Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood

IMG_4470

I have to be honest with you, the only reason I picked this book up off my shelf was because the series Alias Grace popped up on my Netflix feed. And now this book will be on my FAVOURITE BOOKS of all time. I can’t believe I have been bypassing this battered book that I picked up at Vinnie’s for $1 for a while now, and am really glad I decided to read it.

Here’s a quick synopsis: It’s 1843, and Grace Marks has been convicted for her involvement in the vicious murders of her employer and his housekeeper/mistress. Some believe Grace is innocent; others think her evil or insane. Now serving a life sentence, Grace claims to have no memory of the murders. When Dr. Simon comes to interview Grace, he tries to unravel the truth of this crime.

Murderess is a strong word to have attached to you. It has a smell to it, that word – musky and oppressive, like dead flowers in a vase. Sometimes at night I whisper it over to myself: Murderess, Murderess. It rustles, like a taffeta skirt across the floor.

Atwood is an incredible writer, but she’s also just a ballsy woman! She has the power to make you feel inside her character’s head, and to make you miss them the minute you finish reading her novels. She also takes really important topics, and weaves them through an entertaining plot. As a Canadian, this book is fascinating… it’s setting is at a pillar of Ontario history, the Kingston Penitentiary, and also Toronto area.

Grace’s character is mesmerizing. This whole novel you have no idea whether she had committed the crime, or was falsely accused. She is an excellent seamstress, and this is a big part of her character. Constantly weaving her clothing, and quilts, as she weaves her story of a crime.

And inside the peach there’s a stone.

Margaret Atwood put in so many interesting quotes, letters, and based this novel off of a real crime! It’s a fascinating story and I truly think that you need to read the book, or watch the Netflix show, as this is really interesting time in Canadian history… plus it’s just really entertaining.

Until next time, happy reading!

Advertisements

the Arrangement, by Sarah Dunn

img_4433.jpg

Okay, this one wasn’t my favourite… It’s been awhile since I’ve read a book I haven’t liked. And that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy this one, it actually brought up a lot questions and situations that made me squirm! It was kind of like a train wreck.

Here’s the premise: Lucy and Owen have been married long enough to have lived in New York City and moved to the suburbs, have an 8 year old autistic son, decide to get 19 chickens, and be involved in their communities. Long enough to fall into a comfortable place within their marriage. Then after a very drunken night with some friends, they discuss the rules that they would place within their relationship if they planned on having an open marriage. After a long day, and a lot of thinking about how she has lost herself, Lucy decides to propose to Owen that they should do this as a trial for 6 months. Owen agrees… and I bet you can guess where this story is going to.

This book had a great potential to have some really deep, dark feelings get examined, but I feel like it fell short. It lacked a depth that I was craving within this story of relationship. Albeit the story was super juicy, and that kept wanting to read right till the bitter end. For anyone looking for a fast, beach read… go pick this one up! It fits the bill completely.

Until next time, happy reading!!!

State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett

IMG_4391

I’m an Ann Patchett fan. I loved both of her novels, Bel Canto, and then I rushed out to read Commonwealth when it was released. Sadly, State of Wonder sat on my bookshelf for far too long before I finally read it. Here’s the real reason I finally picked it up… when I read Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert, there was a fascinating chapter about an exchange that she and Ann had in which she believes that she transferred the idea of this novel to her. I thought it was fascinating, so I moved State of Wonder to my pile of books to be read ASAP.  One last thing, Ann Patchett believes in the power of a local bookstore. So much so that she opened up Parnassus Books in Nashville, click on over to hear her interview about why she did this!

Here’s a quick synopsis: Dr. Marina Singh is sent by her boss to the Amazon in an effort to determine two things: What happened to her colleague, who had died mysteriously there scant weeks ago, and what kind of progress was being made by her former mentor in the development of a new fertility drug that was being funded by her pharmaceutical company. Both of these tasks prove to be most complex and difficult to achieve. Her former mentor’s work is at the centre of her journey and involves a little known tribe of people whose fertility extends well into their seventies and proves to be as closely linked to their life’s rituals as the environment in which they live. As Marina spends more time in the Amazon, it seems she is learning some deep, dark secrets that could end up extending her visit!

Hope is a horrible thing, you know. I don’t know who decided to package hope as a virtue because it’s not. It’s a plague. Hope is like walking around with a fishhook in your mouth and somebody just keeps pulling it and pulling it.

State of Wonder is awesome. I was skeptical, because a guest on Anne Bogel’s podcast WSIRN had said she threw this book across the room because she hated the ending so much!! I, on the other hand, just felt like giving this book a really long hug after I read it. There were crazy scientists, an insane anaconda fight, and some risky love!! All of these things had me sitting on the edge of my seat while I read this book. But as exciting of a story it was, there were some big themes and beautiful writing!

Never be so focused on what you’re looking for that you overlook the thing you actually find.

If you haven’t read any Ann Patchett, I strongly encourage you to. She writes an effortless story that just makes a reader feel so satisfied at the end. Her novels are all really interesting concepts that make you go, “Huh, what would I do in this situation?”

That’s all friend, happy reading!!

 

 

Out with March, in with April!

img_4395.jpg

Happy Easter! I’m going to do a double whammy with this post, as I don’t want to bombard your inboxes this long weekend. Here’s a little wrap up of the March instalment of My Happiness Project.

  • Stretch/Yoga: I was pretty excited get back to yoga. I’ve been working more, getting headaches, and something had to change in my daily routine that made my body feel less sore! So I went back to Salti Yoga, which is a local yoga studio to Peterborough, and I am in love with how it makes me feel. Often I go into a class with a lot of thoughts, and a twisted up body. As soon as I leave, I feel like a wringed out, clean sponge. It’s incredible, and I’m so glad I got back on the yoga train!
  • Drink more water: This was a small change, with a big pay-off. I bought a new water bottle, and some pure lemon juice, to motivate me to drink more. And I love it! I already drank a good amount of water everyday, but now I feel like such a small change has impacted my health in a big way. Less headaches… but more trips to the bathroom!!
  • Foam rolling: Okay… I failed here. I look at it everyday and think I should jump on it… better luck next time!

Okay! So now that we’ve wrapped up March, let’s move on to April.

April: Work, work, work, work, work!

Fun fact, I’m a procrastinator. In my home life I’m not as bad as my work life. I always get the job done on time, but I leave everything to the last minute. I am a small business owner, and I am the only employee, so being organized is something I have to be. Recently I’ve decided to grow this business, and I’ve realized I have to really work on being organized now.

  • Plan daily and weekly time for marketing, emails, and book work: I have a bad habit of forgetting that this takes time to get it done, so I end up cramming all these things into a short time period. And it really stresses me out! So here’s my solution, booking time for it!
  • Learn how to use spreadsheets better: Let’s just say I do not know my way around a spreadsheet, and some learning some simple ways to navigate around it would be great! Wish me luck.
  • Do it now! Every time I think “I can do it later”, I will do it now. Period.

Some work related books on my reading list for April:

Some non-work related books on my reading list for April:

 

One True Loves, by Taylor Jenkins Reid

img_4365.jpg

Sometimes you don’t realize that you are in a bit of a reading rut, until you pick up a book that just steals your heart. I had no idea who Taylor Jenkins Reid was until I read her beautiful book, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Then when I read Evelyn, I promptly followed TJR on Instagram, and kept my eyes peeled for books by her at my local bookstore.

One True Loves follows Emma Blair who married her high school boyfriend, Jesse. They built a life halfway across the country, based on travel and freelance journalism. When Jesse goes on a solo trip to Alaska before their one year anniversary, his helicopter goes missing. And Jesse is gone. Emma does her best to move on slowly, and each day it becomes easier for her to live again. Then she runs into Sam, an acquaintance from high school, and falls in love. When Sam and Emma become engaged, Emma gets a phone call that will change everything. It’s from her husband.

My Top Five Favourite Things from One True Loves:

  • Emma Blair (the main character) has got a booty, and an everyday girl type of body!!
  • Emma, and Taylor Jenkins Reid both love Leonardo DiCaprio. This is a girl after my heart.
  • The Blair family owns a bookshop. Enough said.
  • I learned when applying mascara, if your lashes clump, to use a safety pin to straighten them. Genius!
  • There’s a reference to a T-shirt that says, “Read a Mother F&#king Book”.

This book is great. It’s funny how many times I’ve said “I don’t do romance, or love stories!” Then I stumble upon a well written, funny, great love story, and regret that I say that. I just fell in love with the main character, Emma. She’s real, flawed, and so sweet. She’s an everyday girl whose been thrown into a situation that is almost impossible to understand what you would do until you have to make a decision like that.

If you need a book that has a storyline that just sucks you, but doesn’t feel too heavy, then this is the book for you! It’s a fast, fun, engaging read, and I would suggest picking it up.

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

Brother, by David Chariandy

IMG_4323

Brother was the latest book for our in real life book club. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to this meeting… but I did read the book! It’s just the worst when you don’t get a chance to talk about a book that gives you some big feelings?!? This book had me thinking about these characters all the time… it was intense and woven so tightly that you needed to find out how the story played out.

Brother is a coming of age story of two brothers, Michael and Francis, who live in Rouge Park, Scarborough. Their mother who works long hours, and goes to school in the evening, is exhausted but longs for a better life for her children than the one she had in Trinidad. Their father no longer existing in their life. The boys are as different as they are alike. With interests differing, but their struggles with identity, race, and fear bound them. When crime enters the Park and becomes the norm, Michael struggles as Francis grows further away from the family. This is a heartbreaking story of a family, who has a dark cloud of fear, and exhaustion within their neighbourhood.

But of course, you can’t ever really flee. You’ll forever run the risk of being spotted, if only for a second.

David Chariandy was awarded the Roger’s Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize for this book in 2017. Growing up he was a sci-fi fan, then discovered the works of Robertson Davies. Sharing a love for Davies made me want to learn more about him. He’s Canadian and originally grew up in Scarborough which was the setting for Brother.  I think that Scarborough is as much as a character in this novel as the rest of the cast in this novel. There were some rumours that this book was autobiographical, which intrigues me all the more!

Like I said earlier, there were some big feelings and big themes in this novel. The brothers relationship was one that made you nostalgic and want to call up your siblings. I felt like I knew the whole time what was going to happen, but I needed to read what and why it happened… and it was beautifully executed! I blew through this one in a couple days, and think that it’s a really important novel, especially this day in age to read. I also think that one day this would be GREAT required reading for High School English classes!!

Anywho… that’s all for today, and whether you are Canadian or not, go read this one!!

Manhattan Beach, by Jennifer Egan

img_4252.jpg

Manhattan Beach is the awaited novel by Pulitzer Prize winner Jennifer Egan. A Visit from the Goon Squad was the book that won her the Pulitzer, and had fans chomping at the bit for this novel. I had heard some mixed reviews that this was quite the departure from her previous work. Some good, some meh… but in the course of a week I had a friend recommend this book to me, then listened to a great podcast episode deep diving it (no pun intended) on Literary Disco.

Here’s a quick synopsis: Meet Anna Kerrigan. A plucky, adventurous girl who accompanies her father to the house of a man who ends up being crucial to her family’s life. Anna observes this man’s (Dexter Styles) lavish lifestyle, and wonders what role he plays in his father’s life. Year’s later, WWII is in full effect, and her father went to work one day and never returned. Anna’s job becomes the sole income for her mother and handicapped sister. Here she has become the first female diver, as they are in need of people… before the war this would not have happened. She repairs ships by diving and welding underwater to send them off to war. Then on a night out on the town, Anna is reacquainted with the gangster Dexter Styles, and is attracted to him with magnetic force that will forever change each of their lives.

How do you know a gangster?” “Usually, the room goes a little quiet when he walks in.”

The setting of this book was just glorious! Based in New York WWII, you felt the war looming in the background and you see how much the women were effected by the war and how much more independence they gained during this time period out of pure coincidence.

Egan’s ability to time hop throughout the chapters at first seemed confusing, but in hindsight I think that she did this a tool for the reader to feel what Anna was feeling about her life and family. She was confused about the mystery of her father’s disappearance, and what her future would hold. The descriptions of Anna’s underwater escapades were incredible. You could almost hear  the sound of the waves, and then the quiet of the underwater as she submerged in her diving suit.

He sealed her faceplate, a cool chemical hiss of air filled Anna’s mouth and nostrils. She descended the ladder backward, then held the descending line and let the harbour swallow her. The current was tremendous, a pull with the force of the ocean behind it.

I had thoughts that this book would be a typical historical fiction story… and it was, but Egan’s writing just felt like so much more. It felt like a story full of symbolism and feeling. I’d be interested to hear what your thoughts are on this one, as I said earlier some people weren’t overly impressed by it, but I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Anywho, friends, that’s all for now!

Happy reading!