Subscription Box Review: Bespoke Post

So this subscription box was pretty much what started it all for me. I mean I’ve always loved the idea of them in general but a bad experience with one a year or so ago made me not so interested. The thought of the box was great but when it arrived, it just wasn’t what I’d hoped it would be. So I have been hesitant to get into the boxes since then. But with my husband’s birthday coming up, I started really thinking about what might work for him as a gift. This spawned (as I mentioned earlier) from the fact that I get packages often and the others in my house feel neglected. So I thought it might be fun.

When I started looking, I found tons of box options but not as many for guys. Well, let me check that. There were a lot for guys but not as many that I thought he would really enjoy. He’s not a gamer or a nerd really (he just happens to be surrounded by a whole family of geeks and nerds, but that’s a different blog entry) and dollar shave club wouldn’t work for him because he’s grown a beard since leaving the military. (I have since signed him up for a beard club – yes! There’s one of those – and yes, I’ll review it.)

Bespoke Post really spoke to me though.  First, they gave me the option of skipping a box or choosing what theme the box has. I loved that idea! I mean that’s the fun and the danger of these subscription boxes, right? You could end up paying for a box full of stuff you really don’t use, need, want, or even like. But this option struck me fairly. If my choices don’t line up one month with anything he’d like, then we skip it! I love that idea.

The next thing I really appreciated was the choice. There are a variety of options in this club and I wavered back and forth between several before choosing the Frontier box. This is what came in the box:

frontier-family-square-2

(Photo from Bespoke Post website)

This box came pretty quickly. It’s an introductory box so when I ordered from them, I got a box shipped right away instead of needing to wait for the next ‘cycle’ of their deliveries. It was kind of cool because we got a choice for another box shortly after getting this one which worked as a one-two punch for him. (Be aware of that for budgeting purposes though – one-two punch for your bank account if you aren’t ready for it.)

He loved it. The items were very high quality and impressive. This is the most expensive box we’ve subscribed to at $45 a month, but the value is definitely worth it. These are items I could search out on my own but I’d pay more for them and it would take a lot of time and effort to build them into a box/theme the way Bespoke Post has.

The second box that came was the Cheers box.  I chose this one because the others just weren’t really his speed or style. This one, he also loved. He’s to the point now that he gets excited when he sees a box in the mail and that’s really cool for me to see. I love that this is the gift that keeps on giving.

Right now, Bespoke Post gets two thumbs up from me. Their communication is exceptional. They keep me in the loop on where in the cycle we are, what options I have and they manage to keep me excited about what’s coming for my hubby. And I know everything that’s coming, but he doesn’t – so that’s fun too. I’m highly impressed with this subscription box and if you happen to be looking for a gift for that special man in your life, this may be one you’d like to consider.

*Note: I’m reviewing these boxes purely from a subscription standpoint. I PAID for these subscriptions and the companies have no idea that I’m reviewing for them. However, if you know of a box I should try or if you are a company that would like a review of your process/box, you can email me at notesforthesitcom@gmail.com and I’m happy to see what we can make work! 

Review: The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward

23355896The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: NAL
Date: July 28, 2015

Lane Bradford grew up in a family that makes the sweeping sagas of oil barons from Dallas look like redneck reality television. Miles upon miles of country estate and horse farms and distilleries make up the holdings of the Bradford family, but the cornerstone of their wealth is based firmly in the Bourbon they create. Only the best comprises the Bradford family Bourbon and everyone knows it. Lane was never meant to be anything more than a spoiled rotten rich kid that didn’t have to take over the family business. Firmly settled in the middle of the pack, he knew that his older brother Edward was the responsible one. You see, Lane only cares about one thing; the lead horticulturist from his family’s estate. Lizzie is a self-made woman who lives and breathes the Bradford fortune every day, but she understands that it’s from the ‘other’ side of the stairs. No matter that she’s in love with Lane, she knows that he’s well out of her reach. It’s not just his status either. The fact that he ended their relationship by getting engaged to a socialite didn’t help much.

So much intrigue and drama make up the Bradford family saga that it’s really hard to give an accurate synopsis without retelling a majority of the book. And let me tell you, this book is setting up for something big. If you like wide, sweeping family tales full of twists, turns and sometimes just plain old evil, you’re going to love this book. Fans of any night time soap opera will devour this book. Easily. It reads like a weekly dose of drama doled out page by page. Once sucked in, you just can’t stop turning the pages to see what happens next.

I’ve not read any of J.R. Ward’s previous work (I’m sure there are gasps of outrage from some out there. The woman is a NYT bestselling author after all) but this one got me hooked. The Bradford family makes the Kardashians look like the Brady Bunch. Old money mixed with new money, horses and bourbon are all splashed across the rolling gorgeous hills of Kentucky in this book. And by the end, you know it’s only the beginning. I finished this one and if I’d been near my computer, I would have been asking the publicist when the next one is ready. I knew when I was reading that the number of pages was pretty thin for where we were in the story. But I still didn’t expect it to end there. And I was ready to read more.

Now for my conservative readers, this is not a Christian book. Don’t even go into with the question of that. It’s rated R and for good reason. There are no punches pulled here with regards to what the family is doing to each other, with each other, and around each other. It’s well and duly noted.

But if those sorts of things don’t bother you and you’re looking for a new series that will leave you begging for more, The Bourbon Kings is definitely the one.

Subscription Boxes: What you didn’t know you need to know.

20131217_112816 (1)So I don’t have a lot of reviews for the subscription boxes yet, but I’ve already learned a few very important things that I thought I should share. There are, of course, the basics. How much is the subscription? Are you locked into a plan? Can you cancel at anytime? What if you don’t want the box? (Some companies allow you to skip a box or choose which box you’d prefer.)

Beyond that, if you’re looking at signing up for one (or more!) subscription boxes, here are a few things you might want to explore.

What are the shipping rates?  You need to find out if the cost of shipping is rolled into the box or if it’s separate. One of the boxes that I signed up for has separate shipping AND it’s located in Canada. That means international shipping rates. It’s a pretty popular box, but when I signed up for three months, it added a pretty hefty price that I wasn’t expecting.  Conversely, several of the boxes that I have signed up to try have the shipping rates rolled in. If they say $19.99 for the month, they mean that’s what you pay. Not $19.99 and then $8 shipping on top. In short, make sure you don’t get sticker shock!

When do they ship?  Each subscription box has a cut off date and a shipping window each month. If you sign up after that date, you could be waiting weeks before your first delivery comes.  This may make you nervous about whether you made a right decision or not. Randomly picking a box full of surprise items can be nerve-wracking for some. Be aware of how long you may be waiting before your box arrives or it could turn the whole process into a stressful situation.

Is there an introductory box?  Some companies have an introductory box available the second you sign up. It’s not really varied too much but you get it pretty much right away. This might mean that you get charged shortly after for your first ‘real’ shipment. It’s kind of cool to receive your box right away, but be aware that it’s not always indicative of what will be in future boxes. It’s designed to draw you in.

Reviews:  If you’re looking for reviews of subscription boxes, you need to be wary. (The irony of me starting a series of articles reviewing subscription boxes does not escape me.) Many subscription services are happy to send out review boxes and will do it willingly, but there’s a catch. That’s not always what comes in other people’s boxes. So if I get a box to review, it might be ‘stacked’ favorably in order to get a good review. Most people will happily give a good review in return for ‘stuff’ – so if you’re reading reviews, make sure you find out if they got the box for free. And if they did, is it the same box you’ll be getting?

This whole subscription box idea is pretty cool and has the potential to be really fun, but if you’re going to jump into it, make sure you’re well informed too. That will definitely help the experience!

 

Subscription Boxes – Are they worth it?

1mUxhz (1)Recently I decided to try something different with my gift giving. Subscription boxes.

You see, at my house, I get books in the mail all the time. Sometimes several a day. And my family thinks that’s cool, but that also means Mom is the only one that gets packages to open and at one point, my husband said something along the lines of “You’re the only one that gets the fun of opening those.”  Don’t get me wrong, I would happily let anyone else in my house open the books, but it’s not the same. They know what’s inside and they know it’s not actually for them. That takes a bit of the fun away.

But then the subscription box thing hit and now….there’s a world of possibility inside each of those. I decided my husband’s birthday is going to be something different this year. So I’ve signed him up for some packages to come every month. And then I tried a couple for me.  And now I’m thinking I might be mildly addicted. But still – this could turn out interesting. I’ve decided to start reviewing the boxes we’re trying. :) Hey, I review books, movies, tv shows and products – why not subscription boxes?

Now I do have a confession to make. I tried a subscription box about a year ago that I absolutely hated. And it shocked me. It was a BOOK BOX. And I hated it. It was $50 a quarter (not a month) and it was supposed to come filled to the brim with things that book lovers would enjoy. It was from Book Riot. And though it was a lot of fun to see what was packed inside, it didn’t feel like $50 worth of stuff in every box. And some of the things were just too…not really exciting for me. A mug with banned book titles. A book from some author I haven’t heard from. It just wasn’t exciting and it got to the point that when it showed up, I wouldn’t even open it right away and I’d figuratively smack my forehead because I’d forgotten to cancel. So I wasn’t really all that interested in the subscription box craze. But then I saw some fun reviews and things I thought my family would like – so I’ve decided to give it another go.

So right now we’re subscribed to Bespoke Post (for him), Ipsy, Julep (both for me), Nerdblock (family) and I signed my son up for BrickLoot. I also just added a subscription for The Handy Box and Dollar Beard Club for hubby. It sounds like a lot, but on some of them, I got freebies for the first one, or I signed up for three months at a time – just to see how they are. And Bespoke Post allows me to skip any box I’m not interested in, so that’s cool!

As we start unboxing these subscriptions, I’ll put together some reviews and let you guys know what I think. And if you have a subscription box you’re a part of, let me know. Maybe I’ll give that a whirl – or a review!

Do you have a ministry rate?

mhGxHAi (1)I’m going to say something controversial here. It may bother some people but it’s something that’s been on my heart for a while. Over the course of my business, I’ve worked with a variety of groups from ministries to Forbes 500 corporations. And there’s something that happens within the Christian realm that you really don’t see elsewhere. They want a deal. Now not all of them across the board and it’s not always huge, but it’s there. I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve been told because I want to work for a ministry, I need to lower my rates. But not my service. These ministries want my very best (as they should) but because they’re working for the Lord, I should expect not to get paid what I’m worth.  Something about that equation doesn’t sit quite right with me.

Now listen,  everyone wants a deal. I get that. But not everyone wants a deal because it’s my duty to God as a Christian to give it to them.

Whoa. Yeah. I said that.

I’ve been in business meetings where I’ve seen highly professional people get cut to the quick by ministry leaders because “We’re not going to pay that. Don’t you know we’re a ministry?” Ouch! So because you serve the Lord, I get paid less? That doesn’t seem quite right and it’s always been something that bothered me.

This morning, in my reading, I came across a story of King David. He’d messed up big time and the Lord was calling him to penance for it. He needed to go build an altar and sacrifice and when he found the place, the man who owned it basically said, “You’re the King! Take it!” But David refused. He said ” No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.” (1 Chronicles 21:24)  That, right there, is powerful stuff. David was the King. He could have taken it without a second thought. The man offered. But David knew in his heart that it wouldn’t be right.

See, the Lord isn’t going to let His people, who are faithful to Him, go without being paid what’s right. I believe that. Your ministry may be wonderful and in need. I get that. I do offer some special rates when I feel led. That’s the key though. Because it’s between God and me. Not me and you. My faith doesn’t get bigger or stronger by working for you at a lower price just because your ministry is awesome.  I’m all about getting a deal and doing what’s right. I’m not all about using someone’s faith or your ministry to take well earned money from someone’s pocket.

And here’s something important for me to note. Negotiating a fair price is far different than demanding a lower price. There’s a give and take. There’s bartering and understanding. But I won’t negotiate if I feel that my value is being underestimated. Or if it’s well respected but there’s a flat out refusal to pay fair value. That’s not negotiation. It’s not honorable. And it shouldn’t happen.

Oh now – if my pastor is reading this, he’s probably in a panic. I volunteer my services for my church’s social media, and consulting for the business side of things. But I chose to do that. I volunteer it. I wasn’t asked to do it for free. My pastor and I have an understanding. I go to a new church that’s just starting out and I feel passionate about it. God led me to volunteer those services and my work is for Him. Not necessarily Compassion Church. (Am I getting too confusing here? I hope not.) God gives me very direct leading in what I’m supposed to do with my talents. Sometimes it’s working on a non-Christian project. (I know – I’m getting into really dicey territory here aren’t I?) Sometimes I volunteer my services. Sometimes I do offer a better rate than I normally would. But sometimes, my family needs that money that a ministry doesn’t think they should pay. That’s important to note.

Listen, I’m not trying to slam anyone here. When I read the verse this morning, it just became clear to me. I believe one of the reasons that Christian work (or the Christian label) has struggled to get recognition as quality work is because we don’t want to compensate like other businesses do. The work isn’t going to be as good as that of secular organizations because you’d never see Nike say to a marketing director, “We are Nike. Aren’t you  happy to work for us? We’ll give you half.”  No way. Why would someone put in quality work if that company isn’t willing to pay? It doesn’t work that way in the business world and I don’t think it should work that way in ministry.

I believe that our God is the father of creativity and excellence. Our work should shine apart from that of the world. We’ve been given our talents, our direction, and our plan directly from the creator of the universe. But I don’t think we’ll ever truly be able to shine in the world as long as we expect the highest caliber of work at yard sale prices.

Review: Five Days in Skye for Radiant Blog Tours

9780781413077_3DFive Days in Skye by Carla Laureano
Reviewed by Lori Twichell
Radiant Lit Blog Tours
Genre: Romance
Publisher: David C. Cook
Date: June 10, 2013

Hospitality consultant Andrea Sullivan has one last chance to snag a high-profile client or she’ll have to kiss her dreams of promotion good-bye. When she’s sent to meet Scottish celebrity chef James MacDonald on the Isle of Skye, she just wants to finish her work as efficiently as possible. Yet her client is not the opportunistic womanizer he portrays himself to be, and her attraction to him soon dredges up memories she’d rather leave buried. For James, renovating the family hotel is a fulfillment of his late father’s d/reams. When his hired consultant turns out to be beautiful, intelligent, and completely unimpressed by his public persona, he makes it his mission to win her over. He just never expects to fall under her spell.

Soon, both Andrea and James must face the reality that God may have a far different purpose for their lives—and that five days in Skye will forever change their outlook on life and love.

With a little bit of tour guide, a lot of romance, and some fun, Carla Laureano has created a great love story that will appeal to readers of all ages. I loved how these characters crossed paths and circled each other for a bit before anything could actually work out. It was a great deal of fun watching this play out. Laureano has a grace and style in her writing that cut to the core of the humanity for each character. Flaws, difficulties, wrong turns – her characters make many of the same choices that we do in our own lives and like us, her characters are not without consequences to their actions.

I really enjoyed the way that this story flowed. It drew me in from the beginning and kept me engaged right up until the very end. There were fun lighthearted moments, but it still resonated with depth and truth that can only come from an author who really understands her audience.

If you haven’t yet read this award winning book, there’s no time like the present. This one should be in the top on every romance list. It’s that good!

Carla Laureano is the author of the RITA® award-winning romance Five Days in Skye as well as London Tides and the Celtic fantasy series The Song of Seare (as C. E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons.

Five Days in Skye is available for purchase through Amazon.com.

Note: I received this book as part of the Five Days in Skye  blog tour from Radiant Lit.  I received no compensation for this review and only received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

Those Oregon Bakers….

mi6QgNmHere’s a question. Is it possible to love people and still turn them down? I think if you’re a parent, you can answer that question.  We can’t give our kids everything they want. We could, but if we did that, what sort of adults would they grow to be?

Now obviously, someone in business and refusing a service is far different than parenting. But at least one of those questions above still applies. Can I love someone and still turn them down? Let’s see.

A few years ago, I was approached to market a project by some people who very much wanted me doing their PR/Marketing. They’d heard about some earlier projects I’d done and they knew they wanted me on it. So I investigated it. (This is where I should inject a side note.  I will never take on a project unless I feel I can do great work with it. I feel very strongly about this and I pray over each project I take on. When I pick up a project, I will be actively promoting and marketing what they do. I have to believe in it. I have to be excited about it. Are all of my projects Christian? No. And honestly, that bothers some people. That’s fine. I know I am where God placed me – even on non-Christian projects. ) In this particular instance, I turned down the project. I was not the right person for it. And I explained that. No big deal. The potential client and I parted ways. They were disappointed in my decision but they weren’t angry. There was no vitriol and no comments were slung.

Why does this apply here? Because the project I had considered was financed by a homosexual pornography company.

Now, let me clarify. he film I was approached about was NOT in that genre. I could have promoted it easily. But I wasn’t comfortable taking the money from that outlet. And I wasn’t comfortable with the fact that they had been hoping to use this film to gateway people to their other films. That’s not my project. It doesn’t jive with my company. But if I lived in Oregon, it appears that state laws would make that particular decision impossible for me.  (I’m not an expert – I’m happy to hear from people who are more knowledgeable than myself, but if you want to comment here, I won’t allow vitriol or nastiness from either side. Please be aware of that.) I struggle with that. I’m not sure how I feel either way. I think blanket laws can’t cover all businesses. No store should be able to say that you can’t shop there because you are a certain color or gender or religion or..whatever. But should I be required to accept every project that comes my way? Even if I don’t agree or believe in it? I don’t think that’s really great either – for obvious reasons.

My business is not a “Christian business” so to speak. I work across the board (as mentioned earlier). But as sole proprietor and a Christian, it is a Christian run business.  So there are some things I don’t take on because of that. But with each of those, I do my best to treat people with love and respect. No one, to my knowledge, has ever left feeling discriminated against or even, hopefully, hurt that I’ve said no. I pray that each person I deal with has understood – we’re just not the right fit for each other at this time. Maybe something else will come along that WILL be a right fit. That filmmaker could come back to me with a new project financed elsewhere that I may embrace completely. One of my current clients could come to me with something that doesn’t work at all. I really do feel like I need the right to be able to say yes or no to keep running a business with integrity. (And so many marketing companies don’t. They will take money for any project but they won’t deliver results. Just work. There is a difference.)

So where do we land with this? I can’t say I know.  But I do know this much. This whole Oregon baker story breaks my heart on many levels. There’s so much vitriol and anger being slung by both sides that it feels like we’ve forgotten some very basic manners. On ALL sides. Not just one or the other.

It might sound “out there” but the reality is that we are all on this journey together. We aren’t all going the same place or with the same goals, but we are all on the road together. I sin. I mess up. I’m not perfect. But if you’re walking next to me and you drop your bag, I’m sure as heck going to help you pick it up. I’m going to see if you’re okay. I might hug you if I feel you need it. I don’t care who you are, who you voted for, or what your values are. And I think (in my very humble, not theologically educated opinion) that this is what Christ would want of me.

If everyone had just talked and been able to bear one another’s burdens in this bakery thing, I think it could have gone much differently. But it didn’t. And now we’re here. And my little blog entry isn’t going to do much. I understand it’s the equivalent of spitting into a hurricane. But it’s my little corner of the internet and here, it’s my hope that people can find peace. Maybe some answers. Maybe some clarity. But always – love, respect, and appreciation.

Book Review: London Tides by Carla Laureano

9781434708229_3D (2)London Tides by Carla Laureano
Reviewed by Lori Twichell
Radiant Lit Blog Tours
Genre: Romance
Publisher: David C. Cook
Date: June 1, 2015

Grace Brennan travels the world documenting war zones and conflicts. She’s known for bringing the more human side of conflicts to the foreground. She’s won acclaim all over the world. But her career came at the sacrifice of her heart. Years ago, she left the man she loved before they could get married and it’s haunted her ever since. Now, trying to pull her life back together after the loss of some close comrades, Grace is back in London to see what Ian’s done with his life and if there’s any chance of a new romance between them.

Carla Laureano doesn’t shy away from the tough issues in her books. She’s known to confront them head on. So having a character suffering from PTSD and the loss of several close friends isn’t surprising. What is surprising is the depth of her heart when exploring these issues. Laureano sheds a new light on this world with this surprising glimpse of a photojournalist suffering these issues. As a woman who is married to a disabled vet, I can say that she touched on some of these subjects with a deft hand that opened the door for people to understand more.

But beyond just an exploration of PTSD, London Tides ventures into some interesting plot areas that aren’t usually seen in Inspirational Fiction. What happens when a couple goes too far in their relationship? When they stop putting God as the center and they begin to think selfishly, where does that lead them? And is there a way to come back from that? I appreciated Laureano’s stance on this because as much as I’d like to believe everyone does a good job keeping themselves free of sexual sin, I understand that it’s prevalent in our world. Even in the Christian world. So having a couple make these mistakes and then come back to rededicate their relationship in a new God-centered way, is something that I appreciate. I understand that doesn’t work for everyone, but I appreciated it.

I love Laureano’s books and I’m not ashamed to say I tell her that often. I appreciate her fresh perspectives on romance and the realistic characters that don’t sit on a pedestal. When I’m reading, I don’t feel preached at, but I know God’s love is still woven throughout the stories in a plausible way.

If you haven’t had the chance to read Carla’s work, I’d encourage you to give this one a try!

Carla Laureano is the author of the RITA® award-winning romance Five Days in Skye as well as London Tides and the Celtic fantasy series The Song of Seare (as C. E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons.

London Tides is available for purchase from Amazon.com

Note: I received this book as part of the London Tides blog tour from Radiant Lit.  I received no compensation for this review and only received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

Book Review: Let Me Die In His Footsteps by Lori Roy

Let Me 61KgnZrlEeL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Die In His Footsteps by Lori Roy
Genre: Historical
Publisher: Dutton
Date: June 2, 2015

Everyone knows that Hollerans don’t go near Baines. That’s a fact. So it’s a foolish and dangerous thing for Annie Holleran to sneak up to the Baines place to look in their well. You see, it’s also a fact that a girl, exactly halfway between her fifteenth and sixteenth birthday, needs to look deep into a well to see the face of the man she’s going to marry. It’s a tradition and it’s one that folks take very seriously. Instead of a big entourage of people to celebrate with her, Annie simply puts up with her sister tagging along. But the discovery she makes opens up far more than a just the question of who she will marry. A dead body near the well brings up old history that’s better left buried.
Switching back and forth between the 30’s and the 50’s, Let Me Die in His Footsteps holds at its center, a crystalizing moment for a small farming community; the last public hanging in America. A mystery that unfolds over multiple generations, little details, clues, and hints are revealed through fascinating narratives encompassing two main voices. Annie Holleran and her mother, Sarah. With vivid exploration of country values interspersed with old wives tales, we learn that Sarah’s sister, Juna, is held up as a local celebrity of sorts. Juna’s involvement in the trial and subsequent hanging of Joseph Carl Baines, is something of legend. It’s believed that she still haunts the region with her ‘knowing’ and ‘evil ways.’

As the story unfolds, we learn more about Juna, Sarah, and how their handling of past events shapes the world that Anne and her sister, Caroline live in now. It’s an incredible walk through history and well worth the time for a good read. It intrigued me that some were comparing Lori Roy to Harper Lee and now I can see how that comparison fits. For those who enjoyed To Kill A Mockingbird, this may well be a good choice. Although I will say that just because the main character in the story is a young adult, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the book is good for all young adults. This is a heavy story with a lot of adult overtones and some pretty deep situations. I’d recommend this one for older teens at the very least.

The twists and turns in this story were unexpected and they ended up turning everything I’d imagined about its direction upside down. The plot went places that surprised me and had me re-reading sections to see if what I’d read was really true. They were unexpected and yet not unbelievable. The mystery in this book is solid and powerful. If you love mysteries, this should be at the top of your summer reading list.

Heart wrenching in places, stunning in others, this fast paced novel will keep your mind engaged long after you’ve put the book down. This is one of those tales that doesn’t end when you close the cover. You’ll find yourself completely immersed in this story as it plays out in front of you with details as rich and vivid as any film.

*Review copy provided by the publisher. Thank you!

Book Review: Oh! You Pretty Things by Shanna Mahin

Oh! You Pre51-uAwTOQQL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_tty Things by Shanna Mahin
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Humor
Publisher: Dutton
Date: April 14, 2015

Jess Dunne is third generation Hollywood. Not third generation celebrity like Drew Barrymore or anything. She just happens to have been born and raised in amongst the rich and famous. This doesn’t mean she wants to be either of those. Well, who doesn’t want to be rich right? But famous? No thank you. As a child, her mother dragged her to disappointing audition after disappointing audition – all to no avail. She’s just not star material. So she goes along living and working in the Hollywood zoo, mostly content to just un-stare like every other non-famous person.

But then Jess’s life clicks into high gear in the weirdest of ways. Her roommate, a D-list celeb at best, suddenly hits the big time AND starts dating the ‘it’ guy in Hollywood. And an unfortunate turn in Jess’s barrista career morphs into being more than just a spectator in that Hollywood zoo – she suddenly ends up with a job as zookeeper. Or personal assistant if you prefer.

Like the guilty little thrill of pleasure you get from picking up one of those gossip rags at the grocery store aisle, Oh! You Pretty Things lets you see the ‘other’ side of the Hollywood life. The not so pretty publicist, manager laden days of struggling to remain relevant and cool while being lost in the bubble of your own importance. Mahin explores, with a fun sense of wit and clever snark, what life is like when you live it in a spotlight – whether you want to or not.

This book is highly quotable. Often, while I was reading, I thought about highlighting certain phrases to use myself. Fun, clever, witty – this book has it all. The plot, in many areas, goes exactly where you might imagine it would but this doesn’t make the journey any less fun. Family relationships, friendships, relationships – this book explores all of those with just the right hint of celebrity royalty thrown in.

The only thing I really missed was that none of these topics was really explored to its complete ending. Then again, this in and of itself is pretty Hollywood – to skim around the deep topics a little like a pretty dragonfly. She’d land on friendship or relationship just long enough for a reader to realize it was there and then move to something else. I would have preferred feeling a REAL growth to the character at the end.

However, this didn’t really stop my enjoyment of the book. I still loved this fun glimpse into that mysterious celebrity side of life. I have no idea what Mahin has planned next, but I do know that I would enjoy seeing more of this story. These characters beg to be revisited and put into further situations. Much like Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series, I could see Jess Dunne being put into many more fun situations and I would have fun joining her on all of them.

For my conservative readers, be aware that this is not a Christian book. So there is language and sex and sometimes, some…er…interesting situations. Just want to make sure everyone knows ahead of time what to expect.

Oh! You Pretty Things would make a great summer beach read!

Review copy provided by the publisher – thank you!

 

 

 

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