Friday, July 31, 2015

Review: The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 352
Received: Received a copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: June 23, 2015
Buy From Chapters.ca / Buy From BookDepository.com

Goodreads Synopsis:

A sweeping and captivating debut novel about a young librarian who is sent a mysterious old book, inscribed with his grandmother's name. What is the book's connection to his family?

Simon Watson, a young librarian, lives alone on the Long Island Sound in his family home, a house perched on the edge of a cliff that is slowly crumbling into the sea. His parents are long dead, his mother having drowned in the water his house overlooks.

One day, Simon receives a mysterious book from an antiquarian bookseller; it has been sent to him because it is inscribed with the name Verona Bonn, Simon's grandmother. Simon must unlock the mysteries of the book, and decode his family history, before fate deals its next deadly hand.

The Book of Speculation is Erika Swyler's gorgeous and moving debut, a wondrous novel about the power of books, family, and magic.

My Review:

I was really interested in this story because of the idea of this mysterious book showing up at Simon's house and revealing to him a new story of his family. Simon is going through a tough time, his parents have passed away and his house is slowly crumbling to the ground, so when he receives a package with a book that has a connection to his family history he begins to look deeper into the past and how it could affect his future.

The idea that a book has such a connection to someone's past is haunting, I enjoyed the historical significance that this mysterious book had on Simon, and it was great to see the back and forth between the two different story lines. As Simon goes through a tough time this book is the one thing that keeps him going. He spends all his time learning more about his family history to try and stop fate from causing more havoc.

What the book contained was not really what I was interested in, it was watching Simon try and change the magical history his family has. I can say that I was captivated at points, but there were times where I felt like the two stories were not completely matching up, and I was having trouble keeping up with how they connected with one another. The side of the story with the circus characters got a little more interesting as the story went on, I just wanted to understand a little more what Simon's story had to do with these people.

Simon really trusted everything this book had and he let it control his life, it causes him to dig deep to find out what happened to the women in his family, I felt that this search almost ruins Simon, it's not helping him solve his problems he has in life, it just keeps him busy and I believe it makes life harder on him.

This is a book that I am back and forth on how I feel about it, on one hand it was a great story about family, but on the other hand I just felt it was missing that little something to really push it over the edge.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Review: Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 352
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through Netgalley

Release Date: May 12, 2015
Buy From Chapters.ca / Buy From BookDepository.com

Goodreads Synopsis:

When Apple was three years old, her mother abandoned her. Now, eleven years later, Apple’s mother suddenly reappears and Apple feels almost whole again. Her mother will do anything to make up for her absence. There’s just one burning question still to be answered: Why did she leave?

But getting to the truth isn’t as easy as Apple hopes—because her mother’s been keeping a secret from her. It’s only when Apple meets someone more lost than she is that she begins to learn the true meaning of family.

From acclaimed author Sarah Crossan comes a stunning new novel—beautifully told through prose and poetry—about betrayal, growing up, and the ultimate path to healing.

My Review:

I am not too sure what I was getting into with this book, it is definitely a book about family and learning about yourself through those around you. The writing of this book is what really kept me going, Sarah Crossan has a way with her words and she really did bring the character of Apple to life and had readers truly feeling her pain.

Apple lost her mother at a very young age and ever since has been wishing for her to come back, she wants her mom to realize what she left behind and regret her decision. When her mother finally comes back for her she wants answers as to why she left so many years ago, but before anything comes about, secrets are revealed that causes Apple to wonder how much her mother really wants her around. The one thing I found is that in the beginning though Apple is a teenager she seems very young still and has a lot of learning about life. Readers can actually see Apple growing more as the book continues on, she not only learns about herself but she learns about those who truly love and care for her.

This book shows readers that there is more to a family than meets the eye, there are so many great people that Apple doesn't really see because she is too busy thinking about herself and what having her mom back means for her. I feel really bad because in ways she hurts others around her without truly seeing what she is doing. I loved seeing Apple finally learn what family is to her and how she falls in love with the unexpected. Apple had a tough time never understanding why her mother didn't want her and she has always been very sheltered because of the mistake her mother made in the past so when she has the chance to do things for herself, she truly gets to learn from the past and make a different future for herself.

Sarah Crossan has given readers a book with so much heart to it that as much as you dislike the characters, especially how Apple treats people sometimes, you will still fall in love with them by the end. These people are flawed but they need to learn and grow up, in many ways even the adults have growing up to do as much as the children in this story. Apple definitely learns that a broken heart takes a lot more to heal than just wishing for someone to be there.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Review: Miss Emily by Nuala O'Conner

Publisher: Penguin Books
Pages: 256
Received: Received a copy from Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: July 14, 2015
Buy From Chapters.ca / Buy From BookDepository.com

Goodreads Synopsis:

Nuala O’Connor’s enchanting American debut novel, Miss Emily, reimagines the private life of Emily Dickinson, one of America’s most beloved poets, through her own voice and through the eyes of her family’s Irish maid.

Eighteen-year-old Ada Concannon has just been hired by the respected but eccentric Dickinson family of Amherst, Massachusetts. Despite their difference in age and the upstairs-downstairs divide, Ada strikes up a deep friendship with Miss Emily, the gifted elder daughter living a spinster’s life at home. But Emily’s passion for words begins to dominate her life. She will wear only white and avoids the world outside the Dickinson homestead. When Ada’s safety and reputation are threatened, however, Emily must face down her own demons in order to help her friend, with shocking consequences.

My Review:

I am happy to have taken part in the blog tour for this amazing book, it is one that is beautifully written and will touch readers. Nuala O'Connor truly brings Emily Dickinson to life on these pages, but I love even more that it is not all about her but the story is also about those people around her. I thought it was interesting how Nuala used the voice of a maid to show a side of Emily.

The small thing that I found hard was how quickly the story would shift perspectives at times, I felt that I was really getting somewhere with one of the characters, the chapter would end and I would be following a bit of a different storyline. Though this got to me at times, I was able to easily forget about it because I was so into the story, the fact that one story would abruptly stop made me want to keep reading to know more about what they were doing. This book was intense at times, and I thought that the relationship between Emily and Ada was such a great way to show Emily's personality and how much she cares about those close to her.

Misss Emily is such an interesting take on Emily Dickinson's private life, especially being such a short book, there is not a lot of time to really bring readers into this idea, but I think Nuala did a great job. After reading this book I can say that I am more interested in studying up more about this poet. I have never been one to really know about poetry and I only know a couple of her poems, but the idea of her being so closed in really makes it hard for people to get to know her. There is a lot that readers will learn about Emily Dickinson as a person and you truly see what lengths she will go to so that she can save someone she loves.

Both the girls in this story have such strong personalities and despite their divide in class, Ada and Emily become fast friends because they are so alike in ways that others can't see. Both of these girls have a lot of hurdles to bear and they help each other, Emily is used to letting her writing take control and Ada comes out of nowhere and slowly brings her out of this shell she has been in for so many years. Honestly, this short little book has a lot to give readers, I actually wish there had been more because I felt that there was more to the story than I got to see.
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