#BookReview The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale is a book that I have been debating over since high school. Everyone I know from high school absolutely HATED this book (with a ridiculously strong passion) yet I had this feeling that I should read it anyways. After watching the 2017 television adaptation and LOVING it, I decided it was probably best to just bite the bullet and pick up this book. Of course, I had to remember to buy it to be able to read it and that took some time.

So, during this wonderous break from school and work I decided to indulge myself a little and pick up a book I REALLY wanted to read. Luckily, this book was within sight and reaching distance so I devoured it in under two hours. I binged this book SO HARD and it was SO WORTH IT.

If you’ve watched the television show, you know the basis. The show expands a lot more on the content (and changes some) but you’ve got the jist of the story. Offred is a Handmaid to the Commander and Serena Joy. Her “goal” is to get pregnant and give them a baby, and that isn’t going to well. So she hatches a plan with Serena Joy to be able to have a baby to get out! But… nothing ever goes to plan, and chaos ensues. That is the non-spoiler synopsis.

This book feels all too real even all these years later. It faces political, environmental and religious tones in such an amazing way that it really blew my mind. Margaret Atwood’s writing just adds to this story and gives it way more depth than I ever expected. Every little twist and turn makes me question who you can trust, if Offred is a reliable narrator (at times) and if this world can ever change. Unfortunately, you don’t find that last point out in this novel. The book ends rather abruptly and leaves me feeling cheated. I want to know what happens OH SO BAD. That’s the only reason I enjoy the television show just a little bit more – it expands a lot on the narrative and we will most likely get some kind of ending (eventually… it’s only at two seasons currently at the time I write this review).

You could definitely tear this book apart for “plot holes” – like… how did society crumble so fast? How could these women not over power some of these leaders? How did people let this happen? There’s so many questions that I want answered, but I don’t think that’s the purpose of this book. It felt like a warning tale, like 1984 by George Orwell or any of the Shakespeare tales. It’s a different take on society as a whole and is criticizing it in some way (and it’s also just really good fiction, let’s be honest).

My biggest flaw is how short this book is – I want more and I want to understand more. This world is just way too good, complex and big to not explore! I hear there’s another book coming out soon (oh please give us a sequel I want mooooore) but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Overall, this is a book that makes you think. I love books like that because I can sink into my chair (or couch… or bed…) and just let myself fall into the story. I escape this world and all of my worries and just take in this whole new world. I think Margaret Atwood is a seriously good author with ridiculous amounts of talent and I will for sure be looking for more books by her. Books like this make me SO happy that I love to read and have the time and ability too. Books like this make reading an absolutely breath taking hobby!

Seriously, if you love dystopian fiction, books that you can theorize and form conspiracies over or books that you probably would have read back in your high school English class- PICK THIS BOOK UP!

Five out of five stars.

 

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If you enjoyed this review (or book!) check out another you might enjoy: #BookReview Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

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#BookReview A Cup of Redemption by Carole Bumpus

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If I had to describe this book in one word, I’d use the word “journey”.

This incredibly breath-taking tale by Carole Bumpus wow-ed me more than I can say in a few words. When I started reading this book, I just figured it was another Women’s Fiction novel that would be a great ‘on the side’ read to keep my mind off of my homework. Once I got into the book, I was instantly hooked and amazed at how Carole can weave words into the most beautiful and heart breaking tale I’ve ever read! It’s an Oscar-worthy book that is shockingly under-appreciated! Seriously, this is in my Top 10 reads now from how freaking fantastic is was!

A Cup of Redemption follows multiple generations in one family. Sophie’s Mother (Marcelle) has just passed and she is asked to investigate her family tree. She goes on this wild adventure about her heritage with her friend Kate, and enlists the help of some of her siblings. Along the way, we learn about the haunting past of her, her mother and her grandmother. These tales are seamlessly written and tie in with one another throughout the story. This book will break your heart, warm your heart, and then make you believe in familial love all over again.

There’s a splash of history in this book, since it goes over the World Wars and other historical events that occur behind the scenes (or during the scenes!) of the story. There’s a wee bit of romance, a whole lot of drama, and a splash of mystery as well! If you like fiction where the story slowly unfolds and everything comes into view, then you will love this book! The ending isn’t right out there, you have to learn through Sophie and the other characters what really happened in the past – and I loved that aspect. I’m glad the ending wasn’t obvious like some mystery novels.

I loved the characters and how they interacted with each other. Even when Carole is changing back and forth between the decades, she makes these characters lovable and feel real. At times, I could relate way harder to these characters than I ever expected to. That realism is what really sets this book apart from other stories like this. I almost felt like this could be a non-fiction retelling of a woman’s life. Seriously, it’s that good.

The downfalls of this book are as followed:
1. There’s a lot of characters to follow, and if you put down this book a few times like me – you might forget who’s who!
2. There are some plot points that don’t end up resolved, but they aren’t major ones. I would have liked a few more of my questions answered, but the story does come to a close so I guess that’s a bit of a positive…
3. This book can be quite…upsetting. There’s rape, sexual assault and other dark occurrences in the book that aren’t for the light of heart.

By the end of this book, I couldn’t put it down! I absolutely loved it! Even with the slow start, it slowly burned a hole into my heart and I absolutely need more by Carole Bumpus! If you haven’t picked this book up, seriously, get on it! I’m utterly surprised by how well this book connected with me and I want to make sure more readers are able to connect to books with this much talent in it!

Five out of five stars!

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

Find this book on:

Kobo

Indigo/Chapters/Coles – eBook

Indigo/Chapters/Coles – Paperback

Barnes and Nobles – Paperback

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca

 

Find out more about Carole Bumpus on:

Goodreads – Carole Bumpus

http://www.carolebumpus.com/

Twitter – @CaroleBumpus

If you enjoyed this review, give me a shout out on Twitter: @ReviewAlholic or check out my Facebook page: @BriarsReviews

 

While you’re at it, check out another book review you might enjoy! #BookReview Driving on the Left by Gail Ward Olmsted

#BookReview Second Guessing by Gail Ward Olmsted

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Second Guessing by Gail Ward Olmsted is a lovely sequel to Guessing at Normal that shouldn’t be missed!

I thought this book was a fantastic addition to this series – this time with Jill falling for Ben (a much younger guy). It was a nice twist on the story of older woman, younger man with lots of sweet romance scenes in between the dramatic bits. Add in another boy band, Lynsey and teenage drama with Jill’s daughter Carly and you’ve got a soap opera-esque women’s fiction novel!

One thing that really hit me was that Carly accurately described how I feel about the loss of my own Father. Sometimes you forget they are gone, or you just forget – it’s tough! I totally bonded with Carly over feeling like everything is okay, and then one day you wake up and realize (again) that he’s gone. It was right on the nose!

I also really enjoyed the final newspaper/magazine articles that worked better than an epilogue (if I’m being honest). It was a nice change and was a fun glimpse into life right after the novel finishes.

One ‘con’ for this book was that having the names of actual recent bands and singers could potentially age the story. It wasn’t a bad thing to have, because right now it’s recent and makes sense. But for me, thinking about this book ending up in someone’s hand in the future… will they know Maroon 5 or Nick Jonas? Will they be just as big then as they were now? The rest of this story felt like it could have aged well (maybe not the texting, but who knows where that will go in the future), but the name dropping of recent bands worries me. Older bands I can understand (I mean, they have become legends) but will those recent singers and bands be legends? That’s more of a psychological question I had about this book that didn’t ruin it by any means.

This was by no means an R rated novel – it’s a fun, sweet yet sassy PG-13 novel. I could easily see teenagers going into this book even if it is intended to be read by adults.

Overall, this book was another fun women’s fiction novel packed with romance and drama. Gail Ward Olmsted has hit it out of the park with another sweet hit! I highly recommend this novel to those who want romance (but no erotica), women’s fiction or some soap opera-esque story lines.

Four out of five stars!

I received a free copy of this novel from the author Gail Ward Olmsted in exchange for an honest review.

 

Check out this novel, Second Guessing, on:

Goodreads: Goodreads – Second Guessing

Amazon.com: Amazon.com – Second Guessing

Amazon.ca: Amazon.ca – Second Guessing

 

Check out Guessing at Normal (the first book!) on Amazon:

Amazon.com: Amazon.com – Guessing at Normal

Amazon.ca : Amazon.ca – Guessing at Normal

 

Find out more about Gail Ward Olmsted on:

Her website: http://www.gailolmsted.com/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/gwolmsted

 

Comment below – what is your favourite romance novel?

If you read this review, give me a shout out on Twitter using the hashtag #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

 

Photo from Goodreads.

#BookReview Jeep Tour by Gail Ward Olmsted

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Jeep Tour is another stunning women’s fiction novel by Gail Ward Olmsted.

Seriously, this lady KNOWS what I’m feeling and thinking! Just the quote alone “A series of unrelated and seemingly random events that can singularly cause stress and anxiety” is my life right now – college, working, life, EVERYTHING! Within this sweet, women’s fiction are words of wisdom I never would have appreciated until I became an adult and finally understood what “adulting” meant! The metaphor comparing whack-a-mole made it even better, to be brutally honest. That’s is how life feels sometime!

This novel is the first in the “series”, but like the rebel I am – I read Jackie’s daughter’s story first! So, it was only necessary to read Jackie’s story as well! The two books can easily be read apart, but if you want a little more sanity and understanding, reading them in order would be helpful. I do have to say, you can tell that Gail has improved in her writing (not that she was bad to begin with, but you can see the growth and I LOVE when that happens! I’m a nerdy little birdie for seeing authors grow and change into sophisticated and more talented authors!).

Now, back to the story!

Middle-aged Jackie is divorced from her husband and decided to go on an adventure and hop on a Jeep Tour. She ended up meeting uber sexy tour guide Rick, and he gave her his number! Rick is young, hot, and flirty!

I related to Jackie in many ways – troubles with her job, a “Linda” in their life, troubles with relationship and wanting to just run away. But the one thing I really liked about Jackie was her ridiculous sense of humor! “Waa-mbulance” was one of the best comments I’ve ever seen, and I will definitely be entering that into my verbal thesaurus for the next time life gets tough. The accounting metaphors also had me chuckling, since I’ve taken some accounting classes (and the comments really fit how I see some of my accounting friends…).

Even the relationships in this novel felt real, which was shocking! I don’t know many people who got divorced and started sleeping with their ex when the papers were signed, but Gail made me feel like I did! I felt like Jackie and Robbie could have been my neighbors or friends of mine! It was weird, but incredible. But that’s raw talent for you! Although, sometimes I felt like this relationship was a little bit… tumultuous, or not healthy. Knowing the contents of the second book made me feel better about it, but there was still this ache in the back of my head going “NOOOO JACKIE NOOOO YOU DESERVE BETTER – NICE GUY AND GOOD SEX! YOU CAN HAVE BOTH! DON’T SETTLE FOR ONE!”

The journey Jackie embarks on is definitely a beautiful story. The ups, the downs and everything in between will make you feel! It was a beautiful story to sit down, admire the summer air and fall into. It was a relaxing read, something that women’s fiction definitely needs!

I definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants a soft, simple read with a little splash of drama and romance. It’s a PG rated, flirty and fun book that will whisk you away into the life of a of truly incredible character. It’s a must read that will be added to my shelf!

Five out of five stars!

I received a free copy from the author Gail Ward Olmsted in exchange for an honest review.

 

Check out this book on:

Goodreads: Goodreads – Jeep Tour

Amazon.com – Amazon.com – Jeep Tour

Amazon.ca – Amazon.ca – Jeep Tour

 

 

Check out the sequel with Jackie, Robbie and their daughter in Driving on the Left!

Goodreads – Goodreads – Driving on the Left

Amazon.com – Amazon.com – Driving on the Left

Amazon.ca – Amazon.ca – Driving on the Left

 

Find out more about Gail Ward Olmsted on her website: http://www.gailolmsted.com/

Or give us both a shout out on Twitter! @GWOlmsted & @ReviewAlholic

 

Comment below – have you read any novels by Gail Ward Olmsted?

 

Photo from Goodreads.