I've been able to read some again. I had to stop watching the news for the most part (like, the 24/7 news cycle) because it just makes me anxious. I've been working on cleaning out my house. I still have tons of stuff that I just inherited and stuff from previous moves. The goal is a house clean out since no one can see my getting rid of all the junk they gave me since we're all supposed to be in quarantine! So this past week I took out all my books to be read and re-read and moved them into one large pile.
So I can officially say that I have a book hoarding problem. I have managed to read fifteen books since the quarantine officially started. I've made a tiny dent!
I've also quit the Junior League. I just couldn't suffer through another year. I think if you meet people through it where you become friends that it's probably so much fun. I met a lot of people who were okay but I didn't connect with them. The people I did connect with...quit earlier. I think I'll probably just volunteer with other places and work on finding people to jam with through other ways. I just couldn't pay for another year and then go sustainer (and pay for that). I don't have enough energy with work, migraine and the house for a group where I wasn't meshing.
I picked this book up from my local indie because I thought it seemed fun, had a lovely cover and dealt with a more lighthearted plot. There's no murder in this (like my normal type of book) and it's more familial issues with a contemporary love story. I thought it was okay but had a few issues with the plot and characters. I usually don't love hyped books (this one was fits that category in my opinion) and sometimes it's hard to figure out if the book is actually good when it has the marketing push behind it. This was better than the last hyped book I read, but it was a solid three star for me (3* = okay).
Title: The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
Author: Abbi Waxman
Page Number: 333 pages (paperback)
Genre: fiction, romance, contemporary
Publisher: Berkley Books
The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.
When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They're all—or mostly all—excited to meet her! She'll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It's a disaster! And as if that wasn't enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn't he realize what a terrible idea that is?
Nina considers her options.
1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.)
2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee).
3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)
It's time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn't convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It's going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page.
The book begins with an introduction of Nina, her trivia team and her job (the bookstore). The setting is in Los Angeles (California) and I don't have ideas on the layout of the city to be honest, so while Nina's house and work street seem quite cozy I don't know a thing about the area.
I also don't know very much about working or running a bookstore. I've seen "You've Got Mail" and that's the extent of my knowledge. What I can say is that if you can't pay your rent...and if you're behind by months...you've got other problems than just keeping the store open. Nina's boss is often hiding from her landlord, unable to pay rent and owing months of rent. Nina is aware of all this but not overly concerned...which is odd to me considering her "planning" nature. I'd be looking for a new job where my boss can pay the rent and my salary.
Nina is an introvert, who prefers to plan her life out in detail (her planner pages make chapter intros throughout the book) even the minutia of breakfast oatmeal. I couldn't relate to Nina as a person because the entire way through the book I thought she needed therapy and an intervention. Not for her introvert behavior but her inability to handle anything due to her anxiety.
The trivia group that Nina is involved in is participating in a trivia bowl against her arch-nemesis (in regards to trivia) Tom. For a love interest, Tom isn't really a huge plot in the book. We don't find out what he does for a living until the end and the "misunderstanding" has to due with Nina's anxiety. There's some pouty behavior, ghosting and eventually reconciliation due to them talking but I didn't find either of them to be a catch when it was over. Don't get me wrong, they weren't bad! Just kinda "eh."
I also kinda worried over Nina as a character because she doesn't have a personality beyond "likes books and has anxiety." It's not great. All of this is second to Nina's new family. Nina was raised by a nanny because her mom was/is a photographer that is rarely home. Upon her biological father's death, she learns she has several step mothers, siblings and cousins. This was my gripe. You could really just combine these people into two people and call it a day (pro-Nina and not yet pro-Nina). There's an issue of inheritance that causes some friction. I kinda felt that in trying to give Nina's dad a reason for not making an effort with being in Nina's life, Waxman gave him this playboy lifestyle (complete with a young wife and kid). I guess as a reader I was supposed to feel bad that he couldn't keep his pants zipped but eh.
So convoluted family, disaster of a boss, possibly boyfriend that can't communicate with Nina, massive anxiety etc. It was a lot. I wished that the family was slimmed down as I didn't enjoy having her meet with all these people. I would have preferred more Tom and a better conversation about them as a couple and her dealing with anxiety within that.
There is a happy ending (of course) and Nina gets to keep her job, her boyfriend, her cute house and her new family. I think that all the reasons that drove me crazy...didn't drive other people crazy. This probably explains why I was just "okay" on the book and story while everyone else loved it.
Waxman is a good writer. Her conversations are seamless and I found many of the quips quite witty although the actual conversations weren't always realistic. While I didn't like the extra (to me) characters or how Waxman guided the plot, I must admit that the story flows without any hiccups. I was able to read this book in one setting. This book has several (fairly well crafted) plots and sub-plots where most contemporary romances I read only have one.
I will say that the book kept the same gravitas throughout except for a few scenes (a street fight between some hipster type new agey shop and Nina and co. and a ridiculous trivia bar fight). I thought that these were ridiculously silly and I have no idea why they were used as a plot device
So I feel like I complained quite a bit but it was a mixed bag of:
If you can read a book without instantly judging and being a snarky bitch about business finances, that you'll do better than me. I think this wasn't 100% the book for me but worked out well for most everyone else who read it. I saw it was categorized a "chick lit" and I still don't ducking know what that means. What is chick lit? Seriously? Is it light contemporary fiction? Is this a normal representative of this? I swear I don't know.
Penguin Random House....who should have gone with Random Penguin House (I don't care if it doesn't fall off the tongue as easily, I will die on this hill) has an audio excerpt, as well as a chapter excerpt on their website.