Title: seven years: poems on heartbreak and healing
Author: Alyssa Harmon
Publisher: Alyssa Harmon Publishing
Release Date: 11 October 2022
Pages: 121 pages
Source: BookSirens Date Started: September 23rd, 2022 Date Finished: September 23rd, 2022
Happy Publication Day!
Some people say that each cell in your body replaces itself after seven years. At the end of the seven years, you are a physically and mentally new person. “seven years” is Alyssa Harmon’s debut collection of poems on heartbreak and healing. Each chapter represents a new stage in the relationship and healing process, and these poems tell the story of a failed relationship and the healing journey that resulted because of that. If your heart was broken in a way that you’re not sure can be healed, this book is for you.
This poetry book is an excellent collection. It spans over seven years in the healing process after heartbreak. While the themes deal with a failed relationship, I also feel that the poems can apply to loss or the hurdles one faces, though this may not be the intended motivation behind these works. Poetry is so personal and may be interpreted in different ways.
Many poems have intriguing titles inviting you to read them (e.g., kalopsia, calidris, and lacheism.) Others have more straight-forward titles, such as “a halloween nightmare,” and provide interesting stories, some of which I connected with quite a bit.
I recommend looking into the poetry collection, especially if the synopsis calls out to you. You may find it best to read this with a cup of tea and tissues by your side. I also recommend tabbing your kindle e-book or physical copy as you go along for future reference.
Thank you to BookSirens and Alyssa Harmon for a review copy. All opinions are my own.
Source: NetGalley Date Started: September 5th, 2022 Date Finished: September 8th, 2022
Dark Room Etiquette comes out tomorrow!
Sixteen-year-old Sayers Wayte has everything—until he’s kidnapped by a man who tells him the privileged life he’s been living is based on a lie.
Trapped in a windowless room, without knowing why he’s been taken or how long the man plans to keep him shut away, Sayers faces a terrifying new reality. To survive, he must forget the world he once knew, and play the part his abductor has created for him.
But as time passes, the line between fact and fiction starts to blur, and Sayers begins to wonder if he can escape . . . before he loses himself. (Goodreads)
When I sat down to start this book, I knew a couple of things: this is about a sixteen-year-old kidnapped boy told that his former life was all a lie and that he needed to adapt to his new environment to survive. I thought I came prepared for the emotions I would feel along this journey – I was not.
First, the book is unsettling. Even before the kidnapping, I felt uneasy due to conflicting emotions. Sayers is a highly complex character; you see his weakness, strengths, and humanity. Presented as a teenager from an incredibly wealthy background, I appreciated how his privilege impacts his behaviour at school and with his family and friends.
Secondly, Sayers has to adapt to survive, and how he does so impacted me immensely. As the plot progressed, I could appreciate how a knowledge base and background research would be essential to write this story. The book presented some theories in psychology that impacted Sayers in the story, some he recalls later on.
Third, many characters were multi-dimensional – you could see a clear contrast between their personalities at the beginning and end of the book. In fact, some characters were almost unrecognizable by the end and others, such as Garrett, were static. Sayers’ personality experienced many changes; some of the directions his mind went brought me to tears.
Finally, I like that this was a story not just of the event – the kidnapping, but responses to trauma and the aftermath. Learning to cope in an abusive environment was Sayers’ key to survival. Sadly, the intense trauma he faced hindered him in some very unexpected and heartbreaking ways. At several points, I desperately wanted to plead with Sayers on what he should do – I can imagine other readers having the same response.
Please review the content warnings before reading this book. This book is such a memorable, emotional, and intense read. It is my first time reading the author’s works and I look forward to reading many more!
Thank you to NetGalley, Robin Roe, and HarperTeen for providing this review copy. All opinions are my own.
Hi everyone! Here is our September Reading Wrap-Up! September was a good reading month with lots of 4 star reviews, and some 5 stars as well. As many of you know, I had a back injury in September, so reading some good books was a must for me this past month!
Olivia and I decided to read lots of fast/medium-paced books with emotion, adventure, and mystery! Generally speaking, that is our vibe during the fall months, so not too surprised! Some books were dark and tense, again, what I would expect to see during Autumn since I love thrillers. We also had some cozy reads, too (not shown on graph, but you’ll definitely find some in our ratings slides).
During Autumn, we love to read fiction – I think it’s the upcoming whimsical vibes in the air that does it for us! And most books were above 300 pages. I’m very happy about that.
This month, we hosted the Hello Autumn/Hello Spring Readathon which was a blast! And we managed to read 5 arcs. Unfortunately, we were not able to do our TBR game (filming was just not in the cards for me this month due to the injury). But we managed to get some 5 star reads this month!
Below, you’ll find our reading wrap-up and mini reviews. Ratings are rounded either up or down (E.g., a 4.5 star rating = 5 stars on sites that use whole numbers or for infographics.) There are still a few upcoming full reviews to come, so look out for those!
Reading Wrap-Up and Mini Reviews
Book Cover images link to Goodreads. Highlighted Book Titles link to book reviews. Content Warnings link to The Storygraph, if available. Books with an “NG” were from NetGalley & “B” were from Booksirens in exchange for an honest review – all opinions are my own.
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi, Mattias Ripa (Translator) Published: June 1st, 2004 (5 stars) I’m so thankful this book exists. I learned so much about the Iranian revolution and the social impacts it had on daily life and as a whole. It has humour, joy, love, and heartbreak. Definitely recommend this one, I really loved learning about Marjane and her family as well and enjoyed the illustrations so much. Graphic Novel, Nonfiction. Content Warnings.
The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D. Jackson. Published: September 6th, 2022. (4.5 stars) I don’t think there’s a book by Tiffany D. Jackson I haven’t enjoyed. This one is no exception – The Weight of Blood is such an amazing Carrie retelling, one I enjoy even more than the original story. It highlights important social issues and racism while giving us a fantastic, layered story. There are numerous perspectives and timelines. Definitely check out the content warnings, but I highly recommend this book. YA, Horror, Thriller, Retelling. Content Warnings.
Dark Room Etiquette by Robin Roe. Release Date: October 11th, 2022. (4.5 stars) This book is highly unsettling as it shows teenager named Sayers and his struggle to stay alive after being kidnapped as well as the trauma that takes hold on his life. It’s such an emotional, memorable, and intense read that I highly recommend it; please take note of the content warnings due to the subject matter. YA, Thriller, Horror. (NG) Content Warnings. Full review to come.
Séance Tea Party by Reimena Yee. Published: September 15th, 2020. (4.25 stars). Oh, was this ever cute! I honestly loved the illustrations in this book so much. They were warm, cozy, and had all the Autumn vibes you could ever hope for. The story was very cute, and I definitely recommend it. Middle Grade, Graphic Novel, Fantasy. Content Warnings.
Seven Years: Poems on Heartbreak and Healing by Alyssa Harmon Release Date: October 11th, 2022. (4 stars). This was a lovely collection of poems by Alyssa Harmon that span over 7 years, during which the synopsis notes that the body regenerates. I feel that this collection will definitely resonate with many readers and recommend it. Poetry. (B)
Bait and Witch (Witch Way Librarian Mysteries #1) by Angela M. Sanders Published: September 15th, 2020. (4 stars). I love a cozy mystery – and this one has cats and witchcraft – purrfect combination! I listened to the audiobook and read the physical copy, both of which are great. I am definitely looking forward to reading more of this series. Cozy Mystery. Content Warnings.
Witches of Brooklyn (Witches of Brooklyn #1) by Sophie Escabasse. Release Date: September 1st, 2020. (4 stars). I thought this was a fun graphic novel about our main character, Effie, who must live with her aunts and discovers she’s a witch! The book gave me Sabrina The Teenage Witch vibes, especially the episode where Sabrina meets Britney Spears! But it’s completely distinct and has its own cute story. Enjoyed it! Middle Grade, Fantasy. Content Warnings.
The Family Remains (The Family Upstairs #2) by Lisa Jewell. Release Date: August 9th, 2022. (3 stars). This was a bit of a disappointment for me! I was hoping to absolutely be thrilled by this book, however the story really didn’t do it for me. I think that the crafting of the book was excellent, though. Classic Lisa Jewell. Mystery, Thriller. Content Warnings.
The Lost Witch by H.L. MacFarlane. Release Date: December 27th, 2022. (3 stars). Overall, I think this is a good story. The prologue and earlier chapters hooked me. I was fascinated to learn more about Brigid, Knightly, Dove, and others. As the book progressed, especially in the middle third, it became challenging to understand what was happening. Fortunately, in later chapters, the narration improved for me. I would recommend this to readers interested in a mixture between fantasy and romance; however, be wary if any of the points mentioned are an issue. Fantasy, Romance, Paranormal. (NG) Content Warnings. Full review to come.
Source: Chapters Indigo Date Started: October 3rd, 2022 Date Finished: October 4th, 2022
Taken from their families when they are very small and sent to a remote, church-run residential school, Kenny, Lucy, Clara, Howie and Maisie are barely out of childhood when they are finally released after years of detention.
Alone and without any skills, support or families, the teens find their way to the seedy and foreign world of Downtown Eastside Vancouver, where they cling together, striving to find a place of safety and belonging in a world that doesn’t want them. The paths of the five friends cross and crisscross over the decades as they struggle to overcome, or at least forget, the trauma they endured during their years at the Mission. (Goodreads)
This book is a highly impactful and emotional story of five residential school survivors. It has won numerous awards, including Canada Reads (2022), Governor General’s Literary Award (2020), and the First Novel Award (2021).
Through the years, we follow the impact of trauma on each of the children and the difficulty they face overcoming the burdens inflicted on them while at the residential school.
Multiple timelines and perspectives are present, providing an overall sense of the depth and course of intergenerational trauma.
Moments of joy and humour are also present throughout, as are deep friendships and relationships. I especially loved the bond formed between Clara, Mariah and her dear pup, John Lennon.
I highly recommend this book; however, please read the content warnings linked below beforehand. I also suggest reading this book with a notepad at your side to jot down reflections along the way.
Source: NetGalley Date Started: Sep 20th, 2022 Date Finished: Sept 23rd, 2022
Description (from Goodreads)
Veterinarian and animal lover Kara Ingalls needs a Christmas miracle. Opening the Meow and Furrever Cat Café to find loving homes for adorable, adoptable cats was a dream come true—but with more cats than customers, it’s quickly turning into a nightmare. If Kara can’t figure out some way to get the café out of the red, it won’t last past the holidays.
Marketing guru Ben Reese may be annoyingly smart and frustratingly bossy, but when he hatches a plan to put the café in the “green” by Christmas, Kara realizes that she’d be a fool to turn down his help. And so what if he turns out to be an excellent problem solver and nerdy-hot—he can’t even handle fostering one little kitten. She needs to keep their relationship professional and focus on saving the cafe.
But if Ben and Kara can set aside their differences—and find homes for all the cats by Christmas—they might discover that, by risking their hearts, they’ll have their own purr-fect holiday . . . together.
My cat Olivia and I were looking forward to this book as it was a romance during Christmas featuring cats!
However, unfortunately I felt the romance fell pretty flat as did the plot. I think this would have benefitted from more editing and care into formulating characters/names/descriptions/etc. The resolution of the book, as well, left me feeling underwhelmed.
We really enjoyed the cafe, the cats, and the fundraising ideas. Chaos was such a cool cat to learn about!
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an advanced review copy- all opinions are my own.
We are behind on comments – catching up this week!
Olivia Update 🐾
October is Olivia’s favourite time of year. She has a few orange/black/white collars for her, but we reserve her Bat collar for the 1st and 31st of October!
Olivia may need a bit of a bib trim since the collar, when positioned properly, is simply covered by fluff. But! For the majority of the month, she will be wearing her candy corn/pumpkin collar since that one is her purrsonal favourite. Super cozy and fashionable.
Physiotherapy has been going well! My back pain is nearly gone and the exercises I’ve been doing have now incorporated some resistance training. It’s been easy for me adhere to doing my exercises daily, I just need to be more consistent with walking so I’ll look for some good audiobooks and podcasts. If you have any recs, let me know!
Shows We’ve Been Watching:
Rings of Power. Last episode was not my fav, but overall enjoying this series.
The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5. What an intense last episode! Also, I’m pretty sure I’m due for a reread of the original HMT and The Testaments.
Sandman. I feel pretty meh about this one.
We now have a Kindle and a Kobo!
This week we completed 2 books!
Witches of Brooklyn by Sophie Escabasse. So cute! This graphic novel was a lot of fun. I enjoyed the concept and am looking forward to reading book two!
Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson. Wow, was this ever an amazing book. Definitely check out my book review and see if it’s a book you’d like to add to your TBR!
Source: Overdrive Recommended by: Bookstagram Date Started: Sep 28th, 2022 Date Finished: Oct 1st, 2022
I’ve provided the synopsis below for those who would benefit from a synopsis, but I actually recommend going into this knowing as little as possible! Except for perhaps the content warnings, if needed.
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
We can’t choose what we inherit. But can we choose who we become? In present-day California, Eleanor Bennett’s death leaves behind a puzzling inheritance for her two children, Byron and Benny: a black cake, made from a family recipe with a long history, and a voice recording. In her message, Eleanor shares a tumultuous story about a headstrong young swimmer who escapes her island home under suspicion of murder. The heartbreaking tale Eleanor unfolds, the secrets she still holds back, and the mystery of a long-lost child challenge everything the siblings thought they knew about their lineage and themselves.
Can Byron and Benny reclaim their once-close relationship, piece together Eleanor’s true history, and fulfill her final request to “share the black cake when the time is right”? Will their mother’s revelations bring them back together or leave them feeling more lost than ever?
Charmaine Wilkerson’s debut novel is a story of how the inheritance of betrayals, secrets, memories, and even names can shape relationships and history. Deeply evocative and beautifully written, Black Cake is an extraordinary journey through the life of a family changed forever by the choices of its matriarch.
Wow! this was a highly impactful and near-perfect read for me. Exactly the type of book I reserve my five-star ratings for.
Black Cake is told in a complex manner with numerous timelines and perspectives, divulging secrets the entire way through. Pair that with the central role of the black cake, layers of secrets are blended together and revealed in a satisfying way. I couldn’t stop reading the book.
I highly recommend it! This book will take you from the seashore of the Caribbean across continents, decades, and even centuries. Excellent.
(Apologies, this review is brief to prevent myself from divulging spoilers!)
This Book in Three Words
Protecting the ones you love
Learning about indigenous food, food culture, and history.