Review: The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

This book was easily one of my favorite books I’ve read so far this year. It’s already been added to my to-buy list and I can see myself enjoying it just as much for many re-reads. Also, it absolutely made my day when Phaedra Patrick liked my review on Goodreads.

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My aunt made me this charm bracelet and each charm has a special significance to me (much like Miriam!)

Overall Score: 10/10

Book summary (From Goodreads)

In this poignant and sparkling debut, a lovable widower embarks on a life-changing adventure

Sixty-nine-year-old Arthur Pepper lives a simple life. He gets out of bed at precisely 7:30 a.m., just as he did when his wife, Miriam, was alive. He dresses in the same gray slacks and mustard sweater vest, waters his fern, Frederica, and heads out to his garden.

But on the one-year anniversary of Miriam’s death, something changes. Sorting through Miriam’s possessions, Arthur finds an exquisite gold charm bracelet he’s never seen before. What follows is a surprising and unforgettable odyssey that takes Arthur from London to Paris and as far as India in an epic quest to find out the truth about his wife’s secret life before they met–a journey that leads him to find hope, healing and self-discovery in the most unexpected places.

Featuring an unforgettable cast of characters with big hearts and irresistible flaws, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is a curiously charming debut and a joyous celebration of life’s infinite possibilities.

Review

I saw the book at the library and picked it up on a whim. I was worried that it was going to be just another book about an old man going on a journey after his wife died. Well, it absolutely was a book about that but it was so, so much more. There is laughter, love, friendship, a mystery, and so much more.

I like how Arthur slowly emerges from his shell. The writer gives him time to mourn his wife and doesn’t push him to move on. One of the most beautiful scenes was when he was with Sylvie in Paris and talking about Miriam. The idea of having a routine and being afraid to shake it was so relatable to me (granted mine isn’t quite as regimented but still). Arthur’s journey never seems rushed and yet he comes so far from where he began. You find yourself constantly rooting for him and relishing the moments when he does. As he grows more aware of his surroundings, the reader sees the beauty with him, they go through his journey by his side.

All of the characters that Arthur meets are so alive and vivid. Each one has hidden depths and unexpected histories that create a world that is incredibly detailed and believable. Even Miriam comes alive through Arthur’s memories of her and the stories told to him by others. Each character has experienced a loss and seeing the different ways it affects each of them is wonderful in its real-ness. The author herself says it best: “Now he had uncovered difference and variety. People had their own gilded cages…”

This is a beautifully written novel with a wonderful message. It explores the idea of happiness meaning something different to everyone and all of the different kinds of love. I highly recommend this book if you’re looking for something sweet, uplifting, and beautifully written.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes because I can’t resist.
“What these people and events had sparked in him was desire. Not in the sense of lust or longing, but a reaction to others. When they had shown a need, he has shown a desire to help.”

Page Length: 331

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, British Literature

Publisher: MIRA

Source: Library (but soon to be own!)

 

Finding Dory and Costco

I’ll post a proper book review later today but I wanted to get some other thoughts out first. First of all, I used my parents dog in a photoshoot the other day and she was the perfect little model. I was a little worried that she would nibble on the book but she just sniffed in and liked putting her head in the pages. 


Finding Dory

I’ve seen this movie twice since it came out and I think it’s one of Pixar’s best movies recently. It definitely seemed to deal with slightly more adult themes than Finding Nemo, perhaps to appeal to the audience members who grew up with Finding Nemo. The evolution of the search from Dory’s parents to the attempt to save her family was wonderful to watch. 

Dory has always been my favorite character. Her outlook on life is so positive. This movie really explores that as you see her (slightly depressing) backstory. Despite everything that has happened to her, she always figures out a way to overcome anything with a smile on her face. From now on, there is a decent chance that when I need to find an alternative solution I will ask myself “What would Dory do?”

All of the fan favorites from the first movie return with the addition of some wonderfully fleshed out characters. Each is flawed in their own way but that’s life. How they work together and encourage each other is something wonderful to watch. I don’t want to spoil anything but the ending was perfect, particularly two moments between Marlin and Dory. I think this is one of the best movies about what it means to be a family that I’ve seen in a while. 

Also, that short at the beginning. I love it so much. The motion of the waves was truly beautiful and I loved how many emotions they could show without using any words. It was a story about courage, love, and determination. The friendship between the hermit crab and the sand piper was just too cute. 

Costco, books, and danger

So yesterday I bought six books at Costco (no pictures yet but I’m sure there will be many). After a lot of deliberation and going back and forth, I’ve decided to start collecting the word cloud classic editions. I’ve been an admirer of these for many years ever since encountering my first one at the Tattered Covers bookstore in Colorado. I pu that one back but I’ve always picked them up in bookstores before putting them back down. 

Since the best way to do things is with great determination, I bought my first six yesterday (Peter Pan, Grimm Fairy Tales, Pride & Prejudice, Andersen’s Fairy Tales, Alice in Wonderland, and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes) and created a wish list on Amazon with the remaining ones so I can keep track. There’s apparenly 48 more that I need to collect to have the whole series…. Two a month should take me two years to collect them all. I’ve been searching for a good way to keep track of books I want to buy and my ever-growing TBR list. So far I’ve been using goodreads but it’s such a pain to get set up. I know the end result will be worth it but I want to spend my free time reading! 

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

For any of you who read my blog, I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while. I guess it’s hard for me to express myself in words than with pictures. I’m going to try posting things other than just straight books reviews. If you have any suggestions, please let me know in the comments!

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Rainbow books with baby blanket yarn!

Overall Score: 7/10

Book summary (From Goodreads)

She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him… or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

Review

I would give this book 3.5 stars. At the beginning, I loved the concept and how independent, strong, and intelligent Amani was. When she first met Jin at the shoot-out competition, I knew that he was going to be the love interest and was a little disappointed how early he appeared. I’m glad that there wasn’t a love triangle but more depth to their relationship would have been nice because I didn’t really understand the chemistry. That being said, one of my favorite lines in the book was this:

“Jin always smiled at me like we were both about to be in big trouble and he loved it. The prince smiled like he was forgiving you for it” (Pg. 215)

As to the plot, the first two thirds seemed incredibly aimless with nothing beyond “I want to leave this city” well defined. The last third picked up and saved the book for me. The characters introduced seemed more fleshed out than those that came before them. I will be reading the next book purely because of the last 30 pages or so.

I loved the fantasy aspect of this novel, from the Skinwalkers to the Nightmares to the Djemi (that was a seriously cool aspect, especially with their relationship to iron). The contrast between the mythology and the western parts of the novel made for an interesting concept and I’m intrigued to see where the author takes it next.

Page Length: 320

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance

Publisher: Viking Books

Source: Library

Review: Love by the Book by Melissa Pimentel

Today I’m going to be featuring a debut novel that actually came out a while ago. In February 2015, I went to a book signing at my local independent bookstore because I enjoy hearing the authors talk about their books and there was free champagne. After hearing Melissa Pimentel speak, I immediately went and bought two copies of her novel to get signed. One of them went to one of my closest friends for her birthday and the other has had a place on my bookshelf ever since.

I didn’t get much reading done this week but I’m planning on reviewing A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab and potentially its sequel next week in much more depth.

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Overall Score: 7/10

Book Summary (from Amazon)

Love by the Book charts a year in the life of Lauren Cunningham, a beautiful, intelligent, and unlucky-in-love twenty-eight-year-old American. Feeling old before her time, Lauren moves to London in search of the fab single life replete with sexy Englishmen. But why can’t she convince the men she’s seeing that she really isn’t after anything more serious than seriously good sex? Determined to break the curse, Lauren turns her love life into an experiment: each month she will follow a different dating guide until she discovers the science behind being a siren. Lauren will follow The Rules, she’ll play The Game, and along the way she’ll journal her (mis)adventures and maybe even find someone worth holding on to. Witty, gritty, and very true to life, Love by the Book will have you in stitches.

Review

Before starting this novel, you must set the proper expectations. This will not be a serious novel reflecting on love and relationships, this is a very light, fluffy read. Which makes it perfect for summer or if you need something quick and refreshing. As long you don’t expect it to be something it’s not, this book is good.

At the beginning of the book, Lauren has just moved to London and decides to re-invigorate her dating life. She does this by going to her local bookstore and picking up some dating guides. Having been the recipient of one or two of some more modern dating guidelines throughout the years (my mother wanted to make sure I knew how to identify red flags), I could absolutely relate to this part of the book. After a horrible date or a break-up, I would start to wonder if the secret to dating and finding a good man could be found in those books. I never actually opened them but this book explores what could happen if you date only according to the specific rules found in some of the most popular books.

The novel is segmented according to which book Lauren is using, with what happened on each day, and a summary of how successful she found each technique (Disclaimer: You probably shouldn’t attempt these at home). I personally liked the structure but I could see how it would be a turn-off for some readers.

I really enjoyed watching Lauren go on her adventures and at first some of them did seem a little outlandish or improbable. However, as I’ve heard more dating stories from my friends, I’ve come to realize that they really aren’t. It’s just that (probably for dramatic effect) Melissa Pimentel uses all of the more out-there dating stories and embellishes them a little.

I will say that I adored the ending although 99% of that is because of the very last page. This book is really a funny book about dating and I would recommend it for a quick summer read. Did I love this book? Not entirely. Did I like it and enjoy it? Absolutely.

Page Length: 336

Genre: Fiction, Chick lit

Publisher: Penguin Books

Source: Bookstore