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Luanne Ollivier

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Never Coming Back
Never Coming Back
by Tim Weaver
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.65
24 used & new from CDN$ 17.64

4.0 out of 5 stars I like the premise of finding the missing, July 23 2014
This review is from: Never Coming Back (Hardcover)
Tim Weaver is a best selling author in the UK, but Never Coming Back is his first release in North America.

Never Coming Back is actually the fourth book in Weaver's David Raker series. Raker, a former journalist, is now a missing persons investigator - indeed, he is driven by the need to 'find the lost.'

While visiting family in Devon, Raker is approached by an old girlfriend. She's heard about Raker's talents and wants to hire him as her sister and family have gone missing. More than missing - it's like they've disappeared. Everything in the house was left, including dinner on the table and the family dog - and not a trace of them since. The police investigation seems to have hit a dead end. Raker is intrigued by the case and agrees to look into it.

I admit to feeling slightly lost in the first few chapters as there are two seeming protagonists. Colm Healy is a retired Met officer who is living with Raker. Reference is made to past cases and occurrences in the beginning. However as the book progressed, I quickly caught up with who was who and realized that Raker was the lead. (But I found Healy obnoxious and abrasive and I wasn't quite sure of his role in this book. It would be interesting to read the past three books to see what has gone on before)

I too was hooked by the missing family. Where could they have gone? Taken or gone by their own decision?

Weaver tantalizingly includes italicized chapters from the past, starting eighteen months ago and moving forward until past and present meet. The first entry had me wondering how in the world this would tie in with the family's disappearance. The who is revealed, but the why is the largest part of the plot and definitely kept me guessing.

Weaver's plot is big and far reaching - the novel has two settings - England and Las Vegas. Weaver does a great job with bringing his settings to life. (I was fascinated with the abandoned village in England) Weaver's tale is dark and gritty, with a violent antagonist who is particularly chilling I thought a few of the plot twists were a bit far-fetched, but this didn't detract from my rapid page turning. The ending was great, with a last turn that I did not see coming. I appreciate being surprised in the final pages of a book.

I like Raker as a character, as well as the missing persons idea. I wouldn't hesitate to pick up another book by this author. The fifth in the series, Fall From Grace, releases in the UK mid August

Peter Pan Must Die (Dave Gurney, No. 4): A Novel
Peter Pan Must Die (Dave Gurney, No. 4): A Novel
by John Verdon
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.77
24 used & new from CDN$ 16.37

4.0 out of 5 stars Great characters, intricate plot, July 21 2014
John Verdon has just released Peter Pan Must Die, the fourth book in his Dave Gurney series. I've been a fan from Verdon's first release, Think of a Number.

Dave Gurney is a retired NYPD homicide detective, who had one of the highest clear rates in the department. Now, he and his wife Madeleine have moved to the country. Madeleine has embraced the change, but Dave can't seem to let his past life go. He's been approached over the past few years to help solve the unsolvable. He can't seem to say no, despite the danger that pursuing answers brings to his doorstep.

Jack Hardwick (another recurring character) has left law enforcement to hang out his shingle as a private detective. His fledgling case is that of a woman already convicted of murdering her husband. He's been hired to re investigate the case - and he wants Dave's help. Dave agrees to have a look, but doesn't commit until...

"It was little more that the clicking together of the first two pieces of a five-hundred-piece puzzle, but it felt good. A click was a click. And the first click had a special power."

Sometimes a crime series has characters or plot as its strength. In Verdon's case, its both. Dave Gurney is a wonderful character. His puzzle solving skills, his reasoning and his careful, analytical mind make solving case along side of him great reading. It is intriguing to follow along with his thought processes as he links together seemingly disparate incidents and clues. But this character is not one dimensional. Instead Verdon also explores Gurney's psyche and the reasons he constantly puts himself in danger. This drive for answers also exposes his loved ones to danger, especially Madeleine. I've come to appreciate Dave as a person more over the course of the last three books. But, I have to say that I really, really enjoy Madeleine. Her view of life, her intelligence, her joy in everything she she sees and does makes her my favourite. The relationship between her and Dave has been explored further with every entry in this series and is as much of interest to this reader as the cases. As Dave says:

" Our minds work differently. I get into something and just sort of stay in it. Madeleine has a way of changing her focus, of paying total attention to whatever's in front of her - adapting to the moment. She's always present, if you know what I mean."

Verdon does a spectacular job with his plotting. Where you think the story will go is turned around several times over the course of the book. A few plot devices seemed a bit far fetched, but didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book.

I quite enjoy this series and will be watching for number five. You could read any of the books as a stand alone, but I bet you'll be hunting down the other three!

All Fall Down: A Novel
All Fall Down: A Novel
Offered by Simon & Schuster Canada, Inc.
Price: CDN$ 16.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Addiction can be found everywhere, July 16 2014
I've been a fan of Jennifer Weiner from her first novel, Good in Bed. Her latest book, All Fall Down, has just released.

You know that analogy about the duck gliding serenely across the surface of the water - but what you can't see is how fast its feet are moving under the water? Well that is Allison Weiss's life.

On the surface she has it all - a beautiful home, a handsome husband, an adorable daughter and a very successful career as a blogger.

But lately her husband Dave has become distant, her daughter Ellie has behaviour issues, their house still looks like they just moved in, there are financial worries, her father has onset dementia, her mother isn't coping and the pressure to produce for the blog is all adding to the stress and pressure in Allison's life. The answer? A pill, or two, or three....

"Not one thing, but dozens of them, piling up against one another until the pills became less a luxury than a necessity for getting myself through the day and falling asleep at night."

While waiting to see the pediatrician, she idly fills out a magazine questionnaire and realizes...But she's not an addict, right? She can control it. And cut back if she wants to. Right?

As Weiner's tale unravels, so does Allie's life. The reader can empathize with her busy life and her stressors and can almost....but not quite, buy her rationalizations. And we can only watch as Allie's life mirrors that roller coaster on the cover and plunges downward.

Allison is not always a likable character - and that's to be expected given her situation. But I did like her voice. The supporting cast was a mixed bag. I thought Allie's mother's story was just as heartbreaking and telling. I was disappointed in Dave - he had suspicions of what was going on with Allie, but chose to not 'push' the issue, until things were far beyond the point of no return. I quite enjoyed Ellie's CAPITAL pronouncements.

What's frightening is that this book is not so far removed from the truth. Addiction doesn't always take place in a back alley in a bad part of town. I thought the ending was perfect - because life rarely is.

While Weiner's earlier books had more of a 'chick lit' feel to them, her later works tackle more serious subjects - contemporary women, their issues, emotions, thoughts and modern day life. She does it with warmth, humour, compassion and a sense of reality.

Save the Date
Save the Date
by Mary Kay Andrews
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 19.44
29 used & new from CDN$ 17.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Five stars for a fun read, July 14 2014
This review is from: Save the Date (Hardcover)
My summer reading list would not be complete without the latest book from Mary Kay Andrews.

Save the Date is another wonderfully warm, funny, romantic read that's a must for your beach bag.

Andrews populates her books with lovable, quirky characters that you wish you could actually count among your friends.

In Save the Date, we meet Cara Kryzik, a florist trying to make a go of her fledgling business in Savannah. She lands one big society wedding that could make or break her reputation - and her bank account. Can she pull it off? Or will fate conspire against her? Her landlord wants to sell her building, her loan is being called in and her trusted assistant is acting funny. Then a well known 'society' florist opens a shop in Savannah, determined to put Cara out of business..... And what about that builder that 'kidnapped' her dog? And why is he at every wedding she's working?

I was captured from first page to last. All the elements are there - a main character you can't help but cheer for, a hunky guy, that will they, they won't they romantic storyline, an eclectic supporting cast and an antagonist you can't help but dislike! All of it is wrapped up in distinctly enjoyable dialogue and situations, making Save the Date a sweet, easy, breezy read.

I really enjoyed some of the wedding ideas and descriptions and learned quite a bit about flowers as well. Andrews's books are set in the South, where she herself makes her home. Her descriptions of time and place make me want to visit the settings.(Or in the case of Tybee Island - move there)

My usual fare is mysteries and thrillers, but I enjoy a good 'chick lit' book. Andrews always fills the bill - and for this reader, Save the Date was a really good read.

California: A Novel
California: A Novel
by Edan Lepucki
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.18
19 used & new from CDN$ 18.18

4.0 out of 5 stars Not so far in the future perhaps..., July 11 2014
This review is from: California: A Novel (Hardcover)
California is Edan Lepucki's debut novel.

I am infatuated with dystopian and apocalyptic novels. The description of California immediately caught my eye...

"The world Cal and Frida have always known is gone, and they've left the crumbling city of Los Angeles far behind them. They now live a shack in the wilderness, working side by side to make their days tolerable in the face of hardship.....But the tentative existence they've built for themselves is turned upside down when Frida finds out she's pregnant."

There hasn't been a great nuclear war or one significant event that has heralded the end of the world that Cal and Frida knew. Instead it has been a series of natural disasters and reluctant but necessary acceptance of the way things are now. Society has eroded into the haves and the have nots. While Cal and Frida make their home in a shack, those that can afford to, live in safe, gated communities with food, health care and more. I immediately thought that this scenario is not that far off - having just read a newspaper story of water being turned off - the city of Detroit sprang to mind.

I wanted to know to know more about the erosion of society, but this isn't the focus of the book. Instead it is what comes after. I also wanted to know what lay beyond the woods that Cal and Frida have settled in. Are the rumours of other outsider settlements true?

I'm always fascinated by an author's world building in such novels. Lepucki does a good job imagining what might be. I think because it is so 'near future' and absolutely believable that the world of California is all the more chilling.

There are a great number of varied characters populating California. Of the two lead characters I was drawn to and empathized with Cal. I have to say that I didn't like Frida at all as I found her spoiled and selfish. But several of the players from 'beyond' the woods really captured my interest.

Much, if not most of the book, is focused on the characters and their interactions - between couples, family, friends and strangers. A society rebuilding does not necessarily learn from it's past mistakes. Much of what happens can be sadly predicted. Lepucki infuses this rebuilding with a plot that was slowly (and a bit maddeningly) revealed. The buildup to the end in the last quarter of the book is tension and action filled and had me reading just another chapter before bed. But the actual ending left me feeling somewhat unfulfilled. I found it anti-climatic after the journey to get there. It's a bit nebulous, leaving the reader to their own inferences as to what happens going forward.

Still, California was a strong debut and I would be interested in reading Lepucki's next novel.

The Tilted World: A Novel
The Tilted World: A Novel
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Price: CDN$ 13.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!, July 9 2014
Oh, where to start.....I absolutely loved The Tilted World by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly! I literally started the book on a Sunday morning and feverishly read until I turned the last page the same night.

Franklin and Fennelly have set their book in 1927 Mississippi - at the time of one of the greatest natural disasters ever to occur in the US. The flood flattened 'almost a million homes, drowning twenty-seven thousand square miles and the water remained for four months. Over 330,000 people were rescued from trees, roofs, and levees."

Dixie Clay Holliver lives along the Mississippi at a bend in the river called Hobnob. Dixie's life isn't quite what she imagined it would be when she married Jesse. Turns out that Jesse is a moonshiner. The loss of her infant son has only added to her grief at the direction her life has taken. But, Dixie does the cooking now - she's better at it than Jesse.

Teddy Ingersoll is a revenuer. In this time of prohibition, Teddy and his partner Ham are always on the move. On their way to Hobnob to investigate the disappearance of two other agents, they come across the lone survivor of a shoot out - an infant boy. Inexplicably, Ingersoll is determined to find a home for the child. When they arrive in Hobnob, Dixie Clay is mentioned as woman who might take in an orphan.

And with that, Dixie and Ingersoll's lives and fates are crossed.

The Tilted World is such a strong novel is every sense of the world. The characters are brilliant. I was so captured by Dixie Clay - her strength, fortitude and abilities belie the hurt beneath her tough exterior. Ingersoll is much the same, with that same strength and fortitude, but no real purpose or direction in his heart.

The setting is just as much of a character in the book as Dixie and Ingersoll. Franklin and Fennelly have done a phenomenal job in bringing time and place to the page. The detailed descriptions of the town, the woods and most of all, the water created vivid mental images for this reader.

Dual narratives are used in The Tilted World to good effect, allowing the reader to be privy to the thoughts of both protagonists.

The Tilted World exemplifies storytelling at it's finest. I was completely caught up in Franklin and Fennelly's tale. I knew what I wanted to happen, I was afraid of what might happen and I couldn't read fast enough to see what did happen. The Tilted World is absolutely recommended.

All Day and a Night: A Novel of Suspense (Ellie Hatcher)
All Day and a Night: A Novel of Suspense (Ellie Hatcher)
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Price: CDN$ 17.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great read from Alafair Burke, July 7 2014
I tell you, Alafair Burke just gets better and better with every book. (And she was pretty darn good to start with!)

Her latest release is All Day and A Night, the fifth book in her Detective Ellie Hatcher series.

A psychotherapist is murdered in her office. The murder includes unusual elements that echo astring of murders committed almost twenty years - details never revealed to the public. Anthony Amaro was convicted for the murder of those five women and sentenced to life without parole aka all day and a night. Could he be innocent, as he has proclaimed from day one? An ambitious lawyer named Nancy Grace and Carrie, a woman with ties to one of the victims, think he might be. The District Attorney also thinks his case deserves another look. Hatcher and her partner Rogan are assigned to take a 'fresh look.' Is that fresh look going to be hampered by the fact that Ellie is in a relationship with the DA?

I really enjoy Ellie as a character. She's tough, outspoken and driven. I enjoy following the evolution of a character and Burke lets Ellie make some personal decisions in this latest novel. Rogan is a favourite as well - although we are aware of his personal life, it's not to the same degree as the lead role. I would like to see and know more about him.

The antagonists in this book are strongly drawn. Nancy Grace is very easy to dislike, as is Amara. Carrie keeps us guessing as she provides a back and forth perspective on Amara's guilt or innocence.

Burke has created a great set of recurring characters, but the real strength in All Day and A Night was the plotting. The police work is logical and straight forward, allowing the reader to piece together the clues along with Rogan and Hatcher. I had my suspicions about three quarters of the way through, but Burke threw in enough twists and turns to keep things really interesting. Burke's law background gives her legal and criminal situations added dimension and the ring of truth.

Readers new to Alafair Burke would be able to easily read and enjoy this latest novel without having read previous books in the series - although I encourage you to pick up Burke's back list.

2 Autumns, 3 Winters (Version française)
2 Autumns, 3 Winters (Version française)
DVD ~ Vincent Macaigne
Price: CDN$ 17.99
13 used & new from CDN$ 15.16

3.0 out of 5 stars Just okay for this viewer, July 4 2014
2 Autumns, 3 Winters is from French director Sébastien Betbeder.

Thirty something Arman literally bumps into Amelie while out jogging. He contrives to run into her again and eventually does. Arman's best friend Benjamin suffers a stroke and while recuperating, makes a connection with his physical therapist.

Those are the players. And the rest of the film is a series of vignettes and ruminations from the characters on life, love, moments and memories.

Some of the film is shot so it appears as though a hand held camera was used. I dislike this style - I find the movement jarring and hard to watch. The addition of labelled chapters also added to the 'homemade' feel.

In much of the film, the actors are speaking directly to the viewer. (And sometimes when they are in a scene with another actor) Although you would think this would provide an intimate relationship between actor and viewer, for me it didn't. Initially I was interested in the four, learning of their lives and wondering what would happen over the course of the film. But as the film progressed, I found myself becoming tired and frankly somewhat bored with the almost repetitiveness of their ruminations.

From the director: "I wanted the narrative to be dense, to alternate between serious, critical moments in the lives of these young people, and more incidental moments that have no real impact. I wanted to talk about death and shopping at the grocery store, about love and reality TV."

Initially I connected with the main character Arman (Vincent Macaigne). His attempts to meet Amelie (Maud Wyler) were engaging. And I liked him at the end of the film. But in between, he seemed to almost overact. And I know this is petty, but I found myself tuning out and instead his hair became my focus, instead of his lines. He's always flipping it back, it's dirty and greasy and growing it long and doing a comb over does not hide the large bald spot at the back.

There are many film references that will be noted by avid film buffs. Through my own lacking, I was unable to appreciate many of these homages.

2 Autumns, 3 Winters was just too 'arty' for this viewer. However, the bonus short film, Business Trip, that Film Movement always includes was just excellent.

The Kraken Project
The Kraken Project
by Douglas Preston
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 19.44
34 used & new from CDN$ 16.75

3.0 out of 5 stars Wyman Ford 4, July 2 2014
This review is from: The Kraken Project (Hardcover)
3.5/5 Douglas Preston is one half of the successful writing duo Preston and Child. In audition to their co-written titles, each author also writes on their own!

Preston's latest release is The Kraken Project, the 4th book in his Wyman Ford series. Wyman is a former CIA agent with skills and knowledge that are called into play in unusual circumstances.

Melissa Shepherd is the AI (Artificial Intelligence) programming genius behind "Dorothy" NASA computer probe scheduled to head to one of Saturn's moons. But when a test run goes wrong in the lab, Dorothy thinks for herself - and escapes into the Internet in order to 'live'.

Her knowledge and ability to learn is reaching frightening levels - and she has no intention of 'going back in the box.'

Ford is tasked with finding Melissa, who has gone into hiding. Will the two of them find Dorothy before she wreaks havoc? But others are looking for Dorothy as well - and their motives aren't as noble.

The Kraken Project is a good summer beach read. Suspend disbelief on some of the plot points and just go with it. Preston knows how to come up with a good idea for a story and build in lots of action to keep the story moving along. Ford is a likable protagonist. We get a few glimpses into the personalities of our two lead characters, but for the most part, the book is strictly plot driven. Although, Dorothy has a personality too. I'm not sure I enjoyed Jacob, the young teenage boy added in as Dorothy's companion. I found him too whiny and his dialogue and actions seemed quite wooden and forced. (same for his father) An easy read, but not the best from Preston in my opinion.

Preston could not have predicted at the time he was writing his novel that the computer 'Eugene' would pass the Turing Test, fooling humans into thinking that it too was human. Kinda scary - fiction becoming fact!

The Ways of the Dead: A Novel
The Ways of the Dead: A 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 Great debut - first in a new series, July 1 2014
4.5/5 It's no secret that crime novels and thrillers are my favourite type of book to read. I'm always on the lookout for new authors in these genres . And it's always a good bet to see a blurb from one of my favourite authors. Such is the case with Neely Tucker's debut fiction novel The Ways of the Dead.

"If this is Tucker's first novel, I can't wait for what's coming next." - Michael Connelly

I love opening scenes that grab my attention right away and have me wondering what's next...

1999. Teenager Sarah Reese takes lessons from a celebrated dance instructor in Washington, DC. But the studio is on the wrong side of the tracks. And Sarah is in the wrong place at the wrong time.....

Sarah's case garners lots of attention as her father is the Chief Judge of the Federal Court. And it catches the eye of reporter Sullivan Carter as well. But Sully sees a bigger picture - there's more to this story. And no one seems to want him to uncover it....

The best protagonists for crime books are the walking wounded, the ones who buck authority, the ones who just can't let things be or let justice go unserved. Sully Carter fills the bill on every count. He's battling PTSD, alcohol and anger issues, his bosses and manages to step on toes everywhere he goes. He's also a confidant of the one of DC's crimelords. Flawed but driven.

Neely's dialogue is effortless and believable. The plotting was really, really good. Actual events in the 1990's were the inspiration behind the book. But Neely takes his novel in directions I didn't predict. (another big plus)

Neely's background is rich and wide and varied. His own experience as a journalist is evident in his writing. Neely's descriptions of time and place were vivid and I had strong mental images of the streets and back alleys of the neighbourhood.

The Ways of the Dead is gritty, grim and oh so good. I wholeheartedly agree with Michael Connelly's blurb - I too will be watching for the next book in this series.

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