Book Review | Seven Letters from Paris by Samantha Verant

7letterAuthour:
Samantha Verant
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 258 pages
Publication date:
October 7th 2014
Publisher:
Sourcebooks
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
I love a good love story especially ones that involve travel of some kind, and it’s even better if the story is one that actually happened as there is a serious lack of epic love stories in my real life. (No offence intended to anyone I know who may be reading this)

What I loved regarding Seven Letters from Paris is that it is such a delightful story of romance, missed opportunities and second chances. It is a book that is fairly reminiscent to the YA novel, Just One Day by Gayle Forman which I adore with the exception that there are a few twists one of which is that the book is a memoir of the authour’s real life fairy tale romance. Seven Letters from Paris concerns a disillusioned woman who is nearing forty who is recently separated from her husband and broke. As she tries to figure out where she went wrong in her life, she comes across seven love letters written to her from a handsome French scientist whom she met and got to be acquainted with for only a day when she was nineteen. She subsequently decides to take a risk and attempt to find him, and the rest of the book details her adventures that come once the two reconnect.

Throughout it all the writing is simple and crisp, and the story was certainly engrossing. My favourite component of this book however was the fact that all seven of Jean-Luc’s (the French scientist) love letters were included in this book. It added a charming touch to the story especially given how significant of a role they played in the book. Occasionally the truth can be even better and more interesting than fiction, and this book was an example of this.

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 | The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce

Authour:queenie
Rachel Joyce
Format:
Hardcover, 343 pages
Publication date:
October 21th 2014
Publisher:
Doubleday Canada
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

“It is a hard thing, as I said, this learning to love. But it is an even harder thing, I think, to learn to be ordinary.” (p. 205)

Back in 2012, a book by the name of The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce came out and started making waves. The book told a fictional story of a recently retired man who receives a letter from an old acquaintance who tells him that she is dying. He then proceeds to embark on a journey to visit her, travelling by feet from a distance that you generally would not walk. The book while it had an interesting concept did not truly resonate with me though I did find it a compelling read. However when I discovered that there would be a companion novel featuring Queenie, the old acquaintance that Harold had set out to visit I knew that I would very much take pleasure in hearing her story and I was right.

Like Harold’s story, the story of Miss Queenie Hennessy was not always a joyful one either. We learn with reference to her complicated relationship with her parent in addition to who she was before she came to work at the brewery with Harold. however perhaps most surprising of all was the friendship of sorts that developed between her and Harold’s son, David. In Harold’s story we do not see much of David, and from what we do get glimpse of, he seems to be an exceedingly selfish, spoiled and ungrateful person. However in Queenie’s story we witness a different side to him, one that shows him as a troubled and lonely individual. He ends up being a more sympathetic character in that he is portrayed as being extremely flawed although he does have a bit of a softer side too. Unlike everybody else in his life, Queenie is able to see past his façade and in her attempts to assist him, she gets further involved with Harold’s life and does something she later regrets and blames herself for its result.

Queenie herself is truly a fascinating character, and she was easier to relate to and sympathize with than Harold even though both are incredibly flawed people. I enjoyed following her tale as she left her workplace and Harold and came to find and create her own home and garden in a place by the sea. And I enjoyed reading about the conversations and behaviours of the cast of characters that she encounters at the hospice she ends up in. Accordingly while I was well aware of what happens to her in the conclusion, I felt that having read The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry before The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy did not ruin the book for me. Instead it just further enriched my reading experience of the book.

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy is both an uplifting and heartbreaking read, and it was made even extra emotional in part due to the epilogue in the final pages of the book. Rachel Joyce is an exceptionally talented storyteller and writer, and she does a flawless job in this book of showcasing Queenie’s own personal journey. As Sister Mary in the book tells Queenie, “People think you have to walk to go on a journey. But you don’t you see. You can lie in bed and make a journey too.” She couldn’t be more right, thank you Rachel Joyce for allowing me to come along on Queenie’s ordinary yet extraordinary journey.

If you like this book, you’ll love: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

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 | Trust Me, I’m Lying by Mary Elizabeth Summer

Mystery Mondays

Mystery Mondays is a sometimes weekly, sometimes biweekly and sometimes monthly 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.

Authour: trustme
Mary Elizabeth Summer
Format:
Hardcover, 328 pages
Publication date:
October 14th 2014
Publisher:
Delacorte Press
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

“I can’t say I have much personal experience with conscience. I wasn’t born with that particular cricket on my shoulder.”

These are the first two sentences that we hear from the narrator and protagonist, of Mary Elizabeth Summer’s Trust Me, I’m Lying. They are also the reason why I love Julep’s character. Okay she is extremely reckless and can be quite insensitive, not to mention the fact that it was a bit cliché that she too wasn’t immune to teenage hormones and falling for the hottest guy in school. Still, I loved how she for the majority, Julep remains a total badass and is unapologetic with reference to what she does to help herself survive and to assist the people that she cares about.

The central plot in this book follows Julep, a teenaged con artist who lives with her dad who also happens to be a con artist. One day she comes home from school to find her apartment turned upside down and her gone. The rest of the book has her working with her best friend, and partner in crime Sam along with a few other unlikely characters who all lend a hand her in their own unique ways to find out what essentially happened. The story was in reality much darker than I thought it would be, however I was okay with it. I enjoyed the conspiracy elements, and I appreciated how it was shown that Julep, although she is an extremely skilled and intelligent is still just a teenage girl. And despite being an excellent con artist she’s not invincible or immune to getting hurt (both physically and mentally), and suffering from the consequences of her actions. Additionally it’s pleasing that she slowly learns to trust and depend on more people other than her dad and her best friend. Also while there is a love triangle of sorts in this book, I was pleased that it was not predominant in the book as I kind of like it when the focus is not on the romance in thriller and mystery novels.

Overall, Trust Me, I’m Lying is an remarkable debut novel in addition to being a high stakes, and incredibly thrilling novel. Furthermore, while I was satisfied with where Trust Me, I’m Lying left Julep in the conclusion, I wouldn’t object to additional books following her adventures as I feel as if there are still numerous things I would enjoy seeing happen on top of that, I wouldn’t mind getting the answers to various intriguing questions that were left unanswered such as what happened to her mother? Let’s hope that this book will become a series as I’m not yet ready to say goodbye to Julep just yet

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

Blog Tour | Kiss Kill Vanish by Jessica Martinez Book Review

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Authour:kisskill
Jessica Martinez
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 422 pages
Publication date:
October 7th 2014
Publisher:
Katherine Tegen Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
Kiss Kill Vanish by Jessica Martinez was actually one of my most anticipated fall releases so I was ecstatic to be a part of the blog tour for this book. After all a story concerning a girl on the run from her father and boyfriend after witnessing them kill a man sounded just so thrilling. Unfortunately the execution of the story was not as exciting as I had expected as the first half of the book was slow to start.

In spite of that, there were a few things that I liked when it came to this book. First I loved the fact that much of the story takes place in Montreal. It’s always appealing when a Canadian city is the key or one of the major settings in a book. Another thing that I thought the authour did an excellent job of was capturing the emotions and confusion of a teenage girl who has to come to terms with several harsh realities with incredibly no warnings. I suppose it was fitting for Valentina to be as impulsive as she was given her situation, her age and her relatively privileged and sheltered life. Still she managed to be quite resourceful (with a little help) and I liked the scenes where we can observe her struggling to reclaim her own identity and independence.

That being said, I also found her to be at times extremely naïve for a person who was supposed to be on the run. She gave up her identity quite easily when she re-encounters one of the two people she’s been running from her former life. In addition, I did not perceive the appeal of the two guys in her life. Her boyfriend, Emilio was emotionally manipulative and the new guy, Marcel was a jerk though he does slightly improve after a certain event in the book. Nevertheless I thought that Valentina could do so much better than the choices she was given. In the conclusion however, I liked the place where Martinez leaves the character of Valentina. Overall, Kiss Kill Vanish was a decent book that had an extremely promising concept; unfortunately however, for the most part it left me feeling a little bit disappointed.

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 | Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis

Authour:stitch
R.C. Lewis
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 328 pages
Publication date:
October 14th 2014
Publisher:
Disney-Hyperion
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
These days there is an endless amount of fairy tale retellings in the young adult fiction genre. For almost every myth, fairy tale and even classic novel, there is at one YA retelling for it. In this case, R.C. Lewis is a futuristic, science fiction retelling of the story of Snow White. The story starts of which an extremely exciting introduction to our protagonist, Essie. Essie is a girl living on a mining settlement on the planet of Thanda, to earn a living for herself, she engages in paid fights with various of the other miners. One of my favourite things with reference to this book was how brawny Essie was in addition to her stubborn streak and her independent nature. As we get to learn additional information regarding her past and how she came to live in the settlement, and follow her as she decides to seize control of her life it only makes me adore her even greater. I also love the drones who were her first friends as they were just adorable.

One of the things that Stitching Snow does well is the world building in this book. I love how the elements of the Snow White fairy tale were woven into the world and mythology of Stitching Snow. The conflicts were intriguing and the background of Windsong and Candara and their connection to Essie was handled in an excellent manner. That being understood there was one thing that I was not a fan of in this book, and that was the romance that develops. I supposed that it’s for the reason that the whole thing resembled insta-love and even though they don’t act on their “feelings” until later in the book, I just could not fathom the attraction that Essie felt for Dane. Sure they had a few cute moments however overall it felt like it was done since it was convenient and assisted with the resolution in the book. Fortunately the romance was not a major factor in this book and we get to witness more of Essie taking charge to get things done and rescuing herself and others rather than another story with a damsel in distress.

Stitching Snow is a solid, quick paced, adventure filled read. And while I did enjoy it, I was not obsessed with it probably because I had read the Lunar Chronicles books by Marissa Meyer way before reading Stitching Snow which made it hard for me not to compare the two. Still if you are fond of YA fairy tale retellings, then you should give this book a try.

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

Early Book Review | My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins

Authour:truelove
Various
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 323 pages
Publication date:
COMES OUT October 14th 2014!!
Publisher:
St. Martin’s Griffin
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
Laugh all you want, however I love the winter holidays especially Christmas. Sure my family isn’t extremely religious or anything save for the fact that we still get together to eat delicious food and exchange gifts. And yes, it may be naïve nevertheless I honestly want to believe that what Christmas is a truly magical time when miracles can and do happen. This as long with the fact that I’m a hopeless romantic are the reasons why I adored the holiday anthology, My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories.

Imagine several of your favourite YA contemporary authours in one collection, this is what you get in My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories a collection of short stories edited by best selling YA writer, Stephanie Perkins. I love Jenny Han and Gayle Forman, both of whom I had the pleasure of meeting in person and this anthology just made me fall in love with their writing even more if that’s even possible. In addition, I got to rediscover Rainbow Rowell and Stephanie Perkin’s, and while I’m not generally an enormous fan of their books, I simply adored their contributions in this collection. Rainbow Rowell’s story, in fact starts of this collection; it had a Landline (her recent book) type of feel to it though the characters were definitely younger. I loved the adorable meet cute between the characters Mags and Noel and the story and their relationship without a doubt made me swoon just a little. Also the story by Stephanie Perkins in this book was incredibly sweet and I am extra obsessed with it for the reason that there is a Charlie Brown reference that is made in the story.

In the conclusion, however what won me over was the fact that I got to discover numerous YA writers for the first time. Matt de la Pena, Ally Carter, and Myra McEntire also contributed well written stories to this collection and I’m glad that I got a glimpse at what they’re capable of. Additionally, I was impressed by the fact that the stories kept getting better and better with two minor exceptions and I loved devouring the stories even though I did attempt to savour it. So if you desire or even if you do believe in love, magic, and miracles during the holiday you need to read My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories.

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 Perfectionists by Sara Shepard

Mystery Mondays

Mystery Mondays is a sometimes weekly, sometimes biweekly and sometimes monthly 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.

Authour: theperfects
Sara Shepard
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 325 pages
Publication date:
Comes out October 7th 2014
Publisher:
HarperCollins
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
On the whole when people hear the name Sara Shepard, the first thing that may come to mind is the TV and book series, Pretty Little Liars. And to be honest her latest series, The Perfectionist is incredibly reminiscent of Pretty Little Liars. This does not mean it was not enjoyable, although rather if you are a fan of Pretty Little Liars then this book would definitely appeal to you, and if you aren’t well then this book has several differences from the Pretty Little Liars series.

The Perfectionist is the first of a projected two books that takes place in Beacon Heights, Washington. Here there is an enormous pressure to always appear on top and maintain a flawless image, especially at the high school the central characters attend. The story revolves around five different girls; Ava, Caitlin, Mackenzie, Julie, and Parker, who all have a vendetta against Nolan Hotchkiss, a popular, womanizing student who as we learn has several psychopathic tendencies. He has also damaged each of the girls in a number of way which leads to all of them holding a grudge against him. However that’s not where the story starts. The story in reality begins with a prologue that occurs at a party where Nolan is found dead at his own party; though originally it was deemed as a drug overdose it is later discovered he was found murdered in a manner that is eerily similar to how the five girls had plotted to kill him. The rest of the novel follows each of the five girls and we are given both a glimpse of their home life in addition to the flashbacks as to hat Nolan did to them. As a result the mystery element was not as predominant in this book, nevertheless since it is only the first book in a recent series it is completely understandable.

Truth be told, I truly liked that the mystery element was only one element of the story as I felt that getting to observe how each of the girls are making them more likeable. For instance, though I’m not a fan of cheating, I found myself rooting for Caitlyn and Jeremy and I adored the friendship between Parker and Julie who were both extremely protective and supportive of each other. However in spite of those examples, there countless other examples of horrible relationships and disgusting characters in this book. From truly awful parents and stepparents to “friends” who would stab them in the back to achieve their goals, even if it means resorting to psychological warfare of sorts. It was extremely disheartening although not surprising to read about how awful everybody outside of the five girls was to each other.

Overall The Perfectionists was a compelling, quick and remarkably addictive if somewhat twisted read. And while there are currently two books planned, I feel it may drag on although I hope not as I despise tremendously long series and it would be extremely unfortunate if it were to drag on for years akin to Pretty Little Liars since it has the potential to be excellent at the moment. Needless to say I am looking forward to the sequel, and I would not be surprised if there was some twist involving Nolan’s death and that pinning his murder of the girls is some sort of sick plan, but who knows? We’ll just have to wait and see.

If you like this book, you’ll love: No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale

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