Here in the PNW, September marks the start of my favorite season. The trees become even more beautiful than usual, bursting with pops of bright autumnal colors. The weather is neither too hot, nor too cold. Everyone dons their light cozy sweaters, scarves, and boots. We happily clutch our favorite fall beverages, and bask in the last sun-dappled days before winter takes over. I appear to be stockpiling books, much like the squirrels burying nuts all over my yard in preparation for a long winter.
My to-be-read pile is taking over my bedroom. My husband has lodged a couple of politely-worded complaints. If you don’t hear from either of us, look for our bodies under the towers of books and clean laundry I keep neglecting to fold…
In an effort to reduce the, now threatening, stacks of books next to my bed, I pretty much inhaled four chic-lit books this week. If you need to shore up your reading reserves, you might want to add this short stack of romance to your tbr pile.
My Lady’s Choosing by Kitty Curran & Larissa Zageris
It’s a Regency-style choose-your-own-adventure. The reader plays the romantic heroine, presented with a scenario (and often a suitor), and then given a choice on what happens next. To give the simplest example, the end of a page might read:
“If you haven’t met Benedict yet, turn to page 232.
If you have met Benedict, turn to page 126.”
I’m not going to provide a plot synopsis beyond that, because there really isn’t much to discuss.
It was clear that the whole book was intended to come off with a tongue-and-cheek whimsy. I was not expecting it to be a book of any substance. Sadly, it was so insubstantial as to render me completely bored. I know it’s not the kind of book that strives for sophisticated plot or character development. However, it felt as though the writers were so hell-bent on jumping the readers through the book that they forgot to actually write a plot. All that was left to salvage the book were heavy-handed jokes and one-liners, which were bawdy but not particularly amusing.
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
The Courier newspaper has joined the computer generation, right before Y2K. Concerned with employees misusing their work computers and emails, they hire Lincoln to read through any flagged messages for inappropriate content. Lincoln is immediately drawn into the emails (and lives) of best friends and coworkers, Beth and Jennifer. Though he has never seen either of them, he is so entertained by their email conversations, that he can’t quite bring himself to report any of their flagged missives. Instead, he develops a crush on Beth, and in a happy turn of circumstances discovers that she may have noticed him, too.
This is the first book I’ve read by Rainbow Rowell. I’ve always been curious about her novels, but have never picked them up. Reading Attachments, I understand the popularity of her books. This novel is a tiny bit quirky, and exceedingly adorable. A whip-smart camaraderie shines through Beth and Jennifer’s email exchanges. They are the kind of friends we all want in our lives. Lincoln is shy and awkward and a little lost, but above all, he’s a salt-of-the-earth, upstanding guy. It’s a feel-good book full of likeable characters.
The ending was a little to silver-screen for me. It wrapped up in a highly romanticized, cinematic, way. Like, maybe Rainbow Rowell watched a few too many early John Cusack movies before writing the book (if there’s such a thing as “too many” early John Cusack movies). Forget I said anything. If my only complaint is that this book verges on “too adorable”, I should just shut up.
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
I think the entire book blogging world has read this book already. I’m actually a little hesitant to say much about it, because it’s been so widely reviewed that I suspect everything there is to say has been said. In case you haven’t read it though…
Crazy Rich Asians is the story of Rachel Chu and Nicholas Young. For two years, they have been happy and in love, living in New York. Things appear to be getting serious for the couple when Nick invites Rachel on a long summer vacation to his home in Singapore, to meet the family, and attend the wedding of one of his best friends. The only hiccup in this exciting trip, is that Nick has failed to mention his family’s extreme wealth and generational pedigree. Both Nick’s family, and Rachel herself, are unpleasantly surprised by the encounter, and it threatens to destroy the couple’s bliss.
This book is really unique. It is an earnest love story, and also a satirical look at Singapore’s upper crust. While the sincerity of the one style might seem at odds with the sarcastic wit of the other, it somehow works. I will even argue that the dual genres strengthen the rising conflict, because built into the very style of the book is an inherent tension – a feeling of two genres, two classes, two worlds, colliding. Despite the tension, the book is light and pretty hilarious. I particularly enjoyed the footnotes that were mostly included to translate Singaporean phrases, but occasionally reference the author’s personal life in humorous ways.
This book fits in the chick lit category, and transcends it. It’s fresh and unique; such a welcome addition to the chick lit genre. If you find yourself not getting into it right away, give it a little time. There are a lot of characters to introduce, but once you get to know them, this book is hard to put down. If you love it by the end, then you’ll be happy to know there is a second and third book to follow! Though, the first nicely concludes, and could stand alone without any subsequent books.
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
After a contentious merger of two publishing houses, Lucy and Joshua (executive assistants to the two CEO’s) sit across from each other in a cramped office space. With mutual loathing they commence a series of games and one-upsmanship. Eventually they end up competing for the same promotion. Of course, competition isn’t the only thing heating up between them…
Although this was by far the most stereotypical chick lit book of the lot, and definitely the most predictable, I enjoyed it the most. It was sheer entertainment; fun and delightfully steamy. It was a little unbelievable that Lucy didn’t pick up on the sexy vibes from Josh earlier on, but that didn’t stop me from thoroughly enjoying the story. I’m happy to see the author has another book out, which I plan to pick up on my next trip to the bookstore.