Friday, January 31, 2014

Month In Review

January was a good month.  It was freezing cold outside most of the month so I guess I just stayed inside with some good books to keep me company.  Here is what I read (stars are my Goodreads rating)

Perfect - Rachel Joyce ****
Bonkers - Jennifer Saunders ****
When I Fall in Love - Miranda Dickinson ****
The Dancing Master - Julie Klassen ****
The Embassy of Cambodia - Zadie Smith ****
Prayers for Boys - Brooke McGlothlin ****
All the Broken Things - Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer ****
Candide - Voltaire ****
The Secret Keeper - Beverly Lewis ***


TBR Pile Challenge (2), Diversity on the Shelf (1), Classics Club (1), Canadian Book Challenge (1)

A Look Ahead

Here are a few of the books I'm looking forward to reading in February

Thursday, January 30, 2014

"Bonkers: My Life in Laughs" by Jennifer Saunders

When I was in university (all those years ago) I discovered what would become one of my all-time favourite television shows.  It had everything I looked for in a show - wild characters, tons of laughs, and British accents.  That show was Absolutely Fabulous.  This led me to discover the fabulous French and Saunders and from there my love of British comedy television just exploded.  

A few years ago I read Dawn French’s autobiography Dear Fatty so I was thrilled when I heard that Jennifer Saunders would be publishing her own as well.  These are two of the funniest women I have ever seen on television so I knew that their books would be as well.

Bonkers: My Life in Laughs is the story of Jennifer’s life.  From her childhood on Royal Air Force bases to worldwide fame as an incredible comedienne she covers it all.  From her early school days when she met Dawn French, through her time with the Comic Strip and on to television and film success, she shares the ups and downs of being a female comic in a time when women weren’t getting attention for their comedy chops.  It’s a great behind the scenes look at what it took to make some of our favourite comedies.  The parts where she discusses Ab Fab were absolutely amazing for a huge fan like myself.  However, if you’re a fan of some of her other work you may not find that it gets as much attention.  

Jennifer Saunders is a private person and has been fortunate enough to have her life remain that way when it comes to the press, so it’s great that she has let her fans in through this book.  Especially poignant is the section where she discusses her three year battle with breast cancer.  She speaks of this time with warmth and humour but enough respect for the journey that people go through when experiencing it.  This section was very real and very personal.

This isn’t a straight forward autobiography nor does it cover her entire life, or even certain parts of her life in depth.  I like how she struck the balance between sharing what we want to know and should know.   I also loved the way she would go off on tangents or the story would head off in a different direction, eventually coming back to where she started.  This made the book feel like a conversation with Jennifer rather than reading what she put on paper.

Just like she is on television, Jennifer Saunders is laugh out loud funny in this book.  If you’ve ever enjoyed anything she has ever done, then you’ll enjoy reading this book.  And if you’re not familiar with her work I highly recommend you go check her out - right now would be best.  I recommend starting with Absolutely Fabulous sweetie darling.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday - February Release

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Here is the book that I am most looking forward to in February:

The Bear by Claire Cameron

A powerfully suspenseful story narrated by a young girl who must fend for herself and her little brother after a brutal bear attack.

While camping with her family on a remote island, five-year-old Anna awakes in the night to the sound of her mother screaming. A rogue black bear, 300 pounds of fury, is attacking the family's campsite, pouncing on her parents as prey.

At her dying mother's faint urging, Anna manages to get her brother into the family's canoe and paddle away. But when the canoe dumps the two children on the edge of the woods, and the sister and brother must battle hunger, the elements, and a dangerous wilderness, we see Anna's heartbreaking love for her family--and her struggle to be brave when nothing in her world seems safe anymore.

Told in the honest, raw voice of five-year-old Anna, this is a riveting story of love, courage, and survival.

I've read a few reviews of this in Canadian newspapers and I'm really looking forward to it.  Lindsey at Random House of Canada says it packs a powerful punch and she always knows just what books I will like so I trust her on that one.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"When I Fall In Love" by Miranda Dickinson

Elsie Maynard is starting a new chapter in her life, something she never thought she’d have to do.  The ice cream shop assistant manager is ready to date again after the love of her life, her husband Lucas, was taken from her by cancer.  With her three sisters, her father, and her co-worker by her side, she thinks she is ready to try and love again.

With handsome graphic designer Olly Hogarth wanting to win her heart, it doesn’t seem like it will be so difficult.  But after accidentally starting a choir with 80’s rock star Woody Jensen, she finds herself taking on a challenge she never wanted to face - heading to Paris, the one thing she and Lucas had wanted to do together, but never got the chance.  Throw in the frustrating and annoying Torin Stewart who seems to pop up everywhere to get on her nerves, and Elsie is wondering if taking this step was worth it.  Will Elsie be able to move forward or will it be easier to stay in the past?

When I Fall in Love by Miranda Dickinson is a sweet, heart-warming story that asks “what do you do when your happy ever after is taken away from you?”  It is a wonderful book with moments of laughs and tears, happiness and heartache.  

This is the first book of Dickinson’s that I have read and I absolutely loved it.  The character of Elsie is instantly loveable as is her entire family.  The ice cream shop setting makes it one of those books you just want to physically escape into and the storyline of the choir makes for a unique plot.  The sadness of Elsie’s story is so beautifully written that you are taken by it emotionally but you feel like you are taking every new step along with Elsie and discovering a new way of life with her.  

This is one of those books that will you have wishing these people and places really existed.  It is so easy to get wrapped up in it all and just keep turning the pages.  Right up to the end you’ll be wondering just what Elsie will decide to do.  I love how all of the characters worked into the story, felt like they had a place, and contributed to the development of the storyline.

Don’t let the cover fool you, this isn’t a Christmas story.  The cover does however convey the magic and wonder of this book.  As I mentioned this is the first book of Dickinson’s I have read and I now plan to pick up her other books whenever I see them.  

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sunday Headlines

A few stories that caught my eye this week:

*Beloved children's book author Robert Munsch opens up about his personal life.  It's nice to understand the man behind the books we all loved (and still love - I'm looking at you "I Have to Go!")

*It's a cold one out there this winter, so the Globe and Mail has some good winter reads to keep you warm.

*In an act of bookish awesomeness and all-around Canadian coolness, Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro had a Google Hangout.

*The book I'm looking forward to in February is Claire Cameron's The Bear and here is why.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Two Classic Novels - "Candide" and "The Great Gatsby"

Candide has been brought up in the home of a powerful Baron, given a life of privilege and learning under his wonderful tutor Pangloss.  But when it is discovered that he loves the Baron's daughter, he is removed from the household and forced to make his way in the world on his own.  He sets off on a journey that takes him around the world - through Europe, South America, and Asia - as a series of disastrous events befall him and his travelling companions.  Through all this, the optimism his tutor instilled him is put to the test.

I’ll admit, I chose Voltaire’s Candide because of it’s length.  When I think Classics, I think long books.  But this one comes in just under 100 pages.  And as I neared that mark I found myself wishing it would go on longer.  Who would have thought you could enjoy reading about misfortune!  Whether you are reading this book because you want the satire and the parody of optimism, or you just want to enjoy the adventure, Candide is an excellent choice of a Classic read.

Jay Gatsby is a self-made millionaire.  Starting out as an impoverished officer, when he returns from serving overseas he devotes himself to reclaiming the love of legendary beauty Daisy, who married the extremely rich Tom Buchanan while he was gone.  In doing this, he also devotes himself to the pursuit of wealth by whatever means necessary.  And so he throws lavish parties at his mansion, waiting for his opportunity to steal Daisy away.  But just as he grabs hold of what he’s been pursuing, it all comes crashing down.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of those books that I’ve heard so much about but never actually knew what it was about.  Trailers for the recent movie version let me know that it was about a very rich man who threw very popular parties.  I’m glad I’ve read the book now.  I love the theme of illusion, characters like Gatsby who present themselves as one thing though you know something else lies beneath fascinate me both in books and in real life.   I must admit, this one took me by surprise. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday Headlines

A few stories that caught my eye this week:

*Another Toronto bookstore is closing.  Is this to be expected?

*Maybe we should do like the French and put some limits on online booksellers?

*It's been announced that the ending of the film Gone Girl will be different from the book.  Here are five other movies whose endings were different from the book.

*With the release of his new book Radiance of Tomorrow Ishmael Beah shares his most important writing influences.

*Apparently there is an algorithm that can predict the success of a book.  Hint - it's all in the verbs.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Favourite Reviews of the Week

This week I read quite a few reviews of books I want to read that weren't quite huge hits with the reviewers.  But there was one book that was released this week that made such an impression on me and has seemed to make the same impression on other readers.  Here is what people are saying about All The Broken Things by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer:

Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer powerfully combines enchantment, wonder, reality and melancholy in this beautiful spellbinding story of Bo and Bear. - Sukasa Reads

Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer is ringmaster and dancing bear, orchestrator and performer. All the Broken Things is enchanting and painfully real, truth dressed in a charade. - Buried in Print

This is a fantastic novel and if this is any indication of what CanLit has to offering 2014, it’s going to be a great year. - Me

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

"All the Broken Things" by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer

It is 1983 and fourteen-year-old Bo has arrived in Canada with his mother Thao and his four-year-old sister.  Bo and his family are refugees from Vietnam and his sister is nicknamed Orange for the severe and disfiguring effects she has received from being exposed to  Agent Orange in utero.  As they try to adjust to a new country, Thao keeps Orange hidden away while Bo spends his days getting into fights at school and on the street.

One day, while fighting a boy at school, Bo is approached by a carnival worker and bear trainer, Gerry.  Gerry wants to recruit Bo for the bear wrestling circuit and to do so, he gives Bo his own bear cub to train.  But Gerry’s boss Max has hopes of putting Orange in his travelling freak show and this doesn’t sit well with Bo.  When Bo awakes one morning to find that his mother has left with Orange and isn’t coming back, Bo and the cub are left to fend for themselves.

All the Broken Things by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer is an incredible story about love, acceptance, and the differences that both separate and connect us.  Based in the real world of the Ontario bear wrestling circuit of the 1980’s and haunted by the fact that Agent Orange was also produced right here in Ontario, this novel takes on heavy themes that are so beautifully written.

This novel was passed on to me with the note that it is a heartbreaking read and is it ever.  But beneath the sadness lies the extraordinary heart and soul of a young man.  The relationship he has with his sister is beautiful and the way he cares for and protects her is incredible.  There is such a tenderness in his care that jumps off the page at the reader.  The other thing that is striking are the competing emotions of love and hate  that are felt by Thao toward little Orange, who through no fault of her own is a reminder of the past.  And this escalates into a mixture of those same emotions that Bo feels toward his mother.  What moved me most was this part:

His mother's face flickered with emotion when she handed Sister over: disgust and misery hidden behind stoicism.  Pity mixed in there too, which he could stand even less than disgust.  At least disgust did not pretend to righteousness.  Orange had come out of her body.  It was this creation that formed her disgust, he knew.  If it had been someone else's child, his mother might have had more compassion.  As it was, she simply hated herself for making this.  And he hated her for it too, a hate mixed with love. (p.106)

What I love most about this book is how Kuitenbrouwer combines two things you expect to be so far removed from each other - bear wrestling and Agent Orange - and blends them together into an incredibly touching story.  This is a fantastic novel and if this is any indication of what CanLit has to offering 2014, it’s going to be a great year.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher.  The opinions expressed above are all my own.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sunday Stories

A few of my favourite stories from the week

*The National Post released it's 25 most anticipated Canadian books of 2014.  So many good books on this list, it's going to be a great year for CanLit once again.

*American writer Gary Shteyngart slammed Canadian writers for not taking risks in an interview with  He says he was joking, but do Canadians believe him?

*Harper's Bazaar calls Season to Taste, Or How To Eat Your Husband by Natalie Young a must-read for 2014.  The title and subject is a little off-putting, and yet I'm curious.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Favourite Reviews of the Week

Very British Problems: Making Life Awkward For Ourselves, One Rainy Day at a Time by Rob Temple

From Book Addicted Blonde: In a nutshell:  This is basically the book version of the hilarious Twitter account of the same name.  I've been following it for a while, spent one glorious afternoon this autumn crying with laughter reading great chunks of the feed, and then sent it to my mum who did the same.  So when I saw the book, I couldn't not buy it!

I just finished reading Stats Canada and this book sounds very similar - compiled from a Twitter feed poking fun at its own people.  Considering Canadians have a lot of the same quirks as Brits, this book sounds like a lot of fun.

 You Are One of Them by Elliott Holt

From S. Krishna's BooksThis book is certainly a short, quick read, but it’s one that will make you think. You Are One of Them has excellent settings, in terms of both time and place, and it’s fascinating to watch Holt fill out her surroundings. The book is a gorgeous coming of age story, full of childhood innocence, while simultaneously being a gritty novel about the hard and fast realities of life. It’s incredibly difficult for a book to convincingly do both of these things at once, yet Holt excels at it.

From when I first saw this book last year, I thought it looked interesting but just wasn't sure that I needed to read it.  After reading this review, I'm definitely putting it on my to read list.

From Books Speak VolumesFor Today I Am a Boy is a fantastic portrait of a transgender boy growing up in a small Canadian town. Although his father is keen to assimilate into Western culture, his mother has trouble letting go of her “superstitious” beliefs and customs. Peter’s sisters, Adele, Helen, and Bonnie are vibrant characters in their own rights, and I loved reading about their relationships with each other and with Peter.

This is a book that is on my must read list for 2014.  I'm just waiting for its release date on January 14.  It sounds like a wonderfully written book and this review explains the book excellently.  

Friday, January 10, 2014

"Stats Canada: Satire on a National Scale" from @stats_canada

67% of Canadians own summer snow pants.

79% of Canadian teens don’t want to wear their winter coat, it’s not even that cold out.

65% of Canadian Instagram accounts include an artsy photo of a Tim Hortons cup.

Canadians are an interesting, unique bunch.  One thing that makes us so loveable is our ability to laugh at every one of our quirks.  And @stats_canada has proven that.  Since July 2012, Stats Canada (not affiliated with the official Statistics Canada) has been providing daily doses of Canadian humour on everything from our history and culture to sports, entertainment, politics, and weather to over 235,000 followers. 

Now, their successful Twitter feed has been put into one great book, Stats Canada: Satire on a National Scale.  It comes complete with graphs, maps, and illustrations and is organized by topic.  While it’s most likely supposed to be enjoyed bit by bit, tweet by tweet, you’ll find yourself breezing through it, laughing at every page.

I think this book should be mandatory reading for all Canadians.  It should be required reading in schools and would probably help newcomers understand the culture much more than any other books.  Ok, that might be a little much but this is definitely a funny book that will have you laughing from cover to cover.  And you don’t have to be Canadian to get the humour, anyone from a cold climate will find that we have a lot in common!

There isn’t too much to say about this book.  Give the Twitter account a look and see if it’s for you.  With statistics such as “the word ‘sorry’ appears 114 times in Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” chances are you’ll be wanting to read the entire collection.  My only question at the end of the book is: what have they got against New Brunswick? 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

"Anchorboy" by Jay Onrait

Jay Onrait doesn’t know it, but he holds a special place in my heart.  It was February 2010 and the Olympics were taking place in Vancouver.  On the other side of the country, my 6 month old son had decided that 5 am was an appropriate time to wake up and I, being the night owl that I am, wasn’t too happy about it.  So after getting him settled, I would make coffee and find my spot on the couch, blurry eyed and not impressed.

But at 5 am, the only thing on television for people who don’t have cable was Olympic coverage from a city where it was hours earlier.  So basically it was a bunch of highlights of stuff I had already watched and some second-rate newscaster trying to fill the time.  And that second-rate newscaster was Jay Onrait.  For two weeks, he kept me entertained and had me laughing and took my mind off the fact that the sun wasn’t going to rise for another few hours.   In other words, he kept me sane.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure if Jay was actually funny or if I found him funny because I was just so tired.  But now that I have read Jay's book Anchorboy: True Tales from the World of Sportscasting, I can say for certain that it wasn’t the sleep deprivation.  He is actually a very funny guy (I’m sure loyal viewers of SportsCentre will be asking where I’ve been the past few years, but again, no cable.)

Anchorboy is a hilarious look at Jay’s life thus far, from growing up in small-town Alberta to making his way into the television industry, and then onto TSN where he started as an intern and worked his way up to co-hosting SportsCentre.  Along the way he was beaten up by an MMA fighter on tv, was sexually harassed by a senior citizen every day for ten years, and ran around London in a full-body unitard, among many other crazy and hilarious escapades.

This is an easy to read book that will have you laughing out loud and sharing all the really hilarious bits with the people around you.  Jay writes all of his stories with honesty even when they don’t paint him in the best light.  But I think he makes up for those when he shares the work he put into building his career and the respect and appreciation he has for the people who have helped him get to where he is.  You don’t have to be a regular viewer of SportsCentre or even a sports fan to enjoy this book.  

This was one of my favourite books of 2013 because of the laughs from start to finish.  It’s Canadian humour at its best.  Which is why I’m willing to overlook the fact that he’s left us for the United States. I’m just sad I won’t be able to spend any more Olympics with Jay.  

Monday, January 6, 2014

Bout of Books Updates

For this Bout of Books, I picked out 4 books that I wanted to read this week.  They are:

Pages Read: 70, 54%
Books Completed: 2 (The Embassy of Cambodia, Praying For Boys)

Pages Read: 65
Books Completed: 0
Total Pages Read: 135, 54%
Total Books Completed: 2

Nada. Zip. Zilch.

Pages Read: 72
Books Completed: 0
Total Read: 209, 54%
Total Completed: 2

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Bout of Books edition

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

This week is the Bout of Books 9.0 read-a-thon.  It's a week long, low pressure readathon that is tons of fun and that I try to participate in every time it happens.  This is the perfect timing for me as this week is back to school and back to routine.  I had such a good holiday reading-wise so I want to continue that streak into the New Year.

What I Read Last Week
All The Broken Things by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer
Rebellious Heart by Jody Hedlund

What I'm Reading Now
Praying for Boys by Brooke McGlothin

What I Plan to Read for the Read-a-thon
The Embassy of Cambodia by Zadie Smith
The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen
When I Fall in Love by Miranda Dickinson

I think those books will be a good combination for a read-a-thon.  Nothing too long, books that will pull me in right away, authors I know I will like.

What are you reading this week?  Are you participating in Bout of Books?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

"The Rovers Return" by Tim Randall

I am a huge fan of the British soap opera Coronation Street.  I never miss an episode, in fact I’m watching it as I write this.   For over fifty years this show has been on television, making it the longest-running soap in the world.  A few times a week, people all over the world tune into catch up with the happenings of this little street in Manchester.  

Over the years, many wonderful books have been written about this show and a new one takes a look at the very heart of the Street, the local pub.  In The Rovers Return, Tim Randall takes you inside everyone’s favourite public house and shares every memorable moment, from the first day to the present.  From the landladies and barmaids to the relationships and brawls, from the births and deaths to weddings and wakes, this book has it all covered.

The best feature of this book is all of the incredible photos.  No matter how long you have been watching this show, it will transport you back to your best memories of the show.  And if, like me, you haven’t been watching since the beginning, it will give you everything you need to know about what you’ve missed.  There is a reason why this show is so well-loved by all generations and it’s the characters, as evidenced by this book.  

There is nothing that has happened on the Street that hasn’t spilled over into the Rovers and with this book you can reminisce over every moment of the last five decades on the Street.  I’ve only been watching for 12 years and it was amazing how much I have forgotten over the years that I was reminded of while reading this book.  Of course, my favourite part is all the bust-ups over the years.  It wouldn’t be the Rovers Return if there weren’t some punches being thrown from time to time!  

This book is a must-read for any Coronation Street fan.  Life-long watchers will enjoy going over the best moments and new to the Street fans will find it to be a treasure of moments and memories to get you all caught up.  Written with the support of ITV and the Coronation Street cast and crew, this is the book all Corrie fans need to read.

Friday, January 3, 2014

"Kicking the Sky" by Anthony De Sa

On a summer day in Toronto, 1977, a young shoe shine boy named Emanuel Jaques was lured away from his friends with the promise of making easy money.  Four days later, his body was discovered, Emanuel having been brutally raped and murdered.  It was the murder that changed Toronto the Good forever, and especially the city’s Portuguese community.

Antonio Rebelo was a twelve year old boy without a care in the world when this murder happened.  He spent his days on his bike exploring the laneways and streets of the city with his best friends Manny and Ricky.  But everything changed that summer and the boys discovered a deeper, grittier side to the city, an adult world of crime, secrets, cruelty, and danger.

Kicking the Sky by Anthony De Sa is a fictional work driven by the real life event of the murder of Emanuel Jaques.  It takes you back in time to when Toronto’s famed Yonge Street was surrounded by strip clubs, bars, and body rub parlours.  And it introduces you to a community full of hardworking people who were struggling to attain their immigrant dreams but watching them slip away.

While the book focuses on Antonio’s point of view, there are so many characters in this book to become attached to.  There are Antonio’s parents, working hard to provide for their family, his aunt who works for the newspaper and is writing about the murder, his friends who find themselves pulled into the seedy happenings of the city, the mysterious man who arrived in the neighbourhood after the murder, plus many more.  This book is so full of people and their stories, their burdens and dreams, and that is what makes this a wonderful read.

I was born a few years after this event so I didn’t know much about it or what my city was like at the time.  We know that cities have a darker side to them but when those parts collide with the good, we all feel thrown into a world we don’t completely understand.  These are things that continually happen around us, especially in big cities.  And De Sa captures that feeling, the turmoil that people of all ages and walks of life feel when the dark side invades the good.  He captures the emotions that led the Portuguese community and the rest of Toronto to demand the city clean up its act, the real-life legacy of the young boy’s murder.

When I picked up this book, I didn’t realize that it is a continuation of De Sa’s first novel, Barnacle Love or that it overlaps with that novel.  It doesn’t matter though, the book definitely stands alone.  But I do look forward to going back and reading the other book.  I’m pleased to have discovered De Sa and his writing.  This is an incredible coming of age story set against a tragic backdrop.

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

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Two Upcoming Readathons

What better way to start of the year than with a readathon?  Here are two that I am signing up for.

Happening on January 4th, starting at 8am EST, this is a 24 hour readathon to help Classics Club members make progress on their lists.  I'm planning on using this readathon to read Native Son by Richard Wright.  

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 6th and runs through Sunday, January 12th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 9.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team.

I've been able to read so many books over the Christmas holiday so this is the perfect readathon to help me continue that trend once it's back to regular life.

Will you be participating in any of these readathons?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

First Book of the Year

First Book of the Year 2014 is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

It's that time of year.  The first of January, when our yearly reading counts are turned back to 0 and the promise and excitement of new books is high.  This year, Sheila from Book Journey is asking us to share what our first book of the year is.  Here is mine:

September, 1983. Fourteen-year-old Bo, a boat person from Vietnam, lives in a small house in the Junction neighbourhood of Toronto with his mother, Thao, and his four-year-old sister, who was born severely disfigured from the effects of Agent Orange. Named Orange, she is the family secret; Thao keeps her hidden away, and when Bo's not at school or getting into fights on the street, he cares for her.
One day a carnival worker and bear trainer, Gerry, sees Bo in a streetfight, and recruits him for the bear wrestling circuit, eventually giving him his own cub to train. This opens up a new world for Bo--but then Gerry's boss, Max, begins pursuing Thao with an eye on Orange for his travelling freak show. When Bo wakes up one night to find the house empty, he knows he and his cub, Bear, are truly alone. Together they set off on an extraordinary journey through the streets of Toronto and High Park. Awake at night, boy and bear form a unique and powerful bond. When Bo emerges from the park to search for his sister, he discovers a new way of seeing Orange, himself and the world around them.

This book was recommended to me by Lindsey at Random House Canada and I can't think of a better book to start the year with!

What is your first book of the year?

A Look Ahead at 2014

Happy New Year!!!

I trust that you all are recovering from the late night last night, whether you were out at a party or curled up at home with a good book ringing in the new year (like me!)  Today I'll be welcoming in 2014 at my in laws with some good Jamaican food, which I think is a great way to start the year.  Here's a look ahead at what I hope will be another excellent year in reading.

After last year, I probably should have realized that signing up for challenges isn't for me.  But there's something about signing up for them that I can't resist.  So this year, in addition to continuing the only challenge I ever complete (The Canadian Book Challenge), I'm signing up for 2 that I think will actually be achievable:

The Mount TBR Challenge hosted by Roof Beam Reader

For this challenge, you read 12 books that have been sitting on your shelf or TBR list for over a year. Any book published in 2012 and earlier counts.  I definitely need this challenge, I think I have more books on my shelf that haven't been read than have been!  Check out my master list here.

Diversity on the Shelf Challenge hosted by My Little Pocketbooks

This challenge aims to increase diversity in what you read by encouraging you to read books by authors of colour or that include main characters of colour.  I have chosen to go for the level of 5th Shelf and read 25+ books for this challenge.  Looking back at the books I read, I don't think that this will be difficult for me but it's important for me to sign up for the challenge to encourage diversity in the publishing industry.

The Blog
I love my little piece of the internet and I'm very happy with how things are going.  But this year I want to work on expanding my use of social media.  I'm around, but I haven't been very active and I want to work on that and participate in challenges and get-togethers there this year.  So be sure to check me out on Twitter and Instagram.

Books I'm Looking Forward To:
Here are just a few of the books I'm excited to read in 2014.

What I'm Looking Forward Non-Reading-wise in 2014

Go Oranje!

What are you looking forward to in 2014?