Breaking the Fall by Jennifer Iacopelli

So things have changed a little since the last time I posted. I hope to get back to some of my normal posting soon (like updating my 1980 challenge, which is a lot easier to complete these days than say my 40-for-40 challenge), but I finished my first book in nearly two months, so I thought I should post while I’m still feeling it. I hope you and yours are well and you’re making it through this crazy quarantine time. Some days are better than others, which is probably always true, but these days there’s not much else to think about (except for…*gestures wildly at everything*).

46028668._SY475_I’ve been a fan of Jennifer Iacopelli’s writing for nearly a decade as she was one of my favorite fanfic writers for one of my early 2010s guilty pleasure shows that doesn’t really hold up in the later half of the decade for a lot of reasons. She’s written novels before, but when I heard that she was finally writing a gymnastics novel, I was SO IN. I immediately requested it on Libby.

I was all set to read it on the plane either to Paris or from Paris. However, on the way to Paris, I spent more time trying to sleep without touching things and on the way home, I was just really anxious to land back in the US with the world falling apart around me. I started it once I got home and began my quarantine a few days before everyone else in the City, but the library loan ran out before I could finish it. That’s not a knock on Iacopelli’s writing; I couldn’t really concentrate on anything in the early days of our stay-at-home order. Immediately, I put in back on hold and six weeks later, it became available this weekend. In the last couple of days, I finished devouring this novel, and I’m kinda mad it’s over.

Breaking the Fall follows one elite gymnast on the cusp of the 2020 Olympics, when scandal rocks the national team (shades of 2016). Audrey Lee is kind of an Aly Raisman type, who is the anchor of the team and the captain without trying, who shocks everyone who isn’t paying attention with her success. Nothing is easy when everything you know has been taken from you and yet, you’re still expected to go out there and achieve your dream. Plus, there’s a cute boy who likes you. I flew through the second half of this book after dinner, and even though you’re pretty sure how it’s all going to go down, I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.

It was the perfect balm for a world gone topsy-turvy, giving just enough gymnastics to keep me happy, while really delving into what sports, friendship, and positivity can do for you, in a non-cheesy way. I loved it.

The Nobodies by Liza Palmer

43603284When I found out there was a new Liza Palmer novel on Libby, I downloaded it immediately. It took me a little while to get into it because our heroine Joan is kinda annoying to start. Or she seems to make things harder for herself than she needs to and we never really seem to dig into why.

She’s an unemployed LA journalist who gets a job at a flashy start up full of 20somethings (and she’s closer to 40 than 30), where she doesn’t quite fit in. The bosses are dicks and the people are clique-y and tech-bro-y. She spends a little too much time feeling sorry for herself, but finally kicks it into gear before I was ready to move on.

Once the main plot gets going, the group of friends she surrounds herself with are truly delightful. I wished we got to know her other group of friends better because when they pop back up in the story, I had already forgotten their names and what their issues were.

When I got to the mystery and the intrigue of it all, I couldn’t put it down, but it was a little harder to jump in than I would have expected.

No Judgments by Meg Cabot

41088583I had to speedread through this one because my library book was due today, and I thought I’d lose access to it before I finished! Luckily, it’s a quick read with fun characters, so it was a nice way to spend the evening.

Bree, our pink-haired main character, decides to ride out a hurricane on her new home island (Little Bridge Island) in the Florida Keys. She keeps running into Drew Hartwell, who everyone warned her about because he’s apparently a womanizer. Bree’s running from her life in New Year and Drew’s a homegrown island boy. Though I appreciate Bree’s struggles (once we find out what happened to her), she’s kind of a dick to Drew for no good reason for a lot of the book.

The best part comes after the hurricane when they team up to help out the animals left behind on the island. I really wish there had been more of that and a little less “I can do it myself”-ness from Bree. Also a MAJOR plot bombshell breaks about 90% through the book and then it just…ends. I know this is the first book in the series, but that was a little ridiculous. There are some standard chick lit tropes (i.e. the first man the main character talks to is the romantic interest, no matter what anyone says), but it did break away from some of the most obnoxious ones (i.e. a big misunderstanding breaks them up even though a simple conversation would have solved everything).

I really enjoy Meg Cabot’s chick lit books, so I’m happy she’s back writing for adults again. The next book in the series comes out in August, so I’ve got it on my list for the end of summer.

The Summer of Serendipity by Ali McNamara

33393989._SY475_Turns out, when you’re the driver, you don’t get a lot of time to read on vacation. However, I had plenty of time to finish up the second half of this novel on my flight home this morning. It really was the perfect holiday read, even if it’s set in the summer.

Ren (short for Serendipity) is a property seeker, visiting Ireland with her assistant Kiki (seriously!) to find the perfect retirement location for a client. She and Kiki stay at an inn across from Tara (from Breakfast at Darcy’s) and meet men during their first ten minutes there. It’s all very Hallmark Christmas movie (minus the Christmas – can you tell what I’ve been watching for the last two months?!).

There’s also a bit of Irish folklore and a mystery house in the mix, but I was much more interested in the romance. There are, of course, tragic backstories on both sides, but neither of them quite as tragic as the characters make them out to be. The ending was a little too Hallmark for me, but my flight was landing, so I was happy all the same. Score another win for Ms. McNamara!

Letters from Lighthouse Cottage by Ali McNamara

I recently found a gift card to Barnes and Noble as I was cleaning up around here. Given my new infatuation with ebooks, I discovered that they have a Nook app for iPhone (but not for Mac, which is a little annoying), so I quickly set about buying a few books I’ve had my eye on, but the library doesn’t own.

29429793._SY475_This was such a great palate cleanser from the last few books I’ve read. I’ve forgotten how much I LOVE Ali McNamara books! I still hope there’s another in the From Notting Hill… series, I’m loving her standalone novels as well. I started reading this while getting a pedicure this afternoon and basically couldn’t put it down until I’d finished!

Set in a seaside British town, Grace takes us through a few flashbacks to show us how she got to where she is in 2016. She’s about 10 years old than I am, so I’m familiar with her cultural reference points, even if they aren’t my own. In 1986, when she’s 15 years old, she happens upon a typewriter that can vaguely predict the future. Much like your horoscope, it’s right more than it’s wrong in hindsight, but it helps propel Grace to do things she wouldn’t do otherwise, which ultimately guides her life the way it’s “meant” to be.

She’s got dueling love interests, but like the Hallmark Christmas movies playing on repeat, it’s pretty obvious from the get-go who she should be with. I don’t always agree the choices she makes or the conclusions she reaches from her typewriter interactions, but she’s not usually deliberately dumb. And as a person who is staring 40 in the face, it’s nice to see someone my own age get her “happy ever after” without too much whinging about getting old or if it’s too late.