I should probably start out this review by admitting that I am a hardcore Austen groupie, so any conclusions I may make about this book are bound to b...moreI should probably start out this review by admitting that I am a hardcore Austen groupie, so any conclusions I may make about this book are bound to be heavily biased! For one of my fourth year classes at university I even took a lecture devoted to Austen's six novels, which was taught by my all time favourite professor and Jane Austen expert Dr. Seeber! Needless to say I am about as obsessed with Austen as the main character of this book!
Shannon Hale's Austenland was humorous, lighthearted fun which pulled me in right from page one! I found it impossible to tear myself away, reading it well into the night so that I could find out what happened in the end. I loved how Hale not only drew upon the plots of many of Austen's novels, but also clashed them together with aspects of modern society. At many times it even seemed as if she was poking fun at Jane Austen herself, which I found highly amusing!
While Shannon Hale may have used aspects of Austen to inspire her work, I felt like the plot itself was very original. I feel like every women who has ever read Austen's novels or watched the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice would secretly wish for a getaway like the one described in Austenland. The ending especially caught me off guard, with a delicious twist that I did not see coming at all! I almost wish that Shannon Hale had written more than the 208 pages that this book provides because I was sad to see this adventure with Jane come to an end. So would I recommend reading this book? Most definitely! Those familiar with Austen's works and life will absolutely adore this comical, charming, and spellbinding tale of a woman simply searching for the Mr. Darcy in her life. (less)
I happened to come across this book at my university's annual used book sale a few weeks ago, and I couldn't resist the magical description of the plo...moreI happened to come across this book at my university's annual used book sale a few weeks ago, and I couldn't resist the magical description of the plot! Sarah Addison Allen's novel, Garden Spells, definitely lived up to its description as a bewitching read, for I soon became highly engrossed by the whimsical characters and enchanting storyline. In many ways this novel really reminded me of Practical Magic, as it focused on the lives of two sisters with magical abilities, who struggle to accept their powers and become accepted members of their community.
What I really enjoyed about this book was the fact that Allen did not just create a pair of magical sisters, but an entire town with various unique abilities. For example, the girls in one family are always destined to marry wealthy men, and the men in another family are predestined to always end up marrying an older woman. This use of family myth and fate allowed for a slew of quirky and fascinating characters with intricate backgrounds and personalities.
While I quickly devoured Garden Spells over a couple of days, I was nevertheless somewhat disappointed by the ending. The novel seemed to wrap up way too quickly for my liking, and I was left wanting more. For example, although the love plots were developing really well throughout the story, any complications were immediately eliminated to make room for a happy ending. Despite the ending, Garden Spells is still a fun, magical read to be swept away in!(less)
I read the first three novels in Nora Roberts' series "The Bride Quartet" about a year ago, and decided to finally give the fourth book a try when I s...moreI read the first three novels in Nora Roberts' series "The Bride Quartet" about a year ago, and decided to finally give the fourth book a try when I saw it at the library last week. I'm not sure if my reading tastes have changed a lot over the past year, or if the first three novels in the series were just better written than this last one, but I actually found Happy Ever After a struggle to get through.
The biggest thing that bothered me about this book was that the characters and overall plot just seemed really false and almost staged to me. The conversations in the novel also really aggrevated me! The constant meetings between the girls to discuss cakes, flower arrangements, and photography became really tedious and annoying at times. While this should be expected considering the fact that the title of the series is "Bride Quartet," I think that this focus on the wedding organization of the novel was even more pronouced in this last novel than the first three. Ultimatly, it felt to me like Parker's job as a wedding planner overshadowed the romance of the novel.
Indeed, not only did I find the writing style of the novel difficult to become absorbed in, but also what was supposed to be the romantic connection between Parker and Malcolm. Unlike the first couple of novels in this series, I thought that the chemistry between Parker and Malcolm kind of fell flat. Perhaps this was because the romance between them was already initiated in the third book, as the tension leading up to their relationship in Happy Ever After seemed non existent.
Overall, would I recommend reading this book? For those of you familiar with the Bride Quartet series, perhaps you will enjoy Happy Ever After more than I did, otherwise I would suggest skipping over this book entirely!
Ever since the most recent craze in vampire lore I have avoided vampire novels at all costs. Don't get me wrong...I myself went through a vampire faze...moreEver since the most recent craze in vampire lore I have avoided vampire novels at all costs. Don't get me wrong...I myself went through a vampire faze when I was in grade 8 and 9 (about five years ago), but I have since become tired of the often repetitive plot lines and love stories surrounding these dark creatures of the night. As a lover of everything Meg Cabot, however, I decided to give her new vampire series a try after hearing many good things about Insatiable. The opening line of the synopsis above gave me some hope that Meg Cabot's take on vampire culture would give a fresh and new spin to this overdone genre. I was wrong.
Insatiable was just like almost every other vampire novel I have ever read. Girl meets mysterious guy....mysterious guy and girl fall in love....mysterious guy turns out to be a vampire....ect. While Meg Cabot does make her main heroine, Meena Harper (ring any bells? Mina = character from Dracula), express her dislike of everything that vampires stand for, she nevertheless gives in to the charms of the vampire prince, Lucien.
Throughout the entire novel I was longing for Meena to eventually fall in love Aleric, a vampire hunter, instead, but I think that the "strong love connection" described about Meena and Lucien kind of seals the deal on their relationship status for the rest of the series. Nevertheless, I hold out hope that Lucien will be killed with a stake through his heart, and that Aleric will come to sweep the heartbroken Meena off her feet! This desire of mine is probably the one reason that I will continue to read this series ... because you never know when an author just might suprise you!
Nevertheless, I will give Meg Cabot some credit in attempting to make a vampire novel that is different from all the other ones out there. While she might have failed in my opinion, I'm sure the thousands of people out there who are still reading and enjoying vampire stories will really enjoy Insatiable. While I was slightly disappointed by this book myself, I will admit that Meg Cabot's charms as a writer kept me from putting the book down and walking away altogether. There were moments in Insatiable that made me laugh out loud due to her sarcastic and witty prose, which is the reason that I usually love Meg Cabot's books so much.
Overall, if you are a fan of vampire fiction then you will most defininetly love Insatiable. If you are like me, however, and are sick of hearing anything to do with these creatures of the night then I suggest you only give it a try if you are a fan of Meg Cabot's other works.(less)
This past weekend I finally had the chance to indulge in some much needed chick lit therapy after I picked up a copy of Sophie Kinsella's newest novel...moreThis past weekend I finally had the chance to indulge in some much needed chick lit therapy after I picked up a copy of Sophie Kinsella's newest novel, I've Got Your Number from my local library. Over the years I've managed to read my way through all of her books (except the last one in the Shopoholic series), but it has surprisingly been three years since her last standalone novel, Twenties Girl, came out. Due to this huge length of time, I had forgotten a lot about Kinsella's writing style and the emotions that it tends to evoke in me as a reader. As soon as I picked up I've Got Your Number, however, it all came flooding back oh so quickly.... I have a love/hate relationship with Sophie Kinsella.
Now you are probably wondering... what do I mean by a love/hate relationship? Well, as much as I enjoy my time spent relaxing and reading Kinsella's novels, there is always a point in her books where I am overcome with pure frustration. Sure her books are light hearted and funny, but her characters are always the exact same! Whether its Becky's obsession with shopping in the Shopoholic series or Poppy's inability to keep her nose out of other people's lives in I've Got Your Number, Sophie Kinsella's female characters are always self destructive in some form or another!
Even though its funny to see the situations that these bad decisions get the characters into, I can't help but cringe every time they do something that is obviously going to blow up in their faces. At some points I just feel like screaming at the characters and saying "NO! DON'T DO IT YOU IDIOT!" Luckily, the character of Poppy in Kinsella's latest novel wasn't quite as daft as her previous female heroines. In fact, I was somewhat impressed by her general perceptiveness and thoughtfulness. Unfortunately, this perception did not prevent her from messing up big time when it came to getting involved in the personal life of a complete stranger.
Although I may HATE Kinsella's self-destructive heroines, there is no denying that her novels are great for a laugh and some good romance (hence the "Love" part of this love/hate relationship). I've Got Your Number was no exception to this trend. As much as Poppy made me want to tear out my hair at times, there were definitely parts of the story that made me crack a smile, and at one point I even snorted out loud trying to hold in my laughter (much to the amusement of my friends laying beside me on the beach).
My favourite part of I've Got Your Number, however, was the amount of texts and emails included in the book between Poppy and Sam. I don't know what it is about text messages and emails, but I immediately fall in love with any chick lit book that includes them (like Meg Cabot's Boy series!!)! I know...I'm weird! Or do other people find that style of writing strangely attractive as well? Maybe its because these texts and emails make the characters seem more natural and lifelike then some of the crazy thoughts and dialogues provided throughout the rest of the story.
Overall, I've Got Your Number was frustrating at times, but its humour and lightheartedness more then made up for it! It's definitely the perfect beach/summer read for those of you looking for a book to relax and unwind to! While Sophie Kinsella's self-destructive characters can drive me crazy, I'll nevertheless be anxiously awaiting to see what crazy story she ends up writing next!(less)
The best possible word to describe this book is "cute" (which is an adjective dictionary loving Dash would probably find inadequate if he was a real p...moreThe best possible word to describe this book is "cute" (which is an adjective dictionary loving Dash would probably find inadequate if he was a real person). Set during the time leading up to Christmas, Dash and Lily's Book of Dares was the perfect read to get me in the holiday spirit! It was simple and light hearted, with no huge drama other than the struggle of Dash and Lily to discover whether their feelings for one another can exist outside of the notebook that they mysteriously swap back and forth between each other.
Reading about Dash and Lily's flirtations through the notebook was a unique experience for me as a reader, and one that I really enjoyed! The intimate conversations between Dash and Lily in the notebook really allowed the characters to develop and gain some depth that would have otherwise been lost in the pacing of the plot. In fact, the first half of the book before Dash and Lily met was my absolute favourite part about the entire novel! My curiosity over how they would eventually run into each other really created a lot of anticipation and eagerness on my part. Once they did meet, however, I found that my enjoyment of the book started to slowly decline. While it was still cute, I felt like the climax of the book had passed and my excitement for what would happen next had somewhat faded.
Despite the fact that the thrill of the chase was gone, Dash and Lily's Book of Dares was nevertheless a fun and humorous read. Cohn and Levithan created a cast of quirky characters that any reader can't help but fall in love with, including Dash's clueless friend Boomer. There were several times (especially near the beginning) where I actually laughed out loud (to the confusion of my mother who thought I was going crazy). While the novel was light and really relied on convenience to make things work out in the end, I found it a nice break from the stress and pressure required in reading my textbooks for school. I would definitely recommend this book to someone who is looking for something simple and fun to enjoy over the Christmas break! (less)
This was one of those books that was frustrating....but in a good way! From the very first chapter I fell for Nick and Sienna, two friends who are sec...moreThis was one of those books that was frustrating....but in a good way! From the very first chapter I fell for Nick and Sienna, two friends who are secretly in love with each other. Funny and caring, readers can't help but root for these two charismatic characters to wind up together happily ever after! While Sienna is a sweet, down to earth girl that everyone can't help but befriend, Nick is an outrageous jokester who never wants to grow up. An odd pair to be sure, yet they are perfect for each other in every way possible!
This is where the frustration sets in...because no matter how much they love each other, something always seems to happen to keep them apart. As the back of the book so perfectly describes, This Is A Love Story is "the story of two people destined never to come together in the great love affair they crave more than anything else." With this forewarning in mind, I tried to stay as neutral as possible while reading this book, terrified that these two characters that I cared so much about would wind up either dead or married to other people by the end.
Without giving away any spoilers, I will tell you this much, the ending was surprisingly good! While it was slightly unexpected, I found myself letting out a big sigh of relief and satisfaction that I had been holding onto the entire time I was reading. Overall, the story of Nick and Sienna's friendship was super funny, cute, and left me with a big smile on my face at the end! After witnessing their ups and downs, it was nice to see how their lives turned out over the five years that this book takes place. In many ways, I feel like they had become friends of my own!
On a more personal note, I think one of the reasons I connected so well to this book was that parts of it somewhat mirrored my own life. My boyfriend and I have been together for three and a half years now, but before we started dating we became best friends. Due to a series of mishaps and misunderstandings, however, we were like Sienna and Nick for a while, and almost didn't end up dating! Long story short, we eventually figured everything out and have been happy every since!
Putting all of this mushy stuff aside, you are probably wondering whether or not I would recommend this book. My verdict: Definitely! It was a really cute, light, and fun read that I think most fans of romance and chick lit will enjoy. Make sure to add this one to your to-read list for the summer! This Is A Love Story has already been published in the UK, but it will be hitting North American shelves on May 1st! (less)
On the train ride home from the Blog Ontario meet up, Kaley from Books Ect. recommended that I check out Catherine McKenzie’s latest novel, Arranged....more On the train ride home from the Blog Ontario meet up, Kaley from Books Ect. recommended that I check out Catherine McKenzie’s latest novel, Arranged. As Kaley, a chick lit expert, started describing the book to me, my ears immediately perked up. She told me all about how the story is focused on Anne Blythe, a young writer who can’t seem to find Mr. Right. After yet another failed relationship, Anne discovers a business card on the street that she assumes is for a dating service. Having given up on finding her perfect man by herself, Anne calls the number only to discover that the business card is not for a dating service, but for a pricy arranged marriage service! Feeling impulsive, Anne signs up and soon finds herself travelling to Mexico to marry a man that she’s never even met!
While the idea of a story focused on an arranged marriage had me interested to begin with, it was Kaley’s reveal that the main character of the novel is named after Anne of Green Gables that completely sold this novel to me! What can I say? I LOVE Anne of Green Gables! I immediately made Arranged my next book review choice despite the mountain of books sitting by my bed already waiting to be read. And boy was I happy that I did! Not only was the book overflowing with plenty of delicious Anne of Green Gables references, it was also cute, funny, and absolutely heartwarming!
Anne of Green Gables references aside, my absolute favourite thing about Arranged was the fact that it wasn’t your typical chick lit novel. Being used to chick lit novels that are overrun with self-destructive female characters, it was a pleasant surprise to discover that Anne actually had a pretty good head on her shoulders! While, yes, she does make some questionable decisions (like deciding to have an arranged marriage), for the most part Anne is just your average female trying to navigate the twists and turns of life. It’s actually Anne’s love interest who ends up being the self-destructive character straight out of a Sophie Kinsella novel! Without spoiling the novel, all I can say is that it was refreshing for once to have the male protagonist making all of the mistakes!
The only real criticism that I have for Arranged is that it has a bit of a slow start. Readers don’t actually get to meet Anne’s love interest until about halfway through the book (another difference from typical chick lit)! That isn’t to say that the first half of the novel is boring…(there are lots of cute and funny moments that help to build a better picture of Anne’s character)…it just takes a while for the plot to gain some momentum.
In the end, all that I can say is THANK YOU KALEY for recommending Arranged to me! I’m definitely a fan of Catherine McKenzie’s writing now, and I can’t wait to check out her other books! (less)
One of the most surprising things that struck my while reading Wedding Night was my absolute lack of frustration with either Lottie or Fliss. While re...moreOne of the most surprising things that struck my while reading Wedding Night was my absolute lack of frustration with either Lottie or Fliss. While reading Kinsella’s novels in the past, I have become accustomed to feeling the urge to strangle the female lead for her self destructive personality and general stupidity, but for once that irritation eluded me. That isn’t to say that Fliss and Lottie are not self-destructive. They make plenty of questionable decisions along the way, however, I found myself focusing more on their positive attributes and good intentions rather than their string of mistakes.
My only complaint about the novel lies in Kinsella’s decision to split the narrative between the two sisters. While I loved getting to see the story from these two points of view, I think this split focus took a bit away from the romantic plot of the story. I kept wanting to read more about Fliss and her growing relationship with Lorcan, but the story had to keep switching back to Lottie. Fliss’s complicated divorce, relationship with her son, and romantic tangle with Lorcan could have easily been an entire book!
Despite this small complaint, Wedding Night was still a fun read, and I loved every moment that I spent curled up with it! While it wasn’t my favourite Kinsella novel (Can You Keep a Secret still has the top spot), it was definitely entertaining! I caught myself laughing out loud on more then one occasion, and some of the crazy situations that the characters encounter were quite humorous. Certain to please the countless fans that Kinsella has gained over the years, Wedding Night will make a fantastic edition to any chick lit lover’s reading list! (less)
I loved this book! It was absolutely fantastic! A combination of romance, satire, and family drama, Crazy Rich Asians had me giggling one moment and o...moreI loved this book! It was absolutely fantastic! A combination of romance, satire, and family drama, Crazy Rich Asians had me giggling one moment and oohing and aahing the next. Although I initially went into the book expecting a romantic comedy of sorts, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the story actually had more depth to it.While Crazy Rich Asians is full of humour and fun, it also takes a serious look at the culture clash between old and new money, as well as the way in which wealth can affect relationships. These more somber moments in the book helped to make the opulence and craziness of the plot seem more realistic and relatable to everyday life.
I also really enjoyed Kwan's decision to narrate the story from several different perspectives. While Rachel and Nick's storyline was my favourite, getting to read about Nick's cousins Astrid and Eddie, along with his mother was refreshing and added more drama to the overall plot. These different narratives also provide the reader with a better understanding into the way Nick's family thinks and the decisions that they make.
The only aspect of the book that I found confusing was trying to keep all of Nick's family members and friends straight! Even with the help of the family tree at the beginning of the novel, I often found myself floundering. If anything though, my frustration helped me feel more sympathetic towards Rachel's character, who was just as confused and befuddled as I was trying to remember how different people were related to Nick.
Overall, Crazy Rich Asians was an addicting read that I couldn't put down! Fun, fast paced, and fabulous, this is definitely one book that you should check out this summer! My fingers are crossed that Kwan's wish to turn Crazy Rich Asians into a trilogy comes true so that I can bask some more in the glamour of Singapore and Nick's super crazy family!
Cute chick lit, but missing something to really make it awesome. Her little talks with her therapist annoyed the heck out of me. I wish this Bakery ex...moreCute chick lit, but missing something to really make it awesome. Her little talks with her therapist annoyed the heck out of me. I wish this Bakery existed in real life though! It would be incredible!!!!! (less)
For the most part Skinny Bitch in Love was a cute and loveable read. I enjoyed Clem’s determination, and found the focus on veganism educational and i...moreFor the most part Skinny Bitch in Love was a cute and loveable read. I enjoyed Clem’s determination, and found the focus on veganism educational and interesting. While the love plot was pretty predictable, it was also enjoyable, and I liked watching Clem and Zach continually butt heads. My only problem with this book was that at times Clem could be too perfect. Everyone is always going on and on about how good her cooking is, and her business seems to find success a little too quickly and easily. It would have been refreshing for Clem to cook something that people actually found terrible at least once in the book. Other then that small annoyance, Skinny Bitch in Love is a delicious chick lit for those looking for a good beach read this summer!(less)