‘All The Missing Girls’ by Megan Miranda

First of all, this book, man. It’s told in reverse, is a mystery that literally keeps you guessing, and refuses to let go of your heart strings. Normally, i’m not a fan of books told backwards but Megan Miranda makes it work somehow. Not entirely sure how but she does. Anyways, moving on.

This book follows the protagonist, Nicolette (or Nic), as she moves back home to take care of her dad after he calls about seeing a missing girl. Along with her brother, Daniel, they check him into a nursing facility specializing in dementia care. And you learn that 10 years ago, after graduating high school, Nic’s best friend, Corinne, suspiciously went missing after the annual town carnival. And she was last seen with Nic and her then boyfriend, Tyler Then suspiciously, a few days after Nic arrives in town present day, another girl named Annaleise goes missing. The funny thing? It’s Tyler’s current girlfriend.

The plot thickens as you go back in time learning about how Annaleise is tied to Corrine’s missing, what actually happens to Corrine that fateful night, and how family feuds as well as old flames never really go away or fade quietly. It’s an interesting part where every chapter is named The Day Before or some unit of time. I’ve been getting into mysteries lately and this one by far takes the cake with keeping me on the edge of my seat the entire time. The twist at the end literally had me gasping. ANd normally, I pride myself on being able to call who done it halfway into something.

It’s also a fascinating look into how first loves never really go away and sometimes family wounds run deeper than one could ever imagine. As the old adage, every family is screwed up in their own way. And Nic’s family definitely fits the bill.

This book is a great look into what it means to be human, to fail, to lose, and still pick yourself back up again. It dives into what coming home really means when your past is less than picture perfect and how there’s never one pure definition of coming home.

I loved this book and read the bulk of it on a 9 hour flight from Paris. It’s great, dark, and fascinating. I loved it.

Favourite quote: If there’s a feeling to coming home –something comforting and nostalgic: a mother’s cooking, a family pet sleeping at the foot of the bed, an old hammock strung between trees in the yard — for me, it’s this. It’s Tyler. KNowing that there’s someone who has seen all the different versions of me; watched as they stacked themselves inside one another; knows all the choices I’ve made, the lies I’ve told, the things I’ve lost, and still. 

Advertisements

“The Gift From The Sea” By Anne Morrow Lindbergh

This book is short, sweet, and refreshing. It makes you feel like you’re in a beach house somewhere off the coast where nobody can find you and you come back completely differently. You know, the way a beach house is supposed to be. At least, the ones I visited growing up and dreamed of having one day. Anyway, this book follows the author while she’s on a solo writing retreat, collecting sea shells, and trying to figure out what it means to be a real modern woman.

Though it was written in 1955, a lot of the lessons still hold up today surprisingly. Where you learn that sometimes you just need to get away from it all, go somewhere where you’re forced to relax, and where time is a little slower than the city. Lindbergh goes into how she could never make a full time life by the beach but that might just be why it’s a needed refresher every so often.

The Gift From The Sea reminds us of the old adage and cliche “The cure for anything is salt water — sweat, tears, or the sea”. And it’s something you never really understand until you see for the ocean for the first time. Because we all know a good sweat sesh at the gym or crying big heaving tears can be cathartic. But the ocean, man. The ocean is something else. I can’t really explain it but I always come back from it refreshed, rejuvenated, and recharged. It’s something phenomenal that I cannot wait to get back to again.

The only thing missing from this book was that I was left wanting more. But I’m not sure how much longer it could be while still giving the theme and message of it justice. Maybe I’ll just have to pen the sequel!

4/5 

Well, I’m in Spain, my loves, and I cannot wait explore San Sebastian. Send me your recommendations!

The Sun & Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

I’m sure you’ve seen some of Rupi Kaur’s poetry all over your social media and it’s probably made you cry. Or at the very least, pulled at your heart strings just a little bit. Unless you’re the Grinch or that guy who says ‘Bah Humbug’ during the holiday season every year.

Rupi Kaur writes poems on everything from being an immigrant to falling in love to being victim to sexual violence & incest. Her stuff is powerful, poignant, and gut wrenching at the same time. I read her first book, Milk and Honey, earlier this year and thought this second novel of hers would be a similar gut punch. While it was, I wasn’t expecting to have nightmares, flashbacks, and an unexpected catharsis at the end of it.

She’s blunt in her diagnosis of being a child of immigrants and how strenuous it was on her parents to come somewhere new and with a significant language barrier. Her work is novel in its simplicity and it’s no shocking development that The Sun & Her Flowers is yet again a bestseller for Kaur. Her pieces are short, sweet, and to the point. They pack a punch harder than Tyson and Mayweather combined but with the virality of something you can’t stop thinking about it, even when you don’t want to.

Kaur is brilliant. Her work came to success thru social media and the day & age where we passionately look for something to cling to when we’re so unsure mentally and politically. For me at least, Kaur put my own pain and triumph into words. She made things in my past come to light and made me face them head on not because I was afraid but because I was ready to tackle them. I wasn’t alone after reading her work and I’m beyond thankful for that.

Whenever somebody can take trauma into words that are poignant and not condescending, I’m in awe. And i’m thankful for the addition to the ever changing conversation. With the ever growing need for the arts, especially poetry, we need authors and poets like Rupi Kaur to be unashamed in their past and vigilante in their futures.

Be warned, this book is frank in its discussion of sexual violence, abuse, and immigration. If you’re in a spot where you can read about this subject matter, please do. It will take your breath away but it will bring you back to center all in the same cover to cover.

Favourite poem: I woke up thinking the work was done/I would not have to practice today/how naive to think healing was that easy/when there is no end point/no finish line to cross/healing is everyday work 

Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman by Anne Helen Peterson

First off, this book is a series of essays about famous women we all know — ie, Hillary Clinton, Kim Kardashian, Lena Dunham, etc — and all have strong opinions about, whether positive or negative. And second off, it’s nothing quite like I expected. Which I’m still trying to figure out if that’s a positive for me or not.

Originally, when I heard about this book, I thought the essays were penned by the women they’re about. But each woman portrayed is an image of something in our society that women aren’t necessarily supposed to be. Like too naked, too queer, or too loud. And all the essays are by Anne Helen Peterson, diving into what it means to be a woman today and be accused of being less than femininely perfect.

It’s a fascinating read and demands that you analyze these women thru Peterson’s lens and see if the points she brings up ring true for you. Taking, for example, the essay about Serena Williams, Peterson shares Williams’s history, how she was introduced to the game, and for being an African American woman who’s beyond successful in what’s typically presented as a white person’s sport. Then she pulls apart how the media and casual conversations attaches adjectives like “too strong” or “too masculine” or “too muscular” to Williams like it’s perfectly acceptable to criticize a person’s body when it’s not seen as the norm for something.

With Kim Kardashian or Nicki Minaj or Hillary Clinton or any of the women in this book, there are strong opinions about them. The adjectives we use daily to describe these powerful and strong women can be nothing short of ridiculous. And while at times Peterson’s prose is a little in your face at times if you’re not used to a women throwing caution to the wind and being an unapologetic feminist, she demands that you look in the mirror and see how you yourself see these women as well as how you address them.

To be honest, it took me a bit to read this book. Not because it was dense or uninteresting or material I didn’t want to dive more into, but because it was material requiring me to think. We’re so used to throwing these words around about women that they’re too much of something and not enough women. When the reality is that we live in a world where women can quite literally be anything they want and are still susceptible to ridiculous questions about their ideologies, their weight, their age, etc. And not to mention the wage gap or the inability to grasp that a woman can in fact know football routes in addition to STEM and fashion.

It’s a crazy world out there right now and I’m tired of the division amongst women. It’s books like Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud that take a critical lense to feminism, the lack of intersectionality, and what it means to be a woman in the public eye. This book may not be for the hearts unwilling to be exposed to new ideas but it is for those who are too much of something and refuse to fit into a box.

Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I can’t remember how I heard about this book but I’m sure glad I did. Maybe in Another Life is totally a beach read that you must have in your library if you’re getting over a bad breakup, need a reminder that love does exist out there somewhere, or if you believe in parallel universes and the butterfly effect. Or, ya know, you just need a good beach read that doesn’t take much brain cells or neurons to get thru.

I’m fairly certain I finished this book in about a day or so, give or take. Maybe thats because I needed a good mind numbing book or maybe it’s that i heavily relate to the protagonist, Hannah. The book starts off with her moving back to LA from New York City, fresh off an affair with a married man. She’s worked a few jobs since graduating college and lived in more than a few cities across the country. If you know me in real life, that’s me. I’ve moved 5 times to 4 different states in about 5 years. And let me tell you, it’s not easy. It’s confusing, weird, and I’m still not entirely sure what I’m doing. But i”m starting to be a lot happier than I was a few years ago. I’ll take that as a win.

Tangent aside, I relate heavily to the protagonist. And this novel, though fiction, is set up in an interesting way. The first chapter is present day, Hannah moves back to LA. Goes out with her friend Gabby and meets an old high school boyfriend, Ethan, where there’s still some unresolved ties left to be dealt with. At the end of the night, when Gabby decides to go home, does Hannah stay out with Ethan? Or does she go home early?

Therein lies the rest of the book. Every other chapter explores what would have happened if Hannah stayed out or if she went home. There are some overlapping characters that it seems like she would have met regardless and some overlying themes, like a freaking unexpected pregnancy by said married man. Don’t worry, I’m not giving away anything too major here.

It’s a really interesting read that explores the could bes and the what ifs that we all have about ex significant others.  That if we chose differently or if our car didn’t break down or xyz event, how would our lives end up? What kind of people would we be if we made different choices or were in different circumstances? It’s fascinating to think about, as long as you don’t go down the rabbit hole for too long.

This is a really easy read, especially if you’re laying out in the sun by some open water with your drink of choice nearby. It won’t necessarily rock your world or teach you quantum mechanics anytime soon. But it will make you think about your life and your choices and that one ex we all have that got away. This book is delightful and fun and witty and I love that it’s set in one of my loves, The City of Angels.

4/5 

The World According to Star Wars by Cass R. Sunstein

Okay, first off, I know I don’t look like a Star Wars fan but as I’m sure many can attest, Star Wars is my jam. It’s like Rocky but the nerdy version and less fighting meat racks & running up stairs. Star Wars reminds me of the days and weekends spent with my brother and dad just watching the original trilogy and trying to figure out who shot first. Which was Han — am I right or am I right?

Anyway, I picked this book up on a win because a blog I follow recommended it and I needed a geeky yet fun book to read. I honestly thought that this was a fun read about some nuances to Star Wars trivia that I didn’t know before. But what I didn’t realize is that I’d finish this in 48 hours (because, ya know, sleep and work. adulting stuff) and learn more than I thought I would about religion, philosophy, and political rebellion in terms of pop culture and potentially the world’s largest movie phenomenon.

I almost want to read this book again right now just to absorb all the knowledge dropped on me in 180 pages — it’s a short read with a ton of references to studies, papers, and more that were actually done on the relevance of Star Wars in today’s society and culture. It makes sense if you think about it and if you’ve seen every installment, including the less than stellar trilogy in the early 2000’s.

Anyway, the author, Cass R. Sunstein, is one of the United States’ most cited law professors both stateside and internationally. He’s married to the US ambassador to the UN and has been published more times than I can count on any limb. His main argument is that while Star Wars is a timeless installment in our media files, it also draws a lot of parallels to modern and current affairs.

Take for instance, the Empire v. the Resistance. throughout Amerian history, when has there not been some sort of counter culture or outright rebellion against the government? For Christ sake, we were founded on one when our Four Fathers led a revolution against England on religious freedom and taxation with representation. Sunstein (what a fun last name by the way) dives into how each factor of Star Wars is basically a metaphor for strife, overcoming hardship, and making something out of nothing. He also highlights the potential reasons why a movie like Star Wars was such a hit and became such a classic today. It’s mostly, as with anything, timing and a bit of luck. Plus, in the 70’s, there was Nixon, and from what I’ve heard from first hand accounts and history books — the people needed any form of good they could get.

Additionally, I was shocked to find out that not only George Lucas but also Fox Films, who financed the original trilogy, didn’t even think Star Wars was going to be a success and that it’s a loose remake of the old Flash Gordon series. Star Wars makes you feel good. It makes you realize that there are people with truly good intentions and that there is real evil in the world. We’ve all got both sides in us, it just depends on which side we feed the most and what circumstances we fall into when we need to make the decision the most.

Read this book. You need to. It puts our history into perspective and how we can learn from the past without fear of knowing we’ll repeat the same mistakes again with our own children.

Favourite quote: Because casual chains are so complex, and because so many events are necessary conditions for others, the idea of a butterfly effect is not at all preposterous. If someone’s dog had gotten sick on an important occasion, or if someone else had stayed home….perhaps everything would have been different. World changing butterflies are everywhere; they define our lives. 

Kristin Hannah ‘The Nightingale’

I literally just finished this book and all i have to say is wow. This book is powerful beyond measure, even though it starts off slow. I picked this book up a few months ago because a friend recommended it and I needed more books, naturally, even though my bookshelves are close to overflowing.

This book follows a pair of sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, during WWII. One sister gets incredibly involved in The Resistance, saving over 100 lives from Nazi soldiers and the other is barely trying to stay alive yet saves dozens of Jewish children. This book is a gut wrencher and it will make you feel things. Have a box of tissues ready once you finish, I bawled like a baby. Good thing I could snuggle with my dog afterwards.

This book is enlightening into what it took to just survive during WWII in France when the Germans and the SS took over. It’s a great piece of historical literature that dives into just how heinous the SS and the Nazis really were. I don’t think we can really grasp that level of hatred today if you’re not a minority and it’s mindblowing that somebody, let alone a group of people, can hate that intensely.

The Nightingale seemed apt for these times in America. There is so much hatred, bigotry, and more going on that it’s absolutely despicable. We have people that refuse to denounce some of the biggest hate groups simply to ‘preserve history’ yet it’s clear that the longer these groups are thought to be acceptable, the more damage they can do to those who are considered ‘different’.

This is a tangent I could go on and on about and still feel like i haven’t gotten anywhere. AFter all, who am I to talk? I may be a woman living in America but I’m also Caucasian. I read books like The Nightingale to remind myself of history lessons that should never be forgotten or repeated, ever.

Do yourself a favour and read this book. It starts off slowly — to be honest, I almost stopped reading it in the beginning — but it picks up and man, this book is a whirlwind. Once it gets going, you can’t put it down.

Favourite quote: Getting out of bed was not appealing but neither was starving to death. 

5/5