Book Review | First Jobs: True Tales of Bad Bosses, Quirky Coworkers, Big Breaks, and Small Paychecks by Merritt Watts

firstjobsAuthour:
Merritt Watts
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 234 pages
Publication date:
April 28th 2015
Publisher:
Picador
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
Do you remember your first job? I sure do, mine was at a fairly upscale clothing store and frankly I had no idea what I was doing there at the time. Interestingly enough the company that owned the store has now declared bankruptcy, and it no longer exists.

The editors of First Jobs: True Tales of Bad Bosses, Quirky Coworkers, Big Breaks, and Small Paychecks make a fair point when they say that while the majority of us may remember where we first worked, few of us actually remember what we spent our money we made from those jobs on.

What I enjoyed with reference to First Jobs by Merritt Watts was the fact that there was a wide range of job experiences. While we hear about the experiences of numerous “regular” people, there are also a number of stories from several quite influential people in the book. It was nice to hear how these powerful and occasionally famous people got their start. I also appreciated how each story wasn’t too long, and I found that they were all unique and extremely entertaining to read. A few of the stories were inspiring while others were extra hilarious as a result of their random nature. Another remarkable thing to note was that the book was quite inclusive in that it included stories from people of different generations as a result you get to observe how work has changed over the years and how various elements still remain the same.

Overall it was interesting to discover what people took from their various job experiences i.e. skills they picked up, lesson learned etc. I also loved how the book was divided into sections like weird jobs and jobs that acted as a started point for people. All in all, First Jobs was a fascinating and highly amusing collection of stories looking at the first jobs that some people had.

Anyways to conclude this review I thought it would be fun to ask some of my friends to share their own first job experiences here:

“I was a hostess for one of Ontario’s famous buffet franchises. Although there were a small number of staff that did make my first job a little uneasy, but there were also a number of coworkers that brightened up my experience over the course of two years. I was nervous at times especially around my strict manager, even if my job sounded fairly easy.” –  June

“My first job was at Benix & Co., a kitchen store. It taught me how become a better people person and how to work with others. As a first job, it was fun and educational with a small staff that created a positive environment.” – Kat

“My first job actually begins with my mom. My mom worked in a dental office as a receptionist and because I was an only child, it was easier to bring along to work when there wasn’t really busy days. I would help with highlighting things and filing some files away. It wasn’t really a job, but it was fun to be around my mom. And as I got older, the more I would accompany her, the more I would learn. It is interesting that this is where it all began, because I am still a part-time receptionist today and everything I’ve learned begins from my early job experience with my mom.” – Christine @ Padfoot’s Library

“My first job was at Canada’s Wonderland as an Events Attendant. My job was to ensure that people who were attending the Live Entertainment events were behaving and that nothing was going wrong. I hated the job- it was so noisy and people were bossy and pushy, but my colleagues were super nice!” – Tanya @ Book Loving Hippo

 

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 | Crime Seen by Kate Lines

crimeseenAuthour:
Kate Lines
Format:
Hardcover, 247 pages
Publication date:
April 7th 2015
Publisher:
Random House Canada
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

“We may have been deep underground, but where we were was definitely the real world, where trying to understand the criminal mind could be a matter of life or death.” (p. 4)

As somebody who once flirted with the idea of becoming a profiler, I was looking forward to reading Crime Seen as not is it by a former profiler, but one that is also a Canadian and a woman. For those of you who love watching crime show dramas similar to CSI, Criminal Minds or even Bones, I would definitely recommend that you pick this book up. As a proud Canadian, I loved the fact that the authour herself is Canadian as its more common for us to observe how the American police system works since that is what’s usually portrayed in TV shows and movies.

Having taken a few courses in law and psychology in university, I took pleasure in reading the book and recognizing several of the methods and theory from what I learned in class. Although, the majority of it was stuff I was already aware of, it was still interesting to read the first hand experience of a Canadian police officer and profiler. Not only do you get to read on the subject of how a profile is created, and how a profiler mind works on the job, but you also get a glimpse into the possible inner workings of various criminals.

However, Crime Seen is more than a book concerning crime; it’s also an extremely inspiring story concerning how one woman was persistent and took every opportunity that came her way to advancing herself and work her way up the ladder in a field that still is today dominated by men. As one of the Canadians to study at FBI academy, Kate Lines broke through countless glass ceilings on her way to the top and to her position as the chief superintendent of the OPP. As this is also her story, we get to witness what it was like being a woman on the police force when women were just starting to become police officers. In particular, I enjoyed her recollections of her time as an undercover cop. Since, this is an area that is often glamorized by Hollywood; it was refreshing to hear about the grittier, less luxurious side of doing undercover work.

Finally, Crime Seen is also a story concerning the victims of the cases that Lines worked on throughout her career. The stories she shares regarding the victims and their families are both raw and meaningful whether or not they had a “happy ending”. And as these were real life cases, there wasn’t always a pleasant, happy ending with all the loose ends tied up. All in all, I found Crime Seen a compelling read that was truly difficult to put down.

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 | Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick

spinsterAuthour:
Kate Bolick
Format:
Trade Paperback, 162 pages
Publication date:
April 21st 2015
Publisher:
Crown
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

“What if a girl grew up like a boy, with marriage an abstract, someday thought, a thing to think about when she became an adult, a thing she could do, or not do depending?” (p. 4)

To my knowledge, there isn’t a large amount of literature on women who have chosen to remain unmarried. Thus, when I heard about Kate Bolick’s Spinster: Making A Life of One’s Own I knew for sure that I needed to read this book.

Throughout the book, Bolick weaves together her personal story with the histories of various women writers who she views as “spinsters”. These are all women are viewed as being “untraditional” for their time, each in their own unique way. It was absolutely fascinating learning about all these incredible women, and their struggles in addition to their achievements. In fact I found myself often putting down the book to look up these women and their works online and adding several books and stories on to my tbr pile.

If I were to be perfectly frank, I went into this book thinking that it would be a book that just celebrates being single and choosing to be single. However, it is so much more than that as Bolick proposes broadening the definition of the term, “spinster”. No longer should it refer to only the women who live alone and decide to be single (though maybe with a few cats to keep her company) for the rest of their lives. Alternatively, it should also include those who are unhappily coupled and can remember what it was like to be single and how it may even be better than being in a terrible relationship in addition to those who are happily coupled, as it can serve as a reminder to create time for themselves to be on their own.

Spinster is definitely a book that I would recommend for not just happily (or even unhappily) coupled people who are questioning – whether their single female friends are truly content being alone, but also for any young woman who is desires to build a life of their own and who is not one that is willing to settle for anything less.

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 Truth Commission by Susan Juby

truthcomm

As part of the blog tour, we’ve been asked to play Two Truths and a Lie. For those of you unfamiliar with the game, you make three statements, 2 of which are true and 1 is a lie. So here are mine:

1. My older sister was the one who initially inspired me to study psychology.
2. I’m terrified of snakes.
3. We used to have a pet dog back when we were kids.

The reveal for which statement is the lie will be at the end of my review.

 

truthcomAuthour:
Susan Juby
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 309 pages
Publication date:
April 14th 2015
Publisher:
Razorbill Canada
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
It’s has been awhile since I initially read Alice, I Think by Susan Juby. As a result, I was intrigued when I heard that she had a new YA novel coming out. The Truth Commission is the story of Normandy Pale and it is written as the narrative fiction or rather a piece of creative non-fiction which is to be Normandy’s project for her junior year of high school. Therefore we are treated to countless footnotes that Normandy uses to address her teacher in addition to anyone who’s reading her work. These provided a light-hearted touch though they could become quite irritating when she uses loads of them at once, which she hilariously lampshades in the book.

If I ought to be honest, this book was nothing reminiscent what I had expected. Though, that may have to do with the fact that I read exceptionally little on it going into the book. Consequently, I was surprised to discover that the book was much darker than I had imagined. However, this is neither a good nor a terrible thing. Instead we receive a unique and captivating YA novel that is also a remarkable piece of storytelling.

Normandy’s story is a compelling one as it shows what happens when fiction and real life collide, and I found it interesting that Normandy is dragged into become a “Truth Commission” which her two best friends, Dusk and Neil. This was for the reason that Normandy was concealing various incredibly dark secrets concerning her older sister and her family which made it weirdly hilarious that she was being made to ask people for their truths when she is extremely closed off, herself.

As a co-creator of a web comic, myself (#fakememories), I resonated a great deal with the themes in Susan Juby’s The Truth Commission. Reading The Truth Commission has made me take a step back and critically examine how I tell the stories on top of how I write and portrayal characters in #fakememories. Thus, I consider The Truth Commission to be an essential read for everybody especially for those who write and tell stories.

And finally if you’re wondering which one of my statements was a lie, it was #2.

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 Truth About Us by Janet Gurtler

The truth about usAuthour:
Janet Gurtler
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 312 pages
Publication date:
April 7th 2015
Publisher:
Sourcebooks Fire
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
In case you haven’t notice, I read A LOT of contemporary YA. In fact, it is my go-to genre to read in between all the heavier literary novels. Anyway, Janet Gurtler has recently become one of my favourite YA contemporary authours, I just love how she writes family relationships, friendships and romance. Also, I adored her previous book, #16thingsithoughtweretrue and I knew I would also enjoy her latest, The Truth about Us.

The Truth about Us is about a girl named Jess, who from a family that is quite well off. Jess has a tendency to do stupid, reckless things due to stress at home as a result of an incident that left her mother dramatically changed while affecting the rest of her family. Feeling alone, she decides the best way to deal with the stress is to act out. Unfortunately, one day her father decides he’s had enough and he “punishes” her by making her volunteer at the local soup kitchen for her entire summer. It’s there that she becomes more acquainted with Flynn, a guy who she met earlier. However, this book consists of more than just romance between two teenagers, since Jess also befriends various other characters in the soup kitchen including Flynn’s lovable younger brother Kyle and an elderly man who may not be as grouchy as he initially appears. Speaking of which, I loved the friendship between Wilf and Jesse for the reason that they are just straight with each other and neither one backs down.

In addition, I liked Jess as a protagonist on her alone for the reason that even though she was impulsive and selfish, she still had a soft spot. In this case Jess had a soft spot for kids similar to Kyle and her neighbour, and witnessing that sweet side of her was incredibly heartwarming. I also thought it was interesting how the authour address the issue of poverty in this book. Flynn and Jess are from different neighbourhoods which represent two different social classes, and I was surprised that it caused a bit of conflict in this book. Perhaps it’s for the reason that I’ve been fortunate not to be a victim or witness of such discrimination that it surprises me when I find that even today there are people who judge others based on how much money they believe you or your family has.

The Truth about Us does an excellent job at illustrating that there is always more to a person than what you get at first glimpse. Thus while this book shares numerous similarities with Gurtler’s last book, it also stands on its own as a unique and good read. Not to mention, that I probably like it just a bit more than #16thingsithoughtweretrue.

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 | I Am Her Revenge by Meredith Moore

Authour: Revenge
Meredith Moore
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 319 pages
Publication date:
April 7th 2015
Publisher:
Razorbill
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
I tend to be a bit mistrustful when it comes to revenge novels, as I find that especially in YA ones there’s a trend towards a greater focus on the romance than the revenge aspect of the plot. Fortunately Meredith Moore’s I Am Her Revenge was a pleasant surprise in that it did not disappoint. From the start, I found the narrative to be extremely compelling, so much so that it was incredibly difficult for me to put the book down.

I Am Her Revenge follows Vivian, who has been trained all her life by her mother to exact revenge on the man who not only broke her mother’s heart but also ruined her mother’s life. This book was equal parts thrilling and creepy, especially the flashbacks to how Vivian was raised by her mother. I am obsessed with Vivian as a protagonist for the reason that of she is extremely cold and calculating. Still, deep down Vivian isn’t a terrible person rather she hasn’t been taught any better. And getting a glimpse into her mind, we also discover that she’s not exactly a “flawless” weapon in reality she’s just a girl who is afraid of her mother. In particular she’s terrified of being punished and she does not wish to disappoint the one person who’s always been there for her albeit in a twisted way.

Therefore, I liked seeing Vivian soften up and begin to care for others all while not deterring from her mission. I felt that this was handled quite nicely as it would’ve been a cop out and completely out of her character if she just suddenly had a change of heart and walked away from it all. Additionally, there is of course a little romance in the book and while at times it is a bit much I did appreciate how after everything she acknowledges that she’s not normal and that things akin to having a relationship won’t be trouble-free as it will not be simple to undo everything that her mother taught her, at least not right away.

There were a few things that I did not truly care for that occurred near the novel’s conclusion such as how one character expected Vivian to accept them and become a certain person; in addition, I felt that the pacing near the conclusion of the book felt slightly rushed. However, those are just two minor elements. Overall I felt that I Am Her Revenge was a revenge story done right and if you are looking for a good revenge story and you are fond of books set in boarding schools, you should definitely check this one out.

If you like this book, you’ll love: Trust Me, I’m Lying by Mary Elizabeth Summer

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