Book Review: After You (JoJoMoyes) – CONTAINS SPOILERS –


Plot: How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?

Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.

Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future…

For Lou Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes gives us two families, as real as our own, whose joys and sorrows will touch you deeply, and where both changes and surprises await.

Rating: 8/10

The events of After You take place after Will Traynor’s assisted suicide in Me Before You. Louisa Clark, his handler and eventual love interest, is dealing with the aftermath of his death. Society is no different than usual and judges her for her actions, thinking that she benefited from his death and perhaps should have done more to have stopped him. But they aren’t on ground zero with Louisa. They don’t know how hard she finds it to cope and to live to up to the expectations she can feel from beyond Will’s grave to live an extraordinary life. An accident makes her parents wonder whether she was planning to commit suicide as well, and despite her best assurances she still attends a support group for bereaved people to ease her parents’ mind. Slowly, life starts to normalize and even look more positive, but the appearance of someone who she thought impossible usurps her life once again. Can she fix herself one more time? Move on from Will?

On the new character front Sam appears, and I can now list him as a book boyfriend. I loved him. I knew from the get go that this couldn’t be the guy Jake was referring to. I knew somehow somewhere there was a gap in communication, and serve Louisa right for thinking the worst. Sam was decent, trustworthy, dependable, really hot and not without scars. Someone perfectly whole wouldn’t have been a good choice for Lou. She’s seen too much and gone through a lot of heartbreak. I was ready to write all the angry letters to JoJoMoyes during the last few chapters in the book, but it would have been for nothing as the end result really pleased me.

The biggest shocker of the book is the existence of Lily, Will’s daughter. I immediately pitied Lily. Her mother was clearly horrible at parenting, she had no foundation and everything she needed to turn into a stable kid was removed at her mother’s whim. Discovering that she had a father that became quadriplegic and chose to end his own life couldn’t have been a joy, and realizing that the family he left behind was neither whole nor perfect sure was a shocker too. I called most of the eventual developments on this character, but that doesn’t mean that I am not happy she ended up with Mrs. Traynor. They both needed something to get them through life, and they are perfect to depend on each other.

Lou’s family is still a driving force in her life. Her brilliant sister, saddled with a young boy so early. Her mother discovering her feminism and her father’s objection to it causes some hilarity but is also a reminder of how life must look for women who spent their entire lives looking after their children. I really liked that these characters remained in the book as it was such a central part to Lou’s character.

I really liked the pace and development of each character. After You certainly is more conventionally romance than Me Before You was. I was reminded of how I thought Marian Keyes would be if she chose to write about normal things. JoJoMoyes has the ability to get you unhealthily involved. I was so stressed about every character in that book. Her support characters are as well developed as her main characters, and she writes them with empathy and humor. You can’t help root as hard for Lou’s mother who is refusing to shave her legs as you are rooting for Lou, worry about Jake, think about Donna and most of all, wonder about the wellbeing of the Traynor family.

I was a huge fan of this book. It made me sad when it ended. I would have loved a third instalment. I checked but I seem to be unlucky in that regard. I recommend naturally that you read the first novel first (the movie doesn’t do it justice) and then read this one. Both are compelling reads that will touch your heart.

PS: Can I please have a Sam?

Book Review: Chasing Harry Winston (Lauren Weisberger)


Plot: Meet Emmy, Leigh, and Adriana. Best friends since college, each has seen her share of career foils and romantic foibles over the past decade. Now, as they approach thirty, they’re looking toward their future…but despite all the success and luxuries they’ve attained—they’re not quite sure they like what they see.

When they are each alone for one reason or another on Valentine’s Day, the trio makes a pact. Within one year, each woman will change the thing that most challenges her. For Emmy, whose boyfriend of five years just left her for a personal trainer, it will be to find romance—or a fling—in every foreign country she visits. For Leigh, a book editor with a dream boyfriend and dream apartment, no change seems necessary—until she starts to notice a brilliant and brooding man named Jesse. And for commitment-phobic, drop-dead-gorgeous Adriana, her goal is to have an engagement ring and a house in Scarsdale. Each woman starts the first day of the year with the best of intentions—which is exactly why the pact goes immediately, and exceptionally, awry.

Filled with delicious insider details, Chasing Harry Winston whisks readers into the heart of an elite world, where friendships will be tested to the point of breaking, and showcases Weisberger’s best storytelling efforts to date

Rating: 5/10

This had to be one of the most grating books I’ve ever read. If you don’t remember, I felt like the other novel of Weisberger (The Devil Wears Prada) was essentially full of white girl problems where the character felt she was being treated badly because work was tough and people didn’t automatically just like, like her. While Chasing Harry Winston doesn’t directly deal with Privileged College children that expect stellar treatment everywhere they go in life, it deals once again with the type of people I suspect the author knows and understands way too well because she is one of them. Emma, Leigh and Adriana are all three insufferable for legion of reasons. Adriana was the worst of the three – a privileged trust fund baby that hasn’t had to work for anything in her life, which is spoiled and is weak of character and completely lacking of morals. I rarely consider myself a prude, but with the amount of men Adriana has slept with she seems to be the ambassador for the local brothel. I found her way too annoying – her constant attention seeking, her sleeping around and her lack of any direction was just too much in one character to deal with. I felt that the character was written in a way to represent Sofia Vergara’s character on Modern Family – anyone share that notion?

Emma was more frustrating than she was intolerable. She’s just one of those women who are so stuck on relationships becoming married that she’s a shadow being without any real personality and that makes me furious. I appreciated that she took note of the fact that she should immediately think marriage when meeting a man, but it was extremely ridiculous that she felt ashamed with only sleeping with three men in her life – again, I must be a prude here to dare think that three sexual partners are sufficient (a bit more than).

Leigh was probably the character I identified the most with – she’s so happy to just be by herself and constantly worrying whether it is a crime, and living a stress ridden life that most people think is perfect but is actually just a lot of managing crises after crisis. Although, she really should have dumped Russell’s ass early on – while he seems to be a nice man he’s obviously a walkover and not the man for her. I’ve been where she was – in a relationship because everyone wanted her to be in one, which is about as healthy to your mental well being as tuberculosis is to your physical well being.

Something that made me see red was the constant use of the “dear” and “sweetheart” –I use “dear” only to friends when I’m being a little sarcastic and really only in emails in work where I am forced to be polite. These three characters? DEAR DEARDEAR SWEETHEART. Every conversation contains these endearments and really, who even addresses people they know like that? What is wrong with you?

This book lacks originality – the story has been used ten million times and nothing new – people who need to change: one woman is too commitment heavy, the other too commitment phobic and the last is seemingly perfect but really not. This is a standard story for any half-baked author who wants to push chicklit onto the market and if you’ve read it once, you’ve read it a hundred times.

The ending very slightly redeemed the book. It wasn’t an original ending by any means– like I said, if you read it once, you’ve read it a hundred times. Everyone ends up being more themselves than they were, more accepting of their own worth and heading forwards into life. Emma discovers that she can truly walk away, Leigh finds the courage to do something that she should have done ages ago and Adriana finally gets a job. It’s worth something that Adriana didn’t end up marrying Toby, but gosh, still one of the most disgusting characters I’ve read about in a while.

I was obviously riled enough at this book to write this entire review out, so there’s something. The print was also exceptionally tiny on my copy – so the book was actually quite long. However, reading it went quick, so I can probably mention one thing good that it is a fast paced read. Anyway, it was an exceptional waste of time. Have you read it? What did you think?

Book Review: The Collaborator (Margaret Leroy)



1940, Guernsey…

Vivienne de la Mare waits nervously for the bombs to come. Instead comes occupation. Nothing is safe anymore. But was anything truly safe before?

The façade of the perfect wife, with her husband fighting on the frontline, cracks under the strain of the lie. Her new life is one where the enemy lives next door. Small acts of kindness from one Nazi soldier feels like a betrayal. A forbidden friendship in a frightening world. But how can you hate your enemy when you know his name, when he makes you feel alive, when everything else is dying around you?

Vivienne is fighting her own private war. On one side, the safe, secret, loving world she could build with her captain; on the other, virtuous loneliness and danger. It’s time for Vivienne to choose: collaboration or resistance…

Rating: 8/10

A two word review of The Collaborator would be “thought-provoking”. Set in the Crown Dependency Island Guernsey during WWII, The Collaborator raises some interesting questions. Can we really call someone our enemy without them having personally slighted us? When they appear to be kind and thoughtful and ready to help out? When they are your enemy based on a war that is not occurring in front of your eyes but somewhere far away?

Leroy goes all out by writing her male lead as a German soldier, the most reviled characters of WWII. She refrained from writing Gunther as SS, because there would be no redeeming qualities in such a person and her book would have flopped. Gunther is merely a man that is fighting for his country and actually grateful to live on the small island and not to further Hitler’s mad plans around the world. He misses his old life, and Vivienne and Gunther are able to create some fragile contentment in their lives for a while. As the war continues Vivienne finds it more difficult to remain impassive about it and questions how much Gunther is also turning a blind eye too. Can the two exit the war unscathed?

Leroy wrote this book with an underlying tension. The feeling is so dreary and tense. It brings the reader to ground level and makes you question your beliefs about a lot of things – religion, the Germans in a time where everyone hated the Germans. Vivienne starts to crack as the soldier’s wife – she knew her husband cheated on her before the war, he made her feel inadequate and he was already emotionally removed from her when he left to go to war. Can we blame her for cracking? Do we dare? Max and Gunther, part of the German army, are seemingly good men fighting for their country’s honor. They aren’t evil bastards running death camps, they are soldiers working on a small island doing as they are instructed. They face harsh punishment and certain death if they rebel. Some in their group aren’t as kind as these two, which leads to some complications later on as one would expect.

What I consider a huge improvement from the previous Leroy novel I read, The Lake House, is that Vivienne actually cares for and considers her children a great deal. Millie and Blanche are a few years apart and both pose a different challenge to Vivienne – Millie is young and requires a lot of care, while Blanche is on the verge of the rest of her life and struggling to remain a young teenager when the world around her is crumbling and harsh. On top of these troubles is Vivienne’s elderly mother-in-law, who can be extremely forgetful and dangerously attentive at times. So can we really judge her for seeking her comfort with a kind, understanding German soldier? I couldn’t.

The book has some surprises in store – the awakening of Vivienne’s determination to do something for the prisoners of war, the twisting at unexpected times and the very sad and bleak end. I’m not usually one for such a depressing end, but it suited the tone of the book – war is a cruelty that changes people and destroys lives.

The Collaborator probably wouldn’t be enjoyed by everyone. I liked it though – it kept me in such suspense most of the time and I kept thinking about it while I wasn’t reading it, a sure sign that a book is a good read.

Book Review: The Woman Who Stole My Life (Marian Keyes)


Plot: Stella Sweeney is back in Dublin. After living the dream in New York for a year – touring her self-help book, appearing on talk shows all over the USA and living it up in her 10-room duplex on the Upper West Side – she’s back to normality with a bang. And she’s got writer’s block.

Stella wants a clean break as she didn’t exactly leave New York on a high. Why is she back in Ireland so soon? Who is it who keeps calling? Stella wants to get back to being the woman she used to be. But can she? And should she?

Rating: 6.5/10

It took me ages to read TWWSML. I read the first half really quickly, but it was super easy to get bored with the story. I did like that it ran in two different time zones – the present and the past events that lead up to the main character’s current situation. As usual the book contained truly Marian Keyes quirks, but for the most part it was a lot more normal than the previous book of Marian Keyes that I read. The Brightest Star in the Sky was odd to say the least, and this is a return to more moderate work from Keyes, which I enjoyed. It is more in the format of just a normal Irish tale, and I was fine with it.

Including a fascinating autoimmune disease was a great idea. GuillaineBarregot me reading up about the disease, and I patted myself on the back not only for understanding what went down but also learning a bit more about my field of work.

The book was really a big read, and the end was really rushed. It was a bit disconcerting to slosh through five hundred pages to have the ending run away like that. As for characters, I really hated her ex-husband. He was absolutely awful, and I’m not surprised that they ended up being divorced. I could in a way understand her child’s attitude – he’s young and his parents weren’t giving him a stable environment, but a grown ass man acting like that? Inexcusable.

TWWSML really wasn’t bad – it was just way too long. Have you read it? How did you feel about it?

Book Review: Skin Deep (Nora Roberts)


O’Hurleys #3


Regrets. Even movie stars have them. Chantel O’Hurley’s family was far away, her mansion was empty, and when she was threatened, there was no one to turn to. There was certainly no comfort in Quinn Doran. He looked like he’d been carved out of stone and he was just as intractable. But in that hardness was a promise: “I will keep you safe. I will bring you home.” But could she get him to stay?

Rating: 6/10

Usually the book with the extremely beautiful woman in irritates me the most in the Nora quartet/trilogies, but I enjoyed this one. I think Chantel O’Hurley was decently written and NR took such lengths to make her more than a pretty face. I thoroughly enjoyed Quinn’s extremely abrasive attitude and thought it well suited to his role in the book. The stalker Chantel had was creepy but I thought that didn’t end too well – I hate the whole he’s-ill-lets-forgive-him routine. Such silliness. If someone stalked me, I would NOT be that nice. The book was enjoyable and a lot more probable than its predecessor. Good times!

Book Review: Last Chance Saloon (Marian Keyes)

Last chance saloon


Ever since legwarmers were cool, best friends Tara, Katherine, and Fintan have survived small-town ennui, big-city heartbreak, and endless giddy nights out on the town. But now that they’ve graduated to their slightly more serious thirties, only Fintan has what can honestly be called a “love life.” With Tara struggling daily with her eternal diet—and her dreadful, penny-pinching boyfriend—and Katherine keeping her single existence as organized as her drawer full of matching bra and panty sets, it seems they’ll never locate the exit door out of the “last chance saloon.”

But it’s always when you are least ready for change that fate insists on one. And when catastrophe inevitably follows crisis, the lives of three best friends are sure to change in unexpected ways … and not necessarily for the worse.

Rating: 7/10

One of the biggest things that deter people I know from finishing a Marian Keyes novel is that she differs so wildly in writing styles, plots and execution throughout her novels. It is actually something I enjoy but I do agree that it makes her unpredictable.

It was sometimes a frustrating read and slow at certain places, I wanted to murder some of the characters at a few points in time and I wished viciously, as I often do in life, that they could just eat some cement and harden the hell up.

The main theme around Last Chance Salloon is death. One of the main characters is diagnosed with cancer, and requests that his two oldest friends, Katherine and Tara, take chances – Katherine should get a boyfriend and Tara should dump her stupid, cruel and deadbeat boyfriend.

Let’s start with Tara here – I hated her. There are a few people in life that I can’t can’t can’t tolerate, and she managed to be all of them: Obsessed with what she’s eating, constantly, her weight, all her insecurities badly managed and her desperate obsession with ALWAYS being in a relationship (I could write for decades about how that particular character trait irritates me in people). I’m glad she finds her way in the end, but she will never be my favourite character.

I think my hate for Tara was probably fuelled by my tolerance for Katherine. I appreciated her stance that she didn’t need a relationship, and I loved how her relationship developed with Joe – he was the alpha male that Keyes pens very well, and we all want a boyfriend like that. Despite being the alpha male, he was way more sweet and tolerant of Katherine’s bullshit than she deserved.

Fintan, the other main protagonist, doesn’t get his own sections of the book, and that was fine with me. It is always risky jumping between characters when telling it from a first person perspective, and yet another layer wouldn’t have worked. He was the catalyst in the book, forcing Tara and Katherine to face their own bullshit. His decent into cancer was accurate enough to tell me that Keyes has probably seen someone in her life suffer from cancer – it was way too accurate to not be real.

It took me ages to actively commit to reading this book, but when I finally did it was rewarding. It is typically Marian Keyes – she doesn’t skirt around the most basic human emotions and deal with them head on. I really enjoyed it, probably won’t read it again, but it was fun and entertaining.

Book Review: Eleanor and Park (Rainbow Rowell)

 Eleanor and park book

Plot: (via Goodreads)

Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.

Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

Rating: 9/10

I’m trying to get to the point where I can accurately say how much I love this book but it involves a lot of hand gesturing and incoherent noises. I will do my best, but know this: I LOVE this book way more than I can express in words!

I’ve read books in the past where I’ve thought that it was great material, just not great writing. Eleanor and Park is not such a book. It is fast paced and switches between the two main characters in a way so that you can track the rising levels of adoration and love in both characters. It is easy reading and the story doesn’t slow down in places. It is written in a way that slows you down, you start reading slower because it is so unbelievably sweet and poignant and heart rendering and you just want to pay more attention to these two because what goes on between them is so beautiful.

The story is simultaneously unbearably beautiful and sad. Think The Fault in Our Stars, but without all the terminal characters. There are times where you will want to weep at the beauty of the human heart and times where you will want to scream at the horrific nature some people possess so easily.

Ah man. The main characters. They are the teens you see on the street, trying to figure out this human existence and what to do with it. Eleanor and Park are two people I haven’t found in other books – their uniqueness shines through the pages. Park is popular and accepted in his town but he always has that knowledge that he is “different”. He is half-Korean and half-American, and he has constant referencing to the fact that he is biracial. Eleanor has so much on her poor teenage plate and it comes across that Park is the only light in her life. She has her normal teenage girl body part issues and then her mother and house situation. They have their differences and their relationship is sometimes laced with frustration because their upbringings are so radically different but they are so inlove and manage to stick it out together.

I saw this quote once and loved it only to find out that it is in this book:


Favorite scene: By far their first handholding. I nearly went comatose of sweet heartache and pain on the friggin spot.

E-and-P-Excerpt - Copy

I would definitely recommend a lot of people to give this book a try – it is such a beautiful read!

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Book Review: Key of Valour (Nora Roberts)

Book: 90/100

Zoe McCourt has witnessed her two new friends, Malory and Dana, successfully find the keys they were assigned to release the souls of three demi-goddesses that were captured by the evil sorcerer Kane 3000 years ago. Rowena and Pitte, the daugters’ teacher and guardian caused their souls to be stolen because they were too busy falling in love than doing their job. Back in Key of Light, Rowena and Pitte, who were sent to earth to find the three mortals that could release their charges, requested the three ladies to go on the quest in return for a million dollars each if they succeeded in their tasks.

Zoe watched both her friends succeed and knows that she as the last one will have to face Kane in all his power. She is supported by her two friends, their respective partners, her son Simon and Bradley Vane, a powerful and rich man who seems very attracted to her. She needs to deal with her insecurities around successful men – Simon’s father was one and dumped her when she fell pregnant – but Bradley is determined to win her over. His charm, good looks and obvious connection to her son wins her over and they start dating.

Kane is determined to stop her and goes after her from the start. He visits her in dreams, makes her see things, prey on her insecurities and frighten her, but she fights back every time, comforted by the knowledge that Rowena and Pitte put magical protection over Simon so that he would be safe from all attacks.

Will Zoe succeed? Will she learn to trust Bradley completely? Will Rowena and Pitte be allowed back into their world when the souls are released?

Rating: 7/10

Key of Valour was my favorite book in the series. It is a really good end to the story and clears everything up. I liked how Zoe ended things, how she didn’t lose hope even when she was running out of time and how she always put her son first. Her life is much better explained than Dana’s and Malory’s and you understand her insecurities much better.

Read my reviews of Key of Light and Key of knowledge here and here

Book Review: Key of Knowledge (Nora Roberts)

Book: 89/100

The second book from the Key trilogy picks up directly after the Key of Light, where Malory Price did her part of the deal to get one of the three keys to unlock the souls of three goddesses who got trapped by an evil sorcerer Kane for 3000 years and are waiting to be released. Malory also got her guy, Flynn, who is stepbrother to Dana, the leading protagonist in Key of Knowledge.

Dana, a librarian, is irritated when one of Flynn’s best friends and her first love, Jordan, arrives back in town. She wants nothing to do with him, but he is persistent and wants her back in his life. He tries to make her understand that he left town to become a successful writer and prove himself to the world after the death of the woman who raised him.

After Dana is chosen to be next in the Quest Kane starts visiting her regularly and when he starts getting violent they know he doesn’t care anymore about breaking the rules.

Dana and Jordan start working towards reconciliation and getting through their past. He feels insecure that she never read any of his books, but has no idea that she read them all and hid that information from anyone. He eventually tells her that the heroine of his first novel was based on her and the Peak, and together they realize that it could be a clue to finding her key.

Kane takes her back into Jordan’s book, because it was the book he wrote for her, and she is hunted by him in the world created by the book. Jordan begs Rowenna and Pitte to send him in as well, and he arrives to help her out. Will they get the second key? Will Jordan and Dana end up together? What is Kane willing to do to stop them from success?

Rating: 6/10

Another mediocre book by a brilliant author, Key of Knowledge is decent as fantasy material. I enjoyed Dana the most as such a dedicated book reader and lover of knowledge. I liked the way every key was incorporated by a part their respective finder’s character traits – Malory through art, Dana through knowledge and eventually Zoe through Valor.

Read my review of Key of Light here

PS: I am posting another book review to fit all the posts in before the 28th!

Book Review: The Rescue (Nicholas Sparks)

Book: 84/100

Taylor McAden meets Denise Holt the night her son Kyle goes missing. Kyle, who has an auditory processing problem, wanders out of the car during a storm when Denise crashes her car into a tree. Taylor is one of the first responders to the site and he and the rest of the volunteer firefighters set out to find Kyle. Denise is taken to hospital and she and her son are reunited hours later when Taylor finally finds him on a hunch.

A few days later Taylor finds Denise and Kyle in the grocery store and gives them a lift home. Taylor realises that mother and son is in need of some help and his hero instinct kicks in. He starts driving Denise to work, plays with Kyle and helps around the house. He and Denise’s relationship continues to develop but there are some areas – particularly the way his father died when Taylor was a child and his risky stunts as a fireman – that he won’t discuss with her.

Taylor’s best friend Mitch and his wife Melissa welcome Denise into the community with open arms. It is Melissa that finally tells Denise how Taylor’s father died – in a fire while saving Taylor. When Denise tries to discuss it with him he gets angry and even when they resolve the fight Denise realizes that Taylor is pulling away from her. Nothing she seems to do is able to bridge the gap and she watches her relationship fall apart.

Denise finally draws the line when Taylor forgets to take Kyle to a game as promised. Kyle is disappointed and seems to regress in his talking-abilities progress, and she feels that it isn’t something she can allow as a mother.

Taylor and Mitch have a huge disagreement when Mitch realize that Taylor let Denise slip away. Taylor leaves with angry words between them and that night they are both called to a fire. Mitch dies and Taylor is haunted with grief. He heads to Denise and she is kind enough to hear him out. He tells her everything – about Mitch, his father and how he feels responsible for both deaths. He asks her to allow him back into her life and she says she needs to think about it. Will Taylor get past the deaths of the two people he was closest to his entire life? Will Denise be able to trust him again?

Rating: 6.5/10

Nicholas Sparks always writes well, but some more than others. This book wasn’t his best or most entertaining, and I often felt that he wasn’t really into the story. It is written in his typical southern-style romance. I appreciated that Denise focused a lot on her son and not only on her relationship with Taylor. She seemed to realize that even while she didn’t plan to have the kid, once he was there he became her primary concern.

Taylor was an interesting character but also a bit annoying at times. He obviously had many issues to work through and that was a central plot in the book, but he seemed ridiculously emotionally immature for a grown man.

This is obviously a good choice if you are a big NS fan, but if you haven’t read his books I would recommend other books of his (like the Notebook)