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Luanne Ollivier

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Abattoir Blues
Abattoir Blues
by Peter Robinson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.77
6 used & new from CDN$ 11.29

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Peter Robinson is one of authors that can't write a bad book. I've enjoyed the few stand alones that ..., Dec 8 2014
Ce commentaire est de: Abattoir Blues (Hardcover)
For me, Peter Robinson is one of authors that can't write a bad book. I've enjoyed the few stand alones that he's written, but the Inspector Banks series is my favourite. Abattoir Blues is the newly released 22nd entry.

The new Commissioner has made rural crime a priority, so Banks's team is investigating, although the crimes seem a bit pedestrian for them - a stolen tractor and a break in at a seemingly abandoned airplane hangar. But when human blood stains are found on the hangar floor, the case takes a more serious turn. And when ties between the stolen tractor and the hangar are found......

Although Banks is on the case, he takes a bit of a backseat in this outing, with team member DS Winsome Jackman taking the lead. Winsome is a character I've always enjoyed and it was great to have her take a bigger investigative role, as well as getting to know her a bit better personally. DS Annie Cabbot also has a louder voice in this book. I'm very glad she's still around, even though the relationship between her and Banks has ended. I enjoy her prickly observations of life.

We still get a look at Banks's personal life - I have to say that I don't see his latest relationship lasting. He seems to be pondering his future in this book - wondering what it holds for him. I always enjoy Banks's musical choices and have often gone and looked them up to listen myself.

This is what I enjoy so much about Robinson's books - the characters change and develop with every book. I've feel I've come to know them and sitting down with the latest is like catching up with old friends.

Old friends with some rather disturbing stories. In addition to the great personal development of his characters, Robinson always crafts a great mystery. I wondered how these two diverse cases were going to be woven together. Gentle readers may be disturbed by the descriptions of what happens in an abattoir (slaughterhouse). But it provided a suitably gruesome setting for this latest crime outing.

Abattoir Blues was another great read for me - can't wait for the next in the series!

Polaroid Cube HD 1080p Lifestyle Action Video Camera w/Built-In Rechargeable Battery for up to 90 Minutes Recording - Weatherproof, Shockproof & Mountable - 124° Wide Angle Lens (Red)
Polaroid Cube HD 1080p Lifestyle Action Video Camera w/Built-In Rechargeable Battery for up to 90 Minutes Recording - Weatherproof, Shockproof & Mountable - 124° Wide Angle Lens (Red)
Offered by Canadian Shoppe
Price: CDN$ 99.99
5 used & new from CDN$ 99.99

5.0 out of 5 stars You might want to put this fun little item on your list for someone - or ..., Dec 4 2014
Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet? No? You might want to put this fun little item on your list for someone - or yourself.

Half the fun of buying gifts is seeing what's new, different - and quite frankly, catches my eye. (And yes, some of them do end up on my own list) The Polaroid CUBE certainly did!

I mentioned little - the CUBE measures out at 1 1/4 inches square. But it packs a lot into that small little case - it takes both pictures and HP video (resolution can be switched to 720 or 1080p), with a microphone as well. It accommodates a 32 GB SD card (purchase separately), the battery lasts about an hour and half (recharge by plugging in to computer or use a wall adaptor and transferring to my computer was easy. (USB cable included) Set up and learning to use it literally took minutes - instructions were clear and easy. One button on top controls everything - off, on, video and camera.

Being this small, there is no viewfinder - instead you can point and shoot. Polaroid is marketing this as a "lifestyle action video camera". And this is why it caught my can mount and attach the CUBE to just about anything. I also got the strap mount - in one and two meter lengths. What? Yep - there's a rotating mount that fits on the straps. So, think about it - you can strap it on anything and video film. Back of your backpack, dog's leash, on your wrist out walking, and really - anything, anywhere. It's winter in my part of the world - so it's going outside with me - on the snowmobile. (It's weatherproof and splashproof). I think I might get the bicycle mount for summer. The CUBE's case is sturdy and seems pretty shockproof, with a grip proof finish.

Why would you want to film this you ask? Why not? It's fun and action shots would be a neat perspective - I'm thinking of a friend who is a serious mountain biker. (Helmet mount) The magnet on the camera is incredibly strong, so you could attach it to anything metal. (The outside of the fridge comes to mind, inside on the dash of the vehicle on road trips and maybe even the hood of the car driving slowly)

I also got the tripod mount - it's headed to the staff Christmas party on Saturday. It's unobtrusive and I won't have to hold anything. It will sit nicely in the center of the table and I'll just turn it every so often. Plus, it fits in my purse!

The photo and video quality is of course not going to the same quality as a full size camera. But you know, it's really good for a one inch camera. Keep in mind that it's a wide angle lens, so there is a rounding of the edges of the images. Low lighting inside did result in somewhat grainy photos - to be expected. Outside, both video and images were very, very clear.

Lots of fun in a little package - for all ages. And the price is right. Two thumbs up.

The Secret Place
The Secret Place
by Tana French
Edition: Audio CD
Price: CDN$ 35.74
21 used & new from CDN$ 35.47

3.0 out of 5 stars I quite like the two detectives and would be interested in reading ..., Dec 2 2014
Ce commentaire est de: The Secret Place (Audio CD)
Tana French is one of those authors I'm aware of, but haven't managed to read yet. I recently picked up the audio version of her latest - The Secret Place - to keep me company on the drive back and forth to work. This is the fifth book in the Dublin Murder Squad series.

Chris Harper was found murdered a year ago in a secluded grove on the grounds of St. Kilda's boarding school. The case is still open with no new leads.....until a card with a photo of the dead boy is found on the school's 'secrets board'. It's enough to reignite the investigation.

The book takes place over the course of a day as Detectives Stephen Moran and Antoinette Conway re-interview the students.

I quite like the two detectives and would be interested in reading more of this pair. What had me somewhat bored was the repetitiveness of the girls' conversations. You can only listen to so many OMG's, Hellloooo's, Excuse me's and more. Yes I believe it's quite true to teenage conversation, but in audio format it just started to grate. And I found myself tuning out and thinking of throwing in the towel on this one. Then French threw in a bit of a different element - otherworldly if you will. Intrigued again, I kept listening.

French is a good writer and some of her turns of phrase and descriptive phrases are really well done. Nuance and intuition are a large part of Moran's personality and investigative style. These nebulous concepts are given concrete descriptors that really painted vivid images and settings. The exploration of cliques and the world of teenagers is vividly portrayed. French paints a frightening 'mean girl.'

The book is quite long - at 464 pages, I think it could have been pared down a little. Much of the narrative seemed to repeat itself with the clues as to who the killer is (very) slowly doled out. I kept listening as I really wanted to know which girl was the culprit And the answer is there, but the actual ending was a bit confusing - I had to go back and listen a few times. And at the end, I really wondered why the supernatural element was included. It would have been a good book without it.

There were two readers - Stephen Hogan and Lara Hutchinson. Both are Irish actors, so the accents are real. Hogan embodies the mental image I had created for this character. Hutchinson captures the toughness of Conway. Both narrators read the voices of the teenage girls and caught the sarcasm, the anger and the nastiness of them.

On reading other's reviews, I'm seeing the recommendation to not start with this book if you're new to Tana French, that it is decidedly different from other books in the series. Fair enough - I'll try the next book French releases. (I'm one of those readers who can't won't go backwards in a series)

My Sister's Grave
My Sister's Grave
by Robert Dugoni
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.12
28 used & new from CDN$ 11.44

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars First in a new series from Dugoni, Nov. 24 2014
Ce commentaire est de: My Sister's Grave (Paperback)
I picked up Robert Dugoni's first novel way back in 2006 and have enjoyed every one since. His latest release is My Sister's Grave.

The last time Tracy Crosswhite saw her sister Sarah was twenty years ago. And although a man was convicted for her murder without a body, Tracy has never believed he was guilty. In fact, it's the reason she became a cop. When Sarah's remains are found, Tracy sees this as an opportunity to reopen the case and find the real killer. Old secrets don't like to be uncovered though......

The whodunit in My Sister's Grave is well plotted, with a nice little twist. (Although I must admit I did have this sussed out before the final reveal.) Setting the book in a small town really worked, making the storyline believable. Because in every small town, there's a sheriff who has his own ideas of how things should be run, right?

Tracy was a great lead character - tough and determined, but with a vulnerable side. Her loyalty and love for her sister Sarah are palpable. Although we never meet Sarah in present day, the flashbacks and reminiscences of other characters really brought her to life. Pairing Tracy up with old childhood friend (and lawyer) Dan was perfect and lent a personal secondary plotline to the story.

Dugoni's writing is easy and engaging. I was immediately caught up in the story from the first pages. There are twists and red herrings to keep you guessing until the final pages. And that final reveal is action packed, guaranteeing a 'stay up until I'm done' read.

Dugoni was first a writer, then a lawyer and finally settled on novelist. His background is apparent in all of his novels, successfully combining the legal and crime genres (with a touch of romance thrown in.) All in all, a good entertaining read. This is the first of a new series - and I would definitely pick up the next.

Want You Dead
Want You Dead
by Peter James
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 21.94
31 used & new from CDN$ 2.73

4.0 out of 5 stars Tenth in this series, Nov. 21 2014
Ce commentaire est de: Want You Dead (Hardcover)
3.5/5 Peter James's latest book, Want You Dead, has just released. This is the tenth entry in James's Detective Superintendent Roy Grace series.

The opening pages set the stage for the whodunit in Want You Dead. In this case, we know who - and it's up to Grace to catch him.

Red Cameron left an abusive relationship and hopes she's found a fresh start in the widowed doctor she's just begun dating. She has.....but her old flame Bryce has other ideas. Red is his and will always be his. And he's more than a little upset by the breakup.

James writes from the point of view of Bryce, Red and Grace, The reader is privy to the entire picture and can only hope that Grace and his team make the connections in time.

I've always enjoyed Grace - he's a great lead character - strong minded, strong willed, intelligent and caring. The supporting cast of detectives returns, but one won't be returning for the next book. I was a little upset with that - I'm not really sure what this development added to the overall plot at all. I was really hoping that Grace's ex wife Sandy was finally out of the picture, but she makes another appearance in this book. And for as much as I am tired of her, James has piqued my curiosity - without giving anything away, the ending and Sandy's involvement will have me happily snapping up the next in this series.

James does add a good personal storyline to this series, rounding Grace out as a person. He's still coming to terms with his new role as a father. As is his wife Chloe.

I did feel that this plot wasn't one of James's strongest - the premise has been done before, but stalkers do seem to be hot this year. James puts his own spin on it, with a good, sinister antagonist.

But, there were a few things that annoyed me in this book. James seems to beleaguer some points - in the first few chapters, there are at least 4-5 mentions that burnt human flesh smells like pork. Once or twice maybe, more than that was just overkill. And I do wonder about an abused woman putting herself back into the dating scene within four months of leaving a bad relationship. It seems a bit soon to me. Some of her actions and decisions I saw as just plain foolhardy, rather than being her being 'strong'. I found myself feeling unsympathetic towards her.

This is still one of my favourite British detective series, but for this reader, it wasn't one of the strongest entries.

Shopaholic to the Stars: A Novel
Shopaholic to the Stars: A Novel
Offered by Random House Canada, Incorp.
Price: CDN$ 14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars She sees this trip as a fantastic opportunity to shop (natch) and kick start her career ..., Nov. 10 2014
3.5/5 I've been a fan of Sophie Kinsella from the beginning - starting with Confessions of a Shopaholic.

The latest (#7) in this series - Shopaholic to the Stars is newly released.

Inveterate shopper Becky two year old daughter Minnie have accompanied her husband Luke on a business trip to Hollywood. Well, there are stars in the streets and stars in Becky's eyes. She sees this trip as a fantastic opportunity to shop (natch) and kick start her career as a Hollywood stylist.

I've always enjoyed Becky's imaginings of what she could do or be and her complicated machinations to rationalize and explain her (over) spending. At the root of it all, Becky is a kind and good person with a bit of a shopping problem. Kinsella again gives us lots of evidence that although Becky has good intentions, old (shopping) habits die hard.

Kinsella does an excellent job skewering Hollywood, stardom and more. Although I still found many laugh out loud moment in Shopaholic to the Stars, I also found a Becky that wasn't so kind. She's determined to succeed in Hollywood - at the cost of almost anything, including her marriage, her friends, her parents, and more. Some of the situations weren't so funny - it wasn't quite the Becky I've enjoyed in the past. Instead, she's quite selfish and self-centered.

There are numerous sub-plots - Luke's relationship with his mother, Becky's dad's quest, the reappearance of Becky's dreaded nemesis Alicia and the whereabouts of Tarquin. But - and stop here if you haven't read the book......nothing is resolved! I turned the last pages and went back, just to make sure I hadn't missed anything. I hadn't. The book ends with "Becky will return soon" and a road sign pointing to Las Vegas. I will of course be picking up the next book as I do want to find out what happens. And I like Kinsella's writing. But, I just felt a little cheated after 473 pages. This is probably my least favourite Becky book so far.

The Marco Effect: A Department Q Novel
The Marco Effect: A Department Q Novel
Offered by Penguin Group USA
Price: CDN$ 15.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this series, Nov. 7 2014
I stumbled upon the first book in the Department Q series back in 2011 and immediately became a devoted fan of Jussi Adler-Olsen. The fourth in this series is The Marco Effect, newly released in North America.

Detective Carl Morck heads up Department Q in the Copenhagen Police Dept. It's a rather small department with only three employees - Carl, Rose and Assad (who started off as the cleaner).

Although Dept. Q usually tackles cold cases, Rose and Assad decide the team should tackle a missing persons case. And that investigation leads them to start looking for a young man named Marco. Marco is on the run - not just from the cops, but from his Uncle Zola - the leader of a gypsy gang. Marco knows about that missing person.

I love this series! Carl is wonderfully cantankerous, but is incredibly tenacious, determined to find answers. Rose is mercurial and combative, but brilliant. Assad. Well, Assad is a mystery. Over the last three books, hints have been dropped and sly references made about Assad's past. In The Marco Effect, even more is revealed. But the man is still a mystery. The three combine to make an effective if eclectic team. Although the upstairs bosses have decided that Carl's team could use another member.The bickering between Carl and Assad is humourous and Assad's camel analogies were priceless.

The secondary storyline of Carl's personal life at home is just as addicting. He shares a home with his stepson, his paraplegic ex-partner, the ex-partner's physiotherapist and the physiotherapist's partner. And Carl is hoping that his relationship with his therapist can step outside the office. This rich secondary plotline absolutely rounds out Carl's character.

And let's not forget the case! Adler-Olsen is wonderfully inventive when it comes to crime. This one is far flung, reaching from Africa to Denmark. Marco is also given a voice in this book. We are privy to his thoughts as he's on the run, desperate and afraid.

The Marco Effect was another great read from Adler-Olsen.

The Long Way Home: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel
The Long Way Home: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel
by Louise Penny
Edition: Audio CD
Price: CDN$ 28.83
26 used & new from CDN$ 18.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slower paced character study, Nov. 5 2014
I can't think of a more anticipated next book for mystery fans than The Long Way Home by Louise Penny.

This is one of my absolute all time favourite series. Penny's lead character is Quebec Sûreté Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. The crimes and mysteries are always intricate, well plotted and well written. There was a subtle secondary plot that began early on in the first nine books and it exponentially grew through the first nine books, culminating in a startling conclusion in How the Light Gets In.

Where could this series go after such a ending? Spoilers ahead.....

Many questions that were left at the end of book nine have been answered in the opening pages of The Long Way Home. I felt a little cheated that the resolutions surround Gamache's protégé Jean Guy had taken place without me and that life has moved on without the reader being involved. Gamache has retired to the small village of Three Pines, an oft used setting for Penny. Over the course of the series, readers have come to know and love the residents.

Some more than others. Clara and Peter are artists who make their home in the village. A year ago, Peter left, promising to Clara to return in a year to see if their marriage could be repaired. The year has come and gone with no word from him. Clara enlists Gamache in her search to find him.

So, we have a case that again utilizes Gamache's skills, albeit in an unofficial capacity. The path and the clues to Peter's whereabouts are found in a series of paintings and the world of art. Penny does an admiral job bringing her visual plotline to the written page, but I did find it a bit esoteric and slower paced than I would have liked. And okay, by the end I was tired of hearing about the upside down smile painting. Jean-Guy, after having factored so heavily in previous novels, has been relegated to the sidelines. There were some odd side stories - notably the androgynous niece/nephew Bean. As a colleague and I discussed one morning, The Long Way Home almost seems like a character study with the mystery of Peter's whereabouts as the secondary plotline.

But my real problem was with Clara. The residents of Three Pines have become quite 'real' over the course of the series. I quite like most of them - notably Ruth and her duck Rosa. But here's my problem - I was never taken with Clara to start with and throughout The Long Way Home my dislike of her steadily grew. This is a testament to Penny's writing skills, but it made it harder to become fully engaged in the case and its outcome.

I've chosen to listen to the last three or four books in this series. Ralph Cosham is the reader. His wonderfully paced, rich, sonorous voice completely embodies Gamache for me. The low, somewhat gravelly tone of Cosham's voice and his well modulated pace just draws you further into the story. His French accent and pronunciation is well done and believable. The voices he provides for other characters are just as well done. The cranky old poet Ruth is a favourite of mine. Actually, all the residents of Three Pines come alive with his interpretations, and make me wish I could visit to Three Pines and chat with them. Sadly Ralph Cosham passed away this past September.

I enjoyed The Long Way Home, but didn't love this one. Penny is at work on a new novel - and it will be one I'll definitely read. I'm curious as to where she will take Gamache et al next.

The Rosie Effect
The Rosie Effect
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Price: CDN$ 13.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun follow up to The Rosie Project, Nov. 3 2014
Ce commentaire est de: The Rosie Effect (Kindle Edition)
Graeme Simsion'sfirst novel, The Rosie Project was a runaway international bestseller. I adored it. Then, I heard that Simsion had written a sequel....The Rosie Effect is newly released. And I got a little bit worried - would it measure up to the first book?

Don and Rosie have relocated to New York City. And things are about to change for the Tillmans......

"Then Rosie told me we had 'something to celebrate', and I was faced with a challenge even greater than finding a partner. I have attempted to follow traditional protocols and have sourced advice from all six of my friends, plus a therapist and the internet. The result has been a web of deceit. I am now in danger of prosecution, deportation and professional disgrace. And of losing Rosie forever."

The fun, of course, is following Don on his well meaning, but bumpy journey......

I've read some mixed reviews of this follow up. Yes, some of the plot machinations are a bit fortuitous and contrived, but hey, this is meant to be a fun read. For me it was - I quite enjoyed it. I was eager to follow Don on his latest Project, to experience The Incidents, The Misunderstandings, The Uproars and more. I laughed out loud numerous times in the lunchroom (as did a co-worker also reading it) But there were also heartstring tugging moments as Don attempts to understand and cope with the changes happening in his carefully ordered life. The supporting cast is back from the first book with some new additions. One new character was Lydia - she's really quite awful and while I understand why she was in the book, I just didn't like her. Rosie is a bit different in how she treats Don as well, and I found her somewhat cold, but that could be the hormones talking.

I do love Don and his view of the world. His scheduling, his routines, (which are thrown into turmoil this time 'round),his reaction to the rest of the world - and theirs to him. It's impossible not to root for Don, to hope that things work out the way we want for him. Don narrates the whole story and never breaks character. It is truly eye opening to see the world through a 'different' filter. Simsion dedicated The Rosie Project to his friend Rod and his wife, noting that Rod is the inspiration for Don Tillman.

The Rosie Effect is fun and quirky take on the rom com genre. Definitely recommended - but read The Rosie Project first.

This Dark Road to Mercy: A Novel
This Dark Road to Mercy: A Novel
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Price: CDN$ 11.99

4.0 out of 5 stars I loved Easter's voice from the first line, Oct. 31 2014
Wiley Cash's first novel A Land More Kind Than Home was a New York Times bestseller. It garnered rave reviews, and I remember putting it on my never ending must read list. Well, I never did get to it, but his second novel, This Dark Road to Mercy, has just released in trade format - and I jumped at the chance to review it.

Twelve year old Easter and her six year old sister Ruby are now living in a foster home. Their mother has died and their father Wade signed away his parental rights years ago. But it is something in the way the man watching the ballgame Easter is playing that rings a is Wade and he wants his girls to come with him. There's another man watching too - Wade has something that belongs to someone else. Pruitt will do whatever it takes to get that something back - and extract vengeance on Wade for an event from both their pasts. Easter, older and wiser beyond her years, makes a decision -and the three are on the run. There's a third man as well - Brady is the girls' court appointed guardian - and he too is on the trail of Wade and the girls.

I loved Easter's voice from the first line...."Wade disappeared on us when I was nine years old and then he showed up out of nowhere the year I turned twelve." She presents a hard exterior to the world, shielding herself and her sister from further hurt. Small vulnerabilities - wondering if a boy likes her for example, were all the more poignant as she is feeling her way through life without a parent.

Each of the characters in the book has a past - a past that influences the direction their present is taking. Wrongs that need righting, hopes, dreams, what could have been and what could be are entwined in the narratives of the three main characters. And somehow, to all three, this moment in represents redemption.

From the author's notes "....As a six-year-old, you're called a liar when you tell a story that you know isn't true. But if you can keep telling stories and wait just a few more years, people will eventually call you a writer. Even when they know your stories aren't true."

I think Cash is a great storyteller. This Dark Road to Mercy had mystery and suspense elements, but it was the characters themselves that captured me - especially Easter, with Wade a close second. The ending was absolutely perfect. (And I quiet enjoyed the baseball references.)

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