Thursday, May 31

Book Review: The Box Garden


Title: The Box Garden

Author: Carol Shields

Pages: 213

Summary: Until events run wildly out of hand, Charleen Forrest manages to cope with the uncertainties o a failed marriage, trying to live her own life and raise her son on her frugal income. She is not unaware of the hazards: "family, bank tellers, ex-husbands, landladies, bus drivers ... men on the make who want her to lie back and accept (this is what you need, baby) friends who feel sorry for her." Her resource - fullness is a delight; her uncanny observations and surprising irony reveal a witty, wry edge that is apt to make you laugh out loud.

My Rating: 7/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Beautifully written, and good story overall, but this particular book just didn't connect well with me. I think the biggest issue was that I'm not the intended audience, so a lot of the experiences and observations of the characters wouldn't connect to me in the right way.  Which made it difficult to connect to the characters on an emotional level. They were all well written, complex and were written to be realistic characters, but I couldn't connect to them.

The story itself was again, well written. Beautifully written actually. Carol Shields had some talent there, as she managed to  keep me interested in the story, that wasn't really my cup of tea until the end. I may have had some issues with the book, but the writing kept me going at it to the end.

Another issue I had with the book was that a few things were predictable. Which wasn't a big deal, as the one thing I predicted about the book wasn't a big reveal for me, or even an important part of the story, at least for me. But nonetheless, it was predictable, and I think it could have worked, without this aspect of the book. I did think the "climax" of the book didn't fit in with the rest of the story. It felt awkward and just didn't work right. If it were a separate story, than I think it could have worked, or if this was a series of connected short stories it could have worked, but I felt it didn't fit in with the rest of the story - it seemed to have affected the stories natural flow

Would I recommend it to read: I would. The book was well written, but I think it reaches a different audience level than what I'd place myself in.

What to read next: Unless,  Quartet in Autumn and the book whose name I can't remember.



Book Review: To Have and Have Not


Title: To Have and Have Not

Author: Ernest Hemingway

Pages: 262

Summary: To Have and Have not is the dramatic story of Harry Morgan, a honest man who is forced into running a contraband between Cuba and Key West as a means of keeping his crumbling family and dissipated yachtsmen who throng the region, and involve in a strange and unlikely love affair. Harshly realistic, yet with one of the most subtle and moving relationships in the Hemingway oeuvre, To Have and Have Not is a literary high adventure at its finest.

My Rating: 5.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I have to say I'm somewhat indifferent to this book. I didn't hate it, but I didn't like it either. Compared to his other books, this one seemed to not have the same spice to it with his characters or story. I didn't like the characters, and I found the story stood still for most of the book. Even in the climax it didn't seem to go anywhere.

The plot was a good idea, but I was expecting something more, a little more in-depth story and characterization perhaps. But that seemed to be absent from the book for me. I do like how the author writes, usually I'm not a fan of this writing style, as I generally prefer more flowing and l as I generally prefer more flowing and lyrical writing styles. But Hemingway manages to keep you wanting to read more, even if the story doesn't interest you. It's not fantastic writing, but he does do a good job at telling a story without going on for pages. He does get the whole story out there. And these characters did have multiple layer to them, but I didn't connect to them. This particular book wasn't the one for me
.
Would I recommend it to read: It's not my favourite of his works, I think some of his other books are far better. It's a must read for a fan of his work, but I'd recommend his other books over this one.

What to read next: I'd have to say more Hemingway.



Book Review: Storm Glass


Title: Storm Glass

Author: Jane Urquhart

Pages: 167

Summary: With stunning virtuosity, the stories in Jane Urquhart's dazzling first book of fiction unearth the universal truths as they reach across countries and eras. A woman runs away to a cotta in the English moors to escape a love affair; shards of glass reconcile a middle-aged wife to her husband's estrangement; a grandmother makes a startling confession from her youth; a young woman discovers herself through the life of an Italian saint; and in a spellbinding story of artistic jealousy, we enter the mind of poet Robert Browning at the end of his life.

Contents
The Death of Robert Browning   
 John's Cottage    

FIVE WHEELCHAIRS   
   - Shoes
   - Dreams
   - Charity 
   - Gift 

The Drawing Master
    
SEVEN CONFESSIONS   
   - Merry-Go-Round- with Approaching Storm 
   - Bossu 
   - Her Golden Curls 
   - The Boat 
   - Artificial Ice 
   - Venetian Glass 
   - Hotel Verbano      

Forbidden Dances 
Italian Postcards 
Storm Glass

My Rating: 8.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: A very enjoyable collection of short stories, by an author I'm really beginning to admire and an author whose works I'm quickly beginning to inhale.

Jane Urquhart's writing really shines in this short story collection. I've only read two novels by the author in the past, and enjoyed them. But she also as a fantastic ability to write short fiction. The voice and flow of the writing are strong throughout the entire collection, even the ones I didn't enjoy as much as others. She really captures the moments of the story, and as a reader, you feel that you've been given a whole story, despite it being a short one.

I particularly liked section called "Wheel Chairs", something about the short stories in this section were really well done. They had some complex characters and observations  in them, despite being so short.  They are up there with my favourites. Her golden curls was also a very well done and emotional story. The author was able to capture a very emotional moment beautiful, and did it with a very short amount of time and background story. It's a short story I'd highly recommend. In fact, the entire collection is one I'd highly recommend. It's a perfect book to read on the deck on a summer day.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, I found this to be an excellent collection of short stories, and if you haven't read anything by the author yet, this may be a good place to start.

What to read next: More by the author,  Anything by Alice Munro, Atwood's Short Fiction



Book Review: The Newspaper of Claremont Street


Title: The Newspaper of Claremont Street

Author: Elizabeth Jolley

Pages: EBook 177

Summary: Weekly, an old cleaning lady known as 'the newspaper', dreams of escape from the parasitic demands of the past and the present.

My Rating: 7.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: An unusual read, with an ending that was different, but an overall enjoyable read.

The story line was unusual, as was the main character and I'm still undecided on how much I liked her. She was defiantly a very original character, especially compared to what I usually read, but I'm still not sure what to make of her.  The ending is kind of odd, and again it's something I'm not to sure what to make of it, I kind of liked it, but also thought it was highly weird and odd.

The writing and voice of the author is what really grabbed me. Jolley has a very distinct voice and it comes through in her writing. My favourite aspect of the book was its narrative and writing style. It made for a pleasant read, even with an odd cast of characters and plot. Something about the writing just enabled me to be lost in it. Everything about the book all came together well, it was just an unusual book. I think that's the best word for it. Not a bad unusual, just unusual. But a book well worth reading.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, I found this book because of another blogger, and it ended up being a good read. So I'll pass it on and tell other to read it. It's definitely a book that will have me trying out the author at some point in time.

What to read next: I'd read more by the author as well as anything by Penelope Fitzgerald



Wednesday, May 30

Book Review: Trial by Fire


Title: Trial by Fire (SG-1 1)

Author: Sabine Bauer

Pages: 240

Summary: Trial by Fire, the first Stargate SG-1 novel from Fandemonium Books, follows the team as they embark on a mission to Tyros, an ancient society teetering on the brink of war.

A pious people, the Tyreans are devoted to the Canaanite deity, Meleq. When their spiritual leader is savagely murdered during a mission of peace, they beg SG-1 for help against their sworn enemies, the Phrygians.

Initially reluctant to get involved, the team have no choice when Colonel Jack O'Neill is abducted. O'Neill soon discovers his only hope of escape is to join the ruthless Phrygians - if he can survive their barbaric initiation rite.

As Major Samantha Carter, Dr Daniel Jackson and Teal'c race to his rescue, they find themselves embroiled in a war of shifting allegiances, where truth has many shades and nothing is as it seems.
And, unbeknownst to them all, an old enemy is hiding in the shadows…

My Rating: 5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Not my favourite of the Stargate books, it was rather disappointing actually, so I'm glad this wasn't the first book I read, otherwise I doubt I would have picked up another Stargate book.

The background story and history tie-in parts were well done and interesting enough to fit with the series, but I found character dynamics and interactions off.  I found Jack to be very out of character as well as Daniel the most. And the over use of character facial expressions and quarks annoying. By this point the reader, who is an obvious fan of the series, because let's face it, unless you've watched the TV series, you won't read the books. There's too much not said in the books to just randomly pick them up.  So certain character quarks etc, to not need to me shoved in your face. And in this book, I found it to be exactly that. It needed to be toned down a lot, and focus more on the plot. Not the eyebrow raise of Teal'c.

Then there was the  addition of the magical original character - oh it was awful. Horrible awful. Throw across the room and ask why is this character in this book awful. Honestly if she referred to another character as "duckie" one more time, I would have.  Having a new character to support the book, plot and characters can be useful. Having a Mary-sue character is cringe worthy. Especially how she came into the book. If it was fanfiction I could have dealt with it, but it being a companion book to the series. No. Just no!
So over all, it wasn't the book for me. Not at all what I expected to be with a series I love, but I suppose you can't love them all.

Would I recommend it to read: Meh. These book are only meant for those interested in the show, and even this one wasn't too great. So I'm on the fence with this one.

What to read next: More stargate books



Tuesday, May 29

Book Review: Crazy Heart


Title: Crazy Heart

Author: Thomas Cobb

Pages: 248

Summary: At the age of fifty-seven, Bad Blake is on his last legs. His weight, his ticker, his liver, even his pick-up truck are giving him trouble. A renowned songwriter and “picker” who hasn’t recorded in five years, Bad now travels the countryside on gigs that take him mostly to motels and bowling alleys. Enter Ms. Right. Can Bad stop living the life on the country-western song and tie a rope around his crazy heart?

My Rating: 6.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This wasn't necessarily a bad book, it was well written and had some good characterization and development of its characters, it just wasn't my cup of tea. It was a genre, modern country-western, that just isn't my genre.  So it wasn't a book I could really get into and enjoy.

The main character was particularly well written, although somewhat cliché, old and busted country western singer, the author did do a good job at creating this character. He was realistic and his development throughout the story was natural. I think if you enjoy this genre, than this would be a great read, but, it just didn't reach me. It wasn't boring, it wasn't gripping, it was just not my type of book.

Would I recommend it to read: If you enjoy country-western themed stories than yes. As I said above, it was like a country western story. There was nothing bad about the story, but it wasn't my genre, so it didn't grab my interest.

What to read next: The Sisters Brother is the only book that comes close to mind. Although the main character often reminded me of Jonny Cash, so there may be something from that too.



Book Review: Frostbitten



Title: Frostbitten

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Pages: 352

Summary: Elena Michaels knows that being the world's only female werewolf has its advantages - like having her pick of the Otherworld's most desirable males - but it's also a lot of work. There's nothing the werewolf community dislikes more tan calling attention to itself, so when a pair of rouge man-eaters begins hunting humans outside Anchorage. Elena and her husband, Clay, journey to Alaska in the dead of winter in order to hunt down the dangerous predators. The northern wilderness is a harsh landscape in the best of conditions, but with a pack of wayward werewolves on the loose, it's downright deadly.

Trapped in this savage, untamed winter realm, plagued by ghosts from their past, Elena and Clay learn more than they bargained for about their own beasts within. And their bond will be put to the ultimate test as they follow the bloody trail of gruesome slayings.

My Rating: 7.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This book was enjoyable, slightly darker than some of the others in the series, but it was  good addition to the series. Elena and Clay are one of my favourite couples in the entire series, and while I think some aspects of their relationship are repetitive throughout the books, I found it to be fun to read nonetheless.

This was a darker book than some of the others, and I enjoyed the setting and some of the other supernatural beings that we meet in the novel.  I wished we could have learned more about these shape shifters, as it was an interesting addition to the plot - I hope we see more like them in the series. There were some classic Elena and Clay moments, and the authors humour and voice shine throughout the novel. I also enjoyed the overall plot in this book, it was written more naturally than some previous books and it wasn't too over the top.

I did find that this book had a lot of repetitive interactions and scenes than in previous books. Elements of Clay and Elena's relationship for instance. After awhile, their hunger for food and each other and how it's described can get old. I also found the reoccurring theme of attempted rape to be repetitive and unnecessary to be reused against the characters as much as it was.  While it helped move the story along and gave some good development to the characterization, I found it to be overused - and frankly caused me not to want to continue on with the book because of that. Otherwise, I did enjoy the book, and looking forward to the next installment of the series.

Would I recommend it to read: Of course! It, like the rest of the books in the series are well worth reading.

What to read next: Waking the Witch




Monday, May 28

Book Review: Ru


Title: Ru

Author: Kim Thúy

Pages: EBook 177

Summary: Ru. In Vietnamese it means lullaby; in French it is a small stream, but also signifies a flow - of tears, blood, money.

Kim Thúy's Ru is literature at its most crystalline: the flow of a life on the tides of unrest and on to more peaceful waters. In vignettes of exquisite clarity, sharp observation and sly wit, we are carried along on an unforgettable journey from a palatial residence in Saigon to a crowded and muddy Malaysian refugee camp, and onward to a new life in Quebec. There, the young girl feels the embrace of a new community, and revels in the chance to be part of the American Dream. As an adult, the waters become rough again: now a mother of two sons, she must learn to shape her love around the younger boy's autism. Moving seamlessly from past to present, from history to memory and back again, Ru is a book that celebrates life in all its wonder: its moments of beauty and sensuality, brutality and sorrow, comfort and comedy.

My Rating: 8.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: One of my favourite aspects of the book was the narrative, which was beautiful and elegant and helped create a great atmosphere to the book.

The book was written in short "chapters" usually a page or two at a time as the narrator re-accounts tidbits of her life, although for the most part it stayed in chorological order there were times it jumped around. Which I found worked wonderfully in this case, as it was more like how the memory works when a person/character are re-telling their story. Although I'd have liked if the timeline was more solid, than jumping around, I think in this particular case it worked, and had a great affect on the reader.

Despite each chapter being so short, and the story itself was very short, the author did a wonderful job at writing an emotional story.  The narrator is able to bring up the harsh realities of being a refugee and how it impacted her life. The story is almost journal like. Which was also a bad thing, because I felt like I never got a good, hard look at the characters and their development. While I got a good sense on what happened to the narrator, and there was some emotional element, it was told in a way, where you only got a small piece of that memory. Almost like you only got a small piece of a larger story.

The writing was well done, and I really enjoyed how it was written. The writing itself was lyrical, and despite the fact it's a translated book, it didn't seem to lose its essence when it was translated. Which can be a problem in verse writing that has been translated.

Overall a great read.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, but to select readers. While it is a good story, I do think that because of how it's written it could be a turn off to some readers.

What to read next: The Jade Peony



Wednesday, May 23

Book Review: Stones


Title: Stones

Author: Timothy Findley

Pages: 159

Summary: Against a vivid terrain of images, Findley continues his exploration of the many diverse and destructive acts played out on the personal battlegrounds on which we live our daily lives.
From the realities of contemporary relationships to a fantastic vision of urban life, from social comment to the deeply personal, Stones is a powerful collection of stories from one of Canada's best-loved writers.

Contents
The Stories   
Bragg and Minna
A Gift of Mercy
Foxes
The Sky
Dreams 
The Name's the Same 
Real Life Writes Real Bad 
Almeyer's Mother 
Stones

My Rating: 8.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This was my second short story collection by the author, and I have to say that I enjoyed this one a lot. Findley does a wonderful job at capturing the lives of the people in the stories, focusing on details such as relationship issues, mental illness, same-sex relationships and the struggles that come with all of them. Despite the fact they were short stories, for the most part, it felt like the stories were told in full and managed to be complex in content. Rarely in this collection did I feel that the story was left unfinished.  Stones was by far my favourite of the collection, but Dreams was also a good story, very odd and unusual, but a good story nonetheless.

The writing in the collection is at par with some of his novels, and he seemed to take great care in writing the story and bring his voice through on topics important to him. Same-sex relationships and mental illness were reoccurring themes in the collection, and he did a wonderful job at bring these topics to the surface. Another wonderful read by yet another author who has been added to my must read everything list.
Would I recommend it to read: I would, this was a great collection by the author, and not a bad place to start if you haven't read anything by the author yet.

What to read next: The Piano Man's Daughter, Dust to Dust



Book Review: The Sound of Blue


Title: The Sound of Blue

Author: Holly Payne

Pages: 323

Summary: Sara Foster has left America for the adventure of a lifetime - teaching English to the sons and daughters of a statesmen in Hungary - but her idyllic adventure instead reveals a dark world of pain and redemption when she ends up teaching at a refugee camp. Sara discovers that one of her students is a celebrate composer and soon finds herself crossing the border to his war-torn homeland, determined to exonerate him for the death of his brother.

In a journey, that takes her to Dubrovnik, a magnificent stone city on the Croatian Riviera, Sarah contemplates her own identity, struggling to understand why the region's ancient and extraordinary beauty belies a history of grief. As Sara unveils the secret of the composer's escape, The Sound of Blue reveals poignant truths about the quests for refuge we all pursue. Bringing to life a world that readers seldom have the opportunity to see through the characters of great depth, Holly Payne has once again created a triumph of the heart and soul.

My Rating: 8.25/10

What I liked/disliked about the book:  Although the book was dark and depressing at times, it didn't stop it from being a very good read. Initially the book focuses on Sarah's time in the refugee camp in Turkey to teach English to the refugees. For the most part, I found Sarah to be an unlikeable and rather naive character. I'm not sure what she expected when she volunteered to go to  a war ravaged country, so her reactions when she got to the refugee camp and it's dire conditions bothered me. Initially she seemed to feel more sorry for herself than those who had nothing left. But by the end of the book her character does grow, although it isn't an ending that would make the reader completely satisfied, her character does go throw some great changes.

The author showed the effects of a war ravaged country and it's affects on the people beautifully. The book isn't light, but it isn't graphic in showing what war does either. It seemed to have a good balance in showing the affects of the war, and the healing process of the characters. There was also a few side stories, including the small boy drumming, which I found to be one of my favourite part, and it reminded me of the Cellist of Sarajevo. I also enjoyed the story about the composer and his brother and the story behind them. Although it was a secondary story, I thought the author did a good job at tying it into the main story line.

Only issues I have with the book were Sarah. Even with her growth, she was an unlikeable character. I also have issues with the ending, where I both enjoyed and disliked it. It doesn't tie everything up, and I do wish a few more thing had been, but at the same time, the ending fit the uncertain future of the characters of the book wonderfully. So some mixed feelings there. Otherwise it was a very good read.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it was a good book, a little depressing, but it did a fantastic job at showing a war ravaged country and the people affected by it.

What to read next: The Cellist of Sarajevo



Monday, May 21

Book Review: Turtle Valley


Title: Turtle Valley

Author: Gail Anderson-Dargartz

Pages: EBook - 201       

Summary: Kat has returned with her disabled husband and young son to her family’s homestead in Turtle Valley, in British Columbia’s Shuswap-Thompson area. Fire is sweeping through the valley in a ruthless progression toward the farm and they have come to help her frail parents pack up their belongings. Kat’s mother, Beth, (the now elderly protagonist of Anderson-Dargatz’s first novel, the award-winning The Cure for Death by Lightning) is weighed down by her ailing husband, Gus, and by generations of accumulated detritus. But there is something else weighing her down, a secret she has guarded all her life. Kat is determined to get to its source before fire eats up all that is left of the family’s memories.

Kat has her own burdens. Her father is dying, and the family has chosen to keep him home as long as possible in defiance of the approaching flames. Beth is showing signs of early dementia. And her husband, Ezra, is a husk of his former self, stolen from her years ago by a stroke and now battling frightening mood swings and a trick memory. Once filled with passion and hope, their relationship has become more like that of nursemaid and invalid.

Now thrust into contact with her parents’ neighbour Jude, her lover before Ezra, Kat finds his strength attractive, as well as his ongoing passion for her. As she considers her choices in love, Kat discovers that her grandmother, Maud, to whom she bears an uncanny resemblance, was once faced with a similar dilemma when forced to choose between the capricious violence of her shell-shocked husband, John Weeks, and the rugged constancy of their neighbour Valentine Svensson. Leafing through Maud’s scrapbooks and long-hidden love letters, Kat begins to unravel the mystery of her grandfather’s disappearance in the mountains. She is to find that like most family secrets, this one is tangled amidst generations of grief.

As sparks rain down upon them, Kat tries to hold her family together, soothing Ezra’s rages, comforting their son, Jeremy, tending to her mother’s fragile mental state and striving to keep her father at home and comfortable as he nears death. Masses of ladybugs swarm through the house and panicked birds smash windows. Shadowy ghosts flit in and out of the encroaching smoke. All around them the landscape burns and terrible choices must be made. What can be salvaged? What will survive after Turtle Valley has burned?

My Rating: 6.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The book started off strong, as it started with showcasing the effects of living with someone who has suffered a brain injury and dementia. The author explored this by showing how family members were affected and there was definitely some symbolism between the fire engulfing the forest around the and how dementia engulfs a person and their family.

Unfortunately, I found that there were too many elements to the story, too many people who were suffering from dementia or affects of a stroke that it took away from the story and the emotional connection that could have been there. Instead it was split three ways and any emotional connection that could have been there was scarified because there were too many elements to the story.  I also found that there were far too many "family" secrets wrapped into the story as well as side plots and memories of the past brought in. There was enough information in the book for at least three separate stories, instead it was wrapped into one, and in order to finish the story, they all seemed to take away from the importance of each other. It almost feels like the story was being pulled in multiple directions, and in the end, it doesn't come together well. I would have preferred less family secrets, memories of the past. The book could have been complex without having to have a lot of elements to make it complex.  

I also couldn't stand Kat as a charter. I found her to be selfish and self involved. Especially with the appearance of her old lover. It sickened me to see her flirt with him, when her husband, who is not the same after suffering a stroke was right next door.

Overall, it wasn't bad, but for me to many elements in the book took away from its potential to be a great book.

Would I recommend it to read: To some readers I would. It wasn't a bad book however, as I said above, I did have a lot of problems with the book, and I think some readers would also be bothered by this. Others would likely devour the book.

What to read next: Left Neglected



La Grosse Fifi


Title: La Grosse Fifi

Author: Jean Rhys

Pages: 85 
         
Summary: These four haunting stories from the author of Wide Sargasso Sea capture moments in the lives of European dilettantes, ingénues, businessmen, soldiers and artists at a time when the world was enjoying freedom after war. But with freedom comes the greater opportunity for self-destruction, and Rhys is at her redolent best when writing about the desires of people striving unsuccessfully after happiness.

Contents:
La Grosse Fifi   
Vienne   
Tea With an Artist   
Mixing Cocktails

My Rating: 7.25/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I found this book nestled away in the book store, when I was trying to see if the store had any other books by the author, so I was surprised to see this short little collection of short stories and of course, I had to nab it up.

This small collection of short stories was well done. I enjoyed the writing style and for the most part the individual stories. Some of the themes take place around French culture and life, which the author does a good job at capturing. I enjoyed Tea with an Artist and Mixing Cocktails the most, although I'm not sure why, something about them just captured my attention more than the other two. But all were good reads.

Overall it was a good short collection of short stories.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it's a good short collection of short stories, which is as a well written as Wide Sargasso sea. I prefer the author's novel, but this collection was still enjoyable.

What to read next: Wide Sargasso Sea



Sunday, May 20

Book Review: Fighting Gravity


Title: Fighting Gravity

Author: Leah Petersen

Pages: 305

Summary: When Jacob Dawes is selected for the Imperial Intellectual Complex as a child, he’s catapulted from the poverty-stricken slums of his birth into a world where his status as an unclass is something no one can forget, or forgive. His growing scientific renown draws the attention of the emperor, a young man Jacob’s own age, and they find themselves drawn to each other in an unlikely and ill-advised relationship. Jacob may have won the emperor’s heart, but it’s no protection when he’s accused of treason. And fighting his own execution would mean betraying the man he loves.

My Rating: 7.25/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Overall I enjoyed this book, well written, fairly good characters, but I would have preferred less focus on the romantic relationships between the characters and more of a focus on the worlds around them.

I enjoyed the story, and while I appreciated it as a story that was very heavy on characterization, their development and romantic development, I was itching to read more about the world around them. Many of the glimpses of  the political and cultural developments, as well as class structures the worlds had fascinated me. There was also a bit o a dystopian feel to book  at times, so I would have loved to have seen more focus on that, with the relationship as a secondary focus.

The characters were well written and well developed. Jacon in particular develops quite a bit from the start to the finish of the book. The relationship between Jacob and the Emperor was well done, but I felt it progressed to fast. To me it seemed to be more of a lust than a love in how it first started developing, yet they were portrayed as being madly in love. Considering some of the Emperors actions and attitudes towards Jacob at times I didn't get the feel he truly loved him, the attraction felt more like physical/intellectual one.  But overall, their relationship was well written, and the ending of the book was set up so there could be a sequel. It should be interesting to see how that plays out and how it affects their relationship. I'm not a huge fan of books where it has a heavy focus on the romance between the characters, which is why I think I can pick at so many holes in the relationship,  but it was still a good story in the end. The ending was very well done, and I look forward to seeing what will happen if there is a sequel.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, especially to fans of Science Fiction. This would also be a good choice if you are interested in Sci-Fi, but don't want it to be a heavy book on Science Fiction terminology, themes etc as it is a very character driven book. It's also a very good choice for readers of GLBT fiction.

What to read next: By how the book ended, there looks like there may be a sequel, so that would be a good start.



Book Review: Silas Marner


Title: Silas Marner

Author: George Elliot

Pages: 183

Summary: Embittered by a false accusation, disappointed in friendship and love, the weaver Silas Marner retreats into a long twilight life alone with his loom and his gold. Silas hoards a treasure that kills his spirit until fate steals it from him and replaces it with a golden-haired foundling child. Where she came from, who her parents were, and who really stole the gold are the secrets that permeate this moving tale of guilt and innocence. A moral allegory of the redemptive power of love, it is also a finely drawn picture of early nineteenth-century England “in the days when spinning wheels hummed busily in the farmhouses,” and of a simple way of life that was soon to disappear.

My Rating: 7.25/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: While I enjoyed the writing and the overall story, the book didn't floor me. It was a good book, but not a fantastic one, but it has perked my interest to read more of George Eliot's works.

The writing was superb. That alone pulled me into the book and kept my interest from the start. George Eliot had a powerful voice and that comes through into her writing. I loved how she chose to tell the story and how it was narrated. I always enjoy books where the author chooses to narrate it like it was written just for that particular reader, as I find it always adds something extra to the reading experience.

The story itself was good. I. It wasn't great, but I did enjoy it overall. The characters were also good, although I don't have a favourite and I found they weren't very memorable. I think Silas Marner had the potential to be a very memorable character, but the novel was too short to really get a good character development and personality out of him. For a short book he works as a character, but I would have preferred to have his character explored more thoroughly.

Overall it was a good book.

Would I recommend it to read: I would recommend it, but I don't think it's the best choice for a first time reader of the author's work (at least from reviews I've seen about her other books).

What to read next: I'd read more by the author.



Sunday, May 6

TSS - April Wrap-Up!

It's the first Sunday in May, and I actually have the time to write my monthly Wrap-Up  post! Bet of all, it's only been 6 days into the next month! So I figure, what better way to spend my Sunday morning!?

April was a much busier month for me, but I was able to get a lot of reading done, attend a fantastic book event, participated in the 24 hour read-a-thon, and I even finished a challenge! So it was a successful month for me. I'm still slightly behind my personal reading goal, but I think I'll be caught up and back on track soon. I have my "library" partially assembled. It still needs a lot of work, but almost all of my books are up - the rest are stacked into piles, because I ran out of shelves. Opps! But not a bad month

The Books

I managed to read ten books this month, half were print, while the other half were EBooks. I never thought I'd read as many EBooks as I have been, but since I bought an E-reader (Kobo/IPad) I've read a lot more than I thought - it's far more convenient for me to bring one to work or on the commute. My favourite book this month was  Fall on Your Knees, I highly recommend this book! Song of the Silk Road was also a great book worth noting. My least favourite was The Book Borrower, followed by Requiem for a Dream.

1.       Agassiz Stories -Sandra Birdsell - 7.25/10
4.       My Antonia - WillaCarther - 7.5/10
6.       Pigong - Frank Delaney - 8.25/10
7.       The Return of theSoldier - 6.5/10
7.       Fall on Your Knees -Anne-Marie MacDonald - 9.5/10

The Challenges

This month, I completed one challenge, War Through the Generations - WWI Challenge, reading 3/3 books. I thought about moving onto the next level in the challenge, because I did have a few books that would meat it's requirements, but I've participated in this challenge multiple times, and I never finish it. Nor can I guarantee I'll actually get to the books meant for the challenge, which was my biggest problem in the past there just isn't enough time to read all the books I want! So I'm calling it a win for me! This marks the third challenge I've completed so far this year.  I'm also well on my way to finishing some other challenges. I'll likely have the EBook Challenge finished by the end of May, it's also one I could move up a level or two, which I may do, I'll see how I am doing in the other challenges when I finish it and see what I can manage. I'm happy with my progress in the challenges so far, although I need to get moving with the series challenge, I have barely scratched the surface in that one, and  4 of the 6 remaining books are all close to 600 pages or more. So I need to read those books.  But challenges are looking great so far!

Completed Challenges


On-Going Challenges

12 in 12 - 37/144 - 26% Complete
Finish That Series Challenge 2012 - 0/3 - 0% Complete (1 book read from series one)
Ireland Reading Challenge 2012 - 3/6 - 50% Complete
Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2012 - 11/50 - 22% Complete
New Authors Reading Challenge 2012 - 17/50 - 34% Complete
Short Stories Reading Challenge 2012 - 4/12 - 33% Complete
Speculative Reading Challenge 2012 - 5/24 - 21% Complete



Countries Visited

This month I travelled to Canada, USA, Ireland, Scotland, China and the Pegasus Galaxy. Not only am I world traveller this month, but I expanded my travels to the universe!


Bookish Events

Near the begining of April I went to Ad Astra click here if you would like to read about my time there. It was a great convention, and I will be back next year. I also participated in the 24 hour readathon. I wasn't as active in it as I was in previous years, but it gave me a chance to catch up in some well deserved RRR (rest, relax and reading time :)).

Books That Followed Me Home

About 16 books followed me home this month. Many of which came home with me during the Ad Astra convention - but those books forced me to take them home! I mean they jumped into my arms and refused to leave, until I paid the nice people who sold the book. Bad Books!

1) Turtle Valley - Gail Anderson-Dargartz - EBook
2) Destiny's Fall - Marie Bilodeau
3) Survival - Julie Czerneda
4) Pigsong - Frank Delaney - EBook
5) Underground - June Hutton - EBook
6) The Newspaper of Claremont Street - Elizabeth Jolley - EBook (I saw this book mentioned in Buried in Print's 24hr readathon post, and it looked interesting so I grabbed a copy)
7) Sailing to Sarantium - Guy Gavriel Kay
8) Lord of Emperors - Guy Gavriel Kay
9) The Whiskey Rebels: - A Novel - David Liss - EBook
10) The Floating Islands - Rachel Neumeier
11) Fighting Gravity - Leah Petersen
12) Ru - Kim Thúy
13) You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down - Alice Walker EBook
14) When the Hero Comes Home
15) Evolve Two - Vampire Stories of the Future Undead
16) Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks - EBook

And that was my April! I can't believe the year is a third of the way over! It's flying right by! But it's been a good reading year for me so far, I hope it's been the same for you! Happy Reading!