Matchmaking for Beginners – Book Review

By: Maddie Dawson

Matchmaking for Beginners by Maddie Dawson is a fun spin on the traditional romance novel. It includes magic, witchery and elements of serendipity. Dawson creates interesting characters that provide enjoyable additions to the story’s main plot.  One of the main characters, Aunt Blix, feels she has a special gift that helps her see and touch people’s emotions.  She believes in some forms of witchcraft, mainly focusing her craft on assisting others in finding love.  She has an unconventional view on life, love and death. 

“…it’s in the broken places where the light gets in.”

Marnie, the other main character in this story, seems completely different from Blix.  Marnie fantasizes about her future life as a wife and mother.  Despite this, when Blix meets Marnie for the first time, she feels instantly connected to her, like they are kindred spirits. These two women meet at Blix’s niece’s home when Marnie is introduced to Blix’s family.  Marnie is engaged to Blix’s grandnephew Noah.   This meeting will shape the final moments of Blix’s life and Marnie’s entire future. 

As the book continues, Marnie’s life takes an unexpected turn leaving her alone and single again.  She eventually tries to pick up the pieces of her life with a new man she thinks she loves.  I could see that this new love interest brought Marnie the comfort she so desperately needed after her heartbreak.  However, it became increasingly apparent that she wasn’t in love with this man, and she was just hoping to find herself back on track with the life she had always dreamed of.  However, in the back of Marnie’s mind she keeps remembering Blix’s inspiring words.   Blix wanted a different life for Marnie, and you can see Marnie struggling to understand which life she truly wants.   Blix, from afar, never stops thinking about Marnie.  Blix tries to influence Marnie to choose bigger and more exciting paths in life. 

“I think she’s kind of enjoying being furious with her ex for now, if you want to know the truth. It’s hard to make room for love when anger still feels so good.”

This story includes love, loss, happiness and humour.  Although Marnie wasn’t the most exciting character, you can’t help but feel connected to her.  Some of the situations she found herself in, especially with Jeremy, were a bit frustrating, but I can understand her desperate need to heal her heart.  Blix brought humour and excitement into this story, and when she passes, I felt like her presence was desperately missed.  I really enjoyed learning about the other characters in Blix’s life.  Her neighbours were all exciting people, and seeing how their lives were affected by love added a layer of intrigue to the story.  I was not fond of the negative connotations implied towards a more conventional life; everyone should choose the path that makes them the happiest.  I can’t say this is my favourite book of all time, but it was definitely a fun read.  I have already purchased Maddie Dawson’s sequel to this book, A Happy Catastrophe.

“My own heart, given away to Noah, now stirs somewhere deep down, stretches, yawns, looks at its watch and rolls over, tries to go back to sleep. But it has one eye open, I notice.”

Have you read any of Maddie Dawson’s work?


Float Plan- Book Review

By: Trish Doller

Float Plan by Trish Doller was a deeper story than I originally anticipated.  The main character, Anna, loses her fiancé, Ben, to suicide.  It was shocking to read and heartbreaking for both Anna and Ben.  Due to this topic’s seriousness, Doller includes a warning at the beginning of her book letting her readers know that suicide will be a focal point in this story. 

“…but kind is one of the easiest things to be.”

We are introduced to Anna months after her fiancé has died.  Since his passing, her life has been tough; she has really struggled to find her footing without Ben.

Before Ben died, he bought a sailboat and planned a sailing trip around the Caribbean.  Ben and Anna were going to embark on this trip together and get married on one of the islands they planned on visiting.   Even though Ben is no longer alive, Anna makes a last-minute decision to go on this sailing trip alone.  She feels this trip will help her cope with Ben’s loss while also keeping him close to her heart.  Anna plans to follow the exact route laid out by Ben, stopping at every island he dreamed of visiting.   With little knowledge in sailing, she departs off Florida’s coast, heading towards her first stop, Bimini.

Her first couple of days of sailing pose many difficulties, and she quickly realizes she cannot continue this trip alone.  She needs to find someone with more experience to take this journey with her.  Therefore she decides to put out an ad for an experienced sailor.  This is when we meet Keane, an enthusiastic sailor originally from Ireland.  He agrees to the terms laid out by Anna, and they begin their voyage, following Ben’s map.

They visit so many incredible places along the way.  I researched some of the destinations they mentioned and was immediately struck by the beauty of each spot. Doller’s vivid detail describing these islands makes the reader want to drop everything and visit these beautiful locations.

“Carla once told me the best way to make a decision is to flip a coin. She said that when the coin is in the air, you’ll usually figure our what you truly want.”

Float Plan is a heartbreaking story of grief and loss.  It was difficult reading about Anna’s inner struggle to enjoy her surroundings without Ben by her side.  She felt guilty enjoying herself, always feeling like Ben should be the there happily sailing across the Caribbean.   Anna initially embarked on this sailing adventure to get closer to Ben but, as time progressed, she found herself becoming more independent and empowered by all the challenges she was overcoming.  She met many incredible people along the way that helped her accept her grief while also teaching her to enjoy life again.  Although I found the book a bit slow and it never really captivated my attention, I still appreciate the importance of reading this story. 

“Eventually – and I say this from experience – you’ll start building a new house beside the ruins of the old. When you’re ready, you’ll know.”


What Alice Forgot – Book Review

By: Liane Moriarty

“That was the day Alice Mary Love went to the gym and carelessly misplaced a decade of her life.” 

Book Summary:

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty starts with the main character, Alice Love, waking up after hitting her head and becoming unconscious.  Due to this fall, Alice has forgotten the last 10 years of her life.   She wakes up believing she is 29, happily married and pregnant with her first child.  However, she is actually 39, separated from her husband and a mother of three. 

Alice spends a couple of days in the hospital as doctors try to understand why she has lost her memory.  While Alice is there, she tries to piece together the last ten years of her life and the relationships with friends and family that have grown or fizzled out. When she returns home, she still doesn’t recognize her fully renovated home or her three children.  She also longs for her husband to come home and be with her, despite the constant reminders that they are separated.  As she explores her new life, she comes across familiar scents or locations that would trigger parts of her memory.  These moments were often short and broken up, making it very hard for Alice to make sense of what she saw or felt.   This continues for Alice for a week as she tries to grapple with her failed marriage and her three unknown children. 

After a week, there is a Mother’s day brunch event that Alice is running at her children’s school.  It is here where things all come together, and after a brief fainting episode, Alice awakens with her memory back. 

Once she has gotten her memory back, she grapples with the life she now remembers and the life she hoped for herself as a young soon-to-be mother.  How she decides to merge these two lives forms the ending of this book.

“But maybe every life looked wonderful if all you saw was the photo albums.”

My Review:

What Alice Forgot was incredibly thought-provoking and emotional.  It brings into focus the complexities of marriage and raising children.  It also reminds the reader not to lose who they are and what they stand for as they get older. Alice could hardly recognize who she was at 39 and that saddened her. It had me wondering what I envisioned of my life when I was 20 and how happy I would be with the person I have become today. 

“I’d be at work where people respected my opinions, said Nick. And then, I’d come home, and it was like I was the village idiot.”

This story totally consumed me; I wanted to know what would happen with her marriage, her relationship with her sister and the new friendships she formed within the last 10 years of her life.  Despite this story’s seriousness, Moriarty also includes some humor, especially with 29-year-old Alice navigating life with three young children.  These interactions were hilarious.  I also really liked the way this story ended; it perfectly concluded the story of Alice Love.

“The medication, the hormones and the relentless frustrations of our lives make us bitchy, and you’re not allowed to be bitchy in public, or people won’t like you.”

I do, however, have one small criticism of the book.  I found some parts of this story were a bit redundant.  I think Elizabeth’s story adds a layer of seriousness and complexity to the story that is definitely important.  However, I found her journal entries felt repeated and too detailed.  Sometimes I found myself skimming over those sections because I knew what the premise was, and the lengthy details weren’t necessary.  Moriarty also includes love letters by Alice’s grandmother, Frannie.  I enjoyed these letters, but I still found them to be more of a distraction from the main story. 

Overall, this was an excellent read, and I will definitely be reading more of Liane Moriarty’s books in the future.

More books by Liane Moriarty:

*Big Little Lies (This book was made into an HBO series)

*The Husband’s Secret

*Truly Madly Guilty


The Happy Ever After Playlist- Book Review

Author: Abby Jimenez

“You can’t control the bad things that happen to you. All you can do is decide how much of you you’re going to let them take.”

I want to start by saying that The Happy Ever After Playlist, by Abby Jimenez, is actually the second book of a series.  However, I didn’t know this when I started reading it; I only realized it after I had finished the book.  The Friend Zone is the first book in the series but, The Happy Ever After Playlist can definitely stand alone.  Zero knowledge of The Friend Zone is needed to read this story.

I picked this book up from the bookstore because I felt it was time to read a lighthearted, fun, romantic book that would make me smile.  This book did just that.  My last few books had been pretty dramatic, serious and emotional, so this was a welcomed break. 

What is this book about?

The main character, Sloan Monroe, is trying to pick up the pieces of her life after her fiance suddenly died in a motorcycle accident two years ago.  The first book gives the excruciating details of the accident and the hospital scene; in this book, you are left to imagine how terrible this experience would have been for Sloan.  I, for one, am very glad I didn’t have to read about those details.  This story is focused more on how Sloan will help herself move on from this loss and bring happiness back into her life.

One day as Sloan was driving and stopped at a stoplight, a dog (which we later find out is named Tucker) ran into her car, causing quite a big scene.  Once Sloan pulled off the road with this dog, she tried to look for the owner but couldn’t find anyone that knew the dog.  She decided to bring the dog home and care for it until she could locate the owner.  Little did she know this encounter would change her life.  Tucker brought so much energy into Sloan’s life, and you begin to see Sloan coming out of her depressed shell while trying to care for this dog.  Eventually, we find out the dog owner is a man named Jason, who is currently in Australia for work.  Sloan and Jason begin speaking over the phone, at first only concerning Tucker, but gradually, they find themselves more interested in learning about one another.  Jason is the first man that Sloan finds herself crushing on since she lost her fiancé.  This is how their romance begins.   The beginning of their relationship is exciting and playful, everything a new relationship should be.  Eventually, as they start to fall more into one another, their relationship becomes a serious love affair filled with dramatic ups and downs, especially once Sloan realizes that Jason is an up and coming musician.

My thoughts on the book…

This is an enjoyable, lighthearted romance novel.  You know the characters will fall for one another right from the beginning, but the turns and twists it takes along the way are pretty surprising.  I also really loved Sloan’s character; I was always rooting for her.  I truly wanted her to find happiness, whether it was with Jason or in her own life.  I think the character development of Sloan was the best part of this story.  You watch her struggle in the beginning to find a way to move on with her life after her sudden heartbreak, then slowly see her trying to put happiness back into her life.  I liked that even though Jason had a big part in helping her move on from her loss, Sloan individually worked on how she could better herself and move on from her tragic experiences.  When she finally gets back into the hobbies she loves, it is genuinely heartwarming. She began as a fractured love hurt young women and grew into an independent artist who woke up every day prioritizing her happiness. 

Jason’s character I fell in love with right from the beginning, I think most women would.  He was incredibly charming, flirtatious, kind and caring.  He knew what Sloan had gone through and approached it perfectly.  He always put her happiness at the forefront of his life, which is something every woman deserves.  His character definitely hit many women’s fantasies of falling in love with a beautiful famous singer.

This book was a very enjoyable read; I especially loved the ending.  This is a perfect book to lift your spirits and make you feel so warm inside. The songs Jimenez included before each chapter really represented the feelings you experience when reading that chapter, and I thought that was a unique twist to this romance novel.   Whenever I would read this book throughout my day, I was instantly in a better mood and really, what more could you want from a book?

A little bit about the author…

Abby Jimenez is the author of The Friend Zone and The Happy Ever After Playlist. Jimenez is also a famous baker who has won many Food Network Competitions. She first showed off her literary skills through comments on her baking page: Nadia Cakes. She has a new book coming out in spring 2021 called Life’s Too Short.


Where the Crawdads Sing- My Book Review

By: Delia Owens

“Autumn leaves don’t fall; they fly.  They take their time and wander on this, their only chance to soar.”

Let me begin by saying I absolutely loved this book, I was attached to the story from the very beginning!

What was this story about…

Where the Crowdads Sing revolves around a young girl named Kya, who lived in the marshes of North Carolina. These marshes are close to a small town called Barkley Cove.  We are introduced to Kya as a young girl, and we follow her through her life.  Her family moved to the marshes during the 1940s; there were 5 children in the family, Kya is the youngest.  Quite early on, we learn about how abusive her father is to her mother and the children.  One by one, each family member decides to leave home.  Kya is too young to remember much about the oldest three siblings; they go when she is very young.  Eventually, Kya’s mother leaves; we understand that this is not the first time her mother has left, which gives Kya the hope that her mother will return.  However, there is something different this time that brings Kya this horrible feeling that her mother won’t be coming home.  The closest relationship Kya seems to have is with her brother, Jodie.  He tries to bring some normalness into her life.  Eventually, though, Jodie also cannot stay and live with their father anymore.  He apologizes to Kya and then also leaves her. She has now become accustomed to people leaving her.

Now that her brother has left, Kya lives alone with her dad in the marsh.  However, her father isn’t really around, anytime he leaves he leaves for multiple days at a time. Kya’s father hasn’t abused her like he did the other children, and for a short time, after everyone has left, he starts to be quite nice to Kya.  Eventually, this friendliness ends, and then he too leaves her for good.  During this time, Kya is also being sought after by the local school.  She legally must attend school; therefore, the principal is coming to find her.  Kya decides to go with the principal and spends one day at the school.  This day does not go well; she is starred at by her peers; she doesn’t have proper clothes or shoes and already feels intellectually behind the other kids.  After that day, every time the principal came to find her, she would hide.  Kya knows the marsh better than anyone; therefore, finding her was impossible.  Eventually, the school stopped trying. From a very young age Kya learned to take care of herself in the marsh, the only place she felt safe.

Once Kya’s father leaves the marsh, Kya becomes better acquainted to one of his fathers friends, a black man named Jumpin. Jumpin lives on the water and Kya takes her fathers boat to him to get supplies and food. He becomes like a father figure to Kya. Jumpin’s wife, Mabel, also cares for Kya and tries to help her by providing her with donated clothes and food.  This book is set in the 1950s and 60s, and therefore, segregation is widespread, including in Barkley Cove.  The black community cares for Kya much more than any of the white people in the town.  The white community treat her like a leper who is to be avoided at all costs.  No one thinks about caring for this little girl; instead, they isolate her even more. 

As Kya gets older, she begins to wonder about the other teenagers in the town; she specifically notices her interest in the boys.  There are two love interests that Kya gets involved with.  Both are offering her very different versions of love and care.  It is from one of these experiences that the community turns on her, accusing her of murder with very little evidence. 

My thoughts…

I really enjoyed reading this story.  It was a very different story about a small part of American history that I know almost nothing about.  The story made me curious to learn more about the marshes of North Carolina.  I learned that these marshes have a deep history of providing isolation and safety to different groups of people throughout American history, beginning with freed or escaped slaves.  They built homes and communities in the marshes.  The marshes grew in popularity again during the Great Depression and after the War by white families who had lost everything, which is where Kya’s family fits.  It was interesting learning about this time in history; I always like when a book brings me into another part of the past. 

The characters in this book represented so many different types of interesting people.  Each one playing a crucial role in Kya’s story.  Kya’s two love interests were extraordinarily different, and understanding how Kya’s relationship with each man forms and grows reminds us of how complicated love can be, especially when you feel alone in the world.   The people who live in town talk negatively about Kya, further isolating her from her love interests.   It is unfortunate to see how this community treats Kya from such a young girl and onwards, for no other reason than she was different from everyone else. The horrible manner of this community comes to fruition during the murder trial Kya is dragged into.  

I enjoyed learning about the black community, specifically Jumpin and Mable, and seeing their love for Kya.  It is clear they have a good understanding of how Kya may feel, and they know they don’t want to cause the same hurt to Kya that the people of Barkley Cove cause the black community.   This is more clearly seen during Kya’s trial, where Jumpin and Mabel attend in support of Kya. There was a very powerful moment in the story when Jumpin and Mabel come and sit in the assumed “white” sections of the courtroom and no one stops them.

It is also clear that Owens has a biology background in the way she describes the nature surrounding Kya.  It is incredibly descriptive and clear; you can picture everything she is saying and imagine how Kya fits into that world.  I must admit, at times, it did become tiring reading about all the specifics of the marshlands, however, I understand its importance to the story.   I also found it fascinating to see Kya’s resiliency living in the marsh and how she grows to become one with nature.

The second half of the book was difficult to read.  Although this was not a true story, the reader knows the prejudice discussed in the story did actually occurred for many groups of people.  People are always fearful of the unknown and Delia Owens does a great job at showing this to her readers in Where the Crawdads Sing

The Author:

“Delia Owens is the co-author of three internationally bestselling nonfiction books about her life as a wildlife scientist in Africa—Cry of the Kalahari, The Eye of the Elephant, and Secrets of the Savanna. She has won the John Burroughs Award for Nature Writing and has been published in Nature, The African Journal of Ecology, and International Wildlife, among many others. She currently lives in Idaho, where she continues her support for the people and wildlife of Zambia. Where the Crawdads Sing is her first novel.” – Good Reads Delia Owens Description

Have you read this book? Or any other Delia Owens books?


The Love that Split the World – Book Review

By: Emily Henry

What is the story about…

This story follows a teenage girl named Natalie Cleary, who has just finished high school and is preparing to attend college in the fall.  Natalie was born into an Aboriginal community; however, she was adopted at a very young age by a non-Aboriginal family.  Therefore, she knows very little about her background.  From the beginning of the book, Natalie is going through an identity crisis.  She also feels guilt for not trying to learn more about her community.  Natalie begins to have conflicting feelings about her life that confuse her, and she’s skeptical about what she wants to do in college or if she even wants to go. 

Natalie also carries a lot of emotional baggage from her childhood. Her traumas are exposed to the reader slowly throughout the book.  Through the discussions of her childhood, we are introduced to an important character that Natalie calls ‘Grandmother’.   Grandmother visits her at night (we’re unsure if she is a dream or a real person) and gives her life lessons.  When this first began, Natalie was very young, and she would casually bring up Grandmother in conversations with her family.  They were apprehensive about this woman who “appeared” to Natalie at night.  Her parents eventually decided to send her to a child psychologist to help her understand these visions.  After seeing the psychologist, Natalie stopped seeing Grandmother for a while.  It wasn’t until Natalie’s last year of high school that Grandmother reappeared to her.  However, this time Grandmother reappeared to her with a very cryptic message.  She decided not to speak of these new encounters with her parents.  She knew they wouldn’t understand.

The message from Grandmother sends Natalie into a panic.  She begins a quest to understand what Grandmother is talking about, why she sees visions and why she sees alternative realities all around her.   At this time, Natalie meets two other characters who try to help her understand what she is experiencing. 

My thoughts on the book…

This is a very different book than I have read in the past.  This book fits into multiple genres: fantasy, romance, young adult, to name a few. 

The love story didn’t really work for me; it seemed a bit immature and predictable.  There was minimal build-up to the romance; they just seemed to meet one day and fall for one another almost instantly.  Also, there is something about 18-year-olds talking about marriage that makes my eyes roll.  The two characters were also complete opposites, so their love didn’t seem to work, in my opinion. For that reason, I wasn’t attached to the romantic relationship in this book.

The fantasy portion included time travel and different versions of reality, and to be honest, it kind of lost me.  I was pretty confused during most of the book, and the hope of understanding it all, in the end, extinguished pretty quickly.  The ending was a bit of a let down because the result seemed even more eye-rolling than the romance that took place.  Most of the reason I kept reading this book was to see what all these visions meant, and then when I found out, I was pretty disappointed. 

Despite my criticisms of the book, I was intrigued to continue reading to find out the meaning of Grandmothers message. For this reason, I can’t say I love this book, but I didn’t hate it either.

About the Author…

Emily Henry wrote Beach Read, which is another book I have reviewed on this blog. I absolutely loved Beach Read and highly recommend it.


City of Girls – Book Review

Book by: Elizabeth Gilbert

What was this story about:

City of Girls is written as one long letter.  A woman named Angela asks Vivian Morris, the main character, to explain Vivian’s relationship with Angela’s father. Vivian responds to this letter with the story of her life beginning at age 19.

Vivian Morris is from a wealthy family who lived in the suburbs a couple of hours away from New York City.  Vivian is a lost teenager when we meet her; she specifically calls herself “an idiot” at the beginning of chapter one. She fails out of college and needs to return home to her disappointed parents.  Her parents are at a loss as to what to do with their teenage daughter, who doesn’t seem to fit into their high society circle.  They decide to send Vivian to live with her Aunt Peg in New York City. Therefore, in 1940 Vivian Morris gets onto the train and heads to New York City. 

Aunt Peg lives and owns a theatre in a poor neighbourhood in New York City.  The theatre, The Lily Playhouse, is a run down old facility. It is no where near the ritz and glamour of theatre life in New York City, but Vivian loves it! She is impressed and fascinated by the showgirls, the dancers, the actors, the play writers and everyone else involved in this theatre. Aunt Peg discovers Vivian’s sewing skills and asks Vivian to be the seamstress for the theatre.  She then becomes consumed with making, fixing and purchasing fabrics for the costumes in the plays.  This is when she begins to create friendships with the showgirls, specifically Celia.  Celia is a beautiful showgirl who seems to take a liking to Vivian.  Celia teaches Vivian how to showcase her beauty, go out in New York City, and have sex with lots of men.   Vivian adapts this new way of life and thrives in it, until one horrible night where she makes a mistake that will derail the life she built and loved in New York City at The Lily Playhouse. 

After a brief return to her parents’ house and a pivotal interaction with her brother, Walter, who is about to go to war, she eventually returns to New York City with Aunt Peg.   She returns to New York City to help her Aunt Peg with a new theatre job supporting the war effort.  This is where we see Vivian’s character mature and she begins to better understand who she is. 

My thoughts on the book

What I liked:

I loved the description of New York City in the 1940s.  The glamour, the parties, the social scene all were described perfectly.  I have only been to New York City once, during Christmas time, and I loved it, but it seemed even more amazing the way Gilbert described it.

I also loved the fun and excitement of theatre life at The Lily Playhouse.  It seemed like such a fun place to work and live.  The characters who lived and worked at the Lily Playhouse were all interesting in their own way.

The relationships that Vivian made with the other characters were the best part of this book.  There was something Vivian learned from every person that came into her life.  Sometimes people came into her life for a brief moment, and sometimes she created lasting friendships with people she grew to love.  However, it was clear that every relationship, whether long or short, played a role in creating who Vivian Morris was.  I have always believed that everyone who comes into your life plays a certain role.  It could be a brief relationship, someone you enjoy at that time, or a life long friendship. I feel this was one of the most important messages from City of Girls.

What I didn’t like:

Unfortunately, there was quite a bit that I didn’t like about this book. Vivian’s character was just not that interesting.  I feel she lacked depth, excitement and maturity.  I was more interested in the characters around her; then I was in her story.  About halfway through the book, I realized I didn’t care what happened to Vivian’s character, and I found her kind of annoying.  Her character growth was so focused on her sex life that it became redundant to keep reading about. Vivian’s central character trait seemed to only be about her love for sex, and it is tough to keep the book interesting when you’re solely focused on that.  At the beginning of the book, I found Vivian to be extraordinarily naïve, but that never seemed to go away, even as she grew older.  She got herself into dangerous situations with men but, for some reason, never really learned from these experiences; what’s worse, she never seemed to care.  I knew pretty early on that I wouldn’t love this book, but I was able to keep reading based on the character development of the people around Vivian.  The book is also very long, and it seems it could have been summed up in far fewer pages.

If you have read this book, what are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree with my review?


How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division – Book Review

Author: Elif Shafak

This is a very short read but an important one.  In today’s world of division it is sometimes hard to see where you fit, to see where your ideas, values and opinions meet.  Society focuses on the “us vs them” narrative leaving little room for people in the middle. How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division by Elif Shafak encourages people of all different opinions to communicate. 

This book was very recently published, so recent, that it includes commentary on the current protests in the United States and the ongoing global pandemic.  I recommend everyone read this book, in hopes that it will underline the importance of understanding the views of others.

Since this book is short, I will not detail what it is about (the title gives the plot away anyway!).  Instead, I will list below the quotes that impacted me the most.

Book Quotes:

Part 1: Introduction

“We are made of stories — those that have happened, those that are still happening at this moment in time and those that are shaped purely in our imagination through words, images, dreams and an endless sense of wonder about the world around us and how it works.  Unvarnished truths, innermost reflections, fragments of memory, wounds unhealed.  Not to be able to tell your story, to be silenced and shut out, therefore, is to be dehumanized.  It strikes at your sanity, the validity of your version of events.  It creates a profound, and existential anxiety in us.” (page 9)

“… when you feel alone don’t look within, look out and look beyond for others who feel the same way, for there are always others, and if you connect with them and with their story, you will be able to see everything in a new light.” (page 14)

“The moment we stop listening to diverse opinions is also when we stop learning.  Because the truth is we don’t learn much from the sameness and monotony.  We usually learn from differences.” (page 16)

Part 2: Disillusionment and Bewilderment 

“Whether in public or digital spaced nuanced debates are not welcome anymore. ”  (page 29)

“In the aftermath of the pandemic fewer tourists will be able to take overseas trips, fewer international students will apply, and fewer immigrant workers will be welcomed.  It worries me immensely, seeing the walls rise higher and higher.” (page 45)

Part 5: Apathy

“When we are indifferent, disconnected, atomized.  Too busy with our own lives to care about others.  Uninterested in and unmoved by someone else’s pain.  That is the most dangerous emotion —  the lack of emotion.” (page 77)

“One of the greatest paradoxes of our times is the hardliners are more passionate, engaged and involved than many moderates.  When we do not engage in civil discourse and public space, we become increasingly isolated and disconnected, thereby breeding apathy.” (page 77)

Part 6: Information, Knowledge, Wisdom

“Perhaps in an era when everything is in constant flux, in order to be more sane, we need a blend of conscious optimism and creative pessimism.” (page 87)

“It is natural to seek out a collegial and congenial group who will reinforce our core values and primary goals, and bring us closer to the stories we want to hear and prioritize.  That can be a good starting point but it cannot be the entire destination.” (page 89)

About the Author:

Elif Sharak is a British – Turkish author, that has published 17 books.  She advocates for women’s rights, minority rights and free speech.  Sharak is a founding member of the European Council of Foreign Affairs.  She has also spoken at TED Global.

Other books she has published: 

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World 

Three Daughters of Eve

The Forty Rules of Love 


Beautiful Bookstores of Switzerland

When I moved to Switzerland, one of the first things I did was visit all the bookstores near me. It was a bit disheartening knowing these stores would mostly (or only) sell German books but, I had to take a tour anyway. To my surprise and delight, many of the bookstores in the area sold English books! Most of the shops seem to be small family-run businesses, which added a layer of charm to these bookstores. 

Below are some of the bookstores that I have explored around my home in Switzerland:

The Travel Book Shop

This is one of the most unique bookstores in Switzerland. It primarily features one genre: travel. From fiction to non-fiction, all the books in this store have to relate to travel. This shop also sells old and new maps of places all over the world. They have some antique maps on display that were quite beautiful.

Buchhandlung Beer & Co.

This bookstore had a small English section near the back. Once I began scanning the titles, I noticed pretty quickly that they were a bit different. I barely recognized any of them. It seems this shop focuses on books centered around Anthroposophy, a philosophy which was created in the 20th century by Rudolf Steiner. This would explain why the authors were not familiar to me. Beer & Co. is a fascinating shop to visit and explore.

Peter Bichsel Antiquariat/Peter Bichsel Fine Books

Visiting this bookstore is like stepping back into history. Peter Bichsel Fine Books sells fine/antique books. Some of them date back to the 15th century! As a history buff, exploring this store was fascinating. The books look so delicate, fragile but exceptional. The old fashion step ladder in the center of the store added even more charm to this little space. Although I do not dare touch any of the books, I explore each aisle and love viewing all the featured titles. This is a beautiful bookstore.

Pile of Books

Pile of Books is the only all English bookstore in Zurich (maybe all of Switzerland?). This shop features all the recognizable authors and bestsellers. For English speakers like myself, Pile of Books suits my needs the most, while also keeping the appeal of a small European bookstore.

Hirschmatt Buchhandlung

This bookstore has a good selection of German books from all different genres. Their English section is pretty small, but they have an online store you can order from. Hirschmatt offers the coziness of a small shop but with an extensive book catalogue.

What are some of your favourite bookstores?


Beach Read – Book Review

By: Emily Henry

“…when the world felt dark and scary, love could whisk you off to go dancing; laughter could take some of the pain away; beauty could punch holes in your fear.  I decided then that my life would be full of all three.”

I want to start by saying I do not like the title of this book; it does not do this book justice AT ALL. I’m not sure why the author chose this title because it also doesn’t seem to connect to either character.  That being said, the title is literally the only negative thing I can say about this book.  Beach Read by Emily Henry was simply amazing. 

I came across this book at a local bookstore in Switzerland.  They had a small English section near the back.  I saw Beach Read perked up on display broadcasted as a new read.  I almost ignored it because of the title.  However, once I looked into the reviews, they were all fantastic! I was on a hunt for a funny, easy read, and this seemed to match perfectly.  I am so glad I picked up this book, it was exciting from beginning to end.

What is the book about?

This book centers around two characters, Augustus Everett (nicknamed Gus) and January Andrews. The book is narrated by January. It is set in the summertime in a small lake town called North Bear Shores.  Gus and January are both staying in cabins next door to one another.  January is visiting this cabin for the first time when she stumbles upon her neighbour, Gus Everett.  January recognizes Gus from her college years, she remembers that he was often rude to her, but she always had a small crush on him.  She always felt like they competed with each other, even after college, when they became published authors.  When Gus and January first stumble upon each other outside of their cabins, their interaction does not go well.  Gus is visibly angry about something, and January is mad with the way he is speaking to her.

As time progresses, Gus and January find themselves continually running into each other; they realize later on that the town people may have had something to do with that.   They eventually form a friendship with one another, becoming more and more fond of each other.  Their relationship challenges both of them to come outside of themselves in different ways. This book is a story of grief, love, laughter and acceptance.  It is so much more than just a ‘rom-com’.

My review…

I think you can already tell how much I love this book.  The book made me cry, made me laugh and made me yearn for the characters to fall in love.  Henry’s writing is so detailed that although I knew these characters were not real, I found myself genuinely caring for them.  She shows how different these two characters are, but she also makes you feel like they belong together. The smart, sarcastic way the characters communicate is so entertaining and the heartwarming story she forms around January and Gus is beautiful.  As well, the relationship both characters have with their fathers adds another layer of emotion to this story.

I did not want this book to end.  Emily Henry knows precisely how to captivate her audience. I had never read anything by Emily Henry before but, I have already ordered another one of her books!

More books by Emily Henry:

The Love that Split the World 
When the Sky Fell on Splendor 
A Million Junes
People we Meet on Vacation (will be released May 2021)