Archive for February, 2012

Ocean Ranger Disaster

30 years ago today, on the morning of February 15th, the Ocean Ranger drilling rig sank off the coast of Newfoundland during a violent storm killing all 84 on board.  One of the best fiction books I’ve ever read is based on this disaster. It’s called February and is written by Lisa Moore. Moore tells the story of Helen O’Mara and her family of young children after their husband/father Cal died on the rig. It’s a gripping read, full of emotional moments that make you pause and reflect (read my earlier review). It’s a very timely read, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

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Extra Virginity (The sublime and scandalous world of olive oil)

Boy oh boy, if there was ever a book that shouted “buyer beware” this is it. The world of olive oil is exposed and laid bare in Tom Mueller’s Extra Virginity. This is a fascinating read, a bit research-paper-like in places with too much info, but definitely worth the read, even if you skim over parts. Surprise, surprise… it seems all is not as you’re lead to believe in the olive oil industry. If you’re a food purest you’ll hyperventilate when you learn that most of the olive oil produced in Italy is made with oil imported from other countries.  Just because the label sounds Italian doesn’t mean anything. They don’t even import the olives!  Just the oil, in huge oil tankers. And since most consumers probably wouldn’t know a true authentic tasting olive oil if they tasted it, and probably wouldn’t like it if they did, companies actually alter the flavour to make it pallatible to the average consumer. Go figure! Unless you actually go to the farm where they make their own oil and buy it there, you have no idea what you’re buying, and where it’s from. So it’s buyer beware, buy what you like, and worry about more important things. But it certainly makes you wonder about the entire food industry and what else is not quite Kosher. I found this book fascinating!

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Death Comes to Pemberley

P.D. James is a brilliant writer. She has millions of fans around the world, and at the age of 91 she’s still putting pen to paper (or maybe fingers to keyboard? – who knows). And this time she’s outdone herself. Every writer has his/her own style of writing, and to get into another writer’s head and write like they do is next to impossible… I would think, but what do I know anyway. James has combined two of her favourite things in this book… her love of Jane Austen and her love of writing mystery novels. Death Comes to Pemberley is a sequal to Jane Austen’s beloved novel Pride and Prejudice. I won’t go into too much detail about the book except to set the stage… the Darcys, Fitzwilliam & Elizabeth, have been married for 6 years and are happily esconsed at Pemberley. They’re dealing with the details of the much anticipated annual St. Ann’s Ball, when a chaise hurtles (I’m beginning to sound like Jane myself!) to their front door with Lydia, Elizabeth’s empty-headed sister, screaming that her husband, George Wickham, has been murdered. As it turns out he isn’t dead, but discovered drunk, hysterical, and covered in blood, bent over the lifeless body of his best friend, Captain Denny. The book moves slowly at first, (some might even say it drags and disappoints) but this part sets the stage perfectly for the trial and conclusion, and eventually, it doesn’t disappoint. It’s expertly crafted. At times I had to remind myself this was P.D. James writing, not Jane Austen. It’s that astonishing. If you’re a fan of either author you’ll love this book. I can’t say enough about how skillful a writer James is to pull this off. She’s definitely brilliant!

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The Accident

Linwood Barclay is one of my favourite authors, and his latest book The Accident is destined to be as big a hit as his previous ones. He writes suspenseful thrillers. Unlike most mystery novels where the focus is on the police solving a crime, his books don’t lean in that direction, making them just a bit different and more intriguing than the usual. In this book Glen Garber, a contractor in Connecticut, waits for his wife Sheila to get home from an accounting course she’s taking at night. But she never shows up. Frantic with fear, he gets in the car to see if he can find her, and comes upon a road block where an accident has taken place. It doesn’t take long for him to recognize the car and learn that Sheila is dead. But it soon becomes evident that things just don’t add up… Sheila never went to her class that night, and police reports indicate that she was drunk, and is responsible for killing 2 people in addition to herself.  Glen knew this was so unlike her that he found it hard to believe. When one of her best friends also dies in a strange accident, Glen takes it upon himself to see if there isn’t more to the picture than meets the eye. Illegal activities soon surface in their placid little Connecticut neighbourhood, adding to the complex set of circumstances surrounding both deaths. The story is really gripping, and the book flows so easily that you’re hooked and half way through before you know it. Barclay is definitely the master of suspense. He has hoards of fans and you will be one too if you read this book… or his previous – Never Look Away, Fear the Worst, Too Close to Home and No Time for Goodbye. They’re all fantastic!

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