#BookReview The Road to Vermilion Lake by Vic Cavalli

The Road to Vermilion Lake by Vic Cavalli is an interesting niche novel that felt like a character study.

If I had to describe this book in one word, I would choose: niche. This book isn’t some hard hitting Star Wars novel or Notebook styled novel, it is truly in it’s own little world. For some people, this book will be incredibly hard to put down and it will be your binge-worthy novel but for others it just won’t sit as well. For me, it wasn’t as binge worthy as it was for other reviewers (seriously, some reviewers seem to be devouring this book and loving every second of it!).

I did love that this was a Canadian author because I absolutely love supporting my home country, but this book just wasn’t made for me. And, that isn’t a bad thing! There are people out there who will love this book so much more than me!

So why wasn’t it for me? For one, the book felt very slow and the conversation between characters was way to formal. I didn’t feel like people actually talk the way the characters do. It was so oddly structured and oh so formal that it was hard to feel for these characters. I just couldn’t connect with these people because they didn’t feel real to me. Maybe it’s because I’m from an odd, small town that isn’t really comparable to any other city I’ve ever been in! I did really appreciate the descriptive writing of the setting and Tom’s job, but the dialogue just didn’t connect with me.

I also didn’t like the female characters in any capacity. Johnny was this really unique character, but I’ve never met anyone like her. That being said, the fact that Johnny is so out there and unique is a good thing! Unfortunately for me, I need to connect with characters to be able to be whisked into the story. Johnny and Sally are religious and do not wish to sleep with anyone until they are married. Okay, cool, that’s normal! But announcing that the first time you meet a guy? Having this strong “love at first sight” feeling and announcing a potential marriage and children? It just didn’t seem real to me. I think this made her to be a truly interesting character to follow but she felt foreign. It was like I was watching a character in the Handmaid’s Tale television show – it feels so close to being real but wasn’t.

That negative for me can be a true positive though – this book is set in a realistic story with unique characters. Seeing them interact with each other and the surroundings was a fun character study. I think that’s where readers are going to get the most out of this book. It’s so different that it can be so good!

The biggest positive for me was seeing these characters grow. Dave, Tom, Johnny and Sally all change over time as you learn about their past and their present. Heartbreaks, happiness and tragedy can all be followed which is absolutely lovely. I like seeing characters grow and develop in books, and it’s nice to see Vic write that so effortlessly. The growth didn’t feel forced – it felt natural.

Overall, I think this story it cool. Vic Cavalli has crafted a really interesting story that will take you to a whole new world (within the one we’re already in).

Three out of five stars!

I received this book for free from the author Vic Cavalli in exchange for an honest review.

 

You can find this book on:
Amazon.ca

Barnes & Nobles

Chapters/Coles/Indigo

Amazon.com

 

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#BookReview Life of Pi by Yann Martel

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I have been yearning to read this book for a long time. Everyone I spoke to was obsessed with this book to the n-th degree, so I figured I might feel the same way once I read it.

I was highly mistaken.

I found this book to be slow moving and boring, even though it is well written. This book was just not for me (which happens, by the way. Not every reader has to like every book ever written). That being said, I still wanted to give it a quality review. For me, the stars are low – but keep in mind this book is still excellent and the idea was intriguing.

To keep the plot short: A boy is trapped on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger after his family was trying to move their zoo animals across the sea. Tragedy strikes, and now Pi (our lead) is stuck with Richard Parker (our cat).

I found that this story went in many different directions. At first, this story seemed to be all about animals and how Pi’s father ran a zoo. I thought there might be more information in regards to him opening a zoo in the future, or having some great story arc involving it. Unfortunately, this didn’t go very far. It seemed to just be an introduction into the character rather than making it an integral part of the story (except for the animals on the lifeboat, of course). Then religion is thrown into the mix!! Pi enjoys practicing three different religions and this causes strife with his family, and then the plot point is essentially gone. There could have been lots of room for improvement in this discussion further along in the book, but all we get is that Pi is “praying” a lot. To me, having all of these opportunities to follow through with these plot lines was a bit of a waste. Why just have these points as an intro to the character? Why not use them to your advantage?

I also found this book to be SO FREAKING SLOW AND BORING. It’s inspirational, but when it’s close to two hundred pages of “stuck on a boat, send help, I am praying, there’s a tiger, i need to drink water” over and over, it gets a little tiring.

When I look at other reviews and theories about this book, I understand the theme is about religion. You can pick your story to follow God – just like picking apart this book. There’s multiple stories to follow, and you can pick the one you like. I don’t know how I feel about this theme and the way it is presented, but it worked.

This book also has some gore in it, so if you don’t want to read about an animal being ripped apart in description then this book might not be for you!!

Pros:
1. The chapters are short – I like when books don’t make long chapters. Having a chapter that lasts one hundred pages tires me out. Having the opportunity to stop where I want to with a small chapter is a nice quality about this book.

2. The cover – The cover is absolutely gorgeous. It’s simple, it’s colourful and it gets to the point. I appreciate a well thought out cover.

3. Beautiful language – Yann Martel can present a scene well with his words. There are some moments in this book where I got lost in his choice of words.

Cons:

1. Slow and Steady doesn’t always win the race.

2. Religion. This seems like a bad place to put it, but I know many people who would lose their minds having religion be a theme in the book (some would have it as an AMAZING PRO). That being said, I’m putting it in cons because of the strife it may cause some readers. There’s also times I think that religion was mentioned to much, like the author was trying to hit us over the head with it. Just because you leave religion out for one page doesn’t mean we’ll forget about it!

3. The story drags with the same thoughts and concepts.

Overall, this book was not my cup of tea. It is beautifully written and was a unique take on religion I hadn’t seen before. I had high hopes and expectations for this book, but it didn’t bode well for me. I blame a lot of the really great reviews and everyone saying it was the best book ever to make me have such high expectations, but putting the blame on them really won’t get me anywhere, will it?

Two out of five stars.

 

Did you enjoy this review? Why not check out another you might enjoy? #BookReview Hope Has Two Daughters by Monia Mazigh

Check out Yann Martel on twitter! @WriterYann

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#BookReview Vi by Kim Thúy

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Kim Thúy’s beautiful short story, Vi, is a must read for fiction lovers!

I won’t lie, the fact that this book is so short was what drew me to it. I needed a quick read to keep me occupied while I was in a waiting room and this book was short enough to devour in one sitting. While this book might lack in quantity, it hits a real punch on the quality. I’m honestly surprised Kim is not a bigger author, because this book was mind-blowingly awesome. And yes, I am making mind-blowingly a word.

The cultural impact is probably the best part of this novel. Often, you can see silly cultural stereotypes in novels but this one did it right. You could tell Kim knew what she was talking about with the depth and nature of her words. It didn’t feel cheap or obnoxious, it felt oddly satisfying to read about another culture that was not my own. Watching Vi’s story take place over these pages was a fantastic adventure, since Kim wove her words so beautifully and made this story dance in my mind. I absolutely loved it!

I would have liked a better ending, I found it kind of “blah” compared to the rest of the novel. This book had me hooked and obsessed with Vi’s journey and then the end just fell…well, flat. I would have liked something more. That was my only real issue with this novel. It is a translation (and my copy was an ARC) so there were some weird sentences with the translation but that wasn’t a con for me. I moved passed those issues really easily when reading it.

Overall, this charming read is a great option if you want a story that will move you and impact your understanding of culture. I 100% recommend this book!

Four out of five stars.

I received an ARC of this book through Goodreads First Reads.

 

If you read this review, use the hashtags #BriarsReviews & #Vi on twitter! @ReviewAlholic

Check out Kim Thúy on Goodreads! https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3152466.Kim_Th_y

If you enjoyed this review, check out another you might enjoy! #BookReview A Long Way Back by J. Everett Prewitt

Comment below with your most recent read!

#BookReview The Charming Predator by Lee MacKenzie

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The Charming Predator is an addicting read for anyone who loves true crime.

Lately I have been in a reading slump (probably from all of those school textbooks I’m devouring…) and most of the books I should love I haven’t been able to connect with. Buuuuut, this book instantly hooked me during this time and appeared to be exactly what I needed.

This book is intriguing because it’s supposed to be “real” (I say supposed to because Lee MacKenzie apparently has numerous pseudonyms). Kenner Jones did exist and there are numerous stories about how he scammed a ridiculous amount of people (including his wife).

I find it an interesting phenomenon that this happens to people. It seems so out of the ordinary and soap opera like, yet I’ve met many people who trick and manipulate anyone they can. Reading it, I found I could see “signs”, but that’s with me knowing the end of this story – I know he’s going to manipulate her, it’s almost like a bad movie you have seen over and over. “Don’t go through that door” or “Don’t talk to that person” and so on…

I have so much respect for this woman, because this was truly one of the worst moments (or say…years?) of her life. Writing a book like this takes courage, and my goodness is it a good book. I find it well written, easy to read and one of the better true crime, life story novels I have read in a while.

This book gets 5 out of 5 stars for sure.

I got this book through a charity that asks for donations to local community charities in return for previous read ARC copies – so my copy was an ARC.

Did you enjoy this book? Why not check out another? Book Review: From Wedding to Funeral: Spouses who Murder by Mindy M. Shelton

#BookReview Hope Has Two Daughters by Monia Mazigh

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Hope Has Two Daughters by Monia Mazigh is a beautifully written historical fiction.

This novel is set in Tunisia and follows Nadia and her daughter Lila – these two women’s stories are intertwined over generations (1980s and 2010s) that will leave you feeling breathless. Riots, studying Arabic, family tensions and drama all drive this story forward by the beautiful story telling from Monia Mazigh.

This novel shows the evolving stories of the two women, and how they aren’t so different. Despite being apart of different times, the themes in their lives remain the same. This story shows you hope and survival in different times of struggle, and can be very motivational if you read it under the right context. While this book may not be a non-fiction novel, it almost feels so real with Monia’s descriptive and realistic writing.

This isn’t the best book I’ve ever read, but it was a good read. While it may not be a five star book in my eyes, seeing how much potential this author has makes the book worth it. Yes, it’s not super fast moving. And of course, there is room to grow within the story (some plot lines could have been left out, there could have been more description in certain areas) but it still makes for a great read. It’s not a book I would leave out of conversations – it is a recommended read from my end. That being said, Monia Mazigh has room to grow as an author, and I’m sure the next book will be even better than this one (no matter what she chooses to write, whether it be a continuation/similar story or a completely different one). If her next novels feel as personal and touching as this one, I’m sure they will be fantastic.

Three out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

 

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#BookReview – The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens

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The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens

This action/adventure novel hits a home run in this genre and is a must read for those wanting a fast paced, adventure novel!

Normally, these types of books aren’t my thing but for whatever reason this book stuck with me and I could not put it down. I’m slightly annoyed I didn’t pick this book up early, because it was a fantastic read, leaving me to believe I absolutely need more Lori Lansens in my life.

This book isn’t just a survive out in the wilderness story – it has heart, a plot, and lots of backstory. There are definitely survival aspects, but it’s not just survival/wilderness porn. It’s a fantastic blend of action, adventure, suspense, mystery and a splash of romance (just a tiny splash). We follow our leads throughout the story revealing truths about themselves and developing their personalities and lives. It’s not cookie cutter or the norm, which is why this book is such a great read.

Why is it not a five star you may ask? There were definitely some slow/boring parts for me. There were a few times I put the book down and thought I might not pick it up, but decided that I needed to. Once you get past those few boring chapters, the book keeps chugging along at it’s fast pace.

This book has plot twists and turns that make it interesting – you think it’s going one way and then it swings in another – all while maintaining a PG/PG13 rating that I believe any reader will enjoy – not just adults, perhaps young adults too?

The book isn’t sensory in it’s description, but it’s well written that you can almost imagine yourself with the characters. I applaud Lori for writing this novel – it’s a fantastic read that I’ll definitely be recommending to fellow readers!

Overall, this fascinating novel is a truly spectacular ride! Four out of five stars!

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

#BookReview – Apocalypse the Memoir by CS Oliver

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Apocalypse the Memoir by C.S. Oliver

I am sad to say this book somehow got swept up into my house and disappeared for a while. I remember writing it down on my “to read” list and then being unable to find it. I went through all of my book shelves (there are many) and was annoyed and confused on where it could have gone. I gave up the search until I did a little spring cleaning and found it deep under a couch that didn’t seem like anything could have fit under it. Interestingly enough, I decided it was still in beautiful working condition and that my cats must have stolen it. So, many many reads later – here it is! My review of a book I’ve been dying to read for far to long.

This story centers around Indy, our 15 year old narrator who seems to be in a zombie apocalypse in Canada. It’s a humorous take on what seems to be a very common story now, but this book is unique. This book not only has crazy zombies, but a funny narrator, sassy side characters and an interesting back story.

This novel is brutal and definitely R-rated, but it’s fantastic in a sort of Deadpool way. While you’re cringing at the blood and gore, you’re laughing along with Indy’s thoughts and descriptions. The zombies aren’t exactly your typical slow moving, “let me eat your brains” zombies – they are nasty, predatory creatures that give you a movie-monster-esque vibe. I liked that aspect – slow moving zombies always seem kind of boring to me.

Bonus Points: Canadian cities (I’m a Canadian, what can I say?).

“Are hot dogs miracles?”

If that line doesn’t explain the whole book, I don’t know what does. Reading from the view of a 15 year old narrator, I can definitely say that thought is accurate. I am almost certain at that age that sort of thought would be randomly popping into my head.

This entire book seemed to be written with my sense of humour in mind. I don’t see all readers understanding it, but as I read along I couldn’t help but chuckle. I rarely find books funny, but I related with Indy, our main character, far to much. I really enjoyed her spunky thoughts and I wish more novels had narrators like her – different, odd and absolutely hilarious.

There were two “downfalls” to me for this book:

The biggest downfall of this book was that the conversations in this novel did not have quotation marks around them. That was probably the worst part of this novel – the story was fantastic, the humor was on point, but the lack of quotation marks threw me off a bit. To someone like me, it’s slightly annoying. To most readers? Probably not something that would turn them away from the book.

The second downfall or question I have – was this book all a metaphor? The first half of the book seems like an epic, film ready novel for a zombie dystopia/apocalypse. The second half seemed so interesting and more like a 1984 novel ready to be dissolved and taken apart in an English class. I loved seeing these two kind of smashed together into one book, but it gave me far to many questions. I want to march up to CS Oliver and ask so many questions… But maybe that’s a good thing.

Overall, this book is deemed worthy by me. I definitely want to read more by CS Oliver and I hope any more books created by CS are just as sassy and thrilling!

Four out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.