Category Archives: Fiction

Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell

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I’ve heard great things about this book for a long time, but regardless of what everyone was saying, I was still hesitant to pick it up. It seemed like it was a romantic fiction for young adults and to be honest, it is. But it’s so much more than that.

It is such a beautiful story that brought me back to my high school days and what new love felt like. Love that consumes you and you can’t sleep, eat or think straight because you are about to burst if you don’t spend every waking second with your new love. Learning new things about them and discovering things about yourself, by just being near them.

This story isn’t just about love. It is about being different at a new school. Being from an abusive home. Being bullied at school and how one girl had to let her guard down to let someone new in.

This story was incredible and I couldn’t put it down. I highly recommend reading it, if you haven’t already.

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The Martian (Novel) by Andy Weir

The_Martian_2014From page 2 of this book I was hooked. It’s compelling, funny and very suspenseful!

It’s been called a mash-up between Apollo 11 and Castaway.

The story is about an astronaut–Mark Watney–that is stranded on Mars (not a spoiler, it’s one of the first things that happens in the book) during a horrible storm that sweep through their location and carried Watney out of sight. The book is about how he struggles to survive all alone 33.9 million miles (54.6 million kilometers) away from Earth, while his crew believes he’s dead and so does the entire planet.

I found out midway through the novel that there will be a movie coming out this year, with Matt Damon as the lead (as well as an incredible all-star cast). For the rest of the book, I couldn’t get Matt Damon’s face out of my head while imagining Mark Watney walking around the Hab (Martian habitat). This’s why I like reading the book before there is a movie (in some cases), so it doesn’t affect my vision of what I created in my mind from the author’s words.

The majority of this story is pretty believable, but there was one part I just couldn’t get onboard with. Every one of the astronauts served dual purposes, and for the most part were comparable traits. But Mark Watney was a botanist and mechanical engineer. I just don’t see how that would ever be possibly. But it did come in handy while you have a character living on Mars. How convenient.

I don’t know how I feel about Mark Watney. He’s a genius and was extremely innovative when he needed to be. But his personality seemed that of a college frat boy. I guess you could caulk it up to a man not caring about his attitude in the predicament he was in. But it did give a lot of comic relief to the novel.

I wish I could tell you more about this story, but I don’t want to give even one little bit of the story away! You have to read and it find out for yourself! You will be on the edge of your seat and loving every moment of it!

Enjoy!

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The Love Song of Queenie Hennessey – Rachel Joyce

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I was so excited for this book to be released. So excited I borrowed an advance copy from a co-worker, before he even had a chance to read it.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is one of my favourite fictional tales. I laughed, I cried, I wrote a blog post.

In saying that, I probably had my hopes up a little too much for The Love Song of Queenie Hennessey.

I liked how we saw the tale of Harold Fry from Queenie’s side. I wish I reread The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry before I read this book. There was a lot of I have forgotten, like Harold sneaking into the brewery and smashing the clowns, for instance.  

My favourite part of the book was the ending. It was spectacular!! I was definitely thrown for a curve!! I loved it and hated it at the same time! (You’ll see why!)

I probably would have enjoyed the book a little more if I didn’t have David’s story (Harold’s son) happen in my life recently. It was very hard to read and had skewed my view on the book because it was very emotional for me.

Throughout the tale I was frustrated with Queenie and the way she chose to live her life. I wanted more for her. I couldn’t get beyond her spinster ways. I guess because she is so different from me and I couldn’t relate. I wanted to shake her and take her out and find her a man to love, other than Harold.

Overall, I do recommend this book and Harold Fry will always hold a place in my heart.

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Game of Thrones!!!!

book1book2The countdown is on for the Game of Thrones season premiere this March the 31st!! And I know I couldn’t be more excited!! That Sunday will be a glorious day! Since the season finale of The Walking Dead will be on at the same time!! Thank goodness I have Easter Monday off because it is going to be a long night.

It’s been said that the third season is going to be the first half of A Storm of Sword (Book #3), so we’ll be waiting another year for the fourth season to conclude the entire third book. The suspense is going to kill me!!

book3Some of you might be thinking, “Why don’t you just read the books?” Well, I thought about it at first, when the show originally aired. But I was book4confused enough by all the characters in the show. I didn’t know how I would tell them apart without remembering their faces. I guess I could have kept the Game of Thrones family tree printout next to me as I read. But I also enjoy having my best friend come over on

Sundays and share in the experience of watching it together and discussing the episode once it’s over. If I read the books now, it would spoil what it to come.

book5But I might have to obtain the Game of Thrones Cookbook, so I can have an authentic medieval feast in celebration of the premiere.

cookbookYes, there is a cookbook! And it looks awesome!

To all of you G.O.T. fans – Winter is almost here!! 

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One Good Hustle – Billie Livingston

This book reminded me of the show The Riches, with Minnie Driver and Eddie Izzard. I loved that show. I have no idea why it was cancelled. But anyway… It reminded me of this show because both of these families are scavengers. Not wanting to adapt to society and live like normal people, by working a legitimate job to earn a buck. 

They thrive off the weak and gullible. “Hustling” them to make some money so they can just turn around and spend it on booze. The sad part about this book, is hearing the stories of their 16-year-old daughter–Sammie Bell–who has moved into her friend’s place after her father took off and her mother’s alcoholism has reached a new low, by turning dangerous tricks that gets them into trouble. 

Sammie tells tales of her childhood, and how she remember pulling jobs with her parents at such a young age, and you can see by her interaction with people in the present how this has affected her. How she relates to others trying to show her affection and express their love. These emotions confuse her and she runs away from anyone trying to help.

I got pulled away from the main story and got wrapped up in the love story between her and her friend Drew. But that was a mistake because I was left wanting closure, from a story that will never come. But that is my own fault for getting caught up in Hollywood romanticism that was clearly not the overall conclusion but a mere blimp in the story line.

Overall, it was a great read and I would recommend it to all! It was definitely a gripping tale!

ENJOY!!

Summary

The child of 2 con artists, 16-year-old Sammie Bell always prided herself on knowing the score. But now she finds herself backed into a corner. After a hustle gone dangerously wrong, her mother, Marlene, is sliding into an abyss of alcoholic depression, spending her days fantasizing aloud about death–a goal Sammie is tempted to help her accomplish. Horrified by the appeal of this, Sammie packs a bag and leaves her mother to her own devices.

With her father missing in action, she has nowhere else to go but the home of a friend with 2 parents who seem to actually love their daughter and each other–and who awkwardly try to extend some semblance of family to Sammie. Throughout a long summer of crisis among the normals, Sammie is torn between her longing for the approval of the con-man father she was named for and her desire for the “weird, spearmint-fresh feeling” of life in the straight world. Sammie wants to be normal but fears that where she comes from makes that beyond the realm of possibility.
 
One Good Hustle chronicles 2 months in Sammie Bell’s struggle with her dread that she is somehow doomed genetically to be just another hustler.

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The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry – Rachel Joyce

Oh my goodness!! I am usually not a fan of anything that makes me cry, but I will make this an exception. I will not tell you if they were tears of joy or tears of sadness. But for the last 20 pages I had a Kleenex in my hand.

I loved this book. It was such an emotional, thought-provoking story.

I thought that the jacket was  sort of a spoiler in a sense. It mentions that Harold Fry walks 627 miles in 87 days. I guess we aren’t supposed to be wondering if he makes it or not. But it’s not the journey but the life-changing experience he has on the adventure.

This book really made me self-reflective; pondering things in my life that Harold was wondering as well. How quickly time passes and decisions in our lives we aren’t proud of–realizing that no matter how old we are it is never too late. I know it sounds very cliché, but the realization of these moments seem more profound when Harold is saying them. hehehe.

Other than Harold’s mantra “just put one foot in front of the other”, that was the only thing that sort of rubbed me the wrong way. Excessive repetition is a pet peeve of mine. But other than that The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is definitely worth the read! It was lovely!

ENJOY!!

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The Lola Quartet – Emily St. John Mandel

I want to begin this post by letting you know how sorry I am for the delay. I don’t need to tell you how crazy the summer time gets for social events especially when you are my age. Every weekend is book until August with weddings, bachelorettes, bridal showers, baby showers and if I can get a chance, a cottage weekend. 

Also, you will be happy to know that I graduated from the Book & Magazine program with honours in April, and as of June 1st I am officially working in marketing & publicity at a book publisher in Toronto. So needless to say that has been time-consuming as well. But the best part–other than working in the most amazing line of work ever–is that I commute to work on the train everyday and it has given me ample time to read, which I obviously love! So just because I haven’t been blogging recently does not mean I’ve been slacking in the reading department. I have read six books in the past six weeks and I can’t wait to tell you about them all! There hasn’t been a dud in the bunch! Apparently, I know how to pick’em! 🙂

The first one I am dying to tell you about is The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel. I flew through this book in days. It was such a great read.

It’s about a journalist in New York who is fired in disgrace, because of some horrible decisions on his part in his quality of reporting. (Can you tell I am trying to avoid telling you what actually happened? lol) This is the catalyst for a downward spiral of horrible things to come. I can’t even begin to tell you how bad!

The lead character, Gavin Sasaki, has no money, no job and no prospects for the future. So against everything his mind, body and soul were telling him, he decides to move back home to Sebastian, Florida–away from the glitz and glam of New York City–and move in with his sister, Elio.

Elio gets him a job working with her; she’s a real estate broker who deals in foreclosed homes (trust me, there is a reason I’m telling you this lol). And a couple of weeks ago while she was visiting a house she noticed a girl who looked very similar to Gavin, and the little girl even had the same last name as Gavin’s high school sweetheart Anna. (Strange right?)

So Gavin–who is alone and trying to find himself again after losing everything in his life–begins on his own private investigation to track down his ex and this little girl, to find out if she really is his offspring. But Gavin finds out that there is more to this whole story then he could ever imagine, and things start to get dangerous! Dum dum dummm….

The Lola Quartet is a work of literary noir, is concerned with jazz, Django Reinhardt, economic collapse, friendship and love, Florida’s wildlife problem, fedoras, and the unreliability of memory

There are aspects of this book that would appeal to jazz fans out there. Even if you’re not a fan of jazz I would suggest YouTube Django and listen to just one of his songs and it will make a jazz lover out of you yet! But not to worry you don’t have to be a jazz fan to absolutely love this book. It has more to do with mystery and intrigue. The jazz is just am added bonus. But there is so much I wish I could tell you, but I don’t want to ruin a single moment. So go out and read it for yourself!! 

P.S. I got to meet Emily St. John Mandel and she is absolutely amazing! She even signed a copy of her book for me!! 

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I could go on and on about how she has gotten rave reviews for this book by The National Post, The Globe and Mail and The New Yorker. Also, The Lola Quartet was chosen as May 2012 Indie Next pick. But you didn’t need to know all of that.. You were already on your way out the door to go pick up this book as we speak! See! I knew it! 🙂

ENJOY!

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Infrared – Nancy Huston

“Rena Goldblatt is a successful photographer, whose speciality is infrared images — the negative-like pictures emphasizing temperature patterns rather than conventional forms. The setting for the novel is a seven-day trip to Tuscany with her 70-year-old father and her stepmother — an excursion which turns out to be one of those ideas that are much better in the planning than in the actual experience.”

Rena is an unusual woman, and once you are introduced to her father, you can see why.

Every new detail you learn about Rena and her life is just as curious and unconventional as the last. Rena’s photographic books she compiles, all relate to sex. Children of sex workers or loved one’s of the random men she sleeps with. There is never a dull moment when Rena is around.

“Let’s deal with the conventional story line first. Rena’s father, Simon, is an unsuccessful academic, an acolyte of Timothy Leary (Rena took her first LSD trip at a very early age) who never quite acquired the focus and discipline to really achieve anything, despite grand ambitions. Her stepmother, Ingrid, is much more conventional and, on this trip, very much a stumbling Canadian tourist, not up to the grandeur of historical Florence.”

One of the things I found weird about Ingrid, was the fact that she called her husband “Dad”. This did baffle me at a couple of points during the dialogue.

“Anyone who has taken the Italian grand tour has seen a version of these multi-generational family excursions — while there is an incredible amount to see (too much, actually), the real preoccupation is where they can stop for the next meal, coffee or even just a pleasant bench and some rest. It is not a particularly dramatic story line, but Huston captures it with a touching compassion.”

I have been to Florence before, so I found their travels to be intriguing. I could imagine them walking along the Ponte Vecchio and visiting the Uffizi Gallery, and stumbling upon the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore.

Rena has somewhat of an invisible friend. She knows she isn’t real, but she talks to her in her own head. Her name is Subra, and she allows Rena to recall horrible memories from her past, which gives you an image of why Rena is the way she is today. Subra is described as Rena’s “mental double” — “the imaginary older sister, who, these thirty odd years, has been sharing her opinions, laughing at her jokes …”

“Rena’s older brother, Rowan, was a sexual abuser who first attacked her before she was 10 — the abuse continued into her early teens. Accompanying her aging and declining father and a stepmother she really does not know well around the spectacles of Italy brings these childhood experiences and their result into an “infrared” focus.”

I thought it book had everything. Sex, family, love, loss and chaos. What more could you ask for in a novel?

(Source: Kevin from Canada)

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Atwood’s children series to get TV treatment

Breakthrough Entertainment has optioned Margaret Atwood’s Wandering Wenda & Friends from McArthur & Co for animated Children’s TV Series

Yesterday, McArthur & Company announced that it has sold TV rights to Margaret Atwood’s Wandering Wenda and Friends children’s books to Breakthrough Entertainment. The deal comprises rights to the series’ previously published picture books — Wandering Wenda, Bashful Boband Doleful Dorinda, Princess Prunella, and Rude Ramsay — as well as a forthcoming fifth fable, Silent Sam(all illustrated by Dušan Petričić).

Breakthrough, the Toronto TV production and distribution company behind HBO Canada’s Less Than Kind, and kids’ shows such as Crash Canyon and The Adventures of Dudley the Dragon, has confirmed that it’s developing the books into an animated series for preschoolers.

The news comes on the heels of another recent Atwood adaptation. Earlier this month, Payback, a documentary based on the author’s 2008 Massey lectures, came out to positive reviews (Quill and Quire)

 

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The Sense of an Ending – Julian Barnes

This past week has been phenomenal! I started my internship at McArthur & Company, which is a publishing company based out of Toronto, and let me tell you, it has been great! I am loving my commute to and from work everyday (not many people can say that lol). It gives me 2 hours in total to read on the train, and now I am flying through books! I only wish I had more time to write all my reviews! 🙂 But I am fortunate that I have today off!! So I thought I would let you know about an amazing book — The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes.

The Sense of an Ending is the 2011 Man Booker Prize winner, as well as an international bestseller, and I can definitely see why! This novel is very thought-provoking, extremely well written and it gives the reader a sense of their own mortality(Which is not always considered a good thing, but in this case, it is).

“What you end up remembering isn’t always the same as what you have witnessed,” muses Tony Webster at the beginning of the tale. Tony Webster is the lead character. We observe him throughout part of his high school career, as well as his retirement. The majority of the story is set in his later years, re-examining the tragedies that have occurred in his past. How instances in our lives shape and affect people, and how we might not even realize it. 

There is death, camaraderie, emotion and a hunt for answers to so many questions left without reply. (There is so much to tell, but I would never give anything away, even if it was a small detail). I would not wish to ruin any part of your reading experience. But there is a some hardship that overcomes Tony Webster in the beginning of his high school life that leaves him lost and confused. Hoping that one day he might find out the cause behind it all. 

What if you have questions for someone who is no longer around? Then one day, thirty years or more later, there is a glimmer of hope that you might find what you have been searching for?

I tried not to be too distracted by inferring what the answers were myself. But I was absolutely shocked in the end of what all came about! 

I hate to be so vague and leave you with such little information, but I do not want to wreck one moment of your reading experience, and trust me if you read this book you will not be disappointed! 

Here are some reviews:

“The book’s plot reads like that of a thriller paperbackfull of vengeful ex-girlfriends, youth suicide and illicit sex–though it’s Barnes’ masochistically lyrical insights on loss and memory that drives this novel’s recruiting fan base to keep flipping back the pages.” ~Forbes Book Review

“One of the novel’s persistent joys is how much mystery, nuance and pathos Barnes draws from his narrator’s pedantic but self-serving memories, without showing the reader his narrative hand. Barnes artfully teases the reader from the first page, following each revelation and dramatic incident with another round of Tony’s increasingly existential life reflections.” ~The Star

ENJOY!!

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