THE BOOKISH LIFE OF NINA HILL by Abbi Waxman – double review!

The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.

When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They’re all—or mostly all—excited to meet her! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It’s a disaster! And as if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn’t he realize what a terrible idea that is?

Nina considers her options.
1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.)
2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee).
3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)

It’s time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn’t convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It’s going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page.


Title : The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
Author : Abbi Waxman
Format : eARC
Page Count : 352
Genre : women’s fiction, contemporary
Publisher : Berkley
Release Date : July 9, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis / Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3 star review

As Neil Gaiman once memorably said, “books were safer than other people, anyway.”

THE BOOKISH LIFE OF NINA HILL has an adorable cover, a ridiculously appealing plot, and overall seemed to cater directly to my interests and needs. I mean, it’s about a bookish woman who likes being alone, has a cat, and works in a bookstore (to which I say #goals), so, I mean, this was ringing all my bells and checking all my boxes.

In public Nina was a quiet, reserved person; in private she was an all-singing, all-dancing cavalcade of light and motion. Unless she was a quivering ball of anxiety, because that was also a frequently selected option.

And for the first 50%, I was convinced this would be a strong, even high, four star read. Nina is quirky and organized, anxious and intelligent, sassy and shy, also a total snob (which I can’t say I loved but it felt authentic), and just.. relatable. I could see myself in her, the good and the bad, and yet it wasn’t the painful kind of self-reflection, or too campy and therefore cheesy or caricature-like. The narration was witty and fun and was constantly throwing random trivia and stream-of-consciousness tangents at you and I was having a great time.

It’s hard to be human sometimes, with the pressure to be civilized lying only very thinly over a brain of a nervous little mammal.

Nina had a maybe hate-crush on a member of an opposing trivia team, she voiced her cat, Phil’s, thoughts, and suddenly, after being a single-parent child her whole life, a lawyer pops out of nowhere and drops a dead dad on her. In the sense that she’s inherited a family and possibly something else, too, but she’ll need to go to the will reading to find out.

“Do you young people actually date anymore, or do you run algorithms to see if it’s going to work?”

And so begins this really strange and charming discovery of this huge extended family, people so like her and also different, and reconciling this found-yet-related mass of people into her world view after thirty-plus years of living and being on her own. Throw in a love interest and it’s all sorts of emotions.

Life can throw you major curveballs, but it’s rare you can do much more than duck.

Most of which were good and fun to work through. Even the confusing ones felt natural. I just think that eventually we did cross a line into a sorta campy OTT strange drama where warring businesses threw ice cream at each other in the streets and some of Nina’s charm kind of wore off and overall, with maybe one or two exceptions, I just wasn’t as fond of the second half as the rest of the book. Some of it felt cliche, after having otherwise felt very fresh and different, and the ending in particular just didn’t land for me. 

Do lesbians do this?”
Send dick pics? Only if we’re breaking up with someone and want to make sure they block our number forever.

THE BOOKISH LIFE OF NINA HILL has a lot of great moments — tons of one liners and hilarious observations and I highlighted many many a passage. This book will definitely hook you from the start. I just wish I had loved it the same amount by the end.

** I received an ARC from Edelweiss and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **


Micky’s 3.5 star review

This book was full of appeal for any booklover and Nina was a relatable protagonist in terms of her love for books. Nina was quirky, nerdy, anxiety-ridden, something of a loner but she was actually much better with people than she perceived.

THE BOOKISH LIFE OF NINA HILL had depth and complexity but this was offset by humour, quips and banter. Nina’s inner monologue was insightful into her psyche but also pretty funny at times.

Nina tried to pull herself together. She’d been irritable all week. Either her period was coming or she had a brain tumor, and at that moment the tumor felt more appealing, which probably meant it was her period.

The story was overwhelmingly about finding family and for Nina this was a first. Her evolving relationships with Archie and Peter were my favourities but I also appreciated Millie and Lydia. The family were almost farciscal in their make up and they were rather fun to watch interact.

There is a lowish-level romance in this book with Tom from a rival quiz team, it made for cute reading but I really did want more from this aspect of the story. I felt somewhat disconnected from their own connection.

There were some pacing issues in this read for me, slow parts leading to more faster-moving scenes. I would have preferred a more active pace throughout the book.

Overall, this was a good read and I think this could be categorised as women’s fiction or romance but again, it was less on the romantic front for that genre.

I voluntarily read an early copy of this book, thank you netgalley and the publisher.


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