Saturday, December 9, 2017

Review: Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney

Lillian Boxfish Takes a WalkLillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Once in a while, I come across a book which changes my perspective and triggers soul-searching thoughts about my life or future. Lillian Boxfish takes a walk is one of these books. The story is about Lillian, a witty octogenarian, on the eve of the 1985 new year. Lillian's new year plans are derailed by a box of Oreo cookies and she finds herself walking all over New York City, her favorite town, and reminisces about her grand life. She will make unscheduled visits to places, she will meet interesting people and will encounter thrilling surprises. All in all, I just love how Lillian handles all situations. I hope I will be as witty as her in my 80's. This is a great read. The book is well written and the characters are fantastic. If you are looking for something a bit out of the ordinary, this book is for you.

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Review: Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks

Uncommon Type: Some StoriesUncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I listen to this book because it is narrated by the author. Who would not love to have a book read by Tom Hanks?!?! Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks is a collection of short stories which have a common element: the typewriter. The writing is clever and intelligent. I had a few laughs and not a boring moment. This is a fast and fun book. Get the audio version and let Tom tell you his stories. Looking forward to more stories in the future.

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Review: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

A Gentleman in MoscowA Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is by far one of the best books I read this year. The story, the characters and the location could have not been better suited. I am in awe of Amory Towles' fantastic writing talent and how he has delivered, in my opinion, a book which will be read for generations. I am sad that I am done reading this marvelous story, but the impression it made on my soul will last a life time. I recommend this book wholeheartedly.

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Friday, November 17, 2017

Review: The Rules of Magic

The Rules of Magic The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from Simon & Schuster Canada via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Rules of Magic is the story of three siblings whose family has been cursed by an ancestor. The Owens are witches and warlocks and they have been forbidden to fall in love. If they do, the person they love will die. The story follows the three siblings from their early teens to their adulthood. They will all fall in love. One will see the curse first hand. One will die to trick the curse. One will live to trick the curse.

At first, I thought this book was written for young adults, but as I progressed in the story, I realized adults would enjoy it too. Alice Hoffman addresses many 60's taboos in this book and injects historical factoids here and there to keep the story grounded. This is the prequel to Practical Magic published in 1995. I am off to read this book next to know how the story goes.

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Review: Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker

Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker by Gregory Maguire
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Are you a fan of Brothers Grimm and E. T. A. Hoffmann stories? If you are, you will like this book. Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker is a beautiful and often sad story of Dirk Drosselmeier's life. As a child, Dirk dies and visits an enchanted forest. The great god Pan gives him a second chance and returns Dirk to life with the mission to find a home for the enchanted forest. This purpose is quickly put far aside as Dirk grows up and learns to navigate the world in all his naivety. Eventually, he becomes the godfather of Klara, the grand-daughter of his best friend Felix. On a Christmas Eve, Dirk gives a Nutcracker to Klara to protect her from the seven-head king mouse. If you know the Nutcracker story, you know what happened.

This book explains the origin of the Nutcracker, but, in my opinion, the true story is about Dirk fulfilling his purpose and giving a home to the enchanted forest at last.

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Monday, October 30, 2017

Review: Truly Madly Guilty

Truly Madly Guilty Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Truly Madly Guilty" was a rollercoaster from start to end. This is the story of how a tragic event can have stressful repercussions on the lives of friends, family, and neighbours. Liane Moriarty spins a complex story into a beautiful tapestry of anger, jealousy, denial, accusations, and, eventually, forgiveness. The story moves back and forth in time and depicts the way everyone who attended a BBQ is dealing with the conflicting emotions that follow a shocking event. Relationships will be tested and everyone will try to find redemption for their involvement in this incident. Great read!

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Review: Finale

Finale Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I started this series years and years ago. I had only one book left to read and I finally decided to suck it up and read it. I have a rule to read all the books in a series no matter what. This series was a bori... challenging read. This is the story of Nora, a Nephilim, and Patch, a Fallen Angel. Nora is now the leader of the Nephilim race and is faced with many challenges. There is a war brewing between the Nephilim and the Fallen Angels. Nora swore an oath to her father to lead the Nephilim to victory and she also swore an oath to the Archangels to stop the war. This is definitely a conundrum.

This series was too young for my taste and I am sure that a teenager would enjoy it more than me. Well... I am done with it and I can now move on. I am not recommending this series if you are younger than 14 years old.

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Monday, October 16, 2017

Review: The Boat Runner

The Boat Runner The Boat Runner by Devin Murphy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a moving WWII novel about Jacob, a young Dutch man, who struggles with losing the members of his family and his friends to a horrible war. The story starts in 1939, with two brothers from Holland who are sent to a Hitler Youth Camp in Germany and leads to one to die and the other to join the German army out of anger.

This is also a story of redemption as Jacob's uncle reaches out to him and brings him back on the righteous path. Jacob eventually finds his purpose and brings good to this dreadful wartime. The page turning story is well structured and the writing is beautiful. Another great book for readers who enjoys historical novels.

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Review: Crooked Heart

Crooked Heart Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I forgot I had this book and came across it last week. This is the story of Noel, a 10-year-old orphan boy, which takes place in London during the WWII. Noel is living with his guardian who is suffering from dementia. After her death, Noel moves with an uncle and aunt's house and eventually is evacuated to St Albans during the Blitz on London. Vera will cunningly welcome him in her home and this is where the story really begins. This is a beautiful, moving and funny at times story. I recommend it to all readers who enjoy a good historical novel. You will love it.

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Review: Reincarnation Blues

Reincarnation Blues Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Imagine you are given 10,000 chances to achieve perfection. Most people would not need this number of attempts. But, what if you tried 9,995 times and you are told that if you fail in reaching perfection in the remaining five times, your soul will be thrown into oblivion. This is what happened to Milo, a man who lived 9,995 lives and is now facing the end of all ends if he does not reach perfection in the next 5 lives. Milo is not alone in his journey; Suzie (a.k.a. Death), his beautiful lover, also seeks ways to help him achieve perfection and be together forever more. "Reincarnation Blues" is a unique and creative story filled with humour and thought-provoking passages. This is one of my favorite books for 2017.

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Sunday, September 10, 2017

Review: The Baker's Secret

The Baker's Secret The Baker's Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Baker's Secret is a story of courage, ingenuity, and resistance in a time of war. The story takes place at the end of World War II in a small village in Normandie, France. Emmanuelle, a young baker, witnesses the oppression of the Nazis who are occupying her village and comes up with creative ways to help her fellow villagers. She will risk much and will lose much. Stephen P. Kiernan did not embellish the story and showed the true colours of the cruelty that took place under the Nazis’ oppression in France. This story shows that not all heroes come in army suits. There are the unsung heroes who sacrificed and risked much to save their fellow country men and women. Emmanuelle’s story will move you.

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Friday, September 8, 2017

Review: Hello, Sunshine

Hello, Sunshine Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Would you believe if I told you that I read this book because Hugh Jackman recommended it? Yup, I totally did and I have no regrets! It is a fantastic read. It has the same flavour as the movie "Sweet Home Alabama". "Hello, Sunshine" is the story of Sunshine Mackenzie, a host of an internet culinary show, who, at the top of her success, loses everything in one day. She returns to her childhood home to face the consequences of her actions and slowly rebuild her life piece by piece. This is a fast and light read! Get in your favourite chair and surround yourself with your softest blanket during these cool days and let this book warm your heart.

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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Review: Commonwealth

Commonwealth Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It took me a while to get into this book and I am glad I continued to read. Commonwealth is a story of broken families, mixed siblings and the heartaches of losing people you love. Ann Patchett's writing is extraordinary and intelligent. The characters are complex and each unique in his or her own right. A common thread unifies them. Pain and sorrow gather around them, giving strength to some and breaking others. This is not a book of actions; it is a book of reactions. Maybe it is not for everyone, but if you like books that make you think, I encourage you to give it a try.

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Friday, September 1, 2017

Review: The Mason Jar Cookbook: 80 Healthy and Portable Meals

The Mason Jar Cookbook: 80 Healthy and Portable Meals The Mason Jar Cookbook: 80 Healthy and Portable Meals by Amy Fazio
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was always very intrigued when I saw someone with their full lunch in a Mason Jar. It always looked so pretty and healthy. This book by Amy Fazio is filled with awesome recipes for portable meals. The recipes are easy, healthy and yummy.

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Review: Young Jane Young

Young Jane Young Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from Penguin Random House Canada and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Young Jane Young is the story of Aviva Grossman whose past changed her future. As a young woman, she had an affair with a married congressman which became public and ruined her life. Aviva was marked with a big "A" and had very little hope for the future. While watching "The Wedding Planner", she realizes that her only chance to succeed in life is to become someone else. Becoming Jane Young brings her out of the public eye, but her past is always threatening to surface and she has a daughter to protect.

This is the second book by Gabrielle Zevin I have the pleasure to read. Gabrielle Zevin's writing style is light and educated. Young Jane Young was a quick and entertaining read. The relationship between Aviva and her daughter was a bit cliché and unrealistic at times. Otherwise, I really enjoyed the characters and the plot. The ending was great.

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Review: The Night Child

The Night Child The Night Child by Anna Quinn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from Blackstone Publishing and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The Night Child will be available at your local bookstore on January 30, 2018.

When I read the book synopsis I imagined the story to be something totally different. I expected something to do with the supernatural and it is definitely not that. I was drawn in from the first few pages and had a hard time to put the book down. The story deals with emotions buried deep and surfacing when you least expect it. Anna Quinn dealt with a difficult subject without making it taboo. I wish the book was longer and that it would reveal what happened to Nora after the last words. I felt that I was let down not knowing. It is still a great book and worth reading.

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Friday, July 28, 2017

Review: Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the latest novel of one of my favourite authors, Beatriz Williams. Cocoa Beach is an exciting read and not her usual style. The story takes place between 1919 and 1922 and is mostly set at Cocoa Beach, Florida. It is the story of Virginia Fortescue and Simon Fitzwilliam. Virginia is an American who joins the Red Cross during WWI. While in France, she meets Simon who is a British army surgeon. Simon pursues Virgina with determination, but his past looms over him and could cost him everything... even his love for Virginia

This is an awesome summer reading!

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Review: A Hundred Summers

A Hundred Summers A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Beatriz Williams is one of my favourite authors. I love her historical novels. They are well researched and well written. "A Hundred Summers" spans between 1931 to 1944 and tells the story of Lily Dane and Nick Greenwald. It recounts their love, their loss and the family betrayal they had to endure. In the end, love wins and there is a happy ever after.

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Review: Beartown

Beartown Beartown by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received this book from Simon & Schuster via Netgalley in exchange for an honest opinion. Bear Town is a novel about Swedish hockey town which is on the brink of being selected to have a major sports facility constructed in their town. Their chance lays on the local hockey team winning the hockey tournament. On the day of the finals, one of the players is pulled off the team bus by the local police and accused of a major crime against the GM's young daughter. The team lose the finals and the town is on a witch hunt.

I have always been a hockey fan and was raised in a hockey town. My small 5000-people community has seen two of their young hockey players move on to the NHL. This is a rare feat. Beartown is an exciting read and will keep you guessing to the end.

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Monday, July 10, 2017

Review: The Mermaid's Daughter

The Mermaid's Daughter The Mermaid's Daughter by Ann Claycomb
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was intrigued by this book. Who would not like to know what happened to the little mermaid; not the one in the Disney movie, but the one Hans Christian Andersen wrote about? What if she did not kill herself and had a daughter who had a daughter who had a daughter and so forth and so on? What if the spell which cursed the little mermaid would be passed from one generation to the next? So many possibilities to make this sequel a great read. It turned out that the sequel was a good read, but not great. It fell flat when compared to the original book. The Prologue was its redeeming grace. I think I would have like to read the story from that starting point. The Mermaid's Daughter is still a good and interesting read.

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Friday, July 7, 2017

Review: The Little French Bistro

The Little French Bistro The Little French Bistro by Nina George
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the second novel by Nina George I read. I enjoyed the first book a lot and that it always harder on the second. You have expectations and if they are not met, you find yourself wondering how can an author not being able to write as good as a book as the first one you had the pleasure to read. The Little French Bistro started very well but then the story lost its flavour and tasted like leftovers eaten on too many consecutive days. The story could have ended earlier than it did. Instead of concentrating on the main character's indecisions, the author should have exploited the story potential of Marianne's gifts as she discovers them. It is still a good story about starting life at 60.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Review: The Other Einstein

The Other Einstein The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was very interesting. Although I know who is Albert Einstein as a great theoretical physicist who developed the theory of relativity; I do not know much about his personal life. This book is about his first wife, Mileva Marić.

Mileva was a Serbian physicist born in 1875. She studied at the Zürich's Polytechnic where she met Albert Einstein. She was the second woman to finish a full program of study at the Department of Mathematics and Physics. Mileva was brilliant. She and Albert fell in love and had a daughter out of wedlock. They eventually married and had two sons.

There is much debate on Mileva's contribution to Einstein's early work; particularly on the theory of relativity. There is no tangible proof of this except hints that can be found in Mileva and Albert's correspondence to each other.

True or not, this book is a great read and an insight into the life of two great minds and how things don't always go the way you want in life.



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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Review: I See You

I See You I See You by Clare Mackintosh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was soooo twisted!!! I did not see the end coming! A "tour de force" by Clare Macintosh! This book should be on everyone summer read! I am a creature of habits and now I am spooked to know that what happened in this book could happen in real life. My advice... always be aware of your surroundings and read this book!

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Monday, June 12, 2017

Review: The Little Prince

The Little Prince The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can read this book over and over again. One of the most beautiful books written in French. There are so many life lessons in this book and it is as relevant to me today as it was the first time I read it when I was a child.

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Review: Being a Dog: Following the Dog Into a World of Smell

Being a Dog: Following the Dog Into a World of Smell Being a Dog: Following the Dog Into a World of Smell by Alexandra Horowitz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Great insight on the power of a dog's nose. After reading this book, I have been noticing more how my dogs are using their noses and I am quite impressed with their nasal talents. As an example, they both know when there is a bunny rabbit under the deck or under the shed. Overall the book was interesting, however, it was slow at times and sometimes repetitive.

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Review: The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko

The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko by Scott Stambach
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is a surprisingly good book despite the difficult subject. I loved the story, the setting, the characters, and the outcome. Be ready to be touched, surprised and tickled. Loved it!

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Review: Silence Fallen

Silence Fallen Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love Mercy Thompson series of books. She never disappoints! If you have not read any of the 10 books... start with the first one first! :)

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Review: The Women in the Castle

The Women in the Castle The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"The Women in the Castle" is a historical novel about three German women during and after WWII. This is the story of Marianne von Lingenfels, an aristocrat, whose husband was a resistor and was executed in the failed July 20, 1944, attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Marianne makes a promise to her best friend, Connie, to find and protect the resistors' wives and the children in the event the plot would fail. After the war, Marianne locates Connie's son, Martin, and then his wife, Bonita. She also locates Ania and her two sons and brings them all to live with her in the Bavarian Castle owned by her husband's family. Although she continues to look for more survivors, she will only succeed to rescue these two women and their children.

This book shows the other side of the coin... the German side. It portraits how not all German believed and followed Hitler's ideologies and that many of them tried to stop this terrible war. It also portraits the challenges the German population endured after the war to rebuild their country and their lives.

This is a wonderful story of sin and redemption. A must read.

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Review: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Norse MythologyNorse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is an interesting book about Norse Mythology. After reading this book, I will never look at Thor and Loki the same way. I had a few "laugh-out-loud" moments and a few "shake my head" moments too. The Norse gods are no ordinary gods!

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Monday, May 1, 2017

Review: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first book in a new series by Laini Taylor. "Strange the Dreamer" is a YA novel about conquering adversity, fighting discrimination, knowing oneself and finding love. Lazlo Strange is an orphan who was raised by monks and, who through unusual circumstances, became a junior librarian. Strange has one passion and one aim in life. He needs to find out everything he can about Weep, a city which lost its name after a goddess ate it. His dream finally comes true when a group of warriors visits his city and recruits peculiar people to join them to come to the city of Weep to solve a serious problem. Lazlo is asked to join them and after many months of travel, he lays his eyes on the city of his dream. Weep is not what he expected and he is now facing his greatest challenges. Lazlo does not know his past and who he is. He will find the answers in Weep and this will not be a dream. Great start for this series.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Review: The Night Mark by Tiffany Reisz

The Night MarkThe Night Mark by Tiffany Reisz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nice story about time traveling and love. The writing is good and the characters are well defined. The historical aspect is interesting. Good book.

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Review: To Capture What We Cannot Keep by Beatrice Colin

To Capture What We Cannot KeepTo Capture What We Cannot Keep by Beatrice Colin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a beautiful book about Émile Nouguier and Caitriona Wallace's love story. Émile Nouguier was the engineer who designed the Eiffel Tower and managed its construction from 1887 to 1889. Caitriona Wallace was a widow who took on a chaperone assignment and travelled to France with her wealthy Scottish charges where she met Nouguier.

One of the things I enjoyed the most about this book, was the construction details of the tower. The engineering behind the erection of the tower is truly amazing.

The story contains cameos of famous historical characters such as Gustave Eiffel, Georges Seurat, and many more. This makes the story very entertaining. I recommend this book!

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Review: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch, #1)The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I won a copy of this book in a giveaway on Goodreads.com. This is a young adult book about Tea, a young girl who starts her training as a bone witch. The bone witch pulls her magic from the dark magic and has the ability to raise the dead. The story jumps between the beginning of her training and several years later as she is preparing to go to war. I enjoyed the story and the writing. The characters are well developed and interesting. This is a good start to the series.

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Monday, April 10, 2017

Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find ThemFantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the first book by J.K. Rowling I read. It is a dictionary of all fantastic beasts. It was interesting and sometimes humorous. I did not realize how many mystical beings there are. I am just glad no one will ever quiz me on it. Fun and fast read! Also... A Portion of the proceeds from this book will go to two charity groups: Comic Relief and Lumos.

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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Review: The Fire by Night by Teresa Messineo

The Fire by NightThe Fire by Night by Teresa Messineo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As Canada is remembering the battle at Vimy Ridge which happened 100 years ago, I have been reading more historical novels. This one is 5+ star book!!! This story is filled with emotions and pulls at the strings of your heart in an expected way. This is the story of two American nurse friends who both served in the WW2. One was sent to the Pacific war; the other to the war in Europe. Their stories will touch you and most likely move you. When I think of war nurses, I think of the old war movies which show them in a safe hospital far from the enemy lines, wearing impeccable uniforms and all looking like Paulette Goddard in "So Proudly We Hail!". This is not this kind of story. This is raw writing which shows fear, pain and loss. The book ends on a positive note without forgetting what happened to these two extraordinary women. I recommend it fully!


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Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Chronicles of a French Gardener --- Part 4

My plants are growing as expected, but because of the sun angle, they are started to lean and twist.


To help them stay straight, I used skewers.




I looked out my window yesterday and spotted something near where my garden will grow this summer.


I think he was doing a reconnaissance survey to see if he will be able to get to my vegetables this summer. 
Good luck bunny!


Friday, March 31, 2017

Review: Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

Carve the Mark (Carve the Mark, #1)Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Carve the Mark is the first book in the "Carve the Mark" new series by Veronica Roth. Veronica wrote the "Divergent" series which I enjoyed a lot. Carve the Mark has a "Divergent" flare while being somewhat different. I enjoyed the first book and will read the other books in the series. I was looking for something fresh but did not quite find it.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Review: I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

I Let You GoI Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book has more twists than the song by the Chubby Checker. It started slowly and ended with a bang... or more like a splash. This is a fantastic story and the characters are well developed and each has a story to tell. I did not see this coming. Well done!

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Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Chronicles of a French Gardener --- Part 3

My garden is growing well and it is now time to transplant the pods into larger pots. 

I know it is time because the roots are coming through the pods.

I use mostly Jiffy pots because I can transplant, plants and pots together in the garden in the Spring.

I buy rich black dirt as it it full of nutrients for the plants.

I fill up the pots to about half way.

I press the dirt in the centre and add a single pot. I am very careful not to damage the plant during this process. I fill the pot with more dirt and press to make sure the pod is well surrounded.

I put all the pots into a tray to gather the extra water when watering the plants and for ease of transportation.

I keep all the plants in a well lite area. Darren got me plastic shelf which fits perfectly all my trays.

More growth is expected and I will need to make sure that the plants are watered regularly.



Stay tuned for more! Happy gardening!