Friday, 30 August 2019

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang - Book Review


The Bride Test is the latest release from Helen Hoang. I absolutely adored her debut, The Kiss Quotient (you can read me gushing about it here), and I knew I was in for a treat when I picked up her next book.

In this novel, we follow the story of Esme and Khai. Khai is autistic and believes that he is incapable of loving others. While Esme initially thinks that participating in a quasi-arranged marriage with Khai may solve all of her problems, she finds herself truly falling in love. As they get to know each other, Esme longs to convince Khai that there is more than one way to love.

This book was exactly what I had hoped it would be. Sweet, sexy, and heartwarming. Khai was a loveable character, and I could picture him easily in my mind as I was reading. Watching Khai be romantic, while having absolutely no idea that he is doing so, is my favourite part of this book.

Esme shines so much in this story, it's hard to believe she almost wasn't the protagonist! (Be sure to read the author's note at the end for the full story.) With only a few options in front of her, Esme stands up for herself and her values, even if that means not always choosing the path that seems easy. I really admired this about her.

While The Kiss Quotient may still be my favourite Helen Hoang book so far, The Bride Test is an excellent follow up, and it looks like Quan's story (The Heart Principle) is coming in 2020!

xo
Jenn

Disclaimer - I received a complementary copy of The Bride Test from Penguin Random House Canada to review. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own. 

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Well-Read Black Girl by Glory Edim - Book Review



Seeing yourself in a book is such a gift. The moment you read a passage and instantly feel validated or less alone is powerful. More than once, I've reread sentences, paragraphs, and even whole pages because the author was able to put into words exactly how I felt. However, this feeling doesn't come around with the same frequency for everyone.

Well-Read Black Girl is an essay collection of Black women writers reflecting on how they found themselves in literature, how certain pieces of work guided them through childhood and adolescence, and how the words of others inspired them to write as well. It was born from Glory Edim who created the @wellreadblackgirl community on Instagram.

Well-Read Black Girl is small but mighty. I was introduced to so many authors, playwrights, poets, and titles I'd never heard of before. My formative years were vastly different than the women in this book, so reading this collection for me was eye-opening and reminded me how reading can be a powerful act of empathy to learn about others.

As an educator, I firmly believe that it is important for both children and adults to be able to connect with the texts they are reading, and this essay collection reaffirms that we need to ensure that young readers have a wide-range of books at their fingertips. You never know which book is going to connect with which reader, and it is important for them to read about and reflect upon the experiences of others, as well.

Highly recommend!
xo
Jenn

Disclaimer - I received a complementary copy of this book courtesy of Penguin Random House Canada for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

The Bookshop on the Shore by Jenny Colgan - Book Review


Jenny Colgan is a go to for charming, heartwarming stories. I enjoyed The Bookshop on the Corner when it came out a few years ago, and dare I say I loved this one even more?

In The Bookshop on the Shore, you'll see some familiar faces from The Bookshop on the Corner (Nina, Lennox, and Surinder); however, this is a story about Zoe. Zoe is a single mom, struggling to make ends meet in London, England. When presented with the opportunity to move to Scotland and help out with Nina's travelling bookstore during the day, as well as work as a nanny in the evenings, she jumps at this opportunity. However, when she and her son Hari move into the old, majestic-but-falling-apart home where she will work, she realizes that she has her work cut out for her. Their mother disappeared, and they live with their father, who has no idea how to best manage their out of control behaviours. Additionally, she just doesn't have the same knack for selling books as Nina does.

That is the backdrop for a delightful story about the value of books. It's about how we find ourselves in books, about how books can protect us, and maybe even how books can help us heal.

Without spoiling anything, The Bookshop on the Shore has a lot to say about mental health, and especially children's mental health. I love that. I know there are challenges presented in this book that are very real dilemmas for many parents, and I think the messages delivered are important and wise.

The romance in this book is quite light, which I felt matched the story well. I was happy for the main focus to be elsewhere.

The Bookshop on the Shore is already available, and I highly recommend you pick up a copy at your favourite bookstore or library!

xo
Jenn

Disclaimer - I received a complementary copy of this novel from Harper Collins Canada. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Sunday, 4 August 2019

The Chocolate Maker's Wife by Karen Brooks - Book Review




The Chocolate Maker's Wife is the newest novel from Karen Brooks. Rosamund is sold into a sudden marriage by her mother and stepfather. Through this bargain, she is able to leave her abusive home, but what awaits her next? While she tries to navigate her new role as Lady Blithman, she is also given the opportunity to learn and work in her husband's new and exclusive chocolate house. However, she is quickly enmeshed into the Blithman family drama. Set in 1660s London, England, Rosamund is not only fighting for her future, but also her life.

I had such high hopes for this one, but The Chocolate Maker's Wife left me feeling conflicted. I liked it, but I didn't love it, and some things I didn't like at all.

What I liked:
  • I loved learning about the history of chocolate.
  • I always enjoy novels that have a romantic thread woven into the story.
  • There are some timely viewpoints in here on religious tolerance, race, and the role of women.
  • For me, what truly rescues this book is its historical setting. The second half of the 1600s was a tumultuous time in London as it overcomes the plague and the Great Fire, and it was interesting to read a novel set during these catastrophic events.

What I didn't like so much:

  • I wasn't overly in love with any of the characters.
  • The writing. Mark Twain has a great quote, "Don't use a five-dollar word when a fifty-cent word will do." and I think the author could have used that advice on multiple occasions in this book. I understand that part of it is that language evolves over time, but there were many phrases where the word choice felt distracting, unnecessary, and, at times, jarring, rather than authentic.

If you think the writing wouldn't bother you, then I'd say this is a book to pick up at the library rather than purchase to keep. It's available later this month.

But that cover and title though...😍😍

xo
Jenn

Disclaimer - I received a complementary copy of this book courtesy of Harper Collins Canada for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

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