Review | Where the Light Enters, Sara Donati

43881773Where the Light Enters is a nice and hefty historical fiction novel to lose yourself in. Dr Sophie Savard and Dr Anna Savard are both such compelling heroines, and I love reading about women doctors in historical fiction. I love all the historical bits (many are unfortunately still true today) about sexism in the medical world, stigma around abortion and contraception, and men basically exerting control over women’s bodies. I also loved all the stuff about medical history, and the kind of things doctors could figure out with the resources they had back then. 

There wasn’t as much focus on the mystery of the murdered women as I’d expected (and to be honest, wanted), but I like that the mystery prompted conversations on reproductive rights, and all the holier-than-thou censure around giving women the right to self-autonomy over their own bodies. I especially like that the murderer’s identity and motivations turned out to be much more complex than I’d initially assumed. The backstory behind the murders was rooted in an experience of violence, such that while all the characters agreed that the murderer’s actions were wrong, they disagreed about how justice should be served. I like that Sophie and Anna themselves were on opposite sides of the debate, as with both heroines in disagreement about how to deal with the murderer, the author seems to be inviting the reader to continue reflecting on the complexity of the situation rather than to pick a side ourselves.

The book did drag a bit, ironically near the end where the story returns to the murder mystery. I think it’s because so much has happened apart from the mystery — about the hospital and the medical students, and about Sophie’s new home and the school she wants to set up for Black aspiring women doctors — that I had to remind myself of the characters involved in the mystery subplot. The beginning, with the letters about the custody battle over the orphans, also felt a bit slow, but it was a nice intro to the characters, and from Goodreads, I see it’s a throwback to the plot from an earlier novel, which is nice.

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Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Review | All I Want for Christmas is You, Miranda Liasson

43522442Unexpected pregnancy isn’t usually one of my favourite romance tropes, but Miranda Liasson’s All I Want for Christmas is You totally won me over. Years of unacknowledged mutual attraction leads to a sizzling one night stand between fiercely independent baker Kaitlyn and light-hearted firefighter Rafe. Kaitlyn knows that Rafe has no desire for a wife or kids, so when she realizes she’s pregnant with his child, she has every intention of raising the kid alone. Except Rafe’s matchmaking grandmother low-key tricks them into a fake engagement. Then Rafe’s repairs to Kaitlyn’s apartment requires her to move in with him. And eventually, she comes to realize that there’s a lot more to Rafe than his joking facade.

I absolutely loved Kaitlyn and Rafe. Both are dealing with stuff in their pasts that make it difficult for them to allow themselves to fall in love. Kaitlyn was raised by a single mom, who taught her to take care of herself, and so she struggles to accept Rafe’s kindness and generosity. And a tragedy from Rafe’s past makes him overprotective towards the people he loves. I love how their respective struggles clash so much with each other’s — they have to work hard for their happily ever after, and this just makes the payoff so very worth it.

I’m also a sucker for animals in romances, and I love the puppy in this one. Bandit is totally adorable, but more than that, his story just about melted my heart. First, Rafe discovers him abandoned by the side of the road, and then brings him to the vet to find him a forever home. Then he and Kaitlyn totally fall in love with the dog, but hesitate to adopt him — Rafe because he worries his work schedule makes it impossible for him to give the dog the care he needs, and Kaitlyn because she worries about her ability to care for a dog in her tiny apartment with a baby on the way. Their journey to open their hearts and their homes to Bandit parallels their journey to coming together as a couple, and when they finally make the decision to take Bandit home, it’s beautiful.

Minor detail, but I also kinda liked how Kaitlyn talked about her surprise at the pregnancy when she and Rafe had used two types of birth control. Accidents happen, even when people are taking responsible precautions, and while she and Rafe had clearly been carried away by passion, I like that the author pointed out that the pregnancy was not because they’d forgotten birth control.

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Thank you to Forever for an e-galley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Excerpt | Seize the Day, Kathryn R. Biel

SeizeTheDayCoverI’m a sucker for romances and women’s fiction the feature animal lovers, so when I saw that Erin, the heroine in Seize the Day, worked at a zoo, and that the main  man in her life was a sloth (“the animal kind, not the lazy kind”) named Barry, I knew I wanted to read further.

I wasn’t familiar with BRCA (a strong genetic predisposition to breast and ovarian cancer) until I came across this book, but I love the idea of a book series starring women who live with this condition. In Erin’s case, it means that if she ever wants to have a baby, she must make it happen soon. Enter co-worker Xander Barnes, and a potential solution to Erin’s desire for a baby.

I haven’t read the book myself, so I can’t post a full review, but I am definitely intrigued by the premise. The book sounds lighthearted, hilarious and fun, and I like that it also explores a challenge some women face. And while I’m curious about Xander as a character, I must admit being even more excited to meet Barry the sloth, whom I hope plays a big part in the story. (I’ve read a lot of romances featuring dogs, but never one with the sloth, yet.)

Excerpt

“It’s not like you’re getting any younger, you know.”

Mackenzie laughs, flattening her voice to sound like our mother’s. If Mom’s said this once, she’s said it to me a thousand times. Mackenzie nails the impression. I know she’s trying to be funny, but I don’t need my sister to point this out to me.

I know.

Every single day, I know.

Most women my age probably hear a faint tick every once in a while. My biological clock clangs like Big Ben every fifteen minutes.

The moment you receive the news that you are BRCA-1 positive, that clock speeds up. Yah for the likelihood of developing cancer that attacks my reproductive organs!

Clang.

“I’m aware,” I mutter.

“Well, what are you going to do about it?” Even though she now sounds like she’s in a wind tunnel, I can hear the change to her tone. Gone is the jesting. Concern fills her voice.  

As an aside, I hate when she uses speakerphone. It takes a minute for the background noise to settle down. I’d rather text than talk, but my sister is usually multitasking more than a circus juggler. I’m appreciative that she’s able to carve out any time at all for me, even if it means we have to talk. To each other.

Like in the olden days.

In the meantime, I stretch out on the couch.

“Nothing today.” I stifle a yawn. “I was at work until three a.m.” The late night has ruined all hopes of a productive day off.

“Everything okay there?”

“Another day in paradise at the Pittsfalls Zoo. Talbert, one of my spider monkeys, had to have emergency dental surgery. I wanted to stay until he was awake and moving around again.”

As such, my only plans today call for tacos and a nap. Maybe cruising the internet a little.

And when I say cruising the internet, I mean spending a few hours creating the perfect life on Pinterest.

I pinned the most adorable baby zoo animal collage today. It’ll go perfect with the giraffe mural I pinned last week.

Basically, the perfect day.

“Carpe diem, sis. You can’t keep putting this off,” Mackenzie says.

Even if my biological clock wasn’t going off like gangbusters, I’ve got Good Ole Kenzie to remind me that time is not on my side and encouraging me to seize the day.

She’s always good for a pep talk, whether I want to listen or not. Most of the time I feel lucky to have such support.

Most of the time.

“Oh, but I can and I will.” I cross my arms defiantly, even though my sister can’t see my pout.

It’s not as if a solution has magically presented itself to me. Nothing has changed since last month, last week, and yesterday, when we had the same conversation.

In other words, I haven’t found a husband. 

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Thank you to the author for the excerpt.