Hello, October!


Hello!

I know, I know. I’ve gone and flounced on ya again. I’ve run out of excuses – not that I’m looking for any. I’m just…life, yanno?

Yesterday, I was thinking…You know, October sounds like the perfect month to get back on the horse again, so I figured, why not?

Let’s start off with how I’ve fared with my stacks of books, shall we? I’m happy to announce that I’ve met and surpassed my Goodreads goal for the year. I started off with 100 books, but I’m well on my way to reaching 150 before the year is out. All thanks to a recent discovery: the library audiobooks. I went ham on all the physical books that I had in my possession and borrowed their audio counterparts. I haven’t put a dent on my stacks, but I sure have made some progress.

I even managed to read and reread some favourites. I borrowed the entire Charley Davidson compilation; read and re-read The Love Quotient, started some series that I’ve always wanted to read (The Mercy Thompson series was a dud, btw. I flounced on the books), and finally, finally read the first book to the Harry Potter series (it was a’ight). Overall, the reading has been great even if my blogging and reviewing books has been dismal.

However, I wrote a few reviews even though I was on hiatus.

As far as September went, and based on the pic above, you would think it had been a great month. But I only read 11 as opposed to my usual average of 15-20 books. The ratings are as follows:

  1. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green – 1 star out of 5.
  2. The Royal We by Heather Cocks – 3 stars out of 5
  3. Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse – 2 stars out f 5
  4. Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe by Preston Norton – 5/5
  5. Home After Dark by David Small – 4 stars out of 5
  6. Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young – 4 stars out of 5
  7. Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks – 4 stars out of 5
  8. Ripper by Isabel Allende – 5 stars out of 5
  9. Inferno by Dan Brown – 4 stars out of 5
  10. Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx – 4 stars out of 5
  11. Boomerang by Noelle August – 3 stars out of 5

My favourite read of the month was Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe. It was so incredibly real, full of heart and kindness but not in the most obvious way. I absolutely loved it.

My least favourite read was Turtles All the Way Down by John Green. I just didn’t gel with the characters. If you’re familiar with John’s work, you should already know that his characters are way too intelligent to function most times. /sarcasm. They’re perfectly flawed, and inscrutibly hard to pin down. I had a hard time empathizing with Aza’s mental quirks/disorders. It got to a certain point where I found her annoying – which is unfortunate, because it makes me sound like a heartless bitch who can’t sympathize with someone who has her numerous mental issues. I’m probably not going to write a detailed review because I would most certainly end up ranting.

So, I apologize for the word vom. I wanted to keep this short but I had so much to talk about. I hope I’ll be on my best behaviour and keep this thing going, but you never know, yanno?

Thanks again for everything. For hanging in here with me.

Looking forward to visiting you guys!

 

 

[747]: Matchmaking for Beginners by Maddie Dawson

A fascinating study of an eclectic group of people held together by a quirky matriarch, magic, and her predecessor.


Matchmaking for Beginners
by Maddie Dawson

Everything about this book screams, Rom-Com; from its Tiffany-blue jacket with a couple drawn animatedly on the front, to the quirky synopsis about a divine connection between two unsuspecting, quirkily similar women. Truthfully, it was what drew me to this book. It started out great. Unfortunately, the more I got to know the heroine, the less I was inclined to continue. But I persisted because there’s nothing I love more than reading about an eclectic commune of people tentatively finding their footing in their own ways.

Luckily for you, dear readers, Blix might endear you (as she had, me). As well, the group of humans living in a brownstone building that Blix haplessly saved from the clutches of eternal discontent. There was Lola, a geriatric who was too afraid to start over but have learned through Blix’s manipulations urgings that life starts only when you realized you only have one to live. There was Jessica and Sammy, a mother and son tandem. Then, there’s the recluse who lives in the basement – a former artist disfigured from a fire accident.  This eclectic group acted as a balm from everything else that made this novel frustrating.

There are also characters here that might drive you to drink. The good for nothing, two-week husband who has no balls and no brains; his entire snooty-nosed clan who has more greed that can fit in their pretentious mansion; and worst yet, Marnie McGraw, who was a train wreck and a basket full of bad decisions rolled into one. Unfortunate, considering she shares the top billing in this novel. Marnie was perfectly imperfect. But I can’t, for the life of me, reconcile myself to actually like this girl. Even if she redeemed herself in the end, the damage was done. [spoiler]You can’t make a man marry you. You also can’t hurt another man twice in his lifetime. Cheating is never acceptable. It’s an unforgivable sin in my book. [End of spoiler]. So yeah, Marnie tried my patience.

Never fear, this book has its moments as well. When Marnie is not being her self-absorbed, woe-is-me, self, she was unintentionally funny. She truly cared for the well-being of the people in her building and was truly sentimental on forging ahead with Blix’s unfinished businesses. And if you’re into magic and things of that nature, this book also has an air of mystical quality reminiscent of Practical Magic minus the darkness and only loads funnier.

WHERE TO BUY: Indigo | Amazon Canada | Amazon.com


About Maddie Dawson:
Maddie Dawson grew up in the South, born into a family of outrageous storytellers. Her various careers as a substitute English teacher, department-store clerk, medical-records typist, waitress, cat sitter, wedding-invitation-company receptionist, nanny, day care worker, electrocardiogram technician, and Taco Bell taco maker were made bearable by thinking up stories as she worked. Today she lives in Guilford, Connecticut, with her husband. She’s the bestselling author of five previous novels: The Survivor’s Guide to Family Happiness, The Opposite of Maybe, The Stuff That Never Happened, Kissing Games of the World, and A Piece of Normal.

G   I   V   E   A   W   A   Y

The winner will receive 1 copy of Matchmaking for Beginners (HC) by Maddie Dawson!
Giveaway Details:
– Canada Only (full rules found in the T&C on Rafflecopter)
– Giveaway ends on July 13th at 11:59 pm EST
– Winner will be drawn randomly through Rafflecopter, contacted via email & will have 48 hours to claim their prize

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[746]: Saving my Assassin by Virginia Prodan

A gripping memoir of a woman’s staunch faith and unwavering quest to defend those prosecuted by Ceausescu’s brutal regime.


Saving my Assassin
by Virginia Prodan

The author grew up at a time when Romania was in the grips of a dictator named, Nicolae Ceaucescu. However, you need not to widen the scope of the kind of childhood she grew up in to know that she survived far more atrocities. Just witness the difficult homelife she endured in the hands of her ‘mother’, her siblings, and her sometimes indifferent, sometimes caring father. To this day, weeks after finishing this book, I still couldn’t comprehend the awful dynamics of her relationship with her mother. 

It was implied that she might’ve been an illegitimate child of her favourite aunt but I honestly can’t recall whether or not it was determined. In any case, I did not understand the kind of hold her mother had over her aunt. I did wonder, though if having an illegitimate child back then was a criminal act.

The title is very misleading. Perhaps it’s the romantic in me that had me believing that this book would be, in fact, about a love affair that started when an assassin was hired to kill off Virginia. The truth of the matter is, the assassin was introduced as a prologue and we don’t see him again until the end. The entirety of the novel was about Virginia’s childhood, adulthoood and how she came to be the defender of the faithful being prosecuted unjustly at the time of Nicolae Ceausescu’s tyrannical rule.

Virginia didn’t start off as a devout Christian. The evolution of her faith began when, little by little, her eyes were opened to the atrocities of what living in Romania was like. Especially when her people were being punished for their religious beliefs. As a child, she was incessantly curious. She hungered for truth which often got her in trouble. You’re supposed to be quiet if you’re a child. You’re not supposed to ask questions. Her naturally curious disposition had led her to nights of going to bed without meals and added chores as a child. As an adult, it’s what made her the crusader for the truth and justice.

It is odd to feel like someone’s life is a story full of plot holes, but that’s how I felt about Virginia’s book life. I wish I’d known for sure why she was thus hated by her mother, or if her aunt was in fact, her real mother. The assassin’s life also played very little significance to the book other than the beginning and what role she played in his life (which we didn’t witness, by the way).

I went into this book with the assumption that it was going to be a romance. I came out knowing the strength and courage of a woman who feared nothing, and one who only cared about truth, justice, and defending the unjustly aggrieved.

 

Hoarders, Books Edition: Episode 213


The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan | The Husband Hour by Jamie Brenner | The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo | The Familiar by Mark Z. Danielewski | White Fur by Jardine Libaire

Heyyyy.

Ugh. Work kicked my ass last week! I did not have a moment to spare and by the time I get home, all I wanted to do is to park my carcass in bed and get under the covers! I’m hoping things will be different this week. Weather is cooperating at least. We’ve been having sunshine and pretty sultry temperatures. Not great for my hair but I’ve been taking advantage and getting my steps in.

READ LAST WEEK

I loved Louise Bay’s books except for The Ruthless Gentleman. I didn’t see any ruthlessness from the character, to be frank. Heart Berries was an astounding novel. So fierce, fearless and powerful.

And with that, my Goodreads reading challenge deficit is now a surplus! I’m one book ahead of my goals which makes me so happy! I didn’t think I’ll get here but here we are.

Unfortunately, my reading plans didn’t pan out so well in the last couple of weeks so I don’t know what I’m going to read next. I’m still working on finishing the couple of books on my TBR (Blood Fury by JR Ward and The Break by Katherena Vermette). I just added another book to my reading queue as well – All the Little Lights by Jamie McGuire. I should just give in and download the audiobooks for the first two as I’m getting tired of seeing them on my pile.

Anywho, let me know how your week has been, peeps.

Happy reading.

xoxo

[745]: Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot

Georgeous prose, honest and candid. Heart Berries takes the reader on a chaotic journey through an Indigenous woman’s life wracked with obsessive love, maternal love, and mental illness.


Heart Berries
by Terese Marie Mailhot

This book is so profound in ways that I could not begin to translate into words. It’s a tiny book but the destruction that I’m left with is so complete. I don’t know what to do with all of it.

I’m terrified to admit that I found such a tender kinship with the author. I’ve felt it all. The obsessive love, the maternal love that sometimes, I thought I might just be going insane. The difference between us is the consciousness – our state of minds. She knows there’s something wrong with her mind. She takes medicines for it and even have been confined in a mental hospital for rehabitilation. While I, can’t sometimes grasp whether it’s the love I was feeling that was making me insane or am I already there?

In any case, this book had me gasping for breath sometimes. It’s so empathically real that the emotions she conveyed felt visceral. She’s so desperate for a man who may or may not love her but her feelings for him was a gushing faucet that can’t be turned off. Though she tried to – to no avail. She kept coming back to the scene of the crime knowing that the killer is still there and she’d be bludgeoned yet again. But she unabashedly embraced it all.

She writes about her relationship with her mother – who I found was as devoted as they come but yet difficult at times. The scars from being a victim of the residential school integration remains fresh in many native peoples to this day. Poverty, addiction, and broken families seem to be the lasting effect. Terese married young, bore her children young. Lost one child in a custody battle and desperately hung on to the other child despite all odds. To read her try to be a good mother to the one she lost during her supervised visits was heartbreaking. She tries her best as many mothers do.

Mailhot writes from the heart, and sometimes from her broken mind. The result is a heart-rending, fierce memoir that leaves a lasting effect long after you’ve reached the end.

 

 

Books from the Backlog [3]: For Darkness Shows The Stars

*Books from the Backlog is a regular feature over at Carole’s Random Life in Books.

This week, I’m featuring a book that came out in 2012. I knew I wanted to read it because it was marketed as a YA SciFi version of Jane Austen’s Persuasion – which is my absolute Jane Austen favourite. Captain Wentworth is infinitely hotter than Darcy, in my opinion. I have no idea why I never read this book but I’m so glad I saw it while scouring my basement bookshelves.

From Goodreads:

It’s been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot’s estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth–an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret–one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she’s lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion, For Darkness Shows the Starsis a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.

Have you read this?

 

[744]: Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka

A sparsely told tale of murder in the eyes of three dissimilar narrators.


Girl in Snow
by Danya Kukafka

Girl in Snow tells a detailed story of a murdered teen who didn’t lack for friends and enemies. Though the author didn’t necessarily focus on solving the case, per se. It was more an account of her life through the eyes of three unrelated narrators.

Unfortunately, I was wholly removed from the story. The writing lacked a certain quality that evokes empathy or enthusiasm to see through the ending. I’ve never read something like this before, where the main character is dead and the story backhandedly revolves around her but because the narrator isn’t her, it really wasn’t.

There are three narrators that are directly and indirectly related to Lucinda Hayes: there’s Cameron Whitely who had this obsession about her. He’d been caught stalking her a number of times and yet the author wouldn’t be so lazy as to pin the murder unto him. There’s the token girl who hated her very existence simply because they were friends before but since Lucinda belonged in the popular crowd, their friendship suffered until they could no longer stand each other’s presence. And then there’s the investigator solving the case. His only relation to Lucinda’s case was through Cameron. Officer Russ used to be Cameron’s father’s partner in the force until his involvement in a case led to his ruin.

In truth, I had a hard time unpacking this book. There were threads in the story that I struggle to unravel, leading to my disinterest in the story. The characters left me cold, and the writing, beautiful though as they may be, was just unattainably circuitous. The author offered a few red herrings, for sure. But because of the narrators’ respective stories, I got easily distracted and eventually lost interest.

Hoarders, Books Edition: Episode 212


Circe by Madeline Miller | Only Human by Syvail Neuvel | The Optimistic Decade by Heather Abel | Aftermath by Kelley Armstrong | Folded Notes from High School by Matt Doren | The Foreseeable Future by Emily Adrian | All the Little Lights by Jamie McGuire

Thanks to Penguin Random House Canada for my copies of Only Human & Aftermath. As well, to Ambur Hostyn of Thomas Allen & Sons Ltd. for my copies of All The Little Lights & The Optimistic Decade. Much love to Penguin Teen Canada for my copies of Folded Notes and The Foreseeable Future. 

Hello.

I hope you all had a fantastic weekend. We had our Victoria Day here in Canada so just getting off a three-day weekend. I had planned on catching up and doing some blog-hopping but that didn’t pan out. I also did a mini-readathon of sorts to finish the books I’d started from a while back. I managed to finish these two from my pile:

Heart Berries is a beautiful memoir about a Native American woman who struggled with mental illness while coping with her difficult relationships with her mom and the man with whom she couldn’t seem to cut ties. It’s at times funny, emotional, heartrending, and frustrating. I enjoyed this slight but equally powerful book.

How to Survive A Summer by Nick White was also incredibly moving. It’s about a conversion camp for teens and what the main character went through. It was a tough read, to say the least.

So for last week, I managed to read a total of four books in total. Hot Asset by Lauren Layne was a fun read but to be honest, I was more interested in finding out why Ian Bradley was being set up more than the romance. Overall, I liked it.

Seeing Red is a quintessential Sandra Brown so of course, I loved it.

On the Blog This Week

Reviews of Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka, Radio Silence by Alice Oseman, Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot.
Books from the Backlog featuring: For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund.

Currently Reading

I’m working on reading my review copies so from last week, so I still have Love & Luck and The Color of Bee Larkham’s Murder. But I might reinforce these reads with audiobooks. In the meantime, still working on finishing Blood Fury by JR Ward. It seems I’ve been reading this thing for years. Sigh.

I hope you’ll have a great week of reading, y’all.

 

At Home: Five Things About My Week


Hello.

How have your week been? Well, allergies are slowly going away. I’m still stuffed up but I don’t have nearly the same urge to gouge my eyes out in the last couple of days so it’s going great. My reading have slowed down just because I can’t keep my eyes open. A cold compress helped the itchiness a bit so I was able to sleep. It’s been a rough allergy season, I tell ya. Other than that, here’s how my week went:

Gave Up Coffee As My Pre-Workout.

I discovered AMRAP. It’s a preworkout supplement that helps me last longer during gruelling workouts. It’s carb-free and because it’s made with Stevia, it has natural sweeteners. I find that I’m not as sore as I usually am after a 3-classes session. So, hurray! I might be cured of my coffee addiction after all. Haha.

Reading: How to Survive A Summer by Nick White

…in A Gay Conversion Camp. There are no ghost stories around a campfire…or smores. What you’ll get is a dark, gritty tale of a son of a preacher man who was sent to this camp. The ghost story becomes his own horror story.

Watched Infinity War and Cried Within 5 Minutes of the Movie.

…because: (spoiler)LOKI.

Bye, Garmin. Hello, Fitbit

I was a FitBit girl to begin with but then I switched to Garmin only to realized Garmin is stingy with steps and calories. Steps – I don’t really mind but calories? During the last few months, I learned that if you’re not feeding or fueling your body enough, you are not going to lose weight. Weird, right? But what your body does actually when you’re restricting calorie intake is that your body goes into a survival mode wherein it hoardes all the fat in your body to sustain itself. According to Garmin, I was only burning 100-150 calories per half an hour session. When I switched to Fitbit, I’m burning up to 250 calories per half an hour session. I take at least 4 classes a day, so the calorie count makes a big difference. Hence, the change.

Hockey Playoffs are Killing My Mojo

Come on, Jets! I can’t believe we’re going to lose to a freshman team. We are better than this! Ugh. In a way, I hope they’ll put me out of my misery soon. So tired of these highs and lows.

What have you been up to this week?

COMMENTS ARE LIKE CUPCAKES. Nom. Nom.

[743]: The Thief by J.R. Ward

A disappointing installment that tried and failed to inspire a renewed fervor for the author’s favorite character.


The Thief
by JR Ward

I haven’t reached the point in which I’d say I’m over with this series – no matter how much I didn’t enjoy an installment. Well, maybe I came close as I read the first few chapters of the latest. Truthfully, I was looking forward to reading this because the Warden said it was about Assail and Sola. Their story was long overdue and I’d waited long enough. So I was ecstatic and have pined for this book for a year. But as we all know, Warden does not only dedicate a book solely on a pair of characters. She tends to fill the pages with stories of other characters as well.

Let’s get the ugliness out of the way first.

Vishous and Mary. It is with to my utter disappointment that the Warden sullied by initial admiration for this couple. In all honesty, I disliked Mary here and I hated Vishous with the passion of a thousand suns. I won’t get into the whys because it would be revealing too much of their part of the story. Let’s just say that Mary was painted as the victim of blame the victim scenario, and Vishous – well, he was not the man I loved in the past few books. He was insecure – far from the alpha male, take-charge vampire of the old and he was too selfish. Me, me, me. He blames Mary for the widening rift in their marriage because Mary was too busy being a doctor. Dude. What? Spare me the you-don’t-have-time-for-me-anymore bullshit. The worst part? And this is after his transgressions, Mary was only too willing to forgive and forget. Arrrggghhhhh.

Realistic, though as it was, seeing as every happily married couple goes through rough patches at one point in their blissful union, what Vishous did was an unforgivable sin. Call me insane, but he was one step away from the cliff. Regardless of whether or not he jumped is irrelevant. The truth of the matter is, there was planning involved. He’d thought of it and made it happen. So, screw you, V!

The good part.

Assail and Sola. We finally have their story and it was a good one. They are the sole saviors of this trainwreck. Assail is still under a coma from going cold turkey from his heroin addiction (or was it cocaine?). They were ready to pull the plug on him when his cousins intervened. They thought that if anybody could bring him back from the brink, it would be Sola. But she wasn’t so receptive to come back at first considering there was a price over her head. Needless to say, and miracles of miracles, he woke up as soon as Sola made her presence known. La di da, they’re reunited and their love blossoms.

The conflict in their story was that Sola didn’t know of Assail’s true nature. And because she comes from a staunch Catholic upbringing, vampires aren’t exactly God’s greatest creation. So he hid that fact for as long as he could until he couldn’t. At the same time, Sola’s enemies are gunning for her head.

Overall, I didn’t get off to a good start with this book. It was a placid installment as far as this series goes. Am I going to stop reading? Hell no. These characters have become a part of my life now that it would be as if I’m cutting ties with my best friends for no reason at all if I’d stop. In goodness and in bad, I’m in for the long haul.