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

28 Sep

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


Tags: , , ,

44 responses to “Review & Giveaway: The Smart One and The Pretty One by Claire LaZebnik

  1. Jonnie H

    September 28, 2009 at 11:55 pm

    Please enter me.
    My favorite chick lit author is Sophie Kinsella

  2. Darlene W

    September 29, 2009 at 1:57 am

    I would like to enter please. Thanks!

  3. Darlene W

    September 29, 2009 at 1:58 am

    I also follow you via RSS. Thanks!

  4. Darlene W

    September 29, 2009 at 2:00 am

    My favorite chick lit author is Jennifer Weiner.

  5. Audrey

    September 29, 2009 at 2:27 am

    Enter me! This looks good – I’m curious to better understand what you mean when you say that ignoring your appearance is important. I think I might have a lot to say about that.

    • Laura at Im Booking It

      September 29, 2009 at 8:09 am

      Sigh, no matter how many times you proofread! I had a cut and paste error there, which I fixed, and then added to while I was in there!

      Thanks for pointing that out to me!

  6. Audrey

    September 29, 2009 at 2:28 am

    Oh, I also follow you via RSS.
    And I think my favorite chick lit author is Sophie Kinsella. It’s really hard for me to pick, though. . .when asked that question, I suddenly feel like I don’t really read chick lit. Which is weird, because I do.

  7. Haley

    September 29, 2009 at 5:42 am

    enter me plz!

    i posted this on my sidebar at:

    haleymathiot at yahoo dot com

  8. Lisa A.

    September 29, 2009 at 6:21 am

    I would love to win this one!

    I am an email subscriber.

    My favorite chick lit author is Sophie Kinsella, but I also love Marian Keyes.

  9. Wanda

    September 29, 2009 at 8:45 am

    I would love to be entered in your draw. Thanks.

  10. Wanda

    September 29, 2009 at 8:45 am

    I am a subscriber via Google Reader.

  11. Bridget

    September 29, 2009 at 11:46 am

    I think I’d be annoyed ’cause it’s one smart one and one pretty one. Why not one person that’s both?! Anyway, just posted on Win A Book. No need to enter me.

  12. Cherie J

    September 29, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    After reading your review I am curious and would like to read this. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

    +1 I subscribe by email.

    +1 One of my favorite Chick Lit Authors is Camy Tang.

  13. Maddi

    September 29, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Do I even have a favorite chick lit author? I don’t know. I read those kinds of books when I get tired of speculative fiction or mysteries and don’t feel up for some nonfiction.

    I enjoy genre crossover book immensely, so I’m thinking of the romance/SF entry Lois McMaster Bujold made in the Miles Vorkosigan series: A Civil Campaign. Not quite chick lit, and yet, so much about relationships, men and women, marriage, dating, family, and yet she threw in her usual history, politics, economics, and techonology as a backdrop to the whole thing.

    Anyway, I’d love to read it and see if I agree or disagree with your take. I found this review on your Facebook page.

  14. Pam R.

    September 29, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    I’d really like to read this. It sounds cute, in spite of the fact that you were annoyed with parts of it.

    + e-mail subscriber and google reader subscriber
    + I love Sophie Kinsella and Jennifer Weiner. I also like Meg Cabot.

  15. amandasue

    September 29, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    I’d love a chance to read this thanks!


  16. Lisa

    September 29, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    Please don’t enter me in the giveaway; I’ve read it. I felt exactly the same way you did about this book. And I felt like the only thing these girls could possibly have found appealing about the potential love interests was their looks. Their behaviors would have sent most women I know screaming from the room!

  17. Debbie

    September 29, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    I enjoyed this book although I did also have issues with Ava really being a pretty, size 6 woman too. no need to enter me as I already have a copy.

  18. karen k

    September 30, 2009 at 8:01 am

    I would LOVE to read this fabulous book…please count me in.


  19. Carla Pullum

    September 30, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    I would love to read this book! Count me in!

  20. Theresa N

    October 1, 2009 at 6:02 am

    Sounds like a hair raiser to me, this is a good reason to declutter and throw things away! 🙂
    Theresa N

  21. Just Mom

    October 1, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Count me in the giveaway!
    +1 I subscribe to you via Goole Reader
    +1 Have to agree with Sophie Kinsella – Can You Keep a Secret? is one of my all time favorites!

  22. Ruth

    October 1, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    Enter me in your drawing! I subscribe to your blog. 🙂

  23. Crystal

    October 2, 2009 at 11:34 am

    Please enter me.

    I subscribe by email and follow you on twitter.

    My favorite chick lit book I really enjoyed Hit Reply by Roxi St. Claire. I also enjoyed Hollywood is Like High School with Money by Zoey Dean.

  24. Beth M

    October 4, 2009 at 8:18 am

    Please enter me. Thanks for the chance.

  25. Dina

    October 4, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    I like Helen Fielding and her Bridget Jones books. Also subscribe by e-mail. Tweeted here: Not sure how to find you on twitter but would be happy to follow you there, too!

  26. Dawn M.

    October 4, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    I’d like the chance to read this one. Count me in, please! :0)

    I subscribe be email.


  27. Christine

    October 5, 2009 at 4:38 am

    I’m intrigued enough to want to read it. Merci!

  28. Christine

    October 5, 2009 at 4:38 am

    And I re-tweeted this via cgmanley (twitter)…

  29. Stephanie

    October 5, 2009 at 6:00 am

    Please enter me.
    +1 My favorite chick lit author is Meg Cabot; I’m afraid I don’t have any new suggestions as I’ve been concentrating on classics and fantasy for a while now.
    +1 Subscriber via Google Reader

  30. Jillian

    October 5, 2009 at 11:35 am

    Hrm, sounds like an interesting read. I’d like to check it out, just to see if I enjoy it, since I haven’t read anything else by this author.

    And I have a suggestion for you! I think you would love a book I wrote called ‘Knickles and Dimes’. It’s a really fun read, with laugh-out-loud characters and a great story. I hope you’ll check it out!

    Thanks for the review! And the chance to enter : )


  31. Lillian

    October 5, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    I am so curious about this book as the author is from my home town and I know her sister slightly.

  32. Niveau

    October 6, 2009 at 12:22 am

    Please enter me! I follow you via RSS. My favourite chick lit book… hmm… I’d have to go with Girl From Mars by Julie Cohen. It’s about a female nerd, which is, to me, the best premise ever. No other plot elements required.

  33. Michelle

    October 7, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Sounds Interesting!

  34. Sue

    October 8, 2009 at 10:35 am

    Thanks for sharing this one~.

    s.mickelson at gmail dot com

  35. Anita Yancey

    October 11, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    This one sounds good. Please enter me. Thanks!

    I am an email subscriber!

    My favorite Chick Lit author is Jennifer Weiner.


  36. Constance

    October 14, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    Please enter me. My favorite chick lit author is either Christina Jones or Katie Fforde (Katie would have won a couple years ago but her last few have been very weak).

  37. CherylS22

    October 17, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    I’d love a chance to read this book – please enter me. Thanks!

  38. CherylS22

    October 17, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    I subscribe via Google Reader

  39. Cara Powers

    October 19, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    I follow you on Twitter. (It’s the way I try out new blogs before I add them to my already over-stuffed feed aggregator.) I’ll re-tweet. @Ooh_Books

    I’m going with Helen Fielding for fav chick-lit author, but I don’t read much chick-lit.

  40. Toni Gomez

    October 19, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    I’d love a shot to win this one. 🙂 Thank you.

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