annoying characters

Empire Falls by Richard Russo

Empire Falls review

I finally finished it!

So, a while back Rory mentioned how much she loved this book called Empire Falls, and then recently Katie read it and reviewed it and liked it, and so clearly I HAD to read it. And I have. And you have no idea how much it pains me to say that I actively disliked this book – don’t hate me, guys!

Rory also mentioned recently why she usually includes personal tidbits in reviews, and how she likes to think about how her own experiences might have influenced her opinion of a book, and I think that’s worth me kind of doing here.

I’ve said it before, but I’m not really the nicest person. Well, it’s not that I’m not nice, I guess, but rather I’m much more assertive than I was back when I was 19 or so. Then I learned how to have a backbone, and to just generally stand up for myself, be more honest (even when the truth hurts), and kind of just not put up with things that I shouldn’t have to. A BIG part of this was learning to stand up to my dad. Some of you know a bit about my dad already, but basically he was a drug addict for most of my life, and he was also always pretty terrifying. Dude had/has a BAD temper, and ever since I started working at the age of 16 he was able to hound me and get money out of me, something he rarely tried with any of my siblings. And it SUCKED, and it took me until about the age of 20 or 21 to finally be able to stand up to him – not to just lie and say that I don’t have enough money or I’m too busy to give him a ride, but just to say NO. My father is not a good person – he loves me, and I love him of course, and he’s much better now than he used to be (not on crack, for example), but he’s still unreasonable and hot-tempered. He still has a sense of entitlement I’ll never understand. But the difference now is that I fight back, and that’s something I’m glad of. I’m glad I finally grew a backbone, and that I’m not afraid to argue back or say no when I don’t want to do something. I just don’t have the same tolerance for bullshit that I did 6 years ago.

Anyways, that part of me – the part that got tougher, and a bit meaner, but happier for it – might be the reason why this book was frustrating to me.

So Empire Falls is about a town called – wait for it – Empire Falls! that has seen better days. It used to be a bustling town, but when the textile mill and shirt factory closed, the town lost it’s luster and never got it back. There’s only one rich family in town, the Whitings, and they own just about everything there is worth owning. Miles Roby, our main character, is the grill cook and manager at Empire Grill, the town’s only real functioning restaurant. His wife Janine is leaving him for a gym club owner, his daughter Tick is navigating the confusing waters of high school, and more and more Miles is looking at his life and wishing he could make a change.

This book was wordy and long, much longer than it needed to be. Now, I can get into a wordy book with little action, as long as there are some great, interesting characters. But these characters KILLED me. Miles is the token “good guy”, the one everyone agrees is just a genuinely good person. But he’s also a doormat who lets everyone walk all over him, and that frustrated me. A lot. His wife Janine – oh my god, I have two pages of notes complaining about her. UGH. Tick, the daughter, was okay until she started to exhibit a couple of the traits in her parents that I’d come to be annoyed with. And Max Roby, Miles’s (Miles’ ?) father, reminded me SO MUCH of my dad. Max is an alcoholic that constantly demands, manipulates, or steals money from people to fuel his addiction and everyone just acted so OKAY with it. A few people were disgusted and tried to keep their distance, but a lot of people were just “Oh, that quirky old man Max. Silly guy.” From what I told you about my dad, you can probably tell why this rubbed me the wrong way.

The most interesting and sympathetic characters, ironically enough, were the two semi-villians of the story – Francine Whiting, the rich lady who owns and manipulates everything in Empire Falls, and John Voss, a deeply disturbed kid at Tick’s school. I couldn’t like them, but they were the only characters who seemed to have real reason and motivation for being the way that they were.

I wanted to like this novel. I really did. And even though it was slow going, I was keeping an open mind about it until about halfway through the book. That’s when I couldn’t ignore any longer how much the characters were driving me insane and I was getting impatient at there being so little action. I plowed on, and things pick up A LOT in the last 100 pages, but by then it was too little, too late.

So, check out Katie’s review and head on over to Rory’s blog to chat with her, because they both liked it and according to the Amazon reviews, a whole lot of people agree with them. I’m in the minority here, but I think my own personality and experiences probably have something to do with that.

Sarah Says: 2 stars


Top Ten Tuesday: Characters That Frustrate the Bejeezus Out of Me

Top Ten Tuesday

Good morning ya’ll!

It’s Tuesday and unfortunately I’m at work, but the plus side is that I get to do The Broke and The Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday post bright and early! And this week’s topic is bound to be loads of fun – Top Ten Most Frustrating Characters Ever! Let the ranting begin!

Me to frustrating characters.

1. Frannie from The Stand by Stephen King- Frannie is at the top of the list because I JUST finished The Stand a few days ago. She’s one of the only female characters in the book, and while she started off okay by the middle of the book I kind of wanted to slap her. She wouldn’t stand up for herself when a guy she was travelling with was making her really uncomfortable – she kept tip-toeing around because she was worried he’d get upset, but it’s not like they were a couple and he wasn’t beating her or anything. And she constantly second-guessed herself, proclaiming that she must be having “woman vapors”. Good god King, this isn’t really how you view women, is it?

2. Cathy from Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte – Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE Wuthering Heights. But Cathy is responsible for basically ALL of the misery in this book. She’s selfish, easily influenced, and whiny. UGH.

3. Everyone in A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan – OHMYGOD THIS BOOK. It was horrible. I don’t remember a single character in this book that wasn’t a complete train wreck. I think the characters I find MOST frustrating are ones that are the cause of their own problems and you just want to slap them for being idiots. Enter every single character in this book.

4. Lydia from Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen – Oh Lydia. You dumb, ditzy girl. She must be one of the first female characters in fiction to be in the “But he said he loved me!” situation. Lucky for her, she has some loving people in her life that force the situation to work out, and she never even gets to learn from her stupid mistake.

5. Brianna from the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon – I very slowly grow to like Brianna, but she can be kind of irksome. She brings the term “headstrong and foolish” to life. She’s also really, really temperamental sometimes and I get irritated with her for being such an irrational brat.

6. Rachel Morgan from Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison – UGH. I was so excited to try The Hollows series, but the main character Rachel absolutely ruined it for me. She was not nearly the kick-ass witch I was expecting; she was a real wuss and annoyingly whiny.

7. Savannah from Stay by Allie Larkin – Again, the main character ruined this book for me. Savannah is one of those train wreck people that I want to slap. She drinks too much, is all hung up on a guy that’s a douchebag, and gets herself into problems but they all get magically solved for her. Blah.

8. Emo Will Grayson from Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan – The W.G. that was written by David Levithan was really emo and annoying and kind of an ass. And this furthered my dislike for David Levithan, he seems to be unable to write characters that aren’t all teen-angsty and dramatic.

9. Dasha from The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons – Okay sure, Dasha gets screwed over a bit by her little sister. But when her little sister is working her ass off to keep them both alive, Dasha is still a total bitch to her and really lazy.

10. Bernadette and her husband from Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple – I feel like this book might have been slightly more interesting if I had liked the characters more. But Bernadette is a woman who used to be awesome, but somehow got trapped in a downward spiral of crazy and agoraphobia. It’s annoying that she won’t slap out of it. Also, her husband is an ass.

So those are my ten! I’ve realized that there’s something different between annoying characters and frustrating characters. Rather, that frustrating characters are always annoying, but annoying characters aren’t always frustrating. Interesting…

So what characters do you find yourself frustrated by?


An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

John Green


John Green. So far, I have such a love/hate relationship with him. Will Grayson, Will Grayson was a pretty great book and he co-authored that. An Abundance of Katherines was my first full John Green book, and it leaves a lot to be desired.

So basically there’s a teenage washed-up child prodigy named Colin Singleton, who keeps falling in love with and getting dumped by girls named Katherine, 19 times to be exact. To get him out of the depression of his latest break-up, his friend Hassan convinces him to go on a road trip. While on the road, Colin tries to perfect his “big” discovery, The Theorum of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes can be used to predict how all relationships will end and earn him the genius spotlight he’s been craving.

So here’s my issue – despite witty and often great writing, this book just TRIES TOO HARD. It tries too hard to be hip, nerdy, and teenage-y. There is barely a story here, and the story that is there is pretty implausible. I won’t go into too many details because I don’t want to be spoiler-y, but for real, lamest road trip and Eureka moment ever.

Colin is often whiny and kind of an asshole, though a slight part of me forgives that because of his genius-ness, and I like really smart assholes (House, anyone?). He was DEFINITELY too emo and dramatic. Hassan was pretty awesome, and I was happy to see a teen that’s a practicing Muslim in a book. Overall Hassan was pretty great, he was the best character. Lindsey is a girl they meet on their road trip and she was a cool girl, but also a little too angsty and she lacked some basic common sense.

Also, the every time the characters should be saying “fuck”, they say “fug”. Like “mother-fugger”. It’s explained in the book, but my god it made me want to tear my hair out in annoyance.

The book reads quickly, but the best part of it is the random nerdy fact-dropping and anagramming via Colin. Damn you John Green, for luring me in with your cheap smarty-pants tricks. The writing is pretty good, but I feel like he’s trying to manipulate me with his teenage drama bullshit and exagerrated quirky-ness. Like everything is supposed to be so eye-opening and epic, but really I kind of want to slap these kids and tell them to man up.

I’ll probably try another John Green book again, but it’s going to be a while.


Sarah Says: 2 stars

The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern

The Book of Tomorrow, Cecelia Ahern

Even though I hear such good things about Cecelia Ahern, and even though I actually own some of her books, and even though I’ve seen P.S. I Love You and really enjoyed it… The Book of Tomorrow is the first novel of hers I’ve ever read! I guess I was looking for a kick in the pants to finally read one, so I am extremely pleased I got to be part of the TLC Book Tour for The Book of Tomorrow!*

Here’s the synopsis of the book from the TLC website:

Raised in the lap of luxury, spoiled and tempestuous sixteen-year-old Tamara Goodwin has never had to think about tomorrow. But when her world is irrevocably shaken by her father’s self-imposed death, she and her mother are left drowning in debt and forced to move in with Tamara’s peculiar aunt and uncle in a tiny countryside village.

Lonely and bored, Tamara’s sole diversion is a traveling library. There she finds a large leather-bound book with a gold clasp and padlock, but no author name or title. Intrigued, she pries open the lock, and what she finds takes her breath away—for what’s written inside is not only impossible and magical . . . it’s her future.


I was looking forward to The Book of Tomorrow a lot for the magical realism element – a book that tells the reader what will happen to her the next day? Awesome! Sadly, this didn’t really come into play until almost 100 pages into the book, so the beginning was a bit slow. You get to know Tamara pretty well – she’s spoiled, immature, and really a horrible teenage girl. I know that she deserved some sympathy for her father’s death and for her whole lifestyle being ripped away from her… but I kind of thought that she deserved it. Younger readers (I’m 25, so I suppose by that I mean teenage readers) might find Tamara more likable, but I did not.

It’s really hard to keep me engaged when I dislike the main character, but luckily the mystery of this book was enough to keep me reading and I finished the book in only two days. Tamara’s aunt and uncle are really strange and seem to be obviously hiding something, and she’s having trouble getting through to her mom. When everything was finally revealed at the end, I was happy to finally learn the big secret but I still felt like there was something I wasn’t getting. Mostly I was like “Well that was weird” and shut the book and didn’t really think about it after that.

I get the feeling that this is a “miss” for an otherwise really good and popular author. While I don’t think I’d recommend this book to others, I’m actually looking forward to reading more of Cecelia Ahern’s books because I still feel like I would enjoy them and that this one was just a fluke. Maybe I’ll try P.S. I Love You next, seeing as how I saw the movie and enjoyed the basic storyline.

Sarah Says: 2 stars

About the author:

Cecelia Ahern

At twenty-one, Cecelia Ahern wrote her first novel, P.S. I Love You, which became an international bestseller and was adapted into a major motion picture starring Hilary Swank. Her successive novels—Love, Rosie; If You Could See Me Now; There’s No Place Like Here; Thanks for the Memories; The Gift; and The Time of My Life—were also international bestsellers, published in forty-six countries and selling more than 15 million copies collectively. The daughter of Ireland’s former prime minister, Ahern lives in Dublin, Ireland.

Visit her website here.

The Book of Tomorrow is already out, so you can visit your favorite bookstore or online retailer to purchase!

The tour is far from over! Please visit some of the other stops to see more reviews:

Tuesday, July 24th: The Lost Entwife

Wednesday, July 25th: I Read. Do You?

Thursday, July 26th: Kristina’s Favorites

Monday, July 30th: Twisting the Lens

Tuesday, July 31st: Sarah Says Read

Wednesday, August 1st: Why Girls Are Weird

Thursday, August 2nd: A Novel Source

Monday, August 6th: Drey’s Library

Wednesday, August 8th: A Chick Who Reads

Friday, August 10th: Just Joanna

Saturday, August 11th: Doing Dewey

Date TBD: My Bookshelf


And thank you SO MUCH to TLC Book Tours for letting me a part of this tour!



*I was given this book in exchange for an honest review, and I receive no compensation of any sort.

Flashforward by Robert J. Sawyer

Flashforward by Robert J. Sawyer

Well this was a bit of a letdown. Robert J. Sawyer is the author of the Neanderthal Parallax books I love so much, and I was really looking forward to reading more of his books. Flashforward is one of his novels, and was also the basis for the TV series that appeared in 2009 but was cancelled after 2010. I didn’t let that bother me going into the book, because a TON of good shows have gotten cancelled way too early (Terra Nova, Pushing Daisies, Firefly…).

Flashforward starts with a really interesting concept – suddenly all seven billion people on the planet lose consciousness for two minutes and 17 seconds – millions of people die as cars crash and people fall down wherever they are. But within those 137 seconds, everyone got a glimpse of what their future would be like in a couple of decades and now the race is on to try to figure out just what that means before it destroys the present.

Very cool premise, right? It was cool to see what the characters saw in their futures and how pieces of everyone’s visions started to come together. And honestly, I think I would have really enjoyed this book if the characters had been different. The main character is Lloyd Simcoe, a physicist working at CERN with the Large Hadron Collider. He was kind of a close-minded jerk, at least after seeing his glimpse of the future. He was constantly trying to be very righteous, even when it made no sense. He also has some opinions regarding quantum physics and the multiverse theory that I disagree with – of course this book was written in 1999, so maybe his opinions are supposed to reflect the popular opinion in physics then. But I’ve already studied some of that myself, so when he was being absolutely stubborn and insisting that no matter what, HE was right – I kind of wanted to punch him.

Also, there were a lot of little snide anti-U.S. remarks in the book. Now, I don’t think the U.S. is perfect by any means and given the chance, I’d love to go visit Canada or Europe. A lot of the main characters in the book was Canadian, Greek, French, etc… and Robert J. Sawyer himself is Canadian. And like I said, there was a lot of “the U.S. sucks” kind of stuff being said and normally that doesn’t bother me, but it was a lot and really blatant and got really annoying. For instance:

“He was born in Canada. And Canadians didn’t like guns, either – they had no Second Amendment, or whatever damned thing it was that made Americans think they could go around armed.”

Asshole. I understand that this is somewhat of a hot topic right now due to that horrible shooting in Colorado, but I absolutely support the right to bear arms – especially since I’m a female. There were also some snide remarks about the U.S. having a crappy infant mortality rate (which we do, but again, it was said in an asshole way) and a couple other instances. Eventually, the American-bashing got old and I got sick of seeing SO MUCH of the author’s politics and feelings making an appearance, particularly when it really added nothing of relevance to the story.

Anyways, I suppose my main problem with this book was that I disagreed with the main characters on everything. And again, I’m a big girl and I can take a difference of opinion, but it’s that these characters were so freaking stubborn and jerky about it. It just really got in the way of the actual story. I’m still going to try some of the author’s other books (I have Calculating God on my shelf), but this was a disappointment.

I do kind of still want to watch the one season of Flashforward the show, though from what I read on Wikipedia it’s very different from the book. But maybe that will be a good thing.


Sarah Says: 2 stars


A Visit From the Good Squad by Jennifer Egan

Dude, this book sucks.

I know, harsh way to start off a review. But this is why I relish being a book blogger that doesn’t receive books from publishers to review – I don’t feel the need to be nice about a book that I want to complain about all day long.

Soooo… This is basically a book of loosely-connected short stories about a bunch of people who grew up in the age of punk and rock music, so I guess back in the 70’s to 80’s. The general theme of the book is supposed to be “How did I get from where was I was to where I am now?”, which could be an interesting theme in any other book. Unfortunately, the answer for almost all of the characters featured in this book is “Because I’m a self-centered dumbass who did hard drugs and acted like a little asshole for the entirety of my young adulthood.”

The very first chapter was the most interesting – it focuses on Sasha, who’s in therapy to deal with her kleptomania (that’s a compulsive urge to steal stuff). I’ve never really ever seen kleptomania mentioned in a novel before, so I was definitely hooked and wanted to know more – but this is the only chapter that really focuses on Sasha, and she isn’t even a great character – she’s one of those emo young kids who is depressed and unhappy for no real reason. But still, it was a promising start. And then it IMMEDIATELY took a nose-dive in chapter two, where were meet Bennie – an aging man in the music industry in drinks actual flakes of gold in his coffee and for some reason can’t stop reliving every embarassing moment that’s ever happened to him. From there we meet a ton of other random characters who are all screwed up in similar ways and it got really old, really fast.

I read some reviews online that claimed this was such a heart-breakingly beautiful book about growing up and coming-of-age – no it’s not. Books like that are relatable to a wide audience. There is nothing relatable to the general public about watching your best friend blow some guy while he has his arm around you at a concert. That’s something only drug addicts and weirdos can relate to. How the hell did this get a Pulitzer prize?

Oh, and the big “Powerpoint chapter” was 50+ pages of boring slides, and to me definitely seemed like the author was just trying to be edgy. Which she tried to do throughout the whole book. But on the upside, those 50+ pages went really fast and hence I was able to finish this book quicker, thank goodness.

So yeah, I’m sorry to the people who voted for this book as November’s read, but this book is a huge ball of suck. And the fact that it’s so popular makes me think that maybe I’m just not intellectual or thinking deeply enough or something. Or maybe everyone else really likes to read about cocaine and whiny bums more than I do. It was like Holden Caufield in Catcher in the Rye, except like 20 Holdens and way more annoying.

And because I do feel bad about bashing this book so much because I know a lot of you liked it, here’s a far more positive review over at What Red Read. I’m trying to be all fair and balanced. (Barely succeeding there, I know.)

Sarah Says: 0 stars.


Shopgirl by Steve Martin

I feel like I’m missing something.

Shopgirl is about Mirabelle, a young woman in her twenties who works the glove counter at Neiman’s in L.A. She’s bored, struggling financially, and has what seems like a drastic case of depression. Always wishing for company and for someone to hold her, she attracts the attention of a lazy guy named Jeremy and a womanizing millionaire from Seattle named Ray Porter.

I felt kind of bored with this book… I’m not sure what it is. I didn’t really care for any of the characters. I have a hard time relating to characters with depression in books – it always comes off as whiny and emo and makes me want to slap them out of their funk. And obviously I had issues with both of the men that were attracted to her.

I think another reason I was kind of bored was Steve Martin’s writing here. I really enjoyed his book The Pleasure of My Company – it was fresh and interesting and witty. But in Shopgirl, it’s almost like I could tell how aware he was of his writing style – it all sounded too clinical and distant. The  blatant sexual references seemed like they were just there to kind of shock and awe.  Maybe it’s just me, but I missed Steve Martin’s quirkiness and sharp wit here – the whole thing was overall kind of bland and dark. Weirdly, the only parts of the book I really liked was when Mirabelle mentioned exactly how much she could afford to spend on lunch, or parking. I have that same sense of frugalness when I’m getting my lunch at work sometimes.

Overall, I didn’t really like this one. But I will probably try another Steve Martin book because I liked the other one I read, so I feel like I need a tie-breaker.

Sarah Says: 2 stars


The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Man… where to begin. So I had heard some buzz about this book online, but didn’t really pay much attention to it. When I was in Borders shopping the going-out-of-business sale, I saw this on the shelf and looked it over. According to the blurb on the back, “No one who has escaped into the worlds of Narnia and Harry Potter should miss this breathtaking return to the landscape of the imagination.” So I figured what the hell and bought it. The story was a lot darker than I was anticipating.

The story is about Quentin Coldwater. Q starts off as a likable character – he’s really smart, but has low self-esteem and he’s kind of angsty. He often daydreams about Fillory, a magical land in his favorite children’s books. (Basically, Fillory = Narnia. The similarities are really, really obvious.) One day Q stumbles through to a secret college for magic, and as he studies to be a magician he thinks all of his prayers have been answered. But it turns out of the world of magic is a lot different than he thought it’d be, and a lot darker. He eventually discovers that Fillory is real and how to get there, and he heads there with a group of his friends to see what adventures they can embark on.

 Q’s time at Brakebills (the magic college) flies by – I’m not sure if I liked this or not. On the one hand, I’m glad that it didn’t drone on and on. But on the other hand, I feel like I never really understood exactly how magic was working, and like I was only getting a tiny glimpse of this secret magical world. About halfway through the book, Q does some really stupid crap and after that I thought he was a douchebag. I’m not going to go into exactly what he was doing to piss me off, but after that point he could have been killed off and I wouldn’t have cared. And overall, I didn’t like most of his friends. They’re all magicians, but they’re all whiny and depressed for no reason.

Anyways, despite all of this the book flew by quickly. I read the it in two days, and there was a major plot twist at the end that I didn’t see coming. That was really exciting. And I enjoyed that for a fantasy novel, this was actually set in the real world – they mention different U.S. states, and pop culture references. And I liked that the young adults in this book weren’t too goody-goody. They cursed, drank, and generally acted like dumb 18-22 year olds do.

So… I’m on the fence. The story was interesting, but I disliked most of the characters. While the story gets some points for originality in the way that magic was performed, it also borrowed HEAVILY from Narnia & Harry Potter, and that made the author just seem lazy. The characters were realistically flawed, but their flaws made me want to smack them.

I may read the sequel, I may not. I haven’t decided yet. The best advice I can give is to get this book from the library and try it out for yourself.

Sarah Says: 1.5 stars

DNF: Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand

Ahhh… my very first DNF post. Normally, when I decide to quit a book I just don’t bother reviewing it. After all, I didn’t finish it so how can I give it a fair review? I’m doing it now because this is one of the books that won my July poll. I had actually been looking forward to this book for along time; the premise sounded interesting, and I’ll admit it – the cover totally lured me in.

Basically, three women (along with two little kids) go to a beach house on Nantucket to try to escape their problems for a bit and get themselves sorted out. Vicki is a married mother of two young boys, who just found out that she has lung cancer. Brenda (Vicki’s sister) was recently fired from her job as a professor for having a relationship with one of her college students. And Melanie (Vicki’s best friend) after being told by her husband that he’s having an affair, learns that after years of trying she’s finally pregnant. These women meet a young college student named Josh, and together they all try to heal, and enjoy their summer on Nantucket.

That’s a whole lotta drama, but it all sounded really interesting. Now, I only got through the first 100 pages (book is about 400 pages), so here’s why I’m stopping…

1. All the characters sound the same, including Josh. And there aren’t really any chapters, so when the story was switching points of view among the characters it was really confusing.

2. One-fourth of the way in, and I have to say that I don’t like any of the characters. Vicki strikes me as really negative, self-centered, and kind of stuck up. Melanie is acting like a doormat – her husband confesses to an affair, and instead of raging at him, kicking him out, and divorcing him, she wallows in self-pity and he moves into the guest bedroom. And while I kind of like Brenda for saying what she’s thinking and being honest with herself, I can’t sympathize with her too much because of course she caused her own problems.

3. The book (well, at least what I’ve read) occurs for the most part in each character’s head – they’re thoughts and responses to what’s going on. And yet whenever something interesting started to happen, like two of the women arguing with each other, it was glazed over.

That’s pretty much it. I don’t mind books about tough issues, but this just wasn’t for me. It was at turns boring me and annoying me.

Anyways, for those of you that voted for Barefoot… sorry. But July’s almost over, and I have a lot of other books I want to get to. I don’t want to spend my time dragging through this one. I am open to trying something else by Elin Hilderbrand though, if anyone has a favorite by her that you can suggest.

Since giving this one up, I decided instead to start Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. I’m about half-way through it, so that review should be up in a day or two.

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Stay by Allie Larkin


Hey all. OK so Steph from StephTheBookworm and I are lucky enough to live in the same city, and recently Steph asked via Facebook if any of her friends were interested in forming a book club with her. Since I’ve never been in a real life book club before, I signed up pronto. Our first meeting is at the end of this month, and the book we all chose was Stay by local author Allie Larkin.

Stay is about Savannah “Van” Leone, who just watched her two best friends Peter and Janie get married. The problem is that Van’s been in love with Peter since they first met about 6 years ago. After the newlyweds take off for their honeymoon, Van drowns her sorrows in Kool-Aid & vodka and watched reruns of Rin Tin Tin, and accidentally (drunkenly) orders a German Shepherd puppy online. Though he’s bigger than she was counting on, she names him Joe and starts to get over her heartbreak.

Joe is an adorable puppy, and my favorite parts of the book were about him. He only responds to commands in Slovak, he’s big and goofy, and he’s instantly fills the role of girl’s best friend.

Van on the other hand… she’s not my favorite character. At first, I really liked her. I sympathized with her and her night of getting smashed on Kool-Aid vodka was kind of hilarious. But throughout the book it became obvious that she kind of causes her own problems, and I didn’t see any character growth from her during the book. And here’s why she didn’t grow as a character… (highlight to read the spoilers)

Everything is handed to her on a silver platter. Van causes her own problems by constantly getting drunk and lying when she should just be honest. She “loves” Peter even though he has no real redeemable qualities and in fact acts like an ass pretty much the whole time. And any problem that Van has to face is instantly solved for her… she gets $175,000 to leave Peter alone, which she should have been doing anyways. She accidentally buys a $6000 dog, and has to move out of her condo because of it, but all of that is no problem since she has this huge check. A too-perfect vet named Alex falls for her, and hooks her up with a house at half the market price (only $40,000) and even though she lies to Alex, he of course decides to forgive her without any explanation for her behavior. She gets to stay friends with Peter (not realistic at all), she makes up with Janie, and even makes up with Janie’s mother, who she’s had issues with ever since childhood. All of this seemed WAY too easy and honestly, since Van didn’t really have to work for any of it, I don’t think deserved such a happy ending.

Anyways, I would have been happier if the book focused more on her relationship with Joe and dealing with his crazy puppy antics. Van and her personal life were just a little too frustrating for my taste.

I did overall like the book. I enjoyed the references to Rochester, my home town (YAY Wegmans!). And the book was a really quick read. I’ll gladly try out the next book that Larkin publishes, because I really did enjoy her writing. And the characters she creates were really memorable. There’s a secondary character named Louis that just cracked me up. If you’re a fan of chick-lit (I’m thinking along the lines of the Shopaholic series), then you’ll probably enjoy this. If you’re considering this because you’re a dog-lover or pet-owner, you might want to take a pass.

Sarah Says: 2.5 stars

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