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Monday, December 10, 2018

Review: WATCHING YOU, by Lisa Jewell

WATCHING YOU, by Lisa Jewell

Atria Books - Available December 26, 2018
Page count: 320
Thank you to NetGalley and Atria Books for this advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating (out of 5)

Lisa Jewell does it again!  Another taut thriller to keep us on the edge of our seats!

Melville heights is not the type of neighbourhood one would expect a murder to occur. This story begins with exactly that though.  

 A large part of the story revolves around Joey Mullen and Tom Fitzwilliam. Joey is a newlywed who has become infatuated with her neighbor Tom Fitzwilliam, the beloved school headmaster.  But Joey is not the only one who has developed more than a passing interest in him. One of his students has also turned her attention towards him - and it's not the first time that a student has had a crush on him.  Are Joey and Tom  having an affair?  Is his relationship with the student inappropriate?  Does any of this have anything to do with the murder?  

There is a large cast of characters in this book, but while that may seem somewhat daunting, the building of the story and the connections between characters is done so well, that it does all fall in place. Slowly, and with great precision, the intricate web of stories for each of the characters in the neighborhood are dispensed through the accounts of their own, those who make a habit of watching others, and police interviews. As the story goes on, the pieces start falling into place faster and faster until you finally see the events in their entirety, and you arrive at the the shocking and unexpected end.

The intricate web of this story is impressive and mesmerizing. Lisa Jewell has proven again that she can create a taut, gripping thriller with an impressively complex story-line. If you liked AND THEN SHE WAS GONE, you will thoroughly enjoy this book as well. 

Happy Reading,

Friday, December 7, 2018

Gifts (That aren't Books) for Book Lovers

Gifts for Book Lovers

Call us book nerds, book worms, or book dragons. Call us what you wish, but don't expect us to respond until we finish the paragraph/page/chapter/book. Book lovers tend to take their reading seriously.  We get cranky when we don't get uninterrupted time to read. Some of us have rituals for our reading time, many of us just grab what ever time we can, when ever we can. We have favourite places to read. We have favourite snacks and beverages. Some long-time book lovers are finding it difficult to read the way they once did, due to problems with vision becoming an issue (there is something very sad about a book dragon with declining vision!). Some have found that certain life changes mean that they don't have the time they once had to read.  

With all the books in the world, you would think it would be easy to choose a gift for a book lover - but that is not necessarily the case.  My own husband will not buy me books.  He does not know what I have on my TBR, he does not know what I have ordered, and to be honest, he wouldn't know what authors or books I would really like - My favorite author is not even on my automatic buy list because he writes in several genres, some of which I do not generally read. The good news is, that regardless of your budget, and regardless of the challenges your book nerd/worm/dragon may face, there are great gift ideas in a wide range of prices. 

Book light

Star Wars Millennium Falcon Book Light 


  • Inexpensive
  • Come in USB rechargeable, AAA battery, and medical/watch type disc batteries.  
  • Some models have color choices.


  • May cause the recipient to read far too late into the night


  Game of Thrones House Bookmarks (Set of 4) (Copper)



  • Most are quite inexpensive
  • Comes in a wide variety of materials - paper, fabric, leather, metals etc.with or without           additional adornments such as beads, tassels, etc.  
  • Comes in a wide variety of themes, patterns, colors - easy to match to different interests      and personalities.
  • Many - particularly the paper variety, are light enough to include in a card or letter.


  • Really, I don't know of any potential problems with this one. Most book lovers  are happy   to have several of these around.                   


Tread carefully here!  Not all book lovers like e-books.  There are also pros and cons to the specific brands as well; For example - In Canada you cannot borrow e-books from your local library with a Kindle, but you might be able to with a Kobo by using a PC to download and transfer the titles. Before going this route, make sure you check compatibility with the recipients favored book source.


  • Allows recipient to carry unlimited reading material without excessive bulk or weight making it a great choice for frequent travellers.
  • Good choice for people with vision issues - most e-readers have adjustable fonts. No more hunting for large print editions!
  • Good for people with mobility issues - delivery directly to device via Wi-Fi.       
  • Some models have built in back light making their use easy in all lighting situations. 
  • E-readers usually have an "e-ink" display that is much easier on the eyes than reading off from a tablet or iPad, and have none of the glare associated with them either.        


  • Lack the smell associated with ink & paper
  • Does not look as impressive as a well stocked book-shelf
  • Lack of colorful cover-art for books
  • Dropping a book is not a big deal, dropping an e-reader has the potential for irreparable damage (Which is why I always have my electronics in a protective case! I have my kindle in its protective case a few times without any damage at all).
** If you know someone who already has an e-reader you can also get them a fun or attractive protective case for their device. Just make sure you know the make/model to ensure proper fit.

Miscellaneous Bookish Merch:


 Harry Potter Uniform 14 oz Mugs

If you know your book lover's favorite books or authors you can find a wide variety of bookish merchandise like clothing, kitchen & bar accessories, jewellery, games, key chains, etc. Just type in something like "Author" merchandise" or "Title" merchandise" and let Google point you in the right direction for hundreds of ideas and retailers!


  • Easy to personalize to individual tastes 
  • Wide range of budget options

  • Cons:
    • Often more expensive than buying the same item without a bookish theme - but what fun would that be anyways?
    Gift Cards

    • You know the recipient will get something they really do like
    • Available from as little as $10 and no real upper amount - Good for any budget!
    • Quick and easy to pick up without spending hours searching for a specific item
    • Lightweight - easy to include in letter or card
    • E-gift card options often available - order online and recipient can get it the same day!
    • easy to tuck keep in a pocket or purse until you see the person it is intended for.
    • Also good for Audiobooks which makes them ideal for people with limited reading time - listen while driving, cooking, cleaning, etc.
    • Audiobook option is also good for people who are visually impaired - just make sure they have a suitable device (smartphone, tablet or computer with speakers) to play the audiobook on.
    • By itself, really kind of boring. 
    • Easy to misplace
    This brings us to one of my favorite gift categories!  

    DIY Gift Baskets etc. 

    Consider combining some of these items with each other and/or other items to make an attractive and thoughtful gift presentation!  The only limits here are imagination! Need some ideas? How about:

    • A bookmark, gift card, and some tea/coffee/cocoa mix in a mug (bookstores often have bookish mugs, but even a cute holiday themed mug from a bargain store will work well too) wrapped in cellophane and a pretty ribbon.
    • A pretty basket containing a bottle of wine, a fun decorated stemless wine glass, a tiny box of fancy chocolates/truffles and a gift card from a favorite bookseller
    • An Audible gift card, some bath salts/bubble bath/bath bombs, a candle and a waterproof Bluetooth speaker. 
    • A cookbook, a holiday themed tea towel/pot-holders and a whisk or wooden spoon all tied together with pretty ribbon. 
    • I hope that if you have read this post you have found some ideas that work for you and the book lover in your life! 

    Happy Shopping!

    Wednesday, December 5, 2018

    Review: AN UNWANTED GUEST, by Shari Lapena

    AN UNWANTED GUEST, by Shari Lapena

    Penguin Audio - 2018
    Audiobook - 8 hrs 27 min
    Narrated by Hillary Huber

    My Rating (out of 5)

    This thriller has a very old fashioned feel to it.  

    The basic pretext is reminiscent of an Agatha Christie book.  A group of people find themselves at a remote inn deep in the woods of the Catskills during a winter storm.  They are snowed in - too remote for cellular phone service, the land lines knocked out by the storm along with the electricity lines. 

    In the morning a body is found at the bottom of the stairs. Could it be an accident? One guest is not sure, but when the second body is found, the remaining realize that one of them is a killer, and there is no help coming right away. How many will die to keep the killer's secrets?

    Suspicions are on the rise and accusations are cast, and all the surviving guests are able to do is hope to survive until they are able to call for help.

    A good book, but not not particularly memorable. Good set up and character development, but for me it seemed to be lacking that "little extra" that would raise it to the next level.  I preferred her book THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR to this one. 

    Audio narration was good with a pleasant and clear voice, as well as sufficient range of character and emotion

    Happy Reading,

    Sunday, December 2, 2018

    Sunday Summary November 26 - December 1, 2018

    Sunday Summary November 25 to December 1, 2018

    Welcome to my Sunday Summary.  A look back on my bookish adventures for the week.

    Incredibly busy weekend here with a special little boy having a birthday, so I will jump right into it! 

    Books Reviewed:

    ALL THINGS CONSOLED, by Elizabeth Hay.  This touching and  poignant memoir was reviewed in THIS POST.

    ALL THE BEAUTIFUL LIES, by Peter Swanson. This thriller was review HERE.

    Ramblings and Miscellany:

    #WednesdayWisdom .

    Advance Reading Copy (ARC) Books Previously Reviewed and Released this Week:

    LYING IN WAIT,  by Liz Nugent had its Canadian Pub day on Tuesday November 27th.  You can read my review of this Creepy, Dark and Devious thriller in THIS POST.

    Currently Reading and Notable Titles on Deck:

    i am currently reading WATCHING YOU, by Lisa Jewell.  I am currently listening to AN UNWANTED GUEST by Shari Lapena.

    On deck is THE DEAL OF A LIFETIME AND OTHER STORIES, by Fredrik Backman a new release which looks like a good Christmas read.  

    The year is quickly coming to an end! What titles are you hoping to read before the New Year?

    Happy Reading, 

    Saturday, December 1, 2018

    Review: ALL THE BEAUTIFUL LIES, BY Peter Swanson

    ALL THE BEAUTIFUL LIES, by Peter Swanson

    HarperAudio - 2018
    Audiobook - 9 hrs. 13 min.
    Narrated by Sarah Mollo-Cristensen

    My Rating (out of 5)
    ⭐⭐⭐ 1/2

    A solid and disturbing thriller. 

    When Harry gets news of his father's death, he skips his college graduation ceremony and immediately returns to his home town. Initially suspected as a suicide, the police soon change their theory to murder. 

    Who would kill Harry's father and why? His Dad's attractive young widow is acting a bit inappropriate, but is that just grief or something more sinister? Who is the mysterious woman suddenly in town, attending the funeral and appearing at his Dad's bookstore under the thinly veiled guise of asking for a job? 

    This story is complex and well crafted.  Told in alternating time-lines and focusing on alternating characters, several threads are slowly twisted together into a delightfully disturbing ending

    This is a difficult book to summarize while trying to avoid spoilers.  There seems to be so much more to say, but every time I try to say it, I feel I am dropping hints and spoilers - so I will stop here. 

    Narration was clear and with appropriate range of emotion and character. 

    Happy Reading,

    Tuesday, November 27, 2018

    Review: ALL THINGS CONSOLED, by Elizabeth Hay

    ALL THINGS CONSOLED, by Elizabeth Hay

    Penguin Random House Canada Audio - 2018
    Narrated by the author, Elizabeth Hay

    My Rating (out of 5)

    Winner of the 2018 Weston Writer's Trust Award for Non-Fiction - The most coveted award in Canadian Non-Fiction. Elizabeth Hay is one of Canada's premier writers. She is a Giller Prize winner for her book LATE NIGHTS ON AIR, published in 2009.  I read it back then and enjoyed it enough to remember her writing style when I came across this book.

    Once again i have tripped and fallen outside my usual genres. I would tell you that I don't even know why I picked up this book so far out of the norm for me, but I would be lying. The truth is, this was the book I needed to hear or read right now.  

    Only a few short weeks ago I finally moved my mother from the house she lived in for he last 45 years, to a single bedroom apartment closer to me.  There was a lot of stress for both of us, as well as a certain sadness in leaving the family home for the last time. For me, this represented the first very big step of a long and difficult journey which her and I will travel in the days ahead. I do not know how much longer she will be able to live independently, but I feel she deserves to keep her independence as long as it is safe to do so.  There will come a time when my assistance  will no longer be enough and she will need to move again - into a retirement home, and if her physical health holds up long enough, I know she will need to enter a "memory unit". My only sibling lives half a country away, so it falls to me to oversee this process.

    When a subject that you personally connect with merges with a writer with such great style and prose, you pretty much have to pick it up.  I did, and I am ever thankful for it.

    In ALL THINGS CONSOLED, Hay documents the final years of her parent's lives.  She has written an incredibly open, candid and honest account of how age changes us, and how becoming caregiver to aging parents affects us, our relationships with them,  and our relationships with our siblings as well.  

    Hay deftly documents enough of the family history to get to know what her parents were like in their younger and healthier years. Her gruff father with the short temper who was a stern teacher and school principle. Her overly frugal mother who would not waste a scrap of food, and seemed genuinely offended if anyone else did, but lived life with a flair only an artist could. When they are no longer able to live alone, far away from the assistance of their children, they are moved closer to Elizabeth and her husband. From this point Hay shares the experience of assisting her parents through their final years. She does this with exceptional respect, love, tenderness, and compassion.

    Not all authors should narrate their own audiobooks.  Hay is one of the exceptions.  Her warm, soothing voice was exactly what this book needed. 

    There is a quote - "We read to know we are not alone" by C.S. Lewis.  Listening to this poignant work in Hays own soothing voice did in fact let me know that I am not alone, regardless of how personal the journey is.  

    Happy Reading,