book review

Never to be told: a review of Seven for a Secret by Lyndsay Faye

In Lyndsay Faye’s Seven for a Secret, it is 1840s New York City, where crime, social tensions, and playing-for-keeps politics form a potent, sometimes deadly milieu. And whodunit? is never an easy question in this twisty, brilliantly plotted world.Seven for a Secret

“Whimpering, Varker looked up at Val and made a timid effort to pull his hand free.
We heard a grind of loose bone, followed by a tiny shriek. My throat constricted.
My brother is a dangerous man.
‘I haven’t been paying attention,’ Val remarked in a conversational manner. ‘Damned if there wasn’t something else on my mind. So tell me—what play were you aiming to make with that snapper, drawing it like a heathen without a fair warning?'”

Seven for a Secret, Lyndsay Faye

In Lyndsay Faye’s Seven for a Secret, it is 1840s New York City, where crime, social tensions, and playing-for-keeps politics form a potent, sometimes deadly milieu. Floods of Irish immigrants are arriving daily to escape the potato famine; people die of starvation with regularity, and there isn’t enough work to go around. Excitement, danger, and various illegalities are the norm, and Timothy Wilde, copper star of the newly minted New York Police Department, is doing his best to figure out whodunit. But whodunit? is never an easy question in this twisty, brilliantly plotted world.

Continue reading “Never to be told: a review of Seven for a Secret by Lyndsay Faye”

book review

The glare of celebrity: a review of The Cuckoo’s Calling by JK Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith

 

cuckoo's calling

“Somé picked up his mint tea. ‘Why do women do it? Cuckoo, too. . . she wasn’t stupid—actually, she was razor sharp—so what did she see in Evan Duffield? I’ll tell you,’ he said without pausing for an answer. ‘It’s that wounded-poet crap, that soul-pain shit, that too-much-of-a-tortured-genius-to-wash bollocks. Brush your teeth, you little bastard. You’re not fucking Byron.'”

The Cuckoo’s Calling, JK Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith

Well, we all know the secret of Robert Galbraith and his debut novel The Cuckoo’s Calling. Galbraith, of course, is the pseudonym of JK Rowling. (If you somehow missed the story, check out this article in the New York Times.) Unfortunately, I would likely not have heard about this book if its provenance hadn’t been revealed, but I wish I’d read it unhindered by the knowledge of who its author is. It’s impossible to read without bring a boatload of expectations and assumptions to the table. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read my beloved Harry Potter books, and yet I absolutely despised Rowling’s adult debut A Casual Vacancy. How, then, to read a mystery that was published with the specific intent of enjoying critical reviews and audience response without being associated with the Rowling powerhouse?

Fortunately, The Cuckoo’s Calling returns to Rowling’s greatest strength: compelling narrative. Rowling is a master storyteller, and in this contemporary murder mystery there’s plenty of story to go around. Private investigator Cormoran Strike is physically imposing, mentally sharp, and socially a bit gruff. His girlfriend has left him (again), he’s sleeping in his office, and he’s in pain due to the leg he lost as a Military Policeman in Afghanistan. Not to mention he can barely pay his bills, including the salary of bright, eager temp secretary Robin Ellacott. When John Bristow, an old school chum, turns up with a case, Cormoran can hardly say no, especially because Bristow is prepared to overpay him grandly. Bristow’s adopted sister, ultra-famous supermodel Lula Landry, has apparently committed suicide, but Bristow is convinced she was murdered.

Continue reading “The glare of celebrity: a review of The Cuckoo’s Calling by JK Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith”

Uncategorized

Flash contest: TIFF tickets to STAY tonight!

CONTEST CLOSED! Congratulations to Christine. Enjoy the show!

 

In Toronto? Want to see the film STAY based on the book by Aislinn Hunter? Tonight at 10 pm! I have two tickets to give away, generously furnished by Random House of Canada (thank you!).

You have to be in Toronto and able to pick the tickets up downtown.

stay_01

Movie details here: http://tiff.net/filmsandschedules/festival/2013/stay

Email editorialeyes@outlook.com to enter. All entries received before 7 pm EST will be entered into a random draw. Good luck!

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Chatelaine Book Club review: Freud’s Mistress by Karen Mack and Jennifer Kaufman

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I recently reviewed Freud’s Mistress by Karen Mack and Jennifer Kaufman for Chatelaine. You can read the review here: http://www.chatelaine.com/living/chatelaine-book-club/freuds-mistress-by-karen-mack-and-jennifer-kaufman/

book review

The story I am in right now, with you: a review of MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood

The end of the world has come and gone, and a handful of humans and post-humans are left in its wake. In MaddAddam, Margaret Atwood returns to the near-future apocalyptic world of Oryx & Crake and The Year of the Flood to tell us what happens next. Sort of.

MaddAddam

“There’s the story, then there’s the real story, then there’s the story of how the story came to be told. Then there’s what you leave out of the story. Which is part of the story too.”

– MaddAddam, by Margaret Atwood

The end of the world has come and gone, and a handful of humans and post-humans are left in its wake. In MaddAddam, Margaret Atwood returns to the near-future apocalyptic world of Oryx & Crake and The Year of the Flood to tell us what happens next. Sort of.

Before I can talk about MaddAddam, some background: I’ve had a difficult relationship with this series. I love much of Atwood’s wit and cutting social commentaries, especially in books such as The Handmaid’s Tale, Good Bones and Simple Murders, and Lady Oracle. I enjoyed Oryx & Crake very much: an allegorical tale that examined transhumanism, genetic engineering, and all-powerful corporations in a mega-capitalistic near future. But then The Year of the Flood arrived, and I was so let down. The neat, clever lessons had been taken away from their allegorical underpinnings and thrust into a real-world setting. Suddenly more characters were operating within the parameters of a world I had never read as “real,” and certain things really grated for me as a reader.

Continue reading “The story I am in right now, with you: a review of MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood”

book review

On the surface: a review of Emancipation Day by Wayne Grady

Windsor, Ontario, may not seem like an obvious setting for a novel, but in Wayne Grady’s fiction debut Emancipation Day, tensions simmer beneath the surface, and things are not always what they seem. Jack Lewis is one of three children born to a working class black family. But Jack is born different—his skin is white.

Emancipation Day

“It felt safe, but it was dangerous for Jack in this house. He was pretty sure Peter and his mother didn’t know anything about his family, but he couldn’t be certain. Peter probably wouldn’t rat on him if he did know, but he couldn’t be sure of that either. The Barnses were white and they were rich, and he didn’t really understand such people, didn’t know what they were capable of, how fiercely they would protect one of their own. Coming to Peter’s house, talking to Peter’s mother, even calling her Della, was like putting his hand on a hot stove to see how long he could stand the heat.”

Emancipation Day, Wayne Grady

Windsor, Ontario, may not seem like an obvious setting for a novel, but in Wayne Grady’s fiction debut Emancipation Day, tensions simmer beneath the surface, and things are not always what they seem. Jack Lewis is one of three children born to a working class black family. But Jack is born different—his skin is white. Not albino, but to all appearances caucasian. And growing up in the 1930s and 40s across the border from Detroit, this doesn’t make for an easy situation for anyone involved.

Race, family, and identity form the central tensions of the novel, each pulling at and playing with one another. Jack rejects his blackness and, in doing so, his family, passing for white as much as possible. A talented trombone player, he joins the Windsor All-Whites (who are) while rejecting the jazz music that’s rising in popularity particularly among black musicians and music lovers. When he joins the Navy during World War II, he is transferred to Newfoundland and sees the opportunity to distance himself from his family and community entirely. And when he meets, woos, and eventually marries Vivian Fanshawe, he doesn’t inform his new wife and her family of his own heritage.

Continue reading “On the surface: a review of Emancipation Day by Wayne Grady”

World War Z Readalong

World War Z Readalong Part 3: “The Great Panic”

World War Z banner final

Previous readalong posts
Part 1: “Introduction” & “Warnings”
Part 2: “Blame”

Part 3: “The Great Panic”

The Story So Far…

In part 3, we’ve moved past the initial fears and doubts of the public about the outbreaks. These testimonials relate the first substantial encounters people had with the infected. In Memphis, Tennessee, USA at the Parnell Air National Guard Base, the interviewer speaks with Gavin Blaire. Blaire was the pilot of a Fujifilm blimp before the war and now works on one of the dirigibles used in the Civil Air Patrol. He recalls the mass exodus that occurred at the beginning of the Great Panic, with interstates turned into gridlock as people tried to get out of town. Tragic, he points out, because they were leaving one heavily infested city and heading toward another area of high infestation. He wonders if anyone had organized the doomed escape attempt, or if people just got in line, going in the same direction they saw the rest of the herd moving in. Even as they waited in their cars to get moving, zombies swarmed and attacked, “literally eating [their] way up the stalled lines” (loc 1175).

Photo from http://philm25.blogspot.ca/2006_03_01_archive.html

In Alang, India, Ajay Shah looks out over the wreckage of decaying ships on the shore. He was once a “white-collar professional” in the nearby town of Bhavnagar, but when the Great Panic hit, he headed for the shore to escape the infested land. He remembers seeing people with smaller boats and rafts charging outrageous sums to ferry people to the large ships in the harbour, or refusing to take people of a certain caste or skin colour—but, he points out as an afterthought, for every negative story he saw ten good ones. He himself was saved when he dove into the sea, swimming desperately for a ship, by a Canadian aboard The Sir Walter Grenfell. Others weren’t so lucky, and as the dead reanimated below the waves, they rose up to attack. Even the water wasn’t safe.

The Alang ship breaking yards. Photo from http://www.jazjaz.net/
The Alang ship breaking yards. Photo from http://www.jazjaz.net/

Continue reading “World War Z Readalong Part 3: “The Great Panic””