Tag Archives: Book Reviews

Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple

Image result for today will be different book coverToday will be Different by Maria Semple is a fast-paced, adventurous, fun read. It is full of strong characters, edgy humour, crazy plot twists and delightfully descriptive text that immerse you in Seattle, New Orleans, and Aspen. In the story, Eleanor Flood, a middle-aged animator and mom of a precocious eight-year-old boy living in Seattle wakes up one day deciding that today is the day she will get out of her rut and insists that today will be different. In fact, it turns into one misadventure after another as she tries to solve the mystery of her absent husband and in the search reflects on her life and her troubled relationship with her estranged sister. Although a quick, fast paced read, Semple is able to explore the relationships between this flawed, yet immensely likeable character and her significant others to a satisfying depth. (Submitted by Michelle).

 

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The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison

Image result for THE SILENT WIFE BOOK COVERA friend recommended The Silent Wife after I enjoyed reading Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl.

The story is told in alternating voices of main characters, Todd, and his common-law wife Jodi.  The couple’s seemingly perfect relationship, which includes flourishing careers and a luxury waterfront condo, unravels in the aftermath of Todd’s adulterous lifestyle.

Both characters are unlikeable.  But the author’s meticulous account of Jodi’s unspoken turmoil, set against the picture perfect view from the calm of her tony surroundings, kept me turning the pages.

It is unfortunate that this Canadian author passed away from cancer just months before her first novel was published. (Submitted by TS).

 

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Jia: a novel of North Korea by Hyejin Kim

Image result for BOOK COVER JIA: A NOVEL OF NORTH KOREAJia by Hyejin Kim was one of the most fascinating books I ever read about North Korea. It tells a story of a little girl, whose mother came from a very prominent family, but her father did not. As a result, the whole family was sent to a Gulag in the mountains. The father disappears and the mother dies during Jia’s birth. Jia’s paternal grandparents are given jobs at the gulag, courtesy of the maternal grandparents, and take care of their two little granddaughters. After a chance meeting with a South Korean soldier, they manage to smuggle little Jia to the capital city of Pyongyang, in hopes she can find her maternal grandparents and have a chance to live a better life. She does find them but they want nothing to do with her, so she ends up staying in the orphanage. She becomes a dancer and eventually moves to a very good job at an international hotel, joining a famous dancing ensemble. She becomes a beautiful dancer herself, just like her mother, whose name is not even mentioned in the book, and she falls in love with a young soldier. But when she shares with him where she came from, and that she’s not who he thinks she is, he is shocked and plans to report her. So, in order to avoid prosecution, Jia has to escape Pyongyang and cross over to China, where she falls into the hands of women traffickers and only a lucky meeting with a kind-hearted stranger makes it possible for her to survive. This book was very different from other books I have read on North Korea, because it is about living in Pyongyang and leading a somewhat prominent life. It was a very heartbreaking read, and I recommend that you have tissues handy. (Submitted by Monika).

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Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant by Roz Chast

Many of us in our `middle ages` are dealing with aging parents in various stages of decline.  Roz Chast, the writer and New Yorker cartoonist, uses the graphic novel format to document her journey through this challenging time in her memoir, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

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From first noticing that things seem to be `falling apart`, to realizing that she must take control of the uncontrollable, and then on through moving her parents into care, and experiencing their passing, Chast weaves her story with humour, grace, and brutal honesty.

The most important messages I took from this endearing memoir are that:

  • we are not alone,
  • having a sense of humour is a survival skill, and,
  • in the midst of complicated family relationships and challenging situations there is still, always, love.

(Submitted by KS).

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Stargold the Food Fairy by Claudia Lemay

Image result for stargold the food fairyIn Stargold the Food Fairy: an exciting adventure that illustrates the importance of nutrition to children, registered dietitian Claudia Lemay makes the often daunting subject of nutrition entertaining and informative.This is a fun, quick read jam packed with practical advice that will please young and old alike. Ideal for kids and parents to read together! (Submitted by AM).

Meet author Claudia Lemay at Authors Among Us: Foodie February at Guildford Library on Wed, Feb 15, 2017 at 6:30pm. Light refreshments will be served. Call 604-598-7366 to save your spot!

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Faithful by Alice Hoffman

Image result for faithful book cover alice hoffmanFaithful is the tale of Shelby, a teenager who survives a horrific car accident that leaves her best friend in a coma and Shelby with depression, survivor’s guilt, and PTSD. Her promising young life takes an abrupt swerve into the dark and unknown, and we follow Shelby along into adulthood.

It’s a simple story, really, and driven mostly by the mere passing of Shelby’s years. But it’s beautiful. I said “tale” earlier, because it’s not just a story about a woman, it’s a tale of redemption, of forgiveness, of romance and of mothers and daughters. Just a whisper around the edges of a fairy tale element – some symbolism, for those on the lookout for that sort of thing, and slow, gradual progress from unhappy to happy.

For those who like sad but happy books, rescuing stray dogs, complicated female characters, and Chinese takeout. I loved it. (Submitted by Veronica).

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Help for the Haunted by John Searles

Image result for help for the haunted book coverThis winter I read a different kind of Christmas story: Help for the Haunted by John Searles. The book follows the young, virtuous and strident Sylvie, who has recently lost her infamous ghost-hunting parents in a mysterious incident just before Christmas. Sylvie witnessed their murders, but wonders if perhaps the wrong man has been convicted for the crime.  Avoiding the eye of her emotionally stunted and manipulative older sister, Sylvie must endure the horrors of her teenage years with no parents, as well as attempt to piece together the truth of who they were and what happened to them in a twisted, taciturn series of events that has stuck with me. Though I initially was attracted to the book for its classification as a horror novel (it isn’t scary, by the way!), I couldn’t put it down for the truly enthralling mystery and unusual subject matter. I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a darker (slightly paranormal) mystery. (Submitted by Mandi).

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