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review 2018-04-24 02:23
It Happened One Night - Marie Ferrarella

It might have been better if the apparent cause of the H/h getting together wasn't a rift between their comedy act fathers. And if we didn't spend entirely too much time around these two old farts variously moping around and annoying the hell out of the H/h... and in the case of the h's dad, kvetching vaguely about something his partner did. 


The h had the vague sense of unease that she was in over her head with someone who wasn't exactly her type. She tried to keep him at arms' length but it didn't work. And then they had a fight... To be fair, she was attempting to remove herself from his life, and he was expressing resentment at what her intrusions had done to him. So...who started it? Not sure. He did come around the next day and have a heartfelt talk with her, followed presumably by the expected HEA - there were tickets to Vegas involved.

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review 2018-04-18 22:06
Review: Heart Berries
Heart Berries - Terese Marie Mailhot

I don't know if there's ever been a book I've hated disliking as much as I hated disliking Heart Berries. This is such an honest, heartrending memoir. Written by a First Peoples woman battling mental illness, it is a very important and unique work. The prose is gorgeous though not always easy to follow: Mailhot takes a stream of conscious approach that may leave a reader feeling disoriented. I think the style works well as it gives the impression of the mental and political struggles Mailhot faces throughout these pages.

For these reasons, Heart Berries is a stellar read. But…

Mailhot has some reason to be angry. I understand. She’s been through several toxic relationships and many difficult situations. But her answer is to perpetuate stereotypes and justify her own toxic response. It’s all very honest, but it doesn’t give me much hope for the future. Though it’s beautifully written and very heartfelt on one hand, on the other, Heart Berries is little more than a highly intelligent Fuck Off note. Rather than respond with my own vitriol, I’m just going to stuff it back into the pages of this book and move onto the next.

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review 2018-04-11 08:39
The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan
The Day the Falls Stood Still - Cathy Marie Buchanan

I’ve had the opportunity to visit Niagara Falls several times over the years, but I knew very little about its history, especially during the early days of hydro-electricity in Canada. I appreciated how the author fused the prominent issues of that time into the story. It explored the environmental and moral sacrifices these advances brought.

Buchanan crafted a fictional story that was inspired by the real life River Man William “Red” Hill and his heroic rescues. I enjoy when a historical fiction gives the reader a good image of how daily life was during a specific time period and I felt The Day the Falls Stood Still did just that.

It took me some time to really get into the story. It wasn’t until the end that I really understood what drew Bess and Tom together. However once I was hooked, I became very immersed in the plot. I also liked the old photographs that began each section.

I would recommend Cathy Marie Buchanan’s The Day the Falls Stood Still to historical fiction fans.

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review 2018-04-09 21:06
The Day the Falls Stood Still (Buchanan)
The Day the Falls Stood Still - Cathy Marie Buchanan

I'm a sucker for anything waterfall-related, fictional, non-fictional or pictorial, so Buchanan had me at "hello" with this quite charming historical novel of a middle-class World War I era young woman on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Her family hits hard times almost exactly at the same time as she falls for a young man - fictional name Tom Cole, but he is a reworking of an actual historical figure, a riverman named William "Red" Hill - who is knowledgeable about, and a passionate advocate for, that part of the Niagara River that flows through the famous falls and gorge. However, she gives her hero (and he really is a hero in the best fictional romance tradition) a different set of circumstances, and the ending of the novel will not please all readers. I quite liked the ending, but I won't say more for fear of spoiling.


For me, a major part of the enjoyment of this novel was the re-telling of a number of famous anecdotes about the Niagara Falls of Tom's generation, and that of his grandfather of the mid 19th-century. It was in the 1840s, in fact, that "the Falls stood still" because of an ice jam in Lake Erie, and Tom's grandfather, like Tom himself, had much ado to save the lives of fools who at various times (including that one) did not respect the enormous power and danger of the river. In fact, the cumulative effect of the anecdotes in this book - those I knew and those I didn't - was to confirm my impression that Niagara Falls stunters and barrel-riders are, to the man and woman, prime candidates for the Darwin Award.


The main action of the novel coincides in time with the beginning of the exploitation of Niagara for hydro-electric power, and also the beginning of the argument (which will never fully die, though it appears to have been quieted by an international agreement ca. 1950) over how much water can be removed from the river for industrial purposes - and how much by each country, since it's an international river - without compromising the truly iconic nature of the Falls as a tourist attraction. Tom, who identifies with the river at a visceral level, is of course an opponent of the development, and he has allies to this day; Bess, his wife and our narrator-protagonist, is more centrally situated in the argument, being sympathetic to Tom but the daughter of a power-plant manager (albeit one who loses his job).


Bess is also a seamstress (it's how she keeps her little family going while Tom is away fighting in the gruesome battles of WWI - and thereafter, as he struggles to find work) and, for my taste, a little too much of her narrative is concerned with dressmaking details - but that's nitpicking. The dressmaking has a function in linking up the various female characters of the plot, it moves the story forward in a couple of places, and some of the detail is helpful in establishing the historical feel of the novel - it's as legitimate in that respect as the horrible details of trench warfare that Tom brings home with him.


This was a 3-star family story read that got its fourth star because it hit upon and handled well one of my own personal hobby-horses, Niagara Falls.

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quote 2018-04-05 04:50
The irony of life is that those who wear masks often tell us more truths than those with open faces.
The Rose Society - Marie Lu



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