Tag Archives: bookreviews

Review: Taking on the Plastics Crisis by Hannah Testa

In this personal, moving essay, youth activist Hannah Testa shares with readers how she led a grassroots political campaign to successfully pass state legislation limiting single-use plastics and how she influenced global businesses to adopt more sustainable practices. Through her personal journey, readers can learn how they, too, can follow in Hannah’s footsteps and lower their carbon footprint by simply refusing single-use plastics.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

While trees provide us with some oxygen, most of the oxygen we breathe is actually produced from marine life in the ocean. Approximately every other breath we take is generated from the ocean.

I picked up this little pocket book about a month ago from my local library, and I’m so glad I did. While I don’t usually reach for non-fiction, this looked like a quick read to give me further insight on the plastics crisis. I worked at a grocery store and seeing the amount of single-use plastic packaging used made this problem plague my mind. This book was exactly what I was looking for: a quick read but packed with informative detail and insights on steps one can do to make a difference. 

I loved reading the prologue where Testa recounts how she has created change from a young age. She once organized a fundraising event with her friends to help a local farm. A viewer donated $10,000 to the cause after the event raising money for the farm (a viewing of the American Girl movie Saige Paints the Sky) was featured on the news.

Takeaways:

A line I hear often is that an individual’s lifestyle changes is not enough to make major changes to the climate crisis. While it is true that large corporations and businesses are the ones that have the most impact, ordinary people are the ones who bring up these issues and demand change. Testa mentions many other young change makers like herself who have contributed to making change on a larger level. While the problem cannot be changed by personal commitment alone, Testa and other activists’ work has reminded me of how one person’s idea can turn into a collective effort. Like how a 12 year old’s wish to create a better space for farm animals ended up with $10,000 towards the cause. 

As Testa mentions, it is up to consumers to speak up and hold big businesses accountable.

“Businesses rely on consumers to buy their products, so if customers decide to no longer buy their products until they ditch their single-use plastics and eliminate their plastic packaging, businesses will shift to match the needs of their customers” 

This is something I’ve seen in action with the popularity of reusable bags, fees on plastic bags, and paper or reusable straws replacing plastic straws. I think this is a sign that it is possible and that we are moving in the right direction, though this is really just the beginning. Hannah also gives readers solutions on how they can live a life free of single-use plastics, including: using reusable bags and food containers, shopping second hand, seeking out products with little to none plastic packaging, and more. 

Plastic is Toxic

This was a very insightful and sobering read as well. While I, like many others, are aware of the ongoing climate crisis, we often think of the garbage that pollutes our waters and has devastating consequences on wildlife. But, still, I wasn’t quite as aware of the extent that plastic affects our health negatively. Plastic in our water means plastic in our food, which negatively affects many coastal communities that rely on the water for their livelihoods. Along with that:

“Plastic also releases toxins into the food and drinks it comes in contact with. So, yes, your plastic coffee cup is leaching toxins into your coffee. It’s no surprise that plastic is considered a potentially human carcinogenic material.” 

The 5 Rs?

While working at a grocery store, I experienced first-hand how although recycling is an option, a lot of plastic doesn’t even get recycled. There is a lot of confusion about what can get recycled or what could get a bag of recycling thrown in the trash. Testa addresses this recycling confusion, as policies change over time and also depend on your local jurisdiction. 

What is there to do about the plastic crisis? Testa introduces readers to a concept that goes beyond the three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) taught in school. (With recycling being a last resort- did you know only that in Canada, only about 9% of plastic is actually recycled? ) The two Rs she includes are to Refuse and Raise Awareness.

Final Thoughts: Read this book!

While I did already know some of these things before reading, I was able to learn even more about the crisis. Now, I am more aware of the problem and what I can do to limit my use of single-use plastics, as well as inspire others to do the same. I highly recommend picking up this book if you are wanting to become more environmentally conscious. (Which really should be everyone because plastic affects our health, wildlife, and planet!) Testa’s words give a great understanding of this problem and show the power that everyone carries to make change. 

Check out Hannah’s website here! She is currently raising money to donate copies of her book to schools in marginalized communities.

(Cover image photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash)

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Review: Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Four famous siblings throw an epic party to celebrate the end of the summer. But over the course of twenty-four hours, their lives will change forever.

Malibu: August, 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together, the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over—especially as the offspring of the legendary singer, Mick Riva…

By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

“When there is only you, you do not get to choose which jobs you want, you do not get to decide you are incapable of anything. There is no room for distaste or weakness. You must do it all.” (147)

Hi Everyone!

Today, I have a review on a book I recently blazed through, Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Similarly to TJR’s other books, Malibu Rising is filled with drama and secrets from the past as the story transitions between the 50s and 80s. If you’ve read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, you will already be familiar with one of the main characters, Mick Riva. The chapters of the Riva siblings kept me hooked as I was eager to find out what would happen to them. Without getting into spoilers, I’ll say this book was a really enjoyable, mysterious, quick summer read!

yellow outline of 2 surfboards one with flowers the other with waves standing in the water

What I liked/didn’t like

While I was invested in the Riva siblings’ story, there are a lot of anecdotes on minor characters which I didn’t really care for. I found they added drama to the story but not much else. My favourite part of the book was how it explores what it means to be a family and how we all have the power to become our own person. I have more to discuss on this, but I’m trying to keep this review spoiler free, so you’ll have to read and see for yourself!

“She had to choose what, of the things she inherited from the people who came before her, she wanted to bring forward. And what of the past, she wanted to leave behind.” (357)

Characters

While there is some romance in this book, the main love story is really between the family. My favourite characters to read about were Nina and Kit. I loved their relationship of the youngest and oldest child. Nina realizes she has babied Kit while trying to protect her, and Kit encourages Nina to start doing things for herself by the end of the book.

“Despite having long ago learned some people don’t keep their promises, all three of the younger Rivas knew they could believe her.” (141)

POVs

Even though the chapters aren’t split between different character’s POVs, TJR still moves seamlessly between different POVs in a chapter. This way you still learn a lot of what each character is thinking in the moment. I think this is really cool and fun to read, especially when their thoughts contrast each other. I loved reading this with the siblings as they all have such different personalities:

“Hud found it hard to be mad at someone who was suddenly being so transparent. Jay found it refreshing, the idea that it was OK to admit you suspected yourself of being a dickhead, deep inside. Nina had to stop herself from rolling her eyes.” (325)

yellow outline of 2 surfboards one with flowers the other with waves standing in the water

Final Thoughts

I read this book as part of a book club with a few friends, so I’m looking forward to discussing it further with them! This book didn’t have as many twists as I expected. It’s almost as if I knew what was going to happen, but not in a bad way. It was set up so you could inevitably see what was going to occur, but when it eventually happened I was still shocked.

Have you read Malibu Rising or are planning to read it? Do you agree with my thoughts? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Cover photo is by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

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Review: The Lives of Saints by Leigh Bardugo

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“There have been too many stories in between, miracles and martyrdoms, too much blood spilt, too much ink. There was a war. There were a thousand wars. I knew a killer. I knew a hero. They might have been the same man.’’ 

The Lives of Saints, Leigh Bardugo

Hi everyone! Today I will be talking about The Lives of Saints by Leigh Bardugo which is a companion book to her other books in the Grishaverse. Also if you are a Grishaverse fan, you might be interested to know that there’s an art fundraiser going on right now until April 23. Artists have teamed up and designed beautiful Grisha-themed works for sale on RedBubble with all proceeds going to support BLM and Stop Asian Hate. Check it out here!

How stunning is this book?

The Lives of Saints tells the stories of the various saints in the Grishaverse, and the physical copy is actually designed to look like a copy of the Istorii Sankt’ya that Alina would have in Shadow and Bone! I love this idea because it’s like you have something out of the universe for yourself. When it first was released, there was a lot of criticism on how the half dust jacket looked with the book, but the reason it’s there is so information is not printed on the physical book and it looks as close to a replica as it can be. The dust jacket can easily be taken off too!

close up of gold detailing on the red cover of "The Lives of Saints", background is the sky and branches of a tree
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I would recommend getting a physical copy of the book if you can, as it is so pretty! The book is very sturdy and the texture makes it feel like a real religious text, especially with the beautiful gold foil decorating it. This attention to detail continues on inside with beautiful illustrations for each saint’s story. I initially wasn’t sure if I would buy it for myself since it is on the pricer side, but I was lucky enough to receive a copy as a gift from my friend, Karli! I’m really grateful that she got it for me because it is the perfect addition to my collection! 

Thoughts on the Stories

I first heard the story of Sankt Nikolai, because Leigh Bardugo read it on her IGTV just before the release date and I loved it so much. (I think this would be great to read in audiobook form as well! I also just saw that Ben Barnes narrates it so, YES) The stories are just a few pages long so it is very fast to move through, but I also think you could take your time and come back to this book since they all are individual stories! The Lives of Saints displays Leigh Bardugo’s work as an incredibly enchanting storyteller with the twists and turns she packs in these short stories. Some people might prefer The Language of Thorns for the longer stories, but I personally enjoyed The Lives of Saints more!

Some stories are based only on the saint’s life, while others tell the story of someone who prays to that certain saint. I think my favourites were probably Sankt Nikolai and Sankt Egmond (which gives the story of how the Ice Court came to be, which Six of Crows fans will love). There are of course other references to the Grisha Trilogy with “Sankta Alina of the Fold” and “The Starless Saint” at the end of the book which were also very cool to read. The stories can get quite dark (a lot are martyr stories) and I think I had a nightmare from reading this before bed the other night, so I’d recommend maybe not reading before bed if you’re like me…

Let me know your thoughts, feelings, and/ or questions on The Lives of Saints! Have you read it, or are you planning to?

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