Book Review | The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson

Authour:girlsaved
Jonas Jonasson
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 387 pages
Publication date:
April 29th 2014
Publisher:
Harper Collins
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

“Nombeko had no intention of being more cooperative toward the smarmy man than she had been in the shower the day before. So she replied that, as luck would have it, she had another pair of scissors in her possession, and that she would very much like to keep them rather than use them on Uncle Thabo’s other thigh. But as long as Uncle kept himself under control–and taught her to read–thigh number two could retain its good health.”

Prior to starting The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden, I had read two other books which broke my heart in different ways, either of them in good ways. As a result, I knew that I needed an excellent; fun read for my next book otherwise I would end up in a book slump which wouldn’t be good. After confirming that The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden would be a light and funny book, I decided to pick it up as my next read.

Since The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden was my first book by Jonas Jonasson, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I the end, I fell in love with the book, characters and the story. Nombeko, who had such a fun introduction in the book is such an remarkable protagonist. I loved how she was so intelligent, resourceful and resilient and she was just so sensible that it was easy to root for her throughout the book.

Jonasson’s writing throughout is simple, and straightforward. The third person narration throughout the book and that introduces us to Nombeko and various other characters give the story the charm and feel of a modern fairy tale. There is also much dark humour throughout the book but it is told with such lightness that it is not difficult to accept the occasional dreadful horrible things that may befall some of the characters.

All in all The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden is a laugh out loud tale of one girl’s inspiring adventure and journey of overcoming all the obstacles life throws at her while coming across an amazing cast of wacky side characters. In particular, I loved the three Chinese girls who were sisters who had much knowledge about strange an unusual things as well as Holger One and his angry girlfriend, Celeste who while annoying mainly for the reason that they held ridiculously insane ideas that more often than not lead to even more crazy behaviours, were also likeable for how hilarious they were. The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden is definitely a must read for everyone who loves a whimsical and highly amusing read.

If you like this book, you’ll love: The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

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Book Review | How to Succeed in Business Without Really Crying by Carol Leifer

Authour:suceedbus
Carol Leifer
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 224 pages
Publication date:
April 8th 2014
Publisher:
Quirk Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
How to Succeed in Business without Really Crying is a sort of memoir written by Carol Leifer, who is a comedian, writer, producer and actress. In case you haven’t heard of her (I know I didn’t before picking up this book), she was a writer for shows like Seinfeld and Saturday Night Live, in addition to being one of the creators of The Ellen Show which was a sitcom starring Ellen DeGeneres.

Initially this book did intrigue me, and so I was more than happy to start reading it when a friend of mine suggested I pick it up next. How to Succeed in Business without Really Crying was an interesting look at one woman’s career, I love reading about how she got her start and how supportive her parents were of her dreams and goals. And I think it was a nice touch that she wove pieces of incredibly useful and practical advice that can be applied to any career and not just show business within the anecdotes and stories that she tells about her life. Overall there was an excellent mixture of life stories and practical advice throughout.

While several of her advice may seem obvious to several readers, I personally felt that I learned so much. In fact, I found myself putting various sticky tabs throughout my copy, all while having the urge to highlight or underline certain things in the books so that I can go back and find them again in the future. All in all, How to Succeed in Business without Really Crying was an extremely straightforward and highly entertaining read. It is a book that you want to savour because it’s so short and you don’t want to miss anything. And despite being chocked full of useful and practical advice, the conversational tone of the writing allows it to not come off as too preachy. I would highly recommend this book for anyone currently looking for work especially in this economy.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan

Authour:opplone
Marina Keegan
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 208 pages
Publication date:
April 8th 2014
Publisher:
Scribner
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

“We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness. but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life.”

You may have heard of Marina Keegan if you’ve read or stumbled upon her essay “The Opposite of Loneliness” which was published in The Yale Daily New. I loved that essay so much as it was so poignant and well written in addition to resonating with much of what I was feeling as I prepared to graduate and move onto the next step in my life. It was that piece of writing that inspired me to pick up this collection of essays and short stories written by her. Unfortunately Marina died in a car accident in 2012 so this is probably the only collection we’ll get of her writing.

The collection starts with her famous essay, “The Opposite of Loneliness” which I think those of us who are students would find relatable. The rest of the collection is then divided into two sections, “Fiction” which consists of her short stories and “Non-Fiction” which are her essays. I went in more excited to read her essays, but in the end, I actually enjoyed her short stories much more although I did find her non-fiction writing to be extremely compelling, honest and at times heartbreaking. My favourite one was “Song for the Special”, a piece which I thought was the perfect choice to send this wonderful collection. As for her short stories, they were simple yet had much depth within them; I especially enjoyed the first short story titled, “Cold Pastoral”. This story, though initially seemed like a typical story about a woman grieving the death of her boyfriend turns out to be a much more complicated look at human relationships and love. All in all, this was an interesting collection of both fiction and non-fiction writing that I think is worth checking out.

If you like this book, you’ll love: So Much A Part of You by Polly Dugan

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | The Ring and The Crown by Melissa de la Cruz

Authour:ringcrown
Melissa de la Cruz
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 362 pages
Publication date:
April 1st 2014
Publisher:
Disney-Hyperion
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
While I’m not usually a fan of the fantasy genre in fiction, I do love historical fiction especially ones with strong female characters. In her latest book, The Ring & the Crown, Melissa de la Cruz has done an amazing job of mixing historical fiction with magical elements. The Ring & the Crown was such a captivating read from start to finish.

One of the things I loved about this book was that the story was that it was mostly told from the point of view of the female characters. This allowed me to feel sympathy for characters that I otherwise would hate such as Ronan, the social climbing American and Isabelle of Orleans who is willing to do anything to get back her lover who has become betrothed to Princess Marie-Victoria. As you can imagine there are a lot of characters in this book but surprisingly, it worked well for the story. Each of the characters’ voices were so distinct that there were never any confusion or mix up. I ended up loving all of the narrators, and couldn’t help but root for each and every one of them. Melissa de la Cruz does an excellent job of connecting each of her characters with one another; in particular, I truly enjoyed the relationship between Princess Marie-Victoria and Aelwyn Myrddyn who are the main players in this book as well as the friendship between Marie-Victoria and Wolfgang.

Although The Ring & the Crown is part fantasy, I felt it was especially accurate in how it portrayed the harsh realities and the fact that in real life there is no perfect happy ending for princes and princesses back then unlike the princes and princesses in fairy tales. This was the only thing I disliked about this book for the reason that I was starting to care so much for all the characters and I wanted them all to be happy. In the end it was extremely heartbreaking how almost all the characters just couldn’t seem to catch a break no matter what they did. I did however like the ending because it symbolized hope and optimism and signaled that there are more great things to come in the series. The Ring & the Crown is a novel filled with gorgeous prose and breath taking world building and descriptions. And while there was a lot of (mostly forbidden and tragic) romance in the book, I actually found it enjoyable since some of the pairings were actually sweet and there was more than enough magic, political intrigue and history in the plot to keep me hooked. The Ring & the Crown was my first book by Melissa de la Cruz and it won’t be my last. Overall I think this book has elements that would appeal to both fans of historical fiction and fantasy.

If you like this book, you’ll love: The Gypsy King by Maureen Fergus

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | Waiting For The Man by Arjun Basu

Authour:waiting
Arjun Basu
Format:
Hardcover, 294 pages
Publication date:
April 15th 2014
Publisher:
ECW Press
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for a blog tour.

Review:

“Every religion and ideology has claimed my action as their own. My actions were never, really, mine. I never owned them.” (p. 98)

Joe is just your average guy who like several people feels overworked and burned out. One night he has a dream of a man who tells him that he is waiting for him, and it is that one thing that causes him to leave his job and home in search of this mysterious man. What follows is more than just a story of one man’s journey; it becomes a sort of social commentary on things like the celebrity culture, social media and how the public combined with some creative advertising and marketing can turn something simple and ordinary into the next local sensation.

“Because I had a sense that despite Dan’s best efforts, this wasn’t huge. It wasn’t going viral. It was niche. I was just another bit of noise in the world. Some people listened but many didn’t.” (p. 137)

Though not indicated the chapters actually alternate between Joe on his journey as it quickly becomes a local media sensation and Joe in the present day, showing what his life is like afterwards. The voice of Joe is an especially captivating one throughout the novel and it truly spoke to me because a lot of what he says and thinks are relatable. However I found that there were numerous times where the writing felt drawn out, that plus the somewhat slow pacing made this novel feel much longer than its actual length. There also wasn’t much plot or action throughout the book so it was easy at times to get bored, still if you are patient you will discover that the story is a fascinating look at human nature and people in general. Joe, the narrator and protagonist could easily be anybody nowadays who is unhappy or unsatisfied or even those who have doubts about their lives.

” My thoughts were arrested always by one question: what did I hear? If not the Man, then what? How could I explain that? Did I really want to see the Man so badly that I had forsaken everything? Was my life so bad?” (p. 268)

Waiting for the Man is an unusual but extremely interesting literary novel. Nevertheless it is not a novel for everyone, if you don’t care for the social commentary in the book you may find it difficult to take and not as enjoyable. I for one, however found it to be an incredibly intelligently written book.

If you like this book, you’ll love: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Authour:open road
Emery Lord
Format:
Hardcover, 344 pages
Publication date:
April 15th 2014
Publisher:
Walker Childrens
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

“It takes a long time to learn someone. It takes a long time to see a person as a whole spectrum, from worst to best—from the mismanaged heartache that lands them in AA to the pancake dinners, from the hurtful things shouted in a dressing room to the huge-hearted strength that only a best friend can understand. Once you get there, it’s forever.” (p.312)

There are plenty of books where the “nice” girl falls for the not so nice boy – but what about the reverse? One of my favourite things about Emery Lord’s Open Road Summer is that it features Reagan, who is a strong, rough around the edges female protagonist who falls for a Matt Finch, a guy who, while not perfect, is a kind hearted guy.

Reagen O’Neill is just your average girl who has recently gone through a horrible breakup. Fortunately, her friend, Delilah or “Dee”, is a country music superstar who has a 24 city tour, and invites Reagan to come along as both girls could use a distraction from their recent heartbreak. I loved that the friendship between Dee and Reagan was always their first priority and that they were always supportive of each other.

Having read quite a bit of YA books this year, I have to say I have yet to meet a protagonist like Reagan. She is fiercely loyal to those she loves and despite experiencing things that could be deemed as traumatizing, she remains quite honest to whom she is and she never lets herself be seen as a victim. Reagan’s best friend, Dee, is also easy to adore, possesses a quiet strength and a personality that provides a nice balance to Reagan. I love how she is able to love so deeply, even though her career often got in the way. Both girls are people whom I’d love to be friends with in real life.

The only thing I disliked was the following; there was more emphasis on romance rather than friendship near the end of the novel, although there is a nice scene with Reagan and Dee as well. Actually I lied; there is a second thing I disliked about this book – which was that I felt it ended too soon. Even as I turned the last page, I wanted more.

Open Road Summer to me is the epitome of a perfect summer read; it is a touching and sweet story about love, and friendship; and best of all, it features a road trip! I highly recommend this book to fans of YA contemporary as it is so far my favourite YA contemporary read of 2014.

If you like this book, you’ll love: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Authour:storiedlife
Gabrielle Zevin
Format:
Hardcover, 260 pages
Publication date:
April 1st 2014
Publisher:
Viking Canada
Source:
Won in Chatelaine giveaway

Review:

“People tell boring lies about politics, God, and love. You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question, “What is your favorite book?”

Do you love books about family, love, and good stories? Well, do I have the book for you! Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is a heartwarming and inspiring novel that has all of that and so much more.

The book begins with an encounter between a publishing sales representative named Amelia and the owner of Island Books, A.J. Fikry. Needless to say the meeting does not go over too well. The readers soon learn that A.J. has been through a rough time since his wife has passed away and as I got to know more about the man, I grew to like him just a little bit more. I liked that he had strong opinions about book selling even though they made it difficult for him to run his store successfully.

Things dramatically change however when a mysterious package is left in A.J.’s bookstore. Inside this package is something that slowly forces A.J. to change the way he lives his life. He starts becoming less selfish and slowly open up to the community and their tastes out of necessity which endears the locals and other people more to him. Of course there are some things he remains steadfast in (such as his refusal to modernize his store and incorporate things like eBooks and eReaders).

My favourite relationship in the book is A.J.’s new found relationship – and I’m not talking about any romantic ones. The relationship with is one of familial love, and it really brings out the good in him while being adorable from their first meeting. The significance of this relationship can be seen in the passages that mark the start of each new chapter where A.J. writes about different short stories and addresses them to someone named “Maya”. Without spoiling too much I hope, I would have to say that these passages become more affecting once you get to the end of the book and realize when and why A.J. wrote them.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is also a book for those who love their bookstores. I liked that it showed a bit of how the working relationship between a sales representative and bookseller is like. And I agree that it is rare to find someone who knows your tastes so well. With the recent closure of so many independent bookstores, I think this is a good read in that it reminds us of the importance of small bookstores as a place where you can get the personal one on one service that you may find lacking in online websites or even the bigger box stores.

If you like this book, you’ll love: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Mystery Mondays | Blood Always Tells by Hilary Davidson

Mystery Mondays

Mystery Mondays is a sometimes weekly, sometimes biweekly and sometimes monthly review feature here on Words of Mystery that showcases books in the mystery (and on occasion thriller) genre that we are currently reading and our thoughts on them. Feel free to comment and leave suggestions as to what we should read and review next.

Authour:bloodalways
Hilary Davidson
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 320 pages
Publication date:
April 15th 2014
Publisher:
Forge Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
Before reading Hilary Davidson’s Blood Always Tells I was on the verge of another book slump but luckily this book prevented that from happening. Blood Always Tells is a story that is told in different parts with three different narrators. It starts with Dominique Monaghan, a model with pretty horrible taste in men. When we first meet her, she is having an affair with a married ex-boxer. One day while trying to get revenge on him, the two of them end up getting kidnapped. The second part is then told from the perspective of Dominique’s half brother, Desmond Edgars who used to be a delinquent and later went on to enlist in the military. Here we see Desmond trying to find out what happened after he received a distressed phone call from his sister. Finally the third part features a character named Polly, a minor but very pivotal character to the story.

I flew through this book in less than two days. And if you know me, you would know that this is a very rare occurrence. But I just couldn’t help it; this book had pretty much everything a good mystery should have. Blood Always Tells was very fast paced, very difficult to put down and thrilling up until the very last page. The story was gripping, and the plot was well developed and complex with so many twists and turns that you just want to keep reading on to find out what happens next.

And while I liked Dominique’s part more than the other two parts; I did like how in the second part of the book, Desmond’s character was used to illustrate racial stereotypes still prevalent today. It’s a sad fact that the discrimination that Desmond encounters because of his skin colour is something that is still very much a reality even today in our society. To be honest, I found all the characters to be quite fascinating even Trin who is supposed to be very villainous, as she is Dominique boyfriend’s wife. I couldn’t help but be intrigued by her rather than hating her. I highly recommend Blood Always Tells as it is a very thrilling, and fast paced mystery that is as much about family and redemption as it is about murder and kidnapping. This is a must read standalone for mystery fans.

If you like this book, you’ll love: The Execution by Dick Wolf

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Early Book Review | The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

Authour:geograpghy
Jennifer E. Smith
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 337 pages
Publication date:
April 15st 2014
Publisher:
Little, Brown for Young Readers
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
Jennifer E. Smith’s The Geography of You and Me is a contemporary young adult love story set in one of my favourite cities in the world, New York City. This was a book that I was really looking forward to reading this book; unfortunately I think I may have gone into with it extremely high expectations. The Geography of You and Me follows two teenagers, Owen and Lucy, Owens’s dad is struggling to find and keep a job while Lucy’s family is pretty well off. The two meet during a black out in New York City but soon have to part ways because of their respective family situations. The two teens then struggle move on with their lives while attempting to keep in touch through mostly postcards which is an odd choice. Normally I would find this to be super romantic, but I this case I didn’t really care for either character or for their relationships, which made it hard for me to enjoy their communications with each other.

Even though I did not really care for the main characters, I did find the story charming and both Lucy and Owen had their endearing moments especially in the rare instance when the readers are shown the kind of connection Lucy and Owen have. I also think the authour made a bold move in having the entire book told from an omniscient third person though separating the chapters that show Lucy’s life versus Owens’s life. I thought that because of the type of story The Geography of You and Me we would get two first person narrators, one for Lucy and one for Owen so I felt that by having one third person narration for both characters was an interesting choice. Also the chapters were pretty short which made it an easier read.

In the end, The Geography of You and Me is a simple story about two people who meet briefly and somehow develop an incredible connection which can be felt even when they are so physically far away from one another. It is also a story about two individuals trying to figure out who they are on their own. Though I found it a bit boring and unrealistic, I do think The Geography of You and Me has an interesting premise with a lot of potential that could make it appealing to the right reader which unfortunately was not me.

If you like this book, you’ll love: Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | We’ll Always Have Paris: A Mother/Daughter Adventure by Jennifer Coburn

Authour:alwaysparis
Jennifer Coburn
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 376 pages
Publication date:
April 8th 2014
Publisher:
Sourcebooks
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
We’ll Always Have Paris may not have much romance in it but it is definitely a story of love in particular family love. This is much more than a Paris travelogue as the memoir details all the various trips that Jennifer takes with her daughter Katie as Katie grows up. They not only travel to Paris but to many other European cities like Rome, London and Barcelona. Initially I couldn’t relate to either Jennifer or Katie, the latter being only a child at the start of the book I was able to relate to some of their experiences later as Katie got older. I loved seeing all the different places they visited and what they did there, and this book made me really want to travel right away with my mom to visit all the sites in the book including Shakespeare and Co. I had no idea that travelers could stay above the shop overnight if they worked a few hours a day at the bookstore, which was interesting. There were so many interesting travel tidbits throughout the book which made it feel like a sort of travel guide on top of being a memoir.

The travel aspect of the book was something that I expected given the title, but what I did not expect was the exploration into Jennifer’s past in particular the life of her father, who was one of the songwriters of the song, “Only A Fool Breaks His Own Heart”. Though it ran secondary to the travel parts, it was still a very essential part of this memoir. It is through the relationship that Jennifer has with her father that shapes who she is as an adult this includes of course her anxieties about dying. So while this book was not what I was expecting, it was a very touching and interesting read. We’ll Always Have Paris does a good job of exploring how one woman deals with the death of her parent and the trauma associated with it, as well it does an excellent job of illustrating the magic of traveling together as a family and how it can strengthen bonds and bring parents closer to their children.

If you like this book, you’ll love: The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | Dorothy Must Die (Dorothy Must Die #1) by Danielle Paige

Authour:dorthydies
Danielle Paige
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 452 pages
Publication date:
April 1st 2014
Publisher:
HarperCollins
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
Who here has grown up reading stories of an Oz that’s wonderful, beautiful and full of genuine happiness? Ok I haven’t but I did see the movie and I loved the retelling of the witches’ story in the musical Wicked. Anyways the Oz in the children books and the Judy Garland movie is not the Oz that is found in Danielle Paige’s Dorothy Must Die. Here Oz has become a dark and twisted due to the return of Dorothy who over the years has become both power and magic hungry.

Meet our protagonist, Amy Gumm. Amy is an ordinary, modern day, pink haired teenager from Kansas whose mission is as the title suggests; to kill Dorothy. Personally I found prefer Amy’s character over Dorothy both the original Dorothy as well as this retelling’s version. And while I was a bit frustrated with how she kept on disregarding the warnings of others to do what she felt was right, I slowly came to accept that this was part of who she was. And in the end it does pay off for her. Another thing that increasingly annoyed me was how ill prepared Amy was in her mission, it felt like she was practically thrown into her mission by those who supposedly “trained” her when she clearly wasn’t ready for such a big task. In addition I was shocked at how vague her instructions were and this in the end had its consequences.

When it comes to the world building, Danielle Paige has done a fantastic job remaking the land of Oz as her own. It was interesting to see how each of the once familiar Wizard of Oz characters were now adapted in this retelling. As a warning though there are some gory parts in this book though given the title it should come as no surprise to the readers. However these are few and they are usually in between the action scenes which are fast paced, exciting and magical of course as it is set in Oz. And while I could have done without the element of romance, (maybe it’s just me but I enjoyed her interactions with the witches more) it thankfully was only a minor part in the entire book so it did not distract too much from main plot and Amy’s mission.

Dorothy Must Die is a thrilling, creative and dark take on a classic children’s novel series that is filled with political intrigue, espionage, and magic. It is also a tale of coming to terms with who you are and accepting yourself. I can’t wait to read more in this series, and strongly suggest that all YA fans pick this book up.

If you like this book, you’ll love: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | Listen to the Squawking Chicken: A Daughter’s Blueprint for Life from the Mother Who Thinks She Knows Best

Authour:chicken
Elaine Lui
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 223 pages
Publication date:
April 1st 2014
Publisher:
Random House Canada
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
My siblings and I grew up with not one, but two Asian immigrant moms. The first being of course our biological mothers, and the second being her older sister, our aunt, who we add the prefix “ma” in front of her name instead of calling her “auntie”. So I can definitely relate to many of the things mentioned in Elaine Luis’s sort of memoir. However in my case, my mom’s older sister fits more of the stereotypes of “Chinese” moms than my actual mother. This was probably the main draw for me when it came to this book; I love reading non-fiction especially those that I know I can relate to. My “moms” both used shaming and public embarrassment as well as guilt to get us to do what they want us to do. This mostly consisted of not being lazy and working hard instead of day dreaming.

What makes Listen to the Squawking Chicken: A Daughter’s Blueprint for Life from the Mother Who Thinks She Knows Best (I know – long title, right?) unique, in my opinion, is that it tells real stories of both Elaine and her mother aka”the squawking chicken” while at the same time incorporating elements of Chinese superstition and mythology into real life events in the book. I actually learned a lot more about Chinese culture than I did before as many of the traditions aren’t practiced in my family.

The Squawking Chicken is quite a fascinating character, and after learning about her past we get a better sense that she is a person who was reborn as the person she became out of the circumstances in her life. She is also someone who I would love to meet out of curiosity, but would probably be too intimidated to meet in real life. Though Elaine comments many times that this is her mother’s story, by the end of the book I felt like it was more of a story about both of them with a particular spotlight on the special mother-daughter relationship Elaine and her mother share.

Although Listen to the Squawking Chicken is a very short read, it is full of substance within its pages. There is also a good mix of hilarious moments like when the Squawking Chicken rounds up a bunch of her mah-jong playmates to go confront a home wrecker. This, however, is balanced out with serious moments – such as the story of the Squawking Chicken’s past and her inability to keep friends. Overall Listen to the Squawking Chicken: a Daughter’s Blueprint for Life from the Mother Who Thinks She Knows Best is a highly enjoyable read that I think will make many think twice about taking their mothers for granted.

My squawking chickens.
My squawking chickens.

UPDATE: I recently got to meet Elaine (aka Lainey) at a signing she did in Toronto and received both an arc signed for my sister, as well as a personalized finished copy of her book for me. I was extremely nervous and didn’t say much when I met her, but Lainey was incredibly kind in person as she took the time to chat with me and even got up when I asked to take a picture with her. Also just wanted to give a shout out here to the Random House publicist, Adria who was at the event. Thank you for making me feel extremely welcomed and comfortable. Overall it was a great event, and it was really interesting to hear Lainey speak in person about her experiences writing her book and about her mother.

If you like this book, you’ll love: The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.