Book Review | This Is Really Happening by Erin Chack


Authour:

Erin Chack
Format:
ARC, 229 pages
Publication date:
April 25th 2017
Publisher:
Razorbill
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
2017 seems to be the year of new books from the writers and editors of major social media websites similar to Popsugar, Elite Daily and of course Buzzfeed. This is Really Happening follows this pattern, as it is a collection of personal essays and stories from Erin Chack who is a senior writer at Buzzfeed.

This is Really Happening is another title that I read an excerpt of in 2016, and after reading that preview I knew I needed to read the rest! And fortunately for me, I was able to snag an ARC of it. The book itself truly does read as if you were having a conversation and catching up with an old friend. Erin Chack’s writing is straight forward, relatable, and poignant with just the right amount of humour to save things from getting too heavy and dark. This is especially true as she dives right into the serious topics and discusses her diagnosis with cancer and the reality of learning that you have cancer from the start.

Some of my favourite essays in this book were, “Don’t Read the Comments” about what it’s truly like to have writing as your day job while giving us a glimpse at the behind the scenes at Buzzfeed and what happens when a post you write goes viral. I also enjoyed “Find your Carrot” where Erin shares in an honest and frank manner what’s it actually like to date a person for over a decade and how you grow and change together through the different personas you both inhabit through the years.

Compared to the majority of other memoirs from hilarious women, This is Really Happening is definitely one that would appeal more to the YA audience. However even if YA isn’t quite your jam, it is still worth it to pick up This is Really Happening as it’s an unflinchingly honest, quick and fairly lighthearted read into what life can be like for a millennial which in itself is quite entertaining.

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.

Book Review | How to Make a French Family: A Memoir of Love, Food, and Faux Pas by Samantha Verant

frenchfamAuthour:
Samantha Verant
Format:
e-Galley
Publication date:
April 1st 2017
Publisher:
Sourcebooks
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
What happens after you reunite with the Frenchman you fell in love with 20 years ago, and the two of you marry in a romantic, fairy tale California wedding? In Samantha Vérant’s How to Make a French Family we learn what happens after she marries the love of her life and moves to southwestern France to live with him and his two young children.

What I love with regards to How to Make a French Family is that Vérant doesn’t sugarcoat things concerning the various difficulties she has initially with adjusting to life in a foreign country in addition to her role as a step-mother. She faces resistance, isolation loneliness and the occasional humiliation (due to the odd unintentional language faux pas) and yet gradually she learns to adjust to her new life in France all while making a couple of new friends too. Through it all, Vérant draws you into her world with her gorgeous prose and teleports you along her in moments of both sadness and joy.

What’s also interesting in this book is that the author tells us the story of how her first memoir, Seven Letters from Paris came to be. For those who are interested in publishing, it’s an interesting glimpse at one way of how a book can come about. And for those of you who haven’t read Seven Letters from Paris I highly recommend that you pick it up. In fact, before starting How to Make a French Family I picked up Seven Letters from Paris again and it remained just as excellent of a read as I remember.

In Seven Letters from Paris, my favourite parts were of Samantha and Jean-Luc interacting with each other and rekindling their romance from when they were young. However, in How to Make a French Family I adored reading the moments where she interact with her stepchildren and how she forms a bond with them. This is especially heartwarming given the children’s volatile and mistrustful relationship with their last stepmother.

As a person who loves travel and food, this book was a pleasure to read. Food plays a major role in How to Make a French Family and Vérant provides readers with recipes of dishes that she or her family members/friends have made that were mentioned in the book. Once again, Vérant has written another gem that has you cheering her on as she tackles her challenge of “how to make a French family”.

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 Last Days at Café Leila by Donia Bijan


cafeAuthour:

Donia Bijan
Format:
ARC, 289 pages
Publication date:
April 18th 2017
Publisher:
Algonquin Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
I’m a huge foodie, which was why Donia Bijan’s The Last Days of Café Leila  appealed to me. That, plus the cover is gorgeous!

Set in a post-revolutionary Iran in the city of Tehran, The Last Days of Café is a story that is told across time and through three generations of a family through the use of flashbacks and character recollections with the titular cafe being the one stable presence throughout. We follow Noor as she returns to Iran to her ailing father and his failing cafe after being gone for so long after being sent to the USA by her father for her “protection”. As a result of her return, the reader starts to learn more about her family’s tragic past, and the difficult decisions that her father Zod, was required to make.

The prose throughout this book was incredibly beautiful, as evident from the descriptions of Iran and all the food that was being prepared. The authour’s background in the culinary arts have truly shone in this book, as all the food description made my mouth water. On top of that, the book made me wish that there was an actual Café Lelia that I could visit as I would love to visit Iran if such a place as Café Lelia existed there.

Another thing I enjoyed about this book was just how powerful it was. I love the fact that it was a story of a family falling apart and eventually coming together in addition to being a story of great loss (and perhaps greater love, and not just the romantic type). My heart truly broke as I read about what actually happened to Noor’s mother, and how Zod had kept the truth to himself for all these years in order to protect his children.

A poignant and emotionally powerful tale, The Last Days of Café Leila is a book that compelled me to stop and appreciate the family I have. It also taught me so much about the immigrant and the student experience in the USA, as well as the history of Iran and how its history shaped it into the country it is today. Definitely recommended for those who enjoy rich family sagas and books that feature food.

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