Book Review: The Glass Hotel

The Glass HotelThe Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

From the award-winning author of Station Eleven, a captivating novel of money, beauty, white-collar crime, ghosts, and moral compromise in which a woman disappears from a container ship off the coast of Mauritania and a massive Ponzi scheme implodes in New York, dragging countless fortunes with it.

Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star glass and cedar palace on an island in British Columbia. Jonathan Alkaitis works in finance and owns the hotel. When he passes Vincent his card with a tip, it’s the beginning of their life together. That same day, Vincent’s half-brother, Paul, scrawls a note on the windowed wall of the hotel: “Why don’t you swallow broken glass.” Leon Prevant, a shipping executive for a company called Neptune-Avramidis, sees the note from the hotel bar and is shaken to his core. Thirteen years later Vincent mysteriously disappears from the deck of a Neptune-Avramidis ship. Weaving together the lives of these characters, The Glass Hotel moves between the ship, the skyscrapers of Manhattan, and the wilderness of northern Vancouver Island, painting a breathtaking picture of greed and guilt, fantasy and delusion, art and the ghosts of our pasts.

Review:
I really wanted to love this book, but, unfortunately, I didn’t. The plot sounded interesting and mysterious, the setting wonderful, the author talented.
However, for me, this book was too meandery and the plot was not very strong. The story was told from various points of view over time, but it was all too loose for me.
There were good elements. The mystery of what happened to Vincent and who etched the mysterious words on the glass had potential. But somehow I didn’t bond with the characters.
The setting was amazing. As someone who has spent a lot of time on the West Coast of BC, this was my favourite part.
Parts of this book were good, but overall, this just didn’t come together for me.
Thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher for a review copy of this book.
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Book Review: The Wives

The WivesThe Wives by Tarryn Fisher

New York Times bestselling author Tarryn Fisher delivers a pulse-pounding, fast-paced suspense novel that will leave you breathless. A thriller you won’t be able to put down!

Thursday’s husband, Seth, has two other wives. She’s never met them, and she doesn’t know anything about them. She agreed to this unusual arrangement because she’s so crazy about him.

But one day, she finds something. Something that tells a very different—and horrifying—story about the man she married.

What follows is one of the most twisted, shocking thrillers you’ll ever read.

Review:

I heard so much about this book and the amazing twists that I was eager to read it.

The writing was good and fast paced, though, even after a few days of letting it settle, I’m not sure if I liked this book or not.

It was difficult to read about a woman who had given her life over so completely to a man — she had agreed to a polygamous marriage but existed only for the 2 days a week her husband stayed at her place. Because of the situation, she has isolated herself from friends and family, and does everything she can to keep her husband’s attentions.

It is hard to take this.

And, if it weren’t for the author interview at the end of the book explaining how this book is about exploring the patriarchy that women are spoonfed, I think I would have a very different view of it. Looking at The Wives from this point of view redeems it.

There are some interesting twists and it is fascinating to see how a woman can rationalize this situation, especially when it is not what she wants.

 

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Book Review: The Authenticity Project

The Authenticity Project and green notebookThe Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley

The story of a solitary green notebook that brings together six strangers and leads to unexpected friendship, and even love

Julian Jessop, an eccentric, lonely artist and septuagenarian believes that most people aren’t really honest with each other. But what if they were? And so he writes–in a plain, green journal–the truth about his own life and leaves it in his local café. It’s run by the incredibly tidy and efficient Monica, who furtively adds her own entry and leaves the book in the wine bar across the street. Before long, the others who find the green notebook add the truths about their own deepest selves–and soon find each other In Real Life at Monica’s Café.

The Authenticity Project’s cast of characters–including Hazard, the charming addict who makes a vow to get sober; Alice, the fabulous mommy Instagrammer whose real life is a lot less perfect than it looks online; and their other new friends–is by turns quirky and funny, heartbreakingly sad and painfully true-to-life. It’s a story about being brave and putting your real self forward–and finding out that it’s not as scary as it seems. In fact, it looks a lot like happiness.


The Authenticity Project is just the tonic for our times that readers are clamoring for–and one they will take to their hearts and read with unabashed pleasure.
Review:
I loved the concept of this book, that of someone writing their authentic truth in a book and leaving it for others to find and do the same. In an age of social media and comparing our lives to what other people present, this idea is appealing.
And the book does a great job of delving into it!
I loved the cast of characters and how they were woven together all because of the little green notebook — which is almost a character itself — and how it made them want to connect and help and be authentic. The characters were fun and their stories were compelling. They make mistakes, they take chances, they help and look out for one another. I wanted to wander down the street and stop for tea at Monica’s coffee shop myself.
This really is a charming book about connection and the author did a great job exploring this theme. It’s easy to read and get lost in on a cozy weekend.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy of this book.
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Book Review: The Girl with the Louding Voice

Book Review: The Girl with the Louding Voice

The Girl with the Louding VoiceThe Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare

A powerful, emotional debut novel told in the unforgettable voice of a young Nigerian woman who is trapped in a life of servitude but determined to get an education so that she can escape and choose her own future.

Adunni is a fourteen-year-old Nigerian girl who knows what she wants: an education. This, her mother has told her, is the only way to get a “louding voice”–the ability to speak for herself and decide her own future. But instead, Adunni’s father sells her to be the third wife of a local man who is eager for her to bear him a son and heir.

When Adunni runs away to the city, hoping to make a better life, she finds that the only other option before her is servitude to a wealthy family. As a yielding daughter, a subservient wife, and a powerless slave, Adunni is told, by words and deeds, that she is nothing.

But while misfortunes might muffle her voice for a time, they cannot mute it. And when she realizes that she must stand up not only for herself, but for other girls, for the ones who came before her and were lost, and for the next girls, who will inevitably follow; she finds the resolve to speak, however she can–in a whisper, in song, in broken English–until she is heard.

Review:
Adunni has a great voice — she wants to get educated, become a teacher, and help others. She knows she has value and has an interesting, curious attitude toward life, believing that tomorrow will be a better day, despite what has happened today.
And horrible things do happen to Adunni. It is so difficult to read a book with so much abuse and mistreatment of others, especially when it is juxtaposed against affluence and prosperity. The author does an interesting job of explaining what it is like in Nigeria — the poverty, wealth, abuse, rich culture, the politics…
I liked Adunni, but, despite her louding voice, I found she was often pushed into standing up for herself and moving forward. It is a strange combination of ambition and circumstance. Other people really have to make her see opportunities, but perhaps that’s realistic.
Then there was the language in the book. Adunni is uneducated and the book is narrated in her broken English to highlight this fact. It was challenging to read because of this. I appreciate the author trying to show us something about Adunni but felt that because her thoughts wouldn’t have been in English but her native language in the first place, that this was strange. Just my opinion. Maybe we needed the language as a symbolic barrier?
Overall, though, this is a good book, full of inspiration and hope despite the often terrible events and subject matter.
Thank you to Netgalley and Dutton Books for the review copy.
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