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May mini-review round up!

Antisocial by Jillian Blake
Pub. Date: May 16, 2017
Source: Finished hardback via publisher (Thank you, Delacorte Press!)
Summary: Senior spring at Alexandria Prep was supposed to be for sleeping through class and partying with friends. But for Anna Soler, it’s going to be a lonely road. She’s just been dumped by her gorgeous basketball star boyfriend—with no explanation. Anna’s closest friends, the real ones she abandoned while dating him, are ignoring her. The endearing boy she’s always had a complicated friendship with is almost too sympathetic.

But suddenly Anna isn’t the only one whose life has been upended. Someone is determined to knock the kings and queens of the school off their thrones: one by one, their phones get hacked and their personal messages and photos are leaked. At first it’s funny—people love watching the dirty private lives of those they envy become all too public.

Then the hacks escalate. Dark secrets are exposed, and lives are shattered. Chaos erupts at school. As Anna tries to save those she cares about most and to protect her own secrets, she begins to understand the reality of our always-connected lives:

Sometimes we share too much.
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Mystery

I love YA mysteries. They’re always super fun without feeling heavy: total brainfluff. Antisocial fell into my life (or, rather, onto my welcome mat) at the perfect time. Nothing says brainfluff quite like a gorgeous, lazy afternoon and I completely gobbled this one up in a single sitting.

Unfortunately, with mindless entertainment, there’s typically very little to retain and though I read this one just over a week ago, I’m admittedly having an extremely hard time remembering details. Anna was recently dumped by her basketball star boyfriend, demoted once more to the less-than-cool table. Sadly for Anna, she practically abandoned her besties for a boy and now that Palmer is out of the picture, her friends (former friends?) really aren’t all that interested in welcoming her back.

As if being outcasted by your closest friends wasn’t bad enough, someone has begun hacking Alexandria Prep’s personal app – an app every student has on their phone. Suddenly their darkest secrets are being made public…it’s only a matter of time before Anna’s innermost thoughts are revealed.

There really isn’t much to say here other than Antisocial was quick and easy and enjoyable. A little cliched and over-dramatic at times, but I was willing to look past that for an afternoon of scandalous teen secrets.

It Happens in the Hamptons by Holly Peterson
Pub. Date: May 9, 2017
Source: Finished trade paperback via publisher (Thank you, William Morrow!)
Summary: When a spur of the moment decision catapults Katie Doyle from her lakeside Oregon town to spend the summer in the Hamptons, she is hoping for summer employment, new friends for her young son, and a chance to explore a new love affair with a dazzling colleague. What she finds is a strange cocktail of classes, where society’s one-percenters vacation alongside local people who’ve lived in the Hamptons for generations. Though she’s looking forward to their move, Katie can’t help but feel a little nervous and wonder if she will be accepted by her new boyfriend’s circles and granted entry into the East Coast elite. But as she soon discovers, Southampton isn’t all that it seems to be on the surface—and neither are the people who live there.
Genre: Adult, Contemporary

This book was terrible and the more I think about it, the angrier I get. I went in expecting an easy breezy read about the ‘normal folk’ mingling with the uber elite 1%-ers…and that’s not at all what I got. Katie just upended her life in Portland for a suave and crazy attractive East Coaster. A business conference led to a weekend in a hotel suite and now she’s moving out to Southampton with her little boy. I mean, George did say no strings attached and that she’s welcome to stay in one of his family’s cottages (don’t worry, they have another) for the entire summer. When Katie touches down, however, she discovers George is away on business more often than he’s home, leaving her to share elaborate home-cooked meals with an 8-year-old. When she enrolls Huck in a local swim camp (run by super good-looking Luke), Katie begins to wonder if George is really the one for her.

Okay, if that’s all this book was about, I’d be thoroughly okay. Total beach read and that’s perfectly fine by me. HOWEVER, Peterson attempted to throw way too many storylines into this one, making an already long book (nearly 400 pages) feel ten times longer. The story firmly rests on discovering the identity of a pedophile – many of the chapters are from his perspective, graphically detailing his excursions with underage girls. There’s also a paternity shocker thrown in, namedropping like you wouldn’t believe (along with prices for how much that bag costs or what so-and-so paid for that car, those sunglasses, this necklace, etc).

What really got me, though, was Peterson’s absurd fixation on describing how strong and powerful women’s thighs/butts are. I actually began highlighting passages and phrases because it cropped up so often: “firm and fleshy,” “…she loved that she could feel her large butt move with force in that same direction and then jiggle back into position” (that was one describing a 16-year-old), “”big bulbous butt” (same child). My favorite was when a character was thinking about his dead mother: “Luke and Frank never found out how his mother and her strong girlfriend perished that day.” HAHAHA WHAT. The mom and her friend has drowned when their kayak overturned. He’s really thinking about how strong the friend was?? It reached the point where I began picturing the American Gladiators cast as these characters.

I’m definitely in the minority here, but It Happens in the Hamptons was NOT the book for me.

Unmentionable by Therese Oneill
Pub. Date: November 24, 2016
Source: Audiobook via library
Summary: Have you ever wished you could live in an earlier, more romantic era?

Ladies, welcome to the 19th century, where there’s arsenic in your face cream, a pot of cold pee sits under your bed, and all of your underwear is crotchless. (Why? Shush, dear. A lady doesn’t question.)

UNMENTIONABLE is your hilarious, illustrated, scandalously honest (yet never crass) guide to the secrets of Victorian womanhood, giving you detailed advice on:

~ What to wear
~ Where to relieve yourself
~ How to conceal your loathsome addiction to menstruating
~ What to expect on your wedding night
~ How to be the perfect Victorian wife
~ Why masturbating will kill you
~ And more

Genre: Non-fiction, History

Months ago, a group of friends and I started a book club and Unmentionable was our first book. Unfortunately, it was still new enough to where there were a ridiculous number of holds at the library so we switched books last-minute, but I was still very interested in checking it out. Recently I was browsing my library’s catalog and saw it was available and wasted no time grabbing it!

There are some books that just seem to work better in a certain format and I think Unmentionable is one of them. I’m weird in that I love reading reviews for books I’m currently in the middle of and while I was going through reviews for this one I saw a LOT of people complain about the tone. So, you, the reader, are essentially a time-traveler, dropped into a Victorian (ish) setting while the author plays your Virgil-esque guide. The book is VERY casual and snarky, feeling more like a chat with a girlfriend than a non-fiction work. I can see why it didn’t work for some readers, but I thought it was GREAT on audio!

As for the book itself, I’m a total history nerd. While I’m not as familiar with Victorian England, I have read enough historical romance novels to have a decent idea of things. Unmentionable got down to the nitty-gritty (try wearing ‘modern’ underwear underneath 40 pounds of clothing PLUS a cage specifically designed to help hold up the skirts). The topics were fun and funny and I learned a LOT – this one is definitely recommended!

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick
Pub. Date: May 3, 2016
Source: Audiobook via library
Summary: Sixty-nine-year-old Arthur Pepper lives a simple life. He gets out of bed at precisely 7:30 a.m., just as he did when his wife, Miriam, was alive. He dresses in the same gray slacks and mustard sweater vest, waters his fern, Frederica, and heads out to his garden.

But on the one-year anniversary of Miriam’s death, something changes. Sorting through Miriam’s possessions, Arthur finds an exquisite gold charm bracelet he’s never seen before. What follows is a surprising and unforgettable odyssey that takes Arthur from London to Paris and as far as India in an epic quest to find out the truth about his wife’s secret life before they met–a journey that leads him to find hope, healing and self-discovery in the most unexpected places.
Genre: British, Contemporary, Feel-Good

Here’s the thing: I don’t do sad. I refuse to keep a copy of The Giving Tree in my house. I’ve only seen The Fox & the Hound once and I will never watch it again. I do NOT handle emotional, tug-at-your-heartstrings stories well, so I was absolutely baffled when I decided to borrow an audiobook about an elderly man who recently lost his wife and just discovered a charm bracelet while he was clearing out her closet. I was even more baffled when I loved it.

Arthur Pepper is nearly 70, wakes up at precisely the same time every morning, always remembers to water his fern, and has a fondness for mustard yellow sweater vests. He’s content with his quiet life as a newly widowed man, but when he finds a bracelet hidden among Miriam’s belongings, he sets out for an adventure unlike any he’s ever had.

Miriam’s charm bracelet opens Arthur’s eyes to a world (and woman) he hadn’t known as he jetsets to India, Paris, London, tracking down each charm’s origins and, in doing so, uncovering glimpses of the girl Miriam was before she met Arthur.

Really, this book was so lovely and I don’t feel the need to say much more than that. The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper was sweet and charming with a FANTASTIC group of characters. Just a few chapters in I was so hooked that I wanted to see what other novels the author had. It turns out this is her debut, but she JUST put out a new book…one that’s currently waiting for me at the library. I put a request in for it the second I saw it was on order and this morning received word it arrived, yay!

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3 thoughts on “May mini-review round up!

  1. Great reviews! Too bad about It Happens in the Hamptons – it’s on my TBR, but I don’t think my library has it, so not sure if I’ll ever read it – it sounded like a good summer read!

    Definitely putting Arthur Pepper on my TBR – British and feel-good are right up my alley, and I don’t mind crying while reading!

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