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Luanne Ollivier

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by Renee Knight
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.60

4.0 out of 5 stars ' What a great premise! I was hooked in the first few ..., May 22 2015
This review is from: Disclaimer (Paperback)
s a book blogger, I receive a lot of books in the mail. Some I've requested and some are unsolicited. An unsolicited book is the jump off point for Renée Knight's debut novel, Disclaimer.

Catherine is the main character in Disclaimer. During a chaotic move, she sits down to relax and read a book she's come across, although she's not sure from where. She's a few chapters in when she realizes the the book is about her.....

"There was no going back. Catherine had unwittingly stumbled across herself tucked into the pages of the book."

And the standard disclaimer you find at the beginning of book...."Any resemblance to persons living or dead..." has a 'a neat red line through it.'

What a great premise! I was hooked in the first few pages. But if that wasn't enough, Knight tells her story from two different narratives - that of Catherine - and the person who sent the book - Stephen.

I couldn't stop reading - I wanted to know what is in the book, why he has sent it to Catherine, why this format, what has gone on before and so much more. What is the secret!

"...The act of keeping the secret a secret has almost become bigger than the secret itself."

Knight is a master of doling out clues and snippets that let the reader slowly build an idea or a picture of what might have happened. Her foreshadowing had me staying up just to read another chapter before turning off the light for the night.

Then I reached the point of the book within the book where the secret is revealed. But - I was only about half way through the novel. What I thought I knew wasn't the end at all - there are more questions - and I desperately wanted the answers. Answers are provided by the end - but they aren't quite what I had imagined. I loved that I couldn't predict where the book was going to go.

Stephen is a particularly despicable (and creepy) character. His thoughts and justifications are quite frightening. My feelings about Catherine changed with every new 'reveal' in Disclaimer. But by the end (and the ending was just right) I was firmly in her camp.

Those who enjoy psychological twisty thrillers will enjoy Knight's debut. I did! (Nice little cover blurb from Lee Child as well)

Inside the O'Briens: A Novel
Inside the O'Briens: A Novel
Offered by Simon & Schuster Canada, Inc.
Price: CDN$ 14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Lisa Genova simply can't write a bad book. Her latest, May 19 2015
Lisa Genova simply can't write a bad book. Her latest, Inside the O'Briens is another absolutely fantastic read.

Genova is a neuroscientist. Each of her novels has brain function or brain injury as a starting point. (Still Alice has just been made into a movie)

Forty-four year old Joe O'Brien has been a cop in Charleston, Massachusetts for twenty four years. He, his wife Rosie and his four adult children all live in the brownstone that Joe grew up in. When he starts having temper outbursts, a few muscle spasms and momentary mental lapses, he writes if off to age and fatigue. But....they get worse. Rosie and the kids are noticing more and it's happening at work - a dangerous situation. When Rosie finally gets Joe to a doctor, they are stunned to hear Joe's diagnosis - Huntington's Disease - a neurological condition that is fatal. And it's genetic - his children have a 50/50 chance of also having the disease.

Wow. Genova takes us inside this tight knit family through Joe and his daughter Katie's eyes. The uncertainty, the anger, the denial, the aftermath, the hope, the dreams and above all the love of this family for each other. I know these are characters in a book, but I honesty felt like Genova was actually writing about a real family. The interactions, the dialogue and the situations had me feeling like I was sitting at the table with them, having Sunday dinner.

I had previously heard of Huntington's Disease, but learned so very much about it from Inside the O'Briens, from both a medical, societal and personal perspective. Yes, the book has the disease as a basis, but it is the family of O'Briens that stayed with me after I turned the last page. Poignant, heartwarming, heartbreaking and oh so very, very good.

The Abduction of Smith and Smith: A Novel
The Abduction of Smith and Smith: A Novel
by Rashad Harrison
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 21.65
28 used & new from CDN$ 0.03

4.0 out of 5 stars love, hate, May 18 2015
3.5/5 The Abduction of Smith and Smith is Rashad Harrison's second novel.

1868. The Civil War has ended. Jupiter Smith a former slave, is a free man. But he's now making his living by selling others into servitude - he shanghais unsuspecting men from the brothels, bars and opium dens of San Francisco and sells them to ship captains in need of a crew. Jupiter is also looking for his wife - it's been seven long years since he has seen her. But , someone else is looking for Jupiter as well - Archer, the son of his former master, the Colonel, - and his half brother. For you see, Jupiter killed the Colonel. The tables are turned when both Jupiter and Archer are 'crimped'onto a ship with a captain of questionable standards.

That's the backbone of the story, but there is so much more. Rollicking is word that comes to mind. Pirates, magicians, convicts, gun runners and more - everyone has their own agenda and their own pockets to fill. But amongst all that, it is the relationship between Jupiter and Archer that is the constant. Can they keep each other alive? Come to terms with their relationship? Harrison explores slavery, love, hate, loyalty, family and more with his characters. The time frame and multiple settings also allows Harrison to also explore the changing and growing nation in many facets, as well as farther afield.

I quite enjoyed Jupiter as a character, with Captain Barrett a close second. (He's got more lives than a cat, a finger in every pie and a deal in every port) The Abduction of Smith and Smith is a busy book. The plot is wide and far reaching, sometimes stretching credibility, but always entertaining. Things slow down a bit in the last few chapters with a more serious tone as memories and resolution come together for Jupiter. I did find the timeline of some of these final chapters a bit confusing.

The Abduction of Smith and Smith fell outside of my regular reading tastes, but I really enjoyed it. It's refreshing to not be able to predict what is going to happen in a book.

Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Price: CDN$ 17.99

4.0 out of 5 stars I love book covers - imagining what the story might be ..., May 18 2015
This review is from: Orient (Kindle Edition)
I love book covers - imagining what the story might be from the image(s) chosen before I even turn a page. The cover of Christopher Bollen's new book, Orient, grabbed me from the first glance - the colors, that stormy sky, the ominous looking lighthouse - and a great opening prologue....

"When people try to picture me, they undoubtedly recall only the last time they saw me, just before I went missing. There's been a lot of speculation about the night I left the Far North Fork of Long Island - how a nineteen-year old wanted for questioning in a string of murders managed to elude police and vigilant local drivers..."

The small town of Orient is separated from the mainland by geography, but also by the desire of the inhabitants to just 'leave things be'. Change is not necessary. But it's a beautiful place to live - and a number of 'outsiders' have discovered Orient. One of those native sons brings home Mills, a 'stray' to help him with some home cleanup. And the first body turns up not long after that. That idyllic veneer is paper thin - the town is seething with secrets, recriminations and personal agendas. And then there's that secret government facility on a neighboring island.

As I read, I was continually kept off balance - I had no idea what to expect and could not predict where Bollen's tale was going to go. The characters, their actions and their thoughts had me feeling distinctly unsettled - quite frankly I found most of the players to be unlikable, including Mills, who seems to be at the center of things, even though he is a newcomer.

But, I couldn't put the book down - I wanted to know who the killer was and what the motive was. I really appreciate an author that can keep me engaged and off kilter. The final whodunit was not what (or who) I expected at all. Bollen's mystery is well plotted, but it is the smoldering tensions and the duplicitous and self-oriented characters that were the stand out for me.

"Fear was viral, airborne, contagious. It opened doors for him. It allowed him to touch things that weren't his." Delicious. Orient is a chunkster, coming in at over 600 pages - and this reader enjoyed every one.

American Sniper [Blu-ray] [Import]
American Sniper [Blu-ray] [Import]
Price: CDN$ 54.00
8 used & new from CDN$ 20.45

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) Bradley Cooper plays Kyle - and quite honestly I thought he was amazing. Having watched clips o, May 15 2015
Chris Kyle. I can't imagine there are many who haven't heard his name or know his story.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is releasing American Sniper, the movie based on the life of Chris Kyle, on Blu-ray/Dvd on May 19/15. Clint Eastwood is the director.

Kyle is the most lethal sniper in US military history - and he was the most wanted man in Iraq. But there's so more to this story - it's also the story of a father, a husband and a veteran.

Eastwood grabs the viewer right from the start with a tension filled opening scene in Iraq on Kyle's first mission. From that we are taken back to Kyle's childhood and move forward through his four tours in Iraq,

Gentle viewers be warned - there are graphic scenes and violence. But, what Eastwood has shown us is not movie make believe - it's reality, difficult as it might be to watch. (The special effects, setting and sound effects were incredible) But also explored is the effect of war on those waiting at home - and the difficulty re-integrating into 'everyday' life - PTSD. (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

Bradley Cooper plays Kyle - and quite honestly I thought he was amazing. Having watched clips of the real Chris Kyle, I was so impressed with his portrayal - physicality, accent and more. This role takes Cooper leaps and bounds beyond roles such as Hangover.

I encourage you to watch this as the story of Chris Kyle and his family and not as a commentary on politics and war. I felt so many emotions as the movie played out and was absolutely drained by the closing credits. I cannot even begin to imagine the reality. Highly recommended.

Price: CDN$ 6.11

3.0 out of 5 stars that I've enjoyed in the past, May 14 2015
This review is from: Threshold (Kindle Edition)
G.M. Ford writes tough guys - he has two other series featuring a journalist and a P.I. that I've enjoyed in the past. Ford's latest book, Threshold, introduces us to Detective Mickey Dolan. I was eager to meet this new character.

Dolan's marriage has ended and he's been on limited duties due to excessive force complaints. But, when a powerful city councilor repeatedly demands that the department assign a detective to look into the 'disappearance' of his wife and daughters (there's a custody dispute), Mickey is put on the case. It may have been a local women's shelter group who helped the trio disappear. That group is run by a mother/daughter team who have seen their own share of violence. Ending there would have provided the basis for a good tale I think. But, Ford adds another somewhat paranormal element - Grace, the daughter, can revive people from comas.

I think the coma plot device would have been better left out. It just seemed cheesy to me and detracted from what could have been a really good detective novel.

There's also lot of Mickey's personal life in this book. I always enjoy secondary story lines, but Ford's exploration of gay relationships just seemed clumsy. Many turns of phrase were also dated...

"The place is wired for sound and pictures. Other than that, it's cleaner that Nancy Reagan's ass."

I'm not sure if this is the first book in a new series from Ford. It does take time to build a new character, but I'm not overly enamored with Mickey. Yes, his perspective changes and his actions 'redeem' him, but I never fully engaged with his struggle or his redemption. I've read the Leo Waterman series and really enjoyed them, but sadly Mickey fell flat for me.

That being said, Threshold was a quick read and an easy way to kill a few hours on a plane.

Find Momo Coast to Coast: A Photography Book
Find Momo Coast to Coast: A Photography Book
by Andrew Knapp
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 10.79
24 used & new from CDN$ 7.80

5.0 out of 5 stars And he just happens to like to hide, May 13 2015
ou might remember me reviewing Find Momo last year - I adored it! Well, Momo is on the move again with his BFF Andrew Knapp. This time it's Find Momo Coast to Coast!

Who is Momo you ask? Well Momo is Andrew's border collie. And he just happens to like to hide. And he sits really still while Andrew takes a picture of him. Lots of pictures. Andrew started sharing them with his Instagram friends.....who shared them with their friends.... who shared it with.... and they now have over 250,000 followers!

Andrew and Momo are on the road again as...."adventure occurs when we embrace change. This book is a game of hide-and-seek, a record of our exploration and a review of the journey...which was, of course, the destination."

Coast to Coast takes the duo on a 15,000 mile journey through Canada and the US. And at 100 of their stops, Knapp takes a photo of Momo - hiding. The trick is, of course, to find Momo - although it's not as easy as you would think in some photos! There is an answer key in the back if you get stumped.

Knapp is a talented photographer. His shots range from landmarks to off the beaten path areas and attractions. It was those off the main track photos that I enjoyed the most. My only suggestion would have been to have the photos captioned with locations, although these can be found in the answer key as well.

And, as I did with Knapp's first book - I adored this one as well. There's great photography, the fun of playing hide and see with a border collie - but also the idea of packing up in yellow VW van and heading out to whatever adventure awaits - with a faithful dog.

Find Momo Coast to Coast is just one of those quirky books you can't help but flip through and enjoy. If you liked finding Waldo, you'll love finding Momo.

What She Left: Enhanced Edition
What She Left: Enhanced Edition
Price: CDN$ 9.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Alice Salmon's sudden death shocks those who knew and loved her. She couldn't possibly have jumped from that ..., May 12 2015
I was intrigued by the premise of T.R. Richmond's new book, What She Left.

Alice Salmon's sudden death shocks those who knew and loved her. She couldn't possibly have jumped from that bridge, could she? She must have been pushed, right? Or maybe it was just an absolutely horrific accident?
One of Alice's former professors, Jeremy Cooke, decides to piece together Alice's life, using her diaries, social media posts, texts, playlists and anecdotes from those closest to her. But really - why would he want to do this? Well, old Cookie has his own set of secrets. And those who profess to have known and loved Alice also have secrets that they prefer stay hidden.

T.R. Richmond has us suspecting each and every player as their connections and interactions with Alice are revealed through Prof. Cooke's research. We come to know Alice through other's eyes - and my perception of who she was changed with every character. Alice's own diaries reveal a confused young woman whom I didn't like very much. Old Cookie has the most to say - and he is by far the most disturbing character. His letters to a dead friend are quite disturbing as he details his past - and present - thinking and actions. Quite honestly, I didn't find any of the characters sympathetic or likeable; and therefore hard to engage with.

But with each additional piece of information revealed, my opinion changed on what really happened - and who Alice really was. Richmond employs a non linear timeline to unfold What She Left - readers will have to note the date at the top of each entry to keep things straight.

What She Left was told in a clever fashion, with a twist or two tucked in at the end. What She Left was a good debut novel, but comparisons to Gone Girl may be a tad ambitious.

The Bone Tree
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 21.94
30 used & new from CDN$ 21.94

5.0 out of 5 stars Iles does a great job of quickly recapping, May 7 2015
This review is from: The Bone Tree (Hardcover)
devoured Natchez Burning, the first book in Greg Iles's planned trilogy and have been eagerly awaiting the second entry - The Bone Tree.

The Bone Tree picks up right where Natchez Burning left off. Iles does a great job of quickly recapping, so that new readers could jump into the book. (But seriously, you need to read the first book)

Lawyer Penn Cage is the mayor of Natchez, Mississippi. Between himself, his newspaper editor fiancee, his father Tom and others, they have uncovered and exposed the dirty underbelly of Natchez and surrounding Louisiana. Secrets, killings and corruption, racial hatred, greed, crime and political malfeasance of the worst kind imaginable. The perpetrators are so well placed and have been in power for so long that it seems nothing can take them down. And then comes the revelation that this shadowy group may have been responsible for the deaths of American leaders. (Gentle readers be warned - there are graphic scenes and descriptions)

Iles's plotting is simply spectacular - intricately imagined and complexly drawn with a hefty dose of (frightening) fact mixed in. I did check out many many references online to see if they were real - they were. In fact it's almost impossible to try and explain the book - there are so many threads and characters. Each and every character Iles brings to the page is fully developed and the reader can't help but become engaged (or disgusted) with every player. I've been a fan of Penn Cage from the first book, but Tom and his old ranger buddy Walt were the underdogs I was cheering for this time. The 'bad guys' are well - just plain ugly.

I described Natchez Burning as powerful, gripping, thrilling, sweeping and simply spectacular - and I'll use those same words to describe The Bone Tree. 800+ plus pages of absolutely epic reading. Read an excerpt of The Bone Tree. A reading guide is also available.

This reader will be waiting and watching for the third and concluding book. There's no date or title as of yet, but Iles says "The release date of the final book in the trilogy is not set in stone at this time. I have a feeling that the TV series currently in the works might make me let go of that final book faster than I might otherwise have done, which I hope is good news for readers"

Finding Jake: A Novel
Finding Jake: A Novel
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Price: CDN$ 17.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Laney is fine, but Simon is the last parent waiting - ..., May 2 2015
3.5/5 We've all read the horrendous stories and watched the news footage - shootings at schools....

Bryan Reardon's new novel, Finding Jake uses a school shooting as a starting point for his book.

Simon is a stay at home dad to Laney and Jake, while his wife heads out to her job as a lawyer each day. One fateful day, there is a shooting at the children's high school. Simon rushes to the school and anxiously waits to be reunited with his kids. Laney is fine, but Simon is the last parent waiting - and Jake is the only child missing. The suspected shooter was a loner, with Jake being his only friend.

Simon has had many doubts about his parenting skills over the years. He found it hard to mix in with the stay at home moms in the neighbourhood. He projected many of his own fears and insecurities on his children. Laney seemed to be unaffected, but Jake is a quiet child, preferring his own company.

As he waits for new, Simon relives Jake's life - from a baby to the young man he is today. And Simon's doubts, questions, self-recriminations, fears and anxieties about himself, his role as a parent, his childrearing abilities and his son are laid bare on the page. How well does he know his child? Where is Jake? His body was not inside the school - where could he be? Is he alive? Could he possibly be involved? What more could he have to protect his child? What did he do wrong?

Everything we learn is from Simon's point of view. It is as much a search for who is son his as it is a self exploration of himself as a father, husband and person. Despite his self realization, I found it hard to like Simon. As Simon's memories progress through the years, the picture we have of Jake changes. The ending was not at all predictable, though unsettling.

I found the back and forth between the past and present quite addictive. Reardon's prose have such a ring of authenticity to them - he eloquently articulates the fears we all harbour as parents. Reardon himself left an office job to stay home with his twin newborns.

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