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Oh, hey there!! Let me apologize right off the bat, because the formatting in this post has me perplexed. I cannot fix, so bear with me.

It’s been a bit… I feel like I’ve been saying that a lot lately. Anyways, here we are, halfway through 2020. And let’s just all agree that this has been a rollercoaster of a year so far! I don’t think I need to go into specifics, as we are all in the same place. But one thing I know for sure, that the halfway point throughout the year always has me reflecting on my reading life. And this year I’ve read so many great books!!

Here’s why I think that’s been happening…

  • It could be the fact that there are great books being published.
  • I think I’ve gotten the science of picking books I really enjoy down.
  • I don’t waste time on books that don’t grab my attention.
  • Finding my book twins on IG, podcasts, and in real life. You know who you are, because I always tell you! So thank you for sharing great books with me 🙂
  • Mood reading. Current events, mindsets, and seasons… all these things go into considering what I want to read. Just because a book is a great book, doesn’t mean it’s a great book for the time you are in your life.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately:

The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead. (3.75 stars). There are two types of readers… one sees the Pulitzer Prize sticker on a book and picks up immediately, the other doesn’t even consider. This is definitely worth reading, and a very timely book at that. This novel follows Cora, a slave, who is trying to escape her master, and bounty hunter. Along this journey, Cora is helped by many people, and gets on a real Underground Railroad. Like there is literally tracks, stations, and what not all below the soil in which she is being hunted on. It really touches on the differences between States, and the experience of being a Black person in admist this horrifying time in history. There is a lot of abuse, and trauma, and it is a wonder that a human can persevere through it! And although this story was fantastic, Colson Whitehead’s writing is not my favourite style. But I know there are so many readers that sing his praises!
All Adults Here: A NovelAll Adults Here, by Emma Straub. (3.5 stars). If you are looking for a summer book that has some depth, I’d say this is a great, and quick read. You follow Astrid Strick, who is now a grandmother, mother, and widow. She witnesses a school bus accident, that results in the death of an acquaintance in her small town… this incident brings up a ton of old memories from when her children were growing up. From this event, the reader follows each member of the family and there individual lives problems. It’s a book that is all about family dynamics, and the drama that ensues within them. I really liked it, and found it to be a book that I could easily jump in and out of.

 

A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara. (5 Stars). Read this book. Holy smokes, I am still just so hungover from it. A Little Life follows four college classmates, Jude, Willem, Malcolm, and J.B., who have remained friends since they graduated. It follows their failures, their successes, addiction, and jealousies. The four men are all tied together by their loyalty to Jude, who had an awful childhood, but has always refused to speak about it. As they grow older, and their relationships change, as a reader, you feel some engrossed in their lives. This book had me weeping multiple times, and I know it will stay with me forever. It’s now one of my all-time favourites, and I will be recommending it for sure… to the right reader.

 

The Vanishing Half: A Novel
The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett. (4 stars). This is a very timely book right now, and also a much anticipated release after her last book The Mother’s. The Vanishing Half follows the Vignes twins who are light-skinned Black girls. They grew up in a small Black southern town, and at the age of 16 run away. After a couple years of trying to make it, the two are separated, and Desiree decides to go back to her hometown. Stella meets a White man, and decides to live a life as a White woman. The two grow up into women, and their different paths present different problems in their lives. They haven’t spoken, let alone even heard from each other in years… until their paths are forced to cross. I really enjoyed this book, Brit Bennett’s voice is being compared to Toni Morrison, and James Baldwin, and I just can’t wait until her next novel.

 

The Glass Hotel: A NovelThe Glass Hotel, by Emily St. John Mandel. (4.5 stars). Emily St. John Mandel also wrote the stunning novel, Station Eleven. So when I heard she was coming out with another one, I was excited. The premise of this novel is a Ponzi scheme gone wrong. It follows the lives of all the main players within this Ponzi scheme, and details the grey details, and the big repercussions that their lives had taken. The writing is absolutely magical. I was completely shocked that I cared so much about these characters, and was fascinated by the premise of just convinced humans can be of someone else’s good idea. I thought this book was fantastic, and it’s completely my kind of beach read… thought-provoking, thrilling, and a character study.

Nobody Will Tell You This But Me: A true (as told to me) storyNobody Will Tell You this But Me, by Bess Kalb. (5 stars). Okay, I can’t even write about this book without crying. First off, you must know just how special my Gramma Lisa is to me… so when I read this book it just brought up so many beautiful memories for me. I hope that you have a special grandmother in your life, and that this book brings up all the wonderful feelings it did for me. This is a memoir about the author’s relationship with her grandmother. She collected the stories, voicemails, and emails, and wrote a beautiful little book. I don’t even know where to begin with this one, but what I can say is it is truly a reflection on a beautiful life well-lived. There are sweet moments like putting on her grandmother’s lipstick and high heels, and then the next essay is about the things that were hard in her life. Buy it for your mother, your grandmother, but read it yourself first. My copy is marked up, dog-eared, and will be re-read for sure. I just LOVED it.

Saving Ruby King: A NovelSaving Ruby King, by Catherine Adel West. (4 stars). This is a debut novel, and it was captivating! It reminded a lot of a similar style as Brit Bennett. Ruby King’s mother, Alice, was found murdered in their home in Chicago’s South side. The police has just closed the case as another act of violence in a Black community. Now, Ruby is left with her abusive father, and the only support Ruby has is her best friend Layla. As Layla tries to save her, she finds out some secrets that have bound their families, and could lead to the collapse of her own prominent family. It is a novel with big themes such as race, deception, and faith. It’s an important story, wrapped up in a thrilling ride.

So that’s all for now. I’m so sorry that I’ve been slacking on the review department! Moving forward, I’m going to get them out a little quicker to you 🙂

What I’ve Been Reading

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Oh boy, where to begin. It’s been a very wild couple weeks. With the talks of re-opening things amid the Covid-19 Pandemic, and then with the Black Lives Matter Movement, I have felt a little bogged down in trying to understand, learn, and empathize. This has me doing a couple things… trying to get my hands on more books with Black authors, fiction and non-fiction, and also trying to open up discussions with people I see or talk to.  Obviously the latter comes with interesting dialogue, but I think these conversations are important.

I’ve always believed that books have the ability to open up minds to different races and cultures, and also start hard conversations. Learning how people live differently, and understanding what their cultural differences are is important. Below I’m sharing with you a couple links that I’ve found quite helpful to diversify my reading life.

Here’s what I’ve been reading lately:

A Good Neighborhood: A NovelA Good Neighbourhood, by Therese Anne Fowler. (5 stars). Well, this is a timely read. It’s the gripping story of two neighbours, who live in the idyllic community of Oak Knoll, North Carolina. They have very little in common, other than their property line, and both have teenage children. One, a rich White family, the other a single Black woman. When things get complicated between the families, all kinds of things become unearthed. Therese Anne Fowler admits in the beginning of this book that as a White woman, she had to do a lot of research to tell this story. She also recognized that it could seem problematic to tell this story. But, I think this is such an important story to read… especially right now. It investigates privilege, race, class, and the repercussions of decisions… and how that differs between races.

These Women: A Novel

These Women, by Ivy Pochoda. (3.75 stars). This is a really clever novel about a serial killer set in L.A. It’s structure is so different, and is told from the point of view of the killer’s victims. This killer is targeting women of colour, and who were working in circumstances that were deemed unsavoury. Ivy Pochoda has said she wanted to give a voice to the victims, instead of highlighting the killer… which is often the case.It is a really gritty story, and somewhat unclear of what the real story is…which I think is exactly what Pochoda wanted to convey. I think she wanted to highlight just how unjust the system can be when it’s victim’s aren’t White.

Half of a Yellow SunHalf of a Yellow Sun, by Chimanada Ngozi Adichie. (5 stars). This is a sweeping saga of a novel, set in Africa in the 1960’s during the tumultuous decade in which the Nigerian War happened. The story of this War is told through five different characters… twins, Olanna & Kainene, their significant others, and Ugwu, a houseboy of Olanna’s. To really capture this story will be hard, but Adichie really nails the fact just how a War really strips a nation, and the people of all they have. I had no clue about the Biafra Nigeran War, and I found the history of this fascinating. She also really investigates the unknowns, and the grief of losing someone, without ever really knowing if they are gone.

I Want You to Know We're Still Here: A Post-Holocaust MemoirI Want You to Know We’re Still Here, by Esther Safran Foer. (2.5 stars). I was intrigued to read this memoir because of the tagline. A Post Holocaust memoir. I always find it fascinating that most stories of the Holocaust, and Wars finish when those events had ended… and I always wonder how the victims can move forward. Well, this memoir really digs into that. I really found the premise fascinating, but I found her writing somewhat blah. Esther’s research on her family, and their history was quite in-depth and impressive… but I also had some mixed feelings on that, and just really felt a lot of empathy for the people who will really never know what had happened to their family members.

Mrs. Everything: A NovelMrs. Everything, by Jennifer Weiner. (4.5 stars). Oh man this book just hit me at the right place, and the right time. If Forrest Gump, and In Five Years had a baby… Mrs. Everything would be it. This book is a beautiful love story, and it’s the kind that makes you crave to love the ones in your life more fully. Jo and Bethie are sisters, and it starts at the beginning of their young lives in the ’50’s, and this is their coming-of-age story. They both settle into the roles they play in their family, and then real life things happen. As these sisters grow up and work through their problems, they are constantly switching roles, and needs. I loved how this book highlighted many big social justice movements, and also significant points in history. Hence why I had a Forrest Gump feel while reading it!

That’s all for today. I hope you wash your hands, be kind to one another, and read a book!

Last Week in Reading

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Hello friends!

How are you holding up these days? Better yet… how are you getting new reading material these days?? I thought I’d go over a couple things that have been saving my reading life lately.

I’ve been whipping out my e-reader a lot more these days, as my library, just like everyone else’s is closed. So I’ve been cruising the daily deals on BookBub, which has turned into a fun little routine. And also making good use of my library’s e-book catalogue. They use CloudLibrary, and the Kawartha Lakes Public Library has even started giving out electronic library cards for those who didn’t have one before. So if you don’t have a library card, check in with your local library and see if they offer something similar.

If you are lover of physical books, you can still purchase your books! I encourage you to check out the local bookstores and buy from them. Small businesses need all the support they can get these days, and by buying your books through them is a great way to do that. In my area, Hunter Street Books, and Kent Bookstore are both places you can still shop!

Lastly, I think this also a great time to pick up the unread books on your shelf. Or pick up an old favourite and give it a re-read. You have these books on your shelves for a reasons, and maybe a global pandemic was what you were waiting for. I know I’ve been tackling a lot of books of my unread shelf right now, and feeling like… why did I wait so long?!?!

Last Week in Reading

The Likeness: Dublin Murder Squad, Book 2

 

The Likeness, by Tana French. (5 stars). Here’s a readerly confession for you… this book has been on my shelf for 3 years! Just shy of 700 pages, I had put it off, because I need to be ready to commit to a big book like that. But I’ve been craving a literary thriller since I read Long Bright River. This book filled that void. I loved it so much, and for so many reasons. Cassie Maddox is a detective, and when she is called to a murder scene, it’s discovered that the body is her identical… and the body is also carrying her old undercover name as ID, Lexie. Cassie is then put into Lexie’s life undercover in hopes that she can find who the murderer is. Like I said, I LOVED this book. It’s smart, it’s literary, and told is a way that you just want to savour every word. I highly suggest it, and it’s very much based in the “big house thriller” genre. Tana French pays respect to Jane Eyre, and Rebecca-esque themes. This was fantastic, go pick it up. It’s also the 2nd in a series called the Dublin Murder Squad, and soon to be a BBC series!

What I Talk about When I Talk about Running: A Memoir 

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, by Haruki Murakami. (4.5 stars). This memoir was absolutely wonderful. It was about running, yes, but also much more about life as an introvert. You can understand probably why I loved it so much, because I can relate 100% to him. Haruki Murakami is a renowned author, who also runs, and  memoir is really just essays about the role running played in his life. I just loved it, and related to it so much. So many quotable sentences, but there were a couple that are now committed to my memory wholly. Running is an act that takes years of dedicated practice before it becomes a piece of you. For me, running is something that is so intrinsically motivated that if I don’t do it, I feel a void. I just love it…. but it’s not for everyone. And for this reason, I’m so glad that I’ve found something that I love to do that much. I’ll be happy if running and I can grow old together.

Well, that’s all for today. Stay home, and happy reading!

 

Last Week’s Reading Life

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This whole new way of living has forced me to do a couple new things. One being that I have to get my library books on my e-reader… I’ve been making great use of the CloudLibrary system that our library goes by. I’m not going to lie though, I do miss holding a real book every time I have to use my e-reader.

The other thing is that I’ve been doing is running more. Here’s why; my thoughts are a million miles a minute these days, and running has always been a great way to calm my brain. Secondly, running is about the only time that I can be alone right now. So, I’ve been hitting the road a little more often, and longer just to get away from my family!! Love them, but I’m a person who really enjoys my alone time. And that is not happening hardly at all right now… hence the long runs. What’s your go-to method of squeezing in some alone time right now? Post it in the comments, pretty please!

Anywho, I’ve got some book reviews from what I read last week. It’s a good mixture of genres, and hope you can find something that sparks your interest.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately

Such a Fun Age

Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid.  (4.5 stars). I had ben hearing the buzz about this book for awhile… but I’m that person who does not want to follow the crowd in any sense. Well, I should have just picked up this book up ages ago, because it was SO good. Here’s the set up: Emira is a twenty-five year old black woman living in Philadelphia. She is a babysitter for a wealthy white family. At the beginning of the book there is an incident at a grocery store in which Emira and the child are browsing, and Emira is accused of kidnaping the child. This incident is the centre of this story, opening up the reader to the themes of race, class, privilege, and memory. Not only was it unputdownable, but this book was very thought-provoking. But let me be clear, not one of these characters is likeable. They are very real, and transparent, and ALL the characters thoughts (good/bad) are exposed. I really liked it, and think it’s an important book.

How to Be Fine: What We Learned by Living by the Rules of 50 Self-Help BooksHow To Be Fine, by Jolenta Greenburg, and Kristen Meinzer. (3.5 stars). This book is written by the duo who host the podcast, By the Book. Essentially they live for 2 weeks by a specific self-help book, and review how it affected them. This was a really fun read, and I think it  explored the fact that self-help books ask you to subscribe to the author’s whole way of living… It’s ridiculous really. But taking little snippets from self-help books, and applying what works is the key to reading them. The other thing that these two really addressed was the issue of privilege in this genre. Most people who write a self-help book are in a position of privilege, whether it’s race, class, or gender. Now that I’ve said this, you will notice it more too! What is great about this book is you are getting a condensed look at the most helpful points of the books that they lived by.

You Are Not Alone: A NovelYou Are Not Alone, by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen. (2.5 stars). This thriller is a much anticipated one in the book world! This is the third novel written by these co-authors. Shay Miller is a bit of a loner, and also a data geek. She is headed to work, and about to get on the subway, and witnesses a suicide. She’s becomes obsessed with the victim, and goes to her memorial. Shay then meets the victim’s friends, Cassandra and Jane, and from here on out, Shay’s life changes as she slowly starts to take on the persona of the victim. Then it all starts to feel very confusing to Shay when her new found friends start ignoring her calls. This book was a fast, easy thriller. But it was just that, I found it lacked a lot of depth and was just throwing the plot twists around like crazy. Not my fav, many reader’s are loving it!

A Quote to Ponder

As I was saying earlier, running has really been quite therapeutic during this global pandemic. The roads are quiet, I’m alone, and it’s time for my brain to work out the kinks, and replace it with endorphins. Here’s a quote that just made me feel really seen. And I hope that you too have a way to escape into your own self right now.

All I do is keep on running in my cozy, homemade void, my own nostalgia silence. And this is a pretty wonderful thing. No matter what anybody else says.

– Haruki Murakami

Okay friends, that’s all for today. Stay safe, and keep reading!

 

 

 

What I’ve Been Reading, & Covid-19

 

Things are crazy right now. With the unsettling news of Covid-19 spreading like wild fire, staying home is the first thing we can do. Well… introverts everywhere are singing HALLEJEUH, AMEN!!!! But all jokes aside, this is such a terrifying time for us all.

In saying this, I believe it is our job to play an active role in the ways that we can. Check in with the elderly, family, and neighbours that surround you and see if they need some groceries dropped at their door. STAY HOME, only leave for essentials. Wash your hands. Focusing on doing the things that we can control is what is going flatten that curve, and make us feel more grounded.

Earlier this week I made a self/family care list. It’s pretty much a list of things that my family and I can do to make us feel less scared or alone while we are staying close to home. I’m going to share mine with you, because I hope it inspires you to make one for yourself!

  • Call/text/email family and friends. Talk to each other about all the things. If they are quarantined, offer to run an errand or grab some groceries for them.
  • Reading, journalling, and playing games with our kids! We’ve made a little family journal for this time, and are keeping track of what we are reading, and doing each day. Something fun to do, but also hopefully one day we can look back and remember this crazy time with some positive memories.
  • Movement. Whether we get outside to play, walk, do a yoga class on Youtube, or a home work out… movement is always a great way to burn off the extra cortisol that this prolonged season of stress and worry is causing.
  • Do a silly hobby that you usually don’t have any time for in your busy life. Whether it’s crafty, musical, writing, or whatever… allow yourself to get creative to help relieve some stress.
  • Early spring clean. The house is starting to already seem a little dirtier, and cramped… but a project can always be done!
  • Make some good food. How often do you say, “I don’t have time to cook”? Well, here’s your chance… clean out your freezer, cupboards, and get creative. And eat and drink slowly, there’s no hurry.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately:

Know My Name: A MemoirKnow My Name, by Chanel Miller.  This memoir should be required reading for all high school students, and adults. If you are familiar with the Stanford Brock Turner rape case, this is the victim, Chanel Miller’s memoir. It’s absolutely incredible about how an institution can fail a victim, but in the end it’s Chanel’s message that is incredible, and will make you really think about the fact that justice is never truly served. Crimes like these haunt a victim, their families, and the places they live forever. Please if anything, go read Chanel Miller’s victim impact statement. I’m linking it here.

Secret Lives of Mothers & Daughters: A NovelSecret Lives of Mothers and Daughters, by Anita Kushwaha.  I really loved this mother/daughter story, and was lucky enough to have the author send it to me! On Asha’s eighteenth birthday, her parents tell her that she was adopted and gave her a letter from her mother. Asha feels betrayed by her parents, but also very curious about who her mother was. She knows she passed away when Asha was a new baby, and her father was forced to put her up for adoption. From here the family secrets unravel as Asha chases the story of her birth mother and father. This book is SO good, and there is a massive plot twist too that had me with my mouth agape!

Saint X: A Novel

Saint X, by Alexis Schaitkin.   The description of this book hooked me immediately. Claire, a seven year old girl, and her family are in Saint Kitts for a resort vacation. Then, her sister, Allison is murdered. Flash forward over 15 years later, after her family has closed that terrible chapter, Claire jumps into a cab… and the cab driver was the accused murderer of her sister. From here, it jumps back and forth in the timeline, and Claire obsessively pieces of the murder together. I would describe this as a character driven thriller… so page turning, it is not, but it is beautifully written, and the plot slowly builds to a resolution.

The Jetsetters: A NovelThe Jetsetters, by Amanda Eyre Ward. I LOVED this book. Honestly, time’s are tough right now. With the social distancing, and travel bans… this book is an absolutely perfect way to armchair travel. It is the story of a mother, and her grown up children who have definitely fallen out of touch, and then Charlotte, the mother, wins a Mediterrean cruise… and takes her children with her! The cover of this book may seem light, but it’s not. There are heavy themes, family dysfunction, all while being incredibly readable. I highly recommend this one.

A Quote to Ponder:

I’m going to share a little part of Chanel Miller’s victim impact statement with you. And I hope this little portion pushes you to go read the whole thing here.

And finally, to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you.

Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom

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Tuesdays with Morrie has been in my personal library for over 8 years. I picked it up at a Millbrook Library sale, and it has moved from about 5 different places with me… just waiting for one day to be read. This is also one of my brother’s most favourite books… and one of the few he has read. So I knew that one day I would get around to it. Then I was recently pushed to read it when I heard my mother-in-law gushing about how much she loves Mitch Albom’s writing.

Tuesdays with Morrie is one of those books that I feel like I don’t need to give you a synopsis, but I will give you a quick one anyways. Morrie was Mitch’s professor. He had a massive impact on Mitch’s life as a student, and even though he promised to keep in touch with him, he slowly found himself away from him. Until one day, Morrie was on Mitch’s television screen, describing what it was like to have the diagnosis of ALS and the impact it was having on his family’s, and own life. Well this was the push for Mitch to get back in touch with Morrie. So every Tuesday the two got together to discuss life, and the lessons that Morrie could share with him.

Oh man, why I waited over 8 years to read this book, I don’t know. But let’s call it bookish serendipity, because this book really aligns with the person I’m trying to become. This year I had quietly decided that I need to listen better, and to be a more considerate, compassionate person. I had decided that it starts with the small things, and to ask questions, and be interested in someone’s answers. The reason for this was so my children can learn through example. So they are aware of the impact they make on the environment, and people that surround them. Well, this book just reinforced my reasoning to do this.

Morrie was an incredible life force. As his body was failing, and fading, he implored Mitch to challenge his beliefs, and the societal pressures. The one thing that stood out to me the most when was when Mitch described Morrie as someone who had so much vigor. He laughed hard, he ate fast and plentiful, and he danced his ass off. And this, this is something that I can subscribe to. Slowly over time, the disease stole his vigor, but he tried to capitalize every minute he had.

He challenged Mitch to think about the role that his job was playing in his life, and the way that he found satisfaction. And this was just everything I’ve been feeling lately. Why do we feel the need to run the rat race? To have all the material things, but to have to work endlessly to have them? Also, to unplug from the distractions and to plug into the moment.

God, I loved this book, and I have dog-eared and underlined an insane amount in these pages. I hope that if you haven’t read it, you will pick it up now. Or if you have read it, but a long time ago… take some time to re-read it, because I think we all need to hear what Morrie has to say.

That’s all for today, Happy Saturday!

What I’ve Been Reading Lately

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Hello bookish friends!

February has now come to a close, and it wasn’t the best reading month for me… but I still finished and read some fantastic books. Meanwhile in my personal life we had a fantastic family vacay to Florida that was much needed. We had so much fun, and are now back at the daily grind… and a whole lot of snow. I have some more thoughts and tips to share in a different post about reading and running while travelling!

What I’ve Been Reading Lately:

Station ElevenStation Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel. (4.5 stars). To be real with you, when I finished this novel I thought… how do so many people rave about this book? But like the virus that spreads in the novel, you are slowly infected with the beautiful storytelling. It’s the quiet, dark tale of a what happens after a pandemic breaks out, and what becomes of humanity. I found myself looking around busy shopping malls/stores wondering what it would be like if none of this existed anymore. I loved her use of Shakespeare in this novel, and the parallels that his work and a pandemic have. I’m sure I will continue to think about this one for a long time… and also the odd timing that I decided to pick it up.

The Dry: A NovelThe Dry, by Jane Harper. (4 stars). When the community of Kiewarra, Australia, is in the worst drought they’ve experienced in a century, a local family are found brutally murdered… with the exception of the 1 year old daughter who was found crying in her crib. Aaron Falk (Federal Police Investigator) reluctantly returns home to the funeral of his brutally murdered friend, and is then thrown into an investigation into the deaths of the family. Jane Harper builds an unbearably hot, suffocating environment for this literary mystery. It slowly gains speeds, just like a wildfire, with a page-flipping ending.

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own PersonYear of Yes, by Shonda Rhimes. (3.5 stars). This a memoir written by television’s superhero writer, Shonda Rhimes. This “Year of Yes” all started when one of Shonda’s sisters had complained that she always says no. Shonda was overweight, an extreme introvert, and just going to work, and coming back home each day. After she started this project, she had changed her life. I really enjoyed this memoir, although at times it felt unrelatable… like interviews with Kimmel and Oprah. But by the end it had me crying, and realizing that perhaps I need to start saying YES to more things. My main complaint about this book is her writing style felt like I was having a conversation with an millennial, and I felt like a lot of sentences were unimportant.

A Curse So Dark and LonelyA Curse so Dark and Lonely, by Brigid Kemmerer. (4 stars). I bought this book when I had heard that the main character had Cerebral Palsy. Because I have a son who has a similar CP diagnosis as the main character, I knew I needed this one on my shelf. It’s a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast, but has a kick-ass heroine, who doesn’t let CP slow her down. I really loved this book, and am so glad to have this book on my shelves… hoping that one day my son and I can read this together, and just like the kick ass heroine, he will know how strong and capable his body is. I will be picking up the 2nd book in the series, A Heart So Fierce and Broken, ASAP!

Okay, that’s all for today friends!

Happy Sunday,  I hope you are snowed in, and enjoying some reading today!

What I’ve been Reading Lately

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It’s been awhile! Between trip planning, and busy days, I’ve made loads of time to read… but writing about what I’m reading was put on the back burner. So today I am coming at you with 6 book reviews. All very different, and most of them were fantastic! A little bit of a caution… my star ratings are in no way indicative of whether the novel was great, but has everything to do with how much I liked them. So I suggest reading the quick summary, and see if the content interests you. What I hope is that you can find the right book to hit you at the right time!

What I’ve been Reading Lately:

Five Wives: A Novel

Five Wives, by Joan Thomas. (3.5 stars). This novel had so much potential to be a perfect fit for me. And it was a fascinating story, but the writing style did not jive with my brain. This is based on the true story of five Christian missionaries and their families who travelled to Ecuador to convert the Waorian people in 1956. This mission went horribly wrong, ending in a massacre. The novel investigates some pretty big issues, and begs the reader’s consideration on the complications of pushing one’s beliefs onto another. Or a whole culture. When I think more about this novel, I am struck with the fact that Thomas wrote it in such a non-judgemental way, and was able to tell many sides to this story.

Inside Out: A Memoir

Inside Out, by Demi Moore. (4.5 stars). When I heard that Demi Moore was coming out with a memoir, with Ariel Levy as the ghost writer… I was in. I requested my library purchase this book, and lo and behold they did! This is your basic celebrity tell-all type of memoir… but with Levy’s writing it is absolutely unputdownable. I thought it was fantastic, with some dirty details into her marriages, and relationships. Told in a classic coming of age way, you are immediately sucked in. My favourite part was when she talked about her training for G.I. Jane… one thing is for sure that Moore is committed to work, even if it took away from her personal life.

The Wives: A Novel

The Wives, by Tarryn Fisher. (3 stars). For the first 2/3 of this novel, I really loved it. It’s premise was fantastic, and told in a thrilling psychologically twisty way. But the last 1/3 fell kind of flat for me, I found myself going WHAT?!? I’m confused. But, I will say, many people are raving about this one! So maybe it’s just me. The premise is, Thursday is married to Seth… who has two other wives. She’s never met them, but she has settled into this agreement with him. She’s madly in love with him, to the point of obsession. Then one day she finds some evidence of one of the other wives, and finds out something shockingly different than the man she married. Now, Thursday finds herself hunting and searching for answers.

The World That We Knew: A NovelThe World that We Knew, by Alice Hoffman. (5 stars). Set during WWII in Berlin, Hanni starts to hear the horrors that are happening to her people. She decides to sent her daughter, Lea, away in hopes that she can run and survive the Nazi regime. Hanni finds a rabbi who creates a golem, a mystical creature made of clay, to protect Lea. Once this golem has been brought to life she looks like a person, with extraordinary powers. Her one job is to protect Lea and help her survive the war. This is a fascinating story, told during a horrific time. Hoffman’s use of magical realism completely transformed this story, and there is a sort of glittery, fairy tale element to this novel. I adored it, and highly recommend it!

The Family Upstairs: A Novel

The Family Upstairs, by Lisa Jewell. (3.5 stars). I have just loved the last two novels by Jewell, but this one was great until the last 1/4. On her 25th birthday, Libby has come home from work to find a letter that she thinks will change her life. This letter has the names of her birth parents, and also the news that she is inheriting their abandoned mansion in London’s highly esteemed area, Chelsea… worth millions. But it all gets very dark, very fast, as she learns the truth of her parents, and siblings. Like I said, it was a pretty good story, with a driving plot, but the ending was somewhat blah.

The Dearly Beloved: A Novel
The Dearly Beloved, by Cara Wall. (5 stars). This novel was as gorgeous on the inside as the cover on the outside is. When Charles and James are hired together to steward the Third Presbyterian Church in New York, they are as opposite as can be… and expected to work together as a team to help the Church through a turbulent time. Together, with their wives, they navigate through personal and work struggles. It’s a beautiful life story of two families learning to accept their differences in many areas, and also learn how to support each other. I thought it was just such a beautiful story, and told in a way that made this character-driven novel exciting. Highly suggest this one!

A Quote to Ponder:

I’m going to leave you with a quote from the end of Demi Moore’s book that I just loved. I actually read it a couple times, and looked around at my house, and my life… and thought I too belong here.

I belong. Here. In myself. In this house. On this planet. I’m in my mid-50s now, I’ve outlived both of my parents, I know that what I walked through was a lot, especially coming from where I came from. The truth is, the only way out is in.

Anywho friends, that’s all for today! I hope you have found something in here that you can get your hands on & get some great reading in.

What I’ve Been Reading

Jan 21 reviews 2020

January has been a good reading month for me! Not only have I been reading lots, but for some reason, I’ve been reading lots of great books. Hence the reason that I’m doing a quick lit review for you… I just couldn’t keep up with the longer reviews over the past week. Anyhow, below I’ve got some great book reviews spanning a bunch of different genres. I think that you may be able to find something that you will want to read!

What I’ve Been Reading

The Innocents

The Innocents, by Michael Crummey. (5 stars). When a bookish mentor suggests you read something, you just do. This book is an incredible story of survival based in 1800’s on the Newfoundland coast. A brother and sister are orphaned at a young age, and left with the struggle of surviving this harsh landscape. They have to confront the lack of just about everything, and the two are also tested by their loyalty to each other. The writing is incredible, and the story will have you hooked… although some of the subject matter had me grimacing quite a bit!

Regretting YouRegretting You, by Colleen Hoover. (4 stars) Sometimes your palate just needs a cleanse, so I decided to pick up this one based on it’s lighter cover. Ooph, was I wrong… but I loved it. Regretting You is a mother/daughter story, in which the two are struck by a family disaster. This story is a little bit of a love story, a family story, and a struggle with grief. As their grief is deepening, their once close relationship seems to be pushed further apart. It’s their journey back to each other. I really loved this story, and even though the writing seems somewhat light, it is actually quite heavy. I recommend this one for sure. And now I’ve put a lot of Colleen Hoover’s backlist on hold at the library!

Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and MeWild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me, by Adrienne Brodeur. (4.5 stars). Well, the subtitle of this memoir made me go hmmmm. Adrienne was woken up at 14 years old in the middle of the night by her mother, who was hosting a dinner party with their families closest friend. Her mother tells her that Ben (her husband’s best friend) kissed her. And then you follow the story of an affair, and the destruction of trust and relationships. Although this sounds depressing, Brodeur’s writing is as delicious as her food descriptions throughout the book. This memoir is intriguing, especially as a mother, to see from the outside how complex mother/daughter relationships can be. Highly suggest this one, and would love to hear from you if you’ve read it!

The Turn of the KeyThe Turn of the Key, by Ruth Ware. (4.5 stars). Oh man, I’ve had my little bookish nose up in the air, and been avoiding reading what I thought was just commercial mystery fiction. Well this story is engrossing, and unputdownable. It reminded me so much of Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier (which is one of my favourite books of all time)… Just a big old, beautiful, haunted house!! Rowan is down on her luck, and stumbles upon a great live-in nanny job for four children in remote Scotland. After she’s applied, and aced her interview… she thinks she’s landed the dream job. Until the ghosts of this big old house start playing tricks on her… and when someone dies it’s all goes horribly wrong.

A Quote to Ponder:

I’m going to leave you with a quote that’s from Wild Game. I’ve heard this quote before, but when it marked the beginning of a chapter in this book I was reminded of just how true it is. Hindsight really is 20-20.

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.

—Søren Kierkegaard

From the Ashes, by Jesse Thistle

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Sometimes when you get a book recommendation, you make a note, you forget about it. Other times, you look it up and decide to pick it up immediately. The latter is how I stumbled upon From the Ashes. When I looked up this book, and found out he was an assistant professor at York University in Toronto, who had struggled through homelessness and addiction… I was really intrigued. Turns out Jesse Thistle not only has an inspiring story, but he is one heck of a storyteller as well.

Jesse Thistle was only a toddler when he and his two brothers were abandoned by their parents. After a brief stint in the foster care system, their father’s parents decided to take them in. His grandparents believed in hard love, and Jesse rebelled. Finding himself in a self-destructive cycle of theft, drugs, alcohol, and then eventually homelessness. His family had tried to help him, but were unsuccessful in their attempts. Eventually Jesse found the will to try to live. This is his incredibly raw story as he came to terms with the truth of his parents, his own self, and finding his way back to honouring his Indigenous culture.

From the dedication of From the Ashes, I knew I was going to be riveted by Jesse’s story. He starts off by dedicating this book to the families whose loved ones are taken, or disappeared, or lost to them. Those forever watching for their loved one to return home. I watch and wait with you. This is just a little excerpt from the dedication, as it’s almost a whole page, and completely worth reading a couple times. To be abandoned at such a young age is just awful. You see through Jesse’s eyes that for such a long time he idolized his parents, regardless of being abandoned. Over time, he began to realize the truth, and learned to bury that hurt and resentment deep.

This book was born from when Jesse was in recovery while in the 12 step program. Step 4 involves writing out your traumatic memories, so Jesse started. It blossomed into a blog, then ultimately he was approached by Simon and Schuster. Because of the way it became, this book feel so genuine. It is far from a self-righteous memoir, and almost condemning in ways. Each chapter opens with poetry that he has written, it is almost like a prelude to the longer story in which will come in the chapter after.

One really powerful thing about Jesse’s story is the way his family continually tried to help him. Lost deep within his addiction, Jesse can’t really see how much they want him to find his way back. Eventually he finally decides he’s ready. And what he finds is that his family who had shut him out over the course of his addiction and homelessness, were opening their doors to him. One being Lucie. She starts off in this book as a childhood crush, and then eventually becomes Jesse’s wife. Her selfless love, and willingness to help, teaches Jesse to learn to let love in and trust it. Because of his support system, he believes he can rise up from the ashes and he gains a University degree. He learns about his Indigenous roots, and now has become an advocate for the homeless, and working on a PhD studying the intergenerational and historic trauma of the Métis people.

Okay, okay, I can take a hint. You’re probably sick of me raving about this book… but this is a MUST read. It’s written in such a way that will have you turning pages so fast, and appreciating the beautiful way it’s been written and compiled.

Until next time, happy reading!