Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

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Originally published on  November 11, 2013.

3/5 stars.
ebook, 492 pages.
Read from July 24 to August 27, 2013.

I read this novel for a book club and for whatever reason I thought that this was a holocaust survivor story so it was a nice surprise to find out that it was about American bomber planes and the Japanese as I had not read any biographical content on this part of the war.

I have to admit there was something about Laura’s writing that took me a bit to get used to. I found the first few chapters long and way too drawn out and it took me a little bit to get used to her sentence structure for whatever reason. With that being said, I became very involved and captivated with the story and the characters after the first few chapters. I also appreciated the amount of effort that Laura took in collaborating this remarkable story. It must have been such an honour and a pleasure to interview Louie.

I honestly still can’t get my head around the amount suffering Louie and his comrades were subjected to after being captured by the Japanese. How does someone go on in those conditions? The resilience displayed by Louie and his friends still amaze me. What I don’t understand is how a someone can cause that much pain and discomfort to another human being. I am glad that near the end Laura included some of the perspectives of the tormentors, specifically the Bird, not that it validates at all what they did but it is despicable to me the things that some people can convince themselves of. I recall feeling as vengeful and angry as Louie did in the novel though I don’t know if I found the same peace as Louie at the end. I want people to be punished for their crimes and I don’t feel like the Bird ever was.

I really appreciated that the book continued on after Louie finally made it back home to his family. So many war related stories stop once they’ve reached the safety of home but while one battle has ended another one begins. So I’m very thankful that Laura was able to provide insight into the PSTD that these men experienced and how they were able to overcome that final battle.

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

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3/5 stars.
ebook, 426 pages.
Read from March 30 to April 24, 2013.

Throwback review!


I would like to start off by saying that I came to this novel fully expecting it to be nothing like Harry Potter and was prepared for what I was going to be reading. Having said that I didn’t really enjoy it but I did change my rating to slightly more positive. This book follows the very personal lives of the people who live in the town of Pagford. It reflects how all of their lives interconnect through scandal and personal mishaps. Right after after I finished reading it I was just so appalled with how tragic and awful the characters and story line were! However after giving it some time I can somewhat understand Rowling’s approach. I believe she wanted to depict the masks that we all wear as individuals, the personal struggles that everyone has but hides and what sort of freedom we can have by shedding these facades. I also think that the story is also a statement about selflessness and authentically connecting with others, which can’t be accomplished if you are not honest with yourself. I feel that Fats summarized the novel perfectly:

“The mistake ninety-nine percent of humanity made, as far as Fats could see, was being ashamed of what they were, lying about it, trying to be somebody else. Honesty was Fats’ currency, his weapon and defense. It frightened people when you were honest; it shocked them. Other people, Fats had discovered, were mired in embarrassment and pretense, terrified that their truths might leak out, but Fats was attracted by rawness, by everything that was ugly but honest, by the dirty things about which the likes of his father felt humiliated and disgusted. Fats thought a lot about messiahs and pariahs; about men labeled mad or criminal; noble misfits shunned by the sleepy masses.”

Having said that I don’t know if Fats fulfilled his philosophy as he suffered the most near the books end. The teenagers in the book were truly the largest victims as they had their parent’s baggage, politics and facades thrown upon them making it impossible for them to be authentic to themselves. Krystal being the largest victim.

What drove me mad about this novel was how much I disliked most of the characters. Their actions and thoughts were just so despicable and negative making it hard to want to pursue the story because ultimately I didn’t care about these shallow individuals whose lives were solely based on small town politics. There were very few characters with redeeming qualities that I cared about, exceptions being Krystal and Barry. Obviously what I know about Barry is all third-party but I believe that these two characters were the only ones that were able to step outside of their own ego and care about someone else. For Barry, he saw something in Krystal and wanted to do what he could to bring her out of the awful slum she was living in. For Krystal, she would do anything for her brother Robbie. However, they still both had their faults. ***SPOILER*** Barry neglected his family and his stressful lifestyle lead to his death. Krystal believed, after Barry’s death, that by having a baby she could escape the life she was living with her drug addict mother and by pursuing this sort of selfishness with Fats she lost the one thing she fought so hard to protect, her brother and in the end her life ***END SPOILER***.

What I did appreciate about the end is that everyone was shown for what and who they were. ***SPOILER*** I think I gained the most satisfaction when Kay finally ditched Gavin. I think I despised him the most out of all of the characters. He was down right selfish and cruel to Kay by staying with her. In the end I suppose he showed his humanity like the other characters but I felt little sympathy for him when both Mary and Kay rejected him ***END SPOILER***.

Overall, I wouldn’t deter people from reading the book by any means but I wouldn’t read it if you’re feeling down in the dumps or have a hate on against the world as it won’t do much to restore your mood or faith in humanity

My Favourite Reads of 2014

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As a new year approaches I like to take a look back on what books I’ve devoured over the last year. These are my top 3 favorite reads, for both fiction and non-fiction, that I read in 2014:

*Click on the links to see my reviews of each of these

Fiction Top 3

3) Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell: One of the mostly beautifully written modern stories I’ve ever read. The novel’s tone is dark and lurking but is balanced with the fierceness of  Ree, the female protagonist. A quick and awesome read.

2) All The Light We Cannot See By Anthony Doerr:  Winner of the Goodreads Choice Award 2014 for Best Historical Fiction! This novel is one of the most popular published books of 2014 and it’s worth all the attention. Following the lives of two young people who are on opposing sides of World War II, the novel explores humanity at one of its worst times in history. This book has all the feels! Worth the read.

1) Stupid Children by Lenore Zion: I can’t say enough good things about this book. I came across this small-time publication through The Next Best Book Club on Goodreads and I was lucky enough to be apart of a group discussion with the author (see my review for some insight into this discussion). This book has a strange but amazing concept. After Jane’s father attempts to commit suicide, he is institutionalized and she is sent to the foster care system. The family she is adopted by is apart of the Second Day Believers cult. The novel depicts Jane’s upbringing with this family and the ordeals of living within a cult. This book is funny, creepy and extremely thought provoking and is the kind of book I almost want to read again. Support small press and buy this book!

Non-Fiction Top 3

3) The Romanov Sisters by Helene Rappaport: This novel won the Goodreads Choice Award 2014 for Best History & Biography! Lucky for me, I was able to read this book through Netgalley.  For those that have never explored non-fiction or even a history piece, I’d recommend this one for you. This informative book reads so much like a fiction and it gives a massive insight to the lives and personalities of the Romanov family.

2) Skin Picking: The Freedom to Finally Stop by Annette PasternakThis book is a bit personal but it was so immensely helpful that I have to include it. For anyone suffering from a BFRB (body-focused repetitive behavior), please read this book! It’s informative and has real exercises and practices that will dramatically help you get a handle on your condition. Life changer!

1) Diet Cults by Matt FitzgeraldWe are constantly bombarded with information of what to eat and what not to eat. Tragically, all of this information often times contradicts itself depending on the source and whatever died fad is currently being endorsed making being healthy quite confusing. Matt Fitzgerald, a professional coach and athlete, makes food simple again with this book and breaks down the data that many diet cults perpetuate. He never bashes diet fads but explains why they appeal to people, why they work for a short time, why our bodies can adapt to eat anything and how to get back to the basics and stop stressing over food! This was a game changers for me with my approach to food.