Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Just Finished: "Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo"

Ladies and gentlemen, let me present one of my new favourite books...Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo by Heather Wardell. I'll start this rambling and lengthy post with the synopsis from Goodreads:

When Candice's in-laws died in a car accident eight months ago, she lost her husband Ian too. After only two years of marriage their guilt and pain have left them living together but apart. During Ian's month-long trip overseas, Candice plans to decide if her marriage can be saved, but when the first man she ever loved is the new client at work, she wonders what she truly wants from life and love.
When Heather first asked me to review her books a little while ago I poked around her website and found an excerpt from this book. I was hooked. I couldn't stop thinking about the story and the characters and wondering how they got through everything. I had quite a few other books to read but when I finally got around to reading Polar Bear I found that the rest of the novel was just as engaging as the first chapter.

There were so many things that I loved about this novel, so I hope I can remember to touch on all of them. First of all, the characters were fantastic. Each one was well developed and three dimensional. I really felt like I knew them and I wanted to be friends with all of them! And this was a very important thing. I think if I hadn't like the characters, the story would have been harder to take. Sometimes when cheating is at the centre of the plot it can be really hard to read and feel any sympathy or empathy for any of the characters. I felt like I could really understand the reason behind the decisions Candice, Kegan, and Ian were making.

My fave Giffin book!
Since I'm sure some of you don't know who Heather Wardell is (and you need to go educate yourselves right now...ok, finish reading this post, and then go check out all her books), I'm going to compare this novel to one by a well known chick lit author - Love the One You're With by Emily Giffin. A quick snippet from the Goodreads synopsis: This is the story for anyone who has ever wondered: How can I truly love the one I'm with when I can't forget the one who got away? I felt the same way about LTOYW as I did about Polar Bear...I could see why the characters were making their choices. I actually could see their reasoning so well that I knew exactly why they were having a hard time making the so called "right" choice. I'm not always ok with the whole infidelity storyline, just in case you think I am. In fact, I had a very hard time reading Heart of the Matter by Giffin. I was just not ok with Tessa's husband cheating on her (I was, however, amused that Tessa is Dex's sister. Yes, Dex from Something Borrowed). Anyway, slightly off topic now. Long story short - LTOYW and Polar Bear were similar but both were unique to the author and were equally delightful.

If you've been reading my previous posts you may have realized that I love reading Canadian authors and seeing whether they play up or ignore the fact that they are from Canada. Sometimes you have no idea if the characters are in Canada (see my post on Spin) and sometimes a Canadian city is named as the location, but that's it (see Love Struck). And sometimes, like with Polar Bear, you know the characters are in Canada and the reader actually gets to explore the city through the characters. At one point in this novel, Candice and Kegan head to Canada's Wonderland, the theme park in Toronto (technically it's outside Toronto...but when I'm driving south - I live north of T.O. - Wonderland signals the entrance into the dreaded GTA. I'm such a small town girl!). You're wondering where I'm going with this, aren't you? Well, the reason this part of the novel made an impression on me was because I knew what rides Candice and Kegan were on and Wardell didn't name the rides, only described them. I've been to Wonderland a few times and just thought it was so cool that I had been on the same rides the characters were on. Except Drop Tower. That ride just plain terrifies me. Anyway, this excursion by the characters actually prompted me to text my friend and tell her I wanted to go to Wonderland. Needless to say, she was a little confused as to why I was all of a sudden wanting to go :) Read this novel and wonder what the rides look like? Here ya go:
(PS Heather, did I get them all right? There were options for the wood and stand up ones!)

Drop Tower; SkyRider; Wild Beast; Swings of the Century
 Since I follow Heather on Twitter (and you should too! @HeatherWardell) and we are part of the same Chick Lit Challenge hosted by Samantha at Chick Lit Plus, I know that she is an avid reader. Turns out Candice is too, which the following two quotes show:
I was halfway to the door when a new Marian Keyes novel caught my eye. I picked it up to take a look and decided it needed to come hom with me.
Admit it. Many of you have felt exactly the same way at the bookstore.
Larissa stopped dead and gave me a good impression of a woman having a heart attack. "You...not going to Chapters? The world has gone mad!"
Love it. I think I want Candice to be my friend :)

Overall, I loved loved loved this book. Five stars, for sure. I've already told a few friends to read it and plan on making others to read it as well. The characters are amazing, the story flows, and you will not want to put it down.

What's that you say? Now that you've heard me talk about how amazing Heather's book was you want to know where to find all her books? Not to worry, I have you covered. (and, alright, I may be over exaggerating my influence :) Just a bit?) You can find them on Smashwords, Kobo, and Amazon. There may be more but this should be enough to get you started, right? :) I definitely urge you to check out Heather's books. I am looking foward to reading more of hers!


  1. Thank you for recommending this book to me last week. I just gobbled it up and loved it too. I couldn't help making the same connection to Giffin's novel throughout, like you did. It's interesting because I found LTOYW SO hard to read and to get through and it was so powerful. Yet with this novel, I was more accepting of the plot. I guess it was just... 'fluffier' haha. Maybe better character development and background here? Anyhow, gotta love FREE BOOKS!

  2. You got the rides right! The wooden one might have been the Minebuster but I was thinking the Wild Beast when I wrote it, and the rest are right on too. :)

    Thank you so much for this great and detailed review. You've made my day! :)

  3. And you should try Drop Tower. :)


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