A Bookaholic, Pro-life, Pro-Family, Pro-Oxford Comma, Catholic (with Asperger's) who reads and writes as her obsession. I've been reading over 400 books a year lately. These are my ramblings on the books I read.

I sometimes go through stages of "genre love", I'm addicted to
mystery thrillers, memoirs, 20th century Chinese historical fiction, Victorian fiction and nonfiction, Catholic theology and short story anthologies; but you'll find I read an even wider variety of books than that. I have a teensy fascination with macabre non-fiction books about death and anything about insane asylums.

I also tend to post a lot of reviews of
juvenile/teen books.

I also blog about
graphic novels and manga on a separate BLOG.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin

The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Paperback, 135 pages
Published July 23rd 2002 by Perennial
(first published 1972)

The ending is very tight and suspenseful but otherwise I found it greatly outdated. The roaring feminism is a product of its times; thankfully the type of woman who spent their life being a victim of men are now reaching senior-hood. I feel pretty confident in saying that most mentally healthy 21st-century men would become bored *very* fast with a robot wife. LOL

Crime Seen: Stories from Behind the Yellow Tape, From Patrol Cop to Profiler by Kate Lines

Crime Seen: Stories from Behind the Yellow Tape, From Patrol Cop to Profiler by Kate Lines
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 256 pages
Published April 7th 2015 by Random House Canada

Kate Lines was the second Canadian and first Canadian woman to complete the FBI's criminal profiling course at Quantico. She started her career with the police force as a traffic cop, moved up into undercover vice, then became a detective and rose to higher positions of authority once she became a leader in profiling in Canada. She is much decorated and honoured in the profession and this is her personal story up to the present. What drew me to reading this memoir was, of course, the profiling aspect due to my interest in that field, however, the best part of the book was the first half. Kate starts off briefly with her childhood and upbringing to how her interest in police work began. Her days of training and becoming a cop follow with details of her work as a traffic cop and undercover "narc" working in the high-risk area of biker gangs. Surprisingly, I found this part terribly interesting especially finding out how the Canadian system works. (So much of what is written is from an American perspective) I thought the really good part would start once she went to Quantico and her ten months there were quite interesting but not very detailed. The rest of the book was rather disappointing as she describes profiler work matter of factly, insistently tells the reader how unlike the TV shows it is, and even though she goes over a few high profile cases including Paul Bernardo and Colonel Russell Williams they are the most boring retellings of those crimes I've ever read. Lines also has an annoying habit of taking time out to praise the police force and pat her colleagues and the entire force on the back that it made me roll my eyes and think "save it for the acknowledgements!". This back patting was an obvious strike at public image control for the police in general. So while the book wasn't as good as I'd hoped for, the writing style not overly engaging, and the author's voice on the annoying side; I did enjoy learning how these things are done in Canada and especially hearing the story of her early days as a woman in the police force. Lines is now retired and works as a private detective and consultant.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Tom Gray #1: Gray Justice by Alan McDermott

Gray Justice by Alan McDermott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kindle Edition, 216 pages
Published July 8th 2011 by Amazon Digital Services

Tom Gray (#1)

I have to admit I put off reading this for the longest time because the reviews are all over the place with ratings from 1 to 5. But it sounded good and I'm glad I finally read it. I was hooked right away and glued to my seat from the get-go. This was a can't-put-down page-turner. Certainly, it's a vigilante anti-hero vengeance story with a highly unlikely scenario and belief has to be suspended to enjoy it. The better title would have been "Gray Vengeance". I won't critique it as I could go on about what was wrong with the logic of the plot, the dialogue, the writing, etc. But in all honesty and reality, I didn't care. I loved it!!! I didn't like Tom Gray, he is morally ambiguous and not even relativistic as he knows he's doing wrong but doesn't care and thinks if he can get through the loopholes then so what. But I will definitely be returning for book 2 (which I have) as the ending was intriguing and I would love to go another round with this testosterone filled action-adventure political thriller series. Sometimes books are just a heck of a lot of fun!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Hellfire & Damnation II by Connie Corcoran Wilson

Hellfire & Damnation II by Connie Corcoran Wilson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Kindle Edition, 170 pages
Published July 28th 2012 by Quad City Press

A collection of stories based on the 9 level's of Dante's Hell. I wasn't terribly impressed with this collection. I love Dante's version of Hell and had been expecting more; perhaps more horror or terror. The stories were mediocre. Some were real duds and the majority were just ok. The last few stories were better than the earlier stories making the average rating come out to a close 3/5.

1. Cold Corpse Carnival - A man died by falling into an ice pit and is kept there frozen, eventually becoming the small town's main (only) attraction. But the 130-odd-year-old corpse is in a state of Limbo. His body may be dead, or more like in suspended animation, but his brain has been completely functional all these years and he's vowed to exact vengeance on people in general who represent the decades of people who have dishonoured his corpse all these years, Just ok. Predictable with an unsatisfying ending. Interesting premise though and I remember reading an article once about a true-life miner's body on display somewhere. (3/5)

2. The Shell - A harsh story of an old Mayan religious fanatic who kidnaps a 12yo girl for Quetzalcoatl. She's there for a few days being raped and the story is a bit hard to read but the focus turns onto the girls courage, intelligence and bravery in concentrating on how to escape. This story gives me better expectations of Wilson's writing than the previous story. (4/5)

3. Tempus Fugit: Resurrection Cemetary - Lady in a white dress ... hitchhiker ... ghost story. meh. (2/5)

4. The Champagne Chandelier - A well-written narrative of an only child who upon getting ready for her mother's funeral looks back upon her flamboyant life with five husbands. She was widowed by them all except for a divorce from one who had two children, one a daughter, the narrator's own age, who was mean, evil and tormented her for the three years their parents were together. A tale of a dysfunctional family with a spooky ending. (4/5)

5. A Spark on the Prairie - This is pure historical fiction. An ex Kiowa Indian Chief who has been shamed for his cowardice narrates the downfall of the Natives and the greediness and lies of the white man until the end when they have all been rounded up onto reservations. Lots of quotes, names and dates, and BORING. (1/5)

6. M.R.M. - Very short but when of the best-written stories so far. A hen-pecked man has been working on an invention to modify his wife back to the way she was when he met her for most of their thirty year marriage. (4/5)

7. A Bridge Too Far - Three people are in some type of music competition, maybe reality show, this night they had to form a group, write an original song, then they will perform it the next day. The bridge to the chorus is stumping the songwriter of the group, she and the lyricist can't stand the arrogant cowboy singer and at the last minute have a plan to get rid of him. Short and sweet ... make that devious. Nothing rally happens though. (2/5)

8. Letters to LeClaire - A tragic little story set in 1920 where a brother returns home to bury his only sister and last remaining relative, age 23. He finds her correspondence in the house and reads it during the night he spends with the coffin, including his own letters while determining on the morrow to find out just exactly how his sister died. I liked the atmosphere of this one. (4/5)

9. Room Service - This was funny! On the way to the BEA a humourist writer finds herself on the same plane as her agent, a woman who has never smiled in the seven years she's known her. Trying to be friendly, she's rebuffed as the agent in the seat in front of her says she needs a nap then proceeds to recline her seat back as far as possible. The anger builds inside our author until, at the hotel, she ends up killing more than one person. (5/5)

10. Oxymorons - This one is a mystery that went over well with me. A secret service guy for the possible next Republican party leader talks with a close friend about this man's recent attempt on his life, the recent "accidental" death of his wife and many of the deep dark secrets of his past. I thought I knew what was going to happen, something much more sinister than the actual ending but it was a good read. (3/5)

11. The Bureau - A longer story than the others, this is a tale of family betrayal, greed, and murder. Illegal organ transplant harvesting is the theme and once one commits their first crime the next becomes much easier, especially when you keep it all in the family. (3/5)

View all my reviews

Friday, April 10, 2015

Dear Canada: If I Die Before I Wake: The Flu Epidemic Diary of Fiona Macgregor, Toronto, Ontario, 1918 by Jean Little

If I Die Before I Wake: The Flu Epidemic Diary of Fiona Macgregor, Toronto, Ontario, 1918 by Jean Little
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 240 pages
Published 2007 by Scholastic Canada

Dear Canada series

Jean Little's contributions to this series are exceptional and "If I Die Before I Wake" is no different. Little portrays life in 1918 Toronto vividly. The Spanish Flu Pandemic is, of course, the main theme but various other topics are also explored: the last year of WWI, Armistice Day, class distinctions, women doctors and the growing changes in women's freedom. General everyday life is explored deeply showing the great conveniences now available since the parent/grandparent's Victorian days and the hardships the reader will notice compared with modern day's easy use of technology. Fiona introduces us to her unique family consisting of multiple twins, widowed father and Aunt caretaker bringing great character development and a charming, lovely household that we grieve with when the obvious death(s) occur(s). I was surprised though because I thought clues were being given that a certain character would be the one who perished and I, thankfully!, was wrong. The book is better given to the older age range of this series (8-12) due to the amount of death and descriptions of the disease. The ending is satisfying enough but the usual epilogue which tells what happened to the characters after the book was unusually depressing. Also includes some good photographs at the end, though more seem to be from Alberta & Manitoba than Toronto, where the book is set.

Beastly Verse by JooHee Yoon

Beastly Verse by JooHee Yoon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 48 pages
Published April 7th 2015 by Enchanted Lion Books

An illustrated picture book of famous poetry about animals from the quaint to the silly to the serious. There are free verse, rhyming stanzas and even one limerick. Poets include those hailed for children such as Christina Rossetti, those famed for the humorous such as Ogden Nash and the masters such as Blake. I always say I'm not a poetry person, and I'm not really. But! This is the way I like my poetry: presented in an illustrated children's collection. Several of these have prominent places on my shelves and this one is worthy of buying also. I read an egalley provided by the publisher so did not get the full experience of this but some of the pages are even magnificent fold-outs. The illustration is gorgeous! It reminds me of a childhood book of poems I have by Polish illustrator Krystyna Stasiak. JooHee Yoon's artwork is very reminiscent of the 70s: wild colour combinations such as orange/yellow, green/yellow and vibrant green/blue, pattern mixing such as polka dots/bricks, diamonds/gingham and tiger print/leaves. His work is obviously highly printmaking-based but I'd guess he adds sketching/drawing as well. The only complaint I have is that on a couple of occasions the colour of the text vs background was a poor choice making a few poems difficult to read such as yellow text on a patterned blue/green background and light blue text on a yellow background but most of the time the contrast works well. A wonderful collection and variety of poems that children will enjoy and marvellous, bold, bright illustration to make it simply fun to read.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Deliver Us: Three Decades of Murder and Redemption in the Infamous I-45/Texas Killing Fields by Kathryn Casey

Deliver Us: Three Decades of Murder and Redemption in the Infamous I-45/Texas Killing Fields by Kathryn Casey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paperback, 352 pages
Published November 25th 2014 by Harper

I wasn't particularly acquainted with these murders which all occurred along a specific portion of the Texas I-45 near Galveston so it was all pretty much new information to me. This is my first true crime by this author also and I found her writing incredibly sympathetic to the victims and their families which I always appreciate when reading modern accounts of murder. This book covers a lot of information and many, many cases while covering a time period from the late '60s to 2000. Some victims had a short amount of time spent on them while others had chapters while Casey covered trials that brought their killers to justice. Casey manages to skillfully keep the abundant information from becoming an overload by presenting the Killing Fields' history in chronological order and revisiting cases when new evidence is found while following the future crimes. In the end, Casey names the most likely suspect in each case where viable persons of interest were suspected but evidence wasn't solid enough for an arrest. She also concludes that the sheer number of small town police, their methods and politics played a major role in the number of unsolved crimes in this area. I found this a quick, engrossing read and love Casey's writing style. I'll certainly seek out some of her other books.