Tag: Books: First Reads


Review: Mayors Gone Bad

Posted 10 July, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

Mayors Gone Bad
Edited By: Philip Slayton
Format/Source: Advanced reading copy courtesy of the publishers via GoodReads First Reads Programme

Mayors Gone Bad, a series of profiles of recent and current Canadian mayors gone amok, is an entertaining companion volume to the bestselling Lawyers Gone Bad. Whether they’ve misappropriated funds, had cosy relationships with Mafia hoods, been caught with prostitutes, or admitted to smoking crack, Canada’s mayors are a colourful collection: Peter Kelly, long-serving mayor of Halifax, driven from office by investigative reporting of ethical lapses; Gerard Tremblay of Montreal resigned in suspicious circumstances; Michael Applebaum of Montreal faces criminal charges of fraud; Gilles Vaillancourt of Laval also resigned and faces similar criminal charges; Alexandre Duplessis of Laval left after a hooker scandal; Joe Fontana was convicted of fraud and is under house arrest; Susan Fennell of Brampton was under police investigation for possible criminal use of city funds; Sam Katz of Winnipeg was dogged throughout his mayoralty by conflict-of-interest allegations; and Rob Ford made headlines across North America as “the crack-smoking mayor of Toronto.”

But it’s not all bad news: Philip Slayton writes about the “western triangle of mayoral goodness,” Nenshi of Calgary, Iveson of Edmonton, and Robertson of Vancouver. Also, Slayton features four foreign mayors who have made an impact: Jón Gnarr of Reykjavik, Boris Johnson of London, Michael Bloomberg of New York, and Anne Hidalgo of Paris. Aside from creating a rogues’ gallery of mayors, Slayton offers insight into the nature of municipal government in Canada and speculates about why people seek the office of mayor. Little real power is exercised by any mayor, but the abuses of that power are nonetheless significant. As well, Slayton provides a series of proposals to reform municipal government. Written with the dry wit that made Lawyers Gone Bad a national bestseller, Slayton’s new book is an eye-opening look at how we are governed.

Despite having studied political science in my undergrad programme, I never really paid attention to municipal politics save for the odd by-law they wanted to introduce. It just never really interested me. And when it did enter my attention, it’s usually some craziness, like the Rob Ford fiasco (I talked about it a year ago or so in a post as suddenly council meetings became a whole lot more colourful). But it’s not just what was happening in Toronto; I was hearing news from places like Montreal and Laval where mayors were also being busted for criminal and unethical behaviour. So I was very much intrigued when I discovered this book on Goodreads as, omg, there were a lot of cases of Canadian mayors doing crazy things. I won an ARC of this book via GoodReads giveaways. This book was published on 19 May 2015.

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Review: Tide of Shadows and Other Stories

Posted 24 June, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Tide of Shadows and Other Stories
By: Aidan Moher
Format/Source: eBook review copy courtesy of the author

From Aidan Moher—Hugo Award-winning editor of A Dribble of Ink—comes Tide of Shadows and Other Stories, a collection of five science fiction and fantasy stories spanning adventure, comic whimsy, and powerful drama—from a star-faring military science fiction tale of love and sacrifice, to a romp through the dragon-infested Kingdom of Copperkettle Vale.

“A Night for Spirits and Snowflakes” is the story of a young man reliving the last moments of his fellow soldiers’ lives; “The Girl with Wings of Iron and Down” tells the tale of a broken family and a girl with mechanical wings; “Of Parnassus and Princes, Damsels and Dragons” introduces a typical prince, princess, and dragon—and a not-so-typical love triangle; “The Colour of the Sky on the Day the World Ended” follows a girl and her ghost dog as they search for a bright light in the darkness; and “Tide of Shadows” is about a soldier and his lover, a mother, and planetwide genocide.

I’ve been a reader of Aidan Moher’s blog, A Dribble of Ink, for many years now; it’s certainly one of the places I go to when it comes to finding out about what’s up and coming in the fantasy & sci-fi genre, but it also features plenty of great articles about the genre (not to mention his commentary on book covers are on point). I was pleasantly surprised to read then on his blog that he had decided to self-publish a few of his short stories, which is not only really cool but for aspiring writers (*ahem*myself*ahem*) is also quite inspirational (see his article about his decision to self-publish here at Medium). The collection was released on 4 May 2015.

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Review: The Sunken Cathedral

Posted 1 June, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

The Sunken Cathedral
By: Kate Walbert
Format/Source: Advanced reading copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster CA via the GoodReads First Reads programme

Marie and Simone, friends for decades, were once immigrants to the city, survivors of World War II in Europe. Now widows living alone in Chelsea, they remain robust, engaged, and adventurous, even as the vistas from their past interrupt their present. Helen is an art historian who takes a painting class with Marie and Simone. Sid Morris, their instructor, presides over a dusty studio in a tenement slated for condo conversion; he awakes the interest of both Simone and Marie. Elizabeth is Marie’s upstairs tenant, a woman convinced that others have a secret way of being, a confidence and certainty she lacks. She is increasingly unmoored—baffled by her teenage son, her husband, and the roles she is meant to play.

I’ve never read anything by this author but it was the premise that caught my attention. It sounded interesting–about a pair of friends who survived the Second World War and living now in New York City. I was pleasantly surprised to learn I had won an ARC of this novel via GoodReads. This book will be available in 09 June 2015.

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Review: The Nightingale Girls

Posted 22 May, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 6 Comments

The Nightingale Girls (The Nightingales #1)
By: Donna Douglas
Format/Source: galley courtesy of the publishers via NetGalley

Three very different girls sign up as student nurses in January 1936, while England is still mourning the death of George V. Dora is a tough East Ender, driven by ambition, but also desperate to escape her squalid, overcrowded home and her abusive stepfather. Helen is the quiet one, a mystery to her fellow nurses, avoiding fun, gossip and the limelight. In fact she is in the formidable shadow of her overbearing mother, who dominates every aspect of her life. Can a nursing career free Helen at last? The third of our heroines is naughty, rebellious Millie — aka Lady Camilla — an aristocrat on the run from her conventional upper class life. She is doomed to clash over and over again with terrifying Sister Hyde and to get into scrape after scrape especially where men are concerned. This utterly delightful novel brings a London pre-war hospital vividly to life.

This novel caught my attention as I was browsing NetGalley some time ago because student nurses, I can relate (even if the times are different 😛 ). So yeah, nursing, England, the 1930s…Why not? I was approved a galley copy of this novel courtesy of the publishers for review. This book was released on 16 August 2012.

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Review: The Well

Posted 12 May, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

The Well
By: Catherine Chanter
Format/Source: Advanced reading copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster CA

From the winner of the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, a brilliantly haunting and suspenseful debut set in modern-day Britain where water is running out everywhere except at The Well—the farm of one seemingly ordinary family whose mysterious good fortune leads to suspicion, chaos, and ultimately a shocking act of violence.

Ruth Ardingly has just been released from prison to serve out a sentence of house arrest for arson and suspected murder at her farm, The Well. Beyond its borders, some people whisper she is a witch; others a messiah. For as soon as Ruth returns to The Well, rain begins to fall on the farm. And it has not rained anywhere else in the country in over three years.

Ruth and her husband Mark had moved years before from London to this ancient idyll in the hopes of starting their lives over. But then the drought began, and as the surrounding land dried up and died, and The Well grew lush and full of life, they came to see their fortune would come at a price. From the envy of their neighbors to the mandates of the government, from the fanaticism of a religious order called the Sisters of the Rose to the everyday difficulties of staying close as husband and wife, mother and child—all these forces led to a horrifying crime: the death of their seven-year-old grandson, drowned with cruel irony in one of the few ponds left in the countryside.

Now back at The Well, Ruth must piece together the tragedy that shattered her marriage, her family, and her dream. For she believes her grandson’s death was no accident, and that the murderer is among the people she trusted most. Alone except for her guards on a tiny green jewel in a world rapidly turning to dust, Ruth begins to confront her worst fears and learns what really happened in the dark heart of The Well.

I found out about this book from the publishers. It sounded interesting, a mix of suspense and a post-apocalyptic world of sorts. I was provided with an advanced reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This book will be available on 19 May 2015.

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