Waiting for Eden, by Elliot Ackerman

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While in one of my deep, dark rabbit holes of lurking Instagram one evening, I saw two ladies whose book taste I really trust had posted about Waiting for Eden. They had both said similar things in that it’s a small novel, that will give you all the feelings. So yes, I put it on hold at my library and it came in days later.

Eden Malcom is in a hospital bed, stuck in a body that is no longer recognizable, and even worse he is imprisoned in his own mind unconscious. He will never be the same, and never get to see friend and fellow soldier who didn’t survive the attack in a war-torn country. His wife, Mary, spends her days on the couch waiting for him to wake up, and torn between who she should be with, Eden or their daughter. When Mary makes the hard decision to go home for Christmas, she gets a call that Eden has gained consciousness. He begins to try to communicate to the nurses, his wife, and to his friend who has died. You learn the couples troubled past, through love, loyalty, and acceptance.

Holy smokes, this is a little novel, coming in at 192 pages with small pages, but as sparse as it may look to a reader, it packs a big punch. The telling of this story is so important, for me it created so many feelings of empathy. You sit infront of your television, or computer, and have probably all heard the stories of the lives that soldiers have lost. You think of they families, and you have all the feelings. Then what happens, is you get up and go on with your day, and forget about it. This story makes you crawl into the skin of the family who has been deeply affected by the atrocities of war.

What Waiting for Eden isn’t, is… is a happy book. It will leave you feeling a little shattered. You learn the past of their relationship is rocky, but you see a wife who rallies to be by her husband’s side. It’s so moving, and sad. But very necessary.

The author, Elliot Ackerman, has served 5 tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and is the recipient of the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for Valor, and the Purple Heart. I can’t help but wonder how much of this novel has been written as a way for him to deal the the terrible things he’s seen, heard, and experienced.

Stay warm, friends, and I hope you are curled up under a blanket with a book that you don’t want to stop reading 🙂

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The Proposal, Jasmine Guillory

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Okay, confession time… I would have said a couple books back that I don’t waste my time reading “chick-lit”. But this book is more than that!! After reading The Kiss Quotient, it was recommended to me that I pick up The Proposal… so I did!! Oh my goodness. If I didn’t have a household of people pulling me in every direction, I would have sat down, and devoured this whole book in a sitting. It was SO. DAMN. GOOD!!!

Deciding to spend your life together shouldn’t be a surprise.

When freelance writer Nikole Paterson goes to a Dodgers game with her actor boyfriend, his man bun, and his bros, the last thing she expects is a scoreboard proposal. Said actor boyfriend is a complete fool, whom Nik had no intention of anything other than sex. So when he proposes, her genuine shock and NO floors him and the whole crowd at the Dodgers game.

At the game with his sister, Carlos comes to Nik’s rescue and whisks her away from a camera crew by pretending to know her. Well, let’s just say from here the two can’t stop thinking about each other… Each not wanting anything serious the two embark on an rebound, filled with food, fun, and fantastic sex. But when their glorified hookups start breaking the rules, one of them gets realized the feelings are a little more serious!!

Where do I start?? How about the diversity in the characters… Nik is a successful black woman, Carlos is a super hot paediatrician, Nik’s friends include a lesbian, and a chunky Korean cupcake maven… I just loved the cast! What was so great about this book was there were no dull moments, it rolled along so well that at one point I realized I had reading 150 pages in a sitting… and that never happens! There was also a really background plot of Nik dealing with some past negative relationship stuff… she even joined a women’s self-defence class to help her overcome some of her self-doubt. In this day in age, Nik’s character is just the bomb. She’s a strong female presence, who finally decides that letting a man see the real vulnerable her doesn’t make her any less of the woman she’s worked on becoming.

Reading two well-written, extremely fun, “chick-lit” novels recently has taught me that when I previously judged the genre, I was knocking it before I tried it. I will now be opening up my mind to books that are in this genre. I think that there is a time and place for every book IF it’s well-written!!! I love to read diverse novels, with complex characters, and big issues. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be super fun. This book makes you remember that feeling when you were a kid, curled up around a book and hoping that no one interrupts you!

Until next time, stay warm & keep reading!

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman

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I recently picked this book up off my TBR shelf. I spent a delightful hour long conversation at my local bookstore (Hunter Street Books) with a bookseller there. Turns out we had very similar taste in books, and she handsold me Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. This novel reminded me so much of The Rosie Project. It was creative, funny, and also tragic.

This isn’t a spoiler at all, but it turns out Eleanor Oliphant is NOT completely fine. Eleanor is struggling socially, and has the habit of truly speaking her mind. She isolates herself from human contact, and spends her weekends eating frozen pizza, and drowning herself in vodka. Here enters Raymond, her co-worker, who helps her take care of an elderly man who has fallen. This experience has bonded Eleanor and Raymond, and it turns out they each can help each other’s damaged hearts.

Time only blunts the pain of loss. It doesn’t erase it.

I am usually not a fan of “fun” books. I like a really dark, introspective novel. I like when a book makes me reflect and think a lot. But this book just brought together those two worlds for me. Eleanor, within 20 pages of this novel, has decided to get her first waxing of her nether regions. That scene had me dying of laughter. I actually chatted about this scene to a friend who also read this book, and we both teared up for the laughs.

Then this novel had me welling up at certain points. Eleanor’s childhood, you find out, has jaded her. She has shoved this childhood down so far within her in hopes she wouldn’t have to deal with the emotions that came along with the trauma. Now, at 30 years old, we watch Eleanor deal with her traumatic childhood, and climb out of her socially anxious box.

Although it’s good to try new things and to keep an open mind, it’s also extremely important to stay true to who you really are.

This book was such a gem. Like I said earlier, it made me have the same feelings that The Rosie Project did. I loved, and will be recommending it completely to many different types of readers.

Until next time… Happy Sunday, bookish friends!

 

One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel García Márquez

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I think most readers have a list of books that in their lifetime they want to have read. One Hundred Years of Solitude is on that great big list of books I want to read, so when our book club had it come up as the next one to read I was thrilled to finally have the push to crack it’s spine.

One Hundred Years of Solitude is an epic family story that spans 100 years of their lives throughout this novel. Gabriel García Márquez is a Nobel Prize Winner, and is said to have written this novel based on the stories his grandmother told. Along with the family story, it is a story based in the magical realism genre, and García Márquez is said to be the creator of it. It was incredible how the setting was so real to life, then in the next sentence something out of this world was happening. There was contagious insomnia, people eating dirt, and also coming back from the dead! Below is a quote that I think is such a great example of why this novel is so unique and brilliant:

A trickle of blood came out under the door, crossed the living room, went out into the street, continued on in a straight line across the uneven terraces, went down steps and climbed over curbs, passed along the Street of the Turks, turned a corner to the right and another to the left, made a right angle at the Buendía house, went in under the closed door, crossed through the parlor, hugging the walls so as not to stain the rugs, went on to the other living room, made a wide curve to avoid the dining-room table, went along the porch with the begonias, and passed without being seen under Amaranta’s chair as she gave an arithmetic lesson to Aureliano José, and went through the pantry and came out in the kitchen, where Úrsula was getting ready to crack thirty-six eggs to make bread.

This is the type of classic that you will feel strongly one way of the other… love or hate. I loved it. I felt like with every page the writing was making me feel smarter, and develop a deeper understanding of what great literature is. BUT, here’s the thing, this isn’t the type of book you can blast through. Each sentence requires such attention that I think this is why some people will not be able to read it or enjoy it.

García Márquez used this novel to also intertwine historical Columbian events such as, the Thousand Days’ War and, the Banana Plague. Along with these events, there were some big themes on solitude, fate, and the parallels that the novel ran with Catholicism. I love when a fictional novel can expand your knowledge on something you didn’t know, and for me, that is why reading is so powerful.

So friends, that’s all I have to say on this one! I’d love to hear if you’ve read it, or what book(s) is on your lifetime list.

Until next time, happy reading, friends!

 

 

 

I Was Anastasia, by Ariel Lawhorn

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I Was Anastasia was the book that I waited for on hold at the library for a LONG time. Between the hold list, and all the buzz in the bookish world, when I got this book in my hot little hands, I was pretty excited to crack it open.

This novel flops back and forth between two timelines. One being Russia, 1918, at the height of the revolution with Anastasia Romanov, and the entire imperial family, where they are forced into a damp basement in Siberia where their fate has brought them in front of a merciless firing squad. None survive. At least that is what the executioners have always claimed. The second timeline is Germany, 1920, when a young woman who closely resembles Anastasia Romanov is pulled from a freezing cold canal. This young woman claims to be the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia. From here, the reader is forced to try to make sense of whether this is or isn’t the real Anastasia.

Countless others have rendered their verdict. Now it is your turn.

This novel had great potential for me. I love historical fiction, and an interpretation on what really may have happened at a point in history. But this book, despite all the buzz, fell flat for me. I felt like the plot was could have been sensational, but the thread that should have held the book together just was not compelling at all to me. I felt this book lacked a passion behind it’s writing.

What I will tell you though is this book has been either a huge hit, or a huge miss for readers. I had reached out to some other readers over on Instagram and found that some people gave it a 5 star rating, and other’s were in the 2-3 range.  So my conclusion is that I think if you are a reader who love the bones of a book… great writing, and big themes, this may not be the book for you. But if you are the reader who loves a driving plot, and twists, this is one that you would probably really enjoy! I also think that this book could have some great discussion in a book club.

Please let me know what you think, I love hearing other opinions. Until next time, happy reading!

 

Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood

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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!

the Arrangement, by Sarah Dunn

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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!!!