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review 2018-03-05 16:29
Bellevue Square / Michael Redhill
Bellevue Square - Michael Redhill

Jean Mason has a doppelganger. At least, that's what people tell her. Apparently it hangs out in Kensington Market, where it sometimes buys churros and shops for hats. Jean doesn't rattle easy, not like she used to. She's a grown woman with a husband and two kids, as well as a thriving business, and Toronto is a fresh start for the whole family. She certainly doesn't want to get involved in anything dubious, but still . . . why would two different strangers swear up and down they'd just seen her--with shorter hair furthermore?

Jean's curiosity quickly gets the better of her, and she visits the market, but sees no one who looks like her. The next day, she goes back to look again. And the day after that. Before she knows it, she's spending an hour here, an afternoon there, watching, taking notes, obsessing and getting scared. With the aid of a small army of locals who hang around in the market's only park, she expands her surveillance, making it known she'll pay for information or sightings. A peculiar collection of drug addicts, scam artists, philanthropists, philosophers and vagrants--the regulars of Bellevue Square--are eager to contribute to Jean's investigation. But when some of them start disappearing, it becomes apparent that her alleged double has a sinister agenda. Unless Jean stops her, she and everyone she cares about will face a fate stranger than death


I rate this book at 3.5 stars. This despite the fact that I almost quit reading about halfway through it. At that point, it seemed like just another domestic noir novel and I couldn’t see why it was a Giller prize finalist—what could it possibly offer to deserve that? But I was home on a snowy day, appointments cancelled, coffee waiting, reading blanket at the ready, and I decided that I would give it a few more pages.

Suddenly things took a completely unexpected turn. I found myself questioning everything. The rest of the book slaloms back and forth between realities until I couldn’t distinguish between them anymore. I was hooked.

And then it ended. Those of you who know me, know that I like messy and ambiguous endings. Except this one. I was left absolutely baffled and unsure what the point of the whole exercise actually was. This was too much even for me.

Apparently there are two more similar books to come. I doubt that I will bother with them after this experience.

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text 2018-02-22 19:20
TBR Thursday
A Brief History of Seven Killings: A Novel - Marlon James
Bellevue Square - Michael Redhill
An Enchantment of Ravens - Margaret Rogerson
Alias Grace - Margaret Atwood
The Inimitable Jeeves - P.G. Wodehouse
The Lost Plot - Genevieve Cogman
Vlad: The Last Confession - C.C. Humphreys

So, I am home from a rather unpleasant trip to Taiwan.  The weather was unseasonably cold (yes, its winter, but it doesn't usually get so cold and wet and gray).  The birds were thin on the ground.  Most of Taiwan is not set up to deal with cold weather, so there was no heat on our bus, in our hotels or in the restaurants that we ate in.  My cold weather clothing got a lot of wear and could probably crawl to the washer itself at this point!


To make an unpleasant trip worse, I caught a nasty cold halfway through, complete with hacking cough.  Staying in cold, uncomfortable hotels did nothing to help.  Also, our ground agent (who ordered the food for us) didn't seem to care if we actually liked the food he was providing.  I can't tell you how many evenings at the end I just ate a couple of bowls of rice and decided I'd eat when I got home. 


So I've been under the weather for over a week even when I made it home to my nice soft bed in my warm house and where I get to choose the menu.  I've even been too groggy to have much interest in reading, something which is completely unlike myself.


So it is with great relief that I find myself feeling better and ready to tackle my stack of library books!  I'm going to hear Marlon James at a guest lecture next week, so I am plugging away at A Brief History of Seven Killings.  I'm finding it slow going, but I think I'm finding the rhythm and expect to make a dent on it this weekend.


Bellevue Square is not what I expected--I hope to finish it off tonight or tomorrow night.  I'm reading it for the B in my alphabetical title challenge.  Alias Grace will count toward both my Female Author A to Z challenge and my PopSugar challenge (a book about a villain or an anti-hero).


Then I get to treat myself to An Enchantment of Ravens and The Lost Plot, two books that I've really been looking forward to.  Plus get introduced to Wodehouse's Jeeves in The Inimitable Jeeves


And finally, Vlad : The Last Confession is by a new favourite author, Chris Humphreys, who I met at a convention last summer.  I recommended that our public library acquire the book and it has finally arrived!


Its still cold here in Calgary and we've had a pile of snow, so I will quite happily hide in my house this weekend, cuddled up with my books.



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text 2018-02-12 21:51
Widen your horizons
The People's Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited - Louisa Lim

Last year, I decided that I wanted to try my best to learn about different countries and cultures. I became especially interested in China and their Cultural Revolution. (You may recall Do Not Say We Have Nothing.) To that end, I picked up The People's Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited by Louisa Lim which is a work of non-fiction that culls firsthand accounts from those who lived through that time and documents how their lives were subsequently changed. The biggest takeaway I had from this book was that I know next to nothing about the history of China...and most of its people can say the same. There has been so much collusion and cover-ups that most people are unaware of the true nature of historical events that occurred in their country. And those that would tell the truth are hushed up one way or another. The government's control works under the guise of "stability of the nation" which keeps the populace blind and even afraid of digging deeper. There is also a fear of the West because of massive political and cultural indoctrination that has occurred over several years. The seasons of political and cultural change can easily be marked by the different people in power. The party 'line' made it imperative that change be accepted by each and every citizen. Firsthand accounts from those who participated in (or lived through) the Cultural Revolution (more info on that here) illustrates the power wielded by those in power. All of these people are still being monitored and silenced. They can never advance in their careers which in a money obsessed country like China spells a certain shunned existence. It was a powerful, eye-opening experience reading this book. It has only increased my interest in learning about new places and people. If you're not a huge fan of nonfiction because you find it too dry then this would be an excellent one to give a shot as it reads more like a work of literature. 10/10 for the obviously thorough research and excellent writing.


What's Up Next: The Little Virtues by Natalia Ginzburg


What I'm Currently Reading: I've Got This Round: More Tales of Debauchery by Mamrie Hart

Source: readingfortheheckoft.blogspot.com
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review 2018-01-24 09:01
Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton
Hangover Square - Patrick Hamilton

George Harvey Bone is a down on his luck fellow, infatuated with the lovely, yet heartless Netta Longdon, an actress whose only interest in George is taking advantage of his good natured generosity.
But George has a secret. He's slipping into the grip of schizophrenia, suffering blackouts when he has a completely different attitude towards Netta.....he needs to kill her. What follows is the tale of George's downward spiral, as his sanity degenerates and his mental duality battles for control.

Set in 1930s London, Hamilton offers us a bleak view of the lower classes, the drunks, the unemployed and the shiftless, written in engaging prose that may be some of the finest writing I've encountered in quite some time. While his grasp of the facts about schizophrenia may not be completely accurate, he still manages to capture George's descent into madness with a nightmarish quality that rings true, not to mention his ability to transport readers to the less savory side of Earl's Court as war looms on the horizon.

A true classic that should be on every reader's book shelf.

Highest possible recommendation.

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review 2018-01-19 16:54
DUKE OF STORM by Gaelen Foley
Duke of Storm (Moonlight Square, Book 3)... Duke of Storm (Moonlight Square, Book 3) - Gaelen Foley

The previous 3 Dukes of Amberly have died in a short period of time.  The new Duke is from Ireland and faces much discrimination.  The Ton wants nothing to do with him but it is up to him to figure out what happened to the other three Dukes when he learns that others believed they were murdered.  He needs an entrée to the Ton which he gets through his neighbor, Lady Margaret Winthrop, who lives with her married sister. 


I liked Connor, the new Duke, but I loved Maggie (Margaret).  She was feisty and would not let Connor treat her like his troops.  Her sister I would have loved to dropped kicked her.  She was a witch of the first order.  Thoroughly disagreeable!  The male villain was somewhat predictable.  He did what I figured he would from the beginning although his "accomplice" at the end was unexpected.  I also liked the other members of Moonlight Square and their insights into Maggie and her sister, as well as their support of Connor. 

I am enjoying this series more and more. 


The women are independent and the men can handle them and work with them instead of trying to put them into a stereotypical role.

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