Saturday, May 28, 2011


Ten-year-old Daria, was walking along the beach beside her North Carolina home in the town of Kill Devil's Hill, on the morning of her eleventh birthday. She was busy marvelling at all the crab shells when she thought she saw the biggest crab shell ever. Gingerly, she flipped it over with her bare foot and realized it was a baby covered in blood with the placenta still attached!! She screamed, ran, stopped, ran some more, then realized she had to go back to see if the baby was alive. It was! She quickly took off her tank top, wrapped it around the baby and then realized she'd have to carry this bloody mountain of goo with her. She ran to the beach house, put the baby on the kitchen table and ran upstairs to wake her parents. They were awestruck to say the least. Daria's Mom, once a nurse, sprang into action. She boiled a pair of scissors to cut the umbilical cord and washed the baby. With that done she called 911. When the EMS people arrived they had to pry the baby from Daria's Mom's arms.

From here, the story advances 22 years and it's Daria's 33rd birthday and Shelly's 22nd birthday. Shelly is the baby who Daria found on the beach all those years ago. Daria's Mom ended up adopting her and raising her as one of her own but her parents are now dead and Daria watches over her. Daria had been a volunteer EMT until a seaplane went down in the water near her home and everyone blamed Shelly for killing the 18-year-old pilot!

Next, Rory Taylor comes to town for the summer with his 15-year-old son, Zack. Rory is the host of the television show in California called 'True Life Stories' and he's in Kill Devil's Hill to investigate who is really Shelly's mother. Who was it that left that newborn baby to die on the beach 22 years ago? The townspeople are protective of Shelly and Rory runs into roadblock after roadblock until one particular evening at an end-of-summer barbecue and bonfire.

This book had me hooked right from beginning to end. It was my first Diane Chamberlain novel and I've ordered 3 more of her books as this one was so good.

May 28, 2011

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Ten years ago, Piper Kerman was a young, reckless, carefree college graduate. Not knowing what else to do with her life she made some decisions and those choices have finally caught up to her. Ten years prior she delivered a suitcase of drug money to Europe never dreaming she'd be caught, especially after all this many years.

Sentenced to 15 months in the Danbury, Connecticut prison for women she was now prisoner #111187-424, just one of the millions of people incarcerated in the United States each year.

On February 4, 2004, 10 years after she committed her crime, Piper's boyfriend, Larry, drove her to the prison and kissed her goodbye for the final time. Together they walked inside, took a seat and waited. It wasn't long until a guard with a nasty scar down the side of her face and neck barked out: "KERMAN!" and thus began Piper's first day of incarceration where she'll meet women from all walks of life, experience her first strip search, and learns how to navigate her strange new world.

Heartbreaking, hilarious, and at times enraging, Kerman's story offers a rare look into the lives of women in prison.

May 24, 2011

Friday, May 20, 2011


NOTE**** I have typed this review in a different colour in the hope that it will make people read this "important" review, for the sake of one little girl and the many others that the proceeds from her short autobiography of 178 pages will help! If you have purchased this book and read it, THANK YOU!!

The country of Yemen lays at the southernmost tip of the Arabian Peninsula, washed by the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. Yemen is steeped in years of history where "adobe turrets perch on the peaks of settled mountains. Yemen is also the realm of the "Queen of Sheba" who was a woman that inflamed the heart of King Solomon with her strength and beauty. Yemen is beautiful and well-known for its oil; they say their honey is worth its weight in gold; and archaeologists come to Yemen to study the architecture of its ruins. Yet Yemen has suffered through a series of civil wars and unified in 1990, but the nation still suffers from the old wounds left by these many conflicts. It leaves one to ponder just who makes the laws in this strange land, where many girls and boys beg in the streets instead of going to school.

The President of Yemen often has his photograph displayed in windows of shops, but power also "lies with tribal chiefs in turbans who wield enormous authority in the villages, whether its a question of arms sales, marriage, or the commerce of khat (a drug like substance chewed by the men)". But in Yemen homes, the law is laid down by fathers and brothers. And, so it was in this remarkable, turbulent country, barely 10 years ago, that a little girl named Nujood was born. She is a very tiny girl with parents and lots of brothers and sisters. Nujood loved to draw and colour and "fantasizes about being a sea turtle because she has never seen the ocean, and she shows her dimples when she smiles.

But, in February 2008, her dimples suddenly disappeared when her father told her she "was going to marry a man three times her age!" Nujood was married off a few days later at the tender age of 9. The man who married her had promised NOT to have sexual relations with her until she reached puberty and had her first period, but of course, he did NOT keep that promise. As a result the torture, abuse, and constant rapes Nujood withstood is utterly heartbreaking at best.

This is Nujood's story. A story of unbelievable sadness, pain, guilt, shame, and the courage of one little girl to change the future for herself and other girls her age. The proceeds from her book are going to finance her education in school, starting back in Grade 5. Please purchase this book and give this little girl what she truly deserves. The right to be educated and protected from those who seek to abuse her.

May 20, 2011

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Mellissa Fung, thirty-five-years-old, has been a long time journalist for CBC's 'THE NATIONAL' in Canada. As she was reporting on the effects of war in Afghanistan, she was leaving a refugee camp outside Kabul when she was grabbed by armed men saying they were Taliban. After stabbing her, stuffing her into the back of a car, she was driven to the desert and then forced to walk through mountains, bleeding profusely. Finally her kidnappers stopped and forced her into a hole in the ground where she lived for the next "28" days! The hole was hardly big enough to stand up or lie down in and she had her serious injuries to contend with as well. The only thing she had to eat was cookies and juice.

Mellissa, a brave young woman felt her best bet was to keep her captors engaged in some sort of dialogue thinking they'd come to know her better and take pity on her. She felt by endearing herself to them, they would come to think of her as a good friend, or even family as one of her captors eventually regarded her as "sister". She asked how to pronounce each of their names correctly, asked if they had families, taught them English words, and finally convinced them to promise her that they wouldn't shoot her!

This was an amazing memoir of one woman's courage, strength, and resilience to remain calm during a gruelling 28 day captivity. The writing is both compelling and deeply moving. I couldn't put this one down until I'd turned the last page.

May 19, 2011

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Life lessons indeed! Adriana Trigiani's Grandmothers, Viola and Lucy, were bright, intelligent, hard-working, sensible, but no nonsense women who taught Adriana lessons about life that will sustain her for many years to come. These two women were entrepreneurs who knew how to take risks and win. Even in the face of tragedy in their own families, the courage and immense strength these women shared is an inspiration to all who will read this book.

The morals and values learned from these two gracious women and the way in which they taught them is a testament to the indomitable spirit both women possessed. Their lessons reminded me of 'logical consequences', that is, if you don't wear a coat on a cold and snowy day then you're going to freeze to death but have no one to blame but yourself. If you forget to make your lunch before heading off to school or work then come lunchtime, you're going to be starving and drooling while watching your classmates and co-workers dive into their lunch boxes.

These two grand women carved a path for their beloved granddaughter, Adriana, to follow behind and glean from them their daring approach to life, family, love, work and overcoming tragedy and obstacles. This is the kind of book a lot of us wish we had the talent to write about our own grandmothers and the lessons they taught us. I know that I for one would love to have the gift of pen and word to write about my one very special Gramma.

Adriana has given us women a gift, she has shared her Grandmothers with us and allowed us to peek into their lives and listened to what she has learned along the way. EVERY WOMAN needs to read "LIFE LESSONS...!" Thank you, Adriana, for sharing your beloved Viola and Lucy with us, I feel truly humbled.

May 18, 2011

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


According to the author, this work of fiction was actually born out of a true story. Her great-grandfather "went fishing in North Carolina in 1913 and never came back. There was no bad weather or anything, but all his family found was his little fishing boat floating in the river. He didn't seem depressed and wasn't an unreliable person in any way. He just disappeared."

Eleven-year-old Hannah Legare and her forty-one-year-old father, Buzz, are out fishing on her Dad's flat bottomed aluminum boat. Even Tucker, the family dog, is on board for this excursion. Buzz was a doctor and always quizzing Hannah on little facts: "How many bones are in the human body?" "206", Hannah would reply. "How many cells?" "One hundred trillion", answered Hannah. She was a smart girl, a studious student and planned to become a doctor just like her Dad.

Daisy, Hannah's mother, is a responsible woman and mother to Hannah and her brother, Palmer, after their father, Buzz, disappeared 20 years ago. Everywhere Hannah goes she searches the crowds for her Dad but all she ever sees is different people with different body parts resembling her Dad. A man with his shoulders, another with his gait, and another with his nose, but she never finds "him" in one person.

Both Daisy and Pamer have let go, given up and moved on. After therapy and counselling her mother remarried within the year. Hannah has never quite forgiven her for that.

Hannah just has too many unanswered questions like: "How does one fall off a boat on a calm Spring evening? Why did no one else see her father out in the harbour, and why was he fishing on a Monday at twilight? And if he drowned, why was no body ever found, and why was the dog still there?" Hannah's persistence and constant looking caused a riff in the family so after high school Hannah felt it best to just leave. She has only been back to Charleston four times for Christmas and a funeral. She eventually met and married, Jon, but theirs isn't a perfect marriage by far.

This was a hilarious, affecting and wholly original tale of siblings trying to reckon with their flaws, featuring a heroine as exasperating, magnetic, and breathtakingly real as family itself. You'll love it!!

May 17, 2011

Sunday, May 15, 2011


I had no idea what to expect from this novel as I'd never heard of the author and didn't pick it out myself. My husband happened to be going through Costco on Friday and picked me up two books, one of which was this one. I'm pleased to say I was very pleasantly surprised. The book just captivated me and held my attention page after page after page.

Abby Mason and 6-year-old Emma Balfour were walking along Ocean Beach on a cold July morning in San Francisco. Emma was intently searching for sand dollars. Abby would soon marry Emma's father, Jake. Emma begged Abby to let go of her hand so she could better search for her precious sand dollars. With a promise to stay close-by, Abby let go. She picked up her camera from around her neck and took one shot, looked down to rewind and advance the film, looked up again to take Emma's picture, but she was gone! Just disappeared.

Jake was away for the weekend visiting old friends and returns immediately to face police questions, a polygraph exam, television reporters, and Abby. All he could say to her was: "How could you?"

Abby and Jake had met a year before when Abby was doing a slide-show at the high school where Jake taught philosophy, soccer, and American History. They made a date to meet the following evening at a Giants game.

Teachers, friends, neighbours, and complete strangers are frantically printing posters, manning telephone tip lines, organizing and participating in official and unofficial search parties with one common goal - to find Emma! Jake is barely holding himself together and Abby's feelings of guilt are physically, emotionally, and spiritually all consuming.

Desperate to try anything, Abby goes to see a hypnotherapist after a friend tells her someone aided in the capture of Ted Bundy, a real-life serial killer by seeing one.

"This is a riveting drama of how life can change in an instant, of a family torn apart by the search for the truth behind a child's disappearance, and of one woman's unwavering faith in the power of love."

May 15, 2011

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Lynn Austin once again captured the intracacies of compelling relationships in this historical fiction set in World War I. In THOUGH WATERS ROAR, Grandma Bebe, otherwise known as, Beatrice Aurelia Monroe, sets out to empower women in the world and ends up in jail for her support of Prohibition. After attempting to shut down a Saloon following the departure of her co-conspirators of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, Grandma Bebe sets about smashing whiskey barrels with an axe in order to set "men free from the slavery to alcohol." Although Grandma Bebe is a devout and faithful Christian, Lynn Austin shows us that even as faithful followers of God and His word, we are not perfect people and isn't hesitant to present us as we truly are regardless of societal thought that if you're a Christian, you're perfect. We are not flawless!

Grandma Bebe's grand-daughters, Alice (Allie), and Harriet each hold their own opinion of their Grandma's work. Allie, seen as a beautiful and soft-hearted charmer who believes women are the weaker sex, is too difficult a challenge for Grandma Bebe to change. Harriet however, with her "unruly brown hair", seen as a "plain child", is told by Grandma that she will have to rely on her "wits" to get her through her life because she has "no beauty", and challenges herself to spending her time "shaping" Harriet after witnessing her kick a boy. Harriet herself, doesn't want to be seen as a "...beautiful siren" like her sister Allie, end up in jail like her Grandma, or become a "dutiful wife" like her own mother, and ponders how she is to live her own life as a "modern woman." This becomes the very question that Harriet considers a few short years later when SHE lands in jail!!

Grandma Bebe's own mother, Hannah, has shared many of her Christian beliefs with Bebe over the years, one of which was the "...secret of live each day as if it was a gift. God gives us that gift every morning when the sun rises...each new day God gives us that gift and we must ask God what He wants us to do for Him that day and by doing so we find contentment."

When Harriet was 11-years-old, Grandma Bebe had taught her how to change a blown tire after they were trapped on a dark road, alone at night. Harriet was shocked that her Grandma even knew how to do this and asked why she didn't just flag someone down to help them? It was those words on that day that Harriet would remember when she refused to call someone to bail her out of jail a few years later. Grandma Bebe had told her: "Only women in fairy tales want to be rescued."

Throughout the story as Grandma Bebe teaches and shapes Harriet, many lessons emerge that set the tone and prepare Harriet to carry forward in her own life. Harriet learns that it doesn't matter what we do or what we accomplish while we're here on earth, but we "become". Not to become bitter people when things don't go the way we intend them too because "bitterness is like a have to dig down deep inside to destroy the roots...let God search your heart and allow Him to show you what is there and help you root out the bitterness."

May 14, 2011


Baba Segi is a chubby, worthless but successful middle-aged man. His appetite for food, women, and sex are insatiable and is head of a house full of four wives: Iya Segi, Iya Tope, Iya Femi, and Bolanle. Each wife has her own quirky personality: Iya Segi was Baba's first wife who wields her power over the other wives, was malicious and would stop at nothing to preserve her position as the favoured wife and ruler of Baga Segi's home; Iya Tope was Baba's second wife who was bashful and timid. She was a decent woman whose hunger for life overshadowed her fears; Iya Femi was Baba Segi's third wife with expensive tastes and was a glutton for all things she desired no matter the cost; Bolanle is Baba's fourth and final wife and unlike the other women, Bolanle is an educated and intelligent woman who must put up with unkind words from the other three wives. Their jealousy of Bolanle is palpable. One day the other wives make some food meant for Bolanle but one of the other wives' children ate it and died! Will Baba Segi find out about this?

Baba Segi was deeply disturbed that Bolanle wasn't able to produce him any children like his other three wives and forces her to see a doctor. This turns out to be Baba Segi's undoing.

This was a fabulous story with well developed characters and plot lines. I would recommend it for everyone.

May 14, 2011


This is a brilliant coming-of-age story which follows thirteen-year-old Robert as he grows up in the pre-Civil war era of the Southern United States. Robert is such an innocent boy who loves his mother, father, and his best friend William Henry. Robert's mother, Caroline, views slavery as normal and Robert takes this same view as his best friend, William Henry, is a free slave, so Robert's compassion for the slaves is palpable. When he witnesses the atrocity of a slave having his foot axed off, Robert can barely stand-by and watch these things happen and not do anything to help.

His father, Charles, disappears at night and Robert has no idea why or where he is going until he learns that William Henry understands very well what these late night jaunts are all about. But other people consider William Henry a nothing because he is a free black slave. Robert couldn't figure out: "...why a man who worked from dawn til dark as hard as his Pa did would want to go traipsing off in the middle of the night. He never took a lantern off the hook..."

As Robert matures and continues to witness the terrible violence the slaves must endure, he realizes he himself must finally decide how he truly feels about slavery and whether he wants to go against the grain of most of his family members on this issue.

Once Robert learns his father is involved with the Underground Railroad and his mother's opposition to slavery, he realizes he must take a firm stand one way or another and he very soon is presented with the opportunity to find out. But Robert is conflicted between family loyalty and doing what he believes is right.

Ms. Gohlke's writing ability is nothing short of genius! It is so descriptive that I felt like I was morphed into the pages of the book and was a silent and invisible member of the family watching and listening to what was going on. This is one of the best books I've read in a while and would highly recommend this to everyone. The sequel to this is titled: "I Have Seen Him In The Watchfires" which continues Robert's story and I'm anticipating it's going to be as good as this first one is.


Neela and Navi live with their Grandmother in the town of Marasaw as their own mother, Mari, is living in another country trying to make money to send home. Grandmother is a strict disciplinarian always warning Neela to stay away from boys and not allow them to touch her lest she end up like her own mother, pregnant and out of wedlock.

Navi is an extremely intelligent boy whose mathematical abilities awe everyone who meet him. Summing up complicated math problems in his head without much thought garners him a position in the yearly math contest.

Marasaw has nothing to offer anyone in the way of employment and certainly not for teenagers. Neela meets and swoons over her boyfriend, Jaroon, and when the government promises to allow young women to come and teach at their "school" in a remote area called: 'Nasee-Ki', Neela sneaks off in the middle of the night without telling her grandmother or her brother Navi, and Jaroon promises Neela he will follow her shortly.

Arriving in Nasee-Ki, Neela soon realizes she's made a grave mistake for there is no school, only a concrete pad to teach the children at and the area is surrounded by soldiers who are unpleasant at best and mean. The only teacher there is Karha who offers bribes of cigarettes to the soldiers to bring her reading texts for the children of this under-developed town.

Jaroon finally arrives in Nasee-Ki and quickly becomes well respected by the soldiers and is soon guarded from any type of harm. Jaroon is using young boys from the school to conduct his dirty work, stealing beer and cigarettes. Neela has no idea that Jaroon is using her own students to do this until two young boys are found shot to death at the edge of the bush. She soon finds herself pregnant with Jaroon's child and confronts him about using these young and innocent boys to conduct his dirty work, Jaroon slaps her and tells her NEVER to speak back to him again. Neela becomes frightened of Jaroon and begins to make plans to escape Nasee-Ki and return to Marasaw. Before her departure she gives birth to her daughter, Seetha, whom Jaroon tries to steal from her in camp.

Does Neela make it out of camp? Does she get back to Marasaw? Does Jaroon manage to kidnap Seetha?'ll have to read the story to find out because I'm not going to ruin an EXCELLENT book for you!

This was a riveting page-turner that held my attention right from the first page and for a debut novel it was excellent! I look forward to other novels by this author.

May 14, 2011

Friday, May 13, 2011


Thrity Umrigar's "THE SPACE BETWEEN US" is a novel of moral integrity, social/class division, emotional isolation, profound passion, and intimacy.

Bhima is a 65-year-old widow raising her 19-year-old grand-daughter Maya alone, living in a hut in the slums where filth and hunger are a daily occurrence. Bhima's dream is to create a better life for Maya.

Bhima has cooked, cleaned and cared for the Dubash family for many years. Sera Dubash, the lady of the house, is an upper-Parsi woman who is now widowed. Sera endured years of physical abuse from her husband Feroz while trying to shelter and protect her only child, Dinaz, from witnessing the cruel behaviour of her father.

Sera and Bhima form an intimate bond and an understanding despite their extreme difference in social class after Sera nurse's Bhima back to health from a bout with typhoid fever. Bhima repays Sera through her continued loyalty and Sera in turn, pays for Bhima's grand-daughter, Maya, to attend college.

Sera's only child, Dinaz, and her husband Viraf move home with Sera so she won't be alone. Sera spends much of her time doting on Dinaz who is pregnant with her first child and talking with Bhima while she cleans.

Maya becomes pregnant by a man she refuses to name, crushing Bhima's hope of a better life for her. Bhima's immense disappointment and anger toward Maya causes her to physically lash out at Maya. With no money or education in such matters, Bhima turns to her friend Sera who arranges and pays for an abortion which deepens the intimacy and bond these two older women share. The relationship between two families of two different social orders is a testament to the intimate relationships woman can create with each other regardless of environmental, social, spiritual, or educational background.

An unexpected twist presents itself in this long-standing relationship between Sera and Bhima which proves that blood is thicker than water. Without ruining the story, I will say I was deeply saddened by this sudden turn of events.

Ms. Umrigar has given us an achingly beautiful, mesmerizing, and engrossing story of culture, intimacy, and bonding between social class. Both Sera and Bhima are women shaped by suffering who find a common thread in each other. How is it possible for two women from such starkly different backgrounds to capture and cultivate a bond such as that shared by Sera and Bhima? In "THE SPACE BETWEEN US" , Umrigar weaves a compelling story of two unforgettable women and their struggles, their crises, their triumphs, and the captivating tale of their lives intertwined by need, circumstance, and intimacy.

May 14, 2011


Samantha and Penny are sisters and Penny lives at home with her mother in Vancouver, British Columbia. Samantha has just flown in from Montreal where she has been living for the past 6 years and is feeling a bit jet lagged as she enters the yard at the back of the house. There is a crackling fire ablaze in the backyard and her mother is burning all her grandfather's old, wolly clothing. She is just champing-at-the-bit and orders Samantha inside to help her sister. There are 3 other sisters in the family: Wendy, Jackie and Daisy of which Samantha is the youngest.

Penny is on her hands and knees in her grandfather's room ripping up the old red carpet that he brought with him from his apartment in Chinatown when he moved in. Mother is in a hurry to get rid of grandfather's "junk" before Penny and Adam get married so (in her terms), "quickly" and tells her she is an: "inconsiderate girl!" Penny doesn't understand why mother is so upset, after all she has been engaged for a month and grandfather has been dead for ten years! She's had 120 months to clean out his room. Penny figures her mother thought grandfather's death wasn't as important or as lucky as their father's because it took her only one weeek to burn everything of his!

While cleaning out his dresser, Samantha finds a yellowed document, cracked with age that read: "Chan Seid Quan...June 27, 1913 arrived at Vancouver, B.C. on the Empress of India." She knew he kept this because he never wanted to forget when his new life began. He owned a barber shop in Chinatown.

From here, the story turns to grandfather and his arrival and struggles in Canada; his first job, his return trip to China to wed Shew Lin, and again for the birth of each of his 3 children; his trek back to Canada, and his takeover of the barber shop he would both own and work in for the rest of his life.

I wasn't sure at first whether I was going to like this story or not but surprise, surprise, it provided such deep and insightful information about each of the characters that I was totally taken aback. The novel provoked contemplation and emotions without effort. A quick read and a beautiful story.

May 13, 2011

Thursday, May 12, 2011


Lati Bai is on her 7th pregnancy and will this time give her baby to her youngest daughter, Sneha. Lati Bai's oldest daughter, Mamta, should by rights, be the receiver of this baby, but she is soon to be married and according to Lati Bai: "her mind should be on other things." Mumta is 20-years-old and a constant reminder to her father what a failure he is. Lati Bai had her first daughter at the tender age of 15 and has become accustomed to her body, how it works, and how long it will take to birth each baby. Mamta is more excited about her upcoming wedding but helps her mother don her oldest sari, the one she can cut into rags: "...for the forty-day bleeds".

The majority of women in the village hire the expensive midwife, Kamla, but not Lati Bai for she has birthed all of her babies on her own and this one will be no different! Clutching her roll of brown paper Lati Bai heads to her mustard field to her lucky patch of ground and prays to "Devi", the goddess of her clan to give her a boy. This patch of ground is where she found her beautiful golden bangle bracelet. Ahh, she feels it now, the warmth of the baby's liquid running down her thighs and knows it won't be long now. Birthing pain after birthing pain, Lati Bai finally feels the baby's head. She pulls gently and out pops a beautiful, black-haired baby girl! She takes out her husband's hunting knife and cuts the cord.

Lati Bai can see her city from the distance, the City of Gopalpur, India and thinks about the swirling winds churling up around her and how each family must re-build or re-patch their homes each time a storm blows their way. The villagers pack dung and reeds together to patch holes and cracks. The most permanent material they have is wood but they save that for the ploughs.

Lati Bai has been walking for a long time now, the shame of birthing a female has propelled her in the wrong direction. She realizes a severe storm is coming and must get home before it starts. She turns, lowers her head, faces into the wind and begins to plod toward Gopalpur. She reaches home but does not see her family: her father, her husband and 4 children. She lifts the flap and enters, disappointed to find her daughters are not at home. Her husband, Seeta Ram, is demanding dinner and she busines herself making daal and chapattis. He does not acknowledge Lati Bai's pain or the baby, so she only says: "Shanti, let's call her Shanti!" Now Seeta Ram is unhappy: "Not another girl", he says. Lati Bai responds: "We must accept what God gave us."

Mamta is the eldest of the 7 children born into a low-caste family and is female which is a disgrace in and of itself. Shunned and unloved by her father she is hoping her upcoming marriage will bring positive change into her life. Her mother, Lati Bai, has always loved her and says the best day of her married life was when she became pregnant with Mamta. Lati Bai tells Mamta that the first few months of married life are the best and to enjoy them. She told her to lay a good foundation with her husband and for her children, to work hard, even harder than she does at home. But the birthmark that dangles above Mamta's eyebrow, like a sign of: "disapproval from God", lends to her feelings of inadequacy. Lati Bai assures her that in another six days she will be married and that won't matter anymore. But in her father's eyes, Mamta has no right to exist at all, but deep down she hopes the day she is married will be the one and only time her father will be proud of her.

Once married, Mamta starts her new life as a wife with hope, but that hope is soon ripped away from her as she is forced to leave her village and the terrible nightmare of her arranged marriage. In her new city Mamta struggles to find a state of acceptance and to make peace with her past, but will this come with further hardship?

May 12, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


The story opens in The Wild Zone, a bar in South Miami, Florida where Kristin works as a bartender. Three men are sitting there enjoying a few drinks together: twin brothers, Jeff and Will Rydell, and their friend Tom. Will is a Harvard Graduate in Philosophy waiting to complete his dissertation. Kristin and Jeff have been living together for the past year.

Jeff and Tom have been best friends since high school, they enlisted in the army together and did several tours in Afghanistan. Jeff came home a decorated hero and Tom came back disgraced having been dishonourably discharged for an unprovoked assault on an innocent civilian. Neither Jeff nor Tom ever talked about it.

Will and Jeff hadn't seen each other in the nearly two decades Tom and Jeff were friends. Will had been nothing but a pain in Jeff's backside and they weren't real brothers, only step-brothers. They had the same father but different mothers. Ten days ago, Will showed up on Jeff's doorstep and since then it's been nothing but: "little brother this, little brother that." Secretly, Jeff wished Will would just pack his bags and head back to Princeton.

Sitting in the The Wild Zone bar together, the 3 men notice a beautiful woman sitting there alone drinking pomegranate martinis. They each bet $100.00 bucks that this mystery woman was going home on one of their arms. Kristin, Jeff's girlfriend, offers to chat with the woman first to see if she can at least get her first name. Kristin heads off to the woman's table, returns and reports to the guys that her name is Suzy, she recently moved to South Miami from Fort Myers and told Kristin she'd go home with Will. Needless to say, Jeff and Tom were not at all happy about the outcome.

Suzy Bigelow and Will chatted briefly over a drink before leaving the bar together. Tom was royally ticked that little Miss Suzy hadn't picked him and decided to follow them out of the bar just seething in anger! He spotted them, lost them, and wondered if they'd detected him and were now watching what HE was doing, after all he was dead drunk. Tom thought he'd show them a thing or two if they were hiding and watching him and pulled out a small hand gun from behind the silver buckle on his leather belt and hid it in his shirt.

Suddenly, Tom spots them again, follows them along the beach to an all-night movie theatre. They only last an hour watching the movie when Tom heard Suzy say: "That was too violent for me." Tom followed them back to Suzy's car where she quickly kissed Will goodnight and drove off.

Tom decided to follow Suzy in his car, although he knew his wife, Lainey, would be waiting at home for him at this late hour mad as a wet hen. But, too drunk, Tom didn't care. Finally Suzy pulled into a garage outside a house in a very exclusive neighourhood at 121 Tallahassee Drive. Unbeknownst to Tom (who is very drunk and puking outside the door of his car), waiting at the door is Dave, Dr. Dave Bigelow, Suzy's notoriously heavy-handed, abusive husband and he will treat Suzy no differently that night. Stunned and feeling sorry for Suzy, Tom heads back to find the guys and tell them what he's discovered about their beautiful mystery woman but Suzy isn't as naive as she seems. "And she has an agenda of her own. Soon another challenge is born only this one proves to be lethal. With its dark secrets, hidden passions and a story filled with intrigue, THE WILD ZONE will keep you in suspense until the very last page is turned.

May 10, 2011

Monday, May 9, 2011


Mary Beth Latham lives with her Opthamologist husband, Glen, and their three children: twin boys, Max and Alex, 14, and Ruby, 17. Mary Beth has prided herself on building her life around that of her family's. She owns a landscaping company and can be around whenever the kids need her.

At the beginning of the story, Ruby is dating Kiernan and busy trying to find a dress for the high school prom but it's proving to be a much more difficult task than her mother ever thought it would be. With so many dress choices Ruby just can't make up her mind. Ruby is finding Kiernan to be somewhat of a pain in neck lately and doesn't want to date him anymore or attend the prom with him, although Kiernan has other plans and he intends on hanging onto Ruby for as long as humanely possible. Ruby is snubbing him, giving him the cold shoulder, sitting in her bedroom alone doing homework while Kiernan sits in the kitchen waiting. Kiernan is not taking the hint.

In the meantime, Alex and Max are busy with school and sports until one afternoon Max arrives home with a note from his music teacher expressing his concern that Max appears to be deeply depressed. Mary Beth and Glen feel he is mistaken and chalk it up to typical teenage moodiness.

Kiernan continues to be a permanent fixture in the Latham household as his own home is anything but the "typical" he craves. He doesn't see his Dad much due to a divorce, doesn't talk much to his mother and has no brothers or sisters. He NEEDS Ruby and everything that she represents: an intact family, parents who love each other and their children, siblings, confidence, and happiness. Kiernan parks himself at the Latham home even when Ruby isn't there or upstairs bathing, listening to music, or completing homework assignments. Max and Alex keep pestering Beth as to why Ruby is being so mean to Kiernan.

Life is continuing on day-after-day until another teacher expresses their concern over Max's seemingly depressed mood so Mary Beth and Glen decide there could be more to it and arrange for Max to begin counselling with Dr. Vagelos when suddenly tragedy strikes and Mary Beth is blindsided by a: "...shocking act of violence."

This is such a normal family in every way and just goes to show that even though we think we are comfortable in our lives and that we're invincible, bloodshed can happen to ruin what we thought of as our own perfect little worlds. It's always the OTHER people in the newspaper, not us!

May 9, 2011

Saturday, May 7, 2011


NOTE****Robert Hough is a Canadian author.

Written as a fictional autobiography in the first person, 'The Final Confession of Mabel Stark' is a true life historical account of Mabel Stark who made a name for herself by becoming the world's greatest female tiger trainer during the early to mid-1900's when the circus was the most popular form of entertainment. Stark was a centre-ring act for the famous Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus.

Now 80-years-old, Mabel recounts her life and confesses to the proud and not so proud moments and events of her life, from a rebellious teenager growing up in Kentucky as Mary Hanie, through five marriages, and at least a dozen severe maulings by the very tigers she become world famous for training. Through the colourful and descriptive narration you feel as though you've been transported back in time and are there, with Mabel, observing from somewhere underneath the Big Top! You can almost smell the oil from the tiger's skin, breathe in the heady scent of the straw bales set out as seats for circus goers, and hear the crack of the tiger trainer's whip, and shouts of instruction to the animals!!

Mabel, a woman filled with love, courage, strength, tragedy, and adventure is not reluctant to show her abrasive sides. She is not a woman to hold her tongue or pussy-foot her way around etiquette and manners, and is not adverse to projecting her tough-as-nails persona, creating antagonism, or speaking about her sexually promiscuous exploits.

Robert Hough proves to us in this great piece of writing that even us imperfect flawed human beings can contribute to society in positive and remembered ways. Mabel's quick wit, sharp tongue and indelible stubbornness will leave you wanting to hear more of little Mary Hainie's life. I couldn't put this book down and didn't want it to end. I will certainly remember Mabel Stark for some time to come.

May 7, 2011


Jennifer Schribner-Snyder and Beth Fremont are best friends who work for "The Courier" newspaper, and wile their days away typing emails back and forth to each other although company policy absolutely prohibits this. Lincoln O'Neill is a young IT guy who has been hired to snoop into company computers to ensure no employees are breaking this rule. Although Lincoln realizes that it's too late because he's already got the job, but the newspaper ad was rather misleading: "Full-time opportunity for Internet Security Officer. $40k. Health. Dental." Lincoln was under the impression that he'd be scanning company computers looking for hackers and protecting the company, not reading boring "prohibited" emails between co-workers and friends. Instead, he found himself sending out memos every time somebody in: "Accounting sent an off-colour joke to the guy in the next cubicle."

The program the company installed: "WebFence "flagged nasty words, racial slurs, supervisors names, words like secret and classified." It also flagged large attachments suspiciously long messages, and frequent messages between the same people. Poor Lincoln, for everyday hundreds and hundreds of these illicit emails were sent to a secure mailbox, and it was his job to read and follow-up on every one! Lincoln hated it. He felt it was wrong and that he was eavesdropping, which of course he was. The worst part of this whole crazy job for Lincoln was that all the staff knew he was hired to do this and they all despised him which made him feel terrible because lets face it; Lincoln was a heck of a nice guy but he needed the job just like anyone else. And, pretell, what did Lincoln do during slower periods? Surf the internet of course!!

Now, the only problem Jennifer and Beth have with this whole new office policy is that they are "journalists", "free speech warriors" who don't fall under the radar of this so-called new company policy so their fingers fly, nine to five without a care in the world!!

Jennifer was a "Features Copy Editor" and Beth was an "Entertainment Copy Editor" writing about upcoming movies, which ones to see, which ones to steer clear of and which were good, bad, or otherwise.

Lincoln liked Beth and hadn't bothered sending the half dozen, at least, warning memos he should have, and now that he's let it go this long, how can he do that now?

Lincoln has also recently moved back into his Mom's house and she is insisting on babying him. She makes fairly elaborate meals for his dinner like tandoori chicken and chicken paprikash because he works nights, not days "like normal people." And according to her, interfering with his sleep because he's not out in the sun during the day soaking up the vitamin D for his good health. And, for heaven's sake, she reminded Lincoln, she didn't even allow him a night-light on when we was a kid because it messed with his levels of melatonin which regulated his sleep!

This was a quick, light-hearted, witty read with unimaginable quirky characters. And with just the right touch of sarcasm and wit, this makes for a pleasant afternoon read!

May 7, 2011

Friday, May 6, 2011


Little Tessa Riley is a tiny, diminutive twelve-year-old girl who barely stands four feet tall. She was born with hands the size of small plums and fingers like star fish. She is far too small to help on the family farm harvesting potatoes and corn. Tessa can't even hold one large potato with both hands. Her mother, father, sister, and two brothers, all think she is a freak. They call her mean and cruel names like: munchkin, tramp, and black-haired Jezebel. Her mother forces Tessa to hang from a curtain rod for hours on end in the hope it will somehow stretch her body so she'll be less of a freak.

Her father is a loud, gigantic man who likes to Lord his power over those who are weaker than he is. Her meek mother runs around clutching rosary beads but isn't Catholic and spends each evening bent over the table reading her Bible.

Tessa had heard there was a new librarian in town who seemed to have a strange affect on the men, including her own father. After lunch one day, Tessa decided to climb down from her stretching rod and run her way to town in the hope of seeing the woman without getting caught by her father.

Sitting on the front steps of the Oakley, Kansas City library, Tessa was trying to decide whether she should go inside or not. She looked up and there was the most beautiful woman she had ever seen and the woman was staring right at her! The woman had striking blue eyes, brown freckled skin, and long, black, wavy, shiny, hair. Mary Finn the librarian turned her cat like eyes on Tessa and invited her inside the library with her. Tessa was thrilled. Once inside, Tessa thought Mary smelled of: "...the spices my mother baked oranges in." Her wrists were adorned with jingly bracelets and she wore a long flowing skirt.

Mary chatted with Tessa for a bit and Tessa was so endeared to Mary that she ended up spilling her guts about her terrible home life and body stretching. Mary felt so sad for Tessa and made her a special blend of her tea and promised to teach her how to read and write. Before she left that day, Mary had taught Tessa how to spell her name. Tessa watched various women come into the library in disguise to talk secretly to Tessa about their various problems. Tessa would read the Tarot cards and send them home with a little cloth bag filled with special herbs and spices. The woman believed she was witch with special powers. When Tessa left the library that day, Mary was beside herself with worry what her father would do if he found out that Mary had been there.

The following day, Mary told Tessa that she used to be part of of a circus which made Tessa's eyes go wide. She was part of the "Velasqueze Circus" from Mexico, and they were famous! This new news only endeared Tessa all the more to Mary, especially when she learned that Mary flew on the trapeze!!

That evening in bed Tessa was bursting at the seams just dying to share this new knowledge with someone. As she lay in her bed she decided to confide in her sister, Geraldine, after making her promise that she would tell no one. Geraldine was totally excited as she knew who the "Velasqueze Circus" was because they had come to Kansas City the previous year. Geraldine told Tessa that she thought Mary looked like a Princess. Tessa replied that she did too and wanted to be just like her! Geraldine began a cruel laugh, a horrible guffaw, telling Tessa that she could never be like Mary Finn because she was far too ugly and a freak. Feelings of shame enveloped little Tessa and she hid under her bed covers for the rest of the night listening to Geraldine still snorting in laughter.

Mary and Tessa became fast friends well into Tessa's teenage years. They shared their joys, their sorrows and secrets until a terrible tragedy occurred changing the course of Tessa's life forever as she runs off to join the circus!

You simply won't believe what happens to little Tessa Riley from Oakley, Kansas once she finds the circus. A world filled with wonder and awe like following the yellow brick road. This debut novel is simply a masterpiece.

May 6, 2011

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Please Note*** There are NO spoliers. The recipes/ghosts is given away in the synposis on the dust jacket.

Ginny Selvaggio is twenty-six-years-old and attending the funeral of both her parents on a cold December day in Philadelphia. She lives alone in the family home, now that both her parents are gone. Her older, domineering sister, Amanada and her husband, Brennan, and their two daughters, Shannon and Parker, live in Jersey. Ginny has Asperger's Syndrome which is a rare and relatively mild autisitc disorder characterized by an awkwardness in social interaction and by the development of restricted interests and activities.

The house is now crammed full of family and friends who have come to pay their respects to the two sisters who are now left alone with no parents. Ginny is feeling very uncomfortable and she cannot handle crowds of people, large or small and sneaks away to her safe place - the kitchen.

In the kitchen, Ginny can be who she is and feel what she feels when she feels it away from the scrutinizing eyes and words of her sister, Amanda. The kitchen provides for Ginny a safe place, the only space that she is very comfortable with. Along with that comes the cooking she does. "The methodical chopping, slicing, stirring soothe her anxiety and the rich aroma of ribollita, painstakingly recreated from her Italian grandmother's handwritten recipe, calms her senses.

Ginny is in the kitchen drowning out the sounds and chatter of the guests in the other room. Ginny pulls her grandmother's recipe for "ribollita" from its place and begins preparations to make the soup. She has the onions and garlic simmering, and she's gathering cans of tomatoes, beans, and rice among other things. Finally everything is in the pot and smells simply divine. As Ginny opens the silverware drawer to extract a spoon, she notices her. It's Nonna, sitting on the step stool next to the refrigerator! But Nonna has been dead for twenty years. Nonna is definitely there, not a figment of Ginny's imagination and Nonna is wearing what she wore in 1991, and Ginny wonders if she's hallucinating.
"Hello uccellina." she says. Uccellina means "Little Bird" and that is what Nonna called her.
"You are surprise?" says Nonna. "But you bring me here. Don't be afraid." she says.
"Nonna, what's going on? Why are you here?"
"You bring me with the smell of ribollita, and I bring message. I come to tell you: Do not let her!"
"Her? Who?" Ginny inquires.
Suddenly the folding doors to the kitchen flew open and in stomps Aunt Connie. But Nonna is gone. Ginny starts running through the crowds in the living room, feeling people touch her skin as she passes by. On the opposite side of the room she grabs the door handle to the closet, whips it open and jumps inside, slamming the door behind her. She sits on the floor and puts her hands inside her deceased father's rubber boots. Amanda storms to the cupboard and tells Ginny how silly this is and how bad it looks with all the guests present. But Ginny doesn't care and she's not coming out, at least not right now.

The next morning Ginny wakes up in her bed and the first thing that comes to her mind is Nonna's appearance in the kitchen yesterday and she's having a hard time coping with that. Poor Ginny, now she's worried that Grandpa Damson might appear on his front porch, or that her Dad's cousin, Olivia, the "rumoured suicide" will be waiting for her when she gets out of the shower, or that she'll meet Ma in the hall in the middle of the night, and she'll scold her and send her back to bed. Thinking a bit more, Ginny decides she must think of Nonna's appearance as a hallucination but Nonna's warning: "Do not let her." plays in the back of her mind.

While deciding what she should do, Ginny accidentally finds an old letter stuffed behind a lose brick written by her father to her mother - apologizing? The note looked to be about 30 years old and was very delicate. Now Ginny is doubly stumped, a message from Nonna "Do not let her" and now this letter from her Dad. What would her Dad ever have to apologize to her mother for and why would her mother think it necessary to keep this note for 30 years? These are far too many questions for Ginny's over-crowded brain so she decides she needs to go the kitchen and cook something to de-stress and calm her self down. This time she decides to make a martini to calm her nerves and picks up a recipe called: "The Georgia Peach" and there is no name on this recipe card so she feels safe. She assembles everything together, shakes the drink and pours it into a martini glass but it begins to over-flow. Just as Ginny is bending foward to take a sip before attempting to pick it up when a voice behind her booms:
"That doesn't look entirely dignified, but I admire your spirit!"
Ginny is stunned and flips the recipe card over and there IS a name on the back!
"Mrs. John Hammersmith?" asks Ginny.
"Oh, call me Necie please, she says.
Turns out Necie was one of her mother Caroline's best friends but she's been dead for many, many years. When Ginny tells Necie her mother too is dead, Necie begins to laugh saying:
" doesn't sound like such a tragedy to me, I'm dead too, a long time now."
Then she quickly faded as quickly as she had appeared. Ginny was a bit surprised that Necie didn't leave her a message like Nonna had done. However, Ginny has now discovered she can call ghosts from the past by making their recipes as long as they were written by hand. Whoever wrote the original recipe by hand, is the person who will appear from the past. Now poor Ginny is off and running, who else could she see? What else can she learn? She is so excited to have discovered this that she wants to run around the kitchen in circles, but doesn't because she is so awed at what she has learned about the recipes.

From here the story just keeps getting better and better with other various characters from the past appearing and a terrible tragedy occurs which will rip your heart strings out. Amanda and Ginny continue to bash heads over the sale of the house and Ginny discovers something about herself that she also believes has been passed down to one of Amanda's daughters, but Amanda refuses to hear anything about it and won't speak to Ginny.

Jael McHenry's debut novel is a blast from the past, so to speak and a lesson in what it means to accept the magic in our lives and to never, ever give up on what we know to be true, and above all, to honour who we are and where we came from. I recommend this book for anyone. This is definitely going in my permanent collection!

May 4, 2011

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Smoky Barret is a tiny four-foot-ten with a huge nasty scar on her face from an attack a few years before as a consequence of her job. For the past 12 years she has headed up a team of four, including herself, at the NCAVC (National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime) based in Quantico, Virginia. They're a special group called out to deal with the worst of the worst of the human race: child murderers, molesters, rapists, and the like.

Smoky lives with her boyfriend Tommy, a drop dead gorgeous Latin man who is an ex-secret service man, and her 13-year-old adopted daughter, Bonnie. Smoky and Tommy are in Hawaii for a team members beautiful outdoor wedding when suddenly squealing tires are heard and a woman is quickly shoved out of a car dressed only in a white nightgown. Now isn't it odd, or is it coincidence, that this woman would be dropped into the middle of a wedding attended by all FBI agents?

"A fingerprint check determines that she's been missing for nearly eight years. Her coldly efficient captor toyed with her mind and body, imprisoning her, depriving her of any contact with the outside world. As Smoky fits together the pieces of what remains of the victim's fractured life, a chilling picture emerges of a cerebral psychopath who doesn't take murder personally, never makes a mistake, follows his own sinister logic, and has set the perfect trap."

At one point, Smoky herself, becomes his captor and what happens in this story will blow your mind wide-open!! This was the most twisted, convoluted, page-turner I've read in quite some time. It's both thriller and mystery all rolled into one. You will physically feel the pressure building, your blood pressure will rise, you'll begin to sweat, chew on the bottom of your lip, and if you're reading, alone...your eyes will be flicking around your room. This novel was written with such confidence that it is almost blaring into your face. Don't miss this one, please!

May 3, 2011

Sunday, May 1, 2011


NOTE*** This is the second journal of "The Walk Series". The first was titled: "The Walk". "MILES TO GO" continues where "The Walk" left off. Book #3 will be released in April, 2012.

Alan Christoffersen, thirty-two-years old, is writing the second journal of his walk from a hospital bed. His plan to walk to Key West, Florida from Seattle, Washington was interrupted when he was mugged, stabbed, and left to die on the side of the road in Spokane, Washington. Sixteen weeks earlier, within a 5-week period, Alan lost his precious wife, McKale, his home, and his business. He decided to leave everything behind and go on a cross country journey - walking! He chose to walk to Key West, a 3,500 mile walk as it was the furthest spot on his map. But the unexpected attack has interrupted Alan's journey. He is facing months of hard recovery and has nowhere to live until he meets a woman, Angel, who is sitting beside his bed when he wakes up.

Alan had previously lived in a 2 million dollar home, was a highly successful advertising executive, and was married to his gorgeous and beloved wife, McKale. Alan's partner in his advertising business, Craig, stole his clients while he was at the hospital caring for McKale. After his business went under and he lost everything, he had his assistant, Falene, liquidate office furniture and other items and deposit the money in a bank account to finance his journey. In order to survive, he just packed up his belongings and started his trek.

This is a story of contrasts: "...about living and dying, about suffering and pain, about loss and emotions, and hope, despair, and healing." Alan doesn't know yet whether he's walking away from his past, or into his future.

Come with me on this walk as we follow along with Alan for this is truly an unbelievable walk and he learns important life lessons from the people he meets, and leaves them with a bit of his own wisdom.

May 1, 2011