4 Books & A New Direction

4A668569-B354-4607-91B9-3F1E3259AD44

Oh hey there, friends! This year I’ve made a goal to read even more. Yes, I know, some of you may think, what the hell?!? You read a lot already. But in my defence, I’m 25 weeks pregnant, and holding on to a little piece of me and what I love to do… or at least until August. So, in turn what I’ve been finding is the book reviews are piling up. And even though I have so much to say about each book, maybe for now, less will be more.

Here’s comes the NEW DIRECTION. What I’m thinking of serving up for you for the next little bit is quick, fast reviews. I hope you will gain from this is a clear sense of whether you should pick up this book, or not. Because let’s be honest, not every book is worth your time. Life is way too short to read books you don’t enjoy, and not everyone will love the same books.

Below you will find the four books I’ve read lately. In brackets beside the title, I’m giving you a star rating. Just like GoodReads, 1 star is ekkkkk I hate this book! 5 stars is holy moly, stop what you’re doing now and go read this book asap. After this rating, I will give you a general idea of what the book is about, and a couple of my personal opinions about it. Lastly, because I’m a bit of a quote lover, so I’m going to leave you with just one quote that stuck with me.

What I’ve Read Lately:

The Lost Girls of Paris, by Pam Jenoff. (3.75 stars) There is a literary trend that I’m so digging right now. Badass females in historical fiction! In this novel, you are hearing the stories of 3 different women and their experience throughout WWII and the network of female spies. So interesting, and based on actual people and events. People who loved The Alice Network, The Huntress, or Lilac Girls NEED to read this one.

Indian Horse, by Richard Wagamese. (4.5 stars) Put this one on your list to read if you are human, appreciate great writing, or are Canadian. This is the fictional, becoming of age story, of Saul Indian Horse. At a young age he was forced into a residential school, experienced horrifying trauma, and then fell in love with hockey. Based loosely on Richard Wagamese’s life, this novel will have you feeling like you need to talk about it, and a much better human for having had read it. Plus, his writing is INCREDIBLE. It’s the perfect book for a book club, and there was recently a movie made about it.

Women Talking, by Miriam Toews. (4 stars) Okay, I love this Toews. Everything she does, I will read, so when I picked up this novel which also a fictional account of true events, yet again I was floored. From approximately 2005-2009 in a Mennonite community in Manitoba, some women of this colony were waking up complaining of symptoms of rape. Their leader, who had concocted a lie to them that it was actually their sins giving them this trauma, had covered up the fact that the men had been drugging the women, and raping their own family and friends. The setting is a barn hay loft, and told through the minutes of a meeting that these women have snuck away to have. The meeting is to decide whether they as a group, 1) Do Nothing. 2) Stay. 3) Leave. I read this one in 2 days and could not put it down, even though the writing style is a little different.

Tell Me More, by Kelly Corrigan. (5 stars) This is my first book I’ve read written by Kelly Corrigan, and holy S*@$… I will be reading her whole back catalogue. This will be a book I press into so many hands and say you must read! The subtitle of this memoir is; Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say. This is a hard one to describe, but I do feel as if it should be required reading as an adult. This book is gorgeous, and told around the two facts that her father and best friend died within a year of each other. The chapters of this memoir are broken into the words you say in hard conversations. It’s so raw, funny at times, and makes you cry at times. There are sentences that literally brought goosebumps to my arms. Go read this one, and maybe go buy it for your momma for Mother’s Day.

A Quote that Struck Me:

This is a quote from Tell Me More, by Kelly Corrigan. This chapter was called I Love You, and it’s based around those three little words.

The first time the words pass between two people: electrifying. Ten thousand times later: cause for marvel. The last time: the dream you revisit over and over and over again.

Until next time, happy reading!

Advertisements

Queenie, by Candice Carty-Williams

7d8e31e7-981e-43ee-94ab-ce91ed869988.jpg

When I picked up Queenie, I was fully expecting to enter into the light, fluffy world of chick lit. This is an easy read, but has deep content, and I was pleasantly surprised. This novel is getting a TON of praise, and selling like hot-cakes. With it’s eye-catching cover, and being compared to a combination of Bridget Jones Diary and Americanah… how could you not want to read it?

Meet Queenie. She’s a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London. She has a great job at a newspaper, and after a hard break up with her white boyfriend, she starts to slowly put everything… her job, her friendships, her family, and also her mental health at risk. You follow Queenie as she makes one bad decision after the next, and listen to her ask herself why she keeps doing these things. Eventually Queenie finds a better path, but you will have to read the book to see how she turns things around.

This is essentially a coming of age story. You are following Queenie through her daily life, but also flashing back to the past where she is re-visiting some of the past trauma from her childhood, and her current struggles in learning how to identify herself. Right about now, you are probably saying… hmmmm doesn’t sound like a light, fast read?!?! But, I’m telling you, the way that Carty-Williams has written these complex characters is actually really fun. The dynamics that Queenie has in her relationships with family and friends, is actually quite funny most times, and had me laughing out loud.

But let me warn you, this is a novel full of triggers… sexual harrassment, racism, miscarriage, and graphic sex. But the way that Candice Carty-Williams has addressed these issues is in a way that doesn’t make you feel like you need to skip pages! I think that this is a really exciting time for literature. We are slowly seeing more relatable characters integrated into the white-washed world of literature. Queenie is a full-bodied, Jamaican woman, who has suffered childhood trauma, and starts to do the work to heal mentally.

PS- This is a debut novel, that Jojo Moyes has really got behind!! If review hasn’t talked you into this reading it, that little tidbit of information should get you intrigued!

Until next time, happy reading!

The Great Believers, by Rebecca Makkai

IMG_1011

As you can tell from the pictures above, I went into to pick up my latest library haul and was greeting with a bunch of amazing books. But when I read the first page of The Great Believers, I had to pick that continue reading! This novel has been getting a ton of praise, and after reading it you see that this is a work that needed to be written, and that also needs to be read.

It’s 1980’s Chicago, and Yale Tishman works at an art gallery in which he is developing their collection. As Yale’s career is starting to take off when he starts working on bringing a collection of 1920’s paintings to the gallery. As he career sky rockets, the AIDS epidemic is growing closer around him. When one of his closest friends Nico dies from the virus, one by one, his friends are also being picked off. Yale, along with Nico’s sister, Fiona, take care of their dying group of friends. Thirty years later, Fiona is in Paris tracking her estranged daughter, and staying with an old friend. This old friend, just so happens to be a photographer who thirty years ago was documenting the Chicago crisis. In the search for her daughter, old memories of her past are brought up, and the feelings are all too familiar to Fiona.

They meant well, all of them. How could she explain that this city was a graveyard? That they were walking every day through streets where there had been a holocaust, a mass murder of neglect and antipathy, that when they stepped through a pocket of cold air, didn’t they understand it was a ghost, it was a boy the world had spat out?

I don’t really know where to begin. This is such an incredible story, and also so sad. Other than watching Philadelphia, and Dallas Buyers Club, I would consider myself to have very little knowledge of the AIDS epidemic. After reading this novel, I found myself googling, and checking out non-fiction novels to learn more about it. What Rebecca Makkai has accomplished is the beginning of an education for me, and I bet many readers. The AIDS epidemic claimed a generation of people, and has definitely shaped several generations. But the things that we don’t hear are the stories of the people’s lives who were lost at start a fast rate that they couldn’t even grapple with it.

Nico’s death, although being the first friend to die, had such an impact on this story. His friends had taken some of his belongings as ways to remember him, and as each one of them were dying they were passing on Nico’s scarf. These characters and the community in Chicago were all so capable of good things, and then equally quite evil things. I listened to an interview with Rebecca Makkai, and she said that she used this as a tool to make AIDS the real villain. Even to this day, people are unaware to what and how HIV/AIDS are contracted. In this novel the parents of the characters who had died would go into their child’s apartment with masks and gloves.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this novel, have you read it? If not, I recommend it. The Great Believers is a book that I haven’t stopped talking about, or thinking about since I put it down.

An Anonymous Girl,

IMG_0902

I read An Anonymous Girl, a couple weeks ago… and somehow it slipped my mind to write a review on it! This book is Gone Girl adjacent. I got all the thrills, psycho-analytical vibes that I had been craving since that novel. I feel like a lot of authors have tried to give us a novel that reached that Gone Girl status, but this is the first time I really feel like I’ve been satiated since.

Jessica Farris is a woman in her late twenties, who is a successful make-up artist. She works her butt off, running from one client’s house to the next, for a decent pay. When she visits a client’s house and is alerted to a psychology study being conducted which has a big financial pay-off, she’s instantly interested. This could help her pay her bills, and her families medical expenses. She decides to go to the study, and answer Dr. Shield’s questions, collect her money, and leave. But these questions are deep, invasive, and she finds out she has the options for multiple sessions… equalling multiple pay-offs. As Jessica gets deeper into the study, the questions are revealing her deep dark secrets, and she starts to question the real reason that Dr. Shields is conducting this study.

This novel was co-written by Greer Hendricks, and Sara Pekkanen, I was a little hesitant thinking how good can a book be written by two authors?!? But this book was so well done it didn’t really cross my mind until I would look at the cover with both their names. But that does bring up an interesting point into how does this process go? The last one I read with two authors was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Club, and I, and the reading world loved that one too.

An Anonymous Girl, is a thrilling novel, with every character being unreliable. And to be honest, I didn’t really like any of these characters, but I LOVED the story. I do think that this may have been a writing tactic, because in every situation there is never just ONE person guilty or wrong. We are all involved in the situations we find ourselves in. This plot although really intriguing, was a little bit far fetched. I am trying not to give too much of the spiralling plot away in this review, but at one point the twists are almost a little too far… but very enjoyable!

Anywho, that’s about all I’m going to say for this, because like I said earlier, talking too much about these characters or the plot would just give away the exciting twists of the novel.

Until next time, happy reading!

Waiting for Eden, by Elliot Ackerman

IMG_0886

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 🙂

Then She Was Gone, by Lisa Jewell

IMG_0850

I put Then She Was Gone on hold from the library on a complete whim. Sometimes… when my hubby is working, and the kids are sleeping… Mommy gets on all the review/blogs/instagram, and goes down a huge rabbit hole putting hundreds of books on hold. This tends to get a bit awkward when I walk into the local library, and see the pile of books sitting waiting for me!! I had forgotten that this was one I had put on hold, and when I read the first page, I was completely sucked in.

Meet Ellie Mack. She’s fifteen, the youngest daughter of three, and is the apple of her mother’s eye. She is a great student, friend, sister, and now a girlfriend of the high school hottie. It’s getting close to her school exams, and she’s looking forward to big plans this summer. And then she was gone. Ellie literally disappears. Her mother, Laurel, 10 years post disappearance, has let her other two children slip from her fingers, and her marriage has fallen apart. Then, Laurel meets a man in a cafe. Before she knows it, their lives become more intertwined, and she’s meeting his daughter, Poppy. Poppy looks alarmingly like her disappeared daughter Ellie. And from here, Laurel begins to try to put the pieces of her daughters disappearance together.

Whoa. This book was fantastic. Lisa Jewell is becoming a prolific British writer, with 16 novels now published. Yet this was my first novel of hers, and I thought it was brilliant. She took a classic “thriller-type” description, and blended a family drama, a pyschological  thriller, and a mystery. You are instantly sucked into the storyline of a mother’s love for her family. As much as Laurel is grieving the loss of her daughter, she is also grieving and struggling with the loss of the family members who are still her in life. Her ex-husband is just a gem of a man, and at one point you can see that he really misses his old family life, but too much damage has happened to them all.

As the father of your children, as a friend, as someone who shared a journey with you and as someone who loves you and cares about you. I don’t need to be married to you to be all those things. Those things are deeper than marriage. Those things are for ever.

Jewell’s writing is superb. You probably know the stigma… mystery/thriller… a driving plot, but ho hum writing. But, what I’ve noticed these days, is the blending of multiple genres is creating gorgeous, thrilling books… and these types of novels gained a ton of depth. Not that it’s anything like Louise Penny’s series, but the writing reminded me a lot of her style. It’s thrilling, but also poetic in nature. I 100% recommend this book to a lot of different types of readers. I actually bought Lisa Jewell’s next novel, Watching You, recently and am looking forward to digging into it soon!

Until next time, enjoy your weekend reading time!

The Proposal, Jasmine Guillory

img_0775.jpg

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!