Showing posts from January, 2014

Month In Review

January was a good month.  It was freezing cold outside most of the month so I guess I just stayed inside with some good books to keep me company.  Here is what I read (stars are my Goodreads rating)

Perfect - Rachel Joyce ****
Bonkers - Jennifer Saunders ****
When I Fall in Love - Miranda Dickinson ****
The Dancing Master - Julie Klassen ****
The Embassy of Cambodia - Zadie Smith ****
Prayers for Boys - Brooke McGlothlin ****
All the Broken Things - Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer ****
Candide - Voltaire ****
The Secret Keeper - Beverly Lewis ***


TBR Pile Challenge (2), Diversity on the Shelf (1), Classics Club (1), Canadian Book Challenge (1)

A Look Ahead

Here are a few of the books I'm looking forward to reading in February

"Bonkers: My Life in Laughs" by Jennifer Saunders

When I was in university (all those years ago) I discovered what would become one of my all-time favourite television shows.  It had everything I looked for in a show - wild characters, tons of laughs, and British accents.  That show was Absolutely Fabulous.  This led me to discover the fabulous French and Saunders and from there my love of British comedy television just exploded.  
A few years ago I read Dawn French’s autobiography Dear Fatty so I was thrilled when I heard that Jennifer Saunders would be publishing her own as well.  These are two of the funniest women I have ever seen on television so I knew that their books would be as well.
Bonkers: My Life in Laughs is the story of Jennifer’s life.  From her childhood on Royal Air Force bases to worldwide fame as an incredible comedienne she covers it all.  From her early school days when she met Dawn French, through her time with the Comic Strip and on to television and film success, she shares the ups and downs of being a female…

Waiting On Wednesday - February Release

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Here is the book that I am most looking forward to in February:
The Bear by Claire Cameron
A powerfully suspenseful story narrated by a young girl who must fend for herself and her little brother after a brutal bear attack.
While camping with her family on a remote island, five-year-old Anna awakes in the night to the sound of her mother screaming. A rogue black bear, 300 pounds of fury, is attacking the family's campsite, pouncing on her parents as prey.
At her dying mother's faint urging, Anna manages to get her brother into the family's canoe and paddle away. But when the canoe dumps the two children on the edge of the woods, and the sister and brother must battle hunger, the elements, and a dangerous wilderness, we see Anna's heartbreaking love for her family--and her struggle to be brave when nothing in her world seems safe anymore.
Told in the honest, raw voice of five-year-old Anna, this is a…

"When I Fall In Love" by Miranda Dickinson

Elsie Maynard is starting a new chapter in her life, something she never thought she’d have to do.  The ice cream shop assistant manager is ready to date again after the love of her life, her husband Lucas, was taken from her by cancer.  With her three sisters, her father, and her co-worker by her side, she thinks she is ready to try and love again.
With handsome graphic designer Olly Hogarth wanting to win her heart, it doesn’t seem like it will be so difficult.  But after accidentally starting a choir with 80’s rock star Woody Jensen, she finds herself taking on a challenge she never wanted to face - heading to Paris, the one thing she and Lucas had wanted to do together, but never got the chance.  Throw in the frustrating and annoying Torin Stewart who seems to pop up everywhere to get on her nerves, and Elsie is wondering if taking this step was worth it.  Will Elsie be able to move forward or will it be easier to stay in the past?
When I Fall in Love by Miranda Dickinson is a swe…

Sunday Headlines

A few stories that caught my eye this week:
*Beloved children's book author Robert Munsch opens up about his personal life.  It's nice to understand the man behind the books we all loved (and still love - I'm looking at you "I Have to Go!")
*It's a cold one out there this winter, so the Globe and Mail has some good winter reads to keep you warm.
*In an act of bookish awesomeness and all-around Canadian coolness, Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro had a Google Hangout.
*The book I'm looking forward to in February is Claire Cameron's The Bear and here is why.

Two Classic Novels - "Candide" and "The Great Gatsby"

Candide has been brought up in the home of a powerful Baron, given a life of privilege and learning under his wonderful tutor Pangloss.  But when it is discovered that he loves the Baron's daughter, he is removed from the household and forced to make his way in the world on his own.  He sets off on a journey that takes him around the world - through Europe, South America, and Asia - as a series of disastrous events befall him and his travelling companions.  Through all this, the optimism his tutor instilled him is put to the test.

I’ll admit, I chose Voltaire’s Candide because of it’s length.  When I think Classics, I think long books.  But this one comes in just under 100 pages.  And as I neared that mark I found myself wishing it would go on longer.  Who would have thought you could enjoy reading about misfortune!  Whether you are reading this book because you want the satire and the parody of optimism, or you just want to enjoy the adventure, Candide is an excellent choice of …

Sunday Headlines

A few stories that caught my eye this week:
*Another Toronto bookstore is closing.  Is this to be expected?
*Maybe we should do like the French and put some limits on online booksellers?
*It's been announced that the ending of the film Gone Girl will be different from the book.  Here are five other movies whose endings were different from the book.
*With the release of his new book Radiance of Tomorrow Ishmael Beah shares his most important writing influences.
*Apparently there is an algorithm that can predict the success of a book.  Hint - it's all in the verbs.

Favourite Reviews of the Week

This week I read quite a few reviews of books I want to read that weren't quite huge hits with the reviewers.  But there was one book that was released this week that made such an impression on me and has seemed to make the same impression on other readers.  Here is what people are saying about All The Broken Things by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer:

Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer powerfully combines enchantment, wonder, reality and melancholy in this beautiful spellbinding story of Bo and Bear. - Sukasa Reads

Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer is ringmaster and dancing bear, orchestrator and performer. All the Broken Things is enchanting and painfully real, truth dressed in a charade. - Buried in Print

This is a fantastic novel and if this is any indication of what CanLit has to offering 2014, it’s going to be a great year. - Me

"All the Broken Things" by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer

It is 1983 and fourteen-year-old Bo has arrived in Canada with his mother Thao and his four-year-old sister.  Bo and his family are refugees from Vietnam and his sister is nicknamed Orange for the severe and disfiguring effects she has received from being exposed to  Agent Orange in utero.  As they try to adjust to a new country, Thao keeps Orange hidden away while Bo spends his days getting into fights at school and on the street.
One day, while fighting a boy at school, Bo is approached by a carnival worker and bear trainer, Gerry.  Gerry wants to recruit Bo for the bear wrestling circuit and to do so, he gives Bo his own bear cub to train.  But Gerry’s boss Max has hopes of putting Orange in his travelling freak show and this doesn’t sit well with Bo.  When Bo awakes one morning to find that his mother has left with Orange and isn’t coming back, Bo and the cub are left to fend for themselves.
All the Broken Things by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer is an incredible story about love, acceptan…

Sunday Stories

A few of my favourite stories from the week
*The National Post released it's 25 most anticipated Canadian books of 2014.  So many good books on this list, it's going to be a great year for CanLit once again.
*American writer Gary Shteyngart slammed Canadian writers for not taking risks in an interview with  He says he was joking, but do Canadians believe him?
*Harper's Bazaar calls Season to Taste, Or How To Eat Your Husband by Natalie Young a must-read for 2014.  The title and subject is a little off-putting, and yet I'm curious.

Favourite Reviews of the Week

Very British Problems: Making Life Awkward For Ourselves, One Rainy Day at a Time by Rob Temple

From Book Addicted Blonde: In a nutshell:  This is basically the book version of the hilarious Twitter account of the same name.  I've been following it for a while, spent one glorious afternoon this autumn crying with laughter reading great chunks of the feed, and then sent it to my mum who did the same.  So when I saw the book, I couldn't not buy it!

I just finished reading Stats Canada and this book sounds very similar - compiled from a Twitter feed poking fun at its own people.  Considering Canadians have a lot of the same quirks as Brits, this book sounds like a lot of fun.

You Are One of Them by Elliott Holt

From S. Krishna's BooksThis book is certainly a short, quick read, but it’s one that will make you think. You Are One of Them has excellent settings, in terms of both time and place, and it’s fascinating to watch Holt fill out her surroundings. The book is a gorgeous …

"Stats Canada: Satire on a National Scale" from @stats_canada

67% of Canadians own summer snow pants.
79% of Canadian teens don’t want to wear their winter coat, it’s not even that cold out.
65% of Canadian Instagram accounts include an artsy photo of a Tim Hortons cup.
Canadians are an interesting, unique bunch.  One thing that makes us so loveable is our ability to laugh at every one of our quirks.  And @stats_canada has proven that.  Since July 2012, Stats Canada (not affiliated with the official Statistics Canada) has been providing daily doses of Canadian humour on everything from our history and culture to sports, entertainment, politics, and weather to over 235,000 followers. 
Now, their successful Twitter feed has been put into one great book, Stats Canada: Satire on a National Scale.  It comes complete with graphs, maps, and illustrations and is organized by topic.  While it’s most likely supposed to be enjoyed bit by bit, tweet by tweet, you’ll find yourself breezing through it, laughing at every page.
I think this book should be mand…

"Anchorboy" by Jay Onrait

Jay Onrait doesn’t know it, but he holds a special place in my heart.  It was February 2010 and the Olympics were taking place in Vancouver.  On the other side of the country, my 6 month old son had decided that 5 am was an appropriate time to wake up and I, being the night owl that I am, wasn’t too happy about it.  So after getting him settled, I would make coffee and find my spot on the couch, blurry eyed and not impressed.
But at 5 am, the only thing on television for people who don’t have cable was Olympic coverage from a city where it was hours earlier.  So basically it was a bunch of highlights of stuff I had already watched and some second-rate newscaster trying to fill the time.  And that second-rate newscaster was Jay Onrait.  For two weeks, he kept me entertained and had me laughing and took my mind off the fact that the sun wasn’t going to rise for another few hours.   In other words, he kept me sane.
I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure if Jay was actually funny or if I found him fu…

Bout of Books Updates

For this Bout of Books, I picked out 4 books that I wanted to read this week.  They are:

Monday Pages Read: 70, 54% Books Completed: 2 (The Embassy of Cambodia, Praying For Boys)
Tuesday Pages Read: 65 Books Completed: 0 Total Pages Read: 135, 54% Total Books Completed: 2
Wednesday Nada. Zip. Zilch.
Thursday Pages Read: 72 Books Completed: 0 Total Read: 209, 54% Total Completed: 2

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Bout of Books edition

It's Monday! What Are You Reading is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.
This week is the Bout of Books 9.0 read-a-thon.  It's a week long, low pressure readathon that is tons of fun and that I try to participate in every time it happens.  This is the perfect timing for me as this week is back to school and back to routine.  I had such a good holiday reading-wise so I want to continue that streak into the New Year.
What I Read Last Week All The Broken Things by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer Rebellious Heart by Jody Hedlund
What I'm Reading Now Praying for Boys by Brooke McGlothin
What I Plan to Read for the Read-a-thon The Embassy of Cambodia by Zadie Smith The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen When I Fall in Love by Miranda Dickinson
I think those books will be a good combination for a read-a-thon.  Nothing too long, books that will pull me in right away, authors I know I will like.
What are you reading this week?  Are you participating in Bout of Books?

"The Rovers Return" by Tim Randall

I am a huge fan of the British soap opera Coronation Street.  I never miss an episode, in fact I’m watching it as I write this.   For over fifty years this show has been on television, making it the longest-running soap in the world.  A few times a week, people all over the world tune into catch up with the happenings of this little street in Manchester.  
Over the years, many wonderful books have been written about this show and a new one takes a look at the very heart of the Street, the local pub.  In The Rovers Return, Tim Randall takes you inside everyone’s favourite public house and shares every memorable moment, from the first day to the present.  From the landladies and barmaids to the relationships and brawls, from the births and deaths to weddings and wakes, this book has it all covered.
The best feature of this book is all of the incredible photos.  No matter how long you have been watching this show, it will transport you back to your best memories of the show.  And if, li…

"Kicking the Sky" by Anthony De Sa

On a summer day in Toronto, 1977, a young shoe shine boy named Emanuel Jaques was lured away from his friends with the promise of making easy money.  Four days later, his body was discovered, Emanuel having been brutally raped and murdered.  It was the murder that changed Toronto the Good forever, and especially the city’s Portuguese community.
Antonio Rebelo was a twelve year old boy without a care in the world when this murder happened.  He spent his days on his bike exploring the laneways and streets of the city with his best friends Manny and Ricky.  But everything changed that summer and the boys discovered a deeper, grittier side to the city, an adult world of crime, secrets, cruelty, and danger.
Kicking the Sky by Anthony De Sa is a fictional work driven by the real life event of the murder of Emanuel Jaques.  It takes you back in time to when Toronto’s famed Yonge Street was surrounded by strip clubs, bars, and body rub parlours.  And it introduces you to a community full of h…

Two Upcoming Readathons

What better way to start of the year than with a readathon?  Here are two that I am signing up for.

The 2nd Annual Classics Club Readathon
Happening on January 4th, starting at 8am EST, this is a 24 hour readathon to help Classics Club members make progress on their lists.  I'm planning on using this readathon to read Native Son by Richard Wright.  
Bout of Books 9.0
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, January 6th and runs through Sunday, January 12th 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 9.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team.
I've been able to read so many …

First Book of the Year

First Book of the Year 2014 is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.
It's that time of year.  The first of January, when our yearly reading counts are turned back to 0 and the promise and excitement of new books is high.  This year, Sheila from Book Journey is asking us to share what our first book of the year is.  Here is mine:

September, 1983. Fourteen-year-old Bo, a boat person from Vietnam, lives in a small house in the Junction neighbourhood of Toronto with his mother, Thao, and his four-year-old sister, who was born severely disfigured from the effects of Agent Orange. Named Orange, she is the family secret; Thao keeps her hidden away, and when Bo's not at school or getting into fights on the street, he cares for her.
One day a carnival worker and bear trainer, Gerry, sees Bo in a streetfight, and recruits him for the bear wrestling circuit, eventually giving him his own cub to train. This opens up a new world for Bo--but then Gerry's boss, Max, begins pursuing Thao with a…

A Look Ahead at 2014

Happy New Year!!!
I trust that you all are recovering from the late night last night, whether you were out at a party or curled up at home with a good book ringing in the new year (like me!)  Today I'll be welcoming in 2014 at my in laws with some good Jamaican food, which I think is a great way to start the year.  Here's a look ahead at what I hope will be another excellent year in reading.
Challenges After last year, I probably should have realized that signing up for challenges isn't for me.  But there's something about signing up for them that I can't resist.  So this year, in addition to continuing the only challenge I ever complete (The Canadian Book Challenge), I'm signing up for 2 that I think will actually be achievable:
The Mount TBR Challenge hosted by Roof Beam Reader

For this challenge, you read 12 books that have been sitting on your shelf or TBR list for over a year. Any book published in 2012 and earlier counts.  I definitely need this challenge, …