Book Review | The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams

Authour:
Beatriz Williams
Format:
eGalley
Publication date:
July 10th, 2018
Publisher:
William Morrow
Publisher Social Media: 
Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
Beatriz Williams’s The Summer Wives was one of the titles from the Buzz Books 2018: Young Adult Spring/Summer sampler that I was excited to read the rest of the book after finishing the excerpt. A tragic love story and a gripping mystery that is wrapped up in this family saga, The Summer Wives is the story of two women from two generations, one is a grown woman who faces consequences for her reckless choices as a youth and is forced to do whatever it takes to survive while the other is a young girl who grows up to be a movie star.

The writing is captivating, and the central protagonist Miranda is a well-developed character with a fascinating history, which made me want to get to know her more despite her being a slightly unlikable person. The story overall is also a compelling one filled with plenty of drama, secrecy and of course tragedy. There is so much tragedy that affects both the working class residents and the privileged families on the island, and it’s what makes The Summer Wives a story that completely consumes the reader, begging for their full attention in the worst yet maybe best possible way.

Other than Miranda, who truly is the star of the book, the other characters remain fairly flat and in the background. That being said, I did adore the sibling dynamic between Miranda and Hugh Jr even though they have just met for the first time. Their relationship has such a laid back and easy rapport which makes it a stark contrast to the majority of the other families and relationships on the island.

I went in to The Summer Wives expecting your typical historical fiction read with a side of romance and was definitely not ready for all the soap opera drama in the book. I would’ve preferred a happier ending for the characters in The Summer Wives, although I’ll admit the book ended in a fairly satisfying and realistic way. Even though I probably won’t be in any hurry to pick up another Beatriz Williams book, The Summer Wives is an acceptable novel to escape into for the summer and on the beach if you enjoy the historical family drama of the wealthy with a touch of darkness.

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

Advertisements

Book Review | Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ. Pearce

Authour:
AJ Pearce
Format:
eGalley
Publication date:
July 3th, 2018
Publisher:
Scribner
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
AJ Pearceit’s Dear Mrs. Bird is one of those warm-hearted British stories that has you easily to get swept up in the cozy feel of the book all while making you forget that at its core, it is still a war novel. These days, I’m less of the avid historical fiction reader than I used to be, however I was intrigued by the concept of advice columns during WWII enough to give Dear Mrs. Bird a chance.

Both sad and sweet, the heart of Dear Mrs. Bird truly lies with its protagonist, Emmy who is every bit the plucky, and likeable character that readers will find endearing and perhaps even relatable. I also adored Emmy and Bunty’s friendship as the two young women fully supported each other even when times were tough and they couldn’t be there for each other fully.

Unlike the majority of the historical novels I’ve previously read, Dear Mrs. Bird isn’t about an individual who is particularly remarkable or who finds themselves thrust into an unusual and/or extraordinary situation. Rather, Emmy is quite ordinary for a young woman of her age and era, which makes Dear Mrs. Bird stand out for it shows us that in a way even when there’s a war occurring, life still continues on as usual for the majority of the book.

A slow-paced read that can be enjoyed at leisure, little action or plot development takes place in Dear Mrs. Bird. Instead it felt like a realistic glimpse into the lives of regular people who are forced to continue on, business as usual despite the fact that there is a major war happening and that anyone could die at any moment. There are a few heartbreaking moments in this book, however I finished the book grinning. While far from my favourite read, Dear Mrs. Bird works as a heartwarming and comfortably, easy read.

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 Stop Time by Matt Haig

Authour:
Matt Haig
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
February 6th 2018
Publisher:
HarperAvenue
Publisher Social Media: Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
I had the pleasure of meeting Matt Haig two years ago at an event for his book, A Boy Called Christmas which I loved. It was at this event where I first heard about How to Stop Time which he was still working on at the time. The concept of a person not aging on the outside and slowly aging on the inside had me intrigued. However, I had completely forgotten about the book until earlier this year when I saw it on the Savvy Reader’s “Most Anticipated Reads of (Early) 2018” blog post.

The protagonist of How to Stop Time is a man named Tom Hazard, a man who suffers from a condition called “anageria” which makes him appear like he’s in his forties when he is actually over 400 years old. From the first page, Haig’s whimsical writing draws you in, as it feels as if Tom is speaking to you directly. I’m not usually a fan of science fiction, but somehow Haig makes the story work in a manner that was kept me turning the page as Tom’s story is one that would resonate with anyone who is human.

More than just another science fiction book about time, How to Stop Time is a story about love (both of a romantic and familial nature) and what it means to be human. As we follow Tom’s narrative both in the present time and in his past, we come to realize that at their core humans have both changed and remained the same. And that for a person who has been alive for so long, there truly is a difference is between just “existing” throughout time and choosing to live your life in the present.

Despite the pacing being a bit off at times, and the conclusion of the major threat in the book being anti-climactic I still found How to Stop Time to be a profound and remarkable read. And as the film rights for this book have been bought, I look forward to seeing how this incredible book will be translated onto the sliver screen.

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 #9


The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

If you follow my blog, you will know that I loved Alice Hoffman’s last book, Faithful. However, I was a bit reluctant to pick up her latest book The Rules of Magic as I never got into Practical Magic and wasn’t sure it would be my cup of tea. For those who are familiar with Practical Magic, you will recognize the world and a couple of the characters in The Rules of Magic. However, it’s not necessary to be familiar with Practical Magic as The Rules of Magic is a prequel and can definitely be enjoyed as a standalone. In The Rules of Magic we become acquainted with the characters of Franny, Violet and Jet who are all endowed with magical gifts. I especially loved that we see Franny and Jet grow up from little girls to old women. Getting to see their thoughts and motivations made me want to root for them even more and it was nice to see that the tragic Owens curse didn’t completely stop them all from love and happiness. Similar to her other books, Hoffman’s writing whisks you away to the world of the characters so that you feel as if you are right there beside them as they go through life. I’m glad I ended up picking up The Rules of Magic as I was able to discover yet another enchanting and magical book.

Basic Witches: How to Summon Success, Banish Drama, and Raise Hell with Your Coven by Jaya Saxena & Jess Zimmerman

The idea and history of witchcraft has always fascinated me enough so that it lead me to picking up Jaya Saxena and Jess Zimmerman’s Basic Witches: How to Summon Success, Banish Drama, and Raise Hell with Your Coven. With the exception of the various “spells” and “rituals” Basic Witches at its core reads like any other self-help book. Empowering and female positive, I adored the beautiful illustrations and the straightforward and non-judgemental voice of the book. And while I wasn’t all that into the “spells” I loved learning about the feminist history that surrounds most of the stereotypical witchcraft beliefs and practices. Additionally, the “spells” are relatively easy to do and some of them do seem fairly reasonable as well as practical. For instance, I truly enjoyed the information on smellomancy as well as the cooking magic suggestions as I definitely agree that warm milk and honey are perfect for when you want to relax. A fun, light-hearted and unique read that’s perfect for the modern young woman who needs a little extra “boost” in life.

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 | The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

teaAuthour:
Lisa See
Format:
ARC, 365 pages
Publication date:
March 21st 2017
Publisher:
Scribner
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
Although I’ve heard of Lisa See through her well-known book, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan which was also adapted into a film. However, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane serves as my introduction to her writing and perhaps given its setting it was fitting that I started reading it around the time of Lunar New Year this year.

Centering on the Akha ethnic-minority who live in the Chinese province of Yunnan, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane is a story about family, especially the complicated relationships between mother and daughter in addition to being a story about love, tragedy and of course tea, in this case Pu’er:Pu’erh tea.

What I loved about The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane was the gorgeous and poetic prose throughout the book. The first two parts of the book focus primarily on the protagonist, Li-Yan’s early life, difficulties and tragedies while the later parts introduce us to the daughter she gave up through various ways such as through the transcripts of a therapy group to emails, letters and reports. That being the case, I do wish Hayley’s story was given more space to be fleshed out as I truly adored her character and it’s rare to read the stories and experiences of Chinese children who are adopted by American parents.

For those who are familiar with Lisa See’s work, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane will undoubtedly prove to be an enjoyable addition to their reading repertoire. As for those who haven’t read anything by her or who haven’t heard of Lisa See before, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane makes for a decent introduction to her books.

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 #3

 The Art of Living Other People’s Lives: Stories, Confessions, and Memorable Mistakes by Greg Dybec

art

What I liked most about The Art of Living Other People’s Lives: Stories, Confessions, and Memorable Mistakes by Greg Dybec is just how relatable some of the essays in the collection are. They are also quite entertaining in a self-deprecating manner which leaves the reader with a lot of good quotes you can’t help but scribble down. Two of my favourite quotes from the book are “A great writer knows when not to fake being a expert” and “If anything breakups should be renamed breakdowns. That’s all they really are. Whatever drew two people together in the first place eventually breaks down,” these two were the most memorable for me because they are simple yet so true.

Of all the essays in the collection I particularly was fond of the collection’s titular essay because who here hasn’t at least once found themselves listening in onto the conversations of strangers around them? I also enjoyed “Life on the Other Side of the Internet” because it gives you a “glimpse” at what’s its actually like working for a major Internet site.

Overall if you enjoy reading Elite Daily articles (the authour is the managing editor of the site) you will probably like this book, but even for those who are millennials who are only vaguely familiar with the site (like myself) Dybec’s musings on life, family and relationships could definitely be appreciated as being relatable.

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

vicBefore reading Daisy Goodwin’s Victoria, I have to admit I knew very little about the history of Queen Victoria other than that she is (now) the monarch with the second longest reign (Queen Elizabeth II recently just surpassed her record). However, I am a fan of Daisy Goodwin and what she does when it comes to historical fiction so I was looking forward to Victoria.

In Victoria, Daisy Goodwin once again does what she does best in historical fiction and really whisks you away to the 1800s and into the life of a young royal who is coming of age and into her role as a country’s monarch. While naïve, it was difficult not to root for a young Victoria as she struggled to find her way into her new role against so many obstacles and barriers and with a whole lot of spunk. In the end, knowing what becomes of many of the characters from Victoria’s youth in real life made this book an incredibly bittersweet and emotional coming of age novel.

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