Sunday, February 27, 2011

Book Review: Catching Fire AND Mockingjay

I finished Suzanne Collins' second novel in the Hunger Games Trilogy earlier this week (Catching Fire) and the final volume today (Mockingjay). As I mentioned in my post about the first book The Hunger Games, I don't really want to tell you anything about any of these books because I think you should discover them completely on your own. I had also mentioned that I don't tend to gravitate toward young adult (YA) novels, but  Collins may have changed my mind. All three books were fantastic, and I can't believe how the series ended-I couldn't have guessed any of it -and  I definitely had some tears in my eyes!! I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of this trilogy and am a bit disappointed to now be finished them. I highly recommend giving The Hunger Games Trilogy a chance! 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Fill-Ins 2011-08

Friday Fill-Ins 2011-8

FFI we go! (My answers are in RED!)

1. Ooooh, I can't wait to move to Red Deer.

2. Hurry up April, I can't stand it!

3. How the heck did I end up with so many broken glasses.

4. Lake of the Woods is one of my favorite places to visit.

5. I'm not a bossy boots, I'm not!

6. If I'm going to buy a new book it has to be good.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to relaxing, tomorrow my plans include maybe playing some board games with friends and Sunday, I want to sleep in!


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Booking Through Thursday: Something old, something new

btt button
February 24, 2011: All other things being equal–do you prefer used books? Or new books? (The physical specimen, that is, not the title.) Does your preference differentiate between a standard kind of used book, and a pristine, leather-bound copy?

My answer:  I have no problem buying used books in good or even fair condition, especially for a good price!! If I loved a book that I got from the library or borrowed from a friend and want to read it again, I would buy it used for sure! The only time I MUST buy a NEW book is if I want to read it as soon as it comes out and I won't be able to buy it used. Being in downtown Toronto there are plenty of used bookstores, so I usually go to a few of them if I'm looking for something in particular, and then if I can't find it and I have my heart set on buying it and there is a big wait list at the library then I will buy it new! Another part I could add to this question is that now I have a Kindle, I now have to decide which ones I buy for it it versus REAL books. This weekend for example, I went to Red Deer and I knew I'd be on the plane for a while so I bought some books for my Kindle so it would be lighter  and smaller than REAL books, but I also chose to buy the Hunger Games Trilogy because I knew having hard copies of the YA novels was not a MUST, and the library holds are super long, PLUS, the first one was only $5, and the other two like $7-8.

How about you?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Book Review: The Hunger Games

I've been coming across references to Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games trilogy for a while now and had been wondering what it was all about. They are often referred to as Young Adult (YA) novels, and for some reason that tends to make me shy away from books (even though I love things like Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia). Since I was going to be on the plane last weekend for 4 hours each way, I thought I'd get something for my kindle to keep my purse as light as possible (I never bring carry on-but I'm sure that will change with the arrival of baby!).

I decided to get The Hunger Games(the first book in the trilogy) since it was only $5. I started reading it on Wednesday night or Thursday morning and finished it on the plane on the way to Red Deer on Friday-thankfully I had already uploaded the second book - Catching Fire. I totally LOVED The Hunger Games. Although I kept coming across the title of the book I actually had NO IDEA what it was about-and I'm really glad that I didn't. It totally caught me off guard!! The premise is unlike anything I've come across before and I was surprised to think of it as a YA novel based on the content, but the writing was, how shall I put it...fairly accessible. It was an easy read, but boy did Collins ever have me hooked!! I don't even want to tell you what it is about because I think it is totally worth discovering this one on your own. Remember I did say it was an easy read-but it was captivating!! I couldn't put it down! I am eager to get through the whole series!!


I am making a baby blanket for our baby YAY!!! I meant to post this a few weeks ago when I first started, but didn't get around to it!! I started knitting this the day Dave left for Red Deer and it honestly helped to keep sane that day an not bawl my eyes out the whole day (just once in a while). I haven't spent a ton of time on it so it isn't very big yet! I don't have a pattern, I'm just knitting one row, purling one row (and repeat x 1 million or so-just kidding, I don't know how many rows yet) 5 solids lines in different colours. I also might have made it much longer than originally intended, but that's how I roll when I make blankets! I'm using Sublime baby cashmere merino silk dk in Ladybug-158 (redish) Seesaw-194 (blue) Puzzle-195 (green). It's nice and soft and a little bit slippery so I have to be careful it doesn't slip off my needles! I got this wool from one of my other favourite yarn stores-Romni Wools.

Knitting: Spring Mobius Cowl

I've been wanting to make this cowl scarf (which is like one big loop) for a while now, and one of my favourite knitting stores posted this free pattern-YAY! It's knit in the round which is pretty cool!! I spent the better part of my flight to and from Edmonton last weekend knitting and this is what I have so far:
 one day it will look like this (but in different colours):

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Book Review: The Gathering Night

Margaret Elphinestone's The Gathering Night was an incredibly enjoyable read.

From "Between Grandmother Mountain and the cold sea, Alaia and her family live off the land. But when one of her brothers goes hunting and never returns, the fragile balance of life is upset. Half-starved and maddened with grief, Alaia's mother follows her visions and goes in search of her lost son. Then a stranger from a rival tribe appears on their hearth seeking shelter. Are his stories of a great wave and a people perished really to be believed? What else could drive a man to travel alone between tribes in the depths of winter? Hopes of resolution come when Alaia's mother returns home as a Go-Between, one able to commune with the spirits. But as all the Auk people come together for their annual Gathering Night, who there will listen to the voice of a woman?"

I love historical fiction and I pretty much consider an story set in the past as historical fiction. I love to read about how people lived in another time and place, and in this case that would be Mesolithic Scotland  One thing I like about this time period is that I think the author, and reader for that matter, are more free to examine the spirit world than is generally accepted  in our time. I also particularly enjoy stories that weave complex relationships within and between families, and in this case Peoples or clans. The Gathering Night reminded me VERY much of Jean Auel's Earth's Children series as her novels are also set in a similar time period.

All in all I enjoyed The Gathering Night AND Elphinstone's writing-I will be looking into her other books!!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Book Review: The Hatbox Letters

Beth Powning's The Hatbox Letters was heartbreaking to be honest with you!! I'm surprised I made it through without tears!! The main character Kate is mourning the loss of her husband 1 1/2 years earlier. With two grown children living out of town, parents in Florida, and many friends and neighbours in "semi-rural" New Brunswick, Kate is managing to move forward, but barely. She sees her husband Tom in every object, room, and memory, what was and what could (or should) have been. Powning's depiction of Kate's grief is what I can only assume to be spot on. Devastating!! While grieving, Kate has also found herself responsible for going through hatboxes full of old family letters and records. As Kate discover the complex  past of her ancestors-and specifically her own grandparents, Kate begins to see herself as a widow, no longer part of a couple, and she must redefine how she views herself.

I think Powning did an amazing job with Kate's character, but I often found this novel heartbreaking and took many opportunities to put it down and walk away. It doesn't help that I'm missing my husband like crazy right now, but at least we get to talk and skype everyday!! Powning also delves into the lives of Kate's grandparents-either in letter or diary form, or in what I assume to be Kate's imagination of how things transpired-and found this to be a bit tedious. At the end I was actually skipping over those parts just to finish the book.

I also seem to have a shorter attention span lately, whether this is from the fact that my back/hips get uncomfortable from being in any position for too long, or the fact that I am fairly sure the baby has taken over at least half of my brain cells, or that I'm missing my husband!

I did like The Hatbox Letters, but I am happy to be done with this book. I enjoyed her most recent novel The Sea Captain's Wife MUCH MUCH more!!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday Fill-Ins 2011-06

Friday Fill Ins - 2011-06


As always, my answers are in RED: we go!

1. Family is wonderful!!

2. We all have our ups and downs.

3. Trust is very important to me.

4. It's probably for the best.

5. Parents are what we'll be this summer!!

6. "That's what she said" was what was said.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to tacos with some amazing friends, tomorrow my plans include sleeping in and doing some laundry, and Sunday, I want to relax all day!!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Canada Reads 2011 winner

Terry Fallis' The Best Laid Plans won Canada Reads 2011 today. Wow. That went by fast. I was determined to read all five books like I did last year, that didn't happen. I even had more time this year!! I guess none of the books really interested me all that much and I didn't really make it a priority. I tried to read Mavis Gallant's Home Truths and just couldn't get into it.  Too bad. Oh well. It's over, the winner's announced, I kind of don't care, I declare my Canada Reads 2011 attempt to be officially abandoned. Ditto for Canada Reads Independently 2011. There are so many books I want to read right now, and for a variety of reasons I haven't been reading quite as much as I usually do so I'd rather focus on the books I really want to read. Not mention that I have a ton of holds ready to be available as soon as I make them active at the library and since I'll be moving at the end of April I want to take full advantage of some of the books I've had on hold for what seems like ever!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Book Review: Those Who Save Us

After using my dad's kindle a few weeks ago I purchased my own!! I love it! I've only read one book on it so far though as I have a ton of books on hold at the library!! That book my friends, was Jenna Blum's Those Who Save Us. I read her book The Stormchasers last year and really enjoyed it, but Those Who Save Us was phenomenal.

The book is told in two stories, jumping back and forth effortlessly. Trudy, an historian at the University of Minnesota in 1996, and that of her mother Anna in 1940s Germany during World War II. This story is unbelievable! Anna is a German Christian who secretly has a daughter with a Jewish doctor who is then taken to a concentration camp, never to be heard from again. Anna becomes the mistress to a Nazi officer to protect her daughter.In 1996 we see the difficult relationship between mother and daughter, as Trudy remember little-nothing of her time in Germany, she doesn't know who father truly is, and she vaguely remembers this officer but doesn't know any details.

I loved this book for many reasons. I have always been fascinated by the Holocaust. The tenacity and resilience of the human spirit is an amazing thing, and I think that this always shines through so brightly in tales set in this period. I was also intrigued to hear about the experience of Germans who were not Jews, but who were also devastated by the Nazi regime. It's easy to say that we would have done "the right thing" if we were in there shoes, but it's always easier said than done, isn't it?

An amazing novel of guilt, morals, curiosity, family, and forgiveness. I highly recommend it!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Book Review: Left Neglected

I almost forgot to write this book review because I read Lisa Genova's Left Neglect so quickly!! I thoroughly enjoyed this book, just as much as I enjoyed her first novel Still Alice. Rather than examining Alzheimer's disease, Left Neglected looks at a lesser known neurological condition-left neglect. Working on a stroke unit (for those that don't know I am a speech-language pathologist), this condition is familiar to me but I loved reading about it from the individual's perspective, especially someone so young!!

For more information check out the author's website, and two great CANADIAN reviews from the national post and the globe and mail!!