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Showing posts from March, 2015

Chinese Turkestan: A Photographic Journey Through an Ancient Civilization by Ryan Pyle

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Chinese Turkestan: A Photographic Journey Through an Ancient Civilization by Ryan Pyle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 192 pages
Published September 5th 2014 by Ryan Pyle Productions


An interesting book, with an interesting topic. A look at a part of China inhabited predominately by Muslims, with thousands of years of history. Pictures of the people and buildings with the old and ancient beside the encroaching Communist China's signature highrise white apartment/office buildings. I enjoyed the use of black and white photography; it appropriately fit the atmosphere the photographer was presenting. My problem with the book was its design. A photographic essay such as this is usually presented in an oversized book (this is close to a standard sized hardcover). The pictures were squeezed together on pages when they would have been done better justice had they been framed by more negative space on the page. And most annoyingly were photos which spanned across a two page spread landi…

Ten apples up on top! by Theo LeSieg

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Ten apples up on top! by Theo LeSieg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 59 pages
Published by Beginner Books, 1961

Dr. Seuss' Beginner Books

One of my absolute favourite Seuss books! I read it myself as a child and it went through my boys as being a favourite at one time or another also. This is a perfect one for reading aloud because of the rhythm of the verse. You can have a lot of fun with it. Ten Apples is also very basic reading, simple phonetic words, easiest sight words and plenty of repetition and yet it conveys an exciting story which is continuously in motion. From start to finish there is movement on every page. McKie's illustrations are wonderful as well; large simple, bold black outlines. These capture the reader's attention and his pictures carry the physical energy of the story with little action lines but also effectively using slanting lines to carry the movement across and off the page. A lifetime keeper for the classic Dr. Seuss shelf in my home.




Winemaker Detective Series (3) Nightmare in Burgundy by Jean-Pierre Alaux

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Nightmare in Burgundy by Jean-Pierre Alaux
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paperback, 140 pages
Published July 31st 2014 by Le French Book
(first published in French, 2004)

Winemaker Detective Series (3)


The third book in this charming series is not quite up to par with the previous mystery but still brings plenty of murder, mayhem and wine to the table. There is a puzzle, along with two deaths, that must be unravelled; and Benjamin Cooker finds himself calling upon an old dying friend, a monk to help him decipher the Latin clues. I really enjoyed the Catholic aspect of this particular story. The relationship between Cook and Virgile is a warm strong bond between a Catholic and an unbeliever bringing about many interesting discussions. I highly enjoy this duo who casually stumble upon mysteries on their travels as wine critics/tasters. This book, the third, does take some assumption that you will know who the characters are so there is little to no introduction or background on them. Which in …

The Color of Courage: A Boy at War: The World War II Diary of Julian Kulski by Julian E. Kulski

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The Color of Courage: A Boy at War: The World War II Diary of Julian Kulski by Julian E. Kulski
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paperback, 450 pages
Published November 7th 2014 by Aquila Polonica
(first published 1979 as "Dying, We Live"

This is the type of book one really can't review. How do you review the memoirs of someone's life, especially the most troubling time of their life. I finished this about a week ago and needed the time to recover before putting down my thoughts here. The author wrote these memoirs at the age of 16 while convalescing in the hospital after being liberated from a German POW at the end of WWII, at the suggestion of his doctor as an aid in his mental recovery. The memoirs were first published in 1979 and have been thankfully reprinted again. This is a book that should always be available for people to read as an historic reminder of what happened to Poland and the Polish people during the Nazi occupation and Russian invasion, their resilience, th…

2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge - COMPLETED

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2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge

I participated last year and it really helped me to read these books that I can't stop myself from requesting.  Same as last year I am self-imposing a rule of not including graphic novels since that would defeat my reasons for participating in this challenge.  Otherwise the sign-up is here. and the rules are:


- The challenge will run from Jan 1, 2015 – Dec 31, 2015.
- Any genre, release date, request date, length, etc. counts so long as it came from Edelweiss or Netgalley.

Last year I signed up for Bronze level and completed that quite easily but never did quite make it to Silver so I'm going to go with the same and hope to make it up to the next level.

Bronze - 10 books

Post.

1. Dark Screams: Volume One by edited Brian James Freeman
2. The Settling Earth: A Collection of Short Stories by Rebecca Burns
3. Until You Are Dead, Dead, Dead: The Hanging of Albert Edwin Batson by Jim Bradshaw
4. My Pa the Polar Bear by Jackie French
5.…

Hot Dogs and Hamburgers: Unlocking Life's Potential by Inspiring Literacy at Any Age by Rob Shindler

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Hot Dogs and Hamburgers: Unlocking Life's Potential by Inspiring Literacy at Any Age by Rob Shindler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paperback, 206 pages
Published December 1st 2012 by River Grove Books

I love finding little gems like this inspirational memoir. Shindler has a son with severe learning disabilities which mainly make him unable to read. As a father he fails his "experiment" in trying to teach his son to read and decides that if he can learn to teach adults (people he doesn't love) to read with patience he may be able to bring those skills home and put them to use in helping his son read. I was drawn to this little book as I taught both my sons to read, the eldest was advanced and had started on his own by age 3. That was a lot of fun. I just added in the phonics and the rest was natural for him. My second son is autistic and has many learning disabilities, some which sound identical to Schindler's son. He went to elementary school half days and was homescho…

The Governess by Evelyn Hervey (H.R.F. Keating)

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The Governess by Evelyn Hervey  (H.R.F. Keating)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Paperback, 254 pages
Published December 20th 2012 by Bloomsbury Readers
first published November 1983

Harriet Unwin Trilogy (1)
Bloomsbury Readers

A Victorian cozy mystery written by H.R.F. Keating under a pen name. This is the first in a trilogy. It was a fun, light, quick read for me. Overdramatic and unrealistic, especially in the portrayal of the stubborn police inspector. However, it was a pleasant romp with lots of atmosphere and dealings with the downstairs goings on in a Victorian household. The mystery was not too complicated being more involved in proving the governess's innocence than in a real secret of who the perpetrator was but, the reveal for motive at the end was amusing. Nothing too stimulating but an entertaining cozy read to which I'd most certainly read the sequels.




Morris the Moose (An Early I Can Read Book) by B. (Bernard) Wiseman

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Morris the Moose by Bernard Wiseman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 32 pages
Published April 1st 1989 by HarperCollins Publishers
(first published January 28th 1959)

An Early I Can Read Book

I haven't read a book from my "I Can Read" collection for a while! Morris was not a favourite of mine as a child but my youngest son enjoyed his stories. The illustrations are cute, as are most from the '50s, Wiseman has a bit of Syd Hoff style to his animal people. A cute story that has Morris the moose trying to convince a cow that he is a moose since they share many of the same features. Upon asking a deer to solve their disagreement, the deer tells them they both are obviously deer and so on until the animals realize they can be the same and different at the same time. A fun one to read aloud; quite silly and humorous.




Winemaker Detective Mysteries #2 Grand Cru Heist by Jean-Pierre Alaux & Noel Balen

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Grand Cru Heist by Jean-Pierre Alaux & Noel Balen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kindle Edition, 104 pages
Published January 27th 2014 by Le French Book
(first published in French, 2004)

Winemaker Detective Mysteries (#2)

This is the second book in a series, I haven't read the first but it was easy to jump in at this point and as far as I could tell no previous mention of the last case was mentioned with the characters being introduced very well. A few others were spoken of but never actually appeared causing me to think they might have been in the first book. I'm not much on cozy mysteries unless they are golden age British ones, but this absolutely delighted me. A very light-hearted, fast read but completely compelling. I loved the main character and his assistant! The mystery isn't exactly the most involved or that hard to figure out but it is a charming read. The atmosphere of this book and the whole series is wine country, wine connoisseurs, cigars and, fine French dining…

The Autobiography of Jessie H. Pomeroy, Written by Himself, 1875

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The Autobiography of Jessie H. Pomeroy, Written by Himself by Jessie H. Pomeroy

ebook, 70 pages, 2002
Published 1875

Link to Free Ebook

After reading "The Wilderness of Ruin: A Tale of Madness, Fire, and the Hunt for America's Youngest Serial Killer" by Rosanne Montillo, I quickly found an ecopy of this public domain document. Originally published over two issues with illustrations in the "Boston Sunday Times", shortly after his guilty verdict and sentenced to hang, the then 16yo Pomeroy wrote this book (long article) whose main purpose is to plead for his sentence to be commuted to life (or even thrown out). He regales us with all the evidence and counter-evidence so to say that he did not commit these crimes, but if he did he was insane. After reading Montillo's book, which uses this document as a source several times I knew the whole story and found this first-hand account of Jesse's fascinating. Montillo's conclusions, through extensive research …

DNF - The Great War: Stories Inspired by Items from the First World War illustrated by Jim Kay

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The Great War: Stories Inspired by Items from the First World War illustrated by Jim Kay

Hardcover, 304 pages
Expected publication: April 14th 2015 by Candlewick Press

DNF

NOTE: I don't as a rule post my DNF books here on my blog but felt compelled to post my experience with this book as I found it so offensive.

I read three stories then decided to DNF. You'll see why as follows:

1. Our Jacko by Michael Morpurgo - I've really enjoyed the books I've read by this author so was looking forward to this one. It turned me the wrong way though. I found it overly sentimental in a fake emotional way that goes for the heartstrings and is supposed to make the reader all weepy. Frankly, it made me roll my eyes. There was an emphasis on white flowers and the symbolism of them which made me think of the "white poppy" campaign that goes on these days on Remembrance Day, which I am emphatically opposed to. (1/5)

2. Another Kind of Missing by A.L. Kennedy - The war is over an…

Dear Canada: Days of Toil and Tears: The Child Labour Diary of Flora Rutherford, Almonte, Ontario, 1887 by Sarah Ellis

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Days of Toil and Tears: The Child Labour Diary of Flora Rutherford, Almonte, Ontario, 1887 by Sarah Ellis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

219 pages, Hardcover
Published January 1st 2008 by Scholastic Canada

Dear Canada

This is a decent enough story, entertaining and a quick read. It's a simple tale of the daily life of an orphan girl who goes to live with her aunt and uncle, both workers at a textile mill where she also takes a job to support her addition to the family. I didn't find this book nearly as historically interesting as many of the others in this series as it didn't really live up to the subject suggested in the title: "toil", "tears" and "child labour". The picture on the cover looks like a street urchin or a waif, but our main character is certainly not as such, but rather a robust, healthy (though poor) girl living with family who loves her and sees she's taken care of to the best of their ability. The Victorian era is a particular in…

The Wilderness of Ruin: A Tale of Madness, Fire, and the Hunt for America's Youngest Serial Killer by Roseanne Montillo

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The Wilderness of Ruin: A Tale of Madness, Fire, and the Hunt for America's Youngest Serial Killer by Roseanne Montillo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

egalley from Edelweiss, 320 pages
Published March 17th 2015 by William Morrow & Company

Like Montillo's first book, "The Lady and Her Monsters", this book is not just simply about one thing. It is a history of a young criminal though two murders does not a serial killer make, named Jesse Pomeroy. Placing the reader in the late 1800s from approximately 1870 onwards, this is a social history of that time in Boston. Many topics are covered and even entire chapters are devoted to Oliver Wendall Holmes, Herman Melville, the history of mental illness to this point in time, the great Boston fire and Boston's World Fair of the 1880s. Jessie Pomeroy's life is detailed from birth to death, most of which he spent in prison in solitary confinement, upwards of fifty years. Mental illness, insanity pleas, the recognition of not…

Bluebeard's Egg by Margaret Atwood

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Bluebeard's Egg by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paperback, 304 pages
Published November 1st 1996 by Bantam Dell
(first published 1983)

I'll start off by admitting that I'm a great fan of Atwood's writing but absolutely cannot stand her as a person. This being her earlier work I expected to run into some of the vitriolic, man-hating feminism of hers that I can't tolerate. However, I only came to heads with her a couple of times. I found this collection quite satisfying. Due to my opinion of the author feel free to read my following comments with interest, amusement or offense. These are the thoughts that ran through my mind after reading each story.

A couple of the stories were previously published, but the copyright page gives no further details.

1. Significant Moments in the Life of My Mother - The narrator reminisces about the stories her mother used to tell about her own childhood between the wars. The mother is a wonderful storyteller but, even thoug…

The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker

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The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Paperback, 164 pages
Published November 1st, 1991 by HarperTorch
(first published 1986)

I was addicted to watching the movie "Hell Raiser" when I was a young teen, watching it a multitude of times; the sequels never did anything for me, but the original just really captured my imagination. It was the Cenobites, of course, that intrigued me. I don't think I ever really understood the meaning of anything. So anyway, I've wanted to read the original novella ever since then. Unfortunately, I wasn't impressed. The Cenobites play a minor role, there is no character development in the "good guys" though you are made to really dislike the "bad guys". The overall theme is sensual pleasure to a debaucherous level that turns into the utmost degraded sadism possible. It is, after all, a horror story. Even with this theme though there is no sex and I didn't find the story gross or scary or eve…

No Safe House by Linwood Barclay

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No Safe House by Linwood Barclay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paperback, 464 pages
Published August 5th 2014 by Doubleday Canada

I really must start by saying this is not Barclay's best book when considering the mystery. One must suspend disbelief for this tale just as one does for any action film, say one starring Bruce Willis because that's exactly what this book is: an action thriller. And a roller coaster ride indeed that spans the course of only 24 hours. Several narratives are happening at once: the current action, the events that lead up to the current action and like the author used in the previous book about this family, a running conversation between totally unknown characters which the reader has no idea who they are or what they are talking about until it is slowly revealed in the conversation. I started the book a little in disbelief at how wild the tale was growing but honestly got caught up in the action that I threw belief to the wind and went along for the ride. Th…

No Time for Goodbye by Linwood Barclay

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No Time for Goodbye by Linwood Barclay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kindle Edition, 482 pages
Published (first published September 25th 2007)

There is just something about Linwood Barclay that always captures me. I started reading and didn't come up for air until the next day! A gripping tale of a somewhat unbelievable crime and yet, it's uniqueness just made the read all that more fascinating. I loved the characters, especially the three main ones, a family. I was hooked from page one and particularly loved the author's use of two narratives. Interspersed amongst the main narrative are short chapters which detail an ongoing conversation between two people, which at first makes no sense at all and very slowly reveals to the reader who they are and what they are up to. There are only a couple of Barclay's backlist I hadn't read yet and I chose to read this now as his current novel is about the same family as here so of course I had to read this first :-)




Dark Screams: Volume Two edited by Brian James Freeman & Richard Chizmar

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Dark Screams: Volume Two edited by Brian James Freeman & Richard Chizmar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kindle Edition
Published March 3rd 2015 by Hydra

Dark Screams (2)

This is the second book in this ebook only series that collects five short horror stories by popular authors. Two of the stories in this collection are previously published with the other three being printed for the first time. In the first book, I knew all the authors, this time I only know two of them. However, my favourite story in the collection was by a new-to-me author, Shawntelle Madison.

1. The Deep End by Robert McCammon (1987) - This collection starts with a previously published story by master genre writer McCammon. A typical alien/monster story. Entertaining, I liked it, but the ending was a bit lacklustre. (3/5)

2. Interval by Norman Prentiss (2015) - Starting with a missing plane, which is such a current fear these days, the story progresses into a dark and morbid story of a visit by a demon to those who are…