Wednesday, October 31

Book Review: I'm Starved for You


Title: I'm Starved For You: Positron, Episode 1

Author: Margaret Atwood

Pages: EBook - 46

Summary: In this first instalment of the saucy and sinister new Byliner Serial, "Positron," Margaret Atwood takes readers on a thrill ride to the near future, where paranoia reigns but sex has definitely not gone out of style.

"I'm Starved for You" introduces us to the world-weary inhabitants of Consilience. This gated community isn't your average American town, but in a dystopian society imagined by the visionary, internationally bestselling Atwood ("The Handmaid's Tale," "The Year of the Flood"), it may be as close as anyone can hope to get.

Husband and wife Stan and Charmaine are among thousands who have committed to a new social order because the old one is all but broken. Outside the walls of Consilience, more than half the country is out of work, gangs of the drug-addicted and disaffected menace the streets, warlords disrupt the food supply, and overcrowded correctional facilities churn out offenders to make room for more.

The Consilience prison, Positron, is something else altogether. The very heart of the community and its economic engine, it's a bold experiment in voluntary incarceration. In exchange for a house, food, and what the online brochure hails as "A Meaningful Life," residents agree to spend every other month as inmates.
Stan and Charmaine have no complaints until the day Stan discovers a note under the fridge of the house he and Charmaine must share with another couple while they're back inside Positron. It's a missive of erotic longing, pressed with a vivid lipstick kiss: "I'm starved for you!" it breathes. If Stan rarely thought about the house's other residents before they've never met them and don't know their names; it's not allowed now he can't stop thinking about them, especially the note's sex-addled author, so unlike his girlish wife, Charmaine.

He has to meet her, but in this highly ordered and increasingly surveilled world, disorderly thoughts are a risk, and breaking the rules has dire consequences.

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This was a very short and fast little read, but it was  still somewhat gripping, and I'm itching to read the next instalment  It's your basic dystopian, so of course there will be far more than meets the eye to this happy little society  and the author has already hinted at some little twist to come. I'm sure this dystopian will be similar to others she's written, and some crazy twist will be revealed, that will give you more questions than answers, and have me reading on to the next instalment in a frenzy.  

So far it's too short to determine how much I like the characters and overall plot, but from what I have seen I'll love the plot, while the characters are questionable. The only other issue will be that the book is released in instalments  which means waiting for the next one to come out. But it will more than likely be worth it in the end. Overall, it looks to be a great read.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it's a good story, it's short and quick, and a good choice to read if you want to try out dystopian or Atwood for the first time.

What to read next: Chocker Collar (and other books from the serial)



Book Review: Harvest Moon


Title: Harvest Moon

Author: Multiple Authors (see summary)

Pages: 377

Summary:

A TANGLED WEB - Mercedes Lackey
Kidnapping Persephone should have been an easy task. But in the Five Hundred Kingdoms, nothing's ever simple - and the wrong blonde goddess is stolen by mistake, leaving Prince Leopold without his new bride. At least until her braves the realm of the dead to get her back...

CAST IN THE MOONLIGHT - Michelle Sagara
Barely a teenager, Kaylin Neya is a thief, a fugitive and an attempted assassin. She also has a smart mouth, sharp with and mysterious markings on her skin. All of which make her perfect bait for a child prostitution sting in the city of Elantra - if she survives her first meeting with the Hawks.

RETRIBUTION - Cameron Haley
In the underworld, there are tricks to killing. Like executing rivals at crossroads so ghosts won't follow you home. But sometimes retribution is hard to avoid and now a supernatural hit man has a contract on Domino Riley's life. Luckily she knows a thing or two about death.

My Rating: 7.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: All three of the novellas were interesting well written stories. Each in their own unique way. And all have a central theme around the Harvest Moon (or that worlds' version of it), which adds some good twists to each individuals story and manages to tie them together, in sharing a central theme.

I enjoyed A Tangled Web and Cast in the Moonlight the most, but Retribution was also interesting and well written, the overall story for Retribution doesn't exactly appeal to me, but it does give a good look at what the series is connected to and I think a  lot of Young Adult readers, especially those who enjoy urban fantasy would enjoy the book.

Cast in the Moonlight would also appeal to the YA readers.  It has an interesting plot line, and I liked it enough that I think I may read the first book in the series. It had some interesting characters and a good story line, that I would love to read more about, and learn more of the background of the world, characters and their stories.

Tangled Web, was Lackey's usual wit and style. It was a bit humours, I always enjoy her twists on the mythology and fairy tales, and this was no exception. I have enjoyed most of what I've read from the Five Hundred Kingdoms, so it is also be some further reading I will seek out.

Overall, the best thing about the collection was that it gives the reader a chance to read and experience books from three different series, that you may not have read or even heard of otherwise. So all in all a good read.

Would I recommend it to read: I would. This collection is a great way to test out the individual authors and their series. They work as good one shots, but also are good indicators for the series as a whole.

What to read next: Winter Moon and the books/series the individual novellas are from. I think YA fans would particularly enjoy Michelle Sagara's series. Although Harley's Mob wars would also appeal to the YA audience. 

Challenges: 12 in 12


Tuesday, October 30

Book Review: The Golden Mean


Title: The Golden Mean

Author: Annabel Lyon

Pages: 284

Summary: On the orders of his boyhood friend, now King Philip of Macedon, Aristotle postpones his dreams of succeeding Plato as leader of the Academy in Athens and reluctantly arrives in the Macedonian capital of Pella to tutor the king’s adolescent sons. An early illness has left one son with the intellect of a child; the other is destined for greatness but struggles between a keen mind that craves instruction and the pressures of a society that demands his prowess as a soldier. 

Initially Aristotle hopes for a short stay in what he considers the brutal backwater of his childhood. But, as a man of relentless curiosity and reason, Aristotle warms to the challenge of instructing his young charges, particularly Alexander, in whom he recognizes a kindred spirit, an engaged, questioning mind coupled with a unique sense of position and destiny. 

Aristotle struggles to match his ideas against the warrior culture that is Alexander’s birthright. He feels that teaching this startling, charming, sometimes horrifying boy is a desperate necessity. And that what the boy – thrown before his time onto his father’s battlefields – needs most is to learn the golden mean, that elusive balance between extremes that Aristotle hopes will mitigate the boy’s will to conquer.

Aristotle struggles to inspire balance in Alexander, and he finds he must also play a cat-and-mouse game of power and influence with Philip in order to manage his own ambitions.  

As Alexander’s position as Philip’s heir strengthens and his victories on the battlefield mount, Aristotle’s attempts to instruct him are honoured, but increasingly unheeded. And despite several troubling incidents on the field of battle, Alexander remains steadfast in his desire to further the reach of his empire to all known and unknown corners of the world, rendering the intellectual pursuits Aristotle offers increasingly irrelevant.

My Rating: 3/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Needless to say, I didn't like this book much at all.  The writing didn't add anything to the book, it didn't keep me interested. The amount of profanity in the book ruined the natural flow of the story. It wasn't that necessary to begin with, but this book seemed to use it in excess.

I didn't like the characterization, I found them to be flat, and didn't develop much during the book, particularly,  Aristotle. Overall it was a very frustrating read for me. So much, that I've found it hard to write a full review for the book.

To sum it up, this was not my book, and I doubt I'll read the next book, Sweet Girl, which I had planned to read as part of my reading of the Giller long list for 2012.

Would I recommend it to read: I don't think I would

What to read next: Sweet Girl



Book Review: The Juliet Stories


Title: The Juliet Stories

Author: Carrie Snyder

Pages: 324

Summary: Juliet Friesen is ten years old when her family moves to Nicaragua. It is 1984, the height of Nicaragua's post-revolutionary war, and the peace-activist Friesens have come to protest American involvement. In the midst of this tumult, Juliet's family lives outside of the boundaries of ordinary life. They've escaped, and the ordinary rules don't apply. Threat is pervasive, danger is real, but the extremity of the situation also produces a kind of euphoria, protecting Juliet's family from its own cracks and conflicts.

When Juliet's younger brother becomes sick with cancer, their adventure ends abruptly. The Friesens return to Canada only to find that their lives beyond Nicaragua have become the war zone. One by one, they drift from each other, and Juliet grows to adulthood, pulled between her desire to live a free life like the one she remembers in Nicaragua, and her desire to build for her own children a life more settled than her parents could provide.

My Rating: 8.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I enjoyed this book quite a lot. Although it was a book of interconnected short stories, it all flows together well.  While it doesn't completely flow together in the same way a novel does, you still get the effect of the full story you would see from a novel. Well developed characters and plot were both throughout the book, and neither were sacrificed because the story was told like a collection of short stories. In fact, I think it added to the story itself, and how much I enjoyed it because it was told like a collection of interconnected stories, rather than a novel, because although there are gaps between stories, the author managed to fill them in quite nicely.

Juliet was an interesting character, who was well created and developed. I really enjoyed being able to follow her from a young girl through to adulthood, and how the events in Nicaragua and in Canada shaped her as an adult. I don't think the reader would have had the same experience with Juliet and her development if it weren't written like a collection of interconnected short stories.

Very enjoyable read, I hope to see more from the author in the future, as I will definitely be seeking out more books by her.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it was a well written, collection of connected short stories. But still read like a novel. So those who like both types of fiction would enjoy it.

What to read next: Who Do You Think You Are?



Monday, October 29

Book Review: Vintage Munro


Title: Vintage Munro

Author: Alice Munro

Pages: 196

Summary: In unbroken procession of brilliant, revelatory short stories, Alice Munro has unfolded the wordless secrets that lie at the heart of all human experience.

Vintage Munro includes stories from throughout her career: The title stories from her collections The Moons of Jupiter, The Progress of Love and Hateship, Friendship, Courtship Loveship, Marriage; "Differently" from Friend of my Youth' and Carried Away, from Open secrets.

Contents:
The Moons of Jupiter 
The Progress of Love  
Differently 
Carried Away  
Hate, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship

My Rating: 7.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I have to say while I love the authors work, I found some of the short stories in this collection to not be her best. There are so many to choose from, so many that leave a lasting imprint on you, and I found most of these don't. Well written yes, I don't think you can read a short story by the author and not say it wasn't well written.  But, compared to what I've read in the past, some of the individual short stories didn't live up to what they normally do.

One of my favourite stories from the collection was Carried Away, which I ended up buying the entire collection it was originally published in (Open Secrets).  This one did leave an imprint on me, a big one to want to by the entire collection right away.  

Overall, a good collection of Munro's short stories, but her other works are worth checking out, as some of her other collections and individual short stories blast these ones out of the water. 

Would I recommend it to read: I still would, this has a short story from five different collections of the authors work from the 80's - 90's. So you can see how the author has evolved and get a good idea of her writing style over a decade. Also may help you find a good starting point to dive into the author.

What to read next: I'd try the individual collections each of the Short Stories were  originally  from.


Book Review: The Mirrored World


Title:  The Mirrored World

Author: Debra Dean

Pages: 176

Summary: Born to a Russian family of lower nobility, Xenia, an eccentric dreamer who cares little for social conventions, falls in love with Andrei, a charismatic soldier and singer in the Empress's Imperial choir. Though husband and wife adore each other, their happiness is overshadowed by the absurd demands of life at the royal court and by Xenia's growing obsession with having a child—a desperate need that is at last fulfilled with the birth of her daughter. But then a tragic vision comes true, and a shattered Xenia descends into grief, undergoing a profound transformation that alters the course of her life. Turning away from family and friends, she begins giving all her money and possessions to the poor. Then, one day, she mysteriously vanishes.

Years later, dressed in the tatters of her husband's military uniform and answering only to his name, Xenia is discovered tending the paupers of St. Petersburg's slums. Revered as a soothsayer and a blessed healer to the downtrodden, she is feared by the royal court and its new Empress, Catherine, who perceives her deeds as a rebuke to their lavish excesses. In this evocative and elegantly written tale, Dean reimagines the intriguing life of Xenia of St. Petersburg, a patron saint of her city and one of Russia's most mysterious and beloved holy figures. This is an exploration of the blessings of loyal friendship, the limits of reason, and the true costs of loving deeply.

My Rating: 7.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Overall I enjoyed the book, it ended up being a interesting read and the overall story was well done. I don't know a lot about the time period, but I think the author gave enough of a glimpse for me to want to seek out more historical fiction during the time period.  Writing was well done, I'll more than likely seek out more by the author at some point in time.

I did find it a little too short, and I think some plot and character development fell just a touch short because of it. There was some great story telling, and interesting characters, but I wanted more from them, especially Xenia, but the book ended before I could get that. There was a lot of stuff going on in the background, historical events, political etc. That were going on. Which I never got any details about - although this is both a good and bad thing. Good because the author focused on the main point of the story - Xenia and didn't pull away to give more details. But it's also a bad thing, because I wanted to know more.  

In the end, it was a good novella, that left me wanting to read more.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it was an interesting story, good characterization. I think there would be many readers who would love the book.

What to read next: I'd try out the author's other books

Challenges: 12 in 12

Sunday, October 28

Book Review: The Lost Garden


Title: The Lost Garden

Author: Helen Humphreys

Pages: 182

Summary: A 35-year old spinster with a wicked wit and a fondness for literature, Gwen arrives at her new post to find that the group of "Land Girls" she's to supervise have little interest in planting. They're far more eager to cultivate the human crop -- a regiment of Canadian soldiers stationed at the estate, awaiting their assignment. Allying herself with the Canadians' commanding officer, Gwen strategically wins the girls' cooperation by agreeing to a series of evening dances at which they may mix with the soldiers. Pleased to again be in control of her environment, Gwen makes two life-changing discoveries. The first is the existence of feelings she's never before allowed herself to experience. The second is a hidden, abandoned garden on the estate, the secrets of which Gwen is compelled to unlock.

My Rating: 7.25/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I liked the book, but I didn't exactly love it. I found it took a long time to warm up to the main character, and even then, she wasn't exactly the most likable person.
I found the ending was hurried. The author took care in developing the time spent building the relationship between characters and the story itself during of the time spent with the garden. Which was something I appreciated, some of the things that were revealed, particularly to the narrator about the other characters, were well done. Gwen does grow as a character, and this was mainly done through her interactions with the other characters, as it's revealed there was more to them than meets the eye. But the ending came, and it was wrapped up to fast, considering the time the author took to get to it.

I didn't exactly like the characters to much, although I didn't hate them either. While Gwen does grow by the end of the book, I disliked her and the way she treated most of the other characters throughout the  book. I did like how she started to grow by the end, she began to let go of her initial impressions of people, and open herself up, but I still didn't find her to be a likeable character. A well written one, yes. Unfortunately for me she wasn't one I enjoyed reading about, and since this was such a character driven book, I think how the reader reacts to Gwen influences the overall impression of the book. In the end, it was a good read.

Would I recommend it to read:  I would, it was an interesting story, it wouldn't be at the top of my list of recommended reads, but some readers would find it worth checking out.

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



Book Review: The Hound of Baskervilles


Title: The Hound of Baskervilles

Author: Arthur Conan Doyle

Pages: 174

Summary: It was a brave man who would cross the wild Devon moorlands in darkness.
For the ancient legend of the hound of the Baskervilles had persisted in family history for generations. Indeed it was Sir Charles’s mysterious death in the grounds of Baskerville Hall that brought Sherlock Holmes to the scene of one of his most famous and intriguing cases.

“He was running, Watson - running desperately, running for his life, running until he burst his heart and fell dead upon his face . . .’ What had it been, looming through the darkness, that could have inspired such terror? A spectral hound loosed from hell; or a creature of infinite patience and cunning, with a smiling face and a murderous heart. . . .

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Part of my love and appeal for the Sherlock stories, is Sherlock himself. He's up there with some of my all time favourite literary characters. I'm not exactly sure what draws me to him so much, but he's a character I love to immerse myself into. This story was no exception, although he was surprisingly absent from for a good part of it, when he does pop back into the story, it did make me smile.

The setting of the book worked great. Doyle knew how to set up the story in a way, you got  the feel for a good mystery book. You could almost feel the atmosphere the characters where in as they worked to solve the mystery. Which I think was the main reason why I enjoyed the book so much, was how it was set up. The entire plot and setting just added that extra push to make it an engrossing read. It also helped it was late into the evening and it was a windy and rainy night. A bit cliché I know, but it added that extra something to the book reading experience.

Doyle also always seems to do a good job at creating the actually mystery itself, as I always get a kick out of how Sherlock has solved the whole thing, because of some obvious fact like the type of newspaper a person has used to write a letter. His characterization on Sherlock was excellent, as I always enjoy reading about how Sherlock has figured out the latest clue, even if it's a little farfetched.

Overall, a great book. Not a big mystery fan, but I always enjoy a good story from Sherlock adventures.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, the novella was just as entertaining as the short stories I've read on Sherlock, and this is a type of mystery book I think even those who generally don't like mystery could enjoy.

What to read next: More Sherlock



Sunday, October 21

Book Review: The Furies

Title: The Furies (SGA 19 - Legacy Series Book #4)

Author: Jo Graham

Pages: EBook 292

Summary: The Enemy Within

When disaster strikes, the Atlantis team resort to desperate measures in their bid to save Doctor Rodney McKay from the clutches of Queen Death.

With the lives of McKay and Colonel Sheppard at stake, Teyla Emagan must once again assume the role of Queen Steelflower as she attempts a dangerous subterfuge – a subterfuge made more complex by a tentative alliance with Guide, the Wraith once known as Todd. But in order to deceive Queen Death, Teyla must embrace her Wraith heritage more closely than she has ever done before. So closely that she may lose herself forever…

As the web of intrigue, deceit and betrayal grows ever more tangled, this thrilling instalment of the Legacy series takes the team into the very heart of darkness.

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Overall I'm enjoying the wrap up of where the show left off, there has been some interesting twists and turns along the way, and this book was no exception, it left off having me hanging, and I can't wait to read the next book in the series, and then the final book, which hasn't come out yet. The story and plot was extremely well done, I liked, for the most part, where it was heading and some the twist it took, like Teyla becoming Queen Steelflower again. It's been very interesting to see that storyline re-emerge once again. Also, I've been loving Rodney's storyline, and I cannot wait to see how that will be wrapped up. I was also happy, for the most part, on characterization, there are certain things I dislike where certain plot threads, and continuity issues, but this author always seems to get the characters personalities and interactions with each other right.

 As I said above, I have some issues with the book. I'm trying to let them go, but it's still easy to be irritated when it deviates from what was on the show.Particularly with continuity, which happens in a lot in novelizations. They are little things, but when the show has shown one thing, and the book shows something completely contradictory to that, it bothers me. The biggest issue I had, was the hinting of a Teyla and John romance. I never pictured the two together on the show, good friends, but not romantically involved. It never fit, but the authors have been forcing this relationship together and it doesn't seem natural, is coming across as fan-fiction and it seems to be done to please the fans, and not progress the story. Which dislike a lot, and it seems to happen a lot in the novels of the series.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, it's one of the best in the Legacy series.

Would I recommend it to read: Again, only to Stargate fans, which I recommending becoming.

What to read next: Secrets

Challenges: 12 in 12, 100+ Challenge, Fall into Reading, Speculative Challenge

Book Review: North and South

Title: North and South

Author: Elizabeth Gaskell

Pages: 530

Summary: As the title suggests, it is primarily a study of the contrast between the values of rural southern England and the industrialized north; but through the medium of its central characters, John Thornton and Margaret Hale, it also becomes a profound comment on the need for reconciliation among the English classes, on the importance of suffering, and above all on the value of placing the dictates of personal conscience above social respectability. And in Margaret Hale, whose intensity, spiritual isolation and passion electrify the book, Mrs Gakell created one of the finest heroines of Victorian literature.

My Rating: 6/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: While I enjoyed the Victorian era writing style, I found the book to be bland, stretched out and didn't care for the heroine of the book, as I found her to be just another character who passed by in the book.

The issues and differences between the North and South during the time period were interesting. Gaskell did do a good showing the differences in life, language and general personality of those who live in the North versus those who live in the South. But I found the story dragged on there was a lot of fluff and repetitiveness between character interactions and how the story progressed. For example the amount of time she spent worry about her brother and how he could be arrested kept re-emerging throughout the book. The first time explains his character, afterwards it became boring and I began to lose interest.

I also wasn't impressed with the general characterization, which made the women appear silly, pathetic creatures. I realize this was a time when women were treated very differently and thought of as delicate, but the author went a little over the top. There development was not existent, Margaret was pretty much the same at the beginning as she was at the end of the book, and I don't see her as a heroine. She didn't do anything to deserve being labeled as one. The relationship between Margaret and Thornton seemed to try and touch on themes from Pride and Prejudice, but I felt the author failed at doing this. Their friendship and interactions seemed forced, and it didn't fit well with the story as a whole.

Overall, not my favourite of the classic, Victorian era books.

Would I recommend it to read: I'm not sure. I always love the style and narrative of Victorian era novel, but this one sort of fell flat of my expectations. Out of all the novels that are similar to this, it wouldn't be at the top of my list to recommend.

What to read next: Pride and Prejudice

Challenges: 12 in 12 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, 1001 Books Challenge, Alphabet Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

Saturday, October 20

Book Review: Everybody Has Everything

Title: Everybody Has Everything

Author: Katrina Onstad

Pages: 300

Summary: After a car accident leaves their friend Marcus dead and his wife Sarah in a coma, Ana and James are shocked to discover they have become the legal guardians of their 2 1/2 year old son, Finn. His crash landing in their lives through into high relief deeply rooted, and sometimes long-hidden, truths about themselves, both individually and as a couple. Several chaotic, poignant, and life-changing weeks as a most unusual family give rise to an often asked question: Can everyone be a parent?

Ana is a corporate lawyer whose dedication to an organized, elegant modern domesticity has grown of a messy bohemian past. James whose bravado and charm may not be aging so well, has been recently laid off from a high profile media job. Ana and James have tried to have children but it doesn't seem likely to happen, and while they've discussed adoption is still just an idea when Finn arrives to take centre stage in their lives, as 2 1/2-year-olds will do. Finn's presence, by turn delightful, heart-breaking, comical, and even frightening, as weak as the uncertainty of his mother's survival, illuminates the cracks in Ana and James' fragile urban existence.

My Rating: 6.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This was a book I was looking forward to reading, but once I read it I found I was rather disappointed in it. It wasn't necessarily a bad book, but it didn't meet my expectations and it was different that what I initially expected. I thought it might have been an emotional journey on parenthood. And while the themes the book did touch on were interesting, I didn't find it came together as well as it could have.

I enjoyed some of the themes in the book. Motherhood versus the working woman, what it means to be a woman without a child and the issues surrounding that, including emotional journey of the self versus societal views surrounding women who choose career over having children. For example; is it possible "have it all/be complete as a woman" and not be a mother, was a very important factor throughout the book. Although I did find that as much as I enjoyed the points the author was trying to make, they were often muddled, which I think was partly to do with characterization. The ideas started to form, and then they were left hanging, to work on character development. When you're not a fan of the characters, and don't feel their development went anywhere, it becomes a problem.

Characterization was a major issue for me. I found many to be stereotypical and flat characters. They didn't seem to have anything underneath the surface. How the lawyers, particularly the women lawyers were portrayed, was one example of this. They didn't seem natural to me, they just portrayed a general public view of what lawyers personality should be (harsh, over-organized, sacrifices family) and not one that is more natural. These traits are there, but it's not over-the-top like it was in the book, and they are not as prevalent as the book portrayed them to be. James also bothered me. While he did a good thing taking care of Finn, I always go the impression he was doing it for the wrong reasons. His demands on Ana, bothered me (which touches on the main theme in the book), and overall, he just didn't work for me as a character, and this heavily influenced my experience of the book.

In the end, had some good aspects to it, but also had a lot of aspects I didn't enjoy.

Would I recommend it to read: It wouldn't be on the top of my list, but I think some readers would enjoy the story.

What to read next: The other Giller Longlisters

Challenges: 12 in 12, 100+ Challenge, Canadian Book Challenge VI, Fall into Reading Challenge

Sunday, October 14

TSS: Read-a-thon - Final Thoughts

Hours Participated: 17 hours and 45 minutes. I would have had more coffee and tried to stay up longer, but I have commitments (Thanksgiving with the kids) today. Which I think I should be awake for.

Hours Read: 16 - 16.5 hours

Other/Blogging and Visiting: 1.5ish

Books Read: 2 books, 3 short stories (from a collection of 5) and 1 novella (from a collection of 3). Got half way through a 3rd book, and read some pages from another book I started befor the read-a-thon started

Currently Reading: I finished the read-a-thon off with the Mirrored World

Pages Read: 790

Challenges: 3 - Intro Meme, Halfway Meme and Wrap-Up Meme

Cups of Coffee Consumed: 3 Cups of Coffee and a Chi-Teach Latte

Personal Cheering Team Status: By the end of the night, Lupin was asleep on the cat condo. Tonks followed me to bed and fell asleep while I read in bed.

End of event meme

1) Which hour was most daunting for you?
2) Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
3) Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
4) What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
5) How many books did you read?
6) What were the names of the books you read?
7) Which book did you enjoy most?
8) Which did you enjoy least?
9) If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?
10) How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?


1) Near the end my last 1.5 hours I was drifting, To sleep.

2) Short Stories, Novellas or Short novels are best. Or a faced paced chunkster.

3) Nope.

4) It was a good read-a-thon.

5) 2 books, 3 short stories, 1 novella. And half way through a third book.

6) The Furies (SGA 19) - Jo Graham and The Hound of Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle. From the short story collection Vintage Munro I read: Moons of Jupiter, Progress of Love and Differently (by Alice Munro). From the collection of novellas titled Harvest Moon I read Tangled Web by Mercedes Lackey. I also got half way through the book The Mirrored World by Deborah Dean and I read about 19 pages from the book the Lost Garden by Helen Humphreys.

7) The end of the Furies and The Hound of Baskervilles

8) None

9) I was a reader, but Go Team Smarties!

10) Yes. And a Reader of course!

 

Saturday, October 13

Read-a-thon Update 3 - Half Way Point

Hours Participated: 12

Hours Read: 11ish - There was also a good 40 minutes when I read downstairs, so glances at Once Upon a Tine occurred between chapters :D

Other/Blogging and Visiting: 1ish

Books Read: 1 book, 2 short stories and 1 novella

Currently Reading: The Hound of Baskervilles - I had to tear my self away to do an update! It's the perfect setting for the book. Dark outside, wet, raining, I can hear the rain hit the window, and slosh on the road as cars go by. It's a crisp fall night and I'm wrapped in a blanket, with a cup of coffee. Could I ask for a better setting to read a Sherlock book?

Pages Read: 602

Challenges: Two I guess. Intro survey and mid point

Cups of Coffee Consumed: 3 and 1 Chi Tea Latte. Currently on my 3 cup.

Personal Cheering Team Status: Lupin is probably still watching Once Upon a Time with Dan and the kids. Tonks was perched on the back of my reading spot, staring out the window. She's lurking somewhere.

Mid-Event Survey

1) How are you doing? Sleepy? Are your eyes tired?
2) What have you finished reading?
3) What is your favorite read so far?
4) What about your favorite snacks?
5) Have you found any new blogs through the readathon? If so, give them some love!

1)  So far, so good. I doubt I'll make another 12 hours, but I'll try.
2) Finished The Furies (Novel) Two short stories from the collection Vintage Munro (Moons of Jupiter and Progress of Love) and One Novella from the anthology Harvest Moon (Tangled Web)
3) The end of Furies was good, I'm itching to get back to The Hound of Baskervilles
5) A couple - I usually go back the next day to take a better look

Read-a-thon: Update 2

Hours Participated: 9

Hours Read: 8 hours 15

Other/Blogging and Visiting: 45

Books Read: 1 book, 2 short stories and 1 novella

Pages Read:491

Challenges:0

Cups of Coffee Consumed: 1.5 and 1 Chi Tea Latte Personal Cheering Team Status: Lupin watching Once Upon a Time with the family, Tonks is napping and following me around the house where ever I go. She's been a great personal cheer leadr

Other: Still going strong. Slowed down at around 2 - 3:30ish. Although most days I find that's when I have a bit of a lull. Luckily the family brought me home some A & W. which helped wake me up, along with a chi tea lattee. Now trying to decide which book to read next. And check in on some other blogs.


Read-a-thon - Update 1

Hours Participated: 5

Hours Read: 5

Books Read: 1

Books Finished: The Furies - Jo Graham

Currently Reading: About to read a few short stories from either Harvest Moon or Vintage Munro, or maybe one from each.

Pages Read: 304

Challenges: None

Cups of Coffee Consumed: 1.5

Personal Cheering Team Status: Tonks has stolen my reading spot, and is napping. Lupin is in bed napping.

24 Hour Read-a-thon!

It's that time of year again! Time for the 24 hour read-a-thon. Why do I do this? Because it's an excuse to do nothing all day, but read, eat tasty snacks, read, and then read some more!

 You can also follow me on facebook and twitter by following the links on the sidebar or clicking the links above

Links:
  Website
Twitter: #Readathon
Facebook




Introductory Questionnaire

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?


1) Milton, Ontario, Canada

2) Tough One -  I've been waiting on both the Furies, 13 and The Mystery of Mercy Close for a long time.

3) Macaroons! Although the pinwheels are tasty as well (see picture below)

4) I'm a Law Library Technician, who has become addicted to pinterest to help with my cooking adventures, and so far all three recipes have been tasty! I have 3 cats, and a wonderful family of my partner and his two kids.

5) This is, my mu 6 or 7th....I'm donin what I always due, have fun

I have my list of books read to go. I won't read them all, but I have a good selection of mostly short, face-paced and/ or easy read books. Mixture of print, Kobo, kindle, Kobo for iPad as well. And don't forget my nifty Penguin, book themed mug!

1) The Furies - Jo Graham - 292 (Ebook)
2) The Baroque of Heaven -Suzanne Wood - 357
3) The War of the Worlds - H.G. Wells -212 (Ebook)
4) The Hound of Baskervilles - Arthur Conan Doyle - 174
5) Harvest Moon - Multiple Authors- 377
6) Black Beauty - Anna Sewell - 171 (Ebook)
7) Heidi - Johanna Spyri - 216 (Ebook)
8) The Mystery of Mercy Close - Marian Keyes - 501 (Ebook)
9) Evolve- Multiple Authors - 283
10) Dublin 4 - Maeve Binchy - 135 (Ebook)
11) Vintage Munro - Alice Munro - 196
12) Small Change - Elizabeth Hay - 244
13) The Mirrored World - Deborah Dean - 176 (Ebook)
14) The Penguin Book of Canadian Short Stories - Multiple Authors - 696
15) 13 - Kelley Armstrong - 442 16) Club Dead - Charlaine Harris - 192 (Ebook)











Above my reading spot and my lovely reading shall (its so soft!) and my snacks for the day. 

And of course I can't forget my personal cheering team! Below is Tonks the Calico, who is with me now, and Lupin, the grey cat, who is lurking around downstairs.







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Friday, October 12

Book Review: My Life Among the Apes

Title: My Life Among the Apes

Author: Cary Fagan

Pages: EBook - 133

Summary: A woman leaves her husband, a retired judge, when he refuses to give up his passion for performing as a magician ("The Floating Wife").

A young man exiled from the downtown arts scene finds himself living in the suburbs in a community of new immigrants ("Shit Box").

A widow moves to New York to confront the woman who was her late husband's mistress ("The Brooklyn Revenge").

A bank manager in a bad situation turns to his childhood obsession with Jane Goodall for inspiration ("My Life Among the Apes")

Contents:

The Floating Wife
Shitbox
I Find I'm Not Alone on the Island
Wolf
My Life Among the Apes
The Creech Sisters
The Brooklyn Revenge
Dreyfus in Wichita
Lost at Sea
The Little Underworld of Edison Wiese

My Rating: 7/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The last two stories in this collection saved the entire collection for me. Up until then it was an average collection, and I wasn't very impressed with it. But the last two stories in the collection ended up being fantastic, one of which will likely be one of my favourite individual short stories, I read all year.

One of the main factors I was originally struggling with the collection because I didn't like the first two short stories and had a hard time finishing them. I found they jumped around in the plot quite a lot. almost like a lot was edited out of them, to make them a short story. I felt at times they were missing the connectors from one paragraph to the next, and felt that story wasn't complete. Some of the other stories in the collection also had similar issues, where it just felt like pieces of the story were missing, but the first two where it was the most noticeable.

Fortunately, both Lost at Sea and The Little Underworld of Edison Wiese were spectacular stories. The ending of Lost at Sea, really added to the story, I disliked what a particular character did, but the end of it was surprising, and lovely at the same time. The Little Underworld of Edison Wiese, was by far probably one of my favourite individual short stories I've read all year. It was well written, well developed characters, and had a very interesting cast of characters as well and an overall fun story to read. The Brooklyn Revenge was also not a bad story, but the final two stories in the book steal the show away from the rest.

Although the collection started off slow, by the end it ended up being a decent read.

Would I recommend it to read: If you enjoy short stories I would. But it's not high on my list of recommend short story collections I'd recommended.

What to read next: The other Giller Longlisters

Challenges: 12 in 12, 100+ Challenge, Canadian Book Challenge VI

Monday, October 8

Book Review: Our Daily Bread

Title: Our Daily Bread

Author: Lauren B. Davies

Pages: 292

Summary: The God-fearing townspeople of Gideon shun the Erskine Clan, who live on North Mountain, and ignore the rampant child abuse and violence. On the mountain, twenty-one-year old Albert Erskine dreams of a better and safer life. In town, young Ivy Evans is relentlessly bullied by her classmates. Though her father, Tom Evans, is a well-liked local, his troubled marriage to a restless outsider is a source of gossip. As rumors and innuendo about the Evans family spread, Ivy seeks refuge in Dorothy Carlisle, an independent-minded widow who runs a local antique store. When Albert ventures down from the mountain and seizes on the Evans' family crisis as an opportunity to befriend Ivy's vulnerable teenage brother Bobby it sets in motion a chain of events which will change everything. Inspired by a true story.

My Rating: 9.25/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This book surprised me on how much I enjoyed it. As I was reading experts from the book, I did question if the book would be the right one for me. The topic matter, from the description and experts had me worried, so I was very wary about it. Surprisingly, the book ended up being a lot different than I expected. Although it was dark and twisted it ended up being a fantastic read, where I was frantically reading to the end during the climax of the book. Although the book touches on some horrific subject matter, it's almost entirely implied and never explained until the end at the trials. But what was implied to what happens up in the mountains, is just as tense, shocking and horrifying as it would be to the reader if it was explained. I much prefer it all implied, as the book is a heavy book to read. It's dark and twisted. It has some great passages that were wonderfully written, but it was a dark and twisted book. Filled with dark and twisted characters, who you rarely see, but are there lurking in the background, which I found added something to the whole reading experience.

The characters the reader does get to experience up close, where incredibly well written. Although in the latter half of the book, a few characters (Ivy for example) stories were almost completely forgotten and not as wrapped up as I would have liked, for the most part the characters were well developed. The cast of characters are ones who do stay with you after the book is finished. Albert, for example stays with you long after you finish the book. I can't say he's a character I liked, but he's a character that leaves an imprint on the reader.

A dark and twisted story, but one I had a hard time putting down - it was an incredible read!

Would I recommend it to read: I would. While it touches on some "heavy" topics and I think some readers would be turned off by this, it was a great book. Well written and developed characters. It's one of the books on this year's Giller Longlist (2012), that I would highly recommend. I'm shocked it didn't make the shortlist.

What to read next: The other 2012 Longlisters - you really don't know what you'll find until you read them all.

Challenges: 12 in 12, 100+ Challenge, Canadian Book Challenge VI, Fall into Reading Challenge

Book Review: 419

Title: 419

Author: Will Ferguson

Pages: 393

Summary: A car tumbles down a snowy ravine. Accident or suicide?

On the other side of the world, a young woman walks out of a sandstorm in sub-Saharan Africa. In the labyrinth of the Niger Delta, a young boy learns to survive by navigating through the gas flares and oil spills of a ruined landscape. In the seething heat of Lagos City, a criminal cartel scours the internet looking for victims.

Lives intersect, worlds collide, a family falls apart. And it all begins with a single email: “Dear Sir, I am the son of an exiled Nigerian diplomat, and I need your help ...”

419 takes readers behind the scene of the world’s most insidious internet scam. When Laura’s father gets caught up in one such swindle and pays with his life, she is forced to leave the comfort of North America to make a journey deep into the dangerous back streets and alleyways of the Lagos underworld to confront her father’s killer. What she finds there will change her life forever ...

My Rating: 3.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This book was a very frustrating read for me, and I pushed myself through it. It's not a book I enjoyed at all, and not a book I'd ever recommend.

The main story line was my first turn off. The huge emphasis and over explaining of how the internet scam worked bothered me to no end. It went on and on about exactly how the guy scammed Laura's father. I found it became to repetitive and had to put the book down multiple times, because of it. The second half of the book was a little more interesting, particularly when it focused away from the Internet scam and on Nnamdi's story, but I think by that point I was already far to frustrated with the book to truly care about the characters anymore.

I didn't find the multiple storylines pulled together at all. It felt very forced and convenient all these characters came together the way they did in the end. And I didn't care for how short the chapters were. I found that although it was a good idea to have the multiple story threads explained throughout the book, the short paragraph chapters at times, was to disruptive to bring everything together. Sometimes it was just a simple E-Mail for a chapter, but I didn't find it added anything to the book, instead of helping create a story with multiple story threads that would come together, I found it disrupted and hindered it.

In the end, this was not a book for me.

Would I recommend it to read: I wouldn't. It It's not a book that captured me, and I was far to frustrated with book to want to recommend it to anyone.

What to read next: The Other Giller Longlisters,

Challenges: 12 in 12, 100+ Challenge, Canadian Book Challenge VI, Fall into Reading Challenge

Saturday, October 6

Book Review: The Imposter Bride

Title: The Imposter Bride

Author: Nancy Richler

Pages: 357

Summary: When a young, enigmatic woman arrives in post-war Montreal, it is immediately clear that she is not who she claims to be. Her attempt to live out her life as Lily Azerov shatters as she disappears, leaving a new husband and baby daughter, and a host of unanswered questions. Who is she really and what happened to the young woman whose identity she has stolen? Why has she left and where did she go? It is left to the daughter she abandoned to find the answers to these questions as she searches for the mother she may never find or really know.

My Rating: 5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I didn't exactly enjoy the book, although I also didn't hate the book either. I just found it to be average read, with not a lot happening in it. It was a character driven book, more than a plot driven, but I found there wasn't a lot of character development in it. Nor was there anything to catch my attention and want to keep reading. I found it to be like all the other books out there with similar plots. It felt like I've read the story before, which made it easy to drift off while reading the book.

The book was well written, the author did do a good job at alternating between narratives, and ensuring the story was carried through. It jumps from timelines, past and present. But the author managed to keep the flow of the story throughout both. Unfortunately this book just wasn't the book for me, and it wasn't one I would recommend.

Would I recommend it to read: I didn't like the book. But I think a lot of reader out there would enjoy the characters and how the story surrounds them. But it wouldn't be the top of my list to recommend, even for character driven books.

What to read next: The Other Giller Longlisters, The Reliable Wife,

Challenges: 12 in 12, 100+ Challenge, Canadian Book Challenge VI, Fall into Reading Challenge

Book Review: One Good Hustle

Title: One Good Hustle

Author: Billie Livingston

Pages: 267

Summary: The child of 2 con artists, 16-year-old Sammie Bell always prided herself on knowing the score. But now she finds herself backed into a corner. After a hustle gone dangerously wrong, her mother, Marlene, is sliding into an abyss of alcoholic depression, spending her days fantasizing aloud about death--a goal Sammie is tempted to help her accomplish. Horrified by the appeal of this, Sammie packs a bag and leaves her mother to her own devices.

With her father missing in action, she has nowhere else to go but the home of a friend with 2 parents who seem to actually love their daughter and each other--and who awkwardly try to extend some semblance of family to Sammie. Throughout a long summer of crisis among the normals, Sammie is torn between her longing for the approval of the con-man father she was named for and her desire for the "weird, spearmint-fresh feeling" of life in the straight world. Sammie wants to be normal but fears that where she comes from makes that beyond the realm of possibility.

My Rating: 7.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I was surprised on how much I enjoyed this book. I thought the young adult narration and tone would be a big turn off for me, and although at times it was, I did find myself immersed in the book, and at times having a slight emotional connection to Sammie.

Sammie was a well written character. She was a character who at first glance was your typical teenager in a book, but eventually the reader sees that she's a fairly complex character. It did take me some time to warm up to her, but eventually I felt very emotionally connected to her and my heart went out to her at time as she struggled with her family issues, particularly in some scenes with her mother.

I did find parts of the story dragged on a bit. There were times where it took a while for the plot to move forward. I also found it was a bit heavy with the young adult drama that you see in all novels with a young adult protagonist (boys, friends, first jobs, growing up, etc). I'm not a big young adult reader, so generally when it has a heavy focus on the lives of a young adult, I find I lose interest. Luckily most the story was very strong, and kept me reading until the end. The ending was probably one of my favourite parts. It's an ending I think a lot of readers would be disappointed with, and generally endings like this I find myself disappointed with it, but this was a very fitting ending for Sammie and the book.

Not something I'd normally read, but I am glad I read the book as it turned out to be well worth reading.

Would I recommend it to read: I would. It was a well written book. Some good characterization, and generally a good read. I think YA readers would enjoy this book, along with readers like myself who veer away from YA fiction.

What to read next: The Other 2012 Giller Longlisters

Challenges: 12 in 12, 100+ Challenge, Canadian Book Challenge VI, Fall into Reading Challenge

Monday, October 1

September Wrap-Up

And another month has just flew right by. 3 months left of the year, which means there are only 92 more reading days left in the year. Yikes!  This month was another good reading month for me, and I managed to sneak a quick visit to Word on the Street. It was the first time I went there, but not the last. And I even managed a lot of self control and didn't allow many books to follow me home. This month I also focused heavily on the Giller Longlist books. I'm about half way through the longlist and have enjoyed the books for the most part. I'll do an update on that later when the shortlist is finally revealed.

The Books

I read some very good books this month save for one, but that one isn't finished yet. It may not ever be finished truthfully. I'm still trying to decided on that one. It's one of the books on the Giller Longlist. So I'm torn about it. Otherwise I enjoyed all the books I read this month. My favourite was by far Whirl Away. My least favourite was  three way tie between Hetty Dorval, Star Sullivan and the Long Song.

1.       Hetty Dorval - EthelWilson (Ebook)- 7/10
3.       Spell Bound - KelleyArmstrong - 7.5/10
4.       Star Sullivan - MaeveBinchy 7/10
5.       The Long Song - AndreaLevy - 7/10
6.       The Hundred ThousandKingdoms - N.K. Jemisin (EBook) - 7.5/10
7.       Whirl Away  -  RussellWangersky (Ebook) 9.5/10
8.       Dr. Brinkley's Tower -Robert Hough -7.75/10
9.       Y - Marjorie Celona (Ebook) - 9/10

The Challenges

I finished two challenges this month, but started a new challenge. Fall into Reading Challenge 2012 began on September 22. And I had to join it. I'm still very happy about my progress of the challenges. I should finish almost all of the this year. The one I'm doing the worse in is Mount TBR Challenge. But otherwise, I'm doing well.

Completed Challenges
Canadian Book Challenge VI - 13/13 - Completed September 1, 2012
Global Reading Challenge 2012 - 14/14 - Completed on September 13, 2012

Ongoing Challenges
12 in 12 - 95/144 - 66% Complete
Finish That Series Challenge 2012 - 0/3 - 0% Complete (4 books read from series one)
Ireland Reading Challenge 2012 - 6/8 - 75% Complete
Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2012 - 31/50 - 62% Complete
Speculative Reading Challenge 2012 - 15/24 - 75% Complete

Countries Visited

This month I managed to visit during my reading adventures. Canada, USA, Mexico, Jamaica, France and Ireland.



Books That Followed Me Home
So it seems a lot of books came home with me this month. I blame Word on the Street and the Giller Prize my self.


The Door: Poems - Margaret Atwood 
Murder in the Dark - Margaret Atwood
Quentins - Maeve Binchy
Scarlet Feather - Maeve Binchy
The Sometimes Lake - Sandy Bonny (EBook)
Y - Marjorie Celona (EBook)
Fifth Business - Robertson Davies
The Brightest Star in the Sky - Marian Keyes (EBook)
Under the Duvet - Marian Keyes (EBook)
Vintage Munro - Alice Munro
Everybody Has Everything - Katrina Onstad
Black Beauty - Anna Sewell (EBook)
Heidi - Johanna Spyri (EBook)
The Whilrpool - Jane Urquhart (EBook)
Whirl Away - Russel Wangersky (EBook)
The War of the Worlds - H.G. Wells (EBook)
Chef Michael Smith Fast Flavours