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The Bro-Magnet by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
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3.5 stars

When I started this book, I was super excited. It had a great premise that I hadn't ever read before. Plus, it was told first person, MALE narrative! I'm a sucker for getting into a guy's head, and I actually really love first person books.

I think in this particular piece, it HAD to be done that way. There's no way that Johnny's voice could have come through if this was done in third person. Let's talk about his voice a little, should we? I was laughing so. damn. hard. through the first half of this book. Loud, barking laughter that had my husband looking at me like I was crazy. The storyline was engaging, Johnny was engaging. The first half of this book gets a solid 5 stars from me. And I'd give that part 10 stars if I could.

His humor and personality had me hook, line and sinker. His relationship with Sam was amazing--one of my most favorite things about this book.

But then we got into the second half of the book.

Which, to be honest, was a great big letdown. I felt it dragged on unnecessarily, and it lost the humor that had me wowed in the first place. Through the last half, Johnny...er...John changes almost everything about himself to get the girl (name change, clothing change, complete condo redo, no sports, starts watching General Hospital (whert?), AND HE BUYS A CAT.).

You could see where the story was going from the half way point, which was probably why it was so frustrating. It wasn't hard to see what was going on with Helen, and I think that's why I was waiting for it to just get there already.

Finally, when we did "get there", it was at the end of the book. I had no warm & fuzzy time, as I like to call it--when I get to bask in the wonderfulness of the characters and their eternal love. I got half a page.

This is my not amused face.

So, while this one started out with a bang, it crashed and burned by the end. I'd give the second half of this book 2, maaaaaaaaybe 3 stars, because it was somewhere between being just ok and being likable. But the first half was so funny, so engaging, that I rounded my 3.5 overall rating to a 4 star on here. Who knows? Maybe the 2nd half won't drag for others, and I'd hate to have you miss out on this hilarious book because of how it bothered me. ( )
  CreativeJunkie | Sep 23, 2013 |
Fun. Believable. We have all known people like the protags.

Two people who saw the way their future was going and took steps to stop it. They tried to hide their "reality" but it came through for all the better.

The writing is interesting. I have not read anything else by this author so I am not sure how she writes. The inner dialogue and the spoken dialog seemed to fit the protags well. The H, a painter, not very well educated but certainly intelligent, had grammar issues and a certain inability to express himself. He did not sound like an idiot, nor was he an idiot; but the h, a DA, was well spoken whose grammar was fine. You really don't "hear" her inner dialogue since the story was told from the POV of the man, an interesting twist.

Overall, it was fun and enjoyable. I have reread it and didn't enjoy it as much the second time as I did the first, some parts of it seeming too too -- too too cute, too too precious, too too unbelievable in some parts.

But an enjoyable read if you don't look at it too too hard.

( )
  paideiamom | Sep 22, 2013 |
I have to admit, I was turned off this book initially by the title and cover. If the author hadn't contacted me with an excerpt, I probably wouldn't have bothered to read it. Which is a shame, because this was a hilarious, engrossing read.

I struggled a bit through the first couple chapters. After that the story captured me. I actually laughed out loud several times while reading. I even shared passages with my husband, which he snickered at as well.

There are some flaws. The writing was a bit off-putting at first (the style is very informal) and at times I wanted to smack the characters upside the head. But overall it was an entertaining read. I'd definitely recommend it. ( )
  cranberrytarts | Sep 22, 2013 |
Full Review to be posted soon:

The cover isn't that inspiring but the GOOD GOLLY the story is really hilariously funny. I laughed out-loud and giggled through out this book of the guy who never got the girl but is always the Best Man. I highly recommend it if you really want a fun book which grabs you and I love the diaglogue and humourous exchanges/scenes - Def will be checking out more from Lauren Baratz-Logsted! ( )
  Has_bookpusher | Sep 20, 2013 |
Originally posted at Romance Around the Corner

This is a perfect example of why you should never judge a book by its cover. I know it’s bad, I also know the title isn’t helping, but believe me, you’re in for a treat.

Johnny Smith is man’s man. That means that every single guy he’s ever met loves him. They all find him funny, clever, approachable, admirable, all the guys want to be his best friend and they all want Johnny to be their Best Man. In fact, he’s been Best Man at eight weddings and counting! However, when it comes to women the story is the complete opposite. They all hate him, no matter what he does, men love him for it and women hate him. He’s been disappointing women ever since he was born.

Right from the start, I’ve been a disappointment to women.

Here’s me at my own birth:

On January 1, 1977, after thirty-two hours, fourteen minutes and fifty-three seconds of labor, most of it during a heat wave so bad there are citywide power outages – a heat wave that would have been perfectly normal in Florida, but in New England, not so much – my mother, Francesca Smith, gives birth to me at home at exactly 2:19 p.m.

She insisted on the home birth because she said it would be more natural.

Alfresca Tivoli, Francesca’s sister, is present as Francesca’s birthing coach because my father, John Smith, says it’s women’s work. Plus, he’s scared shitless.

As I emerge from between my mother’s legs – all thirteen pounds, eight ounces of me – Alfresca catches me. Then I do the usual baby stuff: I get my cord cut, I’m slapped, I cry, I get weighed and measured, someone wipes the cheesy stuff off my hairy head, and finally I get handed off to my mother.

“Oh,” Francesca says, gently parting the swaddling to examine my body further, “it’s a boy. This wasn’t what I was expecting at all. I was so sure, all along, I was going to have a girl.”

Then, she dies.

“If you’d been a girl,” Alfresca says, taking me from my dead mother’s arms as the midwife tries in vain to resuscitate my disappointed mother, “this never would have happened.”

See what I mean? Now, at 33 years old, he’s ready to settle down and form a family. But he wonders:

How did I get to be the guy that men all gravitate toward but that women, except for lesbians, mostly shun?

When he meets Helen, finding the answer to that question becomes an urgent matter because he really likes her. So he enlists the help of everyone around him: his friends’ wives, his dad and even the local tailor. They all agree that he should change his douchey ways and become a different guy: no baseball cap, no jeans, no t-shirts, no sports, no belching; but yes to the opera, yes to changing his name from Johnny to John, yes to watching General Hospital and yes to getting a cat.

It’s pretty obvious to the reader that Helen isn’t shallow and that they are pretty compatible, but he is so worried about becoming what he thinks is a better person that he fails to see this. He’s completely self-absorbed and blind, but he doesn’t realize it and his journey is about figuring out that the right person loves you just the way you are.

I have so many good things to say about this book that I don’t even know where to start. First I should say that it’s a comedy and I that I started laughing from page one, right about the “then she dies part” and just kept laughing all the way to the end. Next I should say that the whole book is told from Johnny’s POV and that, plus the whole “journey to self-discovery” part of the story, made me feel like I was reading a bizarre chick-lit, but instead of chick-lit this should be called dude-lit or something like that. I have read my fair share of chick-lit and some I have loved, but most just blurs together, so this book was a refreshing and an original twist to the genre.

I’m trying to come up with a way to describe Johnny and the best I can say is that he was charming, goodhearted, caring, clueless, and yes, a douche. His story inspired lots of laughs, lots of face-palms and lots of yelling “get a clue!”. This is a guy who is wicked smart for some things, and then goes and says things like this:

(Johnny asks his friend Sam to help him get a cat)

“Precisely. Here’s one. Free, six adorable kittens in need of good home.”

“But I don’t need six. I only need one.”

“What are you, stupid? We look at the six and pick out the one you like best. How hard can it be?”

“But it says ‘good home,’ not ‘homes.’ Clearly whoever placed the ad is looking to have all the kittens adopted at once.”

“Oh, for Christ sake, Johnny, just get in the truck and drive.”

Parts of his characters felt a bit over the top and cartoonish. Things like his obsession with sports, his lack of understanding women’s minds, and the fact that he put together women into one huge bag where if you manage to decipher one then you have deciphered them all, felt like a huge stereotype of how men are and not like a real person. But despite his shortcomings, both as a book character and as a person, I loved him. He was reliable, honest, loyal and inherently good. When you have to spend a whole book in company of the same character he better be likeable, otherwise the reading experience is going to be bad. Thankfully Johnny was as likeable a character as it gets.

Another thing I loved about the book was the narration. Johnny’s personality grabbed me to the point where I felt like he was sitting beside me telling me his story. Sometimes first person POVs read more like the characters talking to themselves, but in this case I felt like he was talking directly to me.

The book isn’t perfect, the ending was a bit weak, it wasn’t what I was expecting which was good, but it was abrupt and rushed. The book’s pacing is slow and it drags a bit in the middle, but then I had so much fun that I didn’t want it to end. Helen isn’t really the heroine, she acts more like a secondary character and as love interest, she isn’t developed at all and we don’t really get to know much about her which was disappointing.

Finally I want to say that I’m happy I read the book and I’m happy because I read it. It’s a feel good book similar to its main character: crass on the outside, but charming and funny on the inside. This is how romantic comedies should be.

In case there were any doubts left, I wholeheartedly recommend this book to everyone feeling like spending an afternoon laughing out loud and in the company of a great guy. ( )
  Brie.Clementine | Mar 31, 2013 |
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