Thursday, September 30

Book Review: The Color Purple

Title: The Color Purple

Author: Alice Walker

Pages: 258

Summary: Published to unprecedented acclaim, The Color Purple established Alice Walker as a major voice in modern fiction. This is the story of two sisters - one in a missionary in Africa and the other a child wife living in the South - who sustain their loyalty to and trust in each other across time, distance, and silence. Beautifully imagined and deeply compassionate, this classic novel of American literature is rich with passion, pain, inspiration, and an indomitable love of life.

My Rating: 9/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: A wonderfully written story of friendship, love and sisterhood, this book was a lovely read which has me wondering why it has sat on my shelves as long as it has.

The story is written by a collection of letters to God, (and from one sister to the other) by the main character Celie, as she tells life story and personal anguish after being separated from her sister, the hardships she faces as a wife of a man who doesn’t love her or respect her, and her life as an African-American woman in the south, as she finds love in unexpected place, and learns to love her self. The reader can really feel the emotion come out of the letters of this character, I have to say, it is not a very up lifting book at times, and can be depressing, but it evolves into something so much more. The loving friendship between Celie and Shug was so well told and depicted throughout the story, their friendship and love for each other really came out through the pages, and was incredibly well done. It also helped emphasize some of the main themes in the book, loving your self, each other, sisterhood, and eventually, standing up for ones self.

The book also follows Nettie, who is a missionary in Africa. Unlike her sister, she has faced less hardships in her life, has more education and better opportunities given to her. She also has a very different outlook to what life is like and what is out there for African-American women, rather than just being a house wife, but something more, something important. She never gives up hope that her letters will reach her sister, and tells stories of her life as she helps teach children in Africa and works with a group of missionaries in a small village. It’s a very interesting contrast, and I like how Nettie manages to bring hope for Celie and for some of the villagers - on what a woman can do, no matter how small a roll they may play, or how subtle that roll may be.

The look at life for African-American particularly women in the southern states, was also well done. The author made sure every aspect and truth of it was pulled up into the readers face. The author managed to be upfront about it, but not allow it to interfere with the story’s main themes of love, friendship, and sisterhood.

What I didn’t like, well very little I have to say. I was surprised at first about how the story was told, and I was unsure if I would be able to enjoy it as much as I did, but once I got used to it, I thought it worked out very well. I don’t think the reader would have had the same sense of how the characters relationships worked together if it was not told this way. But, it did take a while to get used to. The second issue I had was it took me a while to get used to Celie’s language/writing. Since she is a poor, un-educated, African-American woman, her language skills are lacking, I always have trouble wrapping my head around accents, and broken language when it is like this. It’s an essential part of the book, don’t get me wrong, but I do find it does take a while to get used to.

Overall, a powerful story of love, friendship and sisterhood, and overall a lovely read

Would I recommend it to read: Yes, I highly recommend this book to read. Not only is it a well written, well told story, but it is also a book that has appeared on the banned books list numerous times, and I think it’s important to speak up for these books, and continue to encourage people to read them. You never know what gems you’ll find.

What to read next: Since I read this as part of my banned books week, I’m going to list other banned books. One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest, Catcher in the Rye, Beloved.

Challenges: Read ‘n’ Review, Pages Read, 10/10 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, A-Z Challenge, RYOB Challenge, Women Unbound Challenge

Tuesday, September 28

Banned Books. Read, Think and Speak up!

It's Banned Books Week, and I don't think there's a book blogger out there who hasn't heard of this week. But for anyone who isn't familiar with this week, this is an annual event, where each year from September 25 - October people everywhere celebrate their freedom and ability to read what ever they choose. This also helps spread the word and aims to prevent censorship of books, book baning, book burnings (sad thing is they still happen).

Book Banning and Book Censorship is something I am very passionate about. It irks me beyond belief when I read another story about how someone is trying to have a book removed from the library, bookstores and from school reading lists, because people disagree with it's contents. Or it is deemed inappropriate. As a library technician and bibliophile I think it's important to support mine and others freedom to read. No one should control what another person reads. Of course there are books out there I don't agree with, books I find morally disturbing but, I have no right to prevent others from reading those books.

In a world of hundreds of different religions, cultures and personal beliefs, attempting to ban a book because it puts religion/culture/belief X values over religion/culture/belief over Z value is one of the most ridiculous reasons for wanting a book pulled off the shelves.

Questioning a books age appropriateness is something I can understand parents wanting to do. Although I find many jump the gun to soon, and underestimate a books true intentions. Or listen to rumours and not bother to read the book them selves. As the title of this post says Read and Think. And I encourage all readers to do this, really think about what you're reading, before you try to have it removed from shelves. And Speak up for books that are in fire, and are being questioned for it's content. Don't let others choose what you read. And please, keep reading!

Okay, so stepping down from my soap box now! It's taken me since Saturday to get the words out properly. And there is so much more I want to say, but I tend to get over emotional and angry with this topic at times, especially after reading some of the most recent attempts at censorship that have happened this past week. But I want to put this in a positive light, and really show people what book banning is, and that even in the twenty-first century, still happens.

So as I celebrate this week, I'm reading only books that have been banned or challenge. I'm also showcasing these books, and a book or group of books each day on Facebook. Reviews of the books I read will be on my blog. For anyone who wishes to see what I've posted on Facebook, please feel free to add me. I'm Julie Dobson or for email. Just let me know who you are when you add me.

Books I've showcased so far(this week):

The Color Purple by Alice Walker, which I have already finished reading

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, which I'm currently reading

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien and Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (dual showcased of the day), which I've read in the past, but want to show an example of books that are trademarks of today's culture have also been victims of bans, challenges and burnings (2001 Tolkien's books were actually burned by a group. See the ALA - Banned Book Week Website.)

I hope to read more banned books before the week is done. I will update the post with what I've read/showcased on Facebook. I've read many banned/challenged books in the past, and I plan on doing it in the future. I encourage you all to do the same, and to fight against censorship. Fight for your freedom to read, and as always happy reading!

Also check out the ALA Website that talks about banned books, including lists, information and history of this event and the books that are often banned/challenged. ALA - Banned Books Week

Monday, September 27

Books that Followed me Home

So books that followed me home, is a spotlight I do on my blog, that showcases books that "follow me home." Basically it means it's the books I bought, but this way sounds better. Especially when people inquire about the amounts of books I buy.

This book run was a bit themed, where I bought some books from the Banned Books List. As this week is Banned Books Week and part of my celebration of it or promotion of freedom to read, is to read books from the list. The secondary theme of this batch is Paranormal, as I bought two books from that genre for the Smart Chicks Kick It Tour. More information about this is on the post below this. So I made sure to buy a few books as well. Not a bad haul this week, I have to say.

So here are the books I bought this time around.

The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafón (This book isn't a banned book, but its plot surrounds book censorship, book burning, so I thought it fitting for banned book week. Also a book club I hope to join has chosen this book for October.

Jezebel - Irene Nemirovsky

Beautiful Creatures - Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (Book from the Smart Chicks Kick It Tour)

Stolen - Kelly Armstrong (Book from the Smart Chicks Kick It Tour)

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesey (One of my Banned Books Choices, I never read it in high school so thought it was time I did)

The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway (Another banned book choice, currently reading it now)

So, there are the books that followed me home. If you want to participate, go right a head, just link back to my blog and leave a comment in the comments section so I can see what books followed you home.

Also, stay tuned as I hope to have my Banned Books Week Post soon. I've been doing daily posts on Facebook about banned books, showcasing the book I'm currently reading, I'll post this on the blog tomorrow.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, September 26

Smart Chicks Kick It Tour - Brampton

A new Bramptonite (or is it Bramptonian?) so I'm not that knowledgeable in what my new city has to offer in entertainment, particularly the kind that surrounds books. So I was surprised and happy to hear that the city would be the last stop of the Smart Chicks Kick It Tour. It was also the only Canadian stop the tour made. So I headed down to my local chapters, where the event was hosted to join in the fun.

I've only read one book by Kelly Armstrong, but her book got me really interested in Paranormal Fiction, for both adults and young adults, so I figured, why not go to an event that has other authors who write similar books? I decided to restrain my self in the bookstore (and for once, was actually successful) and only purchased one other book by one other author there. I pretty much just looked over all the novel titles of the other authors, and picked one. I picked Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, I also picked up Stolen, the second book in the otherworld series by Kelly Armstrong. So two books in toe, surrounded by hundreds of young adults, and standing in line that wrapped around the entire store, waiting.

At this branch of the tour the following authors attended. Alyson Noel, Kelley Armstrong, Melissa Marr, Melissa de la Cruz, Jeri Smith-Ready, Jennifer Lynn Barnes & Margaret Stohl.

The discussion was good, although standing in the stacks, I missed out on a lot, sometimes hard to hear. But, it was nice to see (well hear) how enthusiastic the authors were. I can't tell you how awesome it is to see authors do this. I wish they had events like this when I was a young adult. It's also amazingng to see so many young adults reading. I may not agree with some of their opinions of the best book ever (Twilight? Blech), but they're reading, they're enjoying what they're reading and sharing this passion with others. Still, I felt a little old for the crowd, as I was a good ten years older then any of them. Luckily, I somehow, by some miracle found myself standing beside two other adults, who love YA Lit, so I had a good conversation, and they along with a few young adults, got talking and now have me interested in a whole hoard of books. I apologize to my bookshelves in advance. Some are by the authors there, and others like Hush, Hush, are being added to my TBR list. I'm sure I'll be checking out all the authors who attended the tour and their books too. My library card and bank account won't know what hit them. Again, sorry bookshelves.

So I managed to get two books signed and three book marks. The books that I got signed were

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, only Margaret was there to sign at this branch, but she was amazing, she ended up walking through the line, signing books and chatting with us all. I even managed to snag a picture with her. Which was fantastic. She was very friendly and I look forward to reading her (and Kami's) book.

I also meet Kelly Armstrong again, (I met her at Fan Expo in August) she remembered me and commented on how I wasn't in costume. (I was dressed in a Stargate Atlantis Costume for the sci-fi convention. What can I say, I'm a huge geek, and proud of it). But I did thank her, as her book got me into a genre I never really expected to like. I've always shied away from paranormal/paranormal romance, but I found I could really enjoy the genre. So really good job on her part.

I also got three bookmarks signed by Melissa Marr, Jeri Smith-Ready and Jennifer Lynn Barnes. I've been recommended Melissa's Marr's Wicked Lovely serious by a lot of friends. I've never heard of Jeri Smith-Ready or Jennifer Lynn Barnes, but both authors books sound interesting, I will be checking them out soon. (I do have a 24 hour read-a-thon coming up. I will need something to help me stay awake).

Overall a fantastic time at the tour. I'm glad I went and hope to see it again next year. I can't thank the authors enough for doing it for us, the fans. I hope more authors follow suit.

Take a look at the website for more information on the tour Smart Chicks Kick It!

Friday, September 24

Book Review: Coastliners

Title: Coastliners

Author: Joanne Harris

Pages: 351

Summary: The island, called Le Devin, is shaped somewhat like a sleeping woman. At her head is the village Le Salants, while the more prosperous village La Houssinière lies at her feet. You could walk between the towns in an hour, but they could not feel further apart, for between them lies years of animosity.

The townspeople of Les Salants say that if you kiss the feet of their patron saint and spit three times, something you’ve lost will come back to you. And so Madeleine, who grew up on the island, returns after an absence of ten years spent in Paris. She is haunted by this place, and has never been able to feel at home anywhere else.

But when she arrives, she will find that her father - who built fishing boats that fuelled the town’s livelihood - has become even more silent than ever, withdrawing almost completely into an interior world. And his decline seems reflected in the town itself, for when the only beach in Les Salants washed away, all tourism drifted back to La Houssinière.

Madeleine herself has been adrift for a long time, yet almost against her will she soon finds herself united with the village’s other lost souls in a struggle for survival and salvation.

My Rating: 5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I wasn’t very impressed with the book. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t like the book either. The plot sounded interesting, but fell short of my expectations, and then fell short of my lowered expectations. I found the writing style to be flat, especially in comparison to another novel I read by Harris, Blackberry Wine, which had an amazing style of writing and story telling ability, this one just didn’t have that.

The plot was choppy, nothing seemed to fit well together, it all seemed like the author just threw a bunch of events together, in a small town, some connected, but they just didn’t have any flow, or seemed to work with the story as a whole. I kept reading, hoping that something would come out of it to make it all connect, but nothing did. The ending was a non-ending, it just ended.

The characters weren’t interesting and they all seemed to have the same personality. The main character Mado, was one of the most annoying, frustrating and useless main characters I’ve encountered in a long time. She was always about her, everyone’s decisions; actions words always (in her mind) were out to get her, to leave her out, etc. It made for a very frustrating read at times. I still finished the book, but at times her character alone made me want to give up on the book.

There were a few things that were good about the book. Harris can paint a very accurate picture of small town life - culture, personality, scenery, rivalry - in a nice little package. The author does have one strength; which is creating a picture-perfect example of small town life and all of its inhabitants. I just wish the rest of the book was as well done as this. Overall, not the best book I’ve read, and much prefer Blackberry Wine.

Would I recommend it to read: Not sure on this one. I’d probably lean towards the no and recommend reading one of her other novels.

What to read next: I enjoyed Blackberry Wine, by the same author, and have heard great things about Chocolat, so you could start there. Lace Reader would also be a good companion book if you liked this one.

Challenges: Read ‘n’ Review, Pages Read, 100+ Challenge, Reading Western Europe, Support Your Local Library Challenge

Wednesday, September 22

Library Loot - Sept. 22 - 28 2010

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky (This week it can be found at the Adventures of an Intrepid Reader) any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

New city, new library! I just got my new library card over this past weekend, so of course some books had to follow me home. I'm still undecided about my library, I may end up paying extra money to use one of the other two library systems near me. It will be an annual fee, but they have far better resources, collection and programs. I'll still give it a chance, and it hasn't stopped me from grabbing up some good loot this visit. Here's what I got

Coastliners by Joanne HarrisThe Glass Blower of Munro by Marina Fiorato

Passiondaele - Paul Gross (Based on the Screenplay)

World of Wonders - Robertson Davies

Madame Bovary -Gustav Falubert

So that's what I got this week from my Library. Happy reading.

Monday, September 20

Book Review: Chef: A Novel

Title: Chef: A Novel

Author: Jaspreet Singh

Pages: 248

Summary: Kirpal Singh is riding the slow train to Kashmir. With India passing by his window, he reflects on his destination, which is also his pat.: a military camp to which he has not returned in fourteen years.

Kirpal, called Kip, is shy and not yet twenty when he arrives for the first time at General Kumar’s camp, nestle in the shadow of the Siachen Glacier. At twenty thousand feet, the glacier makes for a forbidding battlefield; its crevasses claimed the body of Kip’s father. Kip becomes an apprentice under the camp’s chef, Kishen, a fiery mentor who guides him toward the heady spheres of food and women.

In this place of contradictions, erratic violence, and extreme temperatures, Kip learns to prepare local dishes and delicacies from around the globe. Even as months pass, Kip, although he is a Sikh, feels secure in his allegiance to India, firmly on the right side of this interminable conflict. Then, one oppressively muggy day, a Pakistani “terrorist” with long, flowing hair is swept up on the banks of the river and changes everything.

My Rating: 7.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Wonderfully written, the story allows the reader to take a small glimpse of one man’s past.

Overall I enjoyed the book, it was a little slow moving at times, but for this book it was a good thing. I enjoyed the sleepy feeling the reader got as a tired man traveling on a train reminisced about his life as he returns to a place he left so long ago. The story was interesting, as he told it slowly, but detailed accounts to what happened at a war camp, what he learned, and some of his regrets to his actions or what he saw there. I think this whole aspect of the book was very well done, I enjoyed following along with the narrator, reading his life story, it was interesting, and as I said above, slow moving, but still kept a good pace to keep the reader engaged into the book. The author is also an extraordinary writer, he has an excellent writing style - almost lyrical at times, making for an enjoyable read.

What I didn’t like was that because the narrator was telling two stories at once; the present and the past, I found it to be a little jumpy at times, and sometimes even confusing when you were trying to figure out what was happening. Now, this can be somewhat explained. due to some circumstances at the beginning of the book (I won’t say, to avoid spoilers.) Which if this was the author’s intention, was a great ploy for the book, but even if this is the case I found that the past and present bled together at times, which made it hard to figure out where each storyline began and ended.

Overall, it was a well written book, and an enjoyable read.

Would I recommend it to read: I would recommend this book to read. It can be slow at times, and as I said above, the plot can be jumpy/blend into the past and present, which can be confusing, but it was still a very well done book. Excellent writing style, making it well worth reading.

What to read next: The Piano Tuner, The Gathering, No Great Mischief

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

This book was given to me curteosy of LibraryThings Early Reviewers program.

Thursday, September 16

Book Review: The Book of Human Skin

Title: The Book of Human Skin

Author: Michelle Lovric

Pages: 500

Summary: The Book of Human Skin, set in the early nineteenth century, is a vivid portrait of characters relentlessly, sometimes sensationally, caught up in one another's machinations.

A chorus of five very different voices tells the tale of Marcella Fasan, who is condemned to live fiction lives - cripple, madwoman, nun - as the result of her brother's livid jealousy, a loyal servant's prevarications, her lover's poverty, an the dangerous delusions of a holy anorexic. Marcella's adventures straddle the Old World and the New: her journey takes her from Napoleon's shamed Venice to the last picaresque days of colonial Peru. This is a novel about unmigrated villainy, love beset by obstacles, quack medicine, Christian fundamentalism - an a very unusual kind of bibliomania.

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This was a very unusual read for me, and it did take me a while to get used to the narrative of the novel, that was a bit slow to start. Despite all of these initial issues with the book, it was a fantastic read. Something, pulled me into it, and at times I didn’t want to put it down. Perhaps it is because there are multiple voices telling a story, almost like glimpsing at pieces of journals of people who lived long ago (at least I felt this way after I got used to the narrative.) Either way, I was pulled in by the story and its characters - despite their personalities, which had waiting for them to get what was coming to them.

Lovric can tell a great story; this was a well though out book, with some lovely descriptions of Venice and Peru life. She was detailed in her historical fiction, although things altered to make for better reading, I thought she did an incredible job at researching the background and historical events and peoples of the book, and bring those to life in the book. At the end there were several pages describing the different historical events, people, places and items she had in the book, and where she got them, or who/what inspired her. Well done in that department.

The characters made the book. Each had a distinct voice and personality in the book, which was consistent to that character throughout. And boy can she write some truly insane, cruel characters, you just love to hate. I don’t think there was a character I adored, although some of them I liked better than others, it was the evil ones I loved to read about, to see what new thing they’d try next. The nun, Sor Loreta, was a very unusual character. I don’t think I ever encountered a character like her in my readings before, and not sure I would ever want to. But, she was a very unique character to read about.

Each of the five main characters tell the story, which surrounds the life of Marcella Fasan. I thought this was a clever ploy, as each character had a different insight on the world, and brought something to the book and story. Each characteralso had their own tone and “language” so to speak. When they wrote, you could almost here the character’s voice, their accent, their education level. It was well thought out, but this is also what nearly turned me off the book to begin with, and I think what could be problematic for other readers out there. I found being thrown into the book with the constantly switching narrative, and the stories not yet linking together from these five different narratives hard to follow. It was difficult to get through at first, and hard to see where the author was going. It lasted a good 100 pages for me. But, the book turned out to be a great read, so I’m glad I stuck it out. Something about it pulls you in, and no, the book is not bound in human skin (thankfully), but it does have a small subplot on collecting books of skin, which will make you cringe.

Overall despite some early problems I had with the book, it was well worth reading and a great example of historical fiction.

Would I recommend it to read:

What to read next: I'm not sure on this one, a very unusual book, that's for sure. Although it has perked my interest to want to read more books set in South America during the time. So I'd start there.

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

I received this book as part of LibraryThings Early Reviews Program.

Tuesday, September 14

Book Review: Bitten

Title: Bitten

Author: Kelly Armstrong

Pages: 422

Summary: Elena Michaels is the world’s only female werewolf - and she’s tired of it. Tired of a life spent hiding and protecting, tired of a world that not only accepts the worst in her - her temper, her violence - but requires it. Worst of all, Elena realizes she’s growing content with that life, with being that person. Overwhelmed by the new passions coursing through her body, Elena leaves the Pack and moves to the city to try living as a human. When the Pack leader calls to ask her help for fighting a sudden uprising, she only agrees because she owes him. Once this is over, she’ll be squared with the Pack and free to live as a human. Which is what she wants. Really.

An erotically charged thriller, Bitten will awaken the voracious appetite of every reader, as the age-old battle between human and beast comes to a head in one small town and within one woman’s body.

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I have to say, this book surprised me. As a new reader to the paranormal/paranormal romance genre, and going little reluctantly, as the little experience I have had with the genre mixed in with reviews I and some blurbs I have read, I’ve been unsure if the genre was for me. Despite these previous experiences, I ended up enjoying the book, and look forward to reading the rest of the series, Armstrong is a great story teller, and has done a spectacular job at creating an interesting, dark and witty story - a great introduction to her Otherworld series.

As I said above, I’m a new reader to the paranormal/paranormal romance genre. I’ve thought about trying the genre out, but I find, that it focuses too much time on the romance of the stories, and not enough time on the background story of the paranormal creatures - a look at their psyche, their world, their background, their history etc. Armstrong, managed to find a balance between the two, which had me at times, hooked to the pages, and anxiously waiting to find out what happens next. Armstrong, has created a very interesting cast of characters, although we only learn a little bit about them, I’m sure we’ll find out more, later in the series. Jeremy is a character I hope to learn more about in the future. What I liked the best was how well she created her paranormal creature, in this case werewolves. It was refreshing to see that they weren’t indestructible, that they had human qualities, but still an animal side, it made them seem a lot more believable. It also just made for a better read, because you knew, your favourite character, even with his super-werewolf strength could still be killed, quite easily as a human. They have their advantages, but they are still flawed like the rest of us.

I also enjoyed her overall writing style, Armstrong a combination of whit, fun and sarcasm mixed into her books, it made for a good read. She was also very good at dialogue, and ensuring each character d a voice and personality, I didn’t find, like I have with other books in the genre, that there were only one or two different character types, but a cast of characters, that come together nicely. Armstrong also did a very good job at creating a suspenseful climax, and throughout the book.

What I didn’t like. Part of my, reluctance to the genre is that I often find some of the sexual scenes are a little to Harlequin romance for my liking. Although I found Armstrong handled hers a little better than other authors I have read,I still found some scenes a little on the Harlequin side, I rather have a few less romance scenes and more action. Another thing I didn’t like was Elena. I found her to be a little immature at times, judgemental, and weak at times. She wasn’t a bad person, but a lot of the things she did, how she portrayed herself, got on my nerves at times. Luckily the book has an excellent story, with some strong secondary characters, that kept my interest. And I still liked Elena’s character enough, to want to read some of the other books in the series, but she isn’t my favourite character out there.

Overall, the novel was very well done, Armstrong is a great author, and the book made me experience and enjoy a genre I generally avoided. Not bad at all!

Would I recommend it to read: Yes, I would. Especially if you are like me and are unsure you'd enjoy paranormal themed books. This one is definitely worth reading. Even with some of the issues I mentioned above, I think its worth trying out.

What to read next: I believe Stolen is the next book in the series, also if your a YA fan, you may want to check out her YA books. Other than that, my experience in the genre is very minimal, so not sure what else out there, you could read.

Challenges: Read 'n' Review, Pages Read, 10/10 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, Canadian Book Challenge 4, Fantasy Reading Challenge, RYOB Challenge

Monday, September 13

Books, Author Panels and Book Signings!

A few weeks ago, I attend Fan Expo Canada, which is a massive Sci-Fi, Horror, Anime, Gaming, Comic Convention were geeks and nerds and the like gather, attend panels, meet special guests and dress up in their favourite costumes from TV, Movies, Books and Comics, and I was among them, wearing my Stargate universe costume. One of the panels I went to was an author panel in the Horror genre titled the evolution of the vampire. Authors on this panel were: Sherrilyn Kenyon, Alyxandra Harvey, Joe Garden, Kelley Armstrong, Max Turner, Rio Youers and Nancy Kilpatrick.

The panel was very well done, and it was my first authors panel, so a new experience for me. It made be really want to be able to go to a book convention, so I can attend more. I had a great panelist group, who had some very insightful ideas and comments on how vampires have evolved in literature of the centuries, how culture has taken them on. Best of all they made fun of Twilight Vampires. It was great. Later that night and over the weekend, I ventured over to the authors table were some of the authors were there to sign books and sell some too. Of course I couldn't resist. I already owned one of Kelly Armstrong's, and had brought the book to read in long lines, and in anticipation that I may be able to get her to sign it. Which I did, so I'm very greatful for that, I even got a picture with her. (Me in my Stargate Atlantis Uniform, with Kelly Armstrong.)

For those of you who may not know, Kelly Armstrong rights the Otherworlds Series, although her books focus on other types of paranormal creatures, she did have a lot of insight on vampires, their evolution and how that has also opened the door wide for the evolution of other paranormal creatures. It also renewed my interest in vampires, and made me want to read many of the novels written by the authors. Listening to them talk, and include their own personal stories and struggles of being authors, and writing about vampires, what their intentions were when writing etc, really grabbed my interest in it.

I also meet four of the authors other authors, snagging up 4 books that weekend. Only four books, I think I did well. Had this been a convention that specialized in books, well I think it would have been more like 40. :)

I also chatted with Max Turner author of Night Runner. He's a newer author, his first books, as I just mentioned, Night Runner, came out last year, and the sequel to that, End of Days, was just released. I really enjoyed talking to him and listening to him at the panel, as he also commented on his struggles as an author. Which I can only imagine, as this type of writing, and how the vampire is portrayed nowadays, is dominated by women authors, often geared towards women audiences. So I'm interested to read a story, from another point of view.

The third author I meet was Nancy Kilpatrick, and although I didn't buy one of her books she wrote, I did buy the anthology she edited, which is a collection of short stories about vampires, Kelly Armstrong has one of her stories in it. She headed the panel, if memory serves me right.

The final author I met, was Alyxandra Harvey, author of the Drake Chronicles. Very nice author, I grabbed the first two books by her, and like the rest of the books I bought over the weekend, had them sighed. I also got a nifty tote bag to go with the two books! Here's a picture of my swag!

And finally, here are some pictures of the panel, sorry the quality sucks, I was in the back, lighting wasn't great, and I wasn't very good at holding the camera over my head, taking pictures while trying to listen to what the panel was saying.

So that was part of my fan expo experience, and have to say, I'm itiching to find a good book convention in Canada. Anyone know of any?

Sunday, September 12

Vote for War on the Margins! - The People's Book Prize

Back in May, I had the opportunity to review Libby Cone's book, War on the Margins, here's the book's summary for those who might have missed the review. As well as a link to my review of the book.

France has fallen to the Nazis.Britain is undr siege. As BBC bulletins grow bleak, residents of Jersey abandon their homes in their thousands. When the Germans take over; Marlene Zimmer; a shy clerk at the Aliens Office, must register her friends and neighbours as jews while concealing her own heritage, until eventually she is forced to flee. Layers of extraordinary history unfold as we chart Marlene's transformation from unassuming office worker to achieve Resistance member under the protection of artists Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore, who manage to find poetry in the midst of hardship and unimaginable danger.

Drawn from authentic World War II documents, broadcasts and private letters, War on the Margins tells the unforgettable story of the deepening horror of the Nazi regime in Jersey and the exceptional bravery of those who sought to subvert it.

This novel has recently been nominated for the People's Book Prize - (Autumn). The People's Book Prize is a national competition aimed at discovering talented authors with no panel of judges except (taken from the People's Book Prize website, for more details visit the site here.) I have voted, and want to take the time to ask others who have read the book to vote, if you haven't read the book, go read it. It was a wonderful book, and I've been told the paperback edition comes out September 16. If you would like to vote for the book, follow the link here. You do need to register to vote, but if you are able, please vote.


Friday, September 10

Book Review: Mockingjay

Title: Mockingjay

Author: Suzanne Collins

Pages: 390

Summary: Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even through her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss’ family is sage. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are revels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems has had a hand in the carefully laid plans - except Katniss.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss’ willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels’ Mockingjay - no matter what the persona; cost.

My Rating: 8.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This review will contain spoilers.

I finally finished the book, but I have to say the final instalment to the Hunger Games Trilogy, didn’t grip me like the others of the series did. It was a fantastic book, and a lot happened in just under 400 pages, but it wasn’t what I was expecting, perhaps all the hype and excitement about it coming out gave me overly high expectations? I’m not to sure. I did find the first part a little slow, and Katniss to be a bit annoying, as she just walked around in this fog. I was hoping she’d take more control of what was happening around her, a lot sooner than she did.

The rebels and there plot. I did enjoy this, but found District 13, wasn’t all that I thought it would be, I thought it would be different, less controlled, but I found many similarities to the capitol in how District 13 was run. Which was good for me because I was constantly guessing and questioning there true intentions, especially Coin’s. I was also wondering if the traded one evil for another, when it came to District 13, and whether or not they were the good guys, what were there hidden agendas, and I was partially right about somethings, but wrong on other things. Overall I did enjoy this aspect of the plot, Collins’ gave me enough information for me to want to find out what happened next, and want get to the end. Sadly, I wasn’t racing through this book like the others.

The Gale/Peeta/Katniss love triangle. I wasn’t much of a fan of this. It’s a YA books, so it is part of what you get from the book, but this part bored me. It has bored me from the first book, and continued on until the end. I wanted more about the rebels, the good guys, the bad guys, the grey areas etc, but I wasn’t mad about whom she ended up with in the end, but if we were left hanging of who she was going to pick, it wouldn’t have mattered to me either way.

I loved the hidden messages about war in the book. I applaud Collins’ for doing such a fantastic job at this. She portrayed all the nasty, and truth face of war; innocents being killed, even by there own side, sacrifices etc. so well - a great message in the book.

Character deaths. Prim’s death surprised me, even though I found out by accident due to a review. I wasn’t even reading any reviews for this book, I was saving them for later, but my eyes caught on how the author killed her off. I wasn’t floored by her death, just surprised the author choose her over some of the other characters. In fact, I was surprised some other characters were the ones who survived. I was expecting that at least one of Katniss, Gale and Peeta would have been killed off. I was actually half expecting it would be Katniss, and in the epilogue it would be Prim finishing off the story, remembering Katniss and the sacrifices she made for the good of the community. That would have made a perfect ending in my books. I still liked the ending, but I was hoping for something different (this is a rare time, when I would have been okay for the main character to be axed off.)

Overall, it was a good book, but it wasn’t my favourite of the series, definitely worth reading, as is the entire series, but this book just fell a little short of my expectations.

Would I recommend it to read: Yes, even though it wasn't what I expected, it was still a great book. A lot happened, and there were some great hidden messages, and some not so hidden in there. It flowed well with the rest of the series, I just thought it would be different.

What to read next: The Giver, The Chrysalids for the Ya Lit fan. And I've been told if you enjoyed this series, then you would likely enjoy the Clockwork Angel.

Challenges: Read 'n' Review, Pages Read, 10/10 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, Countdown Challenge, Fantasy Reading Challenge, RYOB Challenge

For a fantastic review on this book, check out Amanda's from the Zen Leaf. She made some very interesting comments on the book, I touched on one of the points she brought up briefly, but she did a fantastic job at it, so I suggest you take a peek at her review.

Monday, September 6

The Bookshelf Project

As I said in my last post, I mentioned I moved, which means I finally have more space, which means, more bookcases, for my ever growing collection of books. The end result, is that now all my books have a place on the bookshelves. Even better, the two new bookcases I bought, actually have room and the holes for a six shelf. Which means I have some leeway and room to grow. So, this past weekend, I had time to unpack and sort out the books, and put them on the bookshelves, it was a big project, but the end result looks fantastic. See pictures below and details on the triumphs and difficulties I had.

So here is the before shot, of both the bookshelves and tote bins, box and hand bag filled with books. This is of my new place, I unfortunately don't have before pictures of what my bookshelves looked before the move, but lets just say, over 100 were piled on the floor, others were double stacked, and overall a big mess.

Here is close up of the bookshelves, before all of the books are on them. The dark oak ones are my new ones, at the bottom, you can see a big gap, there is actually space built in for a sixth shelf, but only five came with them. Only five were suppose to be there, but it was still constructed to have six. It must be why they were on sale for half the price. Either way, I have room to grow in my book collection. For now. So I'm happy. And on the lookout for the proper size for extra shelves.

Here's a shot of the bins/boxes etc. Where my books have been living for a few weeks. I'm glad they're finally out. The ones at the bottom, dark blue and white, are for the most part, the first half of the alphabet. Although parts of series from the end are in there too. The other metallic blue ones, are the last half of the alphabet. Finally, the box and hand bag is the Premier Classics Set. The box is to small to hold all of them, so the left over went into the hand bag.

Here is part of the book collection, for the most part it's in alphabetical order although the 3 stacks on the left, and half the fourth from the left are not, as they kept falling down, so I had to stack them differently to ensure I wouldn't be harmed in an avalanche of books. The stacks fell a few times before I fixed this. It took a long time, but I wanted to be able to easily grab a handful of books and place them on the shelves, instead of having to look for the ones I needed.

The Premier Classics Set, and the rest of the collection, including some doubles of books as I have a few extra copies of the Premier Classic books. Pretty much none of the books are in the right order here, which took quite a long time to re-shelve, as I had to hunt for the titles.

Three shots of the finished project. I shelved the Premier Classics Set first, then normal fiction. After that I have my short story collections (only if there are multiple authors contributing) Reference (aka 1001 Books to Read Before You Die) and non fiction. It's shelved in alphabetical order by author, sub-divided by series name and title.

Fun Facts!

I have 453 Books. 7 are not on the shelves (pocket dictionary, thesaurus and French / English dictionary and cook books, which are in my kitchen)

I have at least one book, where the author's last name corresponds with every letter of the alphabet, yes even "X." I have three books, by three separate authors that start with the letter "Z"

My male to female ratio (counting each author once) is almost 50/50.

Less than half have been read.

I catalogue my books using Book Collector and LibraryThing.

And there you go! My Collection!