Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

Title: Me Before You
Author: Amy Schumer
Format: Audiobook Download
Source: Purchased
Narrator: Amy Schumer
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publishing Date: August 16, 2016
Book Rating:
Narrator Rating: 

Synopsis from the publisher's website:
The Emmy Award-winning comedian, actress, writer, and star of Inside Amy Schumer and the acclaimed film Trainwreck has taken the entertainment world by storm with her winning blend of smart, satirical humor. Now, Amy Schumer has written a refreshingly candid and uproariously funny collection of (extremely) personal and observational essays.

In The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy mines her past for stories about her teenage years, her family, relationships, and sex and shares the experiences that have shaped who she is—a woman with the courage to bare her soul to stand up for what she believes in, all while making us laugh.

Ranging from the raucous to the romantic, the heartfelt to the harrowing, this highly entertaining and universally appealing collection is the literary equivalent of a night out with your best friend—an unforgettable and fun adventure that you wish could last forever. Whether she’s experiencing lust-at-first-sight while in the airport security line, sharing her own views on love and marriage, admitting to being an introvert, or discovering her cross-fit instructor’s secret bad habit, Amy Schumer proves to be a bighearted, brave, and thoughtful storyteller that will leave you nodding your head in recognition, laughing out loud, and sobbing uncontrollably—but only because it’s over.

I've been on an audiobook binge since the end of July. After listening to Me Before You and After You by Jojo Moyes, I was hoping for a lighter read. It was late Monday evening and I was going through my Twitter feed when I realized Amy Schumer's book was being released at midnight. I purchased the audiobook and downloaded it an hour later. At 3am, I was a few chapters in and hooked on her story.

I was never an Amy Schumer mega fan. In fact, I didn't know who she was until my husband told me I HAD to watch the movie Trainwreck. I enjoyed the movie and started to dabble in a few of her shows. What I took away from those shows was that Amy was not only hilarious, but she was also very confident and had a few hidden stories. Those hidden stories were aired out in the pages of this book.

Amy is very transparent in this extremely personal memoir. She reminisces about her rise to fame and tells readers intimate details of her past relationships. Readers/Listeners are also reminded that although Amy is a celebrity and is, now, often in the spotlight, she is an introvert. Someone who enjoys retreating to a quiet place for some alone time.
"If you’re a true introvert, other people are basically energy vampires. You don’t hate them; you just have to be strategic about when you expose yourself to them—like the sun"
Amy's life was not always one filled with glamour. Her upbringing taught her to appreciate what she had and never stopped reminding her that she had to work hard to succeed. Throughout the book she gives her readers boots of confidence.
"Love yourself! You don’t need a man or a boy or a self-proclaimed love expert to tell you what you’re worth. Your power comes from who you are and what you do! You don't need all that noise, that constant hum in the background telling you whether or not you're good enough. All you need is you, your friends, and your family. And you will find the right person for you, if that's what you want - the one who respects your strength and beauty."
I would recommend this book to fans of Amy Schumer and to those who enjoy inspiring memoirs - though this one may be a bit more crude that you're used to. I would also recommend the audiobook over the physical/eBook. This is mostly due to the fact that Amy herself narrates it. It makes the book and its lessons so much more impactful. You can hear the changes in her tone as she recalls the events of her past. So, if you're looking for a new read, or just want to catch up on some celebrity biographies, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer should definitely be your next choice!

Friday, October 21, 2016

After You by Jojo Moyes

Title: After You
Author: Jojo Moyes
Format: Audiobook Download
Source: Purchased
Narrators: Anna Acton
Publisher:Penguin Audio
Book Rating:
Narrator Rating: 

Synopsis from publisher's website:
How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?

Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.

Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future. . . .

For Lou Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes gives us two families, as real as our own, whose joys and sorrows will touch you deeply, and where both changes and surprises await.

I downloaded After You almost immediately after I finished listening to Me Before You. I was still on a high from following Will and Lou's gut wrenching story. I probably should have given myself more time to recover...

In After You, Jojo Moyes takes us back into Lou's world just weeks after losing Will. Here we see a completely different person from the quirky and lively girl we fell in love with in the first book. Lou is shattered (in more ways than one...), floating aimlessly through the days trying to make sense of what had happened. Her world has been turned upside down.

One of my favourite aspects of Moyes' writing is character development. I absolutely adored Lou's character. Following her on this new journey as she works to come to terms with her loss and attempts to bring back a refreshed version of her old self was so captivating.  The writer also brings back a few characters from her past to cheer her on and brings in a few new ones for the ride.

This sequel is all about healing and the struggle of moving on. It's about learning how to pick up the shattered pieces and trying to make it whole again. It also brings about some new twists and turns you won't want to miss.

After You is just as engaging as its prequel. It won't leave you as broken the first book but it will still raise up a ton of emotions that you tried to suppress the first go round. All I can say is go grab your tissue box and get ready for another emotional rollercoaster as you re-enter Lou's world.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Teaser Tuesday #29 Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by Jenn at Books and a Beat. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page (some times you need more than two for it to make sense).
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers

Title: Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History
Author: Sam Maggs
Publisher: Quirk Books
Format: Hardcover
Publishing Date: October 4, 2016
Number of Pages: 240

Sam Maggs has been one of my favourite Canadian bookish people since I read her book The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks. I fell in love with the book because it talked about all the nerdy things I secretly (and sometimes not so secretly love). You can check out my review for that book here. Sam Maggs latest book gives readers a glimpse into the lives of some really kick-ass women who have each made a huge imprint on the world. I'm about half way through and have already learned so much. We have always known that women have played a larger part in history than what was written in our text books. In her latest book, Wonder Women, Sam Maggs highlights just a handful of these extraordinary ladies. Here are a few teasers:

"It's time to stop accepting women's role in history as limited to keeping a great home (though admittedly a harder job than it looks!) and birthing the dudes we learn about in art history or religion or biology class." p10

"There's nothing wrong with a woman who chooses to stay at home and be a great supporter of her family, so long as that is her choice. Sadly, however, for most of history, women were dined any other options, a fact that didn't sit right with one Annie Londonderry. Whether the world was ready for it or not, she was going to roll her way into women's rights on a revolutionary invention that was shaking up society: the bicycle." -p194

I'd love to hear from anyone who's had a chance to read this book. Were there any particular bios that shocked or inspired you? Leave a comment and let me know!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Alone Against the North: An Expedition into the Unknown by Adam Shoalts

Title: Alone Against the North
Author: Adam Shoalts
Format: Trade Paperback
Source: Purchased
Publishing Date: May 10, 2016 (First published in hardcover on October 6, 2015)

Like most of my 2016 reads, Alone Against the North was introduced to me by Janet Joy Wilson. Her "Earth Day Rocks!" edition of the #TMSBookClub briefly talks about climate change, the importance of bees and a quick tale about Canada's Indiana Jones. The last one really spoke to me. I picked up a copy and like many all of J.J.'s recommendations I did not want to to put it down. For three days, I took the non express trains to work so I could have a few more minutes to read about Adam's adventures.
"So the world still does contain remote, unexplored territory and the age of exploration is not over...which is where I enter the picture. my vocation is to explore one of the world's last great wildernesses." - p20
In the days of Google Earth and advanced satellite technology it's hard to believe that there are still parts of the world that have not been explored.  In Alone Against the North, readers are immersed into Adam's adventures as he embarks on several thrilling journeys into an unknown part of Canada within the Hudson Bay Lowlands, located in Northern Ontario.
"My objective was simple enough: to make the first detailed exploration of and substantial published account of the Again reiver in history. The idea alone -the first in history- was positively intoxicating." - p26
Adam's journey was not an easy one. This was not one of those expeditions you see on TV. At the time, he did not have big name sponsors to fund an adventure of this magnitude. He travelled light carrying only the basic necessities to survive, similar to those of the explorers that came before him.

In the pages that follow, you are absorbed into Adam's world as he goes through the Canadian wilderness. Just as you would expect there are stories of bears, goshawks and insects. His descriptions of blackflies had me swatting the air and shuddering at the thought of being swarmed by them. I tried to visualize the descriptions of the waterfalls and lagoons wishing that there were pictures included in the book. I followed along as Adam overcame his goal of reaching the Again River and all of dangers and triumphs that came along with it.

I put down this book yearning to know more about the Again River and my country. Alone Against the North is definitely a recommended read for anyone looking for an adventure. Adam's story is both educational and uplifting. His ability to overcome the physical and mental barriers during his expeditions will leave you inspired and empowered.
"To quit -to accept defeat, to admit the river had beaten me- was out of the question" -p218
There is no greater triumph than achieving a personal goal no matter how big or how small. Alone Against the North serves as a reminder that you can achieve anything if you believe in yourself. 

You can learn more about Adam Shoalts and his adventures from the video below or take trip to his website.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Title: Me Before You
Author: Jojo Moyes
Format: Audiobook Download
Narrators: Susan Lyons, Anna Bentink, Steven Crossley, Alex Tregear, Andrew Wincott, Owen Lindsay
Publisher:Penguin Audio
Book Rating:
Narrator Rating: 

They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose . . .

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has never been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A Love Story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?

Where do I even begin with this? Before I downloaded this audiobook, I believed I was a person who: 1) did not enjoy sappy love stories and 2) would not enjoy audiobooks. Let's tackle these two separately.

Sappy love stories are not my "thing"
Before starting this book, I kept telling myself that I probably wouldn't end of finishing it and would likely skip to watch the movie instead. Um... yeah, I was wrong.

Jojo Moyes created characters that seemed so real. Lou's personality, compassion and determination leapt off the pages. She was an extremely loveable character who was quirky and intelligent. Her contrast to Will brings so much depth to the story that you can't help but want to see their relationship evolve and cheer them on, right down to the last chapter.

I also enjoyed the writing. There could have been many moments in the book that could have dragged on and on, but they didn't and I'm glad. The book was concise and straight to the point (kind of like Will) and yet, still had a few moments that would make you chuckle.

Me Before You has definitely made me think twice about saying no to romantic novels. (Note: I downloaded After You by Jojo Moyes while I was still trying to put myself together after this book.)

Audiobook, schmaudiobook
Yet another thing I was wrong about...

Back in August (yes, I've been absent from the blogging world yet again...), I posted about Awe-Inspiring Audiobooks. Me Before You was the first, and definitely not the last, audiobook that I have ever tried. In not so many words, I'm hooked. Having the ability to listen to books on my commute home on the train and in the car have been one of the only things keeping me sane over the past few weeks. For those who say they don't have the time to read I definitely recommend giving an audiobook a try, it may just change your mind.

In closing...
Safe to say, I adored Me Before You and the format that it was delivered. For audiobooks, the actors play as much of a role as the story itself. Me Before You was narrated by a very talented group of people who kept me engaged throughout.

The book... oh this book... it will make you laugh, it will force you to question humanity and it may even make you cry. But, in the end, it's all worth it. I loved it and I truly recommend that you give it a go in whatever format you see fit.

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