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Louise Jolly "Bookaholic" (Ontario, Canada)
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That Night: A Novel
That Night: A Novel
by Chevy Stevens
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.80
34 used & new from CDN$ 11.23

5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't Put It Down!, Aug. 19 2014
This review is from: That Night: A Novel (Hardcover)
St. Martin's Press|June 17, 2014|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-1-250-05751-8
Story Description:
As a teenager, Toni Murphy had a life full of typical adolescent complications: a boyfriend she adored, a younger sister she couldn't relate to, a strained relationship with her parents, and classmates who seemed hell-bent on making her life miserable. Things weren't easy, but Toni could never have predicted how horrific they would become until her younger sister was brutally murdered one summer night.
Toni and her boyfriend, Ryan, were convicted of the murder and sent to prison.
Now thirty-four, Toni, is out on parole and back in her hometown, struggling to adjust to a new life on the outside. Prison changed her, hardened her, and she's doing everything in her power to avoid violating her parole and going back. This means having absolutely no contact with Ryan, avoiding fellow parolees looking to pick fights, and steering clear of trouble in all its forms. But nothing is making that easy - not Ryan, who is convinced he can figure out the truth; not her mother, who doubts Toni's innocence; and certainly not the group of women who made Toni's life hell in high school and may have darker secrets than anyone realizes. No matter how hard she tries, ignoring her old life to start a new one is impossible. Before Toni can truly move on, she must risk everything to find out what really happened that night.
But in That Night by Chevy Stevens, the truth might be the most terrifying thing of all.
My Review:
That Night was a phenonmenal read that I just couldn't put down. I read it in two days it was that good. I kept telling myselft just "one" more chapter but would read 5 or 6 more, I couldn't stop myself.
The terrible outcomes of bullying ring loud and clear in this novel. People just don't realize the damage that bullying does until it's too late. There are a lot of emotions wrapped up in bullying and the fear is very real and the feelings can and do last a lifetime and often have sad endings as in this story. Bullying leads to all sorts of difficult situations that make it impossible for the one being bullied to get out of.
For eighteen-year-old Toni Murphy, the competition in keeping up with sugar n' spice sweet sister is difficult. Toni has problems with just about every relationship she encounters and finds it hard to cope.
Toni is adamant that she did not kill her sister, Nicole. But if she didn't, who did?
You'll have to read the novel to find out, but if you've been bullied yourself in your life, be prepared because the story will bring back some hard to deal with memories. It's plainly obvious that Ms. Stevens did a great deal of research for this novel and it shines through in her writing. You will be truly frightened in certain chapters as you read along. This would make a great book club pick because there is so much than can be discussed.

Sweet Water: A Novel
Sweet Water: A Novel
by Christina Baker Kline
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.36
29 used & new from CDN$ 6.26

3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing!, Aug. 19 2014
This review is from: Sweet Water: A Novel (Paperback)
SWEET WATER (CHRISTINA BAKER KLINE)
William Morrow|July 1, 2014|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-06-236100-4
Story Description:
Cassie Simon is a struggling artist living in New York City. When she receives a call from a magistrate telling her she has inherited sixty acres of land in Sweetwater, Tennessee, from her grandfather, whom she never knew, she takes it as a sign: it's time for a change. She moves to the small Southern town where her mother, Ellen, grew up - and where she died tragically when Cassie was three.
From the moment she arrives in Sweetwater, Cassie is overwhelmed by the indelible mark her mother's memory left behind. As she delves into the thicket of mystery that surrounds her mother's death, Cassie begins to discover the desperate measures of which the human heart is capable.
My Review:
I must say that I was sorely disappointed in Sweet Water. I've read other works by Kline that far exceeded my expectations of the novel before I even began to read. For example: "Orphan Train" was a phenomenal read.
Sweet Water lacked luster and polish and felt as though it had been written by someone other than Kline herself. The most disappointing part was the ending of the story. There I was merrily reading along, turned the page and DONE! Where was the rest of the story?
Overall, Sweet Water wasn't a horrible book by any means, but it certainly fell short of Kline's usual top-notch writing.

American Blonde: A Novel
American Blonde: A Novel
by Jennifer Niven
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.00
33 used & new from CDN$ 4.32

5.0 out of 5 stars I LOVED IT!, Aug. 18 2014
AMERICAN BLONDE (JENNIFER NIVEN)
Plume/July 30, 2014/Trade Paperback|ISBN # 978-0-452-29821-7
Story Description:
A fearless and spirited pilot conquers Hollywood. Now can she survive movie stardom?
In 1945, Velva Jean Hart is a bona fide war heroine. After a newsreel films her triumphant return to America, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer promises to make her a star. They give her a new life story and a brand new name. As "Kit Rogers," she navigates the movie sets, recording sessions, parties, staged romances, and occasional backstabbing that accompany her newfound fame. She also navigates real-life romance, finding herself caught between a charismatic young writer and a sexy and enigmatic musician from her past. But when one of her best friends dies mysteriously and the most powerful studio in the world launches a cover-up, Velva Jean goes in search of the truth - risking her own life, as well as her heart, in the process.
Set during Hollywood's Golden Age and peopled with a cast of unforgettable characters, American Blonde will mesmerize readers of The Chaperone as well as fans of the Velva Jean series.
My Review:
Velva Jean Hart was considered a war hero in 1945 when she returned to American and was caught on the newsreels that very day.
Once home in her mountain cabin, a man from MGM shows up asking her if she'd like to enter into a movie contract. Velva Jean has always been a singer and nothing pleased her more than belting out a song. One of the big draws at MGM was singing lessons so Velva Jean jubilantly takes up his offer and off she goes to Hollywood.
Hollywood didn't think Velva Jean Hart was a very fitting actresses name and thus changed it to Kit Rogers. When Hollywood gets wind of the fact that Velva Jean was a WASP and war heroine who saved her own brother from the enemies and that she herself had suffered harsh treatment, the newsreels never stopped rolling which catapulted her to stardom in the eys of the American people.
Kit's first role as an actress is portraying a woman named Betsy Ross in a war movie that MGM hopes will become a box office hit slamming their profit up into the millions. As part of her contract with MGM, Kit receives singing lessons and acting lessons and meets everyone from stage hands to script writers to directors to fellow actors and actresses. One actress she becomes deeply friendly with is Mudge, a.k.a. Barbara Fanning.
One night at party her best friend, Barbara turns up dead! Although MGM doesn't want their name tarnished and try to clear up some details about the death they don't want the police to know, Kit is not going to allow that to happen. Kit knows she will lose everything she has worked for if she continues snooping around trying to get to the truth but she doesn't care. Barbara was too good a friend to have died in a supposed lie and Kit is just not going to allow that to happen. Although she is trhreatned, underwent suspicious accidents and other dangerous things, her own honesty and commitment to her friend, Velva Jean is stronger. She will soon find out just how tough she really is when she is pushed too far.
American Blonde was fast-paced and one of those books where you keep telling yourself "just one more chapter" before stopping for the day. I couldn't put the book down and one night I even got back out of bed to return to my reading room as I had been at an integral part of the story when I stopped for the night that I couldn't sleep for thinking about it.
There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that American Blonde is yet another hit and bestseller for Ms. Niven. Way to go!

Little Mercies
Little Mercies
Price: CDN$ 9.59

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spellbinding!!, July 5 2014
This review is from: Little Mercies (Kindle Edition)
MY REVIEW:
Harlequin|June 24, 2014|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-7783-1633-6
Ellen Moore, a seasoned social worker has seen the best and the worst in what one human being can do to another. She has seen things people should never see in their lives but this is her daily reality. Dealing with dysfunctional families, drug addicted parents who beat or neglect their children, alcoholics who leave their children unsupervised and a whole host of other horrible scenarios. The decision to remove a child(ren) from their family home is never an easy one but she takes her job seriously and does what needs to be done. Ellen is lucky as she has the support of her family.
Ellen's husband, Adam is madly in love with his wife and supports her in her work and all her decisions. After a long hard day at work, Ellen looks forward to coming home and holding and hugging her own three children: Lucas, Leah, and Avery.
One particularly busy morning and late for an important meeting, Ellen is rushing around the house trying to get dressed and out the door within five minutes. Being late for this meeting will not be seen in a favourable light as far as her boss is concerned. Finally ready, Ellen dashes out the door and hops into her van and takes off. While on her way, she receives a call about a family in distress and makes a detour to the home to see what assistance she can be and to perform the very job she is hired to do as a social worker. The temperature is stiffling hot and humid and she feels like a washed-out dish rag.
As Ellen is watching the first body bag being carried out of the home, she hears some commotion and breaking glass down the street. When she turns to look down she realizes that people are breaking into her van in broad daylight. Using crowbars and other tools they are smashing the windows out of her van. Ellen takes off on foot and just as she arrives at her vehicle she sees baby Avery, her own child, unconscious, being dragged out of her car and layed on the ground. She'd been locked up in a hot van in the sweltering heat for a goodly amount of time and Ellen wasn't even aware that Avery was in the vehicle with her that morning. She certainly didn't put her in and she didn't notice her in the vehicle as she drove because Avery still sat in a rear-facing car seat.
A neighbour, whom Ellen had had dealings with before through her job began performing CPR while someone called 911. Thus began a nightmare that Ellen wasn't prepared for.
Meanwhile, ten-year-old, Jenny Briard has been living with her father who was well meaning but often irresponsible. Not being able to keep a job nor provide an ongoing home for Jenny to live in but he was good to her. One evening Jenny finds herself totally alone and is forced to live on nothing but a few dollars and her street smarts. The last thing she wants is a social worker, but when Ellen's and Jenny's world's collide, little do they know just how much they can help one another.
While Ellen is charged for leaving Avery in the sweltering car, Jenny is trying to get back to her father. Each of them is living with a great deal of stress and there are some very tense moments in the story.
LITTLE MERCIES is a poignant, powerful, and emotionally charged novel about motherhood and justice. I couldn't put this book down and read it in one sitting, it was just too good to stop for any reason. I even passed up the opportunity to stop for a cup of tea which is something I would never normally do.
Heather Gudenkauf has written a truly spellbinding story that will hold your attention from the first page to the very last.

A Long Way Home
A Long Way Home
by Saroo Brierley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.81
2 used & new from CDN$ 18.81

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MUST BE READ IN ON SITTING...FANTASTIC!!, July 3 2014
This review is from: A Long Way Home (Hardcover)
MY REVIEW:
Penguin Group Canada|June 17, 2014|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-0-670-06820-3
Five-year-old, Saroo wanted to be with his big brother and decided to tag along to his job working the trains one day foraging for food and selling the toothpaste packs he had. Getting tired, Saroo sat down on a bench to wait for his brother to come back from somewhere but became restless and hopped on a train sitting in front of him on the tracks. Next thing you know he falls alseep and the train is moving! Saroo gets lost and remains lost for the next twenty-five years!
After being placed with a couple of orphanages, Saroo was finally adopted by the Brierley family who lived in Hobart, Australia. He had a wonderful life with the Brierley family and bonded wtih them quickly. They shared many fun times over the years but, Saroo felt he was still missing something and made the decision to try and find his birthmother in India.
Using 'Google Earth' of all things, Saroo spent many, many months searching through Google Earth using the "B" name of the town he could remember living by. Finally recognizing something he thought looked familiar, he got on Facebook where he'd met a guy who was supplying him with information and he was able to confirm the place, Saroo had found what he thought was his hometown.
Soon, Saroo was on a plane flying off to India to reunite with the mother whom he hadn't seen in twenty-five years. This was a beautifully written memoir and I read it one sitting. It's impossible not to read this book in one sitting, you just have to keep turning the pages, the story just flows so well and is so interesting. Well-done, Saroo and congratulations on finding your family, may you enjoy many happy years together.

The Glass Kitchen: A Novel of Sisters
The Glass Kitchen: A Novel of Sisters
Offered by Macmillan CA
Price: CDN$ 13.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A Scrumptious Read..., June 28 2014
MY REVIEW:
St. Martin's Press|June 17, 2014|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-0-312-38227-8
THE GLASS KITCHEN was a beautifully written, whimsical, and absolutely charming novel.
Portia Cuthcart's grandma owned a restaurant called The Glass Kitchen in Texas where patrons came to dine and get exactly what they needed. Grandma had "the knowing" and had three recipe books with recipes and sage advice written down in them. She would get "feelings", which she referred to as the "know" of certain meals she should prepare. These "knowings" were like an incessant itch that she couldn't scratch and had to rush immediately to cook up the meal or dessert she got "the know" about. Once made, she'd sit back and wait to see which customer or person came in requesting such a meal.
One day, Portia vowed to move to Manhattan, New York and open up The Glass Kitchen with her two sisters, Olivia and Cordelia. When Grandma dies and her Aunt Evie dies in Manhattan and leaves her an apartment there, Portia makes her move.
Portia becomes involved with the man upstairs in her duplex. Gabriel is a widow and has two teenage daughters. Things begin to heat up and soon a promise made to her sisters forces Portia back into a world of magical food and swirling emotions. What seems so simple on the surface is anything but when long held secrets are revealed, rivalries exposed, and the promise of new love stirs life like chocolate mixing with cream.
THE GLASS KITCHEN was absolutely impossible to put down. And, even at 373 pages I read it in one day. I just kept wanting to know: "...and then what happened, and then what happened." I couldn't stop myself. Don't miss out on this delicious and stirring novel. There aren't enough stars to rate this one!!

The Hundred-Foot Journey: A Novel
The Hundred-Foot Journey: A Novel
by Richard C. Morais
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.27
46 used & new from CDN$ 5.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Succulent reading..., June 26 2014
MY REVIEW:
Scribner|August 9, 2011|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-1-4391-6565-2
"That skinny Indian teenager has that mysterious something that comes along once a generation. He is one of those rare chefs who is simply born. He is an artist."
And so begins the rise of Hassan Haji, the unlikely gourmand who recounts his life's journey in Richard Morais's charming novel, THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY. Lively and brimming with the colors, flavors, and scents of the kitchen, THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY is a succulent treat about family, nationality, and the mysteries of good taste.
Born above his grandfather's modest restaurant in Mumbai, Hassan first experienced life through intoxicating whiffs of spicy fish curry, trips to the local markets, and gourmet outings with his mother. But when tragedy pushes the family out of India, they console themselves by eating their way around the world, eventually settling in Lumiere, a small village in the French Alps.
The boisterous Haji family takes Lumiere by storm. They open an inexpensive Indian restuarant opposite an esteemed French relais-that of the famous chef Madame Mallory-and infuse the sleepy town with the spices of India, transforming the lives of its eccentric villagers and infuriating their celebrated neighbor. Only after Madame Mallory wages culinary war with the immigrant family, does she finally agree to mentor young Hassan, leading him to Paris, the launch of his own restuarant, and slew of new adventures.
THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY is about how the hundred-foot distance between a new Indian kitchen and a traditional French one can represent the gulf between different cultures and desires. A testament to the inevitability of destiny, this is a fable for the ages-charming, endearing, and compulsively readable.
I don't have much to add to the Chapters synopsis of the book above other than to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I think Madame Mallory had a lot more to do with Hassan's success than everyone suspects, she was a very well-known and well respected chef in her time. I'll admit that I had no idea what half the dishes described in the pages of this book were but some of them sure sounded good and ones I'd certainly give a try. That is, if someone else cooked them for me! This is a book that would appeal to a large audience of folks and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

The Hurricane Sisters: A Novel
The Hurricane Sisters: A Novel
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Price: CDN$ 12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous Story!!!, June 22 2014
MY REVIEW:
HarperCollins|June 3, 2014|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-0-06-213252-9
A sultry land of ancient magic, glorious sunsets, and soothing coastal breezes, three generations of strong women wrestle with the expectations of family while struggling to understand their complicated relationships with each other.
Best friends since the first day of classes at The College of Charleston, Ashley Anne Waters and Mary Beth Smythe, now 23 years old, live in Ashley's parents' beach house rent free. Ashley is a gallery assistant who aspires to become an artist. Mary Beth, is a gifted cook from Tennessee, and works for a caterer while searching for a good teaching job. Though they both know what they want out of life, their parents barely support their dreams and worry for their precarious finances.
While they don't make much money, the girls do have a million-dollar view that comes with living in that fabulous house on Sullivans Island. Sipping wine on the porch and watching a blood-red sunset, Ashley and Mary Beth hit on a briliant and lucrative idea. With a new coat of paint, the first floor would be a perfect place for soirees for paying guests. Knowing her parents would be horrified at the idea of common strangers trampling through their home, Ashley won't tell them. Besides, Clayton and Liz Waters have enough problems of their own.
A successful investment banker, Clayton is too often found in his pied-a-terre in Manhattan - which Liz is sure he uses to have an affair. And when will Ashley and her brother, Ivy, a gay man with a very wealthy Asian life partner - ever grow up?
Then there is Maisie, Liz's mother, the family matriarch who has just turned eighty, who never lets Liz forget that she's not her perfect dead sister, Juliet.
For these Lowcountry women, an emotional hurricane is about to blow through their lives wreaking havoc that will test them in unexpected ways, ultimately transforming the bonds they share.
I absolutely fell in love with this story and it's characters. I adored Ashley, Maisie and Liz especially and found them to be the type of women I'd like to be friends with. The story was so interesting and held my attention from the first page until the last and I was sorry to see it end. I would love to see Ms. Frank write a sequel to The Hurricane Sisters as I think there is a lot more to tell about this wonderful family.
I'll definitely be passing the go-ahead around on this one!

China Dolls: A Novel
China Dolls: A Novel
Offered by Random House Canada, Incorp.
Price: CDN$ 14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping read..., June 21 2014
MY REVIEW:
Random House Publishing|June 3, 2014|Hardcover|ISBN: 987-0-8129-9289-2
It's 1938 in San Francisco: a world's fair is preparing to open on Treasure Island, a war is brewing overseas, and the city is alive with possibilities. Grace, Helen, and Ruby, three young women from very different backgrounds, meet by chance at the exclusive and glamorous Forbidden City nightclub. Grace Lee, an American-born Chinese girl, has fled the Midwest with nothing but heartache, talent, and a pair of dancing shoes. Helen Fong lives with her extended family in Chinatown, where her traditional parents insist that she guard her reputation like a piece of jade. The stunning Ruby Tom challenges the boundaries of convention at every turn with her definat attitude and no-holds-barred ambition.
The girls become fast friends, relying on one another through unexpected challenges and shifting fortunes. When their dark secrets are exposed and the invisible thread of fate binds them even tighter, they find the strength and resilience to reach for their dreams. But after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, paranoia and suspicion threaten to destroy their lives, and a shocking act of betrayal changes everything.
And what a shocking betrayal it was. I didn't expect this to happen at all and was quite taken aback that something like this would threaten to rip all they had worked hard for apart. But somehow, Grace, Helen and Ruby had to continue on the best they knew how in order to maintain some sense of decorum and sensibility in their lives.
CHINA DOLLS is impossible to put down. Just like Lisa See's other novel 'Snow Flower and the Secret Fan', CHINA DOLLS will have you turning page after page late into the night. The descriptions are so well done that you can picture in your mind's eye the inside of each of the clubs the girls play in, you see the patrons who frequent their shows and smell the odors wafting from the rooms and tables in the venues. It's like having a ring-side seat.
Once again, Lisa See has outdone herself with this marvelous piece of literature that I would highly recommend to anyone. You won't be sorry and it's worth it's weight in gold and gripping read.

The Shadow Year
The Shadow Year
Offered by Hachette Book Group Digital, Inc.
Price: CDN$ 9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Reading!, June 18 2014
This review is from: The Shadow Year (Kindle Edition)
MY REVIEW:
Grand Central Publishing|May 6, 2014|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-1-4555-5433-1
Still grieving the death of her prematurely delivered infant, Lila finds a welcome distraction in renovating a country house she's recently inherited. Surrounded by blueprints and plaster dust, though, she finds herself drawn into the story of a group of idealistic university grads from thirty years before, who'd thrown off the shackles of bourgeois city life to claim the cottage and rely only on each other on the land. But utopia-building can be fraught with unexpected peril, and when the fate of the group is left eerily unclear, Lila turns her attention to untangling a web of secrets to uncover the shocking truth of what happened that fateful year, in order to come to terms with her own loss and build a new future for herself.
I was literally glued to the pages of this book. I just couldn't take my eyes off the pages for even a second. The story was solid, the characters well fleshed out and original and the surprises just kept coming. I was literally rocked off my feet by the ending and had no idea what was coming as I was nearing the end. I think shock is even a mild word to describe the end, I didn't see, nor even considered this ending. What a powerful punch this story delivered. Hannah Richell has certainly penned a winner with THE SHADOW YEAR!

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