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

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Review: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Publisher: Penguin
Source: Personal Copy
Pages: 544

The Help is an astounding debut novel told from three very different perspectives. Kathryn Stockett has produced a modern classic of hope, courage, and independence. Once readers dive in, they will immediately be captivated and taken for an emotional ride, not wanting to miss a page. Readers are brought to Jackson, Mississippi during the 1960’s and prejudices are an everyday norm. The civil rights movement is in full bloom. Skeeter, a recent Ole Miss graduate is trying to make it as a journalist, and being a woman makes it that much more impossible. She’s offered a homemaker column, but knows nothing about cleaning. Hoping to write a more substantial topic, Skeeter receives some great advice from a woman in publishing- she is told to write about a topic that hasn’t been written before. Skeeter has a vision to expose the treatment of black maids in the white households. Raised by a black maid, she knows the impact these maids have on the children. Skeeter is appalled when her friends begin to install separate out-door bathrooms for the maids-insisting that it is needed to prevent diseases. Coming out and telling her friends that this is wrong, would surely cast her out of the community. Knowing that this project could potentially endanger those involved, Skeeter will publish anonymously. However, encouraging the maid’s to speak will not be an easy task. Aibileen is the first to agree to assist with the project, and eventually Aibileen is able to onboard Minny. Both maids’ are skeptical since they are unveiling stories from Skeeter’s world, many of them close friends but they bravely go forth with the project as tensions rise in their communities.

I bought this book when it first came out, but I kept putting off reading it. I’m not sure why exactly, maybe I was cynical of all the hype but I’m so sorry that I waited so long. This book has spent many weeks on the bestseller list, and deservingly so. Kathryn Stockett is an incredible writer, with a fascinating ability to engage readers. From the first page, to the last I was rooting for Skeeter. Aibileen, Minny and Skeeter were all in my thoughts when I closed the book. I loved Skeeter’s independence and defiant nature, especially given the times. When her mother is insisting she settle down and marry, Skeeter doesn’t want to settle. She dreams of a different world, but needs to remain central in her world. She’s pulled in two directions, and risks everything. Aibileen and Minny are not as sullen as you would expect. There was never a dull moment, and I read compulsively. If you’ve been putting this book off, I suggest you pick it up and being the first few pages…you’re going to be hooked. I do admit, the end was not what I wanted but honestly but that doesn’t make this any less of a novel.

In My Mailbox

It's time for another In My Mailbox post. I received a few for review, and I've been ebook shopping. 2 weeks until vacation!

Here Is what I got this week:

Triangles by Ellen Hopkins From PK, Thank you!


Forgotten by Cat Patrick (own an ARC, bought Ebook)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Review: Rumor by Jill Mansell

Title: Rumor Has It 
Author: Jill Mansell 
Publisher: Sourcebooks 
Pages: 404 
Source: Publisher (ARC) 

Tilly Cole is suddenly single, and not broken up about it. After walking into her apartment and noticing only selected items were missing, she figures it is time to move on. She's the type of girl who doesn't break up with men, she forces them to break up with her. Tilly's latest surprise breakup has put her in a predicament. She does not have the means to sustain her apartment. A roommate is not an option when you have a one bedroom apartment. Unsure of what to do, Tilly visits her best friend who lives outside the city and on a whim becomes the newest resident. After viewing a strange ad in the classified section she accepts a job as a 'girl-friday.' Her newest employer is an interior designer named Max and his teenage daughter Lou. Tilly's new life is full of surprises. Her best friend Erin is dating a wonderful man. However, he is in the middle of a divorce. His wife is not the forgiving type, and decides to harass and taint Erin's reputation. In a small town, gossip is a way of life. It spreads rapidly and easily. Tilly has fallen for Jack, the most desirable man in town. Jack has quite the reputation with the ladies. Every woman wants him, and it seems like every woman has had him. When he begins to notice Tilly, she's not sure if she is a pawn in his game. 'Rumor Has It' is a story filled with misunderstandings, coincidences and small town charm. 

This was my first Jill Mansell book, and I loved it! The cast of characters was great and each subplot was engaging. All the characters were exceptional. Stella, the divorcee was adamant about getting her husband back. Once she learned about Erin, she is livid and her dreams of children are crushed. She decides to take action, and she sets out to ruin Erin. I wanted to dislike Stella, but I really felt bad for her. Max was a great character. He's an interior designer, father to a teenager and recently divorced. After years of marriage, he's decided to stop lying and admit he's gay. Max's ex-wife is distraught and wonders what she did wrong. She decides to move to Hollywood to pursue her acting career. In Hollywood the tabloids love to build you up and tear you down. After an unfortunate accident with a Chihuahua, Kaye cannot escape the tabloids. Mansell keeps the reader engaged and speculating. Is Jack really who he seems to be? Is Stella really as horrible as she seems? Does Tilly get her happy ending? You'll have to read it for yourself, and I recommend that you do!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Review: The Little Giant of Aberdeen Country by Tiffany Baker

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing 
Pages: 342 
Category: Fiction 
Source: Publicist 

'The Little Giant of Aberdeen' is a story of life, acceptance and preconceptions. Truly Plaice was destined to have a difficult life. Truly was born extraordinarily large. She entered the world the same day her mother left it. While her mother was fighting to live, the townspeople were betting on Truly's size. Most believed she had to be a boy, because no girl could possibly be born so huge. Small towns often have small suspicious minds and Truly was shunned by most. Truly and her beautiful, beloved sister was left to be raised by their grief stricken father. She quickly outgrew her sister's clothes, and her poor father resorted to dressing her in old t-shirts. While locals offer to help Mr. Plaice, they were more inclined to offer to help with Serena. Truly seems to be the 'devil child' and most seemed uneasy around her. Her father resorted to separating each child during the day. Her sister Serena was babysat by a well to do family who doted on her while Truly was babysat by a poor family who's daughter refused to speak and Truly helped in the barn. Unfortunately, their father passes away shortly after and each child remains living separately. Truly is constantly living with ridicule and her sister is crowned May Queen. While Serena loves being the center of attention, her mind is set on city living and when the town doctor's son impregnates her right out of high school, Serena faces her own challenges and Truly is forced to deal with her issues. While it seems like Serena has the perfect life, she is rather miserable. Truly on the other hand has fallen into a comfortable life that she loves. 

The story spans from Truly's childhood to adulthood. I will warn you that this book seemed slow-paced but it was very enjoyable. This is a wonderful little story, and I would definitely recommend it. This book reminded me of another favorite book of my 'The River Child' by Lori Ann Bloomfield. Small town minds fear the unconventional. I loved the characters of this story, some characters were very enjoyable while some seem horrible. I really enjoyed the style and writing. I believe Tiffany Baker is a great writer. The ending was not predictable, and Baker kept me guessing. Sometimes I was wondering which direction the book would take, and I felt impatient but it was worth the time. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Review: Siren by Tricia Rayburn

Publisher: Egmont 
Pages: 344 
Source: Publisher (ARC) 
Category: Young Adult 

Every summer Vanessa, her sister Justine and their parents return to Winter Harbor for vacation. The girls meet up with the Carmichael boys and summer begins. Vanessa and Justine are polar opposites but are inseparable. Justine is a confident daredevil while Vanessa is full of self-doubt, lacks confidence and she's practically scared of her own shadow. When Justine dies in a tragic accident, Vanessa is strangely lacking emotion. Vanessa is unable to cry, she's full of anger and confusion and she's learning that her sister may not have been the person she believed she was. Vanessa is frustrated with her mother pouring herself into her work, trying to move on with life without a daughter. Vanessa decides to go back to Winter Harbor on her own, face her fears and figure out what happened the night her sister died. She learns more than she thought possible about her family, Winter Harbour, and herself. Strange bodies are washing up on shore, and all are deemed drownings. Caleb Carmichael was the only person with Justine the night she died, and he has gone missing. Vanessa joins forces with Caleb's brother Simon to find him, and their friendship buds into something more. Vanessa's whole world changes, but the biggest change is within herself. 

I will admit that this wasn't a book that I was hooked on, and couldn't put down. I did enjoy it, and I thought it was well written but there was a little lacking for me. I really enjoyed the characters, I thought the paranormal characters were new, fresh and interesting. I really enjoyed Vanessa's growth, she blossomed into a strong character. I think I was a little disappointed with the ending, it felt rushed. I believe that this book should be made into a series, it would explain a lot of things. I felt that the novel lacked emotion. This book deals with the death of a teenager, and I felt like Justine's death didn't effect anyone. Her own parents didn't seem distraught. I think that really bothered me. I do recommend this book, and I would love for it to become a series. If you're looking for a different Young Adult novel, try this one

Monday, July 25, 2011

Review: Unbelievable by Sara Shepard

Publisher: Harper Teen
Source: Personal Copy
Pages: 352

Spencer, Hanna, Aria and Emily were once best friends, the core of their friendship was Alison “Ali” DiLaurentis. When Ali unexpectedly disappeared their friendships fell apart. The girls all dealt with her death differently, and separately. “Unbelievable” picks up right after “Flawless.” A’s repeated threats have not stopped, the girls are perplexed and scared and Hanna is now lying in a hospital bed. The girls begin to bond together and try to figure out the missing pieces to this puzzle.  The threats become more detailed and violent, and their fear has intensified.
The girls each have their own secrets, and “A” is using this for leverage. The girls no longer have hope that “A” might be Alison, since her body was found in a cemented-over hold in the DiLaurentis’ backyard. Emily Fields has been ‘outed’ and her parents have packed her off to Iowa. She was given a one-way ticket to live with her very conservative Aunt and Uncle.  Spencer Hasting is confused about lapses in her memory. At the moment she has to present her sister’s stolen essay that’s been nominated for a Golden Orchid award.  After revealing her secret, her parents were aghast, but they want her to do them proud and win the award. Spencer’s sister Melissa is fuming. Aria wants nothing more than to be with her high school teacher, their connection is nothing she has ever felt before. When “A” reveals their secret, both Ezra and Aria has consequences. Aria’s living situation is in disorder when her mother discovers secrets Aria has been hiding about the divorce. A has been working overtime in this novel, and the lives of four pretty little liars is nothing a normal teenager would have to deal with.
Pretty Little Liars is an amazing series. I never thought I would fall in love with this series, as much as I have. Sara Shepard has me on the edge of my seat, flipping pages as fast as possible.  Character development, plot, suspense are all very well written.  The characters begin to explore old memories, and they begin to question their friendship with Alison. Alison, had many secrets of her own and the girls are beginning to explore. All is reveled in “Unbelievable” or is it really? When closing this book, you wondering what can possible come next. As this is only the fourth book in the series, and currently there are nine books there must be more to come. Is “A” really who is discovered?

Other Books in the Series:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

In My Mailbox/ Montreal Book Bloggers Meetup

I have a very special mailbox post this week. When I first started blogging I never would have imagine it having such an impact on me. I first discovered Rory's Book Club and loved talking about books with the members, soon afterwards a few of us began blogging.  I began to take book blogging a little more seriously about 2 years ago, and devoted a blog primarily to books. I began to discover the book blogging community, but I always felt alone in my community so, I pressured PK to start her blog at Aisle B (Yes, there was an ultimatum but she thanks me now...) A few weeks ago I saw a request on twitter for Montreal bloggers, and replied. This soon turned into a group of 15 people. We decided to get together this weekend, and discuss books and the lack of english events in our area. Montreal books events are primarily french, and those that are english are not well advertised. This is something we hope to see change. We created a Facebook Group, and plan to keep Montrealers up to date with events.

Simon and Schuster Canada, Harper Collins Canada, Scholastic Canada, and Random House Canada heard what we were up to, and sent us some amazing books and swag. We distributed these amongst ourselves and I got some great books. I want to thank these amazing publishers for their support and generosity.

First I'll introduce the Montreal Bloggers. We were 13 people, 2 people were unable to attend.

Front row L-R: PK from Aisle B (in red), Cindy from Cindy's Love of Books, Cat from Beyond Books, Lisa from Starmetal Oak Book Blog
Back Row L-R: Avis from She Reads and Reads, Amanda from Tales and Treats, Melissa from YA Book Shelf, Me, Mrs. Q, Cindy B. from Tynga's Reviews, Lucy from Moonlight Gleam's Bookshelf (who made our awesome name tags!), Donna from Book Bound, Laura from Library of Clean Reads, Tina from Bookshipper

And Here is what I got:

Lady of The English by Elizabeth Chadwick (From Sourcebook not related to event)
The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley (From Sourcebook not related to the event) (Nonetheless Sourcebooks is amazing)

(From the event)

Want to Go Private by Sarah Darer Littman (Harper Collins Canada)
Last Man in Tower by Aravind Adiga (Harper Collins Canada)
The Book of Lies by Mary Horlock (Random House Canada)
Things We Didn't Say by Kristina Riggle (Scholastic Canada)
The Recessionistas by Alexandra Lebenthal (From PK!)

Oh, and I have to show my name tag...Lucy did an amazing job!

I'm looking forward to our next meetup. It was great to match faces with blogs. I had a great time!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Review: Green Grass, Running Water by Thomas King

Publisher: Harper Perennial Canada
Source: Personal Copy

Green Grass Running Water was a great read. I'm not sure if this is for everyone, but I certainly appreciated it. The book has a great balance between humour and real life struggles for Natives today. King introduces his readers to many main and supporting characters, all of whom are struggling with life as a Blackfoot in modern Canada. The characters are trying to blend into modern day culture but also feel compelled to maintain their heritage. As much as they try to ignore their culture, it is always with them. There are many quirky characters. We have Alberta who is a university professor, with two boyfriends, refuses to get married and desperately wants to be a mother. Oh, yes the boyfriends are cousins and know about each other. Charlie is a prominent lawyer, and Lionel a television salesman. We are also introduced to Latisha who is a restaurant owner, and pretends to serve up dog meat to her customers. It seems to attract tourists. 

Lone Ranger, Ishmael, Robinson Crusoe and Hawkeye have run away from an institution and have vowed to fix part of the world. These four storytellers frequently interrupt each other, and blend Native American tales with Christianity in an attempt to get it right. Ahdamn meets first woman. The telling if this new creation story is hilarious. 

"Ahdam is busy. He is naming everything. 

You are a microwave oven, Ahdamn tells the Elk. 
Nope, says that Elk. Try Again. 
You are a garage sale, Ahdamn tells the Bear. 
We got to get you some glasses, says the Bear. 
You are a telephone book, Ahdamn tells the Cedar Tree. 
You're getting closer, says the Cedar Tree." 

The stories keep juggling around, and each time I keep waiting to get back to the character I just read about however, the next character is just as entrancing. King explores the Native American culture in a Christian world. This humourous book deals with many serious issues within the Native American culture. All in all, I really enjoyed it.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Review: Say You're One of Them by Uwen Akpan

Publisher:Bay Back Books
Source: Personal Copy

'Say You're One Of Them' is a collection of five short stories written from a child's perspective about life in Africa. These children face poverty, genocide, religious conflicts and unimaginable atrocities. This is not a book of hope, it's a book that will keep your mind wandering. Through the five stories we see how these children loose their purity. Children's lives are guided by their living situation. Imagine being a 12 year old prostitute and your parents are happy that you have 'white' clients because your salary funds your brothers education. Imagine living with your uncle, while he is trying to sell you and your sister to the highest bidder, to raise his status in the Church. These stories are not for the light-hearted. Although, I really enjoyed the collection of short stories. However, I must admit I did find the dialogues difficult to follow. Some stories I wished were a little shorter. 

'An Ex-Mas Feast' 

This is the first story in the collection. We are introduced to a destitute family living in a make-shift shanty. Maisha is a 12 year old prostitute and her family encourages her 'profession' in order to fund her brothers education. Maisha's relationship with her parents is strained, and she is constantly quarrelling with them. She's not only the breadwinner in the home, she seems to be the only adult. In this story we see the destruction of the family. When Maisha decides she no longer wants to be in the home, her brother decides he no longer wants to go to school much to his parents dismay. 

'Fattening For Gabon' 

The second story in the collection is as shocking as the first. We begin the novel learning the Uncle is trying to sell his nephew and niece. The children are forced to live with their Uncle while their parents are living with AIDS. The children are introduced to their 'godparents' who they are told are paying for their parents medicine and giving them many gifts. The children enjoy the attention, and enjoy the luxurious meals at first. They are oblivious to their Uncle's intentions. When they being to notice his unusual behaviour they being to question their godparents acts. 

'What Language Is That?' 

This is the third story and incredible short. Two best friends wake up one morning and are told by their parents that they can no longer speak to each other due to religious conflicts. Although, the parents are trying to protect the children we see the impact this has on them. 

'Luxurious Hearses.' 

Jubril is a young sixteen year old Muslim who was born to a Christian father and Muslim mother. His brother adopted the Christian faith and was eventually stoned in front of him. While the violent in his area had escalated Jubril feels he must escape. Jubril's only hope is to escape on a bus full of Christians. He hides his right hand being cut off, his name and his Muslim ideas. He is afraid of women and television, but must try to come to terms with them on the bus. 

'My Parents Bedroom' 

This is the last story in the collection. This story really affected me. The children in the story have a Hutu father and a Tutsi mother. The parents are forced to choose between the tribes, this results in the children witnessing their mothers death at the hands of their father. 

In conclusion, I really enjoyed the book. These stories remain with the reader long after you've closed the pages. An eye-opening read. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Review: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Publisher: Simon and Schuster 
Source: Personal Copy

"In a world of extreme beauty, anyone normal is ugly." 

Tally Youngblood lives in a futuristic, utopian society. All normal citizens are considered an Ugly until they turn 16 years old. Once they turn 16, they undergo a drastic surgery and are transformed to become "pretty" by the governments biological standards. Every child dreams of the day they become "Pretty" and move from Uglyville to the high tech New Pretty Town. Tally is only a few weeks away, her best friend Peris has already left to become "Pretty" and she cannot wait to join him. While Peris has moved on, and Tally is lonely she meets a girl named Shay. Shay is not a typical Ugly. She has doubts and suspicions about becoming Pretty, believing there is an alternate story to be told. Tally and Shay have the same birthday and will undergo the operation on the same day. Shay disappears on the day the operation is scheduled leaving Tally a cryptic note how to find her is she wishes to join her. Initially, Tally has no intentions of joining Shay. Tally is upset that Shay fled but she is thrilled to join Peris. However, while waiting to receive the operation Tally is told there is an issue with her operation. She is brought to Special Circumstances and told she must find Shay or remain Ugly forever. Tally is reluctant to betray Shay but she has also made a promise to Peris that she will join him and not do anything to delay the process. Tally is torn between her two best friends and her dreams of becoming pretty. Tally sets out on a mission to become pretty. Her world is opened and Tally"s life will never be the same. 

I had bought the first three books months ago. I had heard good things about them, and finally decided to read Ugly. I"m really happy that I chose to read it. In the beginning it felt juvenile to be reading a book about Uglies and Pretties. It felt very material however, once I let go of the association of appearance and saw the Uglies and Pretties as social groups it was much easier to read. The plot was full of suspense and is very fast paced. Readers need to give this book a chance and they will be pleasantly surprised. 

I like to take a break between books when I'm reading a series. I think it prolongs the suspense. I will be reading the next book in the series soon. I hope it is as good as Uglies. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Review: 31 hours by Masha Hamilton

Unbridled Books 
Source: Personal Copy 
Pages: 229 

Thirty- One 

'The Maximum number of days in a month, the length between menstrual cycles. Al-Khabir, the All- Aware, the thirty-first name of Al-lah. Thirty- one verses in Genesis, chapter 1. The Thirty- first verse: God saw all that he made, and behold it was very good. It was evening and it was morning, the sixth day. Thirty-one hours which given the elasticity of time, could shrink to thirty-one seconds or expand to thirty-one years.' 

Does a mother stop worrying about her children? Jonas is in his twenties, and his mother knows that at some point her son will want to distance himself from her and find his way in the world. However, she has this feeling that something has happened to her son. She has no proof, no clues, only her intuition to go by. She wakes in the middle of the night and knows that she must figure out what is going on with Jonas. Jonas was always very sensitive and had the weight of the world on his shoulders but he always checked in with his mother. 

This story follows Jonas, an idealist who wants to make a difference in the world. He wants to force individuals to see the injustices in their lives. He wants to change the world and make his life worthwhile. Jonas grew up with no religion, his father is Jewish and his mother an Atheist but they decided to leave religion up to their son. Allow him to make his own decisions. Jonas eventually decides to follow the muslim faith. He befriends Masoud, a Muslim extremist. Jonas is not really sure how he got to this point in his life, it seemed rather quick but he now has 31 hours to cleanse and prepare for a very important task. Jonas has decided to become a suicide bomber and attack the New York Subway. Although scared, Jonas feels that he can carry out his mission and become a hero or simply back down and potentially get hit by a car in six months and die an unknown man. Masoud is curious if Jonas will be portrayed as a terrorist by the media or not. He has given him the nickname Abu Asfar 'The American' and out of the seven who will act, Jonas is the one he is worried about. 

Carol and Jake although divorced bond together to find their son. Jake doesn't believe that his son can be in much danger, he believes his son has run off with a girl and will appear within a few days. Carol, doesn't know how to convince Jake but she asks him to search Jonas apartment. Jake discovers a plane ticket to Palestine and proof that his son has not been enrolled in school for the last semester. Vic, Jonas girlfriend has also had no contact with him for the last few days. She also doesn't believe that Jonas went to Palestine when he mentioned he went on a Yoga retreat. It soon becomes apparent that Jonas has been living a separate life unknown to those he loved. Vic is also dealing with her parents recent divorce and the fact that her sister has runaway on the subway to find her father. 

As we countdown the 31 hours to see if Jonas will go through with this act, readers will be on their toes begging Jonas to realize his actions. Jonas is filled with hope and acceptance. We meet other New Yorkers and wonder if they will become a victim. Masha Hamilton does an incredible job opening the eyes of her readers. This novel will haunt you and keep your mind going once you've completed it. A real thriller, sure to please. I couldn't put it down, and felt frustrated when I had to go to work.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

In My Mailbox

I'm really excited about the books I received this week. They all look amazing!

Here's what I got:

This one came from Kay from My Random Acts of Reading. Thank you!

I loved Hush by Kate White. Very excited about this one!

I've heard so much about this one, I can't wait to get to it. 

I love the cover of this one. 

I hope everyone has had a great reading week.

Happy reading!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Review: Sarah's Key by Tatiana De Rosnay

Publisher: St Martin's Griffin
Pages: 320
Personal Copy

In July of 1942 thousands of Jewish families living in Paris were removed from their homes and arrested , the French police carried out the orders of the Nazi invaders. Women, men and children were gathered together and placed into the Velodrome D’Hiver under despicable conditions for several days. Sarah’s Key is a remarkable story told from two perspectives, Sarah Starzynski, a ten-year old Parisian girl born to Jewish parents, and Julia Jarmond, an American journalist researching Paris’ shameful secrets.

Sarah Starzynski is woken in the middle of the night by men knocking on her door. Her father has been in hiding for a few days, and her mother is reluctant to open the door. Confused, and afraid Sarah tries to comprehend what is going on. When Sarah understands that they are being asked to leave the home, she tries to protect her little brother by locking him in a secret closet- believing her father will come out of hiding and rescue him. When Sarah’s father gives in to the pressure and joins his family, Sarah soon realizes that she has made a big mistake. Initially having the French police arrest them, gives Sarah the impression that they will be unharmed. Her own people have gathered them giving her a false sense of security, the German soldiers are not to be trusted. When it becomes clear that the French police have no compassion toward them, Sarah is hardened. Women, men and children were separated and placed into French camps, and eventually sent to their final destination –Auschwitz.

Julie Jarmon, is an American journalist married to a Parisian architect. She works for an American newspaper and upon the sixtieth anniversary of the Vel D’Hiv Julie is offered an opportunity to write a story covering those events. She dives in, never realizing how much this story would affect her and ultimately change her. Julie has always remained “the American” to her in-laws, and when she begins researching the story, she is stunned by their indifference, frustrated by their lack of knowledge. It seems like many Parisians are reluctant to acknowledge the history and Julie is furious, she becomes nearly obsessed, uncovering a deep, dark family secret that was never meant to be uncovered. Key relationships are tested, and life as she knows it, is no more.

Tatiana De Rosnay had me ensnared from the first page. Each paragraph had me more and more captivated. The alternate perspectives were both fascinating. Often when I read alternate perspectives, I tend to enjoy one more than the other but I equally enjoyed reading about both Sarah and Julie. Holocaust fiction tends to always capture me, but Sarah’s Key will remain one of the more memorable stories. I couldn’t attempt to write my review until I gave myself sometime to distance myself from the book. I kept thinking about this story for days, I didn’t want to start a new book right away, I just wanted to think about this one for awhile longer. Tatiana De Rosnay is a very talent story-teller. I will be recommending this one to everyone interested. A remarkable, memorable, emotional, page-turner.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Review: The Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger

Review: The Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger
Publisher: McArthur & Company 
Pages: 248 
Source: Publisher 

'The Mistress of Nothing' was a riveting tale. Sally's parents died when she was young, her aunt chose not to care for her and sent her to work. Both she and her sister began working as maid's for well to do women. Sally eventually begins working for Lady Duff Gordon. When Lady Duff Gordon is stricken with tuberculosis she is exiled to Egypt, accompanying her is Sally. Lady Duff Gordon is hoping the dryer, warmer weather will be favourable for her condition, making it easier to breath and prolonging her life. The story takes place mostly in Egypt, and a new life begins for both Sally and Lady Duff Gordon. 

Sally sees herself as a spinster, although she doesn't know when chose to have no future. She is now thirty and not married, devoted to Lady Duff Gordon and believes that she will always be her protector. Eventually, Lady Duff Gordon and Sally are forced to unfasten their constricted english clothing and settle for lighter, cooler Egyptian clothing. The two of them become accustomed to life in Egypt, adapting to the lifestyles and language. Omar is hired to help the ladies, and teach them the ways of life in Egypt. Sally falls in love with married Omar. Sally is sure that Lady Duff Gordon will continue to protect her, since she has helped many in her situation before. Omar has decided he will marry Sally, as Egyptian law will allow him two wives. Fellow Egyptians are not scandalized, they are accepting of Sally. What happens next is not expected. 

I was engrossed in this riveting historical novel. As always historical novels make me curious, and I will do a little more research on Lady Duff Gordon. The story did not end how I wanted it to, but that does not make it less of a novel. The writing is astounding. The story picks up pace around the second half. I mostly read it in one day, I could not put it down. Highly recommended! The Governor General award is well deserved and justified in my opinion. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Review: Good to a Fault by Marina Endicott

Clare Purdy is a 43 year old divorced, childless and lonely person. Since the death of her parents she has questioned many things in her life. While leaving her house one afternoon, Clare is not paying attention and is involved in a collision. Clare learns the family were living in their car driving to Fort McMurray. What she doesn't realize is her life is about to change in many drastic ways. When Clare arrives at the hospital she learns the family is all well except the mother has a fever and bruising that needs to be investigated. We learn very soon that the mother Lorraine has cancer and will need to stay in the hospital for extensive treatment. Clare opens up her home to the children, their father Clayton and his mother Mrs. Pell. Clare soon becomes their pseudo-mother, when Clayton runs off with her mother's car, money from her wallet, her calling card and the Silver teapot. Mrs. Pell is too caught up in her own needs to even think of the children and help out. She does administer Benadryl to baby Pearce to keep him sleepy and not interfere with her. Clare struggles to take care of Darlene, Trevor and baby Pearce. Clare feels forced to quit her mundane job and focus on the children. Financially and emotionally she is burden with their care. Lorraine's brother Darwin comes to town to assist with Lorraine, and begins living with Clare as well. Some of Clare's church members admire her actions, and others scorn her. Some believe she isn't doing this for the children't good, she is doing this for her own selfish needs. We clearly see that Clare has a sense of purpose and need in her new role. 

Endicott writes the story from multiple perspectives. We have Clare who is emotionally drained and worried about the children constantly. Darlene, the oldest daughter loves Clare but is very careful to keep her distance and separate from her mother. She is very careful not to get too emotionally attached to Clare but know she must make sure she is dependable if her mother does die. Trevor is young but he missed his real mother and father. He loves Clare but is too afraid to admit it, afraid to loose his mother. Baby Pearce loves Clare and has no real trouble transitioning from Lorraine to Clare. Lorraine is powerless and has no choice but to accept the help from Clare. She does feel grateful but at the same time she is watching her children's attachment to Clare grow. She can't help but be a little bitter. She feels Clare believes she is the better parent and person. 

Each character is very well written. The plot is slow moving but I think it gives us more of an understanding of Clare's everyday world. There is a little romance in the novel when Clare becomes involved with her minister who is going through a divorce. I enjoyed the different points of view, Darlene's (Dolly) perspective was most interesting to me, as the oldest and most independent it was interesting to see her try and survive and make sense of her new living arrangement. 

I really enjoyed this novel, and I do highly recommend it. I laughed at the regular church members who were giving Clare a hard time about the children. Especially when Mr. Bunt would come out of his house yell at Clare and then proceed to drive to church. Great book filled with lots of interesting characters.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: The Help

" Standing On that white lady's back porch, I tell myself, Tuck it in, Minny. Tuck in whatever might fly out my mouth and tuck in my behind too."

Chapter 3
The Help
by Kathryn Stockett

TEASER TUESDAYS is hosted by Should be Reading

  • Grab your current read.

  • Let the book fall open to a random page.

  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.

  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

  • Please avoid spoilers!

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    Review: Sweetsmoke by David Fuller

    Review: Sweetsmoke by David Fuller
    Publisher: Hyperion
    Pages 336
    Source: Personal Copy

    Sweetsmoke is a tobacco plantation in Virginia during the civil war. Owned by Hoke Howard, and home to many slaves including Cassius Howard. The story is primarily told from the point of view of Cassius. A young man who grew up on Sweetsmoke, as an infant named by his master and eventually became Hoke's favourite at Sweetsmoke. Cassius works as the plantation carpenter and is envied by the field hands for his larger cabin and the small leniencies his job allows. Hoke Howard is a third generation plantation owner and believed to be a fair master. The novel begins with the death of Emoline Justine a free black who taught Cassius to read and took care of his during a pressing time. Cassius knows there will be no investigation of her death since she is merely a free black. He vows to identify who killed her and then kill him himself. Cassius being a secretly intelligent and cautious man sets out to bring justice for Emoline. 

    The novel explores many relationships between the masters and owners as well as among the slaves themselves. Cassius is well aware that he is an owned man. He wants to be treated as a slave, and when Hoke treats him as 'a human being' Cassius is very uncomfortable. As a cautious man Cassius promised himself he would not love anyone. Anyone you loved could easily be taken away, something Cassius does eventually experience himself with the death of his wife and sale of his son. Throughout, the novel we hear the slaves misquote the bible. They believed the bible proved that black men were to be slaves. Cassius however, could read the bible for himself and knew that the plantation owners and preachers were not right. As much as the slaves were tied to their owners, Cassius believed the planters (owners) were free but chained the slavery. Always, surrounded by the enemy. 

    David Fuller's 'Sweetsmoke' was an amazing read. The reader gets a real sense of what life as a slave and plantation owner entailed. The characters are well written, and the complex storyline is very easy to read. The book is quite moving, and a great historical fiction novel. I had a hard time putting this novel down, and recommend it to anyone looking for a great read. This would be a great book club choice.