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Reviews Written by
Barbara "Nature Lover" (Ontario, Canada)
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

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Buzz
Buzz
by Eileen Spinelli
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 22.76
31 used & new from CDN$ 13.30

5.0 out of 5 stars I LOVE this book!, Nov. 18 2010
This review is from: Buzz (Hardcover)
Just look at that bee's face on the cover. This book is wonderful. There's a real story inside: Our worker bee loves to fly and she visits with other creatures. Then she reads a newspaper article about a scientific study. It says bees can't fly. Uh-oh! I won't say more or it'll give away the story but it's great and suspenseful writing.

The illustrations are fantastic - the bee face is very compelling. I'm a beekeeper so I must report how grateful I am that the illustrations don't show the bee's stinger sticking out all the time. (Their stingers are only out if they're going to sting).

Also, thanks to the author too, for having the bee heroine be female. Since the workers are female it's nice to see some accuracy.

I highly recommend this book. Children will love reading this book or better yet having it read to them.

Morning is a Long Time Coming
Morning is a Long Time Coming
by Bette Greene
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
23 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed, Nov. 4 2010
I very much enjoyed the first book, Summer of my German Soldier so I couldn't wait to read the sequel. But I was so disappointed. I do not recommend this book

Considering the first book would be for middle graders, I found the content of this one to be too old. I wouldn't recommend it to young people--(warning small spoiler) sex with a guy she met that day. This book is written when the heroine is six years older but her humour, intelligence and maturity from the first book just don't exist once you reach the half-way point of the story.

Once she arrives in Europe the story degrades. I really struggled with suspending reality to believe because many parts didn't ring true for the character. Many important parts for the reader were left out such as the gold ring.

Warning that there are big spoilers from here on so if you don't want to know what happens don't read it.

I was very disappointed that at the end when she finally meets Anton's family she did not even tell them she had met Anton and about his last days alive. She just left their house, saying nothing. This pivatol scene could be encapsulated as Hello, Goodbye.

Then our heroine acts even more strangely and starts screaming at Germans back at the hotel about killing jews--this is completely out of character and no precepts were put in place to justify the behaviour--it was baffling to the reader.

By the end I wasn't on the protagonist's side and I quickly finished the book just to get it done.

The first part was well written and the last part was a jumbled rush, giving the impression the author wasn't given sufficient time to work on a better story.

Deadly Decisions
Deadly Decisions
by Kathy Reichs
Edition: Hardcover
48 used & new from CDN$ 0.61

3.0 out of 5 stars Good but some parts hard to believe, Sept. 29 2010
This review is from: Deadly Decisions (Hardcover)
Other reviews mention 9 pages of blood spatter detail. That didn't stand out as an issue for me. I particularly love the science and forensics so no complaints in that regard.

Plot though can make me frustrated, especially when a book is good.

In this novel Tempe is working with bones found on biker property. The case revolves around the bikers in Montreal.

The part about plot that I couldn't suspend my belief about was when she let her nephew Kit get involved with a reporter. First, if she hates reporters so much, why allow him into her home, especially when photos are sitting in the open. Then she shares details with Kit. That's confidential information and evidence. All I can think is how it breaks ALL the rules.

The next is letting Kit and the reporter hook up over a mutual love of harley bikes--at the same time that she's working a case that involves bikes and biker gangs. It just screams conflict of interest.

I found the unbelievable parts to be very distracting from enjoying the overall read.

I enjoyed the details on biker gangs and their earned patches which I didn't know too much about as well as the details on how bikers are connected throughout North America.

Monday Mourning: A Novel
Monday Mourning: A Novel
by Kathy Reichs
Edition: Hardcover
18 used & new from CDN$ 2.43

3.0 out of 5 stars Good but it could have been better, Sept. 29 2010
I enjoyed this book very much AND I found it frustrating. Note: There are some slight spoilers in this review - so you've been cautioned).

Parts of the book really bothered me. This seems to be a trend where our heroine gets herself beat up and/or captured walking into very obvious dangerous situations and always alone.

Tempe's apartment is constantly under survellience by bad guys or broken into. She also always rushes off alone at the end and gets into trouble. What detective wouldn't call someone? In reality I would think she'd be severely disciplined by her bosses for risking her life and others so frequently. And most cops would probably shut her down for going too far beyond her job description.

How many times does Tempe have to get a best friend practically murdered before she realizes that friends belong at home? Just think of the implications to her employer re liability on that issue.)

What didn't jive within the suspended reality of this fiction is the true to life forensics and intelligent detecting mixed in with the irrational behaviour and stuipidly of going alone, taking a friend who is not a cop, not asking a simple question of Ryan such as "Who was that girl you were with"?

Any person who'd had their throat slit by a serial killer (Deja Dead--which is a great book) would have the most state of the art security system--especially if they continued to work with such people. I'm really tired with the usual MO where Tempe's apartment is broken into and then later she gets beat up. At least this time we didn't have as much of the calling on the cell phone and no one answers, another typical scene used over and over.

But, I did keep reading because I wanted to know who the bad guy was and it wasn't who I thought - so good job for keeping the reveal hidden well.

I got the impression that maybe the author lacked the time to come up with a better plot to move the scenes along and so resorted to the usual tried and true mix as mentioned above. There are so many other things that could have been used, some even simple such as she calls the cops and they're stuck in traffic. (That's probably so frequent and realistic to be true).

Despite my frustrations, I don't regret reading this book and I'll certainly read her other books. The actual crime information is very interesting and the forensics are top notch as always.

Death du Jour
Death du Jour
by Kathy Reichs
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.76
96 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Death of the Day - It's Very Good, Aug. 13 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I found this book to be a real page turner. The story centers around some murders in both Quebec and Charlotte and it isn't long until our heorine, Tempe, finds a connection.

As always the forensic information was most interesting and full of detail.

I thought I had the plot all figured out and was disappointed thinking it was too obvious, but it wasn't that way at all.

I would like to see our heroine learn how to throw a few good punches and I thought it would have been more feasible if she had self defense training considering her past experiences, i.e., Deja Dead. There were also a couple spots where some info was given and she didn't follow through. I thought an obsessed investigator would not let something like that go by without looking into it more. Hence the 4 star rating.

Ghost Stories of the Sea
Ghost Stories of the Sea
by Barbara Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.95
27 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and sometimes creepy, Aug. 8 2010
My family have really enjoyed reading this book of Ghost Stories of the Sea. There are close to 60 stories (some 2 pages long and others 6 pages). The book is divided based on the different types of hauntings, i.e., Ghosts on Board, Supernatural Submarine Stories, Haunted Lighthouses, Derelicts, Strange and Spooky Sea Stories, Mysterious Areas and Phantom Ships.

There are a few black and white photos included of the ships and the reports start from the year 1672 with the oldest known ghost story right up to more modern times.

The writing is easy to read and it's obvious the author has done careful research and interviewed many people. The info-sharing is not overdone--teenagers enjoyed them.

This book would especially be of interest to anyone who likes to scuba dive on wrecks.

Break No Bones
Break No Bones
by Kathy Reichs
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 11.67
104 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Good to Moderate, Aug. 8 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I agree with the other 3 star ratings. This book is a decent read but it isn't such a page turner as her other books such as Deja Dead and Death du Jour. This book is one you can skip or borrow from the library.

The story lacked twists, suspense or surprises and I could guess most of the outcomes.

The forensic information was awesome, as it always is and that was the book's best part.

The Writer's Guide to Crafting Stories for Children
The Writer's Guide to Crafting Stories for Children
by Nancy Lamb
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.88
58 used & new from CDN$ 0.43

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must have book for any aspiring fiction writer, July 19 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've read this book 2 1/2 times and I have to rave about it. I bought it based on the reviews and they are correct and then some. This book is a must have for anyone who wants to write fiction, even if it's not for children. The principles are very much the same.

Nancy Lamb gives clear examples throughout this book on techniques such as structural design, plot, sub plots, scenes, point of view, voice and tone, characters, mid story crisis, etc., etc. Chapter headings are Foundation & Structure, Structual Supports, Interior Designs, and Finishing Touches. She covers everything, even how to deal with that inner critic.

Her writing style is very comfortable to follow and easy to read. I too, like another reviewer, experienced something inspirational and magical while reading this book which really helped my creative muse. Ms. Lamb helped me to rethink the structure and plot of my book with a better understanding of where I was going and how to carry the story through. She uses solid examples taken from popular children's books throughout to demonstrate her point and I think that's what I found most useful. She teaches you to analyze the techniques in the books that you read to see how they are written, what the author was doing--that was amazing and I'll never read a book the same way again... "reading in a way that teaches you how to write".

She has lots of tip pages like "Nancy Lamb's Twenty-Six Steps to Good Writing". Many of these I want to pin up next to my computer as I write to check against each chapter. For example, "Does it carry the scene advance the plot or develop the characters? If not rewrite it or get rid of it".

Charlotte's Web
Charlotte's Web
by E. B. White
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 8.34
175 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Timeless Story, June 27 2010
This review is from: Charlotte's Web (Paperback)
This is an amazing story about a farm pig named Wilbur and his friendship with a clever spider named Charlotte. The book is an enjoyable read no matter what your age.

The author takes us into the lives of the farm animals and their hopes and dreams and struggle to survive. The characters are unique and interesting. One of my favourites is Templeton the rat who later reluctantly helps Wilbur.

This book is a timeless classic describing friendship, loyalty and love.

Deja Dead
Deja Dead
by Kathy Reichs
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
87 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, fast plot with tons of suspense, May 28 2010
This review is from: Deja Dead (Mass Market Paperback)
I got very hooked while reading this suspenseful and fast paced book. For a debut novel it is very smartly written.

What impressed me most was that you could tell the author knew what she was writing about because she had been there and done that. She hasn't just researched what she's writing about. As a forensic anthropologist, she's done it. The detail she describes is very real and vivid. Probably why I too felt the need to double check I had locked the doors at night.

I loved the detail on Montreal and the map and didn't feel it was overdone. After all there are other books with this character so that imprint will carry over to her other books I'm sure.

The occasional French used in the book was smartly done, and not overdone in any way. The fact that the book was placed in Quebec but with a bilingual doctor that had lived in both US and Canada was a refreshing take that I thoroughly enjoyed.

I've already order her next two books.

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