Friday, March 30, 2018

Backlist Mini-Reviews

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick (2016)

While going through his late wife's things, Arthur Pepper finds a charm bracelet he doesn't recognize.  In learning about the bracelet and its charms, Arthur realizes his wife led an exciting life before she met him that she never told him about.

I just fell in love with this book, and Arthur, from the start.  The story was so heartwarming and endearing.  Arthur and his wife Miriam led a happy but quiet and predictable life for 40 years.  The stories behind the charms make Arthur begin to question if Miriam really could have been satisfied with him and how well he really knew her.  At the same time, though, the quest breaks him out of the funk he had been in for a year and helps him form better relationships with his children and friends.  I wanted Arthur to find the answers he craved, but to also learn that even though his wife had all these experiences before she met him, it didn't take away from her love for him.  

Patrick's writing is simple and readable, and the pacing of the story was perfect.  There are so many secondary characters that Arthur meets along the way, yet they are all unique.  I especially loved getting to know Miriam through Arthur's memories of her and through her charms.  If you liked the movie Up, then I think you'll love this book, too (keep some tissues handy!).  4.5 stars

The After Party by Anton DiSclafani (2016)

The After Party focuses on the friendship between two socialites in 1950s Houston.  Cece and Joan have been best friends since childhood, but now in their mid-twenties, Joan is becoming increasingly erratic.

I'm not quite sure what I just read.  This book is almost 400 pages, yet it felt like nothing happened.  Cece is the main character and she seems to have it all - a devoted husband, a young son, and tons of money.  Yet, she spends most of her time worried about her friend, Joan, almost to the point of obsession.  Joan isn't even worthy of Cece's worries - she's selfish and uncaring and keeps too many secrets.  I wanted to shake Cece and tell her to stop worrying so much about Joan and start focusing on what's in front of her.  It was so frustrating to see her continue to seek Joan out when it was obvious it was one-sided.

While I thought DiSclafani's writing was rich and flowing, the pacing was too slow; everything just felt dragged out and melodramatic.  2.5 stars

28 comments:

  1. The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper sounds like such a wonderful book! I know I have seen that cover but didn't know what it was about. Great reviews!

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    1. Thanks, Grace! It was such a sweet story!

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  2. I am so glad my library has the Arthur Pepper book - I am so looking forward to reading it!

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  3. Too bad The After Party wasn't better. Lately I've been obsessed with the 1950's more and more.

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  4. Adding The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper to my TBR immediately!!!

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  5. The Curious Charms sounds like such a sweet book! The After Party sounds like it has some promise, too bad it turned out to be a dud.

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    1. Curious Charms was so lovely. Yeah, I was surprised I ended up not liking The After Party.

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  6. I have Arthur Pepper on my TBR. It sounds wonderful, and your glowing review makes me think my instincts were correct. I got a few happy tears from your review, which signals a winner for me.

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  7. I've been so intrigued by Arthur Pepper, I think you've convinced me to add it to my TBR! I hate when books have problems like those you described from The After Party, so I'm glad to see your review for it.

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    1. I hope you enjoy Arthur Pepper, it was such a special book.

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  8. Arthur Pepper sounds like such a gem! You made me want to know more about their marriage, and how he and hsi wife found each other.

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    1. Thank you, Verushka! At certain points, I related a lot to their marriage.

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  9. I bet the Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is an adroable story.

    Ronnie @ Paradise Found

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  10. The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper sounds like an absolutely delightful read. For some reason it makes me think of descriptions I've read of A Man Called Ove, yet another book that has been on my TBR for too long. I'm adding this one too though :)

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    1. I think other people have compared the two books. I haven't read A Man Called Ove, but I can definitely recommend Arthur Pepper. He's just the sweetest little old man, I loved him!

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  11. The Curious Charms of Author Pepper sounds wonderful and completely heartwarming. I think it would be something I would like too, so thank you for sharing it.

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    1. You're welcome! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did if you decide to read it.

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  12. The Curious Charms does sound like a fun read!

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    1. It was just a practically perfect, lovely read!

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  13. Aww The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper sounds so adorable! I'll have to see if my library has it. That's too bad about The After Party. From the cover it seems like it would be an exciting read, but I can definitely relate to the what-did-I-just-read feeling. I had the same experience with a thriller recently. I got through the entire thing and felt so incredibly underwhelmed. There was so much whining and not nearly enough excitement.

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    1. Yes! I mean, I probably didn't expect a ton of action from The After Party, but it just felt like there was no point to the book.

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  14. The Curious Charms sounds delightful! Sometimes I just want a heartwarming read like that :)

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    1. It's perfect for when you need something like that!

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I'm so glad you stopped by, and I would love to hear your thoughts! Comments are always greatly appreciated!