Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Penthouse Man by Kea Noli

Published by: Independent Author International
Pages: 100

I received a an ecopy of this book from the author in trade for an honest review.

I was really hoping to like this more than I did, for me it was not the writing, it was more not being able to connect with any of the characters. I could not connect to the main character and how she was in love with her sister's husband, and the things that she did to her sister with the letter and everything, I just cannot imagine doing that to my own sister, so that is where the disconnect happened.

As far as some of the other characters, the way that they spoke to each other, especially when they were family was just beyond my comprehension! I have not been around a mother and daughter that spoke to each other that way, and I am sure that it happens, not every mother-daughter relationship is perfect, I understand that, but it just did not sit well with me.

This kind of story is just not my cup of tea unfortunately.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Y by Marjorie Celona

Published by: Hamish Hamilton Canada
Pages: 288

This is going to be a hard review for me, I was really excited to win this book, and I had high expectations for it, but for some reason, I could not connect with any of the characters, and I did not enjoy it.  It was not the writing by any means, it was beautiful, I think it was mostly the main character, maybe because I have not been through the same things that she had, and I could not understand where she was coming from.

The story starts off with Shannon being left abandoned at the YMCA doors by her mother Yula. Throughout the book we see her journey through childhood and then in to her teenage years, and how she is bounced around from house to home until she lands at one that finally becomes her home.

In between some of Shannon's chapters we also get to see some of the events leading up to Yula's decision to leave Shannon at the YMCA, I did enjoy that part of the story more than Shannon's story for some reason. Yula definitely did not have it easy, and was without a mother figure in her life at that point herself to help her through the tough decisions.

Shannon does eventually go in search of her biological parents, and it does take her on quite a journey with some new characters. The part of this book that made it a 3 star instead of 2 is the ending, I am so use to authors making it that "happily ever after" endings in fictional novels, that I was very happy to see the "realistic" ending, not a good or bad, just something that you can see happening in real life, it is just the way some things work out sometimes.

I know that I am one of the few that did not give this book a 4 or 5 star rating, but it just was not worth that to me, I did finish it, but I have taken a few days to think about it, and it is just not one of those books that I fell in love with, or could not put down.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

The Cat by Edeet Ravel

Published by: Penguin Canada
Pages: 256

I received a copy of this book as part of the goodreads first reads giveaways.

I was not sure what to expect from this book, it sounded interesting, and a little different from something that I would typically read, and I am glad that I won and had the chance to experience this novel. There is no other way to explain it, you don't read this, it is something that you experience along with the main character Elise, the events, the emotions, it is like reading someones diary, and it is fantastic.  I feel a little odd saying that as this is not a happy story, and these are not good emotions that she is going through, but there is no way not to enjoy this novel, the author brings you right there with Elise and you can't help but feel what she is feeling, and want to somehow help, even though you know it is not real.

Elise lives with her son alone, he is her world, and they are together most of the time as she has the bonus of being able to work from home. They are best friends, and very rarely disagree on anything. I don't remember her in the entire book mentioning her sons name, but she did talk about him, and from what she said, he seemed like an old soul, a very insightful young man, very grown-up for his age. One day tragedy strikes, and he is hit by a car and killed, that happens at the beginning of the novel, and the rest is of Elise trying to cope with her feelings, and life without him.  I cannot begin to imagine how I would feel or deal with the loss of a child, but the way Elise remembers, and her behaviour etc seems very realistic to me. 

The name of the novel comes from the fact that Elise and her son adopted a cat, and after the tragedy that takes place, she wants to make a big decision, however, everything that she wants to do, she can't because of the cat, and she is convinced that she cannot leave Pursie alone as her son will not forgive her. You get to see how she handles this along the way with everything else that she is going through.

I looked up the 7 stages of grief, and by thinking back on the novel, you can see her going through most of these different stages for sure 1) shock and denial 2) pain and guilt 3) anger and bargaining 4) depression, reflection, loneliness. The parts that I didn't really see are 5) the upward turn 6) reconstruction and working through 7) acceptance and hope.  There was maybe little moments, but they did not last long, and even at the end of the novel, I just thought that it was not very realistic as to what her emotions had been all along, and it almost felt like a rushed ending that wanted to be a happy one, but it lost the mark for me on that aspect.

So overall, I would have to give this book a 4/5, it was very close to being a 5/5, however, the ending disappointed me, I was looking for something different, I don't want to say what as it would be a spoiler.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

City of Women by David R. Gillham

Published by: Amy Einhorn Books (G.P. Putnam's Sons a member of Penguin Group USA)
Pages: 385

The quote from this book that really sums it up would have to be "I thank God that the human spirit is not dead." That is what you will truly learn (or perhaps remember would be a better word) from this novel. I have not read a whole lot of novels from the WWII period, but if they are anything like this one, I am going to have to rectify that situation! I did receive a copy of this novel as part of the goodreads first reads program, but it will be one that I purchase my own finished copy of for sure.

It is based on the story of Sigrid, where she is from, where her husband is, what her life is like now that the war has started. It shows how she changes and becomes (sometimes) a person that she is not proud of, however, I think it is realistic in the way that none of us really know how or what we are going to do in the same kind of situation. You know that she misses her husband, and wants him to come home, but sometimes as humans we need an outlet, whether it be a good or bad decision. She gets herself involved with hiding some people from the government, and I think that when this happens, it truly shows the strength of character that she has, and what we are capable of when we let our human compassion take over.

I know that this is a work of fiction, however, I am sure that the situations that happened throughout the novel are ones that happened on a daily basis, in Berlin and beyond. What I probably loved most about this story is that when the story keeps unfolding you really don't know who the "good" person is or who the "bad" person is, and it keeps you guessing right up until the very end. You also see the characters grow and push themselves farther than they thought they could possibly go. I am not sure I could have been as brave and selfless in some of the situations, with the intimidation that they would have endured from government officials.

The author has a true gift for writing emotions that I have not came across in a whole lot of novels, it is brilliant! I could feel myself right there with them, and have all those feels, like anxiousness, happiness, sadness, etc. At some points I felt more than one of those at the same time, I loved it. Also the way that he described what the living conditions were like, with regards to their lodging, as well as what food rations were like, working conditions, and public transportation to even get to/from work. 

It really made me think of my own life, and how privileged we really are for where we are now, the conveniences that we have, the lives that we are able to lead, and we owe some of it to where this and other wars. What I mean is not the war itself, but for all the men and women who were able to hold it together mentally and physically and get themselves through, and to the ones that took the chances on people they did not know, but helped them anyways to get to a safer spot for themselves and their families. 

Needless to say this novel both broke my heart and inspired me at the same time, I could not put it down, and I know that I will read it again and again, this is absolutely a 5/5 for me, and I highly recommend it to everyone! (Maybe not some of the younger crowd as there is some adult material).