• A Hug I Wish I’d Given

    Jul 13 • Blog • 1676 Views

    I’m still kind of reeling from news I received this morning, so forgive me if I ramble a bit.

    I found out this morning that a former co-worker took his own life. He was one of the kindest people I had ever met, and one of the happiest – or so I thought, I guess. I won’t go any further into details here in a pubic forum, although I have many very sad, and very angry thoughts about the situation. He had three children and a wife that he loved, and he had recently become a first-time grandfather.

    He was the last person I would have expected this from.

    And there’s the rub: like Robin Williams last year, it’s a lesson for me that you cannot judge what’s in a person’s mind and heart by what you see on the outside. Just because a person smiles on the outside doesn’t mean that they aren’t crying out for help on the inside.

    So then what do we do? How do you help someone when you don’t even know that they need it?

    First of all, we need to fight for better access to mental health services. Did you know that in my province, Ontario, only psychiatric services are covered under OHIP (our universal health care service)? Right now, you have to get a referral from your family doctor, and then wait – possibly for months – for a referral. And if your case isn’t severe enough, the overworked psychiatrist to whom you are referred may not even take you on as a patient.

    ETNA PLUSSo many more people could be helped by funding psychology and registered counseling services. Even the best employer benefit plans only pay for a few sessions with a psychologist per year, and for many people it is simply impossible to pay out of pocket for these services. Many psychology services do offer a sliding scale payment system based on income, but many people wouldn’t know about this, and besides, if you’re already struggling with depression you may not be in any state to face dealing with financial questions and paperwork to prove that you can’t afford to pay the whole fee.

    Every once in a while, an event happens in the news, or a social media hashtag appears which gets people talking about access to mental health services. But then everyone moves on, and nothing changes. It’s great when the conversation begins, but WE CAN’T STOP TALKING.

    And in the meantime, if there’s one thing you can do it’s to be open and caring. Don’t be afraid to tell your family and friends that you love them, and that they matter to you. Don’t be afraid to give someone a hug. Don’t be afraid to tell someone that the world is a better place because THEY ARE HERE. Maybe they’ll look at you like you’ve lost your mind. Maybe they’ll seem like they don’t care. And maybe they don’t.

    But maybe they do. Maybe your words of kindness and love are going to give that person the strength to keep fighting. Maybe your hug is the first physical contact that person has had in a very long time. Maybe somehow, by offering love, you will be able to transfer strength to a person who desperately needs it.

    Last winter, a high school classmate of mine lost her husband in an accident. Since then, the “One for James” movement has spread around the world, with people buying coffee for strangers, and doing other small acts of kindness in his name. It’s been incredible to see. If there’s one thing that I can do for my coworker, it’s to encourage people to give love and support to those around them.

    And one other thing…

    Please, if you take nothing else from this, just remember: DEPRESSION LIES. You matter. You are loved. You make a difference.

    Rest in peace, my friend. I am so very sorry.

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  • I’m an “Outlander” Failure

    Jun 13 • Blog • 2002 Views

    “Have you read Outlander yet? You’ll love it!”

    “I just started reading Outlander. It’s so good!”

    “My entire life has CHANGED since reading Outlander!”

    Sexy Scots in kilts, romance, and history - what's not to love???

    Sexy Scots in kilts, romance, and history – what’s not to love???

    OK, so that last one might have been made up, but basically for the past few years it’s felt like EVERYONE has been telling me to read Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. I’m not kidding: I hear this (thankfully) more than that I should read Twilight or Fifty Shades of Gray. And most of the people who have suggested it to me are people for whom I have the utmost literary respect. These are lifelong bookworms, and fellow authors.

    Then earlier this year I read a quote by Diana Gabaldon herself (and I’m not actually quoting here, because I can no longer find the quote) talking about how many “rules” of writing she had broken: she mixes up genres unapologetically; she writes exceedingly LONG books; she doesn’t have the entire series planned out right from the start.

    This is an author after my own heart.

    Which makes it all the more painful that I have to give up. At least for now.

    I started watching the Outlander TV series a few months back, and quickly got addicted. I mean, sexy Scottish Jamie in a kilt… accents… history-ish… What’s not to love? So I decided that it was time to read the books. I went and picked up the first book from the library. I’ve now had it for about eight weeks, and I’ve read less than 400 of the 850 pages. I have one more week until I can’t renew it anymore.

    I feel awful about it. I want to like it. I want to finish it, swoon over it, and dive wholeheartedly into the next book. But I can’t.

    It’s too wordy. I love the story, but there’s just too much of it. And I can’t do it.

    I feel so guilty. Please, someone tell me that I’m not a terrible bookworm! Have you ever had a book that you so wanted to love, but just couldn’t? (And please don’t say Idol Hands or What Lies Behind… I’m fragile enough at the moment! LOL)

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  • Book Review: “Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography” by Laura Ingalls Wilder

    Apr 26 • Blog, Book Reviews • 2069 Views

    The book that Laura Ingalls Wilder fans have been waiting for... so much so that it sold out the entire first run of copies!

    The book that Laura Ingalls Wilder fans have been waiting for… so much so that it sold out the entire first run of copies!

    Synopsis from Goodreads:

    Pioneer Girl follows the Ingalls family’s journey through Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, back to Minnesota, and on to Dakota Territory sixteen years of travels, unforgettable experiences, and the everyday people who became immortal through Wilder’s fiction. Using additional manuscripts, letters, photographs, newspapers, and other sources, award-winning Wilder biographer Pamela Smith Hill adds valuable context and leads readers through Wilder’s growth as a writer. Do you think you know Laura? Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography will re-introduce you to the woman who defined the pioneer experience for millions.

    My Thoughts:

    You might call me a Laura Ingalls Wilder fangirl. You might even go so far as to call me a “Bonnethead” (look it up – this is actually a thing.) If I could have, I would have been at the first two “Laurapalooza” events held in Minnesota in 2012 and 2013. If I could, I’d go to the one being held this year.

    I mean, I first read an actual biography of LIW back in my early teens – Donald Zochert’s book, Laura: The Life of Laura Ingalls Wilder (a fantastic book with a horrible cover). I’ve read articles, and books, and… I should probably stop now before I embarrass myself any further.

    Suffice it to say, most of the information in Pioneer Girl wasn’t new to me. To a certain extent, it felt as if I were reading something I’d read many times before, because it’s been referenced so often in the biographies that I’ve read. Much of the information included in the annotations was also read previously.

    Still, that doesn’t mean that this isn’t a worthwhile book to read. For more casual LIW fans, it will be interesting to read the differences between the fictional Ingalls and Wilder families, and the real life ones. For more avid fans, it’s fantastic to actually have a “real” copy of Pioneer Girl (copies have floated around on the internet for a while, or you could pay for photocopies from the Herbert Hoover Library in Iowa, where the originals are housed) and to have all of the photographs.

    Because of the way the book is set up, I did find it hard slogging at first. The original Pioneer Girl manuscript was written longhand, with no chapter or section breaks. Pamela Smith Hill, this version’s editor, has divided the book into sections of time and/or place. But with the annotations alongside the text, rather than as endnotes to each section, I found myself feeling like I should read each annotation as they came up. And there are a LOT of annotations. I mean, a LOT. Like, more than the actual text (some of them were REALLY superfluous, but that’s just my opinion.) I was getting really frustrated, because it was impossible to get into any kind of flow. I was also starting to get really dejected, wondering if maybe my beloved Laura really wasn’t as good as I’ve always firmly believed.

    But then I decided that I would read an entire section, and THEN go back and read the annotations for that section. Of course, every once in a while I’d be curious, and have to read a note, however for the most part, I found it a much smoother read after that.

    Some of the appendices also seemed a bit excessive, for example the reproduction of the “Juvenile Pioneer Girl” manuscript, typed and edited by Rose Wilder Lane. I found myself skimming by the point, as in the sections about the Benders, a Kansas family of serial killers, whom LIW included in later drafts of Pioneer Girl, even though evidence would suggest that it might be more “truth” in the way of Lane’s biographies of Jack London or Charlie Chaplin (hint: they were more “based on a true story” than actually true.)

    I think one of the most valuable parts of this edition of Pioneer Girl is that, given it is taken directly from Laura’s first draft, we can see for ourselves that Laura was quite a capable writer on her own. Yes, it’s a first draft, and I know that I would be horrified if any of my first drafts were published in this way, and it can be a bit jerky at times, going from memory to memory like bouncing down a dirt road in a buggy drawn by Barnum (if you’ve read the books, you’ll get the idea), but then you get a line like this:

    Later in the day, when the sun shone warmly, little reddish brown and black striped gophers would pop out of their holes in the ground and sit straight up on their hind legs  with their front paws down close at their sides, so motionless they could hardly be distinguished among the grasses and if seen looking like a stick stuck up in the ground. (Page 231)

    and you just know it’s Laura: she makes the ordinary seem so vivid. Especially after reading this book, I don’t believe for a second that those descriptive passages all came from Rose. She may have had a heavy hand in editing and forming the books, but I believe that it was her mother who wrote them.

    Rating: 4.5/5 very heavily biased stars

    Buy it on Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, Chapters/Indigo, Barnes and Noble (no e-book versions available) NOTE: As of this writing, the book is sold out on all sites, but orders are being taken for when the next print run is completed.

    PS – If this is your first time here, please check out my books, Idol Hands, and What Lies Behind.

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  • Why a Facebook Status Update Doesn’t Protect Your Copyrights

    Dec 3 • Blog • 1810 Views

    “Concerning the new Facebook policies/ guidelines… Today, [insert date here], in response to the Facebook guidelines that I do not consent, and under articles L.111, 112, and 113 of the code of intellectual property, I declare that my rights are attached to all my personal data, drawings, paintings, photos, texts, etc… published on my profile. For commercial use of the foregoing my written consent is required at all times. Those reading this can copy and paste it on their Facebook wall. This will allow them to place themselves under the protection of copyright. By this release, I tell Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, broadcast or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The actions mentioned above apply equally to employees, students, agents, and/or other staff under the direction of Facebook. The contents of my profile includes private information. The violation of my profile includes private information. The violation of my privacy is punished by the law (UCC 1 1-308 – 308 1 – 103 and the Rome Statute.) Facebook is now an open capital entity. All members are invited to post a notice of this kind, or if prefer you can copy and paste this version. If you have not published this statement at least once, you will tacitly allow the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile.”

    If you use Facebook on a regular basis, my guess would be that you’ve seen this, or something to this effect in the past week or so. Probably many, many times.

    no copyright

    Posting a status update isn’t going to protect your copyrights

    There’s one problem: it’s a hoax.

    When you sign up for Facebook, you agree to their privacy policy, such as it is. When they change their policy, if you continue to use the site, you are tacitly agreeing to the change in policy. The other issue is, that you already have intellectual property rights over your photos, etc. It’s stated in their current policies. However, depending on the privacy settings you use, Facebook has the right to use your posts and activity (i.e. the spy bar on the right hand side of the screen that allows you to see what your friends are up to, or posts about so-and-so’s recent high score in the newest Candy Crush ripoff) for as long as you have your account. If you choose to completely delete your account, the full rights revert to you.

    As usual, Snopes explains it better than I can.

    But here’s the thing people need to understand: Facebook is a FREE service. You pay nothing for the ability to connect with friends and family, send messages, post pictures, play games (unless you choose to pay for them), promote your events and/or your business (to a debatable degree), and share the funny cat video your cousin Ernie just posted.

    Also, no one forces you to use Facebook, and no one forces you to post private information and photos on it.

    Think about it this way: imagine that it’s Christmas, and you give someone a gift. You put a lot of work and thought into the gift, and you’re absolutely bursting with happiness to hand it over and see their reaction. They open it, they’re thrilled, and they start to open the box. You yell out, “You can’t use it!” Or, later on, you’re dismayed to find out that the person has sold the gift to get rent money.

    By giving Facebook your information, you are essentially handing them a gift. They then use that gift to make money for themselves. Data mining, targeted ads (although seriously Facebook, I do NOT have gout!), and promoted posts… they’re the cost of using the site for “free.”

    A Facebook status won’t help, And for those who say, “Well, it can’t hurt,” my argument is that it gives unwitting people a false sense of security.

    The truth is, if you don’t like Facebook’s policies, you have two options:

    1) Don’t post any personal information;

    2) Don’t use Facebook.

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  • Book Review: “Daughters of the Dragon: A Comfort Woman’s Story” by William Andrews

    Oct 15 • Blog, Book Reviews • 3672 Views

    DragonSynopsis from Goodreads:

    DURING WORLD WAR II, the Japanese forced 200,000 young Korean women to be sex slaves or “comfort women” for their soldiers. This is one woman’s riveting story of strength, courage and promises kept.

    In 1943, the Japanese tear young Ja-hee and her sister from their peaceful family farm to be comfort women for the Imperial Army. Before they leave home, their mother gives them a magnificent antique comb with an ivory inlay of a two-headed dragon, saying it will protect them. The sisters suffer terribly at the hands of the Japanese, and by the end of the war, Ja-hee must flee while her sister lies dying. Ja-hee keeps her time as a comfort woman a secret while she struggles to rebuild her life. She meets a man in North Korea who shows her what true love is. But the communists take him away in the middle of the night, and she escapes to the South. There, she finally finds success as the country rebuilds after the Korean War. However when her terrible secret is revealed, she’s thrown into poverty. In the depths of despair, she’s tempted to sell the comb with the two-headed dragon that she believes has no magic for her. Then one day she discovers its true meaning and her surprising heredity. And now she must find the only person who can carry on the legacy of the two-headed dragon… someone she abandoned years ago.

    Set within the tumultuous backdrop of 20th century Korea, Daughters of the Dragon by Mayhaven Award-winning author William Andrews will make you cry and cheer for Ja-hee. And in the end, you’ll have a better understanding of the Land of the Morning Calm.

    Daughters of the Dragon is inspired by The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, Memiors of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, the books of Amy Tan and Lisa See.

    My Thoughts:

    I was immediately intrigued when I read the synopsis of this book. I had never heard of “comfort women”, nor the horrible torture inflicted upon them by the Japanese army during WWII. In fact, I knew nothing of the Japanese occupation of Korea at all.

    Ja-hee’s story is compelling, but there were a lot of factors that diminished my ability to stay engaged in the book:

    * The secondary story of Ja-hee’s granddaughter, who had been adopted by an American couple, and is listening to Ja-hee’s story, didn’t particularly interest me. I found the interruption from Ja-hee’s story almost irritating. I know that the author has a personal connection to overseas adoption, but in this particular case, this plot point just didn’t seem to fit.

    * The lack of attention to historical language was also distracting. For example, I can’t see a Korean woman in the 1940s referring to “condoms”, “abortion” or “rape.” I would think there would be some euphemism used, if they had to be used at all. I can’t claim to know this for certain, but it seemed very out of place.

    * The story of the two-headed dragon with five toes also seemed somewhat out of place, although in that case, I’m not sure why, and so I won’t elaborate.

    All of that being said, I still believe that the book is worth reading: this is a piece of history of which I think most readers would have no knowledge. More of us should know it.

    I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

    Rating: 3.5/5 stars

    Buy it on Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

    PS – If this is your first time here, please check out my books, Idol Hands, and What Lies Behind.


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  • Book Review: “The Never Never Sisters” by Alison L. Heller

    Sep 15 • Blog, Book Reviews • 20112 Views

    Never Never SistersSynopsis from Goodreads:

    An absorbing, highly entertaining novel about family secrets, The Never Never Sisters introduces you to the strong-willed and big-hearted Reinhardt women, as they reunite one summer in New York. Gifted storyteller L. Alison Heller has written another witty and moving page-turner that will captivate readers and keep them guessing right up until the satisfying end.

    Sometimes you just need to get away….

    Marriage counselor Paige Reinhardt is counting down the days to summer, eager to reconnect with her workaholic husband at their cozy rental cottage in the Hamptons. But soon a mysterious crisis at Dave’s work ruins their getaway plans. Paige is still figuring out how to handle the unexplained chill in her marriage when her troubled sister suddenly returns after a two-decade silence. Now, instead of enjoying the lazy summer days along the ocean, Paige is navigating the rocky waters of a forgotten bond with her sister in the sweltering city heat.

    As she attempts to dig deeper into Dave’s work troubles and some long-held family secrets, Paige is shocked to discover how little she knows about the people closest to her. This summer, the self-proclaimed relationship expert will grapple with her biggest challenge yet: Is it worth risking your most precious relationships in order to find yourself?

    My Thoughts:

    I feel like I should have liked this book more than I did. I feel like I should have liked the characters more than I did. The concept was interesting, and did keep me wondering. Why did Paige’s sister Sloane return after so long? What secret was Paige’s husband, Dave, keeping?

    In the end, I guess I just felt let down. I was never able to warm up to Sloane’s character, and so I found it hard to believe that Paige would be able to warm up to her, either. Dave was an enigma. I was more interested in some of the supporting characters than I was in the main characters. And the secrets didn’t really feel like they were worth my curiosity.

    And in a book like this, you really need to care. You need to have someone to root for, and I just really didn’t find that to be the case.

    Maybe it was too real: people do things without big, exciting reasons all the time. I’m just not sure I want to read about it.

    I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

    Rating: 3/5 stars

    Buy it on Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo

    PS – If this is your first time here, please check out my books, Idol Hands, and What Lies Behind.

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  • The Ship is Anchor’d Safe and Sound: Depression Lies

    Aug 11 • Blog • 7401 Views

    “Did you used to try and sit like Mork when you were a kid?”

    robinwilliamsThis is what I asked my husband at the dinner table tonight. We had just heard about Robin Williams’ death, and it had hit us both hard – my husband, especially: Robin Williams was one of his heroes.

    Didn’t every kid of the 70s sit that way at least once?

    I’m at a loss. I feel a little bit like that kid sitting upside down, trying to pretend she was from Ork – dizzy and disoriented.

    But to know that it was a likely suicide? Shattering.

    Depression is insidious: it sneaks up, and overwhelms. It can make you angry, frightened, and hopeless. It can make you feel like you’re drowning. It can make you feel numb.

    It can come in times of stress or sadness, or it can come out of nowhere. Some people are completely debilitated; others hide it so well you would never know anything was wrong. One person may be unable to force themselves to leave the house for days, weeks, or even months, while another may want to be surrounded by people at all times. Some will try to self-medicate, some will go to a doctor for the help of prescription medication, for some, talk therapy is best. Others will do nothing at all.

    And for some, when it all becomes too much to bear, they will take their own lives.

    I have lost friends to suicide. Friends have lost family members. Countless family members and friends struggle with depression every day. I have not been immune to it.

    For those who haven’t experienced it, it can be impossible to understand.

    “Why can’t you just cheer up?”

    “Just get over it.”

    But in many cases, a person in the middle of a depressive episode can’t just get over it through sheer determination. So, as we mourn the loss of Robin Williams, please – if you are suffering, just remember these words. You may not believe it at first, but keep repeating it, until you are strong enough to ask for help.

    Depression LIES.

    You are worthy. Your life has meaning. You will be missed. You are loved.

    Rest in peace, Robin. You were worthy. Your life had meaning. You will be missed. You are loved.


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  • Book Review: “The Quick” by Lauren Owen

    Aug 7 • Blog, Book Reviews • 8205 Views

    "The Quick" is not what you might think.

    “The Quick” is not what you might think.

    Synopsis from Goodreads:

    An astonishing debut, a novel of epic scope and suspense that conjures up all the magic and menace of Victorian London    

    London, 1892: James Norbury, a shy would-be poet newly down from Oxford, finds lodging with a charming young aristocrat. Through this new friendship, he is introduced to the drawing-rooms of high society, and finds love in an unexpected quarter. Then, suddenly, he vanishes without a trace. Unnerved, his sister, Charlotte, sets out from their crumbling country estate determined to find him. In the sinister, labyrinthine city that greets her, she uncovers a secret world at the margins populated by unforgettable characters: a female rope walker turned vigilante, a street urchin with a deadly secret, and the chilling “Doctor Knife.” But the answer to her brother’s disappearance ultimately lies within the doors of one of the country’s preeminent and mysterious institutions: The Aegolius Club, whose members include the most ambitious, and most dangerous, men in England.

    In her first novel, Lauren Owen has created a fantastical world that is both beguiling and terrifying. The Quick will establish her as one of fiction’s most dazzling talents.
    Named One of the Top 10 Literary Fiction Books of the Season by Publishers Weekly

    My Thoughts

    I have to admit: had I known what this book was really about, I would never have picked it up. Because of that, I’m torn on the whole thing, for a variety of reasons.

    When my book, Idol Hands first came out, the description was purposefully somewhat vague. While I enjoyed the shock of people’s reactions to the book, I finally decided that it wasn’t fair to leave people thinking they were about to read a fluffy little boy band love story when in reality, that wasn’t what it was at all, and so I changed the descriptor. The point of all of this is to say that while I understand the idea of trying to have a big “twist” to the story, a descriptor that makes you think it’s strictly historical fiction, and then becomes something else isn’t exactly fair to readers.

    But, that being said, I’d like to try and review the book on its own merits.

    I was drawn in right away by the story of James and Charlotte as children. I’m a sucker for a “Victorian-era child virtually abandoned by their parent/guardian to be raised by servants in a mysterious old house” story. And so, I found it jarring when the story suddenly flashed forward, going from Charlotte’s perspective to James’. That was only the first of the many, many perspective changes throughout the book. The story went from a traditional 3rd person view, to an epistolary format, and from character to character. I actually enjoy this kind of experimental format generally, but for me, this time it became too much. It was as if the author was trying to tell too many different stories, instead of focusing in on what was – I think – supposed to be the main plotline. In the end, I wasn’t even certain of the details of what had happened during the book’s climax, because it jumped all over the place so much.

    The book’s ending was also somewhat of a letdown. It felt tacked on, without much resolution, and I wasn’t sure if the last few lines were intended to set up another book, or just leave the reader hanging.

    Is it strange, after all of that, to say that I didn’t dislike the book? The main characters, at least, were well drawn, and the main plot was interesting, if unexpected. I just wish that the author hadn’t tried to pack four or five books worth of stories into one.

    I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

    Rating: 2.5/5 stars

    Buy it on Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo

    PS – If this is your first time here, please check out my books, Idol Hands, and What Lies Behind.

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  • Book Review: “The Here and Now” by Ann Brashares

    Jul 15 • Blog, Book Reviews • 2073 Views

    hereandnowSynopsis from Goodreads:

    An unforgettable epic romantic thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world . . . if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to.
    Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.
    This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins. 
    Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth. 
    But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves. 
    From Ann Brashares, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, The Here and Now is thrilling, exhilarating, haunting, and heartbreaking—and a must-read novel of the year.

    My Thoughts:

    I’ve never read anything by Ann Brashares before, although I saw the first Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants movie. My understanding is that this is quite a departure for her, but I think ultimately it was a successful one. I’m not generally fond of science fiction, but this book is light on the science and more about the relationships. As a reader, I didn’t care how Prenna and her family came back from the future (something about a worm hole?), I just accepted that they had, and so I was glad Brashares didn’t dwell on this, giving long scientific explanations that I would have skimmed over anyway.

    The relationship between Prenna and her mother, Prenna and her “community” of time travellers, and Prenna and Ethan, are what mattered to me as a reader. Yes, there was an intrigue behind all of this, but it was secondary, in my opinion. And Brashares doesn’t back off from the issues a teenage girl would face, suddenly being thrust into a world unknown to her, except from history books. “The Community” has to deal with not knowing how they are affecting the future – or, their own time – by their actions in the early 21st century. Prenna has been told right from the start that she will never be able to have a romantic relationship with anyone outside of the community, partly because of the risk of affecting the future, but also because of the viruses they carry with them, which could kill those who are not already immune. She begins to wonder whether “the rules” are really about safety, or if they are more about control.

    I enjoyed this book, and I plan to pass it along to my thirteen-year-old daughter, as well.

    I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

    Rating: 4/5 stars

    Buy it on Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo

    PS – If this is your first time here, please check out my books, Idol Hands, and What Lies Behind.

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  • Book Review: “Fifty Years of Polygamy: Big Secrets & Little White Lies” by Kristyn Decker

    Jul 1 • Blog, Book Reviews • 15773 Views

    50 yrs DeckerSynopsis from Goodreads:

    Fifty Years in Polygamy is the personal history of Kristyn Decker, the daughter of a polygamist prophet. Within, she reveals a rare, uncensored, firsthand account of the inner workings of a Utah-based polygamist sect whose members today include high-profile reality television stars. Her gripping narrative describes the rampant anguish and abuse behind the happy faces that polygamist women present in public. Fifty Years in Polygamy is Kristyn’s inspiring journey, in which she challenges the common misconception that polygamy is simply a harmless lifestyle choice. For many, it is like modern-day slavery, she says.

    My Thoughts:

    This is an example of a book that is extremely difficult to review. It feels like criticizing someone’s life, rather than their words. I felt the same way after reading Jaycee Dugard’s book. In that situation, I just didn’t review it, just posted on Goodreads that I’d read it. But that was before I was reviewing “professionally.”

    Kristyn Decker started out life as Sophia Allred, daughter of Owen Allred, leader of the Apostolic United Brethren (referred to in the book only as “The Group.”) The AUB is also the religion of which the Brown family, of Sister Wives fame, is a part of. Her father had eight wives, and twenty-three children. So, it’s little wonder that when she got married, she strongly believed that it was paramount to her salvation that her husband take on another wife.

    Her story is very much worth telling, but the truth is, I just wish it had been perhaps co-written, or at least had the benefit of a stronger editor. The story is very scattered, and it’s often hard to follow timelines. Some stories seem to be thrown in, with no connection to what came before or after. The sentence structure is often awkward, and sometime difficult to follow. In the end, I came out feeling very cloudy on what she was trying to say. Would her marriage have been better without a second wife? Probably. Would it have been perfect? I don’t think so. Her husband seemed abusive long before the second wife joined their family. And in the end, he had an emotional, if possibly not physical, affair on BOTH of them.

    A difficult read, but not necessarily for the reasons you might think.

    I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

    Rating: 2.5/5

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