Birds of California: A Novel

Written by:
Katie Cotugno
Narrated by:
Julia Whelan
Price: $24.99 $4.99

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
April 2022
7 hours 49 minutes
''Exquisite and delicious. . . Katie Cotugno has outdone herself.'' —Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of Daisy Jones & The Six and Malibu Rising

Sparks fly and things get real in this sharply sexy and whip-smart romantic comedy set against the backdrop of a post #metoo Hollywood from New York Times bestselling author Katie Cotugno

Former child actor Fiona St. James dropped out of the spotlight after a spectacularly public crash and burn. The tabloids called her crazy and self-destructive and said she’d lost her mind. Now in her late twenties, Fiona believes her humiliating past is firmly behind her. She’s finally regained a modicum of privacy, and she won’t let anything—or anyone—mess it up.

Unlike Fiona, Sam Fox, who played her older brother on the popular television show Birds of California, loves the perks that come with being a successful Hollywood actor: fame, women, parties, money. When his current show gets cancelled and his agent starts to avoid his calls, the desperate actor enthusiastically signs on for a Birds of California revival. But to make it happen, he needs Fiona St. James.

Against her better judgment, Fiona agrees to have lunch with Sam. What happens next takes them both by surprise. Sam is enthralled by Fiona’s take-no-prisoners attitude, and Fiona discovers a lovable goofball behind Sam’s close-up-ready face. Long drives to the beach, late nights at dive bars . . . theirs is the kind of kitschy romance Hollywood sells. But just like in the rom-coms Fiona despises, there’s a twist that threatens her new love. Sam doesn’t know the full story behind her breakdown. What happens when she reveals the truth?
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C. M.

I am baffled by this book. I’ve read a couple other novels by Katie Cotugno (You Say it First and One Last Stop) and I greatly enjoyed them. With those two there was more to the books than just the romance. YSIF in particular was much more than a YA love story. I have no idea what happened with Birds of California. \r\n\r\nYou should know this book has no plot. It’s about a 28 year old woman, Fiona, whose “personality” is having hair and “biting her tongue so hard she tastes iron,” and being emotionally abusive to her boyfriend but excusing it because she’s suffered trauma. The plot is just will-they-won’t-they with Fiona and her former coworker Sam who, Ms. Cotugno REALLY wants you to know, is HOT. Oh yes, is he ever. In fact so much so that it’s very important to spend forty percent of the book discussing Sam’s hotness in great detail. Not his personality, though. Don’t worry, he doesn’t have one of those!\r\n\r\nThere are conflicts and various other would-be plot lines referenced in the story, such as Sam’s family’s struggles and misogyny and abuse in Hollywood. Those don’t actually affect the story though. Not only that, but they don’t affect the characters. There is simply no growth or personal development. (Oh but there’s plenty of ~growth~ in the sex scenes. Of which there are many. Cool if you’re looking for that, but not if they’re there instead of a plot or tolerable dialogue?) \r\n\r\nThere is a certain theme throughout the novel that’s referenced, and it’s clear the author wants the reader to pick up on something without saying it outright. (I don’t want to say what it is because of spoilers… I guess) It’s very obvious; the reader concludes what happened probably about a quarter of the way through. But then the book continues as if the reader still doesn’t know, and as though there’s more to it that you just haven’t heard yet, but NEVER ACTUALLY DEVELOPS IT into a plot! It literally stays the same story all the way through! If you’re waiting for this theme to tie together with something else, or have a resolution, or even - bless your heart - bring about growth in any one of the characters, you will be sorely disappointed. It literally just exists for the purpose of setting up Fiona to be a mean person. (Oh, and I certainly don’t mean to imply that people aren’t “allowed” to be affected by bad things. It’s just that Fiona doesn’t really display trauma symptoms, she’s just a cruel person.)\r\n\r\nFor a book that supposedly tackles #MeToo and sexist micro aggressions, it has no qualms jumping head first into “not like other girls”-style characters. The internalized misogyny is just revolting. Fiona hates all other women in Sam’s life (aside from his best friend because she’s lesbian so it’s ok!) and violently judges literally ANYONE in his life who is also pretty. \r\n\r\nThe writing was just atrocious. The same phrases are repeated over and over and OVER. The characters are described as moving and speaking as if they were in a high school anime. (For example, every time Sam is embarrassed he scratches the back of his neck. You know the move.)\r\n\r\nBirds of California is a partially baked good-ish idea for a story with characters shallower than a kiddy pool and about as likable as Mitch McConnell. It’s a 7.5 hour story about hot people wanting to sleep together but not having the word comprehension level to maintain an adult conversation. Included somewhere in there is a listicle of conflicts and half-hearted attempts to flesh out side characters, which are all promptly forgotten and abandoned, so the story can end inconclusively with Fiona and Sam making out.\r\n\r\nAfter all, that IS the entire point.

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