Note about my Reviews

Dear Authors: The reviews in this blog are only personal opinions. I have absolutely no background in literature, writing or reviewing. I am a Librarian (actually a Library Technician for those who care OR know the difference) with a love for a good story. The opinions in the reviews are ONLY my OPINIONS. I am not commenting on the writers ability since well -- I am not a writer and never will be. If you are the author of any of the books reviewed here, my opinion is just that and not a judgment against you!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Visions by Kelley Armstrong

Visions (Cainsville #2)
by Kelley Armstrong
RandomHouse Canada
ISBN: 9780525953050
Buy from Indigo

Description: Omens, the first installment in Kelley Armstrong’s exciting new series, introduced Olivia Taylor-Jones, daughter of notorious serial killers, and Gabriel Walsh, the self-serving, morally ambiguous lawyer who became her unlikely ally. Together, they chased down a devious killer and partially cleared her parents of their horrifying crimes.

Their success, however, is short-lived. While Olivia takes refuge in the old, secluded town of Cainsville, Gabriel’s past mistakes have come to light, creating a rift between the pair just when she needs his help the most.

Olivia finds a dead woman in her car, dressed to look like her, but the body vanishes before anyone else sees it. Olivia’s convinced it’s another omen, a sign of impending danger. But then she learns that a troubled young woman went missing just days ago—the same woman Olivia found dead in her car. Someone has gone to great lengths to kill and leave this young woman as a warning. But why? And what role has her new home played in this disturbing murder?

Olivia’s effort to uncover the truth places her in the crosshairs of old and powerful forces, forces that have their own agenda, and closely guarded secrets they don’t want revealed.

The Good Stuff
  • Once again Kelley Armstrong proves that she is a born storyteller with the second installment of this unique series
  • Story is fast paces and fascinating. Enjoyed it even more than Omens
  • Sexy biker boy
  • Love Gabriel, even-though he is not the usual type of character I enjoy.  Great background information on him in this installment.  He really grows on you as Amrstrong gives you more little tidbits about him
  • It has fey aspects and I still enjoy it -  see the power of a born storyteller is that they keep you hooked even if it isn't your type of thing.  Only one other author can get me reading Fey stories and that is also a Canadian author by the name of Lesley Livingston
  • Love Rose - sorta wish she was real
  • Loved the dark humour
  • The relationship between Olivia and Gabriel and their dialogue is positively brilliant at times
  • A few questions were answered but it led to more questions which leaves you happy, yet intrigued about what is going to happen next
  • Didn't figure out a major plot point ahead of time, so I gasped a little
  • Love how strong Olivia is (eventhough she did the odd stupid thing).  Armstrong also has a gift for creating strong women.  Hmm wonder what Kelley Armstrong and Joss Whedon could do together

The Not So Good Stuff
  • How long do I have to wait till the next book comes out

Favorite Quotes/Passages

"Gabriel discourages emotional attachments the way most of us discourage door-to-door salesmen."

"And I was still dressed in only my bra and panties.
Well, at least it's a nice set of bra and panties.
Yep, these were the thoughts going through my brain as i looked at a  photo of a decapitated head on my bed.' 

"I've spent my life feeling like a cuckoo raised by robins. I grew up pretending to fit into my mother's world, and the whole time I felt suffocated. Then I went to Cainsville, and everything changed. I met people who know who i am and don't give a shit. Who don't expect me to be anything other than what I am."

"How do you have a personal relationship with someone who thinks that way? You just do. You accept it, and you understand it, and you don't take offense, because none is intended. You read actions and ignore words."

5 Dewey's

I received this from RandomHouse in exchange for an honest review

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

HarperCollins Fall Book Preview

As I have mentioned before one of the best benefits of working for Chapter's (Indigo) is that we get to attend presentations from publishers on their Fall Picks.

The highlight of these for me are the HarperCollins Fall Presentations.  I not only get to hear about some exciting new books, I also get to see two of my favorite people in the publishing industry, Cory and Shannon.

The presentation was informative, inspiring and funny.  Which is totally impressive since Cory had been in Ireland the night before, and Shannon had been awake since 2am.  HarperCollins bosses, these are two dedicated employees, I'm thinking big raises.  Oh yeah and extremely helpful as
I can't and don't want to read every book out there.  And I want to be able to help each and every one of my customers to get the right book for them.

They also brought in the talented author Thomas King to talk to us and we each received a copy of his latest novel, The Back of the Turtle and SIGNED each of our copies.  He was extremely charming, witty and now I totally need to read everything by him now.  Also Mr King, I would really like to read a story of what happened to that asshole that ran over the turtle.

Books I am most interested in reading

The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel
The Crazy Game by Clint Malarchuk
The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion
How to Build a Girl by Caitlan Moran
The Back of the Turtle by Thomas King
Once Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers
The Jewel by Amy Ewing
Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang
Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant
Doctor who: The Secret Lives of Monsters
Canada's Great War Album by Mark Collin Reid
The Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller
Lady Parts by Andrea Martin (Have been told on numerous occasions and even by Gordon Pinsent that I look like her)
Common Ground by Justin Trudeau
Yes Please by Amy Poehler

If you are interested in finding out more about HarperCollins and their books, here are some helpful links.  Also if you already haven't done so, join the 50 Book Pledge.

The Savvy Reader
50 Book Pledge
Twitter:  @savvyreader

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix

by Grady Hendrix
Quick Books (Random House)
ISBN: 978-1-59474-526-3
Buy from Indigo

Description: Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Columbus, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring wardrobes, shattered Brooka glassware, and vandalized Liripip sofa beds. Clearly, someone or something is up to no good.

To unravel the mystery, five young employees volunteer for a long dusk-till-dawn shift—and they encounter horrors that defy imagination. Along the way, author Grady Hendrix infuses sly social commentary on the nature of work in the new 21st century economy.

A traditional haunted house story in a contemporary setting (and full of current fears), Horrorstör comes conveniently packaged in the form of a retail catalog, complete with illustrations of ready-to-assemble furniture and other, more sinister accessories. We promise you’ve never seen anything quite like it

The Good Stuff
  • The man has obviously worked in retail. A store is the perfect setting for a horror story (trust me I would take the paranormal over a lululemon clad mommy in our kids department any day)
  • Great use of humour
  • Fabulous layout for the book and the Orsk Employee evaluations are priceless
  • Ruth Anne is awesome, to see why, check out the last quote in the quotes section of this review
  • Impressed with the character development of our protagonist Amy
  • Love the snarky bits regarding retail culture and big box stores. Trust me, you will enjoy this tale way more if you have worked retail. My co-workers and I at Chapters are constantly discussing the need for every child, before they graduate high school, must work 6 months in retail and 6 months in the food and beverage industry. Maybe then they will learn some manners and how to deal with people and just some plain common sense.  Some of the behavior I have seen during the many years I worked retail is just mind boggling.
  • Loved the ending!
  • Extremely creative presentation. I know I have mentioned this earlier, but this will be one I will be leaving out on my coffee table. (Ok maybe somewhere else, as cover may freak out my anxiety prone son)
  • Fast paced story, will keep you hooked right from the first paragraph, right to the very last ad (yes I said ad - even has coupons)
  • Could have been just a cutesy premise with fluff inside, but was very pleasantly surprised on how fabulous it was

The Not So Good Stuff
  • Could have been much moody and scarier. Felt the horror plot line could have been executed better.
  • Thoroughly enjoyed the presentation of the novel, but felt some of the added bits, could have been more tongue in cheek (but it still works very well, this is just a personal preference)
  • Used to have a dream of being locked up in a bookstore overnight, now I am soo not into it, Damn you Mr Hendrix
  • Also used to think the set up of Ikea stores were innocent and helpful, now not so much. Won't be stepping into an Ikea in the near future.

Favorite Quotes/Passages

"There's nothing waiting inside but retail slavery, endless exploitation, and personal subjugation to the whims of our corporate overlords."

"People don't just come here just to shop. Some of them think this is their living room, only with maid service. And you're the maid. They act like pigs, and you have to pick up after them. Dirty diapers are just the start."

"No, you've talked plenty tonight. Now it's time for you to listen. The last time I checked you were twenty-four years old. Thirteen and angry is a long way back in your rear-view mirror. You need to buckle up because it is time to toe the line and act like a grown-up women. You don't want to go out on the floor? Tough titty, said the kitty. I don't want to go on the floor, either, but having a job is all about doing things you don't want to do. That's why they pay you money for it. Life doesn't care what you want. All that matters is what you do. And right now, what you're going to do is stand shoulder to shoulder with me and march out that door, find our friends, and help them deal with this situation. Tomorrow you can do whatever the heck you want, but I am going to keep my job. So get up, put some pepper in your pants, and let's get moving."

4 Dewey's

I received this from Random House in exchange for an honest review

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Quick Getaway to Jasper

Thanks to my bestie Sarah, Jeff and I were able to take a quick getaway to Jasper.  We booked us a inexpensive hotel and took a nice and relaxed drive to Jasper.  It was a peaceful 5.5 hour drive, full of beautiful scenery, great conversation, fabulous tunes and best of all no fighting or children asking if we were there yet.  Just a few pics of our trip.

Damn these Glacier lakes are cold (Athabasca Falls)
Athabasca Falls

Columbia Icefields

Athabasca Falls
View from Jasper Gondola (No we could not afford it - but this is view from the entrance)
Jasper Park Lodge (totally could spend the day reading here)
Athabasca Glacier

Athabasca Falls
Elk Love (Finally some wildlife)

Maligne Canyon
Jeff at the bottom of the Athabasca Glacier
Pretty Mountain beside the Athabasca Glacier in the Columbia Icefields
Jasper Park Lodge

Maligne Canyon

Columbia Icefields I think

Bow Glacier
View from Entrance to Jasper Park Lodge
 Highlights and low-lights
  • Got totally ignored at De d Dog in Jasper - sat at a table for 20 minutes and no service, not even a - I'm busy or a I'm sorry - not impressed
  • Tonquin Inn - comfortable simple room - ok, the hairdryer almost exploded on me, but other than that - not bad.  Really just a simple clean room with comfy pillows and fluffy towels.  Nothing fancy but it did the trick. Oh yeah and the free breakfast the next morning was fresh and tasty.
  • Jasper Brewing Company - Good food, good service but really tiny cutlery (not a bad thing, but it did make us giggle)
  • Overcast so did not get to see the beautiful night sky or Northern Lights
  • Bears  Paw Bakery - long line up but totally worth the wait. Jeff and I snacked on treats all the way home to Calgary. Yup Sunday Lunch and Dinner consisted of us sharing the following: Nanaimo Bar, Raspberry Coconut Bar, Cherry Danish and a Raspberry White Chocolate Scone (ok and a Timmies in Banff)
  • The ride from Banff to Jasper and back was truly spectacular
  • Cannot believe the price of the Gondola in Jasper and the Glacier Skywalk - we couldn't afford either
  • If you head to Jasper - it really is the natural beauty that is the draw.  If you are looking for unique shopping, go elsewhere. Most of the shops were touristy and tacky. Banff would be much better for this sort of thing. But if you want to see raw, spectacular beauty -  this is the place to go.  I was speechless at times with the stunning sights.  Mother Nature, you did some fine work here
  • Really wish I had a better income, because if I did, I would soooo stay at the Jasper Park Lodge. Truly a spectacular looking resort. Honestly, the staff accommodations would even do
  • Canadian Wildlife where are you hiding - still no Wolf, Grizzly or Moose sightings (this is an inside joke) and do not get me started on the lack of Ottesr

Penguin Random House Canada Fall 2014 Preview

One of the benefits of working for Chapters (Indigo) is I get to attend publisher book previews.  This month it was the Penguin Random House Canada Fall 2014 Preview. Unfortunately, I had bus issues and ended up being late for the event.  Jen and Charidy did a fabulous job of getting me excited about some new and upcoming books. They also showed us some books that I know, that even though they are not my cup of tea, many of our customers will enjoy.  This type of information is invaluable for being able to help our customers

Here are some of the books that they discussed that I look forward to reading. 

Visions by Kelley Armstrong (one of my favorite authors)
The Secret Place by Tana French (Intriguing Mystery)
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters (you had me at ghost)
I'll Drink to That by Betty Halbreich (Fashion and gossip)
Walking Home by Eric Walters (beautiful story and good charity)
More Fool Me by Stephen Fry (Yeah Stephen Fry - that is all you need to know)
How We Got to Now  by Steven Johnson (sounds fascinating)
The Book With No Pictures by BJ Novak (cannot wait to see)
Choose Your Own Biography by Neil Patrick Harris (really, you wonder why its NPH)
Tell Everyone by Alfred Hermida (Intriguing and makes you think)
Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan (sounds hilarious)
Mr. Mac and Me by Esther Freud (once again you said ghost, I am in)
The Secret Life of Squirrels by Nancy Rose (picture book with squirrels in cute poses, need I say more)

We got a lovely bag including the books

Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper
The Jaguar's Children by John Vaillant
If I Fall, If I die by Michael Christie
Some cute litle swag including some Margerat Atwood buttons that I know Chelsea will love

Best thing was I won a copy of Alan Doyle's Biography and his solo debut - cannot wait to crack it open.  Thinking of reading it while listening to his CD and sipping on some screech LOL!

Thanks Jen and Charidy for a fun and informative evening.  After reading I promise to send you a link to my reviewss

The Swallow by Chris Cotter

The Swallow
by Chris Cotter
Tundra (Penguin Random House)
ISBN: 9781770495937
Buy from Indigo
Suggested Ages: 9-12 (and old moms too)

Description: In 1960s Toronto, two girls retreat to their attics to escape the loneliness and isolation of their lives. Polly lives in a house bursting at the seams with people, while Rose is often left alone by her busy parents. Polly is a down-to-earth dreamer with a wild imagination and an obsession with ghosts; Rose is a quiet, ethereal waif with a sharp tongue. Despite their differences, both girls spend their days feeling invisible and seek solace in books and the cozy confines of their respective attics. But soon they discover they aren't alone--they're actually neighbors, sharing a wall. They develop an unlikely friendship, and Polly is ecstatic to learn that Rose can actually see and talk to ghosts. Maybe she will finally see one too! But is there more to Rose than it seems? Why does no one ever talk to her? And why does she look so... ghostly? When the girls find a tombstone with Rose's name on it in the cemetery and encounter an angry spirit in her house who seems intent on hurting Polly, they have to unravel the mystery of Rose and her strange family... before it's too late.

The Good Stuff
  • Intriguing opening chapter. Hooks you in and doesn't let you go
  • Felt for Polly as my Dad was very much a do-gooder. I remember the conflicted feelings about wanting him to be there for me and feeling angry at him for spending so much time helping others while trying to understand his need to help others less fortunate than us.  Miss you Dad
  • The relationship between Rose and Polly was so real and honest
  • Love the description of the library and the more realistic Librarian character
  • Love the inclusion of some Toronto landscapes, made me think of home which also gave it a special meaning to me (for those who don't know I am an Ontario girl living in Alberta)
  • The discussion between Rose and her Dad was so magically written
  • Made me bawl my eyes out and the last page was just so beautiful
  • Beautifully written will appeal to the mature 9-12 reader as well as with adults
  • Moody and Haunting with a fabulous twist that the younger ones probably won't see coming. Even kept this 44 year old mom guessing.
  • Highly recommend, this one will be getting my Staff Pick approval and have passed it on to my co-worker Jen, who I think will enjoy as well
  • Beautiful expression of friendship

The Not So Good Stuff
  • Point of view jumps very quickly
  • Moody realistic setting may be too much for the younger less mature reader.  But I could totally be wrong - each child is so unique

Favorite Quotes

"My Parents want to save the world, and they're doing it one unwanted kid at a time."

"That's what mother's do, don't they? Love their kids no matter what."

"But that's why I liked her. She didn't know what might be lurking in the dark but she jumped in anyway, and she actually believed she could make a difference."

"I wanted you to grow up in a happy house. But now it looks like I've made the same sort of family I came from, with things not talked about, and everyone keeping to themselves."

"You keep running away from all the poor ghosts who need your help. It would be easy for you to help them, and you just turn your back."

4.75/5 Dewey's

I received this from Random House in exchange for an honest review

Monday, October 6, 2014

Fall Catwalk Beauty Trends 2014 with Dave Lackie and Nina Westbury

Thanks to twitter I was able to score some tickets to Dave Lackie's Fall Beauty Event at The Chinook Mall  in Calgary.  Dave is the senior beauty editor of BEAUTY the guide and regular guest on Cityline.  As a former Ontario native I attended Cityline on a regular basis and am a regular viewer. Dave, along with top U.K. makeup artist Nina Westbury, gave a fabulous presentation on the latest trends in beauty and makeup for fall.  The presentation was informative and fun. It felt very personal,  like hanging and gossiping with you best friend.

Nina and Dave
 After the presentation they sent us over to get a fabulous gift bag that was filled to the brim.  I thought the presentation was outstanding, but they hit it out of the ballpark with the gift back. 

Look at it all!
 The best part of the event was chatting with Dave and Nina afterwards.  Nina was amazing and gave us all sorts of advice and beauty tips. I could have just spent the whole day learning every little trick on how to look your best from Nina.  She was delightful, honest and absolutely hilarious  I felt bad as I was almost stalking her so I could learn more.

Sarah, Dave Lackie and Me
 Brought my awesome friend Sarah with me and we had a fun time sampling treats and checking out all the new beauty products available at the Bay

Oh yeah, and Nina, don't forget to call me if you ever get to work with Tennant again.   I will be on the first plane and will ply you with treats for a chance to be near him. And I am sooo in love with the Dior art pen, makes doing my eyeliner so much simpler.

Look at all the pretty treats we got.

Nina recommended the Diorshow Art Pen & look what I got with it!
Dave recommended the oil from Philosophy for my dry skin and wow look what I got as a bonus
I highly recommend you follow Nina and Dave on Twitter.  As well here is a link to BEAUTY

Nina's Website
Dave's Website