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 some of the books I read. To read about all the books I read and comment on, visit me at LibraryThing or Goodreads.

I've been blogging since 2007 and at this point (July 2015) am trying my hand at turning the theme of this blog towards mystery, thriller, and crime, fiction and nonfiction. I have some special interest topics and categories within this broad genre which include (but are not limited to) serial killers, scandi-crime, Victorian history and historicals, history of the criminally insane and asylums, psychopathology, death, funerary practices and burial, corpses, true crime and anything dealing with the real life macabre, or that portrayed in fiction.

I also read a short story a day from various collections, sometimes anthologies othertimes collections of a single author's work. These reviews are also posted here and while they are of mixed genre the mystery, thriller, horror, gothic and macabre often appear within their pages as well.

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

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday: Books in the Mail

Last week was a good book week for me! A few books to review and a HUGE box of books I won for the Canadian Book Challenge 3 courtesy of John @ The Book Mine Set. Thank you!

From Simon & Schuster US:

“‘Oh, little one,’ he whispered, as he gently stroked her cheek, the first time he had touched her in fifteen years. ‘What have they done to you? What have they done to us all?’ ”In his latest dark and chilling Charlie Parker thriller, New York Times bestselling author John Connolly takes us to the border between Maine and Canada. It is there, in the vast and porous Great North Woods, that a dangerous smuggling operation is taking place, run by a group of disenchanted former soldiers, newly returned from Iraq. Illicit goods—drugs, cash, weapons, even people—are changing hands. And something else has changed hands. Something ancient and powerful and evil.The authorities suspect something is amiss, but what they can’t know is that it is infinitely stranger and more terrifying than anyone can imagine. Anyone, that is, except private detective Charlie Parker, who has his own intimate knowledge of the darkness in men’s hearts. As the smugglers begin to die one after another in apparent suicides, Parker is called in to stop the bloodletting. The soldiers’ actions and the objects they have smuggled have attracted the attention of the reclusive Herod, a man with a taste for the strange. And where Herod goes, so too does the shadowy figure that he calls the Captain. To defeat them, Parker must form an uneasy alliance with a man he fears more than any other, the killer known as the Collector. . . .

From Hachette Book Group:

FBI behavioral psychologist Daniel Clark is a man on a mission. After over a year of tracking a mysterious serial killer known as Eve, he feels closer than ever to discovering the murderer's true identity when he finds Eve's latest victim still alive.

In an effort to save the girl, Daniel narrowly escapes becoming another casualty on Eve's list. Despite seeing the killer with his own eyes, a gunshot wound to the head leaves him with amnesia, unable to remember any details from the incident. His drive to find the killer takes on a whole new meaning when Eve takes yet another victim, one Daniel knows all too well-his estranged wife Heather.

Determined to bring her back alive, Daniel takes his obsession to a dangerous new level, even recreating his own near-death experience in attempt to recall anything from his encounter with Eve. Soon enough he finds himself fighting for Heather's life, and, in the end, his own.

From Simon & Schuster Canada:

In the future, Utopia has finally been achieved thanks to medical nanotechnology and a powerful ethic of social welfare and mutual consideration. This perfect world isn't that perfect though, and three young girls stand up to totalitarian kindness and super-medicine by attempting suicide via starvation. It doesn't work, but one of the girls--Tuan Kirie--grows up to be a member of the World Health Organization. As a crisis threatens the harmony of the new world, Tuan rediscovers another member of her suicide pact, and together they must help save the planet...from itself.

From Harper Collins Canada:

The 'No-mouth Woman', 'The Man Under the Bed', and the 'Human Faced Fish' are supposedly urban legends. But what few people know is that just at the moment when someone believes them to be true, they become reality and appear before them! Enter Daisuke Asou, a folklore detective who deals with such cases. He calls these fantastic creatures 'allegories'. What's a folklore detective to do?

From Random House US:

An extraordinary fiction debut, Think of a Number is an exquisitely plotted novel of suspense that grows relentlessly darker and more frightening as its pace accelerates, forcing its deeply troubled characters to moments of startling self-revelation.

Arriving in the mail over a period of weeks are taunting letters that end with a simple declaration, “Think of any number…picture it…now see how well I know your secrets.” Amazingly, those who comply find that the letter writer has predicted their random choice exactly. For Dave Gurney, just retired as the NYPD’s top homicide investigator and forging a new life with his wife, Madeleine, in upstate New York, the letters are oddities that begin as a diverting puzzle but quickly ignite a massive serial murder investigation.

What police are confronted with is a completely baffling killer, one who is fond of rhymes filled with threats and warnings, whose attention to detail is unprecedented, and who has an uncanny knack for disappearing into thin air. Even more disturbing, the scale of his ambition seems to widen as events unfold.

Brought in as an investigative consultant, Dave Gurney soon accomplishes deductive breakthroughs that leave local police in awe. Yet, even as he matches wits with his seemingly clairvoyant opponent, Gurney’s tragedy-marred past rises up to haunt him, his marriage approaches a dangerous precipice, and finally, a dark, cold fear builds that he’s met an adversary who can’t be stopped.

In the end, fighting to keep his bearings amid a whirlwind of menace and destruction, Gurney sees the truth of what he’s become – what we all become when guilty memories fester – and how his wife Madeleine’s clear-eyed advice may be the only answer that makes sense.

A work that defies easy labels -- at once a propulsive masterpiece of suspense and an absorbing immersion in the lives of characters so real we seem to hear their heartbeats – Think of a Number is a novel you’ll not soon forget.

Won from John at The Book Mine Set! This is a box of 13 Canadian books, one for each province/territory. Thank you!!

In the white-shingled houses of Beinn Barra, young men shine their shoes and young girls curl their hair. It’s Saturday night, there’s a dance in the parish hall, and Benny Doucet is playing. They come from all over Cape Breton to hear “Strings” Doucet play the fiddle.

But it is 1939. England has declared war on Germany. Canada will march beside the mother country. Three friends enlist in the legendary Cape Breton Highlanders: fisherman Hector MacDonald, gifted musician Benny Doucet, and Calum MacPherson, who has been accepted at Dalhousie to study medicine. The three friends sail off to war in November 1941.

The families wait for word of their boys. Gunner MacDonald, a returned man himself, knows only too well what his fisherman son will witness in the trenches of Europe. Joachim and Ona MacPherson seek, and fail to find, solace in each other. Napoleon and Flora Doucet finger their rosary beads at the kitchen table and pray for Benny’s safety.

Where White Horses Gallop is a haunting tale of a war where emotional shrapnel riddles the spirit long after the guns a continent away have grown silent.

Eddie Dancer returns for another escapade in this hard-edged and witty mystery. When Paul Menzies—an out of shape, middle-aged, advertising executive—is fired, he cannot imagine anything making his day worse. However, when he walks into an argument at an ATM machine that turns abusive, he ends up with massive injuries, a hospital bill, assault charges, and a $50,000 lawsuit. About to reach a settlement, Paul is instead lured into a winner-takes-all fight with the brawler who put him in the hospital. Paul's wife hires tough-talking, private detective Eddie Dancer to prevent the fight, but he realizes that stopping what the media have termed "the mismatched fight of the year" is even beyond him.

With the publication of Call of the Wild in 1903, Jack London became the most popular author in America. This story is a remembrance of his time in the 1897 Yukon Gold Rush and the dog that was his friend there. This dog, whose name was also Jack,was the model for Buck in Call of the Wild. Our story imagines what might have happened to the dog who was left behind, and what adventures he might have. It’s memory... the man remembers the dog, the dog remembers the man. Barry Moser, the accomplished and imaginative illustrator, does the wood cut images for this book.

Inspired by the most famous of all Canadian children's books, L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, this cookbook combines easy step-by-step recipes with charming watercolours of Anne and her friends, and quotations from three of the ever-popular Anne books. Never before have good things to eat and drink been so successfully derived from cooking episodes in children's literature. From 'Poetical Egg Salad Sandwiches' to 'Anne's Liniment Cake' and Diana Barry's Favourite Raspberry Cordial', these delicious treats will be fun to make - and they'll be sure to turn out well because they were kitchen-tested by a twelve-year-old who had perfect results!

The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz is the novel that established Mordecai Richler as one of the world’s best comic writers. Growing up in the heart of Montreal’s Jewish ghetto, Duddy Kravitz is obsessed with his grandfather’s saying, “A man without land is nothing.” In his relentless pursuit of property and his drive to become a somebody, he will wheel and deal, he will swindle and forge, he will even try making movies. And in spite of the setbacks he suffers, the sacrifices he must make along the way, Duddy never loses faith that his dream is worth the price he must pay. This blistering satire traces the eventful coming-of-age of a cynical dreamer. Amoral, inventive, ruthless, and scheming, Duddy Kravitz is one of the most magnetic anti-heroes in literature, a man who learns the hard way that dreams are never exactly what they seem, even when they do come true.

Each year, for generations, poor, ill-clad Newfoundland fisherman sailed out 'to the ice' to hunt seals in the hope of a few penniew in wages from the prosperous merchants of St. John's. The year 1914 witnessed the worst in the long line of tragedies that were part of their harsh way of life.

For two long, freezing days and nights a party of seal hunters--one hundred thirty-two men--were left stranded on an icefield floating in the North Atlantic in winter. They were thinly dressed, with almost no food, and with no hope of shelter on the ice against the snow or the constant, bitter winds. To survive they had to keep moving, always moving. Those who lay down to rest died.

Heroes emerged--one man froze his lips badly, biting off the icicles that were blinding his comrades. Other men froze in their tracks, or went mad with pain and walked off the edge of the icefield. All the while, ships steamed about nearby, unnoticing. And by the time help arrived, two thirds of the men were dead.

This is an incredible story of bungling and greed, of suffering and heroism. The disaster is carefully traced, step by step. With the aid of compelling, contemporary photographs the book paints an unforgettable portrait of the bloody trade of seal hunting among the icefields when ships--and men--were expendable.

In 1973, outside of Kenora, Ontario, Raymond Seymour, an eighteen-year-old Ojibway boy, is taken by a local policeman to a remote island and left for dead.

A year later, the Byrd family arrives in Kenora. They have come to stay at “the Retreat,” a commune run by the self-styled guru Doctor Amos. The Doctor is an enigmatic man who spouts bewildering truisms, and who bathes naked every morning in the pond at the edge of the Retreat while young Everett Byrd watches from the bushes. Lizzy, the eldest of the Byrd children, cares for her younger brothers Fish and William, and longs for what she cannot find at the Retreat. When Lizzy meets Raymond, everything changes, and Lizzy comes to understand the real difference between Raymond’s world and her own. A tragedy and a love story, the novel moves towards a conclusion that is both astonishing and heartbreaking.

Set during the summer of the Ojibway occupation of Anicinabe Park in Kenora, The Retreat is a finely nuanced, deeply felt novel that tells the story of the complicated love between a white girl and a native boy, and of a family on the verge of splintering forever. It is also a story of the bond between two brothers who were separated in childhood, and whose lives and fates intertwine ten years later.

James Houston made his first journey to the Canadian Arctic in 1948 in search of a new land to paint. There he found a warm, friendly people living in a vast, cold, hauntingly beautiful world. He lived with the Inuit and Indian people in the Arctic and grew to understand them and their way of life. He also helped introduce Inuit culture to the world with his remarkable art and stories.

Here are four of his exciting Inuit folktales--Akavak, Tiktaliktak, The White Archer, and Wolf Run--collected for the first time in one beautiful volume. Houston's striking illustrations for each story bring the Arctic and its people to life. This inspired collection is sure to fascinate readers of all ages.

A young chef who revels in local bounty, a long-ago murder that remains unsolved, the homeless of Stanley Park, a smooth-talking businessman named Dante - these are the ingredients of Timothy Taylor's stunning debut novel - Kitchen Confidential meets The Edible Woman.

Trained in France, Jeremy Papier, the young Vancouver chef, is becoming known for his unpretentious dishes that highlight fresh, local ingredients. His restaurant, The Monkey's Paw Bistro, while struggling financially, is attracting the attention of local foodies, and is not going unnoticed by Dante Beale, owner of a successful coffeehouse chain, Dante's Inferno. Meanwhile, Jeremy's father, an eccentric anthropologist, has moved into Stanley Park to better acquaint himself with the homeless and their daily struggles for food, shelter and company. Jeremy's father also has a strange fascination for a years-old unsolved murder case, known as "The Babes in the Wood" and asks Jeremy to help him research it.Dante is dying to get his hands on The Monkey's Paw. When Jeremy's elaborate financial kite begins to fall, he is forced to sell to Dante and become his employee. The restaurant is closed for renovations, Inferno style. Jeremy plans a menu for opening night that he intends to be the greatest culinary statement he's ever made, one that unites the homeless with high foody society in a paparazzi-covered celebration of "local splendour."

Long before she made her first trip to Afghanistan as an embedded reporter for The Globe and Mail, Christie Blatchford was already one of Canada’s most respected and eagerly read journalists. Her vivid prose, her unmistakable voice, her ability to connect emotionally with her subjects and readers, her hard-won and hard-nosed skills as a reporter–these had already established her as a household name. But with her many reports from Afghanistan, and in dozens of interviews with the returned members of the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and others back at home, she found the subject she was born to tackle. Her reporting of the conflict and her deeply empathetic observations of the men and women who wear the maple leaf are words for the ages, fit to stand alongside the nation’s best writing on war.

It is a testament to Christie Blatchford’s skills and integrity that along with the admiration of her readers, she won the respect and trust of the soldiers. They share breathtakingly honest accounts of their desire to serve, their willingness to confront fear and danger in the battlefield, their loyalty towards each other and the heartbreak occasioned by the loss of one of their own. Grounded in insights gained over the course of three trips to Afghanistan in 2006, and drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews not only with the servicemen and -women with whom she shared so much, but with their commanders and family members as well, Christie Blatchford creates a detailed, complex and deeply affecting picture of military life in the twenty-first century.

Inter Alia is the long-awaited first collection by one of Canada’s most talented young poets. His work has been widely published in journals and was selected by Lorna Crozier and Patrick Lane for Breathing Fire 2: Canada's New Poets. He is heir to the English metaphysical poets in many of his preoccupations, with a good dash of Robert Bly, but his technique is very much influenced by his interests in Oriental forms – haiku, waka, haibun, etc. Seymour is smart, yes; but this is above all poetry of deep feeling. Its publication marks the appearance of a unique and important new voice in Canadian poetry.

The Plain Fact of the Matter

Holding the cup in your hands, white. Watching it find a way to your lips;
the time it takes a cigarette to reach my mouth. You look as though you
are about to expose yourself, give up some secret. Or not. Your finger
circles the rim which catches your gaze; the one thing this moment
you want to understand without words. Ever have. Right before I
speak, you cock your head, bring your ear in close for this new,
less cruel language-in the cup, the shy turn of your neck.

Smoke is exhaled, broomswept dust in a sunlit room.

White Bird Black Bird is a fictional account of the clash of cultures when the indigenous people of northern Canada come face to face with the demands of southern consumers and their need for oil and gas. The story follows the fortunes of a young reporter in a idealistic crusade to right wrongs and find a mission in life only to discover that the northern mysteries have no easy solutions. The story is based on fact and many of the issues it raises are still alive today.

The Last Crossing is a sweeping tale of breathtaking quests, adventurous detours, and hard-won redemption. Englishmen Charles and Addington Gaunt are ordered by their tyrannical industrialist father to find their brother Simon, who has gone missing in the wilds of the American West. Charles, a disillusioned artist, and Addington, a disgraced military captain, set off to remote Fort Benton on the edge of the Montana frontier. The brothers hire the enigmatic Jerry Potts, a half Blackfoot, half Scot guide, to lead them North, where Simon was last seen. Addington takes command of the mission, buying enough provisions to fill two wagons, and hires sycophantic journalist Caleb Ayto to record the journey for posterity. As the party heads out, it grows to include the fiery Lucy Stoveall, Civil War veteran Custis Straw, and saloonkeeper Aloysius Dooley. This unlikely posse becomes entangled in an unfolding drama that forces each one of them to confront personal demons. Told from alternating points of view with vivid flashbacks, The Last Crossing is a novel of ruggedness and salvation, an epic masterpiece set in a time when worlds collided, were destroyed, and were built anew.


  1. I disabled anonymous and still got constant spam and had to turn on word ver. as much as I hated to. Something needs to be done about those spammers.

    Enjoy all your new books. You sure got some wonderful ones. My mailbox is here Have a wonderful week and happy reading!

  2. Wow, that was one great win! All of your new books look good to me.

  3. Jack London's Dog sounds like a good book. Have a good week!

  4. The John Connelly book looks yummy! Hope you like it. My mailbox is at The Crowded Leaf.

  5. I don't read the Globe and Mail much but I always enjoyed reading what Christie Blatchford wrote, I didn't know there was a book, I'm going to have to check that out.


  6. Lots of terrific books, but I am super envious of Jack London's Dog!

    Happy reading!

  7. Wow, great pile of books!!!! HAPPY READING!