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The Mad Hatter "Seagull Books" (Prince Edward Island, Canada)

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Bright Shiny Morning Lp
Bright Shiny Morning Lp
by James Frey
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 23.16
19 used & new from CDN$ 3.63

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A "Bright Shiny Morning?" The only bright spot on my book was the stain on the cover., Sept. 28 2009
Fact or fiction, I truly enjoyed Frey's "A Million Little Pieces" but what the heck is this? The writing style in "Bright Shiny Morning" is long-winded and monotonous with an entire book of short, choppy sentences that could be better composed by a grade one student. The fictional characters are sporadic and come across more as "dead weight" than "lost souls." I have found more interesting characters in the back yards of my small community of approximately 1,500 people! As for the plot...I am still searching for one. The entire scenario reads as if it was written by someone on "some pretty good stuff" who just couldn't seem to get it all together. The back cover describes the novel as "a sweeping chronicle of contemporary Los Angeles that is bold, exhilarating, and utterly original." Are we talking the same book here? The only time sweeping came to my mind is when I was tempted to sweep the entire drivel under the carpet. As for exhilarting, heart burn would give a better jolt, and originality... that description is fairly accurate for few novels are this poorly written and mundane.

The Slap
The Slap
by Christos Tsiolkas
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.67
20 used & new from CDN$ 0.86

8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Too many characters and a plot with no substance, Sept. 22 2009
This review is from: The Slap (Paperback)
"The Slap" made me want to do two things, "slap" the author silly for his long-winded, dull and boring novel and secondly, heave the cumberson drivel into the nearest trash bin. First of all, there are far too many characters: Hector, Aisha, Adam, Melissa, Connie, Brendan, Tasha, Elizabeth, Sava, Angeliki, Koula, Ari, Raf, Harry, Sandi, Rocco, Bilal (also known as Terry,) Shamira, Ibby, Bilal, Sonja, Manoli, Harry, Rosie, Gary, Hugo, Anouk, Rhys, Ravi, Dedjan, Ritchie, Tracey, Leanna - all within the first 40 pages! Give me a break!

As one reads further, there is another new endless batch of characters, none of whom inspire, captivate or seem to have any significant importance to the book. Perhaps because there are so many characters floating around in this endless, exhausting saga, with the exception of Hector and Aisha, the characters are not well developed and definitely not interesting enough to hold the reader's attention. The plot, if there is one (a child is slapped at a barbeque by Harry,) drags on...and on...and on. Would I recommend this tedious, mindless, yawn-inspiring tale of woe - definitely not. Root canal work would be less painful.

What would I recommend? Try Linda Holeman's " In a Far Country" or Kate Morton's "The Forgotten Garden." Both are fantastic literary works of art.

The Saffron Gate
The Saffron Gate
by Linda Holeman
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.67
13 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An okay read but nothing to set the world on fire!, Sept. 19 2009
This review is from: The Saffron Gate (Paperback)
"The Saffron Gate" is an inside look at the culture and times of Marrakech set in the 1930's. To the book's credit, it is an historic romance with an excellent plot and well developed characters. The culture and traditions of the country are the most intriguing aspect of the book; however, "The Saffron Gate" does not live up to Holeman's previous novels, particularly, "In a Far Country."

At times, this book is somewhat slow paced and lacks action. There are two primary characters, Sidonie and the love of her life, a doctor named Etienne. Actually, I enjoyed the secondary characters of Mustapha and Aziz, two men who help Sedonie on her journey to Marrakech, far more than any other characters. They are both unique and likeable individuals. One very irksome aspect of the book is Etienne's broken English. He was born and raised in Paris with French being his mother tongue. For anyone who speaks Parisian French, or has lived in Paris, it will be obvious that the writing style is definitely not the choice of words or end result of a Parisian attempting to speak English. Clearly, the author does not speak Parisian French and the end result is a an overly choppy, stilted dialogue. If the reader can overlook this rather tedious part of the writing style, you will probably enjoy the book.

Yes, the book is definitely worth the read, but nothing to get overly excited about. I would, however, definitely recommend,"In a Far Country" which was truly a captivating read.

Three Cups of Tea
Three Cups of Tea
by Greg Mortenson
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.36
273 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre at best, Sept. 12 2009
This review is from: Three Cups of Tea (Paperback)
All I can say is five stars plus, plus, plus for Greg Mortensen and his accomplishments and two stars for the book itself. The writing style is a long, drawn-out account of Greg`s life, mountain climbing expeditions, and how he came to build over 50 schools for young girls in war-torn underprivileged countries. While the author is to be highly commended for the amazing work he has undertaken and successfully completed, the book failed to hold my interest. Half way through the book, it began to read like a `who`s who` account of all the people he had met. Overall, the author is a hero for what he has achieved, but the writing style is a tedious, monotonous journey. Just finishing the book was, in itself, an exhausting mountain climbing expedition.

The Gargoyle
The Gargoyle
by Andrew Davidson
Edition: Hardcover
46 used & new from CDN$ 2.94

5.0 out of 5 stars Raw, sensuous....a powerful novel, Sept. 11 2009
This review is from: The Gargoyle (Hardcover)
"The Gargoyle" is a combination of history, romance, mysticism and intrigue. Written in a unique writing style, the author's seven years of research prior to writing this book has resulted in a one-of-a-kind literary masterpiece. Although the book can be graphic, often close to gory in some parts, the reader becomes completely absorbed in this fantastic tale. The well-developed plot is original, the characters are captivating and the pace holds the reader's attention from start to finish...it never lets go.
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As one who has read hundreds upon hundreds of literary novels in my lifetime (some not so great, others that will never be forgotten) this one stands near the top of the list of those that are definite "keepers" and never to be forgotten. Hopefully, this book is only the beginning of the author's potential career because indications are he has a promising future head of him. Davidson's writing skills are phenominal and "The Gargoyle" is most highly recommended. Also recommended is "The Forgotten Garden" by Kate Morton, another memorable read.

Every Man Dies Alone
Every Man Dies Alone
by Hans Fallada
Edition: Hardcover
25 used & new from CDN$ 3.62

12 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Long-winded and lacks emotion, Sept. 10 2009
This review is from: Every Man Dies Alone (Hardcover)
This negative review will probably not win any positve helpful votes (readers tend to indicate the review is not helpful if it is a negative one;) however, it is far more important to me to give an honest assessment than accumulate postive helpful reviews.

There are many books written on the holocaust and this period in time that grab your attention from start to finish, unfortunately, this is not one of them. The characters skip from one to another like stepping stones and I found myself turning back the pages to recall "who was who" and where they fit into the picture. None of characers were memorable ones and after awhile they all seemed to run together. The persecution of the Jewish people was an horrific historical event, but in this particular story the plot dragged on. The further one read, the more tedious and monotonous the book became. As an avid reader of great literary books, I fail to see what garnered this book glowing reviews; it was down-right boring and disappointing.

There are many other books of a similar nature portraying this era that are far more interesting, such as "Those Who Save Us" by Jenna Blum, "Anya" by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer, "Night of Flames" by Douglas Jacobson and "Five Chinmeys" by Olga Lengyel, to name a few. As for this one... over-priced (unless purchased second-hand) and over-rated.

Sarah's Key
Sarah's Key
by Tatiana de Rosnay
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 11.19
234 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

66 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Absolutely Compelling Read, Sept. 2 2009
This review is from: Sarah's Key (Paperback)
Five stars are not nearly sufficient to describe this most compelling read. By times, the story is so heart-rendering that one simply must put the book down and take a break. It is the story of a young girl, Sarah, and her family during the "French Roundup" of the Jewish people living in France during World War II. As the chapters unfold, a modern-day couple enter the scene and there is a second story to be told.

Apart from the plot and well-developed characters, an additional plus to the book is the short chapters. Written as a reflection on Sarah's childhood trials and tribulations, the chapters alternate from war time years of the early 40's to modern day. The alternate modern day chapters give a pleasant break to the attrocities committed during war time. Sarah's childhood and imprisonment in a concentration camp, the brother she left behind, and the loss of her parents are very painful parts of the book to read. The author has a unique writing style; the reader cannot help but feel all the emotion and chaos as if one was "living the reality" of this horrendous period in time.

The knowledge gained from "Sarah's Key" is that no matter how challenging our world is today, (yes, war still goes on and it is not a perfect world,) we should appreciate the freedom we do have and cherish each day. May there never be another holocaust, and may we learn to respect each other's values, religions, cultures and lifestyles so the world may live in peace and harmony. This book is most highly recommended. Also recommended is "Those Who Save Us" by Jenna Blum.

Skeletons at the Feast: A Novel
Skeletons at the Feast: A Novel
by Chris Bohjalian
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.64
94 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Fantastic Work of Literary Art!, Aug. 23 2009
This a story of war, specifically of the second World War. Readers should first be forewarned that the book contains some very graphic scenes of torture and persecution of the Jewish people during this time period. Without doubt, there are parts that will bring tears to your eyes. However, this era is a part of our history and as horrendous and gut-wrenching as it is to read, it is a reality. In some respects, this book reminded me of a much shorter version of Dr. Zhivago, primarily because of the Russian invovlement and the war-time setting. If violence offends the reader or brings back memories of time and events best left forgotten, understandably, this book may not be for you.

However, the novel is a magnificent love story set against all odds. Survival is the main goal here, augmented with dreams and hopes for the future. The obstacles and challenges of the primary characters are endless. The primary characters, Anna (daughter of Persian aristocrats,) Callum (a Scottish prisoner of war) and Manfred (a Wehrmacht corporal, who is not what he seems to be,) form a love triangle that will test their true feelings to the limit. The author has written a book rich in detail with strong, well-developed characters. The story captures the reader's attention from page one and simply never lets go. This is one of those rare memorable "once-in-a lifetime books" that will stay with you long after the pages have been read...absolutely magnificent! It is most highly recommended.

Outlander
Outlander
by Diana Gabaldon
Edition: School & Library Binding
Price: CDN$ 15.85
24 used & new from CDN$ 8.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent!!, Aug. 21 2009
Let's not rehash the context of the series. There is enough of that already posted now and the books have been in the market place for many years so nothing further need be said in that respect. When I first started this book, I said to myself, "This is not for me, time-travel and it is soooo long!" Ridiculous, especially for someone in their 60's! However, having paid for the book, I trudged on. By the time a quarter of the pages were read, it rather surprised me that it was not quite as bad as I originally anticipated. By the end of the book, I was completely hooked. After reading the next two books in the series, Dragonfly in Amber and Voyager, I am now thoroughly addicted and cannot give enough praise to the series. Diana Gabaldon, you are a true master of literary art. My shelves are stocked with the following three in the Outlander Series, and before long will contain the latest, Echo in the Bones, due to be released in September 2009.

Would I recommend this book and the others in the series. Yes, yes, yes!! You've just got to have them, or you will miss out on one of life's greatest adventures! Living with terminal cancer as I am, one just can't afford to miss out on one of life's little adventures. So young or old, healthy or otherwise, read the books. They will sweep you away to a time and place of dreams, romance, history and intrigue.

Olive Kitteridge
Olive Kitteridge
by Elizabeth Strout
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.00
149 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre at best, Aug. 21 2009
This review is from: Olive Kitteridge (Paperback)
On the positive side,the character of Olive Kitteridge, a retired school teacher, was intriguing and captivating, if not down-right unusual by times. She made me chuckle and definitely believed in calling "a spade, a spade." However, she was truly the only charasmatic element throughout the entire book. Her husband, Henry, and son, Christopher, were rather boring, predictable and hum-drum. Other secondary characters, and there were several, were not well developed and left the reader feeling disinterested because there was not the opportunity to truly get to know them.

The stories of the various individuals who flowed through Olive's life, and this was the centre core of the book, had the potential to make for an inpsiring plot, but it just did not happen. It was as if the author was trying to cram too many characters and their into too few pages. Would I recommend the book - not on less it was from a library or could be found in a second-hand reading store. I did enjoy Olive though; she was the only element that breathed fresh air into the book.

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