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Showing posts from June, 2016

Freaks of Sideshow and Film by Mary Brett & Stevan Gould

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Freaks of Sideshow and Film by Mary Brett & Stevan Gould
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 224 pages
Published January 8th 2016 by Schiffer Publishing
Source: egalley via edelweiss


This book isn't very well written. It has an annoying habit of repeating information over and over. There are too many people described in some categories who have *exactly* the same story. For example, every tattooed man/woman would tell tales of how they were captured by natives and forced to be tattooed. Also, the picture captions are exact quotes from the text and sometimes don't even tell you who or what you are looking at! That said the pictures are great and I did learn about a few interesting people I'd never heard of, though most of them "freak enthusiasts" will already know about.




Barry: The Bravest Saint Bernard by Lynn Hall

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Barry: The Bravest Saint Bernard by Lynn Hall
Illus. by  Antonio Castro
Step Into Reading Step 4
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paperback, 48 pages
Published October 13th 1992 by Random House
first published 1973 by Garrard Publishing
Source: Purchased new a very long time ago


This is a wonderful true story for early chapter book readers. Obviously, the characters, and perhaps this particular Barry are composites. However it tells an exciting and sweet story of the remarkable Saint Bernard dogs housed at a monastery of the same name, and the monks who devoted themselves to rescuing people in the Alps. Both those lost or buried in avalanches. It became a tradition afterwards to name the finest dog Barry so that there would always be one. This edition of the book has new illustrations, rather than the originals found in the "Garrard Publishers" first edition. The story is current to the 1990s but I've found out that though the monks are still there running a Hospice the dogs beca…

Visits to the Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin Mary by Saint Alfonso Maria de Liguori

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Visits to the Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin Mary by Saint Alfonso Maria de Liguori
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Booklet, 72 pages
Published 1985 by Liguori Publications
First published 1745
Source: gifted


A truly wonderful devotional to help you pray during Eucharistic Adoration or simply in front of the Tabernacle on any day. Written in 1745 by Saint Alphonsus Liguori in Italian, this translation has been kept as specific as possible to the original but tries to "transpose the genius of the Italian language into the American idiom". The booklet is stamped with an Imprimatur. There are 31 "Visits" included here, one for each day of a month. Each devotion contains a few prayers which are identical every day and two which are specific to each day's particular reading.

A visit proceeds as follows: Introductory prayer (the same every day), The Visit (there are 31 of these, each praises the Lord, tells stories and speaks of the Host actually being Our Lord), S…

Hail Mary by Henri De Longchamp

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Hail Mary by Henri De Longchamp
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Booklet, 24 pages
Published 2001 by The Dominican Centre, St. Jude's Shrine, Montreal,
Source: gifted

The "Hail Mary" is very dear to me and when one converts to Catholicism it is so comforting to find this prayer that praises Our Lady and asks for her prayers in return because we are sinners, praying for all the sinners and to be there praying for us right at the moment of our death. This little booklet is a collection of sermons by the author commentating on each line of the prayer. First sermon is on Hail Mary, 2nd on "Full of Grace", etc. It's not riveting reading but a nice explanation and a book I've passed on to someone else.



Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

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Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 240 pages
Published June 21st 2016 by Knopf Canada
Source: egalley via edelweiss & Review Copy from Penguin Random House Canada

Hogarth Shakespeare (3)


I haven't read Anne Tyler before so don't know what she typically writes, however, "Vinegar Girl" is a light romantic comedy much like a Harlequin Romance than anything I typically read. Not really my type of book, but it was a fun story and I liked the characters. Tyler has only kept basic elements of the Shakespeare play. She's played around with the names (Bianca is Bunny, etc) and included some subterfuge (getting married to get a green card) and the Kate in this story lacks social grace (rather than being a shrew). The plot also centres on an arranged marriage though in a much more 21st century way! It's a cute rom-com and would probably make a sweet movie and is certainly great for a beach read. Just not my type of book, though.



St. Michael the Archangel by Benedictine Nuns

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St. Michael the Archangel by Benedictine Nuns
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paperback, 81 pages
Published 2006 by TAN Books
Original published 1962
Source: gift


Fascinating, fascinating! I am a Catholic convert so I'm always discovering things I didn't know. I hadn't realised the power of St. Michel and the special things we can pray especially to him for intervention. This book starts with all the Biblical history of the archangel, then goes on to the history of his veneration. Finally, the meat of the booklet contains many prayers and a litany to St. Michael. He is the perfect one to be calling upon during these evil, wicked times of persecution. *Amen*



Guide For the Hour of Nocturnal Adoration in The Home by J.A.Floersh

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Guide For the Hour of Nocturnal Adoration in The Home by J.A.Floersh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paperback, 23 pages
Published by Louisville
Source: gift


Really a beautiful little book that guides you through Nightly Devotion to the Sacred Heart practised at home. The whole ceremony is here with when to stand and sit, all the prayers and litanies, time for reflection and what to reflect upon. This can be done between the hours of 9pm to 5am, once a month. I read the book out loud as a prayer service for myself, following the directions, starting at 9:15 pm. This is not something I had ever really heard of before, so I did some googling and found a site with all the information you could ever want to practice this adoration at home. you can even officially sign-up here to be on the list of night adorers throughout the world! Go to: http://sacredheartholyhour.com/index....



Hearing Voices, Living Fully: Living with the Voices in My Head by Claire Bien

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Hearing Voices, Living Fully: Living with the Voices in My Head by Claire Bien
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paperback, 272 pages
Published June 21st 2016 by Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Source: egalley via edelweiss


One cannot begin to review a person's memoir and give it a rating, especially one as intimate as Claire Bien's story of living with schizophrenia. I have personal experience with the topic of this book but won't go into any further details. At various points, I found Claire's story provocative, inspiring and scary. She tells us first-hand what it is like to live with hearing voices, both good and evil. Claire had two major psychotic events which landed her in the hospital, has lived a life filled with psychiatric care but has chosen to handle her disease without medications. This memoir tells how she conquered the voices and learned to live with them while not relying on medication. She explicitly states, though, that the non-medication route is categorically not…

Thirty Hours with a Corpse: and Other Tales of the Grand Guignol by Maurice Level

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Thirty Hours with a Corpse: and Other Tales of the Grand Guignol by Maurice Level
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Kindle Edition, 228 pages
Published March 16th 2016 by Dover Publications
Source: egalley via netgalley

A collection of every Maurice Level story translated into English (except one). This is a hodge-podge of stories and not all are by any means macabre or suspenseful but they all do have the shocking or at least unexpected ending. As described in the introduction, each of these stories can be considered a one-act play. They are all short and in fact, were produced as plays for the Grand Guignol. Level always wrote his plays as a short story first and then from that adapted it into a play. None of his plays were ever published. My enjoyment of the stories was mixed, with my ratings ranging from 1 to 5 stars but averaged out to a solid 3.5.

Introduction - Excellent introduction to the author's life (of which little is known), a discussion of his work and influences, and informa…

Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello

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Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

ebook, 224 pages
Published June 16th 2010 by Open Road Media
first published 1990
Source: Purchased the kindle edition


I'm a huge fan of Alfred Hitchcock and "Psycho" is one of my favourite of his movies. I've just finished reading Robert Bloch's book and re-watching the original movie to prime myself for reading this account of "the making of" Psycho. An excellent book for the initiated! This takes us from an account of Ed Gein, the depraved killer and grave robber, which inspired Bloch for his book, then to an accounting of Bloch's writing of the book from idea to after publication. Then this book settles into telling the whole story behind how "Psycho" was filmed, publicised and its final legacy. Rebello's book gives away all plot points for the book and movie and really would be of little interest to someone who is not familiar with either. Make no…

The Double Hook by Sheila Watson

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The Double Hook by Sheila Watson; F.T. Flahiff (afterword)
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Paperback, 130 pages
Published 1969 by McClelland & Stewart
first published 1959
Source: purchased secondhand


This is the most incomprehensible book I've ever read. Short blurbs skipping all over about perhaps a dozen people in a rural setting. It never tells you what's happening, you have to infer it. I figure an old lady dies, perhaps her daughter and son killed her. The son runs away, beats up another man so bad he goes blind. The daughter sets the house on fire killing herself. Towards the end, we figure out a character called "the girl" is about to give birth. Now I'm going to read the "Afterword" and see if it tells me what this book was actually about. I can't stand books you have to study and interpret to understand them. One star since I managed to make it to the end. ETA - I'm none the wiser since reading the "Afterword" :-0



Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

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Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paperback, 351 pages
Published February 11th 2016 by MIRA
Hardcover: August 9th 2016 by St. Martin's Press
Source: egalley from edelweiss & netgalley


Whoa! What a ride! A terrifying menacing story of a woman who falls in love with the wrong (very wrong) man. This really unnerved me and had me spellbound. I read it in one sitting staying up till 3 am as I just could not put it down. The plot didn't particularly surprise me, as I basically knew what was going to happen but the sheer suspense kept me glued. It is a very frightening scenario, especially as a woman, to read. Cannot wait for the author to write a second book!



Thunderstruck by Erik Larson

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Thunderstruck by Erik Larson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 463 pages
Published October 24th 2006 by Crown
Source: Purchased at thrift store


I've read two other (here and here) of Larson's books and enjoyed them but this is the first one that I was riveted to. The subject matter is absolutely fascinating. Dr Crippen, who I was surprised to find out that I really knew very little about the case. This was my favourite part of the book. The other story is about Marconi and the whole invention and practical use of the wireless telegraph. This got a bit sciencey for me at times, but since Marconi himself never claimed to be a scientist it was mostly quite fascinating as this was a subject I knew nothing about at all. And learning about Marconi, who wasn't exactly that nice of a man was entertaining. The two topics are interwoven together as they cover the same time period and cross paths with each other. Like Larson's other books, this is not just a history or biography…

The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare

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The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paperback, No Fear Shakespeare, 248 pages
Published January 22nd 2004 by SparkNotes
First published 1593
Source: Library

No Fear Shakespeare


I'm about to read the new Hogarth which is a retelling of this play by Anne Tyler so I decided to re-read the original play. I love the "No Fear" series as it lets you read the play in modern English.The original is on the left-hand side and the modern translation on the right, which is lightly annotated. This was the first Shakespeare I studied in high school, Gr. 9, and I remember the class having a riot with it so I do have a fond memory for this play even though I detest most of Shakespeare's comedies. I've seen and enjoyed the Elizabeth Taylor movie and have read several children's and graphic retellings so am familiar with this story. What I wondered most re-reading the original play was whether, given its theme, I would find it anti-female or of…

Wolf by Mo Hayder

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Wolf by Mo Hayder
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 410 pages
Published May 6th 2014 by Atlantic Monthly Press
Source: egalley via edelweiss

Jack Caffrey (7)


Fantastic. This book literally had me feeling scared and uneasy from the beginning! A great case that is terrifying for anyone with kids, even grown-up ones. Many issues are resolved.The book starts with the closure of the Misty case which has been going on for several books now. Jack is constantly thinking of his feelings for Flea, but she doesn't make an appearance this time. Instead, Jack meets up with the Walking Man again and this sets him off on the case he eventually becomes involved with. While it has been no secret to the reader for a few books now, Jack finally learns what happened to his brother. As you can probably tell, these books are best read in order as info from previous books is often integral or at least pops up in conversation. This one even has a scene where "Birdman" from the first book is dis…

Psycho by Robert Bloch

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Psycho by Robert Bloch
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Paperback, 176 pages
Published May 4th 2010 by Overlook Press
(first published 1959)
Source: library


I wish I had enjoyed this more. I really tried hard to imagine what it would have been like for the original readers back in 1959, but I am just too familiar with the movie and story for this to have worked for me. In one of those rare cases, the movie follows the book almost exactly so I just couldn't feel the suspense from the novel knowing exactly what was going to happen. There are small differences between the two such as a scene taking place somewhere else and events not quite happening exactly the same way. Two major differences are that Norman Bates in the book is a fat 44yo man! Quite a difference from the scrawny, slightly effeminate Anthony Perkins version. Secondly, the final events of the climax unravel a bit differently, but with the same results. The book and movie even end with the exact same line.

What the book really …

Poppet by Mo Hayder

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Poppet by Mo Hayder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 378 pages
Published May 14th 2013 by Atlantic Monthly Press
Source: egalley via edelweiss

Jack Caffery (#6)


It has been a while since I read book five in this series but since this one continues the story from the last one, I quickly had all the memories rushing back to me. I love Mo Hayder! I just settled into the pages of this and before I knew it I was half done and next day I'd read the whole thing. Jack Caffery has certainly grown with this series and he and Flea's relationship becomes much more complicated but finally, they admit their feelings even if it is just to themselves. A great thriller, though it wasn't gruesome at all really. I expect that from Hayder, but I still enjoyed this very much. Lots going on from past books and the new case was wonderful; I especially liked that it takes place in a psychiatric ward, always a favourite for me. Not her best book but a speedy chiller and shocking whodunnit. Now on…

Trial by Fire: A Riley Donovan Mystery by Norah McClintock

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Trial by Fire: A Riley Donovan Mystery by Norah McClintock
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Paperback, 240 pages
Published April 19th 2016 by Orca Book Publishers
Source: review copy though LibraryThing review program


I've read better books by McClintock. This is not one of her best. The main character is quite far-fetched, a young teen, who is smarter than the police and her detective aunt. Mr. Goran stands accused of setting his own barn on fire. Now in a coma from his injuries, the only person who has any doubts about this is Riley. She questions people and does the investigation all on her own. The other teenagers were much more realistic. The plot is pretty convoluted but I'll give the author kudos though as I didn't figure out who the real culprit was, being quite surprised with the results.



The Photographer's Wife by Suzanne Joinson

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The Photographer's Wife by Suzanne Joinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published February 2nd 2016 by Bloomsbury USA
Source: egalley via netgalley


I loved the author's first book and am happy to say I loved this one as well. The Photographer's Wife isn't about the titular character but instead a young girl who happened to live in the same hotel in 1920s Jerusalem. Two narratives of Prudence Miller are told in this story. First, we meet her as an adult, an accomplished sculptor, living in 1937 England. She gets a visit from a man from her past and then the narration goes back to 1920s Jerusalem when she was 11 years old living with her architect father. This is where the majority of the story takes place with occasional switches back to 1937. I wasn't too particularly into the historical aspect which had to do with British Colonialism in the area at the time, but I enjoy stories taking place between the wars. While the setting was unfamiliar to…