Sunday, June 29

Book Review: Ethan Frome

Title: Etahn Frome

Author: Edith Wharton

Pages: 103

Summary: Ethan Frome works his unproductive farm and struggles to maintain a bearable existence with his difficult, suspicious and hypochondriac wife, Zeena. But when Zeena's vivacious cousin enters their household as a 'hired girl', Ethan finds himself obsessed with her and with the possibilities for happiness she comes to represent. In one of American fiction's finest and most intense narratives, Edith Wharton moves this ill- starred trio towards their tragic destinies

My Rating: 6.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The writing was stunning, it pulled me into the book, made me want to keep reading, even if the story was one that had similarities to other stories out there, of the ill-fated lovers who are desperate at finding a way to be together.

Although the book wasn't the most original, it wasn't the biggest issue I had with the book. What I disliked the most where the characters. Zeena was a character I disliked, a lot. Both Matt and Ethan weren't very likeable either. And I found that none of the single characters had any depth or development to them. They were very, static and even though part of this was part of the story, it didn't work for me.

Overall, a wonderfully written book, but a less than satisfactory story.

Would I recommend it to read: I'm not sure if I would or not. If you haven't read the author and are unsure about her, this may be a good place to start but the story isn't exactly the most original one out there.

What to read next: This one, I'm not sure on. I'd say read more by the author if you enjoyed the writing.

Challenges: 100 Book Challenge, 2014 Category Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

Book Review: The 100-year-old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

Title: The 100-year-old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

Author: Jonas Jonasson

Pages: EBook 299

Summary: After a long and eventful life, Allan Karlsson ends up in a nursing home, believing it to be his last stop. The only problem is that he’s still in good health, and one day, he turns 100. A big celebration is in the works, but Allan really isn’t interested (and he’d like a bit more control over his alcohol consumption). So he decides to escape. He climbs out the window in his slippers and embarks on a hilarious and entirely unexpected journey.

It would be the adventure of a lifetime for anyone else, but Allan has a larger-than-life backstory: Not only has he witnessed some of the most important events of the twentieth century, he has actually played a key role in them. Quirky and utterly unique, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared has charmed readers across the world.

My Rating: 7.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I did find this to be a little over-the-top at times, and by the end, the humour and quirks found within the story, lost the initial appeal it had in the beginning, but it was still a fun book, and one that made me laugh out loud.

The book was well written, although I did find a few times certain phrases and words didn't exactly go well together, and I have to wonder if it's because the book has been translated. Most of the time, everything flowed together, but there were a few times I noticed that some things just didn't connect during the narrative.

At times, the story was hilarious. Absurdly, hilarious, but it made for a fun and enjoyable read. This isn't a book where logic makes much sense, from murder, to elephants and other random events that you'd never expect in a book about a 100-year-old man, it created a very different reading experience.

The characters were well done, very shaped out and all a bit quirky. The 100-year old man was a memorable character, and I think the author did a good job with him. I can't say I have a favourite character, but I do think together, the characters were what made the book as enjoyable as it was.

The only issue I had with the book, was that the humour and the quirks began to get old by the end. After a while, it lost the original amusement the book brought me. It was still a good read, but after a while, I wanted the book to move forward, and it didn't go as fast as I would have liked. The ending was well done, and definitely a book I'd recommend, but it did drag out in the end.

Overall, I found it to be a very amusing book, and one well worth reading.

Would I recommend it to read: I would. It's a bit over-the-top, but it was a fun read, and if you are looking for something, that is a quick, quirky and fun read, this is it.

What to read next: I'm not sure on this one. I enjoyed Dopler a lot. And many readers find Terry Fallis' books humours, so you may want to start there.

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 2014 Category Challenge, Alphabet Challenge, EBook Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge, New Author Challenge

Book Review: The Death of Bees

Title: The Death of Bees

Author: Lisa O'Donnell

Pages: 295

Summary: Marnie and her little sister Nelly have always been different. Marnie leads a life of smoking, drinking and drugs; Nelly enjoys playing the violin, eating cornflakes with Coke and reading Harry Potter. But on Christmas Eve, the sisters have to join forces and put their differences aside. And when Lennie, the old guy next door, starts to get suspicious, it's only a matter of time before their terrible secret is discovered.

My Rating: 7.25/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The book wasn't what I expected it to be, but it was a fairly good read in the end. It's very harsh and raw at times, but incredibly well written, especially considering the topic of the book. While I think the author did a good job at telling the story, there were times I felt the book dragged, and overall it just didn't live up to my expectations. The characters are what made the book. They all had some interesting quirks, but I think having the multiple narratives for the characters worked out well. Each had their own, clear narrative, and helped shape that character's personality for me. Nelly, was a very unique character, and it was hard to get to know her properly, but I think she added something to the book.

The overall story was also well written, a tough topic at times, but I think the author did a good job with telling the story. The ending was fine, I didn't dislike or like it and overall the book itself was well done, but, as I said before it wasn't exactly what I was expecting. From other reviews I thought it would be a far more engaging read. While it was a good story, it wasn't as good as I thought.

Would I recommend it to read: I would. It's not what I thought the book would be like, but a good read and I know a lot of readers would love the characters in this book.

What to read next: The Earth Hums in B Flat

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 2014 Category Challenge, Alphabet Challenge, New Author Challenge, Read Scotland Challenge

Sunday, June 8

Book Review: On the Prowl

Title: On The Prowl

Author: Patricia Briggs, Eileen Wilks, Karen Chance, Sunny

Pages: 341

Alpha and Omega 0.5 by Patricia Briggs
The werewolf Anna finds a new sense of self when the son of the werewolf king comes to town to quell unrest in the Chicago pack- and inspires a power in Anna that she's never felt before.

Inhuman by Eileen Wilks
Kai has a secret gift of sensing thoughts and desires. What she senses in her neighbor Nathan could be dangerous. Because he has a secret gift, too, and it's about to be let loose.

Buying Trouble by Karen Chance
In a New York auction house, a Lord of the Fey crosses paths with a fiery redheaded mage named Claire. But in this strange underground society, the rarity up for sale is Claire herself.

Mona Lisa Bewitching by Sunny
Among the children of the moon, Mona Lisa is of Mixed Blood- part Monere, part human, and destined to be alone. Then she meets a man who could be her salvation- or her downfall.

My Rating: 7.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: As with most anthologies, I liked some over the others. Alpha Omega was my favourite of the group, and I think it was the best written as well. It also made a smooth transition into the novel and connecting series and I felt it had the most developed characters and story.

Mona Lisa Bewitching started off good, but fell apart to me. It also had a little too much, uh "spice" in it for my liking. Although the background story on the paranormal characters and their world was interesting, the rest of the story didn't come together well.

Inhuman was my second favourite, but I think the ending of that story fell apart, and it didn't work well. It felt rushed and I was left uninterested in continuing on to other related books. The characters were okay, but I felt the dialogue and how they connected to each other was a little forced.

Buying Trouble was a story I neither liked or disliked. It had some interesting elements, some non-interesting elements to it. I liked aspects of it, others I think just didn't mesh well. I think if it was a novel, rather than a short story, it may have kept me interested in it, but that being said, if there was a connecting series, I'm now unsure if I'd continue on with it.

Overall , while I didn't enjoy all the stories in the collection, it wasn't a bad read.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it's a good book to get a small taste of the authors writing style and see if you'd like to invest in some of the accompanying series. Especially Brigg's short story as it leads directly into the book Cry Wolf.

What to read next: Cry Wolf. And the other author's spin of series.

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 2014 Category Challenge

Saturday, June 7

Book Review: Letter from Chicago

Title: Letter From Chicago

Author: Cathy Kelly

Pages: EBook 29

Summary: Every woman needs her Cathy Kelly time – lose yourself with this warm and enjoyable short story perfect for a relaxing break. Elsie loves her regular letters from her sister Maisie in Chicago. Maisie emigrated to America forty-five years ago but the sisters keep in touch monthly. The letters cross the Atlantic, back and forth, filled with news about their families, their hopes, dreams and successes. Of course, it’s not quite as good as seeing each other in person, but they are happy enough with the arrangement. But when Maisie suddenly announces that her granddaughter wants to visit Elsie in Ireland, Elsie is besides herself with worry. A great deal has happened in the last forty-five years, and she may not have always reported it all accurately back to her sister. She can’t possibly bear the humiliation of being found out for having stretched the truth, but there is no way she can refuse to play host to a member of her family, is there?

My Rating: 7/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I found this to be a nice, quick read and well written as for as short stories go. I didn't love the short story, but I didn't dislike it either. The characters were fairly well done, but not as developed as I've seen in other short stories. The story itself was cute, but it wasn't one I'd normally read. It was also slightly predictable, but again, it was fun so it didn't bother me much.

Overall, it was a good read and a great choice for a quick summer read.

Would I recommend it to read: If you enjoy the author, and looking for a quick read, then yes. Otherwise I'd suggest the authors other books.

What to read next: I'd say check out more books by Cathy Kelly

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 2014 Category Challenge, EBook Challenge

Monday, May 19

Book Review: Afterlands

Title: Afterlands

Author: Steven Heighton

Pages: EBook 310

Summary: In 1871, nineteen men, women, and children, voyaging on the Arctic explorer USS Polaris found themselves cast adrift on an ice floe as their ship began to founder. Based on one of the most remarkable events in polar history, Afterlands tells the haunting story of this small society of castaways -- a white and a black American, five Germans, a Dane, a Swede, an Englishman, and two Inuit families -- and the harrowing six months they spend marooned in the Arctic, struggling to survive both the harsh elements and one another. As the group splinters into factions along ethnic and national lines, rivalries -- complicated by sexual desire, unrequited love, extreme hunger, and suspicion -- begin to turn violent.

My Rating: 9/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This book pulled me in from the start, from its narrative, characters and the story itself, it was a book hard to put down, and book I'd highly recommend, as it's one that's well worth reading. The writing style was wonderful. The author managed to capture a lot of power and emotion with the writing style, which was part of what had me so engrossed in the book. The writing style/narrative especially during kept the book going, even parts that were slower or a little repetitive. The story itself, the characters struggle for survival while trapped on the ice floe, and later survival of life itself, was extraordinary.

The characters were also incredibly well done. Each character was well shaped and developed, and while some characters were just unlikable, they were still enjoyable to read about. Kruger was probably my favourite character, even with the conflicting views of him throughout the narrative, he was the character that stuck out the most for me. Because the book was told partly though journal entries, so there's the biased view of who our narrator concentrated on, which was why some characters didn't get as much focus as others. This aspect worked and didn't work for me. On one hand, there's a very biased view on who was who, and who was good and bad, which helped complaint the rest of the story and the how the story represented some of the characters. On the other hand, some characters were overlooked, and I felt didn't get as much attention as they needed.

I did find the story started to lose me in the latter half of the book. While I enjoyed Kruger's journey in Mexico, I also found it dragged in parts. Although, I do think that part of the books did help shape his character further, I still found myself losing interest in the end.

Overall, it was an excellent read, and one of my favourite books so far this year.

Would I recommend it to read: I would. Incredibly written, and wonderfully told,

What to read next: The Road, while it's a very different book, both have the concentration of survival.

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 2014 Category Challenge, 7th Annual Canadian Book Challenge, EBook Reading Challenge, Mount TBR Reading Challenge, New Author Reading Challenge

Sunday, May 4

April Wrap-Up

Well, a little late, but it's finally up. I'm having a lot of trouble staying on target and getting this done this year. I'm reading, but not as much as I'd like, but maintaining the blog side, is harder for me this year. Things in the life are fine, just busy. At least the weather has finally turned nice, so getting outside is also priority - as I also like to garden and play in the dirt.

The Books

Not a bad haul this month, but not great. I did read a lot of new to me authors this month, and many were well worth it and I look forward to reading more by them. Especially Ian Rankin. Annihilation and The Heart Goes last are my favourites for the month. Miranda's Vines was my least favourite read.

1. Miranda's Vines - Kimberly Kafka - 5/10
3. Cry Wolf - Patricia Briggs - 7.25/10
4. Annihilation - Jeff VanderMeer - 8.25/10
4. Chronicle of a Death for Told - Gabriel García Márquez - 7/10
6. The Blue Guitar - Ann Ireland - 7.75/10
7. Black and Blue - Ian Rankin - 7.75/10
7. The Heart Goes Last - Margaret Atwood - 8.5/10
8. Silver Linings Play Book - Matthew Quick - 8/10

The Challenges

Stay Calm. Don't Panic! I'm still okay with the challenges. I'm living in the magic world of this will all work out and everything will be fine and save for on or two challenges, I think everything will be fine. I'm flying through the new author and ebook challenges and The Read Scotland challenge will be completed soon too. Although for that one, I plan on moving up a level. I also see myself actually completing the Mount TBR challenge this year too. So thing may have had a rocky start, but they're looking good now.

1) 100 Books in 2014 - 26/100 Books - 26%
2) 2014 Category Challenge - 26/140 Books - 19%
3) 2014 GoodReads Reading Challenge - 27/140 books - 19%
4) 50 Book Pledge - 27/100 books - 27%
5) 7th Annual Canada Book Challenge - 52/13 books
6) Alphabet Reading Challenge - 12/26 books - 46%
7) Chunkster Reading Challenge - 2/5 books - 40%
8) EBook Reading Challenge - 14/50 books - 28%
9) Finish That Series Challenge - 0/3 Series, 0/9 books
10) Mental Illness Reading Challenge - 3/8 books - 38%
11) Mount TBR Challenge - 16/60 books - 27%
12) New Author Challenge - 16/25 books - 64%
13) Read Scotland Reading Challenge - 3/6 books - 50%
14) War Reading Challenge - With a Twist - 0/6 books

Countries Visited

This month, I visited, Canada, England, Scotland and Columbia on my reading travels.

Create your own travel map - TravBuddy

Books That Followed Me Home

During this month (April), I attended Ad Astra, an annual Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror and all that good stuff convention, mainly directed towards books, fiction and all things literary. There's a few other things to see and do there, but the focus is on authors and books and reading. It's a fantastic convention, and if you're in the Toronto area, well worth coming down. So the majority. The Book seller table, Bakka Phoenix, must just love me when they see me stopping by the table. I always by too many books j) of my books came from the convention (okay all but the ebooks, including Patricia Briggs, who was one of the Guest of Honour this year. So, next year, make sure you check it out. It's an awesome convention, I'm part of the team to run it, and it's great fun!

Sea of Shadows - Kelley Armstrong
Cry Wolf - Patricia Briggs
Hunting Grounds - Patricia Briggs
Fair Game - Patricia Briggs
Frog Music - Emma Donoghue (EBook)
Red Girl Rat Boy - Cynthia Flood (EBook)
Bleeding Hearts - Alyxandra Harvey
Blood Moon - Alyxandra Harvey
The Darwin Elevator - Jason M. Hough
Going Down Swinging - Billie Livingston (EBook)
The Lies of Locke Lamora - Scott Lynch
Lullabies for Little Criminals - Heather O'Neill (EBook)
Trains and Lovers - Alexander McCall Smith (EBook)
On The Prowl (Anthology)

Wednesday, April 30

Book Review: Silver Linings Playbook

Title: Silver Linings Playbook

Author: Matthew Quick

Pages: 287

Summary: Meet Pat Peoples. Pat has a theory: his life is a movie produced by God. And his God-given mission is to become physically fit and emotionally literate, whereupon God will ensure him a happy ending—the return of his estranged wife, Nikki. (It might not come as a surprise to learn that Pat has spent several years in a mental health facility.) The problem is, Pat’s now home, and everything feels off. No one will talk to him about Nikki; his beloved Philadelphia Eagles keep losing; he’s being pursued by the deeply odd Tiffany; his new therapist seems to recommend adultery as a form of therapy. Plus, he’s being haunted by Kenny G!

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The book was well told, and although I found the book took a different turn than what I was expecting, I was surprised at some elements of the book, but it was a good read in the end.

The characters, were well done, some were difficult to like, but they were all realistic and complimented each other nicely. Nikki was a character that was incredibly well done, and I wish I could have learned more about her. While she had an important part in the book, most of her remains a mystery, and I would have liked to see her struggles brought out in the open more.

Initially I didn't like how the narrative was written, but by the end of the book, I think it was rather fitting. I do wish I had known how certain events turned out in the beginning, as I think it would have given me a different outlook on the story and Pat - especially considering on how the narrative is written and how Pat tells his story.

I think the author shows the reader the struggles of mental illness, and how it affects the person and those around them wonderfully. He doesn't hold back and shows both the negative and positive reactions and how the families and friends around a person deal with a person's illness, as they interact with them. I think that how the author wrote this into the story, was probably one of my favourite aspects of it.

Overall, it wasn't exactly what I had expected from the book, but it's one that's well worth reading.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, I think it's a great choice for those who like more character drive book.

What to read next: The Rosie Project, I'd also suggest reading more books by the author.

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 2014 Category Challenge, Alphabet Challenge, Mental Illness Advocacy Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge, New Author Challenge