Review: Family Affair

A Family Affair Debbie Macomber
Title:
Family Affair
Author: Debbie Macomber
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: January 4, 2011
Genre: Fiction | Contemporary Romance
Synopsis from Harper Collins

Review: Cat lovers and romance novel lovers will rejoice over Family Affair, a light and heartwarming story as only Macomber, the mother of sweet, tasteful romance can deliver.

Recently divorced and swearing off men, heartbroken Lacey Lancaster has a bone to pick with her neighbour Jack Walker. Jack’s cat, Dog, impregnates her Abyssinian, Cleo and Lacey wants to know what Jack (and Dog) are going to do about it. You see, Lacey intended to breed beautiful Cleo and now Dog has messed up her plans. Jack has been interested in Lacey since she moved into their San Francisco apartment complex and now he has Dog to thank for getting Lacey to let down her guard and let Jack into her life.

This is a short read about starting over and new love. Add a steaming cup of tea, a warm blanket and tuck in for a cozy afternoon.

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Review: The Hopefuls

The Hopefuls Jennifer Close
Title: The Hopefuls
Author: Jennifer Close
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: July 19, 2016
Genre: Fiction | Literary | Women’s Fiction
Synopsis from Knopf

Review: The Hopefuls delivers a fun and engaging insight into political campaign life. The who’s who of Washington, D.C. flashing their security clearances and acronym employers. I’ve always found the whole D.C. political scene intriguing and glamorizing thanks to shows like Scandal and The West Wing. Close superbly blends a double narrative together about the campaign trail and it’s effect on personal relationships.

Beth and Matt trade in their posh NYC lifestyle for D.C. so Matt can join President Obama’s Inauguration Committee. Beth doesn’t fit the culture and never really acclimates and having Matt’s family close by (with a mother-in-law who treats her like an outsider) gives Beth more reason to hate D.C. When they meet Texans Jimmy and Ashleigh (Ash), the four of them hit it off. Matt’s career slows down while Jimmy’s takes off and Matt finds himself running Jimmy’s Texas Railroad Commissioner campaign. The two couples forge a close relationship and move in together during the campaign but friendships and marriages with the best intentions are tough to maintain with the strains of jealousy, tension and temptation.

I listened to the audiobook and really enjoyed the narration, especially the Texas accents. I liked the characters despite Beth being a bit too negative and complain-y in the beginning, overall I think this is a worthy read.

Review: Brother

Brother David Chariandy
Title:
Brother
Author: David Chariandy
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Publication Date: September 26, 2017
Genre: Fiction | Literary
Synopsis from McClelland & Stewart

Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for providing me a free arc in exchange for my honest review. 

Review: Brother is a timely short story and exploration of racism, poverty, and police brutality. This book will strike a chord with humankind. Chariandy doesn’t mince words as this story quickly unfolds about an immigrant Trinidadian family who moved to Canada to find the American Dream.

Brothers, Francis and Michael come of age during the late 80’s / early 90’s. Immigrants were not welcomed and received backlash to go back where they came from. Their mother works long days and wants better for her sons. Food is scarce and racism prevalent. The boys love hip hop music and Francis has high hopes the music scene will get him out of their rundown Scarborough neighbourhood. The brothers are close and do everything together but Michael has a hard time fitting in and navigating the tough crowd Francis befriends. Francis is the older brother and in the absence of a father falls in line as protector and shoulders the responsibility of income also leaving little in the way of being a child. Their mother has one expectation of them and that’s not to screw up this opportunity.

This is not a feel-good story. The narrative intensifies and the final scene is numbing. This book is about brotherly love, social injustice and survival. It felt cold and distant but it’s an important story that’s timely and appropriate for diverse reading.

Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere

IMG_0895Title: Little Fires Everywhere
Author: Celeste NG
Publisher: Penguin Press
Publication Date: September 12, 2017
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5

From Penguin: In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

My Review: Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a finished copy of Little Fires Everywhere in exchange for my honest review.

LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE exceeded my expectations in every possible way! Ng’s narrative and plot are top notch and the characters are heroic in their own right. I was 100% invested in this book from page one! I was every bit a part of Shaker Heights community as this brilliant cast of characters and personally woven into the family complexities brimming with every happy and heart breaking moment as I turned each page eager for more.

This is a story about family and community. Shaker Heights, Ohio is proud of its rules, lifelong residents and ordinariness. The Richardson’s are an upper class family who from the outside appear to have it all. Elena is a reporter and her husband an attorney. Their four children are typical, likeable kids. When newcomers Mia and Pearl Warren move into the Richardson’s rental house the family is instantly drawn to the mother and daughter. Mia is an artist who holds down a number of odd jobs to provide for Pearl. She is mysterious and wise and exudes compassion, empathy, courage – I completely and utterly adored her!

Elena and Mia find themselves on opposite sides of a custody battle involving Elena’s longtime friend and a poor immigrant mother. Shaker Heights is divided, damaging secrets are revealed and relationships strained. There are so many complexities woven into this story – an analysis of motherhood and family, vengeance, looking at a family through rose coloured glasses – so, so much intrigue!

I cannot recommend this book enough. It’s beautifully written and one I will hold onto forever and read again.

 

Book Review: Every Last Word

Title: Every Last Word
Author: Tamara Ireland Stone
Publisher: Hyperion Teens
Publication Date: June 16, 2015
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5

From Hyperion: If you could read my mind, you wouldn’t be smiling. Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can’t turn off. Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn’t help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of a wrong outfit, wrong lunch, or wrong crush. Yet Sam knows she’d be truly crazy to leave the protection of the most popular girls in school. So when Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor and no style a secret, right up there with Sam’s weekly visits to her psychiatrist. Caroline introduces Sam to Poet’s Corner, a hidden room and a tight-knit group of misfits who have been ignored by the school at large. Sam is drawn to them immediately, especially a guitar-playing guy with a talent for verse, and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. Slowly, she begins to feel more “normal” than she ever has as part of the popular crowd . . . until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear.

My Review: When I finished EVERY LAST WORD I immediately thought about how hard it is to attain and maintain friendships during the difficult teenaged years, especially with superficial types like the Eights, but moreover when you throw a disorder like OCD into the mix. I applaud Sam on so many fronts; holding herself together so her friends perceive her as ‘normal’, her devotion to the swim team, her love for Poet’s Corner, her relationship with A.J. and just being real even when it’s not cool – I loved everything about Sam!

And as much as I admired Sam I also empathized with her. When she opens up to her friends, the Eights about her disorder and faces the reality that she’s not getting better my heart ached for her. She is so likeable – compassionate and caring and I completely and utterly adored her relationship with A.J., who was an oddball by her friends’ standards, but her love for him is too strong to let the Eights come between them. I felt a range of emotions with this one – happiness, heartbreak, acceptance, courage.

I listened to the audiobook version and did not relate at all to the narrator. This book is for teens and the narrators voice is sultry, which I found wholly inappropriate for this book.