Top 5 Books That Changed My Life

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Since finishing The Book Thief last winter, I’ve struggled to find a book that gave me the same feeling of wholeness. The other morning I reflected on that feeling and thought back to the books that marked a special place in my heart. I want to share that list with you, and hopefully these titles can give you the same happiness I had when I read them!

book thiefThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak

This book struck such a chord with me that I have never found the words to review it. For me, it’s perfect. I can’t believe there was once a time where I picked it up in the bookstore, read the first page and thought, “Nah, this isn’t for me.” I suppose certain books find me at the right time in my life, and this is one of them.

Read it in the winter. Especially if you live somewhere where it gets cold and grey–this story really encapsulates that atmosphere. A sad story, yes, but one full of hope and promise that I couldn’t help walking away from it feeling glad and inspired.

 

moth diariesThe Moth Diaries by Rachel Klein

This book was an important part of growing up and branching out in terms of my reading selections. It’s a very dark story, and one that I wouldn’t introduce to someone at too young an age (I was 13 when I read it), but it taught me important lessons about sex, consent, mental illness, and LGBT+ relationships. I was engrossed with this book when I read it, despite how disturbing it could be, and I will always remember being sucked into these pages like falling through the door to Narnia.

 

 

 

bamboozledBamboozled by David Legge

It was while my grandparents read us Bamboozled that I fell in love with storytelling and the wild adventures that fiction can take us on. If you’ve never read it, or have kids of your own, I highly recommend adding it to your collection.

 

 

mockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The first classic I ever read, in the eighth grade I didn’t understand a lot of what was being said in this story about race but I identified with Scout and Jem’s adventures, their fear of their neighbour Boo Radley, and the admiration they had for their father. I was enraptured by the legal issues woven throughout the story despite not quite understanding them and remember the duration of reading as yet another time when I was oblivious to the world around me and instead existed in a haze of To Kill a Mockingbird‘s words.

 

 

 

rose for the crownA Rose for the Crown by Anne Easter Smith

This book was, by far, one of the biggest literary undertakings I’ve ever faced. There are no chapters–instead the reader faces straight prose for 700 pages. But that prose! I was in love with this book in the way you fall in love and get lost in a painting or sunset. In changed my opinion on King Richard III and inspired me to get a B.A. in history.

I have since tried to read more by this author, but all of her prose is the same lengthy endeavour and I haven’t had the time necessary to commit to her stories properly. If you do, though, I’m telling you that it is so worth it!

 

 

What books changed your life? Tell me in the comments below! 🙂

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THE HOUSE BETWEEN TIDES by Sarah Maine

house between

3 out of 5

In Sarah Maine’s The House Between Tides, a deceased painter’s Scottish summer house is inherited by Hetty. Her attention is immediately brought to the bones discovered under the centuries-old manor, and the story of the manor’s previous owners is slowly woven together. Theo Blake and his young wife Beatrice had a happy start, but their relationship soon grew troubled as the house and its memories haunted the artist. What happened that led to the body under the floorboards?

Like Theo Blake, Maine is a painter in her own right, sucking the reader in through the picturesque Scottish landscape. Beatrice’s storyline throbs with intensity and keeps the story alive. In contrast, Hetty and company are far from fully formed characters; it is clear that Maine cared more for the characters of the past and neglected to bring the same interest and tension into the present storyline. Additionally, the plot does little to build suspense in the reader until the end. Not that the novel is boring, but rather Maine carries the reader along a horizontal path that suddenly spikes with fifty pages left to go. A slow read that would have worked better had Maine focused on the stronger storyline and done away with the other all together.

Ben & Jerry’s Book Tag

ice cream

Hey everybody! Last week I was tagged by Mosquiteo to do the “My Life in Books Tag” but I found that I had already answered those questions under a different tag name. So instead I will be doing the Ben & Jerry’s Book Tag.

1. Vanilla Caramel Fudge: Pick a light, fluffy contemporary.
Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill was an easy read and incredibly enjoyable.

meant to bevanilla caramel fudge

2. Mint Chocolate Cookie: A new release that you wish everybody would read.
Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman is fairly new (review here). I was lucky enough to read the ARC in the summertime and absolutely adored the complexity of the interwoven fictional and factual plot lines.
legacy of kingsmint choco cookie

3. Karamel Sutra Core: A final book in a series that you were completely satisfied with.
Is it terribly cliché of me to say Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling?
hp deathlykaramel

4. Cherry Garcia: An ending that was bittersweet.
Definitely Of Things Gone Astray by Janina Matthewson (review to come). Not everything wrapped up in the way I would have wanted, but I was still strangely satisfied with the storyline in the end.
of things gone astraycherry garcia

5. Strawberry Shortcake: A book containing your OTP of OTPs.
I don’t want to include any spoilers, but I will just say The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson (review here).
the shadow cabinetstrawberry

6. Milk and Cookies: The ideal author collaboration.
A really unique and interesting one for me would be Jennifer Worth (who wrote the Call the Midwife memoirs) and Janina Matthewson. Unfortunately Jennifer Worth has passed away, but it would have been really interesting to say the stories that would unfold from these two.
call the midwife 1of things gone astraymilk and cookies

7. Boston Cream Pie: A book that had you turning the pages late into the night.
Definitely The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (review here). I still miss reading that book.
the goblin emperorboston cream pie

8. Chocolate Therapy: A book that makes you feel better after a long day.
Once again, Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth (review here). My boyfriend caught me reading it with a huge grin plastered on my face at least twice a day and didn’t understand how a single book could make me so blissfully happy.
call the midwife 1choco ther

9. Coffee, Coffee, BuzzBuzzBuzz!: A book not yet released that you can’t wait to get your hands on.
I will have to go with Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan for two reasons: 1. She is an excellent storyteller and 2. I hear it’s a retelling of A Tale of Two Cities, and I am interested to see what she does with it.
tell the windcoffee coffee

I tag:

RatherTooFondofBooks

Books and Lesser Evils

Mosquiteo

And P.S.: I’m lactose intolerant.

Enjoy!

-Ember Book Reviews

CALL THE MIDWIFE: A MEMOIR OF BIRTH, JOY, AND HARD TIMES by Jennifer Worth

call the midwife 1

5 out of 5

Jennifer Worth describes what it was like working as a young midwife in late 1950s East London following the devastation of WWII. Her tale is riveting, shocking, admirable, and—most of all—will leave you begging for more.

Fantastic. Nobody can ask for more in a memoir. Worth’s tale of herself as young Jenny Lee had me wishing I could swap places with her. Her descriptions of the squalor of East London will at times make one flinch, but her story is truly remarkable.

As she is praised on the inside sleeve of the memoir, Worth is a true story-teller in every sense of the phrase; she transports you to a place and time so distinct in imagery and emotion that it is almost as if you are sitting on the carpet before her, with a fire crackling gently in the background, while she tells the grandkids about the good ‘ol days as a midwife.

When you buy it (because you absolutely should), make sure to check out her appendix of Cockney speech at the end—we speak in much the same way today!

-Ember Book Reviews

Check out this book on Goodreads.

Book Love: Bookish Coasters

Today I was playing around with the idea of bookish drinks. You know, coming up with mixed drinks inspired by your favourite novels, characters, etc. (more on that in a later post, I promise). I went on Etsy, which is where I found the wonderful From the Page, and came across a variety of book-inspired drink coasters that I just had to share with you guys.

I will be including links to the business sites on Etsy so you can browse around and buy them if you want (which I recommend!). Let me know how much you love these and which ones are your favourites!
Shop: Neurons Not Included
Jane Austen Book Coasters: $30.72 CAN
jane austen coasters

Shop: Kelly’s Magnets
Generic Book Lovers’ Coasters: $10.92 CAN
book lovers

Shop: Oh Gaud
Harry Potter Coasters w/ Chapter Illustrations: $27.30+ CAN
harry potter coasters

Happy Reading!
-Ember Book Reviews

The ROYGBIV Book Tag

Hello book lovers! Because I could not find a book tag that interested me on the web, I’m creating my own. It’s called the ROYGBIV Book Tag and is all about covers and colours! It’s super simple, but I’m really busy right now so it’s perfect. For this tag, I went ahead and included both books I’ve read as well as books on my TBR (which is upwards of seventy books). Enjoy!

R – A book cover that has a lot of red.
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh. I reviewed this book here and I really hope it wins the Goodreads Choice Awards!

wrath and dawn

O – A book cover that has a lot of orange.
Masked Hearts by Evelyn Aster. I added this to my TBR yesterday and am really excited to start it!

masked hearts

Y – A book cover that has a lot of yellow.
I actually don’t like the colour yellow so I tend to avoid all things yellow. However, I did just add a very yellow-coloured book cover to my TBR this week, and that is The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald.

readers of broken wheel

G – A book cover that has a lot of green.
This book cover has green accents rather than a lot of green, but I think it’s really pretty and the green really makes the cover pop. This is on my TBR: Delicious! By Ruth Reichi.

delicious!

B – A book cover that has a lot of blue.
I feel like blue is a very popular book cover colour and so I had a hard time choosing. I’ll choose another book off my TBR and go with The Christmas Train by David Baldacci.

the christmas train

I – A book cover that has a lot of indigo.
Indigo is sort of like blue, so I will instead choose a book that I have on order that had indigo accents, and that is Orphan #8 by Kim van Alkemade.

orphan 8

V – A book cover that has a lot of violet.
Meet Me at the Cupcake Café by Jenny Colgan. This book is on my TBR but I’m a bit hesitant because I tried reading her book, The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris, and I couldn’t finish it. I found it to be slow. Hopefully this book is not the same.

cupcake cafe

So that was the ROYGBIV Book Tag! It was very simple, I know, but I’m a university student with a lot of deadlines this month.

On another note, I watched The Book Thief last night and absolutely loved it. It kind of makes me want to read the book, but I know a lot of people didn’t like the book…thoughts?

I tag:

Jess @ Princessica of Books

Janey @ 1-800 Books

Aubrey Joy @ Pointe Taken

Klinta @ Book Owly

And you all!

-Ember Book Reviews

THE MINIATURIST by Jessie Burton

the miniaturist

3.5 out of 5

Eighteen-year-old Nella has just recently become the wife of renowned Amsterdam merchant Johannes Brandt. Arriving in Amsterdam on a brisk autumn day in 1686, Nella is eager to start their new lives together and impress her family back home with what she has gained. However, with a less than cold reception from her sister-in-law and an absentee husband, Nella begins to fear that she will have nothing to show for such an advantageous marriage.

Eager to win Johannes’ love and entice him into their marriage bed for the first time, Nella surprises him at his offices. What she finds there shocks her and shakes her to her core. In one moment Nella’s entire world comes crashing down, and the Brandts’ with it. What Nella had thought had been an advantageous marriage for her was an advantageous marriage for everybody else as well, from the servants of the Brandt household to Johannes himself. With the pieces of their lives coming apart at the seams, Nella must quickly learn the duties of a merchant’s wife and support her new family, even if they do not feel much like family at all.

I picked this book up from the library because it was getting a lot of hype online. With positive expectations set, the reading experience was slightly underwhelming but The Miniaturist still served as enjoyable for a light, quick read. The writing was very elegant and smooth, and it was not a difficult read by any standard, which is sometimes (and was, in this case) a good thing.

That being said, I enjoyed the characters but felt as if a lot of the relationship development between Nella and Johannes was happening behind closed doors. They spend hardly any time together at all but suddenly Nella becomes very fond of him. That seemed slightly unrealistic to me. I was also able to figure out the entire plot fairly quickly, which added to the underwhelming feeling and lack of surprise as events unfolded. I found it difficult to become invested in the fates of certain characters, such as Johannes or Toot, because they were not in the book all that much, and Marin, because she is cast in such a dislikable light for most of the novel. Finally, I was let down with how the book wrapped up, and the fact that the miniaturist is largely forgotten. Yes, we discover who they are through another character, but at one point it was suggested that there was someone hiding out in their house (there was a reference to someone hiding in the shadows) but this is never resolved. It felt like a missed opportunity for added depth to the novel.

As I said, this book was enjoyable for something to read before going to bed where I did not have to think all that much. If you are interested in reading it, I would suggest renting it from your local library, just in case you are disappointed.

-Ember Book Reviews

Check out this book on Goodreads.