[Book Talk] The Agony of Bun O’Keefe by Heather Smith

Book Details:

Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Penguin)
Read: August 2017

Synopsis:

Set in 1980s Newfoundland, The Agony of Bun O’Keefe is the story of a 14-year-old girl who runs away to the city and is taken in by a street musician who lives with an eclectic cast of characters: a pot smoking dishwasher with culinary dreams; a drag queen with a tragic past; a Catholic school girl desperately trying to reinvent herself; and a man who Bun is told to avoid at all cost.

My Thoughts

Thank you to Penguin for a review copy of this book! 

A lazy Saturday at home with the kids had me reading through parts of all the books I had been reading at the time, but part of me had wanted to start something new (seriously, the dilemma of all bookworms), so I gravitated towards my small pile of review books and picked out The Agony of Bun O’Keefe by Newfoundland writer Heather Smith.

This book was the perfect pick for a lazy day because it was super fast to read and the story grabbed me right from the first chapter. I loved young Bun and really felt for her and what she was going through at home. I really enjoyed the cast of characters she comes to live with and felt like there was just enough drama in the story to keep in interesting and not over the top.

I had to keep reminding myself that this story took place in the 80’s and not present day because honestly a lot of it seemed almost unbelievable. It’s hard to believe that a character like Bun ended up where she did with her naive ways and blunt way of speaking. I’d also say that the ending was almost too easy and not at all believable, but the story was enjoyable all the same.

I didn’t realize that this book was marketed towards middle grade and it almost seems too heavy for that age range. It felt comfortable as a YA read with lots of diversity and just heavy enough to not be overbearing.

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[Book Talk] Dinner With Edward by Isabel Vincent

Book Details:

Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher (Thomas Allen & Sons)
Read: August 2017

Synopsis:

When Isabel meets Edward, both are at a crossroads: he wants to follow his late wife to the grave, and she is ready to give up on love. Thinking she is merely helping Edward’s daughter–who lives far away and has asked her to check in on her nonagenarian dad in New York–Isabel has no idea that the man in the kitchen baking the sublime roast chicken and light-as-air apricot soufflé will end up changing her life.

As Edward and Isabel meet weekly for the glorious dinners that Edward prepares, he shares so much more than his recipes for apple galette or the perfect martini, or even his tips for deboning poultry. Edward is teaching Isabel the luxury of slowing down and taking the time to think through everything she does, to deconstruct her own life, cutting it back to the bone and examining the guts, no matter how messy that proves to be.

My Thoughts

Thank you to Thomas Allen & Sons for a copy of this book! 

My friend Ambur included this book in a stack of books she sent me from Thomas Allen & Sons and I’ll admit that at first I was a little hesitant about reading it. While I do read non-fiction, I tend to be super picky about what I choose to read and I thought I probably wasn’t going to like this one. Of course, then I read it was about food and so I dove right in … on an empty stomach.

Bad idea!

Edward is this master chef in this book, one of those people who just knows how to make spectacular dishes and each chapter starts off with a menu. Automatically I cursed myself for skipping lunch and wished I had some gourmet French cuisine at my fingertips. But this isn’t just a story about food; Isabel is going through some personal things with her marriage and Edward had just lost his wife. This is a story about friendship, love and loss, and food.

I loved the relationship that Isabel and Edward form in this book and kind of wish I had an Edward in my life. I loved all the little tips and tricks about food that were throughout the story, and I loved seeing how Isabel dealt with her own issues after learning about Edward and his wife. This is a really, really small book – small in size and just 200 pages so it’s really quick to read. I loved picking it up and wanted to know what Edward was cooking next and what he and Isabel would talk about at their next meeting.

This is definitely one of those books that pack a punch, one of those unassuming books that sneak up on you and take your heart. Recommended!

[Book Talk] Deer Life by Ron Sexsmith

Book Details:

Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Dundurn)
Read: August 2017

Synopsis:

A wicked fairy tale of witchcraft, bullying, revenge, and a mysterious bowler hat. Includes Ron’s own whimsical illustrations.

Deryn Hedlight was not having a very good day and it was about to get much worse. He’d read stories of witches as a boy, but never believed for a second they were true. That is, until an unfortunate hunting accident turns his world upside down. What seemed like an honest mistake leads to an altogether unexpected transformation. But poor Deryn wasn’t the only wronged character tied up in these gloomy circumstances and sinister forces.

Deer Life tells the story of a kind-hearted boy from Hinthoven and his motheṟs undying love. Mostly though, it’s all about patience, friendship, and heroism where you least expect it.

My Thoughts

Thank you to Dundurn for a review copy of this book! 

I have a bit of a funny story when it comes to Ron Sexsmith. In case you didn’t know, Ron is a beloved Canadian songwriter and his songs are quite beautiful. I think it was through the radio that I had won tickets to this super secret concert he was putting on in the city so I took my brother. My brother, cynical guy that he is, told me that it’s not FREE, nothing is ever FREE, and that I shouldn’t think that I’ll get out of this without having to buy something. As it is, we got a lovely lunch, an intimate solo concert by Ron, pictures and autographs afterwards, and then we got to go on our merry way – all totally free and awesome.

Since I had this memory in my head when Dundurn contacted me to review his upcoming book, I agreed happily. I was kind of under the impression that this was going to be a kid’s book since I read “fairytale” and assumed. The only other book I had read that wasn’t non-fiction by a musician was Hawksley Workman’s Almost a Full Moon which was a story based on one of his songs and a book full of gorgeous illustrations, so that got my hopes up as well. Unfortunately, this book left me more confused than anything.

This book seems to suffer from a case of not knowing who its audience is. At times I felt like I was reading a fairytale for kids, and at other times I was reading one for adults. The story was just okay to me, but really really hard to really digest. The flow was off and I found that I really had to concentrate on reading – it’s almost like this was a first draft of the story, written with plenty of parenthesis and stream of consciousness and just lots of confusing dialogue that made it really hard to just enjoy the story. What I was expecting was a beautiful, whimsical fairytale but what I got was lots of confusing text, sketches that didn’t match the calibre of the cover illustration, and a mediocre story at best. I had hoped for something that I could buy and add to my Canadian bookcase for my kids enjoyment, but I think I’ll give this one a pass.