Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade

I used to be adamant about my distaste for Romance novels. I knew them as the Harlequin Romance novels my mom used to devour alongside Junior Mints on a quiet Sunday afternoon or the bodice rippers one of my friends used to have her nose buried in during high school lunches. I thought they were an inferior literary genre– simple, formulaic, and full of smut, which I did not want to read; in hindsight, I think that perspective was deeply rooted in internalized misogyny. Then a few years back, I read the Flat Share by Beth O’Leary, and my appreciation for Romance literature started to blossom. I’m still learning my preferences when it comes to the genre, so my experience is hit and miss, and unfortunately, my most recent venture into the genre with Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade was a big miss.

Continue reading Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

Years ago, I read Just Listen by Sarah Dessen, and what I remember most about it is how mediocre I thought the story was, and after reading through summaries of her other novels, largely formulaic:

  • Girl experiences some kind of hardship and withdraws from the world
  • Girl falls in with a new crowd
  • Girl meets a handsome teenage boy and starts to feel human again
  • Girl and boy have a misunderstanding and experience a falling out
  • Girl and boy makeup at the end and live happily ever after

So, considering my previous experience with this author, it’s strange that by the end of my first library visit in months, one of the books I borrowed was The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen. And even more surprising? I devoured the book in just a few sittings.

Continue reading The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison

Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison is so old that I remember seeing it at my elementary book fair…nearly twenty years ago. I also remember wanting to buy the book, but I was too embarrassed because the word “thong” was in the title, so I picked up something more prudent instead. It wouldn’t be for another two years before I had the courage to pluck Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal snogging from the shelf at a Barnes & Noble bookstore.

On the ride home, I read excerpts out loud to my mom about Georgia Nicholson dressing up as a green olive for a costume party followed by excerpts about Georgia accidentally shaving off one of her eyebrows, which made her look really surprised in one eye. My mom nearly had to pull the car over because she laughed so hard her eyes filled with tears.

During a recent library visit, I spied this book on a shelf, and I wondered if it was still as funny after all of these years. I’m not much of a reader, unless it’s Harry Potter, but I could resist. I brought this book home…and devoured it in one sitting.

Indeed, Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging is still hilarious, in the laugh-out-loud sort of way, after all of these years. It’s also entirely possible that Georgia Nicholson is one of my absolute favorite characters ever written. Okay, so she is sometimes selfish and a total snot to her friend, but she is also brave and vibrant, and she goes after what she wants (whether it’s Robbie the Sex God or Dave the Laugh or Masimo). Plus, Georgia has such a strong and memorable voice.

angus-thongs

After finishing the book, I immediately settled down to watch the movie adaptation on Netflix. If my memory serves me, the film is actually an adaptation of the first two novels in the Confessions of Georgia Nicholson series. It was such a fun little movie, and I just loafed on the couch wearing a cheesy grin and giggling. Although, Robbie was not how I pictured him. The movie version of Robbie the Sex God had such a feminine sounding voice, which was really weird.

Also, I don’t recall if I thought about this as a teenager, but I certainly did during my recent re-read– I was kind of disturbed by the relationship between Georgia and Robbie. In the book, Georgia is only 14 but Robbie is just about to turn 18, and I found that to be totally creepy. (The film closed the age gap, so it didn’t bother me as much.)

Have you ever read Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging? Have kids these days heard of this series? (I mean, I have to suspect that they have because my teeny tiny local library has the series…)


Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison

Released: June 1999
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Age Group: Young Adult

[goodreads | indiebound]

There are six things very wrong with my life:

1. I have one of those under-the-skin spots that will never come to a head but lurk in a red way for the next two years.

2. It is on my nose

3. I have a three-year-old sister who may have peed somewhere in my room.

4. In fourteen days the summer hols will be over and then it will be back to Stalag 14 and Oberfuhrer Frau Simpson and her bunch of sadistic teachers.

5. I am very ugly and need to go into an ugly home.

6. I went to a party dressed as a stuffed olive.
In this wildly funny journal of a year in the life of Georgia Nicolson, British author Louise Rennison has perfectly captured the soaring joys and bottomless angst of being a teenager. In the spirit of Bridget Jones’s Diary, this fresh, irreverent, and simply hilarious book will leave you laughing out loud. As Georgia would say, it’s “Fabbity fab fab!”

The Memory of Lemon by Judith Fertig

February is almost over, and I’ve only finished three books so far. Except for the Mermaids of Lake Michigan by Suzanne Kamata, which I devoured in two sittings, I find myself trudging through every book I pick up. Take for example the Memory of Lemon by Judith Fertig- it’s a relatively short book with 288 pages, but I spent nearly a month reading it. Don’t get me wrong. There were aspects of this book that were engaging and beautifully written. But, there were also aspects of this book that I felt disconnected from, and indifferent.

This book felt a little cozy

As in, if you added a thrilling murder and a pet cat, you’d have a cozy mystery novel. I suspect it was the introduction of the main character, Neely, who is in the process of divorcing her cavorting pro-football husband and starting fresh in her old hometown in southwest Ohio– a world away from posh NYC, which is where she lived prior. (What cozy mystery doesn’t start out with the main character arriving in a small town after leaving a husband or a long-time boyfriend?)

She has also recently opened her own bakery called Rainbow Cakes, so you better believe your tummy will be grumbling throughout. If you’re a foodie or a baker, I’m sure you’ll love reading about all of Neely’s delicious baked goods! Plus, Rainbow Cakes is the perfect setting to meet all of the locals, like rough-around-the-edges Jett, Neely’s bakery assistant, and the bashful professor, who has his heart set on Maggie, Neely’s emotionally guarded waitress.

I wasn’t sure if Neely’s gift was supernatural or synesthesia

My favorite aspect of this book is how Neely can connect emotions and memories to certain flavors. I thought she was a synesthetic at first, and perhaps she is. Still, her gift teeters on the edge of the supernatural because she can experience feelings and memories of her ancestors. Fertig’s writing springs to life every time Neely experiences the past, and readers are treated to rich imagery of life in the Ohio River Valley during the 1800s.

But…I’d rather read about Neely’s past than her present

The part of the novel I feel indifferent about is Neely’s present, specifically the conflicts she has to overcome in her love life. Unlike Neely’s baked goods, Neely is kind of a bland character, and I had a hard time connecting with her. As for the conflict…it had potential. Neely is trying to divorce her football star husband, who doesn’t seem quite ready to let her go despite his debaucherous behavior. She especially wants to expedite the process because she’s falling in love with one of her best friends. She has to be careful though because there is a clause in the prenuptial agreement that could mean financial ruin if it’s determined Neely is being unfaithful. Fertig lets this conflict simmer throughout the novel; I wanted the pot to come to a full boil, but Fertig removes it from the burner before it had a chance, and I was left feeling kind of let down.

That being said…the wedding Neely and her team are planning was totally my dream wedding!!!

Perhaps my timing was off

The Memory of Lemon by Judith Fertig teeters right on the edge of being a fluffy, contemporary novel, which is best devoured during a summer afternoon sitting on the back deck, soaking up the sun, not during the throes of winter while buried under blankets.


The Memory of Lemon by Judith Fertig

Released: June 2016
Genre: Contemporary
Age Group: Adult

[goodreads | indiebound]

A crisp tang of citrus that is at once poignant and familiar, sharpening the senses and opening the mind to possibilities once known and long forgotten…
 
Claire “Neely” Davis is no ordinary pastry chef. Her flavor combinations aren’t just a product of a well-honed palate: she can “taste” people’s emotions, sensing the ingredients that will touch her customers’ souls. Her gift has never failed her—until she meets a free-spirited bride-to-be and her overbearing society mother. The two are unable to agree on a single wedding detail, and their bickering leaves Neely’s intuition frustratingly silent—right when she needs it most.

Between trying to navigate a divorce, explore a new relationship, and handle the reappearance of her long-absent father, Neely is struggling to make sense of her own conflicting emotions, much less those of her hard-to-please bride. But as she embarks on a flavorful quest to craft the perfect wedding celebration, she’ll uncover a family history that sheds light on both the missing ingredients and her own problems—and illustrates how the sweet and sour in life often combine to make the most delicious memories…