All of My Friends are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman

There are 249 superheroes living in Toronto, but Tom is not one of them. His friends are, and so is his wife: the Perfectionist. On the night of their wedding, her jealous ex-lover Hypno hypnotizes her into believing that Tom is invisible, breaking both of their hearts.

All of My Friends are Superheros was easily the sweetest, saddest, funniest and most romantic book I have read in ages. It somehow manages to pull of being fantastical while still brutally honest, giving a view into the human psyche that no non-fiction essay could accomplish.

Join Tom and his amazing assortment of superhero friends in the wackiest tale of true love ever imagined. I believe this is one I will read again and again.

Thanks to Ang for the recommendation!

Paperback: 112 pages
Publisher: COACH HOUSE BOOKS; 1 edition (Oct 16 2003)
ISBN-10: 1552451305
ISBN-13: 978-1552451304

The Divine Ryans by Wayne Johnston

Coming of age is difficult for anyone, but more especially so for Draper Doyle Ryan, whose recently deceased father keeps appearing in the house, yard, and local hockey rink, and whose family has produced such an overwhelming number of priests, nuns and martyrs that he can never escape their watchful and disapproving eyes.

Draper Doyle (always referred to by two names, much to his chagrin) just wants to play hockey and attend school like a normal boy, but instead he must learn to sing, dance and box like a good Catholic orphan (half-orphan, to be precise). As he and his family struggle to make sense of his father’s mysterious death, he grows closer to his strange (funny!) and reclusive uncle Reg and learns the key to controlling the overbearing Aunt Phil.

This is the second of Johnston’s books that I have read, and while the characters were of his typical humourous and engaging style, there was no real build or hook to the story itself. I was more than halfway through the novel before I could really pinpoint the central plotline, and when I left it in the office over a long weekend, I felt no pull to get back to it four days later, and if it wasn’t on my TBR list and due back at the library I could easily have forgotten to get back to it.

Still, when all is said and done I think it is safe to say I haven’t laughed at a book so much since reading Gordon Korman as a child. Truly entertaining.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

Hardcover: 304 pages

Publisher: Doubleday Canada (Feb 10 2009)

ISBN-10: 0385665822

ISBN-13: 978-0385665827

Late in January, I was perusing the “upcoming releases” on a major book-selling website, and came across the title A Red Herring Without Mustard, a murder mystery with an 11-year old detective. It just had to be looked into. I quickly discovered this was actually the third book in a series about the incorrigible Flavia DeLuce.

I immediately noted the author’s name and the title of the other books, and added them to my “to-be-read” list. The next day, I get an invite to the February book club meeting which read:

The Sweetness at The Bottom of the Pie

So, everyone was wishing there was a lighter read on the list, and I happened to have this one in my purse. Gina called quorum and so here we are. The opening drew me in and I am quite enjoying this little murder mystery so far…

I missed book club because of a family event, and still they picked the one book I just decided I had to read. Serendipitous, no?

This was a fun book to read. Flavia is a perfect heroine. I was always wondering what she was going to do next. There has not been such a precocious young girl in fiction since Anne Shirley. I cheered for her, I felt for her, I wished she would stop getting herself into such ridiculous situations. But I did love reading about her.

While the amusing thoughts and deductions of the heroine kept me reading, I just didn’t get into the story, or the style. It is written about an 11-year-old, but it is not a children’s, or even young adult book. The grammar and vocabulary didn’t seem to match the plot. Also, the family relationships were just not believable. I know he was going for overly exaggerated discord between the sisters, and the stereotypical emotionally distant father, but they were all so cold, it was hard to root for anyone.

I am intrigued enough by Flavia, and glimpses into her father’s character that I will likely read more. I’ve been trying to get back into mystery reads, which I used to love, and maybe this is the series I need to get that started.

Come Thou, Tortoise

Written by Jessica Grant

Category: Fiction
Format: Hardcover, 432 pages
Publisher: Knopf Canada
ISBN: 978-0-307-39754-6 (0-307-39754-8)
Pub Date: March 10, 2009

I grabbed this book from my sister at the last minute, before a three-part flight from Halifax, NS to Montgomery, AL. I was intending to spend most of the flight working, and wanted a little something extra just in case I needed a break. I cracked it open a few minutes after leaving Halifax, and was finished by the time plane #2 landed in Atlanta. I could not stop reading.

The story starts with Audrey (Oddly) Flowers, living in Oregon with her tortoise Winnifred, having recently broken up with her boyfriend. She receives a call saying her father was in a terrible accident, so she leaves Winnifred with some rather unreliable friends and heads home to St. John’s, NL. On the way, she disarms an air marshal, who she believes is a terrorist, and locks herself in the plane bathroom with his gun.

It is an atypical coming of age story. The usual bits are there: she arrives home, her father passes away, her Uncle Thoby leaves for England, she is alone to sort out her life. And she discovers she didn’t know her family & friends as well as she thought she did. But that’s the end of anything ‘usual’ in the novel. Narrated jointly by Audrey and Winnifred (yes, the tortoise helps to narrate), and featuring a talking fruit fly (just for a moment), is a beautiful, hilarious, and surprisingly deep story of love and family secrets.

Come Thou, Tortoise is possibly the quirkiest, most charming book I have ever read. I have read a lot of quirky, but it often comes without the charm, leaving you with the thought that the author is trying to prove just how odd they can be. But this is a story that is necessarily quirky. No one is trying to prove anything, this is just how it has to be.

I absolutely adored this book. I laughed out loud. I cried. All on the plane. In front of strangers. It was fabulous.

 

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Published at Her Ladyship’s Quest.