Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Mini Thoughts

Hello, all!

Pub Date: 8-10-21
Adult - Historical Fiction

The Show Girl- Nicola Harrison: Olive McCormick has always longed to move away from her dull life in Minneapolis and become a star. When she arrives in New York City, she's determined to make all her dreams come true by becoming a dancer in the Ziegfeld Follies. Despite being a talented performer, it takes all of Olive's know-how to make it to the main stage, and once there, she quickly learns it's not all it's cracked up to be. Nothing could prepare Olive for just how much she'd need to sacrifice to achieve her goals. Then she meets the wealthy and handsome Archie Carmichael. Archie isn't one to balk at Olive's progressive ways, and soon the pair find themselves swept away in a whirlwind romance. But when secrets from her past threaten to derail everything, Olive is forced to either reveal her darkest shame or risk losing the only man she's ever loved.

If a historical fiction is set in the Roaring '20s NYC, you can bet I'll be picking it up. I love reading about this time, and Harrison did a fantastic job immersing you in the story that you felt as if you were there. It was so atmospheric and light but still had that gritty feel to it. I found Olive fascinating and loved seeing the story through her eyes. In the beginning, she feels very naive and doe-eyed, but as the story progresses, you see her grow into this willful woman. Were there times I found her slightly petulant? Yes, but overall, I liked her growth. It is more of a character-driven plot, so I was worried it wouldn't keep my full attention, but that was never the case. I was engaged the entire time wondering what sort of antics Olive would find herself in. Harrison crafted a beautiful coming-of-age story that never shied away from the ups and downs or hardships that faced a young woman during this time. It was flashy, glamorous, and heartbreaking all at the same time. The ending was tied together a little too quickly/conveniently for my tastes, but other than that, I thought this was delightful.

Rating: 4/5

Pub Date: 7-13-21
Adult - Contemporary

The Rehearsals- Annette Christie: Megan and her fiancĂ© Tom have been together for most of their adult lives and are just about to get married on a beautiful island in the PNW. What should be a joyous occasion soon turns sour when secrets that both Megan and Tom have been keeping come to light. After a disastrous rehearsal dinner, the pair decide to call off their wedding and go their separate ways, only to wake up the next day to find themselves somehow stuck in a time loop. Neither one finds the prospect of reliving their worst day over and over again as enjoyable, but nothing they do seems to break the cycle. If Megan and Tom hope to make it to tomorrow, they'll have to work through years of repressed issues and learn to trust one another again. But if they finally do break the loop, will the wedding be on?

I'm not sure how to feel about this one. For a good 70-80% of it, I didn't like any of the characters. Megan and Tom were hiding things from one another and most of their family members were judgmental and just all-around crummy people. Then as the time loop progresses, Megan and Tom both did things to purposefully hurt the other which just left a bad taste in my mouth. Each day in the loop brought out new revelations about their relationship and how they've had problems right from the start that they both chose to ignore. They seemed to take the immature route by lashing out at one another instead of just talking through their issues. The whole relationship seemed very toxic from the get-go, yet it somehow still managed to charm me in the end. Once the pair started to see things from the other's perspective and commit to healing their past hurts, I started to like them more together and did root for them to break the loop and save their wedding. The character development they both go through is really what saved this for me. I think both Megan and Tom grew from their experience and learned to love and appreciate each other more which was satisfying to see. While I didn't fully click with it, I'd recommend if you enjoy a Groundhog's Day scenario and don't mind messy characters/drama.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 6-22-21
Adult - Historical Fiction

Songs in Ursa Major- Emma Brodie: Bayleen Island is best known for its yearly Folk Fest, and the biggest draw for the 1969 concert is Jesse Reid. The tall, handsome, soft-spoken guitar god is sure to rocket to stardom after this major performance, but a motorcycle crash on the way to the venue leads to an unknown local band taking over his spot. Jane Quinn and her band, The Breakers, take the stage to boo's and jeering, but the moment Jane opens her mouth and the band starts rocking, everyone is mystified by what's unfolding before them: a star in the making. The performance was just the beginning. Soon, Jane and the band find themselves on a label making an album and touring the country with Jesse. Between the blur of stadiums, partying, and media attention, Jane and Jesse strike up a whirlwind romance. But when the pressures of fame and the music industry start weighing on Jane, she must face a past she's long since tried to bury before she fades into the background.

I'm a sucker for a "Behind the Music" trope and this one did it fantastically. Brodie's writing has this gritty quality to it that feels very true to the era. She fully embraces that hard lifestyle that was running rampant during the 1970s where everything was sex, drugs, and rock and roll. I loved how she weaved all these different viewpoints together from Jane's relationship with her family to Jesse to the sexism she faced in the music industry. Everything flowed so nicely into one another which made for such a compelling and captivating story. Jane was so resilient and I admired how she wasn't one to back down from situations where someone was trying to stifle her. She and Jesse had such a tumultuous relationship so there are a lot of ups and downs throughout the book, with each having their demons to conquer. I think Brodie did a great job of handling their issues and making them feel real. The emotions are supercharged from beginning to end and there were times I felt just as drained as Jane. My favorite part of this was all the interactions between Jane and her band and getting insight into the recording process/songwriting. Jane's treatment is so different than her male bandmates and it's sad how that's still prevalent today, but she always faced down every obstacle that was thrown her way. If you're looking for the perfect beach read, or if you're a fan of Daisy Jones & The Six, this is the one to pick up.

Rating: 4/5