Thursday, August 29, 2013

Michael R. Fletcher, author 88 reviews Shadow Song on Goodreads

's review 
Aug 28, 13

Read from August 20 to 27, 2013

Historical fiction is not my usual reading material; I tend more towards SF/F and rarely wander from those genres. I did not expect a story written from (initially) a very young female character's POV to hook me. Once I started, however, I had trouble putting it down. The writing is absolutely gorgeous. How Lorina Stephens achieved such beautiful language and yet still managed to keep it unobtrusive is a mystery.

Fans of historical fiction should definitely give this a read.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Review: The High Road, by Terry Fallis

The High RoadThe High Road by Terry Fallis
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It simply kills me to give Terry Fallis' comic sequel, The High Road two stars. Throughout the entire reading, and subsequent post-deliberation, I kept wondering why it was did I not only find Fallis' humour lacking, but sometimes outright condescending, and what was it about the story arc left me feeling as though I needed a real, fully-balanced meal instead of some meal replacement drink.

We again spend time with many of the main characters to whom Fallis introduced us in The Best Laid Plans. They walk on and off stage without much further development, little by way of evolution, and so Fallis leaves the interest and momentum of the novel to the plot. Which is perfectly fine. The plot, however, again looks vaguely familiar, with another unlikely campaign and election happening, the usual bout of falling on ice (instead of dog droppings), misadventures and misdemeanours. It's all rather deus ex machina.

The humour, however, devolves much in the way Canadian parliamentary procedure and decorum has devolved, smacking somehow of insincerity, self-service, and partisan posturing. This go round humour comes at the expense of anything or anyone ill-fitted to white male, middle-class, liberal privilege. The two keen youths, endearingly monickered Pete1 and Pete2, are ridiculed for architectural and colourful hair, body art, as well as artistic expression in their clothing choices. Fat people are shoved into stereotypes and ridiculed. Middle-aged women are likewise labelled. After awhile the entire slap-stick, heavy-handed humour wears thin to the point I kept listening for the percussive ba-doom-ching of the vaudeville band.

Along with what is, in my opinion, failed humour, is a condescension by way of education and literacy which in itself became humorous, simply because our erstwhile hero, Angus McLintock, on his way to correcting the abuse of the English language to any who dare speak, was foiled by poor copy-editing and proof-reading. There were many instances of a missing comma in dialogue, or a mis-spelling. Normally I would simply read over these omissions and forgive them as the foibles of human nature. But when you have a main character painstakingly particular about correct grammar and punctuating skills, well, you had better bloody well be sure the grammar and punctuation is perfect. Terry, your self-published first novel was better-edited than this sequel, I'm sorry to say.

All considered, a disappointing sequel to what had been a brilliant debut.

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Review: Indian Horse, by Richard Wagamese

Indian HorseIndian Horse by Richard Wagamese
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A CBC Canada Reads book, top 100 Globe and Mail listed, critically acclaimed, much discussed, Richard Wagamese's novel Indian Horse is deserving not only of accolades but your time. This is simply an excellent, fundamentally Canadian novel, beautifully and sparingly written, with grace, poise, banked passion and heartbreaking insight.

Although a work of fiction, Wagamese draws from the lives of people he has known and lost, and because of that resonates with much earlier works by other great authors who wrote about similar struggles: John Howard Griffin's seminal work, Black Like Me, and even the now classic novel by Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Wagamese tells the story of Saul Indian Horse, from happy Ojibway boy in Canada's bush, to bitter urban man who is flotsam in the wreckage created by white oppression, residential school brutality and hypocritical Canadian society. But this is also a story of discovery, of hope, of healing. And should be required reading for every individual in this nation.

Much of Saul's insight and struggle revolves around the boon and bane of hockey, which in essence becomes a metaphor for his life. His triumphs on the ice are the triumphs of his soul. His defeats and destruction at the hands of players and fans is his defeat in residential school, the logging camps and mines. The epiphany and vision he finds in hockey, is the epiphany and vision he finds for his own life. One universe coexists in tandem with the other. And all of this told in a highly readable and compelling manner.

If you haven't already read Indian Horse I urge you to go out right now and purchase a copy.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Review: Soul Music, by Terry Pratchett

Soul Music (Discworld, #16)Soul Music by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

We return to Death in this Discworld edition, by Terry Pratchett, which is a re-examination of the hell-spawned musical instrument, and a spoof on rock and roll.

Light-hearted, undemanding, there are some moments of chuckling, and generally entertaining escapism.

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Review: The Winter Palace, by Eva Stachniak

The Winter Palace: A Novel of Catherine the GreatThe Winter Palace: A Novel of Catherine the Great by Eva Stachniak
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Winter Palace, by Eva Stachniak is an absorbing, well-written read, spare on embellishment, indicating an author sure of her craft and subject.

The story chronicles the rise of Catherine the Great of Russia through a subsidiary character, that of a young woman adopted into the intrigues and espionage of the Russian court. Throughout the narrative Stachniak, an Amazon Canada First Novel Award Winner in 2000, weaves an intimate knowledge of environment and impeccably researched historical detail.

This is an excellent read.

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