Goodnight Beautiful

By Aimee Molloy

Rating: 1 out of 5.
Recommend? unfortunately not
Buy or borrow? borrow

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Newlyweds Sam Statler and Annie Potter are head over heels, and excited to say good-bye to New York and start a life together in Sam’s sleepy hometown in upstate New York. Or, it turns out, a life where Annie spends most of her time alone while Sam, her therapist husband, works long hours in his downstairs office, tending to the egos of his (mostly female) clientele.

Little does Sam know that through a vent in his ceiling, every word of his sessions can be heard from the room upstairs. The pharmacist’s wife, contemplating a divorce. The well-known painter whose boyfriend doesn’t satisfy her in bed. Who could resist listening? Everything is fine until the French girl in the green mini Cooper shows up, and Sam decides to go to work and not come home, throwing a wrench into Sam and Annie’s happily ever after.

Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50175311-goodnight-beautiful?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=6uqudSdERs&rank=1

Review

I’m going to preface this review with the biggest of SPOILER ALERTS, because I honestly don’t think I can express how I feel about this book without mentioning what happens in it. So, take this as your warning to skip this review if you don’t want any spoilers.

Last chance!


Alright, here we go! As you can tell from my rating, I wasn’t a huge fan of this one. Let’s start with the synopsis – it was misleading. It says that “Sam decides to leave work on day and not come home”, but that’s not true? He literally gets hit with (I think) a shovel and is held captive. From the get-go the synopsis makes you think that Sam has an affair and leaves his wife. Now, I would understand if the author tried to make it seem like this as part of the plot, but the reader actually knows that he’s held captive so it’s just misleading and unnecessary!

It’s also mentioned in the synopsis that Annie, Sam’s wife, spends most of her time alone while Same is at work. Again, this just isn’t true. Annie is a professor, who leaves the house, and spends the majority of her time at work, just like Sam. At least this idea was built into the story, as the author leads you to believe that it’s Annie listening in on Sam’s session with his clients. However, it’s misleading to say that this is what the book is about.

Let’s move on to Sam and his WILD lack of self-control the money he doesn’t yet have, and will inevitably never receive. In one sense, it seems reasonable that he would be excited to have a big chunk of change coming in, but a chair that costs thousands of dollars? And the sheer number of credit cards he has seems unrealistic.

Speaking of Sam, why the consistent mention of his sex life? To a certain extent it was used to make it seem as though he left town with “the French girl in the green mini cooper”, but my goodness there was CONSTANT mention of his sex life. Why……

One of the biggest issues I had with the book was the “twist”. Eventually we find out that Sam’s new office ins’t in the basement of his own house, but that of a man named Albert who recently moved to town. Albert has been the one listening in on Sam’s sessions, making cocktails for happy hour every night, and ultimately the person who hits (accidentally? it’s unclear) Sam over the head and keeps him in a room upstairs. Now, this may not seem so bad, EXCEPT that what follows is essentially the plot of Misery by Stephen King – albeit a more tame version. Albert tells Sam that his legs are broken and that he is there to take care of him, gives him pain medication, and acts as his nurse. My primary question surrounding Albert’s obsession with Sam is why? There isn’t a single point in the book where that’s answered. It’s clear that Albert has personal conflict and feelings he needs to confront, so did he want Sam’s help with that? I have no clue.

On top of not knowing why Albert wants to be around Sam so often, there were SO many other loose ends. Why was Annie never a suspect in Sam’s disappearance? The investigation was actually laughable and you would think that the police would questions his family more closely, it seemed very unrealistic. When did Albert take the sleeping pills that lead to his death? One second he’s standing in the doorway and the next he’s on the ground? We find out where we got them from (they belonged to Sam’s mom), but it all seemed vague and rushed. Maybe it was meant to come across that way, but I find that it just lead to more confusion.

All in all I finished the book for my book club, and it was a quick read, but I did not enjoy the writing or the plot at all. The three parts of the book felt like three entirely different stories, and I don’t like that the plot of Misery created a large part of the plot of this.

If you’ve read this (and especially if you enjoyed it), I’d LOVE to hear from you. I have so many more questions and thoughts!

The Life and Deaths of Frankie D. — Blog Tour

By Colleen Nelson

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Recommend? yes!
Buy or borrow? buy!

“‘I had people in my life who cared about me. And my skin — well, in an unexpected way, my skin had saved my life. I was healing.”

Colleen Nelson – The Life and Deaths of Frankie D.

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Could a hundred-year-old circus sideshow be the key to Frankie’s mysterious past?

Seventeen-year old Frankie doesn’t trust easily. Not others, and not even herself. Found in an alley when she was a child, she has no memory of who she is, or why she was left there. Recurring dreams about a hundred-year-old carnival sideshow, a performer known as Alligator Girl, and a man named Monsieur Duval have an eerie familiarity to them.

Frankie gets drawn deeper into Alligator Girl’s world, and the secrets that kept the performers bound together. But a startling encounter with Monsieur Duval when she’s awake makes Frankie wonder what’s real and what’s in her head.

As Frankie’s and Alligator Girl’s stories unfold, Frankie’s life takes a sharp twist. Are the dreams her way of working through her trauma, or is there a more sinister plan at work? And if there is, does she have the strength to fight it?

Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54460435-the-life-and-deaths-of-frankie-d?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=7Ljn4xO3FG&rank=1

Review

First and foremost, I would like to give a huge thank you Dundurn Press for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. Spoiler for the review you’re about to read — I really enjoyed it!

Where do I begin? This story was about so much more than a circus (although I really liked the setting), at the root it’s a story about family and belonging. The relationships and situations of the past involving the chosen family of the circus members help Frannie through her own journey of belonging and self-discovery.

I think there’s something about Frannie’s character that is relatable for everyone out there, regardless of whether you’re a teenager or have surpassed your teenage years. She struggles with insecurity and judgement surrounding her skin, — her situation, a skin condition called ichthyosis vulgaris — the way she chooses to cover it, and all other trials and tribulations that come with being a teenager. With the help and guidance from her foster mom, an unlikely new-found friend, Jessica, and other important figures, Frannie comes to see that the world isn’t such an awful place, and that there are people who genuinely care for her.

One of my favourite relationships is the one between Frannie and her foster mom. Frannie makes it pretty clear that she hasn’t had an ideal childhood in terms of her living situations, as she’s been in her fair share of foster homes. The bond that she has with Kris is truly something special and it warmed my heart so much to see them navigate the world together.

I will say, learning about Monsieur Duval, Alligator girl, and the rest of the circus crew through the lens of Frannie’s dreams was really cool! I had absolutely no idea how or why it was happening, so when I was genuinely surprised. I had no idea how everything would wrap up in the end — I LOVE when I can’t figure it out — and I must say, I think it was done very, very, well. I also liked that the links between Egyptian mythology and everything that happened to the circus members.

Another thing that I really liked was that the author tackled some pretty heavy issues — assault, consent, foster care system — in, what I thought, an amazing way. Jessica and Frannie even begin to understand one another, because although they don’t necessarily have shared experiences, they are both battling with their own trauma, which they help one another through. I seriously love the friendship between the two of them, in case you can’t tell!

Overall, I really enjoyed the story, I do however wish that we knew a little more about some of the other members of the circus show. There’s so much more I could say, but I would probably start spoiling the book for you all, so if I haven’t caught your attention yet, I’ll leave you with this: there’s a little magic, a little mythology, and a lot of familial themes, it’s the perfect combination!

This book is now out into the world, I definitely suggest you snag a copy — and bonus, the author is Canadian!


BLOG TOUR

Be sure to check out some more thoughts and reviews on Frankie D. from the other amazing Book Bloggers who took part in this tour!

Gutter Child

By Jael Richardson

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Recommend? yes!
Buy or borrow? buy!

“‘Mainland Guard Kept Out: Gutter Descends in Chaos,’ the papers read, as though no one cares about how the chaos really began or the prospect of stopping it by giving Gutter folks what we want and deserve: freedom instead of scars at birth.”

Jael Richardson – Gutter Child

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Set in an imagined world in which the most vulnerable are forced to buy their freedom by working off their debt to society, Gutter Child uncovers a nation divided into the privileged Mainland and the policed Gutter. In this world, Elimina Dubois is one of only 100 babies taken from the Gutter and raised in the land of opportunity as part of a social experiment led by the Mainland government.

But when her Mainland mother dies, Elimina finds herself all alone, a teenager forced into an unfamiliar life of servitude, unsure of who she is and where she belongs. Elimina is sent to an academy with new rules and expectations where she befriends Gutter children who are making their own way through the Gutter System in whatever ways they know how. When Elimina’s life takes another unexpected turn, she will discover that what she needs more than anything may not be the freedom she longs for after all.

Richardson’s Gutter Child reveals one young woman’s journey through a fractured world of heartbreaking disadvantages and shocking injustices. Elimina is a modern heroine in an altered but all too recognizable reality who must find the strength within herself to forge her future and defy a system that tries to shape her destiny.

Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41256453-gutter-child?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=NXAFsq4Gp8&rank=1

Review

When I finished Gutter Child, I spent the better part of a week sitting with my thoughts, thinking about the best way to articulate how I feel. To be honest, I’m not sure I can fully articulate just how wonderful this piece of work is.  

We navigate the world with Elimina following the death of her Mainland mother. Not once did she expect to have to encounter or experience what happens following the passing. Elimina is put in a situation where she learns about her family’s past and the unjust system and circumstances surrounding the Gutter, her home. Although she feels as though she has no emotional ties to the Gutter, the X on Elimina’s hand says otherwise.

Imagine being born into this world with a debt that is required to be worked off for your freedom. Imagine having to work endlessly for your ability to leave a place that was created to segregate you and anyone that looks like you. Imagine a place that where you’re hardly provided with the bare minimum to survive, let alone thrive. This is the life of those who are from the Gutter.

Despite it being dystopian, there are astounding parallels between the life and circumstances that those from the Gutter are born into, as well as the history and current life on the Mainland, and situations surrounding injustice and inequality in our world.

Immediately after I finished the book (I’m not kidding, that same night), I attended a virtual talk with Jael – alongside with Amanda Leduc, author of The Centaur’s Wife – with HarperCollins Canada. Interestingly enough, Jael mentioned that she didn’t use the words race or racism throughout the novel. When she said that I was taken back a little, because I hadn’t noticed it! I think that it just goes to show how akin and comparable to story is to our world. Needless to say, listening to this talk only enhanced my adoration and love for both Jael and this brilliant piece of work.

Overall, the writing is beautiful, and the characters will definitely pull at your heartstrings, I wish I could reach in and comfort each and every character. It’s definitely a heavy read, and the author mentions at the beginning of the book to take your time with it if needed and I 100% agree. 

I truly cannot stop thinking about this book, the characters, and the uncanny resemblance to the real world that we live in. I will never not recommend this one, so I highly, highly suggest and urge you to pick this one up. Buy it, borrow it, do whatever you need to do. It’s already found its place among my favourite books.

Frying Plantain

By Zalika Reid-Benta

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Recommend? yes!
Buy or borrow? buy!

“Last time she visited the neighbourhood, boys spotted a patch of pink lace and followed her for a block and a half. The attention was a twisted phenomenon. “

Zalika Reid-Benta – Frying Plantain

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Kara Davis is a girl caught in the middle — of her Canadian nationality and her desire to be a “true” Jamaican, of her mother and grandmother’s rages and life lessons, of having to avoid being thought of as too “faas” or too “quiet” or too “bold” or too “soft.” Set in “Little Jamaica,” Toronto’s Eglinton West neighbourhood, Kara moves from girlhood to the threshold of adulthood, from elementary school to high school graduation, in these twelve interconnected stories. We see her on a visit to Jamaica, startled by the sight of a severed pig’s head in her great aunt’s freezer; in junior high, the victim of a devastating prank by her closest friends; and as a teenager in and out of her grandmother’s house, trying to cope with the ongoing battles between her unyielding grandparents.

A rich and unforgettable portrait of growing up between worlds, Frying Plantain shows how, in one charged moment, friendship and love can turn to enmity and hate, well-meaning protection can become control, and teasing play can turn to something much darker. In her brilliantly incisive debut, Zalika Reid-Benta artfully depicts the tensions between mothers and daughters, second-generation Canadians and first-generation cultural expectations, and Black identity and predominately white society.

Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42448151-frying-plantain?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=IGhuQiZU84&rank=1

Review

Here’s the full quote from above:

“Last time she visited the neighbourhood, boys spotted a patch of pink lace and followed her for a block and a half. The attention was a twisted phenomenon. Boys ignored the skinny girls: no breasts, no real ass, nothing to bark at. But still they followed her, laughing and catcalling: Damn girl, can I getta piece o’dat? With each step she’d taken she prayed that they’d leave her alone, but was pleased to have a discomfort to report to her friends. According to them, this was what it was to be a woman.” 

Zalika Reid-Benta – Frying Plantain

I had been meaning to read Frying Plantain for a little while now and to be honest, I’m upset that I didn’t read it sooner! I have so many passages highlighted 

The stories primarily follow Kara from her childhood through to her attending university. Throughout the book she tries to find the balance in hanging onto her Jamaican roots while growing up in Canada.

I love that it’s written as interconnecting short stories. I love that it takes place in Toronto (and very, very briefly Brampton, although it’s just at a house, but I had to throw that one in there because it’s my hometown!). I love that it largely follows the relationships between mothers and daughters.

I haven’t read a lot of short story collections before, especially not ones that interconnect like this. I must say, I really enjoyed the format, I feel like a good amount of time was spent on each part of Kara’s life. The only things is that I feel like the ending was a little bit rushed, and I would have loved to see more of how Kara navigated adulthood.

Overall, I HIGHLY recommend!

The Forgotten Home Child

By Genevieve Graham

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Recommend? yes!
Buy or borrow? buy!

“I wanted you to know that you weren’t alone all that time. There were so many others.”

Genevieve Graham – The Forgotten Home Child

Synopsis (Goodreads)

2018

At ninety-seven years old, Winnifred Ellis knows she doesn’t have much time left, and it is almost a relief to realize that once she is gone, the truth about her shameful past will die with her. But when her great-grandson Jamie, the spitting image of her dear late husband, asks about his family tree, Winnifred can’t lie any longer, even if it means breaking a promise she made so long ago…

1936

Fifteen-year-old Winny has never known a real home. After running away from an abusive stepfather, she falls in with Mary, Jack, and their ragtag group of friends roaming the streets of Liverpool. When the children are caught stealing food, Winny and Mary are left in Dr. Barnardo’s Barkingside Home for Girls, a local home for orphans and forgotten children found in the city’s slums. At Barkingside, Winny learns she will soon join other boys and girls in a faraway place called Canada, where families and better lives await them.

But Winny’s hopes are dashed when she is separated from her friends and sent to live with a family that has no use for another daughter. Instead, they have paid for an indentured servant to work on their farm. Faced with this harsh new reality, Winny clings to the belief that she will someday find her friends again.

Inspired by true events, The Forgotten Home Child is a moving and heartbreaking novel about place, belonging, and family—the one we make for ourselves and its enduring power to draw us home. 

Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52901474-the-forgotten-home-child?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=ryZFu6VazF&rank=1

Buy on Amazon: https://amzn.to/32tC2Du

Review

Here’s the full quote from above:

“I wanted you to know that you weren’t alone all that time. There were so many others. And I wanted you to know that there are people living today who care about what happened, and who are paying tribute to what you all went through as well as they can. There’s even an official National British Home Child Day here in Canada, declared by the government. It’s on September twenty-eighth.”

Genevieve Graham – The Forgotten Home Child

Wow, this book was amazing. I felt like I was living alongside Winny, Jack, Mary, Edward, and Cecil throughout the entire story. The writing is beautiful, and the story is equally sad and hopeful. It’s become an instant favourite, I just flew through it!

There’s so much within these pages that I didn’t know about. I had no idea that British children were sent here to Canada (and other countries) between 1869-1948 or that majority of the time they were treated so poorly or that there’s an official day in recognition of these children???

I went on a deep dive (as much as I could, as there still isn’t much information out there) right after finishing and I’m so sad that this isn’t something we’re taught here! Approximately 12% of Canada’s population (if not more) are descendants of a Home Child, and a lot of the time they may be completely unaware!

This book took my heart, tore it into pieces, and then glued it back together. Definitely pick it up when you get the chance 💕

Summer Darlings

By Brooke Lea Foster

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Recommend? yes!
Buy or borrow? either or!

Look, not having a father, not having the kind of family you wanted, is one thing that happened to you. You shouldn’t let it define you that way. I never did.”

Brooke Lea Foster – Summer Darlings

Synopsis (Goodreads)

In 1962, coed Heddy Winsome leaves her hardscrabble Irish Brooklyn neighborhood behind and ferries to glamorous Martha’s Vineyard to nanny for one of the wealthiest families on the island. But as she grows enamored with the alluring and seemingly perfect young couple and chases after their two mischievous children, Heddy discovers that her academic scholarship at Wellesley has been revoked, putting her entire future at risk.

Determined to find her place in the couple’s wealthy social circles, Heddy nurtures a romance with the hip surfer down the beach while wondering if the better man for her might be a quiet, studious college boy instead. But no one she meets on the summer island—socialite, starlet, or housekeeper—is as picture-perfect as they seem, and she quickly learns that the right last name and a house in a tony zip code may guarantee privilege, but that rarely equals happiness.

Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49819459-summer-darlings?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=IWtDEckz8y&rank=1

Buy on Amazon: https://amzn.to/32EJmOg

Review

Let’s set the scene. Summer 1962, Martha’s Vineyard, very wealthy family, a movie star, glitz and glam! This book has all the ingredients for an intriguing summer read! 

Heddy moves to Martha’s Vineyard for the summer to work as a nanny for a wealthy family, trying to save up enough money to complete her final year of school. The summer is filled with new faces, new scandals, an unlikely friendship between Heddy and movie star Gigi, and two possible love interests. 

I enjoyed this book, but it seemed to be a little slow at times and it felt as though there wasn’t much happening. The ending also seemed like it didn’t fit? Maybe I didn’t catch some of the clues leading up to it, but it felt like everything drastically shifted. The events in the last 50 pages didn’t seem to match the characters personalities that was presented throughout the book.

I did however, love how Gigi took Heddy under her wing a little – the quote above is from her! And how it the writing made you feel like you were there, in the 60’s (or what I assume the 60’s felt like 😂).

The friendship between Heddy and Grace was beautiful. I love that they were able to support one another over the course of the summer.

If you’ve read this, let’s chat!! I need to talk to someone about that ending, I have so many questions!!!

Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood

By Trevor Noah

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Recommend? yes!
Buy or borrow? buy

“As a kid I understood that people were different colors, but in my head white and black and brown were like types of chocolate. Dad was the white chocolate, mom was the dark, and I was the milk chocolate. “

Trevor Noah – Born a Crime

Synopsis (Goodreads)

The memoir of one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

Link: goodreads.com/book/show/38357345-my-favorite-half-night-stand?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=jpfmeglojZ&rank=1

Buy on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2WFbz41

Review

Here’s the full quote from above:

“As a kid I understood that people were different colors, but in my head white and black and brown were like types of chocolate. Dad was the white chocolate, mom was the dark, and I was the milk chocolate. But we were all just chocolate. I didn’t know any of it had anything to do with “race”. I didn’t know what race was. My mother never referred to my dad as white or me as mixed. So when the other kids in Soweto called me “white”, even though I was light brown, I just thought they had their colors mixed up, like they hadn’t learned them properly. “Ah, yes, my friend. You’ve confused aqua with turquoise. I can see how you made that mistake, You’re not the first.” ✨

Trevor Noah – Born a Crime

This quote is one of my favourites (among the dozen more that I flagged ), because I feel such a personal connection to it being mixed (White and Black). Growing up, I was aware that I was not fully White and that I wasn’t fully Black, but it was never something that had an immense of conversation surrounding. I just saw myself as the milk chocolate. It was only as I got older, and my peers at school would point it out and try to pull me in one direction or the other that I gave it some thought and felt like I was in this kind of limbo.

As I was reading, I would turn to my boyfriend to tell him about something I’d read, and at one point he said “I was going to read that when you’re done, but you’re telling me the entire book (😂), I’m happy that you’re able to connect with parts of it though”. 

I learned a lot while reading this. I had heard of apartheid and knew that it was a system of racial segregation, but I honestly didn’t know all that much about the specifics. Needless to say, I expanded my knowledge on it, through the lens of someone who personally experienced it.

Besides the incredibly meaningful parts of this book, there are some hilarious stories that I literally stopped and cry-laughed at for an unreasonable amount of time 😂

Even though Trevor’s upbringing and experiences are wildly different than mine, there were a ton of things I was able to relate to, and I honestly think that everyone who reads this would feel the same. There are a ton of important topics that are touched upon, and spoken about in a wonderful manner. I loved it so much 💕

My Favorite Half-Night Stand

By Christina Lauren

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Recommend? yes!
Buy or borrow? buy

“Here tit is.”

Christina Lauren -My Favorite Half-Night Stand

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Millie Morris has always been one of the guys. A UC Santa Barbara professor, she’s a female-serial-killer expert who’s quick with a deflection joke and terrible at getting personal. And she, just like her four best guy friends and fellow professors, is perma-single.

So when a routine university function turns into a black tie gala, Mille and her circle make a pact that they’ll join an online dating service to find plus-ones for the event. There’s only one hitch: after making the pact, Millie and one of the guys, Reid Campbell, secretly spend the sexiest half-night of their lives together, but mutually decide the friendship would be better off strictly platonic.

But online dating isn’t for the faint of heart. While the guys are inundated with quality matches and potential dates, Millie’s first profile attempt garners nothing but dick pics and creepers. Enter “Catherine”—Millie’s fictional profile persona, in whose make-believe shoes she can be more vulnerable than she’s ever been in person. Soon “Catherine” and Reid strike up a digital pen-pal-ship…but Millie can’t resist temptation in real life, either. Soon, Millie will have to face her worst fear—intimacy—or risk losing her best friend, forever.

Link: goodreads.com/book/show/38357345-my-favorite-half-night-stand?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=jpfmeglojZ&rank=1

Buy on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2WI0jDX

Review

Honestly, there are better and more meaningful quotes from this book but this one was so hilarious. I literally make typos all the time when I’m messaging friends and this is one is pretty up there for me 😂 

It’s so bad that one of my friends has a catalogue of “Gabrielle typos” that she’s keeping for a rainy day. Sometimes, I’ll type something that is so poorly misspelled and catch myself, thinking that I’m ahead of the game. My friends either catch it first or they just know what I’m trying to say because they’re used to my tragic display of spelling.

Anyways, enough about my spelling woes. Full disclosure, this was my first Christina Lauren book. I know, I know, I see them all over the place and somehow it took me this long to pick one up! And I LOVED it! It was just what I needed as something light and fun to read in the middle of some pretty heavy stuff. 

I love that the characters were all in academia (since I am too!) and worked at a university. It was oddly comforting reading about them doing their research or seeing the term postdoc. I laughed much longer than I should have when they were joking about how to get fired from a tenure position and proceeded to tell both my boyfriend and friend who are both also in grad school. 

I don’t usually gravitate towards romance books, although I do enjoy the ones I’ve read, but this one really got me. I loved the friends-to-lovers trope and couldn’t get enough of i. I’m about to go grab all the Christina Lauren books! 

Feel free to share your favourite romance books with me! I’m officially in the market for some new ones!

Jane Eyre

By Charlotte Brontë

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Recommend? yes!
Buy or borrow? buy!

Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel…..It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.”

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Orphaned as a child, Jane has felt an outcast her whole young life. Her courage is tested once again when she arrives at Thornfield Hall, where she has been hired by the brooding, proud Edward Rochester to care for his ward Adèle. Jane finds herself drawn to his troubled yet kind spirit. She falls in love. Hard.

But there is a terrifying secret inside the gloomy, forbidding Thornfield Hall. Is Rochester hiding from Jane? Will Jane be left heartbroken and exiled once again?

Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10210.Jane_Eyre?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=TkwZQ77rnO&rank=1

Buy on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3eR56Jb

Review

I was a little hesitant going into Jane Eyre, mainly because it’s very long and classics can sometimes drag on a little. BUT I ended up really enjoying it! Jane is such an incredible character, she’s strong, pushes the boundaries, and consistently goes after what she wants despite her past and less than ideal childhood.

I really enjoyed the first third of the book, when Jane is at Lowood. I feel like she really found herself within those walls and realized that not everyone thinks the way that she does. It’s the first time that you see how strong Jane is, even as a young girl. Jane’s friendship with Helen at Lowood plays a large part in shaping Jane’s character. Jane comes to realize that she can never be like Helen, because she won’t roll over and accept unjust punishments, whereas Helen keeps her head down and does what she is told.

I have some feelings (some meh feelings) about Mr. Rochester. Mainly that I think he’s pretty awful, if I’m being honest. I went into this book thinking that I was going to adore his character because of everything I’ve heard about previously, but he’s not very nice! Despite the relationship between him and Jane and Jane’s feelings for him, she continues to do whatever it is that she wants. And that I really, really like!

AND the way Jane thinks (and acts) about how women and men are equal (claps), such an amazing message to shine through in a book of its time! Here’s the full quote from above:

“ Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë

I think this quote really sums up Jane’s character, beliefs, and personality.

All that to say, I loved the book, although the ending was not my cup of tea at all, so a solid 4.5⭐️

As a side note, this is the first book I’ve read for #2020RGchallenge (a book with a school setting) over on bookstagram thanks to #JanewithSam 💕 Check it out if you like all things Gilmore Girls and books!

What’s your favourite classic? This is very close to how my I loved the Bell Jar!

The Henna Artist

By Alka Joshi

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Recommend? yes!
Buy or borrow? buy!

A thousand miles from the tiny village where I’d started, I was finally home.

Alka Joshi – The Henna Artist

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Escaping from an abusive marriage, seventeen-year-old Lakshmi makes her way alone to the vibrant 1950s pink city of Jaipur. There she becomes the most highly requested henna artist—and confidante—to the wealthy women of the upper class. But trusted with the secrets of the wealthy, she can never reveal her own…

Known for her original designs and sage advice, Lakshmi must tread carefully to avoid the jealous gossips who could ruin her reputation and her livelihood. As she pursues her dream of an independent life, she is startled one day when she is confronted by her husband, who has tracked her down these many years later with a high-spirited young girl in tow—a sister Lakshmi never knew she had. Suddenly the caution that she has carefully cultivated as protection is threatened. Still she perseveres, applying her talents and lifting up those that surround her as she does.

Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41014401-the-henna-artist?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=ReuLSnwAf7&rank=1

Buy on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2CwF5C2

Review

You know when people say that books are a form of travel without leaving the comfort of your own home? The Henna Artist encompasses that feeling so well, as you read you travel to 1950’s India. The author did an amazing job of submersing you in the culture and social setting. From the difficulties individuals faced due to their caste to the ideals surrounding pregnancy, to the descriptions of food —- I could almost taste the food and see the sights described in the book. The writing is truly incredible.

As we follow Lakshmi through her journey to create a better life for herself and find a sense of peace with deciding to take a new path, you learn about the work and passion that goes into creating these beautifully intricate henna designs. Not only is, Lakshmi incredibly strong, but she literally built her business from the ground up, in hopes that eventually she would have the means bulid her dream house and have her parents come live with her.

The way that Lakshmi and Radha begin to foster a relationship is both beautiful and complex. How do you jump into a relationship with a sister you didn’t know you had? You definitely feel as though you’re there, going through the ups and downs of new-found sisterhood with them.

I could go on and on about how much I love Lakshmi as a character, but a piece of my heart was stolen by Malik! There’s something about him that just makes you smile and you want to get to know more about him.

Overall, this book rooted in culture and independence, and my heart was so happy by the end of it. I highly recommend picking it up!

Zoom call with Alka Joshi!

Back in March I was supposed to attend an event hosted by HarperCollins in Ottawa with Alka Joshi and Joanna Goodman (the author of The Home for Unwanted Girls). Unfortunately, due to COVID closures, the event was cancelled. I was supposed to get a copy of the book at the event, and with book stores having been closed I didn’t get around to actually grabbing a copy.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when stores were beginning to open again here. I was talking to my friend and told her that I had almost bought the book, and she said “well good thing you didn’t because I saw it at the store today and I bought us both copies”. Needless to say, I was PUMPED to finally get my hands on the book!

So, I made a bookstagram post about this very story, explaining how happy I was to finally have the book and another bookstagrammer commented saying that her bookclub the #🇨🇦bookenablers is reading the book this month. AND wait for it………they have a Zoom call planned with Alka Joshi that I could join in on if I wanted to! I kid you not, I cried from excitement, knowing that I was FINALLY going to get to speak with and listen to this amazing woman.

We spent the call asking questions about the book, Alka’s writing process, her life, and how she ended up being a pick for Reese Witherspoon’s book club! I haven’t had the opportunity to interact with authors like this before, and it was truly a phenomenal experience. Alka is an amazing woman and I can’t wait to read her future work!