Throwback Thursday: Still Missing (Chevy Stevens) #tbt

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Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme created by book blogger extraordinaire, Renee at It’s Book Talk. She started this weekly feature as a way to highlight old favourites and read books that have already been published.   I have been using this as an excuse to be able to dive into my TBR pile and try and get caught up on all my poor, lost books on my shelves!

Today, I’ll be bringing you Still Missing by Chevy Stevens.

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When I first discovered the work of Chevy Stevens, I was constantly being told by basically everyone that I HAD to read Still Missing (an abduction thriller which happened to be her debut!). The general consensus was that it was her BEST work; needless to say, I was incredibly excited!

The novel opens with Annie O’Sullivan, a real estate agent, as she is abducted during one of her open houses. She spends the next year of her life as the captive of a psychopath in a remote cabin in rural British Columbia. Following the events of her escape, Annie, through sessions with her psychiatrist, reveals her experiences, her struggles and her will to survive.

Initially, I really loved the narrative style. Told through sessions with her therapist, the narrative style is relaxed and raw as Annie struggles with her feelings, her relationships and the memories of what happened to her during her captivity. I felt like this was a really original voice; in fact, I have never read a novel narrated in this manner and that was a welcome change.

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Book Review: A Stranger in the House (Shari Lapena)

Screen Shot 2017-10-27 at 2.46.18 PM.pngLast summer, everyone was reading The Couple Next Door by Canadian author, Shari Lapena. I am all about Canadian authors, so, obviously, I jumped on the bandwagon. I was not incredibly impressed with the debut, but when I found out that Lapena’s sophomore novel had been released, I rushed to the library and put a hold on it. I was intrigued to see what her follow up would be like.

Now, because I am a dingbat, I ended up accidentally putting a hold on the audiobook version of this book. I don’t read (well, I suppose listen?) to a lot of audiobooks but I do find the idea of them intriguing. So, I signed out the audiobook, slid into my car and started listening.

This, I believe, was my first mistake in regards to this book. The audiobook was not a good format for this title.

To start, the voices were driving me crazy. I couldn’t handle the back and forth between the different characters and how the reader continuously tried to change or disguise her voice for different characters. I also felt consistently confused, probably because I had to start and stop this one every time I got in and out of my car. I didn’t feel any of the tension or build up that I was supposed to feel because I had to take myself out of the moment to go into work or into my house. This made me feel like there were a lot of inconsistencies in the text and I wasn’t sure if the characters were unreliable on purpose or if Lapena couldn’t keep her story straight.

After trying for a few weeks, I ended up returning the audiobook, however, I still wanted to know how the novel would end so I ended up purchasing the physical copy.

Overall, it just ended up being okay for me, but I am not sure if it was because of the actual story or because of the mess I created while trying to read it.  Is it worth the read?  Sure.  Would I run out and purchase this book today?  No.

Book Review: Someone You Love Is Gone (Gurjinder Basran) @RandomHouseCA @VikingBooks

Screen Shot 2017-08-29 at 9.55.33 PM.pngI am always looking to discover Canadian novelists to add to my repertoire, so when I discovered Gurjinder Basran and found out her newest novel, Someone You Love Is Gone, was publishing this month (yesterday, in fact!), I added it to the top of my TBR pile.

Initially, I was finding this story downright depressing.   Simran, the lead character and whose narrative voice is most heard throughout the story, has just lost her mother and is still grieving over the disintegration of her marriage and the loss of her child.   As her life is unraveling, she begins to question all sorts of incidents in her child, especially those involving her younger brother, and the past comes flooding back.

Told through alternating time periods, the present (dealing with her mother’s funeral, family relationships and her own grief) and remembering the past (her brother being sent away, talk of arranged marriage and trying to balance a patriarchal culture with what teenaged Simran wants) the author is able to delve into and dissect so many issues within very few pages. Someone You Love Is Gone packed a serious punch!

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Book Review: We All Love the Beautiful Girls (Joanne Proulx) @JoanneVProulx @RandomHouseCA

Screen Shot 2017-08-29 at 9.55.24 PM.pngWe All Love the Beautiful Girls, by Joanne Proulx, is a very different story from what I normally read and what I am attracted to. However, the synopsis intrigued me and, given the fact that she is a Canadian author, I added it to the top of my TBR pile.  I am so glad I did. From Proulx’s strong prose to the different narrative voices that are portrayed, I found myself hanging on to every word.

The novel opens and builds slowly with the introduction of several different characters that all have a point of view within the story. Mia (the family matriarch) Michael (her husband who has just been cheated by his business partner) and Finn (their teenaged son, who is in love with a girl he cannot have). After an evening with a terrible accident and some personal revelations, they find their relationships tested and their boundaries pushed as each character deals with the loss in a different way.

One of the main things that drew me into the story, pretty much immediately, was how real, dark and raw Proulx’s story telling is. There is no sugar coating or dramatic flourish within these pages. There is heartache, there is loss and there is the undeniable feeling that this could potentially happen to anyone.   As their family unit unravels, I felt emotionally compelled to continue reading.   I have read other reviews that state this story is too slow, I, however, felt the complete opposite. I felt like I settled into this story easily and was completely entranced throughout. I couldn’t put it down.

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Book Review: The Party (Robyn Harding) @SimonSchusterCA

The Party

I was hesitant to pick up The Party, by Robyn Harding, based on a number of mediocre reviews I was reading. Well, now that I have finished, it just goes to show you that entertainment truly is in the eye of the reader because I loved this novel.

Jeff and Kim host a sweet sixteen party for their daughter, Hannah, with some rules: no alcohol, no drugs, no boys. However, rules are broken and the party turns tragic. In the aftermath, relationships are tested, secrets are revealed and nothing will be the same.

 

I found this one absolutely unputdownable; I binge read it over the course of a couple of hours. Harding has an uncanny ability to captivate her reader with quick prose and eloquent story telling. I loved the way the book was narrated; quick chapters told through the eyes of alternating characters (both teenaged and adult).
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Book Review: Boundary: The Last Summer (Andree A. Michaud) @biblioasis

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When I first started blogging, I made it a mission to receive a book from Biblioasis, a publishing company in my hometown.   So, when I was approached to read Boundary: The Last Summer by Andree A. Michaud, which is publishing today, I was absolutely thrilled!  Andree A. Michaud is also a Canadian author, making this my Canadian read of the week.

This book was completely atmospheric. Michaud brilliantly captures the time period (1967) and the idyllic lifestyle of a beach town between the border of Canada and the States.   The concept it itself was completely creepy; girls brutally murdered, found in hunting traps. Even that short description alone had my skin crawling.   Told in majority through the eyes of a young girl as she watches the summer town crumble and the police work the case, this one started to remind me a little bit of Jaws. Obviously, there was no man-eating shark wreaking havoc, but the same paranoia and fear littered these pages; a town torn apart, great suspicion, danger looming and absolutely nowhere to turn.

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BOMG Book Review: Company Town (Madeline Ashby) @torbooks

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In the near, but distant future, Hwa is one of the last people in her community without any genetic or bio-engineered enhancements. Starting as a bodyguard in with the United Sex Workers of Canada and moving up the ranks as the personal bodyguard to the child of the wealthiest family around, Hwa is forced to question everything she knows when a series of interconnected murders begin to plague their community. Company Town, by Madeline Ashby, was an interesting read.

As a Canada Reads contender (and a choice for my book club), this novel intrigued me. I had heard so many things about this book, so, even though it was completely outside of my comfort zone, I purchased this book and dove in.

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Book Review: So Much Love (Rebecca Rosenblum) @RebeccaRosenblu @RandomHouseCA

Screen Shot 2017-04-16 at 10.22.33 PM.pngSo Much Love, the debut novel, by Rebecca Rosenblum follows a small town when a young woman (Catherine) vanishes.   As life goes on and people begin to adjust to their lives without her, her outer circle of acquaintances and people closest to her experience devastating loss and incredible resiliency.

This novel was completely unlike anything I have every read; I would categorize this one as a contemporary thriller. Intense subject matter collides with strong prose and character relationships to create an intimate look into one woman’s captivity and all of those left behind.   This is not your fast paced, run of the mill style thriller; instead, Rosenblum creates a slow burn that will have you sucked in.

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Book Review: The Charming Predator (Lee Mackenzie) @RandomHouseCA

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Confession time. I am slightly obsessed with true crime. I often find myself completely absorbed in the newest documentary on Netflix profiling serial killers and crime sprees; then, subsequently go into hour long Wikipedia vortexes as I research for myself!

Needless to say, I was pleased when I was sent a copy of The Charming Predator, the true story of how a woman ended up married to a sociopathic fraud, by Lee Mackenzie.

Mackenzie writes a “to the point” style account of her initial encounters with Kenner Jones, their courtship and the early days of their marriage.  As Mackenzie begins to understand Kenner’s true intentions and is sucked into his fraudulent lifestyle, she must try and combat his lying and manipulative techniques.

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