“The way you spend your days is the way you spend your life.” ― Emma Straub, This Time Tomorrow
It is the eve of her 40th birthday, and Alice’s life is not terrible. She likes her job, even if it is not exactly what she expected. She is happy with her apartment, romantic status, independence, and best friend. But her father is sick, and it feels like something is missing.
When she wakes up the next morning, she finds herself back in 1996, reliving her 16th birthday. Being back in high school shocks her, but what is even more shocking is her dad: the 40-something version of her father. Now, with a new perspective on her life and his, some past events take on new meaning. Is there anything that she would change if she could?
I love how the ‘time travel’ does not give the story science fiction vibes but it enhances the story of Alice’s emotional journey. She struggles with the impending loss of her dad as she reflects on her teenage years.
Straub urges us to realize that what we have now, we will look back on in the future as perfection. This is a story of do-overs. It is a story of loving what you have. When Alice time-travels back to when she was 16, she is blown away at how young her father looked and how healthy he was. She is also shocked that she did not see herself as she was: young, intelligent, and attractive.
It stirs questions in the reader about happiness and the satisfaction level in one’s own life. What would you change in your life if you could? I enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it!
First line: In January 2021, my dad passed away.
Summary: In a collection of short stories, C. J. Tudor gives the readers thrills and chills plus making us think. Ten short stories ranging from apocalyptic to a mysterious graffiti tiger are enough to keep the reader reading but also awake at night.
My Thoughts: This collection was so much FUN!! Each story was different and kept my attention. And some even kept my attention into the night, filling my dreams with nightmares. It was creepy, mysterious and thought provoking. I loved how the author started each story with the inspiration behind the tale. It gave each one a little bit more and an insight into an author’s thought process.
It is hard to choose which one is my favorite because they all had something great to recommend them. But I think some of things that will stick with me the most are the flesh eating butterflies and the humans infested with bugs. Bugs creep me out but this gives my phobia another level to think about. Yuck!
FYI: Do not read before bed. 😉
“He’d always thought that food was a great equalizer, for whatever someone’s creed or race or religion, every person had to eat to survive.”- Jennieke Cohen, My Fine Fellow
It is 1830s England, and culinarians of utmost respect, consult with society’s elite to create gorgeous food and confections. They are the crème de la crème of high society.
Helena is top of her class at the Royal Academy and has a sharp demeanor and an even sharper palate. Penelope wants to show the value of non-European cuisine to all of England. Her peers may scorn her Filipina heritage, but with her flawless social graces and culinary talents, Penelope is set to prove them wrong. Elijah has nothing to his name but an excellent instinct for flavors. London merchants will not allow a Jewish boy to own a shop, but he knows with enough training, he can break into the highest of society.
When Penelope and Helena meet Elijah, a golden opportunity arises: to pull off a project never seen before and turn Elijah from a street vendor to a gentleman chef. But Elijah’s transformation will have a greater impact on this trio than they originally realize—and mayhem, unseemly faux pas, and a little romance will all be a part of the delicious recipe.
Food is a big part of the story, so do not read this book on an empty stomach. You will get hungry! I loved that Penelope was half Filipino, Elijah was Jewish, and that their backgrounds were a central and integral part of the story. The book explored the prejudices that both of them faced. The three main characters were all well-developed. I particularly liked seeing Helena’s character arc unfold and how her actions affected her friendships with Penelope and Elijah.
Since this is a gender-swapped retelling of the movie My Fair Lady, the story is a little predictable and straightforward. There are no big surprises. If you like reading about 1830s England, books about food or enjoyed the movie it is based on, I recommend checking this book out.
First line: Cards on the table: this is not going to be my proudest moment.
Summary: Tom Felton had an unconventional childhood. He started his acting career as a young child in movies such as the The Borrowers but nothing prepared him for life in the world of Harry Potter. In his memoir he describes the highlights as well as the darker moments of life in the spotlight. Working along such legendary actors as Alan Rickman, Dame Maggie Smith and Richard Harris he learned what it was like to be serious about his craft but to have fun while doing it. However, unlike his co-stars he had the chance to live a more normal life as a regular teenager who just happened to be an actor.
My Thoughts: Several months ago I came across this title as I was importing into the library’s catalog. I had no idea that Tom Felton was writing a memoir of his childhood and his time during and after Harry Potter. I was immediately putting my name on the hold list. I could not wait to see what life was like on the set of one of my favorite movie series.
Through this I learned a lot about Tom and his life but there was so much I did not expect. I did not realize that he had been acting for years before landing his role as Draco Malfoy. And that he actually got to live a rather normal life outside of work. That was the part that really shocked me.
But my favorite parts were hearing about his relationships with his cast mates like Alan Rickman and Emma Watson. The relationships between the cast seem to be more family than coworkers.
Tom’s life after Hogwarts was shocking to me. I had not heard about his troubles or just don’t remember seeing the stories. I cannot even imagine how life would change after such a big part of his life. It was heartbreaking to see the changes in him but I found it really brave of him to discuss them and how they made him realize that he needed help.
I would highly recommend this quick biography for any Harry Potter fan. It gives a little insight into the world of the movies and shows the ups and downs of life as a child actor. I have a whole new appreciation for Tom Felton after reading Beyond the Wand.
FYI: Alan Rickman’s diaries have also been published. I am eagerly pouring through them to learn about his life during Harry Potter and his other iconic roles.
“We are all the same in the dark. My mother said that to me when she kissed me good night. She meant that in the dark, all that’s left is our souls.” – Julia Heaberlin, We Are All the Same in the Dark
It has been a decade since Trumanell Branson disappeared, leaving only a bloody handprint behind. Her pretty face still hangs like a watchful queen on the posters on all of the walls in town. They all promise the same thing: We will find you. Meanwhile, her brother, Wyatt, lives in the desolation of the old family house. Although he was found not guilty by the police, he is seen as a killer by the public.
When Wyatt finds a lost girl dumped in a field of dandelions, he believes she is a sign. The youngest cop in town, Odette Tucker, believes this girl will be the flame that will ignite a seething town. Desperate to solve both cases, Odette fights to save the lost girl in the present and digs up the shocking truth about the night her friend disappeared, the night that inspired her to become a cop and the night that wrote them all a role in the town’s dark, violent history.
This is a slow-burn kind of dark mystery, which is creepy in places. It is the kind where you hold your breath in fear because the atmosphere is so intense you could cut it with a knife. It portrays ghostly images and biblical references. The characters are flawed and are far from perfect. With traumatic backgrounds and disabilities, all the characters are well depicted and feel realistic.
The book is full of powerful imagery, and is beautiful in places. The end is unpredictable and not what I expected, which I really like. My only negative is that sometimes the pace drops off. Thankfully, the tempo builds again, and we race towards the conclusion, which ponders on the title and poses further questions about the perpetrators.