Book Review: Verity

Verity: Hoover, Colleen: 9781791392796: Books - Amazon.ca

Title: Verity

Author: Colleen Hoover

Genre: Romantic Thriller, Adult Fiction

Pages: 324 pages

Level of difficulty: 2/5 Dictionaries

My Rating: 2/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

Lowen Ashleigh is a writer who gets a big break when the husband of a severely injured author, Verity Crawford, seeks her to help continue the author’s beloved thriller book series. Lowen who is struggling financially accepts the opportunity and goes to their house with the husband, Jeremy, to read over Verity’s manuscripts. However, she ends up stumbling upon an unfinished autobiography that paints Verity in very bad light. As Lowen begins to realise that Verity is evil and grows suspicious of the author’s current medical condition, all while developing feelings for Jeremy, she battles with what to do.

Favourite Quote:

N/A

Review:

Unfortunately, this was a thriller that had so much potential but failed to deliver.

At the very beginning of the novel, Lowen and Jeremy meet in a traumatic manner but the weight of that incident is brushed upon, which seemed very unrealistic (despite the impression that since they both have had worst traumatic experiences they could look past the one that had happened in the beginning scene). This situation is very concerning since it’s a romance that grows on the foundation of (unresolved) trauma.

Furthermore, the romance that brewed between Lowen and Jeremy seemed very instant-love. There wasn’t any significant reason why Lowen liked Jeremy so much, apart from the fact that he was nice to her (which I would argue is a low standard). Considering the situation that Jeremy was in, and the other issues in his family, I was surprised that Lowen was not even a bit concerned about how a relationship with Jeremy could develop in a healthy manner (until towards the end of the novel), and thus began questioning if her feelings were just lust or infatuation.

Regarding the thriller aspect of the novel, it felt like Hoover tried hard to add every element that is stereotypical for a thriller novel without truly exploring them. There were many deaths, toxic relationships and mental health issues that could have been better analysed. Sadly, the medical condition that Verity was in and Lowen’s suspicion of it was badly tackled.

In addition, the lack of first-person narration by Jeremy made him quite an unrealistic character. There were many questions left unanswered about him, especially how he was dealing and dealt with all the heartbreaking events that had been happening to him and his family.

Worst more, Hoover added a chapter that turned the whole novel/storyline on its head. While, there is nothing wrong with such an element in a novel, for the nature of the story and the issues in it, it left a bad taste in my mouth. It felt solely for shock value and thus very unnecessary.

Nevertheless, Colleen Hoover is a beloved romance writer and while I might not pick up another thriller by her, I would definitely give one of her romance novels a chance.

Book Review: Such a Fun Age

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Title: Such a Fun Age

Author: Kiley Reid

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Adult Fiction

Pages: 301 pages

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

Emira is a twenty-five year old who isn’t sure of what she wants to do in life nor is she fond of the fact that she is depending on babysitting to pay her bills. Nevertheless, she loves spending time with Briar, the four year white girl who she babysits. Unfortunately, an emergency babysitting session one night in a nearby grocery store leads to questioning by a security guard and a kidnapping accusation. This incident leads to a chain of events that has Emira questioning what used to be.

Favourite Quote:

N/A

Review:

Such a Fun Age is a beautiful piece of work that accurately portrays how racism creeps into the everyday lives of Black women in the United States in direct, indirect and unknowing manners. It also touches on themes such as purpose and belonging. It is a short yet gripping read, I highly recommend it!

Book Review: Ghost Bride

Title: Ghost Bride

Author: Yangsze Choo

Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal

Pages: 361

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

My Rating: 2/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

Li Lan, the daughter of a once reputable but now bankrupt family gets a marriage proposal from the Lim family, a highly respectable and rich family. However, it is a marriage proposal for their recently deceased son, Lim Tian Ching. Despite Li Lan’s refusal to being a ghost bride, she finds herself haunted by Lim Tian Ching and losing her health at the same time.

Favourite Quote:

N/A

Review:

It was a really interesting idea and had so much potential but the execution was sadly disappointing in my opinion. I think the first problem was that the intended audience was not clear. Was it for Malaysian or other Asian readers? A non-Chinese audience? Teenagers or adults? As someone who is very familiar with Malaya and Singapore history and Malay and Chinese culture, there was a bit too much explaining of certain concepts, names, food and places in the novel. While I understand that the explanation might have been primarily for non-Malaysian readers to follow the storyline better, the way the explanations were woven into the story felt forced instead of a ‘show not tell’ manner. In addition, I don’t think there is a huge problem with readers doing their ‘Googles’ and actively learning more about a culture if they happen to be reading a book based on an unfamiliar culture to them.

The second problem I had was that the plot twists in the books were all very predictable, and a lot of aspects in the novel felt too convenient. The love interest that the main character had in the novel was not believable. As a reader, I could understand the infatuation with the first love interest however, they barely had any interactions to portray the deep love between them that was implied. In addition, with the second love interest, there were even fewer interactions to understand why the main character would so easily choose them over the first love interest. In addition, the motivations for certain characters’ betrayal, help, and the reasoning behind the talents of certain characters were all weak too. ( I am trying to be as vague as possible to avoid spoilers).

The third problem was the execution of Chinese culture and its beliefs of the afterlife as the basis of the fantasy/paranormal elements in the book. I was quite disappointed because that was a huge motivation for why I picked the book up. I was actually a little nonplussed when one character in the novel turned into a mystical creature. I thought to myself, why them and why all of a sudden and why this creature? In addition, the mystical creature chosen felt a little bit cliché. Due to the fact that there was not much effort to give a justification for the world-building and certain fantasy elements (despite the fact that it was based on cultural beliefs and not just make-believe), they fell flat and as a reader a bit unbelievable especially when there were some inconsistencies.

Nevertheless, I still think it was a worthwhile read as I was really intrigued to find out how the story would play out and end (though quite conveniently) and I greatly appreciated the representation showcased in the novel.

Other

The book was recently turned into a Netflix show, however the trailer for the show hints that the series is a little bit different from the book. Here it is:

Book Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Title: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary, Romance

Pages: 389

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

Evelyn Hugo, is a big time Hollywood actress who has not been in the spotlight for a long time. Now that she is older, she is about to do a tell-all (especially about her 7 marriages) alongside an auction of 7 of her most famous gowns to charity. However, she has chosen an unknown journalist Monique Grant to do the interview.

Favourite Quote:

“When you’re given an opportunity to change your life, be ready to do whatever it takes to make it happen. The world doesn’t give things, you take things.”

Pg. 41

Review:

Why this journalist? Why did she get married 7 times? Did she love all her husbands? These are all the burning questions that push readers to pick up the book. The author does a good job of explaining the dynamics between Hugo and her husband: why she felt compelled to get married and how the marriages came to their end. Yet at the same time, while we are learning all of these and trying to understand the complex individual that Hugo is, the author ignites our curiosity on why Monique Grant is the reporter for the interview. Furthermore, there were many interesting twists and turns in the book (even though I was able to guess most of them).

Book Review: All About Love

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Title: All About Love

Author: bell hooks

Genre: Non-Fiction (Love, Modern Society, Psychology & Philosophy)

Pages: 237

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

In today’s age, love is portrayed as this fluffy feminine thing that is unproductive, and that we could do without. bell hooks challenges that narrative going as far as to argue that love is irreplaceable (something we inherently crave for and need, especially to create a more inclusive world), a skill to be learned, and a value to be defined. The author goes on to prove so by using personal experience, and psychological and philosophical work by others on similar topics.

Favourite Quote:

“The wounded heart learns self-love by first overcoming low self-esteem.”

Pg. 55

Reasons To Read It:

1.It’s packed with moral lessons.

The novel is only 237 pages, however, there is a lesson, if not lessons in each chapter. There were many times I had to put the book down after reading a chapter to process and ponder on what I had just read. To think critically about what was read and ask questions. Nevertheless, the book was not placed down for too long as its beautiful writing and full-packed insights were enchanting.

2. It is a timeless novel.

Despite the book’s publication being 2001, it is still relevant 20 years later. This is a book that needs to be read at different stages of one’s life and at different ages too, not only because of its prominent reminder of the power of love but also because there shall be a different takeaway each time it is read.

The Answers

It’s hidden in
Their deaths
The aftermath of the stories they create
The aftermath of living in storyland and experiencing all they wished they could but couldn’t or/and didn’t dare to in the real world.
Tennessee Williams, a profound writer
Who didn’t believe in original sins or guilt but in the reasoning that the right or wrong that individuals make is “by necessity or by certain still-comprehended influences in themselves, their circumstances, and their antecedent”
So,
How would Tennessee Williams explain his own tragic death from asphyxiation?
The fancy word for
His chocking on a plastic medicine cap
An irony or a protest?

It’s hidden in
The 15-20 mins planned story I performed
About how I lived in the Worlds of the characters in my novels
Placed myself in their shoes and took their skin
For so long, far too long
That I was facing the consequences of
A slowly but surely dying body
Due to a disease unknown to man.

It’s hidden in
My poem STORYLAND
In which the very reason I open a book
Books which are so much like life
With a beginning and an end
With many adventures in between
Is simply for the joy of experiencing
Experiencing
More than I ever could in this life time.

It’s hidden in
The New Year Resolutions we make
The bucket list we create
Our search for love
The dreams we hunt for and the goals we hope to fulfill
But most especially the uncertainty of death at any point in time
That lingers in the air.

It’s hidden in
But it’s not that hard to see.

STORYLAND

The very reason I open a book,
Books which are so much like life
With a beginning and an end,
With many adventures in between
Is simply for the joy of experiencing,
Experiencing
More than I ever could in this lifetime.

To know what it feels like to travel along
Clouds from Asia to Africa,
From London to Mumbai,
To be the Queen of a country,
The ruler of a land,
The boy stuck in a war between senseless politicians.

To know what it feels like to be a singer, a writer, an actress
All at the same time.
To float in space among stars,
To have dreams bigger than oneself,
To be a refugee who’s tired of dodging bullets and thus
Decides to brave the sea
Unfortunately, with waves too high to dodge.

To know what it feels like to be the hero of the day,
The successful detective,
To know what it feels like to be the man who changed the World.

 

🙂 HAPPY WORLD BOOK DAY