Tag: 3.5 stars

Book Review: Happy & You Know It by Laura Hankin

Happy & You Know It
Author:  Laura Hankin
Narrator: Laura Hankin
Published:  May 19, 2020
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: March 24-31, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars     

Book Description:

A dark, witty page-turner set around a group of wealthy mothers and the young musician who takes a job singing to their babies and finds herself pulled into their glamorous lives and dangerous secrets….

After her former band shot to superstardom without her, Claire reluctantly agrees to a gig as a playgroup musician for overprivileged infants on New York’s Park Avenue. Claire is surprised to discover that she is smitten with her new employers, a welcoming clique of wellness addicts with impossibly shiny hair, who whirl from juice cleanse to overpriced miracle vitamins to spin class with limitless energy.

There is perfect hostess Whitney who is on the brink of social-media stardom and just needs to find a way to keep her perfect life from falling apart. Caustically funny, recent stay-at-home mom Amara who is struggling to embrace her new identity. And old money, veteran mom Gwen who never misses an opportunity to dole out parenting advice. But as Claire grows closer to the cool women who pay her bills, she uncovers secrets and betrayals that no amount of activated charcoal can fix.

Filled with humor and shocking twists, Happy and You Know It is a brilliant take on motherhood—exposing it as yet another way for society to pass judgment on women—while also exploring the baffling magnetism of curated social-media lives that are designed to make us feel unworthy. But, ultimately, this dazzling novel celebrates the unlikely bonds that form, and the power that can be unlocked, when a group of very different women is thrown together when each is at her most vulnerable.

Jessica’s Review:

Can you imagine you are in a band right on the verge of superstardom and then you are kicked out? This is what happened to Claire. And now she is struggling to make a living and comes across this mommy group that needs a musician for the babies’ enrichment. Do these mommy groups actually exist and do they exist as they do in this novel?  Maybe in the rich, upper-class neighborhoods like this novel takes place in.   And not just a mommy group, but a paid musician to sing songs to the babies while the mommies gossip and drink?

I came across this one on my Libby app and decided to give it a shot. At about 50% in I was debating on DNF’ng (Did Not Finish) as I am not a mom and was identifying more with Claire the struggling single musician versus the mommy group.  I kept going and then at about 65% in the novel went in a direction I was not expecting, which did keep me listening.  My ‘favorite’ mom was Amara. 

The direction the novel goes in gives a different feel from the beginning of the novel and the moms are far from perfect themselves.  Life is not as happy as they make it seem at first to Claire. Now, I feel I can’t say more about the direction it goes in without giving spoilers, but if you pay attention to things going on, you might see what will come.

The author also narrated the novel, and I felt she did a good job with her narration. This might not be for everyone, but I can see some readers enjoying it more than others. I awarded it 3.5 stars, so it was just over a ‘good’ read for me.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Book Review: He Started It by Samantha Downing

He Started It
Author:
Samantha Downing

Published: July 21, 2020
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: December 19-29, 2020
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars

Book Description:

Beth, Portia, and Eddie Morgan haven’t all been together in years. And for very good reasons—we’ll get to those later. But when their wealthy grandfather dies and leaves a cryptic final message in his wake, the siblings and their respective partners must come together for a cross-country road trip to fulfill his final wish and—more importantly—secure their inheritance.

But time with your family can be tough. It is for everyone.

It’s even harder when you’re all keeping secrets and trying to forget a memory—a missing person, an act of revenge, the man in the black truck who won’t stop following your car—and especially when at least one of you is a killer and there’s a body in the trunk. Just to name a few reasons.

But money is a powerful motivator. It is for everyone.

Jessica’s Review:

I recently listened to Downing’s debut novel My Lovely Wife and absolutely loved it, so much that right after finishing it I picked up the audiobook of He Started It.  I also enjoyed this one.

This is the road trip that you don’t ever want to go on: Estranged siblings who have not seen each other in years must come back together to earn their inheritance by taking a return road trip that they took with their grandfather when they were younger, and also complete his final wish.

Everything is not as it seems as ALL the characters have many secrets, some deadly.  And it appears they have a stalker that is following them across the country…. Or is it a stalker???

He Started It goes back and forth between the past and present: The past is the road trip taken when they were kids, and the present with the repeat road trip.  None of the characters are likeable and this family was very dysfunctional in the past and even more so now.  The novel did drag some for me but then when it got to the ending, I was blown away and totally not expecting things to happen in the way that they did.  The ending did make the parts that dragged on worth it for me

This is one that I do recommend, but definitely read Downing’s debut!!! 

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Book Review: Super Fake Love Song by David Yoon

Super Fake Love Song
Author:
David Yoon

Published: November 17, 2020
349 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: November 18-26, 2020
Jessica’s Rating:  3.5 stars

Book Description:

When Sunny Dae—self-proclaimed total nerd—meets Cirrus Soh, he can’t believe how cool and confident she is. So when Cirrus mistakes Sunny’s older brother Gray’s bedroom—with its electric guitars and rock posters—for Sunny’s own, he sort of, kind of, accidentally winds up telling her he’s the front man of a rock band.

Before he knows it, Sunny is knee-deep in the lie: He ropes his best friends into his scheme, begging them to form a fake band with him, and starts wearing Gray’s rock-and-roll castoffs. But no way can he trick this amazing girl into thinking he’s cool, right? Just when Sunny is about to come clean, Cirrus asks to see them play sometime. Gulp.

Now there’s only one thing to do: Fake it till you make it.

Sunny goes all in on the lie, and pretty soon, the strangest things start happening. People are noticing him in the hallways, and he’s going to football games and parties for the first time. He’s feeling more confident in every aspect of his life, and especially with Cirrus, who’s started to become not just his dream girl but also the real deal. Sunny is falling in love. He’s having fun. He’s even becoming a rocker, for real.

But it’s only a matter of time before Sunny’s house of cards starts tumbling down. As his lies begin to catch up with him, Sunny Dae is forced to wonder whether it was all worth it—and if it’s possible to ever truly change.

Jessica’s Review:

Super Fake Love Song is a trope that has been done many times throughout the years- sometimes well done and sometimes not.  The trope is lying about who you are to impress a girl or boy. In this case we have a boy (Sunny Dae) lying about who he is (a total nerd versus being a musician) to a cute new girl (Cirrus).  They meet via their parents occupations and Sunny’s parents want him to show Cirrus around and learn her new town. 

I really liked that this novel took place for the boy’s point of view. We don’t see too much of YA from the boy’s perspective, so this was a welcome change for me.  Sunny and his friends are 1000% nerds: They play Dungeons and Dragons and LARP (Live Action Role Playing).  To me this is not really nerdy as cons (conventions) occur and ‘dressing up’ AKA cosplaying are becoming more mainstream now (though I am a bit of a nerd myself!)   But for high schoolers, I guess it is ‘nerdy’, poor Sunny is even bullied for who he is.

Cirrus is at Sunny’s house and mistakes Sunny’s brother’s room (who is not living at home and is also a rock star) for Sunny’s, and he does not correct her. This one moment puts the novel on the course it goes. Sunny eventually ropes his friends into forming a band and to perform at the upcoming talent show: All to impress Cirrus. 

Of course with this trope you know what is coming: there will be a failing moment and will the girl forgive the boy or not?  Even though you know what is coming, it is enjoyable and there is a bit of an unexpected ending.  There are also unexpected surprises dealing with the bully.

The romance is not the main focus of the novel, it is the boys and dealing with their friendship and ultimately learning to become who you will become.  You do have to disregard the lack of believability of the novel at how quickly the boys learn to play instruments and sing. For being a YA novel and from the boy’s perspective, it is a relatively ‘clean’ novel. Other than the few issues I had while reading, it is a fun and quick read that I enjoyed and recommend. 

Many thanks to the publisher G.P. Putnam’s Sons for granting me a copy via Bookish First. 

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

 

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