All the Colors Came Out – Kate Fagan

This book has the most beautiful cover I’ve seen this year. It’s more astounding in real life, so if you ever get the chance to get your hands on the hardcover copy, go for it. Having read Kate Fagan’s former book – What Made Maddy Run – I was very interested in this book, particularly because she discusses herself and her family, whereas her first book focuses on another family entirely and one particular tragic event.

Both are good, honestly, but very different. In All the Colors Came Out, Kate Fagan talks mainly about her father who was diagnosed with ALS a couple of years ago, and chronicles everything that happened after the diagnosis until the day he dies from the illness. She also reflects on many childhood memories and tells us what it was like to grow up with a father like hers and what lead to their distancing later in life.

Seeing Kate Fagan try to reconnect with her dying father was very beautiful. Spending time with her family and writing about it also made her understand her own mother and wife better. Her sister is not mentioned as much, but with reason since she is busy raising kids and does not live with her father anymore. Kate, on the other hand, decided to spend half the time with her father and half with her wife, so she can take care of him and make up for all the times she prioritized her career over her family.

Although this is a short nonfiction book, with less than two hundred pages, it is not the type of book you can easily read in an afternoon or one sitting. It may be short, but it is filled with experience, wisdom, regret, hope, love, understanding, lessons and sadness. Normally, a book this size would take me an entire day to read at most, but I’ve spent the last three days reading it little by little. There is no clear ‘‘storyline’’ per se, even if it’s divided in multiple parts. At times it feels random, like Kate wrote all that was on her mind out of order. At times the chapters also feel like blog posts, barely edited, just Kate and what’s cursing through her. Reflection after reflection. But one thing it always is is authentic. I wasn’t always very happy with Kate, because some of the things she says and does are selfish or childish and I expected better from a grown woman, but what softened me was seeing how well Kate tried to understand her own shortcomings and how she maybe didn’t deserve me being so hard on her.

I feel honoured to have had the chance to get to know Kate’s father and Kate herself better. Though I cannot compare this to anything I’ve read before, I think you’ll like Kate’s writing style and personality if you enjoyed Shrill by Lindy West.

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.

Bamboozled By Jesus – Yvonne Orji

I feel like fate brought me to this book, which is oh-so-appropriate, considering this book’s premise and its many positive messages. I initially became interested in it because, for the past few months, I rekindled and further developed a relationship with God. I used to pray often when I was younger, and believe in God’s presence in my life, but somewhere along the way, I stopped believing and praying (unless I was alone at night and got really, really scared). My and God’s relationship is only at its beginnings though, so I thought that by reading this book, I would get to know Him and the author better. It’s only when I actually opened it that I realized that it was written by the actress who plays Molly’s character in the TV show Insecure, which is such an amazing series. Molly’s character spoke to me on so many levels that I knew before I even read the first page that I would really like this book.

I didn’t know, however, that it would become one of the best books I’ve read all year. From the get-go, Yvonne is candid, confident and a hella amazing writer. I am a little sorry to say that I’m surprised. It’s not that I assume all entertainers to be amateur writers or to use ghost-writers, but Yvonne not only uses vocabulary in a very appropriate way and shapes sentences that flow very well, she does that WHILE letting her personality shine through. Sometimes she’s more formal, other times a little more relaxed. Sometimes she shares professional stories, other times more casual or personal ones. She does all of this while being herself and speaking to us as though we are right in front of her and she already knows we are worthy of her time and wisdom. It started slow for me, as I haven’t read a Christian book in a long time, but by the end of it, I didn’t want to let it go. And maybe I don’t have to. I’ll definitely watch the author’s YouTube videos and pay closer attention to her presence on screen. Overall, I believe she did a really good job of connecting daily moments and Bible moments, so much so that I feel like buying a Bible today. I used to own one, and even started reading it, but I wasn’t so into reading it from start to finish. I think I will follow Yvonne’s advice and just read whichever parts speak to me in the moment, or open it at a random page and analyze whatever I stumble upon. All that to say that Yvonne Orji delivered here an absolute gem that I look forward to rereading in the future (this time with highlighters!)

Thank you Hachette Book Group Canada for the copy in exchange for an honest review!

Initiated: Memoir of a Witch – Amanda Yates García

43886044Initiated: Memoir of a Witch by Amanda Yates García

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: 2019
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Recommended Age: 14+
Genres & Themes: Adult, Memoir, Nonfiction, Witches, Witchcraft, Feminism, Spirituality, myths, Mother-Daughter Relationship


REVIEW:

I don’t know why I thought this would be a *fun* read. I guess because I find witches, witchcraft and powers usually fun, especially when I stumble across them in my fantasy reads or the fantasy movies/TV shows I watch.

So I started this memoir expecting to be highly entertained and, I admit, I didn’t take it all that seriously. Of course, a part of me believes in the unexplainable, so while I had my prejudices about witches and magic, I was still open to be educated by the author. Continue reading

All Boys Aren’t Blue – George M. Johnson

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My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Received: Raincoast Books
Published: April 28th, 2020
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Recommended Age: 14+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Memoir, LGBTQIA+, Family, Identity, Sexuality, Assault, Grief


REVIEW:

I feel honoured to have had the chance to read about George M. Johnson’s positive and negative experiences growing up. I also feel humbled by the fact that the author trusted us with his secrets and wanted to make this book a safe space for other people out there who may struggle with the same issues he did or want to become more educated on them. Continue reading

Strong Looks Better Naked – Khloé Kardashian

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Strong Looks Better Naked by Khloé Kardashian

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Library
Published: 2015
Publisher: Regan Arts
Recommended Age: 13+
Genres & Themes: Adult, Self Help, Health, Love, Memoir, Growing Up, Celebrity Life, Family


REVIEW:

Khloé is the Kardashian I relate to the most and am most excited about seeing appear on the screen. She is so relatable. She’s been through so much. I loved the way she opened up to us in this book. She shares her ups and downs, her journey to a healthier, stronger, more love-filled life. Continue reading

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive

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Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: January 22nd, 2019
Publisher: Hachette Books
Recommended Age: 14+
Genres & Themes: Memoir, Social Issues, Abuse, Motherhood, Work Conditions


REVIEW:

The low average rating for this one baffles me.

Personally, I was completely consumed. I had never read something like this before. Stephanie Land opened my eyes and made me face the truth about so many issues I had never thought much about before. She also made me realize that there are ways to discuss poverty and financial issues with dignity, elegance and strength. Continue reading

Girls Need Not Apply: Field Notes from the Forces

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Girls Need Not Apply: Field Notes from the Forces by Kelly S. Thompson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Penguin Random House Canada
Published: August 20th, 2019
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Recommended Age: 14+
Genres & Themes: Adult, Memoir, Military, Coming of Age, Feminism


REVIEW:

I have such mixed feelings about this memoir. I was very excited to read it because I don’t recall ever reading a memoir from someone who served in the army, let alone a woman, and because I could feel it in my bones that it would be impactful. I enjoy both light and heavy stories so I was ready for an arrow to pierce my heart. Continue reading

Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir – Ruth Reichl

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Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir by Ruth Reichl

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Penguin Random House Canada
Published: April 2nd, 2019
Publisher: Appetite
Recommended Age: 13+
Genres & Themes: Nonfiction, Memoir, Food, Personal & Work Journey


REVIEW:

I have wanted to read Ruth Reichl for YEARS and I was going to start with another of her memoirs – Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise – because it sounded JUICY and very secret indeed. But then this one came out and I was offered a chance to review it so I jumped on the opportunity. Continue reading

Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos – Lucy Knisley

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Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos by Lucy Knisley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Received: Raincoast Books
Published: February 26th, 2019
Publisher: First Second Books
Recommended Age: 13+
Genres & Themes: Adult, Graphic Memoir, Nonfiction, Pregnancy


REVIEW:

Woah. This book feels like a GAME-CHANGER. And maybe it is, who knows, I sure don’t know many graphic novels mainly about pregnancy so this may just be one of the firsts of its kind. And maybe there will be more in the future, only time will tell. Wouldn’t that be amazing, though? Continue reading