Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded

Title: Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded

Author: Hannah Hart

Publisher: Dey Street Books

Release Date: October 2016

Source: Amazon

Rating: 5/5

28217831
By combing through the journals that Hannah has kept for much of her life, this collection of narrative essays deliver a fuller picture of her life, her experiences, and the things she’s figured out about family, faith, love, sexuality, self-worth, friendship and fame.  Revealing what makes Hannah tick, this sometimes cringe-worthy, poignant collection of stories is sure to deliver plenty of Hannah’s wit and wisdom, and hopefully encourage you to try your hand at her patented brand of reckless optimism.

I’m fairly certain that this is the first time I’ve reviewed non-fiction, and not only is this book non-fiction, but it’s an autobiography, which I feel makes it a little weird to review, but I’ll do my best.

I am pretty familiar with Hannah Hart, and watch her and the Holy Trinity religiously on YouTube.  From this alone, I have some general and basic knowledge of who she is and know, from vague allusions, that her life has been a little rocky despite her present-day positive and inspiring persona.  So with that said, I didn’t find her autobiography to be shocking, but I was definitely surprised at the level and amount of hardship, grief and trouble she has lived with and overcome in her lifetime.

As the blurb on the dust jacket reveals, the autobiography tells “tales of family, faith, mental health, LESBIAN SEX, and my ongoing journey to love myself (and not just me selfies.)”  That alone is exemplary of her writing throughout the book.

Hart writes with clarity, honesty, integrity, emotion, and humour, and her voice shines through every piece with hope and faith and inspiration for her readers.  She tackles heavy subjects by telling her story, giving advice, and wishing luck and hope to those struggling with their own issues.  Her goal in writing this autobiography was to build a community wherein no one feels as though they are alone, and I really think this sentiment resonated throughout the book.  Although I may not be dealing with the same issues, I was able to gain insight on my own and really gain perspective in the whole spectrum of it all.

I really liked the addition of her journal entries, pictures and sketches.  I feel like it really added to the work and the message she wanted to get through to the readers.  Her writing is very self-reflective and a look back on her past, so it was interesting to have those aspects and pieces that came from her living through those moments to see how far she has come, how it has shaped her, and what she has learned from those experiences.

Overall, it was a great work.  I highly enjoyed reading Hannah Hart’s autobiography, it just felt real and truthful and genuine.  You can’t really write a review on someone’s life, and I’ve read blurbs on Goodreads of “bad” reviews because of the stories she chose to share.  I can’t wrap my head around those reviews — you can’t review an autobiography based on the life events that the author is sharing with you — because if you’re reviewing an autobiography, it should be based on the quality and effectiveness of the writing and its ability to tell the stories, evoke emotions, and invoke critical thinking.  And, Buffering achieved all of those things and more.

Let me know if you’ve read Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded and if you liked it.  And, don’t forget, practice reckless optimism!

Advertisements

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

Title: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

Author: Katarina Bivald

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Release Date: January 2016

Source: WHSmith

Rating: 4/5

25573977.jpg
Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara, who traveled all the way from Sweden just to meet her pen pal, Amy.  When she arrives, however, she finds that Amy’s funeral has just ended.  Luckily, the townspeople are happy to look after their bewildered tourist — even if they don’t understand her peculiar need for books.  Marooned in a farm town that’s almost beyond repair, Sara starts a bookstore in honor of her friend’s memory.

I had easily been eyeing the display for about ten minutes before realizing I had an hour to kill before catching my train back to Germany from London, so I decided to pop in and take a closer look.  The cover and back blurb won me over immediately and I just as quickly queued up to make my purchase.

Bivald’s novel tells the story of a small American town, practically abandoned and in disrepair, badly needing a lot of care and love.  That’s exactly what Sara brings to Broken Wheel.  She arrives, hoping to meet her elderly pen pal and book exchange partner, in town only to find out her friend had passed away.  Despite the awkwardness of the situation, the town welcomes her anyway, and in return, Sara opens a much needed bookstore to liven up the town of Broken Wheel and its residents.

Although the novel’s main focus is on Sara and her journey to self-discovery and romance, we see the development of many secondary characters.  The beginning of the novel sees residents of Broken Wheel as reclusive, repressed, close-minded, depressed… the list could go on, but as Sara manages to get the bookstore running, we see everyone embark on their own journeys of self-discovery, acceptance and pursuit of happiness.

Overall, I found that Bivald’s writing perfectly handles the mess of characters and the development of tangible sub-plots and backstories, all of which I found to be as equally interesting as Sara’s.  Her writing is strong enough to hold up each story line and keep them moving forward at a good pace, allowing the story to fold naturally rather than force the stories to work together — although a little too cliched at times.  The ending was definitely predictable, but this didn’t hurt my experience of reading the book at all.

The whole bookworm and passion for literature vibe that resonated throughout the book made it extremely enjoyable for me to read.  I feel like I have never related more to any character in a book — her description of books, her love for them, her obsession — I maybe too strongly identify with Sara’s perfect imperfection of liking books more than people, but I’m okay with that.

The novel was a light read, making it the perfect vacation novel.  It has an simple premise, quirky characters, interesting story with a dash of romance.  I’ve already recommended it to a handful of people, all of whom are embarking on their warm getaways to escape the harsh cold and snow of Canada, and I know, despite their varying tastes in literature, they will enjoy this book.

 

Most Anticipated Reads of 2017

A new year means new books, so I’ve been doing a lot of research on new books that will be coming out in 2017.  After burying my nose in Time Magazine, Globe and Mail, and other literature and entertainment sites and papers, I’ve compiled the following list:

27845924

Emma Flint, Little Deaths, January 17

It’s 1965 in a tight-knit working-class neighborhood in Queens, New York, and Ruth Malone–a single mother who works long hours as a cocktail waitress–wakes to discover her two small children, Frankie Jr. and Cindy, have gone missing. Later that day, Cindy’s body is found in a derelict lot a half mile from her home, strangled. Ten days later, Frankie Jr.’s decomposing body is found. Immediately, all fingers point to Ruth.

As police investigate the murders, the detritus of Ruth’s life is exposed. Seen through the eyes of the cops, the empty bourbon bottles and provocative clothing which litter her apartment, the piles of letters from countless men and Ruth’s little black book of phone numbers, make her a drunk, a loose woman–and therefore a bad mother. The lead detective, a strict Catholic who believes women belong in the home, leaps to the obvious conclusion: facing divorce and a custody battle, Malone took her children’s lives.

Pete Wonicke is a rookie tabloid reporter who finagles an assignment to cover the murders. Determined to make his name in the paper, he begins digging into the case. Pete’s interest in the story develops into an obsession with Ruth, and he comes to believe there’s something more to the woman whom prosecutors, the press, and the public have painted as a promiscuous femme fatale. Did Ruth Malone violently kill her own children, is she a victim of circumstance–or is there something more sinister at play?

Inspired by a true story, Little Deaths, like celebrated novels by Sarah Waters and Megan Abbott, is compelling literary crime fiction that explores the capacity for good and evil in us all.

30753698.jpg

 

Jason Rekulak, The Impossible Fortress, February 7

Billy Marvin’s first love was a computer. Then he met Mary Zelinsky.

Do you remember your first love?

The Impossible Fortress begins with a magazine…The year is 1987 and Playboy has just published scandalous photographs of Vanna White, from the popular TV game show Wheel of Fortune. For three teenage boys—Billy, Alf, and Clark—who are desperately uneducated in the ways of women, the magazine is somewhat of a Holy Grail: priceless beyond measure and impossible to attain. So, they hatch a plan to steal it.

The heist will be fraught with peril: a locked building, intrepid police officers, rusty fire escapes, leaps across rooftops, electronic alarm systems, and a hyperactive Shih Tzu named Arnold Schwarzenegger. Failed attempt after failed attempt leads them to a genius master plan—they’ll swipe the security code to Zelinsky’s convenience store by seducing the owner’s daughter, Mary Zelinsky. It becomes Billy’s mission to befriend her and get the information by any means necessary. But Mary isn’t your average teenage girl. She’s a computer loving, expert coder, already strides ahead of Billy in ability, with a wry sense of humor and a hidden, big heart. But what starts as a game to win Mary’s affection leaves Billy with a gut-wrenching choice: deceive the girl who may well be his first love or break a promise to his best friends.

30687236

 

Peter Heller, Celine, March 7

Working out of her jewel box of an apartment at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, Celine has made a career of tracking down missing persons, and she has a better record at it than the FBI. But when a young woman, Gabriela, asks for her help, a world of mystery and sorrow opens up. Gabriela’s father was a photographer who went missing on the border of Montana and Wyoming. He was assumed to have died from a grizzly mauling, but his body was never found. Now, as Celine and her partner head to Yellowstone National Park, investigating a trail gone cold, it becomes clear that they are being followed–that this is a case someone desperately wants to keep closed.

Combining the exquisite plotting and gorgeous evocation of nature that have become his hallmark, with a wildly engrossing story of family, privilege, and childhood loss, Peter Heller gives us his finest work to date.

30658416

 

Emily Schultz, Men Walking on Water, March 21

Men Walking on Water opens on a bitter winter’s night in 1927, with a motley gang of small-time smugglers huddled on the banks of the Detroit River, peering towards Canada on the opposite side. A catastrophe has just occurred: while driving across the frozen water by moonlight, a decrepit Model T loaded with whisky has broken the ice and gone under–and with it, driver Alfred Moss and a bundle of money. From that defining moment, the novel weaves its startling, enthralling story, with the missing man at its centre, a man who affects all the characters in different ways. In Detroit, a young mother becomes a criminal to pay down the debt her husband, assumed dead, has left behind; a Pentecostal preacher brazenly uses his church to fund his own bootlegging operation even as he lectures against the perils of drink; and across the river, a French-Canadian woman runs her booming brothel business with the permission of the powerful Detroit gangsters who are her patrons.

The looming background to this extraordinary story, as compelling as any character, is the city of Detroit–a place of grand dreams and brutal realities in 1927 as it is today, fuelled by capitalist expansion and by the collapse that follows, sitting on the border between countries, its citizens walking precariously across the river between pleasure and abstinence. This is an absolutely stunning, mature, and compulsively readable novel from one of our most talented and unique writers.

32311035.jpg

 

Barbara Gowdy, Little Sister, May 23

Thunderstorms are rolling across the summer sky. Every time one breaks, Rose Bowan loses consciousness and has vivid, realistic dreams about being in another woman’s body.

Is Rose merely dreaming? Or is she, in fact, inhabiting a stranger? Disturbed yet entranced, she sets out to discover what is happening to her. Meanwhile her mother is in the early stages of dementia, and has begun to speak for the first time in decades about Rose’s sister, Ava, who died young.

In Barbara Gowdy’s latest novel, one woman fights to help someone she has never met, and to come to terms with a death for which she always felt responsible. The result is an impassioned exploration of the limits of the human mind, the devastating power of empathy, and the fierce bonds of motherhood and sisterhood.

33151805.jpg

 

Paula Hawkins, Into the Water, May 2

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.

With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.

Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.

You may have noticed that this list only contains novels set to be published between January and May of 2017, that’s because most places only have those titles available.  But, if you’re lucky, and if unlike last year I actually remember to do this, I’ll be writing a part two to this article in the Spring to talk about all the books I can’t wait to read in the second half of 2017.

Happy reading!