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Showing posts from January, 2015

Month in Review - Non-Bookish Things

One of the things I wanted to start doing on my blog this year is talk more about other forms of entertainment, mostly what I’m watching on TV and at the movies, as well as what I’m listening to whether music or podcasts.  I figure the best way to do this is a recap at the end of each month, so here it goes.
Television
I don’t watch much “traditional” television. I watch a lot of British shows which I have to watch either online or through Netflix.  I also binge-watch most of my television.  Here are the show I’ve been watching this month:
Coronation Street: Ok so I always watch this one, it is my show. I’ve been watching for over a decade now and am heavily invested in the Street for the rest of my life. So can we talk about how superb the minivan crash scenes were?  The acting was fantastic and so was the filming.  But most importantly, the show won’t be the same without Deirdre Barlow, played by Anne Kirkbride who passed away this month.
Backchat with Jack Whitehall and His Dad: I lo…

"And the Bride Wore Prada" by Katie Oliver

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Who Should Read This:Anyone looking for a book with a modern day Jane Austen feel, Chick Lit fans.

It’s been a rocky road for rock star and aristocratic heir Dominic Heath and his girlfriend Gemma but their time has finally arrived - it is their wedding.  Wanting to have their day to themselves, they escape to the Scottish Highlands where they will (hopefully) be out of the eyes of the paparazzi.
But the weather may put a wrench in their plans.  When a major storm prevents them from getting to their home, they end up at Draemer Castle, with Dom's ex-girlfriend Natalie and her new husband Rhys.  At first, they think they are just staying for a few days with the owners of the castle, Natalie’s friend Tarquin and his wife Wren.  When more snow brings more family members, including Tarquin’s troubled young sister Caitlin, it quickly becomes a case of “the more, the merrier.”  But the arrival of a stranger named Helen may really ruin Dom and Gemma’s plans for a secret wedding.
And The B…

"The Devil You Know" by Elisabeth de Mariaffi

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Who Should Read This:Mystery/Thriller fans, anyone who enjoyed The Silent Wife, Before I Go To Sleep, The Girl on the Train, etc.
The year is 1993 and the city of Toronto and surrounding areas are haunted by the disappearance and murders of two young girls.  Evie Jones is the rookie reporter assigned to cover the story, staking out the crime scene and digging around in the past to look at over a decades worth of missing girls.
But all of this brings back the haunting memories of when Evie was eleven years old and her best friend Lianne Gagnon was kidnapped and murdered.  Though the police knew who did it, a man named Robert Cameron, he was never found and arrested.  
As her work takes her into a troubling world, she decides to find out what really happened to Lianne.  But her queries make her mind race toward unimaginable places.  And when she catches a man standing outside her home, watching her through the window, she becomes convinced that not only is Robert Cameron still out there…

Author Interview: Katie Oliver

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Last year I entered and won a contest in which the prizes were tons of goodies (London Barbie!) from Katie Oliver and a copy of her most recent book, Mansfield Lark. The premise was so good, I got the rest of the series (Prada and Prejudice and Love and Liability) and devoured the books.  Now, Katie is about to release the next books in the series, And the Bride Wore Prada and Love, Lies and Louboutins.  I am very excited that she is stopping by the blog today.

What books influenced you? 
The books I read as a child probably had the biggest influence on me. I devoured A Little Princess and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, raced through the Chronicles of Narnia series, and of course I read all of the Nancy Drew mysteries.  I went through a mystery-loving phase in grade school that extended into high school, when I read every Agatha Christie novel I could get my hands on. My favorites featured Tommy and Tuppence Beresford, a pair of detectives who fall in love while chasing…

"The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shallow Year" by Andy Cohen

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Who Should Read This:Fans of the Real Housewives and other Bravo shows.

As Executive Producer of the Real Housewives franchises and host of the successful television show Watch What Happens Live, Andy Cohen has the front row seat and backstage pass to all things pop culture.  And now he’s bringing everyone along for the ride.

In The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shallow Life, Andy shares the detailed diary he kept of one year in his life, inspired by The Warhol Diaries.  Readers follow along as he parties, flirts, and dates his way through life.  He shares behind the scenes drama, trying out Tinder, and finding true love in his dog Wacha.  Readers get to know his family and dear friends, his doorman, and the city of New York.  And if you’re into celebrity gossip, he has a ton for you.

This book can definitely be described as a who’s who of pop culture in 2014.  Lady Gaga, the Housewives, Jimmy Fallon, Kardashians, Anderson Cooper, they are all in here plus many, many more.  It see…

"The Jaguar's Children" by John Vaillant

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Who Should Read This:Anyone interested in stories of different cultures and those who follow current events.
A water truck, stranded in the American desert.  It is sealed from the outside to hide its secret.
Inside the truck is human cargo, people who have left their lives behind in Mexico, hoping to make it across the border to America safely.  But the truck has broken down and the coyotes have stolen all of their money and the people are left to die.
Among these people are Hector and his friend César.  César has the only phone that can make calls out but the signal is low and César now lies unconscious.  Hector finds one American number in the phone, a woman named AnniMac, and he knows that their survival depends on his ability to reach her.  
For the next four days, Hector records messages to AnniMac, telling her about his home and life in Oaxaca, the story of his family and heritage, and how he came to be in the water truck.  Through it all, he shares the ties between Mexico and A…

Author Interview: Peggy Blair

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For my first Author Interview, I'm pleased to introduce you to Peggy Blair.  Peggy is a Canadian author of the Inspector Ramirez series, which includes The Beggar's Opera and The Poisoned Pawn. The third instalment,  Hungry Ghosts, will be released in June.

I was very fortunate to meet Peggy a few years ago at the Word on the Street Festival and she is an absolutely lovely person who is always well connected to her readers.  Be sure to follow her on Twitter @peggy_blair.

Peggy has a great story about how she got her first book deal and I'm so happy she is sharing it here with my readers and answering a few other questions.  Enjoy!

What was the process of getting a book deal like for you?

Well, a lot of what happened around The Beggar’s Opera involved sheer luck. Not to mention timing. But also persistence. Honestly,  after 156 rejections by agents, I was ready to trunk the entire manuscript. My friends thought I’d lost my mind and that I should give up and get back to a rea…

"Laughing All the Way to the Mosque" by Zarqa Nawaz

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Who Should Read This:Anyone who grew up with immigrant parents, or anyone just looking for a book that will make them laugh out loud.

Born in England and raised in Canada by Pakistani parents, Zarqa Nawaz has always lived in two very different cultures at the same time.  Navigating a more liberal culture while staying true to her parents conservative culture made for some very interesting experiences to say the least.  It seems that the best way to remain sane in this sort of situation is to look at it all with humour. And that is exactly what Zarqa has done.
In 2007, Zarqa brought to Canadian television a hilarious, momentous television show called Little Mosque on the Prairie.  Set in Saskatchewan, the show was a comical look at the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims in a small town.  And it was hilarious.  Now, the hilarity continues in her fabulous memoir Laughing All the Way to the Mosque.
From being a young girl trying to convince her mother she should take peanut butt…

Top Ten Tuesday: 2014 Releases I Meant to Read

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
At the beginning of every year, I make a list of all the books that are being released that year that I want to read. Now, if I stuck to only that list then I would have no trouble checking every book off.  But throughout the year I see other people reading other books that I want to read and I am never able to read everything on my list.  Here are some of the books from last year that I meant to read, but didn't get around to:
1. A Place to Call Home - Carole Matthews 2. What a Girl Wants - Lindsey Kelk 3. The Woman Who Stole My Life - Marian Keyes 4. The Book of Unknown Americans - Cristina Henriquez 5. Frog Music - Emma Donoghue 6. The Accident - Chris Pavone 7. Landline - Rainbow Rowell
What books did you want to read in 2014 but didn't get around to?

"Cover Before Striking" by Priscila Uppal

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Who Should Read This:Besides the obvious short-story lovers, readers who enjoy stories that are a little off-beat.

One of the most common phrases in print is “cover before striking,” a warning to those about to innocently strike a match to be careful not to burn their fingers.

In Priscila Uppal’s brand new short story collection, Cover Before Striking, all of her characters are playing with fire.  These are characters who are testing the limits of both themselves and the world around them.  From an immigrant Portuguese family living in Toronto to the feet of a woman who sleepwalks to a man who loves cats, the characters and their stories are different, eccentric, and intense but poignant and touching at the same time.

Whenever I review short story collections I mention how I have a hard time with them because I almost always feel a little unsatisfied at the end of the stories.  I promise this will be the last time I mention that.  Though I do now because as I began to read this collectio…

"Brown Girl Dreaming" by Jacqueline Woodson

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Who Should Read It: Everyone.
Raised in both South Carolina and New York, Jacqueline Woodson grew up feeling like each place was both home and not quite home at the same time.  Living in both the South and the North in the 1960’s and 1970’s Civil Rights era, it seemed as though she lived two different lives. 
In Brown Girl Dreaming, the National Book Award winner shares the moving story of her childhood, what life was like for an African American girl growing up in the Civil Rights movement in both two very different places.  
But this book is much more than your standard memoir.  Woodson writes in a beautiful and touching manner, sharing her childhood through incredible free verse.  The book originally is aimed at a middle grade audience but it will move and touch readers of every age.  
Jacqueline was born in Ohio but at a young age moved with her siblings to live in her mother’s hometown in South Carolina.  As a young teenager she then moved again with her siblings to live with the…

"Top Ten Tuesday: Anticipated Debuts of 2015"

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
This week is about the debut novels we are looking forward to in 2015.  As I looked over my list of books I want to read this year, I noticed that not a lot of them are debut novels.  I think this happens to me every year, I generally don’t discover debut novels until I see other bloggers talking about them.  But there are four on my list that I know I want to read this year.
Etta and Otto and Russell and James - Emma Hooper (January) The Devil You Know - Elisabeth De Mariaffi (January) Written in the Stars - Aisha Saeed (March) Girl at War - Sara Novice (May)

"The Girl on the Train" by Paula Hawkins

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Who Should Read It: Mystery fans and anyone who wants to read the books everyone is talking about in 2015.
Each day, Rachel Watson takes the same train to work in London and back.  Sitting in the same seat each day, she watches as lovely suburban homes flash past, thinking about the people who live inside them.  As the train stops at the same signal each day, she watches a couple in their home, living what she imagines is the perfect life.  Rachel gives them a story, even gives them names - Jason and Jess - and these little moments take her mind off the fact that she used to be just like them.
One morning, the train stops at the signal and Rachel sees something that shocks her.  The next day, she learns on the news that Jess, real name Megan, is missing.  Convinced she may know what happened to Megan, Rachel goes to the police, but she isn’t what would be considered a reliable witness.  Convinced she can find Megan, she becomes a part of the lives of everyone involved, including Jess’…

"Saint Monkey" by Jacinda Townsend

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Best friends Audrey and Caroline are fourteen-year-old girls growing up in a small town in Kentucky.  Audrey knows that she’ll never get out of the town, so she devotes herself to playing the piano at church. Caroline has dreams beyond the town, dreams of Hollywood stardom.  
But then a chance encounter gives Audrey a way out of town.  Before she knows it, she’s in New York City, a part of the increasingly popular jazz scene and playing on stage at the Apollo.  And now it’s Caroline who needs to accept that she is destined to stay in her backwards little town.
Though the two women grow apart, they forever remain linked through their childhood, their town, and their shared experiences.  And when Caroline finds her way out of the town, and Audrey finds her star fading fast, their paths will cross once again.
Saint Monkey, by Jacinda Townsend, is beautiful coming-of-age story, a first novel about growing up in the segregated South and chasing dreams in Jazz Era New York.  
This is an amb…

A Look Ahead at 2015

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Welcome to 2015! A new year, a new me? Not quite, I’m very happy with the me I am now, so maybe just a bit more - more yoga, more sleep, more laughs, more joy.
I’ll be welcoming in 2015 at home today, binge-watching television as I’ve been doing all holidays.  So far I’ve watched Happy Valley, Trollied, The Wrong Mans, The Honourable Woman, and Project Runway All-Stars. Not sure yet what to watch today but I’ve got a huge Netflix queue so I’ve got a lot to choose from.  
Now for a look ahead at another year of blogging.  And oh yeah, 2015 marks 5 years of blogging for me, so WOOHOO!
CHALLENGES Ok, after 5 years I’ve realized that challenges are just not for me.  I start out with great intentions but soon realize that what I want to read isn’t quite matching up with what I need to read for my challenges.  So this year I’m cutting down to 2 challenges and it’s not so much about trying to get me to read outside my comfort zone, it’s about staying inside it and sharing the books I love wi…