Marie and Antoinette van Goethem are 2 of 3 sisters who live with their recently-widowed motheThis, and other reviews can be found on Just a Lil' Lost
Marie and Antoinette van Goethem are 2 of 3 sisters who live with their recently-widowed mother in the late 1800s in Paris. Antoinette, the eldest of the sisters, works as an extra in the controversial play L'Assommoir and is adamant to not become a laundress like their absinthe-drunk mother. Marie and Charlotte both begin ballet classes at the Paris Opéra but while Charlotte has the angelic look and determination of a ballerina, it is Marie that captures the attention of many - including Edgar Degas. She begins modelling for the artist where she will then become the model for his famous statuette Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen. The two elder girls soon get wrapped up in a life that seems to be spinning out of control, faced with many crossroads that test their morals and comforts.
I cannot sing enough praise about this book. It has everything that I love in it: Paris, ballet, a crime to solve and it's written by a Canadian author. The Painted Girls is told in alternating points of view, switching back and forth and watching the story unfold from the eyes of Marie and Antoinette. The reader gets a fuller picture of what is going on even if the sisters themselves don't know the whole story.
The narrative was interjected at times with newspaper articles discussing the murders that were taking place in the city, and the "analysis", as it were, of people with certain physical attributes more likely to be tied to criminal behaviour. This was a really interesting subject to broach, and eventually takes on even more relevance, as there is constant mention throughout the book of Charlotte being cute and Marie wasn't. The idea that Buchanan brings forward the correlation between how one looks, their status in society and how their future is to unfold closely linked was a thought provoking aspect to the overall book. The sisters don't want to end up like their mother but, at their lowest points, wonder if they are doomed to the same fate.
The Painted Girls is an amazingly researched coming-of-age story; full of mystery, determination, hope and drama - all set among the late 1800s Parisian ballet. C'est magnifique....more
Jackson Oz, a biologist/blogger, has been warning people for years about the increase iThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil Lost
Jackson Oz, a biologist/blogger, has been warning people for years about the increase in animal attacks on humans. To his dismay, nobody had ever taken him seriously until the attacks become more and more frequent. Animals are behaving out of character, brutally attacking people all over the world and yet Oz still faces a large number of people who think he's a joke. With the help of Chloe, an ecologist he meets in Africa and a handful of other scientists, Oz tries in vain to get a video out into the world with damning evidence of his theory. To what lengths and extremes must the attacks go before Oz successfully captures the attention of the government?
I absolutely devoured this book (no pun intended). What actually initially attracted me to Zoo was the cover, and upon reading the premise, I was even more intrigued. This was a book I could not put down. Patterson poses some really poignant and timely statements and ideas and really makes you think about what would really happen to society if this were to actually come true. Even the varying reactions of everyone and the attempts towards a solution are notable because we as the reader can absolutely see humanity reacting in the way that they do in this book.
Keeping a fast paced narrative, this story just speeds along from one horrific moment to the next, at times making me cringe at the imagery. While I'm not expertly-versed in all the biology and ecology way of things, I felt Zoo was completely plausible and believable. I was completely sold on it. Funny enough, the one thing that originally hooked me was the cover, and in the end, while I do love it, it really doesn't have much to do with the actual story. Sure, the animals have unleashed a global attack, but the story isn't set in Paris at all and actually has very little to do with the it.
Zoo reminded me of Jurassic Park, with the intensity and unpredictability of animals gone wild. If you love this type of edge-of-your-seat read, you'll love Zoo as much as I did!...more
A retired CIA agent is dealing with being home with his family after many bouts of worThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
A retired CIA agent is dealing with being home with his family after many bouts of working abroad in secrecy. He must figure out how to raise his son Noah with Down Syndrome after his wife is suddenly gone and the idea that he might die before his son spurs him into action, making sure Noah will be taken care of. Coupled with the fact that he's trying to lay low with the large sum of money he had siphoned into his own offshore bank account during one of his CIA missions, his paranoia and his need to provide for his family are battling for his attention.
The premise is an interesting one, and that's what made me give it 2 stars rather than just 1. The idea of looking at what home life would be like for someone who's entire professional career was to be covert seemed really interesting to me.
I unfortunately could not get into this book. Full disclosure, I was sent this book by the author quite a while ago and had picked it up numerous times to try and read it, each time losing interest a few pages in. I'm actually not sure if I was sent a finished e-copy or an ARC with the number of spelling & grammatical errors, and repetitive narrative in some spots - as if the author had forgotten he had already said that a few pages earlier. Another point that completely turned me off of the book was the main character & his wife pushing for people to treat their son with respect, and getting the same opportunities that everyone is allowed but then referring to him as "mentally retarded". At first, I thought this might have been from the advanced copy, and hadn't been edited but it's right there in the synopsis as well. I'm sorry, I refuse to accept that a loving father & husband would refer to his son as "retarded" and any intention to show his humanity by looking out for him was overshadowed by that.
I wasn't quite following what was going on for most of the book and it wasn't until about 3/4 in that stuff really happened and caught my interest. I found the storytelling disjointed, and the main character to be not very likable at all. There was so much emphasis on him & his wife's love-making and his inadequacies that I was waiting for something significant to develop from that.
Unfortunately, A Spy at Home wasn't for me even though I did find the CIA/siphoned money plot point substantially more interesting than his day-to-day routines. ...more
Hazel has moved to New York City to work on her thesis when she finds out that she's pThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
Hazel has moved to New York City to work on her thesis when she finds out that she's pregnant with a married man's baby. The affair with her professor/thesis advisor is made more dire when a string of bizarre attacks start happening worldwide. The strange disease seems to be affecting women with blonde hair and turns them into vicious killers. Hazel must struggle to find her way home to Toronto and wrestle with the dilemma of whether to tell the father about her pregnancy.
After having just finished reading James Patterson's Zoo where animals go crazy and attack everyone, I don't know if I was prepared to read a book where blonde women go crazy and attack everyone. Even from the book jacket premise, I wasn't sure what to expect withThe Blondes and Schultz's novel proved to be a mix of heartfelt emotion, traumatic experiences and edge-of-your-seat paranoia. I hadn't realized when I started it that the novel was set in New York City and Toronto, which was a pleasant surprise.
Told in the voice of Hazel speaking to her unborn child, the narrative jumps frequently between the present, recent past and even further past. This was a nice way to break up the story and keep the pace going & discovery of facts timed right but I found it a bit jarring at times, to figure out what point Hazel's life this particular moment was at and how it related to everything else in that moment. I also felt that what Hazel was saying didn't always seem particularly appropriate to be telling her child, unborn or not. Perhaps Hazel doesn't find it bizarre telling her baby about the details of her and the father's relations but I found it a bit disturbing and inappropriate.
While I felt the ending left things a bit unresolved, I enjoyed the overall journey of getting there. Schultz establishes some great characters with very real and believable personalities given the scenarios and circumstances they find themselves in. I also loved that Hazel's thesis and major was on aesthetics, and the idea of aesthetics become such a big factor in the story - the paranoia, judgement and treatment of those with a certain look about them....more
Anna is raising her precocious 8 year old daughter on her own, livThis, and other reviews can be found on Just a Lil Lost
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ (3.5/5 stars)
Anna is raising her precocious 8 year old daughter on her own, living a carefree life when it suddenly gets turned upside down. While at a neighbour’s party, she becomes bewitched with the neighbour’s 20-something year old son. Full of snark and sarcasm, he intimidates her and arouses her at the same time. Caught between her duty as a mother and her want to reclaim her youth, Anna finds herself in an obsessive love affair that threatens to spiral out of control.
The Boy reminded me of Bernhard Schlink’s The Reader and Sarah Tucker’s The Younger Man in that the narrative explored the idea of an older woman with a younger male. This type of story would certainly tread a fine line between intriguing and uncomfortable, but Santoro does a great job at exploring this idea. She doesn’t go into lurid details as this book is not categorized as erotica, but delves more deeply into Anna’s life and mindset at wanting to pursue something so forbidden.
The dynamic between Anna and her young daughter is also an interesting one, and speaks volumes as to her character. The 8 year old is comfortable being mouthy and ordering her mother around, even cooking at times and while Anna is having this affair with the boy, it was an interesting juxtaposition to have the roles seemingly reversed. In a way, the boy forced Anna to take a look at her family life and reevaluate it.
I was initially surprised, yet found I liked the stance that Santoro took, that their affair would not be a secret. Often times, these types of stories with such taboo relationships are told as secret love affairs but the way this story unfolded, it worked really well with the fallout of people knowing about the two of them. At under 200 pages, The Boy is a quick read that successfully manages to give the readers a full picture of Anna and her situation. It is a compelling story about love, family and the consequences of the decisions we make in life....more
Anna, a 30-year-old school teacher, is tired of her stagnating reThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil Lost
Ratings: 4.5 / 5 stars
Anna, a 30-year-old school teacher, is tired of her stagnating relationship and takes on a summer job tutoring T.J., a teenager whose cancer is in remission. T.J.’s family is already at their summer home and he is to fly in days later with Anna when their plane crashes and they struggle to survive on a deserted island. When signs of rescue are non-existent, Anna and T.J. cope with their new island life, attempting to keep their sanity and stay nourished & hydrated. When the days, weeks and months continue to pass, the pair become less teacher and student, when they start seeing each other in a different light.
I absolutely adored this book. Once I finished it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. On the Island has a simple premise but an extremely compelling story. Initially, it was the title and how appropriate it was to my blog name that caught my interest but as soon as I started reading, I was immediately pulled into the narrative. This book could be like what would have happened on Lost if only two of them had survived! Told in alternating point of views, the reader is given both sides of the survival tale as the days go by.
My only main issue with T.J.’s POV was his excessive use of her name. I can’t imagine that if they’re the only two people on the island that he would have used her name as frequently as he did during his chapters. Almost every other sentence out of his mouth began or ended with “Anna”. Honestly, if I was stuck on a deserted island with someone who used my name that often, I’d want to change my name!
Setting that aside, Garvis-Graves lays out a beautiful tale of survival, companionship and the love that can come out of that. She tackles the subject of an older woman with a younger man with a tasteful finesse, and yet not pretending that the taboo isn’t there either. Throughout the entire book, I kept wondering if/when T.J.’s cancer would come back, what would happen if/when they were rescued and so many other variables that were so well established that either outcome could have happened at any moment. On the Island is a must-read for those who love a book with adventure, romance and the will they/won’t they type of chemistry between the characters!...more