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Reviews Written by
Heather Pearson "Heather" (Ontario Canada)
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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$ 4.99

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
16 used & new from CDN$ 12.40

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
4 used & new from CDN$ 10.00

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.

Quartet [Import]
Quartet [Import]
Offered by Fulfillment Express CA
Price: CDN$ 28.97
26 used & new from CDN$ 3.18

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, April 17 2015
This review is from: Quartet [Import] (DVD)
Absolutely brilliant. My daughter pulled me kicking and sreaming saying I didn't wan to watch a singing movie, but I loved every minute. the story concept of a retirement home for musicians putting on a musical is unique. Terrific cast. Most movies are filled with young people, but these are real actors and musicians who have performed at the tops of their fields. Now they are back and still performing at the top. Wow. Can't say enough good things about this movie. Bravo.

Daylight Runner
Daylight Runner
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Price: CDN$ 9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Belongs in every Classroom library, April 14 2015
This review is from: Daylight Runner (Kindle Edition)
Sol Wheat lives in the futuristic city of Ash Harbor. Possibly one of the last remaining human populations after a world wide ice age has made outdoor survival impossible.
To help him deal with the challenges of being a teenager, Sol has taken to running, and with the encouragement of his father, boxing. When his father disappears, Sol takes it upon himself to find him and to determine whether it has anything to do with the mysterious "accidents" that are plaguing Ash Harbor.
Sol is now forced to grow up quickly and at the same time, to decide what type of man he wants to become. He realizes that he could very easily become a violent, lawless type that his father would never have respected.
While this story occurs in a setting its readers will probably never experience, they may have to face similar moral issues. It's not always easy to decide which is the correct course of action. In Sol's case he is lucky to have a teacher he trusts, Ana Kiroa, and a friend, Cleo to help guide him, and the unlikely mentor, Maslow, to keep him alive long enough so that Sol can find his answers.
Once you get past Sol's tough guy image, you realize that he's a good person and you'll find yourself cheering for him.
I would recommend this book for every teacher's bookshelf. There is a student like Sol in each classroom needing to connect with a caring adult.
I will be passing this book along to a new friend that I met at the Endurrun. He's a runner of course, but also a boxer.

Fluency (Confluence Book 1)
Fluency (Confluence Book 1)
Price: CDN$ 3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good classic sci-fi, April 8 2015
We all know that governments keep secrets, but the American government has been keeping a big one, a city sized one in fact. In the 1960s they discovered a city size alien space ship orbiting far beyond Mars. NASA has finally sent a six person team to investigate.

Linguist, Dr. Jane Holloway, is expected to learn how to communicate with the aliens, or should the ship be deserted, decipher their artifacts. What she does discover, is very different indeed. The voice of an alien, speaks to her in her head, making her question her very sanity.

This is a very enjoyable book that pulled me in from the opening chapter. I liked the unease of Dr. Bergen, an aeronautics engineer, when he first meets Jane to convince her to join the program. It made him seem real and approachable.

The concept of a city size ship to explore is a great setting for the novel. It provides all sorts of opportunities for author Jennifer Foehner Wells to take the story in any number of directions.

The six person crew is interesting. They were all selected as the best people for the venture, but they also have to get along for the lengthy trip. There is a good mix of friendship as well as the expected tensions of people who have no say in working together.

All in all, this is classic science fiction, it comes close to being fantasy, but stays just within the realm of possible. I look forward to reading more by Jennifer Foehner Wells.

Predictably Irrational Revised And Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
Predictably Irrational Revised And Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
by Dan Ariely
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.43
45 used & new from CDN$ 6.28

5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating reading that's easy to follow, April 6 2015
I found this book to be fascinating. Even though this is a scholarly work, it is very readable and easily understood. The finding of Mr. Ariely and his associates are well illustrated by an assortment of simple experiments that were conducted at several well respected Universities.

Before I started reading, I felt that I made quite rational decisions and that I was not unduly swayed by advertising and other outside influences. I now suspect that this might not be true. I was surprised to find how much we are all influenced by our surrounding and those around us.

Whether it affects our decision of how long a magazine subscription to select, whether I need a medication or will a placebo suffice, is a free item really free, or even if we have ordered what we truly desire in a restaurant or did we make our choice so it will be different that everyone else at the table.

I was further surprised to find that even our level of honesty can be influenced by a variety of circumstances.

Mr. Ariely does not leave us without hope. He does assure the reader that he can make rational decisions.

I would highly recommend this book to any who are a student of understanding human nature. Now I am wondering how I can use my new found knowledge to get my children to do what I want them to do without them realizing how much I have influenced their decision.

Killing Floor
Killing Floor
by Lee Child
Edition: MP3 CD
Price: CDN$ 13.99
14 used & new from CDN$ 5.44

4.0 out of 5 stars one of the best read audio books, March 29 2015
This review is from: Killing Floor (MP3 CD)
I loved every minute of this audio book. I listened at each opportunity and frequently found myself walking longer each day so I could listen to an additional chapter or three.

Killing Floor is the first book in the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child. Jack finds himself in Margrave, Georgia enjoying a quiet breakfast washed down with the best cup of coffe when the police show up, guns drawn, and arrest him. He is accused of a brutal murder that took place the previous night. Now it's up to Jack to find the real murderer in order to prove his innocence.

Jack is ex-military. One of those guys that you can count on. At critical plot moments, I found myself yelling out loud and cheering for him. Not a good thing when hyou are reading in public. I can't decide which supporting characters I loved most, the Harvard educated Detective Findley or Sergeant Roscoe, a blossoming love interest to Jack. The two old guys in the barber shop added warmth to a town that needed something real and not the phoney cheerfulness that excessive amounts of money can buy.

This book was read by Dick Hill. He has the most amazing voice. He has been named a "Golden Voice" and "Voice of the Century" by Audiofile magazine. If I didn't know better, I would insist that James Earl Jones spoke the dialogue of Detective Findley. The audio book is from Brilliance Audio, runs 15 hours unabridged.

Tent City
Tent City
Price: CDN$ 3.27

4.0 out of 5 stars a good page turner, March 22 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Tent City (Kindle Edition)
A plague of locusts has destroyed the world's crops leading to devastating food shortages. So many people have died that the very survival of the human race is in doubt. On the eve of the establishment of safety camps for young people, Dani and her little brother Brody, flee their home seeking safety in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

The two can't possibly survive without the help of several other teens. Kit has been Dani's friend for years, while others such as Bentley, Jack and Callie are new friends. Together, they form a cohesive group with many strengths.

I enjoyed reading this story and felt that much of it was quite plausible. Yes, older teens could be sent off on their own to survive, some being more capable than others. Their banding together seemed a natural response to their situation.

The setting of the Black Hills is practically a magical place to me. I know it only from the Beatles song "Rocky Raccoon". It is a vast, under-populated area with lots of hiding places. A great place to hide.

Were the locusts a natural occurrence or a biblical plague. Religion does play a role in this story, though not in a persuasive way, rather as the belief/practise of a segment of the characters. It is yet to be told how much of a role it truly plays in the development of the plot or if it really is just and excuse for men to behave badly.

I look forward to this story continuing in the next book Red River.

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