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Brandy (Brandon, Manitoba, Canada)

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A Discovery of Witches: A Novel (All Souls Trilogy, Book 1)
A Discovery of Witches: A Novel (All Souls Trilogy, Book 1)
Offered by Penguin Group USA
Prix : CDN$ 14.99

4.0 étoiles sur 5 Romeo's a Vampire and Juliet's a Witch, Feb. 17 2015
In the first book of her All Souls Trilogy, Harkness gives readers a story of forbidden love reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet. Juliet a.k.a. Diana is a witch descendant from Bridget Bishop, the first person executed in the Salem witch trials. She has suppressed her powers for her entire life and much of her story involves her journey to acceptance and mastery of those powers. Romeo a.k.a. Matthew is a 1500 year-old vampire. Both exist naturally and blend into human society, coming together in Oxford's Bodleian Library over an ancient, bewitched manuscript Ashmole 782 and initially despise each other. After all, vampires and witches are sworn enemies. The mystery behind Ashmole 782 is the driving catalyst for the entire plot, bringing other vampires, witches, and demons into the story as they all seek the manuscript. As the only one able to access the spellbound book, Diana soon becomes the target of each of these dangerous creatures. Matthew's increasing desire to protect Diana is inevitably what brings the two closer.

A Discovery of Witches is an intelligent collection of history, academic intrigue, and myth. Harkness creates beautiful descriptions such as her explanation of Ashmole 782 as a palimpsest with once washed off ink reappearing under new text as if it were a textual ghost. The palimpsest image then occurs again, 350 pages later, in an image-evoking description of Matthew's body: "its bright surface obscuring the tale of him hinted at by all those scars." The most unique aspect of the novel has to be the house belonging to Diana's Aunt's Sarah and Emily (both also witches). It is not only haunted by a number of deceased relatives that come and go depending on the situation that arises within the walls, but the house has a mind of its very own. It closes, opens, and locks doors; creates new rooms for visiting guests; hides precious objects until they are needed; and any number of other strange and fascinating activities.

If I am to provide some criticism it would be that A Discovery of Witches is basically Romeo and Juliet meets Twilight meets Fifty Shades of Grey. (In Harkness' defense, though, the last title in that list was published after A Discovery of Witches.) Despite the fact that Diana is a strong and independent female character, Matthew still takes on the protector or knight-in-shining-armour role that is so typical of love stories. It was rather disappointing when it became clear that Diana would inevitably take on the role of damsel-in-distress. Near the end of the novel, there is a subtle jab at Shakespeare that doesn't sit quite right, suggesting that the famous playwright was a magpie collecting other writer's stories. Demeaning the most famous playwright in history is a bit harsh coming from an author who has just written a contemporary version of Romeo and Juliet herself.

What is wonderful about A Discovery of Witches and places it outside the confines of being labelled "just another forbidden love story" is that it asks for acceptance, but not just acceptance for the two lovers, an all-encompassing acceptance of all species (or races) by all others. The novel is a page-turner no doubt and as Diana and Matthew timewalk back to the 1590s for Harkness' second novel of the trilogy, Shadow of Night, the historical-fiction lover in me is definitely intrigued. I'm also curious to see how Shakespeare will fare through Harkness' eyes during his own time period.

Fatal Fallout
Fatal Fallout
by Lara Lacombe
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Prix : CDN$ 6.25
14 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 étoiles sur 5 Impressive to this Harlequin-skeptic!, Sept. 6 2014
Despite the fact that "Fatal Fallout" is a Harlequin romantic suspense (a genre I typically spare my mind from the pain of absorbing), Lara Lacombe's novel surpassed my expectations. Unlike most Harlequin-published novels, "Fatal Fallout" is well written and even witty in parts. For example, the very first conversation between main characters Thomas and Claire is both relatable and hilarious. The free indirect discourse that occurs with both main characters is very effective in making the characters seem like real rather than fictional people, causing the reader to become vested in the lives of the characters and thus turning the pages to see what happens to them.
Don't get me wrong, the novel fits well into what I can only imagine is a set criteria that the story must meet to be published under the name Harlequin, overly detailed physical descriptions of the characters, highly sexual internal dialogues, and the typical man-in-shining-armour-saves-damsel-in-distress plot. In "Fatal Fallout" the stereotypical, overly sexualised gender roles are sexy scientist meets beefy FBI agent. What I do appreciate about Lacombe's choice in characters, though, is the fact that Claire is an intelligent, independent, and strong woman before, and even sometimes while, interacting with Thomas. When she can, Lacombe ensures her descriptive text takes on a sure sign of her own writerly intelligence. Phrases such as "lethally quiet" and "creatively gruesome" are just two of many instances of smart writing that caught my attention.
Shortly after his first meeting with Claire, Thomas' thought process moves from the perfectly aligned drinking glasses in her kitchen cupboards to an assumption that her underwear drawer must be equally as organised. While still keeping with the internal sexual dialogue found in every Harlequin, Lacombe manages to make this particular passage, and others as well, exceptionally funny. Even the sexualised details, token requirements of Harlequin novels, are tasteful such as the phrase "the sound of him made her stomach flip-flop." The intercourse scene itself is short, but arousing and does not take over as the major climax of the novel.
Overall, I found the 48-hour time frame that the novel's events occur within to be the only really unbelievable aspect. Lacombe delivers a page-turner that is truly impressive to this Harlequin-skeptic!

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened
Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened
by Allie Brosh
Edition: Paperback
Prix : CDN$ 18.73
55 used & new from CDN$ 10.98

5.0 étoiles sur 5 Brilliant!, Dec 29 2013
When I read Allie Brosh's "come back" blog in May of 2013, I was awestruck, captivated, inspired, all of the above and more. I bought her book as soon as I spotted it on the shelves of the closest book store. As a person who has battled my own depression and anxiety demons and those of family members and friends for years, Brosh's candidness was a breath of fresh air. I had so many "nodding of the head" moments that I stopped counting. She is blunt. She is bold. She is no holds bar and that's the way issues like mental health should be handled. For that, I thank Allie Brosh and this book more than I can express. As for the other excerpts in the book - HILARIOUS. That is all!

The Lovely Bones
The Lovely Bones
by Alice Sebold
Edition: Paperback
19 used & new from CDN$ 0.17

1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Beautiful Insight, Feb. 23 2006
This review is from: The Lovely Bones (Paperback)
This is my favorite novel. Sebold is a brilliant and careful writer who uses the characters in this novel to drive the plot. The Lovely Bones follows the lives of a 14 year old girl who is brutally raped and murdered by her next door neighbour and all of the people closely affected by it. The great part about this novel is that the main character, Susie Salmon, the girl who is raped and murders tells her story looking down from heaven! At first glance the subject matter of this novel may seem very depressing and sad to read, however it is far from that. The description of the rape and murder did cause for a little uneasiness but the way Sebold delves into the inner workings of all of her characters takes the depressing aspect away. After having read "Lucky" by Sebold, I have concluded that the character, Ruth, in the Lovely Bones is included in this book to represent Sebold herself (something to think about if you should decide to read this book). I recommend this book to everyone I know. It is brilliant and enlightening and just a great read.

The End Of Alice
The End Of Alice
by A.M. Homes
Edition: Paperback
Prix : CDN$ 18.99
27 used & new from CDN$ 6.05

4.0 étoiles sur 5 Great if you have an open mind, Feb. 23 2006
This review is from: The End Of Alice (Paperback)
The End of Alice went above and beyond what I expected when I read the summary. It is very descriptive and not for the faint of heart or those unwilling to accept that criminals are, in fact, people too. Homes does an excellent job of letting the reader into the mind of a convicted child molester and murderer. I applaud her for her research on this novel as I would imagine it takes quite the talent to complete a book like this one. This book is definately for only the very open-minded reader. It is vulgar and often times disgusting in its description, but if you enjoy exploring new and very off the wall avenues when you choose your reading material I definately recommend this book.

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