Book review: I Owe You One

Dear friends,

Here’s a cute book in the “Chick Lit” genre, from the always-entertaining Sophie Kinsella:


In this story we meet Fixie – so named because she is a serious “Type A” personality who can’t resist meddling, improving, and “fixing” things for everyone around her.  She and her siblings run the family housewares store, Farrs, and Fixie knows exactly how everything should be done – which items to stock, how to display them and decorate the store, and exactly how to interact with customers.

One day, Fixie performs an act of kindness for a handsome stranger, and in return he writes her an “IOU” on the cardboard sleeve of his coffee cup.  This event sets off a chain of back-and-forth paybacks between Fixie and the stranger, whose name is Sebastian.

Sebastian already has a girlfriend, and Fixie is still hung up on her childhood crush Ryan, so it’s not like anything will happen … right?  Let the mishaps ensue.

I loved the story, but I did find Fixie rather hard to take at times.  She is blind to her own faults, and really lacks self-awareness when it comes to her effect on those around her.  As a book character, she’s funny, but in real life I’d find her hard to take in large doses.  I’m sure she’d find lots of things to “fix” in my life!

Because of her obsessive need for control, the other people in her life (her siblings, her crush) know exactly how to push her buttons, at at times I just wanted to shake her and say “Wake up! He’s manipulating you!” or “Wake up! You’re going to lose this friendship if you can’t stop meddling!”  But of course, Fixie has to learn these things in her own time, and in her own way.

If you know a Fixie (or you are one!), you’ll find lots to relate to.  For me, the story got a tad slow in the middle, but was otherwise a page-turner, and a fun, light read.

Happy reading!

Winnie and the Professor

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Book review: One Day in December

Dear friends,

This book surprised me.  At first, I wasn’t sure I was going to like it, but in the end, I couldn’t put it down.


The story begins with the incident pictured on the cover of the book.  One day in December, Laurie is riding a bus home from her London job.  She’s tired, and just wants to get home to the flat she shares with her old college roommate, Sarah, and open a bottle of wine.  Then something amazing happens.  She looks out the window, and sees a man waiting at a bus stop … their eyes meet … it’s love at first sight … but he doesn’t get on the bus, the bus moves on, and Laurie thinks she will never find him again.

She spends the next year looking for “bus boy” in restaurants, bars, on the street – London’s a big city, but surely she’ll run into him somewhere!  Eventually, she does, when he shows up at a house party as somebody else’s date.  He’s a nice guy, but Laurie falls into a spiral of confusion – does he remember her? is he in love with someone else?  Is she recalling a moment that didn’t really happen?

We follow a decade of Laurie’s life, as Jack (“bus boy”) enters her social circle, and their lives become intertwined.  They become close friends, but they’re never single at the same time, and Laurie’s memory of that first sight of Jack is always hanging in the air between them.

I was skeptical in the beginning because I don’t like the “love at first sight” trope, and it seemed like the story was going to be predictable – but it wasn’t.  Laurie’s romantic ideas about Jack come back down to earth once she gets to really know him.

The story vacillates between Laurie’s point of view and Jack’s (each is the narrator of alternating chapters), so the reader becomes familiar with each one’s thought processes.  The author writes men and women equally well, and I could really hear each character’s voice distinctively.

I don’t want to spoil the ending.  It’s what you think – and it’s not.  Jack and Laurie’s story ends up being very real, very complicated, and full of conflicting emotion.  Both characters grow a lot through their time together.

It’s a winner!  Highly recommended.

Happy reading!

Book review: The Bookseller

Dear friends,

I just finished this one on Kindle:


I’m a little weird about mysteries … I get so far in, and then I want to know the answer!  I flip ahead to try to learn the secret.  What can I say, I’m one of those rare people who loves “spoilers,” but I’ll do my best not to spoil this one for you.

This book has been compared to the movie “Sliding Doors,” which I haven’t seen, but if you have, it might give you some idea what to expect.

The Bookseller is the story of Kitty (Katharyn), a woman who owns a bookstore with her best friend.  Kitty lives alone with her cat, Aslan (as a Narnia fan, I love the name), and enjoys her life as an independent, single woman.

Except she has another life.

At night, in her dreams, she enters another world where she is a wife and mother to three children, and her days are very different from everything she knows as a bookstore owner.  This life feels very foreign, and she slowly learns the details of this existence – how old the children are, how long she’s been married, and how she spends her days.  The dreams are vivid, but when she awakes, she’s back in her single-girl apartment.

The story alternates between these two “lives,” and as the “wife and mother” life becomes more vivid, the “single bookstore owner” life becomes less so.  Kitty becomes confused, and wonders if she is mentally ill, and whether one of these lives only exists in fantasy (and if so, which one).

I found the book to be a page-turner because I longed for the answer to those questions!

It’s a quick read, and I think you’d enjoy it.



Book Review: The Best Kind of People

Dear friends:

This book has received a lot of mixed reviews online, and I can understand why, as I have mixed feelings about it myself:


The Best Kind of People is a family drama (a genre I usually like, which is why I picked it up).  The story surrounds the Woodburys, a wealthy family living in an elite suburb of Connecticut.  The father, George, teaches at the local private prep school, where the daughter, Sophie, is a student.  Sophie has an older brother, Andrew, who is a lawyer in New York.  The mother, Joan, is an emergency room nurse.  The ancestors of this family founded the town, so they are well-known and socially prominent.  They seem to have it all, until one night …

(While this may seem spoiler-y, it happens in the first chapter, and is what the rest of the book is about) …

The police arrive to arrest the father, George, on charges of inappropriate behavior with some of the girls at the school where he teaches (and Sophie attends).  George denies everything, and no one wants to believe he is capable of such things.  For the rest of the book, we are engaged with his wife’s struggle to make sense of the situation (all signs point to his guilt), his daughter being stigmatized at school, and his son trying to sort out the legal angles of the case.

We don’t really get George’s point of view on all this.  The other family members occasionally visit him in prison while he is awaiting trial, and he maintains his innocence, but the reader doesn’t have a deep window into George’s character.  We spend the most time with the daughter, Sadie, and her boyfriend Jimmy – who have a lot of sex and smoke a lot of pot for young teenagers.  Maybe I’m a prude, but I found those plot elements overblown and a bit tiresome.

The further I got into the book, the more of a page-turner it became, primarily because I wanted to see if George would end up being guilty or not (I’ll leave that to you to discover).  But overall, I didn’t find these family members very likeable, and thought that the wife, Joan, was rather gullible at times.

I gave it 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.  Wasn’t great, wasn’t terrible.

Happy reading, as always!



Book reviews – The Wedding Date, and The Proposal

Hello friends,

If you’re looking for something light and fluffy that will give you a few hours of escapism, these companion novels might do the trick:


In The Wedding Date, we follow the story of Alexa and Drew, who meet in the elevator at a fancy hotel.  When the elevator gets stuck, they end up sitting on the floor and exchanging stories.  Seems that Drew is at this hotel because he’s going to a wedding the next night, and his date has bailed on him at the last minute.  What to do?

Yes, it’s a bit formulaic and predictable … they live in different cities and try having a long-distance relationship, insecurities and misunderstandings ensue … but it’s kind of cute if you keep in mind that it’s a light romance.

The Proposal is a companion novel (I wouldn’t call it a sequel, but there’s some character overlap).  We meet Nikole at a baseball game, where her date proposes to her on the Jumbo-Tron.  When she refuses, he leaves her standing there with a whole stadium full of people staring at her.  Carlos, who is sitting a few rows over, comes to her rescue and helps her exit the stadium.

A relationship follows, but neither is sure how to define it – are we friends with benefits?  In love?  Just prolonging a chance meeting?  Carlos’s best friend just happens to be Drew from the other book, and we meet Drew and Alexa again in this story.

These books were just ok to me.  In both relationships, each wondered what the other felt, and there was a lot of push-pull and coming together-coming apart related to rather simple misunderstandings.  The back-and-forth of it all was a bit tiring.

In both books, the relationships are cross-racial, and I was pleased that the author dealt with that by having family and friends of the couple express opinions about it.  I thought that was realistic.

In the end, I’d say they were cute stories and fun to read, but not something I’d re-read.  I believe there’s a third novel coming out soon, another companion book to these stories.

Happy reading!

Winnie and the Professor

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