Thursday, March 31, 2011

Literary Blog Hop: Believing Literary Hype

Literary Blog Hop

This week the Literary Blog Hop asks: Do you find yourself predisposed to like (or dislike) books that are generally accepted as great books and have been incorporated into the literary canon? Discuss the affect you believe a book’s “status” has on your opinion of it.

I don’t like a book just because other people like it, literary or not. I may choose a book based on others’ opinions, but I always reserve judgment until after I’ve read it. I also don’t find I like all books found to be part of the “literary canon”. I’ve mentioned this book several times before, but I couldn’t stand it and barely got through it. William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair is regarded as a literary classic. I enjoy many of Thackeray’s contemporaries. I loved Dicken’s David Copperfield and Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. I just couldn’t deal with Vanity Fair. Sometimes I’d rather forget it, but it’s the best example I have.

I can’t imagine anyone liking all books in the literary canon.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Getting to Know You: Top Ten Authors That Deserve More Recognition

Hmm… The Broke and The Bookish have given us an interesting topic this week, but one I couldn't resist.  Though, I could probably tell you more easily authors who I think get too much recognition/hype. Anyway, here we go, in no particular order.

1. MaryJanice Davidson – She writes fun paranormal romance. There are currently nine books in her Undead series with two more on the way. I’ve read up to book seven. She also writes four other series and numerous short stories.

2. Helen Humphreys – Wrote a book I love, The Lost Garden. It’s a brilliant novel and something any Virginia Woolf fan or fan of World War II fiction should read.

3. Rabindranath Maharaj – I love his short story collection The Book of Ifs and Buts. I couldn’t resist a title like that. It’s a great collection for anyone interested in stories from an immigrant’s perspective.

4. Mercer Mayer – A great children’s author. My daughter loves I Was So Mad. He has tons of stories to his name and I’m happy to be reading them to my child(ren).

5. Gwendolyn MacEwen – She was a brilliant poet, novelist and playwright. My favourite of her works is her play, The Trojan Women. Her life was cut too short. There’s a great biography of her life called, Shadowmaker.

6. Hanan Al-Shaykh – Her novel, Only In London was powerful and moving. A large part of it is about escaping circumstance and finding yourself. I should read more by her.

Well, that’s it. It’s rare that I can’t come up with ten, but this was a difficult one for me.

Who do you think we should know better?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 8: Wolves At The Gate

Wolves At The Gate was fantastic. I am really enjoying what Joss Whedon and his team have done with Buffy in the comics. I have so many reactions after reading this third installment. I love Dracula! Poor Xander. I can’t believe Buffy did that…twice! What is happening to Willow? Who/what is Twilight?


I loved the overall arc of this comic/graphic novel. These vampires have strange powers and the slayers have to deal with them. Enter legendary vampire Dracula, who seems to have a very strange relationship with Xander. I don’t know if the slayers would have been able to defeat the vampire army without him.

One minor problem, why haven’t they fixed Dawn yet? I was thinking they would by now, or at least have a line on how to make her normal sized again. Having her giant-sized was a part of this arc and I know she’s really useful as a giant. Still, this is the third book with her problem not only unchanged, but not really addressed in this installment either.

As with the first two graphic novels, the art was fantastic. The personalities of the characters stay true to the television series, while continuing to evolve. The artists do a wonderful job of capturing their expressions so that their faces and body language help emote what they’re feeling. The writers have not only created a good story, but also kept the quirky personalities intact. I love the little conversation Buffy and Willow have as they watch a falling Satsu.

I’d also like to briefly mention A Beautiful Sunset, the single issue story included with Wolves At The Gate. Unlike the first two graphic novels, A Beautiful Sunset came at the beginning instead of the end. I’m not sure I like that. By the time I reached the end of the novel, my recollection of the single issue story was a bit vague. What I do remember and liked about it, was our glimpse at Twilight, what can probably be thought of as the big “baddie” of Season 8.

After Wolves At The Gate, I’m eager to read the fourth book in Season 8. With my last novel not really “entertaining” me the way I thought it should have, I wanted something I thought would be fun. That’s what this graphic novel gave me. Though not the best of the three I’ve read so far, I was not disappointed and I don’t think other fans will be either.

Other Reviews:
Mervi’s Book Reviews

If you have a review of this book, let me know and I’ll add your link.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Book Blogger Hop: I want to help save the world.

Book Blogger Hop

Harry Potter!!

Why have I type “Harry Potter” so excitedly? Well, it has to do with this week’s question from the Book Blogger Hop, which comes from Mina at Mina Burrows:

"If you could physically put yourself into a book or series…which one would it be and why?"

Though I was in my twenties when I fell for the Harry Potter series, I knew right away that this was a world I wanted to be part of. Going to Howarts would have been much more fun and interesting than my high school experience. I could also relate to Harry, Ron and Hermione (especially Hermione) as I didn’t feel like I belonged at my school; I was a bit of a misfit. It was only because of a couple special friends that I felt my time at high school was more than just academics and getting from one day to the next.

Well, that’s a little deep for the Hop…

What series would you want to be a part of?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bookish Pet Peeves, aka What Grinds My Gears

When I first read this week’s topic for The Broke and The Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday, I wasn’t sure what I would come up with. Then I thought about some recent occurrences and got a bit mad. So, in no particular order, here’s some stuff that really Grinds My Gears.

1. Stickers on books (that don’t come off). One bookstore I frequent will sticker its sale books, but the stickers easily peel off. There are other stores I go to, where I end up leaving the sticker on the book because it would look messy if I tried to remove it. Example: I just picked up a copy of Infidel from Costco. It was on sale and I couldn't’ resist.

2. The early release of romantic/sexual tension in a story. This came to mind because of the book I just finished. Example: A World I Never Made

3. Books where the boys do all the “hard” stuff because they’re boys and the girls have to sit around and be girls. Example: The Lion The Witch & the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian.

4. Stereotyping. If I get too into it, I get mad. Example: see 2.

5. Authors who don’t use quotation marks or some other means of indicating when a character is speaking. It could be dashes or line breaks, but for goodness sakes give me something. Example: Girl meets boy.

6. Calling “Young Adult” a genre. It’s not a genre. Genres exist within Young Adult. Example: Twilight and Eragon are both Young Adult, but they aren’t the same genre.

7. Calling “Graphic Novels” a genre. It’s not a genre. Genres exist within the graphic novel medium. Example: I’ve been reading Stephen King’s Dark Tower graphic novels and they are not in the same genre as 300 or Sin City.

8. A synopsis of the book that doesn’t actually tell you what the book is about. I’m not saying give the plot away, but with a certain book that I’ve already mentioned, on little word would have told me I didn’t want to read it.  Example:  I didn’t want to harp on this book but again, A World I Never Made.  If in the synopsis it had just said “terrorism” or equivalent, I would have said, no, thank you.

9. Dirty books (and I don’t mean erotica. If I have purchased a used book or taken one out of the library, I know there is a chance that it will have dog-eared pages or notes in the margins. I don’t do those things myself, but I can get past them. I just don’t like turning the page and thinking, “What is that?” I drink tea pretty often when I read, but I don’t spill stuff on my books. Example: A copy of The Time Machine I took out of the library. Ick.

10. Notes at the back of the book. I’m a much bigger fan of footnotes than endnotes. It happens mostly in older books. I just feel it breaks up the flow of the story when you have to flip to the back of the book to find out what something means or to what it refers. I much rather glance down to the bottom of the page, quickly find what I need, then continue with the story. Example of endnotes: The Complete Shorter Fiction of Virginia Woolf. Example of footnotes: Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell.

Side Note: Thanks to Family Guy for a phrase that never gets old with me.

What bugs you?

A World I Never Made

James LePore’s suspense novel was sent to me by Pump Up Your Book for Mr. LePore’s book tour. LePore was a practicing lawyer for twenty-five years before retiring in 1999 to focus on writing and photography. A World I Never Made is LePore’s first novel, published in 2009. He has since published a second novel and has one more on the way, along with a small collection of short stories.

Minor SPOILERS, hopefully kept to a minimum.

I was on the fence about the book for most of the way through. The end pushed me over the edge. In a story grounded in reality and world events, the ending threw me. Specifically, the Epilogue. The story is about a father searching for his daughter amid terrorists, gypsies, and French and America Federal agents. Why then do we have the mysterious thirteen-year-old flower girl appear to have been a spirit? Why end the book with a ghost? The supernatural didn’t even come into play through the entire novel. The goals of the characters were to find a missing person and stop the terrorists. The last line beginning, “On angel’s wings…” seemed extremely out-of-place and inappropriate. I don’t think it’s what a person is looking for in this type of book. Of course, I could be wrong.

If Amazon* is to be believed, A World I Never Made is an excellent example of its genre. I don’t know. Maybe I wasn’t the right person to read this book. As I reached about a third of the way through, I thought maybe mysteries weren’t my thing. I’ve never read John Grisham or James Patterson. I didn’t really fancy The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie, though I think that’s a different kind of mystery novel. But then I remembered how much I loved The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and felt more confident in my opinion. This book was not for me, regardless of genre.

When the agent sent me the synopsis for the novel, it said that it was about a father searching for his daughter who faked her own suicide. It sounded interesting. Then I started reading the story and found the terrorists. I don’t think if I had known about the terrorists, I would have read the book. I felt like a lot of these characters were stereotyped. Why was it that the only Arab to help Megan Nolan was a Christian? In addition, I found the most of the French and Gypsy characters portrayed negatively. We had blood-thirsty Muslims, greedy Gypsies and snobbish French.

Despite all that, I found the plot interesting. It wasn’t a simple murder-mystery. The plot was complex, which I can appreciate. It took the reader across Europe and northern Africa. The language used was intelligent and easy to read. Though I found the stereotyping distasteful, I wanted to know what happened at the end.

The individual characters were also interesting, but none of them surprised me. Though the story takes place only over a week, I didn’t feel that any of the characters learned anything, with the exception of Pat and Megan Nolan. As father and daughter, they learned how much they actually loved each other and to what lengths they would go to help each other. As I previously stated, however, what they learned was fairly obvious. I also found the different pairings of parent and child and how they interacted notable. In addition to Pat and Megan, there was Catherine and Daniel, François Duval junior and senior, Corozzo and his son, and Lahani and his son. Their interactions were all different, with wide emotional range, from love to hate.

I would have given this novel a pass; I would have let most of the things that bug me slide, but then I read the epilogue. –That’s the rant I have in the second paragraph.– It really did push me over the edge. Did A World I Never Made fail at its goal. I don’t think so. People who like to read about averting terrorist disasters with a couple odd romances thrown in will probably like this novel. Other people, who perhaps have similar tastes to me, probably won’t.

If anyone else has read this book, I’d really like to know what you thought. As I said, I just don’t think it was the right book for me.

* Note: Normally I only link to the Canadian website, but since that only had one review and the American website had 29, I linked to here, but the first link still goes to

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Book Quizzes

You Are a Hardcover Book

When it comes to reading, you tend to stick to old and modern classics. You are picky about what you read.
You probably anticipate certain books' releases, and you snatch them up the moment they're available.

You have been building a library of books that mean a lot to you. You carefully consider every book before deciding to add it to your collection.
You believe that if a book is worth reading, it's worth paying more to have it in hardcover.

You Are Fantasy / Sci Fi

You have an amazing imagination, and in your mind, all things are possible.
You are open minded, and you find the future exciting. You crave novelty and progress.

Compared to most people, you are quirky and even a bit eccentric. You have some wacky ideas.
And while you may be a bit off the wall, there's no denying how insightful and creative you are.

Your Blogging Type is Pensive and Philosophical

You blog like no one else is reading...
You tend to use your blog to explore ideas - often in long winded prose.
Easy going and flexible, you tend to befriend other bloggers easily.
But if they disagree with once too much, you'll pull them from your blogroll!

You Are a Couplet

You're not much for words, so you write a little ditty.
It might not be a novel, but at least it is witty.

I saw this over at Roof Beam Reader and couldn’t resist. I should be using my time more constructively, but oh well.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Out with the old…

For those who didn’t know, my husband and I are expecting baby number 2. We’re very excited and have a lot to do to prepare. One of those things is dismantling our old office and turning it into our toddler’s room so the baby will get the nursery. Apparently I had a lot of stuff in the closet in that room. My husband just brought me a collection of floppy disks to show me before he threw them out. That’s right, floppy disks, from when I was in high school and I think first year university. Once I saw them, I didn’t want to let them go. One of them had some of my writing from way back then… stuff I’m sure I continued to transfer onto my computers through the years. I wouldn’t be missing anything if that floppy disk went, right? The collection also included some disks with school work on it. I’m not going to want that right? I’m so terrible. How is it I still had that stuff? I didn’t even realize it, then when I saw it, I wanted to keep it. I’m not crazy, right?

Okay, so I told my husband I was writing this post. He read it and either felt bad or wanted to lessen my craziness, so I got to take the floppy out with my old writing on it.

The Foot Book

The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss is one of my daughter’s new favourites. She sees it on the shelf (or where she last discarded it on the floor) and yells, “Foot, foot”. She begins the book herself, saying “Left foot, left foot” and waits [im]patiently for one of us to continue.

I really enjoy The Foot Book as one of the "early" books to read to my toddler. It’s a fun book that teaches, which I think is extremely important for a book at this age. The book reinforces lefts and rights. It also refers to different animals and positions. I think The Foot Book is great; it’s a book that toddlers should definitely have read to them.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Book(s) to Read Before You Die: The Literary Blog Hop Makes Me Think!

Literary Blog Hop

This week Debbie Nance from ReaderBuzz asks: What one literary work must you read before you die? I’m going to follow the example of our hosts at The Blue Bookcase and talk about two books. The first is the book I recommend to everyone, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I’ve spoken of it a few times on this blog. I just think it’s amazing.

What book do I need to read before I die? I think I’d like to read War and Peace before I die. It’s just so huge; I always turn my gaze away and head for something else.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Book Mine Set: The Great Wednesday Compare #8- Atticus Finch VERSUS Anne Shirley

Another great pair from The Book Mine Set's Great Wednesday Comprare. Click on the link below to vote. Who do you like better, Atticus Finch or Anne Shirley. Not a fair comparison, I know, but they often aren't.

The Book Mine Set: The Great Wednesday Compare #8- Atticus Finch VERSUS Anne Shirley

Friday, March 11, 2011

Book Buying Spree – Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop

I couldn’t resist this week’s Crazy Blog Hop question. It comes from Ellie who blogs at Musings of a Bookshop Girl"If I gave you £50 (or $80) and sent you into a bookshop right now, what would be in your basket when you finally staggered to the till?"

It was difficult to narrow it down. $80 barely makes a dent in my wishlist. But here they are:

Many Bloody Returns
The Satanic Verses
World War Z
Generation X
Animal Farm

I’ve been itching to buy most of these books for ages! The list is based on the prices on the Chapters/Indigo website in Canada.

What books top your list?

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Dynamic Duos!

Who makes a great team? Whether Best Friends, Lovers or Siblings, these pairs make the story move. Thanks to The Broke and The Bookish for another great theme. In no particular order, my top ten:

1. Cadderly & Danica from R. A. Salvatore’s The Cleric Quintet. They love each other, they fight the bad guys, they sacrifice. Exactly what you’d want from a fantasy couple.

2. Elinor & Marianne Dashwood from Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. They are a fantastic pair. Better than the Bennetts, in my opinion. Austen really captures the closeness of sisters.

3. Darcy & Lizzy Bennett from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

4. Roland & Jake from Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. A dark duo, surrogate father and son; an interesting pairing from King.

5. Lisbeth Salander & Mikhail Blomkvist from Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. It’s an interesting relationship. They solve a mystery and catch a bad guy, but that’s not what makes this couple so interesting.

6. Elphaba & Galinda from Gregory Maguire’s Wicked. Otherwise known as the Wicked Witch of the West and the Good Witch of the North. Elphaba and Galinda have a love/hate relationship. Elphaba encourages Galinda to see beyond her own selfishness and vanity, each brings out something new in the other.

7. Louis & Lestat from Anne Rice’s Interview With The Vampire. This is another love/hate relationship. Another dark duo. They’re a pair I couldn’t resist.

8. Harry & Ron & Hermione from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. I couldn’t pick two out of the three. They’re all just too great and great together.

9. Sam & Frodo from J.R.R. Tokien’s Lord of the Rings series. This is the love of two people who endure war and hardship together. Together, they saved Middle-Earth.

10. Mariam & Layla from Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns. They don’t save the world, but in a way, they fight darkness. They comfort each other while being forced to live under an oppressive regime. They make life easier by being there for each other. There may be tragedy in their story, but there is also love.

Honourable mention to Eddie & Susannah of the Dark Tower series. I think they’re a great couple, but as the duo from those books, Roland and Jake win out. Another honourable mention goes to Toby & Ren from The Year Of The Flood. Though they spend much of the story apart, their coming together is vital.

Who are your favourite pairs?

Monday, March 07, 2011

A Dialogue Upon Mount Pentecilus, by: Virginia Woolf

A Dialogue Upon Mount Pentecilus is another story in my collection The Complete Shorter Fiction of Virginia Woolf. I read the story, then in the notes section at the back I discovered that Woolf never published this story. It was discovered and published posthumously. It was presumably written in 1906 following a trip Woolf took to Greece and to the title mount.

Normally, I enjoy Woolf’s work, but not this time. The story was boring. It meandered through the plot, though I can’t really speak of a concrete plot. People spoke (hence “dialogue”) and there was a bit of a reveal at the end. Mostly, it was like overhearing the conversation of a few British people talking about what Greeks were like in ancient times versus who they are today.

I think there was a reason Woolf never published this story. It feels unfinished. Once I read that it was published posthumously, I felt more confident in my opinion. Unless you’re a studier of Woolf, I wouldn’t recommend Mount Pentecilus. There are much better, more interesting and complete works of Woolf’s out there to be read.

Thanks to John Mutford at The Book Mine Set for hosting Short Story Monday.

About being equal...

About being equal...

I think it's an important message.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

The Wars

I had been wanting to read something by Timothy Findley for a while. Then, I luckily won a collection of his work from the Pink Sheep Café. (Thanks again!) Then, the difficult part, I had to decide which of these wonderful books I would read. Recently, a blogger I enjoy reading was saying she didn’t like “war” books. I said that it could just depend on the story or author. Is the book about the war or about a person or persons in a war? Plot based or character based? I think that is what makes a real difference.

The Wars is about Robert Ross and his life during the time of World War I. It’s a portrayal of his life. The narrative revolves around his actions and reactions to the world around him. It just isn’t the story of Robert in the war. It begins before he becomes a soldier, with the events that push him into the military. You also get to see how his leaving has affected his family, an aspect of the story that, though it takes place during World War I, is relatable to today.

Beyond just the story, I found this novel darkly educational. The things these soldiers went through were horrific. I understand why for a generation, they called this “The Great War” and “the war to end all wars”. How another war could happen after this one is frightening. There was so much senseless death; it seems the commanders didn’t understand what the men in the trenches were going through. The trenches were some of the most terrible things ever created. People went mad. The Wars is a story for anyone who enjoys historical fiction, character driven narrative, an intense or thought-provoking read. The Wars was a great introduction to Findley’s work.

Other Reviews:
Reading Through Life
Pink Sheep Café

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Literary and Funny?

Literary Blog Hop

This week’s Literary Blog Hop asks: “Can literature be funny? What is your favorite humorous literary book?”

I think any story can be funny or at least have elements of humour. Douglas Coupland’s Eleanor Rigby and The Gum Thief are great novels that I consider literary and they have moments of being funny, but they aren’t funny stories. I agree with Lucia’s response also; Pride and Prejudice is full of humour. Shakespeare is a literary giant and Taming Of The Shrew is a fantastic and hilarious piece of work, not to mention his other comedies.

However, when I think of funny books, where then entire story has the reader laughing, I think more of Chick Lit or even types of Contemporary Fantasy. So just from experience, literature can of course be funny, but the overall book is not usually thought of as humourous.

Who agrees/disagrees?

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Another Blind Assassin Giveaway!

This time it's from C'est La Vie!

Top Ten Books I Had to Have and are STILL Sitting on My Shelf

This week’s Top Ten at The Broke and The Bookish is making me take a real look at the books that have been sitting on my shelf for too long.

1. Binu and the Great Wall, by: Su Tong – I’m not sure when I bought this. It was too long ago. Binu is part of the Myth Series of which I’ve already read six books. I bought this one last June, I think.

2. Son of a Witch / A Lion Among Men, by: Gregory Maguire – I read and loved Wicked. I saw these two books on sale at a used book store and had to have them. I meant to read them right away. I think this was May.

3. The Stand, by: Stephen King – I love Stephen King books. The Stand is supposed to be one of his masterpieces, so I had to buy it. Plus, it was only 50 cents! I think that was fall 2005.

4. It, by: Stephen King – Purchased at the same time as The Stand. Also, supposed to be great. Plus I’ve never seen the movie, so I don’t even know what happens.

5. Brick Lane, by Monica Ali – I don’t even remember what this is about. I just remember that I had to have it and I was so excited when I saw it in my local used bookstore. Hardcover, no wear to speak of and it’s stayed that way for at least the last 5 years. Maybe longer since it was published in 2003.

6. Superheroes and Philosophy, edited by: William Irwin – I’ve been [very] slowly reading the Pop Culture and Philosophy series. I saw this one come out and it was about superheroes! I was so excited I bought it right away and it’s sat on my shelf for 6 years I think.

7. Gods Behaving Badly, by Marie Phillips – I’m pretty sure I bought this at the same time as Binu. The story seemed really interesting and it’s about stuff I like, so when I saw it on sale, I had to get it.

8. L’Affaire, by: Diane Johnson – I bought this around the time the movie Le Divorce came out. I had also purchase Le Mariage at the same time. The reason it’s sat on my shelf since 2003, maybe 2004.

9. JPod, by: Douglas Coupland – I love the books I’ve read by Coupland so far. I heard so many great things about Jpod and the story sounded so interesting that when I saw it on sale, I had to have it. I’m going to say that was about 2 years ago.

10. Blackwood Farm, by: Anne Rice – I was so excited when I bought this book. I had all The Mayfair Witches and was going to start The Vampire Chronicles. Blackwood Farm was bringing both worlds together. My husband had many of the vampire books, so I wouldn’t have to buy those. Like other books on my list, it was on sale when I got it, in 2003.

There is definitely a pattern. I buy a lot of books on sale. There’s something about seeing a $30 hardcover on sale for $9.99 that I can’t resist. This has given me a definite book buying problem. I could have continued with the list, but I stopped myself. I have enough books that I could not buy anything for at least 3 years and not have to worry about running out of stuff to read. Have you got a book buying problem? Which book should I stop putting off?