Tag Archives: book review

Librarian Book Smack: A Culture War Report

The other night my roommate convinced me to join her at our regional library’s “Book Smack” event. At first I was concerned that it would be a tedious affair. After all, why would you want to talk about a book when you could just go ahead and read it? However, the event page promised that the librarians would “let their hair down, take off their glasses and speed review their favourite books” and that it would be “fast, furious and fun” night, so with the image of wild librarians in mind, I decided to go along.

When we arrived at the venue, I wasn’t overly surprised to see that the audience was primarily older women. The featured librarians were also all women, although only two of them sported silver-white hair.

Before the event started the MC set some ground rules. Each librarian would have a certain amount of time to convince the audience to read/watch/listen to a few of their favourite books/movies/audiobooks/CDs. In the first round each librarian was given five minutes, then three, then only one, to review their books. During the intermission audience members would then vote for the librarian who they thought would would win the book smack. Then, for the second round, librarians were only given three minutes, then one minute, then only thirty seconds to defend their choices.

I’m not entirely sure what made this event as fantastic as it was. Maybe it was just the fun of seeing librarians mutter words like “full frontal” and “masturbation warning”. Perhaps it was the appeal of seeing a group of much older women giddy with laugher all around me. Most likely, it was the reminder of just how amazing books are, and how they can bring us together by inviting us into new worlds or allowing us to wrestle with our own struggles. Continue reading

Monsters: A Book Review

I don’t normally review books in soft-copy. It’s difficult to read from a computer screen for that amount of time, and I find it easier to relate to a book’s solid permanence; if I can pick it up to hold and read, maybe you can [and should] too. That aside, I agreed to review something a friend had written, so here it is in all its candidness.

Monsters: a collection of short stories is exactly that, seven tales penned by  Caleb Bollenbacher, a 2011 graduate from Baylor University. Only available on Amazon for the Kindle, an excerpt of the book’s description is as follows:

Nobody yearns to be a monster. But sometimes it works out that way.
Sometimes you merely find yourself looking into the face of one.
Sometimes that face is your own. Continue reading

The Cloaca: A Book Review

The sophomore collection of short stories from Halifax-based author Andrew Hood, The Cloaca is 138 pages of people who don’t know what they’re doing.

Described on the back cover as “your high school gym coach, drunk and dishing dirt on all the other teachers on the crosstown bus,” the stories in this book capture your attention like a man on a bicycle wiping out in the rain, or a bunch of Italians yelling at each other on the sidewalk [both of which I saw two days ago]. Continue reading

Ashes of Silver: A Book Review

Written by recent college graduate (and former classmate) Garret Forsman, Ashes of Silver is an introduction to the world of Hearthstead and its many inhabitants. Certainly a fantasy novel by any stretch, this self-published novel unfortunately falls short on a number of levels.

An excerpt from the back cover reads:

 In the aftermath of a bitter war, the reclusive mage Xlynx takes the time to write down what he can of the history of Hearthstead. Before he can get far, though, he is called upon to enlist a scattered group of tortured souls at the behest of an enigmatic ally. Continue reading

The Virgin Diaries: A Book Review

“What does it feel like to lose your virginity?” This is a question asked in red font, all-caps, at the top of the back cover. This is also a question that I can confidently say The Virgin Diaries answers. With the  stories of 72 men and women and their respective first-time sexual experiences, this is a book that provides several dozen responses.

Edited and compiled by mother/daughter writing team Kimberly A. Johnson and Ann Werner, The Virgin Diaries is made up of stories that span a number of decades. To gather this information anonymous questionnaires were sent out, with the expectation that they be answered in a story format. While the authors of these stories make themselves distinct from one another through their voices, the way in which questions were asked definitely has an impact on how narratives were told and, consequently, how they read. Continue reading