Sunday, 28 February 2016

More Adult Coloring Ideas

I know many of you enjoy the "adult coloring" books available.  Someone posted these "coloring bookmarks" on facebook recently and they are downloadable and free.  Print some on cardstock and enjoy!

Since lending someone (not me - I always return them AND in the same condition I received it) a book is often a brave act, I often like to include a bookmark when I return it, as a thank you.  I think something including a coloring bookmark would be a nice touch.

They would also make a nice little project for little ones (the difficulty level not being too high) and when they are done ... laminate them to make them more permanent.

Just thought I'd share.

From Classroom Doodles

From By Dawn Nicole


Thursday, 25 February 2016

Some Thursday Morning Humor

Saw these on FB this morning (thanks again to Goodwill Librarian for the laughs)

I saw this last one and grabbed the book I just finished this morning ... "Safe as Houses" by Susan Glickman ... Page 99, third line ...

"Oh my God, she's drinking scotch.  Mum never drinks scotch!"

Those who know me will appreciate the truth humor in that line and know that it probably would kill me!

Friday, 19 February 2016

RIP Harper Lee

So sad to hear about the passing of Harper Lee today at the age of 89.  Ms. Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird is probably one of the best known books written in the 20th century.

R.I.P. Ms. Lee.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

The Things We Keep - A Review

THE THINGS WE KEEP by Sally Hepworth

Anna Forster had a great job as a paramedic.  Anna had a nephew she absolutely adored.  Yes, she recently split with her husband, but all in all Anna had a life she enjoyed.  Anna was 38 years old and Anna was just diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimers.

Eve Bennett is a classically trained chef.  Eve has a daughter she adores, a husband she loves and a life that would make anyone envious.  In the space of one day that perfect life falls apart and Eve finds herself as a single mother looking for a job.

Both women end up at Rosalind House, a private assisted living centre, Eve working as a cook/cleaning lady and Anna as a resident.  The women form a tenuous friendship.  Soon Luke, another young resident suffering with a form of dementia which affects his ability to speak, and Anna form a friendship that soon turns to something more. Everyone is appalled, but Eve thinks they deserve any happiness they can grab before neither one of them remembers the other.

There have been many books and films about Alzheimers lately.  I’ve read and watched a few because this disease touched my life when my father was diagnosed.  On the whole the books are touching and often heart wrenching and “The Things We Keep” is both those things.  I requested this book because, considering the age of the main characters, I thought it would offer something fresh.  For me, it fell short in that department.  Despite that little let down it was still a lovely story, well written and well researched as to the progression of this disease.  The one thing that I have to commend is how well Ms. Hepworth portrayed how difficult this disease is on the family of those afflicted.  Yes, it must be a personal hell to live with the disease in the early stages, but as it reaches its final stages it profoundly affects the loved ones of the patient.

Although the book fell slightly short of my personal expectations I would not hesitate to recommend this book.

I received this book at no charge from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her website)

Sally Hepworth has lived and travelled around the world, spending extended periods in Singapore, the U.K., and Canada. While on maternity leave from her job in Human Resources, Sally finally fulfilled a lifelong dream to write, the result of which was Love Like the French, published in Germany in 2014. While pregnant with her second child, Sally wrote The Secrets of Midwives, published worldwide in English, as well as in France, Italy, Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 2015. A novel about three generations of midwives, The Secrets of Midwives asks readers what makes a mother and what role biology plays in the making and binding of a family. 

The Secrets of Midwives has been labelled “enchanting” by The Herald Sun, “smart and engaging” by Publisher’s Weekly, and New York Times bestselling authors Liane Moriarty and Emily Giffin have praised Sally’s debut English language novel as “women’s fiction at its finest” and “totally absorbing”.

Sally’s next novel is titled the Things We Keep and will be published in February 2016. She is currently working on her next novel.

Sally lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and two children.

Blackout - A Review

BLACKOUT by David Rosenfelt.

Crime boss Nicholas Bennett orchestrated the murder of someone very close to New Jersey State Police officer Doug Brock.  Ever since that day Doug has made it his personal vendetta to bring down Bennett, which led to Doug being suspended from the police force.  Despite his suspension Doug never gave up his investigation and on the brink of an important break in his case Doug is shot.  The wound is not fatal but it does cause Doug to fall of a second story balcony.  That fall left Doug with retrograde amnesia – no memory of anything that happened in his life for the last ten years.

The only clue to what Doug uncovered was a hurried telephone call to his ex-partner apparently asking for help from the force.  He can’t remember why anymore but Doug is non-the-less determined to continue his quest to bring down Bennett even though it virtually means retracing every step leading up to the point he was shot.

I’m torn in my review of this book.


I like Mr. Rosenfelt’s writing style.  It flows and is easy to read, punctuated by the sense of humour I have come to enjoy in the “Andy Carpenter” series. 

He always gives me a good story that I enjoy; populated with characters that I like enough to care what happens to them.

Mr. Rosenfelt gives me a quick, fun read to wile away a couple of hours without being too emotionally invested.

This story had an interesting twist at the end.  I did see one coming, but not the one the author gave me.  It was a good surprise.

Mr. Rosenfelt usually has a dog featuring prominently in his books and this one has only one short mention of a character owning a dog.


It states right on the cover that the book is a thriller.  Okay, it is – but it’s definitely “thriller lite”.  It has some tense moments, some good investigating but nothing heart-stopping.  Not quite cozy, but not “edge of your seat” either.

Lately, it seems to me, that Mr. Rosenfelt has been on a little bit of a terrorist/save the world binge.  I’ve seen it in the last two Andy Carpenter books and again in this stand-alone novel.  I’ve had enough for a little while.

Mr. Rosenfelt usually has a dog featuring prominently in his books and this one has only one short mention of a character owning a dog.


It’s a decent read if you are in the mood for a light thriller by an easy to read author that makes his story fun.  Three stars.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from his website)

I am a novelist with 27 dogs.

I have gotten to this dubious position with absolutely no planning, and at no stage in my life could I have predicted it. But here I am.

My childhood was relentlessly normal. The middle of three brothers, loving parents, a middle-class home in Paterson, New Jersey. We played sports, studied sporadically. laughed around the dinner table, and generally had a good time. By comparison, “Ozzie and Harriet’s” clan seemed bizarre.

A number of years ago, I left the movie marketing business, to the sustained applause of hundreds of disgruntled producers and directors. I decided to try my hand at writing. I wrote and sold a bunch of feature films, none of which ever came close to being actually filmed, and then a bunch of TV movies, some of which actually made it to the small screen. It’s safe to say that their impact on the American cultural scene has been minimal.

About fourteen years ago, my wife and I started the Tara Foundation, named in honor of the greatest Golden Retriever the world has ever known. We rescued almost 4,000 dogs, many of them Goldens, and found them loving homes. Our own home quickly became a sanctuary for those dogs that we rescued that were too old or sickly to be wanted by others. They surround me as I write this. It’s total lunacy, but it works, and they are a happy, safe group.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016


Being a frequent library patron I have often found interesting things tucked into books, I am assuming as bookmarks, and then forgotten about ... credit card receipts, grocery receipts, greeting cards ... the list goes on.  I recently came across #ThingsFoundinBooks on Facebook.  Working in a used bookstore, especially one that deals with really old books, obviously leads to a treasure trove of "found" items.  These were some of the ones I found interesting.

Obviously, not having loaned books returned has been a problem through the ages ...

This postcard requesting "one cent postage" ... ahhhh ... those were the days!

A 1947 letter to someone who ordered a book from Penguin ... being informed of a change in policy and the fact that postage has gone up to 5 cents.

A to-do list.  Wedding and 3 onions?

A poem or a quote from the book?  I'm not sure which.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Blood Sisters - A Review

BLOOD SISTERS by Graham Masterton

I always claim I cut my horror teeth with “that other author” but Graham Masterton and his Manitou were right there in the mix.  With that being said it does not surprise me that his crime novel had some of the more “creative” murders (is it even okay to say that?) I have come across in quite some time (maybe ever). 

I’ve never read one of Graham Masterton’s crime novels before so it seems rather unusual to start with the 5th book in the Katie Maguire series but I enjoyed the book and had no problems following along with the characters so obviously this book works as a stand-alone.

The beginning of this book not only quickly caught my attention with the apparently purposeful running of horses over a cliff and onto the rocks below.  Definitely a trigger (animal cruelty) for me but it worked to make me want to find out who did this in the hopes that justice would be meted out … preferably in as nasty a manner as possible.

Next scene … an elderly and ill nun dies during the night, safe within the walls of her convent, one would think natural causes.  Upon closer examination the words “safe” and “natural” most certainly do not apply.   When another nun is discovered murdered a short time later Katie realizes she has a serial killer of nuns on her hands.

When an infant’s skull is discovered buried in the garden of the same convent it keeps Katie and her detectives busy.  Split between the three crimes Katie is run ragged.  Add to that the fact that her on again/off again relationship with her boyfriend in now on again and she finds herself in the unenviable position of having to tell him she is pregnant – with another man’s child, its no wonder she is quickly at her wit’s end.

Sound like this book has a lot going on?  It does, but somehow Mr. Masterton manages to pull it all together into a fast-paced, exciting and cringe-worthy book.  The three seemingly separate crime sprees were the crux of the story and I enjoyed the mystery and thrill of those.  The addition of Katie’s personal issues seemed a bit of overkill.  Granted, since I started with the most recent book of the series I have no investment as her as a character which may have clouded my opinion about the side story.  I have added the first book in the series to my TBR shelf, so maybe I’ll think differently after getting to know Katie Maguire from the beginning.

I may be a little inured considering horror and crime thrillers are my go to genres, but there are plenty of things in this book that could be unwelcome subject matter for some readers; animal cruelty, child abuse, grisly murders, questioning Catholicism.  I didn’t find any other those as difficult to navigate through as I did the Irish dialogue of the characters.  Thankfully, I got used to it fairly quickly so it didn’t stop me from turning the pages as quickly as I could manage to read them.  And Mr. Masterton offers a “Dictionary of Irish Slang” on his website in case readers get really bogged down.

I received this book at no charge from the publisher, Head of Zeus, via Netgalley 
in exchange for an honest review.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from his website)

Graham Masterton was born in Edinburgh in 1946. His grandfather was Thomas Thorne Baker, the eminent scientist who invented DayGlo and was the first man to transmit news photographs by wireless. 

Graham trained as a newspaper reporter, and went on to edit the new British men's magazine Mayfair, where he encouraged William Burroughs to develop a series of scientific and philosophical articles which eventually became Burroughs' novel The Wild Boys. At the age of 24, Graham was appointed executive editor of both Penthouse and Penthouse Forum magazines. 

Soon afterwards, Graham Masterton began his career as an author with the publication of The Manitou in 1976. This terrifying horror novel became an instant bestseller and a famous movie starring Tony Curtis and Susan Strasberg. 

After twenty-five years writing horror and thrillers, as well as several short stories, Graham Masterton turned his talent to crime writing. The first book in the Katie Maguire Series, White Bones, was published by Head of Zeus in 2012. The books were inspired by Graham's five-year stay in County Cork. He now lives in Surrey, England, where he is a full-time writer.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Pax - A Review

PAX by Sara Pennypacker and illustrated by Jon Klassen

Be forewarned … I want to gush much love for this middle-grade fiction book.

Pax has lived with Peter since he was six weeks old. “Pax” means peace but for this little red fox there is not much peace in his life when a human war is on the horizon. With the war imminent many towns are being evacuated before the soldiers arrive and unfortunately that means that many pets are being left behind to fend for themselves. Pax isn’t left behind but, at the insistence of Peter’s father, is released back into the wild.

It’s not just Pax that is abandoned though; Peter is also shipped off to live with his grandfather while his father answers his call of “duty”. Peter knows that leaving Pax was a bad idea and the first night at his grandfather’s he sneaks out to go and find Pax. It’s a three hundred mile trek but Peter is determined to be reunited with his beloved Pax.

While Pax is waiting, knowing that his boy will come back for him, and Peter is making his way back to Pax they each have their own (mis)adventures and they each learn that trusting others is sometimes the only way to survive.

This book is so well written. The chapters alternate between Peter’s journey and Pax’s experiences (easily recognizable for younger readers as each chapter has a silhouette of the narrator at the beginning). While the author does not anthropomorphize Pax – she does give him a “voice” – allowing the reader to understand Pax’s feelings and emotions through true-to-nature fox actions. While reading the book the love and connection between Peter and Pax is palpable which means there were a few pages read with misty eyes. Ms. Pennypacker expertly writes the two adventures, mirroring each other in many ways, so that the reader cheers for both Pax and Peter to be reunited and yet leaving just enough angst to make that same reader wonder what will happen if they do find each other. Are they both too changed to be together again?

About a dozen illustrations are interspersed through the narrative. They are detailed black and white sketches, some full-page and others smaller images between paragraphs. They are never intrusive and I felt they added emotion to the story.

Although I do not do it often it is not unheard of me to pick up middle-grade fiction. Yes, the writing is often simple since it is aimed at a younger audience, but that does not mean the story itself is simple. In fact, while enjoying this story it often struck me that some of the situations seemed too intense for “middle-grade” readers. Perhaps I’m not giving the potential audience enough credit?

Bottom line? This is a book that adults can enjoy as much as its intended younger audience and I think it would be a great book to read with your child. While there is nothing in this book that would not appeal to girls at the same time I feel it was written geared towards a young male audience.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her website)

I loved books and I loved art - books and art didn't care that I was really tall or really shy. So I drew and painted and did mosaics and carved things (for a couple of years, I spent my whole allowance on bars of Ivory soap - great for carving!) and I read and made up stories.

Even today, I am happiest reading, writing, or making art.

These days, I split my time between Florida and Massachusetts, where I feel lucky to be able to write every day. I enjoy other things as well, like: bird-watching, raising orchids, bothering my kids even though they are grown-ups now, and ... pie.

I am the author of seventeen children's books, including the New York Times best-selling Clementine series; Summer of the Gypsy Moths; Pierre in Love; Sparrow Girl; and The Amazing World of Stuart. I have also contributed four books to the venerable Flat Stanley series.

My books have won numerous awards, including a Golden Kite Award and a Christopher’s Medal, many children’s choice state awards, and have appeared on many 'Best Books' lists.

I enjoy speaking about writing children’s books at elementary schools, conferences and college programs.

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR (from the book jacket)

Jon Klassen grew up in Niagara Falls, Canada, and now lives in Los Angeles, California. He is a New York Times bestselling author and illustrator of several books, including “I Want Mt hat Back” for which he won the Caldecott Medal.

Happy Valentine's Day

For Valentine's Day ...

A Love Story (featuring books)








Thursday, 11 February 2016

Driven - A Review

DRIVEN by Kelley Armstrong

In the werewolf community, if you are not a member of a pack you are considered a mutt.  Mutts are tolerated as long as they keep away from humans and do not draw attention to themselves.  If that line is crossed the pack will hunt them down.  The Cains have always been considered mutts.  They are neither the brightest nor the most law-abiding in their human form but even they do not deserve to be hunted down like animals and skinned alive.

Davis Cain is trying to change the way the pack views his family.  He is attending college and has made overtures in the past to interact with Elena’s pack.  On a visit home he first discovers his family missing and then murdered in the most gruesome fashion.  When he comes to the pack for help Elena cannot turn away.  Conveniently, Malcolm Danvers has recently returned to Stone Haven and Elena intends to use him fully on this hunt … it’s the only way to make sure his claims of reformation and loyalty are true.

Reading this book took me back to the beginning of the “Otherworld” series and reminded me why I love the Elena/Clay/Jeremy stories so much.  As much as I enjoy all the “Otherworld” characters it’s the werewolves that pulled me into this series and, while other characters were mentioned or made cameo appearances, this book was most definitely all about the werewolves.

I did have a little problem with one thing in this book and that was the portrayal of Clay and Elena's twins.  They are 9 years old in "Driven" and I understand they are exceptionally bright (of course) because they are the product of two werewolves mating ... still ... for my taste, just a little too precocious.  

Ms. Armstrong does her usual great job of drawing the reader into “Otherworld” where fantastic beings coexist in the world with humans and her choice of making this installment in the series a novella instead of a full length book was a good one.  It was just long enough that I could enjoy it (almost in one sitting) and it felt as if she wrote it for her fans, so it did not include a lot of explanations … just took for granted that fans would know the backstory.  I am enjoying her more recent stand-alone books but I do hope Ms. Armstrong continues to give her fans an “Otherworld” tidbit now and again.

Would definitely recommend this to readers of the series.  For a first time reader this is not the best choice for starting the series … find a copy of “Bitten” and start at the beginning.

Thank you to the publisher, Subterranean Press, for making a copy of the ebook available to me at no charge (via Netgalley ) in exchange for an honest review.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her website)

Kelley Armstrong has been telling stories since before she could write. Her earliest written efforts were disastrous. If asked for a story about girls and dolls, hers would invariably feature undead girls and evil dolls, much to her teachers’ dismay. Today, she continues to spin tales of ghosts and demons and werewolves, while safely locked away in her basement writing dungeon. She lives in southwestern Ontario with her husband, kids and far too many pets.

The Widow - A Review

THE WIDOW by Fiona Barton

“It’s a strange feeling, owning a secret.”

When Glen Taylor fell into the path of the bus that killed him his new widow, Jean, felt … relieved.  Yes, he was a controlling husband, but – he loved her.  Yes, he could be a bit of an SOB, but – he could be kind.  Yes, he had caused their life to be chaotic recently, but – she did love him.  Is relief the appropriate response to a husband’s death?  At least now she would be done with all his “nonsense”!

Glen swore in court and, more importantly, to Jean that he had nothing to do with the disappearance of little Bella.  She wanted to believe him but there was all the circumstantial evidence pointing to him.  The police certainly thought he was involved.  But he couldn’t be … could he?

This book is a crime/legal thriller that plays on those stories in the news that make people scratch their heads and wonder.  When the normal fellow next door gets arrested for some horrific crime is it really possible that his wife had no idea about what was going on?  Jean stood by her husband through his trial.  She stayed strong for him while the press harassed them.  She was the perfect wife.  However, “there are always secrets in a marriage”.

“The Widow” is a well-written and engaging debut novel for Ms. Barton.  The book is touted as a perfect read for fans of “The Girl on the Train” and “Gone Girl”.  I’m not sure those comparisons do this book justice.  I didn’t care for one and thoroughly enjoyed the other while “The Widow” left me feeling satisfied that I had read a very good crime novel.  The police are well represented by the character of Bob Sparks and the primary reporter on the case, Kate Waters, although not necessarily likeable was doggedly determined to break the story and was very well written.  No surprise there as Ms. Barton is, herself, a journalist.

Did I see the twist at the end coming?  Maybe a little sooner than I should have but that did not take anything away from the story.  There is time shifting in this novel, from the not too distant past to the present, but it was not difficult to follow and felt necessary to the story telling.  All in all a very good read and I would not hesitate to pick up another book by Ms. Barton.

I received a copy of the book at no charge from the publisher, Penguin Random House Canada, through a Goodreads First Reads giveaway with the hope that an honest review might be posted.

I posted about it already, but I really have to give another shout-out to the marketing department for their creativity.  It truly made my day when this book arrived.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her website

My career has taken some surprising twists and turns over the years. I have been a journalist - senior writer at the Daily Mail, news editor at the Daily Telegraph, and chief reporter at The Mail on Sunday, where I won Reporter of the Year at the National Press Awards, gave up my job to volunteer in Sri Lanka and since 2008, have trained and worked with exiled and threatened journalists all over the world.

But through it all, a story was cooking in my head.
The worm of this book infected me long ago when, as a national newspaper journalist covering notorious crimes and trials, I found myself wondering what the wives of those accused really knew – or allowed themselves to know.
It took the liberation of my career change to turn that fascination into a tale of a missing child, narrated by the wife of the man suspected of the crime, the detective leading the hunt, the journalist covering the case and the mother of the victim.
Much to my astonishment and delight, The Widow is available now in the UK, and around the world in the coming months.

However, the sudden silence of my characters feels like a reproach and I am currently working on a second book.

My husband and I are living the good life in south-west France, where I am writing in bed, early in the morning when the only distraction is our cockerel, Sparky, crowing.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Hollywood Cafe - A Review


Coffee …

… it’s the lifeblood of conversations, the black elixir that gets most of us moving in the morning, the pick-me-up in the middle of a hectic day and the finish to a fine meal.

But it’s not just the everyday person who depends on this magical beverage; the stars of the silver screen enjoyed it too. 

“Hollywood Café” is a collection of high quality photographs of actors, some very well know and some not so much, enjoying their coffee.  It is more than that.  What I particularly enjoyed about this book is the fact that every picture was accompanied by a short synopsis explaining, of course, who was in the photo but also the circumstances.  Some were stills from films so a short recap of the film was provided, some were publicity stills and, some were advertising promotions – yes, even back then they had stars endorsing products.

My favorite pictures by far were the candid shots, coffee in the cafeteria, during make-up sessions and sitting waiting for shooting to resume.  This book covers Hollywood from the 1980’s back to the silent film era and some of the coffee service items were interesting to see.  No styrofoam cups for these folks; they used china pots with matching cups and saucers or mugs filled from elaborate samovars.

If you are interested in coffee, the glamour days of the silver screen or just some star gazing this is an interesting book to pick up.  It would assuredly make a welcome addition to the coffee table book collection for any movie-phile.

I received a digital copy of this book at no charge from the publisher, Schiffer Publishing Limited, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Rea was born in LondonEngland, and was raised in New York City.  He is a graduate of Stuyvesant High School in New York City. Rea earned an undergraduate degree in English and Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. He attended the Writers Workshop graduate program at the University of Iowa.

Rea has written for multiple publications, as well as working for major record labels such as Island Records. His feature film reviews have been syndicated.  Rea is an adjunct professor in the Cinema and Television program at the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design at Drexel University

Although at the beginning of his career he was based in Los AngelesCalifornia, he now resides on the East Coast. Rea and his wife reside in Center City in PhiladelphiaPennsylvania.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Excellent Marketing!

I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway and was so pleasantly surprised when it arrived.

Penguin/Random House Canada certainly did an amazing job in packaging this book.  I'll say one thing for sure - the creative packaging of the ARC made certain I did not place this one on the shelf and forget about it!  FYI ... I wanted to have a peek at it yesterday morning and finished about 2/3 of it.  I'm hoping to finish it off tonight - yes - it's that good!

But ... I want to share the packaging.

It came in a clear plastic "Evidence Bag" complete with some evidence (the Skittles ... which really makes sense when you read the book) and an "Evidence sticker" on the outside.

Big shout out to the "Widow" marketing department - I LOVED IT !!