Tag: Books: First Reads


Review: Beartown

Posted 24 April, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

Beartown
By: Fredrik Backman
Format/Source: Advanced Reading Copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster CA

Winning a junior ice hockey championship might not mean a lot to the average person, but it means everything to the residents of Beartown, a community slowly being eaten alive by unemployment and the surrounding wilderness. A victory like this would draw national attention to the ailing town: it could attract government funding and an influx of talented athletes who would choose Beartown over the big nearby cities. A victory like this would certainly mean everything to Amat, a short, scrawny teenager who is treated like an outcast everywhere but on the ice; to Kevin, a star player just on the cusp of securing his golden future in the NHL; and to Peter, their dedicated general manager whose own professional hockey career ended in tragedy.

At first, it seems like the team might have a shot at fulfilling the dreams of their entire town. But one night at a drunken celebration following a key win, something happens between Kevin and the general manager’s daughter—and the next day everything seems to have changed. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected. With so much riding on the success of the team, the line between loyalty and betrayal becomes difficult to discern. At last, it falls to one young man to find the courage to speak the truth that it seems no one else wants to hear.

Fredrik Backman knows that we are forever shaped by the places we call home, and in this emotionally powerful, sweetly insightful story, he explores what can happen when we carry the heavy weight of other people’s dreams on our shoulders.

I read A Man Called Ove (review) last year and greatly enjoyed it. I’ve been meaning to read his other books, but in the meantime I kindly received an advanced reading copy of his latest novel, Beartown. This book will be available on 25 April 2017.

Read More

Review: Close Enough to Touch

Posted 13 February, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

Close Enough to Touch
By: Colleen Oakley
Format/Source: Advanced Reading Copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster CA

One time a boy kissed me and I almost died…

And so begins the story of Jubilee Jenkins, a young woman with a rare and debilitating medical condition: she’s allergic to other humans. After a humiliating near-death experience in high school, Jubilee has become a recluse, living the past nine years in the confines of the small town New Jersey house her unaffectionate mother left to her when she ran off with a Long Island businessman. But now, her mother is dead, and without her financial support, Jubilee is forced to leave home and face the world—and the people in it—that she’s been hiding from.

One of those people is Eric Keegan, a man who just moved into town for work. With a daughter from his failed marriage who is no longer speaking to him, and a brilliant, if psychologically troubled, adopted son, Eric’s struggling to figure out how his life got so off-course, and how to be the dad—and man—he wants so desperately to be. Then, one day, he meets a mysterious woman named Jubilee, with a unique condition…

Close Enough to Touch is an evocative, poignant, and heartrending exploration of the power and possibilities of the human heart.

The premise of this novel fascinated me so much that I requested an ARC to read. This book will be available on 14 February 2017.

Read More

Review: Little Heaven

Posted 17 January, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Little Heaven
By: Nick Cutter
Format/Source: Advanced Reading Copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster CA

From electrifying horror author Nick Cutter comes a haunting new novel, reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian and Stephen King’s It, in which a trio of mismatched mercenaries is hired by a young woman for a deceptively simple task: check in on her nephew, who may have been taken against his will to a remote New Mexico backwoods settlement called Little Heaven. Shortly after they arrive, things begin to turn ominous. Stirrings in the woods and over the treetops—the brooding shape of a monolith known as the Black Rock casts its terrible pall. Paranoia and distrust grips the settlement. The escape routes are gradually cut off as events spiral towards madness. Hell—or the closest thing to it—invades Little Heaven. The remaining occupants are forced to take a stand and fight back, but whatever has cast its dark eye on Little Heaven is now marshaling its powers…and it wants them all.

New Nick Cutter novel! Horror isn’t a genre I usually read but for me Nick Cutter seems to be the exception as I pretty much have read all of his books to date (save one). So I pretty excited when I heard that he was coming out with a new book and I got my hands on the ARC. This book will be available on 10 January 2017.

Read More

Review: Selection Day

Posted 10 January, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

Selection Day
By: Aravind Adiga
Format/Source: Advanced Reading Copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster CA

From Aravind Adiga, the bestselling, Booker Prize­–winning author of The White Tiger, a dazzling new novel about two brothers in a Mumbai slum who are raised by their obsessive father to become cricket stars, and whose coming of age threatens their relationship, future, and sense of themselves.

Manjunath Kumar is fourteen and living in a slum in Mumbai. He knows he is good at cricket—if not as good as his older brother, Radha. He knows that he fears and resents his domineering and cricket-obsessed father, admires his brilliantly talented sibling, and is fascinated by curious scientific facts and the world of CSI. But there are many things, about himself and about the world, that he doesn’t know. Sometimes it even seems as though everyone has a clear idea of who Manju should be, except Manju himself. When Manju meets Radha’s great rival, a mysterious Muslim boy privileged and confident in all the ways Manju is not, everything in Manju’s world begins to change, and he is faced by decisions that will challenge his understanding of it, as well as his own self.

Filled with unforgettable characters from across India’s social strata—the old scout everyone calls Tommy Sir; Anand Mehta, the big-dreaming investor; Sofia, a wealthy, beautiful girl and the boys’ biggest fan—this book combines the best of The Art of Fielding and Slumdog Millionaire for a compulsive, moving story of adolescence and ambition, fathers, sons, and brothers. Selection Day is Adiga’s most absorbing, big-hearted novel to date, and proves why “with his gripping, amusing glimpse into the contradictions and perils of modern India, Aravind Adiga has cemented his reputation as the preeminent chronicler of his country’s messy present”

Firstly, yeah, this review actually went live by mistake last week when I was still sorting out my hosting and url redirection issues so I rescheduled it for today. Oops!

Anyhow, I had seen Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger around but I had never picked it up to read (will have to change that sometime in the near future). In the meantime Simon & Schuster CA contacted me asking if I was interested in reading this book; it sounded different geographically and otherwise from what I usually read so I agreed in exchange for an honest review. This book will be available on 03 January 2017.

Read More

Review: Victoria

Posted 23 November, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 4 Comments

Victoria
By: Daisy Goodwin
Format/Source: eARC courtesy of the publishers via NetGalley

I do not like the name Alexandrina. From now on I wish to be known only by my second name, Victoria.
Melbourne nodded. “Victoria.”

Early one morning, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria is roused from bed with the news that her uncle William IV has died and she is now Queen of England. The men who run the country have doubts about whether this sheltered young woman, who stands less than five feet tall, can rule the greatest nation in the world. Surely she must rely on her mother and her venal advisor, Sir John Conroy, or her uncle, the Duke of Cumberland, who are all too eager to relieve her of the burdens of power.

The young queen is no puppet, however. She has very definite ideas about the kind of queen she wants to be, and the first thing is to choose her name.

Everyone keeps saying she is destined to marry her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, but Victoria found him dull and priggish when they met three years ago. She is quite happy being queen with the help of her prime minister, Lord Melbourne, who may be old enough to be her father but is the first person to take her seriously.

Drawing on Victoria s diaries, which she first started reading when she was a student at Cambridge University, as well as her own brilliant gifts for history and drama, Daisy Goodwin, author of the bestselling novels The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter as well as creator and writer of the new PBS/Masterpiece drama Victoria, brings the young queen richly to life in this magnificent novel.

Readers of my blog know that I’m a big fan of period dramas and I am looking forward to sitting down and watching Victoria starring Jenna Coleman. I didn’t know that there was an accompanying (?) novel that was coming out alongside the series by the same person who penned the show. Admittedly this is not my first foray with Daisy Goodwin’s work; I started reading the eGalley of The Fortune Hunter (review) a few years ago but sadly had to put it down as I just had no time and the first chapter or so didn’t compel me to finish it. Nonetheless I was pretty excited to check out this title. This book will be available on 22 November 2016.

Read More