Author: Sophie Kinsella
To Be Published: Tomorrow, February 13, 2018
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: January 25, 2018- February 5, 2018
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars
After ten years together, Sylvie and Dan have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, and beautiful twin girls, and they communicate so seamlessly they finish each other’s sentences. They have a happy marriage and believe they know everything there is to know about each other. Until it’s casually mentioned to them that they could be together for another sixty-eight years . . . and panic sets in.
They decide to bring surprises into their marriage to keep it fresh and fun. But in their pursuit of Project Surprise Me—from unexpected gifts to restaurant dates to sexy photo shoots—mishaps arise, with disastrous and comical results. Gradually, surprises turn to shocking truths. And when a scandal from the past is uncovered, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other at all.
With a colorful cast of eccentric characters, razor-sharp observations, and her signature wit and charm, Sophie Kinsella presents a humorous yet moving portrait of a marriage—its intricacies, comforts, and complications. Surprise Me reveals that hidden layers in a close relationship are often yet to be discovered.
Sophie Kinsella is one of my ‘go to’ authors. In fact, her novel Can You Keep a Secret is the book that got me reading again. It was laugh out loud funny. So much so a coworker asked if she could borrow it. Many thanks to my aunt for giving it to me all those years ago!
I have enjoyed most of Kinsella’s books that I have read. If you want an entertaining chick lit read, she is an author I recommend. Sadly, Surprise Me will not be a favorite. Surprise Me starts out promising, but failed the mark with me. It starts out with our couple Sylvie and Dan(who have been married 10 years and have twin girls) finding out that they could live another 68 years together. Instead of joy and excitement that would be expected they have the opposite reaction: Panic.
They work on surprising each other in order to spice up the marriage. It becomes like a Bridget Jones or Becky Bloomwood type of novel with some hilarious results. Then here come secrets and the novel takes on a more serious unexpected direction. When I read a Kinsella novel I expect lighthearted fun, but this was not. In the end everything is fine and the message about marriage is clear. There is also light hearted humor again at the end, but the middle just doesn’t come across as a Kinsella novel. It is not her worst novel, but it is far from the best. I will keep reading Kinsella and hope her next one is better for me.
Thank you to the publisher for sending an e-arc via NetGalley for me to review.
Authors: Chip and Joanna Gaines
Published: October 18, 2016
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: November 5-8, 2017
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars
Book Description from Amazon:
Are you ready to see your fixer upper?
These famous words are now synonymous with the dynamic husband-and-wife team Chip and Joanna Gaines, stars of HGTV’s Fixer Upper. As this question fills the airwaves with anticipation, their legions of fans continue to multiply and ask a different series of questions, like—Who are these people? What’s the secret to their success? And is Chip actually that funny in real life? By renovating homes in Waco, Texas, and changing lives in such a winsome and engaging way, Chip and Joanna have become more than just the stars of Fixer Upper, they have become America’s new best friends.
The Magnolia Story is the first book from Chip and Joanna, offering their fans a detailed look at their life together. From the very first renovation project they ever tackled together, to the project that nearly cost them everything; from the childhood memories that shaped them, to the twists and turns that led them to the life they share on the farm today.
They both attended Baylor University in Waco. However, their paths did not cross until Chip checked his car into the local Firestone tire shop where Joanna worked behind the counter. Even back then Chip was a serial entrepreneur who, among other things, ran a lawn care company, sold fireworks, and flipped houses. Soon they were married and living in their first fixer upper. Four children and countless renovations later, Joanna garners the attention of a television producer who notices her work on a blog one day.
In The Magnolia Story fans will finally get to join the Gaines behind the scenes and discover:
- The time Chip ran to the grocery store and forgot to take their new, sleeping baby
- Joanna’s agonizing decision to close her dream business to focus on raising their children
- When Chip buys a houseboat, sight-unseen, and it turns out to be a leaky wreck
- Joanna’s breakthrough moment of discovering the secret to creating a beautiful home
- Harrowing stories of the financial ups and downs as an entrepreneurial couple
- Memories and photos from Chip and Jo’s wedding
- The significance of the word magnolia and why it permeates everything they do
- The way the couple pays the popularity of Fixer Upper forward, sharing the success with others, and bolstering the city of Waco along the way
And yet there is still one lingering question for fans of the show: Is Chip really that funny? “Oh yeah,” says Joanna. “He was, and still is, my first fixer upper.”
I will admit I knew almost nothing about Chip and Joanna Gaines before I listened to the audiobook of The Magnolia Story. I had only seen the show once while my car was being serviced about two years ago. All I knew is that they flipped houses and are Christians. I chose to listen to The Magnolia Story as I am waiting on another audiobook to arrive from the library. The Magnolia Story is a short narration of only five hours.
Both Chip and Joanna narrate, but Chip is the better narrator. To me it sounded like Joanna was reading a report in school that she had to write for class. If she had been the sole narrator I would not have finished the memoir. I did enjoy The Magnolia Story as I liked hearing how they met and their life together. Hearing about some of the financial difficulties they had and how God brought them through it helped me personally. Even though some of the difficulties were through their choices it helped me to hear about them and their faith. I am interested in watching their show. They could do wonders on my house. Hmmm…. Maybe Chip will buy it and Joanna will go along with it…. 😉
Both Chip and Joanna are far from perfect people. In fact no one is perfect, but Chip does seem very impulsive, almost recklessly. Buying houses without consulting Joanna and refusing to pay tickets to the point where your wife almost goes to jail after just having a baby!?!? They were fortunate that they were able to get the name on the tickets switched to Chip’s name. Then he says he had a pleasant experience in jail… What?!?
Chip definitely has some growing up to do. He left his infant child home alone… twice! Then he drove a four-wheeler with his infant. What!?!? I’ve never been around babies much, but even I know you don’t do those kinds of things!
For me, it was a good introduction to Chip and Joanna Gaines. I would like to see their show after listening to the audio book to see more of what they are about. The Magnolia Story is recommended. I would suggest reading the book versus listening to the audio due to the narration issues I had.