Review// The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose

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Author: Heather Rose
Series: Standalone
Genre: Fiction
Release Date: September 1, 2016
Book Length: 296 pages 
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Review: 1/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

A mesmerising literary novel about a lost man in search of connection – a meditation on love, art and commitment, set against the backdrop of one of the greatest art events in modern history, Marina Abramovic’s The Artist is Present.

She watched as the final hours of The Artist is Present passed by, sitter after sitter in a gaze with the woman across the table. Jane felt she had witnessed a thing of inexplicable beauty among humans who had been drawn to this art and had found the reflection of a great mystery. What are we? How should we live?

If this was a dream, then he wanted to know when it would end. Maybe it would end if he went to see Lydia. But it was the one thing he was not allowed to do.

Arky Levin is a film composer in New York separated from his wife, who has asked him to keep one devastating promise. One day he finds his way to The Atrium at MOMA and sees Marina Abramovic in The Artist is Present. The performance continues for seventy-five days and, as it unfolds, so does Arky. As he watches and meets other people drawn to the exhibit, he slowly starts to understand what might be missing in his life and what he must do.

This dazzlingly original novel asks beguiling questions about the nature of art, life and love and finds a way to answer them.

My Review:

I feel guilty for not having felt the way the majority of reviewers did about this. I thought I would enjoy it because art and history are two of my favourite things to learn about and this incorporated both, but I just couldn’t get into the story. This was somewhere between a 1 and 2, but if it wasn’t for book club, I would have ‘DNF’d’ it before it got slightly more enjoyable, so I think a 1 is more appropriate.

Despite giving it a 1, I think the idea behind the book was interesting. Marina Abramovic, the artist in the book, was an actual performance artist who performed a piece called The Artist is Present, where she sat for 75 days straight across from various visitors to the MoMa for a few minutes at a time. In the book, the visitors would basically see these visions of their lovers as they sat across from and stared into Marina’s eyes – some getting very emotional. If you search The Artist is Present on YouTube, you will see real footage of people having sat across from her during the exhibition, and I think it’s cool that this whole thing happened in real life and was made into a book including some real and some fictional events. I also liked the storyline with Levin the most; his chapters were the ones I was most engrossed in because I wanted to know what would happen between him and his wife.

Even though the idea was interesting, I still felt bored while reading. I know there is a documentary about this performance art piece, and something tells me I would probably like that better. Overall, I really don’t think this was necessarily bad, it just wasn’t for me. So if you think it sounds interesting, I would give it a chance because majority of people did like this more than I did.

Let’s connect! Goodreads | Twitter


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Review// I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya

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Author: Vivek Shraya
Series: Standalone
Genre: Nonfiction
Release Date: August 28, 2018
Book Length: 96 pages 
Publisher: Penguin Books Canada
Review: 4/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

A trans artist explores how masculinity was imposed on her as a boy and continues to haunt her as a girl–and how we might reimagine gender for the twenty-first century.

Vivek Shraya has reason to be afraid. Throughout her life she’s endured acts of cruelty and aggression for being too feminine as a boy and not feminine enough as a girl. In order to survive childhood, she had to learn to convincingly perform masculinity. As an adult, she makes daily compromises to steel herself against everything from verbal attacks to heartbreak.

Now, with raw honesty, Shraya delivers an important record of the cumulative damage caused by misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia, releasing trauma from a body that has always refused to assimilate. I’m Afraid of Men is a journey from camouflage to a riot of colour and a blueprint for how we might cherish all that makes us different and conquer all that makes us afraid.

My Review:

I would be lying if I said that the title didn’t have a huge influence on my intrigue in this initially, however, this book ended up giving me way more insight than I could have ever guessed. Exploring masculinity from the perspective of a trans woman through her experiences both pre and post transition, Vivek Shraya delivers a very raw take on how misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia has impacted her life.

A particularly insightful part in this for me was Shraya’s take on the ‘good man’:

In spite of my negative experiences, I’ve maintained a robust attachment to the idea of the “good man.” A common theme in my encounters and relationships is my certainty that the men I have admired were “good”, a synonym for “different from the rest.” The attachment to the promise of goodness is what left me bereft when, in various ways, I discovered that each of these men wasn’t “one of the good guys.” 

She goes on to talk about how instead of categorizing men (or anyone, really) as ‘good’, that we value specific characteristics one possesses such as communication, dependability, and the like. If we are to focus on specific characteristics as opposed to categorizing people as generally ‘good’, it not only eliminates the elevated image we’ve created of them, but unlike how being ‘good’ cancels out when one does something ‘bad’, these character attributes can coexist alongside one another.

Although I can’t speak to experiences one faces in the LGBTQ+ community, I can relate to the experiences and scenarios presented that affect women on a daily basis. What I liked about this was also that it didn’t skip past the fact that women who defend or feed into misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia are equally to blame. Overall, I thought this was very well written, and at 96 pages, the only thing I wish is that it was longer.

Let’s connect! Goodreads | Twitter


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Review// Unf*ck Yourself: Get Out of Your Head & Into Your Life by Gary John Bishop

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Author: Gary John Bishop
Series: Standalone
Genre: Self Help
Release Date: October 22, 2016
Book Length: 221 pages 
Publisher: Harper One
Review: 2.5/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Have you ever felt like a hamster on a wheel, furiously churning your way through life but somehow going nowhere? It seems like there’s a barrage of information surrounding us in our everyday lives with the keys to this thing or that thing, be it wealth, success, happiness or purpose. The truth is, most of it fails to capture what it truly takes to overcome our greatest barrier to a greater life…ourselves. What if everything you ever wanted resided in you like a well of potential, waiting to be expressed? Unfu*k Yourself is the handbook for the resigned and defeated, a manifesto for real life change and unleashing your own greatness.

My Review:

Not the worst self-help book I’ve read, but not the most memorable either. I do have to say though that Gary John Bishop was very motivating – I liked the 7 personal assertions he broke each chapter down by:

1. I am willing
2. I am wired to win
3. I got this
4. I embrace uncertainty
5. I am not my thoughts; I am what I do
6. I am relentless
7. I expect nothing and accept everything

The main idea this book presents is that you can’t just sit around waiting for life to hand you things or for you to be ‘ready’ to face certain challenges that come with making positive changes. Although the message is a good one, the manner in which the author conveys it does come off as a little bit aggressive at times, and I could see how one could be turned off by that. Usually with these types of books, there is an ‘aha moment’ for me, and even though some of his insight was important and something I needed to hear, I just didn’t feel that. For this reason, I have given it a 2 on Goodreads, however, if I really think about it, it was probably closer to a 3 as I did enjoy it for the most part – I just didn’t feel as strongly about it as I would have liked.

Don’t let your mind control you any longer. Stop letting it hold you back with its excuses and distractions and worries. You are not your thoughts. You are your actions. You are what you do. And your actions are the only thing separating you from where you are and where you want to be. This isn’t just about seizing the day; this is about seizing the moment, the hour, the week, the month. This is abut seizing your fucking life and staking a claim for yourself as though your life depends on it. Because, the reality is, it does.


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Review// Egomaniac by Vi Keeland

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Author: Vi Keeland
Series: Standalone
Genre: New Adult/ Romance
Release Date: January 16, 2017
Book Length:  322 pages 
Publisher: Everafter Romance
Review: 4/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

The night I met Drew Jagger, he’d just broken into my new Park Avenue office. I dialed 9-1-1 before proceeding to attack him with my fancy new Krav Maga skills.  He quickly restrained me, then chuckled, finding my attempted assault amusing.

Of course, my intruder had to be arrogant. Only, turned out, he wasn’t an intruder at all.

Drew was the rightful occupant of my new office. He’d been on vacation while his posh space was renovated. Which was how a scammer got away with leasing me office space that wasn’t really available for rent. I was swindled out of ten grand.

The next day, after hours at the police station, Drew took pity on me and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. In exchange for answering his phones while his secretary was out, he’d let me stay until I found a new place. I probably should have acted grateful and kept my mouth shut when I overheard the advice he was spewing to his clients. But I couldn’t help giving him a piece of my mind. I never expected my body to react every time we argued. Especially when that was all we seemed to be able to do.

The two of us were complete opposites. Drew was a bitter, angry, gorgeous-as-all-hell destroyer of relationships. And my job was to help people save their marriages. The only thing the two of us had in common was the space we were sharing. And an attraction that was getting harder to deny by the day.

My Review:

Don’t judge a book by its cover. Or do, I guess? I don’t know. What I do know though is that this book was great.  At the beginning, I was genuinely toying with the idea of giving it a 2/5, but the story improved so much that I had to raise it, which I was shocked about because that does not happen too often.

I loved the chemistry between Drew and Emerie, and I especially enjoyed that it was built up over a long period of time before anything actually happened.  Judging by the cover, I thought something would happen between them a lot sooner than it did, but I liked the suspense that came from waiting. Although there was a sense of sexual tension that the other probably noticed, you could tell that their feelings were still somewhat a mystery to the other for a while, and it was fun to experience how that played out. The characters also felt true to their ages—late 20s/ early 30s—which, to me, is important and made them seem more real.

Drew in particular really surprised me. When you see the title of Egomaniac, your first thought is that he’s going to be a dick, for lack of a better word. However, I think the word ‘egomaniac’ only applied to Drew as he was a victim of circumstances that sort of made him that way. He wasn’t perfect (perfect doesn’t exist anyways), but he did have good intentions with Emerie and you could tell that he truly fell for her which gave me such a soft spot for him. It also helped that I saw my personality in Emerie, so I really wanted things to work out for her. I won’t go into the details to avoid possible spoilers, but the book was about more than just the relationship between the two though, which was nice as it added dimension to the story.

10/10 would recommend if you’re a fan of New Adult. I laughed out loud and said ‘oh my god’ too many times to count, so I really can’t wait to give more Vi Keeland books a read in the future!

Has anyone read this or other good New Adult books? Any and all recommendations are welcome 🙂

– Catherine


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Review// Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Life & Love From Dear Sugar

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Author: Cheryl Strayed
Series: Standalone
Genre: Non-fiction
Release Date: July 10, 2012
Book Length:  304 pages 
Publisher: Vintage
Review: 5/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Life can be hard: your lover cheats on you; you lose a family member; you can’t pay the bills—and it can be great: you’ve had the hottest sex of your life; you get that plum job; you muster the courage to write your novel. Sugar—the once-anonymous online columnist at The Rumpus, now revealed as Cheryl Strayed, author of the bestselling memoir Wild—is the person thousands turn to for advice.
Tiny Beautiful Things brings the best of Dear Sugar in one place and includes never-before-published columns and a new introduction by Steve Almond.  Rich with humor, insight, compassion—and absolute honesty—this book is a balm for everything life throws our way.

My Review:

It’s hard to think of the perfect thing to say that would accurately convey what this book has done to me but the one thing that I know for certain is that it was life-altering. I’m better for having read this, and that, to me, is what all the best books do—they make you feel changed for the better.

This book is a compilation of advice columns answered by a woman who goes by the name, ‘Sugar’. It is what the title says it is—advice on life and love—but for almost the whole book, I wondered why it was called Tiny Beautiful Things. It’s not until I finished that I understood that it is sometimes the tiny, beautiful, seemingly-meaningless things about life that you don’t think matter that much in the moment which are the things you look back on as some of the most profound of your life.

The letters written to Sugar over the course of this book come from people of all ages, backgrounds, religious beliefs, and the like—people who are lost, confused, lonely, desperate, and scared, looking for someone to give them answers. Sugar isn’t some all-knowing fortune teller with a crystal ball who can see into your future, and she doesn’t claim to be; she is a real human being like you or I who has also been lost, confused, lonely, desperate, and scared. That is what makes her advice so good.  That is why thousands of people write to her—because even if she hasn’t been in their particular situation, she makes them feel understood by bringing up her own experiences and never saying that they are wrong for feeling what they do. And feeling understood feels really, really good, especially when you are going through tough situations that make you feel alone, as many of these people were. Even though I can’t say I have experienced half of the exact things that the people who wrote to her were going through, I can say that I have experienced the same emotions, which made the stories feel relatable regardless.

This was eye-opening and, at times, a heavy and emotional read. I really cannot recommend it enough, and I will be giving it a reread in the future for sure.


What would you tell your twentysomething self if you could talk to her now?

There are some things you can’t understand yet. Your life will be a great and continuous unfolding. You will come to know things that can only be known with the wisdom of age and the grace of years. The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels and dead people’s diaries and wondering about sex and God and whether you should shave under your arms or not. These things are your becoming.


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