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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Author Spotlight: Becky Masterman (Brigid Quinn Series) @mastermanbecky @PenguinCanada

My friends Amy (Novel Gossip) and Chelsea (The Suspense Is Thrilling Me) are awful influences. When I was telling them about my looming TBR pile, they suggested that I add Becky Masterman’s novels to the mix.

I had never heard of this author before and upon my research, I discovered her Brigid Quinn series that features a kick ass, female, ex-FBI agent who holds no prisoners.   This is right up my alley, so, obviously, I threw all my reading plans out the window and read the first three novels in the series.

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Sitting Down with Grace O’Connell: Author of Be Ready for the Lightning @yesgrace @RandomHouseCA

Earlier this month, I read Be Ready for the Lightning by Canadian author, Grace O’Connell.  I was completely blown away by this novel (if you missed it, my review is here).    Today, I have Grace O’Connell on Clues and Reviews answering my questions about the book, the writing process and some serious Canadian business….

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BOMG Book Review: New Boy (Tracy Chevalier) @Tracy_Chevalier @PenguinCanada

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As an English teacher, it is a bit of a no-brainer that one has to learn to like or at least learn to accept Shakespeare.   I have come to love the work of the bard, but some of my teenaged counterparts would disagree with me. It isn’t easy to make a group of teens translate this vernacular.   I was so surprised that I had never heard of the Hogarth Shakespeare series before. Where am I living? Under a rock??

Making Shakespeare more relevant and accessible to today’s society, I was so excited to read New Boy, by Tracy Chevalier, which was a play on the Shakespearean classic, Othello.

I wasn’t sure what to expect going in as I hadn’t read any of the other titles I this series and have read some pretty awful Shakespeare retellings over the year, but, I must say, after finishing this book, I was impressed.
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BOMG Book Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (Gail Honeyman) @GailHoneyman @PenguinCanada

BookScreen Shot 2017-05-10 at 9.07.33 AM.png Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, the debut novel by Gail Honeyman, was something I had decided to read as a break from my regular reading rotation. I wanted something a little lighter and uplifting. Although this novel was not what I was expecting (I didn’t find it to be a “feel good” story at all), I really ended up enjoying the quirky Eleanor Oliphant and was connected to her story.   Coming of age elements, some deeply complex characters and humorous chick lit, were blended to create a story that both entertaining and made me think.

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Book Review: Burntown (Jennifer McMahon) @RandomHouseCA

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I was not quite sure what to expect when I started Burntown by Jennifer McMahon; I had heard notable praise for McMahon’s work but had never read any of her novels before. After reading, I have come to realize that if her other work holds any resemblance to Burntown, then I have been making a serious mistake! This book was captivating, original and had me gripped.

I am not entirely sure how to proceed with my review as this novel blended and bent any resemblance of genre. It had elements of the paranormal and a classic thriller; it also had coming of age elements and reminded me a little bit of post-apocalyptic dystopian novels.   Fantasy mixed with a feel of science fiction; truly, this novel ended up with a little bit for every reader.

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Book Review: The Trophy Child (Paula Daly) @RandomHouseCA

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The Trophy Child, the newest release by Paula Daly, was not your typical mystery story. Part police procedural, part psychological drama and part suspense, I devoured this one in the course of a few sittings.

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BOMG Book Review: The Change Room (Karen Connelly) @RandomHouseCA ‏@karenmconnelly

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I mentioned that I would be incorporating lots of different books in my reviews moving forward and Karen Connelly’s The Change Room was something completely different for me!

A sort of a twist on the “coming of age” story, Eliza, a middle aged, married woman, finds herself in an adulterous affair with a woman (Shar) she meets at the pool.   What starts in the change room soon takes over Eliza’s life as she battles between what she feels is right and what she feels in her heart.

I initially chose this book, not only because I wanted to switch things up, but also because a Canadian author wrote it. I am making a serious effort this year to #readthenorth. So, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I I read this novel easily over the course of a few sittings; I found myself completely engaged in Eliza’s world.

However, this one left me feeling conflicted. I don’t know if I loved this novel or if I hated.

I felt an instant connection to the Eliza character. Something about her was so realistic and she truly was well developed. One thing I liked about her was her banter; she was funny and smart. A few things she said had me smirking with delight. She seemed to be modelled after an “every woman” type of character. She works hard, loves her family but, for whatever reason, finds herself with discontent. For whatever reason, Eliza kept reminding me of the protagonist from Kate Chopin’s The Awakening.

I struggled in the middle of the novel because, as much as I enjoyed the character development of Eliza, I didn’t find myself interested in Shar. Not even a little. I’m not sure if I was supposed to be shocked by her sexual experience and feel as if she was an edgy, breath of fresh air into Eliza’s life. But I didn’t. In fact, she kind of bored me.

By the end, I was even more conflicted as I loved the general storyline but hated the abrupt ending.

Regardless of my mixed feels regarding the actual content of the book, I must applaud Connelly for her writing style. As mentioned, she kept me engaged and wondering how this would play out. I also must applaud her on tackling such subject matter; this novel does portray sexually explicit material but I never found it to be “in your face” or too much. Instead, it was very authentic.

I also felt like the story screamed a prominent and glaring message about the fluidity of sexuality.  Eliza does not identify as straight or gay or bisexual. She identifies as Eliza. I felt like this message was very important, especially in the society that we currently live in.

Overall, I enjoyed this one as a break from my regular reading and would not hesitate to read another novel by this author.  I would recommend it!