meghan rose allen

Review of The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

Posted by in netgalley copy

A decent potboiler, genre: midwestern gothic, to while away a lazy summer day. Unfortunately, for a book that deals with repeated sexual abuse, it's surprisingly unsympathetic to the victim, with the female narrator having a slight Humbert Humbert-esque rationale of the situation. So that was uncomfortable. Obviously, no one in the story (except maybe the narrator's high school flame Cooper) is that sympathetic, but at the same time, none of the characters really have enough depth to make their unsympathetic personalities compelling. Of course, it's not a literary novel; it's a (slightly trashy, although not in a bad way) mystery novel where Engel trusts her writing and her readers enough not to make the sexual abuse the lurid, end revelation. Out of everything in the book, I appreciated that the most.

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel went on sale March 7, 2017.

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


Review of Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight

Posted by in netgalley copy

So I read this self-help book last week and I already don't remember much of what was in it, except for the general theme of actually do the things you need to do to get where you want to go. There was making lists, I remember that, and prioritizing those lists. I haven't made a list yet, but the past week I've been making an effort to actually do the things that will let me get to where I want to go. Maybe. Now if I could just figure out where I want to go with my life, I'd be set.

The book's tone is kind of sassy. It was a quick read. I don't know whether, truly, I needed a book to tell me that doing things works better than not doing things (unless not doing things was my goal), but it was good to have a reminder that my natural state of lazy bump isn't always the best to get things done.

Now off to do things!

Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight went on sale December 27, 2016.

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


Review of Chemistry by Weike Wang

Posted by in netgalley copy

So why did I leave science again? ... Was it because I didn't like it or I wasn't good enough to do it?

Does it matter?

Maybe this book won't resonate with people who aren't like me and the narrator: people who've left science. Or maybe it will. Everyone has left something behind. Maybe that feeling of loss is universal? If not, maybe I'm not the one to review this book because it read like the internal monologue that goes on in my head when I can't sleep, or when I'm walking to the mailbox, or when I'm driving to the library, or whenever there isn't anything to distract me from my own thoughts. Our narrator leaves science (chemistry) and then has to decide whether to follow her boyfriend, who is still nuzzled into science's temperamental embrace, to a small town where he has gotten a job. I left science (math) and then had to decide whether to follow my husband, who is still nuzzled into science's (math) temperamental embrace, to a small town where he has gotten a job.

I am the girl who followed you and I know what happens to those girls. They are never happy and then they carry that unhappiness everywhere.

I detached myself from reading this, otherwise I would have gone mad. I didn't have any beakers to destroy, like the narrator, but I would have if I had some. This book gave me the plunging feeling in ribs of having made the wrong decision all over again. I know every feeling, the narrator's every feeling. Detach all I want, doesn't work when I've been emptied out like this.

Maybe go find an English major. Maybe their review will give a dispassionate appraisal. Reading my own truth and mine doesn't.

Chemistry by Weike Wang went on sale May 23, 2017.

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


poetry earworm

Posted by in what song is stuck in my head

Do other people get poetry stuck in their heads the way that songs sometimes bunker their way in there? Because right now I have Tyger, Tyger stuck in mine, and it has been there for about ninety minutes now, with no interest in vacating.

What immortal hand or eye,

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

I don't know brain. Stop asking me.


May 2017

Posted by in this month I ...

I read:


His Whole Life by Elizabeth Hay: Reviewed earlier this month.

Tremulous Hinge by Adam Gianelli: Reviewed earlier this month.

The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith: Review to come.

Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo: Review to come.

Chemistry by Weike Wang: Review to come.

Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight: Review to come.

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel: Review to come.

The Song and the Silence by Yvette Johnson: Review to come.

Basically, I read a lot of ARC books off my kobo this month.

Favourite book:

Most promising book on my wishlist:

I watched:

I visited somewhere with cable.

I wrote:

A possible novella-length Canadian response to The Nest.

Faerie-story fiddling. Three rejections now!


Review of Tremulous Hinge by Adam Giannelli

Posted by in netgalley copy

(or wherein I once again prove that the parts of poetry which intrigue me may not be what I am supposed to be talking about)

You know what I really appreciated about Tremulous Hinge: the layout of some of the poems. Like the indentation. Seriously. Or there'd be a thin poem, maybe only eight or nine spaces worth of letters on each line. Then each verse would be only lines long and it would be these little rectangles like a path down the page.

I can hear one of my high school English teacher's sarcasm right now: That's what you think is important about poetry?

Yes. I mean, how do the poets know

   where to end lines and

how much to


So I read Tremulous Hinge and thought about that. The poems that were over a page were too long and could have been tightened. One poem mentioned a Catholic grandfather, which made me think of my Catholic grandfather. The poems felt working class, close houses, thin walls lacking insulation (I don't mean that in a negative way, because I read what I just wrote and it sounds super classist. I mean more like you felt you were walking through that sort of neighbourhood as you read the words; some of the poems drew the scene like a photograph).

I wonder how one becomes a poet. It's so different than how I see the world. Sometimes I feel like an alien when I read poetry. I didn't mind so much with Tremulous Hinge though.

Tremulous Hinge by Adam Giannelli went on sale April 15, 2017.

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


Review of His Whole Life by Elizabeth Hay

Posted by in Uncategorized

Way back in the heady days of 2015, I requested an ARC of His Whole Life from Goodreads. What can I say? It was a different time when I thought just because I didn't like Late Nights on Air wouldn't mean I wouldn't like His Whole Life.

And now we're 2017. I haven't won a Goodreads giveaway since this one. Trump runs rampant across the border. Parks and Recreation is no longer on the air. And I'm still not feeling the love for Elizabeth Hay.

I finally read it. There's nothing really wrong with His Whole Life; I can't point to something and be like "There. That. Right there. See what I mean?" I can't even summon up minute distaste for the book. I honestly just don't care. The best criticism I can come up with is that the book feels like a first novel, like there's all this stuff that happens just outside the page which is hinted at to flesh out the characters, when it would have been better to drop the characters and instead focus on what is happening off the page. Plus a lot of dead dogs. Three, which maybe isn't that much (more die, for example, in Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis), but too many for me.

So this book is a camel-hair tan colour for me, which always feels like a non-existent colour to me.

Sorry it took me two years to read. I should have just gotten it over with back in 2015.

His Whole Life by Elizabeth Hay went on sale August 11, 2015.

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


I am sad about writing

Posted by in fiction writing

I've fallen out of love with being a writer.

From grade six physics, blocks that sit on a table have potential energy, because they can fall to the floor. But once the blocks fall, hitting the floor, the potential energy is gone. Five years ago I was a block on the table. Now I'm on the floor and I am just spent. I am reading my faerie story to Tesfa and I just don't like it. I don't like what I've done. All that time and this is it. What a waste.

I don't know what to do next.


Review of General Relativity for Babies by Chris Ferrie

Posted by in netgalley copy

After my previous realization that physics is hard, I needed to go back to basics with physics so easy that even a baby could understand it. And here was General Relativity for Babies up for review on Netgalley, so I grabbed my copy and well, it's a board book (ages zero and up the back tells me) with the very basics of general relativity laid out (flat space, curved space, mass curves space, lots of mass in small place = black hole, etc.) The book ends with Now you know General Relativity! Do I? I already knew all of what the book defined. Cambridge University physics books hurt my brain and Baby University books are too simple. My pursuit of physics knowledge leaves me like Goldlilocks -- nothing is just right (okay, except it ends up that things are just right for Goldlilocks, who eats the porridge and falls asleep in the bed, and then gets eaten by bears, I think. I can't remember the ending, probably because my mind is filled with physics.)

It would be a cute book for the babies of scientists. I would have liked reading it when Tesfa was teeny. If they ever need someone to write Galois Theory for Babies, I'd totally do it. I love Galois Theory.

General Relativity for Babies by Chris Ferrie went on sale May 2nd, 2017.

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


Review of Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt by Ben Clanton

Posted by in netgalley copy

After getting the first book from a librarything giveaway, I got the second one from Netgalley. Score me getting free books!

Tesfa dislikes having me ask her questions about her books. So she did a book report for me instead.

The deets (including creative spellings):

The title of my book is: Super narwhal and Jelly Jolt
The author's name is: Ben cLanton
The illustrator's name is: (same)

My favourite character was: Jelly Jolt
Four words to describe this character:

  1. cute
  2. funny
  3. nise
  4. happy

One place where the story happened was: when narwhal has a tie.
Three words to describe this setting:

  1. funny
  2. cute
  3. very awesome

The Story:
Beginning: narwhal gets to be a superhero
Middle: narwhal plays with a sea star
End: narwhal and Jelly make a book

The book was:

Pretty good.
Not my favourite.
One I did not like.

My favourite event:
all of it!

Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt by Ben Clanton went on sale May 2, 2017.

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