Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Bittersweet by Colleen McCullough

In Colleen McCullough’s last novel Bittersweet she tells the story of four sisters who all have dreams that are hampered by society’s attitudes of what women can and can’t do.

Set in Australia in the era between the first and second world wars, the sisters enroll in a training program for nurses in the hopes of escaping their domineering mother. As they settle into the routines and hardships of hospital life they meet people from all walks of life.

The sisters are challenged to push the boundaries that confine women in that time, and they all have different goals in mind. One wants badly to be a doctor, which was not a possibility for that time, another just wants to meet the right man and be a wife. The third sister wants to do something meaningful with her life and the fourth simply wants to be able to support herself.

McCullough seamlessly weaves in information about the history of nurse’s training in Australia and the development of modern pathology. Bittersweet is both a fascinating exploration of the bonds between sisters and a fine historical novel.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Such Wicked Intent by Kenneth Oppel

Such Wicked Intent is the second book in the Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein series.  It follows Elizabeth, Henry and 16-year-old Victor one month after the death of his identical twin brother, Konrad. 

Even though they are struggling to overcome their grief, they stumbles upon a mysterious journal that allows them to travel to the spirit world to find Konrad. In doing so, they open a portal that reveals their true character, both good and evil, and unlocks a beast that has the potential to destroy them all.

The characters are fearless and unaware of their own mortality. They believe they can travel back and forth into the spirit world and eventually bring Konrad back to life. The consequences are not what they expected and the evil that lies in the dungeons of the castle and the caverns of the spirit world threatens to destroy them all.

Written as a young adult novel, readers of gothic fiction will enjoy the quest for knowledge and power that transports Victor, Elizabeth and Henry into a dark and dangerous world. 

Kenneth Oppel knows how to keep a reader on the edge of their seat and hoping for more. Such Wicked Intent is an excellent read for those who like a truly spooky story that leaves you wanting more.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Rough Around the Edges Meets Refined by Rachael Anderson

Life for Noah Mackie seems to finally be back on track, he has great support, a new promotion on the way and he’s finally getting the hang of the whole single father thing. 

When suddenly the new job falls through and his neighbour’s matchmaking efforts become much more aggressive, Noah realizes he is in for an unwanted detour. Noah doesn't have time for dating with his career and two spirited daughters to worry about, but when Cassie Ellis, his girls' beautiful and sophisticated dance instructor gets thrown into his path things get complicated.

Rough around the Edges Meets Refined is about two people who think they know exactly what they want but who have no idea what they really need.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Meet Ove. He's a eccentric old man, the kind of man with strict routines, staunch principles, and a short fuse. But behind the cranky exterior there is a story, so when one morning a lively young couple with two young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove's mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale. All of which will shake one cranky old man and a local residents' association to their very foundations.

Moving and hysterically funny, “A man called Ove” is a heartwarming novel of life, loss, and unexpected friendships. For those people that prefer audio books this title is available from the eLibraries Manitoba website and is read by George Newbern.

You can find it by clicking the link!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Stalin’s Daughter by Rosemary Sullivan

This book is the biography of Svetlana Alliluyeva, the only child of Russian dictator Josef Stalin. It follows the story of her life, beginning with her childhood growing up in the Kremlin, and all the way to her death in 2011. It tells the extraordinary tale of a woman who despite her father’s lofty position, endured many of the same trials and hardships as the common Russian people.

As Svetlana grew up she began to realize that her father was not the kind man she thought he was, relatives and friends were imprisoned and by the age of twenty five the loving father she remembered from her childhood had turned into the cold and tyrannical man the rest of the world already knew. Two children and three failed marriages later Svetlana defected to the United States hoping to escape of her father’s name. However despite all her efforts Svetlana could not escape her birthright.

Though Svetlana moved often, both in the United States and England, even defecting back to Russia for a short time, the dark specter of her father followed her throughout her life. In the end, Svetlana Alliluyeva the princess of the Kremlin died Lana Peters of Wisconsin and though she was penniless, she had come to accept that she would always be thought of not as Svetlana, but as Stalin’s daughter.

Many people had no idea that Josef Stalin had a daughter (incidentally neither did the Americans when she first defected), and most of the accounts that you read of Stalin are political in nature. This book is fascinating because it lets you see Stalin from an entirely different view point, through the eyes of his own child, while still making it abundantly clear the Svetlana is not her father but her own person. The author writes in a manner that engages the reader and makes them feel as though they are beside Svetlana throughout her life. The reviewer thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in Russia or history in general.