Behind Her Eyes

I’m not even sure where to begin this one! A friend of mine wrote about this book on her blog a while back and I put it on hold at the library. Months later I finally get a copy and I have completely forgotten why I put it on hold in the first place. I know I’m not actually going to read it, so I send it off to the next person in the line. Fast forward what feels like a month or two, but in reality was probably a week, maybe two, and I start reading and hearing all about Grip Lit. Suddenly I have a huge desire to read a Grip Lit novel and the only one available to me on Cloud Library is Behind Her Eyes. I started reading and could not stop. I finished in just over 24 hours.

Behind Her Eyes tells the story of Louise, a single mother in London who has a one night stand with a guy on a rare night at the bar. Later she discovers that man is her new boss, David. When she runs into her boss’s wife and starts up an unlikely friendship, Louise finds herself drawn more and more into the mysterious lives of David and Adele. What secrets are they hiding? Why does Adele seems so afraid of David? Why doesn’t Adele have any other friends?

While the writing wasn’t amazing or anything and the whole plot basically revolves around Louise making stupid choices, it definitely kept me on the edge of my seat. I thought I had it all figured out too (parts of the story reminded me of Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger), but then that last chapter came… and all I can say is WOW!

If you’re looking for something that will suck you in, and maybe break that reading lull you’re going through (I’m still off and on the reading bandwagon recently) this is the book for you!

Popsugar Reading Challenge: A book with an unreliable narrator

Modern Mrs. Darcy Challenge: A book in a genre you usually avoid

Comics!

I have a newfound appreciation for comics. I follow several comic artists on Instagram (emilyscartoons, lucyknisley, bymariandrew, and sarahandersencomics) and am always open to finding more. So when I saw Sarah Andersen’s Adulthood is a Myth on the shelves on a slow day at work I grabbed it and devoured it. So many of the comics spoke to me and made me laugh. However, I think Andersen plays a little too much into the period, my uterus is trying to kill me humor. Not that I can’t relate, but I wish there was a bit more variety.

A few days later I found Big Mushy Happy Lump and while I appreciated that there were some story arcs and not just one page comics, I didn’t enjoy it as much as Adulthood is a Myth. Maybe it’s because while scrolling through Instagram seeing comics on the same few themes is okay because there is so much other stuff to break up the monotony, but in book form, it’s more obvious. Anyway, Adulthood is a Myth seemed to me, to be more original, while Big Mushy Happy Lump was out only to capitalize on the first’s success.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid was wonderful! It’s been awhile since a book sucked me in so quickly. There’s something so fascinating and yet relatable about Evelyn. Doesn’t hurt that I’m a sucker for historical fiction and I love old movies… Monique on the other hand, was a needed character, but she had no personality whatsoever. I generally skimmed her parts.

However, my brain is hurting today, so I’m copying and pasting the blurb from Goodreads:

From Taylor Jenkins Reid comes an unforgettable and sweeping novel about one classic film actress’s relentless rise to the top—the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine.

Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jump start her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Filled with emotional insight and written with Reid’s signature talent, this is a fascinating journey through the splendor of Old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means—and what it takes—to face the truth.

I don’t want to ruin anything for those who haven’t read it yet, but there are a few big twists, about which I’d like to hear others’ opinions. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was also a huge departure from Reid’s other works (granted I’ve only read two of them). And I think she did a great job! Maybe it was just the subject matter, but it reminded me a bit of Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters, which I also loved. I guess this is telling me that I need to read more fiction about the golden age of cinema.

PopSugar Reading Challenge: A Book set in two time periods

Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge: Read three book by the same author (Maybe in Another LifeAfter I Do, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo)

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: an LGBTQ Romance Novel

One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter

I toyed with the idea of signing up for Book of the Month back in April. Ultimately, I decided not to join, but if I had, I would have gone with One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul, partially because it fits a Book Riot Read Harder category and partially because the cover and title are awesome, but mostly because I was intrigued. I really enjoy books of essays, although I rarely read them.

While I really enjoyed One Day We’ll All Be Dead, it did take me a while to finish. I’d tear through one essay and then not be motivated to pick the book up again until lunch three days later and so on and so on. Even though it took me a long time to finish the collection, I really enjoyed it. Koul is an amazing writer, and very clearly highlights the racial and gender issues so common in our society, while also making you snort with laughter.

“Nothing bad can happen to you if you’re with your mom. Your mom can stop a bullet from lodging in your heart. She can prop you up when you can’t. You mom is your blood and bone before your body even knows how to make any.”

I found myself vacillating from shock to laughter to almost crying to laughter again and again. For me, Koul’s writing is strongest when writing about her family, and as someone who worries about her parents and who has a strong relationship with her mother, I can really empathize with many aspects of these essays.

Popsugar Reading Challenge: A book written by someone you admire

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: A collection of stories by a woman

Modern Mrs. Darcy: A book of any genre that addresses current events

 

I’ve Got Your Number

When I first saw the “book you bought on a trip” prompt for the PopSugar Reading Challenge I knew I had to re-read I’ve Got Your Number. I don’t often think of myself as a “chick lit” person. I don’t particularly like the rest of Sophie Kinsella’s books (the plot of the Shopaholic series annoys me in general) nor do I enjoy Emily Griffin or Jen Lancaster. But, I do like Lauren Willig and her Pink Carnation series is basically historical chick lit and I love I’ve Got Your Number.

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British Cover

I visited a friend of mine while she was living in Mozambique and we met in South Africa to go on a safari. Our safari ended in Durban, South Africa and we had to take a public bus from Durban to Maputo. My iPad battery died and therefore all of my bus entertainment, so I decided I had to have a physical  book for the bus ride instead of reading on my iPad. Off to the local bookstore we went and I picked up the paperback copy of I’ve Got Your Number (side note, I like the British cover much better than the American). I devoured the book on the bus ride and then promptly began it again the day after finishing.

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American Cover

I can’t quite describe what I like about the, because Poppy is such wackadoo. She makes some seriously questionable choices. Yet, I’ve read or listened to this book maybe four times now in the last 4 years. So there is obviously something that draws me into the crazy. Maybe it’s the British-ness. Maybe it’s the somewhat normal-ness of Poppy, even if she is a wackadoo (the plot of the book is wildly unrealistic) or maybe it’s because Kinsella has a way of creating characters you root for, even if they drive you nuts.

Luckily for me, all my other reading challenges have a “book you’ve already read” prompt, so I got to check off lots of prompts with one old favorite.

Rich People Problems

I discovered the Crazy Rich Asians series well after the second book came out, and devoured them in days once I got them from the library. That’s the advantage to coming to something (be it a TV series or book series once all parts are available). I did not think Kevin Kwan would write a third book, but once I knew a third was in the works, I immediately began impatiently waiting. Lucky for me, I was approved to read an Advanced Reading Copy through NetGalley!

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Once I started reading Rich People Problems I realized I’d forgotten a lot of what happened in the first two books. This is what happens when I read too quickly. However, Random House has the family tree available on their website and Wikipedia has a pretty good summary of the first two books with character descriptions.

Despite needing some refreshers on character connections, reading Rich People Problems felt very familiar, but in a good way. I love Kwan’s writing style and the humor he exudes. Generally, I’m a sucker for footnotes, and I love Kwan’s. Although reading footnotes on an e-readers is obnoxious. Also, when most authors try and describe fashionable people, or what their characters are wearing, it sounds like a What Not to Wear episode. Kwan, on the other hand, makes me believe Astrid is as fashion forward as she is portrayed. I also really enjoyed re-connecting with Astrid. She is by far my favorite character in the series. Learning more about Su Yi and the history of Singapore was a nice surprise. I wish I knew more about the area’s history and culture. Lastly, Eddie and Kitty were just as annoying as always. Which was perfect.

Popsugar Reading Challenge: A Book Involving Travel

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: A Book that is set more than 5000 from your location

The Art Forger

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On March 18, 1990, thirteen works of art today worth over $500 million were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. It remains the largest unsolved art heist in history, and Claire Roth, a struggling young artist, is about to discover that there’s more to this crime than meets the eye.

Making a living reproducing famous artworks for a popular online retailer and desperate to improve her situation, Claire is lured into a Faustian bargain with Aiden Markel, a powerful gallery owner. She agrees to forge a painting—a Degas masterpiece stolen from the Gardner Museum—in exchange for a one-woman show in his renowned gallery. But when that very same long-missing Degas painting is delivered to Claire’s studio, she begins to suspect that it may itself be a forgery.

Her desperate search for the truth leads Claire into a labyrinth of deceit where secrets hidden since the late nineteenth century may be the only evidence that can now save her life.

*Summary courtesy of Goodreads.com

I wanted to like this book. I really did. There were some details I found intriguing, mostly the passages about the artwork and the process of forging painting traditional oil paintings. I also liked that I recognized most of the places mentioned. I used to live just down the street from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, where the heist this story is inspired by takes place.

However, I did not like Claire at all. Not that you have to necessarily like the characters you read about, but she felt flat. This could also be due to the narrator. I found the narrator’s voice grating and the character of Claire is already annoying, so an annoying narrator only emphasized the annoyingness. As I said earlier, the only redeeming qualities (since I don’t buy the love interests or friendships or the ease of which Claire is able to find her information) are the details surrounding art. Shapiro clearly did a lot of research in painting, art history and forgery. I have to admit I never thought about the possibility of forgeries hanging in museums, but clearly it happens!

This is Shapiro’s debut novel, so maybe her other books will be better, but I felt the characterizations were all over the place. I don’t know if this was intentional or not, but I also felt Claire was not a reliable narrator. By the end she seems to believe many of her own lies about the forgery. Because of this, I’m including The Art Forger as my PopSugar unreliable narrator selection.