Review Rendezvous: 6/16/18


The Lost Heifetz and Other Stories by Michael Tabor
Book stats:
Genre(s): Contemporary
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 348
Publish date: February 15th, 2018
Purchase: Barnes & Noble

38636428A musician has a life-changing encounter in a New York record store with a mysterious old man who may have known a brilliant violinist who was presumed to have died in World War II…

The Picture of Dorian Gray is revealed to be a pure fiction by one of the characters from the novel who explains what really happened to the infamous portrait and its subject…

An aspiring writer receives a surreal and mind-bending lesson in creative writing from a pawnbroker who deals in narrative voices…

The well-ordered life of a widower in a peaceful English village is disturbed by the arrival of a wealthy new resident who needs to be taught a lesson in respect…

An art dealer and an artist meet on vacation and embark on an intense affair that is tested by their redacted lives…

These and other stories and satires, set in the US and Britain, explore the lives, relationships, and search for fulfillment of men and women from many walks of life.

I must admit, this was a bit of a new type of book for me to read. I haven’t really read any novellas or novella collections unless they were attached to a larger series that I have already read. But, I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised with the book. I don’t have any experience to compare this one too, so I kept my expectations to myself this time.

Some would say that writing a short story is actually harder than a novel, because you have less words to squeeze the same plot points and descriptions into that a full-length novel does. But Tabor is able to weave the individual stories excellently, and you care for the characters just as much as if you’d had a whole book to get to know them.

The range of stories that this collection touches on is quite large. There’s the story of an old man who may or may not be a long-thought-dead violinist, a professional house-sitter with a few quirks of her own, and many more.

This book is great for readers who may like taking fiction in with smaller chunks. It’s easy enough to read just one short story and come back to it a bit later, so if you don’t feel like diving all the way in, this book is for you. You’ll find yourself enraptured in the characters for sure!

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:
HeartHeartHeartHeart


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Review Rendezvous: 5/5/18


Speed of Life by Carol Weston
Book stats:
Genre(s): Young adult, romance, contemporary
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 320
Publish date: April 1st, 2017
Purchase: Amazon РBarnes & Noble

SoLSofia wonders if 14 might be the worst possible age to lose your mom. Talking with her dad about puberty and s-e-x is super-awkward (even though he is a gynecologist). And when she wants to talk about her mom, her friends don’t know what to say and her dad gets sad.

When Sofia discovers Dear Kate, an advice columnist from Fifteen magazine, she‚Äôs grateful to have someone to confide in about everything from crushes to mourning‚ÄĒsomeone who is completely, wonderfully anonymous. It feels ideal‚ÄĒuntil Sofia‚Äôs dad introduces her to his new girlfriend, Katherine Baird, a.k.a., Dear Kate‚Ķ

Even though this book deals with harsh topics, there is still a sense of childish-ness and young discovery. I ended up loving Sofia’s character, despise the occasional flaws like a bit of naivety. These moments only serve to make her character that much more developed, and I loved her for it. She doesn’t instantly get over her family’s tragedy, and the journey to healing is very well represented, coming from someone who went through a similar situation.

You’ve gotta admit, Sofia’s situation is a bit of a pickle. The person who was once an anonymous comfort is now a real life person she can interact with, and it can be difficult to deal with that, no matter who you are. There are so many topics that a girl her age needs help with, and without her mom to guide her, Sofia is at a bit of a loss.

I loved reading in this writing style, Weston has a beautiful voice in her prose. There is such a broad range of characters the simply bring her story to vivid life, matching the equally brilliant (and lovely!) cover. I was hanging on every word, and even though I am several years past this age, I still loved it and found myself enthralled.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:
HeartHeartHeartHeart


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Review Rendezvous: 4/28/18


Two Halves Whole by Melissa Abigail
Book stats:
Genre(s): Young adult
Medium: Kindle
Number of pages: 254
Publish date: November 20th, 2017
Purchase: Amazon

THWSeventeen-year-old Ryu Debiru thought he had everything under control, thought he knew exactly where his life was headed after graduation (assuming he makes it to graduation).

That was until the girl he hated became the girl he could no longer ignore. 

Perhaps his secret life is no longer something he can keep secret. 

Or maybe it is.

Although, it seems like the¬†entire city¬†is harbouring secrets.¬†What‚Äôs one more?¬†Sure it might hurt a few people, even Ryu himself.¬†Hey, he’ll survive. He‚Äôs survived worse.¬†

Except sometimes… the truth comes out in ways one doesn’t expect. Then what? What happens when just surviving is no longer enough? What happens when even the truth is fatal?

I definitely enjoyed reading the second installment in this series. I tend to get somewhat frustrated with slower works, such as the first piece, but this book managed to bring a lot more in depth and intrigue. In the last book, we left off right as Ryu and Haruna were making amends, but things never stay perfect for long. Ryu’s path as a young gangster is certain to mess things up sometime.

There’s something to be said about how the book manages to address racism. In the past, young adult literature has been hesitant to say much about it, so it’s refreshing to see it addressed for once. Haruna is not afraid to say something when things are wrong, which is admirable.

While the book does fall prey to the occasional cliche, it is still a very well-written piece of work. The Japanese tones for a book set in Canada make for an interesting setting, but it is not so distracting as to take from the main focus of the book. This one is well worth a read, so go take a look!

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:
HeartHeartHeartHeart


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Review Rendezvous: 4/21/18


The Rushing of the Brook by Kansas Bradbury
Book stats:
Genre(s): Thriller, mystery
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 276
Publish date: July 5th, 2017
Purchase:¬†Amazon¬†– Barnes & Noble –¬†Book Depository

TRotBIt‚Äôs 1987, and a dark shadow is about to fall upon the city of Sifton and its residents. Hayward Barry and his best friends‚ÄĒJoe, Davey, and Pete‚ÄĒare typical fifth- and sixth-grade boys, hanging out after school and getting into trouble. However, powerful urges and deep feelings have begun to grow in the boys as they approach young adulthood; for Hayward, this is his affection for Beth, a girl in his class who he fears will be swept away by another boy named Daniel. For Pete, it is a volatile temper and the desire to always get his way. When Davey is given something that Pete wants, it sets off a disastrous chain of events that strips them all of their childhood, drowning their innocence to the sound of a rushing brook‚ÄĒa sound none of them will forget.

As misery and happenstance would have it, the day tragedy strikes Hayward and his friends, a murderous monster awakes from hibernation in a town miles away. Getting into a stolen vehicle with bloody clothes and an unspeakable lust for violence, the nameless man drives towards Sifton, wreaking destruction and horror along the way. While his story won‚Äôt collide with the boys‚Äô lives until seventeen years later‚ÄĒwhen they have all grown up‚ÄĒthis man will reopen old wounds and awaken the trauma that has never healed. Hayward, now a failed artist and reluctant police officer, is left to pick up the pieces of a shattered community and solve the mystery of the event that has come to dominate his life.

One of the first things that interested me in this book was the split setting. One half is when the boys are young, and then we move into the future (17 years later, to be specific) to see how this has affected them later in life. I will admit, it is a bit of a shorter book, or maybe that’s just because of the different settings that it seems shorter.

If you’re a fan of suspense and murder and all that jazz, you’ll definitely want to pick this one up. Bradbury does a good job of fleshing out the characters and showing real change from their kid lives to their adult personas. He also contrasts the horror and suspense with family and friends and other relationships, which give the tale a grounding that some other stories in the same genre miss. It’s because we have the ability to connect to the characters in those moments that we can then go on to let ourselves believe in the other, more extreme circumstances.

I will admit, this isn’t usually the type of book I go after, but I was pleasantly surprised. I have read a few good mystery/horror types, and this one deserves a place beside them. It was slightly hard for me to get into the heads of the characters as they are quite different from myself, but Bradbury writes them in a way to still be relatable. Also, there is a bit of language, so keep that in mind if you’re thinking about letting younger readers take a crack at it.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:
HeartHeartHeartHeart


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Review Rendezvous: 4/7/18


The Last Man by Tobias Wade
Book stats:
Genre(s): Young adult, fantasy, philosophy
Medium: Kindle
Number of pages: 646
Publish date: September 2017
Purchase: Amazon

TLMEmbark upon the fantasy story of enlightenment through these seven surreal worlds.

Test your bravery to pass the land of fear and pain. 
Resist temptations to pass the land of pleasure. 
Clear your mind to pass the land of illusion. 
Trust your heart to pass the land of love and loss. 
Keep your word to pass the land of truth and lies. 
Know yourself to pass the land of identity. 
Forsake the world to pass the land of attachments.

All the while pursuing a desperate course to the center of the Earth where a primordial force awaits its freedom with the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy. 

An epic and insightful adventure filled with magic, monsters, dragons, betrayal, and transcendence!

Before I begin, let me clarify things just a bit. This review is for the entire series, but the books can be read individually. That being said, I may end up with a few mild spoilers even though I try not to include them in my reviews.

Our main character Farris is quite the unlikely hero. The only reason that she is drawn into this quest is because she wants to save her brother Tom, who has become a victim of the ‘chosen one’ trope. I will admit, it was quite interesting to see a book from the perspective of someone who disbelieves everything in the beginning, only to be forced on the adventure later. Most of the time, people just blindly except crazy things, so I liked that her main motivation was her brother, rather than saving the world.

Farris must work her way through six different ‘layers’ of the earth, each containing a species that has long left the surface of the world after a great battle between man and serpent. The two were locked in mortal combat and sealed away, and now Tom has been selected to open it and see who has won after many years.

The series is mostly from Farris’ point of view, though we do get a few chapters with Tom, Sasha (Farris’ love interest) and with one of their companions on the trip. Farris is also certainly not perfect by any means, and may even seem crazy at times. There’s something endearing about a flawed character that makes the story even better.

Also, while there is romance (Farris has been crushing on Sasha for a while at the beginning of the book), her price for beginning the journey is all her memories of him, so that complicates things a bit. The romance is also such a side plot that it doesn’t distract at all, which is a very nice change from other YA.

All in all, great series. Loved how it contrasted with the majority of the books and themes I’ve read recently. Definitely a bit philosophical and hard to decipher at times if, like me, you’ve had a long day and you’re brain dead. But, still worth the read, and highly recommended ūüôā

I was provided with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:
HeartHeartHeartHeart


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