‘Helen & Troy’s Epic Road Quest’ is simply epic

When I think ‘‘fantasy,’’ I think a world on the brink of darkness, serious characters in dire situations, creatures that spring out of nowhere and delight in making the heroes squirm, as well as a great deal of jumping over metaphorical bridges made of illusionary pink sparkly foam that leads toward promised fatal glory. And you know what, I think A. Lee Martinez and I think similarly because he managed to deliver on my most intense ‘‘fantasy’’ fantasies.

Most people think ‘‘just add water’’ but A. Lee Martinez thinks ‘‘just add humor.’’ A God eating a human? That’s fine, just make sure that the God is in the shape of a burger. A female underdog-type love interest to a God-in-the-making? That’s stellar, just make sure the love interest is a rare creature who radiates wit and insecurities that catapult her into turning her side-kick status into a front-kick one. A. Lee Martinez will gladly make your humorous fantasies come true as well as add some unexpected ones of his own.

Helen and Troy don’t have much time. They are on a quest, which sounds all fun and exciting, but if they don’t accomplish it, they die. They might also die while accomplishing it. They might also die just for the hell of it, because the Gods were bored or something. Or because they’re being followed by killer orcs. Regardless, they are on a road trip—pardon, road quest, as per the title—and stumble upon a ton of helpful-malevolent beings that simultaneously want to exterminate them and cheer them on. If you sense that there is a lot of contradiction in this story, don’t let it discourage you. Or let it, if your mind is so weak.

I’m just saying, how often do you get the chance to witness a written scene involving a gladiator-type fight between a respected, professional Cyclops and a Minotaur girl, afraid of her own power? Thank you, A. Lee Martinez, for the honour.

Thank you Hachette Book Group Canada for the copy in exchange for a review.

I think you should dare read ‘A Touch of Jen’

Don’t you just love creepy endings? I mean, you’re not supposed to, and really, who would choose something strange and improbable to something realistic and wonderful? But in actuality, some stories refuse to sidestep shadows and instead embrace them with all their might. I wouldn’t be surprised if Beth Morgan wrote this book late at night, in the dark, with only visible her eyes and mouth from the light of her computer screen.

I’ve said this before, but I love multi-layered tales. Stories that do not explore solely one genre or theme – though those can be interesting too – but multiple ones instead. See, this isn’t solely a horror tale. It contains humor, eroticism, both realistic and unrealistic elements, themes of existentialism and destiny and a lot of hatred and envious energy that is collected and transformed into shadowy creatures that roam dark corners and spring out in unexpected moments, at unexpected times.

This book is an experience. It is one of those works that will not work for the majority. In fact, based on its reviews on Goodreads, which I had not read prior to reading this book, I am in the minority of people who actually did take enjoyment from it and find it to be quite the temporal stunner. It is a book for the few who dare immerse themselves in the strange, the weird, odd, and creepy without guarantee that they might in any way relate to any of its content. Relatedness, now that I think of it, is not something I looked for in this or even thought of.

There are stories you read because they speak to you, they inspire you, teach you and leave you feeling like a better person, a more knowledgeable and open-minded one. And then there are stories that mess up your logic brain for a little while, and though it’s certainly possible you’ve lost one IQ point at some point, you think, ‘‘oh hell, it’s worth it’’ and embrace it all, fascinated.

Thank you Hachette Book Group Canada for the copy in exchange for a review.

I Tried to Change So You Don’t Have To: True Life Lessons – Loni Love

I can’t believe this was published over a year ago and I only learned of its existence recently! That is such a tragedy. I love Loni Love. It’s very hard not to. I noticed her good heart while watching segments of The Real on YouTube and I absolutely knew I would love reading her words in this memoir. My good feeling about this book was validated immediately as I started the first chapter. While she may not reinvent the wheel—other authors have discussed facing challenges and growing up in a rough kind of environment—her spirit is felt all over the pages and it’s such a positive spirit to be surrounded by.   

Loni Love did not have it easy growing up. She’s had to take care of herself, and while this meant she missed out on being taken care of by a loved one, it did teach her responsibility and independence fairly well. But Loni knows to welcome people and their affections in her life nonetheless, and her good intentions are certainly recognized by the right people. She’s had close people take advantage of her goodness and willingness to give attention and affection, but she’s also learned from negative experiences.

She’s totally right: at any given moment, we have the choice between crying about our own misfortune over and over, or trusting that God (if you believe in Him) has a better plan for us and only asks us to have faith in ourselves and Him. I admit that that’s something I struggle with on an ongoing basis. Even if it’s for a minute, I tend to throw myself different self-pity parties that are at times hard to get out of because no one else is pulling me out and I have to, as I’m drunk to the core, notice my own need to take a breath of fresh air. The good thing is that Loni’s positivity is contagious and her belief that she can make something of herself (which she has!) so strong that it’s hard not to believe her ourselves.

The only downside to this memoir is that it is pretty damn short. At the beginning, she takes it slow, slowly discussing her upbringing and what led her to pursue a degree in engineering. Then, very fast it felt, we were thrown into the period of her life where she was on her way to success. It felt like there were parts missing, but I’m sure we’ll get those parts eventually as this will probably not be her last publication. On the very bright side, I rarely, rarely, if ever, highlight a physical book (because I like to keep them in pristine condition), but I absolutely had to highlight some sentences in this one that made me laugh super hard. Because of its length and the author’s fairly light tone (over the top at times, but hey that’s Loni and I love it), it’s the kind of book that you can breeze through in an afternoon. Again, I cannot believe I didn’t know about it sooner. Thankfully, it’s never too late to hear the words of wisdom of someone you love and respect.

Thank you Hachette Book Group Canada for the copy in exchange for a review.

I Want to Be Where the Normal People Are – Rachel Bloom

I felt similarly reading this memoir—or collection of essays, rather—to reading Ali Wong’s. Both Ali Wong and Rachel Bloom are comedians in their own respective ways. Both of these women are straight-forward and do not censor themselves when discussing sex and other such topics. I like when authors don’t beat around the bush. But somehow neither Rachel Bloom’s nor Ali Wong’s humor is for me. I don’t find bullying or excrement particularly funny. To me, making jokes regarding those—especially the toilet-related ones—seem rather immature. As much as I respect Rachel Bloom’s assertiveness and openness through writing, I have to say I do not find her very mature or amusing. I’m mainly saying the last point because while she entertained me at times, she did not make me laugh the way Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish and Yvonne Orji are able to.

And since this is a collection of supposedly humorous essays and chapters, not laughing or chuckling actually made me feel like an outsider, which is funny because that’s how Rachel Bloom felt growing up and still feels today. There were some chapters that were more serious that resonated with me, for instance when she discusses her experiences at university, the comedy club and with men. My favourite chapter was the one in which she writes about feeling like there is a relationship curse put on her when she was younger. While, not all chapters worked for me, I have to give it to Rachel Bloom: she doesn’t lack originality.

This is a pretty unconventional non-fiction work, because it’s filled with non-traditional stuff. To give you an idea, Rachel Bloom wrote down her LinkedIn profile, built a sort of amusement park for adults and then described it, and even created a short musical for us. While I did not finish Ali Wong’s memoir, I did finish Rachel Bloom’s work and the reason for that is that it reads fast and it’s so diverse in content that even though I didn’t find it particularly funny or meaningful most of the time, I was still curious to know what the next chapter would hold. I do recommend it if you’re a Rachel Bloom fan. I didn’t know who she was prior to picking this up, and clearly she’s not the right comedian for me, but if you feel differently you might love this!

Thank you Hachette Book Group Canada for the copy in exchange for a review.

Jacky Ha-Ha – James Patterson & Chris Grabenstein

28096546. sx318 Jacky Ha-Ha by James Patterson & Chris Grabenstein

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: 2016
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Recommended Age: 8+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Humor, Performance, Siblings, Family


Jacky is an amazingly funny and hot celebrity, and she’s looking back to her childhood period to show us how she overcame many obstacles and precarious situations to become the insanely talented actor she is today. Continue reading

Cinderella and the Glass Ceiling: And Other Feminist Fairy Tales

Cinderella and the Glass Ceiling: And Other Feminist Fairy Tales by Laura Lane & Ellen Haun

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: March 10th, 2020
Publisher: Seal Press
Recommended Age: 15+
Genres & Themes: Adult, Short Stories, Feminism, Fairy Tale Retellings, Humor


Every tangible and intangible part of my being fell head over heels for these short, funny and supremely feminist fairytale retellings featuring kickass females and deeply important messages. It is a parody, yes, but one with meaning and a lot of memorable content. Cherry on the cake: there are also lovely illustrations included. Continue reading

One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter

One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter
One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Penguin Random House Canada
Published: 2017
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Recommended Age: 14+
Pacing: Fast/Normal
Genres & Themes: Adult, Memoir, Essays, Nonfiction, Feminism, Culture, India, Humor


In One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter, Scaachi deploys her razor-sharp humour to share her fears, outrages and mortifying experiences as an outsider growing up in Canada. Her subjects range from shaving her knuckles in grade school, to a shopping trip gone horribly awry, to dealing with internet trolls, to feeling out of place at an Indian wedding (as an Indian woman), to parsing the trajectory of fears and anxieties that pressed upon her immigrant parents and bled down a generation. Alongside these personal stories are pointed observations about life as a woman of colour, where every aspect of her appearance is open for critique, derision or outright scorn. Where strict gender rules bind in both Western and Indian cultures, forcing her to confront questions about gender dynamics, racial tensions, ethnic stereotypes and her father’s creeping mortality–all as she tries to find her feet in the world. Continue reading

Eat Cake. Be Brave. – Melissa Radke

Eat Cake. Be Brave. by Melissa Radke

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: July 17th, 2018
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Recommended Age: 14+
Pacing: Slow/Normal
Genres & Themes: Adult, Memoir, Religion, Humor, Relationships, Family


Hilarious and heartbreaking, this is one woman’s inspiring journey of learning to stand up for herself in a world of naysayers, by the creator of the “Red Ribbon Week” video, which has over 150 million views. Continue reading

Giant Days, Vol. 7

Giant Days, Vol. 7 by John Allison

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Received: Diamond Comic Distributors
Published: March 27th, 2018
Publisher: BOOM! Box
Recommended Age: 13+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Comic, Humor, Friendship, Romance, University Life, LGBTQIA+


Fast friends Susan, Daisy, and Esther continue their second year at Sheffield University, and these are formative times, indeed. Education and looking ahead to the future isn’t all that college holds in-store for these ladies–grocery store protests, family reunions, and even an MMORPG wedding are all on this semester’s docket.

Continue reading

My Boyfriend Is a Bear – Pamela Ribon

My Boyfriend Is a Bear by Pamela Ribon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Distributor
Published: April 24th, 2018
Publisher: Oni Press
Recommended Age: 14+
Pacing: Normal
Genres & Themes: Graphic Novel, Adult, Romance, Humor, Animals


Nora has bad luck with men. When she meets an (actual) bear on a hike in the Los Angeles hills, he turns out to be the best romantic partner she’s ever had! He’s considerate, he’s sweet, he takes care of her. But he’s a bear, and winning over her friends and family is difficult. Not to mention he has to hibernate all winter. Can true love conquer all? Continue reading