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Ramblings by Category

Ramblings by Year


by Catherine McKenzie

When a married man suffers a sudden fatal accident, two women are shattered—his wife and someone else’s—and past secrets, desires and regrets are brought to light

While walking home from work one evening, Jeff Manning is struck by a car and killed. Not one but two women fall to pieces at the news: his wife, Claire, and his co-worker Tish. Reeling from her loss, Claire must comfort her grieving son and contend with funeral arrangements, well-meaning family members and the arrival of Jeff’s estranged brother—her ex-boyfriend—Tim.

With Tish’s co-workers in the dark about her connection to Jeff outside the workplace, she volunteers to attend the funeral on the company’s behalf, but only she knows the true risk of inserting herself into the wreckage of Jeff’s life. Told through the three voices of Jeff, Tish and Claire, Hidden explores the complexity of relationships, our personal choices and the responsibilities we have to the ones we love. (goodreads.com)

I have professed my love for Catherine McKenzie’s novels many times on this blog. (Spin; Arranged; Forgotten – with Spin being my all time favourite!)  I was surprised – and disappointed in myself for not knowing about this – that her new novel was released this summer. Hidden hit the stores in July and although I happened to physically be in a store when the book should have been on the shelf, it wasn’t there. Don’t you just hate that?

Imagine my delight when I received an email from HarperCollins Canada about an actual, honest to goodness BOOK EVENT in Montreal. In Montreal! Yay! The event was for the Summer Escapes event which featured many great summer reads, two of which were written by Montreal authors – Catherine herself and Isabelle Laflèche (J’Adore Paris). I was excited for many reasons – we were finally having a pretty decent book event in Montreal, I would get to meet Catherine McKenzie in person (finally) and I would get to meet Shannon from HCC and The Savvy Reader who has been such a great person to get to know as I have been blogging.

Left: Shannon & I // Right: Catherine & I

Now! About Hidden!

Told from three points of view – some in the present and some in the past, this book is the story of a man who is killed in a car accident and leaves behind two grieving women – his wife and his (married) girlfriend. I am not a huge fan of cheating stories, but I was compelled to read this one only because it brought up a question that I always wondered about. Ever since those miners were trapped in a mine in… Spain (?) and one man’s wife and girlfriend found out about each other while he was trapped (lucky him, probably safer that way)… I have always thought, “Wow, it must be insane to find something like that out in the middle of a trauma. Who would do such a thing!?”

Obviously Catherine McKenzie wondered this too, because she wrote a book about it. 😉

I couldn’t tell you what character I liked throughout the story. I didn’t think much of Jeff – I’m just not someone who can justify or tolerate cheating. I didn’t much care for Tish, the girlfriend, either. She just didn’t click with me. Not that Claire, the wife, was all that great of a person either. Hmm, if I am being honest, I didn’t really connect with ANY of the characters but oddly, I didn’t dislike the story.

I know! It does happen occasionally where I’m not all that into the characters but I enjoy the story. Sometimes a good story doesn’t need you to want to be BFFs with the people in it. It can happen. Trust me. 😉

There is something about Catherine McKenzie’s writing that connects with me though. Deeply. It’s almost as if she writes the way I talk to myself. (OK, that sounds odd but I don’t know how else to explain it!) Her words are…familiar? Comfortable? Her writing makes me happy – regardless of the subject matter and the sense of humour in the books seems to be similar to mine.

ANYHOW… Hidden is yet another wonderful novel from Catherine McKenzie and although probably the most dark and emotional of her novels, it still managed to tug at my heart-strings and make me think about things. (Like, if I ever find out my husband has a girlfriend if something happens to him, I will be VERY, VERY cross with him. *glare*)

Forgotten – US Release & Guest Post by Catherine McKenzie

FORGOTTEN by Catherine McKenzie was finally released in the US this month. You may recall my  gushing over this book back in May, but here’s a refresher on what it’s about.

Emma Tupper is a dedicated lawyer with a bright future. But when she takes a month-long leave of absence to go on an African vacation, she ends up facing unexpected consequences. After she falls ill and spends six months trapped in a remote village thanks to a devastating earthquake, Emma returns home to discover that her friends, boyfriend, and colleagues thought she was dead—and that her life has moved on without her.

As she struggles to re-create her old life, throwing herself into solving a big case for a client and trying to reclaim her beloved apartment from the handsome photographer who assumed her lease, everyone around her thinks she should take the opportunity to change. But is she willing to sacrifice her job, her relationships, and everything else she worked so hard to build.

In Forgotten, Catherine McKenzie tweaks a classic tale of discovering who we really are when everything that brings meaning to our lives is lost. (HarperCollins)

Because I’m a huge fan of Catherine McKenzie’s novels I jumped at the chance to help promote the US release of her third novel. Long-time readers of my blog know I don’t do guest posts or blog tours, so when you see one you know it’s because I am very passionate about the author and the book.

If you have read any of Catherine’s novels you might have noticed she has a knack for writing lists of things (in a humourous way!) and her novels are very music/song title heavy (which I adore!). I think Catherine and I might have been separated at birth by our love of the same obscure songs (Hello, One Headlight by the Wallflowers!) or maybe it’s just part of the genetic make up of having the name Catherine. Who knows. But because of the lists and music obsessions I thought it would be cool to ask Ms. McKenzie to supply us with her OWN list for our reading (and listening!) pleasure.

I shall now pass it over to my fellow Montrealer, author extraordinare, Catherine McKenzie! *drum roll*


Q. Top 10 songs to listen to when you find out you’ve been forgotten or considered missing & dead:

Mmmm. Wallowing or up-songs? Tough choice. How about:

  1. U2: I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For – mood music for the whole experience, I’d think.
  2. Warren Zevon: Keep Me In Your Heart – because if you weren’t already crying, this would help. Plus it’s the kind song you’d pick to have people play at your funeral if you were one of those kinds of people.
  3. Shawn Mullins: You Mean Everything to Me – see song 2.
  4. Sarah Harmer: I’m a Mountain – okay! Enough wallowing. Time to find some resilience in the words of others.
  5. Eric Hutchinson: OK, It’s Alright With Me – Ibid.
  6. Ryan Adams: Easy Plateau – sometimes you’ve got to even things out.
  7. Pearl Jam: Just Breathe – sometimes that’s easier said than done.
  8. Pink: I Have Seen the Rain – sometimes you just need to wallow.
  9. Natash Bedingfield: These Words (I Love You, I Love You, I Love You) – sometimes you’ve got to dance around your apartment singing at the top of your lungs.
  10. Matt Nathanson: Answering Machine – and sometimes you just need to listen to a great song.


With this list, Catherine McKenzie managed to totally negate my statement that we had the same musical tastes because I only know two of those ten songs! (How do I not know that P!nk song?? I must look into this!)

So I will be checking out all of these songs and perhaps making myself a Forgotten playlist on my iPhone. What about you? What do you think your playlist would sound like if you realized that you were presumed dead and people had forgotten about you?

And I am serious, this novel is the bomb diggity and you should go out and get yourself a copy! You will laugh, you will ponder life’s questions, laugh some more and cry and just feel all of the feels by the end. Go on. Do it. You know you want to!

And in case you forgot (heh) what the Canadian edition cover looks like, I have kindly added it here at the bottom of this post to help jog your memory. 😉

Thanks mega to Catherine McKenzie and HarperCollins (US) for letting me gush about a favourite author again!

Janes in Love

Janes in Love
by Cecil Castellucci / Jim Rugg

In this sequel to “The Plain Janes,” the Janes are back. But when the Janes become entangled in matters of the heart, they discover that in art and in love, the rules don’t always apply. (goodreads.com)

It’s been ages since I read The Plain Janes, and I could never find this sequel anywhere. Sometime last fall I happened to see it while we were in our local comic book shop picking something up, so I bought it! I was thrilled!

And then I couldn’t find it anywhere and I forgot all about it.

Cut to this past weekend when my husband was vacuuming (because if I do it, I throw things around. Don’t know why, but vacuuming just enrages me. Irrationally.) and he moved the cedar chest in the living room and found a plastic bag. In this bag was my book! It must have fallen under the chest one day and since we don’t really move it around much, I never even noticed.

I picked this up and quickly read through it. It’s sort of a cheating way to get my Goodreads challenge numbers up. Heh. Also, I had really wanted to read this one!

Now, I have seen reviews of this graphic novel that say the first one was better, but you know something? I think I liked Janes in Love  better than The Plain Janes. Heck, this novel even made me sort of tear up near the end. When Jane’s mother comes out of the house, when Jane gets the art grant, the ending. It was just very moving to me. It could be because I have been having some wicked serious PMS the last week or so, but this story actually spoke to me more-so that the first.

Looking back at my post on The Plain Janes  I find it funny that I didn’t like Original Jane all that much, when I quite adored her in this segment of the story. I didn’t care for Theatre Jane this time around. Oh the difference time and situation can have on a book!

It was also neat to learn from Cecil Castellucci back in the fall that both this and the first Jane graphic novel were meant to be one story together. I like the split though. It’s also sad that they aren’t published anymore… or at least something was supposed to happen. My brain is mush right now.

If you’re into graphic novels and you haven’t checked these two out yet – if you see them, pick them up. I especially adore the art. I am picky when it comes to art and animation style, but this one is right up my alley!


by Catherine McKenzie

When everyone thinks you’re dead, how do you start your life over again?

Emma Tupper, a young lawyer with a bright future, sets out on a journey after her mother’s death: to Africa, a place her mother always wanted to visit. But her mother’s dying gift has unexpected consequences. Emma falls ill during the trip and is just recovering when a massive earthquake hits, turning her one-month vacation into a six-month ordeal.

When Emma returns home, she’s shocked to find that her friends and colleagues believed she was dead, that her apartment has been rented to a stranger and that her life has gone on without her. Can Emma pick up where she left off? Should she? As Emma struggles to recreate her old life, everyone around her thinks she should change – her job, her relationships, and even herself. But does she really want to sacrifice everything she’s working so hard to gain? (goodreads.com)

There’s nothing happier than discovering an author you love and then realizing their next book is about to come out after having read everything else they’ve written at one time. This is how I feel about Catherine McKenzie. I am actually embarrassed to admit it took being contacted by the US publisher to get me to  fall in love with her, when I’d been looking at and wanting to check out her first novel Spin since it came out here years ago. After devouring both Spin and Arranged, I made sure to pick up McKenzie’s latest (in Canada), Forgotten as soon as it came out!

I read this book cover to cover on the train ride back home from visiting my parents in their new place. The train ride was just under 3 hours and even with the occasional break to check email, facebook, twitter, take photos (etc… ADD brain that I have) I still managed to finish the book just as we were about to pull into the station in Montreal.

Reading three books by the same author in (almost) a row, certainly makes it easy to figure out the similarities in writing. All three books are individual, though they also have a sneaky little one-liner per story that keeps a continuity. I won’t say more because I like finding those “easter eggs” in the stories myself. The similarities in the story telling are obviously what draws me to the books. It’s the humour and flawed main characters that keep me coming back.

That being said, I think Forgotten really had an interesting premise. What happens to someone when the come back home after being gone for months without any contact? What happens when you come home and realized you’ve been thought dead? Emma’s life sort of begins anew and she gets that second chance that so many people wish they could have.

Forgotten isn’t as heavy on the humour as Spin or Arranged but it’s still in there. The humour is subtle though, it doesn’t hit you over the head. It’s just a sort of “you know, life can be funny” kind of humour. The kind of humour you’d find with a spouse (my husband and I are always cracking up in the grocery store. It’s weird but it’s true) or a best friend. It’s finding the humour in any situation, because there most always is some.

I’m going to have to suck it up and admit that these books can (and do) fall under the Chick Lit umbrella. They are happy little love stories that if brought to life on a movie screen would likely star Sandra Bullock or Hugh Grant. One of those. But smarter and fun. At the same time, they are Sarah Addison Allen-ish and I don’t like to call those Chick Lit either.

Whatever the label, Forgotten is a great story full of sweet moments and fun characters. Catherine McKenzie is now officially one of my favourite authors – and she gets bonus points for being a local, Canadian author, too. 😉


by Catherine McKenzie

Anne Blythe has a great life: a good job, good friends, and a potential book deal for her first novel. When it comes to finding someone to share it with, however, she just can’t seem to get it right.

After yet another relationship ends, Anne comes across a business card for what she thinks is a dating service, and she pockets it just in case. When her best friend, Sarah, announces she’s engaged, Anne can’t help feeling envious. On an impulse, she decides to give the service a try because maybe she could use a little assistance in finding the right man. But Anne soon discovers the company isn’t a dating service; it’s an exclusive, and pricey, arranged marriage service. She initially rejects the idea, but the more she thinks about it-and the company’s success rate-the more it appeals to her. After all, arranged marriages are the norm for millions of women around the world, so why wouldn’t it work for her?

A few months later, Anne is travelling to a Mexican resort, where in one short weekend she will meet and marry Jack. And against all odds, it seems to be working out-until Anne learns that Jack, and the company that arranged their marriage, are not what they seem at all. (goodreads.com)

Having ADORED Catherine McKenzie’s Spin earlier this year, I was more than happy to agree to review her latest US release on my blog. Her being a Montreal author made me want to support her from the start, but the love affair I had with Spin just made me want to promote the heck out of her even more.

I will say right off that I did not love this book nearly as much as I did Spin but I did enjoy it greatly.  Face it, there are very few books that ever reach that euphoric level of love with me like Spin did, so I’m not being negative about Arranged.

Catherine McKenzie has a sort of Sarah Addison Allen-esque way with characters. Characters that are real and tangible. Characters that have flaws but are still charming and warm. McKenzie’s stories have a lot of humour to them, too. Anne Blythe comes off the pages as funny and endearing through her inner monologues and outer dialogues with the other characters in the book.

I finished this book feeling happy. Happiness isn’t something that I have been feeling a lot of lately, but Arranged left me content and relaxed. I could see this book being one of those sappy, rom-com movies that you’d force your man to, but you’d probably both end up enjoying it. I know there are only so many ways to say that this book is funny and charming, but I can’t stop saying it because it’s 100% true.

Catherine McKenzie is officially an authors that I will always buy a book from in the future. She’s up there with Sarah Addison Allen but she gets extra points for being a Montrealer. 😉