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Content by Laura Fabiani
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Reviews Written by
Laura Fabiani (Montreal)
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   

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The CleanSweep Conspiracy
The CleanSweep Conspiracy
Price: CDN$ 1.28

4.0 out of 5 stars A fast-paced thriller, July 12 2016
A fast-paced thriller, Chuck Waldron's The CleanSweep Conspiracy will have you questioning how dictatorship mentality can easily infiltrate the thinking of powerful men and government officials. I was drawn to this book first by its cover that sets the tone for a digital world that can, not only trace anyone's personal identity, but invade it too. And next, by the fact that the main character, Matt Tremain, is a blogger who discovers a conspiracy, looks into it and find himself hunted so that he is running and hiding for his life.

What I liked the most is that Matt Tremain is an ordinary guy, an amateur journalist who stumbles upon a startling discovery. He doesn't have any heroic inclinations but his curiosity pulls him to find out the truth and to finally do something about it. He's scared and doesn't know who to trust, but he follows his instincts and knows when things are not right. He's very human as are all the supporting character who, despite their flaws, band together to do what is right. These are characters a reader can relate to.

Waldron has a way of introducing each character so that in a few pages the reader gets a good picture of him/her. So although there is a lot of action, the many characters are not skimmed over. They are not forgettable, even if they play a minor role. Each is distinct with their own voice. There was one scene when Mattie a homeless woman was telling her story that touched me deeply.

Conspiracy theories make for great plotlines because they pull at a reader's inherent curiosity as to what an organisation or government will keep top secret from its own people, and the author pulls this one off very well. I was sucked into the story from the first page. Although the explored theme of genocide is heavy, the story has a feel-good ending that leaves room for a sequel or a series if the author wishes it.

Exciting, suspenseful and well-written, fans of suspense thrillers and conspiracy theories are sure to like this one.

DATE LIKE A girl MARRY LIKE A woman: The Polished Woman's Guide to Love, Romance, and Sex
DATE LIKE A girl MARRY LIKE A woman: The Polished Woman's Guide to Love, Romance, and Sex
by Jessica R Bunevacz
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 22.75
6 used & new from CDN$ 14.52

3.0 out of 5 stars Part memoir and part self-help, July 12 2016
Okay, I'll admit it. I read this book mainly out of curiosity when it landed on my desk for promotion. I've been married for 24 years and don't need a guide on love or I wouldn't be happily married for so long. The author, who is now happily married for 15 years and the mother of 3 children, has had a lot of experience dating, calling herself a MANizer. While I don't agree with all the advice in this book, I did get insight into the psychology of relationships in the dating part of this book.

The author is brutally honest about her past mistakes and conquests and it's clear that her advice is for the happiness and protection of women. Her advice empowers women, especially women who lack self-esteem and confidence and get themselves in destructive relationships. Bunevacz states, "No gift in the world is worth your dignity or self-respect." I liked her message of empowerment for women.

Part memoir and part self-help, the book is divided into two parts with the first part focused on rules for dating and the second rules for a successful marriage. The author explains the rules and gives her advice on how to apply them. The format allows for easy reading and the reader can decide what they wish to apply or not. Her description of the different types of men was comical because we all know of such types, making me happy I'm married and no longer need to date! However, as a Christian, my view of dating is very different from the author's so while I appreciated rules such as "Never date a married man." there were others I disagreed with.

When it came to the rules on marriage I was pleasantly surprised that the author nailed many of them right. Most of her advice is sound and makes sense because, whether she knows it or not, they are actually Bible-based. Newly-weds may not get some of these rules but the longer you're married the more they apply. For example, the author states not to deprive one's mate of sexual relations (1 Cor 7:3-5), to respect your husband (Eph 5:33), not to nag (Judges 16:16) not to gossip about your mate (Prov 12:18), to keep the lines of communication open (Eph 4:26-27), not to spend too much time away from each other, for a woman to take care of herself (I wholeheartedly agree) and to keep passion and playfulness in your lovemaking (Prov 5: 18-20).

I do think that sex is important in showing your husband how much you love him, but I disagree with some of the explicit sex advice in this book and the crude terminology used to express it. Such things can demean the sanctity of marriage. I admired the author, however, for fiercely protecting her marriage, recognizing her faults and putting the effort to make it work, which is in line with the principle outlined in 1 Cor 7:10-11.

Overall, this book is about how a woman can learn to respect herself and how valuable her efforts are in making her marriage work. Barring the acceptance of pre-marital sex and the sex advice that could have been given in a more polished manner, the author does succeed in dispensing some valuable principles that if applied in marriage can lead to success and happiness.

Note: I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

Like a River from Its Course
Like a River from Its Course
by Kelli Stuart
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 21.25
6 used & new from CDN$ 11.88

5.0 out of 5 stars Heartrendingly beautiful in its portrayal of family and kindness, July 12 2016
Like a River from Its Course is simply unforgettable, a journey through the lives of four individuals and their families touched irrevocably by WWII in Ukraine. As I sit here contemplating what to write in my review, I think how can my words do this book justice? How can it relate the vast array of emotions I felt reading it? I was both deeply touched and horrified by the events that the characters experienced. I cried and had to put the book down on several occasions, but I also rejoiced at the bravery and love displayed at a time of fear and depravity.

Every page in this book had me riveted. There was never a dull moment. Stuart has written a tour de force, easily pulling me into the world of these characters who have experienced circumstances and horrors, made more powerful by the knowledge that the author had meticulously researched them through the real-life accounts of Ukrainians who've lived them.

The story is told through the point of view of four characters, one of which is the son of one of the top Nazi leaders. I think this is what I loved the most about this novel. It showed all sides of the war, from the Ukrainians to the Germans. Truly, there is evil and goodness on both sides and what stands out is the integrity of each human, no matter their nationality. The stories are brutally honest and as a reader I was invested in all of them.

I've read many books on the Holocaust, and I like the ones that tell the unknown stories. I'm amazed that this is Stuart's first novel. Her characters are compelling, the setting vivid and the plot well executed. All the character had distinct voices and I thought it brilliant how we get to see the war through the eyes of very different individuals, from young Maria to idealistic Frederick.

Without a doubt, this book has made it on my list of Best Reads for 2016. It is powerful, riveting and compelling. It is heartrendingly beautiful in its portrayal of family and kindness. It is a book I will talk about for a long time, recommending it to my friends and book lovers. This one is definitely a must-read and I hope it gets the recognition it deserves!

Note: I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Ringmaster's Wife
The Ringmaster's Wife
Offered by HarperCollins Canada Limited
Price: CDN$ 9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good historical fiction for those who love the jazz age and the Big Top, July 6 2016
This is the third book I read by Kristy Cambron, and like her previous books, Cambron has the skill to transport her readers into her characters' lives and into a bygone era. This time it's the 1920s colorful circus life. She truly brought to life the Greatest Show on Earth! I remember as a child being captivated by the circus. We used to watch famous performers from all over the world on TV as they performed such daring acts. Cambron easily recreates this world and I was enthralled as soon as I began reading.

This is essentially the story of two couples, one fictional (Rosamund and Colin) and the other historical (Mable and John Ringling). I was intrigued and did research on the Internet to learn more about the historical people she includes in the novel. What a fascinating life the Ringlings led! Cambron captures it well.

Rosamund is a strong female character who chooses to lead an independent life in an era when there was much change but where society still dictated what a woman's position ought to be. There were times when I wanted a deeper understanding of how she adapted to the circus life, though. She was an earl's daughter from England, after all, who left her family and friends and was now living a nomadic life in America. I would have liked more character development rather than some scenes which I thought were fillers to accommodate historical events.

Also, I guessed Rosamund's tragedy from the prologue and it kind of spoiled it for me. I did not feel the heartbreak in this novel as much as I did with Cambron's other ones, perhaps because, once again, there was not enough about how this tragedy affected her life. The circus life was glorified above the extremely difficult struggles performers experienced living it.

Overall, though, this novel captivated me. The jazz age and the Big Top were America's glittering entertainment and both are romanticised and captured in The Ringmaster's Wife. This was a very enjoyable book and I would heartily recommend it to lovers of historical fiction, especially those who love the 1920s.

Reaching Angelica: Book #2 in the Tag Series
Reaching Angelica: Book #2 in the Tag Series
Price: CDN$ 9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Part Star Trek and part The Matrix in its pan-dimension concepts, June 4 2016
Last year I read The Path, the first book in the Tag series and I enjoyed it. You can read my review here. Reaching Angelica is the second book and once again I was pulled into some mind-bending concepts. This time though, the story doesn't take place at all on Earth but rather in a massive spaceship. A spaceship that includes a genesis crew heading on a 100-year journey to reach Angelica, a planet where they can start over.

Part Star Trek and part The Matrix in its pan-dimension concepts, the reader is once again immersed in Simon Banks's life. As in The Path, Simon is a brilliant man who narrates his story beginning with a summary of the events that ended in The Path and the preparation for his body's death and the re-awakening in a new body. When he does reawaken, 100 years have passed and he soon discovers there are super beings out there who want to annihilate life on Earth.

Once again, a lot of the book included heavy tech jargon that mostly went over my head. Although I was still able to follow the story and appreciate the concepts the author was exploring, I did find that the story lagged in the middle and I was itching for more action. The whole philosophical introspection and questioning of why are we here, the purpose of life and God comes into play and is examined with the conclusion that, of course, there is no God. While I took all this with a grain of salt in The Path, I didn't care for it in this book.

However, as in The Path, the author intersperses these serious themes with a good dose of dry humour and self-deprecating narrative so that once again, I really liked Simon. He is truly a nice guy. I also liked Zip, the telepathic dog and the way the crew worked together, although some conflict among the crew would have enhanced the plot. The author’s imagination is, as I've stated before, overwhelmingly brilliant and I’m sure classic sci-fi fans would appreciate this story. Furthermore, it's a really clean read. No profanity, sex or violence.

The story ended on a positive note and the series could easily stop here or be continued. We'll just have to see where the author's imagination will take us next.

Disclosure: I received this copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Beautiful Pretender
The Beautiful Pretender
by Melanie Dickerson
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.67
27 used & new from CDN$ 9.98

3.0 out of 5 stars a sweet romance with action, secrets and treachery tailored to lovers of medieval historical fiction, June 4 2016
This is the second book I read by Melanie Dickerson and I like that her historical fiction novels are clean and are the perfect escapism books for a light romantic read. Dickerson's writing flows well with a steady pace and a good plotline, although I did find this one predictable. Her characters are well-drawn out, flawed and conflicted. Avelina was a good main character, and I appreciated her humbleness as well as her courageous spirit.

Reinhart, the Margrave of Thornbeck, has to find a bride but he is grumpy and not thrilled with this prospect. I had a hard time warming up to him as he didn't say much for the first half of the book except to grunt and growl. No witty repartee between him and Avelina. It's only in the second half of the book that we get his perspective on things, and he is much more vocal. I also thought he was a little too passive and clueless for a margrave (medieval title for the military commander) when it came to the cunning Fronicka and her scheming father the Duke of Geitbart. Avelina was doing all the planning and rescuing!

However, I enjoyed the story as it had the message of treating others with respect no matter their station in life and standing up for oneself. Overall, this was a sweet romance with action, secrets and treachery tailored to lovers of medieval historical fiction.

The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder (Herringford and Watts Mysteries Book 1)
The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder (Herringford and Watts Mysteries Book 1)
Price: CDN$ 2.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you are a fan of cozy mysteries à la Sherlock Holmes, then you will love this book, May 1 2016
What a delightful book this was! Author Rachel McMillan succeeded in creating the female versions of Sherlock and Watson in Merinda and Jem, best friends who shun convention and take up sleuthing instead.

Although this book was a light and fun read, it was witty, comical, and romantic, too. I loved the Canadian historical setting and appreciated the author shedding light on some of the prejudices against single women and immigrants in Toronto at the turn of the 20th century.

Both Merinda and Jem are strong female characters and they want a different life other than the one they are expected to live. In their detective adventures, they pair up with two men who can appreciate their intelligence even as they admire their femininity. I cracked up during the scene when Jem first meets Ray DeLuca, an Italian immigrant. She is disguised as a man and things don't quite work out the way they were supposed to.

If you are a fan of cozy mysteries à la Sherlock Holmes, then you will love this book. Merinda is quirky, impulsive and smart, while Jem is sensible, romantic and courageous. They make a great duo as they don men's clothing, advocate women's rights and get into dangerous situations.

This is the first book in what promises to be a series with the second book titled A Lesson in Love and Murder slated to be released Sept 1, 2016. There are also two e-novellas which I plan on purchasing. I am now a fan of McMillan and her Herringford and Watts Mysteries.

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Uneven Exchange
Uneven Exchange
Price: CDN$ 5.22

3.0 out of 5 stars ... is an entertaining light-hearted book about a woman's unrequited love and her adventure when she gets recruited on a ..., April 10 2016
This review is from: Uneven Exchange (Kindle Edition)
Uneven Exchange is an entertaining light-hearted book about a woman's unrequited love and her adventure when she gets recruited on a mission in Mexico to catch a drug lord named Santiago. Alexandra Callet is a feisty beautiful woman who happens to look exactly like Daniela, the sister of Santiago, a criminal who is elusive and dangerous. Alexandra, who is an interior designer, discovers she has some hidden talents when she is trained in the art of going undercover to impersonate Daniela so as to get inside Santiago's secured hacienda.

Needing an adventure in her life, Alexandra accepts to take on the mission feeling that this is the right thing to do. She is a spiritual woman who believes God guides her in life. I enjoyed the whole training with the DEA office and their agents. The whole mission with its cover-ups, spy equipment, and secret agents added a good element of suspense and excitement to the story. This, coupled with humor interspersed throughout, made this a fun read.

The book is marketed as a romance but there was not enough of it for me. Alexandra is in love with Jake but we don't get to know him much. Most of the story takes place without him as she prepares for her mission and then her undercover role and adventure in Mexico. Alexandra is a well-developed character as are some of the other secondary characters but Jake is in the background most of the time. I felt some scenes with excessive dialogue of secondary characters did not propel the plot forward and could have been eliminated in favor of more scenes with Alexandra and Jake.

I like romance mystery novels and I think that S.K. Derban's writing promises some good reading in her future titles.

Note: I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

by Kimberley Griffiths Little
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 21.76
24 used & new from CDN$ 7.01

5.0 out of 5 stars I was swept away with this novel, March 7 2016
This review is from: Banished (Hardcover)
Yes, Forbidden left me breathless. It was one of those books that took me away and made me experience all kinds of emotions. Set in the ancient Mesopotamian desert, it contains a plot full of intrigue, romance, danger, adventure and a shocking cliffhanger ending. I was, therefore, waiting all year for its sequel Banished. Once I got my hands on Banished, I hesitated to start reading it. Would it be as good as the first one?

Well Kimberley Griffiths Little did it again. She deftly swept me away once more into Jayden's world. Into that unforgiving hot desert, with the discovery of love once again and the enemy in close pursuit. Horeb, Jayden's former betrothed, will not give up until he gets what he wants. He is vengeful and has accumulated power and will stop at nothing to pursue his lust for more power. Jayden is his key to that power and he will use her to his advantage before killing her.

Jayden is such a real character, a young woman dealing with the loss of her family, tribe and position. She pursues what is right and uses her courage to protect and rescue those she loves, even at great cost to herself. She is selfless and vulnerable, beautiful and strong, smart and feisty. She escapes and there is the hope of better things ahead even with Horeb nipping at her heels as she flees.

The reader easily feels her emotions and we mourn and rejoice with her throughout. The author truly captures desert life and the powerful intrigue of the pagan gods worshipped in those days. Having studied the Bible for 25 years, I picked up all kinds of references to the life of those who lived in the Mesopotamian lands that much of it seemed familiar to me. The author also made many references to key scenes from the first book so that it easily came to mind and I can see how some will continue in the third book.

Once again, we experience various plot twists and just when you think things are going well, danger spills forth and we are cast again into gut-wrenching scenes. As in the first book, the ending is another cliffhanger preparing us for the final installment when Jayden and Kadesh's story will climax. I groaned as I turned the last page thinking that I have to wait another year before I can once again delve into this world so different from mine, so full of memorable characters and exotic places.

If you're a fan of YA and historical fiction that has a great cast of characters and plenty of action, romance and adventure, then this is the perfect book in which to escape. This book made it on my Best Books of 2016 list. I highly recommend reading Forbidden first and then Banished. And I cannot wait to read the final book that will bring it all to an amazing conclusion, no doubt.

Disclosure: Thanks to the publisher for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

In Another Life
In Another Life
Price: CDN$ 9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars She also falls in love with Raoul, March 4 2016
This review is from: In Another Life (Kindle Edition)
In Another Life is a well-written, atmospheric novel that takes you into Southern France both in modern day and during the medieval era. Lia Carrer is a historian who has studied the Cathar history and beliefs which include reincarnation. When she returns to Languedoc in France, where she had previously lived and where her husband Gabriel died in an accident during his bike race eighteen months previous, she must come to terms with where her life is heading.

Lia meets up with her close friends and begins the healing process. She also falls in love with Raoul, meets Lucas, a brooding photographer who enlists her help as he is creating a book on the Cathar history, and reunites with Jordi, a priest who shares her love of Cathar history. Unbeknownst to Lia, the three are connected and entangled in the history of 1208 when the Pope sanctified a crusade to exterminate the Cathars.

In Another Life reminded me of Susanne Kearsley's books, which I've enjoyed tremendously. Julie Christine Johnson deftly transported me to Southern France with her lush descriptions and keen eye for details. I enjoyed learning about a time in history I knew little about. I also enjoyed the mystery of those who came from another life because I am a fan of time travel, but in this case it was clearly reincarnation, which has less appeal for me. I liked Lia and felt for her struggles and I loved her relationship with her close friends.

I must admit I had mixed feelings about her relationship with Raoul and the way the story ended. Her relationship didn't seem real to me and I didn't see how they fell in love. There was a lack of passion that was present, which ultimately made sense seeing he had this in his former life. I can't say more without revealing the plot so I'll stop there, but this book felt somewhat anticlimactic to me. Too many loose plot threads too. I was left with a slew of questions at the end.

Apart from this, I truly did enjoy this novel. I loved the author's writing style and the way she built the aura of mystery. I liked how she easily portrayed family life in Europe and the struggles of a mourning young widow. These were strong points that resonated with me and that appealed to me. Fans of Susanna Kearsley will surely enjoy this debut novel. I certainly look forward to reading more from this promising author.

Content: There is profanity - 2 f-words - one explicit sex scene, some violence in the form of sword fighting
Note: I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

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