Thursday, June 23, 2011

Booking Through Thursday: Soundtrack

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Question June 23, 2011: What, if any, kind of music do you listen to when you’re reading? (Given a choice, of course!)

My answer: The only time I ever listened to music while reading was when I was taking the subway, and that was mostly so I could drown out other people. When I read I generally like to have it quiet. If I'm reading while someone else is watching tv or a movie, it usually doesn't bother me if I'm really into a book. If I'm having a hard time getting into a book,or concentrating, then I will usually go to another room, so no music for me!

Book Review: This Cake Is For The Party

Still no baby! Book #11 for June completed! I read This Cake Is For the Party, Stories by Sara Selecky. 

From The Globe and Mail: "...while the collection explores sites of emotional and physical volatility, Selecky sinks her teeth into something far more powerful than the violence of loss: She skillfully wrests devastation from its customary gloom of lamentation and regret, and bares its overwhelming beauty...Indeed, Selecky catches each of her characters in the midst of acute crises and keenly extracts the stories behind the stories we tell ourselves. Our capacity for vision depends upon our ability to look again – to see the cake that is not one.

I found myself flying through these stories and had to pace myself so that I could absorb them individually.  Regardless if you think you like short stories or not ( I used to think I didn't) I highly recommend This Cake Is For The Party!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Book Review: Plantation

June book #10 completed: Plantation by Dorothea Benton Frank. Wow.... I don't know if I've ever read this many books in one month before (...checking my list....) nope, my previous best was 9 in both May 2011 and May 2011. The way things are looking I should be able to fit in another book or two, because I  don't think this baby is quite ready to come out ( I was due YESTERDAY!!!).

Back to Plantation, according to the reading guide: "Caroline Wimbley Levine always swore she’d never go home again. But now, at her brother’s behest, she has returned to South Carolina to see about Mother—only to find that the years have not changed the Queen of Tall Pines Plantation. Miss Lavinia is as maddeningly eccentric as ever—and absolutely will not suffer the questionable advice of her children. This does not surprise Caroline. Nor does the fact that Tall Pines is still brimming with scandals and secrets, betrayals and lies. But she soon discovers that something is different this time around. It lies somewhere in the distance between her and her mother-and in her understanding of what it means to come home…"

Although I am basically sitting around waiting for baby and have a fair bit of free time, I find it hard to stay focused on anything for more than 20 minutes at a time. With t hat being said, I was totally caught up in Plantation! Another easy read, and again another book dealing with the relationships between women. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and wish I had some o Frank's other books with me right now, especially more of the Lowcountry novels!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Burning The Book of Negroes

An article on the Toronto Star's website caught my attention this morning about a group of Dutch people  that are going to burn Lawrence Hill's novel The Book of Negroes because of the use of the word negro in the title. For those of you that don't know, this is THE BOOK OF MY LIFE!! I think it is absolutely amazing. Sorry, off track there, so as I was saying, I came across this article and then  came across Lawrence Hill's response to the situation. 

I can't believe that people would even consider burning books "in this day and age"!! I understand that people may not like the use of the word negro, but the title of this book is referencing an actual historical document of the same name.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Book Review: Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind

I finished my 9th book of June last night: Ann B. Ross' Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind. Meh. Not my favourite. It started out as the kind of book I've been reading but this one had a bit of "mystery" to it that I just found frustrating! Just get on with it already!! And some of the plot was simply ridiculous.

From the author's website: "This book begins the series that features the sharp-tongued, but soft-hearted in spite of herself, Julia Springer of Abbotsville, North Carolina. In it, Julia learns of her recently deceased husband's perfidious activities when his mistress, Hazel Marie Puckett, and his nine-year-old illegitimate son show up on her front porch without a nickel to their names. In spite of counselling by Pastor Ledbetter, criticism by her friends, gossip in the community, a kidnapping by a televangelist and the discovery of a new will that threatens to send her to the poorhouse, Miss Julia takes Hazel Marie and Little Lloyd into her home and learns to hold her head up high."

Needless to say I will not be reading another Miss Julia book. On now to book #10!

Friday Fill-Ins June 17, 2011

Friday Fill-Ins time June 17, answers are in RED! we go!

1. One of my favorite birthday presents was the earrings my husband gave me this year.

2. No thank you, it was as simple as that.

3. The moon was full and bright.

4. Nothing ever includes batteries.

5. I was tempted by cupcakes yesterday!

6. Swimming, reading, and watching fireworks are some of the things I like to do on vacation.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to having a baby, tomorrow my plans include having a baby, and Sunday, I want to HAVE A BABY!! If I don't have a baby this weekend (I'm not due until Monday)....then I guess I'll just relax, rest, and read :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Book Review: A Most Uncommon Degree of Popularity

I finished my 8th book this month!! Kathleen Gilles Seidel's a Most Uncommon Degree of Popularity.

From the author's website: "Her own of the popular girls? On the first day of middle school, Lydia Meadows, a former lawyer turned full-time mother, is startled to discover that her daughter Erin is one of the popular girls, a tight foursome whose mothers are also great friends. Lydia has always thought of popular girls as ambitious little manipulators who enjoy being cruel. But Erin is kind and well-adjusted. Maybe this popularity thing won’t be so bad after all.

Then a new student ruthlessly targets Erin to boost her own popularity, and Lydia helplessly wonders what to do when her daughter’s phone stops ringing..."

Seidel's novel fits the bill for what I've been looking for these past few weeks :a quick, easy read that deals with relationships between women this. This one had it all: friends, sisters, mothers and's been great! 

Onto book number nine!!

Booking Through Thursday: Interactive?

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Question June 16, 2011: With the advent (and growing popularity) of eBooks, I’m seeing more and more articles about how much “better” they can be, because they have the option to be interactive … videos, music, glossaries … all sorts of little extra goodies to help “enhance” your reading experience, rather like listening to the Director’s commentary on a DVD of your favorite movie.
How do you feel about that possibility? Does it excite you in a cutting-edge kind of way? Or does it chill you to the bone because that’s not what reading is ABOUT?

My answer: I don't really know how I feel about the interactive component of eBooks. I have a Kindle and like it for ease of portability, it's light and it's easy to have a few books on hand at once! I haven't read any with interactive features-but I will say I've used the dictionary a few times, and that was convenient. IT kind of makes me think about when CDs, especially movie soundtracks, started having special features you could play on your computer. I specifically remember my Romeo and Juliette soundtrack had stuff you could do on the computer, but I don't remember ever being interested in that. At the same time though, I think of how often I end up searching on the internet after reading a book-especially historical fiction-to find more specific information, or to find discriminate between fact and fiction.
So after all of that-how do I fell about possible enhancements to eBooks.....I guess I'll have to come across one that does and see if it adds to or takes away from the reading experience!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Book Review: The Ballroom on Magnolia Street

After reading Sharon Owens' The Tea House on Mulberry Street I was very excited to read the next novel in the sort-of series: The Ballroom on Magnolia Street. Unfortunately I was quite disappointed. Although similar in style, I just could not get interested in the characters or their stories! Oh well. I've read quite a few "gooders" as my friend Marcia might say, so  I guess a dud was due!

I have a stack of 8 library books to choose from and I'm hoping to get at least one more in before this baby makes an appearance (I'm due in 5 days) so I could very possibly not meet that goal, or finish all 8!! We'll see!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Book Review: Firefly Lane

Kristin Hannah's Firefly Lane is about a lifetime friendship between two women, Tully and Kate. The first chapter reveals that somewhere along the way the women had a major falling out and one of them (we don't know who) is finally reaching out to the other. I totally thought I knew what the falling out was all about and I was 100% wrong. Not only that the book ended in a way that I never would have expected. I almost finished it last night but was super tired so I went to bed-and thank goodness I did, because on the very next page something happens that I know if I had read it before bed I would NEVER have been able to sleep. I won't say more about it, but that it completely caught me off guard.  The past few books I've read have all been about the relationships between women, as was this,however Firefly Lane definitely was not a light read! I did enjoy this book but need something lighter right now!!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Book Review: A Country Affair

I am on a ROLL!!!! I read Rebecca Shaw's A Country Affair this afternoon. WOW! It's the first of her Barleybridge novels and I can't wait to read the next ones! Another quick easy read-this one set at a veterinary clinic in rural England. I found it to be similar in writing style to some of Maeve Binchy's works as well as the last book I just read and reviewed by Sharon Owens, in that it deals with the lives and relationships of a fairly large group of people in a small town.

From the author's website: "It is Kate's first day in her new job, and she is more apprehensive than she thought was possible. But there is no time for nerves, and her anxieties soon vanish as she finds herself flung headlong into the hectic world of the busy vet's practice and the clients who visit it.

But it's not just the animals who win Kate's affections: the staff are friendly and welcoming, particularly Scott, the Australian, whose wicked sense of humour and enthusiasm for life Kate finds hard to resist, despite his rather colourful reputation.

Before long, Kate begins to feel there are other changes she wants to make in her life - and her boyfriend, Adam, is not at all happy about it. As Kate struggles to cope with Adam's increasingly erratic behaviour, she realises she must make some very difficult decisions . . ."

I have a whole bunch of books from the library so I don't know which one to pick next...I'll give it an hour or so to decide :) I unfortunately did not get any of Shaw's other time I guess!!

Book Review: The Tea House on Mulberry Street

I am just flying through books this week-it's great!! I picked up Sharon Owens' The Tea House on Mulberry Street at the library because on the inside cover a reviewer compared Owens to Maeve Binchy's Quentins, and I  LOVE Maeve Binchy-especially that book!! I was not disappointed. The Tea House on Mulberry Street has an interconnected cast of characters that are involved in or are guests at a tea house in Belfast. It was very Binchyesque and as I've said in my past few reviews, exactly what I'm in the mood for: nice, easy, uncomplicated reads, that I can lose myself. Even better when they are set in United Kingdom!!

As of today I have now been to BOTH libraries in Red Deer, and have a total of 19 books checked out (2 of which are baby related). I wanted to have plenty to choose from over the next days or weeks before this highly anticipated baby makes an appearance and I no longer have time to read-or will I?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Book Review: Ladies of the Lake

Hurray!! I finished another book!!! The last few days have just been the best!! I've been relaxing and not going crazy over baby related stuff. I've gone for a massage, seen the chiropractor, bought new nail polish (that I've been trying to find FOREVER--->see here), found a neck shaped magic bag to replace the one that I lit on fire in our apartment in Toronto, went out on a date night for Chinese food with my husband, went for ice cream and had the right kind of cotton candy ice cream (the dark blue and pink kind, NOT the pastel version), made delicious pizzas on the bbq while watching the canucks beat the bruins with our tv on the deck, started and finished two books, took at least one nap a day, met a friend for cupcakes, said friend gave me flowers just because, and just plain lazed about!

Ok, so now onto my book review. I found Haywood Smith's Ladies of the Lake at the library and just knew it was the right kind of book for me. A bit of chick lit is what is in order right now! Although I have been reading more and trying to blog more, I am still a bit lazy when it comes to the reviewing piece right now (SORRY!), so I will borrow from the author's website:

"Sisters Dahlia, Iris, Violet, and Rose--all with grown children of their own--have a complicated relationship, so when their grand - mother's will requires them to spend the whole summer--without friends or family--"camping in" at her run-down lodge on remote Lake Clare in order to inherit the valuable land, old rivalries and new understanding emerge, with plenty of laughs along the way...As tempers flare and old secrets are revealed, four grown women discover that the past is never truly buried."

What I found interesting about this book was that the main characters are all in their late 50s early 60s. I say this is interesting because in my experience, books "like this" are usually about younger women in their 20s and 30s, and sometimes 40s. I often felt like these characters should have been in their 30s or maybe 40s base don how they interacted with each other, but then I stopped myself. Why couldn't women of these ages be going through the same types of things? I should so stereotypical of what people-and especially women-should be like at any age!! At times I found some of the plot to be a bit ridiculous but in the end I liked how things turned out. This was a very light read and I truly enjoyed Smith's writing-I will be looking for more of her books next time I go to the library (which by the looks of things may be this weekend!!).

What are you reading?

Friday Fill-Ins June 10, 2011

Oh Friday Fill-In (June 10, 2011) -how you make my brain work!! My answers are in we go!

1. I remember when I first heard that I was accepted to the University of North Dakota-I could barely believe it and was so excited and terrified.

2. I love when the rain is showering down the side of our house.

3. Most humans have more to be grateful for than they realize.

4. I'm hungry but there's nothing to eat..sound familiar?

5. I was inspired by my parents that no matter how difficult times may be, you get through it together, not alone.

6. Life will take you who knows where!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to making another delicious meal on the BBQ, tomorrow my plans include putting in the car seat (ok ok, watching my husband put it in) and Sunday, I want to relax!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Book Review: The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder

Finally!! A book I could lose myself in!! I've had such a hard time concentrating on non-baby related things lately, and I was starting to miss the feel of  being completely absorbed in a book. Rebecca Wells' The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder was exactly the kind of book I was in the mood for!! Wells' is the author of the Divine Secrets of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood-one of my favourite books AND movies! I somehow never got around to reading the Crowning Glory until now, and boy am I glad that I waited-because I loved it and I needed a good book this week!!

From the author's website: "The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder is the sweet, sexy, funny journey of Calla Lily’s life set in Wells’ expanding fictional Louisiana landscape. In the small river town of La Luna, Calla bursts into being, a force of nature as luminous as the flower she is named for. Under the loving light of the Moon Lady, the feminine force that will guide and protect her throughout her life, Calla enjoys a blissful childhood—until it is cut short all too soon."

This book was chock full of love and loss, and there were many times I was very close to tears (I held them in because I thought if I started to cry I might not stop!!), but I loved every minute of this book. It was easy to become totally wrapped up in this book-I finished it in less than 24hours- the characters were very accessible, and Wells truly excels at writing about women and their relationships with each other. It made me realize that although I am very happy with our move to Red Deer, I am definitely missing all my Toronto friends!!

Now onto another book!! I have a bunch I picked up at the library so I hope I picked some that will be just as captivating as The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder!!

Booking Through Thursday: Own or Borrow?

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Question June 9, 2011: All things being equal (money, space, etc), would you rather own copies of the books you read? Or borrow them?

My answer: OWN!!!! If I had all the money in the world (and the space too!!) I would absolutely want to own every book I read. For a number of reasons, they include:
1. I love looking at my bookshelf. I have my books organized by colour because it looks pretty and makes me feel good inside. 
2. I could then lend my books to other people-I do already, but I could lend them even more books!!
3. I would be supporting the author (and their teams) by purchasing their work
4. Ummmm that would just be super awesome.

What about you?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Book Review: The Tsarina's Daughter

It's been a while since I've posted a book review!! I just finished reading Carolly Erickson's The Tsarina's Daughter. It started out really good, then became so-so, so overall it was ok.  

From the publisher's website "It is 1989 and Daria Gradov is an elderly grandmother living in the rural West. But she is not who she claims to be—the widow of a Russian immigrant of modest means. In actuality she began her life as the Grand Duchess Tatiana, known as Tania to her parents, Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra.
            At the heart of the story is young Tania, who lives a life of incomparable luxury in pre-Revolutionary Russia. When her younger brother is diagnosed with hemophilia and the key to his survival lies in the mysterious power of the illiterate monk Rasputin, it is merely an omen of much worse things to come. Soon war breaks out and revolution sweeps the family from power and into claustrophobic imprisonment in Siberia. Into Tania’s world comes a young soldier whose life she helps to save and who becomes her partner in daring plans to rescue the imperial family from certain death."

**Spoiler alert**
I do enjoy historical fiction, and was interested in this novel because I don't think I've read anything set in Russia, and nothing during the period of its final tsar's reign. While I expect an author to take liberties when writing a piece of historical fiction, I found it a bit odd that Erickson wrote this story as though Tatiana/Tania lived to tell her tale. I don't know why she didn't just write it from Tatiana's perspective but allow for her actual death to be the end of the story. I don't feel like there was anything added to the story by having her live while the rest of her family is murdered...if anything I felt like it took away from the story once I found out she lived. The other thing I didn't really like about this book, was that I found aspects of Tatiana's behaviour hard to believe. On a number of occasions when her family is under persecution, it is Tatiana that people come to when trying to formulate a plan for their escape and survival, and it is up to her to convince her father the Tsar that they must go through with these plans. Seriously? I just couldn't buy it! Finally, I don't know why this book was titled The Tsarina's Daughter....while the Tsarina was a predominant figure in the novel, she was not more so than the Tsar, Tatiana, or any other number of characters. Wow, I feel like I am talking myself out of liking this book at all!! I would give Erickson another chance with some of her other historical fiction novels as she definitely wrote in such a way that I felt like I was witnessing Russia during this time period.

Now to try to get some more non baby related reading in before our little one makes his or her appearance!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Friday Fill-Ins June 3, 2011

It's Friday Fill-In time again, my answers are in RED  and for a special treat, my parents are visiting this week, so for double the fun my mom will answer too!! Hers are in BLUE! we go!

1. Hey! We're going to have a baby in less than 1 month!!
Hey! YOU! Get off of my cloud.

2. In every joke there is a kernel of truth.
 A single kernel of truth.

3. Eat your vegetables, then have some cake :)
Eat, drink, and be merry.

4. Monkey in the middle.
I'm stuck in the middle.

5. First thing to note: I need to go to the bathroom!!
First thing to note: must have coffee!

6. When I was in Toronto and my husband in Red Deer, knitting was the best distraction.
I'd like a nice distraction.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to our first BBQ EVER, tomorrow my plans include getting raspberry pie and meat pies from the Farmer's Market, a walk in the park if my body can handle it, and maybe some fireworks, and Sunday, I want to sleep!!
And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to steak on Sara and Dave's new BBQ with some nice wine and good company, tomorrow my plans include possibly fireworks in the evening, and Sunday, I want to enjoy our last day with Sara, Dave, and baby Girardin!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Booking Through Thursday: Reviews

btt buttonQuestion June 2, 2011: Do you read book reviews? Whose do you trust? Do they affect your reading habits? Your buying habits?

My answer: This question seemed very familiar so I took a look at my previous BTT posts, and lo and behold I found it: June 24, 2010: Book Reviews! My answer continues to be: no not really. Sometimes I'll notice that a book is getting a lot of "press" whether that be reviews on other blogs, in magazines, or posters on the subway (that was back in my Toronto days-ok ok a month ago!), and that may grab my attention. I don't trust one more than the other, and I rarely buy books these days-I've been getting most of them from the library!