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Showing posts from 2017

What makes a killer?

Peter James knows. After all, he's written thirteen books on the subject. Featuring Detective Superintendent Roy Grace, Peter James' detective novels have sold 18 million books worldwide. I reviewed his last book, Love You Dead, and when Need You Dead arrived at my doorstep courtesy of Publishers Group Canada, I was ecstatic. 

This new crime novel, delivers on the hype. A woman is found dead in her bathtub. Is it a murder? Is it a suicide? 

Three suspects emerge. A husband. A lover. A blackmailer. 

It's a classic case of whodunit, and Roy Grace believes that every killer makes a mistake. Somewhere. All he has to do, is to find it. His instincts are usually dead on, but this time, will they let him down? 

Referring back to his mantra of assuming nothing, believing no one, and checking everything, Roy Grace proceeds to uncover the grim outcome of the victim, who was trying desperately to find another life for herself before she died, one that would be kinder to her than her pres…

My Canada is the best place on earth. Happy #Canada150

Packing information in a visually engaging format, My Canada - An Illustrated Atlas is the ultimate kids guide to help celebrate #Canada150. 

Each province is displayed as a full-colour map with iconic places, landmarks, and more. One of my fave places in Canada is the Canadian Rockies. The kid in me, loved identifying memorable landmarks that have been etched in my mind, such as Jasper Skytram, Banff National Park and the hot springs, and the Columbian Icefield. If you haven't been to Alberta yet, make this one of the must-see places on your #Canada150 list. 

My Canada - An Illustrated Atlas, is educational for all ages. The icons on every spread, highlight things that should be in every kid's repertoire, such as the provincial flag, symbols and flowers. 

Did you know New Brunswick's bird is the black-chapped chickadee, while its flower is the purple violet? Do you know what tree symbolizes Ontario? Well, if you are stumped for an answer, you'll just have to look it up f…

The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness

A Novel by Arundhati Roy

"How to tell a shattered story?

By slowing becoming everybody.


By slowly becoming everything."

It's been a mere twenty years, and the queen of misery is back with a new novel. Arundhati Roy, Booker Prize-winning author of The God Of Small Things, brings her rare storytelling back in the fray with The Ministry of Utmost Happiness.

Jahanara Begun has borne a son, Aftab. Or so, the world thinks. In reality, She's actually borne a daughter. For the first few years of Aftab's life, Jahanara Begum's secret is kept safe. Fiercely protective and anxious, she would not let Aftab stray too far away from her.

When she finally told her husband, Mulaqat Ali about Aftab, he was convinced that there must be a simple medical solution to their son's "problem". A doctor in New Delhi said he could recommend a surgeon who would seal the girl-part. He did however suggest that despite the treatment, there would be "tendencies" that wo…

The Unlikely Redemption Of John Alexander MacNeil by Lesley Choyce

80-year-old John Alexander MacNeil lives alone in rural Cape Breton.
His sharp-tongue made him unpopular with both the clergy and the politicians. But that's who he is. For as long as he could remember, he'd been waging war against someone or something --no matter the size for when he was nine, he took on the Catholic church's archdiocese. But in his defence, he also admires feisty determination in others in whatever form it takes as long as (as he puts it) it doesn't harm children, harm the environment or infringe on a neighbour's property. 
His wife Eva died of asbestos in her lungs. The same asbestos that came from the asbestos mines he worked in at St. Simone, Quebec...a job he took on, ironically, to provide a better life for Eva. She never asked for a better life. She was happy with their life just the way it was. But John Alexander MacNeil just wanted to do more for the love of his life, and give her all the things he thought she deserved. 
Now although Eva'…

The Unexpected Visitor

The Unexpected Visitor by Jessica Courtney-Tickle is a beautiful story that reminds us to take only what we need from the ocean and not to be consumed by greed. 

The perfect read on #WorldOceansDay!
This book just makes you feel good the moment you pick it up. Could it be that the paper comes from sustainable forests? Perhaps. If you are going to publish a book that speaks about saving the oceans, then it only makes sense to use paper that helps protect endangered forests and the animals that live in them, so that we can all feel good about everyone having a safe home in the future. You can learn more about Egmont Publishing's initiative at 

But it's more than just that. Everything about this book draws us into the majestic ocean. From the warm-hearted illustrative style to the neutral friendly colours, there's a natural cohesiveness to this picture book by Jessica Courtney-Tickle, that just makes us care. 

A must-read for kids of all ages, but espe…

The Girl On The Train goes Into The Water

If it seems like this is a sequel to Paula Hawkins blockbuster novel, The Girl On The Train, I apologize for the misrepresentation. Into The Water is a standalone tale, that is suspenseful and takes the reader into another gripping adventure. 

Water is the prevailing theme of Paula Hawkins new novel Into The Water. A single mother is found dead. Did she commit suicide? Was it an accident? If the latter hypothesis holds true, then it’s a question of whodunit.  

There are people who are drawn to water, who retain some vestigial primal sense of where it flows.
Nel Abbott is the mother in question. She’s always had a fascination with water. She is also an aspiring writer, who's focusing on a book about the people who died in the local Beckford Drowning Pool. Is it ironic that she becomes one of the drowned herself? 
"The name carries weight; and yet, what is it? A bend in the river, that's all. A meander. You'll find it if you follow the river in all its twists and turns, swe…

Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami

Is it our own fault that we find ourselves alone? Do we shun away those that love us because of our inability to commit or cope?
Haruki Murakami explores this concept in his new book Men Without Women. As you can tell by the cover, Men Without Women explores relationships from the perspective of men. In this series of short stories, Haruki highlights several male characters with varying life experiences, who somehow find themselves alone. From a lovesick doctor, to an actor, each character reflects on their own situation, and come to grips with what they endure in their relationships. 
"Relationships, between people, especially between men and women, operate on -- what should I say -- a general level. More vague, more self-centred, more pathetic."How do men cope with loneliness? Perhaps they try to reason with the loss. In Haruki Murakami's novel, one story centres around a man who has lost his wife to cancer, but in reality, he lost her long before the diagnosis. His wife…

Journey into the past with The Rome Affair

This is my second Karen Swan novel. Last year, I read The Paris Secret, where she put passion into the Parisian landscape with élan. The timing was impeccable. Recently, having ventured on my own Parisian adventure, the beautiful prose of The Paris Secret brought me right back into those perfectly unforgettable moments. 

So, when PGC Books sent me an advanced copy of a new novel by the international best-selling author, I was alight with excitement. This time, it seemed that Karen Swan was ready to take me through the streets and piazzas of one of the most fascinating cities in the world.

The Rome Affair is charming. The glamorous capital of Italy is brought to startling's exactly what I'd expect from Karen Swan. She does have a way of transporting you into a city, and embed you right into its culture and complexities. You are there. The streets seem familiar and the characters relatable (well, some at least). The countess in this novel reminds me of one of the elabora…

This book is making me fifty shades richer

Entertaining. Outlandish. A Guilty Pleasure.
Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan

Kevin Kwan is at it again, with his third instalment of the Crazy Rich Asians series, and it's everything you've come to expect in a Kevin Kwan novel. Lavish lifestyles complete with private jets, torrid affairs, family squabbles, and of course, inheritance woes. At the centre of it all, is Tyersall Park, a billion dollar estate on sixty-four prime acres in the heart of Singapore. 

The same old suspects are back in Kevin Kwan's third novel, Rich People Problems. Three prominent families - The Young, T'Sien & Shang clans - are back to claim their matriarch's massive fortune. Ah Ma is rich...super rich. Did I mention, she's the one who owns Tyersall Park? 

The book starts off with her suddenly falling ill, which mitigates some concern, but also inspires greed amongst all the relatives. Who's going to inherit Tyersall Park if something happens to Ah Ma? Nick Young, who has been est…

The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff

A vividly personal narration that toggles back and forth between two perspectives. Set in a travelling circus during World War II, The Orphan’s Tale is a story of two women with their own harrowing stories, who come together amid times of despair and bond a mutual friendship. It is a story of the struggles within Nazi occupation, but set in a world that we normally would not see. The same struggles entail, the same story of survival, yet the characters and the circumstances are uniquely different. 

Astrid is a circus aerialist who was married to a German, but forced to leave him because he was an officer of The Third Reich, and forbidden to have a Jewish wife. She returns to Darmstadt, and has an arrangement to join the circus as an aerialist on the road at least for a year. 

Noa is a teenage runaway with a baby. When the circus takes Noa and baby Theo in, Astrid is forced to teach her the aerialist act in six weeks, so that she can travel with the circus as a performer. It seems an im…

Imagine if your best friend was an ancient oak tree

In life, you don't need a lot of friends. You only need one good friend who is by your side, day after day, through thick and thin. For one little boy, that best friend is Bertolt. 

But Bertolt, isn't like any other best friend. See, Bertolt is an ancient oak tree. 

And this little boy loves Bertolt. He spends a lot of time hanging out with this 500-year-old oak tree (he estimates that's Bertolt's age based on his scientific calculation of another tree that was cut down beside it.) 

Springtime is especially beautiful, when he can hang out in the coolest hangout ever, spying on the neighbourhood below. Bertolt's leaves create the best privacy for the boy. Nothing gets past this little boy. Not the lawyer's daughter kissing Kevin, or the Tucker twins stealing bottle from the grocer and selling them back to him. Nope, there is so many interesting things to see and do when you hang out on the high branches of Bertolt. 

Then winter arrives, and the boy must say goodbye …

Liam Takes A Stand by Tory Wilsom and Josh Holinaty

This book tries to pack a wallop of teaching moments into it, and actually succeeds.
Lesson 1:  Work Hard. Work Smart.
Lesson 2:  Sibling Rivalry Is Real
Lesson 3 When Life Throws You Lemons, Make Lemonade

Liam has two brothers older than him. Lister and Lester are identical twins, who are constantly busy trying to outdo one another. Regardless of the activity, their first instinct is to compete with it each other. 

All Liam really wants, is to hang out with his brothers and do things with them. But they barely notice him. 
The twins are too busy trying to figure out what their next big competition will be.

One day, a bit of entrepreneurial spirit strikes and they open up rival lemonade stands outside their house. Lester first starts the game opening up a Lemonade Universe. Which immediately prompts Lister to open his own Lemonade Multiverse. 
This just escalates the competitiveness. Each one trying to outdo the other in their branding, product development and even execution, in the effort to ge…

In Focus by Libby Walden

Ten illustrators.
Ten subjects.
One fascinating book.

Looking at 101 wonders of the world from the outside, in, ten illustrators including Tracey Tucker, Thomas Pullin, Barbara Bakos and Chester Bentley, explore a subject in depth, in an attempt to provide unique perspective and ignite in kids, a curiosity for the world and our fascinating planet. 

From cutaways, to close-ups to cross sections, this interactive book is engaging and a pleasure to indulge in. Both parents and kids will enjoy learning about everything from famous landmarks to fruit, and the natural world, to vehicles. 

Close-Ups allow you to enjoy a fresh perspective by looking at the world from the outside, in. 

Cross Sections slice through 101 objects, animals, and buildings to reveal some extraordinary interiors. 

Cutaways allow the reader to reveal wonderful surprises. 

One of my favourites is the section on buildings of the world that includes the Taj Mahal, the Colosseum, St. Basil's Cathedral and The White House. Did …

Love Comes In All Sizes

Me Tall, You Small by Lilli L'Arronge A whimsical banter between a parent and a child is represented by a pair of weasels, and delightfully captured in a series of vignettes. 

Me Tall, You Small by Lilli L'Arronge celebrates the difference between parents and kids, while highlighting their common love for each other. 

Let's face it, parents and children are different. They think differently. They look at the world from different perspectives. They disagree on almost everything. Even cookies? Yes, even cookies. But at the end of the day, they admire and love each other, and are able to find a commonality. 


There is a silliness to the word play. The book has a nice balance of banter, partly filled with nonsensical words like "whoop" "bop" and "bip", while also sprinkled with real words, that represent the moment. 

The real strength of Me Tall, You Small rests in its simplicity. Lilli L'Arronge takes …

A B.C. Blues Crime Novel

Undertow by R.M. Greenaway

BACKGROUND: This is the second in the B.C. Blues crime series set in the province of British Columbia. In the series opener, Cold Girl, constables Dion and Leith found themselves working together in the northern interior. In Undertow, they once again reunite, this time in the City of North Vancouver. For Dion, North Vancouver is a challenging comeback, and for Leith, it's a whole new experience. Both find super sized stress in the busy streets, interwoven murder investigations to solve, and the omnipresent push and pull of the Pacific on their psyches. 

The scene: A haunting murder that seems without motive. 
A young electrician is beaten up. His wife and baby girl are being tracked down too. Why? 

More twists and turns dominate the plot line. 

Who battered and asphyxiated a wealthy nightclub owner in his own garage? 

As crime series' go, this one combines all the ingredients to keep you fixated. It's no wonder the writing is dead on, after all, R.M. G…

Start April in the company of friends

CITY OF FRIENDS by Joanna TrollopeLife is unpredictable. Careers don't span like you'd like. Neither do relationships. 
City Of Friends navigates through the lives of four friends, now in their forties, whose lives steer off path...understandably. Blueprints rarely are set in stone.  The downward spiral begins with Stacey, who at the beginning of the book, has a huge upset in her existence. 
Stacey Grant has just lost her long time private  equity job, and she has no idea how she's going to deal with the incredible sense of injustice. Sixteen years at one company, and just like that, it's over. It all started because she thought she deserved some flexibility on the job. A chance to balance life and work, and an ailing mother, who's illness was starting to demand more of her time. Would this have happened if she were a man? 
Within a matter of weeks, Stacey was starting to realize that her original plan of spending long days at home with Bruno (her dog), and taking her…