Book Review and Giveaway: "The Smart One and the Pretty One" by Claire LaZebnik

When Ava Nickerson was a child, her mother jokingly betrothed her to a friend's son, and the contract the parents made has stayed safely buried for years. Now that still-single Ava is closing in on thirty, no one even remembers she was once "engaged" to the Markowitz boy. But when their mother is diagnosed with cancer, Ava's prodigal little sister Lauren comes home to Los Angeles where she stumbles across the decades-old document.

Frustrated and embarrassed by Ava's constant lectures about financial responsibility (all because she's in a little debt. Okay, a lot of debt), Lauren decides to do some sisterly interfering of her own and tracks down her sister's childhood fiancé. When she finds him, the highly inappropriate, twice-divorced, but incredibly charming Russell Markowitz is all too happy to re-enter the Nickerson sisters' lives, and always-accountable Ava is forced to consider just how binding a contract really is ...

Reading this book brought to mind another pair of really close sisters: Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield of Sweet Valley fame. Other than the fact that the Wakefields are twins and the Nickersons are not, the two sets of siblings share a lot of the same traits. Jessica and Lauren are similar in their attitude, way of life, and their ability to use their looks and popularity to get what they want. Meanwhile Elizabeth and Ava are the sensible, following rules, smarter and often seen as the "boring" sister. Throughout the book, I got the sense that Lauren wanted to live life to the fullest while Ava was content with how her life already had shaped itself. In between all the chick lit banter, a serious tone is taken with the girls' mother finding out she has cancer. While at the cancer center, Lauren meets a guy who's mother is in the final stages of cancer. The two strike up a relationship bonded by the disease which is heartbreaking due the depressing circumstances.

I wasn't too big a fan of Lauren's character. This was mainly because it seemed that she could get by in life with everything simply because she was pretty. Everyone, from her family to strangers, tends to give her free passes for whatever she does no matter how their true feelings really are. I felt that she was rather irresponsible and didn't really have a goal in life. The one scene that really bugged me was when she went into Ava's purse to make a donation with absolute no thought of repayment in the future. It annoyed me because Lauren seem to make it sound like that it was Ava's fault that she had money in her purse ready for her to take. Also Ava didn't really put up a fight which was irritating as well. I also wasn't too big a fan of Russell. He just didn't seem to me like he would be a good match for Ava.

Overall, this is a good chick lit book to read. There's some language and sex but neither detracts from the story. If you have a sister, you'll get the inside jokes and totally relate to the two women. The pair act like real sisters and give a sense of reality to the story. It also gives a unique aspect to finding a mate through your connections with your parents. This was my first book from the author and I'll be looking forward to reading more from her.

The Smart One and the Pretty One by Claire LaZebnik is published by 5 Spot (2008)

This review copy was provided by the publisher

I'm giving away 5 brand new copies of today's book! Leave a comment with your email address so I can contact you if you win. I'll pick 5 names and announce the winners on Wednesday, October 14. Open to US and Canada entries. Good luck!




  1. Anonymous10:00 AM

    I would love to be entered in your draw. Thanks. wandanamgreb(at)gmail(dot)com

  2. This sounds like a cute book! Thanks for the giveaway.

  3. Anonymous10:51 AM

    I've been wanting to read this for a while! I'm a huge fan of 5 Spot publishing :) Thanks so much for the giveaway!

    picodepui [at] yahoo [dot] com

  4. Anonymous11:09 AM

    I bet I'd love this book! laura[AT]adaptiveblue[dot]com
    Thanks for the giveaway -Laura :)

  5. This book okks great. Please enter me

  6. Anonymous12:51 PM

    This sounds like something I would enjoy reading. Thanks for the giveaway!

  7. Read about your Giveaway on PBS - please enter me! fourbelsATjunoDOTcom

  8. Very nice! This is a wonderful blog... I had a great time browsing and reading your posts. You may also drop by my site if you have time. It's about christian books and bible study curriculum. I'm sure you'd find my site useful.

  9. Virginia10:30 PM

    Hi Deborah! This book looks cute! Please enter me: I'm VirginiaM at PBS! :)

  10. Anonymous3:50 AM

    Please enter me. Thanks. somanybooksblog at hotmail dot com

  11. Please enter me in the contest-whenever I see the title I always think of my sister and how we joked about who was the pretty one and who was the smart one (we have since moved past qualifying ourselves in such a limited way, thankfully!)


  12. Anonymous11:37 AM

    I would love to win a copy of this book.


  13. Anonymous11:51 AM

    Hi! Great giveaway as always. Playing "CCR" music and thinking of you.
    Please enter me pretty please! :)

    ConnieJ at FR

  14. Anonymous1:01 PM

    Am a follower and thank you. JoanneR from FR & Joann from PBS.

  15. Renee2:05 PM

    Sounds like a really interesting book. I'll have to add it to my Reminder list on PBS! ReneeC

  16. Sounds like I might enjoy this one. Please include me in your draw.

    dlodden at frontiernet dot net

  17. Sounds like a good read! Thanks for all of your giveaways!

    mrsborland at gmail dot com

  18. Anonymous9:56 PM

    It sounds like fun. Please enter me in in the contest.

  19. Anonymous10:54 AM

    Please add me to the list. I would love to win this book. Thanks!
    kingsdaughter1611 on PBS

  20. I'm a good friend of Claire's (and we're blog partners) and we have had lots of fun talking about which would we rather be, the smart one or the pretty one (we decided it's unfair to ask our husbands this question), the easy going one or the interesting one, the one who lives an examined life or the unexamined life.

    While I admit to being biased, all of her novels are a great read, I know when they come out I'll lose a night's sleep just to read through to the end. Whoever wins these books (don't enter me) will have a great read.

  21. This sounds like a super fun read. A book I would really enjoy reading. Please enter me. Thanks!


  22. Please enter me! sarajhenry (at) gmail (dot) com Thanks!

  23. Please count me in! Would love to read this book!

  24. Anonymous8:54 PM

    This book sounds great! I would love to get a copy. Thanks, Marilyn W. (bucky1of1 from Paperbackswap)

  25. Enter me to win please! Thanks for the opportunity!

    emily DOT wittenberg @ gmail DOT com

  26. I think it sounds like a fun book to read and I would love to be entered.
    icedream on FR

    waitmantwillie at hotmail dot com


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