Books Bought

My friend Cindy hosts this meme of books bought during the past week.

I bought these two books:

A Shilling For Candles by Josephine Tey's book description of A Shilling For Candles:

When the body of famous screen actress Christine Clay is found on a beach on the southern coast of England, Inspector Alan Grant is faced with too many clues and too many motives. It seems the world is full of people who wanted Christine Clay dead.

Bitsy's Bait & BBQ by Pamela Morsi

The description of Bitsy's Bait & BBQ from

While Emma Collins wonders who in their right mind would use her hard-won divorce settlement to purchase a bed-and-breakfast down in the Ozarks, her free-spirited sister Katy fantasizes dreamily about how this move to a small town will be just the thing for her six-year-old son, Josh.

And, as usual, Emma is right. But it is not until they drive to Warbler Lake, Missouri, to take over Bitsy's B & B that they realize just how right she's been. In this part of the country, B & B stands for Bait and BBQ! The girls know little enough about running a bed-and-breakfast, but a bait-and-BBQ?

With their money and futures sunk into a run-down, roadside rattletrap, the girls have no choice but to roll up their sleeves and get to work. But as they settle in and get to know the difference between fatheads, night crawlers, mealworms and shiners, no one is more surprised than they are when they actually get the place up and running.

But trouble is brewing. Katy's ex-husband is having second thoughts about the custody arrangements for Josh, and he fully intends to get him back. With the prospect of losing the little boy, the sisters face another challenge, only this time it's Katy who proves that she, too, can solve a problem.

Secret Santas!!!

I can't help it, I love the holiday season!

There is more to it than presents though. The atmosphere of it - the snow, the decorated houses, the vacation, family and food. I could go on and on. I know it's a busy time of year for many people and if you've got school-aged children, even more so. There are the holiday concerts and teacher gifts to arrange. And don't forget if you're involved with organizing fundraising or even holiday baskets for families in need. But one of the things I remember from when I was a kid was the Secret Santa event. I loved it then and I love it now! So, I've entered not one, not two, but three Secret Santa events this year - one for book bloggers, one being hosted by LibraryThing and one at work.

Are you taking part in any traditional holiday events this year?

Review: LIPS TOUCH THREE TIMES by Laini Taylor

Thanks to Nikole at Scholastic Canada for sending me this book to review!

Lips Touch Three Times is a series of three sophisticated young adult fairy tales. The first, Goblin Fruit, tells the story of what happens when a lonely high-school girl receives her first kiss. The second called Spicy Little Curses tells the story of a girl, cursed at her baptism, who can't speak for fear she'll kill all who hear her words. When she grows to adulthood this girl must make the ultimate decision whether or not to utter her first cursed words. The third tale centers around another girl who when almost grown, finally discovers why her life has always seemed so different from other people’s.

This book is like someone’s imagination gone wild. I think the author pegs the character’s personalities down tightly. They are innocent and wise, scary and kind. I don't think any one of the characters is completely good or completely evil - they are more complicated than that and they blend well with the story lines. The plots are well developed and the stories come to the point quickly leading the reader along a well-written path.

I enjoyed all three stories. While they all had a young girl as the protagonist I found the plots to be quite different. The third tale was the longest and I thought, the scariest. I can’t imagine that any young adult wouldn’t enjoy these narratives. They encompass themes that most can relate to: first love, friendship, coming of age and feelings of alienation. They have a sort of associated ‘coolness’ in that they are not afraid to tackle themes that most young women dream about.

Each short story is prefaced by a graphic short story mirroring the one about to be told. I couldn’t quite gleam all the details from the graphic stories – there were no words at all – but they did add beautifully to the quality of this book. The cover illustration gives an idea of the drawings inside.

This would make a great holiday gift for anyone who loves fantasy and graphic novels.

Waiting on Wednesday

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

Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton

From the Michael Crichton official website:

The Caribbean, 1665. A remote colony of the English crown, the island of Jamaica holds out against the vast supremacy of the Spanish empire. Devoid of London's luxuries, Port Royal, its capital, is a cutthroat town of taverns, grog shops, and bawdy houses. In this steamy climate, life can end swiftly by dysentery — or dagger. But for a daring soul like Captain Edward Hunter, this wild outpost in the New World can also lead to great fortune, if he abides by the island's code. In the name of His Majesty King Charles II of England, gold in Spanish hands is gold for the taking and the law of the land rests with those ruthless enough to make it.

Word in port is that the Spanish galleon El Trinidad, fresh from New Spain, is awaiting repairs in nearby Matanceros. Heavily fortified, the impregnable Spanish harbor is guarded by the bloodthirsty Cazalla, a favorite commander of King Philip IV. With the Jamaican governor's backing, Hunter assembles a crew of ruffians to infiltrate the enemy island and commandeer the galleon and its fortune in Spanish gold. The raid is as perilous as the bloodiest tales of Matanceros legend, and Hunter will lose more than one man before he makes it onto the island's shores, where dense jungle and the firepower of Spanish infantry stand between him and the treasure.

With the help of his cunning band, Hunter hijacks El Trinidad and escapes the deadly clutches of Cazalla, leaving plenty of carnage in his wake. But the danger — and adventure — are only just beginning. . .

Michael Crichton was a multi-talented person who died way too young. There are two books which will be published posthumously with the first, Pirate Latitudes set to be released November 24th. This is just the kind of adventure story I love, and I can't wait to get my hands on it!

CSN Bookcase Contest!!!

Jason from CSN Bookcases contacted me recently about hosting a contest for a free bookcase on my blog. CSN sells fabulous office furniture and as a huge book collector I’m particularly interested in their bookcases. I’ve seen some good reviews about the products available from this company so I was very pleased to say yes to holding a contest!

The contest is open to US and Canadian residents. To enter simply leave me a comment along with your email address by the end of the day, Tuesday, December 8th for a chance to win your choice of one of the three fabulous bookcases pictured below. Good luck!

This is the Mylex 4 shelf bookcase.

This is the 4D Concepts 3 Tier Bookcase in Wicker and Metal.

This is the 4D Concepts Hanging Corner Storage in Cherry.

Mailbox Monday

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

This is a win from LibraryThing in October. From The Apple's website:

The world is captivated by a Holocaust survivor and his love story that he says began during his terrifying ordeal as an orphaned Jewish boy in the Nazi concentration camps of World War II. Herman Rosenblat is feted by the media and is a celebrated guest on Oprah who calls his tale “one of the greatest love stories ever told.” His memoir is scheduled for a major worldwide release, and the movie based on his love story is set to shoot, when trouble begins to brew as outraged survivors and historians bring forward evidence to discredit key incidents in Herman Rosenblat’s account. At the last minute, his book is canceled amidst the year’s most controversial publishing story. Now, ostracized by many in his community, Herman finds himself in the middle of an angry debate about fact, fiction and the perils of embellishing a memoir, especially a Holocaust memoir.

Based on Herman Rosenblat’s life and love story, The Apple by Penelope Holt describes how real love and the dream of love keep the character of Herman Rosenblat alive amid the death and horror of Nazi Germany and during his years of struggle after the Second World War. The book explores Herman’s will to survive the War years, how loving parents and devoted brothers sacrifice to sustain him in the camps, and why he believes his destiny was to meet and marry his wife of fifty years, Roma, and to leave a legacy of hope in the wake of a genocide he experienced firsthand.

I'm very curious about the whole 'story behind the story' and I'm looking forward to reading this book!

Mannequin Mania and bookstore update!!!

We've come a bit further with our bookstore. My husband has built one of our middle aisle shelves and it looks good. We've also installed a new counter to replace the old desk we had there before. Looks much better. There is more work to do but we're getting there for sure.

Our bookstore is located in a small but quaint shopping village. Right next door to us we have an art boutique where classes in oil painting are given almost nightly. On the other side there is a women's clothing boutique. On nice days the owner puts a mannequin outside dressed in very nice clothing. One evening after closing my husband was working late in the store. Our neighbour upstairs came by for a visit and my husband did not lock the door after he came into the store. As they were chatting, another man popped his head in the door and had obviously just come from the local bar because it took him a few seconds get his bearings before he asked them if they had seen 'it'. They looked confusedly at the man and he excitedly pointed outside. They all trooped out to see the clothed mannequin standing forlornly in its spot, the store closed and employee gone home. The three men then took it upon themselves to transport said mannequin into our bookshop where it could be seen through the window seemingly looking at our books. The only thing I regret is not having a picture of the men as they struggled to get it into the store, with its clothes and limbs intact.

Review: SECRETS OF A CHRISTMAS BOX by Steven Hornby

As Christmas Eve at the Ferguson household draws near and the family retires for the night, the Christmas tree comes alive with activity from the Tree-Dwellers, the ornaments that inhabit the tree every year before they are put away in their boxes until the next holiday. It is known and accepted among the Dwellers that sometimes an ornament will not reappear. When that happens, the other Dwellers are sad, but continue on with their lives on the tree.

This year it is Larry’s brother who does not reappear. Larry, a snowman, and his girlfriend, Debbie, an elf, decide to look beyond the tree for Terrance, Larry’s missing brother. They, along with a new Tree-Dweller called Splint and Tinsel, Larry’s pet, do the unthinkable: they leave the safety of the tree and sally forth into the far reaches of the house to look for the Christmas boxes that the ornaments sleep in the rest of the year hoping that Terrance just got overlooked as the Ferguson family was decorating the tree. As they navigate towards their destination, they encounter all sorts of household danger as well as other more sinister threats.

I have to say I’m a sucker for holiday stories. It doesn’t matter what the plot is, nor how far-fetched the story, nor how corny. I will tear up at the most eye-rolling-ly plots ever written. I just love them. So I was very pleased to receive this book to review and at just the right time of the year too. That being said I have some good things and one or two minor concerns.

First, this is a great holiday story for parents to read to their children. Whimsical hand-drawn illustrations are interspersed throughout the book and accompany the goings-on in the story. It is simply written but there are words here and there whose meanings would challenge younger readers. The story focuses mainly on the ornaments and only switches back to the family as is necessary for the plot. I liked the sections with the ornaments more, possibly because the level of reading seemed slightly more mature than the family’s. From page 5:

“Oops…!” freaked Dad, suddenly remembering something. He looked down under his shoes at the floor. “Ooh, that was lucky. Better get them off before the kids…!” He whipped off his shoes and threw them over to the door, a moment before the children clamored down the stairs. “Goodness me!” said Dad, smiling at Mom. “Now that was close!”

This is ‘Dad’s’ reaction when he realizes that he’s walked in to the house with his wet, snowy shoes on and didn’t want his children to see what a bad role model he would be. I think freaked used here is a bit out of place but perhaps its meaning is subjective.

There are a couple of chapters near the end of the book that some children might find a bit scary, but I think that depends on what kind of books they’re used to reading. Nine-year olds who read the Goosebumps (and other similar) series wouldn’t have a problem with this one.

I didn’t realize until fairly well into the story that there are 24 chapters which ideally, are meant to be read one per night, beginning December 1st. On one of the first pages, (which I noticed only after I went to the beginning when referring to the chapter titles) is a little poem:

From the start of December,
to Christmas Eve night
one chapter an evening,
wrapped up with delight.
I checked the Secrets of a Christmas box website and it says the book is meant for children ages 8 to 12. I’m not sure a lot of 12 year olds would want to be read to but for little ones I can see how reading one chapter a night would be a lovely tradition to start; like an advent calendar, just one of those things children go by to count down the days until THE DAY.

Waiting on Wednesday

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

I couldn't find a cover image for the newest Martha Grimes book which will be coming out in April 2010. It's called The Black Cat and it will be the 22nd book in her Richard Jury mystery series. I've read the first 21 and I cannot wait til this one comes out!

Tuesday Teasers

Grab your current read and let the book fall open to a random page. Share with us two sentences between lines 7 and 12 and the title of the book that you’re getting the teaser from. Please avoid spoilers!

I'm not going to strictly follow the rules for this one since I'm using a book of quotes called Fighting Words edited by James Charlton and subtitled, 'Writers Lambast Other Writers - from Aristotle to Anne Rice'.

I love these sorts of books since they're easy to pick up and put down without losing the thread of a story. I usually read books like this at night when I'm too tired for anything else. From page 65:

We got along on just sort of "how do you do" terms. I remember walking back from a cricket match at Lords in London, and Maugham came along on the other side. He looked at me and I looked at him, and we were thinking the same thing: Oh my God, shall we have to stop and talk? Fortunately, we didn't.
P. G. Wodehouse, on Somerset Maugham

Mailbox Monday

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

I received one book in the mail last week. It's a memoir called The Opposite Field by Jesse Katz. An excerpt from the book reads:

My park is called La Loma. I have always liked the sound of that, the symmetry of those double-barrel Ls, the femininity of the final Spanish vowels, the spacey La-La Land echo, all an improvement on its stiff translation: the Hill. La Loma is prettier, softer and rounder, earthier --loamier. A park for losing yourself in. The park I went looking for myself in.

Max and I have spent nine springs and summers there, through squalls and droughts, heat waves and cold snaps, from his preschool years to the onslaught of adolescence. We have celebrated there and we have sulked there, twirling like fools across the dirt and chalk, drowning our broken hearts with fusillades of water balloons. We have made friends for life at La Loma and, I suspect, enemies for just as long. We have gone there to forget and to remember, to stop time and to grow up. The park is under our skin: season after season of bites, burns, stings, cuts, sprains, scars. Max has bled at La Loma. He has barfed there. He has wet himself. I have rinsed his wounds at La Loma, iced him, kneaded him, bandaged him, scooped him off the ground, his face streaked with sweat and clay and eye-black grease, and held him in my arms. Max has stood there, in jersey and cap, and hacked out "The Star-Spangled Banner" in front of a thousand people on his electric guitar. I have given myself to those same people, cheered and groaned alongside them, accepted their prayers and shared their beers, slipped to me in Styrofoam coffee cups. Whenever we have needed it, whenever I have felt burdened or alone, La Loma has been there. The park is always the park. Our refuge. My excuse.
I'm looking forward to reading this book - I like the way this author writes.

Tuesday Teasers

Grab your current read and let the book fall open to a random page. Share with us two sentences between lines 7 and 12 and the title of the book that you’re getting the teaser from. Please avoid spoilers!

My teaser is from page 118 of Lips Touch Three Times by Laini Taylor:
He was taunting her. Estella sometimes imagined she felt the presence of the Lord of Hell passing close in the great Fire, but she had not seen or heard him for sixty years, since she first came here fresh with widow's grief and had this awful duty thrust upon her.

Books Bought

My friend Cindy hosts this weekly meme profiling books bought recently. You can see her recent purchases here.

This is what I bought last week:

I've been eyeing this book for quite some time and I finally caved and bought a copy last week. Maybe it's the cover image giving me subliminal signals but I can just imagine cuddling up in my favourite spot, tea at hand and reading The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood.

I recently read and enjoyed the novel Across the Endless River and I’ve reviewed it here. Thad Carhart, the author, has done extensive research not only on Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau, the subject of Across the Endless River, but also on Sacagawea, Jean-Baptiste’s mother. I’ve always been fascinated by her history and how she became so well-known. I’ve also wondered what she would have thought about Western civilization’s fascination with her. Is America’s view of her close to the truth? In view of the meager facts available, it's interesting how our fascination with the life of Sacagawea has not faded with time.

This is an article published by Thad Carhart concerning Sacagawea, what we know about her and what we don’t.

Sacagawea: The Seduction of Mythology, the Paucity of Facts
By Thad Carhart,
Author of Across the Endless River
How much do we know for certain about the life of Sacagawea? The answer is: almost nothing. She was born "around 1788." She was abducted by the Hidatsa "when she was about 12." The date of her death is similarly uncertain: the prevailing view is that she died in 1812 at Fort Manuel Lisa on the Missouri, but others contend that she lived well into her 90s and died at the Wind River Reservation in 1884. Even the pronunciation and meaning of her name are still disputed, a reflection of the unknowable transliteration that both Clark and Lewis tried to capture in written syllables.
Lewis & Clark -- The Written Record Shapes All
The most reliable primary documents that have come down to us concerning Sacagawea are, of course, the journals of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, through which she has entered the public imagination as an improbable but key player on the stage of American history. But even the journals, famed as they are, give us only fleeting glimpses of this young woman. She was one of Toussaint Charbonneau's several "squaws", a usage that covered everything from absolute servitude to common law marriage. In historical accounts, she is most frequently described as his "wife", but the fact remains that we have no way of knowing the human contours of their relationship.
The instances of her mentions in the journals are themselves full of dramatic details: a difficult labor for her first child, Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau, born on February 11, 1805 in the bitter cold far-northern reaches of the Upper Missouri; her dire illness and near death in June of that year, when Lewis dosed her attentively from his meager medicine kit; her vote as an equal member of the expedition about the location of their winter camp once they reached the Pacific; her insistence at being allowed to accompany the party dispatched by Clark to the shore of the Pacific to investigate what meat might be recovered from a beached whale.
All of these scenes have survived in the clear and dispassionate prose of the two captains, and while they offer tantalizing glimpses of how Sacagawea reacted under pressure, they of course come from the pens of those whose business it was to give the expedition shape in daily journals. While history is indeed written by the conquerors, perhaps here it would be more apt to say that history is first written by those who can write. How would she have described the captains? Nothing certain remains from Sacagawea's oral tradition, so the accounts of those whose language included an alphabet were bound to prevail.
Sacagawea, Repository of Legends
Even so, the degree to which the slender and infrequent mentions of Sacagawea in the Lewis & Clark journals have subsequently been weighed down with meaning is astounding. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, and gathering steam well into the twentieth, there developed an elaborate literature of wonder, almost of awe, around her being. She has come to represent resilience, courage, patience, loving motherhood, feminine independence . . . the list is virtually endless. It has been said that more images of her adorn public places than that of any other American woman. The latest iteration of her imagined likeness, the young mother bearing her papoose who graces the U.S. dollar coin, is as close as American culture is ever likely to come to an indigenous Madonna and Child.
And yet most of this is pure fabrication, a projection of our own changing needs and perceptions of the past. I am reminded of the elaborate hagiography that has built up in France around Joan of Arc, just enough of it based on the startling and dramatic facts of her life to lay the groundwork for a complete mythology. In that sense, Lewis & Clark is our own founding myth, and the individual actors in its story assume the proportions of legend as we embroider the fragile facts we have with our own imaginings. Sacagawea dances around the edges of the narrative: innocent, strong, pure of heart, and ultimately unknowable, an undying receptacle for our dreams about both past and future. The beaten and abducted young squaw stands alongside the mother of a mixed-race son, the determined woman who saved Lewis & Clark from failure by bargaining for horses with the tribe from which she had been torn. Could any refracted image we fashion to express our hopes be more ambiguous, or more captivating?
©2009 Thad Carhart, author of Across the Endless River

Author Bio
Thad Carhart, author of Across the Endless River, is a dual citizen of of the United States and Ireland. He lives in Paris with his wife, the photographer Simo Neri, and their two children.
For more information please visit

Review: TIMOTHY AND THE DRAGON'S GATE by Adrienne Kress

Thanks to Nikole at Scholastic for sending me this great new book to review!

Timothy Freshwater is a smart, cynical eleven year old who is almost too smart for his own good. After being expelled from the last school in town that would accept him, Timothy’s father brings him to work where Timothy meets the big boss, CEO Evans Bore and the company mail clerk, Mr. Shen. When timothy’s father leaves on a business trip, Timothy is left with a reclusive neighbour, Sir Bazalgette, a well-respected and famous architect. These three people, Evans Bore, Mr. Shen and Sir Bazalgette, then lead Timothy on the wildest, most unexpected adventure of his young life.

I read this book in three days and enjoyed every minute. It has all the ingredients of a rollicking good fantasy adventure story filled with bigger than life people, heroic heroes, colourful villains and non-stop action. The story flows from one madcap adventure to another as Timothy and his friends escape from their foes.

I’m happy to report that Timothy is not your typical ‘good boy’ character. I think that would be too boring. As mentioned before, he has a cynical side to him and his favourite word to any adult that tries to be condescending is ‘whatever’. There is plenty to like about his character, though, and that makes this story special.

Though Timothy and The Dragon’s Gate is a YA novel, adults can enjoy it as well. As a matter of fact, this book is littered with all sorts of clever and unexpected bits of humour that would appeal to many adults. From page 225:

Captain Magnanimous smiled and they all followed him down into the hold of the Valiant, where, in this case, the cells were completely filled with cutthroat pirates.
“And little old ladies?” whispered Timothy to Alex.
“Don’t get me started on them,” replied Alex, glaring at a group of five little old ladies in a separate cage who, in turn, glared right back at her.

This is a great ‘can’t put it down’ book for kids. And for those adults who loved the Harry Potter books – you'll love this one too!

Waiting on Wednesday

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

Campus Chills edited by Mark Leslie

This book is an anthology of horror stories by Canadian authors, including Kelley Armstrong, Nancy Kilpatrick and Susie Moloney. It's coming out November 10, 2009.

Teaser Tuesday

Grab your current read and let the book fall open to a random page. Share with us two sentences between lines 7 and 12 and the title of the book that you’re getting the teaser from. Please avoid spoilers!

My teaser is from page 87 of Secrets of a Christmas Box by Steven Hornby:

The smiles dropped off Larry and Debbie's faces, as they realized this was only the start of their journey, a serious journey, filled with unknown dangers. Their plan to get away from the tree was now a reality.

Book Acitivities - October 2009

Nothing for me in my mailbox last week which I’m thinking is a good thing. I need to catch up on a few book reviews - not to mention books! But I did attend a few book-related activities.

First was a talk and Q & A at the Pointe-Claire Public Library. Claire Holden Rothman, author of The Heart Specialist, spoke about her book and the writing craft. I haven’t read the book yet, but I know I’ll be in for a treat. From the synopsis on the publisher’s website:
Inspired by the life of Doctor Maude Elizabeth Seymour Abbott, The Heart Specialist is the story of a woman pursuing her dream at the dawn of the twentieth century. Stripped of a regular childhood when her father is accused of a horrific crime and abandons the family, Agnes was never considered ladylike. She is drawn to the wrong things, such as anatomy and dissection, which lead to her calling as a doctor. Yet despite a rapid rise to stardom in the medical community, she finds herself up against the same glass ceiling faced by women in her field.

Set against the backdrop of conflict and upheaval permeating the early 1900s, The Heart Specialist is the story of one woman’s triumph in the face of adversity.

The second activity I attended was the monthly book blogger meet-up (otherwise known as BBAM - Book Bloggers Association of Montreal, Verdun Division, sometimes attended by the Junior Chapter) meeting at our usual hangout – the Chai Teashop. The five of us – Linda, Cindy, Tina, Avis and I talked about all sorts of things at the last meeting, including the huge annual McGill book sale. Linda, Tina and Avis were able to attend the sale this year and went home with tons of goodies. I didn't go to the sale but I did come home from our meet-up with two books from Cindy: Viola in Reel Life and Thanksgiving at the Inn by Adriana Trigiani. Thanks, Cindy!

The last activity was another talk and book signing at the Pointe-Claire Public Library. This time the author was a news anchorman, Bill Haugland, author of Mobile 9, and now retired, who read the news for years on our local station TV station. Mr. Haugland wrote a mystery called Mobile 9 and gave a highly entertaining talk. He's a great storyteller. There were apparently lots of hi-jinks and shenanigans going on in our local newsrooms! I guess that’s no surprise but I only used to hear about the old ‘anchor wearing no pants behind the news desk’ story. Mr. Haugland signed books and posed for pictures. I took one of Cindy and Mr. Haugland.

The evening would’ve ended there except that when my husband and I got in the car to go home it wouldn’t start. The car that is, not my husband. He started (swearing that is). It’s a new car and has some sort of automatic ignition locking system which for some reason kicked in that night. So there we were sitting in the library’s parking lot, waving bye to everyone as they left. Cindy wished us well as she got in her car, laughing, I might add. Ok, I admit it was hard not to laugh with my husband’s seeming to invent a whole new language on the spot. The car eventually started and we made our way home.


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