Saturday, July 31

Book Review: The Passage

Title: The Passage

Author: Jason Cronin

Pages: 766

Summary: First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately the world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is a long fight ahead and a future rule by fear - of darkness, of death, or a fate far worse.

As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted what he's done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered the apocalypse. Wolgasst is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors, but for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey - spanning miles and decades - toward the time and place where she must finish what should never have begin.

With the Passage, award-winning author Justin Cronin has written both a relentlessly suspenseful adventure and an epic chronicle of human endurance in the face of unprecedented catastrophe and unimaginable danger. Its inventive storytelling, masterly prose, and depth of human insight mark it as a crucial and transcendent work of modern fiction.

My Rating: 6/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I have a love-hate-relationship with this book, or maybe it’s a like-hate-relationship. I gave it a chance, I stuck through all 766 pages, there were parts that really interested me, but it did fall short of my expectations, even my lowered ones. And finding out it will be a trilogy, has be groaning, why? Because I’ll have to finish the rest of the series now, just to find out what happens next. Even knowing it won’t be as an enjoyable read as I’d prefer, even knowing all the same issues I have with this book, will likely be in the second and third, I’ll still finish the series. Where to start?

What I didn’t like. First of all, the authors writing style just fell short of a good book. I didn’t like how he told the story; I felt the dialog was awkward and at times choppy. I also felt that the way he told the story didn’t flow well together, it felt uneven which at times, made it difficult to continue reading the book. The author isn’t a horrible writer, but compared to similar books in the genre, the style of writing fell below par to what I expected.

I also found the book was far too long. Now, I love a good long book. If a book needs 2000 pages to get the story across, then yes, hand it over. But this book could have been about 200 - 300 pages shorter, if it hadn’t included the excessive amount of background sketches on the characters, many times of which were redundant sketches or pieces of information. Having some background on a character is one thing; in fact it is an important thing to include in a book. But having so much of it that it draws away from the main story line and having it become so redundant you’re about to chuck the book against the wall out of frustration, is another. Wolfgast and his ex wife, daughter is an example of this. It just kept reappearing, the author hinted at it early on what was going one with him, then told the reader, then told the reader again, then again. The background on the characters was just too much, to the point, it distracted from the story, and because there was so much, it was easy to forget or mix up the important information about those characters. Less is more, and this being a trilogy, the author could have spaced out this information more, showing more, rather than telling the reader about these characters. I think the author should have focused more on the plot, than the characters, as this type of story could do far better as a plot driven book, with the characters and their background as a secondary element. I felt the way the author did it was the characters had to much importance, which isn’t a bad thing, but they all keep dying off….. or do they?

Which leads me into another issue I had with the book; character deaths that weren’t really deaths. So there was an upside to this, some interesting twists. The down sides were, because it was done so much, certain “twists” weren’t as impressive, because the same thing kept happening; it was easy to no longer be surprised if a “dead” character came back. One character in particular coming back irritated me, but I won’t say more on this, because it will be a major spoiler, those of you who have read the book probably know what I mean. But because of this part, I actually had to flip back hundreds of pages, to see if I had missed anything, because it made no sense, I wish this part wasn’t in the book. The ending would have been great if it wasn’t in the book.

Also, the author constantly showed characters who were about to die, thought to be dead, or was good as dead, pops up later on, perfectly fine, a few chapters later. Yes, sometimes this is a good way to build up suspense, and there were some extenuating executions for some characters, but for the most part it was to easy, to convenient that every time a major character was in trouble and about to be dead, that something miraculous, or something unknown saved them. Perhaps there is some explanation that will be told in the one of the next two books, but I found it to be a little too unbelievable.

There were some redeeming qualities of the book, after all I stuck through all 766 ages of it. Although I wasn’t happy with the writing style of the book, the apocalyptic story, the virals and the main story line was interesting. The author has a strength in this regard, he has a very creative mind, and wrote a very interesting, tale. And it is a little different than other vampireish stories out there. If he focused more on the virals, the post-apocalypse, what different virals are, etc., the book would have been a lot better. He was able to build up suspense, and there were times I was involved in the book, wanting to find out more of what was going on with these creatures and some of the characters (excessive background information set a side, the characters in the present weren’t that bad, there past bored me, there present interested me.) I just wish the author focused more on this, and less on filler and unimportant stuff. It’s easy to get bored reading this, and the exciting parts were too spaced out. The cliff hanger ending was a good ploy. I give the author credit for that, he gives enough information throughout the book to grab your interest, and then leaves you hanging. So, even those who, like me, didn’t have the best experience with the book will have to finish off the series. Overall, not the best book I’ve read, in this genre, but it wasn’t horrible. It has potential to be a great book, but for me it just fell short.

Would I recommend it to read: Hmm, I’m not sure. I think a lot of fans of post-apocalyptic stories, and vampireish-zombie like creatures (not exactly sure what they are, some weird vampire-zombie hybrid is my guess), I think would enjoy the book for the most part. Although I think a lot of readers might get frustrated easily with some of the things I was frustrated with, it still is an interesting story, once you get through the annoying bits. But, it isn’t for everyone. I’d approach with caution.

What to read next: Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, The Hunger Games, so many choices here.

Challenges: Read ‘n’ Review, Pages Read, 10/10 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, Chunkster Challenge, Countdown Challenge, RYOB Challenge.

Book Review: City of Thieves

Title: City of Thieves

Author: David Benioff

Pages: 258

Summary: During the Nazis’ brutal siege of Leningrad, Lev Beniov is arrested for looting and thrown into the same cell as a handsome deserted named Koyla. Instead of being execute, Lev and Koyla ar given a shot at saving their own lives by complying with an outrageous directive: secure a dozen eggs for a powerful Soviet colonel to use in his daughters wedding cake. In a city cut off from all supplies and suffering unbelievable deprivation, Lev and Koyla embark on a hunt through the dire lawlessness of Leningrad and behind enemy lines to find the impossible.
By turns insight and funny, thrilling and terrifying, City of Thieves is a gripping, cinematic World War II adventure and an intimate coming-of-age story with an utterly contemporary feel for how boys become men.

My Rating: 8.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I really enjoyed this book, it was an intriguing read, and was a very unique story, set in a very familiar backdrop - World War II, which is a setting that I just can’t get enough of. For fans of the genre, this book won’t disappoint. A Great example of the effects on war, and an everlasting friendship built between two men, who are trapped in the midst of a war ravaged county trying to survive another day. It’s also a book that has a bit of bluntness and truthfulness in it’s story telling, not nearly as in your face as other books I’ve read recently (Paco’s story), but it was an interesting aspect to the story.

The writing style in the book is lovely, and flows well; the way it is told creates a very charming book. Even in some of the slower parts, the author’s voice comes through in the narrative and keeps the reader’s attention. I found it very easy to get lost in just the story telling of this book, it’s strong enough on it’s own that if it was the case the plot wasn’t that good it would have been worth reading, luckily both the plot and writing were wonderful, I think they complimented each other nicely.

This was a very different plot than what I’m used to for a WWII themed book. It’s starts off in a war ravaged city, but soon turns to the country and small towns of Russia, as the two main characters are trying to complete a near impossible task - find a dozen eggs. Now, I know what you’re thinking, I was thinking it too, what? But, I assure you, this story is a wonderful book, on two very different, very opposite men start out on a journey, and eventually create an everlasting bond of friendship, despite the obstacles and the never ending war being fought around them. On top of this, are the people they meet along the way, all of them are trying to survive another day during the war, on what little resources they have, and at times some of it is heart breaking, while at others will make you laugh out loud. It’s a book that will make you laugh, cry, smile, have you gripping the pages and cheering the characters on. Koyla was my favourite character, very charismatic and enjoyable to read. The author did a fantastic job at creating a book with a cast of characters that wills stay with the reader, even after the book is finished.

Only two small things I didn’t like, I would have liked it to be a little longer, and had it focus on some more historical aspects of Russia and the siege that took place there, and I would have like to known Koyla a little more, before he meet Lev. Although, this couldn’t happen because it was written in first person narrative, I still would have liked just a little more information on Koyla and his past. He was a very charismatic character, and I always found my self wanting to learn about him.

Despite the small issue I had with the book, it is one well worth reading. Overall a fantastic, well written read, and very memorable characters.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, and don’t be put off by the odd plot, it was such an interesting read. I don’t remember what possessed me to pick up this book originally. I think I was surfing Penguin’s website and saw it. I remember thinking it sounded very odd, but yet I went out and bought it, it surprised me, and I think it will surprise a lot of readers. Enjoyable read, and I think a lot of readers out there would really enjoy the book.

What to read next: The Book Thief, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, War on the Margins.

Challenges: Read ‘n’ Review, Pages Read, 10/10 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, Countdown Challenge, RYOB Challenge

Book Review: Paco's Story

Title: Paco’s Story

Author: Larry Heinemann

Pages: 210

Summary: Paco Sullivan’s story commences when his infantry company is sent to a fire base named Harriette, a place with a reputation for being as good as “going home and spending the night in the house where you grew up.” Despite precedent, a vicious firefight that becomes a massacre ensues. Paco is the only survivor - he is horribly wounded, a museum of wounds, left for dead nearly two days and discovered by a medic who is forever after incapacitated by his find.

We follow Paco back to the United States, where some years later he settles for washing dishes in a short-order restaurant. The Texas Lunch becomes the center of Paco’s life, along with the hotel where he lives. One provides the nettling companionship of his boss, a World War II veteran who likes the drink; the other, a young woman who continually reminds Paco that he is, in the minds of others, a curiosity, a souvenir - and worse But while apparently isolated, he is, strangely, literally haunted by the ghosts killed that day at Fire Base Harriette. Paco is chased and dispirited by the war, confronted by it every time he looks down at himself, or daydreams, of dreams.

This is a workingman’s tale, a vivid reminder that the young, blue-collar men of this country bore the deadly brunt of the long and unhappy Vietnam War. It puts forth endless ironies “more bitter than tongue can tell,” and both the ordinary and the almost unthinkable horrors of a G.I.’s life. As in other superb war stories of this half of the twentieth century, the richly detailed impact of the telling depends on frank language and blunt imagery.

My Rating: 7.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Overall, I enjoyed the book. It was very different than what I normally read, but it was an interesting change. I also enjoyed reading this along with a group, for the Vietnam Reading Challenge read-a-long.

One of the first things the reader is exposed to is the blunt truthfulness, of the narrator. He tells all and isn’t afraid to say it. He speaks with anger, swears up a storm, and makes sure the reader gets all the images - the good, bad, the scary - of Paco’s story. For much of the book, the narrator remains a mystery, and I thought it was someone completely different than it was, but I still loved how the author portrayed the narrator, it worked so well, and allowed the reader to get a good grasp on Paco and his story, as well as what was going through his head. (If you’d like to read about who I thought the narrator is, go to the discussion question posts, I’ll provide links below, but I’ll keep quite here, so I don’t spoil anything.)

The book isn’t your typical war novel. This one focuses more on what happens to those after the war, although it does flashback, sometimes very haunting flashbacks, to the war, it mostly focuses on Paco’s life after the war; how his past has affected his present and Paco trying to find himself again and his place in society. Which I felt was a well thought out theme, you could say for the book. Because, of what little of what I do know about this war, after it was over, there was so many soldiers whose lives where forever changed because of it, and little help was provided. Little was even told about it, they mainly just disappeared, and now those that are left are elderly and hushed up. This book brings that trauma up, and shoves it in the readers face. I got the feeling that the author was saying ‘Look! This is what happens! Something needs to be done, should have been done. This is the “secret” everyone knows, but won’t speak up about it!’ This aspect of the book was probably my favourite part of it, and I think that if this was the message the author was trying to point out, he did it very well.

There wasn’t any one thing I didn’t like. The story kept your interest, although some of the secondary characters bothered me. And, one scene in particular wasn’t one I was to found of, but I don’t think there is one thing that sticks out. For me it’s small little things, one of them being, that I would have like to know Paco a little more before the massacre. But overall a good read.
Would I recommend it to read: I would recommend it. It’s not a light book; there are some startling scenes, and uncomfortable ones. Violence and violent sexual themes are in the book, so if that is something you aren’t comfortable reading (although who isn’t?) this, then it may not be the book for you. One scene in particular bothered me (it’s talked about in my discussion posts). But for the most part it is a good book, truthful and blunt, but in a good way, and shows a very eye-opening look at what happened to many soldiers after they came home from Vietnam.

What to read next: Tim O’Brien is another talented author, who write a lot of books on the Vietnam war. I also find he writes with a bit of truth and bluntness. Not as much (as far as I experienced) as this author does, but still worth it. The Wars by Timothy Findley (WWI), is also a fantastic read.
Challenges: Read ‘n’ Review, Pages Read, 100+ Challenge, 451 Challenge, Support Your Local Library Challenge, War Through the Generations - Vietnam

Although the read-a-long is over, you can still read the discussion questions.
Follow my links to get to mine: Week 1, Week 2, Weeks 3& 4.

Follow this link to get to the Read-a-long website, (Hosted by the same people as the War Through the Generations Challenges) and be sure to check out the others' thoughts.

Friday, July 30

Book Review: The Bookshop

Title: The Bookshop

Author:Penelope Fitzgerald

Pages: 123

Summary:This, Penelope Fitzgerald's second novel, was her first to be shortlisted for the Booker Prize. It is set in a small East Anglian coastal town, where Florence Green decides, against polite but ruthless local opposition, to open a bookshop. 'She had a kind heart, but that is not much use when it comes to the matter of self-preservation.'

Hardborough becomes a battleground, as small town so easily do. Florence has tried to change the way things have always been done, and as a result she has to take on no only the people who have made themselves important, but natural and even supernatural forces too. This is a story for anyone who knows that life has treated them with less than justice.

My Rating: 7/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This novella was fairly good, but not my favourite read, the overall story was well done, and it is a quick little read. A good choice if you’re looking for a book about books themed read, or just a quick read on a rainy day.

My overall impressions are mixed; the author is good story teller, and the concept of the story interested me, but the cast of characters weren’t the most interesting. And some of them I despised for their actions. I liked the idea of the woman setting out, reaching for a goal and accomplishing it on her own (during this time 1959-1960, this was somewhat of a feat) which was creating her own little bookshop, (a dream I myself have), but there was just something missing, a little piece that would have made this a good book go to a fantastic book. It might have been because it was so short, so not a lot can happen, especially character wise, but I felt something was missing.

The author is a good writer. I don’t have anything bad to say about the writing style/storytelling. She managed to create a well rounded story, in such a short book. I’ll have to check out more of her books, and see if they are also novellas, because she seems to have a knack for it. Character development set aside, the book won’t be a disappointing story without it, but if you’re looking for a more character based book, this isn’t it. If you’re looking for a well written novella, than this is the book.

The ending was good, bad and sad all at once. I wasn’t disappointed with the ending, I think it worked well with the book, but I wasn’t happy with it, or more so the characters involved. I wanted to yell at them. And I’ve already said too much, if you want to know what I mean, read the book. It’s a great choice for the Bibliophilic Challenge.

Overall, it’s a good choice for a quick read, and a good book about books, and a woman who dared to open a bookstore.

Would I recommend it to read: If you're looking for a novella, or a book about books theme book then yes. It has strengths in both of those areas. If you're a person who enjoys character based/heavy books, than it isn't the best choice. Worth a try especially if you have an hour or two to kill.

What to read next: Hmm. I'm not sure. I'd say more books by the author.

Challenges: Read 'n' Review, Pages Read, 10/10 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, Bibliophilic Challenge, RYOB Challenge

Wednesday, July 28

Read-a-long: Paco's Story - Week 3 and 4

I combined weeks 3 and the final weeks questions into one post. Overall a good book, I'll post my final thoughts later. Again, this is for the Paco's Story read-a-long as part of the challenge War Through the Generations - Vietnam. Here's a link to the final weeks questions, and other bloggers thoughts, be sure to check them out.
Week 1 - Discussion Questions
Week 2 - Discussion Questions

Chapter 5

1. Is the identity of the narrator becoming more clear?

It has become more clear, as the mystery of who the narrator is has been solved (I was wrong. My theory was it was Paco, a part of himself or subconscious that detached himself from the rest of himself because of the trauma of war, and this part of him wanted to share his story. I always thought that Paco was so psychologically damaged (harsh words, but only thing I can think of) from living through those events, and having his team all die and be left behind, so I always felt part of Paco “died” their with them, and this part is now telling his story, following him along, and being Paco’s voice.)
Even though I was wrong about the narrator, I still enjoyed who the narrator was in the story, I think it worked out well and had a great effect on the reader.

2. What is it about the work at the Texas Lunch that makes it so easy for Paco to assimilate?
I think it’s work that takes little thought or effort to do is one of the reasons, the second is he can feel part of the team. Like in the army, everyone has a certain job (I think the explain the platoons individual jobs at some point, but I’m not sure if its in chapter 5 or if its in the last two chapters) either way, every member of the platoon had job to do, and it was a team effort, so he likely had the “belonging” feeling. He does his job, he helps his team. I think Paco gets the same feeling working at Texas Lunch, his job isn’t a spectacular one, but it’s a task that needs to be done so other members of the “team” can get on with their jobs. I think he gets a since of comfort knowing he’s accomplishing something.
3. What is the purpose of the dream sequences?

I think it shows how haunted by the events in Vietnam Paco truly is. They reply in wrapped sequences or seemingly wrapped unrelated events. Maybe it’s Paco’s subconscious trying to play out alternate scenarios, which all end in similar ways. Maybe it’s a way he tries to save him self and his team because this event didn’t happen, but this one did. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why he has his dreams, or if they have deeper meaning, because we don’t get to go that deep into the emotional and psychological character of Paco. But to sum it up, I think it’s mainly shows how Paco is continuously haunted by the effects of war, and he can’t ever escape it.
4. Why do you think Ernest and Jesse are so forthcoming with their war stories, but Paco is not?
I think part of the reason is they’ve had more time to recover from the traumatic events, so they’ve gotten past some of the darker moments. It could also be they have different ways to deal with the trauma they faced, and their way of dealing with the pain is to share it with as many people as possible, so others understand what happened out their, and what the soldiers are really going through. But for the most part, I think it’s mainly they’ve had more time to deal with everything.

Chapters 6 and 7
1. What is the significance of the rape scene? How does it change your opinion of Paco?
My least favourite part of the book, I’m not sure of the significance of it. I guess you could say it shows the “mob mentality” theory. It also shows yet another harsh reality of the wars, and how they saw the enemy and how they treated them. It shows a part of war everyone knows about but never talks about. The soldiers get away with a lot “out there” when they fight on the lines, and this is one of them. All the soldiers partake in this, because one all the others are doing it, and two because they’ll suffer consequences of it. (All though if you want to psych 101 it all, part of the significance could be that the “consequences” was they all died leaving Paco alive, and this is his punishment, not only is he living with the guilt of being the survivor, but perhaps this is what he gets for partaking in such a disgusting act.) Overall I think it was just another glimpse, of what really happens in war. It isn’t just groups of men shooting at each other, but heinous acts of crime, that during that time, had little to no consequences for those who committed those crimes.
As for Paco. Not impressed. I felt sorry for him up to this point, and part of me kind of thought, well that’s what you get you….. I’ll just say slime ball, and leave it at that. Overall, I had less sympathy towards Paco after that moment.

2. Cathy’s diary plays an integral role in Paco’s final decision. Why do you think it has such a drastic impact?
Even though I wasn’t to pleased with Paco at the moment, all I could think was, Cathy’s a bitch. I know these were her private thoughts, so they were never meant for Paco’s eyes, but seriously she was harsh. What exactly did this woman think? That Paco had these sexy scares and be like one of the guys in those romance novels? Naïve is one thing I have to say about Cathy and stupid. What part did this have in Paco’s decision to leave? I think it was the final nail in the coffin. He knew Cathy (at least for a while) was attracted to him, so I think Paco finally felt things were going to be okay, life will move on. Then reading Cathy’s true thoughts of him, he realized not only is he not ready to move on, but others around him aren’t ready for his “baggage.”

3. What are some of the similarities between Vietnam and Boone, Texas? Differences?

The only similarity I saw was what I said in an earlier discussion question, and it’s more about the work Paco is doing, and everyone having their own particular job. I can’t really think of any other similarity other than that.

Differences? Everything.

4. Were you satisfied with the ending? What are your overall impressions of the book?
Although the ending was a little ambiguous, as to what will happen to Paco next, I was happy about the ending. I think it fit right with the entire story, and how so much of Paco was a mystery, and still remains a bit of mystery. I would have liked to know if Paco ever got over the traumatic events, but looking back, I think I like how it ended, with Paco just escaping from life, and trying to find peace. It leaves a lot up in the air, but it made the book all the better, not knowing what will happen to Paco. It’s fitting with the theme of the book, and I think it worked out well.

My overall impressions? I’ll let you know in my review that I’ll post sometime this week.

Sunday, July 25

In My Mail Box - July 25

It's In My Mail Box time! Finally have some good things to share with you all. Also the first 30 seconds it the sound might be slightly out of sync. I was having issues last night with my camera, so I ended up doing multiple takes. But your hear to see the books anyways, so I guess it doesn't matter. As you may have guessed, it's a vlog, because I like doing vlogs.

If you want to join in the IMM fun, be sure to head over to see Kristi of the Story Siren, who hosts the event.

Books Mentioned

For Review:

Chef 2010 Jaspreet Singh - Bloomsbury, 2010 (I believe this was originally published in 2008)
The Sixth Surrender by Hana Samek Norton - Plume, 2010. (Book on sale August 2010)
The Jewel of St. Petersburg by Kate Furnivall - Berkley 2010 (Book on sale August 7, 2010)


Sea of Poppies by Amiav Ghosh
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

And that's it for this week, as I said in the vlog, be sure to come by next weeks, as I will have my something, really, really, really cool! So excited!

Sunday, July 18

Read-a-long: Paco's Story - Week 2

One of the challenges I'm participating in this year is The War Through the Generations: Vietnam Challenge. Which has the option of participating in the July Read-a-long, where we'll be reading Paco's Story. Click here for a link if you is to join.

Week 2
So far I'm really enjoying the novel, there's still a bit of a mystery behind Pac0, and I still can't figure out where this is going, or what is really going on in poor Paco's head. Here are this weeks discussion questions.

1. Do you think Paco is ready to rejoin the living and will he easily re-enter “normal” life?
I don’t think Paco has a choice, even if he isn’t ready to rejoin normal life, he has to anyways. For me its more of a question of whether “normal” life and society is ready for Paco, and others like him. And the answer is no. Paco is still scarred from the war, and I don’t just mean his physical injuries, but his psychological, now that he is “home,” he needs a means of survival and all he has is the clothes on his back and in his bag. No one (at least that we know of) has given him help, or steered him in the right direction. Which was one of the major issues of this war, that no one was prepared for the hoards of injured and recovering soldiers coming back home and needing a job and a place to live. There was no support for them, once they were well enough to leave the hospital they were on there own. So they had no choice but to rejoin normal life, even if they weren’t ready, and worst of all real life wasn’t ready for them. So they’re like a floater in the middle. Which I think Paco is display, and the author has portrayed perfectly. Normal life went on while he was away, and it is still going on when he comes back, but isn’t ready for him

2. How do you think the lively atmosphere of Rita’s Tender Tap affects Paco?
It’s overwhelming for him, as I said above, I don’t think he was ready to see that America is still living the way they are, when he has just come from war, and they can still joke and carry on like nothing has happened, when he has lost so much. I think part of him died in Vietnam, so seeing such a lively crowd when he’s barely there himself is shocking.

3. Do you think Heinemann made the right choice in narrator, or do you believe Paco should be telling his own story?
I have two theories of who the narrator is, one a ghost or two, Paco himself, who has detached a part of himself, from the rest of him. Either way, I think this narrator, whoever it is, is a perfect choice. I think we’d see a very different version of things if it were told by Paco in the first person or in any other way. To me the way the narrator is telling the story make it feel more believable, and makes the characters, especially Paco more real.

4. Do you think the side stories about the medic who found Paco, the bus driver, and Mr. Elliot, etc., add to the narrative or take too much attention away from Paco, who seems to hide in the background during these asides?
I’m on the fence on this one. On one hand, I want the story to concentrate more on Paco, I want to dig deeper into his story, so when it gets sidetracked from him I am disappointed. With that being said, I think it adds something to his character, because all of these characters we get to see a bit of a side story of, have a similar characteristic to Paco, which is they are all lost outsiders, trying to live life, all of which have had something significant affect them and bring them to where they are now, so I think it helps build on how Paco must feel like an outsider, who no one truly understands his circumstances or what happened to him.

5. How do you feel about Paco at this point in the book?

I wouldn’t say he’s a favourite character, but he is one I enjoy reading about. I find the mystery behind him and his circumstance intriguing and I want to find out more about him. I think there’s more to Paco then he’s letting on. I still have one theory, and I’m not sure if I’m right or not, but I’m anxious in reading more to find out if I’m right

Book Review: Secret Daughter: A Novel

Title: Secret Daughter: A Novel

Author: Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Pages: 346

Summary: On the eve of the monsoons, in a remote Indian village, Kavita gives birth to a baby girl. But in a culture that favors sons, the only way for Kavita to save her newborn daughter’s life is to give her away. It is a decision that will haunt her and her husband for the rest of their lives, even after the arrival of their cherished son.

Halfway around the globe, Somer, an American doctor decides to adopt a child after making the wrenching discovery that she will never have one of her own. When she and her husband, Krishnan, see a photo of the baby with the gold-flecked eyes from a Mumbai orphanage, they are overwhelmed with emotion. Somer knows life will change with the adoption but is convinced that the love they already feel will overcome all obstacles.

Interweaving the stories of Kavita, Somer, and the child that binds both of their destinies, Secret Daughter poignantly explores the emotional terrain of motherhood, loss, identity, and love, as witnesses through the lives of two families - one Indian, one American - and the child that indelibly connects them.

My Rating: 9/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This book was the July choice for an online book discussion group, initially I was unsure about the book and whether I’d like it. But it was chosen for this month, and because the library wait list was miles long, and the ebook version at my library also had a long wait list, I ended up running out to buy a copy of the book, so I could join in the book discussion group. I’m glad I did, as this was a wonderful book, beautifully written, and has a cast of characters that will make you laugh and cry.

The book has a lot of strengths, one of which is the author has an incredible ability to tell a story. Not only is she a talented writer, but she has done a fantastic job at creating her characters, making them and the world around them come alive off of the pages. At times, the characters’ emotions seemed to come alive off the page, at times I was near tears, well done on the author’s part. I love it when you can become so involved with the characters that it plays with your emotions that you hate it when certain things happen to them. The author did a fantastic job at doing this, and making the reader emotionally involved with the characters. Kavita and her story was what really grasped me, and Jasu, who also surprised me. I won’t say more abut Jasu, as I don’t want to spoil anything, but I eventually grew to really enjoy and respect his character.

Another aspect of the book I really enjoyed was the look at the Indian culture. The reader gets to experience a variety of aspects of Indian culture, from life in rural villages, to that of the life living in the larger city, and some eye opening, and shocking realities the characters face when they get there, the contrast between the slums of India was both interesting and very well written. The reader gets a solid look at the Indian culture, and the vast differences in class alone. On top of that they are also exposed to other culture aspects including; the division between the sexes, religion, food, and rights of passage. I think this is another reason why I loved the book so much and felt my self drawn into it, was because I was able to experience a culture foreign to me and learn a lot about the culture. At the same time, the reader is brought back to America, so it was an interesting contrast to see two very different cultures brought together by a group of related characters.

What I didn’t like? Somer and Krishnan, both of these characters bothered me a lot. I felt them to be selfish, ignorant, and at times stupid. I did feel horrible for what they went through at the beginning of the book, but I just didn’t like them. A lot of their actions, how they reacted to certain things through out the book, made it hard for me to like them. When they were both in India is one example, that entire part really bothered me, because they’re a couple of two very different cultures, yet neither one tries to learn about or teach the other about the Indian culture. And with them adopting a child from India, you’d think they’d make that extra effort. Overall, I couldn’t relate to or like these two characters. Although their story was interesting to read, the actual characters and their qualities bothered me.

With that being said, it was the only issue I took with the book; I enjoyed everything else about it and thought it was a wonderful story, full of emotion, characterization and gives the reader a glimpse at the Indian culture and it is well worth reading.

Would I recommend it to read: I would highly recommend this book to read, it really was a brilliant story, and a great summer read.

What to read next: The Memory Keeper’s Daughter might be a good choice, I’ve yet to read it, but it might have some similarities in addressing issues surrounding the family.

Challenges: Read ‘n’ Review Challenge, Pages Read Challenge, 10/10 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, Countdown Challenge, RYOB Challenge

Tuesday, July 13

Read-a-long: Paco's Story - Week 1

One of the challenges I'm participating in this year is The War Through the Generations: Vietnam Challenge. Which has the option of participating in the July Read-a-long, where we'll be reading Paco's Story. Click here for a link if you is to join.

Week 1's Discussion Questions

1. Who do you think the narrator is?
I want to say the narrator is Paco, possibly his self conscious or some part of him that has “detached” himself from his mind/body and is now looking at his life from the outside or maybe as an outsiders view.
2. What does the opening paragraphs of Chapter 1 tell you about the narrator?
That the narrator is bitter and about the war, he’s probably fought in the war and recently returned home. I got the feeling that he disagrees with either the war it’s self, or that he hates how people think war stories are about this glorified fighting, men being heroes etc, and that he’s experienced death and pain, action. Right near the beginning he states “This ain’t no war story.” I get the feeling the narrator, and many who ask his story on his return, never expected what they saw during the war. Overall bitter and anger is what I’m getting from the narrator. I have some ideas floating in my head about this, and I’m not far into the book, but I have a theory, but I won’t share that yet, in case I’m right. Don’t nee to spoil anything.

3. How do you think Paco’s survival impacted the medic’s world view? And how did that change the medic?
I was a little confused on this part, because the medic seemed to be pretty messed up on his world views before he even got to the medic. He seemed to have given up long before he got to Paco. And he didn’t seem to keen on helping him. I got the feeling the medic was hoping for a few wounds on a few different men. Not to see one person who barely survived and someone he “couldn’t help.”

Again, I don’t think the medic was changed by Paco, he seemed messed up long before hand. The only thing I can think of is he is realizing the harsh realities of war. Maybe (like many volunteers for the war) realize what “war” really is. And it’s not this romantic event like you read in books or see in movies.

4. Is Paco’s Story narrated in a way that is “too” honest?
No I don’t think it is. It catches you by surprise at first, on just how harsh and honest it is. But it’s refreshing to see something narrate this way. I think it adds something to the narrator and the story it’s self. I get the feeling the narrator is trying to make an important statement on war and what it does to someone, so he us using brutal honesty to do it.

More information on the Read-a-long.

How it will work: You read the designated chapter(s) and visit War Through the Generations on the Wednesday for the discussion questions

What you do: You read and then talk about what you’ve read so far and answer the discussion questions provided either in the comments on that Wednesday or on your own blog.

Here’s the schedule:
Week 1: Chapters 1 and 2 - Discussion Questions posted on July 7
Week 2: Chapters 3 and 4 -Discussion Questions posted on July 14
Week 3: Chapter 5 - Discussion Questions posted on July 21
Week 4: Chapter 6 and 7 - Discussion Questions posted on July 28

Tuesday, July 6

Book Review: A Jest of God

Title: A Jest of God

Author: Margaret Laurence

Pages: 215

Summary: In this celebrated novel, Margaret Laurence writes with grace, power, and deep compassion about Rachel Cameron, a woman struggling to come to terms with love, with death, with herself and her world.

Trapped in a milieu of deceit and pettiness - her own and that of others - Rachel longs for love, and contact with another human being who shares her rebellious spirit. Through her summer affair with Nick Kaazlik, a schoolmate from earlier years, she learns at last to reach out to another person and to make herself vulnerable.

My Rating: 6.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: First of all, the rating is low not because there was a lack of good writing. Margaret Laurence is a phenomenal writer. She truly is one of the “gems” of Canadian writers. There is just something about her prose that allows you to just become lost in her stories. And the story its self, what it’s about focusing on some important issues women face, during this time, what this women faced - feeling smothered by life, caged in by constraints of not being able to do what you wish and not shouting it out to those who are restraining you (work, mother, friends), is an important story to tell, and it was told well. I just couldn’t stand the protagonist.

For me Rachel was just not a character I could connect to or relate to. I didn’t feel sorry for her at all, which I think was the intention of the author. I wanted to shout at this person and tell her to grab the bull by the horns and take life in your own damn hands lady. And for this woman it wasn’t a stretch, for one, tell your mother off. Not in a mean way, but you are a grown woman, so allowing your mother to manipulate the way you feel and what you do needs to stop. At work, I understand her for “giving in”, I guess you could say. At the time the book takes place it was a “mans world” so sticking it to the man (no pun intended, well maybe a bit) could have caused her drastic consequences, but I couldn’t stand how everyone walked all over her. Also, one of her traits, which irked me, is how she constantly though everyone is concerned and judging her on what she does, wears, thinks and where she goes. That is a characteristic I really dislike. I know a lot of people have this to different degrees, but this woman was always so preoccupied with theses thoughts, I wanted to slap her and tell her to enjoy life and what’s happening around you. And the whole affair business bothered me. The guy was a scum bag, I guess in the end it helped her a bit, but I wanted rabid animals to attack him. I found him to be demeaning to her, and she couldn’t see it.

Perhaps all my issues with the protagonist, Rachel is a sign on how well the author did at creating her and telling her story, because I wanted something good to happen to her, I wanted her to come out of her cage, and be free. But, despite my own issues, this is a book that is well worth reading, a lot of others would enjoy it. I just didn’t get everything out of it I’d expected.

Would I recommend it to read: She’s a phenomenal writer, and I enjoyed The Stone Angel when I read it, so she’s worth reading, so I’d recommended her, highly in fact, this particular storyline just bothered me at times because of the protagonist, I couldn’t connect with her. I knew where the author was going, and thought she handled it well and set out a great point, I just couldn’t connect to the character to care enough about her, or be able to put my self in her shoes. Still worth reading, I think there are a lot of readers out there who would enjoy the book.

What to read next:
The other books in the Manawaka Cycle (The Stone Angel - Book 1, The Fire-Dwellers - Book 3, A Bird in the House- Book 4, The Diviners - Book 5.) As you may have guessed this is book 2.

Challenges: Read ‘n’ Review, Pages Read, 2nds Challenge, 10/10 Challenge, 100+ Challenge,
A - Z Challenge, Canadian Book Challenge, RYOB Challenge

Book Review: No Great Mischief

Title: No Great Mischief

Author: Alistair MacLeod

Pages: 283

Summary: Alexander MacDonald guides us through his family's mythic past as he recollects the heroic stories of his people: loggers, miners, drinkers, adventurers; men forever in exile, forever linked to their clan. There is the legendary patriarch who left the Scottish Highlands in 1779 and resettled in "the land of trees," where his descendants became a separate Nova Scotia clan. There is the team of brothers and cousins, expert miners in demand around the world for their dangerous skills. And there is Alexander and his twin sister, who have left Cape Breton and prospered, yet are haunted by the past. Elegiac, hypnotic, by turns of joyful and sad, No Great Mischief is a spellbinding story of family, loyalty, and the blood ties that bind us to the land from which out ancestors came.

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Wonderful prose and storytelling ability, Alistair MacLeod is yet another example of the excellent talent in Canada. What I enjoyed most about this novel was how it was told; MacLeod has an ability to be able to tell a story with incredible poise. I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly attracted me to this style of writing or how the story was told, but whatever it was, allowed me to become lost in Calum Clan’s family history

There are parts in the story, the trials and triumphs, that make you smile and break your heart (the Calum dog when they leave Scotland, parents on the ice, the dog again (that part really broke my heart). In any case, the author was detailed in creating a very realistic life and circumstances for his characters and setting. When reading this you can tell the author was very aware of how everything works in the world around his setting and characters, and how this affects how the characters interact with one another.

The author also does an incredible job at creating his characters and how his characters interacted with one another; he made them believable. You kind of get the feeling that you were picking up a memoir about an old Scottish Family, following their journey to Canada and the decedents’ journeys afterwards. The cast of characters, and their relationships were lovely, but I did find I didn’t love his characters; I didn’t have the feeling where I hated to see something bad happened to them. So although he did do a wonderful job with creating a cast of characters, they weren’t ones who I really fell in love with, but that was my only major issue with the book. For the most part, it was an enjoyable read, from a very gifted author.

Would I recommend it to read: Yes, I would recommend this book to read, especially if you enjoy reading books that focus a lot on the characters, their lives, and how they interact with each other, and of course their family history. With that being said, those who aren’t fans of books which focus mainly on these elements may not find the book to be interesting, wonderful example on excellent quality of writing, but I can see some who wouldn’t enjoy the book

What to read next: The Gathering, One Hundred Years of Solitude (this one because both books follow a family through generations and focus on the family and their histories)

Challenges: Read ‘n’ Review, Pages Read, 10/10 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, Canadian Book Challenge, RYOB Challenge

Monday, July 5

Book Review: The Year of the Flood

Title: The Year of the Flood

Author: Margaret Atwood

Pages: 431

Summary: Margaret Atwood's eagerly anticipated new novel is a testament to her remarkable literary mastery and imaginative power. Though set in the undefined near future, the novel reflects a world we very much recognize and poignantly reminds us of our own enduring humanity.

The times and species have been changing at a rapid rate, and the social compact is wearing as thin as environmental stability. Adam One, the kindly leader of the God's Gardeners - a religion devoted to the melding of science and religion, as well as the preservation of all plant and animal life - has long predicted a natural disaster that will alter Earth as we know it. Now it has occurred, obliterating most human life. Two women survived: Ren, a young trapeze dancer locked away in the high-end sex club where she works, and Toby, a God's Gardener who has barricaded herself inside a luxurious spa where many of the treatments are edible.

Have others survived? Ren's bioartist friend Amanda? Zeb, her echo-fighter stepfather? He one time lover, Jimmy? Or the murderous Paintballers? Not to mention the CorpSeCorps, the shadowy, corrupt policing force of the ruling powers. . .

As Adam One and his followers make their way through a changed world, Ren and Toby will each find their way out, leading to the novel's unexpected and affecting conclusion.

By turns dark, tender, violent, thoughtful, and uneasily hilarious, The Year of the Flood is Atwood at her most brilliant and inventive.

My Rating: 9.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This was another book I couldn’t put down, Atwood has done a spectacular job at creating this post-apocalyptic world, and setting up a fascinating story that leads up to it. The reader is taken from past to present, as they get a different view on what life was like for the people in this world, than what they got in Oryx and Crake. This time, the reader is taken to God’s Gardeners, a religious cult that forms together creating a very amusing and eclectic cast of characters. This group protects each other, nurtures each other, and through the sermons and songs of the leader and religious ideals, the reader learns of an event, a waterless flood, will come and wipe out humanity. And they were right.

As I read further into the book, I really started to care about the characters and their welfare, and because you only see two characters in the present day, you don’t know the exact fate of the others. Atwood spends a lot of time setting up the story that leads up to these events, and how the two protagonists get to where they are. She creates a very detailed explanation on their past lives, histories, and the histories of their friends, by the end you are itching to find out who survived, if anyone at all.

They story of what the past was like is told splendidly. Atwood writes an incredibly detailed picture, when at creating this haunting world. There doesn’t seem to be a single detail left out in this story, as she created her own world, that as some scary similarities at times with our own, and then she destroys it just as swiftly as she created it. Margaret Atwood never fails to disappoint me with her ability to tell and create a wonderful story. She has both amazing style to tell a story, making it believable, (even the far fetched) and in writing ability, together she forms a very haunting book that sends a powerful message.

I found the present parts of the story to move a little slowly, it isn’t to the last part of the book that it really starts to grip you; in fact I found it to fly by, as I read feverishly as the climax of events slowly became unveiled. (I can’t say to much more without spoiling you.) But for the most part, it’s the characters that make the book; the reader can easily connect to them, even with their little oddities. Also, through these characters there are glimpses at a few familiar faces from Oryx and Crake. And a few loose ends that left some questions in my mind were tied-up (although plenty more are now floating around. I did find that the character Ren, is one I didn’t like much. I found her to be naïve, although this added a different and unique point of view on what life is like, both in God’s Gardens, and out of it, I just didn’t like her as much. It definitely adds something to the story, but out of all the characters, I cared for her the least.

There wasn’t much about the book I didn’t like. I wanted to know more about who survived, and I felt the ending left to many unanswered questions, which can be a little unsatisfying, but it was still a great ending I just felt to much was left up in the air, although, perhaps there will be another book?

Overall it was a phenomenal read.
Would I recommend it to read: I would recommend this to read, and you don’t necessarily need to read Oryx and Crake first, I think you’d enjoy the book a lot better if you read the two books as companion novels. It’s a great example of dystopian/post-apocalyptic literature, and of course almost flawless writing and story telling ability.

What to read next: Oryx and Crake (if you haven’t read the book yet)
Challenges: Read ‘n’ Review, Pages Read, 10/10 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, Canadian Book Challenge, Countdown Challenge, RYOB Challenge,

Book Review: The Outlander

Title: The Outlander

Author: Gil Adamson

Pages: 388

Summary: In 1903, two vengeful brothers and a pack of bloodhounds track a mysterious young woman across the western wilderness. She is nineteen years old. Half mad. A widow by her own hand. So begins The Outlander, an original and wholly satisfying read.

My Rating: 9.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This book had a hold of me from the first paragraph, and from there I couldn’t put it down, I would have read it in one sitting, but I needed sleep. What a spectacular book! I look forward to seeing what else Gil Adamson has up her sleeve.

First of all the author has done a wonderful job at setting the scene, with lovely descriptions of the wilderness you could almost smell the trees. Also, the author is able to set up the mood of the scene with incredible prose, making the reader feel like they are standing right there at the sidelines, watching it all play out, feeling the emotions of the characters while doing so.

The story itself had me gripping the edges of the book with anticipation, as I waited to find out the truth behind what happened to the widow, what caused her to murder her husband, and will she ever be free from those who hunt her and her self. The reader follows along as the protagonist, usually referred to as the widow, tries to survive in the wilderness of the Canadian West, and the people who help her along the way, including the inhabitants of a mining village and of course the Ridgerunner.

The characters were also incredibly done, the author made them to be very believable and I found my self constantly wondering what would happen to them, rooted for some while others, I hoped for their untimely demise. The Ridgerunner intrigued me, he was an interesting character to say the least, and I wouldn’t mind reading a book solely about him. Also, watching the widow be able to survive in the wilderness, with little resources at her finger tips was incredible. The author is able to have her characters struggle and persevere through the harsh wilderness, but she does it in a way, that is believable.

Finally the ending I was both surprised and happy in how the book ended. I think if it ended any other way, I would have been disappointed, but it was done well. My only problem is also the ending; some things were left up in the air, there were a few lose ends I wanted to know more about the out come of. But that was such a small part of it, the rest of the ending, especially the last page I absolutely loved, and I wasn’t really expecting it, which was a bonus. Superb read!

Would I recommend it to read: Well, if you haven’t already guessed from my review, I would highly recommend the book. In fact, I think I’d even say this is a must read. I can definitely see some people who would be frustrated in how the story is told, the characters a generally referred to by “titles” such as the widow, the Ridgerunner etc. But I found this element to be different than what I usually see, and at times it kind of added an extra element to those characters, because I found for the most part, when the author did this, it was for characters who still were trying to find out who they were, lost identities I guess you could say. But well worth reading.

What to read next: Plot wise I’m not so sure, but I would suggest looking up some Canadian Women Writers, as I find there’s a lot of talent out there, and not with the big names either.

Challenges: Read ‘n’ Review, Pages Read, 10/10 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, Canadian Book Challenge, Countdown Challenge, RYOB Challenge

Also, I was able to meet the author a few months back at a London Reads event at my library and got to sit on on an author reading and discussion, and managed to talk quickly with her afterwards, and a bonus, got my book signed.

Book Review: Nights Below Station Street

Title: Nights Below Station Street

Author: David Adams Richards

Pages: 232

Summary: Nights Below Station Street is David Adams Richards's haunting chronicle of life among the working classes in a small northern New Brunswick mill town.

It is Christmas of 1972, and the novel centres on the Walsh family. There is the father, Joe, strong, cheerful and optimistic in the face of continuing unemployment. There is the wife, Rita, hard-working and willing to believe the best about people, and there is their teenage daughter Adele, whose explosive but caring relationship with her father wars constantly with her desire for independence. Richards uses his remarkable powers of observation and sympathy to delineate his character's wayward emotions and their inner lives.

My Rating: 6/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Although I liked the style of David Adams Richards writing, simple yet amazing prose, and his ability to give a clear picture on the life of the working class people, which was done incredibly well. I just couldn’t get into the book.

One of the reasons was that I disliked every character. I can respect that they were struggling with life; trying to make it to the next day, try to make the best with what they have, fight their own individual demons, and basically get through life with what they had. And there was a twist in the end I didn’t see coming, but I just couldn’t feel sorry for a single character and the predicament they were in. The story is a wonderful example of people who are just trying to live their lives the best they can with what they got, while the fight to step out of issues such as alcoholism (even if they fail at it) and make a better life for themselves and their family, but I couldn’t feel any emotion for any of the characters, to really get something out of the book and enjoy it.

Would I recommend it to read: It’s well written, I can say that, so I think there are some people who would enjoy it, so I might recommend it on that level, but I’m not sure it would be high up on my recommendation list. I have to other books by the author (part of a series), so we’ll see how things go. (The trilogies all have the same setting - working class people in New Brunswick - but from what I understand have separate characters with a few connections in the other two books).

What to read next: Evening Snow Will Bring Such Peace, For Those Who Hunt the Wounded Down (books two and three in the Miramichi Trilogy).

Challenges: Read and Review, Pages Read, 10/10 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, A - Z Challenge, Canadian Book Challenge, RYOB Challenge

Sunday, July 4

TSS - Canada Day Weekned Read-A-Thon Final Update

I haven't done TSS in ages. I keep meaning to, but the I keep pushing it off to later, then later then Sunday is over. So here I thought, this would be the perfect time to do it.

First of all I had a major reading rut for June, and because of it I failed two challenge. Ouch. One of which is The Canadian Book Challenge III. On July 1st, I signed up for The Canadian Book Challenge IV. To celebrate Canada I decided to read Canadian Themed book, focusing on Canadian Lit, (and because I had a bad virus all week, and part of the weekened, and couldn't do much but sit at home), I decided to turn it into a Canada Day Weekend Read-a-thon. Where all books I read for the weekend would be by Canadian authors/set in Canada or a combination of the two. (And some of you know this from my latest blog posts, twitter feeds and facebook status'). So now Sunday is just about over, and I have finished my mini-personal read-a-thon. And enjoyed it.

Not only did it get me out of my reading rut, and I got a leg up on The Canadian Book Challenge IV. I also read some amazing books, relaxed under a tree and just let my self get lost in some good reading, while enjoying the outdoors. Something I haven't done as much as I wish I could have. So without further ado, here are the final stats of the weekend.

The Stats:
- Total Books Read: 5 (1 more than what my goal was)
- Total Pages Read:15,49
- Total Books that made me thinkg why the heck did it take me this long to read this book: 2
- Female Versus Male Author Ratio: 3 female authors and two makes.
- Authors New to me: 3
- Reviews to come: 5 (remember when I said, remind me not to let my reviews stack up, that was well less than a week ago? DOH!)

The Books
1) Nights Below Station Street: David Adams Richards (6/10)
2) The Outlander - Gil Adamson (9.5/10)
3) The Year of the Flood - Margaret Atwood (9.5/10)
4) No Great Mischief - Alistair MacLeod ) (8/10)
5) A Jest of God - Margaret Laurence (6.75/10)

Over all feelings: I'm glad I did this last minute read-a-thon. For many reasons, including knock off some books on my TBR list that I likely wouldn't have read for a while. Both Nights Below Station Street and A Jest of God are ones I've been putting off. And there low ratings aren't due to poor writing, or storytelling, with both the problems I had were similar and that was characterization. But I will go more into that in my reviews. Let's hope my reading rut stays away and July can be another great month of reading.

Also I hope everyone had a safe Canada Day and Independence Day Weekends.

Friday, July 2

Last Minute Canada Day Weekend Read-a-thon! - Update 1

Here's my first update. I didn't read as much earlier today as I hoped, but I did manage to finish my second book - The Outlander, which I loved! So now on to book three which will be The Year of the Flood. A book I wanted to read since the cover first caught my eye when it came out. In fact, I wanted to read the book solely because I liked the cover, long before I knew who the author or title or plot. The other three parts just add onto my anticipation.

In case you missed it Here's my plan: Read as many Canadian Themed (Set in Canada or Written by Canadian Authors). As I can. Starting today Thursday July 1 - Sunday July 4. I have no goals really, but to enjoy some books, an hopefully feel better while I'm at it. And it will help me get some books into this challenge, which I failed twice now.

Currently Reading: The Year of the Flood

Progress: 2/? Books Read

Pages Read: 620

1) Nights Below Station Street - David Adams Richards
2) The Outlander - Gil Adamson

Thursday, July 1

Last Minute Canada Day Weekend Read-a-thon!

Okay, so this is last minute. I've been reading all day, and I choose a Canadian Themed book, by a Canadian, because today is Canada Day. I've also just signed up for the Canadian Book Challenge 4.
Since I'm under the weather, and can't do much this long weekend, I've decided to create my own read-a-thon, of Canadian Books, read during the Canadian Weekend. I'm doing it on my own. But if anyone wishes to join me then come on and read.

Here's my plan: Read as many Canadian Themed (Set in Canada or Written by Canadian Authors). As I can. Starting today Thursday July 1 - Sunday July 4. I have no goals really, but to enjoy some books, an hopefully feel better while I'm at it. And it will help me get some books into this challenge, which I failed twice now.

Happy Canada Day:

Currently Reading: The Outlander

Progress: 1/? Books read

1) Nights Below Station Street - David Adams Richards

June Wrap-Up !

June. It's June. The half way mark, and although I'm not exactly where I would like to be (I was hopping to have read at least 10 - 12 more books than I have read by this point), I am fairly happy with my progress. June was good and bad.

Bad in that I didn't read nearly as many books as I wanted, and I failed er.... didn't finish two challenges. The 3rd Canadian Challenge and All About the Brontes - although I was close to finishing the latter, I'm halfway through the last book choice, last night I realized while reading it was that I'd likely not be able to finish it, and if I tried, I might not enjoy the book as much. So I chose to fail the challenge. Le sigh. Also, I'd like to know why I can't seem to finish the Canadian Challenge - I'm Canadian, I own a large amount of books by Canadian Authors/Canadian Lit - but for what ever reason, I can't finish this challenge. I've been a blogger for almost two years, although because the challenge goes from July to July, I've participated in all three of the challenges, I still can't finish it. One reason I think I fail every time is creating a list - sometimes I'm just not in the mood for the book, but when you see that list you feel you need to read that book. Another reason, well I think because I have so many Canadian Books etc, I know they'll always be there, unlike books for other challenges that are hard to find, so when they fall into your hands, I read them right away and push back the others. So this year it will be different. I am participating in the Canadian Challenge (IV) and I am finishing this challenge! I will...... And since it's Canada Day I'm going to try to finish the current book I'm reading set in and written by a Canadian Author and perhaps start and finish another. :) (Or so I say for now)

Okay so I got a little sidetracked the good. Even though I only read five books, a lot less than I wanted, all these books were read between June 19 - June 28 or something like that. Yes, I'm slightly insane. So I'm proud I managed that, this month I'll space out my reading more and get more reading in and less procrastinating.

Favourite Book this month was Yellowknife, closely followed by Villette. My least favourite was Mistress of Rome.

Books Read:

1) Yellowknife by Steve Zipp 8.5
2) The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories - Ernest Hemingway - 8.25
3) The Mistress of Rome - Kate Quinn - 6.75
4) Villette - Charlotte Bronte - 8.5
5) The Sisters from Hardscrabble Bay - Beverly Jensen - 8/10


So this month I did fail two challenges as I said above. The 3rd Canadian Challenge, reading only 8/13 books. And All About the Brotnes reading 2/3 books. DOH!

But, I did manage to finish one challenge, which was What's in a Name? III all 6 books. Total challenges I've completed so far are: 7/37 + failed 4/4.

Oh, I also failed two mini challenges, because I forgot I was participating in them. Opps.

Challenge Progress

Read 'n' Review - 41 Books
Pages Read - 11, 834/50,000

2nd's Challenge - 4/6
10/10 Challenge - 41/100
18th and 19th Century Women Writers - 2/3
100+ Challenge - 41/100
451 Reading Challenge - 0/7
A - Z Challenge - 31/52
Bibilophilic Challenge - 2/6
Centuries Challenge - 2/?
Chick Lit Challenge - 0/8
Chunkster Challenge - 1/4
Countdown Challenge - 28/55
Decades Challenge - 3/10
Ebook Challenge - 0/6
Fantasy Challenge - 1/6
Flashback Challenge - 0/6(+?)
Finish that Series Challenge - 0/3 Series
Global Reading Challenge - 11/12
Jane Austen Challenge - 0/4
The Marple Poitot Holmes Challenge - 3/6
Reading Through the Seasons Challenge - 1/4
Reading Western Europe Challenge - 5/12
RYOB Challenge - 15/50
Support Your Local Library Challenge - 26/50
TBR Lite Challenge - 0/6
A Tournament of Reading - 0/3
War Through the Generations: Vietnam - 1/5
Women Unbound Challenge - 3/8

Mini Challenges:
Leo Tolsty Mini Challenge - 0/2
French Revolution Challenge - 0/2
Wilkie Collins Challenge - 1/2

Countries Visited:

This month I managed to visit a new country, although briefly, which was Tanzania. Also visited, Canada, USA, Belgium, and Italy/Rome.

visited 33 states (14.6%)
Create your own visited map of The World

Books added to my collection

Chapters is partially to blame for this and there awesome sales.

Books for Review:
Sisters from Hardscrabble Bay
The Book of Human Sking

Prelude to Foundation
Second Foundation

Books that Followed Me Home
The Age of Innocence - Edith Wharton
Half a Yellow Sun - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War: Max Brooks
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel - Michael Scott
Death with Interruptions - Jose Saramango
The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet - Jamie Ford
The Unvanquished - William Faulkner
The Boy in Stripped Panamas - John Boyne
The Heroines Eileen Favorite
The Help - Kathryn Stockett
The Witch Doctor's Wife - Tamar Myers
City of Thieves - David Benioff
Three Day Road - Joseph Boyden
Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
Mr. Timonthy - Louis Bayard
The Bookshop - Penelope Firzgeral
The Graceling - Kristen Cashore
2666: A Novel - Robert Balano
Foucault's Pendulum - Umberto Eco
Across the River and into Trees - Ernest Hemingway
The Passage - Justin Croin
The Scarlet Letter - Nathanial Hawthrone (Already owned, but lent to a friend 5 years ago, and it was never returned)
Wasp Factory - Ian Banks
The Various Flavours of Coffee - Anthony Capella
Forgotten Garden - Kate Morton
The People of Book - Gerldine Brooks

Alot more books added. Sigh.

Also, on a final note