Saturday, March 20, 2010

People of the Book - Geraldine Brooks

I started reading this book when I was in Singapore last year. My friend Lia had it and I only got through the first few chapters when it was time for me to leave. I bought it a few months back but never picked it up until the other day. I always tell people that they should read it when they are looking at books in my shelf because I enjoyed the first bit so much. I thought it was time to read it my self. writes, “One of the earliest Jewish religious volumes to be illuminated with images, the Sarajevo Haggadah survived centuries of purges and wars thanks to people of all faiths who risked their lives to safeguard it. In the hands of Hanna Heath, an impassioned rare-book expert restoring the manuscript in 1996 Sarajevo, it yields clues to its guardians and whereabouts: an insect wing, a wine stain, salt crystals, and a white hair. While readers experience crucial moments in the book's history through a series of fascinating, fleshed-out short stories, Hanna pursues its secrets scientifically, and finds that some interests will still risk everything in the name of protecting this treasure.”

This book was a really enjoyable read. I loved how the story went from modern day book expert Hanna to the other people whose lives the Haggadah has touched in the past. It was amazing how this one book survived all the people that tried to destroy it. It was just a book but it felt more magical then that. There were so many amazing characters in the book but one that really stood out to me was Lola. Lola was a Jewish teenager who lived in Sarajevo during WWII. I loved how strong she was and how she kept herself alive against all odds. She was a beautiful character.

One thing I really liked about the book was the harmony between the Jewish and Muslim characters. The Haggadah was saved by Muslim scholars a few times – people risked their lives to save a book that was not part of their own faith. I found that amazing and inspiring. I also enjoyed how Geraldine Brooks wrote the book. She is a beautiful writer. I have read a few of her works previously and really enjoyed them. The book really flowed and I loved how Hanna would find a clue about the book and then there would be a chapter about the book from an earlier time period and the people who had it.

I would totally recommend this book to anyone and everyone. It is one of those books that takes you to another place and makes you want to travel, see the world and meet all the amazing people that you can.

Rating - 4

Monday, March 15, 2010

Nikolski - Nicolas Dickner

I ordered this book as soon as the Canada Reads list came out in January. I had every intention of reading all of the Canada Reads contestants but didn’t quite get there – in fact I never ended up reading one of them. I guess I was going through I rough reading patch that meant my mind could only handle mysteries. But when the winner was announced last week I decided that it would be my next read. And what a great choice it was. states, “An odd tale of missed connections, restlessness and the search for home that follows three quirky Montrealites. One story line follows a nameless narrator who works in a second-hand Montreal bookshop and reveres an inexpensive compass sent to him when he was a child by his absent father. Meanwhile, Noah, who grew up in the care of a transient single mother, arrives in Montreal to study archeology and rents a room from the owner of a fish shop. Then there's Joyce, a young woman from a family that claims pirate origins, who washes up in Montreal, finds work in the fish shop and begins her own version of living the family legend. The characters' lives brush up against one another (largely thanks to a book about pirates that, through various personal connections, ends up as the lightly binding force of the three characters' fates) but—in a nice subversion of the intersecting fates arc—don't loudly collide.”

I really enjoyed this book. It took me about 2 days to finish it – the fastest I have read a book in a long time. I love Canadian books – there is something about them that makes me feel proud and happy to be Canadian. I am always looking for pieces of myself in them and get so excited if Nova Scotia is mentioned. This book was mainly set in Montreal and as I have lived there for a few short months I could recognize some of the places. Montreal is a wonderful setting for a novel – there are so many different kinds of people and languages.

I loved all the characters in this book. They were well developed and made me wish the story didn’t end. One of my favorite parts is Noah writing letters to his mom and addressing them General Delivery wherever he thinks she may be now (she is a roamer and never has a fixed address). I think it would be crazy to look randomly at a map and send your mother a letter there. This novel made me realize how randomly we meet people in life but there are some people we are met to meet.

I think this was a great choice for Canada Reads winner – but I haven’t read the other ones yet so my opinion may change afterwards!!

Rating - 4

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Cruelest Month - Louise Penny

After reading the a Louise Penny mystery a month or so back I went to the library and got another one because I enjoyed this the last one so much! I am not reading them in order but I don’t really feel like it is necessary to understand what is going on. I still haven’t even read the first one from this series! says, “Chief Insp. Armand Gamache and his team investigate another bizarre crime in the tiny Québec village of Three Pines. As the townspeople gather in the abandoned and perhaps haunted Hadley house for a séance with a visiting psychic, Madeleine Favreau collapses, apparently dead of fright. No one has a harsh word to say about Madeleine, but Gamache knows there's more to the case than meets the eye. Complicating his inquiry are the repercussions of Gamache having accused his popular superior at the Sûreté du Québec of heinous crimes in a previous case. Fearing there might be a mole on his team, Gamache works not only to solve the murder but to clear his name.”

This novel was set in April, when the weather is warming up and the snow is melting. It made me excited to read because it will be April here soon (not that I think the Northwest Territories will exactly be snow free come April!). As I said in previous reviews of this series – I love the way the small town of Three Pines is depicted. It is beautiful and I want to live in a place nestled away from the world but not too far away that I can’t get books! This novel made me want to get a café mocha and sit outside and listen to music or read a wonderful book.

This novel was a bit supernatural, there was accusations of witchcraft and murder. There were some dark points but some really funny ones as well. I feel like I am becoming friends with this characters with every page I read. Gamache is still one of my favorite characters. I love how he treats the people he works with and the people in the community. You can tell the people in Three Pines love him – even if he does investigate a ridiculous amount of murders in such a small town.

I am jumping off the murder-mystery train with the next book I plan on reading – but I cant promise I will be off it for long!

Rating - 4

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Gods Behaving Badly - Marie Phillips

I really had no idea what this book was about when I picked it up at the Yellowknife Library book sale. I knew it was on my To Be Read list so I bought it. I was looking over my book shelves looking for a good read (that wasn’t a mystery as I have been tending to read only those lately and really need to broaden my horizons) and my eyes found this. A friend was over and she said she had read it and that it was hilarious. I thought that was exactly what I needed and I was right! says, “The Greek gods and goddesses living in a tumbledown house in modern-day London and facing a very serious problem: their powers are waning, and immortality does not seem guaranteed. In between looking for work and keeping house, the ancient family is still up to its oldest pursuit: crossing and double-crossing each other. Apollo, who has been cosmically bored for centuries, has been appearing as a television psychic in a bid for stardom. His aunt Aphrodite, a phone-sex worker, sabotages him by having her son Eros shoot him with an arrow of love, making him fall for a very ordinary mortal-a cleaning woman named Alice, who happens to be in love with Neil, another nice, retiring mortal. When Artemis-the goddess of the moon, chastity and the hunt, who has been working as a dog walker-hires Alice to tidy up, the household is set to combust, and the fate of the world hangs in the balance. Fanciful, humorous and charming, this satire is as sweet as nectar.”

This book made me laugh out loud within the first few pages. It may not be a book for people who are offended easily though. There are some really funny sex scenes between the gods and goddesses and you always have to kind of forget that they are all related some how. I really liked Apollo. He was so self-centered and ridiculous and the most absurd things came from his mouth that I couldn’t stop laughing.

Artemis was also an awesome character. The scene where she has to fight the 3 headed dog of the underworld and how excited she was to do it was really funny. I also loved how she opened up to the mortals by the end of the book and talked with Neil about her own stuff.

Alice was a little too prim and proper for my taste but I do say she was probably needed in the story to balance the dirtiness of the gods and goddesses. I loved the parts of the novel with her in the underworld. I never pictured anything like what she was experiencing before so it made my imagination work a little harder.

All in all it was a really well written fun book. A good laugh and I would definitely recommend it!

Rating - 4

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Resurrectionist - James Bradley

I bought this book in England last summer and was excited to start reading it. I don’t believe that it is sold in Canada (it wasn’t on amazon anyway. describes the book, “London, 1826: Gabriel Swift has left behind his father’s failures to study with Edwin Poll, the greatest of the city’s anatomists. It is his chance to find advancement by making a name for himself. But instead he finds himself drawn to his master’s nemesis, Lucan, the most powerful of the city’s resurrectionists and ruler of its trade in stolen bodies. Dismissed by his master, Gabriel descends into the violence and corruption of London’s underworld, a place where everything and everyone is for sale, and where – as Gabriel discovers – the taking of a life is easier than it might seem.”

This book was really fun to read in the beginning. I liked that the chapters were short and that I had time to absorb what was happening in each chapter. I found the subject matter really interesting and was waiting for a great gothic story. It didn’t seem to turn out like that though. I had read reviews about the book while I was in the middle of it and those reviewers said that the book seemed like it was missing something or was edited down so it was shorter. I totally agree. I felt the meat of the novel wasn’t there and it left me wondering. I thought the characters were interesting but there was not a lot of depth to them. This especially goes with the character of Lucan. I wish there had of been more character development with him because he would have made an excellent villain. I also feel that I never really figured out what the feud was between Poll and Lucan so that left me a little confused. I feel like the story could have been amazing if more was added to it.

All in all it was an okay read. I don’t know if I would recommend it as there are quite a few other books in the same genre that are much better.

Rating - 2