Sunday, August 31, 2014

"Month In Review"

August was a pretty slow reading month for me.  I started the month by starting a few different books and finishing none of them.  They won't end up a DNF's for me, I will finish them soon but they just weren't what I needed to read at the time.  A mid-month Bout of Books did help get me reading and now I think I'm back on track.  You know how summer can be.  Now that school is starting, I'm sure I'll get much more read.

Here is what I read with GoodReads ratings in August:

Atlas Girl by Emily Wierenga *****
The Love Detective by Alexandra Potter *****
When I Fall in Love by Susan May Warren ****
OMG Baby! by Emma Garcia ****
Wait For It by Jesse McLean ****
Ice Creams at Carrington's by Alexandra Brown ****

Canadian Book Challenge (1), Diversity in Books (0), TBR Pile (0), Classics Club (0)

What I'm Looking Forward to in September

The announcement of the ScotiaBank Giller Prize long list on September 16th.  That will decide for me what I will be reading for the next two months!

Friday, August 29, 2014

"The Love Detective" by Alexandra Potter

Ruby Miller is a best-selling romance author who gave up on love after her fiancĂ© cheated on her.  Which would explain why she is suffering from a terrible bout of writer’s block.  When her editor tells her she should clear her head by going away on vacation, she takes the opportunity to go visit her sister in India.

Ruby is happy to see Amy and she enjoys the rest and relaxation a week at a yoga retreat in India can give you.  But when her sister informs her on the day they are supposed to head home to London that she is staying behind to marry Shine, a yoga instructor, Ruby’s bliss comes to an end.  

Soon, Ruby is on a chase across India, trying to track down her sister before she make a terrible mistake.  And with the help of a sexy American she meets on a train, she may actually find her before it’s too late.  But maybe, before she gets there, Ruby will discover that love isn’t something to run from but rather toward.

The Love Detective is the latest novel from Alexandra Potter, author of nine romantic comedies.  While I thought I had read one of her books before, it appears I haven’t so this is my first novel of hers and it definitely won’t be the last.  This is a breath-taking, gorgeous novel that is hard to put down.

If you have ever been to India, you will love the way Potter makes the country leap off of the pages.  If you have never been to India, you will feel as though you have been when you are finished reading this book.  This is what people mean when they say you can travel the world through books.  The scenes set at the Taj Mahal were especially spectacular.

I really enjoyed all of the characters in this book.  Ruby is fantastic, a romance writer who has given up on love is a great idea.  Even the American, who I thought I wasn’t going to like much at all turned out to be a wonderful character for most of the book.  Everything inside this book is as beautiful as the cover.

Oh how I wish I was along on this journey with Ruby.  This book will make you want to buy a ticket right away.  If you’re looking for romance, laughs, and gorgeous scenery, this is the book for you.  A five star read for me.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books Everyone Says I Must Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This one is hard for me.  People generally don't recommend books to me, probably because I'm always recommending books for them.  So I honestly couldn't pick ten books that people have been telling me I must read.  But there are two books that for the last year anyone I talk to about books asks if I have read and when I say no, they tell me I really should.  Those two books are:  

It always makes me laugh when people recommend these two books because as much as I like reading award winners, I don't really like reading very long books (reason being with so many other books I want to read I don't feel I have the time to devote to them.)  I did start The Luminaries but I couldn't finish it before I had to return it to the library.

What do you think?  Should I take everyone's advice and read these books or should I be okay with missing them?

Monday, August 18, 2014

"Wait For It: The Legen-dary Story of How I Met Your Mother" by Jesse McLean

Nine years ago Robin, Ted, Marshall, Lily, and Barney came onto our televisions and into our hearts.  We watched as the five best friends experienced highs and lows, love and heartbreak, success and failure.  We saw them get jobs, travel the world, buy homes, get married, have children, and we waited in anticipation of finding out how Ted met the mother.  

It’s safe to say that for many, How I Met Your Mother was more than just a television show.  And Jesse McLean is here to share all of that with you.  Wait For It is the ultimate companion book for fans of How I Met Your Mother.  Whether you are a new or old fan, you’ll lose yourself in the stories, gags, and behind the scenes sharing inside this book. 

McLean begins by introducing you to the people behind the show - the creators, writers, and actors.  After that he takes on the show season by season, discussing the overall themes and stories, the viewership numbers, and its place in television and popular culture.  He reviews the highlights, running gags, and catchphrases of each season and then moves on to discussing the best episodes of the season.  Each chapter is completed by looking at the candidates for Mrs. Moseby, famous guest stars, and reactions to the season.  

I absolutely enjoyed reading this book.  I began reading the book while binge-watching seasons 8 and 9 and each chapter made me want to go back and watch every season all over again.  For me this show was never really about finding out who the mother is, I just really enjoyed the five friends and all of their escapades.  Let’s admit it, Barney Stinson is one of the best characters ever written for television.  I also loved all of the Canadian jokes on the show and because Jesse McLean is Canadian, he included these in the book, explained them, and dispelled a few myths.

What do I wish this book had more of? Photos. The only photos that are included are head shots of the actors.  I would have loved photos of episodes, classic moments, and behind the scenes.  This would have greatly enhanced the book for me.

Thanks to Netflix, I’ll always be able to watch How I Met Your Mother.  And that’s a good thing because after reading this book there are quite a few episodes I want to go back and watch.  If you are a fan of the show you will definitely love this book.  I do recommend trying to get it in paperback as this kind of book tends to look better on the page rather than in e-book form (or at least that is my opinion.)

I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher through NetGalley.  The opinions expressed above are my own.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I'm Not Sure I Want to Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's list is Top Ten Books I'm Not Sure I Want to Read.  I've divided this list into two - the first half is books I have bought but I'm not sure I want to read and the second half is books I put on my Classics Club list and I'm not that amped to read anymore.

Books I've Bought
Who doesn't love a good bargain on books.  I can't resist the Buy 3 Get the 4th Free sale at Chapters Indigo especially on the bargain books.  Nor can I resist the bookshelves at the Goodwill down the street.  So that is how all of these books ended up on my shelf but I'm not sure I'm going to read them considering they've been on my shelf for a few years now (some, over a decade.)

Books on my Classics Club list
I joined the Classics Club so that I could achieve my goal of reading more classics and I chose 50 books off of the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list that I really wanted to read.  Only now that I'm faced with the knocking books off the list, there are a few there I kind of wish weren't on the list on anymore.

If you have read any of these and think I should, please convince me of it!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

"Reasons My Kid is Crying" by Greg Pembroke

It all started when Greg Pembroke posted a few pictures online of his son crying for what to adults seems like a completely trivial reason - he had broken his bit of cheese in half.  Parents around the world completely understood what was going on and soon Pembroke’s blog, Reasons My Son is Crying, became a pop culture success.

Now, Pembroke has turned that blog into a book titled Reasons My Kid is Crying.  The best submissions to his blog, each picture comes with one sentence explaining what made the child cry.  Some of my favourites include:

“I told him he didn’t need that band-aid anymore.” pg. 58

“Water got on his bathing suit.” pg. 150

“I wouldn’t let him play with the dead squirrel he found in the yard.” pg. 152

“We took her to see Santa.” pg. 181

“I have no idea why my son is crying.” pg. 192

This is a lovely book, one that you can quickly flip through.  Reading through it, I didn’t find it to be about poking fun at children or trivializing their problems, but rather a celebration of their innocence and how they view the world.  This is a great gift for parents of every stage and one I will definitely be sharing with all of the new parents I know.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

"Ice Creams at Carrington's" by Alexandra Brown

Ever since a reality television show put Carrington’s Department Store in Mulberry-on-Sea on the map, life has been incredible for Georgie Hart.  She is in her element working in the personal shopping department of the store, in addition to writing her own magazine column.  And oh yeah, she’s happily coupled up with Tom, aka Mr. Carrington, owner of the store.

But when Tom’s mother Isabella comes to town for a visit, everything goes crazy.  Georgie is convinced isabella hates her and in her bid to impress her, she finds herself roped into planning Mulberry-on-Sea’s Regatta.  And just when she finds herself deep in the planning, she is sent to New York on a whirlwind trip that may derail all of her hard work.  Add to that an aging father driving around Europe in an old van, a best friend who is stressed as a new mother, and a boyfriend who is growing increasingly distant, and Georgie isn’t sure if she’ll be able to pull anything off.

Ice Creams at Carrington’s is the third novel (though fourth instalment) in the Carrington’s series and is just as much as fun as the first two books.  Georgie Hart is a gorgeous character who is growing and maturing through each novel and her loveable friends and family are always enjoyable.  

This is such a lovely series.  I really enjoyed the first two books and I like how much material there is in all of the books.  There is never a lull in the fun, romance, or drama.  This novel is no different.  All of the beloved characters are back and there are some fresh new faces as well.  I really enjoy how all of the characters are developed as people, how characters like Eddie still get full stories even if they don't play out firsthand on the page.  

There is so much going on in this book and Brown doesn’t shy away from difficult topics.  I really appreciate how she touched on motherhood and postpartum depression with the character of Sam.  This, and other topics, make it so much more than a fun escape novel.

My only criticism of this book is the relationship between Georgie and Tom.  I feel as though we never really got to see how the relationship developed or why their relationship works so well because it was just all about the sex they were having.  Sure, that can drive the relationship but for the relationship to be as serious as it is now, there had to be more to it and I feel like that was missing from the book.  But other than that, I really can’t complain about this book!

I really hope that this isn’t the end of the Carrington’s series.  Georgie and all of her friends are characters that I want to visit again and again and again.  If you haven’t read any of this series, get started now.  And when you begin this one, make sure you have lots of ice cream stocked in the freezer!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday

This is my first time participating in Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  I've been reading many bloggers posts for this feature for a while, so I thought it was time I jumped in!  And so, here are The Top 10 Books I'd Give to Readers Who Have Never Read CanLit.  I'm such a big fan of CanLit, and I know a lot of readers outside of Canada may not be familiar with many of our talented writers.  And while there are many fantastic books written by Canadians but set outside of Canada, I've decided to focus on the books that take place in Canada and highlight our beautiful country.

1.  The Orenda by Joseph Boyden

The words I used to describe this book are "sweeping, powerful, epic, breathtaking." Following a young Iroquois girl, a Huron Warrior, and a Jesuit missionary, this book takes readers on an incredible journey into the history of our First Nations people.  Longlisted for the 2013 Giller Prize and shortlisted for the 2013 Governor General's Award, it won Canada Reads in 2014.

2.  Emancipation Day by Wayne Grady

Emancipation Day by Wayne Grady is a moving and touching novel that looks at how far a man would go to belong and how far his family would go to let him.  Against the backdrop of jazz music and the second World War, this is a novel about love, family, sacrifice, secrets, and race.  Longlisted for the 2013 Giller Prize and winner of the First Book Award, this book was my favourite of 2013.

3.  The Imposter Bride by Nancy Richler

A young woman arrives in post-war Montreal to marry a man she has never met.  But when Lily Azerov steps off the train, her fiancee takes one look at her and leaves.  Her would-be brother-in-law takes pity on her and marries her but it quickly becomes apparent to those around her that Lily isn't who she claims to be.  And when she disappears, leaving behind her husband and baby daughter, all of the questions surrounding her identity remain unanswered.  Shortlisted for the 2012 Giller Prize.

4.  Juliet in August/Cool Water by Dianne Warren

This book was released in Canada in 2010 as Cool Water and later in the United States as Juliet in August.  Welcome to the town of Juliet, Saskatchewan, population 1011. At first glimpse you would think that there isn't much to this dusty oasis. But a closer look at some of the inhabitants show that this town is full of life and that its people are its heartbeat. It is quick, engaging and heartwarming and is a great example of Canadian fiction.

5.  The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill

This book takes readers on an incredible journey from West Africa, to an American plantation, on to a small community in Nova Scotia, the coast of Sierra Leone in West Africa and finally to London, England. The journey belongs to fictional character Aminata Diallo but is that of the thousands of Africans forced into slavery.  Titled Someone Knows My Name in the US and Australia, soon to be a mini-series airing on CBC in Canada and BET in the United States.

6.  Touch by Alexi Zentner

This is a beautiful story of a pioneering family, the three generations that carved their place in the wilderness and the ways in which the wilderness remains forever imprinted on their lives. Monsters, witches and golden caribou roam the woods as the townspeople face love and death amidst the crippling cold of the logging town.  A 2011 Giller Prize nominee, the prefect words to describe this debut novel are evocative, stunning, haunting, and page-turner.

7.  More by Austin Clarke

More is a wonderfully written book that does not hold back on its criticism of the state of race and poverty in Canada. Austin Clarke challenges readers to see Toronto from a different perspective, what is often an invisible perspective to so many. Idora’s story is that of so many immigrant women to Toronto, who are striving to make their lives better for their children in a place where every opportunity should be given to them but isn’t.  Clarke portrays the city of Toronto beautifully. It is a character unto itself with its emotions, beauty and contradictions

8.  Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay

Late Nights on Air is an incredible story about life in the North, it's harshness and isolation, it's sense of community and beauty.   Characters lives play out against the backdrop of daily life in the Northwest Territories, as well as the Mackenzie Pipeline Project Inquiry. Relationships form, and complications arise. Love, loss, jealousy and trust all play out in this book. The book will peak your interest in the Canadian North and the beauty that it provides. Late Nights on Air was the winner of the Giller Prize in 2007.

9.  Kicking the Sky by Anthony De Sa

This 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 hardworking people who were struggling to attain their immigrant dreams but watching them slip away.  This is an incredible coming of age story set against a tragic backdrop.

10.  In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje

A fictional account of the lives of the immigrant men who physically built Toronto in the early 1900's but whose stories aren't told in the official history.  Weaving real-life stories into the story of the migrant men who built some of Toronto's biggest landmarks, this is an incredible novel.  First published in 1987, one of my favourite Canadian novels of all-time and one I'm reminded of every time I drive under the Bloor Street Viaduct.
What Canadian novels would you recommend to someone who hasn't read CanLit?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Guest Post by Annie Lyons, Author of "Not Quite Perfect"

I'm thrilled to be a part of the blog tour for Not Quite Perfect by Annie Lyons, the best-selling digital book and very first print title from Carina UK.  Today I would like to welcome Annie to the blog to discuss what she plans on reading this summer.
Summer Reading Heaven
I hate packing. I’m not alone here, am I? I mean going on holiday is brilliant, just brilliant. It’s an honour and a privilege and a much longed-for treat but packing? Eesh. I have a theory that packing is the thing that was invented to make you really appreciate the holiday. Okay, so it’s not a theory of Einsteinian levels but it’s all I’ve got. What can I say? I need a holiday.
When my children were babies, packing to go away was organised with the kind of precision that would make army generals applaud in admiration. There were lists and counter-lists, and sub-lists to those counter-lists. We packed enough chemicals to sterilise all the baby bottles in the world ever and half the hospitals in the land. We brought everything we needed and lots of things we didn’t need under ‘list A, counter-list b, sub-section iv’ entitled: Just In Case, which as all those parents out there know, is a pretty large sub-section.
Anyhoo, that was then and now my children are a bit older and the list has got a little smaller apart from the section headed ‘phone, iPod, iPad and laptop chargers’ which seems to require a whole suitcase of its own.
Packing woes aside, there is one part of the holiday preparations that I enjoy. I tend to save it for when everything else is done. I like to spend anything between half and a whole hour on this. No, it’s got nothing to do with hair removal. It is the moment when I get to choose my summer reading selection.
Ooh. I actually had a little tingle of excitement just typing those words, for it is a precious moment. There are only so many slots available. Careful consideration is vital. Once you choose, you are committed.
Obviously I always take too many books but by golly, I do enjoy selecting them. I also like to take a mixture of physical and digital books. Is there anything more divine than a sun-cream scented paperback? I don’t think so. Plus my eReader gives me lots of choice. Is there anything more decadent than lying in bed and buying a book to read straight away? Trust me, there is not.
So I thought I would share with you a selection of the books that I plan to read over the summer holidays.
  1. The Fault in our Stars by John Green. I know. I can’t believe I haven’t read it either but I have deliberately avoided reviews so that I can read it with fresh eyes. And a massive box of tissues.
  2. Us by David Nicholls. One Day made me want to become a writer. I have been waiting for this book for a very long time and now I have a proof copy, I am denying myself the pleasure of reading it until I’m actually on holiday. I’m mean like that.
  3. Me before You by Jojo Moyes. I am working my way through this brilliantly diverse author’s novels and I am told that this is the one I really have to read and that I’ll need tissues. I am looking forward to a weepy summer.
  4. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler. She is my favourite author and the one I return to when I need a guaranteed superb read. She’s never let me down yet.
  5. Dear Thing by Julie Cohen. I have been longing to read this because it sounds as if Julie writes the kind of books I love to read. And the best news is that she’s got a new book coming out soon so I may well have found a new author I love too. It’s like making a new friend…
This is by no means an exhaustive list but it’s a start and I think a pretty good one at that. All that remains is for me to wish you a fantastic summer before I head off to get the packing out of the way so that I can start on the really important task. 

Happy choosing and above all, happy reading!

Friday, August 1, 2014

"Chelsea Wives" by Anna-Lou Weatherley

Move over ladies who lunch, the Chelsea Wives are taking over.  

Imogen is a beautiful former model who cut her career short when she married her husband Sebastian, a wealthy banking CEO.  When a chance to get back into the modelling world comes her way she is hesitant but decides to give it a go.  Unfortunately, her husband feels threatened by this and uses his money and influence to make sure she doesn’t get the job.

Calvary is a former fashion editor, committed to her husband Douglas who unfortunately doesn’t seem to be as committed to her.  She has always turned a blind eye to his infidelity as divorcing him would mean giving up her social standing and the life she is accustomed to.  But when she discovers that his latest conquest is a little too close to home and then meets a handsome, young man who gives her what her husband won’t, she may just change her mind.

Yasmin has married a wealthy Lord much older than her and she knows that the label of gold digger follows her around.  No one is quite sure of Yasmin’s background and she is going to keep things that way.  She is hiding a dark secret, one that her husband holds the key to and she will do and say whatever she need to until she can find out all of the facts.

It may look like these women are living the high life but behind all of the glamour are women who are hurting.  But a Chelsea wife doesn’t back down and she certainly doesn’t let a man get the better of her.  When Imogen, Calvary, and Yasmin get together with a plan to take down their husbands, nothing will stop them.

Chelsea Wives by Anna-Lou Weatherley is a fun and fabulous book oozing with glamour and intrigue.  This book is the perfect reminder of the old adage “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

This book has it all.  It starts out as fun chick lit, taking you into a world of opulence and luxury.  Money is nothing for these people and for these women, it makes the world go round.  It is so much fun to dive into this world.  But this book goes much deeper than shopping and travelling.  Imogen, Calvary, and Yasmin show that there can be a dark side to all the glamour, and this is where things start to get really good.

The women hatch an incredible plan to get back at their husbands and they will go to any length to do it.  Do you love movies like Oceans 11 or The Italian Job?  Well all of that is right here.  You will be cheering for the women and turning the pages anxious to see if all will turn out right at the end.  

The entire time I was reading this book I was thinking that it would be a perfect movie.  Even though the book is almost 450 pages, it flies by because you never feel like putting it down.  This is one super sexy summer read.