Review: Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Graynor and Heather Webb

Summary: It’s August 1914 in England, as Evie watches her brother, Will, and his best friend,Tom, leave to fight in the war. Everyone’s convinced that their boys will be back by Christmas time, and Evie dreams of celebrating the holiday with Will and Tom in Paris. But as months and years go by with the war raging on, Tom, Evie and others grow closer than ever through letters, telegrams, newspaper columns and more. Decades later, Tom returns to Paris to read one final letter, with his and Evie’s past history from the Great War in tow.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

lastchristmas2.jpg

My Thoughts:

I’ve been craving books surrounding Christmas this December, and Last Christmas in Paris appealed to two of my favorite things: Christmas and historical fiction. The book centers around World War I, as Will and Tom go off to fight in the war, leaving Evie in England with her best friend, Alice. I found Last Christmas in Paris through the Reese Witherspoon Bookclub, which I am part of here on Goodreads.

I really enjoyed Last Christmas in Paris for its unique format, as the book is primarily told through letters between Tom and Evie, as well as exchanges between other characters in the novel through letters and telegrams. I liked the way that Heather Webb and Hazel Graynor were able to weave and connect multiple subplots within this format. We see Tom and Will love and struggle with life as soliders. We see Evie wish she was at the Front herself, as Alice leaves for the war herself. We see Tom try to run his father’s newspaper from the Front, which allowed me to learn about how propaganda and newspapers were influenced by the British government during WWI. I actually read A Last Christmas In Paris over the weekend I was studying for my history exam on the World Wars, so reading the book was a pretty cool way for me to prep for my final. If only my professor would’ve allowed me to cite it as historical evidence!

lastchristmasread.JPG

So how Christmas-y is Last Christmas in Paris?

On a scale from 1 to 10, I say that Last Christmas in Paris gets a 7 for being Christmas-y. The novel is spilt into 4 parts, which each part designating a year of the war, and before we dive into the letters, we see Tom celebrating Christmas in Paris 50 years after the war has ended. I really liked these narrative sections from Tom because they were quite festive, and they helped glue what we were learning in the letters together. Throughout the letters, we do have the characters talking about Christmas, but more so when the holiday is approaching. I think the book would have had a larger emphasis on Christmas if the book only focused on one year of the war, with Tom and Evie wishing to reunite for the holiday

Overall, I enjoyed Last Christmas in Paris for its unique story on World War I. It took me a little while to get into the format and writing style, but as I mentioned before, I liked how the subplots were able to contribute to the overall plot of the novel (sorry, no spoilers for you!). I didn’t necessarily love Last Christmas in Paris because there were times that the story did drag a bit, and it’s not necessarily a book that will stick with me for a long time—I’ll most likely remember as a quick, historical fiction read on World War I.

Have you read Last Christmas in Paris? Share in the comments!

Advertisements

Top Five Wednesday: Characters on the Naughty List

Today’s Top Five Wednesday is inspired by characters who may find some coal in their stockings on Christmas morning. We’re encouraged to talk about our favorite villains or characters that we just don’t like, but I’m going to be focusing on my favorite villains or villain-like characters that Santa would probably have a hard time putting on a the nice list.

christmas-divider

Victor & Eli from V.E. Schwab’s ViciousVicious is my favorite V.E. Schwab book, as well as one of my favorite books of 2017, mainly for ITS AMAZING CAST OF CHARACTERS, VICTOR AND ELI INCLUDED. The important thing to remember when reading Vicious is that our characters aren’t meant to be good (Santa may have a hard time understanding this). I admit that I like Victor a bit more than Eli, but overall, I loved their story AND I CANNOT WAIT FOR VENGEFUL!

Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo- Okay, so I have some explaining to do here: I don’t think at all think that Kaz Brekker is a villain nor do I think he is a bad person. As I write this post, I’m starting to realize how many ‘bad’ characters have redeemable characteristics that don’t exactly make them evil. Anyways, regarding Kaz, he would be another person who Santa wouldn’t exactly understand. I think Kaz would wake up to some coal, but also find a new pair of gloves.

AI from Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff– AI earns a spot on the naughty list because he just flat out terrifies me. He would definitely demand gifts and you know, just take over my entire spaceship and everyone on it if he didn’t receive anything.

 Elle’s stepmother from Geekerella by Ashley Poston- JUST LET THE GIRL WEAR HER DRESS AND GO TO EXCELSICON AND KEEP THE DOG AND BY THE WAY, GET OUT OF HER HOUSE. Please. Geekerella is a true Cinderella retelling, as Elle is bullied by her not-so-nice stepmother and stepsisters, who most definitely should be on Santa’s naughty list. If you’re looking for a book with a lot of fangirl feels, this one is for you.

Top 5 Wednesday is a collaborative group of book bloggers from various platforms who love sharing lists on Wednesdays. The T5W group can be found here on Goodreads.

 

Review: Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan

Summary: Baking is in Issy’s blood- if not, there’s definitely plenty of sugar and butter! Raised by a baking extraordinaire of a grandfather, Issy can whip up the most delicious cakes and treats. After being laid off from her desk job, she decides to open up her own café. But Issy soon learns that running a business, even one inspired by her passion, isn’t a piece of cake.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

cupcake cafe.jpg

My Thoughts: 

As someone who loves British contemporaries and books featuring baking, I am in shock that I had never heard of Jenny Colgan’s books until a recent trip to the library with my mom. I was perusing through the adult books section of my library, planning out how I was going to read ALL the books during my winter break, when I found Jenny Colgan’s Meet Me at the Cupcake Café sitting on the shelf. I was going to put off this book about baking until my winter break, but I couldn’t help myself from going back to the library later in the week to pick it up. I am quite happy with my decision because I absolutely adored Meet Me at the Cupcake Café.

As you can tell from above, Meet Me at the Cupcake Café has a huge emphasis on baking, as Issy opens her own cupcake shop. The most unique element of the book is that it features recipes of many of Issy’s treats that she makes in the book. They filled me with desire to bake, especially for Christmas ( I may have been looking up gingerbread recipes when I should have been writing a paper), and I really want to try to make the Nutella cookies. They recipes are really special and important to the story because Izzy’s grandfather, Gramps, sends them to her through letters. Issy and Gramps have a super close relationship, as her grandfather raised Issy and he influenced her to fall in love with baking. The most heartbreaking element of the novel is seeing Gramps suffer from dementia, but through it all, he supports Issy’s opening of the café. Issy’s moments with her grandfather often brought tears to my eyes, and by the end of the novel I was full-on crying—the first book in a while to make me do so!

Moving on to the more heart-warming aspects of the novel, Meet Me at the Cupcake Café has such a funny and supportive cast of characters for Issy. Pearl and Helena were my favorite side characters, as they brought a lot of humor to the story, but they also supported Issy the most. What really made me laugh out loud were the interactions between Caroline and Pearl’s son, Louis. The following argument between the two made me laugh out loud:

“ “Caline,” said Louis seriously, leaning over to make his point. “Bad cake, Caline.”

“No, yummy cake, Louis,” said Caroline tightly.

“No, Caline,” said Louis. Issy hastily got in the middle before it turned into a genuine argument between a forty-year-old and a two-year-old.

There is a bit of romance in the novel, as each woman in the novel deals with their own relationships. I didn’t mind the romance, with the exception of Issy. Her relationship with her on-and-off again boyfriend, Graeme, frustrated me to no end, especially since she had a much better suitor throughout the story. However, the romance really doesn’t affect my opinion or rating of the novel that much because the baking and storyline made up for it immensely. I just fell in love with Issy’s story, the people in her life, and of course, the cakes. Although it’s an adult novel, if you love the baking aspects of Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I Loved Before trilogy and want a book with even more of an emphasis on baking, pick this one up immediately!

I want to read ALL of Jenny Colgan books now, especially the ones that have to do something with baking and food! And she has so many books centered on Christmas, including the sequel to Meet Me at the Cupcake Café!

Do you enjoy books about baking? Have you read anything by Jenny Colgan? Share in the comments!

Fierce Fangirl Friday: British Contemporary Love & Recommendations

fiercefangirlfriday

Fierce Fangirl Friday is a weekly post created and hosted by Jackie of Too Much of a Booknerd. Jackie created Fierce Fangirl Friday for us fangirls to have the opportunity to discuss our latest or favorite fangirl obsessions. Today, I’ll be talking about one of my all-time favorite genres: British contemporary.

Let’s just start off by saying that I am a contemporary books girl at heart. Yes, I love a good fantasy or historical fiction, but the majority of my TBR pile is primarily made up of contemporary novels. I admit that lately I have begun to lean toward adult contemporary over young-adult contemporary—a person is NEVER too old to read YA, but I think as I become a bit more mature, I find myself relating to adult contemporary more. And as you might guess from my FFF’s title, British contemporaries are the best kind of adult contemporary reads.

So why do I love British contemporaries so much?

1.British culture AKA I WANT TO LIVE IN A VILLAGE

Okay, so maybe it’s because I have always lived in the US and haven’t experienced what it’s like to live in the UK, but I love reading about the cities and villages our characters live in. In most novels, villages are often where our protagonists journey or return to, and I love how many villages feature cute, close-knit communities.

2. They often feature strong/hard-working/hilarious FEMALE protagonists

Many of the British contemporaries I’ve read feature a protagonist who is down on her luck and is trying to figure out where to go next in her career, relationships, or life in general. They’re often very relatable, and they tend to get themselves into some funny situations as they try to head in the right direction

3.They are the perfect books to not put down

Do you like comfort food? If you do, then you’re in for a treat, as British contemporaries are the literary equivalent. Whenever I’m really in the mood to read and I want a book that will keep me glued to its pages, I go for a British contemporary because I often find myself needing to know what is going to happen to our characters. Will they choose the village over city life? A new career? The perfect cupcake recipe?. I find that these books make the perfect beach reads or rainy day reads—basically whenever you can devote a lot of time to reading?

So who & what do I recommend??

If you’re just branching out into the genre, I’d say your first stop is Sophie Kinsella, the QUEEN of British contemporaries. I recently wrote in my review of The Undomestic Goddess that I firmly believe that everyone needs a Sophie Kinsella book in their life. Her books often feature characters down on their luck and trying to figure out their next step, as well as hilarious, heart-warming casts of characters. I have yet to pick up her Confessions of a Shopaholic, even though I really enjoy its film adaptation, but here’s what I read from her so far: Finding Audrey, I’ve Got Your Number, My Not-So Perfect Life, and The Undomestic Goddess.

Cecelia Ahern and Jojo Moyes are also classic British contemporary authors. Jojo Moyes has a variety of contemporary novels, the most well known being Me Before You. I have a few more of her books in my TBR pile, but I recently enjoyed her book, One Plus One – if you like family-driven novels and road trips, this one is for you. If you’re looking for books focused on relationships and feels, Cecelia Ahern is perfect for you. I loved P.S. I Still Love You and Love, Rosie back in 2016, and I want to pick up One Hundred Names soon.

A new favorite contemporary author of mine is Jenny Colgan. If you love books about or featuring baking, then Jenny Colgan is your girl! Many of her books feature characters who are passionate about cooking and baking. I found her books while perusing the shelves of my local library and I’m so glad I did! I’ve only read Meet Me at the Cupcake Café so far, but I plan on picking up more of her books very soon!

I’ve also read Giovanna Fletcher’s Billy and Me and loved it as well, as it focuses on the relationship between an A-list actor and a small-town girl. I really want to read more of Giovanna Fletcher’s books, as well as Paige Toon, but their books are unfortunately hard to find in the US.

Do you like British contemporaries? Have you read any of the books above? Do you have any recommendations for me? Share in the comments!

Top Five Wednesday: Bookish Things I’m a Grinch About

t5w-Christmas.jpg

You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch! Today’s Today Five Wednesday is taken in all light-heartedness, as I’ll be reflecting on five bookish things that I’m not the biggest fan of — I wish Santa would just put them on the naughty list!

christmas-divider

Being on hold for a book in the library- I admit that waiting for a book to be available through my county library system doesn’t happen to me often- it typically occurs with popular books or new releases- but I still get a tad impatient when it does happen. Yes, I realize that I could probably go out and buy the book myself, BUT WHERE’S THE FUN IN THAT? I’m currently in this situation while being on hold for Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak. I really want to read some festive books in honor of Christmas and my TBR craves this one. Library users, PLEASE READ FAST.

The cover changes for Beth Revis’s Across the Universe series-  I really do not like cover changes mid-series to begin with, but the cover changes of the Across the Universe series made me especially upset BECAUSE THEY DECIDED TO CHANGE THE COVERS AS THE FINAL BOOK CAME OUT.  One of the first YA series I ever picked up, the Across the Universe trilogy begins abroad the spaceship Godspeed, which holds frozen passengers who will wake up 300 years in the future on a new planet. Seventeen-year old Amy wakes up 50 years before she should have and must adapt to life and society on the Godspeed. The covers of the first two books fits the space vibe perfectly. AND THEN THE THIRD BOOK TAKES ON THIS INDUSTRIAL VIBE THAT DOESN’T FIT THE FIRST TWO BOOKS AT ALL. But don’t worry, we’ll fix the first two books by MAKING THEM LOOK THE SAME AND FORGET THE ORIGINAL,FITTING COVERS. I’ll end my rant by showing you the original covers vs. new covers below:

reihe-e1512419281145.jpg

982c4e20108975a67f09175d2919ff75--across-the-universe-parallel-universe.jpg

Running out of bookshelf space- I think this is every bookworm’s worst nightmare and one that I am currently living! I did unhaul a few books from my collection over Thanksgiving break, but with Christmas and a brand new year of books approaching, any space that I have left is in danger. ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS THAT BEAUTY AND THE BEAST SIZED LIBRARY!

Not being able to give half-star ratings on Goodreads- I remember when Goodreads updated their site earlier in 2017 and being so excited over the fact that you could finally keep track of your rereads. I thought for one minute that with the new updates, you could finally give half star ratings on Goodreads, but alas, I was wrong. I admit that I’m not the biggest fan of star ratings in general, but I wish I could provide my true star rating without having to write it in my review post on Goodreads.

The fear of my paperbacks or hardback covers being ruined in travel- Packing for college obviously entails packing books! When I travel between home and school, I often have books packed in one of my bags and throughout my journey, I drive in fear that one or more of my books will be ruined from being packed with other items. However, I think my fear could be resolved with an increasingly popular book sleeve!

christmas-divider.jpg

Top 5 Wednesday is a collaborative group of book bloggers from various platforms who love sharing lists on Wednesdays. The T5W group can be found here on Goodreads.

 

Fall 2017 Reading and Blogging Recap

Happy December! I am so happy to be jumping into the holiday spirit and do ALL the Christmas-y things and of course, read ALL the books as my finals come to a close. While I’m excited for the winter reason, with the exception of the cold weather, I wanted to reflect on what books I’ve read this fall and some of my favorite blog posts from the past three months.

leaves-divider

The Books 

I read a total of 18 books between September, October, and November and I’m pretty satisfied with that number, considering that I read some of my favorite books of the year and was busy with my university life during this time. I’ll be listing the books below, along with review links if I posted one for that book.

Passing by Nella Larsen | 3/5 Stars

The Girls by Emma Cline | 3/5 Stars

I, Eliza Hamilton by Susan Holloway Scott | 5/5 Stars

One Plus One by JoJo Moyes | 4/5 Stars

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu |4.25/5 Stars

The Female of the Species Mindy McGinnis | 4.75/5 Stars

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera | 3.75/ 5 Stars

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys | 2.5/5 Stars

There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins | 4.5/5 Stars

This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis | 3.5/5 Stars

Bonfire by Krysten Ritter | 5/5 Stars

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green | 5/5 Stars

A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck| 5/5 Stars

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo | 4/5 Stars

Another Brooklyn by Jacquelyn Woodson |

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo | 4.25/5 Stars

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella | 4.5/5 Stars

Meet Me at the Cupcake Café by Jenny Colgan | 5/5 Stars

leaves-divider

Blog Post Recap 

This fall, I had a few fandom and book related experiences including meeting Jennifer E. Smith, seeing Waitress on Broadway, going to the Harry Potter and Chamber of Secrets symphony show, finding an ARC copy of Ruta Sepetys’s Salt to the Sea and signed copy of Turtles All the Way Down, and casually dressing up as Taylor Swift for Halloween .

Meeting Jennifer E. Smith and What I Read in September 2017

My Experience Seeing Waitress the Musical

My Experience at Harry Potter in Concert

Fierce Fangirl Friday: My Most Recent Book Purchases

Channeling My Inner Taylor Swift

In September, I posted reviews of Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere and Warcross by Marie Lu, two books that I was very fortunate enough to receive and that became two of my favorite books of the year. I also really enjoyed writing my review for I, Eliza Hamilton, another 2017 favorite, because I got to spread even more Eliza and Hamilton love!

Warcross by Marie Lu

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Right before I went back to school, I read Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, loved it and soon found myself addicted to its TV adaptation. Big Littles is definitely one of my favorite TV shows of 2017, and I have review for both the TV show and book.

Why You Need to be Reading Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

TV Review: Big Little Lies

And if you’re still looking to hold on to fall, last month I did the Fall-Themed Q & A, hosted by The Blended Blog. Look out for my Holiday Q & A next week!

leaves-divider

Thank you for reading & supporting me here on Fangirl Fury. I wish you a happy holiday season, full of family & friends, Christmas movies, and plenty of books. Happy reading!

Review: The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

Summary: Workaholic attorney Samantha Sweetings has done everything according to plan in her life, until now. She’s made an unthinkable mistake that’s bound to ruin her career at one of England’s top law firms. Instead of waiting to find out, Samantha flees London on a train and ends up in a small village. As she asks for help from a couple in town, she’s mistaken for an interviewee and lands a job as a housekeeper. While Samantha’s housekeepers don’t know she’s a lawyer, Samantha doesn’t know how to turn on an oven, let alone run a household. As she adjusts more and more to life as a housekeeper, Samantha questions if she’ll ever be able to return to her old life.

My Rating: 4.5/ 5 Stars

undomesticg

My Thoughts:

I am a firm believer in that everyone needs a Sophie Kinsella book in their life. I absolutely love British contemporaries, and The Undomestic Goddess is sure to please for my fellow British contemporary-loving readers. One of my favorite aspects of many  British contemporaries I’ve read is seeing our main protagonists transition from city life to village life. Samantha’s life is consumed by her job as a lawyer, and I loved seeing her really embrace life as Trish and Eddie’s housekeeper and being part of village life with Nathaniel.

One of the biggest recurring parts of the novel is the fact that Samantha has no idea what it’s like to be a housekeeper. It was really comical to read her mishaps—thank gosh that girl has a credit card—and I especially enjoyed the scene where Nathaniel saves her from her burning chickpeas and flour-infused gravy. I really loved seeing Samantha grow closer to Nathaniel and to his mom, Iris. Iris’s cooking lessons with Samantha were among my favorite scenes in the novel—I love to eat food, I love to read about food!

I flew through The Undomestic Goddess in two days—I admit that it would have a bit faster if it hadn’t been for Thanksgiving prep and time with family- and I simply couldn’t put it down. It was so funny to see Samantha’s shenanigans play out with Trish, and I loved her relationship with Nathaniel and the Greigers grow more and more. It was a bit frustrating, but funny to see Trish and Eddie unaware of Samantha’s true intelligence. I also wanted her to abandon any idea of going back to her life in London. What else could she need beside free rooming, a cute gardener, and bread baking lessons?

My only complaint about The Undomestic Goddess is that we could have gotten to the ending a bit sooner, as Samantha debates if she’ll go back to London and work in law. I also wish that we got see more of Samantha’s life after she makes her final decision.

Have you read The Undomestic Goddess? If you have, I highly recommend picking up Sophie Kinsella’s latest book, My Not-So Perfect Life. Share your thoughts & feels in the comments!