Saturday, July 31, 2010

I love the summer, especially the summer here in Toronto. There is so much amazing stuff to do around the city and throughout Ontario. Unfortunately, extremely hot weather (above 40C with the humidity) and getting sick partway through the month means I haven't been able to do all I had planned for the summer. Hopefully the weather will cooperate for August because I have a lot I want to do before my husband and daughter head off to school.

One good thing about the hot weather keeping us indoors a bit more means more reading! One book of note that I read (and will post the review for soon) is A Year of Living Generously by Lawrence Scanlan. He spent twelve months working with twelve different charities both at home (Ontario) and abroad. This book is eye-opening and inspiring. He showcases the work that so many people are doing to make this world a better place and how people like you and I can get involved and really make a difference.

In July, the longlist for the Man Booker Prize was announced. This is for the best novel of the year written by a citizen of the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland. So far I have only read one book on the long list (A Long Song by Andrea Levy) but I'm hoping to change that greatly by the time the prize is announced in October.

Also, if you're near the Toronto area you may be familiar with the Word on the Street festival that happens every September. It's a fabulous book and magazine festival and they now have their blog up and running. At the beginning of the month they announced that Yann Martel will be their headlining author.

I hope you all are enjoying your summer and happy reading!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Book Blogger Hop

Happy Friday! These summer weeks sure seem to be going by fast. I can't believe it's almost August (and the long weekend here.) Only one more month until my husband heads back to work and my daughter heads off to Kindergarten! Got to make sure we really enjoy this month.

The Book Blogger Hop is hosted at Crazy For Books. It's a great way to meet other book bloggers as there are over 200 participants every Friday! If you have never done it before, check it out. If you are visiting from the hop, welcome!

Last week I came across a really cool blog through the hop. The name of the blog is Musings of a Bookshop Girl. She runs a secondhand bookshop with her mom (don't we all dream of that!) so not only does she review wonderful books, but she has great stories about what goes on at the bookshop. Definitely check that one out.

The question for this week's blog hop is "Who is your favourite 'new to you' author this year?"
My pick is going to be Carmen Reid. I picked up "The Personal Shopper" this year, really enjoyed it, and was thrilled to find out that it's a series of 4 books with the 5th due out next year.

I must mention two other authors who I will be reading more of - Sophie Hannah who writes mysteries/thrillers and Tiffany L. Warren who writes Urban Christian fiction.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and happy hopping!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

"Paris Times Eight" by Deirdre Kelly

Paris Times Eight is the story of Toronto writer Deirdre Kelly's love affair with the city of Paris and the important role her travels to the city played in her life. She began travelling to Paris as a young woman working as an au pair and eventually travelled there seven more times in many different roles - writer, daughter, fiancee, and mother among many others.

This was an interesting book. Women will be able to relate to the growth we all go through as we fall into our true selves, and the role that outside forces play on our development. Travellers will be able to relate the love you can have for a foreign place and how our travels often lead to self-discovery.

If you have been to Paris you will love the tours of the city that Deirdre Kelly takes you on. This is not a tourists guide of Paris, rather she explores the history and landscape through the eyes of a foreigner in love with all the city has to offer. However, if you haven't been to Paris, you may find yourself lost in her city. While Kelly's writing is beautiful in its descriptiveness, for me at times I felt like I was in a "you had to be there" story.

I would recommend this book to anyone who has had (or is in) a love affair with Paris or who enjoys travel memoirs.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine to showcase the upcoming releases we are looking forward to. My pick this week is:

Last Night at Chateau Marmont by Lauren Weisberger
Release date: 17 August 2010

Brooke loved reading the dishy celebrity gossip rag Last Night. That is, until her marriage became a weekly headline. Brooke was drawn to the soulful, enigmatic Julian Alter the very first time she heard him play "Hallelujah" at a dark East Village dive bar. Now five years married, Brooke balances two jobs - as a nutritionist at NYU Hospital and as a consultant to an Upper East Side girls' school, where privilege gone wrong and disordered eating run rampant - in order to help support her husband's dream of making it in the music world.

Things are looking up when after years of playing Manhattan clubs and toiling as an A&R intern, Julian finally gets signed by Sony. After Julian is asked to perform on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno he is catapulted to stardom, literally overnight. At first the newfound fame is fun - who wouldn't want to stay at the Chateau Marmont or visit the set of one of television's hottest shows? Yet it seems that Brooke's sweet husband - the man who can't handle hot showers and wears socks to bed - is increasingly absent, even on those rare nights they're home together. When rumours about Brooke and Julian swirl in the tabloid magazines, she begins to question the truth of her marriage and is forced to finally come to terms with what she thinks she wants - and what she actually needs.

I am such a big fan of Lauren Weisberger. Her books introduce us to fascinating, high-paced worlds (magazine publishing, public relations) and are like sitting down with gossip magazines, only there is no need to feel embarrassed by your reading selection! Thankfully, I have only a few more weeks to wait for this one to come out.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"The Ex-Mrs. Hedgefund" by Jill Kargman

Holly Talbott is married to the founder of Comet Capital and reluctantly falling into her place as a hedgefund wife. As a stay at home mom to son Miles, she lives in a world of excess and luxury, spending her time at black tie charity auctions and lunching with the other hedgefund wives while their husbands are away on their many business trips.

But when a spontaneous adventure with her sister-in-law Kiki leads her to the shocking discovery that her husband has been unfaithful, Holly soons finds herself having to choose between keeping her life of luxury or living a life of integrity. If choosing to leave her husband means becoming an outcast in her Upper East Side world, will Holly be able to survive?

The Ex-Mrs. Hedgefund is a fun look at the life of excess led by those in the financial world prior to the economic collapse. It is a world most will only be able to glimpse through books and Jill Kargman has portrayed it well. The character of Holly is an honest woman who finds herself moving up the social and economic ladder only to find it's not all it's made out to be. She is a relatable character for readers, which often is not the case in books about this type of crowd. The Ex-Mrs. Hedgefund is a lovely and fun read.

Jill Kargman's website

Sunday, July 25, 2010

In My Mailbox #11

It's Sunday and time for In My Mailbox, a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren to show what books we got over the past week.

This week I got two books from the library:

A Year of Living Generously: Dispatches from the Frontlines of Philanthropy by Lawrence Scanlan (2010)

Can one person make a difference? When we write a cheque to a charity or volunteer at a food bank, we're part of the solution-aren't we? Author Lawrence Scanlan went looking for answers to those questions by selecting twelve different charitable organizations and spending a month in each. What he discovered during his year-long odyssey was the new face of philanthropy-its players, its politics, its undeniable satisfactions and its fundamental perils. This fresh and critical look at diverse approaches to the troubles of the world's less fortunate demonstrates the compelling need for greater commitment and real connection from us all-individuals, philanthropists of every stripe, and government.

The Bishop's Man by Linden MacIntyre (2009)
Known to fellow priests as the "Exorcist" because of his special role as clean-up man for the Bishop of Antigonish, Duncan has a talent for coolly reassigning deviant priests while ensuring minimal fuss from victims and their families. It has been a lonely vocation, but Duncan is generally satisfied that his work is a necessary defense of the church. All this changes when lawyers and a policeman snoop too close for the bishop's comfort. Duncan is assigned a parish in the remote Cape Breton community of Creignish and told to wait it out. Attempting to distract himself with parish work, Duncan takes an interest in troubled young Danny, whose good-hearted father sells Duncan a boat he names The Jacinta. To Duncan's alarm, he discovers that the boy once spent time with an errant priest who had been dispatched by Duncan himself to Port Hood. Duncan begins to ask questions, dreading the answers. When tragedy strikes, he knows that he must act. But will his actions be those of a good priest, or an all too flawed man?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

"On A Dollar a Day" by Christopher Greenslate and Kerri Leonard

On a Dollar a Day: One Couple's Unlikely Adventures in Eating in America is the story of two high school teachers who were fed up their high grocery bills and decided to feed themselves on a dollar a day each for one month. Why a dollar a day? Because that amount, or less, is how much a large portion of the world spends on food. Would it be possible to do this and still eat healthy?

While Christopher Greenslate and Kerri Leonard found that it was extremely difficult to do this and maintain their health, the sad reality is that there are many in North America who face this every single day. In an area of the world that is fortunate to have an abundance of food, we face an industry that is not only making us sick but is hurting the poor through things like "supermarket redlining" and "nutritional racism."

After this first experiment, Greenslate and Leonard decided to then spend a month taking on the Food Stamp challenge, spending only the amount of money that people receive in food stamps as well as the average supplemented contribution which totalled $4.13 each, per day. In addition to this, they tried to closely follow the USDA's Thrifty Food Plan which is supposed to be a guide for low-income families to effectively use their benefits.

On a Dollar A Day is the result of Greenslate and Leonard's experiments which they blogged about as they happened. What they discovered about the food industry and the reality that many people in North America face when it comes to food is pretty incredible.

What I really enjoyed about this book was the author's honesty and their "realness." While Greenslate and Leonard are very firm in what they believe when it comes to eating (they are vegan and buy fair trade and organic when possible), they admit to weaknesses for sweets and other things. They do not try to pass themselves off as food experts or perfect eaters. They are also honest in admitting that they always knew that for them this was just an experiment that will end and they can go back to their previous ways, but for millions of people this option does not exist. During the experiments they became involved in Food Justice causes and raised money for a local food initiative. They compared the experience of people living in low income neighbourhoods and upper middle class neighbourhoods when it comes to food availability.

This book will open your eyes not just to the problems that exist in our food industry, but how difficult it is for people who are low-income or on food assistance to eat healthy and spend wisely on food.

On A Dollar A Day website

Friday, July 23, 2010

Book Blogger Hop

It's Friday and time for the hop! Welcome to all who are stopping by for the first time and those who are returning. You'll find all sorts of reviews here - fiction, non-fiction, biography, chick lit, Christian, Urban Christian - if it looks interesting, I'll pick it up!

This week's question for the blog hop, hosted at Crazy For Books is "Tell us about the book you are currently reading."

I just started reading One Day by David Nicholls. It's about a couple who hook up after their college graduation, knowing they'll be going their separate ways, but unable to forget each other as they live separate lives. The book examines their relationship over twenty years on one day each year - July 15th.

I've only just begun the book so I can't comment much on it. What jumped out at me is in the comment on the back cover it says "the best weird love story since The Time Travellers Wife." So this definitely has my hopes up for the book and I hope I'm not disappointed.

If you have read the book let me know. It's okay to mention if you didn't like the book, I don't mind hearing that, but try not to give away too much!

Happy weekend everyone,

Thursday, July 22, 2010

"Hurricanes In Paradise" by Denise Hildreth

As director of guest relations at the Atlantis Hotel on Paradise Island, Bahamas, Riley Sinclair often has her hands full with the demands of guests. But nothing has prepared her for the week she is about to have.

Laine Fulton is an author, staying at the hotel to do research for her new book. She is over-bearing, demanding and getting on Riley's nerves. But much of this is just a cover for the hurt she is hiding inside. Tamyra Larsen is a beauty queen who doesn't make eye contact with anyone. Having recently received a life-changing diagnosis, she just wants to be left alone. Winnie Harris is seventy-two years old, a spitfire Southern woman and principal of a tough high school. Her children have forced her on this vacation, the first without her recently deceased husband. Add Riley's once-broken life and a hurricane headed toward the island and these women are in for a vacation they will never forget.

Hurricanes in Paradise is a story of love, friendship, and healing. The four characters are unlikely friends, but they soon learn that they are in desperate need of healing, and they will each help the others find it. Surviving the storm may be difficult, but with good friends and God, they will come out the other side changed women.

This book is a good summer read for the Christian woman. It deals with difficult and deep topics but in a well-written and easy manner. The message of forgiveness and healing through God is there throughout the entire book in a subtle way. I think that women who aren't Christian but enjoy chick lit novels will also enjoy this book. I recommend reading this book, you will find it both enjoyable and inspirational.

Denise's website

I received this book courtesy of Tyndale House Publishers. The opinions expressed above are purely my own.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"Son of Hamas" by Mosab Hassan Yousef

For his entire childhood, Mosab Hassan Yousef was a witness to the inner workings of an internationally recognized terrorist organization. His father, Sheikh Hassan Yousef, was a founding member of Hamas and as he grew older Mosab was trusted at the highest levels of the organization and a participant in the Intifada. He was arrested and imprisoned by the Israeli internal intelligence system many times.

But Mosab was beginning to question the motives of groups like Hamas and the reality of war between Palestine and Israel. Soon, he found himself working with the Israeli intelligence service as a means to try and prevent more unnecessary bloodshed between the two groups. He shared with them any information he was given by Hamas and for years was one of their most trusted intelligence operatives.

After a chance encounter with a British tourist, Mosab began to embrace the teachings of Christianity, something which put his life in even more danger. But as his faith in Jesus Christ grew, he knew he had to put an end to his involvement with both the Israelis and Hamas, and he sought political asylum in the United States.

Son of Hamas is an incredible story of a young man whose life was changed by God and who put his own life in danger to prevent bloodshed in the name of religion. His childhood gave him a viewpoint of Middle East conflict in ways very few people see it. In this book, he shares the true story and real players behind the Israel/Palestine conflict.

Mosab Hassan Yousef is honest in his feelings about being involved in the conflict, the inner workings of Hamas and why he chose to give intelligence to Israel. He is also honest in the difficulty of making the decision to follow Jesus Christ and how he struggled between everything he knew growing up as a Muslim and his life changing experience with Jesus.

Son of Hamas will give readers a great understanding of why the Middle East is in conflict without getting too heavy or academic. It is an eye-opening insiders tale of an unlikely journey in the Middle East.

Son of Hamas website

Sunday, July 18, 2010

In My Mailbox #10

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren designed to showcase which books we got in the past week.

This week I got only one book from the library. It feels weird! But considering I still have a few checked out that I need to read, plus the website says three are currently in transit, only one this week is a good thing!

Here is what I got:

Corduroy Mansions by Alexander McCall Smith (2010)
From the author of the global bestseller The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency comes a brand-new novel -- the start of a new series -- set in the heart of London. "Corduroy Mansions" is the affectionate nickname given to a genteelly crumbling mansion block in London's vibrant Pimlico. This is the home patch of -- among others -- a lovelorn literary agent, possibly the first ever nasty Liberal Democrat MP and Freddie de la Hay, an urbane terrier trained to be vegetarian and respectful of feline rights, and with the ability to fasten his own seatbelt.
A whole new cast of incredible characters including, but not limited to: Berthea Snark, psychoanalyst and unwilling mother to Oedipus Snark (the nasty Lib Dem). William French, wine merchant living in Corduroy Mansions, and lover of wines of the Bordeaux region. Marcia Light, proprietrix of Marcia's Table with her sights set on William. Barbara Ragg, lover of Oedipus Snark -- would like to marry him; would like to marry anybody. Loafers, wine merchants, vitamin evangelists and the occasional psychoanalyst pass each other on the stairs of this delightful metropolitan residence.

What's in your mailbox?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

"Promises to Keep" by Jane Green

Callie Perry is a stay at home mom and successful family photographer living in Bedford, New York with her husband and two young children. She loves her life, adores her family, and is living each moment with happiness.

Her younger sister Steffi is a free spirit, vegetarian chef and bouncing between jobs and boyfriends in Manhattan. However, she is about to discover another side of herself when she gives it up to live in the country.

Callie and Steffi's parents, Honor and Walter, have been divorced for thirty years and are rarely in the same room together.

Callie's best friend Lila is in a great relationship with the man of her dreams and adores his son, the only problem is his demanding ex-wife.

These people, and more, form a loving, close-knit family. But when tragedy strikes, everyone will find their lives turned upside down. Their current lives will be examined and when they come out on the other side they will find themselves bound together stronger than before and changed forever.

Promises to Keep is an incredible story about facing whatever life throws at us, the effect it has on our relationships and the enduring nature of love in our lives. Jane Green has written a beautiful tale full of love, pain, happiness and tragedy. Readers will be touched by the relationships that form this story, the power that love has in a person's life and the importance of living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity rather than letting them drift by. This is an excellent read and I highly recommend it.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Book Blogger Hop

Happy Friday and welcome to the Hop! The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy For Books and is a weekly get together of over 200 book bloggers! So we can get to know each other better we are asked a question each week and this week it is: Right this instant, what book are you dying to get your hands on (past, present or future?)

Well, being a huge chick lit fan I'm obviously looking forward to Mini-Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella, due out in September. I'm a big fan of the series, and just saw the book cover the other day which is making me want the book even more now. Not too much longer!

For those of you who have stopped by during previous hops, you know I've been following the World Cup very close, and now that it's over I'm not sure what to do with myself! My team lost (boo) but I did spend the day with over 1000 other Dutch people in the street watching the game and partying so I can't complain too much. I guess now I have more time to dedicate to reading!

Have a good weekend everyone, and thanks for hopping by!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"The Carrie Diaries" by Candace Bushnell

Before Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw was a small-town girl with big-city aspirations. As her senior year of high school approaches, Carrie dreams of starting real life as a writer in New York City. But before that can happen, she will learn some valuable lessons about friendship and love.

The Carrie Diaries is the story of how Carrie Bradshaw became the woman Sex and the City fans know and love. In her senior year, her life is changed forever when a new boy comes into her life and a friend's betrayal makes her view the world in a different way.

Women of all ages who may not be familiar with the television show will be able to relate to this story, reminded of what life in high school was like and how it shaped the women we are today. This book also shows young girls that high school is only a moment in our lives and how important it is to find our own, authentic voice. The book stands alone from the television show so those who did not watch the show will still find it enjoyable.

Sex and the City fans will love this book. Through it we learn more about Carrie's family and how she became the writer she is. Candace Bushnell has skillfully weaved the beginnings of the woman we know into the story and readers will enjoy seeing glimpses of the New York City Carrie Bradshaw in this young woman. The ending will put a smile on reader's faces as Carrie arrives in New York City and transforms into the woman we all came to know and love on television.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

"Same Kind of Different As Me" by Denver Moore and Ron Hall

Denver Moore grew up in modern-day slavery, a sharecropper from Louisiana. When he finally had enough, he jumped a train out and ended up homeless in Texas for decades.

Ron Hall had a lower-middle class upbringing and worked himself into the upper class by becoming a high end art dealer.

These two men couldn't have lived any more different lives. But when the two men came together through Ron's wife Debbie, they forged an incredible bond and the result was a life-changing, extraordinary kind of love no one saw coming.

Same Kind of Different As Me is an amazing true story. The friendship that has formed between Denver and Ron will be an inspiration to everyone who reads the book. Theirs is a story of friendship, faith and forgiveness.

Written in the narratives of the two men, so much is covered in this book. Compassion, mercy, the grace of God, homelessness, the trappings of success - the people in this book represent two completely different spectrums of society, but they show that in many ways and in the most important ways, we are all the same. This book will move you, inspire you and stay with you as it challenges you to see our world in a different way.

I received this book as part of Thomas Nelson's program. The opinions expressed above are purely my own and I received no compensation for them.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

In My Mailbox #9

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

This week I got two books from the library:

One Day by David Nicholls
It's 1988 and Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley have only just met. They both know that the next day, after college graduation, they must go their separate ways. But after only one day together, they cannot stop thinking about one another. As the years go by, Dex and Em begin to lead separate lives-lives very different from the people they once dreamed they''d become. And yet, unable to let go of that special something that grabbed onto them that first night, an extraordinary relationship develops between the two. Over twenty years, snapshots of that relationship are revealed on the same day-July 15th-of each year. Dex and Em face squabbles and fights, hopes and missed opportunities, laughter and tears. And as the true meaning of this one crucial day is revealed, they must come to grips with the nature of love and life itself.

Paris Times Eight by Deirdre Kelly

For Deirdre Kelly, Paris is not only a dream city but also the place where she attains a deeper understanding of herself. Having always defined herself in opposition to her mother, Kelly finds in the city itself her "other mother," the mother of her imagination. At nineteen, Kelly first arrives in Paris as a starry-eyed ingénue. In a subsequent visit she appears as a budding writer, eager for intellectual and sexual adventure, who interviews the legendary Nureyev and crashes an exclusive fashion show. In an emotionally charged return,Kelly takes her mother to Paris to meet her "other mother," with not altogether happy results. She also takes her future husband, who has his own connection to the city. On her last trip, she is a mother herself. During all these visits, Paris is the constant, but Kelly's shifting emotional world creates varying perspectives on both the city and her evolving self. Paris emerges as a principal character, an influence that inspires and guides Kelly on her path to growth and maturity.

For review I received:

Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore

A dangerous, homeless drifter who grew up picking cotton in virtual slavery.

An upscale art dealer accustomed to the world of Armani and Chanel.

A gutsy woman with a stubborn dream.

A story so incredible no novelist would dare dream it.

It begins outside a burning plantation hut in Louisiana . . . and an East Texas honky-tonk . . . and, without a doubt, in the heart of God. It unfolds in a Hollywood hacienda . . . an upscale New York gallery . . . a downtown dumpster . . . a Texas ranch.

Gritty with pain and betrayal and brutality, this true story also shines with an unexpected, life-changing love.

Hurricanes in Paradise by Denise Hildreth
When Riley Sinclair stepped into her new job as director of guest relations at a posh resort on Paradise Island, she felt the final pieces of her once-broken life coming together. But the waters become choppy when Riley discovers that some who come to the Atlantis Hotel are accompanied by paralyzing secrets and overwhelming fears. Riley and three guests are in desperate but unknowing need of each other, eventually forging unlikely yet powerful friendships. With a hurricane headed straight for the island, together they embark on a journey of laughter, heartache, and healing.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

"Africa United" by Steve Bloomfield

The World Cup is drawing to a close in South Africa, but long after it is done soccer will remain a fixture on streets, beaches and pitches throughout Africa.

In Africa United, journalist Steve Bloomfield travels through thirteen African countries meeting players, fans, rebel leaders and politicians to explore the role that soccer has had in shaping the continent.

This book is a wonderful balance of the story of Africa and the role soccer has had on the continent. It easily tells the history of thirteen countries and gives readers an understanding of how the countries came to be where they are today. Readers will be amazed to see just how closely the game of soccer is linked with politics. It is far from being just a game played by kids on the local pitch. Soccer has helped to not only bring countries together but to stoke conflict, prop up authoritarian regimes and even end wars.

This is a great book. Steve Bloomfield has access to many people and places of Africa that most from the West do not have. This reads as an insider's history of Africa and shows just how important soccer, and other sports, are for developing countries. It brings a fresh perspective to how significant it is that this years World Cup is the first to be held in Africa.

Book website

Friday, July 9, 2010

Happy Friday! We have been in the middle of a heat wave here but it's raining now so maybe we'll finally be able to cool off before it starts to get unbearably hot again. In even bigger news my team, the Netherlands, are in the World Cup Finals. I shall be downtown, dressed in orange, partying with all the other Dutch people on Sunday!

The Book Blogger Hop is hosted each week by Crazy For Books. And in a new twist to it, each week we'll be asked a question so we can get to know each other better.

This weeks question is: Who are your favourite authors and why?

I could name a bunch!

When it comes to chick lit I love Sophie Kinsella, everything she writes is funny. I also love Marian Keyes, there is such a warmth to her writing. There are so many other great authors whose books I grab every time they write a new one - Jennifer Weiner, Lauren Weisberger, Emily Giffin and Gemma Townley.

A couple of years ago I started reading Urban Christian fiction and have found great authors in this genre - ReShonda Tate Billingsley, Victoria Christopher Murray, Jacquelin Thomas. I will pick up anything these ladies write.

I'm also such a fan of Alexander McCall Smith's "No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" series so I'm starting to read some of his other books, hoping that I'll enjoy them as well.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

"I know I am, but what are you?" by Samantha Bee

As The Daily Show with Jon Stewart's Most Senior Correspondent, Samantha Bee is known for being quirky, adorable and vicious. In her book I know i am but what are you?, Bee brings this same nature to paper, detailing the most memorable moments of her life which have helped to shape her into the woman she is today.

As she opens up about her "checkered Canadian past" she recounts her teenage crime spree as one half of a car-thieving couple, the fact that strangers seem compelled to show her their genitals, being mistaken for her mom's lesbian lover and her stint as a Japanese anime character in a touring children's show, among many other hilarious stories.

Bee is not afraid to tackle any subject and she does so in an honest and hilarious way. There were many laugh out loud moments and one in particular that had me in tears from laughing so hard. The book isn't a straight through biography, rather it's a collection of essays on different moments in her life. Bee stays true to her television persona, so if you are a fan of hers from The Daily Show, then this is a must-read book for you.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

"The Last River Child" by Lori Ann Bloomfield

Peg Staynor is a young woman growing up as an outsider in the small rural town of Walvern, Ontario at the beginning of the 20th century. She is an outsider because locals believe that Peg is a "river child," who has been taken over by an evil spirit from the Magurvey river that flows through town. Peg is blamed by the locals for every misfortune that hits the town. But Peg refuses to be a victim to their superstitious beliefs and moves on through her life with strength and resilience.

When the reality of the First World War hits Walvern, the towns old world beliefs will be challenged. As the young men of the community return from the War injured, depressed, or not at all, the town finds itself thrown into the realities of modern society. Will their beliefs about Peg begin to change and will she finally find acceptance in the community that has shunned her, but which she has always felt attached to?

The Last River Child is a beautiful story about a young woman in a small Canadian town trying to find her place and stay true to herself while up against the narrow-minded and unfortunate views of those around her. Bloomfield has created a character which the reader will become attached to, hoping that one day others will see her for her beautiful soul.

The book also shows the effects that World War I had on the young men who went off to fight, the families they left behind and the communities they returned to. Bloomfield manages to take large influences such as war and superstition and easily present them through the eyes of one small town girl, giving the reader a more intimate understanding of small town life in the early 20th century. The Last River Child is a beautiful read that I could not put down.

I would like to thank Second Story Press for providing me with a copy of this book for review.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Half Year In Review + Giveaway Winner!

I had been finding it hard to believe the summer was already here, but the weather outside (humidex of 42C) is pleasantly reminding me that it is indeed here. This means I've been blogging about books for half a year now, and I've been enjoying it so much. I've met so many great book bloggers, read tons of books and added TONS of books to my to read list. I'm so glad that all of you are following along my reading journey and I hope that you've found some good reads through my blog.

At the beginning of the year I set some reading challenges for myself for the year, the first time I've done this. So now it's time to check in and see how I'm doing.

Challenge #1 - Read 100 books.

Well, I won't list them all but so far I've read 55 books so I'm on track with this one. I'm hoping the summer will mean even more reading for me, but so far that hasn't been the case.

Challenge #2 - A-Z Titles

So far I have D,E,J,K,Q,R,U,V, and Z left to read. But I do have books lined up for each letter so I should be good for this one. I did cheat a tiny bit with X though - The Ex-Mrs. Hedgefund. I think that should be ok.

Challenge #3 - Read 20 Canadian Books

I have read 12 Canadian books so far and I have found some great books along the way. This challenge was much easier than I thought it would be (I hadn't read much Canadian literature before.) I have also signed up to do The Canadian Book Challenge 4 at The Book Mine Set, pledging to read 13 Canadian books by Canada Day next year!

Challenge #4 - Read 3 Classics and Challenge #5 - Read 5 books from the BBC Big Read

Well, I've combined these two challenges for here because so far I've only read one book that counts toward both lists - The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan. But I also have some books lined up for both of these challenges so I should be able to achieve this by the end of the year.

And now we get to........

***The Giveaway Winner***

So after assigning numbers in the order of the comments and then using a random number generator, the winner of the Sins of the Mother giveaway is.......Joy! I will email you soon to get your information!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

In My Mailbox #8

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. Thanks to this meme each week my to be read list grows longer than I'll ever be able to finish! Here is what I picked up at the library this week:

Son of Hamas by Mosab Hassan Yousef
Since he was a small boy, Mosab Hassan Yousef has had an inside view of the deadly terrorist group Hamas. The oldest son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, a founding member of Hamas and its most popular leader, young Mosab assisted his father for years in his political activities while being groomed to assume his legacy, politics, status . . . and power. But everything changed when Mosab turned away from terror and violence, and embraced instead the teachings of another famous Middle East leader.

Promises to Keep by Jane Green
Successful photographer Callie Perry thinks she has a pretty perfect life, although it may not be everyone's idea of happiness: a great job, lots of time with her daughters, but a workaholic husband. She couldn't be more unlike Steff, her younger sister, who has never held down a job-or a boyfriend-for more than six months. Walter and Honor, their divorced and perpetually feuding parents, have almost given up hope that Steff will ever learn what it is to be responsible...until they all receive a shocking email that changes their lives forever, and brings them together one extraordinary summer in Maine.

The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell
Tells the story of Manhattan columnist Carrie Bradshaw's high school years, her relationships with her peers, and how she became a writer.