Review | The Girl: Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch and the Birth of an Unlikely Feminist, Michelle Morgan

36204505Marilyn Monroe is an icon. We know her for her blond hair, her hourglass figure, and the iconic image of her in the white dress, valiantly holding her skirt in place as a gust of air from a subway grate blasts it straight up. Michelle Morgan’s The Girl presents us with a well-deserved, very much overdue addition to Marilyn Monroe’s legacy: a portrait of the woman as a feminist icon.

The Girl covers Monroe’s career at its peak, detailing how the actor often had to fight against the blond bombshell stereotype in order to assert her right to determine her own career. Morgan paints an image of Monroe too rarely seen in the media — that of a woman who loved to read classic literature and wanted to adapt Dostoyevsky for the screen. She was a feminist, advocating for her right to take on more complex roles even as reviewers patronizingly advised her to focus on just looking pretty. She started her own production company, so she could produce works that she was passionate about, and was a shrewd businessperson in her own right. She even spoke out against sexual harassment, and as we know with the #MeToo movement, that was seen as par for the course until long after Monroe died.

Morgan does a good job of contextualizing Marilyn Monroe’s feminism, by pointing out how the attitudes and barriers she faced were very much the norm, and were espoused even by women. It’s disheartening to see how many of the issues Monroe faced are still being battled by women today, but at the same time also gratifying to see some of these issues being discussed more openly, as with the #MeToo movement.

The Girl is both an entertaining glimpse into 1950s Hollywood and a timely tribute to a woman who was much more than the stereotypes history has accorded her.


Thank you to Hachette Book Group Canada for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Review | Oh Crumbs, Kathryn Freeman

Oh Crumbs

I loved this love story! The chemistry between the fun, bubbly Abby and the reserved, seemingly inscrutable Doug is adorable. I love the contrast between their personalities, and I love how the nuances in both characters’ personalities are gradually revealed by the circumstances they face.

I also really enjoyed how both characters’ family situations create rich and complex subplots that surround their romance. Abby has cared for her younger sisters since age 12, when their mother dies and their father has to work long hours to make ends meet. She’s had to put her career ambitions on hold for her family, and I love how working at Doug’s company, even starting as a personal assistant, gives her the opportunity to demonstrate her skills at coming up with innovative ideas to grow the business. I especially love how supportive Doug is of her talent, and how he helps build up her confidence. And finally, I absolutely love how even though Abby’s responsibilities to her family sometimes cause friction in her rise up the corporate ladder and her relationship with Doug, Freeman never makes it seem like Abby’s family is a burden. Instead, Abby has to learn to balance all her commitments and figure out a way to integrate time with her sisters in her new life.

Doug has a more contentious relationship with his family. He hates his job at his family’s biscuit company, and hates dealing with his overbearing bully of a father. He’d much rather be an artist, and has been indulging this passion secretly in his spare time. I love that Doug is actually experiencing financial success as an artist — so often, the choice between art and business is presented in fiction as one between poverty and wealth, so I like that Freeman shows that it is possible to have financial stability as an artist. I found the drama in Doug’s family to also be relatable, and I very much sympathized with the crap he had to put up with.

Finally, I love how realistic Abby and Doug’s relationship felt. The story confronts head-on the power imbalance issue with the boss/employee dynamic, the way one’s experience with family informs their approach to relationships, and the way couples still need to negotiate complex relationship issues even after they get together.

Oh Crumbs started off a fun, lighthearted romance, and, like any meaningful relationship, gradually revealed more complex emotional nuances throughout. I loved it and highly recommend it.

About the Book

OC_FRONT-150dpiRGB copy

Sometimes life just takes the biscuit …
Abby Spencer knows she can come across as an airhead – she talks too much and is a bit of a klutz – but there’s more to her than that. Though she sacrificed her career to help raise her sisters, a job interview at biscuit company Crumbs could finally be her chance to shine. That’s until she hurries in late wearing a shirt covered in rusk crumbs, courtesy of her baby nephew, and trips over her handbag.

Managing director Douglas Faulkner isn’t sure what to make of Abby Spencer with her Bambi eyes, tousled hair and ability to say more in the half-hour interview than he manages in a day. All he knows is she’s a breath of fresh air and could bring a new lease of life to the stale corporate world of Crumbs. To his life too, if he’d let her.

But Doug’s harbouring a secret. He’s not the man she thinks he is.

The book is available on Amazon UK or

About the Author

5707-2A former pharmacist, I’m now a medical writer who also writes romance. Some days a racing heart is a medical condition, others it’s the reaction to a hunky hero.

With two teenage boys and a husband who asks every Valentine’s Day whether he has to buy a card (yes, he does), any romance is all in my head. Then again, his unstinting support of my career change proves love isn’t always about hearts and flowers – and heroes come in many disguises.

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Thank you to the publisher for an advance e-galley of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Review | The House Swap, Rebecca Fleet

36700649House swapping sounds like a fun idea: you get a vacation away from home for cheap, you get someone to watch your house and feed your pets while you’re away, and it’s a chance to literally live in someone else’s shoes for a week. Rebecca Fleet’s The House Swaphowever, may make you reconsider the wisdom of even going for an AirBNB.

Caroline and Francis decide to take up an email offer of a house swap. It’s a good opportunity to have some alone time as a couple and possibly repair the damage in their marriage, caused by some prescription drug problems Francis had about two years ago and an affair Caroline had around the same time. But then little things make Caroline realize that the person they’ve swapped houses with seems to know her and a secret she’s wanted to forget. And a woman in the neighbourhood appears a tad too interested in befriending Caroline.

The House Swap is a solid, fairly slow-building domestic thriller. Each new chapter brings forth a twist or a reveal, and the book culminates in a major reveal that’s more sad than anything. Fleet does a good job of moving her plot forward, teasing us with a flash of insight only to later reveal that this is inaccurate. I really like how this story turned out — so often, we get thrillers where the big reveal leads to some high octane scenes that stretch credulity. In contrast, The House Swap‘s reveal is rather quiet, yet very emotionally resonant, and the book reveals itself as a moving character study along with being a thriller.


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