Midweek Mini Reviews #8

You Can Have a Dog When I’m Dead: Essays on Life at an Angle by Paul Benedetti

Continuing my pattern of reading collections of personal essays, I decided to pick up Paul Benedetti ‘s You Can Have a Dog When I’m Dead: Essays on Life at an Angle. This book is a collection of his past columns for The Hamilton Spectator where he writes about his life, family and of course his neighbour Dave. Maintaining a good balance of being heartfelt, witty, hilarious and self-deprecating Benedetti’s writing at times reminded me of the writing style of the late Stuart McLean’s. Touching on every happenings in his life, there is definitely something that everyone can relate to in this collection of essays.

Well written and organized in a short and simple way, You Can Have a Dog When I’m Dead: Essays on Life at an Angle is most certainly a book that was made to take along with you on vacation or even for a weekend at the cottage.

This Time Around by Tawna Fenske

For those looking for a light, sweet contemporary romance Tawna Fenske’s This Time Around definitely does the trick. I adored the setting and all the characters, especially Jack’s daughter, Paige (who stole every scene she was in and even some that she wasn’t in) and Allie’s new friend, Skye. Furthermore it was difficult not to root for Jack and Allie as they were perfect for each other.

The only issue I had with this book was the conflict with Allie’s family and the money she discovers, I found it incredibly frustrating that she just kept on making poor decisions when it came to that. However, this was offset by the absurdity of what else she finds in her grandmother’s attic as it seems every character was finding something there.

This Time Around, is one of those warms that leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy in the end, and I like how it shows that the life you expected might not be the life you get and how sometimes it’s the unexpected that leaves us pleasantly surprised.

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 | Traveling with Ghosts by Shannon Leone Fowler


travelghostsAuthour:

Shannon Leone Fowler
Format:
ARC, 294 pages
Publication date:
February 21st 2017
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
Both the authour, and the (human) love of her life, Sean were only in their twenties when Sean was stung by a jellyfish in Thailand and died almost instantaneously. What follows is the authour’s journey of learning to live with this tremendous personal loss. I can’t begin to imagine the amount of grief, she must have felt losing the (second) love of her life due to the first love of her life, the sea.

I love an excellent travel memoir, and in Travelling with Ghosts, the authour takes us back to the times and places she travelled to with her fiancé. This done both through flashbacks to when Sean was alive in addition to descriptions of her return to these countries, this time on her own. I particularly enjoyed the section where she goes to Israel to visit the two Israeli girls who stayed with her when Sean died in Thailand. It was fascinating to read how different the country was back when the authour visited Israel compared to when I went there eight years later.

However, Travelling with Ghosts is more than just a beautiful travelogue, it is also a story about loss, grief, and one woman’s journey that follows. Unlike the majority of memoirs, nothing is sugar-coated here. As is the case in real life occasionally there are no silver linings, but regardless, we must find a way to manage and continue on with our lives despite being forever changed.

If you are someone who enjoys reading poignant memoirs that are somewhat longer than you should consider picking up Travelling with Ghosts. While I felt that some sections dragged on for too long, Travelling with Ghosts was overall a decent read that encourages people to be courageous and not be afraid to venture on their own.

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 Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen

refugeesAuthour:
Viet Thanh Nguyen
Format:
ARC, 440 pages
Publication date:
February 7th 2017
Publisher:
Grove Press
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
You may have heard of the writer, Viet Thanh Nguyen from his Pulitzer (and other prizes/awards) winning debut novel The Sympathizer. And while the synopsis of The Sympathizer didn’t truly appeal to me, I was looking forward to The Refugees as my introduction to his writing.

The Refugees is a collection of eight short stories that have previously been published before in some form. While all the stories are stand-alones they share the common themes of family, identity, love and often how the characters’ lives were either directly or indirectly affected by the Vietnam War (known as the “American” War by numerous Vietnamese people).

Though I am of Vietnamese descent, I’ve been fortunate enough to have been born into a somewhat privilege background, however reading stories concerning those who fled South Vietnam made me re-examine my parents struggles.  While I could not relate to some of their experiences there were several other elements of the stories that I could relate to. For instance, my family knew people who owned convenience stores and tailor shops and the story, The Transplant gave me chills as my father was a recipient of an anonymous organ donation. Lastly the sisters’ relationship in Fatherland is vaguely reminiscent of the relationship that I have with my sister albeit we were both born in Canada.

Of all the stories, Someone Else Besides You and Fatherland both of which are stories where the fathers play a major role are the ones that stood out to me as the most memorable ones. Though, regardless of my personal preference each of the eight stories in The Refugees are thought provoking and emotionally powerful contributions to this collection of stories that excels in its observation of human experiences.

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