Source: Simon & Schuster Canada

#BookReview The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel @kristinharmel @GalleryBooks @SimonSchusterCA #TheBookofLostNames

#BookReview The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel @kristinharmel @GalleryBooks @SimonSchusterCA #TheBookofLostNames Title: The Book of Lost Names

Author: Kristin Harmel

Published by: Gallery Books on Jul. 21, 2020

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 400

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Simon & Schuster Canada, NetGalley

Book Rating: 9/10

Inspired by an astonishing true story from World War II, a young woman with a talent for forgery helps hundreds of Jewish children flee the Nazis in this unforgettable historical novel from the international bestselling author of the “epic and heart-wrenching World War II tale” (Alyson Noel, #1 New York Times bestselling author) The Winemaker’s Wife.

Eva Traube Abrams, a semi-retired librarian in Florida, is shelving books one morning when her eyes lock on a photograph in a magazine lying open nearby. She freezes; it’s an image of a book she hasn’t seen in sixty-five years—a book she recognizes as The Book of Lost Names.

The accompanying article discusses the looting of libraries by the Nazis across Europe during World War II—an experience Eva remembers well—and the search to reunite people with the texts taken from them so long ago. The book in the photograph, an eighteenth-century religious text thought to have been taken from France in the waning days of the war, is one of the most fascinating cases. Now housed in Berlin’s Zentral- und Landesbibliothek library, it appears to contain some sort of code, but researchers don’t know where it came from—or what the code means. Only Eva holds the answer—but will she have the strength to revisit old memories and help reunite those lost during the war?

As a graduate student in 1942, Eva was forced to flee Paris after the arrest of her father, a Polish Jew. Finding refuge in a small mountain town in the Free Zone, she begins forging identity documents for Jewish children fleeing to neutral Switzerland. But erasing people comes with a price, and along with a mysterious, handsome forger named Rémy, Eva decides she must find a way to preserve the real names of the children who are too young to remember who they really are. The records they keep in The Book of Lost Names will become even more vital when the resistance cell they work for is betrayed and Rémy disappears.

An engaging and evocative novel reminiscent of The Lost Girls of Paris and The Alice Network, The Book of Lost Names is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of bravery and love in the face of evil.


Review:

Fascinating, heartwrenching, and exceptionally absorbing!

The Book of Lost Names is an evocative, beautifully written, touching tale set in France during WWII, as well present day, that takes you into the life of Eva Traube, a young Jewish woman who spent the majority of the war, to the detriment of herself and those she loved, using her artistic talents to help save as many lives as possible.

The prose is atmospheric, authentic, and insightful. The characters are vulnerable, brave, and strong. And the plot is a poignant tale of life, loss, love, deception, perseverance, survival, betrayal, sacrifice, courage, selflessness, the unimaginable horrors of war, and the important role of the Resistance in transporting people from the free zone in France to the safety of Switzerland.

Overall, The Book of Lost Names is a thought-provoking, immersive, moving tale by Harmel that does an incredible job of reminding us that millions of lives were lost, numerous aliases were given, but real names and true identities should never be forgotten. 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

              

 

 

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Kristin Harmel

Kristin Harmel is the international bestselling author of THE ROOM ON RUE AMELIE, THE SWEETNESS OF FORGETTING, THE LIFE INTENDED, WHEN WE MEET AGAIN, and several other novels. Her latest, THE WINEMAKER'S WIFE, is coming in August 2019 from Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster. A former reporter for PEOPLE magazine, Kristin has also freelanced for many other publications, including American Baby, Men’s Health, Glamour, Woman’s Day, Travel + Leisure, and more.

Kristin grew up in Peabody, Mass.; Worthington, Ohio; and St. Petersburg, Fla., and she graduated with a degree in journalism (with a minor in Spanish) from the University of Florida. After spending time living in Paris, she now lives in Orlando, Fla., with her husband and young son.

Photograph by Phil Art Studio, Reims, France.

#BookReview Donna Has Left the Building by Susan Jane Gilman @SusanJGilman @GrandCentralPub

#BookReview Donna Has Left the Building by Susan Jane Gilman @SusanJGilman @GrandCentralPub Title: Donna Has Left the Building

Author: Susan Jane Gilman

Published by: Grand Central Publishing on Jun. 23, 2020

Genres: General Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 432

Format: Paperback

Source: Grand Central Publishing

Book Rating: 7.5/10

From the beloved New York Times bestselling author of Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress comes a hilarious, timely, and big-hearted novel about rebuilding life in the face of disaster.
 
Forty-five-year-old Donna Koczynski is an ex-punk rocker, a recovering alcoholic, and the mother of two teenagers whose suburban existence detonates when she comes home early from a sales conference in Las Vegas to the surprise of a lifetime. As her world implodes, she sets off on an epic road trip to reclaim everything she believes she’s sacrificed since her wild youth: Great friendship, passionate love, and her art. But as she careens across the U.S. from Detroit to New York to Memphis to Nashville, nothing turns out as she imagines. Ultimately, she finds herself resurrected on the other side of the globe, on a remote island embroiled in a crisis far bigger than her own.
 
Irresistibly funny, whip-smart, and surprisingly moving, Donna Has Left the Building spins an unforgettable tale about what it means to be brave — and to truly love — in a tumultuous world.

Review:

Direct, humorous, and edgy!

Donna Has Left the Building is a gritty, honest, bawdy novel that takes us into the life of Donna Koczynski, a middle-aged, married, recovering alcoholic, mother of two who embarks on a spontaneous, somewhat destructive road trip after returning home early from a conference to find her husband in a compromising position with a dominatrix.

The prose is witty and perceptive. The characters are unhappy, confused, and disappointed. And the plot is a reflective, brash, reality check about marriage, friendship, family, first loves, missed opportunities, regrets, mistakes, poor choices, bad decisions, and what’s truly important.

Overall, Donna Has Left the Building is a rollicking, bold, candid tale by Gilman that delves into all the messiness of life and highlights just how quickly life can spin out of control. It’s not for everyone though, as some readers would definitely find it a little too offensive and crude.

 

This novel is available in paperback now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

           

 

 

Thank you to Grand Central Publishing for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Susan Jane Gilman

Susan Jane Gilman is the bestselling author of the nonfiction books Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress, Kiss My Tiara, and Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven as well as the novels, The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street and the forthcoming Donna Has Left the Building. She has provided commentary for NPR, hosted a literary radio show, and written for the New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Real Simple, and Ms., among many others. She has won several literary awards, and her books have been published in a dozen languages. She teaches writing and speaks to audiences worldwide.

Photograph by Guillaume Megevand.

#BookReview The Forgotten Home Child by Genevieve Graham @GenGrahamAuthor @SimonSchusterCA #britishhomechildren #canadianhistory

#BookReview The Forgotten Home Child by Genevieve Graham @GenGrahamAuthor @SimonSchusterCA #britishhomechildren #canadianhistory Title: The Forgotten Home Child

Author: Genevieve Graham

Published by: Simon & Schuster Canada on Mar. 3, 2020

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 384

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: Simon & Schuster Canada

Book Rating: 10/10

The Home for Unwanted Girls meets Orphan Train in this unforgettable novel about a young girl caught in a scheme to rid England’s streets of destitute children, and the lengths she will go to find her way home—based on the true story of the British Home Children.

2018

At ninety-seven years old, Winnifred Ellis knows she doesn’t have much time left, and it is almost a relief to realize that once she is gone, the truth about her shameful past will die with her. But when her great-grandson Jamie, the spitting image of her dear late husband, asks about his family tree, Winnifred can’t lie any longer, even if it means breaking a promise she made so long ago…

1936

Fifteen-year-old Winny has never known a real home. After running away from an abusive stepfather, she falls in with Mary, Jack, and their ragtag group of friends roaming the streets of Liverpool. When the children are caught stealing food, Winny and Mary are left in Dr. Barnardo’s Barkingside Home for Girls, a local home for orphans and forgotten children found in the city’s slums. At Barkingside, Winny learns she will soon join other boys and girls in a faraway place called Canada, where families and better lives await them.

But Winny’s hopes are dashed when she is separated from her friends and sent to live with a family that has no use for another daughter. Instead, they have paid for an indentured servant to work on their farm. Faced with this harsh new reality, Winny clings to the belief that she will someday find her friends again.

Inspired by true events, The Forgotten Home Child is a moving and heartbreaking novel about place, belonging, and family—the one we make for ourselves and its enduring power to draw us home.


Review:

Thought-provoking, heart-wrenching, and significant!

The Forgotten Home Child is a powerful, impactful tale that sweeps you away to the mid-1930s and into the lives of the British children who through the Dr. Barnardo’s homes were sent from England to Canada with the promise of a better life, which in reality was more likely to include forced labour, abuse, starvation, and violence.

The prose is immersive and heartfelt. The characters are vulnerable, scarred, and determined. And the plot is an authentic, pensive tale of friendship, heartbreak, loss, love, hardship, self-discovery, hope, courage, and survival.

Overall, The Forgotten Home Child is a beautiful blend of historical facts, alluring fiction, and palpable emotion that transports you to another time and place and immerses you so thoroughly into the personalities, feelings, and lives of the characters you never want it to end. It is a nostalgic, fascinating, affecting tale that highlights an important aspect of Canadian history that is unfortunately often unknown, forgotten or overlooked.

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                

 

 

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada & Genevieve Graham for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Genevieve Graham

Genevieve Graham is the bestselling author of Tides of Honour, Promises to Keep, and Come from Away. She is passionate about breathing life back into Canadian history through tales of love and adventure. She lives near Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Photograph (c) Janice Bray

 

#BookReview Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon @smenonbooks @simonkids @SimonSchusterCA

#BookReview Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon @smenonbooks @simonkids @SimonSchusterCA Title: Of Curses and Kisses

Author: Sandhya Menon

Series: St. Rosetta's Academy #1

Published by: Simon Pulse on Feb. 18, 2019

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Pages: 384

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: Simon & Schuster Canada

Book Rating: 8.5/10

From the New York Times bestselling author of When Dimple Met Rishi comes the first novel in a brand-new series set at an elite international boarding school, that’s a contemporary spin on Beauty and the Beast.

Will the princess save the beast?

For Princess Jaya Rao, nothing is more important than family. When the loathsome Emerson clan steps up their centuries-old feud to target Jaya’s little sister, nothing will keep Jaya from exacting her revenge. Then Jaya finds out she’ll be attending the same elite boarding school as Grey Emerson, and it feels like the opportunity of a lifetime. She knows what she must do: Make Grey fall in love with her and break his heart. But much to Jaya’s annoyance, Grey’s brooding demeanor and lupine blue eyes have drawn her in. There’s simply no way she and her sworn enemy could find their fairy-tale ending…right?

His Lordship Grey Emerson is a misanthrope. Thanks to an ancient curse by a Rao matriarch, Grey knows he’s doomed once he turns eighteen. Sequestered away in the mountains at St. Rosetta’s International Academy, he’s lived an isolated existence—until Jaya Rao bursts into his life, but he can’t shake the feeling that she’s hiding something. Something that might just have to do with the rose-shaped ruby pendant around her neck…

As the stars conspire to keep them apart, Jaya and Grey grapple with questions of love, loyalty, and whether it’s possible to write your own happy ending.


Review:

Fresh, uplifting, and magical!

Of Curses and Kisses is an engaging, heartwarming tale that transports you to the international boarding school, St. Rosetta’s Academy in Aspen, Colorado and into the lives of Princess Jaya Rao, a young, Indian senior determined to seek revenge on the Emmerson heir who seems to constantly wreak havoc on her family, and Emmerson Grey, a brooding, reclusive, young man who lives his days under the shadow of a curse placed on his family generations previously.

The writing is light and creative. The characters are diverse, loyal, supportive, and endearing. And the plot told from differing perspectives is a unique, uplifting, coming-of-age tale full of familial responsibility, teenage drama, dreams, goals, traditions, curses, friendship, and first love.

Overall, Of Curses and Kisses is an enjoyable, entertaining, modern retelling of the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast that’s a promising start to a new series by Menon with its amusing characters, heartfelt moments, imaginative storyline, and happy-ever-after ending.

 

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

            

 

 

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Sandhya Menon

Sandhya Menon is the New York Times bestselling author of several novels with lots of kissing, girl power, and swoony boys. Her books have been featured in several cool places, including on The Today Show, Teen Vogue, NPR Book Review, Buzzfeed, and Seventeen. A full-time dog servant and part-time writer, she makes her home in the foggy mountains of Colorado.

Photograph courtesy of Author's Goodreads Page.

#BookReview The Tenant by Katrine Engberg @GalleryBooks @SimonSchusterCA

#BookReview The Tenant by Katrine Engberg @GalleryBooks @SimonSchusterCA Title: The Tenant

Author: Katrine Engberg

Series: Kørner/Werner #1

Published by: Gallery/Scout Press on Jan. 14, 2020

Genres: Mystery/Thriller

Pages: 368

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: Simon & Schuster Canada

Book Rating: 8/10

An electrifying work of literary suspense from international bestselling author Katrine Engberg, this stunning debut introduces two police detectives struggling to solve a shocking murder and stop a killer hell-bent on revenge.

When a young woman is discovered brutally murdered in her own apartment, with an intricate pattern of lines carved into her face, Copenhagen police detectives Jeppe Korner and Anette Werner are assigned to the case. In short order, they establish a link between the victim, Julie Stender, and her landlady, Esther de Laurenti, who’s a bit too fond of drink and the host of raucous dinner parties with her artist friends. Esther also turns out to be a budding novelist—and when Julie turns up as a murder victim in the still-unfinished mystery she’s writing, the link between fiction and real life grows both more urgent and more dangerous.

But Esther’s role in this twisted scenario is not quite as clear as it first seems. Is she the culprit—or just another victim, trapped in a twisted game of vengeance? Anette and Jeppe must dig more deeply into the two women’s pasts to discover the identity of the brutal puppet-master pulling the strings in this electrifying literary thriller.


Review:

Creepy, twisty, and ominous!

The Tenant is the start of a brand-new series by Engberg that sweeps you away to Copenhagen, Denmark where the prickly detective duo Kørner and Werner find themselves investigating a new complicated case involving a murder that seems to be plucked right off the pages of the landlord’s most recent manuscript, and a mutilated murder victim with a past full of secrets.

The prose is cunning and intense. The characters are secretive, flawed, and realistic. And the plot is a fast-paced, gritty tale full of twists, turns, intrigue, deception, revenge, suspicious personalities, terror, and murder.

Overall, The Tenant is a tight, sinister, intricate tale by Engberg that’s not only a wonderful debut but an encouraging kickoff to the Kørner/Werner series with its well-drawn, quirky characters and darkly creative storylines.

 

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

           

 

 

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Katrine Engberg

A former dancer and choreographer with a background in television and theater, Katrine Engberg has launched a groundbreaking career as a novelist with the publication of The Tenant. She is now one of the most widely read and beloved crime authors in Denmark. The Tenant is her debut novel and the start of a series hailed for its artful originality and beautiful prose.

Photograph by Les Kaner.

#BookReview Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner @jenniferweiner @AtriaBooks @SimonSchusterCA

#BookReview Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner @jenniferweiner @AtriaBooks @SimonSchusterCA Title: Mrs. Everything

Author: Jennifer Weiner

Published by: Atria Books on Jun. 11, 2019

Genres: General Fiction, Women's Fiction, Historical Fiction

Pages: 416

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: Simon & Schuster Canada

Book Rating: 8/10

From Jennifer Weiner, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Who Do You Love and In Her Shoes, comes a smart, thoughtful, and timely exploration of two sisters’ lives from the 1950s to the present as they struggle to find their places—and be true to themselves—in a rapidly evolving world. Mrs. Everything is an ambitious, richly textured journey through history—and herstory—as these two sisters navigate a changing America over the course of their lives.


Review:

Raw, timely, and emotional!

Mrs. Everything is a sophisticated, multilayered story that follows two sisters from Detroit, Jo, the smart, sporty one, and Bethie, the beautiful, delicate one, as they struggle to understand, accept, support, unite, and show compassion for each other in a life littered with tragedy, abuse, and weighty expectations.

The writing is honest and impassioned. The characters are genuine, troubled, and sympathetic. And the plot takes us from the 1950s to 2016 and tells the story of two lives filled with loss, love, loneliness, grief, inequity, friction, discontent, insecurity, drugs, sexual awakening and familial drama all played out in a time of considerable social and political upheaval.

Overall, Mrs. Everything is an insightful, moving, at times heartbreaking tale that highlights the power of family and reminds us that everyone who enters our life shapes and defines it, and even though the rights and equalities for women have come so far, in some respects we still have a long way to go.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                      

 

 

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Jennifer Weiner

Jennifer Weiner is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of sixteen books, including Good in Bed, In Her Shoes, and, most recently, Mrs. Everything. A graduate of Princeton University and contributor to the New York Times Opinion section, she lives with her family in Philadelphia.

Photograph courtesy of Author's Goodreads Page.

#BookReview Woman on the Edge by Samantha M. Bailey @sbaileybooks @SimonSchusterCA

#BookReview Woman on the Edge by Samantha M. Bailey @sbaileybooks @SimonSchusterCA Title: Woman on the Edge

Author: Samantha M. Bailey

Published by: Simon & Schuster on Nov. 26, 2019

Genres: Mystery/Thriller

Pages: 272

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: Simon & Schuster Canada

Book Rating: 9/10

A moment on the subway platform changes two women’s lives forever—a debut thriller that will take your breath away.

A total stranger on the subway platform whispers, “Take my baby.”

She places her child in your arms. She says your name.

Then she jumps…

In a split second, Morgan Kincaid’s life changes forever. She’s on her way home from work when a mother begs her to take her baby, then places the infant in her arms. Before Morgan can stop her, the distraught mother jumps in front of an oncoming train.

Morgan has never seen this woman before, and she can’t understand what would cause a person to give away her child and take her own life. She also can’t understand how this woman knew her name.

The police take Morgan in for questioning. She soon learns that the woman who jumped was Nicole Markham, prominent CEO of the athletic brand Breathe. She also learns that no witness can corroborate her version of events, which means she’s just become a murder suspect.

To prove her innocence, Morgan frantically retraces the last days of Nicole’s life. Was Nicole a new mother struggling with paranoia or was she in danger? When strange things start happening to Morgan, she suddenly realizes she might be in danger, too.

Woman on the Edge is a pulse-pounding, propulsive thriller about the lengths to which a woman will go to protect her baby—even if that means sacrificing her own life.


Review:

Feverish, intense, and engrossing!

Woman on the Edge is a well-crafted, gripping novel that takes you into the lives of Nicole Markham, a successful businesswoman who finds herself completely paralysed by fear and anxiety after the birth of her baby girl, Quinn, and Morgan Kincaid, a woman with her own traumatic past whose life is suddenly turned upside down when she finds herself a suspect in a crime she inadvertently becomes entangled in. 

The writing is edgy and crisp. The characters are vulnerable, anxious, and troubled. And the plot told from alternating timelines and perspectives keeps you on the edge of your seat as it immerses you in an ominous tale full of twists, turns, deception, red herrings, secrets, obsession, violence, mayhem, and murder.

Overall, Woman on the Edge is a fast-paced, thrilling, sophisticated tale by Bailey that keeps you enthralled from the very first page and is undoubtedly an exceptionally promising debut.

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

 

 

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Samantha M. Bailey

Samantha M. Bailey is a Toronto-based novelist, freelance editor, and journalist who has written extensively for Now Magazine, Oxford University Press, and many other publications. She is the co-founder of “BookBuzz,” a promotional and interactive author event held in New York City and Toronto. She holds a Master of Education in Applied Linguistics and credits that degree with her writing career because she wrote her first (unpublished) novel after taking a course on imagination. Now her imagination leads her to create dark and twisty stories, and her debut psychological thriller, WOMAN ON THE EDGE, will be published by Simon and Schuster Canada and Headline UK, and translated into seven languages. She loves reading as much as writing, so when not tapping away on her computer, she’s probably curled up with a really good book.

Photograph by Dahlia Katz Photography.

#BookReview The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell @lisajewelluk @AtriaBooks @SimonSchusterCA

#BookReview The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell @lisajewelluk @AtriaBooks @SimonSchusterCA Title: The Family Upstairs

Author: Lisa Jewell

Published by: Atria Books on Nov. 5, 2019

Genres: Mystery/Thriller

Pages: 352

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: Simon & Schuster Canada

Book Rating: 9/10

From the New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone and Watching You comes another page-turning look inside one family’s past as buried secrets threaten to come to light.

Be careful who you let in.

Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.

She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.

Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.


Review:

Creepy, dark, and unsettling!

The Family Upstairs is a well-crafted, gritty novel that takes you into the lives of the Lamb family, specifically Lucy, a mother of two scrounging to make ends meet, Harry, a middle-aged man with a chilling, childhood story to tell, and Libby Jones, a young woman who suddenly finds herself the inheritor of a Chelsea mansion with a wicked past.

The writing is intense and intricate. The characters are troubled, vulnerable, and deceptive. And the plot told from multiple perspectives and alternating between timelines quickly unfolds into a complex story full of mind games, manipulation, obsession, jealousy, abuse, unforeseen twists, well-timed surprises, violence, and pure evil.

Overall, The Family Upstairs is a disturbing, gripping, eerie tale by Jewell that once again highlights that when it comes to writing menacing, intelligent, tortuous, psychological thrillers she’s one of the best.

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

 

 

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Lisa Jewell

Lisa Jewell is the internationally bestselling author of sixteen novels, including the New York Times bestseller Then She Was Gone, as well as I Found You, The Girls in the Garden, and The House We Grew Up In. In total, her novels have sold more than two million copies across the English-speaking world and her work has also been translated into sixteen languages so far. Lisa lives in London with her husband and their two daughters.

Photograph by Andrew Whitton.

#BookReview Right after the Weather by Carol Anshaw @carolanshaw @SimonSchusterCA

#BookReview Right after the Weather by Carol Anshaw @carolanshaw @SimonSchusterCA Title: Right after the Weather

Author: Carol Anshaw

Published by: Atria Books on Oct. 1, 2019

Genres: General Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 288

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: Simon & Schuster Canada

Book Rating: 7/10

The author of the “graceful and compassionate” (People) New York Times bestseller Carry the One presents a new and long-awaited novel exploring what happens when untested people are put to a hard test, and in its aftermath, find themselves in a newly uncertain world.

It’s the fall of 2016. Cate, a set designer in her early forties, lives and works in Chicago’s theater community. She has stayed too long at the fair and knows it’s time to get past her prolonged adolescence and stop taking handouts from her parents. She has a firm plan to get solvent and settled in a serious relationship. She has tentatively started something new even as she’s haunted by an old, going-nowhere affair. Her ex-husband, recently booted from his most recent marriage, is currently camped out in Cate’s spare bedroom, in thrall to online conspiracy theories, and she’s not sure how to help him. Her best friend Neale, a yoga instructor, lives nearby with her son and is Cate’s model for what serious adulthood looks like.

Only a few blocks away, but in a parallel universe we find Nathan and Irene—casual sociopaths, drug addicts, and small-time criminals. Their world and Cate’s intersect the day she comes into Neale’s kitchen to find these strangers assaulting her friend. Forced to take fast, spontaneous action, Cate does something she’s never even considered. She now also knows the violence she is capable of, as does everyone else in her life, and overnight, their world has changed. Anshaw’s flawed, sympathetic, and uncannily familiar characters grapple with their altered relationships and identities against the backdrop of the new Trump presidency and a country waking to a different understanding of itself. Eloquent, moving, and beautifully observed, Right after the Weather is the work of a master of exquisite prose and a wry and compassionate student of the human condition writing at the height of her considerable powers.


Review:

Slow burning, sobering, and forlorn!

Right after the Weather is an affecting, perceptive novel that takes us into the life of Cate, a middle-aged, lesbian, set designer whose life is riddled with disappointment and multiple, complex relationships that are strained and never fully satisfying.

The prose is edgy and raw. The characters are multilayered, frustrated, and dissatisfied. And the somber plot is a reflective tale with a side of violence that’s full of life, loss, infidelity, forbidden love, familial dynamics, friendship, assault, and the instability caused by the 2016 US election.

I have to admit this was a really hard one for me. There is no doubt that Anshaw can write and write beautifully about how hard, gritty, and even depressive life can truly be. And even though I am confident that some readers will absolutely love the tragic gloominess of Right after the Weather, unfortunately for me I couldn’t quite connect with the characters and the story was a little too dispiriting to enjoy it as much as I would have liked.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

 

 

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Carol Anshaw

Carol Anshaw is an American novelist and short story writer. Her books include Carry the One, Lucky in the Corner, Seven Moves and Aquamarine. Her stories have been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories in 1994, 1998, and 2012. She has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts (1992). She has won a National Book Critics Circle Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, an NEA Grant, an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship, a Carl Sandburg Award and Society of Midland Authors Award. Her newest novel, Right after the Weather, is forthcoming in October from Simon & Schuster.

Anshaw is also a painter. She divides her time between Chicago and Amsterdam.

Photography courtesy of Author's Goodreads Page.

#BookReview The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal @esmacneal @SimonSchusterCA

#BookReview The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal @esmacneal @SimonSchusterCA Title: The Doll Factory

Author: Elizabeth Macneal

Published by: Simon & Schuster on Aug. 13, 2019

Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller

Pages: 386

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: Simon & Schuster Canada

Book Rating: 8.5/10

The Doll Factory, the debut novel by Elizabeth Macneal, is an intoxicating story of art, obsession and possession.

London. 1850. The Great Exhibition is being erected in Hyde Park and among the crowd watching the spectacle two people meet. For Iris, an aspiring artist, it is the encounter of a moment – forgotten seconds later, but for Silas, a collector entranced by the strange and beautiful, that meeting marks a new beginning.

When Iris is asked to model for pre-Raphaelite artist Louis Frost, she agrees on the condition that he will also teach her to paint. Suddenly her world begins to expand, to become a place of art and love.

But Silas has only thought of one thing since their meeting, and his obsession is darkening . . .


Review:

Gothic, evocative, and eerie!

The Doll Factory is a riveting, gritty tale set in London in the mid-1800s at a time when the city was bustling, scavenging was prevalent, respectability meant everything, The Great Exhibition was a structural marvel, and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was redefining visual art.

There are three main memorable characters in this novel; Iris Whittle, a young red-headed girl who dreams of becoming an artist and unconsciously catches the eye of many; Silas Reed, a strange fellow with a morbid fascination with taxidermy and a macabre, obsessive nature; and Albie, a young guttersnipe who spends his days traipsing the streets for a shilling and dreaming of a mouth full of pearly whites.

The prose is ominous and rich. The supporting characters are multilayered, flawed, and believable. And the plot is an insightful, compelling tale of familial responsibilities, strength, duty, coming-of-age, art, friendship, passion, desire, obsession, loss, love, survival, and the roles of women in Victorian England.

Overall, The Doll Factory is an intense, creative, menacing read by Macneal that does a beautiful job of interweaving historical facts and compelling fiction into a sinister, suspenseful mystery that is deliciously atmospheric and highly entertaining.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

 

 

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Elizabeth Macneal

Elizabeth Macneal was born in Edinburgh and now lives in East London. She is a writer and potter and works from a small studio at the bottom of her garden. She read English Literature at Oxford University, before working in the City for several years. In 2017, she completed the Creative Writing MA at UEA in 2017 where she was awarded the Malcolm Bradbury scholarship.

The Doll Factory, Elizabeth's debut novel, won the Caledonia Noel Award 2018. It will be published in twenty-eight languages and TV rights have sold to Buccaneer Media.

Photography by Mat Smith.

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