The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker

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“Life up here may be simple but it’s not easy, and it’s not for everyone. Water runs out; pipes freeze; engines won’t start; it’s dark for eighteen, nineteen hours a day, for months. Even longer in the far north. Up here it’s about having enough food to eat, and enough heat to stay alive through the winter. It’s about survival, and enjoying the company of the people that surround us. It’s not about whose house is the biggest, or who has the nicest clothes, or the most money. We support each other because we’re all in this together.”

Calla Fletcher left the Alaskan wild at only two years old when her mother took her to Toronto, leaving behind Calla’s father and a place she could never come to call home. Twenty-four years later all Calla knows is a busy, city life, when she learns of her estranged father’s diagnosis. Soon after, she finds herself back in the small Alaskan town where she was born and braving the unfamiliar terrain in an effort to finally get to know her father. While life in Alaska is a tough adjustment for her, it is the perfect fit for Jonah – the pilot who helps run her father’s plane company – who is convinced that the city girl is not cut out for the rural life. What begins as animosity eventually turns into friendship and possibly more. But going down that road may mean repeating her parents’ mistakes. Continue reading “The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker”

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

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“This crusade to fix herself was ending right now. She wasn’t broken. She saw and interacted with the world in a different way, but that was her. She could change her actions, change her words, change her appearance, but she couldn’t change the root of herself.”

Wow. This book. I ended up picking up The Kiss Quotient over the weekend on a whim, and ended up with a book that I absolutely loved. We are introduced to Stella, a thirty-year-old econometrician, who works with data all day, and usually everyday because it’s something she loves and finds a great amount of comfort in. She is incredibly successful in her career but not so much in the dating department. A big factor in her struggle with intimacy and relationships is that she has autism, which impacts those interactions. Convinced that she needs lessons on how to be good at sex and relationships, she hires Michael, a male escort. The interesting proposal is something Michael can’t afford to turn down, and the two find themselves in a practice relationship. But something that starts out as a fantasy starts to feel all too real. Continue reading “The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang”

The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen

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“I’m homesick all the time,” she said, still not looking at him “I just don’t know where home is. There’s this promise of happiness out there. I know it. I even feel it sometimes. But it’s like chasing the moon – just when I think I have it, it disappears into the horizon. I grieve and try to move on, but then the damn thing comes back the next night, giving me hope of catching it all over again.”

Following the death of her mother, Emily Benedict moves to Mullaby, North Carolina to live with the grandfather she never knew. In fact, her mother’s past and life in Mullaby is one big mystery to Emily and upon her arrival she gets more questions than answers. Not only are the reactions to her by the townspeople somewhat strange, but there are bizarre occurrences that show that there is more to this little town than meets the eye: Unknown lights appear in the woods behind her grandfather’s house, the wallpaper in her room changes to suit the mood, and her next door neighbour, Julia, bakes hope in the form of cakes. As Emily slowly learns the stories behind the mysteries of Mullaby, Julia has to come to terms with her own past and hopefully find a sense of home she lost so long ago.  Continue reading “The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen”

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

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“That’s the thing with time, isn’t it? It’s not all the same. Some days – some years – some decades – are empty. There is nothing to them. It’s just flat water. And then you come across a year, or even a day, or an afternoon. And it is everything. It is the whole thing.”

Tom Hazard may look to be in his forties, however he has actually been alive for centuries, the 1500’s to be more precise. As a result of a rare condition that slows down the aging process, Tom has lived through history, from performing with Shakespeare to having cocktails with F. Scott Fitzgerald. But life has also been one of challenges, pain, love, loss, and the desire for a normal life. Tom did fall in love and have a normal life for a period of time, however his unchanging appearance brought on unwanted attention, and he had to leave it all behind. Eventually he returns to London, the city that holds all his most treasured and painful memories, and he feels the possibility of a normal life once again. However, all of this is under the watchful eye of the Albatross Society, and its shadowy leader, Hendrich, who protect people like Tom through some questionable ways. And their main rule is to never fall in love. Continue reading “How to Stop Time by Matt Haig”

Flesh and Bone and Water by Luiza Sauma

IMG_4924“… I feel as if I’m flicking through a filing cabinet, reading files written in a language I once knew, but am out of practice in. The language of being young, of knowing nothing. I’m setting these memories out as though they came to me simply. This happened, then this and then this. But that’s not how it is. That’s not how it was.”

Flesh and Bone and Water is the story of André, a man who grew up in Brazil living a life of wealth and privilege as the son of a successful plastic surgeon. The tragic death of his mother leads to a shift in his life and as a restless teenager he daydreams of a life outside of Brazil. Decades later he is living in London with his wife and children, when out of the blue he starts to receive letters from a person from his past, which both startles and takes him back to that critical time in his life; the loss of his mother and the events that led to his departure from Rio. The novel travels back and forth from London to Brazil, revealing a story that André had repressed.

‘Isn’t it funny?… You yearn for things that you didn’t even like at the time.’

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This is a well-written and well-paced debut novel. The story flows smoothly from André’s present in London to his recollections of his life in Brazil after his mother’s death. For a relatively short novel it manages to deal with a lot of topics, primarily those of class, race, and privilege, and it does it well. The author also perfectly encapsulates the restlessness and carelessness of youth, along with that sad nostalgia felt in the present when revisiting the past. As mentioned, the pace of the novel is really well done and I breezed through the story as the truth behind André’s departure comes to light, which is ultimately quite shocking. Flesh and Bone and Water is a strong debut novel and I look forward to seeing more from this author.