Uncategorized

Book Review: City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

5 out of 5 Stars

Okay I did it. I gave this one all the love. It takes A LOT for me to give a 5. It has to have a significant impact on thoughts and create a connection. This is everything I could want in a book.

This story takes you on quite a journey. Vivian is a well-to-do young girl in the 40s trying to sort out who she is and where she belongs. She is writing a letter to Angela who has asked Vivian how she came to know her father. (I’m purposefully not telling you who Angela is). This sets the scene for the retelling of her rollercoaster adult life. After dropping out of college, Vivian is sent to live with her zany Aunt Peg (I also have an Aunt Peg).  Viv takes her seamstress talent to work at her aunt’s off beat theater. She quickly finds herself swept up in the fast and tawdry lifestyle of the years before WWII. Men, cocktails, late nights (early mornings), fancy clubs, you get the idea. In what may be the apex of the story and the turning point, her need to “be a part of” and her naivety leads her to make a decision that turns her life upside down.  Along the way we all have the privilege of meeting many interesting characters, with interesting stories that are unique for the time period. She goes on to tell the story of her adult life, of which she does find fulfillment. Angela gets to learn (perhaps more than she wanted) about how Vivian knew her father. I won’t spoil it because you will be wondering, “who is Angela’s father” for the majority of the book. And it is SO GOOD! I didn’t see it coming. This book throws you curveballs when you aren’t expecting them. And at times, the writing was funny, making you smile.

There is also a serious tone to this book. Dark and serious. We also get to feel the impact, and societal shift, that happens when the U.S. joined World War II. NYC would never be the same. Women went to work in professions that perhaps they had not in the past. Men (and some women) went to war. Some rushed to marry. Some never came home. And after the war ended, NYC was a different world.

At one point during the first half, I was like, okay, I get it move on. I was becoming “done” with hearing that arrogant accent of fancy Golden Age “The-a-tah” actors have been portrayed to possess. But yet it was vivid, dense, and delicious. Goodness the second half of this book I could NOT put down. I was highlighting so many introspectful quotes (29 total). I would read some lines and sit there pondering them. City of Girls is full of surprises and full of depth. I can see this book becoming a movie, and I truly hope it does.

 

Quotes that I loved:

-“A person only gets to move to New York City for the first time in her life once, Angela, and it’s a pretty big deal.”

-“But this is a city that gets born anew in the fresh eyes of every young person who arrives here for the first time. So that city, that place—newly created for my eyes only—will never exist again. It is preserved forever in my memory like an orchid trapped in a paperweight. That city will always be my perfect New York.”

-“This is what flirtation is in its purest form—a conversation held without words. Flirtation is a series of silent questions that one person asks another person with their eyes. And the answer to those questions is always the same word: Maybe.”

-“You must learn in life to take things more lightly, my dear. The world is always changing. Learn how to allow for it. Someone makes a promise, and then they break it. A play gets good notices, and then it folds. A marriage looks strong, and then they divorce. For a while there’s no war, and then there’s another war. If you get too upset about it all, you become a stupid, unhappy person—and where’s the good in that?”

-“When we are young, Angela, we may fall victim to the misconception that time will heal all wounds and that eventually everything will shake itself out. But as we get older, we learn this sad truth: some things can never be fixed. Some mistakes can never be put right—not by the passage of time, and not by our most fervent wishes, either. In my experience, this is the hardest lesson of them all.”

-“After a certain age, we are all walking around this world in bodies made of secrets and shame and sorrow and old, unhealed injuries. Our hearts grow sore and misshapen around all this pain—yet somehow, still, we carry on.”

-“When something ends, let it end.”

-“This is what I’ve found about life, as I’ve gotten older: you start to lose people, Angela. It’s not that there is ever a shortage of people—oh, heavens no. It is merely that—as the years pass—there comes to be a terrible shortage of your people. The ones you loved. The ones who knew the people that you both loved. The ones who know your whole history.”

[I lost it reading this last one. The flow of the text into this conversation and the raw truth of it.]

 

Book Review, Romance

Book Review: Meet Cute by Helena Hunting

3.5/5 Stars

Don’t let this cutsie soda shop cover fool you! I was expecting a fluffy, predictable romance read. From the beginning, I quickly learned that this assumption was very wrong. I’m not sure why the publisher or marketing team went with this cover because it evokes a feeling that is very different from the content of the story. Any how! This story of law school rivals had me glued for 2 days. I read it while drying my hair, cooking dinner, and in place of tuning in to the Bachelorette! Ha.

Daxton is, IMO, fashioned after Zack Morris from Saved by the Bell. He was a childhood star who Kailyn had as her teenage crush. We’re talking posters in her room and t-shirts. When she stumbles over him, literally, in law school, the rivalry began. After we meet this young characters we are transported to 5 years later where they once again meet. A horrible, sudden tragedy brings them together. Hunting brings us along for a journey of interesting interpersonal dynamics and weaves their story beautifully.

This book made it to my summer anticipated list. I enjoyed the story and makes for a nice read. It doesn’t evoke “summer” to me necessarily, but was entertaining and worth one-clicking. 🙂

Quotes I loved:

“Heartache is the worst affliction. It robs a person of rationality, of logic, of forethought and patience. It makes everything good painfully bright and magnifies the bad with an intensity that’s difficult to tolerate.”

“Appearance is half the battle in this world. Appear poised and successful, and people will believe you are. Visualize success.”

“I like cups with handles.” (because, me too)

 

 

Book Review, Romance

Book Review: The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms

4 Stars

After popping up on book recommendations, I decided to try this one. I really liked this book! I connected with many of the inner thoughts she presented. The writing was witty and moved along. Many references to familiar NYC locales that make it fun to read. Amy’s story is funny and entertaining yet pensive at the same time. Mom’s all over will relate to this one. Add it to your summer TBR!

**Moderate Spoilers**
Amy is a mother of two children and an estranged husband. When he returns after three years to connect with his children, offering to take them for the summer, Amy reluctantly agrees and sets off to have a summer to herself in NYC. She starts her trip with a librarian conference (it’s way more exciting that you’d think), meets lots of people, including the Hot Librarian, and gets a makeover.

In the end she rediscovers herself and learns that it’s healthy to take time away. The ending was a twist and ended with a happy resolution.

Here is a passage that I just loved:

“Like most good-looking things, my house is high maintenance. My house makes it so I never, ever have any extra money. If my house starts to notice I’ve been squirreling away a hundred dollars here or there to try to get my kids to a national park for a week, the house breaks something. I think it has abandonment issues.”

Book Review, Romance

Book Review: Hate Notes by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward

4 of 5 stars

Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward team up to bring us an enjoyable story of two people finding their soul mate.  The story moved along and didn’t drag you down with tedious transition details. The main characters have easy to like personalities that come through in the writing. I read this one in two days.

**Potential Spoilers**

Here is the set up. Charlotte recently went through a breakup and had to also leave her job. She brings her wedding dress to a second-hand store and leaves with another dress she couldn’t walk away from. Inside the dress is a blue note from a man to his bride to be. Charlotte embarks on a journey to find this man. And so the story unfolds. Reed is successful in the field of real estate. He recently went through his own break up and is adamant he will not enter into another relationship (you’ll have to read to find out why). After meeting Charlotte, this all changes.

You’ll enjoy this one!

Book Review, Paranormal, Romance, Uncategorized

Book Review Halfway to The Grave (Night Huntress #1) by Jeaniene Frost

 

night huntress5/5 Stars

If you’ve seen my Goodreads “read” shelf, you’ll notice I have an affinity for vampire romance. Why? Not exactly sure except they are usually action packed, and drag you into a different world for a while. Here are comments on my most recent find.

You had me at “Hallo, Kitten”! This book is so action-packed and there is no “good place to stop”. Very hard to put down! The plot moves along at just the right pace. I really liked the dialog and snarky comments from the characters. Shall I say it really sucks you in? 🙂 I couldn’t resist.

Quick summary: Cat is half human and half vampire. She has dedicated her life to hunting vampires (I won’t tell you how she became a half-breed, or why she hunts them, you’ll have to read to find out). The good stuff starts when she gets tangled with one captivating Master Vamp. Her adventures, private moments, and close calls keep this story moving. I never like to write too much about the plot of stories because isn’t that why we read, to see how it unfolds?  I know, this story may sound far-fetched, but this book will grab your attention.

I’m already through book 2 and started book 3. Will add a “roundup” post when i’m through with the series. I might have to read slow because I am really enjoying these books.

Book Review, Uncategorized

Review of The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

 

3.5 out of 5 stars.

I haven’t gotten choked up reading a book like I did with this one, in a long time. This book is unique in it’s approach to telling the story of Sabby and Tobias. So many great quotable phrases and passages that make you think and reflect. I connected a great deal to the characters and their experiences. Liked it a lot. I literally cried with tears down my face in two different places. This is why it gets the nearly 4 stars :).

[Mild Spoilers] Though throughout the book I found myself wondering if Serle will unveil that this story takes place in a dream, she does not. It seemed a little far fetched to have Sabby sit down to dinner with her deceased father and Audrey Hepburn, but I found it an entertaining escape. It quite honestly set the stage for an interesting way to tell the story of Sabby and Tobias’s relationship. 

 

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Books, Paranormal

Book Review of Time’s Convert

3 of 5 stars

I know, where have I been and why haven’t I posted a review in a while?  Here’s why!

I was lost in the highly anticipated follow up to the amazing All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. This book is 436 pages of somewhat dense text. Took me some time to get through! I follow Deborah on social media and the day earlier this year when she finished her book, she posted a picture of the pages all piled up with the caption “I like big books and I cannot lie”. Cracked me up.

So the All Souls Trilogy is very likely one of my top favorite reads of all time. I couldn’t wait to get back together with these characters and live in their world for a while. This book follows the story of Marcus. His story is cleverly woven into past true historical events (for example, he was there when the Liberty Bell cracked). Most of this story is in the past with a few chapters in the present. Throughout the story we get to experience what it is like to become a vampire as Marcus’ mate Phoebe decides to become immortal and spend the rest of time with him, “evermore”.

I gave this 3 stars, whereas the other books earn a 5 (I would give way more than that if it was a thing). For me it was not as exciting and action packed as the first three and at times but was nice to learn his backstory. I hope to see more of these great characters. For extra fun, A Discovery of Witches is now a TV show in England and will be coming to the US on Sundance Now. I’ll be subscribing 🙂

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