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Content by Luanne Ollivier
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Luanne Ollivier

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Magictodoor Small Vintage Canvas Messenger Bag Ipad Shoulder Bag Travel Portfolio Bag
Magictodoor Small Vintage Canvas Messenger Bag Ipad Shoulder Bag Travel Portfolio Bag
Offered by MagicToDoor
Price: CDN$ 34.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I was quite pleased when I opened my parcel, Dec 6 2015
I was quite pleased when I opened my parcel. I knew this bag was just what I had in mind. I was looking for a lightweight, hands free satchel type purse that I could wear cross body for security while flying, shopping etc.The accent pieces are khaki coloured leather and match the colour of the stitching. The stitching itself is even with no stray threads. The closing front clasps are magnetic with a nice polished bronze colour on the front - the snap closed very well. The zipper is nicely sown in and feels like it will stand up to a lot of opening and closing. It too has a leather pull tab.

The one 'outside' pouch is about an inch deep and my ipad fit in nicely. Inside the main part of the satchel a fairly deep, lined, zippered compartment and two other defined 'pouch' pockets that would fit a phone, keys etc. It's about 12" deep and will fit quite a bit of stuff. The base is about 3"with room to expand. But I won't be overfilling it - this is the perfect bag for essentials.

The shoulder strap matches, is very sturdy and adjustable. The buckle adjuster is solid as are the two metal rings that attach the strap to the leather side loop of the purse.

I've been using the bag for about a week now and am really happy with it. It's sturdy, convenient - and I love the retro look.

Etekcity 8GB Portable Rechargeable Digital Voice Recorder
Etekcity 8GB Portable Rechargeable Digital Voice Recorder
Offered by Etekcity Corp
Price: CDN$ 39.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This voice recorder was a perfect solution. I'm using it for my weekly shopping ..., Dec 6 2015
My order arrived promptly and was packaged securely. USB cable and earbuds include. In this world of online devices, I was only looking for a small, simple device that I could use without having to type information in. This voice recorder was a perfect solution. I'm using it for my weekly shopping and to do lists - I can easily add to and review this anytime. The other definitive use I had was to use it for was to record my thoughts as I read a book that I would later review.

You could indeed use the record feature for lectures etc. There are timer settings/voice activated settings and more.

This unit is not only a voice recorder, but it can hold music or audio files. I just downloaded an audiobook from the library and easily transferred it from my computer to the device with no problem. The speaker quality is surprisingly good for such a small unit. I like that it will play without the earbuds. Earbud quality is okay, but I will most likely swap them out for my own faves.

The recorder is small, slim and easily tucked into a purse or pocket for easy access.And though it has nothing to do with functionality - it just looks nice.

I did have to spend a bit of time learning the menu and options, but the instructions were clear and well written. A bit more use and I won't have to refer to them. I did find it slightly awkward to have to use side then front buttons to toggle through the menus.

The price is right and the unit performed as promised. I received this product in exchange for an unbiased and honest review. This review contains only my thoughts and opinions.

Rogue Lawyer
Rogue Lawyer
by John Grisham
Edition: Audio CD
Price: CDN$ 32.76
15 used & new from CDN$ 21.85

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I must admit - I haven't loved every one (last year's Gray Mountain was a miss ..., Dec 2 2015
This review is from: Rogue Lawyer (Audio CD)
I've been a John Grisham fan from his first book. Now, I must admit - I haven't loved every one (last year's Gray Mountain was a miss for me.) But I really enjoyed his newest book - Rogue Lawyer.

My favourite characters are the non-conformists, those who colour outside of the lines. You just never know where such a character will take a story. Lawyer Sebastian Rudd definitely walks a questionable line. His clients are usually the ones no one else will take on, his office is a bulletproof van, his driver is his bodyguard/paralegal and he's not above chicanery and deals to get his clients off. Readers of legal thrillers may notice a resemblance to Michael Connelly's Lincoln Lawyer character. But Grisham puts his own spin and stamp on things.

Rogue Lawyer is almost a collection of short stories, but they're bound together as common threads are found in each - past cases and clients, Rudd's personal life, his ongoing dealings with the cops and prosecutors. I really enjoyed this format. Rather than one long, drawn out case, there were numerous and varied cases - all of them equally gripping - murder, abduction, death row, home invasion and more. I found myself eagerly awaiting the next trial, curious to see what Grisham would throw next at Rudd.

And yes, some of his motives are questionable, but I just couldn't help but like the guy. (I'd like to hear more from this character - a second book and a new slew of cases would be great.)

The courtroom scenes all benefit from Grisham's expertise. I am always fascinated by the behind the scenes look at the legal wrangling. And I wonder how many of the 'iffy' stratagems really do happen?

I chose to listen to Rogue Lawyer (the drive to work and back seems much shorter listening to a book instead of a radio station.) The reader was award winning narrator Mark Deakins - he has an 'attitude' to his voice that suited the mental image I had created for Sebastian. His reading is very expressive, capturing the tone, the pacing and the action of Rogue Lawyer. I was quite surprised to see the mixed bag of ratings for this title. Me? I really enjoyed it.

Keeping Christmas
Keeping Christmas
by Dan Walsh
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 16.01
16 used & new from CDN$ 11.97

3.0 out of 5 stars I love reading Christmas fiction in the weeks leading up to ..., Nov. 30 2015
This review is from: Keeping Christmas (Hardcover)
Dan Walsh's new (and timely) book is Keeping Christmas.

I love reading Christmas fiction in the weeks leading up to December 25th. Keeping Christmas was especially timely for me.

Judith and Stan Winters are empty nesters. But, for the first time, none of their three children can make it home for the holidays - Thanksgiving or Christmas. This affects Judith greatly - she has no interest in putting up a tree, listening to Christmas music or any of their usual traditions. Stan is not as affected - but he is worried about Judith as weeks go by and she is still uninspired - and depressed. Supportive friends Betty and Barney are also concerned.

Walsh has penned a story with it's roots in reality. It is incredibly hard to celebrate when family is scattered across the country. (Personally I thank goodness for Facetime!)

Through Judith's story, Walsh explores finding your Christmas spirit despite disappointments, finding new ways to celebrate and connect and thinking of others.

"What he did say was for those who loved the holidays to be mindful of those who found it harder to celebrate, and to do what they could to cheer them up. And he urged those who struggle to try to keep their minds on the 'reason for the season' rather than focusing on all the things that tend to bring them down during the holidays." Good words to take to heart.

Without giving much away, Keeping Christmas is also a love story and an exploration of friendship and family.

Keeping Christmas won't overly surprise you - the plot is somewhat telegraphed. What it will provide is food for thought, perfect for contemplating the coming holidays and how each of us can reach out and share the Christmas spirit.

It's a quick, easy read, at just over 200 pages. A heartfelt, heart-warming read, with a bit of a fairy tale ending.

The Lake House: A Novel
The Lake House: A Novel
by Kate Morton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 25.00
25 used & new from CDN$ 19.38

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars is an absolutely fantastic read. I was hooked from the opening page, Nov. 23 2015
Kate Morton has done it again - her latest release, The Lake House, is an absolutely fantastic read.

I was hooked from the opening page...

1933. "Back when it first happened she'd considered confessing, and perhaps, in the beginning, she might have. She'd missed her chance though and now it was too late. Too much had happened: the search parties, the policemen, the articles in the newspapers pleading for information. There was no one she could tell, no way to fix it, no way they would ever forgive her. The only thing left was to bury the evidence."

What happened? Who is speaking?

Morton again employs a then and now narrative from 1933 to the current 2003. (I love this format - but it keeps me up very late reading 'just one more chapter'!) One of the main characters is writer Alice Edevane, who pens "crime novels reviewers liked to describe as 'psychologically taut' and 'morally ambiguous whydunits' as much as they were whos or hows." But, the greatest mystery in Alice's life is what happened to her wee brother Theo in 1933. Alice now makes her home in London, but still owns the Edevane family's Cornwall country house, unlived in for over seventy years. Detective Sadie Sparrow is on forced leave from the London force and retreats to her grandfather's home in Cornwall. While on a run, she stumbles across the abandoned estate deep in the woods.

Delicious, delicious premise!

Morton transports us back to 1933, a time of innocence, a time of stricter social mores, a time where duty and responsibility took precedence, a time where 'things' were kept quiet and secrets were born. Morton's description of the country estate, Loeanneth, the rooms, the halls, the grounds - and the lake house, were vivid and detailed, creating a rich backdrop for the events that take place. And in seventy years, we see the estate through the eyes of Sadie. The grounds seem to echo and exude the memories of the family and its past glory. "Something niggled about this place. An odd feeling had come over her since she'd climbed through the gate, an inexplicable sense of things being not quite right."

The characters were just as richly drawn. I had a strong mental image of every character, no matter how minor their role. (I must admit to Alice being my favourite.)

And then there's the plotting. Brilliant. The past is slowly revealed in the 1933 chapters, with bits and pieces being added as the book progresses. Morton has the reader thinking one way, then changes direction with each new revelation added. In the present, that same past is being just as slowly uncovered. The reader is lucky enough to be privy to both stories - we know more that Alice and Sadie. Or do we? I was quite sure I could predict where and what the endgame would be - and I'm happy to say I was wrong. Along with the intensely intricate plot Morton has woven, a secondary theme of mothers and motherhood is explored.

As Sadie says..."there was nothing as thrilling as unravelling a puzzle, particularly one like this..." The Lake House is absolutely, positively recommended - it's one of my fave reads for 2015.

Midnight Sun: A novel
Midnight Sun: A novel
by Jo Nesbo
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 24.87
2 used & new from CDN$ 24.87

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars he's a bad guy with a good streak and a conscience, Nov. 18 2015
This review is from: Midnight Sun: A novel (Hardcover)
Midnight Sun is the second book in Jo Nesbo's Blood on Snow series.

What ties these two together is The Fisherman, crime kingpin of Oslo. Jon worked for The Fisherman selling drugs and other 'special' jobs as needed. Except Jon couldn't do it - he couldn't kill. So now he's run to a remote village at the top of Norway where the sun never sets. And he took along drugs and money that weren't his to take - and The Fisherman wants it back....

A local woman, Lea, and her son Knut, give Jon shelter in an old hunting cabin. But after a few days of the sun never setting, the flat unending landscape and being alone in the small cabin, he craves people - and alcohol. So he heads to the village....

Nesbo's description of the village and the landscape creates an sense of otherworldly isolation that mirrors what Jon is feeling. The eclectic residents and their behavior keeps both Jon and the reader wondering what could happen next.

Even though Jon, aka Ulf, is a 'bad' guy, he's a bad guy with a good streak and a conscience. The reader can't help but hope that he escapes those after him and that maybe, just maybe, he's got another shot at a good life. Sami culture and the Laestadian religion are woven into the story - redemption is a major theme and plays a part in more than one character's life.

I love the noir, staccato pace of Nesbo's writing - think of a Tarantino movie put to print. For me, another great read from Nesbo.

(I have no idea if Nesbo will ever resurrect Harry Hole - but I do miss him.)

The Further Adventures of Ebenezer Scrooge
The Further Adventures of Ebenezer Scrooge
by Charlie Lovett
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 19.17
27 used & new from CDN$ 12.52

4.0 out of 5 stars but their hearts lacked the true wealth of love, of family, Nov. 16 2015
3.5 Have you started your holiday reading yet? No? Well, here's one to add to your list - The Further Adventures of Ebenezer Scrooge by Charlie Lovett. (And I have a copy to giveaway as well as a bonus book!)

You read that right - further adventures. Lovett imagines what might have occurred after Scrooge was visited by the three ghosts and changed his outlook on Christmas - and life - in Charles Dickens' book A Christmas Carol.

Well, Scrooge is celebrating year round - wishing everyone he meets a Merry Christmas each day of the year. But those who benefitted from Scrooge's change of heart twenty years ago have also lost their way. Partner Bob Cratchit is a workaholic, nephew Freddie ignores the plight of those around him and Scrooge's creditors can't see the human side of his largess, only the debts. So one summer's day, Scrooge calls upon the ghosts to help them as they did him so many years ago.

Lovett writes in the style of Dickens (sometimes employing phrasing and referencing Dickens' other works) to recreate the tenor, tone and message of A Christmas Carol.

The Further Adventures of Ebenezer Scrooge is a lovely reminder that "...scores and hundreds understood the ways of wealth and money and even of philanthropy, but their hearts lacked the true wealth of love, of family, of Christmas joy, which, he now saw, might have been theirs all the year round."

The Further Adventures of Ebenezer Scrooge is a quick little one night read. Guaranteed to put you in the holiday spirit - hopefully year round!

Price: CDN$ 6.94

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars But what I do know is that I'm going to enjoy it. Elizabeth fought wildfires as a profession for ..., Nov. 11 2015
This review is from: Smoke (Kindle Edition)
I've been a fan of Catherine McKenzie from her first book. She's just released her fifth novel - Smoke. Each of the previous four books have been completely different reads - I never know what to expect when I start one of her books. But what I do know is that I'm going to enjoy it.

Elizabeth fought wildfires as a profession for over ten years, travelling to where she was needed. Its taken a toll on her personal life though. So, now she stays put, living with her husband in a quiet mountain town in the Rockies. Instead, she works as an investigator for the town's attorney. But when an out of control fire threatens the entire town, her skills as an arson investigator are called into play again.

Elizabeth's ex-friend Mindy is also worried about the fire. She knows something is 'off' with her teenage son - and has been for quite a while. And whether or not she wants to admit it, she wonders if he might have had something to do with starting the fire.

Smoke is told in alternating chapters from both women. I really enjoy dual narrative novels - a second look at a same event and/or two stories that will intersect farther down the road as more is revealed.

Although the fire is the stage for the novel, there's much more to Smoke. The personal lives of Elizabeth and Mindy are explored - motherhood, friendship, love, marriage and secrets. While Elizabeth is the 'lead' character, I found myself more drawn to Mindy. I didn't like Elizabeth's secret keeping from her husband - and her justification for those choices. Mindy has made some questionable choices as well, but I was more inclined to forgive her. Her 'redemption', if you will, appealed to me more. McKenzie does a great job of creating a 'mean girls' group that Mindy hangs out with. (But I do want to know what happened to the siphoned library money?) The petulant and aggressive teens are also well drawn.

The mystery of who started the fire runs through the entire book of course. I did have the 'whodunit' sussed out before the end, but quite enjoyed the journey to the final reveal. The fire, the methods used to fight it and the mindset of a firefighter were well researched and believable.

I'm always intrigued by cover choices and titles. I'm not overwhelmed with this cover, but the title made me think of the old adage - "Where there's smoke, there's fire." And its applicable in so many ways to much of the plot line and many of the characters in Smoke.

Smoke is another engaging, easy read from McKenzie. Those who enjoy contemporary women's fiction with a touch of mystery will enjoy Smoke.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Bilingual)
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Thomas Mann
Price: CDN$ 10.75
4 used & new from CDN$ 10.75

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars going unnoticed and being on good terms with all the different groups at his high ..., Nov. 9 2015
3.5 I'm not sure why, but there's a plethora of 'dying teen' movies being made. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is recently released from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. It's based on the novel of the same name by Jesse Andrews.

Greg Gaines has worked hard at blending in, going unnoticed and being on good terms with all the different groups at his high school. Oh, and he makes quirky little films with his 'co-worker' Earl. He's coasting along just fine. Until his mother insists he spend time with Rachel who is battling cancer. They really don't know each other very well....but things change as he and Rachel become unlikely friends. Greg is forced to confront the truths that Rachel lays out - about both herself and him.

Great casting! Thomas Mann is wonderful as Greg - his glib banter and self-deprecating manner hide his lack of confidence. The connection between him and Rachel (Olivia Cooke) is absolutely believable. Cooke masterfully underplays her role - any louder or affected would not have worked. I must admit that Earl (newcomer R.J. Cyler) kinda stole the show for me. Again the relationship between Earl and Greg really works. Molly Shannon as Rachel's mom brought me some Saturday Night Live flashback moments. Jon Bernthal plays teacher Mr. McCarthy. Although his appearance is quite different, I still had a hard time not associating him with his Walking Dead role.

Now you might think that the plot would veer off into doomed dying girl teen romance territory. And I thought it was going to as well. Not so. Instead, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl explores friendships on many levels, coming of age, loss, love and more. Humorous, sad, quirky. An indie kind of take on what seems to be a newly recurring style of 'teen' film.

Cinematically, I found some of the long lens and fish eye shots took away from the movie for me. I started focusing on whether or not that staircase could truly be that steep instead of the dialogue happening. But, movies play a large role in Greg's life and the film, so I can understand why director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon would add some artistic touches. (Now this is just me, but I really didn't enjoy Greg's movies - and while Greg's final film has it's moments, I wasn't blown away)

All in all, I enjoyed Me and Earl and the Dying Girl - winner of the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

Depraved Heart: A Scarpetta novel (Kay Scarpetta)
Depraved Heart: A Scarpetta novel (Kay Scarpetta)
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Price: CDN$ 16.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I just haven't enjoyed the last few books - they seemed mired in ..., Nov. 4 2015
3.5I started with the first book (Postmortem) in Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta series way back in 1990 when forensic mysteries were becoming popular. Her latest release, Depraved Heart, is the 23rd entry in this series.

Now, I must admit, I just haven't enjoyed the last few books - they seemed mired in extraneous detail and became repetitive. But I was willing to give this latest a go. And up front, I want to say, I did enjoy Depraved Heart.

Scarpetta and Marino are at the scene of what appears to be the accidental death of a wealthy young woman when a video link appears and starts playing on Kay's phone. Although her policy is to never interrupt a scene investigation with personal calls, she is powerless to stop watching. The video is a twenty year old video of her niece Lucy - and her then lover Carrie Grethem. Grethem was thought to be dead, but surfaced in the last book and attempted to kill Kay. It looks like she's back and still determined to wreak havoc with Kay and her family.

"The FBI placed the niece I raised like a daughter into a psychopathic monster's care, and that decision changed the course of our lives. It has changed absolutely everything."

Depraved Heart picks up two months after the abrupt ending of the last book, Flesh and Blood. Readers who have kept up with the Scarpetta books will have a better understanding of this perpetrator and plotting.

One key element of Depraved Heart is the concept of 'data fiction'. "It's what can happen if we're so reliant on technology that we become completely dependent on things we can't see. Therefore we can no longer judge for ourselves what's true, what's false, what's accurate, what isn't. In other words if reality is defined by software that does all the work for us, then what if this software lies? What if everything we believe isn't true but is a facade, a mirage?"

I was fascinated - and somewhat disturbed - with this notion. (I thought of how much time I spend online...) Are the videos (yes there's more than one) true? Or false? Is Benton lying to her? Who and what can she believe and trust? The reader sees the entire book unfold through Scarpetta's eyes and thoughts.

Marino is a perennial favourite of mine and this time Scarpetta seems to be a little kinder towards him. For the life of me, I have no idea why she stays with Benton. Lucy just annoys me, but I think there's more of a forthcoming story with her new partner Janet.

The book takes place during a twenty four hour period. The book moves along quickly as Kay and Marino attempt to deal with both their latest case - and the apparent danger to Lucy. The tension is palpable as everyone's actions and motives are called into question. I was easily caught up in the story and possibilities. Cornwell does weave an intricate plot, one I appreciated. (But one glaring omission by investigators, that is mentioned and is part of the final whodunit, will be caught by sharp eyed readers.)

The title? "Legal definition of Depraved Heart - 'Void of social duty and fatally bent on mischief.' Mayes V. People, Illinois Supreme Court. 1883."

The ending leaves the door open for a continued story in this vein. Although I quite enjoyed this latest entry more than the last few, a wee bit of me thinks it's time to end this ongoing storyline and give readers a fresh mystery and investigation next time 'round.

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