JUSTINE LEWKOWICZ

Reviews

Stories 1 to 5 of 176
1/22/2015

BOOKENDS REVIEW: Vanessa and Her Sister (Historical Fiction)

Vanessa and Her Sister Priya Parmar Historical Fiction SYNOPSIS: Set in London in the early 1900s, the story revolves around the Stephen siblings – Vanessa, Virginia (Woolf), Adrian and Thoby – and the Bloomsbury Group of artistic friends that they bring together. The circle of intellectuals gathers in the Stephen household before any of them have met with real success. Of course we know that eventually names like Virginia Woolf, E. M. Forster, John Maynard Keynes, Lytton Strachey and Roger Fry will become renowned. The story focuses on the dedicated sisters, Vanessa and Virginia. Their relationship takes a sharp turn when Vanessa gets married. Virginia feels abandoned and becomes terrified that the family is being torn apart. MY THOUGHTS: As the title suggests, this book is very much about the relationship between two sisters with opposing personalities. Even though Vanessa is the narrator, it’s Virginia that grabs your attention. Priya Parmar’s Virginia Woolf is needy, desperate, and competitive. You’ll be begging Vanessa to stand up to her once and for all, and yet some part of you will want to forgive Virginia for her faults. Parmar says in her Author’s Note that while the external chronologies are mostly accurate, the ... Read more
1/18/2015

INTERVIEW: The Devil You Know (psychological thriller)

The Devil You Know Elisabeth de Mariaffi Fiction LISTEN: I chat with author Elisabeth de Mariaffi about part of the inspiration behind the book, her own memory of getting a phone call from police when her friend Sharin’ Keenan disappeared in 1983. SYNOPSIS: As rookie reporter Evie Jones covers the arrest of Paul Bernardo in 1993, she is haunted by her own past. Twelve years earlier, her best friend Lianne was kidnapped and murdered. The suspected killer has never been found and Evie becomes determined to connect the dots herself. As she searches for the missing elements to the story, she brings trouble to her own doorstep. MY THOUGHTS: Elisabeth de Mariaffi does a good job at twisting the storyline and keeping you guessing as to who did what and who is who. She does an even better job at getting you inside the mind of the main character. Evie is someone who takes things to extremes – both her paranoia, and her recklessness. It’s her obsessive thoughts and irrational actions that accelerate the story. De Mariaffi keeps the tension at a satisfying level throughout the book. There was a moment while reading that I let out a loud sigh, ... Read more
1/12/2015

BOOKENDS REVIEW: The Girl on the Train (a whodunit thriller)

The Girl on the Train Paula Hawkins Fiction SYNOPSIS: Rachel takes the same commuter train into town each day, one that stops next to a row of townhouses she once called home. As the train passes by her old neighbourhood, she spies on the area’s residents. She used to live in number twenty-three. It’s now home to her ex-husband and his new family. A few doors down, she spots the same couple eating breakfast on their roof terrace every morning. She calls them Jess and Jason, the perfect couple in her eyes. One day, Rachel learns the woman’s real name is Megan and that she has disappeared. The same night that Megan went missing, Rachel ended up stumbling through her old neighbourhood in a drunken stupor. She thinks she might know something about Megan’s disappearance, except that the alcohol has affected her memory. Over the coming weeks, as police investigate the mystery, Rachel does her own digging. MY THOUGHTS: This seems to be the month of whodunit thrillers, which is timely after the popularity of the film Gone Girl. The Girl on the Train is one of several new murder mysteries on my bookshelf right now. Paula Hawkins creates suspense ... Read more
12/16/2014

LISTEN: MY FAVOURITE BOOKS OF 2014

If you still have a few names left on your Christmas list, or if you’re looking for something to read on your days off during the holidays – here are a few ideas! I’ve reviewed a few dozen books this year, and here are my top 10 picks of 2014. So head to your local bookstore and pick up the one that catches your eye. Then, curl up on the couch, pour yourself some eggnog, and read away! LISTEN: I joined film critic Richard Crouse on Newstalk 1010 to go over my list of favourites. FICTION Interference: When I first started reading Interference, I wasn’t convinced that a novel made up (partly) of standalone short stories could flow nicely. I was soon surprised at just how expertly Michelle Berry was able to lace everything together into a fast-paced, suspenseful, and powerful page-turner. She reminds you that no one’s life is perfect, that you shouldn’t be jealous of someone else’s gains because you don’t know what their lives might be missing. SEE MORE…  Crimes Against My Brother: David Adams Richards is undoubtedly a gifted writer. I’m stunned at how he was able to create such a complicated, twisted tale. Every ... Read more
12/8/2014

BOOKENDS REVIEW: Will Starling by Ian Weir

Will Starling Ian Weir Fiction SYNOPSIS: Will Starling is a surgeon’s assistant in a post-Napoleonic-War world of scientific discovery and Romanticism.   The story is set in London in 1816. Starling’s mentor, Alec Comrie, is one of the most skilled surgeons in town. But most of all, he is honest. That’s in contrast to an old schoolmate, Dionysus Atherton. Atherton is certainly talented. He’s also ambitious, greedy, and will give bribes whenever he can to get his way. He wants to be remembered as a revolutionary in the scientific world, and to accomplish his goals he will sink to the lowest of lows.   Starling begins to question Atherton’s practices when a woman witnesses the surgeon seemingly bring a body back to life. As he investigates Atherton, Starling comes across the Doomsday Men, grave robbers who sell corpses to some of London’s shadiest characters. MY THOUGHTS: This was a book I read next to the fireplace once the sun went down. With the book set in the early 1800s, a room lit by candlelight seemed only fitting as a backdrop for this reading experience. I would describe the book as a bit of a Frankenstein mystery, with some Jack the ... Read more