Mystery Monday | Glass Houses by Louise Penny

Mystery Mondays

Mystery Mondays is an occasional review feature here on Words of Mystery that showcases books in the mystery (and on occasion thriller) genre that we are currently reading and our thoughts on them. Feel free to comment and leave suggestions as to what we should read and review next.

Who is it by? Louise Penny is a former journalist and radio host with the CBC. The authour of the best selling Chief Inspector Gamache series, Glass Houses is her 13th book in the Inspector Gamache series. She currently lives with in a small village south of Montreal with her dog, Bishop.

What is it about? A mysterious figure is haunting the village of Three Pines, and Armand Gamache, now the Chief Superintendent and Head of the Sûreté du Québec can’t help but feel uneasy. This is confirmed when a body is found leading to a court case with Ganache as a key witness. As the court proceedings continue, it’s clear that there is more to this homicide case than its initially seems. With the Crown prosecutor and Gamache almost at each other’s throats, regardless of the decision the outcome and revelations from this trial will have a much greater effect than anyone could have anticipated.

Where does it take place? While the mysterious figure and murder occurs in Three Pines, the trial in this book seems to take place in Montreal which is where the head office of the Sûreté and Palais de Justice are located.

Why did I like it? Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series has become somewhat of a tradition for me. As every year I look forward to the next book in the series. Once again, Louise Penny does not disappoint with her latest book. Glass Houses starts off differently compared to the other Gamache books that I’ve read. Beginning in the present with Gamache as a witness in a trial in Montreal before moving back to some time back when mysterious and silently threatening figure first appeared in Three Pines, Glass Houses manages to move back and forth in time without too much confusion for the reader. With its unexpected twists and turns throughout, I loved how the trial was only a minor piece of a more exciting and clever plot.

Like all of her books, Glass Houses excels at being thrilling and shocking yet also uplifting and (subtlety) hilarious when you least expect it. Perhaps it was partly a result of the authour’s personal loss during the writing of this book, but I found Glass Houses to be incredibly heartbreaking yet so full of love and warmth at the same time. And getting to visit Three Pines and be right there with all the characters that I’ve come to love like Gamache, Jean Guy, Isabelle Lacoste and even Ruth has made it even more sad to have to say goodbye to them once more. However, I’m hoping we’ll get see them soon in a year and hopefully in a new book as I’m intrigued as to where the story with go next after the ending in Glass Houses.

When did it come out? August 29th 2017

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

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Midweek Mini Reviews #9

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

If you follow my blog, you will know that I loved Alice Hoffman’s last book, Faithful. However, I was a bit reluctant to pick up her latest book The Rules of Magic as I never got into Practical Magic and wasn’t sure it would be my cup of tea. For those who are familiar with Practical Magic, you will recognize the world and a couple of the characters in The Rules of Magic. However, it’s not necessary to be familiar with Practical Magic as The Rules of Magic is a prequel and can definitely be enjoyed as a standalone. In The Rules of Magic we become acquainted with the characters of Franny, Violet and Jet who are all endowed with magical gifts. I especially loved that we see Franny and Jet grow up from little girls to old women. Getting to see their thoughts and motivations made me want to root for them even more and it was nice to see that the tragic Owens curse didn’t completely stop them all from love and happiness. Similar to her other books, Hoffman’s writing whisks you away to the world of the characters so that you feel as if you are right there beside them as they go through life. I’m glad I ended up picking up The Rules of Magic as I was able to discover yet another enchanting and magical book.

Basic Witches: How to Summon Success, Banish Drama, and Raise Hell with Your Coven by Jaya Saxena & Jess Zimmerman

The idea and history of witchcraft has always fascinated me enough so that it lead me to picking up Jaya Saxena and Jess Zimmerman’s Basic Witches: How to Summon Success, Banish Drama, and Raise Hell with Your Coven. With the exception of the various “spells” and “rituals” Basic Witches at its core reads like any other self-help book. Empowering and female positive, I adored the beautiful illustrations and the straightforward and non-judgemental voice of the book. And while I wasn’t all that into the “spells” I loved learning about the feminist history that surrounds most of the stereotypical witchcraft beliefs and practices. Additionally, the “spells” are relatively easy to do and some of them do seem fairly reasonable as well as practical. For instance, I truly enjoyed the information on smellomancy as well as the cooking magic suggestions as I definitely agree that warm milk and honey are perfect for when you want to relax. A fun, light-hearted and unique read that’s perfect for the modern young woman who needs a little extra “boost” in life.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

 

Book Review | Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

Authour:
Gabrielle Zevin
Format:
E-galley
Publication date:
August 22nd 2017
Publisher:
Algonquin Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
I adored Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, and was intrigued by the synopsis of Young Jane Young as it focuses on the relationships between mothers and daughters.

Young Jane Young is told through multiple perspectives, starting with the mother of the titular “Jane” who is actually Aviva Grossman, a former intern who had an affair with the Florida congressman she worked for. Afterwards, we are filled in on what happened to Aviva now going by the name, “Jane’s” before moving on to the perspective of Embeth, the congressman’s wife. I also liked that we see how Jane’s decisions still have an impact on her life several years later. And it’s interesting how the author chooses to have the last chapter in the book be styled in a Choose Your Own Adventure manner as it gives the reader greater insight into “Jane’s” thought process when she was younger. However, this was a bit confusing at first as I was reading an e-galley copy and couldn’t turn the pages, though I eventually realized that it wasn’t actually a chapter where the reader is actually given the opportunity to “choose” what happens as “Jane” has already made her choices.

It’s wonderful to have women be the dominant voice in this kind of political narrative for once, and Zevin does an excellent job of making each woman feel like a real person that the reader can empathize with. An engrossing, and a surprisingly empowering read at times, Young Jane Young takes the refreshing approach of focusing on the women who are affected by a political scandal making it equal parts entertaining and enlightening.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | I’ll Have What She’s Having by Erin Carlson

Authour:
Erin Carlson
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
August 29th 2017
Publisher:
Hachette Books
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
I’ve only seen a few of Nora Ephron’s films, although I will admit that I’m a fan of her writing more than I am of her movies. However as a person who loves rom coms, I can definitely appreciate what she has done for the romantic comedy genre. Thus I was, why was looking forward to picking up Erin Carlson’s I’ll Have What She’s Having: Nora Ephron and the Three Movies that Changed Romantic Comedy.

Written from an omniscient yet also objective and observer-like perspective, reading I’ll Have What She’s Having akin to watching a biopic/documentary of Nora Ephron and her most well-known filmography. With my interest in writing, I loved that readers are given a glimpse at the behind the scenes happenings of several of Ephron’s most iconic movies in addition to Ephron’s early life and upbringing.

Reading through I’ll Have What She’s Having, it’s clear that author has truly gone out of her way to conduct an extensive amount of research to ensure that the voices of all the “players” in the three movies seem authentic and believable. I also appreciated learning tiny tidbits about the Ephron family, such as the “Tao of Phoebe” (Nora’s mother) which is all about owning your slip ups and making it into a story where you appear as the “lead”/”hero” as it helps us to understand how Ephron’s upbringing shaped her writing and as a result her films.

Fans of Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail and even film lovers in general who grew up with these movies will definitely feel nostalgic after reading this book. More than just an homage of one of the most notable and distinctive voices, I’ll Have What She’s Having also reads as a “love letter” to movies especially those in a genre that is often looked down upon.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Fall Books Preview 2017

Fall marks the return of school, and the return of people coming back to work from their summer vacation. But book lovers may also know it as the prime “book season”, when many great releases are out, serval literary festivals are happening and the major book awards are given. This month I had the opportunity to attend two different fall book previews each with amazing author guests, and  so instead of doing a full event recap for each event I thought I’d highlight a few of the titles from both that I’m looking forward to.

Penguin Random House

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin (Out Now)

This one is one that I’ve actually read before the preview. It’s about a young woman who as an intern has an affair with her married, a congressman. Told from various points of views including the woman, her mother and the congressman’s wife this book unexpectedly became one of my favourites for it’s incredibly female empowering message. A review of this book will be up on the blog some time next week.

Smitten Kitchen: Every Day Triumphant & Unfussy New Favourites by Deb Perelman (October 24, 2017)

I don’t often cook or bake, but when I do I tend to visit food blogs for inspiration. I stumbled upon the Smitten Kitchen blog last year when I was looking for recipes for my Christmas cookie swap with my friends. I love the simplistic blog layout, gorgeous photos and the easy to follow recipes. It’s been more than four years since the last Smitten Kitchen book and based on the previews, this one promises the usual drool worthy food photos and family friendly, accessible recipes. For those of you interested, Deb Perelman will be coming to Canada for a signing at Chapters Bayview on October 26!

Unqualified by Anna Faris (October 24, 2017)

This one is rather interesting seeing as Anna Faris and her husband, Chris Pratt have just announced that they’re separating. Chris is still confirmed to be doing the foreword to the book as announced earlier. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book but after reading an excerpt of her book where she talks about how its importance of friendships especially female friendships outside of your romantic relationships, I found her writing to be relatable and interesting so I’ll definitely be picking this one up. Unqualified has been suggested as being a must read if you’re a fan of Faris’ podcast or even if you enjoy funny, female memoirs.

Christmas at the Vinyl Cafe by Stuart McLean (October 31, 2017)

I grew up with CBC radio, and Stuart McLean’s Vinyl Cafe show was one of the staples of my Canadian childhood. Sadly with his passing earlier this year, 2017 will be the first year without a Vinyl Cafe Christmas special. This collection includes some previously recorded stories as well as some new ones, so I’m definitely excited for it as it would make for some perfect Christmas reading.

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce (November 7, 2017)

I adored Rachel Joyce’s The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy and after hearing abut The Music Shop, I’m eagerly anticipating this one as well. Inspired by a real life event, and taking place in the 1980s and featuring a record store where the owner has a “gift” for finding music that people need at a certain point in their life. Described as quirky and heartwarming and recommended for fans of Terry Fallis’ The Best Laid Plans this one is definitely on my must read list this fall. (I managed to get an ARC of this one, so stay tuned for my review of it on the blog)

HarperCollins (YA)

If There’s No Tomorrow by Jennifer L. Armentrout (Out Now)

I haven’t read anything by Jennifer L. Armentrout yet, but the tagline for this book “how can you move on if tomorrow isn’t guaranteed” has me intrigued. Also I looked up the synopsis of this one online and it sounds like it would be an interesting contemporary YA novel with the added bonus of a swoon-worthy book boyfriend! This one was recommended for fans of All the Bright Places as well as 99 Days.

One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake (September 19th)

I quite enjoyed Three Dark Crowns and am looking forward to more action in the sequel! This series is about a set of triplets who must fight to the death in order to become the next queen! Recommended for fans of complex, and messy sibling relationships and readers who love the fantasy genre.

Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West (December 26th)

So this one was my most anticipated titles out all the ones that were presented! I love a good contemporary YA novel and am a huge fan of the friends to lovers trope. Plus I love reading books were characters have their own bucket lists and are trying to check things off their list. This is mostly because I’ve always wanted to make a bucket list but could never really commit to doing one so its fun for me to live vicariously through others even book characters.

So what are you guys looking forward to this fall? Let me know in the comments below!

Book Review | In Some Other Life by Jessica Brody

Authour:
Jessica Brody
Format:
e-Galley
Publication date:
August 8th 2017
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
I truly enjoyed, Jessica Brody’s A Week of Mondays, and was intrigued by her latest book for its “sliding doors” like premise. Every person has their what-ifs moments and it’s fascinating to explore the idea of alternate universes that are created because of a different decision or choice a person makes.

In the case of In Some Other Life we follow Kennedy Rhodes, who regrets turning down her acceptance into the prestigious Windsor Academy after she discovers her boyfriend (whom she initially gave up Windsor Academy for) is cheating on her with her best friend! After an accident leads her to “fall” into an alternate universe, she gets to realize for herself what her life would be like if she had chosen to attend Windsor Academy.

I liked that there was no easy fix, and that a few things still stayed the same in her “new” world despite her making a different choice. I also found it hilarious, that her genius little brother was the one constant between both worlds and that it frustrated him to no end. I also enjoyed the dynamic between Kennedy and Dylan which made me wish we had just a bit more of their interaction together. And finally I found it refreshing to that this book featured a father who works at home while the mother is the primary breadwinner as this isn’t something you see as often in fiction or in YA novels.

 That said In Some Other Life was a fairly predictable story that prone to dragging on a little especially in the beginning of the book. However, I did like that the message was that although we may have regrets our choices they make us who we are. Additionally, even if you went down another path in your life, it doesn’t necessarily mean that things will go exactly how you imagined after all the universe is just that unpredictable.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Mystery Monday | Heart of the City by Robert Rotenberg

Mystery Mondays

Mystery Mondays is an occasional review feature here on Words of Mystery that showcases books in the mystery (and on occasion thriller) genre that we are currently reading and our thoughts on them. Feel free to comment and leave suggestions as to what we should read and review next.

Who is it by? Robert Rotenberg is a Canadian, Toronto based criminal lawyer and writer. Best known for legal thriller series, and for using real life Toronto locations in his book, Heart of the City is the fifth book in his Detective Greene series.

What is it about? It’s been some time since Ari Greene was falsely accused of murdering his lover, and although he was cleared of the charges he ended up fleeing Toronto. Now he’s back, but no longer as a homicide detective. Instead he finds himself in two new roles, one with his new job in construction and the other as a father to his newly discovered daughter. However, try as he might to avoid his past life, it seems like he can’t escape the call of murder and crime. This time however, the murder victim is condo developer Livingston Fox, who is technically his boss’s boss. As Greene once again finds himself at another crime scene, he is reunited with his former protégé, Daniel Kennicott and ends up becoming a part of the investigation.

Where does it take place? Ari Greene is back home in Toronto! And Heart of the City takes place in the Kensington Market neighbourhood.

Why did I like it? It’s been awhile since I’ve read any of Robert Rotenberg’s books. That being said, however, it was relatively easy to jump back into Ari Greene’s world and the characters of Rotenberg’s Toronto. Heart of the City was an incredibly well-written and fast paced mystery, especially as the chapters are all short in length. I also love that like all the other books, this one is set in Toronto as it was interesting to see real life places that I’ve been to or seen featured in a work of fiction. Furthermore, I like how Heart of the City focused on the real estate market and urbanization which are actually very real issues in Toronto at the moment.

Unlike the earlier books in this series, in Heart of the City there are less characters and perspectives which helped make the story more focused and less confusing to the reader. I also found the introduction of the character of Allison, Greene’s daughter to be a welcomed addition to the cast of characters. I like that she had her own storyline, but still was connected to the case. And while I was slightly disappointed by the ending and the identity and motive for the murders, overall Heart of the City was a solid read that left me curious to see what will come next.

When did it come out? August 1st, 2017

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Waiting on Wednesday #24 | Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch

wed Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that highlights upcoming titles that we’re looking forward to/dying to read. It is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine

Synopsis:

Addie is visiting Ireland for her aunt’s over-the-top destination wedding, and hoping she can stop thinking about the one horrible thing she did that left her miserable and heartbroken—and threatens her future. But her brother, Ian, isn’t about to let her forget, and his constant needling leads to arguments and even a fistfight between the two once inseparable siblings. Miserable, Addie can’t wait to visit her friend in Italy and leave her brother—and her problems—behind.

So when Addie discovers an unusual guidebook, Ireland for the Heartbroken, hidden in the dusty shelves of the hotel library, she’s able to finally escape her anxious mind and Ian’s criticism.

And then their travel plans change. Suddenly Addie finds herself on a whirlwind tour of the Emerald Isle, trapped in the world’s smallest vehicle with Ian and his admittedly cute, Irish-accented friend Rowan. As the trio journeys over breathtaking green hills, past countless castles, and through a number of fairy-tale forests, Addie hopes her guidebook will heal not only her broken heart, but also her shattered relationship with her brother.

That is if they don’t get completely lost along the way.

Jenna Evans Welch’s Love & Gelato, is probably one of my favourite travel themed YA novels so I was dying to see what Welch would write next. Turns out Love & Luck is a sort of spin-off of Love & Gelato (the covers even match), as it focuses on Lina’s friend Addie. I’m definitely looking forward to the Lina and Ren appearance as well as Addie’s story which promises a road trip through Ireland as well as some brother and sister bonding which I haven’t seen as much in books. Love & Luck is out in stores on August 29, 2017!

What books are you “waiting” on this week?