Saturday, October 30, 2010

"The Tapestry Of Love" by Rosy Thornton

At forty-nine Catherine Parkstone is having a fresh start in her life. She has been divorced for eight years and her two children are now grown and on their own. So Catherine does what many people long to do. She sells her home in England, moves to a tiny hamlet in the Cevennes mountains of France and sets up a business as a seamstress. It sounds perfect.

But adjusting to life in her rural idyll isn't as easy as she had thought it would be. Days can be lonely, neighbours tend to keep to themselves and boy can it rain. On top of that, French bureaucracy is making it incredibly difficult to get her business started. Add to the mix an intriguing and mysterious male neighbour, and Catherine begins to question her decision and wonder if maybe she wasn't cut out for this life in France.

The Tapestry of Love is a beautiful story. It's the story of a woman who does what many of us dream of doing - falling in love with a new place and a new way of life and leaving everything behind to be a part of it. There is such a warmth to Ms. Thornton's writing. The landscape seems to jump right off the page at you and at times you expect to find yourself there in France with the characters.

What I loved most about this book was that it didn't have to rely on the outrageous or extraordinary to engage the reader. This is a book that takes the simple pleasures and realities of everyday life and spins them into a wonderful story. It relies on the intricacies and honesty of relationships between family, friends and neighbours to move the story and bring out emotion in the reader. Reading this book is like breathing in the fresh mountain air of France.

I only wish I hadn't started this book at the beginning of the week when other things needed my attention. This is the type of book you want to curl up with on a weekend when you can devote your time and attention to getting lost in a story and a dream.

I would like to thank Rosy Thornton for providing me with a copy of the book. The opinions expressed above are purely my own.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Book Blogger Hop!

Happy Friday! It's time for the Book Blogger Hop, hosted by Jennifer at Crazy For Books. It's a weekly meme for book bloggers to find new blogs and get to know each better. Each week over 200 bloggers take part, so it's definitely a party!

This weeks question:

What is the one bookish thing you would love to have, no matter the cost?

Well, I own a TON of books as does my husband and right now we live in an apartment so all of our books are in boxes and being stored at a few different places. So when we own a house, my dream is to have my own library. The walls would be covered with bookshelves, there would be a comfy reading chair and a desk with my computer. The books would be shelved by subject and in alphabetical order, and yes, if someone borrowed a book there would be a computer program to keep track of that! It would be lovely!

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend. If you're hopping by please leave a link to your hop and I'll come visit. I'm having trouble viewing the linky on my computer so I might not find you on my own.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

"Holy Rollers" by ReShonda Tate Billingsley

Nita, Coco and Audra have spent their lives looking for love in the wrong place. Thinking that they can find love in the arms of flashy pro athletes, all they have ended up with is a string of bad, failed relationships.

So when a conference for young Baptist ministers comes to town the girls hatch a plan - pose as God-fearing churchgoers in the hopes of landing a prominent pastor. And the girls "holy rolling" seems to pay off when they all land a new man. But even a relationship with a man of God can be full of drama.

Holy Rollers is another great book from ReShonda Tate Billingsley. The characters are refreshing and their exploits will have you hanging your head. These aren't women who go to church to find God, these are women who go to church to find men. And you know that isn't going to go over well!

But while it seems like a recipe for disaster and there are good laughs, this book covers some very serious topics. Infidelity, domestic abuse, deception, even murder make up this book and these topics are dealt with in an honest, raw manner.

For me, Holy Rollers is Urban Christian at its best. It shows that living a life that is right with God is not easy, and even the best of us have will have troubles thrown our way. These ladies learn the hard way that when they cast off charades and open themselves to what God wants, then they will find contentment in themselves and the true love they are looking for.

ReShonda Tate Billingsley is a gifted writer. Her stories are believable, dramatic and touching and Holy Rollers is a great example of her incredible gift of storytelling.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"Curiosity" by Joan Thomas

Forty years before Charles Darwin published his famous work, a young woman named Mary Anning made an important discovery in the cliffs of Lyme Regis, England.

At the age of twelve, Mary found the first ichthyosaur skeleton (a giant marine reptile that resembled a dolphin.) Her discovery countered the belief of the time in the Biblical account of creation and proved that extinction was a reality. She then went on to discover three other separate species.

But Mary couldn't fight the prevailing beliefs of the 19th century, and her gender and social class prevented her from receiving full credit for her contributions to the scientific community.

Curiosity tells the story of Mary's life and scientific contributions but with a more in depth look at her personal relationships with those around her. In addition to this, it examines a romantic relationship between Mary and her friend Henry De La Beche, a man of higher class standing.

I had a hard time getting into this book. It is obvious that Thomas has done a lot of research on this book and it incredibly captures the time period. But for some reason there just wasn't enough to it to keep me wanting to turn the page. When I picked up the book I was very interested in reading about Mary's discoveries and the reactions to them, but for me it felt like there was a lot to "learn" before I was allowed to get there. As well, the romance between Mary and Henry didn't seem to stir up too much emotion.

I think I may chalk up my not liking this book to the fact that I'm just not into historical fiction. I definitely learned a lot from the book (I had never heard of Mary Anning before I picked it up) but I think it just felt like more of an educational book than a novel and love story to me.

Monday, October 25, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. It's a place for bloggers to come together and share what they read in the past week, what they are reading and what they plan to read. She also offers a cool weekly contest for participants!

I'm so excited to participate in this meme for the first time! I love Mondays (is that weird?) Weekends are always so nice and relaxing but I rarely get much achieved, so Mondays is a return to order for me!

Books I read last week:

Holy Rollers by ReShonda Tate Billingsley - Urban Christian
Curiosity by Joan Thomas - longlisted for Giller Prize

What I am currently reading:

The Tapestry of Love by Rosy Thornton - women's fiction

What I plan to read next:

The Matter with Morris by David Bergen - shortlisted for the Giller Prize
How to Read the Air by Dinaw Mengistu - Ethiopian-American writer

I haven't been reading as much as I usually do so I don't have too much planned for this week, but I definitely want to get through three.

How about you, what are you reading?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

"Cool Water" by Dianne Warren

Welcome to the town of Juliet, Saskatchewan, population 1011. At first glimpse you would think that there isn't much to this dusty oasis. But a closer look at some of the inhabitants show that this town is full of life and that its people are its heartbeat.

Lee is a young man, afraid to take responsibility of the the farm suddenly left behind to him by his adoptive parents. Bank manager Norval is carrying the weight of his clients, many of whom are at risk of losing everything, while dealing with his own inadequacies. Willard, who runs the local drive-in, is developing feelings for his sister-in-law Marian who continues to live under the same roof as him despite the death of his brother. Vicki and Blaine are the parents of six young children and are struggling just to keep a roof over their heads. Hank and Lynn's decades long marriage is threatened by the discovery of a small piece of paper in Hank's pocket.

Over the course of twenty-four hours these characters will face their troubles head on and discover that even in the most difficult of times, when they've lost their way, they will continue to move forward.

Cool Water is a beautiful book about everyday characters with everyday problems who show us that even in the simplest of surroundings, life still moves along in a complicated manner.

I wasn't sure of this book at first, if it would hold my attention, but I was drawn in quick and fell in love with these characters. It reminds me of the line from the Corner Gas theme song "you think there's not a lot going on." Being from the "big city" I would have thought that of a place like Juliet but this book shows you that while our surroundings may be different we all still struggle with similar problems as we move forward.

Cool Water is a lovely read. It is quick, engaging and heartwarming and is a great example of Canadian fiction.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Book Blogger Hop

Happy Friday! It's time for the Book Blogger Hop again, hosted by Jennifer at Crazy For Books.

This weeks question is: "Where is your favourite place to read? Curled up on the sofa, in bed, in the garden?"

My reading spot right now is definitely the couch. Next to it is a table with a basket where I keep my books and a lamp with the perfect amount of light for reading. No one is allowed to sit in my spot (it's also my tv watching spot. If you watch The Big Bang Theory, my family often hears me say "that's my spot" in my best Sheldon voice.)

We live in an apartment so I don't have many options for reading spots. When we own a house I hope to have a comfy reading chair inside as well as outside.

How about you, what's your spot?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Been There Prayed That" by E.N. Joy

New Day Temple of Faith has a faithful congregation, but one thing is for sure - no one is perfect. The New Day Divas are definite proof of that.

Been There Prayed That is the second book in the New Day Divas series, which has been coined as a soap opera in print. And a soap opera it is!

In this book Mother Doreen, head of the New Day Singles Ministry, has taken a sabbatical to care for her ill sister whose truck driver husband spends most of his time on the road. But Doreen starts to get suspicious when she notices that the assistant pastor of her sister's church seems to be hanging around a bit too much and not only that but her sister's belly seems to be growing.

Back at New Day, Lorain has taken over the Singles Ministry but she keeps clashing with Unique, a young single mother of three children from three fathers. When the pastor appoints them co-heads of the Ministry, things are taken to a whole new level.

And while Tamarra and Maeyl's relationship seems to be heading toward marriage, the arrival of a new woman at church, and her young daughter who seems to have Maeyl's eyes, threatens to change everything.

I really enjoyed this book. You will laugh out loud and you will cheer for these ladies. You'll feel their joys and their pains and become attached to them. I can definitely see why this is considered a soap opera especially because the ends of chapters will leave you hanging in suspense and so will the end of the book. You will definitely want to pick up the next instalment to see what happens with these women.

What I really appreciated about this book is just as the characters learn not to judge a book by its cover, so does the reader. Readers will definitely be able to relate to the lessons of the book even if they can't relate to the situations.

Aside from a few noticeable proofreading errors this book is an easy read and one that you won't want to put down. I am definitely hooked on this series and any fan of Urban Christian will enjoy and appreciate the New Day Divas series.

I would like to thank the author, E.N. Joy for providing me with a copy of this book. The opinions expressed above are purely my own, and I have received no compensation.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It's purpose is to highlight upcoming releases that we are looking forward to. My choice this week is still well in the future, but I think this one sounds great.
The Baby Planner by Josie Brown
Release Date: April 5, 2011
Katie Johnson may make her living consulting with new moms on the latest greatest baby gadgets no parent should be without, or which mommy meet-ups are the most socially desirable, or whether melon truly is the new black, but the success of her marriage to husband Alex depends on controlling her own urges toward motherhood. He's adamant that they stay childless.

Sure, Katie understands that he's upset over the fact that his out-of-town ex-wife rarely lets him see their ten-year-old son, Peter. But living vicariously through her anxious clients and her twin sisters' precocious children only makes Katie resent his stance more deeply.

While helping a new client—Seth Harris, a high tech entrepreneur who must raise Sadie, his newborn daughter, as a single parent after the tragic death of his wife in childbirth—maneuver the bittersweet journey from mourning husband and reticent father to loving dad, Katie’s own ideals about love, marriage, and motherhood are put to the test as she learns ones very important lesson about family: How we nurture is the true nature of love.

I haven't read anything by Josie Brown but this one jumped out at me. The idea of a baby planner at first made me laugh, but at the same time you can see from the description that this could be a very heartwarming book. The cover doesn't jump out at me but this isn't the final cover.

What are you waiting on?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"The Twelfth Imam" by Joel C. Rosenberg

Tensions are rising in the Middle East. Iran is rapidly developing its nuclear weapons program and calling for the annihilation of Israel. The Israeli Defense Minister is threatening to strike Iran's nuclear facilities. CIA Operative David Shirazi, an Iranian-American, is sent to Tehran with only one objective: disrupt Iran's nuclear weapons program using any means necessary.

But as David gets close to Iranian government leaders he begins to learn of sightings of the Islamic Messiah known as the Twelfth Imam. News of miracles and healings are spreading and the government and clerics of Iran are preparing a final strike against Israel to bring about the End of Days. Can Shirazi achieve his objective before it is too late?

The Twelfth Imam is a fantastic, fictional-but-all-too-real look at Middle East politics and Islamic End Time theology. Rosenberg has crafted a story that is engaging, thrilling, and educational. He is not afraid to tackle the political or religious issues of the day and this makes for a great read.

The book is very easy to read. Rosenberg draws you in right away and gets you hooked. The chapters are short which helps the story flow and also allows the reader to keep the many characters and side stories straight.

This is a Christian novel and belief in Jesus Christ does play an important role for many characters. Rosenberg has carefully created characters of all religions and beliefs that are respectful and believable. I was very impressed by the amount of research he has done and how he portrayed delicate subjects with the right amount of truth and respect.

If you're looking for a fast-paced political thriller, I recommend this book. Even if you don't share the religious beliefs of the book, you will still be engaged and find yourself wrapped up in the plot. Given the current climate of the Middle East, you can't help but find yourself engrossed in this book.

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

Monday, October 18, 2010

Spread the Word

A few weeks ago when I was at the Word on the Street festival here in Toronto I had the opportunity to volunteer with a wonderful organization that collects books for libraries in Africa. I spent most of my day sharing with festival attendees about the organization and how they could help out. And the response I got the most was "where have you been? I have so many books that I don't know what to do with!"

This got me thinking about how many wonderful organizations there are out there that are helping to boost literacy in our own communities and around the world, but also how difficult it can be to get yourself seen in what is a very busy world.

So I have decided to do a feature here on these organizations called "Spread the Word." Once a month (maybe more) I'll post about an organization and the work they are doing. And I would love for other book bloggers to join in and do the same!

If you are interested, it's very simple. There's no commitment and no one way of doing it. Just post about an organization and the work they do whenever you feel like it. Link back here, and let me know when you've put up a post and I will link it on my blog. That's it! The most important thing is that we as book lovers share ways to help others become book lovers!

Will you join me and help Spread the Word?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Awards Love!!! Come get to know me.

First I have to say that I have been awful about posting about awards here and passing them on. For that I am truly sorry because I really appreciate the awards given to me and there are so many fabulous bloggers out there who I want to pass my awards on to! So I finally am doing it!

First up: The Versatile Blogger Award (given to me by Bethany at words, words, words)

The conditions of this award are that all recipients must:
1. Thank and link back to the person that gave this award
2. Write 7 things about yourself
3. Pass the award along to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic
4. Contact the bloggers you’ve picked to let them know about the award

Here's me:
1. Obviously, I love tea. Orange Pekoe with lots of milk in the morning or afternoon. At night, Vanilla Rooibos.
2. But I can't start my day without a cup of coffee and reading the Toronto Star.
3. Speaking of coffee, I love my Keurig! My husband bought it for me on our last anniversary because I broke the coffee maker and my son gets up way too early in the morning for me to function properly without caffeine. So it was a present for everyone!
4. I love British comedy. I grew up watching it with my grandmother. My husband is from another country in the Commonwealth so he grew up watching a lot of it as well. It's just our sense of humour. Right now my favourites are The IT Crowd and Outnumbered.
5. It's not just comedy, I'm addicted to Coronation Street.
6. I love watching Soccer. My dad is from the Netherlands and this past summer, my dad, myself and my husband were all downtown at the Dutch bar, standing in the street in the blazing hot sun, cheering on our Oranje. Too bad we didn't win.
7. I am also now a fan of American Football. My favourite team is the Minnesota Vikings. Why? Because it's the team that I can name the most players from (my husband loves football so I thought I'd show some interest!)

Second Award: The Life is Good Award (given to me by Tiffany at A Cozy Reader's Corner Reviews)

  • Thank and link back to the person that gave this award.
  • Answer the 10 survey questions.
  • Pass the award along to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic.
  • Contact the bloggers you’ve picked to let them know about the award.

1. If you blog anonymously are you happy doing it that way; if you are not anonymous do you wish you had started out anonymously so you could be anonymous now?
I'm not totally anonymous, I share my name, where I'm from and bits of information about myself. The only thing you won't find is a picture of me. I'm shy that way!

2. Describe one incident that shows your inner stubborn side:
I don't know if I even have an inner stubborn side, I really can't think of anything!

3. What do you see when you really look at yourself in the mirror?
That I am where I hoped I'd be. I'm a wife, mother, volunteer, sister, aunt, daughter. I feel so blessed to be a stay at home mom, so when I look in the mirror I'm happy with who I see because I think my inside happiness shows on the outside.

4. What is your favourite summer cold drink?
Tim Horton's Iced Capp. That's the Canadian in me.

5. When you take time for yourself, what do you do?
Time for myself, whats that? With two little ones, it's not often. Mostly I read but I also love the opportunity to just go on a leisurely shopping trip, even if I am shopping for groceries.

6. Is there something you still want to accomplish in your life? What is it?
I got a degree in Public Relations but never used it because I started my family right away. I would love to put that degree to use one day, but I'd like to do it in the not for profit sector. I do use my skills a bit right now in a volunteer capacity, but I hope that one day when every kid is in school all day I can give more of my time.

7. When you attended school, were you the class clown, the class overachiever , the shy person, or always ditching?
I wasn't any of these. I got along fine with pretty much everyone, as well as my teachers. I excelled in some subjects, did miserably in others. I got involved and kept busy, and I did on occasion ditch class.

8. If you close your eyes and want to visualize a very poignant moment of your life what would you see?
Walking in the CIBC Run for a Cure with my mother, who is a 21 year breast cancer survivor. We have a strong maternal history of breast cancer in our family, which puts me at a very high risk. To have put so much effort into spreading the word about breast cancer awareness and then walk with my mom was an amazing moment. I'm so thankful that she beat the disease. I was only 7 when she was diagnosed, and now she's watching my children grow up.

9. Is it easy for you to share your true self in your blog or are you more comfortable writing posts about other people or events?
I don't mind sharing about myself. Since I blog about books I try to keep it about the books but every once in a while you'll find glimpses of myself in my reviews.

10. If you had the choice to sit down and read or talk on the phone, which would you do and why?
Read! I'm really a not a phone person. I'll use it when I have to but if I'm going to have a long conversation with someone I want to do it in person. I love reading and writing letters, nothing like good old fashioned mail!

Now it's time for me to pass on my awards! Each award requires me to pass it on to 15 people. Rather than pass on to 30, or decide who gets which award, I'm going to pick 15 bloggers I love and let them know I love them, and they can decide which award they want to pass on (if they want to, I don't mind if it's something they'd rather not do!)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

"Cities of Refuge" by Michael Helm

One summer night, twenty-eight-year-old Kim Lystander is walking to work in downtown Toronto when she is attacked by a stranger. In the days, weeks and months that follow, her life is thrown into turmoil. The attack doesn't just affect her but is felt throughout several lives.

Her estranged father Harold, a Latin American historian, decides to investigate the crime on his own, stirring up troubles from his past. His investigation introduces him to Rosemary Yates, a woman who gives asylum to anyone who seeks it and Rodrigo Cantero, a young Colombian man who is in the country illegally and staying with Rosemary. As Harold also involves Father Andrew Rowe, a local priest, in the situation it brings everyone to a troubling crossroads.

I have to say that I had high hopes Cities of Refuge. I love books that are set in the city of Toronto and the plot sounded like it will shed light on a hush-hush world that exists here. But I just could not get into this book.

For me, it felt like it took too long to get into the story and there were too many diversions. Trying to keep up with everyones stories and thoughts seems to be just too much and for a while I felt like I was reading different books.

The book did make me wonder about the Toronto that illegal immigrants live in versus the Toronto that I live in and the ways in which our cities do become one. But unfortunately the book only made me wonder rather than help me understand. I do give Helm credit for tackling the subject, for creating deep characters and for intersecting their very different lives. But other than that, I just couldn't see what the buzz about this book was.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Book Blogger Hop

Thanks for hopping by! I love the Book Blogger Hop, such a fun way to meet other book bloggers and get to know them. If you're unfamiliar with it, it's hosted by Jennifer at Crazy For Books. Each week over 200 bloggers participate! So you will definitely find something for you.

This weeks question is: When you read a book that you just can't get into, do you stick it out and keep reading or move to your next title?

Lately I've had a couple books that I just could not get into. Which is a little strange for me, usually I can stick it out. So what I usually do is put down the book for a few days, move on to the next one, and then come back it to it. This usually fixes things but lately I've had ones that this didn't even work. But I hate giving up on books so I'll usually just read a little bit of that book a day while reading others at the same time.

I always try to push through because sometimes the book can redeem itself, or get a bit better. I read a review of Parrot and Olivier in America where the reviewer gave up on page 175. As I read, I totally understood why. I got to page 200 and had to put it down and come back to it. After about page 250 it actually got better and the reasons why I didn't like it in the beginning seemed to go away (the over-description.) It still wasn't a great book to me, but I'm glad I finished.

I wanted to let you all know that on Monday I'll be posting about a new feature that I want to do. I've recently had the privilege to meet a few people who are doing wonderful work in my community promoting literacy here and around the world. So I want to feature their work here on my blog and I hope that other book bloggers will do the same for people in their community. So I hope you'll check back here on Monday to find out about "Spread the Word."

Hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"Lemon" by Cordelia Strube

Lemon is not your average teenager. She has three mothers, a deadbeat dad, a protege stricken with cancer, two outcast friends and one tree hugging stepbrother. She doesn't care what others her age are doing, she would rather read the Classics. And while everyone else around her is obsessed with getting high and having sex, she's just trying to get to the end of high school without having to deal with any of that nonsense. But it's not going to be easy.

Lemon is a smart and funny book. While this is definitely not a young adult book, the voice of Lemon is authentically teen and authentically annoyed at the world around her. Like many teens she is full of conflict, but unlike the others around her she shows a deep understanding for the pain and conflict that exists in our world. But in her attempts to be as little like her peers as she can, it turns out that Lemon is not immune from teenage angst and misery.

The language in this book is strong. Written in a teenage voice, it does use foul and sexual language. There are a couple of points in the book involving sex that are graphic but they are honest portrayals of some of the dangers that face teenagers today. This is definitely not a happy book but some of Lemon's comments on life will make you smile. This isn't the type of book I would usually pick up but I definitely enjoyed it and could relate to a lot of Lemon's observations.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme for bloggers to share what upcoming releases they are looking forward to and is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Here is my pick this week:

New York Valentine by Carmen Reid
Release date: 22 February 2011

Newly-wed Annie Valentine is busy filming her third TV series of How Not To shop when she receives a distress call from New York. Elena and Svetlana's fashion company, Perfect Dress, is about to go belly-up and no one can help them more than Annie.
Annie is dazzled by New York but the hard work that her friends are doing in the fabric houses in Brooklyn is far from glamourous - it's downright dangerous. But Elena needs a fabric bargain and Annie is going to find it for her. Meanwhile, back in the UK, Annie's husband Ed has been suspended from his teaching job after vicious rumours about him and a sixth form girl are circulated on the school's email system are investigated.
Can Annie save her friend's business and her husband's reputation and manage to enjoy herself?

This is the fourth book in the Annie Valentine series. I have only read the first book so far - The Personal Shopper - but I loved it so much that I really look forward to reading the rest of the series, this one included. There were so many qualities to the first book that reminded me of the Shopaholic books and I think that the Annie Valentine character can definitely follow in Becky Bloomwood's footsteps!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"Samson" by Jacquelin Thomas

Samson Taylor is the new assistant pastor of a thriving church. But while he is following his calling he still struggles with a terrible sin - his uncontrollable lust for beautiful women.

Even though he recognizes the conflict between his personal life and his job, Samson cannot fight off his sin. It isn't long before his lust causes him to lose his marriage, best friend, child and job. But even that isn't enough to make him change his ways.

When Samson meets Delinda, the wife of a famous NBA star, he falls head over heels in love and quickly begins an affair. Even though Delinda warns him of her husband's temper and the dangers of their affair, he refuses to stop. When he finds himself involved in a violent confrontation with the man, Samson loses one of the things most precious to him.

Now Samson must rebuild his life. But will he be able to turn back to God and get his life back to what it was supposed to be or will he let bitterness and regret take over his life?

Samson is a modern day retelling of Samson and Delilah. Jacquelin Thomas is a master of taking Biblical stories and putting modern twists on them to show that the lessons given then still apply to our lives today.

This was a good story but I found that there was a lot to it and in an attempt to include it all the story moved rather fast without developing some parts to their full potential. However, Thomas does do a good job of balancing the story with the right amount of Biblical teaching.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Book Blogger Hop

Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian readers! This morning as I struggled to get out of bed I thought "oh thank goodness it's a long weekend." I heard this morning on the news that the Daily Bread Food Bank here in Toronto is only about halfway to its goal for this holiday, so if you're out grocery shopping this weekend, remember your local food bank.

The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly gathering for book bloggers to get to know each other better and discover great blogs to follow. It's hosted by Jennifer at Crazy For Books. Each week we answer a reading related question. This weeks question is:

What's your favourite beverage while reading, if any?

Well, I'm pretty sure you can figure out my answer! I love tea and I love just curling up with a cup of tea, especially in the colder months. At afternoon tea time (which is a daily tradition of my Dutch family) I drink a good ol' cup of orange pekoe with milk. Any other time I drink decaf flavoured teas, my favourite being Vanilla Rooibos.

Are you a tea fanatic like I am or do you prefer something different?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

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

A Tiny Bit Marvellous by Dawn French
Release date: 23 November 2010 (in Canada)

Everyone hates the perfect family. So you'll love the Battles. Mo is about to hit the big 50, and some uncomfortable truths are becoming quite apparent: She doesn't understand either of her teenage kids, which as a child psychologists, is fairly embarrassing. She has become entirely grey. Inside and out. Her face has surrendered and is frightening children. Dora is about to hit the big 18...and about to hit anyone who annoys her, especially her precocious younger brother Peter who has a chronic Oscar Wilde fixation. Then there's Dad...who's just, well, dad. A Tiny Bit Marvellous is the story of a modern family all living in their own separate bubbles lurching towards meltdown. It is for anyone who ever shared a home with that weird group of strangers we call relations. Oh and there's a dog. Called Poo.

I love Dawn French. I absolutely love French and Saunders (they created my all-time favourite television show - Absolutely Fabulous.) She was so funny in Vicar of Dibley. And her biography, Dear Fatty, was wonderfully written, hilarious and honest. So when I heard that she was writing a novel I was very excited. The description sounds great and she is so funny, so I have high hopes for this one!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Giller Prize Shortlist revealed!

This morning, the shortlist for the Giller Prize was announced. The Giller Prize is one of Canada's top literary prizes. The winner will receive $50,000 and past winners include Michael Ondaatje, Margaret Atwood and Austin Clarke.

This years shortlist is:

The Matter With Morris by David Bergen
The Sentimentalists by Johanna Skibsrud
This Cake is for the Party by Sarah Selecky
Annabel by Kathleen Winter
Light Lifting by Alexander MacLeod

There quite a few things to note with this year's shortlist. David Bergen won this prize previously in 2005. Only M.G. Vassanji and Alice Munro have won the prize twice. David Bergen's book is also the only book on the list to be published by a major publishing house, the rest coming from indie firms.

Sarah Selecky and Alexander MacLeod's books are both short story collections and are their first books ever. Kathleen Winter and Johanna Skibsrud's entries are their first novels. Winter is known for her award winning short stories and Skibsrud for her poetry.

The winner will be announced at the Giller Prize gala in Toronto on November 9.

I have yet to read any of these selections, though I'm hoping to read them all by the time the prize is announced. So far I've read two books from the longlist and have started a third from it and I have been impressed by what I've read, so if these ones didn't make the shortlist then I can't wait to see the calibre of the work that did!

"If You Have to Cry Go Outside" by Kelly Cutrone

Kelly Cutrone is the no-nonsense, straight-talking head of People's Revolution, one of the most powerful fashion public relations firms in the world. She built the firm from the ground up years after moving to New York City from Syracuse as a young woman with a dream of something bigger.

Along the way she was partying in the hottest nightclubs while homeless and living on her friends couches. When she did get things together she started her own PR firm only to step away from it and fall into a meth addiction. From there she had her own spiritual awakening, did a stint as a tarot card reader in California and ultimately found her way back to public relations.

She now runs her own wildly successful firm, mentors countless young women in the industry and is a single mom. Given the crazy journey she has been on, she is definitely one who can give advice to other young women dreaming of something bigger.

If You Have to Cry Go Outside And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You is less about Cutrone's life story and more about showing young women how to make it in today's world. She does use stories from her own life to illustrate her point - that it's not about having the perfect wardrobe, job or man, it's about living a life that is authentic and knowing who we are and our unique place in the world.

Cutrone does give good advice. She is someone who has been there, seen the worst and figured out how to make the best of it all. The book is written in her no-nonsense style. Some people may think of her as being hard or insensitive, but she is actually a caring person in a brutal industry.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

In My Mailbox #20

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. It is where book bloggers share what books came into their homes over the last week.

This week I got five books from the library. They are all longlisted for the Giller Prize, which is a very prestigious Canadian literature prize. I'm hoping to get through the entire longlist before the winner is announced in November.

Player One by Douglas Coupland
A real time, five hour story set in an airport cocktail lounge. Five people are trapped inside when global disaster strikes.
(You can read my review here.)

Cool Water by Dianne Warren
The stories of people living in Juliet, Saskatchewan, whose 1,011 inhabitants are caught in limbo between a century-old promise of prosperity and whatever lies ahead.

Curiosity by Joan Thomas
More than 40 years before the publication of The Origin of Species, 12-year-old Mary Anning, a cabinet-maker's daughter, found the first intact skeleton of a prehistoric dolphin-like creature. This book blends fact and fiction, passion and science in 19th-century Lyme Regis, England.

Lemon by Cordelia Strube
Lemon has three mothers: a biological one she's never met, her adopted father's suicidal ex and Drew, a school principal who hasn't left the house since she was stabbed by a student. She has one deadbeat dad, one young cancer-riddled protege, and two friends, the school tramp and a depressed poet. Figuring the numbers are against her, Lemon just can't be bothered trying to fit in.

Cities of Refuge by Michael Helm
A single act of violence resonates through several lives, connecting closeby fears to distant political terrors. At the story's centre is the complex, intensely charged relationship between a 28-year-old woman and the father who abandoned her when she was young.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

"Player One" by Douglas Coupland

In an airport cocktail lounge in Toronto are five people. Karen is a single mother waiting to meet her online date. Rick is the down-on-his-luck lounge bartender. Luke is a pastor on the run across the country. Rachel is a beautiful blonde who is truly incapable of understanding humans. The fifth is a mysterious voice, known only as Player One.

As the five go about their lives in the airport lounge, a global disaster strikes. To survive, they barricade themselves in the lounge while outside there are snipers, chemical explosions and anarchy. The world as they know it is about to come to an end.

Player One: What Is To Become of Us is a novel set over five hours, in five different voices during one major catastrophe. This novel is a part of the CBC Massey Lectures, in which a noted scholar gives a week-long series of lectures from within their field. For 2010 Douglas Coupland was the scholar and he wrote his lectures in the form of this five hour novel.

Player One is a unique way of looking at our modern crises. In this airport cocktail lounge during a global catastrophe we are forced to examine our role as a species and all that it entails - time, religion, identity, the economy, the afterlife. We question our existence and our surroundings as well as where we have come from and most importantly where we are going.

The characters themselves aren't relatable. The book isn't so much about the catastrophe, what has happened or how they will survive. And quite frankly, it's depressing. But that's the point. This book will have you looking at your life, looking at humans collectively and wondering "what is to become of us?"

The passage from the book that jumped out at me and is still burning in my mind days later is this - "Fiction and reality have married. What we have made now exceeds what are."

This book is quirky, haunting, and thought-provoking. There are widely differing opinions of this book out there, and I am one of those people who enjoyed it. It doesn't really read as a novel though so it's not a story in the way one would expect, but it is a quick read that will get your mind going.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Book Blogger Hop

Happy Friday! It's time for the Book Blogger Hop. I love the questions we get each week to get to know each other better. I've been learning so much from all of the wonderful bloggers out there.

This weeks question is: "How do you spread the word about your blog?"

When I first started blogging I had no clue there was such a big book blogging community! I started out with just my friends following, then I discovered Book Blogs Ning. That helped me really discover the community.

I began participating in memes such as this one as well as In My Mailbox and Waiting on Wednesday. I also got involved with Bloggiesta this year. In addition to this, I include information about my blog in my email signature and I often post about what I'm doing on my blog on Facebook.

And of course, there is networking through blogs. I love reading other blogs and I try to comment as much as I can. I've been having a hard time lately keeping up with the busyness of back to school and getting into a new routine. But I'm able to read and comment more and more each day which is great!

What has worked well for you when networking your blog? Thanks for taking the time to hop by and I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!