 10 minutes long and that Carly was kinda slutty.
I’ve turned into one of her high school classmates! The book did it to me. I didn’t like anyone but the dog by the end of this one. I was so sick of waiting for them to begin to change their lives and attitudes. However, the relationship between Michelle’s PTSD healing and her adoption of an abused dog was beautiful. Wish the book had been simply about that.
Rating: 1/5 This should have been a friend book or a romance book. 364 pages was not enough for this author to do both… (less)
My biggest issue with this book is that Rory never got a swift kick in the balls. Emotionally or physically. He got off the hook too easily. All was f...moreMy biggest issue with this book is that Rory never got a swift kick in the balls. Emotionally or physically. He got off the hook too easily. All was forgiven without too much hassle. Almost like his mere presence was enough to soothe his past wrongs. As a reader it wasn’t enough for me. Apparently I’ve got more chutzpah than our beloved Erin O’Brien.
I will bow down to the fact that this plot is probably more realistic. Erin is obviously still in love with Rory, and to be honest the fact that he’s back does more to melt her than anything else. But it still doesn’t stop me from wishing for more. In real life fate rarely gives us the perfect words or situation for retribution. But isn’t that why I’m reading romance novels? People rarely have multiple-orgasmic sex with a professional athlete in the back of a Range Rover on a beautiful day in Ireland. Mostly because it’s constantly raining. If Martin can give me a sunny day in the Irish Isles she can give me a perfectly structured moment of understanding for Rory…Or at least one well tongued criticism that makes him see the light.
I liked Erin well enough. I thought that her issues with her mom were tidied up a bit quickly in the end. But ultimately I was simply bored by the book. It dragged.
Rating: 1/5 One egotistical Hockey Player plus One small town Irish Lass equals One bored reader…(less)