Monday, 29 August 2011

E-Readers on a Plane

If you have consulted the "Currently Reading" tab on the home page, you would see that I am now reading 3 different books. I normally have more than one being read at a time, but I had to start a new book today for a specific reading: I had to fly. Now, I loooove my Kobo, love, love, love it. I like being able to have more than one book on the go at a time, without having to bring more than one thing with me. It's also great for vacation, as I normally read about 4 in a week when not working. However, it sucks for flying, especially on short flights. You can't have your electronic devices on while taking off or landing, and since I flew to Deer Lake, NL from St. John's, NL that is about half the flight. So, of course I had to start a new book!

As well, I am out of town for the rest of this work week. I will try to keep posting everyday, but may get a bit too busy! Do not fret, I'll be back!!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

Summary: When Alice tumbles down a rabbit hole one hot summer’s afternoon in pursuit of a White Rabbit, she finds herself in Wonderland. And here begin the fantastical adventures that will see her experiencing extraordinary changes in size, swimming in a pool of her own tears and attending the very maddest of tea parties.

Alice journeys through this Wonderland, trying to fathom the meaning of her strange experiences. But they turn out to be “curiouser and curiouser,” seemingly without moral or sense.

Why I Read This Book: When I was deciding on which e-reader I would like to have, I went for the Kobo as it came loaded with 100 classic books. Not being one to normally go for the classics when picking out a new book to read, I thought that having them available to me in that way may broaden scope. For that reason I decided to read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Review: For some reason I didn't expect this book to be such an easy read. Most classic books have very different language from what we are used to today, and I have to be very alert when reading to make sure I can follow what's going on. With Alice I didn't have trouble with the language being used, but I still didn't have a clue what was going on most of the time. I found myself using my memory of the Disney movie to be able to relate to what was happening in the book. In addition to that, the book does not contain Tweedledee and Tweedledum as the movie did, which I found strange. Overall I didn't think it was a bad book, but if Disney had not already interpreted it for me, chances are I wouldn't have been able to follow a lot of the story, as it just didn't make any sense at all! This is supposed to be a childrens' book, but I can't see me having passed the first chapter if I had picked up this book when I was a child.


Saturday, 27 August 2011

The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown

Back of the Book Synopsis: While in Paris on business, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon receives an urgent late-night phone call. The elderly curator of the Louvre has been murdered inside the museum, a baffling cipher found near the body. As Langdon and a gifted French cryptologist, Sophie Neveu, sort through the bizarre riddles, they are stunned to discover a trail of clues hidden in the works of Da Vinci - clues visible for all to see and yet ingeniously disguised by the painter.
The stakes are raised when Langdon uncovers a startling link: The late curator was involved in The Priory of Sion - an actual secret society whose members include Sir Issac Newton, Botticelli, Victor Hugo, and Da Vinci, among others. Langdon suspects they are on the hunt for a breathtaking historical secret, one that has proven through the centuries to be as enlightening as it is dangerous. In a frantic race through Paris, and beyond, Langdon and Neveu find themselves matching wits with a faceless powerbroker who appears to anticipate their every move. Unless they can decihper the labyrinthine puzzle, the Priory's secret - an explosive ancient truth - will be lost forever.

Why I Read This Book: I got this book as an Easter gift the year after I had traveled to Paris. I asked for it, it was very popular at the times.

Review: I read this book with rose-coloured glasses. Having been back from my trip to Paris less than a year, images of the Louvre and other areas the book discusses were still fresh in my memory. I enjoyed reading this book, however I don't think it was that well written. It was a good read because it was fantastically researched, which is not the same as being well written. There was no real character development, rather it relied heavily on through descriptions of history and places, and the cliffhangers found at the end of almost every chapter. Because of this it was a smart novel, and it easily captivated my attention. It is an easy read, Dan Brown takes topics that are often complicatedly written by other authors and makes it capable to read by the masses. This book does not fall in the genre of books I normally read. I like a good mystery, but I wouldn't necessary classify this as one, it's more of a research paper with characters. As I said in the first lines, I did enjoy this book when I read it, which was in 2004 when I was 18 and just back from a trip to this same location. I believe that heightened the appeal of it for me. If I were to read it today I may not enjoy it quite so much, but still don't think it's a bad book. I'm also not much for strong religious beliefs, so although I recognized and appreciated that it was a 'controversial' book, it really didn't have any impact on me in that sense.


Friday, 26 August 2011

Blog Hop

Hello All,

So I have been an active book blogger for about a week now, and I'm really loving it. Knowing I have made this commitment has made me do more reading (in a good way!). In the evenings instead of sitting in front of the TV until way too late, I have been going to bed early and reading. It's very relaxing and gets me to sleep earlier!

Now, like almost everything in life, blogging is better with friends :) So I have decided to join in the Book Blogger Hop from the Crazy for Books site. I have spent a lot of time lately looking at other peoples blogs, and now I'm ready to have some people come look at mine too! Hope to hear as much feedback as you're willing to give!

Book Blogger Hop

This week's question from Book Blogger Hop is actually not book related, which is funny because it's my first go at it! However, the question is:

“Non-book-related this week!! Do you have pets?”

And my answer is this:

Yes, I do have a pet. I have one dog, his name is Oliver. He was rescued by my boyfriend from a non-profit no-kill center called Heavenly Creatures and he is the most lovely dog ever. He is part Long-Haired Daschound and part German Sheppard. He is about 35-40 pounds, but he doesn't even reach your knees! Adorable!
Here we are snuggling on the couch, because we love each other
I also sort of have 2 cats, but they live at home with my Mom and Dad, as you see I moved away. But I still consider them to be sort of mine, their names are Holly and Noel.

So, here's to hoping that my participation in this Hop will make me some new blog friends! As I love to know about other blogs, and would love to have some more people checking mine out!

The Horn of a Lamb - Robert Sedlack

Back of the Book Synopsis: Meet Fred Pickle. He has a severe brain injury. For the past seven years Fred has lived under the loving guardianship of his uncle Jack on his sheep farm. Fred’s annual creation of a perfect neighbourhood rink is a joyous quasi-religious ritual for him. And his local NHL team means more to him than it would to the average fan; it renews hope and happiness.

So when the team’s owner announces he is moving the team, Fred’s world begins to fall apart. Torn between the law-abiding influence of Uncle Jack and the radical urgings of Badger, an 81-year-old anarchist, Fred must decide whether a plot of vengeance against the owner is a path to independence or oblivion.
The Horn of a Lamb charts an unforgettable year in the life of the incomparable Fred Pickle, a year that begins with the promise of another hockey season, and ends in a way few could have foreseen — especially the lambs. And certainly not the unsuspecting American owner.

Why I Read This Book: I stumbled upon this book in the discount bin at Coles Bookstore. I was there getting a few new books to read over Christmas break from university. I bought this for no particular reason at all except that the synopsis sounded half good, and it was only a few dollars.

Review: This book was a nice read. Based on the way it came into my life, I wasn't expecting a whole lot from it, but it was a nice book. The story line is easy to follow, revealing new information throughout the  course of the story to keep you interested. There was a few surprises in the story, and some unexpected events. There isn't a whole lot else to say about it. I have never heard of the book, or of the author, so it was a complete gamble to read (I sometimes like to do that - how else are you supposed to expand your horizon?) I would read more books by Robert Sedlack, and can definitely say I enjoyed this one.


Thursday, 25 August 2011

My Friend Leonard - James Frey

Back of the Book Synopsis: Leonard is the best friend James Frey has ever had. When James was bent on self-destruction, it was Leonard - high-living, highly charismatic mobster - who saved his life. When James faced tremendous obstacles, both emotional and practical, to putting his life back together, Leonard offered support and his considerable, sometimes unmentionable influence and protection.
So when James is released from a stint in jail only to be rocked by a particularly cruel twist of fate, it's to Leonard that he turns for help. Leonard, of the outsized personality, who greets James as "My Son" at the top of his lungs when he rushes into his life to instruct him in the art of "living boldly." Leonard, who offers James lucrative - if illegal, mysterious, and slightly dangerous - employment when he needs it. Leonard, of the secret deals, of the surprising passions that belie his violent career choice, of fantastic generosity and ferocious loyalty. Leonard, who had more invested in their friendship than James could ever imagine.
Written with all the style and energy that are now hallmarks of Frey's work, My Friend Leonard showcases a brilliantly talented young writer rising to important new challenges - displaying surprising warmth, humor, and maturity without losing his intensity. My Friend Leonard is, at its core, about the responsibility that comes with loving someone and going out on any number of limbs to care for them. And it is a book that proves that one of the most provocative literary voices of his generation is also one of the most emphatically human.

Why I Read This Book: As you probably know, James Frey also wrote the book 'A Million Little Pieces' which Oprah raved about. I read that book, and enjoyed it. Then a whole bunch of awful was found out, and Oprah called him back on her show and scolded him for labeling it a memoir, when if fact it wasn't. After that, I came across 'My Friend Leonard' in the bookstore, and bought it out of curiosity.

Review: I'm not quite sure whether this book was published as a memoir or a novel, and I'm not really sure I care. From what I hear about James Frey he traveled a pretty tough road, so if he embellished some details in his writing, I'm okay with that. This book was really good. It's captivating, and it makes you cringe and gasp in all the right places. The dialogue is very short, and to the point, while at the same time being so descriptive its electrifying. Although I had watched the roast of James Frey on the Oprah show prior to reading this book, I don't think it changed my opinion of James Frey's writing, and if it did, it was only marginal. He is a good writer, and this and 'A Million Little Pieces' are good books. I don't like that he told a lie, but it really doesn't affect me, so I will let it slide. I don't know if I would go out of my way to recommend this book to anyone. I may have back when James Frey felt more like a relevant piece of news than an author, but not today. To be honest, it never comes to mind as a 'great' book. Maybe because I'm not at all a drug abusing person, so I don't really relate to the character, though I think this book has the ability to affect a lot of different people in a lot of different ways. There will be people who can relate to his experience, through their own or that of people they know. And others will just be shocked at the things that happen to James. Either way, it was a pretty good book, but probably not one that you would pick up to read again and again.


Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Summer Sisters - Judy Blume

This will be my first actual review of one book in a post. The few prior to this have mentioned books, but have been more so for the purpose of you getting to know me. That being said, Summer Sisters is not something I have read recently, so it is a nostalgic post about one of my favorite books.(It's also going to be my first time trying out a review style, so let me know if you like it).

Back of the Book Synopsis: In the summer of 1977, Victoria Leonard's world changed forever - when Caitlin Somers chose her as a friend. Dazzling, reckless Caitlin welcomed Vix into the heart of her sprawling, eccentric family, opening doors to a world of unimaginable privilege, sweeping her away to vacations on Martha's Vineyard, a magical, wind-blown island where two friends became summer sisters...
Now, years later, Vix is working in New York City. Caitlin is getting married on the Vineyard. And the early magic of their long, complicated friendship has faded. But Caitlin has begged Vix to come to her wedding, to be her maid of honor. And Vix knows that she will go - for the friend whose casual betrayals she remembers all too well. Because Vix wants to understand what happened during that last shattering summer. And, after all these years, she needs to know why her best friend - her summer sister - still has the power to break her heart....

Why I Read This Book: I own this book, and inside is written "To Jess, for Christmas '04, because you're the closest thing to a sister and the best friend I could ever have! I hope  you like this half as much as I do! <3 Anna." So that basically explains that, it was given to me as a gift, and I read it. I have never been a big Judy Blume reader (not because I didn't like her, but as I have mentioned before, I was consumed with all things Sweet Valley). I didn't know she wrote 'adult' novels.

Review: Well, as I said above this is one of my favorite books. I have made a choice not to get into the books details any more that what you would get on the back of the book, so with that being said, here goes:

This book is very well written. It transitions from the perspective of all the characters in the story very seamlessly so you have a idea what each person thinks of the situation. The books story over the course of several years flows very well. It is engaging, and therefore a very quick read. From the little bit of Judy Blume I have read, it seems the only difference in her 'adult' books to her younger audience ones, is the addition of sex. Summer Sisters is still an easy read, and about three quarters of the book is written about the girls as children or teenagers.
I really liked this book. It made me think about friendship, and it made me nostalgic for summer. It is a fantastic book, and I constantly recommend it to people.


Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Fan Fiction - Good or Bad?

So between yesterday and today I finished Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (review to follow shortly), and began reading a 'J.K. Rowling approved' Harry Potter fan fiction book titled James Potter and the Hall of Elders' Crossing by G. Norman Lippert. I am only a few pages in, but I wanted to get my thoughts out there on fan fiction. I have never read it before. To be honest, I have never really even heard of it... Is this strange? I'm not really surprised by it, but at the same time I am. There have been quite a few books I have LOVED, and as much as I may have wondered what happened later on, or prior to, I never would have thought to actually write it myself. So, what is your opinion on it? I don't have a lot of time today, so I will just have to leave today's post to this one question to discuss, Fan Fiction: Good Idea or Bad Idea?

Monday, 22 August 2011

Shopaholic Series and "Cheap Chick-Lit"

The Shopaholic books by Sophie Kinsella are another series of novels which I have read all of (most of them more than once). They are great stories. I fancied myself a 'shopaholic' until I met Becky Bloomwood, then I realized I wasn't even close! These books are very entertaining. The series consists of 6 books (Confessions of a Shopaholic, Shopaholic Takes Manhattan, Shopaholic Ties the Knot, Shopaholic & Sister, Shopaholic & Baby, and finally Mini Shopaholic) the last of which I have yet to read. I'm choosing to write about them now, even without having read the latest installment as they highlight my love for chick-lit books. These are the first quintessential chick-lit books I read. I may have stumbled on some before, but didn't fully recognize them as such, therefore they didn't count.
Oh how I envied all that shopping, and Isla Fisher's gorgeous red hair
The entire series is a good read for a lazy day. Although embedded with some decent financial advice here and there, it's nothing more than a story. One which I have always liked. The movie version left a lot to be desired, which is why I assume we haven't be subjected to several sequels, however I would recommend the books to all my girlfriends (although I can't think of one who hasn't already read them). They are comfort reads which leave you literally laughing out loud at the ridiculous justifications to buy more stuff! That being said, its risky business to give the impression to so many readers that eventually you will figure out how to pay for it all with no real battle wounds, just a hilarious story to tell!

In my days as a university student, I didn't have a whole lot of money to buy books that didn't have titles such as "Organizational Behaviour" or "Intermediate Accounting" so I frequently visited the 'sale' table at Chapters and other book stores. $4.99 books were my BFF, and still now I feel compelled to browse it when I go in. Now I don't buy many books at all, since I have an e-reader. I have moved so many times that although books normally offer me comfort, their physical size and weight are such a burden. That being said, some of my most enjoyable reads have come from these inexpensive book tables. A notable find was Knocked Up by Rebecca Eckler. She describes 'The Fear' with such accuracy I leave my self thinking - I know EXACTLY how you feel!! (Not so much about the knocked up part, but every other aspect of The Fear!)
Oh heyyy, I used to be super fab and fit and drank with my friends
 all the time, but now I'm fat and all that other stuff that comes with being preggo
I like to think of books like this as "Beach Books" as I always imagine that I am on a fabulous vacation with nothing better to do than lay on the beach and read about the amusing lives of the various heroines in my "cheap chick-lit" collection. (Note: do not discount a book because it was on the "cheap" table, beause you have no idea what its going to be like) So, to bring this post back full circle and call it a review. GO BUY THIS BOOK NOW! You will pee yourself with laughter (if not, I assume you have no soul).

Also, since you will devour this book in mere minutes because of it fabulousness, I have included a few other of my cheap chick-lit finds for your amusement.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Tribute to a Childhood favorite

So, as I begin my foray into the adventure of writing about the books I am reading, it seems wrong not to mention the books that turned me into the book-a-holic I am now.

The first chapter-ed novel I ever read was Goblins in the Castle by Bruce Coville.
Just exploring the dark, scary dungeon
 of Toad-in-a-Cage Castle, NBD
I read it 2 pages at a time to my dad before bed when I was about 4-5 years old. After this I was given a Sweet Valley Kids series book in my Easter basket, and it pretty much changed my life! The "Easter Bunny" brought it for me because one of the main characters was named Jessica (which if you couldn't have guessed, is my name). From there I spent YEARS reading all the Sweet Valley books I could get my hands on. There was a used book store around the corner from our house that if you brought in used books, they would allow you to trade for 75% of what they believed the value of the book you were bringing to be. So, I packed up all my Bernstein Bears, and Little Golden Books into boxes and traded them in. I can't even estimate just how many of them I read. The library in Dartmouth used to allow you to take out 30 books and keep them for 3 weeks. In the summer, I would take out and read 30 SV books every 3 weeks. We used to build forts in the woods behind out house and just read there all day.
Sorry Nancy, you won't have
help from this Girl!
I wasn't a Nancy Drew girl, or a Babysitters Club girl (although I have read many of both), I was a Sweet Valley Girl, and I wanted nothing more than to visit the split level ranch occupied by Ned, Alice, Steven, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. It actually left me with life long twin envy.
Where is my identical Best Friend??

Which leads me nicely into the fact that recently I read Francine Pascal's newest edition to the Sweet Valley collection, being 'Sweet Valley Confidential - Ten Years Later'.
You can just tell from the cover
something isn't going well in SV land!!
I really have a love hate relationship with these types of books being written (I'm currently reading Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares, the 5th book of the Travelling Pants series, which also fits into this category). These books are addictive, you have to read them if you read the others, you can't just ignore that it was written, but you're never going to like what the author ended up doing with their characters. It's either not going to be the way you pictures it (if you did at all) or they do something that just doesn't seem likely to you. That was my problem with Sweet Valley Confidential, it just didn't seem believable. I won't get into plot summaries here, but if you read it I'm almost sure you will agree. In addition to that, Francine Pascal must have felt like she needed a paycheck and FAST, as the book was very poorly written. The language used was bad, the words 'like' and 'so' were inserted so unnaturally into the text that sometimes it was confusing to understand what the point of the sentence was. There were also glaring errors throughout the book. Maybe only die hard fans like myself were able to remember the details of books from the 80's and 90's but I don't think George Fowler is going to be very happy Francine though his name was Richard (Lila's father). Overall, I'm not sure what part of me needed to read this, but as soon as I heard it was published, I read it immediately. It was a bad book. But for me it was like having a cup of coffee with an old friend. Someone who if you met today, you probably wouldn't like them at all, but since you have so much history, you make it work. I made this book work for me, and even though I think the plot is out to lunch, it was nice to take a visit back to see my old friends in Sweet Valley, California.