A good book has no ending. ~ R.D. Cumming

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Finding Treasures

The other day I was rooting around in a drawer I don't visit too often... unbeknownst to me, it turns out a binder of book reviews I started long ago with a couple of friends was hiding in the depths of that drawer. What a great surprise! It brought back so many memories to read all those old reviews and I was so happy to have found that! So the next time I get a chance to get some reviews posted on here (I'm behind yet again!) I will hopefully get some of those older reviews posted as well. Isn't it great what you can find when you least expect it!?

On another note, I am looking for some good suggestions on new reading material. Please suggest novels of any genre; although I generally read fiction, I am eager to dip into other sections of the bookstores as well. My past couple of experiences with the Fantasy section didn't pan out too well, so I'm always appreciative of any suggestions in that genre specifically.

Hope you're all enjoying getting ready for the holidays, and, of course, making a little time for yourselves to catch up on some reading!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Slacking off...

So, unfortunately, I haven't been reading nearly as much this month. I don't know whether that's due to the change in weather or simply that with the holidays around the corner, there is much to be done, leaving little time for reading. I have finished another Jodi Picoult novel, so I will hopefully post a review for that one soon, and I am currently reading Sing Them Home by Stephanie Kallos but I am finding it hard to get into that novel so far. Perhaps the cold is dampening my reading spirits, but I hope to get cracking soon in hopes of coming close to my reading goal for the year, as we are fast approaching the years-end. I don't think that I will achieve my goal this year, but nevertheless I am happy to have read as much as I have so far, and will see how close I come once the end of December comes around and it is time to come up with a new goal for 2011.

I am really hoping that more people will check out my blog in the coming year, as well. One of my main motivators for starting this blog is to excite people into reading again. It seems less and less people read - whether due to lack of time, or that they "haven't found a book they like yet", and I would really love to see that turn around. Reading is so enjoyable and to those mentioned above who have yet to find a book they like... keep trying! It isn't as though there are a lack of them to choose from! There are so many genres, authors, topics, etc that I, personally, feel it is impossible for people to keep up with that excuse. Which, again, brings me back to the point of why I started a blog. I want people to be able to see what I'm reading and what I thought about the book, and, ideally, I want to see comments posted if people have read that particular book too - bring on the arguments if you disagree with me at all! Even better if I am getting some younger followers, as I think reading is a great past-time for kids (much better than tv, if you're going to be sitting idle!). So please recommend this blog to your friends and family and lets get the world reading again!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sleepwalking In Daylight

Product Details
Sleepwalking in Daylight by Elizabeth Flock

Samantha Friedman has been feeling some disconnect between herself and her husband, Bob, for some time now. Perhaps it is the lack of physical intimacy between them, or the fact that they don't have conversations more complex than "How was your day?", "Fine", anymore. So when Samantha meets Craig during a train ride and they begin exchanging daily emails, she begins to wonder if there isn't more for her outside of her deteriorating marriage. How can she leave, though, when she has the twin boys, Jamie and Andrew, and adopted daughter, Cameron to think about? Meanwhile, Cameron is struggling with the fact that she doesn't feel like she fits with the Friedmans. Having been adopted at 2 years of age, she never thought much about it until someone commented on the fact that she doesn't look like the other members of her family. When she approached her father to ask, Bob simply replied: "because you're not our real daughter". Since that day, Cameron has strived to find out who her real mother is and why Cameron hadn't been good enough to keep. Between Samantha's desire to feel some connection with someone again, and Cameron's desire to find out where she fits, the Friedman house is pulling in many different directions. So when the worst happens, will it make or break them?

I'm still struggling to decide whether or not I liked this novel. On the one hand, I enjoyed that the author explored the family dynamics of a couple in their mid-life stage, and how over the years and with the stress of raising a family things can change - sometimes drastically. On the other hand, I felt that Samantha was far too selfish, and despite her feelings of disconnect with Bob, she never really laid her feelings out on the line for him. She approached the subject several times, but never to the point of flat-out saying "I'm unhappy and you're unhappy, so what can we do about this?". I thought Cameron seemed the typical teenager - still finding her place among the cliques at school, feeling the pressures of drugs and sex, etc. I think in the end I felt very sorry for Cameron because it seemed that Samantha was too caught up in herself to give her daughter any feeling of being wanted, and yet blame could easily be placed on Bob for the same thing. The novel was good, not great, and probably not one I would be quick to recommend to anyone. Regardless, I still enjoy the writing style of this author and am glad to have read this.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Keeping Faith

Product DetailsKeeping Faith by Jodi Picoult

After the first time Mariah White discovered her husband, Colin's infedelity, she lost it. She had a nervous breakdown and was diagnosed with severe depression. When she attempted suicide, Colin went to court and had Mariah forced into Greenhaven, a mental institution - it was there that she learned she was pregnant with Faith. After stumbling upon her husband with another woman, for the second time, Mariah knew that this time she had to do whatever she could to pull it together for seven-year old Faith. What Mariah didn't expect was that shortly after Colin leaves their home for good, Faith begins to exhibit strange behaviour - talking to her "Guard", quoting bible verses she has never heard before, stigmata and miraculous healings. The work of God?  A child acting out to get attention, in hopes of keeping her parents together? Through a storm of media attention and court battles, Mariah struggles to make sense of what is happening to her daughter and learns, in the process, that she is a stronger person than she ever thought possible.

I finished this book a few days ago, and not only can I not get it out of my mind but I'm finding this novel the most difficult so far to put into words. Perhaps it is the inclusion of a topic like religion, but I think it has more to do with the fact that Jodi Picoult has left this novel, once again, with questions unanswered for the reader to mull over. Once again I must sing her praises: Jodi Picoult has managed to take a very controversial subject (religion) and has weaved it through her plot leaving readers reconsidering their own views about religion and the existence of God. The novel isn't completely based around religion - which may or may not change some people's minds about whether or not to read it. Jodi Picoult has once again given her readers a novel that they will think about long after they've finished reading it.

If You Could See Me Now

Product DetailsIf You Could See Me Now by Cecelia Ahern

Elizabeth Egan was forced to grow up too soon at a very young age. With a flighty mother and a stern, distant father, it was up to Elizabeth to help shape a better, brighter future for her younger sister, Saoirse. Fast-forward in time and Elizabeth is once again straining to hold the pieces of her splintering family together. She is the adopted guardian of her sister's six-year-old son, Luke, as her sister has followed in their mother's footsteps and takes off for days and weeks at a time without a second thought for anyone around her. Fighting hard to maintain her interior design business while taking care of Luke and worrying about her sister's whereabouts, Elizabeth is at her rope's end. That's when Ivan starts to visit. In a short time, Elizabeth begins to see, with Ivan's help, that it's okay to let go and have fun, and part of letting go meant revisiting her past and answering long-sought after questions about her mother.

This book was really neat. Cecelia Ahern likes to think outside the box, it seems, as her plots often explore the realms of fantasy and make-believe. In doing that, she is able to take what could have been a mundane "my-mother-ran-off-my-sister-is-a-drunk-my-father-doesn't-talk-to-me" whiney story and turn it into this magical tale where the impossible becomes possible and things you belived in when you were little can seem real again. It was a fairly easy read, and I enjoyed the original idea behind including a character like Ivan in the novel. It makes for something different to read about, and that's always a welcome thing. I would definitely recommend this novel to someone who doesn't have a lot of time to read (since you can get through it fairly quickly) and I also think it is a good choice for young adult readers looking to break free from the "teen" section in bookstores.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Pact

Product DetailsThe Pact by Jodi Picoult

After living in side by side houses for the past eighteen years, the Harte and Gold families could never have imagined there would come a time where a tragedy would strike that would rip apart the bond they shared. Their children, Chris Harte and Emily Gold, had grown up together only 3 months apart in ag; both sets of parents had high hopes for the relationship that was beginning to form between the two and there was no doubt in anyone's mind that Chris and Emily would marry once they were older. All those hopes and dreams were dashed in an instant and lives were changed forever on the night that the two families were called down to the hospital - the Hartes, to take their injured son home; the Golds, to identify the body of their daughter. Now it is up to the courts to find out what really happened that night at the carousel, and it's up to the parents to figure out what signs they could have missed that led their children to make the decisions they made on that evening.

She has done it again, folks! I have read a few reviews from others who have read this novel, most of which were quite negative. I can understand that people might find this book hard to swallow, but isn't that one of the contributing factors to its greatness? In my mind, if a book has you so riled up and you continue to think about it long after you've set it back on the shelf, it is a great book. This novel is exactly that. While the topic of teen suicide and adolescent relationships may not sit well with most, it is a fact of life. Jodi Picoult has done an excellent job of reminding readers what it was like to be a teenager - how everything seemed life or death and decisions were made based on emotions rather than rationale; unfortunately in some circumstances this leads to tragic outcomes, as is the case in this novel.

Jodi Picoult is, in my opinion, one of the most talented authors out there right now (I can't claim to have read novels by all the authors out there, so I base that statement strictly off of the authors I am familiar with). Jodi is able time and time again to create characters that you can connect with, and that you almost miss once you've finished the book. Her plots are so intricate, full of such rich detail and background that there are times I feel like I've watched a movie, I can picture everything so clearly. I cannot wait to read more of her work and I hope she will continue to write for a long time to come. If you haven't given her novels a chance yet, start now!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Behind AGAIN!

So once again I have fallen quite behind on posting my reviews. I have two books finished to post reviews for still - I will hopefully get those up later this evening. Out of the four novels I had ordered at the beginning of the month, I have 1 and a half left to go. You know what that means!...BOOK SHOPPING!

As we are now approaching the year's end, I will also post my list of books I've read this year. In the last couple of months I have brought myself back up to speed, as my summer had been quite busy leaving me little time for reading as many novels as I had hoped to. So now that the weather is cooling off significantly, I feel no desire to go outside which leaves me curled up on my couch with my books and my dogs! In my mind, there is nothing better than staying inside with a good book when it's miserable and cold outside - possibly the only positive attribute of winter!

Check back soon for my latest reviews, and as always Happy Reading!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

They're Here!

My books have finally arrived!! I ordered 4 in total from Chapters; they are: The Pact by Jodi Picoult, Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult, If You Could See Me Now by Cecelia Ahern and Sleepwalking in Daylight by Elizabeth Flock. I am quite eager to get started on one! I have been "bookless", so to speak, for the past week; although, I can't complain because it has given me a chance to re-read some of my old favourites. During my new-book hiatus, I re-read The Wicked, Wicked Ladies in the Haunted House by Mary Chase, and Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh - two great novels that I remember fondly from elementary school.

So my personal library count, including the 4 new books I just received, is now at 142! (I'm almost needing to start taking over another bookshelf). Out of the 18 novels that Jodi Picoult has written, I now only have 2 more to buy, and then I own them all to date!

The sun is shining, the air is warm and I have new books to read - how could the day get any better?!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

More Than It Hurts You

Product DetailsMore Than It Hurts You by Darin Strauss

Josh Goldin has everything a man could want - a great job, a beautiful wife and a not-quite-two year old son, Zack. Everything changes one day when Josh receives an emergency phone call at work, asking him to meet his wife at the hospital. The doctor in charge of Pediatrics ICU, Dr. Darlene Stokes, suspects that this may be more than just an "incident". Her suspicions only increase when the child is brought in again on another occasion...with the same issues. Although the tests that the doctors run show nothing wrong with Zack, Darlene fights to draw attention to the mother, all the while drawing negative attention towards herself as she makes a potential diagnosis that no one wants to hear: Munchausen syndrome by proxy; in other words, a mother intentionally injuring her child.

It is a big risk to tackle a subject so controversial as MSBP, and unfortunately I felt the author fell short in his delivery. Although I like the concept of the story, I think it could have been better developed. I didn't find that I really connected with any of the characters and so I don't think the book impacted me the way it could (and maybe should) have. Perhaps I am simply biased, being a huge Jodi Picoult fan (for those of you who are unfamiliar with her, controversial subjects are her forte), because once I finished the novel, I couldn't help but think WWJD (What Would Jodi Do?).This was in no way a bad novel - I would hate to give that impression - I simply feel that the subject wasn't explored as thoroughly or deeply as it could have been.

Darin Strauss has written a couple of other novels ("Chang & Eng", "The Real McCoy"), so although I wasn't a huge fan of this one I wouldn't mind giving the others a shot to see if they are written differently. Unfortunately this novel isn't one that I would jump to recommend but, nonetheless, I'm glad to have had the opportunity to read it.

But Inside I'm Screaming

Product DetailsBut Inside I'm Screaming by Elizabeth Flock

After a meltdown on live TV, Isabel Murphy checks herself into the place she least wants to be - a mental institution. At Three Breezes (aka: the Nut Hut), Isabel finds herself wondering why she is there, among all the "freaks"; but once she starts accepting the help and guidance of the nurses and therapists there, she understands how desperately she needed to take a break from life, and her insane desire to be perfect.

This novel brings to light the issue of mental illness and society's stereotype of mental institutions and the kind of people who reside there. While I did enjoy the book, I must be honest in that I expected much more, having previously read "Me & Emma" - another novel by Elizabeth Flock. It was a fairly light read and a good plot created around the idea of mental illness and mental institutions. I managed to read this book in about a day and a half (reading bits here and there as time allowed), so I do need to note that despite that I was able to fly through this novel, it was mainly because I wanted to know what would happen to Isabel in the end.

I would definitely recommend this book as a quick, light read which I think would be great to bring along while travelling. However, I was so impressed by "Me & Emma" that I would recommend that novel more. Needless to say I will definitely be reading other works by Elizabeth Flock, and I hope others will enjoy this novel, and her others, as well!

So Behind!

Just wanted to post quick to say that I have two reviews to be posted still. I am finally finished reading every book that I own (about 138 at last count) and am currently waiting on a Chapters/Coles gift card to arrive in the mail so I can go purchase some new reading material! Very exciting! (Is it strange that I detest normal shopping (for shoes especially!), yet can spend hours in a bookstore and love every minute?!)

I will hopefully touch base again later today and get those two reviews posted; and until the gift card arrives, it's on to some re-reads for now!

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

Product Details  The Hunger Games, Catching Fire & Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

I originally intended to write for each of these separately, but having the good fortune to have had them lent to me all at once, and, therefore, being able to finish them all in succession I realized that it would be better to write about them collectively as a whole.

These books were phenomenal! They are intended for a "young adult" audience, and therefore contain no swearing or sex. They do, however, contain quite a bit of violence (not overly graphic, mind you) but given the subject of the novels I don't think there was any way around that. I enjoyed these 3 books thoroughly and couldn't pick a favourite out of the trio if asked. They all tie in so well with each other, and I would highly recommend reading them in succession, as I was able to, because once you put the first book down you will want the second (and third!) book right at hand to begin immediately!

The Hunger Games trilogy takes place in the nation of Panem, which is essentially what is left of North America after hundreds of years, and some natural disasters. There are 12 districts surrounding The Capital, which is the core of Panem. There was a period, about 75 years or so before The Hunger Games story takes place, called the Dark Days when all 13 districts rebelled and tried to take down The Capital. District 13 was wiped out as an example of what happens when the citizens go against The Capital, and that is when The Hunger Games were created. Each of the 12 remaining districts must send 1 boy and 1 girl into an arena to fight to the death. The motive behind creating the "Games" was to institute a means of punishment for the uprising and to serve as a constant reminder of The Capital's control over the citizens of Panem.

I don't want to go into too much detail about the plot because I think it is best read with no expectations or pre-formed ideas about what will happen. I had these books recommended to me with no real idea about the story, other than a brief explaination of the Hunger Games, and so I suggest others do the same.

I very highly suggest these novels to all readers. I think this trilogy falls into the same category as novels like "Twilight" and "Harry Potter": designed for young adult readers, but appealing to a wider audience of varying ages. You miss out by not reading these!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

It Begins!

I have loved reading since I can remember.

I can remember when I was just starting out reading - books like "Run, Jane, Run" and "See Spot Run". Good times! And my love of reading hasn't diminished since. In 2009 I decided to set a goal for myself in the New Year (a "resolution", if you will) to read an average of 4 books a month. I figured that reading one book a week seemed fair. At the end of the year I had read an average of 4.5 books a month, and so I decided to up the ante for 2010. This year my goal is to read an average of 5 books a month. So far (Jan-Aug) I have read 27 novels.

Why am I aiming for an "average" of 5 a month? While I like the idea of challenging myself to read more, I didn't want to put pressure on myself to fill a quota each month. As is the case for everyone, some months are busier than others and so I may be able to read more in one month than the next. So I figured aiming for an average was a good compromise.

My goal for this blog is to entice others to read more and to suggest books to those looking for something new to read. Although I have read many books up to this point (I am hoping to list them on this blog), I will start reviews from this point onwards; although I may go back after some time, especially if I re-read the book, to update and post a review.

Happy Reading!