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Heather Pearson "Heather" (Ontario Canada)
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Cold Storage, Alaska
Cold Storage, Alaska
by John Straley
Edition: Audio CD
Price: CDN$ 34.83
9 used & new from CDN$ 19.44

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully entertaining, Dec 22 2014
This review is from: Cold Storage, Alaska (Audio CD)
This audio book was wonderfully entertaining and I kept making excuses to keep listening. At first I thought it was a story of good brother versus bad brother. As I kept listening, I realised it went a lot deeper than that.

Clive McCahon has served his time for dealing drugs and now wants to return home to remote Cold Storage, Alaska to open a bar/church. His brother Miles, the town medic, is unaware of this until a state trooper, bent on re-arresting Clive, fills him in. Fishing is the largest industry in Cold Storage and trooper wants to ensure that Clive doesn't bring any of his drug dealing ways with him.

From the moment Clive and his uniquely ugly dog step foot on shore, all plans seem to take on a life of their own. The arrival of ones of his pre-jail associates complicates matters, though not in expected way. A series of comic mis-adventures doesn't hurt either.

Cold Storage is a remote community with access either by water or air. City people can't envision themselves wanting to stay here, but it has a knack for getting under their skins and they find it hard to leave. Perhaps it's the sense of caring practised by the residents.

Author John Straley has turned a cold, isolated community into an inviting yet funny family.

Splattered Blood
Splattered Blood
by Michael A. Draper
Edition: Paperback
11 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Great characters and a twisting plot, Dec 21 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Splattered Blood (Paperback)
Johnny thought he had the perfect job as Chief of Internal Security for the New England Highlanders basketball team, until he committed suicide. His wife Roseanne couldn't believe that he would choose to end his life and pushed for an investigation. Along with her brother Graham and friend Randy, they carried out their own probe.

The story is told from Randy's point of view. He's been a friend of the family for many years since selling them their first insurance policy. His job has given him many opportunities for investigation, but never as in depth as this case promises to go. At first, I felt a little unsettled by Randy's story telling, but then I realised he was telling the story from the present rather than the past tense as I expected. Once I had read a few chapters, that unsettled feeling went away.

Their investigation proceeds at a realistic pace, at times stalling for days and at others moving ahead in leaps and bounds. This kept me guessing as to what would happen next and when it might happen.

I enjoyed the assortment of characters involved in the plot. Detective Chuck McElroy never quite welcomed the three as he felt it was safest to leave the investigating to the police, but then again, he didn't run them out of town either. It didn't matter that I knew little about professional basketball, it is a backdrop to several characters, one of whom plays an important part of the investigation.

This is definitely not a cosy mystery, it contains a fair number of gruesome deaths, though Mr. Draper has not gone into glorified details, rather he has confined the descriptions of the bodies to that needed for the storyline and not gone beyond to gratuitous gore.

Thanks to author Michael Draper for creating a good book with more than a few interesting plot twists. Mike's latest book Three Strikes and You're Dead is now out in print.

The Hostage Bargain (Taken Hostage by Kinky Bank Robbers Book 1)
The Hostage Bargain (Taken Hostage by Kinky Bank Robbers Book 1)
Price: CDN$ 0.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting story where people are far more than they first appear, Dec 8 2014
This is a well written entertaining book. An interesting cast of characters that are far removed from my every day life. None of them are what they appear, they all have secrets. I particularly liked the respectful handling of the explicit erotic scenes. As soon as I finished reading this book, I ordered the three book set where the tale continues.

Green Rider: Book One of Green Rider
Green Rider: Book One of Green Rider
Offered by Penguin Group USA
Price: CDN$ 9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still love it after my third read through, Dec 6 2014
I could hardly put this book down, and that's saying a lot since I have previously read it two times. Karigan G'ladheon has faced life threatening challenges since she ran away from bullies at her boarding school and I can't help but cheer for her.

The lands of Sacoridia are bounded by magical D'Yer Wall that has stood for a thousand years. It has served to keep the nightmare creatures of Kanmorhan Vane out, but the Gray One has breached the wall. I had hoped that the wall would be more involved in this story, but that comes in future books. The Green Riders are the main theme. They are the legendary couriers of the lands, though their reputation has tarnished over the centuries and their role in the liberation from evil has been forgotten.

This book has many of the features I look for in a good book. A strong female character, a good cast to support her, magic that keeps me guessing and a wonderful setting. The land of Sacoridia is realistic in many ways, yet the possibility of magic adds numerous twists. I had one problem with this created world. The road that Karigan travels from school to the capital city is impossibly long compared to those travelled by he father. Unfortunately there is no map of the lands included in the book, so I have to imagine that the route she took was the 'milk run' that passed through all the out of the way towns.

Karigan does a lot of growing up in this coming of age story. From school girl to respected Green Rider, she faces challenges that might have thwarted vastly more experienced adults. True to form for a teenager, she says she wants travel and adventure and then when she's presented with it, all she wants to go is go home.

I first read this book shortly after it was published in 1998 and I feel that it still reads well for a debut novel. If it were to be published now it would probably fit in the YA category. The story continues in First Rider's Call.

Slabscape : Reset
Slabscape : Reset
Price: CDN$ 2.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Great concept but a slow start, Dec 5 2014
This review is from: Slabscape : Reset (Kindle Edition)
This is the story of Dielle, a man who re-awakens on a generation ship more than 300 years after it has left earth. By awakens, I mean, his body has been rejuvenated over the past 300 years and he is mostly a new man. He has no memory of his earlier life and is trying to find his way in a society that is almost totally foreign to him.

The ship is a massive vessel more than a thousand kilometres in length housing over thirty two million humans.

While I found this story to be intriguing, I had two major problems with it. First was the method of re-integrating Dielle into society. There was almost no protocol for doing this even though the technology has been in use for well over 300 years. He was released from the hospital totally unprepared to live in the current society. A recipe for disaster.

Second, I found it surprising that Kiki, Dielle's love interest, was allowed access to such a high priority Reset. She had minimal nursing experience, yet she was allowed to care for one of the most prestigious men on the entire ship. Doesn't sound likely.

Once I could get over these issues, I did find the story worth reading. The concept of the ship and how it worked is what kept my attention. I glazed over the parts where the author strayed off on a tangent that really had nothing to do with advancing the plot. The story moved rather slowly at the beginning, but got better as it progressed. By the half way point, I was actually looking forward to my reading time.

The story continues in Slabscape : Dammit

The Goldfinch: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction)
The Goldfinch: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction)
Offered by Hachette Book Group Digital, Inc.
Price: CDN$ 14.99

2.0 out of 5 stars I struggled to finish this book, Nov. 14 2014
This book did not work for me. It had moments where I listened in rapt attention and others where I was lost listening to long, monotonous discourses on some abstract topic that I couldn't relate back to Theo and his plight. On the whole, there just wasn't enough of the compelling passages for me to recommend this novel. I'm sure there are many who disagree with me, as this book has won numerous notable awards.

The story starts in New York City while 13 year old Theo is visiting a museum with his mother. An accident takes the life of his mother and in the confusion that follows, Theo takes The Goldfinch, a painting by artist Carel Fabritius from the museum. The reader then follows Theo for the next decades while he attempts to resolve his angst over what has happened in the past.

A coming of age novel for a boy without a suitable/stable adult influence. Even before the accident, Theo had set a pattern of not learning from the bad decisions he made. This doesn't change regardless of the many second chances he is given.

Two characters helped to redeem this book for me. Theo meets Boris about a year after the accident and together they get into all sorts of risky situations. Boris is the bad boy type that as a parent I don't really want my child to hang out with, but as a literary character, I can't wait to read about his next exploit. Shortly after the incident that killed his mother, Theo meets James (Hobie) Hobart, a elderly furniture restorer, who later becomes his guardian and mentor. This is a man who you want to know and would trust as part of your family. He is a stabilising factor in Theo's life and he keeps the story grounded.

I listened to the Hachette Audio book version, 32 hours and 24 minutes and read by David Pittu. He did a good job of the many characters and their different ethnicities. Hobie and Boris became real in my mind while listening to them talk.

"The Goldfinch" by Carel Fabritius is a real painting that is part of The Frick Collection that is housed at The Royal Picture Galley Mauritshuis, The Hague.

Black Death In A New Age: A Novel
Black Death In A New Age: A Novel
Price: CDN$ 5.48

4.0 out of 5 stars gripping tale set in the USA, Nov. 2 2014
I truly enjoy a plague novel that I can lose myself in knowing that I am healthy and safe from infection. Black Death in a New Age kept my attention from the first pages. Not only did it have an outbreak in an unsuspecting location, Duane University in Texas, it mixed civilian and military personal in identifying and containing the spread of the pathogen. Immunologist Dr. Dana Sparks is a brilliant scientist but she likes to work outside the box much to the disapproval of her new boss retired military man Dr. TJ McCoy. He is a by the rules kind of leader and she definitely plays by an entirely different set.

Complicating matters is the transient nature of a university town as well as the pending visit of the Vice President of the United States. Top it all off with a fast moving tropical storm and Drs. Sparks and McCoy have a herculean task ahead of them.

I like that it isn't just one of the doctors that solves the crisis, but that it takes the work of several doctors, CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and FBI to find both the cure as well as the first victim and infection source. Team work makes for good reading in my opinion. This is a well crafted mystery and I had to read through to the end to find the missing answers.

Treat with Caution (Treats to Tempt You Book 1)
Treat with Caution (Treats to Tempt You Book 1)
Price: CDN$ 0.00

4.0 out of 5 stars A fun romantic romp in New Zealnd, Oct. 23 2014
Tasha and Cole have been friends for years, but have never strayed across that friendship line. Now they both want to rent the same sea front shop in Mangonui, in the Northland of New Zealand, and neither will back down. A rash statement has led to a challenge, date for the next week and a half. The one who falls most for the other loses the rental. Both of them figure they'll easily win.

The waterfront in Mangonui is beautiful and I can understand why both Tasha and Cole want to situate their businesses there.

Both are scared of losing a dear friend should the romance fail, but the stakes appear too high not to try.

I enjoyed following their romance. Both of them trying to seduce the other without falling head over heals in love. It had me cheering for both of them at different times. Yes, I am a romantic at heart and not ashamed to admit it.

The romances continue with Tasha's friends in:

Treat her Right

A Rare Treat

Trick or Treat

A Festive Treat

Author Serenity Woods also writes epic fantasy under the pen name Freya Robertson.

The Way (Volumes of the Vemreaux Book 1)
The Way (Volumes of the Vemreaux Book 1)
Price: CDN$ 0.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Challenging New World, Oct. 23 2014
In a world where blood type determines your lot in life, A means a life of labour, B leads to a life of privilege and O to isolation on a distant island where the residents blood is harvested. As an A, Blue Anders has known no other life, than hard work and continual physical training by her brother. Her unbeatable strength has led her and her brother Baird to believe that she is the Light, the one that will fulfil the prophecy to free the Vemreaux from that which threatens them.

This is quite the world that author Mary Twomey has created. It appears to be a possible future of our own world. I love the careful attention to detail, such as all girls born in the same year, have the same middle name. To add a twist to the population, she has given the Bs the opportunity to undergo the Change to extend their life span by many decades.

There are strict class rules which seem quite daunting, though they do thin within the work place. The lowest of Bs always outrank As, yet Baird still manages to keep control of the activities within the business he manages. Makes this a very real society in my view.

The role of family is explored in this novel. Elle and Grettel are not related to Blue and Baird, yet they live together and care for each other as family. These bonds are further tested when several Vemreaux become involved with the siblings.

The further I got into this story, the more I liked Blue and even Baird. I did not want to book to end, but I wanted to find out what happens, did she fulfil the prophecy.

The last part is not answered yet, as the story continues in the next book The Truth, which I am looking forward to,

Cordelia's Honor
Cordelia's Honor
by Lois McMaster Bujold
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.02
38 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars greeat cast of characters, Oct. 20 2014
Commander Cordelia Naismith is a strong female character who has commanded a survey ship and crew, led a military mission, saved the life of a young emperor and saved his country from total chaos. When I first met her at the beginning of this book, she was in full control of her crew and ready to handle any disaster. A few pages later, she is confronted by Captain Aral Vorkosigan and almost immediately she is attracted to him and having romantic thoughts even while she contemplating how to escape from him.

At this point I thought the book was going to be a romance novel, not what I was looking for. I kept reading and found that was not the case. Yes, there is romance, but it is only one part of the story between Cordelia and Aral.

Author Lois McMaster Bujold has created a complex world on Barrayar. They are a space faring race with advanced technology in their hands, yet they also have long standing issues of class divisions, power struggles and gender roles. I did ponder the hints of a Russian heritage for the founding of the planet. Hopefully the founding of the planet will become clear in subsequent books in the series.

One of the strengths of this book is the great characters that surround both Cordelia and Aral. Piotr Vorkosigan, father of Aral, is an aristocrat through and through. He does love his son, though not in a warm cuddly way, rather for the prestige that Aral can bring to the family name. Fellow soldiers Koudelka and Bothari are definitely men that you would want on your side in any battle and Drou, though not a soldier is certainly more than capable in her role as bodyguard.

As I finished reading this book, I was already wondering about the fates of these characters and whether they would play a role in in the next Vorkosigan book.

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