Book chat: ‘Food Whore’ by Jessica Tom

Food WhoreTia Monroe knows food.

That passion is what propelled her into New York’s fashionable, dirty, complicated, cutthroat culinary world. A young critic and baker once featured in the New York Times, Tia now hopes to gain an internship with a famed foodie at work on her next cook book. . . until that opportunity crumbles like a days-old cookie.

Left starting in the coat check (!) at an upscale restaurant, Tia makes the acquaintance of Michael Saltz: the Times critic known for making and breaking the city’s top establishments. Michael giveth, and Michael taketh away — until a strange medical issue threatens to take everything away from him.

Rich, powerful and well-connected, Michael Saltz needs Tia’s perspective — and her palate — to uphold the lavish life to which he’s accustomed. And Tia? She’s wooed by the promise of Michael finally connecting her to the mentor she wanted in the first place. (The pricey meals, expense account and hot chefs are a bonus.)

But can she get out from Michael’s grasp without getting burned?

Jessica Tom’s Food Whore was fast-paced, light and entertaining — everything I love in good chick lit. Comparisons to a foodie version of The Devil Wears Prada are pretty spot-on, but I liked Tia’s persistence and willingness to step out to reach her goals.

Even if that meant getting stepped on.

As a narrator, Tia could be frustrating, though. She’s frequently gullible, though I can’t pretend I would know better. The plot line with her college sweetheart was a little irritating, given dude was as interesting as plain vanilla ice cream (let him go, lady), but I liked the push-and-pull Jessica Tom established in Tia’s conscience: settle for the old, or strive for the new?

Though Tia is our main squeeze, Michael Saltz — and his creepiness — seep between every crack in the story. He presents himself as Tia’s savior, a one-man ticket to a better life, but I had the sense he was all bluster from the beginning. We know his intentions aren’t romantic (he’s gay), but his obsession with Tia as the one remaining tether to his lifestyle and prestige is . . . unsettling, to say the least.

Food Whore moves quickly — so fast I finished it in a few days, which is a record for this new mama who rarely reads more than a few pages at a clip. It often kept me up past my bedtime, and I found myself thinking about Tia and her madcap adventures throughout the day.

Fans of women’s fiction, tantalizing food descriptions, New York settings and speedy reads will enjoy Food Whore. I really liked slipping into Tia’s stylish shoes for this adventure through New York’s culinary culture — and I would return in a heartbeat.

4 out of 5

Pub: 2015 • GoodreadsLibraryThingAmazonAuthor Website
Review copy provided for critical consideration

A tale of four audiobooks

Most of my reading these days is actually . . . listening.

If I hadn’t discovered audio books (with a helpful push from book bloggers) a few years back, I’m pretty sure my reading total for the year would be about, oh, five.

Wish I were joking.

Over the years, I’ve gone from someone casually aware of audiobooks as a form of recreation, entertainment and education to a listener who is never without one — or three — from the library. I now have favorite authors I will only ever “read” this way, including David Sedaris. (He’ll get his own post later on. I’m kind of obsessed.)

I know my book reviews have been pretty absent these last few months. To be honest, my focus has been off lately. Between the lingering exhaustion inherent with having an infant (even one who sleeps through the night) and the fact that I can never stay up past 9 p.m., very little holds my attention these days.

I’m trying to fix that — and have been making progress. As I type, I’m nearing the end of Natalie Meg Evan’s The Milliner’s Secret and will be desperate to talk about it with someone soon. It’s easily the most engrossing story I’ve read in ages: historical fiction done right and extremely well. It has everything: a strong heroine who cobbles together a new life in Paris; a salacious, forbidden love affair between two people who really shouldn’t be together, yet are magnetized to one another; the dramatic, tragic backdrop of Nazi-occupied France.

But, you know, this isn’t about The Milliner’s Secret. We’ll return another day.

This? This is about audiobooks. Between my triangle trips to day care, work, home and back again, I average an hour in the car each day. Plenty of time to get through an audiobook every week or so.

Here’s what I’ve had cranked up lately:


Beautiful DayBeautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand
Published in 2013; 3/5 stars

Knowing she won’t be able to see her daughter get married, Beth leaves behind “The Notebook”: her guide to how she envisions her youngest child’s wedding day, right down to the menu and napkins. Jenna chooses to follow her mother’s wishes to the letter — right down to the menu, napkins and tent suggestions. It’s the least she can do, she thinks.

As her extended family descends on the family estate on Nantucket, the Grahams and Carmichaels must find a way to get along as new details about their own relationships come to light. Will everything come together to form the perfect day Beth imagined for Jenna?

Filled with enough characters to fill a train car, Beautiful Day would have been a simple, pleasant enough read if I’d been able to keep track of who all these people were. We have two large families — the bride’s and the groom’s — with a trunk full of issues each.

While it was entertaining, I was lost in the midst of this ensemble and unable to connect to anyone in particular. Jenna was pretty annoying, honestly. Beth’s words in The Notebook open each chapter, and I eventually found the extremely specific details to be grating. It just all felt . . . very melodramatic. I mean, we’re talking about a posthumous wedding guide, though, so I guess that’s to be expected?

Regardless, I enjoyed Hilderbrand’s easy-breezy setting and writing style — nothing too taxing; easy listening for my drives. My lukewarm reception to this one didn’t stop me from picking up another novel. In fact . . .


Winter StrollWinter Stroll by Elin Hilderbrand
Published in 2015; 3/5 stars

Christmas with a side of major baggage.

It’s December in Nantucket, and the Quinn family has gathered for the annual Christmas Stroll on the island. Patriarch Kelley Quinn was recently left by his wife, Mitzi, as the pair struggle with the disappearance of their Marine son in the Middle East. Kelley’s first wife, Margaret, returns with her doctor boyfriend as their children, spouses, grandchildren and extended clan arrive to celebrate the baptism of the first Quinn granddaughter.

There’s Ava and Scott, Patrick and Jennifer, Isabelle and Kevin and Genevieve. Then we have Margaret, Drake, Bart, Norah and the Quinn grandsons, most of whom are misbehaving.

Sense a pattern here?

Like Hilderbrand’s Beautiful Day, I struggled to find my footing with this large and complicated family — but enjoyed Winter Stroll for its holiday setting and more-than-meets-the-eye subplot for several characters (the perfect mom addicted to painkillers; the not-so-evil first wife who is a famous news anchor). Some of the storylines worked better than others, like Kelley and Mitzi’s attempts at reconnection over Ava’s bizarre, flat “love triangle” with two cardboard cut-out dudes.

Though no one felt fully-formed to me, fleshed out and messy and real, I found Winter Stroll to be a nice diversion getting closer to the holidays myself. This is the second book in a series, but I read it as a stand-alone. The extremely abrupt ending is an obvious precursor to another installment . . . and I would have liked more resolution. That was a downer.


We Were LiarsWe Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Published in 2014; 3.5/5 stars

Spoiled teens behaving badly. We’ve read this story before — but definitely not like this.

This novel came to my attention last year when everyone was freaking out about it, but it somehow slipped from my radar again until recently. Other readers (correctly!) point out that it’s best not to know much about the plot going in, so perhaps this will suffice: a rich extended family converges on their private island off Cape Cod each summer, the teen cousins growing up together as their mothers squabble with their aging grandfather over how best to spend his fortune.

Caught up in her parents’ divorce, narrator Cady misses two summers after an accident on the island leaves her battling horrible migraines, memory lapses and anger issues. When she returns, she finds that much has changed with her family. Will she learn the truth about Summer 15 . . . and what happens when she does?

Cady is a tough character to bond with or really know — but that’s not really the point, is it? After finishing We Were Liars, I did a lot of thinking about whether it’s necessary to like a story’s characters to appreciate the book. No, I decided — but it helps.

“Appreciate” is a good word to use here. I appreciated this story, but did not necessarily like it. Mirren, Johnny and Cady were privileged, entitled and foolhardy, and the only character I really felt sorry for was Gat. A family friend who doesn’t hail from the WASP-y Sinclairs, Gat is caught up in their infighting and skepticism of outsiders when all he wants is to belong.

Did it shock me? Yes . . . and no. I didn’t completely see the twist coming, but I saw shades of it that got my wheels turning earlier on. Once finished, I considered returning to the beginning armed with my new knowledge to piece it all together again.

It is smart, suspenseful, ominous and interesting — but in the end, my dislike of the Liars themselves kept me from loving this one. It is unique, however. Lockhart’s sparse, moody writing made We Were Liars very memorable. Plus, as a lover of the Bard? I was all about the allusions to Shakespeare’s King Lear. Quite cool.


LandlineLandline by Rainbow Rowell
Published in 2014; 4/5 stars

This is it: Georgie McCool’s big break. The opportunity for the TV show she’s been working on with Seth, her longtime friend and writing partner, for decades. But it comes with a cost . . . missing Christmas in Omaha with Neal, her college sweetheart, and their two daughters.

Neal doesn’t understand how Georgie could choose to stay alone in Los Angeles rather than travel for Christmas, proving — once again — that she isn’t as invested in their family as she should be. Once a brooding cartoonist who won Georgie over by essentially telling her that he disliked her less than everyone else in the world (um, swoon?), Neal has changed. Their partnership has floundered under the pressures of parenting young children, battling finances, Georgie’s long hours. Normal life, basically.

When Neal and the girls depart on ugly terms, Georgie retreats to her eccentric mother’s house to nurse her wounds between her writing shifts with Seth. It’s there that she finds an old analog phone — a landline — and connects to Neal in Omaha. But it’s not her Neal — stay-at-home dad Neal; discontent and angry Neal — but the young, idealistic college student Georgie fell in love with decades before.

With this portal to the past, Georgie realizes she’s “found” her husband when he was still a sort-of-ex-boyfriend — a few days before Christmas in the ‘90s when he took a fateful trip to Nebraska and returned, quite unexpectedly, with an engagement ring.

Does Georgie have a chance to right her wrongs . . . and does she want to? Is it too late to fix what somehow became quite broken?

Rainbow Rowell is such a talented, perceptive and engaging writer, and Landline was a treat. Rowell even makes reading extremely long phone exchanges — normally a reader pet-peeve of mine — pleasurable. I totally loved Georgie McCool.

Though this story doesn’t have the swoon factor of the other Rowell novels I’ve read, I thought her observations on long-term relationships and parenting were superb. The unexpected highlight of the book for me was the dynamic between Georgie and her 18-year-old sister, who happens to be wiser than most of the adults in her life put together.

Also? Landline’s audio narrator, Rebecca Lowman, was awesome. I have a reader crush on her and will be desperately seeking whatever she lends her dulcet vocals to from now on.


Book chat: ‘Why Not Me?’ by Mindy Kaling

Why Not MeActress and writer Mindy Kaling is my vision of a talented Everywoman.

Confident but approachable, warm and vivacious, Mindy is someone I aspire to be more like. I love her sass, her wit, her style . . . and also love that she “doesn’t look like most women on TV,” a statement Mindy herself ponders in Why Not Me?, her second memoir.

I went into this book hoping the Mindy I know and love — wise, funny, a little quirky — would shine through, and she absolutely does. Her memoir is a collection of short stories about many topics, including her days on “The Office”; the hard work and long hours behind “The Mindy Project,” her (awesome) TV show recently picked up by Hulu; and many anecdotes about friendship, college, growing up, looking for love, self-confidence and more.

Though the only uniting thread seems to be Mindy’s insistence that we should be ourselves regardless of what anyone thinks and work hard for what we want, that was enough. That totally worked for me. This 240-page book left me feeling motivated and renewed, like I’d just had a cleansing cryfest with an old friend.

Plus? It’s funny, but in a warmhearted way. Mindy is hilarious. I especially appreciated that, while she is grateful women see her as a realistic role model, she’s not afraid to admit that, at times, she does wish she were thinner, bolder, more confident or [insert societal standard or adjective here]. That vulnerability is appealing — and also comforting. It’s more than okay to love and accept ourselves while still striving to improve.

If you’re a fan of Kaling, Why Not Me? is a book you’ll likely savor. Having not read her first book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) (I know: way behind), I can’t compare the two — but this short, easily digestible and enjoyable series of stories definitely feels like you’ve invited Mindy over to give you advice on being a bad boss lady while she still owns up to some of her foibles. I totally dug it.


4 out of 5

Pub: 2015 • GoodreadsLibraryThingAmazonAuthor Website
Copy borrowed from my local library


Book chat: ‘The Martian’ by Andy Weir

The MartianI must be broken.

While everyone and their book-loving great aunt has been raving about Andy Weir’s The Martian (seriously: look at all these five-star reviews), I was over here listening to the story on audio and trying not to fall asleep on the road.

The story centers on astronaut Mark Watney, a botanist stranded on Mars after his colleagues believe he has been killed during a powerful dust storm. They reluctantly depart to save themselves, but no one feels good about it. No man — or woman -– left behind.

After he comes-to in the barren red landscape light years from home, Mark must take stock of his limited resources and find a way to communicate with Earth. He uses his wits, experience and sense of humor to stay alive and fed as NASA scrambles to save him — with the eyes of the world watching.

The premise was definitely intriguing, especially given how obsessed I was with last year’s “Interstellar” and my general love of outer space. Fun fact? Neil deGrasse Tyson’s “Cosmos” defined my early marriage. Spencer and I never missed an episode, often settling down on busy weeknights to re-watch ones we’d already seen. I was all about it.

I married a scientist, so my interest in science-y stuff does come in handy . . . but, you know, I was an English major. Despite my love of the subject, I don’t know much about space — or survival.

Maybe that’s partially what hurt me here?

Along with high expectations, of course. The Martian is everywhere right now, with a high-profile film starring Matt Damon due to release this fall. Everyone I know who has hunkered down with this fast-paced tale has loved it, so I assumed I would love it, too.

But I didn’t. It was . . . missing something. Though initially hard to pin down, I’ll describe it as a lack of emotional investment. As a narrator, Mark is funny, compelling, smart and sarcastic — definitely a great character. I liked him. I felt for him. But did I ever truly worry for his fate? Not so much.

Buddy Trish recently commented that she believes it will make a better movie than book, and I agree. The trailer definitely got me hyped up. All the extremely science-y science may better translate on film. As it stood? I didn’t have the attention span necessary to follow the intricate plan for Mark’s survival, totally zoning out as he described the math needed to ensure he could grow enough potatoes to survive until possible salvation.

And that was just the beginning.

Though I wasn’t emotionally invested in the outcome, I definitely appreciate Weir’s writing. He builds suspense — will he make it, or won’t he? — and deftly brings hostile, lonely Mars to life. Between its storms and desolate landscape, it’s not exactly a place conducive to life. Yet Mark’s ingenuity allows him to tame the red planet, finding a way to subsist despite all reasoning saying he shouldn’t be able to.

Also, it’s fun to see under “settings” in the middle of my 2015 reading log spreadsheet:

New York City, New York, USA
Nantucket, Massachusetts, USA
MARS

The audio narration by R. C. Bray was fantastic. If you’re toying between reading the story or listening to it, I heartily recommend the latter. Bray perfectly nailed the tone of the story and seamlessly shifted between characters, with his portrayal of Mark being the definite highlight.

Though The Martian won’t go down as an all-time favorite, I’m happy I read it — and was impressed to learn that Weir’s science is sound. Plus, it was originally self-published . . . and as a writer, that earns an extremely impressed thumbs-up.


3 out of 5

Pub: 2011 • GoodreadsLibraryThingAmazonAuthor Website
Audio book borrowed from my local library


Book chat: ‘Who Do You Love’ by Jennifer Weiner

Who Do You LoveRachel Blum is an 8-year-old heart patient when she first meets Andy Landis at a Florida hospital. Andy arrives alone with a broken arm, capturing Rachel’s attention in the emergency room. She’s searching for a good story to tell an ill friend up on their regular floor, and she finds that — and more — in Andy.

Fast-forwarding nearly a decade, Rachel and Andy meet randomly while volunteering as teens and strike up a summer romance. Though together only a short time, they immediately bond despite their different circumstances. While Rachel grows up in Florida being doted upon in an affluent Jewish family, Andy is a biracial teen being raised by a hardworking, tough-to-please single mother in Philadelphia.

Andy’s solace — his salvation, really — comes through running. At the encouragement of a beloved neighbor and mentor, he survives his rough teen years with an end goal in mind: getting to — and winning at — the Olympics. As Rachel goes to college and pledges an exclusive sorority, Andy devotes his life to becoming a world-class runner.

As time and distance both separate and reunite them, the pair must decide what truly matters in life . . . and if they’re willing to go after it.

Jennifer Weiner’s Who Do You Love is a comfortable, fairly predictable read following two young lovers over the course of three decades. Their chance meeting at a hospital sets them up for a lifetime of serendipitous encounters, only some of which seemed realistic. It’s really a story about first love.

Before I get into the nitty-gritty, I feel the need to extol my love for Jennifer. She creates characters that make you feel, and her stories always suck me in with their casts of relatable — if occasionally frustrating — characters. She has a powerful ability to tap into the inner lives of women, and I greatly admire her ability to produce novels that really stick with you.

So why didn’t this one work for me?

It comes down to narrative voice. Rachel’s sections are told in first-person, allowing us to really get to know her, while Andy’s are third-person omniscient. While I could begin bonding with Rachel, I always felt removed from Andy . . . physically and mentally. His sections lacked soul. I felt as if we were going through the motions — all tell, no show — and couldn’t get excited about his victories nor mourn his failures. I wanted to, but there was just something . . . missing. The only time I really felt anything? When he’s interacting with Mr. Sills, a neighbor who takes Andy under his wing.

While I enjoyed seeing the interesting ways in which Rachel and Andy’s lives intersect, I found Rachel to be a pretty uninspiring heroine. We’re introduced to her as a young girl struggling to get out from under her parents’ anxious gazes, and I thought there was real potential there. Instead, Rachel spends much of the story projecting herself as a whiny sorority girl who doesn’t feel good enough for the Famous Andy Landis. And that got old.

Who Do You Love is not a bad story, but it’s not Weiner at her best. This was a different sort of novel for her: no elaborate cast of female characters; no exploration of friendships or sisterhood. We do get her trademark family dynamics, but it wasn’t enough to save the plot for me. I liked that she was trying something new, but I probably would have enjoyed this story more if it had been told exclusively from Rachel’s point of view. It lacked . . . sparkle. Pizzazz. Not heart, exactly, but warmth.

Will I come back to Jennifer? Absolutely. But if you’re new to her work, I would recommend Good In Bed or All Fall Down instead.


3 out of 5

Pub: 2015 • GoodreadsLibraryThingAmazonAuthor Website
Complimentary copy provided by publisher for review consideration


Book thoughts: Memoirs from Lena Dunham & Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler and Lena Dunham

I spend a great deal of time in the car these days. With the addition of driving to Oliver’s day care each weekday, I’m commuting at least 40 minutes daily — so I can plow my way through an audiobook or two a week.

Which is awesome, actually . . . given I’ve had so little energy to read physical stories since Ollie came home. I’m often determined to settle down with Jennifer Weiner or Meg Cabot before bed, thinking that tonight is the night I’m going to finally read for goodness’ sake, but something comes up.

Or, more accurately, the eyelids come down.

Through plenty of trial and error, I’ve come to realize that my favorite audiobooks are memoirs — particularly when read by the author. I’ve checked out all sorts of non-fiction I wouldn’t normally read in print, but adored them as audios.

But I didn’t need any convincing to read Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl and Amy Poehler’s Yes Please. They arrived on hold for me at the library at the same time, and I didn’t have the heart to leave either lady there. Good thing I didn’t, either; I’d finished both in three weeks, a new record, and desperately missed them both when their stories were done.

So. Lena.

Dunham, a 29-year-old New Yorker, is a polarizing figure. Known for being the creator, writer, director, producer and star of HBO’s “Girls,” Lena has no problem putting it all out there — literally and figuratively. Some declare her the voice of our generation; others label her a self-important drama queen. I happen to be in the former category, and I’ve watched “Girls” for years. The show isn’t perfect, but it’s thoughtful and entertaining. Lena’s Hannah is messed up and whacky and self-absorbed, but she’s refreshingly realistic in her obsession with writing and love. I relate to her. Not all of her, but enough.

In reality, Lena is not Hannah . . . but, in some ways, she is. Not that Kind of Girl is Lena’s life-story-in-vignettes with tales of her awkward adolescence, search for acceptance, demanding of respect and growth. There are some squicky moments, yes, and it’s not for me to debate the level of their squickiness. But I think Lena is mostly guilty of oversharing. (Can you overshare in a memoir? Probably.)

Look: Lena can be brash. She’s controversial. She’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s okay. From a feminist standpoint, I appreciate hearing her voice above the din and look up to her for all that she’s accomplished before 30.

Her memoir is quick, pithy, easy on the ears and often very funny. There are some deeper, disturbing moments, but it’s not a depressing story. If I’m honest, I’d normally be super jealous of an under-30 talented takes-no-prisoners writer lady who is actually younger than me, but really? I’m just kind of proud of her. In a big sister kind of way.

And then we have Amy Poehler, who’s Yes Please was the perfect companion to my morning drives. Like pretty much everyone in America, I was introduced to Amy through “Saturday Night Live” and was a mega-huge fan of the often-underappreciated “Parks & Recreation,” which I watched religiously with my dad. Leslie Knope is it.

Poehler’s memoir is part motivational speech, part biography, part behind-the-scenes glimpse at the shows and people who helped boost her to monumental success over the years — and I really enjoyed all of it. Like Lena, Amy comes across as a down-to-earth but badass lady who has me totally rethinking what it means to be deemed “bossy.”

Bossy women get stuff done.

Amy is like your cool aunt who admits to recreational drug use while still cautioning you against it, and comes across as deeply knowledgeable about life because she’s probably “been there.” Growing up in Massachusetts, Amy later moves to Chicago to begin working in improv and eventually marries and divorces Will Arnett, has two sons, achieves great success on “SNL” and “Parks & Rec” and then, when it’s over, must find what’s next again.

She sounds like an amazing friend, colleague, daughter and mom, and you get a sense of all those roles while listening to Yes Please. I loved her stories of and take on working toward success — and it doesn’t have anything to do with it happening overnight. Overall, her memoir was equal parts funny and empowering: a perfect recipe.

Both Lena and Amy narrate their own books, as you’d hope and expect. Each does a wonderful job. These women are storytellers, and these are their stories. Who else could possibly tell them?

By the time I’d finished both audios, I felt like I’d just sent a new friend off on a long vacation with no way to get in touch. Amy and Lena have both further endeared themselves to me, and I’d definitely recommend their stories to anyone who wants to think about life, snort into their commuter-friendly coffee mug and feel good about the road ahead.

Four stars, both of ’em!

Not That Kind of Girl / Pub: 2014 / 265 pages
Yes Please / Pub: 2014 / 329 pages


Book chat: ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’ by Jenny Han

To All the Boys I've Loved BeforeIt’s been too long since I sank into some solid young adult fiction. And with my limited attention span these days? Well, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before really hit the spot.

The middle of three daughters, Lara Jean Song is used to hovering behind her successful older sister — often feeling a bit adrift behind Margot’s perfection. But with her sister heading off to college abroad (and breaking off her relationship with Josh, once Lara Jean’s own crush), this Song girl is ready to shine.

Maybe.

When a secret box of Lara Jean’s letters disappears, she is suddenly forced to confront her crushes — past and present — as her notes land in mailboxes around town. Lara Jean has always taken to letter-writing as a way to release her feelings for the boys she has loved: her first kiss, her summer camp love . . . even Josh, her sister’s ex-boyfriend.

As her crushes receive her notes and press her on her feelings, Lara Jean is forced to own up to her emotions — even as a faux-relationship with Peter, a popular boy on the rebound, begins to actually blossom. On the home front, Lara Jean is charged with caring for Kitty, her sassy younger sister, as well as her warmhearted but busy, bumbling father.

Though she’s initially mortified by the letters, are they actually the key to moving forward?

Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a sweet story with plenty of family dynamics, high school loves and entertaining escapades to delight its audience. Though it’s described as the tale of Lara Jean confronting her crushes, it’s also about family and self-acceptance.

Have you ever written a letter you never intended to send? As a teen, I frequently drafted notes to crushes and ex-boyfriends as a way to “get out” whatever angsty, complicated, 16-year-old drama I had stored up without fear of embarrassment or reproach. In fact, I had a floppy disk (a floppy disk! You too will get old someday, kids) full of such missives.

Had someone found my super-private collection of letters to the adorable guy in my math class or my first kiss or first love and actually sent them, I’m pretty sure you would have had to pry me out the dark cave I would have made my new home. But Lara Jean? She’s a pretty resilient, courageous cat. As a narrator, she’s entertaining and matter-of-fact — the sort of person who doesn’t realize she’s funny, which is the best kind.

Though I enjoyed Lara Jean’s burgeoning friendship/relationship with Peter, the charming boy-about-town, the real highlight here was the Song sisters’ dynamic. Especially tight-knit since their mother’s death, I found their closeness heartwarming and realistic. I loved that Lara Jean appreciated Margot even more after she was off in Scotland, and young Kitty is a wise-beyond-her-years and fun character pivotal to the story.

A breezy and enjoyable novel, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before demands little of readers except their rapt attention . . . which you’ll happily hand over. Sometimes that’s exactly what we need!


4 out of 5

Pub: 2015 • GoodreadsLibraryThingAmazonAuthor Website
Personal copy purchased by Meg