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Luanne Ollivier
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Hush Hush: A Tess Monaghan Novel
Hush Hush: A Tess Monaghan Novel
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Price: CDN$ 16.99

4.0 out of 5 stars did I do a happy dance when I heard there was a new Tess ..., March 10 2015
Oh, did I do a happy dance when I heard there was a new Tess Monoghan book coming from Laura Lippman! Hush Hush is newly released - and was quickly devoured by this Lippman fan.

Lippman has written several stand alones in the last few years, but her iconic private investigator Tess is back in the 12th entry in this series - the first since 2008's Girl in the Green Raincoat. Lippman has given us tantalizing glimpses into Tess's life through that last book and a cameo or two in her recent standalones. I was eager to catch up with what's been going on in Tess's life - and follow along with another great mystery.

She and partner Crow are the now the parents of three year old Carla Scout. The trials and tribulations of being working parents and the day to day life of a young family are detailed in the personal storyline of Hush Hush. But motherhood and parenthood are also at the heart of the crime of Hush Hush. (And fact mirrors truth in Hush Hush - Lippman is also parent to a young daughter, giving her narrative added depth and insight).

Ten years ago, Melisandre was found not guilty by reason of insanity after she let her two month old daughter die in a hot car - as she sat under a shade tree nearby. Having now been pronounced 'fit', she has returned to Baltimore to reconnect with her two older daughters. But she has chosen to make a documentary of her 'return' - ostensibly to help others recognize the dangers of postpartum depression. Although her premise is noble, her intentions may not be. Tess is hired by her lawyer to provide security analysis and support for this venture.

Favourite characters return (Crow and Kitty) and new ones are added - I remember wishing Sandy would make further appearances and he has - as Tess's new work partner. Carla Scout's personality and dialogue had me chuckling out loud. Tess's view of the world has changed with the arrival of her child - I very much enjoyed and appreciated Lippman's portrayal of parenthood. All sides are explored - good and bad. "What a thin line separates good parents from bad parents."The antagonist of Hush Hush is just as well drawn - but she is so unlikable that it's hard to feel sympathy for her in spite of her past.

"The rage she felt at that moment- it was like nothing she had ever known. It wasn't madness, which was the term Melisandre had always preferred for her illness. Unfashionable and imprecise as it was, madness seemed right to her. There had been something vicious inside her, something apart from her, all those years ago."

Hush Hush is told from more than one viewpoint - Tess, Melisandre, her daughters, the transcripts of the film maker and others- giving the reader much more information than Tess is working with. I had my suspicions nearing the end, but Lippman kept me guessing most of the way.

Lippman is a Baltimore native - her descriptions of time and place are so very real. Hush Hush is another fantastic novel from Laura Lippman - again reminding me why she is one of my favourite crime novelists.

The Intern's Handbook: A John Lago Thriller
The Intern's Handbook: A John Lago Thriller
by Shane Kuhn
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.00
31 used & new from CDN$ 7.84

4.0 out of 5 stars I thought The Intern's Handbook was a fun read - yes it's about hired killers - but ..., March 4 2015
They're everywhere. You just might not see them - or overlook them as your gaze sweeps around your workplace. They're somewhat invisible. They're.....interns.

From the opening pages of Shane Kuhn's novel The Intern's Handbook.

"You can tell executives your name a hundred times and they will never remember it because they have no respect for someone living at the bottom of the barrel, working for free. The irony is that they will heap important duties on you with total abandon. The more of these duties you voluntarily accept, the more you will get, simultaneously acquiring TRUST AND ACCESS. Ultimately, your target will trust you with his life and that is when you will take it."

Uh huh - paid assassins from a little company known as Human Resources Inc. John Lago is one of the senior ops - he's almost twenty five and won't be able to pass himself off as an intern for much longer. The Intern's Handbook is words of wisdom for those coming behind him - and a detailed description of his last job. One that doesn't go to plan. At all.

I thought The Intern's Handbook was a fun read - yes it's about hired killers - but it's darkly humourous. The dialogue is razor sharp and witty. Yes, some of the scenes and actions are over the top, but it makes for one heck of an action packed read. As I was reading, I started thinking this would make a great action film. Well, Kuhn himself is a screenwriter - and it shows. He absolutely knows how to write a fast moving thriller. And The Intern's Handbook is indeed going to be a movie (starring James Franco - good choice!) For those who might be thinking this is a male oriented book? I don't think I mentioned Alice - the FBI agent who puts a wrinkle or two into John's last job.

Keep your eye out for the next John Lago (and Alice!) book - Hostile Takeover - due out in July of 2015. Readers who enjoyed Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell would enjoy this book. Fair warning - gentle readers may be offended by some situations and language.

Seat Cushion - Firm Orthopedic, Coccyx Cushion with Natural Balance Ball Relieve Back Pain, Coccyx Pain, Sciatica & Corrects Postures. Sure Shot Results or 1 Year Hassle Free Money Back Guarantee!
Seat Cushion - Firm Orthopedic, Coccyx Cushion with Natural Balance Ball Relieve Back Pain, Coccyx Pain, Sciatica & Corrects Postures. Sure Shot Results or 1 Year Hassle Free Money Back Guarantee!

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The covering is a grey polyester velour like fabric that is somewhat slippery, March 4 2015
As I do spend a lot of time sitting in front of the computer, I thought this chair seat cushion would help alleviate the numb nether regions that occur after too long without standing up. I also decided to have my husband give me his thoughts.

The item arrived quickly. As I had been offered this item in exchange for a review, I checked out everything, including the box. There are lots of pics and points illustrated to let you know what Bael believes their cushion can help you with. Unfortunately there are a few typos on the box. "Slops, edges and curves...." Should be slopes. And nowhere on the box could I find the country of manufacture. Okay, on to the cushion itself.

The covering is a grey polyester velour like fabric that is somewhat slippery. Depending on the chair type used, this could be a bit dangerous. Grippers or less slippery fabric on the bottom may be a better idea. The carrying handle on the side of mine was sewn on slightly crooked. The width of the carrying handle was too small for my husband's hand. The box shows two manufacturer labels - from what I can see, one says 'Notice..and I can't make out the rest. That label was not present on my cushion. In fact no notice was visible at all. It was only when I opened up the cover to look at the memory foam that I found one. There are some care instructions for the cover, but still no country of origin. I did find an air bubble in one of the sides of the top of my cushion. I'm not sure if this would break down over time, but right now it's only a divot you can depress with your finger that doesn't seem to impact the overall effect.

Bael is touting this cushion as "medically proven orthopedic comfort." "Medically proven cut-out section. Corrects postures.Treats back pain naturally" I went on their website to check things out further. I couldn't find any specific medical research listed at all. There is a short video of a woman showing off the cushion. Unfortunately it looks self filmed as the box shot is backwards.

The cushion does fit into our office chairs. It was too large for my kitchen chairs. I found it awkward in the car. The memory foam depresses quite a bit - to the point where it's almost flat - I might as well not be sitting on a cushion. This also further widened the tailbone cutaway. It does spring back well when the user stands up. The cutaway for the tailbone at the back was too large for me. Part of my buttocks were slipping into this cutaway. as the foam depressed. My husband is larger than me and it was fine for him. But I wonder at what prolonged use would do to the foam re: springing back.

Bottom line - I have passed this to my husband - he says he'll use it on his 'gaming' chair. I myself will pass.

The Wild Truth Unabridged CD: The Untold Story Of Sibling Survival
The Wild Truth Unabridged CD: The Untold Story Of Sibling Survival
by Carine McCandless
Edition: Audio CD
Price: CDN$ 43.50
16 used & new from CDN$ 21.75

4.0 out of 5 stars the book reveals what life was like for children in this home, Feb. 27 2015
3.5/5 I read John Krakauer's book Into the Wild back in 1996. I remember being unable to put the book down and that my emotions were all over the place. And yes, I cried in the final pages. But throughout it all was the question - why? When Sean Penn made a movie of the same name, I decided not to see it. After all, I knew how it ended right?

But although the ending is known, perhaps not so much for the beginning. And the answer to that question - why?

Twenty two years after Chris McCandless starved to death alone in an old bus in Alaska, his sister Carine McCandless has decided to provide some answers to that question - why - in her new book The Wild Truth.

I chose to listen to this book as it was McCandless herself who read it. I find hearing the words spoken out loud from the person who lived it is powerful. Carine's story is by turns horrifying and heartbreaking. It is a story of secrets and domestic violence.

And here's my dilemma. Yes, the book reveals what life was like for children in this home. And, yes I can see why Chris left to find his own peace. I appreciate Carine's candor in finally exposing the secrets her family held. So, although the book's main premise is to shed light on Chris's past and on his choices, the book is really about Carine.

And I enjoyed listening to it. I appreciate the candor and honesty of exposing one's self and life to the world. But a wee part of me wonders why Carine continued to have contact with her parents over the next twenty years - asking for financial assistance, trying to mediate their fights and hoping for a breakthrough. Some pretty horrific stuff is described as happening with her parents and Chris's leaving makes sense. And I know - 'walk a mile....' but I am a loss as to why Carine continued to interact with what are described as thoroughly toxic and dysfunctional parents. Still, I found The Wild Truth a compelling listen, no matter the focus.

From an interview with Outside magazine: Carine - "The book is about Chris, but it’s more of a survival story. The best way I can help people learn from Chris and our experiences and our childhood is to show them directly how I learned from Chris and how I learned from our family’s dysfunction, how I survived. So I utilize myself in both positive and self-deprecating ways. I can’t criticize other people for not learning from mistakes if I don’t acknowledge my own mistakes and what I learned. This book very much goes into all of that."

The Devil You Know: A Novel
The Devil You Know: A Novel
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Price: CDN$ 13.99

3.0 out of 5 stars de Mariaffi does a great job ratcheting up the tension with seemingly innocent sounds ..., Feb. 25 2015
The Devil You Know is Elisabeth de Mariaffi's first novel. Her previous short story collection was longlisted for the Giller Prize.

de Mariaffi sets her book in 1993 Toronto. Paul Bernardo has just been arrested and young reporter Evie Jones has been assigned to the story. It's suspected that Bernardo is also the Scarborough rapist that terrorized Toronto women in the late eighties before moving on to murder.

Evie's childhood friend Lianne was also abducted when the girls were young, with her body found eleven days later. This past event is never far from Evie's mind and colours much of her present. When she looks out her apartment window one night and sees a hooded man standing on the fire escape staring back, her anxiety levels ratchet even higher. As she continues to investigate Lianne's death, she finds disturbing connections to her own life. But is she really seeing someone or imagining it? Are those footsteps someone behind her? Did she leave her door unlocked? Is there someone else in the room with her? de Mariaffi does a great job ratcheting up the tension with seemingly innocent sounds and innocuous actions taking on sinister tones and meaning.

Evie was a difficult character for me. Although I knew I should feel some greater sense of sympathy or empathy for her, she made me angry with her careless actions. Some of her decisions seem at great odds with her mental state and fears - especially in the last few chapters. I did enjoy the voice of reason from David, Evie's friend. David's father was especially creepy.

de Mariaffi does capture time and place extremely well. She herself grew up in Toronto during this time period. And de Mariaffi's best childhood friend Sharin' Morningstar Keenan was indeed murdered. And this is where I start having a problem with the book. I'm old enough to remember these crimes, the warnings and the increased dangers associated with being a woman in Toronto at that time. But I also remember the victims of Bernardo's crimes. de Mariaffi uses those facts and names in her book. The murder and possible suspect of Lianne's killing is also drawn from Keenan's case. I can't imagine the families of Leslie Mahaffy, Kristen French or Allison Parrot need reminders of their daughters deaths used in a fictional work.

de Marriaffi's blending of fact and fiction just didn't work for me. Inserting her own character and her experience into borrowed real life situations seems a bit too easy. Can I also mention that Charles Manson also figures in a plot that stretched incredulity to the breaking point by the end. I found de Mariaffi's exclusion of quotation marks and one person point of view narrative annoying. Overall, this was a miss for me and just didn't live up to the publisher's blurbs "In the vein of Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects".

The Long And Faraway Gone: A Novel
The Long And Faraway Gone: A Novel
by Lou Berney
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.36
38 used & new from CDN$ 6.33

4.0 out of 5 stars I remember I really enjoyed the characters, Feb. 24 2015
I listened to Lou Berney's second book, Whiplash River a few years ago. I remember I really enjoyed the characters, the plot and the dialogue - well, yes - everything!

I was eager to read his newly released third book, The Long and Faraway Gone .

Summer of 1968. Oklahoma City. Six employees of a small movie theatre are brutally executed. Inexplicably, the seventh staff member is spared. That same summer, a teenage girl disappears from the state fair - her body is never found.

Twenty five years later, Genevieve's sister Julianna is still pursuing the case and looking for her sister on her own. The lone survivor of the movie theatre killings is now a private investigator who has renamed himself Wyatt.

Initially, it was the mysteries in the The Long and Faraway Gone that intrigued me - why was Wyatt spared? Did Genevieve leave town on her own or was she taken? Yes, those questions are the basis of Berney's plot, but it is the exploration of the past and the search for those answers that was the standout for this reader.

I mentioned that the characters and dialogue captured me in a previous book of Berneys. The same is true in The Long and Faraway Gone. From the opening pages, I was drawn in to Berney's story. His prose are easy,engaging and definitely entertaining. Berney has a quirky sense of humour, but is just as adept in bringing the poignant moments to the page as well. Loss on many levels for almost every character is a theme running throughout the book. There are many supporting characters that were fully fleshed out. I really enjoyed Candace - a woman who inherits a bar in Oklahoma City that ties into the past as well. I almost wish I knew what life held for her 'after'.

Berney himself lives and works in Oklahoma City. His first hand knowledge shows in the descriptions of time and place.

The final whodunit reveals are really good, but the journey there is even better. I'll be watching for Berney's next book. (and one last note - I really liked this cover.)

Little Black Lies
Little Black Lies
by Sandra Block
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.70
25 used & new from CDN$ 8.42

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I must admit the twist was a good one. But careful readers will suss out the ..., Feb. 18 2015
This review is from: Little Black Lies (Paperback)
3.5/5 3.5/5 Little Black Lies is Sandra Block's debut novel.

Zoe Goldman is a resident on the psychiatric ward of a Boston hospital. Balancing her work and personal life becomes even more challenging for Dr. Goldman when a difficult patient is assigned to her. This woman killed her mother as a teenager. Her case spurs Zoe to again try to piece together memories from her own past. She's adopted, has ADHD, fragmented nightmares and more. And the only woman who may have the key to unlock the past is succumbing to dementia.....

Block has crafted a calculated suspense novel with an eye for the finish line - and the final twist. I must admit the twist was a good one. But careful readers will suss out the reveal before the final chapters. Although I did, it didn't detract from my finishing or enjoying the rest of the book to confirm my suspicions. Some plot points do seem quite coincidental though, as do some actions and omissions on Zoe's part in investigating her past.

A love interest does add a nice side plot to a novel. Block includes two for Zoe - one (Mike) absolutely works. I really still can't figure out Jean-Luc's yes/no/maybe so inclusion in the story - it seemed extraneous to me.

Block is herself a doctor and the medical jargon (prescriptions) procedures, (hypnosis, therapy. etc.) diagnoses and treatment of mental illness absolutely reflect her 'insider' knowledge.

Those looking for a entertaining, light suspense novel will find it in Little Black Lies. Sandra Block is working on the second Zoe Goldman book.

A Memory Of Violets: A Novel Of London's Flower Sellers
A Memory Of Violets: A Novel Of London's Flower Sellers
by Hazel Gaynor
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.36
36 used & new from CDN$ 5.70

4.0 out of 5 stars Which is okay if I don't have to venture out - I am more than happy to curl up in my chair with a good ..., Feb. 17 2015
3.5/5 It's been bitterly cold in my neck of the woods this past week. Which is okay if I don't have to venture out - I am more than happy to curl up in my chair with a good story and look out at the snow!

This weekend found me curled up with Hazel Gaynor's newest novel, A Memory of Violets.

A Memory of Violets is a historical piece set in a time frame I enjoy - actually two time frames - 1876 and 1912 England.

1876. Florrie, her younger sister Rosie and their mother are flower sellers on the mean streets of London. When their mother dies, eight year old Florrie attempts to look after her blind sister. But the fates have different plans....Rosie disappears in the blink of an eye....and Florrie desperately searches for her.

1912. Tilly Harper accepts a housekeeping position at the Training Home for Watercress and Flower Girls. It's a home for crippled, orphaned destitute flower girls saved from those same mean streets. When Tilly goes to unpack her clothes into the wardrobe, she finds an old wooden box, a journal and many pressed flowers.

Now, as readers, we're privy to both past and present as the chapters alternate. We can easily see the connections even as Tilly reads her way through the past. Knowing the outcome early on (although Gaynor threw in an extra serendipitous connection I didn't see coming) did not detract from my enjoyment of this historical piece at all. I was quite fascinated with the main premise of Gaynor's novel and found myself on the Internet looking up this up. On finishing the novel and reading the author's notes, I found that Gaynor had based her novel on what I had discovered. John Groom did indeed open a flower girl mission in the setting described. Many of the details of Gaynor's story pay homage to Groom.

A Memory of Violets is a gentle, sentimental, heartwarming read, comforting in its sedate pacing. Love, family and friends lost and found, all wrapped in the fragrance of flowers - and a wee bit of magic.

A Man Called Ove
A Man Called Ove
by Fredrik Backman
Edition: MP3 CD
Price: CDN$ 37.55
14 used & new from CDN$ 22.40

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ove is the perfect archetype for the word 'curmudgeon', Feb. 15 2015
This review is from: A Man Called Ove (MP3 CD)
I first tried reading A Man Called Ove from Swedish author Fredrik Backman.

Ove is the perfect archetype for the word 'curmudgeon'. Everything is Ove's world is black and white, right and wrong. Rules are meant to be followed, signs are meant to be obeyed and Ove will let you know if you don't.

I read the first bit and actually felt quite sad. I didn't want to listen to a litany of complaints. (I have to listen to a few people like this at work - why bring it home?) I just thought this wasn't a book for me. But then I started hearing how much everyone loved it - and the library ordered the audio version - so I thought I would give it another go by listening. And am I ever glad I did!

The story came alive for me with George Newbern's reading. He captured the mental image I had created for Ove, but also gave him a humanity beyond the grousing. Ove's wife Sonia died four years ago and Ove has now decided that life is not worth living - suicide is on his list of things to do that day. Until a new, noisy family moves in next door. Of course they don't know how to back in a trailer. Ove will show them how to do it right. Suicide goes on the list for tomorrow. But then there's one more thing that Ove needs to oversee - and then another....

I can't believe I almost missed this wonderful tale! Backman is a gifted storyteller - I became completely invested in this little corner of the world, cheering on Ove as he rediscovers life - with a side of grumpy. If you liked The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, you will enjoy A Man Called Ove.

Girl Before a Mirror: A Novel
Girl Before a Mirror: A Novel
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Price: CDN$ 11.99

4.0 out of 5 stars I've read three of Liza Palmer's previous books and loved them all, Feb. 11 2015
I've read three of Liza Palmer's previous books and loved them all, especially her characters. I was eager to see what her latest book, Girl Before a Mirror, would be about and who the protagonist would be!

Anna Wyatt is has just turned forty years old. She's fairly successful in her career, but not so lucky in love. After a year's self imposed celibacy, she's hopeful and ready to dip her toes in the pool. An opportunity out of left field offers her the chance to succeed professionally - and presents the most unexpected opportunity for a romantic encounter - at a romance writer's convention.

I loved Anna. Palmer had me sold when Anna used "Marpling' as a verb in the first few pages.

"If people don't perceive you as a threat, how will they see you coming? They won't."

I liked that she was an older character. The supporting cast of characters is just as engaging - and you're either going to like them - or not. There's no doubt as to who the 'villains' in the book are. The reader can't help but become involved in the story and the outcome.

Those looking for a chick lit novel will find a bit more in Girl Before a Mirror. The romance is there, we have a plucky heroine, a great sidekick and there are many comedic moments. The romance writer's convention is priceless - from the cover models to the theme nights and some of the better lines from one of the books....

But Palmer's plots always include a more serious note. Anna's search for her own strength, direction and desires was really well written.

"Somewhere along the line - I stopped believing I was the hero of my own story. Or that my story was worthy of a hero at all. I settled because that's all I thought I deserved."

Family relations and addiction also figure into the story. Palmer does a really great job of marrying light and serious into an easy read that was a pleasure from start to finish.

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