CBR 11 Bingo- Not My Wheelhouse
99 Percent Mine – Sally Thorne
I chose a romance novel, Thorne’s The Hating Game, for last year’s Not My Wheelhouse and while I enjoyed it the romance genre floodgates were not opened for me so I chose another kissing book for the same square this year.
Darcy Barrett and her twin brother, Jamie, inherited their grandmother’s tear-down of a cottage which has caused some estrangement between the siblings. Their childhood best friend, Tom, has been hired as the contractor to flip the house before sale as well as something of a go-between for the siblings. Complicating matters further is Darcy’s long standing crush on Tom- who is recently single.
“There’s still one solid-gold good man left out there. He’s the high-tide mark in a world of inch-deep puddles.”
Darcy had probably one too many character traits to be endearing; she has heart condition she ignores, is still mourning her grandmother’s death as well as suffering from wanderlust after losing her passport. Her career is equally infuriating; when she isn’t bar-tending she is sewing baubles onto underwear for her friend’s online business or taking photos of coffee mugs and dildos for online retailers. All of these quirky character traits were supposed to explain her lack of direction in her life but it felt like the literary equivalent of looking in the mirror and really needing to take off one piece. In contrast Tom was a bit too perfect but at least he felt someone grounded in a plausible reality.
The whole story is a bit predictable but over all 99 Percent Mine is cute, a bit steamy- much steamier than my typical fare- but I couldn’t help but feeling like the whole endeavor was lesser than Hating Game. The audiobook I downloaded, helpful hint there is not good time to listen to romance novels, did have a bonus chapter that focused on Lucy and Joshua which was a fun addition.
CBR Bingo- I Love This!
Good in Bed- Jennifer Weiner
In the past six years I’ve reread a lot of favorites for Cannonball so my plan was to revisit an old favorite that I’d never reviewed before. When I was in high school and college I read an overwhelming amount of Jen Lancaster, Lauren Weisberger, Anna Maxted and Jennifer Weiner but as an adult I’ve waned on all my interest in everyone but Weiner.
“Regular women carry pictures of their babies, their husbands, their summer houses. Fat ladies carry pictures of themselves at their skinniest.”
Cannie Shapiro is overweight and recently broken hearted; her ex-boyfriend, Bruce, has gotten a job writing for a magazine and his first article focuses on his relationship with Cannie- namely loving a larger woman. Despite being furious Cannie is beginning to regret asking for a break from Bruce so when he calls requesting Cannie’s presence at Bruce’s father’s funeral Cannie obliges. In a moment of comfort as well as an attempt to reconcile Cannie and Bruce sleep together which results in an unexpected pregnancy.
Good in Bed was Weiner’s debut about twenty years ago and some of its age shows; for example a woman is in a waiting room reading “an electronic email device” and Cannie works in printed journalism. Some of the focus on Cannie’s relationship with her weight is a bit dated too; Cannie, described as Lewinskyesq, is at best a 16/18 which is essentially the American average. Mostly I was shocked to rediscover that Cannie, who believes that losing Bruce means losing out on her only chance for a husband and that this baby is her only shot at motherhood, is twenty eight years old.
This isn’t to say I did not enjoy rereading Good in Bed; maybe my nostalgia is too strong but I’m glad I dug a little deeper into my reading past for this square. Cannie is a surprisingly well rounded character. Yes, her weight is a large focus of the novel but it is a common thread in most of Weiner’s early books and she gave her protagonist other character traits of equal importance. Cannie has a strained relationship with her late in life lesbian mother, is developing a strange, new friendship with a movie star and her life has been permanently shaped by her father’s abandonment when she was a teenager. She also has a spunky canine sidekick, Nifkin.
CBR Bingo- Classics READER’S CHOICE
Daisy Jones and the Six – Taylor Jenkins Reid
It took me a while to figure out which square I would use my Reader’s Choice for but the book I reviewed for Reader’s Choice was a no-brainer. I knew I would enjoy Daisy Jones & the Six before I started it and Taylor Jenkins Reid’s oral history of the fictitious band did not disappoint.
“We love broken, beautiful people. And it doesn’t get much more obviously broken and more classically beautiful than Daisy Jones.”
Daisy Jones got famous for being something of a party girl but by the late sixties she began to get recognition for her voice. Her aspiration to be a singer songwriter was growing closer to fruition but her flighty, argumentative personality lead to some clashes with her management over her having to pay her dues first. At the same time Billy Dunne, lead singer for the up and coming band The Six, is learning to live with stardom as well as his new wife’s pregnancy. Following a stint in rehab Billy and The Six are put together with Daisy Jones to make music magic. In this fictional universe we all know the rest of the story but Jenkins Reid does a marvelous job of building this world where Daisy Jones and the Six were the biggest band of the late 1960s (think Stillwater from Almost Famous… oh wait) and giving us all the details about their rise and sudden fall.
“Daisy, someone who insists on the perfect conditions to make art isn’t an artist. They’re an asshole.”
While Billy and Daisy are the leads of the band as well as the leads in the story there fair amount of time devoted to the goings on of the other band members during this tumultuous time. Karen and her dynamic with Graham was at least as interesting as the drama between the frontman and woman. Overall Jenkins Reid really put pen to paper and brought VH1’s Behind the Music back to life with this one.
Also, I cannot recommend the audiobook enough. There is a full cast of characters lending their voices in interview format that makes it the absolutely best way to enjoy this one.