Jogging with the Great Ray Charles
Book Review / August 19, 2017

Title: Jogging with the Great Ray Charles Author: Kenneth Sherman Genre: Poetry Publisher: ECW Press Release Date: October 11th, 2016 Format: eBook Pages: 88 Source: NetGalley A poetic masterclass from a writer at the height of his craft  Kenneth Sherman’s work has always displayed a vibrant lyricism, so it’s no surprise that his powerful new collection contains a number of poems with musical motifs. In such pieces as “Clarinet,” “Transistor Sister,” and the book’s titular poem, Sherman ponders our human transience while searching for “a voice to stand time’s test.” Sherman also confronts health concerns in a language that is Shaker-plain. The book concludes with the sombre, compassionate, and truly remarkable seven-part “Kingdom,” a meditation on the plight of the dispossessed. In a Globe and Mail review of The Well: New and Selected Poems, Fraser Sutherland notes, “Sherman always seems to be listening to the voice of Canadian soil and landscape at the same time as he is attentive to the great European metaphysical theme of the soul in conflict with the world and time.” So it is with Jogging with the Great Ray Charles. Sherman has also included three brilliant translations of Yiddish poets that appeared in the Malahat Review’s “At Home in Translation”…

#AnneReadAlong2017 : Anne of Windy Poplars
#AnneReadAlong2017 , Book Review / August 17, 2017

Title: Anne of Windy Poplars Series: Anne of Green Gables, #4 Author: L. M. Montgomery Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Turtleback Books Release Date: December 1st, 1983 Format: Paperback Pages: 288 Source: Library First Published: 1936 Anne Shirley has left Redmond College behind to begin a new job and a new chapter of her life away from Green Gables. Now she faces a new challenge: the Pringles. They’re known as the royal family of Summerside – and they quickly let Anne know she is not the person they had wanted as principal of Summerside High School. But as she settles into the cozy tower room at Windy Poplars, Anne finds she has great allies in the widows Aunt Kate and Aunt Chatty – and in their irrepressible housekeeper, Rebecca Dew. As Anne learns Summerside’s strangest secrets, winning the support of the prickly Pringles becomes only the first of her triumphs.  (via Goodreads) GoodreadsAmazon   I really, really, really wanted to love this book. Reading all of the Anne of Green Gables books in a row is something I’ve really enjoyed. However, I was warned early on that the even number books are the more challenging ones to read. But Anne of…

Dead End in Norvelt
Book Review / July 22, 2017

Title: Dead End in Norvelt Series: Norvelt, #1 Author: Jack Gantos Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux Release Date: September 13th, 2011 Format: Audiobook Pages: 341 Source: Library Dead End in Norvelt is the winner of the 2012 Newbery Medal for the year’s best contribution to children’s literature and the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction! Melding the entirely true and the wildly fictional, Dead End in Norvelt is a novel about an incredible two months for a kid named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation excitement are shot down when he is “grounded for life” by his feuding parents, and whose nose spews bad blood at every little shock he gets.  But plenty of excitement (and shocks) are coming Jack’s way once his mom loans him out to help a feisty old neighbor with a most unusual chore—typewriting obituaries filled with stories about the people who founded his Utopian town. As one obituary leads to another, Jack is launched on a strange adventure involving molten wax, Eleanor Roosevelt, twisted promises, a homemade airplane, Girl Scout cookies, a man on a trike, a dancing plague, voices from the past, Hells Angels . . . and possibly murder. Endlessly surprising, this sly, sharp-edged narrative is the author at his…

One for the Money
Book Review / February 18, 2017

Title: One for the Money Series: Stephanie Plum, #1 Author: Janet Evanovich Genre: Mystery Publisher: Scribner Release Date: August 24th 1999 Format: eBook Pages: 320 Source: Library First Published: August 26th, 1994 Pestered by her close New Jersey family, Stephanie Plum offers to catch high-school crush Joe Morelli, cop turned bail jumper, for her cousin Vinnie’s company. She questions “working girls” to find the missing girlfriend of vicious prizefighter Benito Ramirez while Joe secretly watches her back. Ranger mentors her and supplies vehicles when hers explode. GoodreadsAmazon   I have been waiting for this book to come in from the library for over 6 months. SIX MONTHS. I added it to my TBR based on recommendations from friends, as with most of my books. I was looking for something light and fun, and Stephanie Plum came up. Unfortunately, what I found within the pages was an inventive story that was executed in a dull fashion. It’s apparent to me from the start how things will end, and I predict this formulaic pattern will continue through the now 20+ books. Stephanie Plum is down on her luck. When I say “down on her luck”, I mean pawning her own furniture in…

Dark Matter
Book Review / January 16, 2017

Title: Dark Matter Author: Blake Crouch Genre: Science Fiction Publisher: Crown Release Date: July 26th, 2016 Format: Hardcover Pages: 342 Source: Library “Are you happy with your life?” Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.” In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible. Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe. From the author of the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy, Dark Matter is a…

The Blazing Star
Book Review / December 12, 2016

Title: The Blazing Star Author: Imani Josey Genre: Magical Realism Publisher: Wise Ink Release Date: December 6th, 2016 Format: eBook Pages: 239 Source: NetGalley Sixteen-year-old Portia White is used to being overlooked—after all, her twin sister Alex is a literal genius. But when Portia holds an Egyptian scarab beetle during history class, she takes center stage in a way she never expected: she faints. Upon waking, she is stronger, faster, and braver than before. And when she accidentally touches the scarab again? She wakes up in ancient Egypt—her sister and an unwitting freshman in tow. Great. Mysterious and beautiful, Egypt is more than they could have ever imagined from their days in the classroom. History comes alive as the three teens realize that getting back to the present will be the most difficult thing they’ve ever done. Stalked by vicious monsters called Scorpions, every step in the right direction means a step closer to danger. As Portia and the girls discover that they’re linked to the past by more than just chance, they have to decide what it truly means to be yourself, to love your sister, and to find your way home. (via Goodreads) GoodreadsAmazon   I am typically not someone…

The Bees
Book Review / August 18, 2016

Title: The Bees Author: Laline Paull Genre: Science Fiction Publisher: Ecco Release Date: May 6th, 2014 Format: Paperback Pages: 340 Source: Library Born into the lowest class of her society, Flora 717 is a sanitation bee, only fit to clean her orchard hive. Living to accept, obey and serve, she is prepared to sacrifice everything for her beloved holy mother, the Queen. Yet Flora has talents that are not typical of her kin. And while mutant bees are usually instantly destroyed, Flora is reassigned to feed the newborns, before becoming a forager, collecting pollen on the wing. Then she finds her way into the Queen’s inner sanctum, where she discovers secrets both sublime and ominous. Enemies roam everywhere, from the fearsome fertility police to the high priestesses who jealously guard the Hive Mind. But Flora cannot help but break the most sacred law of all, and her instinct to serve is overshadowed by a desire, as overwhelming as it is forbidden… Laline Paull’s chilling yet ultimately triumphant novel creates a luminous world both alien and uncannily familiar. Thrilling and imaginative, The Bees is the story of a heroine who changes her destiny and her world. (via Goodreads) GoodreadsAmazon   Laline Paull is…

Let’s Get Lost
Book Review / August 5, 2016

Title: Let's Get Lost Author: Adi Alsaid Genre: Young Adult Publisher: Harlequin Teen Release Date: July 29th, 2014 Format: eBook Pages: 304 Source: Library Four teens across the country have only one thing in common: a girl named Leila. She crashes into their lives in her absurdly red car at the moment they need someone the most. Hudson, Bree, Elliot and Sonia find a friend in Leila. And when Leila leaves them, their lives are forever changed. But it is during Leila’s own 4,268-mile journey that she discovers the most important truth—sometimes, what you need most is right where you started. And maybe the only way to find what you’re looking for is to get lost along the way. (via Goodreads) GoodreadsAmazon   One summer, a teenaged girl (known in the world of TV Troupes as the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, or MPDG) goes on a long-way-around road trip to see the Northern Lights in Alaska. On the way, she runs into four emotionally stunted teens and the MPDG helps them open up, experience antics, and truly experience life! Road trips, teenage epiphanies, and romance. Yup. Let’s Get Lost is definitely not my cuppa. It was time to let go of…

Blood Bound
Book Review / March 29, 2016

Title: Blood Bound Series: Mercy Thompson, #2 Author: Patricia Briggs Genre: Urban Fantasy Publisher: Ace Release Date: January 20th, 2007 Format: eBook Pages: 306 Source: Owned Under the rule of science, there are no witch burnings allowed, no water trials or public lynchings. In return, the average law-abiding, solid citizen has little to worry about from the things that go bump in the night. Sometimes I wish I was an average citizen… Mechanic Mercy Thompson has friends in low places-and in dark ones. And now she owes one of them a favor. Since she can shapeshift at will, she agrees to act as some extra muscle when her vampire friend Stefan goes to deliver a message to another of his kind. But this new vampire is hardly ordinary-and neither is the demon inside of him. (via Goodreads) GoodreadsAmazon   Like Moon Called, the second Mercy Thompson novel, Blood Bound is establishing the series as a strong urban fantasy meets mystery series. I find these books very similar to the Sookie Stackhouse books I’ve read before (and probably a dozen other series I haven’t read yet, in all honesty…). If you are looking for a kick-ass strong female protagonist who deals…

The Darkest Minds
Book Review / February 8, 2016

Title: The Darkest Minds Series: The Darkest Minds, #1 Author: Alexandra Bracken Genre: Dystopian Lit Publisher: Disney Hyperian Release Date: December 18th, 2012 Format: Hardback Pages: 488 Source: Library When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control. Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her-East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other…

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