Audiobook Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

This review is going to be much gushier and incoherent than usual. Noted? … Okay, let’s go.

Blurb from Goodreads:

Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they’re off to university and Wren’s decided she doesn’t want to be one half of a pair any more – she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It’s not so easy for Cath. She would rather bury herself in the fanfiction she writes where there’s romance far more intense than anything she’s experienced in real life.

Now Cath has to decide whether she’s ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she’s realizing that there’s more to learn about love than she ever thought possible …

A tale of fanfiction, family, and first love.


I’m still in two minds about this book. I’ve heard a lot of great things about this and have heard so many readers gushing and raving about it.
Despite that, I must confess that I went into the book with lower expectations; You might have not known this side of me, but I have a weird tendency of NOT wanting to be one of those people who just do things just because everyone else is doing it. To put in a nutshell, I don’t basically gravitate toward overly hyped books/things and this Fangirl exactly falls into the category, hence my hesitation about reading this.

Having finished listening to this audiobook, I can honestly say, Rainbow Rowell did it again. She won over my heart again. 

For the overall storyline, I’d give this book solid 3.5 or 3.75 out of 5 stars; NOT solid 4 let alone 5 stars. Not even close. YET for the romance part, my goodness, this book melted my heart (you might guess I’m a sucker for this type of slow-burned romance) and straight 5 stars go to this book.
I personally found the whole romance progression quite beautiful and breathtaking.

This is exactly what happened to me when I read ‘Landline’ last year; When a male character – the love interest – in Rainbow Rowell’s books speaks, the words grab my heart. I often feel like I’m spellbound. This book was no exception; I was literally under the spell of Levi’s words. Funny thing is that, I don’t even particularly love Levi, he’s way too skinny and lanky for my liking but I love HIS WORDS. I just love what he says, what’s coming out of his mouth and how he embraces and appreciates Cath as she is.

His words are simple but have something that has my heart in its clutches. Simply captivating and I couldn’t get enough of it. I kept going back to his words over and over and over again. Hypnotic. Like magic. Rainbow Rowell did it again – made me fall in love with Levi just like she did with Neal from Landline. 

Now, let’s talk about the characters. I think most of the characters are well fleshed out and their emotions are well-drawn. In particular, I could absolutely relate to Cath’s restlessness from being a ‘misfit’ in college and the dorm, the fear of not blending in. Her concerns and trepidations, the weird sense of incongruity she has when she wakes up in her dormitory bed – they are vividly depicted and executed and brought back my memories when I was in junior college. It was really well done.
The character dynamics, especially the relationship (friendship) between Reagan is such a delight to read. I love her. She’s straightforward, brusque, calling a spade a spade yet is kind at heart; I loved to see how Reagan kind of forcibly drags Cath into her world and lets Cath accustom to the new environment, and how she forges a friendship between Cath.
To be perfectly honest, and this might be an unpopular opinion, but I didn’t particularly LOVED Cath. There are several things that stopped me from rooting for Cath, in fact.
For one; She is naive and immature. It is kind of hard to talk about this without giving much away, but she is afraid of ‘change’ and wants to stay in her own small, confined world – her bubble. This part of her gradually changes through the interactions with Reagan and Levi, but I felt it a bit hard to get invested in Cath’s character in the beginning.
What really irked me is her naivety that is showcased through the dialogue with Professor Piper. If you have read this, you’ll know what I am talking about and yes, I was so fed up with Cath’s lame excuses and logic. Writing fan fiction is totally fine with me, but what she does in this segment is NOT something to be condoned and it frustrated me so much.

Secondly, she is so quick to decide to drop things. She tries to get away from things once she finds it doesn’t belong to her or not her thing. Although she no doubt has a distinct ‘Voice’ in her writing that speaks to the readers, she adamantly refuses to give what she’s supposed to a try.
She has THE VOICE that any writers or creators desperately crave for but she is all willing to let it go without even giving it a try. She says she doesn’t want to. Again, I was quite frustrated by this side of her, and it took me a while to warm up to her (not fully, but to some extent).
That said though, her mounting feelings toward Levi and how she gets drowned in it was incredibly well-delineated and it literally captured my heart. I DEVOURED the words that Rainbow Rowell weaves. Again, it felt like magic. Stunningly beautiful and delicious.
My impression toward Cath is redeemed by the development in the latter part, and I personally found it quite clever. I am glad to see how it plays out and am content with that.

Other characters are all vivid and funny to get to know; Cath’s Dad is my second favorite character; I liked how he is bruised and flawed, yet is funny and chirpy at the same time. He brightens up the world for me.

As for the plot, I found it interesting that Rainbow Rowell writes a story involving a flawed, wounded family; each family members is more or less bruised by the traumatic experience of having their wife/mother walk out of their lives. But their struggles, especially Wren’s struggles were not heartfelt. Although there are strong moments where Cath gushes out her pent-up emotions about their estranged, biological mother, I felt this element a bit weak. For that reason, Wren’s issue that comes to light in the latter part might have been the author’s attempt to display the damage what Wren was inflicted on, but it didn’t strike me as strong as the author might have intended. Wren seemed quite standoffish, frivolous and distant for the most part of the story -intentionally distances herself from Cath but later comes back to her saying she has never stopped reading the story Cath uploaded. It felt a bit abrupt because I thought Wren’s character arc and the reason why she acts the way she does are not well drawn, at least for me.
Nonetheless, once again, there’s a redeeming scene for her and I am happy with how it plays out.

The fan fiction part… or the inserts at the end of each chapter was honestly a bit too much for me. Some of them could have been cut, but given how this whole fan fiction thing works out for the romance part I absolutely LOVE, I, once again, have a mixed-feeling about this. I cannot decide what to make of this.

But overall, Yes, I enjoyed reading/listening to this audiobook. The narrator did an amazing job of employing different tones of voices for each character and elevating the romance scenes to absolutely beautiful, captivating and enchanting ones.
Like I said, had it not been for this delectable, heart-tingling romance part, this book would have gotten solid 3.5 stars. But Levi’s words (not himself) made the book for me and I loved how their romance develops and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole package.

If you haven’t read or listened to this book, I recommend you pick this up; this book has become one of my favorites.
Not mind-blowing, but enchanting. I gave this audiobook 4 out of 5 stars.

The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain

Heroic bookseller Laurent Letellier comes across an abandoned handbag on a Parisian street. There’s nothing in the bag to indicate who it belongs to, although there’s all sorts of other things in it. Laurent feels a strong impulse to find the owner and tries to puzzle together who she might be from the contents of the bag. Especially a red notebook with her jottings, which really makes him want to meet her. Without even a name to go on, and only a few of her possessions to help him, how is he to find one woman in a city of millions?


For a slim book with only 159 page count, this is a well-written, delightful read.

The story opens up with a thrilling chapter where the heroine, Laure, whose name is not addressed in this chapter, is mugged and has her handbag stolen. She manages to check herself in a hotel room but is later found unconscious with a large patch of dried blood stuck to the towel beneath her head; she slips into a coma during the night.

In the mean time, Laurent, a bookseller in his forties and a divorce finds a woman’s handbag left on top of the bin. He attempts to report it to the police, but changes his mind at the last minute and takes it back to his room and decides to track down the owner of the handbag on his own. As his own ‘little investigation’ proceeds, the mysterious owner of the handbag slowly but steadily takes over his mind…

Like I mentioned, I enjoy this little book a lot. The first chapter is especially well-written and riveting with the perfect dose of suspense element, it pulled me into the story instantly.
That said, the overall tone and ambiance of the book is even and witty. Especially, Laurent’s consternation and trepidations were such a delight to read. The author’s sense of humor added a lot of enjoyment to the story.
I personally found ‘the number of pockets’ and ‘how much items can a woman have in a handbag?’ thing a bit of a stretch, but it didn’t take anything away nor did it spoil the fun.
The plot is, overall, well-crafted and the pacing was on point. It is simply amazing that I didn’t find it rushed at all for such a slim book. If anything, it’s rather slow-building and things develop nicely. I really enjoyed reading how the paths of the main two characters – Laure and Laurent (their names are pretty similar, aren’t they?) eventually entwine in the end.

I particularly loved how those two main characters begin to fall for each other. Their paths had never crossed nor have they never met prior to the incident, but from the moment when Laurent found Laure’s handbag abandoned, ever since he perused the items in her bag, he begins to imagine what kind of woman Laure is, and her existence and her presence which he hasn’t even known before – starts to occupy his mind and even comes close to an obsession.
And the same goes for Laure; after getting discharged from the hospital, her boss, William, makes a bit of a revelation and she also begins to track down Laurent in her own way, wondering how the presence of a man whom she had never met yet who was familiar with her belonging could have such a big effect on her.

Although there aren’t many dramatic moments in the plot which caught you by surprise, like I said, the overall tone of the writing is rather calm and even, I enjoyed reading this. The well-crafted, solid plot and the attractive cast of characters (some characters are a bit underdeveloped though) made this book a delightful read.

The epilogue is particularly noteworthy; it’s actually my all-time favorite.  It kind of reminiscent of a French movie, beautifully alternating and entwining fragments of the characters’ lives. Simply breathtaking.

If you feel like a quick read and are interested in reading a story that takes place in Paris, this might be good for you.
Not too sweet nor saccharine, but a healthy dose of romance might warm the cockles of your heart.

I’ll give this book solid 3.5, or 3.75 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

 

They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose . . .

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A Love Story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?


Incredibly gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, beautifully written book. It took me a while to pick up myself after having my heart crushed and ripped into two at the end. What a haunting, emotional read. I wasn’t expecting this.

The emotional effect this book had on me went beyond my initial expectation; this book gave me a lot of emotions – anger, shame, empathy, happiness, and grief. The last several chapters, in particular, were like an emotional roller coaster, completely sweeping me up in the emotions and throwing me for a loop. Simply haunting and devastating in a good way – as a book, at least.

The writing is solid, strong, and beautiful. Her prowess and skills were especially well-displayed in descriptive writing where she describes how the snow quietly blankets the ground, for instance. It was simply breathtaking and captivating.
Her prowess doesn’t stop at descriptive writing; her flair in writing is definitely showcased and reflected in the characters’ emotional conflicts and struggles, too. I personally found she is a versatile writer – she can change and adjust the tones and ambiance of her writing depending on the characters’ emotions. One minute she ends the chapter with a gripping, emotional evocative paragraph and then she opens the next chapter with an uplifting, humorous dialogue that makes you chuckle despite yourself. I was really impressed by her writing. Another point that I wasn’t expecting from this book.

The undercurrent theme is undeniably heavy and controversial. The weight and the intensity of the topic momentarily threw me off and may have been what surprised me the most.
While I was reading this, it made me think and recognize a lot of things that I had let slip my mind.
I used to think ’empathy’ is a good thing and is a very important element in our lives. However, as I read into this, I began to wonder if that’s always the case. It slowly dawned on me that nothing could be worse and more disgraceful to the physically challenged than excessive or ostentatious ‘pity’ displayed by those free from physical impairment.  At this point, I began to reflect on my own behavior and feel ashamed of myself; I inwardly pledged to be ‘fair’ and be on an equal footing with the disabled while offering my full support.

But what struck me the most, among other things, were the elements of ‘dignity and respect.’
To what extent we should respect others’ will and decision, especially when the decision that one has reached is heartbreaking, dire, and bleak which you’d want to defy by doing everything in your power. 
But then, what do we do about their dignity? Should we defy their decision against their will just because we want them to live, knowing all too well how tormented and agonized they have been?

This book is no doubt thought-provoking. It really made me THINK and ponder on such issues.
For that reason alone, I’m really glad that I read this book.

However, I did have some issues with this book particularly at the beginning of the book.
Firstly, the financial situation of Lou’s family. I did understand it would be difficult for her mother to go out to work while taking care of her father, but the situation where the entire family is dependent on Lou’s income felt a bit of a stretch and contrived.
Secondly, the mocking tone that her family employs when addressing the disables. I personally found it disrespectful and put me off a little bit. That said, however, as I went deeper into the story and all the emotional element creeps in, such issues became inconsequential. I came to adore Lou’s family despite all the bickering over petty grievances.
Thirdly, the romance. I initially found the romance between Lou and Will unnecessary. This story is already pregnant with meaning and emotionally provoking without having the romance element thrown in. I didn’t want this book to end up being another typical, tear-jerker love story where the romance completely overshadows everything that has been nicely built up.
That said, once again, it ended up needless fear. It develops quite nicely and the pacing is perfect. Not too slow, not too fast. Through the witty, a bit sarcastic banter, Lou and Will gradually forge a strong friendship that would later evolve into love. They have become indispensable to each other’s life. If anything, it was this romance element that made the ending incredibly haunting, heart-wrenching and beautiful, highlighting the best six months that they lived together.

The epilogue broke my heart to bits. I sobbed, sobbed and sobbed. I literally cried my eyes out.
Deep down, I think I saw this coming.  Nevertheless, there was definitely another part of me screaming and desperately wishing for the alternate consequence, where everything will be happy and hopeful.
The emotional connection by vicariously living the last six months with the two main characters was much more raw and stronger than I had expected.
I swear that I felt for Lou; the hole in the heart, the memories that were shared – they literally ripped my heart in two.

It is, needless to say, poignant, heartbreaking. Simply sad.
But I don’t think this book is all about grief, nor do I think the morbid, negative point of views and thoughts involving the disabled was what the author wanted to convey in this book. I definitely felt resilience in there.

This is a haunting yet breathtakingly beautiful story of life and respect for human life.
An unforgettable love story that sprang and blossomed between two souls.

It left me in a complete sobbing mess, but I am so glad that I finally read this.
Hands down 5 stars from me – I absolutely love this book.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Met Rishi

 

The arranged marriage YA romcom you didn’t know you wanted or needed…

Meet Dimple.

Her main aim in life is to escape her traditional parents, get to university and begin her plan for tech world domination.

Meet Rishi.

He’s rich, good-looking and a hopeless romantic. His parents think Dimple is the perfect match for him, but she’s got other plans…

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works even harder to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

As joyfully refreshing as Rainbow Rowell, Jenny Han and Nicola Yoon, When Dimple Met Rishi is a frothy, funny contemporary romance told from the dual perspectives of two Indian American protagonists. While Dimple is fighting her family traditions, Rishi couldn’t be happier to follow in the footsteps of his parents – could sparks fly between this odd couple, or is this matchmaking attempt doomed to fail?

‘Menon wrote an utterly delightful novel and broke my heart by writing an ending because I want nothing more than to keep reading about Dimple and Rishi forever . . . I’m looking forward to it being a huge hit of 2017.’ (Book Riot)

 


 

This is one of my most anticipated reads in 2017 and I am glad that I finally got around to actually reading it.

This is basically a cute YA romcom with a solid main plot where two young Indian Americans, Dimple and Rishi, meet for an arranged marriage which Dimple initially adamantly refuses, but then gradually fall in love with each other.

First, let’s talk about the writing; it’s very simple and straightforward yet it possesses a strong ‘draw’ that pulls the readers into the story and keeps them engaged throughout the book. Once you pick up the book, you want to read non-stop. Short chapters also make this book a fast-paced page turner, it’s pretty unputdownable.
Her sense of humor is also wonderfully displayed in her writing. In particular, the first 10 chapters or so are Oh So HILARIOUS. It’s been a while since I laughed over a book so hard – I don’t know what it is, but her diction and the choice of words amplify the hilarity even more and hit right at my funny bones, making me completely cracked up.
Not only being funny and hilarious, like I said, her flair in evocative writing is apparent; The main two characters’ inner conflicts, nervousness, concerns, hurt, dejection and joy are well reflected in the writing, making this book emotionally engaging.

The characters are interesting and well fleshed out, too. Although some of the subcharacters seemed underdeveloped and didn’t leave much of an impact, the fundamental differences in the two main characters – Dimple and Rishi – and their family’s characteristics are well-developed. Especially, the stark contrast in Dimple and Rishi’s beliefs and perspectives toward tradition, culture, and gender role in society give the book a lot more depth, I was curious to know how and when their paths ever cross and how they develop themselves as the story goes.

Personally, I found Dimple a bit unrelatable; she’s really goal-oriented, independent, and unconventional. She knows what she really wants in life and is full bent on getting it no matter what. Despite her mother’s wish for her getting married young, she aspires to leave her mark in the world as an App developer and shows absolutely no interest and even thinks that’s exactly what gets in her way. With her little respect to her culture and tradition she was born in, I found it a bit difficult to fully connect with her. She seemed a bit too selfish at least to me.
On the other hand, Rishi is incredibly mature and accepting. As opposed to Dimple, he accepts his role and obligations as the first son and show respects to everything he’s surrounded with – to his parents, to the culture, tradition, etc, etc. Most importantly, he is gentle and so adult in the way he handles things. Although he is born to a wealthy family, he isn’t reduced to be a despicable, stuck-up show off. When he displays his opulence, he does so for good cause. And this is the quality that makes Rishi an endearing, relatable character that you want to cheer on.
They seem completely different and would never get along, but what they have in common is their passion; Dimple’s for coding and Rishi’s for comics. They are both really talented yet Rishi is resigned that he has to ditch his dream to be a comic artist knowing it’s not what his parents want.

The chemistry between these two main characters, especially how the dynamics shift as they develop their friendship is such a joy to read. As they keep hanging out together and working on their project for Insomnia Con, the love starts to blossom despite Dimple’s initial rejection, and she finds herself gradually drawn to Rishi and feels comfortable in his company.
This transition is done in a very subtle, gradual way and it speeds up as the story develops. It may come across predictable, yet it doesn’t spoil the fun. The whole romantic scenes are just heart-melting and even sensual. They are simply breathtaking and beautifully written, striking a perfect balance with a healthy dose of sweet romance. It’s romantic, but not overly sugary nor saccharine. Simply swoony, gentle and beautiful. I enjoyed it a lot.

That said, there are some parts that I found sloppy in the latter half.
Basically, Dimple’s oscillating feelings toward Rishi and her reservations are well depicted and pretty gripping, but some scenes felt a bit of a letdown.
For instance, the talent show, a part of Insomnia Con competition falls into this category. Given the amount of pages spent leading up to this event, given all the fuss that has been made up to this point, the very scene, the talent show sequence is way too short and underdeveloped. It was like starting a minute ago and then finishes in the brink of an eye. That’s how I felt about the scene and I found myself quickly losing interest.
The ensuing scenes also came across too neat and convenient.
What’s supposed to be a moving reconciliation-followed-by-a-big-confession felt too predictable and generic. The change in Ashish’s perspective toward Rishi arrives too quickly, not convincing enough. How could the long-sitting sibling hostility be solved so easily??
I understand Ashish became pretty opened up to Dimple, but he wasn’t to Rishi, he hasn’t lowered his defensive guard against his big brother completely. In this regard, I felt it a bit too convenient and dull.

From then onwards, it kind of felt like a sandwich made of sloppy, too convenient scenes and moving, amazing cute scenes. You have a very convenient, clichéd scene where things go way too beautifully and then the next minute you have a very touching, engrossing scene where you find yourself on the edge of your seat; eager to find how the story unfolds.
These two come almost alternatively which is probably the reason why I got to stick to the book till the end. I seriously thought this book would only go south from the talent show scene that I mentioned above.

But you can rest assured; this book probably won’t disappoint you.
The exhilarating, cute, moving moments are in store for you in the end.
It’s kind of predictable and a bit dramatic, but again, it hangs in the perfect balance; it doesn’t come across overly dramatic nor too sweet, it won’t gross you out.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this. Despite some issues, flaws, and loopholes this book has, it is quite an enjoyable, cute YA romcom.
I appreciate this book being written by an Indian author and is about an Indian American boy and a girl. It brings diversity to a potentially typical YA romcom book and provides us with a glimpse of Indian culture. I bet you’ll find it interesting and refreshing, too.

If you are into cute, YA contemporary books, I recommend you pick this up.
In my eyes, this book lives up to the hype and is worth you time.
I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Paige’s Turn by Jennifer Peel

Paige's Turn

Paige’s Turn

 

With the encouragement of her beloved Aunt Mitzi, plain and overlooked Paige James left her hometown of Bella Port ten years ago and never looked back. But free-spirited Aunt Mitzi had plans for Paige to stop being pushed into the background. Those plans included leaving Paige as sole heir to her fortune and owner of her bookstore, Paige’s Turn. Begrudgingly, Paige returns home to fulfill her aunt’s last wishes, no longer the girl who’d left in baggy jeans and an ill-fitting t-shirt.

Paige discovers, though, that Mitzi’s last wishes include a lot of meddling in her love life. From the grave, and with the help of some friends, Mitzi has set out to make sure Paige and Bella Port’s most eligible bachelor, Sam Kennedy, find true love together. What Mitzi didn’t foresee is the firestorm and gossip she created that paints Paige as a swindler and liar, leaving Sam to wonder about the grown woman Paige has become. It doesn’t help when Paige fires him after their first meeting. But as friendship blossoms between Paige and Sam, they find each other hard to resist.

Was Mitzi right about the two of them? Will Paige finally have her turn?

 


 

This is a cute, quick read.  For being such a slim book with only 225 page count, it’s got pretty solid story line and subplots in there. It touches on life, relationships, the struggles in a dysfunctional family and romance. The author did a pretty decent job of squeezing all those elements into this little book.

That being said though, there isn’t nothing particular in this book that makes this book stand out. I did enjoy reading this, it’s pretty unputdownable once you start reading, but I had some issues with the plot.

Firstly, the story. The whole ‘once insignificant ugly duck later turns into a stunningly beautiful swan and astonishes everyone who once scowled at her’ type of trope is pretty predictable and I could spot how the story would unfold from miles away.
Being predictable is in fact OK with me. It in a way gives you some reassurance that things will eventually look up in the end and I tend to see it as comfort food, but Mitzi’s persistent, meddlesome intervention put me off a little bit.
Once or twice could be tolerated, it was touching indeed, but it came across a bit forceful to me and I didn’t appreciate it that much.

The whole plot seemed a bit too expedient and plain-sailing too. The ’10 years-later’ part kicks off pretty nicely introducing the rift between Paige and her family after Paige’s inheritance of Mitzi’s money. Sam’s drastic, rather disturbing change of attitudes towards Paige worked really well and pulled me in the story, making my heart ache a bit.  But the reconciliation with Darren arrives too early in the story and the family issues didn’t come across deep-rooted either. Her mother’s antagonism against Paige which is a prominent element in this story wasn’t convincing nor did the reasoning that Mitzi and her father gave to Paige feel strong enough to drive a deep wedge in the family. It felt kind of forced and a bit of a stretch.

That said though, there are a lot of emotional, rewarding moments throughout the book.
My favorite moment is definitely the shift in the dynamics between Paige and her sister, Maggie. They were both kind of aloof and they never felt they knew each other well, but once the confession made by Maggie’s husband sheds a light to what Paige is really like – making Maggie come to her senses that Paige is not as black as they painted her – they get bonded and start forging a strong sisterhood. This is undeniably one of the highlights in this story; it is such a delight to read how all the misconceptions and misunderstandings about Paige gradually get straightened out.

As a protagonist, Paige seemed a bit weak. She is liberal, independent and mentally strong and darn attractive (her beauty and grace is well showcased), but her character doesn’t seem to possess the ‘draw’ that pulls me in. There are scenes that she displays her strength and compassion for others and I loved reading her finally letting out all the feelings that she has bottled up inside whenever she channels her aunt Mitzi, but other than that, I didn’t get to connect with her emotionally.  That said, it doesn’t affect the way I looked at the story at all. I enjoyed reading it just the same.

As for the romance between Paige and Sam… I can’t find words to describe this other than to say, ‘swoony.’ The opening scene in the tree house is simply stunning. A teenage crush on her big brother’s best friend, a kiss on the cheek – it seems typical, but for me, it’s enough to make my heart do cartwheels.
Their attraction towards each other is pretty palpable right from the beginning; we can easily spot the sparks running between them and anticipate the distance between them getting closer and closer by the minute, but it actually develops really slowly and the situation sometimes gets in the way and makes them push each other away, which frustrated me in a pleasant way. It was almost tantalizing.

Reading this book made me realize what a sucker I am for romance books.
Despite some issues and flaws that I mentioned earlier, I still enjoyed reading this. My gut-feeling wouldn’t go so far as to declare my abiding love toward this book due to a bit too beautiful ending, but I liked it enough.
If you are into this genre, or as big a sucker for being addressed as ‘princess’ as I am, then this book is for you – you’ll be sure to enjoy this 🙂
I gave this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.

My Sweet Revenge by Jane Fallon

My Sweet Revenge

 My Sweet Revenge

 

■Synopsis <Excerpt from Goodreads>

I want to make my husband fall back in love with me.

Let me explain. This isn’t an exercise in 1950s wifeydom. I haven’t been reading articles in old women’s magazines. ‘Twenty ways to keep your man’. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

I want him to fall back in love with me so that when I tell him to get the hell out of my life he’ll care. He won’t just think, ‘Oh good’.

I want it to hurt.

Paula has had Robert’s back since they got together as drama students. She gave up her dreams so he could make it. Now he’s one of the nation’s most popular actors. And Paula’s just discovered he’s having an affair.

She’s going to remind Robert just what he’s sacrificing. And then she’s going to break his heart like he broke hers. It will be her greatest acting role ever.

Revenge is sweet. Isn’t it?

 

■ My Thoughts

I was a bit ambivalent about this book in the beginning; it’s got a strong introduction, but the middle part felt a bit slowed and drag. It was the very last part of the book that made me had a change of heart. The remaining 100 pages to be more precise.

This book opens up with what I found a very strong first chapter where Paula finds her husband having an affair for God knows how long with Saskia, a co-starr for the show who ironically plays the role of Robert’s wife in the show.
This revelation (confession) part was really well done. Paula’s shock and devastation definitely registered and left a strong impression on me. I had a good feeling about this book.
However, the whole ‘revenge’ plot felt a bit hackneyed, immature and even over-the-top. Teaming up with Saskia’s husband who happens to be the producer of the drama and tweaking/rewriting the character settings/plot for the drama just in order to get even with them didn’t sit well with me. It even felt a bit unrealistic and implausible. I must admit I was a bit put off by it.

The middle part felt a bit plain and redandunt, too. In Part two, we start to follow the story from two POVs, one of Paula as in Part 1 and another of Saskia’s. The story is told by the very two people in the middle of the mess, you’d think things would only get interesting and entertaining. But for me, it didn’t work that way. Partially, it did. But I was just kind of along for the ride, I wasn’t emotionally stirred that much.

That being said though, there are some very strong scenes that totally entertained me. For instance, I enjoyed reading how Paula’s attempts to hold ‘bonding’ sessions with Robert to rekindle the flame of love fall through, how her attempts to carry a conversation like the old times fall flat by Robert’s curt one-word responses. I personally found it really well-done. Felt very realistic.
I also adore the unexpected waft of romance between Josh and Paula that springs from their concoction of revenge schemes; as time goes by their dynamics change and start to form a strong bond after the initial shock of their spouses’ affair. It was pretty heart-tingling and made me want to read MORE of this side of the story.

The author did a good job of developing totally different voices of Paula and Saskia. As I mentioned earlier, we start to follow those two voices from Part 2 and get to the bottom of things what is really going on.
Paula’s voice is compliant and down-to-earth while Saskia’s reflects her conceited, bitchy personal traits. I’m not usually good at following multiple perspectives (as you can guess), but their voices are so disctinct that I didn’t get confused for once.  I particularly enjoyed following Saskia’s POV; she thinks she’s got the upper hand over Paula and that she wraps Paula around her finger, but in actuality… I won’t reveal the plot, but it’s glorious.

There’s not much to say about the characters, but Paula’s self-development was a joy to read. She used to be one of those who loathes any form of physical exertions, but with a strong resolve to get a revenge on Robert and Saskia, she engages herself in walking/running and even signs up for a gym. In the process, she becomes comfortable with her physique and gains confidence in herself. Character developments is definitely my thing; I loved that.

This book is basically unpredictable. Despite a bit lackluster middle-part, there are some surprising twists and turns of events scattered throughout the book. It’s like having a huge twist coming when you start to feel bored. Twist after twist after twist. I would probably have been on the verge of giving up on this book had there not been this sense of suspense; that was what kept me going and I am glad that I persevered. The last twist coming in the last 30 pages was totally engrossing, immersive. That sucked me in the story and made me flip-flop my mind about this book.

With a brilliant, rewarding ending, I decided to push up my rating from 3 to 3.75 out of 5 stars. What kind of rating is this, you think? But I’m still debating whether to give this book 4 stars…

A Lady of High Regard by Tracie Peterson

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■Synopsis (Excerpt from Goodreads)

Born into affluence, Mia Stanley is a winsome socialite with a knack for matchmaking. She’s also a writer for Godey’s Lady’s Book magazine, much to the disdain of her family and their society friends. A proper young lady of her social standing isn’t meant to labor in such a way, but Mia has always had a way with words…

When her writing draws her into the world of downtrodden seamen’s wives on Philadelphia’s docks, Mia uncovers a scheme that puts her in harm’s way. But her heart ends up on the line as well…. Has her determination to always make a match driven away the one man whose esteem she covets?

 


I haven’t been able to process my feelings toward this book just yet. I don’t particularly adore this book but it’s not like I HATE it, either. I’m kind of being in the middle, if you like.

This is a typical romance story which sets somewhere in the 19th Century. The protagonist, Mia is born to a wealthy family,  she is a ‘Lady of High Regard. She loves acting as a matchmaker and tries to find his best friend, Garrett a suitable wife.

My first impression on this character setting was:
‘Well, that sounds pretty much like Emma by Jane Austen.’ 
I have never read the book. I have only watched the movie adaptation, but I thought Mia’s character setting is quite similar to the one of Emma from the first moment when I found out what kind of woman Mia is.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t relate to Mia as much. I know she is an amiable, compassionate woman yet she also comes across a feisty, headstrong young woman and her naivety and imprudence really put me off.
I do think it’s really nice and commendable of her to try to save seamen’s wives out of their plight despite knowing she is well out of bounds. Nevertheless, I was almost sick of her repeatedly (again, REPEATEDLY) making stupid, reckless, impetuous decisions.
One minute she pledges to her father that she would seek wise counsel and the next minute she acts recklessly in the heat of passion, blindly believing that she can only solve the problem.

As for the story where two old best friends growing up as a brother and a sister finally recognizes their feelings toward each other, I find it interesting yet a bit predictable and old. It was good that it’s got some suspenseful twists to it, but the pacing -as far as the romance goes – was incredibly slow and a bit irritating.
The number of interruptions really threw me off; whenever either of the main two characters tries to confess their love, the interruption comes. I could tolerate it if it were once or twice, but this many???  It does serve to make it more suspenseful and I did want to know how it would play out, but I was a bit frustrated and wanted to cry, “Come on, you two, forget the propriety and blurt it out already!”
On that point, I think it was successful.

Generally the characters didn’t leave much big of an impact on me, neither do the story line.
Oh, but I love Mia’s father a lot. He is an epitome of words of wisdom. I particularly liked the lesson he gives his reckless daughter Mia, such as:

I fear that if you do not learn moderation and learn to temper your responses, however, that you’ll find yourself sorely misused, if not dead.

Meanwhile she’ll stew and fret over what she’s said and done. It will serve her right.

Those remarks made me laugh out loud – what better sermon could there possibly be? He said exactly what I wanted to say to Mia. I love that man.

All in all, I enjoyed reading this. It didn’t grab me as strongly as I had hoped, but I did enjoy reading their slow budding love and I must admit the repetitive misunderstanding between Mia and Garrett hooked me.

As the setting suggest, the writing is rather formal which is reminiscent of Classic literature, but it’s not so arcane, it’s simple enough to get through.
If you are up for light-hearted, classic-ish romance book, you might enjoy this.

I’ll give this book 3 out of 5 stars.