Book Reviews: Hamnet, Love Your Life and 12 Dates of Christmas

Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella

Goodreads blurb: Call Ava romantic, but she thinks love should be found in the real world, not on apps that filter men by height, job, or astrological sign. She believes in feelings, not algorithms. So after a recent breakup and dating app debacle, she decides to put love on hold and escapes to a remote writers’ retreat in coastal Italy. She’s determined to finish writing the novel she’s been fantasizing about, even though it means leaving her close-knit group of friends and her precious dog, Harold, behind. At the retreat, she’s not allowed to use her real name or reveal any personal information. When the neighboring martial arts retreat is canceled and a few of its attendees join their small writing community, Ava, now going by “Aria,” meets “Dutch,” a man who seems too good to be true. The two embark on a baggage-free, whirlwind love affair, cliff-jumping into gem-colored Mediterranean waters and exploring the splendor of the Italian coast. Things seem to be perfect for Aria and Dutch. But then their real identities–Ava and Matt–must return to London. As their fantasy starts to fade, they discover just how different their personal worlds are. From food choices to annoying habits to sauna etiquette . . . are they compatible in anything? And then there’s the prickly situation with Matt’s ex-girlfriend, who isn’t too eager to let him go. As one mishap follows another, it seems while they love each other, they just can’t love each other’s lives. Can they reconcile their differences to find one life together?

My take: 2.5 out of 5. It was an average and predictable romcom, but what irked me is that i really found the characters quite annoying (i do not know which was more caricatured and unaware). The premise is a bit farfetched and preachy and i wanted to stop reading by the middle of it. At the end it actually improved and i liked it more, but still not something i would really recommend, given there are so many good books out there, and good Sophie Kinsella books (Although lately she just keeps disappointing)

The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss

Goodreads blurb: When it comes to relationships, thirty-four-year-old Kate Turner is ready to say “Bah, humbug.” The sleepy town of Blexford, England, isn’t exactly brimming with prospects, and anyway, Kate’s found fulfillment in her career as a designer, and in her delicious side job baking for her old friend Matt’s neighborhood café. But then her best friend signs her up for a dating agency that promises to help singles find love before the holidays. Twenty-three days until Christmas. Twelve dates with twelve different men. The odds must finally be in her favor . . . right? Yet with each new date more disastrous than the one before–and the whole town keeping tabs on her misadventures–Kate must remind herself that sometimes love, like mistletoe, shows up where it’s least expected. And maybe, just maybe, it’s been right under her nose all along. . . 

My take: 3 out of 5. This was a great, cute book to read during the holidays. A predictable hallmark movie in book form and that’s exactly what the holidays need. Great literature it is not, but i had fun reading it and it was an expedient 1 day read. It was completely predictable but that is kind of the point in these books right? you know from the start what the end game is. ON a side note- can someone create the 12 dates of Christmas dating program like this so that I can sign up? thanks in advance

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Goodreads blurb: Drawing on Maggie O’Farrell’s long-term fascination with the little-known story behind Shakespeare’s most enigmatic play, HAMNET is a luminous portrait of a marriage, at its heart the loss of a beloved child.
Warwickshire in the 1580s. Agnes is a woman as feared as she is sought after for her unusual gifts. She settles with her husband in Henley street, Stratford, and has three children: a daughter, Susanna, and then twins, Hamnet and Judith. The boy, Hamnet, dies in 1596, aged eleven. Four years or so later, the husband writes a play called Hamlet.
Award-winning author Maggie O’Farrell’s new novel breathes full-blooded life into the story of a loss usually consigned to literary footnotes, and provides an unforgettable vindication of Agnes, a woman intriguingly absent from history. 

My take: 3 out of 5. This was a hard one for my to judge. Objectively it is a beautifully written book, with wonderful prose. However expectations were very high as it has bee hailed as one of the best books of last year. Unfortunately I was a bit bored. I didn’t get into it as much as I wanted. I also think that books where you know exactly what is going to happen: (boy dies, father writes wonderful play) it is harder to keep the interest because the road has to be very fulfilling as you don’t have the reward of the ending suspense. I did not see this. I found the character of Hamnet to be a side note. It really is a story of Agnes, the mother, but in that, not a very interesting at one. The most annoying part of the book – she didn’t name Shakespeare by name. I understand the why’s of this, but then I wish there was some consistency in its relation and calling of him. However he was referred as John’s son, Agnes husband, Judith father, Eliza’s brother etc, it was tiring to keep up. Could it be that I’m just enjoying lighter fare right now and not really responding to great, but more difficult books to read? yes potentially, but i have liked some great heavy books as of recent. Also i think reading should be fun, if its tedious, then even if its good I’m going to pass (I’m not going to judge it as harshly but I’m going to pass)

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