posted at Tuesday, March 21st, 2017 at 8:00 AM | Adult, Audiobook Reviews, Mini Reviews, Reviews, Young Adult
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
Narrator: Fiona Hardingham
Length: 11 hrs, 58 mins
Published by Random House Audio on February 7, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Humor, Romance
Amazon • The Book Depository • Audible
Part love story, part workplace dramedy, part witty critique of the false judgments we make in a social-media-obsessed world, this is New York Times bestselling author Sophie Kinsella’s most timely and sharply observed novel yet.
Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie’s life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle—from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she’s trying to negotiate. The final, demeaning straw comes when Demeter makes Katie dye her roots in the office. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she’s desperate to make her dad proud.
Then, just as she’s finding her feet—not to mention a possible new romance—the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family’s farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away—until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie’s future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.
Sophie Kinsella is celebrated for her vibrant, relatable characters and her great storytelling gifts. Now she returns with all of the wit, warmth, and wisdom that are the hallmarks of her bestsellers to spin this fresh, modern story about presenting the perfect life when the reality is far from the image.
Sophie Kinsella’s books were my jam back in high school, and Finding Audrey was so good. Obviously, I was super excited to read her latest adult contemporary romance. My (Not So) Perfect Life has all the charm and humor I expect from Kinsella, but it didn’t bring the ship as strongly as usual.
The description says that My (Not So) Perfect Life is part love story, and it lists that first, which is totally misleading. There is a romance, but the ship very much takes a backseat. It actually might be in the trunk. The romance is fairly cute, but there’s not enough time on it to make it really stand out or especially shippy. There’s ship establishing stuff at the start, basically nothing through the middle, and then the ship has a bit of time at the end. As a romance, My (Not So) Perfect Life disappoints. It’s much more a contemporary workplace comedy than it is a romance.
That said, Sophie Kinsella does a great job with the workplace comedy element. It’s very much a The Devil Wears Prada sort of story, only Demeter’s not that much of a nightmare and they really do bond. Katie has a great voice, and she stands out from some of Kinsella’s heroines. Katie’s not a spendthrift like Becky (though she does struggle to make ends meet in London because it’s fucking expensive) and she’s really good at her job.
My (Not So) Perfect Life is most about Katie’s relationship with her boss, Demeter. She idolizes Demeter and envies her. The social media element is definitely there, but it’s also a bit shoved in at the end; it’s more generally about how people aren’t necessarily how they seem on the surface. This is a nice edition to a genre where bitch bosses are generally just unchanging monster figures (see Meg Cabot’s Boy books for an example). The evolution is slow and steady, and I like how everyone maintains their flaws (like how Demeter and Alex are actually both really bad at being managers).
There’s also a lot of time spent out on Katie’s parents’ farm in Somerset as she helps them turn it into a glamping site. I might have been a bit bored during some of this in print, but the audiobook kept my interest. Katie’s parents are adorable, and the glamping concept was funny. Plus, the scene with the rampant rabbit had me cackling.
Don’t come to this one for the ship, but do read it for the humor and well-developed cast of characters.
Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:
I received this book for free from ALA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Maid of the King’s Court by Lucy Worsley
Published by Candlewick on March 14, 2017
Amazon • The Book Depository • Audible
In the vibrant, volatile court of Henry VIII, can even the most willful young woman direct her own fate and follow her heart in a world ruled by powerful men?
Clever, headstrong Elizabeth Rose Camperdowne knows her duty. As the sole heiress to an old but impoverished noble family, Eliza must marry a man of wealth and title — it’s the only fate for a girl of her standing. But when a surprising turn of events lands her in the royal court as a maid of honor to Anne of Cleves, Eliza is drawn into the dizzying, dangerous orbit of Henry the Eighth and struggles to distinguish friend from foe. Is her glamorous flirt of a cousin, Katherine Howard, an ally in this deceptive place, or is she Eliza’s worst enemy? And then there’s Ned Barsby, the king’s handsome page, who is entirely unsuitable for Eliza but impossible to ignore. British historian Lucy Worsley provides a vivid, romantic glimpse of the treachery, tragedy, and thrills of life in the Tudor court.
Maid of the King’s Court is one of those books that’s a bit hard to categorize in terms of age. The heroine, Eliza, goes from age 12 to age 18 over the course of the novel. The writing style’s a bit simplistic, and in some ways it feels targeted to a middle grade audience. However, the actual content is pretty raunchy. Maid of the King’s Court won’t provide much new information to anyone has done much studying at all of the Tudors, but it’s a fun, quick read.
My expectations were pretty low for this one to be honest. I was suspicious of Eliza starting out so young. The novel opens with Eliza, birthday girl of the grand age of 12, getting her present: a betrothal. The ceremony takes place with a proxy, and she’s going to stay with her parents until she gets her menses, so it could be worse. That falls apart, though, as her betrothed turns out to already be married, and Eliza’s sent to school where she meets her cousin Katherine Howard.
According to Worsley’s comments on why she wrote this book, she wanted to present Katherine in a more favorable light than historians tend to. Though Katherine isn’t necessarily a likable figure, I’d say Worsley achieves her goal for the most part. She manages to show the various aspects of the society and some reasons that explain why Katherine acts as she does. Also, she does capture the youth of these girls, and how old and decrepit Henry is at this point (something The Tudors was never going to manage with Johnathan Rhys Meyers).
Eliza, though essentially a vehicle for spending time with Katherine, is a good foil to Katherine. For all that Eliza’s presented as a more likable figure, she could easily have become Katherine. That, I think, does serve to highlight the choices Katherine might have made.
As I said there’s not any new history here (not in terms of scholarship, but in terms of fictional presentations of the era), but it’s presented in a light, engaging way. This is a great choice for readers who aren’t as familiar with the Tudors.
Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy: