Wednesday, March 2, 2016

WoW: The Two-Family House

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and it is a weekly feature where bloggers share what they are excited to read next. 

Summary from Goodreads:

Brooklyn, 1947: in the midst of a blizzard, in a two-family brownstone, two babies are born minutes apart to two women. They are sisters by marriage with an impenetrable bond forged before and during that dramatic night; but as the years progress, small cracks start to appear and their once deep friendship begins to unravel. No one knows why, and no one can stop it. One misguided choice; one moment of tragedy. Heartbreak wars with happiness and almost but not quite wins.

From debut novelist Lynda Cohen Loigman comes The Two-Family House, a moving family saga filled with heart, emotion, longing, love, and mystery.

I'm looking forward to reading this debut novel. I love a little family saga. It comes out March 8th, 2016.

What is your pick this week?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: If you're in the Mood for a Good Cry

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's edition is ten books to read if you are in the mood for X. I decided to pick some books that you should read if you need a good ugly cry. We are talking about books that will rip your heart out and stomp on it. These are books you read alone for fear of looking like this:

So without further ado here are my picks for top ten tearjerkers.

1. Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson- This book. Oh dear. I could not stop crying once it was done. Matson has a way with words. 

2. Hidden by Catherine McKenzie- McKenzie is a master storyteller and this book about the death of spouse with the question of infidelity is amazing. 

3. Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid- Another book with a deceased spouse. Amazing but please pass the Kleenex.

4. Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover- Have you ever read a Hoover book that doesn't make you cry? Let's be honest. 

5. Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares- This is the last book in the Travelling Pants series and it starts out with a bit of a bang. 

6. The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs- This book. I will not tell you what happens but imagine me sitting on a bus trying to keep it together. 

7. How to Say I Love you Out Loud by Karole Cozzo- This is a happy cry kind of book. It's touching not heartbreaking. That being said, the ugly cry will happen. 

8. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes- With the movie coming out you need to read this.

9. Anybody Out There by Marian Keyes- Another fave author and this book is one that you will remember for a long time. 

10. Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah- This author is known to crush a few hearts and this book is no exception. 

Happy Reading or should I say- crying?

Monday, February 29, 2016

Book Review: November 9 by Colleen Hoover

Publisher: Atria Books
Publishing Date: November 10th, 2015
Genre: Adult Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 310 pgs
ISBN: 9781501110344
Source: purchased at Chapters

Summary from Goodreads:
Beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover returns with an unforgettable love story between a writer and his unexpected muse.

Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, the day before her scheduled cross-country move. Their untimely attraction leads them to spend Fallon’s last day in L.A. together, and her eventful life becomes the creative inspiration Ben has always sought for his novel. Over time and amidst the various relationships and tribulations of their own separate lives, they continue to meet on the same date every year. Until one day Fallon becomes unsure if Ben has been telling her the truth or fabricating a perfect reality for the sake of the ultimate plot twist.

My Review:

Colleen Hoover is quickly making her way up my list of favourite authors. This is my third Hoover book and this one was just as great as the other two that I read. This just may be my favourite Hoover story. It is a story about Fallon and Ben. Fallon is slightly self conscious about the scarring she got during a house fire. She also has a tumultuous relationship with her father and one fateful day while sitting down to a particularly condescending tête à tête with said father, Ben just so happens to be in the same café. As he eavesdrops on the conversation, Ben decides to take matters into his own hands and inserts himself into conversation by pretending to be Fallon's boyfriend. As the day progresses it becomes clear that Fallon and Ben have some sort of chemistry. They decide to meet every day on November 9th at the same café for the next 5 years. The story takes place each year of November 9th. I've read One Day which has the same kind of idea and I wasn't completely sold on the idea but I loved it for this book. I loved seeing the changes in each character as the years pass. Sometimes they were frustrating to read, other times heartbreaking but at the same time they were always adorable. I devoured this book in a single day and I suspect that most of you will too. If you haven't read Colleen Hoover this is a good place to start and if you have but you haven't picked this one up yet, I ask you- Why not? Be warned, you will likely shed a tear or if you are more like I am you will ugly cry and your significant other may look at you like you have two heads. It's definitely worth it though.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Book Review: The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

Publisher: Crown
Publishing Date: November 3rd, 2015
Genre: Adult, Suspense
Pages: 64 pgs
ISBN: 9780804188975
Source: bought at Chapters

Summary from Goodreads:
A canny young woman is struggling to survive by perpetrating various levels of mostly harmless fraud. On a rainy April morning, she is reading auras at Spiritual Palms when Susan Burke walks in. A keen observer of human behavior, our unnamed narrator immediately diagnoses beautiful, rich Susan as an unhappy woman eager to give her lovely life a drama injection. However, when the "psychic" visits the eerie Victorian home that has been the source of Susan's terror and grief, she realizes she may not have to pretend to believe in ghosts anymore. Miles, Susan's teenage stepson, doesn't help matters with his disturbing manner and grisly imagination. The three are soon locked in a chilling battle to discover where the evil truly lurks and what, if anything, can be done to escape it.

My Review:

I don't typically read short stories and I also don't usually spend this much money on a book that is only 60-some pages but we are talking about Gillian Flynn. I have read everything written by this author and I will continue to do so. She is sick and twisted but only in the best of ways. 
Since this is a short story I don't want to extrapolate too much on plot points but I will say that most of the people in this story are not people you would want to hang out with. They aren't exactly lovable and the narrator is slightly unreliable. It's hard to pinpoint what exactly is going on for most of the story. This is what makes it so good. Even though it's only 60 pages it packs a good punch and it keeps you thinking and questioning. 
This book may not be everyone's cup of tea because it does discuss sex work and pretty creepy. If you like Gillian Flynn though then you will enjoy this book. I can't wait to see what else she will come up with. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

ARC Review: How To Say I Love You Out Loud by Karole Cozzo

Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publishing Date: August 4th, 2015
Genre: YA Contemporary
Pages: 240 pgs
ISBN: 9781250063595
Source: received at blogger meetup in exchange for an honest review

Summary from Goodreads:

When Jordyn Michaelson’s autistic brother joins her at her elite school, she’s determined not to let anyone know they're related. Even if that means closing herself off to all her closest friends, including charming football stud Alex Colby. But despite her best intentions, she just can't shake the memory of kissing Alex last summer, and the desire to do it again. Can Jordyn find the courage to tell Alex how she really feels—and the truth about her family—before he slips away forever?

My Review:

I had not heard much about this book before receiving it in a goody bag at the Ottawa blogger meet up last year. Swoon Reads is an imprint of MacMillan which takes submissions from people and then the general public can read these novels and pick which ones get published. It is an interactive way to get books into the hands of readers and into bookstores. When I read the premise of this book I knew I had to read it. The book is about Jordyn who is your typical teenage girl trying to muddle her way through high school. What no one really knows though is that she has a brother who is on the autism spectrum. Her brother goes to a special needs school and when his school is closed he must attend the same school as his sister for a short period of time. This is terrifying for Jordyn because she worries about what this means for her and the way people perceive her. 

Any book that has any character with a disability is a book that I will likely read. I spent many years working with children and adults with a variety of different disabilities. I have worked with people who exclusively have a physical disability and I have worked with people who have cognitive disabilities as well. I have spent countless hours working with children and teens who are on the autism spectrum as well. That being said, I was curious to see how they would portray this in this novel. It's not often that disability is portrayed in stories and when it is I often find myself shaking my head and thinking that this is not the reality of those living with disability. I think Cozzo does an amazing job of realistically writing about disability.  Cozzo doesn't try to sugarcoat things and she writes in such a raw and real way. 

Some people had a hard time understanding Jordyn's motives behind ignoring her brother at school and pretending like she didn't know him. She also doesn't allow any of her friends at her house and doesn't tell them that she has a brother. I have seen first hand what it's like for siblings in families where there is a child with special needs. Oftentimes depending on the severity of the disability, the child with a disability takes up so much of the family's energy that siblings can get lost in the shuffle. It seems to me like Jordyn wanted something for herself and didn't want her brother to overshadow her. While I can understand this it doesn't mean that I didn't find myself yelling at her. I wanted her to just tell the truth so that she didn't lose everything. 

This book is so heartwarming. The journey that Jordyn has to take to get to a point where she is comfortable with the idea of love and expressing that love. The love she has for her brother may not ever be the same as other people experience but at the same time it has taught her so much more about love. At the end of the book, I found myself bawling. My husband had to come in and ask me what was wrong with me. I just  kept uttering "That was so beautiful". Non-bookish people just don't get it. :) Overall, I quite enjoyed this book and would recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who likes YA and books about family dynamics. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Depression and Reading

Well, I'm sure you have noticed a long hiatus on the blog. It's not the first time it has happened and it probably won't be the last time. I have to admit that while I've spoken about my fertility problems on the blog I haven't much discussed the fact that I have depression. 

I was diagnosed in first year of university and I can remember not being motivated to go to class at all for an entire 2 months. I was given some medication without much discussion of alternative options and being naive I took the pills. They were horrible. I became an insomniac and I just didn't feel like myself. They helped me to get out of a funk but as soon as my refills were done I quit them cold turkey. I would not recommend this to anyone. I had side effects and withdrawal symptoms for at least a month. Since then I have tried to manage my depression with exercise, walking, and not staying cooped up in the house for too long. This summer I did a very good job of staving it off. I took the summer to do what I wanted to do or to do the things that I kept saying I would do during the summer while I was off. I hiked, went canoeing along the canal, went camping, did yoga and bootcamp at Parliament Hill and I took up running. Things were going incredibly well and my reading was on point. I was reading everything I could during the summer and I was listening to audiobooks as I walked. 

Then September hit and well my motivation became a little bit less little by little. My class this year is a bit more challenging than previous years and this made it difficult to manage stress. D and I also began our IVF (invitro fertilization) journey. We started a cycle and unfortunately it was cancelled before we even got to the egg retrieval process. Apparently my body is just as stubborn as I am and the drugs were not doing what they were supposed to be doing. I should say that IVF is our last chance at having children. We have been in limbo for far too long so we always said that we would try once and then move on with our life and try to be happy regardless of the outcome. It felt like we got cheated out of our attempt. We have since decided that we will try one more time. With all of this going on, I have been finding myself very unmotivated to do anything. This includes reading and blogging. I have contemplated quitting blogging altogether but every time I do I cringe because that would mean leaving something I ultimately enjoy doing and also leaving the community. I love being a part of the community. I love sharing what I love and talking about books and adding to my never ending TBR. 

I did have to sit down and make some decisions though. My TBR is slightly out of control. Yes, yes I know that we all have insane TBRs but when I say out of control I'd approximate I have no less than 800 books here on my shelves sitting unread. I have made the choice to read what I want to read. I will no longer be accepting ARCs unless it's something that I have wanted for a long time and that I can guarantee that I will read before the release date. I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to all publishers who still do not have reviews for the books they sent me. I just haven't been able to find the energy or motivation to read. I have been walking around like a zombie trying to pretend to be my normal self. I do promise that they will get read but they will get read and reviewed as I am able to do so. My focus for the next six months at least is to not bring many books into my home. I will not promise never to go to the bookstore and buy books because we all know this is slightly ridiculous for me but I will promise not to buy multiple books just because they look kind of interesting. I will be reading from my shelves and I want to see how many books I can cull this way. 

I also want to read what I feel like reading at the time. If it's a YA contemporary great. If it's an adult literary fiction novel, great. I will be reviewing what I read as much as possible. 

I am hoping that you my fellow readers will bare with me while I try to keep my depression at bay. It's frustrating for me but I must fight ahead and do what I can. Thank you for your continued support over Twitter and via comments. They mean more to me than you can know. 

Happy Reading! 

ARC Review: Smoke by Catherine McKenzie

Publisher: Lake Union
Publishing Date: October 20th, 2015
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Pages: 370 pgs
ISBN: 9781503945654
Source: Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review

Summary from Goodreads:
From the internationally bestselling author Catherine McKenzie comes an evocative tale of two women navigating the secrets and lies at the heart of a wildfire threatening their town.

After a decade-long career combating wildfires, Elizabeth has traded in for a quieter life with her husband. Now she works as the local arson investigator in a beautiful, quaint town in the Rockies. But that tranquil life vanishes when she and her husband agree to divorce, and when a fire started in nearby Cooper Basin begins to spread rapidly. For Elizabeth, containing a raging wildfire is easier than accepting that her marriage has failed.

For Elizabeth’s ex-friend Mindy, who feels disconnected from her husband and teenage children, the fire represents a chance to find a new purpose: helping a man who lost his home to the blaze. But her faith is shattered by a shocking accusation.

As the encroaching inferno threatens the town’s residents, Elizabeth and Mindy must discover what will be lost in the fire, and what will be saved. 

My Review:

I have loved every Catherine McKenzie book that I have read. She definitely doesn't follow a formula when it comes to her writing and each book is distinct in premise and cast of characters. When I was contacted to review this book I couldn't resist and I was not disappointed. Smoke takes place in a mountain community after a long dry summer. Unfortunately a huge forest fire takes hold and Elizabeth, a resident of the community, is called in to investigate the origin of the fire. The novel flips back and forth between two different perspectives. One being Elizabeth and the other being Mindy, Elizabeth's ex-best friend, who is dealing with her disconnected teenage son.
This story is part mystery and part family drama. We are trying to figure out who set the fire and how it came about but we are also drawn into Elizabeth's relationship with her husband. The two are trying to navigate through some tough times and essentially they are trying to determine whether they should get divorced or not. Some of this is due to fertility issues. I will admit that this is part of the reason I really liked this book. As someone going through fertility issues I can tell you that it puts a tremendous strain on your personal relationships. It also causes you to question many things about yourself and where you see yourself in the future. It is a case of expectations not matching reality and this can be emotionally exhausting. I think that McKenzie was able to fully convey this through her protagonist's thoughts and actions in this novel. I tip my hat off to the author because it's not a topic that is often tackled. In fact, I recently went through my bookstore trying to find novels that deal with this very topic and I find it extremely difficult to find anything. I went as far as searching on Goodreads for lists of novels about fertility issues. This did not bring back many options. It is treated like a dirty little secret and I applaud McKenzie for bringing light to this.
I enjoyed the characters in the book but at times I found myself less interested in what Mindy was doing. I wish that I had seen a little more of her relationship with her son. I wanted to get into his head more than I wanted to get into Mindy's head. Elizabeth was my favorite because I could relate to her and I understood her motives. I understood her trying to push her husband away by asking for a divorce (not a spoiler- this literally happens in the first few pages). I could understand trying to find a balance between her passion for fire fighting and her love of her family.
Overall, I thought this was a well written novel that was hard for me to read at times. It's definitely worth a read.