book review, contemporary, Young Adult

Book Review | Words in Deep Blue

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Words in Deep Blue

Author: Cath Crowley

Format: Paperback (borrowed)

Pages: 273

Categories: Young Adult, Romance, Grief, Death, Books, Contemporary

This is a love story.
It’s the story of Howling Books, where readers write letters to strangers, to lovers, to poets.
It’s the story of Henry Jones and Rachel Sweetie. They were best friends once, before Rachel moved to the sea. 
Now, she’s back, working at the bookstore, grieving for her brother Cal and looking for the future in the books people love, and the words they leave behind.

I picked this book up after reading a dystopian story that exhausted me (in a good way), not even thinking I’d really get into it right away. But I picked it up at dinner time and was done by like 10:30pm! And yes it’s a short book, but I read it so fast because it was beautiful.

It is a love story, but not only about romantic love. It’s the love between family, the love between Rachel Sweetie and her brother who died, Cal. Love lost between parents or friends, a secret love, a second chance love, or a not another chance kind of love. It broke my fricken heart because I am that person who’s trigger is basically stories about death and grief. 💔 But I don’t tend to shy away from books like these, I’m eager to devour them just to know I’m not alone in grieving.

This book, with the beautiful bookshop setting and its Letter Library – oh the Letter Library. ❤️ I want to encounter a letter library, what a beautiful concept to leave letters and notes in books. For me writing in a book is a no-no but I want to buy me a copy of Words in Deep Blue and write in it and underline everything that touched me in this book. That’s how much this book moved me.

The actual romance between Rachel and Henry seems like a typical teenage romance. It is a friends to lovers romance. But Henry is desperately in love with a girl named Amy, though his best friend Rachel is in love with him. Or was. There is a “letter” but it doesn’t get read at the right time due to certain circumstances, and then the moment seems lost as Rachel moves on. Her life takes a horrendous turn without Henry knowing any of it, in part because she did move on from him, but…still, it was sad and frustrating when they meet again. But I get it. I get where Rachel’s head space was at.

Now Henry….Henry. He seems like that lovable, nice guy who needs some direction, or a lot of it. 🤦🏻‍♀️ I’m glad he finds it in the end. I’m relieved they both do.

I love that this book was a love letter to “books” as well. Where would we be without the written word and how it binds us all together in ways unexpected. All of us view books differently and this one pierced my heart pretty deep. I cried. I loved it. And that’s it.

book review, contemporary, E-book, romance, Young Adult

Book Review: The Lovely War

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2

Author: Julie Berry

Format: eBook (borrowed)

Pages: 480

Categories: War, Gods, Romance, World War I

Book Blurb:

They are Hazel, James, Aubrey, and Colette. A classical pianist from London, a British would-be architect-turned-soldier, a Harlem-born ragtime genius in the U.S. Army, and a Belgian orphan with a gorgeous voice and a devastating past. Their story, as told by goddess Aphrodite, who must spin the tale or face judgment on Mount Olympus, is filled with hope and heartbreak, prejudice and passion, and reveals that, though War is a formidable force, it’s no match for the transcendent power of Love.

MY REVIEW

The Lovely War, is amazingly written and I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into when Aphrodite starts narrating this love story. I was afraid the narration would take me out of the story and maybe sometime near the ending, it did just a smidge – because it was wrapping up the story lines and felt a little rushed. But other than that, this book is really fantastic.

“Let them start their dreadful wars, let destruction rain down, and let plague sweep through, but I will still be here, doing my work, holding humankind together with love like this.” – Aphrodite

The Lovely War by. Julie Berry

The story is a combination of mythology, history, music history and romance. Romance is what drives the story but it also explored prejudice and racial divides of the American troops especially when the black regiment is sent to fight in World War I. I will admit this, I know so much more about World War II because there are many movies, tv series and books about it that World War I is sort of lost on me. I know it happened, I learned about it in history class twenty plus years ago, but no one continues to talk about it as much as WWII. So this book was engaging and I kept highlighting passages in the book to make sure I do some research on it later. But the author goes into more depth with historical notes after the story ends and also added a selected bibliography list. Thank you to the author, Julie Berry, for that!

Aphrodite’s purpose for telling this particular story is due to the fact she is being put on “trial” by her husband Hephaestus for infidelity. The story of Hazel and James, and Colette and Aubrey is her evidence of some of her greatest work as the goddess of love. Their beginning is sweet and appropriate as it was in that era but I was afraid of a sad ending for all them. I love Colette, she is so strong. I adore how she and Aubrey come together through their trials in life and love of music.

Aubrey’s story portrayed the prejudices he and his regiment experiences being an American soldier, well not quite soldier, he’s a musician. Aubrey, being from progressive New York City has much more opportunities there but as he points out, it was still segregated. Racism was everywhere in America and it shows us how far we’ve come and how much more we have to go. Another interesting aspect of his story is the introduction of rag-time and jazz music in Europe! I learned so many things in this book.

When James goes to war, I know it’s inevitable but it still broke my heart. I thought the war scenes were intense but it really moved the story along. And it gave me a sad feeling in his happily ever after with Hazel, just knowing their children will come to experience WWII. We also get a glimpse of James suffering from PTSD and how he deals with it. And I learned a lot about the roles of women back in WWI, since they weren’t allowed to fight. Hazel and Colette worked with the YMCA and the Red Cross. Because I was raised on stories of WWII, the iconic image of women helping in the war was Rosie the Riveter. So shining a light on the women of WWI was a nice change.

Now the gods were great characters in the story as well, Hades being my favorite. We see death as something depressing and scary, but Hades’ narration was a lovely way of showing how even though our loved ones are gone, they are watching us from beyond.

“I am so often moved by souls whose first concern is not for their own lost years, but for the grief their passing will cause to those they love.” -Hades

The Lovely War by. Julie Berry

With all the love stories being told, you’d think I would have been attached to the main characters. And the gods have their own love story too. But the story that finally got me was the moment James talks to Frank Mason’s wife. That’s the moment this book almost brought me to tears. 😢 The Masons scenes were brief but so impactful. I think all the sorrow, stress, fears and anxiety culminated it in that point for James and the whole story. That moment was a big exhale, a very pivotal moment for the characters to choose to go on living.

After everything these characters go through with this war and how it brings them together, tears them apart and for some together again, there is still love. There is hope and forgiveness also. This story moved me in so many ways. It is an emotional and beautiful homage to part of our history and the people that lived through it. It also reminds us that love is always worth fighting for.

Get it here: Amazon

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