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Mad Love by Nick Spalding

Mad Love by Nick SpaldingMad Love by Nick Spalding
Published by Lake Union Publishing on December 6th 2016
Genres: Romance
Pages: 316
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
four-stars

Can two people who have never met make a marriage work? Popular dating site Sociality thinks so, and is marrying London lad Adam to California girl Jessica to prove it.

What better way to show that your ‘love algorithms’ work than to put two complete strangers together in an expensive publicity stunt? But, as livewire Jess and lazybones Adam quickly discover, just because a computer says you’re the perfect match, it doesn’t make it so!

Two million Sociality subscribers and the media are following the happy couple’s progress, and they have to make a go of it or they’ll lose everything, look like idiots, and destroy Sociality’s reputation. But can the mismatched pair, who seem to be constantly at each other’s throats, put their differences aside and work their way into each other’s hearts?

Nick Spalding, bestselling author of Fat Chance and Bricking It, will make you cry with laughter at this story of marital warfare—complete with sinking boats, badly aimed flatulence, well aimed tennis balls and some very suggestive pastry.

I seriously love Nick Spadling. There have been only one book that was a miss for me so far. The other ones have been hilarious though. In “Mad Love” Spalding takes a look at a man (Adam) and woman (Jessica) who agree to get married via a dating website (Sociality). With the promise of a new flat that they can call their own and a split of thousands of pounds Adam and Jessica are trying their best to give their marriage a go. But they both realize that when one tends to fib (lie people) on their dating profile, that Sociality’s algorithm may be wrong about what a perfect match they should be.

Adam works as a video game journalist. I was going to say something about ethics in gaming, but that is bringing bad memories up for me, so let me say that Adam is not an ass. He is currently living in a place with a lot of flatmates and a cross eyed rat, so I can see why he would leap on being married to Jessica when he finds out about her. The beginning depicting Adam waking up and going to a video game con was hilarious. I just cracked up. Spalding always does a great job with the guy POV in these books.

Jessica is an American living in London trying to get her masters in Nutrition (I am to lazy to look that up to make sure that is accurate). She is also working at a strip club as a bartender. Once again, Jessica’s POV had me laughing at so many times in this book.

When Adam and Jessica agree to their marriage and realize it means that Sociality’s owner is going to be up in their faces for the next several months, you realize that both of them are trying to put their best face forward until it turns into a War of the Roses thing that the book did a great job with.

The only misstep I will say that happens, that really is what besides the ending made me knock a star from this book, is that Spalding gives us insight into why Adam was so focused on staying married to Jessica. I maybe rolled my eyes a bit. It felt like it came out of nowhere since there are no hints to this during Adam’s POV that Spalding could have at least hinted at so we could see what secret Adam was keeping.

The writing was great. Spalding does a great job of depicting relationships (see Love From Both Sides) and he has a great voice for both male and female characters. He chooses to tell the story from both Adam and Jessica’s POV with each chapter beginning with a question and answer they responded to on the Sociality website. I laughed so hard many times I started howling. There are just some scenes I don’t want to spoil for you. But let me just say, the scene with them getting married. It was inspired.

The book setting switches between London and Jessica’s birthplace of California. Spalding does a great job of depicting where Jessica grew up to the point I want to visit there sometime.

The ending was a bit eh to me though. I thought it was just too over the top and not realistic.

four-stars

In Twenty Years: A Novel by Allison Winn Scotch

In Twenty Years: A Novel by Allison Winn ScotchIn Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch
Published by Lake Union Publishing on July 1, 2016
Genres: Chick Lit
Pages: 334
Source: Purchased: ebook
Goodreads
two-stars

Twenty years ago, six Penn students shared a house, naively certain that their friendships would endure—until the death of their ringleader and dear friend Bea splintered the group for good. Now, mostly estranged from one another, the remaining five reluctantly gather at that same house on the eve of what would have been Bea’s fortieth birthday.

But along with the return of the friends come old grudges, unrequited feelings, and buried secrets. Catherine, the CEO of a domestic empire, and Owen, a stay-at-home dad, were picture-perfect college sweethearts—but now teeter on the brink of disaster. Lindy, a well-known musician, is pushing middle age in an industry that’s all about youth and slowly self-destructing as she grapples with her own identity. Behind his smile, handsome plastic surgeon Colin harbors the heartbreaking truth about his own history with Bea. And Annie carefully curates her life on Instagram and Facebook, keeping up appearances so she doesn’t have to face the truth about her own empty reality.

Reunited in the place where so many dreams began, and bolstered by the hope of healing, each of them is forced to confront the past.

I dithered about this book for a while. There was something bugging me about it and then I realized. I pretty much called every single one of the endings for the characters. I didn’t really like the character (Lindy) who was bisexual being portrayed as “slutty” and the poor girl/woman (Annie) who sat around harboring same lame crush on a guy (Colin) that didn’t want her. I was more interested in the married couple (Catherine and Owen) but even after a while I tired of them. I think this book was a mash up of The Big Chill and I will be the first to say I was not a fan of that movie. Probably because even as a child I had no patience for selfish people (which I counted a ton as while watching that movie).

I had liked I think maybe 1 or 2 of Scotch’s prior works. But the later stuff has not been doing a thing for me. I think if this had been shortened a bit, or maybe just didn’t include this manic pixie girl (Bea) as this bigger than life character we never get to really see as readers it would have worked better. I just had a hard time with people who have been sporadically in touch through 20 years to all of a sudden make a sojourn back to a house they stayed at during college. Don’t get me started that one of the characters is as popular as Martha Stewart and another one is a world famous musician. You don’t get the sense at all from the little introduction chapter we get on these people that these are the careers they would fall into or want to do.

I don’t know who I disliked the most out of the characters: Bea, Colin, Annie, or Lindy. It’s pretty much a toss-up for me. I didn’t care for the character of Bea based on what we see about her during some other character’s flashbacks. Bea to me is very manipulative. I didn’t get some wise woman living in a young woman’s body. We are told constantly that Bea lived on the edge and was IMHO way too close to her friends from college. We get some bare insight into this character about finding out she’s an orphan. But I ultimately didn’t like how she chose to treat Annie like a small child who had to be protected.

Annie was aggravating. I never got a handle on this character either. I think that her unrequited crush on Colin and her ridiculous propelling of him onto a pedestal is what made it so hard to like this characters. Plus Scotch introduces the husband via Annie’s character who you don’t care for at all, but then you learn some things so you end up having some sympathy for him, and then Annie proceeds to make terrible decisions throughout the book.

The character of Lindy is a popular musician who is a lesbian some of the time but has sex with men still. I am still confused by this whole character. Did Scotch not want to have a bisexual character? Cause it made me confused why Lindy I think identifies as a lesbian though she is attracted and sleeps with men. Seriously someone help me out here, I just didn’t get what was going on and what was Scotch trying to portray with this character at all. I also hated the whole Lindy can’t be monogamous thing that was going on either. I know that one of my friends who is bisexual and happily married with kids now said it used to tick her off when people thought her identifying as such meant she slept around. I think ultimately I was confuse though because a secret is put out about why she really went about sleeping with the character of Colin and I just wanted to tell her to go see a therapist.

Colin I found to be gross.

Catherine and Owen were ultimately the only two characters that seemed to be fully fleshed out. I wish that Scotch had stuck with them more honestly. I was more interested in this atypical marriage which is becoming the norm (wife works and husband stays home) and seeing how Owen is feeling unfilled at this role. Heck, this is what a lot of mothers feel as well, so it would have been great to see these two acknowledging that things are not working out and how to fix it. There’s just a lot of drinking, fighting, and acting crazy.

The writing was okay, though I got really confused while reading. Maybe if the book had been told in a linear fashion (start off with them about to graduate, then go to the wedding, then hit 17 years later or whenever it was they all received letters). Instead we have characters flashbacking and being in “present” time while reading chapters.

I honestly think the multiple POVs throw this book off too. We start off with Bea, then go to Annie, Lindy, and after that I believe it’s Catherine, then Owen, and finally Colin. Then we beep bop around for the whole book. The last chapter made me roll my eyes a lot too. I think I was supposed to get a feeling of well being instead of annoyance that made me feel like none of these people learned a thing. We also don’t equally stick with characters. Most of the book belongs to the women characters. And honestly, after two rounds of Lindy, I was pretty much done with her.

The book mentions that this is about 6 friends (a 6 pointed star) who go to Penn and I can tell you that no one calls the University of Pennsylvania Penn. If you say Penn, most people think you are talking about Penn State. I was so surprised when I realized this book was supposed to take place in Philadelphia and then I put two and two together and was like oh she mans University of Pennsylvania. And can I say that besides some random talk of cheese-steaks, I did not get Philly from this book. Let alone these people who had lived at a house nearby the university for a number of years.

two-stars

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