August 2016 is Write An Amazon Review Month! By @TerryTyler4 #AugustReviews #TuesdayBookBlog – authortranslatorOlga

As you know I am part of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team and Terry Tyler has had a fabulous idea. Here is the post! On Monday 25th July, book blogger Rosie Amber wrote this post encouraging re…

Source: August 2016 is Write An Amazon Review Month! By @TerryTyler4 #AugustReviews #TuesdayBookBlog – authortranslatorOlga

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Review: The Birth House by Ami McKay

The Birth House, Ami McKay’s debut novel is about the struggle of a small fishing village in Nova Scotia trying to come to terms with the advances of modern medicine. Marie Babineau is an elderly Acadian midwife and trusted healer who has seen to the medical and spiritual needs of the village women for years with herbs and spells in exchange for baked goods and local produce. With her young apprentice, Dora Rare, by her side, she fights a continuous battle to keep the old traditions alive. The newly arrived, manipulative Dr. Thomas fights hard to usurp the age-old midwifery with his expensive and often de-womanizing modern treatments. This is a compelling story of a woman’s need to control her own body and to determine her role in a male-oriented society. Certainly a must read for herbalists and those with a keen interest in the women’s movement

 

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Review: Away by Jane Urquhart

Jane Urquhart’s enchanting novel, Away, is a touching tale of love and abandonment that spans four generations and covers two continents. Esther, an elderly woman narrates her great-grandmother Mary’s poor beginnings on the northern Irish coastline and her desperate move across the Atlantic to the unforgiving shores of the Canadian Great Lakes.
Her description of the suffering and terrible injustices experienced by the victims of the Irish potato famine was heart wrenching, as was the crude and poor conditions of the Irish settlers living in Montreal’s Griffintown. Not much, unfortunately, was mentioned of the horrors of Grosse-Ile where so many Irish immigrants perished
The writing is lyrical and well-crafted, blending the magical and the political with the stark realism of each generation.

 

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Review: Orenda by Joseph Boyden

Joseph Boyden’s powerful historical war novel, , takes place in the mid-1600 in Lower Canada when First Nations tribes and French Jesuit priests collided with each other in their quest for supremacy. Like all wars then and now, battles were won and lost with gratuitous violence and cruelty. The detailed and vivid description of two First Nations cultures competing for power by any means possible, and the great human suffering and loss of lives involved is haunting and heart wrenching.The staggering human tragedies experienced by the characters involved as told by a Jesuit priest on a mission to impose his religion on a scared and starving people, by a young Iroquois girl whose visions of revenge are transformed into love, and a Wendat leader who comes to the realization that his vindictive actions may have caused the destruction of his people, are heartbreaking and tragic. An absolute brilliant read.

 

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Review: The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay

This is Moth Renwick’s story, a twelve year  trying to survive life in the slums of Manhattan in the 1870’s, who must decide to be, or not to be, a whore. Abandoned by her father, and sold to an abusive mistress by her mother, she escapes her tormented life as a lady’s maid and ends up sleeping on the street and learning how to steal to survive. Picked up by a whore-in-training, she is recruited by a madam who rescues young street girls and grooms them to become reputable young virgins to be sold to the highest bidder.Although the storyline is interesting, and I do sympathize with the horrors experienced by the poor street children of that era, on a literary level, I found the action a bit slow in some parts. The fictitious posts and poems scattered throughout disrupted the flow of the story and often weren’t connected to what was happening.Overall, I found Moth’s character likeable and courageous, and if I didn’t agree with her decisions, I reminded myself that she was only a twelve-year taking adult decisions. Ami McKay is a splendid storyteller. The Virgin Cure, although not as compelling as her previous work, is certainly a terrific read.

 

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Review: Stoner by John Williams

It doesn’t happen often that a character pulls at my emotions as much as John Williams, Stoner, did. The ending was so painful I had to close the book before it was finished, and come back to it a few days later to give Stoner a proper goodbye.This is fundamentally a story about the cost of love and the sacrifices and compromises involved. It is about a young man from a hard-working farming family who enrols in an agricultural college program only to fall in love with literature. He must leave his farming world to embrace his new love. He falls in love with the image of a gentle girl and ends up in a loveless marriage. His career as an English professor is stunted when he can’t embrace the politics of the university.Stoner is an ordinary man trying to confront the caprices of love. At the death of his father, he ponders whether life is worth living. “He thought of the cost exacted, year after year, by the soil: and it remained as it had been— … Nothing had changed. Their lives had been expended in cheerless labour, their wills broken, their intelligences numbed.”As he reflects about how fruitless his father’s life had been, Stoner himself thinks back about all his years of joyless teaching. It is only when he defies the status quo and brings his love of literature into his teaching methods that he feels the spring come back in his step. His dying reflections about his life comes with a crucial question— “What did you expect?”—which left me asking the very same thing.

   A profound and essential read!

 

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Review: The Stone Carvers by Jane Urquhart

Jane Urquhart’s historical novel, The Stone Carvers, is about ordinary people dealing with the aftermaths of the Great War and the building of the Canadian War Memorial in Vimy, France. Set in the backdrop of Bavaria, to the countryside of Ontario, and then to France, the characters go to great lengths to overcome the limitations of their mundane lives by building or sculpting monuments to immortalize their past. Father Gstir erects a great stone church in the woods to proclaim his Bavarian religion; Joseph Becker and his son Dieter sculpt beautiful religious statutes to remember past saints, Walter Allward’s builds a colossal memorial in honour of the lives sacrificed in the war. It is via her talent as a wood carver that Klara Becker is able to pay tribute to her past lover whose body has never been found.There is great movement in the story: immigrants leaving their homes to start over in a new continent, time speeding by and leaving your old self behind—somewhere, some time, you must pause and remember the past or else you will get lost in your journey. Tilman Becker, Klara’s brother who has refused at a young age to be tied to any single place, follows the great flocks of birds as they move over vast areas of the countryside. How long can he survive alone before his past claims him back?This is a novel of powerful imagery—essential reading for the history buff and lovers of redemptive story telling.

 

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Review: The Siver Chalice by Thomas B. Costain

This historical novel takes place in biblical times and tells the story of Basil, a young sculptor illegally sold into slavery. Because of his talent, his freedom is bought back by Luke, one of Jesus’ apostles. He is commissioned to create a silver chalice that will hold the cup used by Jesus during the last supper. The author presents a detailed account of the  early struggles of Christianity in the time of the Romans. The characters are well done and the plot, more captivating as the story progresses, includes a touching love story. This is the second reading for me, having read and loved it in high school. It has remained an authentic page-turner to be placed on my shelf of classics.

 

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Review: Of Mice and Men by John Steinback

Rereading, John Steinbeck’s short novel, Of Mice and Men, is like revisiting a master at work. The opening scene presents the two characters in an idyllic backdrop of nature beside the Salinas River: George, a simple migrant worker, with his protégé, Lennie, strong and built like a bull, but with the mind of a four-year-old. This is a privileged glimpse of the two simple characters as they relax and talk of their dream of buying a small house on an acre of land with their earnings on a job they’re going to in the Salinas Valley. The characterization is powerful; within a page or two of dialogue, George and Lennie become full-fleshed characters ready to confront the real dog eat dog world at the ranch. Steinbeck gives us a harsh portrait where the mentally and physically challenged are bullied and exploited; where women are sexual objects, and tough love is a way of life. The weak and sickly are cast aside in this world—survival of the fittest is the way to go.Plot and imagery are tightly woven as the characters lead us to the inevitable ending. Just as Candy, the elderly work hand, regrets not having the courage to do the right thing by his dying dog, George must take a similar stand with Lennie.A touching story told in a masterful voice.

 

 

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Review: Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

In Arthur Golden’s novel, Memoirs of a Geisha, we are presented a captivating part of Japanese culture. The story is told as the memoir of an elderly woman who has devoted her entire life to being a successful geisha. We first see her as a poor peasant girl, Chiyo, who is sold by her father into slavery. She will spend her entire youth learning how to please and entertain rich, older men. Sexual exploitation of the young girl is an integral part of her training Appearances are paramount in her trade, so she must learn to camouflage her true self behind thick make-up, sculptured hair, and beautiful silk kimonos as Sayuri the geisha. The young peasant girl, Chiyo, seemed more real to me than the older version of herself as a successful geisha. But then, being real would not make Sayuri a good geisha. Certainly an interesting, historical read.

 

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