Saturday 6 January 2018

A New Year to Make Amends

blogger shame challenge.jpg

As you all know, I have had a less than stellar ability to keep up with all my book reviews. With lots of reasons, as well as excuses, I could gain sympathy I am sure. But I don't want sympathy. I want to make amends for my huge backlog for those authors and books that have patiently waited for me to put up or shut up.

Well Hello 2018! What better way to start the year than with my shame converted into a challenge. I rarely can say no to a challenge, and I very rarely am beat by one. So I challenge myself to review one review copy per month that has waited far too long in my TBR pile. It will barely make a dent but it is the beginning of making amends for authors having to wait so long. I really do want to read all these books - reasons and excuses would normally follow but I will instead say that I will do my best to alter my tardiness while making some good review reading to any followers that have stuck by me.

Thank you to Herding Cats for creating the 2018 Blogger Shame Challenge so bloggers like me can begin to hit that TBR pile and make some patient authors a little happier.

Let the challenge begin!

Experience 2018 with Beyond My Bookshelf!

Thursday 30 November 2017

Book Review: Humanitarians, Visionaries, Heroes, and You by Mary Feliciani

Author Mary Feliciani tells us about the seven humanitarians that have inspired her in Humanitarians, Visionaries, Heroes, and You. This book may look thin to the eyes, being only a scant 39 pages, but it is quite filled with information.

I like the layout of this book. Each hero mini-biography contains information on an outstanding person that made a difference in the world, as well as quotations by that person and a reflection by the author. It is a brief text but bountiful with information.

I appreciate authors who include the references they used for their books. I was a little dismayed to see only websites used for retrieving information, and somewhat stunned that Wikipedia was referenced three times. It is expected in an age so fraught with technology that websites are a big source of information. Knowing that, I am still surprised that an author wanting to sell the written word (and being a teacher, no less) would refrain from using any book references and that, of the websites used, Wikipedia would be considered a good information source for youth to consider.

Barring that, I found the book enjoyable and enlightening with information. I am thankful to Mary Feliciani for sending me a copy of Humanitarians, Visionaries, Heroes, and You in exchange for an honest review.

Cross-posted on Goodreads

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Saturday 21 October 2017

The Missing Place by Sophie Littlefield

The Missing Place
Two mothers: Colleen and Shay. Both trying to find their sons that have disappeared from an oil rig camp they were both working at. As both mothers begin to work together, they are met with silence from anyone who works for the oil company, anyone who might know of the whereabouts of either young man, and even the people in the North Dakota community fighting to retake their land from the oil company to give back to the native people.

The Missing Place is a good mystery that kept me engaged. The clash of the two mothers throughout the investigation led to a nice climax that had me feeling for both women. Without the sons actually being active within the first two-thirds of the book, Sophie Littlefield does a wonderful job of showing who these two young men are. From memories the women have to the few stories that are put together we get a good sense of who Paul and Taylor were as workers, friends, and sons.

This was an enjoyable read and I will be looking for more to read from Sophie Littlefield.

Cross-posted at Goodreads

Sunday 20 August 2017

Book Review: A Dog's Way Home by W. Bruce Cameron

And then there was a blur of motion from above me and another animal joined the melee, landing right in front of my assailants. The coyotes were snarling and yelping in shock and fear and falling away from a ferocious attack. I stared in amazement as an enormous cat, far larger than I, sprang at the coyotes with nearly blinding speed, claws slashing. Her massive paw struck the bolder on in his haunches and sent him tumbling, and then the three of them were fleeing down the hill in panic, the cat loping easily after them for just a moment before she turned and stared at me.

What an amazing and beautiful story of Bella, a dog who once lived under a house with her mom and siblings, tons of stray cats, and one pregnant cat. When her dog family was taken away, along with many of the stray cats that lived under the abandoned house, it was the cat who gave birth that later became Bella’s cat mom. When the mother cat’s kittens were taken away, Bella and her cat mom were left alone in the dark crawl space under the house.

This story is about the strength of one puppy named Bella, a puppy that was saved by Lucas – the young man who put out food and water for the stray cats that lived under the abandoned house across from his building. Lucas fought for the rights of those cats against a nasty land developer and saved a dog from a mean dog-catcher. After Lucas had to re-home Bella to another state, a place where she ran away from, the love that Lucas gave was Bella’s guide through over 400 miles of adventures back to her home and the one person that meant the world to her.

W. Bruce Cameron has a knack for grabbing the reader, making them a part of the action, and leaving an emotional impact on anyone who picks up his books. This book is one of his best yet. Through laughter, tears, and sitting on the edge of my seat, Cameron gave me the gift of knowing Bella, feeling the love she had to give, and the light that emotional supports have for healing the darkness embedded within another breathing being. This book is an eye-opener for those who have never felt the power of an animal’s love, and a dedication to those who love their animals fully. A Dog's Way Home is a winner!

Cross-posted on Goodreads

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Tuesday 6 June 2017

Book Review: Our Little Secret by Roz Nay

Desire, passion, first love, and the turning of time all play factors in this wonderful, power-packed thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat, turning pages. Enjoyable, heart-pumping, and just what I needed.

Angela is left in a stark interrogation room with nothing but a revolving line of police officers entering, all with the same questions about her ex, HP. His wife Saskia is missing. Just what does Angela know about it?

Detective Novak becomes the main interrogator, letting Angela go back ten years to tell how she knew and fell in love with HP. Roz Nay goes deep inside the thoughts of Angela to find what has kept her ticking all these years. We are given snapshots of the life Angela wanted and expected to always be there.

HP and Angela were best friends; there was always that extra pull deep inside of Angela towards HP. They were closer to each other than anyone else. It wasn't unexpected - and yet it was when it finally happened - when they fell in love. Was it meant to be? Was it meant to last? What if HP meant someone else?

Saskia's vanished, hasn't she? It's kind of terrible, although deep down, in a part of me I'll never let anyone see, I don't mind if she doesn't come back. That sounds bad, I know. But people can't always control their thoughts; they just control what they do about them. Saskia came in like a hurricane that summer, ripping whole dwellings apart, and maybe Mom is right. The energy you put out into the world does change everything.
Angela has her own thoughts on what has been going on. Could she be protecting someone? Who has been telling the truth, and who is living the lie?
The way we live now, most people veil their destructiveness and dress it up as love. They clothe it and feed it and take it out on the town as their socially acceptable form of desolation. They do as much damage as the next person.
I really enjoyed this cat-and-mouse thriller. Our Little Secret kept me guessing until the end. I look forward to what Roz Nay will come up with next.

Thanks go to Simon & Schuster Canada and Roz Nay for providing an ARC copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Our Little Secret - Roz Nay 
On sale: June 6, 2017

Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9781501142802

ISBN: 9781501142864

Get to know more about this author!

Roz Nay grew up in England and studied at Oxford University. She has been published in The Antigonish Review and the anthology Refuge. Roz has worked as an underwater fish counter in Africa, a snowboard videographer in Vermont, and a high school teacher in both the UK and Australia. She now lives in British Columbia, Canada, with her husband and two children. Our Little Secret is her first novel. Visit her at, on Facebook Roznay1, or follow her on Twitter @roznay1.

Cross-posted on Goodreads

From Just Beyond My Bookshelf

Monday 15 May 2017

Book Review: I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak

Maybe everyone can live beyond what they're capable of.

In walks Ed Kennedy. He's a 19 yr old underage cab driver in an Australian small town. He's a loser with less than impeccable friends. He reads a lot, has no goals in life, is bad at sex, and good at foiling a bank robbery with his overly talkative buddy, Marv.

The Doorman is pretty important to Ed. Not the guy who holds doors open; it's the name of his 17 yr old dog that means the world to him. Almost as important as his best friend, Audrey - who he is completely head-over-heels in love with. Too bad she is into having sex without love, and Ed does not fit into her line of detached relations.

Not long after the hilarious bank robbery, Ed receives his first card in the mail - the Ace of Diamonds. Three addresses are listed on it. What is in store at each place? It is up to Ed to figure out what is going on and how to deal with it. After finishing off one card, the next Ace shows up. It's Ed who holds people's lives in his hands.

While making moves with the cards he's dealt, Ed is learning to do that in his own life. He has a rather difficult relationship with his mother, and he has no idea why it is the way it is.
"Ma?" I ask. 
"Why do you hate me so much?"
And now she looks at me, this woman, as I make sure my eyes don't give me away.
Flatly, simply, she answers.
"Because, Ed - you remind me of him."
It registers.
Him - my father.
She goes inside and the door slams.
Two other quotes that made a huge impact on the story with me are:
Carefully no, her statement comes out. "Believe it or not - it takes a lot of love to hate you like this."

I love that old woman's smile. I love the patches of human wrinkles on her face ad the joy in her eyes.
I absolutely loved this book from beginning to end. I smiled, laughed, and teared up, too. This is my second of Zusak's books and I must say it reaches the level I expect after reading The Book Thief. Completely different but in no way lacking the poetic, genuine, and well-paced words that Markus Zusak is well-known for. This book has earned a spot on my favourites shelf, and I look forward to many re-reads to come.

Cross-posted on Goodreads

From just Beyond My Bookshelf

Tuesday 21 February 2017

Book Review: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Sydney hates being the number 2 child, and not just because she's the youngest. Her mom has always been so proud of older brother Peyton, and her Dad doesn't seem to see her at all. Even when Peyton goes to prison for a DWI that paralyzes a teen, Sydney is still overlooked by her parents. Tension builds within Sydney as her privacy in the community disappears and Peyton's best friend Ames begins to get a little too close for comfort.

When Sydney decides to leave her private school to go to the local public high school for a bit of anonymity, she is enveloped by Layla, her brother Mac, and their cozy band of family and friends. Sydney meets with an acceptance she has been searching for and finds in a family pizza restaurant.
To me, the Chathams were like that merry-go-round out  in the middle of nowhere in the woods. I hadn't been aware they'd existed; it was pure luck to have stumbled upon them. Now that I had, I couldn't forget and go back to the way I'd been before. Just knowing they were out there changed everything. Especially me.

This story made me want to laugh, cry, and shout out "Exactly!" Getting to know Sydney, Layla, and Mac would have made my high school years magical.
"Relationships evolve, just like people do. Just because you know someone doesn't mean you know everything about them."
"Just because a person isn't talking about something doesn't mean it's not on their mind. Often, in fact, it's why they won't speak of it."
When faced with the scariest of things, all you want is to turn away, hid in your own invisible place. But you can't. That's why it's not only important for us to be seen, but to have someone to look for us, as well.

Saint Anything an amazing story. I love Sarah Dessen's writing - the truth in each story, the agony of emotions the characters express and the reader feels, and the ease in which simple words become a world I could be living next to any day of the week. Sarah Dessen writes about the community that readers live in, emotions they feel, and stories they can sink in to. Sarah Dessen is the friendly neighbour I wish I knew.
That was just it. You never knew what lay ahead; the future was one thing that could never be broken, because it had not yet had the chance to be anything. One minute you're walking through a dark woods, alone, and then the landscape shifts, and you see it. Something wondrous and unexpected, almost magical, that you never would have found had you not kept it going. Like a new friend who feels like an old one, or a memory you'll never forget. Maybe even a carousel.

I highly recommend Saint Anything as a great read. You may just have found yourself a new author, too!

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