Wednesday, July 31

Book Review: Away From Everywhere

Title: Away From Everywhere

Author: Chad Pelley

Pages: EBook 271

Summary: Brothers Owen and Alex Collins are brought together when mental illness claims their father and sets off a chain reaction of unrelated, heart-breaking events. Both tender and bold in its delivery, Away from Everywhere cuts no corners in telling the story of their crushing childhood, the reasons the brothers become different men, and the unthinkable act of love that tears them apart.

My Rating: 10/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The description of the book, does not do it justice, as for the most part I was completely engrossed by the book. It was incredibly hard to put down, and once I was finished I was wanting more. The book definitely left and impression with me.

The book was a bit of a dark book and emotional book as it deals with a lot of issues surrounding mental illness. From depression, schizophrenia and substance abuse, the book is a heavy read. But the author has created such realistic, flawed characters, that you can't help but become lost in the book. I also enjoyed how the book was written, it wasn't exactly liner, but it bounced around from the present, to the distant past, and the month leading up to a terrible tragedy. It was a combination of journal entries and memories, but the author did a fantastic job at bring it all together.

Alex was a character, I never liked, I felt bad for the experiences he's faced, but at the end of the day, he was a bit of an selfish ass. But, his character is important, as it does show how everyone in the family deals with the kind of trials a family faces dealing with any kind of mental illness and tragedy and I have to give the author props for writing it in such a realistic way. The other characters were all well done. Owen, for example was a character, you can't pull away from. He's not a character you like, but he's a character you want to keep reading about.

The last few chapters of the book were fantastic and extremely well done. Although I kind of guessed where the author was going, it was still a great twist the author threw in there. I think he handled it very well, and made it seem natural and realistic. It was a fantastic way to end a book, although it left me wanting more, I think it worked out wonderfully.

Overall a fantastic read, which I highly recommend.

Would I recommend it to read: Oh yes, I would recommend the book. It's well worth checking out.

What to read next: Alias Grace, The Piano Man's Daughter and I would check out more by the author.

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 2013 Category Challenge, 7th Annual Canadian Book Challenge, Alphabet Challenge, EBook Challenge, Mental Illness Awareness Challenge, New Author Challenge

Tuesday, July 30

Book Reviews: A Wrinkle in Time

Title: A Wrinkle in Time

Author: Madeleine L'Engle

Pages: 245

Summary: Out of this wild night, a strange visitor comes to the Murry house and beckons Meg, her brother Charles Wallace and their friend Calvin O'Keefe on a most dangerous and extraordinary adventure - one that will threaten their lives and our universe.

My Rating: 7.25/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I enjoyed the book, but I didn't love it. It's a cult classic, which I never read as a child and perhaps it's why I don't have that connection to it, but it wasn't an amazing super fantastic read, like everyone talks about. It was a fun read, I felt it was original in the story and it was well written, but I just wasn't a spectacular read for me. Even after my second reading of the book, I didn't exactly connect to it.

The characters were well done for the most part, but I did find them to lack any real development, and I found their personalities to be somewhat repetitive throughout the book, there were times I felt like I read the same interaction between characters over and over again. Other characters just weren't very believable, like Charles Wallace. He's wise beyond his years, but he's written with the knowledge of a thirty year old, not a child, which didn't work well for me. It's a great book for children, I do think a lot of young readers would enjoy the book and they probably would connect to it a lot more than myself, but it just didn't do it for me in the end. It was a fun read, but it lacked the magic and appeal it seems to have for everyone else for me.

Would I recommend it to read: I would. I don't exactly love the book, but it's a fun read and it will likely be a great choice for children, especially reluctant readers.

What to read next: Wind in the Door, His Dark Materials series, Chronicles of Narnia

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 2013 Category Challenge

Book Review: Emma

Title: Emma

Author: Jane Austen

Pages: 495

Summary: The Most perfect of Jane Austen’s novels centers around twenty-one-year-old Emma Woodhouse comfortably dominating the social order in the village of Highbury, convinced that she has both the understanding and the right to manage other people’s lives - for their own good of course. Her well-meant interfering beginnings with the aloof Jane Fairfax, the dangerously attractive Frank Churchill, the foolish yet appealing Harriet Smith, and the ambitious young vicar Mr. Elton - and ends with Emma’s own complacency shattered, her mind awakened to some of life’s more intractable dilemmas, and her happiness assured. Jane Austen’s comic imagination is so deft and beautifully fluent that her stories probe the deepest human ironies while setting before us dazzling gallery of characters - some pretentious or ridiculous, some admirable and moving, but all utterly true.

My Rating: 7.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I enjoyed the writing, the overall story was fine, but the characters were a bit of a flop for me, as I never warmed up to them and I could never completely get into the story, because of I could never appreciate the characters. I will always love the writing style and narrative of Jane Austen, the writing is just lovely, and I always find I enjoy her books to some extent, even if the story doesn't work, because of the writing alone draw you in to the book.

The story was okay, and there were times I was interested in it, and times were I didn't want to put the book down, but that was mainly due to the writing. There were many times, I found I just didn't like the characters enough to be interested in the book enough to keep reading. Since the book is heavily character based, liking the characters is somewhat essential. I found they were all a bit frivolous and they weren't very likeable, I thought Emma would be a bit entertaining, as I expected her to be a little more eccentric, but she came off somewhat bland. The other characters were also a bit bland, and I felt that because there was such a large cast of characters, there was little development for any of them. I also found the book to drag out and it to be a bit repetitive in the day to day conversations on who is courting who, the opinions of character x and z.

Although sometimes I did get a laugh out of the cattiness of some of the characters towards each other, along with some of their inner thoughts of some of characters, which shows the author's wit, the overall story wasn't exactly what I expected. I really hoped Emma would be a character I would enjoy, but she was just lacking that pull to make me love the book.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it's not my favourite by the author, but well worth reading.

What to read next: Anything by Jane Austen, the Bronte Sisters, George Eliot

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 2013 Category Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

Monday, July 29

Book Review: Dead as a Doornail

Title: Dead as a Doornail

Author: Charlaine Harris

Pages: EBook 223

Summary: Small-town cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse has had more than her share of experience with the supernatural—but now it’s really hitting close to home. When Sookie sees her brother Jason’s eyes start to change, she knows he’s about to turn into a were-panther for the first time—a transformation he embraces more readily than most shapeshifters she knows. But her concern becomes cold fear when a sniper sets his deadly sights on the local changeling population, and Jason’s new panther brethren suspect he may be the shooter. Now, Sookie has until the next full moon to find out who’s behind the attacks—unless the killer decides to find her first…

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Not as good as the fourth book, but it was still a fun read. I am enjoying this series a lot, which does surprise me, as the paranormal romance just isn't my style, but it has been a great summer read, or fall read. And the series has surprised me on the twists and turns it takes, this book being no exception.

I really enjoyed how the focus was on the shapeshifters for this book, I found it interesting to finally get more information on who they are, how they work and the story behind them. I did find I wasn't a big fan of Alcide this time around something just seemed a little off about him in this book. Although he, and all the other characters and their development was well done. It's a slower process and it's more noticeable as I read on in the series, opposed to the individual book, but this one also had some focus on the growth as the characters as well.

I did feel a few bits here and there were dragged out and the ending of this one felt a bit predictable found that while I enjoyed the ending, it didn't come together as well as the fourth. It was also a l I didn't have that need to rush and read the next book. Otherwise, a good read, and I am looking forward to seeing how the rest of the series works out.

Would I recommend it to read: I would the series is shaping up to be a good one, it's a great choice for any paranormal fiction fan.

What to read next: Definitely Dead (the sixth book in the series)

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 2013 Category Challenge, EBook Challenge, Sookie Stackhouse Challenge

Sunday, July 28

Book Review: Wild Geese

Title: Wild Geese

Author: Martha Ostenso

Pages: EBook 255

Summary: Wild Geese caused a sensation when it was first published in 1925. To a generation bred on sentimental escapist literature, the idea of a heroine as wild as a bronco and as fiery as a tigress was nothing short of revolutionary. In the character of Judith Gare, Martha Ostenso had painted so naked and uncompromising a portrait of human passion and need that it crossed all bounds of propriety and convention.

Today, Wild Geese is widely recognized as a milestone in the development of modern realist fiction. Set on the windswept prairies, it is a story of love and tyranny, of destruction and survival, told with vigour and lyric beauty. It is also a poignant evocation of loneliness, which, like the call of the wild geese, is beyond human warmth, beyond tragedy, “an endless quest.”

My Rating: 9.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: A combination of a beautiful narrative and a strong-character driven novel, this book was a wonderful read.

There were times I was completely engrossed by the book, the narrative was lovely and there were a few passages that were absolutely stunning and profound. Some of the descriptive passages the author used and how they tied in with the emotions of the book and its characters created such a spectacular reading experience. Even if the book was a bit of a downer at times, the author managed to write such a wonderful and dark atmosphere for the setting, that it created very realistic characters that came alive off of the pages. I was anxiously awaiting the ending hoping that the characters get what they deserved -- both a happy and bad endings, depending on who the character was. I had a very passionate hate for some of the characters, others I wanted them to break free, which shows just how well written the characters were.

It was a slow moving, character driven book - but I loved how the author took her time to examine the characters personalities, their struggles and their fight for freedom. I did feel that some of these themes became repetitive and there was a time I was worried the story wouldn't carry forward, but it worked out in the end. Although there was a bit of repetition, I also think it was needed to help create the bond I had with the book. I also enjoyed how it highlighted life in the prairies during the time period and some of the hardships and sacrifices that it took to make a living. It wasn't the central theme of the book, but the author did touch on it and managed to tie it into the book nicely.

A stunning, engrossing read which will likely be one of my favourite reads of the year.

Would I recommend it to read: I would highly recommend this book. It was a very engrossing read, it's an excellent choice for Canlit fans, and a good choice if you want to try a new author. I do have to say, I read the afterword in my edition, and I did question, whether or not I read the same book as the afterword author. Some of the "themes" they touched on just didn't exist for me. Anyone ever have that problem before?

What to read next: I'd look at books by Margaret Laurence or David Adams Richards

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 2013 Category Challenge, 7th Annual Canadian Book Challenge, Alphabet Challenge, EBook Challenge, New Author Challenge

Book Review: Wildcatter

Title: Wildcatter

Author: Dave Duncan

Pages: 153

Summary: Throughout human history wildcatters, the first great explorers and prospectors to lay claim to newly discovered lands, have marched to the beat of a different drummer — motivated by a deep yearning to be the first to walk on uncharted land and benefit from treasures yet to be discovered. In the future, wildcatters in space will travel to exoplanets, located in The Big Nothing, to search for new chemicals which, when transformed into pharmaceuticals, might bring untold wealth and fame to the individuals and corporations that stake their claim for exclusive exploitation rights. Such is the quest of the crew of the independent starship Golden Hind, whose mission is to travel a year and a half to “Cacafuego”, beat the larger corporations to the exoplanets’ resources, and strike it rich for themselves. But will a yellow warning flag, already planted above the planet, stop them? Or will the Golden Hind’s prospector foray to the planet’s surface, possibly never to return alive? Wildcatter is a raucous tale of mystery, greed and passion, told by master story teller Dave Duncan, once himself a real wildcatter!

My Rating: 7/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I enjoyed aspects of the book and felt it to be both very creative and odd world the author created.

One of the major issues I had with the book was that while there was a lot of interesting and unique aspects to this world, there wasn't a lot of details or explanation to what everything is, how it's tied together. Things are mentioned, but only slightly touched on and then the author moves on to the next part of the book. Nothing, including the characters, were properly fleshed out. As a reader, we never got beneath the surface of anything in the book. I would have loved to gone deeper into this "universe" as the stuff I did read about and there was potential for a lot of interesting pieces to the story there.

I did enjoy the overall story, it's odd in many ways - like with a new race called Herms. Although it did add some interesting pieces to the book, their creation and description was very odd. Character interactions was also done fairly well, although again, it was very odd. I think that's the best way to explain the book as odd, a good odd, but it was odd. It wasn't like other Sci-Fi books I've read in the past, but it was refreshing. There were some interesting twists in the story to, and for such a short book, the author did manage to execute those fairly well, although I still wish more time was spent on explaining everything properly and not rushed through.

Overall, it was an a good read and well worth the chance I took when I grabbed it of the shelf.

This book was a library book, but when I picked it off the shelves, I didn't know what book it was. It was part of a program called "Blind Date with a Canadian Author" so all I got was a quick little blurb about what the book is about and what kind of readers may like it. All of which were fairly vague. It was interesting, but got me to read a book I may have never read before.  (Click here to see a picture of the covered book)

Would I recommend it to read: I suppose I would recommend it to Sci-Fi readers. I don't think it's a book for someone who doesn't read a lot of sci-fi, but if you enjoy Sci-Fi, than it is a good choice.

What to read next: I'd try the author again as he does write some good science fiction.

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 2013 Category Challenge, 7th Annual Canadian Book Challenge, New Author Challenge

Saturday, July 27

Book Review: Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show

Title: Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show

Author: Frank Delaney

Pages: 436

Summary: January 1932: Ben MacCarthy and his father watch a vagabond variety revue making a stop in the Irish countryside. After a two-hour kaleidoscope of low comedy, juggling, tumbling, and other entertainments, Ben's father, mesmerized by Venetia Kelly, the troupe's magnetic headline, makes a fateful decision: to abandon his family and set off on the road with Miss Kelly and her caravan. Ben's mother, shattered by the desertion, exhorts, "Find him and bring him back," thereby sending the boy on a Homeric voyage to manhood.

Interweaving a host of unforgettable creations - "King" Kelly Venetia's violent, Mephistophelean grandfather, Sarah Kelly, Venetia's mysterious, amoral mother; and even truth-telling ventriloquist's dummy named Blarney - Frank Delaney unfurls a splendid narrative that spans half the world and a tumultuous decade.

My Rating: 7/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I found that this book didn't live up to what I've read previously by the author. I wasn't pulled in like his previous novels have done for me and I found that magic just wasn't there either. It was still a good read, but it didn't have the same pull as I expected.

I did enjoy the narrative and writing style of the book, it wasn't as lyrical as I've read in the past, but it was one of my favourite parts of the book. I love how the author tells the story. I also really enjoyed the historical and political look at Ireland during the time period. I think the author executed that aspect o the book brilliantly, as he managed to tie it into the book to complement it, and not let it take over the story. Unfortunately, other aspects of the plot never quite kept my interest. While I found parts about the traveling show to be amusing at times, I found it just didn't come together as well as I would have liked. There were hints at some deep secrets, but they too weren't fleshed out. The book worked for me as a historical fiction, but there was a lot more to the book - and those parts just didn't come together for me.

The characters were a major downfall for me. I didn't exactly warm up to them, and I found that their development was missing from the book. They seemed to stay still throughout most of the story, and at times, when there was some development, it felt choppy - which at times I also felt that with part of the plot. It felt choppy, things didn't always connect together well, and I felt that it just didn't come together completely in the end.

Overall, I enjoyed the, it didn't have that same appeal to it as previous novels I've read by the author.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, I don't think it's his best book, but it was a great historical/political fiction, and there's a lot to take from it in the end.

What to read next: The Matchmaker of Kenmare and The Last Storyteller. Ireland and Tipperary are also well worth reading.

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, Ireland Reading Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

Book Review: April Morning

Title: April Morning

Author: Howard Fast

Pages: EBook 129

Summary: On the eve of the American Revolution, one battle changes a boy’s life—and a nation’s history—forever. On April 18, 1775, musket shots ring out over Lexington, Massachusetts. As the sun rises over the battlefield, fifteen-year-old Adam Cooper stands among the outmatched patriots, facing a line of British troops. Determined to defend his home and prove his worth to his disapproving father, Cooper is about to embark on the most significant day of his lifetime. The Battle of Lexington and Concord will be the starting point of the American Revolution—and the moment that Cooper becomes a man.

My Rating: 7.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Although it was a bit of a slow start, there were times I was engrossed by the book, other times it moved slowly, but in the end the author brought a very harsh and raw look at the war and how it affected those who fought in it.

The writing style and narrative were very well done, although there were times throughout the book I did find it moved slowly, which influenced how the plot was carried forward. There were a few spots throughout the book, where the plot didn't seem to move along enough, and others where it progressed just fine. I think the author did capture the time period wonderfully, he showed the reader the life during the brink of the Revolutionary War, the before and the start of it. It was an interesting contrast to see how the characters opinions and mindset changed during the short time of the story, from the pre-war life to the after. For such a short book, there was a significant amount of character development there, which I appreciated. I don't think I ever warmed up to the characters, but they were well written.

The battle scenes were powerful at times, in fact the whole outlook on the war was incredibly well done, and it was exactly the type of book I was looking for about the Revolutionary War. It showed the war and the battles for what they were, horrific. But it also showed the struggles for what the characters thought was right. I was very pleased with the book in the end, and overall it was an enjoyable read.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it was well written and an excellent book on the Revolutionary War. I think it's a great choice or historical fiction and wartime fiction fans.

What to read next: The Wars - Timothy Findley

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 2013 Category Challenge, EBook Challenge, New Author Challenge, War Through the Generations Challenge

Sunday, July 14

Book Review: The Nine Fold Heaven

Title: The Nine Fold Heaven

Author: Mingmei Yip

Pages: 303

Summary: When Shadow, a gifted, ambitious magician, competed with the beautiful Camilla for the affections of organized crime leader Master Lung, she almost lost everything. Hiding out in Hong Kong, performing in a run-down circus, Shadow has no idea that Camilla, too, is on the run with her lover, Jinying--Lung's son.

Yet while Camilla and Shadow were once enemies, now their only hope of freedom lies in joining forces to eliminate the ruthless Big Brother Wang. Despite the danger, Shadow, Camilla, and Jinying return to Shanghai. Camilla also has her own secret agenda--she has heard a rumor that her son is alive. And in a city teeming with spies and rivals--including the vengeful Rainbow Chang--each battles for a future in a country on the verge of monumental change.

My Rating: 8.25/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This book picks up pretty much where Skeleton Women leaves off, and by the end, pretty much all of the unanswered questions of are answered. I may not have enjoyed the book as much as Skeleton Women, but it was an excellent follow-up to the previous book and an excellent book on its own.

Like with Skeleton women, the narrative of the book carries the story forward and I found it was one of the main reasons why it was so hard to put the book down. While I did find that the pace was a little off in this book, it didn't seem to flow as well as it did with Skeleton Women, the narrative still had a very strong voice that kept me invested in the book.

The plot itself was also what kept me reading the book, which I finished in almost one sitting. While I was happing with how some things turned out there were other questions and pieces that seemed to be either unanswered or brushed off. I was hoping to find out more about Rainbow - but she seemed to be almost forgotten. In the book, her appearance was too short and I found she seemed to disappear from he book to soon. I was also hoping to see more of Shadow and Gao, although both of their endings to the book were very fitting, and consistent with who their characters were, I wanted just a little more from them.

My only other problem with the book was the ending, while I did like it, I did find it a bit predictable. It worked wonderfully with the story as a whole - but I was able to guess how things would turn out. It was a good ending though, everything came together nicely and I was happy (even the few predictable parts), with how certain parts of the ending turned out.

While I did enjoy Skeleton Women more, this was a excellent follow-up to the book - and like with Skeleton Women, I'd also recommend this one to read.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, I do suggest reading Skeleton Women first, as this book does carry on where Skeleton leaves off. While it can be read as a standalone, it does spoil events in Skeleton Women.

What to read next: If you haven't read Skeleton Women, then that's the book to go to.

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge

Note: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a review.

Book Review: Skeleton Women

Title: Skeleton Women

Author: Mingmei Yip

Pages: 353

Summary: Once upon a time in China, the most beautiful and gifted women were known as "skeleton women" - the ultimate femme fatales who could bring a man to his knees, or to his doom...When Camilla, a young orphan girl in Shanghai, is adopted and brought to live in luxury, it seems like a stroke of luck. But as Camilla grows to womanhood, she realizes that her "rescue" was part of gang leader Big Brother Wang's scheme. Camilla is trained in singing, dancing, knife-throwing and contortion - all to attract the attention of Wang's enemy, the ruthless Master Lung. Forced to become Master Lung's mistress, Camilla meets two other intriguing women. Shadow is a magician and rival for Master Lung's affections, while Rainbow Chang dresses like a man and wields power through her incendiary gossip column. Both pose risks to Camilla's safety and status. But an even greater danger comes in the form of Master Lung's eldest son, Jinying, who despises his father's violent lifestyle - but loves Camilla. Only by plotting to eliminate Lung can she make her escape, but at what cost?

My Rating: 9/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I was quite gripped by the book and there were many times I found it hard to move down. The plot wasn't a faced paced one, but I found that in this case, a slow moving plot worked wonderfully. The author had a excellent balance of plot, setting and character development - although the book is more character driven than anything else, it still made for an exciting read.

The characters in the book were well done, very fleshed out and had a steady development throughout the book. I can't say I had a favourite character, but I was becoming invested in the characters and how things would turn out for them. I really enjoyed Shadow and Camilla's "friendship" and I was hoping that would be more prominent in the book. I was also hoping we'd see more Rainbow in the book and her interactions with the other two Skeleton women - while I did enjoy the romantic element and how it brought some of the characters together, I would have liked to see more of the trio of women and their interactions.

The ending was well done and leaves off with you wanting more. Things are left off very open and a lot of questions unanswered. Although there's a follow-up book, which will likely answer those questions, even without it, I think the ending was very fitting for the story and its characters, things may have been open in the ending, but it definitely works with he story as a whole. Overall a wonderful and highly recommend read.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, this was an amazing book, and one that is well worth checking out.

What to read next: The Nine Fold Heaven, which is connected to this book. Memoirs of a Geisha would also be a good choice.

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 777 Challenge, Alphabet Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

Book Review: Dead to the World

Title: Dead to the World

Author: Charlaine Harris

Pages: EBook 245

Summary: When cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse sees a naked man on the side of the road, she doesn't just drive on by. Turns out the poor thing hasn't a clue who he is, but Sookie does. It's Eric the vampire—but now he's a kinder, gentler Eric. And a scared Eric, because whoever took his memory now wants his life.

My Rating: 8.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The fourth book in the collection, is probably my favourite so far, the further into the series I get, the more I fall in love with it. While I do find some aspects of both the book and series to be a bit repetitive (the "drama " between Sookie and Bill's relationship for example) and I don't exactly love all the characters, it's becoming favourite "I can't wait to read the next book series" of mine.

I was very involved with this book, especially compared to the others, I have to say I like both sides of Eric, but it was an interesting and fun twist to see his "new" self, especially how he interacted with Sookie. I also enjoyed seeing some other characters that we meet in the previous novel and the almost complete absence of Bill was also nice - as I never liked the character. I have to say, that the deeper I get into the series, the more fleshed out the characters become. While sometimes I feel there isn't a lot of development in the individual book, as a series they are developing nicely. I'm not sure if I have a favourite character yet, although Sam, Alcide and Eric are up there.

I also found the plot of this book to be far more interesting than the other three I've read. I was more involved in this one, as I tried to figure out what would happen next, and of course solve the "mystery" of the book. I was kind of hoping the ending of the book turned out slightly differently when it came to Eric, but I still enjoyed it nonetheless. It's a fun read and it gives a good chuckle now and then, but mostly it has caused me to become very invested in the story and its characters. Which surprises me because I never thought I'd like the series as much as I am, but the books are getting better, as the series goes on. I'm also enjoying how the "supernatural world" is mixed in with the "regular world" I think the author has done an excellent job at combining them, it's a bit different than some of the other series I've read, but I find it interesting.

Overall it was an excellent addition to the series, and I'm itching to read the next book.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, the series as become very addicting and it's a great book for a summer day. They're fun reads, but they do remind me a lot of the Women of the Otherworld series, so if you enjoyed those books, than this is a good choice to fill the void now that the series has ended (at least for me).

What to read next: Dead as a Doornail (book five in the series), The Women of the Otherworld Series

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 2013 Category Challenge, EBook Challenge, Sookie Stackhouse Challenge

Saturday, July 13

Book Review: The Mysterious Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Title: The Mysterious Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Pages: 353

Summary: Eight puzzling mysteries featuring the world’s most trusted detective. With the faithful Dr. Watson at his side, Sherlock Holmes, the famed genius detection, attempts to solve a series of seemingly impossible cases. From the surprising case of The Resident Patient to the sinister tale of The Crooked Man, no case is too challenging for Holmes. In these timeless whodunits, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle shows readers that Sherlock Holmes is indeed the master of deduction.

The Greek Interpreter
The Gloria Scott
The Resident Patient
The Boscombe Valley Mystery
The Noble Bachelor
The Crooked Man
The Five Orange Pips

My Rating: 7.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I enjoyed this short collection of stories about Sherlock Holmes, although compared to some of his other adventures, this one didn't grip me as much as I'd have liked.

I think one or two of the mysteries have appeared in other anthology collections about Mr. Holmes, as some did seem familiar to me, which might have added to me feeling a little disconnected from this collection. Normally, I love reading stories about the detective as I find Sherlock Holmes a very interesting and fun character to read about. In this collection I didn't get that same feeling. I do find how Sherlock solves the mysteries and his quarks amusing, he's usually a fun and eccentric character to read about, but this collection just didn't show them as much as others have.

The stories were good, some more interesting than others and I did enjoy the collection, just not as much as I thought I would. In the end, a good collection, but not the best example of what Sherlock is capable of.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, but I think it would be better to read the complete Sherlock collection as a whole rather than in pieces, as I think the characters development and how the stories connect would work a lot better.

What to read next: More Sherlock Holmes

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 2013 Category Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

Sunday, July 7

Book Review: Gold Digger

Title: Gold Digger: A Klondike Mystery

Author: Vicki Delany

Pages: 314

Summary: It's the spring of 1898, and Dawson, Yukon Territory, is the most exciting town in North America. The great Klondike Gold Rush is in full swing and Fiona MacGillivray has crawled over the Chilkoot Pass determined to make her fortune as the owner of the Savoy dance hall. Provided, that is, that her twelve-year-old son, growing up much too fast for her liking; the former Glasgow street fighter who's now her business partner; a stern, handsome NWMP constable; an aging, love-struck ex-boxing champion; a wild assortment of headstrong dancers, croupiers, gamblers, madams without hearts of gold, bar hangers-on, cheechakos, and sourdoughs; and Fiona's own nimble-fingered past don't get to her first. And then there's the dead body on centre stage.

My Rating: 6/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The book had some interesting bits and a lot of potential, but in the end it didn't exactly work out for me as it had too many elements that bothered me.

There were aspects of the book I did enjoy. I think the author did a good job at shaping the community and life during the time period in the Yukon during the Gold Rush. From a historical fiction side of things, the book does work fairly well at giving the reader a fairly solid idea to what life was like during the time period. Unfortunately I also felt that some of the characters didn't mesh well with the story as a whole and their characteristics and development overpowered the plot, in a bad way. Fiona, who was the main character, was a character I just couldn't stand. I hated her. To be blunt, she was a snob, and because of how she was portrayed it had a major effect on how much I enjoyed the book. I  also found that the were a lot of redundancies throughout the book, for example the amount of times a character would tell another character to watch their language, occurred far more than it was needed.

The mystery side of the book also had potential, but it didn't seem to be executed properly. It was almost as if it was close to being an engaging read but something just never sat right with how everything played out. I think this was mostly due to how the characters were written, but it just never came together to keep me interested. Again, Fiona's character overpowered the entire book, in a very negative way, and by the time I finished it I was more focused finishing the book so I didn't have to read about her character, than the actual ending.

Would I recommend it to read: I'm not sure. I think mystery fans may find it interesting as well as historical fiction fans, but I'm not sure it would be high on my recommendation list.

What to read next: Gold Mountain and Gold Fever, which are the other two books in the series.

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 2013 Category Challenge, 7th Annual Canadian Book Challenge, Alphabet ChallengeMystery and Crime Challenge, New Author Challenge

June Wrap-Up!

How is the year half over? Anyone? I'm not sure where the time has gone, but it seems to be disappearing quickly. And right now I am starting to be a little bit worried about my reading goals. I've been in a reading rut lately, and I can't seem to focus on what to read next. I'm hoping this changes in the second half of the year. At least with it being summer, things in job and real life have slowed down a little, but still, this side of the calendar, the end of the year looks a lot closer.

The Books

I'm still in a bit of a reading rut, I did read  couple of good books this month, but I just can't get out of this rut  I'm in. Maybe July will be my month. One book worth mentioning is The Memory Man by Lisa Appignanesi, which was easily my favourite book this month. And I'd highly recommend this one. My least favourite was The Turncoat.

1. The Twelve Tribes of Hattie - Ayana Mathis - 7.75/10
2. The Painted Girls - Cathy Marie Buchanan - 7.5/10
3. The Blondes - Emily Schultz - 4.75/10
4. The Turncoat: Renegades of the Revolution - Donna Thorland - 3/10
5. The Kingdom of Gods - N. K. Jemisin - 7/10
6. The Garden of Evening Mists - Tan Twan Eng - 8.25/10
7. Ink - Amanda Sun - 7.5/10
8. The Memory Man - Lisa Appignanesi - 9.5/10
9. Eight Girls Taking Pictures - Whitney Otto - 6/10

The Challenges

Okay, now I'm slightly worried. While most challenges are looking good, there are a few that I need to concentrate on, like some of my categories for the category challenge, and my Mount TBR Challenge.  But I do still have six months. I will be joining a new challenge in July, The Canadian Book Challenge VII. But that is one I know I can finish. We'll see about the others.

1. 100 Books in 2013 Challenge - 60/100 -60%
2. 2013 Category Challenge - 54/131 - 41%
3. 777 Challenge - 4/7 - 57%
4. Alphabet Challenge 2013 - 29/52 - 56%

5. E-Book Challenge 2013 - 28/50 - 56%
6. Finish That Series Challenge 2013 - 1/4 (Series), 2/7 (Books) - 25%
7. Ireland Reading Challenge 2013 - 4/10 - 40%
8. Mental Illness Advocacy Challenge - 4/12 - 25%
9. Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2013 - 29/75 - 38%
10. Mystery/Crime Reading Challenge 2013 - 4/5 - 80%
11. New Author Challenge 2013 - 39/50 - 78%
12. Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge 2013 - 1/5 - 20%
13. War Through the Generations Challenge 2013 (American Revolutionary War) - 2/3 - 66%
14. 50 Book Pledge - 60/100 - 60%

Countries Visited

This month during my bookish adventures I travelled to: Canada, USA, France, Malaysia, Japan and Austria.

Create your own travel map - TravBuddy

Books That Followed Me Home

The Last Storyteller - Frank Delany


Dead a a Doornail - Charlaine Harris
The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow - Rita Leganski
Degrees of Nakedness - Lisa Moore
Before I Go To Sleep - S. J. Watson 

And that's it for June! Enjoy the summer and hopefully some great books come your way.