Sunday, January 31, 2010

a reading filled weekend

What a good weekend! I usually get up well past noon but somehow found myself up at 9am on Saturday AND Sunday! This truly NEVER happens!! I can go usually go to bed at 10pm and STILL sleep until noon.

Getting up that early allowed me to have hours and hours of uninterrupted reading time and still get a lot done. I finished my second Canada Reads novel, Ann-Marie MacDonald's Fall on Your Knees. Wow. I definitely didn't remember anything about this book, however the general "feeling" I get with her work was there. She's a fantastic writer but her books always leave me feeling completely unsettled. I can't decide if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Or maybe both.

So, what to say about Fall on Your Knees. It's about family, endurance, discovery, and is wonderful and yet desperately heartbreaking at the same time. It's an interesting look into the heart and souls of some incredibly complex characters. I might spend some time this week taking a look at the reading group guide to see if it spurs any further thoughts.

I enjoyed Fall on Your Knees but I think I liked Generation X better-as far as Canada Reads goes. Now on to book #3....I think it will be Marina Endicott's Good to a Fault.

What are YOU reading now?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Generation X - My first Canada Reads Review!!

WELL! That was a surprise! After a good 10 years of adamantly hating all ofDouglas Coupland's writing, it turns out that I don't! I read Microserf's last year based on a friend's recommendation and BARELY made it through. I actually considered giving up at least twice-and if you know me you know that I ALWAYS finish my books!

When I realized that Generation X was one of the Canada Read's books, I had serious doubts about committing to the challenge. I decided to read Generation X first in order to get it out of the way, so as not to spend the next month dreading it. BUT-lo and behold I actually quite liked the book!

Coupland's writing was witty and not nearly as pretentious as I though it would be. When I first opened the book and saw cartoons and definitions sprinkled along the margins I honestly cringed-but upon reading the book I totally loved them!! They really added to the vibe! There were no major "oh my god did that actually happen" or "a-ha" moments for me-but I have to say the character development was excellent (character development has apparently become more and more important to me).

I found Generation X to be quite clever and often found myself smiling throughout the book (which would normally make me super self-conscious on the subway, but since I was home sick-and alone-I occasionally indulged in a true LOL).

On a side note-did you know Douglas Coupland designed a park in Toronto. I noticed it last year on the way to dragon boat practice when we (M and B and me) were driving down the Gardiner (or was it Lakeshore-I forget I wasn't driving) and I noticed a big red canoe off to the north! Pretty neat!!

It will be quite interesting to see how the other 4 Canada Reads selections pan out!

Have you read any of Douglas Coupland's books? Fiction or non-fiction? What did you think?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Book review: The Origin of Species by Nino Ricci

I disliked this book almost the entire time I was reading it. Let me explain. From the get-go I thought the writing was quite good. The character development was excellent and the characters were so believable. The problem-I did not like these people. None of them. Not Alex, or Miguel, Maria, Katherine, Amanda, Jiri, Felix, not Ingrid, or Per, NOT EVEN Esther. And I think I was supposed to like Esther. Not Dr. Klein, or Liz, Desmond or Santos! Nobody.

Alex's interactions with the Jiri and with the apartment's management company made me truly feel frustrated and then ultimately defeated-I could feel my blood pressure rising. I felt anxious numerous times during Alex's experiences in the Galapagos Islands. These aren't positive feelings by any means, but they definitely helped in redeeming this book. I've come to realize that when a book can elicit such strong reactions-especially when it's in tune with what you expect the character to be feeling-then the writer is doing something right.
Ultimately, while I may not have loved this book, I must admit I found it to be incredibly realistic and believable. But one last thing-please tell me, beside wrapping everything up in a bow, what was the point of the epilogue?

Next-now on to my second of the Canada Reads books!

It's official-Canada Reads 2010 Challenge

I was off work sick today. Boo! Hopefully it was just because of something I ate last night, and not something related to an outbreak, but either way I felt awful today, and I can't go back to work until Friday (according to the Occupational Health Department). I slept and read on and off, and finished the first of my Canada Reads books-I'll post about that later when I feel more up to it. I will post on the Origin of Species though as that one is mostly done already.

In regards to the Canada Reads-after some perusing on the internet, I came across an awesome blog: Roughing It In The Books…someone almost always dies in the end. It turns out these ladies are running a Canada Reads 2010 challenge with the goal being to read all five books, participate in discussions about the books, and guess who will be the winner of Canada Reads 2010-and there's even a contest!! I love the idea of reading the books with others and will definitely be signing up to join!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Canada Reads 2010 Challenge!!

Canada Reads 2010 is a CBC event that celebrates Canadian literature over a three month period. Five CANADIAN books are chosen and defended by 5 "celebrity" CANADIANS in a battle royal survivor style "online, at public events, and on air". Half-hour on-air debates are held March 8-12 on CBC Radio One with one book getting voted off each week to determine which book Canadians should ultimately read in 2010.

This year's books are as follows: Generation X by Douglas Coupland, Good to a Fault by Marina Endicott, The Jade Peony by Wayson Choy, Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie Macdonald, and Nikolski by Nicolas Dickner.

I have decided to read along too! It's the end of January now, so if I start reading this week I should be able to fit in all 5 books, along with my book club book for February!

What do think? Anyone else up for it?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bookmarks (the kind that mark your place in a book)

I lose bookmarks left, right and centre. Not usually while I'm in the middle of a book (although sometimes it gets caught up in the sheets if I'm reading in bed), but immediately after finishing it. I invariably end up using scrap pieces of paper like old boarding passes.

I currently have one "real bookmark"on the go. It was made by someone in my book club for all of the members on the club's 2nd anniversary! I got it in the spring and then "lost it" in the apartment somewhere for a good 6 months. I came across it last week while I was rearranging my book case, and it promptly bumped out the boarding pass.

I have received a few cool bookmarks as gifts. One from my parents from a trip they took to France-I used it lovingly for a few months before I lost it. Another-my favorite-from my sister in law. It's from Australia and has a little silver kangaroo that hangs off the spine of the book. I love this bookmark more than any other bookmark, and therefore I DO NOT USE IT. I am too worried that I will lose it on the subway! I rarely read more than one book at a time, and if I do it' s because one book is too big or heavy to put in my purse. When these occasions arise I use my "on the go" or "scrap paper/boarding pass" bookmark for the book that goes with me, and use my awesome little kangaroo bookmark for the book that stays at home.

At least if I lose the kangaroo in the apartment, I have a chance of finding him again in 6 months!

Do you have a favorite bookmark?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Book Review: The Birth of Venus

This book was....well....ok. There was nothing necessarily wrong with the book, but the entire time I was reading I kept thinking -I think I've read this before. Considering the amount of reading I do this was a distinct possibility -however I checked my booklist (I've been keeping track of the books I've read since we moved here in September 2007) and The Birth of Venus was not on the list. What was on the list was I, Mona Lisa by Jeanne Kalogridis in August 2009.

The similarities between the books are as follows:
- set in Florence
- in the late 1400s
- the rise of Savonarola and his increasingly "pious" preaching
- the main characters are young women from "good families"
- the woman are "rebellious" i.e. they are inquisitive, love to learn and read, interested in art
- the woman is married off to an older prominant man
- he has a lover (male in The Birth of Venus-I can't remember for I, Mona Lisa)
- male characters+sodomy+"pious preaching"
- she falls in love with an artist
- she gets pregnant "whose baby is it??"
- she finds out here mother did the same thing with one of the Medicis "whose my daddy?"
- the city revolts
- the husband dies or leaves
- the woman is reunited with her true love/baby daddy

No I must be admit, I really enjoy historical fiction! I purposely choose books with these themes or in these settings, so it was bound to happen. This book wasn't bad-I did enjoy it, but when you're thinking "I've read this before" the WHOLE time you're reading a book, its not very exciting!

One thing that caught my attention was how often Dante's Inferno was mentioned in the book. This reminded me of The Gargoyle as it is central to the love story between the narrator and Marianne.

I think I might have to read Inferno, or maybe even all of Dante's Divine comedy....
What do you think? Has anyone else read any or all of it?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I did it.....

I cracked! I had a cadbury cream egg!!!! They've been out for over a week and I've managed to restrain myself...until now....mmmmmmmmmmm delicious!

reading on the subway

I have never been able to read while in the car. When we moved to Toronto without a car and I got a job with a 40-45 minute commute I was quite concerned! How would I pass the time? I am NOT a morning person, and have never been one to strike up a chat with strangers. While listening to music is enjoyable, I would rather be reading!

I figured that left me with my good old Ipod and I assumed I would have to rely on audiobooks again!! I got into audiobooks in grad school when my eyes were too tired to read after pouring over textbooks and planning therapy sessions. I NEED TO READ before bed. It's how I relax. Since I couldn't read my books I decided to listen to them I listen before bed, driving to and from class, and driving from school in North Dakota/Minnesota back home to Winnipeg. I went through all of the Harry Potter Books (after reading them twice already), made my way as an adult through The Chronicles of Narnia, a number of Dan Brown's books (Deception Point very nearly ended up smashed to pieces on I-29 thanks to the nagging voice of the narrator), and a few chick-lit novels as well! I loved every minute of my audioboks, but boy was I glad when grad school was done and I could finely get my hands on real live PAPER books!!

So back to reading on the subway-I CAN READ ON THE SUBWAY!! By some miracle unknown to me (because I still can't read in the car without waves of nausea coursing through my body), I can now get through page after page after page with no problem!! With 90 minutes of (usually) uninterrupted reading every day, I can almost get my fill of reading....almost!

The New York Times has an article about top reads on the subway. I've read 6/21 of the Top Books! How about you? Have you read any of the top magazines, books, or newspapers?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

And now for a little beading

With a title like Reading, beading, and more reading, I better get some beading in here!! This is a picture of a bracelet I designed and created! My friend B. introduced me to beading sometime last year-and I love it! I generally copy designs and I don't feel bad about it one bit because I'm not selling anything, I make it for myself! I am quite proud of this bracelet because I came up with it ALL BY MYSELF and I even picked out the beads without any input!!

I mostly make earrings and necklaces, this is the 2nd or 3rd bracelet, and definitely my favorite!! I really like making earrings as gifts, so if you know me and haven't received a pair as a gift, chances are you will. It's kind of hard giving them away though because once I've finished a piece I generally love it and don't want to part with it! So if you have received a piece from me-you know it was made with love!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

why I love amazon

I love checking out my local bookstores like BMV and Seekers. I love walking up in and down the aisle looking for something specific, for something to grab my eye, or a great deal. I simply love the feeling of being surrounded by books. I could spend I could spend days in the book store.

But I can't lie. I ADORE amazon. It's very convenient. I especially like the suggestions it provides me. Yes I know I could probably get excellent suggestions at my local bookstores, HOWEVER, the local bookstore cannot tell me that people who bought Three cups of Tea ALSO bought The Book of Negroes, The Glass Castle, AND Long Way Gone. They also don't give me recommendations based on books I've already bought or said I owned the second I walk through the door. But the best part about amazon-in my opinion-is the wish list. I often ask for books for my birthday of christmas, but because I read so much, it's hard for people to know what to get. With the wish list I can update it at anytime to reflect what I've read and what I want to read. I actually end up using it more for myself to keep track of the books I want to read, and as long as they aren't brand new....I usually head over to my local bookstore to see if I can find them there first. Or the library. But the library deserves a whole post of its own!!

So readers where do you like to get your books??

Monday, January 18, 2010

My top 10 books of 2009

  1. The Book of Negroes - Lawrence Hill
  2. The Gargoyle - Andrew Davidson
  3. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
  4. The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor - Sally Armstrong
  5. Three Cups of Tea - Greg Mortenson
  6. The Forgotten Garden - Kate Morton
  7. The Summer Tree - Guy Gavriel Kay
  8. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  9. Shanghai Girls - Lisa See
  10. The Historian - Elizabeth Kostova
What did you think about these books?
What was your favorite book of 2009?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Exploring new places

I'm not sure exactly how it happened, but I came across this really neat website: BiblioTravel. It allows you to search and add books based upon where they are set. I have always loved reading books that are set in the city I live in, or cities I've visited, it makes me feel connected to the book and the characters. I love coming across a familiar intersection or landmark in a book! It's sort of corny I guess but I love the feeling of "Hey I know where that is" or "I've been there!!!".
Check it out-I recommend looking up the city you live in, or somewhere you're planning on traveling to!

Let me know of anything interesting you come across on this site!!

Number 1

So now I have a blog. I'm a blogger. I know I'm supposed to have a great title to grab your (who are you anyway??) attention, and then have an incredibly interesting post to keep you coming back for more. So how do I do that?? I guess I have to decide what to write about. Well, I love to read, and that's my starting point. I am never at a loss for words so I always have something to say about any given topic so I guess we'll just see where this goes. I say "we" in the hopes that you, yes YOU, will come along for the ride.
You never know this could be fun....