Category Archives: Canadian Literature

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

Synopsis: After an economic disaster causes 50% unemployment, a married couple decides to take a chance on an unusual planned community rather than continue to live in their car and fight off roving bands of marauders. Review: I have not alwqys been a fan of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian science fiction, but with The Heart Goes Last she finally delivers a novel that’s one of her best ever, and that can hold its own with the best of the genre. The dystopian premise is so delightfully…

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Vacation = Gillian Flynn, The Group, Pretty Is, New Margaret Atwood !!!

Because my idea of relaxing is reading about women in desperate circumstances driven to make choices that aren’t really choices at all because they are WOMEN. Repressive society, nobody understands their inner life, maybe they don’t even have an inner life, and you have to escape your gallant kidnapper while your friends talk shit behind your back and if you’re lucky you’ll end up competing with a prostibot. Or, as Luscious Jackson put it, “When a man knows where he came from he can tell…

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More Courtney Summers, Crazy Moms

Just in time for Mother’s Day I finally picked up Her by Harriet Lane, about an exhausted mom of a newborn and a toddler who’s befriended by a chic artist who seems to save the day over and over again. Of course this lady (a perfectly normal seeming woman with a high school age daughter) has an ulterior motive that comes to light in a suspenseful way. It reminded me a lot of Notes on a Scandal. I’m also continuing my Courtney Summers love fest.…

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Room by Emma Donoghue

Synopsis: Jack has never left Room, where he has lived with his mother since the day he was born 5 years ago, but now it might be time for them to attempt an escape into a world that Jack can’t even imagine. Review: I’m late in the game reading Room, and I confess I resisted it for a long time because the quotes I read seemed just too precious. What finally piqued my curiosity was learning that the novel depicted extended breastfeeding from the child’s…

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MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood

Synopsis: The dystopian trilogy about a post-apocalyptic world concludes as the leftover humans and the man-made Crakers face off against the murderous Painballers and the threat that the plague isn’t over. Review: I loved so much in MaddAddam, and I adore Margaret Atwood to such a great extent that I feel guilty giving it anything other than high praise. But as with Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood, the other two books in the trilogy, I never fully lost myself in the…

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Against the Light by Dave Duncan

Synopsis: A reimagining of the “Gunpowder Plot” with religious persecution against those with magical powers. Review: Against the Light moved at a brisk pace, not wasting much time in getting characters from one place to another. I really liked the relatively contemporary setting, with English manor living and firearms, instead of the usual feudalism of epic fantasy. And there was a bawdiness in the telling that made the whole thing feel fresh and cheerful, even amid the darker elements of the story. Basically you have…

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The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

Synopsis: The events leading up to the “waterless flood,” a global catechism wiping out almost all of mankind, as told from the point of view of two survivors, a sex worker and a healer, both of whom were members of a radical vegetarian cult. Review: The Year of the Flood is Margaret Atwood’s companion to Oryx and Crake, presenting the events that led to Jimmy the Snowman’s reign over the gentle, sinless Crakers in a post-apocalyptic landscape. Atwood resolutely refuses to call either book “science…

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The Alchemist’s Code by Dave Duncan

Synopsis: Nostradamus and his assistant, the dashing Alfeo Zeno, solve a politically motivated murder while keeping their alchemical doings from being discovered by the reigning powers in heavily Catholic 16th Century Venice. Review: I listened to The Alchemist’s Code on audiobook, and wasn’t aware that it was a sequel until looking up the publication date to craft this post. It definitely stands alone as a mystery novel–no backstory needed for enjoyment–but I am now curious about what I missed in the first book. Share on…

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Present Tense by Dave Duncan (The Great Game)

Synopsis: Book two in this trilogy has our unjustly accused hero crossing back to WWII-era England, hoping to escape from the law so he can enlist on the front lines and narrating the story of his time as a battle commander Nextdoor to his cohort of rescuers. Review: I was not quite as enthralled with Present Tense as I’d hope to be, but I still enjoyed it. I get frustrated when fantasy stories rely too heavily on the notion of prophecy, because then the story…

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Past Imperative by Dave Duncan (The Great Game)

Synopsis: An upper class young man on trial for murder in WWI England finds his destiny entwined with a girl on the road with a traveling troupe of actors in an alternate vaguely medieval world ruled by capricious and contentious gods. Review: I really enjoy Dave Duncan’s writing–he’s imaginative and not afraid of getting a little literary, and always comes up with great characters. Past Imperative (Round One of the Great Game) was a welcome departure from the usual epic fantasy in that half of…

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