Tag Archives: Penguin

Review: The New Me

The New Me

The New Me
By Halle Butler
Penguin Books, 9780143133605, March 5, 2019, 208pp.

The Short of It:

Think “The Office” minus all the funny characters who make it laughable.

The Rest of It:

Millie is a thirty-something who hasn’t quite figured out how to be a grown-up. She lives alone in an apartment that is partly paid for by her parents. Friends? Not many. She eats poorly and has become a slob. Dressing is too much effort. Just getting up is too much effort but she drags herself to and from her temp job, hoping for a permanent position.

Millie embodies what I think most people this age feel these days. Their social skills are lacking to the point where everything they do is marked by awkwardness. A simple interaction with a co-worker becomes an anxiety-ridden experience and miscommunications become a daily occurrence. Millie is woefully aware of her shortcomings. Because of this, I found myself wanting to take her out for a coffee just so I could give her a little pep talk.

I really enjoyed The New Me. At first, I thought the entire book would be an outline of her day-to-day existence but although there is a lot of that (what she wears, eats, thinks, does), there is enough self-discovery going on for it all to have a purpose.

I found Butler’s take on cube life to be quite accurate. I’ve always had an office but for the past two years have been working out of a very nice, well-appointed cubical and all the little details she adds to embellish office life are spot on. The noises. The sighs. The trash cans and the smells. I found much of the book humorous but in a dark way.

The ending was interesting and honestly, can be interpreted in a couple different ways. I kind of liked that it was up to me but maybe I am the only one to see the alternate possibility? I haven’t seen it mentioned elsewhere.

Anyway, enjoyable and short and if you’ve ever had to work in a cube or struggled to get by as a young person, you will be able to relate.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Fierce Kingdom

Fierce Kingdom

Fierce Kingdom
By Gin Phillips
Penguin Books, 9780735224520, July 2018, 288pp.

The Short of It:

A tense, gripping story about a woman and her young son fighting to stay alive during an active shooting situation at the zoo.

The Rest of It:

After a lovely day at the zoo, Joan and her four-year-old son Lincoln, slowly make their way to the exit when shots ring out. At first, the sounds do not make any sense. Fireworks? At the zoo? At the end of the day?  As Lincoln chatters away, Joan sees the first body. She’s barely had time to process what’s she’s seen before she is picking Lincoln up and running for their lives.

This book will have you sitting on the edge of your seat. I chose it for my birthday read but it was far from relaxing! Phillips does an awesome job of setting the scene. It’s the zoo, after all and while reading I could “see” all of the animals, the foliage, the enclosures and I could “smell” everything too. I was right there with Joan and Lincoln and let me tell you, it was like I was living it myself.

The entire book is Joan and her son trying to survive. As you can imagine, keeping a four-year-old entertained and quiet is hard on any day but when you are trapped in an enclosure and every sound could give you away, finding ways to keep your son happy becomes a priority. Lincoln is a great kid but he gets hungry, thirsty and needs to go to the bathroom. He doesn’t understand what is going on or why they have to hide even though he’s clear who the bad guys are. It’s all an adventure to him but for Joan, she is beside herself with worry. Will they make it out alive?

I really enjoyed this book. It gave me such anxiety to read it but I read it in one sitting and it just seemed so authentically written. The mom stuff, the kid stuff, and the setting. With so few characters, I’m sure the challenge was how to keep it going but Phillips did.

If you want to spend a few hours totally riveted, then pick up a copy of Fierce Kingdom. It’s been picked up for a movie adaptation too.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.