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Content by Luanne Ollivier
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Luanne Ollivier

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The Trap by Melanie Raabe (2016-05-19)
The Trap by Melanie Raabe (2016-05-19)
by Melanie Raabe
Edition: Hardcover
2 used & new from CDN$ 54.98

4.0 out of 5 stars The tagline on the cover is a great invitation to open up the book and read more, July 19 2016
3.5 The Trap is Melanie Raabe's debut novel. The tagline on the cover is a great invitation to open up the book and read more..."I know who killed my sister. I wrote this book for him."

Author Linda Conrads has not left her house in eleven years. The death of her sister was incredibley traumatic - she was brutally murdered in her own home - and Linda saw the man as he fled the house. The killer was never apprehended. Linda has retreated..."It's not a wide world, my world, but it is safe. At least that's what I thought."

While watching the news on television one evening, Linda is stunned - she has immediately recognized the murderer on the screen. Unable to leave her house, she is determined to catch the killer with the only power she has - the written word. Linda Conrads' newest book will mirror the circumstances and details of the actual case - and draw out the murderer.

Or will it? As her plan comes to fruition, Linda is now not as sure as she was and she begins to doubt her memories - and her sanity.

Oh, my goodness, does Raabe play with the reader. I was on board with Linda and her idea to expose the crime through her book. (Linda's parallel book is within the pages of The Trap. As the book progresses, we learn more of the past) But then, Raabe turns things upside down. Our narrator may not be as reliable as we initially believed. I love unreliable main characters, trying to decide what's real, right and the truth as I read. Raabe turns things around more than once as the book progresses. There's a lovely little cat and mouse game between Linda and the alleged murderer. Hmm, makes the title The Trap even more apropos.

I did however, find some of the plot devices a bit of a stretch. Linda never confides in her friends, never talks to police about her suspicions, but instead devises a plan that will take quite a while to execute - she needs to first write a book. But it is a novel idea. (yes, pun intended ) I was drawn in by Linda's history, story and quest, but only as a removed, impartial witness - I never really connected personally with her and her grief and guilt.

The word thriller has been attached to the promotion of The Trap. I myself found it to be more of a slow building plot, drawing on alternate scenarios and answers, before making its way to the final reveal.

Sony Pictures has already picked up the film rights for The Trap.

The Last One: A Novel
The Last One: A Novel
by Alexandra Oliva
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 28.34
24 used & new from CDN$ 19.74

5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!, July 18 2016
This review is from: The Last One: A Novel (Hardcover)
I always get a little tingle when I realize after the first few pages of a new book that I'm not going to be able to put it down. That's exactly what happened with Alexandra Oliva's debut novel The Last One. I started it early on a Sunday morning and read straight through to the end (somewhat delaying our afternoon plans....)

Admit it, you've watched at least one episode of a reality television show. (There's lots to choose from!) In The Last One, Oliva has twelve contestants participating in a remote wilderness challenge, seeing how far they can push themselves.

"That's the whole idea behind the show, after all - to break the contestants. Though the twelve who entered the ring were told that it's about survival. That it's a race. All true, but. Even the title they were told was a deception. Subject to change, as the fine print read."

Oliva nicely skewers reality tv, with the producer and editor's comments, the cheesy host, the dehumanizing of the participants by giving them descriptors as names - Waitress, Tracker, Black Doctor, Zoo, Biology and others. It's only the contestants themselves who use their real names. The manipulation of what has been filmed, presenting the storyline they want viewers to see. "All they care about is that the viewers watch to the end." Chat room responses to the show reinforce this.

But while they're removed from society, something happens. Some sort of deadly pathogen strikes the country. While some participants realize this, others don't - they still believe they're on the show - and that the cameras are still rolling. Zoo is one of those who has no idea. The reader walks along with Zoo, who is determined not to quit - she is going to be the last one standing.

We know something has happened and see Zoo's thoughts and choices through that knowledge and question her logic. But seen through her eyes, her choices make sense. She is in survival mode - both physically and mentally.

"I had no idea it would be like this. They didn't say anything about a fake pandemic or props shaped like dead people. About animatronics or feral cats. Empty towns and abandoned children. They didn't say anything about being so alone for so long."

Dystopian/apocalyptic novels are a favourite of mine and Oliva has put a delicious spin on hers. I really liked Zoo as a character (her real name is only mentioned once). Her determination, resilience and stamina to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Oliva's imagining of her journey totally captured me - who knows what's around the next bend, what she will face, if she'll survive. There was no way to predict where the story was going to go and I was on the edge of my seat for most of the book.

Oliva ends the book on a great turn. I had wondered how she could finish off such a great read, but she surprised me. The ending was just right. The Last One is absolutely one of my favourite reads this year. I can't wait to see what Oliva writes next.

Miracles From Heaven [DVD + Digital Copy] (Bilingual)
Miracles From Heaven [DVD + Digital Copy] (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Jennifer Garner
Price: CDN$ 19.88
3 used & new from CDN$ 19.88

4.0 out of 5 stars There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle, July 15 2016
I'd heard about Christy Wilson Beam's book when it crossed over the library counter. I had a quick glance at it as I signed it out for a patron, but never got around to reading it myself. But, when the chance to view the movie of Miracles From Heaven was offered, I happily accepted.

Based on true events, Miracles From Heaven tells the story of Annabel Beam - a young girl suffering from a rare digestive disease. An accidental fall finds Annabel miraculously cured after her rescue.

One of my favourite actresses, Jennifer Garner, plays mom Christy in the movie. I just like Garner, her acting, her choice of roles and her genuineness. I thought she was a great choice for the lead in this film. The rest of the casting was great as well - Queen Latifah is always a treat, Martin Henderson as Kevin Beam conveyed his unwavering support and faith perfectly. Kylie Rogers as Anna does a great job - she has such an expressive face and eyes. John Carroll Lynch was inspiring as Pastor Scott.

I was crying in the first half hour of the film, saddened by Anna's plight, Christy's frustration with the medical community who took forever to diagnose her condition and empathizing with having a sick child.

Miracles From Heaven is yes, about a miracle - but it's also about faith. Faith is a large part of the Beam family's life. But, Christy loses her faith when Anna falls ill, unable to understand how God would let a child fall so ill. Remarks and reactions from some of the congregation have her refusing to attend church. She finds herself unable to even pray. Kevin and the other two daughters hold fast in their belief - as does Anna. She herself never wavers - knowing there is more. There are some great conversations and scenes that explore belief and some of those hard questions.

Miracles From Heaven is an extraordinary story, offering the viewer a chance to reaffirm their belief in a higher power, or an opportunity to explore the idea that yes, miracles do exist. There's a great quote from Albert Einstein used in the film:

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." Uh, huh, take a second look around you .....

There's some great music in the film as well - particularly in the church scenes featuring the band Third Day.

Here's to Us
Here's to Us
by Elin Hilderbrand
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 24.75
23 used & new from CDN$ 23.36

4.0 out of 5 stars Hilderbrand takes us back to her favourite setting - Nantucket, July 14 2016
This review is from: Here's to Us (Hardcover)
3.5 My beach bag reading list wouldn't be complete without the latest Elin Hilderbrand novel. This summer's new title is Here's to Us.

Hilderbrand takes us back to her favourite setting - Nantucket. Her descriptions of the island and locale make me want to visit - or better yet - live in a lovely old wooden cottage by the ocean.

One of those cottages has been the vacation home of one man, Deacon Thorpe - and over the years - his three wives and children. But with Deacon's death, the three women and their families have gathered at the cottage to spread Deacon's ashes.

They may have all loved Deacon, but they can't stand each other. This forced togetherness brings up the past both good and bad.

It took me a few chapters to put all the characters in their place - who was who, who was related etc. Once I had that down, I formed an attachment with some - first wife Lauren, adopted daughter Angie from marriage number two and local guide JP. I was torn on how I felt about Deacon - he was a conflicted man, but loved his children. Wives two and three (Scarlet and Belinda) were horrid, vapid, vindictive and shallow. Supporting male characters were a mixed bag. I was confused by Deacon's best friend Buck's actions - his long time attraction to Laurel is thrown away for a few minutes of sex with one of the other exes. I found this somewhat jarring and not what I expected from Hilderbrand.

But without having characters that aren't likable, we wouldn't have the tension, recriminations, secrets and ultimately at the end, a form of resolution. I'm sure that some of Hilderbrand's situations are not that far from the truth for some. Food plays a part as well, with many of Deacon's recipes included.

Here's to Us is a good escapist beach read, but I've enjoyed other Hilderbrand novels more.

The Hatching: The Hatching Series Book One
The Hatching: The Hatching Series Book One
by Ezekiel Boone
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 24.75
2 used & new from CDN$ 24.75

4.0 out of 5 stars Creepy..., July 12 2016
Does the cover art of Ezekiel Boone's new novel, The Hatching, give you the creepy crawlies? All that spider web sticking to the letters.....even the title alone is creepy.

No? Well, this might......

"There are thirty-five thousand species of spiders, and they've been on earth for at least three hundred million years. From the very origin of humanity, spiders have been out there, scuttling along the edges of firelight, spinning webs in the woods, and scaring the hell out of us, even though with a few rare exceptions, they are no real threat. But these were something different."

Peru. An ancient spider egg sac in a wooden box is discovered. It's shipped back to the US, already beginning to hatch. But it's not the only one......

Okay, I don't mind spiders and I'm happy to move them outside without killing them. But...if they were bent on killing me? Skittering and moving faster than......oh, now my skin is crawling.....

Having an everyday creature that we're accustomed to seeing (and squishing) seems even more horrifying than say, a creature from outer space. (Sharks, bears and birds also come to mind)

I am a huge fan of 'cast' or ensemble novels with multiple characters. Boone excels at this in The Hatching. Each set of characters - from political, military, agents and scientists trying to understand and contain the spiders, to preppers in the Californian desert, and across the world to China, Afghanistan, India and Scotland - all bring wildly different points of view and pieces of the plot to The Hatching.

The Hatching was a great, fun, squirmy read. A hugely entertaining read and it's got movie written all over it. I see that online the book is listed as The Hatching Series: Book One. The ending of this book left me thinking it was all over. But, I can see where the story could continue. This reader will be picking up Book Two for sure.

VIZIO D50u-D1 50-Inch 4K Ultra HD 120Hz LED Smart TV (2016 Model)
VIZIO D50u-D1 50-Inch 4K Ultra HD 120Hz LED Smart TV (2016 Model)
Offered by biddeal
Price: CDN$ 915.25
5 used & new from CDN$ 779.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Love the picture quality!, July 11 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (what's this)
I (and other family members) have been enjoying what the Vizio D50u-D1 50-inch 4K Ultra HD 120 Hz LED Smart TV has to offer.

We did try the legs the tv came with and they provided a sturdy base. But for our home, I decided to wall mount the tv instead. We picked up one that has a large amount of swivel and tilt so that wherever you're sitting in the family room, it can be facing you full on. The unit is lightweight, mounting wasn't an issue at all and I'm not concerned about fully extending it at all. I did think it was a bit wider (2.5") than other flat screens in this size, but not enough to make any kind of difference.

Because where this television excels is in picture quality. It has an incredibley in depth picture adjustment menu. And I mean in depth. There are preset options for gaming, computer, etc. But you can set adjust the setting to suit yourself and save your customized settings. It has taken me a few weeks to really know what choices there are. I had to look up what judder was. But know that I know, I am truly boggled by how much control the viewer has over the picture -compensating for 60hz video, managing black zones and lag etc.

The built in speakers provided surprisingly good sound. If you're looking for more, there are numerous ports to add your own surround sound system. We only went up to 40% and honestly wouldn't want it any louder. No crackles or distortion at that level. We do have a sound bar, so have decided to use it with the Vizio. A fibre option port is also present. Switching between inputs was a wee bit sluggish, but not enough to be considered a nuisance. All the inputs are nicely mounted on the bottom and side, so you can place the unit as tight to the wall as possible if desired.

Oh, boy is the 4K every a treat! Twice the pixels, twice the resolution and absolutely phenomenal picture quality. The pictures just look so 'real'! 4K at 60hz option is great if you want to use the tv as a dual monitor for computer streaming. (and gaming)

Not every app listed is available in Canada - but this is mentioned on the main descriptive page on Amazon. And honestly, that's not what I wanted a television for. Netflix is and that's really the only one I wanted for sure. (and it was very fast) I tried out ebay, the weather, Youtube and Facebook. The ability to sync my smartphone without using a third party app would be nice, but again, not what I wanted a television for.

The remote could have been better designed. It's hard for your hand to tell which way is up and it's not backlit, so prepare to couch dive once in awhile unless you're very neat. And it just feels a bit, well, cheap.

Streaming when connected to wifi was very fast as well. The gamer in the house tried his system (PS4) on it and loved the picture quality. It was hard to kick him off when I wanted to watch a movie.

Summarizing, this TV is the gem of mid range TV’s. It’s not outrageously priced, and it may not have every bell and whistle that some may be interested in. But what it does have is performance. Vizio put their energy into making a TV that will give you the 4K picture you ask for. Excellent value - I'm really happy with it!
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The Travelers: A Novel
The Travelers: A Novel
by Chris Pavone
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 30.25
32 used & new from CDN$ 21.95

4.0 out of 5 stars 5 I've read and enjoyed Chris Pavone's previous two books, July 11 2016
This review is from: The Travelers: A Novel (Hardcover)
3.5 I've read and enjoyed Chris Pavone's previous two books, his award winning debut novel, The Expats and The Accident.

His latest book is The Travelers.

Travelers is a travel/lifestyle magazine. It has correspondents (travelers) traipsing across the globe writing and experiencing. And some of those correspondents are carrying out their other assignments. For you see, Travelers Magazine is a front for a spy organization.

Will doesn't know that. He only knows that his boss asks him to drop off sealed envelopes on certain trips. But on a trip to Argentina, Will makes a bad decision - he sleeps with a beautiful woman who turns out to be more than a one night stand. To protect his marriage, he agrees to her terms. And he is thrust into a different web of international intrigue. Who works for who? Who is legit? Government sanctioned? Rogues? Demands and tension ratchet up as competing organizations cross paths.

Pavone incorporates his own experience into his books. He's a former book editor and has lived abroad for years. He does the international/espionage thing very well. I enjoyed the premise and thought it was quite clever. What better cover than a person paid to travel and write about it? But it took me a bit to finish the book - I found myself getting bogged down and losing interest. The same thing seemed to happen more than once, just in a different setting. The random sexual scenes thrown in seemed gratuitous. I wanted a quicker paced read than the slow pace The Travelers was offering. I did finish the novel and appreciated the plotting, but this one was just an okay read for me.

Missing, Presumed
Missing, Presumed
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Price: CDN$ 13.99

4.0 out of 5 stars New series, July 11 2016
This review is from: Missing, Presumed (Kindle Edition)
Susie Steiner's newest book, Missing, Presumed, has just released.

The opening chapters introduce us to to DS Manon Bradshaw of the Cambridgeshire Police. Manon comes across as real - the insecurities about her own life and relationships make her both believable and likable. Her internet dating forays are quite laughable.

As Manon and her squad are called out to a missing persons case, we get to see a different side of Manon - the calm, cool professional. Edith, the missing person is high profile - her father is surgeon to the Royal Family - and he wants results.

I always enjoy British police procedurals - the focus is not on blood or gore, but on the clues, the investigation, and the players. Missing, Presumed has a good mystery as its basis, but it is a character driven novel. The interactions between the parents, the glimpses into the life of the missing girl, her friends and family drive the story as much as the crime. Relationships and interactions between the member of the police squad are just as detailed. I was quite drawn to Davy - the 'nice guy' of the group. I liked that many characters are given a voice and a point of view - the reader benefits from having information and perspective from many.

The plotting is good and moves along at a good pace. There are many possibilities as to what has happened and whodunit. The ending is not what I expected at all. At first, it made me a little angry, but with reflection it fits well with the character driven plot that came before.

I really liked Manon as a lead character and would love to see her again. Looks like I'll get my wish - Steiner has said there will be another Manon book in 2017.

Seventh Generation Free and Clear Sensitive Skin Baby Diapers with Animal Prints, Size 4, 108 Count
Seventh Generation Free and Clear Sensitive Skin Baby Diapers with Animal Prints, Size 4, 108 Count
Price: CDN$ 49.98

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for little guy - and the environment, July 10 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (what's this)
When my daughter was born many years ago, I used cloth diapers, pins and plastic pants. It was a decision born of financial constraints - we were simply not able to afford disposable diapers. 30 years on, I'm a grandmother now. My daughter does use disposables, but during a recent family vacation, I took along Seventh Generation Free and Clear Sensitive Skin Diapers to use on my grandson. He has multiple allergies and skin concerns, breaking out with many scents, lotions etc.

This is what I was so excited about - no chemicals, no bleaches, no fragrance. And guess what - no reaction from his skin - at all! Now for those who think all diapers should be pure white - think about it - it's chlorine or bleach that make those diapers white. Is that what you want on tender skin? Seventh Generation diapers are a natural off white colour. They do have animal prints on them to give them some flair if you desire, but plain ones are available as well.

Little guy is very active, so it is sometimes hard to pin him down long enough to get a snug fit. The closures on these diapers are somewhat like velcro - but with no scratchy bits. They can be adjusted multiple times with no loss of closure ability. The band is wide, distributing the tension around his hips instead of cinching like a belt. He runs everywhere, but there were no chafing marks at all. The diaper is soft with no sharp or stiff edges.

The fit around the leg has dual elasticating - inner and outer - again providing a good fit. Also stretchy around the back - Mom did think they could be a wee bit higher at the back.

And oh my gosh, are they absorbent! No leaks or messes. Now, I have to admit, we forgot to put a swim diaper on him one day at the beach. And I should have weighed the diaper after we discovered that, as I could not believe how much water it absorbed and held.

All of the above is great, but an added bonus is that the processes Seventh Generation uses are better for the environment as well. In fact, these are the first ever FSC Certified Diaper in North America.

So Grandma loved them - did Mom? Yes, she did, very much. And little guy is now switching brands.

All the Missing Girls: A Novel
All the Missing Girls: A Novel
by Megan Miranda
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 29.51
19 used & new from CDN$ 20.47

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!

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