Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata – Five Sentence Book Review

Back again with another five sentence book review, this time for Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata. It’s a book originally written & published in Japanese and translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori.

This book was a confusing read, and felt like a literary rollercoaster ride where I wanted to sometimes scream at the main character, and at other times scream at everyone else.

It felt like equal parts memoir, fiction, and ethnographic study, which would have been perfect had it not been so weird.

I found myself feeling utterly conflicted and as time went on, I went from enjoying the book, to essentially hate-reading it.

I don’t know if it’s cultural differences, but I found some of the book to be frustratingly offensive, and while I think that was in some ways perhaps the point, it made it no less bearable.

I expected a lot of things from this book, and the only thing it delivered on was that it was a short & quick read.

⭐️

If you’ve read this book, I’m curious to know what you thought of it! I picked it up and read it in a matter of hours and I’m now sitting here wondering what exactly I just experienced!

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary – Five sentence book review.

This book is a beautiful romance filled with heart-warming moments.

It’s also dark at times – tackling difficult subjects in a really refreshing way.

I loved how well the characters and setting were used and developed, which made it so easy to picture every scene.

What a damn good debut novel.

Go buy/borrow/download/listen to this book!!!!

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Is this a ridiculous way of reviewing a book? Perhaps. But honestly, I often find myself wanting to discuss a book when I’ve finished it, and I also find that I frequently struggle to convey my thoughts properly after reading a book. Sometimes I just want to sit in my feelings, but I often also feel the urge to write about what I’ve experienced too. This felt like maybe it could be a good way to bridge the gap??

Waiting for Tom Hanks – Kerry Winfrey (BOOK REVIEW)

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I went on a bit of a book requesting spree from my local library recently, and Waiting for Tom Hanks was one of the many books I put a hold on. It’s definitely thanks to Instagram, though I can’t remember exactly who inspired the choice, it was likely many of you. It is definitely one of those books that has been posted nearly everywhere!

The title was of course what drew me in, but it was the first sentence on the back cover that had me immediately opening my library app (BEST. THING. EVER.) and putting a hold on the book.

“Annie Cassidy dreams of being the next Nora Ephron.”

Yes please. Count me in. You’ve Got Mail is my favorite movie. Sleepless in Seattle is definitely in my top ten, and they’re both easily in the top three for my favorite romantic comedies (with Love Actually completing the trio). So a romance novel with a focus on some of the best rom-com’s in existence? I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

I stopped by my local library branch yesterday to pick up my copy on reserve and since it’s a newer release and in such demand, it’s a 7-day only hold. It’s also in the waiting pool, which means that others are in line and I can’t renew it. Of course I got another book that was a 7-day hold as well, so I knew I had to get to reading (leaving my other three reads on the back burner because I swear, it’s all or nothing when it comes to reading for me)! Before we get into the actual book review, let me just say that I really love the cover of this book! Sometimes I wish there was a whole separate Goodreads function for rating book covers because I have some opinions on the matter!

This is not the first book from author Kerry Winfrey, but it is the first book of hers that I’ve read. She has two other novels, and Waiting on Tom Hanks is slated for a sequel with Not Like The Movies.

The book focuses on Annie Cassidy, who is straight-up obsessed with romantic comedies. Perhaps mostly because it’s a connection for her to her parents. Her dad dies when she’s young, and her mother dies while she’s in high school, leaving Annie’s Uncle Don to move in and raise her. It’s just them against the world. A love of romantic comedies is something Annie has inherited from her mother and it’s a safe place for her. This kind of safety/comfort in fandoms is a theme that is carried throughout the book for many of the characters and one which I really appreciated and enjoyed as I relate to it.

Annie’s love for romantic comedies extends beyond mere comfort and enjoyment – she uses them for a guide in her life. Professionally, she hopes to write a successful screenplay (of a rom-com of course). Personally she analyzes her romantic relationships (and those of the people around her) on the formulas within many of her favorite movies. While Annie uses these unrealistically charming and magical movies as her guide in life, she lives her actual life on the safe side. The loss of her mother has made it difficult for Annie to leave the only connections to her that she has: her uncle Don, and her childhood home which they still share. Her neighborhood of Germantown, Ohio is safe and comforting and filled with memories (some good, some bad), and leaving it is a scary prospect. So when a movie comes to town to film, and her Uncle knows the director, ensuring her a job as his assistant, it’s fate. It being a romantic comedy just further proves that. It’s also on this set where her own romantic comedy comes alive, with not one, but three potential suitors (some more house trained than others…), one of which being the star of the film – Drew Danforth.

There are so many cute aspects of this book. This being a contemporary romance novel, I should expect that to be the case. But while the book has no shortage of adorable, charming moments, it was also a bit of a slow burn for me. It’s a really cute story, but Annie’s love for romantic comedies often borders on obsession and this repetitiveness got a bit grating to endure at times.

I found myself rooting for Annie throughout the book, but there were times where she frequently made me cringe. She’s the type of character who often gets in their own way, and while I know part of her story was her learning to let go, take risks, and move on, there were moments where she was a more than a little exhausting. But perhaps that’s just the thing when you’re seeing a character from your outside perspective – their flaws are much more noticeable than the flaws you yourself might possess, even if they’re the same or similar.

There’s definitely a bit of that “will they/won’t they” apprehension hanging in the air as the book progresses and I’m glad that it wasn’t entirely predictable from the word go. That tension is often what makes a romance novel good right?? It leads to those moments, just like in the romantic comedies of screen, where everything just crescendos and the story reaches its climax. Winfrey definitely nails the classic romance formula, but in a refreshing way. I loved all the various pop-culture/nerdy elements throughout the book – between all the talk of Nora Ephron films and Frasier, it felt like the book was quite often speaking to me, and me alone.

Waiting for Tom Hanks is really a lovely book – full of dynamic, very well developed characters. Looking beyond some of the early repetitiveness, it ended up being a super easy read for me as I plowed through the book in a little more than a day. It should certainly make its way onto everyone’s summer reading lists because it’s just the right blend of heavy and lightheartedness that I think we could all benefit from right now. Come on, couldn’t we all use an escape??

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ out of 5 stars.

For more of what I’m reading, you can follow me on Goodreads and Instagram!

TBRs, Reading Goals, and Why I’m quitting it all.

*waves white flag*

I give up.

I give up, and I’m completely okay with it.

I enjoy feeling like I’m a part of something. I love nerding out with a fandom, or engaging with a niche community that shares a similar interest. I’ll admit that as someone who works and goes to school from home, and who lives with chronic illness, I don’t often feel a part of much. The internet is my savior in that respect. I’ve always had a love for reading, and between blogs, Youtube and Instagram, I’ve been exposed to the massive and crazy world of Book bloggers, Booktube and Bookstagram. Their passion has often left me feeling equal parts inspired and inadequate. It’s what has inspired me to try and reach a higher reading goal and to make monthly TBRs. I thought I wanted to be a bigger part of that community.

Until I realized that I don’t.

Don’t get me wrong. There are great people within the online book world. There are important conversations being had and brilliant books that I’ve discovered through it. But there are negatives too. I find myself frequently feeling pressure to read more and to read faster. I find myself wanting to consume books simply for the sake of consuming it. Read-a-thons and TBR lists aren’t about savoring the books we enjoy, they’re about consumption and reaching impressive reading goals. Sure, some people simply read a lot, and read fast. I’m just not one of them. So I find myself feeling such pressure to try and keep up. I thought that trying to reach specific goals, and attempting to read a certain number of books every month would help me to prioritize reading as self-care, but through this I’ve learned how easy it is to turn something you might have once found enjoyable and therapeutic, into something that feels like a chore, and that is stress-inducing.

I don’t want the book community to destroy my love for reading.

I found that the pressure I put on myself to try and read longer/faster/more, was making me feel guilty for engaging in other things I enjoyed doing – like watching TV. I also found that I would feel like what I was reading wasn’t good enough. There’s a lot of discussion in the book community right now about what kind of content we are reading. While I get it, I found it left me feeling like I shouldn’t even be talking about the books I was reading or wanted to read, because maybe they weren’t valuable?

I can recognize the power and value of the online book community, but I have to say that trying to engage in it, has left me nearly hating an activity I have loved my entire life. When I was little, I was always getting in trouble for reading in the dark. I was heckled and harassed during school because I read during lunch… or on the bus…or during free periods. So I hoped that this online community would help me find cohorts who I could share my love of reading with. But the reality is that there is a dark side to everything. I’m not saying that everyone who participates in this community is bad – not at all! I’m just acknowledging that there are issues.

So I’m done. I want to find my way back to loving reading again. Reading truly for pleasure and fulfillment. Reading for myself. Maybe I’ll share it here, maybe I won’t. But done are the TBR’s and the reading goals. I think its the only way to save this relationship.

Doctor Who: The Many Lives of Doctor Who – Richard Dinnick – REVIEW

Hey guys – so I know Tina tends to be more of a book-lover on the blog than myself, but one of my goals for this year is to read more as a way to expand my knowledge as well as to give myself and my eyes, some much needed “R&R” away from screens. I intentionally set the bar low on my Goodreads with only 10 books because I know it can be hard during the school semester to read for classes let alone for myself. Plus, I want to get back into the habit of reading more!! I remember when I used to whizz through books during high school so my hope is to return to my former reading glory of satiating several books monthly. Considering I’ve already read four so far this January, I’d say I’m doing well!

The latest book I’ve finished has been the graphic novel Doctor Who: The Many Lives of Doctor Who from Richard Dinnick. I’ve been learning that I enjoy reading graphic novels. I used to read manga and have more recently enjoyed reading the March historical trilogy from Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin and earlier this month, I polished off Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. It really shouldn’t surprise me that I like graphic novels so much, seeing how I loved reading the comics as a kid (I absolutely loved Opus the Penguin).

I’m also quickly becoming a Whovian. I’ve been working my way through watching both the Tenth and Thirteenth Doctor, and my eventual goal is to watch every single Doctor. I’m no where near done, but I have a basic understanding of both the order of the Doctors and some of the creatures from the iconic British science fiction program. Now that I’ve explained that, let’s talk about the book itself!!

The book kicks off right as the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) regenerates. While the regeneration process takes place, The Doctor revisits past incarnations of himself as a means to prepare the latest and current Thirteenth Doctor (played by Jodie Whittaker) to travel through space and time dimensions. While I mentioned before I’m not yet as well-versed in all versions of The Doctor, I think this book was a fun read despite that and it’s not really necessary to have that knowledge to read it. The fourteen different stories from prior versions of The Doctor provided a really enthralling read as they travel through space and time from New York in the 1980s, Northern Italy in 49 B.C.E, and beyond. The stories not only feature the 14 different versions of The Doctor but also incorporates some of the beloved companions, other characters, and creatures like the Daleks and Cybermen throughout the series. The stories also incorporate various established characteristics from the series such as The Doctor’s distaste for pears. Regardless of how much you may or may not know about the series, this book does a good job about making a series of short tales that are captivating without needing extensive knowledge about everything within the Doctor Who series.

The stories in Dinnick’s book would be nothing without the mesmerizing illustrations. The illustrations within are individual masterpieces as each story was done by different illustrators. Like each incarnation of The Doctor, the illustrations have their own discernible creative differences but every illustration is both authentic and gorgeous visual representations in their own way. I think one of my favorites were the illustrations of Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor – they’re absolutely adorable and fun and made me want to switch to watching the Fourth Doctor now!

Whether you’re a fan of the longstanding sci-fi series or just looking for an in to the Doctor Who fandom (I’d say that this book is a great way to enter this world, that can honestly feel overwhelming to anyone unfamiliar), this book is a very short read and if you’re anything like me, will leave you wanting more. The book earns a 3.84 rating on Goodreads, but I personally would’ve given a higher rating of 4.5. It is absolutely brilliant and it’s safe to say I want to dive further into Doctor Who graphic novels!!

Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge + January TBR

Last year I ended up reading 38 books – surpassing my goal of 30 for the year. Despite not reading for long chunks of time (hello, grad school), I feel pleased with my progress and like I have successfully found *some* of my reading mojo again. Reading has always been a huge love of mine, but life and school have often gotten in the way of it over the years. This year, I’m stepping up that goal because I want to really focus on making reading not just something I make time for, but something that I consistently make time for.

I view reading as not just entertainment, or an educational tool, but also as a means of self care – a way of distracting me when perhaps I’m not feeling my best. Whenever I go through a period of time where I don’t pick up a book, I feel off – like some part of my routine is missing or unsatisfied. I can’t promise that I will read (for pleasure anyway) every single day, and I know that when school is back in full swing, there’s likely to be many days where I don’t pick up a book. But my hope is to try and read at least a little bit every single day!

In 2019, my Goodreads goal is to read 50 books.

Read More »

Monthly Favorites – August 2018

I realize it’s been a bit dead here on the blog in recent weeks. Classes just started up again for both of us and its been a bit of a transition period as we get into the swing of things again. Don’t worry though, while our posts might be a bit more sporadic, we’re still here! I thought that I’d share my August favorites today, which admittedly might be somewhat sparse as it’s just one of those months where I haven’t got loads to talk about. Let’s just get into it shall we?

Made by Design Duvet – I’ve been looking for a new duvet for a really long time now. I’m picky and duvets can be really expensive! While browsing the isles of Target recently, I saw they had new bedding in and this duvet in particular which, is pretty much exactly what I’ve been looking for. It’s got ties to keep your duvet in place, buttons up to close and has a really nice edge which makes it look like it cost a lot more than it actually did. It’s also just the right color and isn’t microfiber which drives me and my skin mad (I cannot stand the texture)! Oh and did I mention how utterly affordable it was?? Only $30! It seems that this new Made by Design range from Target is going to be a winner.

Floral Accent Lamp – sticking with home decor, I also picked up this lamp for a side table in my room. I’ve got a space that I’ve been working on cozying up into a nice reading space and I needed better lighting. I honestly didn’t expect to find any thing at Target, but I did! I will say though that this lamp looks much better in person than it does on their website. Once the space is done, perhaps I will share it here on the blog. I’ve been looking for throw pillows for the small couch/futon I’ve got and it’s been easier said than done. I found a couple yesterday at Home Goods but I need some more. If you’ve got any suggestions on good shops for pillows, please let me know!

Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour – I’m not gluten free, but I do try to eat as much GF as I can because I have found that my body isn’t the biggest fan of wheat (whole wheat bread and I just DO NOT get along!!). This flour from Bob’s Red Mill is absolutely excellent! I’ve used it plenty of times as a substitute for regular flour and it works really well. I love Bob’s Red Mill in general and haven’t come across anything from them that I don’t like so it’s really no surprise that this is another winner. I also LOVE their Gluten Free pancake mix. I’ve been using it for years, and while I might try other mixes on occasion, I also come back to theirs because it’s consistent and makes super delicious pancakes!

The Cafe by the Sea by Jenny Colgan – this was easily my favorite read in a long while. I’ve already written a review so I won’t blab too much about it, but it was just wonderful. I just picked up The Endless Beach from the library and school reading be damned! I will get through this too! I’m currently working my way slowly through a biography of Queen Elizabeth II and really enjoying it. It’s taking me some time to read but my goodness, I have learned so much!! I’m not sure if I will review it here when I’m done or not, if that is something you’d like to see, please let me know!


BBC Sherlock – okay, please don’t judge at how slow I am to get into something – instead, perhaps marvel at my incredible restraint?? Can we view it that way? I mean, I realize I should have been watching Sherlock years ago. My sister has been a huge fan for years and I have no real reason for not watching aside from the fact that sometimes when things are well received and popular, I don’t seem to want to get into them. I honestly didn’t even think I’d enjoy Sherlock. For no good reason either. I’m an anglophile, I like mysteries and crime shows, and I love Elementary, so really, why the hell wouldn’t I like Sherlock?? Well, I LOVE this damn show and I’m so sorry it has taken me this long to watch it (I’m sorry Missy – your nagging was worth it)!! I haven’t quite finished it yet, but I know I’ll be sad when I do.

Lastly, I want to mention the music I’ve been enjoying the most this month. I’ve been listening to Aretha Franklin a lot ❤, and also really loving Whispers from Passenger. I can’t pick a favorite song from either, because it’s all lovely.

Hope everyone had a lovely August. I’m honestly ready for September and fall. Hoping we actually get a proper fall this year. Sometimes it tends to feel like we skip over my favorite season where I live. We’ve got a lot of posts planned for September thanks to the upcoming television season, so stay tuned for that!