A Bookaholic, Pro-life, Pro-Family, Pro-Oxford Comma, Catholic (with Asperger's) who reads and writes as her obsession. I've been reading over 400 books a year lately. These are my ramblings on the books I read.

I sometimes go through stages of "genre love", I'm addicted to
mystery thrillers, memoirs, 20th century Chinese historical fiction, Victorian fiction and nonfiction, Catholic theology and short story anthologies; but you'll find I read an even wider variety of books than that. I have a teensy fascination with macabre non-fiction books about death and anything about insane asylums.

I also tend to post a lot of reviews of
juvenile/teen books.

I also blog about
graphic novels and manga on a separate BLOG.

Friday, April 24, 2015

At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen

At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 368 pages
Published March 31st 2015 by Bond Street Books

This is the first book I've read by the author, although I've wanted to read the others. I can't believe I waited this long! I just loved this! It had a little bit of everything I enjoy: historical fiction, quirky characters, and suspense. Although I'm not a romance reader, I found the love story just beautiful. Mostly I enjoyed the suspense as the secrets were revealed throughout and the dramatic ending. I also enjoyed all the characters; the Scottish ones were adorable. Maddie was an engaging, believable character and I enjoyed the personal journey and awakening she went through during the story. Hank and Ellis, on the other hand, are not likable, nor are they meant to be; Ellis, I found to be the weakest written character being somewhat unbelievable and over-the-top while I had wished Hank had been developed more. I found myself wanting to know more about his point of view, what he knew and didn't know and his thoughts/feelings on the situation, something the reader is never made privy to. It felt as if his character was important in a way that never fully materialized. In all, it was a riveting story that took me two sittings to read, both lasting until the wee hours of the night.

Everything I Need To Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book by Diane Muldrow

Everything I Need To Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book by Diane Muldrow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 96 pages
Published September 24th 2013 by Golden Books

Little Golden Books
Everything I Need To Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book (1)

I've read and own the other books in this series and, of course, loved this first one that started it all. An inspirational pick-me-up on how to live and enjoy your life to the fullest using illustrations and values from the early 1940s-1960s Little Golden Books. This is not a children's book; it contains original text written for adults though this one, unlike the others, would be fitting for children also. This is a cheery little ditty with a positive, uplifting message, but it is the illustrations that will delight the LGB fans for the nostalgia effect. All the famous illustrators are here: Tibor Gergely, Garth Williams, Feodor Rojankovsky, Richard Scarry, Eloise Wilkin, and many more. A wonderful book for an inspirational pick-me-up or for Little Golden Book fans and collectors. Since I've read the others and can compare this to them I will say I liked Love and Christmas the most, maybe because they had a theme.

I would buy more if the series were to continue but I will be passing on the next one (July, 2015) because it is Disney-themed and my like of Disney only stretches to 1977 when the involvement of the Disney family ended. The summary of the Disney book lists mostly modern movies so I'll wait and see if there is another book.

Have You Been Saved?: A Catholic Perspective by Rev. John Dowling

Have You Been Saved?: A Catholic Perspective by Rev. John Dowling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paperback, 24 pages
Published June 1st 1995 by Liguori Publications

A small pamphlet (booklet) which explains to Catholics what evangelicals and fundamentalists mean when they ask "have you been saved?" The book is written to the cradle Catholic to whom this question may be baffling and not know how to respond. Then gives a 10-step thorough, excellent understanding of what salvation actually means and the Catholic view, supported by Scripture, of this ongoing process. I am a convert and having been on both sides of the coin certainly understand the saved question but found this an excellent, concise source of the information one should be armed with tackling the topic with non-Catholics.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin

The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Paperback, 135 pages
Published July 23rd 2002 by Perennial
(first published 1972)

The ending is very tight and suspenseful but otherwise I found it greatly outdated. The roaring feminism is a product of its times; thankfully the type of woman who spent their life being a victim of men are now reaching senior-hood. I feel pretty confident in saying that most mentally healthy 21st-century men would become bored *very* fast with a robot wife. LOL

Crime Seen: Stories from Behind the Yellow Tape, From Patrol Cop to Profiler by Kate Lines

Crime Seen: Stories from Behind the Yellow Tape, From Patrol Cop to Profiler by Kate Lines
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 256 pages
Published April 7th 2015 by Random House Canada

Kate Lines was the second Canadian and first Canadian woman to complete the FBI's criminal profiling course at Quantico. She started her career with the police force as a traffic cop, moved up into undercover vice, then became a detective and rose to higher positions of authority once she became a leader in profiling in Canada. She is much decorated and honoured in the profession and this is her personal story up to the present. What drew me to reading this memoir was, of course, the profiling aspect due to my interest in that field, however, the best part of the book was the first half. Kate starts off briefly with her childhood and upbringing to how her interest in police work began. Her days of training and becoming a cop follow with details of her work as a traffic cop and undercover "narc" working in the high-risk area of biker gangs. Surprisingly, I found this part terribly interesting especially finding out how the Canadian system works. (So much of what is written is from an American perspective) I thought the really good part would start once she went to Quantico and her ten months there were quite interesting but not very detailed. The rest of the book was rather disappointing as she describes profiler work matter of factly, insistently tells the reader how unlike the TV shows it is, and even though she goes over a few high profile cases including Paul Bernardo and Colonel Russell Williams they are the most boring retellings of those crimes I've ever read. Lines also has an annoying habit of taking time out to praise the police force and pat her colleagues and the entire force on the back that it made me roll my eyes and think "save it for the acknowledgements!". This back patting was an obvious strike at public image control for the police in general. So while the book wasn't as good as I'd hoped for, the writing style not overly engaging, and the author's voice on the annoying side; I did enjoy learning how these things are done in Canada and especially hearing the story of her early days as a woman in the police force. Lines is now retired and works as a private detective and consultant.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Tom Gray #1: Gray Justice by Alan McDermott

Gray Justice by Alan McDermott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kindle Edition, 216 pages
Published July 8th 2011 by Amazon Digital Services

Tom Gray (#1)

I have to admit I put off reading this for the longest time because the reviews are all over the place with ratings from 1 to 5. But it sounded good and I'm glad I finally read it. I was hooked right away and glued to my seat from the get-go. This was a can't-put-down page-turner. Certainly, it's a vigilante anti-hero vengeance story with a highly unlikely scenario and belief has to be suspended to enjoy it. The better title would have been "Gray Vengeance". I won't critique it as I could go on about what was wrong with the logic of the plot, the dialogue, the writing, etc. But in all honesty and reality, I didn't care. I loved it!!! I didn't like Tom Gray, he is morally ambiguous and not even relativistic as he knows he's doing wrong but doesn't care and thinks if he can get through the loopholes then so what. But I will definitely be returning for book 2 (which I have) as the ending was intriguing and I would love to go another round with this testosterone filled action-adventure political thriller series. Sometimes books are just a heck of a lot of fun!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Hellfire & Damnation II by Connie Corcoran Wilson

Hellfire & Damnation II by Connie Corcoran Wilson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Kindle Edition, 170 pages
Published July 28th 2012 by Quad City Press

A collection of stories based on the 9 level's of Dante's Hell. I wasn't terribly impressed with this collection. I love Dante's version of Hell and had been expecting more; perhaps more horror or terror. The stories were mediocre. Some were real duds and the majority were just ok. The last few stories were better than the earlier stories making the average rating come out to a close 3/5.

1. Cold Corpse Carnival - A man died by falling into an ice pit and is kept there frozen, eventually becoming the small town's main (only) attraction. But the 130-odd-year-old corpse is in a state of Limbo. His body may be dead, or more like in suspended animation, but his brain has been completely functional all these years and he's vowed to exact vengeance on people in general who represent the decades of people who have dishonoured his corpse all these years, Just ok. Predictable with an unsatisfying ending. Interesting premise though and I remember reading an article once about a true-life miner's body on display somewhere. (3/5)

2. The Shell - A harsh story of an old Mayan religious fanatic who kidnaps a 12yo girl for Quetzalcoatl. She's there for a few days being raped and the story is a bit hard to read but the focus turns onto the girls courage, intelligence and bravery in concentrating on how to escape. This story gives me better expectations of Wilson's writing than the previous story. (4/5)

3. Tempus Fugit: Resurrection Cemetary - Lady in a white dress ... hitchhiker ... ghost story. meh. (2/5)

4. The Champagne Chandelier - A well-written narrative of an only child who upon getting ready for her mother's funeral looks back upon her flamboyant life with five husbands. She was widowed by them all except for a divorce from one who had two children, one a daughter, the narrator's own age, who was mean, evil and tormented her for the three years their parents were together. A tale of a dysfunctional family with a spooky ending. (4/5)

5. A Spark on the Prairie - This is pure historical fiction. An ex Kiowa Indian Chief who has been shamed for his cowardice narrates the downfall of the Natives and the greediness and lies of the white man until the end when they have all been rounded up onto reservations. Lots of quotes, names and dates, and BORING. (1/5)

6. M.R.M. - Very short but when of the best-written stories so far. A hen-pecked man has been working on an invention to modify his wife back to the way she was when he met her for most of their thirty year marriage. (4/5)

7. A Bridge Too Far - Three people are in some type of music competition, maybe reality show, this night they had to form a group, write an original song, then they will perform it the next day. The bridge to the chorus is stumping the songwriter of the group, she and the lyricist can't stand the arrogant cowboy singer and at the last minute have a plan to get rid of him. Short and sweet ... make that devious. Nothing rally happens though. (2/5)

8. Letters to LeClaire - A tragic little story set in 1920 where a brother returns home to bury his only sister and last remaining relative, age 23. He finds her correspondence in the house and reads it during the night he spends with the coffin, including his own letters while determining on the morrow to find out just exactly how his sister died. I liked the atmosphere of this one. (4/5)

9. Room Service - This was funny! On the way to the BEA a humourist writer finds herself on the same plane as her agent, a woman who has never smiled in the seven years she's known her. Trying to be friendly, she's rebuffed as the agent in the seat in front of her says she needs a nap then proceeds to recline her seat back as far as possible. The anger builds inside our author until, at the hotel, she ends up killing more than one person. (5/5)

10. Oxymorons - This one is a mystery that went over well with me. A secret service guy for the possible next Republican party leader talks with a close friend about this man's recent attempt on his life, the recent "accidental" death of his wife and many of the deep dark secrets of his past. I thought I knew what was going to happen, something much more sinister than the actual ending but it was a good read. (3/5)

11. The Bureau - A longer story than the others, this is a tale of family betrayal, greed, and murder. Illegal organ transplant harvesting is the theme and once one commits their first crime the next becomes much easier, especially when you keep it all in the family. (3/5)

View all my reviews