Category Archives: review

The 2017 Evan Yeong Literary Awards

As laid out in the first-ever Evan Yeong Literary Awards, the purpose of these blog posts has been to provide a retrospective of the books read in the past year. Typically these have been written and published in January, but here we are. Better late than never, as I always say.

2017

This is the first of these awards to be written during my relatively new career in publishing. While I wouldn’t say I have a strong understanding of the ins and outs of what’s hot in the industry, I certainly have a healthier grasp of things, especially compared to past years when I had none whatsoever.

The other notable difference is that the list of books read has been censored in part, due to a number of the books having been unsolicited manuscripts that I was asked to read during my time as an Editorial Intern at Penguin Random House Canada. A handful were also unpublished manuscripts or ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) and have been marked as such. You can check out a full list [with the exact dates of when I read each one] at this link.


zealot

ALMOST AS COMPLEX AS THEIR NAMESAKE

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan
Published 2013

Those who aren’t as familiar with the works of C.S. Lewis should know that “Aslan” is the name of the Judeo-Christian-God-stand-in of that author’s Narnia series. The lion is a complex figure, embodying a dichotomy of a being that is “isn’t safe” while also “good”. Aslan himself is a likewise complicated man, having been raised Muslim, converted to Christianity in his teens, then back to Islam, a faith he continues to practice, and did during the writing of this book. A fascinating fact for both believers and nonbelievers alike is his statement that whether or not he was the son of God, the Nazarene definitively performed miracles.

brother

SHOULD HAVE WON THE 2017 GILLER PRIZE

Brother by David Chariandy
Published 2017

One of many short, powerful works of fiction that I read this year, Brother is as unpretentious and beautiful a novel as you’re likely to find, and a worthy contender for Canada’s loftiest and most coveted literary prize. Shining a spotlight on Scarborough in the 90s, an area that I have (recently) shamefully joked about only “technically being Toronto”, this book would have served as a reminder of the real life stories that are overlooked and underheard.

The actual winner of the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize was Michael Redhill’s Bellevue Square, which I read the ARC of. Brother was longlisted. Continue reading

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Mum: A Short Film Review

“Mum.”

It’s a term that elicits a broad range of emotions, with each of our respective childhoods affecting how we react to it. Who we were, growing up, is a significant factor. But what about instances when who we are now is worlds apart from the person we once were?

Having spent much of her career up to now working in television, Mum is Anne-Marie O’Connor’s first short film, and one that she created with the help of star Kate O’Donnell, a transgender actor. Her debut short focuses on a trans character of the same name whose visit home is derailed by the discovery that her mother is in very poor health.

Much like the director, O’Donnell’s limited experience is also in television, where she starred in an episode of the transgender romcom series Boy Meets Girl. As the character at the centre of this short film she delivers a performance that, while uneven at points, always feels painfully real. Continue reading

2 Broke Girls, S6E22 “And 2 Broke Girls: The Movie”: A TV Review

Is this the end of 2 Broke Girls? That’s a question that may have been on your mind while watching this episode, and which I’m actually going to be addressing a little later this week. For now let’s live in the moment and break down whether or not “And 2 Broke Girls: The Movie” was a successful season finale.

This is the fifth I’ve reviewed, so in addition to what’s expected of a typical season finale it’s also worth considering how 2 Broke Girls in particular tends to wrap things up. For the past few episodes what can only be assumed are the profits from Max and Caroline’s Dessert Bar have been climbing, but without any indication as to why that number is important. Now that the season is coming to a close tradition dictates that money come back into focus. Continue reading

2 Broke Girls, S6E21 “And the Rock Me on the Dais”: A TV Review

Look, at this point pretty much everything is pointing towards 2 Broke Girls not getting a Season 7. I have a Google Alert set up for any related news, and week after week I’m sent articles tracking its flagging viewership and overall ratings. At 4.6 million, last month’s “And the Alley Oops”  marks the smallest audience the show has ever had throughout the course of it airing. What’s more, at the time of this writing CBS still has yet to renew the sitcom for its 2017 fall lineup.

With all of that being said, and this very likely being the penultimate episode, I’m definitely realizing very late in the game that this show is all about Ms. Caroline Channing.

It’s an odd prospect to consider given how much the sitcom has focused on Kat Dennings’ Max Black. Dennings objectively has the larger personality and star power, given her minor role in the Thor franchise. Considering how much 2 Broke Girls has doubled down on their crass humour and one-liners, Max shares the title role but commands a larger portion of the spotlight. So what do I mean when I say it’s really all about Caroline? Continue reading

2 Broke Girls, S6E20 “And the Alley-Oops”: A TV Review

I mentioned not too long ago that chances are Season 6 of 2 Broke Girls will be 22 episodes. That means that “And the Alley-Oops” is the antepenultimate installment, and you would hope that at this point the showrunners would begin lining things up in preparation for the finale. Nope, this is just an episode about bowling.

Caroline and Bobby have some mild conflict, but even it describing it that way feels hyperbolic. Max is very much a footnote to the episode, and on the outskirts the rest of the diner gang get up to their own light shenanigans. In other words it’s pretty par for the course, as 2 Broke Girls has been lately, but at Episode 20 we should expect a little more. Continue reading

2 Broke Girls, S6E19 “And the Baby and Other Things”: A TV Review

It’s funny, because with a title like “And the Baby and Other Things” you would think that this episode would be centred on little baby Barbara and her parents, Sophie and Oleg.

What’s also funny is that I wrote that opening line before watching this episode, and hey, I was exactly right. The “Baby” in question actually has nothing do with the daughter of the most-cheered-for couple on prime time television. That being said, Sophie and Oleg were actually one of my favourite parts of an episode that continues the trend of Season 6 being heavily back-loaded with Caroline-centric plots. Continue reading

2 Broke Girls, S6E18 “And the Dad Day Afternoon”: A TV Review

dad-day

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I began watching the promo for this week’s 2 Broke Girls. Max meeting her father, really? Typically any references to her upbringing are about her extremely neglectful mother, and the last time that was touched on in any major way was literally three seasons ago.

That episode was the Season 3 finale, “And the First Degree”, and it’s impossible for “And the Dad Day Afternoon” not to be compared to it, for better or for worse.
Continue reading