"No one can be lonely who has a book for company." ~ Nelle Reagan

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Saying Goodbye to the Year of the Horse

 The Chinese New Year begins February 19/15, welcoming in the Year of the Sheep.  Happy New Year!!!!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg (book review)

The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules
Author:  Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg
Published: 2012 (original) Canadian publication March 2014
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre:  fiction, general fiction, humour
  • ISBN: 9781443428262 (trade paperback)
Source:  personal copy

Readers around the world have fallen in love with the Senior League, five residents of the Diamond Retirement Home—Martha, The Genius, The Rake, Christina and Anna-Greta—who turn to a life of crime.
New owners have taken over the Diamond, making cost-cutting changes that have transformed the happy home into a dull and dreary place. The residents wonder if they wouldn’t be better off in prison! Martha gets an idea: they shall commit a crime that will ensure conviction—some type of financial crime, a small coup of some sort. They will give whatever they get to the poor and elderly. If Robin Hood could do it, so can they!
What starts as a robbery attempt at a nearby luxury hotel escalates to art theft from a major museum, the culprits armed only with bolt cutters and high-tech walkers. The Mafia gets wind of these robberies, and suddenly the underworld has its eye on both the stolen paintings and the handiwork of The Genius. Soon the Senior League has both the law and the lawless at their heels.

My thoughts:
With all the recent cuts at their retirement home, Martha and her friends couldn't help compare their circumstances to those of prisoners.  In fact, they noted that prisoners have it better!  They get well-fed, exercise time outdoors, and access to a gym.  Considering that, these five friends decide to commit the perfect crime where no one gets hurt but that offers an opportunity to better their situation with jail time!
If you're thinking this is outrageous and potentially hilarious, you're right!  The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules is a wickedly funny look at the life of crime as only they can pull it off, walkers and canes and all!
An enormous hit in Sweden, The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules was published in Canada in 2014.  It has been a hit!  I highly recommend it for the writing, the well-rounded characters, humour and tension.  Pick it up and see for yourself.

#TheLittleOldLadyWhoBrokeAlltheRules  #bookreview #2014publication

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Language of Hoofbeats by Catherine Ryan Hyde (book review)

The Language of Hoofbeats
Author:  Catherine Ryan Hyde
Published: December 2014
Publisher:  Lake Union Publishing
Pages:  342
Genre: Fiction 
Edition:  Trade paperback
Source:  A complimentary copy was provided by the publisher and TLC book tours in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. 

From the bestselling author of Pay It Forward comes a story of the heartbreak and healing power of family. New to a small town, Jackie and Paula envision a quiet life for their kids: a young adopted son and two teenage foster children, including the troubled Star. However, they quickly butt heads with their neighbor, Clementine, who disapproves of their lifestyle and is incensed when Star befriends her spirited horse, Comet. Haunted by past tragedy and unable to properly care for Comet, Clem nevertheless resents the bond Star soon shares with the horse. When Star disappears with Comet, the neighbors are thrown together—far too close together. But as the search for the pair wears on, both families must learn to put aside their animosity and confront the choices they’ve made and the scars they carry. Plumbing the depths of regret and forgiveness, The Language of Hoofbeats explores the strange alchemy that transforms a group of people into a family.

My Thoughts:

The Language of Hoofbeats is a tender slower read that explores family and relationships in a story where a lesbian married couple with an adopted son and two foster children move to a small town where Paula practices large animal veterinary care and Jackie is an artist who works out of their home.  One of their foster children, Star, hasn't been with them long enough for either Paula nor Jackie to really get to know but she comes from a home of neglect with a mother who was institutionalized with mental illness which brought Star into the foster care system.

Moving can be difficult and each member of this family has their struggles with the adjustments to rural life.  Star especially has a hard time of it until she meets Comet, the horse who lives in a small corral across the road from their new house.  Star and Comet take to each other instantly but Clementine, the horse's owner objects strongly to having "that girl" interfering with her horse. There's a long history behind Clementine's bitterness and it evolves through the book in chapters told in her voice alternating with chapters told in the others' voices.  

When Clementine refuses to sell Comet to the family, Star takes action and during the night sneaks out to set Comet and herself free.  Their disappearance is the point from which the novel evolves.

The Language of Hoofbeats explores the love of a girl for a horse and just how far one is willing to go to find that which they seek.  It's a story of love, acceptance, understanding and sorrow and is sure to touch your heart and draw a tear.  Catherine Ryan Hyde, as in Pay it Forward, reaches into the very soul of the characters whom she writes about and for whom she writes in this new novel, The Language of Hoofbeats

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the bestselling author of twenty-four novels, including the 1999 smash hit Pay It Forward,which has been translated into more than two dozen languages, and was made into a major motion picture starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, and Haley Joel Osment. In addition to her novels, Hyde is the author of more than fifty short stories and is founder and former president (2000–2009) of the Pay It Forward Foundation. During her years as a professional public speaker, she addressed the National Conference on Education, met with AmeriCorps members at the White House, and shared a dais with President Bill Clinton.

Connect with Catherine


Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz (book review)

Author:  Anthony Horowitz
Published: December 2014
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 304
Genre:  Mystery
Source: A complimentary copy was provided by the publisher and TLC book tours in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

The game is once again afoot in this thrilling mystery from the bestselling author of The House of Silk, sanctioned by the Conan Doyle estate, which explores what really happened when Sherlock Holmes and his arch nemesis Professor Moriarty tumbled to their doom at the Reichenbach Falls.
Internationally bestselling author Anthony Horowitz’s nail-biting new novel plunges us back into the dark and complex world of detective Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty—dubbed the "Napoleon of crime" by Holmes—in the aftermath of their fateful struggle at the Reichenbach Falls.
Days after the encounter at the Swiss waterfall, Pinkerton detective agent Frederick Chase arrives in Europe from New York. Moriarty’s death has left an immediate, poisonous vacuum in the criminal underworld, and there is no shortage of candidates to take his place—including one particularly fiendish criminal mastermind.
Chase and Scotland Yard Inspector Athelney Jones, a devoted student of Holmes’ methods of investigation and deduction originally introduced by Conan Doyle in “The Sign of Four”, must forge a path through the darkest corners of England’s capital—from the elegant squares of Mayfair to the shadowy wharfs and alleyways of the London Docks—in pursuit of this sinister figure, a man much feared but seldom seen, who is determined to stake his claim as Moriarty’s successor.
A riveting, deeply atmospheric tale of murder and menace, Moriarty breathes life into Holmes’ dark and fascinating world.
Available Now“The Three Monarchs”, an e-original Sherlock Holmes short story from Anthony Horowitz, including a preview chapter from Moriarty (on sale: December 9th). In “The Three Monarchs”, Sherlock Holmes and James Watson come together once again to uncover the motive behind a robbery gone awry. When an elderly man shoots an intruder he finds in his home, it seems like a clear case of self-defense. What’s not so clear is why the robber was there….Get your copy now!
My Thoughts:
Who doesn't love Sherlock Holmes?  So if you do, you know that Moriarty is his chief enemy... the criminal mastermind Holmes is determined to see behind bars.  In Horowitz's tale, Holmes and Moriarty are both dead after a struggle at a cliff's edge.  With Moriarty's death, the way is clear for other criminal elements to make a stronghold in London and America is not too far a departure point for one such criminal.

A few short days following the demise of Holmes and Moriarty, Pinkerton agent Frederick Chase arrives in Europe on the trail of an American criminal whom he was assigned to bring back to America to face charges.  Chase soon meets Scotland Yard Inspector Athelney Jones, a "student" in the ways of Sherlock Holmes, and together they scour London in search of the wanted criminal. 

Horowitz is a phenomenal writer!  I was drawn in from the start and let me just say, the climax is a jaw dropper!!!  It's been a long time since a book has had that effect and I was taken off guard by the twist that took my breath away!! That's a sure sign of success.

I highly recommend Moriarty to all detective, mystery, and Sherlock Holmes fans.  You will not be disappointed.  5/5!!  Let me know if your jaw drops.  ;)

Meet the Author:
Anthony Horowitz is the author of the international bestseller The House of Silk and the New York Times number one bestselling Alex Rider series for Young Adults. As a television screenwriter he created both Midsomer Murdersand the BAFTA-winning Foyle’s War, both of which were featured on PBS’s Masterpiece Mystery. He regularly contributes to a wide variety of national newspapers and magazines, and in January 2014 was awarded an OBE for his services to literature. He lives in London.
Find out more about Anthony at his website and connect with him on Twitter.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies - Success or Disappointment?

We went to see the final instalment in The Hobbit trilogy last night.  It was good but I am conflicted and I'll tell you why in a bit.  

This instalment ties The Hobbit to The Lord of the Rings quite well.  Before it, there seemed to be quite a gap between the two but The Battle of the Five Armies ties them together nicely and the ending was perfect in achieving this.  The sketches displayed in the closing credits were incredibly lifelike and revealing of each character's attributes.

The music score, well I love it!  Particularly the last song to play during the credits,  The Last Goodbye by Billy Boyd.  It's incredibly beautiful.  As is the song that plays during the trailer below.

It's been several years since I've read The Hobbit, as in junior high school, so I'm vague on details, but I recall it being more focused on Smeagol and Bilbo Baggins.  Jackson has done a phenomenal job bringing the book to life thus increasing Tolkien readership and fandom.  The cinematography in all three films was phenomenal, the special effects always astounding even if unrealistic.  But this is fantasy, right?   The casting agent should be applauded!  Each character was genuine and believable as the actors portrayed them.  My biggest conflict lies with the plot of this particular film. The movie is certainly enthralling, I'll give it that; however, the creative license that took The Hobbit, a children's novel, and brought this incredible work to an enormous audience, also included a battle which never occurred in The Hobbit, the book.  I know it's titled The Battle of the Five Armies; it just seems superfluous and the entire book could easily have been a two film adaptation. Was an enormous battle scene the best way to tie The Hobbit to the trilogy of The Lord of the Rings?  Perhaps it was, but it still irks me that this film strayed so far from the original inspiration for the series, the book The HobbitOpinions?

Oh, and wasn't the original title to be "There and Back Again"? I rather liked that.  I guess that's the romantic in me.

Happy Birthday J.R.R. Tolkien, January 3.

#TheBattleoftheFiveArmies  #TheHobbit #PeterJackson #songscore #ThereandBackAgain #LordoftheRings  

Monday, November 24, 2014

Dangerous Denial by Amy Ray (book review)s

Dangerous Denial
Author:  Amy Ray
Published: April 2014
Publisher:  Barking Rain Press
Pages: 212
Edition: advance reader's copy
Source:  A complimentary copy was provided in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Denying the past proves deadly for BK Hartshaw and Trevor Mayhew in this gripping noir novel where nothing is as it seems.
BK is a rising star at a public relations firm, and tonight’s charity ball should be a high point in her career. But a closely guarded secret threatens to destroy her chance for happiness with the only man she’s ever loved… a man who is also hiding a deadly secret.
Trevor has tried to put the past behind him, pretending it never happened. But the conniving father he’s been running from for years has finally found him—and is determined to settle the score once and for all.
BK and Trevor’s deeply buried secrets are about to catch up with them—and everyone they know and love. Who will pay the ultimate price for their dangerous denials?

My Thoughts:

Revenge is a dish best served cold.  Or at least it proves to be at a charity ball fundraiser for abused women and children where Lenny shows up for the ultimate vengeance against his estranged son.  under the guise of a robbery.  The author then takes us back in time to meet a young manipulative and dangerous young man who masters a plan to get the girl he wants. Unfortunately this involves her giving birth to a boy that is not his own and Lenny's abuse of the young boy Trevor ensues. When child protective services doesn't intervene, Trevor's maternal grandmother takes him and together they hide away in another city.  

Dangerous Denial takes a few trips back and forth in time which is essential to plot development but at times seems disjointed and the transitions rough, leaving the reader to fill in blanks in relation to how scenarios may have played out.  It's not necessarily altogether a bad thing as it contributes to the mystery that so intricately plays out with great suspense.

Trevor is not the only character with a deeply troubling past though.  BK, Beatrice Katherine, was teased relentlessly as a child by her older sister and step-sister but likely even more detrimental to her self-esteem were the comments her mother made about her weight.  Self-conscious about her body image and feeling responsible for her father leaving, BK determines not to be fat and develops anorexia.  When BK's mother remarries, BK and her older sister are sent to live first with an aunt and then to private school where BK meets again her best friend Shelby.

It all converges at the ball BK is in charge of for a client, an entrepreneur whose goal it is to raise funds for a facility for abused women and children.  That evening Shelby is kidnapped and Lenny is on scene to put an end to his "son's" life.  As bullets are fired, BK collapses and readers believe there is more than one intended victim in the room that night.

Amy Ray's debut novel is hard to put down while being difficult to read.  The victimization of a young child is truly heart-wrenching, in both Trevor's (in greater measure for the sheer brutality of it) and BK's cases.  The beginning chapters develop the disturbing background which culminates in a twisted and suspenseful climax. Easily read in one sitting, Dangerous Denial demonstrates this new writer's ability to create characters and situations that are difficult, a plot that ensnares, and most of all, it evokes an emotional response from the reader.  Well done for a debut novelist.  

Dangerous Denial is Amy Ray’s first published novel. Early in 2015, she will have a short story published in Love Free or Die, the fourth book in the New Hampshire Pulp Fiction anthology series.
Before embarking on a writing career, Amy owned an old fashioned five and dime store where, in addition to regular priced merchandise, she had a display of items that actually retailed for five or ten cents each. She lives near the short but picturesque seacoast in New Hampshire with her husband and daughter. In her spare time she enjoys packing boxes for Operation Christmas Child, reading, knitting, and tap dancing.
Find out more about Amy at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.


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