A good book has no ending. ~ R.D. Cumming

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

In A Heartbeat

In A HeartbeatIn A Heartbeat by Rosalind Noonan

Ben McGann is spending his summer at a baseball camp, a nice break after his first year in Boston College. Having been born an athlete, Ben quickly came to love baseball specifically and has dedicated his life up to this point at perfecting the sport. When Ben's arrival at the baseball camp bristles some of the senior players who attended during the past summer, rivalries soon begin and threats are exchanged. One team member takes it too far and Ben ends up the victim of a severe beating by none other than a baseball bat. A 3am phone call summons Kate, Ben's mother, to leave her house in Woodstock and drive with her estranged husband, Eli, to Good Samaritan Hospital, where a son she doesn't recognize lays unconscious following emergency brain surgery. Eli and Kate's relationship is further strained while they are forced to sit helpless by their son's bedside - Eli itching to be anyplace but there, Kate itching to find out who did this to her son. But it is up to Greg Cody, police investigator, to piece together the evidence and find out who could have commmitted such a vicious act on such a well-liked boy before someone else falls victim. The question is: will Greg Cody find the perpetrator in time?

Wow! Just like Rosalind Noonan's other novel One September Morning, this novel will keep you at the edge of your seat, frantically turning pages as you attempt to uncover the mystery - a real "whodunit". Rosalind Noonan has done an excellent job in keeping the end a secret right up until the very last couple of chapters. She throws a few curve balls to keep readers guessing and it isn't until the very end that everything previously disclosed throughout the novel seems to fall into place. This novel was exciting and interesting right from the start, and is one that cannot be read fast enough. My only real critique (and this is only me making a mountain out of a molehill, really) is that I found many similarities between the character personality of her antagonist in this novel and her previous one, One September Morning. I hope this is merely coincidence, and in future novels I hope to see her develop the antagonist in a different way. So despite that small hiccup, I absolutely recommend this novel. I will definitely be re-reading this at some point and I cannot wait until she publishes another novel. This is an author whose work closely resembles that of Jodi Picoult. She is an author to watch out for and I hope she continues to write novels for a long while yet!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Forgotten Garden

The Forgotten Garden: A NovelThe Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

Nell Andrews was found on a pier in Maryborough, Australia in 1913 when she was only four years old. The year she turned seventeen, Nell finally found out the truth about her past, finally revealing that her parents weren't, infact, her birth parents. Fast forward to 1975 and as an older woman now, Nell is determined to discover the truth behind her mysterious appearance as a four-year old girl on the docks of Maryborough. Surely she must have had family that were looking for her. Who were her birth parents and why did they allow her to be sent on a boat all alone at such a young age?  Bouncing ahead to 2005, Nell's granddaughter, Cassandra has unearthed the unfinished digging that Nell had been doing about her history. With Nell now dead, Cassandra feels that she owes it to her grandmother to finish the tale and discover where she came from and why. Backtrack to 1900 and it is also the story of Eliza Makepeace, a young girl brought to live with her high society aunt and uncle following the death of her mother and twin brother. When Cassandra discovers that Nell's story begins to entertwine with the story of Eliza, things begin to take shape and readers are in for a treat!

What an amazing novel! I was intrigued right from the start and as the story continued I was constantly trying to stay ahead of the mystery, piecing together the stories being told by each of the characters. Having now finished this novel, I am sad that it's done. This is the type of novel that you hesitate to finish because you don't want it to end. There were so many twists throughout the novel that the reader is constantly kept at bay from learning the whole story until the very end. Once the novel is finished, the whole story falls into place and is amazing to think of as a whole. I absolutely recommend this novel to everyone! This is definitely a novel that you don't want to pass up reading and I cannot wait to re-read this one already. Yet another must, must read!

Monday, April 11, 2011


DayDay by Elie Wiesel

Also included in the Night Trilogy, Day takes a much different approach than Dawn in keeping with the exploration of the author's feelings and views on the world after living in German concentration camps for a year. In this novel the main character, Eliezer, has also survived time in the concentration camps, losing his family in the process. Following the war, the young man is suffering from a lack of will to live. Nothing he does or experiences seems to bring him joy anymore, and he can't stop picturing his family members who have died. On the way to see a movie one day with the woman he is seeing, Eliezer is hit by a taxi as he is crossing the road towards the theatre. During his time recovering in the hospital, Eliezer is plagued by the desire to die, despite various conversations with friends and his doctor in an attempt to convince him otherwise. This is a question that has been on the mind of the author, Elie Wiesel, for some time: "Does life have meaning after Auschwitz?".

Again, I wasn't entertained by the story but definitely respected the idea brought across by the author. After surviving and witnessing such horrible examples of what mankind is capable of, is life really worth living? I can say that I enjoyed this novel much more than Dawn. In hindsight, I'm glad that I read these three novels together, and although out of the three I would only be inclined to recommend Night, I can admit that I would now be inclined to recommend getting the Night Trilogy and reading all three, only because I think it gives a good idea of what happens to survivors in the aftermath. Through the two novels Dawn and Day, Elie Wiesel is exploring the what-ifs that have plagued him for a long time and I think that is important to consider when you think about the ordeal he went through - what happens after it is over?


DawnDawn by Elie Wiesel

Included in the Night Trilogy, Dawn is the story of a young man swept into a group of resistance fighters who are battling Great Britain for the right of the Jewish people to form an independant state in their homeland. Elisha, the young man, is faced with the task of executing a captured British soldier, one whom the Jewish Resistance fighters had hoped to use as a bargaining tool against the execution of one of their own, David Ben Moshe. Elisha is feeling confused about the task at hand; he isn't quite sure if he can or should go through with the execution, all the while dealing with recurring memories of his recent past living in a German concentration camp, sadly losing his family during that experience.

I wasn't overly impressed with this novel. I can appreciate the idea behind the plot - Elie Wiesel, in his preface to the novel, explained that although the situation is different from that which he experienced during World War II, he wanted to explore the doubts and memories that he had from time to time following his release from the concentration camps; for example: what would have happened if instead of being sent to France following his release from the camps, he was sent to the Holy Land? What would have happened if his stay in the concentration camps was more than one year? How much more would any of that have changed him as a man? So although I wasn't entertained by the story, as mentioned above, I can appreicate that this was the author's way of his exploring his own mind and misgivings following the horrors he suffered during the War.

Monday, April 04, 2011


NightNight by Elie Wiesel

After surviving his time in German concentration camps during World War II, Eliezar Wiesel gives us a full account of his life during this harrowing experience. Having been collected along with his mother, sisters and father, Elie was only fifteen when he was exposed to the cruelty and brutality of the German SS officers. He had to learn that there were other more sinister meanings of words he formally knew to be innocent: selection, chimneys, hunger, thirst. Being fortunate enough, if one can call it fortunate, to survive these camps, Elie felt it was important to share his story with the world so that it may understand what happened to all those men, women and children, affixed with gold stars, during the rein of the monster known as Hitler.

This was a hard novel to read. The book itself isn't very long, but contains so much emotion within its pages. Elie Wiesel battles within himself as he questions God and ultimately comes to believe that there can be no God, for if there is how could he let these atrocities happen to his people. Elie also must face the shame and guilt he feels as his father's life draws to a close, when Elie can't help but feel relief at the loss of extra responsibility during a time when taking care of oneself required enough energy, nevermind needing to care for and be responsible for one's aging father as well.

I'm so glad that Elie Wiesel had chosen to write this novel. I think it is important for our future generations to learn from past mistakes, and to understand what our ancestors had to go through during those terrible times. Although this was a hard subject to read about, I think the novel is excellently written - it is forward and honest, and isn't designed to elaborate gruesome details of people's deaths (so there are no detailed descriptions of people being beaten to death, or babies being shot, etc), although these things are alluded to throughout the novel. Due to the aforementioned content, I recommend this novel only for those who feel they are prepared - I hesitate to limit my recommendation to a specific age because I think it will vary for each individual whether they can handle this particular subject, however I would suggest this isn't read by anyone younger than highschool aged. I highly recommend this novel.

Note: I read this novel as part of the Night Trilogy, comprised of Night, Dawn and Day by Elie Wiesel.
Night Trilogy


DivisaderoDivisadero by Michael Ondaatje

This novel follows the lives of Anna, her sister Claire, her father, and Coop, the adopted son of their murdered neighbours. Both Anna and Claire's mothers died during childbirth; after feeling pity for the newly-born, newly-motherless Claire, Anna's father had decided to bring her home and raise her as his own along with his own daughter, Anna. Fast-forward to two young teenaged girls and the now twenty-something Coop, things become problematic when Anna discovers a desire in her awakened by the young man. The family is shattered after a discovery made by Anna's father, and Anna's world is turned upside down. Readers are then introduced to the life of a now-deceased author, Lucien Segura, and the mirror between that past and the present that reflects love, family and how one's own past can dramatically alter one's present.

I wasn't overly wowed by this novel. It is written in sections so as to introduce the characters Anna, Claire and Coop in one section and author Lucien Segura in another, and I found that I could have enjoyed each section more as a separate story. It didn't seem to me that the tale between triangle of Anna, Claire and Coop was ever finished, and I found myself wondering what became of them. Then I got into the part about the author and I found that I wished that part to be a novel in itself so that it would have been developed further and I could have read more about those characters. To me the two parts didn't compliment each other, as it seems they were intended to. I can see the intent to correlate the theme of love, family, etc, however the two stories were so different from one another that, like I said above, I wished each was a separate story. Unfortunately this is yet another novel that I wouldn't necessarily recommend, however, as always, I encourage each individual to use their own judgement; another reader may enjoy this and get more out of it than I did - it did win the Governor General's Award, so there are obviously many others who were impressed with this novel. I, sadly, am not one of them.