Alcohol & Advil: Did You Ever Have A Family & The Royal We

October 8, 2015 Mini Book Reviews 39


Alcohol and Advil Literary Style

Welcome to my new feature, Alcohol & Advil (many thanks to my good friend, Barrett, for thinking up this catchy name), where I’ll pair a book likely to cause a “reading hangover” (i.e. the alcohol) with a recovery book (i.e. the Advil)!

For me, the “alcohol” is usually books that I either absolutely loved or books that punched me in the gut in an emotionally depleting way (and sometimes both!). I’ve had two book hangovers so far this year (caused by My Sunshine Away and A Little Life) and, in both cases, I didn’t choose the appropriate “Advil”. But, the third time’s the charm…

The Alcohol

Did You Ever Have A Family, Bill CleggDid You Ever Have A Family by Bill Clegg
Fiction (Released September 8, 2015)
304 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Purchased

Plot Summary: The story of June Reid, who loses her entire family (her daughter and her fiancee, her boyfriend, and her ex-husband) in a horrible tragedy on the night before her daughter’s wedding.

My Thoughts: The hype (both from bloggers and awards committees) surrounding Clegg’s debut novel made me nervous to read it…but, it surpassed all my expectations! Did You Ever Have A Family is a mostly character-driven story about family (obviously), small-town life, prejudice, parent/child relationships, grief, heartache, and regret.

Clegg’s ability to draw me into the story emotionally was what really made me love this book. I cared deeply about what had happened to these people and how they’d ended up in such a tragic place. Clegg reveals the family’s backstory and the aftermath of the tragedy in drips and drabs, causing my heart to break a little more each time a new tidbit is added to the mix. I’d even venture to say that I was as emotionally invested as I was in A Little Life, and that’s saying something. 

This is only the third book this year that’s given me a “book hangover” and I feel confident it will be one of my favorites of 2015. I’m also adding it to my Book Club Recommendations List.

The Advil

The Royal We, Heather Cocks and Jessica MorganThe Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
Fiction (Released April 7, 2015)
465 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Purchased

Plot Summary: Inspired by the real life courtship of Prince William and Kate Middleton, American Rebecca “Bex” Porter embarks on a relationship with Prince Nicholas after meeting at Oxford.

My Thoughts: I’d heard this novel was a fun read from both bloggers and real life friends alike. So, when I was wallowing in my Did You Ever Have A Family hangover and saw The Royal We pop up as a $3.99 Kindle deal, I pounced.

It’s fun, cheeky, and romantic (but not overly cheesy)! It pokes fun at the idiosyncrasies of the British monarchy (I love any book that refers to the fictional Prince Charles as a “douchelord”…who knew he had so much in common with Scott Disick?!), but it’s equally heartfelt about the emotions that go along with existing in a gilded royal cage.

I loved seeing the behind-the-scenes rigamarole that an incoming member of the royal family goes through to be appropriately trained for duty. Obviously, who knows how much of what happened to the fictional Bex is actually true, but speculating is half the fun. Some elements of the novel obviously depart from real life (i.e. Bex is American and she and her sister, Lacey, are twins), others mimic reality, and some are tantalizing mysteries. The Royal We is a great choice if you’re looking for something light…be it a recovery book or a beach read.

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39 Responses to “Alcohol & Advil: Did You Ever Have A Family & The Royal We”

    • admin

      Thank you! They were such a great back to back pairing for me that I DNF’d the next 2 books I tried…ha! Now Missoula has me back on track.

    • admin

      Thank you! Oooh – a chaser…I love that term! Another name for this could have been “A Shot and A Chaser”! Mine for My Sunshine Away was A Small Indiscretion and it definitely didn’t cut it. I highly recommend Did You Ever Have A Family!

  1. Carmen

    I love the new section and the recommendations. Thank goodness the hype for Did You Ever Have a Family was justified. I’m going to add it to my reading list.

    • admin

      Thanks so much and I was super nervous that it would fall short – disaster averted!

  2. JoAnn @ Lakeside Musing

    Great name, great feature!!

    The worst hangover book for me was We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas, which I read about a year ago. The follow-up/advil was The Storied Life of AJ Fikry – did not love it, but it was a change of pace. Still Alice was pretty devastating, too. Can’t recall what came next though.

    • admin

      Thank you! We Are Not Ourselves was definitely a hangover book, but I read it last year before I’d really understood what reading hangovers were or recognized one in myself! I bet Still Alice was devastating given the topic.

  3. MaryBeth

    GREAT idea. I always felt sorry for the “advil” books, but they clearly serve their purpose! 🙂

    • admin

      Thank you 🙂 Haha – I do think it can come across as a bit of a putdown when a book is referred to as “light”, but I think there is definitely a time and a place for light books!

  4. Tara @ Running 'N' Reading

    SO CUTE! I love this feature, Sarah; well done! I am very, very excited to read Did You Ever Have a Family (as soon as it’s my turn at the library!), so I’ll have to make sure I have the Advil ready to go – ha!

    • admin

      Thank you 🙂 And – I hope you get it soon, it’s SO good! And definitely have your Advil ready…The Gates of Evangeline might be a good one!

      • Naomi

        If I name a book that has given me a hangover, could you find a cure for me? I would have named one, except I can’t think of one that has given me a hangover that I haven’t shaken yet. But, it could happen again any time… 🙂

  5. Amanda

    I love this feature! I really need to get Did You Ever Have a Family on my library list – and will have to think of a chaser of my own since I’ve read (and loved) the Royal We.

    • admin

      Thanks! And oh no – we’ll have to find you another one! Maybe The Gates of Evangeline? Or something by Beatriz Williams?

      • Amanda

        Oh I haven’t read the Gates of Evangeline, I will check that out. I also need to read the newest Beatriz Williams!

  6. LuAnn Braley

    My ‘hangover reads’ are usually ones I cannot read straight through. I have to take breaks every couple of chapters because they are so emotional, or terrifying in an evil kind of a way.

    My go-to advil reads are cozy mysteries.

    Both of the books here look right up my alley! :O)

    • admin

      Haha – yep, that would be A Little Life for me! Glad you have some go-to Advil reads! I loved both these books for different reasons..definitely recommend them!

  7. Kathy @ Kathy Reads Fiction

    I love this post AND the catchy title. I’m number 13 of 15 in the queue for Did You Ever Have a Family, checking the library daily to see if my hold is ready. lol I still have My Sunshine Away on my Kindle to read at some point. I just found another book I didn’t even realize I had bought last August. Such is my one-clicker-trigger-finger. *sigh*

    • admin

      Thank you – and I’ll pass it along to my buddy who thought up the title as well! 13 of 15?! Ugh – they need to move you up fast! And I highly recommend My Sunshine Away…was my first 5 star read of the year. And- kind of fun finding books you forgot you’d bought!

  8. Diane

    Sounds like a fun feature. I had the same issue after A Little Life and ended up finally reading a NF to get me out of my slump.

    • admin

      I definitely had a hangover after A Little Life, but I hadn’t yet learned to recognize them and choose my next book carefully! I think nonfiction would be a great recovery choice from emotionally gut-wrenching fiction…as long as the nonfiction was not also gut-wrenching!

  9. susan

    I usually love all the books you like but for whatever reason I didn’t really dig Did You Ever Have a Family. It came after loving Station Eleven right before, which blew it out of the water, ha. Anyways, I think The Royal We sounds fun, and the “douchelord” is hysterical.

  10. Eva @ The Paperback Princess

    I LOVED The Royal We. I’m glad that it was the perfect advil to combat the effects of Did You Ever Have a Family. I’m SO torn about reading it – I’m scared to have my heartbroken but I don’t like missing out on these books.

    • admin

      It was the perfect fun read following Did You Ever Have A Family! And – Family is definitely sad, but I absolutely loved it and it’s a contender for one of my faves of the year. So much good stuff in that book if you don’t mind getting emotionally involved.

  11. Catherine

    I love this! And I love that you started with two books that we are (once again) in complete agreement on. I’m grateful to you and Shannon for steering me towards The Royal We because somehow it slipped under my radar and it was the perfect antidote for the reading blues. The only problem is I’m ready for a sequel!

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