Tag Archives: Canadian Literature

Review: The Canterbury Trail by Angie Abdou

8 Feb

Publisher: Brindle & Glass
Released: Feb 8th, 2011
Genre: Canadian literature
Purchased for my Kobo as soon as it was available.

It’s the last ski weekend of the season and a mishmash of snow-enthusiasts is on its way to a remote backwoods cabin. In an odd pilgrimage through the mountains, the townsfolk of Coalton—from the ski bum to the urbanite—embark on a bizarre adventure that walks the line between comedy and tragedy. As the rednecks mount their sleds and the hippies snowshoe through the cedar forest, we see rivals converge for the weekend. While readers follow the characters on their voyage up and over the mountain, stereotypes of ski-town culture fall away. Loco, the ski bum, is about to start his first real job; Alison, the urbanite, is forced to learn how to wield an avalanche shovel; and Michael, the real estate developer, is high on mushroom tea.

In a blend of mordant humour and heartbreak, Angie Abdou chronicles a day in the life of these industrious few as they attempt to conquer the mountain. In an avalanche of action, Angie Abdou explores the way in which people treat their fellow citizens and the landscape they love.

From Brindle & Glass website.

Holy smokin’ turtles! The Canterbury Trail is one Hell of a book. I mean, whether you’re into skiing, group dynamics or different ways to consume pot,  you’ll probably flip over this book, too.

For me, the idea of smooshing a diverse group of people into a ski cabin for the night is wicked cool. See, my educational background is in sociology and I’ve always been fascinate with group dynamics. And the group dynamics in The Canterbury Trail had me salivating for most of the book. It was almost like a Canadian backwoods winter reality TV show. But unlike reality TV shows where there are clear “good guys” and “bad guys”, the cast of The Canterbury Trail was all a mix of both. Every time it seemed like a character was clearly “the dick” or “the slut” Abdou gave a us a deeper peak into their being and it was clear that all was not as it seemed on the surface.

There are quite a few characters in this book and at first I thought I was going to need a cheat sheet just to keep up with everybody. But Abdou writes in such a way that keeping everyone straight was never an issues. Some chapters also saw multiple changes in point of view, which would normally make me want to pitch the book, but in this case it was done so seamlessly that I didn’t find it confusing or annoying.

Nature, and the mountains themselves, are characters in the book, and through Abdou’s writing you can tell she has a great love and respect for the outdoors. I read most of The Canterbury Trail during a snowstorm, which only added to my awe of her writing about the snow and nature and how perfectly she nailed each description. I was also in awe of why anyone in their right mind would want to hike for hours in the snow to ski, but hey, what can I say? I’m not the outdoorsy type.

I think the book’s ending may take some people by surprise, but I think it ended the only way that it could. And that’s all I’m going to say about that. (At least here, anyway. Angie? Expect an email from me, soon. :P)

I really loved this book. In fact, I think I actually loved it more than Abdou’s The Bone Cage, which I didn’t think possible. And The Canterbury Trail solidified Angie Abdou as one of my favorite writers.

 

 

 

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Review: Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr

21 Apr

HarperCollins Canada, 2010

Hunger for nourishment.
Hunger for touch.
Hunger to belong.

Half-human and half-faery, Ani is driven by her hungers.

Those same appetites also attract powerful enemies and uncertain allies, including Devlin. He was created as an assassin and is brother to the faeries’ coolly logical High Queen and to her chaotic twin, the embodiment of War. Devlin wants to keep Ani safe from his sisters, knowing that if he fails, he will be the instrument of Ani’s death.

Ani isn’t one to be guarded while others fight battles for her, though. She has the courage to protect herself and the ability to alter Devlin’s plans—and his life. The two are drawn together, each with reason to fear the other and to fear for one another. But as they grow closer, a larger threat imperils the whole of Faerie. Will saving the faery realm mean losing each other?

From HarperCollins Canada website

When discussing works by certain authors, I find it very hard not to gush like the fan girl that I am. Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely series definintely falls into that Oh-my-God-I-love-it-so-much-squee! category.

I was so happy when this review copy came to me via HarperCollins Canada and I was so excited to see what the gang was up to. But I should have known that Melissa would change things up like she always does. See, while Radiant Shadows is part of the Wicked Lovely series (as is Wicked Lovely, Ink Exchange and Fragile Eternity) this is a companion series. So the main characters that we saw last time in Fragile Eternity weren’t the main characters in Radiant Shadows. In fact, we hardly saw some of them at all.

That’s one of the things that’s so great about Radiant Shadows: it could be the first Melissa Marr book you pick up and you won’t be totally confused because it’s the fourth book written in the series. The main characters, Ani and Devlin were, at best, secondary characters up until this point. Their story really starts in this book.

And what a story! While all of Marr’s couplings have their issues (no perfectly happy ending for most) these two are, perhaps, the angstiest, at least at the start. Then they kinda hit their groove and that’s that.  I think some readers are going to bitch at the lack of heavy duty romance in this one, but for me, it made sense. Or maybe it was full of heavy duty romance and in my old age it doesn’t make me gag as much as it used to. Either way, Melissa achieved the right balance. The main story was Ani’s journey of self-discovery. And watching her come into her own was great. Sure Devlin was a part of that, but he wasn’t the be all and end all. While Ani isn’t a 100% good character (she is of the Dark Court, after all) she is a likeable character.

Devlin I’m kinda meh about. I mean, he was interesting enough and all, but when compared to the other men in the series (Niall, Irial, Seth, Keenan) I’m not sure he stood up. I’m hoping that once I get to know him better in other books he’ll grow on me.

I’m not a fan of traditional fantasy novels, and while Radiant Shadows is, technically, an urban fantasy, there was a heck of a lot of time spent in Faerie, and I was fascinated by it. As I was by all the dealings and politicking between the courts and the individuals within each court.  I enjoyed it so much, that I’m thinking of delving into the world of straight fantasy books, with no urban in sight.

Melissa’s writing, as always, was captivating and detailed. Honestly, I applaud her for being able to keep everything and everybody straight.  There are some new characters in Radiant Shadows,  some old characters that don’t make it to the end and other characters remain missing. This isn’t a happy book, but then none in the series are.

Towards the end there are some major shake-ups in the Wicked Lovely world, and while Radiant Shadows didn’t necessarily end in an Holy crap cliff-hanger, it still left me with my jaw open, wanting more.

Fans of Melissa Marr should be more than happy with Radiant Shadows. And new readers will definitely be sucked into the Wicked Lovely world.

Browse inside Radiant Shadows.
Big thanks to HarperCollins Canada for the review copy.

Review: Spin by Catherine McKenzie

18 Jan

Katie Sandford has just gotten an interview at her favourite music magazine, The Line. It’s the chance of a lifetime. So what does she do? Goes out to celebrate — and shows up still drunk at the interview. No surprise, she doesn’t get the job, but the folks at The Line think she might be perfect for another assignment for their sister gossip rag. All Katie has to do is follow It Girl Amber Sheppard into rehab. If she can get the inside scoop (and complete the 30-day program without getting kicked out), they’ll reconsider her for the job at The Line.

Katie takes the job. But things get complicated when real friendships develop, a cute celebrity handler named Henry gets involved, and Katie begins to realize she may be in rehab for a reason. Katie has to make a decision — is publishing the article worth everything she has to lose?

From HarperCollins website

Damn, I loved this book! Damaged female lead, awkward situations, quirky friends and a hunky guy – honeslty? What’s not to love?

When I’m really into a book I devour it until I’m done. I also have a tendency to want to see what’s coming up so bad that I skim words, sometimes even whole paragraphs, so I can see what’s going to happen next. While reading Spin I quite often had to remind myself to slow down and smell the roses, or in this case read each wonderful word that McKenzie wrote. And the way she strung words together in this book was wonderful. And addictive.

I love damaged characters, and Spin had them a-plenty. And they weren’t so damaged that they were unbelievable – I could definintely identify with them. Maybe not with what they were going through, but the under lying reasons for their problems.

Quite often books that are catagorised as chic lit end up being a bit over the top and the characters come off as, well, cartoonie. McKenzie did a wicked job of keeping the balance between humourous and believable and given the fact that alcoholism and drug addiction played a major part in the plot, I’m sure it was a tough thing to do. But McKenzie pulls it off brilliantly.

Another thing that chic lit books sometimes go over board on is the romance (which usually makes me roll my eyes, gag, or both). For me, Spin had just the right touch. It wasn’t too steamy, too over done, or too romantic. It was realistic. And realistic romance is something that I appreciate in books.

I was actually sad when Spin was over, I like the characters so much. And I can’t wait to read more from McKenzie. I have a feeling she’s going to become one of my fave authors. In fact, I actually think she already is.

Browse inside Spin.

Green Books Campaign: From a Speaking Place

10 Nov

100bloggers-logo-art

This review is part of the Green Books campaign . Today 100 bloggers are reviewing 100 great books printed in an environmentally friendly way. Our goal is to encourage publishers to get greener and readers to take the environment into consideration when purchasing books. This campaign is organized by Eco-Libris, a  a green company working to green up the book industry by promoting the adoption of green practices, balancing out books by planting trees, and supporting green books. A full list of participating blogs and links to their reviews is available on Eco-Libris website .

From A Speaking Place: Writings from the First Fifty Years of Canadian Literature
Published by Ronsdale Press

When I signed up to be a part of Green Books Campaign, I was very excited.  I buy a lot of  books and quite often I feel guilty about the environmental impact my little addiction has. What better way to promote green book making and buying than having 100 bloggers review books published by green publishers?

Ronsdale Press published a great looking book called From A Speaking Place: Writings from the First Fifty Years of Canadian Literature. As a reader and a writer, I was very excited to delve into this book.  Printed using both recycled paper and FSC certified paper, it’s doubly responsible.

Now, since this event is book bloggers reviewing books for the Green Book Campaign, I imagine you are expecting a review, right? Unfortunately I only received the book last night and while I am a fast reader, I’m not that fast. So instead of a review of why I liked the book, here are a few reasons why I am looking forward to reading it.

As a writer, I am always looking for books to help me not only improve my art, but to understand it better. So many people think that writers just get up and write, the words flowing effortlessly.  While this may sometimes be the case, most of us have to practice, using different techniques and exercises to get the words out. Writers also read books on writings and literature, so I knew that this book would be right up my alley.

Canadian Literature is Canada’s “it” magazine when it comes to writing. Offering up articles, book critiques and poetry, most, if not all, Canadian book lovers and readers have heard of it. This volume celebrates the first 50 years of Canadian Literature and at over 400 pages includes what some of the best articles written during that time.

I’m really looking forward to sitting down and reading From A Speaking Place. And I know once I am done it will find a nice, snug spot with all my other writing books.