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Luanne Ollivier

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The Pocket Wife: A Novel
The Pocket Wife: A Novel
by Susan Crawford
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 23.09
27 used & new from CDN$ 14.37

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Here's another great read for those who love psychological fiction - The ..., April 1 2015
Here's another great read for those who love psychological fiction - The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford.

Dana's neighbour Celia has been found murdered - and Dana was apparently the last person to see her. Apparently - because Dana can't remember much of their visit. Sure, they were drinking, but....

But, Dana is also bi-polar and off her meds. And she's scared - because what if she's the one who killed Celia? But her husband is acting oddly as well. And so is Celia's husband. What about the nosy neighbour?

Oh yes, we have got ourselves a wonderfully unreliable narrator! Which of Dana's memories are the truth? What is imagined? Who is the actual murderer? Crawford captures Dana's fractured thinking extremely well. I love this type of narrator - there is no way to predict which way the story is going to go. I enjoy watching for subtle clues in behavior or dialogue that would perhaps point the way to the truth.

Celia's death is at the heart of the novel, but Crawford also explores a marriage in trouble, mental illness and familial relationships in The Pocket Wife - all to great effect. Detective Jack Moss is investigating Celia's death, but he has a rich personal storyline of his own and his own narrative, rife with doubts as well.

But I have no doubt you're going to enjoy The Pocket Wife. Definitely recommended. I'll be watching for the next book from this author!

Crazy Love You: A Novel
Crazy Love You: A Novel
Offered by Simon & Schuster Canada, Inc.
Price: CDN$ 15.99

4.0 out of 5 stars 5/5 Crazy Love You is the latest book from Lisa Unger, March 31 2015
3.5/5 Crazy Love You is the latest book from Lisa Unger.

I've read and enjoyed many other books by Unger, so I just picked this one up with no idea what it was about. Crazy Love You is a bit of a departure from Unger's previous works.

I was intrigued by the premise...

Ian was the kid picked on in his small town - fat boy was a favorite slur thrown at him. His only friend was another outsider - the troubled Priss.

Ian and Priss grew up and made their way to New York City. Ian has found success as a graphic novelist. His Fatboy and Priss series is a phenomenal success. But when Ian meets Meghan, Priss feels pushed aside - and angry. After all she's stood by Ian from the beginning, hasn't she?

As Ian continues to draw and write his series, time lines become blurred. Are events drawn in the panels happening in real life? Is he imagining things - or truly making them happen? Or is it Priss manipulating his life?

Unger keeps the reader off kilter - we're never really sure what's real and what's imagined. Is Ian crazy? Priss is elusive - we're never really sure about her and what her intentions are.

Unger's writing flows easily and I became completely engrossed in following Ian down the rabbit hole. (He was still a difficult character to like though) But, where the book fell down for me was the ending. It was just a bit too 'been there, done that' for me. And it seemed to go on for too long with much of Ian's feelings and experiences recapped over and over again.

I think Unger is a great writer and will be absolutely picking up her next book. For me though, Crazy Love You just wasn't a stand out.

The Kind Worth Killing: A Novel
The Kind Worth Killing: A Novel
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Price: CDN$ 16.99

5.0 out of 5 stars I adore psychological suspense novels - they're probably my favourite genre. So, March 30 2015
I adore psychological suspense novels - they're probably my favourite genre. So, if you too enjoy them, Peter Swanson's new novel, The Kind Worth Killing, is one you'll want to pick up!

Ted Severenson is on a flight home to Boston when he strikes up a conversation with his pretty seatmate Lily. He's had a few drinks in the lounge before boarding and the conversation takes an odd turn along the becomes a little more personal...and a lot more dangerous. Ted's wife Miranda is cheating on him...

"What are you going to do about it?"
"What I'd really like to do is kill her."
"I think you should, she said."

What a deliciously devious premise! (somewhat reminiscent of Strangers on a Train.)

Swanson employs multiple narrators in The Kind Worth Killing - Ted, Lily and Miranda. Readers are privy to pieces of the plot that not every character has - and this ratchets up the reading tension. Highly effective - and tiring. I had a hard time putting this one down - I wanted to get back to each character's viewpoint, so I read far longer into the night than I should have!

The characters are unlikable, everyone has their own agenda and nothing is as it seems. I love not being able to predict the path a novel is going to take. Swanson does a fantastic job of keeping the reader off kilter with numerous twists and turns. And the ending - the ending is a brilliant last page gotcha.

Absolutely recommended!

The Other Joseph
The Other Joseph
Price: CDN$ 9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars offered up a great opportunity to do just that, March 25 2015
This review is from: The Other Joseph (Kindle Edition)
Every so often I need to take a step back from my usual genres and pick up something completely different. Skip Horack's new book, The Other Joseph, offered up a great opportunity to do just that.

Roy Joseph has lost most of his life - his beloved older brother Tommy died in the Gulf War, his parents are both dead and he lives within the narrow confines of a life constricted by a felony conviction. He's chosen to live in a remote area with only a dog for company and he works an isolated job on the oil rigs. Roy has exiled himself from life.

When a young woman contacts him and say that his brother Tommy was her father, he sees a chance - a chance to reconnect with life again, to redeem himself, to perhaps be happy.

Roy's journey physically takes him from Louisiana to San Francisco. He visits locales from their childhood and calls on those who knew his brother along the way. Broken and wounded characters litter the road between Louisiana and San Francisco.

Horack's prose are rich and powerful. They are stark and spare, underlining Roy's solitude. I was overwhelmed by Roy's life - his broken, isolated existence. It was just so very, very sad. I wasn't able to read the book straight through - I simply had to read in small doses. I wanted so badly for the the trip to be Roy's redemption. And of course you're asking - was it? It's hard to say - the ending is not what I wanted at all - Horack did surprise me. I'll have to go with an ambiguous yes and no answer.

The Other Joseph was a moving, eloquent read - one that will leave echoes with you after the last page is turned

Fiercombe Manor
Fiercombe Manor
by Kate Riordan
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.87
3 used & new from CDN$ 9.37

4.0 out of 5 stars I love old houses and forgotten corners - there are so ..., March 23 2015
This review is from: Fiercombe Manor (Paperback)
I love old houses and forgotten corners - there are so many stories to be told and remembered. Kate Riordan's latest book, Fiercombe Manor has one of those stories....

1933 England. Young (and naive) Alice Eveleigh has gotten herself into 'trouble' with a married man. Her mother calls upon an old friend to take Alice in until the baby is born. That friend, Mrs. Jelphs, is the housekeeper of a old manor in a forgotten corner of the Gloucestershire countryside. Mrs Jelphs and old gardener Ruck are the only two staff (and residents) of the Stanton estate.

All the elements are there for the perfect Gothic mystery - young, curious woman, old retainers, crumbling house with closed off rooms, secrets alluded to, and clues to the past. Riordan seals the deal with a delicious piece of foreshadowing.....

"When I think back to the memory, that first glimpse of Fiercombe Manor and the valley it seemed almost entombed in, I cannot recall any sense of unease......It seems amazing in light of what happened, but I can't say I felt any foreboding about the valley at all." " I could never have imagined all that would happen in those few short months and how, by the end of them, my life would be irrevocably altered forever."

Riordan's novel is told in a past and present narrative. The past is from thirty years early and is Lady Elizabeth Stanton's story. Old letters that Alice uncovers begin to fill in the past for her, but the reader is privy to more through Elizabeth's voice. I found myself reacting more to Elizabeth's timeline, caught up in the past.

"There's an atmosphere, though, as if something of what's gone before is still here, like an echo or a reflection in a dark pool."

Cue delicious tingle.....are there ghosts? Can the past reach out to the present? Is the sad history of Fiercombe Manor going to be repeated?

Riordan's setting is wonderfully drawn - I could easily imagine the uneven stone floors, the crumbling outbuildings, the gardens and the dusty rooms. Time is also well done, with the social graces and mores of both time periods captured. Riordan also explores an issue that has a foot firmly in the present. (Sorry, I'm being deliberately oblique so as not to spoil the book for future readers)

This novel is fairly lengthy at 400+ plus pages, but I enjoyed the slow unfurling of this novel. Riordan keeps the reader in the dark until the final chapters - and only then reveals the end of Elizabeth's story. Alice's story has a fairytale ending, perfect for this tale. (I have a 'thing' for covers. I loved this one - I wanted to go exploring myself!)

Fiercombe Manor is best read in a comfy armchair within a lamp's circle of light with the wind whistling outside at night. Oh, and a pot of tea.

The Daughter: A Novel
The Daughter: A Novel
by Jane Shemilt
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.00
27 used & new from CDN$ 3.97

4.0 out of 5 stars I loved this dual narrative, March 17 2015
This review is from: The Daughter: A Novel (Paperback)
The Daughter is Jane Shemilt's debut novel.

How's this for a 'grab your attention and keep you reading until you're going to be tired in the morning opening line'....

"If only. If only I"d been listening. If only I'd been watching. If only I could start again, exactly one year ago."

Jenny and her husband Ted are parents to teenagers Naomi and twins Theo and Ed. They're both busy physicians and there just never seems to be enough time to keep on top of everything - things get missed. In this case, it's Naomi who goes missing.

Shemilt tells the story of this family from the perspective of Jenny then - just before Naomi's disappearance - and now, one year later with Naomi still missing. I loved this dual narrative. A hint or a line from the past or a remembered nuance sparks a segue to the present and back again. With hindsight, Jenny relives the months leading up to Naomi's disappearance. Did she focus on herself too much? What did she miss? How did she not act on the changes she noticed in her daughter? How could she be blind to what was happening in her family?

Shemilt's story tells the story of a horrific loss in a seemingly idyllic family - and exposes the secrets and problems beneath that exterior gloss. But the pressing question is what happened to Naomi? Is she still alive? And Jenny comes to realize she didn't really know her daughter at all....

The publisher's blurb reads: "a compelling and clever psychological thriller". I'm not sure about the thriller label, but The Daughter kept me engrossed from start to finish. I was engaged in Jenny's self recriminations (I did found Jenny difficult to like or feel sympathy for though) and got caught up in the search for Naomi. For me, the book was a slow measured suspense novel, with the focus on the mother rather than the daughter. The ending wasn't quite what I had expected, but as I thought about it, I decided I liked it after all. The Daughter was a good debut and I would pick up the next book from this author.

A Dangerous Place: A Maisie Dobbs Novel
A Dangerous Place: A Maisie Dobbs Novel
by Jacqueline Winspear
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 21.00
31 used & new from CDN$ 18.58

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The opening first pages of A Dangerous Place were quite jarring - a great tragedy has befallen Maisie, March 17 2015
A Dangerous Place is the latest (#11) entry in Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series.

The opening first pages of A Dangerous Place were quite jarring - a great tragedy has befallen Maisie. I won't spoil it for you, but this loss devastates her. (And truly this reader as well - I'm saddened at this turn of events.) So much so, that she has no desire to return to England - instead she only gets as far as Gibraltar. It's 1937 and the Spanish Civil War is underway.

I've always enjoyed the slow building and piecing together of clues on the road to the final reveal in Winspear's novels. The path is never a straight line from A to B which is of course what makes a great mystery. In A Dangerous Place the route to the end is quite roundabout and busy - a bit too much in my opinion. Winspear has grown the series - and Maisie - with new directions taken in the past few books.

There is of course a dead body in A Dangerous Place (every mystery needs one!) But, the ensuing investigation is a political cat and mouse game with watchers watching the watched. And sadly, I became tired of it. What I really enjoyed was what I have enjoyed in previous Maisie books - the slow coming to answers with interviews, visits and Maisie's case map. This is still present in A Dangerous Place. But what I didn't like was the political cat and mouse games and the duplicity of almost every character. It was, well, just too much. This may just be my bias - I am not a 'spy novel' fan.

Winspear's descriptions of time and place are excellent. Maisie walks the streets of Gibraltar many times - I could vividly picture the old women mending their nets, Mr. Solomon's haberdashery and Mr. Salazar's cafe, as she visits these locations many times. (And it's always fun to see a mention of a place in Canada that I'm familiar with - however brief!)

It's always interesting to see why or when a title was chosen for a book. This one has a great quote from Albert Einstein in the epigraph....."The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it." And this completely defines Maisie - she is one of the people who 'do'. This quality is one of the main reasons I have come to enjoy this character so much - her determination, her intellect, her compassion, her curiosity and her inability to let injustice go unnoticed.

"...he taught me about duty, about doing all in our power to bring a sense of...a sense of rest and calm to those left behind. I was - I am, I suppose - an advocate for the dead."

I found the ending quite satisfying - it was a 'return to roots' for Maisie. I will be very curious to see where Winspear takes her character from here. I will definitely be picking up the next book in the series - this is a character and author that I do quite like. Readers new to this author will want to start at the beginning to fully come to appreciate this character.

Heartbreak Hotel
Heartbreak Hotel
Price: CDN$ 9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars didn't she write The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, March 16 2015
This review is from: Heartbreak Hotel (Kindle Edition)
3.5/5 Deborah Moggach...didn't she write The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel? Yes, she did indeed - I loved that book - and the movie!

Moggach's new release, Heartbreak Hotel is just as heartwarming!

Retired actor Russell 'Buffy' Buffery has lived a rich full life, but now he finds himself somewhat lonely living in London. He doesn't know his neighbours, its noisy and crowded and his children (and there are many from assorted wives and liaisons!) are busy with their own lives. When an old flame leaves him her bed and breakfast in rural Wales, he decides to move in and run the place himself.

"...a new career beckoned. Luxuriantly bearded, his cheeks ruddy with claret, Buffy could take centre stage again, welcoming guests into his charming B and B in the picturesque town of Knockton, wherever that was. Log fires, bonhomie, brass beds made for lusty couplings - adulterers welcome! His Full English Breakfast, all organic of course, would become legendary. Perhaps he could even raise his own pigs."

Uh huh. The B and B isn't quite what he pictured - it needs a little work and the whole running of a B and B might be a bit more work than Buffy had thought.....

I loved this character. He's a rascal, but a lovable one. He's got the gift of gab and folks naturally gravitate towards him, spilling their thoughts over a glass of something. Moggach introduces a number of other characters, all unhappy with their relationships - or lack thereof. And Buffy has a revelation - he could run Courses for Divorces! All the skills that newly singles might need - car maintenance, gardening and more. Brilliant! The place will be booked solid! (You can take some of these courses on Deborah's website)

Moggach fills her novel and the B and B will a wonderfully quirky cast of characters and situations. Through the ruminations and lives of Buffy and company, Moggach dissects, explores and celebrates love - of all kinds and of all ages. There are many supporting players, but it was Buffy I enjoyed the most.

Me? I'd love to have a little cottage in Knockton and stroll down the pub for a natter. Heartbreak Hotel was a humourous, touching, fun to read novel sure to appeal to those who loved 'Marigold'. Read an excerpt of Heartbreak Hotel.

I mentioned I love the movie of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - and have just discovered The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has just been released. I would love to see Heartbreak Hotel made into a movie as well. I can totally picture Timothy Spall as Buffy.

The Edge of Dreams
The Edge of Dreams
by Rhys Bowen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.80
27 used & new from CDN$ 17.91

4.0 out of 5 stars 5/5 I'm familiar with Rhys Bowen's name - her books have been recommended to me by patrons who know I enjoy mysteries, March 15 2015
This review is from: The Edge of Dreams (Hardcover)
3.5/5 I'm familiar with Rhys Bowen's name - her books have been recommended to me by patrons who know I enjoy mysteries. Bowen's latest book, The Edge of Dreams is the fourteenth entry in the Molly Murphy series - but a first for this reader - and it won't be my last!

Molly is the wife of Daniel Sullivan, a New York Police captain at the turn of the century. Even though this book is quite far along in the series, I was able to easily become familiar with the characters and their lives.

Daniel has been receiving taunting notes from a serial killer. The pressure is on the police to find him before he kills again. But when Molly is involved in a serious 'accident', the case may be getting too close to home. Although he is reluctant to bring his work home, he does share his concerns with Molly. Molly has a wonderfully nimble mind. Before her marriage, she worked as a private detective.

Bowen captures the time periods and its mores perfectly. Historical events are woven throughout the story. I loved the detail of time and place as well. Day to day activities, cooking and shopping and more paint a warm picture of days gone by. I quite enjoyed the polite sparring between Molly and her mother-in-law over what 'correct' behavior should entail.

Supporting characters 'Gus' and 'Sid' are wonderfully avant garde, living life according to their own rules. Gus has studied with Sigmund Freud exploring his dream theories. This study is called into play with the second plot line of The Edge of Dreams. A young woman's family has died in what initially appears to be a terrible accident. But was it? Why is she unharmed? She can't remember anything but fragments of dreams and nightmares. Can this new method unlock answers?

Molly investigates quietly and capably, without drawing attention to herself or stepping on her husband's toes, both personally and professionally. The relationship between Molly and Daniel is particularly well written - kind, loving and believable. I enjoyed the measured pace of the investigations and the 'old fashioned' methods employed to solve the mysteries.

Bowen has crafted a pair of good whodunits that were somewhat easy to solve, but it was fun to solve them along with Molly and Daniel. But, for this reader, it is the characters that will have me returning to this historical mystery series.

The Counterfeit Heiress: A Lady Emily Mystery (Lady Emily Mysteries)
The Counterfeit Heiress: A Lady Emily Mystery (Lady Emily Mysteries)
Offered by Macmillan CA
Price: CDN$ 13.99

4.0 out of 5 stars This was such a fun period piece, March 15 2015
This latest entry finds Lady Emily at a masquerade ball. Another guest seems to mistake her for someone else. There is someone costumed very similarly to Emily, but this woman is passing herself off as a reclusive heiress named Estella. She is caught out by Cecile, a friend of both Estella and Emily. The impostor is later found dead on the grounds of estate. Who was she? Why was she impersonating Estella? Who was the man who approached Emily? And - where is the real Estella? Along with her husband Colin, who handles inquiries for the Queen, friends Cecile and Jeremy, the quartet begins investigating a case that takes them from London to Paris.

This was such a fun period piece! Alexander has done her research - I found the detail so interesting - from societal customs and mores, day to day living, but especially the tombs and catacombs. Bookish references (Charles Dickens) are always enjoyed by this reader.

Alexander's dialogue is quick, smart and and rapier sharp between all of the main characters. The relationship between Emily and Colin is loving, but saucy!

Historical mysteries are always lovely to sit down and savour. The action is slower and the solving of the puzzle more methodical. As readers we are privy to more information that our protagonists have in The Counterfeit Heiress. Estella's story unfolds in chapters alternating the investigation. Midway, I had an idea of what would be the outcome, but I was more than happy to enjoy the journey to the final pages.

Definitely recommended for historical fiction fans.

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