May 25, 2020

Abbreviations #105: Surprise Me, The Simple Wild + Cover (Story) Girl

Sylvie and Dan are caught off guard when they are told they will be living extraordinarily long lives and thus will be married far longer than either imagined. To keep things exciting and fresh in their relationship, they make the decision to go about surprising each other. But when Sylvie discovers a surprising secret that Dan has been keeping, it has her questioning everything she thought she knew about her marriage. This is the premise of Surprise Me, but the actual novel managed to surprise me by not being entirely what I had expected. The book has the three things I usually expect from a Kinsella novel: a fun cast of characters, a plethora of funny incidents and witty statements, and a heartwarming theme beneath the entertaining plot. But I wasn’t a fan of the way the book felt like there were two different stories mashed together (even though it was done in a sensible way), particularly because I did struggle with elements of both halves of the story. Surprise Me had me examining how I’d react in Sylvie & Dan’s situation too, and to be fair, it was a fun read overall. While I prefer Kinsella’s earlier work, I’m glad that I finally read and ultimately liked a newer work by this author.

Surprise Me was published on February 13, 2018 by Dial Press.
I received an e-galley from the publisher via NetGalley for review.

The Simple Wild is about a young woman named Calla, who is estranged from her father and lives instead with her mother and stepfather in Toronto. She loses her job and her boyfriend in one fell swoop, but to top it all off, she learns that her father actually has lung cancer. She’s invited to come and spend some time with him in Alaska, and since everything has aligned, she decides to go… only to find that things up there aren’t exactly what she expected. I was nervous about this one at first, as it’s gotten so much hype all over the online book community and I didn’t like the first novel I tried from this author. But I’m happy to report that I really liked The Simple Wild! It does have a romantic element to the story, true, and I admit to liking that a lot. But what resonated the most, at least for me, was seeing Calla’s journey towards understanding herself better and forming a stronger relationship with her father. Tucker really captures the nuances of both experiences (and even the romance, and other relationships, truly). It felt like I was reading an actual story about someone I could get to know in real life, and it was told in an incredibly relatable way. Add to that the bonus of getting to read about Alaska (and it made me want to go there more than ever) and really easy to devour writing, and it just made the book even better. I did feel like the resolution was a touch rushed, but overall, I quite enjoyed this story. I’m so glad that I finally read The Simple Wild, and even more thrilled that I ended up enjoying it so much. (I’m definitely planning to read the companion/follow-up novel, Wild at Heart.)

The Simple Wild (Wild #1) was published on August 7, 2018 by Atria Books.

I finally read another #romanceclass title! I’ve had Cover (Story) Girl in my digital library for years now, a contemporary romance about a guy named Gio, who finds his neat and orderly life upended the day a young woman named Jang Min Hee walks into the museum where he works as a curator (and effectively into his life). As the two of them spend more time together, it becomes clear that Min Hee has a habit of coming up with cover stories about her history and personal life. Will Gio ever be able to figure out which parts of her stories are the truth? While the premise is certainly nothing new and I didn’t necessarily go hard (or as hard as I normally do) for the main couple, Cover (Story) Girl was still a charming read. I liked Gio (he reminded me of myself in many ways) and enjoyed Min Hee, and it was cute to see their relationship developing. I also found the additional plot details (Gio’s family dynamic, anything related to the museum) added a touch of color to the tale. But what I really enjoyed about this novel was being transported back to Boracay (and Aklan). Though it’s been years since I last visited, the locations and activities were written about in a way that made me very nostalgic! All in all, I’m glad I finally read Cover (Story) Girl and can confidently say it’s a cute, quick read.

Cover (Story) Girl was published July 29, 2013.


  1. I'm still so pleased that you enjoyed The Simple Wild!! It's one of my forever faves<3


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