Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s day to everyone out there! Spend today with your loved one and do something special even if that is only watching a show together or just spending some quality time hanging out.

Or if you are single, don’t sweat it. Today is your day to celebrate you and your awesomeness!

This is a short and sweet post but just wanted to let everyone know to enjoy their day regardless of being in a relationship or not. We don’t celebrate ourselves enough and we all deserve it. Stay tuned for a review of the second book in a trilogy I am reading. It will be posted tomorrow :).

Sabon

Book Review​: Treading The Uneven Road

Bookworms! I have the pleasure of sharing another review with you. This one was called Treading The Uneven Road by L.M. Brown and was published by Fomite Press.

Cover of Threading The Uneven Road

Synopsis: The stories in this linked collection are set in a small village in the Northwest of Ireland in the early 1980’s and 90’s. A bypass around the village has rid them of their once busy traffic. The residents feel forgotten by the world. The need to reach out and be heard is explored in every story, from the young woman who starts to have phone conversations with her husband’s gay lover, to the dyslexic man who confronts his cruel teacher years later.

The collection is not only about the characters need for salvation but it is about a society that is unraveling. In Amends, we hear about the Bishop who has fathered a child. A priest is beckoned by a dying man to be mocked. The world inside and outside the village is changing. In every story, the characters need to make a choice on how they might carry on.

This book was a breath of fresh air. Not only did it satisfy my craving of travel with its beautiful descriptions of Northwest Ireland and the surrounding landscapes, but it also brought on this feeling of “lust” (not sure if this is the right word) to go there and see it for myself.

A lot of times, I won’t read a synopsis and jump right into a book so that I am completely unprepared and surprised by everything. An example would be to watch a movie without seeing the trailer for the non-readers out there. So I was very excited when I realized that all of these short stories were connected to the next and previous stories and the characters were the same in most of them. It was like revealing a little bit more of the townsfolk piece by piece from different viewpoints.

The story about Patrick was my favorite. He had a rough encounter that left his relationship with his father very tense (I won’t say what it is, no spoilers here). It made me feel for Patrick and just want him to succeed and be happy. The only downfall to this story is that I wanted more of it. It left me wondering if he would be ok and I just wasn’t ready to leave it at that.

All of these stories were just people being themselves and trying to fit into society or be what society wanted them to be. The feelings were raw and powerful and it came through in the way the author wrote about her characters.

I would recommend this book to anyone that wants intricate storytelling of an Irish village and all the components that make up its inner workings. It wasn’t a “WOW this is amazing” book but more of a subtle “wow I quite enjoyed that”.

Book Rating: 4/5

About the Author
L.M Brown is the author of the novel Debris. Her stories have appeared in numerous literary magazines. She grew up in Sligo, Ireland, but now resides in Massachusetts with her husband, three daughters, a dog and a bearded dragon.

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in ebook format by the author to read and give an honest review.

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Book Review: The Suitcase and The Jar

I had the pleasure of reviewing a book called The Suitcase and The Jar by Becky Livingston. This book was sent to me by a publishing company called Caitlin Press. They are based out of British Columbia and were excited to do this collaboration with me when I approached them back in late October. Sara joined me and read this one as well so we will have 2 reviews below (one from me and one from her).

Synopsis: When a brain tumor takes the life of Becky Livingston’s twenty-three-year-old daughter Rachel, her life takes an unconventional turn. Rachel, an avid traveler, had one wish: to keep exploring the world.

So, for twenty-six months Livingston travels — untethered and alone — to Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Australia, India, England, Ireland, and North America, coast to coast. In her suitcase: Rachel’s ashes, heavy but compact. As she gradually merges her daughter’s remains with the elements, Livingston learns how to forge a new sense of belonging in an unfamiliar world.

Is it reckless for a fifty-three-year-old mother to quit her job and set off overseas with no agenda or timeline? Is such a journey squandering a life, or saving it?

Sara’s Review: This book is a memoir of a mother who has lost one of her daughters. She travels the world by house-sitting internationally, and she has brought a jar of her daughter’s ashes with her to leave in the places she finds beautiful. Throughout the book, Livingston reveals, through memories, her daughter’s life and death, as well as how she begins to attempt to piece her life back together after the loss.

This book was a very intriguing read, at first, as the writing is so brilliantly done that it is very easy to understand and empathize the author’s loss. I enjoyed the way we were both observing the loss as well as reading about poignant memories of her daughter before her death. As we learn about and grow with the author as she begins to feel like she can move on, I was particularly intrigued by the realizations and personal growth that was achieved and expressed. The writing in this novel does an excellent job of articulating something as inarticulate as an extreme loss, especially the loss of a child too young.

Through Livingston’s journey of acceptance both before and after her daughter’s death, it is so easy to feel her pain and understand all her feelings and reactions. I really enjoyed being able to experience something like this in such a beautiful and well-composed way, especially as it is a memoir rather than fiction.

Eventually, unfortunately, the book begins to feel like you’ve read it before, in that near the last quarter of the book it seems as though all the feelings have been adequately expressed, and it begins to feel repetitive. Though still beautifully written, you begin to feel like Livingston is just restating what she has already written in slightly changed ways. Although I can’t quite complain about a “character” in a non-fiction book, there were times when I had trouble understanding what comes off as selfishness from the author. Although she suffered the terrible loss of her daughter, she has another daughter whom she completely leaves and loses touch with during her journey, and evidently was too distracted by her sick daughter to ever be close to her second daughter even before the death.

Overall, I quite enjoyed this book. It was well constructed, I enjoyed the style and the writing, I was able to fully empathize with the author, and the story was beautiful and sad and meaningful. I only wish that it had been about 50 pages more succinct, and then I think that I would be more apt to recommend this book to others.

Sara’s Book Rating: 4/5

My Review: I can honestly say that I have never read a book like this before. It was very unique to see the perspective of the mother throughout her daughter’s slow decline from her brain tumor. Grief can play so many roles in one’s life and Becky had to deal with the loss of her fiance and the loss of her daughter to the same type of tumor. She explains how she dealt with this grief in many different ways and how there is no shelf life for the feeling of loss when someone you spend your life raising dies before you do.

What inspired me was the nomad lifestyle she took on to explore and distribute some of her daughter’s ashes in places all over the world. It helped her in her grieving process and it was a way to fulfill Rachel’s love of traveling in a way she never could. I wish I could go travel the world like Becky did (not under the same circumstances but to be able to see the many amazing places and destinations this world has to offer).

I find at some parts of the book, it gets a bit repetitive but this could be to illustrate the same routine that Becky had to go through while being a mother caring for family members that were terminally ill.

Overall, it was an enlightening book about a mother’s journey to figure out what life has to offer after losing what was most important to her.

My Book Rating: 3.5/5

You can get this book directly from the publisher on Caitlin Press or you can buy it on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us by Caitlin Press in physical paperback format to read and give an honest review.

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Book Review: Foe by Iain Reid

Wow. Just wow. This book was awesome! Hey bookworms, I have another review to share with you. This one is called Foe by Iain Red. and was sent to me by NetGalley for review.

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Synopsis: In Iain Reid’s second haunting, philosophical puzzle of a novel, set in the near-future, Junior and Henrietta live a comfortable, solitary life on their farm, far from the city lights, but in close quarters with each other. One day, a stranger from the city arrives with alarming news: Junior has been randomly selected to travel far away from the farm…very far away. The most unusual part? Arrangements have already been made so that when he leaves, Henrietta won’t have a chance to miss him, because she won’t be left alone—not even for a moment. Henrietta will have company. Familiar company.

It would be classified as a sci-fi psychological thriller? It’s Iain Reid. His books for lack of a better word f**k with your head but in a good way that keeps you drawn into the story and wanting more.

I figured out the twist pretty quickly but read the entire story to get the satisfaction that I was right. It was like unpeeling an onion layer by layer and unveiling each new part to the story that gave you just a little bit more.

The character development was wonderful. The main characters become so engrossed in their lives together yet are so far apart from each other at the same time. They get set in routine but don’t actually realize what the other is feeling.

If you don’t want to know any more, go buy this book! But below I will reveal a spoiler so don’t read it if you don’t want to know the end.

SPOILER BEGINNING

SPOILER HERE - READ AT YOUR OWN RISK

So I knew right from the beginning that Junior wasn’t human due to the fact that when he spoke, there were no parentheses around his words. None the less, I was still engrossed in his character development and loved learning about the Installation and where the real Junior has been all along.

I also love that Henrietta actually left the real Junior at the end to make a life for herself that was her own and where she wasn’t expected to be at Junior’s beck and call. The fact that Junior couldn’t tell the difference between real Hen and a fake shows a lot about his personality and his connection or lack thereof with the real Hen.

SPOILER END

This book is a must-read recommendation from me! I want to talk about it with others and hear their opinions. If you have read the book, leave a comment below about what you thought.

Book Rating: 5/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in ebook format from NetGalley to read and give an honest review.

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Guest Post: Jodi Picoult Interview

Hey bookworms! So I have been connecting with a lot of different bloggers lately and one had reached out to me about the interview she had with Jodi Picoult. I decided I would share her post because it was a good interview and I am sure that many of you know who Jodi Picoult is and would be interested.

But first, a little blurb about Ana!

Ana Milosavic works in marketing in the tech space, and on the side runs a blog that is focused on career growth and journeys and helping others achieve their own version of success. Ana hopes that her interviews with women in all stages of their career will help others reach goals they thought were unachievable, and will give them a realistic expectation of what it takes to get to their dream job – while breaking many glass ceilings along the way! As a huge bookworm (and leader of two book clubs in Vancouver, Canada), she was very excited to get the chance to interview author Jodi Picoult. Ana and Jodi discuss career, including Jodi’s inspirations, best and worst career advice, mentors and much more.

Website: anamilosavic.com

Instagram: @amilosavic


Interview with Jodi Picoult

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Occupation:
Writer

Why do you do what you do?
I can’t not write.

What’s your current dream job?
To be a writer… and a Broadway librettist.

Tell us what your average day looks like.
I get up and run for a few miles, then go up to my computer and edit my way through whatever I was writing yesterday, and when I get to a blank spot I keep writing. I continue until about 4 pm.

It’s great to see that you are living your dream job! Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Hopefully still writing novels, and perhaps winning a Tony.

Amazing, I have zero doubt! Have you had any big career struggles so far?
It was very hard, at the beginning, to write what I wanted to write – fiction that asked moral questions. There were not many writers doing such and finding an audience was a slow climb. Also, being categorized as commercial fiction or women’s fiction has prevented people from taking my work seriously.

And what has been your biggest career win so far?
11 consecutive #1 NYT bestsellers.

Now that’s a career win! Is there any career advice you’ve received that you still hold on to?
Don’t write about the dinosaurs ’til they become oil – in other words, don’t write about what happens to you until you have time to process your emotions and regard the incident from an objective POV.

What about bad career advice?
Write that sells.

You have achieved so much already! What is the one thing you are most proud of?
My three children, who are all changing the world in various ways.

Is there one person that has inspired you in your career?
My editor, Jennifer Hershey – who is extraordinary at her craft – and my publicist, Susan Corcoran, who makes my life so much easier.

I think mentors are so important to a successful career. Do you have any mentors?
My former professor, Mary Morris, who taught me everything I know.

When do you feel the most confident?
When I’m standing in front of an audience talking about one of my books.

LIGHTNING ROUND

Currently coveting: Chocolate.

Favorite way to sweat: Hiking.

Favorite book: Too many to name.

Morning person or night owl? Morning person.

Favorite food: Chocolate ice cream.

Favorite city: London.

You can see Ana’s full interview here!

*Disclaimer: This content was sent to me by Ana Milosavic to post on my blog.*


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Book Review: Suffering Ends When Awakening Begins

SO I heard you were looking for another book review. Surprise! I have one right here 🙂 This one is called Suffering Ends When The Awakening Begins by Robert Crown.

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Synopsis: How Does a Child’s Life Change When His Mother Tries to Murder Him? It’s one of the most profound betrayals imaginable, and it can follow the victim into adulthood, into all he does with his life, tainting his sense of self and his relationships with others. How does a man’s life change when he discovers that with his thoughts, his imagination, and his ability to listen to his higher self, he has the power to overcome the devastating events of his past and build a new life and a family?

This book was a true story about the author’s life and all the hardships he endured while growing up. The first chapter had me captivated from the very first line as it starts off with his mom almost killing him as a child. The worst part was that she was trying to do it intentionally! I felt like I was reading a script from CSI where they examined a crime scene and kind of put together what happened before the victims became the victims. I honestly feel like I would be very messed up for the rest of my life if this happened to me. So kudos to the author for turning out ok after that.

I kept reading and thinking, “wow this guy can’t catch a break”. There were so many circumstances in his life that just didn’t work out for him. The pros were that this author had me reading constantly. I was so intrigued and captivated by his life that I didn’t want to put the book down. He has a good message at the end of the book that is worth reading it for.

The cons were that there were some small spelling mistakes. Not a crazy amount, but just enough to bug me. Luckily they were spread out so it was easy to pass off.

*Update: Apparently I had an earlier version of the book before the revisions so these little spelling mistakes have been corrected.*

Overall, I would recommend this book if you want an inspiring story about a guy that managed to turn his life around after hitting rock bottom.

Book Rating: 4/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and give it a rating on Goodreads!

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in physical format to read and give an honest review.


There is also another book on the block that you should check out if you haven’t heard of it yet. It is called Addicted To Hate by Lucia Mann and it is a great one! You can find it on Amazon or on her website: www.luciamann.com!

 

Addicted to Hate - Front Cover

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Book Review: The Long Body That Connects Us All

Another book review to scratch off the list. This one was called The Long Body That Connects Us All by Rich Marcello.

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Book Synopsis: Provocative and profound, Rich Marcello’s poems are compact but expansive, filled with music as seductive as their ideas, and focused mostly on how to be a good man. This is a collection of deep passion and wisdom for fathers, husbands, and sons, but also for mothers, wives, and daughters, many who began with a longing for the things they were taught to desire by their forefathers, only to later discover a different path, one lit by loss and welcoming of the vulnerable, one made of the long body that connects us all.

As far as poetry goes, this one was pretty good. It had a lot of nature in it but also played on family, relationships, and hardships. As I was reading, I found that a lot of the passages had me reflecting on my interactions in the past with those I had loved and lost. It warmed my heart to read things like this and as I have probably said before, the beauty of poetry is that everyone can take a different meaning away from it. It works on a personal level and is interpreted in different context with every reader or performer (if you go to poetry readings).

Overall, I rather enjoyed this one and would suggest it. It is a very quick read at only about 60 pages so give it a shot.

Book Rating: 4/5

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in physical format to read and give an honest review.

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There is also another book on the block that you should check out if you haven’t heard of it yet. It is called Addicted To Hate by Lucia Mann and it is a great one! You can find it on Amazon or on her website: www.luciamann.com!

Addicted to Hate - Front Cover


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Book Review: It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In

A new book review is on the Breakeven Books shelves. This one was called It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In by Mawson Bear (yes I looked it up and the author of the book on Goodreads is a bear).

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Synopsis: Are you feeling a little lost? Got that ‘left in the spare room’ emptiness about you? Mawson does too.

He sits atop his cushion and ponders about baffling things.

The world is a funny place for a curious teddy bear to live in. Friends approach him about their own dilemmas. They seek instant answers that will make everything all right. Mawson does his best. But after he ponders deeply, most things remain for him just as baffling as they were before.

Take a moment out of your day to pawse with him and explore the world. For the many frazzled readers who feel, secretly, much the same, he offers the comfort that the world is a bright place to be.

So first of all, this book was quite confusing. A lot of the sentences were cut off and went to the next page which was not the greatest for text flow and communication.

I only understood it about half way through that it is about being left in a relationship and trying to put yourself back together after the dust has settled. About not focusing on your faults or blaming yourself for the relationship ending but about being okay on your own. This is a great message, it was just hard to grasp at first (it was probably the fragmented sentences that were throwing me off).

The pictures were all taken by a photographer and they were of the stuffed animal doing a bunch of things that are supposed to correlate with the storyline. I’m not sure if they flowed very well with it but it wasn’t a very long book so maybe it just needed more to it. Overall, the book didn’t really impress me.

I did find it very cool that this book came from Australia and was published there. I swear Australia, I will make it to you someday and I can’t wait for it 🙂

Book Rating: 2/5

You can find this book on Amazon and add it to your shelf on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in physical format to read and give an honest review.


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Book Review: In the Dark

New review from Sara Mac hot off the press and available for your reading pleasure. Check out this review as she shares her thoughts on In The Dark by Becca Fox.


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Synopsis: How far would you go to save your family?

Movies and books have made being a monster sound cool.

Lindsay can’t wear silver jewelry or get drunk with her friends, but hey, she sprouts fur and fangs during the full moon. Totally rad, right? Not. Forget about exploring the beast within, Lindsay just wants to graduate from nursing school. When a stroll in the park ends with her and her little brother being surrounded by masked goons who want to sell them overseas, Lindsay has no choice but to change.

Despite her best efforts, these kidnappers know how to handle a werewolf inexperienced in hand-to-paw combat. She regains consciousness hours after the scuffle to find her brother gone. In a panic, she turns to the only werewolf she knows: Wayne, Mr. Werewolf Pride, the guy Lindsay rejected none-too-kindly several years ago. Being the forgiving kind of guy he is, Wayne agrees to help. . .so long as Lindsay joins his pack. Living among others of her kind is the last thing Lindsay wants, but for her brother’s sake, she bites her tongue and agrees.

Lindsay learns a few things while traveling through Europe in search of her brother. One: Being a werewolf can be pretty badass when you know how to use your abilities. Two: Being a freak isn’t so bad when you’re surrounded by other freaks. And three: She might have misjudged Wayne.

When she and Wayne stumble onto the mastermind behind the kidnapping, this werewolf mafia king decides they know too much. Lindsay and Wayne should get out of dodge but, they know that unless this man is stopped, innocent people will die.

In this novel, Lindsay, a young adult werewolf, is kidnapped, along with her brother, her ex-boyfriend, and a few high-profile children. Though Lindsay eventually manages to escape, the rest are taken and flown across the world to be sold as slaves, and she must work with an old acquaintance in order to rescue them all. It is a story about coming to terms with who she is, with some romance, adventure, and action thrown into the mix.

The overall plot of the book was interesting, and the premise, though common, is entertaining enough.

Unfortunately, the book isn’t very detailed, and so often reads like a synopsis of itself. The characters are well developed, but unfortunately, they are developed into cliché, predictable archetypes of themselves. For example, Lindsay, a young werewolf, struggling with the beast inside, torn between loving two men who both aren’t capable of expressing their affections, and uncontrolled anger over saving her brother – well developed, but kind of boring.

I feel like this book is a good first draft of itself. I liked the story well enough to finish it quickly, but I just wanted MORE from it. I would have loved some more unique character development, more detail, and explanations throughout, and a little less predictability in the plot. Maybe I’m just getting pickier, but this book just doesn’t stand up well compared to other novels in the genre.

Book Rating: 3/5

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads!

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in ebook format by the author to read and give an honest review.

Also, we are still pretty excited about it and if you haven’t seen, we are on the Top 100 Book Bloggers list of Canadian Book Bloggers! Check out that post to see all the other brilliant bloggers.


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Book Review: The Occupation of Joe

Book review alert (insert alarm noise and picture a siren flashing)! This one was called The Occupation of Joe by Bill Baynes. It was a short book at only around 115 pages. and I flew through it (read it in one day :)).

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Synopsis: Tokyo, 1945. A Japanese boy too old for his years, a survivor of the American firebombing, dares to cross the wasteland where he saw thousands burn to death, and approach the occupying forces to get food for his family. A young Navy lieutenant, proud of the Allied victory but appalled by the devastation he sees across the city, cares enough to help. As post-war pressures mount between the two cultures, he becomes entangled in the lives of the boy, his infant sister, and his beautiful mother.

I actually read this book in one sitting. The story was very fluent and would switch between the two main characters, Joe and Isamu.

Isamu is a young boy of 12 and he is trying to help his family survive after the Americans firebombed his village by foraging for food and materials to trade. He uses his skills as an actor to fool Joe into giving him some money in exchange for his expertise with the locals in the area.

Joe is the Communication Officer on his ship and his job is to decode messages in Morse code. He takes a liking to the boy and brings him sandwiches to eat each day when he visits inland.

The characters are well rounded and the author makes it very easy to understand the language barrier between the Joe and the boy. They use a lot of hand signals and motions to try and make sense of each other and the author gives a detailed description of what the hand motions are. This really helps the reader picture how they surpass their differences to work together.

It was easy to read and the author kept me entertained enough to finish it on the same day I started it.

SPOILER (Skip this part if you intend to read it)

I can’t believe he just dies in the end. He tries to protect the boy by roughing up the gang that bullied him and gets stabbed so much that he doesn’t even make it back to the ship and ends up dying in the snow. The people even start ransacking his body before he is even dead. And then it is just over. The ending really took me by surprise.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the Wars or historical fiction. The author definitely did their research on the subject before writing a story about it.

Book Rating: 4/5

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads! Or if you want to talk to the author, check out his website!

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in physical format to read and give an honest review.


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