Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Tales of Beedle The Bard - J.K. Rowling



My mother picked this book up for me for Christmas and I absolutely loved it. It is a tiny book by the author of Harry Potter. There are five bedtime stories written for young wizards and witches. They are like our "Muggle" fairy tales like Sleeping Beauty and The Three Little Pigs except with magical morals and messages!

The one thing I absolutely loved about this book was the commentary about each story at the end by Albus Dumbledore. It made me laugh and made me remember how much I loved being immersed in the world of Harry Potter. I wish I had never read any of the Harry Potter novels so that I could read them for the first time all over again!

There is not too much to say about this book - I don't want to give anything away from these short stories. I just recommend this quick read if you love Harry Potter and need something to lift your spirits!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Spanish Bow - Andromeda Romano Lax



I had this book on my list now for a couple of months now and had heard some great things about it from reading other bloggers reviews. This book is historical fiction that revolves around music and the world wars.

Amazon.com says “Feliu Delargo, an underprivileged child prodigy whose musical ability brings him into contact with world leaders, first-class artists and a life filled with loss and triumph. Their father killed in Cuba just before the Spanish-American War, Feliu, his three brothers and one sister manage a meager life in Campo Seco, a small Catalan town, while their strong-willed mother fends off suitors. At 14, Feliu and his mother travel to Barcelona, where a cello tutor agrees to take on Feliu as a student. Over the years, as Feliu establishes himself, he crosses path with Justo Al-Cerra, an egotistical, manipulative pianist, and their touring leads to an intertwining of lives that becomes more complicated when they encounter Aviva, a violinist with her own emotional damage. As the trio tour and Europe careens toward WWII, Romano-Lax weaves into the narrative historical figures from Spanish royalty to Franco and Hitler, giving Feliu the opportunity to ponder the roles of morality in art and art in politics.”

I found this book a bit hard to get into. Perhaps it was the music aspect of it that I found a bit tedious or it could have been that I did not relate to any of the characters in the novel. Usually I really enjoy reading books set in the late 1800’s/early 1900’s and I was surprised that I found this book a struggle. I did love the beginning of the novel that describes Feliu’s birth and how his name was changed from Feliz (as his mother had wanted). The book seemed to fall a bit flat for me after that and I found myself often looking at the pages I had left, wishing I was closer to the end. I hate when I have this feeling around books that I am initially excited for. I think that if I was a lover of classical music I would have found this book more appealing as it is based on somewhat true events. The description of Feliu’s love of music is wonderful and made me wish I had a passion that intense. Well maybe I do – books!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Pretty Dead Things - Barbara Nadel



Another exciting murder-mystery/crime fiction set in Istanbul by British author Barbara Nadel. I had found her books when I was living in Turkey and was really happy to find one of her books in the library in Yellowknife. This book is a newer novel in the Inspector Ikmen series. Inspector Ikmen is one of the best policeman Istanbul has to offer - but he seems to always be involved in solving bizarre crimes and relying on the intuition that his mother (a local self proclaimed witch) has given him.

According to Amazon.com "When Emine Aksu, the flamboyant wife of an Istanbul style guru, suddenly goes missing, Inspector Cetin Ikmen's investigation leads him deep into her strange and colourful past. Emine was a hippie when she was younger, who wholeheartedly enjoyed the liberated lifestyle that swept across Istanbul in the sixties. Her husband suspects that she was visiting an old friend at the time of her disappearance. Meanwhile, Inspector Mehmet Suleyman is called to a terrifying scene at the art deco Kamondo Stairs in the old banking district of Karakoy. The skeleton of a woman has been discovered in one of the large plant containers. Could these two bizarre incidents be linked?"

The first thing I noticed about this book was the cover. There is a beautiful shot of a mosque in Istanbul and it reminded me of my trip to the Blue Mosque with my mother last summer. Living in the North now (where -40 is a normal winter temperature) has made me miss the warmth and the ancient beauty of Turkey. I love the characters in these books and they get more and more interesting after every new novel. The mysteries of Turkey are so different then ones that could happen in North America; maybe thats why I am so interested in them - like the underground tunnels and cisterns. This was a good and easy read and I am looking forward to the next Barbara Nadel book to come my way!

Rating - 3

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tooth and Nail - Ian Rankin



This is the third Ian Rankin novel I have read in the Inspector Rebus series....but I feel like I have read so many more then that. I feel like that is a sign of a great series. In this novel Rebus is called down to London to help on the Wolfman case - a case where women are being viciously murdered and there stomachs being bitten open. Rebus has a tough time down in London - some cops are not happy to have an outsider, while others just seem not to be able to understand a word he says! This novel has a great chase scene as well as some graphic autopsy depictions. There is an interesting Canadian character in this book - I always love when there are some Canadians in my favorite novels.

I love Rebus more and more with each novel. I am kicking myself for not reading these books when I was in Edinburgh this summer. Especially because he did a reading at the book festival I was at and I didn't attend it because I didn't know who he was! My downstairs neighbour read this just before i did so we had a nice chat about it afterwards. I love when people have read the same books as I have recently and want to talk about them. I think I may have to start a bookclub here - it would was soooo much fun in Seoul and I made some amazing friends.

I don't have anymore Rebus books to read for the next little while - I guess I will be ordering from Amazon.com soon. I still have so many books on my shelf to read - over 65 to get to. I know I should stop buying (and stop going to the library) but its really harder then it seems. CHristmas is coming as well - who knows what nice presents I will receive in book form!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Skylight Confessions - Alice Hoffman




This book made me sad. I don’t believe it was a good choice for me to read at this time, especially going through some of the personal stuff I am going through. I started reading it Saturday morning for the Read-A-Thon I was participating in and got through the first part (about 100 pages) and started feeling pretty down. Books affect me sometimes like that. My mood can be altered by what I am reading and this one sure did bring me down. I actually didn’t read anything else for a few days afterwards until I got up the nerve to finish it.

Amazon.com gives this description of Skylight Confessions, “On the day of her father's funeral, 17-year-old Arlyn Singer decides the first man who walks down the street will be her one love. That night, Yale senior John Moody stops to ask directions, and Arlyn and John take the first passionate steps toward what will become a marriage of heartache and mutual betrayal.”

I absolutely hated John Moody. I hated how he took his wife and children for granted…or maybe that is not even the right word because he did not pay attention to anyone of them enough to even notice they were there. Books about one person loving another more and marriages that are filled with one sided love always get to me. They make me feel like there is no hope and how does a person find someone else who will love them as much as they do.

This was a well written book and I found some of the other characters really interesting. I just wish the book had turned out differently and that there wasn’t so much heartbreak in it. I guess if I am looking for a feel good book I have to go back to some chick-lit novels!

Rating - 3

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Another Read A Thon!



Today I am going to try and participate in the Read A Thon that Dreadlock girl is hosting (http://www.dreadlockgirl.com/2009/10/readathon) I have quite a few books to finish up before this year is through and today is a perfect opportunity to to that. I have some things I need to do this afternoon but I should be able to get a good morning of reading in and finish a book or two!

So good luck to everyone participating!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Dead To The World - CHarlaine Harris



It took a few good nights to finish the fourth installment of the Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood) series. It didn't take me that long because it was hard to get through or because I didn't enjoy it - it took me so long because I wanted it to last. After watching the first season of True Blood, I find reading the books so amazing because it is like watching the movie in my head! I know what the characters look like (and have made up the ones I don't) so sometimes reading a chapter is like watching an episode!

The fourth installment has Sookie watching over Eric, the head vampire for the district because he has lost his memory and there are some bad witches on the lookout for him. Sookie's brother Jason also goes missing and we know that there probably is some supernatural reasoning for it! This book is a bit different from the others because Bill isn't a major player in them. There are new characters - including a sexy fairy - that come into pay and we start to see how many supernatural beings are really out there besides vampires and warewolves. There is lots of humor, blood and in this book quite a bit more sex then the others.

I am going on a trip to New Orleans in the new year so I am super excited to eat some of Louisiana's finest food that they are always speaking about in these books. I wonder if I will see any vampires lurking around through the streets? After Interview With A Vampire (and other Anne Rice books) and now True Blood - I bet I m not the first to go to Louisiana with that question on my mind!

Rating - 5

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Little Bee - Chris Cleave



I had a great time reading this book. I have been really stressed lately and haven't had a lot of time for reading so when I decided to go get a pedicure, I brought a long this book that I picked up that day at the library. I sat in a lovely massaging chair for almost 2 hours and read 75% of the book and then finished it up when I got home. It was a really easy read but heartbreaking at the same time.

According to the book jacket I should not give away what the book is about - just tell people to read it. So that is what I am going to do. When I started the book I had no idea what it was about but the moment I began it, I knew that it was going to be amazing. What I will say is that the characters are interesting and complex and the story is set between 2 countries and different people. This is one story that will make you think about your own life and how your choices can effect other people. It also makes you realize how strong people are and how there are some people who can get through anything - not only surviving but helping others along the way.

Since I don't want to give to much away I will finish by saying; Read this book, its pretty darn good!

Rating - 4

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Distant Echo - Val McDermid



This book took me a while to read - not because it wasn't good, just because I have been going through some personal drama and when this type of thing happens I have a really hard time concentrating. It actually took me almost 3 weeks to finish this book but I am certainly glad I did.

According to amazon.com "Set in 1978 in St. Andrews, Scotland, four drunken male students, friends since childhood, stumble over the raped and stabbed body of a dying woman, Rosie Duff, while staggering home through a snow storm. Though her violent brothers are convinced of their guilt, no one is charged with Rosie's murder. In part two, 25 years later, the police hope new forensic technologies will solve the crime, and suddenly someone is stalking the four men, whose lives have been haunted and their relationships changed by the murder. Two die, supposedly by accident, and the remaining pair, Alex Gilbey and Tom Mackie, must find out what happened before they're killed, too. James Lawson, an assistant chief constable who was a junior cop in 1978, wants to close the case and avenge the death of his admired superior, DI Barney Maclennan, who fell from a cliff during the initial inquiry. When Graham Macfadyen, who claims he's Rosie's illegitimate son and also seeking revenge, contacts Lawson, the investigation takes a startling turn."

There is a lot to this book and it was definitely a page turner. I liked how half of the novel was set in 1978 and the rest in 2004. It broke the book up quite nicely and allowed us to see who the characters grew to be. I also liked how all the characters were so different and even though they grew up to be people they would probably not choose to be friends with -they still were friends when it came down to it. I think that is pretty true to life, sometimes you make friends you will have forever and those seem to be the ones you want when bad stuff is going down.

All of Val McDermid books are good. I have enjoyed everyone I have read. I have yet to read any of her series' but am looking forward to them in the future.

Rating - 3

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Wedding - Nicholas Sparks



This book is the sequel to "The Notebook". If anyone has read The Notebook they will no how heart-wrenchingly sad it is and hopefully love it as much as I did. This sequel is not as good but lives up to the Nicholas Sparks reputation. When I picked this book up I had no idea that was a (somewhat) continuation of The Notebook.

According to amazon.com "Attorney Wilson Lewis has been married to Noah and Allie's daughter, Jane, for 30 years. Wilson and Jane have raised three children and lived a satisfying and prosperous life in the bucolic town of New Bern, N.C. After forgetting his anniversary, Wilson realizes that the passion and romance have gone out of his marriage and fears his wife no longer loves him. Being a methodical man, he decides to embark on a yearlong program to renew his romantic ties to his wife, seeking out the advice of Noah, who now spends his days in a retirement home feeding a swan he is sure is the reincarnation of his beloved Allie. In the midst of Wilson's machinations, his daughter Anna announces she is getting married. The upcoming wedding provides Wilson with the opportunity to bring his elaborate plan to fruition."

This was a sweet book. It was interesting to read about the rekindling of a romance late in life. I loved how this book goes from when Wilson first meets Jane 30 years ago to where they are in their lives now. It was wonderful to see how much he loves her - even tough he has let her down in the past. I also love how the book acknowledges how difficult it was for Wilson to live up to the expectations that Jane had for him in the ways of love and romance (remember she did have Noah and Allie to look at as examples). Some people are just not able to express love as freely as others - even if they love the other person deeply.

The romance in this book was beautiful. I loved reading it and it made me smile so many times. Nicholas Sparks writes lovely books and I hope they make this one into a movie!

Monday, November 2, 2009

October Recap

I did a bit of reading this month and have to admit that I quite enjoyed many of the books I read. I read 11 books this month and they can be broken down like this:
2 Non fiction
9 Fiction
4 Murder Mysteries
1 Teen
2 Chick Lit
1 Humor Fiction
1 Newfoundland Fiction

Here they are:
Hide and Seek – Ian Rankin
The Shape of Snakes - Minette Walters
Breaking Dawn - Stephanie Meyer
Never Say Die - Tess Gerritsen
The Stupidest Angel - Christopher Moore
Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's - John Elder Robison
Knots and Crosses - Ian Rankin
Certain Girls - Jennifer Weiner
Sylvanus Now - Donna Morrissey
Handle With Care - Jodi Picoult
The Mole People - Jennifer Toth

I really enjoyed the Ian Rankin novels, as well as Sylvanus Now. I would have to say my favorite was The Shape of Snakes and I really didn’t have a least favorite this month. I enjoyed reading them all for different reasons. I didn’t really read many culturally diverse novels (unless you can count Scottish and Newfound) so I hope to read some fiction from other countries in the month of November.

This month I have 2 weeks of Child Protection training (I am a social worker) so I will be studying more then reading. I hope to read 8 books this month. A few on my list are:

The Savage Detectives – Roberto Bolano (I have started this already and have to finish it)
An Imperfect Offering – James Orbinski (also started and need to finish)
The Spanish Bow - Andromeda Romano-Lax
Tooth and Nail – Ian Rankin
The Wedding – Nicholas Sparks
Skylight Confessions – Alice Hoffman
Pretty Dead things – Barbara Nadel

Has anyone read any of these? And if so what did you think??

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hide and Seek - Ian Rankin



This is the second book in the Inspector Rebus series. I read it in a few sittings and enjoyed it as much as the first one - maybe even more. This book involves Inspector Rebus investigating the overdose of a young homeless man living in a squat. Rebus decides there is something off about the overdoes and that maybe it was murder. This book involves satanism, dog fights, sex and corruption - what more could you ask for in a book! I don't want to say much more because it is never fun to read a mystery book where you already know too much information.

I don't know what it is that I like so much about this series. I know that I do like Inspector Rebus and find his character to be one of the most engaging that I have seen in a long time. I love that he is a reader and a drinker and (tries to be) a lover of woman and won't stop a case until he gets to the bottom of things. As I have said before - the setting of Edinburgh is phenomenal. It is such a great place for a murder mystery. I just wish that I had read one of these books when I was visiting the city. I feel like I would have looked at the city a bit differently - perhaps looking for corruption and murder at every turn!

I have the third in the series (which I got from the library today) and have given it to a friend to read first. I want to give myself a bit of time before I jump into another Inspector Rebus novel. Maybe a week should be enough!

Rating - 4

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Shape of Snakes - Minette Walters



I LOVED this book.
Rarely do I begin a review like that but since finishing it last night it was all I could think about. I had read this British author previously and enjoyed the book but I was not expecting the range of emotions from this novel. The book is about a woman named Mrs. Ranelagh, a woman who was 24 in 1978 and lived on a street that was filled with racists, adulturers and abusers. There was also a woman on the street named Annie Butts - Annie was the only black woman on the street and everyone thought she was crazy. Annie is found dead on the sidewalk one night by Mrs. Ranelagh - and Mrs. Ranelagh suspects she was murdered. Nothing seems to add up in the police reports or with the threats she is recieving for even mentioning that she suspected Annie of being murdered. Her own husband turns away from her and Mrs. Ranelagh makes a choice to give up her crusade to save her marriage and her own sanity. Now it is the year 2000 and Mrs. Ranelagh is going to find out who killed Annie and find justice for Annie and herself.

It sounds a bit far fetched but it was so so so good! Be warned - there are some major scenes of animal cruelty, violence towards woman and children and racism. Some parts were hard to read but the story left me guessing. There was so much more each chapter that you read. The ending gave me goose bumps and made me feel so sad inside. It tied everything up nicely and answered the one question that I had throughout the book - why did Mrs. Ranelagh care so much about a woman she hardly knew.

I love British crime fiction. It might be my new favorite genre - there are so many authors to look for and the ones I have read have been so well written. I can;t wait to head back to the library tomorrow!

Rating - 4

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Breaking Dawn - Stephanie Meyer




I waited a while before picking the last book in the Twilight series up. I read the first three books last year when I was living in Turkey. A few friends of mine told me that they really didn't like this last one and told me what had happened in the finale. Usually I hate when people tell me what happens in a book - well actually I never usually let anyone tell me what happens (I cover my ears!). This time though I found myself disinterested in the Twilight series and wasn't sure if I was going to read anymore. But I saw it at the library a few weeks ago and decided I should give it a go.

I won't tell too much about what happened because I don't want to give anything away. Pretty much everything is a surprise in this book. Bella and Edward get married. That is pretty much the only thing I can say without giving away the story. They book was good. I sat down yesterday and almost made it through the whole thing. I really enjoyed it and can say I liked it as much as I liked the second one New Moon. I loved that Jacob Black had his own section (he is my favorite character - actually the only character I like at all really).

I think I like the movies better then I like the books of this series - that rarely happens. I cannot wait until the next movie comes out - I guess I still have a bit of a teenage girl in me looking for that eternal romance!

Rating - 3

Read-A-Thon Over!

I totally fell asleep at Hour 19. Couldn't keep my eyes open for a single moment longer. I am a little sad about this Read-A-Thon. I didn't get as much reading done as I wanted.

Total Pages: 652 pages
Almost finished Breaking Dawn but didn't quite make it. With only about 100 pages left I fought hard to keep my eyes open for the last of them. But then figured if I kept reading I probably wouldn't even remember what I read at all.

Thanks for all the well wishes. I really appreciate it. I love the Read-A-Thon and can't wait until April for the next one!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Read-A-Thon Hour 14.5

Well I am yet to finish a book but I did sit down and read 515 pages of Breaking Dawn. I have to go out on another work call but I plan to finish this book as soon as I get back (only 250 pages to go!). Then I hope to move on to either the Ian Rankin novel or the Doctor Who book. I think my dreams of 3 books has been dashed. But any is better then none, right?

Read-A-Thon Hour (Almost) 11

SO I got home from my call out for work and put on some supper and have read the first part of Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer. I am about 150 pages in and I am really really interested in it! I heard that this book was pretty bad but I thought since I read all the other Twilight books that I needed to read this one as well. I am glad I didn't listen to everyone else. I am checking out a few blogs now while my chili is heating up and then back to the books!!

Read-A-Thon Hour 7.5

So I am pretty much sucking at this Read-A-Thon. A woman from work just came over for an hour to talk about a problem and I couldn't really turn her away and say "Can you come back tomorrow? I have this Read-A-Thon that I need to keep up with". But there was an hour wasted. Plus I am out on a call for work soon. Hopefully I will be back in an hour. Then I can really sit down and focus. I am reading Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer right now. I am only a few chapters in by I am excited to finish it up tonight.

Everyone cross their fingers for me that I have no more work stuff come up today!!!!!

Read-A-Thon October 2009

So I am totally late starting this Read-A-Thon. In my time zone we were supposed to start at 6am but I am on call for work all weekend so I won't be able to do the whole 24 hours. But I will read as much as I can an try my best to get through the books I picked out. I hope to get 3 books read. That is how many I got read during the last Read-A-Thon.

In my TBR pile for the next 20 hours is:
Breaking Dawn - Stephanie Meyer
The Ask and The Answer - Patrick Ness

Hide and Seek - Ian Rankin
Ghosts of India (Doctor Who) - Mary Morris
Travelling With Che Guevera - Alberto Granado
The Shape of Snakes - Minette Walters

I would also like to try and finish The Savage Detectives - Roberto Bolano but I have been finding a pretty hard read to get through so I don't know how far I will get into it today.

For everyone out there reading Good Luck!!!!!

I will check in every few hours to blog and to read how others are doing!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Never Say Die - Tess Gerritsen



Another suspense thriller to add to the ever growing pile. This is an older Tess Gerritsen novel. I have read most of the new books and really enjoyed them. The older ones (written in the early 1990's) are shorter and I have read some not very good review about them I saw this at the Yellowknife Library and decided to pick it up for the 24 Hour-Read-A-Thon (tomorrow!!!!!). I decided to give it a read before the Read-A-Thon.

Amazon.com says "Twenty years after her father's plane crashed in the jungles of Southeast Asia, Willy Jane Maitland was finally tracking his last moves. She recognised the dangers, but her search for the truth about that fateful flight was the only thing that mattered. Closing in on the events of that night, Willy realises that she is investigating secrets that people would kill to protect. And without knowing who to trust, the truth can be far from clear cut... "

This book was pretty cheesy. It was an easy read and I always enjoy thrillers set in Asia. I am a sucker for them - no matter how bad they are I will always finish them and always find more . I was surprised at the ending - that is always a plus. I don't know if I would ever read any more of her early novels because I liked the newer ones so much more.

Rating - 3

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I Love Book Sales!!!!!

Today was a pretty exciting day for me. The library book sale took place at my local library (well local meaning the closest one to me is 1 hour away and it took quite a bit longer because there was a snow storm). I went with 2 of my friends and I have been really really excited all week. Especially with the Read-A-Thon this weekend. It was awesome to find so many new books to read.

When we got there my arms filled up with books in literally 2 minutes. Paperbacks were 1$ and hardcovers were 2$. I picked through all the tables and ended up with these:

Bones To Ashes - Kathy Reichs
Dead In Dixie - Charlaine Harris (the first 3 Sookie Stackhouse books in a hardcover version)
Seduced By The Moonlight - Laurell K. Hamilton (I seem to have bought 2 copies of this same book...silly me!)
Peony In Love - Lisa See
Notes From The Hyena's Belly - Nega Mezlekia
Travelling With Che Guevara - Alberto Granado
The Reader - Bernhard Schlink
The Flanders Panel - Arturo Perez Reverte
A Confederacy Of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
A Question Of Blood - Ian Rankin
Doors Open - Ian Rankin
Dead Souls - Ian Rankin
Fire Study - Maria V. Snyder
Uther - Jack Whyte
My Name Is Red - Orhan Pamuk
The Hunted - L.A. Banks
Case Histories - Kate Atkinson
The Loch - Steve Alten
Blackwood Farm - Anne Rice
Exit Music - Ian Rankin

I got 20 books for 27$. Not too bad I think! I am so excited for all of these new books! I have so many new Ian Rankin novels to read I don't even know where to start!

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Stupidest Angel - Christopher Moore



I love Christopher Moore books. I remember getting my first one (Practical Demonkeeping) when I was in high school in Halifax at the used bookstore. I remember thinking "Damn, I have found myself a killer author". And I was right, his books have only gotten better from there. The Stupidest Angel brings back a ton of old characters from his other novels. Which makes it awesome. You don't need to have read tho other books to get this one - but it does make it a bit funnier.

Since I have a difficult time summing up Christopher Moore novels, I will let Amazon.com have the honors! "'Twas the night (okay, more like the week) before Christmas and little Joshua Barker is in desperate need of a Christmas miracle. Josh is sure he saw Santa take a shovel to the head and now the seven year old has only one prayer: Please Santa, come back from the dead! But coming to Earth, seeking a small child whose wish needs granting, is none other than Archangel Raziel. Unfortunately, he's not sporting the brightest halo in the bunch and before you can say 'Kris Kringle,' he's botched his sacred mission and sent the residents of Pine Cove headlong into Christmas chaos, culminating in the most hilarious and horrifying holiday party the town has ever seen."

It is a great Christmas novel with just enough holiday spirit and profanity to make it a hilarious read. My favorite character is a tie between Molly (the ex B-movie star nut case) and Tuck Case (who we saw before in Island of the Sequined Love Nun). Both characters are strange and funny and I hope there are real people out in the world just like them!

Reading this book makes me want to go back and reread all the Christopher Moore books again. Maybe you should too!

Rating - 4

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's - John Elder Robison



I found this book on the wall of the library promoting Mental Health Day. I thought it looked pretty interesting and I always need a good non-fiction book to read on my lunch break at work. When I got the book I was unaware that the author was the brother of Augusten Burroughs (the author of Running With Scissors). For anyone who has read Running With Scissors, you must realize how insane the family was and I knew that this book was going to be interesting.

This was a really amazing look into the life of someone with Asperger's Syndrome. According to Wikipedia, Asperger's Syndrome is "an autism spectrum disorder, and people with it therefore show significant difficulties in social interaction, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests". This book was so interesting because the author didn't realize he had Aspergers until he was quite old - in his late 30's. He had been taken to a number of mental health specialists when he was younger and they all said he was just bad and deviant - no one knew he actually had a medical condition. Learning about his childhood and am surprised that John Elder Robison turned out as well as he did. It must have been so difficult to have everyone telling you that you are pretty much a sociopath when you actually have a medical condition.

I loved how John Elder Robison wrote the book explaining why he does and says the things the way that he does them. He takes us through his thinking process and that gave me a lot of insight into Asperger's. This book had some really funny parts to it and some great stories that made me laugh out loud. A good read!

Rating - 3

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Knots and Crosses - Ian Rankin



I was at a new friends house on the weekend and I noticed they had a few Ian Rankin novels on the shelf. Ian Rankin has been on my TBR list now for a number of years. I just always had a hard time finding the first novel in the John Rebus series. My good luck was that they had it!! I took it home, finished the book I was currently reading and then dived right into Knots and Crosses.

The book is about Detective Sergeant John Rebus, a seemingly broken man who lives in Edinburgh and sees a side to the city that the tourists do not. Rebus is divorced, with a thirteen year old daughter Samantha he hardly sees. When Rebus is put on a murder/kidnapping case that involves young girls - Rebus finds out that something from his past has come back to haunt him. The book is short and we get an introduction to many characters that will be in the rest of the series (like Rebus's hypnotist brother Michael and the newspaper man Jim Stevens). I liked the novel because it was fast paced and had a lot of different voices in it.

Edinburgh is also a main character in the novel. Hopefully this will continue throughout the series because I love when an author uses a city to its full potential. I was in Edinburgh a few months back and I can picture some of the places that Ian Rankin describes in Knots and Crosses. Actually being to a city where a novel takes place brings the novel to life for me because I am putting myself in the novel. Edinburgh is a wonderful city to experience first hand as well as in literature.

I have the next on the series, Hide and Seek, sitting on my shelf. I will give it some time before I jump into this. I may save it for the 24 Hour Read-A-Thon. I always need something to keep my attention during those things!

Rating - 4

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Certain Girls - Jennifer Weiner



I had read the prequel to this book, Good In Bed a number of years ago and remember really loving it! Since then I have read a lot of Jennifer Weiner's books and when I heard about this book I was really excited to read it.

The novel is about Cannie and her thirteen year old daughter Joy. Cannie is a very overprotective mother (Joy was born premature and had a lot of difficulties including speech problems and hearing loss) and Joy is just trying to be a normal teenage girl. Cannie wrote a book 10 years previous that was somewhat based on her life and her experience getting pregnant with Joy, having a baby with medical issues and marrying a man who was not her baby's father. When Joy reads this she is shocked at her mothers life and the secrets she seems to have.

The book is about a mother and a daughter and the fact that it is sometimes hard to communicate. These two females were the center of the book - Peter, Cannie's husband was in it, as was Bruce, Joy's father but to me they seemed to have smaller roles. This was a book about a mother and daughter relationship. I liked this book because the way the acted and spoke to each other seemed real. My own experience with my mother is usually wonderful but sometimes she just says something the wrong way (or as I see it as the wrong way) and it makes me snappy and cranky. Cannie and Joy had that kind of relationship. I also loved that the family was Jewish. I haven't read very much fiction that involves Jewish tradition. Joy is going for her bat mitzvah and I really learned a lot about it by reading this book.

All in all it was a fun, easy, girly read. Sometimes thats just what a girl needs!

Rating - 3

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sylvanus Now - Donna Morrissey



Sylvanus Now is a wonderful book set in a small fishing village in Newfoundland in the 1950's - 60's. Sylvanus Now is a young man who has only one true calling in life - and that is to fish the way his father and his grandfather fished. He also is in love with and marries a woman named Adelaide. Adelaide is a woman who had great dreams of educating her self and getting away from the world of fish and the sea. This story chronicles Sylvanus and Adelaide's life together and how the emergence of international boats trawling in Newfoundland waters effected the their lives.

I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was really powerful and moving. Coming from an area of Canada myself where fishing has been one of the main industries, I could relate with some of the characters points of view and perspectives. Also it being set in the 1950's allowed to already know the outcome of the difficulties faced by Newfoundlanders when international boats started fishing their waters. All of the fears in the book about how sustainable fishing could not be practiced when huge boats were hauling everything in with no regard for how it was affected the ecosystem of the sea turned out to be very true and really heartbreaking.

I loved all the characters in the book. I loved how quite Sylvanus is and how much he loved Adelaide - no matter what. She is a difficult woman but a good woman. In my eyes they were absolutely perfect for each other. They both had strengths and issues and needed each other.

I have read other books by Donna Morrissey and loved those as well. Everyone should check her out!

Rating - 4

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Handle With Care - Jodi Picoult



If you have read any of my previous postings about Jodi Picoult books you will know I have a love/hate relationship with her novels. This one was no exception really. The only thing that was different was that I didn't really go "what?!?!?!" until the very end of the book. In her others this usually happened about the middle,

Handle With Care is another controversial novel. It is about a young girl named Willow who has osteogenesis imperfecta - a very severe form of brittle bone disease. Her mother Charlotte decides to sue the obstetrician (her best friend) in a wrongful birth suit because she thinks she could have noticed the disease earlier on in Charlotte's pregnancy. And then Charlotte would have had had the choice to terminate the pregnancy. Charlotte believes she is doing this for her daughter to have a better life - Willow's disease has cost the family a lot of money and Charlotte believes the money they will get from the lawsuit will give Willow a chance to have all the things she needs. But Charlotte must be willing to say that she might never have had WIllow if she could have chose. And it also could destroy her other daughter and her marriage.

This book to me is not about abortion or a woman' right to choose. To me it was about the sacrifices people make for the ones they love and the lengths they will go to create oppurtunities for them. Charlotte was willing to ruin her own life to helm make Willow's more comfortable. Its amazing to me how Charlotte's character was able to cope so well with her community and family against her thinking she was an unfit mother and just money hungry. I really loved the relationship between Charlotte and Sean. They both had such strong convictions and really had to look at their marriage and whether or not they were worth saving after all they had been through.

I actually really enjoyed this book. I thought it was well written and it was a book that I didn't want to put down. It was horrifying reading about all the breaks that Willow had went through - especially the ones she had when she was a baby. Maybe because I am getting to the age where I am thinking about children but this book made me realize how lucky I was to be born healthy and how hard it must be for parents of children who were born with disabilities. It scares me to think of all the complications are possible when having baby. I have been lucky that almost all of my friends and family have been born healthy.

I am reading this book for my Facebook Book Club Babes In Toyland and am really excited to discuss this with the other women in the group. It is a great book for discussion - but it has the potential to get really heated!

Rating - 4

Monday, October 5, 2009

Been Away For A While

Well...it has been over a month since I wrote. I have been in the process of moving and then didn't have the internet for a while. I finally got my apartment sorted out this weekend and am back and ready to blog! I actually haven't even read a lot this month because the only furniture I had on my apartment was an air mattress - and that isn't conducive to reading. But now I am settled and have a wonderful new reclining chair to sit in while I am reading.

I moved to the Northwest Territories a few weeks ago. I am about an hour away from Yellowknife - far enough to be in the woods but close enough that I can get to the library on the weekend. The Yellowknife Library is wonderful!!! It has so many great books and a huge collection of audiobooks and DVD's. I got some great titles to read in the upcoming weeks -The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano, Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner, Sylvanus Now by Donna Morrissey, Don't Look Me In The Eye by John Elder Robison and the book I am reading now for my online book club, Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult. I really enjoy going to this library - there are a lot of seats to sit and read magazines and a great section of recommendation by the staff. There is a library book sale on a few weeks that I can't wait to attend! I am so happy to have a library again!

So now I need to focus on my reading. I am at 105 books so far this year. I only read 5 since the last week of August. I was hoping to get to 150 by the New Year but the lull in September may have messed up my goal. But I guess it will start getting cold soon and I will be spending more time inside with a good book!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Hit The 100!

So it has been a while. I am in the moving process right now with no time to blog - or even read for that matter. But I did want to take the time to post that I hit my goal of reading 100 books already (about a week ago!). My 100th book was The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (an awesome book!). I am so happy that I completed The 100 Book Challenge before September even started. Especially because last year I didn't even make it to 100.

I have packed up many books for my adventure up to Northern Canada next week. Hopefully I can get close to 150 books read by the end of the year. Won't be an update for awhile but I hope to have some more books to review soon!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Under A Blood Red Sky - Kate Furnivall




This novel is set in Russia during the 1930's. It is about a woman named Sofia who has been sent to a work camp in SIberia because her fatehr was considered an enemy of Russia. There she meets Anna, a woman who was once wealthy but now has nothing and no one. They survive in the work camp together by Sofia's courage and by Anna telling stories about her childhood - and her childhood love Vasily. When Anna gets gravely ill, Sophia decideds she must escape the work camp and try to find Vasily so he can help Anna. Sophia travels hundreds and hundreds of miles in search of him. What she finds when she gets to the village where he is supposed to be is not what she expected - friendship, love and maybe even a family.

I was really excited to read this book because I loved The Russian Concubine (which this author wrote as well). I have to be honost and say that I didn't like this book as much as I liked her previous novel but I am not sure if it had to do with th book or my mood when reading it. This book was kind of cheesey and parts were very unrealistic and I found my attention wavering when I was reading it. I had this book for my plane trip back to Turkey with a 5 hour stopover in Munich. I figured i could get through it easliy. I did finish but not until I got home and sat down for another hour. The reason why I think it may have been my mood more then the book is because The Russian Concubine had its fair share of cheese and I loved that. I think that maybe because I had been reading so many murder mysteries lately that I was looking for a little more intrigue and drama.

I really did like some of the characters in this book - especially the young boy Pyotr. It was so sad to see him trying to decide what is right - Mother Russia and all of the propaganda that he has been taught or his feelings for the people around him (even if they did things that seemed to be against Russia). I can't imagine telling on my own family or friends just to get more food or a special favor. I hope I am never in that position. This book made me realize that there is so much Russian history that I need to read up on. Anyone know of any good Russian literature about the 20th century?

Rating - 2

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Grave Tattoo - Val McDermid



I have been trying to read British fiction since I have been in England because some of it is pretty hard to get in Canada. Especially murder-mysteries. I read a Val McDermid novel when I was on vacation with my mom in Greece and really enjoyed it. This one was also really good. The novel is quite different then most murder mystery novels I have read as it has a scholorly twist. Jane Gresham is William Woodsworth scholar who is looking for a lost poem that he has written about Fletcher Christian - the mutinous first mate on the Bounty. A body is discovered in the Lake District; a body that is over 200 years old and had tattoos on it not unlike Fletcher Christian. Jane heads up there to investigate and but death seems to follow when elderly people who are involved in her search begin to die. There is also a subplot about her relationship with a young black girl named Tenille who lives with her aunt in the apartment complex that Jane does. I really enjoyed this extra aspect to the book.

The was interesting cause I thought I knew who the killer was but then I wasn't too sure. I like it when books let me believe I know who did it but then throw in a bit of a twist that makes me doubt myself. They talked a lot about this author when I was at the Edinburgh Book Festival because she is from Edinburgh. Many of her mystery novels take place in the city but I have yet to read one. I hope I am able to find some when I get back to Canada!

Rating - 3

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Some New Books

I resisted the temptation to buy books for most of my time in England. I had a great library to browse through and I was really satisfied with most of the books I got to read this summer. But there are some great books and some really good sales here. I realized that I will need to stock up on my books because I will be moving to the Northwest Territories next month. I went to this great store near my father-in-law's house that sells paperback books 3 for 5 pounds (which is 3 for 9 Canadian dollars). I picked up 9 books and here they are:

The Careful Use Of Compliments - Alexander McCall Smith
The World According To Bertie - Alexander McCall Smith
44 Scotland Street - Alexander McCall Smith
Helpless - Barbara Gowdy
Ghosts Of India (Doctor Who) - Mark Morris
Under A Blood Red Sky - Kate Furnivall
The Resurrectionist - James Bradley
The Marriage Bureau For Rich People - Farahad Zama
The Forgotten Garden - Kate Morton

Has anyone read any of these books and if so are they any good??

Monday, August 17, 2009

Edinburgh International Book Festival 2009 Writing Workshop

So I finally got to spend a few days a real book festival and it was amazing! It has been running for 26 years and goes on for about 2 weeks. There are many different events for all book lovers - poetry readings, meet the authors, literary readings, workshops, children's events and a lot more. I only attended two events because I was only in Edinburgh for 3 days and had some other things that I really wanted to see (like a LONG day trip to Loch Ness). As I talked about in my previous posting I went to see Carlos Ruiz Zafon discuss his new book The Angel's Game. The event was sold out and I loved how diverse the audience was. It was awesome to be sitting with a bunch of people who have enjoyed his books as much as I have.

But the first event i went to was first thing opening day - and that was a workshop called Writing Fiction. There were only 20 spots available so I booked this weeks ago. I have always wanted to write a novel, when I was a young girl I used to write all the time. I gave it up as I got older (besides this blog) and now spend most of my free time reading books. Over the years I have decided that I really want to get into writing again but just have no idea where to start. I thought this would be a great starter. The workshop was an hour and a half and we started off by telling our names and if we had written anything previously. It was a diverse group - some had published stories while others had never really written anything before and were interested in starting.

The first exercise we did was to write 3 sentences describing the story we either had already started writing or that we want to write. I sat there for about 10 minutes with a blank piece of paper. Suddenly an idea came to me. I wrote it down and then rewrote it, then changed it. It was really interesting and got my brain thinking about ideas that I never knew were there. We then all went around and talked about our ideas. It was great to see how different everyones story ideas were and the positive feedback I got on mine.

For the last bit we talked about character development and how to keep a plot moving in a novel. We got some work sheets and some information on a week long writing workshop in Northern Scotland that I would die to go to at some point in my life. We also talked about how to get motivation to write and how important it is to write everyday - even if it is only for 10 minutes. It was a great workshop and I think it has motivated me to really sit down and start to write something. I think I have it in me - I just need to really do it!!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Angel's Game - Carlos Ruiz Zafon



I got up early yesterday morning to finish The Angel's Game before heading to The Edinburgh International Book Festival to see the author Carlos Ruiz Zafon speak about it. When I found out a few months ago that I would be going to the Book Festival for the first 2 days I was SO excited to see that I would be able to see Carlos Ruiz Zafon and get him to sign my favorite book The Shadow Of The Wind. I picked up a hardcover edition of The Angel's Game as it was only released a few weeks back. I began reading it on the train to Edinburgh and got involved in the story right away.

The book is set in Barcelona in the 1920's. It is a dark book filled with mystery and supernatural elements. David Martin the main character - he is an author who has had a hard life that seems to be getting harder. He makes a deal to write a book for a mysterious Parisian publisher - and then people around him start dying and David begins to wonder who is the man he is working for and what dark secrets need to be uncovered. I don't want to give any more info because I don't want to give away any of the twists of the book. There are many of them! If you have read The Shadow Of The Wind then you will recognize some of the characters in this new novel. But don't worry - it is a stand alone book and you don't have to know The Shadow Of The Wind to enjoy this book. But I do have to say that The Cemetery of Forgotten Books is back in this novel and will play a part in his next two novels as well!!!

When I finished the book yesterday morning I was worried that I had read it too fast. I had a hard time with the ending and wasn't sure if I really understood it. I reread the ending but still didn't get it. I went to the Book Festival hoping that the author could shed some light on what I had read. And he did. Carlos Ruiz Zafon was excellent to see speak. He was funny and engaging and talk about books like they were friends. He said that many people were very angry with him because they did not understand the ending to The Angel's Game. When I heard this I breathed a sigh of relief - Thank God I wasn't the only one who didn't get it!!! He said that this was a book that you had to think about. It didn't take you by the hand the way The Shadow Of The Wind did and wrap everything up nicely. This was a darker book - one that you had to think about and interpret for yourself.

When I went to get my books autographed I told Mr Zafon that I was one of those people who didn't understand the ending but I was not angry about it. It just made me want to reread the entire book again and see what I could pull from it. That is a sign of an excellent book! There are 2 more books coming and I cannot wait to read them!

Rating - 5

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Boy In The Striped Pajamas - John Boyne



This novel is about a nine year old boy named Bruno whose father is a Commander with the Nazi's. The father is sent to work in Auschwitz and the family goes along to - to live in the house beside. Bruno doesn't really know what his father does or really about anything that is going on around him. All he really knows is that his friends are no longer here and he cannot go exploring like before. That is until one day he finds a boy his age wearing striped pajamas living behind the fence. His name is Shmuel. And then the book just gets sad.

This is a short novel. A little over 200 pages, I read it in 3 sittings. Written from the point of view of a German child this story is heartbreaking. I had to sit back and think when I finished the last page because it made me feel so utterly sad. It made you feel for everyone in Auschwitz and especially for these 2 little boys who just wanted to be friends above everything else. The only problem I have with this book is how little Bruno is aware of what is going on around him. I don't know if it was typically for boys to be not told anything about Hitler or the Nazis - especially if the father was so important. Bruno seems a quite selfish and silly little boy - but if the author did that on purpose to show how he was just a boy being a boy unaware of the horror around him then it did work.

I think that this should be read in elementary schools and high schools. It brings the story of the holocaust from a different viewpoint and also looks at friendship between two little boys who live on different sides of the fence. If this book doesn't break your heart I don't know what will.

Rating - 4

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Tenth Circle - Jodi Picoult



I always tell myself that I am not going to read another Jodi Picoult book because they always just make me feel sad and hate humanity. But then I see one at the library and pick it up. It was not exception this week with The Tenth Circle. I read this book in 2 days. An easy and a pretty good read. Maybe I like it because it didn't bring out as strong emotions in me that reading her other books (like Nineteen Minutes and Mercy) did. That can be both a good and a bad thing because those books will stay with me where I don't know if this one will.

This book is about Trixie, a 14 year old girl who says she has been raped by her ex-boyfriend Jason at a party where everyone has been drinking. It is also about Trixie's father Daniel, who only wants to protect his daughter and make Jason pay for what he has done to his little girl. The book is a he said/she said and you really are not sure of what to believe while reading it. Rape is one of those hard to read about subjects and I hated reading about the backlash that Trixie went through at school when everyone found out. Also the rape and sexual violence statistics that Picoult talked about are really shocking, especially when most North Americans have no idea about them. This novel made me scared to death to have a teenage girl someday. The excessive drinking, drugs and unsafe promiscuous sexual activity is enough for me to cringe. We see things like this all the time on daytime talk shows but its still hard to swallow.

I did love Trixie and Daniel's relationship. Very rarely do you see a novel with a father/daughter bond that is so strong. It reminded me a bit of my own relationship with my dad and how he would react if he found out something like that had happened to me. I think that without that bond the story wouldn't have been nearly as good.

Rating - 3

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Name Of The Wind - Patrick Rothfuss



Somewhere (and I cannot remember where) I heard some really good reviews about The Name of The Wind. I heard that it was the next Harry Potter for adults. This got me excited but a little bit skeptical - I really enjoyed the Harry Potter series and it would be hard to find another series like it. I am so happy that the reviewers were right about this one - cause it is so good!!!!

This book is science fiction. I am normally not a science fiction girl - I find it hard to remember all of the made up names and places (so it makes for a very long reading experience) but this one was something different. This book is about Kvothe - an extraordinary man who is telling the story of his life to a man known as The Chronicler. He is trying to live as an innkeeper under an assumed name but things are happening around him that could spell trouble coming.

This quote is from the back cover of the book and if it doesn't draw you in I don't know what will!
"I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep. My name is Kvothe. You may have heard of me."

I really really loved this book. It took me a few days to finish this because I didn't want it to end all at once. I found the stories interesting and the writing amazing. This is the first in a trilogy. The next book doesn't come out till April - it will be hard to wait till then! I guess I will just have to reread this one!

Rating - 5

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Hunchback of Notre Dame - Victor Hugo



I really wanted to read this book because was going to Paris and I love reading books about places that I will be. I looked at bookshop upon bookshop (and library) in England and couldn't find it. I finally got one when I was in Paris - so I started reading it there. Let's just say it was not what I had expected.

I am sure most people have seen the Disney movie or read the children's version of this French classic set in Paris in the 1500's. The real book is in no way like the movie. I should have realized this but I didn't. So I was really surprised at how the book turned out. The book really isn't about Quasimodo (the hunchback) or Esmeralda - its really about the cathedral and also a lot about the people living in that time. The book was hard to read in places and I will admit that I skipped the chapter about Paris from a 'Birds Eye View' (I rarely skip chapters but I felt that if I didn't I would never get through this book). There was more descriptive writing then dialogue, which is common for classics but I found it a bit difficult to understand because I don't really know much about French history.

The more I read the book the more I liked it. It took me a good week to finish it but when I did I was glad that I read it. The end surprised me - the brutality of the book also surprised me. I was looking for the feel-good Disney ending and I didn't get it. The book left me feeling sad at how people are judged by what they look like and sometimes their characters are shaped by the way people act towards them. Things are not so different today.

Rating - 2

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

July's Reads

I just got back from vacation so I am a little late writing in my monthly reads. This was an amazing month for me. I read more then I remember ever reading before. 20 books in one month. I was on vacation and had access to a really good library and loads of time. Some books were great (like, Yes Man, The Abstinence Teacher and Swan Song) and some not so good (like, The Shack and The Piano Teacher ).

I read 3 non-fiction books and 17 fiction books. I really need to step up the non-fiction reading. The books I read this month were:

88. The Last Days of Dogtown - Anita Diamant
87. A Concise Chinese English Dictionary For Lovers - Xiaolu Guo
86. Yes Man - Danny Wallace
85. Lord John and The Hand Of Devils - Diana Gabaldon
84. Petite Anglais - Catherine Sanderson
83. Growing Pains - Billie Piper
82. The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
81. Ines Of My Soul - Isabel Allende
80. The Abstinence Teacher - Tom Perrotta
79. The Camel Bookmobile - Masha Hamilton
78. Size 12 Is Not Fat - Meg Cabot
77. Fatherland - Robert Harris
76. The Shack - William P. Young
75. Killing The Shadows - Val McDermid
74. The Piano Teacher - Janice Y.K. Lee
73. No Time For Goodbye - Linwood Barclay
73. When Will There Be Good News - Kate Atkinson
72. The Fifth Victim - Beverly Barton
71. Grave Secrets - Kathy Reichs
70. If You Could See Me Now - Cecelia Ahern
69. Swan Song - Robert McCammon

Not all of these were reviewed. I got most of them done but didn't have time for some of them. I am aiming to review all of my books in August. I would also like to reach my 100 book goal by the end of August. That means I have 12 books to read (actually 11 because I already finished one). I am feeling pretty positive that I can do this - especially if I keep reading the way I have been!

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Concise Chinese English Dictionary For Lovers - Xiaolu Guo



This Novel is about a young woman named Z who moves from a village in China to England to attend an English language school. She doesn't know anyone in London and spends her days writing in her journal about learning English and living in such a strange and new country. Then she meets a man, an older bisexual man whom she moves in with and falls in love with. She only has a year long student visa in England - so there definitely is potential for some heartbreak!

This book was at times hard to read because of the broken and choppy English (obviously it got better as the story went along and her English improved). This could be due to being an English teacher for so long and reading students essays exactly like this till I thought my head was going to explode. But the way Z expressed her feelings is beautiful. It makes your skin tingle and makes you smile. Her love for this man (who is lost himself) is so big that it takes up her whole life. He is her first love (though at an older age) and I can relate with those feelings in your chest that make you feel ill because you are either so happy or so scared of how much you love the other person. I have never read a book like this before. It was lovely. Most of the Asian literature I read is historical fiction. It was nice to sit down and read a novel set in present day that is easy to get through and makes you feel something.

Rating - 4

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Yes Man - Danny Wallace



This book is about Danny Wallace. Danny has been staying in a lot lately and saying no to most of his friends requests o do things. One day he gets on a bus, sits beside a bearded Asian man, they start talking and Danny tells him about his boring life. The bearded man tells him he needs to say yes more. That is where the book starts - Danny Wallace spends the year saying yes to everything (really EVERYTHING!!). I loved in the book that there were five different degrees to saying yes - 1 were easy things that you would say yes to anyway and 5 being things that you would NEVER say yes to.

This book is hilarious. I read Danny Wallace's book Friends Like These a few months back and enjoyed it so much that I needed to find another one! This book makes you laugh but it also makes you want to change your life. It makes you think about what would happen if you did say Yes more or even spent one day saying yes to everything. Would your life change? Would you meet some interesting people? I think I may give it a try.

Rating - 4

Friday, July 24, 2009

Petite Anglais - Catherine Sanderson



I am going to France next week and due to the fact that I cannot for the life of me find a copy of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, I decided to read this because it takes place in Paris and was recommended to me by a fellow book blogger. This is the true story of the life of British ex-pat who begins to write a blog about her experiences of living in Paris as a working mom, living with her French boyfriend in a relationship that seems to be failing. It is pretty much an account of how blogging changed her life (seemingly for both good and bad).

This is not a particularily feel good book. A lot of people didn't seem to like it because the narrator cheats on her partner for someone she meets through her blog. I agree that cheating is bad but it does happen. It was a bit uncomfortable to read about because you know it did happen and you feel pretty bad for Mr. Frog (her boyfriend) and for their daughter Tadpole. But I also felt for Catherine as well. Leaving an unhappy relationship is hard and sometimes its easier to take that step if you have someone waiting for you outside the relationship. As we learn from Catherines's story - this is not the healthiest option and usually ends in another heartbreak because it is really hard to begin a relationship on the coat tails of an old one (at least one that will last).

When I first opened this book I found it a bit boring and didn't think I was much interested in reading another true story (I had just read a biography of a British pop singer). But I sat down and actually got so into it I couldn't put it down. I finished it in a few sittings and really enjoyed it. I have read a lot of reviews saying that Catherine is a hard to like character and is self absorbed - I just think she is honest. She made some bad choices but really, who doesn't? She learned from her mistakes and I believe that she is better of for making and learning from those mistakes.

Rating - 3

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows




Quick synopsis:
This book set just after WWII, with the main character being Juliet Ashton. Juliet is an author in London who gets a letter from a man on the island of Guernsey named Dawsey Adams. He had a book that she had sold to a second-hand bookshop that had her name an address in it. He wrote to her to ask for information on other books by this author and through these correspondences (as well as letters with other people from the island) Juliet gets to know the people of Guernsey, what the went through during the war and the German occupation, and how the The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society was formed.

This book is written in the form of letters. I didn't know that when I borrowed the book from the library and I am glad that I didn't because I probably wouldn't have read it. I typically don't like reading books written in letter or email form but since I had it and people had liked it I thought I would give it a try. It was a really nice book. The characters were lovely and I found myself laughing out loud to some of the things they wrote about. Because it was in letter form it was like reading one long conversation - and I really liked it. The characters were well developed and I loved how much they cared for each other. This would be a really good book club pick.

It was a fast read and left me feeling good inside. I admit that I had some tears in my eyes when finishing up the last few pages at Starbucks this morning. But they were good tears. Some times its nice to read a story that has a happy ending!

Rating - 4

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ines Of My Soul - Isabel Allende



This novel is set in the 1500's and is about Ines Suarez - a Spanish woman that sets of to Chile to find her husband but instead she falls in love with Pedro Valdivia and helps him to conquer Chile. The story is told by an elderly and dying Ines to her stepdaughter Isabel. She tells the story of the hardships of venturing to Chile as both a Spaniard and a woman. The story is based on the real life of Ines Suarez and the men she loved. It made me realize that I need to really read some more history books because I hardly know anything about what happened in South America.

I did enjoy this book. It was heavy to read because there is not much dialogue but the writing was interesting and kept me captivated. It was hard to read about how awful the Spanish explorers treated the indigenous population of South America and how they felt they were less then human. I had to keep remembering this book was written from a woman's point of view in the 1500's and not the views of the author. I love Isabel Allende and always enjoy her books. I especially love the fact that most of her stories are adventure novels involving really strong women. She is a really smart author and I hope everyone reads one of her novels!

Rating - 4

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Abstinence Teacher - Tom Perrotta



This book was excellent. A short synopsis of the book is that it is about Ruth, a sex-ed teacher who is forced to teach abstinence based curriculum (even though she does not believe in it) and Tim, a recovering drug-addict who is also a born again Christian and coaches Ruth's daughter's soccer team. It all comes to blows when Tim prays with the girls at the end of one game and some of the parents are not happy about it. There is a lot more to the book but I am terrible at reviews.

I liked the book being from Ruth and Tim's very different points of view. It made it less one sided and more interesting. The idea of teaching only an abstinence based curriculum was so interesting because it has been in the spotlight the last few years (especially in America with George Bush). My personal opinion is that teenagers deserve to have all the facts even if some people do not agree with them. It was interesting that Ruth had to give the kids information that she knew was not totally true - just used as a scare tactic to make kids not have sex (even though she knew that wasn't going to work and they were still going to do it anyway just without the correct info on contraception!). She was a strong smart woman but just didn't want to lose her job.

Tim was a sad and lost character. He didn't seem to really believe in the things he was saying - but he sure did want to believe in them. He was trying to change his life any way he could and church seemed to sort him out and change his life for the better. But as you will see when you read the book (and you better read it!!) sometimes people just want to believe even when it is not right for them.

I have never read any of Tom Perrotta's books before. I had seen the movies Little Children (which I really liked) and Election (which I didn't) and really didn't know what to expect with this one. I am certainly glad I read it and would encourage others to do so as well!

Rating - 4

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ahhh, The Library

I arrived in England on Sunday evening. First thing I did Monday morning was head to the small local library that is a 5 minute walk from my husbands house. We went in and while he got a card (and made sure that could use it without him being there) I took a look around to see what I could find.

Straight off I loved the small sections all over the library that said things like "Newly Returned" or "Librarians Picks" or even better "Ones That You All Like!". I found 4 books right away that I wanted to read - and that was without even looking at the shelves! I got a Meg Cabot YA novel called Size 12 Isn't Fat (never read one before), some short stories by Diana Gabaldon, Billie Piper's biography and The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta (which I am reading now and really love so far!). I have been real library deprived for so long that I was too excited for this one.

The next day we went into town where the main library is. We stopped there even though I had only finished one of the books I got the day before. This was a bigger library and had quite few really good finds. There I got Ines Of My Soul by Isabel Allende, The Camel Bookmobile (which I reviewed below), Petite Anglais, and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Not too bad for my first week in England.

I can't wait to finish these books up and get some more!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Camel Bookmobile - Masha Hamilton




The Camel Bookmobile is about a traveling library that brings books to rural areas of Kenya. The camel bookmobile visits one nomadic village called Mididima where lives are changed forever (in many different ways and not always positive). The book has many characters and every chapter is narrated by a different character. Some characters are Fi Sweeny is a librarian from New York who is a consultant on the Camel Bookmobile project; Matani is the teacher in the village who doesn't feel at home in his community because he was sent away as a teenage boy to the city for schooling; and also Taban (also known as Scar Boy), a boy who was disfigured by a hyena and is pretty much an outcast of the tribe. There are many more characters but I don't want to give too much away!

The book was an easy and interesting read. I liked the idea of it and I was really pulled in by the cover of the book (I have the British version which has a different cover then the American one). As I have said in previous reviews - I love books about books and this book is about the love of reading and stories. It is also a book about how cultures need to be preserved and children need to learn about their heritage so that the knowledge doesn't die away. A really good read and I would be happy to add it to my reading collection!

Rating - 3

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fatherland - Robert Harris



I bought this book for my husband because he had read Pompeii by the author and loved it. Well I had nothing to read so I grabbed it before he even got to it. This was a good book. Really really interesting as a historical novel as well as a murder mystery.

Amazon.com says "Fatherland" is set in an alternative world where Hitler has won the Second World War. It is April 1964 and one week before Hitler's 75th birthday, Xavier March, a detective of the Kriminalpolizei, is called out to investigate the discovery of a dead body in a lake near Berlin's most prestigious suburb. As March discovers the identity of the body, he uncovers signs of a conspiracy that could go to the very top of the German Reich. And, with the Gestapo just one step behind, March, together with an American journalist, is caught up in a race to discover and reveal the truth - a truth that has already killed, a truth that could topple governments, a truth that will change history." It was an intriguing idea and I got so involved with it the moment I started it. I really liked the characters, especially Xavier March. He was defiant in his own way in a situation where that usually lead to being tortured or killed. As we know, the Nazi's were terrible and the things that were done were horrific. But what if they had won the war and the German people really didn't know (or were forced to turn their heads at) what had and was still happening to people who were moved to the "East". This is what this book was about.

It was a fast paced book that is a pleasure to read. Now I have a new author that I need to get a few more books from!

Rating - 4

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Shack - William P. Young



This is a hard review to write. I brought this book on my flight to England yesterday and made the fatal mistake of bringing a book I didn't really know anything about and then I was stuck with it for my entire flight. It was a rookie mistake that I rarely make - I always have a back-up...but not this time.

Amazon.com says "Mackenzie Allen Philips' youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives as the shack on a wintry afternoon and walk back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack's world forever." My mom bought me this book - as she is a flight attendant and saw a bunch of people reading it on her flights. I don't think she read the back of it so I can't blame her.

I really really didn't like this book. I think I threw it on the empty seat next to me at least 10 times in anger and frustration. The main reason was how poorly written it was. It was choppy and not enjoyable. The way the conversation flowed was not the way people actually speak - it made it hard to read. Though I am not religious, I do think that the idea of the book was interesting and had the potential to be good. People love books like this and it is too bad that it was so hard to get through. I have read loads of reviews on this book since I finished this and at least I feel better knowing I am not the only one who feels this way about this book.

Rating - 1

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Grave Secrets - Kathy Reichs



Another interesting mystery to add to the "Bones" pile. This Temperence Brennen mystery is set between Guatemala and Montreal. Amazon.com says "Temperance Brennan is helping her Guatemalan colleagues identify the remains of villagers who were "disappeared" 20 years ago when she's called in to consult on four more recent disappearances. Is there a serial killer loose in Guatemala City, or is the fate of the young women who've gone missing--including the daughter of the Canadian ambassador--connected to the murder of a human-rights investigator looking into the decades-old massacre?"

I really liked the setting of this novel and it made me want to learn more about Central America and the human rights violations that have went on there in the recent past. It also made the travelling bug inside jump up and down because I have never been to Central or South America before. I also love Temperence Brennen's character in the novels. It is so very different from the show that the only thing similar is the name. She has a new love interest in this novel (plus the old one) and I would like to see how that plays out in the next book.

What I didn't like about this novel was the ending. It started out strong but the ending just didn't fit right for me. It was almost like it was just thrown in there by mistake or had to be finished up quickly. It wasn't a bad book but it wasn't as good as the others that I have read by Kathy Reichs. I will definitely continue reading her books because I always look forward to a smart murder-mystery!

Rating - 3

Saturday, July 4, 2009

If You Could See Me Now - Cecelia Ahern



I found this super cute book at in a discount bin in Bodrum. I told myself I was not going to buy anymore books but then I decided I really did need some chick lit. I had read a book by this author previously and really enjoyed it so I was excited to take this to the beach in Greece with me!

Amazon.com says "Living in her own house in a small, posh Irish town, 35-year-old Elizabeth Egan is an uptight interior designer and adoptive mother to her six-year-old nephew, Luke, whose mother, Elizabeth's 23-year-old sister, Saoirse, prefers boozing to parenting. Saoirse's behavior reminds Elizabeth of a painful past—the alcoholic mother who abandoned the family, leaving Elizabeth to care for her baby sister and forgo her own childhood, and the emotionally distant, controlling father still waiting for his wife's return. Unlike the other women in her family, Elizabeth adheres to a fastidiously well-ordered existence—no mess, no complications, no love. But all that changes with the arrival of Ivan, a goofy and spontaneous man intent on infusing much-needed fun and tenderness into Elizabeth's frigid persona. The catch is no one can see this ageless man from the land of "Ekam Eveileb" save Elizabeth and her nephew. Through Ivan, Elizabeth becomes the woman she's always been too afraid to be." It is a book about love and about make-believe.

This book was really fun and really sad at the same time. I found that Cecelia Ahern's novels have such a sadness to them but have a magical aspect that doesn't leave you depressed. I really like that. I loved the character of Ivan. He had such a childlike, carefree quality about him that made me miss being a kid and kind of excited to have my own someday! Life is so serious when you get older that you sometimes forget that the world will not stop spinning if you don't do the laundry or pay the bills on time.

This was a sweet, easy read.

Rating - 3