Book Review: That Part was True by Deborah McKinlay

Everyone needs a little romance in their life, and by the same token, a little romance book never hurt either. That Part was True reminded me of a Nicholas Sparks story, so that should give you an idea of what you’re in for if you pick up this book. Mind you, I’ve never actually read Nicholas Sparks, but I have a pretty good idea of what his books involve, and he wrote The Notebook (along with a bunch of other books that have turned into popular movies) so you get my gist. And if you don’t, click here to find out whether you’ve actually watched a Nicholas Sparks movie in the past-you probably have.


That Part Was True is a quick little read-perfect for the beach, or if you live in Canada and it’s February, perfect to read by the fireplace with a glass of wine in your hand. Time for another teachable moment here-this book is also considered an epistolary novel (at least, part of it is) so the storyline is told through letters and correspondence between characters. This is a great way to tell a story because it forces the reader to infer things on their own, and it also breaks up the monotony of a long page with no paragraph breaks; the letters themselves are typically written in a different font, with a different voice.

I must admit I don’t know much about Deborah McKinlay-after doing a quick internet search about her, it seems as though she’s written a few novels, and lives in the UK. She’s also got a great little website, and some sort of alter ego, so it’s worth checking out here.

I won’t bother going into anymore detail about this book, because I think after reading the first paragraph of my post you’ll know right away whether you actually want to read the novel or not. Take my word for it, it’s fun and worth the hour or two you’ll spend reading it.


Are you Addicted to Books?

Are you Addicted to Books? (Pictures)

A wonderful friend of mine posted this article/list of pictures a la buzzfeed on my facebook wall a few days ago, and reading it made me realize that I’m not addicted to books (technically), but I love them alot*, more than most people. Another sign I love books? I have a bunch of bookmarks with the saying: “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends”, which is not only sad to admit publicly, but even worse because  I haven’t even hit menopause yet and already I’m easily annoyed by people. What does that say about my social future?

This is essentially my life's motto, and I've literally said these exact words to people before

This is essentially my life’s motto, and I’ve literally said these exact words to people before

*I felt the need to make this distinction, because if you fall into the black hole of ‘internet comments’ at the end of the above article, you will see that one unfortunate soul literally is addicted to books, and has suffered quite a bit in her life because of it-yikes! Moral of the story-don’t read too many books, and oh yeah don’t read internet comments either because they’re a huge time waster






Book Review: All the Broken Things by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer

Living in Alberta, I typically see bears in their natural habitat (in the mountains while hiking, driving through, etc.). When I lived in Ontario, I usually saw bears in an unnatural habitat-digging through garbage bins around cottage country. All the Broken Things by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer takes place just outside of and in the city of Toronto, and the book explores the idea of people/animals in their unnatural habitats, much like my memories of watching black bears at the local Muskoka dump. The bears scrounging for food while us cottagers watched with a fascinated gaze must have made them uncomfortable, and this novel touches upon this idea of being different, and eliciting unwanted stares.

Although this has nothing to do with the review, here's a picture of Mr. Teddy for y'all who are curious

Although this has nothing to do with the review, here’s a picture of Mr. Teddy for y’all who are curious

Kuitenbrouer’s book features a young boy (Bo) and his ‘pet’ bear (Bear). Not too creative a name, I know, although having named my own stuffed animal “Mr. Teddy” doesn’t leave me in any position to judge. Bo trains Bear to perform at the CNE, and at some points, leads him around city streets and parks with a leash on, which brought to mind my earlier recollection of bears from my childhood. Most people will be aware of the fact that performing bears was an actual thing back in the day (and horrifically, still is in some places), which is what takes place throughout All the Broken Things. Inhumane treatment of animals for use in the entertainment industry is somewhat of a hot topic right now, so this book is quite timely as well as being beautifully written.index

Something I’d like to really drive home about this book is the fact that the story is so creative. Hundreds of thousands of books are published each year, and many readers complain about the fact that authors seem to be running out of ideas-many books these days have extremely similar premises. In fact, a friend of mine has said to me after reading a work of historical fiction that he’s read the book before (meaning he’s read the same story over and over again but by different authors). However, All the Broken Things takes numerous issues, including the refugee experience, the lasting horrors of war, animal cruelty, alcoholism, first world guilt, the stigma of disabilities, and others to create a rich and emotional narrative, one that was difficult to read at times, but wholly rewarding as a whole. To some this may seem like Kuitenbrouwer has too much going on, but she’s woven these multiple threads together in a believable way. This can be a challenge, but it also implies that the author has a certain amount of faith in their reader-a couple of coincidences here and there isn’t a bad thing-it’s what makes a story a story!

Obviously the issues mentioned above are difficult to read about, some parts of the novel are extremely sad. However, its worth the effort as well as the inevitable sadness or guilt that you may experience while reading. And, before this post gets too serious , I want to point out the fabulous book trailer that was created for this as well. Click here to enjoy it or see below.



Sunday Afternoon Cat Naps

What’s better than lazing around on a Sunday afternoon with a good book? Nothing much, except of course if you have some wonderful feline friends to accompany you while you relax. That seems to always brighten my weekends, so I thought I’d take a few pictures to show off how great my day has been.

Pearl luxuriating in her favourite blanket.

Pearl luxuriating in her favourite blanket.

Smokey pondering the book above her.

Smokey pondering the book above her.

I’ve just finished reading All the Broken Things by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, and because animals feature quite widely in this book, being close to my cats while reading was extremely comforting because this was difficult book to read at times. There’s a teaser for you-I hope to post the review sometime in the next few days.







Book Review: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Yeah I’m going to go ahead and say this was the longest book I’ve ever read.  Yup, I’m going to state that right here. Clocking in at 771 pages (with tiny font and small margins!) this book was super long. However, this isn’t a fault that I’m drawing attention to, it’s just a statement I’m making about the book in general. Lots is going on in here, including gun fights, burglary, and love stories, so granted Goldfinch needed a lot of room to sort this all out. Plus, it’s a literary book, so what Janet Evanovich can fit into two hundred pages, Donna Tartt took considerably more room to explain (no diss to Evanovich intended by that comment, she knows what she’s doing).

Props to Janet Evanovich-keep up the good work, and for the love of books and all things holy keep doing what you're doing

Props to Janet Evanovich-keep up the good work, and for the love of books and all things holy keep doing what you’re doing

Now that I’m out of the publishing biz, books come to me haphazardly, and I get my book gossip through others. A close friend told me that this book had a lot of buzz around it, so obviously that pushed me to pick it up, even though it physically hurt my wrists to hold it  while reading if I was without a pillow to support it. Now that I’ve grown superhuman strength in my forearms, I also feel confident enough to stay that the daunting length of the novel is worth it. It also serves as a good excuse as to why I haven’t posted in so long-I literally had nothing else to write about, I was too busy reading this book!

The story starts off on a despairing note (the protagonist Theo losing his mother in an explosion) and things don’t get much better for the young boy as it continues (his estranged, alcoholic father insists on reinserting himself into his life), but I wouldn’t say this is a ‘sad’ novel because it follows Theo throughout the first third of his life, so you get to see his ups and downs as he experiences them. Plus, I don’t like sad books, there’s enough depressing stuff on the radio, television, and internet, so if I can avoid a downer of a book, I definitely will, but Goldfinch (despite the low points) still has an uplifting message at the end, which Tartt will go into extreme detail about, so you have that to look forward to.index1

Before I end off this rambling mess of a blog post, I do want to mention how much I enjoyed the character Boris-keep your eyes out for him, he doesn’t show up until a couple hundred pages in, but he is an absolute delight to read about. Some reviewer or another mentions that he lights up every page, and this is a great way to describe him because he adds so much to the plot of the book, as well as Theo’s life in general. Maybe it’s my Ukrainian roots that are showing here, but the very ‘Russian-ness’ of Boris is a great dichotomy against Theo’s annoying New York-ness, and Boris’s Slavic tendencies (quick to temper, but can’t keep a grudge) prompt some very fascinating yet believable exchanges between the two characters.


Book Review: The Dead in their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley

I’d like to take something back that I said a few weeks ago on this blog. I know-shocking isn’t it? I don’t believe Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce Mysteries are a good example of a ‘cozy mystery’. They’re also no Jo Nesbo thriller, but I don’t think they quite fit into the cozy mystery definition.

Nonetheless, I am a HUGE fan of this series, and I guarantee that anyone who enjoys reading the mystery genre (and all of its sub-genres) will like these books. In fact, I’m surprised I’ve had this blog for this long (about 8ish months) and have never had the pleasure of reviewing an Alan Bradley book for my readers. Well-the day has finally come! Time to dig in.

indexThe Dead in their Vaulted Arches is the sixth title in the Flavia series, and just like the others, it was a true pleasure to read. What makes these books so popular and so good is the protagonist Flavia de Luce. She is the very definition of precocious, but her inner thoughts and turmoil are so adult-like that she can appeal to people of all ages. She is incredibly smart, resents her older sisters and has a charming vocabulary that makes me smile to myself as I read her books. She solves the mysteries as they occur, typically using the power of chemistry and undying curiosity to do this. In general, she has saucy responses to people that get in her way, but can prove unbeatably loyal when necessary. And as I’ve said before on this blog, a strong detective is what makes or breaks a mystery series, and she is the perfect example of this.

The more books of his that I read, the more respect I gain for Alan Bradley as a writer. At first glance, these books do seem very simple, but as you read further, a darker, more complicated back story begins to emerge, and each book seems to further develop this story that weaves in and out of the main plot lines. The fifth book ended on a whopping cliffhanger, which I must admit I totally forgot about until I picked up this sixth book almost a year later. index1

As I said earlier, the further along I get in this series, the more I realize that these aren’t your typical cozy mysteries. Not all the victims in these books ‘have it coming’, and some pretty gruesome things happen that are described to the reader in great detail. Not a lot of gore, but more than your typical Murder She Wrote episode, so I think stripping the label of  ‘cozy mystery’ from this series is appropriate. However, I hope that by analyzing these books more closely, I will encourage rather than frighten off perspective readers because I really do think Flavia deserves as many fans as possible.