Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Review: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Publisher: Ecco
Pages: 400
Received: Received a copy from Harper Collins Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: August 26, 2014
Buy From / Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office-leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.

But Nella's world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist-an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways . . .

Johannes' gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand-and fear-the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation . . . or the architect of their destruction?

Enchanting, beautiful, and exquisitely suspenseful, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.

My Review:

This book takes me back to the roots of my favourite books, historical fiction, but something about this book does so much more than other historical books have done. This book added in a bit of a fantastical element with the characters and the introduction of this tiny model home that is furnished by a person who Nella has never met, and yet they seem to know her future.

I enjoyed Nella's character sometimes in this book, you see her grow over the course of the novel, she starts out as a young girl who is very naive to the world around her. She is newly married to Johannes and she doesn't understand what is actually going on around her. What I found creepy and yet very interesting to the story is how the miniaturist was never seen but knew so much about what was happening around Nella and her family, and this unknown person truly changed Nella's life by opening her eyes to what was being hidden. What I really loved is how Nella begins to stand up for herself a little more as the novel goes along. She begins to see that she doesn't understand everything, but she makes it her mission to know what is happening in her house.

Honestly, this book was so engrossing, you truly need to find out who the miniaturist is and how they really know everything that is going on in the Brandt household. This is a book that shows no one is who they truly make themselves out to be, there is always something being hidden. The mystery of something being hidden and the idea that no matter what it can be brought to the surface is what makes this such a great story. There is a little bit of everything to The Miniaturist and that makes this book one for everyone. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Review: The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes

Publisher: Viking Adult
Pages: 534
Received: Received a copy from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: November 6, 2014
Buy From / Buy From

Goodreads Synopsis:

Stella Sweeney is back in Dublin. After living the dream in New York for a year - touring her self-help book, appearing on talk shows all over the USA and living it up in her 10-room duplex on the Upper West Side - she's back to normality with a bang. And she's got writer's block.

Stella wants a clean break as she didn't exactly leave New York on a high. Why is she back in Ireland so soon? Who is it who keeps calling? Stella wants to get back to being the woman she used to be. But can she? And should she?

My Review:

I have been a fan of Marian Keyes for quite a few years, I was introduced to her writing after finding Cecelia Ahern (one of my favourite authors of all time). So when I was offered the chance to pick up a new one from Marian, I couldn't say no. This was definitely an interesting story, I liked the back and forth from past to present, it really shows how Stella's life was completely changed with one relatively small event. The book opens up with Stella talking about her life now, how she has moved back to Dublin, and there is a whole story she is trying to keep hidden from everyone, slowly everything unravels about how she became a self-help writer.

I found this to be a cute story, and at the same time a story about perseverance. One day Stella wakes up and cannot move and finds herself in a hospital because of a rare disease she has that has completely kept her from functioning, the only way that Stella can communicate is by blinking. Stella is close to giving up but day by day she finds the courage to keep trying. What I really thought was interesting about the before and after scenarios is how readers get to see how the disease affected Stella's family as a whole. Her relationships with her children, her sister, parents, and her husband all change significantly because of her time in the hospital.

This is the type of book that you have to be careful what you mention, because it can give a lot away about the story and I hate doing that. Stella's life has been completely changed and it really makes her rethink a lot about the past and where her future will lead. It's the type of book that will make you think about how you would act if in opportunity is thrown at you, would you jump at the chance, especially when there are many other people in your life that the decision will affect.

I will admit that there were a few times I was confused as to where in Stella's life the story was. There wasn't always a clear distinction (that I could tell) as to what was happening and if I was reading part of Stella's past or her present, it took me some time to figure out where in Stella's life I was. The only clear distinction was the part of the story when Stella was in the hospital and how she coped, those were the parts I really loved, because you got to see her truly scared and unsure of what her future would be.

Honestly, this is a large book but it is hard to put down. If you are a fan of those cute romantic comedies, and you like your chick-lit, I definitely think this is a book to pick up. Give it a try because there is a lot more to the story than the underlying love story, this is a story about fighting for what you believe in, and persevering through tough times. 


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