Tag: book review

[Review] At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen


I received an ARC of Sara Gruen’s “At the Water’s Edge”. Having read and liked one of her previous novels (“Water for Elephants”) I was looking forward to reading this novel, and I was not disappointed. “At the Water’s Edge” is a great story about a trio; Maddie, her husband Ellis, and their friend Hank, who go hunting for the Loch Ness monster during WWII in an attempt to redeem themselves to their disapproving families. Neither man was able to serve in the war, a point that has not gone unnoticed by society in a time when everyone is expected to do what they can. After a harrowing boat ride to Scotland, they land only to find that their problems have followed them. Things come to a head after attempts to find the monster don’t go as planned and Maddie begins to worry that things are not what they seem. (more…)

[ Review ] The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

girl on the train

“The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins was a good read. Although it’s being compared to another book at the moment (ahem – Gone Girl), I thought that this one was unique. The story is told from the perspective of 3 different women; one alcoholic ex-wife, one currently married woman, and one victim. The timeline jumps around a bit because the victim has to tell her side of the story at the same time the other two are trying to move forward in their lives, so there were a few times I had to go back and look to see what time I was supposed to be in. The characters were complex and not all likable. (more…)

[Review] No Safe House by Linwood Barclay

nosafehouse The first two sentences in the Goodreads summary pretty much sums the plot of No Safe House up nicely. “Seven years ago, Terry Archer and his family experienced a horrific ordeal that nearly cost them their lives. Today, the echoes of that fateful night are still audible.” Although it was the second book with these characters, you really didn’t need to read the first to appreciate the second. The author references what happens in the first book so much so that I kind of feel like I read it. (more…)

The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt


The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt is a complex telling of the life of artist Harriet Burden whose art installations go unnoticed or dismissed throughout her lifetime.  Harriet, herself, goes by “Harry” and never fails to remind everyone that if she was born a man, her art would be appreciated and revered.  Harry, herself, is a loud, brash woman who likes to quote controversial and abstract philosophers at dinner parties and is described at times as being like a larger than life cartoon.


Listen to the Squawking Chicken by Elaine Lui [Review]


Listen to the Squawking Chicken had me Googling the meaning of moles on my face and calling girls “low classy” under my breath.

I don’t read very much biography, but I loved this book. I also don’t know much about Lainey Gossip (my sister saw me reading this book and filled me in) so I was able to read this book without a preconceived notion of who Elaine is.

I devoured the Squawking Chicken over Chinese New Year weekend in equal parts delight, horror and fascination.

Delight, because parts of Elaine’s coming of age story is very funny. Bra shopping with her mother, making friends, bringing home new boyfriends- hilarious. This book explores the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters. It’s clear that Elaine loves and respects her mother and values her advice above all things.

Horror, because I’m a big wimp. As a rule, I try to avoid horror at all costs. From books, to television to haunted houses at Halloween.

The first chapter, “Never Bring Home an Umbrella from the Street,” terrified me. It’s safe to say that this chapter has ended my habit of picking up interesting things from the street. This chapter is full of folklore from China and superstitious things that happened in the Squawking Chicken’s past.  In fact, this whole book is steeped in superstition and stories.

The Squawking Chicken is a devout believer in Feng Shui. When Elaine was younger, she had a mole on her face. Her mother made her remove it because according to Feng Shui someone with a mole in that position would die by age 22 by drowning. Ahh!  (I wish I could tell you that I didn’t research the moles on my face, but I totally did.)

This goes for everything, from the food you eat to buying a house. As Elaine says,

The point is, you just have to believe. That’s it. And if you don’t believe, well, you’ll see. That’s Feng Shui blackmail, the “or else” is always implied. ….The “or else” would hang there, over my head, like an upside-down-jack-in-the-box just waiting to pop out and fuck me up.

Fascination, because the story of the Squawking Chicken is really, really interesting. From her childhood, to her marriage, I remained captivated. The harrowing tale of how she became the squawking chicken will stay with you.

I loved reading about Chinese cultural tidbits. The way money is viewed, certain numbers and traditions were fun to learn about. I related with Elaine’s boe doe, the habit of checking in with her mother. Whatever she’s doing, wherever she’s going, she always checks in with her mother. In this way, I’m like this too.

If you’re a fan of Lainey Gossip, you definitely need to read this book. If you aren’t a fan of Lainey Gossip, by the end of Listen to the Squawking Chicken you are guaranteed to be a fan of Elaine Lui, and her mother too.

Listen to the Squawking Chicken by Elaine Lui
Publisher: Random House
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published: April 1, 2014

Panic by Lauren Oliver


I like that Lauren Oliver can write such drastically different books. First, she had Before I Fall, where the main character is forced to relive the last day of her life several times. Then, her popular Delirum series, where love is a disease with a cure. And now…Panic.

Panic has it all. Heartbreak, suspense, high stakes….and tigers?

Panic is a game played by the graduating senior class. The game is simple. Outlast everyone else and winner takes the pot. The game has high stakes and everyone is on edge. Who will win?

Oliver paints a depressingly bleak canvas of the city of Carp, the small town where the novel is set. Heather lives in a trailer park with her younger sister Lily and their neglectful mother. The other main character, Dodge doesn’t have it much better. He lives in a deprecated apartment building with his mother and his now handicapped sister.

The book creates a very tense, uneasy feeling as you read this book, and I felt really sorry for Heather. Things take a terrible turn for her when she is forced to go on the run with her sister. I started to enjoy the book more when she gets a job caring for animals, and develops a relationship with Anne. As the challenges of Panic grow, Heather also grows as a person.

My favourite character is her best friend Bishop. They have an easy relationship that gave the story some relief…up to a point. Nothing is as easy as it seems, and almost everyone has something to hide. This book is intense, and will take you through some unforeseen twists.

It’s worth saying that this is one of the few books by Lauren Oliver that doesn’t involve a dystopian or fantastical element. It’s pure, gritty, reality.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game; he’s sure of it. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.

Panic by Lauren Oliver
Hardcover, 400 pages
Publisher: Harper Collins
Published: March. 2, 2014
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