Midweek Mini Reviews #8

You Can Have a Dog When I’m Dead: Essays on Life at an Angle by Paul Benedetti

Continuing my pattern of reading collections of personal essays, I decided to pick up Paul Benedetti ‘s You Can Have a Dog When I’m Dead: Essays on Life at an Angle. This book is a collection of his past columns for The Hamilton Spectator where he writes about his life, family and of course his neighbour Dave. Maintaining a good balance of being heartfelt, witty, hilarious and self-deprecating Benedetti’s writing at times reminded me of the writing style of the late Stuart McLean’s. Touching on every happenings in his life, there is definitely something that everyone can relate to in this collection of essays.

Well written and organized in a short and simple way, You Can Have a Dog When I’m Dead: Essays on Life at an Angle is most certainly a book that was made to take along with you on vacation or even for a weekend at the cottage.

This Time Around by Tawna Fenske

For those looking for a light, sweet contemporary romance Tawna Fenske’s This Time Around definitely does the trick. I adored the setting and all the characters, especially Jack’s daughter, Paige (who stole every scene she was in and even some that she wasn’t in) and Allie’s new friend, Skye. Furthermore it was difficult not to root for Jack and Allie as they were perfect for each other.

The only issue I had with this book was the conflict with Allie’s family and the money she discovers, I found it incredibly frustrating that she just kept on making poor decisions when it came to that. However, this was offset by the absurdity of what else she finds in her grandmother’s attic as it seems every character was finding something there.

This Time Around, is one of those warms that leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy in the end, and I like how it shows that the life you expected might not be the life you get and how sometimes it’s the unexpected that leaves us pleasantly surprised.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

 

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Midweek Mini Reviews #7

One Brother Shy by Terry Fallis

I’ve been a fan of Terry Fallis’ books since I’ve read Up and Down so I was excited for this one especially as it features twins! (For those of you who don’t know the author is also a twin in real life) Anyways, One Brother Shy was a well written and heartwarming story about family and moving on from your past. As with his earlier novels, Fallis’ trademark humour once again is evident within the pages of One Brother Shy in addition to his talent for writing scenes that are funny but also shockingly dark like the “Gabriel” incident in this book. I loved that in addition to family One Brother Shy touched on other topics like bullying, trauma, the effects that viral videos have on their victims. And despite liking the where the book Alex leaves at, I do wish we got to spend more time with Alex, Matt and the rest of their family. One Brother Shy is a great vacation read that’s not too light and not too dark, and bonus points for it being Canadian of course. Also while the book is good, I’d highly recommend you check out the podcast of One Brother Shy. Read by the author himself, you definitely feel more connected to the story, the world and Alex when you listen to the podcast.

Public Relations by Katie Heaney & Arianna Rebolini

Having found, Katie Heaney’s earlier books fairly enjoyable I was really looking forward to her newest book, Public Relations which she co-wrote with her friend, Arianna Rebolini. I love a fun, light romantic comedy, especially for the summer and I was eager to dip into this tale of a faux showmances.

Unfortunately, this one was a bit of a disappointment. I couldn’t connect with any of the characters, although I did appreciate how the novel chooses to focus on Rose’s job in PR giving us an insider look at what goes on behind the scenes of a public relations firm. And I can definitely relate to her working an entry-level job and trying to work her way up the ladder. That being said, however, the characters and the majority of their relationships were often frustrating at times. Furthermore, I couldn’t stand the character of Archie Fox, who was supposed to be the intended love interest, as he came off as pretty spoiled and condescending and I couldn’t really see his appeal.

So while I didn’t hate Public Relations, I will admit it just wasn’t for me. I do think that Public Relations is a book that may appeal to the millennial crowd and someone who is looking for a read that’s light on romance and heavier on celebrity culture and PR.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

 

Book Review | The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Authour:
Taylor Jenkins Reid
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
June 13th 2017
Publisher:
Atria Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
I’m no stranger to Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books, but The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was something completely different from her usual books. Normally, Reid’s books are either a hit or miss with me however, as soon as I started The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo I was immediately obsessed!

It’s difficult to not to be captivated by the titular “Evelyn Hugo”, the daughter of Cuban immigrants, who transformed herself from a young girl living in poverty with an alcoholic father to the blonde bombshell that dominates Hollywood. And while Evelyn is far from perfect, it made me love her even more. She is unapologetic, even in her old age, and she is as fierce as she is resourceful. Even if you’re not into old Hollywood stories, Reid manages to weave an amazingly enchanting story that draws you into the world of the “Golden Age” of Hollywood with all its glitz, glamour and scandals.

While The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo does examine personal relationships similar to Reid’s earlier novels, it is not just a love story. Rather the “seven husbands” are as Evelyn says “just husbands”, it’s truly Evelyn that’s the real star after all it’s her story. There is however loads of heart and soul in her life story, and I love how the character of Monique was able to grow as a result of being the (chosen) person who is recording the life story of Evelyn Hugo.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is the perfect beach read. It’s delightfully juicy and incredibly engrossing making it almost impossible to put down. And the author does such an amazing job of creating the character of “Evelyn Hugo” that it’s difficult to believe that she was not a real life figure. Regardless of how we feel about the titular character, I think readers will feel just as Monique did in that in the end, that we have all been blessed to have been given the gift of becoming acquainted with the life of Evelyn Hugo.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan

Authour:
Kevin Kwan
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
May 23rd 2017
Publisher:
Doubleday
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
Rich People Problems has been my most anticipated title ever since it was announced that there would be a third book in the Crazy Rich Asians series. I couldn’t wait to return to the world and the beloved characters for the series finale!

After having two books focus on Rachel, the third book focuses on Nicholas and his “crazy rich” family. Nick’s grandmother and the family’s matriarch, Su Yi is on her death-bed which means everybody is gathered at Tyersall Park. One of my favourite aspects about Rich People Problems other than the Astrid and Charlie relationship was the relationship between Nick and his Ah Ma (grandmother) who have been estranged for five years since Nick decided to marry Rachel. I liked that we become more acquainted with her past. I also wouldn’t object to an entire book dedicated to Su Yi’s life when she was younger as I felt that we only got snippets of her past which were discovered by Nick off-screen.

For the majority of Rich People Problems, I found the book to be well written and well-paced. However, there were several moments that occurred off-screen that I wish we could have seen, such as the development of some of the later romantic relationships in addition to Nick learning more about his Ah Ma’s past and finally Nick’s campaigning attempts and Rachel’s gathering of the “dream team” and fending off Nick’s crazy aunts. Though I supposed it was necessary for all these events to happen “off-screen” as there just wouldn’t be enough time or room for it all in one book.

Those who enjoyed the other books in the Crazy Rich Asians series will definitely enjoy Rich People Problems. It’s no simple task to be able to write a satisfying conclusion to a beloved series, but Kevin Kwan manages to do just that. Sure there are still a few minor questions that are left unanswered, nevertheless I remain more than satisfied with Rich People Problems being the last book in the series. That being said, however I am eagerly anticipating the movie release and wouldn’t object to a prequel featuring Su Yi and I know I’m not the only one, right?

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | Miss You by Kate Eberlen


missyouAuthour:

Kate Eberlen
Format:
ARC, 433 pages
Publication date:
April 4th 2017
Publisher:
Harper
Publisher Social Media: Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
David Nicholls’ One Day, has a special place in my heart as it was the book that kept me company when I was living alone in Israel. So when I heard that Miss You was being compared to One Day I knew I needed to get my hands on a copy. Fortunately I was able to obtain an ARC allowing me to read it before the release date.

Miss You follows Gus and Tess, who meet briefly as teenagers in Italy during the summer that would become the “start of the rest of their lives”. Miss You started off quite promising and full of hope, however the stories quickly take an incredibly depressing turn which rarely lets up. This is unfortunate as I grew to adore Tess, and it was incredibly heartbreaking to see how miserable she became. Despite giving up everything, her sacrifices never were appreciated instead it was borderline pathetic how she was always waiting for something/someone to “push” her towards seeking better things for herself. I did like the friendship between her and Doll although it was rather unfortunate as to how they fell out with each other. And while Doll does eventually redeem herself, the ordeal further shows how much of a pushover Tess could be as she was way too giving and nice to everyone.

The other half of the equation was Gus. I found it extremely difficult to like him or feel more than an ounce of sympathy towards him. He truly was a dreamer and not in a flattering way as he comes off as a rather awful person at times. And while there were definite similarities between him and Tess, I don’t think this necessarily is a sign that the two were meant to be or are “soul mates”. After all, even though two people are both miserable and have made some foolish decisions in life, it doesn’t mean that they would be perfect together. Perhaps if they had actually interacted more throughout the years, it would’ve been easier to root for him and Tess as a couple, instead the ending feels sudden and random almost as if it came from out of nowhere.

Despite being compared to One Day, Miss You shares more similarities with David Nicholls’ Us, a book which I did not enjoy all that much. Miss You’s premise was definitely promising, however despite its few moments of charm the novel came off as too long and heavy which did not work for the execution of the romance that was to come in the book.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Words of Asia | China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan

WOA

For a listing to the links for all the other review posts for the Words of Asia blog event click here.

About the Authour:
Kevin Kwan was born in Singapore and currently lives in Manhattan. China Rich Girlfriend is his second novel, a follow up to his first novel, Crazy Rich Asians. Having grown up in the world that is depicted in his novels, he’s in an excellent position to give the rest of us an insider’s look into the exclusive world of the wealthy in Asia.

Where Does it Take Place?
The book jumps around ALOT! It starts in China then goes to Hong Kong before jumping to California and then to Singapore. Basically reading this book is like traveling to a whole bunch of different places, most of them in Asia.

chinarich

What’s it About:
The sequel to Crazy Rich Asians, China Rich Girlfriend once again follow Rachel and Nick as they get to know a whole other side of crazy rich, this time in Mainland China. And this whole new, crazy world may or may not be somehow connected to Rachel’s father. Along the way w get to catch up with some fan favourite characters from the first book such as Eddie and Astrid as well as getting to know some of the new characters.

My Thoughts:
In case you guys don’t know, China Rich Girlfriend was pretty much my most anticipated read of 2015. I could not wait to dive into that world again and visit all the familiar characters as well as meet the new ones. Fortunately the book did not disappoint, I love that we get to see both Astrid and Peik Lin again as well as Nick and Rachel of course. And I love Rachel’s interactions with some of the new characters especially one in particular who may be connected to her father. All in all, this entire book was much more intense and crazier than the first book, what with all the mind games and characters sizing each other up at every chance they get. It was basically a rollicking, good time and an excellent novel if you ever want to escape into another world. I also loved how in this book, the authour made the decision to show some of the plot through gossip tabloids and news articles, I thought it was an incredibly creative idea and it was a welcome addition to the reading experience. In the end while I really loved the book, I can’t help but want more so I really hope there will be a third book. Not ready to say goodbye to these characters yet!

You’ll like this book, if you love:
Books with LOTS of DRAMA, soap opera- like gossip, fashion and of course mouth watering descriptions of food. Also for those who you something slightly different from your usual adult contemporary fiction and a different kind of setting.


I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Nevertheless, regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Words of Asia | Re Jane by Patricia Park

WOA

For a listing to the links for all the other review posts for the Words of Asia blog event click here.

About the Authour:
Patricia Park was born and raised in Queens, New York. Re Jane is her first novel. She has also published numerous essays in several major outlets such as the New York Times, and the Guardian.

Where Does it Take Place?
Re Jane starts off in Flushing, Queens and Seoul, Korea and Jane tries to flee from her actions in New York.

rejane

What’s it About:
A modern retelling with a unique twist to the classic novel, Jane Eyre. We meet Jane Re, a half-American, half-Korean young woman who has grown up in Flushing, Queens for her whole life. An orphan, she lives with her uncle’s family and works in their grocery store. However, wanting to so desperately escape she ends up taking a job as an au pair for a couple of Brooklyn English professors who have adopted a Chinese daughter.

My Thoughts:
While I had some minor issues with Jane Eyre when I read it back in high school I really enjoyed Re Jane. Despite being a sort of retelling of Jane Eyre, Re Jane definitely stands on its own as a strong début novel. I loved the twists that were added to this story to make the book stand out on its own. In particular, I love how Jane in this book was a recent graduate who had only one job offer but due to a corporate scandal the company could no longer afford to hire anyone new. For recent graduates and even post grads, I think many of us can relate to this even now as it is certainly difficult to find employment. I also loved how I could relate to Jane’s naivety and inexperience when it came to life, as I too had a strict, sheltered upbringing just like she had. Overall, I loved what this book had to say about finding what you want and learning to appreciate what you have.

You’ll like this book, if you love:
Books of characters in that emerging adulthood stage of life. As Jane is a recent university graduate, it leads to some interesting storytelling. Also if you are into diverse books, this is a good choice as Park infuses elements of the classic novel, Jane Eyre with the immigrant experiences of Korean-Americans. Even if you have not read or have read but didn’t enjoy Jane Eyre, you should definitely pick up Re Jane.

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Nevertheless, regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag

dressshopAuthour:
Menna van Praag
Format:
Trade Paperback, 326 pages
Publication date:
December 30th 2014
Publisher:
Ballantine Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

“…if life is ever less than lovely, put on this dress and it’ll help you remember that you are loved. And that will see you through everything.” (p. 149)

When it comes to fiction, generally I am not the greatest fan of magical realism. Though, as is the case with most things there are always exceptions. The Dress Shop of Dreams is about a woman named Etta who owns a dress shop that isn’t your ordinary dress shop; instead the dresses in Etta’s store speak to her and bring magic to those who are ready and willing to accept them. The book also tells the stories both past and present of various other characters who are or become connected to either Etta or her grand-daughter, Cora.

Although there were several things in this book that were obvious to me such as the entire mystery behind Cora parents’ deaths, and other things that annoyed me slightly such as how weak willed a few of the characters were, The Dress Shop of Dreams was still an enjoyable read. I particularly loved the relationship between Cora and Etta in addition to the relationship between Cora and her parents when she was a child which is only seen in flashbacks. I loved how both her parents loved each other and their daughter, and how even though they loved their work and were extremely into their research, they never neglected their relationships.

All in all, The Dress Shop of Dreams is a magical story regarding the magic that words, books and clothes and the effects they can have on people. It is an uplifting, enchanting and heartwarming story that is ideal for winter holiday which was when I in reality read the book. Also for those who like their books to having an ending that ties up all the loose ends nicely, this book does just that. I am looking forward to Menna van Praag’s subsequent book which based on its preview included in this book looks like it will be a mysterious read concerning witches who are university professors.

If you like this book, you’ll love: The Emperor of Paris by C.S. Richardson

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | Us by David Nicholls

UsAuthour:
David Nicholls
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 392 pages
Publication date:
October 28th 2014
Publisher:
Harper
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

Sometimes love isn’t enough. This is what the protagonist and narrator of Us comes to learn when his wife suddenly wakes him to tell him she (thinks) she wants to leave him. And subsequently this is the catalyst for the journey that Douglas undergoes in this book, as he, his wife, Connie and their son, Albie embark on one last family vacation together before Albie leaves for college.

To be honest Us was not at all the book that I thought it would be. I went in expecting a fluffier and lighter story of a man trying to win back his wife in a romantic comedy sort of style and instead what I got was an intelligent, thought provoking novel on the subject of relationships and family. However, I am definitely not complaining since this book made me truly ponder the story I was reading and I loved that. Douglas Petersen, in my opinion is not an easy person to love. In fact in the beginning I was a bit frustrated with reference to his insufferable attitude towards things and how utterly clueless he was as his recalls his past and the history of his relationship with Connie. Nevertheless as the book progressed, he slowly started to grow on me as I noticed that he was just awkward and he truly cared about his family and as such was always trying to do what he thought was best for them. After all who here doesn’t have regrets similar to his regarding certain things we’ve said that sounded better inside our heads except when it came out it sounded extremely wrong?

Without spoiling too much, what I loved was the second half of the book since it is all about making amends and communicating and connecting with your loved ones. I love the confrontation between Douglas and Albie, and I enjoyed seeing how the entire experience brought them closer as Douglas learned to not be so rigid. On the other hand, I didn’t enjoy the relationship between Douglas and Connie as much. I found it unfathomable how the two being such different people where able to come together, get married and have a family together as there were numerous problems in their relationship from the beginning to the present. Still, in spite of it all it is obvious that they truly care about each other, and maybe that’s what makes this story feel so true to life. In reality, not all families and marriages are perfect matches instead they are complicated and messy. And every now and then even with a mass amount of work, things don’t exactly work out the way you expected. That’s why though I did not enjoy Us as much as David Nicholl’s previous book, One Day I still adore it. Us was a wonderful combination of heartbreaking and uplifting which makes for a warm though bittersweet read, just the thing for this autumn season.

If you like this book, you’ll love: The Sun and Other Stars by Brigid Pasulka

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

Authour:somediffer
Sandy Hall
Format:
Trade Paperback, 272 pages
Publication date:
August 26th 2014
Publisher:
Swoon Reads
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

“I like the idea that we’re getting to watch their lives without them knowing. And I know that might sound voyeuristic and weird and pathetic, but it also makes me happy. And I don’t have a ton of that kind of happy in my life at the moment, so let me enjoy some damn Starbuck customers falling in love!” (p. 57)

Have you ever had, in your group of friends, two people who seem made for each other although they still haven’t gotten together? You know that couple that’s not in reality a couple, that has you almost screaming, “Just hook up already!” This is what happens in Sandy Hall’s A Little Something Different. Lea and Gabe are two college students who just have that chemistry that every person in their lives can spot And while I was worried that the romance would have been shoved down my throat and the characters would be too pushy when it comes to getting together two people who don’t have chemistry, I was impressed that this was not the case. Lea and Gabe are extremely sweet together and I could not help but also ship them similar to everyone in their lives does.

There are several things that A Little Something Different does well, for instance, even based on the cover and the synopsis you can already tell that this will be a sweet love story. I loved that it took place in college instead of high school and that Lea was a freshman. This made me a bit nostalgic for my days as a freshman at university for the reason that I was definitely similar to Lea in that I was a bit shy, and I loved to write and similar to her, I was fortunate enough to have friends who were always pushing me to go outside my comfort zone and meet new people.

However, my favourite aspect of this book was how it was a love story told from multiple perspectives. We never essentially get to observe Lea or Gabe’s point of views nonetheless we get acquainted with them more through the interactions they have with the other characters. My favourite perspective was the creative writing professor, as she was just so cool and I can definitely picture myself also pairing up students in my mind if I were a teacher. Which I found hilarious even though it’s a bit weird and kind of crazy. I also liked the parts where the story was told from Lea’s friend, Danny’s point of view. Having Danny have the final say in the novel was just beyond wonderful.

On the other hand, there were the two points of views that I felt did not work too well. These were the parts told from the bench’s perspective as they came off as a bit condescending, and Hillary, who got on my nerves since she had an extremely, ridiculous sense of self entitlement. I also felt the conflict or rather what was keeping Gabe and Lea apart felt a bit out of place, especially near the final pages and the resolution fell a bit flat for me even if I was fond of the conclusion.

All in all A Little Something Different is an extreme fluffy and utterly adorable read and if that’s what you feel like you need at the moment then this book is a must read. Not only does it have a cute romance but it also has a remarkable cast of unique characters who also provide a strong and stable support system for Lea and Gabe as they slowly find their way to each other.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Authour:afterido
Taylor Jenkins Reid

Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 334 pages
Publication date:
July 1st 2014
Publisher:
Washington Square Press
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
There are scores of stories that just end when a couple gets married, leaving the reader to guess what happens after. However, After I Do takes, the less common approach of telling the story of a married couple, Lauren and Ryan, whose marriage is falling apart. Their marriage get so unbearable that the pair decides to separate as they no longer find that they love each other anymore.

And while there may be some books that have similar stories what I like about this book is how it opens up with the couple having a heated argument before jumping to how they met 11 years ago, followed by their wedding and the months that follow up until the present time with a few time skips in between. Fortunately this indicates the start of each chapter so the reader doesn’t get too confused. As a result, we get to witness Lauren and Ryan meeting and falling in love and then falling in love as both start to neglect their relationship once they get married. I found this a clever storytelling tool, and it works well for the type of story the authour is trying to tell.

What I liked about After I Do is that there is no magic solution to their marital problems; the couple is left to their own devices to try and figure things out on their own. Everything they do has consequences, and even their separation affects just more than the couple. There is an excellent scene in the book where Lauren’s brother who has always been close to Ryan ever since Ryan came into Lauren life tells her that she doesn’t own Ryan even though they split up. This was realistic in that it examines the question of what happens to the other relationships when a marriage breaks up, it’s too simplistic to say you’d take the side of your blood family no questions asked. I believe in real life relationships are more complicated and messy and at times family members may end up cherishing those relationships that resulted because of the marriage just as much as their relationship with their own family and it is just as painful if not almost impossible to give those relationships up.

Taylor Jenkins Reid writes family relationships extremely well in After I Do, and her writing also flows nicely. In particular, I like the relationship Lauren has with her family, especially the one she has with her sister, Rachel which made me envious of their closeness. Rachel was also such a refreshing character as you rarely see characters that don’t put much stock in whether or not they end up married and with a family in women fiction. As this is how I also feel about the subject, I loved that I was able to relate to the character of Rachel in that way. Overall, the whole family dynamic in Lauren’s family was so amazing and it was easy to love them, especially her grandmother who was the perfect blend of sweetness, harshness, and hilarity.

After I Do is a book that even if you’re not married you could probably enjoy just as well, as it reminds us the importance of appreciating the people we love and to cherish all the time we have with them.

If you like this book, you’ll love: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Early Book Review | Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Authour:landline
Rainbow Rowell
Format:
Egalley
Publication date:
July 8th 2014
Publisher:
St. Martin’s Press
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
I haven’t had much luck with Rainbow Rowell’s books; I disliked and did not finish Eleanor and Park. And while I found both Attachments and Fangirl okay, I wasn’t truly wowed by either of them. However the synopsis her newest book, Landline appealed to me much more than the plot of any of her other books so I was excited to pick it up. And I’m glad I did as Rainbow Rowell’s writing has definitely improved a great deal over time.

A marriage is in trouble and a magic yellow phone may be the key to saving it; this is the premise of Rainbow Rowell’s latest book Lanline. In Lanline, the Protagoras is Georgie McCool, a mother, wife, and TV writer who is working on a new show that she hopes will get picked up. However as she gets more and more consumed with her work she starts to neglect her family and her marriage more. This realization finally hits her hard when her husband and daughters take off to visit his mother for Christmas leaving her behind and alone. And it is on this day when she is alone in her room that she discovers a way to talk to a younger version of her husband Neal. With this Georgie is confronted with a dilemma, having found a way where she could go back and change the past and as a result her and Neal’s future, would she take advantage of it?

To be honest, initially I didn’t actually like present day Neal, even though he seemed like a decent guy and an excellent father. Mostly I found his relationship with Georgie frustrating, even though it was both of their faults that there were problems in their marriage. However after getting a chance to see what Neal was like when they were younger in addition to learning about the back-story of their relationship, the pairing of Georgie and Neal started to slowly grow on me. I also thought the present day Georgie’s phone conversations with 1998 Neal were incredibly adorable, mostly because it showed how obviously Georgie was in love with Neal both in the past and in the present.

Landline is a realistic portrayal of long-term relationships in particular marriage and how easy it is to get comfortable in routines that you end up forgetting to consider the other person in the relationship. This book is for anyone who is a fan of Rainbow Rowell’s other books as well as anyone who loves adult contemporary fiction.

If you like this book, you’ll love: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Early Book Review | So Much a Part of You by Polly Dugan

Authour:somuch
Polly Dugan
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 229 pages
Publication date:
June 10th 2014
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
So Much a Part of You by Polly Dugan is a short but strong collection of short stories that are all interconnected. We follow a young boy named Jack who has an extremely dysfunctional family with an alcoholic father, a passive mother and a sister whom he does not get along with. This boy later grows up and becomes a father to a Anna, a character who appears in some form in almost all the stories afterwards. Jack’s relationship with his sister, Clare kind of reminds me of the relationship I have with my younger brother though fortunately our parents are nothing like theirs. It was pretty interesting to see the father Jack ends up being and one can only conclude that his experiences with growing up and the traumas he encountered really had an impact on him.

Anna was an ordinary protagonist though her relationships with other characters later on made her a more fascinating character to follow. It was interesting to see how Anna was connected to all the other characters and it was cool to see their back stories. The nice thing about the stories featured in So Much a Part of You is how relatable some of the things the characters’ experiences can be to young people. Things like wanting to fit in at college, to make bad decisions and even the fear that you are becoming more and more like your parent as you grow older.

Though the description on the back of the book is a bit misleading as it focuses on only one of the numerous stories in this collection, So Much a Part of You is overall, a mostly well-written collection of short stories that I think would appeal especially to those who are in their twenties and older. It is also a perfect, quick read for a work commute as the stories are enjoyable and despite being about life, relationships and growing; they aren’t heavy reads.

If you like this book, you’ll love: Brooklyn Girls by Gemma Burgess


Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Early Book Review | Cutting Teeth by Julia Fierro

Authour:cutteeth
Julia Fierro
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 319 pages
Publication date:
May 13th 2014
Publisher:
St. Martin’s Press
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
A group of parents are invited by one of their “friends” to spend the weekend at her parents’ beach house. This is how Julia Fierro’s Cutting Teeth begins as Nicole; an overly anxious mother invites the other members of the play group she is a part of to spend some time away from their regular lives. Nicole isn’t the only one with issues as we discover as each of the other member of the play group is introduced including a Tibetan nanny named Tenzin who has a rather unique and unusual view of the parents.

This book definitely wasn’t what I was expecting. Al though it has interesting takes on the different kinds of families and children that come from them in addition to the fact that it wasn’t afraid to expose the hard realities and real anxieties of modern parenting I had a difficult time getting into this book. I think this is probably because I will never be a parent so I couldn’t relate to some of the things the parents did, and instead it just made them less tolerable for me. However unlikable an d unbearable I found the characters, I did appreciate seeing chapters from their perspectives as it gave me more insight into why they are the kind of person and parent that they are. Though it in no way redeems them from any of the horrible things they do, it does make them more “human” in my eyes.

While Cutting Teeth is a fictional story, I think it does an incredible job of tackling aspects of parenthood that people would rather not talk about or may not consider like the dynamics in play groups which are like high school cliques. It gives one kind of behind the scenes look at parenting and how some parents may view their kids. I think the ending of the book has an important message in that sometimes you just have to move on from big, dramatic events mostly because you have no choice but sometimes because its what’s best for everyone.

If you like this book, you’ll love: We Are Water by Wally Lamb

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | The Sun and Other Stars by Brigid Pasulka

Authour:sunotherstars
Brigid Pasulka
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 329 pages
Publication date:
February 4th 2014
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis:

After losing his brother and mother within a year, twenty-two-year-old Etto finds himself adrift in his hometown, where every man’s life revolves around soccer, except for his. Frustrated and lonely, Etto is faced with the seemingly impossible prospect of cobbling together the remaining pieces of his life, including his mostly nonexistent relationship with his father, the town butcher.

Things begin to change for Etto when Yuri Fil, a scandal-ridden Ukrainian soccer star and his tough-love sister, Zhuki, arrive in town, and sweep him into their universe of soccer, celebrity, laughter, and fierce loyalty. Under their influence, Etto begins to reconstruct his relationship with his father and learns a few life lessons: that perhaps the game of soccer isn’t just a waste of time—and that San Benedetto, his father, love, and life itself might have more to offer him than he ever believed possible.

Review:

I grew up in a town that was and still is to some extent a town predominantly composed of Italians, so I am well aware of the importance of soccer in particular the World Cup. I remember when Italy won the World Cup in 2006 there were celebrations throughout the streets and yes it was really loud. Personally I’m not the biggest fan of soccer though I don’t mind watching it since most of my family loves to play and watch soccer.

Fortunately Brigid Pasulka’s The Sun and Other Stars is a story that can get even those who aren’t fans of soccer invested in a story where soccer plays a major role. Though the story of 22 year old Etto who has recently lost both his twin brother and his mother starts off slow partly because of all the Italian terms used, it does pick up to be a very good. I found that due to the age of the protagonist, this book had a feel that was somewhere between YA and Adult fiction though I wouldn’t call in “New Adult”. This is an “escape” novel at its best; filled with idyllic and at times not so perfect descriptions of a small costal Italian town the reader suddenly feels as if they’ve transported right into the very pages they’re reading there’s even a bit of romance to sweeten the deal. I for one felt more and more like I was both an outsider as well as a member of the community in the town of San Benedetto.

The Sun and Other Stars in addition to being a story about how the love of something can bring together an entire community is a story about family, love, loss, and friendship. It is a wonderful depiction of a father-son relationship which can be just as complicated as mother-daughter relationships and it is the story of a young man coming to terms with the loss in his life and moving on to appreciate what he has. Though the main character is a bit of a jerk throughout the book as well as a pushover at the start of the book, I loved seeing him grow over the course of the novel. I also loved how the story was told from a first narrator point of view as there are times where Etto breaks the fourth wall and it really does feel as if he’s talking to you directly.

Overall Pasulka has written a very beautiful and intimate novel that has the potential to make soccer appealing to those who aren’t fans of the sport before reading the book. I loved the ending of the The Sun and Other Stars because it doesn’t really feel like the end, instead it acknowledges the fact that the stories of these characters will go on just like life does.

If you like this book, you’ll love: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.