Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens

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Yet again, I had held off on a book because of the “hype” that surrounded it. Oopsy poopsy, I missed out for awhile… but so glad I picked it up, because I loved Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens. And holy smokes, if you’ve read this one, you will understand why I say that I’m shocked that this was a debut novel!

Barkley Cove has had the mysterious “Marsh Girl” always zipping in and out of town without saying a word. But after many years of this town wondering her story, the handsome, town hero, Chase Andrews is found dead. The “Marsh Girl”, Kya Clark, is the immediate suspect… because there were rumours swirling around about their odd friendship/relationship. Having a tumultuous upbringing, or lack there of one, Kya has survived alone for years in the marsh and has a hard time with human contact. But as she grew up, she became quite the “looker”, and had the interest of two boys from town. When she is torn between the two of them is where the plot gets interesting.

This is a genre-crossing novel, combining mystery, romance, family drama… you think of it and you may find it in here! It’s also a coming of age story of Kya Clark, who at a young age is abandoned, and learns to survive and thrive off the Marsh. As she grows older her interest in the Marsh, and biology eventually flourishes into something worth all the time she has invested in it. Really, the Marsh was her playground as a child, and this novel is an ode to the wonders of wildlife within it. Then, when you least expect it you are thrusted into the solving of a crime.

Autumn leaves don’t fall; they fly. They take their time and wander on this, their only chance to soar. Reflecting sunlight, they swirled and sailed and fluttered on the wind drafts.

What this novel does a great job of is having you flipping the chapters quite quickly. It had me on the age of my seat, but I had to remind myself to slow down and enjoy the beautiful prose that Delia Owen had constructed for the reader. Owen has reminded us of our own childhood, and how we continue to see the place we grew up in, and the magic it holds.

Like I said earlier, Where the Crawdads Sing is a little bit of everything, and I think a wonderful novel that many people will love as much as I did.

Until next time, Happy Friday & here’s to hoping you get lots of reading in this weekend!

 

 

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Starring as Sally J. Freedman as Herself, by Judy Blume

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I’ve been listening to a great new podcast called 10 Things to Tell You, and the host, Laura Tremaine, did a whole episode dedicated to her favourite Judy Blume books. Her taste in books is really similar to mine, so when she said that Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself was her favourite Blume book of all time, I decided to read it.

Meet Sally J. Freedman. She’s a ten-year-old girl, who is very imaginative, and her family has just moved to Miami Beach for the winter since her older brother had an illness. It’s post World War II, and Sally’s family is Jewish. Being extremely imaginative, Sally has dealt with the aftermath of the War through writing, games, and telling stories. It’s really a coming of age story, about a girl who deals with sibling rivalry, bullies, friendship, and interpreting her parents problems.

Let’s get this straight, this definitely a YA novel. I used to be so opposed to reading YA novels, until I realized that they tackled big topics in such a readable way. It gives me a little bit of a vibe of Anne of Green Gables in the ’50’s. You just fall in love with Sally, and the way she sees the world. Although there really isn’t a plot in this book, it’s the stories of what happens in childhood that make you feel nostalgic, and keeps you so entertaining. There is this really delightful way that Sally is dealing with the way that her family had been affected in Europe by the concentrations camps, and Hitler. Sally’s dealt with heavy material by imagining she is the hero, and trying to save her family!

This is a really great story, and I had been reading several really heavy novels… I was in need of a story that just felt really fun to read. Do you ever feel like that?? Sometimes I just need to read something that makes me remember why I love to read again… and this type of book always snaps me around.

Now I’m off to write a review about the next book I read… which had a ton of hype, and of course, I was holding off on reading it… BUT it was fantastic!

Until next time, happy reading!

 

Daisy Jones and the Six, by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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If there was a soundtrack that I could say would be on in the background of my whole life, it would be Rumours, by Fleetwood Mac. My mom being a super fan, would turn up the volume real loud, and we would sing along to Dreams, and the soulful voice of Stevie Nicks. At the time, I would slightly roll my eyes… all while I slowly fell in love with Stevie’s voice. Now as a mom myself, I turn back to the Rumours album every time I’m pregnant for some reason. Then, when my babies are tired, I always sing them these songs.

So let’s just say when I found out one of my fav authors, Taylor Jenkins Reid, was writing a book about a band whose history resembled Fleetwood Mac’s…  I more than excited. I bought this book ASAP, and tore through it recently on a trip to Mont Tremblant with my family. Here’s my suggestion… put on some Fleetwood Mac Essentials, pour yourself a cup of something real strong, and dive into this book all about love, sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll.

We write songs about women. Women will crush you, you know. I suppose everybody hurts everybody, but women always seem to get back up. You ever notice that? Women are always still standing.

Daisy Jones & The Six, is a the “it” band. Every woman wants to be Daisy Jones, and also sleep with the men of the band. But when the band splits at the height of their popularity, their fans are speechless and confused. Daisy is a girl who grew up in late 1960’s L.A., she’s living on the wild side, sneaking into clubs, sleeping with rock stars, and singing in a band. The Six is a band whose frontman, Billy Dunne, has built and cultivated each song. Billy is married, and a father, whose past has been a philandering, drunk. While their popularity is on the rise, The Six, decide they need to have a female voice on a certain song. Enter Daisy. The band, and Daisy, has incredible chemistry, and they decide they need Daisy in the band. All this chemistry between the two lead singers can only end up with a couple alternative endings…

God, this book is definitely going to be on my Best of 2019. If it’s not the best one… it will be a close second. First of, the way she has formatted this book is like an oral history. There is an unknown narrator, who is interviewing each member of the band. Then, let’s talk about Daisy. She’s everything. She’s so talented, so beautiful, and so damn tragic with her drugs and alcohol addiction. Sound familiar?? She embodies Stevie Nicks for sure, and I’m completely obsessed with it. Then you have the love triangles, and relationships. It’s just an addictive, incredibly creative novel. GO READ IT!

I had absolutely no interest in being somebody else’s muse.
I am not a muse.
I am the somebody.
End of fucking story.

Immediately upon finishing this novel, I put Gold Dust Woman, a Stevie Nicks biography on hold. I’m afraid my friends, I’m entering a period of time that I will become obsessed with each member of Fleetwood Mac.

Lastly, if you loved this novel, guess what? It’s going to be adapted to television. Thank god, because we all need a little more of Daisy Jones and The Six.

Until next time, happy reading!

 

Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah

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Let me begin by saying, when I started this book I had heard of Trevor Noah’s name, but never listened to any of his content. I knew he was a comedian, but nothing more. After reading Born a Crime, I now know Trevor Noah is so much more than a comedian.

Born a Crime is Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa, in which he was literally born a crime. His mother being a black Xhosa woman, and his father a white Swiss man, meant his birth was punishable by five years in prison in his parents were caught. Noah tells the story of his childhood through eighteen personal essays in which he transforms from a wild, mischievous kid, to an ambitious, and ultimately successful man. His transformation was based around the relationship he had with his mother, or as he calls her, his teammate. She was the one who was determined to save his life, and for his life to have a bigger meaning.

The genius of apartheid was convincing people who were the overwhelming majority to turn on each other. Apart hate, is what it was. You separate people into groups and make them hate one another so you can run them all.

This memoir is a funny a lot of the times, sad at moments, and most of all makes you want to give your momma a hug. Trevor Noah has written a memoir about the stark realness of apartheid South Africa. One of the reviews that I read about it, was that this was essentially a love letter to his mother. And it is just that. It is the story of a boy whose mother stood up against the tidal wave of racism brought to a country, and decided to raise a child that would overcome it.

“Learn from your past and be better because of your past,” she would say, “but don’t cry about your past. Life is full of pain. Let the pain sharpen you, but don’t hold on to it. Don’t be bitter.”

There are essays in Born a Crime, that are absolutely, pee your pants funny. He has you killing yourself laughing into the spine of the book. This is definitely a necessary part of the story, because you are really hit with the fact that this country was torn apart from apartheid, and just how lucky we are in our country. Whether it’s the food on your table, the education you receive, or the safety you have in your home… this was not Trevor’s upbringing. But what he did have was a mother whom would do anything to propel him forward. The ending of this novel, left me feeling gutted and crying. 

The world needs this memoir, and also Trevor Noah. He’s exactly the type of person we need as role models in the world. Lastly, go listen to Oprah’s episode of Super Soul Sunday with Trevor Noah. It’s also brilliant, and funny.

Happy reading!

 

The Gown, by Jennifer Robson

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I can actually say that I’ve read every one of Jennifer Robson’s novels. I was obsessed with her series called The Great War, which featured three novels. She writes historical fiction, which I love, but she’s also from Toronto, Canada… so that makes me want to champion her even more. I adored this novel, and feel like I connected with it on such a personal level.

The Gown is a fictional account of the real story behind Princess Elizabeth’s (now the Queen) much anticipated wedding gown. It’s post-war in 1947 London, England, and the country is feeling the aftershocks of the debt the country is now in. With rations on food, fuel, and even fabric, this wedding brought many mixed feelings for the people of England. Ann, a prized embroiderer at Hartnell, survived war, unlike many people around her. Ann’s work becomes her life, and when she’s introduced to the newest, and highly skilled embroiderer at Hartnell, Miriam, she decides to try to develop a friendship. Miriam is a French, Jewish emigrant who also survived the war, unlike the rest of her family. Keeping the secret of her past heritage, and her harrowing experience in Ravensbruck, she works her way to the top of the embroidery team at Hartnells. Then, when news breaks that the Princess is engaged and choses Hartnell’s to make the gown, the two, along with the rest of the team, work long days until the day arrives. Flash forward to 2016, Heather (Ann’s granddaughter) is gifted a box with her name on it when her Nan, Ann, has passed away. Heather is shocked to find embroidery samples, and pictures of Nan and her friend, Miriam. From here, Heather embarks on a journey to find out the truth of her grandmother’s unknown, and exciting past.

Let me start off by saying, there are just so many reasons I loved this novel. First of all, the Royals just fascinate me. Whether it’s as far back as Henry the VIII, and his many wives, or the most recent Royal Wedding… I’m so there. But, as fascinating as the Royals are, Jennifer Robson has executed a novel which gives you a “behind the scenes” look at the making of the gown. She told the story of the women who made the gown, and these were stories that never told. Ann, and Miriam, were such beautiful characters, who were deeply affected by the War. The secrets that they held inside were the thing that bonded them, although they never really told each other. Eventually, many years later, Heather puts them altogether. Jennifer Robson actually had the opportunity to interview a seamstress that worked on the gown to help her construct this story.

Lastly, the relationship between Heather and her Nan was such a special one. Even though they had a strong relationship, Nan (aka, Ann) had never told Heather about her incredible past and how she ended up in Canada. This relationship made me really grateful for the one my Gramma Lisa and I have. Over the years, my Gramma has told me so many wonderful stories to me about her own past. I love hearing about her childhood, teenager years, and becoming a wife, and a mother… and so much more!

What’s special about this novel is the obvious of it being a fascinating time in history… but I think on a deeper level it reminds you to be curious about the past. To ask questions, and to learn about your families history. I think everyone seems to think that their life isn’t all that interesting, but I find when you start talking to people their lives I find them so intriguing.

Anywho, enough of me gushing. Go read this novel!

The History of Bees, by Maja Lunde

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The History of Bees was our latest book club pick. And I have to say, it’s was a great pick for book club. There was a lot to talk about, plus we had dinner at a new restaurant, the Hunter Street Tavern… and it was a hit!! The evening was a win all around.

The novel is told through three different characters, who are all beekeepers from the past, present, and future. In 1852 England, William is a seed merchant/biologist who decides to make himself a name by developing a new design of a beehive. In 2007, The United States, George is the owner of a bee farm, which has been in the family for generations. He battles internally with the idea of whether he should be adopting modern bee farming techniques, and trying to guide his son to become the next generation on the farm. Lastly, 2098, China, Tao works as a pollinator on a fruit farm, as there are no bees anymore. When Tao’s young son is taken away after an accident, she is determined to find out what the cause of his accident was. These three storylines are intertwined with the backdrop of the potential loss of the bees, and their bonds with their children.

Our book club had some great discussions about The History of Bees. Although this wasn’t my favourite book we’ve read, I can definitely appreciate it’s importance. In a world where we are starting to see the affects that our modern technology has had on our earth, it’s great for people to read reminders of how we need to make a more conscious effort to help our world be here longer. The things I didn’t like about this book was the writing was a bit rough for me, and it lacked a flow. But at book club it was mentioned that this is a translation, so this could be a reason why the writing just felt a little choppy. The other part of this book that I didn’t love, was that it felt SO close to home. It made me scared for the world’s, and my children’s future. So although it made me feel uncomfortable, maybe this book accomplished exactly what Maja Lunde was hoping it would.

I found the relationships between these characters and their children fascinating. There was so much internal dialogue, that you as the reader you knew what they were thinking, but their children were left in the dark to their thoughts. This made me think just how much of an issue comes from the things that we don’t actually say to each other. The assumptions that are made on the things that are unsaid, can drastically change outcomes, and relationships.

That’s all for today, happy reading until next time!

Winter Garden, by Kristin Hannah

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This book has been sitting on my bookshelf for a long time. I had clients, and close friends, both recommend Winter Garden to me… but the cover just looked so cheesy that I was definitely judged the contents! So when yet another close person to me in my life said, you need to read Winter Garden, I picked it up finally.

Meredith and Nina Whitson are as different as sisters can be. One stayed at home to raise her children and manage the family apple orchard, while the other traveled the world to become a famous photojournalist. The one thing that these two sisters have in common is an unbreakable bond with their father, and an almost non-existent relationship with their mother. But when their father falls ill, Meredith and Nina find themselves having to comfort their cold, and distant mother, Anya. As children, the only connection they had with Anya was the unfinished Russian fairy tale she told the girls at night. When their father is dying, he requests one last wish… that Anya tells the whole tale. This begins a curiosity in the girls, who find out that the fairytale, is actually the real life events of Anya in war-torn Leningrad during WW2.  Between the fairytale, and the bonding with their mother, Meredith and Nina discover the harrowing story of their mother’s life before they were in it.

Okay, so be patient with this novel in the first 100 pages. I wasn’t completely hooked until I realized the fairytale was actually Anya’s real life story. But when things really started to unwind, I found I was unable to put it down! I ripped through the last 200 pages in one day.

This was a WW2 history which I wasn’t aware. Learning the St.Petersburg was actually called Leningrad when Stalin was in power was completely new to me. What’s incredible about this story is it’s just the story of a woman and her experience getting through the war. You realize how much could be lost in just a few short years. Then once the war was over, you are expected to live on. How does one do this? How do you just start over? These are the questions that you are asking yourself this whole novel.

Seeing the sisters develop a stronger relationship with their mother was probably the most rewarding part of this novel. You see just how hiding a part of your past can truly affect the people around you. As a mother, I think we want to protect our children from the bad things that happened to us, or the bad things that we had done to other people. But when we open up and become vulnerable, it lets your children know that we are all just humans trying live.

We women make choices for others, not for ourselves, and when we are mothers, we…bear what we must for our children. You will protect them. It will hurt you; it will hurt them. Your job is to hide that your heart is breaking and do what they need you to do.

If you are a lover of historical fiction, and complex family relationships… then this is the perfect novel for you. Because of the large amount of WW2 fiction being produced nowadays, it’s always refreshing to hear a story that you’ve never heard before.

Anywho, that’s all for now. Happy reading, friends!