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Books Lately

Time for some book reviews!


The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan



American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister, Lacey, has always been the romantic who fantasized about glamour and royalty, fame and fortune. Yet it’s Bex who seeks adventure at Oxford and finds herself living down the hall from Prince Nicholas, Great Britain’s future king. And when Bex can’t resist falling for Nick, the person behind the prince, it propels her into a world she did not expect to inhabit, under a spotlight she is not prepared to face.

Dating Nick immerses Bex in ritzy society, dazzling ski trips, and dinners at Kensington Palace with him and his charming, troublesome brother, Freddie. But the relationship also comes with unimaginable baggage: hysterical tabloids, Nick’s sparkling and far more suitable ex-girlfriends, and a royal family whose private life is much thornier and more tragic than anyone on the outside knows. The pressures are almost too much to bear, as Bex struggles to reconcile the man she loves with the monarch he’s fated to become.

Which is how she gets into trouble.

Now, on the eve of the wedding of the century, Bex is faced with whether everything she’s sacrificed for love-her career, her home, her family, maybe even herself-will have been for nothing.

So as you may have guessed (or already know if you’ve read it) The Royal We is very thinly veiled Will and Kate fan-fiction. Naturally, I loved it. It was a juicy read and I thought the characters were well done — it followed about eight years of their lives and you really got to know Nick, Bex and all their quirky friends. Freddie’s studly character (aka Prince Harry) was my favourite. Not a surprise. I don’t know how true to life the book actually is, but it gave me a glimpse of what it would be like to be in the royal family and honestly that kind of attention seems pretty tough to deal with. Story-wise it wasn’t anything new or shocking, but solid 4 stars from me for entertainment value. I enjoyed reading it immensely.

The Last Child by John Hart



Thirteen year-old Johnny Merrimon had the perfect life: a warm home and loving parents; a twin sister, Alyssa, with whom he shared an irreplaceable bond. He knew nothing of loss, until the day Alyssa vanished from the side of a lonely street. Now, a year later, Johnny finds himself isolated and alone, failed by the people he’d been taught since birth to trust. No one else believes that Alyssa is still alive, but Johnny is certain that she is—confident in a way that he can never fully explain.

Determined to find his sister, Johnny risks everything to explore the dark side of his hometown. It is a desperate, terrifying search, but Johnny is not as alone as he might think. Detective Clyde Hunt has never stopped looking for Alyssa either, and he has a soft spot for Johnny. He watches over the boy and tries to keep him safe, but when Johnny uncovers a dangerous lead and vows to follow it, Hunt has no choice but to intervene.

Then a second child goes missing…

Undeterred by Hunt’s threats or his mother’s pleas, Johnny enlists the help of his last friend, and together they plunge into the wild, to a forgotten place with a history of violence that goes back more than a hundred years. There, they meet a giant of a man, an escaped convict on his own tragic quest. What they learn from him will shatter every notion Johnny had about the fate of his sister; it will lead them to another far place, to a truth that will test both boys to the limit.

I received this book as a birthday gift from my friend Dawn, so it was the first book I read in a long time that was an actual physical book and not an ebook. A real book! I read most of it in Cuba and I had a hard time putting it down on the beach, I delayed Evan’s proposal because I kept wanting to read for a few more minutes before we went swimming, ha. Anyway I was very impressed by this book. Who is this John Hart? I had never heard of him. This is not your standard murder-mystery thriller! Reading it was like a rollercoaster, with surprise twists and turns. It was gripping and well-written and heart-wrenching. Entertaining all around. Yes, parts of it were a bit far-fetched, but overall…I like. Solid 4 stars, maybe almost 4.5. Thanks Dawnald!

Defending Jacob by William Landay



Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than twenty years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: His fourteen-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.

Every parental instinct Andy has rallies to protect his boy. Jacob insists that he is innocent, and Andy believes him. Andy must. He’s his father. But as damning facts and shocking revelations surface, as a marriage threatens to crumble and the trial intensifies, as the crisis reveals how little a father knows about his son, Andy will face a trial of his own–between loyalty and justice, between truth and allegation, between a past he’s tried to bury and a future he cannot conceive.

I love mystery and crime thrillers, but I’m not really big on courtroom thrillers. Those have never been my genre. So I was skeptical of the courtroom part but I had heard good things so I decided to give it a shot. I liked it! I listened to an audiobook on my runs and though parts of it did drag a bit for me, overall it was an interesting read/listen. I finished it a few weeks ago and it has lingered with me, particularly the last third of the book, where it really picked up for me. I do think the ending was a bit contrived and everything wrapped up a little too quickly, considering how long the build-up was. But it was still worthwhile and enjoyable. I’m not sure if listening to it over reading it did much for me, but the narrator was good, which is important. I’d recommend.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak



It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

Just finished this puppy! The Book Thief takes place during WWII Nazi Germany, and I love a good WWII book. This was no exception, but what made it different was that it was from the perspective of the Germans, namely a young German girl Liesel. I was apprehensive at first about the writing style, but once I got into it I loved how it was written. And having the narrator be Death was such a unique way to tell the story. I really enjoyed his vantage point. The Book Thief is heartbreaking and humourous and it made me both laugh and cry on the subway. I didn’t mind. 5 stars from me — I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to read it! A new all-time fave for sure.

Read anything good lately?