Book Review | Am I There Yet? The Loop-de-Loop, Zigzagging Journey to Adulthood by Mari Andrew

Authour:
Mari Andrew
Format:
Hardcover
Publication date:
March 27th, 2018
Publisher:
Clarkson Potter Publisher
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

“If you stumble,” she said, “that’s a great sign. It means you found your edge. You tried something that didn’t work, and now you know.”  (p. 15)

If you are on Instagram, you may be familiar with the name, Mari Andrew or have seen illustrations her Instagram account, bymariandrew where she posts meme like illustrations that are incredibly relatable, especially if you are in your twenties and still struggling to find your way through life. However, not only is she a talented artist, she is also a writer!

Am I There Yet? The Loop-de-Loop, Zigzagging Journey to Adulthood is her first book, a memory graphic novel that collects her illustrations alongside essays that give readers insight into the stories behind her drawings. Of course, the main draw for me was the drawings, however, I did find a few of her essays interesting and they do perfectly compliment the illustrations.

Divided into eight sections, my favourite is her section on “Finding Purpose” in addition to the one titled, “Finding Yourself”  as I love the travel illustrations and stories and the advice contain in both chapters. I also enjoyed the chapter called, “Love and Dating” since it contained the most entertaining and hilarious illustrations. I loved sharing the illustrations with my friends as there were several drawings that they felt truly captured their life and feelings in their twenties.

Am I There Yet? is the perfect book for anyone who feels as if they should have had all their sh*t figured out by their twenties and are stressed to find that this not the case now that they are in their late twenties. By sharing her own (ongoing) journey to adulthood, filled with heartbreak, love, loss, rejection and of course adventure, Andrew creates a comforting read assuring readers that they are not alone in this feeling of confusion. And that’s where ever you decide to go or whoever you decide to be, you’re going to be okay.

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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Midweek Mini Reviews #15


Moshi Moshi by Banana Yoshimoto, Asa Yoneda (Translator), Mai Ohno (Illustrator)

Moshi Moshi was my first Banana Yoshimoto novel, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Similar to several other well-known Japanese writers, there is an element of magical realism to the story. However, in this case, it is extremely subtle and takes the form of a not quite a ghost story since the “ghost” of the protagonist’s recently father haunts the pages of the book and remains a significant “presence” despite not actually being present. Yoshimoto’s writing is incredibly minimalist and cool, yet she manages to provide some fascinating commentary on the traditional gender roles and expectations in Japan today. Furthermore, she does an excellent job of capturing the grief and the process of trying to move on when someone you love dies in a remarkably traumatic manner. In addition, it was refreshing to see an accurate portrayal of a mother-daughter relationship where both are now grown yet neither are completely dependent on the other. But what I loved the most about Moshi Moshi, was the setting of the novel. Set in the Tokyo neighbourhood of Shimokitazawa, the book made me want to visit the area and check out the restaurants for myself. The only issue I truly had with Moshi Moshi was the romantic development and conclusion in the book as it was a bit unsettling and awkward. Nevertheless, Moshi Moshi is a soothing read in spite of its weirdness.

Feeding My Mother: Comfort and Laughter in the Kitchen as My Mom Lives with Memory Loss by Jann Arden

Jann Arden’s latest book, Feeding My Mother: Comfort and Laughter in the Kitchen as My Mom Lives with Memory Loss touches upon a topic that is near and dear to my heart. Having worked with patients suffering from Alzheimer’s, I was looking forward to this memoir of caring for elderly parents who have dementia. Told in dated journal entries interspersed with personal photos and recipes, the Canadian singer-songwriter brings readers into the daily realities of her life as a caregiver to a parent who has dementia. At times, the book feels almost too real however that’s the beauty of it. Arden’s candor about what it’s really like for the families of those with dementia makes Feeding My Mother resonates so much more for those whose loved ones also have dementia. The design of the book is also beautiful and soothing, and I loved the gorgeous photos included in the book. I also liked the theme of food in the book, and will definitely be attempting to make some of the recipes in the book like the Four-Cheese Mac. An absolutely heartbreaking yet warm, and comforting read.

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

 

Midweek Mini Reviews #13


Love Me True: Writers Reflect on the Ins, Outs, Ups and Downs of Marriage edited by Fiona Tinwei Lam &  Jane Silcott 

This collection of essays and poems edited by writers Fiona Tinwei Lam and Jane Silcott focuses on the various stages of marriage. From the decision to get married to the struggles to partings to celebrations and everything in between, there is a good variety of “stories” contained in this collection. Two of the pieces that stood out to me were Luanne Armstrong’s The Evolution of Marriage as it was the first piece to truly speak to mean and Betsy Warland’s Dear Son as it’s a letter filled with both wisdom and love to her son. And of course, I also enjoyed the Ayelet Tasbari piece as I’m a huge fan of her writing. Love Me True: Writers Reflect on the Ins, Outs, Ups and Downs of Marriage is a heartfelt collection and I definitely appreciated the diversity in the pieces that were selected to be part of the book. However, the biggest draw of Love Me True was the fact that the writers featured in this book were predominantly Canadian. In addition to familiar names like of Mandy Len Catron, Ayelet Tasbari, and Yasuko Thanh readers will be introduced to several other talented and diverse Canadian voices.

Would You Rather: A Memoir of Growing Up and Coming Out by Katie Heaney

At this point, I’ve basically read all of Katie Heaney’s books and I’d have to say that I think she is a stronger essayist than she is a fiction writer. Would You Rather is a follow-up to her début book and first memoir, Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without a Date and let’s just say, her relationship status has changed significantly in between the two books. The main change has been the fact that Katie has realized that she is no longer attracted to men and is now content in a long-term relationship with her girlfriend, Lydia. I was intrigued by this book since I was looking forward to reading about how Heaney coming to terms with her sexuality. As always, her writing is quirky, honest and accessible due to its conversational tone. And while it took me some time to become invested in the book since not much actually happens, I did enjoy a few of the essays in Would You Rather. “OkCupid Redux” which is about Katie finally finding love with her girlfriend, Lydia was sweet and both “Roommates” and “Something New” easy to relate to. Would You Rather is an interesting exploration of what comes after you “come out” late in life and that along with all the usual confusion and changes, there is also the realization that somehow there will always be stuff to figure out. But isn’t that the case for all of us?

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 Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled from India to Europe for Love by Per J. Andersson

Authour:
Per J. Andersson
Format:
Hardcover
Publication date:
March 14th 2017
Publisher:
Oneworld Publications
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

The astrologer returned to tell my fortune. He took a sharpened stick and scratched my future on a palm leaf. ‘He will marry a girl from far, far way, from outside the village, the district, the province, the state and even the country,’ it began.

I love an interesting travel story, and even more so if it’s a love story. That being said, Per J. Andersson’s The Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled from India to Europe for Love is remarkable in how little of the central love story is shown.

Now don’t get me wrong, it was incredibly fascinating learning about India’s complicated history with its caste system. Furthermore, I appreciated how uncensored the book was in illustrating the hardships of those born into the Dalit aka “untouchable” caste and just how corruption and discrimination based on caste remains prevalent even with all the new laws and regulations today..

While both PK and Lotta are characters in the so-called “love story”, The Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled from India to Europe for Love truly is the story of P.K., the titular “man”. The book is told in a way that is similar to a documentary where we follow P.K’s life from birth to his days as a struggling student and artist who is eventually “discovered” by some influential figures to when he meets Lotta. Unfortunately we do not get much insight into why or how they fall in love with one another.

While not the ultimate love story, The Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled from India to Europe for Love is astonishing in that showcases the power of one extremely fortunate man’s perseverance in addition to showing readers just how kind strangers can be to one another especially travellers. Well-written despite the overuse of exposition, The Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled from India to Europe for Love while not a book for everyone may be enjoyed by those intrigued by the class structure and distinctions in India.

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

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.

 

Midweek Mini Reviews #5

  

 Goodnight From London by Jennifer Robson 

gl

I’m a huge fan of Jennifer Robson’s first two novels from her The Great War series so I was excited to finally get the opportunity to meet her and get an ARC of her newest book, Goodnight from London which is actually part of a new series set during the 1940s.

Goodnight from London like Robson’s past novels is extremely well researched and you truly get a feel for what it was like for a female war correspondent. Which was an interesting as its amazing just how far Ruby’s male coworkers went in order to protect their pride and bring her down. I loved how the writing and descriptions of all the sights and sounds whisked me away on a London adventure with the heroine as I’ve never been to England before.

If you’re looking for romance there’s not much of it here as its all very slow burn and takes a backseat to Ruby’s professional life. However, there are great friendships, work relationships  and family bonds that are formed and it was lovely to see Ruby finally find a warm, loving and supportive place that she could settle down in and call “home”. I’m definitely looking forward to the next Jennifer Robson book!
Publisher Social Media: Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/

What Remains: Object Lessons in Love and Loss by Karen Von Hahn

whatremains

I first came across this title in the House of Anansi catalogue and the synopsis had me curious to learn more. Fortunately, I was able to get an ARC of it at OLA while waiting for their Ian Hamilton signing.

What Remains by Karen Von Hahn is a memoir about a daughter, recalling her larger than life, dramatic mother. It’s also a fascinating look at the writer’s life and upbringing as well as her mother’s life and how each of their personal circumstances made them who they were and are. I thought it was unique for the authour to use objects that were significant to her and/or her late mother as starting points for each of the chapters in the book and as a way to examine the writer’s family history and significant relationships. I also appreciated the fact that unlike most other memoirs I’ve read, this one takes place in Toronto, which allowed me to see what the city and neighbourhoods were once like back in the 1970s and ’80s.

Recommended for those who are all too familiar with having grown up with a (somewhat) maddening and overburdening yet glamorous mother, or those who like those types of memoirs and wanting to get a glimpse at the life of the privileged in Toronto during the 1970s and ’80s.

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 | This Is Really Happening by Erin Chack


Authour:

Erin Chack
Format:
ARC, 229 pages
Publication date:
April 25th 2017
Publisher:
Razorbill
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
2017 seems to be the year of new books from the writers and editors of major social media websites similar to Popsugar, Elite Daily and of course Buzzfeed. This is Really Happening follows this pattern, as it is a collection of personal essays and stories from Erin Chack who is a senior writer at Buzzfeed.

This is Really Happening is another title that I read an excerpt of in 2016, and after reading that preview I knew I needed to read the rest! And fortunately for me, I was able to snag an ARC of it. The book itself truly does read as if you were having a conversation and catching up with an old friend. Erin Chack’s writing is straight forward, relatable, and poignant with just the right amount of humour to save things from getting too heavy and dark. This is especially true as she dives right into the serious topics and discusses her diagnosis with cancer and the reality of learning that you have cancer from the start.

Some of my favourite essays in this book were, “Don’t Read the Comments” about what it’s truly like to have writing as your day job while giving us a glimpse at the behind the scenes at Buzzfeed and what happens when a post you write goes viral. I also enjoyed “Find your Carrot” where Erin shares in an honest and frank manner what’s it actually like to date a person for over a decade and how you grow and change together through the different personas you both inhabit through the years.

Compared to the majority of other memoirs from hilarious women, This is Really Happening is definitely one that would appeal more to the YA audience. However even if YA isn’t quite your jam, it is still worth it to pick up This is Really Happening as it’s an unflinchingly honest, quick and fairly lighthearted read into what life can be like for a millennial which in itself is quite entertaining.

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 | How to Make a French Family: A Memoir of Love, Food, and Faux Pas by Samantha Verant

frenchfamAuthour:
Samantha Verant
Format:
e-Galley
Publication date:
April 1st 2017
Publisher:
Sourcebooks
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
What happens after you reunite with the Frenchman you fell in love with 20 years ago, and the two of you marry in a romantic, fairy tale California wedding? In Samantha Vérant’s How to Make a French Family we learn what happens after she marries the love of her life and moves to southwestern France to live with him and his two young children.

What I love with regards to How to Make a French Family is that Vérant doesn’t sugarcoat things concerning the various difficulties she has initially with adjusting to life in a foreign country in addition to her role as a step-mother. She faces resistance, isolation loneliness and the occasional humiliation (due to the odd unintentional language faux pas) and yet gradually she learns to adjust to her new life in France all while making a couple of new friends too. Through it all, Vérant draws you into her world with her gorgeous prose and teleports you along her in moments of both sadness and joy.

What’s also interesting in this book is that the author tells us the story of how her first memoir, Seven Letters from Paris came to be. For those who are interested in publishing, it’s an interesting glimpse at one way of how a book can come about. And for those of you who haven’t read Seven Letters from Paris I highly recommend that you pick it up. In fact, before starting How to Make a French Family I picked up Seven Letters from Paris again and it remained just as excellent of a read as I remember.

In Seven Letters from Paris, my favourite parts were of Samantha and Jean-Luc interacting with each other and rekindling their romance from when they were young. However, in How to Make a French Family I adored reading the moments where she interact with her stepchildren and how she forms a bond with them. This is especially heartwarming given the children’s volatile and mistrustful relationship with their last stepmother.

As a person who loves travel and food, this book was a pleasure to read. Food plays a major role in How to Make a French Family and Vérant provides readers with recipes of dishes that she or her family members/friends have made that were mentioned in the book. Once again, Vérant has written another gem that has you cheering her on as she tackles her challenge of “how to make a French family”.

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

Midweek Mini Reviews #4 (Travel Edition)



All Over the Place: Adventures in Travel, True Love, and Petty Theft by Geraldine DeRuiter

allover

Down to earth and written in an easy to relate manner like Geraldine DeRuiter‘s blog The Everywhereist, All Over the Place: Adventures in Travel, True Love, and Petty Theft isn’t your typical travel memoir. While travel is a major theme, the book is more about the role that travel has played in the DeRuiter‘s life and not a tell all about the various travel adventures she’s had one her own and with her husband. This makes the book more of a memoir than a travelogue.

With a gift for telling stories of simple, albeit messy life moments DeRuiter manages to turn these moments into something remarkable leaving a poignant message for the reader. In particular, I loved the chapter where she describes how she slowly “fall in love” with the city of Ashland, Oregon comparing it to how she fell for her husband. And for all those who are not “pros” at travelling, you’ll definitely appreciate the chapter where she comes to the conclusion that getting lost isn’t the end of the world, and that you may not be an expert on travelling but at least you are the “expert” on your own travel experiences which can be just as valuable.

A sweet, comforting, and quick read I love how the common thread among all chapters in Geraldine DeRuiter‘s All Over the Place is that it forms one big love letter to her husband to whom the book is dedicated to.

Off Track Planet’s Travel Guide for the Young, Sexy, and Broke: Completely Revised and Updated by Off Track Planet

offtrack

I love travelling and have a serious case of wanderlust. And while I have been fortunate enough to have visited a handful of countries it’s definitely not enough! This year I’m hoping to get the opportunity to solo travel to a place that I’ve been dying to go to since I was little. Anyways to prep for my second (potential) solo trip I’ve decided to read more travel guides starting with Off Track Planet’s Travel Guide for the Young, Sexy, and Broke: Completely Revised and Updated.

With it’s aesthetically pleasing layouts and photographs Off Track Planet’s Travel Guide for the Young, Sexy, and Broke definitely caters to who its intended audience. The photos and colourful fonts and titles definitely scream “fun”. However, I felt that there was a great deal of information that wasn’t relevant to me as I’m not an American nor am I someone who has never travelled before. Still there was some useful information in the planning and research section of the book that I will definitely be taking advantage of.

Off Track Planet’s Travel Guide for the Young, Sexy, and Broke is a well-organized guide for those less “seasoned”/”experienced” travellers that provides a general overview making it a good starting point for those who want to travel but aren’t sure how to go about it or even where to travel to.

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 | 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 Elephants in My Backyard by Rajiv Surendra

elepAuthour:
Rajiv Surendra
Format:
Hardcover, 288 pages
Publication date:
November 22nd 2016
Publisher:
Random House Canada
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

” I had no choice here. This was the clarity I needed–Pi was everything to me, and here on out, it was all or nothing.” p. 166

As kids we are taught that if you work hard, you will succeed. No one (or rather few people) ever talk about failing to realize their dream or major goal. Sure, it’s easy to tell a person to just pick themselves up after failing, and to just shake it off the feelings of hurt and disappointment to move forward, however that is something that is without a doubt easier said than done.

Thus I was enticed enough to pick up Rajiv Surendra’s The Elephants in My Backyard. The premise of The Elephants in My Backyard follows Rajiv as he goes on this journey to obtain is dream acting role, “Pi” from Yann Martel’s renowned novel, Life of Pi. Non-spoiler alert, but despite the lengths Rajiv goes through to be the best possible “Pi”, he doesn’t land the role of “Pi”. In the end, while he doesn’t obtain his dream role, he does end up making several new friends throughout his journey which furthermore results in him becoming acquainted with himself and accepting who he is as a person.

Rajiv’s passion for Life of Pi, and in particular the character of “Pi” truly shines through his writing, which made you root for him even more despite knowing the outcome. And while a few of the sections felt as if they went on forever and it took time for me to immerse myself into the story. However, there were certain sections that had me completely engrossed. Among them were the one where he shares his experience of learning how to swim in addition to the chapter detailing his dysfunctional family life and how it affected his personal life.

Part memoir, part travelogue The Elephants in My Backyard also has several gorgeous hand drawn illustrations done by the authour. This is one story that is both powerful and emotional and will resonate with those of us who have put our all into something only to be passed over for it in the end.

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

Midweek Mini Reviews #2

Native: Dispatches from an Israeli-Palestinian Life by Sayed Kashua

nativeAs, Native: Dispatches from an Israeli-Palestinian Life was my introduction to the writings of Sayed Kashua I was struck by how dry, dark, and self-deprecating the humour was at times. Just by reading the columns, I felt as if I got to look beneath the surface at what life is truly like in Israel particularly if you’re an Arab. Of course it was fun being reminded of some of the quirks of living in Israel as I too can recall having a shower in my apartment that a n incredibly strong water pressure, which was amazing when you’re living in the middle of a desert town. Additionally, I also enjoyed reading about Kashua experiences going through book festivals and travelling as it appealed to the book nerd in me. All in all, this was a somewhat dark, satirical, albeit a heartwarming collection of stories about the Israeli-Palestinian Life.

But You Did Not Come Back by Marceline Loridan-Ivens, Judith Perrignon

didnt

While short in length, But You Did Not Come Back manages to summarize the important details of Marceline’s life, including the horrors of the concentration camp and her struggle to adapt to the world once she returns “home”. The events she relates back in the book are especially horrifying if you let it sit in your head for a while until you realize the book is not a work of fiction but rather a memoir of the authour’s life experiences. People were actually treated in the concentration camps in the despicable manner that Marceline describes and it’s unfortunate that even today some people still hold the same beliefs as the tormentors back at the concentration camps.

Written as a letter to her deceased father, But You Did Not Come Back also comes across as a heartbreaking story of true survival and resilience. Like the author, I too am slightly pessimistic about our world today given all that’s happened in the world and politics in 2016 and the aftermath of such events. And it’s why books like this one are so important in that they remind us to not forget that what happened in the past can happen again if we are not careful.

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’ll Tell You in Person by Chloe Caldwell

tellyouAuthour:
Chloe Caldwell
Format:
Trade Paperback, 170 pages
Publication date:
October 4th 2016
Publisher:
Coffee House Press
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
I found out about Chloe Caldwell’s second collection of essays, “I’ll Tell You in Person” through an article that was shared on Twitter. It spoke of the collection of essays telling the experiences of a young woman caught between the ages of 20 and 30 which made me feel that perhaps I could relate to what she had to say. Additionally, as I was in the midst of trying to write my own personal essays I felt that it would be helpful to read what others have written. Apparently I’m not alone in doing this, as Chloe also notes in an interview included in the book that she read a bunch of personal essay collections while in the process of writing this book.

Initially when I started reading the first few lines of the book, I found that I’ll Tell You in Person did indeed speak to me. However, my initial infatuation with the book didn’t subside as in the end like any collection, some of the essays were strong while others were not as well written. Furthermore, some of the essays were about topics that I knew little of and/or could not relate though majority of the essays were interesting to read. In the end, my two favourites that stood out in the book, would have to be “Failing Singing” about giving up a talent that you have and “Sister Less‘, a heartwarming essay on the bond that Chloe forms with Bobbi, who the daughter of writer, Cheryl Strayed.

I’ll Tell You in Person, is a short read that makes it the perfect companion for a commuter. However, be forewarned that it does pack a powerful emotional punch, especially for those who find themselves in a similar stage of their life. Meaning one that’s prone to a great deal of imperfection and disillusionment as well as a bit of disorientation. But, hey we all need to go through it at some point, no?

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 | My (Part-Time) Paris Life: How Running Away Brought Me Home by Lisa Anselmo

ptparisAuthour:
Lisa Anselmo
Format:
E-galley
Publication date:
October 11th 2016
Publisher:
Thomas Dunne Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
As someone who has a close relationship with her mother, I can’t even begin to imagine my life without her. As a result, I felt this book would resonate with me as the author loses her mother to cancer, and it forces her to re-evaluate her life after having lived with a mother who always needed to be in control.

I adored the travel aspect of the book, as I always do in the books I read. Although, I must confess I have never been to Paris and it had not been high on my travel priority list for some time. However, My (Part-Time) Paris Life: How Running Away Brought Me Home made me reconsider my hesitations about visiting “The City of Lights”. This may also be a result of the drool worthy, glorious descriptions that the author provides of the various foods she samples while in Paris and France.

One of my favourite sections in My (Part-Time) Paris Life was the chapter titled, “Le Dating Game”. I enjoyed this chapter for the reason that Anselmo acknowledges that dating is difficult, especially in another country with a different culture. And it was refreshing to glimpse her reflections on her past and acknowledge how her tight relationship with her mother has affected her love life. I especially love that in the end she came to the conclusion that she needs to embrace her independence and to become re-acquainted with herself as an “individual” before embarking on any serious romance.

And while I wish there was more to her story and adventure in the book, I’ll definitely be checking out her mini web series. Highly recommended to anyone who loves a good, self-searching memoir about dealing with grief, and learning to just let yourself be happy in life. If it hasn’t crossed your mind to visit “La Ville-Lumière”, it definitely will after reading this book.

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 | Pen & Palate: Mastering the Art of Adulthood, with Recipes by Lucy Madison and Tram Nguyen

pensAuthour:
Lucy Madison and Tram Nguyen
Format:
ARC, 287 pages
Publication date:
May 31st 2016
Publisher:
Grand Central Life & Style
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
For those of you who aren’t aware, “Words of Mystery” is in reality currently compose of two of us. Though she is less involved now, my best friend from high school was instrumental when I first took over this blog as she often provided a second opinion on posts and assisted with some of the design of the blog. And perhaps that was why I enjoyed Pen & Palate: Mastering the Art of Adulthood, with Recipes by Lucy Madison and Tram Nguyen since I could relate to a majority of it.

Pen & Palate started off as a (still running) food blog run by Lucy Madison and Tram Nguyen who have been best friends since high school. Lucy is a New York based writer and journalist and Tram is an illustrator and costume designer who lives in Chicago. Both women contribute blog posts consisting of personal essays and recipe while Tram provides the lovely illustrations that go along with each of the post. While I was aware of the blog before this book, I’m glad that I got to discover their blog through this book.

An entertaining element with regards to Pen & Palate: Mastering the Art of Adulthood, with Recipes is how the book is structured as chapters that alternate between Lucy and Tram. As a result, we see various events from both their perspective which serves to illustrate that occasionally the grass may seem greener on other side however isn’t quite true. When it comes to your friends, the majority of them who seem as if they have things figured out probably are in a similar boat as you. Additionally, I enjoyed was how I can relate to numerous things that Tram mentions in her chapters, since also being of Vietnamese descent several instances of what she described appear as if they could have come from my life too. It’s always wonderful to read writing from people who come from a similar cultural background as you, especially as there are not that many Vietnamese writers out there.

Anyways, Pen & Palate: Mastering the Art of Adulthood, with Recipes is the perfect book for those who love food and who are in the so-called “emerging adulthood” stage of their life. I loved how it perfectly captures how female friendships evolve as people grow and perhaps embark on different paths.

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