Plan Bea – By Hilary Grossman

Rating:

Buy Links:

Paperback              Kindle

Note : Received this book through hellochicklit.com (aimee) blogiversary giveaways.

Synopsis:

We live our entire lives thinking we know those closest to us. But do we ever really? 

On the outside, Annabel O’Conner has it all – the perfect husband, two adorable children, an amazing job, and a mother from hell! Just when she gives up trying to regain her overbearing mother’s love, an unexpected call turns her world around and makes Annabel question everything she believes about her life.

Could falling in love give a cold, stubborn, and selfish woman a second chance to open her heart back up to her family?

Beatrice Buchanan has spent more years than she can remember distancing herself from everyone close to her. She barely has a relationship with her grandchildren. The only time she manages to have a one way conversation with her daughter is during her weekly fifteen-minute commute to the nail salon. When Bea meets Walter on a cruise she realizes there may be more to life than designer clothes, killer handbags, and impressing the ladies at her posh country club.

As the mother and daughter duo team up to plan “Long Island’s wedding of the year” they confront the secrets and lies that have defined them. This humorous emotionally honest women’s contemporary fiction novel will tug at your heartstrings and the twist ending will shock you.

“Although a light read, the subject matter was very sad at times and I found myself choking back tears, but in a good way! It was so authentically heart wrenching yet often very funny too. The characters were so well fleshed out and three dimensional – no one was perfect and no one was fatally flawed – like real life. I thought the twist was genius!” – Meredith Schorr Best Selling Author

My Review:

This was so different than the chick lit I have read till date, and yet so chick-lit-y “in spirit”. For starters, men are not the focal point of drama or conflicts, instead we have a strained mother-daughter relationship at the heart of this book. Anndd… there is a lot of shopping and wedding preps, but for a change we have the young, female protagonist investing her time to shop, celebrate and prep for her mom’s wedding and not her own. Annnddd .. this is a biggie – For a change, we have people pointing out she is whiny and on a self-pity mode. That doesn’t happen too often and usually she goes through the entire book feeling entitled to act whiny and wallow in self-pity.

Beatrice, being the titular character, and with a lot of background information on her to partly explain where her difficult behavior stems from, is definitely the most “interesting” and fleshed out character in the book. In fact, I can even imagine a prequel titled “Bea-fore Plan Bea” chronicling her younger days. So in comparison, I guess it is easy to for Anna’s “virtues” to go a bit unnoticed.  But she does deserve most of the credit to ensure that her bond with her mom doesn’t completely wither away and die – by diligently keeping up with the weekly phone call appointments regardless of how hard it is. Sure, it was hard for Bea too, but it was Anna who was kept in the dark about all the reasons for Bea acting the way she did.

This was an archetypal feel-good book – the sort where you don’t really mind that it gets a bit predictable in the last few pages and some things were easy to guess. My only quibble was that, after a point the whole arc of Bea and Anna confiding in each other about some past nugget of secret began to feel like a clinical planned exercise. After a point, I just knew and expected some new detail to be revealed at every stage of their wedding shopping – be it selecting a cake at a bakery or a table decorations for the venue.  There are a couple of other scenes too, such as a crucial meeting between Anna’s marketing team and a client; that feels sort of stage-managed. It was difficult to imagine them panning out that way in real life. In contrast, some other moments were written pretty well and felt very real. My favorite one was a tiff between Anna and her husband Cole.  It was handled and resolved in a way that, I think, most happy couples who have been married for over a decade would relate to.

The supporting cast of characters is really good too, and all of them come together in the end;  and by the end of the book, I just had a nice, goofy, smile.

Do read this if you are in the mood for something happy and uplifting.

Advertisements

Natalie’s Getting Married – By Rosa Temple

9781942111061Rating:

Kindle
Paperback

*Note: I received this book from the author through Aimee’s blogiversary giveaways.

 Synopsis:

Career minded, Natalie Spencer, had never been in love. She could never understand what all the fuss was about. But when she met Jackson Humphries during Fresher’s Week at university, that all changed.

Utterly infatuated, Natalie quickly discovers the meaning of love and, before she knows it, she’s heading up the aisle – for the first time, that is.

This is a tale about four wedding dresses, a runaway groom and a girl who got so carried away, she couldn’t see true love staring her right in the face.

My Review:

I think I enjoyed the first half of the book a lot more than the second. Though predictable, it was a lot of fun, and who doesn’t like to root for a girl ending up with her college crush?

This is the story of Natalie and the men in her life. When Jackson proposes to her by the end of her University days, she couldn’t have imagined or wished for better. But is he the one? Her mom and dad are happy, her best friend Gabriel seems to be skeptical and Jackson’s mom hates her and feels they are making a mistake by rushing into things. Will their relationship last? Will they make it to the aisle? Is Jackson the one or is it someone else?

There are a lot of cute touches to the story – The whole, magical feel to the dress shop which felt like a nod to the wardrobe door in Narnia, Natalie’s surprise gift at the hen party and even some of the stereotypes like the rich, snooty, future mother-in-law were fun to read.  But as the book progressed, I became less sympathetic towards Natalie. It felt like watching someone make a repetitive trainwreck of decisions. Her resolve to “focus” on her career and stay away from men lasted only till she met the next hot or considerate guy. In her own words, I did find her to be a bit of a flake in the end. I found it ironic that for all the talk about her best friend Bella not sticking to one guy for a long time and being projected as the more “shallow” one of the two, she ended up sounding more worldly-wise and mature in the end. One more thing which I felt could have been better is build-up to some conversations on a couple of occasions when Natalie has a “How can you say that about me?!” righteous outbursts. I couldn’t connect to them and it made her come across as a ditz. On the other hand, Gabriel could have really used more animated moments. I mean, I get it, he was a rock and very, very mature, but whenever I pictured him while reading I always felt like I was listening and watching someone with infinite patience, no anger and amazing perceptibility when it comes to people. Oh well, what am I complaining about?! That’s Gabe for you ❤ ❤ ❤

There were a couple of other things which worked for me in the beginning but I felt they were overused and ceased to be funny later on. For example, Natalie’s mom crying and fainting spells whenever she is happy or excited. That continued throughout the book and was a bit of overkill. If I do have to pick one character who was my favorite from the secondary cast, it is probably Liam. Without giving away much,  I will just say that I really liked the way he was written and he shined in the page-time that he got – right from his thoughtful side to his anger and bitterness, everything felt apt and relatable.

So yes, there were some parts that I thought could have been better. But if I have to sum it up, it was a fun and ideal chick lit read. I finished it in a few hours and thoroughly enjoyed reading it.