Tag: Chick Lit

The Crocodile Club by Kaz Cooke

Posted December 14, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Chick Lit / 4 Comments

The Crocodile Club by Kaz CookeTitle: The Crocodile Club (Goodreads)
Author: Kaz Cooke
Published: Allen & Unwin, 1993
Pages: 240
Genres: Chick Lit
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

The Crocodile Club tells the story of Selina Plankton, an assistant to the magician The Great Salami, who finds herself out of a job. At the same time she receives an eviction notice. Her life becomes a little strange when she meets a Serbo-Scottish psychiatrist who offers her $10,000 for a first date. However a desperate phone call sends her to Darwin to help a life long friend where Selina is embroiled in a mystery that involves political corruption, mayhem and attempted murder.

Kaz Cooke is an Australian author, cartoonist and radio broadcaster. She is an experienced journalist, with over 30 years’ experience and now the author of advice books like Women’s Stuff, Girl Stuff: your full-on guide to the teen years and Up the Duff: the real guide to pregnancy. I would like to point out when viewing her website there is only one mention of her novel The Crocodile Club and I had to use the find option in my browser to actually find it.

This is a really strange book; on the surface it is this story of a modern Australian woman struggling through life, trying to make the most of her job and find romance. There is that question of etiquette when it comes to being offered $10,000 for a date that plays a role within the novel. There are the normal chick-lit tropes, a quirky protagonist who is hopeless with love, a destructive ex-boyfriend and the light hearted humour.

However Kaz Cooke’s journalistic style comes out every so often with the story and creates these really weird moments. The first time it was about thirty pages into the story and I was learning about the socio-economical make up of Darwin. Later there were moments heavily focused on small-town politics, political corruption and the relationship between government and mining companies. It doesn’t stop there; I was sent on a tangent about foreign relationships and trade between Australia and Asia and even going on about the United States of America. It is almost like Cooke wanted to give the reader all this information to show them what she was trying to do with the story. Though it was meant to be a quirky romance/adventure story and I am sure most readers would have been able to manage without all this information. This was such a strange experience to jump from chick-lit to journalistic research and back again constantly.

I picked up this novel because it was my wife’s favourite book when she was a teenager and putting aside all those heavy moments I can see why. The romantic elements of The Crocodile Club fall into the spectrum of what a teenager would class as romantic, it is the type of novel a young person would try to write. As an adult, I thought it was clichéd, the characters’ actions were juvenile and dialogue was clunky but besides all of that, there were some funny moments. Finally, I could never understand Selina’s obsession with hairpins. That was until she turned into the MacGyver of hairpins.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Posted September 11, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Chick Lit / 0 Comments

Landline by Rainbow RowellTitle: Landline (Goodreads)
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Narrator: Rebecca Lowman
Published: St. Martin's Griffin, 2014
Pages: 320
Genres: Chick Lit
My Copy: Audiobook

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Georgie McCool is on the verge of getting her big break in TV. She and her writing partner, Seth have received the opportunity to pitch their show to a TV station, but this means there is a lot of writing to do in preparation for the meeting. Only problem is, she was about to fly to Omaha to spend Christmas with her husband, Neal’s parents. Their marriage is in trouble, not from the lack of love but from continuous tension and distance. Now her family is in a different state and things take a weird turn when Georgie picks up the landline and is able to talk to Neal, from before they were married.

First of all I must admit that I’m never going to be the target audience for a book like Landline and I don’t think I can ever enjoy a book like this. It just feels predictable and I know that Georgie and Neal will work things out before even starting the book. Being a literary explorer, I still feel the need to read book in the chick-lit genre and sometimes they surprise me. However for something like Landline, I felt the urge to yell at the characters to “use your words!” during the entire novel.

This is my first Rainbow Rowell book but I think I should have started with something nerdy like Eleanor & Park or Fangirl. I like the idea of nostalgic and nerdy references throughout a novel and while Landline did offer this, I was just too annoyed with the characters. The whole subject of relationships falling apart due to lack of communication doesn’t interest me too much; I just find myself getting frustrated with the characters and expect the plot to do something new and interesting. Landline didn’t give me anything I wanted.

This isn’t to say Landline was a bad novel; in fact it was entertaining, I just prefer some complexity. However this does bring up an interesting moral issue; there is a scene within the book where Georgie and past Neal are talking about her writing partner Seth. Georgie asks Neal not to make her choose between him and Seth, which brings up a fundamental problem in the relationship, she acknowledges that he is causing unease in the relationship but she is not willing to make an effort to solve the problem.

The idea of talking to Neal from fifteen years ago is an interesting plot device, it adds a little magical realism or science fiction into the novel but it does something more. This concept of holding onto the past seems to be a major problem, they don’t seem to understand people change over fifteen years and you have to evolve with them. It is also a really creepy plot device. Also the fact that Georgie has to try calling the landline because Neal is ignoring every call to his mobile from her is a whole other issue.

One last moral issue I found in the novel involved the relationship between Georgie and Seth. There was a point in Landline where I thought they should get together, they seem to be an easier more logical fit but then I realised what I was thinking. I would never want something like this to happen in real life; why would I want to characters in a novel to make this choice. This got me thinking about morality. As humans we expect people to do the right thing but in books, movies and TV we don’t have the same reaction when a character makes the wrong choice. We do react but I think we prefer to explore infidelity, murder and immorality via a work of fiction than in real life, but does this say something about humanity?

As soon as I finished the book I was angry and wanted to give the book a low rating but then I began thinking more about Landline. I don’t think it is a bad book, it has a nice and happy ending but I don’t think the underlining problems in Georgie and Neal’s marriage was actually solved. My initial impression to rate the novel with 2 stars ended up being the correct choice. Now I need to find a book in the chick-lit genre that I like; any suggestions?

The Literary Exploration Reading Challenge Returns for 2014

Posted December 12, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 9 Comments

The Literary Exploration reading challenge is back, by popular demand. As most people know, Literary Exploration tries to explore all different genres in the hope to become a well-rounded reader and even discover something new. So we are challenging everyone to dedicate either 12, 24 or 36 books that you would normally read during the year to different genres. We have compiled a list which hopefully will give you a chance to explore literature a little deeper.

It’s real simple; below you will see an easy (12 books), hard (24 books) or insane (36 books) challenge. Each genre links to the Goodreads genre page if you need some suggestions on what to read. We want you to have some fun and explore; hopefully you might find a new genre that peaks your interest. To sign up either join the Literary Exploration book club on Goodreads and talk about your progress with others involved or for the bloggers out there, if you want to add it as part of your blogging experience simply let us know with a link (to your Literary Exploration Challenge page) in the comments below so our readers can see how you are going.

This year we have adjusted the insane challenge slightly to make it a little more rounded. The popularity of the reading challenge with overwhelming and we are pleased to see how many people wanted to do it again next year. We have even offered some bonus for those who want to take it to the next level. The idea of this challenge is to have a well-balanced list of genres and not focusing on one genre more than any others.

Good luck all who decide to join in. I personally am going to go for the 36 book, insane challenge and I’m really looking forward to it. While there are some genres I’m not looking forward to reading, it’s all part of being a literary explorer. What could be wrong with that?

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The Suite Life by Suzanne Corso

Posted September 4, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Chick Lit / 0 Comments

The Suite Life by Suzanne CorsoTitle: The Suite Life (Goodreads)
Author: Suzanne Corso
Series: Brooklyn Story #2
Published: Gallery Books, 10 September 2013
Pages: 336
Genres: Chick Lit
My Copy: ARC from Netgalley

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Growing up in Brooklyn, Samantha Bonti dreams of one day being a writer. She found the courage to break free from her an abusive mobster and eventually finds the man of her dreams. Alec is a successful Wall Street broker, but things are not as they seem and when he makes a risky business move, Sam is left scrambling to pick up the pieces of her crumbling fairy tale.

This isn’t really the type of book I would read but I liked the idea a novel about a writer, a mobster and a crumbling life. That was enough to peek my interests and I thought it was enough of a risk for me to try. Unfortunately it wasn’t a book for me and I should have abandoned it but I persevered. This novel didn’t have enough to deal with the mobster ex-boyfriend, which was one of my first disappointments. I got a sense that Sam wasn’t really as damaged by the relationship as the author wanted us to believe and I really struggled with that. I actually thought Alec was more damaging than the ex, with his emotional blackmail and need for control.

Let’s look at the relationship between Sam and Alec for a moment. The relationship felt a little too much like Edward and Belle from Twilight; I know some people think that is romantic but I really have a problem with it. Ordering for your date can be romantic but when it is a first date and they hardly know each other, it just feel weird and out of place. Also Alec felt too controlling and I got the impression he would sulk if he didn’t get his own way. There were also times I thought Alec would turn into Christian Grey from Fifty Shades of Grey; that might have made things a little different but still not my type of book.

I must admit that Suzanne Corso has a decent writing style and with a bit of work she could become an interesting writer. The Suite Life could use with a good hard editing, removing all the repetitiveness and cutting anything that was just filler but then the book would be too short. Some parts felt rushed and some parts dragged on too much, Corso needed to work more on backstory and show the reader just what Sam has been through. The Chick Lit approach feels like any pain and suffering has been down played and this really didn’t do the novel any justice.

There was also not enough to do with Sam’s desire to make it as a writer and it felt like she quickly abandoned her passions when she got a taste of the high life. The synopsis for this book made me think that this book was set in the 1980’s but I turned out to be the 1990’s. There wasn’t much nostalgia about the 90’s; the only real reference was repetitive mentions of Alanis Morissette. Also if Alec is so rich and living the highlife, I wonder why he was driving such an old car?

Having read this book I have since found out that The Suite Life is a sequel to Brooklyn Story and all the backstory and information about her mobster ex-boyfriend would be covered in that book. I suppose this book could work as a stand-alone but I think it was missing too much information that must have been covered in the first book. Will I read book one? Maybe, but I’m not in a hurry to find out about Sam’s life before Alec and there are just too many other novels to read.

This was an interesting reading experiment. I probably should have done more research on a book before reading it but sometimes it is fun to go in blind. While this book wasn’t for me, I’m sure that some people will enjoy it. I am more interested in diving into the emotions and looking at what drives and motivates people but The Suite Life just glossed over that. I’m not a romance or Chick Lit reader so I don’t know if this is the norm; I really hope not.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Posted June 11, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Romance / 0 Comments

The Rosie Project by Graeme SimsionTitle: The Rosie Project (Goodreads)
Author: Graeme Simsion
Published: Text, 2013
Pages: 329
Genres: Romance
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Don Tillman is a highly successful Professor of Genetics, but he is also a very socially awkward single man that believes the solution to all his problems is a wife.  He embarks upon a search to find this wife; The Wife Project is a carefully designed questionnaire to find the perfect match for him. In comes Rosie, not a match, but Don finds himself helping her on search for her biological father.

Chick lit always seems to have a quirky woman looking for love, because apparently the message is that strong independent women are incomplete until they have a partner. That is probably a rant for another day but I have to wonder why Nick Hornsby and Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project does not fit into this genre? All the same characteristics are there, the only thing different is the role reversal. My wife jokingly calls the genre dick lit but I don’t know why there is a gender bias in a genre. I thought Seating Arrangements would be considered chick lit but because it had a male protagonist people dismiss it as something different. Not really important but I thought it odd that just because the main character is the wrong gender it doesn’t fall under the same category, which is one of the many problems with trying to categorise books into genres.

Now let’s get back to The Rosie Project; this was an entertaining and quick read that just has too many problems with it. This over hyped book’s major flaw is the portrayal of Asperger’s; much like Addition, a mental health issue (or in this case a pervasive developmental disorder) is the quirky personality. Because underplaying a mental health issue is the answer to making a character quirky; why can’t people just be quirky without having to point fingers? Misrepresenting mental health seems to be the go to move for writers of books, TV and movies and it really isn’t helping people understand these issues. Also while I’m on the topic, why does socially awkward, introverted or quirky have to be considered as problems, why can’t we just be happy for people to be different without having to stick a label on it?

The other major issue I had with The Rosie Project was its predictability; you knew exactly what was going to happen from chapter to chapter and how the book would end. There were no surprises, nothing interesting, just a generic plot. So we have an unpredictable, generic and stereotypical plot; does that leave you with any good points? Not really, just that it was entertaining and there was some decent comedy but in the end I was glad to be done with the book. Remember that old Jack Nicholson movie As Good As It Gets? I have to wonder if this is just a modernisation of that movie, there were so many similarities. I also found a lot of similarities to Addition so I’m not sure if there is anything original left in this book.

For those that don’t mind something so formulaic and predictable, this book is entertaining and you don’t really need to pay attention. I ended up skim reading most of this book and I still felt like I didn’t miss anything, because I guessed what would happen before I read it. I know this book has gotten a lot of buzz lately and I’m still that bitter and cynical old man but I really don’t get it; I don’t see what was so appealing.

Good on Graeme Simsion for taking the world by storm with this novel, the buzz in Australia has started to die down but now the hype is starting around the world. I see it was one of the books been heavily advertised at BEA from Australia (the other being Burial Rites). For that I’m glad it’s doing well, it is nice to see Australian books getting talked about all around the world. Much like The Book Thief, I don’t see why there is so much buzz but I’m still happy when an Australian author reaches the international stage. I’m sure there will be a romantic comedy coming from Hollywood soon, so maybe that is a good reason to read The Rosie Project.

ArmchairBEA 2013: Blogger Development & Genre Fiction

Posted May 29, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in ArmchairBEA / 26 Comments

armchairBEADay two here at Armchair BEA and we are talking blogging and genre fiction. This could be interesting; I can’t wait to see what people say about both topics. When it comes to blogging I take this serious; it’s not that I want to become a professional and earn money (sure that would be nice but I want to treat this as a hobby, I’d love to get paid for doing what I love but I’m happy to have fun) I just like things organised and looking good. I’m not entirely happy with the way my blog looks but I think I lack the coding and graphic design skills to fix it so I leave it the way it is. Now when it comes to blogging platforms, I’m an elitist and think a self published wordpress blog is the only way to go; it is the only way to be flexible and professional. I’ve also recently discovered this amazing plugin thanks to The Oaken Bookcase which has been a book blogging lifesaver (after the hours spent going though older posts to fill in the information) so if you are on wordpress.org check it out.

Last year I wrote a Top Tips for Book Blogging post as part of Armchair BEA but think time I think I would just like to share my goals for this blog which should lead into the talking about genre fiction. This blog originally started as a way to document my reading journey, I’ve always thought my target audience is me and any other readers are just added bonuses. Now I want to be a literary explorer, I don’t want to get tied into only reading one genre, so before I started this blog I started a Goodreads book club also called Literary Exploration  in which we try to read different books in different themes and genres. Now this is all voted on so sometimes I think the book club can get a little stuck on reading cannon books but it is a lot of fun and still takes me out of my comfort zone. This led to the Literary Exploration Reading Challenge where we challenged people to read a book from different genres. This has had such a positive result that I think it will become a yearly challenge (with some fine tuning) and I hope it will continue to push people out of their comfort zones.

Now I like to read literary books but I do enjoy some good hard crime (hard-boiled and noir) but as a literary explorer I have to force myself to read all genres. I really struggle with Fantasy (not so much urban fantasy), Romance, Erotica, Chick Lit, Paranormal and Young Adult fiction but I really try. I think it is important to be willing to try other genres because there are always great books to experience and if we are not willing to try we end up missing books that could become our next loved book. A recent example of this for me was The People of Forever Are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu, I expected Young/New Adult but I got so much more for the book.

ArmchairBEA is a virtual convention for book blogger who can’t attend Book Expo America and the Book Blogger Convention. Banner by Nina of Nina Reads and button by Sarah of Puss Reboots

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

Posted April 25, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Chick Lit / 0 Comments

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen FieldingTitle: Bridget Jones's Diary (Goodreads)
Author: Helen Fielding
Series: Bridget Jones #1
Published: Pan Macmillan, 1996
Pages: 310
Genres: Chick Lit
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Bridget Jones’s Diary is the year in the life of a thirty-something single working woman living in London. While she writes about her career, problems, family, friends, and a quest for a romantic relationship she is also on a quest for self improvement. To quit smoking, cut down on drinking, lose weight and develop Inner poise, this novel is a comical look at the modern woman.

First of all, I think of this book as a pseudo feminist novel; while there are plenty of elements in the novel that could be considered a critique of feminism; this is more satire than anything else. Bridget wants to be that kind of woman but she never gets there, she tries to come across as a strong independent working woman who does what she wants when she wants, but when it all comes down to it, what she wants is a man. Interesting enough the strongest feminist is the mother who has legitimate feminist ideals, but not portrayed in a very positive light.

There is this idea that Bridget Jones’s Diary is based on Pride and Prejudice but I have some issues with this and I will try to explore some of my basic thoughts on this. Firstly Bridget is not Elizabeth Bennett; she would like to be, but in the book her personality would be more like Lydia. Her goal is to become more like Lizzie but her relationship with Daniel Cleaver (possible the Wickham of the story) shows us that she is living a life of self gratification. If we are going to compare characters to those in Pride and Prejudice, then Bridget’s mother might start off as a Mrs Bennett but in the end turns into a Lydia as well. Mark Darcy is obviously Mr Darcy and probably the only character that closely resembles the original character. There is also the desire to find a husband (or mate) due to the pressures put on them by their mothers as well as the perception of running out of time. In Lizzie’s case, she was at the age where she needs to seriously consider getting married as it was expected of her and in Bridget’s case it was more to do with her biological clock.

Here is how I think the comparison was made; in the novel Bridget was obsessed with the BBC TV adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, she considered Lizzie and Darcy the idea of the a great romance and wanted to find her own Mr Darcy. She loves the lake scene with Colin Firth in the wet white shirt (not in the book), so when it come to moment where Bridget realises who’s the right man for her, the book tries to replicate the scene with the description of Mark Darcy coming in dirty and sweaty and her attraction to him at that moment. Obviously since the movie had Colin Firth playing Mark Darcy, they were able to replicate this scene a lot better and this is why the ending was changed.

I don’t know much about Chick Lit so it is hard to talk about the writing and how it compares to other books in this genre but I have some thoughts I want to explore. First of all, this novel is almost like a soliloquy; obviously being a diary she is expecting no one else to read her thoughts, so she can express feelings that she would never consider sharing with others. The diary takes the reader through the year with her, as it happens, not with the wisdom of hindsight or any wisdom at all. The only problem is that it blurs the line between a first person narrative and third; there are parts of the book where it would be obscure to think Bridget was writing down everything happening, minute by minute as it was happening. This is to help add to the comedy of the book but to me it added to the absurdity.

Lastly I want to talk about Bridget Jones; the modern woman, obsessed with romance but still wanting to appear as a strong independent woman. She starts the diary in an effort try to improve herself but it also suggests that she is self-absorbed. What really got me was her negative body image; each day she weighed herself and throughout the course of the entire book the most she ever weighed was 9.6 stone (just over 60kg or 132 pounds) and she considers herself overweight by that? I know she compares herself to people on TV but it’s just ridiculous. Also with the amount of calories, cigarettes and alcohol she drinks, I’m surprised she is so under weight and that is where the satire started to frustrate me.

Overall, I was entertained by this book; as a novel it did have its issues and is riddled with chick lit clichés. As a satirical novel, it worked on some levels but most of the time it had to rely on the chick lit elements to help push it through. I didn’t remember much about the movie, except for the fountain scene and Renée Zellweger putting on weight for the role. Which when comparing it to the book doesn’t make sense but on a personal level, I think it was an improvement; she looked fantastic. Overall the book was quirky but the real surprise for me was the wit and irony used throughout the novel; enough to entertain me.

Addition by Toni Jordan

Posted April 15, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Chick Lit / 0 Comments

Addition by Toni JordanTitle: Addition (Goodreads)
Author: Toni Jordan
Published: Sceptre, 2008
Pages: 243
Genres: Chick Lit
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Grace Lisa Vandenburg is obsessed with numbers; she counts everything. Her whole life is centred around numbers; how many banana’s to buy, how many bits of an orange cake to take, how many brushes to take for her hair or even teeth. Everything was organised but then something went wrong and now she survives on disability checks and tutoring. Here only real connection in the world was a portrait of Nikola Tesla; that is until she met Seamus Joseph O’Reilly who changed everything.

Addition is a quirky chick lit novel of predictability but still has a few elements I was not expecting. Firstly the obsession with Tesla meant that there was a lot of talk about this great twentieth-century inventor, which really was the main reason I enjoyed this book.  She talked a lot about Nikola Tesla and I found myself learning some interesting facts that lead to researching more about this great man. Honestly this might annoy people but I love a book that pushes me to explore more.

Grace’s OCD was also handled really well by the author; I was worried it would turn into something similar to The Silver Linings Playbook but I was wrong. Mental health is a difficult subject to write but I like the way Toni Jordan handled Grace’s obsession with numbers. There was a mix of emotions regarding Graces obsessive-compulsive disorder that were explored in the book from misunderstanding, accepting, desire to change, anger and hatred, as well as many more that I would expect Grace to experience while trying to live with an unusual compulsion. I could not imagine just what Grace would really be going through but I do think this might be a pretty faithful to what might happen.

The main focus of Addition is the quirks of Grace and the romance between her and Seamus; here is where everything starts to feel too much like everything I would expect from a chick lit novel. The romance blossoms in a typical funny and emotional way which I admit I was worried about. Seamus really does not understand this obsessive-compulsive disorder and tries to change Grace.  For a while there I thought he would succeed and this would have killed the book completely but then I realised that this was a chick lit novel and that meant there had to be a conflict to force the two characters to make a decision on if they should be together or not.

There was one major problem I had at the start of the book that forces me to wonder if I should bother continuing or not. This was the poor research, two facts in the book near the start of the book (maybe more) that really threw me. Both felt like really stupid mistakes that I don’t think were intentional that put a major dampener on my enjoyment. One was about the Big Ben using Roman numerals IIII instead of IV and the other was when she called Thomas Edison ‘the telephone guy’.

While I did have some issues with Addition, in the end I did end up really enjoying the story a lot more than I anticipated. It was quirky and funny, even if it was completely generic in all the other aspects. I really think the OCD helped this book the most, it was fascinating to see how Grace handled her situation, to the point where I thought there was nothing wrong with her and this wasn’t a mental health issue just a harmless obsession and quirk.

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead

Posted April 6, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Chick Lit / 12 Comments

Seating Arrangements by Maggie ShipsteadTitle: Seating Arrangements (Goodreads)
Author: Maggie Shipstead
Published: Knopf Doubleday, 2012
Pages: 302
Genres: Chick Lit
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Winn Van Meter and his family head for a retreat on the New England island of Waskeke. While this is normally a haven of relaxation for Winn, now it’s overshadowed by the preparation of his daughter’s wedding. A weekend with his family and his daughter’s bridesmaids only days before the big event is never a recipe for the calmness or solitude he is accustomed to in this house.

Part social satire, part chick lit, this is surprisingly intelligent and humorous in between the relationship drama of the family and the women staying with them. I know many people will argue with me about this been classed as a chick lit novel (I know my wife did) but for me it very much is one. This genre normally explores the issues with modern womanhood in a light-hearted and humorous way, exploring the relationships, whether being romantic, family or friends. Seating Arrangements ticks all these books but as my wife tells me the protagonist has to be a woman; in this book, it is narrated by a man but the whole focus of the book is the relationships of his wife and his two daughters so in my opinion I think this book can still be classed as chick lit.

This book is very much character driven; from the family rivalry, past relationships and plenty of gin soaked shenanigans. I would have liked to learn more about Winn’s life; I feel like it is often glossed over and focusing too much on the women in the house. Winn’s wife Biddy is spending all her time organising the perfect wedding, his daughter Daphne pregnant and the bride-to-be is enjoying being treated like a princess leading up to her special day. Then there is Winn’s younger daughter Livia suffering from a heartbreak and also the target for the seduction from the best man, bridesmaid Agatha and reckless flirt who Winn lusts after, plus many other secondary characters that sometimes just feel like filler subplots.

Seating Arrangements borders on the cliché too many times throughout this book; it’s only the social satire elements that seem to help recover the story. I think without these elements this would just turn into a very generic chick lit novel, so I’m pleased to have read something witty and intelligent as well. I will admit there are some elements that could have been explored a little more, but most of them seem to be done perfectly. The heartbreak of Livia wasn’t explored enough for my liking and while I get that she discovered that she no longer loves Teddy, it never felt like a real resolution for that subplot. The relationship between Winn and Agatha is one of the best in the book, it hints at lust and scandal exploring the concept of fidelity, desire and even rejection. It offered a little relief from the overly cuteness of most of the relationships.

Maggie Shipstead manages to explore all different relationship types as well as New England society. Parts of this book really didn’t work for me and I was in constant fear of falling too much into the realm of the cliché but I’m surprised with the way this book turned out. Personally I would like a bit more scandal but in the end this was a light read with some very intelligent aspects that are worth exploring. For lovers of light reading, the satirical elements can be easily overlooked or missed but for people looking for them, you will be delighted with what you find within this book.

Introducing The 2013 Literary Exploration Reading Challenge

Posted December 15, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 52 Comments

logoAs the year starts to come to a close, we readers start to think about what we would like to read next year and for some of us, we look for the reading challenge that excites us the most. As most people know, Literary Exploration tries to explore all different genres in the hope to become a well-rounded reader and even discover something new. So in 2013 we would like to challenge you to explore further.

Instead of increasing the book club to two books a month we decided we wanted people to read what they wanted to read; but we also want people to explore. So we are challenging everyone to dedicate either 12, 24 or 36 books that you would normally read to different genres. We have compiled a list which hopefully will give you a chance to explore literature a little deeper.

It’s real simple; below you will see an easy (12 books), hard (24 books) or insane (36 books) challenge. Each genre links to the Goodreads genre page if you need some suggestions on what to read. We want you to have some fun and explore; hopefully you might find a new genre that peaks your interest. To sign up either join the Literary Exploration book club on Goodreads and talk about your progress with others involved or for the bloggers out there, if you want to add it as part of your blogging experience simply let us know with a link (to your Literary Exploration Challenge page) in the comments below so our readers can see how you are going.

This is the first year doing this and if all goes well we might expand and make it a yearly challenge. If we do decide to do this on a yearly basis and you feel that there are some genres are either too heavily focused on or not mentioned at all, please let me know. The idea of this challenge is to have a well-balanced list of genres and not focusing on one genre more than any others.

Good luck all who decide to join in. I personally am going to go for the 36 book, insane challenge and I’m really looking forward to it. While there are some genres I’m not looking forward to reading, it’s all part of being a literary explorer. What could be wrong with that?

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