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Luanne Ollivier
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Marvel Comics: 75 Years of Cover Art
Marvel Comics: 75 Years of Cover Art
by DK
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 33.91
18 used & new from CDN$ 33.91

5.0 out of 5 stars they've put together a great selection of books in their Fan Expo Boutique, Aug. 26 2015
Fan Expo? Well, the term Comic Con might be more familiar to you, but Fan Expo Canada is currently the 3rd largest pop culture event in North America! And its happening Sept 3-6 in Toronto this year. You might be saying to yourself - Luanne are you going? Umm, no, not my thing (although Norman Reedus from The Walking Dead is going be there....) But boy, oh boy is it up my husband's alley!

DK Canada is also going to be there - and in anticipation, they've put together a great selection of books in their Fan Expo Boutique.

"Want to find out more about the Avengers impressive roster of members? (Was Ant-Man ever a member?) Do you feel the urge to brush up on your Star Wars backstory in anticipation of the upcoming Star Wars The Force Awakens? (who did R4-P17 belong to?) Each of the titles here are perfect for fans who want to discover more about their favourite heroes, villains, TV shows and films! Fully illustrated with fantastic archival photographs and illustrations and expertly annotated text, these are books to fuel any fan's love."

And fans are going to love Marvel Comics: 75 Years of Cover Art. My husband did!

The book is arranged chronologically, starting with covers and superheros from 1938 right through to 2013. Each entry has a full colour picture of the comic cover, accompanied by a blurb detailing the year, the artist and the significance of each. (Note: not every cover is a full page - some are two up.) I loved comics when I was younger as, I had access to a young uncle's collection from the 1950's. I must admit - I ended up picking up the book a number of times and flipping through, and then I just went back and started at the beginning. It's absolutely fascinating to see the evolution of cover art from pre-war years to the current movie craze.

Many I recognized, but there were some I'd never heard of - how about Patsy Walker who evolved into Hellcat? Or Millie the Model - I'd love to own this one. My husband was all over the ones he remembers - The Avengers, The Fantastic Four, Spiderman, X-Men and a host of others. And some were new to him - Devil Dinosaur and Moon-Boy!? (I was called over many times to 'see')

DK books are always quality - thick glossy stock, vivid, true colours, great information - and addicting. Marvel Comics: 75 Years of Cover Art is, well, simply marvelous. It's a great coffee table book - and everyone who has visited in the last few weeks has picked it and found something they just have to comment on.

75 Years of Cover Art comes in a tough protective sleeve and also has two prints included that could be framed. Hubby's rating - five star. (And I thought it was pretty great too!)

The Hesitation Cut: A novel
The Hesitation Cut: A novel
by Giles Blunt
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.00
2 used & new from CDN$ 15.00

4.0 out of 5 stars The Hesitation Cut, Aug. 26 2015
I am a big fan of Giles Blunt's John Cardinal mystery series. But I've also enjoyed his stand alone novels that cover a broader range of style and themes.

Blunt's latest novel, The Hesitation Cut, is another stand alone novel that is dark, unsettling and so very hard to put down.

Brother William has lived in the Our Lady of Peace Monastery for the last ten years. He's outwardly happy with his life and his work in the library. But when Lauren, a young female poet comes to the monastery's library to do some research, life changes - for both Brother William and Lauren.

Brother William can't stop thinking about her - her looks, her voice, and that scar on her wrist. She just seems so sad......Brother William makes Lauren his next calling - he can help her, save her and look out for her. And so, he leaves the monastery and heads to New York City as Peter to find her.

And he does. But Peter's desire to help evolves into desire alone. Obsessive desire.

Neither Peter or Lauren is a likeable character. (The character I liked the most was Lauren's on again off again boyfriend Mick - and he has serious flaws as well.) As the story progresses, both characters alternate between victim and perpetrator. Obviously both characters have mental health issues and their meeting is simply the fuse for an implosion in both their lives.

That fuse is slow burning. The reader is helpless, along for the ride, as Blunt builds the tension and the suspense with another layer, another incident and another nuance until it seems there can be no turning back. Sharp eyed readers will take note of a few off the cuff remarks that hint at something more in Peter's past.

As he did in Breaking Lorca, Blunt has crafted an intense psychological study in the pages of The Hesitation Cut, exploring love, hope, devotion, faith and obsession. But it's also an excellent thriller that keeps the reader wondering what is going to happen next - and to whom.

No Other Darkness: A Detective Inspector Marnie Rome Mystery
No Other Darkness: A Detective Inspector Marnie Rome Mystery
by Sarah Hilary
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 18.00
27 used & new from CDN$ 6.67

4.0 out of 5 stars Someone Else's Skin last year and thought it was fantastic. Hilary's second novel, Aug. 19 2015
I picked up Sarah Hilary's debut (and award winning) novel, Someone Else's Skin last year and thought it was fantastic. Hilary's second novel, No Other Darkness is newly released - and just as fantastic.

Detective Inspector Marnie Rome returns - and this latest case is a doozy. A homeowner in a newer subdivision is digging in his back garden when he uncovers the entrance to an old underground bunker. But what he finds inside is heartbreaking - two small skeletons curled up together on a camp bed. And there are tins of food, toys and clothing stored about as well. Who are these children? Why would someone provide for them, then leave them to die?

DI Rome's team is incensed, as is the public. But, as they dig deeper, they find there is much more to the story. I'm going to leave it at that, as I don't want to give anything away. But - Hilary's plotting is inventive, complex and oh, so very good. There are many tendrils, threads and paths to pick from on the way to the final whodunit. And best of all, I wasn't able to predict where the story was going to go. I really enjoy being kept on my toes. Hilary's first book explored domestic abuse, racism and homophobia as part of her plot. She again includes salient issues as part of the investigation.

And speaking of complex, let's talk about Marnie Rome. For, as much as I applaud Hilary's plotting, it is this character that had me eager to read the next book in the series. Rome's own background mirrors many of her cases - her parents were horrifically murdered. And that past is never far from the present. She knew the killer - and they are still in contact as she tries to find the answer as to why he killed them. Rome is a strong female lead - smart, driven and intuitive. She does prefer to operate on her own terms - sometimes to her detriment. The past effects her view of the present and she often makes judgement calls with those memories colouring her decisions - not always the wisest move. Rome's right hand, DS Jake is a great character as well. He has his own back story and it too is fleshed out even more in this second book.

The pace is quick, the crime is arresting and the characters are captivating. (And that cover is creepy!) An absolutely recommended book - but do yourself a favour - pick up the first book as well.

Woman with a Secret: A Novel
Woman with a Secret: A Novel
by Sophie Hannah
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.05
32 used & new from CDN$ 14.62

4.0 out of 5 stars I thought she did a great job writing in the style of Christie but still ..., Aug. 19 2015
3.5 Last year, Sophie Hannah penned a new Hercule Poirot novel in the style of Agatha Christie. I thought she did a great job writing in the style of Christie but still injecting a bit of her own inflection into the story. That was the first I've read of Hannah's work, so I was eager to pick up her latest North American release, Woman With A Secret. (Note: Woman With A Secret was published in the UK as The Telling Error.)

Hannah grabs the reader's attention right off the bat with the opening prologue - a ad on a 'personals' website - looking for a woman who wants to share her secret...."and then there's the sort of intimacy that involves two people sharing nothing more than a secret. An important secret that matters to both of them."...that then goes on to describe an unusual murder scene.

Nicki Clements is a woman with a lot of secrets - secrets she never wants to see the light of day. When a noted (and reviled) newspaper columnist is found murdered, Nicki is driving near the crime area. Her very attempt to avoid the police check in the neighbourhood brings her to the attention of Detective Chief Simon Waterhouse and his team. But Nicki is not the only person of interest.

Hannah provides the reader with a plethora of suspects, each with their own reason to want Damon Blundy dead. A number of Blundy's vitriolic columns are inserted between chapters. But, it is Nicki in the reader's forefront. She hints at her past, at events and happenings that only serve to keep the reader turning pages. " Being bad and getting away with it: there's not feeling like it." But is she telling us the truth? Nicki is a self proclaimed liar - always has been. (Unreliable narrators are all the rage these days.)

There are numerous characters to keep track of in the both the investigation and the investigators. I admit to feeling slightly overwhelmed with all of them and their personal histories. It was only after finishing the book that I discovered that this was the 9th book in the Simon Waterhouse and Charlie Zailer series. I did quite like these two characters - and a few others in the department, but everyone else was quite despicable and ugly in nature.

Hannah is a clever, clever writer both in prose and plotting. Her character studies are quite fascinating. However, I must admit, by the final pages I just wanted to be finished - I had grown weary of all the convoluted machinations by every player. And there were a few loose ends not quite tied up. (Yes, I'm one of those people who wants everything and everyone accounted for by The End.)

Woman With A Secret was a middle of the road read for me. Not fantastic, but not terrible.

The Wonder of All Things
The Wonder of All Things
by Jason Mott
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.96
28 used & new from CDN$ 10.10

3.0 out of 5 stars love and loss, Aug. 14 2015
Ce commentaire est de: The Wonder of All Things (Paperback)
Jason Mott's latest novel, The Wonder of All Things, has just been released in paperback.

Mott revisits a premise explored by numerous authors - a miracle and the aftermath.

When an accident threatens to take the life of her friend Wash, young Ava doesn't think, doesn't know how, but she puts her hands on Wash and the gaping wound is healed. And then the proverbial cat is out of the bag - the news spreads and the circus begins.

Their small town is invaded by the press and those looking to be healed. The medical community pokes and prods Ava and the religious sects want to own her. Her widowed father Macon is torn between protecting his daughter and being caught up in the frenzy.

While it is not a new premise for a book, Mott examines it with his own interpretation, exploring the themes of obligation, family, love and loss. Mott has beautiful prose - his turns of phrases, descriptions and dialogues are eloquently expressed. It's worth reading slowly to savor the sense and the story he builds. People magazine called The Wonder of All Things 'spellbinding'.

While I enjoyed the book, I found I didn't like many of the characters. I expected to find myself drawn to Ava, I was - but not a much as I felt I should be. I was very disappointed with Macon. My favourite character ended up being Brenda, Wash's grandmother. A series of vignettes from the past of Ava and her mother are a lovely interlude, but provide no answers as to why her mother died.

Mott gives the reader an emotional ride of a read - you'll vacillate between sadness, shock, anger, hope, denial and more. And the ending? Fitting I think, but have the hankies ready.

On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City
On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City
by Alice Goffman
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 18.50
29 used & new from CDN$ 11.00

4.0 out of 5 stars A view from one side of the street, Aug. 12 2015
Alice Goffman undertook a massive project for her academic dissertation in sociology - an ethnographic study documenting the lives of a group of people living in a predominately black, crime ridden neighborhood in Philadelphia. She ended up doing more than documenting - she lived in and around the 'hood for six years, becoming roommates with two of the young men who figure prominently in her book.

Goffman ends up being accepted as part of the scenery in the pseudonymous 6th Street, welcomed by a group of young men and their families to document their lives. And those lives are full of trouble - crime, drugs, poverty, arrests, warrants and any other number of hardships. Goffman immerses herself in part their lives, crossing the impartial observer line in many cases to become a participant.

Her statistics regarding young, poor black men are frightening. This book does serve to underscore what we see almost every day on news feeds. We also get to know the friends and families of this core group. Goffman does also make connections with people in the neigbourhood who are 'clean' and trying to make a good life without the crime, guns etc. These subjects are just as interesting, but receive less focus.

I did find that some stories were repeated in more than one chapter - Goffman seems to be using certain compelling incidents to illustrate numerous points she wants to highlight. I found the appendix of her own journey to and through the book quite fascinating.

On the Run is an accounting from one side of the street. There are some questions as to the veracity of some of the anecdotes and interactions that Goffman describes. Some of her own motives, behaviors and recollections have been called into question. Despite that, On the Run does provide much food for thought - and discussion.

Broken Promise: A Promise Falls Novel
Broken Promise: A Promise Falls Novel
by Linwood Barclay
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 23.99

5.0 out of 5 stars I didn't read any synopses - I knew I would love it, (as I have all his other books) ..., Aug. 11 2015
've been eagerly awaiting the release of Linwood Barclay's new book - Broken Promise. I didn't read any synopses - I knew I would love it, (as I have all his other books) and wanted to be completely surprised.

Well, wasn't I surprised to find many characters I already knew and enjoyed living in the pages of this new book....

Newspaper reporter David Harwood (Never Look Away) moves back to his hometown to provide a better life for his young son. But he loses his job shortly after returning and is forced to move back in with his parents. He's on an errand for his mom when he stops in at his cousin Marla's house and discovers her with a baby that 'an angel dropped off.' Marla's baby died at birth - so whose baby is this?

Promise Falls Detective Barry Duckworth (a favourite character of mine who was in Too Close to Home, Never Look Away and Trust Your Eyes) has his hands full. In addition to the baby case, someone has ritualistically slaughtered and displayed 23 squirrels, a ride at the defunct amusement park in town is up and running - with mannequins in seat 23, and a rapist is on the prowl at the local college.

Uh huh, lots going on.....I wondered how is Barclay going to tie all of this together?

I find Barclay's storytelling so engaging. We are introduced to many of the residents of Promise Falls. Backgrounds and personal storylines are detailed - some more than others. The reader is never sure who is going to play a part - and how large and in what capacity. I loved the detail and the ensemble cast - it somewhat reminded me of Stephen King's narrative style. (King calls Barclay "A suspense master.")

But are these the only crimes in Broken Promise? Or just the only ones we know about? There's lots of hinting at events in the past that may paint a larger picture - snippets and tendrils tease the reader. Clues to many of the current crimes are quietly inserted at the end of some chapters, slowly building the answers to whodunit. I did figure out one of the crimes before the end, but I was happy to discover that I was not completely right. And that there's more to the story of Promise Falls.

Now, I've read that a few readers feel cheated at the ending as not every loose end was tied up. This reader? I loved it - especially now that I know there will be two more novels in the 'Promise' series! The next book, Far From True, is due out in March 2016. A must read for me!

Cooper Cases (TM) Enterprise Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard in Black (Universal Compatibility w/ Android/iOS/Windows Devices; Sleek Cambered Ergonomic Design; 78-Key English QWERTY Keyboard; Bluetooth 3.0 Connectivity; Lightweight, Portable Design; Built-In Anti-Slip Rubber Pads)
Cooper Cases (TM) Enterprise Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard in Black (Universal Compatibility w/ Android/iOS/Windows Devices; Sleek Cambered Ergonomic Design; 78-Key English QWERTY Keyboard; Bluetooth 3.0 Connectivity; Lightweight, Portable Design; Built-In Anti-Slip Rubber Pads)
Offered by Tablet2Cases
Price: CDN$ 49.95

4.0 out of 5 stars This keyboard was a great solution. It's large enough to mimic my laptop ..., Aug. 10 2015
Achat vérifié(Quest-ce que cest?)
I have a tablet, but I find typing on it difficult, as I usually end up one finger pecking. I was interested in a portable keyboard - one large enough that I wouldn't be hunting and pecking. This keyboard was a great solution. It's large enough to mimic my laptop and has a full size QWERTY keyboard (78 keys)

It's a sleek, attractive keyboard with an steel backing that makes if feel quite solid, but lightweight. There are four rubberized feet to provide stability on slippery surfaces. The top is raised to help with wrist strain.

Bluetooth is used to connect this wireless keyboard to your chosen device. I was fairly familiar with how to connect a Bluetooth device - which was good as I found the enclosed instructions poorly written and confusing as it covered many different models of keyboards. Same for the function key listings. I recommend producing one for each product.

The operating distance is 10 meters - handy for heading out on the deck without taking my tab out in the sun. I The sound of the keys is no louder than my laptop. It took very little time to initially charge the battery - advertised to last 90 hours. There is no sleep mode, so remember to turn it off when finished. The USB charging cord is included. It also worked perfectly with my phone.

The shipping time was initially listed as longer than it actually took - it arrived two weeks earlier than promised. It was securely and safely packaged. The product itself is excellent, handy and well made - it's the poor instructions that knock this to 4 stars from 5. (Disclaimer: I did receive this product at a discounted price in exchange for an honest review)

Cooper Cases (TM) Optimus Universal Bluetooth Keyboard in Black & Graphite Grey & Graphite Grey (Sleek Aluminum Body Construction; Collapsible, Compact Portable Design w/ Easy Open/Close Function; 64-Key QWERTY Keyboard; Up to 90 Hours Working Time; Built-in Rechargeable Lithium Battery; Included USB Charging Cable)
Cooper Cases (TM) Optimus Universal Bluetooth Keyboard in Black & Graphite Grey & Graphite Grey (Sleek Aluminum Body Construction; Collapsible, Compact Portable Design w/ Easy Open/Close Function; 64-Key QWERTY Keyboard; Up to 90 Hours Working Time; Built-in Rechargeable Lithium Battery; Included USB Charging Cable)
Offered by Tablet2Cases
Price: CDN$ 74.95

5.0 out of 5 stars And specifically one that was portable - to be able to comfortably keep up with my blogging at work, Aug. 10 2015
Achat vérifié(Quest-ce que cest?)
I have a tablet, but I find typing on it difficult, as I usually end up one finger pecking. Takes longer and annoys me. So I was looking for a keyboard that I could use with my tablet. And specifically one that was portable - to be able to comfortably keep up with my blogging at work, on planes and while staying at someone else's home. Pretty much anywhere I am.

This keyboard was the perfect solution. It's tiny, but has a full QWERTY keyboard. It's small, but big enough that I'm not hunting and pecking to type. But the best part of all? It folds up! The two ends fold back on the center piece making it completely portable. It's small enough to slip into my purse. (3.5" x 5.5") and incredibly light. The hinging mechanism is actually a slider - it works easily and seems sturdy enough to stand up to repeated opening and closing. The exterior case is an aluminum alloy - also sturdy - and attractive.

Bluetooth is used to connect this wireless keyboard to your chosen device. I found the enclosed instructions clear and easy to follow. (and also discovered that the operating distance is 10 meters! I tried it out and yep, it is!) I tried it out with both my tablet and phone and it was great. The instructions also include a list of function key assignments. I had intially only thought of this working with portable devices, but it says it will work with Windows as well.

It took very little time to initially charge the battery - advertised to last 90 hours. It does have a sleep mode to save the battery life as well. I haven't used 90 hours yet, but will track it. The USB charging cord is included. The sound of the keys is no louder than my laptop.

The shipping time was initially listed as longer than it actually took - it arrived two weeks earlier than promised. It was securely and safely packaged. The wait was well worth it - I love it! (Disclaimer: I did receive this product at a discounted price in exchange for an honest review)

Crooked Heart: A Novel
Crooked Heart: A Novel
by Lissa Evans
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 28.67
31 used & new from CDN$ 12.41

5.0 out of 5 stars Heartily recommended, Aug. 5 2015
Ce commentaire est de: Crooked Heart: A Novel (Hardcover)
Oh, I'm telling you right up front that Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans is going to be one of my top reads for 2015!

It's the height of WWII and England is on high alert. Ten year old orphan Neil Bostock is evacuated from London. He lands with Vee - a small time con artist with a good heart, but not great luck. Neil is educated, precocious and misses his suffragette Godmother Mattie terribly. Neil and Vee seem like an unlikely pairing. But 'war makes strange bedfellows.' And they might just have what the other needs.....

Evans has created such tangible characters in Vee and Noel. My opinion of Vee changed as the book progressed - from dismissing her as a hustler, to getting to know her, to empathizing with her losses, and finally to cheering her on, hoping against hope that the ending I want would materialize. We get to know Noel slowly as he assesses his current situation and adapts as need be. I was immediately taken by him. Other supporting characters are just as interesting - I especially enjoyed the myriad letters that Vee's mute mother pens. Mattie makes only a brief appearance, but her presence is large in Noel's life and memories and we come to love her as much as he does. The wartime setting is also a character in Crooked Heart. The rationing, the attitudes, the bombings and more all shape, direct and change the course of Vee and Noel.

Now, yes, there are sad situations, but.....Evans has a wickedly dark sense of humour that's quite appealing. Her sly wit is visible in a description, a look or a snippet of dialogue. Above all, Crooked Heart is entertaining. I read so many books and often find I can predict where a tale will go, or recognize a plot. I truly had no idea where Evans was going to take her tale.

Initially, I took the moral high ground when confronted with Vee's scams. But, my opinion rapidly changed as I got to know Vee and Noel. I found myself soundly in their corner - and hoping they could scam the scammers. Evans nicely explores right and wrong through many characters and situations in Crooked Heart. And by the end, it's impossible to say that a little bit of wrong isn't a little bit right.

I love books that speak to the human condition - life, love, death and everything that comes in between. This unlikely pair totally won my heart. I was sad to turn the last page. But satisfied, very satisfied. Crooked Heart is, well, heartwarming, heartbreaking and oh,so very good. Heartily recommended!

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