Forever playing catch-up with reviews it seems, so today I bring you a whopping 5 mini-reviews!
Going in order from least enjoyable to most today.
Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal
My Edition: Paperback – 360 pages – 2019- Ballantine Books – ISBN: 9780525486480
I won a copy of this book from LibraryThing in exchange for my honest review.
This is a pretty literal adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, set in Pakistan in 2000.
I was really excited about this, but sadly, it ended up being a disappointment. This should be obvious, but this isn’t a dig against Pakistani culture at all. But I didn’t connect to any of the characters and aside from being set in more modern-day Pakistan, the story didn’t feel all that different from the original.
Maybe that’s the point, though. That marriage and children and women’s roles were (are?) still very antiquated in Pakistan, as they were in Regency England. Even in the U.S. it still seems like the general view is that women should aspire to marry well and have children. Regardless of the time period or location, it can be hard when you decide to break that mold.
That being said, I wanted a little something extra from this adaptation. Some twist or variation. I also missed the sense of romance and passion that I usually find in the modern adaptations, and that I tend to miss in the original.
ALSO. I had a huge issue that our Lizzie, Alys, NEVER ONCE realized her life is an exact copy of Pride and Prejudice. She’s a teacher and has her students read Pride and Prejudice; her friend (the Charlotte of the story) compares Alys to Lizzie; the man she’s annoyed and intrigued by has the last name Darsee! None of these clues ever cause Alys to even remotely pause and say “Huh, my life is totally like this book I love – crazy!” It would be a different story if Austen was never mentioned and I could assume her work just didn’t exist in this universe. But I couldn’t let go of the fact that Alys was living the plot of a book she enjoys and never once noticed it. Maybe it’s a nitpick to some but it drove me crazy!
Anyway, this adaptation isn’t bad, it just didn’t grab me. If this sounds like an interesting take on P&P to you, check it out.
Dear Girls by Ali Wong
My Edition: Signed Hardcover – 216 pages – 2019 – Random House – ISBN: 9780593134146
This is a book of letters written by Ali to her daughters to read when they’re over 21 (Ali’s requirements, not mine.) They touch on her childhood, family, travels, meeting their father, her journey through comedy, and motherhood.
Memoirs, autobiographies, and slice-of-life stories are always hard to review. A person’s life isn’t fiction. Who am I to say whether their life is interesting or entertaining?
I did enjoy Wong’s writing/tone and sense of humor. The humor part might seem obvious because she’s a comedian, but she can be pretty vulgar and I know that’s not for everyone. There were plenty of parts I found funny and plenty I found disgusting.
One topic she wrote about that I connected with most was her wedding. Ali and her husband really stood firm and made their day their own. In her letter to her daughters about her wedding, she gave a numbered list of tips, #9 being the one that resonated with me the most and one that I, having learned from my own experiences would give:
“9. Chill Out. A wedding is not a marriage. It’s one day of celebration, one of hopefully many with the love of your life. I’m so proud of how your father and I began our marriage by carving out our own path in life and didn’t get sucked into the mainstream take on ”how things are done” despite feeling a lot of pressure to spend a ton of money on it all. We knew the journey ahead was going to be filled with expensive-ass purchases like a house and childcare for your little unborn ladies.”
There’s a lot I didn’t connect with though. As a friend pointed out, she doesn’t have to connect/relate to a person or character to enjoy a book. That’s totally true and I don’t always need to either. But here, I just wasn’t feeling it. Maybe it was the emphasis on motherhood. I’m sorry I can’t articulate it any better.
At any rate, I’d read another book by Ali Wong, but I just can’t rave about this one.
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Not My Edition: Library e-book – 416 pages – 2019 – Gallery Books – ISBN: ???
Here we’ve got your classic hate-to-love adult romcom. Olive is forced to take her twin sister’s non-refundable, non-re-schedule-able (yep) honeymoon after a disastrous wedding buffet strikes down all but Olive and the groom’s brother, Ethan. The catch is that Ethan and Olive have to pretend to be in the newlyweds in order not to get busted. Of course, they hate each other, and of course, romance and shenanigans ensue.
This was everything I needed it to be. I’ve never read Christina Lauren before and I’m glad this was my entry point because I’ve heard mixed reviews on their newer stuff. I wanted something light, silly, and romantic and it delivered. The hate-to-love (or even dislike-to-love) is my favorite romcom trope and I’m here for it every time.
I could have used a bit more sexy in the sexy times, and bit more sexy times in general, but I liked the development of the relationship as Olive and Ethan got to know each other. There was a depth to their characters that they revealed to each other to strengthen their relationship.
There was, of course, a Misunderstanding and it felt a little tedious. Part of me could understand, the other part of me was rolling my eyes like crazy. Also, the “villain” of this story was a bit overboard. But overall, this was cute and satisfying and a story I would read again. I definitely want to check out more Christina Lauren books now!
Ghost Hunters Adventure Club and The Secret of the Grand Chateau by Dr. Cecil H.H. Mills
My Edition: Signed Hardcover – 210 pages – 2020 – Permuted Press – ISBN: 9781682618929
A bit of Nancy Drew meets the Hardy Boys with some modern-day sass thrown in, is a whodunnit set in an idyllic chateau with a dash of Indiana Jones-like elements thrown in for good measure.
If you’re a fan of the Game Grumps on Youtube, like I am, you’ll likely recognize Arin Hanson’s sense of humor, as he writes under his eccentric pen name. The book is delightful, pure and simple. It’s sarcastic, self-aware, and genuinely entertaining. I love the running commentary from Dr. Mills sprinkled throughout. I was also actually interested in finding out who committed the murder.
This is a short book, so I’m not going to get into the details. But I would recommend it for YA and adult lovers of mysteries, fans of the Grumps, and anyone just looking to be cheered up by a murder mystery. Yes, somehow that’s possible. In these times, it was nice to read something that didn’t take itself too seriously, but was still quality.
Well Met by Jen DeLuca
My Edition: Paperback – 319 pages – 2019 – Berkley – ISBN: 9781984805386
Another hate-to-love romcom, set in Maryland at a Renaissance Faire held by a high school as a fundraiser. Emily is staying with her sister and niece to help out after her sister’s car accident. She’s happy to focus on her taking care of her sister in her time of need, rather than focusing on her own messy life. She has to sign up for the Ren Faire so her niece can participate and as she gets closer with her family, she also finds herself getting closer with the annoying-but-handsome leader of the faire, Simon.
This book is damn-near perfection when it comes to what I’m looking for in a romcom (again, adult). The characters are well-developed, the sexual tension is high, and the faire scenes really made me miss my own local faire. Actually, that made me a bit sad because I’ve been going every year since I was a little kid and I missed last year due to Life Events and now I’m thinking this year it likely won’t take place. But at the same time, it was great to read about because I pictured my local faire as the setting and it made it all the more realistic!
Also if you enjoy some a steamy sex scene… -chef’s kiss- … this probably has the best I’ve read in a romance! My only complaint is that there was only one “big” scene. More, please!
This is still a romance though, so of course, it follows the formula: After our two lovers establish some form of relationship, there is a Misunderstanding, which leads to a Fight, and of course, finally, a Reconciliation. I’m not opposed to this formula, it’s just that oftentimes the Misunderstandings are really flimsy.
In Well Met, we have a Misunderstanding that’s frustrating and could be solved with a little communication on both sides. However, it’s already been established that both characters have issues communicating with not only each other, but basically everyone. So while you want to smack Emily and Simon for being arses, you also understand why they’re behaving that way! Huzzah!
My only issue with this book is an extreme nitpick, but also one that could have been avoided. To practice their accents for the faire, Emily and her niece watch “Harry Potter movies. And Jane Austen adaptations. And more Harry Potter movies.” One would reasonably assume they watched the first Harry Potter movie, right? Later, at the faire, there is human chess going on and Emily is confused about where the fighting comes in and her friend has to explain the pieces fight when one takes another. EXCUSE ME?! There is friggen battle chess in the first HP movie and Ron gets his ass handed to him. How could you not know that?
If she hadn’t mentioned watching the HP movies, that blunder could be forgiven. It just seemed like an easily avoidable continuity error.
Obviously, I’m making a big deal out of nothing here. If my only complaints are that one big sex scene isn’t enough and Emily forgot what battle chess was, I’m a happy reader. I can’t wait for the companion novel, Well Played, which hopefully will still release this fall!