Library Stack

My current library stack definitely reflects my mood for light, romantic reads. Two are of authors I have previously enjoyed (Jude Devereaux and Meg Cabot), one is recommended on Instagram (The Wedding Party) and the other (25 Days of Christmas) reflects my enjoyment of Christmas stories at this time of year.

I am currently partway through the books I have borrowed from the library. I am hoping that this week some more of my holds will come through.

What books are currently on your library stack?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

Book Review: Met Her Match by Jude Devereux

I enjoy reading Jude Devereux’s novels and when I saw the library had a copy of her latest novel, Met Her Match, I knew I had to read it.

Genre: Romance, Contemporary

Blurb:

Terri Rayburn is a girl with a reputation. She doesn’t deserve it, but having grown up on the outskirts of Summer Hill, Virginia, she knows how small towns work. The only way to deal with vicious gossip is to ignore it. So she keeps to herself as she runs the summer resort on Lake Kissel.

When she returns home from a short trip to find a handsome stranger living in her house, she smells a rat. Someone is trying to fix her up, and she has to admit that Nate Taggert is just her type. However, Nate is engaged to the daughter of the mayor and strictly off-limits.

Nate and Terri form an unlikely friendship while he throws himself into life at the lake. As Nate starts to hear rumors about Terri he’s confused. Knowing how smart, beautiful and strong she is, he’s determined to discover the source of the gossip. Terri doesn’t want to revisit the past, but Nate won’t stop until he discovers the truth—even if the truth might be more than either of them can handle.

Set in the beloved fictional town of Summer Hill, Virginia, Met Her Match examines the tensions between the wealthy townspeople, the summer vacationers and the working-class people who keep the town and resort running.

My thoughts:

Met Her Match was perfect for my mood in that it is a light romantic read that brought some smiles to my face. As with all of Devereaux’s novels, it is a well written story that keeps your interest with realistic characters and moments.

I, myself, have never lived in a small town but I can imagine the ostracism that can take place. It is this ostracism which Terri has experienced for most of her life, and yet it has not made her any less of a person. Instead she is hard-working and loyal – character traits which I can relate to. I definitely liked Terri as a character and was behind her all the way. I could not help but smile how Nate upends her world; and a few of their encounters brought forth a chuckle.

If you are looking for a light read, Met Her Match is perfect. This book enabled me to read during the stressful time of report card writing and it definitely helped to take my mind off of my responsibilities. Once again, Jude Devereaux does not disappoint.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 102nd in my book pledge for 2019)

First Line Fridays: The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry

The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry is a fun, lighthearted read that explores a woman’s need to change the direction of her life. This romance is the perfect read for the cooler days of Fall.

“Something peculiar had happened to Marsha Kennedy. She had found herself editor of Britain’s most popular fashion magazine. While she had already edited several publications, they had been in the diet and fitness markets, promising taut bodies and rapidly shed pounds; she knew virtually nothing about fashion and had even less interest in it.”

Ellen Berry The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane (2017, Harper Collins)

I enjoyed this story so much that I went on the hunt for other books written by this author.

Would you read The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to It’s Not Hoarding If It’s Books and her One Line Friday challenge.)

Book Review: A Good Wife by Samra Zafar

When at the OLA Super Conference earlier this year, I was fortunate enough to receive a signed ARC of Samra Zafar’s memoir A Good Wife. Memoirs can be hit or miss and I was hoping that this one was well-written as the blurb describing the book sounded intriguing.

Genre: Memoir, Non-Fiction, Autobiography

Blurb:

She faced years of abuse after arriving in Canada as a teenage bride in a hastily arranged marriage, but nothing could stop Samra Zafar from pursuing her dreams.

At 15, Samra Zafar had big dreams for herself. She was going to go to university, and forge her own path. Then with almost no warning, those dreams were pulled away from her when she was suddenly married to a stranger at 17 and had to leave behind her family in Pakistan to move to Canada. Her new husband and his family promised that the marriage and the move would be a fulfillment of her dream, not a betrayal of it. But as the walls of their home slowly became a prison, Samra realized the promises were empty ones.

In the years that followed she suffered her husband’s emotional and physical abuse that left her feeling isolated, humiliated and assaulted. Desperate to get out, and refusing to give up, she hatched an escape plan for herself and her two daughters. Somehow she found the strength to not only build a new future, but to walk away from her past, ignoring the pleas of her family and risking cultural isolation by divorcing her husband.

But that end was only the beginning for Samra. Through her academic and career achievements, she has gone on to become a mentor and public speaker, connecting with people around the world from isolated women in situations similar to her own, to young schoolgirls in Kenya who never allowed themselves to dream to men making the decisions to save for their daughters’ educations instead of their dowries. A Good Wife tell her harrowing and inspiring story, following her from a young girl with big dreams, through finding strength in the face of oppression and then finally battling through to empowerment.

My thoughts:

When I began reading this memoir, I did not know much about child brides, arranged marriages in Pakistan, or about the culture described in the book. I had seen women dressed to show their cultural background while walking the streets in Toronto, but had never really thought about the life they may lead behind closed doors. This memoir was an eye-opener for me. Zafar exposes not only her own experience and the loss of her dreams and innocence, but also the experience of so many women who have been encouraged into arranged marriages from a young age.

A Good Wife describes the changes Zafar experienced in her life: that from a young, independent child; to a sixteen year old who is married to a man older than her who lives across the world in another country; to a married woman living in a foreign country far from the support of her family; to the fight she took on to realise her dreams. While reading the memoir, I could not help but admire how she overcame all her obstacles. Her story is definitely an inspiration to all women – no matter what culture they are.

The memoir is extremely well-written and at no time was I bored with the story. In fact, I could not put it down and my interest was kept throughout. I felt pain when she described hurtful moments; and cheered when she worked at overcoming the obstacles to her dreams. As I completed the memoir, I could not help but feel a huge amount of respect for this woman who went against cultural expectations to be the woman she has become today.

If you enjoy reading memoirs, this is one you need to read. If you wish to find out more about the experience of child brides within this cultural context, this is a book that will add to your knowledge. If you wish to understand more of the culture of the Muslim community from Pakistan, this life story will add to your understanding. A Good Wife is a book that resonated with me and is one that I will think about for a long time.

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

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 82nd in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: The Importance of Being Wilde at Heart by R. Zamora Linmark

As it is ARC August, I decided to pick up another one of the Young Adult novels I was given at the OLA Super Conference earlier in thee year: The Importance of Being Wilde At Heart by R. Zamora Linmark.

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance, LGBT

Blurb:

Readers of Adam Silvera (They Both Die at the End) and Elizabeth Acevedo (The Poet X) will pull out the tissues for this tender, quirky story of one seventeen-year-old boy’s journey through first love and first heartbreak, guided by his personal hero, Oscar Wilde.

Words have always been more than enough for Ken Z, but when he meets Ran at the mall food court, everything changes. Beautiful, mysterious Ran opens the door to a number of firsts for Ken: first kiss, first love. But as quickly as he enters Ken’s life, Ran disappears, and Ken Z is left wondering: Why love at all, if this is where it leads?

Letting it end there would be tragic. So, with the help of his best friends, the comfort of his haikus and lists, and even strange, surreal appearances by his hero, Oscar Wilde, Ken will find that love is worth more than the price of heartbreak. 

My thoughts:

Fans of Oscar Wilde will love this novel because of all the Wilde references in the story. The main character, Ken Z, is a Wilde fan and meets another while bunburying (i.e., taking on another identity while visiting a place where you are not well-known). Ran lives on the other side of the island and has a completely different living experience to Ken Z. The relationship between the two boys is at times confusing for Ken Z. who then turns to Wilde for advice in his imagination.

Linmark has created a world which exists on an island and is designated the North and South. The North is affluent and has many advantages including the airport, the military, free schooling, and the ability to move freely anywhere on the island. The South is poorer and is dependent on the North for many things. Even though the people in the South cannot visit the North without permission, they do enjoy more personal freedoms than those living in the North. It was interesting to make the comparison between Linmark’s created world and the society in which we live and to see how the author is subtly criticising our own world.

Linmark also makes references to prejudices in our society against the minorities when describing CaZZ, a transgender person; as well as makings references to a racial group minority when describing the culture of Cazz’s heritage.

The Importance of Being Wilde At Heart is a novel which does refer to many important social issues as well as LGBT ones. Linmark creates a world that mirrors our own – even in terms of social media and the manner in which teens interact. I did, however, find the novel to be a slow read. The chapters are broken up with images of text messages or references from Wilde’s work. These interruptions, while interesting, did not help increase the pacing of the novel.

This novel is not one of my favourites and, for me, it was an okay read.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️ 2 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 81st in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott

My daughter volunteers for a Youth programme at our local public library. One evening she came home with a handful of ARCs that she had been offered by the librarian. One of them was Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott. She graciously allowed me to read it first. 🙂

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance

Blurb:

Can you love someone you can never touch?

Stella Grant likes to be in control—even though her totally out of control lungs have sent her in and out of the hospital most of her life. At this point, what Stella needs to control most is keeping herself away from anyone or anything that might pass along an infection and jeopardize the possibility of a lung transplant. Six feet apart. No exceptions.

The only thing Will Newman wants to be in control of is getting out of this hospital. He couldn’t care less about his treatments, or a fancy new clinical drug trial. Soon, he’ll turn eighteen and then he’ll be able to unplug all these machines and actually go see the world, not just its hospitals.

Will’s exactly what Stella needs to stay away from. If he so much as breathes on Stella she could lose her spot on the transplant list. Either one of them could die. The only way to stay alive is to stay apart. But suddenly six feet doesn’t feel like safety. It feels like punishment.

What if they could steal back just a little bit of the space their broken lungs have stolen from them? Would five feet apart really be so dangerous if it stops their hearts from breaking too?

My thoughts:

I absolutely loved this emotional read – so much more than I expected I would!

Stella Grant has cystic fibrosis and, as a result, has spent a lot of time in hospitals. Will Newman arrives on her wing and, because he has been diagnosed with B. cepacia, he has to remain six feet apart from Stella so that he doesn’t infect her. However, Stella wants to get to know Will better and begins a campaign to spend time with him. A romance begins between the two of them; a romance which will have you reaching for the kleenex!

Not only did I enjoy the young – and forbidden – romance between the two teens, I also learned about cystic fibrosis. This is a disease that is not often mentioned in mainstream society. The descriptions of the disease in the novel led me to confirm symptoms and treatment online. I love it when I learn something new from a novel that I am reading. And I like that teens are the ones reading about this in their stories.

Five Feet Apart is a heartfelt story that describes young love and the sacrifices that are made for that love. The interaction between the two teens is written with sensitivity and really tugs at your heartstrings. It is a well-written story that you will remember for a long time after you have finished reading it. I recommend this read for both young and old.

Five Feet Apart is one novel you will not regret picking up!

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars without reservation.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 80th in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: Hello Girls by Brittany Cavallaro and Emily Henry

As the next Frenzy Presents event was approaching, I thought I would focus on reading the rests of the ARCs that I had received at the previous one. Hello Girls by Brittany Cavallaro and Emily Henry was one of them.

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary

Blurb:

Best friends are forged by fire. For Winona Olsen and Lucille Pryce, that fire happened the night they met outside the police station—both deciding whether to turn their families in.

Winona has been starving for life in the seemingly perfect home that she shares with her seemingly perfect father, celebrity weatherman Stormy Olsen. No one knows that he locks the pantry door to control her eating and leaves bruises where no one can see them.

Lucille has been suffocating beneath the needs of her mother and her drug-dealing brother, wondering if there’s more out there for her than disappearing waitress tips and generations of barely getting by.

One harrowing night, Winona and Lucille realize they can’t wait until graduation to start their new lives. They need out. Now. All they need is three grand, fast. And really, a stolen convertible to take them from Michigan to Las Vegas can’t hurt. 

My thoughts:

Hello Girls is a story about two young women who go on a road trip and, in doing so, find out more about themselves and their inner strength. Winona finds the courage to be herself and to explore the person that she wants to be; Lucille finds the ability to give herself permission to live her own life unencumbered by feelings of guilt and duty.

The start of this novel was a little slow for me. The beginning of the story sets the stage for the road trip and is slow-paced. The storyline at this point is also a little predictable. Once Winona and Lucille begin their road trip, however, the pace picks up a little. It is then that the reader will begin to see a some character development as the girls begin to explore who they are.

For me, the novel became interesting about mid-way. The main characters were exploring who they were and, with mistakes along the way, they were discovering the type of people they want to be. Hello Girls is a coming of age novel of young women who become self-assured and who learn that they can depend on themselves to plan their life path.

Hello Girls is a perfect novel for a teen who is thinking about the type of person they want to be. This story shows that you can change the track your life is on – all it takes is courage and the support of a friend someone who is close to you.The saving grace of the novel, for me, was the second half of the novel. It is the second half that kept me reading to the end.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️ 2 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 79th in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane

I was in the mood for a romantic comedy so I picked up the ARC of the novel I had received at the OLA Super Conference: Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane. Whenever I looked at the title of this story when I read it, I could not help but start singing the song by Simple Minds of the same title. 🙂

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary, Romance

Blurb:

If there’s one thing worse than being fired from the grottiest restaurant in town, it’s coming home early to find your boyfriend in bed with someone else.

Reeling from the indignity of a double dumping on the same day, Georgina snatches at the next job that she’s offered – barmaid in a newly opened pub, which just so happens to run by the boy she fell in love with at school: Lucas McCarthy. And whereas Georgina (voted Most Likely to Succeed in her school yearbook) has done nothing but dead-end jobs in the last twelve years, Lucas has not only grown into a broodingly handsome man, but also has turned into an actual grown-up with a business and a dog along the way.

Meeting Lucas again not only throws Georgina’s rackety present into sharp relief, but also brings a dark secret from her past bubbling to the surface. Only she knows the truth about what happened on the last day of school, and why she’s allowed it to chase her all these years…

My thoughts:

Ever wondered what it would be like to meet your first love many years later? Especially if things between you did not end properly? Georgina does – and yet it seems that he does not remember her. Therefore the interactions between Lucas and Georgina seem to start from scratch – though she cannot help but remember the Lucas from her high school years.

Meeting someone from her past takes Georgina back to an experience that she has shoved into the back of her mind. In reflecting on this experience, she finally comes to realise how much it has affected her actions in the years since she graduated from high school. Acceptance of her experience helps her to change her circumstances and step out of the life that she has fallen in. The novel takes us on her journey – a journey that some people may have taken at an earlier age. Don’t You Forget About Me does focus on Georgina’s story and, as such, we read a complete development of her character.

I love that McFarlane focuses on the story of her female character. Yes, there is a love interest and the feelings of confusion and attraction that come with it. But there is also the story is about the feelings, hesitations, desires, and dreams of a woman. We read about more than just a relationship between a man and a woman. We read of her interactions with friends, her interactions with her ex, and her interactions with those at work. We also read of her difficulties with her ex and how she deals with it.

I enjoyed reading Don’t You Forget About Me. The novel was a perfect read for a lazy summer’s day. I enjoyed the character building of Georgina and her interaction with the various characters in the novel. The story made me smile at some of the antics described. McFarlane has written a perfect modern romantic comedy that you will not regret reading.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 78th in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: The Little Teashop on Main by Jodi Thomas

When at the OLA Super Conference earlier this year, I picked up Jodi Thomas’ The Little Teashop on Main. The cover of the ARC attracted my gaze and, as I enjoy reading stories of this genre, I chose to bring it home with me.

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary, Romance

Blurb:

A rainy-day ritual—a tea party between three little girls—becomes the framework of not only their friendship, but their lives. 

Blonde, curly-haired Zoe is openhearted, kind and free-spirited, and dreams of becoming a famous actor in New York City. Shy Emily struggles with mental health but has the heart and soul of a writer. And Shannon—tall, athletic, strong—has a deep sense of loyalty that will serve her well when she heads off to military college.

As Zoe, Emily and Shannon grow into women—forging careers, following dreams and finding love—they’ll learn that life doesn’t always unfold the way they want it to, but through it all, the one constant is each other, and their regular tea parties. And when the unthinkable happens, the girls must come together to face the greatest test of all.

My thoughts:

The novel spans many years and begins when the friends were five years old. Thomas, however, does not take us through every year of their lives. Instead we learn more about Zoe, Emily and Shannon as adults. In addition, we read the thoughts of some of the people in their lives. Told from the point of view of many characters, we are able to see into the mind of each and how each person affects the life trajectory of the women.

Thomas takes us on the journey of three women’s lives. We read about their aspirations, their failures, the fulfilment of their dreams, and the love they experience in their lives. We read about a friendship that is so strong that it spans decades and even distance. I loved that this friendship was an important part of the story. The love and romance between two people and a potential partner is explored while the love between friends is not forgotten.

The Little Teashop on Main is a light read with plenty of romance (if you are looking for steamy sex scenes, however, this one will not deliver). The novel doesn’t delve too deeply into it characters – though as a reader, you will feel a connection with the main female characters. I enjoyed the story and it is perfect for a lazy and relaxing afternoon.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 75th in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

My friend and I have started reading books together and discussing them. Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin is one of thoses books that I have been telling her to read. In order to have a profitable discussion with her, I decided to reread the book.

Genre: Adult Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Romance

Blurb:

Pride and Prejudice with a modern twist.

Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on.  Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and dresses like he belongs in the seventh century. 

When a surprise engagement between Khalid and Hafsa is announced, Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and his family; and the truth she realizes about herself. But Khalid is also wrestling with what he believes and what he wants. And he just can’t get this beautiful, outspoken woman out of his mind. 

My thoughts:

I LOVED reading the book again! (If you want to read my original review, please click here.) The novel has so much in it to discuss with a buddy: prejudices and reasons for them; the growth of someone as they let go of their own pride; the struggle to become non-conformist; workplace difficulties; social expectations. These are just a few of the issues my friend and I have discussed. We were also able to link the story to some of our own experience even though we are not a part of the Muslim community.

Rereading Ayesha At Last has made me love the story even more. I appreciated once again the characters that Jalaluddin has created; and smiled, unreservedly, at the subtle references made to Pride and Prejudice. The story is humorous, prods at social norms, and has become one of my favourite rom-coms.

Once again, I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 70th in my book pledge for 2019)