What I’m Reading

It appears that I’ve fallen a bit behind on my book reviews! I did plenty of reading but June was a pretty crazy month and I never found the time to sit down and write a review for any of them. So, here’s what I read over the past month, along with a quick review!

How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

I’m still not 100% sure how I feel about How to Walk Away. On one hand, I really liked Margaret, the main character. You can feel her pain throughout her experience and how let down by everyone she felt. Ian was enjoyable up to the end and then things just got ridiculously hopeless Rom-Commish. I digress …

There were definitely parts of this book that I felt were irrelevant, (Maggie’s sister and her mom’s feud, for example), and unrealistic (travelling across the ocean to not-crash but crash a wedding), but overall it was a decent read.

Random, unfortunate coincidence: I started reading this a day after the RCAF Snowbirds crash happened here in my city. So that weighed pretty heavily in my mind while I read this and may or may not have reflected my thoughts on the book.

My rating: ★★★★/5 stars

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

If you never read The Handmaid’s Tale don’t even bother picking this one up! You’ll end up way more lost and confused that you already may be.

Anyway, similar to Handmaid’s, The Testaments takes a bit of time for the storyline to pick up and make sense, but once it did, it was such a great read! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one over its predecessor. Atwood kept me wondering where everything was going and in the end I was quite pleased, with the exception of the whole rowboat and water tower situation. (Surely there was an alternative to that?)

Anyway, I thought it was a fantastic way to “end” Gilead and I couldn’t help just chuckle every time Canada was mentioned as something evil. Yup. That’s us. We lure your women into allowing them to live freely.

My rating: ★★★★/5 stars

The Lies that Bind by Emily Giffin

The Lies that Bind was probably one of my Top 3 Most Anticipated Novels for me this summer. Once again, I feel that Emily Giffin delivered.

It’s true that if you loved Something Borrow and/or Something Blue, you’ll likely enjoy this one as well. (Spoiler alert: Rachel, Darcy and Ethan make a special guest appearances.)

Anyway, back to the book itself. The Lies that Bind is full of passion, compassion, and well, lies (duh), but it’s all brought together so wonderfully that it all just works. Told around the events of 9/11, the love stories, are relatable, and in my opinion, believable. It shows how tragedy can create the most unexpected relationships. I’ll admit that Cecily was perhaps a little too naive when it came to Grant, and that her friendship with Amy was a little farfetched. Overall I really enjoyed reading it and remain a huge fan of Giffin.

My rating: ★★★★★/5 stars

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

I have a lot of feelings about American Dirt, so first, I’ll start with the good:

The story as a whole, while tragic and painful, was an amazing one to read. I felt Lydia, Luca, Soledad, and Rebeca’s grief. I feared for their lives with them. I wanted them to get to “el norte” so, SO badly. I seriously had the hardest time putting this book down, it was so good.

Now, onto the not-so-good: My gripe with American Dirt is that is was written by woman who self-identifies as white and only has a slight sliver of ethnicity. I feel that she over-emphasized the slang and language a little too much, especially for a non-Spanish author.

Considering both my positive and negative opinions of American Dirt, I still think it’s a valuable read that presents many valuable conversation starters.

My rating: ★★★★½/5 stars

Follow Me by Kathleen Barber

Very rarely do I pick up thrillers, and after reading Follow Me it’s unlikely that I’ll pick up another one anytime soon. (Unless Gillian Flynn pens a new one, then I’m game.)

If Follow Me was a lesson in anything, it was that today’s generation cares too much about their online presence are are oblivious to the dangers of posting too much information. Audrey, the main character, had so many moments where I wanted to slap her, I nearly abandoned the book at least a half-dozen times. Yet here I am …

Aside from that, the characters were grossly underdeveloped and the ending was anti-climatic. The only reason why I finished it was because I wanted to know who did it, and even that was ridiculous and as I mentioned, underwhelming.

My rating: ★/5 stars

May Recap!

Hello, friends!

While I’m never 100% sure what day it is, May seemed to go by in a flash! It’s always such an eventful month, so I’ll recap it briefly here!

The kids

Isla is still working hard on her schoolwork from home. I’m so thankful that she’s a bright girls and has a fairly good grasp at understanding her work; they finished the grade 2 math curriculum in May and started learning a little bit of grade 3 stuff – multiplication! She’s slowly figuring it out, so she’ll be good to go when she starts grade 3 in the fall!

Norah had her kindergarten immunizations at the beginning of the month and she was NOT KEEN on them at all, but she was treated to her choice of donut so all was well with the world after that.

We had the option to send them back to school on a part-time basis starting today (June 1) but I’m opting to keep her at home for the remainder of the year. It just didn’t seem worth it, as much as she misses her teacher and friends. Hopefully everything will settle over the summer and school life can resume normally in the fall!

Isla was supposed to have her final dance shows this past weekend but it sadly had to be cancelled. We were able to pick up her costume, so instead of performing, I did her full hair and makeup and we took photos in the park. Her academy also held a “reverse car parade” where we could drive by the studio and wave/see all the teachers, so she dressed up again and we drove by.

A little glimmer of brightness has come through and the teachers are planning an outdoor, adjusted/socially distanced choreography show so the students can perform for their close family.

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We also bought them a trampoline! It was SUCH a smart investment, especially for Norah since she has endless energy. We had to wait a couple of weeks for it to come back into stock, but we got it at the beginning of the month and had it set up in a couple of days for them to enjoy!

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Life

We/Kyle have been busy doing a bunch of work to the yard! Kyle built a new fence for the back portion of our yard and we got our garden in a couple weeks ago! We planted peas, two types of potatoes, bush beans, corn, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, lettuce and radishes.

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One of the two plots!

We lost a few tomato plants and our zucchini because of an over-night cold snap, but thankfully we were able to find replacement plants.

I also celebrated my birthday at the beginning of the month, as well as Mother’s Day! Kyle bought me an awesome Yeti Rambler and an amazing new crossbody bag for my birthday, and then he and Isla picked out some beautiful hanging baskets and flowers for my planter for Mother’s Day. To celebrate my birthday we had a little social-distance visit in our backyard with family.

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Hobbies

I finished three books this past month and just started reading The Testaments and am trying to get into it but like The Handmaids Tale, it’s a little tough to follow at first. It’s starting to pick up now, so we’ll see what happens!

I have Emily Giffin’s newest book on preorder and it should be ready to pick up at the bookstore sometime this week – Hurray for summer reading!

Since organized, outdoor races have been cancelled for the remainder of the year, I suppose all this running I’ve been doing has been mostly for fun, haha. I’ve been signing up for a few challenges/virtual races on Strava to keep myself motivated, and it’s been pretty productive. Kyle thinks I’m nuts, but that’s okay! Really, it’s been keeping me sane during all of this craziness, and he understands that.

Looking ahead …

June is already looking to be a busy one. I’ll be returning to the office on a part-time basis starting on the 15th, the girls will both be celebrating their birthdays, and Kyle and I will be celebrating our 9th wedding anniversary later this week! At some point Isla will also be performing with her dance studio too. I’m pretty certain June will fly by just as fast as May did!

What was the best book you read in May? Tell me something exciting that happened in your life this past month, or what’s happening this month that you’re looking forward to?

What I’m Reading

Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner

I’m pretty disappointed by how in love I wasn’t with Big Summer. After Weiner’s last book, Mrs. Everything, I was eager to pick this one up and even pre-ordered it.

So what didn’t I love about it? To me, it felt like an episode of The Bachelor meets My Big, Fat Fabulous Life meets As the World Turns, as though maybe Weiner was perhaps fishing for a movie deal because everything in the book played out so well to be put into a quick B-list movie.

I also felt like there was something missing; while I appreciated the background into Daphne’s history with her health, the remainder of the characters lacked depth.

If anything, Big Summer puts a whole bunch of emphasis on how obsessed society can be with social media, and how far we’re willing to go for likes, follows, and comments, and how much of what’s out there is only perhaps a sliver of what our realities actually are. Weiner did a great job putting everything into perspective, if anything.

My rating: ★★★½/5 stars