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Dana
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Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed: A Memoir of the Cleveland Kidnappings
Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed: A Memoir of the Cleveland Kidnappings
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Price: CDN$ 16.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars must read, May 23 2014
I was hesitant to pick this book up. I didn't really want to know what happened to any of the women in Ariel Castro's (hereafter referred to as 'the dude') prison. I wasn't after some sensational, disgusting account of abuse and slavery. The deciding factor for me was seeing an interview with author Michelle Knight. What a feisty, down to earth woman! So it was with trepidation I turned to the first page. Michelle starts her story from the beginning - her beginning. We are introduced to a little girl living a life of sadness who, somehow discovers faith and hope and refuses to let either go. She is discreet in her description of the hell she ended up living in for 10 years, which I truly appreciated. In telling her story, she manages to make the abuse understood without having to stoop to specifics. The real story here is how Michelle managed to hold on to her faith, her hope and her true self no matter what 'the dude' did to her. I am in no way saying she didn't have and doesn't continue to have issues to work out - who wouldn't!! But her attitude and fierce will to heal and be happy serve as inspiration to anyone who has ever been through hell; to anyone who has wondered 'why me'; to anyone who has dared to take their life for granted. Michelle's story ends up being an uplifting reminder that we can not only survive, but bloom no matter what happens in our lives.

Gone Girl: A Novel
Gone Girl: A Novel
Offered by Random House Canada, Incorp.
Price: CDN$ 12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, dark, dark, May 17 2014
Despite seriously rough language, this book is worth a read. The 'first part' is a good mystery; engrossing; from here it looks like it will be a good, keep you guessing type story. A lot like others out there but well written. Then you get to the 'second part' and your mind gets blown. The story turns from a good mystery into a full blown, Hitchcock-like psychological thriller. And one of the best psychological thrillers I have read in a long, long time. The 'third part' moves the book into the realm of 'dark'. Never boring. Gone Girl deserves every bit of the hoopla surrounding it.

Underlake
Underlake
by Kia Heavey
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.05
6 used & new from CDN$ 11.08

5.0 out of 5 stars captivating, March 28 2014
This review is from: Underlake (Paperback)
When I was a young teenager, I read Beverly Cleary’s Fifteen and loved it. Ms Cleary seemed to capture everything I was feeling during those turbulent years. That feeling is also perfectly captured in Kia Heavey’s new novel Underlake.
I suppose the appropriate genre for this captivating book would be ‘young adult Christian literature’ but don’t let the Christian literature label turn you off. The religiosity of the story is simply a part of fifteen year old Katie Welch finding her way and discovering what works for her. As she says herself ‘That works for me but it doesn’t have to work for you. The whole point is that we are individuals’ (pg293) What a wonderful concept for us all to embrace. The problem for Katie is that realizing this truth, and implementing it in her life, does not mean that those around her understand or are willing to do the same. Her mother and closest friends feel rejected and hurt. Only John understands.
Underlake is the first book I have read in a long time that has completely captivated me. I loved Katie and her Underlake friends. I was frustrated and angered by her mother and society friends. John I had some trouble with: at times I adored him as much as Katie did and at other times I was suspicious of his motives. It was harder for me to accept him as another teenager trying to find his way. But however I felt about the characters, I was always thinking about the story; I couldn’t wait to get back to it and see what would happen next. The story pulled me in and held me captive. Kia Heavey has that effect on me; her writing style speaks to my heart.
If I had to pick one negative thing about Underlake, it would be that it took so long to get a comprehensive description of what Katie looked like. By then I had already started to picture her in my mind and Kia’s description of her didn’t match the picture I had in my brain.
Biggest positive is that the author doesn’t leave the reader hanging at the end of the book. Everything pulls together and the reader is left satisfied.
I loved this book and, without hesitation, recommend it to readers of all ages. We can all learn something from Katie’s outlook and from John’s redemption. It is a story, and a moral, that will stay with me. Great job Kia Heavey!

Jubilee's Journey (The Wyattsville Series Book 2)
Jubilee's Journey (The Wyattsville Series Book 2)
Price: CDN$ 5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Ms Crosby does it again!, Dec 3 2013
Jubilee's Journey is the second of the Wyattsville books and, although I didn't think it was possible, even better than the first. You can read Jubilee's Journey without having first read Spare Change and keep right up with the story and characters. Just a warning, though, if you do that you will have missed out on another really good read.

Bette Crosby never disappoints! She tells great stories with loveable, relatable characters - and this is no exception. I defy any book lover to start this book and not fall completely in love with Jubilee and her brother, Paul. Their loyalty to each other is tried as they are faced with a variety of situations, people and choices that have the capacity to either destroy or uplift.

I found myself totally immersed in Wyattsville and it's cast of characters. This is a town that I want to live in. Ms. Crosby paints such lively pictures with her words that the story leaps off the page and creates a movie in the mind. Although Jubilee's Journey avoids the graphic sensationalism that is so popular these days, I hesitate to label it 'Christian literature'. It is not preachy or obvious but many of the characters are clean living, God fearing people: a refreshing change both from the more main stream Christian literature and the 'in your face' sex and violence books out there. One to put on your to read list.

The Gilly Salt Sisters
The Gilly Salt Sisters
by Tiffany Baker
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 22.39
29 used & new from CDN$ 0.03

4.0 out of 5 stars great escape, Nov. 10 2013
This review is from: The Gilly Salt Sisters (Hardcover)
This was the first book I have read by Tiffany Baker - truth be told, I picked it up at the book store because something about the cover 'spoke' to me. Sometimes I make really good impulse buys and this was definitely one of those times. What an enjoyable book! It was a worthwhile escape full of characters that will stick with me. The only issue I had with the story was that I really disliked Dee. I could have done without her completely except that I don't know how else the lives of the other characters could have been shaken up to such a magnificent extent. The 'suprise twist' wasn't much of a suprise to me either. I figured it out pretty early - even so, I enjoyed playing along and watching until all of the players had also figured it out.

Along side of a really good story, I enjoyed learning about salt: the salt served to add flavour to the story. Ms Baker skillfuly weaves the salt through the lives of the inhabitants of Prospect. It becomes the tie that binds the people together and also the catalyst that almost destroys them.

In answer to Jo's questions:

My first memory is having xrays after breaking my collarbone as a young child and crying for my Daddy.

I love my husband completely.

I thought I'd find a love story - but I found so much more.

Winter Garden
Winter Garden
by Kristin Hannah
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.26
162 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Heartwarming, June 30 2013
This review is from: Winter Garden (Paperback)
It has been a long time since I have read a book so poignant. Winter Garden is going right to the top of my 'recommend to everyone' list. I have always been suspect of symbolism in novels but in my mind, if no where else, Anya struck me as the personification of Russia during Stalin's rule, through the siege of Lenningrad and possibly even today. She seemed cold and bitter to those who didn't know her but had a core passion and strength that only became apparent as her story was told.

As Anya's story is told and as her daughters, Nina and Meredith, come to know and admire their mother, the reader is drawn into the era, the pain and the strength that are portayed. Anya has trouble forgiving herself for choices that were forced upon her and refuses to see in herself the power and fortiude that make her a survivor.

I loved the characters. I loved the story. I love the writing style of Kristin Hannah. This was the first of her books I have picked up but it will not be the last. Winter Garden is a story that has become a part of me.

Lady Of Hay
Lady Of Hay
by Barbara Erskine
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.89
8 used & new from CDN$ 1.35

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars recommended, May 12 2013
This review is from: Lady Of Hay (Paperback)
I confess that I have a love of books that explore past lives of the characters. I'm not sure I believe in reincarnation but I wouold like to. In the Lady of Hay, the possible past life/possible possesion of journalist Jo Clifford as the Lady of Hay is explored. Jo begins her exploration of past life regression as research for an article she plans on writing. Soon she is totally immersed in her past life: being drawn back to her past at inconvenient times, in inconvenient ways. A smattering of darkness, evil and insanity invades 'both'of her lives as she struggles to make sense of what is real and what isn't. I have to say that, while I loved the story and the author's style, I really did not like Jo. She struck me as wimpy and weak in both lives. That said, my feelings for the main character did not take away my total enjoyment of the book. Definitely recommended reading.

The Black Isle
The Black Isle
by Sandi Tan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 17.55
36 used & new from CDN$ 0.77

1.0 out of 5 stars disappointing, May 12 2013
This review is from: The Black Isle (Hardcover)
This book started out with amazing promise. I loved the author's style and her characters were interesting and fun to get to know - even the ones I loved to hate. The story of a family torn apart and Cassandra's ability to see ghosts is compelling. I loved the culture that I was being introduced to and had great expectations of writing a positive review of a remarkable book. So what happened? For reasons I don't understand (and I'm willing to consider that I might have come to understand had I continued reading) the author took the main character twins to a place that would have been better never explored. SPOILER ALERT!
I couldn't get my head around incest and rape between twins that had not shown any of these inclinations through the beginning of the story. It seemed to be a sudden, unexplained, eruption of evil that sprung out of nothing. Like the scene in a movie thrown in to raise the rating. It felt unneccessary and lowered my opinion of the author and the characters. I couldn't get past it and put the book down never to be pickd back up. A huge disappointment.

The Goddess Test
The Goddess Test
by Aimee Carter
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 10.82
57 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Great YA romance, March 17 2013
This review is from: The Goddess Test (Paperback)
I have been looking for The Goddess Test for a while now, after reading varying reviews. Having finally found it I was excited to get started. Well I started and then I finished – one sitting. The first chapter had me concerned I was reading a Twilight rewrite but my fears were soon put to rest. Despite some similarities, The Goddess Test stands on its own merits. If you know absolutely nothing about Greek mythology, you might want to acquaint yourself with the basics before starting this novel. If you know even just the basics, you’ll be OK.
I love Kate. She is strong and sensible. This is no whimpering heroine. She can stand on her own. Life has dealt her some hard blows, but she doesn’t turn bitter or self-pitying, she fights back. Henry is a little harder to read but, by the end of the book, I was a little in love with him myself.
Aimee Carter’s writing style is clear and not graphic – even when the scenes are. I like that she leads the reader just so far and then leaves the rest up to us. I feel completely comfortable recommending this book to young adult readers as young as 13 or 14. This is a romance worth reading. I can’t wait to sit down with the next one. Bring on Goddess Interrupted!

Juliet
Juliet
by Anne Fortier
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.89
11 used & new from CDN$ 1.81

5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it, Feb. 27 2013
This review is from: Juliet (Hardcover)
Before I even get started on this review, in the spirit of full disclosure – I love Shakespeare; the first book that I remember crying while reading was Antony and Cleopatra. So obviously I was drawn to Juliet by Anne Fortier. Do not despair you Shakespearian haters – this is a book even you will love!

Here’s the riddle of the day: what do you get when you mix a Shakespearian tragedy with a back story that proves to be only too true, an ancient curse that continues to be visited on “both your houses” and Italian organized crime? You get the makings of an incredible mystery/thriller that transcends the ages.

When Julie’s beloved Aunt Rose dies, all she leaves behind for the niece she loves is a letter. A letter that tells Julie that she isn’t who she was raised to believe she was and points her to her birth country of Italy and to ancient treasure hidden there. The chapters flip back and forth between Julie’s current adventure and the original Giulietta’s tragic story. The story of Romeo and Giulietta is much more tragic and vital than Shakespeare’s version and equally as intriguing as Julie’s. As a rule I’m not a huge fan of novels that flip between time periods chapter to chapter. Juliet proved to be a huge exception to that rule. I found myself looking forward to each chapter transition so that I could catch up on the other half of the story.

The stories, the suspense, the action, the romance were all beautifully conceived and written. Anne Fortier’s use of language is easy to read and understand but, in its own way, equally as poetic and the Bard’s ever was. I was carried away by passages like this one on page 54:

“Just then did the coffin lid swing open, and its tenant – a young woman whose wild hair and flaming eyes made her look like an angel of vengeance – sat up with all signs of consternation. The mere sight of her was enough to make the bandit drop his knife in horror and turn completely ashen. Without hesitation the angel leaned out of the coffin, picked up the knife, and thrust it immediately back into the flesh of its owner, as high up his thigh as her anger could reach.”

Reading that quote, and knowing how it all ends, I still am tempted to begin again. One of the best books I’ve read in a long time, Juliet kept me involved and guessing till the very end. Loved it!

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