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Showing posts from 2011

Year in Review

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Another year has come to an end! It's time to look back at how well I did on the challenges I set for myself at the beginning of 2011.
Read 100 Books I aim for this every year. Last year I hit 99. So I figured this year I had it in the bag. And I ended up with.....88. What? I didn't get much reading done this summer, we were busy travelling and just enjoying the two months that no one had school or work. And I hit a nice little slump in December. So something to aim for again in 2012.
Canadian Book Challenge - 13 books I read 28 for this challenge. I discovered so much fantastic Canadian literature and of course I signed up for the challenge again. So far I'm at 8. (This challenge starts on Canada Day, July 1.)
POC (Persons of Colour) Challenge - 10-15 books This challenge involved books written by people of colour or involving characters of colour. I read 21, surpassing the goal I set for myself.
Christian Fiction Challenge - 12 books This challenge involves Christi…

Best Books of 2011

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It's time to take a look at the best books I read in 2011. There were a lot of great books but there were some that especially stood out:
Non-Fiction
Falling Backwards - Jann ArdenIs Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? - Mindy KalingIf You Ask Me: And Of Course You Won't - Betty WhiteCitizens of Nowhere - Debi Goodwin
Fiction
Touch - Alexi ZentnerThe Sky is Falling - Caroline AddersonDoing Dangerously Well - Carole EnahoroThe Bomber - Liza MarklundThe Sisters Brothers - Patrick deWittHalf-Blood Blues - Esi Edugyan
(Lot's of Canada in there! It was a great year for Canadian writers, in my opinion.)
And the honours of my favourite book of 2011 go to...

Advent With Austen Wrap-up

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Thank you to Yvann of Reading Fuelled by Tea for hosting Advent With Austen! I must say, I came into this with some pretty ambitious goals and I didn't achieve near what I wanted to. However, I can now FINALLY say that I have read Pride and Prejudice so I consider this a complete success!
In terms of achievement I reached Mr. Bingley status.
I read one book and watched two movies. The book as mentioned above was Pride and Prejudice. The movies were a film adaptation of P&P (the one with Kiera Knightley and though I enjoyed it, I really wish it had been Colin Firth playing Mr. Darcy) and the movie The Jane Austen Book Club (a group of women meet to discuss Jane's books...great idea, not great movie in my opinion.)
I wish I had read more however I have downloaded all of Jane's books to my e-reader and look forward to reading them in the future!

Fall Into Reading 2011 Wrap-up

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I went into Fall Into Reading 2011, hosted by Callapidder Days, with great intentions of clearing of my shelf of books I own but haven't read yet. And as the season comes to an end I look at my shelf and it still looks pretty much the same way it did back in September. I've done quite a bit of reading in the last few months, just not from my shelf. In fact, the pile on the shelf grew during this time.
I had two lists of books I wanted to read - one for this blog and one for my Christian book blog. I managed to read 3 books in total, one from my Christian blog and two from here. Which hey, that's still 3 off the to read shelf and permanently shelved on the big bookcase, right?
I had also wanted to read 50 French books with my daughter. Well, I kind of forgot about that so I didn't count. But we have done a lot of reading over the past few months and her collection of French books is always growing so I'm confident we did well in this area.
If there is one thin…

Holiday Break Reading Challenge Day 4

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The Holiday Break Reading Challenge 2011-2012 is hosted by Julie and Karin at Edifying and Edgy. It's day 4 of the challenge, and this is my first post. The challenge for today is to explore a blog that highlights your preferred genre.
The blog I have chosen is Read for Pleasure. I have come across the blog before never fully explored it. I'm glad I chose it for this challenge. The blog fits my reading personality perfectly! There a various genres covered but it's obvious there's a great love for chick lit. It also focuses on Authors of Colour and the blog author loves reading about different cultures.
I like that her reviews are short and to the point, no spoilers, and very honest. Makes choosing a book very easy (and is guaranteed to grow you TBR list by miles!) The layout and design is great. There's lots there, but it's not crowded, doesn't take a long time to load and has a clean, pretty feel. A new favourite blog of mine!

"Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen

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I feel strange writing book reviews for classic books. Chances are you know the book (even if you haven't read it) so I'm not telling you anything new about it. And it's a classic so it seems pretty obvious there are lots of reasons to read it. So what else can I add?
Does this review of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen even need a plot summary? Here's a quick one: five sisters with a mother obsessed about marrying well; dashing, eligible suitor and his cold, prideful friend; vanity, prejudice, love. That should be enough to make anyone pick up the book.
Most people are shocked to find out that I have never read this book. I've always been pretty surprised of that myself and as I began reading it, I couldn't understand why I hadn't picked up the book sooner. Right from the start I was hooked. The characters are fantastic. Elizabeth is a strong, independent woman that everyone would love. Jane is sweet and endearing. Mr. Bennet is hilarious, I …

The Dreaded Reading Slump

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I am in the midst of a full blown reading slump. At first I thought it was just because of all the stuff going on here - Sinterklaas, my daughter's 5th birthday, her birthday party plus the usual school, appointments, errands. But as I began to get downtime to just sit and read, I still didn't want to. I'd sit down with a book (and a cup of tea) and after one page I'd be looking around for other things to do.
So I apologize if you don't see many reviews here in the next few weeks. I'll try to post about other bookish things, and hopefully I'll be out of this slump soon. I'm looking forward to the new year and the new books and challenges it brings.


"Children of the Waters" by Carleen Brice

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Raised by her grandparents, Trish Taylor always believed that her mother and younger sister died in a tragic car accident. Years later as she is recovering from a divorce and facing racism head on with her biracial teenage son, she discovers that her childhood was based on a lie. Her mother had fatally overdosed and her grandparents had put her baby sister up for adoption because the child was half-Black.
Billie Cousins has lead a charmed but difficult life. Raised by strong Black parents whose success came on the back of hard work, Billie has drawn on the strength of her ancestors to get her through her battle with lupus. Her dream of having a baby finally comes true but her pregnancy is a nightmare for her partner Nick. When Billie discovers that she is adopted and her racial heritage is not what she thought, her world threatens to come crashing down around her.
Children of the Waters by Carleen Brice is novel that covers a wide range of topics - abandonment and adoption, self-es…

"Celebrity Shopper" by Carmen Reid

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Personal Shopper Annie Valentine is back and she is busier than ever! Her television series How Not To Shop is in its second season, her husband Ed is at home taking care of her two older children and their baby twins, their house is under renovation (there are holes in the walls and the ceiling), and her mom is living with them. Just as she thinks she has things under control a nosy tabloid reporter begins snooping around her life and Annie finds out she's in danger of being replaced as host of her own show. So what does Annie decide to do to save her job? Walk in the Scottish hillsides in three-inch heels of course!
Celebrity Shopper by Carmen Reid is the fourth book in the Annie Valentine series. Annie is a personal shopper determined to provide a good life for her children while enjoying the many perks of working in the fashion industry. Life isn't always easy for Annie and she certainly finds herself in a lot of trouble, but it's nothing she can't handle!
I…

FIR '11: How Do You Encourage Others to Read?

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In what ways do you encourage others to read or support their reading habits? How do you share your love of reading with others?
I am such a lover of books that I do everything I can to encourage others to read, that's why I became a book blogger! I'm always talking about what book I'm currently reading, what books I have read, what books I absolutely love. I'm always willing to share a book of mine with a friend or family member. My sister loves chick lit so I'm always passing those books on to her when I am done with them. My stepfather likes a good controversial Christian book so I pass those on to him when I'm done. Everyone else I just pass one on when I think they'll like it.
I'm always encouraging my children's reading habits. At home they have a bookshelf full of books in English and French. Whenever I'm at the bookstore I hit up the bargain books shelves in the kids section so we can get more for our money. I also ask family memb…

Holiday Break Reading Challenge

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I have signed up for the 2011-2012 Holiday Break Reading Challenge hosted Julie and Karin at Edifying and Edgy. Over the holiday break (December 16 - January 1) there will be daily book related activities. You can participate in one of them or all of them, it's all up to you!
To get an idea of what the activities are like you can check out last year's challenge here. There are tons of prizes to be won and it looks like it will be tons of fun.
Our school break is a bit different than the dates scheduled here so I'm not sure how much of the activities I'll be getting in on but I look forward to doing as much as I can!

"Always Something There to Remind Me" by Beth Harbison

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Whether they are fond memories or not, everyone remembers their first love. Erin Edwards certainly does. Back in high school she thought she would be with her boyfriend Nate Lawson forever. But after two years of dating their relationship came crashing to an end.
Erin thought she had moved on. She grew up, had a baby who blossomed into a beautiful teenager, and found a demanding but satisfying job as an event planner. Things were sailing along smoothly until her perfect boyfriend Rick proposed. It wasn't the proposal that worried her, it was the fact that the first thing she thought of was Nate. After all these years, what was he doing back in her mind?
Always Something There To Remind Me by Beth Harbison is a tale of teenage love and heartbreak, and what happens when you can't quite get over that first true love. As Erin navigates her adult life, her teenage memories come flooding back to her and she wonders if that intense, head over heels love she felt for Nate was …

Advent With Austen

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As today is the start of Advent, it is the start of Advent with Austen, hosted by Yvann at Reading, fuelled by tea.

Why Advent with Austen? Because it's been 200 years since Sense and Sensibility was published and because December 16 was Jane Austen's birthday.
Why am I participating? Umm....because I've never read anything by Jane Austen *runs and takes cover* Seriously. I know what you're all thinking, how can we ever trust anything she says about books again? Well, things are about to change.
My plans:
So I don't know how much reading I'm going to get done but the plan is start with Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion, hopefully move onto Emma and then if I'm lucky get in a little Northanger Abbey. If I get really adventurous I'll pick up Sense and Sensibility.
I won't just be reading though. Thanks to Netflix, I'll be doing a little watching as well. I'm going to watch the film versions of Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion and Sense and …

Speculative Fiction Challenge 2012

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In my attempt to broaden my reading I have found another challenge to join! The Speculative Fiction Challenge 2012 is hosted by Adventures of 2.0. This is a genre that is very new to me, one that I have often avoided (with the exception of a few Margaret Atwood novels.) I'm already reading 3 books for other challenges so I'm going to aim for the "excited" level of 6 books. I'd really like to go for the "content" level of 12 books but I'm think it may be a bit too high for me.
I haven't decided yet which books I'm going to read but I think I'm going to be reading more of the classic books from this genre. I'm also going to make sure one of the books is a steampunk book as that is a genre that I've only recently heard of and I must say that while it doesn't sound like something I'll really like, it's still fascinating enough that I want to give it a try.

"A Cupboard Full of Coats" by Yvette Edwards

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Jinx is a woman haunted by her past. Fourteen years ago her mother was brutally murdered in their East London home. She is consumed by the guilt of the part she played in her mothers death and she has let those feelings creep into every part of her life, including her relationship with her five year old son and her estranged husband.
But when Jinx thinks she has a handle on things, living the life she deserves, an old friend of her mothers appears on her doorstep out of nowhere. Lemon wants to talk to Jinx and revisit the events that led up to that horrible night. As they spend the next few days immersed in the past, Jinx realizes that this is her one and only chance to confess what she did. But Lemon also has something to confess and Jinx comes to see what really happened the night that changed her life.
A Cupboard Full of Coats by Yvette Edwards is a family drama full of jealousy, betrayal, violence and passion. Jumping off the page at you is the richness of the East London an…

"Highly Inappropriate Tales for Young People" by Douglas Coupland and Gordon Roumieu

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These aren't your average children's stories. And if the title doesn't warn you of this, then the fact that they are written by Douglas Coupland and illustrated by Graham Roumieu should clue you in. With titles like "Donald the Incredibly Hostile Juice Box," Brandon the Action Figure with Issues," and "Kevin the Hobo Minivan with Extremely Low Morals" you will be wanting to keep this book far away from your children.
Highly Inappropriate Tales for Young People contains seven short stories with weird, crazy, scary, improbable and inappropriate characters, not just for children but for adults as well. Each story has brilliant and vivid drawings to accompany them and add to the inappropriateness.
Marketed as "deliciously wicked" and "completely hilarious" I personally found this book to be anything but. Highly inappropriate, sure, but the laughs were few and far between. Each story definitely pushes boundaries and the characters…

"One Crazy Summer" by Rita Williams-Garcia

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The year is 1968 and eleven-year-old Delphine and her two young sisters are leaving behind their home in Brooklyn and heading out to Oakland for the summer. Their father has decided that the girls need to spend some time with the mother they never really knew. But when they arrive in Oakland, they find that their mother isn't exactly glad to see them.
Wanting her home to herself, their mother Cecile sends the girls to the People's Center where each day they attend a Black Panther day camp. But the girls, especially Delphine, had high hopes of getting to know their mother. Slowly, over the course of the summer, they begin to learn not only about Black History but the true nature of their mother and why she left them. And in the end, they form a bond that no one expected.
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia is the 2011 winner of the Coretta Scott King Award, which is awarded for books about the African-American experience and written for a youth audience. This book is a…

"Tales From the Yoga Studio" by Rain Mitchell

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When you set foot in a yoga studio you step into a place where everything in the world is left outside, where life becomes about slowing down and breathing in the moment. You instantly become a part of a community of diverse people all working toward the same goal. Yoga isn't just exercise, it's a life-changing practice.
Rain Mitchell's Tales From the Yoga Studio takes you inside this world and introduces you to the many people whose lives are touched by yoga. Lee is the studio owner who is being courted by a trendy yoga chain. Their offer is to good to be true and Lee struggles with letting down her faithful clients who have flocked to yoga at turning points in their lives.
I began a regular yoga practice six months ago so I instantly gravitated to this novel. Knowing how much it has changed my life and the strength I have found through it, I was thankful that someone wrote a book detailing the life changes and friendships that emerge from yoga centres.
This book is a…

Mixing It Up Challenge 2012

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Ellie of Musings of a Bookshop Girl is hosting the Mixing It Up 2012 Challenge. It is designed to get us out of our reading comfort zones, exploring new genres and reading diverse books. It's the perfect challenge for me as that's exactly what I've been wanting to do lately. For all the rules and to sign up go here.
There are five levels of participation and I have decided to go for the top one - All the trimmings and a cherry on top. This involves reading one book from all of the given categories, a total of 16 books. Here are the books I have chosen:
Classic: Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe Biography:Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Amy Chua Cookery/Food/Wine: Diet for a Small Planet, Frances Moore Lappe History: A History of the World in 100 Objects, Neil MacGregor Modern Fiction: I've Got Your Number, Sophie Kinsella Graphic Novels/Manga:Maus, Art Spiegelman Crime/Mystery: The Accident, Linwood Barclay Horror: The Island of Dr. Moreau, H.G. Wells Romance: T…

"Falling Backwards" by Jann Arden

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I can't say enough good things about Jann Arden. Besides being a superstar Canadian singer, eight time Juno winner (think Canadian Grammy's), author and radio host, she is one incredibly cool and hilarious woman. So of course I had to pick up her memoir, Falling Backwards, as soon as I saw it.
In the book, Jann shares her pre-celebrity life with stories from her childhood, tales of teenage ups and downs, and the road to making it in the entertainment industry. The book is full of warmth, brilliant insight and moments that will make you laugh until it hurts. What is evident from the first to the last page is who Jann is as a person. She leaps right off the page at you and makes you feel as though you're sitting in a coffee shop chatting with a friend.
She will have you falling down laughing as she talks about her childhood exploits including her penchant for lighting matches, getting her head stuck in the milk chute and having her mother de-worm her using scotch tape.…

Back to Classics Challenge 2012

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Can you believe it's time already to start signing up for the 2012 reading challenges? I can't! Where has this year gone? The first challenge I am signing up for is: Hosted by Sarah Reads Too Much, the Back to Classics Challenge is just what it sounds like, it's all about the classics! This will be good for me, I have a few shelfs full of classics I have never opened. If you would like to sign up for this challenge, check out it out here.
There are nine categories to complete in the year. Here are the books I have chosen:
19th Century Classic: Far From the Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy 20th Century Classic: Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf Re-read: 1984, George Orwell Play: A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams Mystery/Horror/Crime: Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier Romance: Pamela, Samuel Robertson Translation: Around the World in 80 Days, Jules Verne Award Winner: The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton Foreign Country: Siddhartha, Hermann Hesse

"Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)" by Mindy Kaling

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You most likely know Mindy Kaling from The Office, where she stars as Kelly Kapoor and writes several of the show's episodes. Even if you're not a fan of the show, you probably still recognize her from her film roles. If you don't know who she is, you must go find out. A good place to start? Her new book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns).
In essays, Kaling documents her life as the chubby child of immigrant professionals growing up in America, a university comedy actress portraying Ben Affleck in an Off-Broadway play and finally, having achieved her dream of becoming a comedy writer and actress. A quick read of this book will show you why she is so deserving of all the success she has had.
In the book she takes on topics such as karaoke etiquette, the rights and responsibilities of a best friend, romantic comedies, Irish exits, chest hair and comedy roasts among many, many other hilarious topics. I could totally relate to her revenge fantasies w…

"Half-Blood Blues" by Esi Edugyan

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In 1940, war had spread throughout Europe. In Paris, a brilliant young jazz musician named Hiero was arrested by the Nazis. He was a German citizen and Black. Hiero was never heard from again.
Fifty years later his friend and fellow musician Sid, who was there the night he was arrested, is at the premiere of a documentary chronicling Hiero's life. The film spurs Sid to relive their time together, a time of brilliant music and culture but also of trouble, racism and war.
Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan is an engaging, stunning and original novel set in a time that continues to haunt our world. It is a unique story to emerge from the time period of World War two, giving a voice to to the many stateless people who were lost during that time. What makes this story so gripping is the way it is woven with the beauty and soul of the jazz scene the time.
The narrative is in an incredible language of the time, a sort of German-American slang, peppered with jazz and flavour. The …

Congratulations!

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Congratulations to Esi Edugyan on her Giller Prize win for Half-Blood Blues!!!
This win guarantees the 34-year-old new mother booming sales (on an already best-selling novel) and her place in CanLit history. Less than a year ago Edugyan was searching for a publisher for her book after her first company collapsed. Congratulations to Thomas Allen Publishers for picking up this fantastic novel.
Half-Blood Blues

Giller Prize Wrap-up and My Prediction

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The winner of the Giller Prize will be announced tonight. For those who don't know, the Giller Prize is one of Canada's most prestigious literary prizes. It is a must-follow for fans of Canadian fiction!
This year I aimed to read all of the books on the long list. That didn't happen. However, for the first time I managed to read all of the books on the short list before the winner was announced.
The shortlist (click on title for review)
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt - Nominated for the Man Booker Prize and has already won the Rogers' Writers Trust prize. Has a wide appeal and is very accessible for those who aren't fans of the Western genre.
Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan - Nominated for the Man Booker Prize as well as all 3 major Canadian prizes. A fantastic story, it's language transports you to the time and place, engrossing you in its beauty. (My review isn't up yet.)
The Antagonist by Lynn Coady - written in a unique format (through the…

"The Sisters Brothers" by Patrick deWitt

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The year is 1851 and Charlie and Eli Sisters, the infamous Sisters Brothers, are travelling from Oregon to California to kill a man. This is what they do as professional killers. But this trip isn't going to be an easy one. Along the way there are many unsettling and violent experiences. And when they arrive in California they find that getting their man isn't going to be as easy as they thought.
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt is a fascinating Western taking place in a time when the prospect of gold was enough to make a man abandon all that he has and knows, and when honour and pride are important enough to lead to murder. The book is narrated by Eli, the more sensitive of the two brothers, and chronicles everything whether large or small on their journey.
I'm not sure how much of the book stays true to historical details but that doesn't matter in this story. In fact, it probably makes the book much more accessible to readers who don't consider themsel…

The Antagonist by Lynn Coady

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Gordon "Rank" Rankin, Jr. is the type of guy that people size up immediately upon meeting him. Larger than other kids his age, he comes across as your typical hockey enforcer and most people expect such behaviour from him. As much as he tries to fight this, it soon catches up to him and he finds himself in trouble, putting everything he has worked for in jeopardy.
But it isn't this incident that has Rank all riled up. Decades after a troubling run-in with the law changed his life, Rank discovers that a university friend has written a book based on his life. Painted as a goon and criminal, Rank is angry that his one time friend has betrayed him. And he is determined to set him straight.
The Antagonist by Lynn Coady is an intriguing, unique novel. It is written in the form of Rank's emails to his former friend Adam who has written a novel based on Rank's life. Rank is determined to correct Adam about his life, angry that Adam has left out some crucial biogra…

"The Free World" by David Bezmozgis

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In 1978, three generations of a Latvian Jewish family arrives in Rome. It is here that they, along with thousands of others just like them, will spend a half year waiting for visas that will take them to a new life in North America.
Samuil Krasnansky, the patriarch of the family is a Red Army veteran and devout Communist. He and his wife Emma have come along with their two sons and their families, the travels being of more importance to the younger generations. During their time in Italy Karl, a father, finds himself drawn to the black market, while Alec gets a job with an immigration agency which to his surprise aids in his womanizing ways. Their time in Italy may be short, but it is a time of great importance - of limbo, of passage to a new and unknown life.
The Free World by David Bezmozgis chronicles a half-century of the Jewish experience in Eastern Europe through the three generations of the Krasnansky family. Rich in history and strong in story, the book is a fascinating l…

"Seriously...I'm Kidding" by Ellen DeGeneres

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It's been pretty hard to miss Ellen DeGeneres these past few years. Whether it's dancing on her hit television show, judging on American Idol, or striking a pose in a Cover Girl commercial, Ellen is everywhere. And now she's back on bookshelves. In Seriously….I'm Kidding, Ellen takes on everything from the best way to fall asleep to the difficulty of being royalty with her trademark humour.
The book is comprised of short essays filled with witty observations on celebrity culture and life in general. It seems that Ellen can find the lighter side of almost anything as well as the absurdity of almost anything. Some of the essays give the reader some great and important thoughts on life (for example her chapter about courtesy) and some of them are meant for nothing but laughs.
I must say though, for as funny as Ellen is on her talk show it didn't completely translate on to the page for me. Some of the essays had me laughing out loud, but for the most part they just…

Welcome to the 24 Hour Readathon!

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Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon is underway!
Well as I mentioned before I went to bed, my snooze button and I have a wonderful relationship (though it seems to be a bit one-sided.) I didn't get up to finish my reading this morning, kids waking up in the middle of the night had me pretty tired when my alarm went off. So my total for my first readathon is:
3.5 books 748 pages 12 full hours spent reading.
Can't wait to try and better those totals at the next readathon!
End of event meme
Which hour was most daunting for you? I'd say the last hour I was awake, it was getting to be a struggle to admit I needed to put the book down and go to sleep Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia was a great one for me. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Nope What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? I can't think of one thng but I …