Review by Lunastella -- The Second Cup by Sarah Marie Graye

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Lunastella
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Latest Review: The Second Cup by Sarah Marie Graye

Review by Lunastella -- The Second Cup by Sarah Marie Graye

Post by Lunastella » 21 Jan 2019, 13:00

[Following is a volunteer review of "The Second Cup" by Sarah Marie Graye.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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Can someone else steal your suicide?

That's the catchphrase of The Second Cup by Sarah Marie Graye and it's, definitely, a powerful one. Faye, Beth, Olivia, and Abbie are best friends and as different as they can possibly be. Faye is an impetuous artist, Beth a conflicted control-freak, Olivia an insecure beauty and Abbie an apparently successful functioning alcoholic. They struggle with problems we can all relate to: men, work, personal insecurities. However, when Jack, Faye's ex-boyfriend dies, they'll be forced to face their pasts and their relationships: with others, within their friend group and with themselves.

This book has so many amazing assets that it's hard to name them all. Even when the catchphrase suggests otherwise this isn't a thriller but a very well-developed personal narrative. This is not to say that it lacks a mysterious element, but I think the focus of the book is getting into the mind and the hearts of four very different women. I appreciate personal narratives and I think they're often overlooked in favor of more sensational plots or highly complicated worlds.

The book approaches the subject of mental illness, which is in itself something to applaud, but the thing that I commend the most is that it does so without sensationalism and providing a much-needed insiders view, as well as some very powerful reflections about the world and the people that surround us. The author, herself, has struggled all her life with mental illness and wanted to:
“share my story not only to reach out to others who may feel the same, but also to try and explain how it feels.”
She, definitely, succeeded.

Another thing I loved about this book was the structure. In a very British fashion, the connecting thread of the story is tea and it holds several important symbolisms throughout the story. The chapters are named after tea-related items: teapots, teabags, teaspoons, teacups, and the author inserts small chapters where she talks about tea. This may seem totally out-of-place and as if it could interrupt the flow of the story but, trust me, it doesn't, and the symbolic meaning enriches the narrative very much. Also, in the end, instead of a typical epilogue, the author conducts an interview with each one of the main characters of the story. It's the cherry on top of a very well constructed cake and a very original ending. The Second Cup has many hidden meanings, among them the symbolism of the title and the cover art, and I had a great time unveiling them.

Even though this is personal narrative there's a lot going on at all times and a mystery to solve, so I think it won't be boring even for readers who prefer much more intrigue in their reads.

The characters are amazingly well-developed. They're multi-dimensional, flawed, human and highly relatable. They have very well thought backstories and they really seem to come to life. They evolve along the story. Faye, Olivia, Abbie or Beth could be your best friends, your sisters, you.

The book was very well edited and I could only find very few mistakes of little or no importance. The author asks the reader in a note to the reviewer to let her know if any words are not understandable because the book is written in British English and does contain some British slang. However, I didn't find it troublesome at all. Most words can be deduced by the context and they were very few ones that I had to look up.

The only drawback of the novel is that I had trouble distinguishing each woman's voice at first. The chapters are narrated both from each woman's perspective and from an omniscient one. But, in the beginning, all the four voices sounded the same to me and I had to go back and look to the title of the chapter to see who was talking. It's hard to create an individual voice for each character, but it would have made the story much more enjoyable and easy to read. As the book advances, you get much more sense of who's talking but it can get confusing at first.

I recommend this book for anyone interested in personal narratives, female perspective, mental illnesses and anyone who enjoys reading about everyday struggles. This book isn't the best suit for people who enjoy action-packed stories or fantasy reads, as it's highly realistic.

For its amazingly well-developed characters, meaningful topics, interesting symbolism, and original structure I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars.

******
The Second Cup
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Post by Shrabastee » 24 Jan 2019, 05:31

Excellent review, Andrea! The strong emotions are quite evident from the review. I felt so moved after reading it, I don't know how I will feel once I read the book itself. I cannot wait to find out more about the symbolism of tea. This is the first time I have heard about something like this.

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Post by Lunastella » 24 Jan 2019, 10:57

Shrabastee wrote:
24 Jan 2019, 05:31
Excellent review, Andrea! The strong emotions are quite evident from the review. I felt so moved after reading it, I don't know how I will feel once I read the book itself. I cannot wait to find out more about the symbolism of tea. This is the first time I have heard about something like this.
I'm glad I was able to convey all the emotions this book portrays. Thanks for your comment, I hope you enjoy it!

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Post by Cotwani » 29 Jan 2019, 00:31

Because I dont mind tea at all, I'm intrigued by this book whose chapters are named after tea-related items. I even see it in the title! I love solving mysteries and this one tucked in a well developed personal narrative sounds appealing. I bet the unique epilogue clears any confusion. Great review Andrea!
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Post by Lunastella » 29 Jan 2019, 20:39

Cotwani wrote:
29 Jan 2019, 00:31
Because I dont mind tea at all, I'm intrigued by this book whose chapters are named after tea-related items. I even see it in the title! I love solving mysteries and this one tucked in a well developed personal narrative sounds appealing. I bet the unique epilogue clears any confusion. Great review Andrea!
I think you'll enjoy it very much! I especially loved the epilogue and searching for all the hidden clues and meanings.
Thanks for your comment!

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Post by Kajori50 » 30 Jan 2019, 06:29

The book approaches the subject of mental illness, which is in itself something to applaud, but the thing that I commend the most is that it does so without sensationalism and providing a much-needed insiders view, as well as some very powerful reflections about the world and the people that surround us.
Mental illness is a very delicate subject. The way the author dealt with it is commendable.

Loved your review, Andrea. Thank you.

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Lunastella
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Post by Lunastella » 30 Jan 2019, 18:53

Kajori50 wrote:
30 Jan 2019, 06:29
The book approaches the subject of mental illness, which is in itself something to applaud, but the thing that I commend the most is that it does so without sensationalism and providing a much-needed insiders view, as well as some very powerful reflections about the world and the people that surround us.
Mental illness is a very delicate subject. The way the author dealt with it is commendable.

Loved your review, Andrea. Thank you.
Yes, it's hard to find books that approach mental illness in a comprehensive and sensitive way.
Thank you for your kind words.

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Post by Espie » 01 Feb 2019, 07:37

It may initially seem a bit heavy, but it's also an apparently enlightening and thought-provoking character-driven piece. Thank you for your equally insightful and thorough review.
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Post by Lunastella » 01 Feb 2019, 18:57

Espie wrote:
01 Feb 2019, 07:37
It may initially seem a bit heavy, but it's also an apparently enlightening and thought-provoking character-driven piece. Thank you for your equally insightful and thorough review.
It may appear this way, and it's definitely a thought-provoking book, but the mystery element, the relatable characters and the language used keep it quite "light" and engaging even if approaches some very important issues. Thank you for commenting, Espie.

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Post by Taylor Danvers » 04 Feb 2019, 18:10

Great review these four friends seem like they have a story I could relate to. Your review convinced me that it's worth a read
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Post by Sunnyroyish » 05 Feb 2019, 04:24

That catchphrase is really interesting. Stealing someone's suicide is really innovative. Though I don't hope to achieve that. The story seems to have a strong emotional aspect to it. Thabks for this great review. Hope to see more from you.
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Post by ButterscotchCherrie » 05 Feb 2019, 14:18

I am intrigued by this book now that I know the title refers to tea. I would also be interested to read about mental illness - it's important to get people's stories out there. Thank you for a review that sold the book to me!

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Post by ma_mon28 » 05 Feb 2019, 18:30

It sounds interesting. Nice review

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Post by Lunastella » 05 Feb 2019, 19:25

Sunnyroyish wrote:
05 Feb 2019, 04:24
That catchphrase is really interesting. Stealing someone's suicide is really innovative. Though I don't hope to achieve that. The story seems to have a strong emotional aspect to it. Thabks for this great review. Hope to see more from you.
It's really a great catchphrase! It's actually what got me interested in the book in the first place. Thank you, Sunny Roy

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Post by Lunastella » 05 Feb 2019, 19:28

ButterscotchCherrie wrote:
05 Feb 2019, 14:18
I am intrigued by this book now that I know the title refers to tea. I would also be interested to read about mental illness - it's important to get people's stories out there. Thank you for a review that sold the book to me!
It's quite amazing how the author explores all the meaning behind tea. I agree it's very important that we talk about mental illnesses, especially in a comprehensive and sensitive way. Hope you enjoy the book!

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