Outrun: Reconstructing Amelia Review

“But some things you can’t outrun, no matter how fast you move your legs.”

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberley McCreight looks at the events after a young woman’s suicide by jumping off the roof of the private school she attends. It follows her mother’s actions after the event itself, and traces Amelia’s life in the months and weeks leading up to that fateful day. What led her to the roof? Why did she die?

I have no idea how Reconstructing Amelia ended up on my reading list. It has been there for quite some time now, and since I am attempting to really go through the ones that have been on the list for the longest, I decided to read it. But how long it’s been on there or why it ended up there really isn’t what this post is about.

Reconstructing Amelia is a unique take on look at the before and after of a tragic event. It mixes traditional storytelling with Facebook posts, text messages, and blog posts, something I think could have gone terribly wrong, but actually works very well in this instance. I think perhaps this is because of the setting—you know high school students are all involved in social media and texting their friends, so why not use that in a novel focused around them? I think the switches in formats also helped maintain my attention throughout, largely because of the fact I haven’t read a book written quite like this. It also helped with pacing, given that you would learn something significant from one portion of the story just before it switches on you, which means you are kept on the hook for even longer!

I think the format lends itself well to the story, because I was only able to put together what happened just before or really during the reveal itself. I had many theories before that point of course, but once I was absolutely sure of something it seemed like not too long after I decided I was sure, there would be new information and I would have another theory. This is something I love. Make me think I know what is happening and then pull the rug out from under me in the next few pages.

Although there is a lot I enjoyed about Reconstructing Amelia, the book still has some flaws. One of the most significant in my mind is how it is unbelievable that a cop would take Amelia’s mother around when questioning people about her daughter’s death. No cop would ever allow that! None of that rings true for me, so I did have a hard time trying to suspend my belief while reading to enjoy the story thoroughly.

The other issue is much smaller than the disbelief surrounding the cop and Amelia’s mother, is that there are a few loose ends surrounding one particular character in the book. I don’t want to say their name because it would probably spoil a bit, but let’s say they are closely connected to Amelia’s story, and I think it is a significant disappointment that we do not see much tied up with them in the end, as we do with others.

I think Reconstructing Amelia is worth the read if you are able to suspend your disbelief as I was trying to do while reading. If you are able to do that, I think you will definitely enjoy the read, especially if you are a fan of books with a little mystery thrown in there. If you do decide to read it, let me know what you think! Share the theories you came up with while reading in the comments.


Title: Reconstructing Amelia

Author: Kimberly McCreight

Publisher: HarperCollins


Starting Up: Sophia Of Silicon Valley Review (ARC)

“Scott’s words ignited a ball of fire in my stomach. I’ll show you.”

I was lucky enough to receive an advance reading copy of Sophia of Silicon Valley by Anna Yen courtesy of HarperCollins Canada in exchange for an honest review. So here we are! For those who do not know, Sophia of Silicon Valley focuses on Sophia’s journey in the start-up world in, yes, Silicon Valley, and how she makes her way through as a woman of colour amongst powerful men, balancing a serious illness, parental expectations, and her own desires, along with her work.

There are quite a few things I loved about this book. First, of course, is how the main character is a young woman, particularly as she is attempting to make her way in a seemingly male-dominated world. This I love because women are amazing and can definitely do whatever they set their minds to, just as men can, yet it seems as if we have to fight harder for it. The other thing I loved about this is how the main character was not just a woman, but also a woman of colour! I think the publishing world needs more of this. I know how I feel when I read books with a female heroine (or see movies) and feel represented with just that. I know how powerful that can be, and I think more women could use that.

I do have a particular affinity for reading fantasy, no one can take away from my favourites Lord Of The Rings and the Harry Potter series, but I think books like Sophia of Silicon Valley are a refreshing change for my tastes. Although the start-ups and some of the challenges Sophia faced were quite different from what my life looks like, I am quite familiar with the start-up business environment, so I recognized and connected to quite a lot. I think anyone who is involved in start-ups would enjoy and connect as I have to Sophia Of Silicon Valley.

However, I must mention there are flaws within this text—no story is perfect after all. I cannot reveal the ending, I have a no spoiler rule, but I felt it was too much like repeating history. I thought I would see something different at the end, but I must admit I did feel Sophia let me down. Do I give her credit for what she accomplished? For sure, but I just wish things were better. I know not everyone will feel this way, which is why Sophia of Silicon Valley is still worth the read.

The only other flaw, so to speak, I want to address is a conflicting one. I did enjoy the story as a whole and I recognized some of the plot elements in things I have seen, heard, or read about in the real business world. However, I do think there was also a lot of harshness, unfortunate comments (racist, sexist, and similar), and slight disbelief on one key component. I do think much of this rings true, aside from the key bit of disbelief, but at the same time, it did make me uncomfortable while reading and I wish it were different. It is also because of these I felt let down a little at the end and had hoped for a different outcome. I will happily share more details in the comments once this book is released if anyone wishes to hear them.

But to close, I do think Sophia of Silicon Valley is well worth the read, particularly for women in the business world. As I am not a woman colour I cannot comment on if this demographic would be worth the read more than white women, but there is representation, so it may very well be. I will leave that to you to decide. If you do choose to read this book, I’d love to hear your thoughts about it in the comments. Did you like the ending? Would you have changed anything? What is your opinion on Sophia? Scott? Peter? I want to hear it all!


Title: Sophia Of Silicon Valley

Author: Anna Yen

Publisher: HarperCollins Canada

Patient: Happinesswise Review (ARC)

“When it is yours—”

I’ll tell you again, because it bears repeating: I am not experienced with poetry. At some point, I imagine, this will stop being true. Of course, today is not that day, but even so, I am still trying to read a little bit more poetry. This is exactly why I jumped at the opportunity to read Happinesswise by Jonathan Bennett when ECW Press graciously provided me with an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review. The finished collection is due to be published in April 2018.

At the risk of sounding entirely ignorant about poetry, I think this collection has a few different styles. They are close, which made it hard to identify, but I definitely felt some differences. I actually enjoyed this, and would in any poetry collection, because at the very least if I find myself not enjoying some poems, there is a bigger chance I will enjoy others if they are a different style. This definitely applied to Happinesswise. Now, I didn’t hate any of the poems, but given I am a beginner with poetry, I do sometimes struggle to connect with poems. For instance, I still do not understand when poems can have what I see as weird formatting

It’s sort of

like this

as well as


What is the point? I haven’t figured it out quite yet, perhaps I should take a class. In any case, there are slight formatting shifts in Happinesswise I don’t quite understand, but nothing as extreme as what I just did above (for which I am grateful).

It’s still hard for me to criticize poetry, but for what it’s worth, I did enjoy reading Happinesswise. My favourite poem from this collection is Swallow The Toad Of Disgust, followed by the first three poems (they make up the Palliative Care Reflective Portfolio). I loved how the poem’s verses were split and the distinct differences in the voice, tone, et cetera in each. I don’t know if I am using the proper terminology here, so forgive me for that, but I definitely experienced a few different feelings while reading Swallow The Toad Of Disgust, which I think had something to do with how the verses played out. Scratch that, I know the way the verses played out had a lot to do with why I have latched onto this particular poem in the collection. I know part of my enjoyment of the first poem is extremely boring, it mentions my favourite drink, which is why I am glad there is a little bit more depth to Swallow The Toad Of Disgust.

Overall, I think anyone who is looking to get into poetry would not be disappointed if they chose to read Happinesswise by Jonathan Bennett. It’s an accessible poetry collection, even if you know nothing about poetry, which I think is a benefit. I can’t speak to how it holds up if you are an expert at critiquing poetry, unfortunately, but I think there are a few poems in this collection that seem quite intriguing, so I have to imagine there is something there for those who like to critique.

I do encourage you to give this collection a try. If you do, I’d love to hear your thoughts below, including which poem out of this collection is your favourite (and, of course, why).


Title: Happinesswise

Author: Jonathan Bennett

Publisher: ECW Press

Two Months In: February Resolution Check In

Once again I find myself needing to apologize, as I am writing this with little time to spare, particularly if I want to get more on my list actually accomplished. In any case, here is my February progress update for my New Year’s Resolutions. Now, you will notice some are combined, since there’s not much detail to say for all of them. So let’s get down to it.

Sleep Is Healthy, You Should Get More Of It

I’m struggling a little bit with this one. Compared to last year I am certainly getting more sleep, but overall it’s not nearly where I want it to be. Now, I cannot do very much about when I get up in the morning during the week, given I have to go to work. However, I think I need to readjust my thinking at night. I always find myself up later than I should because I want to get more stuff done. But, and I forget if I said this last month, I think maybe sleep should be higher on my priority list or I will burn out. For instance, I do not get sick very often at all, and typically when I do it only lasts for a day where it knocks me out and then after that I function quite well. But I caught a cold just before Valentine’s Day, and although it didn’t render me unable to do anything, I am only just getting rid of all the symptoms. So maybe I have been doing something wrong when it comes to taking care of myself, starting with sleep, and it’s coming across in more severe illness.

The Basics: Floss, Water, Yoga

Now, you might remember three of my resolutions were to floss every day, drink more water, and to do yoga in the morning. In terms of the yoga, I have definitely found going for shorter bursts on weekday mornings is the best decision, especially considering I am not going to purchase another bus pass. For February, I only missed a few days here and there. Some weren’t excusable, I just forgot on some weekend mornings. Others were okay, because I did get a nasty cold and just did not have much energy besides getting what I needed to out of the way.

In terms of both flossing and drinking more water, I am holding steady with my goals! Hopefully I will keep that going throughout March.

The Strugglers: Good Things, Disconnect, French

I think it would be very easy to pick up my game on all three of these ones. I could be writing down more good things, even tiny events or thoughts, but I never seem to think about doing it in the moment. It’s kind of the same thing with disconnecting and getting back into French again. I know I can do them, and that I should, but they always seem to fall to the wayside. I really do need to figure something out to help me remember these things. I need to invent something, for instance, to help me replace my online time with other things and schedule that into a day sometime soon. In terms of French, I do have it a bit better, given I do have a French novel now, but I realized it’s going to take more than just reading it as I would a book in English. Hopefully March will reveal a good plan for me.

Get Out Of My House

This one is still going a little slow, but I did find out about this lecture series (free) going on in my area, so now I will have something to do every Thursday for the entire month of March. I’m hoping I can find more stuff like this, as it is more my style than going to a club. That being said, I still want to find somewhere to go for Happy Hour occasionally. Finally, I do have a plan to get together with a friend of mine this weekend. Or, I will once I text them after I am finished writing this for the night!

On Pause: Farmer’s Market, Live Play

I think I mentioned this the last time around, but these ones are on pause for the time being, as I’ve adjusted them to look a bit more realistic. The farmer’s market hasn’t been going well considering the weather, but the last little bit has definitely warmed things up, so I’m hoping to go once in March if things continue to be warm. If not, well…I don’t know. Let’s just hope I can do this better once I lift the pause.

One the subject of going to see a live play, I am currently working on plans to see Wicked when summer hits. I haven’t picked an actual play, but Wicked sounds like it will be amazing. The only thing missing is someone to go with. I could go alone, but I’d rather avoid that if I can. So fingers crossed I get someone to go!

No New News: Read, Declutter

Unfortunately, I don’t really have anything new to add to my update from January regarding my decluttering and reading for quality resolutions. Everything is pretty much the same as it was. Didn’t make new strides in decluttering and I’m still reading as best I can for quality. I think I’ve picked my books a bit more strategically this month, although I did once again have one slightly lacklustre book.

Sorry to end on such a no news note, but it’s time to put the updates on my resolutions to bed! Not too mention I need to go to sleep. Tonight is, yet again, slightly later than I would have wanted. Still have to make my lunch for tomorrow. Until next month then!

Time Doesn’t Work: Welcome To Night Vale Review

“Fear is a reasonable response to life.”

I am not entirely sure what I just read. I think I put Welcome To Night Vale on my reading list because I had heard of a podcast with the same name, but wanted to read it instead of listening. I definitely prefer reading things rather than listening to them—it’s why I tend not to listen to audiobooks unless I have already read the book in question.

But back to the point. Welcome To Night Vale, to put it simply, is about perhaps the weirdest town you have ever heard of. That is the only way I know how to even start describing it—I don’t think I could tell you anything else without massacring the description.

I am of two minds with this book. On one hand I think it was a very refreshing change, definitely not what I am used to at all, and the other part of me wonders what I actually got out of the book. It seems to split itself between a view of the actual events in the town and the radio host telling us about stories and various pieces of news. I loved the radio host part of the book, but I really didn’t get anything out of reading about the town first hand. I think perhaps it’s best left as a podcast—I don’t think it’s a fitting story to be on paper like this. It’s disappointing, since I don’t really listen to podcasts or audiobooks (especially when I am driving, since I need my focus to be on the road).

I think part of the reason the podcast works is because, from what I understand, it is a shorter length. You get it in small, funny doses, rather than a mass all at once. If I can make a comparison, I think the podcast must be very much like The Vinyl Café with Stuart McLean, which was a radio show I would listen to just about every Sunday (and funnily enough, wrote a paper about in university). Stuart was an amazing storyteller, but I’m not sure if his stories would have the same weight in a book as on the show. I think the same thing applies here.

The writing isn’t terrible, but as mentioned I really only went for the radio host portions, which I believe is the basis of the podcast. I would probably just either write this book as the radio host sections—or just listen to the podcast instead of reading. Shocking for me to say, I know.

I would love to hear from people about the podcast. Do you listen? What is it like? Is it something I could tune in and out of? Is it literally like a radio show or is it like an audiobook? I’d love to hear about it. If you listen to the podcast and decide to read this book, which format do you think suits the story better?


Title: Welcome To Night Vale

Author: Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

Publisher: Harper Perennial