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Showing posts from February, 2013

"The Other Side of Paradise" by Staceyann Chin

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Born early on the floor of her grandmother's house in Jamaica, Staceyann Chin's life started with a bang.  No one knew her mother was pregnant and Staceyann was so small, few expected her to survive.   She did survive, with the love and help of her grandmother, but life for Staceyann would be full of difficulties and heartbreak, a struggle to survive and find her authentic self.
The Other Side of Paradise is Staceyann Chin's memoir of growing up in Jamaica, moving from home to home, working hard to get by, discovering who she is, and coming out as a lesbian.  It's a moving portrayal of the lives you don't see while on vacation.
Shortly after she was born, Staceyann's mother left for Canada and while everyone knew who her father was, he wanted nothing to do with her.  Her grandmother tried her best to raise Staceyann and her brother, but after only a few years they were separated from each other.  Staceyann went from home to home, staying with family, friends of t…

"The Poisoned Pawn" by Peggy Blair

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While investigating the murder of a young boy, Cuban Inspector Ricardo Ramirez uncovered shocking secrets about the dissemination of child pornography through the internet and the years of abuse of young children at the hands of people running orphanages throughout the country.  Now, he is about to discover just how widespread it really is.  
Inspector Ramirez has been dispatched to Canada to pick up and bring home a Cuban priest who has been found in possession of child pornography depicting Cuban children.  But what seems to be a straightforward job turns into much more.  The wife of Mike Ellis, a Canadian detective who Ramirez had arrested in Cuba on suspicion of murder, has dropped dead on her flight from Cuba to Canada.  Mike is thought to be the culprit, but when a Canadian tourist and a Cuban national die in Cuba under similar circumstances, things aren't so clear.  Ramirez finds himself caught up in the search for a suspect that spans two countries.
The Poisoned Pawn, by Peg…

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.
I don't know what is up with me this year but I was sick again last week.  This better be the last time this winter!  Unfortunately this time it didn't translate into a whole lot of reading, just more sleeping (which is not a bad thing.)  Let's see how my reading is doing:
What I Read Last Week: You can check out my review of Songs of Deliverance by Marilynn Griffith here.  The Other Side of Paradise by Staceyann Chin is a well-written, heartbreaking memoir about growing up without her parents and struggling to get by in Jamaica.  The Poisoned Pawn by Peggy Blair is a fast-paced mystery novel set in Cuba and Canada and is the sequel to The Beggar's Opera.
What I'm Reading Now: Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
What I Plan to Read Next: Eighty Days by Matthew Goodman is the real life story of two women who tried to repeat the fictional journey in Around the World in Eig…

"The Scottish Banker of Surabaya" by Ian Hamilton

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Ava Lee is spending her summer recovering from her last investigation at a cottage north of Toronto.  She has no foreseeable plans to work, but when her mother introduces to her a woman whose family lost millions in a Ponzi scheme, she agrees to take on the easy case.  However, this case is anything but easy.  
Ava soon finds herself investigating an Indonesian bank run by a Scot.  After a troubling run with the Scot, she discovers that the bank is in reality a front for a money-laundering operation run by Italian mobsters.  Will Ava be able to successfully return the money to it's rightful owners or is she finally in over her head?
The Scottish Banker of Surabaya by Ian Hamilton is the fifth instalment in the Ava Lee series, but the first one I have read.  I must say, I'm hooked on this series.  It's not necessary to start at the beginning in the series and I imagine all of the books would stand alone no matter which order you read them in.  But I imagine you'll find it…

"A Long Walk to Water" by Linda Sue Park

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In 1985, Salva is a young boy growing up in Sudan, helping his family at home and attending school.  But one day his village is attacked while he is at school and he escapes into the forest with a bunch of strangers.  His country is in the midst of a civil war and he is about to become one of the famous "lost boys," young men who walked across countries to find safety.
In 2008, Nya is a young girl growing up in Sudan who spends her days getting water from a pond that is over two hours from her home.  She does this twice a day to help provide for her family.  Education is just a dream for Nya, there are more pressing needs at home.
Their lives collide in present day Sudan, when Salva's survival story provides him with an opportunity to make a better way for his country and Nya's life changes forever because of it.
A Long Walk to Water is a novel by Newberry Medal winner Linda Sue Park that documents that real life story of Salva, a young man forced to flee his village an…

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 Family Day in Ontario, which means a day off of work and school and everyone home together.  I have been trying to convince my 6 year old that it's called Clean Your Room Day in which everyone gets the day off of work and school to clean their rooms, but she doesn't seem to be buying it.
What I Read Last Week:
Last week was a good reading week for me.  I definitely made up for reading only one book the week before!  A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park is the story of a young man in Sudan who became one of the Lost Boys during the civl war.  The Scottish Banker of Surabaya by Ian Hamilton is a mystery thriller involving an Indonesian bank fronted by a Scottish banker but run by an Italian organized crime unit.  The Air We Breatheby Christa Parrish is about a young girl whose anxiety keeps her stuck in her home and hides a deep secret.  The Dinner by Herman Koch is about two cou…

"The Dinner" by Herman Koch

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In a restaurant in the Netherlands, two couples meet for dinner.  What appears to be an innocent meeting between friends has deep and dark undertones.  The men are brothers, one a prominent politician in the running to be the next Prime Minister, the other a former teacher.  The couples have gathered to discuss an incident involving their teenage sons.  The boys are in trouble and the couples have very different ideas of how to handle the fallout.  The Dinner by Herman Koch is a suspenseful novel about human behaviour and the lengths to which people will go to protect their families.  
This is a novel of which I need to say very little for the purpose of not ruining what is an incredible reading experience.  The story of the trouble the boys are in and what each parent chooses to do about it unfolds over the course of the evening.  As the two couples sit down to dinner, the character of Paul shares the story, bit by bit, painting the picture of how they all got to this point and buildi…

TIFF presents Books on Film

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TIFF is pleased to announce the third season of its Books on Film series, a popular subscription series that brings together book and film lovers to immerse themselves in the world of book-to-screen adaptation.  Hosted by Eleanor Wachtel of CBC's Writers and Company, and presented in association with Random House of Canada,the series gather filmmakers, authors, and experts to discuss the art of adapting a book to screen.  All events take place at the TIFF Bell Lightbox stage in Toronto.
The series includes:
New Yorker theatre critic and acclaimed author Hilton Als on The Innocents, the 1961 adaptation of The Turn of the Screw by Henry James  (February 11)
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Russo on Robert Benton's adaptation of his acclaimed novel Nobody's Fool (March 4)
Film and music producer Lisa Cortés on adapting the novel Push by Sapphire into the award-winning film Precious (April 8)
Award-winning screenwriter and playwright Christopher Hampton on his adaptation of At…

"The Last Runaway" by Tracy Chevalier

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After her fiancé leaves her and the Quaker community for another woman, Honor Bright makes an impulsive decision to leave England behind and travel to America with her sister who is due to be married.   But when she arrives in the new land, tragedy strikes and Honor finds herself all alone, forced to rely on the kindness of strangers.  
Her new life is difficult and daunting, and very quickly she discovers that she is in the midst of a movement that will change the face of America.  The town in Ohio that Honor has made her home is a stop on the Underground Railroad and Honor is quickly drawn into its activities.  But her new family makes it clear to her that she should have no part in it.   Honor is torn between the wishes of her new family and her Quaker principles that she holds so dear.  Will she listen to her family, or will she follow her heart no matter what the costs?
The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier is a historical fiction novel that takes on an important part of American his…

Classics Club Spin

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Back in September I signed up to join The Classics Club.  This involves reading 50 pre-chosen by me Classic books in the next five years.  So far, I'm doing well, I've already read five.  And now it's time to check another one off the list.
It is time for the Classics Spin.  I choose 20 books from my list and on Monday, February 18, the great people at the Club will post a number between 1 and 20.  I then read whichever book on my list falls under that number by the end of March.  Sounds easy right?  Guess it depends on which book it lands on.   The challenge is to choose books from specific categories.  So here's my Spin List.
Five books I am dreading/hesitant to read 1. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo 2. Candide - Voltaire 3. Pamela - Samuel Robertson 4. Everything is Illuminated - Jonathan Safran Foer 5. The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
Five books I can't wait to read 6. White Teeth - Zadie Smith 7. Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe 8. The Time Machine - H.…

"The Road of Lost Innocence" by Somaly Mam

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Between 1975 and 1979, Cambodia was ruled by the Khmer Rouge party, led by Pol Pot.  The Khmer Rouge is now known mainly for its policies that resulted in widespread famine, disease, and genocide.  Two million people were forced out of the cities and into the countryside to work in the agricultural sector.  Citizens were controlled in every aspect of their lives.  Intellectuals and minorities were killed in high numbers.  Children were separated from their parents, indoctrinated, and taught to fight.  Anyone considered an enemy was arrested, tortured and executed.  Various investigations put the death toll of the Khmer Rouge era anywhere between 1.7 million and 3 million people.  Its four years of power has left a legacy of poverty and violence that still permeates life in Cambodia today.
A few years before the Khmer Rouge came to power, Somaly Mam was born into a minority family living deep in the Cambodian forest.  Orphaned at a young age, she was taken in by a man whom she called gr…

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.
Last week was a very interesting one here.  Friday was a snow day as we got hit by a storm that left us with 26cm of snow in less than a day.  The entire family was home and while I had hoped to spend the day reading, I instead spent it watching movies and playing video games with the kids.  And watching snowplows get stuck in the snow.  So of course, once the storm stopped we spent a lot of time outside sledding and playing.
On Saturday, I had the great fortune of attending Random House of Canada's Blogger Love event.  It was a great get together of a group of book bloggers complete with food, great books and lively discussion.  The event was graced with the presence of author Andrew Kaufman who spoke about and signed copies of his latest book Born Weird.  He also shared with us what he's working on now and it sounds amazing.  It was a fantastic day so a big shout out to the ladies of the…

"What I Did On My Holidays" by Chrissie Manby

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Working in public relations for an elevator company isn't the most glamorous job.  That's why Sophie Sturgeon can't wait for her holiday.  She has planned a two week trip to Majorca with her boyfriend Callum, who also happens to be the hottest guy at her office.  She has spent months preparing for this trip and nothing is going to ruin it.  Well, there's one thing that could ruin it…
The night before the trip Callum calls Sophie to tell her that the relationship is over and he won't be going on holiday with her.   Devastated and desperate to change his mind, Sophie says she is going to go to Majorca on her own.  But in reality, Sophie is hiding in her flat in London.  The plan seems like a great idea until her friends, family and Callum delight in the fact that Sophie is brave enough to go on vacation on her own.  And so, Sophie must recreate the ultimate fake holiday, all from the comfort of her own home.
The plan is working great and Sophie can't believe she is…

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.
Last week, we had a little problem with our new internet connection and it involved us going for 2.5 days without any internet.  I managed to hold up pretty well, it gave me a lot more time to read.  My husband didn't do so well though ;)  We're definitely glad to have it back though, just in time for a new week of blogging!
What I Read Last Week
What I Did On My Holidays by Chrissie Manby is a fun chick lit novel.  I think Manby may be one of new favourite chick lit authors.  With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin is a Christian fiction novel set in WWII.  The Road of Lost Innocence by Somaly Mam is the true story of a young woman sold into prostitution in Cambodia and the efforts she is making to save others from it.  
What I'm Reading Now The Air We Breathe by Christa Parrish is a Christian fiction novel about a teenage girl who suffers from anxiety and can't leave her home.  The Last …