[Book Review] After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

After i doBack in February, I got this book in the mail and instead of putting it on the back burner while I prepped for Fall conference like a responsible adult, I jumped right in. If you’re a frequent visitor of my blog, you’ll know that I’m a fan of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s work and her newest book, After I Do delivers!

This is the story of Lauren and Ryan’s marriage. Sadly, today’s divorce rate is higher than successful marriages and like many, Lauren and Ryan are headed for the higher statistic. Arguing over petty, silly things, they are both able to recognize that there are some major cracks in their matrimony. Rather than jumping the gun, they decide to make one more attempt to fix things by agreeing to take a year off from their marriage. Their hope is that by taking a year away from one another, they’ll find a way to remember the good times and somehow find a way to fall in love with one another again. The one catch, they can’t contact the other. Both, Lauren and Ryan agree that this break from one another is the only way to take a step back and look at the big picture.

After I Do is told entirely from the perspective of Lauren and in a recent interview I conducted with TJR I asked her,

When you originally came up with the premise of After I Do, did you know that the narration would only be told from the point of Lauren?

It took me a long time to figure out how to make this a book about both Ryan and Lauren without using two narrators. I wasn’t entirely opposed to the idea of two narrators but I just felt that two narrators would turn this into too much of a He Said/She Said — a dynamic I’m actually quite fond of but one that I didn’t think worked for this. So I settled on seeing the world through one of their eyes, and Lauren seemed the most natural fit. Luckily, I found a way for Ryan to speak up throughout the book.

Ryan is well represented through this story from the eyes of Lauren’s family, who are quietly rooting for them to make it work. His voice is also well represented in a unique and creative way that I don’t want to spoil, because it adds so much depth that giving it away might spoil it for you. I do want to add, that you’ll come to fall in love with Lauren’s entire family. You don’t just scratch the surface with these characters, each and every one of them make an impression on you in the best way possible.

Mesmerizing and heart breaking at the same time, this is an unconventional love story that I’d compare to titles written by Emily Giffin and Sophie Kinsella. It has the readability factor that catches you by surprise, because you want to know, you need to know how this modern marriage experiment will play out in the end.

I’m so excited that now all of you can read it and then we can discuss the ending. This book will be available on July 1st.

Thanks to Carly Watters from the PS Literacy Agency for sending me an advanced reading copy.

DON’T FORGET TO CHECK OUT THE MY INTERVIEW WITH TAYLOR JENKINS REID.

Review: The Art of Hearing Heartbeats – Jan-Philipp Sendker

I heard about Jan-Philipp Sendker’s “The Art of Hearing Heartbeats” from one of my colleagues that said it was a beautiful and romantic novel. I’m a sucker for a good love story, but this novel goes above and beyond what one expects from a typical romance novel. Jan-Philipp Sendker  has created a connection between two soul mates that defines the word love.

We’re first introduced to Julia, a woman who’s feeling the scorn of her Father’s decision to leave their Family four years prior. After finding a letter to a woman named Mimi that was never mailed, Julia decides that she needs some answers to her questions, so she packs up her bags and heads to Burma, a country in Southeast Asia to confront her Father. Unfortunately, Julia knows nothing of her Father’s past, so deciding to travel to a Country with no information about the man she’s on pursuit to find, poses a tad bit of a problem. Luckily, when Julia arrives she meets a man by the name of U Ba who wants to tell her the story of her Father, he explains that hearing this story will ultimately lead her to finding him. Thus begins the story of Tin Win and his beloved Mimi.

U Ba begins to tell the tale of her Father’s past in small chunks of time, he has to take breaks because of his age, but also because it’s so much information that he doesn’t want to overload the young woman. Julia pictures her Father as a quiet, private man and it’s enlightening and shocking to hear about a man that she quickly realizes, she doesn’t know at all.

I’ve contemplated all the different ways I can share this unconventional love story in this review, but to share even a sentence or two describing how Tin Win and Mimi’s love developed would be an injustice. I can ensure you that this book is like no other novel I’ve ever read, it’s the kind of novel that stays with you for days based solely on the basis that it’s stunning literature.

Please read this book, keep tissues nearby… Then email me at reederreads@gmail.com and thank me.

Review: The Thorn and the Blossom by Theodora Goss

Oh how I adore a great star crossed lovers novel. The back of the book eloquently sums up Theodora Goss’ “The Thorn and the Blossom” by stating that it is:

One enchanting romance. Two lovers keeping secrets. And a uniquely crafted book that bind their stories forever.

You might be thinking what does it mean when it describes this book as a “uniquely crafted book”, well let me show you prior to my review.

 

 

 

 

 

The accordiion format has Evelyn’s story on side and Brendan’s on the other side.

Leave it to Quirk to be so outrageously creative.

If the creative aspects of this beautiful novel don’t blow you away, the story itself will. This two sided love story originally begins in THORNE & SON, BOOKSELLERS, a bookstore in Clews that is operated by Brendan’s Father. Brendan is minding the store while his Father is out of town. By being able to hear both sides of the story, we get to experience Brendan’s nervousness when Evelyn enters the store and we sense the anticipation. We also hear from Evelyn’s perspective (in her version of the story) and how she finds herself blushing at Brendan’s sweet compliments.

Evelyn is American and in an effort to give her a sense of what the town of Clews is all about, Brendan introduces her to the Medieval story of Gawan’s Court, a story his Father use to tell him all the time. The story involves two lovers named Gawan and Elowen that are unable to be with one another for a thousand years due to a spell gone wrong. Evelyn is immediately transfixed with the story, even more so when she learns that Brendan is planning on translating it to English so others can enjoy it. From their first encounter, they get swept up in a whirlwind romance. However, when Brendan goes to kiss her, Evelyn pulls back, screams and takes off running.By reading her side of the story, you’ll understand the circumstances around her running, but Brendan is left bewildered and confused.

After their brief romance, they go on to live their lives and evolve in their careers, but they continue to think of one another. The funny thing about fate is that it sometimes it has a way of putting two individuals back together when they least expect it…

This is a beautiful, gripping love story told from two different perspectives that will take you about an hour and a half to read if you read it front to back ;) I started with Brendan’s story, but it can be read from either perspective and you’ll still get the sense of their love for one another because it’s evident on every page.

Review: An Exclusive Love – Johanna Adorjan

Johanna Adorjan’s memoir, “An Exclusive Love” starts with the sentence, “On 13 October 1991 my grandparents killed themselves”. If that isn’t a line that will draw you in, I don’t know what will!

This is the story of her grandparents and their suicide and what caused them to take their lives, but it also seemed that this story was a way for Adorjan to come to terms with what happened on October 13, 1991. She recounts in the novel how she thinks the days activities took place and draws conclusions about why they chose this path together. Adorjan had a sense that this might be the path her grandparents take and even verbally expressed it before it happened. Her grandfather Istvan was ill and she knew that her grandmother Vera wouldn’t want to live on this earth without him.

Both Istvan and Vera experienced the horrific life of being a Jewish individual during Hitler’s reign. Istvan spent time in a concentration camp as well and although he refused to speak of it years later, Adorjan knows one thing about that experience and that was her grandfather’s ability to stand up while sleeping, knowing that one slight movement could end his life.

Having little to go on about their experience with the Holocaust and their decision to take their own lives, Adorjan begins to ask family and friends of her grandparents to try to piece together some kind of conclusion. Her determination and resilience is portrayed through and through on each page of her outstanding memoir.

Dedicating this story to her Father (whose parents were Istvan and Vera), Johanna Adorjan conveys a love story like no other. Her depiction of what happened on that day is so detailed that we, the reader begun to accept that her drawn conclusions are fact and their decision to take their lives is indeed a way to choose how their lives ended. It’s a story that depicts love, strength and family and I hope that all of you pick it up because it was a fabulous story from page 1 to page 192.