Constantly Moving the Bookmark


Avid reader of almost anything ... diligent reviewer because I like to hear myself type.


Professional Reader Challenge Participant Reviews Published

Congratulations to Andre Alexis and Fifteen Dogs

My Canadian book nerd side is really going to be showing now but I have to post a special shout out to Toronto author Andre Alexis. His book, "Fifteen Dogs" (one of my favorite reads in 2015) won the "Canada Reads 2017".



Fifteen Dogs won the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2015, making it the first Giller recipient to also win Canada Reads. Alexis was recently honoured with the Windham-Campbell Prize, which recognizes an author's body of work and is one of the world's richest literary awards.


I so loved this book and would highly recommend it.

My review HERE


Congratulations to Mr. Alexis ... very well deserved!

Checking Out the Katie Maguire Series

For me Graham Masterton is synonymous with “The Manitou”.  Mr. Masterton has been responsible for some of my most cringe-worthy horror reads and his Night Warriors books still remain some of my favorites.  For a long while he sort of dropped off my radar and then I came across his crime thriller series featuring Katie Maguire.  I started the series with the most recent book so I knew I wanted to go back and check out the first few.

WHITE BONES by Graham Masterton
When some construction on a farm building unearths bones D.S. Katie Maguire gets called to the scene.  It quickly becomes obvious that this is not a recent crime scene and after the forensics it turns out that the bones date back to 1915.  But why so many dismembered bodies in one grave – each with a piece of lace tied through the thighbone.
The crime is passed on to an anthropologist to puzzle out until a new murder victim surfaces, oddly enough with a piece of lace tied to the thigh bones as well.  Now Katie has a recent and a decades old murder to investigate.  Is it possible that it is the same killer?
I can’t say Katie Maguire is a fresh take on murder detectives … women have been taking the leading role in a lot of crime fiction lately but she is an interesting leading character.  She has a shady husband and some pretty questionable “friends”.  What made this book a little different is Mr. Masterton takes some pretty fascinating Irish folklore and ties it into a crime thriller. 
Oh?  Those cringe-worthy moments I mentioned?  Yup – still there.  I’ve read some pretty gruesome crime fiction in my day but this one had me grimacing, had it been a film I was watching I definitely would have been peeking out through my fingers.
4 Stars.
BROKEN ANGELS by Graham Masterton
If you are out fishing on a chilly spring morning it’s because you hope to land a big one, but not necessarily as big as a human body.  Father Heaney’s bloated, tortured and garrotted body snags the fishing line and it’s quite obvious that he didn’t accidentally fall in the river.  When Katie Maguire is informed about the murder of a second priest, also similarly tortured she has to amp up the investigation despite the Church trying to throw red herrings and cover-ups in her way.
Again, the story line of this thriller is not an entirely new concept but he does give it a fresh spin, once again drawing in some myths and legends.  The manner in which Mr. Masterton has his crimes executed it pretty bloody and leaves no doubt as to the reason for the killings.  I had that part figured out before it was explained, but that in no way took anything away from the rest of the story. 
Reading this book immediately on the heels of “White Bones” I immediately noticed a pretty serious continuity flaw.  One of the characters that very definitively died at the end of the first book was very much still alive at the beginning of this book.  It sounds a little petty but with 35+ books under his belt Mr. Masterton’s uncaught discrepancy set my teeth on edge.  I found myself reading the rest of this book anticipating other inconsistencies as I did so.  It was a bit distracting.  Mr. Masterton also likes to use the hospitalization of a family member as a distraction for Katie, once or twice I can accept, so I will pick up the third in the series somewhere down the road  - hopefully some of those personal peeves will be left out.
3 Stars
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from his website)
Graham Masterton's debut as a horror author began with The Manitou in 1976, a chilling tale of a Native American medicine man reborn in the present day to exact his revenge on the white man. It became an instant bestseller and was filmed with Tony Curtis, Susan Strasberg, Burgess Meredith, Michael Ansara, Stella Stevens and Ann Sothern.
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. After training as a newspaper reporter, Graham 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. At this time he started to write a bestselling series of sex 'how-to' books including How To Drive Your Man Wild In Bed which has sold over 3 million copies worldwide. His latest, Wild Sex For New Lovers is published by Penguin Putnam in January, 2001. He is a regular contributor to Cosmopolitan, Men's Health, Woman, Woman's Own and other mass-market self-improvement magazines.
He lives in Surrey, England (sadly his wife, Wiescka died in April 2011). He has just finished writing a black thriller featuring Ireland's only female detective superintendent, Katie Maguire, set in the Cork underworld; and a dark fantasy, Jessica's Angel, about a girl's search for five supposedly-dead children.
He has written several new short stories and is currently working on a new horror novel, as yet untitled.

The Twenty-Three - A Review

After reading the first two books in this Promise Falls trilogy I waited quite awhile before picking up this last book.  I don’t know why I waited so long but now that I’ve read it I’m on the fence about this one.

THE TWENTY-THREE by Linwood Barclay
Promise Falls is a small town that has been under siege for a long while now and the number 23 seems to be important to whoever is perpetrating the horrendous acts.  Now it’s the Memorial Day weekend, May 23rd and as the sun rises people are dropping like flies.  It doesn’t take long to figure out that something has been put into the water supply.   As if that wasn’t enough for the hospital and police department to deal with another murder occurs – one bearing horrible similarities to two past, as yet unsolved, murders.  Could all these events be related?
Mr. Barclay once again gave me a page-turner.  Things in Promise Falls were happening and they were happening quickly.  For this reader it was almost too much, too quickly.  Just when I was catching on to what was happening with the water the scene switched to the murder and then a quick cut to the mayoral candidate and then back to the water treatment plant.  While I don’t mind a lot of action this instalment in the trilogy seemed overpopulated and slightly out of control.  The mystery of “23” was solved and yet with everything that went on there were still some questions unanswered. 
Mr. Barclay has stated this is his last visit to Promise Falls.  We’ll see? 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from the author’s website)
After spending his formative years helping run a cottage resort and trailer park after his father died when he was 16, Barclay got his first newspaper job at the Peterborough Examiner, a small Ontario daily. In 1981, he joined the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest circulation newspaper.
He held such positions as assistant city editor, chief copy editor, news editor, and Life section editor, before becoming the paper’s humour columnist in 1993. He was one of the paper’s most popular columnists before retiring from the position in 2008 to work exclusively on books.
Barclay was born in the United States but moved to Canada just before turning four years old when his father, a commercial artist whose illustrations of cars appeared in Life, Look and Saturday Evening Post (before photography took over), accepted a position with an advertising agency north of the border. Barclay, who graduated with an English literature degree from Trent University, in Peterborough, Ontario, was fortunate to have some very fine mentors; in particular, the celebrated Canadian author Margaret Laurence, whom Linwood first met when she served as writer-in-residence at Trent, and Kenneth Millar, who, under the name Ross Macdonald, wrote the acclaimed series of mystery novels featuring detective Lew Archer. It was at Trent that he met Neetha, the woman who would become his wife. They have two children, Spencer and Paige.

Fosgate's Game - A Review

I’m always on the lookout for a good horror story so when I got the email that I’d won a copy of this one I was quite excited to read it.  I’ve read a few other novellas by Mr. Cassidy and, like those, this one did not disappoint. 

FOSGATE’S GAME by David C. Cassidy
Chadwick and Fosgate were business associates but that was all they had in common.  Fosgate is a hunter, a brute, insensitive to other people’s feelings, concerns and fears.   Chadwick was more sensitive – his ulcer flares up when he is in Fosgate’s company, the hunter’s trophies on the wall disturb him and thunderstorms are a phobia – and tonight’s dinner did indeed take place a very dark and stormy night.  Chadwick understands that Fosgate takes a perverse sort of joy playing on his fears but it cannot be helped; these ongoing evenings are a necessity of doing business.
But this night is different.
This night Fosgate shares a mysterious secret about an object he picked up in his travels, a chess set with pieces so grotesque Chadwick could not comprehend why and who would have carved them.  The set should have stayed hidden in it’s case.  It emanated evil, but worse; Fosgate wanted to play!
This book had me in its grip from the first page.  Chadwick’s fear and loathing of Fosgate was palpable and as the evening and Chadwick’s discomfort progressed so did mine. Since I don’t care for Jason and Chainsaw “slasher” type horror finding a good old-fashioned scare seems few and far between these days.  Rest assured there is still the requisite amount of mayhem, death, blood and gore but Mr. Cassidy does not feel the need to slap you in the face with it … one quick mention and the rest is left to the readers imgination … like some of the masters of the genre he understands that this reader does not need to feel splattered in blood to feel fear.  How does it all turn out?  Satisfyingly twisted thank you very much!
I’d like to thank Mr. Cassidy for providing me with this book through a contest
with no expectation of a review.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from amazon)
Award-winning author David C. Cassidy is the twisted mind behind several best-selling novels of horror and suspense, including The Dark, Velvet Rain, and Fosgate's Game. An author, photographer, and graphic designer--and a half-decent juggler--he spends his writing life creating dark and touching stories where Bad Things Happen To Good People. Raised by wolves, he grew up with a love of nature, music, science, and history, with thrillers and horror novels feeding the dark side of his seriously disturbed imagination. He talks to his characters, talks often, and most times they listen.
But the real fun starts when they tell him to take a hike, and they Open That Door anyway. Idiots. David lives in Ontario, Canada. From Mozart to Vivaldi, classic jazz to classic rock, he feels naked without his iPod. Suffering from MAD--Multiple Activity Disorder--he divides his time between writing and blogging, photography and Photoshop, reading and rollerblading. An avid amateur astronomer, he loves the night sky, chasing the stars with his telescope. Sometimes he eats.
To learn more and connect with David, you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook, or visit his website:

Echoes in Death - A Review

After the last few books I was ready to give up on this series.  I’m quite glad I decided to plough through one more.  I thought this was the best one in quite a while.

In start of this 44th book in the In Death series Eve and Rourke have just returned from a lovely vacation on their private island in time to attend the Winter Ball, a charity event.  Eve, of course, hates every minute of the schmoozing, fancy dress and toe numbing heels.  She was looking forward to getting back to work on Monday but work finds her as she and Rourke are driving home when a young woman, naked and beaten, runs out in front of their car.  Eve Dallas is suddenly back on the job … heels and all.
They manage to rush Daphne Strazza to the ER in time to save her life, but when Eve goes back to investigate it is quite obviously to late for her husband.  Daphne swears the devil himself broke into their home after a dinner party, tied up her husband and then repeatedly assaulted her.  Eve understood that it couldn’t really have been the devil, but who was this master of disguise – who, as it turns out has targeted several other couples before and probably has a list of future victims as well.
With Echoes in Death Ms. Robb has gone back to what I enjoyed about these books at the beginning – the crime, the squad, the investigation and Rourke to go home to.  It was a relief to me that Rourke took a little bit of a back seat in this one.  Frankly, he was becoming annoyingly controlling and invasive of Eve’s space in the last few entries.  Yes, he still helped with some computer work but this case was solved by good old police work.  Well 2060’s style police work.  Therein lies my only complaint with this book ... the solving of the case seemed to come out of the blue.  All at once Eve seems to have an epiphany and the bad guy is in the interrogation room.  Did I miss a chapter or two?  Was it supposed to be a surprise or did Ms. Robb realize the page limit was looming and she better get this case solved.  
Echoes in Death has ensured that I will pick up at least the next instalment. 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her website)
With a phenomenal career full of bestsellers, Nora Roberts was ready for a new writing challenge. As her agent put it, like Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, and caffeine-free Pepsi, a pseudonym offered her the opportunity to reach a new and different group of readers. The first futuristic suspense J. D. Robb book, Naked in Death, was published in paperback in 1995, and readers were immediately drawn to Eve Dallas, a tough cop with a dark past, and her even more mysterious love interest, Roarke.
The series quickly gained attention, great reviews, and devoted readers. Since the debut of Loyalty in Death (the ninth In Death book) on Halloween 1999 on the New York Times bestseller list, every J. D. Robb title has been a New York Times bestseller. While fans had their suspicions, it wasn’t until the twelfth book in the series, Betrayal in Death (2001), that the publisher fully revealed that J. D. Robb was a pseudonym for bestselling powerhouse Nora Roberts. Unmasked, Nora Roberts fans who hadn’t yet picked up one of the Robb books were quickly playing catch-up.
The In Death books are perpetual bestsellers, and frequently share the bestseller list with other Nora Roberts novels. J. D. Robb publishes two hardcover In Death books per year, with the occasional stand-alone original In Death story featured in an anthology.
Forty-four books later, there is no end in sight for the ever-popular In Death series.

I Liked My Life - A Review

I hadn’t heard any buzz about this book, but the cover caught my eye from the “express read” shelf as I was hurrying past it on my way to the “holds” shelf at the library.  When that happens (more often than I should probably admit) I read the synopsis on the inside cover but I also flip through the book and read some random sentences and the first line.  How could I resist a book whose first line read “I found the perfect wife for my husband”?

I LIKED MY LIFE by Abby Fabiaschi
Madeline is devoted to her teenage daughter, still in love (mostly) with her husband and proud of being a stay at home mom.  She, possibly rightly, knows that she is the glue that holds her family together.  She’s happy with her family and her accomplishments.  That’s what she and everyone around her thought until Maddy, for reasons unknown, went to the roof of the library building where she worked and ended up dead and broken on the tarmac below.
As her family comes to terms with her unexpected death Madeline finds that although her mortal life is over she is not quite ready to leave her family totally to their own devices.  A presence - but not really a ghost - Madeline has to learn how to navigate in this limbo where she finds herself and, more importantly, how to steer her family in the right direction before she ascends to wherever she is meant to go.
Told from the perspective of the three family members, Brady (husband and father), Eve (daughter) and Maddy herself.  This style is perfect for this book because it gives the reader the insight they need into all three characters that an omniscient narrator could never accomplish in the same satisfying manner.  Despite the fact that this book primarily deals with the death of woman, the pain and the grief her husband and daughter go through and their tense, often difficult, road toward forming a new type of relationship at it’s heart this is a feel good book.  Yes, it is sad in places and I can even admit to being angry with each of the characters at different points, it made me smile at others and, boy, I liked this book.
It never occurred to me while I was enthralled in the read but if you liked “Lovely Bones” then this is a book you should definitely pick up and read.  The books are different in many ways, the same in others but certainly with the same type of feels.
It didn’t take too much deciding to come up with my 5 star rating but I hesitated for a couple of moments wondering if I enjoyed this book so much because of my age.  It will definitely appeal to the “mature” woman but I truly believe it will appeal to young women and older teens just as much.  It’s a story of family, love and friendship and how to get through the tough times.
* Twenty percent of the author’s proceeds support women and children’s charities around the globe.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her website)
After graduating from The Taft School in 1998 and Babson College in 2002, Abby climbed the corporate ladder in high technology. When her children turned three and four in what felt like one season, she resigned to pursue writing.
In March, Abby signed a two-book, hardcover deal with St. Martin’s Press. Her debut upmarket women’s fiction novel, I Liked My Life, will be released January 31, 2017.
Abby is a human rights advocate interested in economic solutions to social/cultural problems.
She is Director of the Board for Made By Survivors, an international nonprofit organization with a unique prosperity model that uplifts victims from sex trafficking and extreme abuse.
She and her family divide their time between West Hartford, Connecticut and Park City, Utah. When not writing or watching the comedy show that is her children, she enjoys reading across genres, skiing, hiking, and yoga. Oh, and travel. Who doesn’t love vacation?

I Work at a Public Library - A Review

I am a bit of a sucker for this type of book.  Interacting with the public for most of my working life I have a few amusing stories up my sleeve too.  I think that sets my expectations pretty high.

The tag line on this book is “A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks”.
Crazy?  Not so sure.
Humorous?  Borderline.
I can’t honestly say that, for me, there were any laugh-out-loud moments as I read this book.  I found it mildly funny at best so that was a little disappointing.  I understand that Ms. Sheridan was sharing some of these stories in a blog and eventually had other librarians sending her stories that she added to her own and shared a select number in this book.  I may go and check out the blog sometime just to see if she could have made better choices.
My favorite story in the book?  Ouchies, Library … I stubbed my toe just as someone dropped a book into the inside book drop.  As I yelped and howled in pain, a child on the other side said “Mommy, I think we hurt he book”.
All that aside I do applaud any literary effort that celebrates libraries and librarians.  I use my library A LOT and am so grateful they do what they do.  For that reason I tacked another ½ star onto my rating of this book … 3 ½ stars!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from the book jacket)
Gina Sheridan is a librarian in St. Louis, Missouri, where she lives her partner Travis.  When she’s not collecting stories, she’s exploring cemeteries, dressing up her cats, or taking pictures of things overlooked by regular people.  You can visit her website at

The Ice Dragon - A Review

I read and enjoyed the books in the Song of Fire and Ice series, and let’s face it; very few authors are as ruthless as Mr. Martin when it comes to killing off characters in the most gruesome ways.  When I saw this book at the Dollar Store (sorry Mr. Martin, sad for you – good for me), despite my self-imposed book buying ban I had to pick it up to see what Mr. Martin considers YA fiction.

THE ICE DRAGON by George R.R. Martin
Adara was a winter child, born during the worst winter anyone could remember.  Unfortunately, her mother died in childbirth – no one knows if that, the storm or her father’s (albeit) hidden blame resulted in her not ever feeling cold.  When other children tired of their winter games and ran inside for warmth Adara went alone to build her ice castle.  It was there she first met the Ice Dragon of legend.  No one had ever seen it other than from afar but after several winters Adara not only touched it but also rode on it’s back.  They developed a unique friendship out of mutual loneliness.
As war encroaches ever closer on her village neighbours and friends are leaving.  Even Adara’s uncle, a King’s Dragon Master, warned her father to leave but he was a stubborn man.  When it was too late to leave and the only thing that could save them was Adara’s dragon it became a question of which friend was willing to sacrifice more for the other.
While not totally without war, bloodshed and death Mr. Martin has definitely toned it down for the younger audience intended to read The Ice Dragon.  What there is, I would consider age appropriate and not graphic - happening “off page”.  He does give his young reader a page turning story and a poignant lesson about what it means to be a friend.  An added bonus is the wonderful illustrations. 
I enjoyed the book and am glad I “splurged” and picked it up.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from the book jacket)
Mr. Martin is a six time Hugo and two-time Nebula Award winner, is the author of the most wildly acclaimed and anticipated series in recent history, A Song of Ice and Fire, the basis for HBO’s show Game of Thrones.  Time magazine named him “One of the most influential people of 2011”.  He currently resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR (from the book jacket)

Luis Royo is a prolific Spanish artist best known for his lush fantasy illustrations.  More than thirty books of his collected art have been published, including “Women, Dead Moon”, and the “Malefic Time” series.  Royo’s artwork is featured in Spectrum 3 and has been exhibited in Barcelona, Madrid, Milan, New York, Seattle and St. Petersburg.

Catching Up

— feeling surrender

As happens sometimes my laptop had to go to the hospital.  The 'puter doctor fixed it but it left me without a computer for several days.  Talk about withdrawal!


So a belated Happy St. Patrick's Day



and, a belated Happy First Day of Spring



and, I might be flooding the dashboard with reviews over the next couple of days. Sorry in advance!

Switching things up a bit with a movie review


I was fortunate enough to see Kedi (Turkish for cats) at the Rogers “Hot Docs” in Toronto last night and I am not using the word “fortunate” lightly.  It was a delightful film.  I always walk into documentaries, especially those featuring animals, with a certain amount of trepidation because of what I might see.  With Kedi my greatest fear was that it would be tear-inducing account of the hardships feral cats face in the streets of Istanbul.  Oh yes, I’d watched the trailers but they always put the best parts into those don’t they?  Thankfully, my trepidation was unfounded.  I am sure they purposely left out “ugly” but, with my blinders permanently in place, that was fine by me.

The cats of Kedi are not feral cats – wild and uncared for, they are “street cats” (as the film’s English title infers) – cats that are cared for, fed, petted and loved by the people with whom they share their city.  As one of the people featured in the film explained “we all have running tabs at the vet’s office”.  From the fisherman who discovered an abandoned litter of kittens and took over feeding them using a syringe to the shop owner who was administering antibiotic drops to a kitten with an eye infection there wasn’t much in this film that didn’t make me smile.
Common belief is that they first arrived on Norwegian trading ships and just stayed (a few of the cats definitely bore traits common to the Norwegian Forest breed).  And why not stay?  They are treated like the royalty I’m sure they believe they are.  The people in the film were eloquent in describing why the cats were such an important part of not only their lives but also the life of the city that they have roamed freely for centuries.  Kedi is also a truly beautiful film to watch … Istanbul on film is both breathtaking in the long shops and quite real, dare I say gritty at times, when the camera went to street shots and then even to cat’s-eye level.
That entirely aside, and as it should be, the cats were the stars of the film.  Each of the featured felines had a distinct personality.  With a gentleman, a psychopath, the lover and the hustler the movie could be a Hollywood blockbuster but these cats are just going about their days and, more often than not, getting their own way.  Even President Obama was not immune to their powerful charms when he bent down to pet one of these felines on a tour of Hagia Sophia.
There was a serious side to Kedi that cannot be overlooked.  The people are concerned about the gentrification of their little part of the city.  They worry about themselves but also about what will happen to these cats that are so much a part of their lives.  Now the cats lounge in the sun on car windshields, relax in store doorways, perch upon high walls, sprawl on top of awnings and curl up on sidewalk café, they have their private little hidey-holes and safe places to disappear into when they need alone time.  The citizens fear for them when all there spots disappear.  Where will they go … both people and cats?
I must admit there was a big – okay huge – part of me that watched this film with my Canadian mentality and wondered why they would not start a Trap/Neuter/Release program in this beautiful city.  The people pick up and cuddle kittens, interact with these cats, feed them and look after their health … why not spay and neuter? But, this is a review not a platform so, definitely, this is a film I would not hesitate to recommend to anyone but especially those with a soft spot for furry feline friends.

It's World Book Day ...

Cats and books ... two of my favorite things - throw in some coffee and chocolate and life would be almost perfect!


Just because I like the picture

— feeling wink

The Book That Changed America - A Review

This book has been described as “A compelling portrait of a unique moment in American history when the ideas of Charles Darwin reshaped American notions about nature, religion, science and race”.  That is an accurate description but the book is so much more.

THE BOOK THAT CHANGED AMERICA – How Darwin’s Theory of Evolution Ignited a Nation by Randall Fuller
In 1860 Charles Darwin published “On the Origin of Species” and I think it would be fairly safe to assume that he had steeled himself for the backlash that the publication would produce from all parts of society.  I’m not quite so sure he was prepared for the support he received or the fact that his book would be used as an argument supporting both sides of the slavery issue in America.
“Reviewers for the American popular press consistently understood Darwin as having provided a theory that showed that black and white people were related.  In truth, Darwin had refrained from addressing this issue in the “Origin” because he was unwilling to claim more for his theory than it could adequately answer.”
I found that quite interesting, as I had never come across any information about that particular use of Darwin’s theory before.  Of course, that was by no means the only impact his publication had on the world; especially when it concerned religion and science.  Botanist Asa Gray was possibly the first person in America to read Darwin’s book and he soon led the charge for acceptance of Darwin’s revolutionary theory.  Soon the book was introduced to other members of the scientific, religious and philosophical realms of society: Charles Loring, Franklin Sanborn, Bronson Alcott and Henry David Thoreau.  In researching this book Mr. Fuller not only tells us the impact the book had on those luminaries but also the influential writers of the time such as Emerson, Lousia May Alcott and Frederick Douglas. 
I cannot begin to describe all the areas Mr. Fuller touched upon in this book in a short review but suffice it say that he packs a lot of interesting information into this 322-page book.  I not only learned more about Mr. Darwin’s theory but also enjoyed the biographical aspects about the others spotlighted. 
It’s difficult to imagine one book filled with one man’s ideas could change the thinking of an entire country, but after reading Mr. Fuller’s book I can certainly see how it happened.  Well researched and well written but more importantly it satisfied the curiosity that prompted me to pick it up and I can’t ask more than that, so five stars for this one.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from the book jacket)
Randall fuller is the author of “From Battlefields Rising: How the Civil War Transformed American Literature”, which won Phi Beta Kappa’s Christian Gauss Award for best literary criticism. 
He has written for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and other publications and has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National endowment for the Humanities.

He is Chapman Professor of English at the University of Tulsa.

The Lady and Her Monsters - A Review

— feeling frankenstein

When I was in High School (yeah, I’m surprised I can remember back that far too!) we had a wonderful Advanced English teacher who allowed us to do one term on Horror books – the classics.  We read Dracula, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and, of course, Frankenstein.  (We also watched Hitchcock films and were allowed to choose a modern horror book of our choice for independent study.)  Despite dissecting and reassembling these books ad nausium I did not learn as much about Mary Shelley and her monster as I did from reading this book.  English teachers, as awesome as some of them might be, could learn a lesson here and occasionally take a few steps outside the actual book.

THE LADY AND HER MONSTERS – a Tale of Dissections, Real-Life Dr, Frankensteins and the Creation of Mary Shelley’s Masterpiece by Roseanne Montillo
From the frog experiments of Luigi Galvani in the mid-1700’s through to Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein” man has always been fascinated with reanimation of the departed.  Ms. Montillo does not spare those readers of a more delicate constitution from the realities of these experiments.  Gruesome as they were it is important to understand how Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley might have come about some of her knowledge about these experiments in a time when well mannered women were kept in the dark about science.
Not only does this book offer an explanation of how Mary Shelley may have come up with Frankenstein’s monster but also serves as a comprehensive biography of Shelley and her family, as well as several of the prominent people in her life; Byron, or course and Percy Shelley are among others both well known and not.  As far as the truth behind the stories and myths surrounding the writing of the book itself … ‘twas indeed a dark and stormy night.
Ghoulish as it makes me sound, I was also quite fascinated about the goings on of the “body snatchers”.
Packed full of obviously well researched information and written in an easily readable style I definitely have to give five stars to this fascinating read.
 ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from the book jacket)
Roseanne Montillo is the author of The Lady and Her Monsters. She holds an MFA from Emerson College, where she continues to teach as a professor of literature. Roseanne lives in Boston.

The Hidden Keys - A Review

After I read “Fifteen Dogs” several years ago Andre Alexis became on author on my “need to read more by him” list.  If you saw my TBR you would understand why that hasn’t happened until now.  When I read about the release of this book in 2016 I knew I wanted to pick it up.  It took me this long to get to it.  Shame on me!


THE HIDDEN KEYS by Andre Alexis

Tancred Palmieri is an enigma – an honourable thief who also happens to have a detective as a best friend.  He lives in and mixes with the people in a shadier area of Toronto, not somewhere you would expect to meet Willow Azarian, a billion dollar heiress with a not so secret heroin addiction.  Tancred knew nothing about Willow but she knew him by reputation.  A chance(?) meeting sitting on the bar stools in a dive bar prompts them to start a conversation.  Tancred took Willow to be what she appeared, a slightly eccentric addict with possibly delusions of grandeur – until she shows him her “mad money” bank book containing a 6 figure balance.  After saving her from some thugs Willow tells Tancred a fantastic story about a treasure hunt her father arranged for her before he died.  Each of the five Azarian siblings received an unusual gift bequest in their father’s will.  Each gift individually was simply a memento but combined they were an intricate series of clues.  Willow is convinced there is a pot of gold at the end of the hunt but her siblings believe otherwise.  Willow wants Tancred to steal each of their mementos and help her solve the puzzle.  He gives his word and Tancred is nothing if not a man of his word even when it means completing the task without Willow’s help.  He quickly finds out that others are also on the same quest but is he on the mother of all treasure hunts or the wildest goose chase of his life?
As he did in “Fifteen Dogs” Mr. Alexis gives his reader an extremely entertaining story. This one is filled with eccentric characters from all parts of the economic spectrum, he gives us moments of almost slapstick humour and at other times nail biting suspense, all combining to ask the reader to question what the true meaning of family, friendship and promises might be.  Amazingly enough he does this in an unobtrusive way.  Never obviously preaching the subtle undertones, it wasn’t until I read the last page and closed the cover that it occurred to me how meaningful this entertaining story really was. 
If I was pressed to find fault with the book I would have to admit that in one or two instances it dragged a little, more than likely because I was impatient to find out if there was a treasure.  It was fun to read a book set in Toronto, a city I know well so it’s still five stars for this one.  Mr. Alexis hit another one out of the park.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from the Wikipedia)
Andre Alexis was born in Trinidad and grew up in Canada.  His debut novel, Childhood, won the Books in Canada First Novel Award and the Trillium Book Award, and was shortlisted for the Giller Prize.
Alexis began his artistic career in the theatre, and has held the position of playwright-in-residence at the Canadian Stage Company. His short play Lambton, Kent, first produced and performed in 1995, was released as a book in 1999.  His first published work of fiction, Despair and Other Stories of Ottawa (1994), was short-listed for the Commonwealth Prize.
Alexis published Ingrid and the Wolf, his first work of juvenile fiction, in 2005. Alexis wrote the libretto for James Rolfe's opera Aeneas and Dido, which premiered at Toronto Masque Theatre in 2007.  His novel Asylum was published in 2008, and is set in Ottawa during the government of Brian Mulroney.  Fifteen Dogs, was published in 2015 and won both the Giller Prize and the Rogers Writers' Trust Award that year. The third novel, The Hidden Keys, was published in 2016.
In 2017, Alexis was announced as a juror for the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Alexis lives and works in Toronto, where he has hosted programming for CBC Radio, reviews books for The Globe and Mail, and is a contributing editor for This Magazine.

84 Charing Cross Road - A Review

This book blipped on my radar but wasn’t readily available so I sort of forgot about it, then it magically arrived on my doorstep in my “Cozy Box Swap” and I was quite thrilled.  Big THANK YOU to Murder by Death.  I had a mountainous pile of library books that had to be read and returned so it took me a while to get to this one.  I’m really sorry about that because 1. It was a gift and I wanted to read it and, 2. It is a fantastic book!

84 CHARING CROSS ROAD by Helene Hanff
Helene is looking through the Saturday Review of Literature when she comes across an ad for the bookstore at 84 Charing Cross Road.  She writes a letter to the store inquiring about purchasing some classic books she is having difficulty finding in New York City … difficult that is without leaving her apartment and spending an outrageous amount of money.  Soon enough the books arrive on her doorstep and so begins a 20-year correspondence and friendship between herself and the proprietor of the store, Frank Doel.  The story is told entirely through the letters she and Frank, as well as some other employees of the store and Frank’s family, share.  The reader is not only privy to their lives through the correspondence but is also given a very clear picture of post war London compared to New York City in the same time period.  It was a charming read.
Helene never made it to London during Frank’s lifetime, or for that matter the lifetime of the bookstore at 84 Charing Cross Road, but she did eventually manage to take her “dream trip” to London because of the letters.  
A trip paid for by their publication led to what was the second half of this book, originally published as “The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street”, it is the tale of her exploration of London.  A little bittersweet because she can never meet Frank she never the less takes her reader along as she joyfully explores this city she loved from afar.
While I enjoyed the first part of the book slightly more than the second the book taken as a whole was marvellous.  I fell a little bit in love with Helene: her brashness, her outspokenness, her feminism before it was fashionable and her frugal way of getting things done.  She charmed me as she charmed all the people she met along the way during this part of her life.
This was definitely a 5-star read and I encourage anyone who loves books and likes London to pick up this book.  This is a book that is definitely getting a permanent home on my favorites bookshelf.  I am going to make a point of picking up what amounts to the third in this original “trilogy”, “Q’s Legacy”.  I wish I had read this book before my own trip to London last year.
“I do love secondhand books that open to the page some previous owner read oftenest. ...
“I love inscriptions on flyleaves and notes in margins, I like the comradely sense of turning pages someone else turned, and reading passages someone long gone has called my attention to.”
Helene Hanff
An American writer born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is best known as the author of the book 84, Charing Cross Road which became the basis for a stage play, television play, and film of the same name.
Helene Hanff's career saw her move from unproduced playwright to creator of some of the earliest television dramas to becoming a noted writer and personality in her own right, as a quintessential New Yorker. She wrote a memoir in 1961 called Underfoot in Show Business that chronicled her struggles as an ambitious young playwright trying to make it in the world of New York theatre in the 1940s and 1950s. She worked in publicists' offices and spent summers on the "straw hat circuit" along the East Coast, all the while writing one play after another. Her plays were admired by some of Broadway's leading producers but somehow none of them ever made it to the stage.
When network television production geared up in New York City in the early 1950s, Hanff found a new career writing and editing scripts for many early television dramas. Chief among these was the Dumont Network series The Adventures of Ellery Queen. At the same time, she continued to try to get one of her plays produced on Broadway and not just be "one of the 999 out of 1,000 who didn't become Moss Hart." (In later editions of Underfoot, this reference was changed to Noël Coward.) The bulk of television production eventually moved to California, but Hanff chose to remain in New York. As her TV work dried up, she turned to writing for magazines and, eventually, to the books that made her reputation.
Hanff was never shy about her fondness for cigarettes and martinis, but nevertheless lived to be 80, dying of diabetes in 1997 in New York City. The apartment building where she lived at 305 E. 72nd Street has been named "Charing Cross House" in her honor. A bronze plaque next to the front door commemorates her residence and authorship of the book. In England, a bronze plaque on the site of the original building commemorates the bookshop at 84, Charing Cross Road.