Monday, 17 October 2016

Blog Tour: The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa - Review & Preview Party Event Recap!

The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa

Publishing Date: October 18, 2016
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 368 pages
Historical Fiction

The Premise from the Publisher: "Before everything changed, Hannah Rosenthal lived a charmed life. But now, in 1939, the streets of Berlin are draped with red, white, and black flags; her family’s fine possessions are hauled away; and they are no longer welcome in the places that once felt like home. Hannah and her best friend, Leo Martin, make a pact: come what may, they promise to have a future together. A glimmer of hope appears in the form of the St. Louis, a transatlantic liner that can provide Jews safe passage to Cuba. After a frantic search to obtain visas, the Rosenthals and the Martins depart on the luxurious ship bound for Havana. Life on board the St. Louis is like a surreal holiday for these refugees, with masquerade balls, exquisite meals, and polite, respectful service. But soon ominous rumors from Cuba overshadow the celebratory atmosphere, and the ship that once was their salvation seems likely to become their death sentence. Hannah and Leo must make an impossible choice or risk losing everything that matters. Seven decades later in New York City, on her twelfth birthday, Anna Rosen receives a package from Hannah, a great-aunt she has never met but who raised her deceased father. In an attempt to piece together her father’s mysterious past, Anna and her mother travel to Havana to meet this elderly relative. Hannah tells them of her astonishing journey on the St. Louis and, for the first time, reveals how she and Leo honored the solemn pact they had made. By connecting the pain of the past to the mysteries of the present, Hannah gives her young great-niece a sense of their shared histories, forever intertwining their lives, honoring those they loved and cruelly lost" (Atria Books).

My overall thoughts and review: When I was first pitched this book, it was mentioned to me that if I loved The Nightingale, I would definitely enjoy this. I listened to The Nightingale in audiobook form earlier this year and I absolutely loved it. I don't read historical fiction often, but when I do I really prefer WWII era.I also love when books draw attention to events that are not widely spoken about.. and in this case it was about the MS St. Louis. Ruta Sepetys wrote Salt to the Sea (which I also loved) and it focused on MV Wilhelm Gustloff - another focus on ocean liners/ships. I love the idea of ships to begin with (I have to admit, I've never been on one!) and I just love reading about day to day interactions on-board. As the premise states, the narrative switches from Anna Rosen in present day New York (2014) and Hannah Rosenthal in Berlin in 1939. The reader learns the events of 1939, where Hannah and her family attempt to secure safe passage to Havana. I really enjoyed reading the scenes between Hannah and Leo. Those passages made me especially happy and just seeing how their relationship was, was really heartwarming. In present day, you see how Anna worries for her mother and attempts to learn more about her father. I really empathized with this story line because of how close Anna is with her mother. It reminded me of my relationship with my mother and my aunt. Overall, I can't say much without spoiling the book, but Armando weaves together a wonderful narrative about love, family, friendship and loss, all the while introducing the reader to an event that took place years ago that is only being formally acknowledged in the recent years. The records and documents have been ignored for years in the history of Cuba (classrooms and textbooks) and it was interesting to learn the role that Canada played in it all. After reading this, I definitely want to look further into the history of St. Louis. If you are a fan of The Nightingale, like me, you will definitely enjoy this read. Where The Nightingale highlights sisterly bonds, The German Girl focuses on mother/daughter relationships and friendship.

My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮ (4/5 stars)

Now available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo, Kobo Books, Amazon and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

Preview Party Event Recap
On August 23, 2016, I was lucky enough to attend the Preview Party Event for the book downtown Toronto at Barsa Tabern. My good friend and fellow book blogger, Michele from JustaLilLost was also in attendance with me. When we first entered the venue, we were greeted by the lovely folks from Simon and Schuster, and I immediately recognized Armando from afar because of his red glasses from his twitter profile photo! xD I had only read half of the book by then, but I was really excited to learn about his influences. The party venue was actually decorated with artifacts that Armando collected during his research. There were old photographs, transcripts, magazines and photos blown up as portraits hung around the walls. I was also super excited to see menus from St. Louis. It was amazing what Armando had collected over the years. When we finally got to talk to Armando for a bit, we learned that he had even more at home and the collection on display was only a small faction!

Armando's editor spoke about the book and introduced him and Armando then went on to show us a slideshow of some photos of St. Louis and spoke about his inspiration behind the story. He was always fascinated with the events and wanted to explore that further. He also spoke about how he came to meet Ana Maria Gordon, who was one of the survivors of MS St. Louis, who now lives in Toronto. Ana was the special guest of honor that night and after Armando spoke, she spoke for a little bit as well. She is now 81 years old and she speaks about how it is difficult to recall most of the events because she was so young.. and unlike most people, she was able to live a happy and safe life after the events of World War II. It was so lovely seeing her and Armando together and it was great seeing a book come to life in a sense. I saw that night and I can also see in reading the book, how important the events are to Armando, and how he pays tribute to the victims and survivors of St. Louis. I had a great time at the event and I really hope Armando will do a book tour this fall in Canada. (I definitely am pushing for him to visit my local bookstore!)

(image from Simon & Schuster Canada) 

Be sure to check out the other stops on the blog tour! The other stops feature some amazing content and there is even a giveaway for a finished copy at one of the blogs! :)

Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of the book was sent by Simon and Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review. All opinions of the book are my own. 

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Review: The Littlest Bigfoot by Jennifer Weiner

The Littlest Bigfoot by Jennifer Weiner

Publishing Date: September 13, 2016
Publisher: Aladdin - Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Pages: 304
Middle-Grade Fiction - Ages 8-12

The Premise from the Publisher: "Alice Mayfair, twelve years old, slips through the world unseen and unnoticed. Ignored by her family and shipped off to her eighth boarding school, Alice would like a friend. And when she rescues Millie Maximus from drowning in a lake one day, she finds one. But Millie is a Bigfoot, part of a clan who dwells deep in the woods. Most Bigfoots believe that people—NoFurs, as they call them—are dangerous, yet Millie is fascinated with the No-Fur world. She is convinced that humans will appreciate all the things about her that her Bigfoot tribe does not: her fearless nature, her lovely singing voice, and her desire to be a star. Alice swears to protect Millie’s secret. But a league of Bigfoot hunters is on their trail, led by a lonely kid named Jeremy. And in order to survive, Alice and Millie have to put their trust in each other—and have faith in themselves—above all else" (SS).

My overall thoughts and review: So before I start my review, I have a confession to make. This is my first ever Jennifer Weiner read. *hides* I've been meaning to pick up her books for a while now, I just never got around to it.. but after reading this, that fact will surely change ;) Since I started working in a bookstore, I made it a personal goal of mine to make sure I read more in every section, besides teen fiction, regular fiction and manga. I wanted to introduce more middle-grade and children's books to my repertoire and I have to admit that when I read this premise, and learned that one of the main characters had the same name as my boyfriend, I was pretty excited. Also throw in boarding schools, camping, exploring the unknown.. I was pretty much in. The reader is introduced to three point of views: Alice, Millie and Jeremy. I have to say, I wish there was more "Jeremy" in the book since the book primarily revolved around Alice and Millie, but that's ok because I enjoyed it nonetheless. When you first meet Alice and Millie, they both feel kind of lost, and not really accepted where they are. Alice feels like her family is ignoring her, whereas Millie feels like she is being consumed by her family and can't be her true self. Millie is also a Bigfoot and dreams of joining the No-Fur world. The two of them meet when Alice saves Millie from an accident and they bond immediately. I loved seeing their friendship unfold and seeing Alice finally being accepted and same with Millie. I especially enjoyed how Millie attempted some phrases and quoted the show "Friends" every now and then. This was a really enjoyable middle-grade read and it definitely has me intrigued to read more by Weiner. I also saw that it *might* be a series, which I really hope to be true because I really want the three of them to be really good friends *fingers crossed* - This was a lovely read and I think readers of all ages will surely enjoy it!

My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮ (4/5 stars)

Now available for purchase at:
Chapters/IndigoKobo BooksAmazon and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of the book was sent by Simon and Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review. All opinions of the book are my own. 

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Blog Tour: Speed of Life by J.M. Kelly - Author Guest Post!

Hi everyone! So I have something a bit different for today's post. I was asked to participate in the blog tour for the upcoming release of The Speed of Life by J.M. Kelly and so, for today you will be getting a special author guest post from the author! I will have a review up for this book separately, so be on the look out for that! For now, I hope you enjoy the guest post and be sure to check out the book! ;)

Guest Post – Cars & Research by J. M. Kelly

My father's an automotive mechanic and I grew up around old cars—mostly ones from the thirties that didn't run, but also others that did—like a 1948 Chevy Sedan Delivery. If you don't know what that that looks like, think of a cross between a min-van and a bread truck. The interior was completely torn out except for the driver's seat and a lawn chair on the passenger side. My brother and I rode on the floor in the back cargo area, sitting on blankets and being bounced around (I'm aging myself because no one would let their kids do that now!). The floorboards were so badly corroded that there were rust holes worn through and we could see the street below us as we drove along. We thought it was fun.

When I was in high school, my dad bought my brother a 1969 Mustang fastback, which was the inspiration for Crystal's car in Speed of Life. Like hers, the car was a project car. My brother got a job and funneled his wages and tips into the car while my dad rebuilt and restored it pretty much from the ground up. In the end, he had a really beautiful car—the one Crystal plans to turn hers into eventually.

I personally love the cars from the fifties and a few years ago, I owned a 1959 Studebaker Lark for a while. I'm still a bit heartbroken that we sold it when we moved to Canada, but we didn't have a garage to keep it and leaving it out in the elements is just not something someone who loves cars is willing to do. There's a line in the book where Crystal quotes her boss as saying something like, "We don't own these old cars. We just steward them for a while and then they go on to someone else." I got that from my dad and most of the "old car guys" will tell you the same thing.

The thing about writing books is that they require detail and preferably accuracy, so even with my general automotive knowledge, I had a fair amount of research to do. My father was a great source of information. I would call him up and ask something like, "I need a car repair that isn't too serious, but would cost Crystal around a hundred bucks." He'd immediately start giving me options, "How about a bad battery. She could spend a hundred on a good one. Or—" Then I would say, "That's great. Thanks. I have to go write now."

Those were the easy bits. Google and YouTube were a godsend to me for a lot of the research. I wanted a moment where Crystal's car surges while she's driving it. She had to fix it in the next scene, too. First I Googled "what makes a car's engine surge?" There were several answers, and I chose a dirty throttle valve. Then I went to YouTube and watched a video on how to clean a throttle valve. I did the same thing when she had to fill a dent, and change a tire. 

You can't always count on the internet though, and if you want to be sure you've got it right, that's when your experts come in. Whenever I write a book, I always have a whole slew of experts in various fields willing to help. And I make sure I get them for anything I'm not really familiar with. Sometimes I only need the answer to one simple question. Other times, we communicate over the whole course of the novel, making sure I'm not making changes that are erroneous. Generally, if it's important, I end up having the expert read either the whole book, or at least the scenes that apply to their area of expertise.

In Speed of Life, in addition to my father reading for my car facts, I also had a former high school teacher help me with all the Spanish. She was an ESL teacher, so she was able to help me figure out what words a native Spanish speaker would use when speaking English too. In other books I've written, I've had help with boating, fishing, septic tanks, fiddle playing, musical theatre, sewing, police procedure, film photography, guitar, piano, upright bass, mandolin, and many, many more areas. The internet is a great place to start, but you can't know for sure you've got it right without help from real people who know their stuff. 

Writing is a group effort and you should never shy away from asking for help. It will make your book stronger, and you'll have lots of people to than in the acknowledgements section which will make you look like you have loads of friends!

Thank you so much for this awesome post, J.M! I really enjoyed reading about how researching the old cars was helpful for your book and learning about the writing process! :) 

And that's all. I will update this post when the book review post is live! But in the meantime.. be sure to check out other stops on the blog tour as well!

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Blog Tour: Secrets in the Snow by Michaela MacColl - Review & GIVEAWAY!

Secrets in the Snow: A Novel of Romance & Intrigue by Michaela MacColl

Publishing Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Pages: 262 pages
Historical Fiction

The Premise from the Publisher: "Jane Austen's family is eager to secure her future by marrying her off. But Jane is much more interested in writing her novels, and finds every suitor lacking-until the mysterious Mr. Lefroy arrives. Could he be the one? Before Jane can find out, she must solve a murder, clear her family's name, and face a decision that might cost her true love" (Chronicle Books).

My overall thoughts and review: When I first read the premise for this book, my immediate thought was the 2007 film Becoming Jane, starring Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy. I've read a few historical accounts of Jane Austen's life but something about her relationship with Tom Lefroy has always intrigued me. And here came a book with the promise of looking at that, Jane's relationship with her family with a twist of a mystery.. I was pretty excited. I'm happy to say that this book did not disappoint. From the first page, I was already enjoying myself. I loved all the mini epigraphs before each chapter with a quote from one of Austen's works and I really enjoyed how readable the text was. In some ways, it reminded me a lot of Curtis Sittenfield's Eligible. It wasn't attempting to depict a different narrative, but rather it felt like meeting old friends again in a book. It was fantastic how MacColl wove the story with the history of Jane's family. I really enjoyed the passages between Jane and Eliza, and in some ways it reminded me of reading Austen's Pride and Prejudice, and the relationship between Lizzie and Jane. I don't wish to spoil this book, but I will say the "intrigue" in the title is definitely there with a mystery. I loved how everything unraveled in the end. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was a real delight to read! I highly recommend it to fans of Jane Austen, but also those who are not quite familiar with her history because this book allows you to understand a bit more about one of the greatest literary writers ever. MacColl has also included an author's note (which I really appreciated), about the differences from her book and history & she's included a bibliography (yay!).

My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮ (4/5 stars)

Now available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo, Kobo Books, Amazon and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

The lovely folks at Raincoast Books have offered to send a finished copy of this book to one of my readers. The giveaway will run for one week (Ends October 11/16). All you have to do is comment below saying why you want to win this book. You can earn additional entries by following Raincoast and myself on twitter. The giveaway is for CANADIAN RESIDENTS ONLY (sorry international friends!) Good luck!

Be sure to check out the other stops on the tour and show my fellow book lovers some love!
Disclaimer: A finished copy of this book was sent to me by Raincoast Books for my participation in the blog tour in exchange for an honest review. The giveaway prize is also sponsored by Raincoast Books. All opinions are my own. 

Monday, 19 September 2016

Blog Tour: Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter - Review & Book Excerpt!

Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

Publishing Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Pages: 304
Young Adult Magical Realism/Fantasy

The Premise from the Publisher: "In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they've arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now-but not Vassa's working-class neighborhood. In Vassa's neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling out again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters-and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa's stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission. But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg's help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch's curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won't be playing fair...." (TDA).

My overall thoughts and review: For starters, one thing that I left out in the premise is that the book is based on an old Russian fairy tale/folktale called "Vasillisa The Beautiful" - if you haven't heard of it before, a quick google search gives you the premise, but essentially, it is more along the lines of "Grimm/Anderson" in terms of fairy tales instead of the "Disney" version we are used to. So I think that knowing that it is a modern interpretation on the original tale is important before you plunge into the book. That said, you can easily read it without knowing it, but I found it really helped me understand certain aspects of the book. The book follows Vassa and her wooden doll, Erg, as they go out searching for light bulbs from the terrifying Babs Yagg (Baba Yaga - in the original! I liked that Porter kept all the names close to the original source text) and from there, things get quite complicated. I would characterize this book as magical realism as its finest. I love reading magical realism books and I found that Porter did an amazing job incorporating an old fairy tale into modern day Brooklyn. The story does move quite quickly and sometimes, it can be quite hard to keep up with the weirdness that Vassa encounters, but I think that is what I enjoyed about it so much. I loved how it kind of reminded me of "Alice in Wonderland." I never read the old fairy tale in it's entirety but I knew bits about it and overall, it had that very topsy turvy feel that I enjoy in books. I like when you don't know where the text is going next because then it isn't predictable and that is exactly what Porter delivers. I also really enjoyed the relationship between Erg and Vassa.. so much so that sometimes, I forgot that Erg was a wooden doll in Vassa's pocket. My favorite parts were definitely the dialogue between the two. Overall, I would recommend this book for fans of magical realism who want a good YA read about friendship, family and loss.

My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮ (4/5 stars)

Now available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo, Kobo Books, Amazon and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

And as part of the blog tour, some stops will have an excerpt from the book! I have the prelude to share with you all today. So give it a read! Hopefully along with my review.. that will be enough to nudge you to run out and pick up a copy! ;)

Excerpt from Vassa in the Night: "Prologue" 
When Night looked down, it saw its own eyes staring back at it. Two big black eyes, both full of stars. At first Night ignored them. Probably that strange gaze was its own reflection in a puddle, or maybe in a mirror left shattered in the street. Then it noticed something that made it curious: those eyes were full of stars, but the constellations inside them were unfamiliar. It was like gazing into the sky above another world. 
Night decided to investigate. It reached out tendrils of darkness to examine this odd phenomenon. The eyes nestled, as eyes often will, inside a human face, at the top of a strong man’s body. But how could night— another, different, unimaginable Night— live inside a human being? 
The man waited, unmoving, on a dark field ringed by houses. Between his widened lids stars flurried through expanding black. Planets circulated like blood. Night had never seen anything so much like itself before, and a terrible longing surged through it. Maybe, finally, it had found a companion; maybe it was saved from being forever alone! 
Night drew closer to him, and then closer still. The man waited, as rigid as death. He did not react in the slightest when Night came and perched on his cheekbones to get a better look. It breathed across his lashes and set them trembling. The man did not answer, not even with a blink. When Night shyly kissed him he felt very cold.  
All of that should have been enough to make Night wary. It should have drawn back in alarm, floated safely above the streetlamps. But Night had been lonely for too long, and it forgot all about caution. It did not even notice that the man’s face had peculiar coloring: pearly grayish white from the bottom of the nose down and coal black above. All that interested Night was what it saw inside his eyes. A meteor shot through their depths trailing brilliance after it. Night yearned, more than anything, to follow that streaking light. 
If only it had been honest with itself, it would have admitted that the situation was suspicious. But Night, which hides everything in folds of shadow, is not in the habit of honesty. Since the man did not react to its caresses, it decided to touch him more deeply. A bit nervously, it stroked between his eyelids. His skull seemed to be hollow. He wasn’t breathing. Night prodded again, curling a dark tendril through one empty socket. But the man still didn’t move or even smile. Didn’t he notice that Night was there? Didn’t he realize Night loved him? Having gone already so far, too far, Night lost all restraint and licked and coiled its way into those eyes. It tried to speak. To beg for some reply.
And then the eyelids snapped shut, slicing right though Night’s soft body.

Please be sure to check out the other stops on the blog tour for more content! ;) 

Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of this book was sent to me by Raincoast Books and the excerpt was also sent over to me by Raincoast Books. The excerpt is written by Sarah Porter and comes directly from the published book. All opinions are my own. 

Monday, 12 September 2016

Blog Tour: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova - Review and Author Q&A!

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

Publishing Date: September 6, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Pages: 336 pages
Young Adult Fantasy Adventure

The Premise from the Publisher: "Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives. Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation? and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can't trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin. The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland" (Sourcebooks).

My overall thoughts and review: I've always had a fascination with narratives that include Deathday celebrations/Day of the dead. I'm not completely familiar with all the components of it, but something about the Latin American tradition just immediately draws me in. I was quite curious to see how this story would unravel and let me say now that the premise does not do it justice. I went in expecting this book to be about Alex and Nova, but it was so much more than that. Firstly, Alex's relationship with her family plays a big role in the book. How she interacts with her mother and also her siblings is a big part. You get to see the dynamic within the family and I found myself really empathizing with Alex when she was dealing with her mom. This book reminds you that family is such an important part regardless of what tradition you follow. Also, another character (my favorite character tbh) that is quite important is Rishi! Rishi is Alex's bestfriend and you see in the beginning that Alex really struggles with wanting to tell Rishi about her powers. It is also very hard to be bestfriends with someone and keep such an important part of your life hidden from them. I won't spoil anything but I just loved how everything developed. The fact that friendship and family were the center of the book made my heart very happy. Onto the magic component.. I want to say a bit about this. I don't know much about brujas in general, but I really liked the concept of how magic was used. There is recoil for every time magic is used. For example, when Alex's sister Lula "heals" people, bruises form on Lula. But I really liked how the power comes from "who" they are. Lula is a healer by nature and how she wants to simply do good, and it reflects in her power. Overall, I thought this was a wonderful and fun read about traditions, magic, family, friendship and discovering one self. I would highly recommend it! I mention later (in this post) that this is apparently the first book in the series, and according to goodreads, the series will be called "Brooklyn Brujas" - I'm so excited for this. I really hope to see more of the secondary characters in the next book! I want to see more of Lula & Rose :D

My rating of the book:  (4/5 stars) 

And now it is time for the Author Q&A! For the blog tour, Zoraida has taken the time to answer a question for each blogger! Check it out: 

Author Question and Answer

1. Which character do you relate to most in the book?
I want to say that I relate to Alex Mortiz the most. When I was a kid, I felt just as lost as she does. I wanted to be normal, but didn’t feel that way. I rebelled in different ways than Alex. Instead of sending my family to another dimension, I did it through rock music and dressing in all black and spiked jewelry. Alex does not have an easy life. She has to swallow her emotions. She keeps her truth and fears hidden in a way that isn’t healthy. It gives her anxiety and stress. As her power becomes stronger, and she lets herself be herself, she changes. She becomes more confident. She learns to trust herself. Trusting your own judgement is something that she has to earn. In addition to all of this, I wanted to give Alex a very humble background. I grew up in a single parent home. My mom was a single mother, though I had my uncles and my grandmother to be part of my childhood. I never felt like I was missing anything, but Alex does. Alex and my mother are both hard working people. My mom worked hard. She moved to a country where she didn’t speak the language. She went to night school after working all day so she can  provide better for my brother and me. She’s my inspiration for everything I do and achieve. It takes Alex a big lesson and mistake to appreciate her family, but she gets there.
Thank you so much, Zoraida for answering my question. Alex's relationship with her mother was a storyline that I felt drawn to the most. I believe this is the first book in a new series and I honestly can't wait to pick up what Zoraida writes next! This was such an enjoyable book! I want to thank Zoraida again for answering questions for us bloggers. I also want to thank the lovely friends over at Raincoast for organizing this blog tour. Please be sure to check out the other bloggers on the tour!: 
Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of the book was provided by Raincoast Books for participation in the book tour. All opinions of the book are my own. 

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Blog Tour: Five Roses by Alice Zorn - Review

Five Roses by Alice Zorn

Publishing Date: July 23, 2016
Publisher: Dundurn
Pages: 314
CanLit / Fiction

The Premise from the Publisher: "A sister. A baby. A man who watches from the trees. Fara and her husband buy a house with a disturbing history that reawakens memories of her own family tragedy. Maddy still lives in the house, once a hippie commune, where her daughter was kidnapped twenty-seven years ago. Rose grew up isolated with her mother in the backwoods north of Montreal. Now in the city, she questions the silence and deception that shaped her upbringing. Fara, Maddy, and Rose meet in Montreal’s historic Pointe St-Charles, a rundown neighbourhood on the cusp of gentrification. Against a backdrop of abandonment, loss, and revitalization, the women must confront troubling secrets in order to rebuild their lives.Zorn deftly interweaves the rich yet fragile lives of three very different people into a story of strength and friendship" (Dundurn Press). 

My overall thoughts and review: When I first read the premise of this book, I was instantly interested because of the setting of Montreal. I've been so many times in the past, and it has been a few years since I've visited, but it is definitely one of my favorite cities in Canada. I had quite a nostalgic feeling reading it and when I turned the last page, I instantly starting looking at flights. Zorn describes such a rich setting and it is so accurate to what I experienced in the past. I felt like I was walking through Montreal with the way Zorn wrote about it. I felt like the setting was a character as well alongside the three women. I found it really interesting how Zorn weaves together three narratives: Fara, Maddy, and Rose. It is hard to write from multiple perspectives because sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish between them all, but I found that Zorn offered very distinctive voices for each character. What Zorn delivers is small snippets of their daily life, which I found to be slow in the beginning chapters, but it definitely picked up pace halfway through when the past of each woman is revealed. I will say, I really enjoyed Rose's chapters and how she thought back on her childhood with her Maman and living in the cabin in the woods. Seeing how her childhood kind of shape the way she is and how she interacts with others. I also really liked learning about Fara's past and how she dealt with her sister's tragic passing, especially with buying a house that made her confront her past daily. Overall, I thought that this was a great read that offered a look into how certain events, traumatic experiences, tragedies, shape our identity. The reader will get to see three different perspectives, three different stories and will most likely empathize with a character or two. I thought this tackled themes of family, friendship, loss/grief, and trauma really well. This was my first time reading something by Alice Zorn and I look forward to picking up her other works.

My rating of the book:  (4/5 stars) 

Now available for purchase at:
Dundurn PressChapters/IndigoKobo Books, and Amazon

I want to thank the lovely folks over at Dundurn Press for allowing me to participate in this blog tour! Please be sure to check out the other stops on the tour since all the other stops are some of my favorite book blogs! ;)
July 25: Literary Treats
July 26: Just a Lil Lost
July 27: Padfoots Library

Disclaimer: I received an advanced reader's copy of this book in exchange for participation in the blog tour and an honest review. All opinions are my own.