Friday, April 26, 2019

At the Wedding by Matt Dunn

3 Star

Livia’s been planning her wedding to Jed for ages. Now, at the venue in beautiful Barcelona, with her dress pressed and the guests all on their way, she’s only left one tiny detail until the last minute: letting the groom know he’s about to get hitched.

But as far as Jed’s concerned, they’ve been bumping along just fine for ten years and even have a baby on the way, so why spoil things with an ‘I do’? Especially when he’d really rather not.

Meanwhile the guests are arriving with plenty of baggage of their own. Fading reality star Liam’s still on the lookout for a plus-one; Rachel’s has refused to come—and dumped her into the bargain; and divorcee Patrick’s date is more of the ‘mid-life crisis’ variety.

But as the ceremony approaches, and with no sign of Jed, there’s only one thing on all of their minds: will there be a bride and groom at the wedding?

Kathryn - 3 Star

Truthfully as I was reading At The Wedding I was completely involved in the plot.  It was intriguing and eventful throughout and I sped through it.   But... it turned out mostly as you would expect which was a touch disappointing given the amount of suspense drawn into those couple of days.  

My other issue was that I think it was partially supposed to be fun (as well as heartfelt). While funny in parts I can't actually say I was laughing out loud and I think there may have been room for some more silliness and shenanigans given the scene.   I was also mildly concerned that I didn't really feel for the two main characters.  I found them frustrating and could not get on board with the hold up in getting married.   Perhaps this is because I am the marrying kind though and I should not expect others to be?

A good aspect was that I was as interested in the supporting characters as much as the main couple which is tricky to accomplish in a fast paced read and I appreciated that.  I like Matt Dunn's writing and overall felt that this novel was entertaining and provided some food for thought about how people's minds work.

Thank you to Lake Union Publishing for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Matt Dunn:
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Thursday, April 18, 2019

RX by Rachel Lindsay

4 Star

In her early twenties in New York City, diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Rachel Lindsay takes a job in advertising in order to secure healthcare coverage for her treatment. But work takes a strange turn when she is promoted onto the Pfizer account and suddenly finds herself on the other side of the curtain, developing ads for an antidepressant drug. She is the audience of the work she's been pouring over and it highlights just how unhappy and trapped she feels, stuck in an endless cycle of treatment, insurance and medication. Overwhelmed by the stress of her professional life and the self-scrutiny it inspires, she begins to destabilize and while in the midst of a crushing job search, her mania takes hold. Her altered mindset yields a simple solution: to quit her job and pursue life as an artist, an identity she had abandoned in exchange for medical treatment. When her parents intervene, she finds herself hospitalized against her will, and stripped of the control she felt she had finally reclaimed. Over the course of her two weeks in the ward, she struggles in the midst of doctors, nurses, patients and endless rules to find a path out of the hospital and this cycle of treatment. One where she can live the life she wants, finding freedom and autonomy, without sacrificing her dreams in order to stay well. 

Sabrina-Kate - 4 Star

I don't often read memoirs, nor do I really read graphic novels. This book has been hanging around on my side table for a couple months now, waiting for me to pick it up. For some reason it spoke to me, possibly because the author now lives in Burlington,Vermont, which is one of my favorite places.

It didn't take me very long to get through it, even with the time I stopped to peruse the drawings in more detail. I felt compelled to slow down and take my time with this book, probably partly because the art spoke to me on it's own but also partly because of the subject matter.

Mental illness is something I'm not very comfortable with, probably because I don't feel like I know enough about it but also because I know everyone's experience is, or can be, vastly different. I felt like I didn't understand where the author was coming from at times with her reactions but I also don't suffer from her disease and I also don't have to worry about health care coverage.

So this book opened my eyes about what this type of experience could be like and what challenges a person may go through. I really appreciated her candor and bravery in sharing something so very personal as it was most probably very difficult to do.

Thank you to Grand Central Publishing for our review copy.   All opinions are our own.

Connect with Rachel Lindsay:
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Friday, April 12, 2019

The Lost Carousel of Provence by Juliet Blackwell

4 Star

Long, lonely years have passed for the crumbling Château Clement, nestled well beyond the rolling lavender fields and popular tourist attractions of Provence. Once a bustling and dignified ancestral estate, now all that remains is the château's gruff, elderly owner and the softly whispered secrets of generations buried and forgotten.

But time has a way of exposing history's dark stains, and when American photographer Cady Drake finds herself drawn to the château and its antique carousel, she longs to explore the relic's shadowy origins beyond the small scope of her freelance assignment. As Cady digs deeper into the past, unearthing century-old photographs of the Clement carousel and its creators, she might be the one person who can bring the past to light and reunite a family torn apart. 

Kathryn - 4 Star

This novel drew my eye because of the title.  How does one lose a carousel exactly?   I am quite a sucker for historical fiction and so this seemed like a natural fit for me.  I also quite like novels that cover two time frames because I enjoy waiting to fill in of the pieces and the multi character plot lines.  

The character development in The Lost Carousel was mostly in the present and the past was used to unravel the present preoccupations.  In actual fact though I didn't become drawn into the people for quite a long time in this book- was more interested in the financial intrigue and present implications for the family at the center.   I liked Cady but she didn't really form the central plot.  The central plot was the castle for me as I was drawn into its' rooms,  the history and the stories it told. The building's history was what made me turn the pages.   

If that's not your deal then maybe this isn't the novel for you as it's perhaps a bit slow moving?  But I was fascinated!

Thank you to Berkley Publishing for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Juliet Blackwell:
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Friday, April 5, 2019

I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella

2 Star

Fixie Farr has always lived by her father’s motto: “Family first.” But since her dad passed away, leaving his charming housewares store in the hands of his wife and children, Fixie spends all her time picking up the slack from her siblings instead of striking out on her own. The way Fixie sees it, if she doesn’t take care of her father’s legacy, who will? It’s simply not in her nature to say no to people.

So when a handsome stranger in a coffee shop asks her to watch his laptop for a moment, Fixie not only agrees—she ends up saving it from certain disaster. Turns out the computer’s owner is an investment manager. To thank Fixie for her quick thinking, Sebastian scribbles an IOU on a coffee sleeve and attaches his business card. But Fixie laughs it off—she’d never actually claim an IOU from a stranger. Would she?

Then Fixie’s childhood crush, Ryan, comes back into her life and his lack of a profession pushes all of Fixie’s buttons. She wants nothing for herself—but she’d love Seb to give Ryan a job. And Seb agrees, until the tables are turned once more and a new series of IOUs between Seb and Fixie—from small favors to life-changing moments—ensues. Soon Fixie, Ms. Fixit for everyone else, is torn between her family and the life she really wants. Does she have the courage to take a stand? Will she finally grab the life, and love, she really wants?

Kathryn - 2 Star

I'm a fan of Sophie Kinsella and I've come to expect certain things from her novels- a few really good laughs, empowerment of our main character and strong relationships.  Unfortunately this one did not deliver for me.  

I suppose I somewhat liked Fixie but I was immensely frustrated most of the read which made me slightly dislike her too.   While I understood that Fixie was herself a work in progress, was learning to find her voice and stand up for herself,  I didn't really want to dislike all the other characters in the novel quite as much as I did!  They were almost universally horrendous and as far as I could tell there wasn't really a good reason for it except gross selfishness.  Fixie seemed much smarter than the rest and this doormat behaviour just didn't mesh for me with the rest of her personality.  She was single-handedly trying to run and revive her family business so obviously she was someone with power in there somewhere?   I was also most frustrated by their mother who seemed to have picked a favored child based on nothing?  (Not that one should have a favourite of course but at least choose the one that is kind and loving?).  I couldn't even get on board with the romance in the novel- it was truly confusing.

I fear I am being overly judgmental, I do apologize, but I just did not get out of this novel what I had been hoping for or expecting.  I will, of course, read any Sophie Kinsella that passes my way and likely this is a one off set of feelings from of my favourites.

Thank  you to Random House for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Sophie Kinsella:
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