Official Review: First Friday by Tory Hartmann

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inaramid
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Latest Review: First Friday by Tory Hartmann

Official Review: First Friday by Tory Hartmann

Post by inaramid » 28 May 2018, 08:35

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "First Friday" by Tory Hartmann.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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Agnes Anne O’Neil is at the end of her ropes. She’s a 28-year-old virgin living with her devoutly Catholic, proudly Irish parents in a house filled with images of the BVM (Blessed Virgin Mary)—but that’s the least of her worries. After all, reclusive Agnes Anne has a Special Devotion to the Blessed Mother, and a lingering teenage trauma has impaired her ability to communicate with people. But when you know the essentials of a snail’s diet and could name the patron saint of hairdressers, even shy, stuttering Agnes Anne knows it’s high time to get a life.

Armed with a newly-obtained real estate license, a new hairdo, a new name (just Anne), and possibly a new boyfriend in Jewish accountant, Sheldon Goldberg, Anne is ready to conquer the world. But with a dad who keeps a tally of the family’s church attendance, a mom who recreates Biblical scenes using pancake batter, and a sleazy brother-in-law who’s obsessed with her virginity, will Anne ever get a break? Add in a sudden death that may have been orchestrated by Anne’s tormentor, Bruno Stark, and she’s done for. Oh boy! Hail Mary, full of Grace, please don’t let Agnes Anne O’Neil screw up.

Irish comedy, soap-operatic drama, and a dash of mystery come together in Tory Hartmann’s romp of a novel, First Friday: How Virginity Almost Killed Me. Through the eyes of an endearingly awkward heroine, readers are treated to a slew of outrageous scenarios that include a mollusk-induced kitchen accident, a medical-themed case of mistaken identity, and a dry ice fiasco during a funeral. Beleaguered by sexual harassment, religious dogma, and the mad antics of her eccentric family, Anne is the Cinderella of her own fairytale and the Bridget Jones of her own rom-com. She’s also the hapless victim in her own horror movie, the one who goes out of her way to do the opposite of what’s logical and safe. I was compelled to root for Anne from the beginning, but as the story got darker (and be warned that it will), I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at the dubious decisions she makes.

Hartmann certainly nailed the “Irish” part of this mish-mash of genres, injecting a healthy amount of Irish references and brogues into the dialogues. The “comedy” aspects, from the subtle to the slapstick, had me in stitches (e.g., Anne’s brothers are called Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). “Drama” came in extremes—either an outburst of histrionics or a quiet moment of reflection and prayer to the BVM—which were mostly touching. The “mystery,” however, wasn’t so much a mystery as a plot vehicle for Anne to have her grand moment of vindication. Still, given everything Anne had gone through, it was a splendid, cathartic moment for both the character and the reader.

First Friday initially came across as a light, funny read, but the gravity of the themes soon cast an ominous shadow over everything. Harassment, stalking, and the pervasive threat of rape are nothing to laugh at, after all. Hartmann, however, does a fine job of harnessing the sense of frustration and danger that Anne feels and foisting them upon the reader. The writing is evocative, capturing the tone, mood, and personality of our heroine. Readers will relate to her quest for independence, recognition, and love, as well as the book’s broader themes of family, women empowerment, overcoming trauma, having faith, and of course, accepting oneself.

I rate First Friday 3 out of 4 stars. It was a fun, rollicking ride while it lasted, and despite a few bumps and twists in the road that I wasn’t really a fan of, it was still a good, solid read. The book also has a professional feel to it, although I did notice a handful of errors in punctuation, word usage, and spelling. These, however, did little to detract from the reading experience, making First Friday a highly recommended read for all fans of comedy and family dramas.

******
First Friday
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Post by sonya01 » 09 Oct 2018, 01:02

This sounds charming! Having recently converted to reading this type of book, I suspect it has all the qualities I’m looking for, so many thanks for your recommendation. No doubt, I will be adding it to my bookshelves immediately.

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Latest Review: First Friday by Tory Hartmann

Post by inaramid » 09 Oct 2018, 05:57

sonya01 wrote:
09 Oct 2018, 01:02
This sounds charming! Having recently converted to reading this type of book, I suspect it has all the qualities I’m looking for, so many thanks for your recommendation. No doubt, I will be adding it to my bookshelves immediately.
I actually read this months ago and was pleasantly surprised to see it published :). I enjoyed this one a lot and hope that you will too. Thanks for dropping by!

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Post by Debjani Ghosh » 09 Oct 2018, 08:47

So, at the age of 28, Anne finally musters the courage to live her life. According to your review, she is set for one hell of a ride. I am pinning it to my TR list. Thanks for the review!

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Post by Bianka Walter » 09 Oct 2018, 15:16

This sounds like a lot of fun. I'm intrigued by the mollusc related mishaps - how wonderfully random!
You are right though - it's difficult to insert serious themes into a light-hearted book.
Great review :)
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Post by kandscreeley » 09 Oct 2018, 18:54

This one doesn't quite sound like something I would enjoy. It seems like there's a lot going on here which would be great for those who enjoy this genre. Thanks.
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Post by inaramid » 09 Oct 2018, 19:32

Debjani Ghosh wrote:
09 Oct 2018, 08:47
So, at the age of 28, Anne finally musters the courage to live her life. According to your review, she is set for one hell of a ride. I am pinning it to my TR list. Thanks for the review!
I'd say she's still young, isn't she? Thanks for the comment.

Bianka Walter wrote:
09 Oct 2018, 15:16
This sounds like a lot of fun. I'm intrigued by the mollusc related mishaps - how wonderfully random!
You are right though - it's difficult to insert serious themes into a light-hearted book.
Great review :)
True. At some points, it becomes so frustrating. Thanks for dropping by!

kandscreeley wrote:
09 Oct 2018, 18:54
This one doesn't quite sound like something I would enjoy. It seems like there's a lot going on here which would be great for those who enjoy this genre. Thanks.
Fair point, kandscreeley. The family dinners themselves can be quite chaotic, but they do fit the Irish family dynamic the author was portraying. Thanks for your insight!

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Post by jcoad » 09 Oct 2018, 21:58

Kind of like "My big fat Greek Wedding" but Catholic and well not quite, but that is what it made me think of. A big crazy family type drama. Sounded like a fun read until you pointed out the dark undertones that don't seem to go away. I still wouldn't mind picking it up and thanks for the very thorough review!

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Post by inaramid » 10 Oct 2018, 03:21

jcoad wrote:
09 Oct 2018, 21:58
Kind of like "My big fat Greek Wedding" but Catholic and well not quite, but that is what it made me think of. A big crazy family type drama. Sounded like a fun read until you pointed out the dark undertones that don't seem to go away. I still wouldn't mind picking it up and thanks for the very thorough review!
I haven't seen that movie, but if there's a BIG rowdy family in there, it maybe it. Just add a dash of murder, and you're good to go :).

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Post by Noraine Alissa Poria » 11 Oct 2018, 02:33

This sounds so fun, a book with a little bit of everything. Anne's character is intriguing, her family is a bit over the top and I would like to know how she got over everything.

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Latest Review: First Friday by Tory Hartmann

Post by inaramid » 11 Oct 2018, 04:03

Noraine Alissa Poria wrote:
11 Oct 2018, 02:33
This sounds so fun, a book with a little bit of everything. Anne's character is intriguing, her family is a bit over the top and I would like to know how she got over everything.
It is. Thanks for dropping by :).

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Post by Fozia-Bajwa » 11 Oct 2018, 09:06

I have read your review of the book First Friday by Tory Hartman. I have tried to understand the story but couldn't reach to the full accessment. Thanks for your review.

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Post by kfwilson6 » 11 Oct 2018, 11:35

":But with a dad who keeps a tally of the family’s church attendance, a mom who recreates Biblical scenes using pancake batter, and a sleazy brother-in-law who’s obsessed with her virginity."

What a lineup of family members. Biblical scenes in the pancake batter. This sounds like a great book when you don't want to take yourself or life too seriously. Awesome review. The details you gave definitely draw your reader's interest.

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Latest Review: First Friday by Tory Hartmann

Post by inaramid » 12 Oct 2018, 07:51

Fozia-Bajwa wrote:
11 Oct 2018, 09:06
I have read your review of the book First Friday by Tory Hartman. I have tried to understand the story but couldn't reach to the full accessment. Thanks for your review.
Thanks for commenting!
kfwilson6 wrote:
11 Oct 2018, 11:35
What a lineup of family members. Biblical scenes in the pancake batter. This sounds like a great book when you don't want to take yourself or life too seriously. Awesome review. The details you gave definitely draw your reader's interest.
Thanks for dropping by! It's one crazy family for sure.

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