Review: The Hole in the Middle, by Kate Hilton



A free book I picked up from Amazon, I’m not sure what enticed me to read it, but I’m glad I did. The basic story was not that profound but the characters and their decisions throughout really hit home for me. It’s about Sophie, who is about to turn 40. She is married, has kids, has a stressful job, and of course has a past that involves another man. Throughout the book she is constantly questioning herself and her decisions. She wonders if she has made the right choices, if she would be any happier had she travelled down another path and this is something I think we all end up asking ourselves at one time or another (or maybe it’s just me).

Her coping mechanisms are those of any person under stress. At first she tries to ignore it, tries to feign that everything is fine to anyone in her world, but eventually that falls apart and she is left upset and vulnerable. I thought that the book was headed down a particular path around mid way through it, but the writer surprised me and went another direction that I think worked out really well, and reminded me that some times that we just think the grass is greener on the other side but it doesn’t always have to be true.

All in all, a nice easy read with memorable characters and a surprising ending.

4/5 stars

Review: The MacKinnon’s Bride, by Tanya Anne Crosby


I’ve said this before and I’m sure I’ll say it again. Sometimes, I just don’t feel like thinking. I picked up this book back in April when I was doing a lot of travelling and I completely forgot to write a review when I finished reading, so it’s a bit late. It helped that I also got the book free on Amazon during a promotion. You can never go wrong with free books.

This highland romance novel was about Iain MacKinnon and his son (who is kidnapped at the beginning by the English). In retaliation for the kidnapping, Iain captures the daughter of his enemy, expecting to use her as a bargaining tool. Things don’t work out in his favour though as the English laird doesn’t want her back. She is of course, furious at being kidnapped, and in a typical romance story sort of way, they fall for each other while the rest of the MacKinnon clan look on with disapproval.

I didn’t start getting into the story until the last 25% or so. It felt like there was a lot of “filler” material throughout, as though the author was trying to meet some sort of page deadline. I enjoyed the basic story, but the characters (for me) fell short. I grew frustrated with Page as soon as I met her. One minute she seems hell bent on getting her way and is a ferocious lion and the next second she’s as brainless as a scarecrow without any real reason.

Still, it was exactly the type of book I was looking to read, and I suppose I got what I was looking for.

3/5 Stars


Review: The Kitchen House, by Kathleen Grisson



I love books that are historical fiction, and was surprised to hear that this was Grisson’s first novel. It’s about a white woman who grows up as a servant girl on a plantation, experiencing life from that perspective. Yes, the book does have stereotypes and they can come across strong at times – but – the writing was really well done, and I loved the story. It was one of those books I couldn’t put down.

The life of the servant girl is one of a lot of pain and heartache. Lavinia loses her parents while on a ship from Ireland, and is taken in by the servants of the plantation. She witnesses all of the horrible things that happen at “the big house” and eventually as she gets older, she moves from the servants quarters to the big house because of the colour of her skin. She’s shown that she is not like the servants, even though she has no desire to treat them ill or begrudge them in any way for her upbringing.

The book isn’t sunshine and roses that’s for sure. There’s a LOT of heartache that goes on, a lot of angst and pain. Life was hard, and Grisson does a wonderful job of conveying that feeling. The characters are colourful and detailed, and you really get a sense of what the plantation would be like – something that almost always pulls me into a book.

Highly recommended, though keep in mind it does follow stereotypes and isn’t a very happy novel. I still feel that the writing style and the story itself is able to overcome these things.

4/5 stars

Review: Crow Lake, by Mary Lawson


In an attempt to branch out from my typical genres, I decided to join a book club hosted by Random House, and this was their current book selection, along with a chat with the author taking place on December 3rd. When I initially signed up I did not expect to finish the book in time because there was less than a week to go, but I found myself pulled into the story right away and finished it with lots of time to spare.

Crow Lake is beautifully written, and incredibly emotional. You follow the story of a family who lives in a small farming community, from the perspective of a middle child. They undergo incredible tragedy early on and must either learn to cope, or lose the closeness of their family.

I had a bit of an issue with the main character’s perspective but I think it was because I found her hard to relate to. She was incredibly aloof and I found her to be self centered masked behind a “this is what I think is best for the family” persona.

The book also (in my opinion) ends rather abruptly. You’re very slowly and cautiously lead through the happenings of this family, painstakingly falling into their world bit by bit and it all builds up to one moment where everything is unleashed – and ends, within the same last section. It left me wondering and wanting more, which I suppose is the purpose.

Still, I’m very glad I picked up Crow Lake and highly recommend it. A wonderful book by a fantastic Canadian author.

The Bookstore – By Deborah Meyler



The bookstore was advertised to me as a ‘quirky’ book about a young woman who finds herself single, pregnant, and working in a bookstore (while also working on her PhD in art history at Columbia) and it certainly delivered. I found it easy and relaxing to read although there were parts that annoyed me.

The main character, Esme, is a smart young woman but in sections of the book she seems way too naive. Overly so. More so that I would have believed of a “real” woman. Especially because in other sections she’s not naive at all. Everyone came across as a bit too perfect – except Esme’s ex-boyfriend of course.

The characters are colourful, and I found myself wanting to hear more about them as the story progressed which is always a good thing except that the book never delivered on my desire.

There’s a lot of details about her schooling, and her ex-boyfriends career. Details about the bookstore which I found really endearing. The writing flip-flopped while I was reading though, from being detailed and quite intricate to being very plain and simple. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it did make me want to skip some of the boring bits to get to the main story again.

Over all, I do think it was a well written debut novel. No issues with grammar or layout of the ARC I was given in return for an honest review. I would recommend it for anyone looking for a light romance story with a lot of education packed behind it – and of course anyone who loves those little bookstores that are tucked away in all of our cities.

4/5 stars

Review: Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl, by David Barnett



Reading this book reminded me of reading an older, golden age comic book – but not the kind full of heroes with wondrous powers. Instead, it conjured memories of The Phantom, The Lone Ranger, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. In fact, many of the heroes we meet are of the famous (and infamous) variety.

While not always featured in the book, several characters are introduced that awaken your imagination of the era in which the story is set.

Bram Stoker (and Dracula). Jack the Ripper. Einstein’s father. Indiana Jones’ grandfather!

Together with the young protagonist Gideon Smith, a strong willed fisherman’s son, from a fishing village out in the sticks, the author weaves a quick-paced tale that reads like an old pulp fiction.

Its a fast paced tale that intertwines magic and steampunk themes, and it does it fairly well.

Gideon finds himself on a mission to find help from a renowned adventurer, Captain Lucian Trigger. Along the way he befriends allies and adventurers alike, learning about himself and what it means to be a hero.

Its a very quick read, but it was throughly enjoyable.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Thanks for reading!