A Dog’s Way Home Book Review

The Kindle edition on my iPad.

NOTE: I’m part of the Amazon affiliate program, and the Amazon links in this post are affiliate links. You can click on the link and purchase the item listed to support this blog at no additional cost to you—I make a (very small) commission from any purchase made. Thanks!

I didn’t think it was possible, but I actually love this book more than A Dog’s Purpose.

A Dog’s Way Home is a heartwarming tale about a rescue dog named Bella trying to find her way back to her person. The basic premise is more grounded and simple compared to A Dog’s Purpose, but it ends up becoming more meaningful and it leaves a tender place in your heart.

In this novel, there’s only one dog with one singular purpose—as readers, we fall in love with Bella (easily one of the sweetest dogs in the world) and connect with her on her journey. W. Bruce Cameron does a brilliant job of weaving in different themes and plot elements without feeling forced. Bella encounters people among many different walks of life, and they all feel like real people—not symbols of a bigger issue or plot devices. These are the people who help Bella along in her journey and as Bella says, if she hadn’t found these people, she wouldn’t have been able to find her way home.

From the beginning of the novel, Cameron makes it clear that Bella is a smart, sweet dog. These are the traits that help her succeed throughout the book. She spends two years travelling across Colorado doing Go Home—deep within her soul is a burning desire to be a good dog with her person. As much as we don’t want to ever be separated from our canine best friends, I think we all hope to be good enough people to our dogs that they would climb mountains to find us again.

Cameron’s storytelling abilities are much stronger in this book compared to A Dog’s Purpose—he seamlessly weaves the different themes and characters together, and even though we don’t get much time with people who aren’t Lucas, Olivia, or Mom, we feel like we get to know them. And any hardships they face feel all the more poignant when we see them through Bella’s soulful eyes.

This novel is a beautiful, nuanced tale—everything works together effortlessly to tell a sweet and emotional story about the bond between dog and human. Dogs need people, and Bella needs her Lucas.

As much as I love both books, A Dog’s Way Home holds my heart just a little bit more. Bella’s journey, her singular purpose in her life, gives me hope and a little bit of joy in a time when things feel unstable. If you love dogs or want to understand why people love them so much, I highly recommend this book.

Make ‘Em Laugh Book Review

God, I love Debbie Reynolds. She has the status of a legend with the spirit of a fan, which makes this book a hugely enjoyable read.

In her final memoir, Debbie focuses the majority of the book telling amazing stories about her famous friends and her life in Hollywood. In between stories about Bob Hope and Groucho Marx, she would talk about her many talk show appearances and the delightful gowns she wore. While she mostly had fun anecdotes and praise for celebrities, there were a few dishy stories about the people she didn’t like—and those were just as delightful to read.

But the book wasn’t only about her famous friends—she wrote several eloquent pages about her dear friends and assistants, Donald and Jenny. Debbie really had a huge heart and a deep love for everyone around her. You can see that through the loyalty she inspired in her friends and fans.

I mainly read this book through the Kindle ebook and the audiobook, read by Judith Ivey. Make Em Laugh was incredibly well-written—I could hear Debbie’s voice through the pages as I read. However, I have mixed feelings on the audiobook.

I first listened to Judith Ivey read The Year of Magical Thinking, and I thought she had the perfect voice for Joan Didion’s work. Maybe it’s because I’m so familiar with Debbie as a person and performer (she recorded the audiobooks for her two previous memoirs), but I felt Judith’s voice didn’t really capture Debbie’s spirit. I was still able to engage with the stories, but I basically replaced Judith’s voice with Debbie’s in my mind. That being said, Judith really nailed the different accents and impressions throughout the book.

Overall, I really loved both reading and listening to this book. If you love Debbie Reynolds or Old Hollywood, this really is a necessary read. Debbie captures her favourite stars as real people—not just names in neon lights.

The Dogs of Christmas Book Review

NOTE: I’m part of the Amazon affiliate program, and the Amazon links in this post are affiliate links. You can click on the link and purchase the item listed to support this blog at no additional cost to you—I make a (very small) commission from any purchase made. Thanks!

Around this time of year, there are two things I absolutely love: Christmas and dogs. And this novel promised to deliver on both.

Did it succeed? Well, yes and no.

This book is essentially a Hallmark Christmas movie in a novel. But not one of the newer movies that tend to be a bit more nuanced—one of the older ones that can be a little too contrived and cheesy for its own good.

For me, the highlight of the story was the journey between Josh and the dogs. The book isn’t that long, but we get to see Josh heal and change for the better as he cares for Lucy and the puppies. Together, the dogs and the human take care of each other, and they develop a strong bond that can only exist between dogs and their people.

As for the romance, I feel torn. I love Kerri as a character and I think she and Josh are a great couple, but I think the story would have been stronger if it was focused more on the relationships between Josh and the dogs. The romance felt unnecessary and the two main characters acted certifiably insane at some points—Josh more so than Kerri, although her overreactions during her first phone call with Josh almost made me put the book down.

When Josh revealed that his ex-girlfriend Amanda was not actually dead, I was pretty shocked. He never implied she was dead, but the man still kept her photos up like his home was a shrine to her former life. I mean, I assumed she was dead too—instead he’s just a crazy dude who has a strange obsession with an ex-girlfriend.

And while I’m on the topic of Josh, why does he act like a toddler when it comes to letting his dogs go. When he found out Lucy was actually stolen from Serena, why was his first instinct to just keep the dog? He is an adult human male, right? I understand feeling sad and upset, but being a child about it just made me actively dislike him until he did the right thing and called Serena. As much as I enjoyed the book, that was just ridiculous.

The best-written parts were the interactions between Josh and the dogs—that’s where W. Bruce Cameron shines as a writer. Those parts were sweet and real without being too cheesy—exactly why I loved A Dog’s Purpose. If he focused more on Josh and the dogs and put Kerri and Josh on the back burner, it would have been a more satisfying read.

That being said, I still really enjoyed reading this Christmas book. It had a heartwarming story about dogs and their people finding each other—what more could you want on a snowy day in December?

A Dog’s Purpose Book Review

The paperback edition.

NOTE: I’m part of the Amazon affiliate program, and the Amazon links in this post are affiliate links. You can click on the link and purchase the item listed to support this blog at no additional cost to you—I make a (very small) commission from any purchase made. Thanks!

I am admittedly a huge dog person. Ever since my mom and stepdad got our Wheaten Terrier, Shelby (and later, our other Wheaten Terrier, Charlotte), I’ve loved them unconditionally and I gained a soft spot for all dogs. You can just ask my growing stuffed dog collection living on my bed.

So naturally, a novel about a dog written in the way humans think about dogs was right up my alley.

This book was life-changing for me. Reading about how a dog can have a greater purpose in life and how a dog can live through many lives to come back and help his people made me both laugh and cry.

Lately, Shelby’s been going through some health troubles. She’s doing alright now, but for a few months, we had no idea which way things would go.

Reading A Dog’s Purpose made me feel so much better as I went through all of this. It’s a strangely comforting thought, the idea of a dog being reborn and remembering their previous life. They take the lessons they learned from their different lives and through this, they live out their great purpose.

For Bailey, it was to save people—especially his boy Ethan. 

And the best part about all of this is it was equal parts funny and heartwarming. There were some sad moments, but it all worked out in a way that was sweet but wasn’t too sentimental.

I can’t wait to read more books by W. Bruce Cameron. A Dog’s Purpose gave me a lot to think about, especially with my own Wheaties.

One Day in December Review

The Kindle edition on my iPad.

NOTE: I’m part of the Amazon affiliate program, and the Amazon links in this post are affiliate links. You can click on the link and purchase the item listed to support this blog at no additional cost to you—I make a (very small) commission from any purchase made. Thanks!

I think I’ve found it—I think I’ve found the literary equivalent of a classic Christmas story.

We’ve moved on from the trashterpiece that was The Doctor’s Christmas Proposal. This is now my favourite Christmas book, and I’ll definitely be reading it every Christmas from now on—much like I rewatch movies like Elf, Love Actually, and It’s a Wonderful Life.

I jumped on the One Day in December bandwagon when I saw Reese Witherspoon tweet about it as her December book club pick. A Christmas romantic comedy book endorsed by Elle Woods herself? Sign me up!

And thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed.

This novel is really the perfect combination of a quintessential British romantic comedy, a Hallmark Christmas movie, and reality. It blends just enough of each genre to be exactly what you’d want in a Christmas read. It’s not too sweet, it’s not to stupid—It’s all somehow just right.

The book follows Jack and Laurie through ten years of their lives, with major moments happening around the Christmas season—starting with a fateful encounter on a London bus. I was hooked from the very first meeting, unable to stop reading or listening for three days.

A big part of the reason why I love this book is the writing. Josie Silver creates two very different characters with their own distinct personalities. It’s easy to just write in one voice and slap “Jack” and “Laurie” over each section, but Josie has managed to give each of the main characters their own minds and their own opinions.

The story is just as strong as the writing. I have to apologize to all the people who had to share a bus with me as I listened to the book—all the faces and noises I made must have made me look insane. The major parts I expected did happen—this is not a love story where the main characters end up with other people forever—but the way it happened was so different from what I was expecting, and those twists only strengthened the story and kept me invested.

I guess the major question you want answered is: is One Day in December overhyped? And the truth is, it is and it isn’t. If you don’t like Christmas romantic comedies or love stories, this is not the book for you. It’s not revolutionary or a literary game changer. 

It’s a really well-done Christmas love story—if you’re glued to the Hallmark channel during the holidays and keep replaying Love Actually on Netflix, this is the book for you. As someone who’s constantly Christmas-obsessed, it was right up my alley.

If you need a little extra sparkle this holiday season, pick up this novel or borrow it from your library—if you can get your hands on a copy.

The Doctor’s Christmas Proposal Review

The Kindle edition on my iPad.

NOTE: I’m part of the Amazon affiliate program, and the Amazon links in this post are affiliate links. You can click on the link and purchase the item listed to support this blog at no additional cost to you—I make a (very small) commission from any purchase made. Thanks!

Where do I even begin with this book?

I have a word for books, shows, or movies that are so bad, they’re beautiful in their own horrible way: a trashterpiece. This book, my friends, is the Christmas chick lit equivalent of a trashterpiece.

It was, from beginning to end, a complete mess.

The basic premise is Mia and Wyatt are best friends who’ve always had an attraction to each other, but they’ve been dating other people. Wyatt meets a woman named Loretta (who is allegedly a woman under 60 in 2016, the year the book was published) and quickly becomes engaged to her after she tells him she’s pregnant with his child.

But it turns out she lied to him! (I’d say take a shot every time Loretta’s described as a “stone-cold bitch,” but you’d have alcohol poisoning halfway through) She was pregnant with another man’s baby all along and played him for a fool!

So Wyatt goes to Mia for comfort and they make love. But that night, Mia became pregnant and the very day she was going to tell him, Wyatt tells her he’s moving to his family ranch in Montana.

Later on, Mia decides to fly to the ranch to tell him in person but she miscarries. Since then, she’s kept the baby news to herself, not thinking Wyatt would believe her and not wanting to trap him.

But around Christmas time, two of Wyatt’s brothers are getting married and having a baby and naturally he’s triggered. So he calls Mia and begs her to be by his side. He realizes he’s in love with her and wants to be with her.

The rest of the book is basically the story of how they end up together in the end. Except it’s not just that.

Story aside, the writing is very clunky and overall laugh-out-loud bad. It’s almost like the author just learned how to swear and simultaneously kept remembering she was allowed to swear in the book. There ends up being random swear words thrown in like chunks of salt, and it doesn’t work with the rest of the writing.

As well, the author seems to be cramming as many soap opera twists as humanly possible. Aside from the main story about Wyatt and Mia, there’s a murder-suicide, an alcoholic absent father, a prince, and a missing sister, among other things.

When you have a book that’s only 200 pages long, you don’t have that much time to tell your story. You can hit your emotional beats in a much more efficient way that doesn’t overpower the main plot line. As a result, when you try to cram in too many crazy twists, everything becomes more dull and you forget the main story.

The core love storyline may have worked, but it needs a major overhaul before it can be a truly satisfying read.

Here’s my final take–I may be linking to this book on Amazon, but I don’t think you should read it this holiday season.

October Kiss Book Review

The Kindle edition on my Kindle Fire.

NOTE: I’m part of the Amazon affiliate program, and the Amazon links in this post are affiliate links. You can click on the link and purchase the item listed to support this blog at no additional cost to you—I make a (very small) commission from any purchase made. Thanks!

I have to admit it—I’m a total sucker for Hallmark movies. No matter what time of year it is (and Hallmark truly has movies for every single season), they’re my favourite guilty pleasure. They give me permission to stop stressing about the world and real life and just relax.

So when Hallmark started adapting a few of their movies into novelizations, I was all in.

October Kiss is probably my favourite of Hallmark’s fall movies. Ashley Williams and Sam Jaeger make a delightful pair with excellent chemistry, and the storyline couldn’t be more adorable. I picked up the novel, hoping it would be more of the same.

Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed.

Don’t get me wrong, the book follows the movie pretty similarly, right down to the exact lines and some of the actors’ gestures. There were even a few added scenes and moments that enhanced the story and the main characters’ budding relationship.

But on the whole, I felt like the novelization lacked the charm of the original film. I’ve definitely read some great novelizations (Witness comes to mind), and I think the secret to a novelization’s success is being able to take the same story and have the book stand on its own feet.

The Witness novelization was a success for me because it took the storyline from the movie and enhanced it, giving it new life and giving fans more to enjoy from the story they already love. With the October Kiss novelization, it honestly felt like I was watching a lesser version of the movie. The book lacked its own charm—or any charm, really.

All that being said, I still enjoyed the time I spent reading it. I was just happy the book was only 158 pages and 10 chapters long.

Star Wars: Forces of Destiny Graphic Novel Review

The Kindle edition on my iPad

NOTE: I’m part of the Amazon affiliate program, and the Amazon links in this post are affiliate links. You can click on the link and purchase the item listed to support this blog at no additional cost to you—I make a (very small) commission from any purchase made. Thanks!

I’ve been a huge fan of the Forces of Destiny line since its inception—I love the idea of young kids reading about the women who helped shape the Star Wars galaxy. To quote the theme song of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, “females are strong as hell.”

When I saw this graphic novel on Amazon for a good price, I knew I had to snatch it up.

The different stories to a great job of capturing the essences of the different characters while putting them through challenging (if somewhat watered-down) situations. I didn’t realize it was targeted for a younger audience when I bought it—the less-complex storylines were slightly disappointing for me.

I think I would have enjoyed the plot lines more if I knew going into the novel that it was targeted for younger audiences. As I read through the different stories, I was entertained but I also felt a little let down. I had expected something a little more adult that showed these nuanced women navigating their ambitions and duties while also dealing with their own personal lives. While I did get that to some extent, it wasn’t exactly what I was hoping it would be.

That being said, I still really enjoyed all the stories. I felt the characters were really in character, and I loved how the stories showed women being strong while also having vulnerabilities and insecurities. 

In other words, it showed women being real, layered people. And that’s a message I fully support young kids learning through these stories.

My Girls Book Review

IMG_7653

NOTE: I’m part of the Amazon affiliate program, and the Amazon links in this post are affiliate links. You can click on the link and purchase the item listed to support this blog at no additional cost to you—I make a (very small) commission from any purchase made. Thanks!

This was, without a doubt, one of the hardest books I’ve ever read. Not because of the writing or anything like that, but because of the content—particularly the last 30 pages.

I pre-ordered this book as soon as I heard it was being released. I’ve always liked Todd Fisher and he’s shown his true character in the months since Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds passed away. I knew he’d write a thorough, honest account of his life with “his girls.”

Yet the thing that surprised me the most about this book was how much Todd wrote about his own life. This isn’t a sleazy tell-all book about Debbie and Carrie. It’s a love letter to them—his life has revolved around his mother and sister since the day he was born. Make no mistake, this book is his life story—Carrie and Debbie were just a huge, massive part of his life.

This memoir is filled with 400 pages of memories, big and small. You really get a sense of who these two amazing women were—the good, the bad, and the ugly. He didn’t hold anything back, and always wrote from a place of love.

Much to my relief, the final 30 pages outlining Carrie’s and Debbie’s deaths were handled with respect and dignity. He was honest about what happened, but never gave any unnecessary, overly-private details. Even when he said that Billie Lourd, Carrie’s daughter, made the final decision, he wrote about her bravery and her love for her mother—the ability to make that impossible decision shows just how much she loves her mother.

Overall, I’m glad I read this book—truly. I may not read the last 30 pages again anytime soon—or ever—but during the hard times, I can take comfort from Todd’s beautiful memories of his girls.

Unnaturally Green Book Review

IMG_7648

NOTE: I’m part of the Amazon affiliate program, and the Amazon links in this post are affiliate links. You can click on the link and purchase the item listed to support this blog at no additional cost to you—I make a (very small) commission from any purchase made. Thanks!

I’ve been a huge fan of Wicked ever since I birthed my inner musical theatre lover when I was around 12 years old. I’d listen to the original Broadway cast recording on my old iPod to and from school, and I quickly memorized every note, every inflection, every lyric from the beautiful score.

In fact, I recently saw the touring production of Wicked when it came to Toronto in July. Mary Kate Morrissey, Ginna Claire Mason, and the rest of the company put on an incredible show—I got to appreciate the show in a whole new way, and my mother didn’t fall asleep in the middle of the show! (She fell asleep during Chicago. Twice. I know, how did I even come from her??)

With all this background, I knew how tough it was to perform the role of Elphaba at all, let alone eight shows a week. Yet I never really understood what it was like to put yourself through that kind of special hell.

That is, until I read Unnaturally Green by Felicia Ricci.

I was browsing the BroadwayWorld forums the other day and saw a poster mention that a former Elphaba standby wrote a memoir about her experiences. So I hopped onto Amazon, purchased the ebook, and began to read immediately.

The world of a standby has always intrigued me—do they just sit backstage all green and costumed every night just in case they’re called on mid-show? I mean, it does seem like a waste of green paint . . .

Felicia detailed her entire Wicked journey, from her first audition as an ensemble member/understudy to the San Francisco company’s closing performance several months later. She gave an inside look at how Wicked functions as a worldwide phenomenon, and how it operated at the company level. Ever wanted a backstage tour of a Wicked theatre? She gave you a hilarious one in this book.

But this memoir wasn’t just a fascinating look at the life of an Elphaba standby—it was a deeply personal look at the post-grad existence, something I know all too well.

Just like Felicia didn’t know what she was going to do post-grad (and post-Wicked), I had no idea what I was gonna do after school. I knew I didn’t want to be a beat reporter like so many of my friends were—I love journalism, but traditional reporting just wasn’t for me.

But now—also like Felicia—I’m carving out an amazing career while still doing a lot of what I learned in journalism school. It may not be traditional, but it works for me and I’m happy. And really, that’s all that matters.

Felicia’s memoir gives you an inside look in one of the biggest musical phenomena to hit Broadway, and it gives you a lot of life lessons along the way. Any theatre lover or post-grad will get something out of this.