Wake [Book Review]

Book Reviews, Giveaways, Just for Fun

Blog Header- Wake by AnnaHope

Wake: 1) Emerge or cause to emerge from sleep 2) Ritual for the dead 3) Consequence or aftermath.

Hettie, a dance instructress at the Palais, lives at home with her mother and her brother, mute and lost after his return from the war. One night, at work, she meets a wealthy, educated man and has reason to think he is as smitten with her as she is with him. Still there is something distracted about him, something she cannot reach…Evelyn works at the Pensions Exchange through which thousands of men have claimed benefits from wounds or debilitating distress. Embittered by her own loss, more and more estranged from her posh parents, she looks for solace in her adored brother who has not been the same since he returned from the front…Ada is beset by visions of her son on every street, convinced he is still alive. Helpless, her loving husband of 25 years has withdrawn from her. Then one day a young man appears at her door with notions to peddle, like hundreds of out of work veterans. But when he shows signs of being seriously disturbed-she recognizes the symptoms of “shell shock”-and utters the name of her son she is jolted to the core…

The lives of these three women are braided together, their stories gathering tremendous power as the ties that bind them become clear, and the body of the unknown soldier moves closer and closer to its final resting place.


I am absolutely thrilled to be part of Random House’s blog tour for Wake by Anna Hope. As a huge fan of historical fiction I couldn’t say no to such an interesting debut novel!

I read this novel in two days, unable to keep the manuscript version of it out of my paws. The story goes back and forth between Ava, Evelyn, and Hettie, all grieving for someone, all stuck in a sleep-like trance, barely there, barely living. I found myself transfixed by Hettie and this mysterious man James, my heart ached for Ava and Evelyn and the losses they both suffered. All I wanted for them was to wake up and find peace, to make their own peace. As the story progressed and I learned more about how all three women are connected, I felt my anxiety grow. The way that Anna Hope intertwines the lives of these three women is remarkable and entrancing. Her characters (and their pain) is so raw that you can’t help but feel attached and responsible for them — and I’m not just talking about the three main women in the novel either. Flashbacks to fighting in the war, the horrible things that war made the men do, the life altering injuries they suffered, the nerves and shell-shock that they go through rocks you to your core.

What I like so much about Wake is the way that Anna Hope shows you both sides of the war, it wakes you up to its harsh realities. This warm and fluid novel leaves you breathless to the very last sentence… and FYI, the last sentence…it kind of rocks.

“I’ll remember you, he thinks, and as the gun carriage, with its coffin and its dented helmet pass him by, he closes his eyes.

Nothing will bring them back. Not the words of comfortable men. Not the words of politicians. Or the platitudes of paid poets.”
― Anna HopeWake: A Novel

Interested in what the other bloggers had to say about it? Click here, here, here, and here.

Then leave a comment below to enter to win a copy of WAKE from Random House of Canada!

Contest closes on February 16th!

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

Disclosure: I received a copy of Wake from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review. 

Photo Credit and Synopsis: Random House of Canada

Quote from: Goodreads

Little Gestures

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal


A striking older man walked into the restaurant I work in, I mean a seriously handsome man. I’m talking Humphrey Bogart kind of good-looking, but with thick dirty blond hair, brown eyes, and professor-like glasses to boot. Anyways, he walked into my work on a mission and asked me if I remember what his wife and her friend order when they come in for coffee. I did, so he asked me to add two cupcakes to that order and handed me his debit card to pay. On his way out he asks me not to tell them who paid, “Tell them it’s from a secret admirer.”

The ladies LOVED it when I told them that their order had already been paid for. They blushed and giggled like two school girls, trying with everything in them to get me to tell them who paid for it. It was the nicest, sweetest, romantic gesture I’ve seen in a very long time. It takes five minutes to light up someone’s face. It takes five minutes to show someone how much you really love them. They say it’s the thought that counts, right? So, show the person you love that you’re thinking about them.


Thank you to that gentleman for showing me that romance can exist at any age.

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

The Jane Austen Marriage Manual — From Page to Screen

Book Reviews, film, Just for Fun

So you read my review of The Jane Austen Marriage Manual by Kim Izzo and then decided to read it yourself. You loved it and thought: Wow! This would make a great movie! Well my friend, your wish has just turned into a reality. Canadian producer David Cormican bought screen rights to Kim Izzo’s novel The Jane Austen Marriage Manual and guess what, I got to interview him about it!

PicMonkey Collage2

What is it about The Jane Austen Marriage Manual that made you want to see it come to life on the BIG SCREEN?

It just felt like I was reading a movie the way the characters and scenes play out. It’s very cinematic and every time I spoke about what book I was reading with my friends and family, the more I saw the same reaction: Why isn’t that a movie already?

Are you planning on sticking to the novel or are there going to be any/many changes to the story or characters? Will you be writing the screenplay? Will Kim Izzo fans be able to recognize her ‘voice’ in the film?

We’ve hired Kim to write the first draft of the screenplay. In talking with all of my partners it just makes sense and there would be no one better. Kim has such a wonderful voice written such a wonderful romantic comedy that already reads and feels like a film — and actually (Kim) has a history of writing for film and television before she started in to novels after going through the Canadian Film Centre’s writing program. Obviously we will have to cut the book down in order to fit it in to an under 2 hour time slot, so we are working on that right now as to what will stay and what must go or be combined. It’s a tough job to do, but Kim has some great ideas on how to do this and you will see her voice on every page of the script.

Kate travels a lot throughout the novel, will the movie be filmed in various locations? Which would you be most excited to film in? 

That’s going to be the fun part, is deciding which countries we go to film in while keeping an eye to the budget. I’d love to have us shoot in England (obviously) and perhaps Austria, Switzerland or Germany. And there is also all of the trips she takes to Florida. We’ll have to keep our eyes open for locations we can use to double up as other locations to increase the production value.

Have you given any thought to who you would like to play the main characters? 

All  the time. We have a very long and ever-growing list of people to play Kate and Griff and Scott. There are so many tremendous actors out there who could play the roles. We’ll have a tough time narrowing it down to the perfect people.

Are you a fan of Jane Austen? How do you hope to incorporate the quotes that began each chapter of the novel? 

I am a fan of the classics. My first exposure to Jane Austen though was actually through the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice back in high school. In terms of incorporating the quotes device used in the novel. I think that is something we’d like to collaborate on with our eventual director for the film. There is clearly a lot of fun that can be had with this subject matter and it will be exciting putting all the pieces together and bringing it to the screen for fans of the novel, romantic comedies and Austen!

I’m really glad to hear that the screenplay’s first draft will be written by Kim Izzo, there’s nothing worse than a film adaptation that doesn’t have the same feel or voice as the novel — especially when you loved the novel so much! Thank you to David for taking the time to chat with me about all of this!

The Jane Austen Marriage Manual will hopefully be hitting the big screen in 2015 and I’ll be first in line to buy a ticket!


Love Always

Vanessa Xo 

Photo Sources: David Cormican, The Jane Austen Marriage Manual, Kim Izzo, Jane Austen Quote

The Jane Austen Marriage Manual [Book Review]

Book Reviews, Fashion & Beauty, Just for Fun

9781443407236I fell in love with Kim Izzo’s writing after reading her second novel My Life in Black and White. Her work is filled with quick wit, classic charm, and fantastic fashion. They’re the type of novels where you get more out of it than you thought you would. They’re the type of novels that you can’t put down, and that you don’t want to end.  I was graciously sent a copy of her first novel by the author herself.  The Jane Austen Marriage Manual begins as most novels do, with a crisis. Kate is simply down on her luck, her mother gambled away their home, her grandmother is ill, her boyfriend dumped her for someone younger and put her into a load of debt due to his schooling, and she has lost her job. Her solution, take everything she’s ever learned from Jane Austen novels and put it into use. This forty-year-old ex beauty editor will try to solve all of her problems by marrying for money. She has been given a freelance writing assignment trying to answer the question, Is a woman of forty too old to marry for money? Kate finds the answer to that question and learns a lot more than she bargained for.

In truth, I have never read Jane Austen (gasp!), nor am I close to the age of forty, nor do I understand the desperation that comes with having everything taken away from you (thank goodness), but I still enjoyed this novel and related to it on different levels. Kim Izzo made me feel as though I had gone through ALL of those things and made me wonder what I would ever do in a situation such as hers. Could I marry for money? Could I pretend I was someone else? Do desperate times really call for desperate measures? For Kate they did and I enjoyed following her along in this journey. She’s a very flawed character, one that you even dislike for a few chapters, but she has such a tremendous heart, an independent mind, and has such a belief in true romance that you can’t help but root for her. What I like most about Kate is her determination.

I stomped away determined to prove that I could land in shit and come out smelling like a rose.” (107)

The Jane Austen Marriage Manual forced me to think about love, romance, and family relationships. How they’re displayed and depicted in movies and novels, and whether or not they can mirror real life. It’s so easy to get swept up in the kind of passion and grand gestures one sees and reads but, as the wise and handsome Griff states, “Love doesn’t have to be explosive twenty-four/seven. If you’d slow down long enough, you might be happy”.

Thank you to Kim Izzo for sending me this wonderful novel — I will definitely be following your writing, can’t wait for the next one!

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

Grand Romanitcal Gestures

Just for Fun
I know romantical isn’t a real word. What of it? 😛


So, yesterday I witnessed the cutest grand romantic gesture that I’ve seen since my brother-in-law proposed to my sister. A boy came into my work with a bouquet of pink roses to ask Dee to prom! He called my boss a few days earlier to get him to make her a pizza with “PROM?” written on it in ingredients. The kid’s face was all red and the entire staff was looking at them, even customers were getting teary-eyed – I was practically bawling.

Who knew that kids today had the capacity to pull off such things? No offense to boys today but I thought romance was long dead. I think this little scenario reaffirmed my faith in kids and allowed me to believe that it is possible for them to turn into ladies and gentlemen.

Sometimes life CAN be all rainbows and lollipops, enjoy it.

Hope you have a fantastic weekend!

Make it wonderful ❤

Love Always
Vanessa Xo