The Word Exchange Alena Graedon

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I liked this book, it was almost a love letter to words and books, which I can appreciate so much.

I am an old soul, I hate e-readers and wish everyone still read books, looked at each other more and stuck up small talk conversations.  Looks like Graedon feels the same way I do, with her first novel The Word Exchange. 

The book has a lot of good, a sentiment I can keep behind and some very stunning parts. But overall the story is a little lacking, and the writing can be clunky.

It starts with Ana’s father going missing and people starting to come down with “the word flu”, a disease where speaking becomes difficult, and makes you very sick. It is a fast romp of a story and has a very intersting story line but in the end, it just didn’t hold me.

3.4/5 stars.

Antsy

Antsy

I like the word antsy, to describe how I am feeling.
A hundred million ants, crawling up and down my arms.
With nowhere to go, and no place to be.
They can’t get off my arms,
nor escape my body,
but then neither can I.

Too many coffee cups,
and not enough movement.
Head pounding like a million, tiny bottles of cement,
rattling.
They can’t seem to break free either.
Tapped inside my mind.
It’s a hard place to get out of.

I feel like getting drunk, because I know that will cut down the walls;
shake up some cement.
Feel like running away, down the street until I see somebody I know,
ask them to Charlies.

I feel like messing things up with my boyfriend, just to get a rise.
To make things messy, to get some attention.

Some of the ants might fall off.

 

And the Mountain Echoed- Book Review

I am someone who works and advocates with immigrants and refugees and who strongly believes that all people deserve a home, a place where they feel safe. Perhaps that is why I was so intrigued and pulled into Khaled Hosseini’s “And the Mountains Echoed” appealed to me so. Khaled Hosseini himself came as a political refugee from Afghanistan to America and all of his books have focused on Afghanistan. “And the Mountains Echoed” is no different. It focuses on the heart-breaking story of a family, and then descends and transcends though many different countries, time periods and characters. ALL of them fascinated me. I thought they Hosseini does an excellent job of moving back and forth between time and characters, all the while being so damn fascinating. It is the kind of book that grabbed a hold of me tightly and did not let go. It has sadness, realness, hope and love. It has everything, and a sort of magic that goes through it all. I loved the connection that exists between brother and sisters, servant and boss, mother and adopted daughter. Not all relationships are created equal. The story starts off with Abdullah and Pari’s father telling them a story, a treasure that happened few and far between, but he could be a story teller when he wanted. A magical story teller. This idea of stories and truth and reality is a theme throughout the novel. I don’t want to say much more, because I don’t want to spoil the story. I want you to read it. I want everyone to read it. It is a powerful story, a big story, a rip your heart open story. mountains

“Watch How We Walk” by Jennifer LoveGrove – Book Review

Watch How We Walk- Jennifer LoveGrove- ECW Press- 315 pages- 2014

Emily is often consumed by guilt, it eats her, it keeps her awake, it haunts her in her small apartment, and I can understand her. As someone who was raised in a religious family herself (to some extent) I often joke about the old “Catholic guilt” that can come rushing up, pounding you in the head, forcing you to sit down for dizziness.

But Emily had it much worse than me.

Watch How We Walk is about sisters Emily and Lenora, growing up in a Jehovah’s Witness family. The isolation, the rules, the not talking, the unknowing. The story takes us through the change of Lenora as she lives her life as a teenager and begins to break away from the Jehovah’s community and become “wordly”. A lot of the book is told from 10 year old Emily’s eyes and her not understanding what is happening all around her. This is a subject that I often ponder myself, children, believing in something that they are told, not understanding choices or implications of what their parents tell them to believe and then eventually gaining the consciousness to question it. I was glad to see LoveGrove explore this. It is an inside look at the community of Jehovah’s witnesses, at least in this particular time and place, although a disturbing one.

The books goes back and forth between Emily’s memories of this time as a child and her life as a young adult alone in the city. Both voices are sad and persistent and aching with loneliness.

I thought the book was beautifully written and very fast-paced. I read it quickly and I really enjoyed the story. I have always been interested in religion and seeing inside communities that we might not get to know much about otherwise. I thought the characters of Emily and Lenora were eerie, wonderful and painstakingly real. They are stuck with me.

Emily’s thoughts kept me awake and came to me in a dream.

I liked the book and would recommend it. I just wish we could have heard a little more about Emily as an adult, how she become so separated from her parents. I wanted to know more about how she got to where she was and if she would ever see them again. What happened to Uncle Tyler?

I suppose with any good book, you are left wanting more.

watch how we walk

Come Back Dear Sun- Children’s Book Review

I recently decided to review my first children’s book, Come Back Dear Sun by Geena Bean, Illustrated by Cheri Webber and I think I chose a good one to start with!

Come Back Dear Sun is a delight, a good lesson for children and has wonderful illustrations. I don’t have children of my own, but I already have a list of children I know that would love to read it, whom I will pass it on to.

The sun is sad because children are not paying much attention to her, staying inside with their video games and TV shows. The sun figures if she is not appreciated, she might as well move on.

But she has some friends that miss her and Kaylee, Mattie, Lilly and Fran have a plan and they ask their friend the moon to help them.

You’ll have to wait and see if the sun gets their message.

I recommend anyone to check out this book for the kids. It is a lesson well read.

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The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd- Book Review

wings

Ever since I was a young girl and I read about the Underground Railroad, I have been interested in the history of slavery. It has dictated a lot of my reading and studying. It pains my soul, hurts to read and makes breathing difficult. But it happened. And it is something that we owe the people who had to bear the pain to learn about.

I was grateful that a co-worker lent me this book, one that I had known nothing about and that had not been on my radar. It is an excellent novel, full of immense history about slavery and women’s rights. It is complex, deep and difficult.

The novel goes back and forth between Sarah, a rich Southern belle who has never wanted to life she has been given adn Hetty, a slave her own age who was given to her for her eleven birthday. Sarah never wanted a slave, but she has no right to not have her. In her own way she rebels against her family by teaching Hetty to read. The novel spans back and forth between the lives of these two women, both struggling against their positions in life.

Sarah and her sister Angelina, are real women, women who are among the first women abolitionists, as well as the first women to speak out in public forums and struggle for women’s rights.

Sue Monk Kidd has researched and imagined a wonderful, rich, heartbreaking novel for them to live in and it is well worth the read.

“Playing with Matches” Book Review

Playing with Matches is written by Suri Rosen, published by ECW Press, September 2014, 248 pages

In Playing with Matches I expected to find a typical YA novel. What I received was so much more; a novel deep in mystery, humour, kindness and mysticism. Based in Toronto, via way of New York, Raina Resnick is a 16-year-old who has fallen off her own personal path. Something every teenager can relate to in some way or another. But Rain has a lot of other things going on too. Her parents are in Hong Kong, so she has been sent to live with her strict aunt in Toronto. Her older sister Leah ends up in Toronto too, as her wedding was recently cancelled by the groom. Yet Leah blames a lot of her problems on Raina and is not speaking to her. And if that is not enough, Raina was kicked out of her previous school and is finding it not so easy to forget about her earlier misdeeds.

Playing with Matches has many layers and always kept me guessing throughout the entire story. It is real yet hopeful, cute yet quirky and light yet meaningful. I also learned a lot about the Orthodox Jewish Community, which is something that I honestly did not know that much about. I always find it very interesting to step deep into another culture and learn about something you might not have known about before. Reading something like this opens your mind a little. I learned that the Orthodox Jewish Community still uses matchmakers to set up fulfilling life long marriages and Raina accidentally finds herself in this role. And it might just be the first thing she is good at in a long time! Can she keep it secret and make more successful matches? And most importantly can she make Leah a good match and allow her sister be happy again?

This novel has a wide range of interesting characters, from Bubby, the getting into trouble grandmother, to the kind-hearted professor lonely for companionship. Raina learns about herself and explores these people with kindness.  The lesson might be everyone deserves to be happy.

I am surprised to learn that this is Rosen’s first novel, as the depth of the characters is intense and the story is fast moving. I was laughing out loud and I had a hard time putting the book down. I would recommend the book to anyone, young or old, it is a fun paced romp with a lot of heart.

playing with matches

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