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.

 

Advertisements

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.

Book Review | How to Fall in Love with Anyone by Mandy Len Catron

Authour:
Mandy Len Catron
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
June 27th 2017
Publisher:
Simon Schuster
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
Don’t let the title fool you, Mandy Len Catron’s How to Fall in Love with Anyone is definitely not an instruction manual. Instead it’s a memoir and a collection of essays on the authour’s life as she examines our ideas of love through her own personal relationships.

In case you haven’t heard of her, Mandy Len Catron is best known for her 2015 Modern Love essay that was published under the same name as her first book, this book. I love personal essays, and have been lately getting into them so I was excited for this collection, especially as it stems from her famous essay where she write about how she and an acquaintance answered the questions from Arthur Aron’s psychological experiment on love, and how the two fell in love.

While I hoped for a light, albeit realistic examination of love and the romantic myths that we create, I was slightly disappointed to find that the book focused more on the authour’s dysfunctional relationships. Nevertheless, I did like how the book expanded on her Modern Love essay thus giving us greater insight into the authour’s past and family in addition to how she ended up at the place she did when she tried to “recreate” the famous Arthur Aron experiment. Another minor issue I had with this book was how often the book jumped from the authour’s personal story to referring to academic theories. This may it initially difficult to get into the book, though with some time I was able to adjust to the constant transitions.

How to Fall in Love with Anyone is a fascinating examination of how our idea of what “love” is supposed to be is shaped by several factors, and how that can be both a good thing and a bad thing. I loved that the essays, especially the one titled, “I’m Willing to Lie about How We Met” made me stop and think about how the so-called “love stories” affect me personally and affect how I view my own personal relationships. How to Fall in Love with Anyone is an insightful read for anyone fascinated by the human condition known as “love”.

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 Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen: Awesome Female Characters from Comic Book History by Hope Nicholson

Authour:
Hope Nicholson
Format:
E-Galley
Publication date:
May 2nd 2017
Publisher:
Quirk Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

“A woman’s place is saving the universe.”

For as long as I can remember I have always loved reading comics and graphic novels and manga. And I love discovering new titles and characters in those mediums which is why I felt that The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen: Awesome Female Characters from Comic Book History would be an enjoyable read for me.

Unlike the majority of other books about the comic book medium, The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen focuses exclusively on female characters, especially those that have been forgotten over time. Divided into decades, the book serves as a great introduction to comics for those new to the medium while at the same time introducing new characters and stories to those who are already familiar with the genre. In particular, I loved that for each profile, there is a section that tells you where to go to read more about the character you just learnt about.

Overall, The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen was an enjoyable read. The book is written in a way that makes it accessible to all, and the layout of the book makes it easier to navigate and find what you’re looking for. It also makes readers stop and think about how comic books and, in particular female comic book characters have evolved over time and how the representation of females in comic book continues to change. This is one of those books that I would love a follow-up to, as I feel that there are so many more characters that were left out of this one and I would also love to discover even more female comic book characters and stories to read. A must read for all comic book fans and even those who are looking to dip their toes into this medium.

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 Mother of All Questions: Further Reports from the Feminist Revolutions by Rebecca Solnit

motherAuthour:
Rebecca Solnit
Format:
ARC, 175 pages
Publication date:
March 14th 2017
Publisher:
Haymarket Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
I first heard about Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me, and as a result I was pleased to receive a copy of The Mother of All Questions: Further Reports from the Feminist Revolutions which is the follow-up to Men Explain Things to Me.

Lately, I’ve been really getting into essay collections and feminist reads especially given all that has been happening in the news and this book definitely quenched my thirst for more. A powerful, and thought provoking read packed collection of essays by the authour from the past two years, there is a great deal of knowledge in this slim volume.

I loved the fact that the introduction told the story of how as a woman writer Solnit is not immune to being asked incredibly personal questions that people often would never think to pose to men. Furthermore, it feels appropriately fitting that the first essay in this collection is a four parter on the (brief) history of silence given what we’ve seen so far of the new presidency in the USA in addition to all the scandals involving several major celebrities and women that have come to light in the recent years.

However, out of all the essays contained in this collection I was particularly fond of Solnit’s reaction to the GQ Magazine’s article “80 Books All Men Should Read” which concludes with her saying that she would never tell someone to not read a particular book and yet it’s important to note that if someone were to continuously read books where characters who are like them in terms of things like sex, gender, race, culture, sexual orientation among other factors are portrayed in a problematic manner it can become almost like second nature to start viewing yourself in that same negative light. I also thoroughly enjoyed The Case of the Missing Perpetrator because of how it pokes fun at how mixed up the government priorities are and how it illustrates just how misleading language can be.

Whether you’re a Rebecca Solnit fan or just a reader who is looking for a book that will enrich your understanding of modern feminism, The Mother of All Questions is an informative read that serves as an excellent introduction or supplement to all the existing feminist theory literature.

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 #3

 The Art of Living Other People’s Lives: Stories, Confessions, and Memorable Mistakes by Greg Dybec

art

What I liked most about The Art of Living Other People’s Lives: Stories, Confessions, and Memorable Mistakes by Greg Dybec is just how relatable some of the essays in the collection are. They are also quite entertaining in a self-deprecating manner which leaves the reader with a lot of good quotes you can’t help but scribble down. Two of my favourite quotes from the book are “A great writer knows when not to fake being a expert” and “If anything breakups should be renamed breakdowns. That’s all they really are. Whatever drew two people together in the first place eventually breaks down,” these two were the most memorable for me because they are simple yet so true.

Of all the essays in the collection I particularly was fond of the collection’s titular essay because who here hasn’t at least once found themselves listening in onto the conversations of strangers around them? I also enjoyed “Life on the Other Side of the Internet” because it gives you a “glimpse” at what’s its actually like working for a major Internet site.

Overall if you enjoy reading Elite Daily articles (the authour is the managing editor of the site) you will probably like this book, but even for those who are millennials who are only vaguely familiar with the site (like myself) Dybec’s musings on life, family and relationships could definitely be appreciated as being relatable.

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

vicBefore reading Daisy Goodwin’s Victoria, I have to admit I knew very little about the history of Queen Victoria other than that she is (now) the monarch with the second longest reign (Queen Elizabeth II recently just surpassed her record). However, I am a fan of Daisy Goodwin and what she does when it comes to historical fiction so I was looking forward to Victoria.

In Victoria, Daisy Goodwin once again does what she does best in historical fiction and really whisks you away to the 1800s and into the life of a young royal who is coming of age and into her role as a country’s monarch. While naïve, it was difficult not to root for a young Victoria as she struggled to find her way into her new role against so many obstacles and barriers and with a whole lot of spunk. In the end, knowing what becomes of many of the characters from Victoria’s youth in real life made this book an incredibly bittersweet and emotional coming of age novel.

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 | Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History by Sam Maggs

WWAuthour:
Sam Maggs
Format:
E-galley
Publication date:
October 4th 2016
Publisher:
Quirk Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
I’m a total history buff and I love learning about kick butt women whose accomplishments have been mostly lost to history, thus this book was the ideal read for me. Furthermore, it made for a perfect companion for Jessica Bennett’s The Feminist Fight Club, which was the other book I was reading at the same time.

Sam Magg’s Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History showcases an array of pioneering female scientists, engineers, mathematicians, adventurers, and inventors many of whom I was unaware of, like Dr. Okami Keiko (the first Japanese woman to get a degree in Western medicine from a Western university) and Dr. Anandibai Joshi (the first woman physician) who were actually well acquainted with each other. I also loved reading about Dr. Marie Equi, who was a birth control advocate and not afraid to get physical to defend what’s right.

In addition to the 25 women that were featured there were also various mini biographies in addition to interviews with women who today are working in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) field. Overall, Wonder Women was an entertaining read due in part to the illustrations as well as Maggs’ witty commentary throughout the book of the women featured. And I appreciated how diverse the women were in the book as there were women of various races, sexual orientation and status. A great read for young girls and anyone who is looking for a bit of inspiration.

 

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 | Feminist Fight Club: An Office Survival Manual for a Sexist Workplace by Jessica Bennett

femAuthour:
Jessica Bennett
Format:
ARC; 293 pages
Publication date:
September 13th 2016
Publisher:
Harper Wave
Publisher Social Media:
Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

I first heard about Jessica Bennett’s Feminist Fight Club from this quite epic book trailer, where a woman has to “defeat” various scenarios/rounds in a video game. Despite being non-fiction, I found this book to be a witty, entertaining and quick read that can be accessible to even readers who typically do not read non-fiction. This is due to the writing style which is not pretentious or overly preachy. It also helps that there are hilarious illustrations and diagrams that give readers a break between pages of text.

The book itself is divided into six different sections (along with a few other mini sections and a glossary at the back of the book). The six core sections are: Know the Enemy, Know Thyself, Bobby Traps, Get Your Speak On, F You Pay Me, and  WWJD – What Would Josh Do (aka “How to Carry Yourself with the Confidence of a Mediocre Man“). Within each section an issue or scenario/example is presented before being followed by some practical, and useful advice and tips on how to tackle the issue or how to act accordingly.

Regardless of your background, there is something for every young woman to relate to in this book. I personally loved the Know Thyself section in addition to the Get Your Speak On section as there was a great deal of helpful information in those two sections that are applicable to me and my current circumstances. And for those who have the option to negotiate their work but are terrified or unsure of how to start, the F You Pay Me section is a must read. Finally the last section, WWJD – What Would Josh Do is hilarious yet true and genuinely helpful. The back cover of my review copy for Feminist Fight Club describes it as “Lean In for the BuzzFeed generation” which I believe is accurate since the writing and illustrations would definitely appeal to this particular group of 20-30 something year olds. If you’re in need of an empowering read, I would definitely recommend purchasing Feminist Fight Club by Jessica Bennett.

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 Name Therapist by Duana Taha

nameAuthour:
Duana Taha
Format:
ARC, 347 pages
Publication date:
April 5th 2016
Publisher:
Random House Canada
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
What’s in a name? According to the authour of The Name Therapist there’s a whole lot. To be honest, I never had any issues with my name growing up, it’s rarely misspelled and almost never mispronounced. In fact I couldn’t imagine having another name. My parents, who were immigrants picked it for the reason that it was simple plus it easily translated from English back to Vietnamese. Still I found Duana Taha’s The Name Therapist to be an intriguing read.

Duana Taha is a self-styled “name therapist” who writes for the gossip blog, Lainey Gossip additionally she also works in Television where she gets to name characters which is basically the dream for a “name nerd” akin to herself. And while I’m not much of a “name nerd”, Duana’s enthusiasm for the subject had me slightly excited about it too. Part memoir, and part social science study throughout The Name Therapist readers are introduced to a bit of history behind certain names and their popularity in addition to how Duana’s love and fascination with names started. My favourite aspect of, The Name Therapist was learning about the various different types of name research and theories exist, including an app that tells you what careers has the greatest amount of people with your name. (In case you’re curious apparently there are numerous people named Lynne that are Interior Decorator/Designers).

Another section that intrigued me what, when the topic of anglicizing your name was brought up, especially if you’re an immigrant with a name that is definitely not a “Western” name. While there was never a need for me to anglicize my name, it made me remember an odd incident back when I was an undergraduate student. Back when I was trying to find a thesis supervisor, I often was required to send emails to professors expressing my interest in working with them. For some reason, I noticed that whenever I signed the email off with my full name which contained a very Vietnamese last name in my email was ignored, however when I signed the email with just my first name I often received replies, and invitations to meet with the professor in person to discuss potential thesis ideas. While it may have just been a coincidence, it struck me as strange at the time and I would be lying if I said it did not bother me. Anyways other than that, I do not believe my name has caused me any problems.

I guess it’s true what Duana writes in her book, there’s always something to be talked about when it comes names and it’s quite entertaining to hear stories behind people’s names. Thus if you are looking for an amusing and a different type of nonfiction read, you should give The Name Therapist a shot. Or if you’re just looking for another perspective on naming your unborn child The Name Therapist is the book for you.

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.

Book Review | How Can I Help? A Week in My Life as a Psychiatrist by David Goldbloom & Pier Bryden

howhelpAuthour:
David Goldbloom and Pier Bryden
Format:
ARC, 367 pages
Publication date:
February 23rd 2016
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster Canada
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
You are not alone. These words are something we take for granted and it’s only when mental illness hits close to home and we reach out that we realize how true these words ring. Mental illness has touched my life in several ways, I’ve had friends and sibling of friends suffer from depression, bipolar illness and schizophrenia. My brother tried to kill himself multiple times in his first and second year of university and both my sister and I have suffered from severe anxiety in the past. Furthermore, with my educational background in psychology, mental illness has always been a topic of interest for me.

I’m sure that the majority of people may already be aware of statistics shows that 1 in 5 Canadians deal with mental illness each year, mental illness is quite commonplace. Today, I feel that people are more open to sharing their experiences with mental illness with others. However, as seen in Dr. David Goldbloom’s How Can I Help? we still have a long way to go when it comes to reducing the stigma associated with mental illness in addition to how it’s dealt with in our society.

What I appreciated with regards to How Can I Help? A Week in My Life as a Psychiatrist by David Goldbloom and Pier Bryden are how the book is written in an entertaining and accessible manner. The other thing is how the book is structured to illustrate a week in the life of a psychiatrist. There are numerous misconceptions concerning what psychiatrists do, it’s enlightening to hear from an actual psychiatrist what their job essentially entails.

As a result of the book’s structure we get a glimpse at the various types of patients that require psychiatric assistance. Furthermore, I liked how we catch glimpses of Dr. Goldbloom’s life outside work and his background in addition to brief social, historical and cultural background on psychiatry practices and research. Psychiatrists and other doctors are people too, and I appreciated how the book acknowledges that they are not invulnerable to biases and human emotions.

There is much that I can say regarding mental illness and this book, however in order to keep this review brief I will that I believe this book is one that every person should read. After all, in a society where stigma remains when it comes to mental illness, it is vital that we all take the time to educate ourselves so that we can not only support those in our lives who are suffering from mental illness, but also take care of our own mental health.

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 | Gratitude by Oliver Sacks

gratitudeAuthour:
Oliver Sacks
Format:
Hardcover, 45 pages
Publication date:
November 24th 2015
Publisher:
Knopf Canada
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

“When people die, they cannot be replaced. They  leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate-the genetics and neural fate-of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.” (p. 19-20)

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that one of the reasons I picked up Gratitude by Oliver Sacks was the book’s brevity. After all a short book of personal essays from a well-known writer was an intriguing proposition and fortunately it turned out to be just what I needed.

While I haven’t read anything else by him, Oliver Sacks’ writing in Gratitude felt incredibly down to earth, authentic and relatable. It was akin to having a causal conversation with a dear friend. And despite the serious and thought provoking manner of the four essays reading them never felt painful although the writing was definitely poignant.

Of the four essays in Gratitude, “Sabbath” remained without a doubt the one that I connected with the most. In it, Sacks describes how religion has influenced his life from his orthodox upbringing to later appreciating elements of it such as how openly and warmly he and his partner are embraced by his more orthodox relatives when he visits them in Israel. This he mentions was something that was unexpected as growing up he faced rejection from his own mother when she found out he was gay. And he formerly attributed his mother’s extreme reaction as a result of her conservative religious beliefs and her loyalty to the teachings of her faith. Yet it is an essay that concludes on a hopeful manner despite reality.

Gratitude is a short read, however it is one that is filled with meaning that will stay with you after you’ve turned the last page. Personally, I will be passing my copy of this book on to my sister who’s currently in medical school as I think she’d appreciate all that it has to say about science, life and death.

The greatest takeaway for all who come across this book should be that too often, when things are going great for us we tend to take things for granted and occasionally it takes something life changing and perhaps terminal to force us stop to appreciate what we have and had. And Gratitude reminds its readers that shouldn’t be the case and we ought not wait for life to force us to pause for a second to be grateful for what we have and had and will have.

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 | Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

whynotAuthour:
Mindy Kaling
Format:
Hardcover, 228 pages
Publication date:
September 15th 2015
Publisher:
Crown Archetype
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

“If you’ve got it, flaunt it. And if you don’t? Flaunt it. Cause what are we doing here if we’re not flaunting it?.” (p. 202)

For her first book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (and Other Concerns) I listened to the audio book version since Mindy read her own book and I enjoyed it immensely. Fortunately for her latest book, Why Not Me? I was able to obtain an early hardcover copy for review. In reality, a bunch of other Canadian book bloggers also received a review copy at the same time therefore we all pretty much read it at the same time was fun to witness. Additionally, I should also mention that the interior and exterior design of the finished copy is absolutely adorable and gorgeous.

Anyways, in her latest book, Why Not Me? Mindy picks up from Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (and Other Concerns) with new essays regarding recent events and happenings in her life, as well as topics that are more relevant to her now. What made me ecstatic about receiving a copy of Why Not Me? for review was an excerpt of her book that contained the essay on confidence. It blew me away, and as I too am a child of immigrants the takeaway message of the essay was something that I wholeheartedly agree with. In addition to the chapter that has the same name as the book, I also thoroughly enjoyed the chapter titled, “Soup Snakes.” “Soup Snakes” concerns her relationship with fellow actor and writer B.J. Novak. I adored the entire chapter as it granted me insight into their complicated but incredibly touching relationship and it was evident that she truly cares about him as a friend now. If you are looking for something a bit lighter and funnier then you should check out the chapter titled “Mindy Lahiri MD, Everygirl, Mild Sociopath “where Mindy explains the differences between her and her TV character from The Mindy Project in addition as the similarities between the two.

Why Not Me? is a must read for fans of both The Mindy Project in addition to those who are fans of Mindy Kaling herself. It’s a quick and entertaining read that is extremely well-written. In fact, even though it’s not an audio book I found that I could almost hear her voice talking to me as I read the book which in itself is quite amusing. In the end, there truly is something that can appeal to everybody in her latest collection of essays.

If you like this book, you’ll love: I Can’t Believe It’s Not Better by Monica Heisey 

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