Thursday, April 30, 2009

April Wrap-Up

So I did really well on the reading front in April - actually a lot better then I thought that I would. I read 14 books this month - 13 fiction and 1 non-fiction, 1 children's book 2 historical fiction, 1 chick lit and 2 mystery/suspense. I read all 10 books that I had previously decided on at the beginning of the month. Making a list makes reading so much easier! My total for the year is 44. The books I read are:

44. Earth Democracy - Vandana Shiva
43. What Are You Like? - Anne Enright
42. The Rossetti Letter - Christi Phillips
41. The Assassin's Song - M.G. Vassanji
40. The Magic Finger - Roald Dahl
39. Divine Evil - Nora Roberts
38. The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness
37. The Bridges of Madison County - Robert James Waller
36. The Gargoyle - Andrew Davidson
35. Fatal Voyage - Kathy Reichs
34. The Black Sun - James Twining
33. A Vintage Affair - Isabel Wolff
32. World Without End - Ken Follett
31. American Pie - Michael Lee West

I found some great books this month. Some of my favorites were: The Rossetti Letter, World Without End and American Pie. I had a hard time getting through The Gargoyle and What Are You Like?

I had a really great month and hope to continue it into May!!!

Earth Democracy - Vandana Shiva

"In Earth Democracy, Shiva updates the struggles she helped bring to international attention—against genetic food engineering, culture theft, and natural resource privatization-—uncovering their links to the rising tide of fundamentalism, violence against women, and planetary death.

Starting in the 16th century with the initial enclosure of the British commons, Shiva reveals how the commons continue to shrink as more and more natural resources are patented and privatized. As our ecological sustainability and cultural diversity erode, so too is human life rendered disposable. Through the forces of neoliberal globalization, economic and social exclusion ignite violence across lines of difference, threatening the lives of millions."

I am so happy I finally finished this book!! I have been reading it bit by bit for the last couple of months and finally decided that I would finish it this month. I have tried to read it at work but I really needed to concentrate to really receive the benefits of the book. I ordered this book from a small publishing company called South End Press (along with some other equally intelligent and hard to read books).

I really learned a lot while i was reading this. I had taken political science and international development courses in university but haven't been reading a lot of non-fiction on the last couple of years. I really liked the real life case studies of different places that have been affected by trade barriers and have dealt with horrible environmental destruction. It made me realize that there are so many things that we need to do as a society to help create a better world - especially when it comes to food and poverty. I eat so many things that I have no idea where they come from or how harmful it was to produce them.

I was a vegetarian for years but started eating meat again when I moved to Korea 6 years ago. I used to be very health conscious and very involved in animal rights and organic food campaigns. As I got older it all kind of fell to the wayside. This book has opened my eyes to topics that I did previously knew about but had either forgotten or pushed to the back of my mind. Now I will make more conscious choices when I purchase food and really think about the people who are benefiting or losing from my purchases. People should read this book.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What Are You Like - Anne Enright

I borrowed this book from the library a number of weeks ago but put off reading it after reading some not so good reviews about it on I had really enjoyed her novel "The Gathering" but this one was supposed to be quite different.

According to "She tells the story of a Dubliner whose mother died in childbirth. Maria is now 20, living in New York, cleaning houses, taking drugs, sleeping with strangers, and generally being in a funk. In a lover's bag, she finds an old photo of a girl who looks just exactly like herself, dressed in clothes she's never owned, posing with people she's never met. But this isn't some gooey, alternate-reality identity fantasy. Maria has, in fact, a twin sister. Though each is unknown to the other, we learn both their lives inside out as they head toward a giddily inevitable meeting."

This book is hard to describe. I had a difficult time getting into it because the narrator and the time periods changed all the time. Sometimes Maria was in 1984 and next 1977, then it would be a nun's voice or maybe Rose in 1986. It made it hard to remember which life experiences the character had been through to get that point in the story. It was also a very sad book. Neither one of the twins feels excepted and both are suicidal. It was interesting that 2 women who have never met each other had so many similarities in their lives.

I don't think I would recommed this book. It really didn't leave me feeling anything except confused. And since I am pretty much confused all the time in my normal life - iıs not a feeling I need in my book life!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Rossetti Letter - Christi Phillips

Well I have had a tough time with books recently but this one helped me out and perked me up a lot. This was a great story set in both the present-day and the
1600's and is about a young American woman who is researching The Spanish Conspiracy in Venice and also an important Venetian courtesan.

Publishers Weekly states "When the Venetian courtesan Alessandra Rossetti wrote a letter that exposed the 1618 Spanish Conspiracy, Venice was saved. Four hundred years later in Phillips's lovingly researched half-historical, half-contemporary debut, Claire Donovan, an American graduate student, struggles to finish her dissertation on the courtesan's brave act. Claire attends a Venice conference to check out the work of British superstar historian Andrew Kent, who sees Rossetti as nothing more than the pawn of very powerful men in a diplomatic double cross: once Andrew's work is published, his ideas could derail Claire's fledgling career. Phillips, developing parallel plots, unspools Alessandra's story directly to the reader in detail denied Claire and Andrew, who overcome their initial animosity to solve the greater mystery."

I loved that the book went from one voice to another; one era to another. It made the book flow better and made it really interesting to read. I was always captivated and always entertained. I am a little iffy on historical fiction - I do enjoy it but it has to keep my attention. I have to make sure that I pick the right book (or that the right book picks me!) But I do love when history meets the present day. The characters were also funny and really developed. I also enjoyed the fact that the ending was left open for future books. I can't wait to read the next book that features Claire called "The Devlin Diary"!

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Assassin's Song - M.G. Vassanji

I have read every book by this author and enjoyed all of them. When I started this book and couldn't get into it I should have put it down right away - but I didn't. I wasn't in the mood for an in depth book on Sufism in India. I wasn't really even in the mood to read but I ploughed through. I wish I hadn't done that because I ruined a perfectly good book with my crappy mood.

New York Reader says 'his resplendent novel traces the path of Karsan Dargawalla, who is brought up, as generations of his forefathers have been, to be the "gaadi-varas, the successor and avatar" of a seven-hundred-year-old Sufi shrine in Gujarat, a mausoleum of Muslim origin but for centuries open to all religions. Karsan, rebelling against "the iron bonds of history," leaves for Boston and Canada, though he ultimately returns to India to "research, recall, and write about" his abandoned heritage. Vassanji eloquently details the sufferings of Karsan’s family as the price of his individual freedom, but suggests that this abandonment was necessary, and that tradition, in the face of India’s "ancient animosities," must be engaged with critically and in the context of the wider world.'

It sounded great and probably is. I think I will re-read it at a later date. I am not going to give a real review because I don't feel like it would be accurate and true to the book. I do suggest people pick up this book (or any others by M.G. Vassanji) because the author is amazing.

Maybe I read myself out at the 24 Hour Read-a-Thon. I don't really know. I am going to go for something light next...get my reading taste buds back!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Wonderful Surprise

Yesterday I recieved a wonderful surprise when I looked at my blog - another award! I was so thrilled! The award is from the wonderful C.B. James at and the award is The Zombie Chicken Award.

The Zombie Chicken Award goes to people who "in the Tao of the zombie chicken - excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all…” It is quite an honour!

In the next few days I will pass this award along to some other amazing bloggers and their blogs that I have had the privalige to read. My blog is not as flashy as some of the great blogs that I have seen (I still have trouble figuring out all this computer stuff) but I hope to upgrade soon!

My husband is going to the Middle East for the next 5 days and I have a 4 day weekend from school so I have some free time to spend reading. I am excited to finish the books I have started and dig into some of the ones I picked up at the library the other day. SHould be a great weekend!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Divine Evil - Nora Roberts

I didn't get this one finished during the 24 hour Read-A-Thon but I did finish it up this morning and really enjoyed it. I do not usually read romancey sort of books but I picked it up at a friends house many years ago (it was his moms), read half of it and then never finished it. So when I saw it at the library I thought I should try and finish it. describes the book "Haunted by half-forgotten nightmares since her childhood, Clare Kimball, a shining star in the New York art world, returns to her hometown and finds new love with the town's sheriff, Cameron Rafferty, once the high school rebel. Clare Kimbal is troubled by depression and the return of childhood nightmares. So she takes a break from New York City and heads for her sleepy hometown in Maryland, despite its association with her beloved father's violent but apparently accidental death. Cameron Rafferty, formerly the town hellion, is now the sheriff and faced with a puzzle: the century-old grave of an infant has been dug up. In fact, the grave was robbed by Satan worshipers; Clare's dreams date from the night in her childhood when she saw them performing a coven ceremony--and they know she saw them. Cam's problems are compounded when the mutilated corpse of his hated stepfather is discovered in a field after the two have a public fistfight."

The book is predictable but I think I needed that in this latest book. It was interesting and was a real page-turner. I read quite late into the night because I couldn't put it down. I love when I find books like this. I also liked the supernatural part to the book - I guess I am like my mom in loving books like this.

I think I have to read something a little more intellectual for my next book - but I will be secretly waiting for the net book like this!!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

April 2009 24 Hour Read-A-Thon Finished!

So the Read-A-Thon is officially over and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed participating in it, commenting on others blogs and also the preparation leading up to the day. It was wonderful to know that people all over the world were participating and reading the same time I was.

I read 2 whole books:
The Bridges of Madison County - Robert James Waller
The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness

Finished 1 I had started previously:
The Gargoyle - Andrew Davidson

And got halfway through another:
Divine Evil - Nora Roberts

I read 1020 pages in 24 hours. Not too bad.

I hope there is another Read-A-Thon in the summer. I think it would be great to sit up all night in the warm air reading books!

The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness

This is the first YA book I have read in a while. I did read the 'Twilight' series (but so did pretty much every other reader I know) and when I stumbled upon this book at the university library I knew it was meant for the Read-A-Thon. I had never found a YA book at this library before and was pleasantly surprised. gives the description of the book as 'Imagine you're the only boy in a town of men. And you can hear everything they think. And they can hear everything you think. Imagine you don't fit in with their plans... Todd Hewitt is just one month away from the birthday that will make him a man. But his town has been keeping secrets from him. Secrets that are going to force him to run...'

The book was a big one - 477 pages and not so much dilougue. There were so many unanswered questions even at the begining of the book that didn't get answered until the very end (or even not at all. I didn't realize that this was the first in a series when I started it). I think the book was made for a male audience but I did enjoy it. It was fast paced and I moved through it quickly. I really liked the dog, Manchee, and how Todd could hear all of the dogs (and other animals) thoughts. What little boy wouldn't love to hear what his dog was thinking!

I will try and read the rest of this series - I will probaly have to wait till I go to England for the summer to pick it up but I can wait until then!

Book 3 finished for the Read-A-Thon. A little over 4 hours left and I have one more book to work on!

Hour 19

Hour 19 is part way through and I have just woken up, washed my face, made some tea and am diving right back into my book. I have 5 hours to finish 'The Knife of Never Letting Go' and begin my fourth book. I really wanted to read 4 books during this challenge and I will trudge on in hopes of doing that.

I applaud all the people that actually stayed awake for the whole 24 hours. It is not something I could do!

Hour 12

So we are in Hour 12 of the 24 Hour Read-A-Thon and I am about to have myself a bit of a sleep. I hope to get about 6 hours of sleep in and then read for the rest of tomorrow. I can't read when I am tired and if I go to bed now I can get up bright and early and get in at least 6-7 hours before the Read-A-Thon is over.

I am 270 pages (out of 479) into a YA novel called 'The Knife of Never Letting Go'. I will read a few more chapters in my bed (and probably fall asleep in the process). I am sure I will finish that tomorrow pretty early and then finish off my Nora Roberts book. This is the most books I have ever read in a 24 period time span. It is kind of cool. I wish these things happened more often.

I have been reading others blogs and it sounds like everyone is doing great having having tons of fun! Thats what this is all about - it doesn't matter if you read 1 book or 20 books.

See you all in the morning!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Bridges of Madison County - Robert James Waller

I picked this book up at the library and thought it would be great for the Read-A-Thon. It is only 180 pages and a book that I had wanted to read. I had read some negative reviews about it but decided to try it out anyway. I had seen the movie with Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood years ago and remember liking it. I have to confess that I do enjoy an easy to read love story (I devour Nicholas Sparks books and cry like a baby!) and this was what this book was. The book is about an affair between a traveling photographer and a farm-wife who meet unexpectedly for a few days during a hot summer in 1965. They only are together for 4 days and never meet again - but there love changes each other and seems to last forever.

To me, the story isn't very well written (especially the dialogue) and I can see why some people didn't like it. But I did really love the way the characters thought about their lives and their love for each other. It was beautiful. It made me so sad to think that they kept this secret for so long and were so in love but couldn't be together because of Francesca's responsibilities towards her husband and children.

An excellent read for the first part of the 24 Hour Read-A-Thon. I am doing well with the reading. I find it hard to keep up (and comment on) everyones blogs AND keep reading as much as I want. This is turning into quite the fun and challenging evening!

The Gargoyle - Andrew Davidson

First book finished in the 24 Hour Read-A-Thon. Technically I did start it a few days ago but I did finish about half of it today. I decided to blog about the books I read right after I read them so I remember them well. I started this book when I went on vacation but could not get into it. I think it is a book that needs to be read during long periods; not one that can be picked up and put down frequently. gave the best description of the book stating, "The Gargoyle of the title is the narrator, a handsome young man who while driving stoned and drunk one night crashes his car into a ravine and is burned in the resulting fire. He finally awakens in a burns unit to find his body has been ravaged by the flames and he has entered his own version of hell. It is during this period that he meets Marianne Engel, a renowned sculptor who stuns him by suddenly announcing they were lovers seven hundred years ago in Germany and she has been searching for him since then." This is the premise of the book but there is much more to it. I am not very interested in philosophy so I had a difficult time getting into the book. There is a lot of talk about the existence of God and also the existence of Heaven and Hell in many different forms.

I did like the characters in this book; the narrator is really interesting and I love his point of view on things. Marianne was really interesting to me as a social worker because I could see her mental illness and how it gets worse over time. I know many people read this book and do not believe that she was mentally ill but I do think that the author must have taken characteristics from mentally ill people and added them to this character.

All in all the book was alright. I think that it just wasn't my type of book and I can recognize that it was very well written and many other people will enjoy it.

Time to push on and start another book. Hour 4 here I come!


So it is a few hours before the Read-A-Thon and I am getting prepared. I am making sure I have food and drink for the evening. I am stopping my diet for the next 24 hours because I hate being hungry when I am reading and there is nothing I love more then having some good chocolate and reading a good book. I also bought many different types of teas. I picked the books that I am going to try and read and also some alternatives incase I don't like what I am reading.

The books for the next 24 hours are:

The Gargoyle - Andrew Davidson (I have about 150 pages left to this)
The Bridges of Madison County - Robert James Waller
The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness
Divine Evil - Nora Roberts

My alternatives are:
Club Dead - Charlaine Harris
The Assassin's Song - M.G. Vassanji

I hope I can get through these four books. The Bridges of Madison County is pretty short and The Knife of Never Letting Go is a YA book. I am struggling a bit with The Gargoyle so I am going to try and finish it up before the challenge. I will update every now and then to let people know how I am doing.

Good luck to everyone and happy reading!!!!!

Friday, April 17, 2009


I was on vacation in Germany for the past no posts from me and almost no reading! I was busy sightseeing and shopping. I was in Munich, Germany for 6 days and went to Salzburg Austria on a daytrip. It was absolutley beautiful and I cannot wait to go back and explore more of Germany and Austria. The 2 books I read on the trip were The Black Sun - James Twining and Fatal Voyage - Kathy Reichs. Both were great easy vacation reads. I really enjoyed both of them.

The Black Sun is about an ex art theif who is asked to help the British secret service to help find an old artifact and to also locate an old enemy. The book is set in the US, Germany, Russia and a few other places. I believe that there are more in the series.

Fatal Voyage was one of the best books in the 'Bones' series that I have read. Set in the hills of Tennessee, Dr. Brennen is asked to help identify bodies after a plane mysteriously crashes. Of course things are always as they seem and a really creepy mystery begins to unfold. I bought another one in Munich and have to try and keep my hands off it for as long as possible!

I have signed up for 'Deweys 24 Hour Read-A-Thon' which begins tomorrow. Since I live in Turkey I have to figure out what time I am supposed to begin. I have my books picked out already that I want to read and am pretty excited for my first Read-A-Thon!! Who else is participating?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Vintage Affair - Isabel Wolff

A Vintage Affair was a wonderful "chick lit" book taking place in London. The main character Pheobe opens her own vintage clothing store and we see how these clothes affect different people throughout the novel. Pheobe has recently broken off her engagement and is struggling with the lose of her best friend, Emma. The story gets interesting when Pheobe meets Mrs. Bell, an elderly widow who is getting rid of most of her fabulous vintage clothing. Mrs. Bell won't part with one item, a beautifully made blue coat from the 1940's. We understand why when Mrs. Bell tells Pheobe a story that involves two best friends, World War II and a tragedy that has haunted Mrs. Bell her entire life.

I really enjoyed the characters in this book. I find British "chick lıt" to be wonderful because the characters are alwyas quirky and seem that they could actually be real people. I read this book in a day and enjoyed the time I spent reading it. But beware girls - it makes you want to go out and shop!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


So I was so thrilled when I woke up this morning, checked my blog and realized that I recieved an award from Vindella at It totally amde my day. She gave me the Sisterhood Award! Here are the rules to spread the sisterhood spirit:

1. Put the logo on your blog or post.
2. Nominate up to 10 blogs which show great attitude and/or gratitude!
3. Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Remember to link to the person from whom you received your award.

So I picked these 10 great blogs!

Tena -
Kristi -
Becky -
Lilly -
Beth -
Monique -
Annie -
Heather -
Susan -
Veronica -

(I am sorry but I cannot figure out how to add links to my post)

I hope you all enjoy the award!!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

World Without End - Ken Follett

Well this was an epic novel. The book was so many things - hıstorical, romance, murder, mystery and so much more. I really enjoyed it. I had read the first book in the series "The Pillers of the Earth" in September and loved it. I tried to wait as long as possible before reading this one because I love knowing there is at least one good book in my collection that I can turn to when I really need it. I am glad I read it now because I couldn't put it down. I tried to read it slowly so I could get the most of it and I stayed up late some nights reading it. At 1200 pages it, I was surprised that it only took me 5 days to finish it (and I continued to go to the gym).

The story is spans 40 years in the mid 1300's and mostly follows the lives of 4 children who grow up to be important members of Kingsbridge. Caris is an intelligent, somewhat wealthy young woman who yearns to be a doctor, even though as a woman she can never be one; Gwenda a hard working woman from a poor family and only wants one thing in life - to marry Wulfric; Ralph is a cruel and heartless youngman who wants to be a knight and seeks vengeance for an incident for over 30 years, finally Merthin who is Ralph's brother,who is a wonderful builder and in love with Caris. There are many more characters in this book but I don't want to give anything away.

I loved the twists and turns of this book. There was always something happening. It made the 1200 pages easy to get through. So many terrible things happened in this novel (especially to the female characters) and I cringed sometimes while reading it. But it was really enjoyable. A perfect book for a long flight or bus ride!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

American Pie - Michael Lee West

I read a lot of international authors and sometimes I just need a good old American or Canadian book to make me feel that I am not too far away from home (Yes, I am Canadian but I do feel a kinship to American literature).

American Pie hit the spot by giving me an insight into small town Tennessee and the women who live there. This novel is about a family, sisters Jo-Nell, Eleanor and Freddie and their grandmother Minerva. Freddie is the sister who left Tennessee and moved to California to work with and study whales. She married a California man and never went back to Tennessee. Eleanor is the oldest sister and frightened of men, going places by herself and many other things. She runs the family bakery. The youngest sister Jo-Nell is beautiful, has been married three times and has a reputation around their small town of stealing husbands. Their parents died when they were young so their grandmother raised them on love and food.

Freddie comes back to Tennessee because Jo-Nell gets into a serious car accident. Everything that Freddie was running from when she left finds its way back to her and the story gets pretty interesting. I loved the Southerness of this book and how the characters talked. The sisters were so different but so interesting in their own way. The story was told from every woman's point of view which gave you great insight into each character. I love books that are written like this. They flow so well. I think this book would make a great movie.

I am searching for more books set in the South. Anyone got any suggestions?