Book Review: Bird Box

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Something is out there, something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse of it, and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.

Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remains, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now that the boy and girl are four, it’s time to go, but the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat—blindfolded—with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. Something is following them all the while, but is it man, animal, or monster?

Interweaving past and present, Bird Box is a snapshot of a world unraveled that will have you racing to the final page.

Review:
I tore through this book in 2 sittings as I could hardly put it down. I loved how creepy it was in a non-gory way. The psychological aspect was compelling and built the tension perfectly.
Malorie is a great character and I love how we come to feel for her and feel the absolute pain of the decisions that she feels forced to make in this horrific situation. She had to act in ways that were terrible and against everything that most people would expect they would ever have to do, but she was doing the best that she could with what she had, including emotional reserves. It is always hard to have children as characters in a horror novel, but I think that the author did a great job here, using them to show how completely dire the situation was rather than victimizing them.
The book, in some ways, is slow in that there is not that much actual action, but it is the tension that is wonderful and had me racing to turn the pages. I love a book with a thoughtful, strong, fallible heroine and this one did not disappoint.
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Book Review: Ayesha At Last

Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Pride and Prejudice with a modern twist 

AYESHA SHAMSI has a lot going on.  Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.

When a surprise engagement between Khalid and Hafsa is announced, Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and his family; and the truth she realizes about herself. But Khalid is also wrestling with what he believes and what he wants. And he just can’t get this beautiful, outspoken woman out of his mind.

Review:
This book was fantastic. I loved the writing, the storytelling, the characters, the ending, and the humour.
Ayesha at Last is a modern Pride and Prejudice retelling set in the Muslim community of Toronto. As a Canadian, I love reading books set in Canada. The novel doesn’t take itself too seriously and Jane Austin fans will find some fun plays on phraseology and themes.
Ayesha is a wonderful character. I felt for her and quickly became engaged with her dilemma — which was about getting married but also about what she really wanted from her life and how to follow her dreams.
Khalid ultimately had a similar dilemma, though he didn’t always think that he did, which really added to the book.
I’d highly recommend this book for anyone looking for a light read with romance, and yet still has other aspects to the story.
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Book Review: The Waiting Hours

The Waiting Hours by Shandi Mitchell

When you spend your life saving others…who will be there to save you?

When tragedy erupts on a stifling summer night, three ordinary people, with the extraordinary jobs of rescuing strangers, are connected to one another in ways both explicit and invisible. Each is deeply devoted to what they do, but they are all beginning to crack under the immense pressures of their work.

Tough-as-nails Kate, when she’s not working with her beloved search-and-rescue dog, Zeus, is a trauma nurse who spends her off-duty hours trying to forget what she has seen. Estranged from her troubled family, she must confront the fact that resolution may elude her forever. Respected police officer Mike is on the edge of burnout and sets himself on a downward spiral that may be impossible to break, fraying the bonds of love that hold his family together. Tamara, an agoraphobic 911 dispatcher, who is trying her hardest to remain as calm and emotionless as an automated message, is propelled into the middle of a story that she can’t avoid and must enter the world to find out how it ends.

With a city prickling under a heat wave and a hurricane threatening to make landfall, these responders will be forced to make fateful choices that will alter lives. A storm is coming and nobody is prepared.

Review:
I loved the premise of this book — a novel about first responders and how they are effected by their jobs, how they deal with the trauma they see, who takes care of them…
The descriptions and the research that went into this book are great. The author did a terrific job and everything felt authentic, from police procedures to 911 calls.
However, this book just didn’t come together for me. The characters were good and fleshed out but I feel that there was something missing. It seemed like there were a bunch of scenarios from these 3 people’s lives that were strung together. It could have been made more cohesive, but it wasn’t. It’s hard to put my finger on exactly, but I did find the book dragged on.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy of this book.
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Book Review: The Migration

The Migration by Helen Marshall

Creepy and atmospheric, evocative of Stephen King’s classic Pet Sematary , The Migration is a story of sisterhood, transformation, and the limitations of love, from a thrilling new voice in Canadian fiction.

When I was younger I didn’t know a thing about death. I thought it meant stillness, a body gone limp. A marionette with its strings cut. Death was like a long vacation–a going away.

Storms and flooding are worsening around the world, and a mysterious immune disorder has begun to afflict the young. Sophie Perella is about to begin her senior year of high school in Toronto when her little sister, Kira, is diagnosed. Their parents’ marriage falters under the strain, and Sophie’s mother takes the girls to Oxford, England, to live with their Aunt Irene. An Oxford University professor and historical epidemiologist obsessed with relics of the Black Death, Irene works with a centre that specializes in treating people with the illness. She is a friend to Sophie, and offers a window into a strange and ancient history of human plague and recovery. Sophie just wants to understand what’s happening now; but as mortality rates climb, and reports emerge of bodily tremors in the deceased, it becomes clear there is nothing normal about this condition–and that the dead aren’t staying dead. When Kira succumbs, Sophie faces an unimaginable choice: let go of the sister she knows, or take action to embrace something terrifying and new.
Tender and chilling, unsettling and hopeful, The Migration is a story of a young woman’s dawning awareness of mortality and the power of the human heart to thrive in cataclysmic circumstances.

Review:
I’ve never read a book quite like The Migration. It had me intrigued by the synopsis and then when I started reading, I was quickly engaged with the characters and the strange plight happening to the children around the world.
The writing is lovely, conveying the attachment between the sisters and the difficulty that a chronic illness can take on a family. I especially loved the research and imagination shown by the author in developing this strange illness that is plaguing only children.
There is a strange, almost sci-fi feel to this book and it won’t be for everyone but I did enjoy this flight of imagination.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy of this book.
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