Showing posts from June, 2012

Book Blogger Hop

Schools. Out. For. Summer!!!  Yes, that song has been in my head since yesterday.  The summer is officially here.  I'm looking forward to a bit of travel and a lot of reading over the next two months.

The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Jennifer at Crazy For Books.  It's a weekly book blogger gathering, a great way to get to know your fellow bloggers and find great new blogs and books.

This weeks question is: Do you have a keeper shelf for the books you loved?  What books are on your shelf and why?

I put every book I read on my bookshelves.  I want to have my own little library one day.  I don't have the room yet, but when I started blogging I put two bookcases into my bedroom and began collecting that way.  I'm now in need of a new bookcase.

I do however keep the top two shelves for the books I absolutely loved.  One for my favourite fiction and one for my favourite Christian books.

How about you?

Half Year In Review

School is done, the weather is warm, we're already halfway through 2012.  I have to say this year is flying by.  No complaints though, it's been a wonderful year so far.  I thought I would take a look at my reading over the last few years and check in with how I'm doing on the challenges I set forth for this year.

Read 100 Books
Right now I'm at 39.  This time last year I had already 44, so I'm a little behind.  And considering I didn't make it to 100 last year (I think I was somewhere in the 80s) I need to stay focused.  I think I'll do it this year though, I have a good feeling about it.

Canadian Book Challenge
The goal is to read 13 books by Canadian authors or with Canadian themes.  This year I read 20 (the contest runs from Canada Day to the day before Canada Day - or July 1 to June 30.)  Last year I read 28.  I'm surprised to see I read less this year, I was hoping to improve on that.  But the CBC 6 starts tomorrow so this year I'll set myself …


I would like to thank Judith at Leeswamme's Blog for hosting The Literary Blog Hop.  If you weren't able to participate this time around, be sure to keep an eye out in the fall for another hop.  It's run three times a year so there are plenty of opportunities to win some great books.

For the third time, I was giving away fantastic Canadian books.  I strive to share with the world the amazing books that come out of this wonderful country of mine.  And the winner of my giveaway is.....

Sara Katherine!
She wins a copy of A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews.
Thanks to everyone who entered and I'll see you all the at the next hop!

"Born to be Brad" by Brad Goreski

Brad Goreski was a small town boy living in Port Perry, Ontario dreaming of a bigger and better life.  But he didn't quite know how big his life was going to become.
As a child, Brad was different from the other boys in his town.  He loved fashion and dressing up Barbie dolls, all things glitz, glamour and Marilyn Monroe.  And because others didn't understand his fascination, he was bullied during his school years.  But Brad didn't let this stop him and upon leaving his small town and heading to Toronto he discovered a world where he could be himself and explore his passions.  Toronto took him to Greece, Greece to Los Angeles, LA to New York and so on.  And before he knew it, people everywhere were getting to know him as a celebrity stylist on the television show The Rachel Zoe Project.  
In Born to be Brad: My Life and Style, So Far, Brad Goreski shares the story of his success, a journey that had its tough times with bullying, drug abuse, and heartbreak but was ultimately …

"The Red House" by Mark Haddon

Richard and Angela are estranged siblings who have a long-standing grudge between them resulting from the care of their mother in her last years.  They've shared little in their lives with each other and just don't know the other very well.  So no one quite knows why Richard invites Angela and her family to join Richard's family at a house in the English countryside for a week or why Angela accepts the invitation.
It's not just their relationship that threatens to ruin the week.  Richard and his wife Louisa are adjusting to their new marriage and the effects of their old lives.  Louisa's daughter Melissa is in trouble back home but hiding it from her parents.  Angela is haunted by the loss of a baby 18 years earlier.  Her husband Dominic is in the midst of a relationship outside of his marriage.  Their children Alex, Daisy and Benjy, are all distanced from their parents, dealing with their own identity issues.  The next seven days will be a test of strength, a famil…

It's Monday What Are You Reading?

It's Monday!  It's the last week before school lets out for summer!  Happy dances all around in my home.

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.   It's a great place to meet book bloggers and find out what they are reading.

Last week I read:
The Red House by Mark Haddon
No Greater Love by Levi Benkert
Born to Be Brad by Brad Goreski
Breakdown by Sara Paretsky

(Reviews coming soon)

I am currently reading:

Gathering of Waters by Bernice L. McFadden
I am reading next:

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
Swim by Jennifer Weiner
Starring Me by Krista McGee

I have a few other books in my pile I'm hoping to get to but they're due back at the library this week so I'm not sure I'll get to them.  So we'll see how this week goes.

What are you reading this week?

Sunday Bookish Round-up

Here are a few bookish headlines that caught my eye this week!  I'd love to hear your thoughts on them.

*Looking for a summer book?  This flowchart from will help you find the perfect book for you, whether you want recent or classic, fiction or non-fiction, light or dark.

*A recent study shows that only 12 per cent of e-book users have downloaded from the library.  Because of this some major publishers are limiting the books they're making available to the library.
I haven't borrowed one from the library yet, though I've checked it out.  Have you borrowed an e-book from your library?  Do you think it will pick up in time?  Do you think what the publishers are doing is a good idea?

*The Canadian Women in the Literary Arts numbers are out and it's not good.  As Jennifer Weiner has pointed out, women are reviewed less than their male counterparts and these numbers paint the same picture of gender inequality here in Canada.

*Reading Rainbow is back!  But not…

Literary Blog Hop Giveaway!

It's time for The Literary Blog Hop Giveaway hosted by Judith at Leeswammes' Blog.  Between now and 27 June, 64 blogs are hosting a giveaway and you can hop by them all to enter!  What's more awesome than 64 chances to win books?

For this giveaway I like to offer books by fantastic Canadian authors.  I'm a fiercely proud Canadian and we have amazing writers with unique voices that I want the world to hear!  So the winner of the giveaway will be able to choose one of the three following books (click on the title to find out more about the book):

A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Each book is well loved (the first two were bought at a library sale) but still in good reading condition.  Want to win?  Here are the details:
Giveaway is open worldwide.  To enter, please leave a comment below with your email address book and which book you would like to win.  Contest closes at 11:59pm on the 27th of June.  Win…

Book Blogger Hop

It's Friday!  Today my daughter is graduating from Kindergarten.  The school year doesn't end until next week, but it's the ceremony today.  It's exciting to see her make it through her first year of schooling in French and the best part is she really enjoyed it!

It's also time for the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Jennifer at Crazy For Books.  It's a great place for book bloggers and readers to connect!

This weeks question is: Do you immediately write a review upon finishing a book or do you wait and write multiple reviews at once?

I prefer to put down a book and think about the review for a little bit before I actually write it.  However, if I don't get to it within a day or two I will get backed up writing reviews and I don't like having to do multiple reviews at a time.  If I'm on a roll with my reading, I usually have a week between when I'm done reading and when I post a review, so I take a little bit of time to get the review done.  If I…

"Ru" by Kim Thuy

In Vietnamese, the word "ru" means lullaby.  In French, it means small stream, but also signifies a flow - of tears, blood, or money.  In Kim Thuy's book Ru, it symbolizes the flow of life across waters, in the form of a beautiful lullaby.
The book follows a young woman on a journey from a well to do life in Saigon to a Malaysian refugee camp and then on to a new life in Quebec.  As she adapts to her new life, the American Dream life, she is thrown a curve as she must learn to love in a new way with her autistic son.
Each page of this beautifully written book is its own heartfelt memory.  Kim Thuy draws on the memories of her own life in short, emotional clips, jumping back and forth between time and place to paint the bigger picture.  This isn't a book that builds a story from beginning to end or that takes the time to develop characters and give them back stories.   This is a short novel that weaves pieces together to create a life.
It wasn't what I expected.  I l…

"Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter" by Carmen Aguirre

When Carmen Aguirre was six years old, a violent coup unseated the President of her home country Chile and replaced him with the repressive regime of General Augusto Pinochet.  Carmen, her parents, and her younger sister Ale fled the country and headed for Canada, where they carved out a suburban life dedicated to educating people about the injustices in their homeland. 
Then, in 1978 the Chilean resistance put out a call for the exiled activists, including Carmen's parents, to return to Latin America and fight to give back rights to the people.  Carmen's parents took up the call and the family returned, travelling through Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile, setting up safe houses, gathering intelligence and devoting their lives to the resistance. 
Carmen and her sister lived double lives, spending their days as middle class school girls but privy to the inner workings of the resistance.  They lived in fear of their neighbours or friends finding out who they really were and of t…

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

It's Monday!  What Are You Reading?  It's a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey where book bloggers come together to discuss what's on the top of their to read pile.  It's a fabulous look ahead at the reading week.

I'm currently recovering from the Dutch football teams loss in the Euro Cup.  I'm not sure how long it will take me to recover, if it's even possible.  But things will definitely brighten up on Friday when it's my daughters Kindergarten graduation ceremony!!!

Last week I read:
Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter by Carmen Aguirre - such an interesting read!
Ru by Kim Thuy - a beautifully written novel
Stand By Me by Neta Jackson - lovely Christian fiction novel

Reviews coming this week for all.

I am currently reading:

The Red House by Mark Haddon - estranged family members spend a week together in a country house

No Greater Love by Levi Benkert - Levi and his family move to Ethiopia to work in an orphanage for children ne…

Book Blogger Hop

Happy Friday!  The 2012 Euro Cup is heating up and it is all about Football in our household!  Well, football and reading.  There's always reading :)

The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme hosted by Jennifer at Crazy For Books.  Each week book bloggers get together to visit and get to know each other.  It's a great way to find fantastic blogs.

This weeks question is:  Do you belong to a book club, either online or in real life?

Currently I don't.  I've never really participated in a a full-fledged book club.  I joined one in school, read the book, but then I couldn't make it to the meeting.  And the club didn't continue after that because things at school got too busy!

Last year Joy at Edgy Inspirational Romance ran an online Christian Fiction Book Club and I participated in a couple of the books, the ones I could manage to get my hands on.

But I've never been a part of a book club that meets regularly and that I've been able to read all the books. May…

"Gold" by Chris Cleave

Kate Argall and Zoe Castle have been friends and rivals since they met at the age of nineteen when they made the national program in track cycling.  At the age of thirty-two they are now facing the biggest, and last, race of their lives - the 2012 Olympics in their home country.  
Zoe has won gold at the past two Olympics games and she cannot fathom what will happen if she doesn't win a third.  Kate has missed the last two Olympic games because of the demands of motherhood, Athens in 2004 after her daughter was born and and Beijing in 2008 after her daughter was diagnosed with the leukemia that almost killed her.
Each woman has the drive and desire to win the gold medal.  But each woman has off the track trials that are pulling their attention in a different direction.  And when the Olympic committee makes the decision that only one woman can race at the Games, Zoe and Kate's friendship will be put to its biggest test.
Gold, by Chris Cleave, is about two very different women, thr…

"The Headmaster's Wager" by Vincent Lam

Percival Chen, a Chinese immigrant, is the headmaster of the most respected English School in Saigon.  He is also a father, gambler, and womanizer.  Fiercely proud of his Chinese heritage, he has devoted himself to building his business, including bribing government officials to maintain the status of his school, and ignoring the horrors of the violence that are unfolding around him.  
But when his son gets into trouble with the Vietnamese authorities, Percival is forced to acknowledge what is taking place around him.  He must send his son back to China to keep him from the war and puts himself in debt to do so.  Percival takes solace in Jacqueline, a woman of mixed French and Vietnamese heritage, and their whirlwind union produces a son.  But on the eve of the Tet offensive, the war lands on Percival's doorstep and he must confront all that he has desperately tried to avoid.  
The Headmaster's Wager by Giller Prize winner Vincent Lam is a beautiful story of love, sacrifice, and…

"It's Monday, What Are You Reading?"

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.  It's always great to start off the week with my reading planned and knowing which books to look forward to!

Last week was a pretty busy one with kids soccer and gymnastics, field trips and gorgeous weather.  Not to mention the start of the Euro Cup (go Oranje!)  So I only read one book but I'm looking forward to getting back into things.

Last week I read:
Gold by Chris Cleave.  A story about Olympic cyclists, their friendship and rivalry, and life with a little bit of Star Wars thrown in.  Review to come soon.

Right now I am reading:
Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter by Carmen Aguirre.  Carmen's mother and stepfather were South American resistance fighters and Carmen recounts her childhood and how she decided to join the resistance herself.
Next I am going to read: Ru by Kim Thuy.  Follows the journey of a young woman from a palatial residence in Saigon, to a Malaysian…

What My Child Is Reading

What My Child is Reading is a weekly meme hosted by Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns.  I thought this would be a fun meme to join in.  Even though I don't review children's books here on my blog, I think it's a still a good idea to share what my little ones are reading!

My daughter is five and in Kindergarten.  She is in the French Immersion program at school which means all of her learning is in French, so we read both French and English books at home, as you will see in my posts.  My son is almost three and he enjoys listening to any book we're reading no matter what the language!

So here are a few of the books we read this week:
La coccinelle mal lunĂ©e by Eric Carle - also known as The Grouchy Ladybug.  Great for teaching kids about telling time and fabulous illustrations.  My daughter loves how the size of the page grows with the animal size, especially the blue whale fin.
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod by Eugene Field.  Three little fishermen go sailing in a wooden shoe into t…

Armchair BEA Day Five: Ask the Experts

It's the last day of Armchair BEA and I have thoroughly enjoyed.  Visiting new blogs, engaging in Twitter conversations, "meeting"'s all been great.  I'm so thankful to all the people who have stopped by my blog this week.  And on the last day we get to Ask the Experts.  Anything you want to know (or share) about blogging, now is the time.

So I have a question that has been bugging me for a while and I would love to get other book bloggers opinions on it.

If you have a policy stated on your blog that you are NOT currently accepting review copies, but publishers and authors send you an email pitch for their blog, how do you respond?  Do you ignore it and not give them a response?  Do you reply saying you aren't accepting copies right now?  

I look forward to hearing your responses!

"Thank You Notes" by Jimmy Fallon

Only recently have I been able to stay up late enough to catch Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and one of my favourite segments of the show is Thank You Notes.  After watching for a few weeks, I said to my husband, "you know he has a book right?" and as soon as I said it we rushed to get it.

Thank You Notes by Jimmy Fallon with The Writers of Late Night is a compilation of the some of the funniest notes from the television segment.  My husband and I sat down together, and I read the entire book doing my best Jimmy Fallon impression (not so great, but by the end of the book I had the delivery working well.)  We laughed our heads off and our teenage nephew gave us strange looks.
Some of our favourites:
"Thank you… guy with the $10,000 sound system in his $800 car, for driving down Broadway this afternoon.  You're loud.  You're proud.  You're in a '91 Tercel.  Thank you."
"Thank you…gym, for being exactly like my grandpa - always there for me, even thoug…

"Armchair BEA Day Four: Beyond the Blog

Today's topic for Armchair BEA is Beyond the Blog.  Specifically it is about opportunities our blogs have presented us beyond getting free books.

I have always enjoyed writing.  My university degree in History and Political Science pretty much guaranteed me a whole lot of writing and I loved writing all of those papers.  After that I went on to get a graduate degree in Public Relations.  More opportunities to write, though usually confined to just a few pages!

I never actually went to work in the field as my daughter was born right after I finished that degree.  So part of the reason why I started this blog was to be able to keep up my writing skills in the years that I spend at home with my kids.  Who knows when I'll end up back in the workforce!

During this time I've managed to do some freelance writing and editing not related to this blog.  However, once a friend saw my blog and what I was doing, she asked for permission to repost some of my reviews in a column on a we…

Armchair BEA Day Three: Networking

Todays post is all about Networking.  Both online and off, how do you do it?

Offline, it's a bit difficult for me.  My kids and other commitments keep me very busy and I often don't have the time to get out there and attend lots of opportunities for meeting face to face.  I know that there is a very large book blogger community in my fabulous city of Toronto and I do hope to meet up with some of the book bloggers one day.

I do try to attend Word on the Street, a yearly book festival here in the city.  It's an awesome opportunity to get out and celebrate books with other book lovers.  And I recently attended an author talk, with Malcolm Gladwell, and I hope to attend many more in the future.

I have struck up lots of conversations with people through books because I always have one on me when I go out.  I talk to people at the park, on the bus, at the doctors office because they see me reading books.  And I have had a lot of interesting conversations because of them.  I lov…

"Everybody Has Everything" by Katrina Onstad

What happens when two people become parents in an instant?  Ana and James are about to find out.  
When a car crash kills their friend Marcus and leaves his wife Sarah in a coma, Ana and James instantly become legal guardians of their son, two year old Finn.  While all four were friends, Ana and James never thought they were close enough to be given such a monumental role and they are shocked as they are thrown into parenthood.  Though they had once tried for a child of their own it wasn't meant to be.  While they considered adoption, they settled into a life without children as they contemplated what to do next.  
When Ana and James' lives are turned upside down by the sudden arrival of Finn, they discover the truth about themselves and the notion that not everyone may cut out to be a parent.
Everyone Has Everything by Katrina Onstad is a smart, deeply poignant novel that tackles the tough subject of parenthood and the taboo notion that not everyone wants to, or can, be a parent…

Armchair BEA Day Two: Favourite Books of 2012

Day two of Armchair BEA is all about our favourite books of 2012.  I've read 32 books thus far and while a bunch of them have been fantastic, nothing has been far and away the best.  So here are three that I have enjoyed this year:

(click on title for review)
419 by Will Ferguson
The Beach Cafe by Lucy Diamond
Sinners and Saints by Victoria Christopher Murray and ReShonda Tate Billingsley

What books am I hoping will end up favourites this year?  Here's two:

What are your favourite books this year?

Armchair BEA Day One

It's Day One of Armchair BEA.  This is my first time participating and I'm very excited.  I wish I could go  to something like BEA, but considering it would involve crossing a border for me, it's a little difficult.  So I'm glad to be here!  Day One is all about introductions and getting to know fellow book bloggers.  So here is a little bit about Shan:

1) Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?

My name is Shan, I'm 30 years old, a wife, a mother to two beautiful little kids, a girl age 5 and a boy age 3.  I'm a stay at home mom, married to a wonderful man who teaches high school math.  I love Bikram yoga, knitting, and the Dutch soccer team.  I'm a fiercely proud Canadian and have the red maple leaf tattooed on my back.

I have been blogging for 2.5 years.  I started because my friends were also asking me what I was reading and no one could ever keep up!  I thought that starti…

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

Happy Monday!  It's the first Monday of June, less than one month until summer vacation!  Everyone in my house is looking forward to it.
It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.  Warning - it will make your to read list grow by leaps and bounds.

Last week I:

Read (reviews coming soon)
Everybody Has Everything by Katrina Onstad
The Headmaster's Wager by Vincent Lam

Malcolm Gladwell at the Toronto Reference Library.  Fantastic night, excellent interview, great guy.  Check out my thoughts on the night here.

This week I am:


Gold by Chris Cleave  Katie and Zoe met at age nineteen while in training as competitive cyclists.  Now at the age of 32, they are both fighting to make it to the London Olympics and win the gold medal.  But with the stress of life and maintaining relationships and their friendship, they will be pushed to the limit in their quest for Gold.
Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter by Carmen Aguirr…