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For Rent: The Apartment Manager Series by…

For Rent: The Apartment Manager Series

by Erin Huss

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So you're an apartment manager and you blog about your experiences.

What's the logical next step? Writing a story about an apartment manager, of course. Heck, why not be ambitious and aim for a whole series of books? As Erin Huss, owner of The Apartment Manager's Blog, says on her Goodreads page, "I have a lot of inspiration right at my fingertips." Her blog contains many mildly humorous anecdotes, so I was expecting a similarly light style; this is the kind of fiction that's easy to pick up and keep track of.

What's it about?

Cambria Clyne is about to be evicted from her apartment. She has a young daughter, debts and no job, so her life can only get better. Right?

Having applied for jobs as a phone sex operator and burger flipper, Cambria pins her hopes on one final interview. Becoming an apartment manager sounds simple enough, though the outgoing apartment manager seems very keen to leave (a fact that escapes our erstwhile heroine, who's too busy spluttering through Joyce's nicotine fog to insist that the outgoing manager should actually offer her some training besides 'don't go in the third courtyard - ever').

'It was clear this was a ship of fools, and I was the captain, janitor, psychologist and cruise director.'

Almost immediately, Cambria realises that she may have taken on more than she can handle, but refuses to be fazed by her own ignorance, the maintenance man's incompetence or the tenants' myriad 'quirks'. She will keep her job and she will solve the sudden crime wave afflicting the previously staid apartments, even if half the residents are threatening to leave and the other half are mad. After all, she's out of options. Unless baby-daddy Tom wants to throw a lifeboat out of the FriendZone...

What's it like?

Imagine Stephanie Plum retired from bounty hunting to become an apartment manager. As Cambria herself explains, 'running toward mediocrity felt more natural', and 'I had a habit of sprinting to the absolute worst possible conclusion, and then sticking to it, unable to let go even if I wanted to, hostage to an exaggerated mind and the continual "what ifs".' Like Plum, she has car troubles ('If someone stole my car, I'd be...Who was I kidding? No one would steal my car.'), man troubles ('I couldn't tell if he was flirty-teasing or insult-teasing. Should I be upset or aroused?') and finds it impossible to keep away from danger.

The odd tenants are mildly entertaining, though it's Cambria's interactions with them that provide the real 'meat' of the comedy. For instance, the gossipy nature of communal living becomes abundantly clear when Cambria finds herself accused of not just her usual sins (not being Joyce, allowing crime to occur), but of having a threesome with two elderly residents (possibly the most entertaining moment in the whole book).

The storyline is relatively engaging for most of the book; there're plenty of hints that Cambria has taken on more than she signed up for and then there's a genuine question mark surrounding who is causing all the 'crime'. Unfortunately, the ending is a little weak and seems to exist purely to create a set-up for what will (presumably) be the next book in the series. So far Huss has opted to pen a novella prequel and what appears to be some kind of featurette focusing on rent collection, but the branding strongly implies there's a second novel planned at some stage, as does the ending of 'For Rent'.

At the close of the storyline (which, incidentally, never explains why residents' cars were being targeted (thereby drawing attention to more substantial crimes!) or how exactly a key incident occurred), we're treated to an epilogue that exists largely to introduce the idea of one character plotting revenge against Cambria. It really annoys me when authors do this. Trust your own writing. If you wrote a good enough book, people will want to read the next in the series because they like your style, rather than because you've introduced a clanger of a cliffhanger to drum up sales.

Final thoughts

This was easy to read and intriguing enough to keep me reading until 2am one night, but for all its similarities to Janet Evanovich's novels (Cambria is even torn between two men, one 'safe', one toe-curlingly sexy but a bit more dangerous), the weak ending left me feeling underwhelmed and I really didn't appreciate the lead-in to book two. There's definitely an audience for this lightly humorous mystery, but I think I'm going to stick with Stephanie Plum when I want to read about a plucky-but-slightly-daft heroine sticking her nose into dangerous waters.

Thanks to Librarything Early Reviewers for providing me with a free copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  brokenangelkisses | Sep 14, 2016 |
I really enjoyed this book. I liked Cambria's quirky personality and the fact that she seems to get things figured out even though everything is falling apart around her. She uses humor to get through her seemingly daily crises and all her hard work and perseverance is finally rewarded. Definitely worth reading and I'm looking forward to more books by Erin Huss. ( )
  TammiKroeger | Sep 12, 2016 |
This book I got into right away. It was fast and fun and in some ways reminded me of Stephanie Plum books. This book is a keeper to read. It's about a single mother, Cambria, that is having a hard time making ends meet so takes a job as an apartment superintendent and knows absolutely nothing about the job. She try's to play detective with the people in the complex. Quite a fun read. The ending I think wasn't the greatest, but all in all, I really liked it. ( )
  Kerriden | Aug 25, 2016 |
For Rent by Erin Huss is a novel with 39 chapters. I received the book from the Library Thing Member Giveaway program in return for a review. Each chapter is filled with sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek humor as the reader is led to possibly commiserate with the series of disasters that is Cambria’s life. The humor, the vernacular, and absurd situations make the book enjoyable. There is nothing deep, no philosophical messages here. I have used this phrase before to describe what I think of this type of novel and I will use it again. This is a novel that is fun but if I left it on the bus during a cross-country road trip I would not be upset. And I would have offered a diversion to travelers following me.

Cambria needs a job ... fast. She is about to be evicted, she has no income, she has a daughter, Lilly, and she has no clue about what she wants to do in her life. Responding to an ad for an apartment manager, she arrives for an interview at a motel/hotel that quite probably rents to tenants by the hour as well as to others who are just ahead of her in the index of desperation to get by in the daily struggle. The soon-to-be-retired present manager, Joyce should train Cambria, but after being finally accepted for the job the extent of Cambria’s training seems to be “Don’t go to courtyard three… ever, and avoid Kevin… always. Kevin is the son of the owner, lives for free, and is morbidly unusual.

The novel proceeds as Cambia deals with a variety of eccentric occupants. An elderly grandparent type couple keeps other residents awake day and night with their sexual adventures. The maintenance man, super handsome and seductive, a man who works for Cambria, can’t seem to maintain anything and appears frequently stoned on drugs.

Just after Cambria assumes her new duties, the apartment complex is hit with a crime wave. There are many cars stolen (except for those reported as stolen but were in actuality repossessed) and damaged or “keyed.” Mysterious figures come and go; Cambria thinks there are criminal enterprises and she wants to investigate.

In a hotel with so many eccentric guests author Huss has many tales to tell and the tales are told with humor to the point of absurdity and, sometimes, despair. An interesting device is that almost all of her chapters begin with a quote of a hotel rule. As the story progresses, the rules become more absurd as does the supporting tale. Cambria wants to give up, but that is financially impossible. One example:

“I could deal with screeching parrots and sex-crazed grandparents and stolen wallets in the Dumpster. I could even listen to Larry talk about his hemorrhoids. However, I could not, nor would I, put up with Kevin. I was desperate for the job, yes. I had an overdrawn account, yes. I didn’t have the funds for another apartment, yes. I… forgot where I was going with this. I couldn’t leave, therefore, Kevin had to. And honestly, he needed to. Sane people didn’t skinny-dip in a community pool at midnight or masturbate in neighbors’ apartments.” (loc 1189-1193).

If you have the spare time and are looking for lighthearted entertainment, this is a book for you. ( )
  ajarn7086 | Aug 1, 2016 |
I received an advance copy of this title through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program, and I have to confess that I requested it because I thought it was a memoir. However, it turns out that I just wasn't paying attention and it is in fact, a novel.

The main character is Cambria, a single mom living in a scuzzy apartment that she is about to lose and desperate for a job--any job. She applies to be the manager of an apartment complex and somehow gets the job. Thrilled to have free rent and a second bedroom for her toddler, she doesn't ask too many questions of the departing apartment manager and tries to fumble through the job on her own. Of course, things start going wrong immediately. Tenants are complaining and threatening to move out--and that's before someone starts vandalizing their cars and throwing stolen wallets in the shared dumpster. Cambria is desperate not to lose her job and starts an ill-advised investigation into the source of the trouble, wreaking even more havoc on the complex in the process.

When I opened this book and realized it was a novel, I expected to hate it, but it was better than I expected. It was well-written, particularly for a first book, and moved pretty quickly. Cambria is a painfully stupid character who is basically unable to do anything right and annoyingly refers to her hair as "Einstein" throughout the whole book (once, kind of funny; on every single page, stab-worthy), but even that didn't make me hate the book.

After reading this book, I learned that author Erin Huss writes The Apartment Manager's Blog, where she blogged about her six-year stint as...an apartment manager. I feel even more robbed that this book was not a memoir! It was fine as a light beach-read-y novel, but it could have been the next Waiter Rant! ( )
  emking85 | Jul 30, 2016 |
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