I told GoodReads that I would read 15 books last year. I read more than that, but I set the bar low, so that I could get a quick win. Meh!

I just set a 2017 goal of 36 books. That’s me committing to read three books a month, which is absolutely doable! But the trick is, writing the review when I’m done.

My 2017 Challenge: Write a short review on each book I complete and publish it! Here’s hoping I exceed this challenge.

So this what I’m reading this month:

I have been reading Luvvie’s blog, AwesomelyLuvvie.com,  for a few years, so when she published her debut book, it’s no surprise that it’s been on my reading list for months. I received it as a Christmas present because I have the best friends! I’m looking forward to reading her “act right” advice and her laugh-out-loud observations of this thing we call life.

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

Funny enough, this book was also a Christmas present from a friend many moons ago (seeing a trend here). I am re-reading it this year because I cannot remember what I thought of it the first time and I want to be more present to the present in 2017. This is the underlying message from the book, that all suffering originate from not living in the moment. You have to learn to let go of  your regrets from the past and fear about the future.

The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living by Ryan Holiday

I have always admired the works of Marcus Aurelius and here is a book that combines the works of the great Stoic philosophers: Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Seneca in bite-sized pieces. Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman have organized each month into themes. January is the month of clarity and the year begins with Epictetus’s insight into control and choice:

The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own…

and I’m still reading:

I got hooked on this book series because I binge-watched the show Outlander (all two seasons) on Netflix. I’m on Book 5, after having devoured 1 through 4 in one month. This is quite a feat because these books are actually tomes. I’ll admit I’ve lost a bit of my steam but I’ve spent so much time with these characters, I kinda miss them when I haven’t read a few pages in a while.

I love hearing from you…what are you reading? And do you have any recommendations on what I should read next? This is my invitation to you to share below!

i like bigHello Loves!

Today is National Reading Day and in celebration of this annual event I’m sharing with you my current read: Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi.

My favourite quote from the book thus far is:
“I believe that every conversation you have is an invitation to risk revealing the real you.”

BOOM!!

In celebration of National Reading Day…what are you reading? Feel free to share below.

And if you’re looking for some inspiration, here are some “unexpected titles” that celebrate the glorious-ness that is reading for you to consider.

I read a whole lot. A fact you wouldn’t know because the number of reviews published on this blog is not a true reflection of the number of books I actually read…another case of my Drafts Folder working overtime.

Anyhoo, I was fortunate to read books this year that moved me in a very real way, so much that they left a lasting impression on me and my life. And then of course there were the duds but thankfully not very many.

The most influential book I read this year was I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi. Getting my finances in order was a major priority over the last 12 months and this book provided much-needed guidance on doing just that.

The Darkest ChildMy OH-EM-GEE-I-LOOOOVE-THIS book for 2014 is The Darkest Child by Delores Phillips. This book was a page-turner I devoured in eight hours…I shit you not! It was that good.

Unfortunately, I learned that the author, Delores died earlier this year. So there is no chance of a follow-up story or even reaching out to her for answers. I have so many questions. But such is life. SO now I have to be content with recommending it to everybody and hoping to start a conversation about it.

This writing business is soul work sometimes and it takes a whole lot out of you most times. The book that helped me hone my writing craft is Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. It just may be my absolute favourite book on writing.

One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore. Another is that writing motivates you to look closely at life, at life as it lurches by and tramps around. – Anne Lamott

The book I reread this year and totally recommend is The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. It’s the kind of book you want to reread every year…if only as a reminder that life is short. Get busy living NOW.

Honorable mention goes to Wishing for Wings by Debbie Jacob because it changed my perspective on a forgotten bunch of young men in Trinidad & Tobago.

Debbie is a local author who taught English to young men imprisoned for crimes that included murder and robbery. I had the awesome pleasure of meeting the author and being able to get some of my questions answered. This book was truly an eye-opener and I will write a review on soon. It is a definite must read.

The book I started at the beginning of the year, and is still reading…because ironically I find it absolutely boring is The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer. It’s long and kinda meh. I hope to finish it before the end of the year…not holding my breath though.

Already on my reading list for 2015:

And now it’s your turn.

Tell me, what books have you read this year, that you recommend I put on my reading list for 2015?

The Darkest Child
The Darkest Child
by Delores Phillips

My rating* – 5

This book gets a 5 because I didn’t just read it…I lived it and I LOVED IT!

Set in Georgia in the late 50’s you can expect the elements of that time in history – racism, lynchings, fighting for equality – but that is all happening in the background. This story is about Rozelle Quinn or Miss Rosie, narrated by Tangy Mae Quinn her 7th and darkest child.

Tangy Mae is coming of age in time when Georgia was also coming of age. She is intelligent, she wants to finish school when finishing the 11th grade is unheard of in her family, she is curious about boys and she (like the rest of her siblings) is a victim of severe abuse. Her abuser? Miss Rosie!!!

Miss Rosie is freaking crazy. You want to look away, you keep praying for a silver lining and you continue reading because in your heart of hearts you just know it cannot get any worse, it just can’t….and then it does. And after only three chapters in you will be plotting the most painful death you can imagine for Miss Rosie’s. At least I was.

Delores Phillips delivered on this her debut novel. The plot was well-crafted and the themes were all relatable despite the extreme dysfunction. There is deep love and bitter hate existing in the same space. I mean this is the kind of story that book clubs are created for – it was chosen as this month’s pick for my club and I cannot wait to discuss this horrific yet somehow beautiful story.

Some of my favourites line were:

    “In less than five minutes our mother had taught us to never touch her metal box, and the true meaning of fear. I wondered that day if I was the only one in the room who knew that there was something terribly wrong with our mother.”

    “Satan is not going to leave. The only way to get him out is to invite God in, and God is not welcome in my mother’s house.”

    “I touch my scar to remind myself that I am not a coward. I am a Quinn.”

The Darkest Child is the most engrossing story I have read since Room by Emma Donoghue. I devoured it in just over eight hours and I didn’t want it to end. I wanted it to go on and on so that I could get some closure. But it when it ended it was in the perfect way. You have to read this book. You just have to. If only to come back here and discuss it.

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*my personal quality ratings are the scores I give books on a scale of 0-5 based on my personal opinion of a book. 0 is “birdcage liner” and 5 is “off-the-hook good”


The Night Circus
by Erin Morgenstern

My rating* – 2.9

This review contains spoilers.

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance. – Book Description courtesy GoodReads

I wanted to like this book and I tried hard to. But like the two magicians trapped in this monochromatic prison of their own “creation”…I too felt trapped in the imagination of Erin Morgenstern. And this was not a good thing.

“Fierce competition” my ass. This “competition” was a beautiful ballet of tit for tat. Nothing fierce about it. While reading this book I kept getting the feeling that the writer was envisioning how the scenes would look on the silver screen. While at first tolerable, Morgenstern went into so much detail in some cases about the “amazements” of the circus that after a while it was just boring. She would do well to learn that it’s okay to let the reader’s imagination do the heavy lifting sometimes.

There are two suicides and a murder, so there is that. But it felt gratuitous somehow. This circus does not have animals thank the literary gods for that, but there are ageless magicians with no shadows (vampires?) and some ghosts thrown in for good measure. There is glass-shattering sex which made me laugh out loud. Also not a good thing. Celia and Marco’s love story is wooden and there were shocks of red hair everywhere. Oh and Morgenstern must have said the circus smelled like caramel at least 10 times.

I gave this book an almost 3, because the prose was well written but other than that I just wanted it to get to its point. I think some of the scenes will be magnificent to see on-screen – the book is being made into a movie this year so Morgenstern has achieved her real goal.

My favourite line was:

    Wine is bottled poetry.

Because you will need lots of it to get through this book. There are fifteen different POVs and keeping up with the time jumps gets tedious very quickly. Good luck making the relevant connections. This book had potential because it deals with some pretty heavy stuff – love, death and living a life worth living, dreams and dreaming and how we perceive the world around us. But it never quite gets there. The story is slow and the descriptions of everything while beautiful is ultimately boring.

I will however, go see the movie because Hollywood magic – beautiful actors, awesome soundtrack and the power of green screens, with an explosion thrown in – just might take this story to level it was trying so hard to achieve otherwise.

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*my personal quality ratings are the scores I give books on a scale of 0-5 based on my personal opinion of a book. 0 is “birdcage liner” and 5 is “off-the-hook good”