The Humans by Matt Haig 📚 BOOK REVIEW

My thoughts on The Humans by Matt Haig 📚

I read a paperback version of The Humans.

Matt Haig

Genre: Science fiction, Contemporary Fiction

Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd.

Originally published: May 9th, 2013

Pages: 320 (paperback)

Audiobook length: 8 Hours 10 Minutes

Blurb by the publisher:

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME. OR IS THERE? 

After an ‘incident’ one wet Friday night where he is found walking naked through the streets of Cambridge, Professor Andrew Martin is not feeling quite himself. Food sickens him. Clothes confound him. Even his loving wife and teenage son are repulsive to him. He feels lost amongst an alien species and hates everyone on the planet. Everyone, that is, except Newton, and he’s a dog. 

Who is he really? And what could make someone change their mind about the human race . . . ? 

My thoughts:

The first time I got to enjoy Matt Haig’s writing was when I found How to Stop Time at an airport while traveling, and that one was told so brilliantly that I knew that Matt Haig would potentially be another author to add to my favorites list. But before he could end up on that list, I had to find out if it was just the one book that I enjoyed, or if it was his writing and storytelling that would captivate me more than once.

So, when I saw The Humans while I was on another trip (maybe Matt’s books and I are destined to be travel buddies?), I had to give it a go.

The Humans is one of those books that got my attention not just because of the author, but also because it just sounded magically quirky and just up my alley. What can I say? I love weird books!

Little did I know just how weird and wonderful it would turn out to be, and what a special place in my reader’s heart it would find.

In the very beginning of the story, we find out that Andrew Martin’s body has been occupied by an alien (so not really a spoiler), and what I thought would be a big mystery of why Martin had changed, was more a wonderful story of an alien trying to navigate itself on earth.

The best thing about this story is definitely how the alien experience and reacts to the utterly weird things that we humans do. I laughed out loud and almost felt a little embarrassed when recognizing some of the human actions for just how weird they are.

There were so many moments where I thought to myself: “Yep. We do that and it’s so stupid!”.

Matt Haig touches on a lot of the ways we humans seem to be unable to change, how we can be way too self-destructive, but also the wonderful little things that make us the weird humans that we are.

This is the true magic of The Humans and what made it such a unique and wonderful read.

There are other elements to the plotline that makes this story a quick and exciting read. The alien’s mission is definitely one that makes it into a pageturner.

So, the big question is: did Matt Haig make it to the favorite authors list?

Absolutely!!

If you’re looking for a different kind of science fiction read, I would highly recommend The Humans.

 Click on the Bookdepository banner below to get your own copy with free shipping, make up your own mind, and let me know what you think of it💛

Penpal by Dathan Auerbach 📚 BOOK REVIEW

My review of Penpal by Dathan Auerbach

I read a Kindle edition of Penpal.

Dathan Auerbach

Genre: Horror

Publisher: 1000vultures

Originally published: June, 2012

Pages: 252 (paperback)

Blurb by the publisher:

In an attempt to make sense of his own mysterious and unsettling childhood memories, a man begins to reconstruct his past. As the games and adventures of his youth become engulfed by a larger story, he finds that it forms a tapestry of unbelievable horror that he never could have expected. Each chapter completes a different piece of the puzzle for both you and the narrator, and by the end of it all, you will wish that you could forget what he never knew. 

My thoughts:

Penpal is a book that I’ve seen pop up from time to time as a recommended horror novel, and I downloaded it to my kindle years ago, and then I kind of forgot about it. Then when I was traveling to Bucharest, I packed my Kindle with me, and I was scrolling through my library. There it was, and I was intrigued once again.

We meet our protagonist (who remains nameless throughout the book) when he’s grown up and is looking back on certain mysterious and creepy events that happened to him, his family and friends while growing up.

Every chapter of this book really does feel like a puzzle piece that slowly but surely makes a complete and horrific picture.

We get the sense of the protagonist being stalked very early on in the book, but it’s not until the final pieces of the puzzle is put into place that the reader is actually able to paint the whole picture, and understand just how creepy and sad this story actually is.

I found Penpal to be horror perfection for my taste, and I really liked the fact that the protagonist remains unnamed throughout the whole story. It kind of adds to the mystery of it all.

The voice of the character portraits the mind of a young boy as well as an adult man looking back on his life. It’s an interesting concept to look at events like the ones in this story through the eyes of a child. One that the world has yet to be tainted by all the evil that is happening in the world.

Auerbach has built up a great story with a good pace that instantly grabbed a hold of me as a reader and took me on a journey of stalker creepiness where I thought I had an idea of what was going on, but it was hard to know for sure.

It’s hard to say much more about this story without spoiling it, so I won’t.

I loved this story, and I highly recommend it to the horror lovers out there who haven’t read it yet!

 Click on the Bookdepository banner below to get your own copy with free shipping, make up your own mind, and let me know what you think of it💛

Here’s what I think about mornings!

Most days I wake up with sleep still lingering in my eyes, and my body feeling heavy from the trip back from dreamland and into reality. But I also wake up being grateful for the fact that I get another day. I’m usually excited about what’s to come.

It took me a lot of years to realize that every morning is a new beginning. And every day is an opportunity for anything to happen.

On the days that I have to leave early for work, it makes me extra happy to see the sun come through my window to greet me. I’m not saying that I wouldn’t love to stay in bed for a few more hours, but when I actually do get up, it’s rare that I do so without a hint of a smile on my face, even though it is a sleepy one.

On the weekends, I love waking up to the sound of rain. Knowing that I have nowhere to rush off to. I can turn up the music, dance around in my pj’s and just enjoy the moment. Or, I can crawl out of bed, get comfy with a book on my couch and just stay there. Sometimes I even go so far that I get out of bed to make my morning coffee, just to bring it back into bed and stay there for as long as I feel like it. Because even though I love new experiences and adventures, I also love to spend a day doing absolutely nothing remotely productive at times. Well, except for reading of course. And that in itself is kind of like going on an adventure. So maybe they’re not so far apart after all.

During the summer I like to bring my morning coffee outside, together with some fresh fruit, and just sit and listen to the birds. It’s a wonderful thing to just enjoy the morning as a new beginning to what is yet unknown.

I like to think about what I am grateful for in the morning. If I have the time, I will write down five things that I am grateful for in my journal. If I’ve snoozed for too long, I try to make a mental list instead.

Those are most of my days. But there are other days. Other mornings. Once in a while, I will wake up and feel overwhelmed by the world. On those days the morning does not feel like an exciting start to a new adventure. On those days it feels like the morning is a heavy demon that sits on my chest and refuses to move. I can ask it nicely, scream at it, fight it, but it just won’t budge. It will stay put, looking down at me and start whispering all the things I don’t want to hear.

Those days are hard. Getting out of bed is a challenge on days like that.

Whether you’ve experienced the same thing or not, I just want you to know that it’s okay to have tough mornings as well as the good ones. Life is hard. It’s challenging and it will test us. Not every morning can be filled with singing birds and gratitude lists. Some mornings will suck, and that’s okay. Don’t let it get to you. Don’t let the bad days define you.

But I’m also here to remind you to be extra mindful of both the good and the bad mornings. Take notice of your feelings, and of what is going on in your life. Listen to your body, and to your inner voice.

Cherish the good morning! Learn from the bad ones ❤️

The Valkyries by Paulo Coelho 📚 BOOK REVIEW

My review of The Valkyries by Paulo Coelho.

I read a paperback version of The Valkyries.

Paulo Coelho

Genre: Contemporary fiction, fiction

Publisher: HarperCollins

Originally published: 1988

Pages: 256 (paperback)

Audiobook length: 5 Hours 10 Minutes

Blurb by the publisher:

This is a modern-day adventure story featuring Paulo’s supernatural encounter with angels – who appear as warrior women and travel through the Mojave desert on their motorbikes.

Haunted by a devastating curse, Paulo is instructed by his mysterious spiritual master to embark upon a journey – to find and speak to his guardian angel in an attempt to confront and overcome his dark past. The Valkyries is a compelling account of this forty day quest into the searing heat of the Mojave Desert, where Paulo and his wife, Chris, encounter the Valkyries – warrior women who travel the desert on motorcycles, spreading the word of angels.

My thoughts:

It’s been a few years since I discovered Coelho’s writing in Adultery and The Alchemist. I’ve read a couple of other books by him since, and they’ve been a mixture of hits and misses.

The Valkyrie falls somewhere in between for me.

This book tells the story of Paulo and his wife Christina that travels to the Mojave desert to find their guardian angel. It is classified as fiction, as Coelho himself has taken a bit of creative freedom when telling their story.

I find spiritual stories to be very interesting, but when it comes to The Valkyries, the heavy focus on angels just wasn’t a huge hit with me. It painted such a strong picture of religion and not spirituality, which isn’t really my cup of tea. That being said, Coelho is a very talented storyteller, and he does well with building up an interesting storyline of their trip to the desert.

I thought the parts of the story where Paulo and Christina spent time with the Valkyries was the most interesting part, and I would have loved to have gotten to know even more about them.

But I also understand that Paulo didn’t want to make up too much of their stories by adding plenty of fiction to it.

This might be what makes me lose interest in the story at times. It is the fact that I don’t know what’s fiction and what’s real. This makes it hard to be baffled by the miracles and happenings of this story because I can’t seem to wrap my head around what’s a truly amazing personal experience and what just happens to be make-believe. This might just be my personal preference about the build-up of a story that ruins this for me, I’m not sure.

I didn’t think that The Valkyries was a bad book, I just think it wasn’t for me. The religious aspect of it turned out to be a bit overwhelming for my taste, and it didn’t leave me with that lasting impression that for instance The Alchymist or Adultery did. That being said, I can definitely see the message that he wants to come across when it comes to facing our own past and forgiving.

So overall I would say that The Valkyries is an interesting story with much potential, and for the right person, I think it could be an amazing read. Unfortunately, I am not that person.

Click on the Bookdepository banner below to get your own copy with free shipping, make up your own mind, and let me know what you think of it💛

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Wrinkles and White Hairs

I’ve had wrinkles around my mouth and my eyes for a few years already. I like to call them my smile lines.

I also have a line between my brows that I’ve had for a really long time. I call that one my worry line. I’m guessing it started showing in my early teens.

Last year I discovered my first white hair. We gingers usually go white instead of grey, and now it’s my turn to get the same change as Gandalf!

I told my grandmother on my dad’s side about my discovery last year, and she (who’s also a ginger) told me that by the time she turned 35, she had quite a lot of white hairs.

So what do I think about my signs of aging?

I’m all here for it! In a world where people spend a crazy amount of time and money trying to look younger than they are, so many have forgotten about what a privilege it is to be allowed to get older.

There are so many out there who aren’t that lucky.  

Every day young people are robbed from the opportunity of growing older. Some by accidents, some by illness, some by cruelty, and some by their own hands. We tend to forget the fact that every second that we live and breathe here on this planet, is nothing short of a bloody miracle!

I know that we all have hard days. Tough days where words like privilege, grateful and miracle don’t even come close to what we are really feeling. But even those days are days where we grow and are lucky to have the opportunity to learn from.

I see countless bloggers, YouTubers, and influencers who are trying to convince other women and men to get treatments for the signs of aging. I’m not here to try to do the same. I’m here to encourage you to see those signs as beauty and not flaws. What you choose to spend your time and money on is entirely up to you. Your body, your choice!

How lucky am I to have smiled so much throughout my life that the markings of them are permanently on my face for the world to see. What an interesting and eventful life I’ve had so far, and the worry line between my brows is one of the many proofs of the moments and hurdles that I’ve had to overcome.

I’m so blessed to be able to grow older and get white hair while I can watch my son becoming more and more of a little man. I’ve gotten to grow older with fantastic friends and wonderful family.

I still get to learn new things every day! How lucky I am! It’s enough to make my eyes water just to think about the fact that I’ve been so lucky to be able to live for as long as I have and experience the things that I’ve done. I can only hope that my journey will continue for many more years.

I think we all need to remind ourselves of this more often, myself included.

In a world where we are constantly bombarded with the message that we have to look like we never eat, we exercise all the time, while we live a fabulous life globetrotting the world and never aging a day, it’s hard to lose focus of what really matters, and just how lucky we often are.

Don’t let the media fool you into chasing an unrealistic beauty ideal or means to happiness. You are a freaking wonder; wrinkles, grey/white hairs, bumps and all! ❤️

The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves 📚 BOOK REVIEW

I listened to an audiobook version of The Girl He Used to Know on Audible.

Tracey Garvis Graves

Genre: Contemporary fiction/Romance

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Originally published: April 2nd, 2019

Pages: 291 (hardcover)

Audiobook length: 8 Hours 10 Minutes

Blurb by the publisher:

Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game–and his heart–to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone. 

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins.

My Thoughts:

I was looking for something light and slightly romantic when I was browsing through Audible for a new audiobook and found this one. Little did I know that what I thought was just a fluffy story of young love reconnected was to be so much more, and I would fall completely in love with it.

The Girl He Used to Know tells the story of Annika and Jonathan who meet when they’re both studying at the University of Illinois. We jump between the time that they met and got to know each other, and a decade later when they are reconnected once again in Chicago.

It’s easy to understand from the very beginning of the story that Annika’s mind works a little differently from most others. She is very anxious, and she talks about her experiences with therapy and how she struggles at times with everyday life.

I think this is what makes this story so unique and different. Told from the perspective of someone who obviously has some kind of mental disability (and the reader slowly, but surely gets a clearer picture of how much) but is also highly functional and tries to live as normal of a life as possible.

It was a very different kind of perspective in a love story that was new to me, and one that I really appreciated.

I want to see more stories like this. More characters with the kind of depth and difficulties that we see in Annika. And the fact that we also get a glimpse of how her challenges are perceived by Jonathan as well adds so much more to the story.

Tracy Garvis Grayes has written a beautiful and funny story. One that is both heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. It took me on a journey I had no idea that I was about to venture out on, and I loved every minute of it. Even the ones where I bawled my eyes out.

This book is so much more than a love story. I wish I could explain why, but that would spoil too much, and I wouldn’t want to ruin it for you.

Highly, highly recommend if you want a deeper and different kind of love story that touches on some subjects of mental health and disabilities that deserves way more attention than it is getting.

Click on the Bookdepository link below to get your own copy with free shipping, and let me know what you think of the book!

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Why My Favorite Seasons Changed

When I was younger I used to love the winter and fall season. When it started to get colder and darker, my mood just got better and better. Here in Norway, when it is at its darkest during the winter, we only get sunlight for a few hours a day, and I used to absolutely love it!

Today though, that answer suddenly came to me while I was walking my dog. It was around 9 pm and it was still light out.

The birds were singing and I was thinking about how everything outside of my apartment comes to life when spring finally comes.

That’s when it hit me.

That time of my life when I loved the darker and quieter seasons, those were the periods of my life where I felt most scared of new people. I was at my shyest, I was bullied, and I had no urge to get new friends. I was very happy with having an excuse to stay inside more, curled up with a book or having my best friends over.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love to curl up under a blanket with a good book, lighting candles, or just having close friends over during the darker seasons.

When I got to my mid-twenties, I started to really come out of my shell. I found real self-love and real self-confidence. And with that came a new found joy for getting to know new people.
Right around that time, there was a shift in a lot of my preferences, to be honest, and that’s when I started to crave the lighter and warmer seasons more.

I started to miss being in a city where I could walk out the door and be met with the sounds and feelings of being surrounded by life and light.

I do appreciate the colder seasons, the changes, and the wonders that Mother Earth shows us through them, but my heart now belongs to spring and summer.

That shy and insecure girl shows an appearance still, every now and then, but not that often.

Nowadays I’m a woman who walks out of my door, and the sound of the birds makes me smile, and the sensation of the sun on my skin makes me all warm inside. And whenever I get to be close to the water as well, I just feel a calmness that’s hard to explain.

We all change, and maybe my preferences for the seasons will change several times throughout my life. But at least now I know one of the reasons for this particular change in my past.

When it comes to the changes in my future; Time will tell❤️