Archive for the ‘book reviews’ Category

The Dog Eared Review of ‘Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers’ by Mary Roach

March 25, 2016

“The way I see it, being dead is not terribly far off from being on a cruise ship. Most of your time is spent lying on your back. The brain has shut down. The flesh begins to soften. Nothing much new happens, and nothing is expected of you.”

Due to the graphic nature of this book I won’t go into much detail of the contents therefore making this review substantially shorter than others but, as I am perfectly aware that there are those who share in my curiosity, I believe it falls within acceptable parameters being that I am writing for a post-secondary institution. 51f-QUJNhnL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

With my slight significant fascination for the macabre and an even greater appreciation for modern science, Stiff immediately became a necessary read when I first noticed it as I was perusing old, ‘read this book before you die’ lists somewhere online. With an exaggerated nod to my somewhat over-fed appetite for grisly knowledge of all kinds, Ms. Roach’s narrative brings to life what happens to those bodies predestined for organ donation or those which have been generously donated to science. With a respectful yet tastefully humorous look at what happens with donated cadavers, the author peels away the layers of ongoing questions and speculation about medical history from the early centuries to modern day science.


Book Blogger Autumn is Back!

February 3, 2016


Autumn Chrunik is RDC Library’s student book blogger. She’s an avid reader (a huge bookworm!), who hopes to become an author someday. Until then she wants to study literature and literary writing, as well as publishing. Other than reading, she enjoys writing and hanging out with her friends and family. You can find Autumn on Twitter @AutumnChrunik or check out her blog For Those Who Read at Night.  Interested in being a student book blogger? Email:

REVIEW: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson


Synopsis (from my paperback cover)-

Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are.

Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson, based on her award-winning web comic.

My Thoughts:

Plot- Even though this novel focuses on villains as main characters, you can easily tell that the plot isn’t really about these said villains trying to take over the world, but to prove that this popular company in their kingdom isn’t actually doing the good things that it says its doing. The villains do have a very evil personality to them at first, however, but as the story progresses you see that they are a very loving and forgiving people.

Characters- I loved the two main characters, Nimona and Blackheart. Nimona is just a young girl who has this amazing ability to shape shift of free will. She does not, however, have a family to look out for her. Blackheart proves to be that parent figure in her life that Nimona does not have. He truly loves and cares for Nimona, which really made this story for me.

Setting- It was set in a sort of medieval time, but with dragons and magic. It was very cool to look at.

 Art Style- I really liked the art style! It was a really fun way to help tell the story! The characters’ emotions were well drawn out on their faces, and there was quite a bit of details on each picture on each page. Very well done!

 Overall- Overall I give this graphic novel 5/5 stars! It was so cute and I loved how caring and forgiving all the characters were! Plus, the drawings are very well done and they really give you a sense of what the world looks like, and what is going on in the story. I would definitely recommend this for people of all ages! It’s a very quick and enjoyable read.

Want to read this book? Request it using The Alberta Library. 


The Dog Eared Review of ‘Station Eleven’ by Emily St. John Mandel

December 27, 2015

“Because Survival is Insufficient” – Seven of Nine (Star Trek Voyager)

Station Eleven is the award winning, fourth novel of Canadian author Emily St. John Mandel. While the many awards the book has won should be enough to entice me to read and review, my real reasoning was it is the inaugural book for the community wide book club, Red Deer Reads. I had started this review several months ago but thanks to a heavy semester was unable to finish it until now.

Set within a dystopian background, Station Eleven quickly reveals the propensity for keeping this reader captivated beyond her usual bed time. Having been drawn to post-apocalyptic narratives for as long as I can remember, I happily found the exploration of human intimacy and personal interactions within Ms. St. John Mandel’s novel to be opposite of the expected decay of character and environment as often happens within this type of tale. Station Eleven

Spanning several decades, the novel exhibits the author’s talent in connecting not only people with each other but surrounding events as well; a clarity of time kept clear rather than becoming muddled in the changing intervals. With clever word play, that would make the Bard himself proud, the author invites the reader to keep guessing until the end about the connectivity the characters all share. With the continual development of the characters, throughout the entirety of the novel, an attachment of sorts is created; with some character’s charm endearing them to the reader while the possibility of death for others elicits silent encouragement.


Best Books of the Year

December 18, 2015

Just in time to help you with all of your last minute Christmas shopping, the best books of the year lists are out.  Some of our favourites:

  • The Globe 100: The Best Books of 2015 from the editors and reviewers at the Globe and Mail – comes with a handy search feature that lets you filter by genre and collection, and links you to the original review.
  • The Best Books of 2015, from CBC Books – includes a handy PDF version of the list in case you want to print it off and then check them off as you read them.
  • The 10 Best Books of 2015, selected by the editors of the New York Times Book Review- with links to the original reviews.
  • The 10 Best (and 5 Worst!) Books of 2015, from Entertainment Weekly – because maybe you want to buy someone a really bad book?

For more fun with book lists, check out EarlyWord: The Publisher-Librarian Connection.  A list of lists (because who doesn’t like those?) is about halfway down on the right-hand side of the page.  Happy reading!

Meet Autumn, our RDC Student Book Blogger!

December 8, 2015

RDC Library is happy to welcome Autumn Chrunik to our team as a student book blogger. She is in her first year of college studying English at RDC. She’s an avid reader (a huge bookworm!), who hopes to become an author someday. Until then she wants to study literature and literary writing, as well as publishing. Other than reading, she enjoys writing and hanging out with her friends and family. You can find Autumn on Twitter @AutumnChrunik or check out her blog For Those Who Read at Night.  Interested in being a student book blogger? Email:


REVIEW: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Synopsis (from my hardback cover)-

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do today. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations- _______ and _______- are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, exes Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But the warship is the least of their problems. A deadly ______ has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results. The fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what the ____ is going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.


Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

Look at how pretty the book is! And it’s just as pretty on the inside as it is on the outside!


My Thoughts-

This was my most anticipated book of the year! The hype for it was so high and so great that I was very nervous to read it (excited, but nervous) because my expectations were so high. Often times, when I read a book that’s highly anticipated and people are so excited about it, I don’t like it that much, or I am left feeling disappointed. I expect amazing things when people rave about a certain book, which is why my expectations are always so high with said book. This book however, and though my expectations were very high, exceeded those expectations for me! Here’s why:


The plot is amazing. Actually, MIND BLOWING is a better way to describe it.


I loved all of the characters in this story. I will admit that it took a little bit for me to feel connected to them, since this story was strictly written via emails, military files, IMs, and interviews. You don’t get to read the characters’ thoughts and feelings as you would in a story like The Hunger Games. A lot of it was inferred and left to your imagination.

We follow two (well, actually three) main characters: Kady, Ezra, and later in the book we meet AIDAN. I really enjoyed these characters and their connection to each other. I even liked AIDAN’s character, who you will learn may or may not have Kady and Ezra’s best interests at hand.

There were several minor characters throughout the book, that helped tell the story and connect all the events together. Getting to know these characters and understanding them in the way they were written took a little while to get used to, but once you started to get into the story, it was easy to follow.


It’s set in space. I love space.

 Writing Style-

The writing style was so cool! As well as the emails, military files, IMs, and interviews, there were also pictures in the book so you could see what some of the aspects of their world looked like (for example, there were pictures and diagrams of what the spaceships looked like, that they were living on). I also loved how busy the story was. There was so much going on, but it connected very well together. I had no trouble keeping up with what was going on. It was a very fun way to read a book.


Overall I give Illuminae 5/5 stars! It deserves all the praise that it gets! It was so well written- MIND BLOWING, like I stated already. I seriously can’t wait until the second one gets released next year! If you enjoy science fiction, or even if you are not sure whether you do or not, I’d highly recommend this book!

Want to read this book? Request it using The Alberta Library. 




The Dog Eared Review of ‘Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness’ by Susannah Catalan

August 2, 2015

“My tongue twisted when I spoke; I drooled and, when I was tired, let my tongue hang out of the side of my mouth like an overheated dog”.

A self-described Beautiful Mess, Ms. Cahalan employs a straightforward and in your face candor throughout the account of her battle with NMDA-receptor autoimmune encephalitis.  While some chapters are uplifting, others are unnerving with first hand descriptions of partial seizures and her inability to perform tasks such as being able to put simple words

Exposing herself through many intimate and painful moments, the author never tries to paint herself in a positive light. Instead, she pens this memoir as a reflection of what I can only imagine to be a terrifying glimpse into the hell of what each of us have the potential to be thrust into. While some readers may think labeling the events of a singular month as a memoir is a little misleading, I feel it’s justified based on the fact the amount of suffering endured was more than enough to last a lifetime.


The Dog Eared Review of ‘The Spark’ by Kristine Barnett

January 21, 2014

“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” – Groucho Marx

For as long as I can remember, the bargain book tables at the local bookstore seemingly sense my presence and call out to me, displaying their wares with cocky effulgence,  regardless of my feigned indifference.

It was no different the week following Christmas. Coffee in hand, weaving between sticky children, tired mothers and impatient workers, I was finding it difficult to locate a tome expressly requiring my attention. Having all but given up, it was not until I was about to exit and brave the Canadian cold, that a book caught my eye. Sitting quietly amongst it’s table-mates, The Spark drew my attention with it’s brightness and descriptive subtitle; ‘A Mother’s Story of Nurturing Genius’. Turning to the flyleaf bearing the book’s brief summarization, it took less than 25 words before I knew this was the one: ‘Kristine Barnett’s son Jacob has an IQ higher than Einstein’s, a photographic memory, and he taught himself calculus in two weeks.’ 

From beginning to end, the words within the memoir pulled me in and didn’t let go. The primitiveness of a childhood rife with the obstacles of autism reflected well within the simplistic yet accurate writing as seen through a mother’s eyes.

Diagnosed at a very young age, Jacob demonstrated many of the eccentricities seen within children of the autistic community. With his genius allowing him to excel, placing him outside the normal spectrum of the disorder, the argument could be made that today Jacob no longer reflects what is considered typical of autism therefore making the title somewhat misleading. Yet I find this is a story written not to focus on labeling constraints but rather on the powerful changes brought about due to a mother’s tireless love and refusal to accept limitations put on her son.