Sunday, October 31, 2010

Book Review: The Stormchasers

I read Jenna Blum's The Stormchasers over the weekend-it was great!! I have always loved big loud thunderstorms-watching the lightening and the rain, and am fascinated by people that love crazy weather so much that they actually seek out storms-especially tornadoes!! In Blum's novel The Stormchasers, Kareena ends up going on a stromchasing tour because she gets a call from a medical facility about Charles her twin brother who she hasn't seen in 20 years! Charles is himself a stormchaser, but he is also bipolar. Kareena is desperate to find her brother and joins a stormchasing tour as part of the media (she's a journalist), and ends up having to drive her own car as the tour's van is full. At the eight of the first storm she is terrified and bails on the tour-and ends up having Kevin, one of the tour guides join her to make sure she stays safe!! There is romance in the air, but as Kevin reveals that he knows Charles, and that something terrible happened between them a few years ago and that they have not spoken since-we learn that Kareena and Charles have some dark history of their own. This was a fantastic book that deals with honesty, family relationships, love, and stormchasing!! It was pretty easy read-but I definitely had a hard time putting it down!! I highly recommend it! Also interesting-Blum is a stormchaser herself-COOL!!

Book Review: The Help

Kathryn Stockett's The Help was my book club's selection in October, but since my sister was here that night I didn't go and ended up reading it last week.

For some reason I thought the Help was set in was not! It was set in the Mississippi in the 1960s during the height of racial tensions. I usually find books set in this time and place quite intriguing-and The Help was no different. The chapters in this story are told from various perspectives of three characters-two black maids Aibilene and Minny, and Miss Skeeter, a white woman anonymously writing the stories of black maids in her community. I couldn't help but feel that it was a bit unrealistic that Miss Skeeter wanted to write this book considering (at the beginning at least) she doesn't really seem to care about the plight of the black people in her community and that she is interviewing the maids of her best friends!  Maybe unrealistic isn't the right word, but it did feel a bit artificial to me. Although I have to say Stockett's portrayal of Aibileen and Minny was phenomenal. Such strong women yet so different. I enjoyed the help and will definitely be searching the web to see if there were any books published at that time describing the day-to-day lives of black maids and the families they worked for!

Friday, October 29, 2010

feeling lazy

I didn't do Booking Through Thursday OR Friday Fill-Ins this week!!! I just wasn't feeling any of the questions/fill-ins. Plus I'm feeling the motivation to do either is basically non-existent! I do hope to have a review post up by the end of the weekend for The Help, and potentially for The Stormchasers as it is very possible that with this laziness will come more time for reading!

Have a great weekend-oh and I guess Happy Halloween...sorry I'm not a huge Halloween fan...I will likely carve a pumpkin if I can still find one (Metro was sold out tonight), but in case I don't here is a picture of the pumpkins my dad and sister carved!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Books to read after Harry Potter

 Oprah has listed the top books to read after Harry Potter.
 Awesome! Let's take a look at her list, and how I feel about her picks:
  1. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins - haven't read it
  2. Percy Jackson & The Olympians by Rick Riordan - saw the movie, it was great
  3.  The Magicians by Lev Grossman - LOVED IT!! 
  4. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis - Loved all of the books-and the movies so far!
  5. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien - Enjoyed the ones I read, and the movies were exactly as I pictured things in my head!!
  6. The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling - haven't read it 
  7. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman - Fantastic! The movie of the first book was great-unfortunately I don't think they're making any more!
  8. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card - this is one of the books that got me interested in sci-fi thanks Dad!
  9. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick - on my to be read list
  10. The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini - another great series, looking forward to the 4th book

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Book Review: beatrice & virgil

I read Yann Martel's celebrated Life of Pi years ago, when it first came out, which would have made me 19. I definitely did not "get" the books-especially when I heard that the animals were supposed to be people. What kind of craziness is this I thought. I wasn't (well I'm still not) the most discerning reader around. A few weeks ago I listened to a podcast where Martel was interviewed and he discussed how readers are open to interpret the ending in one of two ways-either that the main character Pi was in fact on a raft with animals, or that these are people. Martel intended to leave that up tot he reader. OK, that's great, I can see how that could work, and maybe if I read Life of Pi at this stage in my life I would "get it".....maybe not.

 These were my feelings as I picked up beatrice & virgil, Martel's newest book. I actually hadn't planned on reading it, but it was available on the "new" shelf at the library. Again, animals play an integral part in this novel, and again, I didn't get it. Well I shouldn't say I didn't get it, I think I got it, but I didn't really enjoy it. I think this is likely a great novel, but just not for me. I guess maybe it took some effort not to just take beatrice & virgil at face value, but to look deeper into it. That's I do think I got it, but I don't know, it just didn't resonate with me. As such I don't care to go into greater detail, and I think wikipedia sums it up quite well: "an allegorical tale about representations of the Holocaust. It tells the story of Henry, a novelist, who receives the manuscript of a play in a letter from a reader. Intrigued, Henry traces the letter to a taxidermist, who introduces him to the play's protagonists, two stuffed animals—Beatrice, a donkey, and Virgil, a monkey".  One last thing-there are a number of "games" at the end of the book that are alluded to earlier in the novel that while potentially thought provoking are just downright disturbing.  Not the best thing to read just before falling asleep!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins #196

Friday Fill-Ins!!! My answers are in RED!! we go!

1. One of my strongest beliefs is things happen for a reason.

2. This city is huge!

3. The sky is cloudy with a threat of rain and wind and cold, so I want to curl up with a blanket, a good book, and a cup of tea with the window open just a little bit.

4. My husband is comforting to me.

5. I always thought I'd be living in Winnipeg forever. Not true!

6. Everybody was acting crazy and then I went outside to look at the full moon.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to hanging out with my husband, tomorrow my plans include sleeping in and relaxing and Sunday, I want to do more of the same!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

my favourite canadian books

This week's Booking Through Thursday question asked about favourite foreign books. I am pretty sure it's an American site so I answered with books that were neither American nor Canadian-see here for the list. I had a new visitor to my site, a fellow Canadian with an interesting blog of her own-and on her reply to that question she mentions that she can't think of any Canadian books that she loves. Well let me help  you Ms. C!!! Here is a list of my favourite Canadian books!!
  •  The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
  • The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
  • The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor - Sally Armstrong
  • The Summer Tree - Guy Gavriel Kay
  • The Cellist of Sarajevo - Stephen Galloway
  • Good to a Fault - Marina Endicott
  • L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gable series
  •  Come, thou tortoise by Jessica Grant was amusing
As for Canadian short stories, (I've recently discovered I like short stories)
  • What Boys Like by Amy Jones
  • Once by Rebecca Rosenblum
SEE!! SEE!!! Plenty of amazing Canadian fiction!! If you have any other MUST READ Canadian books please comment below. Unless you suggest Miriam Toews. I'm sorry I just don't like her work.

Booking Through Thursday: Foreign

btt button
It's time again for BOOKING THROUGH THURSDAY!! "Name a book (or books) from a country other than your own that you love. Or aren’t there any?"

My answer: I have a few -outside of Canada AND the US- they are:

  • The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Spain)
  • Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay (France)
  • The Forgotten Garden AND The House at Riverton by KAte Morton (Australia)
  • Anything written by Maeve Binchy (although her older stuff is better) (Ireland)
  • All the Harry Potter books by J.K> Rowling (Great Britain)
  • The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S Lewis (Ireland/Great Britain)
How about you my blog readers? Any books you love that were NOT written in Canada or the US?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

that's it I QUIT!

Reading two books that is!! I rarely stop reading books I don't like (but I do!) especially if I'm more than 100 pages in. HOWEVER, this month alone I've quit two books!! A.S Byatt's The Children's Book and Janice Kulyk Keefer's The Ladies Lending Library. I just could NOT get into these books so I decided to allow myself to move on to greener pastures. I just started Yann Martel's Beatrice & Virgil and am very intrigued. I read Life of Pi when it first came out and I was way too young to "get it" so I didn't think I would read anymore of his work. I was at the library picking up some books on hold (including The Ladies Lending Library) when I saw B&V in the new books section. So I picked it up and here we are!
this is from the brickworks this summer-isn't it pretty?

Hope you're having a good week-happy reading :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Book Review: The Mistress of Nothing

My mom recommended Kate Pullinger's The Mistress of Nothing MONTHS AGO and I finally got it from the library last week. I loved Pullinger's story set in 1860s England and Egypt, yet another novel I find myself reading that is based on a true story, that of Lady Duff Gordon. Sally, a lady's maid accompanies her mistress to Egypt in order to help relieve Lady Duff Gordon's tuberculosis. Along the way Lady Duff Gordon hires Omar, an Egyptian man who becomes guide, translator, servant, cook, and general go-to man. While Lady Duff Gordon throws herself into society, she desperately misses her family. Sally on the other hand absolutely loves Egypt and the sens of freedom she feels in this new life.

The Mistress of Nothing's first chapter is a rather cryptic beginning to this novel: "When I did wrong, I was dismissed, no I was no longer of use to her....She hated me for finding love when love love had deserted her. She hated me for creating a family when she had lost hers. She hated me for living when she herself faced death." I was eager to find out who is this person and what did/does she to do become the source of so much anger. I was particularly interested in the Arabic lessons because at work I currently have a patient who only speaks Arabic and it is VERY challenging trying to help someone recover their language and speaking abilities when you do not speak the same language! I have been learning the numbers 1-10, some of the alphabet, yes, no, and thank you-so I was interested to see what Sally and Lady Duff Gordon would learn as well. I also love historical fiction-especially books set in Victorian England and the addition of Egyptian life at that time was incredibly interesting! Another book I highly recommend-and a very quick read too!!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Book Review: Once

So remember a little while ago when I said I didn't really like short stories? What you don't remember...well here is a refresher, and another. I was wrong. I do like short stories. Sometimes.

Rebecca Rosenblum's Once is the perfect example. I'm not sure how to go into a summary of this collection without dissecting each story, and I don't feel like doing that because I think I'll end up making the stories less interesting than they actually are. And that would unfortunate, because this is a collection worth reading!!  I used to always want more from short stories, but I am learning to take them for what they have to offer. In this case, I felt like I was part of each character's life, watching, listening...kind of like spying on them. Rosenblum writes such rich characters, I felt like there was something familiar in every story that reminded me of myself or someone I know (or knew). I like that. And I like Once. I think I maybe even LOVED it. Check it out!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins #195

It's time for Friday Fill-Ins! My answers are in RED!! we go!

1. Wow, it's the middle of October already!

2. The trees are so beautiful.

3. My favorite way to start a day is sleeping in and waking up without an alarm.

4. (This i one is weird) He went out to pick up supper and he walked in the door holding a pumpkin.

5. I look out my window and see sun shining and lots of yellow leaves.

6. Sleeping in is what I've been thinking about lately.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to hanging out with my sister, tomorrow my plans include hanging out with my sister and Sunday, I want to be lazy as usual!


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Booking Through Thursday: Rewrite

It's THURSDAY which means it's time for BOOKING THROUGH THURSDAY:

btt button

Question: If you could rewrite the ending of any book, which book would it be? And how would you change it?

My answer: I LOVE THIS QUESTION!! I think this is one of the best BTT questions. The one book that jumps to mind is Wally Lamb I Know This Much is True. I thought this was a  fantastic book but was disappointed that Lamb wrapped everything up with a neat little bow at the end! I'm a little fuzzy on the details now, the last time I read it was September 2008 but here is what I would change (SPOILER ALERT-SORRY):
  • I wouldn't have Dominic find the translator for his grandfather's story again
  • Dominic's relationship with Ray later in life is too close for what they went through
  • Dominic wouldn't get back together with his wife
  • Dominic wouldn't find out who is father was and Thomas his brother and Ralph his half-brother wouldn't have known all along without saying anything
  • Dominic would have nothing to with the casino and no money from it
  • Dominic and Dessa wouldn't have ended up with Joy's daughter and everyone getting along so easily
  • I would end things around when Dominic's brother Thomas passed away  OR at when Dominic finds out who his father ends. PERIOD. Nothing else!!
Again, I love this question!! How about you? Are there any books that you wish you could change the ending? I would love to hear about it!! SERIOUSLY!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


"The Great Typo Hunt is a humorous, insightful tale of adventure, misplaced apostrophes, and the open road. It describes how we took a two-and-a-half month drive around the United States to fix typos in public signage, toting an arsenal of typo correction that included markers, Wite-Out, and chalk—and how we were later summoned to federal court for defacing a historic sign at the Grand Canyon."
(Quote taken from The Great Typo Hunt website)

I totally want a Typo Correction Kit. I can't help but cringe at the spelling of Wite-Out, but that's how the company spells it!!!

I know my friend Janelle will LOVE this!!

Happy Thanksgiving-A day late

Dave and I took an impromptu road to trip to Montreal over the weekend. If you know me, you know that I like to plan things to death. This was incredibly spontaneous for me- we didn't even have a hotel booked when we set out!! I am thankful for having such a fun loving husband!! Although we didn't have turkey (unless you count the turkey in our clubhouse sandwiches) we did go to Tony Roma's and Krispy Kreme for our Thanksgiving dinner back in Toronto on Monday. Here are some pictures of our awesome trip"
Our hotel: Armor Manoir Sherbrooke, excellent location on Sherbrooke between St. Denis and St. Laurent

Notre-Dame Basilica-amazing

View from Mount-Royal

Habitat 67 - modular apartments built for Expo '67.

People were surfing in the rapids on the St. Lawrence river behind Habitat 67. CRAZY!!

The Biosphere from Expo '67

Driving on the Grand Prix Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve. Dave made vroom vroom sounds, for real.

Olympic Stadium from the 1976 Olympic games
Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins #194

It's time again for Friday Fill-Ins!!! Yay Friday!!! My answers are in RED!! we go!

1. My favorite month is August because it's usually hot in Toronto AND Winnipeg-and we go to Lake of the Woods!!

2. We keep our windows open almost all  year because we love a fresh breeze.

3. I love to sniff fresh cut grass.

4. Waffles from Over Easy is what I like to have as a treat for breakfast.

5. The hobby I enjoy most is READING!!!

6. Oh me oh my!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to the beginning of the LONG WEEKEND, tomorrow my plans include a last minute decision getaway and Sunday, I want to sleep in!! Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Booking Through Thursday: Travel

btt button
This week's Booking Through Thursday question is: When you travel, how many books do you bring with you? Has this changed since the arrival of ebooks? 

My answer: When traveling I like to have a book on the go  (especially on the plane)- so that I am already into the book and don't have to work at it-because I'm usually excited tt go on a trip and often have a hard time starting something new at the same time. I usually bring at least one other book with me. When I go back to Winnipeg I don't end up bringing anything else because one of two things happens: 1) If it's Christmas I always get at lest one book as a gift and 2) OR my parents usually have something that I want to read and end up bringing back more books with me!!
This has NOT changed with the arrival of ebooks because I don't have an ereader!

How about you? 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Definititons #3


Apostasy: Abandonment of one's religious faith, a political party, one's principles, or a cause.

Theocracy: A government ruled by or subject to religious authority.

Concupiscent: A strong desire, especially sexual desire; lust.

Crenellate: to supply with battlements.

Scrofulous: Morally degenerate; corrupt.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Book Review: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

I began Alan Bradley's The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie with trepidation. I remember that both my mom and my friend Jesse liked it but had reservations about the main character.

Flavia overhears her father having an argument and later that night/first thing in the morning she comes across a dying man in the garden uttering "vale".  Her father is the only suspect and is quickly arrested, leaving Flavia and her older sisters in the hands of Dogger their "jack-of-all-trades" handyman and Mrs. Mullet their housekeeper. So begins a tale of how Flavia's knowledge of chemistry, incredible sleuthing and skills of deduction enable to clear her father's name, find the real killer-as well as solve a crime from her father's childhood.

Flavia Sabine de Luce, an incredibly precocious 11 year old self taught chemist and detective. Flavia is just WAY too clever to be a believable 11 year old. At times I either pretend she was ageless or maybe 17. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie appears to be the first of  the series - the second book came out in March. Interestingly enough this past week's Booking Through Thursday question (my response here) was about whether or not people will continue to read a series if one novel is "jumping the shark" or taking a downturn. Although I found The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie a quick and easy read, it was only ok, and I have no intentions of reading any other books in the series.

Friday Fill-Ins #193

 It's been a while but here we go ...FRIDAY FILL-INS!! My answers are in RED:

1. My back is getting stronger because of pilates.

2. I used to love the water slides at wet 'n wild.

3. Leaves are falling all around, well actually not really, they are mostly just yellow and red.

4. I use my calendar as much as possible to avoid missing things because of forgetfulness.

5. Healing is moving forward.

6. Reading is what I've been up to lately!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to celebrating my husband's birthday, tomorrow my plans include sleeping in and Sunday, I want to be incredibly lazy!