Today I'm reviewing several books at one time. It seems I can't keep up my reviews at the same pace I'm reading - the struggle is real. HA!
Anyway, instead of doing a single review, I'm going to give several quick reviews and recommendations in one post.
The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro is a wonderful story. Set in multiple time periods that volley from the 1920s through the 1950s, the book traces the unlikely inheritance bestowed upon Grace Monroe. Grace is living in high style thanks to her marriage in London, but this lifestyle isn't what she dreamed of. She feels the need to pursue more purpose for herself than being a stay-at-home wife and mother. While she doesn't begrudge others this lifestyle, it simply isn't for her. Grace has even gone so far as to inquire about secretary school, a big "no-no" amongst the married elite.
In a unique turn of events, Grace receives a surprise inheritance from a French woman she has never met. The instructions are clear - come to Paris, come alone. Her journey is paid for and in the true sense of adventure to include an escape from the confines of her life, Grace takes the journey to Paris. Her guide is a curious lawyer and through a lot of questioning and truly horrible French spoken by Grace, she finds herself in an abandoned perfume shop meeting an elderly woman that regales the life-story of Eva d’Orsey, a perfumer’s muse in the 1920s. Slowly but surely, Eva’s past and Grace’s future converge giving Grace the choice between the life she's "supposed" to live and the life she wants..."Le droit de choisir."
I enjoyed the plot of this novel along with the dual setting of London and Paris. Tessaro creates likable characters and comfortable relationships - Grace Munroe is every woman that's been trapped by the expectations of society. The freedom she finds in having a choice makes the novel compelling and interesting - the reader questions "What would I do?" Her supporting cast of characters, from the late Eva d'Orsey to the whimsical romance of her curious lawyer are inviting. The novel has an easy romance quality to it sure to capture a reader's attention - it's light, it's refreshing, it's sweet.
I highly recommend.
For more novels by Kathleen Tessaro, visit her website at: http://www.kathleentessaro.com She is definitely on my list of authors to read more from.
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Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford is a gem among novels. I wasn't surprised at this as his debut novel Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet moved me to tears. In true fashion to his writing genre, Ford has created another masterpiece weaved with the intricacies of Chinese culture lost in American society.
Told from the perspective of William Eng, a a twelve year old boy living at the Sacred Heart Orphanage, the reader learns the true reason he calls the orphanage home. Five years prior, when William was just seven years old, his mother's lifeless body was carried away from a heart-broken bathtub. William has lived with the nuns ever since with the sincere feeling that his mother was still alive, and on his birthday - or the designated birthday by the nuns - William swears the woman he hears and sees singing at the movies is his ah-ma . Of course, no one really believes him, except his best friend Charlotte (and sometimes his other buddy Sunny), but William knows. He and Charlotte run away from the orphanage in an attempt to find Willow and help make William's life right again. What William finds is far more complex than the simple memories he'd created for himself.
This novel volleys between the 1920s and and 1950s (a reoccurring reading theme for me it seems) and traces the difficult circumstances for Chinese-Americans during The Great Depression and beyond. The characters are heart-warming and heart-breaking. I openly cried in several parts of the story as Ford created a world for me on the page that was as bleak as it must have been in the lives of the characters. His prose is flawless, his setting details phenomenal, and his story telling riveting, mysterious, powerful, and perfect. My only regret is that I didn't read this book sooner.
An absolute "5-star" rating.
For more about Jamie Ford and his works, please visit his website at: http://www.jamieford.com
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And last but, not least, I want to simply share about a novel series Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness.
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
I didn't read this book series - even though it's on my "read" shelf. I had to put this series down, but I don't want to dismiss it. What it boils down to is this is extreme dystopian and I detest almost all dystopian novels. I got the series for free years ago, and I did my best to connect with it, but it simply didn't work out. It is extremely violent without cause (in my opinion) and does not have a strong plot or character development to justify the violence. It simply isn't "my cup of tea." However, I wanted to make people aware of its presence on the bookshelf just in case dystopian is "your thing." I know several people that have read and enjoyed the series.
For more work by Patrick Ness, visit his website at: http://www.patrickness.com He says it is on hiatus right now, but I'm sure we'll see him again soon.