Surprise Me

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 16 Apr 2018

Member Reviews

Ugh, I wanted to enjoy this book. And I just couldn't. I didn't care for the characters at all and the book read young adult to me as opposed to one for adults. While the content was clearly adult, the characters felt about 19 to me. I just couldn't connect to it 

I DO appreciate the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, I wish I could have written a nicer toned one.
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I have not felt well lately and it has slowed my reading pace down quite a lot.  Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella was the perfect book for me at this time. It was fast paced keeping me curious about what was going to happen next but most importantly it made me laugh.  Laugh out loud funny. That is rare.

For insurance purposes, Sylvie and Dan have physicals and learn that due to good genes and good maintenance they will live longer than most people can expect.  This throws them for a loop because it changes everything: when they can retire, how much money is needed to save, but most importantly will they be able to stand each other and be married that long.  Over the course of the story, there is growth individually as well as a couple. There are serious matters tackled but also quite a bit of humor is thrown in as well.

Thank you to the publisher and to NetGalley for allowing me to read an advanced copy.  I truly enjoyed this book.
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The Dial Press and NetGalley provided me with an electronic copy of Surprise Me.  I was under no obligation to review this book and my opinion is freely given.

Having been together for ten years, married for seven of them, Sylvie and Dan seamlessly work together to provide a comfortable household for their twin girls.  The magic is gone, however, and the couple starts to feel the pressure of being together for the rest of their lives.  To spice things up, they come up with Project Surprise Me.  When it becomes clear early on that the element of surprise can cause more trouble than they thought, will Sylvie and Dan start to fail as a couple?  Will the pair be able to get their lives back on track?

Readers who are looking for quirky and charming dialogue, like the author's main character in the Shopaholic series possesses, will be disappointed.   Surprise Me takes a sharper edge and, although the author tries to use situational mishaps to lighten the mood, the story has a pessimistic tone.  I did not fall in love with Sylvie and Dan, nor did I feel fully vested in their outcome.  Even the surprises to each other did not come across as playful or lighthearted, as the dark cloud hovering over brought the book down.  The plot was a bit repetitive and the book dragged in the middle as a result.  Readers who are unfamiliar with author Sophie Kinsella should not choose Surprise Me as their first read, as it is not at all representative of the usual charming plot lines and endearing characters.  Returning readers should be warned that this book is nowhere near as good as the author's previous offerings.
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3.5 stars.  What do you do when "til death do us part" is longer than you think? That is the dilemma that Sylvie and Dan face. For the most part, this is a typical SK story with the usual laugh out loud moments and quirky characters. Towards the end, it does take a surprising (get it?) turn though. But in true Kinsella fashion, you get your satisfactory ending.

**Thank you to the publisher and Net Galley in exchange of an honest review.**
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This was so different than Sophie Kinsella's other books. It was more serious and less goofy, but still full of the heart and humor I expect from her. I hope this represents a new direction for her. It almost reminded me of a Kristan Higgins book.
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Kinsella delivered another entertaining read, suitable for adults and young adults alike. After hearing from her doctor that she and her husband have at least 68 more years together, Sylvie and Dan, a married couple with two girls, try to surprise each other to make those years a bit more interesting. The struggles that happened along the way were laugh out loud hilarious at times, and a bit more serious at other times. I loved the positive messages this book included about trust, relationships, and getting to know what others are going through. I would definitely recommend this book.
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Not quite as lighthearted as some of Kinsella's other offerings, Surprise Me tells the story of two families whose vacations takes quite the unexpected turn. This 'study of marriage' examines, with Kinsella's trademark humor, how people cope with not only awkward and difficult situations, but how marriages evolve and change over time. As usual, her characters are original thinkers struggling to get to know themselves better.
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Let me start by saying I LOVE Sophie Kinsella! I have loved everything she has written...until Surprise Me. It wasn't bad but I just didn't love it the way I have loved all her other books so I was a little disappointed. Sylvie and Dan have a happy marriage....until they realize they may have another 70 years together. Neither realized "til death do us part" meant 70 plus years. In order to keep things interesting Sylvie decides they should surprise each other with special gifts/dates...something to keep the marriage exciting but of course nothing goes as planned. I didn't hate it but I just didn't love it but it was a quick read so if you have the time you will get some good laughs from this book.
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Sylvie and Dan have it all. They’ve been together 10 years, have a lovely home, twin girls, careers they enjoy and fantastic health. Maybe too fantastic. When an insurance physical reveals they could live to be 100, potentially facing another 68 years of marriage, they are shocked and overwhelmed. Marriage is forever, but just how long is forever supposed to be? Fearing the tedium of 68 more years with someone whose every restaurant order they can predict and every sentence finish, a plan is hatched to bring adventure into their marriage. The problem is, adventure isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be. Sophie Kinsella, author of the Shopaholic series, delivers another delightful tale of shenanigans, mishaps, and relationship complications that her novels are known for. Surprise Me is more than just formulaic entertainment, as the story twists in an unexpected way and may ultimately make you take a closer look at the people with whom you share your life. Buy it!
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Sylvie and Dan have been married for ten years. They have beautiful twin girls, a house, jobs and a good life together. After a routine doctor visit they realize that their marriage could last another 50 years. Worried about their marriage getting stale they decide to start surprising each other to keep things fresh. Some fun and crazy antics ensue!!

After some old family secrets are revealed Sylie realizes that maybe she and Dan don't know each other as well as she thinks they do.  This is a very well written book that looks at the longevity of a marriage and the things we do for those we love. Another winner by Sophie Kinsella.
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FINALLY FINISHED THIS BOOK!!!! *screams hallelujah from the highest mountain top* I mean it almost took me a month but whatever it’s done. I am so happy to have this completed. Now for the review. I always enjoy Sophie Kinsella’s writing and how she brings her stories to life with a realistic setting. Life isn’t perfect and her books have always exemplified that to me. I enjoyed following Sylvie and Dan through this book however I did have a few issues with them in the first half of the book. They find out that they have 68 more years of marriage and they both go into this almost midlife crisis over it. And all I could think was how that wasn’t really a big deal and why get married in the first place if you don’t plan on being together forever? I ended up having to take many breaks while reading this due to that but once I got passed about 60% of the way through it was much better and I loved the last quarter of the book.
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It's through Project Surprise Me that Sylvie realises she doesn't know Dan as well as she thought she did and the unpredictability of what was once predictable totally throws her.  I have to be honest, I didn't know if her suspicions were correct or not, they were very plausible and I was swayed by the evidence in front of us!  The surprises - oh how I chuckled when Robert caught her internet browsing at work and Toby coming home early to find Sylvie in Tilda's house.  Sooo funny!  (I think setting up surprises with partners, friends and family could be a LOT of fun - as well as the disasters).

Sylvie comes from a privileged background but she didn't come across as a 'princess' to me.  Naive and protected by her family and then Dan maybe but not expecting everything to fall into her lap.  From the beginning I knew there was much more depth to Sylvie, if only she would stop being what everyone expected her to be (especially in her job at Willoughby House!).  I understood the judgments and comparisons she made even though I knew they had to be wrong ... nothing is that good.

As Sylvie's life changes on an outer level (Willoughby House in financial trouble, Dan not available, her mum acting strange) we see a change on an inner level too.  I had guessed something was going to rear its head and when it comes, I was with Sylvie in that room and my heart broke alongside hers.  This had such an impact on me!  So much positivity as a result of the crisis though - Sylvie finds her strength, becomes who she really is and of course it has a positive impact on her relationship.

Surprise Me is a story with a great pace and entertaining storyline.  I thought it had a powerful message of empowerment.  Claim your history, it's a part of who you are and gives you control over your life.  A recommended read from me.
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Sophie Kinsella is one of my favorite authors. I'm a huge fan of her work, and I eagerly dive into her new books. This book is a little different, but it is still great. In this book, Sylvie and Dan have been married several years and decide to start surprising each other in an attempt to bring some excitement into their marriage. This starts out well, but then Sylvie uncovers some information that makes her believe she is headed for a divorce.

Sophie Kinsella described the feelings her heroine was experiencing so deeply, I honestly thought she was the one getting a divorce. I was relieved by the credits at the end of the book explaining that she is still happily married. While this book does have some humor, it doesn't have as many laugh out loud parts as some of her other works. This book is an opportunity to experience Sophie Kinsella's skill as an author. For awhile this novel reminded me of when John Grisham writes books that aren't legal thrillers such as A Painted House. While Grisham is great at writing legal thrillers, they are somewhat formulaic. Books such as A Painted House allow readers to experience the beauty of Grisham's writing. Surprise Me had a similar impact for me. It wasn't what I was expecting, but I definitely enjoyed the surprise!
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I had a bit of hard time at first getting into this book, mainly because of the topic. It is a very truthful and interesting book because many people are living longer and being married for a long time. It is about how to live a interesting life and how to share it while still being faithful, and having fun. Another interesting and funny read by Sophie Kinsella.
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A couple, when faced with the idea of 68 more years of marriage, try to shake things up a bit by “surprising” each other. But each surprise doesn’t quite work out as expected.
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Excellent, light heated read. I am normally favor psychological thrillers, but every now and then, I need a something light and humorous in between. Surprise Me, was the perfect go to! The main character Sylvie had me laughing out loud, her hysterical worrisome thoughts, hiding from her husband as she is trying on a sweater, to obsessing about the future of her marriage. While Surprise Me, is basically a fun, light read not to be taken too seriously, I loved that the characters were so well developed, and surprisingly had a wonderful unexpected ending!
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Surprise Me by Sophia Kinsella is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early April.

A woman named Sylvie questions the relationship between her and her husband, Dan. It's all very snappy, British, and plainspoken with sardonic bon mots, while they work together to inject a sense of romance and spontenaity to their committed lifelong relationship within their progressive, busy social lifestyle. At first, their efforts seem a bit materialistic with some good/exact choices, others wrong, totally off, and/or poorly timed, before their stress ramps up with the possibility of an affair....
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Surprise Me started off strong with Sophie’s wonderful voice shining through. I was dying from the beginning with laughter. I was really enjoying it until about the middle. Some things fell flat with me and some were drawn out way too much. I don’t want to give anything away about the story, but I was a little disappointed. I also had some unanswered questions at the end. Overall, this is a fun book to read and you will laugh.
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Rating: 2.5

Sophie Kinsella's books are tricky. Her writing is good, but there are other elements that make them less than ideal, whether it be facets of the plot, the characters, or pacing. In the case of Surprise Me, it was primarily a mixture the characters with a bit of the pacing thrown in.

The premise itself, keeping a marriage interesting over the course of six plus decades, has some interest. While there is the inevitable change in human nature, there's also the thirst for fun and having that fun together is part of spending all that time as a partnership. It took awhile for the surprise idea to actually show up, 24% of the Kindle version as my notes serve. Once they did, that's when the trouble began and I couldn't decide whether the ways they went awry were wholly believable or dementedly twisted to make for a "fun" book. The one that irritated me the most was the pet. Who the heck gets someone a pet as a surprise? That was beyond a bad movie and I feel bad for poor Dora (the pet snake that now resides in the kitchen).

The surprises also didn't actually stick around for that long. Considering the fanfare they got in the synopsis, I was expecting more. Considering the late arrival and early departure of the titular surprises, what does it say about the plot that they're not really the thing we're steered toward caring about? It felt like a switch around because I thought the surprises were meant to be the main thing, then a mean new boss was introduced, but he also faded into the background and the novel became about Sylvie being a stereotypical suspicious wife that made broad assumptions and made grand leaps that were ridiculous.  I couldn't see real people acting like she did, particularly at the finale.

Sylvie and Dan's reaction to the "you've got a good chance at spending the next sixty-eight years together" was blown entirely out of proportion. Maybe it would've been time for some thought, but this is literally what you sign up for when you get married. Being the same age as them, I felt like there were moments when I would've stared at them incredulously and wondered what the bloody hell they were thinking.

They felt like just the sort of couple I might strongly dislike if I met them in real life. Sylvie was largely judgmental and seemed to think it was alright because she didn't make these comments aloud. There were criticisms of everyone from the people around her like her boss and her neighbors to sexist comments about her husband (which she insisted weren't but were). There were more little niggling things that bugged me about both of them, such as their fights about money (somewhat complex because of family inheritances/backgrounds, etc.) and their job decisions. A lot of it comes back to communication.

The way these two were written, it became painfully more obvious that these "problems" they were having? Whatever difficulty came up post-doctor visit, it was all very much first world, heteronormative white people problems that were utterly ridiculous.  I didn't feel much sympathy because they were being supercilious and it was their own fault for not talking to each other. 

There's an issue I had with the way either grieving or mental illness was handled in the course of the book. Following a death in the family two years prior to the start of the novel, Sylvie had a rough time coping. She either had an "episode"/meltdown or was grieving, depending on who you asked. At one point Tilda, Sylvie's neighbor/best friend, says that she thinks Sylvie was just grieving and it wasn't an "episode".

While I agree that Dan and her mum protected her too much, they were around the situation quite a bit more than Tilda. The pre-book death, a car crash, lead to Sylvie's showing up unannounced and staring at the house of the other party involved in the accident, as well as sending a letter the other party's family that they found threatening, which leads me to believe that Dan and Syvlie's mum might have been more on the side of right than Tilda. However, given this excuse to make herself all better, Sylvie swoops at it and ignores all protestations. I'm not sure a proper resolution/answer/conclusion was really talked about here, even after she does start therapy because that course of action is in relation to something else.

In conclusion, Surprise Me  felt like a stretch of the imagination in terms of believability. Whether anyone will really stick with what they learned in the end is debatable because there's a "happy" ending, but it felt forced. One quote from Sylvie stood out to me shortly before the close:

“Dan …” I say more gently. “No one actually knows. We could have seventy-two more years together . Or two. Or two days.”

That entire quote should have flashed in their heads at the beginning.
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Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella is a cute story, not my favorite of her books, but I did enjoy it. I decided to take it for a vacation and it was really perfect for this past week. I was pretty busy, but looked forward to relaxing with the story each evening. The premise of the book is a couple's doctor telling them they have long healthy lives ahead and the couple freaking out about being with each other for so many more years. They come up with a plan to surprise each other to keep things "fresh", that's when the funny parts of the book begin. Sophie Kinsella is good at writing about characters having things happen that are small, yet quite giggle-worthy. She doesn't disappoint in Surprise Me.
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