Archive | January, 2013

Before His Time by Darren Craske

22 Jan

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When we last left the Station Guard and his talking Rat companion, they were eager to head for Switzerland in order to find the other humans that remained on Earth.

After a massive intergalactic catastrophe, all of Earth’s humans are gone. All except for the population of Switzerland, which somehow avoided the peril that befell the rest of Earth and the Station Guard.

With only the foul-mouthed talking Rat for company, the Station Guard is eager to embrace those human’s that remain. After a brief stop at Marks and Spencer to get some winter outer gear (and the blowing up of a shark), the Station Guard and the talking Rat are catapulted through thought and space to Switzerland by Astrid, an articulated python.

Except that there’s a problem. A Very Big Problem. If the Station Guard and the Rat act, they could prevent the whole catastrophe from happening in the first place. If they don’t act, they risk getting lost in history itself. However, they must be careful. For anything they do will have an effect on what will become of the Earth and the fate of humanity hangs in the balance. Add to that the fact that their lives are in grave danger and you’ve got the makings of a blockbuster adventure!

I’ve never appreciated how hard it is to write a review for a sequel without giving anything away or anything away from the first novel in a series. Why the hesitancy in giving anything away? Well, I said it before and I’ll say it again: This book is so good that it deserves to be discovered on its own and dived into.  However, if my plot summary seems especially meager this time around, that’s because I’m trying to be conscious of those who don’t like spoilers or those who haven’t read the first book.

I absolutely loved Above His Station. It was one of my very favourite books of 2012. I wondered if the sequel, Before His Time, would live up to the first book and figured it would. I needn’t have worried. Before His Time is Darren Craske at his most wonderful and inventive best.

Filled with laugh out loud humour, fantastic characters, a lightning quick plot with hair turns and twists aplenty and more meta references than you can shake a stick at, Before His Time is a comedic masterpiece on par with The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

The great thing is that, if you haven’t read Above His Station, Craske gives readers a hilarious take on “The Story So Far” that had me laughing out loud before the novel even really began.  Once the introduction chapter is over, we’re thrown headlong into one of the best novels I have ever read, period. The plot goes places I never envisioned and I have rarely had such a good time.

With pop culture references that cover everything from Back to the Future , Jerry Lewis, Star Wars all the way to Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor, Craske is a writer with his finger on the vein of hilarity. What’s skillful about Craske’s writing is how seamlessly he works the humour in. It comes naturally to his writing and never feels forced. Make no mistake however: this is a madcap adventure that will either have you laughing out loud or holding your sides as you laugh internally. It should probably come with a warning for people who don’t like laughing in public places. However, if you don’t mind laughing yourself silly with the occasional person staring your way, than full speed ahead, I say!

We’re only a hop, skip and a jump into 2013 and Craske has already topped himself again. Before His Time is a skillfully written comedic novel that touches on everything from time travel to history and back again. And I couldn’t have been more thrilled to have taken the ride.

Now would be a very good time for a chocolate digestive biscuit…or two. Oh, and mind the trees. They like to sing on occasion…

Cupcakes at Carrington’s by Alexandra Brown

21 Jan

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Georgie Hart loves her job. She works as a sales associate in Carrington’s ladies bag department. Though she works on commission, she loves it. Carrington’s holds all the wonderful memories of her childhood with her now deceased mother. She still gets a thrill every time she steps through the shops doors.

Okay, so she’s in debt up to her eyeballs and hasn’t had a date for Valentine’s Day in years, since the breakup with her ex-boyfriend. However, she finds solace at Cupcakes at Carrington’s, the café run by her best friend Sam, and the occasional Red Velvet cupcake.

Georgie doesn’t mind living the quiet life. However, her world is given a shakeup of the first order when everyone at Carrington’s is informed that sales are declining thanks to the recession and Carrington’s will be going through a makeover where some people will have their jobs declared redundant. The makeover is being done by the evil Maxine who is wielding her axe with a well-manicured hand and a breathy, phone sex voice. She creates instant dislike on first sight. Georgie is heartbroken to learn that she will now be in competition with all the other sales associates. Only those with the highest sales will be able to keep their jobs.

However, there is more than the possibility of being jobless for Georgie to contend with: Her best friend Sam has met Nathan, the man she claims is “the one”, her boss James, who is married, begins to flirt with her, her best mate Eddie is depressed when his boyfriend dumps him for someone else, her estranged father contacts her and Georgie wrestles with whether or not to forgive him and her mountain of debt is growing.

All in all, Georgie’s life has gone upside down. Thank goodness for the red velvet cupcakes that Sam makes. Otherwise, there would be no relief!

When I first got the eBook of Cupcakes at Carrington’s, I figured I was in for a chick lit novel filled with delicious food and a slapdash plot filled with hilarity. Thankfully, Cupcakes at Carrington’s by Alexandra Brown is so much more than just a chick lit novel. It has the humour of Sophie Kinsella, the warmth of Cecelia Ahern and the wit and wisdom of Maeve Binchy and the cheek of “Are You Being Served? “. Even more wonderful is that Cupcakes at Carrington’s is Alexandra Brown’s first novel.

I absolutely loved Cupcakes at Carrington’s. I would even go so far as to call it the perfect novel: secrets, laughter, love and cupcakes. What more do you need? How about characters that are so real they leap off the page? A plot that had many twists and none of them predictable? Characters you love and those you love to hate? Or an ending that will leave you filled with joy? Cupcakes at Carrington’s has all these and more.

I was torn between wanting to take my time reading Cupcakes at Carrington’s and wanting to read it as quickly as possible to find out what happens. The novel is an unputdownable page turner of the highest order and Georgie Hart is a protagonist you will fall in love with and root for.

Not to be outdone, Alexandra Brown’s secondary characters are all wonderful and the perfect complement to Georgie. None of them are cardboard cut outs. Instead, Brown has created an incredible cast of characters to people Carrington’s. Alexandra Brown writes with a deft pen and creates a world I want to live in and characters I’ve grown to love. The result is nothing short of magic.

Thankfully it’s the first book in a delicious new series and the second novel is coming out in November 2013. This is one of my favoutie reads of the year so far and I can’t wait to find out what happens to Georgie next. In the meantime, I’ll wait patiently for the paperback to be released here in Canada so that I can read Cupcakes at Carrington’s for a second time!

Of course there is one thing: the book left me with a hankering for Red Velvet cupcakes. I’ve never had Red Velvet cake but, because of Cupcakes at Carrington’s, I plan to change that in the very near future!