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When he applied for his job, Lincoln didn’t know that “internet security officer” meant “email snooper.” He thought he’d be doing something cool at the newspaper, something to brag about, not writing citations for forwarding chain emails. He doesn’t enjoy his job, not at all. Not until emails from Beth and Jennifer start filling up his folder of flagged messages.

Beth and Jennifer send emails to each other about everythingexcept work. It’s a direct violation of company policy, and Lincoln knows he should give them written warnings, but he just can’t – then how would he keep up with their witty conversations? It isn’t long before he starts falling for Beth, but how would he ever explain how he knows her?

I swear, only Rainbow Rowell can make me fall for an email-snooper who, at 28 years old, still lives with his mother. And not only that, he’s been pining over his high school girlfriend for almost a decade, and his only friends are the people he playsDungeons & Dragons with on the weekends. Somehow, when Rainbow writes a character like this, he’s endearing, not creepy.

The story is so unique, unlike anything I’ve read recently (or maybe ever). It’s not your average chick-lit. In fact, it might not be chick-lit at all. It took a little while to get into, and the ending wrapped up a little too quickly for my taste, but overall it was a very good book, a very quick read, and I would highly recommend to anybody who likes quirky characters. Oh, and it’s a definite must for fans of Rainbow Rowell’s other novels.

Final rating: ★★★★☆

It was easy to love your idea of someone – to fall hard for their very best self. The question was whether, once you had to spend some time living with their worst self, you could bear to be with them anymore.

Truly | Ruthie Knox

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I’m not sure what I expected from Truly. All I know is I felt like I had to read it… and I was thrilled when the publisher approved my request. I’ll be honest – the only reason I even wanted to read this book is because the main character is a Wisconsin transplant living in New Jersey. (I’m also a Wisconsin transplant living in New Jersey, so I felt some camaraderie with May from the beginning.) But the story was so, so good even without the little stabs of nostalgia from reading about midwest living.

May wasn’t a big fan of the east coast even before her boyfriend’s disastrous, insulting, inebriated, very public proposal. It didn’t help that the whole disaster (shrimp fork stabbing and all) was caught on video and immediately went viral. It didn’t help that she got mugged and ended up stranded in Manhattan with nothing but a $5 bill and a Metro card to her name. It certainly didn’t help that when she found herself at a Packers bar in the middle of the day, there wasn’t a single person who looked midwest nice.

Ben was still reeling from the end of his marriage and the collapse of his cooking career. He’d once owned a successful restaurant with his wife, been part of a huge cookbook franchise, been on his way to great things, and now he had a pile of money from the divorce settlement and not much else. The stress from owning a restaurant, and from constantly fighting with his wife, had made him angry and closed off. He was done with emotions, thank you very much. He’d prefer to be alone.

So what happens when fearlessly optimistic May strikes up a conversation with the biggest crankypants she’s ever met? Not a lot, until Ben’s friend bets him that he can’t even pretend to be nice. As Ben makes an effort to help out a fellow Wisconsinite, his carefully constructed walls start falling down.

This book was so good. The character development, the plot development, even the side characters – everything is perfectly written. May’s sister, her parents, Ben’s family, everybody is a fully fleshed out character. It’s awesome to read something, especially an uncorrected proof that’s so well-written and well-developed. I stayed up late reading this book the day I started it. Then I got up early to read more before work. Then I came home from work and read until I finished. It’s that good.

Is the second book out yet? Can I just buy everything Ruthie Knox has ever written?

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the ARC.

Final rating: 

ARC review: The Bitches of Brooklyn by Rosemary Harris

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I really, really don’t like to give negative reviews. Especially one star reviews. Because, you know, I don’t want to deter potential readers just because something wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. Usually I’ll throw a book in the DNF pile before rating one star. But the thing is, the one star option was put there for a reason, and occasionally you have to use it.

The Bitches of Brooklyn starts out well enough. Five lifelong friends head out to Cape Cod for their annual weekend away, leaving behind husbands, children, work, etc to focus on their friendship and themselves for a couple days. Four friends arrive. The fifth sends a note saying she’s not coming. Oh, and a message – “I’ve run off with one of your men.” What ensues is each woman doubting her marriage/relationship and secretly believing that her significant other has left her for her friend. To make matters worse, none of the women are able to get in touch with their partners. Would Abby really run off with one of their men? Would their husbands/partners really do that to them? Who is the least trustworthy of them? Who is having the most problems in their relationship?

The initial premise is fine. It’s everything else that’s awful. The Bitches of Brooklyn could have been a deep and meaningful novel about women really analyzing their lives and the way they interact with their partners, and delving into the true nature of their friendships, but it wasn’t. (What did I expect, with a title like this?) It was a silly little fluffy novel where the women do stupid things like break into the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens or take a several hour break to have a leisurely dinner while their lives are falling to pieces.

Abby is the only character who stands out. (Well, Abby and Tina. Tina only because I love Bob’s Burgers and I kept envisioning Tina Belcher as an older, married woman.) The rest of the women run together, to the point where I can barely remember their names, and I just finished this book last night. Abby only stands out because she doesn’t show up to the weekend getaway, so she’s separate from everything that’s going on.

The writing is awful – I know I was reading an uncorrected proof, but COME ON. I would be embarrassed to hand out ARCs in this condition. I would say that at least half of the punctuation was missing. Many sentences are unattributed to any characters, and since the characters all have the same voice, it’s impossible to know who’s speaking. The mystery is laughable, and several plot points are brought about with no resolution. (Example: the dead girl at the train station.) I had difficulty finishing this book. I nearly threw it in the DNF pile on more than one occasion.

I’m not sure that I can recommend this book to anyone. I feel like if there’s an audience for it, it’s very limited. Flip through the book prior to buying it to make sure that the punctuation and editing errors have been fixed.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC.

Final rating: ★☆☆☆☆