Sunday, December 30, 2007

Total Constant Order by Crissa-Jean Chappell

In Total Constant Order, Fin is a teenage girl who is obsessed with numbers and counting. It’s her way of trying to keep things under control. Soon after moving to Florida she finds out she’s got OCD and her doctor prescribes Paxil to help her. The story follows Fin through her daily life while she deals with her disorder, school, bullies, doctor visits, and Thayer (another teen who’s possibly as messed up as she is).

I really enjoyed this book. Sometimes the chapters seemed unconnected and a little erratic, but this fit nicely with the story and the storyline came through loud and clear. I loved some of the questions the therapist asked Fin. Sometimes, I stopped reading the book to ponder how I’d answer the question. It turned out to be somewhat enlightening. Each of the characters was interesting and believable. I didn’t quite understand the mother’s actions at times, but now that I finished the book I know why.

I sort of had an idea what OCD was about, but now I understand it a little better. It was interesting to follow the thoughts of a person who suffers from the disorder. Rather than outline the symptoms of OCD (which could be quite dry), the author concentrates on Fin’s experiences and feelings. I think it was very well done.

I was quite proud of myself when I figured out the numbers on the section headings. It wasn’t too difficult so it’s not much to be proud of, but at least I didn’t have to ask my husband (the math genius in our family) for help. sigh.

Overall, this book is a really good read. I’d recommend it to teenagers as well as adults.

Big Boned by Meg Cabot

In Big Boned, Heather Wells, former pop star and sometime amateur detective, is working as an administrative assistant at New York College. She comes to work one morning and finds her boss shot dead in his office. When a colleague’s love interest is arrested for the murder, Heather springs into action to clear his name and find the real culprit. She works on the case all the while dealing with (or is that “avoiding”) her math professor boyfriend, Tad, the strike on campus, Cooper, and her father. She’s one busy gal. I’m surprised she can hold it together.

I loved this book. It’s laugh out loud funny and a delightful read. It was exactly what I needed at this time of year…a nice escape and a good laugh. Cabot’s writing is witty and her characters are fun to read about. I just about fell over with laughter when Heather took up running. [I hope she finds her uterus. I just about lost mine laughing so hard.]

While I haven’t read the first two books in the Heather Wells “series”, I have read Boy Meets Girl by Cabot. I loved it. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for more of Cabot’s work, especially the first two instalments featuring Heather.

I can’t wait to find out what happens next. Do things work out with “name withheld to prevent a spoiler”? I guess we’ll all find out in the next book.


Friday, December 28, 2007

Deafening by Frances Itani

In Deafening, Grania, a deaf woman growing up in Canada in the early 20th century, meets and falls in love with a hearing man, Jim. While Jim is soon off to fight in WWI, Grania stays at home and tries to cope without her beloved. Life is not easy for either, but through letters they try to keep their love alive.

I loved this book. Itani has written a wonderful and beautiful story about love and the obstacles lovers face. In this case, the obstacle is “distance”, not only the physical distance between the lovers while Jim is a stretcher-bearer in the war and Grania copes with life on the home front, but also the “distance” between the hearing and non-hearing world.

While I didn’t think I’d enjoy reading about the war, Itani’s story telling is so spectacular I found it very interesting and I truly enjoyed it. The graphic details about the war were a little gruesome, but necessary for the story. She gives the reader a real sense of what life was like in this time period not only with the war, but also life on the home front with returning soldiers and influenza.

One of my favourite parts was when Grania was young and was being taught by Mamo using the Sunday book and the explanations of how Mamo taught Grania to communicate. Mamo was one of my favourite characters. She was so loving and caring for Grania. I also loved when Jim was explaining how he thought the hands told the story of the last moments of people’s lives (not the face). He had a hard time looking at the dead men’s hands.

The P.S. section at the end of the book was enlightening, as usual. While I usually save it to read at the end, I find myself occasionally peeking back there to see what’s included. I especially loved that Itani included some additional reading recommendations. Wonderful.

It’s no wonder this book won so many awards. It’s fantastic.

Highly recommended. I’ll be looking for more of Itani’s work.

Precious Blood by Jonathan Hayes

In Precious Blood, Edward Jenner, a former Medical Examiner, is asked to look into the killing of a young student. She is found hanging on a wall in her apartment. As soon as Jenner sees the body, he strongly suspects a serial killer is on the loose. Before he and the police can solve this one though, more gruesome discoveries are uncovered. They soon have a theory as to his motive and method for selecting his victims, but they must acts fast before he strikes out again. Jenner is particularly moved to action after he becomes involved with a potential victim.

Jonathan Hayes presents an interesting, fast-pace page-turner that’s definitely not for the faint of heart. The graphic details he provides about the deaths of these women might be a tad much for some readers. He takes a few funny digs at CSI the TV show. Fans will appreciate these, but the reference will likely be lost on non-viewers. There are just a few, so they won’t be missing much. The storyline is easy to follow, but parts of it were a little predictable. The characters are likeable and interesting.

I noticed a few disconnects/inconsistencies in the story. It could have been that I wasn’t paying close enough attention, but I thought I noticed a few things that didn’t quite add up. If it wasn't just me, hopefully the editors will catch these before the book is officially released.

Overall, it’s a pretty good read.

The Book of Negroes: A Novel by Lawrence Hill

The Book of Negroes is a sensational, but very sad story about Aminata Diallo. As a young girl she is abducted near her town of Bayo in central Africa. She’s forced to walk in a coffle, survives a horrendous trip across the ocean and enslaved to work on an indigo farm in South Carolina. She eventually escapes and her life marginally improves. Later, she is utilized and praised by the slavers and abolitionists for her ability to read and speak several languages. That’s the basics of the story, but there so much more than that.

This is undoubtedly the best book I read this year. It’s also quite possibly the best book I ever read. It’s beautifully written with an absolutely stunning storyline. The author provides plenty of horrendous and heartbreaking details of the lives of not only Aminata, but several of the other fantastic characters as well. I loved watching Aminata transform from a frightened child into a very strong and courageous woman.

There were a few times that I had to read quickly, not because I needed to know that Aminata survives the ordeal, but because I couldn’t bare such horror any longer and I wanted to get to the next scene as quickly as possible. One thing I liked about the Hill’s story is he provides time for the reader to recover (if that’s possible) from some of the appalling events in the book. I don’t know if I could have read the whole thing had it gone from tragedy to tragedy. It would have been too emotionally draining. As it was, I got exhausted reading this book. It stuck with me so much I had a lot of trouble starting the next one. I also loved that the author used straightforward, everyday words to tell his story and I didn’t have to run for the dictionary to look up unfamiliar words.

The story is peppered with two languages that I’m unfamiliar with, Bamanankan and Fulfulde. I love being exposed to different languages and was thrilled to see a little of each used along Aminata’s journey.

Both the title and the cover of this book have been changed for publication in the USA. While Someone Knows My Name (US version) is still appropriate, I prefer the title The Book of Negroes (Canadian version). I also prefer the Canadian cover art with Aminata’s haunting eyes.

I’ve mentioned before that history isn’t my “thing”, but I found the historical aspects of this story fascinating. It was all new to me; I’d never heard of the Book of Negroes. It was a fascinating time period in our history. The author has kindly included a link for more information about the The Book of Negroes. There is lots of information about the Black Loyalists and a reproduction of the actual Book of Negroes.

Aminata and several other characters, as well as this story line, will be with me for several moons to come.

Highly recommended.

Heather's review.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Helpless by Barbara Gowdy

In Helpless, Celia is a single mother who works two jobs to make ends meet. Her young daughter, Rachel sometimes accompanies her to her dead-end-low-paying jobs. Rachel’s bi-racial features give her an exotic beauty that draws the attention of others. One such individual is a middle-aged vacuum repairman named Ron. Ron quickly becomes obsessed with Rachel. He assumes she is being abused because of some things he’s observed while watching her at her home. When a blackout occurs in the city, Ron makes his move and kidnaps Rachel. With the help of his girlfriend, Nancy, Ron keeps the girl hidden while the family, police and neighbours search frantically.

Gowdy presents a beautifully written story about obsession and love and how it can blind us. Ron was so obsessed with Rachel he couldn’t see his own obsession for what it was or see Celia’s love for Rachel. I truly enjoyed reading this book. While the subject matter was hard to read at times, the characters were authentic and the story made it a fascinating read.

I loved the title of the book, but not because that’s what the characters must have been feeling. It was because that’s what I was feeling while reading it. I thought I knew what was going to happen and I felt “helpless” to stop it. Every time I picked up the book, I dreaded reading further, but I couldn’t help myself. I had to know what happened to Rachel.

It’s not hard to see why the book was long listed for the Giller prize. It’s faboulous.

Highly recommended.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Missing Witness by Gordon Campbell

In Missing Witness, Travis Eddington is murdered. His wife, Rita and his daughter, Miranda, were the only other people in house at the time. Juan Menchaka saw the two leave the house; Rita was carrying the gun. Shortly thereafter, Miranda, who’s a troubled little girl, goes into a catatonic state and is hospitalized. Travis’ father, Ferris Eddington, a wealthy rancher, wants Dan Morgan to defend Rita because Morgan is the best lawyer around. Rita swears she didn’t do it and it’s up to Morgan and the newest addition to the law firm, Douglas McKenzie, to defend her.

Campbell’s legal thriller is fantastic. I loved it! It’s faced paced and simply hard to put down. The story is finely crafted and filled with great characters and plenty of twists and turns. I was mesmerized until the very end. The story is told in the first person through the eyes of Doug McKenzie who’s known the Eddington family since childhood. Campbell sticks to the story and doesn’t include any unnecessary tangents or flashbacks. It’s pretty straightforward, however, the story gets a little complicated at times because of the rules of law. The author does a great job in leading the reader through those parts. Even the acknowledgements at the end of the book are interesting. Loved it all!

I love books written in the first person and this book is no exception. I’m sure writing all the events from one person’s perspective and having that one character in every scene presents a challenge for the writer, but for me it’s a joy to read. It’s interesting to see how the author manages to get all of the information across through that one person. I love it.

There just so much I love about this book. If I write anymore, I’m going to reveal too much of the plot.

I’d definitely recommend this book. I hope to read many more books by this author.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam

A Golden Age is a beautiful and touching story about the Bangladesh War of Independence told through the eyes of one family, Rehana and her children Sohail and Maya. While Sohail and Maya join the movement against Pakistan, Rehana is a little reluctant to let her children go. Eventually, she relents and does what she can to help her country.

Anam presents an interesting perspective on this time period in Bangladesh’s history. Her characters are believable and the story line was compelling. It turned out to be quite the page-turner. With the information that Anam provides regarding the War of Independence, I think I really got a sense of what life was like in Bangladesh in the 70s. To be quite honest, I wasn’t quite sure where Bangladesh was. Now, I know.

Rehana was my favourite character. I worried with her when she had very difficult decisions to make. I felt her anguish. I also loved the descriptions of the food that she was making. It all sounded wonderfully appetizing. I’m a big fan of Middle Eastern/East Indian cuisine and each dish made my mouth water. I’m going to have to find recipes for some of Rehana’s dishes and attempt to make them myself.

Because I like being exposed to other languages, I was delighted to see that the text was peppered with both Urdu and Bengali.

This debut novel is wonderful. I’m looking forward to more of Tahmima Anam’s work.

Highly recommended.

A Killer's Kiss by William Lashner

It’s not often that I stop on page 3 of a book and proclaim out loud, I LOVE THIS BOOK. That’s precisely what I did with this book.

In A Killer’s Kiss, Victor Carl is a lawyer with a soft spot for his ex-fiancée, Julia. Her husband, Wren, has just been murdered. Even though Julia is the prime suspect, the police have Victor in their sights because Julia and Victor have been spending time together and the murder weapon is found in his apartment. When Victor finds out that $1.7 million dollars is missing from Wren’s business accounts and the other business partners (thugs, really) approach him to recover it, he goes into overdrive to clear his name and get to the bottom of things. The suspects and motives pile up as Victor works the case.

Lashner has written a great mystery/thriller. The opening chapter is brilliant. I was hooked and wanted to read the rest of the book as fast as I could. There are lots of interesting characters, plenty of red herrings and some devious twists and turns in the storyline that kept me guessing who-dun-it and why until the very end.

Victor Carl is a great character. He is sarcastic and witty. It’s sort of unfortunate that he saves his best stuff for Sims and Hanratty. I would have liked to see a little more of that attitude. Although, too much of a good things isn’t great either. It is no wonder Lasher has written seven books featuring this attorney. Julia, the femme fatale, plays the part perfectly. Derek turns out to be quite a funny guy and steals every “scene” he’s in.

I love books written in the first person and this book is no exception. I’m sure writing all the events from one person’s perspective and having that one character in every scene presents a challenge for the writer, but for me it’s a joy to read. It’s interesting to see how the author manages to get all of the information across through that one person. I love it.

This is the seven Victor Carl book in the series. I’d love to read the others and I hope to find them on my travels.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Birth House by Ami McKay

In The Birth House, Dora Rare is the first daughter born into the Rare family in five generations. In her teen years, she spends a lot of time with Miss Marie Babineau, a midwife and holistic healer in the remote village. As time goes by, Dora becomes the apprentice of Miss B and carries on her legacy of catching babies.

McKay presents a beautiful story about birth, sex and traditional medicine around at the time of WWI in a fishing village in Nova Scotia. These women live in a time when modern medicine is offering them a “choice” different from traditional methods. Even though the women are given a choice, sometimes that choice is made for them. In the end it comes down to the women’s right to choose.

I have a fondness for books set on the east coast of Canada and this one is no exception. I loved it. At times it was a little like going through a scrapbook with the little ad inserts, journal entries and letters interspersed with the main text of the story. My favorite character was Dora, but all of the characters were outstanding and believable.

The storyline was extremely interesting and reminded me that going to doctors and having babies in hospitals wasn’t always the norm that we see now. I especially loved the section at the back titled “Notes for the Willow Book” which contains fascinating information about how herbs and such are used as remedies in traditional medicine.

My favorite quote (page 153):
…And don’t forget to collect the seeds before autumn. You’d think the fruit was the prize, or the leaves or even the roots…but it’s the seeds that keeps the secrets. Like any other mother, the plant done spent all her life learnin’ the earth. It’s her seeds that does the rememberin’ for her. It’s all right there in the seed.

I’d definitely recommend this book. I'm looking forward to more works by this author.

[Somehow this review doesn’t do it justice. I just can’t find the words to express how I feel about this book. It’s an absolute joy to read. I wouldn't change a thing.]

Into the Wild - The Movie

I saw the movie “Into the Wild” on the weekend. While I didn’t love it as much as I loved the book, it was pretty good. The story was basically the same, but I think the movie presented a more uplifting message than the book. To me, in the book the story was presented in a matter of fact way (more like a newspaper account); it felt more like a tragedy (maybe that was just how I “read” it.) But after seeing the movie, I can definitely appreciate the inspirational message. The other difference I noticed was the way the story unfolded. The book was more chronological, which I found easier to follow.

The movie itself was beautiful. The scenery was spectacular in every shot. It was pure joy to watch.

I really liked seeing Hal Holbrook (Ron Franz) again. I can’t remember when I saw him last. I saw his name in the credits; otherwise I may not have recognized him. My eyes welled with tears when Ron was saying goodbye to Chris. Great performance. [By the way, in the book the author lets you know what happens to Ron. ;) ]

My husband and I had an interesting discussion afterwards. Mostly we talked about how the book was different (I read it, he didn’t), but we also talked about Chris’ adventures and why he did what he did.

I’m glad I got to see it especially after reading the book.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Rest of Her Life by Laura Moriarty

In The Rest of Her Life, Kara is driving in the family SUV when she strikes Bethany and kills her. As we soon see, that one moment of distraction will not only affect her life but also the lives of her family, her friends, and many others for a long time to come. The story is as much about the accident and its aftermath as it is about the relationship between family members. Some of the relationships are strengthened; some seem almost unaffected, while others appear to be irreparable.

I really enjoyed this book. I must be self-centred because I could really relate to Leigh. It was almost scary. While I didn’t want to act like she did, I probably would. It wasn’t that I had sympathy for her; I just didn’t see her actions/words as that absurd. It felt a little weird because I couldn’t possibly know how she really felt. [I don’t have children and I don’t know anyone who was killed in a car accident or even involved in a serious car accident.] The story frightened me a little because it could happen to anyone. A momentary distraction while driving, walking down the street or performing any other daily task could have disastrous consequences.

I loved that the book was from the mother’s perspective. While reading the book, I often thought about how the book would be different if it was written from a different point of view. Kara’s? Diana Kletchka’s (the victim’s mother)? Bethany?

I think this would make an excellent book group choice. The author provides lots of fodder for some sure-to-be-interesting discussions. I’d definitely read another book by this author.


I picked this book on HarperCollins First Look program, but was rejected. Thankfully, I got a copy through Bookcrossing.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name by Vendela Vida

In Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name, Vendela Vida presents a beautiful and touching story of a woman’s search for the truth about her family and her own identity. The story begins with Clarissa’s father’s death. As she’s going through his things, she discovers that his name is not on her birth certificate; he’s not her biological father. She’s very angry and in a state of shock when she embarks on a quest to Lapland in search of her roots.

While this wasn’t my favourite book, I did enjoy reading it. It was easy to read, interesting and straight to the point. The author doesn’t bother with any tangents not related to the story. Every event in the book directly relates to the plot. This makes it easy to follow and quick to read.

I wasn’t particularly fond of the main characters. I found them too angry and distant to like. I did, however, like Anna Kristine, the healer whom Clarissa encounters on her journey. The story line was unique and kept me interested until the end. I really wanted to know how it all turned out for Clarissa.

The author intersperses lots of interesting information about the Sami (otherwise known as Laplanders, indigenous people of northern Europe) and their lifestyle within the plot of the book. I remember learning about Laplanders in school at one point, but I don’t remember them being called Sami. The information was fascinating and I will probably read more about them.

I really appreciated the map at the beginning. I had a vague idea were Lapland was, but not the specifics. It was nice to be able to refer to it on Clarissa’s journey.

Overall, it’s a really good book. I’d recommend it.

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

In Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer takes a look at the adventures of Chris McCandless (aka Alex Supertramp), who ran away from his family and tried to live off the land only to meet a tragic end in Alaska.

I loved this book and was totally captivated by Chris’ story. Once I started it I couldn’t put it down. The author starts out with the grizzly discovery of McCandless’s body in Alaska and then backtracks to tell the rest of the story. Using the sparsely written journals, photos McCandless took and interviews with the people McCandless befriended or ran into on the road, Krakauer pieces together the last two years of McCandless’ life. I love how the author hangs onto the story and doesn’t let it go. Even after he has finished his assignment (an article for a magazine), he continues to investigate.

The author also gives us a glimpse into the lives of other adventurers who have tried similar things. However, as we soon discover, no one is quite like McCandless. My least favourite part of the book was when the author was describing his own trek up the Alaskan mountains. I couldn’t see what this had to do with the story. However, when I finished that section, I realized that it had a lot to do with the story. The author was an adventurer too and offered great insight into McCandless’ actions.

For reasons I won’t go into here, the whole story has left me a little frightened, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

While we may never know what exactly happened to Chris, the author does a magnificent job of investigating the story and coming up with some explanations.


Now, I have to go see the movie.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford by Ron Hansen

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is a fantastic and fascinating look at the life and times of Jesse James, his gang and those who sought to stop him. Rather than tell Jesse’s whole story this book focuses on the last few years of his life. It is extremely rich with details to really give the reader the sense of actually being there.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. Most of the information presented by the author was new to me. Of course, I’ve heard of Jesse James, but I was unfamiliar with his story or his death. It’s no wonder he and his brother are legends. The author presented the facts and characters in a straightforward and unbiased matter reminding me at times of newspaper accounts.

I really enjoyed the writing throughout the whole book, but I especially liked the opening section describing Jesse James. I also loved that the author chose to leave Bob’s fate for the last sentence in the last paragraph on the last page of the book. My one complaint is that it is SO detailed that at times it felt longer than 300 pages. I did get the gang members mixed up a few times, by the second part of the book, I had most of the major characters straightened out.

While reading the book, I had so much contempt for Ford (especially after reading all of the details of the assassination) that I considered writing this review without using his name. I was tempted to just call him “the coward” and leave it like that. I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of being remembered. His was afraid that he wouldn’t be remembered. At one point in the book (page 205 in this edition) Jesse asks Bob, “Do you know what it is you’re most afraid of?” Bob responds: “I’m afraid of being forgotten…I’m afraid I’ll end up living a life like everyone else’s and me being Bob Ford won’t matter one way or the other.” However, by the end of the book, I almost felt sorry for him. He was quite young and pretty stupid when he sealed his fate by killing James. He was pardoned for the crime, but didn’t gain the hero moniker he sought. For the rest of his life he was labelled a coward. Wherever he went he was known as the man who killed Jesse James; his crime was not forgotten.

While I don’t generally like photos of characters on book covers (I like to use my imagination), this one is pretty good. I like the B&W slightly-out-of-focus figures surrounded by the black background. It sets the period and the mood.

I also really enjoyed reading the P.S section at the back of the book, especially the sections “A Conversation with Ron Hansen” and “Jesse James: Facts Falsehoods, Fiction and Film”. Both were enlightening.

I’d definitely recommend this book for those interested in this period in America’s history. Also, those interested in outlaws or the James brothers or heroes/anti-heroes would also enjoy it.

Now, I can’t wait to see the movie. I’ve heard it’s deliberately long and slow, but very good.

For more information about Jesse James click here. For more information about Robert Ford click here.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Reluctant Genius: The Passionate Life and Inventive Mind of Alexander Graham Bell by Charlotte Gray

I read this sometime ago, but since Charlotte Gray recently won the Ottawa Book Award for this book, I figured I'd post my review here for others to read.

In Reluctant Genius: The Passionate Life and Inventive Mind of Alexander Graham Bell, Charlotte Gray presents an extremely fascinating and comprehensive look at the amazing life of Alexander Graham Bell. In Gray’s very capable hands, Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, becomes Alec, teacher and champion of the deaf, husband, father, friend, sheep breeder, inventor and so much more. She showed us his strengths and his weaknesses as well as his passions and his indifferences. We also get to know his wife, Mabel, first his student, then his life long companion.

Loved it, loved it, loved it. It was a delight to read and I enjoyed every minute of it. Gray’s writing is clear, concise and accessible. It’s a joy to read.

There’s so much about Alec that I don’t know. Most people know he invented the telephone. But what else did he do? In one word: everything. He’s interests were eclectic and his research spanned many disciplines. His imagination, like his spirit, knew no bounds.

A must read for biography lovers and, well, everyone who’s ever used a telephone.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Healthy Living from the Inside Out by Mariel Hemingway

Mariel Hemingway’s Healthy Living from the Inside Out is a pretty good self-help guide that’s out of the ordinary, interesting, refreshing and very informative. She goes beyond the food and exercise that most books of this kind focus on and includes “silence” (clearing the mind and taking time for quiet reflection) and “home” (clearing clutter and chaos in living spaces). It’s these two sections that make this book unique.

It’s not a one-size-fits-all program, either. It’s down-to-earth and very accessible for everyone. Rather than giving the reader a set of rigid steps to follow, she allows for plenty of latitude and provides lots of choices. While the 30-day program offered at the end does have steps to follow, it’s flexible and customizable. The advice is based on her personal experience; she leaves it up to the reader to picks the things that are right for her/him. She advises, “Follow your instinct” and “Do what’s right for you”. As far as I’m concerned, that’s really good advice.

The food section includes lots of yummy looking recipes I can’t wait to try. She uses a few ingredients that I’m unfamiliar with, though. I’ll have to investigate them further before I take the plunge and purchase them to make the recipes.

In the exercise section, she introduces “exercise with intent”. I found that section extremely fascinating. Usually, I zone out during my workouts on the treadmill. I thought that this was a good thing. However, after Hemingway’s explanation regarding this, I’m going to make a point of paying more attention.

In the silence and home sections, Hemingway presents some interesting and valid points. I think I’ll be paying the most attention to these areas [since I’ve already made changes in my food intake and exercise plan earlier this year].

I love the sections were she talks about her family, their vices and their legacy. I’m tempted to pick up her autobiography to read more about her and her famous family.

Overall, I’d recommend this book to those looking to make some simple changes in their lives to be happier and healthier.

[This ARC is a little hard to read and follow because the final formatting hasn’t been done. Also, it would also be nice if there were some photos of the yoga poses, however, I don’t know if they are planned for the final cut. ]

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Hotel de Dream by Edmund White

Hotel de Dream, is an unusual novel within a even more unusual novel. The main story focuses on the last days of Stephen Crane, the real life author of “The Red Badge of Courage”. He feels the intense desire to write one more story before he dies. His wife takes dictation as he relates the story of Elliot, a newsboy/prostitute and Theodore, a married-middle-aged banker.

White offers a blend of fact and fiction in his latest work. While some of the characters are real (Crane, his wife, Henry James, Joseph Conrad and others), others are works of fiction as is the storyline. It’s a little confusing in the beginning because the story goes from the present where Crane is dying to the past where Crane meets Elliot, the character about whom he later writes his book. Once Crane starts his dictation to Cora, I found it much easier to follow.

I really started to enjoy the book once Elliot’s story began. I really wanted to find out what happened to him. While neither story is a pleasant one to read, both were very well written. White’s ability to write the two stories using different voices demonstrates his talent. I like the parallels between White/Crane and Crane/Elliot in that White writes a novel about a real person adding fictional parts along the way while Crane writes about Elliot a “real” person he met adding fictional parts to his story. I thought this was very well done.

The author undoubtedly did a lot of research to be able to write a piece like this. I appreciate that. If you read the book, be sure to read the acknowledgements at the end.

For more information about Mr. Crane:

This is an unusual book and will not please every reader. Those interested in gay/lesbian literature might like this book, as will those who are interested in Stephen Crane. Honestly, I don’t know if I’ll read anything more by this author. He has a lot of works out there and I’m bound to come across another one at some point. I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it, I suppose.

Overall, I enjoyed reading it.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer

In The Septembers of Shiraz, Isaac Amin and his family, wife Farnaz, and daughter Shirin are in Iran after the revolution while Parviz is in America attending college. Their lives were good and prosperous until Isaac is arrested for being a wealthy Jew. While he suffers in prison, his family must come to terms with the possibly that Isaac may not be returning home. He also wonders if returning home is possible.

Sofer has created a beautiful, poignant and tragic portrait of a family in turmoil. The characters’ perspectives are presented in alternating chapters giving us insight into their daily lives and struggles. The subject matter is, at times, hard to read, especially the parts about Isaac and his prison mates. One of the sadder parts of the book for me was near the end when Farnaz compares her grief to Isaac’s. It bothered me that her grief will likely not be recognized.

I liked all of the main characters, but I was particularly fond of Shirin. She was so brave at such a young age to do what she did. I don’t think I would have been that brave. I didn’t know what to really make of Parviz. He seemed a bit detached from his family, but I guess with a pretty young woman around, his mind was elsewhere. I was amazed by one of Isaac’s prison mates (Ramin). He still had hope after suffering so much grief.

Great first book. Recommended. I really enjoyed reading it and hope to read much more from this author.

The Merchant of Menace by Jill Churchill

In The Merchant of Menace, Jane Jeffry has volunteered to host two holiday parties on consecutive days. What was she thinking? Her new neighbours are disrupting the neighbourhood and she is overloaded with work and company. How will she pull this off? She gets even more overloaded with work when an “unsavoury guest” is found murdered next door. Jane and her neighbour Shelley jump into action to find out what happened.

Churchill has created fairly likeable storyline and lots of remarkable suspects for Jane to question. I particularly liked Ginger, Pet and Addie. I really don’t like Mel, which is too bad because he’s a recurring character in this series. Hopefully, he’ll grow on me. As for the storyline, I thought I’d figured it the mystery, but I was wrong. I think that made me enjoy it more.

I’ve read a few other books by this author and wasn’t quite happy with them. However, I liked this one a whole lot more. That’s really good, because I have quite a few more books by her on my bookshelf (from various used book sales). I’m now looking forward to reading them.

Recommended for cozy mystery lovers.

Friday, September 21, 2007

All Aunt Hagar's Children: Stories by Edward P. Jones

Every time I read a book of short stories I say to myself, “I enjoy short stories so much why don’t I read them more often?” That’s exactly what happened with this book.

All Aunt Hagar’s Children: Stories, is a exquisite collection of short stories by Edward P. Jones. I had a little trouble getting into this book at first, but after a story or two I found the rhythm of his writing. It’s not hard to see why this author has won all kinds of awards. His stories and characters are nothing short of brilliant. The setting for this collection is Washington D.C. However, the characters are ordinary citizens rather than the politicians we hear too much about.

I don’t know if I have a favourite story or character, but some of them are very memorable. I liked all of the selections here, but for different reasons. In “The Rich Man” is particularly liked Horace. He was very foolish, but I felt sorry for him in a way. In “A Poor Guatemalan Dreams of a Downtown in Peru”, I liked the character Arlene as well as the title of the story. The “Root Worker” had both a wonderful storyline and interesting characters. And finally, I loved the style in which the stories were told in “Common Law” and “Tapestry” and “Bad Neighbours”.

I haven’t read anything else by Jones, but I’ll be on the lookout for more of his work. I’ll more than likely read the first few stories again because, as I mentioned earlier, I had trouble getting into the book at first. I might even reread a few of the others that I really enjoyed. This signed copy will be treasured for many years to come.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

ScotiaBank Giller Prize

Congratulation HarperCollins!!

HarperCollins has an amazing 5 titles on the long list for the 2007 Scotiabank Giller prize. I think that’s awesome.

Here's the link for more information about the Giller prize as well as the long list,

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Murderous Yarn by Monica Ferris

In A Murderous Yarn, Betsy Devonshire, owner of Crewel World and amateur sleuth, must determine who killed one of the participants in an antique car rally. She becomes involved after she sponsors one of the cars and volunteers to record the cars arrivals and departures in the rally. When the murder occurs and she’s the alibi for the widow, Betsy starts poking around to find the killer.

Ferris presents a fairly good cozy mystery with some interesting characters. The story is more about antique cars than needlecrafts, but nevertheless enjoyable. I do admire antique cars when I see them on the street, but that’s not what I expected the story to focus on. The author does manage to keep at least part of the story in the needle world, but just barely. I did learn a something…I now know what “orts” are. Also, I was reminded that painted canvases and completed original works are extremely expensive.

I’ve read one other book by this author, but I think I preferred this one, even though the other focused more on needlecrafts. Click here for the review.

For more information on some of the cars featured in the book, there’s tons of information and pictures on the Internet. Here are a few that I found:
1) For the Stanley Steamer (warning the second one has sound):

2) For the Maxwell:

[Disclaimer: These are the first sites I got when I did a search. I’m not affiliated with these sites and I don’t know that they are safe. Surf at your own risk.]

Recommended for cozy mystery lovers.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Heroes: The Champions of Our Literary Imagination by Bruce Meyer

I’m having trouble finishing this book. When I first got it I thought I might have a hard time getting into it. However, I found it was very accessible and somewhat interesting. It didn’t really hold my interest for very long, though. It’s a little too scholarly for me. The book would probably fit nicely into academia. I just couldn’t relate very well to Plato, Aristotle, Chaucer and “old” guys like that, because I haven’t read them.

I did find myself thinking a bit differently about another one of my books, so this book has “reached” me in a way.

I probably would have liked it more (and read more) had it contained more contemporary references. I haven’t given up on it totally, but I think I’ll set it aside for the time being.

Received from HarperCollins Canada Reading Group on Facebook.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Confession$ of a Wall Street Shoeshine Boy by Doug Stumpf

In Confession$ of a Wall Street Shoeshine Boy, Brazilian born Gil is a shoeshine boy at Medved, Morningstar while Greg Waggoner is a reporter searching for a big story which will be his first big break at Glossy magazine. Greg thinks that Gil is his ticket to stardom after he learns that Gil has overheard a very important conversation between a trader, Jeff Steed, and one of the big bosses, Bill Bigelow.

Stumpf’s book is an unusual but very interesting look at a famous American icon through the eyes of a shoeshine boy. It would have been a very different story had the book been called Confession$ of a Sleazy-Crooked Wall Street Trader. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

I had a difficult time reading the sections with Gil’s broken English. I had to slow down and read very carefully. Not something I’m used to, so it was a little distracting at first. However, I found that the broken English really provided a distinct voice for Gil. His chapters were very different from those of Greg’s. I didn’t really enjoy reading about the adolescent/locker room talk antics of Gil and the traders, but that really provided lots of insight into their characters. With this story, the author proved that money couldn’t buy manners or sophistication.

Although part 1 gave a lot of background information, I much preferred reading parts 2 and 3. Gil’s life in Brazil and upbringing were interesting (part 2) as was the insider trading matter between Steed and Bigelow (part 3).

I didn’t appreciate the cover art at first; I thought it was sort of plain. However, after I noticed the reflection in the shine on the shoe and the saw the new main jacket colour (red) on Amazon, I gained a new appreciation for it. It’s cool.

Even though Gil didn’t understand a lot of what was being said around him at the firm, I think he made out pretty well for himself. I’m wondering if he was actually smarter than he was made out to be. The money he received certainly didn’t change him. It changed what he could do, but in the end, he wanted to treat his employees like he wanted to be treated on Wall Street, fairly and with respect.

Overall, it was a pretty good read. I’d definitely recommend it to those looking for something out of the ordinary.

I got this book from the HarperCollins Canada Reading Group on Facebook.

Just Plain Pickled to Death by Tamar Myers

In Just Plain Pickled to Death, Sarah, who’s been missing for 20 years, has been found dead in an old barrel of sauerkraut. This barrel of sauerkraut was supposed to be a wedding present to Magdalena Yoder from her future father-in-law. Some wedding present, eh? Magdalena isn’t that pleased either, but solving this one before her upcoming nuptials is going to test her skills and try her patience.

Myers presents a pretty good cozy mystery that is fun and easy to read. She has a great sense of humour. The story line is over the top, but that makes it fun. I just love Magdalena, the main character. She’s a hoot. [She doesn’t use “dear” as nearly as often as she does in some of the other books that I’ve read. For that I’m thankful.]

I’ve been reading this series out of order so some of the continuing story lines are jumbled up. Nevertheless, I’m enjoying this series very much.

The recipes included are simple fare with nothing too complicated. I’ll probably save a few of them to make at a later date.

I’d definitely recommend this book to cozy mystery lovers.

Wake Up Little Susie by Ed Gorman

In Wake Up Little Susie, Sam McCain must determine who killed Susan Squires and put her body in the truck of an Edsel. That’s bad enough but the body is discovered on the day of the car’s big unveiling. Like the poor Edsel needs more bad luck!! Suspects abound in this retro mystery set in the 1950s.

Gorman present a pretty good story with plenty of 50’s charm and ambience. McCain is a great character with a superb, sarcastic wit. That made this book fun to read. My one disappointment was that I had to read about his sexual escapades. Maybe they added “atmosphere” for the time period or provided additional information about his “character”; however, I thought it was gratuitous. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed reading this book.

I’ve read one other one by Gorman. I really enjoyed it. Here's my scanty review of that book:

I have a few other books by Gorman, but none from this series featuring Sam McCain. I’d love to read another one, so I’ll be looking for more. I’m looking forward to reading some of the others as well.


Americas Best Lost Recipes: 121 Kitchen-Tested Heirloom Recipes Too Good to Forget by the Editors of Cook's Country Magazine

America’s Best Lost Recipes: 121 Kitchen-Tested Heirloom Recipes Too Good to Forget is a fine collection of recipes from the past submitted by readers of Cook’s Country magazine. They were “looking for something special, recipes that tasted great but also recipes that told a story, that truly represented a special window into the American experience.” I think they succeeded.

The recipes are presented in a very nice layout. Each recipe is preceded by an interesting history of the recipe. I especially like the quotes by the submitters. Notes from the test kitchen follow each recipe. I found this particularly helpful, especially the ones that mention successful and not so successful substitutions. The editors even included some great photos of the food. Even though in this ARE they are B&W, the photos made the food look delicious.

The book contains some interesting, not-so-standard recipes that I’ve never heard of. I’m really looking forward to trying some of them. There are also many recipes with unusual names, such as Grandpa Cooley’s Angry Deviled Eggs, Joe Froggers, Tipsy Squire, Naked Ladies with Their Legs Crossed, Bops, and Mile High Bologna Pie to name a few.

Each time I look at the book, I mark more pages of recipes that I hope to make one day. Here’s the ones I’m likely to try first: Székely Goulash (Pork Stew with Sauerkraut) p. 38 sure to be a hit with my pork-loving husband, Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake p. 117 and Grandma June’s Sauerkraut Soup p. 29. What can I say, we like sauerkraut. Yum.

My only disappointed with the book is that four out of the six chapters deal with baked goods and sweets. Currently, I’m trying to cut down on these things for health reasons, so I probably won’t be using this book as an everyday cookbook. I will, however, bring it out for special occasions and treat my family to some delicious goodies.

I got this book from HarperCollins Reading Group on Facebook.

The Burnt House by Faye Kellerman

In The Burnt House, Decker is called in to help out at the scene of a terrible plane crash. Soon the parents of a flight attendant contact him and insist their daughter, Roseanne Dresden, didn’t die in the plane crash. Decker feels for the parents and does a little digging to see what he and his team can uncover. When the last body is recovered almost everyone expects it to be Roseanne’s. When it turns out it’s not, the investigation gets really interesting. Who can this person be? Where is Roseanne? Decker and his team conduct two investigations to get to the bottom of things.

Kellerman’s story is straightforward and presented in a chronological order making it easy to read. Her characters are likable, believable and fun to read about. One of my favourite characters is Rina. She isn’t a major character in the story, but I like her and the fact that she makes many references to Judaism. (I find other religions fascinating). I wonder if she plays a more active role in other books.

I liked that the author used all of the characters in the story line and that it didn’t turn into a one-man show with Decker having all of the answers and finding all of the clues and information to advance/complete the investigations. I find this happens with other mysteries far too often and the minor characters just look incompetent.

This is my first book by Kellerman. It won’t be the last. It looks like I have a huge backlist to catch up on.

Definitely recommended.

I got this book from the HarperCollins Canada Reading Group on Facebook.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

'E' is for Evidence by Sue Grafton

In E is for Evidence, Kinsey Millhone becomes her own client when a warehouse burns down and someone wants it to look like Kinsey is on the take. The insurance claim is being rushed through just as money mysteriously appears in Kinsey’s bank account. Clearing her name and reputation is her number one priority.

I love the matter of fact style in which this series is written. Every time I start one of them, the phrase “Just the facts, ma’am” pops into my head. I love it. With this one, I had a little trouble following all that was going on with all of the siblings. I kept mixing them up. I’m not sure I had them straight by the end. Nevertheless, I still really enjoyed the book.

I’m looking forward to reading the next one in line as well as the many others already written.


The Cat Who Played Brahms by Lilian Jackson Braun

In The Cat Who Played Brahms, Jim Qwilleran, Koko and Yum Yum, have decided to spend the summer in Aunt Fanny cabin. Qwill is hoping that time away will help him decide what to do with his life. When strange things start happening at the cabin and in the nearby town, Qwill knows that something is amiss. His investigation starts soon after he returns from an unusual fishing expedition. Of course, Koko is always willing to lend a hand, er, I mean paw to help out.

As with the other books I’ve read in the series, this one was excellent. Reading about Qwill and the Siamese is always great fun. Call me dumb, but this is the first time I made the connection between the cat’s whiskers and Qwill’s moustache. Braun had to practically spell it out for me. sigh.

Braun’s story line is pretty straightforward and easy to read. In Pickax, where locks on doors are virtually non-existent, people can wander in and out of each other’s homes. This made Qwill nervous, especially with all of the strange things that were going on. I think this would make me nervous as well.

Her characters are fun to read about and usually a little eccentric or larger than life. Besides Qwilleran and the cats, some of my favourites were Tom (I loved the way he talked), Rosemary (she was trying to get Qwill to eat better) and Aunt Fanny (she got people to do what she wanted and she carried a gun even though she was an elderly lady).

I’m not reading this series in order so some of the storylines are jumbled up for me. For some reason I started in the middle of the series and it’s only now that I’m going back to read some of the early ones. From what I’m told, some of the latest books are not as good. I haven’t gotten to them yet, so I’ll wait and see.

I can’t wait to read this next one. Recommended for cozy mystery lovers, especially those who also like cats.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Life on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers

In Life on the Refrigerator Door, Claire, a teenage girl, and her mother, a single parent, lead busy lives. Luckily, they have found a way of communicating that works for them…notes on the refrigerator door.

The story is told exclusively through these notes. An interesting and unique concept! I enjoyed reading it. The ending was especially touching.

However, I didn’t like this book as much as I thought I would. I generally love quirky little books like this, but something about this book didn’t grab me. There were a few notes that seemed unrealistic. That is, some contained information that I didn’t think one would include in a note. Maybe that’s just me. I also had trouble connecting a few of the notes and had to go back a couple of times to fill in the story.

That being said, I still enjoyed reading the book and I’m looking forward to reading more works by this author.

Matchstick Men by Eric Garcia

In Matchstick Men, Roy and Frankie are con men. They’ve been partners for years and have their routines down pat. There’s only one problem; Roy has some mental health issues for which he’s seeing a shrink and is taking medications. It doesn’t get in the way too much as long as he takes his meds. Then one day he finds out he has a 14-year-old daughter from a previous marriage. She wants to learn his tricks of the trade and at that point, his life turns upside down.

I liked this book. It was quick and easy to read with an interesting and humorous story. It made me a little uncomfortable at times when I thought to myself “Would I fall for this scam?” and the answer was “Probably”. [Not that I was talking to myself or anything. LOL.] Anyway, this book is perfect for the beach or a lazy day in the hammock. It certainly kept me entertained for a couple of hours. Great ending. I didn’t see it coming until it was almost upon me.

I didn’t see the movie and now that I know the ending, I probably won’t. I like Nicholas Cage, so I probably would have enjoyed it. Too bad.

This is my first book by Garcia. While I’m not going to run out and get more books by Garcia, if I happen to come across some in the future, I’d be more than happy to read them.

Overall, it’s a fun and entertaining book.

Soul Catcher by Michael White

In Soul Catcher, Augustus Cain is hired to find two runaway slaves, Henry and Rosetta. Cain has a knack for tracking and finding people and sets out, with three others, to find them in America’s northeast. It’s before the American civil war when slavery was rampant in the south and “soul catchers” hunted those who tried to escape.

White presents a beautifully written, but haunting story about the slaves and slave catchers. He provides lots of details to give the reader a full picture of the characters, the area and the era. The writing was easy to read, but the subject matter wasn’t. As I got to know the characters more, I cringed every time I saw the word “shackle”.

This book was very different from books I normally read; yet I enjoyed this book immensely. I really didn’t want to put it down. I thought about the characters even when I wasn’t reading the book. I loved seeing the conflicts and changes in Cain and Rosetta as the story moved along.

I’m not a fan of history; therefore, I generally shy away from historic novels. I knew very little about the subject matter, so the book was quite the eye-opener for me. I learned a lot. The author put faces on both sides of this terrible and troubling era in America’s history.

This is my first book by Michael White. I hope to read more. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Best of Friends by Sara James and Ginger Mauney

In The Best of Friends, Ginger Mauney and Sara James lead fascinating lives. Ginger as a filmmaker in Africa; Sara as a newswoman in the U.S. The story begins in the early 80s, but they actually met much earlier as youngsters. It ends with the present day and what the women are doing now. They are not just friends, but as the title suggests, they are best friends.

An interesting biography/memoir about the women, their adventures and the people they meet throughout their lives. My favourite parts were Ginger’s experiences in Africa and Sara’s experiences with the well-known world news events.

I didn’t warm up to the whole best friends aspect, though. The best parts of the story were the times when the women were apart, off on their own adventures. As far as I’m concerned two books could have been written, both equally interesting. Their friendship wasn’t the strongest part of the book.

The chapters alternated between Ginger and Sara with the chapter names at the top of every page. Every once in awhile I had to check to whose chapter I was reading. Sometimes it was difficult to tell. At first I thought I detected a slight difference in the writing, but that only lasted a chapter or two and soon it all sounded the same. Could two people have such similar writing styles that they are virtually indistinguishable?

Overall, I enjoyed reading about these adventurous women. I just wish my life were half as interesting.

I got this book from the HarperCollins - Reading Group on MySpace.

When The World Was Young by Tony Romano

In When the World Was Young, the members of the Peccatori family come face to face with tragedy. A tragedy that has them reeling in pain and seeking refuge away from each other. While they try to carry on with their lives, each deals with secrets and desires, some too risky to share with others.

Set in the 1950s with brief respites in the 1970s, Romano’s novel is an excellent narrative about family, growing up, grieving, love, and compassion. It’s exceptionally well written with a terrific storyline and fascinating characters. Even though the book was overwhelming sad, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Every once in awhile, I come across a book with characters that I care about. I wonder about them even when I’m not reading the book. What are they doing now? Are they going to be ok? Is everything going to turn out for them? This is just such a book. I’ll be thinking about these characters for a long time to come.

I really liked a number of the characters: Santo, Victoria, Agostino, Vince. It took me awhile to warm up to Angela Rosa, but she had me in tears near the end. Normally, it drives me crazy when characters keep secrets from each. In this case, though, it didn’t. Because the story was believable and so well written, I understood the characters and the reasons for their actions.

I loved the whole book, but I particularly liked the chapters in which the author switched to first-person and jumped 20 years ahead in time. These chapters were few and far between, but they fit in beautifully with the rest of the novel and gave the reader a brief glimpse into the future.

Generally, I’m not a re-reader. However, in this case, I might make an exception. I hope to read many more books by this author.

A beautifully written story. Highly recommended.

I got this book from the HarperCollins - Reading Group on MySpace.

Friday, August 3, 2007

October by Richard B. Wright

In October, James is in London visiting his seriously ill daughter when he runs into an old friend, Gabriel, whom he hasn’t seen in sixty years. The story jumps back and forth between past and present. In the past, Gabriel and James are teenagers interested in the same girl. In the present, Gabriel is dying and wants James to keep him company during this difficult period. James has to deal with his feelings for his old friend as well as his dying daughter and the rest of his family.

Wright has presented a wonderful story with vivid characters. I read this book in a just a couple of sittings, which is quite unusual for me. I was totally hooked from the first page to the very last. His writing is very easy to read and his storytelling is superb. At various times though the book, I felt as though I was reading a true story. Everything was so believable.

I haven’t read anything else by Wright, but I happen to have Clara Callan on my bookshelf. I’m looking forward to reading it soon.

My husband got this book from HarperCollins First Look program. He said it was good, so I decided to give it a try.

Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter by Phoebe Damrosch

In Service Included, Phoebe Damrosch gives us a behind the scenes look at the life of a captain at the 4-star New York restaurant, Per Se. Her main focus is the restaurant, the other staff, the clientele and, of course, the food. However, we get to also see her life outside of work: where she lives, where she eats, whom she dates.

I really enjoyed this one. It bought back all kinds of memories from my line cook days in a much more casual restaurant. The information she provided was fascinating. I was confused about a few things, but mostly the author took the time to explain all of the fine details of the fine dining experience. The whole scenario sort of reminded me of a stage play with adlibbing permitted.

Phoebe’s life outside of work was not quite as interesting, but it was still fun to read about. Her insecurities about her relationship with André were easy to relate to, but her outing with Patrick to find the best bone marrow was not. Patty melts I can handle, bone marrow, not so much.

To put this review into perspective, I’ve never dined in a 4-star restaurant and I’m not even sure I’d be that relaxed there. I really it like when I have one server who takes my order, brings my food, clears the plates, pours me water and brings the bill. Otherwise, I don’t know to whom I can direct my questions. Is it ok to ask the person who brings my food for more coffee? Is it ok to ask the guys who fills my water glass for more salad dressing? Maybe if I knew “the rules”, I could do it. Besides, I could never afford to drop $20,000 on dinner or order an item off the menu that has 3 digits in the price. I’ll put this on my to-do list after I win the lottery.

I’d recommend this to readers who have an interest in food or those who have dined at a fine dining establishment and would like a glimpse behind the scenes.

I got this book from HarperCollins First Look program.

When Day Breaks by Mary Jane Clark

In When Day Breaks, news anchor Eliza Blake and her co-workers investigate and develop the news story about the death of their former co-worker, Constance Young. Constance has just landed a spot with the competition, but before she could start, her body was found dead in her swimming pool. As the number of suspects abound, the group has their work cut out for them.

This novel is a larger-than-life behind-the-scenes look at network news. I don’t know if this would classify as a cozy mystery, but it reads like one. Instead of the protagonist stepping into role of investigator (officially or unofficially) these characters investigate the crime/mystery in the course of their jobs. I was a little disturbed by the opening shocking prologue, but I soon got over that. The novel was fun and entertaining to read and completely captured my attention.

As a fan of CNN’s morning new program, American Morning, I was particularly fascinated by the fact that the reporters were getting information more quickly and ahead of the police. Very interesting.

Mary Jane Clark is the Queen of short chapters, in my opinion, managing to squeeze in 113 chapters in a mere 326 pages. Of course, other authors do this, but not all of them number the scene changes. I don’t really like putting down a book in mid-chapter, so these short chapters would allow me to read as little as a page when I had the time. With this book, though, I didn’t really put it down all that much. Once I picked it up, I wanted to read to the end to find out who the culprit was.

There are lots of interesting and unique characters in this book. My favourites were Eliza, Annabelle and Boyd. I really didn’t like Mack and Todd all that much, although they were very minor characters. I didn’t particularly care for Stuart either, but I did feel sorry for him. Constance treated him badly and really took advantage of him, while he was completely devoted to her.

I’d definitely recommend this book to cozy mystery lovers and those looking for a light read. It’d be perfect for the beach or a lazy afternoon in the hammock.

I’m looking forward to reading more books in the Sunrise Suspense Society series.

I got this book from the HarperCollins - Reading Group on MySpace.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

Barbara Kingsolver’s story of her family’s experiment where they grow their own food in a rural environment is informative and a great read. While the subject matter is very serious, there are some very humorous parts to her story. She provides an extraordinary amount of information regarding everyday foods, how they are produced and how they get to our tables.

Undoubtedly, this is one of the best books I’ve read all year. It didn’t come across as preachy, but rather inviting. The family’s interaction with the food they grew was the most interesting part for me. Because they lived through/with this experiment and wrote about it, it wasn’t just a how to manual, which likely would have been dry and somewhat boring. I loved that the story was presented chronologically featuring produce that’s available at that time of year.

Kingsolver’s family members have also made contributions to be the book. Steven’s sections were very informative and well written. They contained plenty of interesting facts and stats about food production. The recipes and accompanying text by Camille were equally well done. I haven’t any of the recipes yet, but I plan to soon.

While I haven’t made significant changes in my household yet, I’ve certainly had my eyes open by this book. I’m now convinced that I really need to look at where my food is coming from. I’m unlikely to start farming like this family, but there are lots of things I could be doing differently. The book is definitely worthy of a second read.

I’d definitely recommend this wonderful book.

From HarperCollins First Look program.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Invisible Armies by Jon Evans

In Invisible Armies, Danielle and Keiran get involved with an anti-corporate protest group who are campaigning against a mining company. They travel the world setting up demonstrations and diversions to stop the company from poisoning innocent children in India.

Excellent fast paced thriller with a high-action finale that kept me glued to my seat. Once I picked up this page-turner I didn’t want to put it down. There were parts of the first section that were a little slow, but once they reached Paris, there was non-stop action. My plan was to read it alternatively with Harry Potter. However, that didn’t happen. Once I picked this one up, I knew Potter was going to have to wait. [This probably isn’t something the author is going to do cartwheels about, but it was Potter-mania at our house for weeks before HP7 was released. It was going to take an extraordinary book to make me put Potter down.]

My favourite character was Keiran. I liked him right away. Maybe it’s because of my computer analyst/programmer background that I found him so appealing. Sometimes I, too, would rather deal with my computer than people. It should come as no surprise that my favourite quote was on page 261 with Keiran speaking to Danielle: “I like the idea of people. It’s the individual instances I have problems with”.

I love the look and feel of the matt cover with the glossy lettering. Nice.

When I finished the book, the first word that came to my mind was “sequel”. I’d love to see one.

It scares me a little that situations like this are plausible. However, our lives are so intertwined with computers now, there’s no turning back. My life is out there on servers across the world for those who want to know more about me. [I should warn you; I’m pretty boring] That’s the world we live in. Sure, I could stop using my computer, but then I’d also have to convince my bank, credit card companies, financial advisors, doctor, pharmacy etc. to do so also. It ain’t going to happen.

Highly recommended for thriller fans and, of course, hackers.

I got this book from HarperCollins Reading Group on MySpace.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Murder at the Powderhorn Ranch: Murder, She Wrote by Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain

In Murder at the Powderhorn Ranch: Murder, She Wrote, Jessica Fletcher goes to a friend’s ranch in Colorado. Of course, she’s going there for some R&R, however, we know that where Jessica goes, murder isn’t far behind. When one of the other guests, Paul Molloy, is found dead, Jessica is asked to help track down the killer. When she starts to investigate, she uncovers some connections between the guests and must determine if these secret links led to murder.

As a fan of the TV show, I really liked this book. It was fun to read and quick to read. Just like the other books in this series, it read just like one of the TV episodes.

I’d recommend it to other fans.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman

In What the Dead Know, two young girls, Sunny and Heather, go missing from a mall without a trace. Thirty years later, a woman gets into an accident. When she’s questioned about her identity, she lets slip that she’s Heather. As a result, the police start investigating this woman’s claims. Is she or isn’t she? Where has she been all of these years? What happened that day at the mall? These are the questions put to her, yet she’s being anything but cooperative.

Excellent mystery with very surprising ending. It’s not at all what I expected. As I was reading, some thoughts crossed my mind about how it could end. I never would have guessed at this, though. Very clever.

Lippman’s characters were exceptional. The reader gets to know them intimately down to the smallest details. For me, they were not just believable they were very real. I was so drawn into the story that I was starting to believe it was really happening. I even related some of the details to my husband as if I had watched the news rather than just read a piece of fiction.

There were so many good characters I just can’t pick a favourite. I especially like little Heather, Dave, Miriam and Infante. Each of them was so well developed.

I loved the way the story jumped around in time…from past to present and back again. I also loved the shifts in point of view…from the girls, the parents, and the police. It would have been a different book, and certainly not nearly as good or interesting, had the story been told in a linear fashion from a single point of view. Lippman has a great way of writing that allows the reader to follow along or catch up rather than just get lost.

Highly recommended. I’d also recommend “The Sugar House” by this author. I’ll be looking for more of her books. She’s awesome.

From HarperCollins - Reading Group on FaceBook.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Absolution by Caro Ramsay

I got this book from HarperCollinsCanada – The Reading Group on MySpace.

In Absolution, twenty years ago PC (Police Constable) Alan McAlpine was guarding the room of a young woman who was viciously attacked. Now he is DCI (Detective Chief Inspector) and is leading the investigation in the “Crucifixion Killer”, named so because of the position of the victims. The case from 20 years ago has haunted McAlpine and continues to haunt him while he returns to the very precinct he worked earlier.

I loved it. It had great characters, good twists, and a fantastic ending. I didn’t see that coming at all. All in all it was a really good mystery/thriller.

My favourite character was Alan McAlpine. He wasn’t an easy character to like because he came across as moody, cranky and hard. The back of the book mentions a “planned series”. That’s very intriguing, especially after that ending. I can’t wait to see what the author does next.

I’d recommend it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

If Today Be Sweet by Thrity Umrigar

In If Today Be Sweet, Tehmina has come to America to visit her son, daughter-in-law and grandson. Her husband has died and she has to figure out where she wants to live now; by herself in Bombay or in America with the rest of her family. Tehmina’s decision will not be easy.

I loved every word of this book. From the prologue with Rustom talking about his wife to the ending with Tehmina decision, I was hooked. I just adored Tehmina. Her husband was not wrong about her.

Umrigar’s writing, characters and descriptions of Bombay made me want to read even more from this author. I especially liked the way she contrasted life in Bombay to that in America because America didn’t always come out on top. Where as Umrigar’s “The Space Between Us” was so sad, this one wasn’t so. For me, it was filled with hope, even though there was much to be sad/angry about.

My favorite quote:
Rustom to Sorab: Never begrudge another man his success, sonny. Remember, all of us live out our own destinies. All our lives run on a parallel path—someone else’s success neither pulls us down, nor does his failure boost us up. (page 46)

This book is now one of my favorites. I will not soon forget these characters. Highly recommended.

I got this book from HarperCollinsCanada – The Reading Group on MySpace.

Lying With Strangers by James Grippando

I got this book from HarperCollinsCanada – The Reading Group on MySpace.

Lying with Strangers was easy to read with a straightforward storyline. I zipped through it in just a few days. The ending contained some good twists that surprised me.

[Added July 19, 2007] The prologue, with Rudy on the subway, was pretty good. It was descriptive, suspenseful and drew me right in. Also, the character Rudy was a good scary villain. He was more believable than some of the others. A couple of times he gave me goose bumps.

However, at times it was unbelievable and over the top. [More about this later. Because any examples are likely to be spoilers, I’ve added those to the end.] I was also disappointed that Kevin’s book and the subsequent lawsuit, which had such promise as a storyline. It sort of fizzled after building up good momentum. [Is this another spoiler?]

As the title suggests, these characters were strangers. Indeed! Did these people know each other at all? It seemed that everyone had a deep dark secret they were keeping from the others. A few times, I almost laughed out loud at the levels of deceit. Probably not the reaction the author was looking for.

I still enjoyed reading it, but a few things made me squirm. As for a recommendation? Hmmmm...give it a try, if you want. You could do a whole lot worse.

As I said above the story line was unbelievable at times. Here are a few examples:
1) Kevin would not have remembered what earrings Sandra was wearing the one night they had sex. The dress? Maybe. The earrings? Not likely.
2) RG posing as a woman and Kevin didn’t notice. Not too many man make convincing a woman. You’d think he’d notice.
3) Gary’s interaction with Peyton: after she got drunk, the rose on her locker, the stolen computer. There was something odd about those exchanges.

I also thought parts of the story were over the top. In a few places there were several things going wrong as if only one thing wasn’t good enough. For example, Kevin was trying to get to his car in a snow storm….he drops his keys in the snow, lock is iced over, snow falls down his collar, too much snow on the windshield, ice under the snow, scrapes his knuckles trying to get it off, then his car won’t start.
*************end of spoilers********************

There you have it. Would I read another book by this author? If the timing was right, I might.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

The Ladies' Lending Library by Janice Kulyk Keefer

Rather than my "usual" review, I'm trying something different. Here are some some thoughts I had after finishing the book.

I loved this book. I got lost in the beginning too, with all of the names to remember. However, just when I thought I was terribly lost, the names all fell into place. I really got into it after that. It was beautifully written and a joy to read.

As for characters, I was fascinated by a few of the relationships: Laura and Nastia, Bonnie and Marta, and finally Peter and Nadia. I admired Peter and Nadia for risking it all to follow their dreams. I loved the ending and really wanted Sonia to find some happiness.

It did make me miss my mother, though. She was Ukrainian and died in 1998. This book brought back all kinds of wonderful memories of her and my childhood. I miss watching her make perogies (varenky) and other ethnic dishes. We (my siblings and I) never did learn to speak Ukrainian like my parents; we just used the odd word here and there…interspersed with English - kind of like in the book. In fact, we still use some of those words we learned as kids. Now I know why “toshi, toshi, toshi” sounds so familiar to me.

Really good book; great ending. I’d recommend it.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Bread on Arrival by Lou Jane Temple

In Bread on Arrival, Heaven Lee, a chef in Kansas City, attends the ARTOS convention to pick up some break-making tips. She isn’t expecting trouble, but that’s exactly what she gets when two of her colleagues wind up dead. She’s determined to find out who killed them and why, while still learning a thing or two about bread.

Along with some good information on bread, baking and some yummy recipes, the author gives the reader an above average cozy mystery with a host of fun characters and intricate plot. Heaven Lee is a great, smart-alecky character and I enjoyed reading about her.

I’m going to save the recipes. I hope to make at least a few of them.

Recommended for cozy mystery lovers, especially those who enjoy food and recipes along with their mysteries.

Murder on Monday by Ann Purser

In Murder on Monday, Lois Meade, who cleans houses in the village of Long Farnden, investigates the death of Gloria Hathaway by looking for clues in the houses of her clients. She doesn’t engage in gossip, but isn’t above sneaking around and looking into other people’s business.

A really good British cozy mystery with interesting, entertaining and believable characters as well as a clever plot with lots of twists to keep the reader guessing until the end. I wasn’t particularly fond of the Josie/Melvyn side story and kept wondering why we needed all of this information. Little did I know. I’ll zip my lip now before I give away any spoilers.

This one is the first in the series. I don’t have any of the others, but I’d really like to read them. I’ll keep my eye out for them.

Highly recommended for cozy mystery lovers.

The Firm by John Grisham

In The Firm, Mitch McDeere has been hired by a very prestigious law firm. The firm is going above and beyond when they lease him a new BMW, find him a house to live in, pay off his student loans and many other things ordinary companies wouldn’t do for employees. This is not an ordinary company, though as Mitch soon finds out. When the FBI contacts him to spy on the firm, Mitch is thrown into a tailspin from which only the craftiest of heroes can recover.

Grisham has presented a very good suspenseful, page-turner that had me hooked from beginning until the very end. Even after I finished the book, I wondered what the characters were doing and how they were continuing on with their lives. He has a great sense for cliffhangers and keeps the reader wanting more.

In the beginning of the book, I hated the way Grisham portrayed women. I also disliked the attitudes of the men towards women. It really bugged me that it was mentioned numerous times that the secretaries in the firm were all ugly. That being said, Grisham redeems himself with Abby and “Doris”, both of whom I really liked.

Otherwise, a very good read. Recommended.

Death of a Travelling Man by M.C. Beaton

In Death of a Travelling Man, Hamish has been promoted and must determine who killed the “travelling man”. At first, it seems that some of the neighbours welcome the new people in town. However, that doesn’t last long and things turn ugly. It’s up to Macbeth to determine why the neighbours are acting strangely and what’s really going on.

I so enjoyed this one. I devoured it in just a few sittings.

I’ve read a number of other books by Beaton, but this is the first one with Hamish Macbeth. I was afraid that I was going to miss Agatha (Raisin, the main character in Beaton’s other books), but I loved Hamish so much it didn’t matter to me that Agatha wasn’t there (Sorry Agatha).

I have a number of other books featuring Hamish Macbeth and I can’t wait to read them.

Highly recommended for the cozy mystery lovers. Delightful.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

It's How you Play the Game by Brian Kilmeade

Inspirational, funny, touching, powerful, informative. All of these words could describe, “It’s How You Play the Game” by Brian Kilmeade.

Whether you’re an avid sportsman, athlete, parent of an athlete or just looking for some good life lessons, you’ll find something of interest in this book. It’s chalk full of stories about amateur and professional athletes and how they tackled life on and off the field/pool/pitch/diamond/balance beam/race track etc.

I'm not an athlete nor do I have children in sports. However, thanks to this book, I can really appreciate the sacrifices and challenges these athletes have faced and endured. Inspirational, for sure.

I do have one complaint about the selection of pictures. I’m very visual and usually don’t forget a face. However, I don’t always remember the name of the person. That being said, I had a hard time putting names and faces together because the pictures weren’t current or weren’t ones I was used to seeing of the person. While it was nice to see different ones and “older” pictures, I would have preferred ones that I’d recognize.

Otherwise, a nicely put together book and a very interesting read. Recommended.

My husband got this from HarperCollins First Look program. This is our review.

Michael Tolliver Lives by Armistead Maupin

Michael Tolliver Lives is funny, thought provoking and touching. Maupin has created some memorable, exceptional and vivid characters to go along with an equally outstanding storyline. I read it in just a couple of sittings and truly enjoyed it.

Michael “Mouse” Tolliver lives indeed. Despite having HIV, he is living his life. He readily admits to others that he is “positive”. In his world, it’s a necessity to let others know. “Mouse” is surrounded by an odd bunch of characters each with a story to tell.

You don’t have to have read the other books in the “Tales of the City” series to enjoy this one. I haven’t read them. Now that I’m finished this one, I’d like to check them out too.

Recommended for Tales of the City series fans as well as those looking for an all-round good read.

[Please note: Some sexually explicit content may offend some readers.]

This book is from HarperCollins First Look program.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Eat, Drink and Be Buried by Peter King

In Eat, Drink and be Buried, the Gourmet Detective, who normally investigates and searches out speciality food items for clients, is asked to look into the death of a stuntmen who dies after a stunt. His first suspicion is poisoning, but needs to research and investigate the details to determine if that’s true.

Well-above-average cozy mystery. In other words, it was excellent! The characters were fun and delightful while the story was interesting. He pay particular attention to the food; that’s my favourite part.

I think it’s a great mystery for food lovers as well as those interested in food history. I usually don’t go in for the history stuff too often, but I especially enjoyed this one because of the history. I loved learning about the medieval culinary tastes and customs. In addition, the “show” the castle inhabitants put on for visitors looked like jolly good fun. Well, except for the murder, but you know what I mean.

Some might be a little disappointed that this food mystery doesn't have recipes. That's just fine by me. I probably wouldn't cook what they ate back then anyway. ;)

If you like cozy mysteries, food and history, this one’s for you. Highly recommended.

Macramé Australian Animals & Flowers by Nan Bosler

Macramé Australian Animals & Flowers has cute animal projects and the beautiful flower patterns. However, in my opinion, this book is short on instruction. Also, I would have preferred more diagrams/pictures within the patterns. Disclaimer: I’ve made a number of macramé projects, so I’m not a beginner. However, I haven’t had a lot of recent experience [I could be out of practice] and I’ve mainly done plant hangers (albeit complicated ones) and wall hangings in the past. No multi-dimensional animals.

I tried to make the “Elly Echidna” pattern and failed miserably. The material information was sparse so I ended up using the wrong material. I probably would have anyway, because whenever possible and if I can, I try to use materials I already have on hand rather than purchasing something specific for just one project. I know it’s a bit of a gamble, but I’m cheap and sometimes I like the challenge. This time though it was frustrating and patience-testing. [The cord size wasn’t mentioned, so it would have been hard to use the correct stuff anyway]. The instructions were complicated and I just couldn’t follow them. I finally gave up about halfway through.

The diagrams for the knots were good, but I think they authors assumed the reader/crafter mostly knew how to macramé. My other macramé books have more diagrams for the general knots as well as for the patterns themselves. They are easier to follow. [I’m a very visual person and I find that diagrams/pictures help me a lot.]

I have a few pictures of my failure, which I plan to upload onto Flickr. They won’t be there immediately, but should be there fairly soon. I still plan to put quills(?) on the “thing” hoping to salvage it somehow. Once I put the quills on it, I’ll post more pictures. I’ll update this journal entry with a link to the pictures when they are there. Feel free to laugh.

I had planned on photocopying a few of the patterns to try at a later date, but I think I’ll pass on that option considering my first experience. I’m going to release this book for someone else to use. Hopefully, it’ll be someone with more experience, patience and common sense to use the correct materials. Enjoy. I truly hope you have more skill/luck than I did.

[If someone finds my patience wandering around out there, please send it back to me.]

Update May 11, 2007: Here are the photos on Flickr:
Photo 1
Photo 2

Update October 17, 2007: Finally I've added the quills and posted the photos on Flickr:
Photo 3
Photo 4

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The Travelling Hornplayer by Barbara Trapido

The Travelling Hornplayer is a fantastic story with amazing characters. So much happens in the story that I won’t even attempt to sum it up.

Even though it took me a while to get through the book (gardening and yard work kept me away from reading), I thought it was just great. The characters and storyline were totally absorbing. I love books written in the first person; this one was no exception.

Trapido’s character descriptions are superb…in depth and complete. I loved the way characters lives interwove with each other. Her amazing storyline flowed so beautifully from one character to another and back again. I could go on and on about what I liked about the story, but that would probably be giving too much away. I’ll stop there.

Because I had such long gaps between reading sessions, I sometimes forgot who some of the characters were. That’s my only regret/disappointment with this book.

I hope her other books are as good. I’m already half way out the door to look for more.

Highly recommended. I’ll be releasing this book as soon as I can.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Majoring in Murder: Murder, She Wrote by Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain

In Majoring in Murder, Jessica Fletcher is teaching a writing course at Schoolman College when a tornado touches down…the first in sixty years. In the aftermath, a professor is found dead presumably killed as a result of the storm. However, Jessica has some doubts and tries her best to convince the authorities to look further at the death.

I love Murder, She Wrote; the TV series as well as this book series. Sometimes the storylines are a little farfetched, but they are always entertaining. The characters are generally interesting, fun to read about and occasionally a bit on the eccentric side. Jessica Fletcher/Donald Bain’s writing style is concise and easy to read.

Recommended for those looking for a nice light, cozy mystery.

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon by Crystal Zevon

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon, Crystal Zevon presents the memoirs of her one-time husband and rock icon, Warren Zevon. She uses a series of anecdotes from the famous, infamous and others who knew Warren and were there to give us the inside details of the key events in his life. While the memoirs are presented in a unique and unusual manner, they are both thoroughly interesting and highly entertaining.

From his early days with the Everly Brothers to his death in 2003, Warren’s life is laid out in a comprehensive and thorough timeline; even the most devout fan will likely learn a thing or two.

A definite must read for Zevon fans and other rock aficionados.

[This was a ARE from FirstLook program at]

Monday, April 16, 2007

Dark Room by Andrea Kane

In Dark Room, Morgan Winter witnessed the murder of her parents when she was just a child. As an adult, she comes to learn that the man in prison for their murders was wrongly convicted. The real killer is out there and along with the police and loved ones, Morgan is determined to find him.

Andrea Kane presents a hard-to-put-down suspenseful novel with remarkable and believable characters as well as a crafty story line. She’s included tons of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing until the very end. An all-round solid read. I’d recommend this to mystery lovers.

My one complaint: While the book was a very good read, it wasn’t as suspenseful as I thought the website write-up indicated. I was really looking forward to a page-turning psychological thriller and I don’t think I got that. Maybe it was just me who read too much into it.

I’ll be looking for more of Kane’s work in the future.

[This was a ARE from FirstLook program at].

Crime in the Cards (The Hardy Boys #165) by Franklin W. Dixon

In Crime in the Cards, Frank and Joe have to determine who’s been stealing game cards from their friends. It seems that nowhere in the school is safe, not even the teacher’s desk. With the big tournament coming up, can the Hardy Boys solve the mystery and find the cards before time runs out? You’ll just have to read the book to find out.

This is another pretty good mystery featuring the Hardy Boys. I still prefer Nancy Drew, but these ones are almost as entertaining. Although, I enjoyed the story, I couldn’t relate to the fantasy game these kids were playing. I’m not into that sort of thing; never have been. The story contains some wacky characters and is fun to read.

Recommended for younger readers.

Tippy Toe Murder by Leslie Meier

In Tippy Toe Murder, Lucy Stone is trying to find a friend who’s disappeared. Caroline Hunter, retired ballet instructor, didn’t return from her morning walk and the community fears the worst. Meanwhile, a storeowner is dead after being hit in the head with Lucy’s video camera. Lucy is busy deciphering the clues and motives to both mysteries while trying to prepare her daughter for her dancing debut.

With domestic violence and child abuse as two of the many subjects in this book, this book is no fluffy, lightweight mystery. It’s a great book, though, that I devoured in a few sittings. Leslie Meier’s characters are believable and her story line is coherent and easy to follow.

Recommended for the mystery fan. I have another book by Meier and I can’t wait to see if it’s as good as this one.

Post-Mortem by Patricia Cornwell

In Post-Mortem, Kay Scarpetta is trying to find maniac killer who’s leaving very few clues for her to follow. Someone is trying to interfere with the investigation while the body count continues to rise. Kay could become the next victim as her department comes under scrutiny.

I thoroughly enjoyed this one from Cornwell. It has a very good story that is straightforward and easy to follow (unlike a few of her other works). The characters are strong and believable. However, Scarpetta seems too hard-hearted for me. I don’t like soft, mushy characters, but Kay just seems too “cold”.

Highly recommended. I have a few more from Cornwell that I have to read yet. I hope most of them are at least as good as this one.

Book Journal

Since I already use LiveJournal for my Backyard Journal (, I contemplated just adding my "book stuff" to that one. However, I really wanted to keep them separate, so here I am!

I'll be adding some book reviews shortly. Until then....