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Showing posts from September, 2014

The Scandalous Sisterhood of PrickWillow Place

Reading The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place immediately transported me back into my pre-teen years, reminding me how much I devoured a juicy whodunit book, staying up late into the night to read it, and sneaking a read any opportunity available.
Julie Berry’s The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place has all the ingredients for a good murder mystery (the kind that you’ll see in Murdoch Mysteries or a Sherlock Holmes). And, a lot of that also has to do with the fact that it’s set in 1890 England.
The setting is a finishing school in Ely, Cambridgeshire. The charm of the book lies in Julie Berry’s thorough portrayal of Victorian England: the author has done her research to understand how people lived, worked, shopped, married, gambled, dressed and were buried, during this era. Ironically, poisoning had also become a serious problem in the late Victorian age, in part because life insurance had become more widespread. Researcher James Whorton has called it The Arsenic Centu…

Siege 13

Tamas Dobozy is the son of Hungarian immigrants and his latest book Siege 13 contains a collection of eclectic short stories encompassing a world between war-torn Budapest and modern-day North America. Siege 13 was winner of the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and a finalist in the Governor General’s Literary Awards.
Even with my limited knowledge of history surrounding Budapest, I loved the complexity of the stories surrounding that era. Masterfully told and unsettlingly touching, the collection proves that Tamas Dobozy is indeed at the top of his game with a  non-formulaic storytelling that is refreshing, albeit at times weird, but as a reader every bit of prose imparts a delightful takeaway.
“Whenever Görbe spoke about his work there was a complete absence of the technical or practical aspects of publishing. Just as when he read to my sons, he spoke as if he was a privileged reader rather than the author. He was never sure , he said, where the story was going even as his writin…

The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee

They say (whoever “they” are) that you should enjoy the journey and not race to the destination. And, when you read Barry Jonsberg’s The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee, you just may be a believer.
You would think that a book that follows the letters of the alphabet would be pedantic and forced. But, The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee cannot be categorized as contrived. It follows the story of twelve-year-old Candice Phee, and is hilarious, honest and touching.
Candice Phee is a smart girl who lives in Albright, Queensland, a small town forty-one-and-a-half kilometers from Brisbane. Candice Phee thinks (actually knows) that she’s a bit weird but, she’s okay with it. She’s kinda average height, has blue eyes and freckles. She used to have a sister, but that is now in the past, and she doesn’t like computers or music (things most twelve-year-olds like, she admits). She doesn’t have many friends, apart from Douglas Benson from another dimension.
Candice Phee’s immediate world co…

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

The Bone Clocks is a masterfully crafted novel by internationally revered author David Mitchell. And if you've read any of David Mitchell's work before, you won't be surprised that this new expansive work holds a prominent place on the Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist. Comprising over 600 pages, The Bone Clocks is an ambitious work of artful writing, devoid of a wasted word. And, there's a lot to immerse you David Mitchell's world of The Bone Clocks, including a series of recurring characters who are introduced at various time periods and settings. As a writer, I'd imagine that it is indeed unusual and incredibly difficult to keep all these narratives and stories juggling in one's mind, while still managing to produce a beautiful artistic endeavor. But, remember this is David Mitchell, the guy who wrote Cloud Atlas: it's all in a day's work for the king juggler when it comes to keeping all the multiple stories, characters and genres moving seamlessly i…