Book Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid Book ReviewTitle: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publisher: Atria
Format: Paperback
Verdict: Read it!
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5

From Atria: Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

My Review: I adored THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO! If you love the glamour, romance and relentlessness surrounding the Hollywood film industry this book is for you! Evelyn is the fiction counterpart to sultry Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. She secured her spot at the top of the film industry during a time when men had the upper hand in Hollywood, and yes, she was ruthless and tough as nails but she had to be as a Cuban woman navigating the business.

Reid has a sharp eye for curating a narrative crossover between historical fiction and memoir. I was 100% emotionally invested in the richly developed plot and characters, which Reid executes brilliantly, and yes, even at Evelyn’s worst I still admired her. The rag magazine blurbs between chapters are a testament to how much we love looking into movie stars’ lives. I liked the alternating timeline – Evelyn reveals her darkest secrets from her past to Monique in the present and while Monique’s role is small her purpose delivers a huge wallop…no spoilers here…read the book! I found Evelyn’s resilience toward sexism, sexuality, racism and abuse exquisite. At the center of the book is a unique love story that will make your heart ache.

I cannot recommend this book enough. Its one of the best I have read and one I hope to read again.

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Book Review: Beartown

Beartown by Fredrik Backman Book ReviewTitle: Beartown
Author: Fredrik Backman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
Format: Purchased Book
Verdict: Must Read!!
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5

From Simon & Schuster: People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

My Review: This book can be summarized in one word: POWERFUL!  Beartown instilled emotion in me that made my heart want to explode from page one. Backman transported me into a place where I could feel the pain of every resident who inhabited Beartown, flailing on the cusp of survival but longing for so much more.

I loved everything about this story. Being a hockey fan is not required but being empathetic is. The characters are so real and defined. I put myself in their shoes. I ached for them. I understood them. Their struggles were harrowing and in a small hockey town full of team pride the struggles of loyalty, integrity, politics, sexual orientation and rape are magnified.

Set in a small, Swedish town within a forest buried nine months of the year under snowfall, the climate is harsh but it’s residents are harsher. Happiness is hard to come by and hinged on teenaged boys winning the hockey semi-finals finally putting Beartown on the map. But that victory never happens. Accusations are made and the town implodes, people that have known each other a lifetime turn their backs on one another.

This book is about a dying hockey town desperately trying to hold itself together, protect its hockey team during a dark time and just survive. Just survive: two words spoken over and over throughout the book.

Beartown is a heavy story encountering rape, injustice, homophobia, bullying and racism. But amidst the weight this is also an uplifting and inspirational novel.  As soon as I finished the final page I was flooded with emotions, especially for four characters: Kira, Maya, Benji and Amat – long live the fearless and strong bear inside of them.

 

Summer Reading List 2017

This is a loosely curated list of books I think are great summer reads covering several genres.  Some of these books I have already read and highly recommend to you, others are from my extensive to-be-read (TBR) list which I’m excited to read and a few will be published this summer.

It is likely this summer book list will continue evolving throughout the summer.  As I read new books that I think are summer-worthy reads I will add them here so please check back!

UNSUB by Meg GardinerTitle: UNSUB (review coming soon!)
Author: Meg Gardiner
Genre: Suspense & Thriller | Crime Mystery
Publication Date: June 27, 2017
From Dutton: A riveting psychological thriller inspired by the never-caught Zodiac Killer, about a young detective determined to apprehend the serial murderer who destroyed her family and terrorized a city twenty years earlier.

The Forever Summer by Jamie BrennerTitle: The Forever Summer
Author: Jamie Brenner
Genre: Fiction
Publication Date: April 25, 2017
From Little, Brown and Company: When a DNA test reveals long-buried secrets, three generations of women reunite on Cape Cod for the homecoming of a lifetime.

The Arrangement by Sarah DunnTitle: The Arrangement
Author: Sarah Dunn
Genre: Fiction
Publication Date: March 21, 2017
From Little, Brown and Company: A hilarious and emotionally charged novel about a couple who embark on an open marriage-what could possibly go wrong?

Dark Matter by Blake CrouchTitle: Dark Matter
Author: Blake Crouch
Genre: Suspense & Thriller | Science Fiction
Publication Date: July 26, 2016
From Crown Publishing: – “Are you happy with your life?”

 

China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin KwanTitle: China Rich Girlfriend
Author: Kevin Kwan
Genre: Fiction – Women’s
Publication Date: June 16, 2015
From Knofp Doubleday: From the bestselling author of Crazy Rich Asians comes a deliciously fun story of family, fortune, and fame in Mainland China.

Bear Town by Fredrik BackmanTitle: Beartown
Author: Fredrik Backman
Genre: Fiction – Literary, Humourous
Publication Date: April 25, 2017
From Atria Books: People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys…

Ginny Moon by Benjamin LudwigTitle: Ginny Moon
Author: Benjamin Ludwig
Genre: Fiction – Coming of Age, Family Life, Literary
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
From Park Row Books: Ginny Moon is an illuminating look at one girl’s journey to find her way home. In this stunning debut, Benjamin Ludwig gives a voice to the voiceless, reminding us that often we only hear those who speak the loudest, and there’s much to be learned by opening up our ears and our hearts.

The Rosie Project by Graeme SimsionTitle: The Rosie Project
Author: Graeme Simsion
Genre: Fiction – Romance, Humourous
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
From Simon & Schuster: The art of love is never a science: Meet Don Tillman, a brilliant yet socially inept professor of genetics, who’s decided it’s time he found a wife. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which Don approaches all things, he designs the Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, the late arrivers…

A Beautiful, Terrible Thing by Jen WaiteTitle: A Beautiful, Terrible Thing
Author: Jen Waite
Genre: Biography & Memoir | Psychology
Publication Date: July 11, 2017
From Penguin Random House: What do you do when you discover that the person you’ve built your life around never existed? When “it could never happen to me” does happen to you?

The Hatching by Ezekiel BooneTitle: The Hatching
Author: Ezekiel Boone
Genre: Science Fiction | Suspense | Horror
Publication Date: July 5, 2016
From Atria Books: An astonishingly inventive and terrifying debut novel about the emergence of an ancient species, dormant for over a thousand years, and now on the march.