Monday, January 31, 2011

The Final Book From: What Is Stephen Harper Reading?

It's the end of an era! Yann Martel will no longer be sending Stephen Harper books. Martel's final letter is an interesting one.  Click the link below to learn more.

Book Number 100: Scorched, by Wajdi Mouawad, translated from the French by Linda Gaboriau

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Year Of The Flood

The Year Of The Flood is Margaret Atwood’s latest novel about the world gone wrong. It is the same dystopian world she envisioned with the novel Oryx and Crake. The world has been decimated by a plague. The Year Of The Flood focuses on two women, who aren’t separated by a great distance, but each believes they are alone. They aren’t sure how long they are going to survive; their food sources are dwindling. Will they find each other or anyone else?

The Year Of The Flood is an intense read. So much happens in just over four hundred pages. I had to put the book down a few times to think about what had just happened. It was beautifully and intelligently written. The story was exciting and unique. It took the worst of human nature and accentuated it, then sprinkled it with the best. The Gardeners seemed like a crazy cult, but who were the ones to survive the Waterless Flood?

The main characters, Toby and Ren, are amazing people. Toby has been hardened over the years through her many trials, before and after The Flood. Everyone, including Ren, thinks Ren is weak, but she has to be strong to survive everything she has and not end up giving up on life. The last hundred pages are so exciting that I could barely put it down.

I read Oryx and Crake a few years ago, but I don’t think it’s necessary to read it first. The Year Of The Flood is not a sequel, it’s a parallel story. Many of the characters overlap, including the main ones, but I don’t think it takes away from the story. I want to re-read Oryx and Crake now, because I don’t think I remember the story as well as I thought. The first thing I thought about Jimmy was that I don’t remember Jimmy/Snowman being such an @$$hole. I don’t remember reading about some of the other characters either. I definitely need a break from the intensity though. Bad things happen to good people. Happiness is frail and fleeting. This book is about truth and possibility. The Year Of The Flood is one of Atwood’s best.

Other's Reviews:
The Book Mine Set
Kate's Bookcase
So Many Books 
Literary Musings
If you've reviewed this book, let me know and I'll add your link.

Back to Hopping

Book Blogger Hop

I haven’t done Crazy-for-Books’ Blog Hop in a while! I’m late this weekend too. As I’m trying to ensure that I have my own life and not everything has to involve my kid, pregnancy or husband, I wanted to join in this week. This week’s question: What book are you most looking forward to seeing published in 2011? Why are you anticipating that book?

I’m really looking forward to Charlaine Harris’s eleventh book in the Southern Vampire Mysteries, Dead Reckoning. I love this series. They way Dead In The Family ended makes me so excited to see what happens next.

I’d like to also say that I hope The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest comes out in paperback.

The Broke and The Bookish had a Top Ten with this theme just a little while ago. I didn’t participate mostly due to morning sickness, but you should still check out their page.

What books are you looking forward too?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dead In The Family

Dead In The Family is Charlaine Harris’s tenth book in the Southern Vampire Mysteries.. Ten books about Sookie Stackhouse and her eventful life! I think this might be the only long series where I’ve read every novel in it.

The title of book ten is very appropriate to what the story is about, family. We get an expanded look at Sookie’s family. Sam has to deal with his family problems. New light is shone on Bill’s vampiric family. Eric opens up to Sookie about his family, then his Maker shows up, complicating their lives. Death is also a theme among a couple of these families. Someone dies or a death in the past has repercussions in the present.

In this installment, possibly more than any of the others, the reader really gets to see how Sookie has changed as a person. Sookie was, perhaps, idealistic in the first book, Dead Until Dark. So much has happened since then. Things that Sookie once thought were wrong, don’t seem so bad anymore. What she had to endure in the last book, Dead and Gone has really affected her. Her morality has shifted; she has problems calling herself a Christian. You see Sookie change throughout the series, but I think Dead In The Family underlines that change.

I know Dead In The Family has gotten mixed reviews. Some have called it just a “set-up” book and now they’re waiting for the next one. I don’t completely agree. I’m with the people who enjoyed it. Even though there are a bunch of loose ends just waiting for the next installment, I feel that Dead In The Family gives us more knowledge about our main characters than some of the other books have.

Other Reviews:
The Steel Bookshelf
Lucybird’s Book Blog
On A Pale Star
Let me know if you've reviewed it and I'll add your link.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Books I Wish I'd Read as a Kid

1. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, by: C.S. Lewis
2. The Hobbit, by: J.R.R. Tolkien
3. Goodnight Moon, by: Margaret Wise Brown
4. Where The Wild Things Are, by: Maurice Sendak
5. Alice In Wonderland, by: Lewis Carroll
6. Peter Pan, by: J.M. Barrie

Some of these books I've now read, but some I still haven't.  An honourable mention goes to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, (as well as the rest of the series). I would have read it as a kid, but it was published when I was seventeen, then I didn’t actually hear about it until I was 19. I did read it a couple years later and now, I absolutely love the series.

I couldn’t make it to ten this week. I honestly read a lot of good books as a kid, Anne of Green Gables, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and an assortment of Dr. Seuss and that’s just what I can think of off hand. I just bought The Monster At The End Of This Book for my daughter because I loved it so much as a kid. I hope that my kids grow up with the love for reading I did.

Thanks to the Broke and the Bookish for another great Top Ten Tuesday!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Friday, January 21, 2011

15 Authors in 15 Minutes

I found this exercise at Whatcha Readin’, Books? (and decided to put up my results on both my blogs). The instructions are pretty simple and I enjoy the results. So:

• List fifteen authors (poets included) who've influenced you or who stick with you.
• Select the first fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes. No particular order required.
• Don't take too long to think about it.

Here is what who I thought of:

1. Stephen King
2. Margaret Atwood
3. Michael Ondaatje
4. William Shakespeare
5. Douglas Coupland
6. William Wordsworth
7. Samuel Taylor Coleridge
8. Virginia Woolf
9. Mary Shelley
10. R.A. Salvatore
11. Gwendolyn MacEwan
12. H.G. Wells
13. Hanan Al-Shaykh
14. J.K. Rowling
15. Khaled Hosseini

This didn’t take me as long as I expected it too, only about two minutes. I actually had more than 15 for when I finished, but then I looked at the list and saw that I was reaching, trying to be too intellectual about my choices. Of the authors I have here, some of them I’ve read quite a few of their works, others I’ve only read one or two. Each of the authors have influenced me as a reader and a writer.

That was the official (?) exercise. However, instead of just giving you a list of authors, I thought that I’d also give you a title by each of them, if you’re so inclined to try one of them out and are not sure where to start I have a suggestion.

1. The Dark Tower 1: The Gunslinger
2. A Handmaid’s Tale
3. In The Skin Of A Lion
4. A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream
5. The Gum Thief
6. A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal
7. Rhyme Of The Ancient Mariner
8. Flush
9. Frankenstein
10. The Crystal Shard
11. Trojan Women
12. The Time Machine
13. Only In London
14. Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone
15. A Thousand Splendid Suns

What authors have influenced you? Leave a link below if you make your own list and I’ll stop by.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Literary Blog Hop – Books I Was Forced To Read

Literary Blog Hop

This week’s prompt: Discuss a work of literary merit that you hated when you were made to read it in school or university. Why did you dislike it?

The Blue Bookcase prompt is difficult for me for two reasons. I don’t like discussing works I don’t like; University was a while ago and I tend to block out books I don’t like. Part of me feels bad about not liking a novel, especially a literary work that has somehow stood the test of time, that is studied and that other people adore. I do agree with Lucia at The Blue Bookcase, however, not liking a book does create more lively discussion.

One book I’ve mentioned here previously is William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair. I read it during my “Victorian Literature” class (the class wasn’t actually called that, it gave some dates, but it was the Victorian era, so that’s what I call it to make it easier). I read some great books by Dickens, the Brontës and Hardy. When I started reading Vanity Fair I couldn’t get into it. I found the characters flat and the style boring. It was made into a movie a few years ago, which I didn’t see and flopped at the box office. It was the most disappointing read in a class full of wonderful literature.

So that I’m not constantly harping on Thackeray, I thought I’d mention Canadian author Hugh Hood. I took a wonderful 20th Century Canadian Literature class. It was one of my favourite classes in University. I discovered so many fantastic authors; it made me want to read more by Canadians. In that class, we were assigned to read Hood’s A New Athens. It was boring. I don’t even really remember the plot. There were landscapes and wilderness and so much boredom packed into such a little book. I looked up a synopsis on Wikipedia that was vague; I looked at and it didn’t have one; I looked at, which had a short synopsis and it actually made the book sound interesting. I don’t know if I wasn’t “ready” to read that book or if it was just very different from the other books in that class, but I didn’t like it. Unlike Vanity Fair I’d be willing to try reading it again.

Do you like one of the books I don’t? What don’t you like?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Undead and Unworthy


Undead and Unworthy is the seventh book in MaryJanice Davidson’s Undead series. It was a refreshingly light and easy read after my last novel. Queen Betsy Taylor is just what I wanted her to be. There’s someone who’s come to overthrow her, as usual. There’s another ghost bothering her and it’s a surprise as to who it is. The end is also surprisingly sad. I had to re-read a small part to make sure I didn’t misunderstand; it was a bit of a shock. Betsy gets a win, but also suffers a loss.

There’s not much new to say. The characters, plot and style were in keeping with the books that have come before. At the beginning of the book, Davidson includes a note to readers, which says that this novel is the first in a three book story arc. Davidson calls it a trilogy within a series. I’m excited to see what she brings in the next two books. I wonder how the Wyndam Werewolves will be involved. Undead and Unworthy was a nice, comforting read.

Other Reviews:
If you’ve reviewed this book, let me know and I’ll add your link.

Top Ten Inspirational Characters

I’m back doing the Top Tens from The Broke and The Bookish. They have a great topic this week, Inspirational Characters.

1. Éowyn – The Lord of The Rings, The Two Towers & Return Of The King (J.R.R. Tolkien)
2. Offred – A Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
3. Mariam – A Thousand Splendid Suns (Khaled Hoseini)
4. Elphaba – Wicked: The Life And Times Of The Wicked Witch Of The West (Gregory Maguire
5. Elizabeth Bennet – Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
6. Susannah Dean – The Dark Tower Series (Books 2 to 7) (Stephen King)
7. Princess Elizabeth – The Paper Bag Princess (Robert Munsch)
8. Hermione Granger – Harry Potter Series (J.K. Rowling)
9. Danica – The Cleric Quintet Series (R.A. Salvatore)
10. Atticus Finch – To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)

Honourable Mentions to Lisbeth Salandar from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and Jane Eyre from Jane Eyre.

After re-reading the list, I realize that all but one of my characters is female. Maybe they’re who I identify with? About half of them live in male-dominated societies. Most of the characters deal with some kind of oppression. In their own ways, they’re all fighters. They fight for the truth, what they believe in, their own ideals. Maybe I like a person who can overcome the odds.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie

I finished The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie at least a month ago. It has taken me a long time to work up to this review. One of the reasons is that I haven’t been feeling well (see previous post). Another reason has been the absolutely hectic holiday schedule. Finally, and probably the most serious reason, I hate writing bad reviews.

I really thought I was going to enjoy Alan Bradley’s debut novel. I heard so many good things about it. I won this novel from The Lost Entwife and I was so excited. It’s essentially about a girl’s attempt at solving the mystery of who murdered the man she found in her garden. It’s set in England, in the 1950s. The girl, Flavia, has two older sisters; they play mean tricks on each other. They have an aloof father, still grieving the death of their mother.

It took me over a month to finish it. Sweetness wasn’t poorly written. The writing was fluid and intelligent. Bradley definitely paints a clear picture. The plot was fine. I didn’t find it incredibly exciting, but I did feel it was original. The main problem I had was with the characters. I couldn’t connect with any of them. I found them all annoying and unrealistic. I suppose I kind of like Dogger, but that was it.

I understood Flavia as an intelligent chemistry genius. She has excellent problem solving skill and a vivid imagination. I just found her interactions with the older (sometimes much older) characters too unbelievable. She is eleven and the police detective just lets her do what she wants. A teenager becomes her co-conspirator, really? I can’t imagine a seventeen-year-old feeling like a child six years younger could be on the same level as her. You’d also think an older sister would be more maternal to her baby sister. There was just so much about the story, not just Flavia, that I found outrageous. Was it all really about a stamp? How could the old professor do that to his stamp? No one seemed real and I wanted to throttle everyone. Because the book was well written, I’d be willing to give Bradley another chance, I just don’t know if I’ll go out of my way to read another of his novels.

The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie is a popular book. I know Marce at Tea Time With Marce loved it and Flavia was her favourite character of 2010. Since it seems that I am an exception, I’ve decided to start doing something with my posts that I haven’t done before. I’m going to include at the bottom other bloggers who have read the same book. They’ll likely be blogs that I read; I’m not planning on doing an crazy web searches, I just don’t have the time. If you’ve read the book, please feel free to leave me a comment or email me and I’ll add your link to the list.

Other Reviews:

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Back and Stylish

I’ve been awarded the Stylish Blog Award by Teacher/Learner at Whatcha Readin’, Books? Thank you! For just over a month now, I’ve been out of the blogosphere. It’s nice to know that I’ve been missed. So what’s kept me away from blogging for the last little while? Two words, my friends, Morning Sickness. That’s right. My husband and I are expecting our second baby this summer. I’m hoping that with the second trimester now starting, I’ll get back to my usual blogging pace and back to life in general. That is, until the baby is born and life gets turned upside-down all over again.

Back to my lovely, first award ever! Here are the rules:

- Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them in your post.
- Tell us 5 things about yourself.
- Award 5 super-stylish bloggers this award
- Contact those bloggers and let them know they have won.

I did the first thing (thanks again!)

Five things about myself:

1. I already told you one thing; it’s baby time again!
2. My average novels read per year is just over 50.
3. I majored in English and philosophy.
4. My favourite movies are probably Dirty Dancing and The Fifth Element.
5. My toddler doesn’t say, “blueberries”, she says, “boobies”. I’m serious. I guess that’s not really something about me, but I think it’s hilarious and I have to tell everyone.

Five Stylish Bloggers:

2. Lydia at The Lost Entwife
4. Brenna at Literary Musings
5. Robbie at Pink Sheep Café

They are five different blogs with intersesting reading tastes, review styles and looks. I enjoy them all.

I have a few posts on the go. I hope to have them up soon. I’d also like to get back into participating in the memes I enjoy so much. I’ll probably not do every meme, every week. My participation will likely be part topic based and partly based on how yucky I’m feeling. Yay Babies!