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Showing posts from March, 2013

"Robinson Crusoe" by Daniel Defoe

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Against the wishes of his parents, Robinson Crusoe took to a life at sea.  However, his beginnings were rough, ending up shipwrecked in a storm.  He set out again on another ship and was overtaken by pirates and enslaved.  He managed to escape onto another ship headed to Brazil where he bought himself a plantation.
He set sail again a few years later to bring slaves from Africa to Brazil but once again was shipwrecked.  Only this time, he ended up on a deserted island somewhere in the Americas.  The only one to survive the shipwreck and he is fortunately able to procure supplies from the ship before it sinks, supplies that allow him to begin a new life on the island, where he spends the next twenty eight years of his life learning to survive and finding faith in God.
After many years alone, he discovered that the island was not as uninhabited as he thought.  Cannibals from nearby islands use it as a place to kill and eat their prisoners.  One day, he helps an escaping prisoner, whom he …

"The Detour" by Gerbrand Bakker

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A Dutch lecturer has fled to rural Wales after having confessed to an affair with one of her students.  Her parents and husband are left in Amsterdam, wondering where she has disappeared to and her husband hires a detective to help him find her.  
In Wales, the woman tells others her name is Emilie but does not give much more information about herself.  She rents a farmhouse and spends her days fixing it up.  When she arrives, she notices there are ten geese living in her garden but one by one they begin to disappear, to what she assumes is a fox.  
One day a young man out walking his dog injures himself on her property.  Emilie invites him to stay the night, but he doesn't leave.  With her husband and the detective on their way to Wales, Emilie's old life and new one are poised to collide.  
The Detour by Gerbrand Bakker, is a novel originally published in Dutch and recently published in English.  It is a novel about isolation, turmoil, and retreat, a quiet book about the powerf…

"The World is Moving Around Me" by Dany Laferrière

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On January 12, 2010, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit the island nation of Haiti.  It is estimated that three million people were affected by the quake and approximately 220,000 people lost their lives.  The poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, infrastructure was severely damaged or destroyed and people took to the streets to sleep because their homes were lost or for fear of aftershocks.
Dany Laferrière is a Montreal-based playwright and author who grew up in Haiti and fled the Duvalier dictatorship in the 1970's.  At the moment the earthquake struck he was sitting in a Port-au-Prince hotel restaurant waiting for his dinner to be served.  He and his dinner companions heard an explosion, which they originally thought came from the kitchen, but in the few seconds that followed realized it was an earthquake and fled the hotel for open-air safety.  In the days that followed, Laferrière travelled the city to make sure friends and family members were safe then accepted the Canadian g…

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

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I feel a reading slump coming on.  Or I feel in the middle of a reading slump.  Or maybe it's ending.  I don't know, the feeling is definitely reading slump, I'm just not sure what part of it I'm in.  I don't know if it's the books I'm picking up or if it's just my attention span.  So, I've been trying different books, reading the ones I know will hold my interest, and hoping that soon I'll be tearing through the pages like I usually am!

What I Read Last Week
Hell-Bent by Benjamin Lorr is an inside look at the world of Bikram Yoga and the obsessive culture that can be a part of it.  Read my review to see how someone who practices Bikram feels about the book.  Get You Good by Rhonda Bowen is an Urban Christian novel about love, relationships, and betrayal.  
What I'm Reading Now I started reading Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe this past week.  Not too far into it but looking forward to it.
What I Plan to Read Next
The Detour by Gerbrand Bakker i…

"Hell-Bent" by Benjamin Lorr

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Disclaimer: I practice Bikram Yoga.  I sit in the audience at competitions.  I have attended a clinic with Esak Garcia.  I even read the book while wearing my purple Jedi Fight Club shirt (though I just bought the shirt, I'm not a club member.)  This may colour my impressions of the book, though I really don't think it will.
The term competitive yoga may be confusing for people.  The word competitive seems to be at odds with the whole idea of what yoga really is.  But in the world of Bikram Yoga, 26 postures and two breathing exercises in a room heated up to 110F, it's just a part of the experience.  The word competitive is probably not the best choice, it's more of a demonstration, yogis of all ages and levels performing the same postures in front of audiences and judges.  For most, it's just a competition within themselves, an opportunity to push themselves in their practice.
But behind the scenes of the competitions is a world that many don't know about it.  I…

"Northanger Abbey" by Jane Austen

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Seventeen year old Catherine Morland is a rather unlikely heroine.  As a young girl she was plain, awkward, inattentive, with not much that stood out about her.  But through her reading, she is learning to be a heroine.  Catherine often loses herself in novels, Gothic stories about old castles and great mysteries.  But life for Catherine is nothing what she finds in books.
Until one day, her neighbours invite her to spend a few weeks in Bath where she meets the Tilney family and falls in love with son Henry.   When she is invited to spend time at Northanger Abbey, the family estate, she jumps at the chance to live in her own Gothic story.  Once at the Abbey, she begins to suspect that deep and dark secrets lurk behind its walls.  Are there suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of Mrs. Tilney?  Will Catherine's Gothic fantasy come true or is it all nothing more than fiction?
Northanger Abbey is Jane Austen's first novel, though it was not published until after her death …

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

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Last week was March Break so everyone was off school.  It was nice to have a week of staying up late and not setting the alarm, but it can't last forever so now it's back to the daily grind!  I always make big reading plans for the school holidays and then find that we're so busy doing all sorts of stuff,  I don't get to pick up many books.  Hopefully, going back to our schedule I'll be able to read more.  I have so many great books sitting in my TBR pile!

What I Read Last Week
The Doctor's Lady by Jody Hedlund is a Historical Christian fiction at it's finest.  It's a fictional story of the first white woman to cross the Continental Divide.  Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen is my selection for the Classics Club spin.  I haven't read a lot of Austen's work, but I have a feeling this one may end up as my favourite!
What I'm Reading Now Persecuted by Paul Marshall, Lela Gilbert and Nina Shea looks at the countries around the world where Christians…

"Ascent of Women" by Sally Armstrong

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"Even if they come to kill me, I will tell them what they are trying to do is wrong, that education is our basic right." 
It is hard to believe that in the twenty first century these are the words of a teenage girl.  But they are, these are the words of Malala Yosafzai, a young Pakistani woman who was shot in the head for speaking out and fighting for the right of young women to get an education.   All around the world, young girls and women still lack the basic rights of freedom, education, and equality.  But like Malala, they know that the conflict, violence, and poverty will end when the oppression of women does, and they are fighting to put an end to it.
In Ascent of Women, Sally Armstrong introduces readers to the numerous women around the world who are ushering in the revolution that will change this world.  From Canada to Afghanistan, Kenya to Venezuela and throughout the rest of the world, women are standing up and leading the fight for equality.  
This book introduces …

"Harvest" by Jim Crace

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In an isolated English village, the inhabitants go to sleep, having finished their harvest and looking forward to a day of rest.  But what they awake to will turn their tiny community upside down.  
Two columns of smoke fill the air.  The first is from a fire that has destroyed the master's outbuildings.  The second is from a hastily built dwelling put up by newcomers on the edge of the village.  The two are connected and the newcomers have announced their arrival which sets off a course of events that change the village's way of life forever.
Harvest by Jim Crace is a dark, unsettling novel, a story that transports the reader to a simpler setting which unfortunately can't hide from the rest of the world forever.  Told from the perspective of Walter, an outsider who joined the community over a decade ago, the book paints the picture of an idyllic town built on hard work and communal sacrifice.
There isn't much information given about the village in terms of time, place, a…

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

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It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.
Today is the first day of March Break, a week off of school for everyone and hopefully a week of sleeping in for me!  The plans around here are skating, doctors appointments, visiting grandparents, and sleepovers with the cousins.  And of course, a lot of reading.
What I Read Last Week Eighty Days by Matthew Goodman Harvest by Jim Crace Ascent of Women by Sally Armstrong
What I'm Reading Now The Doctor's Lady by Jody Hedlund Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
What I Plan to Read Next Mount Pleasant by Don Gillmor Persecuted by Paul Marshall, Lela Gilbert, and Nina Shea
What are you reading this week?

"Eighty Days" by Matthew Goodman

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Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days set the imaginations of people running when it was published was in 1873.  At the time, world travel was opening up to everyone and one can only imagine the dreams this book inspired.  Many wondered if the fictional adventures of Phileas Fogg could actually be done.

And so in 1889 a young female reporter for the World newspaper named Nellie Bly set out to break Fogg's record.  She left New York on a steamship heading east, a nation following her every move in the newspaper.  But on the same day that Bly left, so did another young woman, this time on a train heading west.  Elizabeth Bisland was a young journalist for The Cosmopolitan magazine and they wanted to send their own person on this adventure, making it a race for the history books.

Eighty Days: Nelly Bly and Elizabeth Bisland's History-Making Race Around the World by Matthew Goodman is a fascinating book about the real life Around the World in Eight Days adventure.  Nel…

"Around the World in 80 Days" by Jules Verne

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Englishman Phileas Fogg is at the Reform Club, an English gentleman's club, when he becomes involved in a debate over a newspaper article claiming that in 1872 it has become possible to circumnavigate the world in 80 days.  On a whim, he accepts a wager with other members stating that if he can travel around the world in that amount of time, he will win £20,000 (todays equivalent roughly £1.3 million or $2 million Canadian.)  He hires a French valet named Jean Passepartout and they set off that very day.  
But hot on their trail is Mr Fix, a Scotland Yard detective who is convinced that Fogg is a bank robber and who needs to secure a warrant and capture him on British soil to bring him back to face punishment for the crime.  As Fogg and Passepartout travel the world they find themselves rescuing an Indian widow from a funeral pyre, being attacked by Sioux warriors, and travelling by steamer and train, even elephant and wind-powered sledge to make it back to London in time.
Around th…

DNF - "See Now Then" by Jamaica Kincaid

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I made a vow this year that I wasn't going to push through the books that weren't grabbing me and allow myself some DNF's.  The first of the year is See Now Then by Jamaica Kincaid.

I haven't read anything of hers before but have heard so many great things so I figured I would start with her latest book.  The blurb on Amazon says the book is a "piercing examination of the manifold ways in which the passing of time operates on the human consciousness unfolds gracefully, and Kincaid inhabits each of her characters—a mother, a father, and their two children, living in a small village in New England—as they move, in their own minds, between the present, the past, and the future: for, as she writes, 'the present will be now then and the past is now then and the future will be a now then.'"

The reason why I didn't like it?  I didn't like the writing style.  It is repetitive and it runs on.  Now, I get that there are a lot of people who like this st…

Month In Review

Well February came to an end rather quickly, didn't it?  It's still winter here in Canada and it's that time of the year when we all start to say "it can't last forever, can it?"

Reading-wise I feel I've done pretty well, though the month has been such a blur, I'm not sure if that's true.  I guess I'll find out now while I write this post.

Books read in February (with GoodReads ratings)

The Poisoned Pawn by Peggy Blair *****

Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne ****

The Other Side of Paradise by Staceyann Chin ****

The Scottish Banker of Surabaya by Ian Hamilton ****

The Dinner by Herman Koch ****

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park ****

The Road of Lost Innocence by Somaly Mam ****

What I Did on My Holidays by Chrissie Manby ****

The Air We Breathe by Christa Parrish ***

The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier ***

With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin ***

Songs of Deliverance by Marilynn Griffith **

Challenges
Historical Fiction Challenge - 1, Canad…