A quick thanks to Goodreads for the contest, and to Mr. Garrison for the free book and opportunity to take a glimpse into his life.
Having very littleA quick thanks to Goodreads for the contest, and to Mr. Garrison for the free book and opportunity to take a glimpse into his life.
Having very little knowledge and contact with the world of amputees and prosthetics, Kevin Garrison’s book is a simple, yet genuine, introduction into the life of someone who has navigated his way through the process of diagnosis, amputation, and life afterwards. With its friendly and honest narrative, I can easily see why the book is on the recommended reading list of the American Academy of Orthoptists & Prosthetists.
Starting with his childhood and the invasive tumor that was the root cause of his foot being amputated, Garrison gently walks the reader through over a decade his personal life and the various emotional stages he experienced from initial loss to final acceptance. At first I found the language almost too conversational and simplistic until I realized that this casual and open narrative voice was actually the core of the book’s charm. Rather than the clinical fact-focused narrative tone many memoirs seem to take, Garrison manages in a short few pages to make the reader feel as though they are listening to family at the kitchen table. The book deftly demonstrates the struggles for acceptance and normality that an amputee faces, and the important role that family, friends, and a good prosthetist can make. I was likewise impressed with Garrison’s recollection of the many people involved in his story, and his genuine appreciation for their help and guidance.
This was a surprisingly insightful and sincere look at the journey of an amputee and his immersion into the world of prosthetics. ...more
This book was an advanced copy won from a Goodreads Giveaway contest.
This novel takes place on a future earth where human factions have warred their wThis book was an advanced copy won from a Goodreads Giveaway contest.
This novel takes place on a future earth where human factions have warred their way to near extinction, and to save the planet from eminent destruction, a super AI has taken on the role of a planetary overseer to discourage further conflicts. This discouragement coming in the form of nuking major cities of hostile states and taking from every ruler a bloodline child as a “hostage of peace” who will be sacrificed should their nation go to war.
At first it comes across as a kind of hybrid I, Robot and The Hunger Games, but the political tension and fear of the AI's dominance under which the children live makes it a much more unique read than one expects. The current state of the world and the history of its making are well done and the political landscape is intriguing, but left a little untapped. However, the interest stage that is set begins to be slowly tilled under by the lengthy sequences of pedantic compound life for the hostages and their teenage emotional uncertainty. As such, while reading the book I often found myself at times really enjoying it, and at others somewhat baffled and bored by it’s direction.
In fact, goats, vegetables, goats, teenage sexual exploration, vegetables and more goats sums up well over half of the book. An unfortunately inordinate amount of the book is dedicated to the daily lives of the hostages and their menial struggles against the AIs that oversee their activities at the Precepture. While the intention is clearly to show the bonding of the children and the development of the love triangle between the main character, her cell mate, and the new hostage, the shear amount of time dedicated to farm life and soft touching dulls the pace far too often and gives the book the feel as though the brakes were being pumped until it hit 350 pages.
The same on-and-off experience was had of the characters as well. The depth of character that was developed in main heroine Greta was spot on and provided a nice window into her layers of strength and fragility. Likewise, the super AI, Talis, was an enjoyable breath of fresh air, exchanging the typical cold logic and heartless AI super power for a more flippant amoral overseer. The excerpts and quoting from Talis’ biblesque book “Holy Utterances of Talis” sold this nicely as they could have just as easily been written by an omnipotent economist with a sense of humour. Unfortunately, outside of a few key characters, the supporting cast of characters were rather stereotypical and shallow in their roles, despite a great deal of time being spent on them.
Overall The Scorpion Rules had a lot of good ideas and elements going for it including an excellent ending and a few solid core characters, but unfortunately much of the good gets blurred and lost in excessive attention to the children’s lives and activities at the Precepture and the bisexual love triangle of the heroine.
I feel like it’s got the right components to be a solid movie under a good director (and perhaps a little bit of the writing style was a play in this direction), so I’d say if you’re a fan of the genre, it’s worth reading, otherwise it’ll probably be fun 2hr ride at the box office for you in a few years....more
This fun little volume is an absolute treasure. Jim Westergard's marvelously creative engraved portraits of a host of infamous and peculiar people areThis fun little volume is an absolute treasure. Jim Westergard's marvelously creative engraved portraits of a host of infamous and peculiar people are married up beautifully side-by-side with a succinct and amusing account of their respective deeds. From notorious oddball characters such Ned Kelly, Timothy Leary, and Hunter S. Thompson to lesser known figures such as Annie Taylor (first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel and survive) and Carrie Nation (6' 180lb shock troop of the Women's Temperance Movement who would hatchet to pieces saloons for the cause), this book is filled with those who decided to diverge from the norm. This is a book you will read through once immediately and then be going back to for weeks afterwards to indulge in the fine wood engravings and shake your head in bemusement at what kind of folk the world can offer up sometimes.
Having a great fondness for Jim Westergard's work, I was excited to be one of the lucky few to snap up a copy of limited hand-printed edition of Oddballs (of which only 30 were made) that was produced by the Heavenly Monkey in 2011. I am equally excited to now see it come to print under the Porcupine's Quill imprint so that I can finally share it with friends and fellow lovers of the odd. ...more
I received this book free via Goodreads Giveaways. Thanks!
A Bed of Scorpions starts off at a reasonable pace as the details, and some interesting coinI received this book free via Goodreads Giveaways. Thanks!
A Bed of Scorpions starts off at a reasonable pace as the details, and some interesting coincidences, come to light over what was thought to have been a clear cut case of suicide at a friend’s art gallery. However, the story seems to hit a lull now and again as her work-life and office dynamics receive a little more focus than they should have in my opinion. I understand that building character context and settings are important, and certainly elements of the main character’s work experience do come into play, but having multiple pages dedicated to how staff coming back from travel must provide the office with suitable confectionary goods or else face the consequences seemed excessive.
Likewise, I found a little too much page space dedicated to the main character’s inner monologue of thoughts and opinions on a number of topics or encounters. I also found the regular super-hyphenated-stream-of-thought-to-highlight-excitement-confusion-or-a-rambling-opinion-in-the-main-character’s-mind-to-illustrate-a-point-or-personal-view a bit distracting. While these tropes are where much of the books humour is derived from, I guess my cup of tea lies more in witty banter and sharp dialogue for this facet of most mystery novels.
That said, I really liked the cast of characters the author wove into the story, from Samantha’s high-profile lawyer for a mother and overly insightful police officer boyfriend, to her attentive young office assistant and the loveable wise old recluse in the upstairs apartment. While the murder mystery itself was solved in a rather clever fashion, it was the interaction of characters and their various insights into the investigation that drove the book for me.
One aspect that I thought the author nailed, and which I greatly enjoyed, was how Samantha continues to be drawn into the murder investigation through various work/life circles and coincidence (plus a dash of curiosity), but never really becomes the stereotypical focal point of the investigation. In fact, on multiple occasions she tries to distance herself from it as much as possible. Too often a mystery plot has the main character being drawn in a murder investigation in which they solely must don the mantle of super sleuth and solve the case, despite having no real qualifications beyond perhaps some timely esoteric knowledge. While Samantha does indeed have the esoteric knowledge needed to unravel the murder, she uses it to gnaw at the edges in support of the investigation, and more often than not, simply passes it on to those who can action it, leaving the detective work to the police (for the most part). In the instances where she deviates from this, things often go awry, creating a very realistic and believable storyline.
Overall I enjoyed the plot, cast of characters, and means in which the mystery was solved, I just found that the book unfortunately had a rather slow pace and excess introspection for a mystery title. I would put A Bed of Scorpions down as an enjoyable and worthwhile read, but just not the great page-turner I had anticipated. ...more
I won this book through a Goodreads Giveaway contest as was very much impressed with the storyline and writing.
As per the author’s owned admission inI won this book through a Goodreads Giveaway contest as was very much impressed with the storyline and writing.
As per the author’s owned admission in a wonderful section at the back, the story is loosely inspired by the foiled terrorism plot in 2006 in Southern Ontario that came to be known as the “Toronto 18”. In Ausma Zehanat Khan’s story, detectives Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty are drawn into the plot via the murder investigation of a friend of Khattak’s who had been attempting to infiltrate the terrorist cell operating out of a conservative mosque in Toronto. As the two detectives uncover more and more about the cell and its motives, despite being blocked by several governmental powers that fear the terrorist sting will be jeopardized, they are drawn perilously deeper into a plot.
What make this book work so well is how the lead detective, Esa Khattak, is torn between his work and his community. As a practicing Muslim who’s own family has ties to the mosque under investigation, the depth of his character is explored as he balances personal faith and family obligations against his strong morals and ethics while dealing with the pains and hurdles of a being minority in a senior policing position. For Canadians especially, Esa Khattak’s partner Rachel Getty will become immediately endearing as an honest hard-working middle class detective who’s kind heart and keen insights help bring her close to those at the mosque who can help unfold the case. It also doesn’t hurt that she’s a hockey fanatic that plays at an all-star level in her community league.
Finally, the way in which Khan revolves her intricate plot around the traditional poetry and imagery of the Muslim faith (often quoting verse) provides a unique dimension to not just the plot, but the enter atmosphere of the novel.
Overall I found The Language of Secrets a wonderful read with strong characters that you either felt invested in, or could understand where they were coming from. I’d recommend the book to anyone who enjoys the crime fiction genre and will definitely seek out Khan’s first book featuring Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty, The Unquiet Dead. ...more
A fantastic fictionalized account of John Lennon's attempt to step away from the masses and try to find solace in an Irish island he'd purchased yearsA fantastic fictionalized account of John Lennon's attempt to step away from the masses and try to find solace in an Irish island he'd purchased years ago. A deeply introspective novel with smart dialogue and a cast of unique characters. The author's interlude in which he walks the reader through his research findings and own spiritual journey only make the book that much more enriching. A wonderful read that cuts another facet into the story that is Lennon's legacy of genius and sorrow. ...more
A great first novel filled with exciting characters, plots, and puzzles sure to keep a young teenager turning the pages. The alchemy spin to the bookA great first novel filled with exciting characters, plots, and puzzles sure to keep a young teenager turning the pages. The alchemy spin to the book is also quite enjoyable as the main character (an apothecary's apprentice) MacGyvers his way out of a number of tight situations using his wits and his masters sash filled with various tools of the trade. A fun read for sure. Only caveat is that there is a fair amount of (sometimes graphic) violence that might see this book less appropriate for a younger audience. ...more
A great YA story with the expected struggles and relationships that unravels in a rather interesting location, the mining shaft of a resource colony i A great YA story with the expected struggles and relationships that unravels in a rather interesting location, the mining shaft of a resource colony in space. A nice pace to the book with a few interesting twists. Look forward to the sequel....more
Was a pleasantly enjoyable Goodreads Giveaway book that I received a few weeks ago. A fun little tale of a band of animals led by a cuckoo trying to hWas a pleasantly enjoyable Goodreads Giveaway book that I received a few weeks ago. A fun little tale of a band of animals led by a cuckoo trying to help a little elephant escape captivity. Nicely told from the perspective of the Cuckoo (often being related in folk tale form to a myna bird), the story has fun twists and turns and fun pace to it. While the prose is good, the layout and editing could be tightened up a bit to make it all the more enjoyable....more
A fantastic read that changes how one thinks about how future-thinking questions are asked, and how they can be broken down and analysed to more accurA fantastic read that changes how one thinks about how future-thinking questions are asked, and how they can be broken down and analysed to more accurately posit well-grounded predictions. Great real world examples that help the reader better understand the practices and perceptions that set superforecasters apart from general forecasters. One of the best books I've read this year, and plan to revisit again soon....more
Another sound volume in the Essential Canadian Poets Series. The poems selected provide an excellent cross-section of Hines complex and cerebral styleAnother sound volume in the Essential Canadian Poets Series. The poems selected provide an excellent cross-section of Hines complex and cerebral style. A wonderful introduction to one of Canada's finest poets....more
A very enjoyable tome that sheds light on the little known, and often awkward, superheroes from the last 75yrs of comic. Plenty of fun to read throughA very enjoyable tome that sheds light on the little known, and often awkward, superheroes from the last 75yrs of comic. Plenty of fun to read through or randomly dip into each era with great little tongue-in-cheek on-page recaps of each "half-baked" hero's illustrious career. Lots of great reproductions and excerpts of the wonderful art and silly dialogue that often came along with these characters. ...more
A fantastic account of Carl Kiekhaefer's involvement in the Pan American Road Races that took place in the 1950's. Meticulously researched and relyingA fantastic account of Carl Kiekhaefer's involvement in the Pan American Road Races that took place in the 1950's. Meticulously researched and relying on an abundance of historical records and photo (with frequent reference and reproduction of the documents), Pippart succinctly tells the tale of Kiekhaefer's struggles and exploits during his participation in the PARR races. A great historical read for anyone, whether a car enthusiast or not. ...more