What I’ve Been Reading Lately

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Hey there!

I hope you are all keeping well. I can’t even believe that we are approaching mid-August. This past year has just flown by, and my Gramma has always said that it just continues to get faster and faster every year.

I recently had a birthday, which means I’m now 33. It’s crazy to think that I am here now, but this turbulent year has just brought some positive realizations. I made a shorter IG post about this, but I’m going to share an extended version here. I hope it encourages you to reflect on your year so far, and what it’s brought for you! Here they are:

  • To slow down, and be more engaged. Conversations, playing and learning with my kids, and during a meal.
  • It’s shown me that it’s okay to be imperfect, and non-striving. Right now is what’s important for now.
  • To hug long and hard, because hugging may not always be a given.
  • That I can be a mother, but also run fast. It’s okay to still want my own thing.
  • I have grey hair (thanks covid), and big hats, and skin cream are key.
  • That Fleetwood Mac can fix anybody’s bad mood.
  • Daily chocolate breaks are a must.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately:

Beach ReadBeach Read, by Emily Henry. (3 stars). This book is exactly the title. A beach read. I had kept hearing it had a really sweet plot, but also had some depth… I just thought it actually really lacked depth. A quick synopsis: When January, a best-selling romance writer, retreats to her recently passed father’s lake house to break her writer’s block, she finds herself right next door to her school rival, and literary fiction author, Augustus Everett. These two banter back and forth, and then make a bet to switch genres, and try to write a best seller. This book has a cute premise, but like I said, I was just hoping that it would be a little deeper.

Hamnet and Judith: A novelHamnet & Judith, by Maggie O’Farrell. (5 stars). OMG, this book!!!!!!!!! I cannot even begin to grasp the amount of emotional stress I was put under while reading this book. I just LOVED it. It is one of my favourites that has been published this year. It’s the fictional account of Shakespeare’s son, Hamnet, and how his young life was cut short. It’s mostly told from Shakespeares wife’s perspective, who I think is just a badass witchy mom. She was the one who nurtured and held the family together in the country, while Shakespeare was writing, (philandering), and performing in London. I actually don’t even think O’Farrell even mentions Shakespeare’s name in this novel, which I think was brilliant. These types of stories in which we get a typically background character in history, just thrown into the forefront, and seeing their perspective of history are just amazing! It gave me all the The Book of Longings and Circe vibes. Highly recommend. And now I will be reading her whole catalogue of books!

The Night Portrait: A Novel of World War II and da Vinci's Italy

The Night Portrait, by Laura Morelli. (4 stars). I was sent this book from Harper Collins as an ARC, and was really intrigued about the plot. (It’s publishing date is set for Sept. 2020). Essentially you have two stories lines that eventually meet up with each other. You are thrusted back and forth between the 1400’s when Leonardo Da Vinci has been hired to paint the Duke of Milan’s lover, and then in WWII following a German art expert, and the Monument Men. They are bound by a painting called Lady with an Ermine. Anyways, Laura Morelli has a PhD in art history, so her author’s note states that she had tried to keep everything as close to the true events in history… So I really loved learning about this part of history. It’s absolutely mind-boggling how much art had been procured by the Germans during WWII, and Da Vinci’s storyline was also quite compelling! I had no idea he was a vegetarian. This is perfect for people who love historical fiction.

ROAR: How to Match Your Food and Fitness to Your Unique Female Physiology for Optimum Performance, Great Health, and a Strong, Lean Body for Life

Roar, by Stacy T. Sims. (4.5 stars). This book is basically essential reading for active women. I have finished reading it, but will probably never finish re-reading it. Her motto is “Women are not small men”, and preaches that we have to stop comparing ourselves to what works for them. I really loved her approach, and have implemented MANY of her suggestions that are really just small tweaks to my diet and exercise regime. She even talks about syncing food/exercise with your cycles/menopause/pregnancy… which I found fascinating! Women are so hormone driven that this only makes sense. I also love that she preaches eating well, and plentiful. Lots of active women deprive themselves of nutrients, but our bodies need fuel!

Home Before Dark: A Novel

Home Before Dark, by Riley Sager. (4 stars). I really loved this book, and just couldn’t put it down. It was a Rebecca meets Stephen King mash up… it serves up a very descriptive setting, with those big, creepy house vibes. This is basically a ghost story. After the death of her father, Maggie is left the house that her family had fled from 25 years earlier because they believed it was haunted. Maggie’s father actually wrote a best-selling true crime novel about their experience in the house, and Maggie has no recollection of their time spent there… other than his book. When she returns she has full intentions to renovate and sell it, but she starts to dig into the truth of her family, and the house’s dark past. It’s really good, and I really loved the nod to classic thriller tropes.

That’s all for today, happy reading!

 

 

What I’ve been Reading Lately 07/28/2020

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Hi friends,

I made a challenge this summer to read some BIG BOOKS. It’s really easy for me to get caught up in the hype of reading what’s new and hot. Because of this fact, I tend to not choose books that are longer, because they take more time. They tend to grow on you, and you need to give them their time.

To qualify as a big book, in my head, it has to be over 500 pages. I have a ton of these doorstoppers on my to be read bookshelf. The Poisonwood Bible, and Broken Harbour were two really big books on my shelf! So I’m slowly knocking away it, and remembering how much a love a really big book that I can dig my literary teeth into.

Lastly, before we move onto the books, I wanted to share with you a quick recipe. I made these Healthier Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, and they are bomb. My family and I are really enjoying eating them!!

What I’ve been Reading Lately:

The Poisonwood Bible: A NovelThe Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver. (5 stars). This is the story told from the perspectives of the mother/wife, and four daughters of an evangelical Baptist, who decides to take his family into the Congo on mission. This is a powerful story in which the characters trade off chapters, and Kingsolver has done an incredible job of making each character so well formed. I just loved her use of setting, and the way she wove the tumultuous political time that this country was going through, all while telling the story of this family. BUT, there is one chapter, that was absolutely gorgeous, and it’s told from the mother’s point of view about motherhood… this chapter made me weep, and hold my babies just a little closer.

The Black FlamingoThe Black Flamingo, by Dean Atta. (4.5 stars). Michael is a half Jamaican, half Greek Cypriot boy growing up in London. He knows from an early age that something is different about him. He’s mixed race, loves to dress like the girls in his class, and would rather have a barbie for his birthday. This is Michaels coming-of-age story, and his journey to accepting his identity. It is told in verse, and has poems sprinkled throughout it… it also has an epic Drag performance at the end. This book is truly a work of art, from the way it is compiled, to beautiful words.

Broken Harbour: Dublin Murder Squad:  4.  Winner of the LA Times Book Prize for Best Mystery/Thriller and the Irish Book Award for Crime Fiction Book of the YearBroken Harbour, by Tana French. (3 stars). This is book 4 of the Dublin Murder Squad series… I just LOVED 2,3. But this one reminded me a bit of the first one in the series… I really love the way that Tana French writes, she’s really witty, and builds suspense in a slow, but compelling way. Scorcher Kennedy has been on the squad for years, and has the best solved crime rate on the department. Then he’s called to a case that has everyone confused. Husband, wife, and two children brutally murdered, with absolutely no trail. Then they find out that the wife is actually still alive, and from here he has to try to pull out what little details she remembers. I liked this book okay, but it wasn’t absolutely riveting like the last two books in the series. I will read the next ones for sure though!

The Sight of YouThe Sight of You, by Holly Miller. (4 stars). This one really surprised me, and I read it really fast… I really love a “beach read” that’s something you can’t put down, but has some really deep themes and makes you think. This one hit that sweet spot. When Callie and Joel meet in a cafe, they are both kind of over trying to find love. Joel has sworn off it, and Callie is still slightly open, but not wanting to pursue. They finally bite the bullet and meet each other in the middle. The only problem is that Joel has an unusual gift of dreaming the future. This is why love has always failed for him in the past, he sees the future, and can’t enjoy the moment. This is their life, and love story, and it’s surprisingly touching.

A Quote:

I’m going to leave you with a quote that spoke to me so deeply from The Poisonwood Bible. It’s from that chapter I talked about it in the synopsis, and it brought me to tears as I read it. The mother is talking about how she loves her children all so differently, and how she was only trying to do the best she could for each one of them… and it just hit him. Anyways, here it is:

A first child is your own best foot forward, and how you do cheer those little feet as they strike out. You examine every turn of flesh for precocity, and crow it to the world. But the last one: the baby who trails her scent like a flag of surrender through your life when there will be no more coming after–oh, that’ s love by a different name.

That’s all for today. Hope you are well and reading some great books!

Hollie 🙂

 

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Oh, hey there!! Let me apologize right off the bat, because the formatting in this post has me perplexed. I cannot fix, so bear with me.

It’s been a bit… I feel like I’ve been saying that a lot lately. Anyways, here we are, halfway through 2020. And let’s just all agree that this has been a rollercoaster of a year so far! I don’t think I need to go into specifics, as we are all in the same place. But one thing I know for sure, that the halfway point throughout the year always has me reflecting on my reading life. And this year I’ve read so many great books!!

Here’s why I think that’s been happening…

  • It could be the fact that there are great books being published.
  • I think I’ve gotten the science of picking books I really enjoy down.
  • I don’t waste time on books that don’t grab my attention.
  • Finding my book twins on IG, podcasts, and in real life. You know who you are, because I always tell you! So thank you for sharing great books with me 🙂
  • Mood reading. Current events, mindsets, and seasons… all these things go into considering what I want to read. Just because a book is a great book, doesn’t mean it’s a great book for the time you are in your life.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately:

The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead. (3.75 stars). There are two types of readers… one sees the Pulitzer Prize sticker on a book and picks up immediately, the other doesn’t even consider. This is definitely worth reading, and a very timely book at that. This novel follows Cora, a slave, who is trying to escape her master, and bounty hunter. Along this journey, Cora is helped by many people, and gets on a real Underground Railroad. Like there is literally tracks, stations, and what not all below the soil in which she is being hunted on. It really touches on the differences between States, and the experience of being a Black person in admist this horrifying time in history. There is a lot of abuse, and trauma, and it is a wonder that a human can persevere through it! And although this story was fantastic, Colson Whitehead’s writing is not my favourite style. But I know there are so many readers that sing his praises!
All Adults Here: A NovelAll Adults Here, by Emma Straub. (3.5 stars). If you are looking for a summer book that has some depth, I’d say this is a great, and quick read. You follow Astrid Strick, who is now a grandmother, mother, and widow. She witnesses a school bus accident, that results in the death of an acquaintance in her small town… this incident brings up a ton of old memories from when her children were growing up. From this event, the reader follows each member of the family and there individual lives problems. It’s a book that is all about family dynamics, and the drama that ensues within them. I really liked it, and found it to be a book that I could easily jump in and out of.

 

A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara. (5 Stars). Read this book. Holy smokes, I am still just so hungover from it. A Little Life follows four college classmates, Jude, Willem, Malcolm, and J.B., who have remained friends since they graduated. It follows their failures, their successes, addiction, and jealousies. The four men are all tied together by their loyalty to Jude, who had an awful childhood, but has always refused to speak about it. As they grow older, and their relationships change, as a reader, you feel some engrossed in their lives. This book had me weeping multiple times, and I know it will stay with me forever. It’s now one of my all-time favourites, and I will be recommending it for sure… to the right reader.

 

The Vanishing Half: A Novel
The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett. (4 stars). This is a very timely book right now, and also a much anticipated release after her last book The Mother’s. The Vanishing Half follows the Vignes twins who are light-skinned Black girls. They grew up in a small Black southern town, and at the age of 16 run away. After a couple years of trying to make it, the two are separated, and Desiree decides to go back to her hometown. Stella meets a White man, and decides to live a life as a White woman. The two grow up into women, and their different paths present different problems in their lives. They haven’t spoken, let alone even heard from each other in years… until their paths are forced to cross. I really enjoyed this book, Brit Bennett’s voice is being compared to Toni Morrison, and James Baldwin, and I just can’t wait until her next novel.

 

The Glass Hotel: A NovelThe Glass Hotel, by Emily St. John Mandel. (4.5 stars). Emily St. John Mandel also wrote the stunning novel, Station Eleven. So when I heard she was coming out with another one, I was excited. The premise of this novel is a Ponzi scheme gone wrong. It follows the lives of all the main players within this Ponzi scheme, and details the grey details, and the big repercussions that their lives had taken. The writing is absolutely magical. I was completely shocked that I cared so much about these characters, and was fascinated by the premise of just convinced humans can be of someone else’s good idea. I thought this book was fantastic, and it’s completely my kind of beach read… thought-provoking, thrilling, and a character study.

Nobody Will Tell You This But Me: A true (as told to me) storyNobody Will Tell You this But Me, by Bess Kalb. (5 stars). Okay, I can’t even write about this book without crying. First off, you must know just how special my Gramma Lisa is to me… so when I read this book it just brought up so many beautiful memories for me. I hope that you have a special grandmother in your life, and that this book brings up all the wonderful feelings it did for me. This is a memoir about the author’s relationship with her grandmother. She collected the stories, voicemails, and emails, and wrote a beautiful little book. I don’t even know where to begin with this one, but what I can say is it is truly a reflection on a beautiful life well-lived. There are sweet moments like putting on her grandmother’s lipstick and high heels, and then the next essay is about the things that were hard in her life. Buy it for your mother, your grandmother, but read it yourself first. My copy is marked up, dog-eared, and will be re-read for sure. I just LOVED it.

Saving Ruby King: A NovelSaving Ruby King, by Catherine Adel West. (4 stars). This is a debut novel, and it was captivating! It reminded a lot of a similar style as Brit Bennett. Ruby King’s mother, Alice, was found murdered in their home in Chicago’s South side. The police has just closed the case as another act of violence in a Black community. Now, Ruby is left with her abusive father, and the only support Ruby has is her best friend Layla. As Layla tries to save her, she finds out some secrets that have bound their families, and could lead to the collapse of her own prominent family. It is a novel with big themes such as race, deception, and faith. It’s an important story, wrapped up in a thrilling ride.

So that’s all for now. I’m so sorry that I’ve been slacking on the review department! Moving forward, I’m going to get them out a little quicker to you 🙂

What I’ve Been Reading

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Oh boy, where to begin. It’s been a very wild couple weeks. With the talks of re-opening things amid the Covid-19 Pandemic, and then with the Black Lives Matter Movement, I have felt a little bogged down in trying to understand, learn, and empathize. This has me doing a couple things… trying to get my hands on more books with Black authors, fiction and non-fiction, and also trying to open up discussions with people I see or talk to.  Obviously the latter comes with interesting dialogue, but I think these conversations are important.

I’ve always believed that books have the ability to open up minds to different races and cultures, and also start hard conversations. Learning how people live differently, and understanding what their cultural differences are is important. Below I’m sharing with you a couple links that I’ve found quite helpful to diversify my reading life.

Here’s what I’ve been reading lately:

A Good Neighborhood: A NovelA Good Neighbourhood, by Therese Anne Fowler. (5 stars). Well, this is a timely read. It’s the gripping story of two neighbours, who live in the idyllic community of Oak Knoll, North Carolina. They have very little in common, other than their property line, and both have teenage children. One, a rich White family, the other a single Black woman. When things get complicated between the families, all kinds of things become unearthed. Therese Anne Fowler admits in the beginning of this book that as a White woman, she had to do a lot of research to tell this story. She also recognized that it could seem problematic to tell this story. But, I think this is such an important story to read… especially right now. It investigates privilege, race, class, and the repercussions of decisions… and how that differs between races.

These Women: A Novel

These Women, by Ivy Pochoda. (3.75 stars). This is a really clever novel about a serial killer set in L.A. It’s structure is so different, and is told from the point of view of the killer’s victims. This killer is targeting women of colour, and who were working in circumstances that were deemed unsavoury. Ivy Pochoda has said she wanted to give a voice to the victims, instead of highlighting the killer… which is often the case.It is a really gritty story, and somewhat unclear of what the real story is…which I think is exactly what Pochoda wanted to convey. I think she wanted to highlight just how unjust the system can be when it’s victim’s aren’t White.

Half of a Yellow SunHalf of a Yellow Sun, by Chimanada Ngozi Adichie. (5 stars). This is a sweeping saga of a novel, set in Africa in the 1960’s during the tumultuous decade in which the Nigerian War happened. The story of this War is told through five different characters… twins, Olanna & Kainene, their significant others, and Ugwu, a houseboy of Olanna’s. To really capture this story will be hard, but Adichie really nails the fact just how a War really strips a nation, and the people of all they have. I had no clue about the Biafra Nigeran War, and I found the history of this fascinating. She also really investigates the unknowns, and the grief of losing someone, without ever really knowing if they are gone.

I Want You to Know We're Still Here: A Post-Holocaust MemoirI Want You to Know We’re Still Here, by Esther Safran Foer. (2.5 stars). I was intrigued to read this memoir because of the tagline. A Post Holocaust memoir. I always find it fascinating that most stories of the Holocaust, and Wars finish when those events had ended… and I always wonder how the victims can move forward. Well, this memoir really digs into that. I really found the premise fascinating, but I found her writing somewhat blah. Esther’s research on her family, and their history was quite in-depth and impressive… but I also had some mixed feelings on that, and just really felt a lot of empathy for the people who will really never know what had happened to their family members.

Mrs. Everything: A NovelMrs. Everything, by Jennifer Weiner. (4.5 stars). Oh man this book just hit me at the right place, and the right time. If Forrest Gump, and In Five Years had a baby… Mrs. Everything would be it. This book is a beautiful love story, and it’s the kind that makes you crave to love the ones in your life more fully. Jo and Bethie are sisters, and it starts at the beginning of their young lives in the ’50’s, and this is their coming-of-age story. They both settle into the roles they play in their family, and then real life things happen. As these sisters grow up and work through their problems, they are constantly switching roles, and needs. I loved how this book highlighted many big social justice movements, and also significant points in history. Hence why I had a Forrest Gump feel while reading it!

That’s all for today. I hope you wash your hands, be kind to one another, and read a book!

What I’ve been Reading & Finding Joy

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Hello reading friends!

Well, the weather has officially turned for the better here, and my family is just loving it. What a mood lifter. On that note, I thought that today I’d share a little list of things that are bringing me joy lately. I make little lists of this sort in my journal, and I find it helps me look for joy throughout the day. I encourage you to give it try, because right now with all the wild things going on in the world we could all use a little refocus onto the joyful moments.

What’s Been Bringing Me Joy:

  • All the summer reading lists. It’s actually laughable when I look at my desk and see all the lists of books that I’m excited to read. I’ve been collecting these from blogs, podcasts, and bookstagram accounts… here’s a couple links of my favs. Sarah’s Bookshelves Live, Modern Mrs. Darcy, Happiest When Reading
  • Gardening. I am getting all my frustrations out on ripping out our back garden, which I have for the past 4 years called a “wildflower garden”. It’s really just a ton of weeds with some perennials peppered throughout. So this year is my year, and I’ve been transforming it, and started a little veggie raised garden bed. All that pulling weeds, and nurturing tiny plants has done a good thing to my mental health.
  • Little Fires Everywhere. Okay, this show so far is fantastic! I loved the book (here’s my review of it), and am slowly working my way through this show. From the music, to the acting, it’s all just so good. Reese Witherspoon produced it, and stars in it with Kerry Washington. Enough said, just watch it if you can… it’s on Amazon Prime.
  • Streak running and socially distanced runs with my running buddy. More to come on this one in a different post… but I’ve been doing some experimenting in my running life and loving the change. And no it’s not streaking, get your mind out of the gutter!! But it’s basically just running everyday, and really listening to what your body is feeling the day and adjusting distance/effort on how I’m feeling.

What I’ve Been Reading

A Million Little Pieces

A Million Little Pieces, by James Frey. (3.5 stars) I know you are thinking that this is a backlist book, and there was a ton of controversy around it. But James Frey’s story of his time spent in a drug and alcohol recovery centre is a raw, and emotional journey. The way he writes is almost manic, and you can feel the pull that the substances had on James. Whether this story has been exaggerated or changed, it’s still a very compelling story worth reading. It’s also now a movie on Amazon Prime, which I’m planning on watching one of these nights… that I’m not reading.

The Book of Longings: A Novel

The Book of Longings, by Sue Monk Kidd. (5 stars). Oh man, did I love this book…. but also I really took my time reading it because I wanted to really savour it. This is the imagined life of Jesus’ wife, Ana. Obviously this is fiction, but it’s a beautifully told story, with a kick ass cast of females. I loved that Ana was a writer, and that this story was hers, with Jesus as character in her life. I cannot even imagine the amount of research and bravado that Sue Monk Kidd had to have conduct this, and I’m sure that as many positive reviews of this one, there will be people who also condemn it. But, I loved it!! This one gave me all the Circe, Untamed, Where the Crawdads Sing vibes.

Big Summer: A Novel

Big Summer, by Jennifer Weiner. (2 stars). This book seems to the hot one of the summer… I didn’t love it, but I also think that tons of people will love it. The main character Daphne, who is a body positive influencer, has been invited to her high school best frenemy’s wedding. From here all sorts of drama, romance, and suspense ensues. What I really liked about this book was Weiner’s clever way of speaking about body positivity, the gaps that can exists in past friendships, and the hypocrisy of social media. What I didn’t love, and why it got lower rating for me was the predictability of the ending. But hey, some people love that, so I’m not saying don’t read it, I’m just saying it was exactly for me!

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane: A Novel

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, by Lisa See. (4 stars). This is my first novel by Lisa See, and I will be checking out some more in my future reading. The reader is introduced to Li-yan and her family who are Akha, and live in the mountain tea area. The native Akha are rich in routines, and rituals in which their people have been living by for thousands of years. Li-yan questions some of these rituals at a young age, and also craves to be educated. When Li-yan is giving the chance of an education, and to possibly leave their village, all types of coming-of-age dilemma’s pop up. This story is a visually stunning, and culture rich telling of a fascinating story. I loved learning about the history and science of tea, and think this is a great read for summer! Not a light read, but one that can suck a reader in and make them feel as if they experiencing some armchair travel.

A Quick Quote:

I want to share with you a quote from The Book of Longings, by Sue Monk Kidd. . I just loved this one, and thought it spoke so much truth.

When I tell you all shall be well, I don’t mean that life won’t bring you tragedy. Life will be life. I only mean you will be well in spite of it. All shall be well, no matter what.

That’s all for today! Hope you are doing lots of reading, and enjoying some sunshine!

What I’ve been Reading Lately

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Wow, it’s been a minute. I have been reading some great books lately, just not finding the time (or energy) to write about them. I had felt a bit meh after a couple books April, but May is really bringing it’s A game to my reading life. I think a lot of this has to do with switching up genres frequently.

You’ll notice my reading life is all over the place. I love to switch up genres for two reasons. One, being that it keeps my reading life spicy. Reading too much of one genre makes it feel stale to me. Two, being that I believe there is much to be learned from each genre. And if I didn’t dive into all of them, I would be missing out greatly on the experience that a great book can take you on. I need different topics, different writing styles, and definitely different era’s in my reading life.

I write my book reviews in the order that I read them, in hopes that if you too are feeling a little stale in your reading life, the sharp right turn I took after a recent read is exactly what you may need as well.

Anywho, enough of my rambles… here’s what’s up in books these days.

What I’ve Been Reading:

The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires: A NovelThe Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, by Grady Hendrix. (5 stars). This book completely shocked me, and was unputdownable. Yes, it’s a book about an actual vampire, set in Charleston in the 80’s-90’s, but it’s SO much more. This book club of women who mainly devours true crime, finds out a handsome, cunning, new neighbour is a vampire. And this book club has to take him down to save their families, and the town. It’s a little gory in parts, but the women’s friendship tackled that odd area of when a woman has kids, and a partner, and doesn’t really know where she belongs. It’s a novel about feminism, friendships, and trusting your gut… and it’s FULL of nostalgia. It’s a perfect novel. I haven’t read a ton of Stephen King, but this gave me all his vibes… smart, spooky, and a page turner.

The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson. (4 stars). Ooopfh. This non-fiction book has been sitting on my shelf kind of just waiting for the right time. And I’m so glad I finally decided to pick it up. It tells two stories of two men’s lives, one, the man responsible for the building of the 1893 World Fair in Chicago. The other storyline is the serial killer H.H. Holmes who is also in Chicago during this time. I’m fascinated with his research process, I can’t even begin to imagine how long his book took him to write, and also just how life consuming it would be to write a book like this. There are little facts buried in here about Annie Oakley, Walt Disney, and so many more. Don’t get me wrong, this is a hefty book… it’s not something you can just breeze through, but it’s worth reading and taking your time with. I think this would be the perfect gift for Father’s Day!

The Mothers: A NovelThe Mothers, by Brit Bennett. (3.5 stars). Here’s another wonderful book. It’s told from greek chorus style, and set in modern day California, mostly within the church of a black community. Nadia is a young 17 year old grieving with the loss of her mother, and her wild behaviour has overtaken her. When her older boyfriend (the Pastor’s son) and her discover she is unexpectedly pregnant, their secret is covered up and dealt with… until years later down the road when their fates collide again in a love triangle that have them questioning what if. This book has some really complex family vibes, and explores mother/daughter relationships a ton. I really enjoyed it and blasted through it quite quickly.

My Dark Vanessa: A NovelMy Dark Vanessa, by Kate Elizabeth Russell. (4.5 stars). This debut novel is very dark, psychoanalytical, and all things that a beautifully written thriller should be. But, this book is full of triggers, and not for the hypersensitive type. It follows Vanessa, a now 32 year old woman, who finds out that her former teacher, and lover, is being accused of sexual abuse. They entered their “relationship” when she was 15, and he was 42. It slides back and forth in time to when she was a teenager, and throughout the years between. This novel is fiction, and Kate had been writing it forever. It really sums up the whole experience of sexual abuse, and the confusing lines that surround it and who receives the blame. I think there are two types of people who will read this book… 1) Will be cringing the whole time, and it will make them feel sad.  2) Will feel icky, but also compelled to read Lolita, and all the other literary references in this book.

Pride and Prejudice (AmazonClassics Edition)

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. (2 stars). This is my second Jane Austen novel, and perhaps my last. I don’t know, I just can’t with her frilly writing, and silly romantic nonsense. I can appreciate tons of readers love it, and she ability to go against the grain and laugh at the societal pressures on women during this time. This is a dysfunctional family story, with several of the daughters who are trying to clamp down a marriage. The big love story is between Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy. Even though this isn’t my favourite classic, I do understand many of the romance novel tropes a little better when I read Austen. But, long story short, I will take a moody Brontë romance novel over an Austen any day.

Faithful Place: Dublin Murder Squad:  3Faithful Place, by Tana French. (4.5 stars). Holy smokes, this series is amazing. I read The Likeness not too long ago, and LOVED it. Well, this is the third in her Dublin Murder Squad series, and she takes a new member of the Department in each book and gives their life the centre stage. Faithful Place is based on the Undercover Detective Frank Mackey, and the mystery of his first love… and her murder. In the novel Frank has to go back to his old stomping grounds, which is very much like a scene out of Angela’s Ashes, and uncover the truth of the 20 year old murder. French’s voice is just incredible. She describes the setting so richly, and her ability to take on a character and really become them gives the reader an immersive experience. Highly recommend this series, and I’m off to order book #4 and #5.

Alright, so that’s all for today. Hopefully you can find something in this post to read!

Happy reading!

Last Week in Reading

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Hey friends!

Well, here we are. Officially over six weeks of self-isolation, and man oh man, I feel like I’ve learned a lot. I have attempted some self-reflecting in this time, and thought about so many things. Today I’m coming at you with a list of things I’ve realized through self-isolation:

  • Feelings are for feeling. I’ve said this over and over again to myself and my kids. Feel the feelings, whether it’s being scared for the future, annoyed at everyone, or pure joy while out for a run. Feel it all, because there is time now to sit in them.
  • How resilient kids are. When this whole thing started, I immediately thought my kids would suffer from the lack of socialization, and routine. Turns out they are fine. People have much less, and turn out to be incredible people. 
  • Connection is key. With young kids, I’ve honestly felt like I’ve been in self-isolation for the past 6 years. But now with no socialization other than phone calls, emails, or text messages, I’ve really realized just how much connection adds to our lives. The family dinners, the playdates, the long runs with my running buddy, the neighbourhood chats… I miss it all, and know I will appreciate it much more in the future.
  • Making due with what we have. I have a freezer full of food that should have been eaten awhile ago, now we are cleaning it out. I have an “unread” bookshelf, now I’m reading weekly from it. There are so many examples of this, but learning to “play” with the things that we already own is a great lesson for our family.
  • Low maintenance is key. I’ve never been a girl to wear a full face of makeup, or spent a ton of time/money on “beauty” things… and not raising that bar on my personal beauty standards has resulted in more or less looking the exact same. A little more crazy, but the same.
  • Try on your jeans. Trust me with this one. Two reasons… the other day I wore real clothes, and for the first time since self-isolation, my hubby said, wow you look great! I laughed, because it was the first time out of leggings since March 13th. The other reason is all the extra wine, and snacks… just a little way to keep yourself in check.

What I’ve Been Reading:

The Forgotten Home Child

The Forgotten Home Child, by Genevieve Graham. (2 stars). Although this book is pretty buzzy… it completely missed the mark for me. It’s historical fiction, based on the true history of  Barnardo’s charity, in which vulnerable or orphaned children were sent to Canada from Britain. These kids were basically indentured slaves to families. It’s a dual-timeline story, where the reader is flashed back and forth through Winnie’s life. One timeline is Winnie as an elderly woman telling her story, the other as a young woman who has been just shipped over by Barnardo’s to Canada. Although the history was fascinating, and an important story, I found the writing to be cheesy, and at points I was huffing out loud at the ridiculous coincidences of the plot. Not for me, but lots of readers are enjoying it.

In Five Years: A Novel In Five Years, by Rebecca Serle. (4 stars). Another buzzy book, but this one completely surprised me. To be honest the synopsis won’t do this book justice at all, but here we go. Dannie is a highly calculated woman. As her life is falling into place with the perfect job, and her boyfriend proposes, and she finds herself blissfully sleepy in her new fiancé’s embrace. She falls asleep, and dreams the most real feeling dream she’s ever had. It’s exactly 5 years in the future, in a different apartment, a different engagement ring, and a different man. Then she wakes back up to her old life, but seems haunted by this dream. She goes through the next five years, trying to escape, and understand why this dream felt so real. This is a beautiful love story of a different kind. I wasn’t expecting this book to have the depth it did. It completely blew me away. Highly suggest!

Of Mice and Men: Teacher's Deluxe EditionOf Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck. (4.5 stars). Off my “unread” bookshelf, I’ve always wanted to read it. So what better time than when in quarantine? George and Lennie are migrant ranch workers during the Great Depression in California. Lennie is a big, strong, mentally disabled man. George is the brains of their operation, and finds them a job at a ranch. They have plans to one day settle down on land of their own, but for the meantime they will work at this ranch. Then one day, Lennie’s pattern of not understanding his strength goes too far, and the tides change for their planned future. This book is small, but powerful. It’s a heartbreaking story, covering themes such as devotion, kindness, and loneliness. I will be thinking about this one for awhile.

Anywho, that’s all for today bookish friends.

Happy reading!

 

Last Week in Reading

what i read this week

Hello friends!

How are you holding up these days? Better yet… how are you getting new reading material these days?? I thought I’d go over a couple things that have been saving my reading life lately.

I’ve been whipping out my e-reader a lot more these days, as my library, just like everyone else’s is closed. So I’ve been cruising the daily deals on BookBub, which has turned into a fun little routine. And also making good use of my library’s e-book catalogue. They use CloudLibrary, and the Kawartha Lakes Public Library has even started giving out electronic library cards for those who didn’t have one before. So if you don’t have a library card, check in with your local library and see if they offer something similar.

If you are lover of physical books, you can still purchase your books! I encourage you to check out the local bookstores and buy from them. Small businesses need all the support they can get these days, and by buying your books through them is a great way to do that. In my area, Hunter Street Books, and Kent Bookstore are both places you can still shop!

Lastly, I think this also a great time to pick up the unread books on your shelf. Or pick up an old favourite and give it a re-read. You have these books on your shelves for a reasons, and maybe a global pandemic was what you were waiting for. I know I’ve been tackling a lot of books of my unread shelf right now, and feeling like… why did I wait so long?!?!

Last Week in Reading

The Likeness: Dublin Murder Squad, Book 2

 

The Likeness, by Tana French. (5 stars). Here’s a readerly confession for you… this book has been on my shelf for 3 years! Just shy of 700 pages, I had put it off, because I need to be ready to commit to a big book like that. But I’ve been craving a literary thriller since I read Long Bright River. This book filled that void. I loved it so much, and for so many reasons. Cassie Maddox is a detective, and when she is called to a murder scene, it’s discovered that the body is her identical… and the body is also carrying her old undercover name as ID, Lexie. Cassie is then put into Lexie’s life undercover in hopes that she can find who the murderer is. Like I said, I LOVED this book. It’s smart, it’s literary, and told is a way that you just want to savour every word. I highly suggest it, and it’s very much based in the “big house thriller” genre. Tana French pays respect to Jane Eyre, and Rebecca-esque themes. This was fantastic, go pick it up. It’s also the 2nd in a series called the Dublin Murder Squad, and soon to be a BBC series!

What I Talk about When I Talk about Running: A Memoir 

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, by Haruki Murakami. (4.5 stars). This memoir was absolutely wonderful. It was about running, yes, but also much more about life as an introvert. You can understand probably why I loved it so much, because I can relate 100% to him. Haruki Murakami is a renowned author, who also runs, and  memoir is really just essays about the role running played in his life. I just loved it, and related to it so much. So many quotable sentences, but there were a couple that are now committed to my memory wholly. Running is an act that takes years of dedicated practice before it becomes a piece of you. For me, running is something that is so intrinsically motivated that if I don’t do it, I feel a void. I just love it…. but it’s not for everyone. And for this reason, I’m so glad that I’ve found something that I love to do that much. I’ll be happy if running and I can grow old together.

Well, that’s all for today. Stay home, and happy reading!

 

The Last Train to London, by Meg Waite Clayton

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I received The Last Train to London from my Aunt Sue as a gift when we welcomed our newest baby, Alice, into the family. I think this was such a sweet gesture, and a great reminder that mommy needs looking after too!! I’ve been meaning to pick up this book since last year… but my library pile had always seem to get in the way.

Now in the time of self-isolation, and covid-19, and the libraries are closed. So my unread bookshelf is getting a workout! I’ve read a ton of WWII books, and every time I pick up one I am always in awe at how many different stories there are to tell during this time period.

Set pre-war in 1936, this novel is based on the true story of Truus Wijsmuller, who was member of the Dutch resistance. As Germany’s political climate is becoming more troubling, Truus begins rescuing Jewish children here and there, and getting them fitted up with a family who will take them in Britain until this troubling time is over. Two of these children happen to be in Vienna, Stephan Neuman, the son of the famous Jewish chocolatier, and his best friend, Zofie-Helene, whose Christian mother is a journalist at an anti-Nazi Newspaper. Truus goes on to spear head the Kindertransport, where she tries to help these two, and also over ten thousand other children all over German-occupied countries. Amazingly enough, Truus struck a deal with Adolf Eichmann, and lo and behold was able to save these children before the War started.

I had a bit of a hard time getting into this one, but once I was down about 120 pages, I was in! The characters for the first while seemed somewhat disjointed from each other, but around that 120 page, it all came together. It is a really well-researched book, and one thing I found really neat and haven’t seen in many fictional WWII books is that there is some narration from Eichmann, and Hitler themselves. Usually you are seeing these characters from the periphery, so I found it really interesting, and also a big undertaking on behalf of the author! There were some really heartbreaking moments in this novel, and I don’t know if it was me or the quarantine-version of me… but I found myself choking up a couple times.

One thing that I loved about this book was the Dutch references, from food like hagelslag,  to the towns in Holland, I found myself reminiscing about the trips I’ve taken there with my family, and all the foods we ate my Gramma and Grandpa’s house growing up. Isn’t it wonderful how a book can strike such a personal chord with a reader?!

This feelings that this book brings on are so relevant to what’s currently going on in the world. I’ve heard multiple references to this pandemic being a War that we are fighting. I’m going to share with you one of the quotes that was on the back on the book;

Recommend this book to anyone who thinks no one person can make a difference. – Karen Joy Fowler

Well, if that’s not encouragement that’s needed right now in this crazy times, I don’t know what is. Just like Truus, any normal person can help.

That’s all for today, stay home and read!

The One, John Marrs

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After finishing the last book I read, Untamed, I needed a palate cleanser. Something that would hook me right away, because that book left me with a big book hangover. On a whim I bought this ebook when it was on sale ages ago, and I opened up The One, and was instantly thrust into it.

SIDENOTE: I buy my ebooks on a great site called Bookbub. They email you daily with all the great deals. Click the link to check it out!

Move over Tinder, because a new app is on the block for dating. It’s based on the taking the person’s DNA tests and matches them genetically with their soul mate. It’s described that when you meet your match, it’s like no other sensation you’ve ever had in love. It’s unbreakable, and unavoidable once you connect. The story is told through six different characters and their journey to find “THE ONE”. In the beginning all these characters are in the perfect scenario, then there are some twists, and thrills that weave in a totally unexpected plot.

This book is like if the Netflix show’s, You and Love is Blind, had a baby. And apparently it is to become a show, so I’m pretty excited about that! It has everything, some love, some murder, and lots of suspense. I finished this book within 2 days, and as you can see from the picture above was reading in every given moment. As my kid’s were working on a puzzle, I was reading. Instead of sleeping, I was reading. While cooking, yep you guessed it, reading.

The One is such a unique book and I had no idea where it was going to take me. That’s how you know it is a great book, if you can get sucked into a scenario that is completely unbelievable… but you are hooked anyways. Marrs’ writing was awesome, and just loaded you up on the train on the first page, and drove it incredibly fast to the end. It also explored all different kinds of love, which made a reader reflect on their own relationships, and stages within them.

Maybe when you took it back to basics, that’s what love really was: just being there for someone when the sun rises and sets.

Anywho, that’s all for today. I highly recommend this book if you are looking for an something to help you escape the news!

Until next time, stay home and read!