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Luanne Ollivier
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One Kick: A Novel
One Kick: A Novel
by Chelsea Cain
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.06
37 used & new from CDN$ 16.78

4.0 out of 5 stars A new series from Cain, Oct. 20 2014
This review is from: One Kick: A Novel (Hardcover)
After turning the final page of the sixth Gretchen Lowell/Archie Sheridan thriller (Let Me Go), I wondered if there could be anything in the future for these characters. For me, this series seemed to have run its course.

Well, Chelsea Cain has unleashed a new character on readers. Her new book, One Kick is the first in a new series featuring Kick Lannigan. What a great character name eh?

Kick was kidnapped as a six year old and famously rescued when she was eleven. The years spent in captivity shaped her path - and her personality. She's tough as nails, but vulnerable, fearsome, yet fearful. And she has a goal - to prey on those that prey on children. A wealthy man named John Bishop, approaches Kick to help him find two local missing kids. There's a chance they could still be alive - and Bishop believes Kick has the key to finding them locked in her past. But who is Bishop really? And what is his agenda?

Cain writes great kick *** characters. Lannigan is definitely one of those, but with a wounded side that makes us fear for her as she wades into danger. One Kick introduces us to Lannigan, lets us get to know her and sets the tone and the background for the next in the series. One Kick has a resolution, but the last few pages are a kicker (sorry, couldn't resist) that will leave readers with the same questions Lannigan has. I 'll be watching for the next book.

Cain's books are not for the faint of heart. There are disturbing themes, descriptions and language. Those looking for a dark thriller will absolutely find it in One Kick.

You: A Novel
You: A Novel
by Caroline Kepnes
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.06
33 used & new from CDN$ 7.97

4.0 out of 5 stars Deliciously creepy, Oct. 18 2014
This review is from: You: A Novel (Hardcover)
You is the deliciously creepy new novel from Caroline Kepnes.

When Guinevere Beck walks into a New York bookstore, she immediately catches the eye of the clerk, Joe. A light flirtatious conversation ensues, but for Joe it is much more than that. Beck is the one he's been looking for. They're meant to be together. But Joe wants to make sure everything is right first - so he begins gathering information.... he discovers where Beck lives, begins watching her home, stalking her online profiles and hacks into the cell phone she 'lost' at the bookstore.

You is told entirely from Joe's point of view in an unending, seriously disturbed stream of consciousness narrative. The matter of fact attitude in dealing with roadblocks (Beck has a boyfriend already) to his ultimate goal (Beck) is truly chilling. But just as frightening is his ability to explain and rationalize almost anything. Beck isn't quite the golden girl Joe envisions. But no matter, they will be a beautiful couple. He just has to win her over - bit by bit.

None of the main characters in You are likable. And yet, when I thought about Joe and Beck, it is actually Joe that elicits a modicum of sympathy. I know! Beck is the 'stalkee' and the one in seeming danger, but I really didn't like her at all. Kepnes's character development was excellent.

Kepnes has penned her own version of the 'stalker' novel. It's different - and it's darn good. Kepnes has written for Entertainment Weekly and television. She knows how to grab the reader and hold them. I was hooked from first page to last. And I started getting a little paranoid after the first few chapters..... I loved the ending. This one has film written all over it.

Angel Killer: A Jessica Blackwood Novel
Angel Killer: A Jessica Blackwood Novel
by Andrew Mayne
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.80
32 used & new from CDN$ 3.15

4.0 out of 5 stars Great premise, Oct. 15 2014
Andrew Mayne is an illusionist and magician who has worked for David Copperfield, Penn and Teller and David Blaine. He's also the star of A&E's Don't Trust Andrew Mayne. And....he's also an author. Mayne self published his novels and had some success. Angel Killer sold really well in that format and Bourbon Street Books picked it up, with a hard copy of Angel Killer just published.

I normally eschew self published books, but was incredibly curious to read Angel Killer (especially after a large publisher picked it up.) I found the premise intriguing - an FBI agent who grew up in a 'magic' family. When a killer calling himself the Warlock starts staging and executing seemingly impossible crimes, Jessica Blackwood is called in. The FBI seems to think her unusual background will be the key they need to find this killer. But it's easier said than done - The Warlock is incredibly devious and seems to have a long range plan.....

Well, Mayne is smart as well - he's writing what he knows. The use of magic and illusion as the serial killer's signature is unique. And having an agent just as familiar with the sleights of hand and misdirection is fresh and different. And quite fascinating.

Mayne is setting the stage (yes pun intended) for Jessica. We get to know her background and mindset and I quite liked her. We're also introduced to the mysterious Damien n - I definitely want to know more about him.

The plot is inventive and again, out of the ordinary. There are a few instances where I questioned the leap to the next point or some technical wizardry, but overall I thought it was really good.

And through it all runs the idea of magic. I am always entertained by illusionists and am not sure how I feel about knowing the truth behind some 'tricks' I've seen, but it's pretty interesting to discover how some of them are achieved.

Angel Killer is being marketed as the first Jessica Blackwood novel. I would definitely pick up the next in this series - even more so that the end of Angel Killer is not truly the end - the last page is a definite link to a larger plot still not uncovered. I've peeked at other's thoughts on this book and many readers mention their dissatisfaction with the ending. I actually like the unfinished threads - the idea that there's more in store for this character and the anticipation of the continuation of a good tale

Murder 101: A Decker/Lazarus Novel (Decker/Lazarus Novels)
Murder 101: A Decker/Lazarus Novel (Decker/Lazarus Novels)
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Price: CDN$ 13.99

4.0 out of 5 stars But truthfully he's a bit bored - there's not a lot of crime in the ..., Oct. 13 2014
Murder 101 is the latest entry in Faye Kellerman's long running Decker/Lazurus series. In fact it's number twenty two.

Kellerman has aged her characters over the course of the series. Peter Decker has recently retired from the LAPD. He and his wife Rena Lazurus have moved to quiet Greenbury, NY to be closer to their grown children. Peter has taken a job with the Greenbury PD. But truthfully he's a bit bored - there's not a lot of crime in the town. A possible art forgery in a cemetery crypt seems pretty exciting. But when a body is found, Decker is back in his element. He has a new partner as well - a young man named Ryan, with no experience, and a bad attitude.

I always enjoy the mystery in Kellerman's books and the path Decker takes to solve the cases. This one was good, but I did find the international connection to be a bit of stretch.

But, the strength of this series is the characters. Rina and Peter are such engaging characters. I've enjoyed watching their relationship grow from their first meeting to this comfortable older stage. Their joy in each other, their love of their family, their faith and their convictions are wonderfully depicted.

The title is a nod to Decker's attempts to teach young Ryan the basics of a investigation (and a little bit about life as well. Rina plays a larger role in Murder 101 - she's actually part of the investigation this time round.

I like that path that Kellerman has chosen to take for Peter and Rina. I wonder if there will be further cases in Greenbury? And, as much as I enjoy the family aspect of this series (daughter Cindy has had her own book and I'm growing tired of foster son Gabe's issues), it is Peter and Rina I prefer to follow.

With such a long running series, there are bound to be some books that are stronger than others. I thought this latest entry was a really good read.

One Plus One: A Novel
One Plus One: A Novel
by Jojo Moyes
Edition: Audio CD
Price: CDN$ 28.98
21 used & new from CDN$ 25.73

5.0 out of 5 stars Great listen!, Oct. 12 2014
This review is from: One Plus One: A Novel (Audio CD)
only recently picked up one of British author JoJo Moyes's titles - Me Before You. I chose to listen to it on the way back and forth to work. I absolutely loved it and found myself taking backroads so listen a little longer!

My library hold for the audio version of her latest book, One Plus One, came in at the beginning of last week - and I again started taking the slower road home!

Jess has been a single mom to her goth stepson Nicky and her math prodigy daughter Tanzie for two years - since her husband had to 'get away for a bit' and went to live with his mother. Jess and the kids live on a council estate along with Norman the dog. Jess does what she can to make ends meet - barmaid and cleaning, scrimping and saving. Ed is a computer whiz, under investigation for insider training. And their lives collide in the most chaotic, wonderful way.

Moyes is such a wonderful writer - her characters are flawed and lovable - and the listener can't help but wish for a happy ending. The story is engaging, funny, sad, romantic, real and oh so incredibly addicting and entertaining. And for those thinking to lable it 'chick lit', I think it's much more than that. Moyes explores real situations such as bullying, poverty, parenting and more.

After listening to the first book in audio, I knew I wanted to listen to all of Moyes's titles. The publisher has chosen excellent readers for One Plus One - their voices all suited the mental images I had for the characters, their voices were incredibly expressive and I immediately felt like I was part of the story.

Highly, highly recommended as both a read and a listen!

Horrorstor: A Novel
Horrorstor: A Novel
by Grady Hendrix
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 10.79
31 used & new from CDN$ 9.11

4.0 out of 5 stars If you Orsk me - this was just plain fun to read!, Oct. 8 2014
This review is from: Horrorstor: A Novel (Paperback)
My annual fall visit to a large flat pack furniture company with a Swedish sounding name (c'mon you know who I mean right?) is around the corner. When I saw the cover of Grady Hendrix's new book, Horrorstör, I knew I absolutely had to read it.

Things are happening in the night at the Orsk furniture store in Cleveland Ohio. When the staff arrives in the morning, there's broken glass to clean up, broken display furniture and some unmentionable smells and substances. And the staff are getting weird 'help' text messages on their phones. The security tapes don't show anything, but sales are down and corporate is concerned. So Basil, the new deputy store manager decides to stay in the store overnight to see if he can catch who is doing the damage. He enlists Amy, a partner with a bit of an attitude and cashier Ruth Ann, the nicest person in the store, to stay overnight with him. And what happens that night......

.....is something you're going to have to discover for yourself.

I had so much fun reading this book - Hendrix clearly wrote it with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek. The format is exactly like that unnamed store's catalogue - the furniture, names, descriptions and pictures preceding every chapter were just as much fun as the story. (I was quite amused by some of the colour choices available - night beech, snow and beaver oak)

But what had me laughing was the 'corporate speak'. Having worked in a big box retail store in years gone by, I recognized much of it. Basil's quoting of policies and procedures as things go from bad to worse is just perfect. Hendrix's parodying of that other store is just perfect - the Bright and Shining Path that leads you through the shopping experience, the "Market Floor - also referred to as the 'open-wallet' area - designed to put customers under the maximum retail stress. The goal is to get them to open their wallets and buy something, even a light bulb, because once we crack their wallets, they will spend, on average $97 per visit." (Guilty)

Okay so there's all that - but what is causing all the damage at night? Think Scooby Doo - without the dog and a little nastier....

I'll say it again - this was just plain fun to read! Is there a humourous horror genre? Any questions? Just Orsk!

The Monogram Murders: The New Hercule Poirot Mystery
The Monogram Murders: The New Hercule Poirot Mystery
by Sophie Hannah
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.05
29 used & new from CDN$ 18.55

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ' I think Hannah did a good job. She doesn't try to completely recreate Christie's ..., Oct. 7 2014
3.5/5 Agatha Christie created some of the most memorable and beloved characters ever to populate a mystery novel - Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot. The first Poirot novel was published in 1920 and the last in 1975. Almost forty years later, Sophie Hannah was tapped to write a new novel featuring this iconic detective, with the Christie estate's blessing.

“Sophie Hannah’s idea for a plot line was so compelling and her passion for my grandmother’s work so strong, that we felt that the time was right for a new Christie to be written.” —Mathew Prichard, grandson of Agatha Christie

The Monogram Murders is set early in 1929 London, England. Poirot is taking a wee sojourn at Mrs. Blanche Unsworth's boarding house. He's also become quite enamored of the coffee at Pleasant's Coffee House. One evening, a young woman rushes into the coffee house and declares that "...It's too late. I am already dead, you see, or I shall be soon. I can't hide forever."

Well, Poirot's 'little gray cells' cannot ignore this declaration and as he is sitting pondering her words later in Mrs. Unsworth's drawing room, another resident - Edward Catchpool of Scotland Yard is also pondering....on the murder of three people at the Bloxam Hotel. Poirot's little gray cells and powers of observation cannot resist the lure of such a case - and he joins Catchpool in his investigation. Hannah has chosen to narrate The Monogram Murders from Catchpool's viewpoint, as he writes down the case.

There is of course, going to be much speculation as to the result of bringing a beloved character 'back to life.' I think Hannah did a good job. She doesn't try to completely recreate Christie's style, but instead introduces her own new foil - Catchpool. I'm not completely sold on him though - I found him to be a bit pedestrian, considering he is with Scotland Yard. But, he does provide Poirot with the slate needed to display his powers of deduction. The Monogram Murders is rife with red herrings, misdirection, twists and turns. This is a mystery that demands the reader's full attention. (I missed many a clue and found myself flipping back to reread) Hannah's plot was intricate and involved, but I found myself a bit disappointed with the ending, as there was one last plot point never fully closed.

Those looking for a book written as Agatha Christie won't find it in The Monogram Murders. But those looking for a classic mystery written in the style of Christie will enjoy this book.

Ilo Ilo
Ilo Ilo
DVD ~ Chen Tianwen
Price: CDN$ 24.98
21 used & new from CDN$ 17.19

4.0 out of 5 stars A small slice of life, Oct. 3 2014
This review is from: Ilo Ilo (DVD)
All of Film Movement's releases have garnered film festival praise and accolades. Such is the case with Ilo Ilo, from director Anthony Chen. It was a winner at Cannes and a New York Times critic's pick.

Ilo Ilo is set in 1997 Singapore. Teck and Hwee Leng are comfortably middle class with one son, Jiale, and another baby on the way. Jiale is constantly getting into altercations at school, embarrassing his parents - mostly his mother. Mom is working lots of hours and decides they need someone to help with the housework - and Jiale. They hire Teresa - a Filipino.

There is no great plot twist to Ilo Ilo, rather it is the documentation and exploration of a small group of people whose lives intersect for a window of time. Teresa is not accepted by Jiale in the beginning - he treats her quite cruelly and maliciously. Mom takes her passport for safekeeping'. Dad is quite distant - he is keeping his job loss a secret from his wife. I found the family's treatment of Teresa quite depressing, although I realize it is reality based. As the economy worsens, tensions grow higher in the family. Jiale and Teresa's relationship changes, much to the consternation of his harried mother.

The standout actor for me was Teresa. She too has personal issues that we only learn of through the phone calls she places home. The 'secret' world of the 'domestic help' is where we see Teresa smile, instead of the robotic yes ma'am, no ma'am blank face she adopts with the family. But I want to add that each actor was excellent.

It was only on reading the director's notes that I discovered the origin of the title - and the basis of the film. Ilo Ilo is Philippine province that Cheng's own nanny/maid was from. I wonder how much of Jiale's role and antics stem from Cheng's childhood.

Ilo Ilo has small moments of joy and happiness, but I found the majority of it quite sad - each character is struggling. I was thinking about it at the end and I don't recall Mr. or Mrs. Lim smiling in the film at all.

I enjoyed the look at life in Singapore. Although 'nothing happens' in Ilo Ilo, I was quite engaged from start to finish, wondering where these character's lives were going.

To Dwell In Darkness: A Novel
To Dwell In Darkness: A Novel
by Deborah Crombie
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.05
33 used & new from CDN$ 17.76

5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite series, Oct. 2 2014
4.5/5 I only 'discovered' Deborah Crombie a bit ago, but I instantly knew the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series was one I would be following. The latest (#16), To Dwell in Darkness, has just released.

Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid has recently been transferred from Scotland Yard to a London borough. When a bombing in a local train station results in a horrifying death, the case falls to Duncan and his new team. Gemma is also an Inspector with the CID and it is Melody, one of her Detective Sergeants, who is on the scene when the attack occurs. But things are not as straight forward as they might first appear. Duncan isn't sure about his new team and ends up taking Melody, Gemma and a former sergeant into his confidence as he runs his own investigation parallel to the official one. Gemma, too, is dealing with a nasty case, but it is not given as much time as Duncan's.

Crombie's cases are intriguing. The factual evidence is there for us to start putting the clues and pieces along with the team. The interviews, the interrogations, the intuition and the characterizations - the personal aspect, is what makes the investigation really interesting.

But, the most captivating of all, is the large group of characters that appear in each book, their lives changing and growing with every new entry. They're an eclectic bunch, but I have become fond of them all. They're so well drawn, they've become almost real, especially Duncan, Gemma and their children. I feel like I know them. Although others may complain that the domestic details of the characters detracts from a good mystery, I find it gives the story much more depth. I've become invested in their lives and want to see where Crombie takes them from here. Sitting down with the latest feels like catching up with old friends.

I found the historical headers referring to St. Pancras at the beginning of each chapter interesting.

The case is wrapped up by the final pages, but there are some threads left dangling that have only whet my appetite for the next book in this wonderful series.

Bones Never Lie
Bones Never Lie
by Kathy Reichs
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.06
2 used & new from CDN$ 20.06

4.0 out of 5 stars Reichs is absolutely the best. She herself is a forensic anthropologist in NC ..., Sept. 29 2014
This review is from: Bones Never Lie (Hardcover)
Bones Never Lie is the latest release in Kathy Reichs's Temperance Brennan series. It's hard to believe that this is number 17!

Tempe is a forensic anthropologist and now she's also part of the Charlotte NC cold case squad. When two child murders reveal similarities that can't be ignored, the team searches to see if there are others that match their cold cases. There are - but they're in Canada and seem to be the work of serial killer Anique Pomerleau - a woman who almost killed Tempe as well. Could she have crossed the border to continue her spree? And when a child who matches Pomerleau's type is snatched in Charlotte, the question arises - could it be her?

There are other forensic series out there, but in my opinion, Reichs is absolutely the best. She herself is a forensic anthropologist in NC and Quebec - she knows what she's writing. And it shows. Her plots, the crimes and the road to answers are intriguing and believable. It's very easy to step into Reichs's books.

But what really grabs me is the character of Tempe. I like her - she's engaging, smart and comes across as a real person. I may not always agree with her decisions (she tends to go in guns blazing in some situations), but it makes for action filled reading. I also quite like her surly partner Skinny Slidell - his gruff, grumpy nature and sloppy exterior belies a dedicated, quick mind. I enjoy his one liners and haranguing of the brass and other agencies.

Reichs has created a personal storyline for Tempe that started with the first book and continues on. It's just as interesting - and sometimes just as frustrating. I was glad to see Andrew Ryan back and Pete not in the story at all this time. Tempe's mother plays a significant role in the solving of this crime. I'm not quite sure what I thought of her involvement - it was perhaps a wee bit far fetched and seemed like an awkward plot device to have some information discovered.

I laughed when I read the scene where Tempe is watching the television show Bones. For those of you unaware, Reichs's character is the basis for this program. (celebrating it's 200th episode!)

Over the course of seventeen books, there are bound to be some titles that are stronger than others. The last book, Bones of the Lost, was just an okay read for me. But Bones Never Lie is a return to Reichs's earlier strengths and had me engaged from first page to last. Happily finished in a day and a half. And the stage is set for further adventures. I'll be looking forward the eighteenth book!

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