Showing posts from August, 2013

"Emancipation Day" by Wayne Grady

When Navy musician Jackson Lewis takes the stage, everyone goes crazy.  With good looks reminiscent of Frank Sinatra, Jack is a wanted man.  While stationed in St. John's Newfoundland during World War II, he meets Vivian Clift, a nineteen-year-old who has never set foot off the Rock but wants to see what Canada and the world has to offer.  
Jack and Vivian fall in love and marry, but it's against her family's wishes.  She can't figure out why but there is something about him they don't like.  When the war ends, Vivian and Jack return to his hometown of Windsor, Ontario to meet his family.  But upon meeting his mother and brother, Vivian realizes that she doesn't know her new husband as well as she thought she did.  His life is nothing like he described and Jack's family all look different from each other.  In fact, they look different from anyone she has ever met.  
Emancipation Day by Wayne Grady is a moving and touching novel that looks at how far a man w…

"A Constellation of Vital Phenomena" by Anthony Marra

In war-torn Chechnya, Akhmed finds his neighbour's eight-year-old daughter Havaa hiding in the snowy woods after the Feds kidnapped her father and burned down their house.  Knowing that the Feds will be looking for her and that it's unsafe for him to care for her, he takes her to the only place he can think of - the abandoned hospital where one doctor remains.
Sonja Andreyevana is barely keeping it together.  As the only doctor in the hospital, she spends most of her time amputating limbs.  When Akhmed arrives at the hospital with the young girl in tow, she protests that she cannot take her in.  But when Akhmed, a trained doctor, offers to help at the hospital in exchange for the girls safety, she cannot refuse.
Over the course of five days, Sonja, Akhmed, and others will discover how their lives have intersected over the course of a decade permeated by war and its repercussions.  A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra is an incredible novel that takes you inside…

Blog Tour: "Muse" by Mary Novik, Guest Post + Giveaway

Mary Novik's latest novel is Muse, released on August 13.  Muse is the story of the mysterious woman who was the inspiration behind Petrarch's sublime love poetry.   Today, Mary is stopping by my blog to discuss the setting of her book.

The UNESCO World Heritage City of Avignon, the Setting for Muse
By Mary Novik

Attractively situated on the southern Rhône in France, Avignon is a walled city with spectacular medieval sights. The historic centre has many charms to offer the tourist. Today Avignon is a UNESCO world heritage site, where tourists, not 14th-century clerics, throng the narrow, winding streets and visit the grand palace of the Avignon popes.

The towers of the palais des papes are visible for miles as you approach on the fast train, the TGV from Paris. You must enter the wall through one of the twelve gates where medieval travellers were likely to be greeted by a traitor’s rotting torso or severed leg to warn against committing treason. Today, the main artery running …

"The Stop: How the Fight for Good Food Transformed a Community and Inspired a Movement" by Nick Saul and Andrea Curtis

In 1998, Nick Saul became executive director of The Stop, a small food bank that like many others in Toronto was struggling to provide fresh, nutritious food for its clients.  When Saul took over he recognized that a lot of work needed to be done to turn it from a worn-down, last-hope place for many in search of a meal into a thriving community centre for people to not only get a nutritious meal but to learn about food, build skills, and become active participants in their food system.  And that is exactly what he did.  
The Stop is now an international leader in Community Food Centres.  It consists of community gardens, kitchens, a greenhouse, farmer's market, and a mission to change the food system for the better.  In his fourteen years at the centre, Nick Saul has become a leader of the food movement and an inspiration to countless others trying to make a difference in their communities.
The Stop: How the Fight for Good Food Transformed a Community and Inspired a Movement, by Nic…

Bout of Books 8.0

This will be the spot where I keep track of my progress, day by day, for Bout of Books.  The more I look ahead to my week, the worse it looks in terms of getting lots of reading done.  But that's okay.  My goal was just to make sure I get some reading done in the midst of a hectic week.

The Rest of the Week + Wrapup
And here is where my reading started to fall off.  I knew it would happen.  Between hosting a family barbecue and then heading out of town, I wasn't expecting much to happen.  I did finish Emancipation Day by Wayne Grady (a fantastic book) and got a start on About A Girl by Lindsay Kelk.  I can definitely say that if it weren't for the readathon I probably wouldn't have finished one book this week.  But I made sure that I set aside a little bit of time each day.  I also enjoyed the few challenges I managed to participate in.  I am definitely looking forward to the next Bout of Books happening in January, I will definitely have a lot of time to devote to tha…

"Cupcakes at Carrington's" by Alexandra Brown

Georgie Hart may have had a difficult upbringing, but now as an adult, she is making her own way.  Sure, life still isn't easy but she has a job she loves selling luxury handbags at Carrington's Department store in a seaside English town.  The bills are piling up but it's nothing a red velvet cupcake with buttercream icing in Carrington's café can't take her mind off of for a bit.
But like all retail companies, Carrington's is feeling the pinch of the recession and changes need to be made immediately.  Enter femme fatale Maxine, who is ready to make cuts wherever she can.  Pitting employee against employee, all while keeping a smile on her face and every hair in place, Maxine is set to turn Carrington's upside down.
While Georgie is prepared to do whatever she needs to in order to keep her job, she is not ready for what Maxine has in store for her.  Add to that the romantic feelings developing between her and her boss James, as well as the arrival of hot new …

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 has been a few weeks since I've done a post for this meme.  We took our family vacation so I've been away from home for the past few weeks, which would explain the lack of posts around here.  But now I'm home and with school looming it's back to routine.
What I Read While on Vacation

When I go on vacation, I like to take along British chick lit.  It makes for fantastic reading by the pool and on the beach.  And so I read Kate's Wedding by Chrissie Manby, Cupcakes at Carringtons by Alexandra Brown, Here Come the Girls by Milly Johnson, and Summer Daydreams by Carole Matthews.  I also read A Family Affair by ReShonda Tate Billingsley.  It's Urban Christian Fiction, and every year when I go on vacation, I take one of her books with me.
What I'm Reading Now Sabbath in the Suburbsby MaryAnn McKibben Dana is about a family's year-long goal of setting aside one day each w…

"Kate's Wedding" by Chrissie Manby

The eyes of the world were on England in April of 2011 when commoner Kate Middleton wed Prince William in a Royal fairytale.  But Wills and Kate weren't the only ones planning their wedding, though one suspects the planning process was a little different.
Thirty-nine-year-old Kate Williamson was getting used to the idea that she may never find her true love.  After her boyfriend Ian proposes to her atop the Eiffel Tower, she finds herself planning the wedding she didn't think she'd have.  But when life throws curves at her, she begins to wonder if her wedding will happen the way she wants it to, or even at all.
Diana Ashcroft was born on the day of the Royal wedding of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer.  Named after the famous Royal, she lived her life in true princess fashion.  Now that she is engaged to Ben and she has Daddy's credit card in hand, Diana has become a Bridezilla of epic proportions.  
As both women prepare for their big days, their paths cross again and ag…

Bout of Books 8.0

I've been sitting on the fence about whether or not to join the Bout of Books read-a-thon.  I love a good read-a-thon and I have always enjoyed this one but the timing isn't exactly great for me.  But as I thought about it a bit, I thought that's a good thing.  Amidst the craziness of getting ready for back to school and hosting a family barbecue, this will make sure that I get in some good reading.  So here goes:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 19th and runs through Sunday, August 25th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 8.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From …

Classics Club Spin

It is time for another Classics Club Spin!  If you're not familiar with The Classics Club, go here to find out about it and sign up (because once you read about it, you'll want to sign up.)  The premise of the spin is easy: pick 20 books from your list and number them.  A number will be randomly chosen and you will read the book that corresponds with that number.

Last time around, I failed miserably.  I don't think I even started the book (though in all fairness, I was in a serious reading slump.)  This time around I've picked 20 true classics that have been around for a while (instead of the more recent classics on my list.)  I won't mention which numbers I'm hoping are not picked!

Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher StoweThe Age of Innocence - Edith WhartonPamela - Samuel RobetsonNative Son - Richard WrightThe Ragged Trousered Philanthropists - Robert TressellHeart of Darkness - Joseph ConradThe War of the Worlds - H.G. WellsThe Time Machine - H.G. Wells…

"Menu Confidential" by Megan Ogilvie

We all know when we're hitting up the drive thru that what we're about to eat isn't the healthiest choice.  But do we know just how bad it really is for us?  Menu Confidential by Megan Ogilvie gives you everything you want to know and probably some of the things you don't want to know either.
It's difficult to know how many calories and how much sodium is in every bite we take.  Finding out the nutritional information of our take-out food can be a big job.  So it's great to find someone who has done all the research for us.  And it's even better to find someone who has done the research for Canadians, as Ogilvie has done in this book.  That's right, prepare to be shocked at how much sodium you're eating the next time you're at Timmie's.  
This book is perfect to read through then take with you wherever you go.   In addition to teaching the basics about nutrition, it covers the best and worst choices you can make at breakfast, lunch, dinner, sn…

"Studio Saint-Ex" by Ania Szado

The year is 1943, the world is at war and twenty-two-year-old Mignonne Lachapelle has left Montreal to make it as a fashion designer in New York City.  It is there that Mignonne falls in love with France's greatest living writer, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and is swept up in their affair.  But Antoine's estranged wife, Consuelo, has set out to win her husband back and when she enters into a business relationship with Mignonne a love triangle full of passion and artistic pursuits emerges.

Set against the back drop in which Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote his best selling book Le Petit Prince, Studio Saint-Ex by Ania Szado is a fictionalized account of his relationships, love, and the loneliness of art.  The backdrop of New York City during World War Two is spectacular, instantly drawing you back into the time and the world of the French expatriates who live there.
When I first read about this book, I knew I would pick it up as Szado is a Canadian writer but to be honest I wasn'…