Midweek Mini Reviews #18

This Midweek Mini Reviews post features some more non-fiction books.

Love and…Bad Boys, “The One,” and Other Fun Ways to Sabotage Your Relationship by Jen Kim

Lately, it seems like I’ve been reading a ton of self-help books. To be honest, this is probably due to my interest in studying relationships which came about when I was a psychology major rather than a real interest in self-improvement. My latest read on relationships is by Jen Kim, writer of the Psychology Today’s column, “Valley Girl With a Brain”. Like her column, Love And…: Bad Boys, the “One” and Other Fun Ways to Sabotage Your Relationship is written in a way that is easily accessible and appealing to Millennials. Alongside the pop culture references, I liked that she refers to real research studies and theories on top of her personal experiences to back up what she is trying to say. Witty, sarcastic and extremely straightforward, Love And… will make you feel like you’re not alone in being single or being in a relationship where things aren’t 100% perfect. An empowering and somewhat enlightening read, pick this one up if you are one of those people who is frustrated by modern dating and/or are someone hoping to gain greater insight into why we behave the way we do in love and relationships.

30 Before 30 by Marina Shifrin

In case you don’t know her, Marina Shifrin is most known for the way she publicly quit her job on YouTube. This skyrocketed her to fame and ended up leading to many opportunities for her. In her memoir, 30 Before 30 Shifrin’s writings manages to be witty and relatable for the most part. In particular, I enjoyed her essay on how life is a vessel for you to fill with good stories in addition to the one where she talks about learning to dress for your shape and splurging on investment pieces. The section on life advice she’s gotten from doing stand-up was also an excellent read. Additionally, I loved the fun corresponding illustrations included in the book as they added to the entertainment value of the book. However, in the end this was only an okay read for me as there were several times where I just wanted a bit more. Furthermore, some of the essays just didn’t sit right with me as they were centered on goals that were inaccessible to the average millennial who aren’t given the same privilege as the writer this lead to her coming off as slightly obnoxious. Still, I think 30 Before 30 may be a book that would appeal to anyone but particularly Millennials who are looking for a bit of a “push” to go for their dreams or even to start their own bucket list with little goals or experiences they want to do.

 

 

 

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

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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.

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 | 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.