Daily Archives: September 28, 2009

Review & Giveaway: The Smart One and The Pretty One by Claire LaZebnik

The Smart One and the Pretty One coverMy rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I alternated between loving this book and being very annoyed by it. I spent more time in the enjoying it side, but got more annoyed as the book went on.

From the Hachette web site:

When Ava Nickerson was a child, her mother jokingly betrothed her to a friend’s son, and the contract the parents made has stayed safely buried for years. Now that still-single Ava is closing in on thirty, no one even remembers she was once “engaged” to the Markowitz boy. But when their mother is diagnosed with cancer, Ava’s prodigal little sister Lauren comes home to Los Angeles where she stumbles across the decades-old document.

Frustrated and embarrassed by Ava’s constant lectures about financial responsibility (all because she’s in a little debt. Okay, a lot of debt), Lauren decides to do some sisterly interfering of her own and tracks down her sister’s childhood fiancé. When she finds him, the highly inappropriate, twice-divorced, but incredibly charming Russell Markowitz is all too happy to re-enter the Nickerson sisters’ lives, and always-accountable Ava is forced to consider just how binding a contract really is …

I really struggled with this review.  Overall, I enjoyed The Smart One and The Pretty One, but it did push a few buttons for me.

What I liked:

  • I liked the family relationships in the book. I enjoyed the byplay between the sisters, and how they went about reestablishing their friendship. I found both sisters to be interesting characters.
  • Lauren needs to grow up, but she’s got a good heart. Her sister Ava is trying to help her in the growing up department. Sometimes she appreciates this, sometimes she doesn’t.
  • Ava’s been grown up for a long time. She’s always taken life seriously. She wants to share this with her younger sister.
  • The parents were funny and real and touching.  I loved their interactions with each other and the girls.

Those are where the book spent most of its time, and it was good.

I think it is possible I took the book too seriously, but here is what I didn’t like:

  • Russell’s character.  He never clicked for me.  And his tie into my next issue pushed my buttons.
  • The message about appearance. The characters say that beauty isn’t important, but their actions say ignoring your appearance is wrong, and they keep coming back to it. The fact that these conversations take place between two gorgeous size 6 women doesn’t help.

My second issue listed there could make for an interesting book club discussion, because I may well be overreacting, but I might not be the only one! There is further food for discussion in the relationship between the sisters, the male/female relationships (not just with Russell) and in the mother’s cancer storyline. There is a Reading Group Guide as well.

If you think you’d enjoy this book, or want to see if you agree with my criticism, or want to argue with me, you’ve got a chance!

Thank you to Hachette Books for providing me a review copy of The Smart One and the Pretty One. Thanks to them, I’m hosting a giveaway of 5 copies!


  1. Leave a comment to enter. I’ll get your address if you are on WordPress or you enter it where requested.  Make sure it is valid!
  2. If you have additional entries, you can leave them in the same comment.
  3. For another entry, let me know if you subscribe to my blog via RSS or e-mail, or if you follow me on Twitter. Thank you to my current subscribers, Welcome if you are new to my blog.
  4. One more entry if you let other people know about this giveaway! On your blog, on Twitter, another social site. Just let me know.
  5. As a bonus (for an additional entry) tell me what your favorite chick lit book or who your favorite chick lit author is, I’d like to try some new ones!

Having an address (not a PO Box) in the US or Canada is required. I’ll pick the winners in the evening of October 19.


Posted by on September 28, 2009 in books, giveaway, reviews


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The View From Monday

booksI’m participating in It’s Monday, What are you reading? at J. Kaye’s Book Blog.  Head over there to see what others are reading.

This week, I

  • finished Second Honeymoon by Joanne Trollope (and discussed it at my book club)
  • read The Smart One and the Pretty One by Claire LaZebnik (I’m hoping to have my overdue review and giveaway up today!).
  • read Heaven to Betsy by Maude Hart Lovelace (I’m hoping the have the review of the first four Betsy-Tacy books up tomorrow, and then review this one and Betsy In Spite of Herself on Friday).
  • I’ll finish A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore today, in time to discuss it at Twitter Book Club tonight.  (I hope to post my review on Wednesday.  We’ll see.)

I finished no audiobooks last week.

  • It just isn’t the same without my own player.  I’ve been looking into replacements– anyone have a recommendation for an MP3 player that supports bookmarks and plays protected WMA files (so no Ipod!)?
  • I admit, the start of the fall TV season really cut back on my listening time.
  • I finally bailed on The Merchant of Death by D.J. McHale.  Bobby Pendragon was acting all to much like a young teenager, and the book just wasn’t grabbing me.  It actually was coming together a little better after the halfway point, so I may pick it up again later.
  • I started listening to The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. I’m enjoying it when I listen, but it isn’t encouraging me to pick up my player.
  • I don’t know why I’m using a list for this section.  Maybe it makes me feel more organized.

I have coming up:

  • The Thirteenth Tale by Dianne Setterfield for my other book club next Monday. (I’m planning on listening to this one– there goes the rest of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie)
  • The next three Betsy-Tacy books for a blog tour of Betsy and Joe a week from Tuesday.
  • I have another blog tour scheduled for next Monday, but if the book doesn’t arrive by tomorrow (Wednesday at the latest), I’m not sure I can make the date.
  • And one more book that was supposed to be up in September, but again, I don’t have the book yet!

I posted this to Twitter, but I thought I’d show you why I looked everywhere for my book one day this week. The (white ribbon) bookmark gave it away in the end.

missing book

I hope you have a great reading week!


Posted by on September 28, 2009 in books, summary


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