Last Week in Reading

1FA0C62D-AEFE-4D1C-AA6A-CA6BC6078029

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

0B21EB4F-9E7B-4C89-80E9-E28344E4FECA

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

1C3F3F5F-6973-42FA-AA49-51D8F064D295

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!

Long Bright River, by Liz Moore

904101E4-C225-4303-90D9-1B15B468289D

Hi friends, how are you doing today??

It’s super dreary here, and on top of all the rapidly changing news, and self-isolation… it’s easy feel to down. But I will tell you the one thing that’s really keeping me going is to be able to reading, and write daily. Expressing creativity is hard when you are busy running around all the time, so being in the stillness of self-isolation has brought so much more creativity to my life. I hope that today that you are able to do the thing that’s keep you going!

Okay, now on to Long, Bright River. To think that I almost returned this book back to the library unread is an absolute crime. I knew this one had some mixed reviews, but when I read the synopsis online I was intrigued by it’s premise. Then, I physically picked up the book and saw it was almost 500 pages with a super small font. Honestly, I almost didn’t read it… until I read the first page, and then the first chapter, and then next 70 pages in one sitting. This is a literary mystery, and a police procedural novel. But it’s also a story about the bond that siblings have, and just to what ends we will go to for our them.

It’s set in the Kensington area, which is the epicentre of the opioid crisis in Philadelphia. You follow the story of two sisters, Kacey and Mickey, who at one time were inseparable, and now strangers to each other. Kacey, lives and works the streets, in order to fuel her drug addiction. Mickey, a police officer and single mother, patrols the neighbourhood that her sister works. Then Kacey goes missing, just at the same time that Mickey is investigating a string of murders. She becomes obsessed with trying to piece together what has happened to Kacey, and tries to track her down.  It flashes back and forth from their childhood of addiction and trauma, and to the present of Mickey tracking Kacey.

This is the type of book that has your on the edge of your seat. The plot is driving, the setting is perfectly set, and you are just wanting to know what is going to happen to Mickey and Kacey. It’s also layered so richly with a wonderful, flawed cast. Moore wrote these fantastic character descriptions which were so fully formed in my head, but they didn’t feel overwritten. Truman, who is Mickey’s old partner, was just a fantastic character. He ran cross country, and marathons, and read books constantly… listen to this description;

He’s always walked on his toes, as if ready to spring. On the many occasions I saw him take off after some ground before they took five steps. Today he’s wearing a brace on his right leg, outside his jeans. I wonder if he’ll ever run again.

This novel is full of triggers such as addiction, anxiety, and abandonment. But I think this is what makes this novel feel so complete. She takes these triggers and works through all the emotions that the characters feel from them. The end of this mystery is legitimately the most thought provoking ending I think I have ever read… I won’t give it away to you though!

Lastly, I think what Liz Moore encapsulated in this novel is that we just really don’t know why or how an addiction clamps it’s hold onto people. Some people escape them, some people are owned by them. We can speculate as humans on how and why this happens, but I think we will always just be speculating. It isn’t about why it has happened to someone, but it’s in the living with these demons.

I LOVED this book, and flew through it! If you liked books such as Miracle Creek, and the Cormoran Strike novels I think you also really enjoy this book.

Until next time, stay home and read some great books!

 

 

What I’ve Been Reading, & Covid-19

 

Things are crazy right now. With the unsettling news of Covid-19 spreading like wild fire, staying home is the first thing we can do. Well… introverts everywhere are singing HALLEJEUH, AMEN!!!! But all jokes aside, this is such a terrifying time for us all.

In saying this, I believe it is our job to play an active role in the ways that we can. Check in with the elderly, family, and neighbours that surround you and see if they need some groceries dropped at their door. STAY HOME, only leave for essentials. Wash your hands. Focusing on doing the things that we can control is what is going flatten that curve, and make us feel more grounded.

Earlier this week I made a self/family care list. It’s pretty much a list of things that my family and I can do to make us feel less scared or alone while we are staying close to home. I’m going to share mine with you, because I hope it inspires you to make one for yourself!

  • Call/text/email family and friends. Talk to each other about all the things. If they are quarantined, offer to run an errand or grab some groceries for them.
  • Reading, journalling, and playing games with our kids! We’ve made a little family journal for this time, and are keeping track of what we are reading, and doing each day. Something fun to do, but also hopefully one day we can look back and remember this crazy time with some positive memories.
  • Movement. Whether we get outside to play, walk, do a yoga class on Youtube, or a home work out… movement is always a great way to burn off the extra cortisol that this prolonged season of stress and worry is causing.
  • Do a silly hobby that you usually don’t have any time for in your busy life. Whether it’s crafty, musical, writing, or whatever… allow yourself to get creative to help relieve some stress.
  • Early spring clean. The house is starting to already seem a little dirtier, and cramped… but a project can always be done!
  • Make some good food. How often do you say, “I don’t have time to cook”? Well, here’s your chance… clean out your freezer, cupboards, and get creative. And eat and drink slowly, there’s no hurry.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately:

Know My Name: A MemoirKnow My Name, by Chanel Miller.  This memoir should be required reading for all high school students, and adults. If you are familiar with the Stanford Brock Turner rape case, this is the victim, Chanel Miller’s memoir. It’s absolutely incredible about how an institution can fail a victim, but in the end it’s Chanel’s message that is incredible, and will make you really think about the fact that justice is never truly served. Crimes like these haunt a victim, their families, and the places they live forever. Please if anything, go read Chanel Miller’s victim impact statement. I’m linking it here.

Secret Lives of Mothers & Daughters: A NovelSecret Lives of Mothers and Daughters, by Anita Kushwaha.  I really loved this mother/daughter story, and was lucky enough to have the author send it to me! On Asha’s eighteenth birthday, her parents tell her that she was adopted and gave her a letter from her mother. Asha feels betrayed by her parents, but also very curious about who her mother was. She knows she passed away when Asha was a new baby, and her father was forced to put her up for adoption. From here the family secrets unravel as Asha chases the story of her birth mother and father. This book is SO good, and there is a massive plot twist too that had me with my mouth agape!

Saint X: A Novel

Saint X, by Alexis Schaitkin.   The description of this book hooked me immediately. Claire, a seven year old girl, and her family are in Saint Kitts for a resort vacation. Then, her sister, Allison is murdered. Flash forward over 15 years later, after her family has closed that terrible chapter, Claire jumps into a cab… and the cab driver was the accused murderer of her sister. From here, it jumps back and forth in the timeline, and Claire obsessively pieces of the murder together. I would describe this as a character driven thriller… so page turning, it is not, but it is beautifully written, and the plot slowly builds to a resolution.

The Jetsetters: A NovelThe Jetsetters, by Amanda Eyre Ward. I LOVED this book. Honestly, time’s are tough right now. With the social distancing, and travel bans… this book is an absolutely perfect way to armchair travel. It is the story of a mother, and her grown up children who have definitely fallen out of touch, and then Charlotte, the mother, wins a Mediterrean cruise… and takes her children with her! The cover of this book may seem light, but it’s not. There are heavy themes, family dysfunction, all while being incredibly readable. I highly recommend this one.

A Quote to Ponder:

I’m going to share a little part of Chanel Miller’s victim impact statement with you. And I hope this little portion pushes you to go read the whole thing here.

And finally, to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you.

Dear Edward, by Ann Napolitano

148DC851-2877-41B1-BC8C-5F10A71D69A1

I had heard about Dear Edward on a couple podcasts lately, and when the synopsis involved a plane crash I was instantly intrigued. The fact that it has also been on a couple of the big book clubs list, like Read with Jenna, and Book of the Month is just another feather in Ann Napolitano’s cap… which she absolutely deserves! As always, this review is 100% spoiler free.

Dear Edward is the story of a 12 year old boy, who is the sole survivor of a plane crash. Edward, and his family had boarded the plane to move across the country. Along with Edward, you get to know several other passengers throughout the novel. There are two timelines in this novel, one being the story of the flight and it’s passengers leading up to the crash. Then the other timeline being the story of Edward’s life after the crash.

Oh man this story is so beautiful, and multi-faceted. You see at every angle just how a plane crash can happen in an instant, but the ripple-effect on the victim’s lives goes on forever. Edward is wrecked by the loss of his brother, and he seems stuck in a time in which his brother doesn’t age, but Edward is. And then Edward starts to approach the age in which his brother died at, it’s almost as if he can start living again. Up until that time, he seems stuck within his families deaths.

There are so many beautiful twists and turns in this novel. It’s not massive plot twists, but just a beautiful story in the way that Edward has learned able to grieve, heal, and grow from this event. His Aunt and Uncle sweep in to take him in, and raise him. I think Napolitano did a beautiful job of writing just how complicated this situation was, and could be. They are all looked at as hero’s, but also cursed by how the world views them. Edward, the sole survivor, and his Aunt and Uncle, the martyrs raise him, show the other side of this story and just how complex it is. The new family unit, is now faced with such a loss of family, but also the search for a new identity in the role they all play. And Edward is instantly given the task of having to live the lives of all the passengers who were killed.

Ann Napolitano was inspired to write this story when she was listening to the news about flight that had crashed on it’s way from South Africa to London. One 9 year old boy survived, and she was perplexed by how his life could go on. She admits to being nervous flyer, and had done a ton of research on plane crashes, and listening to recordings of black boxes… which I think could only make you a more nervous flyer!! I love hearing some insight to the writing process, and if you do too I listened to a great podcast interview on Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books, with Ann Napolitano. Check it out if you are intrigued!

Anywho, that’s all for today!

Happy reading!