Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Canada Reads 2011 Finalists

The Canada Reads 2011 five panelists and their selections were announced last week! Hurray!! The five books and their defenders are:
  • The Best Laid Plans, by Terry Fallis Defended by: Ali Velshi
  • The Birth House, by Ami McKay Defended by: Debbie Travis
  • The Bone Cage, by Angie Abdou Defended by: Georges Laraque
  • Essex County, by Jeff Lemire Defended by: Sara Quin
  • Unless, by Carol Shields Defended by Lorne Cardinal
I've read Ami McKay's The Birth House, but I haven't read the others-looks like I have a new challenge! For those of you who don't don't know, Canada Reads is celebrating it's 10th anniversary and is a series of debates between the panelists defending their selection as the best Canadian book of the past decade. Canada Reads is hosted by Jian Ghomeshi and will air on CBC Radio One on February 7, 8, 9 2011. I plan on reading the books above and hope to listen to the debates! (Last year I was on vacation and missed the debates!!).

A blog that I follow (Pickle Me This) will be hosting Canada Reads Independently 2011 which features some more independent presses, it is as Kerry Clare puts it: "more about reading on my own terms". Clare will posting her selection of books and panelists on her website tomorrow-and I may read those as well! We'll see!!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Book Review: Room

I actually had no intentions of reading Emma Donoghue's Room. I had read a few reviews about it and although it was intriguing, I thought it would be way too disturbing. I was only sort of right.

Room is written from the perspective of 5 year old Jack, a boy who has grown up in Room with his mother. His mother you see was kidnapped 7 years ago when she was 19 years old by "old Nick". Jack's whole existence is limited to one room and the TV-but his mom's told him that everything on TV is fake, and he doesn't truly know about "Outside". I don't want to say anything more because it would really ruin the story if you want to read it.

The mere thought of a story told by a young boy growing up in this kind of environment was enough to deter me from picking this book up on my own. A friend from work lent it to me and am I ever glad she did. After the first 30 pages I wasn't sure I could finish it at this point and thought I might have to return it and borrow it again at another time, but I decided to give it the ride home on the subway on Thursday night and am I ever glad I did. I have no idea how she did it, but Donoghue did an amazing job of writing this novel from the perspective of a 5 year old boy who only knows Room. Simply amazing.
I promise-this book is worth reading!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Booking Through Thursday: Thankful

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Here is this week's Booking Through Thursday question: "It’s Thanksgiving here in the U.S. of A. so … What authors and books are you most thankful for?"

My answer: I'm going to be a bit off topic with my answer:  I am thankful for the ability to read. Period.  I am thankful that my parents always encouraged my reading and never censored it...except for that one Stephen King book  my mom thought was so horrendous I think she actually threw it out..I can't remember which one though....hmmm. I am thankful for the public library-both growing up in Winnipeg and now in Toronto. I am thankful for the second hand book stores in my neighbourhood as well as the independent stores. I am also thankful for the "big stores" like amazon  and chapters for making book buying convenient. I am thankful for every single person who asks me what I'm reading and then answers the question themselves. I am thankful for YOU my blog readers for following my reading adventures and for all of your comments and even for the comments that you think to yourselves but don't post on here!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Book Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

I remember hearing quite a lot about Pride and Prejudice and Zombies when it came out last year, and quite frankly, I thought it sounded weird. It is portrayed as a  hybrid novel of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice with Seth Grahame-Smith's addition of Zombies. I think I listened to a a few of Austen's novels on audiobook years ago and they have kind of all melded together in my brain, so I can't say 100% for sure how true the novel is to Austen's original Pride and Prejudice. Although it's safe to say that all parts pertaining to Zombies and Zombie slayings are all new additions!

Grahame-Smith and Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was interesting. I liked the style of writing-very Austen-and I am fairly sure that the characters of the Bennets, Bingsleys, Darcys, Mr. Wickham etc. are probably fairly true to Austen's original. The addition of Zombies and of those avowed to fight them-especially the aptly trained Bennet sisters added an element of excitement and action! Reading this book has made me want to read Austen's Pride and Prejudice to see precisely where the similarities lie.

An overview of the novel from the publisher's website: "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies features the original text of Jane Austen’s beloved novel with all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie action. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton-and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she’s soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers-and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield as Elizabeth wages war against hordes of flesh-eating undead. Complete with 10 wonderfully graphic illustrations, this insanely funny expanded edition will introduce Jane Austen’s classic novel to new legions of fans."

So would I recommend this book? YES!
Would I read it again? Possibly.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Book Review: People of the Book

I read Geraldine Brooks' People of the Book last week and it was great! Brooks' novel follows Hanna Heath a rare books expert as she is brought to Sarajevo to examine the Sarajevo Haggadah (the illuminated manuscript that contains the illustrated traditional text of the Passover Haggadah which accompanies the Passover Seder-thank you wikipedia!). The story jumps between1996 with Hanna's discoveries in the Haggadah - an insect wing, a missing clasp, wine stains, saltwater, a white hair- to the stories of how each made it's way into the book working back in time from 1940-1480.

I liked the parts in the story that explore Hanna's personal life, her relationships with her mother, father, and those involved with the Haggadah, but I really enjoyed the history of the Haggadah. I thought it was fascinating how much information you can get from what are basically old stains-if you have access to the right equipment!!

In book club last week one of the members used the criteria "would I read it again" to distinguish a really good book...soooo would I read this book again...hmmmm probably not-but I would definitely recommend it!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins #200

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

1. Why does David's breath smell so bad? (He said it himself!!)

2. I would love to see the world.

3. Thank you for reading my blog!

4. Christmas is my favorite holiday because of too many reasons to list.

5. I am SO excited that we got a new bed!

6. I don't get this one.....____make up our minds to be.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to sleeping in our new bed, tomorrow my plans include looking for new pillows and maybe hanging out with Meghan, and Sunday, I want to set up our Christmas tree!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Booking Through Thursday: Borrowing

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This week's Booking Through Thursday question: Who would you rather borrow from? Your library? Or a Friend? (Or don’t your friends trust you to return their books?) And, DO you return books you borrow?

My answer: Both. I love to borrow books any way I can!! I can't afford to buy all the books I read so if I can get my hand son them any other way I am always grateful! If I am looking for a specific book I usually ask friends if they have it and if they don't then I go to the library! If it's a new and popular book I'd rather borrow from a friend because the holds list at the library can be super long! I always return books (right Marcia?) and read pretty quick so I don't USUALLY hold on to books for more than few weeks (right Marcia??). Although the opposite question wasn't asked-I don't have any problem lending out my books to friends. I think I might actually try to push books that I loved on others so that we can talk about them!

How about you? Do you prefer to borrow books from frinds or from the library?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Book Review: The Sparrow

I read Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow last week and it was really different! The chapters skip back and forth between 2019, 2039, and 2060. In 2019 a group of four Jesuit priests, a male astronomer, a female doctor and her engineer husband, and a female computer expert depart on the first journey to an alien planet, Rakhat. In 2039 we follow their exploration of the planet and it's inhabitants. In 2060 we follow Father Emilio Sandoz, the only survivor of the expedition who was found in a very compromising position as he tries to take control of himself again and is forced to explain what happened on Rakhat. The Sparrow was a really interesting piece of fiction AND science-fiction. Russell did a good job of building the suspense by moving the story between times and characters. The ending was equal parts predictable (I realized early on the Sandoz is not likely responsible for his or his fellow traveler's demise) and surprising (how one action changed everything).

If you like science-fiction, and even if you don't, The Sparrow is a great read!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins #199

It's Friday Fill-Ins...my answers are in RED...So...here we go!

1. When pigs fly is a weird saying.

2. Summer is really over...seriously?!

3. Call me if you wanna chat!

4. I like to sleep if you know what I mean.

5. The most entertaining person in my life is David because he makes everything more fun!

6. OK...who's next?

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to hanging out at home, tomorrow my plans include sleeping in and Sunday, I want to relax!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Booking Through Thursday: War Stories

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This week's Booking Through Thursday question is: It is November 11th, known here in the U.S. as Veteran’s Day, formerly Armistice Day to remember the end of WWI but expanded to honor all veterans who have fought for their country, so …
Do you read war stories? Fictional ones? Histories?

My answer: I don't read war stories per se, but I do LOVE stories set during World War I or II, especially in England, and especially love stories and I really like Charlotte Bingham!! I like to read about the people whose lives were affected by the war that were not necessarily the ones fighting. I find it interesting to read about what it is was like for the people "left behind". Actually one of my favourite books as a kid was by Kit Pearson about British kids sent to Canada to be safe during the war. I also like anything to do with the experience of the Jewish people and the Holocaust.

How about you readers?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Canada Reads 2011-Top10

CBC announced the top ten books from 40 today! The five celebrity panelists and their selections for Canada Reads 2011 will be announced November 24th.

The top are:

  • Bottle Rocket Hearts, by Zoe Whittall
  • Essex County, by Jeff Lemire
  • Life of Pi, by Yann Martel
  • Pattern Recognition, by William Gibson
  • The Best Laid Plans, by Terry Fallis
  • The Birth House, by Ami McKay
  • The Bone Cage, by Angie Abdou
  • The Book of Negroes, by Lawrence Hill
  • Three Day Road, by Joseph Boyden
  • Unless, by Carol Shields
I think I will probably read the final five again..anybody else??

On another note-the winner of the Giller Prize will be announced tonight!
**UPDATE: And the winner is...Johanna Skibsrud for The Sentimentalists!!**

Book Review: Secret Daughter

I read Shilpi Somaya Gowda's Secret Daughter last week/end for my November book club. As usual, I like to save my thoughts for my book club selections for my meet ups but I can't say NOTHING...

I loved this book!!! At first I wasn't really in the mood to read another book set in India because I feel like I've read quite a few lately but this was fantastic. The story is set partially in the US and partially in India and follows the lives of an American couple trying to conceive that ends up adopting a little girl from India, the husband homeland, and the woman who gave her up. It was fantastic and I HIGHLY recommend Secret Daughter!!

One last thing to share with you is a passage from Secret Daughter that I thought was just perfect:

"But her mother always said the key to a successful marriage was for each spouse to give as much as they thought they could. And then, to give a little more. Somewhere in that extra giving, in the space created by generosity without score keeping, was the difference between marriages that thrived and those that didn't." (p. 270)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins #198

IT'S FRIDAY!!!! My answers to Friday Fill-Ins are in RED as usual....
So...here we go!

1. Sometimes, I wish I could sleep ALL DAY!

2. I could eat just about the whole thing.

3. Small things make me smile.

4. Reading is very enlightening.

5. I keep meaning to clean up my desk.

6. I haven't seen snow on the ground...yet.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to relaxing, tomorrow my plans include a BBQ with friends and Sunday, I want to enjoy setting back the clocks an hour!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Booking Through Thursday: Good or Bad

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This week's question: "I’ve seen many bloggers say that what draws them to certain books or authors is good writing, and what causes them to stop reading a certain book or author is bad writing. What constitutes good writing and bad writing to you?"

My answer: Plain and simple: Good writing is when you are so absorbed in a book you can't put it down, bad writing is when you have to re-read passages over again because they don't flow, repeated use of the same more unusual adjectives within a few pages, and poor plot and character development!

Short and sweet this week-what do you think?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I ordered Jonathan Franzen's Freedom a few weeks ago after coming across numerous reviews  (ie: here) AND the fact that it was named as the new Oprah book club selection. Wow am I disappointed that I actually bought this book. I abandoned it yesterday after trying  to get into it for like 3 days!! I'm not sure if it's the writing or the characters but I found Freedom to be soooooo pretentious!! I could not get into it and found all of the characters basically loathsome! So I put it down and may not get back to it!!

I also want to mention that I loved the Oprah book club selection from the past-I think I read over 80% of them. My book club is even called the "Oprah type book club"! But the past few years-basically since 2007 have been very disappointing!!
To be specific: (my comments in GREEN)
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen - pretentious

Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan - still on hold at the library so no comment YET

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski - terrible!!!
A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle -terrible-I know this book was meaningful to a lot of people but I just could not see why!

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett - okay this was fantastic
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez -  terrible-the movie was awful too
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides - also fantastic
The Road by Cormac McCarthy - I totally did NOT get this book!!
The Measure of a Man by Sidney Poitier - I read it but it was not memorable

Oprah-what happened??