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review 2021-03-04 22:19
Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery
Anne of the Island and Tales of Avonlea - L.M. Montgomery
Each Anne Shirley story is better than the last! You see growth, you root for her with her schooling, and you so want her to decide on Gilbert!
This story always makes me smile, and this is probably the tenth time I've read it. Anne really finds herself in this book. All of her friends are settling down, and in that time it was naturally expected at a certain age. She was of that age and eyes were on her to find someone. 
The ending is my favorite part. I am a sucker for sappy love!
Since I have not read further on in the series, I look forward to reading the next book sometime soon!
Source: www.fredasvoice.com/2021/03/anne-of-island-by-lm-montgomery-9.html
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review 2016-11-09 00:45
Optimal You - A Review

OPTIMAL YOU by Christine Gingerich

Ms. Gingerich was the keynote speaker at an event that I was intending.  Hearing her speak about her personal journey to a healthier and happier lifestyle ensured that I wanted to pick up this book.  Ms. Gingerich grew up on a farm where the table was laden with fresh produce from their garden and meat they raised.  Sounds perfect.  The downside was that they also enjoyed sweets, particularly pies.  Her first job at a chocolate factory didn’t help her battle her sweet tooth.  While in high school she was athletic so was able to burn off the calories but come university she went way past the “freshman fifteen”.  Having tried “every diet on the market” without significant, long lasting results she looked at herself in the mirror one day and decided that she had to get her life and eating habits under control.
The result?
Years of studying nutrition, obtaining a degree in physical education and coaching others to cope with their own need for lifestyle changes. 
Yes, technically this is a cook book but it is also so much more.  “Optimal You” is chock full of information, both motivational and educational.  It is broken down into easy to follow sections which are helpful in starting your own personal journey towards a better lifestyle.  I thought the “Overcoming Hurdles” and “The Optimal Kitchen” sections were especially helpful.  Often we know what needs to be done but seeing it in writing explaining the “why” is the extra little push one needs to actually make the changes. 
So, on to the recipes. 
All the recipes in the book are made with fresh, natural ingredients that are not difficult to find, something that is important to me.  They are written in an easy to follow manner and accompanied by beautiful full color pictures.  Also important to me as a reader is that the recipes were food items that I would prepare anyway – just healthier versions. These include wonderful appetizers and main dishes as well as (I would be remiss not to mention them) soups and salads.  Appropriately, the luncheon at the event featured items from “Optimal You” and feedback later was unanimous that everyone had enjoyed their meal with her Squash Soup getting special kudos.  There is an “Apple Fritter Pancake” recipe that I want to try for our next special family Sunday Brunch.
All the recipes are easily distinguishable as “gluten free”, “egg free”, “wheat free” and “dairy free” with small colorful icons.
At the risk of repeating myself there is so much more included than the recipes.  Ms. Gingerich includes health saving tips, time saving tips and I particularly enjoyed the “Notable Quotes” that she interspersed throughout the book.  I have to admit to getting home and flipping through the book just to read those first.  The first notable quote belongs to Ms. Gingerich:
“Every moment of every day you make choices.
These choices help to form habits that collectively create your own lifestyle.
Your lifestyle ultimately determines the quality of your life.”
When I purchased her book she graciously signed it for me.  Meeting her in person, I can honestly say that she is the best advertisement for this book.  Not to embarrass her but – her hair was shiny, her skin was glowing and she was slim and fit … if that’s what Optimal You can do for a person count me in!
A few sample recipes and a meal planner can be found on her website www.optimalyou.ca.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her website)
Christine was raised on a farm outside of Stratford, Ontario where she grew to appreciate country living, natural wholesome foods and hard work. Even at a young age she had an insatiable desire for alternative medicine and preventative natural healing. Sadly, at a young age, she also developed a “sweet tooth,” and in her late teen years, found herself struggling with weight issues.
Having received her degree in Physical Education from Wilfrid Laurier University, in Waterloo, ON, Christine understood the basic essentials for good health. She began to change her diet and started a walking program. Her extra weight started to slowly melt away. She then began working in the health industry as a personal trainer and aerobics instructor, training in a variety of facilities and coaching a large clientele. After completing her Bachelor of Education in 1995 Christine joined the Waterloo District School Board as an elementary teacher.
In 2004 she conjoined her teaching and coaching skills from the classroom with her passion for natural healing, launching her personal coaching business, Optimal YOU. 
Christine was a writer for the former Open Magazine and has recently published her first book, Optimal YOU: Great-Tasting Recipes & Powerful Lifestyle Strategies to Achieve Optimal Health. Her two-part "LifeStyle Coaching" episode aired on Grand River Living, a magazine-style show on Roger's cable television.
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review 2016-03-16 19:23
The Night Bell - A Review

THE NIGHT BELL by Inger Ash Wolfe

When the night bell tinkled over the back door at the Dublin Home the sleeping boys hid under their blankets and tried not too breath too deeply for fear of attracting the attention of Old Father Crumb.  He came often, always announced by the gentle ringing of the bell hanging over the back door, to collect one or another of the boys living in the orphanage.  Those taken were never seen again.
Could the boogeyman these young lads imagined be real?  There had definitely been something going on at Dublin Home in the 1950’s that no one wanted to talk about and when bone fragments started turning up in the freshly turned soil of a new subdivision it became a puzzle for the 2015 police to solve.  Hazel Micallef didn’t believe in the boogeyman, but her 40 years with the Port Dundas OPS had confirmed that there were certainly evil men – even in her little corner of Northern Ontario.  After the discovery things take a turn for the worse when residents of the new subdivision are getting murdered.  Hazel suspects the two incidents are related.
Hazel doesn’t take kindly to the fact that the RCMP are taking over “her” case so when she is ordered to stand down on the murder investigation she and Detective James Wingate (on limited duty since he is still recuperating from the incidents in the last book, “A Door in the River”) decide to investigate a little bit more about the bones.  Little did Hazel know that the case would take her down memory lane to when she was 15 years old and her friend mysteriously disappeared.
This is the fourth installment in the Hazel Micallef series and I have enjoyed every one of them.  The danger that comes with being invested in a book series is that the stories start to become a little “cookie cutter”.  Not so in this case.  I think “The Night Bell” is the best to date.  Wolfe weaves a page turning mystery intricately with enough character growth to keep the books fresh.  Even in a book in which the main plot idea has been done many times before, he finds twists and turns to make one want to continue reading (voraciously) until the very last page.
In the mystery/thriller world of books where ex-army, special ops and damaged cops rule the pages Hazel is a welcome, refreshing and very entertaining change.  In her early 60’s Hazel is a small town career cop, divorced and living with her ex-mayor mother who is suffering from the early signs of dementia.  She sounds like the hobbyist sleuth in a “cozy mystery” but these books are far from that … plenty of blood, guts and nail-biting suspense to hold the attention of any fan of the genre.
“The Night Bell” could be read as a stand-alone novel despite some mentions of things that have transpired in previous books, but since it’s only the fourth in the series I would suggest starting with the first book, “The Calling”  to get Hazel’s whole story.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from The National Post)
Who is Inger Ash Wolfe?
This was the question asked in March 2008, when a novel entitled The Calling was released by McClelland & Stewart. It was one of the most heavily hyped books of the spring season, not only due to its disturbing subject matter — a detective named Hazel Micallef finds herself on the trail of a serial killer targeting the terminally ill — but because of the secrecy surrounding the author. Wolfe was promoted as “the pseudonym of a well-known and well-regarded North American literary writer.”
Immediately, the hunt was on. Michael Redhill was an early suspect. Linda Spalding was a possibility, too. In Maclean’s, literary journalist and critic Sarah Weinman concluded that Wolfe was none other than Jane Urquhart. Eventually, the buzz settled down and the identity of Wolfe seemed destined to remain an unsolved literary mystery. But in aGlobe and Mail essay published late last month, as Wolfe’s third novel, A Door in the River, arrived in stores, readers finally learned the truth.
“I’m relieved that it’s over with,” says Wolfe, better known as Michael Redhill, sitting in the backyard of the east-end Toronto home he shares with his partner and two children.
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review 2016-03-14 19:02
Safe as Houses - A Review

SAFE AS HOUSES by Susan Glickman

Recently I’ve traveled to Iceland, Victorian England, the no-too-distant-future New York City and a small town in Virginia – all without leaving my house.  That’s part of the adventure of reading.  But sometimes it’s a treat to stay closer to home so I like to pick up a book that takes place in a familiar city and neighborhood.  Such was the case with “Safe as Houses”, set in the Hillcrest Village area of Toronto.  Hillcrest Village is a well-established neighborhood of larger homes, high real estate values and few “For Sale” signs.  The streets are quiet, tree lined and the area overlooks the Davenport Escarpment.  It has it's own little "downtown" with storefront shops and outside seating areas (weather permitting - not always a given in Southern Ontario) for coffee and snacks.  It is a neighborhood that can boast of old Toronto style and new Toronto fun.
Ms. Glickman stays true to the personality of the neighborhood in this book and uses the setting very well as the backdrop to her mystery.
Liz Ryerson’s life is a bit complicated.  She lives in a large home in Hillcrest Village with her two teenage children; a son she indulges and a daughter just entering the rebellious stage that involves boys and parties.  She and her children live on the main floor of her converted house while her ex-husband and his latest girlfriend share the top floor.  Unconventional to say the least, but it has to work because otherwise Liz could never afford to stay in the house she loves.  Sometimes the only moments of quiet she gets are in her bookstore, which occupies the street level of the house, or walking her dog through the nearby park.  It is on one such walk by the park’s duck pond that Liz’s dog unearths the remains of a man, a real estate agent Liz knows by reputation only.
Despite being traumatized discovering the body she is shocked that something like this could occur in "her" park at "her" duck pond and in "her" own neighborhood.  Suddenly she no longer feels safe in her own home.  The police are doing what they can but Liz feels the investigation is going too slowly.  Having recently befriended an elderly widower with too much time on his hands and an inquisitive nature, Liz finds herself taking on an investigation of her own.
This sounded like the type of book that I might start on a Sunday morning with my coffee and not want to put down until I finished it (That’s what Sundays are for – right?).  That was, unfortunately, not the case with “Safe as Houses”.  I often found my mind wandering.  The book is well-written and the story was engaging, but where I was expecting a riveting murder mystery this was more of a study of Liz Ryerson’s life with a side serving of murder.  I read entirely too much of her problems with her daughter’s new boyfriend, the awkwardness of having her ex-husband co-habitat one floor up and the difficulty of keeping the bookstore afloat.  Not boring … just not what I was expecting.
I very much enjoyed the Toronto setting and the short trip to northern Ontario Ms. Glickman included but, as I said, it was not quite the story I was expecting from the book’s description.  Still a solid three-star read, I would not hesitate to recommend this book to fans of a cozy mystery (as opposed to a mystery-thriller). 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from the book cover)
Susan Glickman is a novelist, poet, critic, and teacher.  Her previous fiction includes “The Violin Lover” and “The Tale-Teller”.  She lives in Toronto, where she teaches creative writing at Ryerson University and the University of Toronto.
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review 2016-01-15 19:50
Smoke - A Review

SMOKE by Catherine McKenzie

Beth used to fight forest fires.  She left that vocation in order to concentrate on her marriage and to focus on trying for the baby she and her husband so desperately want.  The baby that she hopes may save their marriage.  Things don’t go quite as planned and on the eve of discussing the possibility of divorce a forest fire erupts on the outskirts of town.  Instantly, she is drawn back into the excitement she, admittedly, has missed.  This fire might not only destroy her home but her marriage as well.  When all is said and done, will anything good be able to rise out of the ashes?
I am a bit ambivalent about this book.  While the story is good – I did enjoy reading about the forest fire and the tools used to fight it as well as the stress both the fire and the investigation surrounding it had on the inhabitants of the town.  However, it seemed to be lacking the page-turning excitement I thought it might have.  With an out-of-control forest fire raging all around them I found it a little difficult to believe that a town would go ahead with an annual fund-raising dance?  Add to that the fact that for the most part I didn’t really care for the character of Beth I wasn’t drawn into this book as much as I had hoped I would be.
The action did pick up in the last third of the book, but it was not until that point that I began to care about what happened to this town and its inhabitants.  Two-thirds is a lot of book to read through before things become captivating.
All that being said I think I went into this book with the wrong idea about the story.  I was anticipating a little more fire-fighting.  Someone else reading this without that mistaken preconception will probably enjoy the whole book rather than just, as I did, the last third.  The book was certainly well written and I would not hesitate to pick up another book by Ms. McKenzie.  I would just make certain I was more clear on the subject matter.
I received this book at no charge from the publisher, Lake Union Publishing, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her website)
A graduate of McGill University in History and Law, Catherine practises law in Montreal, where she was born and raised. Catherine's novels, SPIN, ARRANGED, FORGOTTEN and HIDDEN, are all international bestsellers and have been translated into numerous languages, including French, German, Portuguese, Polish, Turkish, Slovakian and Czech. HIDDEN was also a #1 Amazon bestseller and a Digital Bookworld bestseller for five weeks. She has also published a novella, SPUN, which is a sequel to SPIN.
ARRANGED has been optioned for film, and SPIN has been optioned for a television series. A short film of ARRANGED was made in 2014 and won a Canadian National Screen Institute Award. Catherine was on set while they filmed it. It was one of the cooler experiences of her life.
Catherine’s fifth novel, SMOKE, will be published by Lake Union on October 20, 2015. She is currently at work on her sixth novel, which is expected to be published in 2016.
An avid skier and runner, Catherine climbed the Grand Teton in 2014.

And if you want to know how she has time to do all that, the answer is: robots.

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