I have been a fan of Marissa Meyer ever since I read the Lunar Chronicles, however I never got into the Renegades series, so I was curious to see how her latest novel appealed to me, especially since it is her first foray into contemporary romance. Instant Karma follows overachiever, Prudence, who after an accident finds she has the ability to inflict “karma” on everyone around her. However, the only person it doesn’t seem to work on is slacker Quint Erickson, who during the school year was her lab partner and who she is trying to get to redo their final project. She discovers that he volunteers at a marine animal rescue center and volunteers there too, in order to get him to redo their project, and maybe figure out a way to bring more funding. I liked this one, I felt like Marissa Meyer did a good job with setting up the story and the romance. However, I did feel like Prudence’s karmic power wasn’t really necessary to the story line because it had a minor part in the overall story, even though it was used for main conflict in the plot, it still seemed unnecessary and the book would have still been good without it! I did enjoy the romance and getting to know the people of Fortuna Beach, and I hope there will be more books set in this town, especially since I want to see a book featuring Prudence’s best friend Ari, and maybe even her twin brother, Jude.
After finishing Instant Karma, I started several other books, but I also prioritized reading Avatar the Last Airbender – The Promise Parts 1, 2, and 3 since it was due back at the library soon. It is a three-part comic book (graphic novel ?) story arc that starts almost immediately after the end of the tv series. Zuko, Aang and the Earth King are trying to figure a way to usher in peace into the Earth kingdom now that the Fire nation is no longer at war with the rest of the world. One of the ways to bring more peace is to get rid of the Fire Nation colonies that are scattered throughout the Earth Kingdom. They come up the Harmony Restoration Movement which will forcibly remove the colonies and return them to the Fire Nation. Everything seems to go well, until a year later when Zuko realizes that the situation is a lot more complicated than simply moving the colonists, and he puts an halt on the movement, which also pits him against Aang. I found this story arc interesting, and it was great to see what happened after the end of the tv show. I liked how the conflict was due to a situation that no one had considered when coming up with the plan, and how the Fire Nation colonies have been there for several generations and they’ve made roots, and have established families and relationships with the Earth Kingdom inhabitants in the area. I thought it was a good follow-up, however I did find that the main conflict was resolved to easily and quickly.
If you’ve been following my Workout Diaries series, you might have seen that I’ve started listening to audiobooks while I workout on the elliptical. The first audiobook I picked up was Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price, which was an audio galley that I received from Netgalley and HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review. The novel is a murder mystery take on Pride and Prejudice, where Elizabeth Bennett works for her father’s law firm, Longborn and Sons, and longs to be promoted to the position of solicitor. Her father tasks her with solving a case using logic and he will seriously consider it. She soon discovers that there has been a murder and the victim is Mr. Hearst, the brother-in-law of Mr. Bingley, who is accused of the crime. She sets forth to solve the crime, while bumping heads with the aggravating Mr. Darcy, who is a solicitor for the competing law firm, Pemberley and Sons. She also has to deal with bumbling Mr. Collins and some other characters as she tries to figure out who is truly responsible for the murder. I thought this was an original take on Pride and Prejudice, that had all the elements of a mystery novel, but also keeping a lot of the elements of the source material. It definitely had a feminist undertone, with Lizzie striving to be a solicitor (which, as the author note states, would not have been done in the time period), but it wasn’t overbearing and seemed to fit really will with the plot and the character. I loved the unraveling of the mystery, and who the culprit is, it was kind of surprising, and, maybe I’m just not observant, but it did surprise me a little bit. I won’t say anything more plot-wise because I don’t want to spoil the mystery. I also liked Mr. Darcy and that we get to see a different side of him. My only complaint is that at random points in the book, especially near the end, it would lift lines from the source material which just didn’t seem to fit well, and seemed unnecessary. That being said, I really enjoyed Pride and Premeditation, and I’m looking forward to what the next book in the series accomplishes (unfortunately it only comes out next year :().
I also picked up Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, which received a lot of buzz last year. It follows a young African-American Emira who babysits the daughter of influencer Alix Chambers. However, one night, after called in to emergency babysit, Emira takes her charge to a grocery store, where she is accused of kidnapping. After the incident she just wants to go on with her life, but her well-meaning employer wants to make it up to her, and someone who was there an caught the incident on tape, wants to see justice served. Meanwhile, Emira needs to find a job that offers benefits. I found Such a Fun Age was an interesting read, it held my attention for the first half and then it kind peetered off. I appreciated the message it was trying to convey, however all the characters were unlikable. Emira doesn’t apply herself, even when those around her try to help her find another job, and she has passed up on a lot of opportunities. In some ways I have a lot of empathy for her, but at the same time it is difficult knowing that she has had opportunities. And then there is Alix Chambers, who at first I had a hard time understanding why what she did back in high school was horrible (I’m still unsure about that), but the fact that she constantly violated Emira’s privacy by looking at her phone was awful. She had a weird obsession with Emira that is kind of creepy. And then there is Kelley, who is just as performative as Alix, and he keeps trying to push Emira to get revenge for what happened at the grocery store. Overall, it was a mostly good story, and I can see why a lot of people love it, it just wasn’t for me, and that could have also have been due to when I read it. The ending left me dissatisfied and some of the dialogue was cringey.
While I was reading the previous two books, I also started reading Eat Joy edited by Natalie Eve Garrett, which is a collection of 31 essays written by 31 authors and their experiences and memories with food and the comfort and joy that certain foods bring with them. Each entry also included a recipe for the dishes mentioned in the essays, although I have not had a chance to try and make any of them. I liked this collection, although I’ll admit there weren’t really any stand out essays that stuck with me – but that is just me…I can be weird like that. I do recommend it for food and cooking lovers!
Janelle L. C.