Sunday, February 24, 2013



I was very excited to read this book.  At first glance I was super excited about the cover... the COVER, people!  Just LOOK at it!  As many of you, my lovely readers know, I am a sucker for a great cover.  In fact, I have an embarrassingly large amount of books lining my shelves that I bought simply because the cover was a stunner.  

Like this one.  

Granted, I borrowed it, but same diff.  

This story is written by a woman who not only is a bestselling author already, but she writes for TV and is also a director of film.  This you can see in her writing, which is very visual, and absolutely reads like a film being run and fed directly into your mind.  I loved it for that reason alone.  

It is a love story.  It is a girl meets boy, loses boy, meets friend, moves to the US kind of story.  I love love stories where two people meet and due to their circumstances they cannot be together.  Then they get separated and pine for one another over the years until the meet again... you get my drift. Unrequited love... one of the best kind to read about!  One of the best examples of this kind of story is The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons, which I almost lost my mind over a few years back.

It starts out all fine and dandy.  In fact, the first 1/3 of the book is AWESOME!  Let me explain.....

We meet Enza and Ciro.  Two teenagers growing up on a hillside in delicious Italy at the turn of the 20th century.  But first we get a little back story of Ciro, which is heartbreaking when his mother has to abandon him and his brother at a convent in this little hillside village in Italy.  In fact, this will come handy in later as Ciro pines so deeply for his mother throughout the book, that your heart just breaks at his mere mention of her!  

Enza is a strapping and strong girl and her and Ciro meet as teenagers.  She has just experienced a tragedy and Ciro and her are drawn to one another, and suddenly Ciro, a rabid playboy, is completely overwhelmed by his feelings for this girl he just met.  

And here is where Adriana lost me totally.    

SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ciro and Enza begin "stepping out" as they called it in those days, and finally they exchange a kiss.  Which, apparently, knocks Ciro's socks off.  Enza falls in love instantly, and it appears that Ciro has finally found the love of his life.  

What happens next is so weirdly disjointed that I just could not get past it for the rest of the entire novel.  

Immediately after this, Ciro returns to the church and discovers some strumpet in the arms of the local priest, and the priest decides that he must be banished from the village.  This part is not strange, in fact a great little plot twist.  Here comes the part I just didn't get.  So, the nuns cook up a plan for Ciro to go to America and stay with relatives.  And here's what I immediately think...."Oh, he's going to be so torn because he finally found Enza the love of his life!  How awesome!  This is going to be so great to read, he'll try to see her before he goes, he'll be devastated..."  Think Les Misarables when right after Marius and Cosette meet and Jean tells her they have to leave, what does she do?  SHE FREAKS OUT!  She writes Marius a note, and then the whole carriage ride she is super sad and all piney wishing she could stay with Marius...

Do you know what I'm saying here?  

Not only does Ciro not seem to give an Italian rats ass about Enza, he NEVER EVEN MENTIONS HER ONCE.  Nor does the author even put her in his thoughts, at all.  It is bizarre.  In fact, the pining he does for his mother, which makes total sense btw, he should have been doing some of that for Enza for me to even remotely believe his chasing after her when they meet up again in NYC.  But he so didn't.  Not even once.  Once he had been in NY for quite awhile, he kind of had a random flash of "some girl" he had shared a kiss with back in the homeland. 

And from that point on I just could not possibly believe their undying love story for one second.  

Especially later when they accidentally meet up again in America and eventually end up together in this long lost love affair.  

And the whole last 1/2 of the book is quite boring, it is just a story about a woman working as a seamstress in the Opera in New York, while Ciro is trying to make it as a shoemaker in the same city.  That's it.  That's all. 

So by the end, I was like.... that's it??  

Very very disappointing. 

RATING:  2/5

Saturday, February 16, 2013


The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

I received this ARC last summer from  Simon and Schuster Canada... whom I LOVE!  Thank you, S & S, for sending me this fantastic book!

Alright, so I think I may have given away this review before actually writing it, as I did really love this one.

The story takes place in early 20th century, on a little plot of land with a lighthouse.  It kind of reminds me of a Jodi Picoult type story line, with plenty of room for opinion!

Here is the blurb from Simon and Schuster:

After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby. 

Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them. 

Stedman has crafted a stunning tale that will be great fodder for any book club as it is rife with moral dilemma.  You will find yourself cheering alternately as the story unfolds, perhaps even surprising yourself as to which "side" you may land on!  

She writes a very believable story that follows the correct social etiquette of the time, sometimes missing in other novels set in the same time period.  I personally love reading books about solitary life, as I yearn for the life of a light keeper, or a park ranger, or a hairy hippy who rejects modern life for a log cabin deep in the woods.  Sigh.  I know I would probably go nutty after a few weeks, but on the busy days heavy with the loud buzzing of technology that is the backdrop of our lives these days, I really wish for the quite life that a day in 1900 looking after The Light would bring.  

I highly recommend The Light Between Oceans!

RATING:  4.5/5

Friday, February 8, 2013


Hi-dee-ho ---

I have in recent months put the 'ol kibosh on any ARC's or review copies coming in to my abode, but I just could not pass this one up when I got the request!  A HUGE THANK YOU to The Random House Publishing Group for my review copy of Speaking From the Among the Bones by Alan Bradley, New York Times bestselling author of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie series of books.  Exciting news for Flavia fans, she will be making her small-screen debut with a BBC production in the works with director  Sam Mendes at the helm.

Flavia continues in this novel and here is the blurb:

Eleven-year-old amateur detective and ardent chemist Flavia de Luce is used to digging up clues, whether they’re found among the potions in her laboratory or between the pages of her insufferable sisters’ diaries. What she is not accustomed to is digging up bodies. Upon the five-hundredth anniversary of St. Tancred’s death, the English hamlet of Bishop’s Lacey is busily preparing to open its patron saint’s tomb. Nobody is more excited to peek inside the crypt than Flavia, yet what she finds will halt the proceedings dead in their tracks: the body of Mr. Collicutt, the church organist, his face grotesquely and inexplicably masked. Who held a vendetta against Mr. Collicutt, and why would they hide him in such a sacred resting place? The irrepressible Flavia decides to find out. And what she unearths will prove there’s never such thing as an open-and-shut case.

I can't wait to read it!

Have a wonderful day!


Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Inside Scientology:  The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion
Library loaner

I actually read this a couple of months ago and loved it!  I am fascinated by the world of Scientology and how bizarre it is.  Janet Reitman is a journalist and has spent time in Iraq and other war torn areas.

The first section of the book, for me, was the most interesting because I had already heard all of the usual stuff about the "church" like the alien thing, the thetan thing, the billion year contract, etc.  The first chapter was all about the history of L. Ron Hubbard. Let me tell you, once you read his back story, you will never EVER be able to look at Scientology the same again.  The guy was a top rate wanna be star, who was also a compulsive liar about his life story. Or maybe you could call him a con artist.  Either way, his rise to fame is very engrossing, and you can see how systematically he built his empire and how he hooked his followers.  How anyone STILL manages to get recruited by the "church" is beyond me.

A few years out of curiosity I went into the only Western Canadian church in Edmonton.  Basically it was in a grungy industrial area, and the front of the church looked like a parts shop.  But when you enter, the first thing you see is a front lobby, kind of, full of books for sale about the "church" and a desk on one side.  Also, in the lobby is a HUGE floor to ceiling portrait of John Travolta and his wife, and beside that a massive bust of Hubbard.

I was immediately greeted by a lady in her 50's, and told her I was curious what Scientology was all about.  So she gave me a tour.  I had my 2 year old with me, and so she tagged along.  We walked down a long hallway and came into the room where they have their church services.  It looked kind of like any other church in a building, chairs in a semi circle, and at the front was a podium and behind that on the wall was a large "cross", you know the Scientology symbol thing?  And on the left hand side, big shocker, another massive bust of Hubbard.  And on the wall at the back a huge painting portrait of the fearless leader.  She told me the church services were on Sundays, and I asked if I could bring my daughter, and she looked almost shocked and said, "Oh no.  We have daycare for the children." And my immediate thought was, why are children not allowed to the services?  What are they talking about and preaching in this creepy place??

We then went back to the front of the building where she explained about the lectures and how when people take courses they listen to audio recordings in these little booths.  She said that all recordings that people listen to MUST BE ORIGINAL recordings of L. Ron himself teaching.  One of the first rules of a cult is that ALL information must come directly from the leader himself, this is how he keeps absolute control of his followers.  So my second alarm bell went off.  (the first being the children not being allowed).  She then explained auditing to me and hooked me up to the e-reader.  I held these two metal cylinders, one in each hand, and there was an indicator there that moved depending on how stressed I felt.  Can anyone say "bio feedback machine"?  But whatever, it is an E-READER apparently.  She asked me my name, and where I lived, and the needle barely moved.  Then she firmly pinched the back of my hand.  The needle moved quite bit.  Then without touching me she asked me to recall exactly what the pinch felt like, "Recall the pinch" she said.  And if you watch any footage of an auditor working, they say the exact same thing.  And the needle moved the same, quite a bit!  Which was pretty cool.  Then she asked me to recall the pinch again, and it moved a little less.  She asked me about 5 times to recall the pinch until the needle did not move at all.  So basically this is what they do with all of your traumatic or intensely emotional memories.  You go over the event again and again until you have no reaction whatsoever.  Hello... BRAIN WASHING!

She then proceeded to try to sell me auditing sessions at $1200 a piece, she said I would need about 6 of them.  This was in 2000.  And then she tried to sell me a bunch of books.

So, I can say, that it is not really so much a religion as it is a BUSINESS.  And this is what this book essentially says over and over.

She managed to get interviews with your usual suspects such as Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder, who at one time were extremely high ranking Scientologists and Mike Rinder was in two separate documentaries by a BBC journalist.  The first one, he was part of the team that was following the journalist around and being quite horrible. And by the time the second documentary rolled around, he had left the church and was spilling all of its secrets, as well as shedding light on some of the behaviour of he and Tommy Davis during the original documentary.  FASCINATING!

It is an amazing look into this bizarre world, and very frustrating to imagine the power that this small group has, and how celebrities who are seemingly intelligent are involved hook line and sinker.

A MUST READ for anyone interested in the inner workings of Scientology.

RATING:  4/5

Here is a link to the ENTIRE second BBC documentary, which is awesome, because it shows footage from the earlier one with Mike Rinder and then interviews with him after he leaves the church and can shed light on some of the weird stuff that went on during the making of the first one.