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

Monday, September 30, 2013

I Am So Excited!! Harry Potter Exhibition Coming to Edmonton. Watch the YouTube Trailer Here!!

Harry Potter Exhibit Coming to Edmonton!!!!


Having read all the Harry Potter Books and seeing/collecting all the movies (which I shamelessly admit to having watched repeatedly), I was so excited today to learn that the Harry Potter Exhibit is coming to Edmonton's Telus World of Science Centre in November!  (honestly, when I learned from Sheila over at Book Journey that she went to the exhibit in New York, well I was more than a little disgruntled that there had been no news of the exhibit coming to my little neck of the woods.) Now I am practically doing a happy dance!  (use your imagination, lol)  Edmonton is hosting the Western Canada debut!!  Woot!!

Running November 23 to March 9/14, the exhibit will feature more than 200 authentic props including costumes from all eight movies.  There will be nine different settings from the movies which visitors can navigate their way through.  From Harry's glasses, Ron's wand, to miscellaneous pieces from the ball and more; Harry Potter pans will be in their glory.

It is advised to get your tickets early.  To learn more about this fabulous exhibit, see the article in the Edmonton Sun.  Fingers crossed that photos will be allowed.

The above video is footage taken during the Chicago exhibit, where it opened for the first time in 2009.

Review: Low Country Bombshell by Susan M. Boyer

Lowcountry Bombshell
Author: Susan M. Boyer
Publisher: Henery Press
Published: September 2013
Pages: 266
Edition:  Trade paperback
Source: Thank you to the publisher and to TLC Book Tours for a complimentary copy.  Receipt thereof bears no influence on my opinion nor of this review for Lowcountry Bombshell.
Genre:  Mystery

Private Investigator Liz Talbot thinks she’s seen another ghost when she meets Calista McQueen. She’s the spitting image of Marilyn Monroe. Born precisely fifty years after the ill-fated star, Calista’s life has eerily mirrored the late starlet’s—and she fears the looming anniversary of Marilyn’s death will also be hers.
Before Liz can open a case file, Calista’s life coach is executed. Suspicious characters swarm around Calista like mosquitoes on a sultry lowcountry evening: her certifiable mother, a fake aunt, her control-freak psychoanalyst, a private yoga instructor, her peculiar housekeeper, and an obsessed ex-husband. Liz digs in to find a motive for murder, but she’s besieged with distractions. Her ex has marriage and babies on his mind. Her too-sexy partner engages in a campaign of repeat seduction. Mamma needs help with Daddy’s devotion to bad habits. And a gang of wild hogs is running loose on Stella Maris.
With the heat index approaching triple digits, Liz races to uncover a diabolical murder plot in time to save not only Calista’s life, but also her own.

My review:

Lowcountry Bombshell features Liz Talbot, a private investigator and her partner Nate (business and personal) and is part of the Henery Press Mystery Collection. When Liz is contacted by Calista McQueen, a Marilyn Monroe lookalike who seems destined to mirror her life and death, is it a coincidence that Calista is almost the same age Marilyn was when she allegedly committed suicide?  When Calista's psychic advisor is found murdered, a hit in fact, the stakes are raised and Liz finds herself with several suspects including Calista's mother, an odd "aunt", a disturbing psychoanalyst, and a guy in a black mustang with death on his mind to name a few. 

It could be someone's cruel master plan to time Calista's death to the very anniversary of Marilyn's or does it have anything to do with being a "dead ringer?"  Perhaps it's the lottery win her deceased husband won unknowingly as he was found murdered and Calista was the sole recipient of a very generous jackpot.

Lowcountry Bombshell is fast-paced and well-written and you'll want to read it all in one sitting. It is a cozy mystery filled with suspense, an edge of your seat finale and a good hit of romance!

Susan M. Boyer's debut novel, Lowcountry Boil is the recipient of a few awards including the Agatha Award for Best New Novel. I cannot wait to see more from this author!

Susan M. Boyer has been making up stories her whole life. She tags along with her husband on business trips whenever she can because hotels are great places to write: fresh coffee all day and cookies at 4 p.m. They have a home in Greenville, SC, which they occasionally visit, and they run away to the beach as often as possible.
Susan’s debut novel, Lowcountry Boil, is an Agatha Award winner for Best First Novel, a 2012 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense recipient, and a 2012 RWA Golden Heart® finalist. Her next book, Lowcountry Bombshell, will be released September 3, 2013.
Susan’s short fiction has appeared in moonShine ReviewSpinetingler Magazine, and Relief Journal, among others.
To learn more about Susan, visit susanmboyerbooks.com. You can also connect with Susan on Facebook and Twitter,  see what she’s pinning on Pinterest, and find her on Goodreads.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Review: If You Were Me and Lived in Norway by Carole P. Roman

source:  Amazon.uk
If You Were Me and Lived in Norway
An Introduction to Learning About Other Cultures
Author:  Carole P. Roman
Published: 2013
Publisher: Create Space Independent Publishing Platforms
Pages: 32
Format: Trade Paperback
Source:  A copy was provided by the author and Bostick Communications in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.


Join Carole P. Roman on a trip to the Northern Hemisphere and learn about Norway- The Land Of the Midnight Sun. In this exciting series, children are able to read about the many things we share in this great, big world of ours. If You Were Me and Lived in...Norway describes many things that make that country unique and fun. Readers will be able to learn about the capital, common names, a beloved holiday, as well as favorite food and other fun facts. This book is an excellent introduction for those beginners who want to learn about the many thrilling places and great people who share our planet.

My Thoughts:

If You Were Me and Lived in Norway is the third in the "If You Were Me..." series written by author Carole P. Roman.  With a teaching background, Carole introduces children to a new country, new culture, and the wonders of living in another part of our fabulous world.

In If You Were Me and Lived in Norway, Carole takes you to Oslo,  the capital city "surrounded by green hills and mountains.  It has 343 lakes and two rivers."  The reader learns new common names for a girl and for a boy, mom and dad.  If you are shopping in Norway, you need to know a kroner is a type of money you might use to make your purchase.  As well, you learn how to say a few words in another language.  The book also contains a pronunciation guide.

This series is valuable as a teaching tool to introduce your child or your class to a new country and the people who live there.  With colourful well-drawn illustrations and conversational text, children and parents alike will enjoy visiting a new land.

Carole P. Roman is a former teacher and an accomplished author.  According to Carole Roman's website, there are three other books in this series including:  If You Were Me and Lived in Mexico, If You Were Me and Lived in Asia, If You Were Me and Lived in France.  She has also written and book for children about yoga, "I Want to Do Yoga Too."  See her website   http://caroleproman.com for a complete list of her published works.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Review: Freud's Mistress by Karen Mack and Jennifer Kaufman

Freud's Mistress
Authors: Karen Mack and Jennifer Kaufman
Published:  July 2013
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
Pages: 368
Format:  Hardcover
Source:  A copy was provided by the publisher and TLC book tours in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.  Receipt thereof did not influence my opinion nor this review.

A page-turning novel inspired by the true-life love affair between Sigmund Freud and his sister-in-law, Minna Bernays, set in Vienna in 1895. Minna is everything her sister Martha is not—intellectually curious, an avid reader and a beguiling beauty. She and Freud embark on what is at first simply an intellectual courtship, yet something deeper is brewing beneath the surface, something Minna cannot escape.
In this sweeping tale of love, loyalty, and betrayal—between a husband and a wife, between sisters—fact and fiction seamlessly blend together to offer an intimate peek at Minna’s profound influence on the founding father of psychoanalysis, while revealing her unforgettable story of internal conflict and passion.

My Review:

A friend and I were recently discussing geniuses and the fact that so many of them are intellectual snobs.  When I look at Sigmund Freud's life as illustrated in Freud's Mistress, I see a similar pattern of behaviour.  He pays little attention to Martha, his wife; nor to his children, of which he has six.  But when Martha's sister Minna, joins the household, Freud recognizes an individual with whom he can and does willingly discuss his theories and work.  She is not his intellectual equal, which is obvious from the way he treats her in the novel; but she seems to be far more interested and interesting and she is near at hand.

What begins as an intellectual affair of sorts, soon develops into something more and it is little wonder that it does.  When two people of opposite sex share so much, the next stage of the relationship can easily become much more personal.  Mack and Kaufman draw upon this likelihood, acknowledging the hotel ledger in which the couple signed in as a married couple, and the reader is privy to what may have been the internal machinations of forbidden attraction.

It is theorized that this relationship between Sigmund and Minna influenced Freud's advancement in psychology.  Certainly, with Martha under the influence of opiates and overwhelmed with the task of running a busy household with six children, it seems she couldn't be bothered with listening to Sigmund's theories.  Perhaps she was even glad to find relief in knowing her sister had taken the place of a sounding board.  However, I cannot fathom her being accepting of an intimate relationship between her husband and her sister.  

Mack and Kaufman exercise some literary liberties in conveying the personalities and situations within Freud's life but they do so with significant research to back up their theories.  

For the lover of historical fiction, fascinators of great intellectual biographies, and those interested in theories of psychology; this novel may be just the book you are looking for.

About the Authors:

Freud’s Mistress is the third novel by Karen Mack and Jennifer Kaufman. Their first novel, Literacy and Longing in L.A., reached #1 on the Los Angeles TimesBestseller List and won the Best Fiction Award from the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association. Their second novel, A Version of the Truth, was also a Los Angeles Times bestseller. Freud’s Mistress is their first historical novel. Karen Mack, a former attorney, is a Golden Globe Award-winning film and television producer. Jennifer Kaufman is a former staff writer for the Los Angeles Times and a two-time winner of the national Penney-Missouri Journalism Award. Both authors live in Los Angeles with their families.
Find out more about Karen and Jennifer at their website, and connect with them on Facebook.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Review: Jungleland by Christopher Stewart

Author: Christopher Stewart
Edition:  ARC (advanced reader's copy)

Source:  borrowed

Deep inside “the little Amazon,” the jungles of Honduras’s Mosquito Coast—one of the largest, wildest, and most impenetrable stretches of tropical land in the world—lies the fabled city of Ciudad Blanca: the White City. For centuries, it has lured explorers, including Spanish conquistador Herman Cortes. Some intrepid souls got lost within its dense canopy; some disappeared. Others never made it out alive. Then, in 1939, an American explorer and spy named Theodore Morde claimed that he had located this El Dorado-like city. Yet before he revealed its location, Morde died under strange circumstances, giving credence to those who believe that the spirits of the Ciudad Blanca killed him.

Is this lost city real or only a tantalyzing myth? What secrets does the jungle hold? What continues to draw explorers into the unknown jungleland at such terrific risk? In this absorbing true-life thriller, journalist Christopher S. Stewart sets out to find answers—a white-knuckle adventure that combines Morde’s wild, enigmatic tale with Stewart’s own epic journey to find the truth about the White City.

My thoughts:

Every now and then I enjoy finding a good non-fiction book to read.  I prefer a book that isn't all bare facts but has a story to it like The Abyss, The End of Your Life Book Club (Will Schaeble - biography) to name a few, and now Jungleland.

Stewart's writing can make this tale seem more fiction than non-fiction but, word for word, he wrote a historic tale of love, travel, danger and determination that will find appeal with a broad audience.

Alternating between the story of famous explorer turned spy Theodore Morde and that of the author Christopher S. Stewart, Jungleland tells the tale of two intrepid explorers in two different time frames who both braved the jungles of South America in search of the infamous White City.

For Stewart Jungleland isn't so much about discovering lost treasures, but more about tracing Morde's steps to determine the reality of the White City.  Morde's journals are non-conclusive so, after much research and time, Stewart consults his wife, trying to explain the need for yet another "adventure."  He leaves her at home with their three year old daughter who turns four in his absence and flies to South America where he meets up with Chris and Pancho in the non-wrinkled blue shirt who will guide them through the impassible dense jungles.

War, civil unrest, snakes, monkeys keen on deterring the most determined, warlords, marauders and even the people native to the region can and often do pose obstacles in their paths. Practically eaten alive by mosquitos, sucked down deep into muddy swamps, and swept down rivers, they remained steadfast.  

Stewart got to know more of Morde in doing so.  It was almost an intimate knowledge, I imagine, as he walked in the footsteps of the great explorer of years before.  He discovered much, found plenty and left some things behind.

When little Sky nestled into her father Christopher's lap upon his return, she didn't pout over him missing her birthday.  Instead she asked, " So, Daddy, tell me what you did in the  jungle.  Did you find what you were looking for?" (p. 234 arc)  And, I believe he did.  He discovered that, unlike Morde, what he found was his love and longing for what he left at home.


Meet the Author:

photo credit:  GoodReads
Christopher S. Stewart is a writer and editor at the Wall Street Journal and author of Hunting the Tiger, book about Zeljko Arkan Raznatovic, the Serbian mobster and warlord at the center of the 1990s Balkan wars. Jungleland is his second book.

His work has also appeared in GQ, Harper's, the New York Times Magazine, New York, Paris Review, Wired, and other publications. Earlier, he served as deputy editor at the New York Observer and is a former contributing editor at Conde Nast Portfolio, where, among other things, he wrote about the Unification Church’s gun business and corruption in Iraq.

He lives with his family in New York.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Review: All You Could Ask For by Mike Greenberg

All You Could Ask For
Author:  Mike Greenberg
Published: September 3, 2013
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Edition:  trade paperback
Source:  TLC book tours and the publisher, William Morrow.  Receipt thereof has no influence over my opinion nor this review.

Brooke has been happily married to her college sweetheart for fifteen years. Samantha’s newlywed bliss is steam-rolled when she finds shocking evidence of infidelity on her husband’s computer.
Katherine works eighteen hours a day for the man who irreparably shattered her heart fifteen years ago.
Brooke, Samantha, and Katherine don’t know one another yet, but all three are about to discover the conquering power of friendship—and that they have all they could ask for, as long as they have each other.

My thoughts:

Brooke, Samantha and Katherine have never before met.  Their lives are very different.  Brooke is married to her college sweetheart and together they have two children.  Samantha discovers while on her honeymoon that her husband is having an affair and Katherine is a power-house on Wall Street working for a man she once loved and is single.

What draws each of them together is the diagnosis of breast cancer.  So when these three  meet via an online forum for those diagnosed with breast cancer, they discover an enduring friendship that offers the support they each need beyond the stages of cancer diagnosis and treatment.  Since their lives and lifestyles are very different, a common denominator is not evident, nor is it in reality.  I am glad this was pointed out in the novel because not all cancer is caused by lifestyle choices such as smoking.  Sometimes there are hereditary factors, sometimes environmental.  Often, though, there is no obvious cause.  It just happens.

Greenberg writes women so well that you forget you are reading the words of a male author!  I suspect his wife has a great deal to do with the inspiration and insight with which he writes.  Though there were times near the beginning that I found myself checking back on the characters to be sure I was picturing the correct one as I read her chapter, I still found the overall effect of three separate stories bound together by circumstance a warm and touching read.

The inspiration for this novel comes from a personal experience the Greenbergs had with a close friend.  Her legacy lives on with this novel and the fundraising from it.  I am happy to share that the proceeds from All You Could Ask For will go to charity for cancer research.  

About the author:

Mike Greenberg is co-host of ESPN’s Mike & Mike and the author of two previous New York Times bestsellers. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and a native of New York City. He lives with his wife, Stacy, and their two children in Connecticut. In conjunction with the release of this book, Mike and Stacy have created a foundation called Heidi’s Angels, through which all of the author’s profits from the sale of this book will be donated to the V Foundation for Cancer Research to combat breast cancer.
Find out more about the All You Could Ask For at allyoucouldaskfor.com.
Follow Mike on Twitter.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Review: Equilibrium by Lorrie Thomson

Author:  Lorrie Thomson
Published:  2013
Publisher: Kensington 
Edition:  ARC
Source:  TLC Book Tours and the publisher.  Receipt of this book did not influence my opinion nor my review thereof.

Author's websiteFacebook page, and Twitter account

In the year since her husband died, Laura Klein’s world has shifted on its axis. It’s not just that she’s raising two children alone—fact is, Laura always did the parenting for both of them. But now her fifteen-year-old daughter, Darcy, is dating a boy with a fast car and faster hands, and thirteen-year-old Troy’s attitude has plummeted along with his voice. Just when she’s resigning herself to a life of worry and selfless support, her charismatic new tenant offers what Laura least expects: a second chance.
Darcy isn’t surprised her mom doesn’t understand her, though she never imagined her suddenly acting like a love-struck teen herself. With Troy starting to show signs of their father’s bipolar disorder, and her best friend increasingly secretive, Darcy turns to her new boyfriend, Nick, for support. Yet Nick has a troubled side of his own, forcing Darcy toward life-altering choices.
Exploring the effects of grief on both mother and daughter, Equilibrium is a thoughtful, resolutely uplifting novel about finding the balance between holding on and letting go, between knowing when to mourn and when to hope, and between the love we seek and the love we choose to give.

My thoughts:
When your husband, who's been suffering from a bipolar disorder, makes good on his last attempt at taking his life how do you go on?  How do you keep your family together knowing your children could inherit the disorder?  How do you cope yourself?  Where do you find your equilibrium?

That is the premise of this debut author's novel, Equilibrium.  A little heavy to begin with, Thomson explores how a family could go on in this work of fiction.  Luckily for the heroine, Laura, she has two best friends who help keep her centred.  We don't get to know them very well other than to know they are always there for her and she can count on them for late night calls, visits, even a little new-age wisdom.

Her fifteen year old daughter Darcy, on the other hand, struggles to make sense of her loss, the feelings of betrayal by her father, and even the guilt.  Sometimes it feels like this is her story and at other times it feels like her mother's but their stories come together in the end as they discover the strength each other has and pull together.  

Laura's young son Troy seems wise beyond his years at first but as the reader gets to know him we see the young boy, the tween, and the young man in turns.  He seems so together until the anniversary of his father's suicide when something happens that shatters every one's belief in his well-being.

Then there's handsome younger Aiden, the emergency room doctor who rents Laura's husband's studio.  From renter to friend, he becomes the balance in this family and the hope they all need.  He often seems too good to be true, but he is the genuine article and you can't help falling for him yourself as you read along.

There were a couple times, during flashbacks and flash forwards to the present that lost me and I had to go back and re-read to determine the tense and the defining line between the two.  Perhaps that is an issue only with the ARC?  Thomson's pace is quick, never lagging and her character development brings the main characters to life, especially Darcy's boyfriend Nick.  Thomson uses a lot of imagery and creative twists in her descriptiveness which is sometimes distracting; yet I can appreciate the talent of this young creative writer.

Overall, I did enjoy Equilibrium.  It's a bit heavy for a beach read but then again, one can only read so much fluff.  Equilibrium brings that balance back.
Meet the author:
Lorrie Thomson lives in New Hampshire with her husband and their children. When she’s not reading, writing, or hunting for collectibles, her family lets her tag along for camping adventures, daylong paddles, and hikes up 4,000 footers.
Though Equilibrium is fiction, Lorrie had the very real experience of coping with mental illness in her own family when her oldest son was diagnosed with schizophrenia while she was writing the book. For support and education regarding mental illness, she recommends that readers visit NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

JK Rowling's Screenwriting Debut Announced on Facebook Today!!

JK Rowling's "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" will be a theatrical event in the near future.  Well, maybe not so near as JK Rowling has agreed to write the script for Warner Brothers and that could take some time, not to mention casting and filming......

JK Rowling officially announced the news on her https://www.facebook.com/JKRowling/posts/441828229259132">Facebook page
stating, "I always said that I would only revisit the wizarding world if I had an idea that I was really excited about and this is it."

I am looking forward to revisiting the magical world of JK Rowling and if I am, I am sure her much younger devoted audience will be ecstatic with the news!!


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