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Reviews Written by
Heather Pearson "Heather" (Ontario Canada)

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Spic-and-Span!: Lillian Gilbreth's Wonder Kitchen
Spic-and-Span!: Lillian Gilbreth's Wonder Kitchen
by Monica Kulling
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 14.43
33 used & new from CDN$ 7.93

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent - Should be in every classroom library, Jan. 25 2015
How did I not know about Lillian Gilbreth when the results of her work affect much of my waking hours. From the layout of my kitchen, to a number of appliances that I regularly use, she has made my life easier and undoubtedly safer. Her work on improving the ease and efficiency of assembly lines made the work easier, faster and safer for employees.

Lillian didn't just use her engineering and psychology skills in her job, but she employed them in running her household. With eleven children, she found it the only way to mange.

Author Monica Kulling has brought Lillian Gilbreth to life for me. She has presented a lot of information in bite size pieces that will appeal to the school age readers. I think that this book would most appeal to ages 8 - 12. It will also be of interest to adult readers, though it might leave them wanting to know more detail about Lillian and her works. I also recommend it to all young women considering a career in engineering.

This book, along with the others in the series, would be a great addition to any classroom library. Teachers could use it as a launching point for several discussions including: what do engineers do, types of jobs available, roles of women in the workplace, what in your house would you change to make life better...

The book is fully illustrated by David Parkins. His artwork depicts life in the early 1900's, at the time when Lillian was working.

Freak of Nature (IFICS Book 1)
Freak of Nature (IFICS Book 1)
Price: CDN$ 0.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Well written story that kept my attention throughout, Jan. 20 2015
It was the cover that first attracted me to this book and it didn't mislead. This was a story I could hardly put down.

Kaitlyn is having a difficult time with her second coming of age. The first time she did it as a human girl and this time she is doing it as the first human robot/cyborg. Having signed her donor card to donate her body to science, after she suffers a fatal brain injury in a fall, her body ends up in the labs of Dr. Harrington. From that point forward, she is an experimental subject and no longer has any say over what happens to her body.

Dr. Harrington has no qualms about turning Kaitlyn into the perfect soldier, though Lucas, one of his scientists, has second thoughts about what they have done.

Even with all her enhancements, Kaitlyn is still a girl, but she no longer knows how to be the person she was before the accident. Some of her mistakes were amusing. Others reminded me of ones that a foreigner to Canada or the United States might make such as not knowing the current slang. It also emphasised that text book learning is not enough, real world experience is required.

Did I mention that there is romance. Can't tell you about that, want to keep the suspense.

Even though this level of human/robot hybrid is far off in the future, it does bring to mind the question of whether it should be done. Just because we have the technology, should we be using it.

This is a well written book that kept me reading long after I should have been asleep. Though this book is aimed at a YA audience, it has enough detail to keep an adult reader involved.

The Town That Drowned
The Town That Drowned
by Riel Nason
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.40
21 used & new from CDN$ 0.10

5.0 out of 5 stars An unusual coming of age story, Jan. 20 2015
Ce commentaire est de: The Town That Drowned (Paperback)
It's the mid 1960's in a small town in New Brunswick. Little do the residents know, over the next two years life in their town is going to change in ways they could never have imagined. The entire town lies in the future flood plain of a yet to built dam. Almost everyone will have to move. For most people, they will adapt, but for the Carson family, it will be more of a challenge. Their nine year old son, Percy, is not like the other kids. He sticks to his own strict routine and doesn't accept change. (autism?) Along with worrying about her brother and his quirky behaviour, Ruby has her own issues. Ever since she fell in the river, hitting her head, no one will let her forget the prophetic babbling she uttered.

Small towns can be a supportive community where everyone knows everyone else, but it can also seem like a punishment when people continue to rub past events in your face. Ruby is hoping that the forced move will improve her and Percy's lot in life.

While the main story line is the flooding of the town, that of Percy, his behaviour and how the towns people respond to him is equally significant in my opinion. The term autism has been used since 1908, though it wasn't until the 1970s that it became more widely know. Keeping this in mind, I shouldn't be too surprised that there was so little understanding/tolerance for Percy.

I was younger than Percy at the time this novel was set. I have no memories of politics and how governments worked. In this book, the provincial government is portrayed as paternalistic. No public hearings nor consultations with the affected communities were held. No discussion with the towns people of where they want to located their new town. This lack of consultation led to all sorts of distrust and rumours in the community. I really got the feel of neighbour against neighbour as people tried to cope with their loss.

This book should appeal to teens through adults. History lovers will appreciate that the story was inspired by the construction of a dam on the St. John River in the late 1960's.

This is a debut novel for author Riel Nason

by Richard Ford
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.43
9 used & new from CDN$ 2.83

2.0 out of 5 stars Reads like a monotone painting, Jan. 18 2015
Ce commentaire est de: Canada (Paperback)
The best part of this book is that a large portion of it was set in Canada. Other than that, I'd describe it as a monotone, even when something did happen, it was related in such a level, paced manor that it seemed common and even mundane.

The reader knows from the opening lines that the parents commit a robbery and some time later there are some murders. That's the excitement, in those two lines. Later, there are a few pages detailing how the country of Canada is introduced to the story, but really, it's just not an exciting story.

It is an unusual coming of age story for twins. Berner strikes off on her own and rarely enters back into the story, while her brother Dell is sent to live with the brother of a friend of the family. Within a short few months, Dell is exposed to and involved in a lifetime of situations.

Dell did learn important lessons from the three males in his life: his father (the bank robber), Arthur Remlinger (his guardian in Canada) and Charley(the Metis hunting guide in Canada). None of them were good roll models, but they each taught him important lessons.

I am left wondering why Mr. Ford chose to tell this story in such a dry manner. He could have made it much more lively. Then again, this telling did reflect the gravity of the misdeeds of the parents. There was one brief moment of levity when Dell went off on his own to find a school for himself.

If you are looking for a story with exciting bank robbers and flamboyant murders, this isn't the book. If you are looking for a sober reflection on a boy's coming of age, this is the book.

The Kingdom (The Graveyard Queen)
The Kingdom (The Graveyard Queen)
Price: CDN$ 4.20

5.0 out of 5 stars better than the first book, Jan. 12 2015
Amelia Gray's story continues in The Kingdom. She has been hired to restore a community graveyard in the isolated town of Asher Falls, South Carolina. Almost immediately after her arrival, she sees her first ghost. This doesn't bode well for the job she has ahead of her.

An important part of the restoration, is researching the history of the graveyard. This should be relatively straight forward since every body in the cemetery is dead and their lives are closed. Written history, so to speak. But it is made clear to Amelia that she would be better off not asking questions. Now she has ghosts, the creepy Asher family crypt and people keeping big secrets, everything needed for a riveting read.

I love this book even more than The Restorer, the first book in the series. The characters were more mysterious with quite varied backgrounds. Each one of them took this story on many twists and turns that I didn't imagine. The addition of the dog Angus, added a new dimension to the story which I totally enjoyed.

Book 3 is now available, and Amanda is currently working on Book 4, The Visitor, due out some time during 2015.

As I was reading The Kingdom, it made me think of Saints in the Shadows by Alana Cash, which I reviewed previously. While both books had an bit of an other worldly feel, it was not the creepiness that stuck with me. I was drawn to the main characters in both books, there was a warmth to them, the kind of warmth that had me wanting to invite them over for tea. I felt comfortable with them. That is ultimately the best feeling I can get from a work of fiction.

The Restorer (The Graveyard Queen)
The Restorer (The Graveyard Queen)
Price: CDN$ 1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Left me wanting more, Jan. 12 2015
I had no idea that there were people out there who worked to restore graveyards. Not something I had ever considered. I would worry about being alone in some dark, creepy corner and having someone sneak up on me. As it turns out, Amelia Gray has the same feelings, though for different reasons. Since she was young, she has been able to see ghosts. Her adoptive father can also see them and has given her a set of rules to live by.

Never acknowledge a ghost's presence.
Never stray from hallow ground.
Keep your distance from those who are haunted.
Never tempt fate.

While she is working at Oak Grove Cemetery, a body of a young woman is found. Not only does this complicate Amelia's job, but it also brings her into close contact with a Police Detective who is being haunted by his wife and daughter.

I was fascinated by the entire plot of this story. The idea of going into a haunted cemetery scared me, but it was this same creepiness that kept drawing me back into the book. After reading The Restorer, I found out that this genre is known as Modern Gothic.

As the book proceeded, I found myself cheering for both Amelia and Detective Devlin. I am looking forward to reading more of The Graveyard Queen Series and following paths of their lives.

Spirit of Steamboat: A Walt Longmire Story by Johnson, Craig (2013) Hardcover
Spirit of Steamboat: A Walt Longmire Story by Johnson, Craig (2013) Hardcover
by Craig Johnson
Edition: Hardcover
2 used & new from CDN$ 32.90

5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for a one sitting read, Jan. 10 2015
If you're looking for a one sitting read that will keep you captivated from the first page, this is the book.

I picked up this book solely due to my love of the Longmire television series. Hubby and I watch each episode together and cheer Walt on with every investigation. I loved the book, he couldn't get past the first chapter.

This story departs from the normal one where Walt and his detectives have a murder to solve. In this case, it's Christmas eve, a major winter storm is moving in and Walt needs to find a way to get a severely burned child to hospital.

Walt is everything I expected and wanted him to be. There was lots of 'on the edge of the seat' reading. It had me gripping the edge of my seat in fear and the next page had me cheering.

Even with hubby's unfinished reading, I heartily recommend this book.

Be sure to visit Craig Johnson's website to learn more about this series and the people who inspire him. While Craig is not a member of either the Crow or Cheyenne Nations, I am listing this book along with my First Nations Novels. His close relationship with his Indian friends gives him a realistic view of of life on those reservations and their relationship with the residents of the town.

Unfortunately, Longmire is no longer being carried on cable TV, but will continue on NetFlix.

Craig's home town of Buffalo, Wyoming, which stands in for Durant, has hosted Longmire Days in July for the past three summers.

After The Fires Went Out: Coyote (Book One of the Unconventional Post-Apocalyptic Series)
After The Fires Went Out: Coyote (Book One of the Unconventional Post-Apocalyptic Series)
Price: CDN$ 0.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting look at Survivor mentality, Jan. 8 2015
Imagine for a minute, that a comet has struck the earth and the devastation has left a remnant population. What to do? This book focuses on a several groups of survivors in the area of Cochrane in northern Ontario. For the most part, they are people just wanting to provide for their families, but some of them are wanting more. They want the power and control over others.

Baptiste doesn't want this kind of power even though others keep attributing 'hero' status on him. Individuals and families have gathered around him seeking his guidance and protection. Baptiste years to get back to his family in Toronto though knows that is not at all likely.

While we don't learn much about what happened to the world, it doesn't really matter for the telling of the story. What matters in the interactions of the various groups. Some just want to be left alone to survive, such as Baptiste, and others continually want more even if it at the expense of others. And then there are those who will kill anyone who gets in their way. It was interesting to see all these different approaches and relate them back to what I know of the real world. Some approaches were destined for diasaster.

There is also a theme of forgiveness. What actions could you forgive in another. Baptiste is confronted with this question time and again and is pushed to consider it even when he wants to push it away.

This was a good story but I didn't form a connection to any of the characters. Yes, they all experienced losses, but none of them stood out more than the other. Nothing pulled on my heart strings.

Cold Storage, Alaska
Cold Storage, Alaska
by John Straley
Edition: Audio CD
Price: CDN$ 35.79
11 used & new from CDN$ 20.87

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully entertaining, Dec 22 2014
Ce commentaire est de: 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$ 20.97

4.0 out of 5 stars Great characters and a twisting plot, Dec 21 2014
Achat vérifié(Quest-ce que cest?)
Ce commentaire est de: 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.

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