Double Post – Jan-Philipp Sendker

The Art of Hearing HeartbeatsI’m doing a double post, because frankly,  one book doesn’t go without the other in this instance.  Jan-Philipp Sendker has a sequel of books that came out last January and the other just recently.  The Art of Hearing Heartbeats and A Well Tempered Heart.

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats - A poignant and inspirational love story set in Burma, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats spans the decades between the 1950s and the present.  When a successful New York lawyer suddenly disappears without a trace, neither his wife nor his daughter Julia has any idea where he might be…until they find a love letter he wrote many years ago, to a Burmese woman they have never heard of. Intent on solving the mystery and coming to terms with her father’s past, Julia decides to travel to the village where the woman lived. There she uncovers a tale of unimaginable hardship, resilience, and passion that will reaffirm the reader’s belief in the power of love to move mountains.

A Well Tempered Heart – Almost ten years have passed since Julia Win came back from Burma, her father’s native country. Though she is a successful Manhattan lawyer, her private life is at a crossroads; her boyfriend has recently left her, and she is, despite her wealth, unhappy with her professional life. Julia is lost and exhausted.

One day, in the middle of an important business meeting, she hears a stranger’s voice in her head that causes her to leave the office without explanation. In the following days, her crisis only deepens. Not only does the female voice refuse to disappear, but it starts to ask questions Julia has been trying to avoid. Why do you live alone? To whom do you feel close? What do you want in life?

Interwoven with Julia’s story is that of a Burmese woman named Nu Nu who finds her world turned upside down when Burma goes to war and calls on her two young sons to be child soldiers . This spirited sequel, like The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, explores the most inspiring and passionate terrain: the human heart.

A Well Tempered HeartThese books at first for me at least I didn’t think would appeal to me, since I’ve been finding it hard to read just about nothing in the genre.  But these two books have opened me to getting back to that genre.  Lately, I don’t know if it has or had to do anything about love/romance/or even that genre that has me off them, I haven’t been able to read anything except for thriller/action/suspense genre instead.  Even then it seems that if it doesn’t catch me right off the bat, Im off to find another in those genres that will hold my interest for more then an hour.

These books are like poetry.  A story within a story, where the main characters are entwined.  They have a connection they can both feel, but only one knows it and tells the tale in the first book.  When the story is told and the final part of the story revealed, do you understand how intricate their lives will become to one another.  How love between 2 people can span an entire lifetime.  Something that holds you back from giving everything in a current relationship, you leave to go back to that first one love that completes you, the one that started it all off.  It did hit a few instances for me in my real life, past and present.

The second book, there is something wrong in her life.  Something is talking to her in her mind that she either can’t or won’t let go.  Her job is suffering, her personal life is suffering.  She goes back to Burma to see what it is that is troubling her.  In the end of the book, you know that I don’t give out spoilers is one that will touch your heart.  In my case, it felt that there is a third book that needs to be written to have the storyline go fully and completely.  The pain and anguish of the characters, the situation they are in will transport you to the spot where everything happens, then leave you breathless wanting more.

I really enjoyed reading both books.  Maybe this will fill your heart with more, maybe they will make you want to throw them up against the wall.  I just think you should read them, and ponder the hidden messages that are inside the stories.  Maybe give you some sort or direction in which way you want to go if you are finding yourself in a rut or in a time where you need to make a change in your life – for the better.

Book OneBook TwoAuthor’s WebsiteGoodreadsFacebook

 

REPOST – Inside Out Girl – Tish Cohen

Hi Everyone,

Right now, iTunes have Inside Out Girl as the Book of the Week, I loved it when it read it originally, so read my review and go and get it!  FOR FREE!!

Inside Out Girl is the story of a young girl Olivia, who has a non verbal learning disorder. Len is her father who has been raising her alone since her mother died in a car accident 5 years before.

NLD is when people cannot interpret physical clues, which means Olivia is a bit weird, harassed at school for being weird, and bullied.

Rachel is a single mother of two teenagers a boy and a girl, who continually test her boundaries. Being a publisher of a famous and well known magazine….Which is failing. And has a secret she’s kept to herself for 16 years.

As Rachel and Len meet, and beginning to date, the hi jinks of the children, not to mention Olivia getting lost in a mall, is a very heart wrenching, a real book. I just picked this book up from the library this afternoon, and just finished half an hour ago. I was literally engrossed entertained and sad at how the story develops, but yet there is a happy ending in the end.

I would absolutely love to see how in the end how things work out with the blended family. There are many important issues that need to be addressed when they happen or on the verge of happening in today’s hustle and bustle society. And being different doesn’t mean that you are a freak, or not worthy of friends. It just mean you are different and the need to be accepted as you are, instead of being judged as to what you are not.


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THE STOP – How the Fight For Good Food Transformed A Community and Inspired a Movement – Nick Saul and Andrea Curtis – BLOG TOUR

The StopIt began as a food bank. It turned into a movement.

In 1998, when Nick Saul became executive director of The Stop, the little urban food bank was like thousands of other cramped, dreary, makeshift spaces, a last-hope refuge where desperate people could stave off hunger for one more day with a hamper full of canned salt, sugar and fat. The produce was wilted, and the packaged foods were food-industry castoffs—mislabelled products and misguided experiments that no one wanted to buy. For users of the food bank, knowing that this was their best bet for a meal was a humiliating experience.

Since that time, The Stop has undergone a radical reinvention. Participation has overcome embarrassment, and the isolation of poverty has been replaced with a vibrant community that uses food to build hope and skills, and to reach out to those who need a meal, a hand and a voice. It is now a thriving, internationally respected Community Food Centre with gardens, kitchens, a greenhouse, farmers’ markets and a mission to revolutionize our food system. Celebrities and benefactors have embraced the vision because they have never seen anything like The Stop. Best of all, fourteen years after his journey started, Nick Saul is introducing this neighbourhood success story to the world.

 In telling the remarkable story of The Stop’s transformation, Saul and Curtis argue that we need a new politics of food, one in which everyone has a dignified, healthy place at the table. By turns funny, sad and raw, The Stop is a timely story about overcoming obstacles, challenging sacred cows and creating lasting change. - Publishers Website When I was asked to be a part of this blog tour, I had a few reasons for doing so – 1.  To see if a community can get together whether it be a low income or even your average middle class neighbourhood and actually make something of it.  2.  To see what I could do in my own community to help or encourage it to become one that it is proud of.  3.  To see if anyone in any community could work at it and become the best it could be.  I was not only inspired, I am in awe.

It is a personal story first, it drew me in as a lowly food bank in one of the low income neighbourhoods in Toronto was struggling.  The work was and is hard, that is one thing that won’t go away.  They needed committed community volunteers, a desire, the need was apparent, and the drive to achieve their dreams.  Did it work?  Of course it did, it is still working since Nick Saul become Executive Director of  The Stop in 1998 – 15 years he poured into a place where even the residents had given up, to make the immigrant community vibrant and flourishing once again.  They took back their neighbourhood, sure it had taken time, effort and probably much more then they dreamed possible.  I am sure that some wanted to give up, but in the end and as of today, it is a thriving part of the community – bringing people together, one person, one ethnicity at a time.  To share in learning something new, making new friends, coming together – even the children, the babies, the elderly, and the not yet born to enjoy a good meal.  Not something that came from a can – REAL FOOD when so many of the people who come to a food bank if you want to call it that to get something that they need in their time of hunger, loneliness, and gave the people to look forward to something, anything to be a part of something huge.

The real issue here is that sure, people nowadays are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet.  It just isn’t people who have low incomes, it is everyone.  I had a conversation the other week in the grocery store with a woman, about how the produce was so much smaller, but it is either the same price or even more then it was a year ago.   The sizes of just about everything in the grocery store are becoming smaller, yet the prices stay the same.  We all deserve to have good food, we live in one of the most bountiful countries in the world.  Even here in the Niagara Region where I live, there are still roadside stands where you can buy fresh fruit and vegetables by just pulling over and dropping money into a jar and taking what you like.  I think that had to be the most favorite parts of living in the area.  Of course, you could also talk to your neighbours while doing so.  Catch up on what was or is going on with them, their families, the community.  I live in the best part of Canada – We produce just about everything from fruits and vegetables to VQA award winning wines.  What isn’t to love about this region?!?

The thing is that in the city where I live, the population is about 55,000, and there is 4-6 food banks where on a given day depending on which one you were at the week before, you can access all of them as far as I understand.  One week you could go to the Salvation Army, the next The Hope Centre which is just down the same street.  Get your fill of canned salt, fat, and carbohydrates and not much else.  We have a good food box program of course, for a family of 2 for $15 or a larger family $20 you receive from what I have heard a really nice array of fruits and vegetables either grown in the region during the growing season, or around the other areas of Southern Ontario.  Most are on social services here or disability, where I’m guessing some people don’t spend it as they should, and need to access these food banks either once in a while or frequently as the mood suits.  I was actually in one a few weeks ago, accessing other services, and I have to say it’s pretty depressing.  The clients were treated with respect, but what I got out of it was that they almost expected it to feed them for the entire month. – It doesn’t.  It doesn’t even come close.

We need to change, we need to gather everyone together, to make a better plan for everyone.  Not just Nick and Andrea who did this in Toronto – EVERYONE IN OUR COMMUNITIES rich or poor, healthy or sick need to come together and work at making it better for everyone.  Making it a community that everyone is proud to be a part of, to have healthy, non-processed, food that everyone can enjoy.  There are community gardens here, but on the other side of town.  What good does that do for the other side?  Nothing if you wanted to travel to garden.  We need to come together and make a plan, a solid plan to make sure our communities most vulnerable aren’t lacking.

I urge everyone to go and get this book.  Not just because you have to, but because you want to make change in your own communities.  The stats in the book are just scary for a country like ours that has our resources.  The “Food Bank” phenomenon was actually started in the USA, now they are starting them in Europe to see if it can work there.  We need to stop these, and have our communities together on a solution and not a stop-gap effort.  We should have started it decades ago, but I guess this is as good a time as any.  Read every morsel that this book has to give and start making dialogue in your own community – and if the nay sayers put up a fuss then work harder.  Get stubborn, get active and make your city or town better not worse.

People whether they are rich or poor have just as much worth.  We all have gifts that we can give to our community.  Lets get involved and make something of our gifts. If this neighbourhood in Toronto can do it, so can anyone else!  What will it take ?!?

Community Food Centers Canada - Twitter - The Learning NetworkFacebook

 

The Stop Blog Tour

A Murder of Crows – David Rotenberg – Blog Tour

murder of crowsDecker Roberts is back, and he always knows when you’re telling the truth.

David Rotenberg first introduced Decker Roberts and his unique gifts in the critically acclaimed thriller The Placebo Effect. Since Decker’s last run-in with the NSA, he’s been trying to remain off the radar, searching for his estranged son, Seth. Decker’s synaesthetic abilities, once a lucrative gift, are increasingly becoming a liability.

When a vicious attack wipes out the best and brightest of America’s young minds, devastating the country’s future, Decker is forced to step out of the shadows and help track down the killer. And as the hunt brings him in contact with other people of “his kind,” Decker begins to realize that there may be depths to his gifts that he had never even imagined.

Meanwhile, several parties are secretly tracking the progress of Decker’s son, trying to determine if Seth has the same powerful gift as his father. Decker is determined to go to any lengths to find his son, but along the way he will have to face down enemies, both old and new, as well as struggle with whether Seth even wants to be found.

David Rotenberg’s thrilling sequel to The Placebo Effect is full of suspense and will challenge what you think you know about people who have special “gifts.” From rural Africa to downtown Toronto, the paths of Rotenberg’s colourful characters intertwine as they move toward a conclusion that none of them can see coming. – Publisher’s Website

Decker is one frantic father.  When looking for his son, he’s in the middle of something else horrific that happens.  Can he get out of it, no.  In this second installment, Decker meets some other “special” people who have some of the same gifts he has, finds more about who and what his gifts entail.

I dove into this book as soon as I received it.  I wanted to know more about Decker, his friends – if they wanted to harm him or help him.  Right now, that is still up for debate, but in this second installment of the Junction Chronicles, I’m as deeply into it as I ever was before.  I for one want a happy ending, but with things going as they are, I am not sure.  The book ends at that pivotal point in the book where you all will go nooooooooo!! and wanting to know what happens.

We will have to wait until book three, probably next year to finally find out what exactly does happen with Decker, his son, and everyone else in the cast of characters of this nail-biting thriller/mystery.  I can’t wait!  Maybe I can bribe the publisher or the author for a peek…we shall see ha!

David’s WebsiteGoodreads - David’s Acting Website - Reading Group Guide - Placebo Effect Review - Q and A with David

 

The Poisoned Pawn – Peggy Blair – BLOG TOUR

blair_poisonedpawn_pbWhen Cuban Inspector Ricardo Ramirez is dispatched to Canada and told to bring home a priest found in possession of child pornography depicting Cuban children, he knows his job will be hard enough. But it gets worse once he’s in Ottawa, and women in Havana start dropping dead from a mysterious toxin. Worried about his family, powerless to help pathologist Hector Apiro, and faced with the threat of a Canadian travel advisory that could shut down Cuban tourism, Ramirez tries focus on his mission. As he does, he untangles a web of deceit and depravity that extends all the way from the corridors of power in Ottawa to those of the Vatican, and uncovers a cold-blooded killer.

The Poisoned Pawn is the gripping, fast-paced sequel to the award-winning, critically acclaimed mystery The Beggar’s Opera. Evoking the crumbling beauty of Old Havana and featuring Inspector Ramirez, a man haunted by the victims of his unsolved cases, it’s perfect for fans of Donna Leon and Martin Cruz Smith who love exotic settings and unforgettable characters.  - Publisher’s Website

I really have to say, Peggy is getting better and better with her 2nd book in the Inspector Ramirez series.  She has penned a book that has everything tucked away in a concise and entertaining series.  Even though this book is set mostly in Canada, Inspector Ramirez’s mind is as clear as ever, even with the sub-zero temperatures.  He has more things up his sleeve during this investigation that I would have thought of, but he does it with class and grace.

Do not underestimate him!  I want the next book to come out already! My earlier review of Peggy’s first book is located here, so go and take a look.  Also, the Begger’s Opera is now available in the U.S., so if you live there, go and get yourself a copy and get ready to immerse yourself in Cuban Culture, and Mystery Writing at it’s finest.

Much Thanks to Peggy and Penguin Canada for allowing me to take part in the blog tour again.  Always looking forward to great new emerging Canadian Talent! I’m so happy to be able to bring this to you along with many, many more that I have loved.  So, go and get both books in the series if you haven’t read them, and the first in the U.S. and are new to Peggy’s work.  I can attest that you will not be disappointed in the least !

If you are looking for other view points on this book and her first, the blog tour isn’t finished yet.  You can go to these blogs and see what they had to say about Peggy’s newest work.

Feb 25 -  The Literary Word
Feb 26 -  Curled Up with a Good Book and a Cup of Tea
Feb 28 -  Just a Lil Lost
March 4 -  A Bookworm’s World
March 5 -  Serendipitous Readings  – That’s Here !
March 6 –  Literary Treats
March 7 - Thrifty Momma ’s Brainfood 

ExcerptPeggy on Twitter – Peggy’s Website - Goodreads - FacebookPeggy’s Blog - My review of The Beggar’s OperaQ&A w. Peggy

KOBO, KOBO, KOBO ….You are really discouraging a lot of people….including me!!!

Dobby banging head against the wall

 

It is a few days shy of a year that I had problems with Kobo.  I have to say, since posting my angst and finally getting results from raging on twitter, the same problems are still happening.  I have in my most angry and frustrated state have gone off on the one person that I have contact with and a few other people.  The reason is because the same things keep happening over and over!

I am still receiving replies to the original post I posted a year ago.  I have had 1,628 hits and counting on that article alone.  I think and I am assuming that most are just so frustrated and angry that they don’t even want to attempt to post.  They like me see the same issues over and over and  figure that it isn’t worth replying to a post.  Because they have gone through everything on the kobo site to get their issue resolved, and they are still waiting…..

When I had my issue, I had called them at least half a dozen times and they escalated it to their infamous Tier II customer service, which in my opinion doesn’t exist.  You are kept waiting for an indefinite period until you either give up or just forget them all together.  I believe in my heart that the only reason why I received such quick service is because I posted about my experiences, and tweeted on twitter about it to anyone who would listen.  It was only then that I was contacted by a person who works in their VIP Customer Service Team.  He is a smooth talker I tell you, he gave me a $50 credit on their website, and refunded the double payment and some NSF fees that I had incurred because of their screw up.  I ended up getting so frustrated, I gave the credit away to someone, I didn’t want to have anything more to do with them.  I have since de-activated my account and removed their app from my smartphone.

By the end of it all, it was settled, and I was happy.  But then other blogging people I know had voiced their frustration at the  issues they were having, so I decided to help them.  I also heard of others having the same and different issues with either their devices, downloading problems, paying for and not receiving the book they ordered, or paid and only receiving the book preview not the whole book.  I have even done so much for you dear reader that I have forwarded your email information to kobo, so that your issue could be dealt with in a timely manner. At least I hope it was.

I do so because I am a caring person.  I do it out of the goodness of my heart.  What I don’t appreciate is when the same issues keep happening and was promised by phone and email that the issues are going to be taken care of  but, yet, they keep happening – over, and over and OVER again.  Now you can see why I posted Dobby (sorry Dobby), I am so frustrated that things keep happening, not new ones but the same ones I hear about.  It’s not only here, but on twitter as well.

I have to confess, I actually went back to buy an eBook a few months ago, and they changed their site around so that instead of clicking one button to bring you to the payment screen, now you have to click two.  I contacted my person and explained the issue, he had someone else help me, and that person didn’t even help.  They gave me completely useless information!  They did however, forget to mention that they had changed their payment procedure.  Did they tell anyone….NOPE!!

Another instance that they had not informed anyone of a change on their website a few months after that when was a friend of mine noticed that if you have a credit card on file, they will automatically charge it, instead of giving you the choice of payment options, unless you change that or delete your credit card entirely from their site.  After she had spent countless times on the phone and frustrating her to no end.

I will keep forwarding your email information and comment details to them, because it has been like I mentioned before a year minus a few days that this keeps happening.

Will I buy from them ever again….NOPE!!  Will you?!?  I won’t assume, but probably not.

This whole issue comes down to customer service.  There are plenty more eReaders out in the market now, From Sony, Kindle,  Nook and some other not so well-known companies vying for your business.  And there are plenty of places you can buy eBooks from, so your options haven’t waned in that department.  Maybe just better customer service.

When I was younger, my father always used to tell me that Customer Service is #1.  I truly believe that.  I have found more and more in the last few years that most companies don’t care because there are probably 10 more people behind you wanting something.  They would rather lose you and gain 5 more customers.  I guess that is the name of the game, in my opinion, I would rather take care of you the way I would like to be treated and keep you and the other 5 behind me waiting as customers.  Seems to me that sounds like a far better way to go instead of only gaining 5 instead of 6.

Kobo, knows all about my issues, I have yelled and screamed, been nice and cordial with them, even then it doesn’t work.  What ever happened to quality,  a job well done, or doing things the right way once instead of having to do it again over and over until you get it right.  I digress, yes, everyone is human, and we do make mistakes.

But, enough is enough ! 

Kobo Help  / Customer ServiceEmail - Phone / Kobo Twitter Feed

Now, if you don’t get anywhere with those links, please leave a comment on this post, or the previous one I have posted and I will help  in any way that I can.  After I send them the email, it is entirely out of my hands, so please, don’t shoot the messenger !

My Kobo statistics for the last year - actual as of today’s date*

The Mystery of Mercy Close – Marian Keyes

marian keyesI employ this thing called The Shovel List.’
‘A shovel . . . ?’
‘No. A Shovel List. It’s more of a conceptual thing. It’s a list of all the people and things I hate so much that I want to hit them in the face with a shovel.’

Meet Helen – youngest of the Walsh sisters and a law unto herself. She’s easily bored, has an inability to filter her thoughts and was fired from every job she ever had before she found her true calling as a private investigator. But times are tough for PIs and Helen’s had no choice but to take on the search for AWOL boyband has-been Wayne Diffney – The Wacky One.

It’s not all bad this game of Where’s Wayne. It may have brought her charming crook of an ex Jay Parker back into her life, but it’s giving her an excuse to avoid the usual Walsh family dramas and the intense looks from her gorgeous boyfriend Artie that make her heart beat wildly with lust and panic in equal measure. But most of all it’s an excellent distraction from the huge swarm of black vultures gathering over her head. If she hides out in her target’s empty house on Mercy Close for long enough maybe they’ll go away . . .

But as Helen begins to unravel the mysteries secreted on Mercy Close she discovers a kindred spirit in a man unwilling to be found. Could someone be telling her to look a little closer to home . . . ? – Publishers Website

I’m divided on this particular book, for a few reasons.  The earlier books(s) I have read by Marian have been really fun reads.  This one I wasn’t so keen on.  I didn’t enjoy Helen’s demeanor, it was too hyper, too much double guessing herself.  In other terms too fidigety.  She second guesses everything or just about everything she does as a private investigator – what she has done for years.  The background on the book is well thought out, it’s just her main character or that could be the reason she is the way she is because of the plot lines in the book, but this wasn’t a great book for me.  I have thought about it probably more than I needed to and waited as long as I could without giving a scathing review about something that didn’t mesh with what I remember from her other novels, I just didn’t like this one as much as the earlier books I have read by Marian.

I do have to say though, she has a rocking twitter account!  I noticed that she has locked herself out more than once because of her tweeting….too much, too fast LOL

Marian’s WebsiteFacebookTwitterGoodreads

 

Wylde on Health – Bryce Wylde

wylde on healthThe value of living healthily is indisputable, but what exactly can we do in our daily lives to be our healthiest self?  In his new book, Bryce Wylde sets out to answer that question. He sorts out the confusing terminology used to describe natural medicine and leads us through a process of discovery about our own real state of health by showing how state-of-the-art self-testing now permits us to properly assess where we’re vulnerable and where we’re not.

Whether you are worried about a vitamin deficiency or wonder if you’re lacking the “feel good” brain hormone serotonin — or even if you just want to ensure you’re not wasting your money on supplements — you’ll learn what simple steps to take to test yourself. Wylde surveys and individually rates an array of present-day natural remedies from a no-nonsense, evidence-based perspective.

He takes us on a guided tour of today’s hottest health trends, highlighting what is good and steering us away from what is dubious (or outright snake oil). Underlying Wylde’s ratings is the very latest research — and he makes it clear that in the face of the astronomical rise in disease and the ubiquity of nutrient-devoid foods, we have no choice but to supplement our diets with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants if we want to live to our fullest potential.

Finally, Wylde on Health explores how we will increasingly use the strategic supplementation he recommends to redress genetic predispositions — the future of preventative health care. – Publishers Website

This book should be in every person’s home – no matter if you are a traditional type person, who, is one of those by the book type people and trust your medical doctor’s advice, and, for those who are looking for something more – to compliment what advice you receive from your doctor – To receive a complete picture so to speak.

I would recommend that you talk with your caregiver with this book.  Some things may not be recommended for whatever reason, because some of these options could have interactions with any sort of traditional medical treatments.  But, as long as you have your caregiver in the know with what you are doing, I don’t see a problem.  I intend to incorporate some of the tips and recommendations, as well as doing some extra things that I am already doing, with my caregiver.

The only thing I didn’t like about the book is all the QR codes.  Not that I don’t think that anyone would not use them, some may not have access to a smart phone with a scanner to be able to use or use the codes to be effective.  I will be posting links below for you to use on your regular computer.  It is impeccably researched, and detailed throughout the book. I like that about these type of books, you can never have too much information which in my opinion is great.

Other than that, it is a fabulous book, filled with some amazing insight and information, once again to talk to your caregiver about.  I cannot stress this enough.  I have been in traditional healthcare, and know of medication reactions and alternative remedies, so please make sure the natural health choices won’t interfere with your current traditional medicine plan.  I know I will be referring to this book for many years to come, unless there is a newer version, then I will refer to that.

Bryce’s WebsiteFacebookTwitterGoodreads

Up and Down – Terry Fallis

Up and DownThe author of the Stephen Leacock Medal-winning The Best Laid Plans brings his trademark humour and sharp storytelling to a new novel set in the high-stakes world of a global public relations agency.

On his first day at Turner King, David Stewart quickly realizes that the world of international PR (affectionately, perhaps ironically, known as “the dark side”) is a far cry from his previous job on Parliament Hill. For one, he missed the office memo on the all-black dress code; for another, there are enough acronyms and jargon to make his head spin. Before he even has time to find the washroom, David is assigned a major project: devise a campaign to revitalize North America’s interest in the space program – maybe even show NASA’s pollsters that watching a shuttle launch is more appealing than going out for lunch with friends.

The pressure is on, and before long, David finds himself suggesting the most out-of-this-world idea imaginable: a Citizen Astronaut lottery that would send one Canadian and one American to the International Space Station. Suddenly, David’s vaulted into an odyssey of his own, navigating the corporate politics of a big PR agency; wading through the murky but always hilarious waters of Canada-U.S. relations; and trying to hold on to his new job while still doing the right thing.

Equal parts clever and satirical, thoughtful and affecting, Up and Down is Terry Fallis at his best, confirming his status as a Canadian literary star. – Publishers Website

I have to say, Terry has hit his stride right out of the gate and produced his best book yet in my opinion!  I had a very hard time putting this book down, and when I did my darling cat Georgie kept it company in my wake.  Laugh out loud funny, entertaining, hard-hitting, and poignant all in the same swoop, not to mention some sneeky, sneeky stuff done by the US head of the advertising agency.  It is my favorite of all three books Terry has produced yet.  Modern Day takes on the Space Shuttle in a reality show, how can you top that ?!?  Just wait, someone in Hollywood will get a hold of this and make a movie about it.  Loved it ! Yes, that is a dare for all of those Hollywood Types out there !! ;-)

DK Canada’s Start Something NEW !! – Classic Knits – More than 100 Beautiful Projects

Classic KnitsAn all-in-one guide to knitting for just about anything and everything knitters want to make, Classic Knits covers equipment, techniques, stitch patterns, and includes more than twenty designs for cute things to craft and warm things to wear.

Whether it’s a new earflap hat or bright, cozy socks, Classic Knits will be the knitting “recipe book” crafters keep on their shelves for years to come. – Publishers Website

Whether you are a new to knitting person, or one that has been around a few balls of wool, you will absolutely love this book! From the more than 100 projects from something small as a pillow, or a toy for your little wee ones, this book really does have it all.

It also includes techniques for those of you that aren’t up to date on those stitches that give you those absolutely fabulous garments that you see people wearing or showcasing in their homes that you swear were designer.

Whether you like to knit your own unique clothing or home accessories, learning a new design, stitch, or upping your game to get those ooh’s and ahhh’s Classic Knitting is for you.

I know for a fact that I will probably have this book until the day I die, and then it will be handed down to my daughters.  I can see the fighting now !! Have a sneak peek below.

 

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Right now the Start Something New Boutique is all on sale, so go and check out so many more books that will have you mastering something in no time! Just click on the image below and start dreaming !

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The Painted Girls – Cathy Marie Buchanan

painted girls cover cdnParis, 1878. Following their father’s sudden death, the Van Goethem sisters find their lives upended. Without his wages, and with the small amount their laundress mother earns disappearing into the absinthe bottle, eviction from their lodgings seems imminent. With few options for work, Marie is dispatched to the Paris Opera, where for a scant seventeen francs a week, she will be trained to enter the famous Ballet. Her older sister, Antoinette, finds work as an extra in a stage adaptation of Émile Zola’s naturalist masterpiece L’Assommoir. Marie throws herself into dance and is soon modelling in the studio of Edgar Degas, where her image will forever be immortalized as Little Dancer Aged 14. Meanwhile, Antoinette, derailed by her love for the dangerous Émile Abadie, must choose between honest labour and the more profitable avenues open to a young woman of the Parisian demimonde. Set at a moment of profound artistic, cultural and societal change, The Painted Girls is a tale of two remarkable sisters rendered uniquely vulnerable to the darker impulses of “civilized society.” In the end, each will come to realize that her salvation—her survival, even—lies with the other. – Publishers Website

LOVE, LOVE LOVE !!! I guess I can’t just say that, now can I?  Cathy has taken a subject she has just come across and developed a seductive, evocative historical fiction masterpiece in her newest book!!  Even if you haven’t taken ballet as a girl like I Cathy and myself have, you are still drawn into the gruelling training, the blood and sweat that is left in the practice rooms or on the stage during performances.  The attention to detail is impeccable, the emotions stirring your own as you flip or in my case devoured page by page, then realizing that you have read it in one sitting thinking what in the world just happened.  Yes, I have gushed about her earlier book The Day The Falls Stood Still, BUT! (yep, there’s that one again) You will absolutely love this one in a whole new way.  Grab that glass of absinthe, get comfy in your favorite reading place, and prepare to become enraptured in the trials and tribulations of the Van Goethem sisters as they traipse, dance and leap across the Paris Theatre Stage .  As they walk through their poor existence as best they can.  One thing I can’t help thinking about…what has happened to them in the next 20 years of their lives…Cathy does give you a small glimpse into the future at the end of the book, but do they fade into the background at the same speed they came to the foreground?  Is there something else in the background waiting in the wings? Only I can speculate or dream as they did.

This book for sure will have the Giller Judges enthralled if it is nominated this year for Canada’s Literary Prize for sure! Please Giller Gods, Make it Be !!

If you are on the USA side of the Border, it is published by Riverhead Books.  And if it is any sign of the publicity that it is receiving on both sides of the border, it will be a massive best-seller for sure !!

Reading GuideFacebook - Twitter - Cathy’s Website - Browse Inside The Painted Girls - Q and A with Cathy

 

Guest Author Post – Cathy Marie Buchanan – The Painted Girls: Two Stories Intertwined

Please welcome Cathy to the blog once again for her second historical fiction book – The Painted Girls which is available both in the USA and Canada right now!  I can tell you if you haven’t read her first book which I fell in love with at the first few sentences, you should.  Cathy is one of those rare talents where writing gets better and better like a fine aged wine…that’s if you drink wine! Here is a guest post she has done for me, enjoy!

 

When Edgar Degas unveiled Little Dancer Aged Fourteen in 1881, he showed the sculpture alongside his portrait of two teenage boys on trial in the criminal court.  The Painted Girls tells the story of the young dancer who modeled for the sculpture and also that of the Emile Abadie and Michel Knobloch, the boys Degas drew in the prisoners’ box.

Art historians contend more than a shared exhibition links the artworks.  They suggest in each Degas sought to imply the depravity of his subjects. What, I wondered, lay laid beneath such a claim?

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Marie van Goethem, I would learn, modeled for Little Dancer.  She was from a poverty-stricken family and was trained to enter the famous Paris Opéra Ballet. It was the dream of many a poor Parisian girl. The ballet offered a chance to find fame and fortune if she had talent and ambition, if she was able to attract the attentions of an admirer with clout enough to advance her career.  Such liaisons were commonplace, and unfair though it was, blame fell squarely on the shoulders of the ballet girls.  It was not surprising, then, that when the sculpture was unveiled, the public at once connected Little Dancer with a life of corruption and young girls for sale.  Her face, they said, was “imprinted with the detestable promise of every vice.”  Degas, it would seem, was successful in suggesting the child’s depravity.

Such an intention was easy enough to swallow when it came to the portrait of Abadie and Knobloch.  “Scientific” findings of the day supported notions of innate criminality and particular facial features—low forehead, forward-thrusting jaw—that marked a person as having a tendency toward crime.  Those features are incorporated into the portrait (and the sculpture, too).  Even more telling, Degas titled the portrait “Criminal Physiognomies.”

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What fascinated me most of all, though, as I researched the stories of Marie and the boys was the possibility the link between the artworks went beyond the shared exhibition and the suggestion of criminality.  All three youths had inhabited the same underbelly of Paris, and I could not stop myself from imagining their paths had crossed, the ways in which such a meeting might have altered destinies.  Yes, I wanted to tell both stories, but I wanted to intertwine their lives, too.  And so on the pages of The Painted Girls, there is a fateful day when Marie’s older sister meets Abadie behind the Paris Opéra.

It certainly does make you think about this, doesn’t it?

Thank you so much Cathy for this, and stay tuned for my review of The Painted Girls.

The Headmaster’s Wager – Vincent Lam

From Giller Prize winner, internationally acclaimed, and bestselling author Vincent Lam comes a superbly crafted, highly suspenseful, and deeply affecting novel set against the turmoil of the Vietnam War.

Percival Chen is the headmaster of the most respected English school in Saigon. He is also a bon vivant, a compulsive gambler and an incorrigible womanizer. He is well accustomed to bribing a forever-changing list of government officials in order to maintain the elite status of the Chen Academy. He is fiercely proud of his Chinese heritage, and quick to spot the business opportunities rife in a divided country.

He devotedly ignores all news of the fighting that swirls around him, choosing instead to read the faces of his opponents at high-stakes mahjong tables. But when his only son gets in trouble with the Vietnamese authorities, Percival faces the limits of his connections and wealth and is forced to send him away. In the loneliness that follows, Percival finds solace in Jacqueline, a beautiful woman of mixed French and Vietnamese heritage, and Laing Jai, a son born to them on the eve of the Tet offensive.

Percival’s new-found happiness is precarious, and as the complexities of war encroach further and further into his world, he must confront the tragedy of all he has refused to see. Blessed with intriguingly flawed characters moving through a richly drawn historical and physical landscape, The Headmaster’s Wageris a riveting story of love, betrayal and sacrifice. – Publishers Website

I really liked this book ! Percival isn’t only a man who has a business, he also bribes officials and almost always has a solution to everything…Until his son causes trouble and he has to send him away to China so he doesn’t end up in prison.  His son is everything to him, he will do anything for him and his school.  When the loneliness from missing his son becomes too severe, he takes up with a young woman when gambling at one of the houses he goes to .  Later on, she becomes pregnant, and the desire to leave the country in war as well as all of the chaos is even more urgent.

Percival was an interesting man – his past marriage to his son’s mother, the bribes and people he is connected to,  especially his right hand man Mak gives him the solutions he needs until he misses his son so much that it is nearly impossible to have him return to Vietnam from China.  What won’t he do to survive? Who will he bribe next? Will he become bankrupt before he can leave the country, or worse dead?

I really loved Vincent’s narrative.  Although Percival is a man of many things, the one of the many things he loves are his son and his mistresses son, whom he was told it was his son, well, you will just have to read the book to find out. I don’t like giving spoilers !  There are times where it is all fun and games, periods of tumultuous fighting with his own family, and closest friends, but also within himself.  He wages a constant battle of doing right from wrong, and weighing them against the better good.  Does he do these things to get ahead? Of course.  Would he do anything to save his son who was exiled, absolutely.  Is it all about him, most of the time.  Does he have remorse? Of course he does.  And, I’m sure he would change things differently if he could go back in time.  That’s the thing with life, you can’t go back and change anything.  Did he learn from his lessons, yes.  Did he change? I’ll let you decide.

There were obviously good times had in the book as well, all combined into this novel it is about sacrifice, love, war, and greed.  I am sure that Vincent will be back soon with another novel of even more importance even if it is fiction.  He won the Giller Prize in 2006 for Blood-Letting and Miraculous Cures.  He was nominated for the Giller yet again this year, but only made it on the long list.  He was also nominated for the Governor Generals Awards.

Vincent’s Website - Twitter - Facebook  - Browse Inside

What did YOU read Today ?!?

 

FOR RELEASE November 15, 2012

SERENDIPITOUS READINGS  SUPPORTS THE ‘WHAT DID YOU READ TODAY?’ CAMPAIGN

 

Serendipitious Readings urges you to join us in supporting the National Reading Campaign and its ‘What did you read today?’ campaign. Be a part of this important initiative that has the potential to affect every aspect of Canadian society!

The National Reading Campaign, an unprecedented coalition of librarians, educators, booksellers, publishers, readers and writers, is launching its campaign to bring the joy of reading to Canadians.

“What did you read today?” is a public awareness campaign created to help make reading a national priority. Over the months to come, we’ll be asking that question to Canadians in advertising, through promotions and events, and especially via a dynamic website, where readers can drop in to talk, share and build our reading society.

On Wednesday, November 14th we’re launching “What did you read today?” with a pair of fun contests: one for the general public and one for kids. Both contests run until December 31, 2012 and are open to Canadian residents only.

Why is reading so important?
To be literate is necessary, but it is not enough. Reading is a source of pleasure at every stage of life, an imagination-building, personally fulfilling activity that enriches our lives and allows us to communicate, to understand each other, and to engage with our society. Reading is at the very heart of responsible citizenship as informed, reading helps active citizens think critically, participate actively in their communities and in their nation, and thrive throughout their lives.

Reading allows us to do better in all aspects of life: academically, professionally, and emotionally. It’s the foundation of future learning, encouraging the critical thinking skills of every individual.

However, new technologies and media choices, lifestyle changes, unprecedented competition for our leisure time and much more have changed Canadians’ reading habits, and not necessarily for the better.  Most disturbing of all, less children are reporting that they enjoy reading.  Curiosity, imagination, and all the other vital things that reading sparks—and our future needs—are at risk.

Reading grows Canada. But we have to grow reading.

  What is the National Reading Campaign?

Since 2008, the National Reading Campaign has brought together people from every region of Canada who are concerned about Canada’s changing reading habits. We represent school and public librarians, parents, readers, educators, writers, students, book and magazine publishers, booksellers, reading promoters, and everyone involved in reading in Canada. Through summits, the development of a National Reading Plan, a public awareness campaign and many other efforts, we aim to make reading a national priority, because when Canada reads, Canada grows.

Our ultimate goal is to promote reading amongst all Canadians, reflecting the value of reading as a tool for democracy and civic engagement, as a means to equalize the playing field for all Canadians, as a way for Canadians to learn about themselves, and as a vehicle for joy. In 2012, The National Reading Campaign was incorporated as a not-for profit organization.

Visit www.nationalreadingcampaign.ca to learn more.

About the contest for the general public

To enter the contest, we’re asking Canadians to tweet what they’re reading to @readingcampaign with #whatdidyoureadtoday? for a chance to win one of ten Kobo™ eReaders pre-loaded with a selection of great eBooks!

Entrants can share a title, author or even the type of reading material that they’re reading, like a magazine or graphic novel, because all reading matters.

As an added bonus, Kobo will donate $1 to the National Reading Campaign for every contest entry tweet that we receive up to $10,000 to help grow reading in Canada.

 About the contest for kids

Public libraries and schools can win $1000 in new books for their library! We’ve designed a simple “What did you read today?” contest kit that allows public librarians and teachers to create a vibrant wall or space where readers can post what they’re reading, promoting discussion about reading in its many forms.

ABOUT YOUR ORGANIZATION:  Serendipitous Readings has been online supporting reading and all things literary since 2008.  As a Canadian and a voracious reader, I have been in the reading scene even before it was hip and cool.

 

For more information, please contact – The National Reading Campgain – websiteTwitter – with hashtag #WhatDidYouReadToday – FacebookPinterest

 ~* Contest ends on DECEMBER 31, 2012, so get your entries in !!  *~

Touch – Alexi Zentner

NOMINEE 2011 – Scotiabank Giller Prize

Touch begins with Stephen, an Anglican priest, returning from Vancouver to the northern BC town of Sawgamet where he grew up, just in time for his mother’s death. Sawgamet was founded by Stephen’s grandfather Jeannot, when he heard a voice in the woods calling his name and his dog, Flaireur, refused to take another step. Back then, as Stephen remembers it from the stories passed down to him, men were giants, or even gods, striving to tame the land. The world of Sawgamet was enchanted, alive with qallupilluit and ijirait, sea-witches and shape-shifters; Jeannot saw caribou covered with gold dust and found gold nuggets the size of boulders. Sometimes winter refused to end, and blizzards buried the whole town in snow for months at a time. Sawgamet was a place where Jeannot had to kill a man twice and then carry the bones around with him, bound in cloth, to make sure he stayed dead.

Years later, with his mother on her deathbed, Stephen tries to piece together the past from myths and stories and memories that he’s not sure he can trust. And not everything is magical: if life in Jeannot’s Sawgamet was richer and brighter than it seems for Stephen now, it was also harder and more brutal, with both fire and ice claiming too many lives before their time. Jeannot never knew his son, Pierre, Stephen’s father, who was himself maimed in a logging accident; Stephen’s childhood was marked by tragic loss, and a lasting pain he must now confront as he considers how to pass Jeannot’s stories on to his own daughters.

A chronicle of the birth of a town and the passing of a way of being in the world, Touch is unique, compelling and full of marvels. But this book captures the most personal moments in life as well as the most dramatic ones – Alexi Zentner conveys three generations of a family’s intimate emotional experience in language that pierces the heart. This beautiful and moving novel is a great story told by a natural storyteller, and to read Touch is to enter an enthralling world that you’ll never want to leave. - Publishers Website

Believe the book’s description.  Touch is one of those books where the writing is fantastic, the story baffling, you can’t really believe what you are reading – fact or fiction, but as you read page after page, it entices you, envelopes you as if you are a person living in this town.  The realization is like being in another world, except you are right there where you are reading it, being brought into another world.  The legends, the stories – real or fabricated makes you feel like you are listening to them from your own grandparent or other family member – your eyes all widened, the look of shock or even mischievous thoughts crossing your mind wondering if it really was weird or just made up. Thoughts of making the story even more out of this world.  Yes, it does happen.

Then as you are caught up in the story telling, it reminds you of other thoughts and feelings possibly of your own mortality, other family members that have passed away, the warmness of their hugs, the food they made, the stories they told.  The stories passed on from earlier generations are as wild as they were when you first heard them.  It’s about a family, much like yours or even mine – the ties that bind, the secrets kept, the hard work, shocking revelations, the things they regret and are telling you to finally let them go.

Truly a novel that needs to be read to be believed.  It has recently been long-listed for the IMPAC Dublin Awards a few days ago, along with the other previous nominations including the Giller Prize.

If you haven’t already picked up this gem, now is the time to see what I have talked about.

GoodreadsAlexi’s WebsiteAlexi on TwitterAlexi on Facebook

Listen to Alexi Zentner’s Touch from Dreamscape Media on Vimeo.

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Warfare – DK Publishing

We Make War That We May Live In Peace – Aristotle

The most wide-ranging and visually arresting history of wars and warfare ever published, War: Definitive Visual Guide documents every major war or significant period of conflict in over 5,000 years of human history.

A must-have reference gift for military enthusiasts and general readers alike, no other book about warfare contains such a diverse selection of imagery including contemporary paintings and photographs, objects and artifacts, and specially commissioned artworks, maps, and diagrams.

War: Definitive Visual Guide includes a comprehensive directory of every major war, thematic spreads examining broader topics within the history of warfare, from the role of mercenaries, communications, and the treatment of wounded soldiers, and personal accounts and objects from soldiers and civilians that bring to life the human experience of battle.

From the earliest known Wars in Sumeria and Ancient Egypt War to the occupation of Iraq, War: Definitive Visual Guide combines a coherent and compelling spread-by-spread historical narrative with a wealth of supporting features to recount the epic 5,000-year story of warfare and combat through the ages.

This is the ultimate war book.  From the Bronze Age to  present day, which includes every major war, the aspects of war, witnesses to war, as well as the hardware used through the centuries.  There are full colour photographs and artwork that portrayed major battles that changed the world.

Talks about how wars were fought in the ancient world before to Christ to present-day.  Weapons from each period – ancient, medieval, modern – how they have changed as well as the tactics have, as well as categories of weapons had me turning the pages oohing and aweing.

it also talks about the mercenaries, what they fight for, and how long they have been around…Did you know they have been around for thousands of years?  It talks about the french religious wars, the chinese civil war where the communists and the nationalists lost to the communists, and the remaining nationalists retreated to Taiwan to take China’s seat on the United Nations.

As the parent of a boy, I have to say this is one of Nick’s favorite.  He had taken it to school and had it there for a week to read during reading time.  All of his friends were intrigued to see what he was reading.

** This was previously published as War: The Definitive Visual Guide**

DK Canada

World War II – The Events And Their Impact On Real People – R.G. Grant

“Visually stunning…readers young and old will gain understanding of their world today by perusing this engrossing history”. –VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)

Beginning with the complex political and social circumstances that led to World War II, this volume comprehensively discusses the decisions made, battles fought, lives affected, and subsequent results of the war that defined the twentieth century. It includes first-hand testimony of young soldiers who remember the front lines, as well as the wives, parents, and children left stateside.

Fifty million people lost their lives during the bloodiest and most extraordinary conflict of the twentieth century.  What was it like to experience – and survive – Such a remarkable time in history?

This incredible book combines spectacular images with dramatic eyewitness accounts by the people who were actually there: the courageous soldiers fighting on land, at sea, and in the air, and the civilians at home telling stories of fear, courage, and hope.- Publishers Website - Back Cover

I cannot fathom being in the middle of any sort of armed conflict – war, famine, the sound of guns and bombs overhead as people on the ground are running for their lives as the buildings around them are exploding.  From a quiet neighborhood to a downtown city street.  You don’t know when or where it will hit – hearing the air raid sirens going off and you are praying that it wont hit your neighborhood or anyone else’s for that matter.

War is a dirty, messy business.  For those who have lived through World War II, we have those stories now in this book with revealing footage in the attached DVD to bring you these stories.  There are also maps, charts, and timelines that provide instant information on the course of events.

Although this book is intended for children between the ages of 10 to 17, in my opinion, it is a valuable resource for all ages depending on their depth of interpretation, and of course whether parents think it is an appropriate subject to be talking about.

So on this remembrance day, please take a moment out of your day and thank the men and women that fought for our country to keep it safe, the many, many lives that were taken from our families and friends and give them thanks.

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The Secret Keeper – Kate Morton

From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Distant Hours, The Forgotten Garden, and The House at Riverton, a spellbinding new novel filled with mystery, thievery, murder, and enduring love.

During a summer party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is happily dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and watches as her mother speaks to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime. A crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy—her vivacious, loving, nearly perfect mother.

Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress living in London. The family is gathering at Greenacres farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday. Realizing that this may be her last chance, Laurel searches for answers to the questions that still haunt her from that long-ago day, answers that can only be found in Dorothy’s past.

Dorothy’s story takes the reader from pre–WWII England through the blitz, to the ’60s and beyond. It is the secret history of three strangers from vastly different worlds—Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy—who meet by chance in wartime London and whose lives are forever entwined. The Secret Keeper explores longings and dreams and the unexpected consequences they sometimes bring. It is an unforgettable story of lovers and friends, deception and passion that is told—in Morton’s signature style—against a backdrop of events that changed the world. – Publishers Website

Wow, just Wow!  I have always enjoyed Kate’s work, but this one has to be the very best yet.  I was hooked from the first chapter. She held me along until the last few chapters until all was revealed, I fell dumbfounded, shocked, shaking my head.  Kate is a very skillful storyteller that If I haven’t read any of her earlier work this would be the book to start from.  I am literally speechless!  And trust me that doesn’t happen often lol

Such a wonderful story about life, love, sacrifice, and the one skeleton in a closet that has sat patiently for so long.  The only one person who knows about it is on their deathbed, wanting to share, but is afraid of the consequences – her family, friends, old friends from the past.  This one will keep you in suspense right until the end and still will have you saying to yourself I didn’t even see it coming…

Wow, Wow, Wow…

Goodreads - Kate’s Website - Facebook - Browse Inside

 

The Red Pole of Macau – Ian Hamilton

In The Red Pole of Macau, Ava’s half-brother Michael is desperate to pull out of a multi-million-dollar real estate deal in the territory of Macau. The developers are threatening to halt construction unless Michael and his business partner put up another $80 million; the bank is looking for repayment on their loan; and her father is prepared to sell everything to protect his first-born son.

When Ava enlists Uncle for help, she discovers his health is failing and is forced to turn to a former client, the cunning and seductive May Ling Wong. As Ava follows the money trail, she finds herself drawn deeper and deeper into Hong Kong’s dark and deadly world of organized crime.

Will Ava protect her family’s future? Or will this job lead to a violent end . . . – Publishers Website

Fangirl Moment when this arrived in the mail !! The fourth installment of Ian Hamilton’s Ava Lee Series ! I admit, I was engrossed in another book when this one arrived, but it was literally starting me down from the living room table, I had to put down the other book, until this one was read cover to cover, in the middle of reading I’m sending my thoughts to Ava with things like “Get That Sucker!” as well as other expletives that I can’t divulge here.  Tee hee!

I absolutely LOVE Ian’s collection so far, and wont give up on reading them until the last one has been shed, the plots revealed, and Ava has ridden the world of evil and people who are trying – yes, trying to take something away from people who a) don’t deserve it, or b) are being greedy!

I found out something quite interesting (at least to me) Some have commented on Goodreads that the constant name dropping of fashion brands, and of course her Starbucks Via in the books have turned people off the books.  But, when I was at Word on the Street in Toronto, I found out by the publicist that in fact in the Asian culture, that is what they do, they go by designer names, etc.  It is just their culture.  No more no less.   And I realize that here in Canada or anywhere else that sounds a bit much or irritating, but Ian has toned it down so to speak.  You won’t hear as much of it in the books, but you do see some of it.

So, now that I’m done gushing about Ian and his Ava, go and get the books all right?!?  They are FANTASTIC!  Ava comes out with a new book in February, so get caught up would you !!

Browse inside - Ian on Twitter - Ian on Facebook - Goodreads - Ian’s Website

I really wish there were some book trailers for Ava, She would kick some serious ass in them !

The Midwife Of Hope River – Patricia Harman

Midwife Patience Murphy has a gift: a talent for escorting mothers through the challenges of bringing children into the world. Working in the hardscrabble conditions of Appalachia during the Depression, Patience takes the jobs that no one else wants, helping those most in need—and least likely to pay. She knows a successful midwifery practice must be built on a foundation of openness and trust—but the secrets Patience is keeping are far too intimate and fragile for her to ever let anyone in.

Honest, moving, and beautifully detailed, Patricia Harman’s The Midwife of Hope River rings with authenticity as Patience faces nearly insurmountable difficulties. From the dangerous mines of West Virginia to the terrifying attentions of the Ku Klux Klan, Patience must strive to bring new light and life into an otherwise hard world. – Publishers Website

I really enjoyed this book, until that is the end of it came and I felt like the main character did something that was completely out of character at least I thought it was out of character for her to do.

She has survived so many difficulties, overcome so many obstacles in her life, then to continue a relationship with one of the other characters in the book that they didn’t even really discuss; they just continued on with it, how it should progress, they didn’t discuss their feelings about one another, it just seemed as though the author needed to (in my opinion) end the book and didn’t have any other things to share about the couple.

Maybe it is me being in this modern world and all, I’m not sure.

Overall, it was a gorgeous book, written with a sense of the time period – the ’30′s. It had genuine parts of what it was like to be a midwife back in the day.   I was quite enthralled with it.

I just thought the ending of the novel could have been written better than it was.  I hope to read more from Patricia in the future.

Reading GuidePatricia’s WebsiteBrowse InsideGoodreadsFacebookTwitter

 

The Printmaker’s Daughter – Katherine Govier

Recounting the story of her life, Oei plunges us into the colorful world of nineteenth-century Edo, in which courtesans rub shoulders with poets, warriors consort with actors, and the arts flourish in an unprecedented moment of creative upheaval. Oei and Hokusai live among writers, novelists, tattoo artists, and prostitutes, evading the spies of the repressive shogunate as they work on Hokusai’s countless paintings and prints. Wielding her brush, rejecting domesticity in favor of dedication to the arts, Oei defies all expectations of womanhood—all but one. A dutiful daughter to the last, she will obey the will of her eccentric father, the man who created her and who, ultimately, will rob her of her place in history.

Vivid, daring, and unforgettable, The Printmaker’s Daughter shines fresh light on art, loyalty, and the tender and indelible bond between a father and daughter.

A lost voice of old Japan reclaims her rightful place in history in this breathtaking work of imagination and scholarship from award-winning and internationally acclaimed author Katherine Govier. In the evocative tale of 19th century Tokyo, The Printmaker’s Daughter  delivers an enthralling tale of one of the world’s great unknown artists: Oei, the mysterious daughter of master printmaker Hokusai, painter of the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji. In a novel that will resonate with readers of Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, Lisa See’s Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, and David Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, the sights and sensations of an exotic, bygone era form the richly captivating backdrop for an intimate, finely wrought story of daughterhood and duty, art and authorship, the immortality of creation and the anonymity of history. – Publishers Website

I was very enthralled with this book.  A daughter who takes over her fathers painting when he gets too old to be able to do it.  She has spent her whole life studying beside him, going from place to place in object poverty, providing himself and his family the little money he can make under Communist China.  The threat of death, starvation, and shunning from the Government itself sits on their shoulders everyday while printing ‘approved’ books, and paintings; all the while painting ‘non-approved’ pieces for more money, but a much greater chance of being caught and their small livelihood obliterated with a jail sentence or worse.  As the daughter grows up in this time, she meets a friend of her fathers; really a prostitute who will figure into her whole life – from being able to apply makeup, to other womanly secrets.  They are linked for their lifetimes, in good times and bad.  It was the sad story of a woman who is attempting to eek out an existence where it is heavily controlled by the Government.  If they shun you, you are finished.  Love for family, survival, relationships on the brink of collapse, poverty, and self-sufficiency all had me engrossed along with the gracefulness of the geisha’s in the brothels who hone their craft for decades until long past their expiry date.

On  a side note - In CANADA it is entitled The Ghost Brush.  Catherine is also a Canadian!

Katherine’s SiteTwitterGoodreadsFacebookBrowse Inside

 

Forgotten – Catherine McKenzie

Congratulations to Catherine!!, who just this week had this book published in the USA.   This is a re-posting of the review I had done for it’s Canadian Release. It is available through William Morrow in the USA.

When everyone thinks you’re dead, how do you start your life over again?

Emma Tupper, a young lawyer with a bright future, sets out on a journey after her mother’s death: to Africa, a place her mother always wanted to visit. But her mother’s dying gift has unexpected consequences. Emma falls ill during the trip and is just recovering when a massive earthquake hits, turning her one-month vacation into a six-month ordeal.

When Emma returns home, she’s shocked to find that her friends and colleagues believed she was dead, that her apartment has been rented to a stranger and that her life has gone on without her. Can Emma pick up where she left off? Should she? As Emma struggles to recreate her old life, everyone around her thinks she should change – her job, her relationships, and even herself. But does she really want to sacrifice everything she’s working so hard to gain? – Publishers Website

I really truly believe that this is Catherine’s best novel yet !  It had a soul that you couldn’t walk away from, that one thing that keeps you reading page after page, until the last one wanting there to be more in the story.  What would you do if this happened to you?!?  Would you scream and cry or pick up where you left off to start your life all over again or would you just throw in the towel and say to hell with it? Myself, since I have started over again when my marriage failed so miserably I didn’t really have a choice to just sit and cry, I had to get up and prove to people I was the person that I was saying I was, and not the one other people were portraying me to be.  So, I can identify with Emma, know what she was going through in a sense.  Your whole world is somewhat turned upside down.  You, yourself are the only one that can turn it back upright; and fight for what you believe in.  Even if that means falling in love with the one person who you didn’t think possible. My reviews of Catherine’s other books can be found here by clicking the links – ArrangedSPIN.  Here are 2 Q and A’s I have also done with Catherine – Q and A #1Q and A #2

Catherine’s WebsiteBrowse InsideTwitterFacebookUS Publisher – William Morrow

Guilt by Degrees – Marcia Clark

 

Someone has been watching D.A. Rachel Knight—someone who’s Rachel’s equal in brains, but with more malicious intentions. It began when a near-impossible case fell into Rachel’s lap, the suspectless homicide of a homeless man. In the face of courthouse backbiting and a gauzy web of clues, Rachel is determined to deliver justice.

She’s got back-up: tenacious Detective Bailey Keller. As Rachel and Bailey stir things up, they’re shocked to uncover a connection with the vicious murder of an LAPD cop a year earlier.

Rachel suspects someone knows the truth, someone who’d kill to keep it secret. Harrowing, smart, and riotously entertaining, GUILT BY DEGREES is a thrilling ride through the world of Los Angeles courts with the unforgettable Rachel Knight. – Publishers Website

I am really liking Rachel !  In Marcia’s 2nd fiction book, Rachel is becoming more and more one of those literary characters that won’t be soon forgotten.  With her steely determination to find out who did what, when, where and make them pay has me almost cheering ( in a non fangirl squealing mess). I have to save that for a Canadian Fictional Character, sorry Marcia !!

I’m liking the action, the information Marcia effortlessly passes on as Rachel follows this case to the bitter end…literally.  Bailey her 2nd hand person, definitely gives the bad guys a run for their money.  I wonder if there are really tough female detectives like this in real life.  More than likely!

I have to say, Marcia has definitely hit the genre running and probably won’t give up the fight anytime soon.  The Mass Market comes out in March, but you can still get a hardcover more than likely.  If you liked her first book Guilt by Association, you will definitely like this one.  I’m looking forward to her next installment.

I have had a few instances where I have chatted with Marcia on twitter and on Facebook, she is really quite personable so don’t be shy and say hi.  Just be nice and respectful…

Marcia’s WebsiteFacebookTwitter -

 

 

The LEGO Book – Expanded and Fully Revised – Daniel Lipkowitz

Reveal, explore, and celebrate the fascinating LEGO® story in The LEGO® Book. From its beginnings in a carpenter’s workshop and the development of the first plastic brick, to the group’s current position as an international brand, a timeline highlights key moments in LEGO® history.

Fascinating facts on every significant LEGO® product line, theme park, video game, artwork, competition, club, collectible and more combine with images from the LEGO Group’s photo archives-many seen here for the first time-and inspiring ideas on how to make a variety of things from just a few bricks. Packaged in a beautiful slip case with cutting-edge design, this two-volume set also features Standing Small-a 96-page book celebrating the minifigure.

LEGO, the LEGO logo, the Brick configuration and the Minifigure are trademarks of the LEGO Group. ©2009 The LEGO Group. – Publishers Website

I love this book!  From 2 to 92 and beyond, this fully revised and updated version has to be the most complete book and the history, the themes, the sets, and how everything first began over 50 years ago!

it includes the latest toy themes with a photo tour of every moment with special features, achievements which explore every aspect of the Lego World which includes Theme Parks, Star Wars, minilands, videogames, visual arts, animations and so much more.

With imaginative play as the main focus other skills such as social, and motor skills as well as the creative aspects will have you interested from the moment you receive your first set to building everything in between with our own children and grandchildren in the years and decades to come.  It has been #1 since it’s start in 1932 when the company started building wooden toys like yo-yo’s, wooden blocks and pull toys of all kinds.

Did you know:

  • An average of 18 bricks out of every million fails the most stringent tests
  • 36 BILLION Lego bricks are produced each year (68,000 each minute)
  • 6 red 8 stud bricks can be combined into 915,103,765 different ways
  • 4200 different brick shapes
  • There are 80 bricks for every person in the World

So, one other thing I have to mention…When my kids were younger it always had to be the smallest of the bricks that you would find yourself stepping on thinking that you had picked them all up…Am I right, or am I right?!?   My darling son has amassed a collection that is now been handed off to someone else.  His imagination has even gotten him into Lego League where a team of his classmates entered a school board wide competition where they had certain themes every year they had to complete and compete against other schools in the board territory.  I have to say the kids not only did wonderful with building their robots and working as a team.  Quite a few of them had the zaniest costumes/teams/ideas that I have ever seen in a Saturday competition !! It just so happened, that my son’s team won the Spirit Award for the year they competed !!

DK Canada is having a photo contest, click here to see how you can win! -  Check out the DK Canada Lego Boutique Download a Lego PosterLego WebsiteLego Education SiteLego Club Magazine (free)

Here is an inside look at The Lego Book -

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