Book Review | If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha

Authour:
Frances Cha
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
April 21st, 2020
Publisher:
Ballantine Books
Source:
Received from publisher

Review:
Almost every person, has some kind of insecurity. For women more often than not it is tied to their physical appearance. This is what makes If I Had Your Face a compelling story as the characters live in a society that is not only patriarchal, but also unforgiving if you do not meet the almost impossible beauty standards and/or know the right people.

Frances Cha’s If I Had Your Face, follows four different women who are at different stages of their life despite being mostly around the same age. Of the four women, I initially thought the first narrator, Ara would be my favourite as she initially appeared sympathetic due to her being mute, however I quickly realized that she was both childish and selfish, which was not helped by the fact that she was also spoiled by everyone around her. This left her with few redeeming qualities. The other character I couldn’t connect with was Wonna as it just seem like she was never satisfied, although her somewhat tragic back story did move me a little to her side even if her actions remained baffling.

On the other hand Kyuri and Miho were better developed and more fleshed out than the other women. As a result, more of the book is devoted to showing how in spite of their struggles they persist and manage to work with what they had in order for them to make a life of their own. Interestingly enough the two of them appeared to be total opposites on the surface as Kyuri has had multiple plastic surgeries to be “beautiful” while Miho is considered a “natural” beauty in spite of being a bit of an enigma. And yet both Kyuri and Miho were incredibly aware of where they stood in society, and what they needed to do to carry out their goals. In fact, one of my favourite moments was witnessing Miho come to a certain realization about her boyfriend and instead of sinking into depression, she decides to take matters into her own hand and find a way to ensure she benefits from her circumstances.

The writing in If I Had Your Face is simple yet elegant, and all four of the women’s journeys were remarkable enough that I could have easily finished this book in one sitting. Even if you aren’t a woman living in Seoul, If I Had Your Face has several themes that would resonate with all women who are feeling the pressure from both their parents and society to adhere to a certain path.

If I Had Your Face was a captivating read for me despite knowing little about the culture in South Korea beforehand. Moreover, I enjoyed watching the somewhat messy sisterhood and kinship between the four incredibly different women as they struggled both at work and in their other relationships. While there is no guaranteed of a happy outcome for any of these characters, I felt satisfied in the end, knowing that there was hope for all the women especially if they continue to have each other’s backs.

 

 

 

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 | What We Were Promised by Lucy Tan

Authour:
Lucy Tan
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
July 10th, 2018
Publisher:
Little, Brown
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
A rag to riches tale, Lucy Tan’s What We Were Promised follows the Zhen family as they move from their hometown in rural China to the USA then back to China, only this time they’ve become part of the new wealthy class living in Shanghai, China.

The story follows the lives of Wei and Lina Zhen in addition to the woman who becomes their housekeeper, Sunny. While the focus is on the Zhens, there is enough of Sunny’s backstory to fully flesh out her character development. Each the characters’ stories are told by an omniscient narrator which lends itself well to the reader who is getting a glimpse behind the “doors” of one family among the many who live in the luxury apartments.

For a début novel, What We Were Promised has exquisite prose and stellar storytelling. Tan truly captivates the reader with her descriptions of China and the manner in which she weaves together all the characters’ lives, ensures that their past and present stay connected. The book is rich in detail which further allows the reader to escape into this often inaccessible world of the well-off in China.

I appreciated the fact that Wei was not made out to be a stereotypical, arrogant executive who has countless extramarital affairs. While he has his flaws just like the other characters, it was easy to sympathize with him being a regular man who worked his way up by being diligent and hustling. Meanwhile, Lina’s story gives us a behind the glamour and glitz look at the life of a Taitai aka rich housewife. It’s understandable that transitioning from working full-time to staying at home requires a bit of an adjustment and Lina’s boredom and restlessness is never sugar-coated. Still, in spite of Lina and Wei’s story being the central focus of What We Were Promised, it’s Sunny’s story that resonated with me the most. Unlike the majority of women her age, Sunny is single and makes her own money though she sends a chunk of it back home to her parents. I enjoyed seeing a female character who actually is satisfied with not remarrying and just being financially independent and free. Sunny’s story also provides the readers with a servant’s perspective of the Zhen family drama and life inside a luxury, fully serviced apartment.

What We Were Promised is a story about homecoming, complicated and messy family dynamics and the “Asian tax” meaning the obligations we feel towards our family when we’ve made something of ourselves. And just as the title suggests What We Were Promised is also about expectations both from the family and individual and how it’s all too easy to waste time dwelling in the past and what could have been instead of staying in the present and looking to the future.

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 | Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Authour:
Uzma Jalauddin
Format:
eGalley
Publication date:
June 12th, 2018
Publisher:
Harpercollins
Publisher Social Media: 
Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

“Because while it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single, Muslim man must be in want of a wife, there’s an even greater truth: To his Indian mother, his own inclinations were of secondary importance.”

So ends the first chapter of Uzma Jalaluddin’s début novel, Ayesha At Last. In case it wasn’t already obvious, Ayesha At Last is a modern-day retelling of Jane Austen’s beloved classic novel, Pride and Prejudice. As excellent of a retelling as it is, Ayesha’s story also stands on its own as both an own voices story and a Muslim romantic dramedy.

Despite its initial slow start, I found myself slowly drawn into Ayesha and Khalid’s world and social circle until I couldn’t put down the book. The characters feel like real people as they all struggle with relatable problems like workplace harassment, racism, finding the courage to follow your dreams and dealing with familial pressure when it comes to your career and love life.

I loved the relationships and friendships in this book. Ayesha and Claire’s friendship were truly heartwarming as was her relationship with her grandparents who more often than not stole the spotlight from the other characters in every scene they appeared in. I loved Nana and his habit of quoting relevant Shakespeare quotes and Nani with her investigatory talents and love of mysteries only surpassed by her love for her family especially her granddaughter Ayesha completely won me over. Furthermore, I appreciated that we get the story from both Ayesha’s and Khalid’s point of view as it helps us to understand who Khalid truly is and not judge him based on his appearance and his initial actions.

Notwithstanding the fact that I’m all for supporting diversity and own voices, stories in addition to local talent (Jalaluddin is from Toronto) Ayesha At Last is a well-written and well-paced novel that is one of my favourite takes on the Pride and Prejudice novel to date. It’s refreshing to read a novel that has a modern and realistic take on a romance between two individuals whose faith is important to them. Highly recommended for fans of Pride and Prejudice retellings and those who are interested in reading a romance from a unique cultural perspective.

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 Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

Authour:
Chloe Benjamin
Format:
Hardcover
Publication date:
January 9th 2018
Publisher:
G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

“If nothing else, Judaism had taught her to keep running, no matter who tried to hold her hostage. It had taught her to create her own opportunities, to turn rock into water and water into blood. It had taught her that such things were possible.” (p. 138)

What if you were told that there was someone who could tell you when you were going to die? Would you want to seek out this person to know? What would you do with this knowledge? These are questions that haunt the Gold children in Chloe Benjamin’s The Immortalists.

Divided into four parts for each of the Gold children, Daniel, Varya, Klara, and Simon. Thus readers are given a glimpse at each of their lives from the time they first encounter the mysterious gypsy woman who tells them when they are “destined” to die to the end of their life. The majority of the book is incredibly tragic and heartbreaking as we witness the downfall of each of the siblings one by one. And while none of the siblings are truly likable, they are written as if they were real people and this made it difficult not to sympathize with and mourn each of them even if they usually were the cause of their own undoing.

Often it’s been said that knowledge is power, however, in the case of the Gold siblings, it is shown that knowing when you’re going to die may not give you the sense of freedom that you think it may bring. Each of the siblings deals with this information in their own way, and none of them execute it in a healthy way. Instead, they trap themselves in “mental traps” of their own making. All four of them focus more on survival rather than actually “living” and this brings about consequences, not just to themselves but to those close to them. And in the end, the reader is left with the same question that is posed to Varya, which is more desirable? Living a longer life or a “better” life?

A beautifully written novel, The Immortalists is infused with an element of magic realism as one has to wonder if the mystical woman was truly psychic or if she was just a scammer similar to the rest of her family. Regardless, it just shows how fragile humans are and how susceptible and vulnerable children’s minds can be despite a brave front. And while I’ll be lying if I didn’t say that I was hoping for a more uplifting read, The Immortalists was still a well-written albeit at times a difficult read that I suppose deserves all the buzz it has received.

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 Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim Fu

Authour:
Kim Fu
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
February 13th 2018
Publisher:
Harpercollins
Publisher Social Media: 
Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
Based off of the synopsis and the marketing, Kim Fu’s The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore was an unexpected and surprising read for me. For instance, I was not expecting the book to be structured as five (one for each of the girls) self-contained short stories that made references to the traumatic incident at the camp they girls attended. Additionally, while each of the stories was well-written and engrossing I found them rather melancholy to the point of depressing in a few of the stories. 

Despite being told in a nonlinear manner, it was not too difficult to follow each of the girls’ stories. The story was refreshingly realistic in showing how the majority of the girls have no contact with each other after they leave the camp. To be fair, they were not best friends before the incident, but the incident truly did scatter them both physically and emotionally afterward. On the other hand, I appreciated the fact that at least Isabel and Dina kept in touch and remained connected as it’s tough to have gone through something as traumatic as the girls did without having anyone who can understand. This is evident in how despite appearing fine on the surface, a second look at how the other girls’ lives turned out will show that they still bear the mental scars from the incident.

From what I heard about The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore, I was kind of expecting there to be more to the camp ‘incident” in addition how the girls over the years cope with the trauma. Instead, readers only receive brief snippets of each of the girls’ lives. The result is that while readers see just how flawed each of the girls are, the time spent with each girl is too brief. Just as readers become invested in one girl, her story abruptly ends and the book moves onto the next girl. 

Despite not being the most satisfying read, The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore remains a quiet but emotionally powerful read that will probably stay with its readers indefinitely. 

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

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.

 

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.