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Luanne Ollivier

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Lines Of Wellington
Lines Of Wellington
DVD ~ Nuno Lopes
Price: CDN$ 25.48

4.0 out of 5 stars were really good. As was the setting and the extras, Dec 12 2014
This review is from: Lines Of Wellington (DVD)
3.5/5 This historical film is set in the time of the Napoleonic Wars. The lines are Wellington's fortifications, built over 18 months to turn back the invading French. The film is told through the eyes of numerous characters - a British major, a Portuguese sergeant, and some of those following the war - a prostitute, a mute beggar, a travelling merchant, a wealthy pair of siblings and more.

We are treated to vignettes, both past and present as Sarmiento explores war and its effects on all classes. I became caught up in many of the stories, particularly that of the mute beggar and the Portuguese sergeant. Some of them seemed awkward though, and not to belong - such as the sister of the siblings and her sexual appetites.

I didn't know much about this time period and actually learned quite a bit.

Although John Malkovitch has been given front and centre on the cover, he is really only onscreen for a small amount of time - part of that is reciting the recipe for Beef Wellington. I found it very hard to take him seriously. The other actors, none of whom I knew, were really good. As was the setting and the extras. (although their clothing seemed a little too clean for being on the road)

The film is 150 minutes long, and I ended up watching in two sittings. And honestly, my attention was starting to wander a bit. I enjoyed Lines of Wellington, but not as much as other viewers. As always, there is a bonus short film included. Two Laps was quite funny - a story of two older gentleman and their annual swimming match.

Creatures of the Rock: A Veterinarian's Adventures in Newfoundland
Creatures of the Rock: A Veterinarian's Adventures in Newfoundland
by Andrew Peacock
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.65
3 used & new from CDN$ 20.65

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed the glimpse into life in Newfoundland and I also ..., Dec 10 2014
A young friend of mine has just started her professional career in Newfoundland, leaving behind friends and family, knowing not one soul in her new home.

When I saw Andrew Peacock's newly released memoir, Creatures of the Rock: A Veterinarian's Adventures in Newfoundland, it struck a chord. Hailey, this one's for you!

In 1982 newly minted veterinarian Andrew Peacock and his physician wife (also recently graduated) move from Ontario to Newfoundland to start their professional careers. They too, knew no one. The plan - stay two years.

In Creatures of the Rock, Peacock recounts those first days and the ensuing years in a practice that spanned twenty eight years on the Avalon Peninsula. Peacock was the only vet for 130 miles, on call night and day - and on his own.

His patients ranged from the smallest house pet to one of the largest animals you could imagine - a whale! And of course the owners of those animals are a large part of the story as well. We meet the neighbours and the clients as Peacock and his wife settle into life on the Rock and raise their three children in the small community of Freshwater. I enjoyed the glimpse into life in Newfoundland and I also picked up some animal husbandry knowledge!

Peacock's writing has an ease to it, a tone of conversation almost. His warmth, humour and compassion and love of his profession are evident in his recounting of his years tending to the creatures in his territory. He's a very engaging storyteller.

There are photographs included with the book - it was nice to put a face to a voice I really enjoyed reading. There will be inevitable comparisons to British vet, James Herriot. Peacock acknowledges that those tales were a model for his own. My advice? Pick up Peacock's book - it's homegrown and a really great read. Here's an excerpt of Creatures of the Rock.

Andrew and Ingrid still make their home in Newfoundland. And Hailey's adventures are just beginning....

Bolse® [Apple MFi Certified] 3-Port (25W / 5A) High Output USB Car Chargers, Build-in 2-in-1 Lightning & Micro USB Cable With SmartIC Technology Charging Station for iPhone 6, 5; Samsung Galaxy; iPad Air; Motorola and HTC; Tablet; GPS (White)
Bolse® [Apple MFi Certified] 3-Port (25W / 5A) High Output USB Car Chargers, Build-in 2-in-1 Lightning & Micro USB Cable With SmartIC Technology Charging Station for iPhone 6, 5; Samsung Galaxy; iPad Air; Motorola and HTC; Tablet; GPS (White)

5.0 out of 5 stars I pretty much live on my Ipad, Dec 8 2014
I was impressed with the care taken to package this item - there's no way it would have been damaged in transit.

I have been meaning to get a car charger for awhile now. I pretty much live on my Ipad, (This charger is Apple certified) but charging at work isn't always an option - and I am really bad at remembering to plug in at night. I have a fairly long drive to work, so thi charger is just what I was looking for. The cord is tightly coiled, but extended to almost five feet when stretched. There are two other ports (and they're nicely angled away from the main cord), so being able to charge my phone and any other electronic gizmos at the same time as the Ipad is fantastic! Or letting a passenger charge as well. The ports provided a snug connection. LED lighting lets you know when you're connected and was enough to see by in the dark.

There's protection built in - a fuse makes sure there's not a power overload. And it detects what kind of device has been plugged in and provides the fastest charging time. (And I found the time and charge time really good) I loved the flip-out micro USB connector at the end of the cord! How cool is that!

I see some other reviewers are having trouble plugging in the lightning connection to their protected Ipad. I have the Ultra Thin Magnetic Smart Cover and it works just fine.

The unit has a solid feel to it, seems very well made and comes with a 12 month warranty.Good value for the price.

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

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Peter Robinson is one of authors that can't write a bad book. I've enjoyed the few stand alones that ..., Dec 8 2014
This review is from: Abattoir Blues (Hardcover)
For me, Peter Robinson is one of authors that can't write a bad book. I've enjoyed the few stand alones that he's written, but the Inspector Banks series is my favourite. Abattoir Blues is the newly released 22nd entry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Secret Place
The Secret Place
by Tana French
Edition: Audio CD
Price: CDN$ 35.74
20 used & new from CDN$ 33.97

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Sister's Grave
My Sister's Grave
by Robert Dugoni
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.12
19 used & new from CDN$ 10.78

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

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

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

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

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

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

Want You Dead
Want You Dead
by Peter James
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 21.94
22 used & new from CDN$ 8.73

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shopaholic to the Stars: A Novel
Shopaholic to the Stars: A Novel
Offered by Random House Canada, Incorp.
Price: CDN$ 13.99

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Marco Effect: A Department Q Novel (Department Q 2)
The Marco Effect: A Department Q Novel (Department Q 2)
Offered by Penguin Group USA
Price: CDN$ 15.99

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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