#BookReview High School by Tegan and Sara Quin

High School by Sara Quin and Tegan Quin is a wonderful biography all about the famous musicians’ high school years.

This was a book that really had me hooked despite being a genre I don’t jump into too often. I couldn’t believe how enchanting and engaging it was! The pictures, the events, the relatable nature… it was all just so good together. Sara and Tegan not only have a talent with telling their story through music, they have the writing bug too.

I’ve known about Tegan and Sara but have never been a “super fan”. I’ve listened to the odd song and known about some of the awards they’ve won. They are famous Canadians, so obviously as a Canadian myself I’ve heard of them. This book has made me realize I want to listen to their music a lot more. They are relatable, inspirational and motivational – and they were once just normal girls living their best lives. It’s a relatable and down to earth story about some of the insanity of high school years.

To top it all off, they are LGTBQ+ advocates. They are apart of the community and do a lot of good work for it. They are inspirational figures and have a magical way with their words. Their struggles and journey are really something worth reading about. The high school angst, drugs, the changes and discovery in their sexuality, the changing family dynamics and the beginnings in the music industry are something really cool to read about! It felt like these guys could literally be my next door neighbours or be my buddies. There’s also some comedic moments, amazing lines and crazy goofs that make this book transcend to another level of awesome. The on the spot excuses for what they were doing instead of taking drugs or having a little too much fun with their significant others had me chuckling.

Overall, this book was a lovely journey and a great read. I highly recommend it for fans of Tegan and Sara or people just seeking an interesting biography.

Four out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

You can find this book on a variety of websites:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Indigo
Kobo
B&N

Check out Tegan and Sara by clicking the links below:
http://teganandsara.com/
Twitter: @teganandsara

If you’re looking for more non-fiction books and biographies, you might enjoy some of these great books that have been featured on my blog:
#BookReview Breakfast at Bronzefield by Sophie Campbell
#BookReview Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
#BookReview The Boy on the Beach by Tima Kurdi

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#BookReview Unmuted: Stories of Courage and Resilience from the GenPRIDE Community by Steven Knipp et al.

If you’re looking for a book that will stir your emotions but also remind you that you’re not alone, this is it!

Unmuted: Stories of Courage and Resilience from the GenPRIDE Community is a delightful book with many short stories within its pages.

Background: GenPRIDE is a nonprofit I had not heard of before I picked up this book. It sounds like it’s doing fantastic work by focusing on helping the lives of midlife and older LGBTQIA+ people. And, fun fact, individuals from this group wrote this book! So that’s pretty darn cool, if you ask me. This book helped build a community and I am absolutely honoured to be able to pick this book up!

This book starts out with a breathtaking and beautiful dedication to Kevin Charles Patz. He was not only a writer in this book, but a good friend of the other writers. The dedication was heartwarming and made me smile. I’m sad to hear that Kevin has passed, but I’m glad he lived so fondly in others hearts.

The feelings this book gives is just insane. You’ve felt what these authors have felt, you’ve just maybe not known how to express them. The anxiety of people, the feeling of pure loneliness – having someone write those out and see that I’m not alone was an amazing coping mechanism for myself. Especially in these wild times – quarantine and pandemic – knowing that I’m not the only one feeling these crazy feelings is nice and soothing. You hate seeing other people having these feelings, but at least you know you’re not alone.

The heartbreak of Do Young’s Ghost hit home a little too hard. The pain of learning someone you love is dying from a source that isn’t kind… It hurts. My heart goes out to Greg. We can sit in the same boat together.

Hiding yourself from others or hating what you have to hide – Jenny, you give me strength and hope that I can be who I strive to be.

Loss from Steven Knipp, Hope’s story of birthdays, Shayla’s story of addiction and Linda’s purely incredible comment – “Why don’t people use non-gendered pronouns when they have doubts” is an age old question for me. Funny story, I used to teach classes and couldn’t always tell what names matched genders. Oftentimes, I would call the kids “Dude” as a non-gendered term as I was learning what names/nicknames they liked being called and what pronouns they went by. Dude was always an incredible non-gendered term in the world of children. That sentence reminded me of the amazing times I had back then, what a nostalgia trip that was!

Overall, this is a beautiful set of stories. I hope this group writers more and I’m able to pick up all of their books. This is a mesmerizing, must read on my list!

My summary sentence for the whole book: It amazes me how writing can soothe the soul and bring people together.

Five out of five stars!

I received this book for free from the editor, Jennifer Haupt, in exchange of an honest review.

You can find this book by clicking on the following links:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo

Looking for more non-fiction and feeling-full reads to spice up your life? Check out some of my other faves that have been featured on my blog:
#BookReview Alone Together: Love, Grief, and Comfort in the Time of COVID-19 by Jennifer Haupt et al
#BookReview Produce Poetry or Die by Narada Voux Sanders
#BookReview Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

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#BookReview The Edge of Whiteness by Joe Montaperto

The Edge of Whiteness by Joe Montaperto is a smashing read all about Joe’s school hijinks in the 1970s.

If you’re looking for a blast from the past, this book is for you! Joe Montaperto’s school life is full of misfits, hijinks, Sicilian heritage, hilarious name calling, amazing references and lots of hilarity.

This book centres around the race riots in high schools during the 1970s. It’s a different time with lots of flashbacks to Joe’s youth. There’s yelling, screaming, cursing, and lots of comedy all packed into this wonderful book. It reminded me of listening to a Director’s Cut of a movie. You see (or read, in the case of the book) all of the action but also get to hear the funny side comments and quips about the situation itself. That’s why this book is so enjoyable – Joe’s witty or snippy remarks about the situation as a whole.

The spiritual awakening part of this book is one of the more interesting parts for me. It all starting with a book, Siddhartha by Heran Hesse, is even more interesting. Throw that in with the struggles of youth in the 70s and it opens your eyes (or reminds you) of how the world was different many years ago.

My only note is that this book may come off as rude. There are offensive terms mentioned in this book that were fairly common back in the 1970s. Nowadays, the terminology is very offensive. So, trigger warnings ahead! Remember, this is a book about the 1970s which was a very different time with a different point of view (generations are all different). N words, fake Arab accents – the works. That is a point to keep in mind when thinking about reading this book.

Four out of five stars.

I received this book for free from the author, Joe Montaperto, in exchange of an honest review.

You can pick up this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo

Check out some of the work by Joe below:

www.joemontaperto.com

Goodreads – Nobody Gets Out of Catering Alive
Amazon.ca – Nobody Gets Out of Catering Alive
Amazon.com – Nobody Gets out of Catering Alive
Smashwords – Nobody Gets Out of Catering Alive

Check out another book in this series:
Goodreads – Lovely Chaos
Amazon.ca – Lovely Chaos
Amazon.com – Lovely Chaos
Smashwords – Lovely Chaos

and on Authors Den!

Check out other books by Joe Montaperto on my blog:
#BookReview Nobody Gets Out of Catering Alive by Joe Montaperto
#BookReview Lovely Chaos by Joe Montaperto

If you’re seeking more reads, check out some of my other blog posts:
Top Books from 2019

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#BookReview Breakfast at Bronzefield by Sophie Campbell

Breakfast at Bronzefield is one of the best books I’ve read this year. No jokes. No lies.

It’s one of those books that opens you up to a world you might have heard of, but never really truly knew about before. I’ve watched Orange is the New Black, and have heard all of the stories from shows and books like it, but Sophie’s first hand account opened my eyes up so much. Seriously, it’s not the fun and cutesy stuff Orange brings you in the show (although, it is still an excellent show so I’m not hating on it).

Sophie is a real woman who was in a women’s prison, and man does her story shed a different light on the “correction” facilities. By the sounds of it, we can hardly call them correction facilities anymore, but that’s a topic for another day (or for this book, let’s be honest).

This book recounts Sophie’s tales as a black woman in the Britain’s justice system. Women’s prisons aren’t the campy fun that some television shows might have you believe. The news doesn’t do it justice either. Correctional officers and probation officers aren’t always out there to protect these ladies, and inmates don’t always get treated the way they should. The food isn’t great, when they can get it. The activities are limited, and they’re lucky to get them most of the time, especially if the officer or recreation assistant running it doesn’t like them (for who knows what reason). Even then, once they are no longer inmates, it isn’t easy for them to get back on their feet. The programs provided don’t always help or have the best interests of these ladies in mind.

This book is honest, real and raw. It made me think a lot and wonder how the system got so corrupt. If we’re trying to help people get ‘better’ or learn from their ‘mistakes’, why are we so harsh? Is there not better ways? It’s mind blowing. The system we’ve been told is supposed to help and do good is quite corrupt.

Overall, the honesty and accuracy of this account is so mind boggling. While I’m not surprised, I also totally was. Sophie’s accounts felt so real, and brought some new light to my eyes. More stories like these need to be told, and then maybe the system will change. That’s a tall order, but it’s possible – it just might take a very long time.

Five out of five stars.

I received a free copy of this book from the author, Sophie Campbell, in exchange of an honest review.

Check out this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com

You can find out more about the author, Sophie Campbell, by following the links below:
https://www.sophiecampbellbooks.com/
Twitter
Goodreads

If you liked this book, here’s some other books from my blog that you might enjoy:
#BookReview The Boy on the Beach by Tima Kurdi
#BookReview Crime Seen by Kate Lines
#BookReview You’re Doing Great and Other Reasons to Stay Alive by Tom Papa

Give me a shout out on Twitter if you read this review! #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

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#BookReview Alone Together: Love, Grief, and Comfort in the Time of COVID-19 by Jennifer Haupt et al

This collection is marvellous, let me tell ya. COVID is driving me (and everyone else, it seems) insane. Being stuck inside, being forced to work to pay bills, being scared and anxious and worried… We’re all in the same boat, even when we’re not. We’re all in this together. And this book reminds readers of this.

Faith Adiele’s The New Old Vocabulary showed me COVID from a very different angle. I’m up in Canada, just chilling at home, doing full time school and reading my little heart out. I’m picking up new hobbies and trying my best, but her comments… It put life into a perspective. I complained about being alone, but having the opportunity to be semi-safe, but not everyone in the U.S.A. is. The stats about African American men being arrested when they’re just trying to help homeless people… It hurts. It makes my soul ache. Really ache.

Andre Dubus the Third’s story made my eyes well up, reading about his mother-in-law’s thoughts on COVID. It hurt. It hurt real bad. But at the same time, it made me not feel alone. I’m not the only one questioning why this is here. It made humanity feel so much better than the crazies in my town screaming and threatening each other if they get 10 feet near them.

Laura Stanfill’s story about Priya… It makes me weep. It’s so close to home, yet so beautifully written. Grace Talusan’s also made my heart feel so sad. Jean Kowk’s gave me hope, and made my heart sing because I related to it in so many ways.

Then there’s more poems, and essays, and interviews, and short stories throughout. Some will bring tears, some will open your eyes and some will give you hope. There is no doubt in my mind that there is a piece of work in this for everyone. It’ll make you feel connected to a community you didn’t know was there. It made me feel more at home then I have in months, which is a feat all in itself. It’s nice knowing that we’re not alone in this big battle.

There’s love, hate, fear and hope throughout. This is one absolutely incredible collection that I am so happy and proud of picking up. We need books to remind us of our humanity sometimes, and this book did it.

Also, the reminders of George Floyd, and the racism and hate that still lingers… It’s as bad as COVID, if not worse. Because racism is avoidable if people could be kind, COVID and super viruses, not as much.

We need justice.

Five out of five stars.

Thank you to NetGalley and Jennifer Haupt for giving me access to a free copy of this book in exchange of an honest review.

 

Check out this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Indigo
B&N

 

If you enjoyed Alone Together, or want some more books that’ll make you feel, then check out some of these reviews to fill the void:
#BookReview The Boy on the Beach by Tima Kurdi
#BookReview Another Five Days by Matt Micros
To Wendy’s With Love: the 22-year Lunch by Diane Keyes- BOOK REVIEW

 

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#BookReview You’re Doing Great!: And Other Reasons to Stay Alive by Tom Papa

I discovered Tom Papa when he was on Joe Rogan’s podcast, and I instantly loved his humour. When I saw that he had a book coming out, I was thrilled! Not only was I looking for more comedy books but I could support one awesome comedian! And luckily, I was not disappointed! This book is incredibly amusing and super fun.

This book is a collection of silly stories from Tom’s past. It’s funny, light hearted and made me smile throughout. There’s also a really positive message about how we’re all going our best and doing a great job. Life isn’t easy, and some of these stories go over how it isn’t (but make it way more fun sounding) but it points out that life is a series of obstacles that we can make the best of.

Tom weaves his stories to make them enjoyable, easy to follow and addicting to read. I was shocked how fast I got this book done! I couldn’t put the book down and I found myself re-reading some of the stories because they were so good, so funny and just made me feel good. I wish self help books were as fun as this.

I will definitely be keeping my copy and sharing it with all of my friends. This book made me feel so good! It’s a light, fun read that you can either binge or just read in a series of short tales.

Five out of five stars!

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

Check out this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo
B&N

 

Looking for more comedy in your life? Check out these other books featured on my blog:
#BookReview 100 Tiny Tales by K. Kris Loomis
Quick Review – How to Make White People Laugh by Negin Farsad
Quick Book Review: People Who Need To Die by Victor Rook

 

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#BookReview The Boy on the Beach by Tima Kurdi

The Boy on the Beach is a beautiful yet haunting tale of a heartbreaking story that swept the nation.

Back in 2015 there was a very viral picture of a young, Syrian refugee boy washed up on the shore of the Mediterranean. It was heartbreaking, knowing that these people were seeking help and they didn’t get it. Alan Kurdi was the young boy, and Tima Kurdi (his aunt) shares the powerful story of this tragedy in this beautifully written novel.

This book is one for the ages: it showcases real human emotion. Syrian refugees are normal people (which some people on the internet do not seem to get) and were just living their lives and doing their best. Families, jobs, education, marriages, pregnancies, miscarriages, etc. They all had experiences and were doing their best. Then the Syrian War happened and ruined everything. The war went on for ages and people tried to escape, many of them taking the refugee route. These people bargained with smugglers and tried to escape to another nation, but many did not make it.

This story HURT. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be on the other side of that picture. I remember seeing it and having my heart ache, but not to the level that Tima and her family would have felt. To lose one’s children and wife, or nephew and sister-in-law, to know that you tried to get them freedom and one small decision is what hurt them. It’s heart breaking.

If there’s a positive about this book, hopefully it’ll open some hearts up and someone will be able to help someone else. Not only is this book written beautifully, but it reeks of empathy. My heart felt like it was going to explode reading it. I felt so attached and I felt so strongly for Tima. That writing ability, it’s one for the ages.

My only negative for the book is that is was sad, and that’s not even a negative – it’s reality. I almost cried reading this book because it’s just so darn awful yet amazing. It’s a horrible story, one that definitely was not deserved by all of those involved. The inhumane crimes… it’s despicable. But Tima’s ability to write and make me feel for her and want to do everything in my power to help, that’s just amazing. There’s also so much love and adoration in this book as well. The love of her family, the desire to do better – it’s worthwhile.

You’ll be grateful for the position you’re in and you’ll feel things you’ve never felt before once you pick up this book. I swear. Hug your family a little closer tonight and realize things can change in an instant. This book also gave me a reminder that you don’t know what’s going on in other people’s lives, so respect, respect, respect. And give a little empathy once and a while. Maybe don’t go judging based off Twitter and Fox News.

I’d 100%, highly recommend this book. It’ll make you cry and feel things you never did. It’s beautiful, astonishing and moving. I can’t recommend it enough – non-fiction lovers, history lovers, explorers and people who just want to feel something. Seriously, pick up this book.

Five out of five stars. I would give it six if possible.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads. My copy was also an arc, so it may have changed upon publication.

 

You can find more about this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
Indigo

 

Here are some other books you might enjoy if you liked this book or review:
#BookReview The Fencers by Geza Tatrallyay
Book Review: Ugly by Robert Hoge
#BookReview Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

 

Check me out on:

Twitter: Briar’s Reviews – @ReviewAlholic #briarsreviews

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#BookReview Encyclopedia of Insects by Jules Howard

I LOVE learning, so seeing this encyclopedia perked me right up! Sure, insects can be creepy and crawly, but I was down for learning some new stuff about everyone’s “favourite” creatures! And I wasn’t disappointed!

Do keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive collection of bugs, but it is an excellent start for eager minds!!

The pictures in this book are absolute awesome! I really enjoyed the damselfly picture that stared into my soul (hoenstly, it was creepy to stare at my but the art is AMAZE-BALLS).

Here are select things I learned:
1. There’s complete and incomplete metamorphosis? Wait… what? Why did my biology classes skip that information? THAT IS SO COOL.

2. Dragonflies are actually predators, and Damselflies are a thing. Who knew?

3. The Walking Flower Mantis looks super cool and pretty. I even googled them because I didn’t believe they were actually pink. They are gorgeous!! They look like flowers!

4. Toe Biters, Hummingbird Hawkmoth & Slave-Making Ants. That is all.

Things I would like to avoid:
1. Swams of locusts. Kthanxbai.

2. EARWIGS HAVE WINGS. REPEAT: EARWIGS HAVE WINGS. They are way grosser now. Yuck. They can chase me when I run away!

Overall, this book is totally, super amazing! I would absolutely recommend this to young and old readers alike! You’ll learn a whole bunch. I could totally see this book being used for school projects or for nerdy little kids like me (back in the day, of course) who just wanted to soak up knowledge like a sponge. I will definitely be using some of these facts for my useless trivia I spout out at people on a regular basis.

Five out of five stars!

Thank you to NetGalley and Quarto Publishing for giving me an opportunity to read this book!

Check out this marvelous book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Indigo

You can find out more about Jules Howard by clicking the links below:
Goodreads
Twitter @juleslhoward
http://www.juleshoward.co.uk/

Here’s some other non-fiction-y reviews featured on my blog to fill up your TBR shelf:
#BookReview Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
Book Review: Birds Art Life: A Year of Observation by Kyo Maclear

 

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#BookReview The Black Mzungu by Alexandria Kathleen Osborne

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The Black Mzungu was a fantastic non-fiction read about the author, Alexandria Obsorne’s, incredible change in scenery.

I was shocked by how much I liked this book. I rarely find myself enjoying non-fiction or biographies, but this novel hit all the right notes with me. The author does a fantastic job retelling her life story of marrying a man from another country and moving there. Each chapter details the ups and downs of moving to a third world country and building a home there.

There are a lot of cultural insights and introductions to Lindi, Tanzania. Different terms and traditions are introduced in this novel and it gives an absolutely incredible insight into a world that is different compared to a First World Country.

Overall, I was impressed. I didn’t see anything wrong with this novel – it moved at a good pace, each chapter had a different story to tell that connected the entire novel together and it seemed real. Nothing seemed out of place or out of the ordinary.

I loved this book! I would love to read more about the author’s life in the future!

Five out of five stars!

I received this boook for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

What is your favourite non-fiction novel? Comment below!
If you enjoyed this review, check out another you might enjoy: #BookReview The Year After by Ashley Wagner

Use the hashtags #BriarsReviews and #TheBlackMzungu to start a conversation about this book! @ReviewAlholic

 

Photo from Goodreads.

#BookReview The Wife’s Tale by Aida Edemariam

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The Wife’s Tale is a beautiful history of a family that will pull at your heart strings.

My goodness, this book was impossible for me to put down. This breath taking recount of a woman’s life in Ethiopia was truly incredible. I’m Canadian and I haven’t left North America, so reading about other people’s lives has always been something I enjoy. Seeing into this woman’s life and the troubles and triumphs that occurred… It’s so incredible that there are hardly words.

This memoir is worth every second and needs to be read by everyone (in my humble opinion). The life of this stranger and how she lived will give you insight to a world you might not have been aware existed. Yetemegnu’s life and journey is so mind blowing! I highly recommend this book and it’s a must read for me!

This woman was married young, had many children, learned so much and felt so many emotions throughout her life. It was mesmerizing and made me really think about my own life as well. The reflection this novel brings on is worth every penny.

This book may be difficult to follow – some words are not in English, but in my ARC there was a little dictionary at the back. Additionally, it’s not some action packed story – it’s following a woman’s life, so at times it’s not super exciting. It’s a slice of Yetemegnu’s life.

This story of bravery, determination and love is one of my top books of the year now. I want to see it on every bookshelf in town! If you’re looking for a book to open up your horizons, pick this book up! Seriously, make it one of the few books you read this year!!

Five out of five stars.

I received a free copy of this book in ARC form via Goodreads First Reads.

 

Check out Aida on twitter: @AidaE

Give me a shout out too! #briarsreviews @ReviewAlholic

Check out another review you might enjoy! #BookReview So Near the Horizon by Jessica Koch

 

Photo from Goodreads.