Open Book by Jessica Simpson

BLOGWell, this was a pleasant surprise. I rarely read celebrity memoirs, but earlier this week, while looking for something to listen to, I decided to give the audiobook for Jessica Simpson’s memoir, Open Book a try. As a teen in the era of pop stars and boybands, and not to mention a bit of a gossip-addict in the early 2000’s, I was curious to hear Jessica’s story. What I found was a well-done book that is truly heartfelt and personal, with the audiobook being narrated by Jessica herself. She shares stories from childhood, her rise to fame, her relationships, her struggle with alcohol, and her life now. She is honest and open about the body image issues that developed as she entered the music industry and the pressures placed on her to lose weight and fit into the pop star mold of the time. Thinking back to that era and remembering all the tweens and teens trying to emulate that image (myself included), and now knowing that in Jessica’s case she was miserable, uncomfortable, and starving in order to fit that image herself. An image dictated by a man in a suit.

I enjoyed listening to Jessica tell her story, from the emotional, difficult topics to the more lighthearted and fun. She has a great sense of humour and doesn’t take herself too seriously. With her memoir, you do get to know her as a person, and I couldn’t help but feel sad for the way she had been treated and mocked by the media and the public. This book definitely leaves you with a sense of the individual who is telling her story, and how genuine and kind she is. She seems to be in a better place now, and I hope she is happy.

If you are looking for an audiobook to listen to and enjoy memoirs, or maybe have a curiosity about the pop star-centric world of the 2000’s, I feel that Open Book is definitely worth a listen.

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

BLOG“The planet was beautiful. The planet was horrible. The planet was full of people, and they were beautiful and horrible too.”

*Because this novel is a sequel, this review may contain slight spoilers for The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet.

A Closed and Common Orbit is a stand-alone sequel to one of my favourite science-fiction books, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. In the original novel, we were introduced to a crew aboard an intergalactic ship called the Wayfarer, and followed their journey to a small, angry planet. Here, we follow the character of Lovelace, who served as an artificial intelligence system for the Wayfarer and is on her own path following the events of the first novel. She finds herself in a new body and with no memory of prior events after a full system shut-down, and is slowly figuring out the world and her place within it. Alongside her is Pepper, an engineer with a difficult and painful past, who is determined to help Lovelace.

The novel takes turns, chapter by chapter, following Lovelace’s current journey and telling a story from the past. There is no grand plot or action, instead the focus is on the characters and their lives. While The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet felt more expansive as we got to know different planets and beings, A Closed and Common Orbit feels more contained. I love reading character-based stories so I was really at home with this one. It took me a few chapters to get into the rhythm of the novel with the switch in story from chapter to chapter, but once I got into the groove I felt connected to the characters and their narrative. The two stories compliment one another well. As with her previous novel, Becky Chambers does an exceptional job of bringing fascinating worlds to life and giving depth and emotion to characters that makes everything feel so very real. By the time I finished the last page, I have to confess I was a little teary-eyed. Continue reading “A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers”

Books On My “Someday” List

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Ah, the “someday” list. You know which books I am referring to. The ones that have been sitting on your TBR (to be read) list for years and you absolutely want to read them, but the moment is never quite now. Maybe they are on the longer side and require a time commitment, or maybe they contain heavier subject matter that calls for the right time and mind set in order to be processed. For me, these two reasons definitely apply, particularly books that deal with topics that are not easy to read about. In these instances, as much as I may hear wonderful things about a novel, it will linger on my TBR for a long time. Another kind of book that tends to make a home on my “someday” list is one that has a whole lot of hype surrounding it. There are many books I have read as a result of hype and most of the time it has not worked out, but that is a topic for another time. Recently, I decided to start tackling my “somedays” and have chosen four books that I have been dancing around for many years. Continue reading “Books On My “Someday” List”

The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

BLOG“A sea roared inside her and made demands, but she waded it, she bobbed up, took a breath, and opened her eyes to the cold winter morning. Then she rose because the day was there, the world was there, and she wanted to be part of it.”

Antonina Beaulieau is in the midst of her first Grand Season. During this time, her life is to be filled with parties where she will ideally find a suitor and cement a place in high society. But Antonina is not a typical young lady. Her telekinetic powers had always made her somewhat of an outcast, but more than that, she does not particularly care or adhere to “proper” lady behaviour. When she meets Hector Auvray, a famous telekinetic performer, she is intrigued by his abilities and more and more flattered by his attention. Hector, however, has a hidden motive that lies behind his interest in Antonina; his quest to recapture a long lost love. What unfolds is a tale of love and duplicity, with a touch of the supernatural.

After reading Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s latest novel, Gods of Jade & Shadow, I was inspired to pick up The Beautiful Ones, which was the only novel of hers that I hadn’t read. Quite simply, I loved this book. I feel that this was a case of the right story at the right time, and I found myself completely glued to each page and unable to put it down. Moreno-Garcia is an exceptional writer, and in The Beautiful Ones she creates characters that are compelling and three-dimensional. There was depth and reason, a driving force, behind their actions that I found intriguing. While there is a fantasy aspect to this novel it is mainly a historical romance. The use of telekinesis is sprinkled throughout but does not play a key role. So if you enjoy a good historical romance, this is a great option. It completely hit the mark for me, and deserves five stars for the sheer enjoyment it brought me, and the fact that I could not put it down. Oh how I love when that happens. 🙂

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

BLOG“Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.”

As the daughter of a revered general, Kestrel has two options in life: join the military or get married. Neither appeals to her as she does not posses a natural skill for combat, and any marriage at this point in her life would be purely out of obligation. During an outing to the market she stumbles across a slave auction and on impulse and instinct she places a winning bid on a young man she feels an unexpected connection to. Over time, the bond between Kestrel and Arin grows, but there is much left unsaid. Arin has a secret and once events are set in motion, there will be no turning back.

I have to admit that I love a good YA fantasy novel. Especially during cold winter days, when a cozy blanket, a hot drink, and an escape into a fantastical world is a recipe for a wonderfully relaxing evening. The Winner’s Curse has been popping up on my Goodreads page quite consistently, so when I was looking for a new fantasy read I decided to finally give it a go. It is an easy read, and one you can absolutely breeze through, however, it is not one that is particularly memorable for me. I enjoyed the writing in this novel, and it is obvious that the author is very skilled at what she does. Overall, the story just fell flat for me. Not a whole lot happens in the first half of the story, which I wouldn’t mind if the connection between Kestrel and Arin was better developed. I found myself not connecting to either and didn’t really buy their connection. So, once the story really takes off, I was not at all invested in the events that were unfolding. Which is a shame because the latter part of the novel does have a level of intrigue and entertainment that I would have loved had I at all felt invested or interested in the characters. Ultimately, I am glad I gave this book a read, but I will not continue on with the series.