Review// You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

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Author: Sarah Hogle
Series: Standalone
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: April 7, 2020
Book Length: 368 pages 
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Review: 4/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

When your nemesis also happens to be your fiancé, happily ever after becomes a lot more complicated in this wickedly funny, lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy debut.

Naomi Westfield has the perfect fiancé: Nicholas Rose holds doors open for her, remembers her restaurant orders, and comes from the kind of upstanding society family any bride would love to be a part of. They never fight. They’re preparing for their lavish wedding that’s three months away. And she is miserably and utterly sick of him.

Naomi wants out, but there’s a catch: whoever ends the engagement will have to foot the nonrefundable wedding bill. When Naomi discovers that Nicholas, too, has been feigning contentment, the two of them go head-to-head in a battle of pranks, sabotage, and all-out emotional warfare.

But with the countdown looming to the wedding that may or may not come to pass, Naomi finds her resolve slipping. Because now that they have nothing to lose, they’re finally being themselves–and having fun with the last person they expect: each other.

My Review:

What can I say, I’m a sucker for contemporary romance, and this is the perfect book version of a romantic comedy. Also, that cover? Gorgeous! 😍

I loved the tension and playfulness between Naomi and Nicholas and all the silly little games they would play to get on each other’s nerves. It was done in such a way that I didn’t dislike either character, but rather was actually rooting for them to remember why they fell in love in the midst of all their shenanigans. The last quarter of the book was adorable and left me with such a happy feeling when I finished.

If you enjoyed The Hating Game by Sally Thorne, you’ll likely enjoy this too. I can’t wait to read more from Sarah Hogle and to find more contemporary romances like this in general! Lovers to enemies to lovers is definitely my thing 🙌

– Catherine

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Review// The Collector by John Fowles

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Author: John Fowles
Series: Standalone
Genre: Classic
Release Date: May 1963
Book Length: 283 pages 
Publisher: Vintage
Review: 2/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Withdrawn, uneducated and unloved, Frederick collects butterflies and takes photographs. He is obsessed with a beautiful stranger, the art student Miranda. When he wins the pools he buys a remote Sussex house and calmly abducts Miranda, believing she will grow to love him in time.

My Review:

I went into this expecting a thrilling, twisted, gripping story, because that’s what the synopsis made me believe would come of it, but I guess I’m an outlier with this one because despite the book having a pretty high rating overall, it kind of flat-lined for me.

Fredrick is an entomologist – a butterfly collector. He has been watching and following a beautiful young woman by the name of Miranda around town; he fantasizes and dreams about her, and about one day making her his. That day soon comes, as he wins a large sum of money from a football pool and buys a large house with a cellar in a remote area in order to abduct and keep Miranda. The first and last parts of the book are Fredrick’s account of what happened, and the middle is Miranda’s, taken from the diary she kept while being held in the cellar.

The idea of the plot intrigued me more than the execution of it. Though the climax of the book is pretty obvious, it felt so anticlimactic, partially because I knew it was coming from the beginning, and partially because the book just felt that stale. I wanted so badly to care about Miranda, and maybe my rating would have been higher if I did, but most of the time she didn’t even feel like a believable person with real feelings. In most of her diary entries, she would go on and on about an unrequited love for a professor twice her age, and honestly I just did not care for it.

I do feel like I may be missing something here based on the general consensus that other people seem to have about this book, but unfortunately for me personally, it fell short of my expectations.

– Catherine

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Review// Magic by Mike Russell

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Author: Mike Russell
Series: Standalone
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: March 5, 2020
Book Length: 268 pages 
Publisher: StrangeBooks
Review: 4/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Does magic exist? Charlie Watson thinks it does and he wants to tell you all about it. Before he was famous, Charlie Watson decided to write a book to share with the world everything he knew about magic. This is that book. You will discover why Charlie always wears a top hat, why his house is full of rabbits, how magic wands are made, how the universe began, and much, much more. Plus, for the first time, Charlie tells of the strange events that led him from England to the Arctic, to perform the extraordinary feat that made him famous, and he finally reveals whether that extraordinary feat was magic or whether it was just a trick.

My Review:

First off, I would like to thank the author for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

I’ve read almost all of Mike Russell’s books, and I have to say that this one is my favourite one. The beginning where the inception of magicians was described was one of the best parts, it was very clever and set the tone for the rest of the book. Something about this kind of reminded me of something you’d see in a Tim Burton movie – at least, that’s the way I pictured things in my head! Charlie was silly and sweet, and I fell in love with him and his quest for magic. I remember going to magic shows as a kid and being amazed at all they could do right in front of our eyes – reading this book gave me that feeling again.

I especially liked the message of the story, I thought it was really heart warming and sweet: everything is magic, even the most mundane, and if you go about your life believing in magic, you will always find it. 😊

-Catherine

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Review// Book Love by Debbie Tung

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Author: Debbie Tung
Series: Standalone
Genre: Graphic Novel
Release Date: January 1, 2019
Book Length: 137 pages 
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Review: 4/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Bookworms rejoice! These charming comics capture exactly what it feels like to be head-over-heels for hardcovers. And paperbacks! And ebooks! And bookstores! And libraries!

Book Love is a gift book of comics tailor-made for tea-sipping, spine-sniffing, book-hoarding bibliophiles. Debbie Tung’s comics are humorous and instantly recognizable—making readers laugh while precisely conveying the thoughts and habits of book nerds. Book Love is the ideal gift to let a book lover know they’re understood and appreciated.

My Review:

Have you ever been stuck waiting for the train, or at the doctor’s office and realized, with horror, that you forgot to pack a book in your bag before you left the house? Have you ever seen a stranger in public reading a book you love and had the impulse to approach them to gush about it? Have you ever bought a book whose sticker left a pesky residue that made you want to scream in annoyance? If your answer is yes to any of these questions, you are more than likely a book lover, and this book was made for you!

This graphic novel was very beautifully done, and reading it made me feel seen. It was filled with relatable dialogue about the great (and not so great) parts of being a book lover and the drawings were adorable – I mean, if the cover is any indication then obviously the drawings are adorable, just look at her. I even laughed out loud a few times, which surprised me because I didn’t think it was going to be funny. I guess it was funny because I didn’t realize that half of the things I do when it comes to books is something that only fellow book lovers will understand, and not what is generally recognized as ‘normal’ – and I am totally okay with that! 🙂

Anyway, this was my first graphic novel and a really good intro into the genre! Definitely want to make it my mission pick up more (so if anyone has any recommendations, let me know!). Highly recommend this one if you are looking for a cute, quick, relatable read.

-Catherine

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Review// My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

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Author: Elena Ferrante
Series: The Neapolitan Novels #1
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: October 19, 2011
Book Length: 331 pages 
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Review: 4/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

A modern masterpiece from one of Italy’s most acclaimed authors, My Brilliant Friend is a rich, intense and generous hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila. Ferrante’s inimitable style lends itself perfectly to a meticulous portrait of these two women that is also the story of a nation and a touching meditation on the nature of friendship. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighbourhood, a city and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her two protagonists.

My Review:

The phrase, “don’t judge a book by its cover” plays its role heavily here. If it weren’t for me having watched an episode of the show based on this book first, I never would have even given it second glance because of how unappealing the cover is to me.

The book transported me to Italy – the little Neapolitan town where Elena and Lina grew up appeared in my mind as if I were recounting it from my own memory rather than from the descriptions of a character in a novel. As someone whose familial roots are in Italy, and who has seen firsthand what the culture there is like between people in small towns, this hit the nail on the head. The gossip, violence, comradery – it all was very accurately portrayed. If there is one thing I didn’t like though, it’s that there were so many families, and so many characters in each family, that even by the end, I had trouble figuring out who was who, and to what family they belonged! Nonetheless, it did a great job of capturing what a small town in Italy is like for the reader – at least from what I can say of my own observations.

I really enjoyed reading about the childhood and adolescence of these two girls, and how their relationship blossomed and changed throughout the years. Although both very smart, I liked the contrast in character between the two – Elena being polite, meek, and a studious “good girl”, while Lina was the rebellious, headstrong, and mischievous one. Going into it, I had the impression that the ‘brilliant friend’ was referring to Lina, as Elena is the narrator of the story, so it surprised me when Lina referred to Elena as her ‘brilliant friend’ at one point in the novel. I guess, in a sense, each one is the other’s brilliant friend, but for different reasons. Both of these girls hold the friendship and opinion of the other in high regard, and although neither outright admit to it, it is clear that there is a power struggle within their relationship. At times, this greatly annoyed me, and it felt like their relationship was based solely on these little silent competitions: who moved on to middle school; who got their period first; who was prettier; who got a boyfriend first; who got married first. Admittedly though, this narrative is also what kept things interesting.

This book definitely ended on a cliff-hanger, and in a very odd spot too! I am very much looking forward to reading the next book in the series to find out where their story takes them.

-Catherine

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