2/5 Stars: Snowflakes and Sparks, by Sophie-Leigh Robbins

Another ‘pallet cleanser’ book, I read this when the power was out for two weeks during hurricane Fiona.

If you love Hallmark movies, this book is for you. It’s extra cheesy, over the top, with a huge dash of ‘will they, won’t they’ plot twists. Old Pine Cove is a lovely town that did make me want to move right in, and who doesn’t love a nice cozy winter setting.

Unfortunately this book had almost zero depth, and I need at least a tiny bit to keep interested. The characters lacked emotion, nothing really drew me to them. It’s a great fluffy lighthearted book, but some parts were confusing, like why the main characters went off to another room to flirt with each other when there was an elderly lady crying and bleeding on the floor in the next room. I didn’t really understand that part at all and it seemed out of place. Still, it passed the time and I made it through to the end, which is further than some books I’ve read.

2/5 stars

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2/5 Stars: The Bridge of Little Jeremy, by Indrajit Garai

I was approached and asked to give an honest review of this book in exchange for a copy – of course I accepted! Let’s get more new authors out there.

The book takes place in Paris (beautiful setting), and the author’s writing is lovely and descriptive, but also incredibly dark. That was my main issue with the book. It is about a boy named Jeremy, and his mother. He also has a dog, Leon. I love the relationship between Jeremy and the people in his life – but it wasn’t quite enough to keep me interested. Most of the book moves at a snail’s pace.

Jeremy’s mother is a difficult character to appreciate. I couldn’t relate to her, she was passive, and Jeremy was forced into more adult roles so that he could compensate for her childish nature. At times the story was confusing to follow, the author is great at description but it tended to drone on well past what was necessary, and you spend a lot of time in Jeremy’s head with his thoughts which got confusing.

The book is quite slow moving, and although it’s beautiful it just moved too slow for me. It simply wasn’t a book for me, though I’m sure others will appreciate it.

2/5 stars

5/5 Stars: Dungeon Crawler Carl by Matt Dinniman

Oh goodness. What can I say about this book.

The world has been all but destroyed, and the people who are left are dumped into an enormous survival style game that is being broadcast for aliens. Carl and his cat (Donut, also known as GC, BWR, NW Princess Donut the Queen Anne Chonk) are two of the characters trapped in this new ‘game’ and the key is survival.

I loved everything about this book – but it is quite over the top with violence, which might not appeal to everyone. The thing is, it’s SO over the top, that you can easily liken it to a video game, and it makes you feel a little bit better. As you get to the end of this first book you suddenly realize just how in-depth the story actually is, and yes, I most certainly will be reading the second one. Highly recommended, this is the book that I never knew I wanted to read.

5/5 stars

3/5 Stars: The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri

I had some issues with this book. First of all, it’s dark. REALLY dark. There seems to be almost no joy at all or any happy occasions – they are continuously shadowed by dark and that continues throughout the entire book. Even when you think something good might be coming along, chances are, it is not.

Priya is a maidservant with a huge heart. She’s strong, stubborn, and I love the character – but it also seems very over the top. Her love interest is Malini, who is a prisoner trapped in isolation by her brother.

The thing is, there’s barely any explanation on why any of this is happening. This is the first book in a series, but I felt like I was plopped down half way through with absolutely no knowledge. There was no cohesive history lesson on what the world is, who the people are, why they are doing what they’re doing. I felt like every time an event happened that I should have known more about why it happened. I could feel the Indian inspiration, but since my actual knowledge is lacking, it just felt as though I was supposed to know more than I did. It was a bit disjointed because of that.

I also didn’t really enjoy the multiple POV, and felt there was no need to introduce more. The world building was beautiful, the writing lovely (that’s what helped me get past the points I didn’t enjoy) and while I’m glad I read this book, I’m not sure if I want to follow through with the next one or not.

4/5 Stars: Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs

After reading the novella, I was eager to jump into the first book of the series. It once again stars Anna, an Omega werewolf, and her love interest (Charles). There are a number of background characters who make an appearance but she is the center. Their relationship is deep and layered, and a bit frustrating at times. The main story is a bit more background then I tend to like (there’s a rogue wolf going around killing people in the woods) and the world building isn’t as strong as I like either, but the writing is absolutely beautiful and the character development worked. All in all, it was an enjoyable, simple read – which is exactly what I was expecting, and what I wanted. Sometimes you just want a good story, and I feel like this provided one.

4/5 stars

Review: Desperate Duchesses, by Eloisa James

When the Netflix series of Bridgerton came out, people flocked to it. I didn’t realize it was actually a book well before it ever became a series, and while looking at the reviews I noticed that Felicia Day (who I happen to follow on GoodReads) had a recommendation for people who enjoyed these types of historical romance – and that’s how I came to find Desperate Duchesses. I attempted to read Bridgerton and I did NOT enjoy it at all. This book though? This book was magical.

If you’re a fan of The Queen’s Gambit (another Netflix show, what can I say) then you’ll appreciate this book even more, because there are some intense chess scenes in the book that will take you right back to that show. The author has a fantastic way with words, and this book was an incredible way to relax that did not require very much brain power but still kept me interested enough to turn the pages. It was like listening to a conversation take place instead of reading.

You’ll follow the story of Lady Roberta St. Giles as she tries to meet the man of her dreams (who she thinks is Duke Villier) but spread throughout the story is a number of other interesting characters, including her father (a poet) known as the Mad Marquees, and her distant cousin, Jemma, who is a bit of a calculating fiend, to be honest.

Without spoiling any of the book, I will say that the reviews of it can be quite harsh, so I’d give it a go yourself if you’re interested in those types of books and not rely solely on the public. Otherwise, I might not have given it a chance at all – and I’m so glad I did.

4/5 stars

Reading Challenge: 2018

I know, I have fallen behind in posting to this site for many months now, the last one being back in July 2016. I didn’t even write at all in 2017, even though I did read books. I can’t promise that I’ll be any better about it in the upcoming months but I do want to try. I set myself with a new reading challenge over on GoodReads for 2018, last year I managed 30 books which seemed a bit abysmal for someone who enjoys books as much as I do. Sure, things are busy, but even just a few minutes before bed can allow you to get some wonderful reading done.

So this year I’ve decided to aim higher, 50 books. 50 is what I would ‘typically’ read before having children, before moving to a new province, before my life became the complicated mess that it is these days. I am not sure if I’ll actually make it, but I am sure going to try. That’s approximately one book a week (give or take a few days) and so far I’ve managed two books for 2018. I don’t want to force myself, but on the other hand I don’t want to continue to fall so far behind, either.

Along with that new reading goal I decided that I wanted to read more Canadian authors, so I went to CBC Books and looked up what books people were talking about. My first two 2018 books were both by Canadian authors, and I’ll be talking about them more in the upcoming days (hopefully, again no promises). I’m trying to decide what I want to read for my third book of the year, something a bit different than what I’ve been reading I think (I’ve stuck to a lot of plain fiction).

Hopefully putting these goals down in text here on the site will inspire and motivate me to actually get the reading done (and the writing). I’m sorry for slacking so badly over the past year, and I can’t wait to share what I’ve been reading with everyone.

Review: The Song of Kahunsha, by Anosh Irani

299773A friend was giving away some of his books because he’s running out of room, and of course being the book lover I am, I decided to pick out a few to add to my own collection. One of them was this Canada Reads book from 2007 that I had never heard of.

The Song of Kahunsha is about a 10 year old orphan boy who lives in Bombay. One day he learns that the orphanage is going to be shut down, and instead of going that rout he decides to take his fate in his own hands, and sets out to find his birth father who left him on the steps so long ago.

One of the great things about this book is the innocence that Chamdi has, no matter how many hardships he faces. This comes across as a child’s method of coping, and it’s written in a magical way that pulls the reader through his world. His world is one of heartache, pain, and violence but also one of incredibly colours, hope, and belief. He learns that the world is rough, and even though he meets up with two children around his own age, Sumdi and Guddi, things are going to get a lot harder. Together they start collecting money for Anand Bhai, who “turns people into boxes”. Chamdi’s world is further shaken when on the day he is supposed to steal from a local temple, something terrible happens (as if enough had not already happened).

Still, Chamdi finds beauty. He sees things with the eyes of a child and he’s unable to completely give up his child-like ways, even though he sees evils all around him, evils that the reader understands but that the 10 year old Chamdi cannot.

This isn’t a happy ending book but sometimes you need something deeply emotional to shake you up a little and get you out of a reading rut.

4/5 Stars

At the Water’s Edge – by Sara Gruen

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The year is 1942, and Maddie and Ellis Hyde are out enjoying themselves at a New Year’s Eve party. Unfortunately neither one conducts themselves very well, and somehow through a weird series of incidents, they end up being financially cut off from their family, and headed to Scotland in the middle of a war to prove that the Loch Ness monster is a thing.

What?

Maddie and Ellis (married) are friends with Hank (who is also very wealthy) and all three head to Scotland on a ship in the middle of a war. Of course that’s not how we’re introduced to the book. First we learn of a mysterious woman who has just found out that her husband was killed, and their child has just died, and she is heartbroken so she kills herself by drowning in the lake that the Loch Ness monster lives in. If you think this book is a story about the Loch Ness monster, you would be incorrect. While this is the main theme played up in the beginning of the book, it becomes the background story and then resurfaces again near the end. Instead this book is about spoiled adults who treat each other poorly, and secret romances where in the end it’s all tied up neatly in a ‘too good to be true’ formula. Ellis is entitled, rude, and just plain mean. He treats Maddie poorly throughout the entire book and there’s never a redeeming quality about him in any chapter. He’s constantly drunk and making snide remarks about social standings. The reader is very obviously supposed to dislike him, but it comes across as being a bit too much. Especially near the end of the book where he completely loses it in a number of ways that I just couldn’t believe. Hank starts off as being exactly like Ellis, but then as we reach the end of the book we feel like we should forgive him because he has seen the error of his ways. I also didn’t quite believe this. Finally there’s Maddie, who is treated poorly but never stands up for herself, even though she talks about doing it often. She follows along to Scotland, begs her Dad for help, has her world fall apart, falls in love with another man while still being married, excuses her unfaithful behaviour by the reasoning that her own husband is horrid (which he is, but is that a reason to cheat?), has her father die, and yet still manages to ‘win it all’ by the end.

Honestly the best part of this book was the story of the widower, and we weren’t given enough information at all about his circumstances or enough details about the Lock Ness. Instead it just seemed like a cheap attempt at pulling at heartstrings (which worked) until everything all worked out at the last possible second. It’s too easy to feel happy about this outcome when the main character experiences nothing but hardship throughout the entire book (whether it is because of her own doing or otherwise).

An easy read and probably a good one for a lazy Sunday afternoon, but not highly recommended.

3 / 5 stars.

 

Review: The Giver, by Lois Lowry

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For some reason, unlike many of my friends, I did not read this book growing up. In fact I hadn’t even heard of it until someone mentioned the movie was coming out a while ago, and then I saw it in the book store and decided it was well past time I gave it a read (I have no interest in watching the movie at all, it just happened to come up in discussion).

It an easy read describing the day to day life of one Jonas. He talks about his community. He talks about how everyone is assigned a role. There’s no war. No fear. No choice. Everyone knows what is expected of them, and they’re trained to do exactly that. Jonas gets a very special role in his community, he is to be taught by ‘The Giver’. This is supposed to be high praise for him, that he has been selected and chosen. As he begins his teachings, he realizes that something is not right. That things are not as they seem. He begins learning and experiencing things that no one else has to go through. He begins to see both literally and figuratively.

This book is powerful. I know the opinions on it are varied and that’s part of the charm about it, but to me it spoke on a very personal level. It’s also one of those books where you don’t want to discuss what the ‘big thing’ is that happens in the book for fear of giving away the story. I know reviews like to talk about all the details, but honestly some things are better off left as surprises.

The Giver made me think. It made me consider things about life in a different light than what I had considered them with previously. It made me sad to think that what Jonas was living through could be considered normal. That he was the only one who slowly discovered that it wasn’t normal at all.┬áIt made me realize how privileged I am. How lucky. I came away from the book with so many thoughts and ideas that it took me a bit to work through everything and to collect my thoughts.

My only ‘issue’ with the book if it can be called that is the unsatisfying ending that leaves everything hanging. Of course that’s the point, the point is that the reader should imagine at that time what happens next, what path Jonas was headed down. I can hardly fault a book for that. In the end, if you’re looking for a laid back dystopian read and for some reason you haven’t picked up The Giver yet, I would suggest you give it a try.

4/5 stars