Book Review: Volumes I-III of Whiskey, Words, & a Shovel by R. H. Sin

Whiskey, Words, & a Shovel is a three-volume boxed-set of poetry books by R. H. Sin.

I love poetry. And I picked this up because someone I follow on Bookstagram posted a photo of one of the poems and I immediately fell in love. It didn’t hurt that over Boxing Week Indigo had a 50% off boxed sets sale. I love a bargain!

Here’s what the set looks like:

I love the design of the spines, but it bothers me that it’s black-white-white.

And here is the synopsis of Whiskey, Words, & a Shovel from Amazon:

Whiskey, Words, and a Shovel, Vol. 1, is about reclaiming your power on the path to a healthy relationship. It is a testament to choosing to love yourself, even if it means heartbreak.”

Finally, here’s my review of Whiskey, Words, & a Shovel!

I’m going to have to do sort of separate reviews for a) volume I, and b) volumes II & III.

First up, volume I!

This was an absolutely beautiful collection of poems. Some were crushing, some uplifting. I tend to judge poetry based on how many gut checks/pangs/heart drops I feel, and this book was chock-full.

It’s clear that the author has had some very difficult experiences, and he doesn’t shy away from confronting them head on with his words. I loved it.

Favourite poems from this volume:

good book.
therapy by the books.
some suggestions.

Next, volumes II & III.

Unfortunately, I didn’t think the other two volumes of Whiskey, Words, & a Shovel were as amazing as the first.

A lot of it felt very preachy, as if the author (a male) is trying to tell his readers (which he assumes are women) lessons. It kind of feels like in volume I, the poet is learning heartbreaking lessons through the writing of his poetry, whereas in volumes II & III, he’s learned the lessons but feels the need to impart them on everyone else. It feels contrived and far less heartfelt.

Overall, 3/5 stars for Whiskey, Words, & a Shovel.

I would say 4 stars for volume I, and 2 for volumes II & III. Maybe just borrow the first volume from the library, because it is amazing and well worth a read.

Happy reading!

– Paperback Patronus

Book Review: Things She Could Never Have by Tehmina Khan

Disclaimer: I received this book as a generous gift from the author herself, Tehmina Khan, in exchange for an honest review. This gift in no way influences my opinion or review.

Things She Could Never Have by Tehmina Khan is a collection of short stories.

It came into my life at the perfect time. I’m starting to think more critically about the types of books I have on my shelves. This is especially in terms of diversity. The founder of @theunreadshelf project on Bookstagram set a February challenge of reading and talking about more diverse books. When this happened, I had just received Things She Could Never Have for review.

Here’s the beautiful cover of this book:

I love how creative it is!

And here is the synopsis of Things She Could Never Have from Amazon:

“Accomplished, sensitive, and often disturbing, these stories take us into the lives of modern Pakistanis?privileged and poor, gay, trans, and straight, men and women, in Karachi and Toronto. “Whisperings of the Devil” takes us into the mind of a mistreated maidservant’s boy who gets seduced into the role of a suicide bomber. In “To Allah We Pray,” two privileged and educated young men, one of them home from Toronto, gallivant through the streets of Karachi, finally walking into a doomed mosque.

“Things She Could Never Have” is a love story about two young trans women living in Karachi. “Born on the First of July” opens the door into the home of a Toronto girl who has left to join ISIS and the devastated family she leaves behind. “The First” will astonish many readers by its depiction of sexual encounters of young college girls in Pakistan. These and other stories link us into the complexities of a sometimes troubled and often misrepresented Muslim society.”

Finally, here’s my review of Things She Could Never Have!

Traditionally, I haven’t been a fan of short stories. Normally this is because I find they make me angry. My whole life, I’ve battled with my own preconceptions that literature shouldn’t make you angry. I am a person who likes the plot of stories to be tightly tied in a bow at the end, à la “and they both lived happily ever after.” Normally, I find that short stories purposely subvert that narrative trope, and I don’t usually enjoy it. This opinion has not changed since reading Things. However,  Tehmina Khan’s stories made me angry, sad, happy, and thoughtful, and frustrated, and I LOVED IT.

These stories are well-curated windows into worlds I have very little knowledge or understanding of. They are each about modern Pakistanis. They are set both in Karachi and Toronto. The characters encounter difficulties I have never had to even imagine, and they do it with grace and resilience. The language is poetic and illuminating. It opened my eyes to whole other perspectives and experiences. It was magical.

Other awesome stuff:

Some of the stories’ plots connect. I LOVE it when short story collections do this. In this case, it’s never overt. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I love the delicate way in which some of the narratives end up being about the same characters, in small but important ways.

Overall, 4.5/5 stars.

Some of the phrasing felt a little confusing at times. I also wanted a bit more depth in some of the stories. However, those are small things. Overall, I LOVED these incredibly heartfelt, shocking, and heartbreaking stories of love, life, and loss. It is a collection full of diverse stories. Racially, sexually, religiously, in terms of class and gender, and more. It left me wanting so much more. Plus, the author is a Canadian female POC, and she is originally from Karachi, Pakistan. I highly recommend reading this book!

Happy reading!

– Paperback Patronus

Book Review: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry is a nonfiction book by author, science communicator, and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.

This book initially caught my eye because of the cover. Who wouldn’t love that cover?! It’s gorgeous.

At first I had no idea it was nonfiction. When I finally read the synopsis, I was even more intrigued. This book is DeGrasse Tyson’s quick-take on astrophysics for us laypeople without PhDs. The night sky has always been fascinating for me, but I’ve found learning about it a bit inaccessible. No longer!

Here’s that cover I’m raving about:

I LOVE any kind of cover with a beautiful night sky on it (see my review of The Smell of Other People’s Houses).

And here is the synopsis of Astrophysics for People in a Hurry from Amazon:

“What is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us? There’s no better guide through these mind-expanding questions than acclaimed astrophysicist and best-selling author Neil deGrasse Tyson.

But today, few of us have time to contemplate the cosmos. So Tyson brings the universe down to Earth succinctly and clearly, with sparkling wit, in tasty chapters consumable anytime and anywhere in your busy day.

While you wait for your morning coffee to brew, for the bus, the train, or a plane to arrive, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry will reveal just what you need to be fluent and ready for the next cosmic headlines: from the Big Bang to black holes, from quarks to quantum mechanics, and from the search for planets to the search for life in the universe.”

Finally, here’s my review of Astrophysics for People in a Hurry!

This book is fascinating. Before I get to that, though…

First of all, it definitely lives up to its name in being for people in a hurry. It’s a small and manageable size, even in hardback. Thus, it fit easily in my purse, and I totally took it to a doctor’s appointment. Plus, something I tend to love, it has fairly short chapters.

Second, it was just so interesting. Like I said, I’ve always loved the night sky. However, books about astrophysics tend to not be accessible to, as Dava Sobel says in his blurb about the book, us “non-space cadets.” I loved being able to learn so much about astrophysics in such a short amount of time.

This book is very well written, and never gets too overwhelmingly science-y, although I did get lost a couple of times.

Other awesome stuff:

I loved the chapters in this book and the narrative structure that was chronological in terms of real-time and scientific discoveries made in astrophysics. It starts with the big bang, and moves all the way through to exoplanet discoveries and “the cosmic perspective.”

Overall, 4/5 stars.

It’s an enthralling read that can be a bit too high-level at times for those of us with less background knowledge, but still provides a fantastic understand of how our universe works and our relation to it as humans.

Happy reading!

– Paperback Patronus


Book Review: In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

In a Dark, Dark Wood is a psychological thriller by author Ruth Ware.

The Girl on the Train kind of put me off psychological thrillers. I hadn’t read one for a really long time, and I was starting to get excited about them again. Since people have recently really been loving Ruth Ware, I figured this book was a good place to start.

Here’s the cover of In a Dark, Dark Wood:

Love this minimal look.

And here is the synopsis of In a Dark, Dark Wood from Amazon:

“What should be a cozy and fun-filled weekend deep in the English countryside takes a sinister turn in Ruth Ware’s suspenseful, compulsive, and darkly twisted psychological thriller.

Sometimes the only thing to fear…is yourself.

When reclusive writer Leonora is invited to the English countryside for a weekend away, she reluctantly agrees to make the trip. But as the first night falls, revelations unfold among friends old and new, an unnerving memory shatters Leonora’s reserve, and a haunting realization creeps in: the party is not alone in the woods.”

Finally, here’s my review of In a Dark, Dark Wood!

I really enjoyed this book.

A little beef with books like this: Number one, they’re sometimes plugged in a way that irks me. For example, Reese Witherspoon plugs this book on the front saying it’s scary.

It is not scary.

Suspenseful? Yes. Page-turner? Yes. Scary? Definitely not.

Maybe to some people that’s just semantics, but to me I was actually more nervous reading the book than I should have been, because I was anticipating it getting scary.

This also happened in a different capacity with The Girl on the Train. It was pegged as “The Next Gone Girl.” Gone Girl gave me nightmares for at least a month and I’m still messed up about it. Comparing that to The Girl on the Train.. I had it figured out about a third of the way through and found it boring. It’s not even worth making a comparison.

So stuff like that really irks me.

Don’t get me wrong, though, this book did a great job of holding back information that I wanted to know and kept me reading until I found it out.

It definitely didn’t disappoint, even though it wasn’t what I was expecting. Not only was it thrilling and mysterious, it also had a lot of character/relationship building/history that I really enjoy reading. It definitely added to the effect.

Other awesome stuff:

The characterization in In a Dark, Dark, Wood was excellent. Early on in the book, I was physically frustrated by it because I hated some of the characters so much. That’s awesome. If you can make me have a physical reaction to a character in a book, that’s good writing.

Overall, 4/5 stars.

If you’re looking for an interesting thriller but you don’t like scary books, this is for you!

Happy reading!

– Paperback Patronus


Book Review: Quiet Girl in a Noisy World – An Introvert’s Story by Debbie Tung

Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert’s Story is a graphic novel by writer and illustrator Debbie Tung.

love graphic novels and comic books, but I hadn’t read any in a while, and this one reminded me why I love them so much! Before I get more into that…

Here’s the cover of Quiet Girl in a Noisy World:

How CUTE?!?! How could I not buy this? It looks like my idea of heaven.

And here is the synopsis of Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert’s Story from Amazon:

“Sweet, funny, and quietly poignant, Debbie Tung’s comics reveal the ups and downs of coming of age as an introvert.

This illustrated gift book of short comics illuminates author Debbie Tung’s experience as an introvert in an extrovert’s world. Presented in a loose narrative style that can be read front to back or dipped into at one’s leisure, the book spans three years of Debbie’s life, from the end of college to the present day. In these early years of adulthood, Debbie slowly but finally discovers there is a name for her lifelong need to be alone: she’s an introvert.

The first half of the book traces Debbie’s final year in college: socializing with peers, dating, falling in love (with an extrovert!), moving in, getting married, meeting new people, and simply trying to fit in. The second half looks at her life after graduation: finding a job, learning to live with her new husband, trying to understand social obligations when it comes to the in-laws, and navigating office life. Ultimately, Quiet Girl sends a positive, pro-introvert message: our heroine learns to embrace her introversion and finds ways to thrive in the world while fulfilling her need for quiet.

Finally, here’s my review of Quiet Girl in a Noisy World!

As an introvert, this book was so relatable. I found a piece of myself on every page. It was a very comforting reading experience. The story covers many aspects of life – home, work, relationships, friends, and everything in between.

There’s really nothing more for me to say other than that the story is beautiful, and the writing is beautiful. It’s an all-around lovely graphic novel/comic book/ whatever you’d like to call it.

I’d recommend it especially for self-proclaimed or closet introverts. However, I think it is an equally important read for extroverts, who sometimes might not fully understand us introverts’ need for quiet time in such a noisy world.

Other awesome stuff:

The art is adorable! Debbie Tung has a very distinct illustrating style that I love. It’s simple, but not overly so, and there are still lots of adorable details.

Overall, 5/5 stars.

I LOVED THIS. I can’t say enough good things about it!

Happy reading!

– Paperback Patronus

Monthly To Be Read List: March 2018

It’s the third month of the @theunreadshelf Project 2018, and my reading month has started out… slowly. Especially considering that I read 13 books in February and 23 books in January. So far in March I’ve finished two books. Two. I’m not kidding. It’s the 12th.

This is partly why I’ve decided to still post my March TBR even though we’re already a third of the way through the month. I’m hoping it will give me some motivation to get out of my reading slump.

However, there is some good reason for my drastic slowdown:

  • report cards
  • report cards
  • report cards
  • report cards

You get the gist.

Also, I’ve committed to a couple of different reading challenges this month which I think are actually slowing me down and not keeping me motivated. The first is part of the Unread Shelf Project 2018 – Whitney, the creator, sets a challenge each month. This month, she challenged project participants to read a book that’s been on their unread shelf for a really long time, and if you don’t finish it by March 31st, you have to give it away.

I chose Robinson Crusoe for the March challenge.

I got it from my Mom as part of my 18th birthday gift of tons of books she loved alongside a bunch of classics. I’ve meant to read it for ages, so I figured no was as good a time as ever. However, it’s taking me a really long time to get into it, and I’m now about 50 pages in, so I’m fifty pages behind (my edition is ~300 pages and March is 31 days long).

I also decided to take part in my first readalong.

@theperksofbeingnoura is doing a March readalong for City of Bones, the first book in Cassandra Clare’s “The Mortal Instruments” series. I have meant to try this series for a while now, and I serendipitously picked it up at a used book store early in March and then saw the announcement about the readalong. It was perfect! The pace of the readathon is about 1 chapter per day, and as it’s YA, I can easily keep up with that.

However, between reading City of Bones and trying to keep up with Robinson Crusoe, I haven’t been reading anything else, except briefly reading The Bad Beginning, which didn’t take very long as it’s children’s lit. I find that I read a lot slower if I have to divide my attention between more than one book at once. Anyone else feel like that?

Hopefully, now that report cards are complete (good riddance!), I think I can get back on track. Plus, I’m going to Cuba with my mom for the last week of March and that’s pretty much going to be sand, sun, ocean, and reading!

So, without further ado, here’s my March TBR.


Where I’m at, and what I’m looking forward to!

The one book I’ve finished so far this month is The Sisters Brothers. It was the Breakfast Book Club pick for February, and we met on the first weekend of this month to talk about it. I really loved it!

I think I’m most excited to read Furiously Happy and The Female of the Species this month. Also, my most anticipated 2018 release, Obsidio,  comes out this month. It’s the last installment in the Illuminae trilogy. Oh, and by this month, I mean the 13th, TOMORROW! It’s so close I can taste it!

I highly doubt I’ll finish all these books, but…

I’ve really been enjoying setting huge TBRs and picking from them based on my mood. We’ll see how it goes moving forward!

Time to get cracking on some more reading and blogging!

Happy reading, book badgers!

– Paperback Patronus

Monthly Reading Wrap-Up: February 2018

My January Wrap-Up was probably my most amazing ever, and February had a lot to live up to. I ended up reading 13 3/4 books, which doesn’t come close to January’s 23. However, the month did have 3 fewer days and no weeks off work like I had in January. Either way, I’m still proud of reading more than my target of 10 books per month, because it means that I’m still on pace to achieve my 2018 reading goal of 110 books!

So, here it is, my February Wrap-Up!

Descender Volume 5 – Jeff Lemire & Dustin Nguyen ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Saga Volume 8 – Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Invention of Wings – Sue Monk Kidd ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Mirror in the Sky – Aditi Khorana ⭐⭐
I’ll Give You the Sun – Jandy Nelson ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Talking as Fast as I Can – Lauren Graham ⭐⭐⭐⭐
In a Dark, Dark, Wood – Ruth Ware ⭐⭐⭐⭐
A Darker Shade of Magic – V. E. Schwab ⭐⭐⭐⭐
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler – E. L. Konigsburg ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Fairest – Marissa Meyer ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Winter – Marissa Meyer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Child Finder – Rene Denfeld ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Sisters Brothers – Patrick DeWitt ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (This book I didn’t quite finish, hence the 3/4).

Again, that’s a total of 13 3/4 books!

Did I Meet My TBR Expectations?

I once again didn’t read everything I had planned to. I didn’t get around to posting a February TBR here on the blog, but I did post a photo of it on Bookstagram, so here it is:

I put 17 books on my TBR and ended up reading 8 of them, so it was pretty good I think! I’ve started really enjoying setting a huge TBR not only to see if I can meet a big goal, but also because I like to have a lot of choices so that I can pick my next read by mood. It’s worked well for me so far.

The Unread Shelf Project 2018 February Challenge

Over at theunreadshelf, the February challenge was to look into the diversity of your unread shelf. I discovered, unsurprisingly, that most of the books I own, and the books on my unread shelf, are by white people. I hope to make it a focus to read more diversely in the future!

Notable Reads This Month

Overall, my favourite books of this month were Winter and I’ll Give You the Sun. Shoutout to The Invention of Wings for also being awesome and for being the second book by Monk Kidd that I’ve absolutely loved (I’m looking at you, The Secret Life of Bees). Shoutout also to The Child Finder for being absolutely haunting.

As for ratings, this month was a pretty mixed bag as well!

What’s Next?

I’m hoping to be back on the blogging train pretty solidly for the next couple of weeks, so expect some reviews ASAP! Plus, I’m headed to Cuba for the last week of March with my mom and I’ll have little to no internet access, so I’ve got to be ultra productive before I go! Hopefully, on April 1st when I get home, I’ll be posting an even more impressive wrap-up than I did in January, thanks to my two-week Spring Break away from work!

Happy reading!

– Paperback Patronus