Stones by Timothy Findley

4/5 stars.
Hardcover, 221 pages.
Read from December 08 to 13, 2014.

There were a lot of mixed reviews on this collaboration of short stories, especially from Findley fans, but as this is my first collaboration by Findley, I stand impressed. Stones is a novel about relationships and how the effect our lives, especially some of the harder aspects in life like death and loss. One thing I particularly enjoyed about this novel was how Findley wrote a few different stories on the same characters. What one short story lacked, the next one would pick up on, whether that was a plot detail or elaborating on a part of the character’s personality or relationships.

This book has depth. I found myself thinking about the characters long after I put the book down. The book blurb on Goodreads mentions something about relationships and urban settings in the 1980’s but I don’t feel that any of these stories relate to a specific time frame but rather it’s more about the context of relationships and how they change our lives.

“Bragg and Minna” is the name of the first story in the book and of the two main characters. Their story is one of the most potent. The story opens with how Minna has died and Bragg is going to pick up her ashes. Bragg is bisexual, potentially a homosexual, but he loves Minna The two of them have their own quirks but that is what brought them together. The couple splits up shortly after they had children, one with severe mental disabilities. Bragg never wanted children but Minna came to a breaking point with the matter. After the birth of their mentally disabled daughter, Minna took the children and moved away Australia, which is where, years later, she dies . The story is filled with nostalgia and regret as Bragg makes the long trip over to claim her ashes.

The following story, “Gifts of Mercy”, detail how Minna and Bragg met. This story makes the last one even more tragic.

From here, each story revolves around a new tragic character. From a professor inspecting a mask, a man suffering from PTSD as a result of WWII and the effects it has on his family, to a disturbing but fascinating read about a pair of married psychiatrists whose patient’s dreams start to become a horrifying reality for one of them.

The stories are so different in tone. Some are tragic, some border on horror and others are more nostalgic but all of them revolve around the intrinsic relationships that we make in our daily lives.  Overall a great compilation of short stories that I’d recommend to just about anyone.

Playing Doctor by Kate Allure

21996367

3/5 stars.
ARC, e-book, 256 pages.
Read from December 18 to 26, 2014.

I’d like to thank Becca from Sourcebooks Casablanca and Netgalley for allowing me to read an advanced reader’s copy of this book! Publication date: January 6, 2015.

This erotica novel contains 3 short stories with a doctor-theme. Whether the main character is a doctor or the love interest is one, if you fantasize about anything to do with doctors, you might want to pick this book up.

The first story, I would say is by far the most romantic and, well different. Dr. Lauren Marks is in her mid-thirties and has just recently found herself divorced after her husband left without a goodbye one morning. The story revolves around her decisions to start living life for herself, and of course a hot new intern who happens to be way too young for her.  This story had the most character development in it and for once, I didn’t mind. The sex scenes weren’t stellar but Dr. Lauren’s character was ultimately what drew me into this story. She is smart, strong and independent and she makes some awesome decisions in this story in regards to her ex-husband and with her hot new intern.

The second story follows Valerie, who has recently required surgery on her ankle and happens to be hot for her surgeon. The downfall, she is married and loves her husband. However, her husband owes her a big favor and she decides to try to get permission from both men to join up for some threesome action. This story has the best sex scenes in it, by far! This story, for me, seemed to have found the perfect balance between character and the sex plot. I knew just enough about the characters to get involved in their story and then the rest was allllll sex!

The final story in this book related to someone my own age, which was nice for a change, which must mean I’m getting old! Nikki is in her mid-twenties and has just recently suffered a break-up, but her awesome friends force her out for a night on the town. At the bar, Nikki hits it off with a really good-looking guy named Hunter and unfortunately the night goes sour later on thanks to his friends so she never gets his digits. While she continued to think about the Hunter she never expected to see him again. However, while going in for her annual check-ups Nikki finds herself in an uncomfortable situation when Hunter shows up in the exam room as her doctor. I cared for this story the least, despite being closer in age to Nikki; the sex scenes were okay and it just got all too mushy and unrealistically romantic for me at the end.

Overall a decent erotica read with a nice mix of scenarios!

 

 

 

 

My Favourite Reads of 2014

happy-new-years-cat

As a new year approaches I like to take a look back on what books I’ve devoured over the last year. These are my top 3 favorite reads, for both fiction and non-fiction, that I read in 2014:

*Click on the links to see my reviews of each of these

Fiction Top 3

3) Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell: One of the mostly beautifully written modern stories I’ve ever read. The novel’s tone is dark and lurking but is balanced with the fierceness of  Ree, the female protagonist. A quick and awesome read.

2) All The Light We Cannot See By Anthony Doerr:  Winner of the Goodreads Choice Award 2014 for Best Historical Fiction! This novel is one of the most popular published books of 2014 and it’s worth all the attention. Following the lives of two young people who are on opposing sides of World War II, the novel explores humanity at one of its worst times in history. This book has all the feels! Worth the read.

1) Stupid Children by Lenore Zion: I can’t say enough good things about this book. I came across this small-time publication through The Next Best Book Club on Goodreads and I was lucky enough to be apart of a group discussion with the author (see my review for some insight into this discussion). This book has a strange but amazing concept. After Jane’s father attempts to commit suicide, he is institutionalized and she is sent to the foster care system. The family she is adopted by is apart of the Second Day Believers cult. The novel depicts Jane’s upbringing with this family and the ordeals of living within a cult. This book is funny, creepy and extremely thought provoking and is the kind of book I almost want to read again. Support small press and buy this book!

Non-Fiction Top 3

3) The Romanov Sisters by Helene Rappaport: This novel won the Goodreads Choice Award 2014 for Best History & Biography! Lucky for me, I was able to read this book through Netgalley.  For those that have never explored non-fiction or even a history piece, I’d recommend this one for you. This informative book reads so much like a fiction and it gives a massive insight to the lives and personalities of the Romanov family.

2) Skin Picking: The Freedom to Finally Stop by Annette PasternakThis book is a bit personal but it was so immensely helpful that I have to include it. For anyone suffering from a BFRB (body-focused repetitive behavior), please read this book! It’s informative and has real exercises and practices that will dramatically help you get a handle on your condition. Life changer!

1) Diet Cults by Matt FitzgeraldWe are constantly bombarded with information of what to eat and what not to eat. Tragically, all of this information often times contradicts itself depending on the source and whatever died fad is currently being endorsed making being healthy quite confusing. Matt Fitzgerald, a professional coach and athlete, makes food simple again with this book and breaks down the data that many diet cults perpetuate. He never bashes diet fads but explains why they appeal to people, why they work for a short time, why our bodies can adapt to eat anything and how to get back to the basics and stop stressing over food! This was a game changers for me with my approach to food.