Book Reviews: Second First Impressions, One True Loves & Our Country Friends

Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne

Goodreads blurb: Distraction (n): an extreme agitation of the mind or emotions.

Ruthie Midona has worked the front desk at the Providence Luxury Retirement Villa for six years, dedicating her entire adult life to caring for the Villa’s residents, maintaining the property (with an assist from DIY YouTube tutorials), and guarding the endangered tortoises that live in the Villa’s gardens. Somewhere along the way, she’s forgotten that she’s young and beautiful, and that there’s a world outside of work—until she meets the son of the property developer who just acquired the retirement center.

Teddy Prescott has spent the last few years partying, sleeping in late, tattooing himself when bored, and generally not taking life too seriously—something his father, who dreams of grooming Teddy into his successor, can’t understand. When Teddy needs a place to crash, his father seizes the chance to get him to grow up. He’ll let Teddy stay in one of the on-site cottages at the retirement home, but only if he works to earn his keep. Teddy agrees—he can change a few lightbulbs and clip some hedges, no sweat. But Ruthie has plans for Teddy too. Her two wealthiest and most eccentric residents have just placed an ad (yet another!) seeking a new personal assistant to torment. The women are ninety-year-old, four-foot-tall menaces, and not one of their assistants has lasted a full week. Offering up Teddy seems like a surefire way to get rid of the tall, handsome, unnerving man who won’t stop getting under her skin. Ruthie doesn’t count on the fact that in Teddy Prescott, the Biddies may have finally met their match. He’ll pick up Chanel gowns from the dry cleaner and cut Big Macs into bite-sized bits. He’ll do repairs around the property, make the residents laugh, and charm the entire villa. He might even remind Ruthie what it’s like to be young and fun again. But when she finds out Teddy’s father’s only fixing up the retirement home to sell it, putting everything she cares about in jeopardy, she’s left wondering if Teddy’s magic was all just a façade.

my take: 3.75 out of 5. Not to be cheesy, but I had a second first impression with this book. At the beginning i was not getting into this book, and I was about to switch to another one. But then it took a turn and I needed to know what happened and had to finish it that day (which was interesting as this was my car audiobook, so i spent the rest of the afternoon hearing it in my house as I couldn’t wait for it in its normal car rides timing). I picked this one up because i finished recently the Hating Game, and after chatting with her I was curious of her new book. It is very similar trope to be honest, although HG is enemies to lovers where as this goes through two tropes, enemies to friends to lovers. The characters were cute and I really appreciated the comedic interludes of the elderly residents. However, I think there should be more backstory to Ruthies lack of confidence. I feel the sole incident from their childhood that gets explained does not justify how a gorgeous woman (to everyone but her) has such a low confidence. Also I think that having Sylvia physically during part of the book would have been great.

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Goodreads blurb: In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure. On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness. That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves. Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly? Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying

my take: 4 out of 5. I discovered Taylor Jenkins Reid last year and became an adoring fan (I read 3 books and they all landed in my top 20 of the year.) This book is not as good as the others, but it is still a great book. I really enjoyed the premise and the fact that things aren’t as clear cut as in most books. There really is no right answer here, and Emma is placed in an impossible situation. So many good questions are posed: how long should one grieve? when does one move on? Can one love two people at the same time? Is love forever of for a period of time? Ending discussion without spoilers: I actually foresaw what was going to happen early on, and I think the writing tells it somewhat, the characters are not written the same way and I could sense the preference, which was mine as well from the way they were written. A quick an sweet read.

Our Country Friends by Gary Shteyngart

Goodreads blurb: It’s March 2020 and a calamity is unfolding. A group of friends and friends-of-friends gathers in a country house to wait out the pandemic. Over the next six months new friendships and romances will take hold, while old betrayals will emerge, forcing each character to reevaulate whom they love and what matters most. The unlikely cast of characters include: a Russian-born novelist; his Russian-born psychiatrist wife; their precocious child obsessed with K-pop; a struggling Indian American writer; a wildly successful Korean American app developer; a global dandy with three passports; a young flame-thrower of an essayist, originally from the Carolinas; and a movie star, The Actor, whose arrival upsets the equilibrium of this chosen family. In a remarkable literary feat, Gary Shteyngart has documented through fiction the emotional toll of our recent times: a story of love and friendship that reads like a great Russian novel set in upstate New York. Both elegiac and very, very funny, Our Country Friends is the most ambitious book yet by the author of the beloved bestseller, Super Sad True Love Story

My take: 2 out of 5. I hated every single character in this book. Really, I rooted for no-one, everyone was unlikeable. I never heard enough a to why we were meant to care about these unlikeable individuals. And they weren’t unlikeable in the: we are learning something of society and it makes the book way (which is the case for things like White Lotus). They were unlikeable in a way I just wanted to finish this book very quickly, I just don’t care anymore and I think everything they say and do is dumb. I had high expectation of this one, it was on a lot of best of 2021 lists and I it has a glass of wine in the cover, I was sold. But no, I would say don’t waste your time, I was close to doing a DNF but I was already 50% in and kind of wanted to know what happened, but it was hate reading to the end. And on another level, not only was it bad, but its bad about a topic that I really don’t want to revisit. Am I ready to delve into what 2020 and COVID was or do I want to think of something else. MY answer right now is the latter, so having to do the former and with a bad book was not a great call. And for those who have read it and want to discuss with me, what is going on with Troo Emotions? basically that storyline fuels half of the things that happen and I’m still here sitting trying to understand how it can be such a big deal or What the hell it is.

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