The Opposite of Loneliness [Book Review]

Book Reviews, Bursting the Bubble

cvr9781476753614_9781476753614_lgI read about The Opposite of Loneliness in FLARE Magazine and immediately emailed Simon & Schuster Canada to ask them for a copy (please please please please!). They happily obliged in exchange for an honest review, one that I am honoured to give. Marina Keegan a graduate from Yale, died in a car crash five days after graduation. She was an award-winning author and journalist with a play that was supposed to be produced at the New York Fringe Festival AND a job waiting for her at The New Yorker.

Her final essay is where this collection of essays and stories begins, ‘The Opposite of Loneliness’ is an essay about graduation and her time at Yale being anything but lonely. This essay was published in The Yale Daily News and went viral with over 1.4 million hits. Marina would have been turning twenty-five this year, just like me. Her fiction and nonfiction resonated with me as a writer, student, woman, and human being. She demonstrates a knack for understanding the human condition and has a way with words that tickles your mind. My favourite of her essays is ‘Song for the Special’, discussing all of those jealousies we have towards other people. All of our own insecurities and the yearning desire to be special, to create something wonderful and amazing. This essay shows not only her wisdom but her humanity.

She seemed to be a regular girl with a remarkable understanding of herself and the world around her. I read her book in awe and sheer admiration that someone so young could write so incredibly well. Her essays inspired me to pick up my pen more often and to think outside the box. I felt anything but lonely while reading this book. I felt like I was talking to a friend, spending time with someone I’ve known my whole life.

I felt the opposite of lonely and I am so thankful I read this book.

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

Photo of book and information from the Simon & Schuster Website

The Opposite of Loneliness comes out April 8th! 

The Steady Running of the Hour [Book Review]

Book Reviews

cvr9781476704586_9781476704586_lgWhen the lovely Loretta from Simon & Schuster Canada emailed me about The Steady Running of the Hour I knew I would have to get my hands on a copy. I LOVE a good story. I go through phases when it comes to choosing books — I get stuck on memoirs for a bit then move onto chick-lit to YA novels then make my way back to my first love, historical fiction. I get swept away by romance, historical fiction, quests, and great writing. As promised, Justin Go’s novel encompasses all four of those attributes.

In 1924, the English mountaineer Ashley Walsingham dies attempting to summit Mount Everest, leaving his fortune to his former lover, Imogen Soames-Andersson—whom he has not seen in seven years. Ashley’s solicitors search in vain for Imogen, but the estate remains unclaimed. 

Nearly eighty years later, new information leads the same law firm to Tristan Campbell, a young American who could be the estate’s rightful heir. If Tristan can prove he is Imogen’s descendant, the inheritance will be his. But with only weeks before Ashley’s trust expires, Tristan must hurry to find the evidence he needs.

Imagine being twenty-three and finding out that you could possibly be the heir to a hefty estate — if only you could find proof. Tristan accepts the task with a vengeance, and as you follow him around Europe you find yourself holding your breath. It’s quite an adventure driven by love and curiosity. I became obsessed with Ashley and Imogen’s love affair; my heart beat for them and my eyes teared for them. What I loved most about this novel were the characters, Justin Go writes in a way that makes you feel like you’re invested in their lives.

The Steady Running of the Hour comes out on April 15th, LMK if you order a copy!

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of The Steady Running of the Hour from Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis and photo from the Simon & Schuster website

Children of the Jacaranda Tree [Book Review]

Book Reviews

In January I was sent an ARC from Simon & Schuster of Sahar Delijani’s debut novel Children of the Jacaranda Tree. 


Neda is born in Evin Prison, where her mother is allowed to nurse her for a few months before the arms of a guard appear at the cell door one day and, simply, take her away. Omid, at age three, witnesses the arrests of his political activist parents from his perch at their kitchen table, yogurt dripping from his fingertips. More than twenty years after the violent, bloody purge that took place inside Tehran’s prisons, Sheida learns that her father was one of those executed, that the silent void firmly planted between her and her mother all these years was not just the sad loss that comes with death, but the anguish and the horror of murder.

Neda, Omid, and Sheida are just three of the many unforgettable characters in Sahar Delijani’s startling debut novel, Children of the Jacaranda Tree. Set in post-revolutionary Iran, from 1983 to 2011, it follows a group of mothers, fathers, children, and lovers, some connected by family, others brought together by the tide of history that forces its way into their lives. Finally, years later, it is the next generation that is left with the burden of the past and their country’s tenuous future as a new wave of protest and political strife begins.

I have to start by saying that I am thoroughly looking forward to any other book penned by Sahar Delijani. Her writing is clean, delicious, and addictive — she takes you to a place filled with turmoil and pain and showers you with an immense amount of love. The characters are real, complex, and so full of emotion that I was sad to let them go.

There are so many lessons to learn from this book, so many times I wondered how people actually go through such horrific events and stay brave. There were so many times my heart ached and wondered if I would ever be brave enough to fight for my beliefs. There were so many times I felt thankful for not having to go through what the characters in the novel did. The thing about novels revolving around historical events is that the reality hits you smack in the face, punches you right in the gut, leaves you a little winded and breathless, Children of the Jacaranda Tree did that and so much more.

I’m a little sad that I can’t share any quotes from the book with you but I urge you to pick up a copy of this book and get lost in the great writing, the wonderful characters, and the beautiful sentiment behind the story.

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

** The synopsis is from the Simon & Schuster website **  ** The title of this post is an indirect quote from page 113 of the novel **