Tag Archive for: humorous fiction

ROMANTIC COMEDY by Curtis Sittenfeld

In ROMANTIC COMEDY by Curtis Sittenfeld, Sally Milz is a sketch writer who works for a late-night live comedy show called The Night Owls. She has been unlucky in love on several occasions, most notable a divorce right after finishing college. So unlucky that she has sworn off dating anyone at work, and while she has the occasional no-strings attached hookup her life is almost solely focused on her work at The Night Owls. The other writers and the actors who make up the cast are like her family.

Sally started to notice a phenomenon at work where average-looking men who work for The Night Owls become romantically involved with beautiful, famous women who are completely out of their league. In fact her friend and co-worker Danny Horst is the third addition to her growing list thanks to him dating Annabel Lily, a gorgeous, talented, famous movie star, after she appeared as a guest on The Night Owls. She has dubbed this the “Danny Horst Rule” and made a sketch about it. The sketch makes fun of it, but also shows how unlikely it would be to work in the reverse – a gorgeous male celebrity would never fall in love with an ordinary woman.

The “Danny Horst Rule” is put to the test when world famous, dreamy pop music sensation Noah Brewster guest hosts The Night Owls. Sally and Noah hit it off, but she is not sure if she should believe her luck. In fact, she cannot fathom that handsome, talented Noah would be interested in her and thanks to her self-sabotage it is several years before she and Noah connect again, through a series of clumsy, comical and heartfelt emails.

Author Curtis Sittenfeld is insightful and funny. I loved her writing style and how she created Sally’s and Noah’s characters. The character dialogue seemed witty and believable and the relationships genuine. When reading I felt like Sally’s insecurities were something most could relate to. I laughed out loud on numerous occasions and just found the storyline was so clever. Plus, Sittenfeld’s secondary characters – Sally’s friends, the staff at TNO, even Sally’s stepfather – were drawn convincingly and added depth to the book.

It was also really eye opening to see how a live, late night television show similar to SNL works – the timeline for developing the show and how much work the writers and actors have to do to get ready each week. Plus, it is crazy to think about the number of talented people who work together to create something so funny and timely.

Speaking of timely and funny, that seems to be one of Sittenfeld’s gifts. Her writing is both and she has a way of dissecting elements of love and the world of modern dating that is compelling and so interesting to read. Many readers will see elements of themselves in her writing and storytelling. I highly recommend adding this one to your “to be read” list.

Find the book in the catalog.

Review written by: Jeana Gockley, Joplin Public Library Director.

Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams & Beach Read by Emily Henry

As of late, I have been on a romance reading kick. If you would have asked me several years ago if I liked romance, I’d have answered in the negative, but that opinion was not really based in fact. I had read few romance books at that point and thought they were all about the sex scenes. What I have discovered in reading more romance titles is that, while some do have pretty elaborately described sex scenes, most are focused on the relationship and connection that develops between two people, and the majority have a happy or uplifting ending.

I think I have needed these “everyone lives happily ever after” endings to balance out the other stressful things happening in my life over the past few months. So if you are looking for some lighter fare during this time, here are some options:

In the “BROMANCE BOOK CLUB” by LYSSA KAY ADAMS, Major League Baseball player Gavin Scott went from being on top of the world — thanks to hitting a grand slam in one of the biggest games of his life — to having one of the worst nights of his life, discovering his wife had been faking it. He throws a giant fit, moves to the guest room and refuses to talk to his wife, Thea, about their issues. So she asks him to move out.

Holed up in a seedy hotel room, drinking his emotions away, Gavin is introduced to a secret male book club where his friend and teammate, Del Hicks, and other high-powered movers and shakers in Nashville get together, read and discuss romance novels, using them as “manuals” to better understand their wives and girlfriends.

Gavin thinks it’s a crazy idea, but after Thea asks for a divorce, he is willing to try anything. He starts to read a Regency romance novel called “Courting the Countess” and is soon putting his newfound knowledge to use trying to win Thea back.

I could not put this second chance romance down. I read it over the course of a weekend and loved every minute of it. It made me laugh out loud several times, and while the character development was quick, I felt like I got a good sense of most of the characters. The subject matter was serious, but the book had a positive, energetic feel to it — light, fluffy and full of emotions that were easy to identify with.

In “BEACH READ” by EMILY HENRY, lead character January Andrews is struggling. Along with the loss of her father, she seems to have lost her picture perfect life too. First, she discovers her father was unfaithful to her mother. And then, her boyfriend breaks up with her. As if that was not enough, she develops a serious case of writer’s block.

With her bank account about to become overdrawn, she has little choice but to pack up and leave the city for the one option she has — a beach house her father left her. Unfortunately, it’s the place he shared with his mistress, but January is desperate, so she resigns herself to staying there until she is finally able to complete the novel she has been promising her agent for months.

Little does she know she is about to run into a former classmate and fellow writer Augustus Everett. Gus lives in the neighboring beach house and is also working on a novel. The two get off to a rocky start — her yelling at him to turn the music down and him making cutting comments about her — but they soon call a truce.

And more importantly, they make a bet about writing. He will write something happy, and she will write a more realistic-type Great American Novel. The loser will have to write a blurb for the winner’s book. As part of their deal, their weekends are spent on research together. Gus is in charge of Friday nights, and January is in charge of Saturdays. What ensues are a lot of datelike outings, and eventually, January is on the brink of breaking one of the rules Gus set at the beginning — not to fall in love with him.

The plot is somewhat predictable, but it does not detract from the book’s readability or the chemistry between the characters. It is a lovely, compelling title. Both characters have had their hearts broken, though in different ways, and they use their time together to heal, build a relationship and develop new writing skills.

And if you are looking for additional romance titles, here are a few more:

• “The Overdue Life of Amy Byler” by Kelly Harms

• “Evvie Drake Starts Over” by Linda Holms

• “Meet Cute” by Helena Hunting

• “The Kiss Quotient” by Helen Hoang

• “The Bride Test” by Helen Hoang

• “When Dimple Met Rishi” by Sandhya Menon

• “The Sun is Also a Star” by Nicola Yoon

Find in Catalog – Bromance Book Club & Beach Read

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

Librarian Seeks BookNeeded quick! Great book to read.  Looking for a well-written story that contains humor, light subject matter, and well-rounded, quirky characters.  Must be able to hold my attention and keep me from binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy and various home improvement shows.  Physical book preferred, but would consider downloading a digital copy if it is the right choice.

That is how I felt several weeks ago when I found myself looking for a book to read; like I needed to write my own personal ad to help me find a good book.    

I kept starting books, but not finishing them.  Probably not so much the books fault as my inability to stay focused.  But I was getting desperate, I needed something that I could finish reading and use for my book review.  Thankfully, I work with some of the most well-read people in Joplin, so I started asking library staff for recommendations.  And, lo and behold, I found a winner, “Evvie Drake Starts Over” by Linda Holmes. 

Evvie Drake is a widow.  Not your typically weepy, I miss my husband-type though.  Evvie has a secret – one she has not told anyone – on the day of her husband’s death she was packing her car, planning to leave him forever.  What are the odds on the day she decided to leave, he would die?  

So now a whole year later, she still has not shared this secret with anyone – not her best friend Andy, not her family, not a soul.  And then Dean comes into her life.

Dean has lost something as well – not a spouse, but something just as important to him – his ability to pitch.  This is devastating for him since he has made a career out of being a baseball pitcher. However, he is now a former major-league pitcher after getting a case of the “yips” and not being able to pitch with any sort of accuracy. 

Coincidentally, Evvie and Dean are both friends with Andy, and in an effort to help both of his floundering friends, he suggests that Dean, who recently left New York City to visit him in Maine, rent the apartment located in the back of Evvie’s large house.  This will help Evvie pay her bills, since she refuses to touch her husband life insurance money, and it will provide Dean with a safe space away from prying eyes.

After Dean moves in, the two quickly make a deal – Dean will not ask about Evvie’s late husband and Evvie will not ask about baseball.

Thanks to Dean’s companionship Evvie is able to start to move forward and Dean finds a new normal, too.  The two do not end up keeping their deal, and in the end that turns out to be the best thing for both of them.  

Linda Holmes has crafted a beautiful piece of fiction, that in it’s soft, subtle way, was just what I needed.  I stayed awake late reading this one to find out what would happen and see how Evvie and Dean ended up. I was not sure I was going to like how she tied up the loose ends, but I could not have been happier.  I am glad to have found my perfect match in Evvie Drake.