meghan rose allen

Review of Beware That Girl by Teresa Toten

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If one ever needs an example of insidious misogyny/rape culture/patriarchy/whatever, let's just turn to a book that has two violent, male, psychopaths which is entitled and not ironically:
Beware That Girl.

And of course, the girl (or girls) in question, are all over eighteen, and legally adults, so girl is ever so appropriate a moniker.


Can we get past the awful title? Is a wondrous novel hiding in behind there? Or a trashy thriller that the back assures me will keep [me] guessing until the very last line?

Yep. It's a trashy thriller. I was not guessing until the very last line either. But it kept me occupied for a few hours, and it's no worse than most other trashy thrillers out there;
it might even be somewhat better written than the trashy thriller average. And a character ends up in Fort Mac, so yay Canadian content.

Basically, it was a big bag of brain junk food that then made me angry when I actually thought about the title.

Beware That Girl by Teresa Toten went on sale May 31, 2016.

I received a copy free from Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.


Review of A Separation by Katie Kitamura

Posted by in netgalley copy

Ah, rich people problems. To have a flat in London, sitting unoccupied. To jet off to Greece at the behest of a relative, and on a moment's notice, because work, what's that? To stay in a fancy Greek hotel, eating out at restaurants, and sure, it's the off-season, but really? Come on.

And here we are, trapped inside the head of our nameless narrator, who, separated from her husband, still goes to Greece at her mother-in-law's order, to find him. Her thoughts are banal because, like most people, her thoughts are banal and not in need of having every single on detailed. Her husband is rich and a playboy, and they separated because of his numerous infidelities, and I have used banal twice already but it is so banal and we have two hundred pages plus of this banality of our cipher narrator searching after her cipher husband with cipher locals poking about and there is absolutely nothing there. I can tell you nothing about the narrator or her personality or her likes and dislikes. Ditto everyone else in the book. Ditto why this woman would undertake this task. Ditto why this book got such accolades (amazon tells me Named a best book of the year by the New York Times, NPR, Huffington Post, The A.V. Club, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian, Refinery29, Town & Country, Harper's Bazaar, NYLON, BookRiot.). Obviously, there are far worse written books out there, but this is just a flat, monotone where I don't care about anything, at all, ever.

A Separation by Katie Kitamura went on sale March 23, 2017.

I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Review of Fugue States by Pasha Malla

Posted by in netgalley copy

So this is a huh of a book. Definitely not a huh? (with a question mark) what the heck did I just read? sort of book, but a book you finish and go huh or any other of your non-committal sounds of choice. His dad dies. He may or may not have lost his job as a radio host. He may or may not be in love with his radio producer. His sister may or may not be getting a divorce. His best friend may or may not be unhinged. His friend may or may not be a rapist. So, sure, let's go take his father's ashes to Kashmir, his father's homeland. And go skiing. And yes, there is a fugue state. And a death, and I always think of music fugues as death-y, so there's that. But in the end, it's just one of those books where

  1. lots of stuff happens, and yet
  2. I can't shake the feeling that absolutely nothing has happened at all.

No one seems wiser or smarter or even changed by the end. Except I guess the dad, who is dead. But maybe he's the same in death, so who knows?

Fugue States by Pasha Malla went on sale May 30, 2017.

I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


2017: The Year in Reading Review

Posted by in year-end wrap up

So this is the year when I

  • went off books,
  • went off reading,
  • went off writing.

In the late summer, I taught myself how to crochet. My current goals seem to be

  • crochet all the things while
  • watching all the Netflix.

Neither is conducive to books. Evenings spent favouriting Etsy items and expanding my pinterest boards leave no time for much else.

Voice in my head: You did read 131 books this year, plus half of a long Russian one that you might finish sometime in January.

Me: Still.

When I started high school, I stopped reading books (other than assigned ones) for a year. Maybe I'll stop again this year. Who knows.

Here are some stats, and a map.

Best of 2017 (4.5 stars and above!)

Data: (I read 131 books total, which maybe makes some of this data more meaningful.) Be amazed at my ability to add stock photos to canva graphs!

(Obviously, some books can be in more than one category up there, less so in the graphs below.)

A passport to: (with a representative selection of a book partly or fully set in that locale)









 Bosnia and Herzegovina





       British Columbia


       New Brunswick

       Newfoundland and Labrador

       Nova Scotia


       Prince Edward Island





       Hong Kong



 Czech Republic

















       Iraqi Kurdistan





























 Saint Kitts and Nevis

 São Tomé and Príncipe

 Saudia Arabia



 Solomon Islands

 South Africa

 South Ossetia









 United Kingdom


       Cayman Islands



 United States of America

       Puerto Rico






So bye 2017.


December 2017

Posted by in this month I ...

I read:


150 Years of Stats Canada! by Andrew Bondy, Julia Davidovich, Sam Montgomery and Thomas Eric Taylor: Reviewed earlier this month.

The Strays by Emily Bitto: Reviewed earlier this month. There's another cover for this book, but why would you use it when this cover is so pretty? I don't understand people.

Fugue States by Pasha Malla: I have to review this and I haven't and it's been like three weeks so when is it gonna to happen? I don't know. There's a kinda rape scene and I'm just like blech.

Favourite book:

But how can that be the last Lara Jean book? Are her and Peter going to make it? What about telling me all about Lara Jean's first year at college? YOU CAN'T LEAVE ME HANGING LIKE THIS JENNY HAN!

Most promising book on my wishlist:

Now to decide whether I'm masochistic enough to attempt it in French or simply wait for an English translation.

I wrote:

I had a massive typing extravaganza of thirty-five thousand words, transcribing my adult novel from notebook to .tex file. I have since gone off writing because that is too much typing. I won't leave that many words alone in a notebook again.


Review of The Strays by Emily Bitto

Posted by in netgalley copy

I've never been completely convinced Australia exists. I've met many Australians, I've know non-Australians who have been to Australia, I watched a lot of Heartbreak High when it aired on Showcase in the 90s. So, rationally, I know Australia exists, but if Australia were to suddenly be like "Psych!", I could totally see where that was coming from.

All this to say that The Strays is set in Australia. But it doesn't feel like Australia. It feels like the setting could be anywhere. Like rationally knowing Australia exists, I rationally know that books from Australia don't all need to feature kangaroos and Ned Kelly, but then I read a book set in Australia with nary one mention of a koala and I'm like "Hmmm...are we sure this is in Australia? Just because the book references Melbourne and Sydney and says a few times that they are in Australia, do I really believe this book is set in Australia?" So, again, if The Strays were to suddenly be like "Psych!", I could totally see where that was coming from.

(And, I mean, for goodness' sake, I'm Canadian, I read plenty of Can-Lit, and I hardly expect every book set in Canada that I read to feature igloos and polar bears and poutine. I feel I am somehow mentally deficient in all things Aussie. Do I need to eat more some (because I've never managed to put even a little near my mouth) Vegemite? Why can't my brain comprehend Australia? Australia, why are you so difficult?)

Framing this in a more positive light, The Strays transcends Australia and isn't regional literature. It's a compelling read of a colony of artists in the 1930s, but, unfortunately, has all the things I don't like about first novels: an outsider narrator (the reader is already the outsider; I don't need another removal for me to see through two steps removed) looking back (why not set it simply in that time frame, rather than use a flashback framing device) who views the rest of her life as somewhat inconsequential (so, again, why bother with the flashback and the little bits of her life after that? Just stay in the time frame if that was so important) with a somewhat deus ex-machina reason for getting the gang back together in the present time so that our narrator can reflect (seriously, just set it in the 1930s and be done with it) on the brilliant men surrounded by their supporting/adoring women (blehhhhhhhhh). I do not like these things. I think they weaken the novel. Luckily, the novel, especially the pretty writing, is strong enough (even with the lack of platypuses/platypii/platypodes) that the things I dislike serve as annoyances rather than deal-breakers, and, at times, the novel reads like a painting, with colour and slashes and visible brush strokes that I love. But still, I'm conflicted: did I need to read another flashback book about brilliant, abusive men who don't really get their comeuppance, no matter how lyrical the writing is and how well I could see how everything looks even though Australia is imaginary I have never been to Australia? I guess I did since I did.

Plus the font was large, and the margins wide, so I did read it quickly. Yay.

Obligatory picture of my favourite Australian book:

Yeah, it's completely unrelated, but Sometimes I Like To Curl Up In A Ball is a very cute book that I enjoy a lot.

The Strays by Emily Bitto went on sale January 3, 2017.

I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


performances by children

Posted by in Uncategorized

Spoilers for a movie that came out in 1985.

Me: complaining about the Christmas concert.

Geoff: Really? I don't know. I just zone out like twenty seconds in, go to my own place, like in the ending of Brazil.

Me: So, you're comparing your child's school Christmas concert to being tortured by a fascist, totalitarian regime?

Geoff: Maybe don't tell Tesfa I said that.


Review of 150 Years of Stats Canada! by Andrew Bondy, Julia Davidovich, Sam Montgomery and Thomas Eric Taylor

Posted by in netgalley copy

Yay! A silly book where my home province of New Brunswick is run by a sinister cabal of feudalistic light house keepers and where all mentions of Fabricland must be followed by a more forceful shout of Fabricland! And, while Canada is indeed in the top three of non-Caribbean North American countries, having all these giggles and snark in one place can be somewhat overwhelming. A tweet now-and-then is less overwhelming. There's a lot in this listicley book -- and thankfully not too much about hockey since I know nothing about hockey (for example, I thought hockey had a half-time until I was twenty-six).

It's cute, but I don't know what you'd do with this book after you read it once. Maybe flip through now and then when the moose and polar bears outside your summer igloo want to steal your double-double and the barbaric cultural practices phone line doesn't seem to be working to help cheer your Soviet Cannuckistan self up.

150 Years of Stats Canada! by Andrew Bondy, Julia Davidovich, Sam Montgomery and Thomas Eric Taylor went on sale June 6, 2017.

I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Review of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Posted by in netgalley copy

There are many spoilers for Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine in this review. Also there is cussing. Proceed at your own risk.


This book made me cry. Eleanor gets sad, super sad, depressed, and I know that feeling. I am that feeling. So I cried and cried and cried along with Eleanor. Between this and that BoJack Horseman episode, it'll be hard for me to say that I'm all alone in the world. So yay, I guess, for all the other people out there that have moments when that voice in the back of your head telling you you are worthless is so loud that it's impossible to drown it out.

So at that point, in the middle of the novel, I started to forgive it for the standard tropes earlier along -- Eleanor starts off dowdy, but she gets a makeover, she gets her nails done, she buys some stylish clothes, because her life fixes itself she's still sad and depressed and lonely and that voice is louder than ever. The love interest fails her (not that he ever even knows who she is) and the secondary love interest, the nice guy who was there all along, is still a nice guy and they don't hook up, and all these standard chick-lit tropes are falling apart, and it quiets that little voice for a bit, in between my crying bouts for Eleanor because she is feeling sad, and so I feel sad too.

And then fuck this, in the last ten pages or so, one of the characters is revealed to be a hallucination. F-Uhhhhhhhhhhh-C-K. Every piece of goodwill squandered. I could handle one bait-and-switch (look, this is going to be a standard maekover and smile and get the guy chick-lit novel, oh nope it's not, it's a meditation on depressed and loneliness), but two, especially the second one being so stupid. So I'm mad at this book because what the fuck? I can't even rate this book because the last ten pages suck whereas the earlier ones aren't that bad. In fact, they're pretty good. And then this. I'm going to add a few more fucks here: fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.

At least I still have BoJack Horseman.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman went on sale May 9, 2017.

I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.