Title: Keep Calm and Carry a Big Drink
Author: Kim Gruenenfelder
Release Date: December 2013
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Chick Lit
In Keep Calm and Carry a Big Drink, Kim Gruenenfelder's delicious follow-up to There's Cake in My Future, Seema, Nic and Mel are back, adjusting to their new lives as a bride-to-be, a mother-to-be, and a recently single girl looking for love
It's been almost a year since Mel, Nic and Seema pulled their magical charms out of the cake at Nic's bridal shower and most of their happily-ever-afters seemingly came true. Seema is about to marry Scott in an elaborate three-day affair. Nic is glowingly pregnant. And Mel... well, Mel feels as if she accidentally veered off the rails of her life at some point and isn't sure how to get back on. She recently became single again, she's been threatened with a layoff from her teaching job, and she has to find her own place now that Scott is moving in with her roommate, Seema. Nic thinks Mel just needs a new cake charm to bring her good luck. . . and decides to rig the cake pull at Seema's bridal shower.
Desperate for travel, Mel asks for the passport charm. But, once again, the cake proves to have a mind of its own, and she pulls a charm she doesn't want, and can not use. Rather than be bound by the charm's prophecy, Mel realizes she, and she alone, is responsible for her destiny. A spur of the moment decision takes her to Paris and then Maui, where she finds herself on an adventure that she never could have imagined, experiencing the trials and tribulations of a life suddenly and perfectly unplanned. And, along the way, she begins to learn that, however nonsensical it may seem, the cake is never wrong... (Amazon)
This book I felt, really captures that bitter-sweetness of maturing friendships. The ups and downs that go along with that: the feelings of pride and joy and at the same time wistfulness as your lives move forward and in many ways your friendship changes and life pulls you further apart. As friends start relationships, move in with significant others/get their own place, get married, have children, start focusing on careers. I think we all have that experience of being so happy for our friends as they hit the milestones and yet wanting those things for ourselves and also missing the way things used to be when the friendship seemed to come first.
I found the characters to be very likable and relatable, and I like that they were each experiencing/struggling with things that many of us do: newborns, weddings, trying to figure out what to do with our lives/what’s next, relationships, dating, burn-out.
While I really enjoyed the story, there were a few things that I would have liked to see changed. For one, the story had some plot points that seemed a bit far-fetched: the broke teacher traveling about Europe, vacationing in Hawaii for free, and other bits I can’t mention for fear of spoilers. I can’t completely fault these points as it is escapism fiction, I would have enjoyed it a bit more if these came about in a bit more of a believable way. Other than that, there were a few slow points and some minor editing issues.
Overall, this book was an enjoyable escapist Chick Lit read – fluffy, light and fun. It featured fun, sweet, relatable characters and I loved getting to revisit my “old friends” again and see where they ended up. Definitely worth a read, and definitely one that any mid to late twenties or older can relate too.
**see below for rating and recommendations**
Title: The Perfect Match
Author: Kristan Higgins
Release Date: October 2013
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Genre: Adult, Romance, Contemporary
What if the perfect match is a perfect surprise?
Honor Holland has just been unceremoniously rejected by her lifelong crush. And now—a mere three weeks later—Mr. Perfect is engaged to her best friend. But resilient, reliable Honor is going to pick herself up, dust herself off and get back out there…or she would if dating in Manningsport, New York, population 715, wasn't easier said than done.
Charming, handsome British professor Tom Barlow just wants to do right by his unofficial stepson, Charlie, but his visa is about to expire. Now Tom must either get a green card or leave the States—and leave Charlie behind.
In a moment of impulsiveness, Honor agrees to help Tom with a marriage of convenience—and make her ex jealous in the process. But juggling a fiancé, hiding out from her former best friend and managing her job at the family vineyard isn't easy. And as sparks start to fly between Honor and Tom, they might discover that their pretend relationship is far too perfect to be anything but true love…. (Amazon)
Things that I found really enjoyable about this book included: the characters, the plot line, the side stories, the humor and the cute animal. I really enjoyed the interactions and dialogue between Tom and Honor, I enjoyed the romantic tension and I liked the “marriage of convenience, could it grow to be more” plotline. I found the book to be light, humorous and filled with characters I could either relate to, feel like I have experienced in real life or would like to know.
I enjoyed that each of the characters had flaws and baggage, nobody was completely good or bad and they all felt real. (Even the ones that I hated). I also really enjoyed the Charlie side-story. I felt that many of the events while obviously dramatized (this is a romance novel) were relatable to things that could and do happen in real life – and I loved that the author was able to make me feel. I laughed and cried during my time reading the book.
Some things I wish had been a bit different: the desperation of Honor feels, Honor’s self confidence, and the story start. In the beginning Honor is feeling really desperate to get married, to have a kid – I’m not going to nit-pick about this because I do think that a lot of people especially women start to feel this pressure at some point. I felt that this was real and understandable, I just might have wished it wasn’t so played up, I mean let us know how she feels but some of the moments made me cringe in embarrassment for her a bit. As to her self-confidence, I just felt that while again this was a believable piece, I would have liked to see her have a bit more confidence and respect for herself – I get that it was part of her growth but their were a few parts (I’m looking at you Dana) that made me want to shake her and deal with it for her.
Finally, while I ended up enjoying the story overall it had a bit of a slow start for me. So I would have liked for the pace to be a bit more brisk and really grasp me sooner.
Overall, I really enjoyed the story and it is one I would have a friend read (in fact I’ve already lent it out). I enjoyed the author and the book and actually bought a few more by her to try out. The book played to its genre nicely, and it is a quick, sweet, emotional romantic read. (Plus have you seen the adorable pups on the covers?) So if you are looking for a good beach or contemporary chick lit read with a little romance, definitely check out this author.
Recommendations (based on both of the above romances):
If you enjoyed this book and are looking for more Contemporary Chick Lit reads try:
Just Breath – Susan Wiggs
Something Borrowed – Emily Giffin
There’s Cake in My Future – Kim Gruenenfelder
Unpredictable – Eileen Cook
When In Doubt Add Butter– Beth Harbison
Rating (for both of the above romances):
3 out of 5 Doxies – Really enjoyed it, read it now!
Tale of Two Doxies