Most times when I am trying to decide what books to read next, I just choose random books on my TBR Kindle pile, and just start to read. Sometimes the words just click, and sometimes they don’t, depending on my mood. Catherine Rider’s ‘Kiss Me In New York’ got me hooked right away, so I decided to keep on reading. About a couple of pages in, I realized that this book was a Christmas-themed novel, and geez, did I really want to read a Holiday themed book this early? Well, there’s no turning back now, I told myself.
At first, I thought the premise didn’t quite work, in a practical sense. A girl get stranded in New York City on Christmas Eve, so she decides to spend it in the city with a young boy she just met. They are both suffering from broken hearts – they both just ended relationships, so they traipse around NYC. I was going to swallow everything and believe – until I can’t. And about halfway through the book, I lost interest in them because the practical Virgo in me just couldn’t take the impossibilities of the situations they are getting into. I ended up really disliking this book and not caring about what happened to the characters. Yes, Bah Hambug,
Bill Konigsberg’s ‘Openly Honestly’ is a novella that is meant to bridge the gap between his novels ‘Openly Straight,’ and ‘Honestly Ben.’ This short piece is told from Ben’s point of view around the time he went home for Holiday break after realizing he has feelings for Rafe. In here he questions his feelings, compounded by a scene where he sees his ex-girlfriend. I think at times that is the pivotal point when he realizes the enormity of his feelings. This was just fine – and I know this was just meant to satiate the thirst for those people waiting for the sequel.
Maybe because I was in New York during 9/11, I still have mixed feelings whenever I encounter stories related to that day. Kim Hopper’s ‘People Who Knew Me’ uses that fateful day as the springboard for Emily’s story, the narrator for the book. When we first meet her, she is escaping her old life in New York, and traveling to the West Coast to reboot her life as a new person – Connie. And she is able to do that successfully, surviving fourteen years without getting ‘caught,’ until she gets diagnosed with breast cancer, and has to deal with the past she left behind, when she has to put her affairs in order.
I loved the book, and felt sympathy for Emily/Connie, even though we see her as a very complicated – even at times unlikable – character. But aren’t we all that most of the time? I was so engrossed reading that this was even one of those instances where I wanted to see what happens to their characters even after the book ended. I had one sleepless night where i just stayed with the book, staying with it until I couldn’t bear anymore, and had to sleep. I totally recommend this book – these characters will get to you and get under your skin. And they will stay with you,
Laura Dave’s ‘Hello Sunshine’ started put promising: Sunshine, one of those YouTube sensation cooks, is on the verge of getting her own Food Network show when she gets outed as a fraud – all her recipes aren’t really hers, they are the creations of her manager’s wife. She loses everything on her birthday, even her husband of fourteen years. So what is she to do? I was on-board for what happens next.
Unfortunately, the next couple of twists and turns weren’t really believable to me. She goes back to Montauk, where she grew up, and starts living with her sister and her niece, and she starts working at a restaurant there – did we even know that she had wanted to study cooking? A lot of things happen at a small amount of time that nothing seemed plausible. Dave is a great writer that she almost pulls it off – there’s a warmth to how she fleshes out these characters. I wonder if there is a longer book somewhere hidden here? Perhaps her editor cut chunks out? A lot of here seems hastily done, as if we were all reading just a draft.
Halfway through the book, I told myself why does this book sound familiar? So I checked Goodreads and found out that Beth Kendrick’s ‘New Uses For Old Boyfriends’ is a the second in the ‘Black Dog Bay series, and yes, I did read the first one, even though the characters there are unrelated to the ones here. There was just something in here that struck me as very familiar, and apparently it’s the town and tone of the book – probably Kendrick’s style.
Otherwise, this is a by-the-numbers chick lit read about a woman starting over after a divorce, coming back to her mother’s house, and reuniting with ex boyfriends. You don’t need to really figure things out, they happen as you expect them to. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as I said earlier, the familiarity is welcome, like cuddling a well-worn warm blanket by the fire. I enjoyed this book for what it is, without lofty expectations, and that’s just fine with me.
Here I am, eleven p.m., past my bedtime writing about Michael Ausiello’s ‘Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies.’ It is the book that has gotten me off my months-long reading rut. It is his memoir of his relationship with his husband Kit, and how he cared for him after he was diagnosed with cancer. It is touching, heartbreaking, all the sad adjectives ending in -ing. And the own caretaker in me is wondering, at this very second, if he is alright. My father passed away a couple of months before his husband, and I was also his caregiver. Sometimes I wish someone would ask me if I were okay.
There were tons of times the book felt familiar – the doctor’s visits when you hope against hope that everything would be alright, the times when a doctor would tell you what you didn’t want to hear. Even the moment your loved one passes always seems so familiar it always feels like it was just yesterday. Ausiello writes these details accurately, but more importantly, he details emotions as perfectly. If you have ever experienced loss, this book will slay you – perhaps even in the best possible ways.
Since I was in the mood for something fun and frothy (and quick) I started reading ‘According To A Source,’ by Abby Stern. It’s about Ella, who works for a gossip magazine, as kind of a celebrity spy who goes to all their club party haunts and reports about what happens to these celebrities. The set up was kind of confusing (for me) but I bought into it. Then there is a shakeup at the magazine and she gets a new lady boss who makes them earn points for each scoop, making the job more stressful for Ella. (But I thought they were working freelance?) About halfway through, I was starting to really tire of the characters, and to add to this, there is a mom-has-cancer storyline that I was kind of not in the mood for (didn’t I just finish a similar book?)
The latter half is better, and more uplifting, though, and it brought me back into the story, and ended with an unexpected big beating heart. So can I say that this is a good half-a-book’s worth?