The Nest: More money, More problems

I’m gonna be honest with you, I read this book because it stood out to me on a shelf. (yes, yes, judging a book by its cover is not ok blah blah)

The Nest’s cover is so simple and elegant and promises a story about classy, sophisticated NewYorkers. My first impression was not too off actually. –

The book narrates life of four adult siblings who are about to gain access to a significant inheritance (the nest, as they call it) or so they think. They have all made significant life decisions with this money in mind. What they don’y know, is that their dear old brother has robbed them of their safety net with his hasty actions.

Melody, the youngest, needs to secure tuition for her twin daughters after years of living way above her means. Jack, an antiques dealer, has secretly borrowed a significant amount against the beach cottage he shares with his husband and is in danger of losing it. Bea, the once shining-star writer, is suffering from a serious case of writer’s block on an overdue novel and has already spent her advance. Amongst the Plumbs, she is the only semi-normal one who does not carry the burden a of a million self-inflicted afflictions. And then, there is Leo, the eldest and yet the most reckless brother. Ah, yeah, the Plumbs are dysfunctional alright. 

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 The story begins with us witnessing some of Leo’s ill-considered behavior first hand. A series of questionable decisions lands him in a rehab after he crashes his brand new Porsche, driving under the influence, with a 19 years old waitress (Matilda Rodriguez) in the passenger seat….yeah…rich people am I right?!

Continue reading “The Nest: More money, More problems”

The Ocean at the End of the Lane: How to survive an evil creature posing as your sitter

I have not been blogging for long and I must have mentioned Niel Gaiman in my posts at least 10 times by now. I really do believe he is the best thing since sliced bread. It’s as if all of his books have a hypnotizing pull that latches onto you the moment you start reading and his books often give me the worst case of readers hangover.

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“Ocean at the end of the lane”, like many of his other works, happens in a world almost like ours but touched by magic.

We met our hero who remains nameless as an adult coming back to his childhood home town for a funeral. He is a more or less well adjusted adult with an older sister and a family to surround him as he griefs. He has not been back in years and even he is not entirely sure why he has not been back. He wanders around town to clear his head and along the way he spots a duck pond. Is it a duck pond though? Or a sea? No, it’s the ocean, little Lettie Hempstock’s ocean. Once he realizes that, the memories rush back…
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It all started with his 7th birthday which no one showed up to. It did not bother him much though; he had his new batman action figure and new books to read.

“I lay on the bed and lost myself in the stories.

I liked that, books are safer than people anyway”

His average life slowly takes a turn for the worse as his family’s finances decline and he has to give up his room to a tenant. One of these tenants, a miner, triggers a series of surreal events. Our hero knows he is bad news the moment he arrives and kills his beloved kitten with careless driving.

He soon comes across the the farm and the pond at the end of the road. There are three women living in a house at the end of a lane – Old Mrs Hempstock, Ginnie Hempstock, and Lettie who claims the pond is in fact an ocean, HER ocean.

Triggered by suicide of the miner, an entity starts trying to make people happy by giving them money in most unpleasant ways. When our narrator wakes up choking on a nickel, Lettie knows it’s time to take action. Except things go wrong. Very, very wrong. Continue reading “The Ocean at the End of the Lane: How to survive an evil creature posing as your sitter”

Let’s leave series of unfortunate events to Lemony Snicket: Why I did not enjoy “My husband’s wife”

This is my first less than positive review. I love books and pride myself in never have put down a book half-read. This book however, is one of the few I was tempted to abandon half-way..

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My Husband’s Wife by Amanda Prowse

I actually picked this book up by accident. I meant to read “My husband’s wife” , a thriller, by Jane Corry but unintentionally reserved the one by Amanda Prowse. The book actually has noble intentions and I believe it can serve as a self-help book to people who have recently ended a long term relationship. The story is about Rosie, a devote wife and mother who is living her dream life until suddenly her husband leaves her for a younger rich woman and takes the children with him.

The plot does a great job of exploring Rosie’s sudden loss of identity. She realizes, that for years she has been simply her husband’s wife and her children’s mother. She doesn’t know who Rosie is and where to begin building herself back up. Her old childhood wounds caused by an absent mother are opened once more and she struggles to get back on her feet.

The beginning of the story is specially well written. We peek into Rosie’s troubled past, her absent mother and withdrawn father. The author then draws a beautiful picture of present day Rosie: She lives in a small town by the water, married for 10 years and, mother to two beautiful, energetic daughters. We read on as her seemingly perfect life falls apart.

Now, when I read a book, more than the plot, I care about style of writing. “My husband’s wife” did not do it for me when it comes to writing. The plot progresses into a series of horrible events in Rosie’s life that feels forced and unbelievable. It’s like the author kept thinking of new ways to make things worse and worse so if salvation comes, it will be more special. The unfolding of the whole ordeal just feels unreal and unnatural. (It’s worth mentioning that this seems to be Ms. Prowse’s style of writing. Check out the synopsis for some of he other books and you will see. Even the titles are depressing and every single one sounds like a cliche grim plot). Continue reading “Let’s leave series of unfortunate events to Lemony Snicket: Why I did not enjoy “My husband’s wife””

Bad ass women and war: The Alice Network

Alright before I get to the book I need to make a confession. Although historic fiction is my favorite genre to read, I had never read work of Kate Quinn before. I know, she almost exclusively writes historical fiction right? Well, shameful truth is that I never picked up one of her books in the passed because I committed the biggest sin a book lover can commit: I judged her books by their covers. To be honest, the cover on some of her other books made them look like the kinda hot fantasy novel you’d read in your late 50s on a cruise…. Totally my bad, because I finally read one of her books and it was awesome.

First of all,I love the narration style. The book is narrated from point of view two women from entirely different worlds. Charile: pregnant, unmarried, and from a very proper, un-approving family. Surprisingly enough, her “little problem” seem to be least of her worries. She runs away on her way to Europe, where she has “An Appointment” set by her parents, to go search for her beloved lost cousin in the messy aftermath of WWII in 1947.She does not have much aside from the cloth on her back and almost no leads. Charlie simply refuses to give up even though Rose has been missing for for years after disappearing in Nazi-Occupied France. Her only hope is Eve. An unhinged, alcoholic woman with a troubled past and a dark secret.

As the odd search party make their way tracing Rose’s steps, we get to take a look into Eve’s past. Her story begins in 1915, A year into the great war when one fateful afternoon changed her life forever. She is recruited to work as a spy and winds up under care of Lili, code named “Alice”, the queen of spies. We initially meet the 1947 Eve as a troubled woman with crooked hands, a bad temper and a severe drinking problem. As her story is unfolded we realize she has her own ghosts to chase and demons to hunt. Following a series of events which eventually brought doom to the “Alice Network”, Eve is wasting away in her dingy London house until a young American girl dressed in an expensive pink dress and heels barges into her house and demands her help. With a mysterious, secret motive, Eve decides to help Charlie. Eve’s cook/house help Roy also comes along. The dashing Scottish lad has his share of secrets and seems to be the only one who is not fast to harshly judge Charlie and her “little problem”

The inspiration for this book was Loiuse de Bettignies. She was a real spy and little known war hero. Courageous, intelligent and resourceful she ran a network of female spies who risked their lives every day in an effort to fight back the German invaders. While Loiuse and her network of female espionage are real, “Lily”, “Eve” and this particular story are an invention of the author. I suggest you look her up after reading this book and learn about the heroes history has betrayed.

“The Alice Network” touches an many different topics, narrates many lives as the story unfolds and drags you along with a touch of suspense. We learn of Charlie’s lavish and yet troubled family life. We get to know and sympathize with burden Eve carries around with her and we watch Roy slowly let out some of his secrets. The book is a breezy read with just the right tone, realistic characters and a breezy style of writing.  Pick up your copy today, take a trip back in time and munch on a batch of fresh croissants! Continue reading “Bad ass women and war: The Alice Network”

Talking dogs are only adorable on Disney: My review of “Fifteen dogs”

Fifteen dogs has got to be the most polarising piece of literature I have ever read. I recommend this book to a lot of my friends and they either LOVED it or HATED it. One thing is for sure, they all talked about the emotions regarding this book in caps lock. I think any book that can invoke such strong emotions is a winner. As a bonus, it’s by a Canadian Author, Andre Alexis.   

I personally think the most important point this book make is that when Gods make bets, they do not mess around.  

Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis

One fateful day Apollo and Hermes are walking down Bloor st, you know as Roman Gods often do, and the are discussing humans and their inability to be happy. Hermes thinks humans are flawed and can never be happy. That any other animal given the same tools as humans would be much happier. Apollo is not so sure and proposes a brotherly wager:

” I wonder”, said Hermes, “what it would be like if animals had human intelligence.”

” I’ll wager a year’s servitude, answered Apollo, that animals – any animal you like – would be even more unhappy than humans are, if they were given human intelligence.

They happen upon an animal hospital, go inside and grant human reasoning and language to….you guessed it, 15 dogs.

This book follows the adventure of these dogs as they navigate the world. You would think a story about talking puppers would be like a Disney cartoon right? WRONG. Turns out Apollo’s pessimism was not unjust. The pack of 15,Suddenly capable of more complex thought, is torn between those who resist the new ways of thinking, preferring the old ‘dog’ ways, and those who embrace the change. Andre Alexis goes really deep exploring human nature, now manifesting in a new form with different needs.

There are a few aspects of this book that fascinate me the most.

  1. How easily these so called Gods seem to fit in the human world. Having a drink, tipping their server with a lifetime of financial security and yet still remain all powerful, experimenting with mortals out of curiosity. Being immortal with literally all the time in the world, they are fascinated with concept of death, limited time to live and how that affects one’s choices. It was fascinating to me how the author beautifully balanced the omnipotent and human side of Apollo and Hermes. Their dad even makes an appearance at some point…ok, no spoilers
  2. Although the dogs now possess human intellect to reason and speak, they are still dogs. They still have the same needs and preferences. They still mark their territory with urine and act as a pack with the most strong male at the head of it. The writer has done a great job separating instincts and desires of a dog from a human’s even if they are suddenly as smart as one. I think part of the reason Hermes believed other animal could be happy with power to make intellectual choices, is he has little faith in humans to control their greed of always wanting more and never be content.

The book is a roller coaster of emotions and you will either be thanking me for introducing it to you or cursing my name and my children’s children for traumatizing you for life. I stand by my love for this book though. It gets philosophical just the right amount and paints an interesting picture encouraging the reader to think about our human nature and how we interact and respond to changes. It even touches base on religion and belief is higher power raising the question about whether God created us or we created him as these animals try to find meaning in their new life and deciding if they want to surrender to the new ways or stay true to their canine nature and become “the perfect canine”. The perfect specimen one of the dogs imagine to be guiding him to salvation. Continue reading “Talking dogs are only adorable on Disney: My review of “Fifteen dogs””

The night Circus: A circus of black and white and oh, so full of magic!

I decided to start with a crowd-pleaser. I have yet to meet a person who dislikes this book. Some people love it more than others. I was surprised at how much I loved it. Fantasy is usually not on top of my reading list (aside from Harry Potter, of course ♥) In a nutshell, this book is a “phantasmagorical fairy tale set near an ahistorical Victorian London.” Need I say more?

The night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern

This book has many colourful characters and a rather complex story. So much happens often at the same time, yet you never feel overwhelmed by the plot. I don’t read fantasy novels often and one of my reasons is that most fantasy novels have way too many characters, many of whom come and go with little impact just to complicate the storytelling. Erin Morgenstern does a great job of creating captivating, unique characters each with a quirk of their own. Stars of the show are Celia and Marco the power true controllers of The night circus. This circus is all in black and white, only runs sunset to dawn, and it’s the arena to a secret competition between Celia and Marco. Or rather between their teachers: Celia’s Father and Marco’s guardian and sponsor, the mysterious Mr. A.H.

Now here is the kicker: the rules to this competition–if any–are never discussed. I’m not sure if the teachers even know them all. The two young proteges basically take turns demonstrating their magic. I can only imagine their frustration. Imagine entering an “art” competition and that’s all the info you get. You have no idea what form of art the judges are looking for: who even are the judges? Is there any form of rubric? No? Shut up and create art like your life depends on it?…Okay…

While the regulations around this competition are rather arbitrary, one thing is made clear: things will not end well for the loser…or the winner for that matter. Along the way, we meet the winner of the last match with countless battle scars and a sorrowful tale to tell.

As if all that is not bad enough, we soon learn that the participants are not the only ones in danger. The life and health of every single character we come to know and love is at risk by just being on the arena: The night circus. Continue reading “The night Circus: A circus of black and white and oh, so full of magic!”