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Showing posts from February, 2014

"How to Get a (Love) Life" by Rosie Blake

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Nicola Brown has always played it safe.  Everything from her home to her diet is neatly ordered and her dating life is no different.  If by neatly ordered you mean non-existent.  Her colleague Caroline thinks it’s time for a change and so she takes a strong stand by daring Nicola to go on as many dates as she can so she can finally spend Valentine’s Day in a relationship.
But Valentine’s Day is only three months away and well, the men she’s been meeting aren’t exactly who she would consider to be true love material.  But Nicola quickly finds out that dating isn’t as bad as she thought it would be, even with the dodgy dates.  In fact, it’s actually quite fun.  And it turns out, she may not need to look too far to find love.
How to Get a (Love) Life is the debut novel from Rosie Blake.  With a cast of characters that includes cringeworthy guys, the amazing friends you want in your life, and a heroine who is oh so loveable despite her quirks, this book is a fantastically fun read.
I got …

"The Bear" by Claire Cameron

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Five-year-old Anna and two-year-old Alex (aka Stick) are camping on a remote island with their parents when the unimaginable happens - a rogue black bear attacks their campsite.  Through quick-thinking, Anna and Stick are saved by their father but unfortunately, their parents aren’t so lucky.  When Anna and Stick emerge from their hiding place, their dying mother urges Anna to get herself and Stick in the family canoe and paddle away.
But very quickly the canoe runs aground and the two children are left to fend for themselves in the wilderness.  As they battle hunger, the elements, and the looming presence of the black bear, Anna does all she can to stay brave and save her family.
The Bear, by Claire Cameron, is a heartbreaking novel of family, love, and survival.  Told in the voice of Anna and reminiscent of Emma Donaghue’s Room, it will have readers glued to the pages, unable to put it down.  A difficult book to read, it will pull on your heart, have you an emotional mess, and haunt…

"Radiance of Tomorrow" by Ishmael Beah

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The civil war in Sierra Leone has ended and people are beginning to head home.  Two of these people are Benjamin and Bockarie, who arrive in Imperi to find nothing but ruins and bones.  But as more villagers come back, a community springs up in its place.  Both Benjamin and Bockarie return to their former jobs as teachers but they quickly learn that it’s not so easy to return to the way things were.  
A foreign mining company has set up in Imperi and while they promise to bring good to the town, they are bringing the opposite.  The towns water supply has been ruined and the streets are strewn with electric wires.  Rape and death have become common, the locals who go to work for the company are treated as expendable.  But for people like Benjamin and Bockarie, working for the company becomes the only option for survival.  
Radiance of Tomorrow by Ishmael Beah is a beautiful, lyrical novel about post-war nations and the trauma of those who lived there.  Beah first came to our attention …

"Never Google Heartbreak" by Emma Garcia

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Vivienne Summers is heartbroken when her fiancé Rob breaks off their engagement for a third time.  Miserable and alone, she does what any heartbroken girl would do - she Googles heartbreak.  But when faced with the depressing results she receives, she decides to start her own self-help website for the broken-hearted.
Even though Vivienne is trying to help others get over their heartbreak, she is determined to win Rob back and won’t let something like his new fiancée get in her way.  But when she finally gets what she wants, she realizes that maybe Rob isn’t the one, and her true love was right there in front of her all this time.  Will she be able to find her happiness or will she experience heartbreak once again?
Never Google Heartbreak is the debut novel from Emma Garcia and is a fun chick lit novel full of craziness, laughs, and heart-warming moments.  This book had so many laugh out loud moments for me, and I found myself reading parts aloud to my husband many times, and they had …

"Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad

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A journey along the Congo River in search of a mysterious man known as Mr. Kurtz, Joseph Conrad’s novella The Heart of Darkness takes readers on a descent into madness.  Eerie, troubling, difficult, not words one would typically use when first describing a classic novel but it fits for this one.  The narrator Marlow goes in search of Mr. Kurtz, a man he has built up in his mind as the epitome of the white man saving colonial Africa.  But along the way he discovers that he had things the wrong way around.
I liked the premise of this book, I liked the way it made me reflect on the history of European colonialism and I liked the way it depicts the attitudes that shaped this world.  I did not like the writing style.  For me, it just didn’t flow the way I had hoped.  Like others who have read the book, I found the use of metaphors a little much. 
This is a story of greed, morality, racism, and the human capacity for evil.  What I like about this book compared to other classics I’ve read i…

Sunday Headlines

A few stories that caught my eye this week
*J.K. Rowling says the Harry Potter ending may be wrong (I'm sure EVERYONE has heard this already.)
*The Toronto Public Library has chosen Steven Galloway's The Cellist of Sarajevo as their One Book for the 2014 Keep Toronto Reading Festival.
*Retreat by Random House asked Canadian Olympians what they will be reading while in Sochi.
*No matter where you live in the world, you've probably heard about our "illustrious" mayor, Rob Ford.  Toronto Star reporter Robyn Doolittle has written a book appropriately titled Crazy Town and was on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart this week to talk about it.  You can watch it here.

"The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris" by Jenny Colgan

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Anna Trent had a job she enjoyed as a taster at a chocolate factory.  But an accident at work left her in the hospital for months and recovering from a traumatic injury.  While in the hospital, she found herself back in touch with her French teacher Claire, who was able to recognize that thirty-year-old Anna needed a change.  And so Claire offered her the opportunity of a lifetime.
Against her better judgment, Anna found herself off to Paris, living in a tiny flat and working with a master chocolatier.  But this little Parisian chocolate shop was a far cry from the factory back in the UK and there was a definite learning curve for Anna.  And when her boss Thierry fell ill, Anna found herself on a mission to reunite him with his former sweetheart Claire, all while falling in love herself.
The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan is a lovely, sweet chick-lit novel that knows just how to grab attention - with chocolates and Paris.  Going back and forth between the present an…

"Perfect" by Rachel Joyce

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In 1972, to balance the clock with the movement of earth, two seconds were added to time.  Eleven-year-old Byron Hemming found out about the two seconds from his friend James at school, and though he assured him it wasn’t a big deal, Byron worried about what effect these two extra seconds would have.  Until the day it happened and Byron's life changed forever.
His mother Diana was driving Byron and his younger sister Lucy to school when Byron saw the second hand of his watch go backwards.  It was at that moment that the accident happened and their perfect world shattered.  As Byron and James tried to make it right, things began to spiral out of control even more.
Perfect is the latest book from Rachel Joyce, author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.  A tender and heart-breaking novel, it is a story of the human spirit, the quest for perfection, how much control we really have over life, and the effects one moment can have on the rest of your life.
The book goes back and for…

Sunday Headlines

The stories that caught my eye this week:
*BookRiot lists 10 reasons why you should (re)discover CanLit in 2014
*CBC Books shares 10 Canadian women you need to read.
*Eric Walters has written 92 books in 20 years.  It’s book #82 that might actually make him a household name.
*Novelicious shares 10 of the most dramatic Sweet Valley High Covers (and thankfully, this is the just Part 1)

Favourite Reviews of the Week

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Here are two of my favourite reviews from the past week:
Barracudaby Christos Tsiolkas
From 52 Books or Bust: It is edgy, political, and somewhat controversial, but Barracuda is also highly readable. That Tsiolkas is a great writer is without a doubt...Tsiolkas takes the reader into the working class of Australia and shows many of the biases and racial prejudices that exist in Australia today. 
This is a book I came across but I wasn't sure if I wanted to read it.  Now that I know that it examines class and bias in Australia, I do want to read it.  I love exploring cultures in this way, and the competitive swimming part also has my interest.

Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh
From Leeswammes' Blog: A strange, but interesting book.
This comment sums up exactly what I've been thinking every time I come across this book.  At first I wanted to read it, then I wasn't sure, now I want to read it again.  Judith gives it 4 out of 5 stars, so I think despite her comment that it was a …