Perfect Couple (Jennifer Echols)

Perfect Couple is the second novel in the Superlatives series by Jennifer Echols.
Finished on: 10.8.2022
[Here’s my review of the first novel in the series.]

Plot:
Yearbook photographer and introvert Harper can’t believe it when the voting results for the senior year superlatives come in and she won “Perfect Couple That Never Was” with star quarterback Brody. Who would ever think to pair the two of them together when they couldn’t be any more different? But once the thought is out there, Harper can’t help but consider Brody. This is only made more awkward by the fact that they are both dating other people. Well, more or less. Harper’s boyfriend Kennedy is constantly picking fights with her, and Brody likes to keep things casual. But as the two of them try to figure out what exactly their class had been thinking and how to take the obligatory photo for the yearbook, they discover that people may have been onto something with them.

Perfect Couple was a superquick read (half a day of being out sick from work and I was done), and a very sweet one. I think I might have been a tad more in love with Biggest Flirts, the first novel in the series, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the hell out of this one.

The book cover showing a girl holding up a camera for a selfie with a guy who stands behind her.
Continue reading

Re-Read: Dumplin’ (Julie Murphy)

Dumplin’ is a novel by Julie Murphy.
Finished on: 30.9.2021
[Here’s my first review.] [Here’s the review of the movie adaptation.]

Content Note: (critical treatment of) fatmisia

Plot:
Willowdean, known by most people as Will, but always Dumplin’ to her mother, is a fat teenager who is actually rather comfortable with herself. She lives with her mother Rosie, a former beauty queen who is still very active in organizing the pageant. When Will starts working at a local fast food joint, she meets Bo who works there, too. He is a hot, private school jock – and he is also likeable and seems to be into Will. Will doesn’t know how to deal with that and finds herself doubting where she was always confident before. To give herself a confidence boost, she decides to compete in her mother’s pageant – horrifying her mother and inspiring some other girls who never thought they would to go for it, too.

I really enjoyed Dumplin’ the first time I read it, and I’m happy to report that it holds up very well to a second reading. It’s still sweet and fun, while touching on heavier topics, and Will is a great character.

the book cover showing a fat girl in a fancy, red dress with her arms spread wide.
Continue reading

The Constant Rabbit (Jasper Fforde)

The Constant Rabbit is a novel by Jasper Fforde.
Finished on: 17.8.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) racism and fascism

Plot:
In 1965, an as of yet unexplained Anthropomorphising Event took place that transformed 18 rabbits into intelligent, talking human-sized beings. Ever since, they have multiplied and become a part of society. What part exactly that is, is a hotly-debated topic. The UKARP (UK Anti-Rabbit Party) that wants to see rabbit rights strictly limited has garnered much momentum. Peter Knox works for RabCoT, the Rabbit Compliance Taskforce, but sees the mounting leporophobia around him with concern. When a rabbit family moves in next door, and he realizes that he knew Connie, the mother, in college, it becomes ever more obvious that Peter will need to choose a side.

The Constant Rabbit is not subtle in its allegory, but its so supremely weird in the most wonderful way that it never feels preachy. It’s instead a deeply political, funny and revealing book.

The book cover, shwoing a white rabbit in a business suit in front of a red background.
Continue reading

Spellman Six (Lisa Lutz)

Spellman Six (aka The Last Word) is the sixth and final novel in the Spellman Series by Lisa Lutz.
Finished on: 18.4.2021
[Here are my reviews of the other books in the series.]

Plot:
After Izzy Spellman took over the family business in what could be considered a hostile take-over, her parents have started to be hostile right back. Izzy’s management has generally caused a bit of trouble for the business, and it doesn’t help that she is being accused of embezzling a client. With her bookkeeping skills, Izzy might actually have spent some money that she shouldn’t have, but that’s not the point. The question is whether Izzy will actually run the family business into the ground.

Spellman Six gives us a nice ending to the series, albeit not a simple and clean happy end. But then again, when has Izzy ever given us something clean and simple? In any case, it’s sad but also okay that the series has ended now.

The book cover showing blinds being pulled apart in the shape of an eye, behind it a big pupil.
Continue reading

The Shaved Man (Anatoly Marienhof)

The Shaved Man is a novel by Anatoly Marienhof. I read the German translation by Brigitte van Kann and Gregor Jarcho.
Finished on: 3.1.2021

Plot:
Mishka and Leo have been friends for a long time. Although friends may be the wrong word – Leo has always dominated Mishka, as the more beautiful, more charming and more cruel of the two. But one night Mishka is done with it all. He murders Leo – and then tries to figure out why he did it.

I read Cynics not too long ago and I really enjoyed it. The Shaved Man didn’t work that well for me, unfortunately. I never really got into the story.

The book cover of the German edition, showing a pencil drawing of two faces taht seem to be lying down.
Continue reading

One to Watch (Kate Stayman-London)

One to Watch is a novel by Kate Stayman-London.
Finished on: 29.10.2020

Content Note: (critical treatment of) fat hate (internalized and otherwise), bimisia

Plot:
Bea Schumacher has made her career as a fat fashion blogger and she is mostly very happy with her life, if it wasn’t for her being unhappily in love. She is also a huge fan of the reality show Main Squeeze where several people compete for the heart of one person. But when she makes her frustration with the lack of body diversity public, she gets the most surprising offer of all times: how about she herself becomes the next star on Main Squeeze and have men compete for her for a change? Bea accepts, but dating while being fat comes with a lot of challenges – and that isn’t even factoring in the fact that she will have to do it in front of an audience of millions.

One to Watch is a fun read and definitely scratches romance itches, but what made it extra special to read for me as a fat woman is that it features a fat protagonist and takes on many ways fat hate operates. It’s not always perfect, but it is a very good read.

The book cover showing the drawing of a fat woman from behind. She is wearing a fashionable pink dress with roses. Her hair is also pink. She has one hand behind her back holding a ring. Five movie cameras are pointed at her from all directions.
Continue reading

Trail of the Spellmans (Lisa Lutz)

Trail of the Spellmans is the fifth novel in the Spellman Series by Lisa Lutz.
Finished on: 24.10.2020
[Here are my reviews of the rest of the series.]

Plot:
Spellman Investigations is busy as usual, but also as usual, Izzy has to keep a close eye on her family members as well because something is going on with pretty much all of them. Rae and David aren’t speaking, and neither is David’s little daughter Sydney. Rae has gone off to college. Izzy’s mother keeps finding new hobbies for herself so that she is barely home – only it doesn’t seem like she actually likes her new activities. And Henry’s mother is coming to visit and, what is even worse, Henry wants to have a talk with Izzy – two encounters Izzy has been trying to avoid by sneaking and hiding, her usual strategies. And Izzy’s father is working a case that seems to be connected to her own, but he won’t let Izzy peek at his files. Things are complicated indeed.

Trail of the Spellmans gives us some nice twists and turns that continue in the Spellman series tradition, but also add some new elements. It was fun and enjoyable until it ripped out my heart.

The book cover showing a stylized person wearing a hat and trenchcoat. But when you look more closely, you see that the face only consists of eyes that are footprints.
Continue reading

The Spellmans Strike Again (Lisa Lutz)

The Spellmans Strike Again is the fourth novel in the Spellman Series by Lisa Lutz.
Finished on: 18.8.2020
[Here are my reviews of the rest of the series.]

Plot:
Izzy Spellman has finally agreed to take over the family business, but so far nothing has changed all that much. Izzy is still trying to dig up dirt on Rick Harkey, the other PI in San Francisco and a known bastard. Her parents are still doing strange things like forcing Izzy to go on dates with lawyers (despite her boyfriend Connor) and ignoring that small items like door handles keep disappearing from the house. Rae has found something new to obsess about: freeing innocent prisoners. And Henry? Henry tries to be friends with Izzy again but Izzy isn’t sure she is ready for that. Oh, and of course, there is also an actual case Izzy is working on.

The Spellmans Strike Again is a great addition to the Spellman series that I’ve been reading with continuous joy and some heartbreak. We definitely get both here.

The book cover showing many keys next to each other so they are forming a grate with two hands clutching the bars.

[SPOILERS]

Continue reading

Revenge of the Spellmans (Lisa Lutz)

Revenge of the Spellmans is the third novel in the Spellman Series by Lisa Lutz.
Finished on: 19.4.2020
[Here are my reviews of the rest of the series.]

Plot:
Izzy Spellman has turned her back on the family business and has been working as a bartender for a few months now, while attending court-mandated therapy. But her therapy is nearing its end (and Izzy definitely doesn’t want to continue longer than she has to), her parents still hope that she will take over the family detective agency, her friend and boss Milo asks her to take on a very simple case for a friend and also fires her. Plus, there is something going on with both her brother David and her sister Rae, and Henry Stone has a new girfriend. Moving into her brother’s basement apartment without his knowledge may not be the only thing that is costing Izzy sleep, but the biggest question is if she can get to a halfway stable place and make important decisions.

Revenge of the Spellmans is again entertaining and funny, but it also has a more serious emotional core here than the first two novels. It worked beautifully and grounded the series in an important way, I thought.

The book cover in yellow with the title and author's name in brightly colored, big letters. There's also a drawing of binoculars in the glasses of which you can see a pair of eyes.
Continue reading

Curse of the Spellmans (Lisa Lutz)

Curse of the Spellmans is the second novel in the Spellman Series by Lisa Lutz.
Finished on: 7.1.2020
[Here’s my review of the first novel.]

Plot:
Private Detective Izzy Spellman has been arrested for the fourth time in three months and she may think it was unavoidable in the course of her duty, but her parents and employers do not. And her neighbor – whom she has been running unsanctioned but, in Izzy’s eyes, entirely necessary surveillance on – isn’t amused either. That would probably be enough to keep her busy, but with a family like Izzy’s there’s never just one thing going on and there are several family members who behave in very suspicious ways. Plus, Izzy has to make sure that her little sister Rae doesn’t overstay her welcome in police inspector Henry Stone’s life.

Curse of the Spellmans is a great sequel, keeping the energy and sense of humor of the first novel, but also managing to introduce new elements. I really enjoyed coming back to the Spellmans.

Continue reading