Showing posts from December, 2012

Year In Review

The last day of 2012 has arrived and it's time for me to look back at the year and check in on all those challenges I signed up for a long, long time ago!  Let's see how I did!

100 Books Read Challenge
For the third year in a row, I didn't make this one!  But I came close, 91 which isn't bad at all!  In 2011 I read 88 books so an improvement.  At least I'm read more than the previous year, not less!  Something to aim for again in 2013!

Back to Classics Challenge
This is the first year I joined this challenge.  My aim was to read 9 books and I read 4.  So, not my goal!  Towards the end of this year I joined up with the Classics Club to help me read more and I will definitely be signing up for this challenge again next year.

Mixing It Up Challenge
This one covered a whole bunch of genres and I signed up to read 16 books and I did it!!!  Some new to me genres include Manga, Romance and Horror.

Speculative Fiction Challenge
This is a genre I hadn't read much of so I …

Best Books of 2012

As the year comes to a close it's time to pick out a few books that really stood out for me during the year, books that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to anyone for years to come.  I read a lot of great books this year, but there are 4 that stand out for me.  I am so proud that 3 of these books are Canadian.

Up and Down by Terry Fallis If one book could sum up what being a Canadian is all about, it's this one.  
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker Original concept, beautiful writing, a great debut novel.
The Beggar's Opera by Peggy Blair A thrilling mystery set in Cuba, the first Inspector Ramirez novel.
The Stone Thrower by Jael Ealey Richardson A riveting story of race, identity, football, and a father-daughter relationship.
Have you read any of these books? What are your favourite books of 2012?

"The Notebook" by Nicholas Sparks

Confession: I've never seen the movie The Notebook.  And I have never wanted to.  A lot of people are shocked when I say that.  And I get it.  I'm just not a fan of romance movies or books though.  But one of my challenges this year required reading a romance book and I figured if I'm going to go for it I may as well go on.  And so I read Nicholas Sparks' The Notebook.
This novel of love lost and found is a beautiful story that spans decades and looks at the ultimate romantic decision - stay with the dependable, respectful one you're with and take a chance with the ultra-romantic lost-love that has appeared in your life once again.  
In 1932, two teenagers from two very different worlds met one summer and fell in love.  But the end of the summer was also the end of the relationship.  Fourteen years later, a newspaper article brings Allie and Noah back together unexpectedly.  For two days, they return to the summer they spent together, the romance that changed their l…

"Gang Leader for a Day" by Sudhir Venkatesh

Sudhir Venkatesh was a first year sociology graduate student when he took the biggest risk of his life.  Hoping to make an impression with one of his professors, he headed out to one of Chicago's most notorious housing projects, looking for people to take a multiple choice survey on urban poverty.  What he ended up finding would change his life, and the academic establishment, forever.
Somehow Venkatesh managed to befriend a man named JT, the leader of a gang that controlled one of the buildings in the projects.  And for the next seven years, Venkatesh would spend his days under JT's eye, learning everything you could ever know about how an organized gang works.  There he met drug dealers, addicts, prostitutes, squatters, pimps, police officers, community organizers and tenants who were just trying to survive the poverty that surrounded them.  He learned every detail of how to operate a crack-selling business and why residents of the neighbourhood depended upon the gang for the…

"All Over the Map" by Laura Fraser

As her fortieth birthday nears, travel writer Laura Fraser faces the fact that her life didn't turn out exactly like she thought it would.  Divorced and childless, she found the love she yearned for in a Frenchman she met in Italy, one who would forever be in her life but never be hers.  This affair did one thing though, it re-ignited her passion for travel.
In All Over The Map, Fraser shares how she decided to take hold of her life and her independence at forty and take off travelling the world on assignment and on holiday.  As she travels to places like Argentina, Naples, Paris, Mexico, Peru, Samoa and Rwanda she comes to terms with the fact that for her single life may be scary but it is something that she can face on her own terms.
This book is a combination of travel book and personal memoir and strong on both points.  As you travel the world with Fraser, you are able to soak up the culture and discover these places right along with her.  Anyone with a little bit of wanderlust …

"The Legacy" by David Suzuki

Academic, activist, broadcaster, eco-champion - David Suzuki is a Canadian icon.  As a fighter for the environment, he has spent decades hosting television shows, writing books and working tirelessly to inspire others to learn more the world around them and find ways to live in harmony with the natural world.
David Suzuki has written 52 books and The Legacy: An Elder's Vision for a Sustainable Future is a culmination of his life spent showing governments, big businesses and everyday citizens how to better care for the earth.  In 2009, Mr. Suzuki delivered his "last lecture," his reflections on how we have arrived where we are and what we can do to build a sustainable future for ourselves.  This book puts that speech on paper with a few extras, sending a call to action for everyone that walks this earth.
Less than 100 pages, this book will shock and inspire you.  With decades spent immersed in the scientific world and studying the environment, Suzuki could have written a to…

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 hard to believe that there is only one more week of school until the Christmas holiday.  The last few months have flown by, and I certainly miscalculated with how much time I had to finish off my challenges!  I'm working on them though!
Before I get into my reading I must say that my heart and prayers are with Newtown.  As the mother of young children, my daughter a grade one student, I'm heartbroken and grieving for the beautiful little babies whose lives were lost.  And amazed by the heroes who laid down their lives to save others.  May they all rest in peace and may God keep them in His arms until they are one day reunited with their families.
What I Read Last Week
The Legacy: An Elder's Vision for Our Sustainable Future by David Suzuki Wylde on Health: Your Best Choices in the World of Natural Health by Bryce Wylde
What I Am Reading Now
All Over the Map by Laura Fraser Gang Le…

"Wylde on Health" by Bryce Wylde

If you live in Canada, chances are you've seen Bryce Wilde on television.  A leading alternative health expert, Bryce has been seen on on his own television show, Wylde on Health, as well as a frequent guest on shows such as Breakfast Television, CityLine, Canada AM, The Marilyn Denis Show, and Steven and Chris.  
His latest book, Wylde On Health: Your Best Choices in the World of Natural Health, brings together the latest information on natural health along with Wylde's expert knowledge to help you navigate the often confusing world of alternative medicine.  Wylde clears up the terminology, gives an in-depth look at the testing available to better understand your health, and gives readers the best natural cures for everything that ails.  Using his own easy to understand rating system he helps readers separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to today's hottest health trends.
I read a lot of books on natural health and I would consider this one a great place to start. …

"A Streetcar Named Desire" by Tennessee Williams

One summer, Blanche DuBois arrives at the New Orleans apartment of her sister Stella having fled her troubled life in Mississippi.  The sisters were born into an aristocratic life and Blanche is shocked to discover the rough, working class life that Stella is living with her husband Stanley.  Stella believes that Blanche has arrived due to the loss of the family home, but as time goes on, Stella and Stanley begin to wonder what is really behind her visit.
When Stanley talks to a man who knows of the intimate details of Blanche's life, he confronts her and the truth of her disgrace comes out.  Her last chance at love is destroyed and at the hands of Stanley's anger and rage, Blanche experiences a complete breakdown and Stella's only choice is to have Blanche institutionalized.
Tenneesee Williams' 1947 play A Streetcar Named Desire is a story of passion, desire, class, fragility and vulnerability.  It is dark and tragic, real and haunting.  It is so easy to be drawn into t…

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.
I've come to the conclusion that I'm not going to finish all of my challenges before the end of the year.  I will definitely have one finished and it's looking good for a second, but I doubt I'll finish all 3.  Every year I seem to leave my challenge books until right at the end and I am yet to have a year where I finish them all.  I think I'll start out next year by reading a whole bunch of challenge books up front!
Last week I read: A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
I am currently reading: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
I plan to read: The Child's Child by Barbara Vine The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
What are you reading this week?  Did you finish your 2012 reading challenges?

"A History of the World in 100 Objects" by Neil MacGregor

Founded in 1753, the British Museum is the first national public museum in the world and it grants free admission to all visitors.  It is dedicated to preserving human history and culture and is home to over eight million objects from every corner of the earth, documenting the world from the very beginning.
In 2010, the BBC broadcasted a program for over 20 weeks in which Museum Director Neil MacGregor chose 100 objects from the collection that would document the history of the entire world.  This successful series was published as the book A History of the World in 100 Objects.
This is a fascinating book, not just for history lovers, but for everyone.  The history of each object and the place and time period it is from is described in a few pages, with visually stunning photographs.  The book starts right at the beginning with a Mummy from Egypt and a stone chopping tool from Tanzania and ends with a credit card from the United Arab Emirates and a Solar-powered lamp and charger made in…

Little Readers

Little Readers is an opportunity for me to share what my children have been reading over the past week.  My daughter is 6 and my son is 3 and we read in both English and French.

My daughter is still very interested in learning about Farms and this is another book she picked out at the library.  It is excellent for young children with lots of pictures and short bits of information.

La pomme rouge by Kazuo Iwamura is a beautifully illustrated book about a young girl having a picnic and when her red apple rolls down the hill, she enlists the help of a few animals to catch it.  The illustrations are pencil drawings with only the apple in colour.  The language is easy so early readers can read it.

Mon nouveau jouet by Mo Willems (I Love My New Toy in English) is one of my favourite books to read!  Lili has a new toy and lets Emile play with it.  But when Emile breaks it, Lili becomes very upset.  Only, the toy isn't really broken and Lili is a little embarrassed.  The illustrations are …

"The Tent" by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is a celebrated Canadian novelist known worldwide for her incredible novels of fiction.  Her well-known books cover a wide range of topics and genres including speculative fiction, dystopian fiction, historical fiction and romance.  But she is also a writer of short fiction and non-fiction and this is what we find in her book The Tent.
This book is a collection of short pieces previously published in magazines and anthologies.  They are fictional pieces inspired by real life characters, including orphans, aging homemakers, and warlords, and other daily occurrences that have given her pause for reflection.  Each piece is very short, I wouldn't call them stories with most being just a couple of pages.  It very much has the feel of taking a peek into Atwood's writing journal, her drawings adding a unique and personal touch.  
Atwood draws heavily on the ironies of life and writes with biting sarcasm and wit.  What I enjoyed most about this book is that the short pie…

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.
For the first time in a very long time I am able to say that I had a wonderful reading week last week!  I read over 1300 pages and finished 4 books, one of which was a major chunkster.  It feels good to start December off like that since I'm going to be spending the month finishing off the challenges I have neglected throughout the year.  I'm also participating in Advent With Atwood hosted by Yvann at Reading With Tea.  And of course I'm still in the midst of the Count of Monte Cristo Readalong, which I really need to get my butt in gear on!  It's a great book so far but I constantly find myself wondering why I didn't get the abridged version!
Last I Week I Read:

The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells
A History of the World In 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor
Selected Poems of Langston Hughes by Langston Hughes
The Tent by Margaret Atwood

I Am Currently Reading:

The Blind Assassin by …

"The Island of Dr. Moreau" by H.G. Wells

When Edward Prendick is rescued from shipwreck in the South Seas he is thankful for a second chance at life.  But his rescuer isn't taking him home.  Instead he is taken to an island paradise where behind the palm trees and beaches lies a sinister secret.  A mad doctor who has been shunned by society is conducting terrifying experiments, attempting to turn animals into humans and letting the beasts live wild on the island.  Prendick's only hope lies in getting off the terrifying island.
The Island of Dr. Moreau, written in 1896 by H.G. Wells, is an enduring work of science fiction and horror.  The book was written a few decades after Darwin's famous Origin of Species when the world was deeply concerned with the matters of the natural world, human nature and God.  It's most shocking theme is that of human interference with nature and the results.
I imagine that for those of us reading this book today, it isn't as horrifying or scary as it was when it was published.  W…