Tag Archives: Fiction

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.

Small Bones — Vicki Grant

8 Mar

smalbonesPublisher: Orca Books
Released: September 29th, 2015
Genre: YA
Source: Ebook review copy from publisher

 

 

 

There’s nothing to stop a small person from dreaming big.

Dot, whose name reflects her stature, has always had big dreams—she wants to be a dress designer like Mary Quant—but her dreams have to be put on hold while she searches for the truth about her parents. She gets a job as a seamstress at a lakeside resort in rural Ontario and falls hard for Eddie, a charming local boy who is equal parts helpful and distracting as Dot investigates her past. Searching for answers to questions about her birth, Dot learns more than she ever wanted to about the terrible effects of war, the legacy of deceit—and the enduring nature of love.

From Goodreads.

I have to give Orca, this book and Vicki a big THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. This was the first book I read in the Secrets series and it made me realize that I really kinda did historical fiction. At least set in the time that the books are set, the mid sixties.

This book was a super combination of mystery and fun. I didn’t find it laugh out loud funny as with Vicki’s other books, but I actually loved that. Mostly because that wouldn’t have done the story justice at all. But Vicki has such a fresh and breezy writing style and it fit in perfectly with Dot’s character and her story. I also loved that the mystery wasn’t something that was easy to figure out and had many layers to it(and that’s all I’ll say because SPOILERS!).

I’m not a huge, huge fan or romance, but I find that when it’s done well, I actually do enjoy it! And I liked that there was an element of romance in Small Bones, but that it really wasn’t the main focus.

This book has some messages in it about war, family and love, but it didn’t hit you over the head with it. They were an integral part of the story, so it didn’t come off as preachy at all.

Small Bones was a great read and I highly recommend it.

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. 🙂

NaNoWriMo time once again

1 Nov

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For those of you who may not know, National Novel Writing Month — aka NaNoWriMo — happens every November. It’s when writers decide to punish — I mean challenge themselves by writing a 50,000 first draft of a book in a month. It works out to be aprox 1,666 words a day, which doesn’t sound too bad, right? And it’s not. Until you factor in things like regular life, things that pop up, writer’s block, writer’s fatigue, plot that goes nowhere, characters that become assholes and drafts that just won’t let themselves be written.

I’ve tried it about four times. The first time was 2006 and I was successful. The second time, 2007, I got about half way through. My third try was 2011 and I got most of the first draft done. Last year was my fourth attempt and I got as far as planning out the book. So my success has been varying. But the cool thing about NaNoWriMo is that you can participate how you want and you can judge your success how you want. Last year, when I plotted out a book, it was the first time I had tried to work on something new in over four years. So, yeah, I was pretty happy with that.

This year I’ve decided to give it another go. I haven’t written a whole lot in the past few years, and for a while I actually made a conscious decision to not write. I gave it up. But I recently realized that I really, really miss writing. So here I am.

A few weeks ago I plotted out a non-fiction book on the various animals that we have looked after over the years. (Plotting before November 1st is not only allowed, it’s encouraged.) Yesterday, during a Q&A with Kelley Armstrong, which I will tell you all about tomorrow, I realized I didn’t want to write non-fiction right now. I wanted to write fiction, but had no freaking idea what to write.

Then this morning I remembered last year’s plotted out book, which is the first book in a cozy mystery series. So I dug out my notes and it feels like an awesome fit for this month. This morning I’ll be going through those notes, rewriting them out and then getting my 1,666 words in.

How about you guys? Anyone else NaNoing this year?

Taken By Chance — Erica Cameron and Lani Woodland

14 May

takenbychance

Released: May 5th, 2015
Genre: YA contemporary
Source: Ebook for review from author

 

 

 

A single chance encounter can change your life…

Despite being the son of Hollywood’s hottest director, Dare Andrews has managed to steer clear of the paparazzi for seventeen years. But when his ​ex-​girlfriend sells a tell-all interview to the tabloids, he’s suddenly hounded by fans and reporters alike. Dare is getting cynical fast, so he’s unprepared to meet a glass-half-full girl like Chance. And unprepared for the consequences after he helps her save face. Pretending to be the new guy in her life was easy enough when she was being dumped by her boyfriend, but the lie backfires.

What started as a random act of chivalry becomes something deeper as Dare and Chance find themselves trapped in their charade. The problem is that the more Dare gets to know Chance, the less fake their relationship feels. But secrets they both keep threaten their future, and with new storm​s​ overhead, will Chance’s lessons in optimism be enough to help Dare find the silver lining?​

From Goodreads

First of all, how freaking cute is this title? I LOVE play on words and this title is spot on.

This whole book was cute and funny and sweet and I fell in love with it from the first page. The plot was interesting and there were even a few times where I was like WHAT? which I love. I love when something unexpected happens and I’m surprised but it fits into the plot perfectly.

As some of you may know, I’m not a huge fan of romance-centered novels. At all. But the romance presented in Taken By Chance was totally real and honest and messy and I dug it.

I think the thing that I enjoyed the most about the book was the portrayal of friendship. Once again these were written in a real and honest way.  I loved the banter back and forth between friends and the different group dynamics that took place.  Nothing was cookie cutter or idealized.

I also like how Verity’s sub plot was written. It was obviously very important but the authors didn’t tell too much too soon. I knew something bad had happened to her, but the authors dropped little nuggets of information rather than coming out and telling right away which added to the tension and made me want to know even more.

So, yeah, I really enjoyed Taken By Chance. It’s the first in the Laguna Tides series. I think this is going to be one of those series where when I finish one book I itch to read the next.

Between — Angie Abdou

19 Feb

betweenPublisher: Arsenal Pulp Press
Released: October, 2014
Genre: adult, literary, Canadian fiction
Source: paperback copy from author for review

 

 

 

Vero and her husband Shane have moved out of the sweet suite above his parents’ garage and found themselves smack in the middle of adulthood―two kids, two cars, two jobs. They are not coping well. In response to their looming domestic breakdown, Vero and Shane get live-in help with their sons―a woman from the Philippines named Ligaya (which means happiness), whom the boys call LiLi. Vero justifies LiLi’s role in their home by insisting that she is part of their family, and she goes to great lengths in order to ease her conscience. But differences persist; Vero grapples with her overextended role as a mother and struggles to keep her marriage passionate, while LiLi silently bears the burden of a secret she left behind at home.

Between offers readers an intriguing, searing portrait of two women from two different cultures. At the same time, it satirizes contemporary love, marriage, and parenthood by exposing the sense of entitlement and superiority at the heart of upper-middle-class North American existence through a ubiquitous presence in it: the foreign nanny. Angie Abdou comically and tragically tackles the issue of international nannies by providing a window on motherhood where it is tangled up with class, career, labour, and desire.

From Goodreads.

 

This book. OMG THIS BOOK! I loved it SO HARD. It was beautiful and awkward and messy and real.

Okay, Vero: I don’t think I’ve ever read such an unlikeable yet completely sympathetic character. I mean, I spent most of the book not really liking her but at the same time I felt so goddamn bad for her and wanted to take her out for a tea or buy her some lavender essence oil or something. And I love when I’m conflicted about a character. Purely good or purely bad characters just don’t do it for me.

Ligaya was also a well-written, complicated character who really comes into her own by the end of the book. There’s one scene at the end with Ligaya, Vero and Shane and I was all like, “You go LiLI! You tell them how it is!” It was cool to watch her gain confidence in a very unexpected way.

Seriously, guys, the imperfections of all the characters are described perfectly.

Abdou’s use of language is exquisite and if I were to quote all of my favourite lines this review would be, well, pretty much the whole book. I rarely ever include direct quotes in my reviews, but here are two that took my breath away:

“The smile let Vero feel the earth under her feet.” — page 272

“The silence that follows is palatable, the air heavy with it. Vero imagines scooping it into her mouth, eating it like ice cream.” — page 293

I really can’t recommend this book enough. As with Abdou’s other books, Between will take its place on my favourite reads bookcase.

In Leah’s Wake – Terri Giuliano Long

20 Sep

Publisher: Laughing Moon Publishing
Released: Feb 28th, 2010
Genre: Adult fiction
Review copy from author

The Tylers have a perfect life—beautiful home, established careers, two sweet and talented daughters. Their eldest daughter, Leah, an exceptional soccer player, is on track for a prestigious. Their youngest, Justine, more responsible than seems possible for her 12 years, just wants her sister’s approval. With Leah nearing the end of high school and Justine a seemingly together kid, the parents are set to enjoy a peaceful life…until everything goes wrong.

As Leah’s parents fight to save their daughter from a world of drugs, sex, and wild parties, their divided approach drives their daughter out of their home and a wedge into their marriage. Meanwhile, twelve-year-old Justine observes her sister’s rebellion from the shadows of their fragmented family—leaving her to question whether anyone loves her and if God even knows she exists.

Can this family survive in Leah’s wake? What happens when love just isn’t enough?

From the author’s website.

This book was one emotional roller coaster of a ride. This family is so fragmented and broken that at times it was awkward to read about. But the good kind of awkward, you know? The kind that most of us can identify with.

I really appreciated the fact that this was a true family drama. The author lets us see things from all perspectives and while there’s a lot of blame from different family members, it’s easy to see that the problems, the issues involve everybody. There really isn’t one person to blame.

With that being said, Leah is at the centre of most of the drama and problems with the family. But I didn’t feel that Leah was written in such a way that I was always thinking “Sheesh, teens!” There were often times that I felt a lot of empathy for Leah, even when she was wandering down a bad path and when she was being, well, obnoxious.  She was a well-rounded character, as were all the characters.

In Leah’s Wake surprised me. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but what I got was a well-told story of relationships and families. I think anyone who enjoys a book where things get messy and the characters aren’t perfect will enjoy it. I did.