The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

BLOG“To many, I was myth incarnate, the embodiment of a most superb legend, a fairy tale.”

Ava is a normal girl, with one unique difference: she was born with the wings of a bird.  She is from a line of women with odd abilities and traits, but hers is one that is quite noticeable.  The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender introduces us to Ava’s family and walks us through their history, struggles and misfortunes, particularly when it comes to love. There are many stories told throughout, narrated by Ava, which lead us to her own story and her life.

The words in the title itself best describe this book; it is strange and it is beautiful.  Strange in concept and absolutely beautiful in the writing, storytelling, and delivery.  There are stories within stories and each character that plays a part is given a rich and interesting background.  Ava’s narration is captivating and her emotions are captured and related wonderfully.  This is a book for fans of magical realism and storytelling.  It is not a book that is full of dialogue and action.  Instead it is one that focuses on the stories and depth of its characters.  For a strange and beautiful read, I would absolutely recommend The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender. 

Favourite passage: “I’ve been told things happen as they should: My grandmother fell in love three times before her nineteenth birthday.  My mother found love with the neighbour boy when she was six.  And I, I was born with wings, a misfit who didn’t dare expect something as grandiose as love.  It’s our fate, our destiny, that determines such things, isn’t it?

Perhaps that was just something I told myself.  Because what else was there for me – an aberration, an untouchable, an outsider?  What could I say when I was alone at night and the shadows came?  How else could I calm the thud of my beating heart but with the words: This is my fate.  What else was there to do but blindly follow its path?”

Do Your Om Thing by Rebecca Pacheco

“Yoga is not useful to a life we should live, in a world we wish we had. It is meant for our lives now in this world, as it is. It is not about manufacturing a utopian existence free of setbacks; it’s about removing obstacles whenever possible and mastering our own attention and perception when it’s not.”

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Do Your Om Thing: Bending Yoga Tradition to Fit Your Modern Life is a comprehensive guide to yoga and ways in which we can take our practice off the mat and into our daily lives.  It is divided into four sections: Yoga: Ancient and Modern, The Body, The Mind, The Spirit.

The book is well organized and written in a very relatable way.  I enjoyed all the sections and learned a lot from each, particularly The Body and The Mind. There is a lot of information and material out there about yoga, along with quite a few misconceptions.  Do Your Om Thing condenses all that information and addresses the misconceptions, presenting the key aspects of yoga, helpful notes, exercises and their benefits.  Above all, it shows us ways we can adapt the practice to our lives.  I feel this is a great book for anyone looking to deepen their yoga practice and their knowledge.  It is also a great resource for those looking to try yoga but would like a better understanding of the subject.  Do Your Om Thing is an informative and helpful guide.

Favourite quote: “Stop fleeing the moment and your Self in favour of quick comforts. Look inside. Pull up a chair in the quiet room of your own mind and learn to be comfortable there. Find happiness there. If you can’t, you will not find it elsewhere.”

The Intangible Beauty of Books

Books give us a place to go when we have to stay where we are.”

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Sometimes circumstances are what they are and the difficulties and challenges we face seem to be a steady force in our lives.  During these times we can step away for brief moments and lose ourselves in other worlds, other lives.  And sometimes these moments provide not only an escape, but beautiful glimmers of hope.  Hope in the possibility of better days and more peaceful nights. Continue reading “The Intangible Beauty of Books”

The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss by Max Wirestone

Print“The only time I ever met Jonah Long he was wearing a fake beard, a blue pin-striped captain’s outfit, and a toy pipe that blew soap bubbles.”

A bad break-up, a long period of unemployment, and a string of failed job interviews.  That is Dahlia Moss’ life.  That is until she is hired as a private detective by rich boy Jonah Long.  Her mission: confront the thief of the Bejeweled Spear of Infinite Piercing from the online game Kingdoms of Zoth, and retrieve it.  Things take a turn when Jonah Long is found dead and Dahlia is thrown into the world of online gaming and the search for a killer.

Dahlia, you had me at Murder She Wrote.

The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss is a fun, geeky adventure for geeks and non-geeks alike.  But lets face it, everyone has geeked out about something at some point. Continue reading “The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss by Max Wirestone”

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

BLOG“From the ground, we stand;
From our ships, we live;
By the stars, we hope.”

Exceptionally smart and undeniably charming, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is the tale of a crew of nine diverse characters, their personal journeys, and one grand mission.  We start by meeting a woman named Rosemary who has been hired as a clerk on a tunnelling ship.  The job of the ship is to punch holes in space, creating a direct route between locations.  The ship is comprised of a crew of individuals of various species, each with interesting backgrounds and personalities.  When a small, distant planet with a violent and mysterious history is accepted into the Galactic Commons, the crew is hired to make the long trip there and punch a tunnel that would allow quick back and forth travel.  Throughout the course of the journey, we get to know the characters, learn about their lives, and enter an incredible galaxy.

Becky Chambers creates a galaxy of different worlds and species with a fascinating history.  Everything is very well developed and springs to life page after page.  It just works on every level; the characters, the dialogue, the description, and it is apparent that it was all done with great care and thought.

This is not your typical science fiction story.  It is less an action packed whirlwind through space, and more of a character-centred journey that explores the complexities of the galaxy and asks important questions.  It provides an interesting view of Humans through the eyes of different species as well as our own biases when looking outside ourselves.  There were a number of points in the book where the author could have gone the standard route, but she stays true to her characters and delivers a story that is captivating, endearing, and thought-provoking.  This is a book I will definitely be re-reading for many years to come.

Favourite passage: “The truth is, Rosemary, that you are capable of anything. Good or bad. You always have been, and you always will be. Given the right push, you, too, could do horrible things. That darkness exists within all of us. You think every soldier who picked up a cutter gun was a bad person? No. She was just doing what the soldier next to her was doing, who was doing what the soldier next to her was doing, and so on and so on. And I bet most of them — not all, but most — who made it through the war spent a long time after trying to understand what they’d done. Wondering how they ever could have done it in the first place. Wondering when killing became so comfortable.”

RANKING| Chief Inspector Gamache Mystery Series Novels

IMG_2917The Chief Inspector Gamache Mystery Series is based around Armand Gamache, the Chief Inspector of Homicide of the Sûreté du Québec.  It follows him and his partner Jean Guy along with a variety of characters of a small fictional Quebec village called Three Pines.  The novels are well-written, suspenseful, and I have been a big fan ever since I stumbled across the eight book in the series, The Beautiful Mystery a couple of years ago.  Soon after, I had read each book and have continued to follow the series ever since.  Some books I enjoyed a lot, others a little less, and a couple not so much.  Here is my ranking of the books in the series, from my favourite to least favourite.  (no spoilers)

1. Still Life
My favourite book is also the first one in the series.  Still Life introduces us to Chief Inspector Gamache who is called in to investigate a suspicious death in the village of Three Pines.  It is a great introduction to the series and along with getting to know all the characters, the investigation of a very mysterious death makes for a great read.  Continue reading “RANKING| Chief Inspector Gamache Mystery Series Novels”

The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny

BLOG“Hardly a day goes by when nine-year-old Laurent Lepage doesn’t cry wolf. “

Young Laurent has been crying wolf for years. With a big imagination and a tendency towards sensationalism, his cries and warnings had ceased to be taken seriously.  After a shocking discovery it appears that there was truth to Laurent’s latest warning.  The discovery uncovers a long hidden secret and unearths a dark history with far reaching consequences.

This is the eleventh book in the Chief Inspector Gamache series.  As always, Louise Penny weaves a page-turning mystery, taking us back to the village of Three Pines and bringing with it all the great characters the fans of the series have come to love.

This is my favourite mystery series and I’m always eagerly awaiting the next release.  The Nature of the Beast does not disappoint and as with the previous books, I couldn’t put it down.  The author has a strong ability in putting together an intriguing story that will keep you guessing, combined with interesting and likeable characters.  This book delivers all that and introduces new characters along with a new threat, which gives us an idea of where the series may go from here.

While I have enjoyed all the books so far I do prefer the earlier ones, which had a simplicity and charm to them that is not as evident in the later works. Each new book seems to take on larger threats and more one-dimensional “bad guys.”  The Nature of the Beast is a page-turning mystery that I feel fans of the series will enjoy. However, if you have not read Louise Penny’s previous books, I recommend you start from the beginning of the series in order to get to know the characters and appreciate the overall progression.

Favourite quote: “But they both knew that words were weapons too, and when fashioned into a story their power was almost limitless.”