Books Bought and Mailbox Monday

My friend Cindy hosts this meme of books bought during the past week.

I bought several books on a shopping spree trip to Chapters last week. Cindy and I, along with my daughter, went to the bookstore to browse and enjoy a refreshment. A couple of hours later, I believe it was only my daughter who managed to come out unscathed. She shook her head at me sadly as I struggled, arms loaded with bags of books up the front steps to my house. Meanwhile, Cindy, who had kindly given us a lift to the store and dropped us off, was hard put to stop laughing as she watched from her car.

I also happened to be passing by another used bookstore in a couple of towns over and couldn't resist going in. Ok, and there's the local used bookstore too. So, these were my purchases:

From the local used bookstore:

  • A Harvest of Bones by Yasmine Galenorn
  • The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne (have always wanted to read this)

From the used bookstore a couple of towns over:

  • A Mind to Murder by P.D. James
  • Mistress of the Sun by Sandra Gulland
And from the shopping trip with Cindy:

  • The Vows of Silence by Susan Hill
  • Along Came a Spider by James Patterson
  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear
  • Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear
  • Interred with Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell

Along with these I bought a cookbook and several books for my husband. He's almost finished the Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell and I bought him the last two books.

This meme is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page and Kristi at The Story Siren.

I received just one book last week:

The Shimmer by David Morrell

Thanks to FSB Associates for sending me this book to review!


When I have the time, I love to cook and bake. Often during the week I'm tired when I come home from work and usually just put something quick in the oven. If I were more organized I'd try to prepare meals on the weekend for busy weeknights but that isn't always possible. But this morning I thought if I posted a recipe or two on Saturdays perhaps that would inspire me to make the time somehow so I thought I give it a try...starting with my favourite - a dessert recipe!

This is very quick and simple to make. I've had the recipe for quite a few years and didn't write down where I got it from. If anyone recognizes it, please let me know!

Butterscotch Pudding

1/3 to 1/2 cup (75 to 125 ml) brown sugar
2 tbsp (25 ml) water
1 tbsp (15 ml) butter
1 3/4 cup (425 ml) milk
2 egg yolks, beaten (optional)
3 tbsp (45 ml) cornstarch

1. In a 1 quart (1 L) glass measure or bowl, combine brown sugar, water and butter. Microwave at high (100%) for 2 minutes or until sauce is smooth, stirring once.

2. Stir in milk followed by the egg yolks and cornstarch; mix well until smooth.

3. Microwave uncovered at high for 2 minutes. Continue to microwave at high for 3 to 5 minutes more or until pudding comes to a boil and thickens, whisking well every minute. Refrigerate until cool. Serves 4.


1. The higher amount of brown sugar makes a sweeter pudding with a more intense butterscotch flavour.

This is the brown sugar, water and butter, microwaved.

Milk has been added to the mixture.

The proper consistency!

The pudding is ready to refrigerate! Cover with plastic wrap if you don't like skin to form on the top.

Tuesday Teasers

Tuesday Teasers is hosted by Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:

Grab your current read and let the book fall open to a random page. Share two sentences somewhere between lines 7 and 12 and the title of the book that you’re getting the teaser from. Please avoid spoilers! Read the official Tuesday Teaser Rules.

From page 66, Dead Men's Boots by Mike Carey (pic of the cover is just on the sidebar):

I lifted my glass for one last swig of beer, and changed my mind when I felt how close it now was to room temperature. "I said I knew Coldwood. That doesn't mean we're picking out curtains."

Technically that's three sentences but I think it's better than just the first two!

My friend Cindy hosts this meme of books bought during the past week.

I bought two books by Rhys Bowen:

I haven't read any of this author's books before, but they're mysteries and I love that genre. She has several series and that's a plus for me too.

The description from Amazon for Evan's Gate says:

Welsh constable Evan Evans has found the most delightful shepherd's cottage, but before he seals the deal, a five-year-old vanishes from a seaside caravan park--and he must consider all the suspects. But he can't help wondering if the abduction is related to the disappearance of another girl, twenty-five years ago. Now, as he and his fiancée try to build their dream house, he must also build a difficult case against a possible double murderer.

Amazon's description of For the Love of Mike:

A woman ahead of her time, Molly Murphy is determined to be a private detective. Having inherited the cases of her deceased mentor, Paddy Reilly, she's following philandering husbands, tracking down a runaway Dublin debutante, and working in a sweatshop to discover who's purloining dress designs. None of her jobs seem first. When a woman's body is fished out of the East River, Molly fears it's the missing society girl. Then Molly's sometime beau, police captain Daniel Sullivan, reveals that another corpse may be the girl's scalawag lover, Mike Kelly. But Molly has to know their identities for certain. Now as threads of passion and greed weave a tapestry of violence, Molly descends into the underworld of the gangs of New York. It's no place for a lady, and even a scrappy Irish lass may need more than her street smarts to get the truth...and get out alive.

Both books are parts of a series but different ones. They go into my 'cozy mystery TBR pile'!

Review: HOLLY'S INBOX by Holly Denham

Thank you to Cindy for passing this novel along to me!

This book is just what I needed this summer. I read it only in the evenings and it helped me drift off to a worry-free night of sleep. Not that it was boring – it was just such a light read.

Composed entirely of emails between Holly, a receptionist for a bank in London, and her co-workers, boyfriend, family and friends, this novel tells the story of how Holly came to be working where she does and what she likes and dislikes about it. It’s funny and occasionally sad and it’s the sort of book that one could put down for a couple of days and pick up again and have no problem continuing on.

I can only imagine that constructing this novel using e-mails was a lot more difficult than one would think. The author must have had a massive job keeping track of things throughout the book, and even though it may not have been any more difficult than writing a more traditional book, using e-mail as a tool must have made plot points quite disjointed. And at over 650 pages there’s a lot to keep track of for the writer. Mind you, emails take up much more room (considering the space used for subject headings and e-mail separations) than a regular novel. This is not a complaint, however, since for me epistolary type books are enjoyable.

I don’t read a lot of chick-lit but occasionally I come across a Holly’s Inbox and realize I’m missing an entire genre that I enjoy. There’s definitely room in my reading life for books like this.

I know Holly Denham is a pseudonym. Can anyone tell me what the author's real name is? A visit to the website reveals an interactive page that lets you read snippets of the actual book. But I still didn't find the author's real name!

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
Publication Date: September 8.

Adam One, the kindly leader of the God’s Gardeners – a religion devoted to the melding of science, religion, and nature – has long predicted a disaster. Now it has occurred, obliterating most human life. Two women remain: Ren, a young dancer locked away in a high-end sex club, and Toby, a former God’s Gardener, who barricades herself inside a luxurious spa. Have others survived? Ren’s bio-artist friend Amanda? Zeb, her eco-fighter stepfather? Her onetime lover, Jimmy? Or the murderous Painballers? Not to mention the CorpSeCorps, the shadowy policing force of the ruling powers… As Adam One and his beleaguered followers regroup, Ren and Toby emerge into an altered world, where nothing – including the animal life – is predictable.

Margaret Atwood is one of my favourite authors - I can't wait for this book to come out!

Tuesday Teasers is hosted by Should Be Reading. The rules are as follows:

Grab your current read and let the book fall open to a random page. Share two sentences somewhere between lines 7 and 12 and the title of the book that you’re getting the teaser from. Please avoid spoilers! Read the official Tuesday Teaser Rules.

From page 122, Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris:

Sam took my hand and sort of steered me to the next to last row of metal chairs, and I waved at my grandmother as we took our seats. It was just time for the meeting to start, and the room held maybe forty people, quite a gathering for Bon Temps.

Review: THE LIEUTENANT by Kate Grenville

I’ve had The Secret River, another book by this author, on my TBR pile for awhile. The plot of that one attracted me and so I was excited to get a hold of this one at Book Expo America last May.

I love the cover of The Lieutenant; it depicts a beautiful blue celestial map and it gives me a sense of endless possibilities and excitement. The connection of the map to the book is that the protagonist, Daniel Rooke, is an astronomer who, in his majesty’s service in 1786, travels to New South Wales as the navigator and all-around observer of that land’s fauna, flora and people. As a mathematician and linguist, Daniel is more than capable of discerning new routes and paths to take and helping to ‘parlay’ with natives. Despite his competency to navigate however, he is not as adept in social situations and finds them awkward. It is his wish to establish a separate location from the main camp on New South Wales to continue astronomical studies and view the trail of Haley’s comet in silence and isolation. He is happiest there. It doesn’t take too long before he figures out the correct method of communicating with the natives who visit his camp and it is with them and not his own people with whom he feels most comfortable.

This is a novel but it is based on the very real activity of a person who lived through the same situations as the author describes. There is an author’s note at the back of the book (also available on her website) which explains the differences between the real historical person William Dawes and her character. Having not heard of this person before I found the story to be quite fascinating. I also enjoy historical novels so that for me was another plus in its favour. I liked the interpretation the author gave to real life events and the soul-searching and self-awareness she gave her character, knowing what he did with his life subsequent to NSW. But I thought that at a little over 300 pages, and with some of those devoted to Daniel’s early life before NSW, that the story could have been filled out a bit more. It detailed the character’s attempts to learn the language and his interaction with the natives and other soldiers, but I felt a bit more could have been added to fill out some gaps in time and give the story more depth. Despite that it was an enjoyable book. Anyone who enjoys historical adventures will surely like this novel.


After talking about it for many years, my husband and I are about to open a used bookstore.

We have owned a retail business before – an ice cream parlor – so we know what it’s like to own your own business. A lot of work! A food-based business takes constant attention. We had to make sure we didn’t run out of the product – soft and hard ice cream of course, but also all the by-products such as cones, dippings, toppings, candy sprinkles and other ingredients. And since in our shop we also offered frozen yogurt and a variety of cold drinks, we had to have fruit, milk and products to make smoothies and slushes. And those are just the food items. Also required are the bowls, napkins, spoons, cups and lids and the list goes on and on..

I haven’t owned a bookstore yet (opening is in September) so I can’t swear that it will be that different from owning an ice cream store but I suspect there will be vast differences. For one thing books don’t have an expiry date (at least the good ones don’t!) We won’t be visited by food inspectors or have to calm crying children because they dropped their cone. (Yep, that happened a lot!) We’ll still have to buy the product to re-sell but we won’t have to drive a long way several times a week to a crowded wholesaler to get it. Most of the product will come right to our door!

But to actually get the thing opened and running is another thing. As it was for the ice cream shop, we will be very busy getting every little detail taken care of so that we can start selling books as soon as possible when our lease starts on September 1. There is a business at the location until then so we can’t sneak in a bit early to get a jump on things. We need to hire staff, get signage done, a phone and the internet hooked up, shelves built, cash register bought, not to mention renting a truck and hauling furniture and books to the store and do all this while the front door is open to attract book lovers. Oh, this will be fun!

I’ll be sure to write a progress report soon on this new adventure and post pictures as soon as I have them!

Review: RAVENS by George Dawes Green

After a family wins a big lottery, they are threatened by a pair of drifters who want to share in the winnings. The leader, Shaw, inveigles himself into the family’s life while the other, Romeo, stays on the outskirts ready to pounce on unsuspecting family members living in the same small town as the lottery winners.

I was a bit disappointed with this book. I found that the antagonists, Shaw and Romeo, were just not that scary. Romeo was actually soft-hearted and it was too difficult to believe that he could be a cold-hearted killer. He spent most of the book trying to get up the nerve to shoot somebody if it proved to be necessary. Shaw was more believable. His character was skewed and nasty and I could see someone with a personality like his causing a situation as described in this novel. The family members were a bit flat even given their peccadilloes – mother alcoholic, father religious, young son spoiled. The only level-headed family member was Tara, a clever young student, and I thought she could have figured out a dozen ways to extricate her family from Shaw’s clutches. Also, I found Tara’s relationship with her best friend Clio a bit odd. Do small town girls really speak the way they do to each other? It had me questioning the true nature of their friendship. Clio seemed to hold sway over Tara the same way Shaw did over Romeo but Tara’s relationship with her friend appeared out of character. From page 26:

“Oh shut up. You’re not gonna lose me. Who’s my bitch?”
She put her hand on Clio’s neck.
Said Clio, “Let go of me now, degenerate.”
Tara said, “You’d love it.”

This dialogue is also an example of the slightly off-putting use of the word, ‘said’ in several instances. I found it a bit awkward since it lead me to re-read the dialogue several times wondering why the author did this. As a result, it took me out of the story - which for a word used only as a necessary literary tool is not a good thing. I think the reader is not supposed to notice words such as ‘said’, ‘the’ and ‘he/she’. But perhaps it’s just a form of writing that needs getting used to.

Despite all of this the plot wasn’t so bad that it didn't keep me reading. I wanted to know how it would all turn out and I did like the ending. It may be that I simply caught this book at a bad time, and I would have found less fault with it if I had read it in a different frame of mind.

Review: THE BLUE NOTEBOOK by James A. Levine

There are some books that I just can’t wait to read. I’m excited about them and I know I’m going to love them just for their pure entertainment value. The Blue Notebook is not one of those books, though since it was hugely enlightening I am very glad I read it.

The story follows a 15 year-old prostitute in Mumbai who finds a pencil and begins writing the story of her life. Batuk manages to find a level of comfort through writing her thoughts and experiences as she goes about her work. Her life changes when the emissary for a wealthy businessman negotiates for her services. She records everything she goes through.

This book is beautifully written and heart-piercingly difficult to read. I found myself reading a few pages ahead looking for assurance that the protagonist would come out of the latest incident without too much trauma. This practice is perhaps a form of denial – bad things only happen to bad people and in the end only good happens to the innocent.

Child prostitution is a way of life for many children around the world. I know that. But reading about one child’s story brings the issue to the fore of my consciousness and that makes the problem all the more real and vivid for me. I’m glad I read this book but don’t know what I can contribute to the problem other than being aware that it exists. On the back of the book it says:

All of the U.S proceeds from this novel will be donated to the International and National Centers for Missing and Exploited Children (

So, I suppose buying the book contributes a very small amount to a very worthwhile cause. Still it is definitely worth it. I highly recommend this book.

Books Bought and Blogger Meet-up

My friend Cindy hosts this meme of books bought during the past week.

Cindy and I decided to go on a field trip to research local documentation. In other words we went to Chapters to browse the books. Needless to say we realized some books required further study so we had to purchase them. This is what I brought home:

In the photo there are six Sookie Stackhouse novels. One snuck in there from my current collection - I didn't buy it last week. The other books are A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray, The House at Midnight by Lucie Whitehouse, Deaf Sentence by David Lodge, Pavel & I by Dan Vyleta, Red Blooded Murder by Laura Caldwell and Lord John and the Private Matter by Diana Gabaldon.

Yesterday was the blogger meet-up with the Book Bloggers Association of Montreal (BBAM) which included Tina, Cindy, Avis and our newest member Linda Ellen. Representing the BBAM's junior division was Cindy's son, Michael. We chatted about books, authors and our blogs and laughed a lot! These great ladies gave me six books:

The Overlook by Michael Connelly, Deadfall by Patricia H. Rushford and Harrison James and When Darkness Falls by James Grippando are from Linda Ellen; Hollywood is Like Highschool With Money by Zoey Dean is from Tina; Honey, It's All in the Shoes by Phyllis Norton Hoffman is from Cindy and Tethered by Amy MacKinnon is from Avis. I'm looking forward to our next meet-up in September and in October it'll be our one year blogger meet-up anniversary! We should plan something special for that...maybe a trip to a local book research centre, perhaps?

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