Quote

Be omnivorous, don't just read one kind of book, read everything. - Richard Wagamese

Monday, May 18, 2015

Review: Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova


Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Published: 2015
Pages: 352
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

 Joe is forty-four years old; he’s a proud Boston police officer, an Irish Catholic and a devoted husband and father to four.  Recently, Joe has been having issues with disorganization; he has sudden outbursts and some involuntary movements.  When Joe is forced to go to a doctor, he has no idea how much his world is about to change.  He is diagnosed with Huntington’s disease; a devastating disease that has no cure and a gradual, early death. Joe has to come to terms with his immediate future, and the future of his children, as each of his children has a fifty-percent chance of inheriting this disease themselves.

Joe wants to hold on to his position on the police force for as long as possible, but rumors start to go around and he doesn’t know how much longer he can keep his job. His involuntary movements start to increase, and he becomes embarrassed. Joe is mostly scared for his four children. He grew up believing his mother was an alcoholic, but now he realizes she had Huntington’s disease. His four children are young adults, and each deal with the disease in their own way. Should they get tested? What would happen if they tested positive? Can they live their lives to the fullest, knowing they would have an early death?


I read and loved Still Alice years ago, and couldn’t wait to read this one. It started off slow, but picked up and I really started to enjoy it. Genova writes from Joe’s perspective, as well as his daughter Katie’s perspective. Inside the O’Briens' is an eye opening and honest read. A family trying to come together to support their father but also confused about their own future.  I didn’t love this one as much as Still Alice, but I thought it was a great read. 


Friday, May 8, 2015

Review: Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel


Publisher:  Harper Collins
Released: 2014
Source: Personal Copy
Pages: 320
Rating: 3/5

Station Eleven is a post-apocalyptic book, and the story starts out really strong and believable. Jeevan Chaudhary attends a play featuring, a famous actor named Arthur Leander. During the middle of the play, Arthur has a heart attack and dies. Jeevan leaves the theater and heads home, and receives a phone call from his friend that he needs to get out of town, fast.  A plague has hit North America and within hours, those who are symptomatic are dead. Station Eleven tells the story of Arthur, Jeevan and a group of actors who roam around the ruins of this post-apocalyptic world.

Station Eleven started out really strong for me as a reader. Once the plague hits and everyone is panicking, it becomes very believable and real. Unlike many post-apocalyptic stories, you don’t just read about the “after,” you live the demise. This was my favorite part. Mandel explores before, during and after the pandemic.  While I loved those parts of the book, I didn’t completely love it.

All the character’s that remain are connected to Arthur Leander which seemed a little odd when 99 percent of the population is gone. Arthur is explored throughout the novel, and it felt like a character study of him. The post-apocalyptic world wasn’t really explored as much as I would have liked. Mandel likes to allude to these “horrible” things that happened to one of the characters, but she never explored or explained those things. As a reader, I wanted to know. The prophet could have also been explored more in my opinion. I felt like the action started and stopped right away. The book remained more about Arthur than anything else.


I liked this book, but it wasn’t a favorite and I really felt like it was overhyped for me. It started out really strong, and then I just kept waiting for something to happen. I think it’s worth the read, if you’re interested. I kept reading, I didn’t want to put it aside, but I had issues with the book. I have read and reviewed Mandel's Last Night in Montreal, and I would like to try her other books as well.


Monday, May 4, 2015

April Wrap Up


I had a great reading month in April. I read a variety of books, and can't wait to review some of them. I don't think I'm going to review every book that I read. Often, I find myself not wanting to review the next book on the list, and it slows down my posts. I think I'm just going to review the ones I really enjoyed and would recommend, the books that I really want to talk about.

Here's the list of books I read:

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple 3/5 Stars
Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova 5/5 Stars
The Education of Augie Merasty: A Residential School Memoir by Joseph Auguste Merasty 5/5 Stars
Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel 4/5 Stars
Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories by Sandra Cisneros 3/5 Stars
How to Love by Katie Cotugno 5/5 Stars
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn 3/5 Stars
The Storied Life of A J Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin 4/5 Stars
Golden Boy by Abigail Tartelin 4/5 Stars



Thursday, April 30, 2015

Review: The Republic of Dirt by Susan Juby


Publisher: HarperAvenue
Pages: 416
Source: Personal Copy
Released 2015
Rating: 5/5


The Republic of Dirt is the sequel or Home to Woefield. I really loved Home to Woefield and I couldn’t wait to  read about Prudence, Sarah, Seth , Earl and the other characters. Susan Juby’s Woefield books are funny, her characters are unique and enjoyable. The Republic of Dirt is humorous but also tugs at your heart. The characters  on Woefield farm have formed their own family unit. In the first book we learn Prudence inherits the farm, and it’s so run down and nonfunctional. In the sequel, 

Prudence is diagnosed with a thyroid condition, and she’s not much help around the farm. Seth is a recovering alcoholic, Earl is getting older, and little Sarah has to deal with her parents’ divorce.
Sarah’s storyline kept me glued to the pages. She’s so smart, so innocent and she becomes a pawn in her parents game of divorce. I had so many issues with her mother and father. They were so selfish and so frustrating. The story is told through the various characters’ narration, and each voice is unique and adds to the story. I loved Seth, and looked forward to his parts in the book the most.  He will make you laugh out loud.

I highly recommend both books. I enjoyed both and I hope Susan Juby will continue with these books. It's hard to review this one because I don't want to give away too much of the storyline. You can check out my review of Home to Woefield here. In Canada is was actually titled "The Woefield Poultry Collective."





Monday, April 20, 2015

Discussion Post: Americanah by Chimamanada Ngozi Adichie


Publisher: Vintage Canada
Released: 2014
Pages: 608
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: N/A


**Spoilers**

This is not an official review but a discussion post because I couldn’t finish this book. I read about 60%. It started off strong and I was loving it, then it started to go downhill and I couldn’t believe how irritated I became. Ifemelu is a Nigerian immigrant who moves to the US to finish her schooling. Political problems and student protests keep her from going to school in Nigeria and her boyfriend Obinze who is obsessed with America is forced to stay behind. This book is suppose to be about star-crossed lovers, except I didn’t think it really was. It’s in the book, but didn’t seem like a focal point to me. I felt like this book really was about race, nationality and stereotypes.

I really didn’t like any of the characters. They made their own decisions, and faced with the consequences, they never owned up to their mistakes. I didn’t feel sympathetic to them, I felt annoyed and irritated. Ifemelu was so focused on race, and racial inequalities, that she was never able to acknowledge any positive things in her life. It’s like she kept looking for unjustices. The hair salon storyline had me rolling my eyes with all the stereotypical characters that came in. It felt really forced to me. It became too much.

I read an interview with Adichie, and she mentioned that this book is supposed to be funny…I did not find it funny. I think I really missed something. Maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind, maybe I should give it another chance when I’m ready. I don’t know. I feel like the only person who didn’t like this book.

When Ifemelu comes to American and her Aunty Uju hands her another black girls ID because American people apparently can’t tell black people apart, I kept reading but when Obinze does the same thing in the UK, I was frustrated. When Aunty Uju kept speaking about “These People” with a negative sentence attached, I kept getting annoyed. It seemed to like this kept happening over and over again. I couldn't move on from it. Obinze has a fake marriage, because he wants to cheat the system to immigrate. Why does everyone have to try cheat the system? It just seemed like the book was about race, nationality, and people who are ignorant, biased and unfortunate.


I will say I read and loved Purple Hibiscus by Adichie, and I will definitely try Half a Yellow Sun. She is a talented writer, but this book just bothered me so much.  I live in a multicultural city, a I found this book to be too generalized. 

Please let me know your thoughts!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Review: One Native Life by Richard Wagamese


Publisher:  Douglas and McIntyre
Pages: 272
Released: 2009
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

One Native Life sat on my shelf for years, and as soon as I started reading it, I was so happy I decided to pick it up. It’s really hard to even review this one, because it was such a personal read for me. I saw so much of my own identity struggles in this book. Richard Wagamese is an Ojibway man, and a master storyteller.  I previously read Indian Horse, and loved it as well but this book REALLY SPOKE to me. It made me reflect on my life in so many ways and made me understand that I wasn’t the only one who struggled with what it meant to be Native.

One Native Life is Wagamese’s story about his own life. He was taken away from his biological family at a young age, and went through the foster system and eventually was adopted.  As a young Ojibway child, he never felt like he fit in. He learned to expect that nothing is permanent. Just as he learned to be comfortable with one family, he was moved to another.  One story that broke my heart was when he mentions that a foster family went on vacation, and they didn’t take him. He felt like he was different, and not loved. None of these families were Native and that had a significant impact on him. He had no one to answer his questions, and guide him in the ways of his people.

As Wagamese grew older, he became enamored with books.  He lost himself in the knowledge, and the different worlds. He started collective Native artifacts and wearing them, thinking they made him “more Native.” When asked about his Native culture, he would lie because he had no idea what those answers were.  At the age of 16, he turned to alcohol and living on the streets. He wanted acceptance, and he wanted to feel like he belonged.

I don’t want to give too much of the memoir away, each section should be savored. At the root of the story is a lonely boy, but also understanding, and optimism.  As Wagamese walks his readers though his story, he offers hope and healing. Knowledge is important. Every Native person is entitled to their own culture, their own understanding and their own opinion. You don’t have to agree with every Native political issue just because your Native. This really stuck with me!

I can go on and on about this book. I think this would be an enjoyable read, regardless of your background. Wagamese is a strong writer, and an inspiration to me. I’ll continue to read all of his books. Lucky for me, he has written a number of books! Humans are fragile, our life experiences shape who we are as people.  I know this book will be one I read and reread again.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins


Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Released: 2015
Pages: 320
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4/5

The Girl on the Train was all over my twitter and it seemed like everyone was talking about it being the next “Gone Girl.” I’m really not a fan of comparing books to other books, and initially I didn’t really want to read this one. Finally, I decided to give it a try. It was a good read, but I didn’t absolutely love it. The characters are not likable; the plot becomes a little predictable as you near the end but I did enjoy it and I’m happy I read it.

The main character Rachel rides the train to and from London each weekday. The train stops at the same junction, and Rachel begins watching a young couple. She imagines their names, their occupations and can’t help but watch them. One day, she notices something off. Suddenly, the girl she’s been watching goes missing and Rachel has information for the police, but she isn't sure they’ll take her seriously.

We learn Rachel doesn't have a job, although she tells her roommate otherwise. She’s divorced, she drinks, and her life is really in an upheaval. Although, as a reader I couldn't feel bad for her. We also have Rachel’s ex-husband’s wife’s perspective, and I couldn't like her either. Anna was Tom’s mistress, and the more she justifies their affair, the more I couldn't like her. The girl who goes missing is Megan, and her perspective is interesting to read. She has a lot of baggage and doesn't reveal too much.
   
The Girl on the Train was suspenseful, until I came near the end. Then I put all the pieces together, and mostly figured it out. I read a lot of reviews with similar reactions. I was surprised that I disliked the characters so much, but I still enjoyed the read. I recommend this one, if you like thrillers. I would also like more recommendations for thrillers, since I haven’t read many.