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Luanne Ollivier
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Summer Rental
Summer Rental
by Mary Kay Andrews
Edition: Audio CD
Price: CDN$ 28.83
17 used & new from CDN$ 8.47

4.0 out of 5 stars Fum summer listening, May 30 2014
This review is from: Summer Rental (Audio CD)
I listen to at least one audio book over the course of a week, driving back and forth to work. I had great fun listening to Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews this week. As summer is (finally) on it's way, it seemed a quite appropriate choice.

Dorie, Ellis and Julia have been best friends since their childhood days in Georgia. They've kept in touch even as their lives diverged. Now in their thirties, each is facing a significant turning point in their life. Who better to commiserate with than your best friends? And where could be more relaxing than a cottage on North Carolina's Outer Banks? But - mix in a woman on the run and a very interesting neighbour in the garage apartment - and things get a little hotter in North Carolina.

Mary Kay Andrews creates the most engaging characters. All three women were very different, but all of them were someone you'd love to have as a friend. Dorie is gentle, sweet and kind, Ellis is the organizer and practical one and Julia is the risk taker and the most outspoken. Each is a very different personality that brings something different to the story. (I have to say, Julia was my favourite)

The reader was Isabel Keating. She has a wonderfully rich and resonant voice. (She works as an actor as well) Keating creates a voice for each character that perfectly embodied the mental image I had imagined for each woman. Her Southern accent was lovely to listen to - and believable. She captured the tone of the book - from fun to danger...and more. Yes, there's much more to the story than women sitting on the beach in the sun! Andrews has penned a fun novel, but there are some truths hidden there as well...

Andrews' writing style is light, breezy and chock full of southern charm. She herself makes her home between Georgia and North Carolina, so her setting descriptions conjure up quite vivid mental pictures. The cottage with it's sandy floors and worn paint just called to me. And so did that beach chair, just sitting watching the tide roll out.

Great summer listening? Absolutely! Rental is an easy, entertaining listen, perfect summer escapist fare. Pop it into the player on your way to the cottage.

The Bones Beneath (Tom Thorne Novels)
The Bones Beneath (Tom Thorne Novels)
Offered by Hachette Book Group Digital, Inc.
Price: CDN$ 14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite crime series, May 27 2014
I couldn't wait to get my hands on the next book in Mark Billingham's Tom Thorne series - especially after the way the eleventh book, The Dying Hours, ended.

The Bones Beneath picks up six weeks after The Dying Hours. (New readers, you certainly could certainly read this book without having read others, but I highly encourage you to start with the first book, Sleepyhead. Trust me - you'll be hooked.)

I adore prologues that immediately hook the reader. In the opening pages of The Bones Beneath, an unnamed man is kidnapped from his home.....

And then immediately the story cuts to Thorne. I wondered many times what this unnamed man had to do with the plot. There are a few short chapters that cut to his timeline, but I was still scratching my head until the final few pages. And then it was an AHA! moment. A lovely plot twist.

Back to Thorne. Fans will recognize this name - Stuart Nicklin. Psychopath Nicklin and Thorne have crossed paths before, with Tom finally putting Nicklin behind bars for good. But then Nicklin says he'll reveal where he buried the body of one of his victims - but only if Thorne is the one to escort him. Thorne reluctantly agrees, but wonders why and what Nicklin has up his sleeve. Thorne is wary - and rightly so. "He couldn't think of a single reason that didn't scare the hell out of him."

Nicklin says the body is on remote Bardsey Island, off the Welsh coast. Billingham paints a very vivid picture of the island and its history. I, of course, had to check it out online - it's quite fascinating. This isolation and lack of connection with the mainland only heightens the sense of danger, of being with a madman who seems to be directing the way things will play out, even though Thorne is in charge.

Billingham has created a chilling antagonist in Nicklin, one who reads people and manipulates them masterfully. Flashbacks to his time on the island as a young man only confirms how evil he truly is. And he's a planner.....

Familiar supporting characters are also back - Holland is one of my favourites. I always enjoy the secondary storyline of Thorne's personal life as well.

Billingham consistently comes up with dark, devious plots that hold the reader captive until the last page has been turned. (and more than a few good twists and turns) Tom Thorne has not grown predictable or tired after twelve books. He's ornery, obstinate and driven to solve his cases at almost any cost. This lands him on a fine line between right and wrong many times. In The Bones Beneath, Thorne has this sense of right and wrong sorely tested...

This reader will be waiting and watching for the next book from Mark Billingham

The Promise
The Promise
by Ann Weisgarber
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.13
29 used & new from CDN$ 13.63

4.0 out of 5 stars Shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, May 21 2014
This review is from: The Promise (Hardcover)
I read Ann Weisgarber's debut novel, The Personal History of Rachel Dupree, in 2011 and was immediately captured by her storytelling.

Weisgarber's latest book, The Promise, did the same, holding me from first page to last.

Catherine Wainwright is a talented pianist, making her own way in 1899 Ohio. But she makes the mistake of believing a man's interest in her is true. She is marked as a fallen woman and shunned by her family, friends and acquaintances. The man has no intention of leaving his wife. With no one willing to hire or work with her and her debts mounting, Catherine's plight grows increasingly desperate. She casts about for a man that has not heard of her background, sending out letters to renew ties. One man replies - Oscar Williams. Oscar left Ohio as a young man and eventually landed in Galveston, Texas where he makes his living as a farmer. His wife Bernadette has just died, leaving him to raise their four year old son Andre. A local girl, Nan Ogden made Bernadette a promise - to look after Andre. But when Oscar brings home Catherine as his new wife, worlds, emotions and more collide.

Weisgarber has again created very strong, but different, female characters in Catherine and Nan. Both are well drawn, but I found myself drawn more to Nan. Her down to earth, practical attitude belies a caring heart. She is astute enough to sense the attraction between Catherine and Oscar and realize what is inevitable. I had a harder time with Catherine. Although her character transforms as the relationships between the three main characters evolve, I still had a difficult time accepting her.

"Oscar ate with the neighbour men and danced with the women, rural unrefined people, but that hadn't mattered to him. He enjoyed their company. He was without pretense and this, I realized, was what drew me to him."

She, howeve,r is pretending, hiding her past and the desperate need to flee circumstances of her own making.

The narrative is alternated between Catherine and Nan, giving us an insider's view of each woman's thoughts. Interestingly, Oscar is never given a voice of his own. Rather we learn of and about him from each woman's point of view.

Weisgarber again draws on historical events to set the backdrop for her novel. I was unaware of the geography and history of Galveston Island. (I did, of course, have to Google it after I finished the book. ) 1900 Galveston was home to one of the US's greatest natural disasters. A hurricane inundated the island and city, killing 6,000 people in the span of a few hours. And this event is pivotal to Weisgarber's story.

The setting is a character in the book as well, the heat and the storm almost tangible in Weisgarber's beautifully descriptive passages. Weisgarber has written a story rich with emotion, detail and history - definitely a recommended read.

The Promise was has been shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction

The Skin Collector
The Skin Collector
by Jeffery Deaver
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 19.44
39 used & new from CDN$ 3.97

4.0 out of 5 stars A return to the crime solving I enjoy, May 20 2014
This review is from: The Skin Collector (Hardcover)
Jeffery Deaver's last book featuring Lincoln Rhyme, Kill Room, left me slightly underwhelmed. There was a lot of political comment in the book that I found myself glossing over. Deaver also took quadriplegic Rhyme away from his New York City townhouse to a crime scene in the Bahamas, but it just didn't work for me. It seemed forced and almost gimmicky. It was an okay read, but not a standout in the series for me.

However, Deaver's latest book, The Skin Collector (#11) takes us back to what Lincoln Rhyme does best - and the type of story I like best - solving cases based on the evidence and minutiae gathered at a crime scene by his team. And Lincoln's superlative powers of deduction.

The Skin Collector opens with a wonderfully creepy scene that introduces us to the perpetrator, Billy. It's one of those chilling prologues that promises a great read. And it delivered. Billy is a tattoo artist who delights in finding pristine skin for inking his cryptic messages. And his choice of ink is deadly. Billy Haven is clever - he's studied Rhyme's methods and leaves little if anything behind at his scenes. Yes, plural - Billy has a plan and it looks like he's taking inspiration from Lincoln's first case - The Bone Collector.

Deaver employs the history of New York and it's tunnel and underground passages to great effect in The Skin Collector. I ended up checking out many of his references online - it's pretty fascinating history.

I thought I had predicted where the plot was going to go about three quarters of the way through the book. But I was pleasantly proven wrong! Deaver inserts a twist, then a turn, then another twist - and I think there may have been another turn. There was one plot element that I found tawdry and icky and somewhat unnecessary involving Billy's aunt. But on the whole, it was an inventive storyline. Part of it is taken from current new stories, making it plausible and relative. The ending finished on a nice little aha, leaving the door open for further entries in a parallel story line. (Yes, I'm being deliberately obtuse)

Familiar characters return - I'm growing quite fond of Ron Pulaski - and some interesting supporting players were introduced. I hope we see more of tattoo artist TT Gordon. 'Foster' daughter Pam can move away though. I find her attitude tiresome. Amelia is still razor sharp, but seems to have mellowed since solidifying her relationship with Linc.

The Skin Collector was a return to the Lincoln Rhyme I enjoy. It's a good crime read, one to tuck in the beach bag this summer.

Tanta Agua
Tanta Agua
DVD ~ Néstor Guzzini
Price: CDN$ 17.99
17 used & new from CDN$ 15.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Too much water..., May 16 2014
This review is from: Tanta Agua (DVD)
Tanta Agua is the first feature film of writing and directing duo Ana Guevara and Leticia Jorge. It was a winner at the Miami and Guadalajara Film Festivals.

Divorced father Alberto Nestor Guzzini) takes his children Lucia (Malú Chouza) and Federico (Joaquín Castiglioni)to Salto, the spring water capital of Uruguay, for a vacation together. They leave in the pouring rain, arrive in the pouring rain and it continues for the first few days of their trip. (Tanta Agua translates as too much water)

Tanta Agua is in Spanish with English subtitles, but even without the subtitles, you would be able to read Lucia's unhappiness a mile away. She doesn't want to be there. Her father's attempts to engage, to have fun and to spend time together are either tolerated or rebuffed. She seems determined not to enjoy herself. Federico seems to go along with his sister's mood much of the time. The rain does eventually let up and every member of the family finds someone outside of their family to spend time with.

Guevara and Jorge give us a poignant look at father/child relationships that rings so true. The dedication of the film is to the director's fathers, leading me to wonder if Lucia's character had a bit of their own lives mixed in. It was interesting to watch this film as a parent. Alberto never stops trying to reach Lucia and the most moving moments of the film are when they finally share something. And Lucia laughs and smiles. It is a marked difference from the countenance she presents most of the film. Alberto's demeanor changes as well with that small offering.

The sound of the rain constantly falling was used effectively and underscored the damper the weather and the children's attitude has brought to this vacation. I though all three actors were wonderful, natural and realistic, Tanta Agua is a sweet little film about family and relationships. The pacing is slower and that may frustrate some viewers. I actually thought it mirrored real life very well.

The bonus film that is always included with Film Movement releases was a great tie in. Home Road Movie follows an English father's joy in taking his young family on road trip vacations. As one of his children remembers, the view changes as the child reaches adulthood and realizes what the car and trips meant to his father. Excellent short, very moving.

The Book Of You
The Book Of You
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Price: CDN$ 13.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Great debut, May 14 2014
This review is from: The Book Of You (Kindle Edition)
The Book of You is British author Claire Kendal's debut novel.

You know that delicious tingle you get when you've read the first few pages of a book and absolutely know you're in for an addictive read? One that will consume you until you finish it? Well, The Book of You is one of those reads.

"It is you. Of course it is you. Always it is you."

A polite drink one evening. A morning with no recollection of what happened. Three months later, he's everywhere that Clarissa turns, outside her home, her work, watching, leaving notes and presents, approaching her, always polite, but never leaving her be. He hasn't truly done anything that the police can deal with. "The advice in the leaflets doesn't work in real life. I doubt anything will work with you."

But what Clarissa does do is start documenting it all - everything Rafe says, does, dates, times, places, saving everything he has left for her. "Perhaps the leaflets are not completely useless after all. They have taught me that a time will come when the story matters a lot. And I already know that every story has a true name. I wish this story's name could be different, but nothing will change it. This story is The Book of You."

Clarissa is called to serve on a jury. Although the case is a difficult one - a woman who has been held captive and abused, the courtroom is a place where Clarissa believes she can feel safe for seven weeks. But, she doesn't count on the emotional trauma that the case brings into her own life. Much of the testimony mirrors her own situation.

Rafe's stalking of Clarissa is insidious and truly, truly frightening. He manipulates and twists things about, so that Clarissa looks like she is the crazy one. His conciliatory tone, his politeness, his belief that Clarissa is his, is more chilling than overt acts of violence. But for me, it was the watching, the constant surveillance that had me creeped out.

I don't know if I could have been as polite in some of the interactions as Clarissa was. I found myself urging her to not dismiss her own concerns, to not try to build a case against Rafe before seeking help from the authorities. To run.

Kendal does a fantastic job of slowly and deliciously building the tension. She adds in plot twists that I didn't see coming and an ending I didn't expect. There are situations and descriptions that may not be for gentle readers. For though this is an imagined tale, stalking is an all too real danger for many.

The Book of You is a fantastic debut and has put Kendal on my 'must read' authors list. Thriller and suspense fans - this one's for you

The Son
The Son
by Jo Nesbo
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.77
5 used & new from CDN$ 18.77

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another five star read from Nesbo, May 13 2014
This review is from: The Son (Hardcover)
I've read every book Jo Nesbo has written - I'm a big fan of his writing and his recurring character Harry Hole. When I heard he had a new book coming out I was just itching to get my hands on it. It's not a 'Harry' book, but is a stand alone title. And you'll want to get your hands on a copy of The Son.

Sonny is a junkie. He's made his home at the Oslo prison for many years. And he's fed a constant supply of heroin by his jailers. You see, Sonny keeps taking the rap for crimes he hasn't really committed. The reward for Sonny is that constant supply of drugs. The reward for those hanging crimes on Sonny is priceless - they've got a scapegoat for sale. Sonny's life went off the rails as a young man when his father committed suicide and was exposed as a dirty cop.

Sonny has a calm, preternatural air about him and he doesn't say too much. Cons have used him as a confessor for years. But one day, an old man's confession reveals that what Sonny thought about his father could all be lies. It's enough to wake Sonny up and he plans a daring escape. The other person who might know the truth is Inspector Simon Kefas, his father's best friend. And Kefas is the one hunting him down.

Jo Nesbo's plotting is simply phenomenal. It's intricate, multi-layered and just when I thought I had things all figured out, he blindsides the reader in the last few chapters. I love being unable to predict the outcome, the plot, the direction the story will take or what the characters will do. Nesbo achieves this every time. It's what makes his books so good.

Well, that and the characters. Sonny was an interesting protagonist - good and bad inextricably bound together in an almost Christ-like countenance. Despite his actions, I wanted him to prevail. Kefas was also an intriguing character study. He's made mistakes in his younger years and has made atoning for those lapses his goal in life. Again, a study in light and dark. As are most of the supporting characters as well - from the junkie under the bridge to the young boy spying on his neighbourhood, other residents of the treatment centre and more. Each is given a voice, allowing the reader to see the story form multiple viewpoints.

Nesbo's descriptions of place conjure up vivid pictures of the settings. As with most of Nesbo's books, social commentary on the state of politics, corruptions, crime and the social welfare of Norway is woven into the plot.

The Son is addicting, adrenalin fueled read that you won't be able to put down. For those who haven't read Jo Nesbo yet,(!) this would be a fabulous introduction to this talented author. Absolutely, positively recommended. (And Charlotte Barslund's translation was just excellent)

Keep Your Friends Close
Keep Your Friends Close
by Paula Daly
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.57
2 used & new from CDN$ 16.57

5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!, May 12 2014
I devoured Paula Daly's debut novel, Just What Kind of Mother Are You? last year. It was 2013's first summer hammock read for me - the done in a day, read in the sun ones.

When I saw Daly had a new book out, I jumped at the chance to read Keep Your Friends Close. Well, the warm weather is taking its time getting here, but Keep Your Friends Close was another done in a day book.

Natty and Sean married young, but have built a good life for themselves and their daughters Alice and Felicity. Life is busy and their business is thriving, so they don't always have the luxury of quality time together. But they love each other and their relationship is solid.

Or so Natty thought. Natty's old friend Eve unexpectedly appears on their doorstep for a visit one day. The day before Natty has to rush to France as Felicity has fallen ill on a school trip. And best friend Eve offers to stay with Sean and Alice at the house to help. When Natty returns home to England, she finds that Eve has helped alright. Apparently she and Sean have fallen in love. Eve has taken her husband, her home and her life. Natty is stunned and has no idea what to do next. Until she gets an anonymous note....."Eve has done this before, more than once. Don’t let her take what’s yours."

Oh, what a deliciously devious read this was! We know what a conniving so-and-so Eve is as Daly gives us chilling glimpses into her thoughts. We can only helplessly watch as Natty's life falls apart, piece by piece. Every act that Eve perpetrates can be explained away, leaving Natty looking like the crazy one. If it was a movie I'd be shouting at the screen. With a book, it's so very tempting to just peek ahead a few chapters....just to see. I managed to restrain myself - barely.

Detective Constable Joanne Aspinall and her aunt Mad Jackie (my favourite - I love her no nonsense attitude) from Daly's first book return. I'm quite taken with both and hope that they appear in future novels. It's impossible not to root for Natty and hope that Eve gets her just desserts. (although I'm not too sure I myself would want Sean back.)

Daly has concocted a twisting, turning psychological thriller that will have you up till the wee hours. (And tucks in a nice little gotcha in the final pages of the book as well) I love this kind of thriller - an ordinary person thrust into extraordinary circumstances. What will they do? What would you do?

Absolutely put Keep Your Friends Close on your summer reading thrills list! I'll be waiting for Daly's third book - The Day Before You Came.

Notorious (Max Revere Novels)
Notorious (Max Revere Novels)
Offered by Macmillan CA
Price: CDN$ 12.99

3.0 out of 5 stars I just didn't like the protagonist, May 7 2014
Allison Brennan is a prolific author and her books get taken out quite often at the library. But Notorious, is the first book I've read by this best selling author.

Notorious is the first book in the Max Revere series. Max is an investigative reporter with her own cold case television show. She'll head anywhere in the country to tackle those unsolved murders. One case she's never been able to solve is the death of her childhood friend Lindy. Max heads back to her hometown to attend a funeral. While at the airport she is approached by a couple who beg her to look into their son's death as well. Max agrees and also starts re-looking at Lindy's case as well.

Brennan has come up with two good whodunits that had me interested. But here's the problem - I didn't like the investigator. At all. Brennan has written Max as a very tough, strong personality, which, on paper would seem to work for a reporter. But for this reader, it just didn't make the leap. I just found her obnoxious, pushy, rude and self absorbed with an 'anything you can do I can do better' chip on her shoulder. The annoying dialogue and sanctimonious attitude only increased as the book progressed and had me gritting my teeth by the end.

The main plotting of Notorious was just fine and I did read to the end to see the final reveal. But I was glad to turn the final page on Max Revere. Established fans of Allison Brennan will most likely enjoy this book

Lost Lake
Lost Lake
by Sarah Addison Allen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.80
34 used & new from CDN$ 11.82

4.0 out of 5 stars I love Addison Allen's storytelling, May 6 2014
This review is from: Lost Lake (Hardcover)
I love Sarah Addison Allen's storytelling. The Sugar Queen is a favourite of mine. Although, Addison Allen's newest release, Lost Lake, may just supplant it!

Kate Pheris has just 'woken up' after a year. Her husband has passed away and she's going through the motions of living for her daughter Devin's sake. Her mother-in-law has been helping her for the past year, but that help has crossed over a line. She's now dictating the direction of Kate and Devin's lives.

When Devin comes across an old postcard from Kate's Aunt Eby, Kate makes a snap decision to visit Eby at Lost Lake. Kate's happiest summer as a child was spent there.

But, Kate and Devin's arrival may be too late. Eby has agreed to sell the small resort to a local developer. But perhaps Lost Lake does not want to be sold......

Lost Lake is filled with rich characters, all with their own back story, all searching for 'something. 'Each one held my interest, but I had a special fondness for Bulahdeen, a woman who has been coming to Lost Lake for thirty years. I must admit, Addison Allen's descriptions of Lost Lake had me wanting to visit, to sit on the dock, to stay in one of the quaint cabins, to get to know Eby and to be part of the circle of Lost Lake.

Addison Allen weaves together wonderfully warm tales with quirky characters and then slips in a bit of magic when you're not looking. And once you notice the magic, you realize it's quite right that it's in the story. And then you begin to think 'what if'...

Lost Lake had me hoping 'what if' could truly happen. Lost Lake was another enchanting read from Sarah Addison Allen. I had a quick listen to the audio version as well - I think Janet Metzger does an excellent job bring the characters and story to life.

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