Friday, July 31

Book Review: A Good House

Title: A Good House

Author: Bonnie Burnard

Pages: 283

Summary: Bill Chambers has come home from the Second World War with several fingers of his right hand missing but with the will to restore his family life intact. He wants the best for his wife, Sylvia, and his children Patrick, Paul and Daphne, and with his already steady job at the hardware store, the future stretches out before him. Yes as that future takes hold and the family members pull apart and come together again, bonds deepen and widen, loyalties are tested by time and chance, and love creates its own snares.

In a Good Home, Bonnie Burnard’s keen powers of observation and her sensitivity to emotional nuance produce a rich portrait of an ordinary small-town family from the 1950’s to the 1990’s. She has created people we canal recognize an a story that is as moving as it is profound.

My Rating: 8.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: A beautifully told story, Burnard has a lovely talent at telling a story, and capturing the emotions of her characters perfectly. Although at times the story was a little slow moving at times, I had a hard time putting this book down, a very hard time. The writing style flows very nicely, describing enough to set a great scene, but also has short to the point descriptions. She was able to paint the perfect small town community as well as, “perfect” characters. By perfect characters, I mean ones full of flaws, emotions, pain, happiness, struggles and strengths. These are characters that seem very real to the reader as they read through the book and are ones the reader is able to connect and wish that these characters, weren’t going through the hard times they go through, or wish that they are happy and flourish.

I also liked the way the book was written, having it span from the 1950’s to the 1990’s. Each section of the book a different year in the families lives, but it didn’t have a section for each year, just the important years of the family was focused on, although the narrator did fill you in on important evens, in these sections that lead up to what happens, I thought it was a clever method. You’re also able to see things from multiple view points, not just the grandparents, or the children, because the narrator is an anonymous voice that is able to give you insight on everyone around them.

My only criticism as I said before, was that it did move a little slowly at times in a few parts, but over all a wonderfully written book, full of emotion and powerful characters.

Would I recommend it to read: Yes, I'd recommend it. It's a well told story at the very least, and I think readers will appreciate the heart and soul and emotion the author put into the book.

What to read next: The Underpainter by Jane Urquhart, All Our Worldly Goods - Irene Nemirovosky

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, 999 Challenge, Book Awards III Challenge

Book Review: Legend of Sleepy Hallow

Title: The Legend of Sleepy Hallow

Author: Washington Irving

Pages: EBook

Summary: The chief part of the stories, however, turned upon the favorite specter of Sleepy Hollow, the Headless Horseman, who had been heard several times of late, patrolling the country; and, it was said, tethered his horse nightly among the graves in the churchyard. The story was immediately matched by a thrice marvelous adventure of Brom Bones, who made light of the Galloping Hessian as an arrant jockey. He affirmed that on returning one night from the neighboring village of Sing Sing, he had been overtaken by this midnight trooper; that he had offered to race with him for a bowl of punch, and should have won it too, for Daredevil beat the goblin horse all hollow, but just as they came to the church bridge, the Hessian bolted, and vanished in a flash of fire. All these tales, told in that drowsy undertone with which men talk in the dark, the countenances of the listeners only now and then receiving a casual gleam from the glare of a pipe, sank deep in the mind of Ichabod. . . .

My Rating: 7/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I almost feel as if I’m one of the last people to read this book, I mean it’s a cult classic, I always knew the story growing up of the headless horseman, through the various retellings of it (Mickey Mouse anyone? Or Johnny Depp?), so I finally sat down and read the short novel. And it didn’t disappoint, although it’s not really a favourite of mine or what I consider to be a fantastic book, I still enjoyed it. It’s a very short story, I read in just over an hour, and the author has done a incredible job at creating the build up of the ghost story, and setting up the backdrop of where it takes place,the gothic town and woods where the headless horseman lurks. But, it wasn’t what I expected, there wasn’t any dialog for one, just narration, of an unnamed narrator telling us of the events, so we never got inside Icabod’s head like I thought it would, I thought it might have been a retelling by him, but it didn’t end up being that way. And it’s very different then Tim Berton’s version of it (story wise, the gothic descriptions of the woods and town, I think matched up almost perfectly). So I did enjoy that aspect a lot, the story just seemed to miss that little extra something, to give it that extra little push into being a great story.

Would I recommend it to read: Yes, not my favourite book, but the author did do a good job at creating a "campfire" story. And if your a fan of legends and spooky stories, it's also a good book for you.

What to read next: Frankenstein, Dracula are a good start.

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, A - Z Challenge, EBook Challenge

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Title: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Author: J.K. Rowling

Pages: 607

Summary: The wizarding world has finally woken up to Voldemort’s return, and his Death Eaters are on the rampage, causing chaos, confusion and death. Harry Potter, who is now surrounded by more rumours than ever before, returns to Hogwarts for his sixth-year of magical education – but the school is no longer the haven it used to be, and spies who have been hidden for years will soon show their true colours. As suspicions escalate and workloads increase, Albus Dumbledore invites Harry to join him in piecing together the tale of Voldemort’s parentage and upbringing – a tale that will reveal his darkest secret yet.

My Rating: 10/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This review contains spoilers, a lot of spoilers. If you haven’t read the book seen the movie, or haven’t heard what happens at the end of the book/movie. Stop reading here.

Tied with the third book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is my favourite in the Harry Potter series. I loved this book the first time I read it (which was about 12 hours or so after it was released), I couldn’t put it down, and I became so involved in the story, that I threw the book across the room screaming at it, at the end, but not for the reason why most were. See, I didn’t really care that Dumbledore was murdered or that he died. I kind of figured when we first saw him, with a blackened hand and that he seemed more tired and slow to Harry, that Dumbledore would likely not make it to the end. I was mad and angry at the fact Snape killed Dumbledore. SNAPE! The one I knew was a good guy, and he kills Dumbledore?!?! You know an author has done their job, when the book is hurled across the room, because she pulled something like that. After, I started analyzing everything such as; the Unbreakable Vow, the fight he and Dumbledore had, and the fact Dumbledore looked like he was going to kick the bucket all through the book and that he was pleading for death from Snape, I concluded that Snape was good, and would refuse to believe otherwise, until the seventh book came out. Oh it was a long wait, but I had plenty of evidence built up to prove the non-believers wrong. Either way, I’m one of few who didn’t care that Dumbledore died.

The rest of the book was well done, just as Dumbledore’s death and the build up to it, the entire story is filled with adventure, suspense, darkness and brilliant story telling. We meet an interesting character, Professor Slughorn, although he isn’t a favourite of mine, he was amusing to read as he tried to “collect” certain characters. I also liked how dark the story was getting, it made for a very interesting read, and you really wanted to see how far it would go. Even learning about Voldemort’s past was rather dark, from the start he was a bit, okay, a lot evil but it was interesting to see how he became who he was. I also loved Draco in this, you really feel sorry for him in this book, even after all the horrible stuff he’s done. It really shows Voldemort’s powerful hold on the wizarding world, through Draco’s reaction, showing how many people really have no choice but to follow his orders, or face his wrath. One part I didn’t like, was Harry’s constant digging into what Draco was up to, before he had any real evidence that Draco was doing, what he was doing yes, Harry was right about it, but at the time he had no reason to believe it was Draco except the fact Harry hated Draco and hated Lucius, so he automatically judged Draco, with little reason to believe so. It got annoying after awhile, especially after he’s been told, that the issues was being taken care of. Harry’s major flaw is that he can’t see beyond what’s in front of him, and he can only think one way about an issue, which bugs me because this is the one who’s meant to defeat the Dark Lord, someone who can only see one side to solve a problem? Someone who refuses to believe one of the greatest wizards in the world, and the guidance he’s passing on to him? Smack! Also, I found it odd, that Harry nearly killed Draco with the Sectumsempra spell, yet he gets detention on Saturdays for the rest of the term, with no badgering or talking to from Dumbledore, even with all this heightened security. I know he’s the chosen one and all, but pulling crap like that, deserves worse punishments in my opinion.

Tonks and Lupin. That was sure pulled out of the left ring. Although I think they made a cute couple, I don’t quite get how Tonks fell for him, or how anything progressed into a relationship. All we saw was a depressed Tonks and anxious Lupin. There wasn’t much clue or hints they were close friends in the Order before hand. I think this is a big plot hole in the story. If they (in book five) had just made comments, how Tonks and Lupin were always on duty together, seemed to get along great, then this “love” they had for each other would have made a lot more sense. Two of my favourite characters still, but something broke down in the build up to this relationship, making it seem a little odd and less believable.

The Half-Blood Prince was also a very clever ploy. Especially considering how much Harry depended on him, enjoyed his “brilliance” and his help, and then found out who he really was. I loved it! And just adds more to Snape’s brilliance in my books, being able to figure out the potions like that, perfect them. He should have definitely stayed as Potions Master. And Harry screw off with your I Hate Snape B.S already. If you want respect from someone and someone to not hate you, maybe you should show some in return. (As you can guess I’m pro Snape, and dislike Harry).

Overall, the book is fast paced, has a lot of “teens coming to age” themes, which means a bit of romancey stuff (anything to do with Lavender Brown made me cringe, I have yet to meet a girl like her, similar yes, but as bad as her, no) and angst of growing up. But it’s also full of darkness, history and build up for the next book. My favourite part, the fight scene at the end, which has huge importance in the story, because it shows that the one “safe” place in the wizaeding world, was finally breached by the Death Eaters. It showed that even with the extra security, the Order, and Dumbledore, Voldemort’s evil is stronger then all of that, and it came into the place they all thought they’d would be safe. It’s so important, because it shows that the “good” guys are losing, and they’re losing badly, they’re showing that Voldemort’s power is stronger then the generation before, and there will be a long battle ahead to defeat them. So I was PISSED when they left it out of the movie. I hated the movie. Two hours of teen angst and romance, 30 minutes of plot. Thanks a bunch! So, I’ll just have to get my satisfaction and then some, from the book. Since it is a million times better and is one of the best in the series.

Would I recommend it to read: Of course! It's a fantasic book, that you can read over and over again, has a lot of action, and a lot less teen agnst in it then the fifth (especially concicdering the movie). It becomes very dark, and it becomes less and less of a children's/young adult book here. I think most would be able to enjoy it. You won't be disapointed by it, that's for sure (unless you liked Dumbledor, then, sorry.)

What to read next: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, RYOB Challenge, Summer Lovin' Challenge, YA Challenge

Tuesday, July 28

Library Loot - July 28

Library Loot is a weekly event that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library hosted by Eva and Marg.
This past week (and maybe a week or so before that) I've been busy visiting my library. It started out me wanting to nab some books that I had in my 1% Well Read Challenge List. And I had some bad luck, only finding two of the ones I wanted that day, at that library, only to find the one book I was going to read, was not the book for me. It had a little to much of the "romance" stuff for me. And by "romance" I mean that the blurb on the back of the book had the word "sex" four times. Had a lot about affrairs etc etc. Immediately knew it wasn't for me. So I hunted around looking for a replacement book, and ended up bring home extra books. Only two others were suppose to come home with me that day, instead four came home in total.

That is in addition to the book I had already checked out, later that week a hold was ready for me so I had to pick that up, and then on Saturday I went to the library, again looking for some books to read, and again, more books than I anticipated, followed me home. So now I have 10 books checked out of the library in a nice, massive TBR pile.

Here they are:

First visit from a week or (two?) ago

Xanadu 3 - Collection of Fantasty and Sci-Fi stories
Far From the Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
Once Upon a Time: A Floating Opera House - John Barth A Good House: Bonnie Burnard (I almost bougth this from the used bookstores)

From a previous visits: Little Earthquakes - Jennifeir Weiner

From a hold I had to pick up

One Hundred Years in Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

And From Saturday
Amsterdam - Ian McEwan (finished it already, didn't like it)
Blackberry Whine - Joanne Harris
The Stone Diaries - Carol Shields
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain

Monday, July 27

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Title: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Author: J.K Rowling

Pages: 766

Summary: As his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry approaches, 15-year-old Harry Potter is in full-blown adolescence, complete with regular outbursts of rage, a nearly debilitating crush, and the blooming of a powerful sense of rebellion. It's been yet another infuriating and boring summer with the despicable Dursleys, this time with minimal contact from our hero's non-Muggle friends from school. Harry is feeling especially edgy at the lack of news from the magic world, wondering when the freshly revived evil Lord Voldemort will strike. Returning to Hogwarts will be a relief... or will it?

The fifth book in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series follows the darkest year yet for our young wizard, who finds himself knocked down a peg or three after the events of last year. Somehow, over the summer, gossip (usually traced back to the magic world's newspaper, the Daily Prophet) has turned Harry's tragic and heroic encounter with Voldemort at the Triwizard Tournament into an excuse to ridicule and discount the teen. Even Professor Dumbledore, headmaster of the school, has come under scrutiny by the Ministry of Magic, which refuses to officially acknowledge the terrifying truth that Voldemort is back. Enter a particularly loathsome new character: the toadlike and simpering ("hem, hem") Dolores Umbridge, senior undersecretary to the Minister of Magic, who takes over the vacant position of Defense Against Dark Arts teacher--and in no time manages to become the High Inquisitor of Hogwarts, as well. Life isn't getting any easier for Harry Potter. With an overwhelming course load as the fifth years prepare for their Ordinary Wizarding Levels examinations (O.W.Ls), devastating changes in the Gryffindor Quidditch team lineup, vivid dreams about long hallways and closed doors, and increasing pain in his lightning-shaped scar, Harry's resilience is sorely tested.

My Rating: 8.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Harry Potter is one of those books (all of then) that have a bit of everything, it really is a series of “guilty pleasures for me”, and one of the few “young adult” books I can read and re-read over and over again. The fifth instalment of Harry Potter jumps right into the darker side of the Wizarding World, with an dementor attack right at the beginning, you know that this book won’t disappoint you (well okay there is ONE part that pissed me right off, but I’ll leave that for later). Warning, there may be spoilers ahead, so if you haven’t read the book or seen the movie version, you may be spoiled about the ending.
Okay, so to start off, Harry is not favourite character in the book, and probably in the whole series, but particularly in this book. For most of the book Harry is moody, whiney, angry outbursts t his friends, teenage hormones are high, and a little to high for me. Notice none of the other teenagers are as moody as Harry, and sure he has a lot of stuff on his plate. Although I guess this is what makes Harry human, but I still feel at times, that Rowling went over the top for Harry and the whole teen “angst”. Not that this made the book bad, just after a while it got very repetitive, and I really wanted to punch him in the face and tell him to get a grip. You’re the boy who lived; life will be difficult, deal with it. That was my main issue with the story, I found a few plot holes, but I think its because once you’ve read the book over so many times, you start to analyze and over analyze every move, decision and thought the characters make and wonder why they did it, when in other situations they’d do it differently. (Like Lucius in the fight scene, why he just didn’t use the imperious curse, when he has used it so many times before, is beyond me).

The book also shows some of my favourite characters at their best. Lucius Malfoy and his manipulative ways in the end fight scene. Snape, and his snide attitude towards Harry, and everyone around him. I liked how he doesn’t let Umbirdge get to him, unlike the other professors at the school. I love his character, there’s just so many layers, to the black haired, hooked nose potions master (some of which we see during Occulmency lessons, where I felt sorry for him). Then there’s Bellatrix in the fight scene. She’s crazy, but fun to read, you don’t know what to expect from her, but you do expect something very different then the other death eaters, more evil more insane. She’s is one who is most devoted to Voldemort. Lucius only seems to be devoted to him, because he has power, and can give Lucius some of this power too. Either way, when you read about Bellatrix, it can give you shivers down your spine. Also Lupin and Sirius and the relationship they have with Harry, this is more so with Sirius, who Harry leans on a lot, and who Rowling has set up a fantastic relationship with. In the end when he died, the build up to it, and the build up of his and Harry’s relationships really made the emotion Harry had, more real. I was still pissed at this part, because I liked Sirius Black, but what’s done is done. (Glares at the book mumbling about his death). Then of course were the Weasly Twins, any page with them is just fantastic, they are able to lighten a tense mood, they always make you laugh, and always make you want more. I wish they were real people, because they’d be someone you go hang out with after a bad day, because they will be sure to bring a smile on your face. I loved them waging war on Umbridge and could read their exit from Hogwarts over and over again! “Give her hell from us Peeves!” They are definitely a great way to have some comic relief in the series, which becomes darker and darker with each book. It just sucks we don’t see as much of them after this. (And sucks even more…..)

Over all, the book has everything you could want in a book humour, action suspense, and full of emotion, which create a very real set of characters. I do find some plot holes in the book, but this is likely more of something you see when you become a big HP fan, and you go on all the fan sites and read interviews by the author who gives out information on characters, spells etc. (If you read all that, then compare it to books and analyze it all, you can see a few plot holes). Either way this is a great book and has a bit of everything that readers can enjoy, without getting bored. On a side note, the movie version of this was a HUGE disappointment and my least favourite movie so far of the HP series.

Would I recommend it to read: Of course I would! It's Harry Potter, a great read for young adults, and adults who want to indulge in guilty pleasures (without the fat ;)). It's not fantastic style of writing, but Rowling does do a fantastic job at telling the story, and making you hooked until the very end. Just don't watch the movie, it was horrid.

What to read next: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, RYOB Challenge, Summer Lovin' Challenge, YA Challenge

Book Review: Amsterdam

Title: Amsterdam

Author: Ian McEwan

Pages: 178

Summary: On a chilly February day, two old friends meet in the throng outside a crematorium to pay their last respects to Molly Lane. Both Clive Linley and Vernon Halliday had been Molly's lovers in the days before they reached their current eminence. Clive is Britain's most successful modern composer; Vernon is editor of the quality broadsheet The Judge. Gorgeous, feisty Molly had had other lovers, too, notably Julian Garmony, foreign secretary, a notorious right-winger tipped to be the next prime minister.

In the days that follow Molly's funeral, Clive and Vernon will make a pact with consequences neither has foreseen. Each will make a disastrous moral decision, their friendship will be tested to its limits, and Julian Garmony will be fighting for his political life.

In Amsterdam, a contemporary morality tale that is as profound as it is witty, we have Ian McEwan at his wisest and most wickedly disarming. And why Amsterdam? What happens there to Clive and Vernon is the most delicious climax of a novel brimming with surprises.

My Rating: 4.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I have to say, that I was surprised that I didn’t like this book, because I loved Atonement by McEwan, and I thought that this book would have that similar style of writing and characterization, but it didn’t. Although McEwan brings up some points of morality in the book, and what is the “right” thing to do, the story really did, just fall short for me. The passages were dull and boring; there wasn’t much there to keep the readers interest. The characters were one dimensional and bored me throughout the entire book, I didn’t care much at all for them at all and whether they lived, died, got what was coming for them or anything of the sort. Which is a shame because there could have been an interesting plot for the book, the issue was and still is a very controversial one, but it just wasn’t handled well in my opinion. The book just fell short of what I would have expected it, especially after hearing such praises about the author himself in all of his works in general, I was expecting something fantastic from him and didn’t get even to close to it, I thought there would be more exciting passages, more to the characters then what was shown, and more of an in-depth look at the morals and controversy around euthanasia. But none of that happened. Overall not a very good read for me.

Would I recommend it to read: No I wouldn't. I would recommend that you read Atonement, or read something else the author has written, just not this book. Although I will try reading one of his other books in the future, it does have me shying away from his novels for the moment.

What to read next: Something else my McEwan, I enjoyed Atonement, but am unsure what his other works are like.

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, 999 Challenge

Book Review: All Our Worldly Goods

Title: All Our Worldly Goods

Author: Irène Némirovksy

Pages: 192

Summary: In haunting ways, this compelling novel prefigures Suite Française and some of the themes of Némirovsky’s great unfinished sequence of novels. All Our Worldly Goods, though, is complete, and exquisitely so — a perfect novel in its own right. First published in France in 1947, after the author’s death, it is a gripping story of family life and star-crossed lovers, set in France between 1910 and 1940.

Pierre and Agnes marry for love against the wishes of his parents and the family patriarch, the tyrannical industrialist Julien Hardelot, provoking a family feud which cascades down the generations. This is Balzac or The Forsyte Saga on a smaller, more intimate scale, the bourgeoisie observed close-up, with Némirovsky’s characteristically sly humour and clear-eyed compassion. Full of drama and heartbreak, and telling observations of the devastating effects of two wars on a small town and an industrial family, Némirovsky is at the height of her powers.

Taut, evocative and beautifully paced, the novel points out with heartbreaking detail and clarity how close those two wars were, how history repeated itself, tragically and shockingly. The story opens in the Edwardian era, on a fashionable Normandy beach and ends with a changed world under Nazi occupation.

My Rating: 8.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Another phenomenal book by Némirovsky! I can’t get enough of her novels, her writing and her talent. It’s truly a shame she died before she could write more, because I would love to see what she could have done later on in her life. I grab any book by her I can get, and recommend you all do the same. This book was particularly well done, and I enjoyed it more than David Golder which I recently read by her. The writing style in this book and the characterization is on the same level as it was with Suite Française and has some haunting similarities when explaining the evacuation process during both of the wars. The emotions that went into it, the emotions waiting for the loved ones of all the characters to return safely home, and the emotions of returning back to your home town, after it’s been bombed were stunning. Her ability to create such a beautiful setting isn’t limited to a war setting either, all of the images she is able to paint, leapt off the pages, she really did have a beautiful, poetic ability to set up the scene with what seems to be little effort. For example;
It was a November day; the skies wept softly; the wind danced in the bride’s veil; the carriages crushed the last reddish leaves (page 32)
The story also follows a bit of “forbidden love”, the aristocratic families who disapprove of it, and all the struggle and journey’s that come with it. Although the idea behind two lovers marrying despite their rich, snobbish parents wishes is found in a lot of novels, Némirovsky handled it well, creating more dimension in her characters then what I’ve seen in similar books. Another thing that impressed me was how she was able to cover such a wide span of time in just under 200 pages. Even with poetic passages like the example above and a long span of time she was able to cover all of what she needed to tell a wonderful story, without allowing the reader to get bored. There were some parts that I found to be a little repetitive (the grandfather’s hatred, disapproval etc) but that is what made the characters who they were, and made the reader either love them, hate them or want to them to disappear off the pages for good. Overall another fantastic novel by Némirovsky and yet another book that will added to my “Books I need to Own” list!

Would I recommend it to read: I would highly recommend this book, especially if you’ve read Suite Française and are looking to read more of her novels. They are both up at that same level of story telling ability. And out of all the books I’ve read by her, (after Suite Française) recommend this one next in line to read. It’s a short novella, beautiful descriptions but it doesn’t take away from the story, so I think those who aren’t into a lot of descriptions could still enjoy the book. There are similarities to Suite Française, so some my find they’ve “read this before” if they already have read the books, but because the story has so much more than just the war, just remember it is a small part and there is also the aspect of a story of love, relationships and family tied in, so at least give this book a try.

What to read next: Suite Française, Diplomats Wife, Atonement.

Challenges: 100+ Challenge

Friday, July 24

Book Blogger Appreciation Week

I found out about this about a week or so ago, and signed up, but haven't had the time to post about it. But here we go, coming up, in just about 7 or eight weeks is the 2nd Annual Book Blogger Appreciation Week, which runs from September 14 - 18 2009.

Book Blogger Appreciation Week, is hosted by Amy Riley of My Friend Amy in an effort to recognize the hard work and contribution of book bloggers to the promotion and preservation of a literate culture actively engaged in discussing books, authors, and a lifestyle of reading. (taken from the BBAW website)

I didn't participate last year, because I was very new to the book blog community, didn't know a lot of people out there, or a lot of events that were actually out there. But by the looks of others bloggers posts who've participated in the event, it looks to be a great way to meet bloggers, explore new bogs and of course have a lot of fun. If you are new to the blogger world, don't shy away, come on and join us!

So here's a little blurb about what this is all about, also taken from the BBAW site.

WHO Anyone who blogs about books is invited to participate. In fact, we want everyone who blogs about books and reading to be a part of this week!
WHAT A week where we come together, celebrate the contribution and hard work of book bloggers in promoting a culture of literacy, connecting readers to books and authors, and recogonizing the best among us with the Second Annual BBAW Awards. There will be special guest posts, daily blogging themes, and giveaways.
WHEN September 14-18, 2009
WHERE Here at the new Book Blogger Appreciation Week Blog! (Please note that this year there are three separate blogs and feeds—one for the main event, one for giveaways, and one for awards.)
WHY Because books matter. In a world full of options, the people talking about books pour hard work, time, energy, and money into creating a community around the written word. I, Amy, the founder of Book Blogger Appreciation Week love this community of bloggers and want to shower my appreciation on you!

If you want to participate go here to the website to find out more or here to fill out a registration form.

Also make sure you nominate your favourite blogs for awards. (I've been trying to decided for days, I mean, I can only choose one per category!)

Thanks to Amy for hosting this, and I look forward to the event.

Monday, July 20

An Award x 2

Last week I was honoured with two awards from two great bloggers, but I've been busy and haven't had the chance to thank them and pass it on. So here I go!

First of a big thanks to Tina from Tutu's Two Cents for the A Bookworms Bookfriends Award! She passed this award towards me for my love and addiction of books and bring used books to a new home (mine). This is what she said Jules is my kinda woman...a true book friend who takes care to give used books a home. Her blog Jules' Book Reviews is a treasure trove

So here's a big thanks to you Tina! Your comments are always appreciated when you visit my Blog.

Now It's my turn to pass the award along, so here I go.

1) Jess from Barney's Book Blogs - Who in the past week or so has caused me to add quite a few books I need to read!
2) Arielle from Bookatopia - someone who I always see commenting on by blog, has some similar tastes in books as me, and also has her own lovely blog.
3) Jeanee from DogEar Diary
4) Joanne from the Book Zombie - who also shares a guilty pleasure of BB11

Now here's a shout out and thanks to Helen of A Reading Collection, for passing on the Kreativ Blogger Award to me. Thanks you so much for this, I'm glad you enjoy the background and my blog!

The award is a meme. Here's what you do if you decide to accept it. List seven of your favorite things...and then choose seven people who deserve this. Whether it's their writing style, their background layout, or blog content, decide whatever factor or factors that make the nominees' blog creative and stand out.

1) Reading
2) Coffee Drinking
3) Adding More books to my collection, and dreaming of what my personal library will look like
4)Writing (I admit I also write fan fiction a bit too)
5) Cooking (but no baking) I can cook up some great meals, including homemade from scratch creamy red pepper soup.
6) Curling up with my man, on a Friday Night and falling asleep together.
7) Thunderstomrs and the full moon

Now it's my turn to pass this on to seven people. And it's going to be hard to choose just seven, but I'll do it. (I hope).

1) Rebecca from Rebecca Reads - who has a very eclectic group of reviews
2) Heather J from Age 30+ ... A Life Time of Books (I'm loving your review format)
3) Chris from Book-a-rama and creator of the I Suck at Book Challenges Challenge! What would I do without that challenge? Probably join even more challenges then I've alread joined.
4) Caffeinated Librarian of The Caffeinated Librarian who is always honest and upfront about how she feels (particularly on the episodes of Heroes).
5) Sharazad from the Dangerous Pages Review - telling the blogging world the "dangers" of all those wonderful "banned books".
6) Jenn from Jenn's Bookshelf - who has one of my favourite layouts out there.
7) MizB - from Should Be Reading - who has a massive collection (as she said in a post last week) of which Im very jelous of!

Agains thanks to both Tina and and Helen for the awards! You both rock!

Friday, July 17

Book Review: The Queen in Winter

Title: The Queen in Winter

Author: Claire Delacroix, Lynn Kurland, Sharon Shinn and Sarah Monette

Pages: 312

Summary: Now, these brilliantly gifted authors come together with four tales of adventure that are as enchanting as they are exciting… A gifted seer receives a vision of a man whom she was not meant to marry, but was meant to love… A man and an elven woman endure both the mundane and the magical quest to remain together… A warrior-maiden is trapped in a deadly storm with the only man she ever wanted, whose cars she must heal if he is ever to want her… A brave young woman helps her sister save her magically gifted child, only to receive an unexpected gift of her own….
Enjoy four of today’s most imaginative authors, and four stories of love as pure as the driven snow that will warm the coldest of hears.

My Rating: 7.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I picked this book up at one of those 4 for 10$ sales at my bookstores, where you have to have four books, to get the deal, at the time I had three that I really wanted and a few I wasn’t sure of, including this one. But I decided to get it anyways even though the blurb on the back of the book didn’t impress me much. I figured four short stories, one of them might stick. I’m glad I picked it because I ended up enjoying three of the four short stories. And I really enjoyed two of the four short stories. I’ll probably look into the authors other works (in a sort of related note, I found a list of books to read, and one of Sharon Shinn’s books was on it, small world).

Like most short story collections, you are going to have some you will like and some you won’t, and this is no exception, but for all the stories, the blurbs on the back of the book just don’t do it justice. I can see why it’s in a bargain bin, for so cheap, (this had the most copies in the selection of books included in the deal). The back of the blurb just doesn’t give potential readers enough information, to fully appreciate what the stories will be like. All of the stories are set in the back drop of winter, hence the winter titles. My favourite stories where; “When Winter Comes and A Gift of Wings. My least favourite was “The Kiss of the Snow Queen The titles of the short stories are:

A Whisper of Spring by Lynn Kurland
When Winter Comes by Sharon Shinn
The Kiss of the Snow Queen by Clair Delacroix
A Gift of Wings by Sarah Monette

For “When Winter Comes” I was caught up in the plot and the whole fantasy world the characters were in. The author did a great job at creating a fantasy world, and characters who were enjoyable to read. I enjoyed watching the two sisters strive for survival, in a world were mages are shunned away, and them trying to find a place in society. I found the love story side, a bit too predictable, but in the end, I didn’t mind as much, because the story as a whole was well told, and I was itching to read more about this fantasy world.

In “A Gift of Wings” had a bit of murder mystery in it, which made it that much better. Again, I was really interested in this authors “world” and wanted to learn more of the warrior woman and her kin of people. This one was one that was really hard to put down, because of the “murder mystery” aspect to it.

For a “Whisper in Spring”, the story wasn’t bad, nor was the writing style, although I did find there were some awkward dialogues in it, overall the story was well done, it just lost my interest in some points, and it was the usual “mortal versus immortal of races who are in love and them trying to ensure they keep that love. So it’s hard for a story like this, to be strong enough to pull you in, when it’s been done so much already, author did a good job at it, but, not my favourite in the collection.

The Kiss of the Snow Queen”, was the worst in the book. The story seemed to not match up together as a whole, it had multiple elements, but I just didn’t see how they all fit together to create the story. Also the main character bugged me a lot, along with some of the other characters of the book. I think this is a story that needed to be at least the length of a novella, to fully have the impact the author intended to have (or what I think she was trying to have when she wrote the story). It just seems like it needs more.

Combined together, the stories were well down, and weren’t overall romancey. I don’t mind a bit of romance in a novel, and sometimes the right kind of romance novel/story works for me, but for most romance themed stories there I find are just not well down. In this collection the love stories are plausible and mixed in with the right amount of romance, and the right amount of fantasy worlds, it created a very interesting read.

Would I recommend it to read: If you're a fan of romances, fantasy or short stories, then yes I think I would recommend the collection to read. Even if you're not to into a particular story, the best part of a short story collection is that the stories are short, so you're not as committed as your are with a novel. I do think that this collection isn't for everyone, if you don't like fantasy or romance at all, you probably won't like it. And if you're looking for a lot of action adventure or complex love affairs, again, you likely won't enjoy it. But if you want a nice light read in a fantasy romance genre, give it a try.

What to read next: Definitely check out more books by the authors in this book. Particularly Sharon Shinn and Sarah Monette.

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, A - Z Challenge, RYOB Challenge

Tuesday, July 14

Weekly Geeks 2009 - 26 Where in the World Have You Been?

This week's Weekly Geeks asks you to tell us about your globe trotting via books. Are you a global reader? How many countries have you "visited" in your reading? What are your favorite places or cultures to read about? Can you recommend particularly good books about certain regions, countries or continents? How do you find out about books from other countries? What countries would you like to read that you haven't yet?

Use your own criteria about what you consider to be "visiting" -- whether a book is written about the country or by a native or resident of the country. (From Weekly Geeks)
I have travelled to 14 countries, at least as far as I can remember. Something tells me I'm missing some, but I can't remember if I read anything that took place or is by a Russian author or a few other places. But 14 I know for sure I've visited through my readings. And hope to "visit" more (some of the books I've added in my collection the past moth or so take place in some countries I haven't read yet).

Here's my map

create your own visited country map

Because its hard to see my countries are: Canada, United States, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Japan, China, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Spain, United Kingdom.

Places I've actually visited my self are:
Canada (of Course although I've only visited 2 provinces outside my own)
United States
Dominican Republic

I'm not much of a traveller, although I really want to visit Europe.
Does anyone know if there is a challenge about this week's Weekly Geeks Theme? (My challenge addiction is tingling)

Monday, July 13

More Books and the search for bookends!

I admit, I have a HUGE problem. I'm a bookaholic. I'm a book-buying-aholic. I'm a book-buying-book-reading-aholic! But really, most of the time the books jump into my hands on there own. Or follow me home. They force me. FORCE me to buy them. I mean, they need good homes, and who can resit a sale of 4 for 10$ When normally, in the sale bin they're 5$ and if they weren't on sale theyd be 13-21$? I SAVED money! And added to my collection, and the used books, well they just need a new home, where they would be apprechaited! Right? Sigh! I'm trying to justfy it to myself..... still working on it.

On Thursday I needed to escape the house. I was going to just go and read a book at starbucks, but I ended up head downtown to the used bookstores. I also wanted to go to the library down there, so I looked around there and found nothing. Although I did take a look at Peter Boxwells 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. And I want! What a book! I then went to check out the library's bookstore and ended up buying

Angel Chronicles vol. 3. I have the other two, and never read this one (although being a BIG Buffy fan have seen the TV versions of it). But it was a buck, and money went to the library, so I bought it. Then I went looking around the used bookstore across the street.

So at that bookstore there was a lot of books I wanted. A few have been there awhile that I have my eyes on, but Im trying to see if they go down in price. They're half the cover price, but theres some cracked spines, bent covers etc. And I don't mind buying books like that from the used book stores, as long as the price matches the condition of the book. The one book in particular doesn't match the condition. So I'll wait. It's Soul Mountain I've read it before, but would read it again, so wouldn't mind having it (it would also fill in the missing "X" author on my shelf). Instead I focused on the Canadian Author section, in particular Alice Munro. At that particular bookstore I didn't by any Alice Munro, although they had a lot of her books, I did get this one great find, and the girl in the bookstore even commented on my "good taste". The book I got there was;

No Great Mischief by Alister McLeod

The I went to the other bookshop (in all fairness, I do have to walk right buy the front door to get to my bus stop. So it wasn't like I went out of my way or anything...... Okay, so there I ended up buying:

Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You by Alice Munro
Last Chance Saloon by Marian Keyes ( I think I just need Under the Duvet and Lucy Sullivan is getting Married and I'll have all her novels and short story collections shes soloed authored.)
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (Because a lot you have reconmmend the book to me, and I loved the Moonstone).

The on Saturday, my Dad wanted to go to the bookstores to find Non-Fiction War Time books, and took me with him! And he bought me 3 books at the books stores we visted. Including one, thats close to me. It's actually a good will drop-off centre. But the also have a job connect and a used bookstore. With AWESOME Prices. The one book I got from there hasn't even been read its still new, stiff and hints of new book smell lingure. The book is:
Girl with a Pearl Earing by Tracey Chevalier 3.99! (The Canadian Price Brand new was 19) I also got Anna Karenia by Leo Tolstoy which was well read and used, but still worth it.
And finally I brought home Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (although I was contemplating buying David Copperfield instead)

Okay so this morning (Monday) I got up really early, AT 7:30 well the dogs woke me up. I had to be up at 8:30 because needed to get ready, drink coffee and catch up on blogs before my coffee date with one of my friends. It was the pre-coffee, cofee. Then walked to the coffee shop, which takes about 35 minutes, but at 10 am it was kind of peaceful and nice out. Wasn't to hot, although power walking made it a little warm.

Then I had my coffee with my friend and gabbed. And of course, this Starbucks is the one that is attached to the Chapters. Where all the onsale or best seller books are stacked on tables and shelves, facing the coffee shop. See the people who work in the store/coffee shop claim its to attract those impulse buyers. But no. The attract those bookworms, like me who go for coffee with friends, or who go bring one of their own books to the coffee shop on a raining day, to curl up and read, and opps, the word sale catches your eye. Or that elusive ARC you've seen all your blogger friends blog about pops out of the shelves, screaming at you to buy it!

As you could have guessed, the books called me to them, and I bought them. Today it was 5..... but I only spent 11:55. Because 4 were on the 4 for ten dollars. And 1 was onsale for 2 (atleast thats what the sticker said) but when I got my reciet, it only cost be 1$ Sweet! I was pleased. Unfortonatly one of the books I almost got when I was there on Friday was no where in sight, and I sort of for get the book. Had the word "Write" in it. I think. Today's purchases were:

A High and Hidden Place: A Novel by Michele Lucas
Quality of Care by Elizabeth Letts Change Baby by June Spence The Sound of Blue: A Novel by Holly Payne
Fifth Life of a Catwoman by Kathleen Dexter (the 1$ book which I bought soley on the title. It amused me)

So in five days, 13 books have joined my collection, bring my TBR Pile up to a grand total of 145.

Also today I went on a Bookends hunt. Because I have so many books and I dont like having books doublestacked. Becauses it makes it hard to put new books into the collection, books are all different sizees, and I worry a shelf might collapsed or sag under the weight. So I decided that the top of both of my big bookshelves have a lot of space collecting dust (although some stuff bears sat up there too), so why not use that empty space for books, and just get bookends to keep the books from falling. What I didn't realize is how hard it would be to find bookends.

I looked in Chapters, thinking its a bookstore, so bookends would be in it. I didn't have much, only finding these big metal ones, that were kind of near, because one side of the bookend said "Book" and the other "ends". But it was 40$ and I wasn't paying more for bookends then it would be for a new bookshelf. The point was to save money and space. So I went to the Home Decor store next to Chapters. No luck. Went across the street to the mall, looked in 7 or eight stores, either stores that have everythign like Zellars or the Bay, or some home decor stores like Bombay and Green Earth. I tried gift shops. Nothing.

Then I went to the plaza just beside the mall, and it had a store Jysk. that sells desks, some furniture and home accents etc. They had some tiny, little bookends for childrens desk, but they wouldn't do for me, they're made more fore a few childrnes books. So I made one last attempt. The store beside that was "Solutions: The Organized Living Store". And I just decided to try and see. I searched the store and found my bookends. They're nothing fancy, they're those large black semi loop/ovalish shaped ones (they look like an upsidedown "U" with feet stick out in one direction) But thats all I really needed.

Yes some decorative ones, or ones that had something intersting on them would have been cute (I like those A - Z ones, or the ones that look like an old ancient, dust covered book). But for now, I just need somethign to hold my books up. 1.5 hours of searching later, and I found it. WHEW! So now all my books fit on the shelves, all are single stacked and organized nicely. And I now have extra space to add more books with out futher encrouching on the space for my DVDS which are allstacked and wedged together on 1 and a quarter of a shelf, because the books are taking over. With only one room at my disposal since Im living with my parents while I get myself a full time jobs, there isn't much free space for me. So this works great. And they were only 8 bucks, well just under, so that worked out well. Heres what my shelves look like now, although on the one shelf, I cut on of the rows off by mistake in the pictures. (Shelf 1 part 2 is missing part of the one row, Im not the best photographer, hmm maybe theres books on that? ;) ) 1st Picture is shelf 1 p. 1. 2ns picture is shelf 1p2.
3rd and 4th picture are shelf 2 parts 1 and 2 and the final picuture is the third shelf.