Review: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Title: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
Genre: Modern fiction
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publishing Date: January 2014
Pages: 258
Source: Publisher

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A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island-from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming.

Omg, this book was so fantastic! Do you love books? Do you want to read books about books? Do you want books to be the center of everything? Then this one is definitely for you. If you don’t really like books (but occasionally read one) this is also something for you: I can promise you you’re going to love it.

A.J. Fikry is a sad, grumpy (but not so old) man who owns a bookstore, which he runs by himself after his wife passed away. No one likes him and he doesn’t really have any friends, but then one day a cute little kid is left behind in the shop: Maya. Throughout the story Fikry and Maya grow to love each other, which is made much stronger because of their shared love of books. Also, there’s a sales representive from a publishing house who has a special kind of interest in Fikry, which makes the plot even more interesting.

I didn’t think I could grow to love books more than I already did, but this book made me do it. At the beginning of every chapter there’s a review by Fikry himself, describing a book and making connections with his own life and life in general. Everything in The storied life of A.J. Fikry breathes books and the love for them, which made me appreciate those little binded things so much more. :)

Currently: workaholic

me and Ciska from Ciska’s Book Chest at Manuscripta: the opening of the literary year in Utrecht
editorday at | bootcamp theater reviewing for

Briefly | Omg, I’ve missed blogging so much. I’m busy studying (Master Intercultural Communication) and working as an editor in chief for the literary department at (next to actually working for money), that I totally didn’t have the time to blog that much. :( I’m going to try to post more in the next few weeks, but I can’t really promise you anything. Just know I’m thinking about you, my dear readers!

Time and Place | Sunday September 21st, 17:36, at my couch

Eating and Drinking | My boyfriend just baked some fries (all by himself, from scratch!) and hamburgers. So very British hamburgers and beer it is. Yay. :)

Reading | <3. I’m so into reading, even though I have to read a lot of academic stuff for study. Last week I read The storied life of A.J. Fikry, which was awesome. I’m now reading The dark room of Damokles for a course I’m following and a Dutch literary novel for review, but I can’t wait to dive into the fantasy and thrillers of this world when all this is done. Stephen King and George R.R. Martin, I haven’t forgotten you. ;) Also, I’m really looking forward to Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon on October 18th.

Watching | Yay for Netflix. I wasn’t feeling like doing anything last Friday evening (and I was too tired to read a lot), so I started watching Penny Dreadful. I declare myself in love with these series now: horror, psychological, fantasy, supernatural. This is definitely ma thaaang.

Listening | I think I’ve neglected this part of my life, oops.. I was totally planning on learning how to play guitar and keys (which I both own), but I just don’t have the time. I do listen to music occasionally, but not that much unfortunately (I can’t read and listen to music at the same time!)

Writing | I’m writing A LOT for different sources, but not anything fictional. Only reviews and reports, but I like that too: as long as I can write.

Blogging | Last week I reviewed Inamorata by Megan Chance and I gave away a copy of that book, yay. Apart from that I haven’t been blogging much, but I’m planning on doing more so in the future. Please don’t unsubscribe. I’m still here!

Appreciating | Oh so much. I appreciate my boyfriend so much, because he’s always there for me. :) Also, I appreciate the people at CultuurBewust, because we’re so awesome at working at the website together. Furthermore, I’m really beginning to appreciate the neighbourhood I live in now. One of the neighbours (we live in a flat and are surrounded by three other flats) has started a Facebookpage for this neighbourhood and it’s so nice meeting all these people that live near you. :)

Promoting | I think I already promoted some people and websites throughout this post, but I’ll be happy to do so a little more. As you might have noticed while reading this post, I’m also writing for a Dutch website, It’s a website for young people who want to know more about all things cultural and it features movie, theater, literature, art and music. I’m the editor in chief of the literature department, which is an amazing way of learning things. But I still do write posts now and then. You can check out my profile here.

Wanting | More free time to write and blog! I’m drowning in the work I have to do. :(

Anticipating | The Sweeney Todd performance by the Nederlandse Reisopera, which I’m going to with the boyfriend. Also, I really want to go to the Haunted Castle in Lisse, the week before Halloween. Also: fall and winter in general! I love the colder weather. :)

24H giveaway: Inamorata by Megan Chance

Today it’s time for a reaaaally quick giveaway. This week I reviewed Inamorata by Megan Chance: an amazing historical fiction novel full of romance, suspense and mystery. And now there’s a chance for you to read it too!

What do you have to do to have a chance at winning this novel? Follow me in any way you like (Facebook, Bloglovin, Twitter, WordPress, anything) and let me know by leaving a comment. This giveaway is (unfortunately) US only and will end on thursday September 18th. Good luck! :)

Review: Inamorata by Megan Chance

Author: Megan Chance
Title: Inamorata
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publishing Date: August 1, 2014
Pages: 420
Source: TLC Book Tours

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American artist Joseph Hannigan and his alluring sister, Sophie, have arrived in enchanting nineteenth-century Venice with a single-minded goal. The twins, who have fled scandal in New York, are determined to break into Venice’s expatriate set and find a wealthy patron to support Joseph’s work.

But the enigmatic Hannigans are not the only ones with a secret agenda. Joseph’s talent soon attracts the attention of the magnificent Odilé Leon, a celebrated courtesan and muse who has inspired many artists to greatness. But her inspiration comes with a devastatingly steep price.

As Joseph falls under the courtesan’s spell, Sophie joins forces with Nicholas Dane, the one man who knows Odilé’s dark secret, and her sworn enemy. When the seductive muse offers Joseph the path to eternal fame, the twins must decide who to believe—and just how much they are willing to sacrifice for fame.


Historical fiction, mystery and fantasy. Add these up and you’ll have a great premise for a novel: Inamorata. A story about eternal love, muses, inspiration and art. And what’s more to love? This story takes place in Venice, Italy, which gives everything an extra dash of mystery and suspension. All these elements may sound cliché, but Megan Chance has found a way to give a new twist to them. By doing that she’s created a story that’s both wonderful and creepy at the same time.

Sophie and Joseph Hannigan, twins from New York, share a special bond that no one understands. How have they grown so much towards each other? That’s not common for brothers and sisters, not even twins. What’s their secret and is it really so dark they can’t tell anyone? The story starts in Venice, but of course these characters have a past. Chance did a great job weaving those pasts into the story without creating different storylines. Everything, every line falls smootly into the other, which makes reading it a great pleasure.

I really liked the fact that the story is told from different perspectives: Sophie, one of the twins, has a say, but the story also focuses on the mysterious Odilé and her ex boyfriend Nicholas. While the story may seem like a stereotype romance at first, this changes almost within a few pages. This story is definitely no stereotype. The bonds between the characters isn’t ordinary and Chance describes this beautifully. Everything in the novel breathes Venice, which makes me excited about visiting the city once, but the descriptions of the city won’t distract the reader from the actual story: they’re more like a part of it.

Do you love mystery, old tales, myths and art? Then this is definitely the book for you and I surely recommend it to anyone who wants to take a plunge into historical fiction for the first time. I can assure you you’re going to love it!