Book Reviews

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City of Women

City of Women by David R. Gillham

5 stars


Excellent story, recommend it highly. The main protagonist was annoyingly bland for a large portion of the book, and a reluctant ‘supporter’ of the resistance. However, I came to think this was intentional, reflecting a realistic struggle for a person – a very ordinary, typical person – who would rather just do nothing and try to survive. A brilliant depiction of how extraordinary circumstances force morality, in one direction or another. Several complex characters, making decisions and acting under the most horrific circumstances. All about ‘What would you do?’




Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

4 stars


This novel is set in Britain at the time of WWII, from the declaration of war to the end. The narrator is the typical cute but plucky daughter of a high-ranking cabinet official, supporting characters are her best pal and 2 young men who are also close friends. Begins with young people struggling with ‘doing the right thing’ when the country goes to war. And then reality hits. This book captured me from page 1. Great character development, evocative on setting. I recommend other titles by this author as well.



No Easy Answers

No Easy Answers by Deanna Lueder.

4 stars


Written with a generous heart, these are closely linked short stories. Main character Lexie walks us through her long days as a child protection social worker. She deals with tragic cases involving child abuse and neglect with great sensitivity and no judgement. Lueder writes with great talent and honesty evoking compassion and empathy in the reader. I had tears in my eyes but came away at the end having the greatest respect for social workers and the knowledge that it is rewarding work.




Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

5 stars


Easily the best book I’ve read in a long time. It’s science fiction for non-science fiction readers. It reads more like a thriller than sci-fi. The main character is  kidnapped and wakes up in another world. Confused and disoriented, he has to find his way back home to his wife and son. Fast paced and exciting. Definitely 5 stars!



Road Ends by Mary Lawson

4 stars


Good but not great book. The author certainly captures the snowy environment of a small Ontario town and keeps the story moving as we move from character to character. I liked the way plot points developed through each point of view.



Ulysses by James Joyce

5 stars


I had to check excellent, because how could I not with a work that is considered the greatest work of modernist literature. But Ulysses is a slog. Joyce created several distinct sections of the story of a single day in Dublin….June 16, 1904. Fantastic word pictures throughout, and some observations that are so unique, and a web of characters that he manages to keep aloft… but it is not an easy read. Take your time to appreciate the literary genius of the man who veers into drama in one very long section, punctuationless stream of lascivious consciousness in Molly’s soliloquy, and a catholic mass-type call and response section that contains superlative language and a lot of humour, too.



A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

5 stars


Possibly one of the greatest books I have ever experienced. The story-line centers around the unspeakable childhood trauma of one of the main characters and how everyone around him has adjusted their lives to deal with it. I could not put this book down. Although many parts are not for the faint of heart, it is a book that will leave an impression on you long after the last page has been read. Beautifully written and achingly honest.


Garden of evening

The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng

5 stars


A wonderful read! It includes much of the 20th century history of Penang and detailed information on the complexity of Japanese gardening. It is an illusive mystery and is intriguing and informative.



man seeks

Man Seeks God by Eric Weiner

5 stars


Only book I have EVER laughed out loud! Highly intelligent, witty,hilarious, thought provoking, best-of-its-kind-ever book. Educational and every page highly entertaining.




Sarong Party Girls by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

2 and half stars


This is about a Singaporean woman named Jazzy and her desperate quest to find a white husband. I picked up this book because I thought it looked like fun. But the quote on the front also intrigued me. Ruth Ozeki, author of A Tale for the Time Being, said that the author of this book was “saying something profound and insightful about the place of women in our globalized, capitalized, interconnected world.” When I started reading it, I found it funny and entertaining, yes. But I kept waiting for the depth and insight Ozeki seemed to have gotten out of this book…. I kept waiting for…. more. There must be more to it! This book has great reviews from Kirkus , National Book Award winners,  and celebrated authors such as Ozeki and Paul Theroux.  I was just expecting more from it. I was definitely left wanting.


Before the fallBefore the Fall by Noah Hawley

4.5 Stars


Before The Fall is like a cross between the Goldfinch and Gone Girl. It’s tempting to call this a a literary thriller but it’s so much more. The perfect summer read.




Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

4.5 Stars


Amazing book! What a read! It starts in 18th century Ghana with 2 half sisters and follows the lives of their children and their children’s children up to present day. Each generation struggles, living in Africa and America – wars, slavery, the civil rights movement. You can see how the lives of each generation effected the next. Well written and constantly engaging the reader. I loved this book!


Red Notice

Red Notice by Bill Browder

4.5 Stars


A true story that was so compelling, I could not put it down.
Bill Browder was a real maverick, and fighting against Putin, well, he’s amazing!



Curious CharmsThe Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick.

4 stars


Arthur Pepper, age 69, just lost his wife. Going through her things, he finds bracelet of hers that leads to clues about her former life before they met and fell in love. Arthur travels the world to discover more about his much-loved and missed wife. It’s a charming book about love, moving on and finding adventure and meaning after losing a love. He’s an endearing character.  Recommended.


LotteryLottery by Patricia Wood

5 stars


I really loved this book! It’s the story of a mentally challenged man who wins a 12 million dollar lottery. Written in the first person narrative, you really can understand how he’s thinking and feeling. Makes you remember that you can’t judge a book by its cover – or people by how they look. Such a good read. Highly recommended!


GratitudeGratitude by Oliver Sacks

5 stars


A short but profound book about the act/state of gratitude and how it enriches our lives.