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Showing posts from February, 2016

Month In Review

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After a strong month of reading in January, things slowed down in February. I found myself passing up on a few books that I was really looking forward to but just couldn't get in to. And I don't think that it's the books fault, I was just not in the right mood for them. What I did read though was pretty good and there were a couple of 5 star stand out books for me. Here is what I read with my GoodReads ratings:

She's Not There by Joy Fielding *****
A Mother's Reckoning by Sue Klebold *****
13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad ****
This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp ****
Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight ****
Café Babanussa by Karen Hill ***

DNF
The Bat by Jo Nesbo
The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah
The Motorcyclist by George Elliott Clarke

Thoughts
A Mother's Reckoning was such a heartbreaking and emotional read. I was full out crying in many parts. Sue Klebold is brave for writing this book and putting herself out there and I think it'…

Weekly Wrap-up

We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are - Anaïs Nin
Reviewed on the blog
She's Not There by Joy Fielding Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik
Bookish news of the week
Last week was Freedom to Read Week. Here is a list of 12 Canadian books that have been challenged.
Open eBooks is a program that is making thousands of e-books available to low income children. On its first day it had 50,000 sign-ups.
TIME magazine released a list of the 100 most-read female writers in college classes. And of course, the list included one man.
Me! On the Internet
I decided to resurrect my Tumblr account and use it as a reading journal. You can check it out here.

"Sofia Khan is Not Obliged" by Ayisha Malik

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Sofia Khan has decided to swear off men for good after breaking off her engagement to a man who was a little too close to his family. Okay, “a little too close” is an understatement - the man wanted them to live in a house with an actual hole in the wall that led in to his parents house next door. Much to her parents dismay, Sofia has had enough. 
But the people she works with at a publishing house have a different idea. They think a Muslim dating book is a fantastic idea to fill a hole in the market and that Sofia is the best person to write it. She loves having the opportunity to write a book but it means that she’s going to have to jump back into the dating pool to do so. As the deadline approaches quickly, she’ll have to deal with her marriage obsessed relatives, internet dating, disastrous dates, and love where you least expect it.
Sofia Khan is Not Obliged, by Ayisha Malik, is a fun, fresh novel about dating and finding Mr. Right. Told from the perspective of a South Asian Musli…

Hot Topic: Books on Refugees

Recently, I had a customer come into the store asking for books about the refugee experience. As I rattled off books I've read she said "wow, you're really interested in this topic." It is something I'm interested in and for me, it's not enough to learn about current events through the news, I want something more that books can give me. So I thought I would share with you the list that I shared with my customer. These are all books that document the experience of leaving one's home country for reasons that are beyond control.

Fiction

Ru - Kim Thuy
A Long Walk to Water - Linda Sue Park
Black Mamba Boy - Nadifa Mohamed
All Our Names - Dinaw Mengistu
The Illegal - Lawrence Hill
Cities of Refuge - Michael Helm

Non-Fiction

Running For My Life - Lopez Lomong
War Child - Emmanuel Jal
Citizens of Nowhere - Debi Goodwin
City of Thorns - Ben Rawlence
Intolerable - Kamal Al-Solaylee
Outcasts United - Warren St. John

"She's Not There" by Joy Fielding

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Fifteen years ago, Caroline Shipley was on vacation in Mexico with her family and friends, there to celebrate her tenth wedding anniversary.  Fifteen years ago on that vacation, her life was changed forever.

On the last night of their trip, Caroline and her husband Hunter left their children, five-year-old Michelle and two-year-old Samantha, asleep in the hotel room while they had dinner with their friends a few floors below. Checking in on the children every half hour, they told themselves everything would be okay. Until they returned to the room at the end of the night to find Samantha missing from her crib.
Fifteen years later Caroline is divorced and alone, dreading the yearly calls from reporters that force her to relive the kidnapping. But when the phone rings this year, it’s a voice she wasn’t sure she would ever hear. It’s a seventeen-year-old girl who thinks that she may be her long-lost daughter. While Caroline has been disappointed by calls like this before something is te…

Weekly Wrap-up

Make a difference about something other than yourselves  - Toni Morrison
Reviewed on the blog
Mona Awad's 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl Karen Hill's Café Babanussa
Bookish news of the week
Emma Donoghue is releasing a new book in September titled The Wonder. I loved Room, didn't like Frog Music, so it will be interesting to see which way I go with this book.
The literary world lost two greats this week - Harper Lee and Umberto Eco.
Toni Morrison turned 85.
Internet Fun Stuff of the week
Writing the great Canadian novel but stuck on the plot? Use the CanLit Generator.
Already read Mindy Kaling's two fantastic books and need more of her in your life? Read what Mindy is reading.
Me! On the internet!
I was interviewed by Claire of CMClaire for her "I Love Your Blog" feature. Check out the interview.

"Café Babanussa" by Karen Hill

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In the 1980’s, a young mixed-race woman moves from Canada to Germany in search of a new life. Berlin is full of dreamers, artists, and travellers, and Ruby Edwards quickly finds her place amongst them. She is able to break free from her overbearing family and the claustrophobia of her all-white neighbourhood in Canada and discover the person that she was meant to be.
But just as Ruby is finding her place and building her life, she finds herself hospitalized for mental illness. As she leans on her family and her tight-knit community she is able to fight her way through it but for Ruby it is something that she will be fighting every day of her life.
Café Babanussa, by Karen Hill, is a moving and heartbreaking novel based on the authors own life experience of race, immigration, and mental illness.  It is especially poignant knowing that Hill passed away a year before it was published and was never able to see the finished product hit the shelves. 
This was an anticipated novel of 2016 fo…

"13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl" by Mona Awad

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For all of her life, Lizzie has never liked the way her body looks. Her friend Mel says that she’s the pretty one, but all Lizzie really sees is a fat girl. And as she gets older, she’s convinced thats how everyone else sees her as well. So she loses weight. She counts every calorie, deprives herself of the foods she loves, logs every mile she travels through exercise, and eventually she becomes the thin person she's wanted to be.  But she quickly realizes that being thin isn’t the solution to all of her problems because being thin doesn’t mean she sees herself as anything other than a fat girl.
13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl, by Mona Awad, is a novel told in thirteen short stories. It is a moving and heartbreaking story of a young girl who is spurned by the body-obsessed culture that surrounds her and who struggles through her whole life to conform.
This is such a unique and interesting book. I didn’t know what to expect going into it and I found myself moved by the character o…

"Reasons to Stay Alive" by Matt Haig

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At the age of 24, writer Matt Haig found himself standing at the edge of a cliff, wanting to jump off. In Reasons to Stay Alive he shares why he didn’t jump and how he learned to live with the anxiety and depression that had brought him to that point.
The statistics show that 1 in 5 people will deal with mental health issues at some point in their life. But how it presents itself is different for each person and that can often make it difficult to talk about.. Those who are going through it feel as if they are the only person who has ever felt like that.  Those who have a loved one experiencing it feel at a loss of how to help them. This is a book that will help everyone.
A few years back, I struggled with anxiety. I did not understand it, nor did I talk to anyone about it and for quite a few months I suffered in silence until it turned into a depressive episode. That is where I sought medical help that changed everything for me. But even as I worked my way through it, I felt that mi…

"Behind Closed Doors" by B.A. Paris

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Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace, that perfect couple everyone wants to be. He is a handsome lawyer, who represents women who are victims of domestic violence. She is a beautiful and doting wife who takes immaculate care of their home. It’s safe to say that their friends are in awe and possibly a tiny bit jealous.
But if you take a closer look at Jack and Grace you’ll notice some cracks in the facade. They are never apart. She never answers the phone and she always cancels last minute when she has plans. And the house has a security system that not only keeps people out but also keeps them in.
Behind Closed Doors, by B.A. Paris, is a chilling and terrifying thriller that shows how no one can really know what goes on in a marriage.
Wow. As I sit down to write about this book a month after I read it, all I can still say is, wow. This is a good read. It’s been a while since I’ve read a book with page-turning suspense, that I must absolutely keep reading because I have to know …

"This is Where It Ends" by Marieke Nijkamp

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At 10:00 am, the principal of Opportunity High School in Alabama has finished the same speech she gives every year, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester. 
At 10:02 am, the students all get up to leave but the auditorium doors will not open.
At 10:05 am, someone starts shooting.
This Is Where It Ends, by Marieke Nijkamp, is a story told over the span of 54 minutes in which a high school shooting occurs. Shown from four different perspectives, it relates the horror and heroism that takes place as one student commits the most heinous of crimes against his peers.
I was in high school when the Columbine shootings took place. I still vividly remember the feelings of returning to school the next day and how the place felt different. Nothing like that had happened before but now it’s an epidemic. Each time I hear of another school shooting, I’m reminded of how those days felt and that is what drove me to pick up this book.
I thought that telling the story in “real time“ was a g…

"City of Thorns" by Ben Rawlence

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Deep in the desert of Northern Kenya lies the Dadaab refugee camp, where almost half a million residents live, unable to go back to their home in Somalia and unwanted by the Kenyan government. Dadaab is considered a humanitarian crisis. Only supposed to house a few thousand people for a few years, it has for over two decades grown into a city.
Ben Rawlence spent four years in Dadaab, witnessing first-hand the struggles of the people who call it home.  They ended up there trying to escape the civil war in Somalia but now it looks like many will never escape the desperation and difficulties.
City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp, by Ben Rawlence, is a heartbreaking and intimate look at life inside Dadaab.  The nine stories are interwoven to give readers a well-rounded understanding of the political landscape that created Dadaab and the forces that keep people there. The lives lived in Dadaab are unimaginable for so many of us and this book shines a spotlight on …

Month In Review

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The start of a new year is always so much fun as a reader. It's the time when all the lists of "must-read" books are out and we get to make our lists of what to read, what to buy, and what to put on hold at the library.  That always inspires me to do a lot of reading and that definitely happened this month. Here is what I read in January with my GoodReads ratings:

Troublemaker - Leah Remini *****
Reasons to Stay Alive - Matt Haig ****
City of Thorns - Ben Rawlence ****
City of the Lost - Kelley Armstrong ****
Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist - Sunil Yapa ****
The Outside Circle - Patti Laboucane-Benson ****
Behind Closed Doors - B.A. Paris ****
The Crooked Heart of Mercy - Billie Livingston ****
Birdie - Tracey Lindberg ***
The Royal We - Heather Cocks ***

DNF
The Expatriates - Janice YK Lee

Thoughts

Troublemaker was absolutely amazing! It is currently not for sale in Canada so I had a family member purchase it while in the US.  Leah Remini does not hold back!  Reasons…