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Myckyee "Myckyee" (Canada)

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The Watchers
The Watchers
by Jon Steele
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 22.80
33 used & new from CDN$ 2.92

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book!, May 29 2012
This review is from: The Watchers (Hardcover)
I have a short list of books that I love and always keep a copy of. It includes The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, Drood and The Black Hills, both written by Dan Simmons, and The Lord of the Rings. These books are characterized by great story-telling abilities by the author. They are not the kind of books (that shall remain nameless, the worst written by an author also with the first name of Dan) that have a cliff hanger at the end of a two page chapter. They are the sort that weave a story so cleverly and rich with story that it takes the reader into another world that is not soon forgotten, long after the characters names can't be recalled. The Watchers by Jon Steele is now on my list.

I loved this book from the first beautifully written and haunting chapter to the last heart-pounding one. Its exotic locale (Lausanne, Switzerland), its clever plot twists and turns and the revelation about two-thirds of the way in of what exactly is going on. Though it's a relatively large book at more than 570 pages, I devoured it in just a few days.

I was besotted with Jay Harper, one of the main characters. I think it was his sense of humor (that gets me every time) and his sure-fire way of seeing through to the heart of any matter. His relentless pursuit of the bad guys didn't hurt either. Another main character, Marc Rochat, tugged at my heart and I cheered for him the whole book through. This book isn't for the faint-at-heart, however. There are a few scenes that are difficult to read so if you don't like to read anything violent, I suggest you skim those few short paragraphs and keep reading - it's worth it!

It was a happy surprise to discover that The Watchers is just the first book in a new trilogy. It's definitely a must-read for the literary thriller crowd and just about anyone who enjoys great writing and a fabulous story.

Blue Monday: A Novel
Blue Monday: A Novel
by Nicci French
Edition: Hardcover
32 used & new from CDN$ 0.93

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent thriller!!, March 11 2012
This review is from: Blue Monday: A Novel (Hardcover)
If I belonged to a mystery/thriller book club, Blue Monday would be an excellent choice for the club read. There are so many things going on in this book that would lead to good discussions. Is such and such character really who they claim to be? What is the main character's real motivation? What is she hiding? There are so many questions and it would be fun to get other opinions, so I'll be reading other reviews aside from mine. I can't imagine however that I will read a bad review!

Blue Monday kept me awake until the wee hours on Sunday night and made me late for work (yes, I blame it on the book!) the next morning. Not because I slept in too late but because I picked it up again in the morning and just had to finish those last fifty pages!

The premise is an interesting one: a psychotherapist suspects one of her patients is involved in the disappearance of a young boy. What the therapist does with her suspicions leads the reader on an ever-deepening mystery about what exactly is going on. Meanwhile, the boy is still missing. There are lighter moments too in the form of a builder from the Ukraine. He conveys a humorously solemn feeling to the scenes he is in.

Blue Monday is a must-read for mystery and thriller fans and for those who haven't tried that genre yet. This book has just the right amount of creepiness. It's got what I call the 'chill' factor in spades: that feeling you get when you thought you knew what was going on but come to the slow realization that there was something else eerily creepy taking place right under your nose. This is an engrossing read and one I highly recommend.

The Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club's FavoriteBooks and Authors
The Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club's FavoriteBooks and Authors
by Judy Gelman
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.61
33 used & new from CDN$ 4.85

5.0 out of 5 stars A very fun and useful book!, March 4 2012
I love cookbooks and obviously I love to read, so when the offer came to review The Book Club Cookbook, I jumped at it. What could be more fun than to have available some of the recipes from the most popular book club books? And if it's your turn to host your book club, well, this book will make choosing a dish so much easier.

This book covers some of my favourite novels: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (Lisa See), The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows), and The Help (Kathryn Stockett) as well as some I have yet to read but are on the top of my towering TBR list: Cutting for Stone (Abraham Verghese) and Water for Elephants (Sara Gruen). Actually, the list of books on my own TBR list overlaps quite a bit with the books featured in this cookbook. Each novel's recipe is preceded by a description of the source book and some are followed by an explanation of the food, thoughts from the author and/or a book club's take on the book itself and why they chose a particular food for their club.

So far I've made two recipes (I'm planning another this weekend). Both are cookies ' Chewy Oatmeal from the book Plainsong by Kent Haruf and Chocolate Chip Shortbread from Bee Season by Myla Goldberg. Both turned out great and were gobbled up by my family in no time. It doesn't just have cookies or sweets ' there are savory dishes as well. There is Zaytoon's Chicken Shwarma from Jonathan Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn, Britta's Crab Casserole from The Hours by Michael Cunningham, Greek Rice Pudding and Tzatziki from Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. There are drinks in here too: Glögg from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as well as soups and salads. An ambitious book club could have an entire meal with several courses if they didn't mind mixing their books!

Another great thing about this book club cookbook is that the featured novels range from contemporary to classic, so that a club is bound to find something of interest. I could see using this book for future club choice ideas as well. It would also make a great gift for an avid reader, book club member or not. I highly recommend it!

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks
The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks
by Kathleen Flinn
Edition: Hardcover
19 used & new from CDN$ 12.64

5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read for both foodies and non-foodies!, Oct. 12 2011
I'm a closet foodie and I love to cook and bake, but after working all day I don't have the energy. After reading this book I realized I'm far from alone.

For The Kitchen Counter Cooking School project, author Kathleen Flinn recruited nine volunteers who needed help. Each had something that needed improvement - they were cooking unhealthy food, buying take-out and resorting to what they thought would be the fastest and most convenient method of food preparation. All the volunteers were women and I could relate to all of them to some degree.

At the start of the book, the author introduces each volunteer by describing a visit to their homes and in particular their kitchens. There were issues with outdated food, too much food as well as content. Food labels were looked at, cooking methods discussed and even storage issues confronted. Each woman was surprised when a spotlight was pointed at their fridge and cupboards. Sometimes it takes an outsider to say, yep, storing 15 boxes of pre-made pasta dinners at this cost doesn't make sense when you can make something yourself for a fraction of the price, is much healthier and doesn't take nearly as much time as you'd think if you know what you're doing. The author rented a kitchen and once a week the volunteers learned how to do exactly that.

The book is divided into parts and each describes a food product or group and how best to prepare it. The volunteers were given the tools and instructions and were encouraged to experiment. Their delight in discovering that they could produce healthy and attractive dishes was evident. I like how the self-esteem of a person can be raised just by learning a method of cooking they previously thought had been impossible to master. At the end of the book, I enjoyed seeing how each volunteer benefited from what they'd learned during the lessons.

Each chapter ends with the recipes that are taught in the class. I found the chapter on meat to be especially instructive and after reading about how many hormones and antibiotics are fed to livestock, I want to learn how to cook more vegetarian dishes!

People may dislike cooking or simply don't cook for various reasons. Perhaps they were never taught properly, or as children they were shooed out of the kitchen. Maybe their spouses like doing it more than themselves. Whatever the reason, I recommend this book. It shows how anyone can learn to prepare nutritious and cost-effective meals even if they've always thought the task a daunting one. The recipes are simple and fast and there's something for everyone in The Kitchen Counter Cooking School.

Rules of Civility: A Novel
Rules of Civility: A Novel
by Amor Towles
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 19.44
82 used & new from CDN$ 0.26

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Put this on your must-read list!, July 28 2011
I don't read a lot of ebooks - I'm very much a paperback reader. With ebooks I lose some sense of where I am in a book by not being able to look at it physically. I find it easier to flip back to find some plot point that I want to check or the context in which a character first appeared. So, when I was offered a chance to review Rules of Civility by Amor Towles in an ebook format, I hesitated. But drawn in by the book's description on the author's website I took a chance. I am so glad I did. Despite the format, I adored this book!

The setting is Manhattan in the late 1930's. The threat of the Second World War is in the distant future and life, for the most part, is good. The reader sees what New York City was like during that era through the eyes of a young woman surviving quite well on her own in that large metropolis. The author did a fantastic job describing the culture of the young and carefree in an exciting city - so much so that the city takes on a character all of its own. Cocktails, bars, apartments, neighbourhoods and iconic buildings all figure prominently in this book. If you love the romance and cultural aura of New York City, you'll find plenty of it here.

I really liked the protagonist, Kate Kontent. She-s a well-written character - smart, sassy, independent and with a good dose of subtle humour thrown in. She's isn't perfect; I picked up hints of envy in some situations and loneliness in others. It's not that much was said, but rather shown (which I think is one of the trickiest talents a writer can develop and Amor Towles has it in spades). But Kate isn't a wallflower; she acts on her instincts so that when she isn't happy about something she takes steps to change it. And this is one of the reasons why the story moved along quickly and flowed so well. Dialogue between Kate and her contemporaries was also well done.

I also really liked the portrayal of women in this era. It seems that women in the 1930's are much further along in society than their later counterparts. The freedom of the earlier era was gone by the 1950's as the standard of a woman's worth was depicted with the iconic house dress-wearing female staying home and having babies. But perhaps that was the sign of prosperity. In any case, this freedom surprised me too - I've always assumed that any era before the 1950's had to be a worse one for women in general, but I didn't pick that up from this novel at all.

I loved this book because I like NYC and I found the 1930's era so interesting to read about. But to enjoy Rules of Civility you don't have to like those things too because it offers so much more. This book is a well-written, well-rounded great story from an author that I'll be putting on my must-read list for future books.

City in Shadow
City in Shadow
by Evan Marshall
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 27.81
23 used & new from CDN$ 0.29

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars New York noir mystery thriller, Dec 14 2010
This review is from: City in Shadow (Hardcover)
I love New York! I know that sounds like the oft-run ad from awhile ago, but I can't help it - it's the truth. And books that are set in and around that city naturally catch my attention. So it was with City in Shadow by Evan Marshall, a novel that is part of the Hidden Mysteries series. This is the first book that I've read by this author and I don't believe it's necessary to read the other books in the series first to be able to enjoy this one.

The story begins with Anna Winthrop, a sanitation department worker, witnessing what she thinks may be a woman being held against her will. Anna follows the trail of this woman to a mysterious building on 42nd Street. Meanwhile, Anna's upstairs neighbour, Nettie, also sees the young woman and starts her own investigation. Both women encounter plenty of obstacles, sinister characters and danger in their quest to find out the truth.

This novel had several elements to it that stood out. First, it was written a bit like a noir thriller/hard-boiled detective novel. That genre pairs well with the New York setting (as does the plot) but the book also had a cozy mystery feel to it. The characters' backgrounds were divulged, neighbours got to know neighbours (even if they were bad neighbours) and the way the characters zipped around the city and bumped into people just gave me a 'small town' sort of feeling. It was an interesting mix and I liked it.

I found the writing somewhat choppy at times and it could've used a bit more editing. I didn't always need to know how beautiful or handsome someone was and I felt those descriptions were somewhat clichéd.

Despite those flaws, I think this would be a great series for those who haven't read a mystery before. It would also be very appealing for young adults new to the genre. And of course anyone who loves books set in New York!

City of Tranquil Light: A Novel
City of Tranquil Light: A Novel
by Bo Caldwell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 22.40
48 used & new from CDN$ 0.18

5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Story!, Nov. 18 2010
Though I'm not a very religious person I don't shy away from books that have a religious theme as long as the author discloses it openly from the start. What I don't like is when the topic broadsides you; the author slipping in the religion like one of those proselytizers that catch you unawares by starting a conversation and you slowly realize that they're making more and more references to a higher being. Ah, I think, I'm being witnessed to and I just thought I was having a pleasant chat with someone. I end up feeling duped. The City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell is a book with religion as a central theme but the reader knows it right away. And it in no way takes anything away from a very beautiful story.

Elderly Will Kiehn looks back on his life and recounts his time as a missionary in China along with his wife, Katherine. As missionaries, preaching is not the only work they do; practicing medicine, feeding, housing and teaching are all tasks that they set for themselves. They share much joy, but also anguish and sometimes great fear. Based on the lives of the author's grandparents, this book is a wonderful tribute to an otherwise forgotten group. We don't have missionaries like these anymore: with little funding or support from home they managed to thrive.

This was the right time for me to read this book. I've been reading some YA fiction, science fiction and other general 'light' fiction since those genres were what I've been in the mood for lately. Only when I started reading The City of Tranquil Light did I realize how much I've missed more serious fiction. The story, alternating between Will's narrative and Katherine's journals, is smoothly written. The characters leap off the pages and I was so swept up in the action I found it hard to put down. There were a number of times I found myself relating to Katherine as in this passage from page 146:

At times my fear overwhelms me. Last night I woke in the dark and the panic seemed unbearable. All sorts of horrible possibilities presented themselves in my mind, fantasies that I would not entertain in the daytime but that took hold of me in the dark of our bedroom and seemed completely real.

The author treats the Chinese culture with honesty and respect and I could easily picture the images that were conveyed. The only issue I had with this book was that there were no maps. I think it may have been helpful had there been two, one showing the travel route that took them from America to China and perhaps an inset of the regions in China that the characters traveled, and a second map of the city, (Kuang P'ing Ch'eng) they lived in for so many years. I highly recommend this book, especially if you enjoyed Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie or The Blue Notebook by James A. Levine.

Crescendo
Crescendo
by Becca Fitzpatrick
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 16.05
57 used & new from CDN$ 0.82

5.0 out of 5 stars An awesome read!, Nov. 7 2010
This review is from: Crescendo (Hardcover)
I was so pleased to be asked to review Crescendo! I've been hearing how good the first book in the series is and have been wanting to read it for awhile so the offer of Crescendo was all the incentive I needed to read Hush, Hush. I wasn't disappointed by either book.

Crescendo picks up where Hush, Hush leaves off. Nora Grey, a plucky but mature teenager (I would have said she is older than sixteen!) finds herself in the midst of danger once again. Nora has the kind of personality that any mother would be proud to have. Occasionally she makes wrong choices (what teenager doesn't?) but overall she's a good kid. Other characters we met in Hush Hush reappear in Crescendo and didn't fail to raise some sort of feeling in me. One high school girl, Marcie Millar, is the perfect antagonist; full of venom, she reminds me of several students I knew when I was in school.

Another big plus with Crescendo (as well as Hush, Hush) are the settings. Dark roads, deserted towns, foggy fields and empty houses all take on a life of their own and give Crescendo depth and atmosphere. I particularly loved that aspect of this book.

The author has a definite knack for creating tension between characters and within plots. The chemistry between the main characters sizzles. I wanted them to be together! I won't say what happens but I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and highly recommend it to all fans of fantasy. And even if you aren't a fan - give this book a try - you may just become one.

Regression
Regression
by Kathy Lynn Bell
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 21.58
14 used & new from CDN$ 5.10

4.0 out of 5 stars Non-stop action!, Nov. 7 2010
This review is from: Regression (Paperback)
In this first book of the Infinion series, Adya Jordan, a forty year old woman and the mother of six children, wakes from a coma to find herself in her former fourteen year old body, her husband and children a far-off memory. She discovers to her dismay that she is in a different `timeline' and woke from an accident that she has no memory of. No one around her is aware of her regression except for the elite from the mysterious Three Eleven Corporation.

I was immediately taken with this novel when I read the blurb for it. This is the sort of science fiction that appeals to me. Part of that appeal stems from the `what if' factor. There are all sorts of questions that can't be answered, but are fun to ask anyway: What if I'd been born earlier than the year I was born in? Later? What if my parents hadn't met the day they had? Would they have gotten to know each other if they'd met another day? What if I hadn't gone to the same school as my husband? I might have met him regardless since I already knew him slightly through a mutual friend. Regression asks all of those questions plus many others I've never thought of before. The plot of this novel starts almost at the first page and the action doesn't stop. I enjoyed how the Three Eleven Company is portrayed almost as a living, breathing character and has a sinister, foreboding feeling to it. The author did a great job drawing the reader into the atmosphere of Three Eleven.

Adya is a very likeable main character. I think part of her attraction is that she does not make poor choices or (for the most part and in my opinion!) does not exercise unusually bad judgment. Nothing ruins a book for me more than a character who continually frustrates! So, despite looking like a fourteen-year-old, Adya displays the life experience and maturity of an older woman. I kept that image in my head while reading and found it an interesting perspective. She deals with all sorts of new situations and people - but what stuck out the most was the patriarchal and condescending nature of the big corporation.

The plot, action and characters of this novel do not disappoint. However, I think that the book could have used more editing. For a finished book there were a few typos that should have been corrected. Other than that, I really enjoyed this novel and plan on reading the next book in the series, Evolussion. Anyone who enjoyed reading Replay by Ken Grimwood or The Children of Men by P. D. James would also enjoy Regression.

Running Around (and such): A novel based on true experiences from an Amish writer!
Running Around (and such): A novel based on true experiences from an Amish writer!
by Linda Byler
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.63
46 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Amish coming of age story, Sept. 23 2010
This was the first time I've read an Amish book and I wasn't sure what to expect. I was surprised to find that except for scattered cultural references the story follows much the same path as any other book of its genre - that being a coming of age story of an adolescent girl.

Lizzie is fifteen and filled with all the same sorts of feelings any teenager would have, but added to that she's rebellious and willful - something that by definition goes against the Amish belief system. She runs into trouble with family and friends and it's usually of her own (however unintended) making. Some of the situations she gets into are funny and some not so much. But it is usually caused by Lizzie's belief that she is somehow not as loved as her older sister. I found the feeling expressed by this character to be pretty honest and insightful. What I didn't expect was this girl's food issues. Her mother was always making something sweet and rich and while her sisters showed constraint, Lizzie was usually eating too much of it. Food disorders are a serious problem and I don't feel I know enough about them to give an educated opinion about the presentation of this characters problems with food, but I had a gut reaction that her mother did not deal with it in the best possible way. Not sure though. Lizzie's self-image is that she is overweight and not very pretty. I thought it a bit odd that on the cover of the book there is a picture of a very pretty and slim-looking girl with a wide smile. I'm assuming that's Lizzie at a happy and self-confident moment!

Linda Byler has a simple, to-the-point writing style. In each chapter there is a flashback to a related current and in this way the reader is taken through the character's growing pains. I found the Amish lifestyle interesting (so very far removed from my own) and found the glossary at the back of the book useful. I think this would be a good book for any one who enjoys the coming-of-age genre and is tired of those that are the profane, serious mental health issue type books.

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