Questioning Humanity in “Company Town”


Company Town by Madeline Ashby
Angry Robot: May 17, 2016
Genre: Science Fiction
Source: Free From Publisher

Outstanding Adventure!

Company Town is a science fiction novel that checks all my boxes: great characters, a compelling plot, and complex ideas that aren’t bogged down by didacticism and explanations.

Hwa is a young woman living on an oil rig. On this self-contained ecosystem Hwa stands out. Hwa is one of the very few who does not have any augmentations that enhance her humanity. Hwa can’t fix herself with tech. As a result, Hwa constantly strives to be work harder than anyone else, a skill that lends itself well to her job: bodyguard to the prostitutes that work the rig. Hwa is dedicated to her job; however, when the Lynch corporation takes over the rig, the man in charge offers Hwa a new job as the bodyguard to Joel, the son and heir to the head of the Lynch empire. Why would a seemingly all-powerful corporate bigwig want Hwa, who cannot afford the most basic of upgrades, as bodyguard to his son? What does Hwa have that other bodyguards do not? Well, with technology comes certain vulnerabilities: (more…)


Teen Drama & Magic Potions in “Flannery”

26113800.jpgFlannery by Lisa Moore
Groundwood Books: May 1, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Free From Publisher

I’d go there again!

Flannery Malone is sixteen years old and she’s been in love with Tyrone O’Rourke since she was a little girl. Sadly, this love is unrequited. However, things start looking up when Flannery is paired with Tyrone on their entrepreneurship assignment. Together, they have to create a product, a product that up until this point there has been no desire on the part of consumers to actually own (apparently this is the basis of being an entrepreneur). Tyrone suggests that he and Flannery make magic potions for their assignment; after all people will be willing to spend their money on a magic solution “Especially if they start to believe in it” (p. 52). The funny thing is that people do start believing in Flannery’s potions. Now, if only Flannery had a magical solution to solve the problems in her own life. (more…)

Lyrical & Timely: “The Language of Secrets”

25530959Language of Secrets by Ausma Zehanat Khan
St. Martin’s Griffin: February 2, 2016
Genre: Mystery
Source: Free From Library

I’d go there again!

The Language of Secrets is the second of Khan’s Rachel Getty and Esa Khattak mystery series. After really enjoying the first book, The Unquiet Dead, I was eager to pick up the follow-up. Language of Secrets is just as compassionate and nuanced as the first book, partly because it hits so closely to home for Khattak. Not only is Khattak a Muslim investigating a group suspected of terrorism, his younger sister has just become engaged to the man purported to be the cell’s leader.

Assisting Esa is his partner, Rachel Getty. For Rachel, the case is not so emotional and she’s able to view the suspects with a more objective approach, providing some much needed balance to their investigative process. As part of the investigation, Rachel goes under cover at the mosque where the suspects of the cell appear to have met. It’s when Rachel starts interacting with the suspects that readers start to see the same vulnerabilities that Esa exhibits, and this makes both of them better investigators. (more…)

The Unquiet Dead

22545465The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan
Minotaur Books: January 13, 2015
Genre: Mystery
Source: Free From Library

I’d go there again!

The Unquiet Dead is a mystery set in Ontario, Canada. Esa Khattak is the director Canada’s Community Policing Section, which investigates minority-sensitive cases. Aided by his partner, Rachel Getty, Esa is called out to an apparent suicide that, at first blush, seems to have nothing to do with the type of work that Esa and his division examine. However, it soon becomes clear that Christopher Drayton is not the man he claimed to be and his hidden past may have gotten him killed. (more…)

Book Adventures Weekly: Issue 11

Not a good weeked for libraries, history, or books: A Moscow library housing 14 million books including historic texts went up in flames on Saturday. A Williamsburg, NYC warehouse in use as a record storage facility also burned on Saturday, amounting to a 7-alarm fire. Gothamist hints at foul play.

There’s this thing called CanadaReads. It’s a battle of the books, which this year focus on changing perspectives, broadening horizons, and challenging stereotypes. Finalists will be defended by a panel of celebrities in March. Lots of hubbub over Kristin Kreuk, Beauty in Beauty and the Beast (for those who don’t understand, it’s a CW production about a modern-day, yep, you guessed it, Beauty and the Beast), being one of the panelists. The five finalists are Intolerable, Ru, The Inconvenient Indian, And the Birds Rained Down, and When Everything Feels Like the Movies.

Anne Enright, author of The Gathering, has been appointed the first Laureate for Irish Fiction.

Just in time for the Super Bowl (OK, by the time this post is published, the Super Bowl will be over, but that’s just a technicality), the CBC has put out a list of “five football books to check out.” I’ve read books about hockey, but not football, so I can’t tell you how they are. But if you’re interested in football and love reading, well, you might want to check them out. Does anyone else find it interesting that this list comes from Canada?

Are you a reviewer? A blogger? A commenter? Nerds of a feather, flock together has a thought-provoking “blogtable” piece on the positive value of negative reviews. Well worth a read.

From the Department of Random, FUN Division

News A Ghostbusters reboot with an all-female cast. YES.

Snapshot of an age in “The Massey Murder”

18163741The Massey Murder by Charlotte Gray
Harper Collins: September 6, 2013 (Nonfiction)

My rating: I’d go there again vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3

My latest foray into nonfiction is Charlotte Gray’s fantastic Massey Murder: A Maid, Her Master, and the Trial that Shocked a Country. On the surface, Gray takes a look at a trial, but this book is much more. It’s a snapshot of Toronto during a time of change and turmoil. Women were fighting to be recognized as something more than wives and mothers, and Canadians were shipping off to Europe to fight on the front lines. The trial and the war do not initially make much sense being juxtaposed against one another, but the strength of Gray’s writing is in her ability to combine a seemingly unrelated trial to the larger scope of events that occupied the minds of an entire country.

In February 1915, eighteen year old, Carrie Davies shot and killed her employer, Charles “Bert” Massey. This act captured the attention of the masses for a short time in February, and showcases the divided attitudes and social codes of a city in flux. (more…)

On the eleventh day of Christmas, we encourage you to get in the winter spirit with a wintery book

wolvesThe Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney
Simon & Schuster, July 10th, 2007 (Historical Mystery / Confronting the Wilderness)

My rating: Outstanding adventure!

Jaclyn might not agree with me, but I find a certain majesty and beauty in winter. Sometimes, though, I need a little bit of help to appreciate all this season has to offer.

I borrowed The Tenderness of Wolves from the library as a “winter read,” one that would help me get through the snowy wintery February doldrums.

I did not expect it to be one of my favorite books that year. This book is absolutely mesmerizing.

The main narrator (first-person), is a middle-aged adoptive mother of a troubled teenage boy. Other narrators (third-person) include a young, new Company (Hudson Bay) agent, the local magistrate, the boy himself, the clever daughter of the local magistrate, a dapper sexagenarian in search of a mysterious bone tablet, and a young Norwegian widow, who does not fit into the religious community in which she finds herself. All the narrators are compelling characters, but even non-narrating characters are compelling. Each has their own past, often troubled, and some which intertwine.

The story opens when the main narrator, Mrs. Ross, finds the body of one of her neighbors, the only French man in the town of Caulfield near Georgian Bay, in 1866. (more…)