Blog Tour | Lily and the Octopus, Steven Rowley

27276262By page 3 of Steven Rowley’s Lily and the OctopusI knew this book would make me ugly cry, and I honestly wasn’t sure if I had the guts to keep reading. I tweeted my trepidation, and the author responded, “So much laughter, adventure and love in the pages ahead. If you cry, I hope the journey will have been worth it.” So I decided to continue, and I’m so glad I did. This book is one of the most emotionally affecting ones I’ve ever read. I ugly-cried like I hadn’t since Patrick Ness’s A Monster Callsand that’s a good thing. The best books rip right into your heart and make you feel as you’ve rarely let yourself feel before, and then stay with you long after you turn the last page. Lily and the Octopus was such a book, and I can say with full certainty that yes, the journey was beyond worth it.

The story begins with Ted on a typical Thursday night, debating with his dog Lily about which celebrity Chris was the cutest, when he notices an octopus gripping tightly to the top of Lily’s head. We realize what the octopus wants long before Ted allows himself to, and by page 3, you can probably tell where this story is going and whether you want to stay for the ride. Lily and the Octopus is a beautifully written story of love, of the fierce connection between us and our pets, and of how love can make us afraid to face the truth.

I love how Ted was afraid he was incapable of love until he met Lily:

When I held my new puppy in my arms, I broke down in tears. Because I had fallen in love. Not somewhat in love. Not partly in love. Not in a limited amount. I fell fully in love with a creature I had known for all of nine hours. (p. 22)

How beautiful is that? And how many of us with dogs or cats or other pets of our own can relate to that sense of instant, intense connection, that feeling that they have chosen us as much as we have chosen them and that we will from that point forward be inextricably bonded? This passage certainly rang true for me; I went from wary pet owner to crazy cat lady in the space of a few seconds, and knew exactly what Ted was talking about.

I also really love how absolutely full of joy and energy Lily is. Her conversations with Ted are hilarious, and her sheer happiness at the silliest things — a red ball, an inflatable shark — is just a joy to see. There is indeed much laughter and joy in these pages, and it was wonderful to see Ted and Lily together. Ted’s love for her shone through, and I couldn’t help but fall in love with her too.

The book faltered somewhat for me during a scene involving a boat. I wasn’t sure what was or wasn’t real anymore, and while Rowley may well have intended that ambiguity, I was too distracted by trying to figure it out to really lose myself in the scene, as I had throughout the rest of the book. That being said, for the most part, I was completely caught up in Lily and the Octopus’ roller coaster ride of emotions, and I’d never hated an octopus more.

I read the entire book in a single afternoon, mostly because I was unwilling to put it down and leave Ted and Lily’s story behind. Even while reading it, I knew I would be recommending it to all my friends, especially those who love animals. I did ugly cry in the end, and grabbed my cat for cuddles and a belly rub. I like to think the look he gave me wasn’t of puzzlement but rather of concern. I just didn’t want to be alone after reading this book, and am glad my cat was there to be with me.

This is a beautiful, moving book, and one I highly recommend. Read it, laugh out loud at its silliness, and let yourself ugly cry if you need to. Then put it back on your shelf and give your dog or cat a huge squishy hug. Just because.

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Thank you to Simon and Schuster Canada for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Blog Tour and Contest

This review is part of the Simon Schuster Canada Perfect Pairing Blog Tour. Check out the full schedule below.

Also: nothing pairs up better with a book than a cup of coffee, so heads up on an awesome contest: Simon and Schuster Canada is giving away a set of books AND one year of free coffee from aroma espresso bar! Enter at readchillrepeat.com.

Summer Fiction Blog Tour

Blog Tour | The Searcher, Simon Toyne

25678239A plane crashes in an Arizona desert and a man emerges unscathed. A label in his suit identifies him as Solomon Creed, and he has no memory of who he is and how he got there. All he knows is that he has the uncanny ability to know how to disarm and disable an attacker and a persistent feeling that he is meant to save a man who he learns has died the day before.

Simon Toyne piles up the questions throughout The Searchereffortlessly weaving in drug cartels, corrupt policemen, a grieving widow, and a thread of the supernatural underpinning it all. It’s an intense page turner, and as Toyne draws us ever deeper into the various mysteries within the town of Redemption, Arizona, you can’t help but wonder how exactly the author would pull it all together in the end.

Toyne’s style reminds me very much of Stephen King, with just a touch of Indiana Jones. Toyne is a fantastic world builder — you can just about imagine Redemption as a desolate landscape where dark secrets can abound and multiply over centuries. Like King, Toyne mixes up the mystical and the mundane, and while at times, I wished he’d just go full out into supernatural territory (so many intriguing hints!), I also felt that this disquiet was precisely what the author intended.

Despite the supernatural underpinnings, Toyne manages to keep most of the story grounded in reality. Drug wars form a major plot thread, not quite connected to the mystery of Solomon’s identity but impacting on his quest anyway. And while there are enough car chases and action packed scenes to keep us riveted between commercial breaks (The Searcher has been optioned for TV), it’s the relationships among the characters that ultimately stand out. Toyne doesn’t shy away from the disturbing lengths to which people go for their families. A moving conversation between a son and his father’s killer is surprisingly chilling, and an adversarial conversation between a kingpin and his son is unexpectedly poignant.

The solution to the mystery isn’t quite what I expected, but it fit in well with themes raised throughout the book. The Searcher is the first in the Solomon Creed series, and I can’t wait to find out how the rest of Creed’s story unfolds.

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Intrigued by The Searcher? Add it to your To Read shelf for your 50 Book Pledge!

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Thank you to Harper Collins Canada for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Want to read what other bloggers thought of the book? Check out the rest of the blog tour below:

Blog Tour | All Inclusive, Farzana Doctor

All Inclusive book coverI absolutely loved Farzana Doctor’s new book All Inclusive. The publisher’s summary begins with the intriguing question “What’s it like when everyone’s dream vacation is your job?” The novel takes place at an all-inclusive resort, and I loved the behind-the-scenes peek at the employees simply going through a work day while having to deal with starry eyed travellers expecting a five-star-everything experience. Anyone who’s worked in tourism, and possibly even retail, may be able to relate.

I love the way Doctor writes about family, and about the tensions that arise from having multiple heritages. One of my favourite parts of her earlier novel Six Metres of Pavement is Ismail’s struggle with his family’s cultural norms in the face of new relationships. Family and self-realization are major themes as well in All Inclusive. Protagonist Ameera, a resort employee whose career is jeopardized by a customer complaint, struggles with never having met her father, who disappeared the morning after she was conceived. Unbeknownst to her, her father Azeez is looking for her, and the reason behind his disappearance makes this quest ever more bittersweet.

All Inclusive Blog Tour Banner

Dundurn Press has kindly invited me to be a part of their blog tour for All Inclusive, and I took the opportunity to ask Farzana some of the burning questions I had while reading the book.

Q & A with FARZANA DOCTOR

Farzana DoctorQ: Ameera works at what many people consider a “dream vacation.” Why did you choose such a setting, and what insight does this career choice give us into her character?

An all-inclusive resort, rife with inequality, seemed like a good setting for Ameera’s struggles. She hopes the job will provide an escape from her life, but instead she finds herself in a walled-in amusement park where she must face herself.

Q: Ameera and her father Azeez’s search for each other takes a much different form than I expected. Why did you choose to have Azeez’s story take that trajectory, and were there any particular challenges that resulted from it?

Azeez’s story came to me by magic. During a period of deep discouragement I heard a voice telling me about his character and his back story. I listen to voices when I can hear them—they always guide me well. At first I didn’t want to write what I was being told; I don’t have personal links to the real-life tragedy in the story and I worried that it might not be respectful to those who do. But the more I researched the issue, the more obsessed and compelled I felt about writing it.

Q: Ameera is compared to a house with a roof and windows, but no walls, because of her lack of knowledge of who her father is. How important is an understanding of one’s origins to one’s sense of rootedness?

It’s not essential, of course (many people don’t know their ancestry). However, I chose this to be an important part of her journey. On a personal note, being connected to my roots makes me feel more grounded.

Q: Ameera is very unfamiliar with the South Asian aspect of her heritage, and the story’s setting away from Canada adds another layer of uprootedness. What is it about this double separation from heritage/home that intrigues you, and how difficult/easy was it to put yourself in Ameera’s shoes?

I wanted to create a liminal space that would magnify her sense of otherness for the reader. This in-between place also offers her freedom to explore things she cannot at “home” in Canada. You know, it wasn’t that hard to put myself in her sandals! So many of us diasporic folk feel this sense of not belonging anywhere.

Q: In one of the most (to me) touching scenes, Azeez advises the pre-teen daughter of a con artist that her parents’ problems are not her own, yet the daughter’s shoulders remain stiff and unyielding. How much do you think children take on their parents’ burdens, and is this reflected in Ameera’s relationship with either or both of her parents?

We know that trauma can be inter-generationally inherited, even if that trauma is not directly witnessed. In this example, the child might not realize exactly what her parents are doing, but she senses the wrongness and stress. Ameera inherited her mother’s solid, independent approach to life. She mostly inherited her father’s physical attributes, but I also wanted to imagine how his losses might impact her without her knowing.

Q: Did you do any fun research about Mexico and resorts for this book? If so, what was the highlight of this research trip?

The research wasn’t intentional. I went to an all-inclusive resort in Huatulco about six years ago and was very awake that trip. I noticed the foreign tour reps and wondered how they lived. I saw the intense beauty around me. I cringed at the unequal relations between workers and vacationers, the food and water waste, the history of land appropriation. All this fed my imagination and helped me create “Atlantis”.

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Thanks to Farzana for answering my questions!

And thank you to Dundurn Press for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour!

All images courtesy of the publisher. Join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #AllInclusiveNovel.

Blog Tour | Only a Kiss, Ines Bautista-Yao (Guest Post)

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Title: Only A Kiss
Author: Ines Bautista-Yao
Publisher: Chamber Shell Publishing
Date of Publication: November 29, 2014
Genre: contemporary romance
 
Blurb:
 
When she was nine-years-old, Katie knew she wanted Chris to give her her first kiss. It wasn’t because she was in love with him (no way, he was her best friend! Besides, she was in love with his fourteen-year-old big brother), it was because she could make him do anything she wanted.
Besides, it didn’t really mean anything. It was only a kiss after all.
 
But then things started to change. They grew up. They parted ways and went to different high schools. And other girls and boys—well, just one particular boy—came into the picture, throwing their lives upside down.
 
Told from the alternating points of view of Katie and Chris, this love story between two best friends will tug at your heartstrings and leave you thinking how the simplest things can mean so much.
 
 
Purchase linksAmazon | Buqo.ph (The book is on sale for ONLY $0.99 until February 14!)
 
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EXCERPT
 

Katie couldn’t get over what she had just witnessed. The kiss Kuya Ben gave her cousin wasn’t like the ones she’d seen in movies or on TV. It was quick and it was through a car window, but it was the most powerful one she had ever seen. It was as if he wanted to gift all the emotions coursing through him to his future bride, and the only way he knew how was through a kiss.

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BRIEF REVIEW
 

I found this book such a fun, breezy read! I love the chemistry between Katie and Chris, and I love the author’s easy, conversational writing style, which makes you feel like you’re actually friends with the characters rather than just reading about their story.

The idea of best friends turned lovers is very popular in fiction, so for this blog tour, I invited author Ines Bautista-Yao to tell us about her favourite best friend couples in fiction.

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My Top 5 Best Friends-Turned-Lovers
Ines Bautista-Yao

When I was a kid, a friend told me to watch Some Kind of Wonderful. She told me it was an awesome movie and that the guy falls in love with his best friend. Back then, this was something totally new to me. All I knew were fairytales, Disney cartoons, and maybe Archie’s love triangle with Betty and Veronica. But after I watched that movie, I had all sorts of feels. It was, I felt, one of the most romantic scenarios ever!

I never really wanted to write about best friends falling in love because I felt, after watching several other movies and TV shows following Some Kind of Wonderful, that it was a tired trope. But then again, the reason why anything becomes cliché is because people can’t get enough of it! And I, too, am one of those people. Even if I told myself I wouldn’t write a story about best friends falling in love, how couldn’t I when I too love the idea so much?

Here are my top five best friends-turned-lovers on the big and small screen. Naturally, Some Kind of Wonderful tops the list.

  1. Watts and Keith in Some Kind of Wonderful-She’s his tomboy best friend who is secretly in love with him. He’s an artist who is in love with the most popular girl in school. He asks for her help to win Ms. Popularity over, but in the end, realizes (with a little help from Ms. Popularity) that the perfect girl has been under his nose all this time.

That scene with such feels: When Watts tells Keith that they have to practice kissing because Ms. Popularity will expect him to know what to do.

  1. Harry and Sally in When Harry Met Sally– They encounter each other several times after college and each time, realize that they can’t stand each other. But when they’re both finally living in New York, they bump into each other at a bookstore and end up hanging out. Then they make a pact to be just friends. Harry says he’s never had a female friend before because he eventually falls for her. And of course, in the end, he falls for Sally and she falls right back.

That scene with such feels: After a huge fight while Sally rants and tells Harry he’s horrible, he looks at her, asks her if she’s done, gives her a big hug, and says, “I’m sorry.” And everything is okay again.

  1. Jenna and Matt in 13 Going on 30– He’s her best friend at 13 and when she wakes up one morning and is suddenly 30, she seeks him out only to find that they’d grown apart. But in her head, they’re still both 13 and he’s still her best friend. He helps her deal with the strangeness of her situation and in the end, when everything goes back to normal, they get married and live in a replica of the dollhouse he had given her on her 13thbirthday.

That scene with such feels: When they kiss on the swings.

  1. Rosalee and Pete in Win A Date with Tad Hamilton– It’s clear from the start that even if Rosalee only sees Pete as her friend, he is madly in love with her. But he makes it seem as if he’s just being overprotective. When she does win a date with celebrity Tad Hamilton and Tad seems to like her back, Pete decides it’s time to make sure things don’t get out of hand. Of course, in the end, Rosalee realizes that she too loves the boy who has loved her all along.

That scene with such feels: When Pete stops Tad in the bathroom and enumerates the different things he loves about Rosalee.

  1. Mindy and Danny in The Mindy Project– Mindy and Danny are doctors together on this show and they’re always bickering. But they’re friends too. He takes care of her even if he’s always making fun of her and vice versa. Now this is insane because I’m not up to date on the show but I know they’re already together (I haven’t gotten to that part yet! Having a 15-month-old and dabbling at being an author who needs to promote her books takes up so much time!). So I don’t know how it happens, but I’ve been following the show and I love this pair because not only are they perfect for each other, they’re hilarious.

That scene with such feels: (I’m pretty sure there are better ones after this one, but this is how far I’ve gotten in the show, so bear with me) When Mindy pretends to be Danny’s girlfriend and he has to hug her in front of the girl who is stalking him. The way his face changes when he looks at her is priceless.

There are so many others: Emma and Knightly from Emma, Kim and Ron fromKim Possible, Gary and Miranda from Miranda (if you haven’t seen the BBC comedy Miranda, you are missing out on loads of laughs and feels!), Ross and Rachel from Friends… so many. What’s awesome is that though the overall situation is the same, each person, each character has their own story, and this is what makes watching them fall in love some kind of wonderful. 😉

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About Ines Bautista-Yao

Ines Bautista-YaoInes Bautista-Yao is the author of One Crazy SummerWhat’s in your Heart, and Only a Kiss. She has also written two short stories, “Flashbacks and Echoes,” which is part of a compilation called All This Wanting and “A Captured Dream,” one of the four short stories in Sola Musica: Love Notes from a Festival.

She is the former editor-in-chief of Candy and K-Zone magazines and a former high school and college English and Literature teacher.  She is also a wife and mom and blogs about the many challenges and joys of motherhood at theeverydayprojectblog.com. She has recently launched The Author Project, a section in her current blog devoted to the stories in her head:http://theeverydayprojectblog.com/inesbyao-author-project/

She posts on Instagram and tweets @inesbyao and her author page is facebook.com/inesbautistayao.

Blog – http://theeverydayprojectblog.com/inesbyao-author-project/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/inesbyao
Instagram – http://instagram.com/inesbyao
Facebook – http://facebook.com/inesbautistayao
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5359512.Ines_Bautista_Yao

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GIVEAWAY

Want to win your own copy of Only a Kiss? The author is giving away lots of goodies!

For Philippine residents:

One (1) winner will get a signed paperback of ONLY A KISS, a gift card from FILA, and a back issue of CAST comic book
Two (2) winners will each get a signed paperback of ONLY A KISS, light up laces, and back issue of CAST comic book

For US/Canada/international:

FIve (5) winners will each get an ebook of ONLY A KISS

Enter the contest on Rafflecopter here!

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Thanks to the author and blog tour host Oops I Read a Book Again for inviting me to participate in this tour! Other stops are in the tour post here.

Blog Tour | Review: Gottika, Helaine Becker

9781770863910Helaine Becker’s Gottika is a powerful retelling of an old Jewish legend about the golem, a magical humanoid being made from clay who is brought to life to protect Jewish towns from anti-semitic attacks. The world that Becker creates in Gottika bears many similarities to Panem and other contemporary YA dystopias, but the reference to Jewish legend turns the into an unsettling allegory for the horrors of the Holocaust.

Fifteen year old Dany is a Stoon, in Western Gottika where Stoons are treated as second class citizens and killed for no reason under the tyrannical rule of Count Pol. Unrest is brewing, and Dany’s father must decide if he must stop trying to keep a low profile and use the secret knowledge he possesses to bring clay to life and transform it into a weapon against Count Pol.

There’s a lot going on in Gottika, multiple plot threads that, though resolved, rarely ever take off. What’s the “staring sickness”, why do all the families in town only have one child each, why is Count Pol kidnapping teenage girls? The final question in particular does have a pretty big significance in the story, but the question feels so tangential, and buried beneath so many other plot points, throughout the story that the payoff feels disjointed.

More powerful are the encounters between Stoons and Count Pol’s soldiers. In one particularly memorable scene, Dany and his father are swimming when soldiers order them out of the water and castigate them for not wearing their hats. The casual injustice, coupled with Dany and his father’s powerlessness to resist, is difficult to read. In another scene, soldiers storm Dany’s house to confiscate his family’s books. The novel breaks from text narration then, switching over to graphics and demonstrating how some horrors are beyond just words.

While more of the main characters are male, I love that the female characters seem to have more complex motivations for their actions. While most teenage girls fear being kidnapped by Count Pol, Dany’s cousin Dalil welcomes it. She is attracted by Pol’s lifestyle, and manages to turn a blind eye to his faults. Later in the story, she is forced to face the truth of Pol’s tyranny, and becomes instrumental in the resistance against it. I love her character arc, how her desire for comfort initially outweighs her loyalty to her people, until she is forced to realize just how much she is condoning by her actions. Dany’s mother as well, quiet and unassuming at first, later reveals a dark secret she’s had to live with for many years. In contrast to Dany and his father’s more traditional heroic roles, I love the nuances and  questions raised by Dalil and Dany’s mother’s more problematic arcs.

The horrors of the Holocaust are difficult to discuss, particularly in fiction for children. Gottika isn’t exactly a simple allegory for that, but it does speak to the oppression experienced by certain groups of people. The story is futuristic, but the tone is that of a classic fairy tale. There’s a timelessness to Dany’s story, and despite the supernatural elements, the sense that there have been, and continue to be, far too many Count Pols throughout history.

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Thank you to Dancing Cat Books for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and for inviting me to take part in this blog tour.

Blog Tour | Review and Giveaway: Empress of the Night, Eva Stachniak

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I love historical fiction, particularly stories about the Tudors, and I was eager to read up on another powerful monarch, Russia’s Catherine the Great, in Eva Stachniak’s new novel Empress of the Night. Unlike Stachniak’s earlier novel The Winter Palace, which tells Catherine’s story from the perspective of a trusted servant, Empress of the Night is narrated by Catherine herself. Suffering from an illness and close to death, Catherine reflects on her life, from her marriage to Peter and ascent to power to the various challenges she faced as a woman running an empire and defending her country against its enemies. In one particularly striking scene, she complains that her male advisers seem to think all one has to do is raise their voice and Russia’s problems will be solved; they don’t understand the delicacy required in leadership. Catherine the Great was a powerful woman, and a heroine to cheer for.

There are many things I like about Empress of the Night. I like that Stachniak chose to focus on a powerful female monarch who hasn’t been given much attention in popular media. (Much as I love the Tudors, even I got tired of the endless stream of novels written about them.) I like that Stachniak’s descriptions put us right in Catherine’s head — at one point, Stachniak describes the sweat trickling down Catherine’s back during a significant occasion. Such details heighten the realism of the scene, and humanize Catherine. There are also a lot of interesting bits, particularly about the challenges of being a strong-willed woman with the power over an empire. Along with the scene I cited earlier, there are moments where Catherine is criticized for her intelligence and candour, and other times where she fights back, and cuts down another character with a sharp look and single witticism. I love these instances of Catherine taking a stand and revealing the strength that made her such an influential leader.

Despite some interesting moments, I found the book to be a very slow read. The narrative framing device detracted from the flow and the time shifts were confusing. Stachniak’s love for detail and description made Catherine’s world feel real at times, yet the writing overall felt uneven and the language at times ponderous. The story felt disjointed — the promise in the flashbacks is bogged down by the present day, and the flashback vignettes didn’t quite tie together as well as they could have.

Being completely unfamiliar with Russian history, I was eager to learn about Catherine’s reign, and about the powerful woman who’d made such an impact at a time when it was mostly men who held the power. This story however focused more on Catherine’s personal life and while that’s certainly a valid authorial choice, I wish I’d seen more of Catherine as a monarch. Even the depiction of Catherine’s personal life could have been explored better — we hear about some of her love affairs yet feel little of the passion behind them. For example, when one of her lovers reveals his true colours and breaks her heart, it hardens her resolve to be more of a leader, a woman dependent on no man. This was a pivotal moment and exciting in terms of the character development, yet we barely get a sense of the passion that drove the affair in the first place. So when the big reveal came, we knew it was significant because of Catherine’s response, but it was difficult to understand why.

That being said, Empress of the Night is a welcome glimpse into a fascinating historical figure. It has piqued my interest in the period and in Catherine herself. A bit of knowledge about the history may help when reading this book, though it isn’t strictly necessary. Catherine the Great is such a significant figure in Russian history, and Stachniak’s novel reveals the human being behind the legend.

GIVEAWAY

Want to win a copy of this book and check it out for yourself? Thanks to Random House Canada, I have a copy to give away.

Click here for your chance to win!

BLOG TOUR

Curious what other bloggers thought of this book? Check out the other participants in the blog tour for their views!

March 24: Downshifting PRO

March 25: Retreat by Random House

March 27: Literary Hoarders

March 28: Lost in a Great Book

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Thank you to Random House Canada for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and the invitation to be a part of this blog tour!

Blog Tour | Review: Canine Confessions, Bernadette Griffin

17861818There’s something about the perspective of dogs that fascinate many readers. Many stories with dog narrators are certainly heartwarming treats, testaments to the unconditional love and devotion dogs have towards their owners. Bernadette Griffin’s Canine Confessions is no exception. Daisy is a lovely and endearing narrator, a posh cocker spaniel who thinks that with her blood and her beauty, she should have been named after Queen Elizabeth or Helen of Troy rather than Blondie and Dagwood Bumstead’s far more common pet dog. She lives with Monique and her husband Harry and children Matthew, Mark and Kathleen, and while she is ostensibly Matthew and Mark’s dog, she bonds the most with Monique, who takes care of her.

Unlike some other books with dog narrator, such as Garth Stein’s Art of Racing in the Rain and W. Bruce Cameron’s A Dog’s Journey, Canine Confessions appears to be more about Monique and her family, and Daisy’s observations of their story, rather than about Daisy herself. Monique is a captivating character — a feminist in 1970s Montreal who doesn’t enjoy sex and fears her husband is cheating on her. Through Daisy’s eyes, we see Monique’s emotional journey, and like Daisy, we want her to find happiness. Monique’s son Mark is also a mysterious, complex figure — clearly troubled and with a drinking problem. There’s a lot going on with this family, a lot of emotions they keep hidden from each other, but that eventually come to light, and through Daisy’s eyes, we see a lot of it unfold as the human characters cannot.

As a narrator, Daisy is a delight. Her standard dignified, almost snooty tone contrasts with her sheer exuberance when she (temporarily) escapes Monique’s house. I love her desire for freedom, and her awareness that the captivity of her species is rather unjustly seen by society as normal. She yearns for her species’ past, partly for the freedom, but more for the dignity that freedom afforded. When she is spayed, the moment is heart-wrenching — we recall an earlier chapter where she longs to meet a male dog, and later, when listening to Monique and Harry’s forced intimacy, she reflects bitterly on her own missed opportunity. Yet she doesn’t take this dissatisfaction out on her owners — her affection for them is genuine, and Monique especially relies on her for comfort.

Canine Confessions is an interesting look at a family in 1970s Montreal, from the point of view of their dog. While the dog is the narrator, the focus is much more on the family, with the dog perhaps sounding almost human herself, and part of me wonders how much would be lost if Daisy were not narrating the tale. Still, it’s a lovely, breezy read, with characters to root for, and a lyricism in the language that reflects the author’s musical background.

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Thank you to Laskin Publishing for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.