Over the past few months it has seemed that reviews of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine have been just about everywhere in the book blogging world. I was stuck on a hold queue for the audiobook at the LA Library for well over a month before getting access to the book in August, shortly before my trip home to Milan. I had just finished Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall in audiobook, which was an absolutely engrossing and rewarding experience (listen to it rather than read it if you haven’t yet!), so my expectations with regards to audiobooks were extremely high.
If you’re traipsing around Milan eating gelato but keep finding yourself thinking back to that audiobook waiting for you at home at the end of the day, that’s a good sign. I avidly finished listening to Eleanor’s story in just a few days. Despite being a much simpler and shorter experience than the lengthy historical tome that preceded it, within a couple chapters, I was completely captivated by Eleanor. I would rank Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine up there as one of the best books I’ve read this year, and I think it would make my Top 100 of all time if I ever sat dawn to draw it up one day. I couldn’t believe it when I read that this is author Gail Honeyman’s debut novel! That’s truly astounding because her characters are so compelling, fully-formed and sympathetic. Sign me up to read anything else she may publish in the future.
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Book Of The Month is a subscription service that sends you one hardcover book per month out of five selections for a low monthly subscription fee. You can add 2 more titles to your monthly delivery for $9.99 each, and the price overall is very cheap for full-size hardcovers.
Book Of The Month is not paying me to promote their service. I just love it so much that I’ve turned my monthly deliveries into a feature on my blog 🙂 I do encourage you to try it though, because if you like hardcovers it’s a great deal.
You can use my referral link to sign up if you’re interested in trying it. You’ll get your first three months for just $9.99 each plus a cute tote. And I’ll get a free book when you join. Win, win!
When it comes to my June 2017 Book Of The Month selections, I liked two of them and ended up not liking the third. I ended up giving The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid and White Fur by Jardine Libaire 3 star ratings because they were solid reads with interesting characters, while Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach felt cheesy and overwrought, earning it a 2 star rating. Read my full reviews below!
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It’s not the happiest occurrence on which to end my blogging break, but today is the 20th anniversary of the death of Princess Diana on August 31st 1997 in Paris. The horrific crash that killed the princess and its aftermath epitomized the issues inherent in Diana’s relationship to the British crown and their treatment of her.
I remember finding out about the crash while standing in my family’s kitchen in Milan, watching a newscast. I think it was the day after the crash, possibly in the evening, and I remember feeling upset and shocked at the news despite being 12 at the time (the same age as Prince Harry). I didn’t know much about Diana beyond her marriage and then divorce to Prince Charles, and her public persona as a benefactress of many causes, including the battle against AIDS and the efforts to ban and remove land mines in areas of conflict.
A few weeks ago, I watched the HBO documentary Diana, Our Mother: Her Life And Legacy, in which Prince William and Prince Harry speak candidly about their relationship with their mother growing up and their experience of her death and funeral. I realized I didn’t know much about the background of Diana’s life and decided to search for a good biography of the princess. Once I discovered that Andrew Morton’s take had been recently updated and was primarily based on taped interviews with the princess herself, I knew it was the right choice. I wasn’t disappointed – the book feels highly personal to the princess thanks to the inclusion of her actual words describing the circumstances of her life. Read my review below.
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We’re all struggling with the negative political news these days, and I really wanted to read Alyssa Mastromonaco’s Who Though This Was A Good Idea? as a political palate cleanser. I wanted it to transport me back to the wonderful years of the Obama White House, when things happened in an organized fashion (largely thanks to Mastromonaco herself), and the POTUS was a steadfast and comforting figure.
I loved learning more about Mastromonaco’s role both during Obama’s campaign and in the White House. As some one who is obsessed with organizing, it was pretty dreamy to hear about the work of someone who was responsible for figuring out the logistics of a jam-packed schedule like that of the President. Mastromonaco is also truly an inspiring figure for women thanks to her incredibly significant accomplishments in a male-dominated field at a very early age.
I struggled with the memoir’s structure and tone, however. It left me wishing that Mastromonaco had either employed a more experienced ghostwriter in helping her craft it, or that she had stuck to the political memoir aspect of it and dropped the self help portions. I recently found out that the book has been optioned by Mindy Kaling’s production company to be turned into a film, and I can see how Mastromonaco’s life would translate into a very compelling feature. While we wait for the screen adaptation, read my review of Mastromonaco’s memoir below.
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I was first introduced to Selina Siak Chin Yoke’s historical fiction novels when The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds became available as one of Amazon’s Kindle First deals ahead of its release in late 2016. If you’re not familiar with the Kindle First program, it offers 4 to 5 titles each month among which Amazon Prime members can download one for free a month ahead of its actual release.
I was drawn to The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds that month as my Kindle First selection because it was a historical fiction novel set in a time and place I hadn’t read much about before. It also promised to be a family saga rather than having the romance-novel undertones of some historical fiction novels. In this I was definitely not disappointed.
When I was contacted about reviewing Selina Siak Chin Yoke’s second novel in the series – When The Future Comes Too Soon – I knew I wanted to jump at the chance and finally pick up both books back-to-back. I didn’t really know what to expect but ended up being pleasantly surprised by how robust and well-developed the novels felt for a new author. Find out more in my reviews below!
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Why the cake in the post image you ask? This week was Novels And Nonfiction’s one year anniversary! I actually created the blog in July of 2016, but my first post was on August 3rd 2016. It doesn’t feel like I’ve been blogging for a whole year (probably because I took a break from February to May due to my new job), but I do feel a lot more experienced in creating content and promoting it semi-effectively. There’s still a lot to learn but the process so far has been more than rewarding.
I’m also one week away from my well-deserved vacation home to Milan to see my family. I’m a bit undecided as to whether I’ll put blogging on hold for the week or not. Usually I go for two weeks but this time I’ll be there for just over one week, so I want to make sure I’m primarily focusing on spending time with family and eating the equivalent of my body weight in Italian food every. single. day.
Remember that you still have until this Sunday at midnight to enter my giveaway for a hardcover copy of The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. For the three ways to enter, see my blog post on my May 2017 Book Of The Month reviews.
Without further ado, here are this week’s links!
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