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Showing posts from September, 2012

Feature and Follow Friday

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This is my first time participating in Feature & Follow Friday hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read.  So I would like to say welcome to everyone who is visiting for the first time!  Here you will find an eclectic bunch of book reviews.  I read a bunch of genres and generally whatever catches my eye, while pushing myself to read books that I wouldn't normally pick up.

This weeks question is: What is the BIGGEST word you've seen used in a book lately - that made you stop and look it up?  Might as well leave the definition and book too.

I'm currently reading 1984 for Banned Books Week and just the other night I came across the word palimpsest used in the line "All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and re-inscribed exactly as often as was necessary."  I had never heard the word before and Dictionary.com defines it as "a parchment or the like from which writing has been partially or completely erased to make room for another text." …

"The Chaos" by Nalo Hopkinson

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Sixteen-year-old Sojourner, nicknamed Scotch after the scotch bonnet pepper for her hot dance moves, feels like she doesn't fit in anywhere.  At home, she is the perfect daughter, at school she pushes boundaries.  Her father is White Jamaican and her mother Black American and she feels like she doesn't fit in with either group.  Most people don't believe that she is black and she wishes her skin was darker, just like her brothers.  She's just transferred to a new high school after bullying incidents at her old one.  She's not the most popular girl but she's doing okay at this one.  
But lately, Scotch's skin has been breaking out in patches of a sticky black tar-like substance.  And she's been seeing flying, bodiless horse heads wherever she goes.  She's been doing pretty well at hiding it until the Chaos occurs.  She's out one night with her older brother when a bubble of light appears.  Scotch dares her brother to touch it and when he does, he …

Word on the Street Toronto

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On Sunday, I attended the Toronto Word on the Street, Canada's National Book and Magazine Festival.  It is an awesome experience (that happens in cities across Canada) where book lovers can meet authors, publishers and other book lovers.  There are author readings, signings, book sales, discussions, and food (mmm...I nibbled on patty and coco bread from The Real Jerk as I wandered around.)

When I arrived a spent a couple of hours wandering all of the tents, checking out who was there and chatting.  The first place I stopped to buy was at the kids section where I picked up some books for my kids.

I bought Up Cat and Up Dog from Annick Press for my son.  His speech delay involves dropping consonants from words and "up" is a difficult word for him to form in his mouth, so these books are perfect for him to practice.  Each page has only two or three words so there's lots of pronunciation practice for him.

For my daughter I got Caillou: Les petites roues (the training wh…

"Whirl Away" by Russell Wangersky

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A five year old boy who repeats the things his father says to his mother.  The caretaker of a prairie amusement park.  A divorce lawyer whose own marriage is at risk.  A travelling sports drink salesman.  A suspended paramedic who answers a call against orders.  These characters and more all have one thing in common - one major quality that has become their biggest weakness.
Whirl Away, by Russell Wangersky, is the 2012 Giller Prize long listed collection of short stories that examines what happens in peoples lives when they are forced to face the realization that their lives have gone astray and the one thing that has been keeping them going is now bringing them down.  It's a fantastic look at what happens to people when their worlds begin to spin off axis.
I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of stories.  Each one is rich in details, with characters who could be anyone you pass daily on the street but who hold inside of them secrets and struggles that define who they are.  Wangers…

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

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Another Monday is here again.  It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

This past weekend was the Word on the Street Festival here in Toronto.  It is a fabulous experience, a celebration of Canadian writers and everything bookish.  I met some great authors, picked up some interesting books, and I'll be sharing all about it in the next few days!

Last week was a good week reading-wise.  I seem to be falling into a better reading routine, and of course, reading through the Giller long list has definitely helped with that.  Here is what my reading week looks like.

What I Read Last Week:
The Chaos by Nalo Hopkinson (I will be posting my review on Thursday as part of the A More Diverse Universe blog tour)
Whirl Away by Russell Wangersky

What I'm Reading Now:
Nominated for the Giller Prize, Dr. Brinkley's Tower by Robert Hough is about an American doctor who builds a radio tower in a small Mexican border town in 1931 and the results …

Short Story Sunday: "Absorbed" by Penelope Crowe

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Violet has a history of being in abusive relationships and her current boyfriend Mick is no exception.  But Violet believes that the good times are so good, it makes it worth putting up with Mick's behaviour.
Then one day Violet comes home to find a mysterious package on her doorstep.  It is addressed to her but there is no indication who it is from.  She opens it to find a beautiful necklace, one that looks familiar but she can't place where from.  And when she puts it on she discovers that this necklace will change both her life and Mick's forever.
Absorbed is a 16 page short story by Penelope Crowe that draws you in from the moment the package is left on the doorstep right to the end where its true nature is discovered.
It has the makings of a psychological thriller, though I feel that it was a little too short to really develop that sense.  It still made for a good read as the mystery of who sent the necklace and why is enough to keep you reading.    There isn't much …

"Where We Belong" by Emily Giffin

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Marian Caldwell is thirty-six years old, living her dream in New York City as the producer of a successful network television show.  She is in a wonderful relationship and enjoying her success, convinced that her life is as perfect as it could be.  But a knock at her door one night turns everything upside down and forces Marian to confront her past and her identity.
Kirby Rose is an eighteen-year-old from St. Louis with loving parents and a high-achieving sister.  Kirby loves music, especially playing the drums, but doesn't quite feel like she fits in anywhere, both at home and at school.  Kirby has always known she is adopted, and while it hasn't completely bothered her, as she is contemplating her future she begins to wonder about her birth parents and how much of a part of her they are.  So she sets off to New York City in search of her birth mother.
Where We Belong by Emily Giffin is the story of these two characters, Marian and Kirby, who embark on a journey to get to know …

"Up and Down" by Terry Fallis

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David Turner has left his job in Ottawa on Parliament Hill for the fast paced world of international public relations.  But as soon as he realizes it's a world he's not quite prepared for, he's thrown in head first with no life preserver in sight.
David's first major project is to come up with a way to revitalize public interest in NASA's space program - it turns out most people would rather go out for lunch with their friends than watch a shuttle launch. Thinking they wouldn't expect much from him on his first day he throws out the most out of this world idea he can think of - a Citizen Astronaut lottery that would send one Canadian and one American into space on the next launch.
Baffled by the fact that they actually go for the idea, David finds himself thrown into the sea of politics behind the scenes at a PR agency as well as Canadian-American relations.  And when he's sent into a remote area of British Columbia to find Canada's citizen astronaut he f…

"It's Monday, What Are You Reading?"

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I'm still struggling a little bit with reading during the week, trying to balance the early mornings and long days while staying awake through it all!  However, thanks to a sickie this past weekend, I managed to hit my reading goals and get a few good books finished.

What I Read Last Week:
Up and Down by Terry Fallis
Where We Belong - Emily Giffin
Flaw Less - Shana Burton

What I'm Reading Now:
The Chaos by Nalo Hopkinson Sixteen-year-old Scotch struggles to fit in -at home she's the perfect daughter, at school she's provocatively sassy, and thanks to her mixed heritage, she doesn't feel she belongs with the Caribbeans, whites, or blacks. And even more troubling, lately her skin is becoming covered in a sticky black substance that can't be removed. While trying to cope with this creepiness, she goes out with her brother-and he disappears. A mysterious bubble of light just swallows him up, and Scotch has no idea how to find him. Soon, the Chaos that has claimed her bro…

Short Story Sunday: "Clockwork Fagin" by Cory Doctorow

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When Monty Goldfarb walked into St. Agatha's Home For The Rehabilitation of Crippled Children, he set in a motion a plan that would change the lives of the children forever.  Without warning, he takes the life of the sadistic Zophar Grindsworth, the man who is supposed to care for the children injured in factory accidents but instead beats and starves them.
Seeing their opportunity to live a life of leisure, the children don't let on to the Sisters of St. Agatha's that the Grinder is dead.  Instead, they use their talents to transform the dead Grinder into an automaton, fooling everyone who comes into contact with him.  Life is good for the children, until a new boy runs away from the home and is found murdered, turning attention on the orphanage.  Now the children must decide what to do with Grinder before someone finds out what they have done.
Clockwork Fagin by Cory Doctorow is a story from Steampunk!, an anthology of short stories edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant.

Little Readers Saturday

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I want to share the books I am reading with my kids.  As I've mentioned before, I have a five year old daughter in grade one who goes to French school.  So at home we read in both French and English with her.  She is just starting to read on her own in both languages.  I also have a three year old son who loves books.  He has a speech delay so reading is extra important in our home to help him with that.  So here you will find books for young kids in both English and French!



My daughter loves princess stories and these books from Renaud-Bray are perfect for her.  They're the same stories, but new to us as they're in French.  They're a little advanced for kids who don't speak French as a first language, so I read them to her with the goal of her picking out all the words she recognizes.

Art by Patrick McDonnell is an English book about a young boy named Art who loves to do art!  As you can see from the cover, the illustrations are beautiful and colourful.  The words …

Book Blogger Appreciation Week Day 5: Goodbye!

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This was my first year participating in the Book Blogger Appreciation Week.  When I first began blogging almost three years ago, I didn't even realize there was a book blogging community!  I just wanted to share my thoughts on books with friends and I figured there were other blogs out there like mine but I didn't realize the community was so big and so wonderful!

As we say goodbye to this wonderful week, it's time to reflect on it all and discuss what we got out of the week.

I loved the interview portion of the week.  I got to meet the fabulous Nat from Reading Romances and we had a great chat.  I loved the many ways the interviews were done, getting to know other bloggers a bit more personally and the many quirky, funny answers.  We're a very eclectic bunch!

I got to discover a whole bunch of new to me blogs.  I'm very excited as I discovered a bunch of blogs that cover the classics and I'm thinking I'm going to have to join up with the Classics Club at …

Book Blogger Appreciation Week Day 4: Book Recognition

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Day 4 of Book Blogger Appreciation Week is all about showing love to and getting the word out about books we think deserve more recognition.  
In case you don't know, I'm a fiercely proud Canadian.  But up until a few years ago, I didn't read much Canadian literature (I was rebelling against high school English classes all those years.)  When I finally did start reading it, I discovered a wealth of amazing authors and stories.  And I decided then that I wanted my blog to do its part getting the word out about the awesome Canadian talent we have.

So to showcase our wonderful talent I've picked two amazing books that I think everyone the world over should read.  Below you'll find a link to the book and excerpts from my reviews.



The Beggar's Opera by Peggy Blair The Beggar's Opera by Peggy Blair is a fantastic, fast-paced mystery set in the beautiful landscape of Castro's Cuba.  It is engaging, educational and well-researched, full of danger, intrigue and s…

Book Blogger Appreciation Week Day 3: What Blogging Means To Me

I'm trying to think of one deep, meaningful sentence that can sum up what blogging means to me but I can't think of anything to say that is profound or earth-shattering.  It's not because blogging doesn't mean anything to me, just that it's something that permeates so many different parts of my life that one sentence doesn't sum it up.  So here's a few reasons why I love blogging:
I'm part of a like-minded community My life revolves around two little people who can't read yet.  And while I love reading to them, there isn't much conversation that follows "Count With Dora."  Blogging opens up a world to me where I can discuss books with other readers who love books as much as I do.  That's just not something that exists in my daily life.
I get to write My undergrad degree was all about writing - 30 page research paper?  No problem.  Four 30 page research papers?  Bring it on.  My graduate degree was much more writing intensive.  Though t…

Book Blogger Appreciation Week Day 2 - The Interview

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One of the highlights of Book Blogger Appreciation Week is the interview swap and that is today!  Two book bloggers meet up, interview each other and share the details!


I am paired up with Nat of Reading Romances and we had a fabulous chat, the first half of which I am sharing here. (That would be me in the blue italics!)


Hi Shan, nice to meet you! I'm Nat =)

Hi Nat, it's great to meet you as well!

What books do you like to read? What would you say is your favorite genre?'

I'm a pretty eclectic reader.  It's hard for me to pick just one favourite genre.  I love all sorts of fiction especially Canadian and British fiction.  I'm starting to branch out into new genres like mystery and speculative fiction.  Basically I just pick up what sounds interesting!

Cool! Eclectic is nice, I have an online book club called Eclectic Passions, focused on romantic fiction!

I saw your book club and it has piqued my interest.  Can you tell me more about Eclectic Passions?

Sure, it&…

Book Blogger Appreciation Week: Day One - Appreciation!

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Today is all about showing love to the blogs we enjoy reading daily.  Thanks to Blogger and Twitter there are a ton of blogs I read reviews on but there are a quite a few that stand out as daily go-tos, for a variety of reasons.  Since my reading is eclectic, so are the blogs I read.

I Am Canadian - over the past few years I've been exposed to the fantastic literature that my fabulous country puts out.  One blog that does an amazing job of promoting Canadian literature is The Book Mine Set.  John is the host of the Canadian Book Challenge, which invites readers from all over the world to discover what Canada has to offer.

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun - when it comes to finding fabulous, fun chick lit I look no further than Novelicious.  It's a great place to find established writers, up and comers and self-published writers.  It also provides great insight into the writing process.

For Those Who Dream of Owning A Book Shop - Ellie from Musings of a Bookshop Girl runs a second hand …

"It's Monday, What Are You Reading?"

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It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.  It's a great place to find book bloggers, find out what they're reading and make great book connections.

Last week was the first week of school which also meant the first week of 6:30am wake ups to catch a 7:45am bus.  My first grader and even my three year old had no problems doing this.  Me on the other hand...well at least we made it on time every morning.  So my reading last week wasn't fantastic.  Something about being tired and trying to read just wasn't working.  I'm hoping that this week the early mornings won't be as much of a shock to the system.

What I Read Last Week:
Love, Sex and Happily Ever After by Craig Groeschel
Everything The Bible Says About Money by Baker Publishing Group

What I Am Currently Reading:

I'm still working on Goodbye For Now by Laurie Frankel.  I'm enjoying it, but just not getting through it as fast as I had hoped.  So I'm going t…

Short Story Sunday: "Inspector Zhang Gets His Wish" by Stephen Leather

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Inspector Zhang is a member of the Singapore Police Force and a fan of mystery books.  His biggest wish is to one day encounter a locked room mystery, a true mystery that is seemingly impossible to solve.  But for Inspector Zhang, this may never happen, as Singapore has one of the lowest crime rates in the world, and barely one murder a year.  
Until one day Inspector Zhang is called to a five star hotel to investigate the murder of a wealthy American businessman.  After reviewing the hotel security tapes, Zhang realizes that he is in the midst of an actual locked room mystery.  Using the principles set out by famed mystery writer John Dickson Carr, Zhang relishes the fact that he has finally got his wish.  But will all of his reading help him solve the case or will he get more than he wished for?
Inspector Zhang Gets His Wish is a short story by Stephen Leather, one of the UK's most successful thriller writers.  It is one of four Inspector Zhang stories, all locked room mysteries. …

"On The Island" by Tracy Garvis Graves

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Thirty-year-old English teacher Anna Emerson is in a long-term relationship is looking to get away from life for a while when she is offered a job as a summer tutor on a tropical island in the Maldives.  Her student, T.J. Callahan is seventeen and recovering from a difficult battle with cancer and the last thing he wants to spend his summer doing is studying.
Anna and T.J. set out for the Maldives together, planning to meet the rest of his family there, when the pilot of their private plane suffers a heart attack over the Indian Ocean.  The plane crashes in the shark-infested water and Anna and T.J. take refuge on the shore of an uninhabited island.  They spend their first few days waiting for rescue but after a while have to face the fact that they may never be found.  As their days turn to weeks, then to months and years, the castaways encounter violent storms, illness and the harshness of struggling to meet their basic needs.  And soon they encounter another obstacle, the growing re…

Book Blogger Hop

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It's time for the Book Blogger Hop, hosted by Jennifer at Crazy For Books.  Today is the end of the first week back to school.  And the end of my first week waking up at 6:30am to get my daughter off to the bus on time!  So it's safe to say I've been tired all week long!  But I think now I'm starting to hit my stride and it will get easier from here.

This weeks question for the Hop is: What book series do you never want to see end?

I've never really been much a book series person.  I'll read them, but nothing I've become attached to the way people have with say, Harry Potter or Twilight.  But there are a few that enjoy that I hope continue to put out books for years to come.  These include The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith, the Annika Bengtzon mystery series by Liza Marklund, and of course the Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella.

What series do you hope will never end?

"A Nation Worth Ranting About" by Rick Mercer

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Canadian politics may not get as much attention as American politics but we sure have our fair share of drama.  In fact in the last eight years, we had four federal elections, something that is supposed to occur every four years.  You can imagine that things haven't exactly been business as usual when it comes to our government.  And the citizens haven't exactly been thrilled with this either.
If you want to find out exactly what's going on in Canadian politics and how everyone feels about it, you have to look no further than Rick Mercer.  The easiest way to explain his television show, The Rick Mercer Report, is to say he's Canada's Jon Stewart.  A fine comparison, but Rick's show isn't just about the humorous side of politics, it's about discovering what is great about Canada and showcasing our best and brightest…while taking a glimpse at the humorous side of politics.
And a unique part of the show is Mercer's rant - a short, on the move monologue, …