Genre: General Fiction

#BookReview
The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

#BookReview The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle ZevinTitle: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

Author: Gabrielle Zevin

Published by: Penguin Canada Books Inc. on April 4, 2014

Genres: General Fiction

Pages: 260

Format: Paperback

Source: Purchased

Book Rating: 9/10

 

 

Synopsis:

In the spirit of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Gabrielle Zevin’s enchanting novel is a love letter to the world of books–and booksellers–that changes our lives by giving us the stories that open our hearts and enlighten our minds.  

On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto “No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.” A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island–from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.


Review:

I am a little embarrassed to say that I purchased this book quite a long time ago and only just picked it up to read last night.

Saying that, this is one of my favourite books I have read so far this year. I loved it. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I couldn’t put it down and read it in one sitting.

It is a lovely, warm, bittersweet story that touches on how life is short, and how the choices we make and the experiences we have shape us, and those around us, more than we may think. 

It is also a story about books, those who write books, those who sell books, and those who love books.

The prose is simple but elegant. The characters are unique and engaging. And the plot is insightful, funny, interesting, and a little sad.

This is a beautifully written book and I can’t wait to share it at book club. 

It really is a must read for all book lovers.

 

 

About Gabrielle Zevin

GABRIELLE ZEVIN is an internationally bestselling author whose books have been translated into over thirty languages.

Her eighth novel, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry (2014), spent months on the New York Times Best Seller List, reached #1 on the National Indie Best Seller List, and has been a bestseller all around the world. The Toronto Globe and Mail called the book “a powerful novel about the power of novels.” Her debut, Margarettown, was a selection of the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers program. The Hole We’re In was a New York Times Editor’s Choice title.

She also writes books for young readers. Her best known young adult novel is Elsewhere, an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book. Of Elsewhere, the New York Times Book Review wrote, “Every so often a book comes along with a premise so fresh and arresting it seems to exist in a category all its own… Elsewhere, by Gabrielle Zevin, is such a book.”

She is the screenwriter of Conversations with Other Women (Helena Bonham Carter, Aaron Eckhart) for which she received an Independent Spirit Award Nomination for Best First Screenplay. In 2009, she and director Hans Canosa adapted her novel Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac (ALA Best Books for Young Adults) into the Japanese film, Dareka ga Watashi ni Kiss wo Shita. She has also written for the New York Times Book Review and NPR’s All Things Considered. She began her writing career at age fourteen as a music critic for the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.

Zevin is a graduate of Harvard University. She lives in Los Angeles. Her 9th novel is Young Jane Young.

#BookReview
The Winemakers by Jan Moran

#BookReview The Winemakers by Jan MoranTitle: The Winemakers

Author: Jan Moran

Published by: St. Martin's Griffin on April 5, 2016

Genres: General Fiction, Historical Fiction

Pages: 368

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: St. Martin's Press

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

A young woman
A family secret
A devastating truth that could destroy the man she loves

Many years ago, the Rosetta family’s hard-won dreams of staking their claim in the vineyards of California came to fruition. Now high-spirited, passionate Caterina Rosetta, who has inherited both her mother’s talent for crafting the finest wines and also her indomitable will, wants nothing more than to win her mother’s approval and work at her side. But that can never happen, because Caterina is keeping a secret that could ruin her: a daughter of her own, fathered by the love of her life, who left her without explanation. Just as she feels she has nowhere to turn, Caterina discovers that she has inherited a vineyard in the Tuscan countryside in Italy, from a grandmother she’s never heard of, and she seizes the chance to start a new life for herself and her child.

But the past is not so easily outrun. In the country of her ancestors, Caterina meets the family of the father she never knew, and discovers that her mother is also hiding her own secret—a secret so devastating it threatens the future of everything her family has worked for. As an old murder comes to light, and Caterina uncovers a tragedy that may destroy the man she loves, she realizes her happiness will depend on revealing the truth of her mother’s buried past—if she has the strength to face it.

From author Jan Moran comes The Winemakers, a sweeping, romantic novel that will hold you in its grasp until the last delicious sip.


Review:

This book was very engrossing and I had trouble putting it down.

The story takes place in the picturesque vineyards of Napa, California and Tuscany, Italy. And the descriptions are so vivid that at times it almost felt like I was sitting amongst the grape vines savouring the bouquet of the most divine wine.

The plot revolves around secrets, lies, deception, familial relationships, wine-making, and romance. It is a wonderful love story with enough twists and turns and drama to keep you throughly engaged.

Overall, this is a well written, compelling novel with believable characterization and it is truly worth the read. In fact, I think this would be a great addition to any book club.

 

This book is due to be published on April 5, 2016.

Pick up a copy you won’t be disappointed.

 

 

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy of this story in exchange for an honest review.

#BookReview
The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall

#BookReview The Wolf Border by Sarah HallTitle: The Wolf Border

Author: Sarah Hall

Published by: Harper on June 9, 2015

Genres: General Fiction

Pages: 432

Format: Paperback

Source: Borrowed

Book Rating: 6.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

The award-winning author of The Electric Michelangelo returns with her first novel in nearly six years, a literary masterpiece about the reintroduction of wild wolves into the United Kingdom.

She hears them howling along the buffer zone, a long harmonic.
One leading, then many.
At night there is no need to imagine, no need to dream.
They reign outside the mind.

Rachel Caine is a zoologist working in Nez Perce, Idaho, as part of a wolf recovery project. She spends her days, and often nights, tracking the every move of a wild wolf pack—their size, their behavior, their howl patterns. It is a fairly solitary existence, but Rachel is content.

When she receives a call from the wealthy and mysterious Earl of Annerdale, who is interested in reintroducing the grey wolf to Northern England, Rachel agrees to a meeting. She is certain she wants no part of this project, but the Earl’s estate is close to the village where Rachel grew up, and where her aging mother now lives in a care facility. It has been far too long since Rachel has gone home, and so she returns to face the ghosts of her past.

The Wolf Border is a breathtaking story about the frontier of the human spirit, from one of the most celebrated young writers working today.


Review:

This is a hard book for me to review. I actually picked it up a few months ago, started it, put it down, and only now just picked it up again to finish it.

This story involves two plots that run simultaneously to each other. One is about the wolves. The other is about Rachel, the zoologist that oversees them.

The plot of the wolves was very interesting and the author did a great job describing their behaviour and their interaction with nature. On the other hand, the plot of Rachel was a little less intriguing and focuses on familial dysfunction, detachment, and motherhood. 

The vocabulary of this story is very rich and the imagery is incredible. However, for me, the lacklustre characterization made the story, as a whole, a little flat and slow.

 

#BookReview
The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson

#BookReview The Bookseller by Cynthia SwansonTitle: The Bookseller

Author: Cynthia Swanson

Published by: Harper Paperbacks on March 22, 2016

Genres: General Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 368

Format: Paperback

Source: Purchased

Book Rating: 9/10

 

 

Synopsis:

The Bookseller follows a woman in the 1960s who must reconcile her reality with the tantalizing alternate world of her dreams

Nothing is as permanent as it appears . . . 

Denver, 1962: Kitty Miller has come to terms with her unconventional single life. She loves the bookshop she runs with her best friend, Frieda, and enjoys complete control over her day-to-day existence. She can come and go as she pleases, answering to no one. There was a man once, a doctor named Kevin, but it didn’t quite work out the way Kitty had hoped.

Then the dreams begin.

Denver, 1963: Katharyn Andersson is married to Lars, the love of her life. They have beautiful children, an elegant home, and good friends. It’s everything Kitty Miller once believed she wanted—but it only exists when she sleeps.

Convinced that these dreams are simply due to her overactive imagination, Kitty enjoys her nighttime forays into this alternate world. But with each visit, the more irresistibly real Katharyn’s life becomes. Can she choose which life she wants? If so, what is the cost of staying Kitty, or becoming Katharyn?

As the lines between her worlds begin to blur, Kitty must figure out what is real and what is imagined. And how do we know where that boundary lies in our own lives?


Review:

I loved this book.

This book was intriguing, insightful and intelligent. It gripped me from the beginning and it kept me enthralled till the very end.

It is a story that makes us think about the choices we make, the power of imagination, and our brain’s remarkable ability to cope.

This was well written and very unique. It is definitely a great choice for book clubs and it will certainly be on my “Must Read List” for 2016.

 

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following Amazon links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada

 

For more information on Cynthia Swanson, visit her website at: integritymodern.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @cynswanauthor

 

#BookReview
House Broken by Sonja Yoerg

#BookReview House Broken by Sonja YoergTitle: House Broken

Author: Sonja Yoerg

Published by: NAL on January 6, 2015

Genres: General Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 336

Format: Paperback

Source: Borrowed

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

In this compelling and poignant debut novel, a woman skilled at caring for animals must learn to mend the broken relationships in her family.…
 
For veterinarian Geneva Novak, animals can be easier to understand than people. They’re also easier to forgive. But when her mother, Helen, is injured in a vodka-fueled accident, it’s up to Geneva to give her the care she needs.
 
Since her teens, Geneva has kept her self-destructive mother at arm’s length. Now, with two slippery teenagers of her own at home, the last thing she wants is to add Helen to the mix. But Geneva’s husband convinces her that letting Helen live with them could be her golden chance to repair their relationship.
 
Geneva isn’t expecting her mother to change anytime soon, but she may finally get answers to the questions she’s been asking for so long. As the truth about her family unfolds, however, Geneva may find secrets too painful to bear and too terrible to forgive.


Review:

I really liked this book.

This is a thought-provoking story that delves into the complexities and dysfunction of family relationships, including the long-lasting effects of secrets and the art of forgiveness.

It is written from the perspective of three different characters, Geneva, Geneva’s mother, and Geneva’s daughter, which allows the story to flow seamlessly between past and present.

It is a well written, insightful, bittersweet novel with real characters and a realistic ending.

This was part of my book club and I think it was a good pick.

 

#BookReview
Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey

#BookReview Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma HealeyTitle: Elizabeth Is Missing

Author: Emma Healey

Published by: Vintage Canada on June 2, 2015

Genres: General Fiction, Mystery/Thriller

Pages: 288

Format: Paperback

Source: Borrowed

Book Rating: 7/10

 

 

Synopsis:

In this darkly riveting debut novel—a sophisticated psychological mystery that is also a heartbreakingly honest meditation on memory, identity, and aging—an elderly woman descending into dementia embarks on a desperate quest to find the best friend she believes has disappeared, and her search for the truth will go back decades and have shattering consequences.

Maud, an aging grandmother, is slowly losing her memory—and her grip on everyday life. Yet she refuses to forget her best friend Elizabeth, who she is convinced is missing and in terrible danger.

But no one will listen to Maud—not her frustrated daughter, Helen, not her caretakers, not the police, and especially not Elizabeth’s mercurial son, Peter. Armed with handwritten notes she leaves for herself and an overwhelming feeling that Elizabeth needs her help, Maud resolves to discover the truth and save her beloved friend.

This singular obsession forms a cornerstone of Maud’s rapidly dissolving present. But the clues she discovers seem only to lead her deeper into her past, to another unsolved disappearance: her sister, Sukey, who vanished shortly after World War II.

As vivid memories of a tragedy that occurred more fifty years ago come flooding back, Maud discovers new momentum in her search for her friend. Could the mystery of Sukey’s disappearance hold the key to finding Elizabeth?


Review:

This was an interesting book for me.

On the one hand, I feel the author did a really good job narrating the story from the perspective of an elderly woman suffering from dementia and all the disjointed thoughts, actions and images that come along with that. A task I am confident is not an easy one. 

On the other hand, there were times that I was frustrated and confused with the overall flow. 

Saying that, I think the story shows a true reflection of the affects dementia has not only on the suffers but also on their caregivers.

I would say this book is good, not great, but definitely unique.

 

#BookReview
The Marble Collector by Cecelia Ahern

#BookReview The Marble Collector by Cecelia AhernTitle: The Marble Collector

Author: Cecelia Ahern

Published by: HarperCollins UK on October 29, 2015

Genres: General Fiction

Pages: 304

Format: Hardcover

Source: Purchased

Book Rating: 8/10

 

 

Synopsis:

A forgotten childhood. A discovered life.
What if you only had one day to find out who you really were?

When Sabrina Boggs stumbles upon a mysterious collection of her father’s possessions, she discovers a truth where she never knew there was a lie. The familiar man she grew up with is suddenly a stranger to her.

An unexpected break in her monotonous daily routine leaves her just one day to unlock the secrets of the man she thought she knew. A day that unearths memories, stories and people she never knew existed. A day that changes her and those around her forever.

The Marble Collector is a thought-provoking novel about how the most ordinary decisions we make can have the most extraordinary consequences for how we live our lives. And how sometimes it’s only by shining on a light on someone else, that you can truly understand yourself.


Review:

I really liked this book.

It was a heartwarming story that engrossed you from the get go. And like most Cecilia Ahern’s books it made you laugh, made you cry, and also made you cheer.

It has a wonderful cast of characters. Uses a past/present, back and forth, style to give depth into the father/daughter relationship between Sabrina and Fergus. And ultimately, it showcases the long-lasting effects secrets can have on those we love, and the importance of finding one’s true identity for happiness.

I’m certainly glad I picked it up. It’s definitely worth reading.

 

This book is available now.

Pick up copy from your favourite retailer or from the following links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada

 

About Cecelia Ahern

Cecelia Ahern was born and grew up in Dublin. She is now published in nearly fifty countries, and has sold over twenty-five million copies of her novels worldwide. Two of her books have been adapted as films and she has created several TV series.

#BookReview
Coming Up for Air by Patti Callahan Henry
@pcalhenry

#BookReview Coming Up for Air by Patti Callahan Henry @pcalhenryTitle: Coming Up for Air

Author: Patti Callahan Henry

Published by: St. Martin's Griffin on May 22, 2012

Genres: General Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 272

Format: Paperback

Source: Purchased

Book Rating: 7.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Ellie Calvin is caught in a dying marriage, and she knows this. With her beloved daughter away at college and a growing gap between her and her husband, she doesn’t quite seem to fit into her own life. But everything changes when her controlling mother, Lillian, passes away. Ellie sees her ex-boyfriend, Hutch, at the funeral, and learns that he is in charge of a documentary that involved Lillian before her death – and he wants answers to questions that Ellie’s not sure she can face.

As Ellie and Hutch start digging into Lillian’s history, and speaking for the first time in years, Ellie’s closed heart slowly begins to open. Using both a hidden diary that Ellie found in her mother’s things, and a trip to the Summer House, a mysterious and seductive bayside home, they gamble that they can work together and not fall in love again. But in piecing together a decades-old unrequited-love story, they just might uncover the secrets in their own hearts…


Review:

I enjoyed this book.

It was an interesting story that delved into mother/daughter relationships, secrets, heartbreak, love lost, love found and ultimately finding one’s self.

It was well written, easy to read, thought-provoking, and a generally nice story.

It’s definitely worth a read. 

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following Amazon links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada

 

 

About Patti Callahan Henry

Patti Callahan Henry is a New York Times bestselling author of thirteen novels, including the upcoming BECOMING MRS. LEWIS – The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis. A finalist in the Townsend Prize for Fiction, an Indie Next Pick, an OKRA pick, and a multiple nominee for the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) Novel of the Year, Patti is a frequent speaker at luncheons, book clubs and women’s groups. The mother of three children, she now lives in both Mountain Brook, Alabama and Bluffton, South Carolina with her husband.

Book Review: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Book Review: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste NgTitle: Everything I Never Told You

Author: Celeste Ng

Published by: Penguin Books on May 12, 2015

Genres: General Fiction

Pages: 297

Format: Paperback

Source: Purchased

Book Rating: 7/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.

So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. 

A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.


Review:

When I first picked up this book I wasn’t sure what to expect.

I thought it was going to be a suspenseful novel. And although there is a mystery, lydia’s death, I feel the main plot evolved more around family dynamics and the different relationships between each member of the family than the mystery itself.

Saying that, the writing is very poetic. The characters are developed nicely. And the story is very emotional and thought-provoking.

I think if you’re looking for a good contemporary drama you will really enjoy this book. However, if you pick it up hoping for a page-turning mystery you might be a little disappointed.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following Amazon links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada

 

About Celeste Ng

Celeste Ng is the author of the novel Everything I Never Told You, which was a New York Times bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book of 2014, Amazon’s #1 Best Book of 2014, and named a best book of the year by over a dozen publications. Everything I Never Told You was also the winner of the Massachusetts Book Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, the ALA’s Alex Award, and the Medici Book Club Prize, and was a finalist for numerous awards, including the Ohioana Award, the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award, and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award.

Celeste grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Shaker Heights, Ohio, in a family of scientists. Celeste attended Harvard University and earned an MFA from the University of Michigan (now the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan), where she won the Hopwood Award. Her fiction and essays have appeared in One Story, TriQuarterly, Bellevue Literary Review, the Kenyon Review Online, and elsewhere, and she is a recipient of the Pushcart Prize.

Currently, she lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her second novel, Little Fires Everywhere, will be published by Penguin Press in fall 2017.

%d bloggers like this: