Rooftops of Tehran

Rooftops of Tehran by Mehbod SerajiRooftops of Tehran by Mahbod Seraji was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. Seventeen-year-old Pasha practically lives on his roof in the summer of 1973 along with his best friend Ahmed. Pasha has fallen in love with the girl next door, Zari, but feels immense guilt because she is engaged to Doctor, a man Pasha respects and looks up to. The summer serves to increase the friendship between Pasha and Zari but ends in a tragedy which will change the way Pasha sees the Iran he lives in.

I am absolutely in love with this book. I soared through it because I just could not put it down. The characters seemed to jump off the page. Pasha and Ahmed as best friends was so believable. They teased each other and embarrassed each other but were always there for each other when needed most. I think I loved their scenes the most because they reminded me of how I am with my best friend.

I loved the rich setting of the novel. I fell in love with the people in Pasha’s alley. They were so loving and caring. There was a warmth and a togetherness that I do not see in my little neighborhood and wish I could. This novel had everything going for it, and I can only wish that I can find another book that made me feel as deeply as this book has made me feel!

Bridget Jones’s Diary

Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen FieldingBridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding is definitely a great summer read. Bridget Jones has decided to improve her life this upcoming year. She vows to quit smoking, to drink less alcohol, to decrease her calorie intake, and not find herself involved with men who do not respect her.

Bridget hilariously chronicles her year, trying to survive her crazy parents, mostly her mum who, along with her friend Una, dangles her in front of one Mark Darcy who can only seem to ask her if she’s read any good books lately. She also has to deal with her quirky friends and their vile significant others. And don’t forget about the smug marrieds who want nothing more than to rub Bridget’s single status in her face at every opportunity.

And then there is Daniel Cleaver, Bridget’s boss and crush who likes to make flirty comments about her skirt and blouse…

I realize it has become too easy to find a diet to fit in with whatever you happen to feel like eating and that diets are not there to be picked and mixed but picked and stuck to, which is exactly what I shall begin to do once I've eaten this chocolate croissant.I have seen the movie (who can resist Colin Firth?!) which I thought was hilarious but hadn’t yet read the book so when my friend offered to lend it to me, I was most pleased. Interestingly, I was looking at my bookshelf and noticed the sequel hanging out. Not quite sure when I bought it, or why as I obviously do not own the first. Oh well…

Almost every entry comes with a detailed list of her weight, number of cigarettes, alcohol units, and calories, along with a few other funny tidbits. Each number is followed by something along the lines of “v.g.” or “better” or “too shameful to smoke in presence of healthy young whippersnappers.”

I found myself often laughing at the hilarious situations Bridget found herself in while simultaneously wanting to hit her over the head when she did something incredibly stupid (especially when it had to do with a man). If you want a good laugh and a nice dose of British humor than this is the book for you!

Without a Summer

Without a Summer by Mary Robinette KowalWithout a Summer by Mary Robinette Kowal is the third book in the series and my favorite. After recovering from their adventure in Belgium, Jane and Vincent accept a commission in London and bring Jane’s sister Melody along in the hope of finding her an eligible husband.

They enter a London filled with unrest for as the spring months creep by, the snow continues to fall. The extensive winter weather is unfairly blamed on the coldmongers, glamourists who concentrate the practice with cooling things. Riots break out by the Luddites as well who have lost their weaving jobs to new, mechanized looms. Jane finds herself becoming increasingly suspicious of their employer’s son and worries ever the more when Melody seems to be making an attachment to her.

Throw in Vincent’s family whom he has not spoken to in years, and one has a very interesting book to read.

You are unique and wonderful and–and a thousand other hackneyed things. You are my Muse.

I loved this one much more than the other two. I think it was because I got to learn more about Vincent and how he came to be the way he is. His personality wasn’t nonexistent like in the first book or pretty deplorable like in the second. I thought the plot was a little more interesting. It definitely kept me reading.

I do enjoy Mary Robinette Kowal’s writing as well as at some times it was quite cheeky. The characters, Melody included, were much more rounded, and the plot was more intriguing. Wonderful!

Glamour in Glass

Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette KowalGlamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal is the sequel to Shades of Milk and Honey so if you have not read that one yet, it might be wiser not to read this review as it might contain spoilers. This novel picks up not long after Jane and Vincent are wed and follows them as they travel for their honeymoon to Binché, Belgium where Vincent’s good friend and fellow glamourist, M. Chastain, lives.

Once there, their honeymoon is anything but. Jane finds herself in a situation where she is unable to perform glamour and fears that her husband’s persistent absences and shortness with her are signs that he does not love her without her glamour ability. When Jane discovers the real reason for his actions, she learns that they are not safe with Napoleon on the march.

This was a nice sequel. I enjoyed getting to delve a little deeper into Vincent’s character even if I didn’t particularly like him in the first half of the story. I didn’t think he treated Jane well at all, no matter what secrets he was keeping from her. I did enjoy Jane’s growth as a character. The author put her in an interesting situation, and I liked watching Jane figure out how she would handle it.

I do enjoy the author’s writing. She able to seamlessly weave in just the right amount of humor to alleviate some of the more serious situations so that things do not become too heavy.

This is an extremely quick and easy read for those who want something a little lighter when just the right amount of magic mixed in!

Shades of Milk and Honey

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette KowalShades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal is Jane Austen-esque book with a little magic twisted throughout. Jane Ellsworth is practically a spinster at eight-and-twenty and lives in the shadow of her younger sister’s beauty. The only thing Jane believes she has going for her is her music and knowledge of glamour, the art of twisting the ether into tableaux. She delights in bringing life to paintings, rooms, and her music.

Jane finds herself at odds with her sister Melody who is not always the most sensitive with her comments. As a result, Jane finds herself becoming close friends with Miss Elizabeth Dunkirk and firmly in the sights of her brother Mr. Dunkirk. While Jane finds her feelings for Mr. Dunkirk growing deeper, she is not sure if he can look past her too sharp nose to the woman she is beneath.

And let us not forget the mysterious and sullen Mr. Vincent, a famous glamourist who has been hired by the Ellsworths’ neighbors to create a grand glamural. Mr. Vincent and Jane seem to bump heads at every meeting, and Jane can not understand what she has done to so offend the man.

I thought this was a nice light read. I wish I would have gotten a little more out of Mr. Vincent by the end of the novel. I felt his character was somewhat flatter than I would have liked. I liked the play of glamour throughout the novel. It added a nice hint of whimsy to the story and was something I much needed!

The Little Lady Agency and the Prince

The Little Lady Agency and the Prince by Hester BrowneThe Little Lady Agency and the Prince by Hester Browne is the final book in her Lady Agency series. Melissa Romney-Jones is back in London, newly engaged and trying to figure out what is going to happen to her agency once she moves to Paris to live with fiancé, Jonathon Riley. In the meantime, she has taken on one last big client, the prince of a small country who needs to straighten out his ways if his grandfather and his family are going to be able to reclaim their castle.

Prince Nicolas von Helsing-Alexandros is overly flirtatious, and the epitome of a spoiled rich man who believes he can do whatever he wants and get away with it. Melissa, bedecked in her blonde wig and the ensuing persona of Honey, certainly has her work cut out for her with Nicky. But as she works to bring out the gentleman in him, she finds herself becoming pulled in by his charm. And when her longtime friend and flatmate starts spending most time with a woman Melissa set him up with, she doesn’t know what to feel.

I loved Melissa in this final novel. She was just as witty and engaging as ever. I found her a little more vulnerable in this one too. She finds herself torn between three men, and I think she makes the right decision in the end even if I was left wanting more. An epilogue would have completed this book for me.

Nicky is engaging as well. I liked seeing his transformation from sleazeball to vulnerable to gentleman. It was nice to see that these characters have layers and can change and grow. I think Melissa grew a lot in this book. She is finally able to stand up more for herself and what she wants. She is such a heartwarming character that you can’t help but root for her. Excellent series!

The Little Lady Agency in the Big Apple

The Little Lady Agency in the Big Apple by Hester BrowneThe Little Lady Agency in the Big Apple by Hester Browne is the continuation of The Little Lady Agency. Melissa and Jonathon have finally gotten together. Jonathon has been moved back to New York, and Melissa reluctantly hands her agency over to her friend Gabi and her sister Allegra to spend a month in New York with her boyfriend. Melissa heads to the Big Apple hoping that she has a business to come back to.

She also worries about how Jonathon’s friends are going to react to her. Melissa is thrust right into the midst of New York, meeting person after person. She finds her vacation being taken over by a spoiled dog and a fellow British actor she snogged once back in the day. Melissa finds herself torn in all directions as she tries to juggle the people of New York, her absent boyfriend, and what might be happening to her agency back home.

I love Melissa! And I feel so bad for her because she is too nice to turn anyone down who needs her help. She ends up getting taken advantage of and being taken for granted. She finds herself in hilarious situations such as a fist fight in a park over a dog.

Melissa is a very endearing character, and I just love reading about her. Jonathon got on my nerves a bit in this one because he seemed to be trying to mold Melissa into someone she isn’t. I could feel Melissa’s frustration at times and wanted to give him a nice big kick. This was a great second book in a series. I enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed the first. The third one (The Little Lady Agency and the Prince) is great as well so don’t forget to check it out too!

The Little Lady Agency

The Little Lady Agency by Hester BrowneThe Little Lady Agency by Hester Browne was just the sort of book I needed right now. It was fun and imaginative. Melissa Romney-Jones knows her way around any social situation, and her etiquette is fit for a queen. When she gets laid off her job at a real estate agency, Melissa doesn’t really know where to go next. Her father, an arrogant and conniving politician, is calling in on the money he lent her so Melissa knows she needs to work on getting out of her father’s debt so she can be free of his overbearing ways.

After a disastrous few days at a supposed high class escort agency, Melissa decides she needs to embark on her own, and thus the Little Lady Agency is born. Melissa only needs to don her blonde wig to be transformed into Honey, the girl that will show up to functions as a man’s dates and will overhaul his wardrobe. And as Honey, Melissa can be the sexy, sassy woman she has always dreamed of being. When she starts to feel more for one of her clients, she wonders where Honey ends and Melissa begins.

Melissa is such a wonderful character. She has a heart of gold, and her subconscious nature and family problems makes her come to life in such a realistic manner. I enjoyed seeing her as honey and overhauling these men who wouldn’t know their left shoe from their right. She makes for a character you can’t help but care about and sympathize with.

Melissa really comes into her own as she deals with being taken advantage of by her ridiculous family and running her own business. Her friends, Nelson and Gabi, are great in giving glimpses of Melissa when she has her guard down. Although she comes off as strong and self-reliant, Melissa is not as confident and self-assured as she appears with her blonde wig on and her Honey persona in place.

I really did love reading this novel, and the two following in the series (The Little Lady Agency in the Big Apple and The Little Lady Agency and the Prince) which I will review in future posts. I’m so glad that I discovered Hester Browne! She really is a great and imaginative author whom I can’t seem to get enough of now that I’ve found her! If you’ve already read this book series by her, I would encourage you to check out Swept Off Her Feet and The Finishing Touches which I also greatly enjoyed!

Drop Dead Healthy

Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. JacobsDrop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs was a very interesting read. This book follows A.J. over two years as he works to become the healthiest man in the world. Each chapter focuses on a different body part. The stomach, as you can imagine, shows up quite a few times.

He explores pretty much every health trend out there from a juice cleanse to the caveman workout. He tries the extremes, giving equal emphasis to each without discrimination. His writing is engaging and witty. I often found myself laughing out loud, especially when he was taking a pole dancing class.

Each chapter was devoted to making that organ the healthiest he could. It was interesting to learn more about how the human body functions. I even changed a few of my habits after reading this book.

There were a few chapters I could have done without. I learned a little bit more about A.J. than I was anticipating or wanting to know. Other than that, I really enjoyed reading this.

My friend recommended this author a while back, but I haven’t gotten a chance to read anything by him until now. I was lucky enough to receive an advance reader’s copy to read and review, and I’m certainly glad I did!

A Tailor-Made Bride

A Tailor-Made Bride by Karen WitemeyerA Tailor-Made Bride by Karen Witemeyer was a very cute read. Hannah Richards is a dressmaker and has just been given her own shop in Texas from a wealthy patron. She travels to Texas to open her shop, hoping to attract a lot of business with her well-tailored and flattering clothes. What she didn’t expect was J.T. Tucker.

J.T. owns the livery across the street from Hannah’s store and wants as little to do with her as possible. Not only did she now occupy the store he has been trying to buy for years, but she’s a dressmaker. She makes clothes to stroke the vanities of women. Unfortunately for J.T. he is constantly finding himself around her and is slowly discovering that she might be different than she thought she was.

This was a very cute book with strong characters. It focuses a lot on determination and overcoming prejudices. Hannah is a lovely character who works hard and puts her trust in God. J.T. starts off incredibly bitter, but his struggle to stay from Hannah was fun to read. This was a very fast read, and I found myself drawn into the story, wanting to read until the end. I got this in ebook form and read it while working out, but found myself at home reading it too just because I wanted to know what would happen next! This book was well-written, and the characters were well-formed. This is definitely a fun and great read!

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