March 12, 2020

Reviews: In Five Years + The Two Lives of Lydia Bird + The Kingdom of Back

pub 3/10/2020 by Atria Books
Adult - Women's Fiction
Received ARC from pub for review
⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 stars | In Five Years is one of those rare instances where the story and concept of the book itself moved me far more than the characters did, which it why I still rated highly. From start to finish, it was really difficult for me to empathize with Dannie Cohan, Type-A Manhattan lawyer who has her five-year plan nailed down to the last detail. That means the perfect job, apartment and getting engaged to her boyfriend. Then she has a dream set exactly five years in the future and she finds herself in a very different apartment, in bed with a very different man. It feels so real that she's shaken when she wakes up but she refuses to place any real weight on it except deep down, you know she kind of does. Then exactly four-and-a-half years later, Dannie meets the man from her vision in real life and it has her questioning everything. Like I said, I really enjoyed this premise but it was hard to connect to someone so regimented in life and who ultimately seemed to believe she had no autonomy. I'm someone who strongly believes that you always have a choice and that more often than not you have to adapt to the curveballs life throws you. So you can see why me and Dannie did not see eye-to-eye and I had genuinely hoped the author would take her character on a very different path instead of being so predictable. That said, friendship plays a big role too and we meet her lifelong best friend, Bella, early on in the book. The ups and downs plus the back and forth between them (they're complete opposites) was portrayed in a way that I found relatable and often-times moving.

Do I recommend? I do! Despite my frustrations with Dannie's personal journey and the ending quite frankly, I do think it's a thought-provoking book that will get readers thinking about destiny and choice.


pub 3/3/2020 by Ballantine Books
Adult - Women's Fiction
Received ARC at ALAMW
⭐⭐⭐⭐💫 4.5 stars | Confession time: I was not a fan of One Day in December despite all the hype. So I was admittedly hesitant to read The Two Lives of Lydia Bird but I'm so glad I decided to give this author another shot! I love a good Sliding-Doors-esque story and this was done extremely well. Lydia and Freddie have been together for more than decade and her world is turned upside down when he dies in a car accident on her 28th birthday. She wants nothing more than to cave in on herself but she tries to find her new normal with her mom, her sister Elle and Freddie's best friend Jonah there to help her. What they don't know is that she's able to cope because she's found a way to "be" with Freddie in a world where he's still very much alive (I can't tell you how because, spoilers!). Now Lydia is living two lives, her present and this alternate reality where almost nothing has changed but inevitably she has to make a choice about where and who she wants to be. I think first and foremost, the way Silver portrayed Lydia's grief really resonated with me. There really is this before and after reality to it and each person comes out of that grief differently. Who Lydia was with Freddie before he died is certainly a different woman after the fact. And neither side is better or worse, it's just different and I was impressed by the honesty in which the author wrote this. Secondly, my biggest issue was probably with the pacing because it did feel rather slow at times. But ultimately, I thought it was a beautiful story about grief, life, love and second chances of all kinds.

Do I recommend? Yes! I was pleasantly surprised by this and if you were like me and didn't love One Day, I 100% think you should give this a shot.


The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu
pub 3/3/2020 by GP Putnam Son's
Young Adult - Historical Fantasy
Received ARC from ALAMW
Photo c/o Alexa
⭐⭐⭐ 3 stars | If it's written by Marie Lu, I'm pretty much guaranteed to read it so it's no surprise that I picked up The Kingdom of Back with only a vague sense of what it's about. It's a mix of historical fiction and fantasy, with the former being the strong part of the book overall. It focuses on Nannerl Mozart and her younger brother, Wolfgang. We all know about him but what many don't know (I certainly didn't!) is that Nannerl was also a brilliant and talented musician herself. But as a young woman in 18th century Europe, her options as a performer were limited and she knew once she could be married off, her father wouldn't hesitate to do so. And despite her attempts to make the most of each year she can still perform, her brother only grows more talented. So when a mysterious stranger from a magical land offers to make her wishes come true, she's torn between accepting and wondering the cost. I thought the magical aspect was rather weak and I didn't realize the characters would be so young for most of it. In fact, this could've easily passed for older middle grade and as someone who doesn't read MG, that certainly played a role in my enjoyment of the book (I prefer older YA and up). But Nannerl herself, the musical aspect and her fight against society's expectations of her really appealed to me. Had this been straight up historical fiction focused solely on Nannerl, especially in her young adult years, I would've enjoyed this book a lot more.

Do I recommend? Despite my personal feelings on it, I do recommend it if you enjoy MG or younger YA books. Lu is a great writer and that shows in everything she releases. And even with my opinion on the fantasy side, the story truly comes down to the siblings and their passion for music which was well done.

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