Reading

Things You Save in a Fire – Katherine Center | A Book Review

Things You Save in a Fire - Katherine Center

Title: Things You Save in a Fire

Author: Katherine Center

Genre: Contemporary Romance

About the book: It’s a standalone that follows Cassie Hanwell, a firefighter in a Texas firehouse. who has seen her share of emergencies. When Cassie’s estranged mother asks her for help, Cassie moves to Boston. Although the other firemen aren’t thrilled about having her join the crew, the new rookie doesn’t seem to mind. Despite the fact Cassie’s old captain told her never to date firefighters, she starts to fall for the rookie.

First impressions: The title and cover piqued my interest. I’m not a big romance reader, but I was looking forward to seeing this story play out because the premise sounded promising.

Characters: I enjoyed Cassie’s character arc and found myself rooting for her. It was easy to relate to many of the characters. I adore Cassie and the rookie as individuals, which made it even fun to watch their relationship develop.

Quote:

“It was always the moments you didn’t expect that haunted you the most.”

Writing: It’s a little under 350 pages with short chapters. I enjoyed how Center explores different themes like courage, forgiveness, and love. The novel also looks at important issues like abandonment and addiction.

Final thoughts: There are some interesting twists along the way. The ending and epilogue provide closure as they answer lingering questions. The book is about a love story, but it’s also so much more than that. If you’re a fan of romantic stories about strength and vulnerability, I’d highly recommend Things You Save in a Fire.


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Reading

Handle with Care – Jodi Picoult | A Book Review

Handle with Care - Jodi Picoult

Title: Handle with Care

Author: Jodi Picoult

Genre: Contemporary

About the book: It’s a standalone about the O’Keefe family whose child has osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as brittle bone disease. Charlotte wants to give her daughter Willow the best life possible, but to do so, she files a wrongful birth lawsuit against her obstetrician and best friend.

First impressions: I’ve enjoyed many of Picoult’s novels before, so I was excited to delve into this one. I like the premise and the complexity of it. The book is told from different points of view, but it’s easy to follow.

Characters: I felt for the O’Keefe family, especially at the end. They have their own flaws and challenges to overcome, which makes for an interesting read. Picoult does a great job looking at everyone’s perspective and portraying their side of the story.

Quote:

“I know perfectly well that doing the right thing for someone else occasionally means doing something that feels wrong to you.”

Writing: It’s about 600 pages with short chapter breaks. There are many sad, emotional scenes throughout the book. The author also explores some tough topics such as an eating disorder and self harm. I enjoyed how Picoult writes about medical ethics and legal issues.

Final thoughts: The pacing is slower at first but picks up speed afterwards. I wasn’t sure how the ending would wrap everything up, so the twist took me by surprise. If you want to read a thought-provoking novel that explores morality, disability, and family, I would recommend checking out Handle with Care.


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Reading

The Rumor – Elin Hilderbrand | A Book Review

The Rumor - Elin Hilderbrand

Title: The Rumor

Author: Elin Hilderbrand

Genre: Contemporary Romance

About the book: It’s a standalone that follows two best friends in Madeline King and Grace Panick. Madeline is a novelist, but she struggles with writer’s block and a looming deadline for her next book. Grace works with a landscape architect to transform her family’s backyard, yet she gets a little too close to him. As the small town of Nantucket gossip about them, the two women try to set the record straight.

First impressions: I was curious to see how the story would unfold. As a writer myself, I felt especially interested in Madeline’s perspective because I thought I would resonate with her challenges.

Characters: The novel revolves around Madeline, Grace, and their families. I didn’t expect the story to have so many secondary characters with uncommon names. That said, it wasn’t too confusing to keep track of everyone. The two women are different with their own flaws and problems.

Quote:

“There was nothing in the world, she decided, that wounded like silence.”

Writing: It’s almost 350 pages with short chapter breaks. There are multiple points of view, but I found it easy to follow. Even though the plot isn’t too hard to predict, the pacing didn’t feel too slow. Hilderbrand explores a variety of issues, some more mature than others.

Final thoughts: I think the ending does a good job wrapping things up and providing closure. If you’re looking for a story about family and friendships, check out The Rumor. It’s a fun, fast read about romance and betrayal.


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Reading

Throwaway Daughter – Ting-Xing Ye | A Book Review

Throwaway Daughter - Ting-Xing Ye with William Bell

Title: Throwaway Daughter

Author: Ting-xing Ye with William Bell

Genre: Contemporary (Young Adult)

About the book: It’s a standalone about Grace Dong-mei Parker, a Canadian teenager, who travels to China in search of her birth mother. After China introduced the one child per family policy, thousands of infant girls were abandoned or killed. Grace was adopted by a Canadian couple, but she sets out to discover the truth of what happened to her mother.

I received a reader copy from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: As a Chinese Canadian myself, I was excited to read this novel and learn more about Grace’s journey. I like the title as well as the cover. There’s a map of China and a short prologue that introduces some of the characters.

Characters: I enjoyed following Grace because I could relate to her and some of the struggles she faces. Although there are many different characters, I found it easy enough to keep track of everyone.

Quote:

“I had learned at an early age that hoping makes life hard to live.”

Writing: It’s a quick read at about 240 pages with short chapters. Some of the scenes are quite sad and heart-breaking. The author explores history, family, and identity by weaving events of the past with the present. I love that the author uses pinyin to write out Mandarin words with English translations throughout the novel.

Final thoughts: I’m a fan of the ending as I think it does justice to the story. If you’re interested in a young adult adoption story, check out Throwaway Daughter.


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Reading

The Messy Lives of Book People – Phaedra Patrick | A Book Review

The Messy Lives of Book People - Phaedra Patrick

Title: The Messy Lives of Book People

Author: Phaedra Patrick

Genre: Contemporary

About the book: It’s a standalone about Liv Green, a mother of two, who works as a cleaner but dreams of being a writer. She works for a famous and reclusive author, Essie Starling who passes away shortly after. Liv learns that Essie wants her to finish the author’s novel. As Liv starts to write, she uncovers a secret, revealing a connection between the two women.

I received an advanced reader copy from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I love writing, so I was interested in reading this novel. In my opinion, the title and cover encapsulate the story well. I was curious to see how it would end.

Characters: The book is mainly about Liv and Essie, but there are several secondary characters as well. They’re different in their own way, which made it interesting to learn more about them. It was easy for me to relate to Liv and Essie.

Quote:

“Success didn’t feel very big when you had no one to share it with.”

Writing: It’s about 350 pages with chapter titles. The pacing is slower in the middle as we learn more about Liv and Essie. I liked the references to different books and the parts about writing.

Final thoughts: I predicted the mystery connection between the women, but I still enjoyed how everything came together because the ending ties up loose ends. It’s a fun, easy escape read about books and family. If you’re a writer or like books about writing, consider checking out The Messy Lives of Book People.


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Reading

Vanishing Acts – Jodi Picoult | A Book Review

Vanishing Acts - Jodi Picoult

Title: Vanishing Acts

Author: Jodi Picoult

Genre: Contemporary

About the book: It’s a standalone about Delia Hopkins who was raised by her father, Andrew. She now has a young daughter in Sophie and a fiancé in Eric. As her wedding nears, Delia begins having flashbacks of events she doesn’t recall happening to her. Soon after, a police officer knocks on her door and reveals a shocking family secret.

First impressions: I’m a fan of Picoult, so I was looking forward to reading this novel. There’s a short prologue, and the beginning introduces readers to many of the key characters.

Characters: The story follows Delia, Andrew, Eric, and Fitz. They develop a great deal throughout the book. Even the secondary characters are well fleshed out, making the plot easy to follow.

Quote:

“Maybe knowing where you belong is not equal to knowing who you are.”

Writing: Told in alternating points of view, the book is a little less than 500 pages. I enjoyed that it was broken into several sections and chapters with short scenes. I liked how the author explores interesting issues such as motherhood along with alcoholism from different perspectives. There are some graphic and violent parts in Andrew’s chapters.

Final thoughts: The ending was my favourite part with twists and turns I didn’t quite see coming. If you want to read about family as well as memory, I recommend Vanishing Acts.


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Reading

The Great Godden – Meg Rosoff | A Book Review

The Great Godden - Meg Rosoff

Title: The Great Godden

Author: Meg Rosoff

Genre: Contemporary (Young Adult)

About the book: It’s about a family who spends the summer at a holiday house by the sea. When the Godden brothers in Kit and Hugo arrive, everything changes. This coming of age novel explores the loss of innocence.

I received an advanced reader copy from Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: The cover is interesting and drew me in. I remember reading the premise and wondering what would happen. It starts off slow, establishing the setting and introducing the different family members.

Characters: Even though the story is told from the narrator’s point of view, they are never identified by name or gender. This was an interesting choice by the author that added another layer to the story in my opinion.

The narrator’s family includes their parents, Mattie, Tamsin, and Alex who each have individual interests. I was intrigued by the two brothers who are two complete opposites: Kit is sexy, Hugo is surly.

Quote:

“After all, most of getting something is really wanting it.”

Writing: The simple writing and short chapters make it an easy read at less than 200 pages. I felt like the story focuses more on the characters than the plot, especially in the beginning. Not a lot happens at first and then everything changes all at once.

Final thoughts: The ending was quick and unexpected. I wouldn’t have minded if the author spent more time exploring the effects of the event on everyone. If you enjoy a coming of age novel about relationships and romance, consider picking up The Great Godden.


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Reading

Rich People Problems – Kevin Kwan | A Book Review

Rich People Problems - Kevin Kwan

Title: Rich People Problems

Author: Kevin Kwan

Genre: Contemporary

About the book: It’s the third and final book in the Crazy Rich Asians series. When Nicholas Young’s grandmother, Su Yi, has a heart attack, the family rushes to her side in Shanghai. Nick’s childhood home isn’t the same with everyone wondering who will inherit what from her fortune.

First impressions: I read the first two books already, and I would recommend reading the series in order as this novel references previous events. I was looking forward to seeing how Kwan would wrap things up.

Characters: There’s a family tree included at the beginning, and I found myself referencing it often. With so many characters and relationships, I had to read slowly and carefully. By the end, I grew to like a lot of the family members for different reasons. Even the secondary characters are fleshed out and well developed.

Quote:

“Sometimes, the thing that at first apears flawed can end up being the most perfect thing in the world for you.”

Writing: The book is almost 600 pages in length, but the chapters aren’t too long with breaks throughout them as well. Kwan has such a distinct, descriptive writing style. The pacing picks up as the plot unfolds, and he includes some interesting twists along the way.

Final thoughts: Even though I wasn’t sure what to expect, I’m satisfied with the ending. If you’re looking for a fun series filled with drama, humour, and romance, check out Rich People Problems.


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