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Showing posts from July, 2020

REVIEW: Watching You Without Me by Lynn Coady

Why do we feel the need to be polite to people who cross the line and act inappropriately? Maybe it is part of the Maritimes etiquette which requires us to be friendly and polite.  I'd like to believe I would never be a  naïve  as Karen , but what makes this story so scary is that maybe it actually could happen to me. “I had forgotten how smallish cities like this one worked, the way people found out about one another—and east coast people had a knack for this in particular.” Karen’s mother has just died, and her older sister, Kelli, needs a caregiver. So Karen takes a month off work in Toronto to come home to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, to transition her sister into a care home. Her mother left a binder called “Kelli’s World!” which details the programs and helpers that are part of Kelli’s schedule. One of these helpers is Trevor, who takes Kelli for walks twice a week. Right from the get go, Trevor is annoying. After a few chapters, I want to punch him in the face, and

REVIEW: Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

I first read Rules of Civility in 2013, and since then I have loosely thought of it as my favorite novel. This is one of those books that I loved so much I wish I could read it again for the first time. I have always been afraid that I would like it less the second time around. So it felt strange reading this book again. In the prologue, Katey Kontent sees a photograph of a friend she knew 30 years earlier, in her twenties. Her thoughts then turn to the events and people of 1938, a year that changed the course of Katey’s life. As Katey and her roommate, Eve, meet Tinker Gray on New Year’s Eve, I feel like I am also remembering long forgotten friends. “Yes, my thoughts turned to Tinker and to Eve—but they turned to Wallace Wolcott and Dicky Vanderwhile and to Anne Grandyn too. And to those turns of the kaleidoscope that gave color and shape to the passage of my 1938.” The details in the writing are so rich and evocative they transport me to 1930s New York, just as

REVIEW (part one): The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

I have just read the first 120 pages of The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. Only another 1100 or so pages to go. The setting of Marseilles is richly described and the story is anchored in the politics of historical France. The main character is Edmond Dantès: young, successful and in love. Three men jealous of Dantès conspire to frame him for treason. He has just been sent off to prison without a trial. This was originally published as a serial novel, possibly in collaboration with a ghost writer. The writing is wordy and not very subtle; it is full of passion and suspense. I can tell that the next thousand pages are going to fly by as I immerse myself in the adventure and drama about to unfold. ‘Ah! Yes, indeed,’ said Edmond. And, without leaving Mercédès whose hand he held clasped in one of his own, he extended the other with a cordial gesture towards the Catalan. But Fernand, instead of responding to this sign of friendship, remained as silent and motionless a

DNF (sort of) The Shell Collector by Hugh Howey

I made a mistake last week. In my TBR post about The Shell Collector , I said I would either come back to review the book or DNF. But the fact that I had posted about the book somehow made me feel obliged to finish it. A week later, I was only at 50%. Of a book that’s 230 pages long. If that doesn’t scream, DNF, I don’t know what does. But I was compelled to finish. So I got in the tub last night and vowed not to get out until I was done. An hour later, my goal accomplished, I was able to identify why it took me so long to read this book. The Shell Collector is a romance novel. This is not a badly written book, although I thought the pacing was way too slow and the characters were underdeveloped until about 80% into the book. But I am pretty sure I felt this way because I was expecting a different kind of book.   I’m not a big romance reader, so I don’t feel qualified to review a romance novel. What I came here to say is that I should have DNFed this book.

REVIEW: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

This is Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel. It is a completely riveting, heartbreaking work of fiction about the history of slave trade that begins with Fante folklore and ends in present day America. Effia the Beauty was born under a curse in a village in eighteenth century Ghana. British soldiers come from the coast to establish trade and marry women from neighboring villages. Soon enough, Effia’s own village forms an alliance to sell slaves to the British. In the bargaining, Effia marries a British soldier and moves to the castle. Upon arrival, Effia discovers a dungeon under the ground. "Then, carried up with the breeze, came a faint crying sound. So faint, Effia thought she was imagining it until she lowered herself down, rested her ear against the grate. “James, are there people down there? She asked." One of the slaves is a woman That Effia’s own brother helped capture. She is shipped across the ocean in appalling conditions. With her, she carries a secret th