The Summer List, by Amy Mason Doan

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I stumbled upon this book when a friend of mine had brought a couple books and asked me if I was interested in borrowing some. Of course, like any bookworm, I thumbed through them all… deciding this is the one I wanted to borrow as I had seen The Summer List every time I walked into Shoppers Drugmart.

The Summer List follows two friends, Laura and Casey, who were once inseparable. Like any childhood/teen friendship they were always together, and knew everything about each other. Then one summer night, Laura is shocked when she finds out a betrayal that involces Casey and her mother. Laura flees to college early, and tries to erase her past life as Casey’s best friend. Seventeen years later Laura receives an invite in the mail, requesting her presence for a good old fashioned girl’s weekend. Laura is trepidatious, but decides to go. This staged girl’s weekend, turns into a scavenger hunt which ultimately pulls them back together.

My reading life needed a quick, easy, fun book… so enter The Summer List. And it was just that, a really fun read, but it was also a really sweet story. This is Amy Doan Mason’s first novel, and I really loved her premise. It jumped around from past to future, tying together the threads of the two girl’s friendship.

Where the book lacked in poetic prose, it made up for it through nostalgia. This book made me reflect on my friendships throughout the same eras, and it made me reflect on the memories I had with a certain bosom buddy! I think what is so special about a book is that you get to reflect on how it makes you feel, and the special meaning it has to you.

Anywho, if you are looking for a deep, introspective read, this one isn’t the book for you right now. BUT if you need something that is sweet, and easy to read, I’d say pick it up. I wanted to read it all day long… but two little humans wouldn’t let me do that!

Up next, Stephen King’s new one, The Outsider. King is legit a King, so I’m hoping this one is as fantastic as it seems so far!

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September: Continue to Learn

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Whoopsy… I dropped the ball on posting for my September Happiness Project. But here’s the thing I’ve realized, at this point in my project… I am tired! Summer has been busy for all of us, so in hopes of an organized September I had thought of all these different things months ago that I could accomplish for September.

Well… here’s the truth, I decided this month is truly just reflection. I had hoped to sign up for a course, or some lectures, and what I know right now what I need is a slow down. It’s time to journal, listen to some reflective podcasts, and truly just be.

This week I listened to an eye opening episode of Goop podcast, which was an interview with Gwyneth Paltrow and Oprah. At one point Gwyneth asked Oprah whether she was happy, and I’m paraphrasing, but what Oprah answered back was with that being happy isn’t a word she uses for herself. It’s temporary, but being present is a thing. It’s about not holding onto a something too tightly with your expectations. It’s about being you, and taking comparison out of your life and living YOUR best self. This episode was one big AHA moment for me, and exactly what I needed right now.

SO last but not least, what I’ve learned and continue to learn about myself is that it’s not always about being perfect. It’s about being balanced, and whole.

That’s all for today, and I will check back in with you in October 🙂

Midnight Blue, by Simone van der Vlugt

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You know that saying… “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”. Well in this case, please do. This cover is just gorgeous, and my picture doesn’t even do it justice. It has tiny flecks of gold that sparkle in the sunlight, and every time I look at this cover I smile. I stumbled upon this book in Hunter Street Books, when I saw the beautiful Delft blue pottery resemblance, my dutch roots just had to buy it.

Set in 1654 in the Netherlands, this novel follows Catrin, who after the suspicious death of her husband she decides to move from her hometown. She runs away to Amsterdam in hopes to escape her past, and follow her dreams of opening her own business of painting pottery. Eventually Catrin ends up in Delft, where she has started to work at a place where she makes pottery. On a whim she decides to paint a plate with a beautiful blue pattern. She was inspired to do so upon seeing the Chinese vases, and thought she would give it a shot… and so began the Delft pottery.

Along with this historical timeline, Catrin’s story is quite a tumultuous one. Being widowed, and dealing with infant loss, her storyline is pretty inspiring. She’s a firecracker. What I really loved about this story was that it weaved in famous artists such as Rembrant, Vermeer, and Fabritius, and also true events, such as the plague, and the Delft Explosion. I love it when a novel teaches me something about a time in history that I hadn’t known before.

I’ve visited Delft numerous times, and I had know idea that there was a massive explosive there! I found this part so interesting, and wish I had of known this history before I visited… but there is always time to go back!! I just have to convince my Gramma to come with me to translate 🙂

If you like historical fiction, with a little bit of thrilling action, you will probably like this book as much as I did! I found it really easy to read, despite it being a translation… which can be at sometimes hard stories for me to read. I also found the pace of it really great. It moved along enough that I wanted to keep turning the pages, but I also wanted to look up little historical details.

That’s all on this one, and if you have read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Until next time, happy reading!

 

 

Shoe Dog, by Phil Knight

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Wow. Just wow! This memoir came recommended from a client who knew I loved running, but also love a fantastic story. Well, when she said it’s a memoir of the creator of Nike, I was kind like… huh, I don’t know. But after reading some raving reviews online, I took a chance and went out and bought it.

In 1962, Phil Knight had just finished up business school, and knew he wanted to travel the world. As a student, Phil had completed a project that was a “start-up” shoe company. Being a competitive track runner in Oregon, he knew he had an idea that could possibly change the way North Americans run. Knight decided to ask his father for help to travel the world, with one condition…. he’d would be conducting research in Asia about sports footwear. Upon returning he borrowed $50 from his father and created a company with a simple mission: import high-quality, low-cost athletic shoes from Japan. Knight’s company struggled for many years, with many set backs, but more triumphs.

I told myself: Life is growth. You grow or you die.

This book will be one of my top 10 of FOREVER FAVOURITES. It’s incredible. It married two of my passions in this world; running and literature. From the book you can tell that Knight is a man who loves the written word. Not only does he reference many classics, and literary heroes, he also had gone back to school to write his own memoir. And one thing that really propelled this book to my favourites is the fact that Steve Prefontaine, who is my running idol, is referenced a lot. Prefontaine, a track athlete, with a rock star attitude, whose presence help propel Nike to the top. He was a fierce, incredible runner, who died in a car accident at the age of 24. Taken too soon to really understand what a star he could’ve been to the running world.

I tried to con myself; more than once I told myself that Pre was just a kid from Coos Bay, a short, shaggy-haired jock with a porn star mustache. But I knew better. And a few minutes in his presence would prove it.

Phil Knight believed in his product’s worth from the very beginning, even when he had literally nothing at all. He knew that if he could get this product out there, it would change the world. And now that this book is out there, I think that the world will really be able to understand just what a small dream with a pair determined legs can really be.

This book made my heart beat faster, my legs want to get out and run, and just really read every single word. I’m shocked that this Shoe Dog can also write an amazing story, but I’m also so grateful. The thing that made this book no short of incredible was the last chapter. I actually re-read it immediately after I finished, because I just wasn’t ready to say good-bye to this book.

Please, please go out, put it on hold at your library, run to the local bookstore… and read this book, so we can chat about it!

Okay, enough gushing!!! I’m running off to spend some time on the beach with my family. Hope you all are having a wonderful long weekend 🙂

The Rent Collector, by Camron Wright

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One of the best parts of my job as a Registered Massage Therapist is that my clients come in book recommendations, or loans frequently! The Rent Collector came to me from a friend/client who has very similar taste in books to me. I had been telling her how I was in a book rut and couldn’t get into anything… and she handed this on over to me.

The Rent Collector is a fiction novel, inspired by Wright’s son who filmed a documentary in about the large dump, Strung Meachney, in Cambodia. The family featured in the film is the inspiration for this novel. Sang Ly, and Ki Lim, are husband and wife, with their son, Nisay, who is 1 and half years old, and very ill. Sang and Ki struggle to make ends meet with their income coming from pickers of the massive dump Strung Meachney.  Sopeap Sin, the Rent Collector, is forever knocking on their door, looking for the money that they owe her. Sopeap is a drunk, aging, and frequently angry. Then one day, illiterate Sang finds out Sopeap can read. Sang sees an opportunity to learn to read, help heal their son, and possibly change their lives through literature.

This is a great, easy to read story. If you love a fast-paced story, this book will be right for you. But if you love literature, this book will make you remember why. Wright lists Yann Martel’s The Life of Pi as one of his all time favourites, this little fact speaks to his own his love of literature. There were great little nuggets, and famous quotes sprinkled throughout the story.

Another reason why I really liked this book is that I learned about a completely different part of the world that I’ve never read about, let alone visited. I learned a lot about the culture, and realized how much in North America we take being literate for granted… also our healthcare system. In the back of this book there is real photos of the family who this book is based on, and that just made it all hit home.

So, friends, if you love books about books, or about the love of reading… pick this one up!! Until next, keep on reading!

A Tribe Called Bliss, by Lori Harder

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I stumbled upon Lori Harder when a client had recommended her podcast called Earn your Happy. So, after some intense binge-listening, I heard she released a book based on how she reached her highest potential. I ran out to the only bookstore that had it and bought the last one… and happy danced upon holding it in my hands!!

A Tribe Called Bliss is based on Lori’s journey through dealing with anxiety, loneliness, and disconnection. She describes in detail on how she shed those unfulfilling friendships, and discovered her untapped potential. This book is truly a manual on how to create deeper connections with people, instead of burying deeper inside yourself. It’s also a manual on how to use specific tools that will help you become a better and more whole being.

At this point in my life, I feel like female friendships are interesting. I have some friends I’ve had for a super long time, and those relationships are the ones that feel authentic and always pick up where they leave off. It’s cool if we haven’t talked in a bit, and we always check in on each other, and reach out to each other. BUT, meeting new friends at this stage is such a hard ship to navigate. With a young family, time is limited… and sometimes you may click with someone who could potentially become a really good friend, but the time is so limited that there isn’t much time for it to flourish. Or sometimes these new friendships start off great, and then you start to realize that maybe you didn’t have as much in common as you thought you may have. Either way… it’s a weird thing to struggle with at this stage in my life… but in talking to other women after reading this book, there are a lot of people who feel the same way.

What I loved about this book was it made you really look inside of yourself, and figure out what exactly holds you back from connecting with other people, and most of all, yourself. I’m not really on the level to air all my dirty laundry on here, but I will say that there was one line that made me realize what does hold me back. Upon reading this line, I cried, and cried, and then I journaled.  Another thing resonated with me is that Lori talked about how often we cut people down because of our own insecurities. She talks about how malicious gossip is so hurtful, and there is a difference between that type of gossip, and the processing and venting that can be helpful. Lori shares quotes all through this book, and here’s one that made me go AHA, about gossip;

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. – Eleanor Roosevelt.

One last thing I will share with you that I took away from this book is that Lori Harder must be a huge bookworm, because she even references Anne Shirley. She talks about how she always believed there would be one friend who would be her “bosom buddy”, and that this belief had proven to be untrue. So, as you may guess, anyone who is an Anne fan already feels like a kindred spirit to me.

Anywho, that’s all on this one friends. I’ve been really trying to sprinkle in some more non-fiction, self-help, memoir genre books to give my reading life a little more variety. I hope you’ve enjoyed these reviews as much as I’ve enjoyed reading these books.

Up next, a fiction title that a client has lent me called The Rent Collector. I’m thoroughly enjoying this one, and it also has referenced some great books in it… that’s a win/win, friends!

The Wonder, by Emma Donoghue

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Everyone has probably either read or heard of Room, by Emma Donoghue. Well, this book is completely different from Room, but equally compelling and thrilling. A wonderful client gifted me this book as it was one she really enjoyed, and wanted to pass on. I gratefully accepted it, and have come to realize the best clients are also book people 🙂 So after a month of it sitting on my shelf, I found myself gazing at The Wonder, deciding this would be the one I read next.

This book fits into the thriller/historical fiction genre. A great combo as it really drove the plot forward. I found the last 150 pages couldn’t be read fast enough!! The writing was fast-paced, and the plot was really intriguing as it was loosely based on some true events that happened in Ireland, 1850’s.

Here’s a quick synopsis: English nurse, Lib Wright, is called to a tiny village in Midland Ireland, and it’s 1859. She’s to observe what the area is claiming either to be a medical anomaly or a miracle. Anna, a young 10 year old girl, has been said to have survived without food for four months. Tourists, and journalists have come to see the sensation that is Anna. Over time, Lib starts to put the pieces together as to how this child is surviving, and why she isn’t eating. 

A fast didn’t go fast; it was the slowest thing there was. Fast meant a door shut fast, firmly. A fastness, a fortress. To fast was to hold fast to emptiness, to say no and no and no again.

Emma Donoghue can tell a fantastic story, but what I think is more incredible is how different each story is. This one is a fascinating look at what can happen when the lines between religion, and morals are blurred… and also the way it can split a family. I think Emma Donoghue did an incredible job of not depicting the Church in a positive or negative light, but just purely there in all the facets. It’s really hard to chat about this book without giving away any of the exciting plot twists, BUT that hint should urge you to pick it up. The ending was not at all what I saw coming… which is exactly why I couldn’t stop turning those pages!! I think this book would be a great book club pick, as there is so much to discuss.

Have you read any of Emma Donoghue’s work? Something that I think is super cool is that she actually lies in London, Ontario. And ya’ll know how much I love that Canlit.

If you have The Wonder, drop me your opinion in the comments please!!! I’m eager to chat about it!

Until the next book, happy reading!!