Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins #191

Hello blog readers!! I am on vacation in Winnipeg minus my bag which ended up in Vancouver...but I am! I don't know how much blogging I'll do but here is a Friday Fill-In to tide us over....

My answers are in red!

1. You do your thing; I do mine and sometimes we do thing together and it's more fun!

2. Getting my bag is what's been on my mind on and off all day.

3. Remember when we laughed all night...oh ya that was last night!

4. Reading, beading, and more reading are three of my favorite obsessions :-)

5. During the last year I started this blog.

6. My nephews and niece put a smile on my face.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to my sister-in-law's wedding tomorrow my plans include the day after party and more time with family and Sunday, I want to see MORE family!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Booking Through Thursday: Giving Up

So this week's Booking Through Thursday question is: "If you’re not enjoying a book, will you stop mid-way? Or do you push through to the end? What makes you decide to stop?"

This is very much like the question from May 6, 2010: "So … you’re halfway through a book and you’re hating it. It’s boring. It’s trite. It’s badly written. But … you’ve invested all this time to reading the first half. What do you do? Read the second half? Just to finish out the story? Find out what happens? Or, cut your losses and dump the second half?"

My answer from that question can be found here. As I said in May, FINISH IT! The only difference to my answer is that I am now better and stopping a book I'm not enjoying very early on so I don't tend to get to this point. However, if it's a book for my book club, then I will finish it no matter what!!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Book Review: The Swallows of Kabul

This is the second book that I borrowed from a friend in my book club. I read this in July so this is again another fairly belated review. In Yasmina Khadra's (pen name of Algerian author Mohammed Moulessehoul) The Swallows of Kabul, we meet two couples living in Taliban controlled Afghanistan. In my opinion, the novel comes down to how the uncharacteristic brutality of person's action can be the catalyst that changes the course of four lives. Three quarters of the way into this book a heart wrenching sacrifice reminded me that I had in fact read this book before  (pre 2007 when I started keeping track!). Like the Kite Runner, Khadra's The Swallows of Kabul sheds light on a tumultuous period for Afghanis.

I did not so much "enjoy" this book , but I was thoroughly moved by how people can face such adversity and continue their attempts to move forward through tragedy.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Book Review: The Incident Report

I came across Toronto writer Martha Baillie's The Incident Report while browsing on  I'm not sure which book I was originally looking at when I scrolled down to the "Customers who bought this item also bought..." section. I love that section and as I mentioned in a comment response to my mom the other day, this is how I find MANY books!!

The Incident Report begins with a number of blank Incident Report Forms and goes on to 144 Incident Reports. When I initially saw that this was going to be in report format I almost put the book down, because I wasn't looking to read separate short stories. It's a good thing I forged ahead because this was an interesting read.

The 144 incident reports are more like short stories, written from the perspective of Miriam, a librarian at the Allen Garden's branch of the Public Libraries of Toronto (or TPL in real life) but there are a number of different plot lines weaved throughout. What we first see are the library's many users, the "regulars" like Suitcase Man, and then simply "a female patron"-these characters show us how working at the library can bring in many different characters-and how not everyone that uses the library is interested simply in books. Another involves the interactions and relationships between colleagues, while yet another allows entry into the Miriam's childhood, specifically her relationship with her father. We learn of one patron's infatuation with Rigoletto (form the Opera) and his almost stalker like actions of leaving notes related to both the opera and to Miriam that is definitely creepy! We also follow Miriam as she falls in love with Janko, a Slovenian painter who is relegated to driving a cab in Canada. 

Baillie's use of 144 Incident Reports is fairly unique, and definitely refreshing. This format (and length-195 not always full pages) made for a very quick read-basically my subway ride to and from work on Friday!! Not only was it quick, it was interesting. I liked reading about the unusual things people do when they come into the library. For me that was the best part. I love the library, and although I largely frequent the online presence of the library for hold requests I do pck up my materials at the Spadina branch. After three years of in and out of the Spadina branch, I can recognize a few people that aren't there just for the book. I often wonder what's your story-and now I wonder, what do tihe librarians think and what are your interactions like?!?

Book Review: The Book of Lost Things

John Connolly's The Book of Lost Things was exactly what I was in the mood for.  As Connolly says this is "...a story about  stories and their power to alter our existences and to shape the adults we will become".

A young boy named David's love of stories comes from his mother's influence; stories can come to life if only you were to read them! David's mother becomes sick and passes away just before world war 2, and he begins to have seizure like fits, and hears books talking. His father tells him that Rose is pregnant, and  that he and Rose will married, and that they all move to Rose's house where there is more room. When Georgie is born,  David is consumed by jealousy and anger, does his father love Georgie more?

While roaming outside, David realizes that whenever he comes close to the small walled-in garden in Rose's yard that his "fits" come on more readily, and that he can see and hear things-including an ominous creature looking through the things in his bedroom. One night David decides to enter the garden just as as a fighter plane crashes into his yard. David finds himself in another world, chasing after his mother's elusive voice. We are left wondering (even in the end) is this other world real, or  does it exist solely in the imagination and dreams of this young boy?

This new world is a mixture of The Chronicles of Narnia and The Brother's Grimm. David meets helpful and harmful creatures along the way, a woodsman-helpful, the Loup-harmful werewolf-like creatures on the prowl to take down the kingdom, the Crooked Man-harmful, cunning, and deceitful, and Roland-a soldier and ally. David must make his way through this world to find the king and his Book of Lost Things in order to make his way back home. Along the way David faces his many of his own fears, and rises to each challenge with courage and intellect. In the end David must decide what is true and what is false, not only in this strange world, but also in his own, and in the end is he willing to sacrifice his half brother Georgie for the life he once knew.

Who doesn't like a story with the possibility of another world where fairy tales are true, and our pasts can be escaped. Connolly's novel was magical and real in equal parts-I devoured this book in less than two (working) days! A great read.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins #190

As always my Friday Fill-Ins  answers are in red.

1. Laughter is soooooo important in any relationship!!

2. "My friends and " are the three words that started off the last email I sent.

3. What I'm most looking forward to today is getting my hair cut!

4. David always puts a smile on my face.

5. Where in the world is Carmen SanDiego?

6. A sleep in is just what I needed!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to getting my hair cut, tomorrow my plans include sleeping in, and Sunday, I want to win our baseball game!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Booking Through Thursday: Questions!!!

This week's Booking Through Thursday is a LONG list of questions-here we go!

1. Favorite childhood book?
Anne of Green Gables

2. What are you reading right now?
I literally JUST finished The Book of Lost Things-review to follow.

3. What books do you have on request at the library?
The Ladies' Lending Library, The Sparrow, Say you're One of Them, Sacred Hearts, Cutting for Stone, The Children's Book, Hotel on The Corner of Bitter and Sweet, The Mistress of Nothing, The Help

4. Bad book habit?
hmmmmm.......letting the covers get bent in my bag (although I personally believes this shows how they are loved)

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
The Book of Lost Things, The Fourth Queen, The Incident Report, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane.

6. Do you have an e-reader?

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
One at a time. If a book is too big to carry in my purse then sometimes I will have a book for taking with me on the subway to wokr, and another one for home only.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
Not at all.

9. Least favorite book you read this year (so far?)
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?
Toss up between The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson (although I read it this eyar for the second time), and Lev Grossman's The Magicians

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?

12. What is your reading comfort zone?
That's ahrd to answer-it is NOT:westerns, romance, (ok a little chick lit-but not shopoholic!), horror, crime novels generally, non-fiction, biographies, no Douglas Coupland-even if Generation X was not AS TERRIBLE as I expected.

13. Can you read on the bus?
Not really, but the subway YES!

14. Favorite place to read?
Anywhere really, but the best is when it's rainy and I'm warm and cuddled up in a blanket-oohh on the veranda at Lake of The Woods with the previous conditions!!

15. What is your policy on book lending?
I think I might push my books on people too much!! I love lending books and if they come back with some bends, cracks, or rips, I hope it's because you loved reading it so much you brought it everywhere!!

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
Sometimes. I prefer book marks though.

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
I've started to! Again, it's an act of love! OR frustration!!

18. Not even with text books?
I ALWAYS wrote in my textbooks!!

19. What is your favorite language to read in?

20. What makes you love a book?
If I am so enthralled that I don't hear you calling my name!!

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
If something in th ebook spoke to me, or see answer to #20!

22. Favorite genre?
It depends on my mood. Sometiems historical fiction, soemktimes sci-fi, sometimes "literature"

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?)
mmmmm maybe mysteries.

Favorite biography?
Not a fan.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
No. Well I listedn to The Secret on audiobook (if that counts). I hated it. I also tried to read A New Earth-but I also hate it.

26. Favorite cookbook?
Easy Beans.

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
The Man Who Forgot How To Read – Howard Engel

28. Favorite reading snack?
Hmmmmm...I usually take a break to snack...maybe popcorn!

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.

The Angel’s Game – Carlos Ruiz Zafon but the hype was entirely of my own making!!

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
I don't tend to read critics!

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
I started a blog to share my opinions and experiences so if I don't like something I'll say that-but I try not to be cruel.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?
Italian. It sounds AND LOOKS beautiful.

33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?
I can't think of one.

34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
Again, I can't think of one!

35. Favorite Poet?
Not a huge poetry fan. I always liked RObert Frost's The Road Not Taken.

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
hmmm 5-9 with another 10 or so on hold.

37. How often have you returned book to the library unread?
Rarely. I used to feel guilty if I didn't read a book I took out of the library-not so much anymore though! I usually requests books that I know I want to read, and even then I tend to finish a book because I sstill DO feel guilty not finishing books.

38. Favorite fictional character?
Anne of Green Gables, Aminata from the Book of Negroes.

39. Favorite fictional villain?
I can't think of one.

40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?
Anything by Maeve Binchy, anything that is on my library hold list at any given time. I usually like to get a book started when I go on vacation otherwise, I have a hard time getting focused to read.

41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.
Hours. For example, I finished a book on the subway today, and I will be reading a magazine on the way to book club, but will be starting my next book tonight.

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
One Hundred Years of SOlitude. BOOORING!! Also, too many same or similar names!!

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
If I am truly absorbed in abook then nothing! Otherwise-facebook! that's sad but true.

44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
All Harry Potter novels, but evenmore so, all of The Lord of The Rings books-it's like they took the images right from my brain. Creepy.

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
Hmmmmm......Inothing comes to mind except Twilight...

46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
If textbooks count then over $500

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
Never-but I will read the back cover!!

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
If I was half way through then I woudl keep reading. I amnow able to stop reading a book if I am no more than 1/4 of the way through -which is better thanforcing yourself to read every book you start!!

49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
Yes. By colour. For real.

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
Keep and lend out!

51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
hmmmmm no. If I'm not interested I won't read something-doesn't mean I'm avoiding it!

52. Name a book that made you angry.
Loving Frank.

53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
Twilight-well the whole series.

54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
The Angel's Game. I built up Zafon's The Shadow of The Wind and was let down!

55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
I've mentioned her name already-but Maeve Binchy!!

Book Review: Bastard Out of Carolina

A friend from book club leant me a couple of books a few months ago and I was finally able to get to them in mid-late July. (Yes, this is a belated post!! One of four actually).

It's been a few weeks since I read Bastard out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison
. has a perfect synopsis of the book so I will borrow it: "Set in the rural South, this tale centers around the Boatwright family, a proud and closeknit clan known for their drinking, fighting, and womanizing. Nicknamed Bone by her Uncle Earle, Ruth Anne is the bastard child of Anney Boatwright, who has fought tirelessly to legitimize her child. When she marries Glen, a man from a good family, it appears that her prayers have been answered. However, Anney suffers a miscarriage and Glen begins drifting. He develops a contentious relationship with Bone and then begins taking sexual liberties with her. Embarrassed and unwilling to report these unwanted advances, Bone bottles them up and acts out her confusion and shame. Unaware of her husband's abusive behavior, Anney stands by her man. Eventually, a violent encounter wrests Bone away from her stepfather.-Kimberly G. Allen, National Assn. of Home Builders Lib., Washington, D.C (From

Bastard Out Of Carolina was a very raw, emotional read!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Book Review: Loving Frank

Nancy Horan's Loving Frank is my book club's selection for August-we're meeting tomorrow. I don't usually say too much about my book club reads on here because I like to save it for the discussions at our meet up. I will say a few things however!

I have picked this book up many times at the book store to read the back cover (yes I do that!!) since it came out in 2007, only to put it back down again. In a nutshell, Loving Frank is MamahBorthwick's story of her extramarital affair with the infamous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. I have always had a hard time reading (or watching movies) about affairs or cheating. I have not cheated, nor to the best of my knowledge have I been cheated on. I do not say this to say I'm better than people who have- I say it because I 'm not sure why then, does reading about cheating, in fictional characters, or those with whom I have no personal connection, do I feel such strong, and at times visceral reactions to these events? I think it must come down to how I value trust, honesty, and loyalty, and cheating is the ultimate betrayal.

Although cheating is not the only theme (and I know others will argue it is not even close to the main theme), Loving Frank also examines feminism, duty and obligation, love, and personal freedoms, I could not connect with the story or the characters in any way. To put it bluntly, I did not enjoy this book, or the time I spent reading it. As always, I look forward to discussing this book in my book club as I always leave with a different appreciation for the books we discuss-I hope the same can be said for Loving Frank.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Book Review: The Book of Unholy Mischief

The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newark is parts historical fiction, mystery, and a coming of age tale. An interesting take on the church's tug-of-war against science and learning.

In 1498, Venetians are consumed with the search for an ancient book with unbelievable powers -love potions, immortality, and a recipe for gold. Luciano, an orphan street boy is picked off the streets to become the apprentice to the chef at the doge's palace. Luciano and his best friend Marco dream of what they will do if they are able to find-and sell this amazing book. Luciano plans on rescuing Francesca from her dreary life in the convent, marrying her and starting a life together in the New World. As Luciano comes to respect and gain the trust of the chef, he is introduced into the secret world of the chefs, learned men who are the keepers, Guardians of the ancient book that has caused an uproar throughout Italy and across the continent.

The Book of Unholy Mischief held my attention from beginning to end-I really enjoyed it! My only criticism is that although I really like the title, I don't think it really fits the story. It was originally published under the title "Bones of the Dead", but I don't like that much either!

Monday, August 16, 2010


Isn't it annoying when people are like "Ohhh I'm soooo busy" but they have time to complain about how busy they are? Don't you hate that? Ya, sorry, that's me. But you know what? I never said "oh I am so busy saving the world..." or " I am so busy being incredibly productive!" Maybe I have been busy having fun with visitors, or busy playing with my new laptop (yay! finally!!) or busy spending an hour creeping you on facebook...but anyway....I have been busy doing...things.

As such (I love writing as such...) I have failed to review the past 4 books I've read!!! Sorry!! Stay tuned this week for some recaps!

Booking Through Thursday: Evolution

Here is my late entry for August 12th's Booking Through Thursday question: Have your reading choices changed over the years? Or pretty much stayed the same? (And yes, from childhood to adulthood we usually read different things, but some people stick to basically the same kind of book their entire lives, so…)

My answer: I've always like to read a variety of books so I'm not sure how to answer this question. Ever since I was a teenager I've liked reading series (Anne of Green Gables, Chronicles of Narnia) or if I like a book, I will try to read EVERYTHING by that author-and I still do!! I also have often read in phases, like when I was 9 to probably 14 I read R.L. Stine, and Christopher Pike, then onto Stephen King When I was around 12 or 13 I was really into science fiction and fantasy and read pretty much everything by Isaac Asimov. Nowadays, I still like series or reading my way through an author's works. Lately I find myself in Historical Fiction phases, or trying to read everything by say, Barbara Kingsolver, or more chick-lit Maeve Binchy!! I still like a little sci-fi now and again (thank you Guy Gavriel Kay!), or some mystery-thrillers like The DaVinci Code.

How about you?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Vending machines for library books??

The star website has provided me with TWO book related posts this week. YAY!!

Apparently the Toronto Public Library (I heart the TPL by the way) is investigating the idea of placing a vending machine for library books at Union Station.

In the words of my mom "How cool is that?" Seriously though? How cool is that?

Pretty cool I'd say!

Not so cool: The Star used the same picture for this article AND for the article I referred to in my previous post. Come on guys, if you've got a subscription to Shutterstock, they have over
14,000 options for "stack of books", pick a new one!

Friday, August 6, 2010

how many books ARE there??

According to an article in the star, Google has determined that there are 129,864,880 books.

That's a lot of books!!!

I have 90 that I own on my shelf, 2-3 "out on loan", and another 10 on my shelf/bedside table that I have borrowed from other people. I didn't count any of Dave's books...or my textbooks.... but now that hardly seems like any at all!!

Friday Fill-Ins #188

Oh Friday Fill-Ins how I heart you! we go! Reminder-my answers are in RED!

1. Life is wonderful!

2. Camping-I hope we get to keep going.

3. My last text message (or IM) ended in these three words: of your car?

4. Chili is what I'm thinking about for dinner sometime soon.

5. On the 1st day of August I was hungover, slept in, and saw Inception at the Imax from the second row.

6. At the moment I am not really feeling very lively and energetic.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to seeing my brother-in-law, tomorrow my plans include sleeping in (as usual) and Sunday, I want to enjoy my baseball game against the best team in the league!!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Booking Through Thursday: First book

Question August 6, 2010: What is the first book you remember reading? What about the first that made you really love reading?

My answers:
Part 1. I'm not sure if I necessarily remember this as my first book, but I know it was one of them, and I remember my sister reading Peepo by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. I also remember my first experience reading a book that was in cursive. My great Uncle had given me a copy of The Story of Babar that was in cursive writing, and I'm not sure if he realized that although I was old enough to read, I was not old enough to read cursive writing. I remember looking at the book and wishing I knew the secret to that fancy handwriting! Once I was finally able to read it, I definitely felt a great sense of accomplishment, but I wonder if I also felt a bit of disappointment because I would have thought Babar was too young for me by then-although I'm not sure how old you are when you learn to write/ read cursive.... Spekaing of Babar, I happened to catch an episode of the cartoon on TV last weekend, it was awesome! (In case you are wondering it was the episode where Babar and Retaxsus (?spelling?) trade places for the day).

Part 2. I am pretty sure that the Anne of Green Gable series made me love reading! I've read them over again at least a few times-2007 was my latest! I loved each book and loved that there was a series! Speaking of books and TV, I also happened to see a made for TV movie sequel to Anne of Green Gables (where Anne and Gilbert move to New York) last weekend...I watched alot of TV last weekend!!

How about you?? What is the first book you remember reading/loving??