Tag Archives: literature

Blog Tour — The Party — Robyn Harding

9 Jun

 

I am so freaking HAPPY to be a part of this blog tour! Robyn was sweet enough to answer some questions, and below our interview you’ll find my review of The Party.

Hi Robyn! Thanks so much for stopping by the blog and answering some questions. 🙂

Lavender Lines: Coffee or tea?

Robyn: Coffee. 1.5 cups with honey and milk.

LL: Do you have any writing rituals? (Fave place, certain music you listen to, etc.)

R: I have a cheerful, sunny little office in my home that I rarely use. Despite having had a professional ergonomic assessment of my workspace, my neck and shoulders seize up when I sit at my desk. Now I am mostly on the couch with my laptop, but I just bought a cardboard standup desk. I am hoping for the best!

I am most creative in the morning. After my husband and kids leave for work/school, I pour my coffee, grab my laptop, and start writing. I don’t shower, dress, brush my teeth… I pity anyone who comes to my door before 10:00 A.M.

LL: Some of the main characters in The Party are, well, not really nice people. Was it hard to write unlikeable characters in a way that would keep readers interested?

R: It was fun! I had never written such odious characters before. I love reading books about nasty people. I don’t need to like the characters, I just need to be interested in them. In The Party, everyone has secrets, everyone has issues, everyone has a motive…. I hope this will keep readers’ attention, even if they hate every character.

LL: Where did the idea for The Party come from?

R: I have two teenaged kids, so underage drinking is a relevant issue in my life. I talked to other parents of teens and found wildly differing opinions on substance use. Some parents are zero tolerance, while other take the “they’re going to drink anyway, I’d rather they do it at home” approach. This made me imagine the worst-case scenario of kids partying at home, and how parents would really deal with that fall out. I also thought it would be fun to have this happen to strict parents who are truly blindsided.

LL: Can you tell us about anything you’re working on now?

R: I’m writing a novel inspired by Canada’s most notorious serial killer, Karla Homolka. She has served her time and is now free, a mother of three, and living a normal family life in Quebec. With this book, I’m confronting some hard questions: Can people really change? Do they deserve a second chance? And can you ever outrun your past?

LL: Again, thanks so much for popping by!

R: And thank you so much for the interview!

 

 

 

 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
Released: June 6th, 2017
Genre: Mystery, literature
Source: ARC from publisher

 

Sweet sixteen. It’s an exciting coming of age, a milestone, and a rite of passage. Jeff and Kim Sanders plan on throwing a party for their daughter, Hannah—a sweet girl with good grades and nice friends. Rather than an extravagant, indulgent affair, they invite four girls over for pizza, cake, movies, and a sleepover. What could possibly go wrong?

But things do go wrong, horrifically so. After a tragic accident occurs, Jeff and Kim’s flawless life in a wealthy San Francisco suburb suddenly begins to come apart. In the ugly aftermath, friends become enemies, dark secrets are revealed in the Sanders’ marriage, and the truth about their perfect daughter, Hannah, is exposed.

Harkening to Herman Koch’s The Dinner, Christos Tsiolkas’s The Slap, and Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, The Party takes us behind the façade of the picture-perfect family, exposing the lies, betrayals, and moral lapses that neighbors don’t see—and the secrets that children and parents keep from themselves and each other.

From Goodreads

Holy Hell, fellow book nerds! This book was a super great read, but I am afeared it will be hard to review, because the thing I like the best about it is the ending and I sure as heck don’t want to give that away. All I will say about the ending is that it is one of the most surprising and OMG endings I’ve read in a long, long time and I absolutely love it.

The second thing I love the most about this book is something I can talk about, and that’s the fact that pretty much every character in the book, in one way or another, is a douchenozzle. I am not one of those readers that has to like main characters in order to enjoy and like the book, nope. This was a favorite read for me, but my God I definitely wouldn’t want to meet any of these characters.

Writing a riveting book with unlikable characters is a hard hard thing to do, I imagine, and Harding does it wonderfully. I read this book in two sittings and when I was done I spent some time thinking about the characters and their motivations behind what they did. Even now, writing the review weeks after I read it, I can’t help but think back on it and wonder not only about their actions in the book, but also what their actions would be AFTER the book.

If you are looking for an engaging, make-you-think read, you can’t go wrong with The Party.

The Work Boyfriend — Deanna McFadden

3 Sep

workboyfriend

 

Publisher:Farringdon Road Books
Released: December 19th, 2014
Genre: Chick-lit
Source: Purchased eBook

 

What happens when the life you have isn’t the one you want…

Kelly has a great life. The kind of life people wish for, in fact. She has an upwardly-mobile career, and a stable, loving relationship with her college boyfriend, Rob. At this very moment, anyone looking in from the outside would see her life moving in exactly the right direction.

Except, the path in front of her might not be the way for Kelly at all, and the only person who gets this is her “work boyfriend” Garrett. He’s the one who really gets how trapped she feels.

And then everything spirals out of control during the holidays, and when Kelly should be celebrating the future, she finds herself questioning what she really wants from her life . . . and who she wants in it.

From Goodreads

 

I can be very picky about my chick-lit. I’m okay with romance but it can’t be the main purpose of the book. The female lead has to be relatable. And the plot has to be engaging, not cliche. Thankfully The Work Boyfriend has all these things and then some.

What a smart, smart read! Just awesome. The writing is snappy and the dialogue just flows.  None of the characters are stereotypical and I found Kelly very relatable, even though I am nowhere near where she is in life. I think the reason for this is because her insecurities about life, and whether she should do what she’s supposed to do or what will make her happy, is something that a lot of us struggle with.

OMG the ending. I don’t want to give anything away, but the ending made me want to give the author a hug. It’s unexpected but so real and made perfect sense for the story and Kelly. It was perfect.

If you enjoy a smart story with relatable characters, then The Work Boyfriend is right up your alley. I look forward to reading more from McFadden.

Irma Voth by Miriam Toews

16 May

Publisher: Random House Canada
Released: April 5th, 2011
Genre: fiction
For review from publisher.

Miriam Toews’ new novel brings us back to the beloved voice of her award-winning, #1 bestseller A Complicated Kindness, and to a Mennonite community in the Mexican desert. Original and brilliant, she is a master of storytelling at the height of her powers, who manages with trademark wry wit and a fierce tenderness to be at once heartbreaking and laugh-out-loud funny.

Irma Voth entangles love, longing and dark family secrets. The stifling, reclusive Mennonite life of nineteen-year-old Irma Voth – newly married and newly deserted and as unforgettable a character as Nomi Nickel in A Complicated Kindness – is irrevocably changed when a film crew moves in to make a movie about the community. She embraces the absurdity, creative passion and warmth of their world but her intractable and domineering father is determined to keep her from it at all costs. The confrontation between them sets her on an irrevocable path towards something that feels like freedom as she and her young sister, Aggie, wise beyond her teenage years, flee to the city, upheld only by their love for each other and their smart wit, even as they begin to understand the tragedy that has their family in its grip.

Irma Voth delves into the complicated factors that set us on the road to self-discovery and how we can sometimes find the strength to endure the really hard things that happen. And as Gustavo, a taxi driver, says, you go on, you live and you laugh and you are compassionate toward others. It also asks that most difficult of questions: How do we forgive? And most importantly, how do we forgive ourselves?

From Random House Canada website.

There are just some authors that blow you away every freaking time. I mean EVERY time. They change things up from novel to novel and when you open their latest offering you never quite know what to expect, except that it’s going to be brilliant. For me, Miriam Toews falls into this group. I have been left speechless by everything she’s written, and Irma Voth was no different.

I don’t even feel qualified to talk about her writing, really. I feel that anything I say won’t capture how fluid and simple and complicated and poetic it is. She can evoke so much emotion with one sentence that it’s ridiculous. Seriously.

While I loved the whole book, I was riveted once Irma and Aggie flee to the city. There’s one scene, just as they’re leaving, that left me gasping for air it was so beautiful and painful and honest. Toews weaves a story not just about finding yourself, but also about helping others find themselves.

At first Irma might strike readers as a fairly simple character, but as the book goes on and you spend more time with Irma, you find out that there’s more than meets the eye. In fact, most of the characters, one way or another, blossom throughout the book and become multi-dimensional. It’s kinda like it works when you meet people in real like: the longer you know them, the more you see the different layers that make them up.

Irma Voth, both the book and the character, are going to stick with me for a while I think. As do most of Toews characters.

Review: How to Make a Bird by Martine Murray

1 Jun

Scholastic Canada, 2010

It’s dawn, on an empty road in the countryside. Empty, except for the girl in the long, red evening gown, standing next to a bicycle, and looking back at the home she’s about to leave. Mannie’s ready to start a new life and forget the terrible things that have happened here, but there are questions that need to be answered before she can let go. Questions about her elegant but unstable mother, her brother who’s always overshadowed her, and his friend Harry Jacob, who just might be Mannie’s boyfriend . . .

And her only clue is an unfamiliar address in Melbourne, written on a scrap of paper found in her brother’s room. As she makes her journey to the city, the mystery of this vulnerable, quirky girl is revealed piece by piece in her search for a way to become whole again.

From Scholastic Canada website

Quite often as writers, we are told to “show, not tell”. Neverbefore have I found such an amazing example of this than Martine Murray’s How to Make a Bird. The mysteries that surround Mannie and her past trickle out effortlessly and without a whole lot of bells and whistles, making the reveals even more dramatic. The whole less is more thing.

And OMG the writing! So, so lyrical and pretty. Her use of language and descriptive abilities made me ache.  Even though she was quite often switching from the present to the past and then going even further into the past, there was a flow to the prose and not once was I confused.

I had a strong reaction to aspects of How to Make a Bird partly because of a few scenes in the book that seemed to mimick events in my past. And I’m not talking generic things that any fake psychic could know. I’m talking about specifics. Because of this I felt a very strong connection to Mannie and could empathize to some degree with what she was going through.

There was nothing about this book that I did not like. Sure, some of the Australian termonology threw me for a bit of a loop, but once I read the context of the word, its meaning wasn’t too hard to figure out.

If you are looking for a beautifully written book with a main character that will both break your heart and make you smile, then How to Make a Bird is definitely a novel you should check out.

Thanks so much to Scholastic Canada for the review copy.

Come, Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant

27 Aug

Published by Knopf Canada, 2009
Reviewed by Colleen McKie

As a Canadian, I am a wee bit partial to books that are not only written by Canadians, but that take place in Canada.  I am also a fan of weird, quirky characters and stories.  Thankfully Come, Thou tortoise, written by Canadian Jessica Grant, taking place in St. John’s, NFLD and featuring a tortoise as a main character meets all of these prerequisites.

The book centers around Audrey and her tortoise, Winnifred. The two areCome_Thou_Tortoise temporality separated when Audrey has to leave her Portland, Oregon apartment to head back to her hometown of St. John’s NFLD after her father receives a blow to the head and ends up in a coma.  Unfortunately her dad succumbs to his injuries before her plane even lands. Her uncle Thoby takes off for England shortly after, leaving Audrey alone to deal with things like clearing out the house and a set of faulty Christmas lights.  To cope with the situation, Audrey throws herself into solving a mystery she has stumbled across, using that as a way to avoid dealing with her father’s death.

Interspersed with Audrey’s story is that of Winnifred, who reflects on her life thus far and spends a lot of time wondering if Audrey has abandoned her. While at first the idea of reading the musings of a tortoise was a bit weird, a quarter of the way into the book, I was loving Winnifred and her unique take on things.

I also loved all of the play on words (Audrey often referred to her father as being in a “comma”) that Grant includes throughout the book. Audrey’s thoughts are often jumbled, but Grant writes them so that they appear to flow from one another. The only issue I had with the language in the book is really a technicality and an issue I have had with many other “literary” books: the avoidance of using quotation marks for dialogue.  I found it very confusing and distracting at first, but once I got into the characters and the story, it became less of an issue, although I always remained aware of it.

And speaking of the story, it kept me hooked throughout and the ending, while somewhat open (which I LOVE) was a bit of a surprise for me, but in a good way.

Jessica Grant is definitely a writer to read and watch out for and for me Come, Thou Tortoise is up there with Miriam Toews The Flying Troutmans and a Complicated Kindness.

Take a peek inside Come, Thou Tortoise.