Thursday, February 28, 2013

"The Other Side of Paradise" by Staceyann Chin


Born early on the floor of her grandmother's house in Jamaica, Staceyann Chin's life started with a bang.  No one knew her mother was pregnant and Staceyann was so small, few expected her to survive.   She did survive, with the love and help of her grandmother, but life for Staceyann would be full of difficulties and heartbreak, a struggle to survive and find her authentic self.

The Other Side of Paradise is Staceyann Chin's memoir of growing up in Jamaica, moving from home to home, working hard to get by, discovering who she is, and coming out as a lesbian.  It's a moving portrayal of the lives you don't see while on vacation.

Shortly after she was born, Staceyann's mother left for Canada and while everyone knew who her father was, he wanted nothing to do with her.  Her grandmother tried her best to raise Staceyann and her brother, but after only a few years they were separated from each other.  Staceyann went from home to home, staying with family, friends of the family, school friends, and eventually on her own while she worked hard to finish school and go on to university.

Throughout the book your heart hurts for the difficulties she faced.  The poverty she experienced while her father had a well to do business nearby, the abuse and degradation she faced by the people whose homes she lived in (often her own family) is heartbreaking.  No young child should ever face what she did.  But Staceyann knew what she wanted and that was a better life.  She took care of herself, reached out to the family that didn't want her, and fought for the money needed to keep her in school.

While she was in university, she began to understand who she was and what she wanted in life.  She came out as a lesbian, which in a country that still has buggery laws on the books and well-known musicians sing about killing gay people, this is a big and brave step.  Staceyann talks about the backlash she faced from other people on campus, how others hid their sexualities, and how those who did support her did so quietly or behind closed doors.

Today, Staceyann is a poet and performer in the United States.  It is evident throughout this book that writing comes naturally, one breezes through the pages even though they contain tough and difficult subjects to read.  She makes it easy for readers to jump into the world of Paradise, Jamaica and gain a great understanding of the conditions she grew up in. 

When people are talking in the book she does write their words in Patois.  This lends a feel of the island to the book and an understanding of the people.  I understand Patois so I didn't have any difficulties with it but people unfamiliar to the language may have some problems, however it seems to be written in a pretty basic way for accessibility.

My only criticism with the book is I wanted to understand more about Jamaican culture and how it affected her.  Jamaica is a country full of many different races, however, Staceyann's biracial background could have meant a different sort of treatment.  She did mention times where the texture of her hair or colour of skin was noted but I would have liked to know more about her feelings about this.  I also would have liked to know more about her feelings about the way homosexuality is treated on the island.  Violence against homosexuals is a very real thing there and she did have her own experience with it, however, I wondered if she had deeper feelings than she let on.  I got an understanding more of how her experience played out rather than how it affected her emotionally.  I think there are a lot of social issues in Jamaica that Staceyann has experienced firsthand and she could have contributed more to the conversation rather than focusing so much on her childhood and a little on her adult life.

Overall, this is a really good memoir and one that will take you somewhere you're not familiar with, give you a glimpse of a life and world you may only learn about through books.  It is an important story to tell and Staceyann Chin has been strong and brave in sharing it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

"The Poisoned Pawn" by Peggy Blair


While investigating the murder of a young boy, Cuban Inspector Ricardo Ramirez uncovered shocking secrets about the dissemination of child pornography through the internet and the years of abuse of young children at the hands of people running orphanages throughout the country.  Now, he is about to discover just how widespread it really is.  

Inspector Ramirez has been dispatched to Canada to pick up and bring home a Cuban priest who has been found in possession of child pornography depicting Cuban children.  But what seems to be a straightforward job turns into much more.  The wife of Mike Ellis, a Canadian detective who Ramirez had arrested in Cuba on suspicion of murder, has dropped dead on her flight from Cuba to Canada.  Mike is thought to be the culprit, but when a Canadian tourist and a Cuban national die in Cuba under similar circumstances, things aren't so clear.  Ramirez finds himself caught up in the search for a suspect that spans two countries.

The Poisoned Pawn, by Peggy Blair, is the sequel to The Beggar's Opera, the gripping thriller that introduced us to Inspector Ramirez.  In addition to Ramirez and Ellis, other favourite characters return such as pathologist Hector Apiro and lawyer Celia Jones.  This book picks up right where the first one left off and continues the fast-paced intrigue right to the last page.  

I absolutely loved Blair's first book.  I picked it up at a time when I didn't consider myself a mystery reader and I was instantly taken in by the book and had a hard time putting it down.  The setting of Cuba was so richly described and jumped off the page at you.  And in this latest book, it does the same.  Whereas The Beggar's Opera spends a bit more time giving an overall picture of Cuban society and culture, The Poisoned Pawn jumps right in to the mystery.

This time around we also see Inspector Ramirez travel off the island, something few Cubans are able to do and when he comes to Canada he is exposed to our Aboriginal history and culture as well as our freezing cold climate (having spent a few years in Ottawa myself, I cringed for Ramirez as he stepped off the plane in the middle of winter.)  As Ramirez and Apiro race to discover who is behind the deaths of three women in Cuba and prevent the Canadian government from issuing a travel advisory that could cripple Cuba's tourism industry, readers are exposed to the horrors of residential schools and child abuse that not only haunt our First Nations people but all Canadians.  And as we learn from the book, this is a worldwide problem, not just confined to the borders of one country.  

What I really liked about this book is how it picked up right where the last one left off and how both of the books have built to a bigger storyline than what is in its own pages.  It shows how intricately woven so much of life is, how everyone and everything has more to it than meets the eye.  I can't wait for more Inspector Ramirez!


About the Author

Peggy Blair has been a lawyer for more than thirty years.  A recognized expert in Aboriginal law, she also worked as both a criminal defence lawyer and Crown prosecutor.  She spent a Christmas in Old Havana, where she watched the bored young policemen along the Malécon, visited Hemingway's favourite bars, and learned to make a perfect mojito.  A former member of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, Blair is named in the Canadian Who's Who.  She lives in Ottawa.

Peggy Blair blogs at http://peggyblair.wordpress.com and you can follow her on Twitter @peggy_blair.

I'm pleased to be a part of Penguin Canada's blog tour for this fantastic book.  Be sure to check out the other stops on the tour.

Feb 25 The Literary Word www.theliteraryword.blogspot.com
Feb 26 Curled Up with a Good Book and a Cup of Tea
www.goodbooksandacupoftea.blogspot.com
Feb 28 Just a Lil Lost www.justalillost.com
March 4 A Bookworm¹s World www.luanne-abookwormsworld.blogspot.com
March 5 Serendipitous Readings www.serendipitous-readings.com
March 6 Literary Treats www.literarytreats.wordpress.com
March 7 Thrifty Momma¹s Brainfood www.thriftymommasbrainfood.blogspot.com
I am also excited to be giving away a copy of The Beggar's Opera and The Poisoned Pawn to one lucky reader, courtesy of Penguin Canada.  This giveaway is open to Canadians only.  To enter, leave a comment a below with your email address.  Winner will be chosen and notified on 5 March.


Monday, February 25, 2013

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

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

I don't know what is up with me this year but I was sick again last week.  This better be the last time this winter!  Unfortunately this time it didn't translate into a whole lot of reading, just more sleeping (which is not a bad thing.)  Let's see how my reading is doing:

What I Read Last Week:
You can check out my review of Songs of Deliverance by Marilynn Griffith here.  The Other Side of Paradise by Staceyann Chin is a well-written, heartbreaking memoir about growing up without her parents and struggling to get by in Jamaica.  The Poisoned Pawn by Peggy Blair is a fast-paced mystery novel set in Cuba and Canada and is the sequel to The Beggar's Opera.

What I'm Reading Now:
Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

What I Plan to Read Next:
Eighty Days by Matthew Goodman is the real life story of two women who tried to repeat the fictional journey in Around the World in Eighty Days.  See Now Then by Jamaica Kincaid is the story of a family living in small-town New England and their past, present, and future.  (I got that from Amazon, I'm not entirely sure what it's about, but I know I want to read it because it's by Jamaica Kincaid!)

What are you reading this week?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

"The Scottish Banker of Surabaya" by Ian Hamilton


Ava Lee is spending her summer recovering from her last investigation at a cottage north of Toronto.  She has no foreseeable plans to work, but when her mother introduces to her a woman whose family lost millions in a Ponzi scheme, she agrees to take on the easy case.  However, this case is anything but easy.  

Ava soon finds herself investigating an Indonesian bank run by a Scot.  After a troubling run with the Scot, she discovers that the bank is in reality a front for a money-laundering operation run by Italian mobsters.  Will Ava be able to successfully return the money to it's rightful owners or is she finally in over her head?

The Scottish Banker of Surabaya by Ian Hamilton is the fifth instalment in the Ava Lee series, but the first one I have read.  I must say, I'm hooked on this series.  It's not necessary to start at the beginning in the series and I imagine all of the books would stand alone no matter which order you read them in.  But I imagine you'll find it hard to read one and not want to read the rest.

Ava Lee is a character like no other.  She is Chinese-Canadian, living in upscale Toronto, and a lesbian.  She is tough, unafraid, skilled in martial-arts, and doesn't let anything stand in the way of what she wants.  As a forensic accountant, the crimes she investigates are finance-related but her investigations definitely aren't free from violence.  

This is an excellently written book.  In the beginning I found the descriptions of places to be a little tedious, but that's possibly because I'm very familiar with the places in Ontario that were described.  Other readers not familiar with the areas may appreciate how in depth Hamilton is in setting the scene.  Once Ava was on the trail of the criminals the book really drew me in.  The plot is detailed but the writing isn't convoluted which can be difficult to do.  It was easy to keep up with and suspense filled the pages.

The other books in the series have taken Ava all of the world, from her home in Toronto to locales such as Hong Kong, Las Vegas, Denmark, Guyana, Thailand, New York, and now Indonesia.  The rich experience of the location in the book is enough to make you want to pick it up, but when you do, you'll be drawn in to the crime worlds and won't want to put the book down until the investigation is over.  

If you are a crime fiction fan, then you will enjoy this book.  It is fast-paced, thrilling, and dangerous.  Ava Lee is an excellent investigator and strong and intricately developed enough to carry a series that will last for years to come. 


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

"A Long Walk to Water" by Linda Sue Park


In 1985, Salva is a young boy growing up in Sudan, helping his family at home and attending school.  But one day his village is attacked while he is at school and he escapes into the forest with a bunch of strangers.  His country is in the midst of a civil war and he is about to become one of the famous "lost boys," young men who walked across countries to find safety.

In 2008, Nya is a young girl growing up in Sudan who spends her days getting water from a pond that is over two hours from her home.  She does this twice a day to help provide for her family.  Education is just a dream for Nya, there are more pressing needs at home.

Their lives collide in present day Sudan, when Salva's survival story provides him with an opportunity to make a better way for his country and Nya's life changes forever because of it.

A Long Walk to Water is a novel by Newberry Medal winner Linda Sue Park that documents that real life story of Salva, a young man forced to flee his village and who ended up living in refugee camps before moving to America due to the civil war in his country.  His story intersects with the fictional Nya, a representation of the many people in Sudan who have benefitted from Salva's humanitarian work.

There are a lot of books out about the Lost Boys of Sudan, as well as documentaries, but this novel stands out in that it is aimed at bringing the story to young people.  This book would be great for middle grade readers and up to help them understand the lives of other young people around the world.  The book is written in a way that is sensitive to the age of the readers but still gets the difficulties and horrors of war across.

I liked how the stories of Salva and Nya were told together, even though they happened at different times.  Salva's story is told in the black print and Nya's in the red print to keep the stories intertwined but prevent it from becoming confusing.  

I highly recommend this book for younger readers.  Adults who are not familiar with the Lost Boys or the civil war in Sudan may also enjoy this introduction, but this is mostly for school-age kids.  


Monday, February 18, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

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

Today is Family Day in Ontario, which means a day off of work and school and everyone home together.  I have been trying to convince my 6 year old that it's called Clean Your Room Day in which everyone gets the day off of work and school to clean their rooms, but she doesn't seem to be buying it.

What I Read Last Week:

Last week was a good reading week for me.  I definitely made up for reading only one book the week before!  A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park is the story of a young man in Sudan who became one of the Lost Boys during the civl war.  The Scottish Banker of Surabaya by Ian Hamilton is a mystery thriller involving an Indonesian bank fronted by a Scottish banker but run by an Italian organized crime unit.  The Air We Breathe by Christa Parrish is about a young girl whose anxiety keeps her stuck in her home and hides a deep secret.  The Dinner by Herman Koch is about two couples who sit down at a restaurant to discuss the trouble their sons have gotten into.

What I'm Reading Now:
Songs of Deliverance by Marilynn Griffith is an Urban Christian novel about a group of friends dealing with forgiveness and redemption.  The Other Side of Paradise by Staceyann Chin is a memoir about growing up in Jamaica and coming out as a lesbian.  

What I Plan to Read Next:
Eighty Days by Matthew Goodman is the true story of two women who set out to outdo the fictional hero in Jules Verne's Around the World in Eight Days by circling the globe in less than eighty days.  I'm planning on reading these two books together.

What are you reading this week?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

"The Dinner" by Herman Koch


In a restaurant in the Netherlands, two couples meet for dinner.  What appears to be an innocent meeting between friends has deep and dark undertones.  The men are brothers, one a prominent politician in the running to be the next Prime Minister, the other a former teacher.  The couples have gathered to discuss an incident involving their teenage sons.  The boys are in trouble and the couples have very different ideas of how to handle the fallout.  The Dinner by Herman Koch is a suspenseful novel about human behaviour and the lengths to which people will go to protect their families.  

This is a novel of which I need to say very little for the purpose of not ruining what is an incredible reading experience.  The story of the trouble the boys are in and what each parent chooses to do about it unfolds over the course of the evening.  As the two couples sit down to dinner, the character of Paul shares the story, bit by bit, painting the picture of how they all got to this point and building up the suspense in a skillful way.  To give you much more information than this would not allow you the wonder of discovering it yourself.  The shock of what has occurred and, more importantly, the decisions made in the aftermath is what sticks with you long after you close the book.

What impressed me so much in this book was the theme of how quickly people change.  The change between liking someone and having a serious dislike of them (or vice versa) can be so quick.  On the surface, someone can be one thing and very quickly you realize that they're nothing like you thought they were.  

The Dinner is a novel that will have you wondering what exactly we have to come as a society.  The incident isn't the only thing in this novel that will have you horrified, the reactions are just as bad.  You will definitely ask yourself "what if this were my child?"  

This is a book that you'll want to be reading at the same time as someone else so you can talk with them about it the moment you put it down.  What seems to be a simple premise, a simple dinner becomes much, much more.

 How do you talk about a novel when you can't talk about what happened?  Why you use GIF's of course!  Check out Retreat by Random House's reaction to the book here.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of Random House of Canada.  The opinions expressed above are purely my own.


Friday, February 15, 2013

TIFF presents Books on Film


TIFF is pleased to announce the third season of its Books on Film series, a popular subscription series that brings together book and film lovers to immerse themselves in the world of book-to-screen adaptation.  Hosted by Eleanor Wachtel of CBC's Writers and Company, and presented in association with Random House of Canada, the series gather filmmakers, authors, and experts to discuss the art of adapting a book to screen.  All events take place at the TIFF Bell Lightbox stage in Toronto.

The series includes:

New Yorker theatre critic and acclaimed author Hilton Als on The Innocents, the 1961 adaptation of The Turn of the Screw by Henry James  (February 11)

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Russo on Robert Benton's adaptation of his acclaimed novel Nobody's Fool (March 4)

Film and music producer Lisa Cortés on adapting the novel Push by Sapphire into the award-winning film Precious (April 8)

Award-winning screenwriter and playwright Christopher Hampton on his adaptation of Atonement, nominated for an Academy Award (May 6)

Filmmaker Ted Kotcheff on his adaptation of The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (June 3)

Celebrated filmmaker Deepa Mehta on her adaptation of Salman Rushdie's Pulitzer Prize winning novel Midnight's Children (June 24)

Each event includes a screening followed by discussion.  Subscriptions to the series are available for $153 for TIFF Members or $180 for non-members (prices include tax.)

About TIFF
TIFF is a charitable cultural organization whose mission is to transform the way people see the world through film.  An international leader in film culture, TIFF projects include the annual Toronto International Film Festival in September; TIFF Bell Lightbox, which features five cinemas, major exhibitions, and learning and entertainment facilities; and innovative national distribution program FIlm Circuit.  The organization generates an annual economic impact of $170 million CAD.  TIFF Bell Lightbox is generously supported by contributors including Founding Sponsor Bell, the Province of Ontario, the Government of Canada, the City of Toronto, the Reitman family (Ivan Reitman, Agi Mandel and Susan Michaels), The Daniels Corporations, and RBC.  For more information, visit tiff.net.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

"The Last Runaway" by Tracy Chevalier


After her fiancé leaves her and the Quaker community for another woman, Honor Bright makes an impulsive decision to leave England behind and travel to America with her sister who is due to be married.   But when she arrives in the new land, tragedy strikes and Honor finds herself all alone, forced to rely on the kindness of strangers.  

Her new life is difficult and daunting, and very quickly she discovers that she is in the midst of a movement that will change the face of America.  The town in Ohio that Honor has made her home is a stop on the Underground Railroad and Honor is quickly drawn into its activities.  But her new family makes it clear to her that she should have no part in it.   Honor is torn between the wishes of her new family and her Quaker principles that she holds so dear.  Will she listen to her family, or will she follow her heart no matter what the costs?

The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier is a historical fiction novel that takes on an important part of American history and puts a face to the men and women who worked tirelessly to change the fabric of society.

There is so much to learn from this book.  It was really interesting to learn more about the Quakers and their communities in the 19th century.  Chevalier takes readers inside their homes, meetings, and hearts to give readers a full picture of their beliefs and how they made a home for themselves in America.  I found all of this fascinating.  I wish, however, I could say the same for the detail about the Underground Railroad.

When I picked up this book I thought it would focus mainly on this and other efforts to put an end to slavery.  For me, it felt more like a backdrop to the story.  It wasn't explained in depth and the runaway slaves served more as background characters to Honor's thoughts and actions.  And Honor had very little to do with the activities of the Underground Railroad  In this capacity, I was hoping for a lot more.

Chevalier is a skilled historical fiction novel writer, as evidenced here and in previous works such as Girl With a Pearl Earring.  This book is well-researched, and this is shown especially in the discussion and depiction of quilting.  I had no idea quilts were such an important part of Quaker culture nor did I realize you could write so much about quilting (it did become a little too much for me.)  I was impressed at the way her writing painted such a beautiful picture of the surroundings and the time period for me as I read.

While I wasn't completely enamoured with the way the subject of the book was handled, there were some characters in here who I thought were wonderful, even if they aren't very likeable.  Belle Mills, Honor's outspoken friend, is a firecracker and I enjoyed her part in the book.  I liked the way the slave catcher Donovan's softer side showed through a bit when Honor was around.  And I also came to like Honor's sister-in-law once she opened up to Honor.  

For me, it the characters that made up for what I felt was lacking and kept me reading right to the end.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Classics Club Spin


Back in September I signed up to join The Classics Club.  This involves reading 50 pre-chosen by me Classic books in the next five years.  So far, I'm doing well, I've already read five.  And now it's time to check another one off the list.

It is time for the Classics Spin.  I choose 20 books from my list and on Monday, February 18, the great people at the Club will post a number between 1 and 20.  I then read whichever book on my list falls under that number by the end of March.  Sounds easy right?  Guess it depends on which book it lands on.   The challenge is to choose books from specific categories.  So here's my Spin List.

Five books I am dreading/hesitant to read
1. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
2. Candide - Voltaire
3. Pamela - Samuel Robertson
4. Everything is Illuminated - Jonathan Safran Foer
5. The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver

Five books I can't wait to read
6. White Teeth - Zadie Smith
7. Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe
8. The Time Machine - H.G. Wells
9. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
10. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

Five books I am neutral about
11. Beloved - Toni Morrison
12. The House of the Spirits - Isabel Allende
13. 2001: A Space Odyssey - Arthur C. Clarke
14. Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen
15. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie

Five free choice books
16. The Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood
17. Alias Grace - Margaret Atwood
18. The Robber Bride - Margaret Atwood
19. Cat's Eye - Margaret Atwood
20. Surfacing - Margaret Atwood

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

"The Road of Lost Innocence" by Somaly Mam


Between 1975 and 1979, Cambodia was ruled by the Khmer Rouge party, led by Pol Pot.  The Khmer Rouge is now known mainly for its policies that resulted in widespread famine, disease, and genocide.  Two million people were forced out of the cities and into the countryside to work in the agricultural sector.  Citizens were controlled in every aspect of their lives.  Intellectuals and minorities were killed in high numbers.  Children were separated from their parents, indoctrinated, and taught to fight.  Anyone considered an enemy was arrested, tortured and executed.  Various investigations put the death toll of the Khmer Rouge era anywhere between 1.7 million and 3 million people.  Its four years of power has left a legacy of poverty and violence that still permeates life in Cambodia today.

A few years before the Khmer Rouge came to power, Somaly Mam was born into a minority family living deep in the Cambodian forest.  Orphaned at a young age, she was taken in by a man whom she called grandfather (a term of respect for the elderly, not her actual grandfather) and who promised to help her find her family.  Instead she was forced to be his indentured servant until he sold her to a brothel at the age of 14 in order to pay off his debts.

After a few years working in the brothel, forced to have sex with multiple men a day and beaten and tortured when she would not, she was forced to marry a man who was a part of the Khmer Rouge.  After a short time, she left him and went back into prostitution.  As she struggled to find a way out, she met a man who worked on foreign aid projects.  Though their relationship initially had to do with her prostitution, he was able to lead her out of the trade.  She later met a Frenchman she would marry and move to France with.

Life in France was difficult for Somaly and they soon moved back to Cambodia where her husbands aid projects gave her the opportunity to begin helping women who were in the same situation she had been in.  She began by distributing condoms and soap, then helped them get medical attention, and moved on to rescuing and removing women from brothels.  In 2007 she created the Somaly Mam Foundation which is dedicated to fighting sexual slavery and human trafficking around the world.

The Road of Lost Innocence is Somaly's story.  I know it seems as though I've shared most of it in the paragraphs above, but that is only a small introduction to the extraordinary life she has lived.  Many women who have shared her story are not able to tell it today and Somaly Mam has given her entire life to making sure this changes.

This is a short book but a difficult one to read.  Over the two day period I read it I was constantly bombarding my husband with statistics about sexual slavery.  He'd see me put down my book and know that something was coming that would be difficult to hear.  

It's very easy for those of us in North America to think of sexual slavery as an "over there" problem.  But the trafficking of women comes on to our shores each and every day.  Women are being moved around the world at every moment of the day for the purpose of sexual exploitation.  And it's not just women, young girls are being bought and sold, their virginities getting a higher price.  Just because we don't see it, doesn't mean it's not there.  There are people around the world who are quietly fighting these injustices.  Many women are scared or ashamed to speak up about what has happened to them but Somaly Mam is not one of them.  This is one of the most important books you will read.

Monday, February 11, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

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

Last week was a very interesting one here.  Friday was a snow day as we got hit by a storm that left us with 26cm of snow in less than a day.  The entire family was home and while I had hoped to spend the day reading, I instead spent it watching movies and playing video games with the kids.  And watching snowplows get stuck in the snow.  So of course, once the storm stopped we spent a lot of time outside sledding and playing.

On Saturday, I had the great fortune of attending Random House of Canada's Blogger Love event.  It was a great get together of a group of book bloggers complete with food, great books and lively discussion.  The event was graced with the presence of author Andrew Kaufman who spoke about and signed copies of his latest book Born Weird.  He also shared with us what he's working on now and it sounds amazing.  It was a fantastic day so a big shout out to the ladies of the Random House of Canada Online Marketing crew.

Now on to books...

What I Read Last Week
Yep, just one book.  I did start two others but this is the only one I had enough time to finish.  And I probably only finished it because it was already a few days overdue at the library.  Whatever the reason, last week I read The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier.

What I'm Reading Now
I started The Air We Breathe by Christa Parrish last week.  It's a good book but taking me longer than I expected.  I also started reading The Dinner by Herman Koch and I hate that I have to keep putting it down to go to sleep.  I've been hearing great things about and how it keeps pulling you in as you read and it's doing just that to me.

What I Plan to Read Next

The Scottish Banker of Surabaya by Ian Hamilton and A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park were the two books I had planned to read last week.  We have a long weekend this week with a PA Day on Friday and a holiday on Monday and nothing planned so I'm fairly certain I'll be able to get to them this week.

What are you reading this week?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

"What I Did On My Holidays" by Chrissie Manby


Working in public relations for an elevator company isn't the most glamorous job.  That's why Sophie Sturgeon can't wait for her holiday.  She has planned a two week trip to Majorca with her boyfriend Callum, who also happens to be the hottest guy at her office.  She has spent months preparing for this trip and nothing is going to ruin it.  Well, there's one thing that could ruin it…

The night before the trip Callum calls Sophie to tell her that the relationship is over and he won't be going on holiday with her.   Devastated and desperate to change his mind, Sophie says she is going to go to Majorca on her own.  But in reality, Sophie is hiding in her flat in London.  The plan seems like a great idea until her friends, family and Callum delight in the fact that Sophie is brave enough to go on vacation on her own.  And so, Sophie must recreate the ultimate fake holiday, all from the comfort of her own home.

The plan is working great and Sophie can't believe she is getting away with it.  But Callum can't take it and decides that he is going to join Sophie in Majorca after all.  What is a girl to do?

What I Did on My Holidays is another delightful chick lit novel from Chrissie Manby.  It has everything one looks for in this type of novel - a loveable heroine, hilarious antics, and a feel-good romantic situation.  

This is the third book I have read written by Chrissie Manby and it is safe to say she has become one of my favourite chick lit authors.  Her books are well written, funny and hit the spot when you're looking for a light, engaging read.  

The premise of this one hooked me right away.  With everything we could ever need at our fingertips, of course it would be easy to fake a vacation.   But there are some things we just can't plan for when taking a fake break, like someone else wanting to join you or your picture showing up in the paper while you're supposedly out of the country!  But Sophie and her sister Clare handle it all in stride and go to incredible lengths to keep the real world from intruding on their holidays.  

This would be the perfect beach read for anyone already on vacation or for someone who finds themselves in desperate need of a little time away!

Monday, February 4, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

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

Last week, we had a little problem with our new internet connection and it involved us going for 2.5 days without any internet.  I managed to hold up pretty well, it gave me a lot more time to read.  My husband didn't do so well though ;)  We're definitely glad to have it back though, just in time for a new week of blogging!

What I Read Last Week

What I Did On My Holidays by Chrissie Manby is a fun chick lit novel.  I think Manby may be one of new favourite chick lit authors.  With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin is a Christian fiction novel set in WWII.  The Road of Lost Innocence by Somaly Mam is the true story of a young woman sold into prostitution in Cambodia and the efforts she is making to save others from it.  

What I'm Reading Now
The Air We Breathe by Christa Parrish is a Christian fiction novel about a teenage girl who suffers from anxiety and can't leave her home.  The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier is a historical novel about the Underground Railroad.

What I Plan to Read Next
The Scottish Banker of Surabaya by Ian Hamilton is a mystery novel involving money laundering and the Italian mob.  It's the fifth in a series that I haven't read any of, but it seems like that's not going to be an issue.  A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park is based on the true story of a young man and woman in Sudan, affected by the war that is going on around them.

What are you reading this week?