City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte was released yesterday to great reviews! I am really looking forward to reading this novel. The description of this book reads:

Prague: once a city of alchemists, astronomers, heretics, and--it’s even been rumored--portals to hell, and now the destination of every disaffected, beer-loving kid in a backpack.  But when musicologist Sarah Weston accepts an invitation to spend the summer at Prague Castle cataloging Beethoven’s manuscripts for the wealthy Lobkowicz family, she discovers a city filled not with ex-pats, but with dark magic, where the fabric of time is thin and danger lies around every corner.

Soon after Sarah arrives, strange things begin to happen.  Her predecessor may have been murdered, and Sarah finds herself at the center of escalating and dangerous mysteries spanning several centuries.  Who is killing off the academics at the museum?  What secrets of time travel was a sixteenth-century alchemist hiding?  Who was Beethoven’s Immortal Beloved? What Communist-era intrigue is a powerful American politician willing to kill to cover up?

In CITY OF DARK MAGIC, Prague comes to life with cinematic scenes filled with excitement and intrigue. With the turn of each page, you could find murder, paranormal time travel, a handsome prince in search of the Golden Fleece or a 400-year-old dwarf who holds a golden key that will unlock the city.  Rollicking, sexy and wildly imaginative, CITY OF DARK MAGIC could be called a rom-com paranormal suspense novel—or it could simply be called one of the most entertaining novels of the year, which will leave you anxiously awaiting the sequel.

 Have a look at the book trailer:

Mailbox Monday October 22, 2012

My Mailbox Monday for this week features a book I received for review called A Murder of Crows by David Rotenberg. I read and reviewed the first book in this series and I'm really looking forward to enjoying this one too.

The description from Simon & Schuster's website reads:

Since Decker Roberts’ last run in with the NSA, he’s been trying to remain off the radar, searching for his estranged son. His synaesthetic abilities, once a lucrative gift, are increasingly becoming a liability.

When a vicious attack wipes out the best and brightest of America’s young minds, devastating the country’s future, Decker is forced to step out of the shadows and help track down the killer. And as the hunt brings him in contact with other people of “his kind,” Decker begins to realize that there may be depths to his gifts that he had never even imagined.

Meanwhile, several parties are secretly tracking the progress of Decker’s son, Seth, trying to determine if he has the same unique gift as his father. Decker is determined to go to any lengths to find his son, but along the way he will have to face down enemies, both old and new, as well as struggle with whether his son even wants to be found.

David Rotenberg’s thrilling sequel to The Placebo Effect is full of suspense, and will challenge what you think you know about people who have special “gifts.” From rural Africa to downtown Toronto, the paths of Rotenberg’s colorful characters intertwine as they move towards a conclusion that none of them can see coming.

Review: Stealing Mona Lisa by Carson Morton

I picked this up at the library because I was attracted by the cover but I kept reading because of the story. In this charming novel by Carson Morton, it seems the bad guys are the good guys and the really bad guys are bad.

From the title, the plot centers around the theft of the Mona Lisa and the gang of thieves who concoct the plan to take it from the Louvre. This book has a lot going for it - humour, romance, intrigue and a style of story-telling that is slightly reminiscent of years past that blends nicely with the time setting - 1925. The place settings - mostly the US and France - are wonderful backdrops to the story line.

People who like the the Mary Russell series by Laurie R. King may like this book.

Mailbox Monday

In June, Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Burton Book Review.

 I purchased The Dewey Decimal System by Nathan Larson because I won the first book in this series through LibraryThing's ER program. The following is taken from the book's inner flap:
After a series of large-scale terrorist attacks and the total collapse of Wall Street, New York City is reduced to a shadow of its former self. As the city struggles to dig itself out of the wreckage, a nameless, obsessive compulsive veteran with a spotty memory, a love for literature, and a strong if complex moral code has taken up residence at the main branch of the New York Public Library on 42nd Street.

Dubbed "Dewey Decimal" for his desire to reorganize the library's stock, our protagonist (who will reappear in the next novel in this series) gets by as bagman and muscle for New York City's unscrupulous district attorney. Dewey takes no pleasure in this kind of civic dirty work; he'd be perfectly content alone amongst his books. But this is not in the cards, as the D.A. calls on Dewey for a seemingly straightforward union-busting job.

What unfolds throws Dewey into a bloody tangle of violence, shifting allegiances, and old vendettas, forcing him to face the darkness of his own past and the question of his buried identity. With its high body count and delightfully irreverent dialogue, the Dewey Decimal System pays respects to Chandler, Hammett, and Jim Thompson. Healthy amounts of black humor and speculative tendencies will appeal to fans of Charlie Huston, Nick Tosches, Duane Swierczynski, and Jonathan Lethem.

Review: The Reckoning by Alma Katsu

The Reckoning by Alma Katsu is part two in The Taker Trilogy – a series that tells the story of Lanore, a young woman with the unique gift of everlasting life. The first novel, The Taker, describes how she acquired this gift and the people whose lives intersected and intertwined with hers. The Taker was mostly set in the early 1800’s – The Reckoning picks up the story of Lanore two hundred years later as she struggles to evade the attention of the one person to whom she owes her life and who also happens to be the one who she dreads to meet again. Yes, Adair is back and he is one of the scariest characters I’ve ever read!

The others are there too – Alejandro, Tilde, Jude – plus a couple of new ones. I find it impressive how the author manages to bind them all with the same gift, yet make each character distinct from the other by imbuing them with very different personalities.

The story thrums along quickly and the more I read the more suspenseful it became. Lanore is in danger and the excitement caused by her predicament builds chapter by chapter. I also find the story line taking place in present times really interesting. As one character finds himself thrust into the modern day world and adjusts to this reality, the contrast between the past and present is a fascinating one. How can it be possible to fly? How can people use ‘plastic’ to buy things? I love to imagine what it would be like to suddenly wake up in a world far into the future and wonder at all the things that would be different – faster, easier, and hopefully better.

I’m enjoying this series for several reasons. The story is good, exciting and fast-paced. The characters, though they are as different from each other as they could possibly be, are not perfect. Even Lanore faces difficult choices – should she do the right thing by someone else and thereby put herself in danger or take the easy road?

I don’t think it’s necessary to read The Taker to enjoy The Reckoning (though it is fun to read what took place before the events in The Reckoning) but it is worth it to read them both. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys strong characters with mystery and fantasy mixed in with a bit of intrigue.

Spotlight on As You Were by Gerry Fostaty

A hot new book now available is As You Were by Gerry Fostaty. The following description is taken from the author's website:

Six teenaged boys died and fifty-four were injured in an explosion on a Canadian Forces Base in Valcartier, Quebec. A live grenade inadvertently made its way into a box of dud ammunition, and its pin was pulled during a lecture on explosives safety. One hundred and forty boys survived, each isolated in their trauma, yet expected to carry on with their lives.

Thirty-four years later, Gerry Fostaty, who was an 18-year-old sergeant that summer and one of the first on the scene after the explosion, received an unexpected e-mail from his former sergeant-major, triggering a journey into memory, a quest for a true picture of what had happened on that day. In As You Were, Fostaty pieces together the story of how a series of preventable mistakes led to tragedy.

The only full account of an event that received minor attention at the time, As You Were is the story of a normal day turned horrific; how duty, responsibility, and honour make ordinary people take extraordinary measures; and how the military did their best to ignore this devastating incident.

Published by Goose Lane Editions. Visit the publisher’s website here. You can find more information about this book and the author at the following sites:

CBC Quebec AM interview
CBC The Current interview

Review: The Watchers by Jon Steele

I have a short list of books that I love and always keep a copy of. It includes The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, Drood and The Black Hills, both written by Dan Simmons, and The Lord of the Rings. These books are characterized by great story-telling abilities by the author. They are not the kind of books (that shall remain nameless, the worst written by an author also with the first name of Dan) that have a cliff hanger at the end of a two page chapter. They are the sort that weave a story so cleverly and rich with story that it takes the reader into another world that is not soon forgotten, long after the characters names can’t be recalled. The Watchers by Jon Steele is now on my list.

 I loved this book from the first beautifully written and haunting chapter to the last heart-pounding one. Its exotic locale (Lausanne, Switzerland), its clever plot twists and turns and the revelation about two-thirds of the way in of what exactly is going on. Though it’s a relatively large book at more than 570 pages, I devoured it in just a few days.

I was besotted with Jay Harper, one of the main characters. I think it was his sense of humor (that gets me every time) and his sure-fire way of seeing through to the heart of any matter. His relentless pursuit of the bad guys didn’t hurt either. Another main character, Marc Rochat, tugged at my heart and I cheered for him the whole book through. This book isn’t for the faint-at-heart, however. There are a few scenes that are difficult to read so if you don’t like to read anything violent, I suggest you skim those few short paragraphs and keep reading – it’s worth it!

It was a happy surprise to discover that The Watchers is just the first book in a new trilogy. It’s definitely a must-read for the literary thriller crowd and just about anyone who enjoys great writing and a fabulous story. For more on The Watchers you can see the author speak about his book here.

Tuesday Teaser

Tuesday Teasers is hosted by Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows: Grab your current read and let the book fall open to a random page. Share two sentences from somewhere on that page and the title of the book that you’re getting the teaser from. Please avoid spoilers! Read the official Tuesday Teaser Rules. My teaser this week is from The Professionals by Owen Laukkanen. From page 122:
The bodywork was almost entirely burned away, and what remained had been charred black in the blaze. The thing was destroyed, but the Detroit police swore it was a a Ford and they figured it had probably been red once, too.

Mailbox Monday, May 8, 2012

In May, Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Martha's Bookshelf.
I had one book come into my house last week - The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James. The book description reads:
Sarah Piper’s lonely, threadbare existence changes when her temporary agency sends her to assist a ghost hunter. Alistair Gellis – rich, handsome, scarred by World War I, and obsessed with ghosts – has been summoned to investigate the spirit of nineteen-year-old Maddy Clare, who is haunting the barn where she committed suicide. Since Maddy hated men in life, it is Sarah’s task to confront her in death. Soon Sarah is caught up in a desperate struggle. For Maddy’s ghost is real, she’s angry, and she has powers that defy all reason. Can Sarah and Alistair’s assistant, the rough, unsettling Matthew Ryder, discover who Maddy was, where she came from, and what is driving her desire for vengeance – before she destroys them all?

Review: Midnight in Peking by Paul French

Midnight in Peking by Paul French, based on a true series of events and set in 1937 Peking, explores the murder and subsequent investigation of a young British woman. The horrific crime took place during a period of political and cultural turmoil involving the Chinese, Japanese, British and White Russians.

The book begins by describing the political situation at the time the murder took place. I was somewhat baffled at first. I often find politics to be a complicated topic and even more so when it’s the politics of a country not my own. But it turned out to be a quick summary and it wasn’t long before I realized that this description had an important place in the story. The investigation into the death of this young woman would require all the diplomacy and tact possible by the British as well as the Chinese investigators and to understand the subtleties involved the reader needs to have an idea of the goings on at the time, and this the author provides.

Midnight in Peking would read like a modern day fictional mystery except for the fact that the crime actually did happen. The political figures, criminal investigators and newspaper reporters are historical figures and therefore much is known about them. Hence, the author has a rich resource of material to draw from. The book is also accompanied by photos of the main players in this drama which helps to put a human face to the descriptions of some of the behavior described.

The story is written in clear, concise script and told chronologically. And though the author introduces quite a few characters, they are not difficult to keep straight given that they are written with individual personalities, positions and status within Peking society. The book is well researched and documented and the author has made more information available on his website where you can find a map with points of interest, photos of old Peking, original news clippings – all sorts of fascinating data.

I think this book would appeal to a broad spectrum of readers: those who like mysteries, true crime, cultural history and politics. Without giving anything away, I can safely say that Midnight in Peking is a fascinating look at what can happen when diplomacy wins over justice…and when it does not. Highly recommended.

Mailbox Monday, April 23, 2012

In April Mailbox Monday is being hosted by my friend Cindy at Cindy's Love of Books.

I didn't receive any books in the mail last week but I did buy one based on a review I saw on A Bookworm's World. When I read what Luanne had to say about The Professionals by Owen Laukkanen it went straight on my to-buy list. The description of this book from Penguin's website reads:

Four friends, recent college graduates, caught in a terrible job market, joke about turning to kidnapping to survive. And then, suddenly, it's no joke. For two years, the strategy they devise-quick, efficient, low risk-works like a charm. Until they kidnap the wrong man.

Now two groups they've very much wanted to avoid are after them-the law, in the form of veteran state investigator Kirk Stevens and hotshot young FBI agent Carla Windermere, and an organized-crime outfit looking for payback. As they all crisscross the country in deadly pursuit and a series of increasingly explosive confrontations, each of them is ultimately forced to recognize the truth: The true professionals, cop or criminal, are those who are willing to sacrifice . . . everything.

A finger-burning page-turner, filled with twists, surprises, and memorably complex characters, The Professionals marks the arrival of a remarkable new writer.

Review: White Horse by Alex Adams

I had a certain idea of what White Horse, by Alex Adams, was going to be like before I started reading it. I thought the blurb sounded interesting and it reminded me of daydreams I had when I was a teenager about a movie, the title of which I’ve long forgotten, of a man who was one of the very few left in the world after a catastrophe wipes out humanity. What would I do in those circumstances? Well, from the blurb, White Horse sounded like my childhood daydreams but after the first page I knew I’d never imagined anything like this.

Then it made me think of The Road by Cormac McCarthy, a book I was not very fond of. Fortunately I saw differences almost right away. Whereas in The Road, the idea of hope was conveyed with contempt, I sensed hope was the backbone of White Horse; every page is imbued with it even as events make it seem there’s nothing worth fighting for.

This novel is so rich in detail and imagination that every page brought new surprises. Sometimes I found myself rereading a paragraph to decipher what the author meant and then it would hit me a paragraph or page later – ah hah! But it’s so cleverly written that if there had not been an ‘aha’ moment it wouldn’t have mattered. That’s the way this book is – it infuses the culture of a new world order around the reader so well that its meaning sinks in without realization.

The main character is likeable so I rooted for her on every page. She’s brave, focused and honest. Even at the most cringe-worthy moments, it was difficult to put down. The only issue I would have with this book is the cover. Something about it gave me the idea that White Horse leans towards the YA genre. Wrong! Not YA at all. And of course the blurb does start off saying ‘thirty-year-old Zoe leads an ordinary life…’ which should dispel any the notion that it’s YA. But the cover threw me off.

I will go so far as to predict that this book will become a huge best-seller. It certainly deserves to be.

Mailbox Monday, April 9, 2012

In April Mailbox Monday is being hosted by my friend Cindy at Cindy's Love of Books.

I've already started reading the book I received last week. Written by Paul French, it's called Midnight in Peking. The description of this book (from Mr. French's website) reads:

January, 1937: Peking is a heady mix of privilege and scandal, lavish cocktail bars and opium dens, warlords and corruption, rumours and superstition – and the clock is ticking down on all of it.

In the exclusive Legation Quarter, the foreign residents wait nervously for the axe to fall. Japanese troops have already occupied Manchuria and are poised to advance south. Word has it that Chiang Kai-shek and his shaky government, long since fled to Nanking, are ready to cut a deal with Tokyo and leave Peking to its fate.

Each day brings a racheting up of tension for Chinese and foreigners alike inside the ancient city walls. On one of those walls, not far from the nefarious Badlands, is a massive watchtower – haunted, so the locals believe, by fox spirits that prey upon innocent mortals.

Then one bitterly cold night, the body of an innocent mortal is dumped there. It belongs to Pamela Werner, the daughter of a former British consul to China, and when the details of her death become known, people find it hard to credit that any human could treat another in such a fashion. Even as the Japanese noose on the city tightens, the killing of Pamela transfixes Peking.

Seventy-five years after these events, Paul French finally gives the case the resolution it was denied at the time. Midnight in Peking is the unputdownable true story of a murder that will make you hold your loved ones close, and also a sweepingly evocative account of the end of an era.

Tuesday Teaser: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Tuesday Teasers is hosted by Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:

Grab your current read and let the book fall open to a random page. Share two sentences from somewhere on that page and the title of the book that you’re getting the teaser from. Please avoid spoilers! Read the official Tuesday Teaser Rules.

My teaser is from Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. Wolf Hall won the Man Booker Prize in 2009. From page 131:

When the sweat comes back this summer, 1528, people say, as they did last year, that you won't get it if you don't think about it. But how can you not?

Mailbox Monday, April 2, 2012

In April Mailbox Monday is being hosted by my friend Cindy at Cindy's Love of Books.

Last week I received two books. The first is A Winter Kill by Vicki Delany. This book is part of a series called Rapid Reads and A Winter Kill is only 111 pages long. From the back:

Late one bitterly cold winter night, rookie constable Nicole Patterson comes across the body of a young woman lying in a snow-covered field on the outskirts of town. When the victim turns out to be a high school student with a less-than-sterling reputation, suspicion falls on her drunkard father. But Nicole soon discovers that all is not as it appears to be in her quiet little town. Though both underqualified and unauthorized, the young police officer is compelled to throw herself into the murder investigation.

The second book I received is The Watchers by Jon Steele.

The description of this book reads:

Lausanne, Switzerland. In the cathedral tower lives a strange boy with a limp who talks to the bells. In a luxury penthouse lives a high-class prostitute who's in mortal danger. And in a low-rent hotel lives a private investigator who has no idea how he got there. Jay Harper finds himself in Switzerland on the trail of a missing Olympic athlete. A hard drinker, he can barely remember how he got home last night, let alone why he accepted this job. When he meets the stunning but aloof Katherine in a hotel bar, he quickly realises that he's not the only one in town who's for hire. She's a high-class hooker who can't believe her luck. Which is about to change. For the worse. In the meantime, Marc Rochat spends his time in the belfry talking to the statues, his cat and the occasional ghost. His job is to watch over Lausanne at night and to wait for the angel his mother told him he'd one day have to save. When he sees Katherine, he thinks his moment has come. Which indeed it has. But not in a good way...

These are exactly the kind of books I enjoy - I'm really looking forward to reading them!

Tuesday Teaser: Headhunters by Jo Nesbo

Tuesday Teasers is hosted by Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:

Grab your current read and let the book fall open to a random page. Share two sentences from somewhere on that page and the title of the book that you’re getting the teaser from. Please avoid spoilers! Read the official Tuesday Teaser Rules.

This week my teaser is from Headhunters by Jo Nesbo. From page 128:

I was on my way into the house when I remembered. The alarm. I definitely did not want security men from Tripolis swarming around here now, nor live camera surveillance of me with a half-dead Ove Kjikerud.

Frank Delaney on Book Bloggers and the state of Literary Criticism‏

The following is part of a Tribune interview with Frank Delaney (author of several books including one that I reviewed, Venetia Kelly's Travelling Show. You can read the complete interview on the Tribune's website.

Tribune: How strong is the pulse of literary fiction, criticism and serious examination of literature in the 21st century? Who are today's shining literary lights?

Frank Delaney: "Great question! People have been saying for generations, “Oh, the novel is dead.” Well, it ain't – nor is that wonderful American invention, creative nonfiction, nor is biography, nor is political writing. And as well as the books, the commentariat is alive and well.

In fact, there's an argument to be made that it's healthier than ever, because we now have this wonderful new creature, the Literary Blogger. I'm a massive fan of this gorgeous animal, with all its fur and feathers – for a number of reasons. My main complaint about the general direction of literary criticism over the last century has been – and Joyce is a case in point – that it tended, in its lofty tone and often impenetrable language (not to mention occasional vendetta behavior), to be antidemocratic, to keep certain areas of literature to itself, whereas my own passion is for as many people as possible to be reading as widely as possible.

The Literary Bloggers have no axes to grind, they're not protecting their reputations, they don't fear being sneered at by other critics, they're reading what they want to read, writing what they want to write, and they don't want to keep what they enjoy to themselves. They want to share. They want to expand the constituency of reading. They want to hail and applaud good writing. To my mind this is a very significant development – uneven, I grant, here and there, but, dammit, not as uneven as the generations of formal literary critics, and the blogging intention is so good and so worthy of loud vocal support that you can call it truly a new and, to my mind, incomparably welcome development in the world of reading and writing."

Review: Blue Monday by Nicci French

If I belonged to a mystery/thriller book club, Blue Monday would be an excellent choice for the club read. There are so many things going on in this book that would lead to good discussions. Is such and such character really who they claim to be? What is the main character’s real motivation? What is she hiding? There are so many questions and it would be fun to get other opinions, so I’ll be reading other reviews aside from mine. I can’t imagine however that I will read a bad review!

Blue Monday kept me awake until the wee hours on Sunday night and made me late for work (yes, I blame it on the book!) the next morning. Not because I slept in too late but because I picked it up again in the morning and just had to finish those last fifty pages!

The premise is an interesting one: a psychotherapist suspects one of her patients is involved in the disappearance of a young boy. What the therapist does with her suspicions leads the reader on an ever-deepening mystery about what exactly is going on. Meanwhile, the boy is still missing. There are lighter moments too in the form of a builder from the Ukraine. He conveys a humorously solemn feeling to the scenes he is in.

Blue Monday is a must-read for mystery and thriller fans and for those who haven’t tried that genre yet. This book has just the right amount of creepiness. It’s got what I call the ‘chill’ factor in spades: that feeling you get when you thought you knew what was going on but come to the slow realization that there was something else eerily creepy taking place right under your nose. This is an engrossing read and one I highly recommend.

Review: The Book Club Cookbook by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp

I love cookbooks and obviously I love to read, so when the offer came to review The Book Club Cookbook, I jumped at it. What could be more fun than to have available some of the recipes from the most popular book club books? And if it’s your turn to host your book club, well, this book will make choosing a dish so much easier.

This book covers some of my favourite novels: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (Lisa See), The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows), and The Help (Kathryn Stockett) as well as some I have yet to read but are on the top of my towering TBR list: Cutting for Stone (Abraham Verghese) and Water for Elephants (Sara Gruen). Actually, the list of books on my own TBR list overlaps quite a bit with the books featured in this cookbook. Each novel’s recipe is preceded by a description of the source book and some are followed by an explanation of the food, thoughts from the author and/or a book club’s take on the book itself and why they chose a particular food for their club.

So far I’ve made two recipes (and I’m planning another for this weekend). Both are cookies – Chewy Oatmeal from the book Plainsong by Kent Haruf and Chocolate Chip Shortbread from Bee Season by Myla Goldberg. Both turned out great and were gobbled up by my family in no time. There aren't just cookies or sweets though – savory dishes are included as well. There is Zaytoon’s Chicken Shwarma from Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn, Britta’s Crab Casserole from The Hours by Michael Cunningham, Greek Rice Pudding and Tzatziki from Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. There are drinks in here too: Glögg from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as well as soups and salads. An ambitious book club could have an entire meal with several courses if they didn’t mind mixing their books!

Another great thing about this book club cookbook is that the featured novels range from contemporary to classic, so that a club is bound to find something of interest. I would go further and say I could see using the cookbook itself for future club choice ideas. It would also make a great gift for an avid reader, book club member or not. I highly recommend it!

Tuesday Teaser:

Tuesday Teasers is hosted by Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:

Grab your current read and let the book fall open to a random page. Share two sentences from somewhere on that page and the title of the book that you’re getting the teaser from. Please avoid spoilers! Read the official Tuesday Teaser Rules.

My teaser is from The Widow's War by Sally Gunning. From page 128:

Lyddie had the good fortune to run into no one along the King's road, but at the intersection with the landing road her luck turned. An old, wasted man limped toward her; once he got close she realized it was no old man at all but Nathan's brother, Silas Clarke, the so-called limp more a list from the usual cause.

Mailbox Monday, March 5, 2012

In March Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Diary of an Eccentric.

I received Robert Rotenberg's newest novel (to be published May 1st) called Stray Bullets. The description from Simon and Schuster's website reads:

In The Guilty Plea and Old City Hall, critically acclaimed author Robert Rotenberg created gripping page-turners that captured audiences in Canada and around the world. Rotenberg’s bestsellers do for Toronto what Ian Rankin has done for Edinburgh and Michael Connelly for Los Angeles.

In Stray Bullets, Rotenberg takes the reader to a snowy November evening. Outside a busy downtown doughnut shop, gunshots ring out and a young boy is critically hurt. Soon Detective Ari Greene is on scene. How many shots were fired? How many guns? How many witnesses?

With grieving parents and a city hungry for justice, the pressure is on to convict the man accused of this horrible crime. Against this tidal wave of indignation, defense counsel Nancy Parish finds herself defending her oldest and most difficult client.

But does anyone know the whole story?

Stray Bullets is Robert Rotenberg’s third intricate mystery set on the streets and in the courtrooms of Toronto.

Mailbox Monday, February 27, 2012

In February Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Metro Reader.

Last week I received Blue Monday by Nicci French. I've already started it and it's turning out to be very good.

The abduction of five-year-old Matthew Farraday provokes a national outcry and a desperate police hunt. And when a picture of his face is splashed over the newspapers, psychotherapist Frieda Klein is left troubled: one of her patients has been relating dreams in which he has a hunger for a child. A child he can describe in perfect detail, a child the spitting image of Matthew.

Detective Chief Inspector Karlsson doesn't take Frieda's concerns seriously until a link emerges with an unsolved child abduction twenty years ago and he summons Frieda to interview the victim's sister, hoping she can stir hidden memories. Before long, Frieda is at the centre of the race to track the kidnapper.

But her race isn't physical. She must chase down the darkest paths of a psychopath's mind to find the answers to Matthew Farraday's whereabouts.

And sometimes the mind is the deadliest place to lose yourself.

Tuesday Teaser: A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley

Tuesday Teasers is hosted by Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:

Grab your current read and let the book fall open to a random page. Share two sentences from somewhere on that page and the title of the book that you’re getting the teaser from. Please avoid spoilers! Read the official Tuesday Teaser Rules.

My teaser this week is from A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley. From page 109:

Every bit as important as Porcelain's physical safety was the sudden gnawing need I felt to make amends to the family of Fenella Faa: to correct an old wrong committed by my father. For the first time in my life I felt myself seized by hereditary guilt.

Mailbox Monday February 13, 2012

In February Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Metro Reader.

I received A Darkly Hidden Truth by Donna Fletcher Crow last week. Part of a series called The Monastery Murders the description of this novel reads:

Felicity can't possibly help Father Antony find the valuable missing icon. She's off to become a nun. And then her impossible mother turns up unexpectedly. And a good friend turns up murdered...

Breathtaking chase scenes, mystical worship services, dashes through remote water-logged landscapes, the wisdom of ancient holy women, and the arcane rites of The Knights Hospitaller keep the pages turning. Will Felicity choose the veil - or Antony?

Waiting on Wednesday: The House I Loved by Tatiana de Rosnay

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

Paris, France: 1860's. Hundreds of houses are being razed, whole neighborhoods reduced to ashes. By order of Emperor Napoleon III, Baron Haussman has set into motion a series of large-scale renovations that will permanently alter the face of old Paris, moulding it into a "modern city." The reforms will erase generations of history-but in the midst of the tumult, one woman will take a stand.

Rose Bazelet is determined to fight against the destruction of her family home until the very end; as others flee, she stakes her claim in the basement of the old house on rue Childebert, ignoring the sounds of change that come closer and closer each day. Attempting to overcome the loneliness of her daily life, she begins to write letters to Armand, her beloved late husband. And as she delves into the ritual of remembering, Rose is forced to come to terms with a secret that has been buried deep in her heart for thirty years. The House I Loved is both a poignant story of one woman's indelible strength, and an ode to Paris, where houses harbor the joys and sorrows of their inhabitants, and secrets endure in the very walls...

Tuesday Teaser:

Tuesday Teasers is hosted by Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:

Grab your current read and let the book fall open to a random page. Share two sentences from somewhere on that page and the title of the book that you’re getting the teaser from. Please avoid spoilers! Read the official Tuesday Teaser Rules.

My teaser this week is from Dancing With Colonels. Subtitled 'A Young Woman's Adventures in Wartime Turkey' it is compiled by Sally Enstrom, who is a niece to the author of the letters, Marjorie Havreberg. From page 50:

Tonight Josie and I went down to the 14th St. shopping district and I got some shos finally. I got black patent leather strip pumps-size 7 1/2 quad so they fit-$5.50.

Mailbox Monday February 6, 2012

In February Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Metro Reader.

Last week I received two very different books. The first is The Book Club Cookbook:

The description of The Book Club Cookbook reads:

Whether it’s Roman Punch for The Age of Innocence, Sabzi ChallowGlogg
(spinach and rice) with Lamb for The Kite Runner, or Swedish Meatballs and Glögg for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, nothing spices up a book club meeting like great eats. Featuring recipes and discussion ideas from best-selling authors and book clubs across the country, this fully revised and updated edition of the classic book guides readers in selecting and preparing culinary masterpieces that blend perfectly with the literary masterpieces their club is reading. This edition includes new contributions from a host of today’s bestselling authors including:

  • Kathryn Stockett, The Help (Demetrie’s Chocolate Pie and Caramel Cake)
  • Sara Gruen, Water for Elephants (Oyster Brie Soup)
  • Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper (Brian Fitzgerald’s Firehouse Marinara Sauce)
  • Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone (Almaz’s Ethiopian Doro Wot and
  • Sister Mary Joseph Praise’s Cari De Dal)
  • Annie Barrows, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
  • (Annie Barrows’s Potato Peel Pie and Non-Occupied Potato Peel Pie)
  • Lisa See, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (Lisa See’s Deep Fried Sugared Taro)

The Book Club Cookbook will add real flavor to your meetings!

The second book I received is The Darlings by Cristina Alger.

The description of The Darlings (from the author's website) says:

A sophisticated page-turner about a wealthy New York family embroiled in a financial scandal with cataclysmic consequences.

Now that he’s married to Merrill Darling, daughter of billionaire financier Carter Darling, attorney Paul Ross has grown accustomed to New York society and all of its luxuries: a Park Avenue apartment, weekends in the Hamptons, bespoke suits. When Paul loses his job, Carter offers him the chance to head the legal team at his hedge fund. Thrilled with his good fortune in the midst of the worst financial downturn since the Great Depression, Paul accepts the position.

But Paul’s luck is about to shift: a tragic event catapults the Darling family into the media spotlight, a regulatory investigation, and a red-hot scandal with enormous implications for everyone involved. Suddenly, Paul must decide where his loyalties lie—will he save himself while betraying his wife and in-laws or protect the family business at all costs?

Cristina Alger’s glittering debut novel interweaves the narratives of the Darling family, two eager SEC attorneys, and a team of journalists all racing to uncover—or cover up—the truth. With echoes of a fictional Too Big to Fail and the novels of Dominick Dunne, The Darlings offers an irresistible glimpse into the highest echelons of New York society—a world seldom seen by outsiders—and a fast-paced thriller of epic proportions.

Goose Lane Editions launches new website

[Fredericton, NB] In 1994, still in the birthing years of the Internet, Goose Lane Editions, Canada’s oldest independent book publisher, made history by becoming one of the first publishing houses in the world to launch their own website. After 18 years, the site has gone through numerous transformations, changing to suit our evolving culture as technology improved and users became more computer-savvy. Now, we are proud to announce the newest iteration of, with new features, new content, and a new promotion to kick off the launch.

In addition to a complete visual redesign, we have added new website elements such as twitter feeds and ongoing blog posts by our many employees. Sample chapters are available for many books, and an ongoing stream of events and notices is added to the main page every day.

To celebrate our launch, we’d like to extend a special offer. For every day the week of January 23, we will be offering one book a day at a special highly-discounted price. Roadsworth, YOU comma Idiot, The Famished Lover, Miller Brittain, The Black Watch, Beaverbrook: A Shattered Legacy, and Ganong: A Sweet History of Chocolate will each take over one day of the week with a drastically discounted price to help celebrate our new look and attitude. All this, in addition to our regular feature of free shipping on orders of $60 or more. To take advantage of these offers, simply create an account with Goose Lane. By doing so, you’ll also ensure that you are regularly updated on upcoming special offers.

We’ve been around a long time, both physically and electronically. Here’s to many more years together.

Mailbox Monday January 30, 2012

In January Mailbox Monday is being hosted by At Home With Books.

Last week I received The Bedlam Detective by Stephen Gallagher. The blurb on the book reads:

Sebastian Becker, a former Pinkerton man, lives in England and investigates wealthy eccentrics who may be too insane to care for their own affairs. He is asked to investigate rich landowner Sir Owain but arrives to discover two young girls have been murdered. It is not the first time children have come to harm in this small town. Owain's sanity is in question after a disastrous adventure that killed his family and colleagues, and Becker suspects him of the killings. A smart young suffragette and the wild daughter of a horse trainer had a frightening childhood experience that may hold some of the answers Becker seeks, but only if Becker can convince them to trust him in time.

Madmen and monsters both real and imagined abound, and Becker faces immense danger in his hunt for the truth-and in the process he will have to face murderers, tragedy, and the tempestuous depths of his own mind.

Review: The Placebo Effect and Q & A with author David Rotenberg

I love to discover authors whose writing I like, and I’m especially delighted when I discover a new series that I enjoy. The Placebo Effect fills both of those niches for me.

David Rotenberg's first book in a series called The Junction Chronicles follows Decker Roberts as he struggles to deal with his unique gift of detecting when other people are telling the truth. In other words, he’s a human lie detector. (I had visions of being able to do this all the while reading this book!) To make extra money Decker hires himself out to companies who will pay well for his services, determining for instance whether a potential employee is telling the truth about themselves. Life is going along swimmingly until Decker finds himself dealing with more than just the usual odd assortment of characters.

This book moves at lightening speed. I literally could not put it down. Every event in the plot plays out to an exciting ending. The idea of being able to detect when someone is lying is interesting in the first place. Add to that an unknown creepiness and it makes for a really fun read.

I especially enjoyed the main character. He was well fleshed out – the use of his background in the acting profession was an interesting twist. His family is not the perfect one either, dysfunction is the norm and I think it many readers will relate.

Without giving away too many details, I also really liked the role that corporations played in this novel. By their very nature, they’re large entities that seem untouchable but the author managed to give them a human face. Another aspect that I liked was the fact that the events moved around a good deal. Some of the action takes place in Toronto, some in New York City and Cincinnati. For me these are details that make a book more than just readable and The Placebo Effect was just that.

Read on for a Q & A with the author of The Placebo Effect, David Rotenberg

Q. How long did it take you to write Placebo Effect?
A. Pretty much 18 months, give or take two or three.

Q. I was struck by Placebo Effect's complex twists and turns. How did you keep track of all the details involved? Do you have a particular method that you use?
A. When I was younger I could actually recite whole swaths of my books-can’t do that anymore but I’m still able to keep track of the plotting events, and often surprise myself at my ability to recall very, very specific facts from previous drafts

-I don’t chart-my publishers wish I did, but I don’t.
-I think in the shower and very late at night-I’m not such a good sleeper.
-I know that I’m on to something when I begin to dream it.

Q. Was there a scene (or part of the book) that you enjoyed writing more than others?
A. A lot of the stuff about Seth pleased me. Also it’s fun for me to re-visit the New York City world that was mine for almost 15 years.

Q. There is something about the name of the main character that I find very appealing. How did you come up with Decker Roberts?
A. Do you know Blade Runner? Check out Blade Runner and you’ll see at least the origin of his first name.

Q. Have you started work on your next book?
A. Second book in The Junction Chronicles: A Murder of Crows is complete and with the publisher. Two other books (a sub series) called Seth’s Dream are also pretty much completed.

Tuesday Teaser: The Drop by Michael Connelly

Tuesday Teasers is hosted by Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:

Grab your current read and let the book fall open to a random page. Share two sentences from somewhere on that page and the title of the book that you’re getting the teaser from. Please avoid spoilers! Read the official Tuesday Teaser Rules.

My teaser this week is from Michael Connelly's The Drop. From page 62:

There were no other customers about, so Bosch took the bottle of salsa with him back to the car. He knew that when it came to truck tacos it was all about the salsa.

Mailbox Monday January 16, 2012

In January Mailbox Monday is being hosted by At Home With Books.

Last week I received White Horse by Alex Adams. The description of this book reads:

Thirty-year-old Zoe leads an ordinary life until the end of the world arrives. She is cleaning cages and floors at Pope Pharmaceuticals when the President of the United States announces that human beings are no longer a viable species. When Zoe realizes that everyone she loves is disappearing, she starts running. Scared and alone in a shockingly changed world, she embarks on a remarkable journey of survival and redemption. Along the way, Zoe comes to see that humans are defined not by their genetic code, but rather by their actions and choices. White Horse offers hope for a broken world, where love can lead to the most unexpected places.

Tuesday Teaser: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Tuesday Teasers is hosted by Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:

Grab your current read and let the book fall open to a random page. Share two sentences from somewhere on that page and the title of the book that you’re getting the teaser from. Please avoid spoilers! Read the official Tuesday Teaser Rules.

From page 150:

The publication of Origin prompted me to look for it, and if such a book existed, Elias Ashmole would have bought it. He had an uncanny ability to find bizarre manuscripts.

Mailbox Monday Janurary 9, 2012

In January Mailbox Monday is being hosted by At Home With Books.

Over the holidays I received Dancing with Colonels, letters by Marjorie Havreberg, edited by Judy Barrett Litoff and compiled by Sally Enstrom. The book description reads (from the South Dakota State Historical Society Press website:

Struck with the desire to see and do more with her life, a young South Dakota woman left the family home in Redfield to go to work for Senator Peter Norbeck in Washington, D.C. When the position ended, she quickly found she had grown accustomed to the bright lights of the capital and soon joined the military as a civilian secretary. With World War II in full swing, she found herself traversing the globe en route to Ankara, Turkey.

Once in Turkey, ostensibly a neutral country during the war, Marjorie Havreberg found herself swept up in the relatively glamorous world of military attachés, embassy soirees, and secret government correspondence. Her letters, sent home to her family in Redfield, South Dakota, cover the years in which she worked for Norbeck in Washington, D.C., and her career with the military. Her writing is witty, charming, and full of astute observations, and Dancing with Colonels serves as an excellent window into life in the 1930s and 1940s, including the often under-illuminated social side of wartime Turkey. With her small-town background, Havreberg provides the reader with a marvelously fresh look at her surroundings.

An Introduction from Judy Barret Litoff, who edited the letters, places the correspondence in the larger context of society at the time. Litoff is professor of history at Bryant College in Rhode Island. She has written extensively and is an expert on letters from the World War II era.

Sally Enstrom saved the letters, compiled this volume, and provided a brief memoir of her great aunt, highlighting Havreberg’s personality and zest for life.

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