Yet another book that I heard about on The Next Chapter, Mary Walsh’s debut novel Crying For The Moon was a great recommendation and had me engaged from start to finish. The story follows the first person narration of young Maureen in 1960s Newfoundland. It’s a poignant coming of age story crossed with a low key mystery wherein adult things start happening to the average, non-adult Maureen. She finds herself being forced to grow up sooner than any teenager should. Now, when I say she ‘grows up,’ I don’t mean right away, nor do I mean that she does it with responsibility or grace or confidence or smarts–quite the opposite actually, for the most part. Maureen’s simple, passive, and simultaneously reactive nature is partly what allows herself to become tangled up in these adult situations, and she learns quickly that no one’s going to help her get out of it, except herself.
From the minute I heard about this book on an episode of The Next Chapter CBC podcast, I knew I wanted to read it. Barbara Gowdy’s Little Sister has quite an intriguing premise, not to mention a rather creepy, enticing cover. It takes place in Toronto, Ontario and follows a third-person narrative of Rose Bowan. Rose is in her thirties and owns an old movie theatre with her mother, who is gradually losing herself to dementia. Something strange begins happening to Rose during that summer; every time a thunderstorm occurs in the area, she finds herself losing consciousness and has vivid, realistic encounters whilst inhabiting another woman’s body. Rose sets out to find this other woman to see if she’s real, in hopes that she can come face-to-face with her eventually.
When I was working at Chapters, I kept seeing this book on the shelf in the fiction section, staring out at me for weeks, and finally decided to get it. It follows the story of teenage Linda, living with her parents on a lake in northern Minnesota. On summer, a family with a 4 year old son named Paul move in across the lake, and Linda begins to babysit Paul. Over the course of that summer, “Linda makes a set of choices that reverberate throughout her life.”
From that synopsis, I was prepared for some sort of epic, tragic revelation and subtle but crazy events at every turn. There’s this whole build up to what happens to Paul; you know something bad is going to happen to him (it’s revealed in the first page), but you don’t know what. Then finally when it does happen, I was a bit shocked but it all happened so fast, I expected more to come. And then when it ended later without much else happening, I was just super underwhelmed. It was not what I was expecting; it was subtle to the point of being almost so subtle I missed what the point of it was. Continue reading
You’ll be scared, but you won’t know why – that’s what I kept hearing people say about this book, and they weren’t wrong.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Canadian author Ian Reid follows a first person narrative of a young woman and her boyfriend driving on the road, headed towards the house of the boyfriend’s parents. On this drive, it becomes clear from the first line in the book that the girlfriend is thinking of ending her relationship with the boyfriend. Sounds harmless enough, right? It possibly even evokes expectations of some sort of rom-com or chick-lit plot – but you couldn’t be more wrong. From the first page onwards, things just get exponentially bizarre and creepier, more than you would ever think, and it keeps it up, right until the final page. Continue reading
I read Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham over a month ago, and figured I should probably get around to reviewing it…someday…maybe (cue eye roll).
I first heard about this book when I read Lauren Graham’s memoir Talking As Fast As I Can last November. I had no idea she had written fiction as well, and I really enjoyed her memoir, so I decided to pick this one up.
Someday, Someday Maybe follows a rather cliched sounding story: a young woman, Franny Banks, is pursuing an acting career in New York City while working as a waitress part time – but that’s one of the things I liked about this book. Even though is was a storyline we’ve seen before, it still managed to be unique on its own and even challenged the cliche a little. Continue reading
From my experience of reading The Vanishing by Wendy Webb, I’ve devised this handy list of How Not To Write A Gothic Ghost Story, though it could easily also be known as How Not To Write Any Story.
First, begin with a promising premise: Julia’s life is turned upside down after her husband’s suicide and societal uproar against him conning thousands of people out of their life savings. Alone and estranged from society, Julia hides in her own home when a man shows up on her door step, presenting a solution to her situation. She is whisked away to start a new life out of the public’s eye, working as a companion to a cooky, elderly horror novelist in a haunted mansion – but strange things start happening, and Julia questions why she was really brought to the house. Once you have that, proceed to ruin it by following these crucial steps (WARNING: minor spoilers): Continue reading
I once heard someone describe this book as ‘hipster’ poetry, and I can see why. It discusses a lot of mainstream issues: love, relationships, sex and feminism, but from the author’s personal, sometimes dark experiences. Milk and Honey was written by young Canadian author Rupi Kaur and has been incredibly popular in the book world lately. Kaur, you might recall, is the young woman responsible for the photo essay that explored menstruation taboos. When she shared one of the photos on Instagram, it was deleted, proving the exact point that Kaur was trying to make: “A majority of people, societies, and communities shun this natural process. Some are more comfortable with the pornification of women, the sexualization of women, the violence and degradation of women than this. They cannot be bothered to express their disgust about all that, but will be angered and bothered by this” (Kaur, Instagram post, March 24, 2015).
I fully support what Rupi Kaur stands for and what she’s trying to do with her work, and I think Milk and Honey is very relevant to today’s society for the exact reasons Kaur mentioned above. But is it good poetry?
Since I’m not very familiar with how to analyze or review poetry, I sought out the help of my best friend, Tess Lund, who has a double major in English and Writing. She gave me a little lesson in poetry and after a quick flip through and analysis of the first few poems, she informed me that no, Milk and Honey in her educated opinion, is not the amazing piece of poetic literature everyone seems to think it is. After hearing her reasoning, I have to say I agree.
The Break by Katherena Vermette has been quite popular in the world of books lately. A national bestseller, The Break has received an abundance of literary attention, from being a 2016 Governor General’s Literary Finalist to a 2017 Canada Reads Finalist, and much more in between.
The story centres around an extended family of Indigenous women living in Winnipeg’s North End. The synopsis on the back is as follows: “When Stella, a young Métis mother, looks out her window one evening and spots someone in trouble on the Break — a barren field on an isolated strip of land outside her house — she calls the police to alert them to a possible crime.” From there, The Break delves into several narratives of family, friends, and police, each connected in some way to the crime. Continue reading
This book was a staff pick of the month at the bookstore I work at, and wanting to be more well read and up to date on the latest book buzz, I decided to pick it up – but not just because it was staff pick of the month; I had read the synopsis and it actually sounded quite intriguing. Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller is about a young woman named Flora who returns to her home to look after her father, Gil, after he has a bad fall. Twelve years previously, Flora’s mother, Ingrid, disappeared without a trace and Flora has always wondered what happened to her. Little does she realize, the answers to her questions are buried in the letters Ingrid wrote to her husband Gil. They reveal the truth of their marriage and just before she disappeared, Ingrid hid them in the massive book collection Gil accumulated over the years in the house they shared. Continue reading
I found this book whilst re-shelving books at my place of work and was immediately intrigued by the premise – Leonora, our protagonist, attends a cozy, bachelorette party for her ex-best friend Clare, but the weekend takes a dark turn when two days later Leonora wakes up in the hospital with the knowledge that someone is dead, and she can’t be sure she’s not responsible. The events of the weekend are foggy and in order to find out what has happened, Leonora must “re-visit parts of herself that she would much rather leave buried where they belong: in the past.” The book was written by UK author Ruth Ware in 2015, and because of her latest novel, The Woman in Cabin 10, which was being promoted throughout my workplace, I thought I would read her debut novel In a Dark, Dark Wood and then move on to The Woman in Cabin 10, especially since I thought the premise of Dark Wood actually sounded more intriguing than Cabin 10.