Beautiful Days by Anna Godbersen

Beautiful Days is the second book in the Bright Young Things series by Anna Godbersen that tells the story of three young girls - Cordelia, Letty, and Astrid - and their exciting lives in New York City in 1929.

I enjoyed this book much more than I did the first book, Bright Young Things. The story was better developed and more exciting than the first, and I'm glad that I kept with the series. Book three - The Lucky Ones - doesn't come out until September, and I am excited to see where the story goes.

In Beautiful Days Cordelia, Letty, and Astrid seem to move closer to their individual destinies, as predicted in the first book - "one would be famous, one would be married, and one would be dead" - or so it would appear.

**Spoiler Alert**
Stop reading now if you don't want to know what happens!


Bright Young Things By Anna Godbersen

Bright Young Things is the newest series by Anna Godbersen, author of The Luxe series (which if you haven't read, I highly recommend!). Bright Young Things chronicles the stories of three young women - Cordelia Grey, Letty Larkspur, and Astrid Donal - and their exploits in 1929.

I'm a huge fan of the 1920's, both as a historian and as a backdrop for literature. The Great Gatsby is one of my all-time favorite books. Anna Godbersen does a good job capturing the time, and all the things you would expect to be there are there - the clothes, the booze, gangsters, guns, and of course, Jazz.

I had high expectations for this book, as I just finished The Luxe series, but I have to admit I did not enjoy this book as much as her other series. A lot of the elements that I loved about the other series were missing from this one. For example, in The Luxe  books, each chapter began with a letter, an invitation, a clipping from the society pages, etc., that foreshadowed the events to come in the chapter. This is not the case in Bright Young Things. There is some foreshadowing in the Prologue of the book, when the author writes, "They were all marching toward their own secret fates, and long before the next decade rolled around, each would escape in her own way - one would be famous, one would be married, and one would be dead." But as I read this book, I found that I missed that element.

Having said that, I did like the book, and would recommend that you read it. The narrative continually switches perspective like the other series, and I love how Anna Godbersen manages to weave all of the stories together. And upon further reflection, I'm sure that I will come to appreciate the differences between the two series, and that they are not in fact cookie-cutter reproductions of each other. I might not have this initial reaction if I had not started this series on the heals of finishing the other. I liked it enough to pick up the second book: Beautiful Days. The third book, The Lucky Ones, is schedule to be released on September 18, 2012.

Okay...I'm going to dig into some of the plot points, so if you don't want to know what happens, STOP READING NOW!!


Splendor by Anna Godbersen

Splendor is the 4th and final book in The Luxe series. If you haven't read this series, I highly recommend it! A big thanks to my friend Erlynn for turning me on to these books. They are very quick and enjoyable reads, and the writing style keeps you entertained throughout.

I sometimes find myself disappointed at the end of the series, but I have to say that I was quite happy with how Anna Godbersen wrapped everything up. I don't think there were any lose ends, and although I might have liked to see some of the characters end up with happier endings, for the most part I think each of the characters got what they deserved.

I have really come to enjoy Anna Godbersen's writing and plan to check out her Bright Young Things series next, which takes place in New York during the 1920's.

**Spoiler Alert**
If you haven't read the book/series and don't want to know how it ends, STOP READING NOW!!


Envy by Anna Godbersen

Envy by Anna Godbersen is the third novel in The Luxe series, and it doesn't disappoint. Each book in this series gets better and better. Envy is definitely my favorite so far, and I am dying to see how Anna Godbersen wraps everything up. On to book four: Splendor!

**Spoiler Alert**
If you haven't read this book yet and don't want to know what happens, stop reading now.


Rumors by Anna Godbersen

Rumors by Anna Godbersen is the second book in the Luxe series, and I have to say that I am in love with this series! Rumors has all of the things that made The Luxe great - secrets, betrayal, love, heartbreak, and more. The story is better developed than the first book, and I think that has a lot to do with the fact that the characters are established now. Less time is spent describing their personalities because the reader already knows them, and this moves the story on better.

I have come to really like Anna Godbersen's writing style. Each of the books starts with a prologue foreshadowing the ending, and each chapter begins with a letter, newspaper article, or announcement that foreshadows the events to come. This could easily make the story completely predictable and boring, but what I love is that even though you have an idea of what's coming, the fact that she continually switches from character to character gives the reader a new perspective on the foreshadowed events. She even throws in a few surprises - so even though you think you know what's going to happen, it sometimes doesn't happen exactly how you think. I can't wait to start book #3!

**Spoiler Alert** I have a few more thoughts to share, but if you haven't read the book and don't want to know what happens, proceed with caution. Don't say I didn't warn you! :)


The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

The Luxe is the first book in The Lux series by Anna Godbersen, which tells the story of the young and wealthy in Manhattan in 1899. It is a world full of big dresses, balls, and the trappings of a society where the goal of every well-to-do female was to catch a wealthy husband. The book has all the great archetypes needed for a great stroy - the beloved golden girl who is the perfect society girl, but was a secret which could bring her world crashing down; the "best friend" who turns on the golden girl to suit her own needs; a sister who marches to the beat of her own drum and is often a source of embarrassment; the handsome servant who steals the golden girl's heart; and the handsome playboy, whose exploits are fuel for the tabloids, forced to reluctantly marry to suit his father's political ambitions. All of this and more can be found within the pages of this novel.

Elizabeth Holland, society's golden girl, discovers that her father has left behind a series of bad debts, and now her mother is relying on her to make an advantageous marriage to prevent the family from becoming destitute. The solution to their financial problems comes in the form of a proposal from Henry Schoonmaker, society's most eligible bachelor, who is being forced to marry by his father in an attempt to tame his playboy ways. Elizabeth, who has fallen in love with the family's coachman, Will, finds herself torn between true love and her sense of duty to her family. To make matters worse, her "best friend," Penelope, who is determined to have Henry for herself, sets out to destroy Elizabeth.

The story is full of lies and deception, which are all set in a world were appearances and following the social code of behavior is everything, and one false move can lead to complete and total ruin. I loved, loved, loved this book! I loved the characters and the historical setting of the story. There was nothing especially surprising in the book, and it was somewhat predictable, but it was well written and entertaining. I never found myself getting bored with the story. In fact, I cannot wait to start reading the sequel, Rumors.


Cosmopolis by Don DeLillo

Confession...I decided to read this book because it is one of Robert Pattinson's upcoming projects and I have heard good things about the film which will be released sometime this year. Of course I had to read the book before even considering the movie because of my "Golden Rule" - always read the book before seeing the movie!

To tell the truth, I feel very indifferent to Cosmopolis. I didn't hate the book, but I'm not sure that I would ever read it again. The story seems simple enough - it takes place in April 2000 and tells the story of Eric Packer, a 28-year-old billionaire asset manager who decides that he needs to travel across town (New York) to get a hair cut. He travels in a tricked out white limo and meets a slue of characters and strange events on his journey.

Eric Packer is an interesting main character. For all intents and purposes he is a complete douchebag, devoid of all human emotion. He is almost robotic in his interactions with people. He hardly looks people in the eye, can't seem to recognize his wife that he married 22 days ago, cheats on his wife with a variety of women, and seems to generally be detached from the human race. He sees and feels no value in anything or anyone. Throughout the novel there are repeated examples of his callousness - such as when he admits he only married his wife for her family's money, which he hacks into an account and steals to only quickly lose it in an investment game he is playing surrounding the yen. This is one of the tamer examples that can be found in the book. He seems to engage in these activities with the hope of feeling something, or connecting, but doesn't seem to know how, and fails miserably time and time again. The kicker is he doesn't seem to feel any remorse over this.

The story, while appearing simple, is actually very complex. It is told in a fast-paced way, seemingly devoid of extraneous details. The book appears to be a record of thoughts as they whirl through the mind of Eric Packer. The trouble is, Eric is not very insightful, or doesn't care enough to try and be insightful, which leaves the reader little to go on as far as the feelings of the characters. I would be lying if I said that I understood it all. DeLillo has a unique writing style, and Cosmopolis has certainly peaked my interested in him as an author. However, if there is a true message to be found in Cosmopolis, I think I may have missed it.

I was hoping that in the end, Eric would have a redeeming quality, but if he did, I didn't see it. I suppose it could be a commentary on the dangers of a cataclysmic rise - Eric Packer had nowhere to go but down. He had reached such a dizzying height in the financial world that his life lost meaning. When you have billions of dollars and can have anything, whenever you want it, your life could easily lose value. Eric appears to have lost his will to live - he went through the motions of his life sensing that a fall was inevitable. He saw no challenge left in life, because those challenges had been removed via success and fortune. He even courted danger. Throughout the book, Eric makes a series of decisions that almost propel him towards his own destruction. He makes many of these decisions without considering or caring about the consequences. In many cases, he is just asking for trouble. However, I don't think DeLillo was trying to say that success and fortune where essentially bad things, more like that too much of a good thing can have dire consequences if there are no limits.

It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out on the big screen. For more information concerning the film, check out the following link: Cosmopolis

**Update - check out the trailer that was just released. The movie appears to be as crazy as the novel!