Book Review – The Change Room by Karen Connelly

TCR.JPG
TITLE: 
The Change Room
AUTHOR: Karen Connelly
PAGES:  320 pages
PUBLISHED: April 11th 2017
PUBLISHER: Random House Canada
GENRE: Romance, LGBT, Adult Fiction

MY RATING: 3/5 birds

rating-3-birdnew
Page Break

SUMMARY:

Eliza Keenan is the mother of two boys, a business owner and wife to a math professor named Andrew. Her life is defined by her family and she only gets time to herself when she goes for her twice-weekly swim at the community pool. One day she meets a mysterious and intriguing young woman who she nicknames “The Amazon”. The weekly meet ups turn into an illicit affair between the two woman, which threatens her entire world but can something that makes Eliza feel so good, be really that bad?

Page Break

MY REVIEW

This type of contemporary story isn’t something I would normally pick up but I am trying to make an effort to read more novels by Canadian authors and when I saw this on NetGalley I was intrigued. There were aspects that I liked (the writing) and disliked (the characters/story) which lead to three stars.

I was conflicted about Eliza. I didn’t actively dislike her but it was hard to get behind the white, upper-middle-class whining. She complained about balancing work, kids and marriage in her white suburban life and it was really hard to give a damn. This isn’t to say that I don’t think her issues are legitimate to her but it was a bit boring to read over and over again. I also don’t have kids so I really could not relate to how much of the novel was focused on them, most of which was her complaining.

I also thought she was incredibly selfish and a bit ridiculous. For example there is a paragraph where Eliza is describing in detail how much she cleans (*yawn*) around the house and how her mother told her the way to ruin a good marriage is to keep score of who did what. So Eliza “did many tasks herself, resentfully, or in a state of resigned oblivion, often late at night after the kids had gone to bed.”

Yes…because resentfully doing anything in your marriage is super healthy, right? And then the next sentence is about how Andrew suggested hiring a cleaner, which he did himself, but in Eliza’s words after “a couple of duds and one klutz” she went back to resentfully cleaning everything herself.

Oh lord. First, just the fact that you can afford a cleaning should be enough. This is not a cheap service in Canada and I only know a few well-off family friends that have cleaners. Eliza sounds so uptight, even people that clean professionally are not up to her standard and she would rather “suffer resentfully” then work with someone. Then she wonders why her marriage is failing?

Stories like this are always a bit uncomfortable for me, personally. I have a pretty strict moral code when it comes to cheating so it hard for me to understand Eliza’s POV, even if we are told how bad of a husband Andrew is or how stressful her life is, I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t end things before cheating/having an affair.

I was also surprised at how much detailed sex there was in this. Now, if you look at the books I read on Goodreads you see I have read a lot of erotica, bdsm, LGBT stuff so it wasn’t that I am a prude, it just did not work for me. It was really distracting from the actual storytelling and it felt like the author added it for “shock value” which I did not like.

The Quebecois woman was also bit stereotyped in my opinion, and also the line about Eliza’s brother (I think?) who works in the oil rigs in Alberta and makes a ton of money, most of which “goes up his nose”. While that is true for some rig workers it’s a terrible stereotype and so cliché. It also makes other Canadians look down upon Alberta.

I would be interested in reading other novels by Karen Connelly, the writing itself was very well done and I wish I had like this more but unfortunately it just did not work for me.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Canada for letting me read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Page Break

View all my other reviews on Goodreads!

Book Review – Arrival City: The Final Migration and Our Next World

ac

TITLE: Arrival City: The Final Migration and Our Next World
AUTHOR: Doug Saunders
PAGES:  384 pages
PUBLISHED: October 4th 2011
PUBLISHER: Vintage Canada
GENRE: Non-Fiction, Canadian, Urban Planning, Architecture, Sociology, Economics/Politics

MY RATING: 4/5 birds
rating-4-birdnew
Page Break

SUMMARY:

The twenty-first century is entering an epoch that is reshaping our cities and economies by the appearance of Arrival Cities, a term coined by Saunders, which explains the final migration from the rural village to urban areas. This isn’t a localised event focused on the developing world, it is a global phenomenon that is affecting everyone worldwide. These arrival cities establish new lives, where immigrants integrate themselves into a new world socially and economically, to set up life for themselves and their family. Saunders explores slums, gecekondu, favlas, barriadas and various other arrival city enclaves, which provide low-cost housing usually on the outskirts of major cities for individuals to gain entry-level jobs and to generally provide money for their family back in the village until they can make the full transition to urban and middle-class life.

Page Break

MY REVIEW

Arrival City is a richly-themed study of migration across the world, looking at a very old problem in a new way. Saunders casts arrival cities in a positive light, especially the slums which were previously thought as dysfunctional but as he explains, are very organised and an integral part of our society. He explains clearly the role that is needed for producing functional arrival cities and more of the process of acculturation than total immersion. I personally enjoyed this book and how he provided an unromanticized view of village life which is still a big hindrance for governments resisting arrival cities as they have a warped sense of village struggles and culture. I also enjoyed how he humanised the phenomenon by introducing us to real individuals and their personal stories. From this I could make the connection from my own families immigrant history to Canada, and the migrants presented in the story, and perhaps our lives aren’t so different even thousands of miles away.

I noticed that Saunders omitted any discussion about the role of economic growth in playing a part of raising the living standards of migrants. In places like China and Brazil, countries he wrote about, their economies are growing at an alarming rate and at what point does the wealth trickle down to the poor? Following the ‘trickle-down theory’ which essentially gives tax breaks to business which in turn creates more jobs for lower and middle class individuals and leads to goods at lower prices, these seem like all things that would be very beneficial to migrants who are in need of jobs and cheaper goods but Saunders doesn’t speak much about the effect economics play into arrival cities.
Saunders raises many issues not just about what is happening right now but for the future of our cities. After I read the book, I wonder what the consequences of mass migration to cities with non-functioning enclaves in the future will be, especially if governments continue to ignore communities that feel complete isolation and then diverge into more extremist ways of living

Page Break

View all my other reviews on Goodreads!

Book Review -Us (Him #2)

us

TITLE: Us (Him #2)
AUTHOR: Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy
PAGES:  328 pages
PUBLISHED: March 8th, 2016
PUBLISHER: Rennie Road Books
GENRE: New Adult, Romance, Friends to Lovers.

MY RATING: 5/5 birds

Rating - 5 Bird

SUMMARY:

This is the continuation of the Him series. Ryan Wesley is now in the NHL and having an amazing rookie season. Not only is his career taking off but the rest of his life is perfect as well, because he gets to come home to Jamie Canning every night. Having his best friend turned boyfriend at his side he feels unstoppable. The only problem is no one knows just how happy he is because no one in the media or on his team knows he in a relationship or even gay. Jamie wants to be supportive but he hates the secrecy and hiding everything and isn’t sure how long he can take the pressure.

When secrets begin to unravel when Wes’ teammate moves to the same apartment as Wes and Jamie, can they make things work and keep hiding the truth from the world or will their perfect private bubble burst?

Page Break

MY REVIEW:

“Love is friendship set on fire.”

Wes and Jamie are my favourite book couple, hands down. I wish their story would never end…or at least there was one more book after this! I just loved this so much. It was very similar to the first novel; well written, hilarious, emotional, and very steamy. The dialogue was amazing as per usual. Here is a sample of some of the lines:

Eh. There’s no way Blake made that connection. He’s probably over there wondering whether he’d be more likely to encounter a seventeen-foot velociraptor on a beach or in the mountains.

I’ve missed the warm-ups and make it to my seat just at the end of the national anthem. I’m quite proficient at “O Canada” these days. Had to learn the lyrics for my juniors team. The coach can’t just stand there and mouth “watermelon watermelon watermelon” like an asshole.

The drama was perfect as well. There was some miscommunication and issues with Jamie’s health but everything was believable and it didn’t ever make me frustrated like lots of melodrama does in NA books. I even got a bit emotional when Wes called Cindy and called her “Mom”. Ugh, that just made me die a little inside with happiness. Also, the romance did take a back seat in this novel compared to the first one, as Wes and Jamie have more problems than ever before but I didn’t mind it. All the steamy scenes were perfectly placed and I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything.

I also loved all the talk about Canada, being a Canadian myself. I haven’t ever lived in Toronto (I am from the west coast) but I have many friends who do and it was cool reading about Canada in a popular book because usually novels are American focused and even Canadian writers write in American cities.

I especially loved when Jamie was complaining about the cold Toronto winters and wind chill and not wanting to leave his apartment.
I feel ya Jamie.

And when the authors used the term “gong show” I nearly died. I think it is a common word in the states but it originated in the Canadian junior hockey culture. I know it’s such a small thing but this kind of attention to detail makes me really appreciate Bowen and Kennedy.

Seriously, my only complaint is I wish there were more books with Wes and Jamie! I am pretty darn excited to read the spin-off series, starting with Good Boy (WAGs, #1) which stars Jamie’s sister Jess and Blake. I love both of them, especially Blake, so I think it will a great read and I am sure it will include moments with Wes and Jamie so I am really looking forward to that!

Some people were complaining that they wanted (view spoiler) but I am super happy to have a full novel by Bowen and Kennedy because they seriously can do no wrong!

Page Break

View all my other reviews on goodreads!

Book Review – The Taming

12582881

TITLE: The Taming
AUTHOR: Eric Walkers & Teresa Toten
PAGES: 240
PUBLISHED: January 24th 2012
PUBLISHER: DoubleDay Canada
GENRE: Young Adult, and Contemporary.
MY RATING:

Rating - 1 Bird

SUMMARY:

Katie likes to believe she’s invisible. It seems much safer than being exposed as she is–shy, poor, awkward. So getting up on stage in the school production of The Taming of the Shrew should be complete torture. But as Katie tells it, something totally unexpected happened when she stepped on stage: “My head exploded. I loved it. Acting hit me like a sucker punch and I loved, loved, loved it! . . . Invisible Katie became visible Katharina.”

Evan Cooper is, as they say, another story. He knows just what it takes to get noticed, and he uses every one of the skills he’s honed after years of being the new kid. Like tossing the keys to his father’s high-end Audi to a kid he’s never met, first day of school. “I have insurance for car theft,” he explains to a shocked Danny. “And there’s a full tank.” An abuse of the power that comes with privilege and money? Sure.

But more dangerously, is his romance with Katie another version of the same thing? Or is it the real thing?

Page Break

MY REVIEW:

I did not like this book at all. When I was a few chapters in I thought it was going to be about a girl overcoming her shyness on stage and learning more about herself through this Evan character, who I did not realize was going to turn out to be so completely evil. Like really, are people that black and white? His character was not complex at all, the author barely skimmed the surface about why he acted the way he did, other than showing his dad acting similar. He was unlikable right from the get go. I mean this guy raped another girl. This is serious stuff and I felt like the author barely touched that and chalked it up to Evan being a jerk. He seemed almost bipolar but that wasn’t discussed either.

And Katie…hoo boy. Way to stand up for yourself girl. She was really pathetic and unfortunately the way she was written I couldn’t stand her or care for her which is really too bad because generally in novels that deal with abuse you want your readers to be on the side of the victim but Katie was just TOO clueless. It was painful to read. And her character kept flip-flopping all over the place! At first she was this completely shy girl with only 2 friends in the whole world and no experience with boys, to suddenly being madly in love with Evan and constantly praising him – “like, wow you know how to cook fajitas! That is so totally amazing, I think I love you! – please gag me. And then suddenly, within one day, she suddenly became this strong, take-no-shit girl and finally told Evan off. As I was reading I was happy she was finally standing up for herself but there was seemingly no cause for it. From what I understand it is really hard to leave an abusive relationship and it took her one night and then she was seemingly fine with everything and left him.

And I don’t even want to get into her mother and Lisa…that could have been developed SO much more! And Lisa was the only real interesting character in the whole novel, I wish they had talked more about her life.

I think this novel could have been a lot better but it just fell really flat, character and plot-wise.

Book Review – Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

bitten

TITLE: Bitten (Women of the Otherworld #1)
AUTHOR: Kelley Armstrong
PAGES:  422 pages
EXPECTED PUBLICATION: August 25th 2009
PUBLISHER: Vintage Canada
GENRE: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Romance, Shapeshifters (Werewolves)

MY RATING: 5/5 birds

Rating - 5 Bird

Page Break

MY REVIEW & SUMMARY

This is the first novel in the Women of the Otherworld series. The story begins when Elena, the first werewolf in a generation, is trying to adjust to life without her pack. She was betrayed by her soul-mate Clay and tries to hide as a normal human when she meets Phillip, whom she lives with. Philip wants to marry Elena but she is hiding half of her life from him. To make matters worse Clay comes back looking for Elena and wants to bring her back to the pack which tears Elena’s two worlds apart.

I love Kelley Armstrong. I read her Darkest Powers series first and absolutely loved it. Even though it had some flaws, I could tell she was an excellent writer and I sought out the Darkness Rising series after. Again, I was amazed by her writing skills, relate-able characters and interesting plots. I am very excited for The Calling to come out! I also love a Canadian author that actually sets their novels Canada as well, not just some fictional town in the US or in typical Seattle.

I don’t know why it took me so long to get into the Women of the Otherworld series but now that I have read Bitten I am (dare I say it) smitten? haha but honestly, this book was everything I expected from Kelley and more. I already have Stolen sitting in my pile of library books, just waiting in line to be read, and I cannot wait to dive into this series!

Page Break

View all my other reviews on goodreads!

Book Review – The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

thesummoning

TITLE: The Summoning (Darkest Powers #1)
AUTHOR: Kelley Armstrong
PAGES: 390 pages
EXPECTED PUBLICATION: July 1st 2008
PUBLISHER: HarperCollins
GENRE: Young Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy

MY RATING: 4/5 birds

Rating - 4 Bird

SUMMARY:

Chloe Saunders a regular 15 year old girl who just happens to see ghosts. She goes from being just an ordinary teenager to being taken away and locked up in a mental hospital called the Lyle House.

There she meets Liz, Rae, Simon and Derek. Everyone has something “special” about them that is keeping them in the Lyle House and Chloe started to investigate what danger lies not only in the mental hospital but with her new housemates.

Page Break

MY REVIEW:

This book was surprisingly good! What I meant by surprising is the first 100 or more pages were honestly kind of boring and I wasn’t sure where this book was heading. Chloe, the main character, gets sent to a “group home” or mental hospital because she can see ghosts and the first half of the book was mainly her going back and forth between believing in her sights and powers and telling herself she is just crazy. The book suddenly picks up though and gets SUPER CREEPY and after that, I just couldn’t put it down!

Not to mention Derek. I know he was described as being really ugly and was pretty scary in the beginning when he hurt Chloe (by accident) and we didn’t know what the hell he was but by the end I really really liked him. He actually was a huge reason why I couldn’t put the book down. Even though Simon might be the one Chloe ends up with (it was hard to tell if he even liked her, he kind of left it open for interpretation at the end before they ran away) I actually hope Chloe ends up with Derek. She spent way more time with him in the novel than anyone else, he always was there to rescue her and I think it would be amazing if the female main character didn’t always fall for the sexy predictable guy, right? Derek seems like he cares for Chloe but he just can’t show it.

Anyways I am definitely going to pick up the rest of this series!
ps. I only gave it 4/5 instead of full ratings because the beginning was really boring for me, I almost didn’t want to continue reading it, but I’m so glad I did! I think the next book will be even better

Page Break

View all my other reviews on Goodreads!