Thursday, April 9, 2020

Book Review: Part IV

With this self isolation, I've found myself with a lot of time to finally catch up on all the books I've been piling up on my bookshelves. This book review is long overdue, but no time like the present and hopefully more to come during this stay at home period. This selection of books is probably the most diverse I've done so far, but all books that were amazing to read. 

Home and Home Work - Julie Andrews

When I saw that Soprano Goddess Julie Andrews had written a memoir when I went into Barnes & Nobles to get Elton John's memoir, I knew I had to read it. She has had such an expansive career. What I didn't realize was the the newest memoir was actually part 2 of her memoirs, so I also purchased her first book to get her full story. Julie Andrews has had such a long career that is very rare in Hollywood, starting as a child performer, which I wasn't aware of, all the way through where she is today. The first part focuses on her childhood and her start on Broadway including the run of one of my favorite musicals she's been in on Broadway, My Fair Lady. 

Her second book focuses on her Hollywood years, starting with the filming of Mary Poppins. I wasn't aware that Mary Poppins was the first film she had ever been in and it's amazing to think that she won the Oscar for that role. She then focuses on a section of her book on the filming of what can possibly be known as her biggest role to date besides Mary Poppins,  The Sound of Music, even talking about how they filmed the iconic opening hillside scene. She spends the rest of the book talking about her relationship with her second husband both personally and professionally and ends the memoir with her preparing for her big return to Broadway in Victor/Victoria. 

Does this leave room for a third memoir? Hopefully, only because I want to hear the stories of her filming The Princess Diaries series and her vocal surgery. What I love most about her memoirs is that she doesn't leave anything out. She tells us so much about her personal life, including the struggle of balancing being a professional actress and a mother and wanting to be there for her children. 

The Giver of Stars - Jojo Moyes

This was a fantastic historical fiction book set in Kentucky during the Depression. This book was selected as Reese Witherspoon's November book of the month and it did not disappoint. The story follows the life of an English lady marrying an American to escape her family's life and expectations in England and tries to figure out how to fit in in a new community and culture. At the same time, the traveling libraries was beginning and Alice decided to join the group. Finding a friendship with a variety of women using their love of books as their mutual interest. 

This book was written by the author who wrote Me Before You and I love how she was able to write something completely different and even in an era that I don't normally read for historical fiction. 

Conviction - Denise Mina

This book was Reese Witherspoon's December book of the month and I was so excited to read it after hearing that the whole premise around the book is a true crime podcast, as I'm currently listening to the popular true crime podcast, My Favorite Murder. Set in present day, Anna learns that her husband has been having an affair with her best friend and they are leaving their spouses to be together. Deciding to escape reality by listening to a new true crime podcast and learns that the murder story they are covering is with a person she is familiar with. Readers discovering that Anna has a secret past gets sucked into this story as Anna tries to figure out what actually happened during the night of the murder. 

What I loved most about this book is not only that readers got to go along on the ride of Anna trying to solve the murder, but we also got to "hear" all the episodes of the podcast Anna was listening to in their own sections throughout the book. I felt that the way Mina switched back and forth between the podcast episodes and the story were amazing in that it was written as if we were listening to the podcast at the same time Anna was. 

The Six Wives of Henry VIII - Gladys Malvern

This book is really for any history fans out there. After seeing the new pop musical Six on Broadway before the heart breaking temporary closure, I was very interested to learn more about the six wives as I felt like I didn't really know much about them. I didn't want a book that would be a massive read like most biographies are and this book was perfect. Only 150 pages long, this book does a straight to the point overview of each of six wives that not only focuses on their marriage with Henry VIII, but also gives a great background detail about their lives from when they were born all the way to their deaths. It was very interesting to see how all their lives intertwined and how the elite stayed within their circle of class to make sure their family legacies continued on. 

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