Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Review: The Italian Teacher

The Italian Teacher The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This brilliant story follows the life of Pinch, son of a famous American painter, Bear Bavinsky, and an unknown Canadian pottery artist, Natalie. Pinch's parents met in Italy while Natalie was modeling for Bear. Bear is bigger than life, quite loud and makes promises that he does not keep. He is also a cheat and eventually, Natalie asks him to leave. This leaves Pinch without a father. Pinch worships his father and finds himself desperately needing to get his approval. With Natalie’s encouragements, Pinch starts painting using his father's studio. While visiting his father and new family in the US, Pinch shows one of his paintings to Bear. His hopes and dreams are shattered when Bear declares that Pinch's painting is terrible and that he will never be an artist.

Years after years, Pinch struggles through mediocre jobs and relationships. He constantly tries to get closer to his father, but only finds disappointment. To help one of his half-siblings, Pinch does the unthinkable and finds himself in a complicated web of lies. This act of betrayal leads to more lies and Pinch is unable to stop the wheel from turning towards a potential disaster.

Tom Rachman's writing is beautiful and sincere. His characters are unique and complex. The story is touching and offers a full spread of emotions which brings the reader to become an accomplice to the plot. I fully recommend this book.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Review: An Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim

An Ocean of MinutesAn Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I won this ARC of An Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim in a FirstRead contest.

The description of the book sounded interesting and intriguing. The plot was good, but the delivery was just not refined enough for me to enjoy it. It took me a long time to get into the story and once I was in it, it fell short. The relationship between Polly and Frank was disturbing. Personally, I would have ended such a needy relationship, but this is not me... It is fiction and anything can happen in a book. It just makes it hard for the reader when he or she cannot relate to the story. I read it all none-the-less and I hope that this will not be the last book from this new author. She has potential and can only improve as she continues writing.

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Friday, May 11, 2018

Review: The Home for Unwanted Girls

The Home for Unwanted Girls The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is based on the Duplessis Orphans, a truly dark period in the province of Québec, Canada. Approximately 20,000 orphaned children were falsely certified as mentally ill by the government of the province of Québec and confined to psychiatric institutions in the 50's and early 60's. Maurice Duplessis, premier of Québec at the time, signed an order-in-council, changing orphanages into hospitals in order to provide them with federal subsidies. The federal government contributions were only $1.25 a day for orphans, but $2.75 a day for psychiatric patients, offering a strong financial incentive for reclassification. Doctors falsely diagnosed the children with various mental illnesses while ignoring their actual mental state. Children in Québec orphanages were therefore declared "mentally deficient". Schooling stopped, and the orphans became inmates in a mental institution where they were sexually, physically, and mentally abused by lay monitors and nuns. Seven religious orders participated: the Sisters of Providence, the Sisters of Mercy, the Gray Nuns of Montreal, the Sisters of Charity of Quebec, the Little Franciscans of Mary, the Brothers of Notre-Dame-de-la-Misericorde, and the Brothers of Charity. (Adapted from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dupless...)

The Home for Unwanted Girls tells the story of Elodie who ended up in an orphanage after her fifteen-year-old mother, Maggie, was forced to give her for adoption by her family. Due to health issues, Elodie was never adopted and suffered the fate of many orphans during the Duplessis era. This is a story of courage, resilience and forgiveness. A must-read!

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Thursday, May 10, 2018

Review: Her Pretty Face

Her Pretty Face Her Pretty Face by Robyn Harding
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What if you find out your best friend is not who she says she is? This is what Her Pretty Face by Robyn Harding is all about. Frances has a past she wants no one to know about, but so does her best friend Kate. A young teenager is kidnapped, tortured, raped, and murdered. A plea bargain is made and one woman gets off with murder.

Those of you who are familiar with the serial killers, Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka, will find a lot of similarities in this story. Although the similitude is there in the back of your mind; this book is not pervaded with gruesome details of the murder and focuses on the themes of deception and revenge.

I want to thank NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for this thrilling ARC of Her Pretty Face by Robyn Harding. This contemporary suspense book will be at your favourite bookstore on July 10, 2018.

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Monday, May 7, 2018

Review: The Literary Handyman

The Literary Handyman The Literary Handyman by Danielle Ackley-McPhail
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Literary Handyman by Danielle Ackely-McPhail is filled with great advises for aspiring writers. The book is structured in small articles and very easy to read. Danielle is a fantasy and science fiction author and shares her experience freely (if you do not count the price of the book itself) and offers substantial insights on how to select your book storyline and characters and the different avenues where you can submit your work. She also provides perspicacious warnings on what not to do.

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