Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Killer Instinct (Early Book Review)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 10:45 PM with 1 comment

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Killer Instinct

Author: S.E. Green
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Number of Pages: 272
Release Dates: May 6, 2014

Synopsis from Goodreads:

She’s not evil, but she has certain... urges.

Lane is a typical teenager. Loving family. Good grades. Afterschool job at the local animal hospital. Martial arts enthusiast. But her secret obsession is studying serial killers. She understands them, knows what makes them tick.

Why?

Because she might be one herself.

Lane channels her dark impulses by hunting criminals—delivering justice when the law fails. The vigilantism stops shy of murder. But with each visceral rush the line of self-control blurs.
And then a young preschool teacher goes missing. Only to return... in parts.
When Lane excitedly gets involved in the hunt for “the Decapitator,” the vicious serial murderer that has come to her hometown, she gets dangerously caught up in a web of lies about her birth dad and her own dark past. And once the Decapitator contacts Lane directly, Lane knows she is no longer invisible or safe. Now she needs to use her unique talents to find the true killer’s identity before she—or someone she loves—becomes the next victim...


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MY THOUGHTS:

I'm going to be honest up front. This review is going to get rant-y. 
I promise not to give away any major spoilers, but there will be some minor spoilers ahead.

So stop me if you've heard this one before: A person grows up with certain violent "urges" that may or may not stem from some kind of tragic event they witnessed when they were a toddler--say 3 years-old--but they learn to harness those urges by becoming a kind of vigilante killer that only goes after those that really deserve it. The majority of you will immediately recognize this as the premise to Dexter...well it is also the premise to this book. I'm going to guess that somewhere around 99% of the reviews that get written about Killer Instinct will mention Dexter in some capacity. Why? Because this book flat-out steals its premise from the show. I felt absolutely disgusted the entire time by what a blatant rip-off this book is, and finished it only so I could write this review (the fact that it was under 300 pages helped). 

A comparison:

  • Vigilante Killer

Killer Instinct (KI): Lane says, "If it is my destiny to be a killer, I'm going to need a type. And today decides that my type will be criminals--specifically, those who have managed to avoid punishment." 

Dexter: Only kills those who have killed--usually other serial killers. 


  

  • The Ritual
KI: Lane says, "And then I'll remind him about all the innocents he'd harmed. I'd detail their murders for him. I'd make him relive his sins right before I'd make him suffer the same way he made them. It would be the most perfect retribution of all time."

Dexter: Sets up a "kill room" where he displays pictures of those the person on his table has harmed so that they know exactly why they are about to die. 




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  • Law Enforcement/Family:
 
KI: Lane's mother and stepfather are in law enforcement. In this case they both work for the FBI. 

Dexter: Dexter's adopted father, Harry, was the police officer that found him and taught him the "code" in which Dexter lives by. Dexter's sister, Deb, works for Miami Metro as a detective, and Dexter, himself, works for Miami Metro as a blood-splatter analyst. 

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  • Little baddies 
KI: Lane goes after a woman who gets off a drunk-driving manslaughter charge by claiming that her car was stolen. Lane goes after a man who takes money from families hoping to get loved ones into the country only to keep them hostage in a warehouse before selling them into slavery.

Dexter: Goes after a man who got out of a drunk-driving manslaughter charge. Dexter goes after a couple who hold illegal aliens in their warehouse before selling them into slavery.

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  • The Major Baddie:
KI: The main baddie is called The Decapitator. He chops up body parts, shrink wraps them, paints the fingernails, and leaves the body parts in various places for the cops to find. It isn't long before the killer is contacting Lane directly. Is he somehow tied to her past?

Dexter: The main baddie in season 1 is called The Ice-Truck Killer he...chops up body parts, drains the blood, paints the fingernails, and leaves the body parts in various places for the cops to find. It isn't long before the killer is contacting Dexter directly. Is he somehow tied to his past?



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I could go on, but I know you all get the idea. I can understand wanting to emulate a show as awesome as Dexter (especially the first 4 seasons). I can. It was so different and original when it first came out. The writing was smart and witty, Deb was hilarious, and Dexter really did usher in a generation of the anti-hero (alongside The Sopranos and Breaking Bad). I can certainly understand wanting to bring the essence of that show to the YA crowd while also making the anti-hero a teen girl. It's a brilliant idea--maybe not the most original--but still very cool. BUT you have to make it your own. This could have been really good, but it just borrowed way too much from the show. 

Even the parts that weren't lifted directly from Dexter were weird and disjointed. Lane, even though she "doesn't feel", is somewhat obsessed with her boss at the vet clinic. She eventually starts kind of dating his younger brother, Zach. Zach is a recovering alcoholic who has a crazy ex-girlfriend who tries to intimidate Lane which was just weird. It just felt like filler because the book is a relatively slim, and it was completely unnecessary to have this second crazy girl in the book. 

Another major problem I had with this book is how Lane slut-shames her half-sister, Daisy, every chance she gets. Lane calls her a slut repeatedly through the book because Daisy isn't shy about giving blow jobs to the boys she is dating when Lane, herself, forces Zach's hand in between her legs in the school library to get off. Lane even at one point says, "Why do people find that act [sex] a challenge to admit or say in everyday conversation? Especially between two people who have participated in said act." Good point, Lane, and healthy, too. So why is your sister a slut because she, too, enjoys sex and can unabashedly talk about it? Furthermore, she is constantly talking about how she just can't deal with her sister, but Daisy doesn't really do anything to show how she is so "annoying."

Which brings me to my final point: the book is mostly "tell" not "show." There are obviously some action scenes. But the majority of the book is: and then this happened, and then this, etc. The writing felt juvenile for such a mature topic. This really goes without saying, but this is definitely NOT for the younger crowd.

What I did like about the book: 1. The writing is quickly paced and 2. I didn't immediately guess who The Decapitator was. I suspected, but did fall for the red herrings throughout, so there's that.

If you've never seen Dexter, you may enjoy this, but even then I just cannot recommend this. It's a bummer as I really was looking forward to this one. Dexter is obviously one of my favorite shows, so a teen girl Dexter was an exciting idea, but I wasn't expecting a rehash of the first season.

*I received an advanced reader's copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange of an honest review.*

*All quotes were taken from an uncorrected proof that may be changed in the final copy.*

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (49) Girl on a Wire

Tuesday, April 22, 2014 11:19 PM with 12 comments
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we are eagerly anticipating. Click the link to see the original post plus a whole slew of links to other blogs. After you read this one, of course.



17838538 Girl on a Wire

Authors: Gwenda Bond
Publisher: Skyscape
Release Date: October 14, 2014

Link to Goodreads:

A ballerina, twirling on a wire high above the crowd. Horses, prancing like salsa dancers. Trapeze artists, flying like somersaulting falcons. And magic crackling through the air. Welcome to the Cirque American!

Sixteen-year-old Jules Maroni’s dream is to follow in her father’s footsteps as a high-wire walker. When her family is offered a prestigious role in the new Cirque American, it seems that Jules and the Amazing Maronis will finally get the spotlight they deserve. But the presence of the Flying Garcias may derail her plans. For decades, the two rival families have avoided each other as sworn enemies.

Jules ignores the drama and focuses on the wire, skyrocketing to fame as the girl in a red tutu who dances across the wire at death-defying heights. But when she discovers a peacock feather—an infamous object of bad luck—planted on her costume, Jules nearly loses her footing. She has no choice but to seek help from the unlikeliest of people: Remy Garcia, son of the Garcia clan matriarch and the best trapeze artist in the Cirque.

As more mysterious talismans believed to possess unlucky magic appear, Jules and Remy unite to find the culprit. And if they don’t figure out what’s going on soon, Jules may be the first Maroni to do the unthinkable: fall.

   
Why I'm Excited:

Let's see: a circus, a feuding family, star-crossed lovers, trapeze artists, mysterious talismans. That cover! Absolutely everything about this sounds amazing. I haz now, please?

What are you waiting for on this Wednesday? Link me up! 

Hey lovely GFC and new followers, please follow me by Bloglovin as we all know Google Reader has gone/is going by the wayside. (I like to follow back, so please let me know if you're a new follower--and leave a link!) Thank you!!!




Monday, April 21, 2014

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To All the Boys I've Loved Before

Author: Jenny Han
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Number of Pages: 368
Release Date: April 15, 2014

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Lara Jean's love life goes from imaginary to out of control in this heartfelt novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series.

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them... all at once?

Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren't love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she's written. One for every boy she's ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean's love life goes from imaginary to out of control.


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MY THOUGHTS:

I have been ridiculously excited to read this book from the moment I heard of it. I was checking EW like a fiend hoping it would pop up, only to resign myself to the fact that I was just going to have to wait for this one to actually be released. Thankfully, the library gods were smiling down on me and this came in for me super quickly--like, the day after it was released--and I happily spent my 3 day weekend with it (and some play-off hockey).

Honestly, I'm not even sure why I was so excited for this one. I only moderately enjoyed the first two books in the "Summer" series and down-right LOATHED the 3rd and final book, but I'm loving the Burn for Burn series that she writes with Siobhan Vivian. I think what really drew me in was how much the synopsis reminded me of teen-me. I was a letter writing fool when I was in Jr. high/high school...and, ahem, maybe even into college. I thrived on my broken hearts--who knows? I was such a weirdo--and loved, LOVED, to write long, soul-pouring letters to whomever happened to be my current crush/recent ex-boyfriend (inevitably the same person. Um, I tended not to like a guy until after we broke up). So hearing that this book was about a girl whose secret love letters--that should have never seen the light of day--accidentally get mailed to their recipients had teen-me cringing and adult-me crying: Gimme, gimme!

Lara Jean is a half-white/half-Korean teen who lives with her single father and two sisters. Her older sister, Margot, is the perfect one. She has long been the maternal figure in the household. After the girls' mother passed away, Margot took care of her younger sisters and efficiently ran the home, but now she is leaving to go to college all the way over in Scotland. Lara Jean, a junior, is terrified that she isn't going to be able to fill her big sister's shoes, especially with her 9 year-old sister, Kitty. Kitty is the bold one. She holds long grudges and says whatever is on her mind. Lara Jean often has to remind herself that she is all that Kitty has now.

The one thing all three girls have in common is their love for the next-door neighbor, Josh. Back in middle school Lara Jean was nursing a massive crush on Josh that she had to squash when he began dating her sister, Margot. Knowing how much Margot has always sacrificed for the family, Lara couldn't begrudge her sister's happiness and slipped into the role of third wheel. She is surprised when Margot breaks-up with Josh before leaving for Scotland, explaining to Lara that their mother always told her to never go to college with a boyfriend. Lara is sure that nothing will change between her and Josh, even with her sister's absence, until she discovers that the hatbox her mother gave her is missing...and all the love letters she has ever written that where in the box have been "mysteriously" mailed out. Including the one for Josh.

Over the years Lara has "loved" five boys: Josh; Peter, who is part of the group she used to hang out with alongside her former best friend, Genevieve, the school's queen bee; and 3 others. The synopsis is a bit misleading as I thought all five of the boys would show up, but that's not really the case. One letter gets returned to her through the mail, so we never know what happened to that guy. One guy ends up being gay. They have a brief conversation. The final guy presumably gets his letter, but there is no confrontation. The book really focuses on Josh and Peter which creates the love triangle Han is so very fond of. 

See, when Josh confronts Lara about the letter he received, she immediately blurts out that she is dating someone just to save face. When he asks who, Peter happens to be walking by and she makes a split-second decision and says it is Peter. Peter, for his part, has recently broken up with Genevieve and decides to go along with the charade in order to make Gen jealous. Soon Lara finds that Peter may not be the smug, conceited boy she imagined him to be, and Josh is making it known that he doesn't approve of this new relationship at all. Because he is jealous?

There was a lot that I enjoyed about To All the Boys. I loved the fact that the book isn't all romance. The sisters--known as the Song girls after their mother's maiden name--had wonderfully complex, real relationships. I love books that focus on sisterhood. I wish we could have seen a little more from Margot, but even abroad, her relationship with Lara was clear. I also really liked Kitty--even when I didn't like her. 


I loved Lara and her personality. She really did remind me of teen-me as the book went along. I was definitely a late-blooming romantic when I was her age, so I connected with her throughout the story. I also really liked both Peter and Josh. They were different characters which I appreciated. Josh really has the whole boy-next-door thing going for him. I know some people will hate the fact that she likes her sister's boyfriend, but my sister and I loved the same boy when I was in 8th grade and she was in 12th. The boy in question was in 10th and we bonded over our mutual attraction (we got to stay at his house for two weeks when our parents were out of town which was so awesome--and spent the whole summer with him and his sister). I know it's different as he was never "hers", but my point is sometimes sisters fall for the same guy. Josh is sweet and caring and loves the whole family right back from Lara's father to little Kitty. I loved getting to know Peter, too, who does come off as a bit arrogant at first, but becomes more and more likable as they pretend to be together. I also liked Lara's one female friend, Chris, who is like an alley cat who makes her way in and out of Lara's life.

What I wasn't thrilled about was the way the story ended. I knew this was the first book of the series, but I wasn't expecting the ending to be such a non-ending. It ended on a cliff-hanger (not really the right word as nothing is REALLY at stake) in a way that contemporaries rarely do. Also, who was behind the letters getting mailed out was SO obvious, it made me question Lara's intelligence that she didn't immediately know who it was. 

Overall, though, I did enjoy To All the Boys I've Loved Before. Despite not really being about 5 separate confrontations/boys and ending on such a hook, I loved the look at sisterhood and really liked all of the main characters. I'm excited to see where the next book takes us. However, I already know that this is a book I'll have to reread before I pick up the sequel as there is NO way the characters are going to stay with me for the next year. This book is pretty cute and fun, but nothing about it is very memorable. Recommended if you like YA contemporaries with a focus on romance and sisters.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Weekly Rewind 4.19.14

Saturday, April 19, 2014 12:01 AM with 24 comments




Weekly Rewind

The new books on my shelves, the links I loved, and my week in a nutshell.




Since I started this blog I've participated in Stacking the Shelves, which is a weekly feature hosted by Tyngas Reviews, and I'm going to continue linking to that meme. Throughout my student teaching semester I was using my weekend post as a way to let people know what's going on in my life, so I've decided to rename my weekend post because this feature is more personal than just what books I've received. The Weekly Rewind will be about what's going on with me and my blog, as well as about the books I've added to my shelves, and the links I've enjoyed over the past week from other blogs and the interwebs in general.  


My Life and Blog

My Life: I'd like to start off by thanking everyone who stopped by my Weekly Rewind post last week that wished me well and that talked about the school stabbing that hit so close to home for me. I know that some people only care about the books I received this week and don't even bother reading the personal parts of this post, but I'm really touched by all of those who do. Last week was a rough one for me, but it truly helped to hear from all of my blogging friends. You really are so awesome and I appreciate each and every one of you.

So, this week was much better. I subbed a full day on Tuesday and a half day on Wednesday. I skipped Thursday because I needed to go into the office and all the schools in the city were closed on Friday for Good Friday/Spring Break. Most of the schools had to eat away the majority of SB this year due to all the snow days, so I'm sure the students are all happy to get a three-day weekend. I know I am. My graduation ceremony is next Sunday (even though I graduated in Dec) and my parents are coming up for it. I usually only see them once a year--and ALWAYS at either their place or my sister's, so I have some MAJOR cleaning to do this weekend. Lol.

The weather is finally getting nicer. I had to laugh at myself because all my WY friends were posting on FB about the snowy weather they were receiving while it was, like, 80 degrees here. I was feeling so smug until it snowed here 2 days later. The weather is supposed to get nicer again by the weekend. Oh, Spring.

Finally, Happy Hockey Play-offs to all you fans out there. This is my favorite time of year. I'm a rabid Colorado Avalanche fan, but just adore hockey play-offs period. That's pretty much all that will be on the TV for the next couple of months. 

My Blog:
  • Sunday: An early review of What I Thought Was True. This is the newest from the author of My Life Next Door--a book I, and many of you, I know, absolutely adored. I really enjoyed this one, too. It is different from MLND, but I liked it just as much. 
  • Tuesday: A release day review of The Geography of You and Me. The latest from Jennifer E. Smith was perfectly cute and very pleasant, but kind of...vanilla. I wanted more.
  • Wednesday: I'm waiting on Get Even which contains two of my favorite things: prep schools and a murder mystery.
  • Thursday: I reminisce on my love of the genre and went a little crazy on my recommendations during my discussion post: A Look at Chick-Lit

New Books: I have lots of pretty titles to share with you this week, so without further adieu. I hope you all are having splendid weekends!

For Review

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Out of Control by Sarah Alderson
Ms. Alderson contacted me to see if I'd be interested in reading her latest. Of course I jumped at the chance! I haven't read anything by her yet, but I cannot wait for The Sound and this one about a teen girl who witnesses a murder and then escapes with a car thief sounds so good. Thanks, Sarah! 
The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegel
It is Thursday afternoon as I put together this post, and I just finished this one this morning. It was a pretty solid and cute read. While the believability factor gets stretched pretty thin at times, the author writes some truly introspective passages about girlhood that are fairly impressive period, but especially for a male author.
Catch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson
A normal teen girl agrees to be the girlfriend of a former child star/current PR nightmare. I wonder if they fall in love? JK.
The Taking by Kimberly Derting
A girl loses three years of her life due to an alien abduction. I loved the first two books in the Body Finder series (I wasn't crazy about the third and STILL need to read the finale), so I have high hopes.
Tease by Amanda Maciel
I've read the first chapter of this and am pretty intrigued by this story told in the first person by a girl who is accused of causing another girl's suicide.
Exile by Kevin Emerson
The premise of a teen girl managing a rock band reminds me of the book Five Flavors of Dumb which I didn't really enjoy. We'll see how this one goes. 
Sleep No More by Aprilynne Pike
A modern day Oracle tries to stop a serial killer. How amazing does that sound? I'm trying not to get my hopes up seeing as I couldn't even finish the author's last book, but I'm definitely excited to give this a try. 
In the Shadows by Kiesten White and Jim DiBartolo
Per GR: "A spellbinding story of love, mystery, and dark conspiracy, told in an alternating narrative of words and pictures." Yep, sold.
A teen girl is determined to break up her sister and the finance she is convinced is wrong for her.
Saving Lucas Biggs by Melissa de los Santos
This MG novel follows a 13 year-old girl with the power to time travel who goes back in time to "save" the mean judge who has sentenced her father. Isn't that cover gorgeous? I love it.
Summer Love by Jill Santopolo
This romantic "choose your own adventure" sounds pretty cute, but the e-arc just isn't formatted right for what it is (like all CYOAs, it tells you to go to page whatever...but there are no page numbers). I just don't have the patience to try to figure it out, so I'll look out for it when it is released.

What I snagged from the library

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SO EXCITED. I've been dying to get my hands on this book and was so pleasantly surprised by how quickly I got it from my library (like, for real, the day after it was released).
Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
I have to admit that some middling reviews and star-ratings have dampened my excitement for this one a little bit. I'm still excited to read this--but that is the problem with these over-hyped books. If you aren't one of the first to read them, you almost can't help but be disappointed when the reviews start rolling in. (Don't get me wrong--we can't ALWAYS be the first to get a book.) Hopefully I'll be surprised and will still love it. We'll see. 
I'm listening to this short story collection on CD in my car. I love the celebrity narrators--although it is mostly the author himself--but the stories are definitely hit or miss.
Half Bad by Sally Green
This one has been pretty polarizing amongst my GR and blogger friends. I'm certainly curious but just based on the pure number of arcs I have to get to for the remainder of April--not to mention May!--this one might not happen quite yet. 

Link Love

Blog Love:
  • Reviews from a Bookworm posted a thoughtful discussion of Glorified Abusive Relationships in Books.
  • Parents will especially appreciate this joint post by Jen and April over at The Starry-Eyed Revue about Reading at the Kids' Table. They discuss instilling the love of books into their respective little girls which is truly just so important. My mom had/has a huge love for reading which she passed down to me. I can't remember a time in my life where books didn't play a HUGE role. 
  • Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings posted an oh-so-true post about the 8 Ways in Which Book Blogging is Like Grad School.
Around the Interwebs:
Upcoming Reviews

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Well that's it for me this week. Feel free to leave a link to whatever weekend post you do (Stacking the Shelves, In My Mailbox, etc). I love to see what books people have recently snagged and especially enjoy hearing about my fellow bloggers' weeks. I hope you are all having a fabulous weekend!




Thursday, April 17, 2014

Discussion Post: A Look at Chick-Lit

Thursday, April 17, 2014 12:37 AM with 16 comments




Discussion Post:
A Look at Chick-Lit



A couple of weeks ago, I discussed the fact that I never read NA. Ever. I explained the tropes that drive me crazy and so on and so forth. The discussion can be found here. My original plan for the post was a side by side comparison of NA with chick-lit, but almost immediately realized that not only would the post be way too long (and I do understand you all have other things going on in your lives), but that a comparison wasn't the way to go as (again) I've never actually read any NA. Besides, chick-lit holds a special place in my heart, so it deserves its own post.

As I've stated in the past, I got my BA in English several years ago. After I graduated from college, I got a job at a small bookstore and immediately dived into books I didn't HAVE to read. Being an English major pretty much takes away any pleasure reading. I would still do a little bit, but when you are giving huge Victorian novels and Shakespeare and Faulkner and Chaucer and all those other dead white men's novels and told to read them in a week (if you are lucky) and, oh yeah, write a paper about them, too, the desire to read dissipates. It just does. So finally getting out of school and then getting a job at a bookstore was like a dream come true. 
 
The books that pulled me the most was this new genre labelled chick-lit which were so different from the books I'd been forced to read.  New authors were just emerging. The ones that quickly became my favorites included: Meg Cabot, Sophie Kinsella, Jennifer Weiner, Jane Green, Sarah Mlynowski, and Emily Giffin. The now defunct Red Dress Ink Publishing Company were putting out one or two new novels a month. I couldn't get enough of these candy-colored covers and their deliciously fun stories. Besides the above named authors--whose books I still seek out today--the chick-lit genre quickly developed its own tropes. Because that is just what happens when a genre gets popular.

Quick rant: I absolutely hate the term chick-lit which completely undermines these writers as the skillful authors they are who should be given the same respect as we give all authors. It is disgusting that books that are aimed at women are slapped with bright pink covers and belittled. This could be a post on it's own, and since this post is supposed to be a joyful one--mini rant over. For now.

Chick-lit genre tropes:
  • Girl in her early 20s, usually just out of college and in some entry level position
  • Said girl loses her job
  • Said girl gets dumped by her long-term boyfriend
  • Said girl finds love again, but only after a series of hilarious missteps


Is chick-lit predictable? Of course it is, BUT there is just something to be said about the genre. Besides, just like any other genre, you have to weed through some sub-par books to find the gems. A good chick-lit book has a lot in common with those cute, contemporary YA books so many of us are fond of. In fact, it seems like the cute YA book has all but replaced chick-lit as a genre. When chick-lit first became popular the YA genre was almost non-existent. Sure there was Judy Bloom and The Sweet Valley High books, but it was nothing like what it is today.

What I love about the chick-lit genre:

  • The early 20s is an interesting time in a woman's life. Shit is getting real. You no longer have the safety net that is college. You are completely responsible for your life. You probably have a job and an apartment (which means you also have bills and responsibilities).
  • The stories are fluffy and fun. Not only are they fun, they are also usually funny.
  • There is always a happy ending. Even if the girl doesn't get the guy (although she almost always does), you leave the heroine completely assured that life is going to continue to get better and better for her.


The thing that stuck out the most to me in the comments was when the commenter would say that they don't read adult books period. While I lean toward YA, I still pick up books by the above named authors (who are really writing more "women's lit" now), and will still give new up-and-coming chick-lit authors a try. (I also pick the occasional adult mystery or thriller--like Gone Girl--and the occasional adult memoir or non-fiction book, too. There are just so many books out there to limit yourself to a single genre.)

Here are some of my favorites:


Workplace

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Fashionistas by Lynn Messina
A behind-the-scenes look at a fashion magazine. Full of scheming, back-stabbing espionage. 
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
The beloved author of Eleanor & Park and Fangirls debut novel was this work-place romance full of missed connections and two friends exchanging hilarious emails. 
Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella
This book. I love this funny, fluffy story that follows a sweet girl named Emma who finds out that the man she spilled ALL her secrets to on a turbulence-filled flight is actually the CEO of her company. 

Sisters

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In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner
Sisters Rose and Maggie have never had much in common, but after a major betrayal and forced co-habitation, the two begin to heal.
The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
It's kind of a stretch to call this one chick-lit, but it shares a spirit. Three adult sisters find themselves back in their family home after separate incidents. They are nick-named the "weird sisters" by their Shakespearean professor father after the witches in MacBeth.
The Solomon Sisters Wise Up by Melissa Senate
Three sisters find themselves back in their father's house (sensing a theme?) for various reasons. This is a fun, quick read from the aforementioned Red Dress Ink.
She Myself and I by Whitney Gaskell
Three sisters try to support one another while one is going through a divorce, one is pregnant, and the youngest, wild one starts an affair with a married man. 

Friends

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Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
There are usually some pretty strong opinions about this book (and its companion Something Blue) that follows long-term best friends Darcy and Rachel. Emily Giffin's writing is superb. While I haven't loved her last couple of offerings, her writing in this one, especially, is second to none.
J.A.P. Chronicles  by Isabel Rose
Follows the lives of 7 women who once went to an elite Jewish camp as children. 
Huge helpings of Southern charm in a story that follows a stubborn women, her group of friends, and her daughter. 
Fishbowl by Sarah Mlynowski
Three young strangers share an apartment for the summer and are forced to join together after a small fire erupts in their apartment.

Mystery

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The Pact by Jennifer Sturman
This is the first of a four-book series that follows a girl named Rachel Benjamin. I was so bummed when Red Dress Ink went out of business and this series ceased to be.
Size 12 is Not Fat by Meg Cabot
This series follows former pop-star Heather Wells (a hybrid of Britney Spears and Debbie Gibson) who now works at an imaginary New York City university in the "Death Dorm."
Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner
A self-professed regular, "grubby" mom stumbles on the dead body of one of the perfect mothers who regularly snubbed her. This one is my favorite from Ms. Weiner.
Love You to Death by Melissa Senate
A young woman scrambles to clear her name after her ex-boyfriend is found dead and two of her other old boyfriends claim brushes with murder, too.

Grad School 

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Monkey Business by Sarah Mlynowski
Follows 4 students who are getting their Masters in Business.
Testing Kate by Whitney Gaskell
Follows a woman in her late 30s who decides to quit her job, break-up with her long-term boyfriend, and move to New Orleans to tackle law school.
After her smug ex-boyfriend tells her she will never get into graduate school in England, a young woman decides to prove him wrong.


Purely Fun and Swoon Worthy

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Jemima J  by Jane Green
A young, English woman who has always been overweight and is hopelessly in love with a man at her work, transforms herself and flies to California. I adore this novel. 
Boy Next Door by Meg Cabot
The "Boy" series by Ms. Cabot includes this and Boy Meets Girl and Every Boy Has One. All 3 are epistolary novels that are written mostly in emails. So cute.
Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
Two words: Mark Darcy. 
Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella
A woman in her late 20s wakes up in the hospital and is shocked to find that she is perfectly groomed and married. As she tries to piece together the last 3 years of her suddenly perfect life she realizes that perfection may be overrated. 


As always, I'd love to hear from you. Are you a fan of the chick-lit genre? Or do you think it is all meaningless fluff? Any recommendations? Let me know!