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Bibliocrack Review: Unsticky by Sarra Manning

I'm still just a little bit protective of my feelings over this book. Do you ever feel that way after finishing a book that completely threw you for a loop (in the very best way)? I feel distinctly protective of our relationship, the book and I. I'm still mulling over the way things ended on my lunch break and as I lie in bed waiting to fall asleep. Because it took me by such surprise, and because I fell in love with it so fast and hard, I'm just not at all sure I'm ready to talk about the experience. But enough of my book reviewing eccentricities. I've held onto my feelings long enough and it's time to let them see the light of day. Because Unsticky did a bit of a number on me. This is my first foray into Sarra Manning's body of work and I'm kicking myself for waiting so long to find out for myself what the rest of you have been going on about. For those of you not familiar with her work, Ms. Manning is known for her contemporary young adult titles, which have been published on both sides of the pond. This is her first contemporary adult title and, unfortunately, it's only available in the UK. I ordered my copy from Awesome Books after reading Sabrina's excellent review over at About Happy Books. I seriously ordered it that very day and looked forward to its arrival in my mailbox each day after that. 


A side note: I do love reading a novel that's never been edited for an American audience. I get lost in the wonderful wording and in the different sensibility that seems to pervade the whole. Definite bonus factor here.


Grace is having a bad 23rd birthday. Make that a very bad birthday. Her boyfriend decides it's a good idea to dump her in the handbag section of her favorite department store on her birthday and then storm out in a huff of seriously dubious righteous indignation when she doesn't handle it with the utmost grace and decorum. But things get even weirder when she is shortly spirited out of the shop by an unidentified male who seems both appalled at her tears and bent on absconding with her to have a drink. Monumentally confused and emotionally wrung out, Grace gets as far as sitting down at a table with the mysterious Vaughn before her common sense kicks in like a champ and she beats a path out of there. But it's not the last she's heard of Vaughn. He has a proposition for her that involves a six-month stint of playing the role of his girlfriend at a series of high-profile art soirees  in exchange for, well, cold hard cash. Appalled and offended, Grace has no intention of accepting his outrageous offer. But then she gets to thinking. Her life hasn't exactly been coming up roses lately. She's massively, massively in debt due to a pesky habit of binge shopping whenever things get too grim. And things get grim pretty often, what with soaring credit card bills, her demeaning and thankless job in the fashion industry she loves, and her inability to extend a meaningful relationship beyond the three-month mark. And so it is with much trepidation and not a little bit of terror that she accepts Vaughn's offer, signs a contract, and enters a whole new world.


There's no denying it. I just . . . I just could not tear my eyes away from this story for the entire 448 pages of the book. Something about Grace and Vaughn immediately dug into my character pleasure center and made a home there. They were so real, so horribly, horribly isolated from the world around them. And it was incredibly gratifying to watch them come to grips with both the extremely unpleasant and the achingly beautiful aspects of their own realities, when forced to see them through the lens of the other's perspective. Especially as they hailed from diametrically opposite worlds and there is little to no incentive to be anything other than brutally honest when your "relationship" is built on the most unsentimental and mercenary of contractual terms. Honestly, there was just so much pain, possibility, and ruthlessly reined in emotion lying between these two that I was an absolute goner. All I could do was watch in exquisite agony as they hurt each other and misunderstood each other and loved each other over and over again until something had to give. I was so involved it almost didn't matter to me what that something was or how it ended. Almost. Of course it mattered to me. But the ride itself was such a pleasure, I would have loved Unsticky for that alone. Happens that I love it for its ending as well. Though I (as always seems to be the case) could have done with a teensy bit more in the way of declarations. But that's me. Part modern-day Pretty Woman, part up close and personal, present-day Pygmalion, it's a winner in my book. If you're a sucker for immeasurably flawed characters, blistering romance, and vintage clothing, then this is the book for you. Unsticky rocked my little bookish world and instantly transformed me into a card-carrying member of the Sarra Manning fan club. 


Linkage
About Happy Books Review
Emily and Her Little Pink Notes Review
Paper Back Novel Review

Comments

  1. Damn. Must have. Off to check out this awesome bookstore and ponder buying.

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  2. Oh, wow. This sounds fabulous! How would you say the British version feels different than books edited for American audiences? The spellings I get, but what do you mean by a different sensibility?

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  3. Woho, welcome to the fanclub :)
    I'm so happy that you loved the book just as much as I did. I'm actually rereading "Unsticky" right now because I needed a Grace and Vaughn fix.

    I recently read Manning's new book "You don't have to say you love me" and was also amazed by it. Sarra Manning manages to make me care so much for her characters and I love it.

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  4. Aargh, just went to check this book out but it looks like the Kindle version is only available for UK customers. Darn I hate these stupid geographical restrictions. Oh well, I'll just add it to my "non-K" wishlist and maybe a US version will be available sometime in the future.

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  5. Anonymous1:03 PM

    I also love reading novels that have not been edited for an American audience. How stupid do publishing companies think we are?

    You have intrigued me this review. I just placed an order with Amazon UK so I will have to wait awhile before I can get this one but I will see what other Sarah Manning I can find in the meantime.

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  6. AHHH, I finished her other adult book the other week (You Don't Have to Say You Love Me) and I love the way she writes, but DAMN< this sounds amazing! I may have to get this one too, expecially after this amazing review.

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  7. Okay, you had me at the title and cover - but NOW I must must MUST read it because of your review! :) Wow! I haven't read any of her books, but I think I definitely will start with this one!

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  8. I will have to try to find this one. I've been looking for some good women's fiction (god, I hate that term) and this sounds really great. Is there any word when/if it'll be in the U.S.?

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  9. WANTS THIS! I'll buy it the next time I order from the Book Depository. It doesn't hurt that Ari recommends the book as well. I know that Sarra Manning is one of her favorite authors but I still haven't read any Manning books. This seems like a good one to start with even if it's not YA.

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  10. Angie! Your powers of book pushing are undeniable! Can I borrow this sometime? Of course it looks like it would be well worth it to track down a copy too. :)

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  11. Angie, you write the most tempting reviews. This one just got put on my list.

    I'm with you regarding the joy of reading books that have not been edited for an American audience.

    Thanks, too, for the heads up on the Awesome Bookstore.

    Happy reading! xo

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  12. I love Sarra Manning!

    I'm the exact opposite of you. When I unexpectedly love a book I must share. I run about thrusting it in friends' faces until I find one who will read it IMMEDIATELY and then talk to me about it, over cookies and tea. (None of my friends drink coffee, who knows why.)

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  13. This sounds amazing! Have just read her new book and loved it!

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  14. Anonymous4:07 PM

    Great review! My copy of her second novel just arrived so I'll have to have a Sarra Manning festival. (I also have her last YA to read.)

    I'm so disappointed The Book Depository now has restrictions on selling certain UK books to the US, but it's good to know there's another option in Awesome Books.

    KarenS

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  15. Looks like there are several used copies available through Amazon for pretty cheap--and for US customers, too! Had to go get one...and the fact that I'm willing to pick up a paper book instead of my Kindle means something...

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  16. I have never heard of Sarra Manning, but after your review.. Definitely checking her out! This sounds like my kind of love story!

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  17. As soon as I finished reading this review I went and ordered the book. Irresistible.

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  18. I fell in love with Sarra Manning reading Diary of a Crush and she never ceases to amaze me, I can't wait to read her new adult book. Your reviews are the BEST!

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  19. Janice, lol. Your copy arrived yet?

    Alison, I guess I mean that I can't pinpoint the characters' motivations like I can in American chicklit. Their thought processes seem vaguely different to me and the resolutions aren't as predictable. I'm never sure I know what a particular character will decide or choose in the end. And I love that I can't.

    Sabrina, you said it. I fell so hard for those two and can absolutely see myself re-reading it again soon to get my fix. ;)

    Jen, it is frustrating, isn't it. I really hope a US version will become available soon. It seems to me her audience here could be huge.

    brandy, I really don't get it. And I'm so excited you ordered it, too!

    Carla, *grin*. I finished that one not long ago as well. I love both, but UNSTICKY is the one, you know?

    epic rat, isn't it a great package? I love the title/cover. And the inside is even better.

    Erin, sigh. No word on availability here as far as I can tell. But I do think you would love this one.

    Chachic, definitely not YA. ;) But definitely a great place to start, IMO.

    Holly, :) How's it coming?

    Christine, I would love to hear your thoughts on this one.

    Liviana, lol. That's funny. I do that, too, sometimes. But when I really get hit over the head with one unexpectedly, sometimes it takes me a bit to recover. :)

    Dot, well, then you really must try this one soon.

    Karen, started that festival yet?

    Jolie, lol. I do know what that means. I hope you enjoy it. It's a scorcher in many ways. But Grace and Vaughn...I don't know. They got me.

    Caitlin, I think it is your kind for sure.

    Chelle, awesome. Can't wait to hear what you think.

    Emily, hey! I will have to make my way through her YA stuff now that I've read the adult.

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  20. Anonymous6:28 AM

    Hello,

    very good review. I share your protective feeling on certain books. I have troubles reading Unsticky, because I already read "You don´t have to say you love me" and it was so good, but I'm afraid what will happen if Unsticky won't be as good. I already pre-ordered the next book by Sarra Manning and looking forward to get lost in this wonderful narrative of hers once again.

    Evelyn

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    Replies
    1. Oh, do not worry in that respect, Evelyn. Unsticky is just as good as You Don't Have to Say You Love Me! I know the feeling, and I can set your fears to rest here. :)

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  21. I seriously can't thank you enough for this review, Angie! Now that I have finally experienced this book I can say that I wholeheartedly agree with you. "I'm still just a little bit protective of my feelings over this book". This! I find that I have this same exact feeling. Sigh. Grace and Vaughn got under my skin something fierce and I'm still thinking about them days later. I'm so happy that I found this review and your fantastic blog many moons ago :)

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    Replies
    1. *happysigh* Those two. They just got so wrapped up inside me. I knew it couldn't just be me and that other readers would fall for them, too. I'm absolutely delighted you were able to read it, Negine.

      Delete

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