Sunday, September 29

Book Review: Missing

Title: Missing

Author: Frances Itani

Pages: EBook 44

Summary: Twelve-year-old Luc Caron sees two German planes shoot down a British plane in the skies over his village in northern France during WWI. He watches in horror as the pilot falls to his death. Luc carries the burden of being the only witness to the scene for years to come. The Greenwoods live in Canada. Their son, a pilot, has been missing for 11 years. In 1928, they receive a package from England containing a letter and three objects found at the site of the plane crash. How is the mystery of the missing pilot solved, bringing peace to Luc and to the pilots parents? Missing is based on a true story.

My Rating: 6.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I enjoyed this one. It was a nice, quick little read, and the plot was well done.

I'm unsure at the audience level of the book. It feels like it's a young adult book, perhaps a juvenile fiction - by the way it was written and how it comes off to the reader. But, I'm unsure if it's the target audience. The content itself is mild enough for the audience - but it felt off, because I couldn't figure the audience level. I didn't exactly like the narrative - as I found it to be simple, and I wanted something more in-depth, but it did a good enough job telling the story. I did enjoy the story, considering it was a novella, it was very well done. I just wish the narrative itself was different - I think the narrative prevented me from having a more emotional bound with the book. Because, there was a powerful story there, I was just distracted by the narrative.

Overall, not a bad read.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it was a quick little read, the narrative set aside, it's worth reading.

What to read next: I'm not sure on that one. This one had a WWI theme, so more WWI books would be a good start.

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 7th Annual Category Challenge, Alphabet Challenge, EBook Challenge

Book Review: The Truth About Delilah Blue

Title: The Truth About Delilah Blue

Author: Tish Cohen

Pages: EBook

Summary: Delilah Blue Lovett has always been a bit of an outsider, ever since her father moved her from Toronto to L.A. when she was eight, claiming Delilah’s mother no longer wanted to be part of their family. Twenty now and broke, but determined to be an artist like her errant mom, Delilah attends art class for free -- by modeling nude at the front of the room, a decision that lifts the veil from her once insular world.

While Delilah struggles to find her talent, her father, her only real companion, is beginning to exhibit telltale signs of early-onset Alzheimer’s. And her mother, who Delilah always assumed had selfishly abandoned them, is about to reappear with a young daughter in tow . . . and a secret that will change everything. Delilah no longer knows which parent to trust -- the only one she can really rely on is the most broken person of all: herself.

My Rating: 6.25/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I started off not liking the book, but I was becoming invested in it by the end. Although there was still a lot about the book that bothered me, I am glad I read it, it read. It was something new, and a good story overall.

This book was a book I nearly stopped reading a few time. I couldn't connect to the characters, the narrative was awkward and almost crude at times. I had a hard time getting into the book because of in the beginning because of the writing. The plot also took it's time to grab my attention, but the plot did grab me eventually. By the end, I was reading the book quickly - and not because I was trying to be done with it, like I had been in the beginning, but because I wanted to see how the story was end. And the end is enjoyable, it ties everything up, almost to perfectly, but it does work. I was more invested in Victor's story than anything. It takes a side note in the book, but I think the author did a fantastic part at creating his character and his struggles.

The characters were also something I had some issues with. Despite some of Victor's decisions in life, he was the only character I liked. I despised Delilah's mother. World's biggest flake comes to mind, and Delilah wasn't a very likable person either. I think the character's were why I struggled with the book so much. Although the plot and narrative had aspects to them I didn't like, but they at least would have been far more tolerable, had the characters been remotely tolerable. By having only one character I could enjoy, it also had a major impact on the book. But, what surprised me the most, was, by the end, I liked it - to some extent.

Sure it wasn't my favourite read, but there was something there that kept me reading and made me enjoy it to some extent in the end.

Would I recommend it to read: I'm not sure. Perhaps the author. Although, the book turned out to be better than I initially thought, I'm undecided on whether or not I'd recommend it.

What to read next: I'm at a complete loss on this one.

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

Book Review: The Best Place on Earth

Title: The Best Place on Earth

Author: Ayelet Tsabari

Pages: 231

Summary: Confident, original and humane, the stories in The Best Place on Earth are peopled with characters at the crossroads of nationalities, religions and communities: expatriates, travellers, immigrants and locals.

In the powerfully affecting opening story, “Tikkun,” a chance meeting between a man and his former lover carries them through near tragedy and into unexpected peace. In “Casualties,” Tsabari takes us into the military—a world every Israeli knows all too well—with a brusque, sexy young female soldier who forges medical leave forms to make ends meet. Poets, soldiers, siblings and dissenters, the protagonists here are mostly Israelis of Mizrahi background (Jews of Middle Eastern and North African descent), whose stories have rarely been told in literature. In illustrating the lives of those whose identities swing from fiercely patriotic to powerfully global, The Best Place on Earth explores Israeli history as it illuminates the tenuous connections—forged, frayed and occasionally destroyed—between cultures, between generations and across the gulf of transformation and loss.

Contents:
Tikkun
Say It Again, Say Something Else
Brit Milah
Poets in the Kitchen Window
Casualties
Invisible
Below Sea Level
A Sign of Harmony
Borders
Warplanes
The Best Place on Earth

My Rating: 9.25/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This book surprised me on how much I liked it, because in the beginning it had interested me, but I had my eyes set on a different collection. But the more I read it, the more I became immersed in the short stories and the characters in them. It became hard to put dow, and it was a book where I was torn from trying to devour it in a setting, to trying to savour it.

The author is a debut author, which I'm struggling with, because her writing style and ability to create such a full and developed short story was extraordinary - she writes at the level of a season author. The writing alone kept me invested in the book, plus to have such concrete and well rounded characters, along with the plots of the individual stories in the collection, it made for an excellent reading experience.

There were a handful of stories in this collection that I wanted more from. They had a full story to them of course, but they were written well enough, that I became invested in the characters and wanted just a little more to see how things had turned out for them. Poets in the Kitchen Window and Invisible, are two examples of this. They were two of my favourites, although I do have more, these two do stand out the most. Casualties and Warplanes also stick out for me, and the first story in the book, Tikkun, was also a very memorable one. From start to finish, this collection captures you, keeps you reading and leaves you wanting more.

A fantastic collection of short stories, which I'd highly recommend.

Would I recommend it to read: I would. This was a lovely collection of short stories, especially considering it was a debut. Any fan of short stories would enjoy this one, and I think a lot of those who are on the fence about short story collections would also find this collection to be well worth reading.

What to read next: I'd keep out a look out for more books by the author, Whirl Away would also be a good choice, and perhaps Lift Lightning.

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

*This book is part of an on-going theme I'm currently doing alongside the Giller Prize reading, titled Jules' Book Reviews Prize. Click Here for further details.

Book Review: The Second Life of Samuel Tyne

Title: The Second Life of Samuel Tyne

Author: Esi Edugyan

Pages: EBook 263

Summary: In this riveting narrative of family and middle-age angst, Esi Edugyan gives us Aster, an all-white suburban enclave. Far removed from the frenzied ways of city life, this small town at first seems an idyllic place to hide away, a place for a man like Samuel Tyne -- an African immigrant caught in an impassive marriage, nursing a tenuous connection to his twin daughters, and harboring a growing hatred for his government job -- to escape to. When his uncle Jacob suddenly dies, leaving him a rural estate, Samuel promptly packs up his reluctant family, and moves them to his uncle's crumbling mansion. But Samuel soon discovers that Aster is not the haven he had wished for. In fact, there's a strangeness to the town only to be outdone by the strangeness of his own daughters, who are particularly affected by the town's odd goings-on, including a number of mysterious fires. In short order, the new life Samuel Tyne envisioned for himself begins to disintegrate as a dark current of menace is turned upon his family.

My Rating: 6.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Even now, long after I've finished this book, I'm unsure on how I feel about it. It was a very slow moving book, with both the narrative and the development of the plot and characters - it felt almost "sleepy" in how everything was expressed and told to the reader. It's also a book which I liked it, but at the same time I didn't - and I'm still not exactly sure why.

The story itself had a lot to it. There's Samuel, who has tried to start a new life for himself, hoping things will turn out the way he want. There's his family, who are for the most part, useless in everything they do. They were a miserable lot, under achievers, but their future took a unexpected twist part way through the book. There was also the issues surrounding Samuels twins, and their storyline. I was starting to guess at a few plot points, but it was an interesting twist in the book. Unfortunately, I felt it was an aspect of the book that was explored enough. I don't have a favourite character, nor do I have one I could say I could connect to. Although I don't think they were poorly written characters, but they lacked something to ground the reader.

The author did a good job at creating the atmosphere of the book. It's a downer, there's no arguing that one, but the author creates a very complex set of circumstances and manages to tie everything together fairly well. I enjoyed the ending of the book and it set up a bit of intrigue for the reader. Near the end, I did find I was beginning to lose interest, but the last few pages, the author managed to snatch my attention back - although I was left with a lot of questions, it was a very fitting ending. The writing was solid - especially considering this was her first published book. I think the writing was likely the main reason why I stuck with the book. The plot wasn't bad, but it was just .... missing something to keep me invested.

Would I recommend it to read: I would I think. It's hard to say, the book wasn't bad, but it was different. I think some readers would like it, while others would struggle with this one.

What to read next: Half-Blood Blues, Under This Unbroken Sky

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 7th Annul Canadian Book Challenge, EBook Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

Saturday, September 21

Jules' Book Reviews Prize

As I've said in the previous post, (you can find it here) I'm going to do my own "Giller Prize" although there's no prize, and it has nothing to do with the Giller prize, except the books that were also on the eligible book list for the Giller Prize. The last few years when they post the list of all of the eligible books, I go through and try to cut the list down to the books I'm interested in and I try to look for some books that might expand my reading comfort zones - although three year doing this, I still stick fairly close to my comforts, I have found some good reads. I've already weeded the books I want to read from 147 (141?) to 38. So, as I read the real Giller list, I'm going to try to do a Jules' Book Reviews version of it. Only, there is no real prize, but there are a handful of books, I think deserve some attention. I'm going to try to make a list of 13, I hope I can cut it down to that amount, and then later cut that list down to 5, like the real prize. And I'll aim to have it done by the end of October, early November. This should give me a lot to read, and something to read in-between waiting for the books from the real Giller list to come in at the Library (which, as it always happens to me, they all come in at the same time.)

Here's my list of books, it's harder than I thought to pick a list of 13 books. I had the 38 books I was interested and cut down to about 25 - which took no time, but then I had a lot of trouble cutting it down 13. Again, the hardest part, is basing it off first impression based of the summary blub of the book, but I did it. So, here's my list, and the reasons behind it are below.

- Clear Skies, No Wind, 100% Visibility by  Theodora Armstrong - 7.5/10 - My Review 
- The Lion Seeker by Kenneth Bonert
- The Luminaries by  Eleanor Catton
- The Empty Room by Lauren B Davis
- Beauty Beneath the Banyan by  Crystal Fletcher - 10/10 - My Review
- Under Budapest by  Ailsa Kay - 5/10 - My Review
- A Beautiful Truth by Colin McAdam - 4.5/10 - My Review
- Bone and Bread by Saleema Nawaz - 7/10 - My Review 
- A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki - DNF
- Every Little Thing by Chad Pelley
- Rupert's Land by Meredith Quartermain
- In the Land of Birdfishes by  Rebecca Silver Slayter
- The Best Place on Earth by  Ayelet Tsabari - 9.25/10 - My Review




The Best Place on Earth by Ayelet Tsabari - I chose this one, because I've already started to read it, before they announced the list, and although I'm not finished, I love the collection of short stories. I'm surprised this one didn't make it on to the longlist because so far it's been a stunning collection of short stories. (Actually, in the time it has taken me to write the post, (days), I've almost finished the book. And it is well deserving to be on my list)



The Empty Room by Lauren B. Davis & Every Little Thing by Chad Pelley - Both of these authors I've read in the past, and both of the first books I've read by them were stunning. Lauren B. Davis' book I read last year (Our Daily Bread), which appeared on the 2012 Giller Longlist, was one of my favourite reads - it was also one of the books which surprised me the most on how much I enjoyed it.


In the Land of the Birdfishes by Rebecca Silver Slayter - This was one of the books that after reading the description, I immediately wanted to read it and own it. It's a book I am itching to read, so it's going on the list.



The Lion Seeker by Kenneth Bonert, The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, A Beautiful Truth by Colin McAdam, Bone and Bread by Saleema Nawaz and A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki - These five books made the list because they seem to be highly talked about around the blogverse and book world. I've seen a lot of promotion for them aswell and on some other bloggers, authors lists who were guessing which books will make the cut, many of these were there. Others were also highly recommend or received rave reviews. There are one or two books on this list, that now looking at reviews and the plot a second and third time, that I'm unsure of are for me. But, books can surprise you.






Clear Skies, No Wind, 100% Visibility by Theodora Armstrong - Out of the short story collections I have on my list, this one stood out the most. So it made the cut.





Rupert's Land by Meredith Quartermain - I was trying to decide between this one and The Orenda, both look to be great reads. In the end, this one made the cut.




Beauty Beneath the Banyan by Crystal Fletcher and Under Budapest by Ailsa Kay - These were the last two books to be added to the list, and boy was it hard to condense the list down to 13. I of course haven't read any of the books yet, so I was doing purely on how much the plot description interested me. It was hard, but in the end, these two had the leg up above some of the others.


And there you have it, my own list. On top of the real list, and on top of all of the other books I plan on reading from now to the end of the year..... well, at least the library card will be well used. I hope the bookstore won't be too jealous.

I am interested in knowing what, if any, books would be on your own lists? Anyone have a different set of books? Or a book or four that aren't on my list, or the real list?



Giller Fever - 2013

It's that time of year again, the days are cooler, cold even. The air is crisp, the leaves start to turn bright reds and oranges, and everyone around you has the sniffles. For some of us, it means Giller Fever has come. What is Giller Fever? Well, it's the need to run off, read, discuss, read all about the books, on the longlist/shortlist and see if you agree or disagree with who is on there, and who will eventually win.

First symptoms are looking through the list of 140+ books that are eligible for the prize, and adding many, or for some, all the books to mount tbr and then trying to determine what the jury panel is thinking and who might appear on the longlist. The second symptom is marking down the release date, of the longlist announcement, and subtlety checking your phone or computer at work, to sneak a glance at the list. (This year, I waited to my lunch break, but the urge to sneak off and check was there.) Next comes the discussions, posts, perhaps disappointment and joy at who is on the lists - symptoms here vary. While your bookish friends are happy to discuss all of your thoughts and opinions, your other friends look at you blankly or they nod and smile, but they don't seem to get what the fuss is about. Also, your book shelves will probably start to protest, hoping you use the ol' library card, instead of visiting your favourite book store.

Which brings be to the next set of symptoms, the ones where you either exercise that library card or bank card, where you forgo sleep in attempt to read all the longlisted books before the short list comes out. Which is next to impossible. You walk around in wrinkled clothes, hair is frizzy, and you've probably had your eighth cup of coffee. You start to make complex charts and perditions at who will make it to that shortlist, and of course later who will win - yet despite that, you never quite get it right.

Okay, so I'm not that extreme..... but I do catch Giller fever, the need to see if which books are going to be the talk of CanLit - and my library card is being heavily exercised because of the longlist. I have to say I'm surprised with what's on this year's list. I like to go through the eligible book list and see which books appeal to me and which ones I like, or ones that look interesting enough, but might expand my reading comfort zones. So far I've managed to limit that done to about 38 books that interested me, although this year I was a little more cut throat than I have been in previous years. Of my own list of books that interested me, only three are on this year's longlist, although there may have some that were ones I was on the fence about. So, this will be an interesting Giller season for me, because the majority of book aren't exactly ones I'd normally pick up and read. Which is a good and bad thing. Good, because I may find my next great read, bad because I fear there might be more than one book on the list I just won't like.

Although, the experimenting with new books can surprise you, especially when you read them all from the list. Last year, one of the books I wasn't very interested in, ended up being my favourite read of the entire list, and one of my favourite reads of the the majority of book aren't exactly ones I'd normally pick up and read. Which is a good and bad thing. Good, because I may find my next great read, bad because I fear there might be more than one book on the list I just won't like. The books do surprise you, especially when you read them all from the list. Last year, one of the books I wasn't very interested in, ended up being one of my favourites from the entire list and one of my favourite reads of the year. While another book I was looking forward to, so much that I bought it pretty much right away, ended up being mediocre for me. So, with that being said, I am going into this list with an open mind, and will see what happens.

The 2013 Longlist list is: (Also the link to got to the Scotiabank Giller Prize Website)

• Going Home Again - Dennis Bock - 3.25/10 - My Review
• The Orenda - Joseph Boyden
• Hellgoing - Lynn Coady - 7.25/10 - My Review
• Cataract City - Craig Davidson
• How to Get Along With Women - Elisabeth de Mariaffi
• Extraordinary - David Gilmour - 8/10 - My Review
• Emancipation Day - Wayne Grady
• October 1970 - Louis Hamelin
• The Son of a Certain Woman - Wayne Johnston - 3/10 - My Review
• The Woman Upstairs - Claire Messud - 5.5/10 - My Review
• Caught - Lisa Moore - 7.5/10 - My Review
• The Crooked Maid - Dan Vyleta - 8.5/10 - My Review
• Minister Without Portfolio - Michael Winter - 6.5/10 - My Review




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So as I've said above, only three of the books were on my radar when I went through the eligible book list, The Orenda, Caught and The Crooked Maid. And the first two of those books were already on my tbr list, because I enjoyed the author's previous works, so of course I want to check out their other books. I've seen The Women Upstairs a few times in book stores or mentioned by others, but most of the other books on the list are unfamiliar. All but four authors are new to me, so I'm having a lot of trouble trying to guess who will make it to the shortlist, let alone who will win. So this year's guessing, will have to wait until I've read more of the books. I am surprised a few titles I saw on the eligible list didn't make the cut, as there were a few on there that had me wanting to grab them up right away. Which is why I've decided to do my own version of the Giller Prize click here to get all the details.

Please feel free to join in with me for discussions, thoughts, reviews on either the real list or the fake list. I know I'm not the only one to catch Giller Fever!

Book Review: Men of the Otherworld

Title: Men of the Otherworld

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Pages: 346

Summary: Bestselling author Kelley Armstrong has long captivated readers with her trademark portrayal of strong, unusually gifted women who populate her Otherworld series. Now for the first time in this collection of four tales, she gives centre stage to the men who love these sexy, supernatural women - the men who love of the other side of humanity . . . the wild side. From the nature of fear, weakness, and courage, to the triumph of belonging and the complications of love and loyalty, these mesmerizing tales reveal the trials of a werewolf coming of age and lay bare the hearts and minds of the men who are strong enough for the Women of the Otherworld.

My Rating: 8.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I loved this interconnected story, which is connected to the Women of the Otherworld. Although it only focuses on the Werewolf pack and even then, Clay and Jeremy get most of the spotlight, it was a very enjoyable read.

Watching Clay grow up, learning his experiences and how he developed was very interesting and well done. And it helped me appreciate him as a character more, especially knowing what he's like in the series. Clay has always been one of those questionable characters for me, but this helps a lot with his development as a character and made me like him even more. There were some moments in his childhood, that he remembers and tells the reader that made me laugh out loud, the kindergarten classroom pet was one of them. There is one nitpick I have with Clay, and it has to do with his accent. It is really nitpicking there, but I do question it now, I would like to go into further details, but I don't want to spoil anything. Jeremy also had a few, chapters in the story, and we saw him develop as a character, yet he still is a bit of a mystery. I did find the last story, which focused on him to be the weakest of the collection, it felt off. But, learning more about him, his beginnings and the how and why behind him, even if it was through Clay's eyes, was interesting, and again, helps build him as a character.

Overall, I found this one to be an amusing read, which complements the series nicely.

Would I recommend it to read: I would. If you're a fan of the series, this is a must read. It was funny and the background on Clay helped bring him out as a more fleshed out character to what we've seen in the series. I do recommend reading at least the first 10 books of the series before this one. While it doesn't out right give major spoilers, there are a few things, that are brushed on later in the collection.

What to read next: If you haven't read the Women of the Otherworld series than that's a good place to start. There's also the second collection of short stories, Tales From the Otherworld.

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 2013 Category Challenge, 7th Annual Canadian Book Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

Book Review: Sweetness in the Belly

Title: Sweetness in the Belly

Author: Camilla Gibb

Pages: 408

Summary: Set in Emperor Haile Selassie's Ethiopia and the racially charged world of Margaret Thatcher's London, Sweetness in the Belly is a richly detailed portrayal of one woman's search for love and belonging. Lilly, born to British parents, eventually finds herself living as a devout Muslim woman in the ancient walled city of Harar in the years leading up to the deposition of the emperor. She is drawn to an idealistic young doctor, Aziz, but their love has only just begun to fulfill its promise when the convulsions of a new order wrench them apart, sending Lilly to an England she has never seen and Aziz into the darkness of a revolution.

My Rating: 7/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I enjoyed parts of the book. It was well written and it had some interesting parts to it, but in the end I found it didn't come together for me.

I felt Lilly as a character was what threw me off from the book. I didn't like her as a character and found a lot of her development forced. Her romantic relationship with Aziz, lacked in anything that I found was a meaningful relationship, because I never felt the was any connection between her and Aziz and I felt their relationship felt very forced and unbelievable. I also couldn't connect to her emotionally. There were a lot of other characteristics about Lilly I disliked as well, she was a harsh, hardened character, which worked well for the experiences and what happened in her past, but I found that, she wasn't very likeable, she was to one-sided. I did enjoy some of the supporting characters, but even then, I found much of their interactions and emotional bonds forced to help move the story along, rather than allow it to come naturally.

I think the author did a good job at creating Lilly's spiritual and life journey while she was in Ethiopia. The author seemed to have done her research well, in this aspect of the book. Both the spiritual side and historical aspects of the book worked out well. I enjoyed the story more in the parts in England than Ethiopia, as I felt some of the spiritual side of things were becoming repetitive, but I still think the author did a great job there. The author took care at bring the cultural and spiritual side of things to life for the readers, and it was woven into the characters development fairly well.

Overall, not a bad read, but not exactly a great read for me.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, I didn't love the book, but the author did a good job with it. It wasn't my cup of tea, but a lot of readers would enjoy Lilly as a character and the journey she goes on.

What to read next: Cutting for Stone

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

Saturday, September 14

Book Review: Norwegian Wood

Title: Norwegian Wood

Author: Haruki Murakami

Pages: EBook 282

Summary: Toru, a quiet and preternaturally serious young college student in Tokyo, is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual passion is marked by the tragic death of their best friend years before. Toru begins to adapt to campus life and the loneliness and isolation he faces there, but Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of life unbearable. As she retreats further into her own world, Toru finds himself reaching out to others and drawn to a fiercely independent and sexually liberated young woman.

My Rating: 6.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: There were parts I enjoyed, while others not so much. The author is definitely one I'd go back to, but I'm not sure if this was the best place to start, as the first book to read by this author.

I'm not sure of things were lost due the translation, or if they were originally just that awkward but there were a few times where words and phrases just didn't fit with the rest of the paragraph or section of the novel - and this wasn't awkward because the characters themselves were awkward or had scattered thoughts. It broke up the rest of the novel and what I found to be incredible writing.

At times what the author had to say was quite profound, although other times, I found it to be somewhat juvenile. I had a hard time placing this book, as there were times it felt like a book aimed to a young adult audience, while other times it felt like it was aimed for an adult audience. With that being said, the book and characters are in a time where they are on that cusp between being a young adult and adult, and the author showed that well, but I still felt there were a lot of pieces, especially with certain characters that were juvenile. It often felt out of place and disrupted the narrative. Midori was one example of this as I began to dread any scene she was in. She wasn't a very likeable character and I don't think she meshed well into the rest of the story.

The story itself was well done, it's a depressing story and quite heavy, but the author shows the struggles the characters go through beautifully. He shows the reader, all of the raw emotions and experiences his characters go through, and he did it very well.

Would I recommend it to read: I would. I don't think this is the best book to start with if this is your first time with the author, but it is a book well worth reading.

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

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 2013 Category Challenge, 777 Challenge, EBook Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge, Mental Illness Advocacy Challenge

Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Title: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Author: Stephen Chbosky

Pages: 213

Summary: It is the story of what it's like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie's letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates, family dramas, and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, where all you need is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.

My Rating: 6.75/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: For the most part liked the book, I wouldn't say I loved it, but it was well written. The author captures Charlie's voice incredibly well, and shows his struggles through tying to find himself during his high school years, and trying to be accepted. It also covers a lot of issues surrounding mental illness and the struggles it causes. Both by those who struggle with it, along with how it affects those who are close to people who struggle with it.

I think how the author chose to tell Charlie's story was also a great way to really get deep into Charlie's mind. I had a hard time connecting with him on an emotional level, but I think those who are closer to the audience level of the book, or are in similar circumstances to what Charlie is experiencing will really connect to the book on an emotional level. With that being said, I also disliked this method to tell the story, because there were times I wanted to know more than what Charlie was telling us, what he saw and experienced, and I never really got that.

One other thing I didn't like was that I felt it became a little repetitive in the day to day life of what Charlie was telling us, especially in the middle of the book. I was hoping the story would push forward a little faster. I was waiting for the reveal - which was done extremely well, but I think it took longer than needed to get there.

In the end, it was a good book, but I think I would have enjoyed it more if I were younger and much closer to Charlie's age.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, it is definitely better suited for the YA audience. Adults would appreciate it, but it being a young adult book, I think young adults or fans of young adult fiction would appreciate it more.

What to read next: Norwegian Wood, Speak

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 2013 Category Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge, Mental Illness Advocacy Challenge, New Author Challenge

Sunday, September 8

Book Review: The Soldier's Song

Title: The Soldier's Song

Author: Alan Monaghan

Pages: EBook 203

Summary: Dublin, 1914. As Ireland stands on the brink of political crisis, Europe plunges headlong into war. Among the thousands of Irishmen who volunteer to fight for the British Army is Stephen Ryan, a gifted young maths scholar whose working class background has marked him out as a misfit among his wealthy fellow students. Sent to fight in Turkey, he looks forward to the great adventure, unaware of the growing unrest back home in Ireland. His romantic notions of war are soon shattered and he is forced to wonder where his loyalties lie, on his return to a Dublin poised for rebellion in 1916 and a brother fighting for the rebels. Everything has changed utterly, and in a world gone mad his only hope is his growing friendship with the brilliant and enigmatic Lillian Bryce. "The Soldier's Song" is a poignant and deeply moving novel, a tribute to the durability of the human soul.

My Rating: 3/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I didn't like this book much at all, it wasn't a very good reading experience for me, there were very few qualities in the book that kept me wanting to read the book.

One of the biggest issues I had, and I'm not sure if it was a problem of the EBook formatting or if that was the way the author intended it, was the changing of scenes, time and time. There was no transition, no warning, no breaks. One paragraph would be a scene discussing the character who has just joined up to the army, the next paragraph he is almost finished his training. It became very frustrating and I had to re-read pieces of the book over again just to make sure I wasn't missing anything crucial. It was very jumbled and disconnected way to tell a story. The quality of it was fairly good, but I think so much of it was lost because of how it was formatted.

I also felt the entire book lacked emotion, strong characterization and kept up in a monotone voice throughout the book. The characters were static, throughout the book, along with the most plot. For a book set during the first World War and political crisis in Ireland pretty much nothing happens. Even the scenes depicting battles felt like someone had just told me in passing that all this horrific stuff happened. Near the end, there was some pieces about how Stephen has been affected by the war, but by that point it was to late - nothing up to that point led me to care about him as a character, so trying to make him more realistic in the last few pages was too late.

Overall, not a good book for me, I'll read the next book in the series, as I already own it, but I doubt I'll continue with the third

Would I recommend it to read: I don't know if I would there was too much I didn't like about the book to recommend it. What to read next: The Soldier's Return and The Soldier's Farewell

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, EBook Challenge, Ireland Reading Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge, New Author Challenge

Book Review: A Fine Balance

Title: A Fine Balance

Author: Rohinton Minstry

Pages: EBook 574

Summary: With a compassionate realism and narrative sweep that recall the work of Charles Dickens, this magnificent novel captures all the cruelty and corruption, dignity and heroism, of India. The time is 1975. The place is an unnamed city by the sea. The government has just declared a State of Emergency, in whose upheavals four strangers--a spirited widow, a young student uprooted from his idyllic hill station, and two tailors who have fled the caste violence of their native village--will be thrust together, forced to share one cramped apartment and an uncertain future.

As the characters move from distrust to friendship and from friendship to love, A Fine Balance creates an enduring panorama of the human spirit in an inhuman state.

My Rating: 9/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I started off with this book slightly apprehensive the first book I read by the author didn't work out for me, and parts of the book were graphic and disturbing. There were also some bits, in this book that were in the previous book that I disliked, so it took a while to warm up to it. While it started off slightly slow, soon the book became next to impossible to put down and in the end it became a wonderful book, well worth reading.

I wouldn't say I loved or really liked the characters, but they were memorable and I did want to know how their story would end. The characters were all well rounded, broken and deeply flawed - sometimes I found them to be a bit irritating, like Om. He was a character, who although had an atrocious past, was one I often wanted to smack upside the head. But, for his age and events in his past, the author did a great job with him. Many of his actions and attitude may have bothered me, but for who he was and his past versus his present, he was a well created character. All of the characters were written like this, the author did a wonderful job at fledging out all of his characters. They may not be ones you will love, but they do stick with you long after you've finished the book.

How the characters all came together was also a highlight of the book. It may have been a little convenient at times, on just how certain things worked out and when they did, but I think the family the four main characters built and how it came that way was written fairly naturally. It also complimented the happenings and turmoil in the rest of the book, along with the minor characters nicely. Everything connected together fairly well, I was very surprised how the author executed this it and how well it worked out for him.

The ending was fantastic. The one part I was starting to guess at, yet it still shocked me when it happened. It's a bit bittersweet, maybe more bitter, but I liked it a lot. It fit the book perfectly, but it wasn't overly depressing either. It's hard to describe my feelings for the ending, without spoiling the book, but the author did a good job with it. I don't think I'd have it any other way.

Would I recommend it to read: I would. This book exceed expectations especially compared to the first book I read by the author, which nearly turned me off reading other books by him. The book is dark, very dark and disturbing. It can also be very graphic, so while I do recommend it, I know it isn't for everyone because of some of the content, it was disturbing at times.

What to read next: This won the Giller prize, so I'd say fellow Giller winners.

Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 2013 Category Challenge, 7th Annual Canadian Book Challenge, 777 Challenge, EBook Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge

Saturday, September 7

August Wrap-Up!

It's hard to believe summer is over and that there is only four months left in the year - only about 120 reading days left! (Probably less now) Yikes! August wasn't a bad reading month, although my goal to cut down my TBR list has been a bit, er detoured, because of the books that followed me home, I did read a couple of books that I had on Mount TBR for a while. I also had a semi-theme going on. Richard Castle. (I attend Fan Expo, a convention, like comic-con, where I had hoped to meet Nathan Fillion and get him to sign one of my Castle books, but I never got a chance to meet him). Either way, I'd recommend the books, they were fun reads. Back to the reading, challenge wise I know some I won't finish, but I don't care as much as I have in the past. I have a few challenges I know I'll finish and a handful of books I plan on reading before the year is done. I'm pretty sure I'll have my reading goal of 131 books read by December, otherwise, I'm enjoying (for the most part) the books I'm reading.

The Books
This month was an okay month for me. Most of the books were just average for me, a couple of them weren't my cup of tea, but there were one or two, that were incredible. My favourite book this month was The Diviners by Margaret Laurence, followed by Alice Munro's Open Secrets. My least favourite was Moebius Squared. I do have (at least I hope) a handful of books I hope to read in the upcoming months that will likely be fantastic reads, but I would like to have that feeling of "I Just read an awesome book" like I did with The Diviner, rather than, it was an okay read but that's all I can say about it.

1. Open Secrets - Alice Munro - 9/10
2. The Forgotten Garden - Kate Morton - 8.5/10
4. A Wind in the Door - Madeleine L'Engle - 4.5/10
5. Under the Sun - Justin Kerr-Smiley - 7/10
6. Moebius Squared - Jo Graham and Melissa Scott - 3/10
6. The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gailman - 4.5/10
7. The Kissing Man - George Elliott - 7.5/10
8. A Brewing Storm - Richard Castle - 7.5/10
9. A Raging Storm - Richard Castle - 7.75/10
10. A Bloody Storm - Richard Castle - 7/10
11. Baking Cakes in Kigali - Gaile Parkin - 6.5/10
12. The Diviners - Margaret Laurence - 10/10


The Challenges
By this point, I think it is safe to say my 2013 Category challenge is one I probably won't finish. Actually, I'll be surprised if I do finish this one. I think I may give up one of the categories, (Wheel of Time) which would open up space and time for the other categories - but I do want to finish that series, sadly I need to re-read the first six books to do that. Luckily for some of the other challenges, I know they'll be finished, some very soon. The New Author Challenge for example will be finished the end of September, and there are about four other challenges that I will have finished by the end of September or October, depending on m reading moods. I think the only other challenge I foresee any major issues with completing is the finish that series challenge - but the next two months may prove me wrong.

100 Books in 2013 Challenge - 85/100 -85%
2013 Category Challenge - 73/131 - 55%
7th Annual Canada Book Challenge - 7/13 - 54%
777 Challenge - 5/7 - 71%
Alphabet Challenge 2013 - 37/52 - 71%
E-Book Challenge 2013 -38/50 - 76%
Finish That Series Challenge 2013 - 1/4 (Series), 2/7 (Books) - 25%
Ireland Reading Challenge 2013 - 5/10 - 50%
Mental Illness Advocacy Challenge - 5/12 - 42%
Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2013 - 38/75 - 51%
New Author Challenge 2013 - 48/50 - 96%
Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge 2013 - 3/5 - 60%
50 Book Pledge -85/100 -85%


Countries Visited
This month my reading travels, I managed to pop by to; Canada, USA, Australia, England, Rwanda, Russia, Egypt and an unnamed island in the South Pacific




Create your own travel map - TravBuddy


Books That Followed Me Home
This month was close to being a completely Canadian book month. Save for the Castle books. I am really trying to branch out my Canadian literature and author reads. Sadly, because of this, my TBR list has grown to an endless amount of books. I also tried to fill in the gaps on my library shelves for some books, I mean, I can't have two of the three books in the MaddAddam trilogy, even if I've already read Oryx and Crake, it wouldn't be right for it to be the only one in the trilogy not to have a spot on the shelves!

Life Before Man - Margaret Atwood
Oryx and Crake - Margaret Atwood
MaddAddam - Margaret Atwood
The Time in Between - David Bergen
A Brewing Storm - EBook - Richard Castle
A Raging Storm - EBook - Richard Castle
A Bloody Storm - EBook - Richard Castle
Storm Front - Richard Castle
The Butterfly Plague - Timothy Findley
Coppermine - Keith Ross Leckie
As Birds Bring Forth the Sun and Other Stories - Alistair MacLeod
Consumption - Kevin Patterson Irish Country Christmas - Patrick Taylor
Contemporary Canadian Women's Short Stories - Edited/Compiled by Lisa Moore