Thursday, June 30, 2011
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Nineteen-year-old Anjali Bose is an ambitious girl born into a traditional lower-middle class family in tiny Gauripaur, India. Successful in school with an aptitude for languages, especially English, Anjali is facing what she has been dreading for a while - an arranged marriage. But Anjali's expat teacher, Peter Champion, sees a spark in Anjali that needs to be nurtured and he encourages her to set off for Bangalore, India's fastest-growing major metropolis.
In Bangalore, Anjali quickly falls into the huge, highly ambitious crowd of other young men and women who have come from all over the country to get jobs as call-centre agents. They spend their time immersing themselves in American culture, shopping and partying, learning the right accents from television shows so they can pass themselves off as American on the phones, meanwhile earning more than their parents could ever have dreamed of.
Anjali sees her opportunity to Bangalore to leave her past behind and reinvent herself, breaking free from the traditions of class, caste and gender. But she quickly discovers that modernity has its dark side and if she isn't careful, it will pull her under.
Miss New India, by Bharati Mukherjee, is a fascinating look at contemporary India, it's place in the world and the young people who are behind it's growth. Bangalore is known as the Silicon Valley of India, a place where many American companies are outsourcing their customer service jobs and because of that is experiencing rapid growth and an influx of people from all over the country in hopes of benefitting from the growth.
The main character, Anjali Bose, is so simple she's complex. Inexperienced and naive, the reader will find her frustrating and fascinating. She's an intelligent girl in book smarts but not in street smarts. She has ambitions but doesn't know how to achieve them. As you discover Bangalore along with her, you'll find yourself wondering why she is making the decisions she does. She quickly makes some interesting and powerful friends in Bangalore and you'll wonder what it is that has attracted them to her. She seems to lack all the qualities that these people would be looking for.
I was expecting this book to be more about the world of call-centre agents, these "Miss New India's." While the contrasts between the old and new India are fascinating, a lot of it seems rushed. Anjali finds herself in some pretty tough situations that seem to be wrapped up rather neatly given their extreme nature.
The book definitely takes a turn I wasn't expecting and veers away from what I thought it would be about. But it is still a fascinating look at a world we know of (don't we all assume that when we call a customer support line, we're calling India?) but don't really know much about. Mukherjee is a fantastic writer and makes India jump off the page.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Monday, June 20, 2011
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Starring in Hot in Cleveland, hosting SNL, stealing the scene in a Snickers Commercial - who isn't loving Betty White these days? Whether you are a fan of hers from back in the day onThe Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Golden Girls (I still love watching the re-runs) or know her from her more recent appearances, you can't help but be in love with Betty White. She's witty, smart, kind and always current. At the age of 89 she is still charming people of all ages.
If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won't) is Betty White's fifth book and is a sweet, humble and thankful look at her life and the wisdom it has given her in the last couple of decades. As you read this book you will feel as though Betty is sitting next to you on the couch sharing all the little gems and insights she has about life.
The book is divided into short sections on different topics such as love, her career, animals and aging. Each is full of insight and humour, and is written in such a personal and warm manner that you won't want to put it down. I certainly didn't and I ended up reading the book in one sitting. The book is also full of photos, both of Betty's private and public life which, if it was possible, make her even more endearing.
This is a wonderful book and would make the perfect summer read. Fix yourself a cool drink, grab a seat somewhere outside in the shade and sit back and enjoy this gem. Then tell all of your friends to do the same. You'll probably want to pick up The Golden Girls on dvd afterward too.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Imagine that when your life ends you are sent back to Earth as a guardian angel. And not for just anyone but a guardian angel for yourself. Imagine you had the opportunity to observe and alter the life you have already lived.
This is what happens to Margot Delacroix when her tragic life comes to an end at the age of forty. Renamed Ruth, she is sent back to Earth to encourage Margot to make the right decisions, in the hopes of making her life a little easier. Not only does Ruth now have the opportunity to fix the wrongs of her life, but she also is able to understand why her life turned out the way it did. Will Ruth be able to give Margot the life she truly deserves, or will Margot continue to do things her own way and leave Ruth to be a witness to her own self-destruction?
The Guardian Angel's Journal by Carolyn Jess-Cooke is not the type of novel I would usually read. I tend to stay away from novels about angels and the spiritual realm that don't line up with my faith, and because of that I did hesitate for a second when contacted by the author to review this novel. But the premise of the book sounded so interesting, being ones own guardian angel, so I decided to give it a read. And I am so glad that I did.
This is a fantastic book. Right from the first page the reader is drawn into the book and captivated by Margot's story. Her life was full of tragedy, and as you read about her experiences you ache and hurt for the little girl, wishing that you could be her guardian angel to try and save her from these terrible things.
And as Margot grows older you feel for Ruth as she has to watch herself make difficult and terrible decisions, now having the wisdom to know better, but unable to convince herself to make a change.
There is so much wrapped up in this novel - death, abuse, addiction, angels and demons, tragedy, forgiveness, redemption - and yet it is a beautiful page-turner. This is a book that you will not be able to put down. I've read that Carolyn Jess-Cooke has been compared with Audrey Niffenegger and I can see why. The feeling I was left with after reading this book is the same great feeling I had after reading The Time Traveller's Wife. The Guardian Angel's Journal is an original and fresh take on the story of guardian angels and well worth a read.
I would like to thank the author, Carolyn Jess-Cooke, for providing me with a copy of this book to review. The opinions expressed above are purely my own, and I received no compensation for my review.
Monday, June 13, 2011
After drawing a number through Random.org, the winner of the Vega Smoothie Mix prize pack is Elizabeth!!! I will contact you soon via email to get your details.
Friday, June 10, 2011
Alexander McCall Smith. I love the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency and I would love to discuss the series with him. Also, he was born in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and taught at the University of Botswana and I would love to hear about his experience living in Africa and how it influenced him to write the series.
Sophie Kinsella. I just love her books and think she would be so much fun to hang out with and talk chick lit with.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Brendan Brazier is a former professional Ironman triathlete, and a two-time Canadian 50 km Ultra Marathon champion. And would you believe he is a vegan?
Many people may find it hard to believe that a vegan diet would be compatible with being a high-performance athlete, but in Whole Foods to Thrive Brazier shows just how easy it can be. Brazier explains why he believes a nutrient-dense, plant-based foods are the best choice for both your health and the health of the planet.
The book is packed full of information on topics such as how our health is dependent upon nutrition, the environmental toll of food production and the eight key components of good nutrition. It also includes 200 plants based recipes that are allergen-free and contain no wheat, yeast, gluten, soy, dairy or corn.
Whole Foods to Thrive is not a book aimed only at vegans, it is a nutritional resource for everyone. Even if you are a meat lover, this book will help you integrate more whole foods into your diet and make sure that you are getting the necessary nutrients for optimal health. In the last few years, my diet has made major transitions. I eat less meat and dairy and a lot more whole foods. My love for sugar-packed and processed food and drinks is gone and I have seen major health benefits because of it. I don't ever see myself going vegan, but this book has shown me that I can still make more easy changes in my diet. And with recipes such as Garlic Thyme Sweet Potato Oven Fries, Spicy Black Bean Chili and White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake with Chocolate-Almond Crust, who wouldn't want to give it a try?
About the Author
Brendan Brazier is the bestselling author of The Thrive Diet (2007) and Thrive Fitness (2009), as well as the creator of an award-winning line of whole food nutritional products called Vega. He has been nominated three times for the prestigious Manning Innovation Award for the creation of the Vega Formula.
One lucky reader can win one prize pack containing six Vega smoothie mixes in an assortment of flavours like Vanilla Chai, Bodacious Berry, and Choc-a-Lot. For a chance to win leave a comment below and include your email address. The giveaway will end at 11:59 PM on Sunday June 12. This giveaway is open to Canadian residents only.
I would like to thank Penguin Group for providing me with a copy of this book as well as the giveaway prize pack.
Monday, June 6, 2011
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Anthony and Rachel have lived a quaint, artistic life near the Suffolk coast raising their three sons. Their family has always been close knit and as the boys grow older and begin families of their own, their home continues to be the centre of their successful family.
But when Anthony and Rachel's youngest son marries and a third daughter-in-law enters the picture, the family dynamic begins to change. The children begin to develop lives independent of their parents and Rachel responds to her empty nest by alienating everyone in the family. As the family deals with a major crisis each characters' true self begins to emerge and the fragility of the family begins to show.
Daugthers-in-law is Joanna Trollope's 16th novel and a fine one. It explores the rocky relationship that often occurs between mothers and daughter-in-laws, showing that even those that look perfect are not what they seem. But this story isn't just about the women, it includes the role of the sons and husbands as well.
At first glance it may seem that there isn't much depth to the story but as it pulls you in you begin to see the layers to each character, the story and the complexity of the familial relationship. Trollope writes the quirks and intricacies of the relationship with knowledge and sympathy while at the same time allowing the reader to make the decisions and take sides as to who is in the right and who is in the wrong.
Daughters-in-law is a beautiful novel that explores the fragility of relationships within the large family dynamic. Women of all walks of life will appreciate Trollope's depth and understanding, and will find themselves wrapped up in this fresh story.