Book Review

[Book Review] Forever Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Forever InterruptedThis might be the book I tweeted about the most in November. Every time I read a chapter, I’d write something about it. The picture in the right hand corner of the collage above is a picture I tweeted that read,

I have Friday night plans, but while out, I’ll be thinking of this last little bit to read #booknerdproblems

As you can see, I was a fan of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Forever Interrupted. It came on my radar when my pal Sarah from Simon & Schuster brought me a copy and said that every one in their office was reading and recommending this book. So I dropped all my other reading (which is so out of control, that I now operate using an excel spreadsheet) and devoured this book front to back.

It’s New Year’s Eve and Elsie Porter is boycotting all plans and has ordered herself a pizza for one. When she goes pick it up, she encounters a man named Ben Ross. He’s charming, witty and very convincing when it comes to asking her on a date. What happens next is what you call a “whirlwind romance”. They fall out of their social circles and instead, fall for one another. They’re friends are shocked and a tad nervous when they find out that they’ve taken their newly minted relationship to another level when they learn that they’ve sealed the deal by eloping. What happens next, isn’t really a spoiler, as the aftermath of the “tragedy” is the real premise of the story, but it does have a spoiler element, so you’ve been fair warned.

Elsie is craving Fruity Pebbles cereal and her new husband is, of course, happy to please her, so he hops on his bike and travels to the grocery store. After a few minutes, Elsie hear sirens and instinctively knows that something is wrong. She runs outside to find the love of her life on the ground, not breathing. Sadly, he was struct by a car and hasn’t made it. During this scene, I was a mess of tears and it was only a few pages in, so I can say with all honesty, that the rest of the book will require you to have tissue nearby.

Of course planning a funeral for your husband of mere weeks would be a tragedy for anyone, Elsie is faced with an obstacle that she and Ben are both responsible for, because Ben has neglected to inform his Mother (whom he’s very close with) that he’s met someone and that they got married. You can understand the confusion Ben’s Mother, Susan’s experiences when she encounters the woman planning her son’s funeral. As you can imagine, it doesn’t go over well and there new Mother-In-Law/Daughter-In-Law relationship starts off on a very rocky start.

Forever Interrupted is the story of Elsie and Susan, which means it’s a story of understanding, forgiveness and grieving. But it’s also a love story, as you jump back to scenes of Elsie and Ben’s relationship that examine why Ben chose to hide their relationship and why Elsie’s future will forever be changed by having Ben (and Susan) enter her life. The novel is smart, witty and filled with “what would you do?” moments.

My only piece of advice if you choose to pick up this book (and I hope you do), is that when you’re near the end, don’t make any plans to go out (like I did) because you’re going to want to finish this book with zero interruptions.

If you’d like to read an excerpt of this book, check out this sneak peek from Chatelaine Magazine.

Reeder Signature

[Book Review] Hyperbole and A Half by Allie Brosh

Back in 2010, I stumbled upon Allie Brosh’s blog Hyperbole and a Half, a blog with few words and a whole lot of pictures. These pictures were drawn by Allie herself with the use of paintbrush on her mac computer. Her essays/artwork often depicted hilarious antidotes from her childhood and showcased her two dogs, “simple dog” and “helper dog” getting into crazy scenarios. My favourite picture is probably this one:

Allie Brosh CakeThen things went silent for quite a long time. I had Allie’s website saved to my bookmarks and at least once a week, I’d find my way to her site only to see that there was nothing new happening. I’d read in articles that she takes a lot of time to create one post/essay so as a loyal reader, I was being patient and waiting for the hilarity to ensue each week. But then in 2011, things took a different turn on her blog. Things weren’t so funny as her loyal readers learned that she’d been battling depression. In two heartfelt and hauntingly real posts over the span of two years, she depicted what dealing with depression feels and looks like.

Post 1: Adventures in Depression

Post 2: Depression Part Two

These posts (the first one in particular) gained lots of attention. Many saying that it created an accurate depiction of what it’s like to deal with this condition. Now I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve never struggled with depression, but I have friends and family that have battled with it, so it was eye-opening to see what people with this condition struggle with each day. Allie clearly depicts through her pictures that it’s not something that you can just snap out off and each day is an uphill battle.

hyperbole_and_a_half_book_1As I mentioned, these posts continued to rocket Allie Brosh’s website and her experiences, humour and struggles landed her a book deal. Her book, Hyperbole and A Half: Unfortunate situations, flawed coping mechanisms, mayhem, and other things that happened is a collection of some her funniest posts and some new stories that have never been shared on her blog.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with it this past weekend and I devoured it in one sitting. As a loyal fangirl to all things Allie Bosh it was exciting to see some of my favourite posts bound together in a book. I know we’re not friends and we’ve never spoken via social media (what with her 400,000 Facebook fans and her 100,000 Twitter followers) but I feel like I’ve gotten to know her throughout the years. This is why I’m such a huge fan of blogs in general, because even though you don’t know the person typing out (or in this case, drawing) their experiences, you’re invited into their lives and you somehow begin to feel like you know them. You celebrate in their accomplishments and you feel for them when they face hardship.

If you’re like me and you’re familiar with Allie’s story, pick up this book for a walk down memory lane and discover some of her new and hilarious stories.

If you’re unfamiliar with Allie Brosh’s story, start with this book and then head over to her hilarious website for more laugh out loud moments.

Thanks to Sarah from Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with a copy of Hyperbole and A Half.

7 Reasons Why YOU Should Read Wayne Johnston’s The Son of a Certain Woman

The Son of a Certain WomanI write book reviews all the time with the hopes that you will share in my enthusiasm and “said book” will hopefully be your next read. Nine times out of ten, I’ll share why you should pick up the book at the end of my review. So when I started to write a review of Wayne Johnston’s The Son of a Certain Woman, I got a little stumped because all I wanted to do was share reasons with you about why you need to read this book. Then I thought why don’t I switch up my normal routine and just list the reasons why this book needs to be on the top of your to be read pile. So that’s what Im going to do and hopefully when you’re convinced (and I’m sure you will be) you’ll come back to this post and tell me how much you loved the book.

1. It’s was on the Giller Prize Longlist

Okay, this is an obvious one, but I thought I’d start with it because being nominated for the Giller Prize is no small feat! The Son of a Certain Woman joined the ranks of twelve other authors and their books selected by a jury that consists of Margaret Atwood, Esi Edugyan and Jonathan Lethem. With such statue choosing from a long list of books, I could end this list right here… but I won’t.

2. 5/5 Ratings = Win/Win

When I finished reading this book, I literally couldn’t wait to find my fellow Wayne Johnston pals and discuss. That’s why I was thrilled to see that BookRiot contributor Brenna had devoured the advanced reading copy she received. As you can see from her GoodReads review, she felt the exact same way I did. “Portnoy’s Complaint meets Newfoundland Gothic. Weird and wacky and wonderful. The most un-Wayne-Johnston-y and yet totally Wayne Johnston novel in his oeuvre. Read it when it drops in September.”

3. An Opening Sentence that Makes you Stick Around for More!

I love a good opening sentence and Wayne Johnston delivers! The Son of a Certain Woman opens with “Most of the people who knew my mother either slept with her or wished they had, including me and my Aunt Medina…”

4. You’ll gasp. You’ll Laugh. You’ll feel uncomfortable. 

To help solidify my third point, I’m sharing the book trailer for this book because it gives you some insight about what kind of book you’ll be cracking open.

That’s right friends, Percy Joyce is in love with his Mother and as you can imagine, it lead to some very uncomfortable but hilarious scenes.

5. Reviews Galore

To help prove my point, you’ll be hard pressed to find a newspaper that hasn’t given the book a rave review! The Globe and Mail calls it “expertly discomfiting” and the Toronto Star nails it on the head by saying, “Wayne Johnston’s genius for extravagant storytelling soars to new heights in The Son of a Certain Woman.

Here are some additional articles:
Ottawa Citizen
Winnipeg Free Press

6. The Last Scene of the Book

I shared that the opening sentence is a reason you should read this book, but the same holds true for the last couple of pages of The Son of a Certain Woman. Honestly, I’ve never closed a book and looked around my home and said out loud “What? Really?” until now. Seriously, this ending will NOT disappoint!

7. Percy Joyce

Percy Joyce is a character that you fall in love with instantly. There’s something about his innocence that makes you want to tell him that it’s all going to be okay. *Think Owen Meany if you will* Not since reading the beloved John Irving story have I liked a character as much as I enjoyed this young boy. The things he imaginesthe lies he weaves, the incest devotion to his own Mother. You’ll want more as you’re reading and you’ll be sad to say goodbye when it’s over.

So there you have it friends, the 7 Reasons why you should read Wayne Johnston’s newest book. If you need any further convincing (and I don’t think you will), you’re welcome to write me on Twitter or comment below!

[Book Review] Cataract City by Craig Davidson

It’s not every day a book comes along that has the capability to tug at your heartstrings, but still manage to make you cringe with fear (with a mix of disgust). These types of books make you sit up a little straighter while reading, they make you want  to call up your book loving friends and urge them to read it, just so you can selfishly have conversations about the book. I’ve been counting down the days until I can finally discuss Cataract City with you. Seriously… the tweet below is from May 12th.

I don’t want to wish the summer away, but I can’t wait for 09/03. That’s the day you can all read this AMAZING book 

Now the day is finally here and now all of you can read (and chat with me) about the brilliance that is Craig Davidson’s book Cataract City.

Maybe it’s the East Coast in me, but I was unaware that Niagara Fall is often called ‘Cataract City’, which makes sense, because the term “Cataract” is derived from the Latin cararacta, meaning “waterfall” (source). Another thing I didn’t know about Cataract city is that it’s a city that many want to escape. Such is the case for Owen and Duncan. Best friends since a young age and closer than most based on a tragic event that bonded them together. The book opens to Owen picking up his friend Duncan from the local jail. When reading this introduction to the novel, you’ll be quick to judge Duncan and his misbehaving ways, but as the story progresses, you’ll be singing a different tune.

As young children, these boys somehow continuously end up in compromising situations. When you’re born into a world, or a town in this case, that Cataract Cityexpects nothing of you, you’re apt to live up to that mentality. How you react to that situation is based on your experiences and although both men have grown up on a similar paths, they choose to take different roads to travel on. As I mentioned above, Duncan’s path lands him in prison. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Owen decides to become to be an enforcer of the law. There differences (job wise) would normally make them feel separated and isolated, but somehow that’s not the case. Their experiences and personalities help them to understand one another in a way no one else seems to understand.

Their need and want to “escape” has no means and that’s why you’ll be on then edge of your seat the entire time you read this novel. You’ll be rooting for both Duncan and Owen while reading and you’ll end up trying to predict what’s on the next page with no avail. I love it when I read a book and I’m not sure where the author is going to take me. Isn’t that the true beauty of any book, to be taken on a journey? Sometimes an unpredictable journey? When  you pick up Cataract City, you’ll be travelling down an unknown path of escape and a desire to find freedom.

Craig Davidson operates a great blog where he’s been posting about the book leading up to its on sale date. Check it out here

[Book Review] Firecracker by David Iserson

FirecrackerFor the last two weeks, I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump which, in due part, has to do with the beautiful weather and Pretty Little Liars. I’ve been on a hunt for a book to pull me out of this slump. When I received some books from my pal Amy (Penguin Canada), she included David Iserson’s Firecracker, for two reasons:

1. She knows that I occasionally like to read young adult
2. The cover of the book reads “A hilarious tragicomedy from New Girl and SNL writer David Iserson”

I crossed my fingers, turned off my Netflix (damn you PLL! Who the hell is ‘A’ anyway?) and dedicated a couple hours to this book and voila, all I wanted to do was spend the rest of my day reading it! It worked, so thank you to David Iserson for writing a novel that was fun and compelling at the same time.

Meet Astrid Krieger, a spoiled, rich girl who actually lives in a rocket ship. Don’t worry, it’s just a prototype, it doesn’t go off at any time in this book. When she’s pulled one too many pranks at her elite boarding school, Bristol, she’s expelled. Her army of “helpers” have ratted her out and now she’s forced to join public school! Can you believe it, PUBLIC SCHOOL! She goes from gourmet lunch options to cold meatloaf in the span of a day. Her new world can be described as a little fish in a big pond. She’s ostracized for being a princess and for being well off right away.

This wasn’t how I was used to being treated. I was used to being dislike, sure – even hate. I was used to being feared. I was not familiar with what it felt like to be openly mocked.

Forced to adapt to her surrounding, Astrid starts meeting people she’d like to befriend, I use that term lightly, as Astrid’s never really believed in having friends. She’s also advised by Dean Rein (a professor/psychologist from her previous school) that she should work on doing “real good things”. It’s important to note, that never has Astrid done something for other’s, everything she’s done leading up to this point has been to benefit her and her surroundings. Learning to remove herself from the equation and learn how to do good deeds to benefit others is a constant struggle.

This struggle and these life lessons are the basis of Firecracker. Astrid is forced to come to terms with her surroundings, she’s forced to realize past demons, but most of all Astrid begins to realize about who she is and how she wants to be received by others. She’s an actual firecracker, that will have you chuckling with her quip remarks and ball buster attitude. That being said, you’ll start to develop a soft spot for her and realize there’s a lot more to her cold exterior when she starts to break down her barriers.

A fun, summer read that delivers the same kind of humour you’ve come to expect on shows like New Girl and/or SNL, but with a little more context. If you’re looking for something quick and fun, then you’ll really enjoy Firecracker by David Iserson.

Oh and watch this fun video trailer read by some pretty cool celebrities:

*My thanks to Penguin Canada for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.