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Reviews Written by
Teddy (Richmond, BC)

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The Edge of Lost
The Edge of Lost
Price: CDN$ 2.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In My Top 5 of the Genre, Jan. 23 2016
This review is from: The Edge of Lost (Kindle Edition)
Shanley Keagan is a young boy living in Dublin with his alcoholic uncle. His mother had died and he doesn't know who his father is other than he is from America. His uncle has little Shanley work in pubs that will have him as a vaudevillian. He earns a bit of money and usually gets a free meal for his efforts.
Eventually Shanley gets on a boat heading for America and is taken in by an Italian family and takes on the name Tommy Capello. A lot happens during this time however, eventually Tommy ends up at the notorious, Alcatraz Prison. Is he really guilty of the crime he is convicted of and will he get out? You will have to read the book to find out!
I started rooting for Shanley/ Tommy from the first chapter. He has a zest for life that is contagious and is very talented. He doesn't want to be a burden to anyone yet loves his new Italian family and learns how to fit in.
It is clear to me that Kristina McMorris really did her research on both Ireland and American in the era. Her writing is poetic and makes the story come alive. This book would make an excellent movie if it were to land in the right hands! In fact, it came alive and made me feel like I was watching a movie. Sometimes I even felt like I was in it!
I love books about the immigrant experience and this is one I can highly recommend. It has catapulted into my top 5 in the genre! If you love historical fiction books about the immigrant experience. Life on Alcatraz as both a inmate, worker, and family living on the Island is also riveting. 'The Edge of Lost' is a must read!

I received the ebook edition for my honest opinion.

Signora Da Vinci
Signora Da Vinci
by Robin Maxwell
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.83
71 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Stirring Portrait of Renascence Italy, April 24 2009
This review is from: Signora Da Vinci (Paperback)
Historical records tell us very little about Leonardo Da Vinci's mother, Caterina. All that is really know is that she had Leonardo out of wedlock and that he was taken from her by his father's family and raise by them.

Robin Maxwell tries to fill in the blanks and the remarkable work of historical fiction. Caterenia grew up in a small village with her father, Ernesto, an apothecary. Her mother died when Caterina was very young. Ernesto was a true believer in education and educated Caterina even though it was almost unheard of for a woman to have an education. He also taught her how to be an apothecary.

One day Caterenia was gathering plants for the apothecary when she happened to meet Piero, the son of the richest family in the village. After that they met regularly until he finally propose marriage. With the promise of marriage, they consummated their love for each other.
Piero went home to tell his family about his future wife and he was forbidden to see her again, let alone marry her. A couple months after that, Caterina realized she was pregnant. After she gives birth, is when the story really spices up!

Caterina was an intelligent, kind, caring mother who would do anything for her son, even at great personal risk to herself and her identity.
Robin Maxwell writes a very colourful story of Caterina and her relationship with her son. She captures the essence of the Italian Renascence with vivid prose and includes details of real people such as Leonardo da Vinci and Lorenzo de'Medici.

Maxwell did make one mistake, when Leonardo was almost 16 years old, Caterina was 21. She was 15 when she had him. The math does not add up at all. LOL!

Despite that, Maxwell wrote a stirring portrait of Renascence Italy and Leonardo da Vinci's mother. Highly recommended!

King's Fool: A Notorious King, His Six Wives, and the One Man Who Knew All Their Secrets
King's Fool: A Notorious King, His Six Wives, and the One Man Who Knew All Their Secrets
by Margaret Campbell Barnes
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 17.26
35 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars 4.5 He's No Fool, April 2 2009
Will Somers starts out with a dull life in the country on the family farm. Even his family admits that he doesn't make a good farmer. That doesn't leave him with any real options, until an option lands in his lap.

Will is one of the few lucky country children that had an education. He is given to a merchant, Richard Fermer , to work for. He has a good head for numbers and he must do the books and take inventory. He is good at what he does, but it bores him. The one shining light in his new life is Joanna, Master Fermer's daughter. He knows that it would not be possible to marry her, yet he dreams of a life with her.

One day Master Fermer told Will that he would be going to Court with him to conduct business. He meets King Henry and while the king and other royalty bowl, Will cracks a joke. With that, Henry scoops up Will to be his royal fool.

Will witnesses everything at court. The six wives, Henry's mood swings, everything. He become King Henry's companion and confidante and stand by him through it all. However, he still pines for Joanna through the years.

I could go on and on about this wonderful book but I wouldn't want to give you any spoilers. This book was first published in 1959. It is now being re-published by Source Books and is coming out this month. Though it was out in 1959, I didn't find it dated by today's standards.

My only small complaint is that I would have liked it a bit longer. Some of King Henry's six wives are barely touched upon.

Margaret Campbell Barnes envelopes the reader into the pages of her book. It is a compelling read and captures the period and Will Somers well. This book is hard to put down! Highly recommended!

Kingmaking: Book One Of the Pendragon's Banner Trilogy
Kingmaking: Book One Of the Pendragon's Banner Trilogy
by Helen Hollick
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 17.91
24 used & new from CDN$ 6.46

4.0 out of 5 stars 4.5 Ancient Legend Comes to Life, March 25 2009
In 450 AD. the British are under the rule of Vortigern. He is a mean and cruel king. Uthr Pendragon was king before that but Vortigern took his kingdom from him and Urthr dies. It is believed that Urthr didn't have an legitimate male heir, but he did. When Arthur was born he was switched to protect t his real identity, the rightful heir the Pendragon thrown.

As a child, Arthur meets Gwenhwyfar and know that she is the one he will marry but as adults, there are obstacles in the way of their union.

When Arthur is old enough to become a warrior he gets his training in Vortigern's army. By then Vortigern knows his true identity be wants to keep his enemy close. Arthur brought some loyal friends with him who also served in the evil army. They learn the art or war together and vow to overthrow Vortigern eventually and make Arthur the rightful king.

Helen Hollick leaves out all the usual mystery and magic. There is no mention of Merlin and Lancelot, which in my opinion, makes her version more plausible than other versions of the story.

This book is over 550 pages but reads very fast. I had some late nights because I had trouble putting this book down and when I did, I couldn't stop thinking of it! Hollick's writing is smooth and beautiful. She seamlessly transports her readers back to the Dark Ages.

This is book one of a trilogy. I don't usually finish trilogies due to the time commitment. There are so many books out there that I want to read and not enough time. However, I plan to read this complete trilogy. I can hardly wait to read what happens next!

Galway Bay
Galway Bay
by Mary Pat Kelly
Edition: Hardcover
24 used & new from CDN$ 4.78

4.0 out of 5 stars Survival Against the Odds, March 14 2009
This review is from: Galway Bay (Hardcover)
Honora Kelly of Galway Bay had her life worked out. She was to become a nun. Her parents wanted this for her and she was quite willing. She was just about to start her days in the convent when she saw a mysterious man and his horse rising out of the sea. This man, Michael was to change her destiny forever.

It was love at first site, Honora wasn't going to be a nun after all. Yes, her parents were disappointed as they wanted a better life for her. Yes, in Ireland, the convent was a better life. However, her parents really liked Michael and eventually agreed to giving their daughter's hand in marriage.

Michael and Honora Kelly made a life for themselves farming. They raised horses and a variety of crops. Most of the crops went toward paying rent to the brutal English landlords but the potato crop was for the family. They had an abundant supply of delicious, life sustaining" pratties". Enough to sustain their growing family.

Then the potatoes blight happened. It was the beginning of the potatoes famine for the entire country. The first year, they we able to selvage a few pratties. They found a way to survive. However, the second year there was nothing to selvage. Michael had to walk miles to work breaking up rocks for the government for pennies a day. The family lined up for soup every night, and every once in a while Honora's father, a fisherman, had fish to sell.

The third year it was announced that there would be no more government jobs or soup lines. The land lords wanted the Irish families to leave and if that meant dying, that was fine with them.
Michael and Honora made the gut wrench decision to leave their beloved country and head for "Amerikey".

This book has something for everyone. It is Irish historical fiction, a family saga, a story of the American immigrant experience, and even a romance. It started off a bit slow for me however, there was quite a bit of Irish mythology at the beginning that wasn't to my taste. I'm sure that there are other reader who would enjoy this part.

Within about 75 pages, I really warmed up to the story. So much so that I became a part of the Kelly family every time I picked up the book. I experience their joy's, sorrow's and triumphs along with them. I even felt that pangs of hunger that the family suffered.

Mary Pat Kelly has a poetic writing style that sweeps the reader in. Her strong characters are well drawn out and is the landscape and back drop. I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading more by Mary Past Kelly.

A Long Stone's Throw
A Long Stone's Throw
by Alphie McCourt
Edition: Audio CD
8 used & new from CDN$ 12.86

3.0 out of 5 stars The youngest of the McCourt brothers, Feb. 27 2009
This review is from: A Long Stone's Throw (Audio CD)
First there was 'Angela's Ash's and other books by Frank McCourt. Then his brother Malachy with the book "And a Monk Swimming". Now the youngest of the McCourt brothers, Alphie has written a book.

Not many years after his brothers move to New York City from Ireland, Alphie and his mother followed. We hear about his family, this time from Alphie's perspective but much the same as what his brothers describe. Then we hear about his life.
Alphie didn't have the same luck in life as his brothers had. He went from dead-end job to the other throughout his life. He also battled alcoholism. Things looked up for awhile when he owned a restaurant, but that eventually went bankrupt.

He does share one talent with his brother's and that is writing. He shared songs, stories and poems throughout his story, which were enhanced by the audio version of the is book as he sang the songs. Not that he's a great singer, but you get to hear them they way they were meant to be heard. A bit of the books got repetative so it could have used a bit more editing.

Alphie McCourt's story is honest, funny, and sad. I hope his writing is the start in a new and better chapter in his life!


Still I Rise: A Graphic History of African Americans
Still I Rise: A Graphic History of African Americans
by Roland Laird
Edition: Paperback
12 used & new from CDN$ 40.43

5.0 out of 5 stars A Graphic History, Feb. 27 2009
'Still I rise' is a graphic history book about the struggles, heroic, and triumphant history of African Americans. It mentions all of the largely known history but it also tells of more little known facts and of important people who helped shape how America is today.

Something I certainly didn't learn in my school history books was that of indentured servitude which lead to slavery. I didn't enjoy my history classes back in grammar school or high school because the text books were dry.

This book would make students want to learn the history of African Americans! It is a short book but the details of the history included are rich in detail. It is well researched, well written, and beautifully illustrated.

This is my first time reading a graphic book. There have been some that sound good but I have been hesitant. I visualize a comic strip, like the Sunday funnies in the newspaper. I just couldn't believe that they could be taken seriously. Still I Rise has changes my view point! If you haven't read a graphic book, this would be a good place to start!

Highly recommended!

Stealing Athena: A Novel
Stealing Athena: A Novel
by Karen Essex
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 25.95
44 used & new from CDN$ 1.42

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating!, Jan. 28 2009
Stealing Athena is about two influential and custom defying women in history. Both caught between the conventions of their time and trying to help the men they loved.

At 21, newlywed, Mary, the countess of Elgin used her charm and influence with the Ottoman Empire to gain permission for her husband Elgin to deconstruct what was left of the Greek Parthenon and bring it's amazing sculptures back to England, during the Napoleonic wars.

Two millennia earlier, Aspasia, courtesan to Perikles and philosopher, used her charm and influence to get Athens to allow the building of the Parthenon and all of its amazing monuments.

The flow of the book going from one time and place to the other was weaved in perfect synchronization by Karen Essex. Her descriptions of both the construction and deconstruction of the Parthenon made me feeling like I was there, witnessing it for myself. Essex poet pose made me race through the pages, but not wanting the book to end.

This is historical fiction at its finest! Highly recommended!

Sweet Mandarin: The Courageous True Story of Three Generations of Chinese Women and Their Journey from East to West
Sweet Mandarin: The Courageous True Story of Three Generations of Chinese Women and Their Journey from East to West
by Helen Tse
Edition: Hardcover
24 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars True Historical Family Saga, Jan. 8 2009
When Cambridge educated lawyer Helen Tse decided to give up her career to go back to her roots and open up a Chinese restaurant with her two sisters, her elders thought she was nuts. Her grandmother and mother work hard so that Helen and her sister's could all get good educations and not have the worries and work that a restaurant owner has. Lily, her grandmother and Mabel, her mother should know, they both had owned restaurants.

Before deciding to open the restaurant, Helen decided to take a journey back in time to discover her family history. Her great grandfather had a soy sauce business in China. He moved his family from a poor country village to the hustle and bustle of city life in Hong Kong. Not long after he died and the family had to find a way to make survive. Lily, just a child herself takes a job as an amah for a British family. An amah takes care of children.

Lily eventually married and had children herself, but her husband left her. She continued as an amah while her mother took care of her children. She befriends the family she was working for and got an invitation to move with them to England. This invitation didn't include her children, so what was she to do? What would you do?

I won't tell you anymore due to the risk of spoilers.

When I first read the description of the book it intrigued me but at the same time had the potential to be saccharin sweet. This was not the case. This a true multi generational family saga that is not to be missed. It got off to a bit of a slow start but after a short while, Helen Tse had me turning the pages until the end. This is an inspiring story that is not syrupy sweet.

Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing
Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing
by Mignon Fogarty
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.18
37 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grammar Can Be Fun, Who Knew?, Dec 31 2008
This excellent book makes a wonderful reference book and is also fun to read cover to cover.

Do you ever wonder which you should use, E.G. or I.E.? I always thought they could be used interchangeably. Actually they can't. I.E. stands for "that is" or "in other words" while E.G. means "for example".

If you have any grammar questions but are afraid to ask, most likely you can find it in Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips. You can also look for tips on Mignon's website and she even has an open invitation for people to email her with questions.

I checked this book out from the library but I am going to purchase a copy to have on hand. This book is indispensable!

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