Book Review: Postscript by Cecelia Ahern

I was so excited to receive an ARC of Postscript by Cecilia Ahern. I love her writing and could not wait to start reading it. I normally try to read the ARCs near the time of publication – but I could not wait with this one!

Publication date: 19 September 2019

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

Blurb:

When Holly Kennedy is approached by a group calling themselves the PS, I Love You Club, her safe existence is turned on its head. Inspired by hearing about her late husband Gerry’s letters, the club wants Holly to help them with their own parting messages for their loved ones to discover after they’re gone.

Holly is sure of one thing – no way is she being dragged back to the grief she has left behind. It’s taken seven years to reinvent herself, and she’s ready to move on with her life.

But Holly comes to realize that when you love someone, there’s always one more thing to say…

My thoughts:

Postscript is a perfect sequel and is as beautifully written as PS. I Love You. I enjoyed reading more about Holly and her life 7 years after she had lost her husband. Life goes on after death, and this is what is shown in this novel. However, a loved one is always with you despite their death; and this, too, is shown in Ahern’s latest writing.

As with the first novel, Holly is the centre of the story. Even though she is in a relationship with another man, her romantic relationship is not what drives the story. Holly still has things to learn and in this novel she grows even more. Our personal growth does not stop at a certain age. Instead our life experiences and the people we come into contact with help to mould us into the people we are. In Postscript, Holly comes into contact with people who need her help. She gives her help – but with trepidation and plenty of uncertainty. And yet, in helping these people, Holly discovers that they help her too. In helping these people, she is able to grow as a person.

As always, Ahern’s writing is spot-on. Her words pull emotions from the reader (I do admit to tears forming in my eyes) and encourage you to become invested in the story. As I was reading, the characters were so vivid in my mind, and so real. Ahern is definitely a master at characterisation.

If you loved PS. I Love You (either the film or the book), you will enjoy Postscript as much as I did. This novel is definitely one you need to place on your TBR!

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars with no reservation.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 67th in my book pledge for 2019)

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Book Review: P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

Cecilia Ahern’s publisher, Harper Collins, sent me an ARC of the sequel to PS I Love You and before I read it, I wanted to read the first novel. Even though I had read the novel before, I had read it many years ago and wanted to refresh my memory on details.

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

Blurb:

Some people wait their whole lives to find their soul mates. But not Holly and Gerry.

Childhood sweethearts, they could finish each other’s sentences and even when they fought, they laughed. No one could imagine Holly and Gerry without each other. 

Until the unthinkable happens. Gerry’s death devastates Holly. But as her 30th birthday looms, Gerry comes back to her. He’s left her a bundle of notes, gently guiding Holly into her new life without him, each note signed ‘PS, I Love You’. 

As the notes are gradually opened, and as they year unfolds, Holly is both cheered up and challenged. The man who knows her better than anyone sets out to teach her that life goes on. With some help from her friends, and her noisy and loving family, Holly finds herself laughing, crying, singing, dancing — and being braver than ever before. 

Life is for living, she realizes — but it always helps if there’s an angel watching over you.

My thoughts:

I loved this story when I first read it and with the re-reading, I love it even more. The story is about love of a soul mate – not a perfect love, but a love that has endured the day to day arguments and frustrations that couples experience. Unfortunately Gerry dies and leaves Holly alone. Holly is devastated and we read how she learns to cope without her love. The notes that Gerry has left her guide her through her grief and help her to create a life without her soul mate.

PS I Love You is not only a story about a lost love; it is a story that describes the voyage of a woman who her entire adult life has relied on another person to help her make decisions and help her through the ups and downs of life. During her grieving process, Holly learns about herself and who she truly is. She comes to realise more about herself as well as more on the other people in her life. She learns to see things through her eyes, and not through the eyes of her partner. In addition, Holly discovers her inner strength.

This novel is not a romance like many others. Instead it is about a love that has been experienced; the growth of a woman to find her inner strength; and about the grieving process. Re-reading this story has allowed me to appreciate even more Ahern’s storytelling prowess. Now I look forward to reading the sequel.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 66th in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

I had seen The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren all over Instagram as people read the book and stated that it was a good story. I decided to give it a read.

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

Blurb:

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.

My thoughts:

The Unhoneymooners was the perfect rom-com read. It was a humorous story that highlights prejudices and the way we assume what others are thinking. Misunderstandings can morph and escalate into feelings of almost hatred. This pseudo-hatred is what exists between Olive and Ethan, and one which ensures that neither one of them will back down from an unexpected holiday. Spending time together, however, leads Olive to an understanding that it is her own insecurities that began the love-hate relationship between them.

Olive not only comes to an understanding of her relationship with Ethan but she also learns a little more about herself during, and after, her unexpected holiday. Her self knowledge comes from self-reflection as a result of her experiences. As in all modern romantic comedies, the heroine is able to grow without the aid of the male protagonist. Instead, he is the catalyst that encourages self-reflection and self-realisation.

I enjoyed reading Lauren’s latest novel and recommend it if you are looking for a light read that will make you laugh and leave you with a sense of satisfaction at the end.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 65th in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: The Second Worst Restuarant in France by Alexander McCall Smith

I entered a giveaway for ARCs offered by Penguin Random House Canada and was excited to receive The Second Worst Restaurant in France by Alexander McCall Smith. The reason for my excitement? I love any books set in France.

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Blurb:

In a delightful sequel to the best-selling comedic novel My Italian Bulldozer , we are in a French village where the local restaurant’s haute cuisine leaves a lot to be desired–and two books into an astounding ninth series from one of our most beloved authors. 

Renowned cookbook writer Paul Stuart, renewed and refreshed from his time in Tuscany, has returned to Scotland to work on his new book, The Philosophy of Food in Six Easy Chapters. Writing, though, is complicated by Paul’s changed domestic circumstances. His editor and new girlfriend, Gloria, has moved in with him despite not being specifically invited, and she’s brought her two rather demanding Siamese cats. When Paul’s cousin, Chloe, suggests Paul visit her in the French countryside, Paul jumps at the chance. However, once he arrives, he finds his fortunes tangled up with the infamous local restaurant that gives the book its title. In this story about a man who prides himself on his taste finding delight in the most unexpected places, we have Alexander McCall Smith at his most witty and charming.

My thoughts:

I have not read any previous novels by McCall Smith, and had not read the first book in this series either. My enjoyment of the novel, however, was not diminished by my lack of knowledge of the first. The Second Worst Restaurant in France can be enjoyed as a stand-alone novel.

The main character in the novel, Paul Stuart, is a food writer so many references in the novel are food related – perfect for those readers who are foodies as well. References are made in the novel on the importance of food in our lives and how food is used to bring people together. Food has definitely brought people together in this novel – and in unexpected ways. McCall Smith’s characters are delightful and one cannot help but smile at their antics and observations.

Humour is woven through the novel. It is often a subtle humour, though, and one that suits the serious nature of the main character. Paul is having some issues with his girlfriend, Gloria, but his relationship with her is not the thrust of the novel. The main thread through the novel appears to be food – and the need for Paul to change his focus and find answers in unexpected places.

I enjoyed reading this novel and its brief snapshot into life in the French countryside. I savoured the descriptions and chuckled a few times during my reading. This novel meanders slowly through the tale, and is one that is meant to be savoured and not inhaled in one sitting. I recommend this delightful story for those readers who are charmed by stories featuring ordinary people.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 64th in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: The Last Resort by Marissa Stapley

I often enter giveaways on Instagram and, for the first time, I won a copy of The Last Resort by Marissa Stapley. I was excited to read the novel as I had heard good things about Stapley’s writing.

Genre: Suspense, Thriller

Blurb:

The Harmony Resort promises hope for struggling marriages. Run by celebrity power couple Drs. Miles and Grace Markell, the “last resort” offers a chance for partners to repair their relationships in a luxurious setting on the gorgeous Mayan Riviera.

Johanna and Ben have a marriage that looks perfect on the surface, but in reality, they don’t know each other at all. Shell and Colin fight constantly: after all, Colin is a workaholic, and Shell always comes second to his job as an executive at a powerful mining company. But what has really torn them apart is too devastating to talk about. When both couples begin Harmony’s intensive therapy program, it becomes clear that Harmony is not all it seems—and neither are Miles and Grace themselves. What are they hiding, and what price will these couples pay for finding out?

As a deadly tropical storm descends on the coast, trapping the hosts and the guests on the resort, secrets are revealed, loyalties are tested and not one single person—or their marriage—will remain unchanged by what follows.

My thoughts:

The novel starts with a man filled with anger, and a suspicion that he is dying. The story continues with the events that lead up to the climax: Stapley slowly releases the knowledge we need to know in order to come to an understanding of the story and the characters who play an important role in the events. The murder that has occurred has a reason; and it is a reason that will surprise you.

The Last Resort is not the typical murder story. Instead it is a story that highlights some issues for the reader to think about: the grieving process and the loss of a child; the need to embrace ourselves for what we are; the relationship between spouses; abuse in a marriage. These issues are intertwined in a story that is fast-paced and keeps one reading. Stapley keep me feeling a range of emotions while reading her writing; and she kept me engrossed in a story that was more than what I had expected.

The Last Resort is an expertly crafted story that readers of murder mysteries will enjoy. The subtle twists will keep you guessing and the ending will give you a sense of satisfaction.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 63rd in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: Crossfire by Jessie Kwak

When Crossfire by Jessie Kwak arrived in the mail, I was so excited to read it that I placed it on the top of my TBR pile next to my bed.

Genre: Science Fiction

Blurb:

Trouble is dead. Long live trouble.

Killing the leader of a violent cult was supposed to make the city a safer place, but instead it created a power imbalance that’s left a deadly war raging in the streets of Bulari. 

When Willem Jaantzen is approached for help by local casino magnate Phaera D, he has the sinking feeling the only way to end this war is to betray the people he loves the most. And he’s starting to suspect that Phaera wants more from him than just his help. 

Whatever decision he makes feels like the wrong one. And as his goddaughter chips away at the mystery surrounding their latest discovery, bringing peace back to the Bulari underground is quickly becoming the least of his worries. 

My thoughts:

I could not wait to open Crossfire and continue reading more of the characters in the Bulari Saga. I was not disappointed and quickly became engrossed in the story.

In the second volume of the saga, readers get to know a little more about the characters that Kwak has introduced us to. My two favourite characters are definitely Manu and Starla. In Crossfire, I learn a little more about them and – to be honest – I want to know more! Both of them are shown as people who have experienced some difficult times. They are loyal and strong – and, like all people, have things on their mind and problems in their personal lives. Readers also get to know a little more about Toshiyo – the nerd in the story. I look forward with hope to learning more about her in the next installment of the saga.

Kwak has shared with us a story that is fast-paced and filled with action. I chose to read this novel during a time in which I could put aside all other obligations – a wise choice as I did not want to put the book down! The story picks up from where it left off in the first volume, Double Edged. Kwak adroitly moves the reader through the story with concise writing that creates images in the reader’s mind.

Crossfire is a story about the need to sacrifice personal desires for the good of the community. Jaantzen and Manu need to forsake their desire for revenge Of a sworn enemy in order to ensure that peace can be attained in their city. The reader does wonder, and hope, that their sacrifice is worth it and that Jaantzen’s plan to work with an enemy is fruitful.

As I read the last page of this novel, I wished I could read more. I will be waiting impatiently for the next volume. This fast-paced science-fiction story has me hooked!

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 62nd in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: Red Vengeance by Margaret Stohl

While browsing in Indigo, our local bookstore, I came across Red Vengeance by Margaret Stohl on the sale table. I love superhero stories and my daughter is a huge Marvel fan so I picked up the book knowing that I would pass it onto her after I had read it.

Genre: Young Adult, Superheroes, Marvel

Blurb:

Emotions are dangerous, which is why the graduates of Moscow’s famed spy school the Red Room are taught to keep their enemies close and their loved ones at a distance. Black Widow and Red Widow, also known as Natasha Romanov and Ava Orlova, forgot that lesson once, and they won’t forget it again.

But the Widows have inherited something else from their shared Moscow past: a relentless need for vengeance—Ivan Somodorov is dead, but his network of terror remains.

While the Widows search South America in order to extinguish a smuggling operation with ties to their old nemesis, their own Red Room not only attempts to assassinate them both but also hacks their secure S.H.I.E.L.D. network. As a result, Ava and Natasha find themselves thrust into a trying mission of international intrigue that takes them throughout the world and back to New York City, where their friends Dante and Sana become unlikely targets as well.

Once again, nothing is as it seems, no one can be trusted, and no one is safe—not unless the Widows can stop a conspiracy involving stolen nuclear warheads, mind-altering chemical weapons, and ultimately, betrayal by old friends and enemies alike.

My thoughts:

If you have watched any of the recent Marvel films, you will know that the stories are fast-paced and filled with action. Reading Red Vengeance reminded me of those characteristics as I turned the pages quickly in this novel. As I was reading the story, I could not help but picture the Black Widow as portrayed in the Avengers stories. 😀

Even though this story is a sequel, at no time did I feel lost in the story. Stohl effectively fills in any blanks that may have occurred due to not having read the first book. It helped, too, that I know a little about the main character having watched all the Marvel movies.

The telling of the story in the past tense is interspersed with the recorded conversation in the present tense between Agent Natasha Romanov (the Black Widow) and Phillip Coulson (the agent in command). As the novel begins with a scene near the end of the story, Stohl’s technique slowly brings the reader to an understanding of how the events evolved. The gradual release of information to the reader helps with the tension in the story as well as the readers’ understanding of events.

This read is perfect for those who enjoy superhero stories. It is a well-written novel that is fast-paced and immerses one in the Marvel universe. I would love to see this story as a film.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 61st in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: The Better Sister by Alafair Burke

I was in the mood for a thriller and picked up the ARC sent to me by Harper Collins Canada of Alafair Burke’s latest novel The Better Sister. I had not yet read anything written by this author and looked forward to the introduction.

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Blurb:

When a prominent Manhattan lawyer is murdered, two estranged sisters—one the dead man’s widow, the other his ex—must set aside mistrust and old resentments . . . but can they escape their past?

Though Chloe was the younger of the two Taylor sisters, she always seemed to be in charge. She was the honor roll student with big dreams and an even bigger work ethic. Nicky was always restless . . . and more than a little reckless—the opposite of her ambitious little sister. She floated from job to job and man to man, and stayed close to home in Cleveland.

For a while, it seemed like both sisters had found happiness. Chloe earned a scholarship to an Ivy League school and moved to New York City, where she landed a coveted publishing job. Nicky married promising young attorney Adam Macintosh, and gave birth to a baby boy they named Ethan. The Taylor sisters became virtual strangers.

Now, more than fifteen years later, their lives are drastically different—and Chloe is married to Adam. When he’s murdered by an intruder at the couple’s East Hampton beach house, Chloe reluctantly allows her teenaged stepson’s biological mother—her estranged sister, Nicky—back into her life. But when the police begin to treat Ethan as a suspect in his father’s death, the two sisters are forced to unite . . . and to confront the truth behind family secrets they have tried to bury in the past 

My thoughts:

Not everything is as it appears on the surface – and that is what is reinforced in this novel. Bit by bit, the reader learns hidden truths and slowly comes to the realisation of a certain reality. Burke adroitly leads the reader down the path of a mystery with an unexpected ending.

Not only is The Better Sister a thriller, it is a novel that references relationships: the relationship between a husband and wife, and the relationship between two sisters. It is interesting to see how one incident estranges them while another, fifteen years later, brings them close as they unite to save their family.

I enjoyed reading Burke’s writing. It is precise and she kept my attention riveted to the pages. This was a thriller I needed to finish not only because I wanted to know ‘whodunit’, but also as I want to know the outcome of the sibling relationship. The Better Sister is a novel I recommend for those readers who enjoy thrillers that contain more in the story than just a mystery.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 60th in my book pledge for 2019)

Favourite Read of the Month: June 2019

Book of the month in mid-July. I know – the only excuse that I can give is that I am in holiday mode and I am unable to sit for too long in front of the computer. 🙂 During the month of June I read 10 books in spite of it being a busy time. I was tired and would often come home and read to relax with a cup of warm tea. The last book in June, I devoured in a day as it was the first day of my Summer Break and I wanted to do nothing but read.

Below is the list of book that I read. To read my reviews (if you haven’t already), click on the title and you will be able to visit my post:

  1. Anna Bright The Beholder – YA Fantasy ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars
  2. Miriam Toews Women Talking – Women’s Contemporary Fiction ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars
  3. Blair Thornburgh Ordinary Girls – Young Adult Contemporary ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars
  4. Erin Davis The One – Thriller ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars
  5. Kurt Kirchmeier The Absence of Sparrows – Middle Grade ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars
  6. Roselle Lim Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune – Women’s Contemporary Fiction ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars
  7. Laura Steven The Exact Opposite of Okay – Young Adult Contemporary ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars
  8. Alisha Rai The Right Swipe – Romance ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars
  9. Linda Lael Miller The Yankee Widow – Historical Fiction ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars
  10. Beth O’Leary The Flatshare – Romance ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

During the month of June I read a number of good stories but the one that stood out for me was Women Talking by Miriam Toews. The book was more than just a story but a commentary on the way in which women are treated in a patriarchal society. The novel describes a conversation between women as they decide what to do in response to a number of rapes that had taken place in their community. As I was reading Toews’ writing, so many of the lines in the book struck a place deep in my heart and mind. Women Talking is definitely my Book of the Month for June.

I hope you read as many wonderful stories as I did in June. What was your favourite read? Share your choice, or the link to your post, below.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

Book of the Month: January 2019

Book of the Month: February 2019

Book of the Month: March 2019

Book of the Month: April 2019

Book of the Month: May 2019

Book Review: The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

I was intrigued by the synopsis of The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary and had read good things about it on social media. The school year was over and I needed some light reading to relax. A romantic comedy seemed to be the perfect solution.

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

Blurb:

Tiffy and Leon share a flat
Tiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met…
 

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time. 

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…

My thoughts:

Imagine sharing a bed with someone – and yet never seeing them! I loved this unique story that in no way felt forced. The friendship between the two flatmates evolves slowly as they get to know one another by notes and through their habits. The magic between the two characters happens even before they meet.

The Flatshare not only has a unique story line, but also characters that grow and evolve as the story progresses. Both Tiffy and Leon, the flatmates, need to come to some realisations about themselves and what they want to do with their lives before they can move forward in committing to a healthy relationship. While reading the story, I could definitely see a message from the writer: finish with your current relationship and work out why it is not working before moving forward into one that is more beneficial to you.

O”Leary has written a lighthearted and heartwarming read that will have you curious and smiling. The writing is fluid and the author has cleverly shown us the basics of getting to know a person. The Flatshare is a rom-com that I will surely read again in a few years when I am looking for an uplifting read that I can peruse in an afternoon.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 59th in my book pledge for 2019)