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There are a lot of book reviews to share this week. Below are some of the literary suggestions that have appeared in the local blogosphere.
Maria from I Believe in Story reviews Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, which is set in Italy in the early 1960s and Hollywood in the present day. "The book takes place throughout a span of fifty years, introducing new settings and characters with each turn of the page," writes Maria. "I'm still not sure how I feel about this book. I absolutely loved the sections set in 1962, but the contemporary plot lines bored me at times." In two other posts, Maria recommends eight Canadian novels, and then offers her list of the top eight forgotten classics.
Donald Ermen of the blog The Bookworm mentions The Lab by J. Saint James, a novel about the search for extraterrestrials, human existence and the end of the world.
Poetry reviews by Rob Mclennan
Rob Mclennan is a local literary gem. If you are not familiar with his work, he is an Ottawa-based poet and blogging superstar. His blog is a cornucopia of literary news, including a large collection of seemingly never-ending reviews of new poetry books. Below are some of the reviews that he has recently posted on his blog and other literary web sites:
- Edmonton poet Jenna Butler’s third trade poetry collection seldom seen road. "(This) is a book of disappearance, as (Butler) composes poems on ghost towns, forgotten figures and those who have been otherwise lost," writes Mclennan.
- North Amherst, Massachusetts poet Dara Wier's new collection of poems. "Combining a long cadence with a strong narrative, You Good Thing is constructed out of forty-two sonnets that explore the long sentence, and sweep through and around a series of observations, breath-takes and commentaries on social issues and globalization," writes Mclennan.
- Franzlations [the imaginary Kafka parables] by Gary Barwin, Craig Conley and Hugh Thomas. This poetry collection by three authors, writes Mclennan, "read like an illustrated translation or even continuation of Kafka’s work.
- Glossolalia by British Columbia poet Marita Dachsel. Mclennan says in his review that the poems are, "a polyvocal work of poetry as 'an unflinching exploration of sisterhood, motherhood, and sexuality as told in a series of poetic monologues spoken by the thirty-four polygamous wives of Joseph Smith, founder of The Church of Jesus Christ ofLatter-day Saints.'"
- ivH: An Alphamath Serial by Victor Coleman. "One of Canada’s consistently interesting and innovative poets, Victor Coleman is undervalued," writes Mclennan. The review then says that Coleman's latest poetry collection, ivH: An Alphamath Serial, is a work that self-describes as, “a faux transtranslation of Raymond Queneau’s 1939 novel Un rude hiver!"
Young adult novels
Ciara of Lost At Midnight Reviewes raves about 17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma, which tells the story of seventeen-year-old Lauren who has visions of missing girls who have just one thing in common: they are 17 and have disappeared without a trace. These visions lead Lauren to see how she can help the missing girls.
Kelsey's Cluttered Bookshelf writes about The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen, a story about a teenager named Macy Queen who is coping with her father's death. "After hearing so many good things about Sarah Dessen’s writing I finally picked one of her books up, and I have to say she has me hooked now," writes Kelsey. "Not only is it the romance and the addictive characters, but every bit of development in this story kept me reading."
Firestar Books reviews Wonder by R.J. Palacio. This book tells the story of August (Auggie) Pullman, a 5th grader who has not been able to go to regular school due to a facial deformity. Now that he will attend regular classes, however, he needs to convince his classmates that he is a normal kid with an unusual face. "If there was one book I wish I had with me when I was in grade 5, this book would be it," says the Firestar review. "[M]ost of us don't have it as bad as August but we've all had our own insecurities.... R. J. Palacio was able to put words to emotions we've all felt into words simple enough for middle graders."
Read My Breath Away reviews The Colossus Rises by Peter Lerangis, which follows Jack McKinley a normal boy who is going to die in a few moths. "Overall this was a fun, exciting novel for my first foray into middle grade fiction," says the review. "I will absolutely be keeping my eye out for the next novel in the series."