Book Review | Christmas on Primrose Hill by Karen Swan

christmasprimroseAuthour:
Karen Swan
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 463 pages
Publication date:
November 13th 2015
Publisher:
Atria Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
The holidays remain one of my favourite times of the year, thus it’s only fitting that I’m always in search of an excellent holiday themed read. Karen Swan’s Christmas on Primrose Hill was one of those books that I truly wanted to fall in love with however it wasn’t meant to be I guess.

Christmas on Primrose Hill introduces us to Nettie Watson who by becomes an online sensation after her unexpected and humiliating fall is caught on air. As a result, she also catches the interest and ­­­­attention of Jamie Westlake, an extremely musician. The premise makes for a book that has several amusing hijinks as Nettie tries to hide her identity as the “Blue Bunny Girl” from the public. Additionally, I appreciated the community feel of the book especially the moment where the residents of Primrose Hill gather to show Nettie and her father their support and that they are thinking of them and their family. It was an incredibly heartwarming moment that captures the true spirit of the holidays.

Unfortunately, that remained one of the only elements that I enjoyed about this book. Other aspects of the book that I didn’t appreciate was how particularly near the beginning it felt that Nettie was constantly being forced to act in a manner that she wasn’t comfortable in public and by the people who were supposed to be her friends. In fact for the majority of the book it appeared that only Dan and her father were truly on her side and cared about what was best for her. (Although her best friend, “Jill” also come through in the end) And while the end result was a mostly happy conclusion for all, considering the situations that Nettie found herself in it could’ve gone extremely wrong at any point in time and she could have been in serious trouble. Another thing I wasn’t fond of was the relationship between Nettie and Jamie. It had extremely superficial roots and while there were a couple of sweet moments between the two of them, I find it difficult to believe that they could last. Although I’ll admit that I’m probably biased as in the finale I don’t think Jamie fully redeemed himself after the way he treated Nettie over a misunderstanding. He went a bit too far and hurt an already emotionally wounded Nettie. And even though he did provide an explanation for his actions, I felt that his reaction was disproportionate retribution to the situation.

Overall I felt Christmas on Primrose Hill attempted to tell several stories at once in one book which resulted in a novel that felt too long and often dragged at times. Furthermore I thought the book concluded in a manner that was a bit abrupt and unsatisfactory however the conclusion made sense for the type of story it was. Therefore while I’m unsure as to whether I’d recommend this particular book to others, the author herself has written numerous other books and perhaps it stands that this one title that wasn’t to my preference.

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 Wild One by Gemma Burgess

wildoneAuthour:
Gemma Burgess
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 292 pages
Publication date:
November 10th 2015
Publisher:
Atria Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
Once again, Gemma Burgess made me connect with a character that I didn’t think I’d have plenty in common with. The title, The Wild One threw me for a loop since I was expecting a completely different story than what I read. Fortunately, The Wild One turned out to be an incredibly sweet story about figuring out what brings you joy in life and going for it.

Anyways, while Coco is the protagonist of The Wild One, we also get updates on how the other girls like Pia and Angie are doing as they all still live together. Having enjoyed Angie’s story in Love and Chaos I’m glad to learn that she’s doing well and is in high spirits. Additionally, while I wasn’t a fan of Pia and her boyfriend Aidan in the previous books, The Wild One endeared me to their relationship. However, my favorite aspect of the Brooklyn Girls series is the group dynamics between the five girls is truly heartwarming and I love how they grow together and learn to support each other while still occasionally getting into disagreements with one another.

As mentioned before from the other books, I didn’t think I’d have much in common with Coco therefore I was surprised to learn that we share a love of books and reading. On the other hand, I found I had less in common with her older sister Julia than I had initially thought. Although similar to her, I do have a slight tendency to be judgmental of others.

Given how much I love this series, I truly hope there will be more books in the series and that this isn’t the last book as I desperately need a book that focuses on Julia and how she moves on from the events of The Wild One. Though regardless of whether or not, there’s another book, The Wild One is a fantastic addition to the Brooklyn Girls series and it’s definitely a book I’d recommend particularly for those in their early 20’s who are setting into their adult lives without a “solid” life plan.

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

Mystery Monday | Even Dogs in the Wild (Inspector Rebus #20) by Ian Rankin

Mystery Mondays

Mystery Mondays is an occasional review feature here on Words of Mystery that showcases books in the mystery (and on occasion thriller) genre that we are currently reading and our thoughts on them. Feel free to comment and leave suggestions as to what we should read and review next.

Who is it by? Ian Rankin, is an internationally bestselling Scottish authour known for his Inspector Rebus and Detective Malcolm Fox novels. He currently lives in Edinburgh with his family.

What is it about? Once again Rebus is retired, but he finds himself brought back in the game (sort of) as a consultant, when his old acquaintance Big Ger Cafferty is attacked. At the same time Detective Siobhan Clarke and DI Malcolm Fox are investigating the death of a senior lawyer. As the investigations on both cases continue, it appears that the two cases may be more closely linked than it first appears.

evendogs

Where does it take place? Like most other Rebus novels, Even Dogs in the Wild is set mostly in Edinburgh though as with most cases there is travel to other areas nearby for investigation purposes.

Why did I like it? One of the most fascinating elements of the Rebus novels is the complicated relationship/friendship between Rebus and Big Ger Cafferty, a gangster who ran the underground world in Edinburgh. Even now with Rebus retired and Cafferty not as in the “game” as he was before, the two still have a deeply intriguing relationship which is explored further in this novel when Cafferty’s life is threatened. Another interesting theme that is woven through the novel are the various familial or familial-like relationships. It’s nice seeing Rebus look out for Siobhan even if she can take care of things herself. And Ian Rankin does an excellent job of exploring the numerous layers and complicated dynamics of the various father-son (or daughter) relationships in the book.

All and all, I loved how the book is gritty yet it still manages to keep things light on occasion with things such as a running gag of Rebus trying to find a home for the stray dog that follows him. It’s hilarious reading the scenes where he literally tries passing it on to everybody he meets in a majorly obvious manner while also reading about a dark case that involves a great deal of cover up and corruption. Thus, while Even Dogs in the Wild starts of slow, it eventually builds up to an intriguing case where once again the line between good and bad aren’t clearly drawn.

When is it out? November 5, 2015

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 Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende

JPloveAuthour:
Isabel Allende
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 322 pages
Publication date:
November 3rd 2015
Publisher:
Atria Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
As this was my first Isabel Allende novel, I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, the synopsis of The Japanese Lover made me somewhat inclined to pick it up as I love an excellent love story and I do enjoy reading historical fiction. What I ended up with mixed feelings regarding the book as a whole.

At the beginning, The Japanese Lover drew me into the story. I loved the setting, and felt connected to Irina. Yet after the first chapter, the book took an unexpected turn and the book sort of became weird after that. Overall, I felt that the story jumped around a great deal, which apparently is common in the authour’s other novels. One disadvantage of this was that we don’t truly become acquainted with Irina or witness much of her relationship with Seth. To be honest, I didn’t buy their relationship as it appeared to be extremely one-sided relationship in my opinion. On the other hand, I did enjoy Alma’s back story in addition to the love story of her and Ichimei which had several incredibly sweet moments. And those flashbacks were probably what drew me back to the book time and time again, as I loved seeing Alma’s journey and how she grew into the person she is in the present day. Against the story of Alma and her complicated relationship with her wealthy relatives, it was also fascinating to glimpse a bit of what life inside a Japanese internment camp was like, and how under such harsh and trying circumstance the people you wouldn’t expect are the ones who are able to rise up and become stronger individuals.

In the last part, while Alma’s story does receive some measure of closure, everything else is left unresolved as the ending of the book was rather abrupt. Nevertheless, the second half of the book was still definitely an improvement over than the majority of the first half. And while I did enjoy the historical aspect of The Japanese Lover and its exploration of class, culture and discrimination in addition as the various touching and heartwarming moments sprinkled throughout the book, the shaky pacing and timing on top of the rough transitions between present day events and the past led me to not enjoy this book as much as I thought I would.

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

Mystery Monday | The Crossing (Harry Bosch #20) by Michael Connelly

Mystery Mondays

Mystery Mondays is an occasional review feature here on Words of Mystery that showcases books in the mystery (and on occasion thriller) genre that we are currently reading and our thoughts on them. Feel free to comment and leave suggestions as to what we should read and review next.

Who is it by? Michael Connelly has written around 27 books, and he is best known for his known for Bosch and Haller series. Before becoming a best-selling crime writer, he was formerly a newspaper reporter. Currently he serves as an executive producer of the Bosch TV series which is based on the books and is produced by Amazon.

What is it about? Recently forced into an early retirement Bosch is enlisted by half brother, Mickey Haller to assist him with a case. Though uneasy about working for the “other side”, after doing some investigating and research on his own he finds that there may be some truth in Haller’s claims and that the man Haller is working for may actually be innocent after all. And if that’s the case, then Bosch won’t rest until he finds the real killer no matter what he has to do.

crossing

Where does it take place? Mostly in LA near Hollywood.

Why did I like it? The Crossing is probably my most favourite Connelly book so far. It caught my attention from the start and my excitement over the synopsis was definitely warranted in this case. I loved getting to see the two brothers work together as they normally would be on opposing sides, and even if it’s not their first time working as a team it was still awesome to read.

I found it fascinating to witness Bosch’s internal struggle as he is so used to old way of life that the current situation he finds himself is incredibly challenging for him. Additionally, it was nice to see how he was able to slowly make peace with what he’s doing, and even if he showed no interest in continuing this line of work part of me hopes he will change his mind as he and Haller make a great team. Overall the case in this book was an intriguing one and there were definitely few twists that threw me for a second, and I adored every minute of it.

When is it out? November 3, 2015

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