April 10, 2019

Abbreviations #85: 99 Percent Mine, Passion on Park Avenue + How to Be Luminous

Darcy Barrett and her twin brother Jamie have inherited their grandmother’s cottage, with strict instructions to restore it before selling the property. Darcy fully intends to be out of the country when renovations start, but before she can make her exit, she finds herself face-to-face with Tom Valeska - house-flipper, newly single after nearly a decade, the man Darcy has known is the one for her since the age of eight… and her twin brother’s best friend. The prospect of sticking around to oversee and help with the renovations has never been more appealing, and the possibility that Tom could be hers has never felt closer to reality.

99 Percent Mine has one of my favorite romance tropes: a girl in love with her brother’s best friend. It’s the entire reason I decided to give this one a shot, even though I didn’t necessarily love The Hating Game as much as everyone seems to. Ultimately though, I was not a fan of this book. Don’t get me wrong – it’s an okay read. I read it in just about one sitting, enjoyed the renovation bits, found some amusement in the banter between the main couple and genuinely thought Tom was a great guy. Even though there are things that I did like, what ultimately proved to be the downfall of this story was the fact that I didn’t particularly care about the outcome of the romance. It just felt like something was missing to invite my emotional investment in Tom and Darcy getting together, and the romance ultimately fell flat for me. 99 Percent Mine might have been promising at the start, but it ended up disappointing me by the end. (Though, I will say, the epilogues to both this novel and The Hating Game are pretty cute.)

99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne | Publisher: William Morrow | Publication Date: January 29, 2019 | Source: Paperback received from the publisher (Thank you!)

Naomi Powell may not have grown up among them, but her position as the CEO of an extremely successful jewelry company has certainly given her a pass into the world of the Upper East Side elite. The coup de grĂ¢ce? Getting the opportunity to move into the building and get some closure when it comes to the Cunninghams, the family her mother was housekeeper for before everything fell apart. But she doesn’t count on being neighbors with Oliver Cunningham, former tormentor and now very attractive adult, nor does she count on discovering that things have changed since the last time their paths crossed…

I only read my first Lauren Layne title last year (with strong urging from my friend Rachel), and proceeded to devour a couple more books in the same ‘series’ in the months that followed. Layne has proven herself capable of writing fun romances that leave me feeling at least a little warm and fuzzy by the time I reach the last page, so I was eagerly anticipating her new series starter Passion on Park Avenue. I devoured this one quickly, which is no surprise considering Layne’s writing is easy to read. Naomi and Oliver’s romance is set up well, and it was easy to root for these two (even when they were being frustrating… to each other and to the reader) to be together. It was a cute romance read, but I ultimately felt that it was a touch underdeveloped overall. That’s really what prevented me from getting fully emotionally invested in this story! I also had mixed feelings about the situation in the past, and the repercussions in the present day that I’m still sorting through. Bottom line? If you’re looking for a quick chick lit read for an upcoming trip or a beach day, Passion on Park Avenue is something I’d recommend for consideration (though I would borrow, not buy). (And, in case you were wondering, I still plan on reading the companion novels to come in this series!) 

Passion on Park Avenue by Lauren Layne | Series: Central Park Pact #1 | Publisher: Gallery Books | Publication Date: May 28, 2019 | Source: E-galley downloaded from NetGalley (Thanks!)

Minnie Sloe and her sisters have always gone through all the facets of their life – growing up without their fathers, the eccentric artist lifestyle they lead and their mother’s ups and downs – together. But when their mother disappears, the sisters start to drift apart in the sea of grief and uncertainty that remains in her wake. Minnie finds herself grappling with her ability to see color, and what that means for her future as an artist. As things continue to spiral out of control, will Minnie be able to hold on to the things she values most and make peace (with herself, with her loss and with the people in her life)?

Trigger Warnings: suicide, cheating, mental illness, depression

I’m always fascinated by the portrayal of grief in fiction, because people experience and react to grief in so many ways in real life and authors can be so skilled at portraying that on the page. This is one of the reasons that I wanted to read How to Be Luminous; the other two reasons are that I liked the author’s previous novel and I was interested in the art aspect. And, even having finished it a couple of weeks ago, I’m still mulling over my feelings about this novel. It’s an interesting character study, since we the readers are intimately ensconced in Minnie’s thoughts and bearing witness to her ups and downs as her emotions run their course. It’s a read with a lot of emotional weight, and the sorrow and anger really permeate every chapter. And the characters, Minnie and her sisters particularly, are not making the best life choices and that can be very frustrating to read about, even though you also understand their logic on some level. But the grieving was portrayed in a very strong way for this individual character experience, and I particularly found it interesting to see how the artistic aspect was woven in. While I can’t necessarily recommend this book with ease (because of the difficult subject matter), I did find it to be a compelling read.

How to Be Luminous by Harriet Reuter Hapgood | Publisher: Roaring Brook Press | Publication Date: April 30, 2019 | Source: E-galley downloaded from NetGalley (Thank you!)


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