Most Anticipated June Releases

There are so many interesting books coming out over the summer months, which I’m very much looking forward to.  Each month is full of great releases, so I thought I would break it down and share what books have caught my attention.  These are my most anticipated releases for the month of June:

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Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler
A modern take on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, Vinegar Girl tells the story of Kate who feels stuck running the house of her offbeat scientist father.  When his brilliant lab assistant may be deported, he concocts a crazy plan to enable him to stay and will need Kate’s help to do it.

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Another interesting love story from an author that has brought us so many great summer reads.  One True Loves tells the story of a woman who has to choose between a husband she thought was dead and her new fiancé who helped her heal after the loss.

Romeo and/or Juliet by Ryan North
A choose your own path adventure!
“What if Romeo never met Juliet? What if Juliet got really buff instead of moping around the castle all day? What if they teamed up to take over Verona with robot suits?”  I want to know the answers to those questions. 🙂

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The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
A secret library society that travels to alternate realities to retrieve books in order to preserve the works.  Irene is sent on a mission to retrieve a book of Grimm’s Fairy Tales in an alternate London that is infested with chaos, and along with her assistant Kai she is thrown into a dangerous adventure.

We Could Be Beautiful by Swan Huntley
Catherine is wealthy and seemingly has it all, however with men who only seem to be interested in her money she fears that she will never have a family of her own.  When she meets the handsome William everything seems to be falling into place, until strange signs appear and the personal connection he has to her family may hold the answer to whatever is being kept secret.

Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty by Ramona Ausubel
It is 1976 in New England and Edgar and Fern are married with three children.  When they discover that the family fortune they depend on is gone, their distress leads them in unexpected directions.

What books are you looking forward to? 🙂

Make Me Remake Me by Gillian Cott

IMG_1810“I realized that I deserved romance if I dreamt it and adventure if I desired it.”

With a desire to travel and expand beyond what is familiar, Gillian Cott embarked on an adventure by saying “Yes!” to an opportunity to live on a farm in Burgundy, France.  A decision which would lead her to Paris, Prague, Montreal, and New York, among others.  Through a combination of poetry and prose, she recounts moments, people, and locations that were significant to her experience, along with the feelings that came with those moments.

Walking on Windy Days

Embrace all colours and feelings of life
like the wet autumn leaves that stick together
crushed under boots
but still bold

At times, you still feel inexplicably alone
more like the last leaf left on a tree
begging to fall
to feel more than
just yourself
shaking against the wind.

Make Me Remake Me: Writing Myself Across Two Continents is a lovely little book that beautifully conveys the author’s feelings about the different and new places she found herself along with romantic hopes, desires, and disappointments.  The combination of prose and poetry works very well and I loved the writing style, finding myself quite often marking phrases that particularly struck me.  Mostly this is a book about self-discovery, finding your place in the world, learning to love yourself and not be defined by another.

Top Five Summer Reads

IMG_1846“One benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to read by.” – Jeanette Walls, The Glass Castle

Summer is such a wonderful season for reading.  Even with work, classes, or whatever activities occupy your time, there is an atmosphere of relaxation.  After we have fulfilled our daily obligations we can enjoy the beautiful weather, breathe in the fresh air, and be very thankful that the winter is well behind us.  When I think of great summer reads I think of page-turning stories that you can’t help but get lost in.  These are my favourite summer reads from my virtual bookshelf:

1. 300 Days of Sun by Deborah Lawrenson
In order to get away from career and relationship troubles, Joanna decides to embark on a trip to Faro, Portugal where she meets Nathan, a man in search of information on a kidnapping that occurred decades ago.  Nathan asks Joanna for her help with his investigation due to her background in journalism.  Their search leads them to a book that was sold as a work of fiction but in truth may hold the answers they are looking for.  A total page-turner that brings the sights and sounds of Portugal to life.

2. Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Finding herself stuck and lost in life, twenty-nine year old Hannah Martin moves back to her hometown of Los Angeles, determined to turn her life around.  Upon her return, her best friend Gabby throws her a welcome home party where Hannah runs into her high school love, Ethan.  As Gabby is set to leave the party, Hannah has the choice of either going home with Gabby or staying out later with Ethan.  As we all know, choices have consequences. The book splits into two timelines showing us what happens with each scenario.  A fascinating look into how one choice can affect the entire course of a person’s life. Continue reading “Top Five Summer Reads”

The Yoga of Max’s Discontent by Karan Bajaj

IMG_1734“I see the faces that stop by my cart here. Their smiles are hollow, their eyes are hungry. The yogi’s faces are different. Silent, complete. Like the mountains around them. Asking no questions, seeking no answers, just certain, as though they knew exactly who they were.”

The Yoga of Max’s Discontent is the story of one man’s spiritual journey that takes him from New York to India. Growing up under difficult conditions as a child of Greek immigrants, Max worked hard to achieve success and the ideal life as a Wall Street analyst. With the death of his mother and the growing disillusion with his life, Max embarks on a trip to India.  However, this trip is not as simple or straightforward as Max may have believed and it is one that will test him and change him.

As someone who loves stories about great journeys, personal quests, and self-discovery, The Yoga of Max’s Discontent was one of my most anticipated releases.  While there are some really good aspects to the novel as a whole, it unfortunately fell short of expectations and I couldn’t help but be disappointed.  The positives for me included the descriptions of the different settings and the things Max encountered, in which the author does a wonderful job of bringing these places to life.  I also liked that he differentiated between those who are serious spiritual seekers and those who are just curious, going for a quick fix of spirituality.  It also showcases internal struggle along with outward challenges.

What didn’t work for me was the character of Max who came across as selfish and not very likable, therefore I struggled to connect to him or his journey.  There is not a lot of lead up to his decision to leave his life behind and I did not fully understand his dissatisfaction or internal turmoil.  More of a preamble showing Max’s discontent that led him to embark on his journey would have made his later decisions easier to accept and understand.  While many parts of his experiences are quite interesting, those towards the end of the book became unbelievable along with Max’s abilities.  The lack of connection and understanding of Max as a character definitely clouded his overall journey.

If you enjoy stories of spiritual discovery, I would still recommend you give The Yoga of Max’s Discontent a try.  It is a book many people seem to have enjoyed and connected to. While it turned out to not be for me, it could be something that you may connect to as well.

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

IMG_1759“There I was, this tiny little thing at the bottom of the hole, lying on my back in the palm of a giant metal hand.”

Little Rose is riding her new bicycle when she falls into a large square hole. The hole itself is strange, with complex carvings that emit a green glow, however the strangest thing about it is viewed by the firemen who come to Rose’s rescue.  What they see is a young girl lying in a giant metal hand. Almost two decades later, there are no answers to explain this discovery and one of the people at the center of the current investigation is Rose herself who has gone on to become a physicist and to lead the secret team that is uncovering the mystery and putting the puzzle pieces together.  Whatever the answers are, it is obvious that the team is on the verge of something historic with unknown repercussions.

Told through mostly an interview format, Sleeping Giants is a page-turning novel that looks at our place in not only our world but the universe, and the meaning behind a discovery that has the potential to be used for peace and destruction.  Initially I was unsure how the interview format would work throughout an entire novel, however I found it was done very well and the story had my full attention from the start. The author does an excellent job of using a no-name, anonymous figure to administer the questions and take us through the timeline of events, while also being an active participant in what is happening.  While the format works, I would have liked more log entries from individual characters, along with newspaper clips showing the outside view and take on certain events that occur throughout.

I would recommend Sleeping Giants to fans of science-fiction and feel it is best enjoyed by going into it with limited preconceptions. It is a story that looks at the big picture and provides an excellent foundation for what is sure to be an intriguing series. Oh that ending!

The Regional Office Is Under Attack! by Manuel Gonzales

IMG_1695“If you found yourself facing a problem, in other words, that did not appear easily solved, the good folk at the Regional Office were the ones who could solve it.
But not today.
Almost any day but today.
Because today, the Regional Office is under attack.”

Headed by the enigmatic Oyemi and her partner Mr. Niles, the Regional Office is home to a number of powerful female assassins who are recruited to fight against evil forces.  Oyemi’s oracles prophesize that one of their own will turn against them, and in a matter of time, the Regional Office is under attack.  There are two main points of view in the novel through which we get to learn about the the organization, the attack, and the backstory.  Rose is a young recruit who is one of the key players in the attack against the Regional Office, determined to prove herself to those who recruited her for the mission. On the other side is Sarah, who was taken in by the Regional Office as a young woman after the disappearance of her mother, and rumor is she has a mechanical arm.  Rose and Sarah’s stories intersect, but while we get each of their perspectives during the attack, we also get flashbacks to their earlier years and how they came to be involved with the Regional Office. Interspersed throughout is also a newspaper/documented account of the organization and how everything unfolded.

The main thing I can say about The Regional Office Is Under Attack! is that it is one fun read.  It is an action-packed adventure with interesting characters that completely captured my attention.  The author’s use of two main points of view, switching between Rose and Sarah works incredibly well, drawing the story forward and revealing the little details and connections.  Some of my favourite sections came from the newspaper/documented accounts of the Regional Office, which provided more of a big picture of what was happening.  The writing style is kind of quirky and took a little while to get used to, however I ended up really enjoying the sarcasm of it all.  With the book overall being such a fun adventure, the way everything wraps up feels a little… ordinary.  At the end I wanted more of the story explored, but if the biggest issue you have after finishing a book is that you want more, I would definitely call that a success.

Innocents and Others by Dana Spiotta

IMG_1684“Because what is love, if not listening, as uninflected – as uncontained – as possible.”

A uniquely presented story, Innocents and Others follows two women, Meadow and Carrie, who became best friends as teenagers in the ’80s and who both go on to become filmmakers.  Meadow takes the craft very seriously and is of the tortured genus variety, while Carrie enjoys the fun and humorous aspects of movies.  The book largely focuses on Meadow and her experiences in filmmaking, and we get to know Carrie mostly through her relationship with Meadow.  Another perspective present throughout the novel is that of Jelly, a woman who cold calls successful men in the entertainment industry as a way to connect using the power of listening.  We learn about her past and what brought her to that point.  Eventually, Jelly’s story intersects with Meadow and Carrie, providing a view of filmmaking from a different angle.

On the surface this is a story about filmmaking, however the author delves deeper into themes of friendship, connection, belonging, feminism, self-awareness, and the narrative through which we choose to present a story. The book switches from three different perspectives, those of Meadow, Carrie, and Jelly.  It also switches from different time periods, showing the start of Meadow and Carrie’s friendship to their development as filmmakers and the contrasting paths they take.  We also get to see Jelly’s story, through past and present relationships.  By far, Jelly’s perspective was the one I found most captivating and I would have loved an entire book with her story.  There is so much emotion and vulnerability that comes across with her character, which is incredibly engaging.  What especially stood out for me were her thoughts on the importance of listening:

“You listened.  The opposite were the people who started to speak the second someone finished talking or playing or singing.  They practically overlapped the person because they were so excited to render their thoughts into speech. They couldn’t wait to get their words into it and make it theirs.  They couldn’t stand the idea of not having a part in it.  They spent the whole experience formulating their response, because their response is the only thing they value.”

It is a well written novel with some lovely passages.  It does go quite in-depth into filmmaking, so if it is a subject you are not interested in it can come across a little too descriptive at times.  I also found the flow of the novel to not be quite as fluid as I would have liked, due to the different perspectives and time periods explored.  However, there is something very beautiful and understated about Innocents and Others that makes it a very worthy read.