Friday Lunch Meet-ups

Often on Fridays I meet with my friend Cindy for lunch at a local restaurant called The Den. We talk about many book-related topics such as books we've received in the past week, our current reads, the latest news in the blogging world and any upcoming author tours that we might be interested in attending. As a matter of fact, the first time I met Cindy was at a signing for Heather O'Neill's Lullabies for Little Criminals. Cindy was ahead of me in line and when it was her turn to have her book signed, she turned to me and asked if I could take a picture of her and Heather. I obliged of course. That was a year ago, and coincidentally shortly after, someone on LT organized a meet-up with Montreal bloggers and contacted both Cindy and me. So about a month later we met again in a little teashop with Tina and Avis. Now a fifth blogger, Linda, has joined us. I think we are slowly taking over the tea shop!

When I realized that both me and one of the bloggers lived in the same town, I suggested we meet at The Den for lunch. We did and that was the start of our bi-weekly meet-ups. They lasted perhaps six months before we started meeting every week. It just seemed the natural thing to do - at the end of a busy work week, Friday afternoon lunch with Cindy at the Den seemed a perfect start to the weekend. I can't remember if it was our first or second meet-up when Cindy and I realized that it was me who had taken her picture at Heather O'Neill's book signing. We're going to go to Kelly Armstrong's signing in October here in Montreal and I'm hoping to take Cindy's and the author's pic then too.

At our last Friday lunch, Cindy was kind enough to pass along two books to me:

Jill Mansell's third book in the series is Millie's Fling. I'm also looking forward to reading Kaleb Nation's book, Bran Hambric, The Farfield Curse. Thanks, Cindy!

Mailbox Monday

This meme is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page and Kristi at The Story Siren.

It was a banner week - at least for me! I received three books in the mail last week:

The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel by Maureen Lindley
Confections of a Closet Master Baker by Gesine Bullock-Prado
Something Missing by Matthew Dicks

Review: THE SHIMMER by David Morrell

Thank you to Anna from FSB Associates for sending me this book to review!

Dan Page, a police officer and pilot, comes home from his highly stressful job and finds his wife has disappeared. There is short note from Tori saying that she has gone to visit her mother. A call to Tori’s mother and Dan finds out Tori is driving to San Antonio, 800 miles away. Something is wrong. Dan knows it makes little sense to drive when it would be so much faster to fly and so he sets out to locate her. He picks up Tori’s trail in Rostov, a small town in Texas near the Mexican border that is renowned for the mysterious lights that appear on the horizon every day around dusk.

Based on actual lights that appear near the town of Marfa in West Texas, this novel is an action packed thrill-ride. David Morrell, a meticulous researcher, realized that if his main character were to be a pilot, he himself would have to know what flying was like to infuse the story with reality. In an article published in 2009 he says:

“As a novelist version of a Method actor, I couldn't just cram an airplane into my novel. First, I would need to learn how airplanes worked so that real pilots wouldn't be annoyed by inaccuracies. Real pilots. That's when I realized that it wouldn't be enough to learn how airplanes worked. I would need to take pilot training.”

Well, the authenticity certainly shines through in The Shimmer. Describing what it’s like to pilot an airplane, Mr. Morrell writes (on page 23 of The Shimmer):

"Nonpilots often assumed that the appeal of flying involved appreciating the scenery. But Page had become a pilot because he enjoyed the sensation of moving in three dimensions. The truth was that maintaining altitude and speed while staying on course, monitoring radio transmissions, and comparing a sectional map to actual features on the ground required so much concentration that a pilot had little time for sightseeing.”

That makes complete sense to me. As a person who hates flying I am gratified to think that pilots concentrate on the task at hand!
The Shimmer is a fun book to get lost in. The characters seem like regular people going about their everyday lives until they are thrown a curve ball and find themselves dealing with life-threatening situations. The story moves along at a fast pace. And I really enjoyed the main protagonist, Dan – he was a smart, funny, thoughtful and empathetic character.

I’m always very pleased when I find a new-to-me author that I enjoy and this one fits that bill. I'll be looking forward to reading his other books. If you like thrillers that keep your attention and, well, thrill, then I highly recommend The Shimmer!

Review: DEAD MEN'S BOOTS by Mike Carey

Thanks to Miriam from Hachette for sending me this great book!

The third in a paranormal thriller series, Dead Men’s Boots was absolutely great! I had to say that before writing the summary – that’s how much I enjoyed it.

Felix Caster is a professional exorcist. And not just any old exorcist but one who uses music as a way to send departed but lost and often angry souls on to wherever it is they should go after dying. This is a unique method of exorcism to me but then I’ve not read too many paranormal thrillers involving exorcists. (Are there a lot?)

At the beginning of the story Felix is attending the funeral of a colleague when he is approached by the grieving widow with a plea for help. Would Felix deal with an aggressive attorney who is obligated to carry out the departed’s wishes even though his wife insists he wasn’t in his right mind when he made those wishes known? Felix feels reluctantly obligated. From here the story just gets better and better. The reader is taken on an underworld joyride and the action never stops. The writing is good too and captured me from the very first paragraph:
I don’t do funerals all that often, and when I do, I prefer to be either falling-down drunk or dosed up on some herbal fuzz-bomb like salvinorin to the point where I start to lose feeling from the feet on up, like a kind of rising damp of the central nervous system. Today I was as sober as a judge, and that was only the start of it. The cemetery was freezing cold-cold enough to chill me even through the Russian-army greatcoat I was wearing (I never fought, but poor bloody infantry is a state of mind). The sun was still locked up for winter, a gusty west wind was stopping itself sharp on my face, and guilt was working its slow way through my mind like a weighted cheese wire through a block of ice.
The only negative thing I can say is that I didn’t have the opportunity to read the first two in the series! When I realized how much I liked the story I checked my local big box store for The Devil You Know and Vicious Circle and they don’t even have them available to order! What?! And apparently there are now five books in the series. Given that the books are published in England it may be that they are harder to get in North America. In any case my search will go on because this series is worth it!

Mailbox Monday

This meme is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page and Kristi at The Story Siren.

I received two books last week:

The first, sent to me from Random House is a YA book called The Ring of Fire, Book One by P. D. Baccalario. I've read the first few pages and already I'm hooked. In the center of the book there are several pages of coloured drawings and maps which is pretty unusual to have in an ARC. Anyway, this book is going to be fun!

The second is a cookbook called Make-Ahead Meals for Busy Moms by Jane Doiron. I love cookbooks so I was really happy to have the opportunity to review this one. It's a great-looking book and was accompanied by a really nice hand-written note from the author. I can already tell I like the way the recipes are set out - the font is large enough so I don't have to squint to see it, which I can't stand with some cookbooks. I'll be trying out some of the recipes this week and will report back on my creations!

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

I'm eagerly anticipating the new book by Audrey Niffenegger called Her Fearful Symmetry. Publication date: September 29, 2009.

You can see Audrey talking about her new book here:

Mailbox Monday

This meme is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page and Kristi at The Story Siren.

I received just one book last week:

Here is the blurb from Bloomsbury about the The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel by Maureen Lindley:

'A breathless adventure based on the real life story of Yoshiko Kawashima, Chinese princess turned Japanese spy.'

It looks really good - I can't wait to start it!

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

I can't wait to read Margaret Atwood's latest book, Year of the Flood. So far I've read only one review of it by Jane Shilling of The Telegraph. The review wasn't glowing but it wasn't so bad either. Doesn't matter though, I'll read this book no matter what! It was just published yesterday so I'm looking forward to getting my hands on it.

The Zombie Chicken Award!

Nonna at Chèli's Shelves gave me the Zombie Chicken Award. I love the name of this one!

This award is given to bloggers "who believe in the Tao of the zombie chicken - excellence, grace, and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all."

Thanks very much Chèli!

The five bloggers I'm passing it along to are:

Cindy at Cindy's of Books
Michael at A Few Minutes with Michael
Kathy at Bermudaonion's Weblog
Linda at Bambi Reads
Avis at She Reads and Reads

Have fun with this one!

Check out this great new blog!!!

Staci at Life in the Thumb has started a new blog just to give away ARCs. Her rules for the giveaways are as follows:

  • Just leave a comment on the book that you would like the opportunity to win. After the closure of comments, she will then use or Fruit Machine to come up with the winner.
  • She will then contact the winner via email. From there the winner has 3 days to respond with an address. If they don't she will pick again!
  • All books will be shipped to U.S. or Canadian residents only unless otherwise stated.
  • 1 comment per person please.

Pretty simple! This is truly an altruistic act and I commend her for it. Her new blog is called Giving Books Back to You! Check it out!

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week's book is a Lauren Willig title called The Betrayal of the Blood Lilly.

Lauren Willig's books are light historical novels with romance and a touch of intrigue thrown in. From the author's website:

Everyone warned Miss Penelope Deveraux that her unruly behavior would land her in disgrace someday. She never imagined she'd be whisked off to India to give the scandal of her hasty marriage time to die down. As Lady Frederick Staines, Penelope plunges into the treacherous waters of the court of the Nizam of Hyderabad, where no one is quite what they seem—even her own husband. In a strange country where elaborate court dress masks even more elaborate intrigues and a spy called the Marigold leaves cobras as his calling card, there is only one person Penelope can trust....

This book will be published by Dutton in January 2010.

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