I am finishing up dinner with my family and my fiancé when my husband calls.
When I discovered Taylor Jenkins Reid in June, after reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (My review of that book HERE), I knew she would be one of my favorite authors. I regretted not having read her books sooner, but was also excited because I knew there were four other books I could look forward to reading. One True Loves (apparently I’m working backwards by publication date) is very different from Evelyn Hugo, but only in subject matter. The writing, humanity, and Reid’s ability to break my heart are all there in abundance.
Emma Blair, a 20-something free spirit, marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. On their first anniversary, Jesse goes missing in a helicopter crash while on a filming job and is presumed dead. Devastated, Emma moves back home, takes over the family bookstore, and finds love in another high school friend, Sam. Now in her 30s, Emma is stable, in love again, and has put aside her previous free-spirited life. Until Jesse is found, alive, and determined to get Emma back after surviving for many years with the thought of returning to her. Emma must decide which of her true loves is the one for her, and which version of herself is the true one.
This is women’s fictions/chick lit/popular fiction/whatever you want to call it done so, so right. If you just read the back of the book, you might be under the impression that this is a light, fluffy read. It is most definitely not. Yes, it’s a love story, but it’s really about how people change over the years, and grow up . . . and sometimes apart. Reid isn’t afraid of putting her characters through the ringer, and in doing so she acknowledges how painful life can be sometimes, but also how beautiful it can become after difficult decisions.
The characters felt like real people to me, and I was nervous for them. I loved how they all actually talked to each other too. In so many books, no one tells anyone else how they’re feeling, they just think it so that only the reader knows. These characters are straightforward with each other, and there’s real emotion there because of it. It felt like watching a real life play out. Kind of like those episodes of Parenthood that were so real I was certain that I was spying on a real family.
If you enjoy women’s fiction with a lot of heart that makes you think Taylor Jenkins Reid is THE author to read. One True Loves isn’t just another love triangle story where a pretty girl has to choose between two guys who love her. This is much deeper, and addresses who we are in the past, present, and future, and how that affects the people closest to us. This book broke my heart in the best way, and I’m so glad I read it. I’m here for whatever story Reid wants to tell.
Thank you so much to Random House Children’s Books and Allison Judd for the free copy of this book! All opinions are my own!
Snow and Rose didn’t know they were living in a fairy tale. People never do . . .
The last few years have been great for fractured fairy tales and fairy tale retellings. I am a huge fan of all of those, and actual fairy tales. Emily Winfield Martin’s Snow & Rose is a retelling of the Grimm fairy tale Snow White and Rose Red, a fairy tale I did read as a child but that most people haven’t heard of. Winfield Martin twists the old fairy tale into a wonderful new one, with beautiful illustrations to boot.
In the original tale, Snow White and Rose Red (not the Snow White of dwarf and evil queen fame) are sisters who live with their widowed mother in the woods. One winter night they find a bear at their door. They take care of it all winter, and when it disappears in the summer, the sisters run away to look for it. There is an encounter with an evil dwarf, and the bear ends up killing up. In doing so, the spell put on him is broken and he is revealed to a prince. Snow White marries the prince and Rose Red marries his brother.
This retelling is a bit different.
The sisters are still there, and they live with their mother deep in the woods, but they are not at all convinced that their father has died. When the bear they have been taking care of disappears, the two sisters go after him to try and keep the woodsman from killing him. With a healthy dose of magic, enchantment, and help from a friend, Snow White and Rose Red discover who the bear really is, and their lives are changed forever.
I loved this book, and it would make a beautiful gift for someone who loves fairy tales or magical stories. Aside from the story itself being wonderful, the book is absolutely beautiful. Winfield Martin’s illustrations are gorgeous and the cover would look amazing on any bookshelf. While this is a children’s book (probably age 9 or 10 and up), I enjoyed it very much. It’s a beautiful fairy tale to disappear into for a few hours. I love how the author re-imagined this story and made it more modern, with strength and family as a prize, not a princely husband.
Snow & Rose is a lovely, entertaining book with a strong message about family, loyalty, and what it means to never give up on someone.
I have been dying to get my hands on this book for what seems like forever. It’s been much hyped in the bookstagram community, so when my library hold finally came in I rushed right over to get it. I enjoy reading holiday books, but I don’t generally go for the plucky, romantic books. (But you can bet I’ll be watching Netflix’s A Christmas Prince real soon.) Samantha Silva’s Mr. Dickens and His Carol is not that kind of book (although it is a wonderfully sweet story), and I absolutely loved it. If you’re looking for a well-told, historically-based holiday story, this is it!
. . . for the truth at the bottom of every illusion, every fiction, every lie: our own great desire to believe.
Mr. Dickens and His Carol, part fact part Silva’s imagination, begins with Charles Dickens himself in a holiday slump. He is sick of Christmas excess, sick of his family and friends always needing money from him, and sick of his publishers hounding him to write a Christmas book he doesn’t want to write. (And giving him only two weeks in which to write that book.) He isolates himself in a hotel room to write the book, for which he has little inspiration, and spends his nights taking long walks around London to try and clear his mind. On one of his walks, he meets a mysterious woman named Eleanor Lovejoy who challenges Dickens to re-think what he believes about Christmas, family, friendship, and love. Their friendship sparks a Christmas story that changes everything.
This is a feel-good story that isn’t cheesy. Dickens wants to believe in the spirit of Christmas again but is unable to because of all the pressure placed on him by everyone around him. That’s something we can all relate to on different levels. In her Author’s Note, Silva includes which parts are completely true, including the situation (A Christmas Carol was written out of financial necessity, and Dickens was under immense pressure) and some of the characters’ lines. She fills in the gaps to create a magical, sentimental story of how Dickens may have been inspired to write this story in her imagination.
This a beautiful story of love and family, of the Christmas spirit, and of a man who needed to find himself to break a serious case of writer’s block. I want to know more about Dickens and the history of A Christmas Carol now, and I’m already looking up more books about the subject! (There’s also a great twist that completely surprised me because I was so caught up in the story and how good the writing was. I didn’t see it coming at all!) Mr. Dickens and His Carol is a perfect holiday read, and I would recommend it to anyone.
I was born here but I’ve never gotten used to it; Helsingborg and I will never find peace. Maybe everyone feels that way about their hometown: the place we’re from never apologizes, never admits that it was wrong about us.
Fredrik Backman is one of my favorite writers, and a true wordsmith. I fell in love with A Man Called Ove (My review of that book is HERE.), and I’ve fallen head over heels for his new Christmas novella The Deal of a Lifetime.
The story begins with a father writing a letter to his son on Christmas Eve. Instead of a typical feel-good letter, the father is writing to tell his son that he has taken a life. Throughout the course of the novella, we meet a 5-year-old girl with cancer, a mysterious woman who drifts in and out of the picture, and find out why the narrator feels he failed as a parent. When he is given the opportunity to commit a selfless act and save the little girl, he has to see what his life was really worth before he can make the deal. Thus, he writes a letter to his son, examining his entire life.
This book yanked at my heartstrings right from the introduction. I was hooked before the book had even begun. Backman gets the feelings of a man trying to do right, and the strange feelings that accompany returning to a hometown that you might never have felt at home in, exactly right. This novella is only 65 pages long, but I smiled, I laughed, and I definitely cried.
The book is so short, and I don’t want to give the entire plot away, so just know that it is the story of a man desperate to fix things in the past, and the deal a parent is willing to make to achieve those changes. The Deal of a Lifetime is a beautiful, warm, and emotional story, and if you really want to feel something, with a little holiday thrown in, I beg you to pick up this book. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!
Maybe all people have that feeling deep down, that your hometown is something you can never really escape, but can never really go home to, either. Because it’s not home anymore. We’re not trying to make peace with it. Not with the streets and bricks of it. Just with the person we were back then. And maybe forgive ourselves for everything we thought we would become and didn’t.[Top]
All her life, she had learned that passion, like fire, was a dangerous thing. It so easily went out of control.
Celeste Ng’s first book, Everything I Never Told You, took 6 years to write. I’m so glad we didn’t have to wait 6 more from that publication to her newest. Little Fires Everywhere is Ng’s newest masterpiece, and it is just that. She’s managed to do what many authors cannot, and that is to write a second novel that is even better than her first. I was hooked from the first line, and I didn’t want to put it down. This book made me feel all the feelings, and made me question a whole lot about how I see the world and the people living in it.
Rules existed for a reason: if you followed them, you would succeed; if you didn’t, you might burn the world to the ground.
Shaker Heights, Ohio, is a perfectly planned community full of perfectly planned families. Elena Richardson, journalist, mother of 4, wife of 1, grew up in Shaker Heights and returned to start a family right after college. Image is extremely important to her, and she works hard to maintain a shining one. When Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl move to town, looking to start a new chapter in their lives, Elena takes it upon herself to help them out, beginning with giving them a good deal on a rental. But when Pearl and Elena’s children become entwined, Elena starts to wonder about Mia’s mysterious past, and why they don’t really know anything about her. When one of Elena’s friends tries to adopt a Chinese-American baby, Mia and Elena, as well as the entire town, are split on whether or not the adoption should go through. Elena will not stop looking into Mia’s past until she figures out everything, no matter how many lives she ruins along the way.
The first thing that came to mind when I started reading this book was the song Little Boxes. (It was the theme song to the TV show Weeds, and it’s about perfect little box houses all in a row, and all the families looking the same.) Ng’s Shaker Heights is just like the song. Everyone has a large, perfect house, everyone is a doctor, lawyer, or executive, and everyone wants to be the same. Elena’s youngest child, Izzy (who I wanted so much more of), throws a wrench into those plans, and that’s all I’ll say because I don’t want to ruin the plot for you.
This book made me think, and I’m still thinking about it. It made me question my own motives behind the decisions I’ve made, and what kind of judgments I’m willing to pass on people who I’ve never met. Elena wants to be charitable, and she is, but only for certain people who meet certain criteria. She is very quick to pass judgment on other people and their situations, but that judgment changes when she or her family is in a similar situation. Ng really confronts the black and white that most of us use for right and wrong, and delves into all the shades of gray that are in between.
The writing, as usual, is wonderful. Ng moves fluidly between the characters’ past and present, and does so so seamlessly that not only did I not feel removed from the main story, I didn’t even realize it was happening. She is such a beautiful writer. (And I mean that in the best way, not in the, “this book is highbrow and no one can really understand it” way.) It is a brilliant, original story, and I literally hugged the book when I finished it and wanted to re-read it immediately.
Little Fires Everywhere is one of my favorite books of 2017, and most likely will be a lifetime favorite. It is heartbreaking and intriguing. It deeply examines familial relationships, as well as the way we pass judgment on other people. Ng shows that sometimes life isn’t just about keeping secrets for secrets’ sake, but about why we keep them, and what lengths we go to to protect our children and family. (And what exactly makes up that family.)
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ X 1,000
I have to include my favorite quote here, because it made me tear up when I read it, as a parent and as a fan of Ng’s writing.
“Parents, she thought, learned to survive touching their children less and less. It was like training yourself to live on the smell of an apple alone, when what you really wanted was to devour it, to sink your teeth into it, and consume it, seeds, core, and all.”
Ng is an expert at pinpointing the exact feeling we can all relate to and leaning into it with all her might. If you read this book and don’t feel SOMETHING, well, read it again!