Tag Archives: Book Review

Mexico Tidbits and Rapid-Fire Beach Read Reviews!

Hellooo friends!

Darn this Hot Chocolate! My teeth are getting angry at me, whitened them last night and everything I try to eat hurts me. Blast!

Anywhoodle, I’ve been up to some trouble as of late gallivanting around the world in search of fun and exciting adventures. I was alarmingly successful in my exploration of Mexico with my family, we certainly got the most out of our trip to Puerto Vallarta. Here’s a sneak peak! Details and hilarious stories to follow!

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Rapid Fire Book Reviews

Beach Read Edition!

Here are the novels I managed to finish reading while I was away on holiday.  In all honesty I started to have a bit of a personal emotional crisis while lying on the beach, reading away. I was overcome by crashing wave of feeling as if I was wasting my precious time in another country lumping about in an uncomfortable green beach chair instead of exploring and enjoying everything this magical place had to offer. But upon further reflection the down time was necessary and I believe I made up for the lack of activity during the days larking about at night.

The Paris Wife – Paula McLain

This lovely book was an impulse grab at my local charity bookshop back home. It was three dollars and I dare say it was three dollars well bloody spent! I’ve heard mixed reviews of this book, saying it’s novelization of real life events and characters didn’t translate well, but I liked it. I think they (she…Paula McLain) may have made Hadley seem more endearing and attractive for the purpose of the novel, but that aside it was a fun look at life in the 20’s, not just in Paris, but all over Europe and North America briefly as well. Mr. Hemingway makes a very interesting character and you love him as much as you hate how he lives and treats others around him. It is easy to identify with Hadley in this respect. Darn him and his all encompassing talent!!

One Day – David Nicholls

I cheated, I’ve seen the film already. It was a lovely film and I had hopes that the novel would be even better. Alarmingly, they were strikingly similar. Both good, both detailed and clever. I don’t know if I could chose between them if it came down to it. There were occasional characters and events omitted from the film for the sake of time, but I feel they weren’t terribly central to the story. Emma and Dex are a very unlucky couple, but 90% of that is all their own fault. At times you want it to work for them, others you get frustrated and think they deserve every second of this torture and overwhelming sexual tension. It’s the entirety of two separate lives tangled together in 400 pages, and it’s done beautifully. Being written by a male, I thought the female perspective was lacking a bit of relatability, and the little things that women do when secretly in love with someone their entire life, but overall it was charming, well written and temporally accurate as the story effortless glides through the decades. Yay England! I am also extremely biased when it comes to stories set in the UK, just a heads up. 😀

So this has been another long awaited instalment of Coffee and Turtlenecks. Thanks for joining me, follow and like if that’s your cup of tea. It would make me wonderfully happy.

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-Hailey Jane


Book Review! ‘Bridget Jones, Mad About the Boy’ by Helen Fielding

Hello there ladies and gents! It’s that time of the week again! A Vlog post just for you!

This time I’m attempting to review (not at all objectively) the newest instalment in the life of Bridget Jones.  I also have another really cute mug that you should really go and see, because that alone is worth a click.  Like..seriously…it’s pretty freakin’ awesome and you have no idea the kind of brilliance you are missing.

And because it’s almost Valentines Day, here are some bonus V-Day cards! They are awesome in a sort of megalomaniacal way.

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xx

Miss Hailey Jane


I Have Now Explored Diabetes With Owls…

So there’s this book that I found….or rather, that found me. It was just staring at me at work one day, I work in a bookstore, so that’s really not all that unbelievable. What makes this an interesting occurence is that this particular book, out of the MILLIONS I literally trip over all day, was special enough to have me pick it up and investigate it.  I am going to say that the reason for this unlikely investigation may or may not be entirely because of the clever title, and that I may or may not be extremely guilty of harshly judging books by their covers. But hey, it’s worked for me so far.

Turns out…it was freaking amazing!  Though there is not a word in it about diabetic owls which is slightly upsetting..

Hoot Hoot!

This book so good that it has become my new Staff Pick at work. Sedaris has done it again, it’s hilarious, strange in that lovely and comforting kind of way, and is familiar enough that you can…or at least I could…relate to it, maybe a little more than I should have. I blame the mix of England, dead animals and the judgement of complete strangers; that gets me every time. The chapter called ‘Understanding Owls’ was my favourite by far, with ‘Mind the Gap’ being a close second. I don’t know what it is about taxidermy and popular modern literature, but it always seems to be there.

The reviews I read seemed unimpressed with the few small fiction entries, but I think they build on the work and add a little extra flavour. If you are easily offended, particularly by anything Liberal, non-religious or at all culturally diverse, I really wouldn’t recommend this book for you…and I’ve steered one or two of these people away from it and back to their Christian Fiction or Crossword Puzzles at the bookstore. Everyone else will most certainly LOVE it, I promise. If you like Augusten Burroughs or Jenny Lawson (which I do…deeply, and almost creepily), this will be right up your alley.

Now…I must find a way to acquire more!

Toodles!

-Miss Hailey Jane


A Handful of Quick Book Reviews

Hi everyone! Nice to see you all again, sorry it’s been a little bit since my last post, I’m getting settled into a new job and things are kinda crazy. Here’s a bunch of quick reviews of books I’ve been into lately. Have a look if it suits your fancy.

Beware! There are some spoilers hidden in here as well…just so you know.

Rush Home Road, Lori Lansens

This is exactly the sort of book I would never have picked up and read on my own accord. This is a good example of how enjoyable it can be to step out of your comfort zone, particularly with reading. It was selected for my book club, which explains how it ended up in my life, and I finished the five hundred and something pages in less than three days. I don’t know what it is about books that jump back and forth between two time periods that make it impossible to put down, but closing this book for the night took serious will power. Sarah’s Key was much the same. It wasn’t a pretty story and at times it made me very sad. Based in the lower class area of rural Southern Ontario, close to the city where I currently live, it painted a very different picture of the area than I have become familiar with. Even though it was fiction,  it was quite spooky reading about places I know well, visit and pass through frequently. I also love how it wraps itself up into a beautiful bow at the end. I felt satisfied with the way it ended, yet still wished for more, which I think is the mark of a good story. And yes…I cried, which made my face hurt while I was trying to read the last few pages. Kudos to ‘the Mumsie’ for her great book choice!  Four Stars

 

 

Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck

After realizing I had never been force fed any Steinbeck in High School, I picked this one up to get a bit of a taste. It was a very quick and easy read, yet it certainly had feeling.  The emotional conflict within the characters in the story was so powerful it nearly seeps out of the pages. Few feelings are spoken in the dialogue, but you by all means know that they are there in the actions taken by several individuals. No tears materialized in myself while reading this book, but I think because if it’s length I was unable to really connect or relate to either of the main characters. But that’s my bad. It’s been said that this was a story about special needs, before special needs was a pressing social issue, and I agree wholeheartedly with that.  Lennie and George are quite the pair, and their strong and solid relationship is a kind I don’t often come across outside of family in life or in fiction. It paints a vivid picture of life in America during the depression, and illustrates the hopes and dreams of the people living and fighting their way through it. Sacrifices for the good of the many is a strong theme it presents, as well as hard work, compliance and conformity in lesser notes.  A classic, and rightfully so. Three Stars

 

 

The Giver, Lois Lowry

Another book that I regret not picking up when I was young. It was suggested to me for an assignment by my teacher when I was in seventh grade and I turned it down to read what everyone else was reading, and I can’t help but feel the irony in that. After reading it now, I described it to someone as 1984, but for children. It’s about a seemingly utopian (or rather dystopian) isolated culture, with no fear, choices, pain, happiness or sunshine. My mind was absolutely blown when I learned it was colour Jonas was beginning to see when he started to ‘see-beyond’. The setting, and structure of the society was brilliantly laid out in the first half of the book, and I feel it could have been greatly expanded on, and that it ended far too soon. There are other books in the series, and with any luck they will expand on the already established foundation that The Giver had created. I just wished I knew more about what happened to all of the other characters after Jonas left. It left me thinking it was unfinished. I agree with the messages it presents to children, and an opportunity to begin to question their own world. What is right? People can lie? What choices will I have to make? And It very delicately addresses puberty or ‘The Stirrings’, but then abandons it without further reference, which I thought was odd. Overall, a book I could have used at 11. Three and a half Stars

 

I Heart London, Lindsey Kelk

This book was not exactly what I expected. I picked it up because of my obvious love of London, and not knowing it was the fifth book in the series (or something ridiculous like that) I was a little lost in the beginning. But it turns out it was readable as a stand alone book, I just didn’t get the references to all of the events that happened previously. It’s a girly book, about a wedding, and boyfriends, and ex boyfriends, and completely unrealistic in every way. Oh look, she’s a writer from London living in New York with a great job and too much money, dating..no…engaged to a musician from a relatively famous musical group, with more rich friends than she knows what to do with. Her problems in general are petty, they include rivalries at work with evil co-workers cousins, while trying to start a shallow magazine that might not fly (because it’s about beauty and fashion and does the world really need another overpriced photoshopped wonder to make women feel worse about themselves?), an ex-boyfriend that cheated on her once so she up and LEFT THE COUNTRY without even an explanation, and now a wedding that her unrealistic perfectly British parents and psycho best friend are planning in less than a week. I was sad there wasn’t more about actual London in this book, but what could I expect. There’s pink on the cover.  From Notting Hill With Love was much better and I would recommend that if you’re looking for something fluffy and London-ie and actually enjoyable. Two Stars

Miss Hailey Jane

And really…”Kissing Ron Howard” will be coming along soon, I swear!

 


The Great Gatsby: Round Two

Going back, after however many years, and reading a book over again can yield a tremendously different overall experience.

What I am getting at here, is that I recently found myself going back (in time?) and re-reading ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald. When I read it for the first time I was oh…fourteen years old, maybe fifteen, and I very much didn’t get the gist of the thing at all. I was a good student in general and got mostly A’s for my work, but this one book didn’t do anything at all for me at the time. Maybe high school English classes have  bad habit of killing great books anyway, but I think this may have been a special case.

I was recently moved to go back to this classic, rather shamefully, because a new film by one of my favourite directors is being released this Christmas, bearing the same title. Baz Luhrmann is magically putting together another adaptation of the story, and I wanted to be a bit more up on it beforehand.

When I pressed my brain to try to remember the story line, recalling that I had read it in my ‘youth’, I was more or less at a loss. I distinctly remember sitting down in my basement with the Penguin edition of the book and reading it, but I couldn’t remember any of the plot.  None of it at all. I knew there was a yellow car, a girl called Daisy and a fancy house. That was it. I could almost feel the shame and disappointment careening towards me from my old English teacher.  I was one of those students.  The one’s they talk about in the staff room, as being hopeless and generally uninterested. The, “They’re just not going to get it no matter how you teach it” sort of conversations. But deep down I knew I wasn’t really like this, and I felt sad. So as to make some sort of otherworldly amends towards said teacher, I got myself another copy of the book, and sat down and had at it again.

The result of this thought experiment turns out to have been a general success. The book itself did not seem as long and daunting as  remember it being, and it’s setting seemed much more attractive now having known a bit more about that era in general (Thanks to a hearty helping of Jeeves and Wooster as of late).  The character of Nick Carraway though, I was still not comfortable with. I think we know too little about his personality and mannerisms to get a good grip of him, particularly as he is the one delivering the story. But that might just be my humble opinion.

The idea of Gatsby enchanted me this second time around, being a complex character with many levels of mystery and attractiveness that change as time passes,  but initially I was just confused and left to wonder how it all made sense.

In hindsight I could have used the lesson in this story at the time, being everyone and no one, all at once. It would have done a great deal to help me through high school, but alas, that concept was never touched on. It all makes me wonder how many other great books I have shunned because of my fabricated hatred for them due to the tradition of force feeding literature.

Maybe that little purple book about racism and Boo Radley wasn’t so terrible after all,  maybe Macbeth wasn’t just about someone’s crazy mother who could have used a Valium,  and just maybe Frankenstein was in fact as exciting as the movie. If only I would let my imagination go back to these times and see with a more refined and educated perception, what all of those teachers are endlessly trying to teach.

And maybe after all that, I will no longer be one of those students.

-Miss Hailey Jane


Committed: a Quick Book Review

Committed 

By Elizabeth Gilbert

I wasn’t expecting to love this book as much as I did, mostly because I hadn’t seen any encouraging reviews, but it turns out it is one of the more interesting and well-written, albeit woman oriented books I’ve come across in a long time. I’ll actually go so far as to say that I liked it more than Eat Pray Love (the prequel, also by Mrs. Gilbert). I found it an enjoyable pseudo anthropological/ethnographical insight into the world and history of marriage. Yes it is centred around her own current personal problem with the issue of marriage, but I found I strongly related to her initial opinions and fears about the subject of wedlock (‘lock’ being the operative word here…). You learn that being married hasn’t ever really been the most beneficial to women as a rule, and has been throughout history a form of control. Yet also, when the institution was attempted to be dissolved by various forms of government or religion, marriage always prevailed because it is insanely hard to control what ideas, actions and opinions are harboured between two private people. This impenetrable team has endured throughout history and this book does a great job of lighting both sides of the argument for and against holy or at least state official matrimony. It even addresses the ever so touchy subject of gay marriage, and does so fantastically.

I was with Elizabeth wholeheartedly the entire way across East Asia, waiting for permission to come home to America and be married almost against her will. It was a very powerful story, at least it was for me due to my strong opinions about everything related to the boat anchor that is a wedding ring.  If you are a person about to get married, a strongly reccomend you pick up this book and at least learn what it is you’re getting into. This book is in NO WAY anti-marriage, it just lays out the history and the facts collected by a woman who found herself facing a very tough decision.  It talks about family, culture, nationality, security, commitment, sacrifice and autonomy but most of all it’s about love.

In the end I found I enjoyed this quick, light yet significant read very much, and I am actually trying to convince my gentleman to read it…but that might be like getting a camel through the eye of a needle at this point. I might have to tell him it’s about tanks and put a new book jacket on it….that should do.

-Miss Hailey Jane


Book Review: The Time Traveler’s Wife

For my Book Club this month, we decided to tackle “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger. (I hope none of you book club people read this, because our meeting is Sunday night). First off, I just want to say, this novel was leaps and bounds better than I had originally thought it was going to be.

I completed its’ 500 or so pages in less than 10 days, which is higher than average for me, and I found it’s structure very accommodating and pleasing.  The three parts, several chapters, different perspectives, years and ages I thought were going to lead to a convoluted novel that was hard to follow, but I find it flowed very nicely, and was not in any way difficult to keep track of.  Mind you, that being said I didn’t do the math in my head of how old Henry should be in that particular year, but as long as you had a general idea based on other surrounding events it made complete sense, and I’ll just take Audrey’s word for how old he was supposed to be and when.

I would also like to point out, that unlike with Atonement, I had not seen the film prior to reading the book. In fact, I have not even seen the film at all yet. I even made a point of not looking at which actors were playing the characters, so as to not colour my mental image of them in the book as described by Audrey.  Which is ideal I think.

The main characters were very well developed, and had to be, because this story incorporates the majority of their entire lives. The secondary characters were more or less just touched on, other than Henry’s family including Kimy. I felt Clare’s mother wasn’t used enough as influence, and her condition wasn’t explained as clearly as it could have been. She is, after all, Clare’s mother and whether or not her and Clare had an excellent or terrible relationship, she would have had more of a significant influence on her life and choices. At least, that’s what I think.

The story itself was very unique, and I can honestly say it was not predictable at all. I had a few guesses as to how it was going to end, but I was very wrong. The way the author explains the nature of Henry’s time travel makes it come across as completely normal and by the fifth or so page, you really are OK with it, and wish everyone else would just understand as well as you so Henry wouldn’t have to fight his whole life.  The nakedness is an irritating touch as well; Poor guy.   But as I said, this book is fantastic and I would hightly recommend it to anyone who wants a new kind of love story.  It’s great too because it’s not all mushy, and typical upper-middle-class suburban living like I had anticipated.  It’s very real, in a city-living way, with a unique artistic cultured background, with throwbacks to retro music and style.

What I would like to know, is how Henry managed to get a Masters in Library Science with his condition. Popping in and out of exams wouldn’t go over well I’d imagine. And I’m not exactly impressed with the author leaving out his entire Post-Secondary educational experience. I guess we just have to understand that he did manage to do it, and get a great job in an awesome city library that I would kill for (no personal bias there whatsoever ;)… I promise)

I felt a lot of different emotions while reading this book, as I’m sure I was supposed to. I felt anger at Clare’s mother as well as Henry’s father. I was suspicious of  Gomez from the second we met him, and felt sorry for Ingrid. I was also very involved with their attempt to have a child, and when Clare went into labour with the fear of Henry not being there, I will admit I was slightly in tears, and all snivley.

I have read that some reviewers find the book melodramatic and trite, but I personally think that was because of the nature of their relationship. It was a dramatic relationship, and had been rather punctuated throughout their entire lives. There was never an extended period of perfect calm, and change could happen at any moment. Drama defined them.  I would not call this novel trite either, but have not personally read a lot of time travel novels, so I cannot say I expected any of the events to unfurl as they did. It also may not be relevant to today’s society or make a big political statement or anything, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good novel.

Reading about the entirety of two characters lives in under ten days can leave you feeling different, fuller perhaps. Henry’s youth seems so long ago to me, but I was only experiencing it a few days ago. And what a strange youth it was. I was a little taken aback by Henry’s experiences with himself as a teenager, I found that a little strange but then I asked myself what I would have done in that same situation, and really could come up with an appropriate answer. I also asked my boyfriend, if he were in that scenario, what would he do?….but all I received was a REALLY funny look of concern and judgement, so I moved on… I was also a little shaken about what happened to Clare in High School with that guy from the football team she dated.  The idea of an older Henry coming back and helping her like that seemed sensible, but I think they took it a little bit too far. I dunno, I would appreciate other people’s thoughts on this one I think..

On the whole, The Time Traveler’s Wife was a superb read, a welcomed break from reality into a slightly different world. I can certainly understand why it’s so popular in today’s fiction, because it really is more than just another romance novel. It has a life of it’s own, and a real story to tell.

Good job Audrey, and thanks for writing this great novel.From: http://www.thekitchn.com

-Miss Hailey Jane