4.5 Stars! The first chapter was pretty confusing, but once the backstory was explained I was hooked! The art was beautiful and the story line is pret...more4.5 Stars! The first chapter was pretty confusing, but once the backstory was explained I was hooked! The art was beautiful and the story line is pretty creative! It reminds me of a cross between Quantum Leap and Doctor Who meets Lost in Space....(less)
Unless you’ve been living under a rock your entire life, chances are you are familiar with the legend of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Tabl...moreUnless you’ve been living under a rock your entire life, chances are you are familiar with the legend of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. From television shows (Merlin, Once Upon a Time) and movies (The Sword and the Stone, First Knight), to musicals (Spamalot) and operas (Gawain), the legend of King Arthur has been adapted in countless different ways throughout the ages. The newest addition to this list of retellings is none other than Marie Phillips’s novel The Table of Less Valued Knights! Using her brilliant wit and humour, Phillips has written a clever story that pokes fun at the King Arthur legends and turns them completely on their heads.
The story opens during a feast at Camelot, where King Arthur sits at court surrounded by all of his knights. What few people may know, however, is that along with the Round Table, there is also the Table of Less Valued Knights. Boringly rectangular in shape, those sitting at the Table of Less Valued Knights have been banned by King Arthur from going on quests due to their age, injuries, or foolish mistakes.
While he once sat alongside Lancelot and Galahad, Sir Humphrey du Val is now a less valued knight, and he looks upon the Round Table with envy. Determined to reclaim his place of honour, Sir Humphrey leaves on a quest (without Arthur’s permission) to help a young maiden named Elaine whose fiancee has been kidnapped. The adventure that follows is full of mishaps, magic, and plenty of laughs!
In reading other reviews for The Table of Less Valued Knights I’ve noticed that many people are comparing the book to Monty Python and the Holy Grail meets The Princess Bride, which I wholeheartedly agree with! Like both of these famous movies, Phillip’s parodic writing evokes the same style of humour and light-hearted fun. So many silly and unexpected things occur throughout the story, that I found myself constantly stifling a giggle or two while reading this book on my break at work.
While I expected The Table of Less Valued Knights to make me laugh, what I did not foresee was how invested I would become in the outcome of the characters! From the ill-fated Sir Humphrey trying to regain his place as an honoured knight to his half-giant squire Conrad who wishes to be taken more seriously and Queen Martha of Pruddock who is desperate to escape a dreadful marriage, I just couldn’t get enough! I actually found myself a bit sad once the story was over, because I was hoping to see these characters that I had come to love so much go off on another adventure together!
Overall, The Table of Less Valued Knights was a fabulous and fun read that I couldn’t get enough of! In bringing the world of Camelot to life through the tale of Sir Humphrey and his whimsical companions, Phillips’s has created a legend herself! I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next, and I’ll definitely be making a point of reading her previous novel, Gods Behaving Badly, sometime soon!(less)
4.5 stars! A great concept! Brian k Vaughan's writing is as excellent as always! Wasn't a big fan of the art style at first.... But it slowly grew on...more4.5 stars! A great concept! Brian k Vaughan's writing is as excellent as always! Wasn't a big fan of the art style at first.... But it slowly grew on me after a while(less)
I’m in love. That’s right everyone! I am head over heels, shout it out loud from the roof tops in L-O-V-E! And who is the lucky recipient of my affect...moreI’m in love. That’s right everyone! I am head over heels, shout it out loud from the roof tops in L-O-V-E! And who is the lucky recipient of my affections you may ask? Emma Healey. Emma Wonderful Amazing Healey! And what has Ms. Healey done to win over my heart? Well… She has written probably one of the best books that I have read all year! Elizabeth Is Missing was gripping, heart-wrenching, and had me speeding through the chapters to find out what would happen next. In the words of Deborah Moggach, “I read it at a gulp.”
The novel focuses on the character of Maud, an elderly woman whose mind is quickly deteriorating from Alzheimer’s disease (or at least the reader is led to assume). While Maud’s memory may be failing, there is one thing that she knows for sure, her best friend Elizabeth is missing. Is Elizabeth’s controlling son the reason for this disappearance? Or has Elizabeth simply gone away on vacation? And how do you solve a mystery when you can’t remember the clues?
Trying to piece together what has happened to her friend, Maud remembers a similar case involving the disappearance of her sister more than 60 years ago. While the reader eventually gets some clues as to Elizabeth’s whereabouts, the flashbacks to Maud’s search for her sister in the past will have you on the edge of your seat! The result is a captivating story that reads like Guy Pearce’s Memento meets Miss Marple!
Now I know that some of you may be hesitant at first to pick this book up. I know I was. When I first discovered that the story focused on a narrator with Alzheimer’s, I immediately assumed that it would be depressing and sad (a la Notebook). While Maud’s memory loss plays a huge role in the novel (and you do feel sympathetic for her), the plot is more focused on the mystery and suspense surrounding these two disappearances that have shaken Maud’s world.
To put it quite simply, I was blown away by everything in this book: the characters, the plot, the style of writing….EVERYTHING! Maud’s flawless narration is absolute perfection, and you would never be able to guess that the actual author is really only 30 years old. So for all those reasons above, Emma Healey has my undying devotion as a reader! My only complaint is that I won’t be able to experience this book for the first time again (although I’m sure that I will re-read it at some time in the future). If there is one book that you should read this year, make sure it’s Elizabeth Is Missing!
Ruth Reichl has written a novel that foodies will adore! The story of Delicous follows Billie Breslin, a young woman who has managed to land the job o...moreRuth Reichl has written a novel that foodies will adore! The story of Delicous follows Billie Breslin, a young woman who has managed to land the job of her dreams at an iconic and cherished food magazine. Unfortunately, the magazine closes shortly after she begins working there. While the rest of the staff move on and begin looking for other jobs, Billie stays behind to uphold the “Delicious Guarentee” – a public relations hotline for recipe complaints and inquiries.
While exploring the magazine’s impressive library and catalogue, Billie stumbles upon a hidden room, filled with letters from a young girl named Lulu Swan to legendary chef James Beard during WWII. Determined to uncover the secrets behind these letters, Lulu begins a journey that will lead her not only to a deeper understanding of this young, mysterious girl, but also herself.
As a lover of food, this book was delicious! All of the descriptions of the meals and desserts that Billie tasted had my mouth watering and my stomach grumbling! I probably gained 5 lbs just from reading this story!
Unfortunately, while I loved the food aspects of Delicious, the story itself was a bit slow and not nearly as satisfying. I really enjoyed getting to read Lulu’s letters, but the main plot was lacking flavour. I guess I was expecting a bit more romance, and while there was a cute love plot, there were times where it felt really staged and artificial.
While the plot was lackluster, the characters in Delicious were fabulous! Billie was instantly loveable, and I really enjoyed getting to see how she changed and matured throughout the course of the book. The secondary characters were also fun and enjoyable, and I loved getting to see a snapshot of their individual and quirky personalities. I was impressed with Riechl’s ability to write SO MANY secondary characters in her story, while still managing to make them memorable and unique. I especially adored Sal, the sweet and good humoured deli owner whom Billie eventually goes to work for.
Overall, Delicious was a light and pleasant read, but it failed to sweep me completely off my feet. I would definitely recommend it to food lovers, and those looking for a cute romance to read over the summer months. Although it didn’t WOW me, I would consider reading another book by Reichl if her characters prove to be as charming as the ones in Delicious!
After the first 30 pages of All the Broken Things, I knew that I was reading something special. Moving, tragic, and full of impact, Kuitenbrower’s sto...moreAfter the first 30 pages of All the Broken Things, I knew that I was reading something special. Moving, tragic, and full of impact, Kuitenbrower’s story of 14-year old Bo’s struggle to heal his family and find acceptance was beautiful and heart-breaking. The novel takes place in Toronto in 1983. Despite having lived in Canada for several years now, there are only two things that Bo cares about: fighting, and his little sister Orange. Born severely disfigured as a result of Agent Orange, a herbicide and defoliant used by the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, Orange is the family secret who is kept hidden away. Bo’s mother, Rose, is repulsed by Orange. Unable to come to terms with the fact that Orange was born from her body, Rose is depressed, distant, and unable to find any joy in life.
Bo’s life is completely changed when he is discovered by Gerry, a bear trainer who sees a talent and promise in this tough kid that everyone else seems to ignore. Taking Bo under his wing, Gerry introduces him to the world of traveling fairs and bear wrestling. Giving Bo a bear cub of his own to train, Bo finds his world being opened up to new possibilities. Tragedy strikes, however, when Gerry’s boss, Max, begins dating Bo’s mother. Determined to have Orange in his freak show for the CNE, Max will stop at nothing to get his hands on Bo’s sister. When Bo wakes up to discover both his mother and his sister gone, he sets out to find them, with Bear by his side.
While the description above may make All the Broken Things sound strange and outlandish, the story itself is actually quite stunning. My heart immediately went out to Bo from the very beginning, as he struggled to find himself, and come to terms with his mother’s emotional absence and his sister’s disability. Despite the tragic moments of the novel, beauty can be found in Bo’s journey of self-realization. Through his struggles, Bo manages to find his own path in life, and finally sees his family in a whole new light. The sense of community that builds as the story progresses filled me with hope, and allowed me to feel optimistic about Bo and Orange’s future together.
Amongst this magical tale, Kuitenbrower seamlessly weaves together a number of historical facts that both shocked and amazed me. I was horrified to discover that Agent Orange had been produced in Elmira, Ontario for supply to the U.S. military throughout the Vietnam war. Kuitenbrower skillfully brought the horror of this destructive chemical to life through the character of Orange, whose very name (let alone her appearance), is a constant reminder of it’s presence in the background of the story. The novel’s glimpses of life at the CNE and the world of bear wrestling (which wasn’t outlawed until 1976), was also very fascinating, as I always viewed the use of bears for entertainment as something from the 19th century.
Exploring issues of responsibility, acceptance, heroism, and community, All the Broken Things is a masterful piece of writing that will pull at your heart-strings while also filling you with a sense of wonder and awe. This is a great work of Canadian fiction that deserves more buzz and fanfare than it has been getting. With plenty of topics to discuss, All the Broken Things would certainly make a great choice for book clubs! One thing is for sure, you’re guaranteed to fall in love with Bo and Bear, and will find yourself cheering them on until the very end. Rating: 4.5 Stars(less)
2.5 Stars (rounded up to 3 :P) Sigh. This is the review that I wish I didn’t have to write. After falling head over heels in love with both The Taker a...more2.5 Stars (rounded up to 3 :P) Sigh. This is the review that I wish I didn’t have to write. After falling head over heels in love with both The Taker and The Reckoning by Alma Katsu, I had been waiting on pins and needles for over a year to find out what would happen to Lanny, Adair, and Jonathan in the final book of the trilogy. Unfortunately, The Descent left me disappointed and deflated.
Now to be fair, it’s rare for me to ever be completely satisfied in the final book of any series that I love, but the entire direction and feel of The Descent was so different from the first two books, that it just didn’t seem like it belonged at all. Although there were hints given in The Reckoning that the final book would somehow deal with the underworld, the shift of the book from the human world to that of the gods just felt a little too farfetched to me. I know I’m probably being ridiculous (after all the first two books were about dark magic giving people immortality, so why not throw in some gods as well?), but it just didn’t match the direction that I personally saw the story arch going.
I also found myself conflicted over the ending. Considering how dark and gothic the first two novels in the series were, I found myself surprised by how happily things work out in the end for most of the characters. A happy ending after everything that happened to Adair, Lanny, and Jonathan? As much as I love a happy ending to most of my books, it didn’t seem to completely fit this dark-hearted tale.
Putting the plot aside, however, the thing that disappointed me the most about The Descent was it’s depiction of Adair. Oh Adair! How I loved to hate him! He was one of the most complex and interesting characters I had ever read! Despite being a cruel and murderous villain, I couldn’t help but like him a bit! In The Descent, however, Adair’s character was flat and uninteresting. Torn apart by his love for Lanny, Adair has promised that he would change for her and become a better man. While I admire his dedication to Lanny, I found it impossible to believe that this dark and merciless villain would have a complete personality change in only four short years.
What happened to the Adair who would snap at the slightest provocation? Or the Adair who struck complete terror in the hearts of his followers? Instead, the Adair in The Descent is like a lovesick puppy. I kept waiting for him to snap, or to see a glimpse of the old Adair I had come to know, but besides one instance of rage (in an understandable situation) the villainous Adair fails to make an appearance, and I found myself missing him.
Despite my crushing disappointment in The Descent, my love for the first two books has not diminished in any way. I’ll still continue to recommend this series to my friends and family, and cherish the Adair that I came to love in The Taker and The Reckoning. I’ll just have to imagine my own ending to the story in order to satisfy my picky self!(less)