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3.8 out of 5 stars
The Smart One and the Pretty One
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2009
Format: Paperback
I couldn't even finish it. I got about halfway through and it was a struggle to get that far. The "pretty one" is a lowlife who mooches off her cancer-ridden parents and sister even though she's in her late 20s. The turning point for me was when she screws the guy who's been rude and disrespectful to her and barely even bought her dinner. All while her sister was in the other room listening to the whole thing and stated she was "proud of her" for using a condom?? Who would be proud of that sister? The whole thing was a twisted and made me feel oogy and irritated at a woman my age for being so cheap and easy. Aside from all that, the author is not a very good writer and struggles to maintain a plot, much less make it funny at any point. I returned the book to Target.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
I bought this book because I have sisters. I kept waiting for the story to do something but it never did. At times I couldn't figure out if Russell's voice was by design effeminate or if Ms. LaZebnik is just not yet skilled at writing for a male character. I know some women are attracted to a more effeminate man--though I'm not one of them--but to have a man constantly trying to dress you and adjust your look would be a major turn-off. So, in that regard the book was a bit unrealistic. I actually liked the Daniel character, however. The book felt unfinished by the end.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
I adored this book! I can't say enough good things about it! I knew exactly where Ava was coming from and found myself being eager to see what she did with herself for my own benefit! I really can't think of the last time that I identified with a character in a book so much. I don't dress to impress and hate wearing makeup! And like in the book, my little sister has done my makeup on occasion.

And Lauren, also what a great character. Even though I didn't identify nearly as much with her as I did her sister ,Ava, I saw a bit of my sister in her. Russell was so sweet, I loved him too! These characters were real people to me. (This MUST be made into a movie!)

So besides the fact that I felt like those characters were very real to me, this book was just funny. Your everyday, can't help it funny! That's just who they were. I loved that and found myself laughing often while reading this. Also the whole plot, the idea that people that knew each other as children, but that are now strangers, are thrust together in a variety of situations. It made for some great set-ups and sneaking around on Lauren's part. Ava is so stuck in her ways that Lauren has to trick her into being social with anyone other then their family.

My only unfulfilled wish for this book would have been to see the ending drawn out a bit more, maybe just 20-40 more pages. Without giving away anything, I wanted to hear Russell's thoughts a bit more on a particular character.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
Two sisters, living widely disparate lives, come together to support their mother through a medical crisis. Lauren Nickerson, living beyond her means in New York, is the "pretty" one--fashion conscious, obsessed with new clothes, she is on the verge of financial disaster. She flies home to LA to help out while their mother goes through chemotherapy. Smart Ava Nickerson is a lawyer, very conscious of making good financial choices, she hardly ever thinks about fashion, and already lives close to home and has been the conscientious "good" daughter.

When they first meet up in this family crisis, Lauren is worried about her finances and hopes to borrow money from Ava; Ava's response is to hook her up with a credit counselor, and firmly suggests that she not make any purchases except necessities. Frustrated, Lauren vows to get "revenge." So when she discovers an old "contract" between two mothers that "betroths" Ava and the neighbor's son Russell Markowitz, she sets out to stir things up a bit.

What could have been a clichéd story about sibling rivalry and conflict, turns, instead, into a clever, funny, and quite compelling read about how we perceive ourselves as opposed to how others see us, and how sometimes the "right" choices are not necessarily the best ones.

The Smart One and the Pretty One was a quick and completely page-turning story that I thoroughly enjoyed, thus earning five stars from me.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
I was really thrilled to receive a copy of The Smart One and the Pretty One to review. As anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, I adore chick lit. I'm happy to say that this book was fun and thoroughly enjoyable.

At its core, The Smart One and the Pretty One is about sisters. Having a sister myself, I understand the complicated relationship that ensues: there's a lot of bickering and plenty of love/hate. But in the end, you are deeply connected; there is a bond there that cannot be broken. My sister and I are much closer now than we used to be, but even back when we argued much more than we laughed, I always knew I could cry on her shoulder. The author captures this dimension of a sisterly relationship perfectly in her book.

I also love the title: The Smart One and the Pretty One. I'm not sure about other sisters, but I can tell you for a fact that in my experience, it is apt. Not that one is necessarily much smarter and the other is much prettier - it's much more dependent on personality traits. I'm generally the smart one, and my sister the pretty one, but that's not because my sister is dim (she's actually in medical school - not dim at all) or I'm horribly disfigured. It's more that she has the fun, outgoing personality (much like Lauren) and I've always been a bit more serious in my life outlook (Ava). In this book, it really is nice to see the way these two stereotypes change shape, and the way Ava slowly transforms into "the pretty one." I really enjoyed the way it rang true: as you become older, the reasons these generalizations applied fade away, but the stereotypes are still there.

LaZebnik also makes the men in her book very complicated, which seems to be a rarity in chick lit these days. Usually the women are multilayered, but the men are one-dimensional - not true for this book. Daniel and Russell are both complicated characters, and it was fun to slowly peel back their layers through the book to look at their underlying motives for the confusing and sometimes distasteful ways they acted.

In short, I would recommend The Smart One and the Pretty One to anyone who (1) likes chick lit or (2) has a sister. If, like me, you fall in both of those categories, don't hesitate to pick up this book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
Ava and Lauren are two modern sisters who look pretty much alike but see the world in completely different ways.

Ava, the older sister, is a lawyer and the responsible daughter. She dresses professionally but plainly with as little fuss and bother as possible. Lauren on the other hand, makes her living buying clothing for retail stores and is a little bit of a clotheshorse. When Lauren really racks in the debt and can't continue to pay her bills AND her mother is diagnosed with breast cancer she decides to pack it in and come home.

Ava helps Lauren sort out her bills and Lauren helps Ava sort out her love life but neither sister is particularly gracious about the help she is receiving. Ava makes Lauren sign a contract stating how Lauren won't buy anything unnecessary for the next six months. Lauren decides to get even when she finds a betrothal contract their parents jokingly made several years ago and sets Ava up with a man the she is unknowingly engaged to.

This sounds like a fairly stereotypical plotline but the author's ability to describe the situations and the easy, witty dialogue between not just the sisters, but all the characters makes this novel stand out from all the others. I really enjoyed this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I bought this book, because I liked Epic Fail. This was a book more for adults. It had profanity, which I can handle a little bit of it, but it had the F-word several times. There was also some sex scenes, although nothing compared to other books, in fact you could say it wasn't there at all. I guess I was just expecting something more like Epic Fail, and was shocked when I saw the first F-word. I write this review for people who think it might be like her other books. IT'S NOT!
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on December 1, 2010
Format: Paperback
This is the second book from Claire LaZebnik that I have read in the last week, and she is my new favorite author. The Smart One and the Pretty One is written in 3rd person, which is very impressive to me, because the first book I read of hers (If You LIved Here, You'd Be Home Now) was in 1st person. I am impressed because she is good at writing both perspectives - a sign of a great writer.
The story is about two sisters who are very different, but focus' on one, Ava Nickerson. Ava is a lawyer, and spends her time working rather then caring about appearance or her social life. Lauren is her sister and the complete opposite. Lauren ends up coming back to Los Angeles after losing her job in New York. Lauren is terrible about managing money, because she spends all of it on clothes.
The story shows how two very different sisters interact, with their differences. Ava helps her sister by letting her live with her and tries to teach her how to manage her money, and Lauren helps Ava by teaching her about relationships and caring about her appearance, which ultimately helps Ava with her low self esteem.
This story is well written, because I think all woman can relate to Ava. She has low self esteem, and has trouble with relationships, but refuses to do anything with herself to make her feel better. Ava is continuously mistaken for her sister Lauren throughout the story, but she still sees Lauren as beautiful and flashy and sees herself as plain.
Ava wants to believe that people should love her for how she looks without putting any effort into herself, but ultimately comes to find out that it isn't others that she needs to convince, but herself instead. As soon as she sees her beauty in her own mirror, he life unfolds into a world of love and happiness.
The writing is so wonderful, because the reader subtly knows about Ava's insecurities. It isn't boldly spelled out in the words, but instead her insecurities come through in her need to fight everyone about change.
I loved Ava because I related to her, and I loved Lauren because although you would think she was shallow, she was not. Lauren was comfortable with people and comfortable with who she was, and ultimately very lovable.
Ava believes that she is going to help Lauren, but the truth is that is it Lauren that really helps Ava in the end.
I recommend that everyone read everything that Claire LaZebnik writes. I read two of her books in one week, because I just couldn't put them down. Her writing style is easy and enjoyable to read. Plus, it's perfect reading time with the cold weather.
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on November 18, 2009
Format: Paperback
No matter how old we are or how far we travel whenever we return to our first family we often revert to the old familial roles. Like an oldie but goodie tune sung slightly off key grown men and women transform into "the baby" or "the favorite" as soon as they re-enter their childhood homes. And few familial relationships are as complex as the sister bond.

In The Smart One and the Pretty One author Claire La Zebnik spins a delicious tale of adult sisters who come to appreciate that they are more than their childhood labels. The twentysomething Nickerson sisters reunite due to personal crises: their mother has cancer and sister Lauren is in dire financial straits. The sisters quickly resume their respective roles as the "smart one" (Ava) and the "pretty one" (Lauren). Ava, an attorney, has a successful career and money in the bank, but hasn't had a serious romantic relationship in years. Lauren, an unemployed clothes buyer, dresses stylishly and is never long without a new guy on her arm, but is homeless and has creditors chasing her for unpaid debts. While both sisters love and support each other, they believe that they can "fix "the other sister. To that end Ava corrals Lauren into cleaning up her financial mess, while Lauren plays matchmaker for the reluctant Ava.

While both sisters have romantic entanglements, the men are supporting players to the sister relationship. The author even includes her own personal sister Hall of Fame at the back of the book: Little Women's the March sisters; The Simspson's Bouvier sisters; the real-life Brontes; Pride and Prejudice's the Bennet sisters; and Greek mythology's the Gorgon sisters.

The Smart One and the Pretty One is witty chick-lit fare with a meaningful twist!

Publisher: 5 Spot (September 10, 2008), 304 pages
Review Copy Provided Courtesy of Hachette Book Group.
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VINE VOICEon October 9, 2009
Format: Paperback
To strangers, Ava and Lauren Nickerson could not be more similar and some would even go as far as to call them twins. But to Ava, they are worlds apart. Lauren, the younger sister, is beautiful and carefree, attracting men wherever she goes. Thanks to her ravenous shopping habits, Lauren is also in debt and about to evicted from her apartment. Ava, on the other hand, is a successful lawyer and is as conservative and responsible as they come. She lives for her job, does not see the purpose in being fashionable or wearing make-up, and has not had a date since law school.

When Ava tricks Lauren into sitting down with a debt counselor, Lauren swears to get back at her sister. She finds just such an opportunity when she comes across a document her parents jokingly drew up years ago, betrothing Ava to their friends' son, Russell Markowitz. Lauren tracks down Russell, a charming but doubly-divorced bachelor who finds the entire engagement contract amusing and is only too happy to play along. Ava is convinced that Russel is only sticking around for Lauren and cannot believe that someone like him would be be even remotely interested in someone plain like her. But, before long, Lauren's hijinks are throwing the "engaged" pair together in unexpected ways and even Ava is forced to admit that there is more to the whole contract than meets the eye...

A charming addition to chick lit, "The Smart One and the Pretty One" is entertaining, engrossing and a definitely fun read for the beach or a long flight. LaZebnik's writing style is light and chick lit fluffy; the book is not serious literature nor does it pretend to be. At times, I wished that LaZebnik was not so narrowly focused on the relationship between Ava and Russel. Certain story lines could have been better developed or brought to a more satisfying end, such as Lauren's own romantic relationship, but "The Smart One and the Pretty One" kept me interested and intrigued regardless.
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