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Marriage of a Thousand Lies — S.J. Sindu

22 Aug

 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
Released: June 13th, 2017
Genre: Literary, LGBTQ
Source: Finished copy from publisher

 

 

Lucky and her husband, Krishna, are gay. They present an illusion of marital bliss to their conservative Sri Lankan–American families, while each dates on the side. It’s not ideal, but for Lucky, it seems to be working. She goes out dancing, she drinks a bit, she makes ends meet by doing digital art on commission. But when Lucky’s grandmother has a nasty fall, Lucky returns to her childhood home and unexpectedly reconnects with her former best friend and first lover, Nisha, who is preparing for her own arranged wedding with a man she’s never met.

As the connection between the two women is rekindled, Lucky tries to save Nisha from entering a marriage based on a lie. But does Nisha really want to be saved? And after a decade’s worth of lying, can Lucky break free of her own circumstances and build a new life? Is she willing to walk away from all that she values about her parents and community to live in a new truth? As Lucky—an outsider no matter what choices she makes—is pushed to the breaking point, Marriage of a Thousand Lies offers a vivid exploration of a life lived at a complex intersection of race, sexuality, and nationality. The result is a profoundly American debut novel shot through with humor and loss, a story of love, family, and the truths that define us all.

From Goodreads

 

This book captivated me from the first line. There’s no preamble, no explaining. We are just thrown right into Lucky’s life. And what a life it is. Reading about her and the double life she leads was fascinating.

The writing is just so raw and beautiful. It put me right there, in the thick of things. The descriptions of what’s going on and what Lucky is feeling are gorgeously written without being too flowery. With just a simple line Sindu can paint a whole picture of emotions.

The story is an interesting mix of heartbreaking and hopeful. Lucky doesn’t fully fit in anywhere but she keeps trying to find her place in the world.  As a caucasian Canadian the struggle between honoring her family and tradition and being true to herself is something I’ve never had to deal with but thanks to Sindu’s writing I understand it more.

If you like character-driven books where things aren’t all tied up nicely at the end (read=realistic) then Marriage of a Thousand Lies is the perfect read for you.

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Our Little Secret — Roz Nay

4 Aug

 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Released: June 6th, 2016
Genre: Mystery, thriller
Source: ARC from publisher

 

 

For fans of In a Dark, Dark Wood and All the Missing Girls comes Our Little Secret, a compulsive and thrilling debut about a missing woman, a tangled love triangle, the secrets we keep and the secrets we share.

The detective wants to know what happened to Saskia, as if I could just skip to the ending and all would be well. But stories begin at the beginning and some secrets have to be earned.

Angela is being held in a police interrogation room. Her ex’s wife has gone missing and Detective Novak is sure Angela knows something, despite her claim that she’s not involved.

At Novak’s prodding, Angela tells a story going back ten years, explaining how she met and fell in love with her high school friend HP. But as her past unfolds, she reveals a disconcerting love triangle and a dark, tangled web of betrayals. Is Angela a scorned ex-lover with criminal intent? Or a pawn in someone else’s revenge scheme? Who is she protecting? And why?

Twisty and suspenseful, Our Little Secret is an intense cat-and-mouse game and a riveting thriller about the lies we tell others—and ourselves.

 

From Goodreads

 

If I had to describe Our Little Secret in one word, that word would be delicious. The voice of Angela, the narrator, is one of my favorite this year. It’s so hard to know if she’s telling the truth or batshit crazy and I LOVED it. Not only did I not know whether to believe her or not, I got the sense that she herself wasn’t sure whether or not to believe what she was saying.

I also love how the story is laid out. In a way it reminded me of The Usual Suspects in that there was a back and forth between the actual interrogation and the past.

I felt off kilter during the whole book. It was like I had no problem following the story but I really wasn’t sure what was going on. As I have discovered this year, this is my fave type of mystery.

And I just have to take a moment to talk about the name Saskia. LOVE IT.

I’ve read In a Dark Dark Wood and yes, if you like that then you’ll absolutely love Our Little Secret.

Vengeful Hank and Other Shortweird Stories — Marcel St. Pierre

8 Dec

hank

 

Publisher: Mkz Press
Released: April 23rd, 2016
Genre: Short stories, comedy, flash fiction
Source: Review copy from author

 

Canadian comedian, actor and television writer Marcel St. Pierre brings his years writing sketch comedy and advertising copy – where brevity is key – to bear in this, his first book of short stories. St. Pierre’s playfully accessible writing style complements an ability to conjure unique characters and situations as universally ridiculous as a Gary Larson ‘Far Side’ cartoon. The stories are fast-paced, quick-witted – some laugh-out-loud and some even poignant and sweet. If you like the absurdity of Steve Martin’s ‘Pure Drivel’ but haven’t the time, commitment or attention span to stick with any printed word much longer than the length of several text messages or a Facebook post, this is the perfect book for the cottage or your daily commute. “(An) offbeat linguistic romp – delightful twists – sketches of a sunshine mind making leaps of logic into the absurd…” – Sheree Fitch, author, Kiss The Joy As it Flies, Stephen Leacock Literary Humour Award-shortlist “Never has a title of a book so correctly advertised what is between the covers… I laughed, ate a sandwich, worried about Marcel for a while, then laughed again. Read!” – Colin Mochrie, comedian, author ..”. funny, charming, surprising, whimsical – a delight… an imaginative gem where what’s real is redefined and the absurd has become the new normal. I couldn’t stop smiling from the moment I picked them up.” – Don Ferguson, Royal Canadian Air Farce “I take a deep breath and read nine stories. They’re very clever… and weird. Like Marcel” – Peter Wildman, The Frantics.

From Goodreads

This book is weird. And funny. But yeah, a whole lot of weird. But I like that about it. I think it knows it’s weird and it embraces its weirdness. And I can get behind that.

A lot of these stories are a page or less, making for a quick read. It’s also super easy to pick up and set down. Although once I started reading it, I didn’t set it down a lot. I kept flipping through story after story, wondering just how weird things were going to get. And I was never disappointed.

Some of the stories are laugh-out-loud funny while others kind of just left me scratching my head and wondering about the sanity of the author. But it worked. The writing is tight but also airy and whimsical.

While this book won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, those who enjoy their humour very very odd or are looking for a different kind of read will definitely love this book.

 

Fragment — Craig Russell

6 Dec

fragment

 

Publisher: Thistledown Press
Released: Oct 1st, 2016
Genre: General fiction
Source: eARC from publisher

 

When avalanching glaciers thrust a massive Antarctic ice sheet into the open ocean, the captain of an atomic submarine must risk his vessel to rescue the survivors of a smashed polar research station; in Washington the President’s top advisor scrambles to spin the disaster to suit his master’s political aims; and meanwhile two intrepid newsmen sail south into the storm-lashed Drake Passage to discover the truth.

Onboard the submarine, as the colossal ice sheet begins its drift toward South America and the world begins to take notice, scientists uncover a secret that will threaten the future of America’s military power and change the fate of humanity.

And beneath the human chaos one brave Blue Whale fights for the survival of his species.

From Goodreads

 

This was a different kind of read than I usually delve into, but I just LOVED Russell’s Black Bottle Man so much that as soon as I heard he was publishing another novel, I wanted in. And I am so glad that I did. Fragment took me by surprise and I was engaged from the opening.

This book reads like one of those blockbuster disaster movies (think Day After Tomorrow) and for some reason I can’t get enough of those movies. From the beginning the tension and peril is clear. There’s no lazy build up to the action and I love that. Russell pretty much just jumps into an “Oh shit” moment. This sets the pacing for the book and while it was tight and fast-moving it never felt rushed or overdone.

But Fragment goes beyond the basic disaster plot. There’s depth here and a message and thankfully we aren’t hit over the head with it. There’s a subplot having to do with whales that’s really really cool. And speaking of cool, how cool is it that one of the main characters is a whale? Pretty freaking cool.

There’s a lot of science in this book, but it isn’t written about in a way that is dumbed down or will make non-science peeps’ eyes glaze over. I’m not overly sciencey and I didn’t have any issues following along. This can be tough to do, but Russell handles it well.

There’s a lot going on, plot wise, with different storylines all coming together towards the end. There’s also a bit of a cheesy moment or two, but I feel that it works with the story.

I really enjoyed Fragment and can’t wait to see what Russell puts out next.

Strike — Delilah S. Dawson

17 Oct

strikePublisher: Simon Pulse
Released: April 12th, 2016
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Review copy from publisher

The hit list was just the beginning.

Time to strike back.

After faking her own death to escape her term as an indentured assassin for Valor Savings Bank, Patsy is on the run with her boyfriend, Wyatt. All she wants to do is go home, but that’s never going to happen—not as long as Valor’s out to get her and the people she loves.

Left with no good choices, Patsy’s only option is to meet with a mysterious group that calls itself the Citizens for Freedom.

Led by the charismatic Leon Crane, the CFF seem like just what Patsy has been looking for. Leon promises that if she joins, she’ll finally get revenge on Valor for everything they’ve done to her—and for everything they’ve made her do.

But Patsy knows the CFF has a few secrets of their own. One thing is certain: they’ll do absolutely anything to complete their mission, no matter who’s standing in their way. Even if it’s Patsy herself.

From Goodreads

 

I liked Strike soooo much better than Hit and I liked Hit so that’s saying a lot.

There are more characters in Strike, and the element that I liked the most was the different group dynamics. Everyone has been through their own version of hell and it was fascinating to watch how they all interacted with each other. I always gravitate towards dystopia and post-apocalyptic literature and shows where the setting and what’s going on isn’t always the focus, but rather, how people interact with each other in these settings. Sometimes it’s done in a realistic manner and others not so much. For me Dawson nailed it.

I also enjoyed the relationship between Patsy and Wyatt way more than I did in Hit. I just felt that their connection made more sense in this book and was more believable to me.

While I enjoyed the over plot of the book (I don’t want to talk about it and give anything away) there were some elements that felt a bit convenient to me. But that’s okay. Even in a shitty world coincidences do happen. 🙂

I think fans of Hit are really going to enjoy Strike. And if you weren’t a huge fan of Hit? I think there’s a good chance that you’ll still enjoy this book.

In a Dark, Dark Wood — Ruth Ware

26 Sep

 

 

darkwoodcan

 

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Released: July 30th, 2016
Genre: mystery, thriller
Source: ARC from publisher

 

In a dark, dark wood

Nora hasn’t seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back.

There was a dark, dark house

Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her?

And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room

But something goes wrong. Very wrong.

And in the dark, dark room….

Some things can’t stay secret for ever.

From Goodreads

This book was just delicious! Honest characters who don’t really know each other (or like each) stuck together at a house in the middle of nowhere and something happens. This is one of my favourite types of mysteries. It’s also the hardest type to review because I don’t want to give anything away.

Three quarters of this book had me on the edge of my seat. I knew something had happened but I wasn’t sure. The writing flicks back between after the event and leading up to it, leaving the reader feeling as unsure as Nora, the main character. I do feel that toward the end of the book things fizzled out a bit as far as the mystery goes but it wasn’t a huge letdown to me. It was the natural denouement of the story. It’s just that up until that point things were just so enticing that it was a bit of a jolt.

I’m fascinated by group dynamics (blame it on my sociology degree) and the way these characters interacted with each other just drew me in. No one is perfect, some of them are a bit on the crazy side and each one is dealing with their own baggage. This just added to the overall tension of the story and the mystery of what happened.

In a Dark, Dark Wood was a solid mystery, the perfect book for curling up with on a chilly fall night.

Black Bottle Man — Craig Russell

13 Jan

blackbottlePublisher: Great Plains Publications
Released: April 15th 2010
Genre: fiction, historical fiction
Source: Review copy from author

 

 

 

Forced to move every twelve days, what would happen to your life? 1927. Rembrandt is the only child in the tiny community of Three Farms. Soon his two aunts grow desperate for babies of their own. A man wearing a black top—coat and a ’glad—ta—meet—ya’ smile arrives with a magic bottle and a deadly deal is made. Determined to undo the wager, Rembrandt, Pa, and Uncle Thompson embark on the journey of their lives, for if they stay in one place for more than twelve days terrible things happen. But where and when will they find a champion capable of defeating the Black Bottle Man? Time ticks. Lives change. Every twelve days. . .

I am woefully late in writing this review. Several times over the past few months I sat down and tried to write it but I couldn’t. I enjoyed this book so much that I wasn’t sure what to say about it. It happens sometimes. I always find the reviews for books that blew me away are the hardest ones to write. And this book did blow me away.

I was actually surprised by how much I liked this book. The premise sounded interesting, but I wasn’t really sure it was going to be my thing. Well, it was. I read it in one sitting and did that happy sigh I do when I finish one of those books that I know I’ll read again and again.

The plot and the writing style work together beautifully and remind me of stories like Stephen King’s The Stand, but without being derivative of them. The themes and the feel of the writing are reminiscent, which is a good thing in my books. The Stand is one of my favourite novels, and I loved the similar good vs bad threads.

I was also surprised how much I enjoyed the religious aspects of the book and how well they worked with the plot. I am in no way a religious person and religion and religious themes are sprinkled throughout Black Bottle Man. But never once was religion used in a preachy way.

The fact that they have to move every twelve days is a cool way to have the story move forward both figuratively and literally. Think of those novels and movies where secondary characters weave in and out (I’m thinking Cold Mountain). They only appear for a little bit, but they have an affect on the plot.

My only complaint is that I felt things were wrapped up a bit too quickly in the end. Of course, that could be in part due to the fact that I didn’t want the book to end. 🙂