Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Girls from Corona del Mar. A Novel.

The Girls from Corona del Mar
A novel
By Rufi Thorpe

Hardcover, 256 pages

I have barely moved since starting this novel. It grabbed me at the first sentence and never let go. I don't generally go for books labelled as Literary, Contemporary Women, or Coming of Age. They all sound boring to me. But there was something about this book that made me want to read it. And I am so glad that I did.

I have to say it is likely my favourite book  this year. And that is saying a lot. I cannot believe that this is the author's first published novel. It is brilliant in its telling and really gets you thinking about love and friendship and the bonds that we share. And also our own perspectives on the world.

It makes you think. It makes you want to call your friends and talk. And then give them a copy of this book.

In fact, I might do that right now.

From the Back Flap:

“Why did Lorrie Ann look graceful in beat-up Keds and shorts a bit too small for her? Why was it charming when she snorted from laughing too hard? Yes, we were jealous of her, and yet we did not hate her. She was never so much as teased by us, we roaming and bratty girls of Corona del Mar, thieves of corn nuts and orange soda, abusers of lip gloss and foul language.”

An astonishing debut about friendships made in youth, The Girls from Corona del Mar is a fiercely beautiful novel about how these bonds, challenged by loss, illness, parenthood, and distance, either break or endure.

Mia and Lorrie Ann are lifelong friends: hard-hearted Mia and untouchably beautiful, kind Lorrie Ann. While Mia struggles with a mother who drinks, a pregnancy at fifteen, and younger brothers she loves but can’t quite be good to, Lorrie Ann is luminous, surrounded by her close-knit family, immune to the mistakes that mar her best friend’s life. Then a sudden loss catapults Lorrie Ann into tragedy: things fall apart, and then fall further—and there is nothing Mia can do to help. And as good, brave, fair Lorrie Ann stops being so good, Mia begins to question just who this woman is, and what that question means about them both.

A staggeringly honest, deeply felt novel of family, motherhood, loyalty, and the myth of the perfect friendship, The Girls from Corona del Mar asks just how well we know those we love, what we owe our children, and who we are without our friends.

Rufi Thorpe

Rufi Thorpe received her MFA from the University of Virginia in 2009. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and son. The Girls from Corona del Mar is her first novel.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Peter Pan Must Die. A Novel by John Verdon

by John Verdon
Hardcover, 448 pages

I have been waiting patiently (okay, maybe not so patiently) for this book to come out. I love the Dave Gurney series and the complex mysteries that John Verdon crafts.

We are always given all the information and yet the crimes are just as baffling to us readers as they are to retired Inspector Gurney, who can't seem to adapt to life off the force.

This is why I love Verdon's novels so much. They keep you thinking. You become a member of the detectives that are trying to get to the truth. Nothing is held back. And the puzzles have so many intricacies, I seriously have no idea how he manages to craft them.

But that doesn't matter. His job is to write - and he does it so well. Mine is to read - and I loved every minute of it.

Mystery/Crime fiction fans - this is your next read.

From the Back Flap:
In John Verdon’s most sensationally twisty novel yet, ingenious puzzle solver Dave Gurney brings his analytical brilliance to a shocking murder that couldn’t have been committed the way the police say it was.

The daunting task that confronts Gurney, once the NYPD’s top homicide cop: determining the guilt or innocence of a woman already convicted of shooting her charismatic politician husband – who was felled by a rifle bullet to the brain while delivering the eulogy at his own mother’s funeral. 

Peeling back the layers, Gurney quickly finds himself waging a dangerous battle of wits with a thoroughly corrupt investigator, a disturbingly cordial mob boss, a gorgeous young temptress, and a bizarre assassin whose child-like appearance has earned him the nickname Peter Pan.

Startling twists and turns occur in rapid-fire sequence, and soon Gurney is locked inside one of the darkest cases of his career – one in which multiple murders are merely the deceptive surface under which rests a scaffolding of pure evil.  Beneath the tangle of poisonous lies, Gurney discovers that the truth is more shocking than anyone had imagined.

And the identity of the villain at the mystery’s center turns out to be the biggest shock of all.

JOHN VERDON is a former Manhattan advertising executive who lives with his wife in the mountains of upstate New York.  His first three Dave Gurney novels, Think of a Number, Shut Your Eyes Tight, and Let the Devil Sleep, are all international bestsellers.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Caesars: The Essential Guide to Your Favourite Cocktail

The Essential Guide to Your Favourite Cocktail
By Clint Pattemore
Trade Paperback, 208 pages

Hail Caesar! Easily a favourite cocktail, the Caesar can be enjoyed any time of day as a classic brunch drink, afternoon pick me up or as accompaniment to a great dinner.

The Caesar is also infinitely adaptable. I like going to my favourite pub for $3 Caesar Sundays, in which you can design your own drink at the bar.

But you don't have to leave home to enjoy this fabulous cocktail, Mott's Clamato's brand ambassador and chief mixing officer, Clint Pattemore, has put together this delicious book of Caesar inspirations. Also included are some wonderful recipes that go perfectly with the drinks. It's time to throw some Caesar parties. Don't forget to invite me!

Contents include:
  • Hello Caesar fans!
  • Hail Caesar! The Story of Canada's Cocktail
  • Entertaining with Caesars
  • Anatomy of a Caesar
  • Caesar-Making Equipment and Techniques
  • The Classic Caesar
  • Spring
  • Summer
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Food Recipes

From the Back Flap:

The Caesar is the iconic Canadian cocktail, shared on backyard patios and cocktail menus from coast to coast. Caesars is the ultimate guide to this Canadian classic, containing more than 50 unique recipes for Caesar variations, and 20 delicious food recipes to pair with them.

Mounties, maple syrup, hockey… few things are as distinctly and proudly Canadian as the Caesar cocktail. First mixed nearly fifty years ago in Calgary, Alberta, the Caesar has grown to become one of the most popular cocktails across our great nation. With Canada Day just around the corner, what better way to enjoy the day than mixing Canada’s top drink in celebration with your family and friends?

For this colourful cookbook, Clint Pattemore, Chief Mixing Officer for Mott’s Clamato, has teamed up with Top Chef alum Chef Connie De Sousa and Charcut Roast House co-owner Chef John Jackson. Together they have created a book for year round enjoyment, with recipes organised by season. From Caesar innovations like the Clamdigger, Gin & Ginger or Don Cherry, to the mouthwatering appetizers to accompany them, like Stuffed Meatballs, Sausage Sliders or Warm Pretzel Bites, you’ll want to try every recipe in this vibrant, accessible collection.

CLINT PATTEMORE is the CMO (Chief Mixing Officer) at Mott's. He has been the Mott's brand ambassador since 2012.

CONNIE DE SOUSA began her culinary career at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, she then worked in restaurants in the US and Canada, including Jean Georges in NYC, Quince in San Francisco, and Chez Panisse in Berkeley. She is now co-owner of Charcut Roast House in Calgary.

JOHN JACKSON is began his culinary career at Calgary's award-winning Owl's Nest Dining Room, he then worked in restaurants in NYC and across Europe. He is now co-owner of Charcut Roast House in Calgary.


If you're hosting a party, you're responsible for your guests' alcohol consumption. Below are some responsible hosting tips you can implement at your next get-together:

  •     As the host, drink moderately so you are better able to think clearly and act quickly to avoid any problems.
  •     Have plenty of mixers and ice on-hand so guests can refresh their drinks without needing to add alcohol.
  •     Make sure you have food on-hand throughout the party to avoid your guests drinking on empty stomachs.
  •     Make sure you have food on-hand throughout the party to avoid your guests drinking on empty stomachs.
  •     Promote the use of designated drivers or encourage guests to take public transportation, a taxi or walk rather than driving.
  •     Have a plan to deal with any guests who drink too much. Ask someone responsible to help you monitor the situation.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Good Suicides: by Antonio Hill

The Good Suicides
By Antonio Hill

Trade Paperback, 352 pages

As a lifetime mystery and detective novel lover, some of my favourite books in this genre are the ones that take place in foreign (to me) countries. Sure I love my Nordic Noir, who doesn't? It got me beyond the Great Britain and North American fare. (Not that I don't still love me some British and local sleuthing, but it is great to explore another land and culture within the mystery) But setting is as interesting and important as character and I love being transported to a new land while reading.

Antonio Hill introduced me to Barcelona and his Inspector Salgado, an Argentine who is as deeply complicated as you would expect from a novelist who studied psychology.

The Good Suicides has Inspector Salgado investigating a number of suicides all stemming from one high powered company. Something does not add up. He finds himself deeper and deeper into the machinations of the company all while he himself is being investigated.

Suitably dark for noir lovers, add this book to your summer reading list. 

From the back flap:

The author of The Summer of Dead Toys returns with the next intense and harrowing thriller in his Inspector Salgado series.

Young, free and … dead.

     Senior staff at Alemany Cosmetics company come home with a secret after a team-building course in a remote country house. Now, they are committing suicide, one by one. Soon, they may all be dead. Each has received a photo from an anonymous source of three dogs hanging dead from a tree near the house.

Deciphering the personalities of these high-earning executives and their power structure, Inspector Salgado has his own way of making them speak. But Barcelona is now freezing cold and the city is hunkering against an unusually cold spell. Can Salgado break the ice before it’s too late?

ANTONIO HILL was born in Barcelona in 1966 and is a psychology graduate. He has spent over ten years as a literary translator and editor in various fields. Among others, he has translated David Sedaris, Jonathan Safran Foer, Glenway Wescott, Rosie Alison, Peter May, Rabih Alameddine and A.L. Kennedy. In July 2011 his first novel, The Summer of Dead Toys, was published, a commercial and critical success translated into fifteen languages.