My take on 3 summer blockbusters

My take on 3 summer blockbusters

I’ve had my eye on these new releases for months, and I’m sure many of you have, too.

Here’s the lowdown on three of summer’s hot new releases.

ONE PLUS ONE: A NOVEL

by JoJo Moyes

Release date: July 1

One Plus OneI’ve been eagerly awaiting Moyes’s latest because I loved her previous books The Girl You Left Behind and Me Before You.

It was almost what I expected: an entertaining novel that won’t win any prizes for great literature, but is nevertheless un-put-down-able. But the plot was unlike Moyes’s previous works, focusing on a single mom, her weird kids, and a geeky tech guy.

Of note: blogging ends up playing a small but significant role. I’ve gotta admit I liked that part.

I listened to this book on Audible, which I really enjoyed. The story is told from four different points of view, with different voices for each. (New Audible customers can listen to it for free.)

BIG LITTLE LIES

by Liane Moriarty

Release date: July 29

Big-Little-LiesEver since I read—and loved—What Alice Forgot, my expectations for Moriarty’s novels have been alarmingly high.

Her latest focuses on three Aussie moms who have children in the same kindergarten class. We know from the prologue that the book culminates with a murder at the school’s trivia night fundraiser; what we don’t know is who, or how.

At first, I was bewildered by the tone and format. I enjoyed it much more once I realized it was quite similar to Baz Luhrman’s awesomely ridiculous screwball ’80s movie Strictly Ballroom.

Don’t read Big Little Lies straight. (Oh, calamity. That’s a mistake.) Read it as a satirical take on the strange relationships of kindy moms, and you just might enjoy it. (But pay close attention to how adroitly Moriarty addresses domestic violence. That plot line was all too real, and I hope proves to be an empowering one for readers who have been in Celeste’s shoes.)

But if you’ve never read a Liane Moriarty novel, start with What Alice Forgot.

LANDLINE

by Rainbow Rowell

Release date: July 8, 2014

LandlineIt’s possible Landline is a helpless victim of my high expectations, but I didn’t love it. It’s aimed at adults, but reads like young YA. The voice feels immature, and all wrong for the storyline. The discrepancy is jarring.

The “landline” of the title is a magical yellow rotary phone that can call the past. I’m perfectly willing to roll with a fantastical plot line if the story is good, but I need some good material to work with.

There is some good writing here, and a sweet backstory here, which draws attention to why people make the choices they do, and how relationships drift over time.

If you’re really curious, I don’t think you’ll feel like you totally wasted a few hours of your life by giving Landline a try. But prepare to be underwhelmed.

Have you read any of these yet? Are you planning on it? I’d love to hear your thoughts in comments. 

26 comments | Comment

26 comments

  1. Kiana says:

    My library FINALLY got Me Before You and I checked it out last night! Very excited! Have not read anything of hers.

    I really enjoyed What Alice Forgot but did not really love The Husband’s Secret so I was not sure if I wanted to read her newest one.

  2. Terri says:

    These are three titles I’ve been waiting for since I heard of their release. I listened to One Plus One and truly enjoyed it. The characters were quirky and unexpected. JoJo Moyes tells a good story, she kept me interested enough to clean cupboards and organize drawers until the end.

    I finished Landline yesterday. Marriages do drift and it’s not always easy to find your way back. I actually liked the idea of the “magic yellow phone”! Think of all the things you wish you’d said to your husband over in the past, what a gift to have that, to be able to see him as the person you first fell in love with. I don’t know, maybe I’m just a romantic or a sap, but I did love the story and would recommend it. No it isn’t great literature, but it did give me some things to think about.

    Liane Moriarty is another great story teller. I first read The Husband’s Secret, then went back and read everything I could find by her and I liked them all. I’m anxiously awaiting Big Little Lies.

  3. Codi says:

    Yes to all the things! Actually I haven’t seen the new Liane Moriarty yet BUT I just read What Alice Forgot and it was ah-may-zing. I picked up Landline, One Plus One, The Storied Life of AJ Firky, and Summer House With Swimming Pool at the library on Tuesday and I’m 1.5/4 so far. (Get unexpectedly laid off of your job on a Monday? Realize on Tuesday that you now have time to read outside in the sun!! Silver linings and glasses half full of sangria and all of that.) Anyway, cliffs: I was just super excited and felt like one of the cool kids when I just saw I was reading some of the same stuff as you at close to the same time instead of a year later…even if it’s because of my new-found unemployment. Enjoying it while it lasts (catch 22, hopefully it doesn’t last too long!)

    • Anne says:

      Oh no! I like your summertime glasses half full of sangria take. Enjoy your reading time—and I’m wishing you all the good things for your next job!

  4. Nolo says:

    I just read One Plus One and loved it. My best way of describing it to friends was that it was like a really good romantic comedy movie but in book form. (The description of the children as “weird” seems a tad judgmental. Maybe unusual or different is more apt?)

    Landline had been on my “to read” list but it may take a backseat for awhile. Ever since I read and loved The Husband’s Secret, I’ve been a big fan of LIane Moriarty’s so I’m planning to read Big Little Lies.

    • Anne says:

      I should have clarified “weird” was Jess’s description of her own kids!

      I love your description of the book: like a romantic comedy, on paper. Perfect.

  5. Alissa says:

    I agree with your assessment although I haven’t gotten my hands on “Big Little Lies” yet, so I’m glad to have your perspective regarding reading it as satire. I was disappointed with “Landline” as it didn’t live up to my expectations and I just didn’t like Georgie. I enjoyed “One Plus One” even though it was a departure from Moyes. I’ve heard it described as a cross between “Little Miss Sunshine” (epic road trip) and “Bridget Jones’ Diary.”

  6. I’m excited to dig into One Plus One. I liked Me Before You and really enjoyed The Girl You Left Behind. I didn’t love Landline – several of your complaints were mine, Anne. I wasn’t totally convinced that Georgie and Neal should have gotten married in the first place.

    As you know, Big Little Lies wasn’t my thing, but I’m glad you liked it enough to stick with it!

  7. Leslie says:

    These are all on my list. Just finished The Last Letter From Your Lover by Moyes and Landline is up next. I know you’re taking We Were Liars off your list, but you may want to add Jellicoe Road. Its YA, has a twist and the writing reminded me slightly of WWL. I liked both, but Jellicoe Road was better for me.

    • Anne says:

      Thanks for the tip on Jellicoe Road! (How did you like The Last Letter from Your Lover? I haven’t read that one.)

      • Leslie says:

        I enjoyed it, especially the first half that takes place in 1960. You could almost see it as a movie in your mind – the way they speak, the descriptions of their clothing and relationships. It got a little long, but it was good and have a very satisfying ending the way it was all woven together. Definitely a romance or star-crossed lovers.

    • Tara says:

      I second the Jellicoe Road nomination. The trick is to stick with it because the beginning is strange and confusing. I think if Melina Marchetta were an American author we would be worshipping at her alter for the Writing Goddess that she is. I’ve read all of her books and each is just great quality.

  8. I know this doesn’t pertain to the conversation, but as much as I love books, I’ve never listened to an audio version. Am I missing out? Just not sure if I would like it and I know you can’t tell me if I would! haha. Are they really quite enjoyable?

    • Anne says:

      I think it depends on the book and how good the performance is. I loved One Plus One as an audiobook. Others I’ve enjoyed recently are The Rosie Project, The Girl You Left Behind, The Mysterious Benedict Society, and Harry Potter. Audible gives you one free to try it so you might as well. 🙂

  9. Breanne says:

    I’m in the middle of One plus One right one and enjoying it thus far. Me Before You is still my fav by her but I like her style.
    I just added Big Little Lies to my list mostly for the Aussie characters and the satire- thanks for the heads up about that.

    Yay for being back home and able to use the library again. =)

  10. Grace says:

    I’m sad to hear that you didn’t particularly like Landline. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m in line for it at the library. I loved Eleanor & Park so much when I read it last summer, but (while still enjoyable) Attachments and Fangirl were unable to come close to that level. I had had higher hopes for Landline.

  11. Lisa Nelson says:

    I read Me Before You last weekend…and quickly went and deleted her other books from my GoodReads ‘to be read’ list! Read it because of all the rave reviews and the hype for her new book but sorry, just didn’t like it.
    And yes, I feel very alone in that! ;-). Oh well. On to the next book on my list!

  12. Francie says:

    The only one of these I have read is Big Little Lies, and I really enjoyed it. I found it impossible to put down because I wanted to know who died. She did a great job of combining serious, funny, and dark content. I still think What Alice Forgot is her best book (and I’ve read most of them), but I am glad I read Big Little Lies.

  13. bethany says:

    Okay, ignore my other comment asking you what you thought of Landline!

    I LOVE LOVE LOVED One Plus One — I’m not a mum but I heard Jojo Moyes at an event and she said the motivation for the story came from wanting to write a story about a parent/child relationship that WASN’T all tumultuous and angsty– but instead to write a story about a family that goes through things together. Loved it… I also have a thing for road trips 😉

    And I was also super impressed with BIG LITTLE LIES — I forgot how much I had loved WHAT ALICE FORGOT but she is such a master at these slice-of-life plus a little bit of mystery type stories.

    I really did like LANDLINE, but I hear what you’re saying… adult fiction with a little bit of fantasy/whimsy is a little *different* to say the least. I did love the very real portrayal of marriage and some of the “slice of life” scenes hurt my heart because they felt TOO real… in the not-at-all-glamorous-really-REAL way.

  14. Mandy says:

    I read “One Plus One” and “Landline” after finding this post. I wasn’t familiar with either author beforehand but ended up enjoying both books. We’ll have to agree to disagree on them. I found “Landline” much more compelling than “One Plus One,” but both were definitely worth taking time to read.

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