Sunday, October 30, 2011


Story Description:

Camilla Gibb’s previous novel, 2005’s Scotiabank Giller Prize–nominated Sweetness in the Belly, was set mostly in Ethiopia. For her newest work, the author turns her attention to Vietnam. The novel’s central character, Old Man Hung, is an itinerant pho seller in Hanoi who has forged an extended family from the son and grandson of an illustrious poet. Hung has honoured the poet’s memory since the latter disappeared after publishing a politically charged magazine in the 1950s.

One morning, Maggie, a curator at a posh hotel in the new Vietnam, appears at Hung’s cart searching for information about her father, a dissident artist who vanished after the fall of Saigon. Maggie serves as the catalyst in the lives of Hung, whose history involves a difficult and painful journey through Vietnam’s tumultuous past, and the young man Tu’, who has had a much easier life working as a tour guide for vacationing Westerners.

The Beauty of Humanity Movement starts slowly. Gibb carefully sets up the many strands of the story, shuttling back and forth from present to past. She also provides a primer on the city’s iconic soup; the reader comes to understand that the history of pho mirrors the history of Vietnam and the trajectory of Hung’s life. At one point, Hung is so impoverished he is forced to make his noodles out of pond grass.

The novel is full of book-club friendly themes such as lost love, forgotten memories, changing values, displacement, and family. These themes work for the most part, but certain details, such as the inclusion of the Vietnamese version of American Idol, feel more like convenient devices than necessary parts of the story.

Gibb brings The Beauty of Humanity Movement to a poignant close, reconnecting the story’s disparate strands. However, certain earlier scenes – such as one in which Hung returns to his village to find it decimated by his own country’s soldiers – don’t quite come alive, and as a result the emotion of the story occasionally gets lost.

My Review:

I don’t think I could write a better review than what is already in the “story description” so I’ll leave it at that.  I didn’t really enjoy the story all that much to be quite honest.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Story Description: 

Nearly a century ago, in the Forbidden City, China’s last emperor reigned from his dragon throne. Although he was only a boy, the imperial decrees issued in his name echoed in every corner of the country. Every man had to shave his head and wear a single pigtail to symbolize his submission to the emperor, and every woman was second in importance to the men in her family. Women were obedient to their fathers and brothers and later to the husbands in their arranged marriages. Certainly no woman was encouraged to attend school or to show any independence.

Into this world, in a village in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, White Lily was born. She had a happy childhood, running and playing, until, at the age of four, she was forced to undergo the painful procedure of foot binding required for all females of her social class. But White Lily has her heart set on more than a traditional role in society, and she enlists the support of her beloved elder brother. Together they devise a plan to defy tradition and convince their father that White Lily’s feet and mind must be allowed to grow. 

My Review: 

At only 64 pages this was a quick read.  It’s a YA novel but packs a punch and is well written for such a short story. 

Friday, October 28, 2011


Story Description: 

Mia Rathbun is an overworked and underpaid Chicago social worker who belongs to PETA and recycles the tops of pizza boxes. Her boyfriend, Lars, is a free-spirited freelance writer (read: mooch) who disdains the conventions of marriage but is happy to build a life with Mia. That is until Mia becomes pregnant.

Left on her own, Mia just begins to accustom herself to the looming prospect of single parenthood when her mother, Babs, shows up to "help." The two have an estranged relationship but are forced to acknowledge their connection as Mia's belly grows and she has few other options. The story is told with Stuart's characteristic irreverent and authentic humour with healthy doses of poignancy and grace.

My Review: 

Ms. Stuart never fails to make you laugh and fall in love with characters that are so real they could be your best friend.  Mia is shocked to discover she’s pregnant and isn’t sure how to take it until she tells her live-in, moochy boyfriend, Lars.  When she thinks about it she decides she’s happy and tells Lars who appears less than pleased but is willing to go along with whatever Mia wants to do or does he? 

Enter Barbara, a.k.a “Babs”, fresh off the cruise ship from her job as a hostess.  Bad enough that Mia and Babs have endured an estranged relationship for years but it gets worse when Babs moves in to an apartment on the first floor of the same building as Mia.  Talk about a little too-close-for-comfort. 

As Mia’s pregnancy progresses, things begin to heat up until they boil over at shower hosted by Babs which Mia ends up walking out of. 

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll feel a real sense of kinship with STRETCH MARKS, don’t miss it!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011




To five-year-old Jack, Room is the world. . . . It’s where he was born. It’s where he and Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. There are endless wonders that let loose Jack’s imagination -- the snake under Bed that he constructs out of eggshells; the imaginary world projected through the TV; the coziness of Wardrobe beneath Ma’s clothes, where she tucks him in safely at night, in case Old Nick comes.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it’s the prison where she’s been held since she was nineteen -- for seven long years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in that eleven-by-eleven foot space. But Jack’s curiosity is building alongside Ma’s own desperation, and she knows that Room cannot contain either indefinitely. . . . Told in the inventive, funny and poignant voice of Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience -- and a powerful story of a mother and son whose love lets them survive the impossible.

My Review:

I don’t really know what to say about this book. I do know that I’m disappointed as I don’t think it lived up to all the hype and hoopla that was generated by the public, but then again, I’m only one person. Obviously this just wasn’t the book for me. I found it silly and boring to be quite honest. Enough said.


Story Description: 

T.J. has always looked out for his little sister, Angela. When Momma used to go out and leave them home alone, he'd lock the door so they'd be safe, keep Angela entertained, and get out the cereal and milk for her. When Momma's boyfriend got angry at them, he'd try to protect Angela. Later, at their foster homes, T.J. was the only one who knew how to coax his little sister out of her bad moods. The only one who understood why she made origami paper cranes and threw them out the window. But now T.J. is sitting in the waiting room at the hospital, wondering if Angela, unconscious after a fall, will ever wake up. Wondering, too, if he will ever feel at home with his and Angela's new parents--Marlene, who insists on calling him Timothy, and Dan, who seems to want a different son. Going back and forth between Now and Then, weaving the uncertain present with the painful past, T.J.'s story unfolds, and with the unfolding comes a new understanding of how to move forward. 

My Review: 

T.J. is sitting in the hospital emergency room waiting.  His little sister Angela had already been brought in by ambulance ahead of them.  Marlene and Dan were in with her now, but he was told to wait and that’s just what he’s doing. 

Angela had fallen twelve feet.  Marlene and Dan Westel had become T.J. and Angela’s ‘adoptive parents’ a year ago.  T.J. was 12 and Angela was 8. 

When T.J. was quite young, his mother Celia left him and Angela with her friend Tanya, he had just begun kindergarten and little Angela was still stumbling around in smelly diapers.  Celia told Tanya that she was just going to get her hair done but T.J. knew that was a lie.   He’d heard his Mom on the phone talking to a man making arrangements to meet at a bar.  However, Celia did not return to pick up T.J. and Angela that night or the next morning.  Tanya was angry as she had a job interview that morning and didn’t know what she was going to do with Celia’s kids. 

Tanya decides to leave 5-year-old T.J. alone to look after baby Angela and leaves the apartment.  He tried to get Angela cereal but she spilled it and began to cry.  She pooped in her diaper so T.J. took if off to try and clean it in the bathroom as there were no more clean ones left.  While he was doing that, Angela sat down with her bare bottom on the scratchy living room carpet and began crying louder because it hurt her diaper rash so badly.  Then she began banging her feet and fists on the floor which was interrupted by a banging on the apartment door.  T.J. was sure it would be his Mom so he opened the door to find a neighbour standing there: “Are you kids all alone here?”  The older woman came in, used the phone, then collected up Angela and gave her a bath.  Next thing T.J. knows is that two police officers are in the apartment just as Tanya returns home. Tanya tells police that Celia often left the kids alone.  T.J. and Angela are put into the police car and driven to a “blue house” where they lived about a year.  Thus begins their life of foster home jumping. 

As T.J. sits and waits in the waiting room of the emergency department he looks through his “life book” and reminisces about his and Angela’s lives so far.   T.J. had a lot of responsibility for a little boy while living with his mother, always feeling responsible for his sister and worrying about his mother.  The constant worry ate him alive. 

I was so enamoured with little T.J.  He was yet a little boy in many ways yet a strong, independent young man at other times.  I loved this book for its endearing qualities, good writing and good characterizations.  I would highly recommend it to anyone!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Story Description: 

Unto These Hills is an unforgettable novel of love, scandal, family, and roots by one of the most emotionally authentic authors of our time. Taking us into the deep South's Tucapau Mill Hill, it introduces us to the unforgettable Sunny Acklin. Betrayed, abandoned, and violated, Sunny faces one seemingly insurmountable challenge after another. But she never loses her spirit or the memory of the love that once so richly illuminated her world. As years go by, Sunny does everything she can to make something of her life until at last an opportunity arises, one charged with promise...and undeniable risk.   

From its vivid evocation of mill hill life to its pitch perfect rendering of the complexities of family and relationships, Unto These Hills is at once epic and intensely intimate. It is the richest novel yet from a writer who fluently speaks the language of our deepest feelings.

 My Review: 

Unto These Hills is set in the Deep South in a little place called ‘Tucapau Mill Hill’ and 15-year-old Sunny Acklin is dressed for the May Pole dance.  Sunny’s boyfriend, Daniel, is 16 and already a strapping 6 foot tall.  He and Sunny are planning to be married in the future.  Daniel lives across the street from Sunny just having moved in a few months ago.  Daniel was a foster child who came to live with the Collin’s family when he was 9-years-old.  In a few short months Daniel’s family became central to Sunny’s life. 

There is an abundance of other lovable characters in this story: 11-year-old Timmy and 9-year-old Sheila are Sunny’s younger siblings and 16-year-old Francine her older sister.  There is Dorthea Hicks, Daniel’s 16-year-old foster sister, 15-year-old Emaline who is Sunny’s best friend and Ruby and Robert Acklin, Sunny’s parents, to name a few.  Each character is well-drawn and their personalities shine through in this marvelously penned story. 

One afternoon Sunny’s Mom ducks into a store telling Dad, Sunny and her siblings to stay in the car because she is going in to buy them all a surprise!  But after waiting an inordinate amount of time for her to return, Robert gets out, enters the store but doesn’t see Ruby anywhere.  Mr. Mason the owner tells Robert that Ruby ducked out the back door and got into another car.  Sunny knew then that her mother was gone and not coming back.  Her mother was guilty of “sexual immorality” and “neglecting her kids”. 

Ruby Acklin’s name was worse than mud; it was “slime”.  She had run off with the village doctor who was 10 years younger than Ruby.  Each family member dealt differently with Ruby’s leaving.  Shortly after that their Daddy left too.  He went up north to hunt for a job leaving the kids in their Nana’s care.  Francine locked herself in her room and smoked cigarettes hidden under her mattress.  Little Timmy and Sheila hung off Sunny like extra arms and legs, but for Sunny, her mother’s leaving has left her feeling “…depleted in many ways”.  She felt a sense of “aloneness” each day and said it was a “defining time in my life, one that remained like a raw, open wound”. 

Sunny Acklin is such a lovable character who does absolutely everything she can to make her life something she can be proud of.  Finally an opportunity comes her way but is it what it seems? Will it lead to joy and jubilation or is she taking a risk? 

UNTO THESE HILLS was a joy to read, an epic tale rich in strong characterization and storyline.  I would highly recommend this to everyone and will definitely be reading more of Ms. Harvey’s work!

Monday, October 24, 2011


Story Description: 

A young boy emerges from life-saving surgery with remarkable stories of his visit to heaven. 

HEAVEN IS FOR REAL is the true story of the four-year old son of a small town Nebraska pastor who during emergency surgery slips from consciousness and enters heaven. He survives and begins talking about being able to look down and see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn’t know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear. 

Colton said he met his miscarried sister, whom no one had told him about, and his great grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born, then shared impossible-to-know details about each. He describes the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how "reaaally big" God and his chair are, and how the Holy Spirit "shoots down power" from heaven to help us. 

Told by the father, but often in Colton's own words, the disarmingly simple message is heaven is a real place, Jesus really loves children, and be ready, there is a coming last battle.  

My Review: 

A lovely and endearing story about four-year-old Colton Burpo who underwent emergency, life-saving surgery and miraculously slipped from his body and went to Heaven where he met Jesus.  Describing heaven as only a four-year-old who has been there can, is truly astounding.  He meets the sister he never knew he had and brought his parents comfort upon learning that it was a “girl” they had miscarried a couple of years before and never named her.  For his Gramma, always wondering whether her deceased husband had ever made it to heaven, brought great relief to her ongoing worry.   

It was a page-turner that I couldn’t put down and ended up reading it in one sitting.   This story just might win some non-believers over to the believer side.  I’d definitely read this one again just for the beautiful descriptions of heaven told by Colton to his family. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Story Description: 

One freezing winter morning a dead body is found in the backyard of the Dharma family’s house. It’s the body of Anu Krishnan.

For Anu, a writer seeking a secluded retreat from the city, the Dharmas’ “back-house” in the sleepy mountain town of Merrit’s Point was the ideal spot to take a year off and begin writing. She had found the Dharmas’ rental through a happy coincidence. A friend from university who had kept tabs on everyone in their graduating year – including the quiet and reserved Vikram Dharma and his first wife, Helen – sent her the listing. Anu vaguely remembered Vikram but had a strong recollection of Helen, a beautiful, vivacious, social and charming woman.

But now Vikram had a new wife, a marriage hastily arranged in India after Helen was killed in a car accident. Suman Dharma, a stark contrast to Helen, is quiet and timid. She arrived from the bustling warmth of India full of the promise of her new life – a new home, a new country and a daughter from Vikram’s first marriage. But her husband’s suspicious, controlling and angry tirades become almost a daily ritual, resigning Suman to a desolate future entangled in a marriage of fear and despair.

Suman is isolated both by the landscape and the culture, and her fortunes begin to change only when Anu arrives. A friendship begins to form between the two women as Anu becomes a frequent visitor to the house. While the children, Varsha and Hemant, are at school, Anu, Vikram’s mother, Akka, and Suman spend time sharing tea and stories.

But Anu’s arrival will change the balance of the Dharma household. Young Varsha, deeply affected by her mother’s death and desperate to keep her new family together, becomes increasingly suspicious of Anu’s relationship with her stepmother. Varsha’s singular attention to keeping her family together, and the secrets that emerge as Anu and Suman become friends, create cracks in the Dharma family that can only spell certain disaster.
My Review: 

TELL IT TO THE TREES wasn’t quite as good as Badami’s previous novels.  The subject matter and story were good but I somehow felt she rushed through the book to finish for some reason.  I also found her characters a wee bit lacking in substance and description and she could have spent more time developing the characters.  Aside from that, I would still recommend this as a fairly good read but I personally would not read this one again.

Friday, October 21, 2011


Story Description: 

On a crisp fall evening in western Nebraska, what started as a group of kids filming their drug-induced party ends in an explosive light show, leaving the victims apparently electrocuted, with odd scorch marks being the only evidence.  While Maggie tries to make sense of the different stories, sifting through what is real and what is hallucination, she realizes that the surviving teens are being targeted and systematically eliminated. 

Meanwhile, on the East Coast, Army Colonel Benjamin Platt is at the scene of a deadly outbreak, desperate to identify the pathogen that has infected children at a Washington, D.C., elementary school.  Despite the miles that separate them, the two cases collide as Maggie and Platt uncover the secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the remote Midwest landscape. 

My Review: 

Dawson Hayes was a geek who did odd things like wearing all black on Football Fridays when everyone else wore school colours.  He’d brought his Dad’s “taser” to the party in the Nebraska National Forest which made him feel powerful.  Dawson felt like he could do anything!  The taser was easy to use…just point, aim and bam! 50,000 volts of electricity would be delivered to the recipient and Dawson knew that he could control anyone and everyone with it. 

Johnny B. was a quarterback, homecoming king and was charming beyond words.  He liked to conduct “experiments” like the one he was doing tonight and his guest list at this party only included 7 people.  Dawson had already helped him set up the video camera amongst the trees where it couldn’t be seen.  All the kids, including Dawson and Johnny were chewing “salvia”, a more potent type of weed that Johnny said was like: “rock-‘n’-roll fireworks squeezing your brain, convincing you that you could fly.”  Johnny was secretly filming this drug-induced party. 

Dawson saw something among the trees, a pair of fiery red eyes that suddenly came running out of the brush racing straight at him.  He held up his arm, pointed the taser and pulled the trigger.  The creature moved backwards and fell and Dawson began running.  The branches in the bush tore his clothing, slashed his skin and he couldn’t see. He hit a wire, “hard”, and the jolt of electricity knocked him off his feet and by the time he had hit the ground, his shirt was slick with blood!!

Special Agent Maggie O’Dell of the FBI specialized in criminal behaviour and profiling.  She had advanced degrees in behavioural psychology and forensic science.  Her boss, Raymond Kunze had sent her to Nebraska to teach some classes but she ended up at the crime scene of the teenagers in the forest off Highway #83.  A group of teenagers had been severely injured, each with varying degrees and numbers of wounds.  One girl had a large bite mark on her arm but the absence of blood perplexed Maggie.  Then she tripped and fell her penlight rolling about 3 feet away from her in the brush.  She reached her light and the beam shone directly into the wide-open eyes of a boy who appeared dead.  Then he blinked!!  His body was wrapped in barbed wire.  Altogether there were 2 dead teenagers and 5 injured. 

What is going on in this forest?  Who or what has attacked these kids?  Well, hang onto your hats folks for this is one rollercoaster ride of suspense you don’t want to miss!  Alex Kava never misses the mark!

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Story Description: 

I collect words.  I keep them in a box in my mind…I’d like to keep them in a real box, something pretty, maybe a shoe box covered with flowered wrapping paper.  Whenever I wanted, I’d open the box and pick up the papers, reading and feeling the words all at once.  Then I could hide the box.  But the words are safer in my mind.  There, he can’t take them.   

Ten-year-old Kaylee Wren doesn’t speak.  Not since her drug-addled mother walked away, leaving her in a remote cabin nestled in the towering redwoods – in the care of a man who is as dangerous as he is evil.  With silence her only refuge, Kaylee collects words she might never speak from the only memento her mother left behind: a dictionary. 

Sierra Dawn is thirty-four, an artist, and alone.  She has allowed the shame of her past to silence her present hopes and chooses to bury her pain by trying to control her circumstances.  But on the twelfth anniversary of her daughter’s death, Sierra’s control begins to crumble as the God of her childhood woos her back to Himself.   

Brought together by Divine design, Kaylee and Sierra will discover together the healing mercy of the Word – Jesus Christ. 

My Review: 

I have never read a more sad story of abuse and have never felt so close to a character as I did little Kaylee Wren.  What a beautiful, innocent little girl whose life circumstances have thrown her into a world of silence.   

Kaylee was only 9-years-old when her mother, Kathryn, left her leaving her all alone with a horrendous man who lords his power over Kaylee and turns her into his own private play toy.  Kaylee likes to collect words that she finds in a dictionary that was given to her parents as a wedding gift.  Kaylee and her Mom used the dictionary often to look up words they didn’t know or understand.  The dictionary makes Kaylee feel like part of her Mom is still there with her and takes special care of it so “he” won’t find it and take it away from her. 

When Kaylee meets Sierra, an equally damaged soul, the two of them form a bond of trust, respect, love, and the belief that together they can conquer all things through Jesus Christ.  However, the road to healing is a long and exhaustive one that comes with many, many pitfalls that must be traversed forward and sometimes backwards before moving on to a higher understanding of their positions and circumstances in this life. 

The characters were so well developed in this story that I felt I was living with Sierra and Kaylee and could picture in my mind’s eye the house, Kaylee’s bedroom, Van the dog, their backyard and everything else involved in this story.  My emotions were played like a flute in a concert while reading this book and it’s a story I won’t ever forget.  The unfortunate part is that there are many, many Kaylee Wren’s in this world and not all of them are fortunate enough to find someone like Sierra.  It breaks my heart to think of the number of children, who at this very moment while typing this review, are being abused in some form.  Abuse, whether it be physical, sexual, verbal, financial doesn’t matter, abuse is a cancer in our society and I pray that someday it can be eradicated.  No one deserves to live a life of abuse and the damage and fear it causes.  This book really touched my heart and to the author, Ginny L. Yttrup, I’d like to say “thank you” for having the courage to write WORDS, your own life story but injecting Kaylee as the character instead of yourself.  I’m sorry for the horror you faced as a child and I wish you all the best in your future endeavours.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Story Description: 

I was perfectly content with my life – that is, until the pages of my story were ripped out before I had a chance to live happily ever after. 

Alice Grace Ripley lives in a dream world, her nose stuck in a book.  But the happily-ever-after life she’s planned on suddenly falls apart when her boyfriend breaks up with her, accusing her of living in a world of fiction instead of the real one.  To top it off, Alice loses her beloved library job because of cutbacks due to the Great Depression. 

Longing to run from small-town gossip, Alice flees to the mountains of eastern Kentucky to deliver five boxes of donated books to the tiny coal-mining town of Acorn, a place with no running water, no electricity, and where the librarians ride ornery horses up steep mountain passes to deliver books.  When Alice is forced to stay in Acorn far longer than she planned, she discovers that real-life adventure, mystery – and especially romance – may be far better than her humble dreams could have imagined. 

My Review: 

Wonderland Creek is a beautiful and engaging story that I will remember for a long time to come.  Never before have I been so enamoured with the characters and felt such a kinship to all of them.  From the least written about characters to the main characters, I found something within each of them that held me near and dear. 

It is 1936 and twenty-two-year-old Alice Grace Ripley has been a librarian at the Blue Island Library in Illinois, Chicago for a year and a half until Mrs. Beasley, the head librarian, makes an unsettling announcement at an early morning meeting.  The board of directors have said that library operating costs must be cut due to the “prolonged economic depression” and library hours would be cut and some staff would be let go.  The last person hired would be first to leave and that was poor Alice!  Now Alice has lost both her beloved job and her boyfriend, Gordon T. Walter, after he was miffed at her for reading a book during a funeral.  Alice was quite astounded when Gordon broke up with her right there and then, on the spot, telling her she lived in a world of dreams, not in the real world and off he walked and left her standing there, alone.  Alice didn’t mention the break-up to her parents that night at dinner thinking that Gordon just needed time to cool off but she was wrong. 

Alice’s mother was a “saintly” woman and her younger sister, Lydia, was referred to as “fragile”.  Lydia and her husband Cecil had money and an enormous home even during the depression years but no one knew where their money came from.  Alice was convinced that Cecil must be mixed up with one of Chicago’s gangsters!  Aunt Lydia and Uncle Cecil were taking a road trip to Kentucky to visit a spa for a few days in March.  Since Alice had lost her job at the library, she asked if she could hitch a ride with them so she could deliver in person, the five boxes of books and magazines she’d collected to donate to the poor people in a little place called Acorn, Kentucky, and they could pick her up on their way back for the return trip home.  Alice arrives in this little podunk place known as “Acorn” but it wasn’t at all what she was expecting nor was Leslie MacDougall, the librarian!  Nothing about this town or its people was what anyone would expect. 

Alice ends up having the adventure of her life…no more dream world, Alice is about to face a stripped bare reality so startling and so real that the life lessons she will learn will stay with her the rest of her life, and yours! 

For me, Wonderland Creek was a book I couldn’t put down until I was done.  You are simply going to fall in love with these characters.  Thank you, Lynn Austin, for providing me with the best reading hours I’ve had since your last book!!!  You’ve done it again! 

***Preview copy courtesy of the author and Bethany House Publishers, with thanks!***

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Story Description: 

Thirteen-year old Lizzie Hood and her next door neighbour Evie Verver are inseparable. They are best friends who swap bathing suits and field-hockey sticks, and share everything that's happened to them. Together they live in the shadow of Evie's glamorous older sister Dusty, who provides a window on the exotic, intoxicating possibilities of their own teenage horizons. To Lizzie, the Verver household, presided over by Evie's big-hearted father, is the world's most perfect place. 

And then, one afternoon, Evie disappears. The only clue: a maroon sedan Lizzie spotted driving past the two girls earlier in the day. As a rabid, giddy panic spreads through the Midwestern suburban community, everyone looks to Lizzie for answers. Was Evie unhappy, troubled, upset? Had she mentioned being followed? Would she have gotten into the car of a stranger?

Lizzie takes up her own furtive pursuit of the truth, prowling nights through backyards, peering through windows, pushing herself to the dark center of Evie's world. Haunted by dreams of her lost friend and titillated by her own new power at the center of the disappearance, Lizzie uncovers secrets and lies that make her wonder if she knew her best friend at all.
My Review: 

I felt so badly for Lizzie throughout this story.  She missed her friend Evie so very much after she disappeared and talked to her regularly, got up in the middle of the night to go on these neighbourhood sojourn’s searching for clues as to her disappearance.  Lizze also has feelings of sadness and regret for Evie’s father, Mr. Verver who was always so kind to the two girls often playing games with them and taking them places.  I don’t think she can really understand his pain. 

Lizzie’s own pain is palpable and you can’t help but feel like transposing yourself into the pages of the story to help her look and walk the streets hand-in-hand.  Her focus on the one man she thinks took Evie almost becomes all consuming to her and she remembers the car and knows it is his. 

This was an enjoyable yet sad in a good way read and I would highly recommend it to anyone.  I wish I could tell you the ending of the story but you’d all scream at me if I did that! 

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Story Description:  

A film noir atmosphere weaves through this unabashedly political novel that addresses issues of abortion and free speech. Levine (Henry’s Freedom Box) evokes nostalgia for an era of multigenerational families living together, Automats, soda fountains, and Bogart films, while emphasizing the power wielded by social taboos. Sixteen-year-old Jamie tells the parallel stories of two teenage pregnancies in McCarthy-era New York City and her father’s recent imprisonment for political activism. In a first-person narrative that focuses on Jamie’s feelings of helplessness and anger, she reports occasional thoughts or memories that frighten her as if writing a screenplay: “Tight close-up on striped shirt with bull’s-eye on back.” When her friend Elaine gets pregnant by her boyfriend, she imagines they will get married, though Elaine’s ashamed Catholic parents have other ideas. Jamie’s pregnancy results from a violent rape; terrified of confiding in her family, she attempts various “remedies,” such as drinking vodka and throwing herself down the stairs. Encouraging historical awareness and personal empowerment, an author’s note compares 1956 attitudes about women and abortion with the present, noting that obtaining a legal abortion has become increasingly difficult. A gripping, relevant read. Ages 12–up. 

My Review: 

Seventeen-year-old Elaine becomes pregnant in the 1950’s during a time when girls are blamed for the pregnancy.  The guys were rarely even thought of and the girl was usually slapped with labels such as: slut, whore, loose woman, and considered dirty.  In typical fashion from that era, Elaine’s parents force her to sign documents to turn the baby over to Catholic Children’s Services when the baby is born although Elaine wants to marry Neil and keep the baby.  Her best friend Jamie is raped by a friend of a cousin who takes her to a wine tasting party and although asked to “stop” many times over, he didn’t.  How the parents of these girls handled their pregnancies were quite different.  

Abortion was illegal and often time girls would try to end the pregnancy themselves, at times ending up bleeding to death or doing so much harm to themselves as to prevent any further pregnancies in the future and carrying a baby to full term.
Ellen Levine has penned a novel about a very delicate subject during a delicate time in history and I would encourage all young girls and guys between the ages of 12 and 18 to read it.  It also makes for good reading for parents as well.


Story Description: 

What if the best morning of your life suddenly turned into your worst nightmare?  Sam Case is about to find out.  Saving Rachel is the story of what happens when killers force a man to choose between his wife and his mistress…and the one he rejects must die.  But wait – all is not as it appears to be.  In fact, nothing is what it appears to be! 

Saving Rachel is a scary, funny, roller coaster ride through hell, with twists and turns that will slap your face and suck you in! 

My Review: 

This story had me pulled in right from the beginning.  This was definitely some riveting reading that kept me turning the pages faster and faster and faster.  I felt like I was running on a treadmill that was picking up more and more speed the further the story went along and didn’t know how or when I was going to be able to get off. 

The characters were so well developed in this novel and so well thought out that each person depicted was so clearly vivid that you felt you knew them and were afraid of the ones you needed to be afraid of and befriended the ones that needed befriending.  Never before have I felt a ‘fear’ towards a character and this was a huge thrill for me in this book.  The story is intelligent and extremely clever.  Mr. Locke certainly did his homework in preparing to pen this book.  I would highly recommend this to everyone as a DON’T MISS IT!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Story Description:

Cassie Whittington’s inheritance of $15 million is on hold while vengeful family members contest the will.  But the potential loss is the least of her worries – her ex-husband has re-entered her life and is wreaking havoc on her relationship with Sam Barlow, her boss at the landscape company.  Cassie has to make a choice: return to her old life with Charlie or start a new life with Sam.  An added complication is a police investigation involving Livvie, Cassie’s dearest friend, and Livvie’s fiancé, who is accused of murdering the head chef at a prestigious local restaurant.  Truffles and treachery may combine, preventing Cassie from making any choices ever again. 

My Review: 

Poor Cassie, I don’t think she knows if she’s coming or if she’s going.  I love her character and her wit!  On the one hand she appears a bit like an airhead but really she’s sharp as a tack and nothing escapes her.  I think the hardest part of her relationship with Sam is putting up with his ex-wife Sheilah who, in my opinion, is a real witch.  Between being there for Livvie, sorting out her feelings for her ex-Charlie, keeping her relationship with Sam going, and being forced to make decisions that are difficult, Cassie handles herself with a tempered hand but still can’t decide what she ultimately wants to do.  I can’t wait to read the last book in this series so I can find out! 

This was an excellent read, had me pulled in from page one and I’d highly recommend it to anyone. 

**Thank you to J L Wilson for the preview copy which I won in a contest!!**

Sunday, October 2, 2011



Story Description: 

She turned onto the main street -- the sound of the lake a whisper behind her, the leaves of the tall trees now talking overhead -- she saw his truck parked in front of the café and Wesley sitting inside it....
He didn't seem to notice as she got closer, his eyes closed as if he was concentrating on something. With her hand on her stomach, she steadied herself. The window on the passenger's side was open and she could see the distinct curve of his dark lashes as they rested against his cheek.
"Wesley," she said quietly....
She felt a hot sting of shame. She wanted to hide. But in Pembina Lake, beside a truck, in front of a café, wheat fields and sky flaming pink and orange and gold all around, there was absolutely nowhere to go. 

In the midst of a heaven-rattling summer storm a young stranger blows into a small prairie town. On the run after taking her latest boyfriend's truck, with a pocketful of stolen money and a heart full of pain, seventeen-year-old Noreen Stall seems to invite trouble.  

And trouble comes soon enough, as Noreen's new mistakes trigger calamities that shake the lives of the residents of Pembina Lake. 

My Review: 

Seventeen-year-old Noreen Stall is pregnant and frightened and not knowing what to do, steals her boyfriend’s money, truck, and begins driving until she reaches the sleepy-eyed town of Pembina Lake.  She soon discovers that everyone in this crazy town has a secret, for her, it’s the perfect place to hide!  But Noreen has a knack for stirring up trouble and it follows her wherever she goes drawing unwanted attention to herself. 

This wasn’t a novel that rated high on my reading list, cute enough, but not anything even close to serious literature and fiction.  Unfortunately, this not the type of book that I would recommend to anyone.