Category Archives: Character-Driven

THE SUNDAY REVIEW | PIGS IN HEAVEN – BARBARA KINGSOLVER

  ***WARNING: Contains spoilers for The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver*** In the sequel to Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees, we catch up with a slightly more mature and settled Taylor, who is living with her musician boyfriend Jax and her adopted daughter Turtle, now six. But of course, things can’t stay calm and secure for long. As in the last book, the… Read more »

THE SUNDAY REVIEW | THE BEAN TREES – BARBARA KINGSOLVER

   This isn’t the first time I’ve read this book, but it might as well have been. It was my first Kingsolver, read at the fervent recommendation of my mother. Over the years, the memory of the book’s specifics faded, but the general feeling that I had loved both the story and characters, and that it had earned a place… Read more »

THE SUNDAY REVIEW | BEFORE WE WERE STRANGERS – RENEE CARLINO

  I’ve heard Renee Carlino’s name around for a while now, but never got around to any of her books. I went in with only a vaguely fuzzy idea of what the book was about, mostly because I was bored one day, and it was there. It’s the story of first love, loss and the unexpected turns life takes. We… Read more »

THE SUNDAY REVIEW | DIETLAND – SARAI WALKER

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  It’s not hard to see why everyone has been talking about Dietland. This is a book that will challenge you. It’ll challenge you to think about your prejudices and pre-conceptions, it’ll make you uncomfortable, and it’ll even make you think about your ideas of wrong and right. Which makes it sound heavy and serious and intense. It’s not. Well,… Read more »

THE SUNDAY REVIEW | THE RED NOTEBOOK – ANTOINE LAURAIN

  I can’t recall where I heard about this book, but I wish I did so I could thank the blogger who pointed me to such a brilliant discovery. This book had everything I was in the mood for when I picked it up: books, whimsy, mystery, Paris and a fair dose of extraordinary circumstance. The story begins with a… Read more »

THE SUNDAY REVIEW | THE READERS OF BROKEN WHEEL RECOMMEND – KATARINA BIVALD

  There’s nothing I love more than meeting a character in a book who shares my love of reading. From Helene Hanff in 84 Charing Cross Road to A.J. Fikry and Amelia in The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry to Matilda in Roald Dahl’s beloved book of the same name to Anne in Anne of Green Gables to Her Majesty… Read more »

THE SUNDAY REVIEW | PURITY – JONATHAN FRANZEN

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  I’ve been seeing Jonathan Franzen’s books around for years, but to this point hadn’t actually read any of them (admittedly their length intimidated me somewhat). So when the book fairy (AKA Random House Canada) delivered an ARC of his upcoming novel, Purity, to my mailbox, it seemed that fate had intervened. I went into this book blind. I didn’t… Read more »

RELEASE DAY REVIEW | EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING – NICOLA YOON

  I’ve been hearing about this book for months now, just waiting until I could get my hands on a copy. But I didn’t actually know much about it other than everyone was loving it up. When it arrived in my mailbox, I immediately tore into it. 24 hours later, I was done. It’s the story of a girl called… Read more »

THE SUNDAY REVIEW | LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE – JESSICA KNOLL

  Luckiest Girl Alive is unlike any other book I’ve read. Don’t get me wrong, there are elements to it that will feel familiar. But taken as a whole it completely surprised me. The book begins with a perfect girl. She’s got a high-powered job working for a magazine in New York, she’s pretty and thin, she’s engaged to a… Read more »

THE SUNDAY REVIEW | WIND/PINBALL – HARUKI MURAKAMI

  Haruki Murakami’s newest book is actually a set of two novels (or novellas) that were the very first stories he ever wrote. This is the first time in years these two stories have been available in print – much less in English – and they provide a fascinating glimpse of this venerable writer’s beginnings. Murakami’s writing is unlike any… Read more »

THE SUNDAY REVIEW | THE LITTLE PARIS BOOKSHOP – NINA GEORGE

“There are books that are suitable for a million people, others for only a hundred. There are even remedies—I mean books—that were written for one person only…A book is both medic and medicine at once. It makes a diagnosis as well as offering therapy. Putting the right novels to the appropriate ailments: that’s how I sell books.” Monsieur Perdu calls… Read more »

THE SUNDAY REVIEW | THE SHORE – SARA TAYLOR

Welcome to The Shore: a collection of small islands sticking out from the coast of Virginia into the Atlantic Ocean. Where clumps of evergreens meet wild ponies, oyster-shell roads, tumble-down houses, unwanted pregnancies, murder, storm-making and dark magic in the marshes. . .   Situated off the coast of Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay, the group of islands known as the Shore… Read more »

THE SUNDAY REVIEW | LIFE AFTER LIFE – KATE ATKINSON

“Is there Life After Life, chance after chance to rewrite one’s destiny? That is the question posed by Atkinson’s tale and brought to life by the miracle of her talent.” —Toronto Star What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?  During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby… Read more »

THE SUNDAY REVIEW | THE CHILDREN’S CRUSADE – ANN PACKER

  From the New York Times bestselling, award-winning author of The Dive From Clausen’s Pier, a sweeping, masterful new novel that explores the secrets and desires, the remnant wounds and saving graces of one California family, over the course of five decades. Bill Blair finds the land by accident, three wooded acres in a rustic community south of San Francisco…. Read more »

BOOK REVIEW | NOTHING LIKE LOVE – SABRINA RAMNANAN

  A sparkling, witty and confident debut from a rising Canadian star whose Trinidadian roots and riotous storytelling heritage inform her completely delightful novel. It is 1974 in the town of Chance, Trinidad–home to a colourful cast of cane farmers, rum-drinkers, scandal-mongers . . . and a bright 18-year-old schoolgirl named Vimla Narine. After passing her A-levels with extraordinary results… Read more »

THE SUNDAY REVIEW | A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD – JENNIFER EGAN

  Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel… Read more »

THE SUNDAY REVIEW | SWAMPLANDIA! – KAREN RUSSELL

The Bigtree alligator wrestling dynasty is in decline — think Buddenbrooks set in the Florida Everglades — and Swamplandia!, their island home and gator-wrestling theme park, is swiftly being encroached upon by a sophisticated competitor known as the World of Darkness. Ava, a resourceful but terrified twelve year old, must manage seventy gators and the vast, inscrutable landscape of her… Read more »

RELEASE DAY REVIEW | HAUSFRAU – JILL ALEXANDER ESSBAUM

Anna Benz, an American in her late thirties, lives with her Swiss husband Bruno and their three young children in a postcard-perfect suburb of Zürich. Though she leads a comfortable, well-appointed life, Anna is falling apart inside. Adrift and increasingly unable to connect with the emotionally unavailable Bruno or even with her own thoughts and feelings, Anna tries to rouse… Read more »