Category Archives: Books

Summer Reading

I’ve been driving to work this summer instead of taking transit so my reading time has been cut down significantly…but I haven’t done a books update all summer so I have a few to talk about!

In a Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware



In a dark, dark wood

Nora hasn’t seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back.

There was a dark, dark house

Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her?

And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room

But something goes wrong. Very wrong.

And in the dark, dark room….

Some things can’t stay secret for ever.

Ehh, I didn’t love it. I was pretty disappointed actually because I felt like it had the opportunity to be awesome but it fell flat for me. I didn’t find anything about it new or innovative. It sort of reminded me of a RL Stine Fear Street novel or a Christopher Pike book from back in the day, but honestly it was not as thrilling and the plot wasn’t as good. The characters felt sort of flimsy to me and odd in an unrealistic way, especially the main character. I did not enjoy her at all. It wasn’t terrible, but it was not a favourite of mine.

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica



One night, Mia Dennett enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn’t show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. At first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia’s life.

When Colin decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota instead of delivering her to his employers, Mia’s mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them. But no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family’s world to shatter.

I really liked this! It was a refreshing read after that last book. Like many books in this genre recently, it’s been compared to Gone Girl which…just stop. Stop doing that. Not every book with a little bit of suspense is like Gone Girl. But it wasn’t what I was expecting at all, it felt fresh and different, and I got really into it. I definitely enjoyed. I’m also impressed it was Mary Kubica’s debut novel.

The Martian by Andy Weir



Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars’ surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive. And even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, Mark won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark’s not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills—and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength–he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a mad plan to contact NASA back on Earth.

As he overcomes one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next, Mark begins to let himself believe he might make it off the planet alive.

But Mars has plenty of surprises in store for him yet.

I read this after I watched the movie and I really liked both the movie and book. I thought they cast Matt Damon perfectly as Mark Watney, when I was reading the book I pictured Matt Damon in my head as I was reading and that felt natural. Mark’s humour was right up my alley and I loved the story. I only gave it three stars on GoodReads though (I would’ve gone for 3.5 if that was an option) because there was SO MUCH “here is the scientific explanation of exactly how I did this.” Like, I’m impressed you know those things, author, but I don’t care to. I didn’t think that amount of detail was needed. Sometimes we are talking entire chapters of a very scientific explanation of how something was rigged. So, there was some skimming happening on my part. The other thing was I had already seen the movie so I pretty much knew what was going to happen and that took away from the suspense a bit. But overall I really enjoyed it and would recommend.

You’re Never Weird On The Internet by Felicia Day



The Internet isn’t all cat videos. There’s also Felicia Day—violinist, filmmaker, Internet entrepreneur, compulsive gamer, hoagie specialist, and former lonely homeschooled girl who overcame her isolated childhood to become the ruler of a new world… or at least semi-influential in the world of Internet Geeks and Goodreads book clubs.

After growing up in the south where she was “home-schooled for hippie reasons”, Felicia moved to Hollywood to pursue her dream of becoming an actress and was immediately typecast as a crazy cat-lady secretary. But Felicia’s misadventures in Hollywood led her to produce her own web series, own her own production company, and become an Internet star.

Felicia’s short-ish life and her rags-to-riches rise to Internet fame launched her career as one of the most influential creators in new media. Now, Felicia’s strange world is filled with thoughts on creativity, video games, and a dash of mild feminist activism—just like her memoir.

Loved! I listened to this as an audio book and I loved the way Felicia told her story. Audio books narrated by the author are my favourite! Felicia is super relatable and likable. She is the creator of The Guild (a web series on YouTube based on World of Warcraft), and she also played Violet on Buffy. Ugh, the hate Felicia received for simply being a female gamer ENRAGED me. I didn’t know the background there, so reading that part of the book about all the hate Felicia received (from men) was really surprising (except not).

I have been known to be a bit of an internet geek and I got super into WoW a few years ago before I met Evan (and I found out Evan also played, haha.) I played it pretty religiously for about six months and I had two level 80s and even did some raiding — and then I realized that I was actually devoting my life to this game and there was no way to be just a casual player. I had to quit cold turkey if I wanted to be a productive member of society. Actually, I quit and then started my blog! This is a much more productive way to spend my spare time. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss it though. I still think about it sometimes, but I know that if I play it I’ll be sucked into the void again. It was a dark time. Evan and I have already discussed that when we are in a nursing home one day and have nothing better to do we will basically live in the game. Something to look forward to!

Anyway I loved the book, and I think you’d like it even if you don’t know anything about online RPG. Actually it inspired me to just buck the F up and finish the book that I’ve been working on already (of my cartoon stories) and to make my own internet dreams a reality (start a web comic).

There’s a few more books, including Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, but I’ll save ’em for next time. Read anything good lately?! Tell me!


Books Lately

Time for some book reviews!


The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan



American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister, Lacey, has always been the romantic who fantasized about glamour and royalty, fame and fortune. Yet it’s Bex who seeks adventure at Oxford and finds herself living down the hall from Prince Nicholas, Great Britain’s future king. And when Bex can’t resist falling for Nick, the person behind the prince, it propels her into a world she did not expect to inhabit, under a spotlight she is not prepared to face.

Dating Nick immerses Bex in ritzy society, dazzling ski trips, and dinners at Kensington Palace with him and his charming, troublesome brother, Freddie. But the relationship also comes with unimaginable baggage: hysterical tabloids, Nick’s sparkling and far more suitable ex-girlfriends, and a royal family whose private life is much thornier and more tragic than anyone on the outside knows. The pressures are almost too much to bear, as Bex struggles to reconcile the man she loves with the monarch he’s fated to become.

Which is how she gets into trouble.

Now, on the eve of the wedding of the century, Bex is faced with whether everything she’s sacrificed for love-her career, her home, her family, maybe even herself-will have been for nothing.

So as you may have guessed (or already know if you’ve read it) The Royal We is very thinly veiled Will and Kate fan-fiction. Naturally, I loved it. It was a juicy read and I thought the characters were well done — it followed about eight years of their lives and you really got to know Nick, Bex and all their quirky friends. Freddie’s studly character (aka Prince Harry) was my favourite. Not a surprise. I don’t know how true to life the book actually is, but it gave me a glimpse of what it would be like to be in the royal family and honestly that kind of attention seems pretty tough to deal with. Story-wise it wasn’t anything new or shocking, but solid 4 stars from me for entertainment value. I enjoyed reading it immensely.

The Last Child by John Hart



Thirteen year-old Johnny Merrimon had the perfect life: a warm home and loving parents; a twin sister, Alyssa, with whom he shared an irreplaceable bond. He knew nothing of loss, until the day Alyssa vanished from the side of a lonely street. Now, a year later, Johnny finds himself isolated and alone, failed by the people he’d been taught since birth to trust. No one else believes that Alyssa is still alive, but Johnny is certain that she is—confident in a way that he can never fully explain.

Determined to find his sister, Johnny risks everything to explore the dark side of his hometown. It is a desperate, terrifying search, but Johnny is not as alone as he might think. Detective Clyde Hunt has never stopped looking for Alyssa either, and he has a soft spot for Johnny. He watches over the boy and tries to keep him safe, but when Johnny uncovers a dangerous lead and vows to follow it, Hunt has no choice but to intervene.

Then a second child goes missing…

Undeterred by Hunt’s threats or his mother’s pleas, Johnny enlists the help of his last friend, and together they plunge into the wild, to a forgotten place with a history of violence that goes back more than a hundred years. There, they meet a giant of a man, an escaped convict on his own tragic quest. What they learn from him will shatter every notion Johnny had about the fate of his sister; it will lead them to another far place, to a truth that will test both boys to the limit.

I received this book as a birthday gift from my friend Dawn, so it was the first book I read in a long time that was an actual physical book and not an ebook. A real book! I read most of it in Cuba and I had a hard time putting it down on the beach, I delayed Evan’s proposal because I kept wanting to read for a few more minutes before we went swimming, ha. Anyway I was very impressed by this book. Who is this John Hart? I had never heard of him. This is not your standard murder-mystery thriller! Reading it was like a rollercoaster, with surprise twists and turns. It was gripping and well-written and heart-wrenching. Entertaining all around. Yes, parts of it were a bit far-fetched, but overall…I like. Solid 4 stars, maybe almost 4.5. Thanks Dawnald!

Defending Jacob by William Landay



Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than twenty years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: His fourteen-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.

Every parental instinct Andy has rallies to protect his boy. Jacob insists that he is innocent, and Andy believes him. Andy must. He’s his father. But as damning facts and shocking revelations surface, as a marriage threatens to crumble and the trial intensifies, as the crisis reveals how little a father knows about his son, Andy will face a trial of his own–between loyalty and justice, between truth and allegation, between a past he’s tried to bury and a future he cannot conceive.

I love mystery and crime thrillers, but I’m not really big on courtroom thrillers. Those have never been my genre. So I was skeptical of the courtroom part but I had heard good things so I decided to give it a shot. I liked it! I listened to an audiobook on my runs and though parts of it did drag a bit for me, overall it was an interesting read/listen. I finished it a few weeks ago and it has lingered with me, particularly the last third of the book, where it really picked up for me. I do think the ending was a bit contrived and everything wrapped up a little too quickly, considering how long the build-up was. But it was still worthwhile and enjoyable. I’m not sure if listening to it over reading it did much for me, but the narrator was good, which is important. I’d recommend.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak



It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

Just finished this puppy! The Book Thief takes place during WWII Nazi Germany, and I love a good WWII book. This was no exception, but what made it different was that it was from the perspective of the Germans, namely a young German girl Liesel. I was apprehensive at first about the writing style, but once I got into it I loved how it was written. And having the narrator be Death was such a unique way to tell the story. I really enjoyed his vantage point. The Book Thief is heartbreaking and humourous and it made me both laugh and cry on the subway. I didn’t mind. 5 stars from me — I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to read it! A new all-time fave for sure.

Read anything good lately?


Good Reads (Mostly)

I’ve got some more books to talk about so I’ll just get right to it. Let’s start with this:

Moloka’i by Alan Brennert



This richly imagined novel, set in Hawai’i more than a century ago, is an extraordinary epic of a little-known time and place—and a deeply moving testament to the resiliency of the human spirit.

Rachel Kalama, a spirited seven-year-old Hawaiian girl, dreams of visiting far-off lands like her father, a merchant seaman. Then one day a rose-colored mark appears on her skin, and those dreams are stolen from her. Taken from her home and family, Rachel is sent to Kalaupapa, the quarantined leprosy settlement on the island of Moloka’i. Here her life is supposed to end—but instead she discovers it is only just beginning.

I’m starting with Moloka’i because I just finished it so it’s fresh in my mind, and also because I loved it so, so much. My friend Paula recommended it as one her all-time favourites, and I’m so glad I read it because I think it is now one of mine. The story is just so good and everything I love in a novel. It is a well-written coming of age historical fiction, and it’s heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time. It gave me so many feelings, and it still does now when I think about it.


Overwhelming feels at times. I cried on the subway and I didn’t even care. . I also really liked that there were so many wonderful and well-developed characters. I have read so many books lately where there wasn’t a character that I could connect to, so this was completely refreshing. It was also a really interesting glimpse into history during an epidemic that I honestly knew nothing about. So, I loved it. I’m not going to be able to do this book justice with a review but I can not recommend it enough. Such a great read.

Three Little Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter



“Sunshine, you’re my baby and I’m your only mother. You must mind the one taking care of you, but she’s not your mama.” Ashley Rhodes-Courter spent nine years of her life in fourteen different foster homes, living by those words. As her mother spirals out of control, Ashley is left clinging to an unpredictable, dissolving relationship, all the while getting pulled deeper and deeper into the foster care system.

Painful memories of being taken away from her home quickly become consumed by real-life horrors, where Ashley is juggled between caseworkers, shuffled from school to school, and forced to endure manipulative,humiliating treatment from a very abusive foster family. In this inspiring, unforgettable memoir, Ashley finds the courage to succeed – and in doing so, discovers the power of her own voice.

Also a great read, though what Ashley went through is absolutely heart wrenching. Nine years in 14 different foster homes! Can you even imagine? This book made me ragey at the foster care system. I felt for Ashley so hard and was heartbroken when reading of the abuse and neglect she and her brother faced. At the end I was so proud of Ashley and her adoptive family. The fact that she wrote this book so young is impressive, and it is well-written. She doesn’t write with a lot of emotion, but her provocative commentary does a thorough job of letting the world know exactly what she went through, without the book itself being a Debbie Downer. She has become a powerful advocate for child welfare, and it is great that she can take her shitty childhood and make it into a positive influence on others — that takes a lot of strength. Anyway, I enjoyed and recommend.

I Didn’t Come Here to Make Friends by Courtney Robertson



Courtney Robertson joined season 16 of The Bachelor looking for love. A working model and newly single, Courtney fit the casting call: She was young, beautiful, and a natural in front of the cameras. Although she may have been there for all the right reasons, as the season unfolded and sparks began to fly something else was clear: She was not there to make friends.

Courtney quickly became one of the biggest villains in Bachelor franchise history. She unapologetically pursued her man, steamrolled her competition, and broke the rules—including partaking in an illicit skinny-dip that sealed her proposal. Now, after a very public breakup with her Bachelor, Ben Flajnik, Courtney opens up and tells her own story—from her first loves to her first moments in the limo. She dishes on life before, during, and after the Bachelor, including Ben’s romantic proposal to her on a Swiss mountaintop and the tabloid frenzy that continued after the cameras stopped rolling.

If you’re a Bachelor fan, you gotta read this. It was light, fun, entertaining and incredibly juicy. Courtney dishes. She does not hold back, about the Bachelor, and about her previous celeb dating. The parts about the Bachelor, which is the majority of the book, are filled with insider info. I liked. I really disliked Courtney when she was on the Bachelor, and I honestly only like her a little bit better after reading her book — her example of “hard times” was that sometimes she had to skip her dance classes when she was young because her parents didn’t have the money and that rubbed me the wrong way (um, see book above and do a little comparison) — but I don’t think she deserved to be torn apart in the media the way she was. Though I’m pretty sure she knew what she was getting into. With her type of personality she probably should have just assumed from the beginning she was going to be edited as Mega Bitch. I had a friend once tell me she would never, ever do reality TV because she just knew she would be edited as the bitch. It makes me wonder what I would be edited as… Dumb Blonde, probably.

According to Courtney Ben sounds like a total jerk and, no matter her flaws, she did not deserve to be treated by him the way she claimed she was (which I do believe — I don’t think she’s a liar). She is much better off without him. Anyway, it’s not some acclaimed literary work or anything but it’s a fun, quick read.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell



Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It’s company policy.) But they can’t quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.

Meanwhile, Lincoln O’Neill can’t believe this is his job now- reading other people’s e-mail. When he applied to be “internet security officer,” he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.

When Lincoln comes across Beth’s and Jennifer’s messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can’t help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.

By the time Lincoln realizes he’s falling for Beth, it’s way too late to introduce himself.

What would he say . . . ? “Hi, I’m the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you . . . “

This was the sweetest, most charming little book. I’ve been loving Rainbow Rowell lately, and this is up there with Eleanor & Park as one of my faves. She writes such wonderful characters. I love that Attachments took place during Y2K, I’m sure we all remember the fear of everything electronic collapsing in the year 2000. So funny. And I loved the email conversations between Beth and Jennifer. Reminded me of my convos with my best friend. I could really relate to them. I also love that FOR ONCE the main girl (Beth) in a book wasn’t described as a tiny waif. Beth was tall and sturdy and overall just a larger lady and GOOD. Finally not some tiny willowy thing who is constantly getting picked up and swung around by her man. I can’t relate to that. A tall and big boned woman? That’s more my speed.

Really cute book, definitely enjoyed, definitely recommend.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell



Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble; it has been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems beside the point now.

Maybe that was always beside the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts…

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

What can I say, I’m on a Rainbow Rowell kick. This one though… eh. Probably my least favourite of hers. Still okay in its own right, but doesn’t compare to her other novels, in my opinion (see ridiculously cute book above). I felt like I was kind of waiting for something to happen the whole time. It was a bit boring. Also, I don’t understand the allure of Neal. He is described as an overweight sulky man who never smiles or laughs. Like, no thanks. He seems like the kind of person you date because they are unattainable (because they give you nothing and you soak up any scrap they might offer you) and therefore an exciting challenge, and then you break up after much too long (and years after you should have) because you finally realize that unattainable is all he really has to offer. Look, we’ve all been there, but you don’t marry that person. Okay in Neal’s case I guess he’s a good dad, so that is a redeeming quality. Anyway, it was okay. Plenty of other Rainbow Rowell books to check out first though!

Seriously…I’m Kidding by Ellen Degeneres



“Sometimes the greatest things are the most embarrassing.” Ellen Degeneres’ winning, upbeat candor has made her show one of the most popular, resilient and honored daytime shows on the air. (To date, it has won no fewer than 31 Emmys.) Seriously… I’m Kidding, Degeneres’ first book in eight years, brings us up to date about the life of a kindhearted woman who bowed out of American Idol because she didn’t want to be mean. Lively; hilarious; often sweetly poignant.

I love Ellen and I listened to the audio version of this and it was great that she was reading it… But it was just mediocre for me. It was obviously entertaining, as Ellen always is, but it was very much just surface material and didn’t dive into anything personal at all. Basically just like an extended opening monologue. I still love Ellen, but I didn’t love this. It’s really short though, I listened to it over several hours.



Time for another books post!


The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood



Living in their car, surviving on tips, Charmaine and Stan are in a desperate state. So, when they see an advertisement for Consilience, a ‘social experiment’ offering stable jobs and a home of their own, they sign up immediately. All they have to do in return for suburban paradise is give up their freedom every second month – swapping their home for a prison cell. At first, all is well. But then, unknown to each other, Stan and Charmaine develop passionate obsessions with their ‘Alternates,’ the couple that occupy their house when they are in prison. Soon the pressures of conformity, mistrust, guilt and sexual desire begin to take over.

First of all, YAY for a new Margaret Atwood book! I had to read this for a book club at work, but I probably would have read it anyway because who doesn’t love Margaret Atwood. It was…interesting. It’s a satire and it definitely had a lighter feel than her other books, though it did take place in a dystopic society so it had its dark moments. I enjoyed reading it, and I gave it four stars, though I wonder if that was mostly because it was such a weird idea and I was impressed by it. And also because I love Margaret Atwood’s writing so much. I really disliked the characters, especially Stan. He was sort of a useless Homer Simpson type (although Homer Simpson is at least likeable). So then I wanted to like Charmaine because I always want to feel like I have a character that I’m rooting for, but she was just sort of dumb and vanilla. I’m also not really sure what this book was about — was the point of it love, or sex robots, or was it life in a totalitarian society? I don’t know. But I didn’t dislike it. It was fun to read and if you like Margaret Atwood you should check ‘er out. And if you’ve never read Margaret Atwood, I’d start with The Handmaid’s Tale.

Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling



In Why Not Me?, Kaling shares her ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in her adult life, whether it’s falling in love at work, seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behavior modification whatsoever, or most important, believing that you have a place in Hollywood when you’re constantly reminded that no one looks like you.

Mindy’s newest book, like her last one, made me feel like I wanted to be her best friend. I just find her so relatable. Except when she was talking about how hard she works. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for working hard and I feel like a total boss when I’ve had a productive work day, but she works insanely long hours — I’m talking 18 hours a day — and credits her success to that. I have a ton of respect for her, but I just can’t imagine that life. Granted, she works with her friends and her work is probably super fun, but still. I wouldn’t want my life to be only my work, you know? And I guess that’s why I’m not a successful Hollywood writer and actress. Anyway, it was a light and fun read, Mindy makes me laugh (though I don’t watch her show) and I liked it a lot more than Lena Dunham’s book that’s for sure.

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova



Sarah Nickerson is like any other career-driven supermom in Welmont, the affluent Boston suburb where she leads a hectic but charmed life with her husband Bob, faithful nanny, and three children—Lucy, Charlie, and nine-month-old Linus. Between recruiting the best and brightest minds as the vice president of human resources at Berkley Consulting; shuttling the kids to soccer, day care, and piano lessons; convincing her son’s teacher that he may not, in fact, have ADD; and making it home in time for dinner, it’s a wonder this over-scheduled, over-achieving Harvard graduate has time to breathe.

A self-confessed balloon about to burst, Sarah miraculously manages every minute of her life like an air traffic controller. Until one fateful day, while driving to work and trying to make a phone call, she looks away from the road for one second too long. In the blink of an eye, all the rapidly moving parts of her jam-packed life come to a screeching halt.

A traumatic brain injury completely erases the left side of her world, and for once, Sarah relinquishes control to those around her, including her formerly absent mother. Without the ability to even floss her own teeth, she struggles to find answers about her past and her uncertain future.

Now, as she wills herself to regain her independence and heal, Sarah must learn that her real destiny—her new, true life—may in fact lie far from the world of conference calls and spreadsheets. And that a happiness and peace greater than all the success in the world is close within reach, if only she slows down long enough to notice.

Just reading about Sarah’s life before her accident nearly gave me a panic attack. Being childfree (and catfree) right now, I don’t have a lot of responsibility outside of work, and I would not say that I have a high stress job (not anymore, at least). So everything Sarah was trying to fit into her day was overwhelming to read and I sort of wanted to shake her and tell her to slow the F down. Sarah is not the most likeable character at first — she is too boasty and braggy about her success in her career and as a supermom. But I did like her a lot more after her accident.

I found the neurological condition of left-sided neglect interesting — I had heard about it (mainly caused by strokes) previously but really did not know anything about it. I can’t imagine how frustrating it would be to not be able to recognize anything to your left, even the parts of your body on the left side. Really weird.

Overall I enjoyed this book, more than Love Anthony, the last book I read by her, but not nearly as much as Still Alice, which remains one of my all-time faves.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah



FRANCE, 1939

In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France…but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When France is overrun, Vianne is forced to take an enemy into her house, and suddenly her every move is watched; her life and her child’s life is at constant risk. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates around her, she must make one terrible choice after another.

Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets the compelling and mysterious Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can…completely. When he betrays her, Isabelle races headlong into danger and joins the Resistance, never looking back or giving a thought to the real–and deadly–consequences.

I loved it. Looooved it. I hard a really difficult time putting it down and I spent a couple nights up way past my bedtime reading because I needed to know what happened. I’ll admit this type of book is right up my alley. It’s your typical WW2 husband goes off to war, wife and sister’s town invaded by Nazis and they are left trying to survive as everything turns to shit around them. I particularly enjoyed the parts about the resistance movement.

I have read many books that take place during WWII (Night, Sarah’s Key, City of Thieves, All The Light We Cannot See, the diary of Anne Frank, Until We Meet Again, etc.), but every time it hits me anew how the lives of so many millions of people were ruined. I can’t imagine living in that kind of fear. I thought that The Nightingale did the every day life well during this time. Nazis taking over your town, living in your home, residents living in fear and essentially barely surviving for years. This book really hit home to me how long this went on for. It was a great read and I just demolished it. Highly recommend.

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson 



In LET’S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED, Jenny Lawson baffled readers with stories about growing up the daughter of a taxidermist. In her new book, FURIOUSLY HAPPY, Jenny explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. And terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.

According to Jenny: “Some people might think that being ‘furiously happy’ is just an excuse to be stupid and irresponsible and invite a herd of kangaroos over to your house without telling your husband first because you suspect he would say no since he’s never particularly liked kangaroos. And that would be ridiculous because no one would invite a herd of kangaroos into their house. Two is the limit. I speak from personal experience. My husband says that none is the new limit. I say he should have been clearer about that before I rented all those kangaroos.”

Jenny’s first book, LET’S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED, was ostensibly about family, but deep down it was about celebrating your own weirdness. FURIOUSLY HAPPY is a book about mental illness, but under the surface it’s about embracing joy in fantastic and outrageous ways-and who doesn’t need a bit more of that?

I love Jenny Lawson and I like reading her blog (the Bloggess), but for me her books are a long slog. Her first book was actually a DNF for me (did not finish), but I still wanted to give this one a chance and I had high hopes I would get more into it. I really feel bad not giving it a great review because I like her so much and I think writing a book in itself is an amazing achievement and I don’t want to harp on anyone doing their thing…and also I think it is great that she is so vocal about mental illness because we need less stigma about it. But I had a really hard time getting through this book. It took a lot of energy to read. I will say that I liked the last quarter of it more than the rest, though maybe by that point I had resigned myself to the fact that I was going to finish no matter what.

On the bright side this book made me laugh out loud a few times, but that alone wasn’t enough to redeem it for me. I think I might be the minority because a lot of Bloggess fans seem to absolutely love her books, so I get it, but the dark parts made me feel so sad and the tangents made me want to yell “JUST GET BACK TO THE STORY!” I do think this book might work better as an audio book, as Jenny reads it and I think her emphasis would help the narrative.

And that’s it. Read anything good lately?


Talk Nerdy To Me (Book Reviews)

Actually, I am the one who is going to be talking nerdy to you. I have a few books to talk about.

I really appreciate all your recommendations on my last books post, I want to read them all and I will — but since most of my reading lately is on an ebook through my library’s Overdrive app, I am at the mercy of when my holds become available. It’s stressful. I am next in line for four books that I’ve had on hold for several months, including Jenny Lawson’s new book, which I have had on hold since early November. This means these four books are all going to be available around the same time, which is unfortunate because I can’t read four books in the allotted three weeks. I don’t want to have to wait another four months! I have to be strategic with my reading these days. The library app is so handy, but it’s stressful.

Oh and if you want to be my friend on Goodreads my name is just ‘happyorhungry’.

Love Anthony by Lisa Genova



Two women, each cast adrift by unforseen events in their lives, meet by accident on a Nantucket beach and are drawn into a friendship.
Olivia is a young mother whose eight-year-old severely autistic son has recently died. Her marriage badly frayed by years of stress, she comes to the island in a trial separation to try and make sense of the tragedy of her Anthony’s short life.

Beth, a stay-at-home mother of three, is also recently separated after discovering her husband’s long-term infidelity. In an attempt to recapture a sense of her pre-married life, she rekindles her passion for writing, determined to find her own voice again. But surprisingly, as she does so, Beth also find herself channeling the voice of an unknown boy, exuberant in his perceptions of the world around him if autistic in his expression—a voice she can share with Olivia—(is it Anthony?)—that brings comfort and meaning to them both.

I liked Love Anthony, but not nearly as much as I love Still Alice, also by Lisa Genova. Still Alice absolutely blew me away and I don’t think I have ever been moved so much by a book. I didn’t expect to have the same experience with Love Anthony, but I was still disappointed. I do really enjoy Lisa Genova’s writing though. It’s deeper than your average trashy chick lit, and this book gave me the feels. I don’t have much experience with autism and I find it so interesting to get a glimpse into the mind of someone who is on the spectrum. If you are the parent of a child with severe autism I can’t even imagine the comfort this book might bring you. Especially the epilogue, which made me ugly cry.

However, it switches between viewpoints and I didn’t love the back and forth between the two main characters, Beth and Olivia. They seemed too similar to me so sometimes I would get their stories mixed up and it would take me a minute to remember what had happened to which character. I also thought that some elements of the plot were a bit thin (how Olivia becomes a successful photographer overnight or the weird coincidence of Beth writing the book about Anthony, Olivia’s son, when she has no experience with autism). But overall I liked it and enjoyed reading it.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell



Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan… But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to. Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

I enjoyed reading this a lot. Rainbow Rowell is becoming my new favourite young adult author. I really liked Eleanor & Park, too. Both books are cute and have well-developed, quirky characters. I loved Cath and I found her social awkwardness endearing. I too would have felt weird about going to the school cafeteria by myself and trying to figure it out, because I too can be awkward in public and tend to get in the wrong lineup or do something embarrassing or whatever, so I completely understand worrying about that. But food will always win for me. I don’t mind having to be awkward and uncomfortable if it means I get to eat food, so I can’t relate to hiding in your dorm room and eating only protein bars, as Cath did (until her roommate dragged her out). But I do relate to considering it. Also, I absolutely LOVED Levi!

I didn’t love the Simon Snow fan fiction parts of Fangirl though. I could have done without those. It was like Harry Potter but I had no attachment to the characters and it just annoyed me to have to read about them when I wanted to hear about the adventures of Cath and Levi. I have Carry On (Rainbow’s next book) on hold at the library but apparently the entire thing is about Simon Snow and friends, and now I am less excited about it. Has anyone read it and liked it? Maybe a whole book about this Simon Snow character will be better than having it interspersed in a book about someone else.

Anyway, otherwise I liked it and I’d recommend.

Where’d You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple



Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.

I was so disappointed by this book. It has great reviews and I really wanted to like it…but I did not. I did not like the format at all. It is written almost entirely in letters, from various characters. I have read other books like this before and it didn’t bother me (We Need To Talk About Kevin, for example), but in this case it really did until a few chapters from the end. The most disappointing was that some parts were really funny. I loved Bee (Bernadette’s daughter), and I thought Bernadette and Bee’s conversations were hilarious. That was the only redeeming quality and for me the book fell flat otherwise. My pal Paula put it the best: “I hated it but there were just enough things I liked to get me to finish.”

Yup. That’s exactly how I felt. And the parts I liked I really liked, which made it all the more disappointing.

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd



Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.

As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

I loved it. I am not going to be able to do justice to this book by writing a review, I don’t even think I have my thoughts together about it… It was one of the most powerful books I’ve read. I cannot believe the amount of research Sue Monk Kidd would have had to put into this. The character development is spectacular, and I found myself really rooting for Handful (and her mother) and Sarah. It was refreshing to read about such strong women.

The only thing is it dragged a bit for me in the middle, but the book follows characters from when they were children until they are middle-aged, and I would think keeping the reader’s interest in that kind of story is difficult. It’s a bit heavy so prepare yourself to get sucked in. I highly recommend this book. It’s a great read.

Where She Went by Gayle Forman



It’s been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam’s life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard’s rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia’s home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future – and each other.

Told from Adam’s point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

I totally get why so many people love this book, but it’s not my favourite. I thought it was pretty good, it’s a light and quick read, and I liked it better than the first one. At the same time I don’t feel like I want to rave on about it. Gayle Forman is a great writer, and she does dialogue really well. I just needed more. Or something. I don’t know. I know I’m in the minority, this book has amazing reviews.

That’s it! Have you read anything good lately?



Exciting title, I know, but time for book reviews! I’ve been reading a lot this past month.

The Girl With All The Gifts



Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.

Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

I loved this book. So, so much. I was having love bursts for it as I was reading it. I read it on Paula‘s recommendation and I emailed her halfway through and just said “I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH!!!” I didn’t want it to end, but the ending was so good! It is an interesting and different perspective on zombies, and completely unlike any zombie story I’ve read or watched before. I wish I could read it all over again for the first time. I think it might be up there in my list of all-time faves and I would give it all the stars if I could. Highly recommend.

Eleanor & Park



Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.

Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

I really liked this book too. I read it just after The Girl With The Gifts and I find that every time I finish a book that I really love I am a bit apprehensive for the next book because I don’t see how it will live up to it. It’s a dark time. But with this book I was right back into the swing of things. I loved their love! Eleanor’s family life made me sad, but what she found with Park made me so happy. The ending wasn’t my favourite, but what can ya do? I don’t know what else to say about it except read it. Five stars from me.

China Rich Girlfriend



On the eve of her wedding to Nicholas Young, heir to one of the greatest fortunes in Asia, Rachel should be over the moon. She has a flawless Asscher-cut diamond from JAR, a wedding dress she loves more than anything found in the salons of Paris, and a fiancé willing to sacrifice his entire inheritance in order to marry her. But Rachel still mourns the fact that her birthfather, a man she never knew, won’t be able to walk her down the aisle. Until: a shocking revelation draws Rachel into a world of Shanghai splendor beyond anything she has ever imagined. Here we meet Carlton, a Ferrari-crashing bad boy known for Prince Harry-like antics; Colette, a celebrity girlfriend chased by fevered paparazzi; and the man Rachel has spent her entire life waiting to meet: her father.

Meanwhile, Singapore’s It Girl, Astrid Leong, is shocked to discover that there is a downside to having a newly minted tech billionaire husband. A romp through Asia’s most exclusive clubs, auction houses, and estates, China Rich Girlfriend brings us into the elite circles of Mainland China, introducing a captivating cast of characters, and offering an inside glimpse at what it’s like to be gloriously, crazily, China-rich.

I didn’t love this book as much as the prequel, Crazy Rich Asians (which I reviewed in my last books post), but it was still entertaining. I didn’t really care for the Kitty Pong storyline; I felt like I wanted to just skim her parts, but I soldiered on. The last book did not make me want to be rich in the least, but this one, particularly when it was describing one of the character’s houses (mostly her bathroom that was basically a forest, and her personal spa), I was kind of longing to be a millionaire. Just so I can have an amazing bathroom. Anyway, I enjoyed living vicariously through the characters. I also enjoyed how much they described all the Chinese food they were eating. I wanted it all! I was hungry throughout the entire book and I cannot wait to eat China for HoH eats the world because of this book! And Hong Kong, and I might pretend Singapore is a country so I can eat more. I give a full star just for the food descriptions in here. Otherwise, solid book, and if you read and liked the first, I’d check it out.

Missing You



It’s a profile, like all the others on the online dating site. But as NYPD Detective Kat Donovan focuses on the accompanying picture, she feels her whole world explode, as emotions she’s ignored for decades come crashing down on her. Staring back at her is her ex-fiancé Jeff, the man who shattered her heart—and who she hasn’t seen in 18 years.

Kat feels a spark, wondering if this might be the moment when past tragedies recede and a new world opens up to her. But when she reaches out to the man in the profile, her reawakened hope quickly darkens into suspicion and then terror as an unspeakable conspiracy comes to light, in which monsters prey upon the most vulnerable.

As the body count mounts and Kat’s hope for a second chance with Jeff grows more and more elusive, she is consumed by an investigation that challenges her feelings about everyone she ever loved—her former fiancé, her mother, and even her father, whose cruel murder so long ago has never been fully explained. With lives on the line, including her own, Kat must venture deeper into the darkness than she ever has before, and discover if she has the strength to survive what she finds there.

Oh, Harlan Coben. I must admit I am a loyal Harlan Coben fan. I discovered his Myron Bolitar series back in high school and I have been reading him ever since. I liked this book a lot. The end didn’t catch me completely off guard, but I loved the little twists and turns this novel took. It was fast-paced and it left me wanting more. It wasn’t a literary masterpiece or anything, but Coben’s dry wit was definitely present and that always makes it enjoyable to me. I don’t understand why his books like this don’t get as much attention as say, The Girl On The Train. I am jealous of the way Coben can pump out these suspenseful and elaborately entwined stories once a year. Of course, they usually have a similar theme — the main character’s past always comes back to haunt them in some way, and it’s usually to do with a family or relationship secret.

The Stranger



The Stranger appears out of nowhere, perhaps in a bar, or a parking lot, or at the grocery store. His identity is unknown. His motives are unclear. His information is undeniable. Then he whispers a few words in your ear and disappears, leaving you picking up the pieces of your shattered world.

Adam Price has a lot to lose: a comfortable marriage to a beautiful woman, two wonderful sons, and all the trappings of the American Dream: a big house, a good job, a seemingly perfect life.

Then he runs into the Stranger. When he learns a devastating secret about his wife, Corinne, he confronts her, and the mirage of perfection disappears as if it never existed at all. Soon Adam finds himself tangled in something far darker than even Corinne’s deception, and realizes that if he doesn’t make exactly the right moves, the conspiracy he’s stumbled into will not only ruin lives—it will end them.

Also typical Harlan Coben style, same sort of thing, suspenseful with all the twists and such, but I didn’t like this book as much as Missing You. I also felt like Coben was a bit sexist in this book. I did not enjoy the way he described his female characters. I can’t remember noticing this in his books before but it left me questioning if maybe I am just more aware of sexism now. It’s possible… Otherwise it was a decent story, but nothing super memorable.

Have you read anything good lately? Evan and I are going away for a week in February so I definitely need some reading material! I am always up for recommendations.