“Where We Belong” by Emily Giffin

http://www.emilygiffin.com

I have been waiting forever to read the fabulous Emily Giffin’s new release, Where We Belong. I bought it on my Kindle the day it came out, but had to finish reading Good in Bed, Bet Me, and Fifty Shades Freed before I could start. Well, I never finished FSF and I don’t think I ever will. So I abandoned that one and decided to jump right into what unsurprisingly turned out to be yet another Giffin classic.

I have the utmost respect for Emily Giffin and she is arguably one of my favorite authors, if not #1. I’ve read all of her books and enjoyed each one, and Where We Belong was no different. However, while I liked it, I am a little hesitant to say that I loved it. Don’t get me wrong, there wasn’t exactly anything wrong with it, I just was not as impacted by this book as I have Giffin’s previous works. It is for sure a typical Giffin book, with all of her usual factors:  questioning one’s purpose in life, vacillating between love and happiness, and plenty of internal struggles. But for some reason I felt that this time as a reader I was only able to scratch the surface of the two main characters and was not fully immersed into their lives and stories as I have been in her novels before.

Where We Belong alternates viewpoints between Marian, 36-year old successful television producer who for nearly two decades has kept her teen pregnancy and baby she gave up for adoption a secret from everyone, and Kirby, her 18-year old biological daughter who is searching for answers about where she came from, and why she is the way she is. The story starts out with Kirby literally just showing up on Marian’s doorstep in New York City, and unraveling a series of lies and secrets of a past that Marian has tried desperately to forget. We are journeyed back and forth between Kirby’s teenage angst and apathy about her suburban life in St. Louis, and Marian’s metropolitan desire to keep up appearances and perfect her ideal life that she has always planned. Neither are ready for the impact that meeting each other will have on their lives, especially when Kirby begins to ask questions about her biological father. This curiosity brings up a past that Marian is not prepared to deal with, and leaves both women wondering desperately about what could have been.

I finished this book in about three days, but it wasn’t because I was dying to know the ending and just couldn’t put it down. It was more because I found it an enjoyable, easy read, without challenging me too much or getting under my skin. Perhaps it was just because it was too difficult for me to relate to either character, never being in a circumstance anywhere near theirs before. I actually always have trouble reading and relating to books about parenthood or children anyways and maybe this is just that problem surfacing with a different twist.

If you are a Giffin fan, I’d encourage you to, by all means, still look forward to reading Where We Belong¸ but please be wary and do not go into it expecting a Something Borrowed or Love the One You’re With.

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“Bet Me” by Jennifer Crusie

http://www.jennycrusie.com

I remember renting one of Jennifer Crusie’s novels from the library a few years back but never got around to reading it. That was during my college years, so other very important things like homework and studying (more like block parties and naps) likely got in the way. But after reading some of my previous blog posts, a coworker of mine said that I just have to check out her favorite author, Jennifer Crusie, and let me borrow two of her books. I just finished the first one, Bet Me, and I was impressed. A little lighter and more on the comedic romance side then my normal reads, Bet Me was a fun trip through a modern day fairy tale all wrapped up nice and tidy with a happy ending.

Bet Me is about the ups and downs of the relationship (rather, non-relationship) between Min and Cal. The story opens in the local hangout spot where overweight and under-confident Min Dobbs is heartbroken after being dumped by her boyfriend David for not giving it up soon enough. Meanwhile, gorgeous Cal Morrissey is across the bar coincidentally chatting with David, who bets him $10,000 that he can’t Min into bed within a month. Although Cal declines his offer, his best friend Tony insists it is a deal, and Min overhears the whole conversation, after coming over to talk to David. So she agrees to a dinner date with Cal, just to spite them both. Little does she know the can of worms she has opened up with Cal Morrissey.

During dinner Min and Cal both decide they cannot stand each other and neither plans on seeing the other again, until a series of random events keeps bringing them back together. Quickly Min and Cal find that they cannot deny their mutual attraction, but swear to each other that they will keep their feelings in a friend-zone only. But fate has another plan in store for the couple and the two cannot seem to get away from each other, no matter how hard they try.

Crusie’s writing is absolutely hilarious. She had me laughing through the entire book. There are plenty of ironic situations that Min and Cal find themselves in which Crusie writes with such humor. Cal and Min are also surrounded by a great supporting cast that the reader is sure to fall in love with. By the end of the book I wanted to be a part of their group of friends!

The only negative thing I have to say about Bet Me is that at some point it began to feel repetitive. Toward the middle of the book I started to feel like I was re-reading the same chapters over again: Cal and Min like each other but won’t admit to their feelings. Fate brings them together in a chance meeting. They hook up and realize they are crazy for each other. They discuss it and decide they can’t be anything but friends. They vow to stay away from each other. But then fate brings them together again in another chance meeting…and so on and so on. But all of this aside, I was very pleased with my first read from Crusie and will surely be reading more from her in the future.

“Chasing Harry Winston” by Lauren Weisberger

http://www.laurenweisberger.com

Over the weekend  my boyfriend and I went to a beautiful summer wedding, which got me thinking a lot about weddings, engagements, and marriage (as if I don’t think about this all the time on the regular…let’s be real!!!) So what better book to review to celebrate wedding season than Lauren Weisberger’s Chasing Harry Winston?

 If you enjoyed her best-seller turned blockbuster The Devil Wears Prada, you’ll enjoy a similar writing style and romance wrapped up in the big city once again. This time, Weisberger splits the focus between three main characters: Emmy, Adriana, and Leigh.  These unmarried girlfriends are quickly approaching the age of “past-their-prime” and are realizing it’s time to buckle down and snatch up a permanent man—and fast. So one night the three of them make a pact to change their love lives and dating habits before the end of the year.

Leigh is bored with her mundane life and always safe decisions. Her boyfriend Russell may seem like the perfect catch, but Leigh still longs for something more. She vows to follow her heart and let her love life take the twists and turns it needs to put her in the perfect hands for forever.  

Emmy has been recently dumped by the supposed man of her dreams and wants nothing more than to be back in a solid relationship with a rock on her finger, heading down the aisle to marriage and babies. With the help of her friends, she promises to travel the world, having a one-night stand with a new guy on each continent, experiencing free love away from commitment, futures and family.

Adriana is perhaps the woman that Emmy is trying to become. A gorgeous Brazilian from supermodel genes (literally) she is getting tired of the game—fling after fling with no solid relationship or man to call her own. Her end of the bargain is to find a man, ONE man, and settle down for good, leaving her wild child ways behind.

I truly did enjoy Chasing Harry Winston and am baffled by the number of negative comments and reviews it has received throughout the web. From 224 reviews on Amazon.com, it currently rates 2.5 out of 5 stars, with reviewer after reviewer slamming Weisberger for a weak follow-up to The Devil Wears Prada. I really just don’t get it. I enjoyed every aspect of this book, and quite honestly don’t have a bad thing to say about it. My personal opinion is that this is a quick and snappy story of three different women who deep down long for the same sort of true love, this book is chick-lit and fashionable romance at its best. If you’re looking for something deep and meaningful, it just might not be for you. But if you want a fun, fast-paced read and slightly atypical chick-lit fluff, you’re in for a treat.

So, bloggers, what do you think? If you hated this book, I’d love to know why! And if you enjoyed it, show your support!

“Good in Bed” by Jennifer Weiner

http://www.jenniferweiner.com

Okay chick lit fanatics, I can finally say that I have officially read and finished a Jennifer Weiner novel…and I am a converted fan. After a failed attempt at reading In Her Shoes, I sort of wrote off Weiner and her books and never real had much interest in trying another. But after reading so many rave reviews from other bloggers and readers I decided that I was obviously missing something. So thanks to your suggestions, I decided to tackle Good in Bed and give Ms. Weiner another chance. I’m happy that I did! You readers are so smart J

Don’t let the title Good in Bed fool you, this is not some trashy romance novel about the characters’ fetishes and sexcapades…if you’re looking for that, check out Fifty Shades of Grey (see review here!) This is an almost wholesome book, with a little dash of raunchy humor and language. Good in Bed dives deep into the life of Cannie Shaprio,  a woman scored after her ex-boyfriend writes about his trials and tribulations of dating a “bigger woman” (i.e. her)  in a monthly men’s magazine column called “Good in Bed.” Cannie’s embarrassment and infuriation leads her life down a path that she could have never imagined. Although she is the one who dumped Bruce (and although he exposed her intimate habits in great detail for the whole world to know) she cannot help but think she let a good man get away, and spirals into a deep depression over her loss of their relationship. Cannie tries everything she can to get Bruce back, and when he leans on her for comfort after the death of his father, she thinks she might have her chance to get him back. Little does she know that her reunion with Bruce will literally change her life forever.

A constant theme throughout the book is Cannie’s battle with her own weight and self-esteem. No matter what she does she cannot seem to shed the pounds, which severely hinders her life in every form. Readers will ride along with Cannie as she swears off sweets, cycles miles at the gym, and even joins a weight loss clinic, only to yield no results. Until, with the help of some loved ones, she eventually comes to realize that the only person who needs to approve of her body is herself.

Although the meat and potatoes of the plot are rather heavy—Cannie really does encounter some serious life hurdles—Weiner does a fantastic job of lightening the mood by adding hilarious  characters in Cannie’s life including her recently outted  lesbian mom, her crazy rat terrier Nifkin (do you know what “nifkin” is a nickname for? I didn’t know either. But read the book to find out…you’ll be quite amused) a new found friendship with an on-the-verge anorexic girl who also happens to be a Hollywood celebrity, and a 60-something year old coworker set on sabotaging her. A comedic story that isn’t afraid to touch on tough relationships and not-so far-fetched life circumstances, I would recommend Good in Bed to anyone looking to give Jennifer Weiner a try…or, as in my case, a re-try.