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A brilliant young woman navigates a tricky twenty-first-century career—and the trickier question of who she wants to be—in this savagely wise debut novel in the tradition of The Devil Wears Prada. Casey Pendergast is losing her way. Once a book-loving English major, Casey lands a job at a top ad agency that highly values her ability to tell a good story. H A brilliant young woman navigates a tricky twenty-first-century career—and the trickier question of who she wants to be—in this savagely wise debut novel in the tradition of The Devil Wears Prada. Casey Pendergast is losing her way. Once a book-loving English major, Casey lands a job at a top ad agency that highly values her ability to tell a good story. Her best friend thinks she’s a sellout, but Casey tells herself that she’s just paying the bills—and she can’t help that she has champagne taste. When her hard-to-please boss assigns her to a top-secret campaign that pairs literary authors with corporations hungry for upmarket cachet, Casey is both excited and skeptical. But as she crisscrosses America, wooing her former idols, she’s shocked at how quickly they compromise their integrity: A short-story writer leaves academia to craft campaigns for a plus-size clothing chain, a reclusive nature writer signs away her life’s work to a manufacturer of granola bars. When she falls in love with one of her authors, Casey can no longer ignore her own nagging doubts about the human cost of her success. By the time the year’s biggest book festival rolls around in Las Vegas, it will take every ounce of Casey’s moxie to undo the damage—and, hopefully, save her own soul. Told in an unforgettable voice, with razor-sharp observations about everything from feminism to pop culture to social media, A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out is the story of a young woman untangling the contradictions of our era and trying to escape the rat race—by any means necessary.


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A brilliant young woman navigates a tricky twenty-first-century career—and the trickier question of who she wants to be—in this savagely wise debut novel in the tradition of The Devil Wears Prada. Casey Pendergast is losing her way. Once a book-loving English major, Casey lands a job at a top ad agency that highly values her ability to tell a good story. H A brilliant young woman navigates a tricky twenty-first-century career—and the trickier question of who she wants to be—in this savagely wise debut novel in the tradition of The Devil Wears Prada. Casey Pendergast is losing her way. Once a book-loving English major, Casey lands a job at a top ad agency that highly values her ability to tell a good story. Her best friend thinks she’s a sellout, but Casey tells herself that she’s just paying the bills—and she can’t help that she has champagne taste. When her hard-to-please boss assigns her to a top-secret campaign that pairs literary authors with corporations hungry for upmarket cachet, Casey is both excited and skeptical. But as she crisscrosses America, wooing her former idols, she’s shocked at how quickly they compromise their integrity: A short-story writer leaves academia to craft campaigns for a plus-size clothing chain, a reclusive nature writer signs away her life’s work to a manufacturer of granola bars. When she falls in love with one of her authors, Casey can no longer ignore her own nagging doubts about the human cost of her success. By the time the year’s biggest book festival rolls around in Las Vegas, it will take every ounce of Casey’s moxie to undo the damage—and, hopefully, save her own soul. Told in an unforgettable voice, with razor-sharp observations about everything from feminism to pop culture to social media, A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out is the story of a young woman untangling the contradictions of our era and trying to escape the rat race—by any means necessary.

30 review for A Lady's Guide to Selling Out

  1. 5 out of 5

    ChallengeGReads

    Be warned that what you are about to read is a very negative review of A Lady's Guide to Selling Out. Maybe my 29 years of age makes me too old to appreciate this or maybe I'm just too like Susan ... but alas I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you a little story of my own (be warned I am no great writer either) I excitedly received an ARC of A Lady's Guide to Selling Out from Random House. It was beautiful and called to me to read it immediately despite a stack of books that were also demandi Be warned that what you are about to read is a very negative review of A Lady's Guide to Selling Out. Maybe my 29 years of age makes me too old to appreciate this or maybe I'm just too like Susan ... but alas I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you a little story of my own (be warned I am no great writer either) I excitedly received an ARC of A Lady's Guide to Selling Out from Random House. It was beautiful and called to me to read it immediately despite a stack of books that were also demanding my attention. The giveaway had sold it as a cross between Mad Men and The Devil Wears Prada, and although I never cared for The Devil Wears Prada, this "chick-lit" still piqued my interest. I thought it would be a fun light read with a hopeful message tacked in for all of us career women out there. By page 50 though I had a growing dislike for the main character (Casey). She is a caricature of the millennial woman: vapid, shallow, self-obsessed, social media driven, and obsessed with money. Basically like an updated version of Carrie from Sex and the City, but more annoying in that you are stuck inside her head listening to her ever increasing psychosis. I pushed on though, determined to finish, and hopefully be won over to Casey's side. I took it a chapter a day. Treating it as if I was reading an acquaintance's Facebook post that you knew would be part bragging and part pity party. By the end of Chapter 6, I threw the book across the room as I cursed at it, and decided I simply didn't care how it all ended for Casey. Why you may ask... well there is a scene in Chapter 6 that I simply could not stomach. A scene straight out of today's headlines which reinforces all that is wrong with our patriarchal society. The author through Casey isn't telling woman to change the system, but how to accept it quietly so that you live with ease at the expense of your own morals and conscience. To the author I simply say no. You may have been able to write something like this ten years ago, but now it is unacceptable.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nikki (Saturday Nite Reader)

    Casey Pendergast works for the man, but its not her true passion. At 28, she makes a very good living and as all the material things she wants. She finds herself in a few moral dilemma's as her PR company aims to use artists to promote products they wouldn't normally use: in essence selling out. She herself selling out as she is essentially doing the same thing. There is a strong lesson here on the power of social media. I really wanted to like this book as there were some really good messages o Casey Pendergast works for the man, but its not her true passion. At 28, she makes a very good living and as all the material things she wants. She finds herself in a few moral dilemma's as her PR company aims to use artists to promote products they wouldn't normally use: in essence selling out. She herself selling out as she is essentially doing the same thing. There is a strong lesson here on the power of social media. I really wanted to like this book as there were some really good messages outlined throughout the story; it just wasn't cohesive. After reading the first few chapters I almost shelved it as a DNF, but in came Ben Dickinson and I was like "hey, this chemistry is well written just keep going." Parts of this book are good, some are not. I will say I did not like the Devil Wears Prada book, but loved the movie (when does anyone ever say that - that the movie is better than the book - right?!) I think this story may be a better fit for a screenplay. It has potential. I do need to note: great cover design. It is certainly eye catching.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Samantha Plotkin

    I was very conflicted about this book. It drew me in and kept me reading but at the same time I was annoyed with the selfishness of the main character, Casey, (and not in the way I think Fransen intended) and the plot could use some shoring up. It's supposed to be a classic deep-down good person gets caught up in bad things, has crisis, redeems herself. The biggest problem was there was just not enough for the reader to care if Casey's life gets better - it didn't seem like she was a good person I was very conflicted about this book. It drew me in and kept me reading but at the same time I was annoyed with the selfishness of the main character, Casey, (and not in the way I think Fransen intended) and the plot could use some shoring up. It's supposed to be a classic deep-down good person gets caught up in bad things, has crisis, redeems herself. The biggest problem was there was just not enough for the reader to care if Casey's life gets better - it didn't seem like she was a good person underneath. I found the ending overly simplistic and convenient. Also, Fransen is prone to random high level analogies and overly long descriptions that just don't fit in this Devil Wears Prada type of story. The farcical reliance on negative millennial stereotypes was a huge turn off for me. A more heavy handed editor could go a long way. I received this book through a Goodreads giveaway.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    This book, a gift: underneath the surface, the frippery, the marshmallow whipped cream that you immediately think this book will be, there is quite a stunning tour de force; the lyricism and clarity of some of the paragraphs and prose pierce through the bubble of the stereotypical 'chick lit' novel and inevitably speak important truths about the #metoo era, misogyny, insecurity, loneliness, and the impact of social media on everyday life. This book, a gift: underneath the surface, the frippery, the marshmallow whipped cream that you immediately think this book will be, there is quite a stunning tour de force; the lyricism and clarity of some of the paragraphs and prose pierce through the bubble of the stereotypical 'chick lit' novel and inevitably speak important truths about the #metoo era, misogyny, insecurity, loneliness, and the impact of social media on everyday life.

  5. 5 out of 5

    M

    i don't really know how to talk about this book, because i think the way a lot of readers have approached it is with a very weird perception of what makes a strong protagonist. casey is the provocative best friend in all of those novels where the narrator is some sad shut-in nerd. she is incredibly smart, and you learn along with her that she carries with her the baggage that we all carry. but what really spoke to me was casey's undoing and how it was fueled by months of internal unrest about her i don't really know how to talk about this book, because i think the way a lot of readers have approached it is with a very weird perception of what makes a strong protagonist. casey is the provocative best friend in all of those novels where the narrator is some sad shut-in nerd. she is incredibly smart, and you learn along with her that she carries with her the baggage that we all carry. but what really spoke to me was casey's undoing and how it was fueled by months of internal unrest about her career and who she wanted to be, versus who the world was making her into. i rooted for her and felt for her harder than i've felt for any protagonist in a long time. remarkable, really, is the timing of this novel and what it says about the male abusers lurking in publishing. but so many people will never get as far as to read to that point because they can't stand who they think casey is, and her approach to life -- as she puts it, as a maximalist. they will think "she's a spoiled brat vapid girly girl and i'm much more like susan," (the audiobook narrator does her best jane lane impression here, which is truly magnificent) this book is honestly the first i've read in a long, long time where the protagonist changes wildly and for the better, where she grows and doesn't become a new person, but a whole person instead of fragmented and shadowed beneath outside expectations. i loved this book for a lot of reasons. i hope people will give it an honest chance. it deserves better than to be disregarded because of the reader's internalized misogyny and prejudice against the fun best friend.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Eilonwy

    Casey Pendergast, at 28, is very successful, especially “for an English major”: She makes over $100k working at a small advertising firm in Minneapolis, owns a condo, and is a favorite of her company’s owner. But Casey is still surprised to find herself selected as the single other participant in her boss’s new venture, which involves getting famous authors to write personalized copy for products like granola bars, gun museums, and coffee chains. Casey half enjoys getting to go meet these aut Casey Pendergast, at 28, is very successful, especially “for an English major”: She makes over $100k working at a small advertising firm in Minneapolis, owns a condo, and is a favorite of her company’s owner. But Casey is still surprised to find herself selected as the single other participant in her boss’s new venture, which involves getting famous authors to write personalized copy for products like granola bars, gun museums, and coffee chains. Casey half enjoys getting to go meet these authors to work her persuasive skills on them, and is half appalled to find how little persuasion it takes to get them to accept boatloads of money, i.e., “selling out” in Casey’s view. But while she’s doing this, Casey, a dysfunctional product of a multi-generational dysfunctional family, is falling apart. What a disappointment. The official jacket copy for this book promised a satire; the title and cover appear to promise cheerful fluff. Well, sometimes what they say about judging books by their covers (and names and blurbs) is sadly all too true. I felt completely misled as I worked my way through this slog of a story. It would really help if this had made up its mind whether it wanted to be a satire, or a finding-oneself story. Instead, it wants to be both, and the way the two tones are wrapped together didn’t work for me at all. The “satirical” part isn’t very funny. Some of the authors Casey meets are based on real people, and they aren’t presented all that flatteringly. (They might all be real people and I just didn’t recognize all of them.) The story (a) presents getting writer blurbs for products as something new (I don’t really think it is), and (b) makes fun of the writers for being willing to accept a huge amount of money for what amounts to very little work on their parts, but please: who the hell wouldn’t go for that, given the opportunity? But the satire was at least more fun than the finding-herself story. The “serious” part of the book, about what an internal mess Casey is, had a comedic tone that made me very uncomfortable, considering that IMO, Casey is genuinely dysfunctional, with poor coping skills and the cognitive distortions that come from growing up in a family where these things are passed down from generation to generation. I didn’t find it funny. This character is in genuine pain; the interpersonal problems and constant self-criticism/hyper self-consciousness she’s suffering from can be helped with fairly brief cognitive behavioral therapy. But instead of steering her to therapy, the misery is played for laughs. That just made me more and more angry as the book went on. (Short version of this paragraph: I am NOT the target audience for this angle. And I say that as someone who loves “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” which features a character just like this and plays it for cringing laughter+heartbreak, but with so much more empathy and depth.) In addition to the awkward story, the writing is really clunky, too. There are sentences which are individually deep, insightful, touching, and beautifully written. But overall, this book consists of big chunks of exposition, lots of tell-tell-tell about what’s going on, but very little show, i.e., experiencing it. As a reader, you just have to take Casey’s word for it that she and the love interest get along great and have terrific chemistry, because you’re sure not going to see it or feel it. Almost everything else important in this book is presented the same way. And because nothing is shown, the book ends with an epilogue which tidies things up in a way that feels as if someone came in and waved a magic wand to fix Casey's life, because the feeling of connection to what went before just isn’t there. There’s also a plot thread near the end of the book which doesn’t quite work for a book published in this year of #MeToo. Small quibbles are: * Major abuse of interrobangs (?!) throughout this book. As a writer, I allow myself one interrobang per novel, and it had better be called for. This book has at least 20 of the things. * This jarring phrasing: I hadn’t read with such voracity since college -- I didn’t have time. Yet it didn’t take me long to pick back up the habit. You know what? Sometimes the preposition really does belong at the end of the sentence. #IgnoreGrammarCheck Last but not least, this book is set in Minneapolis, but is full of hostility to the Midwest, which did not go over well with this native Ohioan. If you go into this expecting a dark, sad, cringing comedy of manners, then you might enjoy it. Part of my annoyance with this book is my conviction that it’s being misrepresented. But this really was nothing but a frustrating disappointment for me.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    A LADY'S GUIDE TO SELLING OUT is about 28 year old Casey who works at a top notch PR firm. Casey get a big pay raise when she heads a new branch of her firm which hires famous writers to promote different products for various companies. Casey had been a literature major in college and loves books and authors. At some point Casey begins to believe she is helping writers sell out. I thought I would love this novel. However, the first half was so slow for me that I almost quit reading the book twice A LADY'S GUIDE TO SELLING OUT is about 28 year old Casey who works at a top notch PR firm. Casey get a big pay raise when she heads a new branch of her firm which hires famous writers to promote different products for various companies. Casey had been a literature major in college and loves books and authors. At some point Casey begins to believe she is helping writers sell out. I thought I would love this novel. However, the first half was so slow for me that I almost quit reading the book twice. Fortunately the second half was great. Because of the beginning I would only rate A LADY'S GUIDE TO SELLING OUT with 3.5 stars. I received this book for an honest review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    I received a copy of this book through the Goodreads giveaway program. I just couldn't with this book. I felt no empathy for any of the characters; they were all horrible, and I could not finish this book. I received a copy of this book through the Goodreads giveaway program. I just couldn't with this book. I felt no empathy for any of the characters; they were all horrible, and I could not finish this book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    I received a copy of this book from the publisher via a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. A possible contender to the Worst Book of 2018 (it will be published in April 2018). Ms. Franson doesn't seem to understand her own characters, as she repeatedly emphasizes how likeable and attractive they are and then characterizes them in the least attractive and most unlikeable ways. Casey, when she isn't insipidly describing herself as a midwest girl who has no concept of life in the m I received a copy of this book from the publisher via a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. A possible contender to the Worst Book of 2018 (it will be published in April 2018). Ms. Franson doesn't seem to understand her own characters, as she repeatedly emphasizes how likeable and attractive they are and then characterizes them in the least attractive and most unlikeable ways. Casey, when she isn't insipidly describing herself as a midwest girl who has no concept of life in the midwest, is manipulative, petty, and thoughtless at best, with seemingly no character arc. This story is one inane situation after another as this supposed 28 year old, wealthy in NYC ad exec engages in casual sex with an innumerable amount of strangers, skyrockets her career with the most unimaginative PR speech I've ever read, and generally relies on the reader believing what we're told that she creates chemistry with everyone around her to believe anyone is drawn to her at all. While this was an ARC copy and I do expect to see errors every now and again, there were at least 3 instances of the author using a word incorrectly. Generally the writing is in a comedic tone, so I let much of the bad writing slide, but ultimately the author sounds as if she is new to writing and does not read much of other's writing that she wishes to emulate. Unless this was written by a teenager dreaming of a Kim Kardashian style womanhood, I don't see why a publishing company signed off on it. For more reviews, including Book v. Movie reviews, visit my blog at http://bookroomreviews.weebly.com/

  10. 4 out of 5

    Gail F.

    It takes two or three chapters to get past what appears to be a chick-lit book, but STAY WITH IT as it is SO worth it, because it's actually a novel which explores friendship, love, and what it means to be a woman navigating the sticky paths between self identity through career vs. "a true and meaningful" life--whatever that is!--, the human problem of always wondering if one's perceptions are clouded by false ego and past trauma. Franson's voice is so clear, so strong, so true; the pacing is fa It takes two or three chapters to get past what appears to be a chick-lit book, but STAY WITH IT as it is SO worth it, because it's actually a novel which explores friendship, love, and what it means to be a woman navigating the sticky paths between self identity through career vs. "a true and meaningful" life--whatever that is!--, the human problem of always wondering if one's perceptions are clouded by false ego and past trauma. Franson's voice is so clear, so strong, so true; the pacing is fast but not at all superficial, and as the book goes along, it just gets more and more intelligent. The narrator's voice feels ultimately like the reader's own thoughts which is Franson's real strength as a writer. This is one of my favorite books, ever, and her treatment of female friendship especially is both delicate and truthful. It seems, at first, to be a light read, but it gains weight and heft as one goes along--the writing is clever, quirky, but finally, thoughtful, honest and supremely well crafted. Highly recommended!!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    I won this novel as part of a Goodreads Giveaway. A Lady's Guide to Selling Out was an easy read, a quick book to fly through in an evening. However, there were several times I had to put the book down because it was either uncomfortable to read or made no sense to me. I regularly found myself cringing at the implausible circumstances the main character, Casey Pendergast, found herself in or otherwise created for herself. I spent the first half of the novel looking for a solid reason Franson had I won this novel as part of a Goodreads Giveaway. A Lady's Guide to Selling Out was an easy read, a quick book to fly through in an evening. However, there were several times I had to put the book down because it was either uncomfortable to read or made no sense to me. I regularly found myself cringing at the implausible circumstances the main character, Casey Pendergast, found herself in or otherwise created for herself. I spent the first half of the novel looking for a solid reason Franson had set the novel in the mid-west. Nothing about Pendergast or any of the other characters differentiated them from PR firms in NYC. Was it just for novelty? There were several other frustrating plot points like this throughout the novel. It felt like Pendergast learned a lot from what happened, but in the end everything was tied up with a nice bow thanks to a few convenient plot devices. It's a shame too, because Franson has an ability to write beautiful sentences on their own. There were numerous examples of poetic prose throughout the novel; touching pieces of writing that stood out on their own. As a novel however, A Lady's Guide to Selling Out just isn't a cohesive piece of writing.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Gaele

    Promoted in the blurb as a sharp and satirical look at one woman’s life as she navigates dreams and reality in the world of advertising, I was hoping for more sharpness and satire as Casey’s story unfolded. Perhaps I’m not the ‘target’ for this book – a 28 year old, navel-gazing, often shallow and superficial woman, alternating her rants between the need and futility of ‘keeping up’ on social media, interspersed with moments about the mother-daughter conflicts she endured and her overwhelming ne Promoted in the blurb as a sharp and satirical look at one woman’s life as she navigates dreams and reality in the world of advertising, I was hoping for more sharpness and satire as Casey’s story unfolded. Perhaps I’m not the ‘target’ for this book – a 28 year old, navel-gazing, often shallow and superficial woman, alternating her rants between the need and futility of ‘keeping up’ on social media, interspersed with moments about the mother-daughter conflicts she endured and her overwhelming need to please. But, were I to choose, Casey would not be someone in my circle, and the inability for me to form any sort of empathy for her nearly had me putting this book aside. Unfortunately, as Franson does have some wonderful moments when books and the only real relationship that Casey has, that with her friend and former college roommate Susan. But, this is often buried behind the lack of any real morality play for Casey – sure what she does (and she sees this) is ultimately sell to create a buzz, and there are few (if any) who really deserve all of the attention and hoopla that she helps to create, but it is more a function of her disengagement and inability to find an actual stance on anything. Sure she snarks and scoffs – but those real moments, where a decision to make a choice that will change the norm, rather than gloss over it with a pretty picture and soft lighting are wholly missed, and Casey seems like a set-dresser working for an Oscar, rather than someone truly bothered by, or willing to change, the way she is operating in the world. From her awareness of the disconnects to a consistent and concerted effort to ignore any way to make a difference, even a small one, the only hope for her appears with Ben, but this is soon buried, again, beneath the desperate attempts to appear ‘clever’ and ‘in tune’ while actually ignoring and fluffing over any way to improve or change her situation, her life or the lives around her. I was hoping for sharp wit and some clever insights, more in line with a satirical approach to the tale of the times we live in – instead it was sadly soft focus without any real conviction on Casey’s part to move on or forward, content in her self-absorption and stasis. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility. Review first appeared at I am, Indeed

  13. 4 out of 5

    Oreoandlucy

    Casey works for an advertising agency where she looks up to the her boss as a surrogate mother. Her boss soon asks her to head up a new, secret project called Nanu. Nanu will provide an advertisement income stream for authors by asking them to produce exclusive content for brands. A best-selling author will be the face of a new e-reader for writers. Another will post to their Instagram about pens. And another will be the face of a plus-sized fashion line. Soon, Casey begins to question the moral Casey works for an advertising agency where she looks up to the her boss as a surrogate mother. Her boss soon asks her to head up a new, secret project called Nanu. Nanu will provide an advertisement income stream for authors by asking them to produce exclusive content for brands. A best-selling author will be the face of a new e-reader for writers. Another will post to their Instagram about pens. And another will be the face of a plus-sized fashion line. Soon, Casey begins to question the morality of the program. She's in deeper trouble are her own actions, though. She tries to use some of the authors to push her friends writing. She dates one of the authors. Her world soon begins to unravel. This book really wasn't for me. I think that the author was going towards a literary fiction genre but this is Chick Lit, plain and simple. It did not come off as funny, at all, though. It was more bizarre than anything. In addition, the characters were not likeable at all. Casey is annoying and immature. She does morally questionable things but looks her nose down on others. She hates men. Her friend, Susan, is worse. I didn't enjoy the story or the characters. I also didn't think the notion of authors being involved in advertisement is that detestable or whacky of an idea. Actors do it. Sports figures do it. Heck, I even saw a politician hawk a pharmaceutical product for men at one time. And authors do it, too. Authors push their political or moral opinions on their readers, and the reading public at large, all the time. We accept it. It's considered normal. And theirs nothing really wrong with it. Why is an author creating content for a plus-sized fashion line any different? This book was just not that enjoyable. It really missed the mark for me. I would not recommend this book. I received an advanced copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Devyn

    I received this book from Goodreads. DNF I'm calling it quits on this one. Made it to page 110. I think I gave it a decent shot. From what I've read I'd call this book a business romance. Casey Pendergast has a very very busy life in advertising. She's always running around from place to place, trying to please everyone. Casey is always go go go! Sitting in my comfy chair and reading about her life makes me exhausted. Crazy extrovert. Anyway, she meets this guy and sparks fly. A true connection. She I received this book from Goodreads. DNF I'm calling it quits on this one. Made it to page 110. I think I gave it a decent shot. From what I've read I'd call this book a business romance. Casey Pendergast has a very very busy life in advertising. She's always running around from place to place, trying to please everyone. Casey is always go go go! Sitting in my comfy chair and reading about her life makes me exhausted. Crazy extrovert. Anyway, she meets this guy and sparks fly. A true connection. She also steals her best friend's poems and gives them to successful writers, hoping it'll give her friend a leg up. Of course, that backfires. Casey Pendergast is in advertising and somehow she doesn't know about plagiarism?? I call bullshit. Annnd this is where I quit. Recently, it's been just my luck that I've been reading books with monotonous, two dimensional women. Maybe the book gets better by the end, but I'm not willing to slog through it to find out.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    You will either love this book or hate it. I loved it. Casey is more honest than any of us. The author confronts us with her brutal fall mid-story and we wince and cry as she fights to dig up her soul. This book deals with sexual assault and power dynamics, so be ready if those are personally sensitive. But the beauty of the book, aside from witty self assessment, is the focus on female friendships as opposed to romantic relationships, which was terrifically refreshing. I laughed, I cried, I cri You will either love this book or hate it. I loved it. Casey is more honest than any of us. The author confronts us with her brutal fall mid-story and we wince and cry as she fights to dig up her soul. This book deals with sexual assault and power dynamics, so be ready if those are personally sensitive. But the beauty of the book, aside from witty self assessment, is the focus on female friendships as opposed to romantic relationships, which was terrifically refreshing. I laughed, I cried, I cringed, and then cheered. Thank you Sally Franson for bringing me Casey. I like to think that after the last page, she keeps shining.

  16. 4 out of 5

    LilBib’Phile

    I would give this book 10 stars if I could! It touched me on so many levels and I found the character of Casey very relatable. I can’t wait for another book by Sally Franson.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    I have to admit, although I was interested by the blurb, the cover is really what drew me to this book. I loved the hot pink and the fun typography. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough to save this book for me. Casey is a top performer at an advertising agency when her boss approaches her to work on a new project: recruiting authors and writers to become spokespeople and content creators for companies and brands in need of some good PR or new ideas. The authors generally sign on rather quickly, but I have to admit, although I was interested by the blurb, the cover is really what drew me to this book. I loved the hot pink and the fun typography. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough to save this book for me. Casey is a top performer at an advertising agency when her boss approaches her to work on a new project: recruiting authors and writers to become spokespeople and content creators for companies and brands in need of some good PR or new ideas. The authors generally sign on rather quickly, but Casey begins to feel uncomfortable with the campaigns, worrying that these literary idols of hers are "selling out." Combined with a fragile romance with one of her recruits and a fracture in the relationship with her best friend, Casey reaches her breaking point. I had some major issues with this book: - Honestly, I don't think I got the gist of the book. We see celebrities in car commercials and social media influencers with sponsored posts all the time, so I didn't quite get why it was considered "selling out" for writers to do the same thing. It's inferred in the book that authors are an untapped market in this regard and that they are often awkward loners addicted to their craft who wouldn't stoop so low - but anyone can be bought if the price is right. But to me, all of the writers Casey approached are adults, who knowingly entered these contracts and often for very good reasons - to get money to help an ill loved one, to start a charitable fund, or even just fund their own retirement. I don't think they were compromising their integrity by posting about pens, granola bars, or tracksuits, just as I don't think Casey was "selling out" by working in advertising - I mean, wouldn't her English degree be an asset in a job where words are paramount? It just didn't seem like a big deal to me; none of the products or brands were embarrassing, and if you could easily make some money that might make your life a little more comfortable or give you the freedom to do things like write more, why wouldn't you? - Casey's friend Susan was basically just a big stereotype - she's an aspiring author who tries way too hard to show that she doesn't approve of Casey's job, or the "establishment," or whatever. She's always low on money and her apartment is a wreck because... she's an artist? - There were three instances of sexual assault/harassment, including one that the crux of the story relies on. It was infuriating to see how everything was turned around on Casey and the slut-shaming and even death threats that followed. - The book felt very scattered. Sometimes it felt like the main character was going off on tangents that took me out of the story. I feel like the author was trying to make some commentary on artistic integrity and finding one's identity (seems to be a popular thing these days), but it didn't feel like it came together. But, there were some things I liked: - The book felt thoroughly modern, from the rampant use of social media to (very unfortunately) the sexual harassment issues. - Casey was often very relatable. She's in her late twenties, working at a job she's really good at but maybe doesn't think is her dream job. She's always seeking someone's approval and has jealousy issues. She was over-the-top at times, but I could understand her. - These characters loved to read! Casey and Susan constantly share book recommendations and their heroes are authors. It was really nice to see characters who enjoy books and reading. 2.5 stars

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    What a wonderful book. I ended up with an advanced reader copy, and honestly couldn't put it down. IThere aren't too many books that actually make me laugh out loud, but this one had me in stitches. The satire is just so on point--it really nails so much about our image-obsessed culture, but in a way that feels knowing and self-aware rather than mean or self-righteous. It has a lot of doesn't take anything too seriously, including itself. Which is not to say it's all wit and jokes--far from it. I What a wonderful book. I ended up with an advanced reader copy, and honestly couldn't put it down. IThere aren't too many books that actually make me laugh out loud, but this one had me in stitches. The satire is just so on point--it really nails so much about our image-obsessed culture, but in a way that feels knowing and self-aware rather than mean or self-righteous. It has a lot of doesn't take anything too seriously, including itself. Which is not to say it's all wit and jokes--far from it. It's got a lot of heart, too, a clever, surprising plot, and really strong characters. The protagonist, Casey, is so richly drawn--she's brassy, confident, and smart, but also vulnerable and really relatable. The book's brave enough to let her be human--to make mistakes, have some edge, and get into things over her head. But that humanity doesn't make Casey any less charming, just more real. Especially by the end of her journey through the glitzy and garish world of advertising, I was really rooting for her. What else can I say? The love story is especially well-done and satisfying. And I won't spoil anything, but the major plot blow-up feels ripped from the headlines. Franson's take on the #MeToo moment and social media shaming is both contemporary and wise. I don't even know how she does it--it's somehow sharp and sweet, fun and thought-provoking. A little bit, in other words, for everyone. Don't miss it.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Emily Mishler

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I won this book in a goodreads giveway. None of the characters were really well fleshed out and the main character was a pretty terrible person it seemed for most of the book and it took a sexual assault and a huge social media shaming episode to get her to be a decent human being with better adjusted emotions? I'm not sure of any story where the subject of widespread internet humiliation just bounces back within a year of the incident with a local tv show and wins back her ex (who broke up with I won this book in a goodreads giveway. None of the characters were really well fleshed out and the main character was a pretty terrible person it seemed for most of the book and it took a sexual assault and a huge social media shaming episode to get her to be a decent human being with better adjusted emotions? I'm not sure of any story where the subject of widespread internet humiliation just bounces back within a year of the incident with a local tv show and wins back her ex (who broke up with her because she was so possessive and also emotionally unavailable). Also books about all of these "typical millennials" confuse me because none of my friends are like any of these characters. Also the metaphors in this book were getting to me. You don't need to use a weird metaphor every few paragraphs when the rest of the text can stand just fine on its own.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Wow. Just wow. I fell in love with this book - with all the witty writing, with the insightful comments, with the beautiful moments that brought me to tears and with all the silly moments I couldn’t stop laughing/cringing at. This book touches so many aspects that women go through - not just high flyers (like the protagonist, Casey) but average normal people like me. It also made me realize a few home truths which I won’t go into because spoilers! But - I would recommend this to anyone - male or Wow. Just wow. I fell in love with this book - with all the witty writing, with the insightful comments, with the beautiful moments that brought me to tears and with all the silly moments I couldn’t stop laughing/cringing at. This book touches so many aspects that women go through - not just high flyers (like the protagonist, Casey) but average normal people like me. It also made me realize a few home truths which I won’t go into because spoilers! But - I would recommend this to anyone - male or female, lover of chick lit or not - definitely give this book a go because you won’t regret it. I’m definitely recommending this book for my next book club!!!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    I adored this book, I found it extremely relatable even though I am very different than the main character. So many things about her are little reflections on myself, who I want to be and who I don’t want to be. The story is so great and a fast read. I love the story about friendship between women!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jada

    (Please be advised that 90% if not more, of my personality is salt. I am so salty I could give the the Dead Sea a run for its money! I'm about to write horribly salty DNF review(s), one that I've been sitting on for weeks, trying to see if it was just a mood, that I was being too hard on the author. Unfortunately, the salt is still there, and so ... (This is not the way I wanted to get ahead on my 2018 reading challenge.)) ****************************************************************** "Dial ed (Please be advised that 90% if not more, of my personality is salt. I am so salty I could give the the Dead Sea a run for its money! I'm about to write horribly salty DNF review(s), one that I've been sitting on for weeks, trying to see if it was just a mood, that I was being too hard on the author. Unfortunately, the salt is still there, and so ... (This is not the way I wanted to get ahead on my 2018 reading challenge.)) ****************************************************************** "Dial editors take note! Slow pacing, self-aggrandizing while simultaneously self-pitying first person narrative DOES NOT(!) work! Constant over-analysis and self-awareness and extended analogies bog the reader down and does nothing but slap the reader in the face by telling them all they need to know. Show, don't tell! Stop laying cement where there should be breadcrumbs!" This is my first DNF of 2018. The above came from my last status update of this ARC. As of today, I am putting it down because while I'm normally all in favor of giving an author a chance to build their world, to create characters and situations for a reader to love, constantly stuck in a "It'll get better," sort of mentality, because its a book! With this one I can't. (And since I can't, it will have a review but no stars.) I dislike feeling that I'm being told a story and not shown it. To use an analogy, it feels as if I'm being slapped in the face with a fish (by information). Writing isn't about telling your readers upfront absolutely everything they need to know. Readers are more better than that, they can infer, make leaps and judgements; they're perfectly capable of such things. Telling the reader (me), outright exactly the motivation behind themselves and the people around them, exactly how they're going to react, why they do what they do--what's the point? Why bother reading any more about them? Off-the-wall, too long metaphors to showcase that point, especially right upfront, screw with the flow and prevent a reader from really connecting with any of the characters (especially the protagonist since its being written in first person). There were a few moments, brief thought they were, where I was willing to put my reservations aside and get into the story, then dashed against the rocks went my hopes, scattered to the winds before I could even unfurl the sails. Its only February! THERE IS TIME TO EDIT AND MAKE IT BETTER! Right? Because if there isn't, I can't see too many readers putting up with the beginning to get to what I understand is a better ending. I know I wasn't.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Susie Williams

    (I received an advanced copy of this book via Amazon in exchange for my honest review.) I can see why A Lady's Guide to Selling Out is a book with some mixed reactions, but I'm happy to say that I really enjoyed it, though there were some parts that were a bit tough to read. Not everything went how I wanted it to and Casey isn't the most likable girl in the world, but that's life and I'm glad this book reflected it. I'm actually really surprised by how many people hate the main character, Casey P (I received an advanced copy of this book via Amazon in exchange for my honest review.) I can see why A Lady's Guide to Selling Out is a book with some mixed reactions, but I'm happy to say that I really enjoyed it, though there were some parts that were a bit tough to read. Not everything went how I wanted it to and Casey isn't the most likable girl in the world, but that's life and I'm glad this book reflected it. I'm actually really surprised by how many people hate the main character, Casey Pendergast. I didn't think she was a horrible person at all... She went into marketing (like millions of people) and worked for an agency where yes, she was forced to sell her soul in some ways. Maybe it's because I spent years working for an agency myself, but I didn't see this as making Casey a bad person. Especially since she actually felt conflicted about some of the things she had to do in her position... Something many people in the industry never feel. And, after all, this book is called A Lady's Guide to Selling Out, so, I kind of expected there would be some selling out. I also appreciated how this book is so current, touching on many aspects of the Me Too movement. It isn't pretty and many events that happened in this novel made me very upset, but it was sadly realistic. Though I do assume Franson was finished with her book before the Me Too movement really took off and I wonder if Casey were to have the same experience now, would reactions be a bit different? Overall, I recommend this book, especially for anyone who has worked in marketing or has had a job that they felt didn't truly reflect their values. Just go into it knowing you may not want Casey to be your bff and some of the things she does and decisions she makes may make you cringe.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    tl;dr Review: Completely not what I expected and full of snarky and sly insight into our culture, female friendships, and the lies which we tell ourselves. Full Review: When I first started A Lady's Guide to Selling Out: A Novel by Sally Franson, I thought it was going to be a kind of "frilly" read. Something easy and simple and where I wouldn't have to think too hard. It didn't hurt that the narrator gives off the impression that she's fairly shallow as well. Yet, the more I read, the more I kept s tl;dr Review: Completely not what I expected and full of snarky and sly insight into our culture, female friendships, and the lies which we tell ourselves. Full Review: When I first started A Lady's Guide to Selling Out: A Novel by Sally Franson, I thought it was going to be a kind of "frilly" read. Something easy and simple and where I wouldn't have to think too hard. It didn't hurt that the narrator gives off the impression that she's fairly shallow as well. Yet, the more I read, the more I kept seeing her sly asides that indicated there was much more to this book and its protagonist than first meets the eye. Her wit combined with the unflinching and honest assessment of issues like what we will do to get ahead, how we can lose our dreams in the pursuit of what we think are our goals, our fauxlebrity (i.e. Real Housewives) worship, and even sexual harassment, led the book to read more like a feminist satire. It also leaves you at moments with questions about to what lengths we would go to - both in working our way up the corporate ladder and in how far we'd go to protect and help our friends. If you're looking for a book that reads like "chick lit" and will have you smirking to yourself as often as you're mulling over the insightful commentary on our current world, then you'll love this!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Christina (A Reader of Fictions)

    I listened to about half of this book, and I can't do it anymore. Though I disliked the character and story from the beginning, Chelsea Morgan's narration is impressive and full of personality, so I wanted to listen to it anyway. However, I just can't anymore. This book reads, to me, like a mocking indictment of female millenials, and it offends me. The heroine is more desperate to please than Maya on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. She refers to her boss as "mom" on multiple occasions. It's over-written an I listened to about half of this book, and I can't do it anymore. Though I disliked the character and story from the beginning, Chelsea Morgan's narration is impressive and full of personality, so I wanted to listen to it anyway. However, I just can't anymore. This book reads, to me, like a mocking indictment of female millenials, and it offends me. The heroine is more desperate to please than Maya on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. She refers to her boss as "mom" on multiple occasions. It's over-written and self-aware in ways that make all of this so much worse. Casey comments at one point on how she and her best friend Susan tried out eating disorders, like it's no big thing and a hilarious joke. I quit after Casey was sexually assaulted by a client and assigned herself ten percent of the blame for it. The book is about PR for writers, and it, of course, features all the worst writer-ly stereotypes too. There's nothing I find genuine about this book. It's a bunch of stereotypes run rampant written in a pretentious style. Despite the excellent production on the audiobook, I refuse to do this to myself.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    I found this book just "ok" BUT there were 3 quotes from it that I really liked: p. 115 "Seeing him there, far from his natural habitat, I was struck by the precariousness of the roles we assign ourselves, how tenuous this idea of identity really is; how much of ourselves relies on context." p. 117 "One thing I've always loved about work is that it doesn't let you dwell." p. 165 "Millions of gossamer threads connecting one heart to another -- it looks like a thick rope at a distance, but up close I found this book just "ok" BUT there were 3 quotes from it that I really liked: p. 115 "Seeing him there, far from his natural habitat, I was struck by the precariousness of the roles we assign ourselves, how tenuous this idea of identity really is; how much of ourselves relies on context." p. 117 "One thing I've always loved about work is that it doesn't let you dwell." p. 165 "Millions of gossamer threads connecting one heart to another -- it looks like a thick rope at a distance, but up close it's like a spiderweb. All it takes is one clumsy swipe to knock the whole thing down."

  27. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    For the most part I did not like this book. Thought about quitting several times. The characters are not likable, etc. But then there were these insightful, pungent lines that would pull me back in. Still a mixed feeling about this book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    A book that took nearly 2 weeks to read? Meh. Did not care for the self-indulgent, whiny main character.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Amy Ingalls

    I won this book in a giveaway. First, I love the cover and the typeface used at the start of each paragraph. I had a mixed reaction to the story itself. Parts of it, certain sentences or paragraphs, were very well-written and stuck with me. Other parts seemed a bit too juvenile or stereotypical. I did like the focus on female friendships, and the support that the women in this book had for each other. I didn't like the way the interaction with Wolf was handled. (view spoiler)[Unfortunately, many wo I won this book in a giveaway. First, I love the cover and the typeface used at the start of each paragraph. I had a mixed reaction to the story itself. Parts of it, certain sentences or paragraphs, were very well-written and stuck with me. Other parts seemed a bit too juvenile or stereotypical. I did like the focus on female friendships, and the support that the women in this book had for each other. I didn't like the way the interaction with Wolf was handled. (view spoiler)[Unfortunately, many women I know (myself included) have been in a situation where a man was forcing himself on them. I don't fault Casey for standing there while he kissed her, trying to think her way out. Sometimes that seems like a better bet than fighting, a way to defuse and get out quickly. She used her brain to protect herself in the moment, and that's okay. What I do fault the author for is allowing Casey to blame herself. For having her work with him the next day as though nothing happened. In this day and age I think the message should be that it is okay to tell someone, and that you don't have to put up with this type of behavior. Also, she kept referring to the incident with Julian as a sexual assault (which it was) but so was the incident with Wolf. (hide spoiler)]

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lesley

    Much better than the Red Dress Ink-esque cover would imply. This one tackles themes I wouldn't expect out of something that doesn't seem to try hard to be anything more than chick lit - and that's good! Chick lit is good! Some of it feels a bit shoehorned in - we meet a trans character right at the very end who goes by gender neutral pronouns and doesn't seem to serve any particular purpose other than to let the author/narrator flex her wokeness, but I'll take it - but the idea of privilege does Much better than the Red Dress Ink-esque cover would imply. This one tackles themes I wouldn't expect out of something that doesn't seem to try hard to be anything more than chick lit - and that's good! Chick lit is good! Some of it feels a bit shoehorned in - we meet a trans character right at the very end who goes by gender neutral pronouns and doesn't seem to serve any particular purpose other than to let the author/narrator flex her wokeness, but I'll take it - but the idea of privilege does provide a key sticking point for the conflict between the main character and her best friend. On that note, I was pleased to see that the typical extrovert sidekick that drives the plot for so many introspective, wallflower protagonists is reversed here, and it's the narrator who grabs her best friend out of her shell and forces her life forward. Refreshing! Also, props to the author for setting this somewhere other than New York City. I will say that this book is very Of Its Time in terms of allusions to social media, viral videos, and reality stars as multi-pronged media moguls but I don't know how you could even write this book without including a fair amount of those. That said, the idea that a novelist could ever be such a coveted brand influencer is... far-fetched, to say the least.

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