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All the Missing Girls: A Novel
All the Missing Girls: A Novel
by Megan Miranda
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 31.08
16 used & new from CDN$ 21.75

4.0 out of 5 stars Great summer reading!, June 28 2016
Looking for a great suspense summer read? Then you must pick up Megan Miranda's debut adult suspense novel - All the Missing Girls.

Nic Farrell's father is failing. Reluctantly she heads back to her hometown of Cooley Ridge to help her brother deal with things. Nic escaped right after high school graduation ten years ago - right after her best friend Corrinne went missing. The police always thought that Nic and her friends knew more than they were letting on.

But within days of Nic's arrival in town, another young woman goes missing.....

Always a great premise - an unsolved mystery from the past, the present mirroring that past and the same players involved. Who knows what? What are they hiding? Why?

"The official line: Corrinne last existed to everyone who knew her just inside the entrance to the fair, and from there, she disappeared. But she didn't, really. There was more. A piece for each of us that we kept hidden away." Delicious!!

But here's the hook that makes All the Missing Girls an even better read - it's told backwards! We meet Nic, see her present life, travel with her as she arrives back in town, connects with her dad, brother and some old friends. And then another girl disappears........

And Miranda jumps the timeline two weeks forward. And bits and pieces of the past start to reveal themselves even as the present plays out. DO NOT flip to the end - yes I know there are some of you out there that like to know what's going to happen and then go back to the beginning. But it would spoil the fun of this book. Keep your eyes peeled for a sentence, a thought or a mention of something you didn't know in the last chapter and add it to your interpretation of what happened - then and now. There are lots of lovely twists and turns along the way to the final reveal. (And I loved the ending)

Some interesting relationship dynamics are explored as well. I 'bought' the characters, could picture them and believe in their actions, emotions and flaws.

Great summer reading!

Disappearance at Devil's Rock: A Novel
Disappearance at Devil's Rock: A Novel
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Price: CDN$ 13.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A Head Full of Ghosts was the winner of the 2015 Bram Stoker award for superior achievement in a novel, June 22 2016
3.5 Paul Tremblay's novel, A Head Full of Ghosts was the winner of the 2015 Bram Stoker award for superior achievement in a novel. His newest novel is Disappearance at Devil's Rock.

If you're a parent, you know the fear of loosening the ties - letting your child have a little more freedom, letting them go out without you right behind them. Letting them sleep over at someone else's house. But there's always that 'what if' worry in the back of your head.....

And that worry comes true for Elizabeth Sanderson - her thirteen year old son Tommy and his two friends had planned a sleepover at one of the other boy's houses. But first they grabbed some beers and went out exploring the woods of the Borderland park. Two came back, but Tommy is missing.....

As the hours tick by and turn into days, the police have no concrete leads or answers. But what does appear are pages from Tommy's diary, deposited on the living room floor in the middle of the night. And Elizabeth is sure she saw Tommy or a shadow or a vision or something in the corner of her room. And other town residents begin to see someone outside their windows in the middle of the night as well. And then the other two boys begin to slowly give up their secrets.....

Tremblay's story is driven by many things - the relationships between Elizabeth and her children, as well as her mother, the remaining boys and their parents and most importantly the dynamics between the boys. Tremblay portrays these relationships very well - especially those of the teen aged boy. What is so frightening is that what went on with the boys is not out of the realm of possibility at all.

And then he adds in those elements that make you wonder - how are those notebook pages getting there? Did Elizabeth see Tommy or was it pure want? Is there something about that Devil's Rock in the forest?

I appreciated the subtle, slow building tensions of these unanswered questions that cast doubt on my pragmatic thoughts and presented other possibilities. Tremblay has been classed as a horror writer, but it's not in your face, overt blood and gore horror. Instead, it's the possibilities presented and the reader's own reaction and interpretation that will have you turning on another light. A very different read from my normal tastes - but it's good to step outside our reading comfort zones once in a while.

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City
by Matthew Desmond
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 26.24
24 used & new from CDN$ 23.10

5.0 out of 5 stars it's very easy to say, June 21 2016
When this title arrived at the library, I read the description and knew I had to listen to it.

Shelter is one of the first building blocks in Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. And yet, so many struggle to keep a roof over their heads.

"Matthew Desmond takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of eight families on the edge."

These are stories of real people, their struggle to feed themselves and their family after spending most of what they have each month on rent. Rent for substandard living conditions. On the flip side, Desmond interviews two landlords who rent out these rundown apartments, homes and trailers. This is how they make a living - they're not in it for charity. Eviction is the word, the threat, the reality.

Oh, my heart broke as I listened to these stories. Yes, it's very easy to say, just get a job and manage your money better. And many of these tenants are desperately trying to do that. But easier said than done in many cases. Despair drives people to self destructive behaviour sometimes. I got so angry at the callous nature of the landlords, not seeing their tenants as people, but as dollar signs.

Evicted is a microcosmic look at a bigger problem. Desmond immerses himself, collecting data, recording stories and proposing changes......this is an important book for everyone to read. We all need a safe place to call home.

Dion Graham was the narrator and did an excellent job.

Under the Harrow: A Novel
Under the Harrow: A Novel
by Flynn Berry
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 21.67
30 used & new from CDN$ 9.87

4.0 out of 5 stars Strong debut, June 20 2016
Under the Harrow is Flynn Berry's debut novel.

Nora is traveling to her sister's home for the weekend. She's a bit late, but when she arrives Rachel isn't there to meet the train. Nora instead walks to the house where she finds Rachel and her dog - brutally murdered.

Rachel was attacked as a teenager and the crime was never solved. Since then, she and Nora have always combed the crime reports, attended trials and more in an attempt to find the man who assaulted Rachel. Could he have found her after all this time? Is it someone in the village? A lover? A jealous wife? A stranger?

"Rachel said there was something wrong with the town, only a few weeks ago"

The search for answers consumes Nora - she stays in the village, unable to return to her own life. She becomes obsessed, certain she can find the killer as she feels the police aren't making any headway.

Under the Harrow is of course a mystery - there are many suspects offered up. And I liked that I was kept guessing until the very last pages.

But Under the Harrow is also an exploration of the relationship between the two sisters. How well do we really know those we love? How well do we know ourselves? What does such a calamitous event do to a person's psyche? For me, this was the strongest part of the book. Berry puts us in Nora's head - her staccato thoughts, memories, hazy recollections and fractured thinking is mirrored in her dialogue and actions. The reader is kept off kilter, trying to keep up with Nora's galloping 'stream of consciousness' thoughts. And I began to question Nora's memories. Are they true or her remembered truths?

The title? It's a C.S. Lewis quote from A Grief Observed:

"Come, what do we gain by evasions? We are under the harrow and can't escape."

This was a strong debut and an author I would pick up again.

Security: A Novel
Security: A Novel
by Gina Wohlsdorf
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 23.35
26 used & new from CDN$ 16.79

4.0 out of 5 stars I loved the 'split screen' pages that echoed multiple camera views ..., June 18 2016
This review is from: Security: A Novel (Hardcover)
3.5 Security is the newly released debut novel from Gina Wohlsdorf.

Tessa and her team are scrambling the night before to put the final touches in place for the opening night of Manderly, an uber-luxurious hotel. In addition to the opulent touches, the security system is the ultimate in high tech.

"This place is something....supposed to be the safest hotel in the world, right?"

But is it enough to stop the two killers that are calmly strolling throughout the hotel, knocking off the employees one by one? The hotel is large, sprawling, and equipped with a hidden elevator - the employees have no idea that they are being hunted down - until it's too late.

But Tessa is a fighter, having survived a rough childhood with her foster brother Brian - who has stopped by the hotel to catch up. As the night progresses, they will have to draw on that toughness if they hope to see morning.

Wohlsdorf weaves a rich past and romance for Brian and Tessa amongst the carnage of the Manderly. These tender moments are juxtaposed by the calmness of the killer as they just go about their work. Romantic horror?

But - there's one more person at the Manderley - the one watching the security cameras. Who is he? The mastermind? Another hired assassin?

I loved the 'split screen' pages that echoed multiple camera views from someone watching in a security room. It was a unique idea and it really made the reader feel like they were in the room watching as well.

Wohlsdorf has a darkly wicked sense of humour. Which seems odd in what I've just described, but it really works.

Security really defies being slotted into a genre. I was kept completely off kilter. It's a nail biter and I can absolutely see it on the big screen. And, I might be a little paranoid the next time I check in at a hotel - "The most thorough safety is safety one's object of protection doesn't know about."

I'm Thinking of Ending Things
I'm Thinking of Ending Things
Offered by Simon & Schuster Canada, Inc.
Price: CDN$ 13.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An unsettling little read you won't be able to put down, June 14 2016
Iain Reid is the author of two award winning non-fiction titles. (I really enjoyed One Bird's Choice) I'm Thinking of Ending Things is his fiction debut.

Rather than try to paraphrase the plot, I'm simply going to quote from the publisher....

"You will be scared. But you won't know why....

In this deeply suspenseful and irresistibly unnerving debut novel, a man and is girlfriend are on their way to a secluded farm. What follows is a twisted unraveling and an unforgettable ending that will haunt you long after the last page is turned."

True, true, true! Oh, this was such an unsettling, disturbing, addicting little read. (I literally read it straight through in one sitting - it's 224 pages)

Jake and his unnamed girlfriend are travelling in the car. There seems to be a serious disconnect between the two looking in from the outside. Jake is quiet, intellectual, but a bit off in some way. The girlfriend is torn - they have been happy, maybe they still could be, but maybe it's just not working. She's thinking of ending things.

"I'm thinking of ending things. Once this thought arrives, it stays. It sticks. It lingers. It's always there. Always."

There's some weird stuff in her own life, a stranger that keeps phoning her over and over with the same message. Things get odder when they reach their destination and downright terrifying when they leave. My thoughts and feelings about each character changed many times over the course of the book.

Interspersed are comments after a death takes place. No name is ever uttered, but there are clues in these remarks.

I kept turning pages, getting closer to the end, but not feeling sure of anything that was happening. I was frightened, horrified and quite shocked and surprised by the time I read the last pages. Enough so, that I had to go back to the beginning and take a second look at how Reid adroitly manipulated me. A second read is not out of the question, now that I know what I know. Events, actions, thoughts and dialogue would take on a whole different tenor.

Epson Home Cinema 1040 1080p 3LCD Projector
Epson Home Cinema 1040 1080p 3LCD Projector
Price: CDN$ 797.00
2 used & new from CDN$ 797.00

5.0 out of 5 stars So happy with this home cinema!, June 13 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (what's this)
I've hauled out and set up the data projector cart at work many times for groups using our rental space. And until recently, I just never thought of having one for home use......but that has definitely changed since the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema landed on my doorstep.

So.....we started with the quick guide set up instructions.

You can connect more than one device at a time and then simply choose the source that you want to use, using the buttons on the unit or the remote. First configuration we hooked up a computer, a PlayStation and a DVD player to try out. Seriously easy. (You will need an HDMI cable - we had a few at home already.) Each and every button and connection is clearly marked - you really can't go wrong. 2USB ports, 2HDMI ports, computer and audio ports.

Computer first - sharp, sharp picture (1080 pixels). There are four built in colour modes that will give you the best image depending on where you're using it - Dynamic, Bright Cinema, Cinema, Game. Focusing is a breeze with the slider. You can just as easily manipulate your image vertically and horizontally and side to side if your projector isn't facing straight on. Levelling feet keep the image straight.

The players in the house loved playing PS4 on such a 'large' scale - apparently you feel like you're more in the game. I must admit, I thought the images would suffer - but they don't - they're still sharp,crisp and clear and the colours are well, vibrant. (The light is rated at 3000 Lumens. DH says that's really good)

I'd like to hook up my tablet or phone as well, so I will be picking up an MHL cable.

There is a built in speaker in the Epson, or you can use your own. The Epsom's speakers will disable themselves when an external sound system is connected. We tried it both ways. The Epsom's speakers are okay and good for portability, but I must admit, DH's speakers really made it into a home theatre experience.

The unit makes a bit of noise while warming up, but then quiets down once it is. No giant fan noises to shout over. You can shut down the light when you're finished without having to wait for cool down.

There is a large debate as to where the Epsom is going to be based - man cave or house. Mounted or portable. I'm thinking portable. (It's lightweight enough to easily carry) I took it to a wedding shower - we used a white wall as the screen and plugged in my USB stick full of pictures. It played as background all afternoon. After that outing, I thought of taking it up to the trailer, hanging a sheet on the clothesline and having a 'drive in' movie night for the kids. DH has taken it out to the shed (16 foot high walls) just to see how big the picture will project. We also used it on a brick wall on the back deck while sitting in the hot tub!I really don't see a need to invest in a screen - maybe down the road someday - but we have enough big walls in and out to use. And I truly see this as a portable unit. It's off to the nursing home next to show a relative with low vision pictures on the walls of her room.

Make sure you register your unit using the enclosed disc. By doing so you also can access the Extra Care Home Service - a telephone help line that runs concurrently with your warranty. There is a help menu built into the unit as well. The disc also has the full user's manual that you can download, filled with detailed instructions - and even more amazing things the Epsom can do.

I absolutely love this home cinema! So many uses, top notch quality and a good price. Now, we just need to agree on where it's going to go.......

The City of Mirrors: A Novel (Book Three of The Passage Trilogy)
The City of Mirrors: A Novel (Book Three of The Passage Trilogy)
by Justin Cronin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 24.75
2 used & new from CDN$ 24.75

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Myself and multitudes of fans have been waiting four years for the final entry to this absolutely fantastic series. I was so eag, June 2 2016
Well, the wait is finally over for fans of Justin Cronin's Passage trilogy. The third and final book, The City of Mirrors, has just released. And for those of you who haven't read any of the books yet - lucky you - you can start at the beginning and binge read right to the final page. And actually, that's what I did - I went back to the beginning and re-read the first book, The Passage, and the second book, The Twelve. There are very few books I would read a second time, but this series is one of them.

Myself and multitudes of fans have been waiting four years for the final entry to this absolutely fantastic series. I was so eager to reconnect with loved (and hated) characters, meet new ones and re immerse myself in this future. Familiar faces have aged, some are gone and a new generation has grown. As has complaceny. The virals are gone aren't they? Cronin takes us full circle, returning to that first mutant - named Zero. His narrative is a large part of The City of Mirrors. And he's not gone.....

"To make the world a wasteland; to bring upon it the mirrored image of my wretched self; to punish…my friend, my enemy, who believed he could save a world that was not savable, that never deserved saving in the first place."

I simply can't detail the width and breadth of these books. And if you think they're just run of the mill vampire killing books, you're very, very wrong. The characters are so detailed, the dystopian world building is brilliant and the plots continually surprise me. And honestly, they're quite literary.

But as I drew closer to the final pages, I was torn. I wanted to see what ending Cronin had imaged, but I didn't want the book to end. Put it down and make it last or......well, binge reading won out. Yes, these are the final battles - action, adventure to keep you on the edge of your seat. Answers to questions left unanswered over the last two books. And an emotional roller coaster as the last stand takes place. And oh, the end - those last few pages had me in tears.

I have no idea how Cronin could top this series, but I seriously hope he's writing his next book.

Esther the Wonder Pig: Changing the World One Heart at a Time
Esther the Wonder Pig: Changing the World One Heart at a Time
by Steve Jenkins
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 24.75
21 used & new from CDN$ 18.93

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Esther will put a smile on your face!, May 31 2016
Okay, the title caught your eye didn't it? Esther the Wonder Pig: Changing the World One Heart at a Time. And how about that cute little piggy face?

Well, inside the pages of Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter's new book, written with Caprice Crane, you'll find the story of Esther, the mini pig that was, well, a big pig.

Steve and his partner Derek are animal lovers. They were living with a pair of dogs and cats in their home in a large urban area in Ontario when an old high school friend of Steve's contacted him. (After 15 years of no contact...)

" Hey Steve. I know you've always been a huge animal lover. I have a mini pig that is not getting along with my dogs. I've just had a baby and I can't keep the pig."

Uh huh. So combined with that 15 years and the words 'mini pig', alarms should be going off right? Nope - Steve ends up meeting the woman and bringing home the cute little animal. It's the word 'huge' in that email that is quite prophetic. 'Esther' isn't a mini (surprise!) - instead, she ends up being a full blown commercial size pig. Yes, a 650 pound pig in a 1000 sq.ft. home!

I really enjoyed Steve's voice - I suspect he would be a hoot to meet in person. He's passionate, impetuous and downright funny. I found myself laughing out loud many times. Derek seems to be a bit calmer and more practical. But their love for Esther is the same.

Loving a full sized pig does bring some inevitable changes - physically, mentally and lifestyle. How those changes occurred and how they literally affected and inspired hundreds of thousands of people is a wonderful, heartwarming tale. Esther's story will bring a smile to your day, have you taking a second look at where your food comes from, perhaps inspire you to investigate a vegan lifestyle, support rescue operations and more.

Oh, and my book has a nice little blurb from Ricky Gervais: "Funny, moving, and heartwarming. The greatest love story ever told between two men and their pig." Yup, that about sums it up. A fun read that will leave you smiling.

Before the Fall
Before the Fall
Offered by Hachette Book Group Digital, Inc.
Price: CDN$ 13.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "We all have stories, our lives unfolding along crooked lines, colliding in unexpected ways.", May 31 2016
This review is from: Before the Fall (Kindle Edition)
Noah Hawley is an incredibly talented writer. His highly anticipated new novel, Before the Fall, releases today.

Eleven people board a private plane for a short flight from Martha's Vineyard to New York City. Sixteen minutes into the flight the plane crashes. The only survivors are a four year old boy and the last minute addition to the flight - a down on his luck painter. The three crew members, the wealthy owner, his wife, daughter, bodyguard as well as his also wealthy friend and his wife all perish.

The media storm surrounding the survivors is immediate. As the search for the plane and bodies gets underway, speculation, theories and conspiracies abound.....with the media providing ample fuel.

Hawley takes us back to before the plane crashes - exploring each character's past until the moment they step on the plane. Each person's story is rich and full. This is what I love about Hawley's writing - the completeness of it. Even though we only have a short time to hear each character's voice before the crash, their backstories keep them firmly in the present. But it was Scott and young JJ that held me enthralled as they try to come to terms with having survived and navigate the media circus.

As more details and confirmations emerge from the present investigation, each 'before' story adds another possible reason or act that could have contributed to or caused the crash. Which character is it? Or was it simply an accident? That mystery is only revealed in the final few chapters.

"Everyone is from someplace. We all have stories, our lives unfolding along crooked lines, colliding in unexpected ways."

Hawley delivers a blistering look at how media shapes our opinions, our lives and the public's thirst for sensational and lurid details about someone else's life. A sense of entitlement to know and expose those details to the world. And how that can affect lives and outcomes.

The publisher has attached the 'thriller' label to this book. I don't quite agree with that, but I do agree that it's a heck of a good read.

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