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review 2016-08-20 15:52
Since You've Been Gone Review
Since You've Been Gone - Morgan Matson

Wow. This book was so amazing! I fell in love with the characters as soon as I met them. The way Matson writes is INCREDIBLE, I was quickly hooked on the story and it kept getting better as the book progressed. The plot of this book was easy to understand and follow throughout the book. The words flowed so nicely and smoothly, it was an easy read. The only con I can think of about this book is that some of the chapters were really long, but that's a matter of preference. I also give an A+ to the character development. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good friendship/adventure story.

 

-SH

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review 2014-05-10 18:17
The Glass Kitchen - Linda Francis Lee
The Glass Kitchen - Linda Francis Lee

I’m Mrs. Take-away. I don’t see the point in cooking and I honestly think that modern day’s obsession with cooking and food is absurd and freaky.

However, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m also the girl that picks books purely on their cover and thus I ended up reading the book The Glass Kitchen (really Emma, you missed the word Kitchen in the title?) by Linda Francis Lee. I requested this book via Netgalley, because I loved the cover so much.

The Glass Kitchen is the story of Portia and Ariel – a story that intertwines at several points during the plot.

Portia is a newly divorced Texan woman who moves to New York City to find herself again. She lives in the townhouse her great aunt used to own – she lives on the garden floor while her sisters, Olivia and Cordelia, used to own the other two floors. However, the sisters sold their part of the house, so Portia unwantedly becomes a neighbor of Gabriel, a handsome, but very cold, businessman.

Gabriel is a widower with two daughters – Ariel and Miranda. The story of the family focuses on 12-year-old Ariel, who is struggling with the move to New York (the family used to live in New Jersey) and the teenage escapades of her sister (who is 16). And mostly with the fact that she was in the car crash that killed her mother.

As if that’s not enough plot, there’s an interesting twist to the story. Portia has “the knowing”, which is a family trait that allows her to see the food people will need before they actually need it. For example, Miranda runs into the house needing 20 cupcakes for a bake sale and Portia already made them, though she didn’t know why. Olivia’s grandmother used to have the trait, which is why her restaurant The Glass Kitchen in Texas was so successful. Imagine walking into a place and them always having the food you love? As a Mrs Take-away – I’ll sign up for that.

That’s where the story starts and slowly the characters develop and have to figure out how to survive, both financially and emotionally after the traumatic event of an unexpected divorce or the death of a mother, in the case of Ariel.

What I liked about this book is that Portia is not your typical Texan narrator – yes, she likes to cook and yes she wears sparkly clothes every now and then, but she’s feisty and actually doesn’t want to hook up with her neighbor for a very long time. Same goes for Ariel, who is not the typical 12 year old narrator. She’s smarter than most girls her age, which saves the book from not falling in between the young adult and adult category – it’s definitely adult, even when Ariel narrates. “The knowing” brings in an original element to the book, which differentiates it from most chick lit like books. It also causes for quite a few surprising turns and twists in the book, which is always a plus in my eyes.

What bothered me about this book is the development of Miranda. Miranda is 16, the older sister of Ariel, and is very clearly struggling with the death of her mother. However, the author portrays her as an annoying brat who is acting out in every way possible. But WHY? Nobody knows and at times, I even wondered if the author really knows why Miranda is acting the way she does.

She hangs out with bad friends, smokes weed and throws parties even though she’s not allowed to do that. As a reader, we hear repeatedly how good she was back in New Jersey and how the move made her upset. Really? The move? I think the death of the mother could have come back in here and I really missed this part of the story.

Besides that though, it is a good read. I feel like the lack of Miranda character development really left a gaping hole in the plot, but for any cooking lovers, this will be a fun and enjoyable read. And even if you don’t enjoy cooking, like me, you can still enjoy this book and maybe even get motivated to do some cooking of your own – with the recipes in the back of the book!

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review 2014-05-04 20:01
Under The Skin - Michel Faber
Under The Skin - Michel Faber

I’m absolutely obsessed with Scarlett Johansson. I think she’s the most gorgeous and talented woman to walk this earth right now (sorry, but Audrey Hepburn will always be my all-time favorite) and I adore every project she does.

So why am I writing this on a book blog, I hear you ask? Because my love (cough obsession) goes so deep that I even read the books that have been turned into films that have her in it. It has nothing to do with Scarlett anymore, but it’s a thing I do.

Usually I watch the film, absolutely love it and then grab the book. However, when I saw the trailer of Under The Skin, I decided to not even try to watch it. It looks too scary, too gorey, too not me. But I can’t give up on Scarlett completely, so I decided to read the book instead.

Under The Skin is written by Michel Faber and tells the story of Isserley, a woman slash outer world creature. She is send to this earth to collect humans for her home planet/world.

Of course, nothing goes to plan and Isserley has to figure out what it means to be human and what it means to be an animal, which is what they call what we would consider humans.

The book is a clear critical look at modern society and the way we treat not only animals, but people we consider less than us. How cruel we can be to each other and how we deal with that cruelty.

I’m very conflicted about this book. On the one hand, I enjoyed it. There is great characterization and you really grow with the narrator. The whole story is from Isserley’s point of view and, even though she has the most unusual job, her thoughts are just like ours. But still not the same, because she’s from a different world. This sounds contradictory, and I guess it is, but the author walks this fine line perfectly and really allows the reader to understand Isserley and thus understand the shocking things she does.

On the other hand, this whole “critical look at society” genre is not my thing. I understand the purpose and I think the critique is completely justified – however, it is not what I enjoy most about reading. When I read a book, I want to escape to a different world. With this book, I felt too connected to “the real world” through all the critique.

Is that a bad thing? No, not at all. I’m sure plenty of readers will really enjoy that. It just wasn’t my cup of tea.

But why would I tell my friends to definitely read it? The ending of the story. I reached the last 20 pages and didn’t get any sense of an ending. It got me curious and anxious (“please tell me this isn’t going to be another lame open ending for a story that so obviously needs a clear ending?!”). But the author gave a satisfying, shocking and amazingly written ending that suited the characters perfectly in just twenty pages. That’s some serious skill.

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text 2014-05-04 09:55
Working my way through a classic
Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

There is nothing as fulfilling as finishing a classic.
One of those books that you always wanted to read, but just never had the time to read.
And now - you do. You're going to do this.

 

Except if that "you" is me and reading a classics is like reading a school textbook. It's a job, it's reading to read, not to enjoy yourself.

 

And am I going to do this? I'm doubting it since I've been struggling for a a week now to read Vanity Fair.

 

I like this book so far (page 160 - sign of my struggle), but it's just such concentrated reading. The moment I let my mind wander for just a sentence, I forget the plot completely and I have to go back and read the page all over again.

Sometimes, I think that it's just me that's struggling with this. Everyone else seems to read classic after classic (for example, who is able to finish the Rory Gilmore challenge with like a 100 classics on it?! I'll be 90 by the time I finish that) and I just can't even get through this one.


Never mind Jane Austen, who is despise (there will be a blog post about that frustration) or Beowulf which just went way over my head. 

 

Is it about finding the right classic? That's what people always told me and I must admit that I adored Madame Bovary and read through The Hunchback of the Notre Dame in no time. - Does this mean I'm secretly French?- 

But then I also really enjoy the story of Vanity Fair. I love Rebecca and her troubles and I really want to find out what happens with her.... I just can't bring myself to read all of it.

 

Am I really the only one struggling with this?

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review 2014-05-03 18:33
After Wimbledon - Jennifer Gilby Roberts
After Wimbledon - Jennifer Gilby Roberts

I’m obsessed with chick lit. No matter what I do, no matter how many serious novels I’m reading (right now, I’m working my way through the 900 pages of Vanity Fair), a chick lit book always feels like coming home.

So when I found After Wimbledon by Jennifer Gilby Roberts, I was just dying to read it. And thank God I did.

Lucy Bennett, how is very much like Becky Bloomwood, is a tennis-pro who is prepping for Wimbledon, but really considering retirement. However, her one-night-stand-turned-boyfriend Joe does not want her to retire and most definitely does not want any of her post-retirement plans (house, marriage, babies,…). And then there’s Sam, one of the best tennis players in the world, the rival of Lucy’s boyfriend and the only person who thinks Lucy is not an idiot for wanting to retire.

So who does Lucy trust? And is retirement really a good option when she’s only 28? These are the main themes in the book, though there are a few small curveballs in the plot.

Lucy is funny and endearing and as a reader, you really want her to be happy. Joe is the perfect asshole boyfriend you want her to leave and Sam is a modern day Prince Charming.

It’s a chick lit, so the plot can be expected, but that’s what makes this book so good. There are no really unexpected turns (except maybe one towards the end), no big character developments, everything happens exactly as the reader wants it to happen.

However, unlike the many chick lits that have given me a headache, this book is actually written well. Jennifer clearly knows how to make the reader connect with Lucy and how to portray Lucy’s humor on page (and not just with saying “oh Lucy, you are so funny”). But don’t take my word for it, read a little passage from the beginning of the book – so completely spoiler free: “This isn’t the type of thing we normally talk about. Joe and I have what I think of as an emotionally open relationship. In a traditional open relationship (oxymoron?), you are emotionally intimate only with each other and sleep with anyone you want. In our case, we are sexually exclusive but have your deep and meaningful conversations with other people. That is, assuming Joe has any at all.”

That last sentence? That’s the kind of sentence that makes me laugh out loud in bed.

I was a bit worried that After Wimbledon would be too much about tennis for me, because I hate tennis and can’t stand watching it or hearing about it. But, even though tennis is a huge part of the plot, no knowledge of tennis is required nor are there any long reports about tennis matches. It’s about Lucy and her career and men – not the technicality of tennis.

After Wimbledon is not groundbreaking chick lit, such as a Bridget Jones’ Diary was, but it’s a fun read and I think it’s perfect for the summer that’s coming. Grab a drink, sit outside (preferably on a beach) and this book is your perfect companion.

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