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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 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$ 9.99

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$ 21.77
29 used & new from CDN$ 11.36

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.

Emmy Nation: Undercover Suffragette (The Suffragette Nation Book 1)
Emmy Nation: Undercover Suffragette (The Suffragette Nation Book 1)
Price: CDN$ 1.40

5.0 out of 5 stars A thrilling and thought-provoking read, Feb. 17 2016
This historical fiction novel about an independant woman in 1913 London who inadvertently gets involved with the suffragist movement was the hidden gem in my reading year so far. I simply loved this novel with its strong yet vulnerable heroine and its subject of women’s rights. L. Davis Munro captured the exciting but dangerous struggle women endured to be heard and respected in the early 1900. With believable characters, a good plot and a stirring time in history, this novel was a thrilling and thought-provoking read.

Emmy Nation is a smart and determined woman. She manages to avoid an arranged marriage and begins working for the police force, typing reports. When she is asked to go undercover and spy on the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) she readily agrees since the increase in pay will satisfy her hunger pains and replace her hole-riddled boots. What Emmy was unprepared for was the effect the women and their movement would have on her and her conflicting feelings for the police officer Colin Thomas who watched her back as she spied.

Emmy experiences first-hand the prejudices and intolerances of society toward these women who are now using militant measures to get the government’s attention. I had heard of force-feedings of the women in jail who refused to eat as a protest but I did not know how utterly brutal, invasive and painful the process was. We feel for these women who fought at great cost so that all women could be respected. I devoured this novel as I raced to see how it would all end.

Although the book ends with a victorious scene, there are loose threads that strongly hint of a sequel. I am looking forward to seeing how Emmy continues in her suffragist activities and handles the compromised friendship with Colin. I can easily see this as a series for Emmy Nation is a spunky heroine worthy of the task.

Cancelled Vows (A Mac Faraday Mystery Book 11)
Cancelled Vows (A Mac Faraday Mystery Book 11)
Price: CDN$ 1.32

5.0 out of 5 stars Carr’s mysteries are fun, light-hearted reading filled with strong yet vulnerable characters, Feb. 9 2016
Cancelled Vows is the 11th book in the Mac Faraday Mystery series, and although I’ve only read one other book in this series, I can tell you that Lauren Carr’s books are stand-alone and are enjoyable even though one hasn’t read the previous books. And best of all, once you meet the cast of characters in her series (she has more than one) you just get hooked on her books!

In this installment Mac, who is the best man at his half-brother’s upcoming wedding, has the task of getting David to New York City so he can divorce the first wife he didn’t know he had. Yep! Carr knows how to infuse humor in her stories. What happens in NYC is adventurous as both brothers get embroiled in a murder they must solve.

What I like about Carr’s plots is that although the bad guys seem obvious, there is always much more than what we expect leading to plot twists and complex sub-plots that makes me wonder how she keeps it all straight because every loose thread is tied up by the end. This makes for a very satisfying ending.

Carr’s mysteries are fun, light-hearted reading filled with strong yet vulnerable characters. One of my favorite characters is Gnarly, the German Shepherd who used to belong to the US Army. His antics are hilarious and his skills in helping solve mysteries invaluable, of course.

If you’re looking for a break from a more dramatic novel, pick up one of Lauren Carr’s mysteries. After reading just a few, you’ll quickly become a fan. I know I am.

Celebrity and Entertainment Obsession: Understanding Our Addiction
Celebrity and Entertainment Obsession: Understanding Our Addiction
by Michael S. Levy
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 51.99
23 used & new from CDN$ 39.16

5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating look at the psychology behind the phenomenon of the 21st century's obsession with celebrities and entertainment, Jan. 28 2016
Having taken both psychology courses in the past and having worked in Social Services, I'm always interested in learning more about human behaviour. Psychologist Michael S. Levy has explored a relatively new field, that of our society's addiction to celebrities and entertainment. We all do it, and perhaps don't realize that we do. And in today's world with super easy access to the Internet 24/7, we and our children are even more vulnerable to this addiction.

Dr. Levy writes in the first person, sometimes mentioning his own personal experiences which makes this intelligent and well-written book a pleasure to read. It's not dry even though he does mention statistics and quotes from many studies and includes 40 page of notes and references in the back section of the book. The thorough index makes it easy to find information.

I was fascinated but not surprised by the information presented because I have researched how to help my kids not become so addicted to the entertainment scene. But what I did learn was why and how we are inclined to do certain things and how both our inherent nature and the social scene contribute to this. For example, we have a natural tendency towards voyeurism so even if we don't want to view something we are still drawn to it. Also we live an increasingly isolated existence and this coupled with boredom and loneliness will draw us toward this obsession with celebrities and their lives.

Essentially, as Dr. Levy states, "...we have come to rely on entertainment to feel good." Is it no wonder we are a depressed society? Entertainment has "capitalized on our humanness", Dr. Levy continues. As a mother, this book reinforced my vigilance towards what my children watch but has also made me more conscientious as to what I can do to keep my children actively engaged in society.

This book is an excellent resource and should be part of any curriculum in the studies of Psychology. I also think it's good reading for parents and social workers. Dr. Levy includes an epilogue summarizing his findings and this quote touched me:

In a world where celebrity equals talent, and where make-believe is called reality, it is most important to have real love, truth and stability in your life. - Bernie Brillstein

Indeed, how true.

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

Right or Almost Right: The Fine Line Between Phenomenal Success and Average Results in Network Marketing
Right or Almost Right: The Fine Line Between Phenomenal Success and Average Results in Network Marketing
Price: CDN$ 13.30

5.0 out of 5 stars A non-intimidating guide for those who really want to succeed at network marketing., Jan. 27 2016
If you are in involved in network marketing or are thinking of doing it, then I highly suggest you read John Haremza's book because as the title aptly states, it will teach you how to do it right. Written in the first person, Haremza, who rose from poverty and adversity to being a multi-millionare, speaks to his readers as if he were sharing the fundamentals of network marketing over coffee. Haremza simplifies the information, much like the For Dummies series, making this a non-intimidating guide for those who really want to succeed at network marketing.

The layout of the book makes it super easy to read, understand and remember the information. The book is filled with short chapters that include pictures, boxes with key concepts, inspiring quotes and question-and-answers, which I thought was brilliant because it gives confidence when dealing with objections. In any business, when one is confident in how they portray and handle questions from clients, it will help them make progress.

I didn't know quite what to expect from this book, but it certainly exceeded my expectations. Having just recently had the opportunity to get involved in network marketing, reading this book has opened my eyes considerably. Whether you are a newbie at network marketing or someone who has been doing it for awhile but has perhaps lost impetus or is doing it almost right, this book will give you all the tools to make it right and help you achieve the success you can with network marketing.

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

Adventurers Abroad: The New American Expat Generation
Adventurers Abroad: The New American Expat Generation
by Robert Nelson
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 18.10
9 used & new from CDN$ 8.27

5.0 out of 5 stars A book that helps you prepare mentally for the expat experience, Jan. 21 2016
I have always been attracted to different cultures and reading about people’s adventures in foreign lands. Five years ago my youngest sister became an expat, traveling the world for work and living in Dubai and then Switzerland. Every time she comes back for a visit, she always has such interesting tales to tell us.

As author Robert Nelson, a former expat, states in his book Adventurers Abroad: The New American Expat Generation, “Globalization, modern technology and transportation improvements have literally shrunk the world we live in, and those changes are reflected in the large and growing number of American expats.” Indeed, many, even those with children are moving to different countries in the search for a different lifestyle and cultural experience. I picked up this book wanting to learn more about this expat generation and it did two things for me. It made me want to travel more and it made me better understand the challenges and the benefits my sister is experiencing, many of which I recognized as I read the book.

Apart from some factual information about expats, the book is primarily made up of 14 personal stories of individuals who left the USA and became expats. These individuals vary in age, circumstance, work and family life. Each story helped me to understand the expat experience in different ways, and what better way than from those who are living it? The stories are real, honest and convey both the challenges and the love for the country these individuals have moved to. Many mention what they would have done differently in preparing for the move and others focus on the need to change your way of thinking.

Each experience is unique, yet there are similarities which makes us understand why expats feel a connection to other expats. The world and cultural experience no longer makes them feel on the same level as their peers in Americans because they now have a different mindset and they still feel like foreigners in their new country. It’s that in-between feeling that only another expat would understand.

If you are thinking of moving abroad, I highly recommend reading this book. It’s not a how-to book, but one that helps you prepare mentally for the expat experience. No matter what your situation, these stories will resonate with you, they will inspire you and they will appeal to the adventurous side of you. For more information on the expat life, I suggest you visit, Robert Nelson’s online guide for aspiring American expats.

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

At The Sharp End of Lightning (Oceanlight Book 1)
At The Sharp End of Lightning (Oceanlight Book 1)
Price: CDN$ 7.48

5.0 out of 5 stars A glossary at the end of the book is very useful to the reader to learn the various terms connected ..., Jan. 20 2016
At the Sharp End of Lightning is a fantasy / sci-fi novel that totally immerses the reader into its different worlds. It's not a novel with a lot of fast action but rather a first book in an epic series that builds its characters and its parallel worlds with such clarity and detail that it becomes a testament to this author's vast imagination. A glossary at the end of the book is very useful to the reader to learn the various terms connected to these imaginary worlds.

In Oceanlight, we follow Yalara, a winged Sea Sprite who is next in line to become the leader of her Seanest. She is wise and perceptive, flying as a Rider on her petrel bird as she scans the ocean for her lover but instead ends up finding her neighbouring sea village devastated by what seems to be a natural catastrophe. In Forestlight, there is Helia, a winged forest Sprite and former outcast who is given a dangerous assignment and who passes through the Thinness into the human realm on a mission. She has suffered great loss and she has a secret that is connected to the human world.

Finally, in 1977 North Wales, we meet Einion, an older teen haemophiliac who has suffered much because of his disability but whose resilient and calm personality is a result of it. He also discovers the Thinness and passes through worlds, and at one point he actually time travels. Being a fan of time travel stories, I loved this part of the story! The mystery surrounding his connection to the other realms only increases.

I loved both the fantasy worlds and the modern suburban world of England. In some ways the dual worlds of fantasy and reality reminded me of the move Avatar. The Sprites' connection to nature was strong just like the Na'vi people in Avatar, but that's where the similarities end. The author alternates between these three worlds through each chapter. Both settings are so vivid, immersive and so different that I felt like I was reading two different books!

The author builds slow suspense throughout the novel and as a reader I was always looking for clues to the connection between all three worlds. The ending left we wanting more because it did not resolve any of the plot threads. In other words, this book is not a stand-alone novel. It builds the worlds and the characters and the plot but there is no resolution. That is to come in Book Two. At least I'm hoping it does.

I am now so into this story, that I must read the second book. The author's ability to create depth in characters and their worlds is outstanding, making me yearn to read the next instalment. His experience as an oceanographer and scientist render the fantasy worlds believable and his characters so likeable, one cannot help but get attached to them. Highly recommended for all those who love intelligent fantasy novels with dual worlds.

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

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