It’s Been a Minute!

Well hello there!

It has been a hot minute since I’ve appeared in your inbox. To be honest with you, I had been contemplating about giving up writing in this space. For awhile, I just wondered who the hell cares about it? I felt like I was pouring my energy into something that didn’t really matter. Like who even cares about all these books I’m reading anyways? For so long I felt like reading was teaching me about history, about different cultures, and about human interactions… but maybe no one else cares.

Then I had a couple people in a week ask me why I hadn’t posted any book reviews on the blog lately. And then I found myself reviewing great books in my head, and trying to bring them up to several people in conversations. Lastly, there was this one big thing. I sent in a “listener press” to the Currently Reading Podcast… and they featured my press! You can listen here. It was a big deal to me. Not only did I feel like what I read is important, but I also felt someone else believed that reading can teach us things, and is important. So here I am!

During this blog break, I have been reading like crazy… not much has changed in my reading & running life! I’ve been working away on my Yoga Teacher Training course, signed up for a race this fall, and now it’s summer time… which is reading’s fav season. So today I’m going to share you with a few of my most favourite books I’ve read while I’ve been taking a break from writing here.

These books were all 5 star books for me. They are all pretty different, but as equally compelling. Enjoy!

Fiction Fav’s!

Five Little Indians, by Michelle Good. I had had this book on my Kobo for ages. I bought it on a deal, and thought the premise sounded interesting. Then after the mass grave of children at the residential school was found in B.C., I knew I needed to read it immediately… and I couldn’t put it down. This book is based in B.C., around five different residential school survivors. It’s their story about their struggle to find their way after their they leave. They are all coping with it differently, but it is clear to the reader that they are each struggling to cope, and find their way through their trauma. It is a story of resilience, and one that has so much to teach us.

If one book has taken me by surprise this year, Into the Drowning Deep, is that one. This book’s description sounds like nothing I usually read, but when I started it, I was sucked into it immediately. Hear me out… it’s of the mermaid horror genre, as Meredith from the Currently Reading Podcast said. But it is so good. It has Stephen King-esque vibes, mixed with a trip to find the lost city of Atlantis. Here’s the premise: Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “documentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legends. Something horrible went wrong, and the Atargatis was found with no people left on it, blood everywhere, floating miles away from it’s original place. Now, scientists, and a new crew is assembled to seek what actually took place above, and below the Mariana Trench. And I’m here to tell you, this mermaid tale is no “The Little Mermaid”. This book is so good, and so immersive, I couldn’t put it down!

Malibu Rising, by Taylor Jenkins Reid. This was the book I was looking forward releasing the most this year. I would read TJR’s grocery list, and be thoroughly enthralled. This book didn’t disappoint at all. She took a background character from Evelyn Hugo, and made his family centre stage. Mick Riva is a rock star, and an estranged husband, and father to his four children. While his children have been surviving, and thriving without him, their past and futures collide at the annual Riva party. This book is set basically around one night in their lives, but flashes back and forth between the history of this family’s checked past. It’s fantastic historical fiction. She drops in some famous musicians, and actors/actresses alongside this fictional family. What I found really compelling about this novel was that it almost gave me modern day Rebecca vibes. It’s got that big house, with big troubles theme. And TJR’s writing has you equal parts of wanting to flip the pages, but also slowly devour the beautiful sentences.

The Rose Code, by Kate Quinn. This is another book that I was dying to get my hands on… as much as I am all WWII fictioned out, Kate Quinn never does me wrong. This one was definitely a masterpiece. It was based on the women of Bletchley Park, featuring some of the real women, and some fictional characters as well. If you don’t know, Bletchley Park were the codebreakers in England… they were the people trying to intercept codes, and they say that the War would have been years longer if not for these codebreakers. These codebreakers were also under strict rules to NOT share with anyone what they were doing. So a lot of these women were just stay at home moms/wives, with this secret double life. I think Kate Quinn does historical fiction so well, you learn while be entertained! I especially loved the little author’s note at the end, where you learn something pretty neat about a real life women of Bletchley Park.

My Non-Fic Fav’s!

More Than A Body, by Lindsay Kite PhD, and Lexie Kite PhD. This book should be read by everyone with a body. It’s a good hard look at just what truly our body is… an instrument, instead of this ornament that we feel like we need to constantly change to “look better”. What is so good about this book is they give you tangible steps on how to set yourself up for better body resilency in a world that is obsessed with looks. I love that it teaches the reader, that we have been groomed by media to hate/change ourselves, but we are also in charge of creating an environment that is a healthy space for us to thrive in.

Share Your Stuff. I’ll Go First. By Laura Tremaine. I’ve been following Laura Tremaine through podcasts for a long time, and she has always really interested me. Her love of conversation, and finding depth within relationships is what inspired this book. Each chapter is a question, and then she writes an essay based around this question… but what she encourages the reader to do is to ask yourself these questions. Then, to also ask these questions to the people in your life. This book brought on a really interesting and deep conversation with my little brother, and for that alone, I’m thankful that I read this book!

Crossroads, by Kaleb Dahlgren. I think every Canadian knows the horrific story of the Humboldt Bronco’s team bus crash that killed sixteen people, and injured 13 others. It was the tragedy that was heard around the world on the news. This is Kaleb’s story about the crash, and the way he has found the resilience to keep on living. When I heard this book was being published, I knew I had to read it. Kaleb’s perseverance, and dedication is so inspiring, and I think he does a beautiful job of honouring the lives that were lost that day.

Love Warrior, by Glennon Doyle. I loved Glennon’s book, Untamed. I thought it was literally the thoughts in my head that I didn’t know were needing to be thought through. I also love Glennon’s Podcast, We Can Do Hard Things. So after saying I was going to read this book for approximately a year and a half, I finally read it, and it was SO good. I love this type of memoir, it is basically like a stream of consciousness that she is working through. Glennon does not have it all figured out, but she’s working on it. Just like everyone else, she has trauma, she has demons, but she shows up to do the hard work. This is what I love about her. Immediately after I finished reading Love Warrior, I bought Carry on, Warrior.

Okay, I’m finally done pressing books into your hands. These are the best books I’ve been reading since I took a bit of break from this space. I hope you find something that brings you as much joy as these books brought me!

Until time next, happy reading!

What I Read Last Week (03/02/21)

Hey there! It’s been a interesting week weather wise here, and we’ve entered a polar vortex for I think only just over 24 hours today… if the weather man is correct! The Lost Apothecary, is a book that I read last week, and it is being published today! So, a big congrats to Sarah Penner, and hoping tons of success her way.

What I Read Last Week:

The Lost Apothecary, by Sarah Penner. This book is released today!! So exciting, and Harper Collins Ca sent me an advanced copy, so I had a chance to read it before it hit the shelves. It’s fantastic, and I think that anyone who has read and enjoyed Fiona Davis’s books would also love this one. It’s a dual timeline novel, bouncing back and forth between modern day, and the eighteenth century. In eighteenth century England there is an apothecary shop owned by Nella, who sells secretly poisoned tinctures in which the women of London use on the oppressive men in their lives. Back in modern day, Caroline has gone on a trip to London meant to celebrate her anniversary… but lo and behold, the her oppressive husband has dropped a bomb on her lap… so now she is solo, and finds a lost vial of Nella’s apothecary. Caroline pieces together the past to solve an old mystery, and find herself! Lately there have been a string of historical fiction with strong women characters, and also their works with natural ingredients. I LOVE this, as someone who works in the natural healing world, the little tidbits of information that are thrown into the vehicle of a thrilling plot is just awesome!

The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brené Brown. Oh man, this book just hit me at the most perfect time… and this is a re-read. I feel like it spoke to my current soul! If you don’t know who Brené Brown is, well, just google and let your mind be blown. She’s an incredible resource, but also hilarious, so her writing is like you’re talking to a friend who is serving up the most soothing advice. She wrote this book shortly after what she calls her “unravelling”. We are faced everyday with endless messages from media and our society that make us feel like we need to be a certain way to fit in is exhausting, and honestly so BLAH! We are led to think that if only we conform, we can have this perfect life, and FINALLY all will be right in our world. We will find inner peace, our family/friends/partners will love us more, be more successful, etc. Brené writes about her experience in breaking with cycle with her ten guideposts. It’s so good, and so worth reading in a world that makes us believe that because someone’s Instagram/Facebook page is perfect, they must be to, so in turn I must be like them… learning to embrace, and celebrate yourself is the key to joy.

The Library at Mount Char, by Scott Hawkins. Okay, this book was so weird, and in the best-could-not-put-down way. Just be warned, it’s a little dark, and sometimes a little graphic… but it was reminiscent of the Stephen King magic to me. It had the laugh out loud dialogue, and the type of plot that kept rolling at such a smart pace. Carolyn is the lead character, and she’s different. She has lived a lot of her life locked away in an infinite Library, studying all the time, because Father (who may or may not be God) has forced her too. She’s there along with her other orphaned friends/siblings, who also are learning hard lessons at the hand of Father. So when Carolyn shows up in the real world, at a bar and meets Steve, she offers him a TON of money to rob a specific house… and here is where Steve has walked into a much larger situation than he could ever realized. One that is basically a fight for power of the infinite Library, and more importantly, the Universe. I told you this one was weird, but it’s oddly introspective about the impact that humans have had on the world. I found it a super fun read, but I was also impressed with the creativity!

A Quote to Ponder:

I’m going to share one of Brené Brown’s quotes with you, because there were so many passages in my book that are underlined, and spoke to me. I hope that this one resonates with you too!

Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.

What I Read Last Week

This was a good reading week. I felt deeply invested in all these books, and even though there could be complete chaos with my children around, my brain could escape to the bookish world! That doesn’t happen all the time… and even though reading is a hobby, sometimes it feels harder to get into a book. But there is nothing like the feeling of a book that you can completely immerse yourself in 🙂

What I Read Last Week:

The Most Fun We Ever Had, by Claire Lombardo. (5 stars). The title of this book really sums up my experience with the novel. It was just so, so good, and I thoroughly loved every second of it. It’s basically the story of a family, whose parents, Marilyn and David, are deeply in love with each other. They have 4 daughters, and the reader is getting to know this family through each child’s crises at this point in their lives. It flashes back and forth throughout childhood, teenage years, and the pivotal moments in their lives. I just loved this family story. By the first 30 pages I was so invested in each of these characters lives, and I honestly could have read 1,000 pages from Claire Lombardo. I’m crossing my fingers for another one from her soon.

Atomic Habits, by James Clear. I wanted to read this book because I’ve heard great things about it. I am someone who is quite habitual… good or bad habits, I, like everyone have many. But there are certain habits that I’d love build, and break! James Clear is an expert on habit formation. This book is his manual on how to create strategies to help you form good habits, and break the bad ones. His concept is that mastering tiny behaviours/habits can lead eventually to big results. I really loved this concept, because starting small is attainable for everyone… and eventually these small changes become habit, that could be life changing. His book is rooted in tons of scientific research, and has some fascinating insight on how and why our brains can work in our favour… or be our biggest detriment. The only thing I didn’t so much like about this is that this book basically is the opposite of listening to your intuition. And I think that maybe a combo of habit formation, with a side of intuition, or gut feelings could be powerful!

Intimations, by Zadie Smith. This is a small, but deeply thoughtful book. I had heard about this book on several podcasts, and the concept of it fascinated me, also while terrifying me. It’s a reflection on the first half of lockdown from the Covid-19 pandemic. Zadie Smith discusses thoughts on culture, racism, politics, and my personal favourite…. the last section is dedicated to debts and lessons. In that section she outlines the people who have taught her different things, and continue to give to her life in different ways. I just loved that section, mostly because it made me think about who would be on my personal list of debts/lessons.

A Quote to Ponder:

I wanted to leave you with a special quote from Zadie Smith’s, Intimations. This is from that last section about debts and lessons; Daisy. Practice morality. A calendar filled with every birthday, every anniversary. Nothing put off till tomorrow. No love abstracted, instead everything made concrete and demonstrated.

What I Read Last Week (02/08/21)

Oh, hey there!

Yep, it’s me! I know I’ve been slacking on getting these reviews out on time, but it’s a new month and I’m here in your inbox on this marvellous Monday. I had a bit more time to read last week, because I decided to only run every other day this past week! Which was so nice to have that extra time reading in the morning.

What I’ve Been Reading:

Shuggie Bain, by Douglas Stuart. (4.5 stars). When I found out this book won The Booker Prize in 2020, I put it on my TBR immediately. Set in 1980’s Glasgow, this is the coming of age story of Hugh “Shuggie” Bain, a sweet, young boy. Being raised by his beautiful, and alcoholic mother Agnes. Shuggie is burdened with the weight of taking care of his mother, and protecting her from her inner demons, and the judgement of their outer world. This is the type of book that breaks your heart, and then attempts to super glue it back together again. This book leaves you feeling fractured, but able to manage with the difficulties that life throws at us all. It’s a story about love, addiction, and the shittiest of behaviours that most humans are capable of. It gave me all the feelings that Angela’s Ashes, and A Little Life did.

Quit Like A Woman, by Holly Whitaker. “There is the life that most of us live, and then there is the life we have buried deep inside us, the life we know we should be living” – Holly Whitaker.

First off, I didn’t read this book because I’m trying to stop drinking…. I read this book because I’ve been sober curious for awhile. The thought that we need to have a drink to enjoy or cope is something that our society seems to have normalized. I’ve been questioning this “mommy needs a drink” culture for a bit, there are many famous mommy bloggers out there who this is their schtick. Personally I can’t handle much more than a drink and a half without feeling like absolute shite the next day. It affects my sleep, my mood, and my tolerance of the extra energy that having kids brings to my life. This book really put a magnifying glass on what alcohol is, and also breaks down the toxic ways it can harm out bodies… physically and mentally. This book for many reasons was fantastic and definitely worth reading if you consume alcohol, or do use any type of behaviour or substance as a coping mechanism.

The Push, by Ashley Audrain. Whoa, this book was a ride! Think Gone Girl, but make it motherhood. Blythe is a new a mother to a little girl, Violet. She is trying to be the warm, loving mother that she never had. But she is struggling. She is exhausted, not feeling the connection to her baby, and she’s beginning to notice strange signs in her daughters behaviour. Then Blythe and her husband have her son, and she suddenly understands the beauty of motherhood. Until something goes horribly wrong, and Blythe feels that Violet is the one to blame. This book reads like a thriller, but has depth that a literary novel has. I really loved the way Ashley Audrain explored the darker side/moments of motherhood. It’s not all peachy keen, and it’s refreshing to see it on a page. I will link a really interesting podcast episode I listened to, with Ashley Audrain being interviewed on Sarah’s Bookshelves about the writing process.

That’s all for today. Hopefully I will pop back in your inbox next week with another weekly update 🙂

Until then, happy reading!

Books I Read In January

Happy 2021!

If you’e anything like me, you are happy to say goodbye to 2020! One thing I know for sure is that January was a very good reading month. It was also a month in which my kids were being homeschooled. Which was busy, and challenging, but ultimately quite rewarding. Being able to interact and watch them learn was really a gift, and made me realize that I should be playing a more active role in their learning on a day to day basis.

Before I get to the book reviews, I’d like to share a couple goals that I have for myself in 2021. Hopefully this keeps me more accountable 🙂

2021 Goals:

  • Read 100-125 books. Last year I read 116, with a goal of reading 100. So this year I’d love to read at about the same pace.
  • Read more non-fiction. I read a some non-fiction last year. But it was really only about 10% of the books I read overall, and one of my favourite books of last year was Caste. Which is non-fiction… so I think by trying to pick up more books that teach me something about a topic I’m interested in or wishing to expand my knowledge in, could be quite beneficial.
  • Do more yoga. In January, I’ve been trying to focus on mobility/yoga/stretching. I’m getting older, and noticing that I have lost some of my flexibility and noticing my joints are a bit more sore than they ever used to be. So I’m going to continue to make this a priority through online yoga… ei. Zoom classes, or Youtube.
  • Grow a bigger vegetable garden.
  • Continue to decrease the amount of waste my family produces, and teach my kids the importance of this.
  • Running. I’d like to do a virtual race... but also cut back the amount of days I run per week. Right now, I’m just running every day. I know that this isn’t the best thing for me, but as far as stress management it was my easy button in 2020.

What I’ve Been Reading

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz. (3.75 stars). I was being intentional about reading this at the beginning year, because I had heard that it was must read for self-development book fans. I really thought the 4 agreements were fantastic reminders. 1) Be Impeccable With Your Word. 2) Don’t Take Anything Personally. 3)Make Assumptions. 4) Always Do Your Best. My only complaint with this book is even though it is short, it’s highly repetitive. I think he did this as to basically beat this idea into our heads… but still sometimes I found my mind wandering away.

Writers & Lovers: A Novel

Writers and Lovers, by Lily King. (5 stars). I can’t stop thinking about this book… I don’t know what it was about, but it was addicting. It gave all the Normal People, and Fleabag vibes that I was missing. Here’s a quick plot synopsis; Casey is a 31 year old struggling novelist. All her creative friends have given up, but she is holding onto her dream of publishing a novel. She is now dealing with the grief of her mother’s death, trying to not completely drown further in debt, and dating multiple men. This book has the odd combination of being a cynical, yet optimistic view of life… and I dig it. It is also a quiet kind of story, but it feels like it gets under your skin.

The Sun Down Motel

The Sun Down Motel, by Simone St. James. (2.5 stars). Hmmm, this book had some pretty great recommendations, but it wasn’t for me. It has a supernatural element, with the feel of a true crime documentary. It’s a ghost story with a dual-timeline that bounces back and forth between present time & 1982 in Upstate New York. Carly, from the present time, is a young woman who decides to investigate what happened to her aunt that went missing in the 80’s. I found this one lacked some depth in the characters, I just kept wishing for some details that made me want to root for them a bit more. But like I said, some people just loved it!

The New Wilderness

The New Wilderness, by Diane Cook. (3 stars). This was a debut novel that had a plot I was fascinated about. It’s set in the future, in a world that is run over with waste and overpopulation. Bea, has the opportunity to take her sick child to the Wilderness in hopes that she will thrive. They trade in the luxuries of modern life, they go, and they live as nomads of the land with a group of other like minded people. From here, the story is full of adventure, situations that make the reader’s heart pound. The first 1/2 of the story was incredible. I was completely sucked into this story, and the world Diane Cook had created. But in the end it fell flat in a way that felt like Lord of the Flies gone terribly wrong.

Bridgerton: The Duke and I (Bridgertons Book 1)

The Duke and I, by Julia Quinn. (3 stars). I picked up this book only because I had to read it before diving into the Netflix sensation Bridgerton. And the book was okay, and it is part of a large series… which I’m assuming gets more layered throughout each book. I did enjoy the way she had written part of it from the narration of an anonymous writer for a newsletter… it gave the book a really gossipy feel. It is a book to pick up when you want an easy, breezy, historical romance. It’s set in the Regency era, so the customs of that time are quite funny to read about!

Leave the World Behind: A Novel

Leave the World Behind, by Rumaan Alam. (5 stars). This book blew me away, it did what I wanted The New Wilderness to do. I put it down, and was like WHOA! But be warned if you are in a fragile mental state about the pandemic, and how the world is… this may not be the best time to pick this book up. Here’s a quick synopsis; a White family is on vacation in a Hampton-esque like location. After some time doing the mundane, relaxing things we do on vacation, the Black couple whom owns the vacation home knocks on the door. Something big and unknown has caused a massive power outage in NYC. Then, things start to get real. I LOVED this book so much. It had the angsty, privileged tone that can quell up some big feelings in a reader. But beware, the ending is not tied up in a pretty bow. I found this book fascinating as it’s an interesting look at how different people respond in crises.

What You Wish For: A Novel

What You Wish For, by Katherine Center. (2.75 stars). I love Katherine Center’s book for when you want something really engrossing, on the lighter side, but can envoke big emotions. This one just missed the marked for me… but the end did redeem it a little bit for me! Sam Casey is a school librarian who loves her job, the school, and her fellow teachers. Then one day, Sam’s old co-worker enters as the new Principal… and it seems he is he is wanting to change the way the school is running. This changes the way she feels about her job, and she hopes to stop these changes. Like I said, this book just wasn’t for me… for a book that was supposed to be an easy read, it felt like I had to work to read it.

Everything Is F*cked: A Book About Hope

Everything is F*cked, by Mark Manson. (4 stars). This book was great. It was exactly what I needed at the right time. Right now, it’s easy to feel like everything is f*cked. I actually say this to my husband all the time… but we also live in a world that media perpetuates “doom” news. So this book is basically a good deep dive into the history of hope, and why it seems like there is no hope right now in a world that has endless opportunities. Highly suggest reading this book to give you perspective on the way the world is right now, and how to find ways to manage the feelings that brings on.

News of the World, by Paulette Jiles. (5 stars). This book has been on my shelf for easily 3 years, and I cannot believe this beautiful book has just been waiting for me to finally pick it! Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd delivers news to the small towns and cities in 1870. While on the road he is offered a fifty dollar gold piece to deliver Johanna, an orphan who was a captive of the Kiowa raiders, to her Uncle and Aunt. She’s unable to speak English, but the two develop a bond as they cross dangerous landscape to get her home. Oh man, this book gives me goosebumps. It’s relatively short, but it packs a big emotional punch. I highly recommend it.

Perestroika in Paris: A novel

Perestroika in Paris, by Jane Smiley. (4.5 stars). I heard about this book on one of the Top Ten lists from On the Front Porch podcast. It is a delightful book, and I think somebody who loved Black Beauty, or Where the Red Fern Grows, would love this book. Perestroika is a race horse at a track outside Paris. One day, she escapes… and upon looking for a place to live, she befriends a dog and a raven. Eventually the three encounter several humans, who become curious and enamoured with them. They all become intertwined in each other’s problems, and lives. This is a quiet story, but has such depth and so imaginative. I really loved the voices these animals had, and this book was the perfect distraction from the news.

Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City

Seven Fallen Feathers, by Tanya Talaga. (5 stars). This is a must read for Canadians. Tanya Talaga covers the lives and deaths of seven Indigenous students in Thunder Bay. What Talaga has done is she has shone a light on the injustices, and racism in this town, but she has also told the problematic truth about a country in which this exists. I think this should be essential reading for Canadians, throughout this book I was shocked, and appalled about the hard truths that were told about the injustices and the state of some of the Reservations. I would compare this book to the Canadian version of Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson.

The Break

The Break, by Katherine Vermette. (4.5 stars). There couldn’t have been a more perfect book to follow up Seven Fallen Feathers with than this one. The Break starts of with Stella, a young Métis mother living in Winnipeg, who has witnessed a violent assault in which she decides to wait inside. Four hours later, the police finally show up, and the victim has left a puddle of blood in the snow. From here, as this crime is investigated, a generational family story is told. Katherine Vermette takes the reader through all the families back history, and the town’s history with racism against the Métis. It is a book that is full of love, generational trauma, and the aftershocks that racism creates.

The Secrets We Kept

The Secrets We Kept, by Lara Prescott. (4 stars). Here’s another one that’s been on my shelf for awhile, and I hadn’t felt overly compelled to pick it up. WHY?!?! It’s so good. It’s one of those dual setting novels, flashing back and forth between the East (Russia) and the West (U.S.A.) in the 1950’s. It’s a spy story, and love story of Boris Pasternak and his novel, Dr. Zhivago, and his mistress. I had no idea just what a big deal this book was. And now I want to read it ASAP. The fact that the Russian’s wouldn’t publish it because it shone a light on how oppressed they were as a country… and much more… is fascinating to me. But also this story was told in a thriller style, with tons of historical facts peppered throughout. I just really loved it.

That’s all for today! I’m hoping to get the next round of reviews out mid February.

Thanks for reading 🙂

What I’ve Been Reading Lately (12/31/20)

Happy New Year’s Eve!!! And good-bye 2020.

I just wanted to fit in one more mini-review post before the end of the year. I’m hoping in the new year to make a little better effort at getting the reviews out in a more schedule fashion… but hopefully you can find something that you would enjoy to read here!

I will also be putting out a “Best of 2020 Books” post soon and some reading goals for the next year… I just wanted to make sure I had finished all the reading before I put that out! So stayed tuned for that.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately

How to Walk Away, by Katherine Centre. (3.75 stars). After hearing so many good reviews on all things Katherine Center, I finally picked this one up. And I just loved this highly addictive book. Margaret’s life is adding up to be pretty picture perfect. A soon-to-be fiancé, and a dream job around the corner… until a life changing accident happens. And her life is flipped upside down, and forever changed. She finds herself having to deal with challenging her body, dealing with family dynamics, and a big old heartbreak. This book is the type of book you can fly through, and but also has some heavy emotional punches. I really loved Center’s writing style, and can’t wait to dig into the rest of her catalogue.

Daughter of Black Lake, by Cathy Marie Buchanan. (3 stars). The premise of this book just fascinated me. Set in the first century A.D., in what is presumed to be Northern England, lies a settlement that set far from the the reach of Roman invaders. Life has a simple, repetitive nature. In which they need to provide food, and trade goods with neighbouring villages. Devout has become of age, and falls for a young man who has similar ideas about a future together. Then seventeen years later, the landscape, and Devout’s future had drastically changed. The threat of the Romans, and the influence of Druids, Devout’s family has found themselves in a threatening situation. Although the premise had me so intrigued, I found that the story was lacking a flow. It felt somewhat choppy… but I did find the plot interesting.

The Midnight Library: A Novel

The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig. (4.5 stars). I loved this book so much. I probably would have never picked it up, except I had been hearing great things about it. Then about 20pages into it, Matt Haig dropped a Fleetwood Mac reference… and I was hooked. Nora Seed, feels like she has nothing left to live for. So, she decides to end it. But, what she finds out is that between life and death there is a library. In this library around many different versions of her life. One’s with all the different ways her life would have gone if tiny little decisions were different. She has the chance to change things, and live her best life. This book was amazing, and deeply thought-provoking… and funny. I have put all kinds of Matt Haig’s books on hold at the library now, and can’t wait to dig in. Also, his instagram @mattzhaig is worth following!

The Witch Elm: A Novel

The Witch Elm, by Tana French. (3.75 stars). Okay… so yes, I’ve been on a bit of a journey with all Tana French this year. I love her SO much. This wasn’t the best one of her books… but still very good. Tana French just writes the best psychological components into her novels… and her setting makes you feel as if you are in Ireland. This one is follows Toby, who has suffered from a concussion/brain injury at the beginning of this novel, and then while trying to recover at his Uncle’s estate, a skull is found near the base of a Witch Elm tree. From here, the novel just twists and turns with the most unreliable narrator I’ve come across since Gone Girl. Again, this one wasn’t my fav, but I still enjoyed every second of it!

Group: How One Therapist and a Circle of Strangers Saved My Life

Group, by Christie Tate. (5 stars). I’m so glad I picked up this book… I didn’t feel compelled to read it when I read the summary, but about 2 paragraphs in I couldn’t put it down. I flew through it, and Christie Tate’s honesty, and vulnerability makes this book feel so personal. This is Christie’s story about how working with a therapist in group therapy saved her life. You get to know Christie at a visceral level, and you see the depth of the relationships she was able to create once she started to let people in. I just loved this book, and highly recommend it!

Crow Winter: A Novel

Crow Winter, by Karen McBride. (4 stars). I hate calling a book important, but I think this is one that is. It’s also highly readable. It’s the story of a young woman, Hazel, who decides to move back home to Spirit Bear Point First Nation with her mother. They are both dealing with the grief that they are trying to move through since Hazel’s father died. Upon her return, Hazel begins dreaming of a an old crow. Nanabush, the Algonquin demigod, has arrived to help her deal with her grief, and uncover her father’s secrets. This is a debut novel, that is beautiful, but also full of First Nations culture. I think it’s an important story that Canadians especially need to be reading.

Troubled Blood

Troubled Blood, by Robert Galbraith. First off let me say, I know this book has some problematic undertones, based on the transphobic comments that J.K.Rowling (who is actually Robert Galbraith) has been making on social media. I had put off reading this book for months, because I had icky feelings after learning that. But, I decided to read the book, and make up my own mind about the book itself… and in no way does that mean that I think what J.K. Rowling said was okay. Well, the book was fantastic. It’s the 5th instalment in the Cormoran Strike Series, and Strike and his partner Robin are yet again, solving a mystery that involves a cold case from 40 years ago. This book ended, and I’m already waiting for the 6th book to come out!!! Just keep in mind, this one is LONG.

Things You Save in a Fire: A Novel

Things You Save in a Fire, by Katherine Center. (4 stars). After reading that super long book, Troubled Blood, I need something that I could just immerse myself into. So I picked up this one. It follows Cassie, who is successful female firefighter, who gets a call from her estranged mother living across the country and needs help. It seems that fate has led her to the decision to actually move in her mother, and move from a progressive Fire Department, to one that is a little behind the times. I really enjoyed this book, Cassie is athletic, a little controlling, and hard to open up. But over time, she becomes able to change. It was also interesting as my hubby is a firefighter, and I thought it was a neat look inside the hall.

The Time Traveler's Wife

The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger. (5 stars). This book took me totally by surprise. I’ve heard so many people rave about this book, but I had watched the movie ages ago, and thought it was kind of “meh”. But, this book was just beautiful, and devastatingly romantic. Henry and Clare are in love, he being 28, she being 20. Over time, they have met each other many times, because Henry is a time traveler. And as they make their ways through their many lives, intersecting to work through the hard things, and the beautiful things, one thing remains the same… they are deeply in love. This is the type of book you finish, and you can’t stop thinking about the characters. I loved it. The idea of a time traveler had me somewhat rolling my eyes… but it’s done in the most believable way.

Us Against You, by Fredrik Backman. (4.5 stars). This is the follow up book to Beartown, so it’s the follow up to what happens to a small Swedish town where hockey is life. When one member of the team rapes a girl, the hockey team is divided, and disbanded… leaving everyone to pick a side and try to somehow pick up the pieces and figure out how to move forward. Fredrik Backman is a genius. He writes in the most interesting way, it’s almost like water circling it’s way to a drain. You feel like you are slowly putting together the pieces, and seeing it all from an outsider. It’s almost as if the town itself is the narrator. Anywho, highly suggest reading both Beartown, and Us Against You… they are just brilliant, and emotional, and very Swedish.

A Favourite Quote:

When I was reading The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger, there was the most beautiful quote from Henry… I felt like I had so much in common with him, and his relationship with running.

“Running is many things to me: survival, calmness, euphoria, solitude. it is proof of my corporeal existence, my ability to control my movement through space if not time, and the obedience, however temporary, of my body to my will. As I run I displace air, and things come and go around me, and the path moves like a filmstrip beneath my feet.”

What I’ve been Reading Lately (11/23/20)

Hey friends,

It’s time for a quick round up of the books that I’ve recently read! The plethora of amazing books that have come out recently is incredible, and I hope you will share with me if you’ve read a newly published book that was wonderful. That’s the exact reason why I started this blog… I just needed an outlet to talk about books. So I hope you drop a recent book you’ve loved in the comments for me 🙂

What I’ve Been Reading Lately:

The Unquiet Dead, by Ausma Zehanat Khan. (3.75 stars). I picked this book up on a whim when I found out it was based in Scarborough, and a police procedural series… I have a thing for books like this. Detective Rachel Getty gets called out by her boss Esa Khattak to investigate a death (possibly murder) of Christopher Drayton. What the two uncover is that Drayton has been living under an alias, in attempts to cover up a terrible past. These types of books are fantastic, because you are first introduced to characters that are intriguing, it has a driving plot, but I also learned A LOT about the Bosnian War, and the war crimes that were committed. Highly recommend if you like literary mysteries! And I have a feeling his series will only get more intriguing.

Before the Crown, by Flora Harding. (4 stars). I have been looking forward to the new season of The Crown since the minute I finished the third season. So when I purchased this book on a Kobo deal, I thought it may be a nice read right before the new season of The Crown came out. I was totally right. This book is a fictional account of Princess Elizabeth, and Phillip Mountbatten’s meeting, and engagement. I’ve always been fascinated by the Royals, and if you are too this is a great book to pick up!

The Searcher: A Novel by [Tana French]

The Searcher, by Tana French. (5 stars). Let me start off by saying, not everyone loved this book… some people were kind of meh. But I adored it. French’s writing makes you feel as if you are in Ireland, and swearing like a sailor. She also has this way of bringing out the depth of what being human is. It’s literary mystery at it’s finest. Cal Hooper is a retired cop, and newly moved from Chicago to a small village in Ireland. He’s fixing up his decrepit new home, when a local kid asks him for help in finding his sibling who went missing. Also, you should know that Tana French has this witty, snarky sense of humour! I just love it, and am now trying to be patient to read the last Tana French book in her backlog.

His Only Wife, by Peace Adzo Medie. (4.5 stars). This book is also fantastic, in a whole different way! It’s a look inside a different culture, and the injustices within a woman’s world. Afi is a smart, and beautiful young woman… and has been convinced by her mother to marry a man she does not know. He is a successful, wealthy man, living outside Ghana, and upon being married she is thrusted into a new, extremely comfortable life. The only problem is, this man is not as invested in the relationship. He may show up for dinner, he may not. He may be gone for days, or home for the night. And soon it becomes apparent to Afi that she has traded her happiness for a comfortable lifestyle for her family, and herself.

f

What I’ve Been Reading

Hello friends.

I feel like I say this a lot, but it’s been awhile. Such is Covid life… long time between chats, but so good to catch up when it happens.

This week has been a hard week to focus on anything, except the election. My screen time on my phone showed up this morning… and let’s just say it was a shocking increase!! What a whirlwind, and mixed bag of emotions. But now we are on the other side of it, and it’s like my brain has split wide open, and has some thoughts to share about these books!

If you are anything like me, the election has brought on a lot of anxiety. I feel like the whole world was watching & waiting… and now, it is a new beginning. Also, history has been made with the first female Vice President! I feel like the world took a deep breath Saturday afternoon with this news.

What I’ve been Reading Lately:

The Trespasser: A Novel (Dublin Murder Squad Book 6) by [Tana French]

The Secret Place (3.75 stars) and The Trespasser (5 stars) by Tana French. These books are part of the Dublin Murder Squad… finishing up that series for me. I’m hoping that Tana French pumps out more in this series though. What I love about it is that each book is narrated through a different character on the Squad. The setting is so wonderfully created, that you feel the dampness of Ireland, and the darkness of these storylines. The best part is you see these characters pump up throughout the series making little guest appearances. Out of the two of these books, The Trespasser hit it out of the park for me. The plot was a cold case at a boarding school, in which one of the past murder squad narrators daughter had been attending. Antoinette Conway comes onto the crime scene with guns blazing and finally figures out what happened.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, by V.E. Schwab. (5 stars). I have so much love for this book. It’s a cross-genre type of book, mixing historical fiction, with some magical realism/fantasy. It starts off in 1600’s France with a young Addie LaRue, who is being forced to marry. She is not happy, and befriends a woman who uses the earth as her healing… aka… a witch. On her own accord, Addie strikes a deal not knowing what that it is a trade. She gains her freedom, but ends up living an immortal life, in which no one ever remembers her. Until one day, she meets someone who does remember her. It’s such a beautiful story, with exquisite writing. V.E. Schwab mastered the art of telling an unbelievable story with believable & relatable characters. It gave me all the feelings that City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert gave me. Just read it.

I Let You Go, by Clare Mackintosh. (3.5 stars). This book is one that you really want to find out what is happening… I’d call it a thriller, with heart. It starts off on a rainy afternoon, and a mother is walking her son home from school. She lets go of his hand, and in a moment her whole life is shattered. The Bristol police initially investigate this case, but as they are a loss for any leads, it becomes a cold case… until it is re-opened. There is a lot of twists in this book, some I honestly thought were not very believable… but it was still a great story. The author’s note in the end is what really made this book for me, so if you do read it, please read the author’s note!

A Rogue of One's Own (A League of Extraordinary Women Book 2) by [Evie Dunmore]

A Rogue of One’s Own, by Evie Dunmore. (4 stars). This is the second novel in the Evie Dunmore’s series, and it was just as good as the first one. I’m here for a book that is a mix of romance with some historical fiction. These books are about some of the powerful women behind suffragist movement. This one features Lady Lucie, and her band of Oxford women. She recently scrounged up enough to buy a publishing house… which means a great deal as these women can get the word out about the movement. One hitch is that Tristan Ballentine, is 50% owner… and he is an absolute stud, and player. The story takes off from here, and is such a great pace! Highly suggest this series, especially if you are looking for something fun, but with something to learn from it.

The Chestnut Man, by Søren Sveistrup. (5 stars). Holy shit, this was an excellent police procedural thriller!!!! It literally filled up the hole in my reading heart that has been left empty since reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Basically there is a serial killer who is terrorizing Copenhagen. His mark left with his victims is a tiny little chestnut man… and then after one victim, fingerprints of a missing girl from a cold case show up. This is one heck of a book, with all the dark setting vibes that is necessary for a thriller to be pulled off. I was worried that the serial killer on the loose plot would have me terrified, but it didn’t, I just felt the need to read this one fast. And at over 500 pages, I surprisingly flew through this one!

Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor E. Frankl This book should be essential reading for human beings. Giving it a star rating just doesn’t seem right! Viktor E. Frankl was an Austrian psychiatrist, neurologist, and author. He was also a survivor of the Holocaust. This book is unique in the sense that he does cover his experiences in concentration camps, but he also gives some insight to the psychology of the people in the camps, and the ability to find meaning to life after hard things. This book hit me at the right time, it was when the election was hitting it’s peak, and I had a lot of heavy feelings about a lot of things. I will share a quote at the end of this post that really made that heavy feeling on my chest let go a wee bit.


 The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, by Stuart Turton. (3 stars). I’m sure you have heard that saying, don’t judge a book by it’s cover?! Well, this is exactly why I picked this book up, because I thought that such a gorgeous cover could only translate into a great book. This one was okay… I found myself flip-flopping my opinion from great, to WTF, this whole novel. It’s set in an English manor, and there is a big party about to happen. Evelyn Hardcastle is the beautiful daughter of the manor, and then they find her murdered. Over and over again, Evelyn will be murdered, until the guests invited can solve her murder. This had all the Downton Abbey, meets Agatha Christie, meets Groundhog Day vibes. If that makes one bit of sense to you, you might really enjoy this book! Tons of reader’s just adore it, I thought it was a bit confusing, but a very different, ambitious plot.

Magic Lessons, by Alice Hoffman. (4.5 stars). This is my second Alice Hoffman book, and I think now she is on my must-read author list. Magic Lessons is the prequel to Practical Magical… the movie with Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock… that’s also a novel. It’s the beginning story of the Owen’s, set in 1600’s England to start, and then eventually making their pilgrimage to New York. In between there a ton of old herbal medicine facts, real characters from/behind the Salem Witch trials, and an interesting look into what the beginnings of New York was like. Hoffman’s writing is so magical, but she also makes it planted in reality. I will now be reading all Hoffman’s backlist!

A Quote to Ponder:

“For the world is in a bad state, but everything will become worse unless each of us does his best.” Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning.

This quote was exactly what I needed to hear. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea “What’s the point in even trying to do good” mentality. We see so many people not caring, not trying to help that it feels pointless to try to do our best sometimes. But I know that if I do my best to try to learn about different races/cultures/points of views, be a respectful patron of the planet, and teach these things to my children, I have done my best.

So I ask you, are you doing your best? Are you doing the essential work? And the essential teaching?

What I’ve been Reading Lately (10/01/20)

Happy Fall!!

I hope everyone is ready to get cozy with a great book this fall. There are SO many titles being released right now. The pandemic had caused many books that were to be published earlier this year to be pushed back… so now we are seeing a great influx of books. And the one great gift 2020 has given us readers, is the quality of books being published are fantastic!

What I’ve Been Reading Lately:

Transcendent Kingdom

Transcendent Kingdom, by Yaa Gyasi. (4.5 stars). I’ve been looking forward to read this book since I put down Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel, Homegoing. This one was equally as beautiful as that one. Gifty is a student working towards her phD. She is studying the affects of opioid addiction, and basically why it affects some people, and not others. She was inspired to do this because of her sports star brother who was injured, and then ultimately killed by his opioid addiction. This book bounces back and forth between the time when her brother was alive, and to the present. She is working through her grief as she is struggling with her religious beliefs. Oh man, this writing is incredible, and the story is one that really stays with you as a reader. Highly suggest.

Greenwood: A Novel

Greenwood, by Michael Christie. (5 stars). This is easily one of my favourites of the year so far. It begins in 2034 with Jacinda Greenwood who is a trail guide in BC’s prestigious woods that are one of the only plentiful area’s left in North America. In 2008 Jake Greenwood is a carpenter, who has fallen off a ladder and broken his back in a remote worksite, with nobody to help him. In 1974, Willow Greenwood is an environmental activist, who travels around with her son protesting. Lastly, in 1934, Everett Greenwood is a grifter, living in the woods tapping maple trees, when he hears a baby cry out in the woods. This story is phenomenal, and the way it’s represented around trees, and like a tree’s growth increments is just beautiful. When I read the acknowledgements at the end, Christie named several novels that inspired this book… one being one of my all-time favs, The Wars by Timothy Findley. Just read this book, it’s a beautiful book covering topics that every human inhabiting this world should know.

Bringing Down the Duke (A League of Extraordinary Women Book 1)

Bringing Down the Duke, by Evie Dunmore. (4 stars). I initially picked this one up as a palace cleanser, as it’s toted as a historical romance… well this book is so much more. It follows Annabelle Archer who is one of the first female students at Oxford University, and a champion of the women’s suffrage movement. This is set during the reign of Queen Victoria who was NOT a fan of the women’s suffrage movement… which I found fascinating. Anywho, the romance starts when she tries to recruit an influential male, who happens to be a Duke. I really liked this twist of historical fiction, blended with a kick-ass who heroine who CAN fall in love. A really fun, fast read based in historical facts!

Eight Perfect Murders: A Novel (Malcolm Kershaw)

Eight Perfect Murders, by Peter Swanson. (3 stars). I really enjoyed this book, until the last 20 pages… so I think that says more about my taste, than the book being great or not. It follows Malcolm Kershaw, owner/bookseller/book blogger, who wrote a blog post about the 8 best murders in books. One day when Malcolm is working away, an FBI agent visits the store, who is investigating a crime and needs his help to solve it. Obviously the context of this mystery book totally hooked me, and it also helped me build an even larger TBR list… but like I said the ending fell flat for me.

A Burning

A Burning, by Megha Majumdar. (4 stars). This one is got my attention recently when it was being compared to Yaa Gyasi’s work. This novel is centred around Jivan, a muslim girl living in the slums in India. After a recent terrorist attack at a train station, Jivan posted a criticism of the government. This post made her the scapegoat for this attack, and she is now on trial for this crime. Two other characters this story is told from is PT Sir, a teacher, and an aspiring politician, and Lovely, who is a friend of Jivan, and can give her an alibi. This story is a very engaging one. It brings up big conversation topics like class, politics, the transgender community in India, and justice. Majumdar is from the area in which her novel is set, and this is her debut novel. I felt so invested into this novel, and can’t wait to read her next novel.

That’s all for today. Hope you find something you like to read, and until next time, happy reading!!

All The Devils Are Here, by Louise Penny

Thank the BOOK GODS that Louise Penny still published a book this year. I was so afraid that 2020, being the year that it is, something would happen and the new Gamache book would not be released.I think you all know by know just how dear this series is to me. Louise Penny’s writing is absolutely magical, and the fact that these are a mystery that can make me cry just speaks volumes.

Today instead of a whole bunch of mini-reviews, I’m going to give you a spoiler-free review of All the Devils Are Here. Stay tuned for an end of summer mini-review session soon… but this book is just too amazing to not unpack it in detail 🙂

All the Devils Are Here is the 16th novel in the Gamache series. The Gamaches are celebrating with a family dinner upon arriving in Paris at a bistro in which Armand’s godfather, Stephen Horowitz is at. When they are walking home after Stephen is hit by a car, and extremely injured. Gamache, and his former second-in-command, and now son-in-law, Beauvoir, has no question that this was a hit on his life. And from here the twists just keep coming. In typical Gamache style, he attempts to unwind this mystery in a stoic fashion, whilst trying to mend pieces of the past with his son.

At about halfway I found myself yearning to be in Three Pines during this novel about halfway through. I do love Paris, like really love. The city’s luminosity is just so hard to explain to people who haven’t experienced it… but it just felt a bit weird to be missing some of the Three Pines characters that bring so much life to the Gamache novels. BUT, I do think she did such a wonderful job developing some other characters in this one that is crucial for this series to keep it’s momentum… and then just when I missed Three Pines, Penny redeemed herself. I can’t go into too much details without giving it all away… but she wrapped this novel up so beautifully and had me sobbing at the end.

This book is obviously full of murder, and deceit, but also so full of family and the love that exists within it. I just love these books, and hope everyone loves them. When someone actually tells me that they didn’t like the first one, I’m just like, well just shut up and read the next one… I promise you won’t regret it! Penny plants little clues to the things that pop up at the end, and when they happen I found myself going “ahhhhhh, that’s what that was for!”.

This book is also full of some fascinating history about the city of Paris. I feel like I already knew a lot about Paris, but learning about the Hotel Lutetia and their involvement in the Nazi trials, and also about different landmarks around the city that I just thought were beautiful monuments. Now you must read the book to learn about these things!

Lastly, the acknowledgments. These also left me sobbing. Louise Penny’s acknowledgements are sometimes the most beautiful part of the novels. She really sums up the human spirit she injects in the novel, and the reasons why she wrote the characters, and places in the way she does.

Okay, so have I convinced you yet??? If you need more convincing, go listen to the most recent episode of Currently Reading Podcast to hear Meredith just gushing about it too. Below I’m going to include the order in which the books MUST be read. If you bounce around, please don’t tell me… my bookish heart can’t take it!

The Armand Gamache Series:

  • Still Life
  • A Fatal Grace
  • The Cruelest Month
  • A Rule Against Murder
  • The Brutal Telling
  • Bury Your Dead
  • A Trick of the Light
  • The Beautiful Mystery
  • How the Light Gets In
  • The Long Way Home
  • The Nature of the Beast
  • A Great Reckon0ing
  • Glass Houses
  • Kingdom of the Blind
  • A Better Man
  • All the Devils Are Here

That’s all for today, and like I said, stay tuned for a Summer Mini-Review session coming out soon.