Book Review: A New Model by Ashley Graham

new model

Reviewed by: Savannah
Genre: Biography
Format: Hardcover
Page count: 224 Pages
Rating: 4/5 stars
In stock: Yes

I haven’t really followed Ashley Graham much I just knew about her, but when I saw that we had her biography in store I knew that I had to read it. The little that I knew about Ashley Graham was just that she’s an extremely positive person. This book was pretty much what I had expected and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I’ll let you read the Goodreads synopsis real quick:

“One of the most outspoken voices gracing the cover of magazines today encourages women to be their most confident selves, recognize their personal beauty, and reach for their highest dreams in this wise, warm, and inspiring memoir

Voluptuous beauty Ashley Graham has been modeling professionally since the age of thirteen. Discovered at a shopping mall in Nebraska, her stunning face and sexy curves have graced the covers of top magazines, including Cosmopolitan and British Vogue, and she was the first size 14 model to appear on the front of the wildly popular Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. The face of brands such as H&M Studio, she is also a judge for the latest season of America’s Next Top Model. And that’s only the beginning for this extraordinary talent.

Ashley is leading a new generation of women breaking ground and demolishing stereotypes, transforming our ideals about body image and what is fashionable and beautiful. A woman who proves that when it comes to beauty, size is just a number, she is the voice for the body positivity movement today and a role model for all women—no matter their individual body type, shape, or weight.

In this collection of insightful, provocative essays illustrated with a dozen photos, Ashley shares her perspective on how ideas around body image are evolving—and how we still have work to do; the fun—and stress—of a career in the fashion world; her life before modeling; and her path to accepting her size without limiting her dreams—defying rigid industry standards and naysayers who told her it couldn’t be done. As she talks about her successes and setbacks, Ashley offers support for every woman coming to terms with who she is, bolster her self-confidence, and motivates her to be her strongest, healthiest, and most beautiful self.”

At times this book read a bit like a self help book because it is so body positive and gives such a realistic take on how everyone has ‘good’ and ‘bad’ days as to how they see themselves.

I also enjoyed how down to earth she comes across in the book. We all know the stereotype of models all being stuck up jerks, but Ashley Graham does not come across this way. She seems to be very genuine and caring. It seems to be very clear that fame and all of her success hasn’t gone to her head. She also seems to realize just how lucky she is and that not many people get the opportunities in life that she has had.

I will say however, if you are looking for a very deep tell all type of biography this book is not the right choice for you. Some of the anecdotes in this story are very ‘surface level’ I found at least, dealing more so with what happened and not too dramatic. Some of them did go a bit deeper. But nothing really shocked me like some biographies out there. All in all, I would recommend this book; it was a really fast light read. I managed to read it all in about a day.

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Book Review: Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

furiously happy

Reviewed by: Steph
Genre: Biography
Format: Paperback
Page count: 304 Pages
Rating: 5/5 stars
In stock: Yes

As per the usual Bookland book review format, I’ll hook you guys up with a  Goodread’s synopsis of this exceptionally hilarious biography:

“In Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson baffled readers with stories about growing up the daughter of a taxidermist. In her new book, Furiously Happy, Jenny explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. And terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.

According to Jenny: “Some people might think that being ‘furiously happy’ is just an excuse to be stupid and irresponsible and invite a herd of kangaroos over to your house without telling your husband first because you suspect he would say no since he’s never particularly liked kangaroos. And that would be ridiculous because no one would invite a herd of kangaroos into their house. Two is the limit. I speak from personal experience. My husband says that none is the new limit. I say he should have been clearer about that before I rented all those kangaroos.””

This book absolutely blew me away. I had been recommended this book by a few people, and to be honest, for no reason other than the fact that a book has never made me audibly laugh out loud, I had low expectations. I’m so furiously incredibly happy that this book exists to prove me wrong! I did listen to the audiobook, and I feel like that added a more hilarious aspect – Jenny Lawson, reading her own life stories, and adding the inflections at the right moments – especially when referring to her taxidermied raccoons, among other things.

The stories in this book are an eclectic collection – most are hilarious, involving Jenny dressing up her cats, or traversing the world and wanting to be social, but also equally wanting to stay indoors and hide from society (and I mean honestly, same). Other stories of hers explain the everyday struggles she faces with her mental illnesses, and while they may be dark, she discusses these struggles with unbelievable insight, and it’s very relatable from many aspects.

The main thing that I found extremely inspiring about Furiously Happy is that despite dealing with depression, anxiety, and so on, Jenny carries such optimism with her at all times, and pushes through that pain and is able to maintain her humour. The fact that she explains how hard it is some days to get out of bed, and socialize brings light and information to those mental illnesses, which I find equally as important.

Overall, this book is a must read for any age. Her humour is timeless and Jenny Lawson is applicable on so many levels. The only thing I would be wary of is if you’re reading this in public – you might laugh uncontrollably like a maniac, like I did (unless you want to follow Jenny Lawson’s and be furiously, and dangerously happy, then maybe you should just go for it).

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Book Review: Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari



Reviewed by: Josie
Genre: Humour
Format: Softcover
Page count: 288 Pages
Rating: 5/5 stars
In stock: Yes

“Today we’ve become far more accepting of alternative lifestyles, and people move in and out of different situations: single with roommates, single and solo, single with partner, married, divorced, divorced and living with an iguana, remarried with iguana, then divorced with seven iguanas because your iguana obsession ruined your relationship, and, finally, single with six iguanas (Arturo was sadly run over by an ice cream truck).”
― Aziz Ansari, Modern Romance: An Investigation

This book is truly breath-taking. This book puts the entire subject of romance in a modern ways (As if you couldn’t tell that by the title). Azisi and his trusty team of sociologists, anthropologists, and cultrualists (is this a word? Well, it is now), examine the modernization of romance. From how technology has shaped it, apps have revolutionized it, and cultures embrace it (for the most part). This book isn’t exclusive to American culture, as it examines:  Japanese culture  and how most men are classifies as ‘herbivores’, French culture and the acceptance of mistresses, and lastly Buenos Aires, where men are encouraged to ‘hunt’ women, and as a game.

Azisi weaves together humor, science, and sociology into a beautiful picture: an understanding of what modern romance actually is. I would recommend this book to anyone, as an easy read, informational read, and humorous read. This book is truly enjoyable, and I would class it as a must read fiction for any die hard romantic, or anyone fallen victim to using online dating sites (no shame if you do). Aziz does a wonderful job to ensure the reader understands all sides of modern romance, thus making it an enjoyable read from start to finish.

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Book Review: Ghost Boy by Martin Pistorius

ghost boy

Reviewed by: Steph
Genre: Biography
Format: Softcover
Page count: 304 Pages
Rating: 3/5 stars
In stock: Yes

Before I dive into my thoughts on this biography, as per usual, here’s a summarized Goodread’s synopsis on the book:

“In January 1988 Martin Pistorius, aged twelve, fell inexplicably sick. First he lost his voice and stopped eating. Then he slept constantly and shunned human contact. Doctors were mystified. Within eighteen months he was mute and wheelchair-bound. Martin’s parents were told an unknown degenerative disease left him with the mind of a baby and less than two years to live.

[…]Ghost Boy is the heart-wrenching story of one boy’s return to life through the power of love and faith. In these pages, readers see a parent’s resilience, the consequences of misdiagnosis, abuse at the hands of cruel caretakers, and the unthinkable duration of Martin’s mental alertness betrayed by his lifeless body.”
What immediately piqued my interest about this book was Martin’s unexplainable illness, and the horrifying idea that he was trapped inside his own body. The thought of being trapped inside of your own body is terrifying. As the story goes on, you learn that Martin carries on through this journey with strength and passion. I admired his perseverance despite all of the large obstacles that had laid in front of him. His story gave you hope for his recovery, and every time Martin had a success or a failure, you really felt his struggles as if you were there experiencing it alongside him.


I also really enjoyed the fact that Martin didn’t cut out any details – some parts of this book were a bit graphic, but given the fact that he was wheelchair bound, sometimes the facts were, well, unavoidable. I can imagine that giving light to living with disabilities, degenerative diseases, or whatever one can deal with that leaves them mute and powerless to move, is nothing but helpful, educational, and very important for society to read and understand.

The only idea that I didn’t immediately click with in this biography was how Martin heavily relied on his faith to get him through his life challenges. However, despite my own personal views, he describes and talks about his faith in an incredible way; I would imagine that most, if not anybody of any faith could relate to Martin’s faith and how it helps and encourages him to push through the obstacles that lay before him.


All in all, if you want a powerful, motivating, and very personal read, then I would definitely recommend Ghost Boy. His journey explains in detail how he got from point A to point B; it is definitely very empowering. It allows us to feel as if our problems are null, and that anything is possible if you believe enough.

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Book Review: Company Town by Madeline Ashby


Reviewed by: Savannah
Genre: Fiction
Format: Softcover
Page count: 288 Pages
Rating: 4/5 stars
In stock: Yes

I did it guys! I read the entire Short list of Canada Reads for this year! So this will be my last review of the Canada Reads 2017 books. I actually really enjoyed this book and read through it really fast. Although I’m really not sure how it relates to the theme of the year. But before I get ahead of myself I’ll give you the Goodreads synopsis,

Meet Hwa. One of the few in her community to forego bio-engineered enhancements, she’s the last truly organic person left on the rig. But she’s an expert in the arts of self-defence, and she’s been charged with training the Family’s youngest, who has been receiving death threats – seemingly from another timeline.

Meanwhile, a series of interconnected murders threatens the city’s stability – serial killer? Or something much, much worse…?”

This book is a dystopian future type of book, I really don’t know why but I was feeling some Divergent vibes even though they are nothing alike. I found that this book didn’t relate to the theme that much; there were small details that Canadians could learn from, but nothing too extreme. It was still a really good book and if the synopsis sounds interesting I would definitely say to check it out.

I found the idea of having bio-engineered people very interesting and I guess we’ll have to wait and see if/when that ever happens. Sounds like it won’t go too terribly when it does happen.

I’m honestly not too huge of a science fiction fan so despite the total sci-fi vibes from the book I still really enjoyed it as it’s an enjoyable mix of that and murder mystery as well.

Hwa, the main character is an extremely likeable character too as she’s brave, shows emotion, and isn’t afraid to be herself. Not to mention how physically strong she is. (I mean obviously, she is a bodyguard) Also, yay for such a diverse character, being a WOC and having a disability! We all know that reading diversely and having diverse characters is very important. It was refreshing to read about such an amazing woman. Also, such a small side note but there is a part where Hwa gets her period and ITS SUPER REALISTIC! She talks about her cramps being the worst but still continues to do her job and make sure that when needs to get done does. Honestly, I think I might have to look into more of Madeline Ashby’s work as she wrote such an amazing character I’d love to read more like it.


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Book Review: The Right To Be Cold by Sheila Watt-Cloutier

brrReviewed by: Savannah
Genre: Biography
Format: Softcover
Page count:  368 Pages
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
In stock: Yes

Now I’m just going to start off with a little disclaimer about my review. I kind of feel awkward reviewing biographies because who am I to say that someone’s life isn’t ‘good enough’ for my taste so this review isn’t too in depth. Now that that’s out of the way I’ll hook you up with the Goodread’s synopsis,

“The Arctic ice is receding each year, but just as irreplaceable is the culture, the wisdom that has allowed the Inuit to thrive in the Far North for so long. And it’s not just the Arctic. The whole world is changing in dangerous, unpredictable ways. Sheila Watt-Cloutier has devoted her life to protecting what is threatened and nurturing what has been wounded. In this culmination of Watt-Cloutier’s regional, national, and international work over the last twenty-five years, The Right to Be Cold explores the parallels between safeguarding the Arctic and the survival of Inuit culture, of which her own background is such an extraordinary example. This is a human story of resilience, commitment, and survival told from the unique vantage point of an Inuk woman who, in spite of many obstacles, rose from humble beginnings in the Arctic to become one of the most influential and decorated environmental, cultural, and human rights advocates in the world.”

This is the fourth book I have read and reviewed for the 2017 Canada Reads shortlist. I have to admit that I did have a slight struggle trying to read and complete this book as most of it read like a textbook with so many facts and references. Which isn’t a bad thing at all; I just found it hard to get through as I’m not as pulled into non-fiction as I find I am by fiction. I also know that I didn’t absorb about half of the facts that I should have from reading it. But I’ll probably receive points for at least attempting, maybe, so thank you Canada Reads.

I did however, find that despite it being a biography it really wasn’t as personal as I’d have liked. Anytime a personal story came up it was either dry or just very vague and impersonal. Especially for a book all about putting human faces on the climate change issue; it just didn’t give enough of a personal story to it, in my opinion. It is still however a really important book to read as it is about climate change which is very real and scary issue, so I feel bad giving it such a low rating.

Overall, I found the book to be decent and had a very important message but there were too many facts and not enough ‘story’. The main message was really important and good to hear but it did slightly get lost in all of the facts and the textbook feel to the book. I will admit that it is definitely not in my top picks so far for Canada Reads this year. All the power to you though if you do decide to try to conquer this book.



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Book Review: Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis

bark bark

Reviewed by: Savannah
Genre: Fiction
Format: Softcover
Page count: 160 Pages
Rating: 4/5 stars
In stock: Yes

I really enjoyed this book and it was a very quick read which I definitely always appreciate. This book is, as the title implies about fifteen dogs. But if you were hoping for a more in depth synopsis I will include, like always, the Goodreads one:

” I wonder”, said Hermes, “what it would be like if animals had human intelligence.”
” I’ll wager a year’s servitude, answered Apollo, that animals – any animal you like – would be even more unhappy than humans are, if they were given human intelligence.”

And so it begins: a bet between the gods Hermes and Apollo leads them to grant human consciousness and language to a group of dogs overnighting at a Toronto vet­erinary clinic. Suddenly capable of more complex thought, the pack is torn between those who resist the new ways of thinking, preferring the old ‘dog’ ways, and those who embrace the change. The gods watch from above as the dogs venture into their newly unfamiliar world, as they become divided among themselves, as each struggles with new thoughts and feelings. Wily Benjy moves from home to home, Prince becomes a poet, and Majnoun forges a relationship with a kind couple that stops even the Fates in their tracks.

André Alexis’s contemporary take on the apologue offers an utterly compelling and affecting look at the beauty and perils of human consciousness. By turns meditative and devastating, charming and strange, Fifteen Dogs shows you can teach an old genre new tricks.”

First off, I shall review the physical book, because that seems to be my thing now? The book is not bound very tightly so it doesn’t feel like the spine needs to be cracked when reading it. Although the pages don’t really just fall open. The actual pages though, are what I would like to discuss. They have such a new texture that I’ve never encountered before. It was very intriguing as it’s bumpy but smooth.

If you like dogs you will probably really enjoy this book, as it’s about dogs and gives an interesting insight into dog’s minds, even with human intelligence. If that isn’t enough of a selling point then I don’t really know what else to say…

This book does get kind of sad as all of the dogs do die (spoiler but not because it’s the premise of the book) and you may or may not be feeling the Marley and Me feels. So just be warned that you may or may not end up feeling feels, I don’t know how emotional you are.

In a sense this book is pretty metaphorical, as the author makes a lot of points about humans and ‘the human condition’ but obviously adapted into dog ways. For example, there are a whole group of dogs who don’t like the adjustment and just continue to try to live as ‘normal dogs’ and have strong opinions as to how all the dogs should live. Just as there are groups of people out there who say all humans should live a certain way. But overall, this book was really good and I won’t be mad if it wins Canada Reads 2017. It was a delightful read and had some good messages in it.

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