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Reviews Written by
Heather Pearson "Heather" (Ontario Canada)
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Dying for a Living (A Jesse Sullivan Novel Book 1)
Dying for a Living (A Jesse Sullivan Novel Book 1)
Price: CDN$ 0.00

4.0 out of 5 stars creepy and fascinating at the same time, June 26 2015
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First it was surrogate birth mothers, and now it's Necronites, surrogates for death. Jesse Sullivan is one of these, at the moment of another person's death, she can re-focus his or her life energy, keeping him or her alive while she 'takes' the death. After her body heals from the death injuries, her brain re-boots and she is once again alive. Every one needs a job, and Jesse is well equipped for this one.

Not every one is happy with the Necronites, specially the church. It is possible there are connected with the questionable events surrounding Jesse's latest job.

I found this a creepy and fascinating idea that someone else could take my death. I could have finished it in one sitting except for family obligations.

It's hard to know in this story who is dead, who should be dead and who could become undead. This makes for great plot twist possibilities.

Brinkley, her handler, Ally, her assistant, and her boyfriend Lane are great additions to the story line. They are very different from each other and help to bring out the various sides of Jesse's personalities.

I look forward to reading more of Jesse's story in Dying by the Hour and then in Dying for Her.

Seriously Mum, What's an Alpaca?
Seriously Mum, What's an Alpaca?
Price: CDN$ 2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars well written and entertaining, June 24 2015
When you move to another country, it's hard to explain your new life to those at home. Author Alan Parks has done a wonderful job of sharing the non-fiction story of his family's move to rural Spain to raise alpacas. His easy going writing style made me feel as though I was reading a personal letter from him.

He talks about the language challenges, the difference in cultures and the significance of the large expat community. I particularly enjoyed the tales of his adventures with his Spanish neighbours.

When I was a teen, my family moved to an island in the Caribbean, and my father and his partners started a scuba diving business. Mr. Parks had me reliving many of our experiences, some I had long forgotten.

I highly recommend this book to anyone considering such a move or who is curious about moving to a foreign country. The armchair traveller will also enjoy the stories and still be happy to remain safely at home

The Wolf and Me (The 7 Sequels)
The Wolf and Me (The 7 Sequels)
Price: CDN$ 8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Great series published all at once, June 8 2015
An edgy story of the abduction and escapes of fifteen year old
Bunny O'Toole. He can't imagine why this has happened nor why they keep asking about his dead grandpa and some anthem.

At first I was a bit thrown off by Bunny's poor spelling failure to understand what was happening. As I kept reading, I realised that he has had some challenges in life and in school. The writing style started to make a lot more sense and added realism to the story.

Whether he had anything to do with it or not, Bunny has got himself into a difficult set of circumstances that would seem fantastical if the explanations didn't make it so plausible. The skill of author Richard Scrimger shines through in his ability to make me believe this story.

The stories of Bunny and his six brothers/cousins starts in Seven (the series) and continues in Seven Sequels. Bunny's tale starts in Ink Me. This is a brilliant concept. Seven authors writing seven books with the same set of characters and backgrounds with plot lines that intertwine and converge at key points and on top of all that, they are published on the same date. In the past, it took years for one author to complete a series, now your child can read all the books while they are still in the recommended target audience. Two years later, they did it all again.

A suggestion to parents. These books would make wonderful party favours as the guests (kids) could trade with each other and read the entire series. You can read the books in any order as they cross reference each other's story lines.

Cathedral of the Sea: A Novel
Cathedral of the Sea: A Novel
by Ildefonso Falcones
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.87
56 used & new from CDN$ 0.04

4.0 out of 5 stars Sweeping novel of life in 14th century Barcelona, June 8 2015
The book starts in 1329, the same year that construction began on the Cathedral of Santa Maria de la Mer, in Barcelona, Spain. The son of a serf, Arnau Estanyol's life was difficult from his first breaths. His mother was raped by the wealthy landowner on the eve of her wedding . Later, his father was forced to abduct him and they fled to Barcelona.

As a young boy, he met and befriended a child, Joanet, who would become his best friend . Together, they explored Barcelona and learned of it's treasures and some of it's secrets. The most important to them was the church of the Virgin, The Cathedral of Santa Maria de la Mer was under construction and the two were fascinated. Their lives became entwined with the progress of the building.

I read this book steadily for a week, pushing aside other obligations to gain more reading time.

Themes in this novel include: love, longing for family, revenge, religion and honour. Arnau is an honourable man and one of the most widely respected of Barcelona's citizens. From his lowly beginnings offering water to the bastaix who were carrying stones for the cathedral, to that of Counsulate of the Sea (magistrate) he never looses site of his humble birth. He is the kind of man that I want to know.

A book this long also needs a villain. That roll is filled by the nobles, who are self centred, with no concern for those in their care (the serfs) , and no thought to the future. The Inquisitor of the Holy Office, Nicolau Eimerich, is a horrid person but so well written that I could actually imagine him presiding over the hearings.

I found the treatments of the Jews disturbing, though it is accurately retold from historical documents. Author Ildefonso Falcones based the book on a historical events though some liberties were made to accommodate the story line.

This is a well written, in depth book that conveys the difficulties of life in 14th century Spain. The descriptive passages , particularly of the church, left me feeling as though I really was there. I highly recommend this book for fans of history and those interested in learning more about Spain.

What in God's Name: A Novel
What in God's Name: A Novel
by Simon Rich
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.83
8 used & new from CDN$ 5.27

5.0 out of 5 stars Good Clean humour that kept me laughing late into the night, May 26 2015
If you enjoy a book that makes you laugh, then What in God's Name by Simon Rich should be at the top of your reading list. This is good clean humour that is not offencive to any race, religion nor gender.

Craig has been working in the Miracle Department for some time. When his computer beeps to alert him to a Potential Miracle, he swings into action trying to make one happen. He tweaks a little here and a little there and if all goes well, a miracle occurs and he is thrilled. Not all angels are feeling the same; they are left wondering whether these miracles really make a difference to those on earth.

The CEO of Heaven Inc. is feeling burned out and ready for a change. Did I mention that the CEO is God. Overseeing the daily operation of earth is a massive job and it's just not as diverting to him as it's been in the past. He's considering opening an Asian Fusion restaurant.

Miracles, prayers, romance and spoiled curry are all wrapped together in this unfolding story. I could not put this down. I picked it up late at night and thought I'd read a chapter, before I knew it I was almost finished part one. This is high on my list to recommend if you are looking for a fun read , no lectures, no lessons to be learned, just a let loose humorous read.

Code Name Verity
Code Name Verity
by Elizabeth Wein
Edition: MP3 CD
Price: CDN$ 13.99
8 used & new from CDN$ 5.40

2.0 out of 5 stars Well Written but failed to capture my interest, May 25 2015
This review is from: Code Name Verity (MP3 CD)
This is the fictional account of two young women who meet during World War Two in England. One longs to use her pilot skills to aid the war effort and the other, she can imagine other ways to put her language skills to use, As the war continues, their friendship deepens and their involvement moves to new levels not typical of women at that time period.

This is a well crafted story, first told from the point of view of Verity and then later from that of Maddie. Unfortunately, this story didn't capture my interest nor imagination. Code Name Verity is part of author Elizabeth Weir's Young Pilot Series. For those with an interest in flying, they will find this book very attractive. There is a wealth of knowledge about WWII era planes and their role in the war effort.

If I had been reading a paper version, I doubt I'd have made it past the first few chapters. I listened to the audio from Bolinda Audio. It was a free download from SYNC, a summer audio book program aimed at YA readers. The program continues this summer with 28 additional titles. Readers for this book are Marven Christie and Lucy Gaskell. They did a excellent job and kept my attention with their voice characterisation of the men and women as well as the French and German accents.

The Coroner's Lunch (Dr. Siri Mysteries)
The Coroner's Lunch (Dr. Siri Mysteries)
Price: CDN$ 7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Kept me listening last into the night, May 16 2015
If I am ever murdered and I get to choose the pathologist to perform my autopsy, I want it to be Dr. Siri Paiboun, the main character in The Coroner's Lunch.

Author Colin Cotterill has created a good man living in difficult times. The year is 1975 and Laos is now communist run. Paiboun, even though he is 72 and looking forward to retirement, is appointed as National Coroner. He has no budget, limited supplies and must report to an in-experienced judge who wants all results to follow the needs of the party. In his favour, Nurse Dtui is an eager assistant and Mr. Geung, while living with Downs Syndrome, functions as far more than an orderly.

Early in his tenure as coroner, the results of several autopsies don't add up to the neat and tidy results the court wants. Siri realises he has to dig deeper even if it gets him into trouble. The spirits of the dead have come to him and pressed him to find the truth. He can't deny them.

I liked Dr. Siri right from the opening pages. He exemplifies many of the characteristics that I believe in. Truth, doing a job to the best of your abilities, making the best of a difficult situation are just a few. Perhaps it is his curiosity and questioning nature that make him so real.

The story also has a set of characters that I want to meet again. The nurse and orderly assigned to the morgue add greatly to the story. At first they seem unlikely aides, but as we get to know them, their dedication to Siri and the job become obvious. Police Officer Phosy is Siri's police liaison. He's a bit of a mystery, but seems to be united with Siri in finding the truth.

I learned quite a bit about the geography and culture of Laos. It's a country I have no experience with and felt that Mr. Cotterill did a great job of bringing it to life for me. I am looking forward to reading more about Dr. Siri and his investigations.

I listened to the audio book from Oakhill Publishing. Read by Gareth Armstrong. 8 hours 8 mins .

Shopping for a Billionaire Boxed Set (Parts 1-5)
Shopping for a Billionaire Boxed Set (Parts 1-5)
Price: CDN$ 5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Delightful Romance, May 13 2015
This is a delightful, romantic story collection. From the minute mystery shopper Shannon Jacoby meets billionaire Declan McCormick while her hand is in the toilet in a men's room, I was drawn into their lives. As soon as I finished the free version of part I, I promptly purchased the five part collection. I needed to read more of their story right away.

Shannon works for a company that provides mystery shopper services to a wide variety of companies. Much of her work is managing shoppers from her office, though she does 'shop' for a number of their top clients. She is a unique character and sees the world from a different perspective than most leading women. She experiences the best and worst of a wide cross section of the population yet still maintains her cheerful outlook. This had me liking her right from the beginning.

I was a bit slower for me to adore Declan, but as he shed his professional persona, I could see the trustworthy and loving man hiding beneath. Finally, there is Shannon's mother. She is a firecracker. Each time she entered a scene, I had no idea what to expect from her other than it might blow up the situation. She is energetic and funny as can be. A great addition to the story line.

I could have rushed through this story, but I decided to take my time and let it develop over the course of a week or so. I wanted to savour their building relationship. There is a sixth book in the Shopper series by Julia Kent, Shopping for a Billionaire's Fiance, that I'll be ordering soon.

Along Came a Spider
Along Came a Spider
by James Patterson
Edition: Audio CD
Price: CDN$ 14.44
17 used & new from CDN$ 13.13

5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome start to a series, May 8 2015
This review is from: Along Came a Spider (Audio CD)
This is a cunningly crafted story that kept me listening long after I should have moved on to other tasks. Along Came A Spider is the book that launched the highly successful Alex Cross series, which now spans more than 20 novels.

We first meet Detective Alex Cross when he is investigating a brutal murder of a family of three in Washington, D.C. He is soon called away to deal with a high profile abduction of two nine year olds from their private school by one of their teachers. The teacher, Gary Soneji, turns out to be one of the most loathsome characters I have encountered in a book.

This abridged version was read by Alton Fitzgerald White and Michael Compstey (cover shown is from the unabridged version). The reader for Gary was so effective, then when I heard his voice, I actually cringed.

Author James Patterson has created in Alex Cross, a man I could respect. He is thoughtful, considerate and of course, highly intelligent. He is a trained psychologist who has seen some of the worst that man can perpetrate against each other, yet he hasn't lost his compassion for those he encounters in his work and for his own family. I look forward to reading further books in this series.

If you like characters such as Gary Soneji, you might enjoy the Color of Evil Series by author Connie C. Wilson.

Station Eleven
Station Eleven
by Emily St John Mandel
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.87
6 used & new from CDN$ 15.77

3.0 out of 5 stars Left me confused, May 7 2015
This review is from: Station Eleven (Paperback)
I was disappointed in this novel. From the advertising and write ups I had read, I was expecting a post-apocalyptic story. What it turned out to be was a biography of a fictional actor who was possibly the last celebrity to die before the onslaught of a virulent pandemic.

The opening chapter was most appealing and had me eagerly reading. A paramedic in training was attending a theatrical performance when he noticed that the lead actor was suffering a medical crisis. His attempt to resuscitate him was unsuccessful. Shortly after he left the theatre, a former colleague called him and told him of an extremely aggressive flu at the local hospital. He warned him to prepare for the possible crisis. And then we don't hear from this character for twenty years.

What followed was a disjointed series of stories about Arthur's past interspersed with glimpses of the daily life of a band of actors and musicians as they travel from one settlement to the next.

In the end, the stories did come together, but it wasn't enough to overcome the confusion that I felt for the preceding three hundred pages.

This book a has been selected as the One Book One Community Read for Waterloo Region where I live.

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