Book Reviews: One Italian Summer, The Man I Never Met & The Means

One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle

Goodreads blurb: When Katy’s mother dies, she is left reeling. Carol wasn’t just Katy’s mom, but her best friend and first phone call. She had all the answers and now, when Katy needs her the most, she is gone. To make matters worse, their planned mother-daughter trip of a lifetime looms: two weeks in Positano, the magical town Carol spent the summer right before she met Katy’s father. Katy has been waiting years for Carol to take her, and now she is faced with embarking on the adventure alone. But as soon as she steps foot on the Amalfi Coast, Katy begins to feel her mother’s spirit. Buoyed by the stunning waters, beautiful cliffsides, delightful residents, and, of course, delectable food, Katy feels herself coming back to life. And then Carol appears—in the flesh, healthy, sun-tanned, and thirty years old. Katy doesn’t understand what is happening, or how—all she can focus on is that she has somehow, impossibly, gotten her mother back. Over the course of one Italian summer, Katy gets to know Carol, not as her mother, but as the young woman before her. She is not exactly who Katy imagined she might be, however, and soon Katy must reconcile the mother who knew everything with the young woman who does not yet have a clue.

My take: 3 out if 5. This was a disappointment because of the expectations. I loved In Five Years so was very much looking forward to this follow up. For me it fell flat. Whilst the metaphysical and strange in In five years felt so appropriate and magical, here it’s just strange and weird. I did not get it, I was confused and there were a lot of questions not addressed. But that could have been overcome if the story was great, but it sadly is not amazing. I was not engaged with the characters and a lot of the time I was irritated by them. One of my favorite characters, Adam, Just disappears from the story. However i think the weirdest thing that i couldn’t relate was the relationship between mother and daughter. This is coming from someone who lost her mother, but the grief in the book felt forced and it rubbed me the wrong way, I cant explain it but i could not relate (and I was a prime candidate for relating). What I was hoping was my beach read of the summer was just a meh read. The most redeeming factor is the setting. I loved Positano and this book does it justice. The descriptions I felt like I was there and made me want to book a new trip as I haven’t been in many years.

The Man I never Met by Elle Cook

Goodreads blurb: Is it possible to love someone you’ve never met? A young woman finds out in this sweeping will-they-or-won’t-they love story that begins with a chance wrong number dial. . . . When Hannah picks up a call from an unknown number, she thinks nothing of it–it’s just an easygoing American named Davey who misdialed her while calling into a job interview. And when Hannah wishes him luck after clearing up the confusion, she never actually expects to hear from him again. Then she gets a text saying he got the job and he’ll be moving to London, and she can’t help but smile. Soon their texts become phone calls that turn into video calls, and their friendship becomes a relationship they can’t wait to start in earnest once Davey lands in London in a month’s time. But when Hannah goes to meet him at the airport, Davey isn’t there–and the reason why changes both of their lives in an instant. With their future together suddenly so uncertain, they don’t know what to do but try to move on from each other. Though their chance at love seems lost forever, neither is never far from the other’s thoughts. Will fate intervene once more to bring the two together, or will Davey always be the man that Hannah never met?

This is an ARC review thanks to a gift from the publisher, the book comes out November 22nd, 2022

My take: 4 out of 5.The meet cute in this book can be in some of the top 10 meet cutes i’ve seen. It’s a great idea. Should we start answering unknown numbers now? could this be a thing? No, its always annoying telemarketers or bankers, but good for Hannah that it turned out ok for her. Although some of Hannah’s decisions were questionable and infuriating, all in this is a super sweet book and definitely pushing the fate concept to extremes! An unexpected great read and one I would highly recommend.

The Means by Amy Fusselman

Goodreads blurb: Shelly Means, a wealthy stay-at-home mom and disgraced former PTA president, is poised to get the one thing in life she really wants: a beach house in the Hamptons. Who would have guessed that Shelly, the product of frugal Midwesterners, or her husband George, an unrepentant thrift shopper, would ever be living among such swells? But Shelly believes it’s possible. It might be a very small house, and it might be in the least-fancy part of the Hamptons. But Shelly has a vision board, an architect, and a plan. But what should be a simple real estate transaction quickly goes awry as Shelly’s new neighbors disapprove of her proposed shipping container house at the same time that George’s lucrative work as a VoiceOver artist dries up. But Shelly is dogged. She knows how to go into beast mode. But will it ever be enough to realize her beach house dreams? A novel of real estate, ambition, family, and money from “one of our best interrogators of how we live now, and how we should live” (Dave Eggers), The Means is also a fantastical, fast-moving and very funny exploration of class, wealth, and the value of work

This is an ARC review thanks to a gift from the publisher, the book comes out September 6th, 2022

My take: 1.75 out of 5. (its not one because i actually finished it) This could be the worst book i’ve read this year. I hate read it, and I was in a plane so kept reading feeling something might happen and the vacuousness of this book would be redeemed. The writing was strange, a chopped internal dialog that I could not get into. The concept of the dog speaking to the Shelly could have been great but it was haphazardous and had no purpose and happened at random times so it just did not even make sense. Do not get me started on the lead character, unsufferable and cliché. There are books with terrible main characters that are awesome but here the fact that she was so annoying and unsympathetic does not really make sense as I didnt really see the character arc, growth or her purpose. I don’t even understand at the end if we were laughing with her, at her or really did not understand any of the purposes of this book. Why was it written? is there a point to it? The topic has such great potential, why is the execution so bad. The exploration of motherhood and money didn’t really come through for me, I just saw a whinny entiteled character and that is sad.

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