Book Review

The Authenticity Project

“Everyone lies about their lives. What would happen if you shared the truth instead? The one thing that defines you, that makes everything else about you fall into place? Not on the internet, but with those real people around you?”-Clare Pooley

I love it when a random book catches my attention and surprises me in the most unexpected ways. The Authenticity Project completely surprised me and left me feeling all kinds of emotions. I absolutely love character driven stories, and this book introduces us to a whole group of characters that I became deeply invested in towards the end. The themes of mental health and authenticity were really well explored through these characters.

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This is a story about a green notebook that brings a group of six strangers together. A word that kept coming to my mind when I was reading this story was serendipity. There were so many cute moments that took place all thanks to a notebook that asked readers to be brave and put their real self forward. It is not hard to imagine that such serendipitous moments could actually happen in real life if we all shared our authentic selves with the world.

I have to say that I absolutely loved each one of these flawed characters. I must also confess that every time I read Monica’s chapter I could not help but imagine the Monica from Friends. Did that happen to anyone else? The author really created an interesting character with Monica. The story she wrote in the green notebook about wishing for her own happily ever after lead to such an incredible chain reaction of events. Through Alice’s story we see the flip side of how the grass may not always be greener on the other side and sometimes happily ever after can look very different from what we imagine.

Hazard was such a complex and interesting character to read about. I’ll admit that I did not much like him in the beginning of the book but he really grew on me by the end. The same could be said about sweet old Julian. His story particularly gutted me and left me wanting to know more. A special shout out to Mrs. Wu and Lizzie. Those two characters were just the cherry on top of this sundae.

My only complaint about this book is that it had to end. I was so invested in all these character’s stories that I just wanted to know more about what happened to them down the line. I was hoping the ending could have given us a sneak peak into the future, but that is just my curiosity and inability to let this story end. I’m really impressed by the overall delivery of the story. It takes a talented writer to pull off having so many characters introduced in the story and making them all memorable. 

Happy Reading!

Book Review

Our Stop by Laura Jane Williams

Thank you to HarperCollins Canada for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I never truly believe stories about meet cutes in the subway because of how much I despise being confined in a small, moving space with other humans. How is it possible to meet your soulmate when you are trying to master the art of staying balanced while summoning all the power not to karate chop the teenager whose schoolbag is lodged in your kidney? And don’t even get me started on the unpleasant odours. So I was pretty hesitant when I heard about this romance that starts off in a subway. However, this one line from the excerpt of “Our Stop” made me laugh and decide to read it:

To the cute girl with the coffee stains on her dress. I’m the guy who’s always standing near the doors… Drink sometime?

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Our Stop is a romantic comedy about an early morning commuter named Daniel who develops a crush on fellow commuter Nadia. The ever so shy Daniel keeps seeing Nadia on the 7:30 am subway and gathers the courage to leave her a message in the London newspaper section called “Missed Connections”. Nadia is curious about this mystery Train Guy and answers back creating a whole chain of events that neither of them saw coming.

Coincidence or Fate:

I am finding that rom coms are spending more time with the idea of fate bringing people together. This was especially true for “Our Stop” as it seemed the entire universe and its inhabitants were working together to have Nadia and Daniel meet. It was as if the universe was pointing big flashy arrows that the characters were not noticing.

Maybe it is my pessimism or cynical ways, but I found some of these coincidences to be a bit far fetched. I kept saying to myself “but really? This wouldn’t happen in real life”. I’m not complaining though. This was a feel good novel and such happy coincidences or serendipitous moments were fun to read. And lets be honest, who doesn’t love the whole stars aligning aspect of rom coms?

Vulnerability:

I think one of my most favorite aspects of this book was the fact that Daniel was not perceived as this macho man who was charming 90% of the time and had his way with the ladies. I loved that he was emotional, grieving and insecure. Many rom coms that I have read tend to paint a picture of the female lead being a hot mess but in a cute way. On the other hand, the male lead is portrayed as having it all together and finding the awkward ways of the female lead to be cute. In time you find out that the male lead does in fact have some insecurities, but they are still depicted as being stereotypically “manly”.

In “Our Stop”, Daniel is a man who is not afraid to admit that he wants to find his soulmate. He grieves for the loss of his father and struggles with panic attacks. He fears putting himself out there and worries his crush will reject him. It was such a breath of fresh air to read about a male character who is not afraid to get in touch with his emotional side and being unapologetic in his quest for love. The world of romance needs more Daniels.

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Overall, this was such a cute and refreshing summer read. I have to say that this book was great for a day of reading under the sun. I miss summer already!

Happy reading bookworms,

Shazia.