Book Review: Friend of the Family by Tasmina Perry

Title: Friend of the Family
Author: Tasmina Perry
Publisher: Headline Review
Date: September 20th, 2018
Pages: 384
Format: Physical ARC
Source: from Publisher for a review

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): 

You trust your friend, so you’d trust her daughter. Wouldn’t you…?

When an old university friend gets in touch with a request for work experience for her daughter, magazine editor Amy agrees. Twenty-year-old Josie walks into Amy’s office, moves into the basement of her Notting Hill house and is soon helping out with her children after Amy’s nanny is hit by a car. It seems the natural thing therefore for Amy to invite Josie on the family’s annual to Provence. When a series of things start to go wrong in their luxurious villa, Amy begins to suspect that Josie isn’t quite the friendly presence she appears. But when no one, not even her husband believes her, she realises she will have to play Josie at her own game in order to expose her true intentions…

Review:

This year has been great when it comes to discovering to me new authors. Tasmina Perry is one of them.

I appreciate so much the chance I got to read and review Friend of the Family, because I really enjoyed this story, and I loved the writing style, and now I want to read more work by Tasmina Perry.

The story follows Amy who works in journalism, in a magazine called Verve.
One day she is contacted by her high school best friend, who asks her to take her daughter in for a week while she’s doing her internship.
One week turns into two, then two turns into even more, and Ivy feels like Josie (that’s the daughter) is trying to steal Amy’s life for herself.
There is no doubt someone is sabotaging Amy’s career and personal life, and Amy is determined to get some answers before it’s too late.

I’ll be honest with you: I didn’t make much effort when it comes to reading synopsis. No matter how cliche it sounds, I do like to go blind in books most of the time.
I’ll even choose to read someone else’s review before I’ll read synopsis, that’s how weird (especially for a book bloggers) I am.
Yet, somehow I end up reading good books most of the time (I pick up my reads by listening to my instinct, paying attention to authors and publishers, looking at the book covers (I think that is the most important aspect tbh) and observing my twitter and goodreads feeds).

When I started Friend of the Family, I though I was reading a thriller. However, after some time, it was clear to me this was not a thriller, but very interesting and fascinating work of general fiction.
It could also be tagged as women’s fiction, in my opinion.

As soon as I began reading I fell in love. The story talked about everything I wanted to read about in that moment: magazines, modern women, rivalry, fashion and different relationships between people.

I think I can safely say that I enjoyed reading every single page of it, and if it was 200 pages longer, I probably still couldn’t get enough.

People’s relationships and their reactions are what I love reading about the most, and this book is full of those complex themes.
I really, really loved observing everything, every character’s part in the story and their attitude to each other.

We have that aspect on one hand, and on the other hand there’s a plot driven story that will make you want to read, read, and read some more. 
I am a slow reader who reads mostly in the morning, and this book made me want to get up early so I could read more, squeeze at least few pages more from what I’d usually read.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and am so glad and thankful that I have read it.
I would recommend it to readers who like stories about successful people, relationships and rivalry, with little splash of mystery and thrills.

Advertisements

Two Short Book Reviews: Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card and Things That Happened Before the Earhquake

Last year and a half I was in a serious reviewing slump.
I read so many books with an intention to review them, but the more I postponed writing them, the less will to actually do write them I had.
Since I am obligated to review the books I requested, I decided to write short book reviews to tell you what I thought about them, and also to fullfil my duty.

 

Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card by Sara Saedi

Americanized is a non fiction piece of work, written by Sara Saedi, about her life and culture.
She is from Iran and when she was little, her family moved out to USA, but they did not have green cards. We follow Sara and her family through the journey to become USA legal citizens and their fear of being transported back to Iran.

This book is so educational. We learn a lot about Iran and Persian people and their culture.
Also, so many history facts were mentioned here and I can not tell you how grateful I am for reading this book.

In my country, we don’t learn anything about Iran in schools, and while reading, I have realized just how little (or non) I actually knew about anything that Iran people went through.
I was even shocked to learn some things and how life in Iran was before.

I think reading this book is really important to educate yourself. Even if you don’t feel like Iran or this kind of books interest you, it will help you understand their culture and where they come from, plus it will educate you about their history.

Things That Happened Before the Eartquake by Chiara Barzini

I remember loving this book while reading, although it did make me uncomfortable at times.
It is a piece of fiction based on true events.
I recall I loved the pop culture references that were present through the whole book, and how silly the story was at times.
I have also found my notes from when I was reading it, so I am bringing them to you right now:

First of all: although the main character of this novel is a teenager (16 to 17 through the period that the story covers) this is not a ya book.
I would classify it as general fiction set in 90’s.

The earthquake the title is references is the one that happened in 1994 in L.A.

This book has only 320 pages but it reads slowly. The reason – I blame the writing style that is full of tells and has so little shows, and even less conversations.

While reading I felt uncomfortable more then few times:
1. The way the main character Eugenia lost her virginity made me feel nervous because, in my opinion, she was sexually assaulted, even though she didn’t want to admit it to herself (WARNING: That scene can be triggering)
2. Eugenia’s prayers to Holy Mary where she talked about sex
3. Scenes with strong animal abuse were the worst to read about (but they had their meaning in this story).

Overall, a good, solid coming of age story that talks about finding a safe place and ourselves along the way, set 1990s when human life (in my humble opinion) was at it’s best.

Movie Monday: Set It Up

This week I watched an amazing, funny and romantic comedy Set It Up.
Few weeks ago I had no idea about this movie, but thanks to Youtube, now I have. You see, if I haven’t seen the trailer for it on Youtube (it was a commercial between videos that I clicked on to watch), I wouldn’t even know about Set It Up, and I surely wouldn’t watch it.

And I am so glad that isn’t the case. Set It Up is a feel good comedy that made me laugh out loud, enjoying almost every second of it.

I think Netflix is coming out with great movies so often now, and I welcome it. I hope they’ll continue.

The story follows two executive assistants who plan together how to set their bosses up so they could have more free time. Somewhere on the way, they start to like one another.

Fist of all, I loved the story. It was really good and fun.

Second of all, I loved the actors. Zoey Deutch played her role so well, Lucy Liu was amazing, and Glen Powell was the best. I love them all (especially Zoey).

Honesty, I wish there were more movies like this. I know some would say there are some that are similar, or have the similar atmosphere, but if you ask me, there aren’t enough of them.

Now when I saw Set It Up and enjoyed it so much, I can’t wait to see what else Netflix will prepare for us in the upcoming months.

 

Book Review: Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

Title: Surprise Me
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Publisher: Bantam Press, Penguin Random House UK
Date: February 8th, 2018
Pages: 368
Format: Physical
Source: Gifted

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): After being together for ten years, Sylvie and Dan have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, beautiful twin girls, and communicate so seamlessly, they finish each other’s sentences. They have a happy marriage and believe they know everything there is to know about each other. Until it’s casually mentioned to them that they could be together for another sixty-eight years… and panic sets in.

They quickly decide to create little surprises for each other, to keep their relationship fresh and fun. But in their pursuit of Project Surprise Me – anything from unexpected gifts to restaurant dates to photo shoots – mishaps arise with disastrous and comical results.

Gradually, the surprises turn to shocking discoveries. And when a scandal from the past is uncovered, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other after all…

Review:

Do you know why Sophie Kinsella is my favorite author?
Because she can take anything, and I mean ANY-FREAKING-THING and turn it into gold (figuratively speaking, of course, even though I think she wouldn’t mind if it was true).

Take this novel for example. Have you read it’s synopsis?
Young couple finds out they are healthy enough to spend another 68 years together.
What do they do?
They freak out, because they kinda (how would I say it right…) feel nervous to be in a marriage for that long, with only one person, have sex for another 68 years with only one person and to be annoyed occasionally with each other for another 68 years.
Haven’t they ever heard about divorce?
I guess that’s how it goes when you don’t have (or are not aware of) real problems in your life. You make the problem out of anything that’s going on in your life at that time.

This is what the first half of the book is about: Sylvie and Dan being afraid that they will bore each other with time, and making a new habit in their life: surprising each other (to avoid boredom).

It’s all fun and games until secrets start to reveal and Sylvie will ask herself does she really know her husband to the core, as she though she did.

When I read the synopsis of this book, no matter how silly it sounded (if I’m being completely honest) I have not doubted in Sophie Kinsella’s talent.
I have read every book by her except one (If you wonder, it’s The Undomestic Goddess), and honestly feel like she can write anything, and still make it interesting and funny.
So I had a feeling I would like this book, and I was more then right! 

I loved it, and it scored the place in my Top 3 favorite books written by Sophie (when you take a look how many novels she has written, it’s a pretty high achieve for a book).

The second part of the book is what made the story exceptional, it captured me with every page and I was invested with all my being to figure out what was going on.
This might sounds like I’m describing some kind of thriller or something, but it’s true. Even though this is not a suspense, nor it’s a thriller, it still thrills you, because there is so much going on, so many secrets you try to figure out along with Sylvie.

The end is what took this novel on a whole another level when it comes to Kinsella’s work.
I know some readers are not fans and it kinda ruined the story for them (because they probably expected jauntily adventure through the whole book), but I think it is the best end and it makes the book stand out.
I was moved by it, and I wouldn’t change one part of it.

The writing style (as usual) is perfect. As you probably know, her writing style is my favorite because it pulls you in, does not let go, and it’s interesting and fun at the same time.
I think many writers, when they start, try to reach the voice similar to hers (until they find their own voice) and it’s for a reason.
There is a reason why her books are loved by millions of people all over the world.

The characters in Surprise Me are interesting, to say the least.
They are all gray, and have many layers to them, and I appreciate it so much.
I feel like if I say who I liked the best and who I think it’s villain of the story, I’ll spoil the book for you, so I’ll keep quiet.
But I have to say I loved one side guy, a neighbour who’s name I forgot (Amanda please don’t kill me, I know he was your favorite, but my memory sucks!).

In the end, I want to recommend Surprise Me to all of you chick lit and women’s fiction lovers, because it is an amazing book and it would be a shame if you’d miss it.

At the very end, I want to thank my dear friend Amanda from ChocolatePages (she is an amazing blogger and you should all visit her blog)  for giving me her own copy of the book, because she knew I wanted to read it so much.

Book Review: The Anniversary by Hilary Boyd (Blog Tour) #BookReview #BlogTour #TheAnniversary

I am so honoured to take part in this blog tour.

I really liked this book and I’d like to thank Jenny Platt from Penguin Random House UK, for giving me this opportunity.

About the book:

A deeply emotional new novel from the bestselling author of Thursdays in the Park

Is the one you tried to forget the one you can’t live without? 

Stella once thought that if she never saw Jack again, it would be too soon.

But life has other plans for her and her stubborn, handsome ex-husband.

Looking after their daughter in a time of need, Stella finds herself unwillingly reunited with the man she shared the best years of her life with – followed by the worst.

Where tragedy once tore them apart, now Stella and Jack are being drawn back together. But each of them has a new partner and a new life.

Should they fight temptation?

Should the past remain the past?

Or are some loves simply meant to be?

My Review:

Trigger warning: This book talks about child loss.

Going into The Anniversary I had no idea what to expect.
The premise was interesting as it explores the topic I am not familiar with, but at the same time I had no idea how I would react to everything that was about to happen’ in the story.

You see, reading is a subjective action, and the way one reacts to the story can be totally different from the way the other one would.

The Anniversary was a really good read that talks about so many difficult situations in life, and I appreciate it because of that.
Lately I like stories that talk about life, people and different situations that people find themselves in, and all the different ways people react in certain situations.
The Anniversary is that kind of the story.

It follows two main characters, Stella and Jack, who were married once, but they couldn’t get over the tragedy that happened to them so they separated. Twenty years later, they find themselves under the same roof, helping their daughter with her son while she’s expecting another child.
Spending time together plays with their emotions and they ask themselves what it would be like if they once again find the way to each other’s hearts.

First of all, I want to underline how great of a choice this book would be for book clubs. There are so many situations in this book that could be discussed and viewed from the different angles.
I love those type of stories, where there are no white and black situations, but many, many different shades of gray, because life is like that in reality.

I really liked the book, but if I’m being honest, I think I would appreciate it so much more if I’m older or maybe emotionally more mature, because at this point in my life, I just can’t understand or emotionally process some things that were described in this story.

From my subjective POV, I could read about our characters, try to understand them the best I can, but I just don’t know what it feels like to have the love of your life and let him go, because you are too hurt to handle yourself.
But then again, this is why we have books: they show us situations we haven’t experienced in our lives (yet).

The story is set in todays’ time, with some chapters set in 1985s, when Stella and Jack were young and in love.
Some scenes were emotionally hard to read, because they talk how Stella and Jack lost their little son, and how that tragedy changed them.

I really loved Jack when he was young. He was such a carrying person, always there for Stella.
Twenty years after, he was my least favorite character. I didn’t like how he treated his wife Lisa. I think he was selfish and I feel like his development as a person was realistically portrayed.

Even though I liked and appreciate this novel, I have to say that there were some things that I wasn’t a fan of:

First thing, I didn’t like how Stella’s beauty was so many times highlighted. I mean, I get that she was beautiful (especially when she was young), but I didn’t like how sometimes it was mentioned to put Lisa (Jack’s now-wife) down.
There is one particular scene that made me angry. Jack finds himself on a drink with his old friend. That friend congrats him on his wedding and immediately tells Jack how his ex wife Stella was so beautiful and that he shouldn’t have let her go.
If you ask me, it was disrespectful to Lisa and to Jack, and the fact that Jack didn’t even react to that bothered me (and let’s be honest here, Lisa is something like 20 years younger then Stella, and as far as I know, no beauty can win against time).

Second: I didn’t like how the author handled the whole Jack and Lisa situation in the end. I feel like she chose the easy way out for Jack.

As you can probably conclude from my review, my favorite character was Lisa, and this novel pictures perfect how sometimes innocent people get hurt when two people find the way to each other.

I would recommend this book to everyone who likes to read about people, about difficult situations in life, and who like to discuss about books with friends.

This is the perfect choice for book clubs and I think mature audience would appreciate it the most.

Follow the tour:

Movie Monday: The Nun #MovieReview #MovieMonday #TheNun

Movie Monday is a feature here on my blog, in which I’m rambling about movies I’ve watched lately.

Yesterday I watched The Nun which is a fifth movie in The Conjuring franchise.

 

The Nun

Yesterday I went to the movie theatre with my friend. We went to see The Nun. I knew I wanted to watch that movie for weeks now, since I am a big fan of horrors, especially of the whole Conjuring franchise.

Just like with books, when it comes to movies, I like to know less about them before watching.
I mean, I don’t go blind into them (like I do with books sometimes) because I like to know if I’ll like the story, premise or the way camera films (I am allergic to cheap cameras and when the whole movie is filmed with the camera shaking in one’s hand), but if the movie already had it’s ancestor, I don’t have an urge to know much about it.

That’s what my case with The Nun was. I knew all the movies that were released before it and I loved all of them, so I had no doubt I’d like this one too.

I was right, of course. The Nun was a really, really good movie. It was not as scary as I hoped it would be, but the story itself was excellent. I loved how it played with everyone’s (from characters to audience) heads and the creepy vibe it had the whole time.

The characters were really good too, with two likeable characters (My favorite was Franchie and the other is Sister Irene) and one not so likeable person (Father Burke).

My favorite part of the movie is the end. Telling you anything about it would ruin the movie for you, so I won’t say a thing, but I will just stress out how I admire how it intertwined with other movies in the end.
The very last scene made me want to watch the first movie again.

As for the whole franchise, as it stands now, my favorite movie is The Conjuring 2, and then Annabelle. After that it all get’s blurry and I don’t know which one from the last three I liked the best and which one the least.
As for The Nun, I’d say it’s somewhere in the middle.

Book Review: Somewhere Inside of Happy by Anna McPartlin

Title: Somewhere Inside of Happy
Author: Anna McPartlin
Publisher: Black Swan, Penguin Random House
Date: April 7th, 2016
Pages: 427
Format: Paperback
Source: Won in a giveaway

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Maisie Bean is a fighter. A survivor. Seventeen years ago, she went on a first date that went so badly it was enough to put the girl off chips. The marriage that followed was hell but it gave her two children: funny, caring Jeremy and bullish but brilliant Valerie.

Just as it seems everything might finally start going right, sixteen-year-old Jeremy goes missing. The police descend and a media storm swirls, over five days of searching that hurtle towards an inevitable, terrible conclusion.

Maisie is facing another fight, and this time it’s the fight of her life. But she’s a survivor. Whatever the odds, she’ll never give in.

Review:

I should have read synopsis before starting this book.
I always like to go blind into stories, read recommendations and judge books by their covers.
If you ask me how I decide what I’ll read next, I usually go with my instinct.
I always buy books based on the fact who wrote them and if someone from my goodreads friends or bloggers already reviewed it.
Rarely, if a book catches my eyes without me hearing about it before, I’ll read what it is about.

As you can guess by now, I didn’t know what Somewhere Inside of Happy is about.
I just hauled it and saw people really enjoyed it. One blogger who had the same taste as me said it was one of the best books she read in 2016, and that was enough for me.

I’m saying that I should have read the synopsis first not because I didn’t like it. No, that was not the case, because this book is beautiful in an exceptional way, but because I was in the mood for something light and fun, and this is anything but.

Somewhere inside of happy is one of the most important books I’ve read this year. It should have a huge impact on it’s readers and I hope it will reach everyone who’ll read it. 

It is not an easy book to read. However, I feel like everyone who’ll get a chance to read it, will be glad they did.

One thing I am not a fan of is how the message and everything that was important in this story is perceived as huge spoiler in company of smaller spoilers.

Therefore, I will warn you: After this sentence this review will be full of spoilers, so don’t read it if you don’t want to be spoiled!!

At the very beginning of the book, we already know that our main character Maisie had a son who died. We don’t know how or why, we just know it was violent (and if you ask me, his death was unfortunate, but I wouldn’t call it violent).

We follow the story of her family while her son was alive.

She lives with her mother who suffers from demantia (sometimes it was really hard to read about her situation), takes care of her, and she also had a son and a daughter.
Her husband who’s she separated with is nowhere near for some time now, and she can finally breath.

One day, her son doesn’t come back from the party, and we follow her and her family trying to find him.

The story takes place in Dublin.
I really enjoyed reading about that place, but all the time I had one big question mark over my head: Jeremy (her son) didn’t come to school on January 2nd. I was so confused, because I wondered do in Ireland schools really work in period between Christmas and January 6th.
I wouldn’t know because I don’t live there, but it is so close to New Year’s Eve…

This book contains some themes that readers should be warned about: violence and rape.

The story with it’s message reminded me of the movie Prays for Bobbie, only the movie is better.

Overall, I am glad I read this book and would really recommend it to everyone because I think it is really important to accept all the people, and I hope one day hate against everyone who’s different in anyway  will no longer exist.
That is the world I want to live in one day.

I would like to stress out that even though I am glad that I read this book and I think it is of huge importance, I didn’t click with the way it was presented.
I can’t figure out was it the writing style or just the story itself, or maybe even characters, but something was off, so therefore I can’t give it higher rating.