Arc Book Review: Girl In Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

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ashley | It may not be the healthiest of habits, but I’m endlessly drawn to broken people. Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow grabbed me in title alone. A story about a girl in pieces. That is a girl I want to know. That is a girl I will no doubt relate to. I went into this with high expectations and prepared myself to be rubbed raw. Even so, the realness and rawness of this book stretched beyond my expectations and brought me to a place I haven’t been in a very long time. It cuts and it cuts deep.

As with a lot of stories about self-harm or depression or mental illness, this starts out in a mental institution and we are introduced to the group of girls our narrator Charlie is surrounded by. They all have various inflictions, different ways of self-harm, and it’s hard to not be pulled into this group, a strange fascination with their stories, how they got there, where they come from. We aren’t given a lot of information off the bat, but it builds the atmosphere, an atmosphere that is really hard not to compare to Girl, Interrupted. Charlie gets to tell her story too, in these diary-like snippets, and it’s pretty brutally honest. She rarely shares these thoughts with her doctors, in fact, she doesn’t even speak while she’s there, but we get to see inside of her head, we get to read what she is feeling, we get to go deep.

What I found most interesting about this story was that this wasn’t really about Charlie’s time in a hospital, but focuses more on what happens when she doesn’t have the funding to stay there and has to fend for herself in the real world. She isn’t on the street, but she has no idea how to do real things – like pay rent and utilities, buy groceries, open a bank account etc. Things we all sort of take for granted, Charlie is seeing for the first time. Her thoughts and feelings about loneliness and her struggles with her demons are so real and so well done. We watch her find a job and try and open herself up to people and continually struggle with her demons and the desire to cut and trying to stay clean.

This is a dark and depressing book. There’s no other way to put it. Bad things happened to Charlie, bad things continue to happen to Charlie. It’s like she is beaten and beaten and beaten by life to the point where you want to scream for it to stop. I’ve seen comments about it being too depressing, almost a little overdone with the hardships that come across her, but I kind of liked this darkness. It was hard to read, it was hard to witness, and I’m not trying to glamorize these situations for my own entertainment, but the low points, they made the high points all that much better and while they were few and far between, there were some beautiful things mixed in with all that darkness.

Some of those beautiful things were the people Charlie meets on the outside. The dangerous electricity between Charlie and Riley, the heartbreaking friendship between Mikey and Charlie, these relationships really got to me. They are broken and yet at the same time, beautiful. Charlie is broken, and yet at the same time, beautiful. I especially loved the way Charlie fell in with a group of girls and learned that special bond that female friends can bring to a friendship. She met some not so great people who tested her, but she met some really great people who helped her, too. And that was the light in this otherwise super dark and heart wrenching story.

I can’t imagine this was an easy book to write, it wasn’t an easy book to read, but it definitely was a worthwhile read and a stunning debut.  This doesn’t claim to be any kind of memoir, but Glasgow shares some of her personal story at the end and I applaud her for rolling up her sleeves, putting herself out there and owning her past.

5CityGirlScapesRating

more information
amazongoodreads Penguin Logo website

available
august 30, 2016

copy provided for honest review by
Net Galley

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Book Review: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (Re-Read)

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veronica | This isn’t my first time nor my last time reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, but it has been a few years since the last time I’ve picked it up. JK Rowling created one of the most fantastical world’s with Harry, a world I will keep coming back to time and time again.

At its core, it’s a simple story of right and wrong. But to read it and know it the way Rowling meant it to come across is a thing of beauty. There will always be novels and series that speak to a generation and this is one of them.

We, like Harry, are introduced into the Wizarding world like never before. Imagine learning that you’re not an unwanted family member but an infamous wizard from the moment your parents were murdered. Rowling has an uncanny ability to not only carefully craft such an amazing story but the Wizarding world and it’s cast of characters are so well thought out, nary a character is there just to move the plot point.

Even though I’m familiar with the entire series, following along Harry, Ron and Hermione as they go through their first year at Hogwarts is still refreshing and fun. A classic almost the moment it hit the stores, this series will always remain a favourite.

5CityGirlScapesRating

more information
amazongoodreads website

published
june 30, 1997

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Book Review: The Midnight Watch by David Dyer

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veronica | When I first came across The Midnight Watch by David Dyer, I had high hopes, I felt that I would automatically love it, afterall, who didn’t love James Cameron’s Titanic? But this isn’t about the Titanic, per se, but the actions and inactions of the SS Californian on the fated night the Titanic met her fatal end by iceberg.

In this fictional telling following the aftermath of the sunken Titanic, John Steadman, a Boston Journalist with a nose for the truth, doggedly follows this tragic story across the ocean and never gives up. Even well into his 60s.

Everybody knows the story of the unsinkable ship and it’s much more affluent passengers, but in The Midnight Watch, we get to hear the stories from third class passengers and what might have been the dialog between the captain of the SS Californian, Stanley Lord and Second Officer, Herbert Stone who witness the Titanic’s distress rockets.

Reading about the Californian’s refusal to come to the aide of the Titanic, despite being the closest, was heart-wrenching. So many souls lost that could have been saved had Lord offered assistance. Whether it was cowardice or just ignorance, we will never really know since the real Stanley Lord never relented in his denial.

This new perspective that Dyer offered in this debut novel was refreshing to read and recommended for anyone with an interest in the Titanic. And I didn’t even mind that there wasn’t a sweeping love story.

3.5CityGirlScapesRating

more information
amazongoodreads website

published
april 5, 2016

copy provided for honest review by
Net Galley

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Book Review: Still Mine by Amy Stuart

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ashley | I’ve been trying to get my hands on a copy of Still Mine by Amy Stuart for a few months now. I read a great blurb in a magazine that caught my interest and ever since, I’ve been anxious to read this. It’s being marketed as the next Gone Girl or Girl on a Train, so I wonder what the odds are that this could be the next book turned into a film.

I really liked how this story was structured. We know that Clare’s name isn’t really her real name, we know that she is on the run from her husband, but there are a lot of other questions about her situation that come up quite early and we’re baited along through most of the story, left to theorize on our own. I like when this happens, I like trying to figure things out without being given much to go on.

I also really enjoyed the characters of the small town. They were colourful small town folk with their own secrets and inner turmoil and outer distaste for strangers and certain neighbours. Growing up in a small town I can really relate to all of this, which always makes it interesting for me to read about.

I did think that Clare was a bit aggressive in her pursuits, I know she had a job to do, but I had a hard time accepting that these closed off people would be so open with her about a missing person’s case when she’s being so aggressively nosey. She wasn’t all that subtle in her line of questioning, I just feel like if they were suspicious of her being a photographer, they had to be more guarded than they were being.

As things unravelled, nothing seemed all that surprising, but I did like how the characters started to weave together and I really liked learning more about the stories of the townsfolk, how a mine cave in tore apart all their lives in different and often overlapping ways. These were some real characters. Real complicated characters, but I really felt for them, much like Clare was feeling for them, and though I figured one of them was responsible for the missing girl, it was really hard not to fall in with the crowd.

The way things came together in the end was actually surprising for me, which is huge. At one point or another, I could see everyone as a suspect, but the way it played out was really bittersweet and not entirely expected. I really appreciated this unique way to approach your typical what-happened-to-the-missing-girl story arc and while that was all pretty much tied up in the end, I liked how there are still some loose ends for Clare that create questions or even perhaps a follow up book.

3.5CityGirlScapesRating

more information
amazongoodreads simonschuster website

published
march 1, 2016 in Canada
august 16, 2016 in the US

copy provided for honest review by
Net Galley

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Book Review: The Angel of Eden by D.J. McIntosh

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veronica | I’m a sucker for historical fiction and this series by D.J. McIntosh was such a delight. I’m sad that The Angel of Eden is the end of the trilogy because I feel John Madison has so much more to give and many, many adventures left in him. This series has always given me the action of a Jason Bourne but the intelligence of Sherlock.

Before picking up The Witch of Babylon, I had no idea what Mesopotamia was nor that it held such biblical importance, that it actually starts around 10,000 BC. But not only that, many of our modern studies are based on Babylonian times. Amazing right? What made this such an amazing series is how effortlessly McIntosh was able to slide these often dry historical facts into exciting dialog.

As the title suggests, in this last adventure John embarks on behalf of yet another wealthy client to recover a stolen book on angel magic. With the promise of money and even better, the promise of finally learning the origin of his birth, John heads back to Istanbul and the Near East where he discovers the true location of the Garden of Eden and those that would do anything to protect it.

This was a page turner from the get go and while I was desperate to finish it, I also didn’t want it to end. Why do good things have to end?

5CityGirlScapesRating

more information
amazongoodreads Penguin Logo website

published
june 23, 2015

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