Tag: Jojo Moyes

Feb 08

Bite Size Reviews: February 2016

Bite Size Reviews 6

Greetings Bookworms!

It’s still winter. I KNOW. Why do I live in a place where winter happens? I’m a creature of habit, I guess. That, and I’m not sure how I’d handle living in a climate of perpetual summer. It would be like in The Age of Miracles (review) where it they’d have super long stretches of sunshine and it threw off everyone’s circadian rhythms. Would I even know how to summer if I hadn’t gone through my annual bear phase? Probably not. But you can see where my head is at, right? Obviously I can’t be expected to write coherent book reviews. Today we’re going quick and dirty, folks. Let’s eat some cookies.

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The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen- From time to time I like to read young adult fiction of the dystopian/fantasy/science fiction variety. I’ve been kind of meh on the genre lately, though, so it took something of a catalyst to encourage me to pick up this novel. Honestly? I picked up The Queen of the Tearling solely because Emma Watson will be playing the lead role in the upcoming film version. This is what she had to say about it:

“I had kind of said I would never do a franchise again, so I was desperate to hate it,” Watson says to Wonderland. “Unfortunately, I didn’t sleep for about a week because I couldn’t put the bloody thing down. It would be fair to say I became obsessed with the role and the book. Now I am executive-producing it.” – Emma Watson in Wonderland Magazine

I’m not quite as enthusiastic about it as our erstwhile Hermione is, but I will definitely be continuing with the series. I’m interested to see how this develops.

If You Find This Letter: My Journey to Find Purpose Through Hundreds of Letters to Strangers by Hannah Brencher This was a book club read, which I never would have picked up on my own, mostly because it was filed in the Christian section. It’s a memoir and not super religious, but it definitely deals with the author’s struggles with finding God. I didn’t love it, but it wasn’t really any religious angle that got to me. It was just a little overwrought for my taste. This girl was sweet, but so impossibly earnest. Every little thing turned into a deep philosophical moment. I get depressed when I get too far inside my own head, so I have a low tolerance for this sort of navel gazing. Just not a great fit for my personality. It might be a winner for you, though! (See? I feel guilty about not liking it because the girl seemed really nice. It’s not like she’s ever going to read my blog, for heaven’s sake. Ah well. In case she does, you seem lovely, Hannah. I’m sure you’ve made a difference to a lot of people who aren’t cranky, jaded, and snarky like me.)

The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes- This book. Jojo Moyes has proven time and time again that she knows how to get in there and toy with my emotions. Heart wrenching and infuriating by turns, The Last Letter from Your Lover had me shrieking in anguish… In the best way. Lost love, missed connections. Gaaaah! Jojo, you saucy minx, I can’t even with you sometimes!

Alright Bookworms, tell me. Have any of you picked up a book just because of some buzz around the movie version?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Jan 19

Bite Size Reviews: Jan 2016 Edition

Bite Size Reviews 8

Greetings Bookworms!

I’ve been reading more than I’ve been blogging lately, and believe it or not, I’ve been reading things OTHER than Harry Potter. Of course, Harry Potter is so SOUL CONSUMING that I didn’t feel like discussing anything else. Today we’re going to play catch up and take a quick look at some of my recent reads.

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Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson: I feel like a turd for throwing this into a mini review because I love The Bloggess and I wanted to dedicate a whole post to her. I mean, I love her enough to spend like 6 months worth of Amazon Affiliate commissions on her book. (You think I’m exaggerating, but my affiliate commission account currently has 16 cents in it. When I talk about small commissions, I mean smaaaaaaaaaall.) Of course, I left it so long between reading the book and talking about it, I’ve lost some of my brilliant insights. Mental illness is different for everyone who suffers, but Jenny Lawson tells her stories with such grace (it’s a relative term, okay?) and humor that on the rare occasion I couldn’t relate to an anecdote, I at least felt like I understood on some level. Lawson’s humor is bizarre and random, but I feel like she’s on my wavelength. If you’ve ever read and enjoyed her blog, definitely give her books (both of them!) a whirl.

Sheltering Rain by Jojo Moyes: I checked this bad boy out of the library digitally because that’s how I roll. What can I say? I felt like exploring the Jojo Moyes backlist because she is some kind of wonderful. Sheltering Rain delivered some serious emotional punch along with painfully gorgeous Irish scenery. I liked it, though not as much as some of her other books. I probably would have liked it more if I knew anything at all about horses. Or if the horses had been penguins. Only that would have been really weird because you can’t ride a penguin. Although, you guys remember Even Stevens? Louis wore a penguin jockey costume one Halloween episode. Man. Now THAT was a Disney Channel show.

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez: I’ve had this sitting on my kindle for FAR too long, but since it was a free download (there was some sort of rockin’ special once upon a time, I didn’t pirate it. I denounce all piracy that doesn’t involve parrots, eye patches, and sea chanties), I don’t feel too guilty about the procrastination. A family of four daughters immigrate to the US after being persecuted by a super scary secret police force in the Dominican Republic. The family were essentially the Kennedys of the Dominican Republic- they had money, power, and lived on a massive compound with a whole bunch of staff. When they came to the states, the story was COMPLETELY different. The book was all kinds of interesting and is ripe for the intellectual pickings. Unfortunately I’m not in a very intellectual mood, so I’ll just tell you that you ought to read it.

So, Bookworms. Whatcha reading? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a teeny tiny commission.*

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Nov 03

The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes

Historical Fiction, World War II 17

Ahoy Bookworms!

One of my favorite things about reading, particularly when I read historical fiction, is learning new things. I mean, you THINK you know all there is to know about WWII and its aftermath and BAM. Something new. Did you have any idea that enough Australian women married British service members to necessitate a post-war trip hauling 650+ war brides to England in an aircraft carrier? And that was just ONE of the ships. Thank you, Jojo Moyes, for teaching me these things. *And thanks to Netgalley for providing me with a complimentary copy of The Ship of Brides for review consideration.*

shipofbridesThe Ship of Brides focuses on four Australian war brides who are making the pilgrimage to England aboard the Victoria. Everyone on board (brides and crew) are held to strict behavioral standards. Let’s face it, attempting to keep hundreds of young brides who haven’t seen their husbands in ages (and who likely didn’t know them all that well to begin with) AND hundreds of young sailors who just finished fighting a war to keep their hands off each other was going to require some discipline, you know?

Margaret, Frances, Avice, and Jean end up being bunk mates. Margaret is enormously pregnant and facing a new life on a new continent with a husband she barely knows, AND motherhood. Jean is all of 16 years old. She’s flippant, flirty, and a bit of a party gal. Avice is an uber snob from a fancy schmancy family. She spends her time looking down her nose at everyone and making me want to smack her. Frances was a nurse during the war and has a past full of SECRETS, I tell you! These four are stuck together on a boat, sharing a tiny room, in equatorial heat for SIX WEEKS. I’ll let you imagine that cesspool for a minute and then try to figure out just how well they all got along, mkay?

So, you know I love Jojo Moyes. I’ve read and enjoyed Me Before You (review), The Girl You Left Behind (review), Silver Bay (review), and One Plus One (review). I liked The Ship of Brides overall… It’s just that my Jojo Moyes standards are SO HIGH. The book started out kind of slowly for me and I found it dragged a bit. Then all the juicy tidbits were stuffed into the last few pages. It’s a great story, I just thought the pacing could have been better. Still, if you like historical fiction, WWII, or Jojo Moyes, you should DEFINITELY check this out!

Talk to me Bookworms. Since this book takes place on a boat, why NOT talk about cruises? Have any of you been? Do you recommend them? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Maybe I’ll hoard the cash and buy a cruise.*

 

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Jul 03

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

Contemporary Fiction 11

Greetings Bookworms,

I’m pretty excited today. I get to tell you all about the latest Jojo Moyes novel AND tell a terrible (yet topical) joke. But first, the particulars. I received a complimentary copy of One Plus One from the publisher through Netgalley for review consideration. The fact that I didn’t pay for the book doesn’t compromise my integrity, y’all know I’m seriously lacking a filter. Case in point: A pirate walks into a bar. The bartender looks up and says, “Um, sir? There appears to be a steering wheel in your pants.” The pirate responds, “Arrr, it’s drivin’ me nuts!” (Ba du bum.) A large chunk of this book takes place in a car. A car with a STEERING WHEEL. I promised it would be topical.

oneplusoneOne Plus One is one part social commentary, one part family drama, and one part road trip from hell. (Which equals three, which is problematic considering one of the main characters is a mathematical wizard, but I digress.) Jess spends her days cleaning houses and tending bar in a seaside town trying to make ends meet. Her husband left two years prior leaving Jess to care for her daughter and stepson alone.

Ed’s life was motoring along fairly smoothly (if you discount that gold digging ex-wife of his.) He was part owner of a successful software company until he entered into an ill advised relationship and got caught up in an insider trading scandal. (Apparently breaking up with someone via post-it only happens on Sex and the City, but it would have saved Ed a lot of trouble…)

Jess and Ed’s paths cross when he tries to escape his problems at his seaside vacation home. One thing leads to another, and Ed soon finds himself driving the rag tag clan (including one very large, very stinky dog) cross country to Scotland. (Because we started in England, obviously. Mentally switch the side the driver’s seat is on, okay?) Jess’s daughter is set to compete in an academic competition to earn a scholarship to an elite school. Given that the public school in their neighborhood harbors a family of ne’er-do-wells responsible for tormenting and hospitalizing her stepson, Jess is desperate to provide better for her daughter.

You know what happens next? Pretty much what you’d expect. Feelings. Family dynamics. A little bit of romance. A dash of stinky dog. A whole lot of lovely. I’ve yet to be let down by a Jojo Moyes book, and One Plus One is no exception. It would be a great road trip book, assuming you don’t get car sick and can travel at speeds faster than 40 mph.

Bookworms, I’ve got to know about your worst/craziest road trip. Tell me a story!

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Jun 09

Silver Bay by Jojo Moyes

Contemporary Fiction 24

G’Day Bookworms!

Have I ever told you how I spent my teen years obsessed with Australia? True story. I had not one, not two, but THREE famous Australian “boyfriends.” There was my Australian Rockstar Boyfriend (Daniel Johns, lead singer of Silverchair), my Australian Actor Boyfriend (Heath Ledger, may he rest in peace), my Australian Swimmer Boyfriend (Ian Thorpe, Olympic Gold Medalist. The Sydney Olympics happened at the start of my senior year, I typically don’t watch sports that don’t involve intentional back flips.) Why am I telling you this? My latest read encompassed two of my greatest loves, Australia and Jojo Moyes! When I saw that Jojo Moyes had a new title available on Netgalley, I simply HAD to have it. You’ll recall how much I loved Me Before You (review) and The Girl You Left Behind (review), so really, it was a match made in heaven Australia. *I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from the publisher through Netgalley. My good opinion cannot be bought with a book. It MIGHT be bought with a trip to Australia… Just saying.*

silverbaySilver Bay tells the story of the residents of a sleepy town in Australia, called (shocker) Silver Bay. 76 year old Kathleen runs a ramshackle hotel with her niece Liza and Liza’s daughter Hannah. Their major source of income is eco-tourism, as Silver Bay is famous for whale and dolphin watching expeditions. It’s not a glamorous existence, and everyone has their baggage, but mostly the residents of Silver Bay have been living there uninjured.

Mike Dormer is a high powered real estate developer in London. His company is working on a luxury resort, and he’s sent on a scouting mission to Silver Bay. Mike’s development poses a serious threat to the Silver Bay’s under-the-radar status, to say nothing of its potential disruption of the whale and dolphin watching industry. Drama ensues!

One of my favorite things about Moyes’s writing is the way she draws her characters. She gives them so much depth. The major sympathetic characters are flawed, the less sympathetic characters have glimmers of humanity. I was drawn into Silver Bay and didn’t want to leave. You don’t have to love Australia to enjoy Silver Baybut I challenge you to read Silver Bay and not fall in love with Jojo Moyes.

Tell me, Bookworms. Do any of you have an obsession with an exotic (or not so exotic) locale? I can’t be alone in this, can I?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Jul 25

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

Art, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance 31

Bonjour Bookworms!

Remember back when I read Me Before You and I was all agog over Jojo Moyes? Her upcoming release (August 20th!) was listed on NetGalley and I hit the “request” button so enthusiastically, I might have sprained my finger. Alright, that bit about the finger sprain is untrue, but I tend to get hyperbolic when I’m excited. As you saw right there, I am TERRIBLE AT LYING. Therefore, when I tell you that I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, you won’t question my integrity. 

The Girl You Left Behind is told from the perspectives of two different women, living decades apart, who are connected through a painting. The book begins in 1916, at the height of WWI. Sophie LeFevre finds herself living in her hometown in northern France with her sister, brother, niece, and nephew as her husband and brother-in-law fight in the trenches. The town has been occupied by German forces, and life is bleak. The German army has requisitioned food stores, supplies, furniture, and fuel. The local French population is on the brink of starvation, and they are completely cut off from the outside world. Sophie’s source of strength is a portrait her artist husband painted of her. Its beauty offers solace in a home that’s been stripped of its comforts. It represents a connection to Sophie’s beloved Edouard. Her intense expression reminds her in her weaker moments that she’s not a woman to be trifled with.

Cover.Girl You Left Behind

Olivia Halston lives in London in 2006. She is a young widow, and devastated by the loss of her husband. She draws her strength from a painting her husband purchased for her on their honeymoon. It depicts a woman with an intense expression who looks as though she could survive anything… A woman who happens to be Sophie LeFevre. (Dun dun dun!!!) As Liv’s tale unfolds, the origins of  the painting she so cherishes are called into question by a lawsuit. In order to defend her claim to the contested painting, Liv embarks on a journey of historical and personal discovery.

That’s all I’m telling you because I’m lazy and I don’t want to be Spoilerella today. I DEVOURED this book, you guys! Is historical fiction about art and personal discovery a genre unto itself? It should be. I would buy ALL THE BOOKS! This book reminded me of all my favorite historical fiction and art novels: The Girl in the Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland, Girl With a Pearl Earring and The Virgin Blue both by Tracy Chevalier, and The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan. It also reminded me of Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay what with the historical events and the modern day sleuthing to uncover the truth… Of course this was (overall) significantly less depressing than Sarah’s Key, so don’t be frightened away.

I was going to suggest that my authors get a thesaurus for their titles, because there are so many "The Girl..." going on. I just pulled up this lovely impressionist piece by Renoir, titled (ever so creatively) "A Girl." I should probably be blaming the painters...

I was going to suggest that my favorite authors consider getting a thesaurus for their titles, as they’re all so similar. Then I pulled up this lovely impressionist piece by Renoir, titled “A Girl.” I should probably be blaming the painters for the repetitive titles. (source)

Dear Jojo Moyes, please consider this your invitation to the imaginary slumber party I’m having with Diana Gabaldon and JK Rowling. That’s my super creepy way of telling you that your books are fabulous and I’m a big fan. Don’t worry, I’m way too lazy and not nearly crazy enough to actually stalk anyone. I just think you’re the bees knees, Jojo. And your name makes me want to sing Beatles songs.

Now, if you’ll excuse me while I get back to where I once belonged, tell me, Bookworms. Do you ever hang out in antique stores and just wonder what the stuff would tell you if it could talk? How DID those antique penguin salt and pepper shakers wind up in my curio cabinet?! I mean, sure I know that “Aunt” Shelly got them at a swap meet, but who had them first? I want to knoooooooow! Is this my own personal brand of eccentric or does anybody else play this game?  

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Jun 20

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Book Club, Contemporary Fiction, Family, Friendship, Psychological, Romance, Tear Jerkers, Travel 42

Good Day Bookworms!

Have you ever paid attention to the stuff you do every day? I’m not talking about the chores or the errands or the work. I’m talking physical stuff. Walking. Climbing stairs. Getting dressed. Bathing. Eating. Driving. Typing. What would you do if you couldn’t do ANY of that for yourself anymore? The thought probably makes you uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable. It makes me sad. It makes me feel guilty for being able bodied when others may not be, but extremely grateful for my independence.

I don’t typically give this line of thinking much attention, because it bums me out. However, several people recommended this book about a quadriplegic to me and I figured I’d give it a shot.  Somehow Jojo Moyes managed to make Me Before You devastating, uplifting, heart-wrenching, and heart-warming all at the same time. Don’t ask me how she pulled it off. The talents of authors are beyond me, but this one, THIS ONE got to me.

Me-Before-You-Cover_

Louisa Clark is a 28 year old girl living in an English tourist town that features a castle. She has spent several years working in a local cafe and is caught completely off guard one day when she’s told the cafe is going to close. Suddenly, Louisa finds herself out of work in a terrible economy. She has no college education (or, uh, University, as the British would say) and is qualified to do little more than work in a chicken processing plant, which is just exactly as gross as it sounds.

Louisa’s qualifications will allow her to be a “caregiver,” and it is one of the few positions available through the unemployment agency (which is called something different in England but it sounds like roughly the same thing.) She’s sent on an interview with no real idea of what’s in store for her. To her shock (in spite of an embarrassing skirt splitting incident during the interview) she lands a job helping to care for Will Traynor. Will was hit by a motorcycle while crossing a street. A serious mover and shaker in his previous life, Will has been without the use of any of his limbs for over 2 years. As you can imagine, he’s not too happy about it.

Louisa and Will don’t start off especially well, what with his intentionally trying to make her uncomfortable and all, but over time they grow rather fond of each other. Everything seems to be going pretty smoothly (or, at least, as smoothly as possible when catheters, muscle spasms, and infection are par for the course) when Louisa is hit with some dizzying news. I AM NOT GOING TO TELL YOU WHAT IT IS! But. The rest of the book is about Louisa trying to get Will to get out of his grumpy funk and have some adventures. Will is from a very wealthy family and was very successful before his accident, so the fact that he is practically a sommelier and has a penchant for evenings at the symphony come as no surprise. Apparently rich people are very fancy and predictable that way. No mention of cheeses. Pity.

Read this and your next long trek through the parking lot in the rain won't seem so inconvenient.

Read this and your next long trek through the parking lot in the rain won’t seem so inconvenient. (SOURCE)

I was not expecting to like this book. I thought it was going to be a complete downer, but, while there are some seriously sad elements, there are also some uplifting bits, and occasionally, it’s downright funny. Me Before You also raises some ethical conundrums that will leave you reeling. I’ve got so many FEELINGS, you guys! I want you to feel them too.

Bookworms, have any of you read Me Before You? What did you think? We can’t really discuss the elephant in the room because of SPOILERS, but we can talk about how much it sucks when people who don’t need it steal the disabled parking spots. That is some nasty karma y’all. I have many, many faults, but I never park in a handicapped space. I also return my shopping cart to the cart corral. Perhaps this will keep me from being reincarnated as a turd. How about you?

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