Posts Tagged ‘ARC’

1st September
2010
written by Steph

There’s nothing I love more than a pun (see above), except maybe books that have puns in them. If you feel similarly, you may want to check out Kraken by China Miéville, which Tony reviewed for the BookPage website recently. According to his review (which you can read in its entirety here), this latest novel by Miéville is filled with wordplay galore, as well as a giant squid. Fantasy isn’t normally my bag, but I admit that Tony’s review has me intrigued, and I’m sure it won’t be long before I dip into the ARC we still have lying around our apartment. I’ve been wanting to read Miéville for a while, and if puns are my first love, giant beasts from the depths of the ocean run a close second. I also wrote a web exclusive for BookPage this month, reviewing Nigel Farndale’s The Blasphemer. You may have read about this book if you follow any British book blogs, but I’m happy to announce The Blasphemer is finally making its way to a U.S. audience. I loved the varied storylines and wrought interpersonal conflicts in this book that spans several lifetimes. Loved the lyricism of the writing, and the ambitiousness of the novel’s scope. No giant squid in this one, but I still hope this book finds an audience. For more of my thoughts on this one, read my full review here.
11th August
2010
written by Steph

Today I wrote a little guest post over at The Book Case in which I tease a portion of Nicole Krauss' upcoming novel, Great House (a.k.a. the literary event everyone is holding their breaths over). I actually had the great honor of chatting with Krauss yesterday about the book for a feature I'll write for the October issue of BookPage, celebrating the release of her third book, which certainly stoked the flames of my enthusiasm. If you're jonesing for something to tide you over, pop over and check out my post, in which I speak rhapsodically about the wild excitement this book has inspired.
7th August
2010
written by Steph

Expect the unexpected!

I suppose if I had been patient I could have included this review in my "August Review" post, but I wasn't and I didn't so it'll get a shout-out of its own. For BookPage I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Matthew Dicks' second novel, Unexpectedly Milo, which is in stores now. For longish-time readers of this blog, you'll remember I read his debut, Something Missing, last year, which featured a rather endearing and unusual catburglar as its protagonist (note: Martin did not actually steal cats), and I was duly charmed. So when I saw Dicks had a second book out I was very excited indeed, and I'm happy to report that excitement was not misplaced. Unexpectedly Milo features another oddball hero, this time a man who struggles with incorporating some rather intense (not to mention intensely bizarre) compulsions into his daily life. Alongside working as an aide to the elderly and infirm, and trying to keep his sinking marriage from becoming a total quagmire, Milo also juggles the need to crack ice from icecube trays, sing "99 Luftballons", and sometimes smash a weeble between doors and their frames. And let's not even get started with his Smuckers grape jelly fixation... Oh, and did I mention that despite these rather kooky desires, Milo has managed to keep them secret from everyone he holds near and dear for his entire life? Talk about stressful. Rather than saying more about the thrust of the plot here, I'll direct to you my BookPage review, which you can read here. Once more I was delighted and entertained by Dicks' foray into the lives of those who live somewhere left of center. I love that you never know exactly what to expect with his novels, except of course that you're in for a cracking good read. If Dicks continues his pace of publishing one book per year, at least we readers who like something a little bit out there will be assured of having one unabashedly fun read per annum. Highly recommended.
14th July
2010
written by Steph

Even casual readers of this little blog probably know that I have a deep admiration for Tana French. An admiration that perhaps borders on the cusp of obsession. I devour her books when I get my hands on them, and find myself completely absorbed by the world and the characters she so skillfully crafts for her readers. I’ve been to Ireland, and yet reading French’s books, I sometimes feel like her fiction is more vivid and real than my own experiences! It could be that she draws back the veil on a culture and a people the way that only a native Dubliner can, but I also think it’s just a testament to how compelling an author she is. She could probably write about my hometown of Toronto and make me think I’ve never even set foot there! 😉 Last year after reading French’s debut novel, In The Woods, I prowled the apartment restlessly until The Likeness made its way to me from the library. I was so caught up by French’s characters, I pretty much couldn’t read anything else in that time in between. I just wanted more. I tried to pace myself, but I pretty much rampaged through The Likeness, loving every moment of it, only to feel utterly bereft at the end of it. Why? Because I had exhausted all of French’s published works to date. What was an avid fan to do? (more…)
28th May
2010
written by Steph
My review of Eleanor Catton's debut novel (which was long-listed for The Orange Prize!) is now up as a web exclusive at BookPage! I was really excited to read this book as I'd heard so many interesting things about it from U.K. book bloggers (it was just released in the U.S. last week). From the first page I was hooked; I loved the writing especially, but above and beyond that, I think Catton has written an extremely bold and provocative novel about girls on the cusp of womanhood. It is not a simple, straightforward narrative, but I relished its ambiguity and its fearlessness. If this is Catton's first novel, then I can't wait to see what she comes up with in the future. My only disappointment is that the book did not appear on the short-list for the Orange Prize, something I consider to be a huge oversight on the judges' part. Read my review at BookPage for a further thoughts, but please do not let this book pass you by! Rating: 4.5 out of 5
19th April
2010
written by Steph

We're halfway through April (ack!), but it's never too late to share a review!  For the BookPage website, I reviewed The Hand That First Held Mine, and you can read my thoughts here. I admit I was drawn to the book because of its gorgeous cover (even the ARC was visually striking), but I wound up with more than just a pretty book in the bargain. I knew from the first few pages that O'Farrell's writing was elegiac but crisp, a combination I found intoxicating.  I soon found I had a mesmerizing psychological drama, familial thriller and love story all rolled into one on my hands.  And I loved it.  It swept me away, and I was moved by both the prose and the plot. I gulped this novel down and was sad for it to end.  It was my first novel by O'Farrell, but I know it won't be my last.  I've already been scouring the shelves for her 2006 novel, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, because I need to read more of what this woman has written! Loved the complexity and subtlety of this one, and would highly recommend it. Rating: 4.5 out of 5 [P.S. Yes, "ARC" means I got the book for free... but my time is not, and it was a good investment!)
5th April
2010
written by Steph

A cracking good read

I first heard about this book over at Farm Lane Books, back when it had first won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.  It isn’t a book that I necessarily would have been drawn to on my own, but Jackie’s review of this controversial (due to its content) novel, certainly piqued my interest.  So, when I saw an ARC pop up at BookPage that no one else wanted, I nabbed it and dove right in. The Slap follows several families based in Melbourne, Australia, who come together for a barbecue.  At this gathering, one of the adults slaps a young child who is acting out, but this causes a huge kerfuffle because it is not his own child he has physically reprimanded.  The resulting chapters take us through the chaos that ensues over the subsequent weeks, which we witness through the eyes of various characters.  We aren’t just privy to the direct fall out of the slap itself and how that issue is resolved, but also the various ways in which the characters' lives are disturbed, in some senses irretrievably. (more…)
4th March
2010
written by Steph

Now this is good cover art!

After the emotional turmoil of The House of the Spirits, I felt I needed a change of pace.  I wanted a book that was light and somewhat frivolous; a real literary palate cleanser. Y’all know that I like serious, sobering fiction, but I also have a penchant for quirky literary fiction as well.  Something Missing by Matthew Dicks definitely fit the bill! Martin is anything but your run-of-the mill thief.  Rather than lowering himself to the level of odious “smash and grabbers”, Martin cultivates long-standing relationships with his clients, visiting certain households on a fixed schedule and liberating them of certain items that are unlikely to be missed.  This means stocking up on toilet paper, food items, and the occasional bottle of Draino.  Of course, he does nab a few big-ticket items once in a while, but these feats of larceny require months of cautious surveillance and careful planning. Martin attributes much of his success to strictly adhering to a set of rules he’s established for himself, which he refuses to deviate from.  Only, one day while on a job, things don’t go quite as planned and many of his rules fly out the window.  Martin soon finds himself making up new rules as he goes, all in a bid to make the lives of his clients just a little bit better.  After all, seeing how much they’ve given him, it doesn’t seem too much to ask that Martin give a little something back, right? (more…)
1st March
2010
written by Steph

My review for the March issue of BookPage is now online and can be read here!  This month I covered the third novel by Oscar-nominated screenwriter, Peter Hedges.  The story deals with a youngish couple struggling to raise a family in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood, all while trying to fulfill their own goals and dreams and keep their relationship on solid ground.  Naturally, something’s gotta give, but I’ll leave it up to you to read and find out what that thing is. The book reminded me a lot of Richard Yates’s Revolutionary Road in terms of its scope and the issues it deals with, but the tone could not have been more different.  While I found Yates’s novel unrelentingly sad and pessimistic, I appreciated the light touch Hedges uses here, and his witty sense of humor was necessary to counteract some of the rather dark and grim moments.  Rather than feeling this novel dragged me down, I instead read it compulsively, finishing it in a single day and pretty much in one sitting.  I can’t remember the last time I did that with a book, so that should tell you something about how addictive this book is.  It was kind of like sitting down to eat a big bag of M&Ms (or whatever your candy of choice is), but without feeling you’ve ODed on sugar afterwards.  In some ways this book is brain candy, but it's still got some vitamins and is plenty good for you. Anyway, I enjoyed the novel a good deal and highly recommend it especially if family melodramas are your thing.  Check out my official review if you’re interested in more coherent thoughts! If I were reviewing this (FREE) book on the site, I would have given it a 4 out of 5.
25th February
2010
written by Tony

When a piece of metal rusts, it is like a cancer. The oxidation spreads slowly, bubbling the paint before it erupts to the surface like an angry weal that can only be removed and patched over with a new piece of uncorrupted metal. After a certain point the rust can’t be stopped and the entire affected area has to be removed to protect the rest of the undamaged metal. And, even if it is stopped, there is always the risk of return, there is never remission. A chip leads to a flake which exposes the metal’s strength to the corruption of the air and the rust returns, requiring constant vigilance. Set amidst the ruins of a beautiful but economically devastated Pennsylvania steel town, American Rust tells the story of the slow decay of the people trapped by the gutted city of Buell and the prison of its influence. The strength of steel is slowly eroded by the creeping influence of rust born of neglect, and as rust slowly spreads across the closed mills of Buell it becomes apparent that the residents of the doomed city are decaying as surely as the ruins left in the shadows and smoke of the once vibrant smelters and factories. (more…)
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