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Ramblings by Category

Ramblings by Year


by Catherine McKenzie

Kate’s To-Do List:

1. Go to rehab
2. Befriend/spy on “It Girl”
3. Write killer expose
4. Land dream job

Piece of cake!

When Kate Sandford lands an interview at her favorite music magazine, The Line, it’s the chance of a lifetime. So Kate goes out to celebrate—and shows up still drunk to the interview the next morning. It’s no surprise that she doesn’t get the job, but her performance has convinced the editors that she’d be perfect for an undercover assignment for their gossip rag. All Kate has to do is follow “It Girl” Amber Sheppard into rehab. If she can get the inside scoop—and complete the thirty-day program—they’ll reconsider her for the position at The Line. Kate takes the assignment, but when real friendships start to develop, she has to decide if what she has to gain is worth the price she’ll have to pay. (goodreads.com)

Release date: February 7, 2012 (in the US) This has already been out in Canada for a year or so.

People. I should have read this years ago, before the rest of you and been telling you all of its amazingness all this time! I have failed you, Internet. I am a bad, bad Montrealer, Canadian and reader.

The first things that stood out to me as I read Spin were: a) Katie reminds me of Stephanie Plum from Janet Evanovich’s mystery series. Sure, Katie isn’t quite as inept as Stephanie, but her comments and sarcasm were up there. b) I laugh out loud with almost every page I turn. c) If I had a desk near me while I was reading I would have be banging my head against it saying “WHY DIDN’T I PICK  THIS UP SOONER!” I am very upset with myself over this.

I have seen many people call Spin “chick-lit”, and I guess you could call it that since the protagonist is female, but I really didn’t see it as chick-lit myself. (Never mind the fact that I have an aversion to being told I’m reading chick-lit!)

Katie is such a likeable, real character. She has her flaws (just like characters in Sarah Addison Allen’s stories, do) but she had them with humour and sarcasm. heh This story is refreshing in its originality even when you think it’s going to be a cookie cutter plot. Sure there’s a budding romance among the mess and a moral dilemma that’s sort of easy to see through, but the rest of the book was written so well that I honestly did not want this story to end.

While I was picturing Stephanie Plum as Katie (well, my imagination version of Ms. Plum) I was constantly picturing Amanda Seyfried as Amber Sheppard. I don’t know WHY I had an image of Amanda Seyfried in my mind, but I did. To be honest, I don’t even think she was described in any way similar to Ms. Seyfried, so my imagination just went down its own path. Still, it was sort of fun to picture AS in rehab in this situation.

One of my favourite parts of the story was when Katie had to fill out the Are You An Alcoholic? questionnaire before her admittance to the rehab centre. I laughed so hard at her answers and her reasoning behind them. I do believe this is the point that I realized Spin is going to rocket almost to the top of my Most Favourite Books Ever list. An author blurb on the cover of this book compared Katie to Bridget Jones, which I can sort of see. I laughed a lot while reading both Bridget Jones books, too.

I am someone who loves boarding school stories and stories set in institutions (like a psych ward), setting Spin in rehab made me think of Girl, Interrupted (which I adore) and I had to laugh when Katie makes a comment about having “another Girl, Interrupted moment” during the story.

Even the many, many references to songs and musical artists (since Katie is all about music and getting that dream job writing about it) were fun. Turns out, Katie and I share many a musical taste. There’s even a playlist listed at the end of the book so you can groove to all of the songs that are mentioned.

I do believe that even if you are more inclined to read YA novels, that you will find Spin HIGHLY enjoyable. Never mind that Katie has just turned 30, the humour and story are so worth picking up a copy of this book and savouring every page. I know a lot of you who read my blog are more YA-oriented, but please believe me when I say that Spin will not disappoint you. It’s not paranormal, it’s not about a teen, but it’s about a very real, flawed, likeable woman who has her coming of age a little bit late in life.

Go, now! Get thyself thy very own copy of Spin and watch how it just makes your day that much brighter!

(Thanks to William Morrow Paperbacks for the copy of this book – which I agreed to review even though I am not really accepting review books right now because I totally wanted to help promote a Montreal author! Montreal REPRESENT!)

Catherine graciously agreed to answer some questions for me as well (after I harassed her on twitter, because I am rude like that, yo!). You can check that out here!

5 Questions: author Catherine McKenzie (Spin)

Internet! You must, must, MUST go out and read Spin by Catherine McKenzie! Not only would you be supporting both a Montreal and Canadian author, you will also be treated one one heck of a story that will make you laugh and tear up and laugh some more. For more of my gushing about Spin please follow this link! Meanwhile, I managed to get Catherine to agree to participate in my very rare 5 Questions interviews that I reserve for only those books and authors that I am desperate to tell you all about!

Without further ado, my tiny little interview with Catherine McKenzie!

1. First question, the unoriginal and unexciting, how did you come up for the idea for Spin? The story was refreshingly original, so of course I have to ask this! 😉

Thanks! The short answer is the idea came to me at a time when several celebrities were going in and out of rehab and the press was in a frenzy. They were all trying to get shots of celebrities in rehab etc. and I thought to myself: why don’t they just follow them in there? And then I thought: now there’s an idea for a book!

2. Are you just as obsessed about music as Katie is? (Side note: I happen to have a lot of the same musical tastes! Once Katie quoted from The Wallflower’s “One Headlight” I decided I need to be her best friend. I often feel like I’m the only one who still remembers that song!)

In a word: yes. Katie’s musical tastes are my own. And I love, love, love that song! Big fan of Jakob Dylan’s (and Bob).

3. Did you ever find it difficult to juggle both the lawyer and writer hats during your career?

The fact that I am still working as a lawyer and someone from my firm might read this prevents me from answering this question 🙂 Seriously, it can be a lot to handle sometimes, but you make time for the things you love.

4. Name your favourite music artist or band and convince us why we should give them a listen. 😉

I can’t pick just one! But two that I would encourage you to listen to are Matt Nathanson (start with his live album – Live at the Point) because he is crazy talented AND hilarious. I saw him in a tiny little venue in Montreal and he took requests. The show was awesome. A newer discovery is MoZella – her album Belle Isle is just amazing. I wrote my third book to that album & still turn to it for inspiration.

5. What is your favourite Montreal “staple” food? (Poutine? Steamy hot dogs? Smoked meat? And so on?)

Poutine, hands down! But then I almost always immediately regret eating it. Also, our bagels and the best in the world!! (Sorry NYC, but it’s true.)


A warm and huge thank you to Catherine for playing along as I fangirled all over her on Twitter!

If you want to find out more about Catherine and sneak a look at what other books she’s got on the burner, check out her website!

Spin hits shelves in the US next week – February 7, 2012. I recommend it highly!

Alice I Have Been

Alice I Have Been
by Melanie Benjamin

Part love story, part literary mystery, Melanie Benjamin’s spellbinding historical novel leads readers on an unforgettable journey down the rabbit hole, to tell the story of a woman whose own life became the stuff of legend. Her name is Alice Liddell Hargreaves, but to the world she’ll always be known simply as “Alice,” the girl who followed the White Rabbit into a wonderland of Mad Hatters, Queens of Hearts, and Cheshire Cats. Now, nearing her eighty-first birthday, she looks back on a life of intense passion, great privilege, and greater tragedy. First as a young woman, then as a wife, mother, and widow, she’ll experience adventures the likes of which not even her fictional counterpart could have imagined. Yet from glittering balls and royal romances to a world plunged into war, she’ll always be the same determined, undaunted Alice who, at ten years old, urged a shy, stuttering Oxford professor to write down one of his fanciful stories, thus changing her life forever. (goodreads.com)

Many, many moons ago (2009) I found out about this book and I lusted after it ever since. Because of my aversion to buying hardcovers (especially adult ones because they are stupid expensive!) I didn’t pick it up. When it came out in paperback last year I still didn’t pick it up because, well, I’m not sure. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that I couldn’t afford to buy books so I was really selective with what I did buy. This is one of those books that when I saw it, or heard someone speak of it, I would say, “OMG! I have to get this!” and then promptly not think of it when I was in a store or online looking for something. But then I had the bright idea to get it for Kristi for Christmas. I found it very silly that a book I had wanted to buy for two years was finally being bought – but not for myself!

I made sure to rectify that when I started buying books with gift cards I’d received for Christmas.

Finally! I now have my very own copy of Alice I Have Been in my hands!

This book was just amazing. I cannot believe I waited so long for such a great story. Although it is historical fiction, Melanie Benjamin did base the story from research she did into the life of the real “Alice”, Alice Liddel. There’s a nifty little part at the back of this book about the real history of Alice Liddel that was utterly fascinating.

I loved everything about this novel. The writing, the dialogue the imagery, it was all fabulous. Alice, as a precocious 7 and 11 year old was so much fun to read. I loved her blunt manner of speaking and her bratty-yet-charming personality. I can see how people would interpret the relationship she had with Mr. Dodgeson to be improper. I will admit I was worried about reading that aspect of the story because I thought there might be graphic depictions of things that I didn’t want to read. Fortunately, there’s nothing all that untoward between those pages. A lot can be left to the imagination and you can make up your own mind. I know the rumours abound that Lewis Carroll might have been inappropriate with children, but this novel puts things into perspective from a young girl who is full of dreams and the idea of romance. I was not uncomfortable at all reading the first part of the story, when I was nervous that I would be.

The last section of the story follows Alice Liddel, now Alice Hargreaves, as she watches her three sons go off to war. I found myself rather emotional throughout this last section. Alice’s loss of two of her sons hit me pretty hard, the character’s emotion was so lush on those pages that it was almost tangible. I truly felt for this woman as she grew up and suffered many kinds of loss in her life.

This book made me realize, I might actually like historical fiction, when I have always thought I didn’t. I might give other historical novels a try (suggestions welcome!). I am certainly a fan of Melanie Benjamin’s writing style and will consider picking up her second novel The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb. However, I don’t know if I shall be as enchanted by that one as I was the Alice novel. I happen to adore Alice in Wonderland and gravitate towards anything Alice-related. (Although I have actually never read the original story, I need to get on that!)

In My Mailbox #53 – the I Have No Subtitle Edition

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.

All my IMM posts can be found here!

Birthday week yielded some exciting book additions!

For review from William Morrow Paperbacks:


I’m actually at the point where I have so many books I WANT TO READ RIGHT NOW! that I can’t figure out what to read next. I hate that! Does that ever happen to you guys at all?

Smokin’ Seventeen

Smokin’ Seventeen (A Stephanie Plum Novel)
by Janet Evanovich

Dead bodies are showing up in shallow graves on the empty construction lot of Vincent Plum Bail Bonds. No one is sure who the killer is, or why the victims have been offed, but what is clear is that Stephanie’s name is on the killer’s list. Short on time to find the murderer, Stephanie is also under pressure from family and friends to choose between her on-again-off-again boyfriend, Trenton cop Joe Morelli, and the bad boy in her life, security expert Ranger. Stephanie’s mom wants her to dump them both for a former high school football star who’s just returned to town. Stephanie’s sidekick, Lula, suggests a red-hot boudoir “bake-off.” And Joe’s old-world grandmother gives Stephanie “the eye,” which may mean that it’s time to get out of town.

With a cold-blooded killer after her, a handful of hot men, and a capture list that includes a dancing bear and a senior citizen vampire, Stephanie’s life looks like it’s about to go up in smoke. (goodreads.com)

I read this book in one evening, which is pretty impressive right now since I can’t seem to find any time to read. For the first time in a long time I have a whole bunch of books to review for pubs and I just can’t find the time. Ugh. (Which is why I have decided to not accept books for review now except from 3 places that I have a long-standing relationship with, but I’m being picky picky about what I accept.)

This book was so much fun. I was worried because I’d seen quite a few people say it wasn’t one of the best, but by golly, did I find it funny. From the 72-year old vampire FTA to the Mooner Bus I was laughing and laughing.

Not to mention Ranger… OH LORDY! Ranger! *swoons*

There were sexytimes galore in this book and, I might be wrong about this, but I think this is the most graphic (and that’s being generous because they weren’t graphic at all) they have ever been. There really isn’t much sex in these books, if any and so when you get a book full o’ Morelli (meh) and Ranger (is it hot in here? Or is it just me? *purr*) it was… hot. Ranger.

Hang on a second…



So, you might guess (though I don’t know how you would) that I am totally on the Ranger team in this series. I have yet to find anything all that appealing about Morelli. The man needs to grow up and go away. I don’t know why Stephanie hasn’t just moved on. I mean, I know, but still.. R-A-N-G-E-R.

’nuff said.

All the sexytimes made me totally ignore the fact that I had guessed what was going on and who the killer was right from the first time we met said person. I don’t care. I don’t read this series for super hard to figure out mysteries, I read it for the laughs, sheer entertainment value and the characters (Did I swoon over Ranger yet?).

I can’t believe this series is up to eighteen books though! I feel like it was only a handful of years ago they started. This is always going to be one of my Comfort Food books. I actually call them Mashed Potato Books because I loooooove mashed potatoes. Yum. Those will always pick me up when I am down (or sick)!

Janet Evanovich has an amazing sense of humour and it shines through with these books. The entire cast of characters make these books so entertaining.

I didn’t even crave McDonalds ONCE through this entire story, though! That’s a first I think. Thank the gods I don’t have a Cluck-in-a-Bucket or I’d be eating my weight in fried chicken with each book. Mmm.. fried chicken.



Stephanie Plum series

  1. One for the Money
  2. Two for the Dough
  3. Three to Get Deadly
  4. Four to Score
  5. High Five
  6. Hot Six
  7. Seven Up
  8. Hard Eight
  9. To the Nines
  10. Ten Big Ones
  11. Eleven on Top
  12. Twelve Sharp
  13. Lean Mean Thirteen
  14. Fearless Fourteen
  15. Finger Lickin’ Fifteen
  16. Sizzling Sixteen
  17. Smokin’ Seventeen
  18. Explosive Eighteen 

Stephanie Plum Between-the-Numbers Novellas

  1. Visions of Sugar Plums (between 8 & 9)
  2. Plum Lovin’ (between 12 & 13)
  3. Plum Lucky (between 13 & 14)
  4. Plum Spooky (between 14 & 15)