Review: My Life on the Road - Gloria Steinem

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“If you travel long enough, every story becomes a novel.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Non-Fiction, Feminism, Memoir, Biography

Reading Challenge: 8 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis —

Gloria Steinem—writer, activist, organizer, and one of the most inspiring leaders in the world—now tells a story she has never told before, a candid account of how her early years led her to live an on-the-road kind of life, traveling, listening to people, learning, and creating change. She reveals the story of her own growth in tandem with the growth of an ongoing movement for equality. This is the story at the heart of My Life on the Road.

My Thoughts —

Last term, I took a Women’s History course in uni which focused on the women’s social movements in North America from the late 19th century to the early 21st century. The content of the course got me really into feminism. I mean, I was already a feminist prior to, but it sort of ignited in me a desire to learn more about the efforts of women in these movements. So I have set myself on a mission to read more books - fiction and non-fiction - by female authors, about female stories.

My Life on the Road is a book that I’ve wanted to read for a while, but didn’t really know much about. I just knew that a) it was apparently a great book, and b) Gloria Steinem was a feminist. Now that I’ve actually read the book, I’ve looked into Gloria Steinem more and am completely blown away with all the activism she has done for the majority of her life. She has spoken up on a ton of issues pertaining to women and equality, and has advocated for women’s control over their own bodies. Truly, she’s inspirational.

I was completely in awe of Gloria’s stories. This is a woman who has literally lived on the road. She has seen so much, experienced things that most people never will. And most of what she has seen was in most American’s backyard - they just haven’t bothered to look for it. I think one of the main messages I took from this book was that there is a whole world out there. There’s so much to see and do and, most importantly, there’s people living lives we could never fathom. We need to seek these things out. Spending our whole lives in a tiny, isolated corner of the world isn’t living at all.

Have you read Gloria Steinem’s book? What were your thoughts?

Felicia x

Review: Emma - Jane Austen

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“I may have lost my heart, but not my self-control.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Classics, Fiction, Romance

Reading Challenge: 7 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis —

‘I wonder what will become of her!’

So speculate the friends and neighbours of Emma Woodhouse, the lovely, lively, wilful, and fallible heroine of Jane Austen's fourth published novel. Confident that she knows best, Emma schemes to find a suitable husband for her pliant friend Harriet, only to discover that she understands the feelings of others as little as she does her own heart. As Emma puzzles and blunders her way through the mysteries of her social world, Austen evokes for her readers a cast of unforgettable characters and a detailed portrait of a small town undergoing historical transition. 

My Thoughts —

This was the final Jane Austen novel that I read for my third year Austen course in uni last term. As I had literally a million things to do by the time my exam rolled around, I never got to finish reading Emma before the exam and left something like 50 pages for myself to read after I came back from winter break. (In case you’re wondering, I did well on the final!). Well, procrastination at its finest, I didn’t get around to finishing this until mid-February.

Emma is easily one of my favourite Austen novels, now that I’ve gone and read them all (but Persuasion). I really hadn’t heard much about Emma before, as it's not one of the more talked-about Austen novels, at least not in the way of Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility. It’s sort of underrated in that regard. I found it to be wonderful.

Emma is an unlikeable character in a few ways. She’s petty, naive, and extremely selfish. She tries to control situations so that they benefit her, which is clear through her convincing her best friend not to marry a man she so obviously is attracted to because Emma looks down upon his social-standing. But I think beneath it all, she does have a good heart and good intentions as well. Throughout the novel, she does the necessary learning to grow as a person which I think is incredibly important. And honestly, it makes for a better story.

In terms of the story itself, I think this is such a perfect example of Jane Austen’s wit. I love the humour in this novel!!!! I find that some of her novels, like Northanger Abbey, don’t really hit the mark for the wit that she’s known for - and that made me love her writing. This one, however, is so clever and just downright funny. Never in a million years would I have thought I’d be saying I was giggling while reading a book that was written in the 1800s haha. But, here we are!

In case anyone’s curious, my ranking of the Austen novels (excluding Persuasion) is as follows:

1. Pride and Prejudice

2. Sense and Sensibility/Emma

3. Northanger Abbey

4. Mansfield Park

What do you think about Emma? In your opinion, is it one of Austen’s best novels?

Felicia x

Review: The Royal We - Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan

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“I fell in love with a person, not a prince; the rest is just circumstance.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Romance, Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Contemporary

Reading Challenge: 6 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis —

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

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

Which is how she gets into trouble.

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

My Thoughts —

Warning: prepare yourselves for what might be my longest review yet!

If you know me, you know I’m massively into the British royal family. Or any royal family, for that matter. It’s not that I feel some intense loyalty to the royals, although I do think that as a Canadian, you sort of have an inherent respect for the monarch anyway. No, I just find monarchical rule utterly fascinating, especially now in the 2010s. It’s all so glamorous and yet you know how unglamorous it all truly is. It’s wild to me that as a society, we get so wrapped up in the romanticization of royalty. How we wake up in the middle of the night to watch Princes William and Harry get married, we follow their lives through the Internet or newspapers, we cling to their every move - even those of us who aren’t fans of the royals. And most of all, we all secretly want to know what exactly is going on behind the gates of the palace.

The Royal We actually bring us behind those gates and into the darkest, grittiest shadows of the palace. Mind you, it’s not quite the Windsors but it’s as close as any of us will probably ever get at guessing what their version of reality is.

I think this book’s cover alone tells a lot about our fascination with the royal family. Just by glancing at the cover, you recognize the faceless figures as William and Kate. Easily, too. Anyone who has seen anything about the 2011 wedding would recognize Kate’s gorgeous bridal gown and William’s scarlet uniform. The novel closely replicates the story of William and Kate, however with succinct differences. Namely that Bex - our novel’s complicated heroine - is an American student who has a hell-raising twin sister.

I completely devoured this book. It was dishy and romantic, including just the right combination of royal tradition and modern-day elements to make it realistic. In the past century, royals have truly become celebrities rather than divine rulers, and the authors really incorporated that cultural change. There isn’t a moment of Bex’s life with Nick, the handsome English prince, where she isn’t a subject of the nation’s fascination - and criticisms. I think the pressure of the paparazzi on Bex was hugely important, as that is a very real aspect of the lives of the women who have recently become romantically involved with the royals, from Diana to Kate and now Meghan.

One of the things I thought was most well-done was the timeline. The novel stretches over quite a long period of time, much like the real-life love story of William and Kate did. It follows the main characters through their final years of university, to their early adulthood and then to their mid-to-late twenties. For a novel that’s under 500 pages, it was an ambitious move but I think the authors nailed it! I was pleasantly surprised in that regard. I didn’t find it stretched on too long, or that it was choppy, or anything. It flowed very well and kept me captivated the whole way along.

The ending really took me by surprise. I won’t give anything away, but I didn’t see the ending coming and I’m not sure how I feel about it. I think it was effective but I’m not sure it’s the kind of ending I expect or prefer in a novel. It didn’t quite tie up the strings well enough for me. But for another reader, I think it’d be the perfect sort of ending.

Are you a fan of the royal family?

Felicia x

Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo - Taylor Jenkins Reid

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“Don’t ignore half of me so you can fit me into a box.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Fiction, Contemporary, Adult Fiction

Reading Challenge: 5 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis —

Reclusive Hollywood icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant to write her story, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. 

Determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career, Monique listens in fascination. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s - and, of course, the seven husbands along the way - Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. But as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Written with Reid's signature talent for creating "complex, likeable characters" (Real Simple), this is a mesmerizing journey through the splendour of Old Hollywood into the sobering realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means - and what it costs - to face the truth.

My Thoughts —

I loved this book!!

So first and foremost, I love how Taylor Jenkins Reid made me believe in the story. Often, I had to remind myself that it was a fictional story and that Evelyn Hugo wasn’t actually an actress. I got incredibly invested in Evelyn’s story. But, interestingly, I was extremely conflicted in how I felt about her character. I loved her and I hated her. I was rooting for her and simultaneously not. She was a massively complex character which made her that much more interesting. If she’d been wholly good, there wouldn’t have been much of a story haha.

One of the only aspects of this novel that fell a bit short for me was Monique’s storyline. Honestly, I find that dual narratives are really a hit-or-miss for me. In some cases, the dual narrative is really well done. However, this one didn’t really do it for me. I found that Monique’s storyline was sort of lacking. She has a little bit of a plot twist in the end, a surprise element that kind of brings the stories of the two ladies together, but I found that throughout the first 3 quarters of the story, I didn’t really care about Monique’s story. She seemed more like a vessel for Evelyn’s story. I think this was especially a problem because her chapters were only a few pages filled with prompts for Evelyn’s story.

All in all, this was a really incredible novel. Everyone was talking about how good it was for awhile (which is why I picked it up), I can honestly say that I believe it lived up to the hype.

Have you read it yet? Do you think it lives up the hype?

Felicia x

Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling

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“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Fantasy, Young Adult, Fiction

Reading Challenge: 4 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis —

Harry Potter's third year at Hogwarts is full of new dangers. A convicted murderer, Sirius Black, has broken out of Azkaban prison, and it seems he's after Harry. Now Hogwarts is being patrolled by the dementors, the Azkaban guards who are hunting Sirius. But Harry can't imagine that Sirius or, for that matter, the evil Lord Voldemort could be more frightening than the dementors themselves, who have the terrible power to fill anyone they come across with aching loneliness and despair. Meanwhile, life continues as usual at Hogwarts. A top-of-the-line broom takes Harry's success at Quidditch, the sport of the Wizarding world, to new heights. A cute fourth-year student catches his eye. And he becomes close with the new Defense of the Dark Arts teacher, who was a childhood friend of his father. Yet despite the relative safety of life at Hogwarts and the best efforts of the dementors, the threat of Sirius Black grows ever closer. But if Harry has learned anything from his education in wizardry, it is that things are often not what they seem. Tragic revelations, heartwarming surprises, and high-stakes magical adventures await the boy wizard in this funny and poignant third installment of the beloved series.

My Thoughts —

It feels very odd to be reviewing a Harry Potter book. I actually debated whether or not I was going to go ahead with this review at all. Technically, yes, I did read it this year and it will be counted towards my annual reading goal. But I’ve read it quite a few times and it just feels weird to be reviewing a book that I haven’t read for the first time in, what, 15 years?? Well, here we are. I’m doing it anyway!

For as long as I can remember, Prisoner of Azkaban has been my favourite book. Disclaimer: I haven’t read the full Harry Potter series since I was like 9 or 10 years old, so my opinions might have changed now (I’ll let you know once I re-read it all!). I still see why I loved it so much as a kid. Unlike the first couple books, which are obviously geared towards young children, Prisoner of Azkaban starts to delve into the older YA category, at least in my opinion. I think it’s not really until around Order of the Phoenix or Half-Blood Prince that the books go fully into mature themes, if memory serves me right. At this point, there is a serious plot line throughout the novel, but you still get a lot of that cozy, Hogwarts everyday magic that makes the books so warm and endearing for me.

A huge part I love - and have always loved - about this book is the introduction of the Marauders. I love that storyline so much. Much like pretty much everybody, I would have loved to read a spin-off series that focused on that Marauders in their Hogwarts years. Is there still hope for this to happen?! God I hope so, lol. I have a soft spot for Remus, always have, as I think he was a really important male figure for Harry throughout the series, especially after Order of the Phoenix (no spoilers just in case any of you have not read the series yet).

I just find it so interesting to go back and reread the series as an adult, as it’s such a different experience from when I was young but still, the magic of it is still alive in the words. I’ve been very slowly making my way through the series, but I hope to get through at least a few of them this year!

Is Prisoner of Azkaban your favourite? If not, which Harry Potter book is your favourite?

Felicia x

5 Must-Read Books By Women, About Women

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Hello friends, welcome to Day 2 of my International Women’s Day (or, rather, week) posts! Today’s post is a condensed list of my favourite books about women that are written by female authors. Although there are many, many books out there about women’s stories that I adore, I thought that listing them all off would be a bit much. So I narrowed it down, even though it was very painful to let some of my favourites go. I’ll do another post someday with a list of more of these sort of books… Maybe for next Women’s Day!

With that being said, here are 5 must-read books by women, about women…

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Out of this list, this might be my favourite (though, with these contenders, it’s extremely difficult to pick one favourite). The Alice Network tells the story of two strong women from the two World War eras of the 20th century. The first, Eve Gardiner, is desperate to help the Great War efforts in a way that counts and her wishes are granted when she’s recruited as a spy. The second is Charlie St. Clair, a young American who became pregnant out of wedlock and is on a search to find her missing cousin in the aftermath of World War II. The two women reluctantly join together to embark on a search for the cousin, bringing their stories (and hardships) to light. It’s a beautiful, heartbreaking story and I just love how brave each of the women are, in their own unique way.

My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

This is actually a book I’ve not quite finished (only about 15% left to read!) but have absolutely loved every second of. You may recall Gloria Steinem from yesterday’s post. My Life on the Road is her memoir about her years of travel, both globally and domestically. In her stories, she recounts incredible tales that you wouldn’t imagine have all happened to one person. Her journeys brought her face-to-face with remarkable women and really opened her eyes to different walks of life, not only across the world but in the very country where she was raised. I loved hearing about the people she met, the things she experienced firsthand, and most of all, her activism for women’s rights and equality. If you’re interested in women’s history and/or feminism, this is definitely one of the first books you should read!

Women Talking by Miriam Toews

I only just read this book at the beginning of this year, but it has left such a lasting impression on me, that I had to include it here. This book is unfortunately based on a real-life incident which occurred in Bolivia. In the fictionalized retelling, a group of Mennonite women gather in the wake of a series of assaults on the women by the men of the community. The assaults occurred while women were drugged, and they were told that they had been visited by demons. Women of all ages, including children and the elderly, were affected. Now, they face a decision: do they flee, do nothing, or fight back? The novel is told through the minutes taken during their meeting by a man who has returned from excommunication. The experiences of the women were so hard to read and it’s even harder to imagine that it really happened in our world, not very long ago (the 2000s). It’s an excellent book that I highly recommend!

A Train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead

Yet another very difficult read, sorry! This one is a non-fiction about a group of female resisters during the German occupation of France in World War II. The women engaged in actions against the Germans that were highly dangerous, including the distribution of pamphlets and information to other resisters. Eventually, they are imprisoned and not long after, transferred to Auschwitz. It’s disgusting, and painful, and disturbing. But the point of this novel is not to showcase the horrors of concentration camps, although it does do that very well; it is instead to show the determination and the sisterhood of the women who were captured and arrested. They were all by each other’s sides from the start to the very end, as many became ill or even died. Their heroism was incredibly impressive, especially given the circumstances.

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

Last, but certainly not least, is a far less gruesome or horrific novel. This actually takes a really depressing real-life story, and makes it far less tragic and even makes it quite funny! Lady Jane Grey had a tough life. She was only sixteen when she was executed, after being Queen of England (maybe not even officially Queen) for all of nine days before Mary I came in and had her - and her hubby - imprisoned in the Tower of London. Her story is short, and sad, and pretty violent. But these ladies decided to change her fate. What if she never died? What if she actually escaped? What if her husband was…a horse? Yeah, it sounds bizarre but you have to take my word for it. This book is phenomenally funny and entertaining, a perfect YA spin on a terrible mark on English history. After all, it wasn’t even Jane’s fault that she was Queen. Why should she punished? This novel primarily features a bunch of strong women, including the not-so-nice Mary I.

Do you have a novel written by a female author that you’d like to share? Drop it in the comments!

Felicia x

Review: Dumplin' - Julie Murphy

“I guess sometimes the perfection we perceive in others is made up of a whole bunch of tiny imperfections, because some days the damn dress just won’t zip.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Fiction

Reading Challenge: 3 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis —

Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine—Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.

My Thoughts —

I’m a sucker for a good fluffy romance. (New drinking game: take a shot whenever I say that in a review).

Last December, I saw that the film adaptation of Dumplin’ had been put onto Netflix and because I have no impulse control, I watched it before reading the book. Big literary no-no, I know. But here we are. I really enjoyed the film but I had to wait until after final exams to read the book. So, finally, I got to read it and no shock, it’s SO much better than the film.

Dumplin’ has all the key elements of a great YA romance: an authentic female lead, a dreamy love interest, a complicated but enduring friendship, and of course, Dolly Parton, hero to all. To be honest, Dumplin’ really hit the mark for me. It pulled me in, got me invested in all the characters, and it just seemed authentic to me. I believed that these characters could be real teenagers, which I find is really difficult for some YA authors to capture perfectly. Being not so far off from a teen, I can still understand teen characters fairly well. Mind you, I feel like every day I feel less and less connected to teens these days lol.

I really liked how this book strayed from the reliance on stereotypes like a lot of YA novels do. Not only in terms of Willowdean, either. I thought it was really interesting that Bo could have easily been made into another mysterious, handsome, obnoxious private school kid. But instead, they made him into a multifaceted character. They also avoided having Willowdean desperately chase after Bo to the point that pining over him would be her only personality trait (I’m sure this sounds familiar). In fact, Bo actually chased Willowdean throughout the book. Willowdean is a strong, complex character with ambitions and goals, who happens to also have a crush on a boy. And I loved that about her.

Did you like the movie adaptation or the book better?

Felicia x

Review: The Sun Does Shine - Anthony Ray Hinton

“Everything, I realized, is a choice. And spending your days waiting to die is no way to live.”

My Rating: ★★★★★

Genre(s): Non-Fiction, Memoir, Biography, True Crime

Reading Challenge: 2 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis —

Anthony Ray Hinton was poor and black when he was convicted of two murders he hadn't committed. For the next three decades he was trapped in solitary confinement in a tiny cell on death row, having to watch as - one by one - his fellow prisoners were taken past him to the execution room. Eventually his case was taken up by the award-winning lawyer, Bryan Stevenson, who managed to have him exonerated, though it took 15 years for this to happen. Since his release, other high-profile supporters have included Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg and Amal Clooney.

How did Hinton cope with the mental and emotional torture of his situation, and emerge full of compassion and forgiveness? The Sun Does Shine throws light not only on his remarkable personality but also on social deprivation and miscarriages of justice. Ultimately, though, it's a triumphant story of the resilience of the human spirit.

My Thoughts —

As soon as I heard about this book, I wanted to read it. I immediately added it to my TBR and then at my first chance, I went out to hunt for it in the shop. (I actually ended up getting it on sale, thanks Books-A-Million!).

I was shocked that it could be possible that someone could not only be wrongfully convicted, but put on death row for decades. Even more so, his positivity astonished me. If it were me, I would be miserable as I’m sure many others would be. But Anthony Ray Hinton managed to get through it with his head high and full of optimism. He spread light to the other prisoners and honestly made me completely reconsider my perception of the prison system.

I was completely inspired by Anthony Ray Hinton’s story. It made me really reconsider my own position in life and be grateful for my privileges. Ray was imprisoned simply because he was poor and black - we can’t let the world fail people like Ray anymore.

Felicia x

Review: Women Talking - Miriam Toews

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“When our men have used us up so that we look sixty when we’re thirty and our wombs have literally dropped out of our bodies onto our spotless kitchen floors, finished, they turn to our daughters.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Fiction, Feminism, Contemporary, Cultural (Fiction)

Reading Challenge: 1 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis —

One evening, eight Mennonite women climb into a hay loft to conduct a secret meeting. For the past two years, each of these women, and more than a hundred other girls in their colony, has been repeatedly violated in the night by demons coming to punish them for their sins. Now that the women have learned they were in fact drugged and attacked by a group of men from their own community, they are determined to protect themselves and their daughters from future harm.

While the men of the colony are off in the city, attempting to raise enough money to bail out the rapists and bring them home, these women—all illiterate, without any knowledge of the world outside their community and unable even to speak the language of the country they live in—have very little time to make a choice: Should they stay in the only world they’ve ever known or should they dare to escape?

Based on real events and told through the “minutes” of the women’s all-female symposium, Toews’s masterful novel uses wry, politically engaged humour to relate this tale of women claiming their own power to decide.

My Thoughts —

1. Do nothing. 2. Stay and fight. 3. Leave. Which one do they choose?

Wow. Just, wow. I have so many thoughts about this novel. There literally aren’t enough words. Or, maybe, just not the right words, to describe it perfectly.

While this is a fictional novel, it’s definitely important to note that the plot was based on the very real events that happened in Bolivia in the 2000s. What happened to these women - the fictional ones and the real ones - is absolutely horrific and appalling. But their bravery in the aftermath of these events is completely incredible.

It was absolutely shocking to me how strong the women in this story were. Not that I don’t think women are strong enough to deal with tough situations, but that I could not even fathom how I could be able to handle the situation if it were me. The women were terrified, of course, but were concerned more about their families, their children, and their loved ones than themselves. It was also horrifying to me, first of all, how they were conditioned to think that they deserved nothing better than the lives they were living, and second of all, they were faced with the dilemma of staying put in the most horrific conditions possible or leave but have no knowledge of the world outside their community. They were uneducated, unable to fend for themselves, and couldn’t even speak the language of their country. Just the thought of it all makes me shudder.

I can’t even begin to say how deeply this book affected me. I had honestly no idea how hard this book was going to hit me. Although, going off the description, I knew it was going to be a difficult read. I will say that a lot of the content, particularly the descriptions of the rape, is extremely difficult to get through. If you’re somebody who finds it painful to It’s awful to think how some of the women thought they had no choice but to obey the men of their community - the same men who have drugged and raped them and their daughters - because they have no options or even education. My heart ached for them and for the women who went through the real experience years ago.

If you’ve been on the fence about getting this book, here’s your sign: go buy it. It’s well worth the read and will definitely get your mind running. It’s interesting (and scary) to try to put yourself in their shoes while you read. What would you do if it were you in their place?

Felicia x

Review: Beartown - Fredrik Backman

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“Everyone has a thousand wishes before a tragedy, but just one afterward.”

My Rating: ★★★★★

Genre(s): Fiction, Contemporary

Reading Challenge: 37 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.

My Thoughts —

It’s not very often that I give a book a 5-star review. I’m the type of person who can be a tad too generous with throwing around 5-stars, even if a book doesn’t fully deserve it, so I try to be a bit more critical and put more thought into my ratings these days. That being said, Beartown deserved every point on each and every one of these five stars - and more.

It’s pretty funny, in hindsight, how much I loved this book because when I bought it, I had the wrong idea about what it’s about. Like completely wrong. I thought it was just a feel-good novel about a small town that rallies together to help their local hockey team with the championship game. Yes, there’s a hockey team. Yes, they’re from a small town, that does support them fully. But that’s where the similarities end. There’s so much more of a complex storyline to this book that I couldn’t even begin to describe without giving away all the suspenseful bits that made it so enjoyable to read.

The writing is what initially gripped me. Fredrik Backman knows what he’s doing, that’s for certain. The first few pages completely engulfed me in intrigue and excitement. I wanted to know what would happen. I wanted to devour this book in a day. Unfortunately, it took me a month to read because of finals and Christmas events. I was constantly itching to get back to reading this novel. Apparently, it wasn’t even originally written in English. That just blows me away. Not a lot of novels translate well, but this one definitely did.

Honestly, if I were to only recommend one book that I read in 2018, it would be Beartown.

Have you read Beartown? Did you love it as much as I did?

Felicia x

Review: Love & War - Melissa De La Cruz

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“We will only stand if we learn to accept and even embrace each other’s differences rather than allow them to divide us.”

My Rating: ★★★

Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Young Adult, Romance

Reading Challenge: 32 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

As the war for American Independence carries on, two newlyweds are settling into their new adventure: marriage. But the honeymoon's over, and Alexander Hamilton and Eliza Schuyler are learning firsthand just how tricky wedded life can be. Alex is still General George Washington's right-hand man and his attention these days is nothing if not divided--much like the colonies' interests as the end of the Revolution draws near. Alex & Eliza's relationship is tested further by lingering jealousies and family drama.

My Thoughts —

If you haven’t read my review of the first book in this trilogy, go ahead and give that a read here first!

I’m gonna come right out and say it. I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed the first book, Alex & Eliza. I felt like this took a really different approach to the Hamiltons’ story than I was expecting. I get that it’s a YA series, so it may not deal with a lot of the more mature themes of their marriage (i.e. death, infidelity, etc.). But it just seemed a bit too light-hearted, if that makes sense? Even the conflicts they faced seemed to be solved almost immediately. It just seemed like they were living their own fairytale which, if you know the true history, you’ll know is not realistic.

I really hope that the final book of the trilogy, All For One (which is scheduled to be published in spring 2019) will be closer to the Hamiltons’ story. I just found that this novel was a lot more fiction than it was historical fiction. Sort of like Reign, but maybe even more far-fetched?

Have you read All For One? What did you think?

Felicia x

A Book Lover's Dream

Despite being a book lover for the past twenty years of my life, I have never found my way into a secondhand bookshop before. Can you believe it? Years of dreaming about the romance of small independent bookshops, even writing about them 24/7, and I’d never even stepped into one. I guess the problem was that I was raised in a large city, where local businesses weren’t very popular and every corner was another chain store. I grew up in Chapters and Indigo shops.

Moving into a small town really gave me a new perspective on small, local businesses. My town only has a population of 10,000 people - literally 72x smaller than my hometown. Take a second for that to sink in. So it was a huge adjustment. Living in a small town made me realize how important it is to support local businesses. Unfortunately, there isn’t a bookshop in my town (yet…one day I’ll put one in there myself).

A few towns over, there’s a bookshop called Pickwick Books. When I used to live in Mississauga, I sometimes would drive home through the town Waterdown and would always pass by Pickwick on the way. I loved the look of it. There was something about it, this little adorable shop on the corner, that completely piqued my interest. I had to know what was in there. Flash forward two years and I still hadn’t gone in there. In my defence, it is about an hour away from home.

But this Saturday morning, my boyfriend told me to get dressed to go out, as he was taking me on a surprise date. And much to my delight, we pulled up to Pickwick Books an hour later!!!

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Pickwick was everything I could ever dream of. It was a small shop with dozens of shelves around the shop, filled to the max with books. On a stack of books was another stack of books. Everywhere you looked - to each side, on the ground, above your head - there were books. It was a cozy little cave of books. The woman running the store was so kind and let us browse without following us around the shop, which I was so grateful as I’m particularly introverted and would rather browse alone.

One of my favourite areas of the shop was the Book Vault. It was an extremely small room (literally only my boyfriend and I could fit inside and we were in very close quarters) with just three walls full top to bottom of historical books, separated by era. Literally every era of history you could imagine. It was absolutely a dream come true for me, being someone who loves books and is a history fanatic. I wanted to live in that vault forever.

The other really cool thing I found in the shop was that they sold old, rare editions of books. They had collections of famous author’s books that were from the 19th century, going as far back as even the 1830s. I was in awe. There were Charles Dickens sets from the mid-1800s, when Charles Dickens was writing his books. It was absolutely incredible to see in person. Of course, I didn’t buy any of those since I don’t have $500 to spend on a set of Dickens novels, especially since I already have a set haha. But it was very cool to see, especially the books which were still in volumes as they were popularly released back then.

I ended up leaving the shop with one book for myself, a beautiful hardcover copy of Selected Poems & Letters of Emily Dickinson. I got it for $25 and when I got home, I searched it online to find out it typically goes for $50 USD because it’s a 1959 edition. I was sooo pleased with my purchase!!!

Here’s your little reminder to check out your local businesses. They’d love to have you shop there and who knows what you’ll find tucked away in a shelf.

Felicia x

Review: Gmorning, Gnight - Lin-Manuel Miranda

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“Good night now, and rest. Today was a test. You passed it, you’re past it. Now breathe till unstressed.”

My Rating: ★★★★★

Genre(s): Poetry, Nonfiction, Self Help

Reading Challenge: 31 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

Before he inspired the world with Hamilton and was catapulted to international fame, Lin-Manuel Miranda was inspiring his Twitter followers with words of encouragement at the beginning and end of each day. He wrote these original sayings, aphorisms, and poetry for himself as much as for others. But as Miranda's audience grew, these messages took on a life on their own. Now Miranda has gathered the best of his daily greetings into a beautiful collection illustrated by acclaimed artist (and fellow Twitter favorite) Jonny Sun.

Full of comfort and motivation, Gmorning, Gnight! is a touchstone for anyone who needs a quick lift.

My Thoughts —

So I may have mentioned this before, but I’ll say it again for the new readers: I absolutely adore Lin-Manuel Miranda. I think he’s oh so talented and practically the most inspiring person of our time, not to mention adorably dorky. And now he’s gone and created the most adorable, uplifting book I’ve ever laid eyes upon.

I really loved reading this book. It went by so quickly since it’s only about 200 pages and there’s only a few lines per page. But the little time I did spend with this book was lovely. Every passage was uplifting and empowering. I took to putting Post-It notes on the pages of my favourite passages, but that ended up being about 90% of the book by the end lol. I loved everything so much. Lin really has an incredibly way of putting things into perspective and making you appreciate the small things in life.

I think this would be a really excellent graduation gift idea, for those who know someone that’s graduating high school or post-secondary education! Also, if you want to read more of his “Gmorning, Gnight” style tweets, you can find those on his Twitter.

Are you a Lin-Manuel fan, like me?

Felicia x

Review: Alex and Eliza: A Love Story - Melissa De La Cruz

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Title: Alex and Eliza: A Love Story

Author: Melissa De La Cruz

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Release Date: April 11, 2017

Pages: 368

My Rating: ★★★★ (4/5)

Goodreads | Amazon


“And you, Colonel Hamilton, are mine, and I am yours always.”

Hello my darlings! I’m back with another book review and I am so so so excited for this one.

Recently, I have become completely obsessed with the musical, Hamilton. I’ve been in love with it for a few years now but for whatever reason, my obsession has completely skyrocketed in the last few months or so. Sadly, I’ve not yet gotten the chance to see it… My boyfriend tried to get tickets for the two of us in NYC last year, but they came out to like almost $2,000 so that was NOT happening. Since it won’t be coming to Toronto until the 2019/2020 season, I’m left having to find other ways to fuel my addiction like listening to the soundtrack a million times, watching documentaries, or, in this case, reading Hamilton-inspired lit.

Melissa De La Cruz was actually one of my fav authors when I was a preteen, back when Girl Stays In The Picture came out. When my reading tastes changed, I moved on from her writing but I was excited to read her books after all these years and see what I’d been missing.

Alex & Eliza starts off on the midwinter night of the Schuyler ball in 1777, where Elizabeth Schuyler first meets Washington’s aide-de-camp, Alexander Hamilton. When she overhears a conversation between Hamilton and her father, General Schuyler, she is immediately put off and has no interest in speaking with him. But when she goes to stay with her aunt and uncle in Morristown, she reencounters the young colonel and the two begin to see each other in a different light.

I loved this book!! As you may know, I’m a huge fan of YA novels, especially romantic YA novels. This is so up my alley, it’s crazy. The love between Alex and Eliza was palpable, and I think it really was the perfect kick-off for the long history of the Hamiltons. I thought that this novel really read like a modern day Jane Austen novel. Not even just because it was set in the 18th century, but because it has a romantic storyline with a strong heroine lead and ends in a wedding. I loved the Austen-esque elements of this novel and I’m not sure if the author meant to include them but I think it was perfect regardless!!

I also thought it was pretty interesting how the novel was told from both Alex and Eliza’s perspectives, especially since there was a fair chunk of the novel where Alex was off doing war stuff. It was pretty cool because then you got to see both sides of the story and it also gave the opportunity to meet other key figures in their history like Washington, Lafayette, and Laurens. I can usually take or leave dual narratives, however when they’re done well and not too confusing or excessive - like in Alex & Eliza - I’m actually quite keen on them!

There were obviously a ton of differences between Alex & Eliza and the musical Hamilton, which I think genuinely comes down to picking and choosing which details to include and which to omit in either piece. For Hamilton, a lot of details were excluded or altered to work with the storyline, which was certainly also the case with Alex & Eliza. I did find that with Alex & Eliza, everything was a lot more fluffy, which makes sense as it’s a YA novel. So if you’re looking for some hard-hitting, authentic Revolutionary War retelling, maybe don’t look to Alex & Eliza for that.

I am extremely interested to see how this series progresses throughout the next couple books. I’ve already started Love & War, which is the next novel, but the third and final book isn’t coming out until 2019, so I still have a bit of a wait until that one!

Have you read Alex & Eliza? What did you think?

Goodreads Challenge: 30 out of 50

Felicia x

Review: All We Ever Wanted - Emily Giffin

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Title: All We Ever Wanted

Author: Emily Giffin

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Release Date: June 26, 2018

Pages: 334

My Rating: ★★★★ (4/5)

Goodreads | Amazon


“Who was the person you trusted enough to be your most transparent self with, in both good times and bad?”

Welcome back my loves! Today’s review is going to be about one of the most interesting books I’ve read so far this year, All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin.

So I actually ordered this book whilst sitting at an outside table at the Port Orleans French Quarter this summer, beignet in hand, trying to decide which three (yes, three) books to order from Indigo. It was the worst decision I’ve ever had to make because a) I’m already indecisive enough and b) the five or so books I wanted were all so so interesting and I couldn’t bear to part with even one. But this one really stuck out at me. Like, something told me I needed to read this book straight away after reading the synopsis. So I immediately placed my order and had my books sent to Mississauga, where my boyfriend’s parents (the god sends that they are) held them for me until I came home from the summer.

All We Ever Wanted is split into four narratives: Lyla, her father Tom, Finch, and his mother Nina. The two pairs couldn’t be more opposite. Lyla and Tom come from the “other side of the tracks”, a poor area of Nashville where Tom works multiple jobs; Nina and Finch come from Nashville’s elite, where Nina’s husband has recently sold his tech business and the family is living luxuriously. The only thing these families have in common is the private high school Lyla and Finch attend. Until a party one night results in a provocative photo of Lyla being leaked which links the two families forever.

This book was wild from start to finish y’all. I really had a hard time putting it down. It’s intense, but not in a suspenseful, action-packed way. I think that most importantly, it really speaks to my generation. With social media so prominent in our current society, things can get really messy which I’ve witnessed firsthand being in high school just a few years ago, when social media was really reaching it’s peak. Social media is great in that it links our world together and creates a real opportunity for mass communication and social change, imo. But it can also be a total nightmare if it’s used for the wrong thing. I think that this book really shows the dangerous side of social media, sort of as a cautionary tale to parents and even teens (are teens reading Emily Giffin? I was in high school, but idk).

I thought that the characters of Lyla and Finch were really well-represented as modern teenagers. Every time I read novels by authors long out of high school, I really keep an eye out for how the teenagers are portrayed because I think that sometimes authors are out of touch with modern teenagers. In All We Ever Wanted, this wasn’t the case at all. I could definitely see Lyla and Finch being teenagers at my old high school. Having authentic characters really enhances the reading experience for me. Idk if it bothers anyone else having unrealistic teen characters?? Is it just a me problem? Who knows.

Honestly, just read this book. You won’t regret it. It was so gripping and it also dealt with a ton of intense problems outside of just the social media issue that I think make the novel that much more important of a read (but I won’t say them here bc spoilers!). Definitely pick this up at your bookstore. Like, now. Go now :)

Have you read All We Ever Wanted yet? If you have, did you like it?

Goodreads Challenge: 29 out of 50

Felicia x

Review: Dear Mrs. Bird - A.J. Pearce

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Title: Dear Mrs. Bird

Author: A.J. Pearce

Publisher: Scribner

Release Date: July 3, 2018

Pages: 281

My Rating: ★★★ 1/2 (3.5/5)

Goodreads | Amazon


“If there was anything I wanted most in the world (other, of course, than for the war to end and Hitler to die a quite grisly death), it was to be a journalist.”

Hello my lovelies! Today I’m writing up a quick review on A.J. Pearce’s novel, Dear Mrs. Bird which I recently completed.

If you hadn’t already noticed, this year, wartime fiction has had a pretty substantial presence on my reading list. Recently, historical fiction set during WWI or WWII has easily become one of my favourite genres to read. I can’t get enough of it quite honestly!! That’s why I decided to pick up Dear Mrs. Bird, which is yet another story about women during WWII.

Dear Mrs. Bird follows a year in the life of Emmy Lake, a twenty-something living in WWII London, who dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent. When a job posting in a newspaper comes up, Emmy is quick to apply to the position before even reading the job description. It’s not until afterwards that she realizes that the job calls for a typist for an advice columnist. Not only that, but her boss is a complete terror who refuses to advise women who have ‘improper’ problems. So Emmy begins secretly responding to women behind her boss’s back.

Quite simply, I found this book to be very cute. I don’t think that it was nearly the hardest-hitting of all the wartime novels I’ve read this year, but I do think it was an important look at women’s efforts in the Second World War. I’ve been studying women’s history this term in uni and the past little while has been about the interwar years and WWII, so it’s definitely been interesting to see the parallels in my recreational reading and my school stuff!

I think that Emmy was a bit immature, considering that she was in her early twenties and involved in war efforts. I would think that war would make people, even young people, mature a lot quicker due to the circumstances. But it felt like Emmy’s primary concern was becoming a big fancy war correspondent, and the rest was just ~whatevs~. I also thought her best friend was immature (and sometimes annoying oops) as well.

(Side note: I also have to mention the fact that some things were capitalized randomly throughout the novel, to draw emphasis, and it absolutely bothered me to not end. If you remember my review on The Alice Network, you probably remember how this sort of thing in writing is my biggest pet peeve!)

Honestly, I saw this more as a lighthearted adult fiction that just so happened to be set during the war, as opposed to a wartime novel. It was a cute, heartwarming story and I loved the focus on women breaking into the paid workforce, but it just didn’t have that certain je ne sais quoi, y’know??

Have you read Dear Mrs. Bird? Do you agree with me?

Goodreads Challenge: 28 out of 50

Felicia x

Review: Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen

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“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Classics, Fiction, Romance

Reading Challenge: 27 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

Jane Austen's first novel—published posthumously in 1818—tells the story of Catherine Morland and her dangerously sweet nature, innocence, and sometime self-delusion. Though Austen's fallible heroine is repeatedly drawn into scrapes while vacationing at Bath and during her subsequent visit to Northanger Abbey, Catherine eventually triumphs, blossoming into a discerning woman who learns truths about love, life, and the heady power of literature. The satirical novel pokes fun at the gothic novel while earnestly emphasizing caution to the female sex.

My Thoughts —

So, first off, Northanger Abbey is the first of Austen’s novels to be prepared for publication (even though it didn’t come out until after she died). I think that’s what makes this book less of a hit with me, compared to her later works - like my personal fav, Pride and Prejudice. But that’s definitely not to say that the writing in Northanger Abbey is immature! Jane Austen was always wise beyond her years and I still think Northanger Abbey is a great novel, just not one of the best. You know?

I thought it was quite clever that Jane Austen used Catherine’s love for Gothic novels almost as a flaw in her character. It was a really tongue-in-cheek jab at Ann Radcliffe. Catherine’s imagination and obsession with the novels gets her into quite a lot of trouble, which is a fairly amusing storyline.

The one thing that irks me though is that Henry Tilney, for the majority of the novel, is quite annoying. He’s presumptuous and condescending. Most of his time spent with Catherine, and his sister Eleanor for that matter, is by berating her for her interest in Gothic novels and how her perception of things is wrong. Blah blah blah. He does get less tiresome throughout the last half of the novel. THANK GOD.

All in all, it was a pretty good read! I might not read it again, though.

Are you a Jane Austen fan? Do you like Northanger Abbey?

Felicia x

Review: My Lady Jane - Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

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“She delighted in the smell of the ink, the rough feel of the paper between her fingers, the rustle of sweet pages, the shapes of letters before her eyes.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult

Reading Challenge: 26 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

Edward (long live the king) is the King of England. He’s also dying, which is inconvenient, as he’s only sixteen and he’d much rather be planning for his first kiss than considering who will inherit his crown…

Jane (reads too many books) is Edward’s cousin, and far more interested in books than romance. Unfortunately for Jane, Edward has arranged to marry her off to secure the line of succession. And there’s something a little odd about her intended…

Gifford (call him G) is a horse. That is, he’s an Eðian (eth-y-un, for the uninitiated). Every day at dawn he becomes a noble chestnut steed—but then he wakes at dusk with a mouthful of hay. It’s all very undignified.

The plot thickens as Edward, Jane, and G are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, our heroes will have to engage in some conspiring of their own. But can they pull off their plan before it’s off with their heads?

My Thoughts —

First and foremost, let me start by saying that I love the Tudor era and everything about it. Which is ultimately why I decided to pick up this novel. Except this is no ordinary historical fiction. It tells the story of Lady Jane Grey, otherwise known as the Nine Days’ Queen. But this time around, it’s far less tragic and a lot more mystical.

If you’re unfamiliar with the history, here’s how it goes. Jane Grey was a teenaged English noblewoman who was married to Lord Guildford Dudley. When King Edward VI fell terminally ill, he wrote into his will that succession would fall to Lady Jane and her male heirs. But when Lady Jane took the throne, support grew in favour of Mary Tudor - a Roman Catholic - and eventually, Jane was deposed and executed for high treason. Yikes. This version of the story is a little different in that it includes humans that can turn into animals. And poisoning. The usual stuff.

This book was wild from start to finish, and I actually loved it. I thought the addition of fantasy elements, including the E∂ians (aka the animal-morphing humans), was quite exciting and ridiculously creative. I’ve not been huge on fantasy novels since my early teens, but this has definitely made me reconsider the genre. My Lady Jane was an extremely amusing and cleverly-written story, with enough real details to make you forget sometimes that people in the 1500s weren’t actually part-animal.

There were lots of twists and turns to this novel so, keeping with the spoiler-free promise of this review, I won’t reveal too much about the plot. But I did think it was interesting how they played out the Jane Grey vs. Mary Tudor situation. In real-life, Mary deposed of Jane and that was that. Jane’s existence was a threat because she was a Protestant queen. But in the case of this novel, I found it interesting how the role of religion paralleled the storyline of E∂ians and the Verities (aka the people who remain permanently human). The E∂ians being the Protestants, and the Verities being the Roman Catholics. There was definitely an interesting similarity there, that I’d really encourage you to look out for if you’re reading the book!

Most of all, what drew me into this book was Lady Jane herself. I loved Jane. I thought she was an incredible and complex character, the perfect bookish female lead. Books with a strong female lead always capture my heart and My Lady Jane was no exception. Jane showed undoubtable strength and defiance from the very start of the novel, constantly questioning decisions that she didn’t agree with or proving her intelligence by her extensive knowledge of life through reading. I think her relationship with Gifford was extremely interesting also because it forced her to come out of her world of just books and court, and apply her strength to real-life situations (i.e. the villagers early on in the novel). I was really rooting for the two lead characters and never more have I wanted a happily ever after in a novel!

After reading this, I’m so eager to read the follow-up book, My Plain Jane, which is a retelling of the classic Bronte novel, Jane Eyre. I think that these three women are spectacular authors and I would probably read anything that they published as a team. This is definitely the sort of young adults novel that I’d recommend to not only teens, but also adults!

Have you read My Lady Jane? Lend me your thoughts in the comments!

Felicia x

Review: The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas

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“What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

Reading Challenge: 25 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

My Thoughts —

This book really hit me hard. I was heartbroken, angry, empowered, and inspired - all at once. I cannot begin to imagine being in Starr’s place. As I read about her experience of Khalil’s death and the ramifications afterwards, I felt sick to my stomach all the way through. It’s already a horrific thing to see your own friend to be killed; but to have to fight to prove that the killer was actually at fault is something else entirely.

I truly feel like this might be one of the most powerful stories I’ve read in a very, very long time. Obviously the major problem in this book - police brutality and shooting of unarmed POC - is something that we are facing in modern day society every. single. day. It’s so frustrating to see this sort of thing happen all the time and there’s no justice for the victims whatsoever. That’s exactly what this book is about. I wholeheartedly believe this book should be a mandatory read in high school. The classics are great and all, but it’s time for a book like The Hate U Give to make an appearance in school curriculums and draw attention to major social issues.

Read this book. Take a stand against what’s wrong, stand for what you believe in. And go see the movie, too. This is the sort of thing that needs attention y’all.

Have you read The Hate U Give? What are your thoughts?

Felicia x

Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

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Title: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Authors: Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

Publisher: The Dial Press

Release Date: June 1st 2009

Pages: 248

My Rating: ★★★★ (4/5)

Goodreads | Amazon


"Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers. How delightful if that were true."

By now, chances are you know how much I love historical fiction. I've said it before and I'll likely say it a million times more. I like how it puts you in the middle of all the action. And when a novel about the world wars comes around, then I'm really hooked. Especially when it's post-WW2 Britain. No wartime story shall go unread!

What immediately got me interested in this book was the title. Some might see The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society as a nuisance; I see it as a mystery, one I'm dying to uncover. What is this club? Who created it? What in the world is a potato peel pie - and why does it deserve a society? The fact that I hadn't even opened the book and I was already enthralled said a lot about what I was in for. 

TGLAPPPS picks up in 1946 as writer Juliet Ashton tries to get her life back on track in post-war London. Her home has been flattened by a bombing, there are rumours floating about her almost-marriage, and she's struggling to figure out what she should write about next. Her life is changed when she receives a letter from a man named Dawsey Adams who has in his possession a book that once belonged to Juliet. From there, they start up a whirlwind correspondence that introduces Juliet to a little Channel island, Guernsey, and the members who make up the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. 

I loved so many things about this book. First and foremost, I loved the characters. What an extraordinary and odd bunch of people. I felt an instant connection to all of these lovely people - except for Mark, but more on him later. Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows did an incredible job of making these people feel like friends to the reader. I loved how passionately they spoke about books and authors. I wanted nothing more than to be in the room with them during their book club meetings, talking about the Brontë sisters and Charles Lamb. 

For a mostly lighthearted book, TGLAPPPS deals with a lot of heavy topics. After all, it is set just after the second World War. War leaves it's mark on many things - marriage, families, businesses, children, towns, countries. Especially in Guernsey. For five years starting in 1940, the island was occupied by Germans. The people of Guernsey endured absolute horrors during WW2 - and I'm actually sad to say that I'd never heard of the island, or their part in the war. But what was so gripping about this book was how the characters found happiness, even in the hard times. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society began as a clever ruse eventually turned into a safe haven, a place for book lovers to come together and be a united front in the face of hostility. 

Overall, I just loved this book. Although it talks about serious topics such as war and death, it is still lighthearted. It focused on family - by blood and by circumstances - and the love we feel for one another. And above all, it spoke on bravery, especially in the character Elizabeth McKenna. Watching these characters pick up the pieces of their lives after the destruction was incredibly inspiring. 

Go buy this book! Read it a dozen times. Cry over it. Hold it close to your heart. Make your friends read it and then talk about it to your heart's content. Just fully devour it. It's divine. 

What wartime or post-war novels do you love? Let me know in the comments!

Goodreads Challenge: 24 out of 50

Felicia x