Overseas – Book Review

I was a huge Beatriz Williams fan after reading a few books last summer: A Hundred Summers, Tiny Little Thing, and The Secret Life of Violet Grant. I happily bought Overseas, ready for another great read.

Unfortunately, this book did not live up to my expectations.

Let me begin with the synopsis from Barnes and Noble:

Amiens, France, 1916: Captain Julian Ashford, a British officer in the trenches of the Western Front, is waylaid in the town square by Kate, a beautiful young American. Julian’s never seen her before, but she has information about the reconnaissance mission he’s about to embark on. Who is she? And why did she track him down in Amiens?

New York, 2007: A young Wall Street analyst, Kate Wilson learned to rely on logic and cynicism. So why does she fall so desperately in love with Julian Laurence, a billionaire with a mysterious past?

What she doesn’t know is that he has been waiting for her…the enchanting woman who emerged from the shadows of the Great War to save his life.

Overseas by Beatriz Williams

There were a couple of reasons that I wasn’t very pleased with this book. First of all, I really don’t think I’m dropping a major spoiler when I tell you that this book obviously involves time travel. Time travel is not the problem; I’m a diehard Outlander fan. What really bothered me about this was how easily the characters accepted the time travel. I felt like it should have created much more conflict than it did; there was practically no conflict at all when one character mentioned time travel to the other!

Beyond that, I had a hard time relating to the main character, Kate. Part of that could have been that her job as an investment banker was completely foreign to me, so I was absolutely lost when she would discuss banking matters. I definitely felt that she was just too much in certain situations – too bold, or too crass. Obviously this is just a matter of opinion and is based on my own personality. I just know that I would never be able to walk into someone’s kitchen and begin going through their cabinets and refrigerator on my first or second visit.

The main reason I had trouble with this book was the relationship between Kate and Julian. The best way I can think to explain it, and I hope that this will make sense, is that it was too much like Anastasia and Christian in Fifty Shades. Too in love, WAY too fast. To me, there was no actual basis for Kate to have fallen in love with Julian within weeks. I felt like her main reason for falling for him was his looks. I know it’s fiction, but I have a hard time accepting adults falling in love with each other before they truly get to know each other. Besides that, Julian was extremely protective of Kate – just like Christian Grey. He had his reasons, which were never given until late in the book, but it still reminded me too much of Fifty Shades. AND there was the fact that Julian wanted to shower Kate in his money and lifestyle: get her a new phone, give her a credit card so she can go shopping for new clothes, etc. I feel like I’m giving too much away, so I’ll stop there.

I hate to bash the book, because it wasn’t terrible by any means. I was able to push through the parts that frustrated me, and I’m glad I finished it. I rated it three stars on Goodreads, which to me is “pretty good.” Bottom line, though – I am very happy that this was NOT my first read from Beatriz Williams. I’ll be buying another book or two of hers, and I have complete confidence that I won’t be disappointed.

Advertisements

The Shoemaker’s Wife – Review

Thunder is rumbling outside, and I have sissy-la-la Jinxy shaking in my lap as I write this. All I’m missing is a glass of wine or a cup of tea.

sunsandandbooks_jinxy3

Bloggin’ and dog-mommin’

Sometimes in your reading life, you almost forget that feeling of becoming so immersed and falling so in love with the characters and the story itself. Of course there have been plenty of good books that I’ve read over the past few years, but reading The Shoemaker’s Wife was an experience that I had been missing without even knowing it.

First of all, let me explain that I had never even heard of Adriana Trigiani (what kind of reader am I??) before receiving this book in a book exchange through Facebook last spring or summer. Talk about happy mail! The woman who sent the book to me included a little note: “Enjoy this book. It was wonderful!” but of course, I kept pushing it aside. Finally, I started a “book club” with two friends of mine at the beginning of this summer, and we added The Shoemaker’s Wife to our list. Thank. God.

The Shoemaker’s Wife centers around the lives of Enza Ravanelli and Ciro Lazzari, who both grow up in neighboring villages in the mountains of northern Italy at the turn of the century. Ciro and Enza meet briefly when Ciro is sent to dig a grave in Enza’s village, and the two feel an instant connection. They are quickly separated when Ciro is sent to America as an apprentice to a shoemaker; he leaves with no word for Enza, and she knows she must forget about him. Not long after, Enza arrives in America herself, and after some struggle, she finds her calling as a seamstress for the opera singer Enrico Caruso at New York City’s Metropolitan Opera House. Enza’s and Ciro’s paths cross a few times over the years, and despite the feelings they have for each other, their lives keep taking them in different directions.

All right, I need to be honest and tell you that there is so much more I could add to that synopsis but I was afraid I would give too much away! Just do yourself a favor and go read this book!

This was truly one of my favorite books that I’ve read in a long time, for so many reasons. There was enough conflict, but it never felt forced.  I felt so connected to the characters and could so easily picture the mountains of Italy, as well as the shops and streets of New York City in the early twentieth century. And the food! It is a miracle that I didn’t run to the nearest Italian restaurant and stuff my face with delicious pasta dishes and mozzarella cheese every single day while I read this book. Let’s be honest, it’s another miracle that I didn’t jump on a plane with a one-way ticket to Italy.
The Shoemaker’s Wife was inspired by Adriana Trigiani’s own family history, and it certainly did feel like I was reading a true-life story of two people who came to America with dreams to help their families back home. This story was such a lovely tribute to those who left their families and all they ever knew at the turn of the century, to go to a brand new place to make a brand new life. This was a beautiful read.

IMG_8334

I’m Back!

School’s out for summer, which means I finally have time to just read! I have been on a roll, and it makes me so happy. I’ve already finished two books (one of them was started before school let out, so I guess that doesn’t really count) – Ladies’ Night by Mary Kay Andrews, and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Here are my thoughts on Ladies’ Night:

I chose Ladies’ Night because I was in the mood for chick lit, and this was a good choice. Grace has a successful lifestyle blog and is living a dream life as a result. This all comes crashing down when she catches her husband cheating with her assistant in their garage and in a fit of rage, drives his expensive sports car into their pool. Grace ends up moving back in with her mom in her small apartment above the bar she owns, The Sand Box. When she goes to court to finalize the divorce, the judge orders her to see a “divorce coach” because of her “violent tendencies.” Of course, Grace has no desire to attend these sessions, but over time she develops friendships with the others in her group, and they end up extending the sessions with “ladies’ night” at her mom’s bar. Through her new friendships and her work on a fixer-upper she stumbled upon, Grace slowly experiences the healing she needs.

IMG_8123This book was not my favorite by Mary Kay Andrews, and let me tell you the number one reason: GRAMMAR. Oh, my LORD. The mistakes that I saw were atrocious, and it was so obvious that this was cranked out in order to be published in time for summer. Whoever was proofreading did an awful job. I felt like I should be copying some of the paragraphs to use for grammar lessons with my sixth graders. I wish I were joking. These were two within ten or twenty pages of each other that I actually copied down in my GoodReads status update:
“Those was just the accessories.”
“Theirs footsteps echoed in the high-ceilinged rooms”

Let me get off my grammar soapbox and say that aside from that mess, I did enjoy the story overall. It was a fun read, and I did feel compelled to find out what would happen. I was able to predict a lot, but this was an instance where I didn’t really mind; like I said, I picked this book up because I wanted something easy and light, and it fit the bill. If you can look past tear-your-hair-out-in-frustration grammar errors, it may be a good choice for your summer reading, too!

I Finally Found A Hobby!

After thirty years, I feel like I FINALLY found a hobby (besides reading)! I had off from work yesterday, and I can’t even remember exactly what inspired me, but I decided I wanted to try knitting again. I had bought knitting needles and a skein of yarn a couple of years ago, but I was having trouble figuring out how to even get started. I’m lefty, and everyone in my family who knits is righty. I tried YouTube a couple years ago but whatever video I watched wasn’t helpful to me.

Yesterday when I searched YouTube again, I found a GREAT tutorial to get me started! It took be a little while – and a lot of patience – but I finally got the hang of it! I only know how to do a basic knit stitch (is that what it’s even called?), but I’m excited to learn more! I am very hopeful that I can make a little something for each of my family members for Christmas this year, but those may be high hopes!

Are you a knitter? Any suggestions for helpful tutorials or resources? What do you suggest for a good beginning project? I would LOVE some advice!

Obviously I was somewhat obsessed yesterday, and needed to keep practicing before bed! img_7081

Reading Update

I know I’ve been absent for a while – school started up again, and I’ve been busy with making sure I have everything ready each day, and basically getting back into a routine. I have to say, so far I feel like I’ve been awesome with sticking to a routine! I’ve been making sure to plan for the next day the night before, pack my lunch, pick my outfit and get to bed at a good time. Let’s all cross our fingers that I can stick to such a productive schedule!

Of course, with school comes less reading time. I had checked out another Beatriz Williams book (The Secret Life of Violet Grant) a couple weeks before school started, and was hardly moving on it. Most of the blame goes to work, obviously, but I also wasn’t as drawn in as I had been with A Hundred Summers and Tiny Little Thing. Finally, this past weekend the book really picked up and I made sure to get to bed extra early every night (7:30…I’m a wacko!) so that I had time to read a good amount. I finally finished the book the other night and was really pleased with it. A review is on its way, I promise! As soon as I finished, I began Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin, which I borrowed from my school library. OH MY GOD. This book was awesome. I read and read and decided I needed to finish it in one night, and did, and my tears would not keep themselves in my eyes. I forced my dog to sleep on the bed (you’re welcome, Jinxy…he had been on the bed, then jumped off,because he’s weird) and could not hug him enough. Lord. Just do yourself a favor and read that book, especially if you’re a dog lover like me. Review forthcoming, too…probably even before The Secret Life of Violet Grant.

Because a blog post is always better with a photo, here’s my little Jinxy:

Jinxy Face.JPG