Book Review: Royal Panoply: Brief Lives of the English Monarchs by: Carolly Erickson

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Initial Thoughts: When I was twelve years old, I had a strange fascination with the English monarchy, especially Queen Elizabeth I. I bought Royal Panoply by Carolly Erickson from my local bookstore and I ended up bringing the book everywhere with me for a month. There was one time that the cutest boy in my grade asked me what I was reading, I was too embarrassed, so I stupidly just said “a book…” and he never spoke to me again.

Summary

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From medieval conqueror to Renaissance  autocrat to Victorian Empress to modern melodrama, Royal Panoply  is the story of some of the most fascinating people in world history.

With her trademark blend of probing scholarship, lively prose, and psychological insight, Carolly Erickson focuses on each monarch’s entire life—from the puny, socially awkward Charles I, to the choleric, violent William the Conqueror, to the well-meaning, deeply affectionate Queen Anne, who was so heavy she had to be carried to her coronation. Royal Panoply recaptures the event-filled, often dangerous, always engaging lives of England’s kings and queens, set against the backdrop of a thousand years of Britain’s past.

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The Review

1000 years of monarchy is quite a dense subject. With all the political turmoil and uprisings throughout British history, it can be hard to condense everything into a book of 331 pages. Somehow, Carolly Erickson managed to do just that.

Royal Panoply gives a brief overview of the lives of each of the English monarchs beginning with William I and ending with Elizabeth II. The book is very easy to follow and perfect for anyone who wants an introduction into each of the monarchs’ lives. In spite of the short length of the biographies, I found that I got a good sense of the historical period of which they lived, the important contributions made by each of the monarchs, and the personalities of the monarchs themselves.

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Book Review: He’s Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys by: Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo

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Initial Thoughts: This was the book I needed to read. I am not exactly the sort of person who enjoys reading self-help books, but I had a feeling that this book would help me move on after experiencing a difficult breakup.

Summary

10412Everyone can use a daily wake-up call.

Now in bite-size mantras, the abridged empathetic wit and wisdom of the number one New York Times bestseller He’s Just Not That Into You will recharge and inspire your dating outlook one wake-up call at a time.

For ages women have come together over coffee, cocktails, or late-night phone chats to analyze the puzzling behavior of men. Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo are here to say that —despite good intentions— you’re wasting your time. Men are not complicated, although they’d like you to think they are. And there are no mixed messages.

He’s Just Not That Into You —based on a popular episode of Sex and the City— educates otherwise smart women on how to tell when a guy just doesn’t like them enough, so they can stop wasting time making excuses for a dead-end relationship. This book knows you’re a beautiful, smart, funny woman who deserves better.

The Review

Relationships can be difficult, especially when you don’t know what the guy is thinking. According to Greg Behrendt, guys are not that complicated, although they’d like you to believe they are. Basically, if a guy does not make an effort, he’s probably just not that into you. A guy that is into you will make an effort and not use excuses such as “being too busy to call” to get in the way.

I read He’s Just Not That Into You at the right time in my life, right after a breakup where I kept trying to understand what went wrong. This book made me realize that there is no point to try to “figure him out” because the answer is simple, he just wasn’t into me. This knowledge sounds simple in principal, but it was a revelation to me. As women, we get so caught up in how we think about things without considering that the answer to a complicated question might actually be so simple that it is laughable. Continue reading

Book Review: Call Me By Your Name by: André Aciman

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I stopped for a second. If you remember everything, I wanted to say, and if you are really like me, then before you leave tomorrow, or when you’re just ready to shut the door of the taxi and have already said goodbye to everyone else and there’s not a thing left to say in this life, then, just this once, turn to me, even in jest, or as an afterthought, which would have meant everything to me when we were together, and, as you did back then, look me in the face, hold my gaze, and call me by your name” – Call Me by Your Name by: André Aciman

Initial Thoughts: I saw the movie Call Me by Your Name with Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer on the very first day when I got Invisalign braces. I desperately tried to focus on the movie as I grappled with the pain radiating through my entire jaw. In spite of missing a few bits and pieces of the movie, I really wanted to read the book.

Summary

36336078. sy475 Call Me by Your Name is the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents’ cliff-side mansion on the Italian Riviera. Unprepared for the consequences of their attraction, at first each feigns indifference. But during the restless summer weeks that follow, unrelenting buried currents of obsession and fear, fascination and desire, intensify their passion as they test the charged ground between them. What grows from the depths of their spirits is a romance of scarcely six weeks’ duration and an experience that marks them for a lifetime. For what the two discover on the Riviera and during a sultry evening in Rome is the one thing both already fear they may never truly find again: total intimacy.

The psychological maneuvers that accompany attraction have seldom been more shrewdly captured than in André Aciman’s frank, unsentimental, heartrending elegy to human passion. Call Me by Your Name is clear-eyed, bare-knuckled, and ultimately unforgettable.

The Review

It is summertime in the Italian Riviera in the early nineteen eighties.

Seventeen-year-old Elio Perlman has spent every summer at his family’s summer home in Italy. Every summer, Elio’s parents would take on a university student working on their doctoral thesis for six weeks. Throughout the years, Elio’s family would receive gifts and cards from past students who remembered their stay fondly.

This year’s student is a twenty-four-year-old American named Oliver. Initially, Elio cannot stand Oliver and his laid-back attitude. Oliver is everything Elio is not. Oliver is cool and calm and makes connections wherever he goes. Meanwhile, Elio is introverted and emotionally intuitive. Gradually, Elio begins to notice Oliver more and more, and he gradually falls in love with him. But can such a relationship ever begin or even last? Continue reading

Book Review: The Mermaid Secret by: Vicki Blum

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Initial Thoughts: The Mermaid Secret was the very first book I had ever bought on my own. When I was in elementary school, my school would have book fairs to raise money for the school. My parents gave me some pocket change to buy a book at school (I could barely understand how money worked at the time). I was so excited. Here I was, a little seven-year-old and I could finally buy something on my own! The beautiful cover of The Mermaid Secret captivated my attention right away.

Summary

6871826Kallie and Danya are as unalike as twin sisters can be. When a mermaid visits Kallie in the night, asking for help, she accepts right away. Danya is harder to convince. But soon the twins are taking the plunge together into the amazing undersea world of Ayralon. A secret from their past awaits them – and a thrilling quest for the stolen magic of the merpeople.

The Review

Danya and Kallie are twin sisters. Kallie always has her head in the clouds, and Danya is down-to-earth. One night, a mermaid appears in Kallie’s room, begging for her and her sister’s help. Danya believes there is no such thing as mermaids… until she and Kallie suddenly find themselves in the world of Ayralon. Continue reading

Book Review: Little Fish by: Casey Plett

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Wendy knew how to deal with looking cis and she knew how to deal with looking trans, but she would never, ever figure out how to be both. How the world could treat her so differently—within days or hours.

Little Fish by: Casey Plett

Initial Thoughts: For the past few years, I have been trying to push myself to read more Canadian books by Canadian authors. Canadian authors are often overshadowed by the popular flashy bestsellers out there. It is similar to how people are encouraged to buy local to support local vendors and artists. As a Canadian, I’d like to support Canadian writers out there. And, it is nice to see my country represented by a vast array of voices.

Summary

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In this extraordinary debut novel by the author of the Lambda Literary Award-winning story collection A Safe Girl to Love, Wendy Reimer is a thirty-year-old trans woman who comes across evidence that her late grandfather–a devout Mennonite farmer–might have been transgender himself. At first she dismisses this revelation, having other problems at hand, but as she and her friends struggle to cope with the challenges of their increasingly volatile lives–from alcoholism, to sex work, to suicide–Wendy is drawn to the lost pieces of her grandfather’s life, becoming determined to unravel the mystery of his truth. Alternately warm-hearted and dark-spirited, desperate and mirthful, Little Fish explores the winter of discontent in the life of one transgender woman as her past and future become irrevocably entwined. 

The Review

I was initially drawn in by the strange but beautiful cover art without reading the premise.

Wendy Reimer is a thirty-year-old trans woman who comes from a long line of Mennonite farmers. Since she began her transition she has been at odds with certain members of her family, including her grandmother who just recently passed away. At the funeral, Wendy receives a strange phone call from an old family friend who tells her that her late grandfather might have been transgender. Shocked by this new revelation, Wendy seeks to uncover the lost pieces of her grandfather’s life while trying to patch together her own life that seems to be falling to pieces.

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