Midweek Mini Reviews #20

This Midweek Mini Reviews post features two “self-help” books, perfect for starting a new year.

Happy Go Money: Spend Smart, Save Right and Enjoy Life by Melissa Leong

One of my New Years’ resolutions for 2019 was to learn to manage my money better. This is where my copy of Melissa Leong’s Happy Go Money came in. Unlike the majority of other personal finance books that I’ve tried to pick up, but failed to get through, Leong’s book was easy to follow, light-hearted and entertaining. Part personal finance, part self-help I appreciated how Happy Go Money combines psychology and happiness research with finance tips and tricks to give the reader advice, conversation starters and tasks that the readers can start to tackle their financial goals. While a lot of the material in the book may seem like common sense, it was a good reminder for me. I love how Leong encourages people to spend money on experiences and “time-savers” and I wholeheartedly agree with her advice on opening a separate, no-fee bank account with a debit card for all your non-essential spending. I’ll definitely be doing this, as soon as I have enough money to start another account without having any of my other accounts suffering as a result. Happy Go Money is perfect for people who don’t really read “finance” books but want to learn more as it manages to mostly maintain a decent balance between being warm and friendly while still being informative.

Design Your Next Chapter: How to Realize Your Dreams and Reinvent Your Life by Debbie Travis

Debbie Travis is well-known for her home and design shows on TV. However, Design Your Next Chapter isn’t another book about decorating or painting. Instead, it is more of a self-help book that is packed with tons of tips and inspiring stories about people who’ve taken the leap and pursued their dreams. While a lot of the material in the book seems geared more towards an older demographic, there are some takeaways for younger people as well. In particular, I loved the sections that allow you to fill in the blanks with your own hopes and dreams. I also found the Ten Commandments chapter, especially the section on losing your “fear” and the section on budgeting to be incredibly useful. For anyone who may find themselves thinking “what’s next?” reading this is book is a good start and for those who are curious, Design Your Next Chapter is an easily digestible and comforting read that can be relatable to many people.

 

 

 

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

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Book Review | Dear Heartbreak: YA Authors and Teens on the Dark Side of Love

Format:
ARC
Publication date:
December 18st 2018
Publisher:
Henry Holt & Company
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
Anthology collections that are short stories or essays can be difficult to review at times, however reviewing an anthology of letters from real teens that are answered by authors in story form with a sprinkling of advice is something I haven’t done until now. As the title suggests, Dear Heartbreak has teens write in to authours about their heartbreaks and about the not so pleasant side of love which is unfortunately something we do not often see in non-fiction that is geared towards teenagers. I love this idea as it was a unique twist on the typical advice columns.

The authours’ personal experiences and stories lead to plenty of compelling reading material. Kekla Magoon’s response to a teen who is surrounded by people but still feels lonely, tiled “If You Call, I Will Answer” resonated the most with present me as I’ve also found it to be true that occasionally you need to be the one to reach out whether it’s when you need help or whether you just want company. The other piece that stood out to me from this collection was Gayle Forman’s response to a teen who wrote in initially about heartbreak however it turned out to be about experience. In “The Teacher of All Things”, Forman is able to write back in a way that shows she understands the teen and is able to emphasize with their desires without coming off as condescending or preachy. I also love that she recommends travel as a way to gain new experiences as I could not agree more!

In spite of the fact that I’m no longer a teen, this anthology still spoke to me and helped me to come to terms with my past experiences. I still remember as a teen and kid feeling lonely, confused and heartbroken as I faced constant rejection and felt socially isolated all while trying to find friendship and acceptance. As a result, seeing the raw vulnerability from teens and a few of the authours broke my heart and made me tear up several times while reading their stories. 

Dear Heartbreak is a collection that I wish I had as a teenager in high school. In terms of advice there isn’t anything that stands out in this book, however a list of resources is provided at the back of the book for those who need more. Otherwise, for people, particularly those in high school who feel like no one sees, hears, loves and/or understands them this book is like one giant, warm hugs.

 

 

 

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 | Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises by Rebecca Solnit

Authour:
Rebecca Solnit
Format:
Trade Paperback
Publication date:
September 4th 2018
Publisher:
Haymarket Books
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:

“To know history is to be able to see beyond the present; to remember the past gives you the capacity to look forward as well, to see that everything changes and the most dramatic changes are often the most unforeseen.” (p. 178)

With all that is happening in the US lately, Rebecca Solnit’s latest essay collection Call Them by Their True Names is an extremely timely read. Having been introduced to her writing from her last collection, The Mother of All Questions which I enjoyed immensely, I was excited to hear that she had a new collection coming out this year.

Unlike The Mother of All Questions, the eighteen essays in Call Them by Their True Names are not tied together as tightly under one theme. Rather the theme here is looser, as the essays are on various, scattered topics ranging from racial disparities to gentrification, to climate change and environmental justice. 

Solnit is a brilliant writer and while her short essay collections may not be the easiest and/or lightest read because they need a great deal of concentration to be able to focus and truly understand each essay it’s all worth it. My favorite essays in this collection were: “Preaching to the Choir” where Solnit argues that it is more worthwhile to motivate and encourage those who are already on your side as opposed to trying to change the minds of those who disagree with you; “Eight Million Ways to Belong ” which is written as a letter to the current US president and focuses on what the wonderful cultural diversity that makes up the “real” New York; and of course “Break the Story” which serves as both a call to arms and motivational speech that should be required reading for those who wish to get into the journalism field. The three stood out to me as they were the most compelling reads in this collection.

Once again, Call Them by Their True Names is another enlightening essay collection from Rebecca Solnit. While I did not enjoy this collection as much as I enjoyed The Mother of All Questions, I did appreciate how Solnit was able to offer hope and encouragement through her essays even while discussing the major problems society is facing today.  

 

 

 

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 | Girl Squads: 20 Female Friendships That Changed History by Sam Maggs

Authour:
Sam Maggs
Format:
Hardcover
Publication date:
October 2nd 2018
Publisher:
Quirk Books
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:

“They are strong-willed and steadfast leaders whose very existence dissents from the way the world has been run for the last two thousand years–and affirms what the future should be.” (p. 105)

What I like when it comes to Sam Maggs’ books are how they remain inspiring, funny and a marvelous starting points for reading about pop culture and feminist figures. In Girl Squads: 20 Female Friendships That Changed History, Maggs takes us through history sharing the stories of women helping other women to rise. 

Before reading Girl Squads, I was already familiar with several women for instance I was aware of the Trưng sisters, the Supreme Justices Ruth Bader and Sonia Sotomayor and Dr. Kei Okami and Dr. Anandibai Joshi who were two of the first eastern doctors of western medicine. However, similar to her other books I learned a great deal more about other awesome women, including the Edinburgh Seven who were the first women medical students in Great Britain and the Red Lanterns, a Chinese girls’ fighting group, the Red Women of Finland and the Japanese volleyball team known as the “witches of the orient”. Reading all these stories of women uniting together made for an incredibly heartwarming read. This book also extremely inspired as the women in the book faced countless obstacles in their path to in order to accomplish their goals. And while they weren’t always completely successful, their perseverance definitely left me feeling empowered. 

With its light and entertaining writing style in addition to the bright, colourful packaging and illustrations, Girl Squads is a book that is unquestionably geared towards a younger, preteen audience. This is awesome as it makes feminist history and women’s stories accessible to those who are looking for positive examples of women around the world and across time. For those of us who are slightly older, Girl Squads is one of those books that can easily be read in one sitting. I’d recommend this one for those looking for an uplifting read as it provides an excellent introduction to a number of exceptionally fascinating groups of women.

 

 

 

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 #16


This Midweek Mini Reviews post features some  non-fiction books for those who are feeling a bit lost in life.

Can’t Help Myself: Lessons & Confessions from a Modern Advice Columnist by Meredith Goldstein

I’ve always liked reading advice columns in magazines and newspapers so I was keen to pick up Meredith Goldstein’s Can’t Help Myself: Lessons & Confessions from a Modern Advice Columnist as it promised a “behind the scenes” look at one of today’s most popular columns. Unlike your typical advice column, Love Letters is unique in that it allows responses from its readers in the comments section which gives it a more modern, “group therapy” vibe. The book is divided into different sections, each starting with an introduction from Goldstein talking about her personal life and experience. This “memoir” aspect of the book is then followed by one or two questions from her column that fall under the section’s topic along with Goldstein’s response and some of the responses from the comments. I loved seeing the comments from the readers as their responses and suggestions were always entertaining and occasionally extremely hilarious. I enjoyed this refreshingly, honest look at an advice column and am looking forward to checking out the actual Love Letters column online.

Nobody Cares: Essays by Anne T. Donahue

While the first few essays in Anne T. Donahue’s Nobody Cares truly resonated with me, the majority of the essays in this collection did not. However, there were a few that stood out to me. The chief among them is the essay on not being “fun” as I hate or at the very least don’t see the appeal of the popular things she also hates although I do love brunch. Still, I loved that the takeaway was about not doing things you don’t want to anymore, thus giving you permission to not force yourself to do the things you hate, this is something I’m definitely a fan of it. The other essay that stood out to me was her essay on death titled, “It Will Never Feel This bad Again” as not only was it extremely poignant but it was probably the most honest and relatable essay about death I’ve read so far. In the end, if you’re in your 20s or 30s and feeling lost or not liking where you are in life this book will definitely speak to you. Whether it’s by providing advice that needs to be repeated for you to follow like she does in her essay “Get to Work” or being straightforward and blunt with you while oddly also being comforting as seen in her essay titled, “In Case of Emergency”, Donahue truly cements her status of the best friend you would want to have in your corner.

 

 

 

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’ve Been Meaning to Tell You: A Letter to My Daughter by David Chariandy

Authour:
David Chariandy
Format:
Hardcover
Publication date:
May 29th, 2018
Publisher:
McClelland & Stewart
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:

“We are a family of different generations, different upbringings, different backgrounds and races–diverse in ways no half-hearted policy or opportunistic advertisement campaign can ever truly represent, and brought together in celebration of your birth.” (p. 11)

Inspired by James Baldwin’s essay My Dungeon Shook which was written as a letter to his nephew, David Chariandy takes a break from fiction writing to pen I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You which has a structure reminiscent of a novella is actually a his letter to his pre-teen daughter.

While short in length, I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You manages to tackle issues such as culture, racism, family, parenting and the immigrant experience in a powerful and emotional way. It was fascinating to get a glimpse at Chariandy’s family life and history in addition to the brief mention of his wife’s family who has had a remarkably different experience than his own. And while I enjoyed the story of how two people from incredibly different backgrounds can come together to start their own family, I appreciated how he captured the true awkwardness of two cultures coming together with immense understanding and patience. Being a child of immigrants I could also relate to the section where Chariandy talks about his kids realizing that they don’t belong and that they appear to the locals as Canadian tourists who happen to have a cultural connection to the Trinidad and its people. This was how I felt as a kid every time I visited Vietnam with my parents.

I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You is firstly a letter of love to Chariandy’s pre-teen daughter. It is clear from the beginning to the conclusion just how proud he is of his daughter and how similar to every other parent, he struggles with trying to protect her while also letting go and letting her be her own person. A quick read, I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You is a timely read that all Canadians should definitely consider picking up as it makes its readers truly reflect on life especially during the current political climate.

 

 

 

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 | Jerusalem, Drawn and Quartered: One Woman’s Year in the Heart of the Christian, Muslim, Armenian, and Jewish Quarters of Old Jerusalem by Sarah Tuttle-Singer

Authour:
Sarah Tuttle-Singer
Format:
Hardcover
Publication date:
May 22nd, 2018
Publisher:
Skyhorse Publishing
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:

“I love Jerusalem best in the morning when she’s naked before the shops are open and the scarves and jewelry cover the stone. And I like to wake her wake up and get dressed while I drink my jasmine green tea from the bakery overlooking Jaffa Gate. Or earlier still, from the Western Wall, when sacred time meets sunrise, and Jews and Muslims pray together although separately behind their glass walls at the brink of sunrise.” (p.141)

They say a person never forgets their “first”, and I suppose that’s true at least for me when it comes to cities and countries as Israel will always have a special place in my heart. Before picking up Jerusalem, Drawn and Quartered, I was vaguely familiar with Sarah Tuttle-Singer’s work through her blog posts in The Times of Israel online website, so I was already intrigued by her book. I remember picking it up shortly after the US officially moved their embassy to Jerusalem, however it was definitely a book that had been on my shelf for some time before.

In Jerusalem, Drawn and Quartered, the writer takes us deep into the parts of the Old City that the average visitor most likely wouldn’t venture to. I enjoyed the diverse perspectives and stories and I appreciated how Sarah makes an effort to talk to people of all walks of life and cultural backgrounds so that the reader is given several distinct opinions and stories and not one singular narrative. That being said, I was slightly surprised that the majority of this book was about her own personal life and not being about the Old City itself. It was also a much grittier, intense read than I expected as she does experience a great deal of trauma in her life. Nevertheless, I found Sarah’s honesty about her past and her current life in Jerusalem to be refreshing and it did make for a more emotional read.

An eloquently written book, Jerusalem, Drawn and Quartered is truly a love letter from the author to the city of Jerusalem. However, the story along with the coloured photos only offers a glimpse into the city and Sarah’s life. In the end, I was left wishing that the author expanded more on the more various quarters in Jerusalem in addition to her own story. For instance, it would’ve have been interesting to learn more about the mysterious man who was friends with her mother as he only briefly appears near the end of the book.

For those who are curious about the situation in Jerusalem and in Israel, I would recommend this book as one of the countless books that you should pick up. Sarah Tuttle-Singer does an excellent job of humanizing the city and I definitely came away from the book with a better understanding of the various sides of this conflict. After reading this book, which was a far cry from a tourist book I found myself wanting to visit Jerusalem and Israel again, though with the current political climate I’m not sure it would be possible any time soon.

 

 

 

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 | Shrewed: A Wry and Closely Observed Look at the Lives of Women and Girls by Elizabeth Renzetti

Authour:
Elizabeth Renzetti
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
March 6th 2018
Publisher:
House of Anansi Press
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
I had seen Elizabeth Renzetti’s Shrewed: A Wry and Closely Observed Look at the Lives of Women and Girls on social media for a while, however it wasn’t until I saw Kaley from Books Etc. rave about it that I was intrigued enough to pick up a copy.

A collection of feminist essays by Globe and Mail columnist, Elizabeth Renzetti Shrewed is a timely read given the current social climate. Shrewed was also one of those books that I immediately devoured as soon as I snagged a copy owing to the fact that it was exceptionally well-written. While there are countless books being released that focus on issues facing women and feminism, it was refreshing to read one from a Canadian perspective. I appreciated this given that despite being geographically right by each other, there remain some significant differences between Canada and the USA.

Among all the essays contained in Shrewed the first essay, “The Voice in Your Head is an A**hole” stood out to me, as it was truly relatable since I have often passed on applying for jobs for the reason that I felt I did not meet enough of the qualifications even though I know my colleagues especially male ones or even my father or brother wouldn’t hesitate if they were me. Likewise, her essay on how encouraging “fearlessness”, especially in our girls, can be a foolhardy concept was equally compelling. The essay was incredibly honest in explaining how a little fear and anxiety is necessary for humans, and that not letting your fear rule, this does not mean that you shouldn’t be smart about your choices. Finally, I also enjoyed her essays that were framed as letters to her daughter, son, and even to her younger self as they were full of truth and authentic wisdom.

Funny at times, and always frank, and inspiring Shrewed made me self-reflect a great deal about my life so far and about what the future has in store not just for me but for women in general. This is why I love that the Renzetti’s Shrewed ends with a message on how women and girls should not be afraid to be “loud” and “take up space” and that men shouldn’t be fearful of sharing these “spaces”. After all, there is more than enough room for us all.

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 Milk Lady of Bangalore by Shoba Narayan

Format:
ARC
Publication date:
January 23rd 2018
Publisher:
Algonquin Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
If you’ve been to my blog before, you’d probably know that I’m a immense fan of nonfiction that have a travel aspect to them. Shoba Narayan’s latest book, The Milk Lady of Bangalore: An Unexpected Adventure is an interesting twist on the usual “travel” story as it’s partly about her experience living with her family as expats (of sorts) in India. I say “of sorts” because while she and her husband actually were born and raised in India, her two daughters were not. Instead they were born in the USA, and part of the reason that Shoba and her husband decided to move back to India was to give their girls the chance to truly get to know their grandparents and family in India before it was too late.

I started this review talking about the author and her family and their move, but The Milk Lady of Bangalore is at its core truly a book about the history, economy and religion of India. Using the “cow” as a “lens” the author dissects Indian society and culture and the reason why an ordinary (to us Westerners) animal  is still so revered in India. I definitely learned a great deal about what life is like for those actually living in India in addition to the communities that are formed in a country that’s still more collectivist than it is individualistic. Furthermore, it was incredibly fascinating to read about all the beliefs and rituals surrounding cows in India which while rapidly becoming more modern still holds on tight to numerous ideologies and superstitions that are connected to the country’s agricultural history.

The Milk Lady of Bangalore: An Unexpected Adventure teaches us readers that we should appreciate what we are fortunate to have. In writing The Milk Lady of Bangalore, Shoba also shows how just by investing in one person you can end up making an enormous difference for several more people. The times are without a doubt changing, but what remains the same is the concept of life and death and if you are able to help just one person and bond with them thereupon making everything all the more sweeter.

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 #11

  
Six Degrees of Freedom by Nicolas Dickner, Lazer Lederhendler

Six Degrees of Freedom follow Lisa, Éric and Jay over many years. And while Lisa and Éric are childhood friends, Jay is more of an outsider and is only connected to them because of their “experiments” and her work with the RCMP.

To be honest, this book just wasn’t my cup of tea. While the chapters are indeed brief the book is incredibly slow-paced. I felt that the author took a too much time just to get to the main plot which was the most interesting aspect of this book and unfortunately it did not unfold until the very last chapters of the book. Instead the majority of the book was devoted to the technical elements of the shipping and container industry in addition to the backgrounds of not just the three protagonists but also to the backgrounds of everyone they interact with.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Nicolas Dickner’s Six Degrees of Freedom because its synopsis did have me intrigued. However, the execution of the story didn’t do the story justice in my opinion. Lisa, Jay and Éric did have the potential to be compelling characters, however there just wasn’t enough time devoted to their development or to let the reader care about them which made for a rather dreary and long-winded read despite not being a thick book.

The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Lives Better, Too) by Gretchen Rubin

Maybe it’s my psychology background, but lately I’ve been really getting into personality dimensions. I’ve taken Gallup’s StrengthsFinder assessment and my current workplace is obsessed with the Colours Personality Dimensions so I thought it would interesting to read up and learn about the Four Tendencies personality framework. Like Gretchen Rubin’s other books The Four Tendencies is laid out in a way that makes an otherwise complex and intimidating topic more accessible to the everyday reader. The design of the book is also visually appealing and the book has a quiz at the beginning for those who are curious to find out which of the four “tendencies” they are. In addition, there are lots of personal and practical examples that help the reader to understand each tendency better and know how to deal with people from the four tendency types. The Four Tendencies is a great read that is perfect for those who work in a team, parents, people who deal with clients and customers and even those who just want to bring the best in themselves and others. I definitely agree that the more you know about yourself and those around you, the better equipped you are to be more productive and even happy.

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 | Single Girl Problems: Why Being Single Isn’t a Problem to Be Solved by Andrea Bain

Format:
eGalley
Publication date:
January 13th 2018
Publisher:
Dundurn
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
I’m not going to lie, I was beyond excited for Andrea Bain’s Single Girl Problems: Why Being Single Isn’t a Problem to Be Solved and I was disappointed when the release date was pushed back from its original November release date. Fortunately I was able to acquire an eGalley a few months early for me to read and review on my blog.

I’m familiar with Andrea Bain from her current role as one of the co-hosts of the CBC show The Goods and I was interested in seeing how her amusing on-screen personality translated onto the written page. Additionally, Single Girl Problems promised me a realistic and refreshing new perspective on what it means to be a single woman in the 21st century. After all, there are countless books on how to find and keep the “one” compared to the few books that focus almost exclusively on the single woman.

Right from the introduction Single Girl Problems spoke to me, especially the sections where Bain discusses the stigma associated with being unattached after a certain age while being surrounded by couples. I loved that the main message was for the majority about embracing your singledom. That being said, this is still a relationship book and the underlying message remains that one should be at least open to the idea of having a relationship. While this is something I could not necessarily get on board with, I did appreciate the overall positive and modern approach of Single Girl Problems. Thus, while I would’ve liked for the book to touch a bit more on the concept of just being single and not having to need a relationship it was still a relatable and entertaining read. With a perfect balance of research and Hollywood/pop culture references Single Girl Problems is more than just your run of the mill self-help 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.

Midweek Mini Reviews #9


The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

If you follow my blog, you will know that I loved Alice Hoffman’s last book, Faithful. However, I was a bit reluctant to pick up her latest book The Rules of Magic as I never got into Practical Magic and wasn’t sure it would be my cup of tea. For those who are familiar with Practical Magic, you will recognize the world and a couple of the characters in The Rules of Magic. However, it’s not necessary to be familiar with Practical Magic as The Rules of Magic is a prequel and can definitely be enjoyed as a standalone. In The Rules of Magic we become acquainted with the characters of Franny, Violet and Jet who are all endowed with magical gifts. I especially loved that we see Franny and Jet grow up from little girls to old women. Getting to see their thoughts and motivations made me want to root for them even more and it was nice to see that the tragic Owens curse didn’t completely stop them all from love and happiness. Similar to her other books, Hoffman’s writing whisks you away to the world of the characters so that you feel as if you are right there beside them as they go through life. I’m glad I ended up picking up The Rules of Magic as I was able to discover yet another enchanting and magical book.

Basic Witches: How to Summon Success, Banish Drama, and Raise Hell with Your Coven by Jaya Saxena & Jess Zimmerman

The idea and history of witchcraft has always fascinated me enough so that it lead me to picking up Jaya Saxena and Jess Zimmerman’s Basic Witches: How to Summon Success, Banish Drama, and Raise Hell with Your Coven. With the exception of the various “spells” and “rituals” Basic Witches at its core reads like any other self-help book. Empowering and female positive, I adored the beautiful illustrations and the straightforward and non-judgemental voice of the book. And while I wasn’t all that into the “spells” I loved learning about the feminist history that surrounds most of the stereotypical witchcraft beliefs and practices. Additionally, the “spells” are relatively easy to do and some of them do seem fairly reasonable as well as practical. For instance, I truly enjoyed the information on smellomancy as well as the cooking magic suggestions as I definitely agree that warm milk and honey are perfect for when you want to relax. A fun, light-hearted and unique read that’s perfect for the modern young woman who needs a little extra “boost” in life.

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.

 

Book Review | I’ll Have What She’s Having by Erin Carlson

Authour:
Erin Carlson
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
August 29th 2017
Publisher:
Hachette Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
I’ve only seen a few of Nora Ephron’s films, although I will admit that I’m a fan of her writing more than I am of her movies. However as a person who loves rom coms, I can definitely appreciate what she has done for the romantic comedy genre. Thus I was, why was looking forward to picking up Erin Carlson’s I’ll Have What She’s Having: Nora Ephron and the Three Movies that Changed Romantic Comedy.

Written from an omniscient yet also objective and observer-like perspective, reading I’ll Have What She’s Having akin to watching a biopic/documentary of Nora Ephron and her most well-known filmography. With my interest in writing, I loved that readers are given a glimpse at the behind the scenes happenings of several of Ephron’s most iconic movies in addition to Ephron’s early life and upbringing.

Reading through I’ll Have What She’s Having, it’s clear that author has truly gone out of her way to conduct an extensive amount of research to ensure that the voices of all the “players” in the three movies seem authentic and believable. I also appreciated learning tiny tidbits about the Ephron family, such as the “Tao of Phoebe” (Nora’s mother) which is all about owning your slip ups and making it into a story where you appear as the “lead”/”hero” as it helps us to understand how Ephron’s upbringing shaped her writing and as a result her films.

Fans of Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail and even film lovers in general who grew up with these movies will definitely feel nostalgic after reading this book. More than just an homage of one of the most notable and distinctive voices, I’ll Have What She’s Having also reads as a “love letter” to movies especially those in a genre that is often looked down upon.

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