Sunday, September 30

Book Review: The Emperor of Paris

Title: The Emperor of Paris

Author: C. S. Richardson

Pages: EBook 178

Summary: Like his father before him, Octavio runs the Notre-Dame bakery, and knows the secret recipe for the perfect Parisian baguette. But, also like his father, Octavio has never mastered the art of reading and his only knowledge of the world beyond the bakery door comes from his own imagination. Just a few streets away, Isabeau works out of sight in the basement of the Louvre, trying to forget her disfigured beauty by losing herself in the paintings she restores and the stories she reads. The two might never have met, but for a curious chain of coincidences involving a mysterious traveller, an impoverished painter, a jaded bookseller, and a book of fairytales, lost and found . . .

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I found this to be quite an enjoyable read. The book was short, as were the passages and chapters, yet the author has an incredible ability to build the feel and images of his setting and characters. The story itself was well done, slow moving at times, but it worked for the book.

There were some lovely, passages filled with imagery throughout the book. The author did a wonderful job at painting some very lovely, tragic and vivid images that come alive off the page. The author also did a fantastic job at creating the characters, both main and minor that built the book. Even the "gossips" had their own flair to them that helped create the feel, smells and images of Paris during the time period. I think these short, but descriptive passages was what made me enjoy the book so much, as they brought such beautiful imagery off of the pages.

One of the things I disliked the most about the book was, while the story of both the individual characters and how it connected was a great story, I found that it to a bit choppy. I felt like there were pieces missing that would help connect everything, or add something to an individual's story and background. While some of the passages were truly beautiful, the entire book I felt like something was missing, that something was being held back, just out of reach. But overall, I found it to be a great read.

Would I recommend it to read: I would recommend it. I enjoyed it more than his first novel. It is probably not a book for everyone. As it does read more like descriptive prose, or free style poetry. The narrative is very different than the average book, but it worth checking out.

What to read next: The other 2012 Giller Finalists, The End of the Alphabet

Challenges: 12 in 12, 100+ Challenge, Canadian Book Challenge

Saturday, September 29

Book Review: Inside

Title: Inside

Author: Alix Ohlin

Pages: 258

Summary: When Grace, an exceedingly competent and devoted therapist in Montreal, stumbles across a man who has just failed to hang himself, her instinct to help kicks in immediately. Before long, however, she realizes that her feelings for this charismatic, extremely guarded stranger are far from straightforward. In the meantime, her troubled teenage patient, Annie, runs away from home and soon will reinvent herself in New York as an aspiring and ruthless actress, as unencumbered as humanly possible by any personal attachments. And Mitch, Grace’s ex-husband, who is a therapist as well, leaves the woman he’s desperately in love with to attend to a struggling native community in the bleak Arctic. We follow these four compelling, complex characters from Montreal and New York to Hollywood and Rwanda, each of them with a consciousness that is utterly distinct and urgently convincing. With razor-sharp emotional intelligence, Inside poignantly explores the many dangers as well as the imperative of making ourselves available to—and responsible for—those dearest to us.

My Rating: 7.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I started off not liking the book, but eventually I did find it hard to put down. I was pulled in, and it ending up being a fairly good book.

The story has a cast of some deeply flawed and damaged characters, it took a while to get into it, but some of their lives and how they got to where they were, was interesting to me. Captivating even, as they author brings to the surface some of the harsh realities the characters have faced, and how they choose to handle the decisions they made. This is a book that has a lot more to it than what you initially read, you almost have to dig deep to uncover everything that is contained in the book. I enjoyed Annie's story the most particularly how it ended, I think some readers wouldn't be happy with how hers ended, but I felt it very fitting. I think it's safe to say she was one of my favourite characters. I also enjoyed some aspects of Mitch's story line. He is a complex character, and he has a lot of issues, but I enjoyed some of his background, especially his time in Nunavut.

One of my main issues with the book were some of its characters, mainly Grace. I just couldn't stand her. I hated when the story was centralized around her. I was rather disgusted with how she was involved with Tug. It really bothered me, and I can't say for sure why. I didn't think she was a good psychiatrist, involving herself with Tug is part of the reason why. I had no sympathy for this character, and have some very strong feelings against her, and I can't pinpoint the exact reasons why. Her flaws, her inside turmoil, just didn't mesh for me. Compared to the other characters who all had demons, and troubled lives, as they tried to find themselves, she just didn't work for me.

One other issue I had with the book was how it was written. As it jumped around in time and setting, I found that it was hard to keep track of all the elements, especially the characters in the book, especially when they made appearances in other chapters (each chapter focused on a different character). For me the formatting of the book was more like a set of interconnected/inter-related stories, rather than a novel.

Overall the book turned out to be a good read, it's not one I loved, and it's not one I'd personally pick to win the 2012 Giller prize, but I do think it's going to be a contender, as it was a book that had a lot of hidden depth to its characters and overall storyline and one that would appeal to a lot of readers.

Would I recommend it to read: I would. While I didn't love the book, there is a lot to it, and there are a lot of readers out there would love the book. It has a lot of elements to it, and it is worth checking out.

What to read next: The other 2012 Giller Longlisters, Good to a Fault.

Challenges: 12 in 12, 100+ Challenge, Canadian Book Challenge VI, Fall Into Reading 2012

Book Review: Y

Title: Y

Author: Marjorie Celona

Pages: EBook - 249

Summary: Y. That perfect letter. The wishbone, fork in the road, empty wine glass. The question we ask over and over. Why?

My life begins at the Y.

So begins the story of Shannon, a newborn baby dumped at the doors of the YMCA, swaddled in a dirty grey sweatshirt with nothing but a Swiss Army knife. She is found moments later by a man who catches a mere glimpse of her troubled mother as she disappears from view. All three lives are forever changed by the single decision. Bounced between foster homes, Shannon endures neglect and abuse but then finds stability and love in the home of Miranda, a kind single mother who refuses to let anything ever go to waste. But as Shannon grows, so do the questions inside her. Where is she from? Who is her true family? Why would they abandon her on the day she was born?

The answers lie in the heartbreaking tale of Yula, Shannon's mother, a girl herself and one with a desperate fate. Yula spends her days caring for her bitter widowed father and her spirited toddler Eugene until the day she meets Harrison, a man who will protect her but also a man with a dark past and stories yet to be revealed. Soon they are expecting a daughter but as Yula goes into labour, she and Harrison are caught in a tragic series of events that will destroy their family and test their limits of compassion and sacrifice.

Eventually the two stories converge to shape an unforgettable story of family, identity and inheritance. Written with rare beauty, wisdom, and intimacy, Y is a novel that asks “why?” even as it reveals that the answer isn’t always clear and that it may not always matter.

My Rating: 9/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The story has a powerful beginning, and interchanges from Shannon growing up, to a haunting and emotional story of Yula, her birth mother and how Shannon ended up where she was. I found this book to be a beautiful and haunting read.

I loved how there were two different stories and it interchanged from chapter to chapter. It worked out wonderfully for this novel. I found that I was completely immersed in Yula's story and how she got to the point in the beginning of the book. The author did a wonderful time building up to the big reveal, it was a chilling and sad story, but told so well. I think how the author chose to tell Yula's story was one of the main reasons why I enjoyed I enjoyed the book as much as I did, was the build up to the end. Shannon also had a strong story line. Although I found more issues with what I didn't like with her storyline, more than Yula's, I think she was still a well developed and incredible character. My main issue with Shannon was the fact she was seemed to be the typical adopted, trouble child, who hase been through the system. While the author did an great job at developing and building Shannon, to which the reader will likely have trouble not having some sort of emotional connection to her, I did feel some of her personality traits and issues were predictable.

The ending was also lovely and very fitting for the book and its characters. I don't think the story would have had the same affect on me or other readers if it had ended any differently.

Overall, a lovely read, and one well worth checking out.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it was a great story, well written characters and one I think readers would enjoy quite a bit.

What to read next: The other 2012 Giller Longlisters

Challenges: 12 in 12, 100+ Challenge, Canadian Book Challenge VI

Friday, September 28

Book Review: Dr. Brinkley's Tower

Title: Dr. Brinkley's Tower

Author: Robert Hough

Pages: 413

Summary: Equal parts Mark Twain and Gabriel García Márquez, Robert Hough's wildly imaginative new novel takes us to 1931 and Corazón de la Fuente, a tiny Mexican border town where the only industry is a run-down brothel. Enter Dr. Romulus Brinkley and his gargantuan radio tower, built to broadcast his revolutionary goat-gland fertility operation. Fortunes in Corazón change overnight, but not all for the good. Word of the new prosperity spreads, and the town is overrun by the impoverished, the desperate, and the flat-out criminal. The tower's frequencies are so powerful the whole area glows green, and the signal is soon broadcasting through every bit of metal it can find: fencing wire, toasters, even a young woman's new braces.

Meanwhile, Dr. Brinkley has attracted the affections of Violeta Cruz, Corazón’s most beautiful resident. But is he really all that he seems?

My Rating: 7.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I have to say, I enjoyed this book a lot more than I originally thought I would. At first glance, I thought it would be similar to another award winning book I read last year, which I didn't enjoy at all, but this book turned out to be a good read. It had the right amount of humour, seriousness and fairly good storytelling.

I did feel that some aspects of the story were predictable and even a bit formulaic in how the characters and events were portrayed/played out. The whole event surrounding the Madam and the House of Gentlemanly Pleasures, for one. Also many of the plot line surrounding Violeta and how her character was built was also predictable. Without giving to much spoilers away, it had the overall sense that I'd read the book and seen the movie before. Despite having parts that were predictible, I still enjoyed the book. The setting of the book, and the little community, Corazón de la Fuente, were well written. The author did do a good job at brining in all the personalities of the characters and the town itself in full colour, I guess you could say. At times, I was very interested in what would happen, and was happy in how certain events (predictable or not) played out. I also loved most of the ending, save for one minor thing, but the overall ending was enjoyable.

It's a perfect read for a lazy afternoon, or that troublesome commute to work. Well worth reading.

Would I recommend it to read: I would. I think others like me may be slightly put off, but the book was a good read and well worth experiencing.

What to read next: The other 2012 Giller Longlisters, The Brothers Sisters

Challenges: 12 in 12 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, Canadian Book Challenge VI

Thursday, September 27

Book Review: Whirl Away

Title: Whirl Away

Author: Russell Wangersky

Pages: EBook 144

Summary: Everyone has something they’re good at: one particular personal skill that they use to keep their lives moving forward when their worlds suddenly become difficult or near-impossible. For some, it’s denial; for others, blunt pragmatism. Still others depend on an over-inflated view of self to keep criticism and doubt at bay.

In his new short story collection, Whirl Away, Russell Wangersky—author of critically-acclaimed fiction and non-fiction including The Glass Harmonica, Burning Down the House: Fighting Fires and Losing Myself and The Hour of Bad Decisions— looks at what happens when people’s personal coping skills go awry. These are people who discover their anchor-chain has broken: characters safe in the world of self-deception or even self-delusion, forced to face the fact that their main line of defense has become their greatest weakness.

From the caretaker of a prairie amusement park to the lone occupant of a collapsing Newfoundland town, from a travelling sports drink marketer with a pressing need to get off the road to an elevator inspector who finds himself losing his marriage while sensuously burying himself in the tastes and smells of the kitchen, these are people who spin wildly out of control, finding themselves in a new and different world.

Contents:

Bolt
Echo
McNally's Fair
911
Family Law
Little World
No Harm, No Foul
Look Away
Sharp Corner
Open Arms
The Gasper
I Like

My Rating: 9.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I loved this collection of short stories, which were incredibly well written. I also found that the characterization and plot were incredibly well developed. All of the characters were fleshed out, many deeply flawed characters, who captured me from the start. The plot was no different. Some of the stories seemed to be ones you've heard before. Stories of divorce, the mistress, troubled children and elderly ladies, but something about the writing, the execution and the final twists, made the stories into something very different. Sometimes a very dark and twisted different.

The endings of both Echo and Little World were both shocking. Although I was getting the basic idea of what was happening in Little World, it still had a fantastic ending. In fact, I think most, if not all the short stories in this collection made you stop and think what just happened. My favourites of the collection were Echo and Little World, but Look Away and Sharp Turn are two stories that stick with you for a while and were also good reads, worth mentioning.

It was a collection I read through quickly, but was also one I tried to savour, as I went over what just happened. A remarkable read, that I hope to see make it on the 2012 Giller Finalist list.

Would I recommend it to read: I would. This was a spectacular collection of short stories, incredibly well written, and ones that stay with you after you've finished them.

What to read next: The other 2012 Giller Longlisters, Who Do You Think You Are, Light Lifting

Challenges: 12 in 12 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, Canadian Book Challenge

Wednesday, September 26

Book Review: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

Title: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

Author: N.K. Jemisin

Pages: EBook - 218

Summary: Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky - a palace above the clouds where gods' and mortals' lives are intertwined. There, to her shock, Yeine is named one of the potential heirs to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle with a pair of cousins she never knew she had. As she fights for her life, she draws ever closer to the secrets of her mother's death and her family's bloody history. But it's not just mortals who have secrets worth hiding and Yeine will learn how perilous the world can be when love and hate - and gods and mortals - are bound inseparably.

My Rating: 7.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This was an enjoyable read, it sets up to what looks to be a fantastic series, and while I had some issues with the book, it worked out in the end and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

I loved the overall plot. It was very interesting, and it does look like it will work very well being carried forward into a series. The background story, the multiple kingdoms and races all have a lot of intrigue to them at the moment. I didn't learn a lot about them, but there was enough there to give me hope that there will be something to look forward in the other books of the series.

I enjoyed the overall writing of the book, although I found the formatting to be a little off, I'm not sure if this was an issue of the Ebook version or not, but the font sizes were a little wonky. The characters were okay, they had a lot of potential, but I didn't have one I loved. They were average characters, some of which found that some lacked proper development, although this being a series, perhaps it will be carried forward over the entire series, which would work for me. There were times I found the book to be a bit choppy and uneven with the plot, mainly on how events, characters etc. were explained. At times I found certain things, that seemed to be irrelevant to the central story to be over explained and repeated within the same page, while at other times, certain background information and important facts seemed to be glossed over. I did feel multiple times I was messing some kind of background information to the "Gods", history of the kingdoms and characteters, because I was never given a good explanation on some of these things. I hope in future books I get some answers.

In the end, it was a good read, and the rest of the series looks to have some great potential.

Would I recommend it to read: I would. It's the author's first novel from what I understand, so compared to other epic high fantasy it's extremely well done. I can see some readers being leery of it, because at times it was a bit choppy in the plot (especially compared to others in its genre), but it was a fantastic read, and I think readers should go in with no expectations and just read it. It's well worth it in the end.

What to read next: Broken Kingdoms (Next book in the series) Ian Irvine's Three Worlds Saga - First book is The View From the Mirror

Challenges: 12 in 12, 100+ Challenge, Speculative Challenge

Tuesday, September 25

Book Review: The Long Song

Title: The Long Song

Author: Andrea Levy

Pages: 310

Summary: You do not know me yet, but I am the narrator of this work. My son Thomas, who is printing this book, tells me its customary at this place in a novel to give the reader a little taste of the story that is held within these pages. As your storyteller, I am to convey that this tale is set in Jamaica during the last turbulent years of slavery and the early years of freedom that followed.

Perhaps, my son suggests, I might write that it is a thrilling journey through that time in the company of people who lived it. All this he wishes me to pen so the reader can decide if this is a novel they might care to consider. Cha, I tell my son, what fuss-fuss. Come, let them just read it for themselves.

My Rating: 7/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The first half of the book started off strong. I enjoyed the narration, and I enjoyed reading about July's life. I actually liked how much of an unreliable narrator July was, especially considering it was her life and experiences she was retelling. I enjoyed it because it does add some July as a character. I'm not sure if it was something I could say I loved about her character, but it did add something extra to the book. One way I looked at it, at least once I finished the book was how events, people and personal experience, at least the memory of it can change over time. How a person can have a selective memory (whether it's conscious or not) of these events, and of course what they choose to share and what secrets they choose to keep hidden. It was interesting to try to piece what the whole truth of what July chose to share from her life, and whether it was intentional or not.

Unfortunately, I found the second half of the book to drag. It just seemed to take a standstill and took a while to get to the end of the book. I began to lose interest in the book, July's life and what would happen to her. Even some of the "twists", I guess you could call some plot points, didn't have that drive to truly make this a captivating read.

Would I recommend it to read: I would. It was a good story. I may not have loved it, but I think a lot of readers would enjoy the book, as well as the narrator, July. It's also has a much lighter feel to it than other books about slavery. Which could be a turn on or off for readers.

What to read next: I couldn't think of one off hand, so I looked at the list off LibraryThing recommendations for the book, and thought Wide Sargasso Sea, was rather fitting.

Challenges: 12 in 12, 100+ Challenge, Global Reading Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

Saturday, September 22

Giller Fever

It's that time of year, the days are shorter, and cooler, the leaves on the trees are changing, the longlist of the Scotiabank Giller Prize has been released, which all add up to one thing. Giller Fever. What is Giller Fever? It's the undeniable urge to read all the books on the Giller Longlist. And I've, sadly (or is it happily?), caught it. In case you don't know here is the longlist below. Come back and I'll link up my reviews as I read the books.

The Longlist

Y - Marjorie Celona - My Review
Our Daily Bread - Lauren B. Davis - My Review
My Life Among the Apes - Cary Fagan
419 - Will Ferguson - My Review
Dr. Brinkley's Tower - Robert Hough - My Review
One Good Hustle - Billie Livingston - My Review
The Sweet Girl - Annabel Lyon
Inside - Alix Ohlin - My Review
Everybody Has Everything - Katrina Onstad
The Emperor of Paris - C.S. Richardson - My Review
The Impostor Bride - Nancy Richler - My Review
Ru - Kim Thuy - My Review
Whirl Away - Russell Wangersky - My Review

So, what exactly are the symptoms of Giller Fever.....

The first symptom: Looking at the list of books that were eligible for the longlist. For me it was reading the descriptions (all 142 of them) and creating a list of TBR books which was 73 for me, not including the Longlisted books. When I'll get to these books doesn't matter. But the list was well worth checking out. I found a whole bunch of Canadian Authors/Books I never heard of before. Sorry book shelves. (Click here to see the list of all the books that were eligible)

The second symptom: Upon learning of the longlist, hunting down the best options for obtaining and reading books. For me this included buying some of the books and getting myself onto the holds list at the library, before anyone else. This sort of worked. One book had no wait list, so I snatched it right away, but four of the books I had a hold on, came at once and two of are on order. So now I have a lot to read, and a lot to look forward to. And resist the urge to buying more books. Although one book I may still get the ebook copy of.

The third symptom: Avidly trying to read the longlist, before the shortlist is revealed. I'm trying to do this, although I don't think I'll actually get though the entire list from now until October 1. Unless I give up sleep. I've read two books, and am close to finishing two more. But that still leaves a lot of books to read. I've also been making my own predictions, for the shortlist. Originally I made my predictions based on the descriptions of the books which was:

1) Y - Marjorie Celona
2) Dr. Brinkley's Tower - Robert Hough
3) Everybody Has Everything - Katrina Onstad
4) Ru - Kim Thu
5) Whirl Away - Russell Wangersky

I also downloaded previews of all the books (that were available) of the books on my Kobo. After reading the preview for Y, I immediately bought it, and I'm looking forward to reading it. (Update, I'm almost half way through it and am absolutely captivated by it). Inside looks interesting and seems to have a similar themes to Good to a Fault, which wasn't a bad read. The Emperor of Paris also looks very promising, who I've also heard great things about in reviews. And 419 has also caught my interest. So now I'm trying to figure out who will appear on the shortlist, and of course win this year's prize, and I have to say, based on first impressions and reading experts from the books, I haven't a clue. I'm going to have to see how I feel once I finish a few more books. But I am looking forward to seeing who makes it to the shortlist.

Have you caught Giller fever? Have you read any of the books? What Are your predictions?

Monday, September 17

Book Review: Star Sullivan

Title: Star Sullivan

Author: Maeve Binchy

Pages: 106

Summary: Molly Sullivan said that the new baby was a little star. She was no trouble at all and she was always smiling... so she became known as Star and no one remembered that her name was Oona. Star Sullivan just wanted everyone to be happy - her father to stop gambling, her mother not to work so hard, her brother to stay out of trouble, her sister to stop worrying about every little thing she ate. Then the Hale family moved in next door, and from the moment Star saw 23-year-old Laddy Hale, everything began to change - until Star was no longer the sweet, thoughtful girl everyone loved and no one worried about...

My Rating: 7/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Not a bad novella by the author. But not an amazing book either. I loved the narrative, Binchy captures a lovely narrative. I think that's why I enjoy her books so much, is she can write just beautiful narratives and pull you in. She also sets up this little community wonderfully. The issue I had with the book was the story itself, just didn't grip me. Nothing in particular wrong with it, it just wasn't a story that reached me. I couldn't connect to the characters, and I didn't care for them much at all.

It was a good novella. The at author tells the full story, and some great character development in the end. But overall it was just a short little read for me, nothing to separate it from other short little reads I've read.

Would I recommend it to read: I would if you're a fan of the author, it holds her voice nicely, but I'd recommend her other books before this one. Also, good luck trying to find the book!

What to read next: More books by the author, Cathy Kelly, Marian Keyes

Challenges: 12 in 12, 100+ Challenge, Ireland Reading Challenge



Book Review: Spell Bound

Title: Spell Bound

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Pages: 337

Summary: Savannah Levine is in terrible danger and for once she's powerless to help herself. At the conclusion of Waking the Witch, Savannah an extraordinary powerful young witch with a dangerous pedigree swore that she would give up her spells if it would help a young girl caught in a horrible bind. Little did Savannah know that someone would take her up on that offer. And now witch-hunting assassins, necromancers half-demon and rouge supernaturals all seem to be after her. The threat is not just to Savannah - every member of the Otherworld might be at risk Spell Bound unites Elena, Clay, Paige, Lucas, Jamie, Hope and the rest, who will soon learn that the greatest threat to the supernaturals may come from within their own ranks.

My Rating: 7.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This wasn't the strongest book in the series but I still enjoyed it. I just wish a little more was focused on overall plot, and less focus on Savannah, as I grew tired of her in this book an found the focus on her character's development in this tired repetitive.

Although not a lot happened in the book as for action and adventure, initially I did enjoy it a lot. It was giving the reader a lot of information, setting up for the final story, and what I hope to be the final showdown. So although it was slowly progressing, I was fairly happy with a slower preliminary story, to help set up for the conclusion of the series.

Unfortunately, as I've said above, I grew very tired of Savannah. She is young, and needs to grow, and the author does ensure this character grows in a natural way, her attitude does reflect her age, but still it became repetitive with how Savannah acted because of her loss of powers. It just went on and on, and on some more. I couldn't help thinking this time could be better used to help wrap up some of the stories for the other characters. Still props goes to the author for ensuring her character is realistic. I may not like Savannah at times, but at least she is progressing in a natural way, and not suddenly magically the perfect character.

What I enjoyed most about the book - the anticipation for the next. I haven't read the final book yet, but I did make sure I had it ready on the shelf to read before I read this one. It does leave in a cliff-hanger of a sort. And I can't wait to see how it all ends. My only concern is that not a lot has been wrapped up. With so many characters in the entire series, it looks like it will be hard to wrap everything up in one story, which I was hoping would start in this one. In any event, it was still a good read.

Would I recommend it to read: As the series overall I would, and you have to read this book to the series, so that will be a yes.

What to read next: 13 - the final book in the series.

Challenges: 12 in 12, 100+ Challenge, Canadian Book Challenge, Finish That Series Challenge, Speculative Challenge

Sunday, September 16

Book Review: Waking the Witch

Title: Waking the Witch

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Pages: 314

Summary: Savannah Levine - the orphaned daughter of a notorious dark witch and equally notorious cutthroat sorcerer - has left her teen rebel phase behind and turned into a motorcycle-riding, jaw-dropper, with an impressive ability to perform spells. The big challenge is persuading her former guardians, Paige and Lucas, that she can be trusted to do the right thing. So Savannah jumps at the chance to investigate the mysterious deaths of three young women as a favour for one of the detective agency's associates. The murders seem garden-variety human, but on closer inspection they bear the signs of supernatural intervention. Soon Savannah is in over her head, nearly killed, and haunted by a mystery stalker. Pitted against demons, witches and human goons, she has to fight to ensure her first case isn't her last.

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This was one of my favourite books in the series and it does a fantastic job at setting up the for the final story, which is two books away.

Although Savannah has never been my favourite character in the series, I did enjoy her in this book. I did have a few issue with her, as she's still young, and at times she comes off as still being a teenager. Her character does portray her age nicely. At twenty-one she still has a lot to do to grow up and mature, compared to the other women in series, who all have a number of years on her and I find are more enjoyable to read, because of their maturity. But Savannah's age and maturity level does fit for the story nicely, as the author has her progress in a natural way. Still I prefer the other books more, because the voice is more mature, and I don't have to deal with the young adult, immaturity. Thankfully this book, has less of that, (it's saved for Spell Bound.)

I did like how the story and the young child in it, parallels Savannah's life a bit - it was interesting to see how it came together and how it ended. Although I was hoping for a little bit more of explanation on how the ending played out, as I felt that part was rushed and a lot left out. The main story itself, for a murder/thriller side of things, was enjoyable. I'm not the biggest fan of those types of books in general, this series being an exception - and sometimes even then I'm find myself having some issues with it. But this story, I did enjoy trying to piece everything together. It was suspenseful at times, which made the book hard to put down, other time predictable - but after reading ten books by the author, all of which follow similar plot devices, it's not hard to see what will happen next - and that happens with most series that are a long as this one.

Overall, the book is up there as one of my favourite books in the series. Looking forward to seeing how the series comes to a close.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, this was a very enjoyable book well worth reading.

What to read next: Spell Bound and Thirteen

Challenges: 12 in 12, 100+ Challenge, Canadian Book Challenge VI, Finish That Series Challenge, Speculative Challenge



Book Review: Hetty Dorval

Title: Hetty Dorval

Author: Ethel Wilson

Pages: EBook - 106

Summary: Seeking refuge from her mysterious past, the beautiful Mrs. Dorval arrives in a small British Columbia town at the confluence of the Fraser and Thompson Rivers. As Frankie Burnaby, the young schoolgirl Mrs. Dorval befriends, pieces together Hetty’s story, she begins to realize that her enigmatic idol is also a treacherous opponent.

Hetty Dorval, Wilson’s first novel, is a wise and expertly crafted tale of innocence and experience.

My Rating: 7/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The book started out strong, as it pulling me in right away. Unfortunately I found that the book was far too similar to books I've read before and that it followed a very stereotypical and predictable plot path.

The narrative was spectacular. I enjoyed the writing style, and how the narrative flowed throughout the book. It pulled me in from the start, and it's what kept me reading until the end. I almost wanted to savour the book, just on the writing and narrative alone. Although this particular story didn't grip me the way I wanted it to, I will read more by the author, as the writing was incredible.

Unfortunately, the rest of the book wasn't so spectacular. The story started out alright, but it turned to "I've read this before". It had a very stereotypical plot and characters. Taking place in a small community, where a new and somewhat strange women rolls in, who stuns and amazes people around her and of course a "scarlet woman". So of course she's seen as a bad influence on certain people and of course seen as manipulative. It was predictable and repetitive when Hetty continues to reappear and how she affected the lives around her. I also wasn't a big fan of the actual characters, and again it's because I felt I've seen them all in previous books before, there was nothing overly special that made me take notice of them.

Interestingly enough for the first half of the book, I didn't see Hetty as the person others saw her as. I was hoping this was a book showing how peoples misconceptions on people can affect the lives of everyone around them. But the book eventually turned to something different, which isn't entirely a bad thing, but it wasn't what I was looking for in a story. As I said before, I've read books to close to the same plot line before, so I grew bored with it. But it does kind of show how the author did a good job at structuring the book.

Overall, beautiful narrative and writing, but an average story - yet I will read the author again, the writing was just to good not to seek her out again.

Would I recommend it to read: I probably would. I didn't enjoy the story side of the book, but did enjoy the narrative and writing. But I do think this book is right up there for a must read book for a lot of other readers out there.

What to read next: I would defiantly read the author again, Breakfast at Tiffany's, A Room With a View

Challenges: 12 in 12, 100+ Challenge, Canadian Book Challenge VI

Sunday, September 9

TSS: August Wrap-Up!

Summer is coming to a close, it's back to school for some of you and now there is only four months left in the year. Where did it go? This month, was a busy month for me. Between work, holidays, a science fiction convention, and other things, I've been busy. Yet, still had time to do some reading - the long lines at the convention where a great place to read. As is my commute to work - which I'm  not a fan of, but the GOTrain, is an excellent place to read. I have to say I'm looking forward to fall, because it get cooler outside, and I always find reading a book goes great with a hot steaming cup of - anything.

The Books

This month I managed to read 10 books. I came close to to 11, but I had fallen asleep while reading my last book, having about 10 pages left. But, considering how busy I was this month, I'm happy with the amount I read. This month, I read a lot of "okay" books, and books I found I didn't enjoy that much. They all ad something that kept me reading, but for the most part, the weren't books that really captured me.  My favourite book this month is Circle of Friends and Daughters Who Walk This Path. With special mention to Years of Red Dust: Stories of Shanghai. My least favourite books were The Bad Girl and Do No Harm. Those Stargate books are just hit or miss for me, this one was a big miss. This month I had a very Canadian Theme going on for me as six books were by Canadian Authors - all of which were new to me. So although I didn't love all my books, I did experiment with different authors, and I'm glad I did.

1. Circle of Friends - Maeve Binchy - 8.75/10
2. Mistress of Nothing - Kate Pullinger - 6.75/10
3. The Bad Girl - Mario Vargas Llosa - 5/10
4. Due No Harm - Karen Miller (Ebook) - 5/10 
5. Nikolski - Nicolas Dickner - 6.5/10
6. The Heart Specialist - Claire Holden Rothman - 5.5/10
7. Stanley Park - Timothy Taylor - 6.5/10
8. Deafening - Frances Itani (Ebook) - 7.5/10
9. Years of Red Dust: Stories of Shanghai - Qiu Xiaolong - 8.5/10
10. Daughters Who Walk This Path - Yejide Kilanko (Ebook) - 8.75/10


The Challenges

I finished another challenge this month, and I was 10 pages from finishing a second challenge. But, as I stated above, as I was reading the book, I had fallen asleep (no the books fault). But regardless, well on my way to finishing up a handful of challenges for September, one of which I have finished already. The only challenge that has me concerned is the Finish That Series Challenge. I may just have to read the books back to back, that way I won't have to worry about forgetting what's happening.  But otherwise, I think this year I'll finish almost all of my challenges,

Completed Challenge 

New Authors Reading Challenge 2012 - 50/50 - 100% Complete - Completed August 30, 2012

Current Challenges

12 in 12 - 84/144 - 58% Complete
100+ Challenge 2012 - 80/100 - 80% Complete
1001 Books to Read Before Challenge 2012 - 11/15 - 73% Complete
Alphabet Challenge 2012 - 25/26 - 96% Complete
Canadian Book Challenge VI - 12/13 - 93% Complete
Finish That Series Challenge 2012 - 0/3 - 0% Complete (2 books read from series one)
Global Reading Challenge 2012 - 13/14 -93% Complete
Ireland Reading Challenge 2012 - 5/6 - 84% Complete
Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2012 - 29/50 - 58% Complete
Speculative Reading Challenge 2012 - 15/24 - 63% Complete

Countries Visited

This month I visited a few countries through my reading including Canada, USA, Egypt, Peru, China, Nigeria, and France.





Books That Followed Me Home

I was rather good this month and only 6 books followed me home. Partly because of the Sci-Fi convention I went to, I wanted to save my money for that. Still some good books followed me home.

1) 13 - Kelley Armstrong (she was at the convention, so I also got her to sign it for me)
2) The Colour of Tea - Hannah Tunnicliffe - EBook
3) Hetty Dorval - Ethel Wilson - EBook
4) Years of Red Dust: Stories of Shanghai - Qiu Xiaolong
5) Gold Mountain Blues - Ling Zhang - EBook
6) Secrets: Book Five of the Legacy Series (SGA - 20) Jo Graham and Melissa Scott - EBook



At the convention they had the Throne from Game of Thrones there. So, I got a picture of me in it, while reading a book.








And that was my August! Now I can catch up in September reviews, and hopefully a post regarding this years Giller Prize. Yup, I've caught Giller Fever.  Happy Reading Everyone!