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Nicola Mansfield RSS Feed (Ontario, Canada)

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Your Lie in April 1
Your Lie in April 1
by Naoshi Arakawa
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.89
16 used & new from $6.91

5.0 out of 5 stars Music Manga, April 21, 2015
This review is from: Your Lie in April 1 (Paperback)
I was very interested in this title when I saw it was coming out and I'm thrilled I took a chance on it. It was utterly wonderful and better than I had expected. (My usual tastes are sci-fi/horror/ninja battles) A dramatic, slice of life tale with a twist. The main theme here is music. The major character Arima is a piano prodigy, but he gave it all up after his domineering strict mother died. He then meets a violin virtuoso who knows who he is/was. Kaori is unorthodox in her musical style and wants Arima to take up the piano again. But Kaori has a lot of baggage and issues associated with his playing, stemming from his upbringing, that he is going to have to deal with if he's to ever find a real passion for the music that is so much a part of him. The art here shows the music very well using all sorts of motion including body movemet and audience reaction that one gets a real sense of sound and tempo just from the illustrated page. The characters are sweet and adorable with many layers; I felt completely satisfied with them and am intrigued with where this story will go in the next volume.


Crime Seen: From Patrol Cop to Profiler, My Stories from Behind the Yellow Tape
Crime Seen: From Patrol Cop to Profiler, My Stories from Behind the Yellow Tape
by Kate Lines
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.48
49 used & new from $15.28

3.0 out of 5 stars the best part of the book was the first half, April 18, 2015
Kate Lines was the second Canadian and first Canadian woman to complete the FBI's criminal profiling course at Quantico. She started her career with the police force as a traffic cop, moved up into undercover vice, then became a detective and rose to higher positions of authority once she became a leader in profiling in Canada. She is much decorated and honoured in the profession and this is her personal story up to the present. What drew me to reading this memoir was, of course, the profiling aspect due to my interest in that field, however, the best part of the book was the first half. Kate starts off briefly with her childhood and upbringing to how her interest in police work began. Her days of training and becoming a cop follow with details of her work as a traffic cop and undercover "narc" working in the high-risk area of biker gangs. Surprisingly, I found this part terribly interesting especially finding out how the Canadian system works. (So much of what is written is from an American perspective) I thought the really good part would start once she went to Quantico and her ten months there were quite interesting but not very detailed. The rest of the book was rather disappointing as she describes profiler work matter of factly, insistently tells the reader how unlike the TV shows it is, and even though she goes over a few high profile cases including Paul Bernardo and Colonel Russell Williams they are the most boring retellings of those crimes I've ever read. Lines also has an annoying habit of taking time out to praise the police force and pat her colleagues and the entire force on the back that it made me roll my eyes and think "save it for the acknowledgements!". This back patting was an obvious strike at public image control for the police in general. So while the book wasn't as good as I'd hoped for, the writing style not overly engaging, and the author's voice on the annoying side; I did enjoy learning how these things are done in Canada and especially hearing the story of her early days as a woman in the police force. Lines is now retired and works as a private detective and consultant.


Gray Justice (A Tom Gray Novel Book 1)
Gray Justice (A Tom Gray Novel Book 1)
Price: $3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars But it sounded good and I'm glad I finally read it, April 15, 2015
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I have to admit I put off reading this for the longest time because the reviews are all over the place with ratings from 1 to 5. But it sounded good and I'm glad I finally read it. I was hooked right away and glued to my seat from the get-go. This was a can't-put-down page-turner. Certainly, it's a vigilante anti-hero vengeance story with a highly unlikely scenario and belief has to be suspended to enjoy it. The better title would have been "Gray Vengeance". I won't critique it as I could go on about what was wrong with the logic of the plot, the dialogue, the writing, etc. But in all honesty and reality, I didn't care. I loved it!!! I didn't like Tom Gray, he is morally ambiguous and not even relativistic as he knows he's doing wrong but doesn't care and thinks if he can get through the loopholes then so what. But I will definitely be returning for book 2 (which I have) as the ending was intriguing and I would love to go another round with this testosterone filled action-adventure political thriller series. Sometimes books are just a heck of a lot of fun!


Costume Quest: Invasion of the Candy Snatchers
Costume Quest: Invasion of the Candy Snatchers
by Zac Gorman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.07
54 used & new from $12.95

4.0 out of 5 stars This is an adorably cute Hallowe'en story that focuses on the creativity and ..., April 15, 2015
First, I looked up "Costume Quest" to see what it is and found that it is a game and this is the first graphic novel based on it. This is an adorably cute Hallowe'en story that focuses on the creativity and smells of the holiday rather than the scary part. Fun little adventure about bullying and friends sticking together to overcome adversary in the end. I loved the cute little monster guys and, even though there are three main characters, they had a very Sponge-Bob & Patrick type of relationship going on which was endearing. Fans of the game will like this and I should mention the book is huge, it's oversized, large. Anyway, think I'll go take a look at the game myself now. Bye, bye.


Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman Vol. 1
Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman Vol. 1
by Sean E. Williams
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.33
56 used & new from $6.57

4.0 out of 5 stars either way they are exciting and a ton of fun. Presented in the old format of comics where ..., April 15, 2015
It is unclear whether these are original stories or re-imaginings of stories that first appeared in the original Sensation Comics, either way they are exciting and a ton of fun. Presented in the old format of comics where only one to three issues contained a storyline, the stories are otherwise unrelated. Some feature Wonder Woman as an adult, some as a child, some as an established superhero, others flashback to her time on Paradise Island. Each story arc has different writers and illustrators so WW is given different looks, some as we would expect and one I found very unsettling (she looked more like Arnold Schwartzenegger). The only thing that put me off were the PSAs dropped in about three times altogether. Perhaps this is in imitation of the original Sensation Comics, if so I'm sure I would find those campy and out-dated, but the modern PSAs here are incredibly heavy-handed, eye-rolling, preachy and could be offensive if you don't agree with them. That brings my rating down to a four, otherwise I was completely captivated by the stories which included a host of popular (and not so popular) villains and a few cameos from other superheroes. Delightfully enough one of favourites appeared: Deadman!


Hellfire & Damnation II
Hellfire & Damnation II
by Connie Corcoran Wilson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.95
11 used & new from $3.94

3.0 out of 5 stars Okay, April 12, 2015
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A collection of stories based on the 9 level's of Dante's Hell. I wasn't terribly impressed with this collection. I love Dante's version of Hell and had been expecting more; perhaps more horror or terror. The stories were mediocre. Some were real duds and the majority were just ok. The last few stories were better than the earlier stories making the average rating come out to a close 3/5.

1. Cold Corpse Carnival - A man died by falling into an ice pit and is kept there frozen, eventually becoming the small town's main (only) attraction. But the 130-odd-year-old corpse is in a state of Limbo. His body may be dead, or more like in suspended animation, but his brain has been completely functional all these years and he's vowed to exact vengeance on people in general who represent the decades of people who have dishonoured his corpse all these years, Just ok. Predictable with an unsatisfying ending. Interesting premise though and I remember reading an article once about a true-life miner's body on display somewhere. (3/5)

2. The Shell - A harsh story of an old Mayan religious fanatic who kidnaps a 12yo girl for Quetzalcoatl. She's there for a few days being raped and the story is a bit hard to read but the focus turns onto the girls courage, intelligence and bravery in concentrating on how to escape. This story gives me better expectations of Wilson's writing than the previous story. (4/5)

3. Tempus Fugit: Resurrection Cemetary - Lady in a white dress ... hitchhiker ... ghost story. meh. (2/5)

4. The Champagne Chandelier - A well-written narrative of an only child who upon getting ready for her mother's funeral looks back upon her flamboyant life with five husbands. She was widowed by them all except for a divorce from one who had two children, one a daughter, the narrator's own age, who was mean, evil and tormented her for the three years their parents were together. A tale of a dysfunctional family with a spooky ending. (4/5)

5. A Spark on the Prairie - This is pure historical fiction. An ex Kiowa Indian Chief who has been shamed for his cowardice narrates the downfall of the Natives and the greediness and lies of the white man until the end when they have all been rounded up onto reservations. Lots of quotes, names and dates, and BORING. (1/5)

6. M.R.M. - Very short but when of the best-written stories so far. A hen-pecked man has been working on an invention to modify his wife back to the way she was when he met her for most of their thirty year marriage. (4/5)

7. A Bridge Too Far - Three people are in some type of music competition, maybe reality show, this night they had to form a group, write an original song, then they will perform it the next day. The bridge to the chorus is stumping the songwriter of the group, she and the lyricist can't stand the arrogant cowboy singer and at the last minute have a plan to get rid of him. Short and sweet ... make that devious. Nothing rally happens though. (2/5)

8. Letters to LeClaire - A tragic little story set in 1920 where a brother returns home to bury his only sister and last remaining relative, age 23. He finds her correspondence in the house and reads it during the night he spends with the coffin, including his own letters while determining on the morrow to find out just exactly how his sister died. I liked the atmosphere of this one. (4/5)

9. Room Service - This was funny! On the way to the BEA a humourist writer finds herself on the same plane as her agent, a woman who has never smiled in the seven years she's known her. Trying to be friendly, she's rebuffed as the agent in the seat in front of her says she needs a nap then proceeds to recline her seat back as far as possible. The anger builds inside our author until, at the hotel, she ends up killing more than one person. (5/5)

10. Oxymorons - This one is a mystery that went over well with me. A secret service guy for the possible next Republican party leader talks with a close friend about this man's recent attempt on his life, the recent "accidental" death of his wife and many of the deep dark secrets of his past. I thought I knew what was going to happen, something much more sinister than the actual ending but it was a good read. (3/5)

11. The Bureau - A longer story than the others, this is a tale of family betrayal, greed, and murder. Illegal organ transplant harvesting is the theme and once one commits their first crime the next becomes much easier, especially when you keep it all in the family. (3/5)


Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood (A World War I Tale)
Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood (A World War I Tale)
by Nathan Hale
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $11.50
70 used & new from $7.23

5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive, April 12, 2015
Wow! Impressive! Nathan Hale has successfully managed to tell the whole story of WWI in a graphic novel. Obviously not everything is covered but this is an impressive primer on the Great War: how it started, why it started, who fought who, the battles, the logistics, the chronology, how the US comes in at the end, the Russian Revolution's impact on the end of the war at the Eastern Front and the final days of how, why and when it ended. Amazing! I read a lot about the two world wars and I learned things I never really fully comprehended before from this. Hale also does something that very few author's of nonfiction books manage to do; he remains unbiased. There are a couple of pages where it looks like the Americans came in and basically cleaned up the mess and won the war for everybody but Hale's multi-pov shows it wasn't that simple.

A couple of things make this book different from the others in the series so far. First, it is very in-depth and I'd recommend it for older ages than the previous books simply because of the level of information. It'd even be great for teenagers studying WWI at school to read for fun and get a better understanding of the war as a whole. However, Hale does, of course, make the book accessible to his intended younger audience for this series by using animal characters in the vein of Spiegelman's "Maus". Each nationality is represented by an animal taken from the country's flag, shield or heritage, ie. Russia are bears, Germany are eagles and the British are bulldogs. Using this technique is controversial, in that some readers do not appreciate its use in nonfiction and Hale brilliantly addresses this by having two of the main characters, Nathan Hale and the Executioner, being of each opinion; debating and commenting on its use throughout the book. Finally, the riotous humour from the previous books is gone. It's still funny, but the scope of the book is so large it doesn't contain the outrageousness we've come to expect but rather a more toned down levity. I'm thoroughly impressed with the book though.

Book 5 comes out at the end of this month (April 2015) and will go back in time to the 1800s and tell us the story of Harriet Tubman. I'm really looking forward to it as I live very close to her church here in Canada and can't wait to see how Hale handles her narcolepsy.


Last of the Sandwalkers
Last of the Sandwalkers
by Jay Hosler
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.74
46 used & new from $6.24

3.0 out of 5 stars Insect Fantasy Quest for the Entomology Enthusiast, April 10, 2015
This is a big book at over 300 pages with a lot of text. At first, I found it hard to get into. The anthropomorphic insects (beetles to be precise) are the main characters in this animal fantasy quest. The misfit scientific beetles are positive there is more to their world than the 'oasis' where they live which is strictly run under the precepts of the god Scarabus, generally maintained and controlled by the order of the Scarabi. These rogues out on their quest to discover if other life forms exist and find sabotage and treachery amongst themselves. They are a motley crew with high scientific knowledge and each beetle species has special skills and talents useful to the expedition which eventually turns into a rescue mission. The more I read the more I settled into the story and certainly found the characterization the main element that kept me entertained. They are a lovable bunch with human emotions and personalities, even the robot. Throughout the book, the author manages to import factual information about beetles and entomology as the story progresses. Sometimes this works seamlessly, other times it felt a bit like a timeout for a lesson. I can't say I personally am too keen on learning anything about beetles or insects in general (except how they are used in forensics LOL) so I found the book fun and entertaining in parts and that it dragged and lost my attention in others. It would certainly appeal to the amateur entomologist and would make a great impact used within a science curriculum. The end of the book is full of copious page by page factual scientific annotations. Definitely worth adding to a library collection.


If I Die Before I Wake : The Flu Epidemic Diary of Fiona Macgregor, Toronto, Ontario, 1918
If I Die Before I Wake : The Flu Epidemic Diary of Fiona Macgregor, Toronto, Ontario, 1918
by Jean Little
Edition: Hardcover
28 used & new from $27.84

5.0 out of 5 stars Heartwrenching, April 10, 2015
Jean Little's contributions to this series are exceptional and "If I Die Before I Wake" is no different. Little portrays life in 1918 Toronto vividly. The Spanish Flu Pandemic is, of course, the main theme but various other topics are also explored: the last year of WWI, Armistice Day, class distinctions, women doctors and the growing changes in women's freedom. General everyday life is explored deeply showing the great conveniences now available since the parent/grandparent's Victorian days and the hardships the reader will notice compared with modern day's easy use of technology. Fiona introduces us to her unique family consisting of multiple twins, widowed father and Aunt caretaker bringing great character development and a charming, lovely household that we grieve with when the obvious death(s) occur(s). I was surprised though because I thought clues were being given that a certain character would be the one who perished and I, thankfully!, was wrong. The book is better given to the older age range of this series (8-12) due to the amount of death and descriptions of the disease. The ending is satisfying enough but the usual epilogue which tells what happened to the characters after the book was unusually depressing. Also includes some good photographs at the end, though more seem to be from Alberta & Manitoba than Toronto, where the book is set.


Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Donner Dinner Party
Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Donner Dinner Party
by Nathan Hale
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $11.59
73 used & new from $5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Favourite!, April 10, 2015
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I have to say this is my absolute favourite of the NHHT series so far! I have to say I was quite curious how he was going to keep the humour going with such a topic as the Donner Party. But just read the title and you can tell he takes an irreverent stance to keep this book funny, and probably the funniest of the lot. The author does become irreverent but, as a Catholic, I never thought he went over the line. It's a difficult subject to discuss without being judgemental and Hale has managed it. In fact, he's gone the other direction and suggests that cannibalism was/is a normal human response under such dire circumstances. But only one of his main characters feels this way, the other two have the normal human response of disgust. I think he's done the Donner Party justice and treated them respectfully. He doesn't focus on the cannibalism (hardly even using the word) but on the whole journey, the pig-headedness of Reed in using the shortcut and the final survival and rescue. In fact, we come away from the book just realizing how many actually safely made it home and the acts of bravery that some members unthinkingly committed. Of course, the story is full of violence and murder too. Just make sure you know this story well before handing it to a young or sensitive child and while I thoroughly enjoyed the humour I would caution that some may find this topic unsettling or offensive in this comedic setting. I love this series! On to book 4!


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