Saturday, 3 July 2021

Books With Unique Structure or Narrative

 


I love it when I discover a book/author who offers a twist on a traditional fictional narrative. Here are a few of my favourites.


Plot - Cyril Avery was born out of wedlock in a small Irish town. He spends his life discovering himself and where he comes from.
Structure - Beginning with his birth, this story visits Cyril every seven years of his life.

Plot - Fiction that reads like non-fiction about a house that is larger on the inside than it is on the outside.
Structure - A deliberately complex mix of everything. Manuscripts, footnotes, poetry, letters, backwards text, upside down text, and more.

Plot - The battle of Anna Anderson to be recognized as Anastasia Romanov.
Structure - Alternating chapters between Anna and Anastasia. Anastasia's chapters are in chronological order, while Anna's are in reverse, culminating in the truth when the timelines meet.

Plot - A family history is intimately tied to the forests in British Columbia. Also, what will the future look like when trees are rarely found in the world?
Structure - A multi-generational family saga told as though the reader is travelling through rings of a tree. Starting with the youngest generations, the narrative works itself towards the middle with the oldest generation, and then back out again.

Plot - The rise of an infamous 1970s rock band and their mysterious breakup.
Structure - Structured as a documentary, I had to google this book to see if it was true! 😂

Plot - Follows two women from Africa who are half-sisters and don't know it.
Structure - Each chapter is from the point of view of one character, and as the chapters move chronologically and without skipping generations, each protagonist is the child of one the reader has formerly met.

Plot - Historical fiction about the French Revolution from the perspective of women who were there before, during, and after.
Structure- Each section of this book is written by a different author, focusing on a different woman, but all six stories flow seamlessly into one larger narrative about the role of women in French Revolution.

Plot - Ana is an ESL student starting at a new high school.
Structure -  When Ana doesn't understand something said to her, the author has blacked out the text, so the reader misses it as well.

Do you have any you'd add to this list?
Jenn

Tuesday, 29 June 2021

The (Un)Popular vote by Jasper Sanchez

 

The (Un)Popular Vote by Jasper Sanchez

When Mark Adams witnesses dangerous rhetoric about the safety of LGBTQ+ students in his high school, he decides he can't sit idly by and begins his campaign for student body president. His dad is a well-known congressman, and Mark has always loved politics.

The problem is, Mark Adams is a relatively new student at Utopia High. He moved there so he could transition, and he doesn't know many students beyond his small queer friend group. To make matters worse, his dad continues to pretend he still has a daughter, and not a son, and he has insisted that Mark keep a low profile, lest his transgender child create problems for his political ambitions.

I enjoyed this book so much and not just because Mark and his friends use French Club as a cover for the queer kids to hang out together. The POC and LGBTQ+ representation is excellent. I felt so many emotions while reading this, and I rooted for Mark the entire way.

I'm cis, white, straight, a woman, and nearly 40, so take this with a grain of salt if you need to, but I think The (Un)Popular Vote is probably an accurate description of what life is like in high school for queer kids today. It's a great book for high school students to see that their thoughts, feelings, and voices are valid and necessary.

Funny and heartfelt, The (Un)Popular Vote is definitely a must-read for any teen, especially queer teens and/or those who love politics. I keep a shelf of books I hope Sebastian will read when he's older, and this will be the next addition.

Thank you to Harper Collins Canada for sending this copy my way.
xo
Jenn

Saturday, 29 May 2021

Final Report - Rick Mercer

 


When you're looking for a good rant, no one does it better than Rick Mercer. Final Report is a collection of Mercer's greatest rants spanning all 15 seasons of his show, Rick Mercer Report. I listened to this book on audio, and I would argue that the audiobook is a must for reading this collection. Rick Mercer narrates it himself, so you get to hear the passion in his voice as you listen. The physical copy does have a few behind the scenes photos, but they aren't essential to the book.

Final Report was perfect listening for my daily walks in lockdown. The bite-sized rants meant I could pause whenever necessary, and I am certain I learned more about Canadian politics from the six hours I spent listening to this book, than I did in some of my undergrad classes at university. As I listened, I couldn't help but wonder what Mercer's rants would sound like in 2021. Between anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers, and the 50 shades of grey lockdown Toronto was in for months, there certainly has been no shortage of content.

I definitely recommend this book. Rick Mercer's rants are sharp, witty, and straight to the point. I found myself laughing and nodding along to almost every one.

Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending this copy my way.
xo
Jenn

Monday, 24 May 2021

Take Me Home Tonight by Morgan Matson

If the movies Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Adventures in Babysitting had a book baby, it would be Take Me Home Tonight by Morgan Matson.

Best friends and high school seniors, Kat and Stevie, sneak away to spend the evening in New York City. The plan: dinner and a show. What could go wrong? It turns out... a lot, especially when neither of them have their cell phone.

This is my first Morgan Matson book, and I quite enjoyed it! Matson's writing is bright and engaging. Take Me Home Tonight is a sweet story of friendship. Through meeting a fun cast of characters, and navigating a number of unforeseen challenges in one evening, Kat and Stevie discover what matters most as they begin to think about the next chapter of their lives.

Even with a plot hole or two, Take Me Home Tonight is such a fun read, and I would recommend it to any adult or teen looking for a light-hearted tale. I know those are the books to which I've been gravitating lately. It also made me excited to travel to NYC again one day!

Thank you to Simon and Schuster Canada for sending this copy my way.

xo
Jenn

Saturday, 1 May 2021

Sebastian: 9 Years Old and 20 Questions

 


And, just like that, Sebastian is 9.


The last entry into a single digit year squeezes my heart just a little bit tighter than the before. (Though, if you asked him, he'd tell you that you can put a 0 before the 9, and make it two digits anyways.)

At age 2 he loved puzzles and I Spy books.
At age 4 it was Peppa Pig.
At age 6 it was Scooby Doo and Chirp magazines.
More recently his two big loves are video games and red pandas.

He is forgiving, funny, an excellent snuggler and by far and away my proudest accomplishment.


Every year, I ask Sebastian the same 20 questions on his birthday. Enjoy!

1. What is your favourite colour? pink (for the seventh year in a row!) and red
2. What is your favourite toy? my Nintendo Switch  
3. What is your favourite fruit? kiwi
4. What is your favourite tv show? Scooby Doo
5. What is your favourite thing to eat for lunch? tacos 
6. What is your favourite outfit? footies
7. What is your favourite game? Super Mario Maker 2
8. What is your favourite snack? anything with sugar
9. What is your favourite animal? cat and red panda
10. What is your favourite song? Wannabe 
11. What is your favourite book? Diary of a Wimpy Kid 
12. Who is your best friend? Jude
13. What is your favourite cereal? Corn Pops
14. What is your favourite thing to do outside? go on my trampoline
15. What is your favourite drink? lemonade
16. What is your favourite holiday? Christmas
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? stuffies: Adira and Ruby
18. What is your favourite thing to eat for breakfast? waffles
19. What do you want for dinner? tacos
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? YouTuber that posts several videos every day

If you're interested, here are his answers from his 8th birthday7th birthday6th birthday5th birthday4th birthday, and 3rd birthday.

xo
Jenn 

Monday, 26 April 2021

Broken by Jenny Lawson

 


"We are broken. We are healing. It never ends. And, if you look at it in just the right light, it is beautiful.'


When Raincoast Books asked me if I'd like to receive a copy of Jenny Lawson's new book, Broken (in the best possible way), I couldn't say yes fast enough. A book about how the pieces of us that are broken might actually matter the most? I can't think of a message I need more.

In Broken, Jenny Lawson writes about her mental and physical health challenges that have left her feeling, for a lack of a better word, broken. In a heartbreaking and hilarious way, she shares the ups and downs she has experienced, ultimately reminding us that we are less alone when we share these struggles with each other.

"...we often try to present our fake, shiny, happy selves to others and make sure we're not wearing too-obvious pajamas at the grocery store, but really, who wants to see that level of fraud? No one. What we really want is ti now we're not alone in our terribleness."

The chapter An Open Letter to My Health Insurance Company broke my heart, and the chapter Awkwarding Brings Us Together made me laugh until I cried.

I'm sure I'm not the only one that has found the past year more difficult than I could have possibly imagined. Feelings of brokenness, imposter syndrome, not-enough-ness, and fear have been regular companions during the pandemic.

It's serendipitous that a book about finding hope and togetherness in our broken parts has entered the world in 2021, like the Japanese art of Kintsugi that puts broken pottery pieces back together with gold. I think all readers would benefit from reading Broken. Not only because I imagine we will all see ourselves in this book somewhere along the way, but also as an act of empathy to take a peek into what life is like for someone who has chronic mental and physical struggles.

Thank you to Raincoast Books for sending this copy my way. I look forward to reading some of Jenny Lawson's backlist books sometime in the future.

xo
Jenn

Sunday, 18 April 2021

The Seat Filler by Sariah Wilson

 


Ready for a swoony, sweep you off your feet romance? Enter The Seat Filler by Sariah Wilson!

Guys, this book is SO adorable. Meet Juliet and Noah. She's a dog-groomer. He has a dog. She's terrified of kissing. He's a superstar actor who knows the benefits of practice 😉😉. 

The Seat Filler captured my interest from the very first page. Juliet and Noah have wonderful chemistry. They are fun and playful and partake in some of the dreamiest kisses I have ever read! The storyline and cast of side characters fit well, it was heartwarming and cute, and I honestly didn't ever want to put down this book. I'm sure I had a goofy smile on my face the entire time I was reading.

TL;DR - Read this book.
*happy sigh*

Jenn

PS - Thank you to Kaye Publicity for sending this book my way to review. I definitely enjoyed it and look forward to discovering more books by this author.

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