Monday, January 26, 2015

Book Review: Kate & Alf by Carrie Stone

Quick Facts

My Rating: 2.5 stars

Series: N/A

Date Read: January 21, 2015

Source: Free review copy from Netgalley

Publication Date: February 5, 2015

Publisher: HarperCollins

Genres: Adult fiction, contemporary

Summary (taken from Goodreads): Kate loves Alf. And Alf loves Kate… Doesn’t he?

Kate can’t wait for her long-term boyfriend Alf to propose. So he might be a bit of a control freak who’s obsessed with his career … and he also seems to have conveniently forgotten their two-year plan to get married, buy a bigger house and have children. But Kate’s sure that ring will be on her finger soon.

When her thirty-second birthday ends in humiliating, proposal-less disaster, even Kate is left wondering if Alf really is The One. Then Alf’s friend, Marcus, needs a place to stay. With his dark eyes, easygoing manner and kind concern for Kate, Marcus is everything Alf is not - and it's not long before Kate begins to wonder if there’s more to life than diamonds.
When Kate's boyfriend Alf tells her about the surprise he has planned for her birthday, she expects a proposal. Things begin going wrong early on, with a ruined dress and Alf driving to a place Kate completely didn't expect for the party. She does not get a ring, but a puppy, and she can't help but wonder how Alf got things so wrong.

As misunderstandings and lack of communication continue, Kate's doubts about her seven-year relationship grow. Although I personally thought the Goodreads synopsis hinted at a love triangle, there is not one - which was a great relief. This book focuses on Kate and Alf, just like the title says.

Before I began this review, I kept trying to think of ways to describe this book without using the word dull. But in the end, I can't. I cared about Kate, by the end, and wanted to see her happy. I even cared about most of the other characters and what happened to them. But it wasn't enough.

The events themselves were not out of the ordinary - mostly, we followed the daily life of Kate, although this story was told in third-person point of view. We saw everyone's thoughts, even those of a few side characters. Nobody had an extraordinary life, but that's not the problem - or at least, I didn't see it as a problem.

The writing is what ultimately ruined this book. The dialogue never felt quite believable to me - I kept wondering who actually spoke like that. The story was not told in an interesting way, although I think it could have been. The writing itself just wasn't engaging.

It seems to me like this book tried too hard, and played things too safe. There was also a bit too much story for me here - I felt like many characters and relationships were only introduced in order to add twists to the story. It didn't work, and it took away from the main characters and their stories.

Honestly, I have a difficult time making sense of my feelings for this - because it was both too much, and not enough. There were too many points of view shown, too many romantic relationships, too many cliches. But there was not enough of the main story - not enough Kate and Alf. Not enough focus on any individual part of the book, because there were too many subplots.

Overall, I like what this book was trying to do. I liked its viewpoint on relationships and doing what is right for yourself. But I also felt like the story was all over the place, and for that reason I did not enjoy it like I hoped to.

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