Review Tuesday: The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking

I came across The Little Book of Hygge – The Danish Way To Live Well by Meik Wiking while perusing the shelves of a bookstore, and I picked it up purely because it looked so cute. The book is small in size, with gorgeous coloured photos spread throughout and it immediately draws the eye. The information also comes at you in digestible bite size pieces, which doesn’t leave you feeling overwhelmed with information. And the information, is incredibly interesting.

From Goodreads:

Denmark is often said to be the happiest country in the world. That’s down to one thing: hygge.

‘Hygge has been translated as everything from the art of creating intimacy to cosiness of the soul to taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things. My personal favourite is cocoa by candlelight…’

You know hygge when you feel it. It is when you are cuddled up on a sofa with a loved one, or sharing comfort food with your closest friends. It is those crisp blue mornings when the light through your window is just right.

Who better than Meik Wiking to be your guide to all things hygge? Meik is CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and has spent years studying the magic of Danish life. In this beautiful, inspiring book he will help you be more hygge: from picking the right lighting and planning a dinner party through to creating an emergency hygge kit and even how to dress.

Meik Wiking is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. He is committed to finding out what makes people happy and has concluded that hygge is the magic ingredient that makes Danes the happiest nation in the world.

After reading this book, I am still hard pressed to be able to define hygge in a sentence. It is part culture, part way of being, and part mindfulness. But this book does a fantastic job of combining all of those elements to explain what hygge is, why it is so important, how to create it, and most importantly perhaps, how it affects your happiness levels.

The book is broken down into chapters that firstly, start defining what hygge is, and how it is woven into Danish culture, then secondly, how to create it and thirdly, why it is so important.

I found the whole book fascinating. I loved learning that Denmark as a country burns more candles than any other country in the world and that is because candles are essentially to creating hygge. (Also, I found it very interesting that they, in general, don’t go in for scented candles at all). I loved learning about the culture aspects of hygge, and how it affects Danes and thus society.

It was also wonderful to learn how to go about creating hygge. I found myself relaxing as I read this book. Hygge is about unplugging from the world, having relaxing times with your friends – potluck dinners, picnics, board game nights etc. – with good food, and wearing comfortable clothing. It’s about slowing down, and creating moments that can be remembered long after they’ve ended. It’s about sitting with a cup of tea, a blanket and a book or watching the world go by from the window. And I think the most overwhelming thing about it is about creating mindfulness.

Danes purposefully go about creating hygge. They are mindful of what makes it, and about places that have it. They ensure that they make it or get it because it makes them feel good, it puts them in the moment, it connects them with other people and/or themselves, it makes them appreciate life so much more – and thus makes them that much more happy. (Danes are routinely coming in first place for happiness reports – they’re the happiest people in the world).

After reading this book, I’m definitely more mindful of what makes hygge, and how I can go about making it – in my home, with my friends etc. It’s also rather fortuitous because I have a new apartment, so I’m going to work in some of the suggestions about creating a place that is hygge – less overhead lights, and more standing or table lights – it creates a better atmosphere for example.

This is definitely a book for you if you’re looking to be more mindful about being happy, and interested in creating hygge for yourself. One of my favourite books so far this year.

Review Tuesday: The Circle by Dave Eggers

I definitely picked up The Circle by David Eggers because I found out that Emma Watson was going to be starring in the movie, and I wanted to read it beforehand. This book was…wow. Very good, and super creepy.

From Goodreads:

When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in America–even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.

The only real negative things that I can say about it, is that it’s too long – by about 100 pages. I started getting a bit bored part way through because the pace seemed really slow, and things started to get repetitive. However, the story as a whole was engrossing.

The Circle is essentially Google on steroids. It’s a tech company with a monopoly, the stereotypical campus that no one wants to leave, great pay and benefits – it’s a dream job, at a dream company that is making the world better for people. And as Mae starts to work there, you, the reader, also think that she’s hit the jackpot of a career.

And then…

Things start to get slightly creepy. Not overly at first, I mean you, the reader, have also drunk the Kool-Aid they’re providing, but as the book progresses you realize that what seemed like a great technological innovation 100 pages ago, is now becoming much more “Big Brother-y”, until well…you’ll have to read to find out.

I did find though that after putting down the book each time (it was a lunch time reading book) I didn’t want to be on my phone. I didn’t want to post my photos, comments etc. to the world at large. I wanted to remain silent, anonymous.

Has this book made me rethink my privacy and what I’m allowing companies to learn about me when I log into their apps? Definitely. And I also realized how little we (the consumer) know about what we’re agreeing to when we sign the “Terms & Conditions”. We don’t know what privacy we’re giving away and we certainly don’t know how to get it back.

I think this book (and the movie that is coming) will definitely start a conversation about privacy especially, but also about how we interact as humans, and what a healthy relationship and self-image should be.

This was definitely a must-read. It’s a very good book, and will certainly get you thinking about the consequences of giving up your privacy so freely. (And if you say that you’re not, please remember that you have zero idea what you’ve given up because there’s no way you’ve read the Terms & Conditions of anything app related).

 

 

 

Review Tuesday: Love Story by Lauren Layne

Lauren Layne is one of those authors that I just buy. I don’t even need to know usually what the book is about, I know that I’m at least going to enjoy it and more than likely fall in love with it. Love Story by her, however, was one of those books that I enjoyed but didn’t love – still good read, but not one of my favourites by her.

love-storyFrom Goodreads:

When Lucy Hawkins receives a job offer in San Francisco, she can’t wait to spread her wings and leave her small Virginia hometown behind. Her close-knit family supports her as best they can, by handing over the keys to a station wagon that’s seen better days. The catch? The cross-country trip comes with a traveling companion: her older brother’s best friend, aka the guy who took Lucy’s virginity hours before breaking her heart.

After spending the past four years and every last dime caring for his sick father, Reece Sullivan will do just about anything to break free of the painful memories—even if it means a two-week road trip with the one girl who’s ever made it past his carefully guarded exterior. But after long days of bickering in the car turn into steamy nights in secluded motel rooms, Reece learns that, when it comes to Lucy, their story is far from over. And this time, they just might have a shot at a happy ending.

This book alternatives points of view (POV) every chapter, and it’s not my favourite way to tell a story. I find that most of Lauren Layne’s non-series books are like this. (Which is maybe why I’m not in love with any of her books that aren’t part of a series…).

Reece’s story is a heartbreaking one. He had a very traumatic childhood that has impacted his emotional wellbeing harshly. I spent this book simply wanted to give Reece a hug and protect him from the world. No one should have to go through what he has gone through. One of the things that I love about Lucy is that she wants to do the same thing. She wants to love Reece and protect him and be there for him in a way that no one else ever has. I love her for that.

These two run aground because of Reece’s emotional baggage, Lucy not quite understanding that baggage, and because the two of them simply cannot communicate well enough (or at all) to articulate their feelings, and what they are thinking. That was frustrating because I spent most of this book just wishing, demanding, and finally yelling at my Kobo screen, that they would just talk to each other and be honest.

One of the great things about this book is that it shows you that even though you’re in love with someone, it takes a lot of work to get onto the same page sometimes. It takes a lot of work and energy and effort to love someone. And it also takes a hell of a lot of trust – in order to be vulnerable in front of the person that you love. It takes Lucy and Reece a long time to get to that point. But when they do, my heart did a little tap dance because these two definitely deserved their happily-ever-after.

Like I said at the beginning of this review, this isn’t a book I’m in love with, but it is very good. It’s a quick read (with some potentially yelling at characters part way through) and well worth it.

Review Tuesday: The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

windup-girlThe Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi is a fantasy novel that has won numerous prestigious awards like the Hugo and the Nebula, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why. This book was brutal, and the only reason I actually finished it was because I was reading it for my book club.

From Goodreads:

Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen’s Calorie Man in Thailand. Under cover as a factory manager, Anderson combs Bangkok’s street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct, hoping to reap the bounty of history’s lost calories. There, he encounters Emiko…

Emiko is the Windup Girl, a strange and beautiful creature. One of the New People, Emiko is not human; instead, she is an engineered being, creche-grown and programmed to satisfy the decadent whims of a Kyoto businessman, but now abandoned to the streets of Bangkok. Regarded as soulless beings by some, devils by others, New People are slaves, soldiers, and toys of the rich in a chilling near future in which calorie companies rule the world, the oil age has passed, and the side effects of bio-engineered plagues run rampant across the globe.

What Happens when calories become currency? What happens when bio-terrorism becomes a tool for corporate profits, when said bio-terrorism’s genetic drift forces mankind to the cusp of post-human evolution? Award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi delivers one of the most highly acclaimed science fiction novels of the twenty-first century.

Now, I was the only person in my book club to actually finish the book – though one of us was almost done and was planning on finishing it. The other two had most definitely given up (at least for the foreseeable future). I would be proud that I had actually finished the book, but I haven’t read 2 other books for book club, so I’m still batting below average. Anyway, not the point. The point is this book.

The book starts off doing something that I completely hate – it drops you into the middle of a whole new world without any word of explanation and without attempting to explain anything. You have to figure it out as you go along, and in this case I feel like I missed out on some good story line because I didn’t understand what was happening, and because the author didn’t explain certain things – like how the world got to this point, how exactly did this world function, and essentially how did all of the pieces of this elaborate puzzle fit together?

The other problem with this book is that it (like bloody Games of Thrones, holy crap do I hate that book) introduced too many characters too quickly. Each chapter is from a different character’s perspective, which is fine, but because it rotated so much it took forever for you the reader to get invested in any character, and by the end of it all I was only invested in two – and even then, not overly.

So I’m now reading a book where I don’t understand much, and where I’m not really invested in any of the characters. Great times. The only thing that this book had going for it (in my opinion) is the main idea of the book that humanity has done this to itself. We didn’t care about the planet until it was too late. We thought we were gods and started gene ripping and splicing and the consequences was plagues and not enough food for the world. Greed screwed us. And let’s be honest greed is screwing the world we currently live in as well. That part of the book, the main idea of it was interesting and intriguing. The execution of that idea was brutal, horrendous and I longed for it to be over. The ending could not come soon enough.

And the ending – what bullshit. What random bullshit. It was not believable and was too heavy handed. The author definitely had a moment of “shit, I need these two people to meet, and I’m out of time…fuck it…they meet, the end.” *slams head on desk* BRUTAL.

This is not a book I enjoyed or liked. I would not recommend it and I have zero idea how it won any kind of awards. If you are one of those people who loved this book, for the love of God tell me how and why because I for the life of me cannot understand.

Review Tuesday: Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham

I find that with John Grisham it’s hit or miss from me. I really enjoyed The Pelican Brief, (both book and movie), and The Client (though it was way too long), and I didn’t really like The Racketeer. I found that the Rogue Lawyer fell into the latter category for me.

rogue-lawyerFrom Goodreads:

Sebastian Rudd is not your typical street lawyer. He works out of a customized bulletproof van, complete with Wi-Fi, a bar, a small fridge, fine leather chairs, a hidden gun compartment, and a heavily armed driver. He has no firm, no partners, no associates, and only one employee, his driver, who’s also his bodyguard, law clerk, confidant, and golf caddy. He lives alone in a small but extremely safe penthouse apartment, and his primary piece of furniture is a vintage pool table. He drinks small-batch bourbon and carries a gun.
 
Sebastian defends people other lawyers won’t go near: a drug-addled, tattooed kid rumored to be in a satanic cult, who is accused of molesting and murdering two little girls; a vicious crime lord on death row; a homeowner arrested for shooting at a SWAT team that mistakenly invaded his house.  Why these clients? Because he believes everyone is entitled to a fair trial, even if he, Sebastian, has to cheat to secure one. He hates injustice, doesn’t like insurance companies, banks, or big corporations; he distrusts all levels of government and laughs at the justice system’s notions of ethical behavior.
 
Sebastian Rudd is one of John Grisham’s most colorful, outrageous, and vividly drawn characters yet. Gritty, witty, and impossible to put down, Rogue Lawyer showcases the master of the legal thriller at his very best.

This book had an interesting format because it wasn’t a singular plot line. The book is broken down by case. Each part is a case so it almost reads as a short story collection, with the same main character linking all of the different little stories together. I did find that interesting because it was something new and different. It kept the book moving at a good pace and it wasn’t really possible to get bogged down anywhere.

However, the downside of this format though is that there aren’t a lot of characters for you, the reader, to get invested in. No one lasts for the entirety of the book that you know well other than Sebastian, and unfortunately Sebastian, for me, wasn’t really likable – and the book rests solely on that aspect.

Overall for me, this was an okay book. It isn’t something that I would recommend as an amazing book, and it isn’t something that I would ever read again. It was fine.

Review Tuesday: Beautiful by Christina Lauren

Beautiful by Christina Lauren is the fifth book in the Beautiful Bastard series. Now, I have to say that I didn’t like the first book (Beautiful Bastard)in this series much. I didn’t like the dynamic between Chloe and Bennett. I thought it was hostile and unhealthy. However, I had bought book one and book two at the same time. So I gave the second book a go – Beautiful Stranger – and I completely fell in love with Max and Sara. After that I was hooked and I’ve read all of the books in this series and enjoyed them immensely. Beautiful Stranger though is still my favourite.

Beautiful though also holds a place in my heart because while it is the fifth book in the series it is also the last book.

beautifulFrom Goodreads:

Featuring the entire BEAUTIFUL series cast for one final hurrah!

A FREE-SPIRITED GIRL IN NEED OF A BREAK.
A MAN WEIGHED DOWN BY RESPONSIBILITY.
A ROAD TRIP VACATION WHERE ALL BETS ARE OFF.
OH, AND A LOT OF WINE.

After walking in on her boyfriend shagging another girl in their place, Pippa Bay Cox ditches London for the States to go on a drunken road trip with Ruby Miller and some of her Beautiful friends.

Scaling the career ladder is the default way to deal with heartbreak—and to just deal—for Jensen Bergstrom. Absolutely buried by his drive and workload, he rarely takes time for himself. But when his sister Hanna convinces him to join the gang on a two-week wine tour, he has a rare moment of cutting loose. Of course, it’s only once he’s committed that he realizes the strange girl he met briefly on the plane is coming along, too. She might be too much for him…or he might realize his life has become too small and needs her to make it bigger, crazier.

With this circle of friends there’s always something going on: from Chloe and Sara’s unexpected personality swaps to Will’s new domestic side to Bennett’s text message barrage and George’s own happily-ever-after. In short, their adventures in love, friendship, and hilarity are nothing short of Beautiful.

Now, because this book was the last in the series, the majority of it was about Jensen and Pippa, but the other characters got some page time too. Jensen and Pippa’s romance is a cute one, and it’s one that I enjoyed because the characters ended up balancing each other out so well.

Jensen is all about work, and Pippa is…colour. I think that would be the best way to describe it. She’s not dumb or flighty or anything like that, but she sees the world in loud colours and I liked how she balances out Jensen who if we’re still talking colours would be one shade of grey.

If this was a first book in a series it wouldn’t encourage me to read more of it. It’s not strong enough for that. It’s a cute story, but that’s kind of it. The only reason that it has any kind of punch is because it’s the last one in the series, and readers are brought up to speed on what has been happening to the characters from other books. That’s what sells this book I think. It’s for fans who love the series and love the characters.

Overall, this was a cute story, and I loved being able to catch up with previous characters. An excellent read that was just highly enjoyable.

P.S. I LOVE the covers in this series, and in their other series Wild Seasons. They’re spectacular.

5 Things: Thanksgiving, Family, Shopping Sprees, Volunteering, & Books!

I need to really work on my blog scheduling and getting into better blogging habits because I find that while I was off work, it was (obviously) easier to blog whenever I wanted and I didn’t have to worry too much about planning ahead. Not so the case anymore. Planning and scheduling ahead is now super important otherwise this blog will just fall to the wayside.

So here’s to being proactive which is one of my favourite thoughts that I’ve had this week. But also here are 5 other things that brought me joy this week.

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My cousin Stef and I went out for a sushi lunch last weekend and then ended up going shopping afterwards. It was a rather expensive trip for me – I got new little ankle boots from Spring, a couple of sweaters from Simon’s, a book from Indigo, and then some things from Sephora, including this face cleanser. Stef and I got free facials and I fell in love with the cleanser they used and had to get it.

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This is my Babcie and Mom checking to make sure the turkey is cooked for one of the Thanksgiving dinners that I went to last weekend. So tasty!

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Doug and I at Thanksgiving dinner at my Babcie’s. The family was there to eat good food, and then we watched the Jays game, where the Jays won against Texas. It was epic! The Jays are playing tonight at 8:08 against Cleveland.

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I volunteer with a program at the Toronto Public Library. You get paired up with a little kid and help them practice their reading. The little boy who I’m paired up with is 6 years old, and we started reading Green Eggs and Ham a couple of weeks ago. He ended up checking the book out and last night I found out that he’s read it by himself – twice! This is the thank you card he wrote for me. I’m so proud of him!

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I’m currently reading Searching for Disaster by Jennifer Probst, and to the right is my “up next reading”: The Return of History by Jennifer Welsh, Feminist Fight Club by Jennifer Bennett and The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

Hope that you also had some moments this week that brought you joy!