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

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Not Forgotten!

Hello to my small collection of followers! My apologies for lack of posts lately - seems that the weather is finally cooperating and so there is much to be done in the yard and garden. I have several book reviews ready to go so, rest assured, there will be some new reviews to check out very soon! Didn't want anyone to think I had abandoned my blog :)

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

In A Heartbeat

In A HeartbeatIn A Heartbeat by Rosalind Noonan

Ben McGann is spending his summer at a baseball camp, a nice break after his first year in Boston College. Having been born an athlete, Ben quickly came to love baseball specifically and has dedicated his life up to this point at perfecting the sport. When Ben's arrival at the baseball camp bristles some of the senior players who attended during the past summer, rivalries soon begin and threats are exchanged. One team member takes it too far and Ben ends up the victim of a severe beating by none other than a baseball bat. A 3am phone call summons Kate, Ben's mother, to leave her house in Woodstock and drive with her estranged husband, Eli, to Good Samaritan Hospital, where a son she doesn't recognize lays unconscious following emergency brain surgery. Eli and Kate's relationship is further strained while they are forced to sit helpless by their son's bedside - Eli itching to be anyplace but there, Kate itching to find out who did this to her son. But it is up to Greg Cody, police investigator, to piece together the evidence and find out who could have commmitted such a vicious act on such a well-liked boy before someone else falls victim. The question is: will Greg Cody find the perpetrator in time?

Wow! Just like Rosalind Noonan's other novel One September Morning, this novel will keep you at the edge of your seat, frantically turning pages as you attempt to uncover the mystery - a real "whodunit". Rosalind Noonan has done an excellent job in keeping the end a secret right up until the very last couple of chapters. She throws a few curve balls to keep readers guessing and it isn't until the very end that everything previously disclosed throughout the novel seems to fall into place. This novel was exciting and interesting right from the start, and is one that cannot be read fast enough. My only real critique (and this is only me making a mountain out of a molehill, really) is that I found many similarities between the character personality of her antagonist in this novel and her previous one, One September Morning. I hope this is merely coincidence, and in future novels I hope to see her develop the antagonist in a different way. So despite that small hiccup, I absolutely recommend this novel. I will definitely be re-reading this at some point and I cannot wait until she publishes another novel. This is an author whose work closely resembles that of Jodi Picoult. She is an author to watch out for and I hope she continues to write novels for a long while yet!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Forgotten Garden

The Forgotten Garden: A NovelThe Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

Nell Andrews was found on a pier in Maryborough, Australia in 1913 when she was only four years old. The year she turned seventeen, Nell finally found out the truth about her past, finally revealing that her parents weren't, infact, her birth parents. Fast forward to 1975 and as an older woman now, Nell is determined to discover the truth behind her mysterious appearance as a four-year old girl on the docks of Maryborough. Surely she must have had family that were looking for her. Who were her birth parents and why did they allow her to be sent on a boat all alone at such a young age?  Bouncing ahead to 2005, Nell's granddaughter, Cassandra has unearthed the unfinished digging that Nell had been doing about her history. With Nell now dead, Cassandra feels that she owes it to her grandmother to finish the tale and discover where she came from and why. Backtrack to 1900 and it is also the story of Eliza Makepeace, a young girl brought to live with her high society aunt and uncle following the death of her mother and twin brother. When Cassandra discovers that Nell's story begins to entertwine with the story of Eliza, things begin to take shape and readers are in for a treat!

What an amazing novel! I was intrigued right from the start and as the story continued I was constantly trying to stay ahead of the mystery, piecing together the stories being told by each of the characters. Having now finished this novel, I am sad that it's done. This is the type of novel that you hesitate to finish because you don't want it to end. There were so many twists throughout the novel that the reader is constantly kept at bay from learning the whole story until the very end. Once the novel is finished, the whole story falls into place and is amazing to think of as a whole. I absolutely recommend this novel to everyone! This is definitely a novel that you don't want to pass up reading and I cannot wait to re-read this one already. Yet another must, must read!

Monday, April 11, 2011


DayDay by Elie Wiesel

Also included in the Night Trilogy, Day takes a much different approach than Dawn in keeping with the exploration of the author's feelings and views on the world after living in German concentration camps for a year. In this novel the main character, Eliezer, has also survived time in the concentration camps, losing his family in the process. Following the war, the young man is suffering from a lack of will to live. Nothing he does or experiences seems to bring him joy anymore, and he can't stop picturing his family members who have died. On the way to see a movie one day with the woman he is seeing, Eliezer is hit by a taxi as he is crossing the road towards the theatre. During his time recovering in the hospital, Eliezer is plagued by the desire to die, despite various conversations with friends and his doctor in an attempt to convince him otherwise. This is a question that has been on the mind of the author, Elie Wiesel, for some time: "Does life have meaning after Auschwitz?".

Again, I wasn't entertained by the story but definitely respected the idea brought across by the author. After surviving and witnessing such horrible examples of what mankind is capable of, is life really worth living? I can say that I enjoyed this novel much more than Dawn. In hindsight, I'm glad that I read these three novels together, and although out of the three I would only be inclined to recommend Night, I can admit that I would now be inclined to recommend getting the Night Trilogy and reading all three, only because I think it gives a good idea of what happens to survivors in the aftermath. Through the two novels Dawn and Day, Elie Wiesel is exploring the what-ifs that have plagued him for a long time and I think that is important to consider when you think about the ordeal he went through - what happens after it is over?


DawnDawn by Elie Wiesel

Included in the Night Trilogy, Dawn is the story of a young man swept into a group of resistance fighters who are battling Great Britain for the right of the Jewish people to form an independant state in their homeland. Elisha, the young man, is faced with the task of executing a captured British soldier, one whom the Jewish Resistance fighters had hoped to use as a bargaining tool against the execution of one of their own, David Ben Moshe. Elisha is feeling confused about the task at hand; he isn't quite sure if he can or should go through with the execution, all the while dealing with recurring memories of his recent past living in a German concentration camp, sadly losing his family during that experience.

I wasn't overly impressed with this novel. I can appreciate the idea behind the plot - Elie Wiesel, in his preface to the novel, explained that although the situation is different from that which he experienced during World War II, he wanted to explore the doubts and memories that he had from time to time following his release from the concentration camps; for example: what would have happened if instead of being sent to France following his release from the camps, he was sent to the Holy Land? What would have happened if his stay in the concentration camps was more than one year? How much more would any of that have changed him as a man? So although I wasn't entertained by the story, as mentioned above, I can appreicate that this was the author's way of his exploring his own mind and misgivings following the horrors he suffered during the War.

Monday, April 04, 2011


NightNight by Elie Wiesel

After surviving his time in German concentration camps during World War II, Eliezar Wiesel gives us a full account of his life during this harrowing experience. Having been collected along with his mother, sisters and father, Elie was only fifteen when he was exposed to the cruelty and brutality of the German SS officers. He had to learn that there were other more sinister meanings of words he formally knew to be innocent: selection, chimneys, hunger, thirst. Being fortunate enough, if one can call it fortunate, to survive these camps, Elie felt it was important to share his story with the world so that it may understand what happened to all those men, women and children, affixed with gold stars, during the rein of the monster known as Hitler.

This was a hard novel to read. The book itself isn't very long, but contains so much emotion within its pages. Elie Wiesel battles within himself as he questions God and ultimately comes to believe that there can be no God, for if there is how could he let these atrocities happen to his people. Elie also must face the shame and guilt he feels as his father's life draws to a close, when Elie can't help but feel relief at the loss of extra responsibility during a time when taking care of oneself required enough energy, nevermind needing to care for and be responsible for one's aging father as well.

I'm so glad that Elie Wiesel had chosen to write this novel. I think it is important for our future generations to learn from past mistakes, and to understand what our ancestors had to go through during those terrible times. Although this was a hard subject to read about, I think the novel is excellently written - it is forward and honest, and isn't designed to elaborate gruesome details of people's deaths (so there are no detailed descriptions of people being beaten to death, or babies being shot, etc), although these things are alluded to throughout the novel. Due to the aforementioned content, I recommend this novel only for those who feel they are prepared - I hesitate to limit my recommendation to a specific age because I think it will vary for each individual whether they can handle this particular subject, however I would suggest this isn't read by anyone younger than highschool aged. I highly recommend this novel.

Note: I read this novel as part of the Night Trilogy, comprised of Night, Dawn and Day by Elie Wiesel.
Night Trilogy


DivisaderoDivisadero by Michael Ondaatje

This novel follows the lives of Anna, her sister Claire, her father, and Coop, the adopted son of their murdered neighbours. Both Anna and Claire's mothers died during childbirth; after feeling pity for the newly-born, newly-motherless Claire, Anna's father had decided to bring her home and raise her as his own along with his own daughter, Anna. Fast-forward to two young teenaged girls and the now twenty-something Coop, things become problematic when Anna discovers a desire in her awakened by the young man. The family is shattered after a discovery made by Anna's father, and Anna's world is turned upside down. Readers are then introduced to the life of a now-deceased author, Lucien Segura, and the mirror between that past and the present that reflects love, family and how one's own past can dramatically alter one's present.

I wasn't overly wowed by this novel. It is written in sections so as to introduce the characters Anna, Claire and Coop in one section and author Lucien Segura in another, and I found that I could have enjoyed each section more as a separate story. It didn't seem to me that the tale between triangle of Anna, Claire and Coop was ever finished, and I found myself wondering what became of them. Then I got into the part about the author and I found that I wished that part to be a novel in itself so that it would have been developed further and I could have read more about those characters. To me the two parts didn't compliment each other, as it seems they were intended to. I can see the intent to correlate the theme of love, family, etc, however the two stories were so different from one another that, like I said above, I wished each was a separate story. Unfortunately this is yet another novel that I wouldn't necessarily recommend, however, as always, I encourage each individual to use their own judgement; another reader may enjoy this and get more out of it than I did - it did win the Governor General's Award, so there are obviously many others who were impressed with this novel. I, sadly, am not one of them.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Atonement Child

Note: This is a "classic" review - one that I had written up when I first started doing book reviews back in Grade Twelve. Enjoy!

The Atonement ChildThe Atonement Child by Francine Rivers

The Atonement Child is the story of Dynah Carey, a young woman facing a huge decision. Dynah is a Christian girl who grew up in a very loving family. All in one instant, however, her life is altered. She must make a massive decision all while being influenced by the people she loves. The reader is introduced to the meaning behind many scripture passages and to the utmost faith that Dynah has through her ordeal. The reader is also made aware of a couple of dark secrets held by Dynah's mother and grandmother. As the novel progresses and these secrets are revealed, you will not want to put this book down. Finally, just before the end of the novel, Dynah makes her decision, all the while making you laugh, making you cry and keeping you on the edge of your seat with anticipation as her story unfolded.

I think this story is great for anyone from ages thirteen and up. This story has great morals and demonstrates that with faith - maybe not in God, but in what you are trying to accomplish - you can conquer anything. I recommend reading this novel in a pair of comfortable sweatpants with a box of tissue nearby because you will not want to put the book down; and you will need some chocolate for comfort as you are drawn into Dynah's complex story.

Francine Rivers has accomplished a lot in writing this novel. She is bold in her mannerisms about God and describes things with absolute detail. I think that she is a brilliant author and I am excited to read another of her works called Redeeming Love.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Happy Spring!

Spring Break is in full swing and the weather seems to be cooperating, finally! I have one novel that I am just about finished (The Night Trilogy by Elie Weisel) and I have 4 on loan from my mom that I'm very eager to get to reading! With summer fast approaching, I thought it would be fun to find out what is on everyone's "To Read" list for the upcoming warm months. Comment below and let me know what you're planning to read over the next few months!

My "To Read" list is currently comprised of the books I have borrowed from my mom, which include:
In A Heartbeat by Rosalind Noonan
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
A Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire
Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

I hope everyone has been out enjoying the lovely sunshine and taking in the fresh spring air! Happy Reading, as always!

Monday, March 07, 2011

The Underpainter

The Underpainter by Jane Urquhart

Austin Taylor is an aspiring artist. During the early 1900's, following the death of his mother, Austin's father strikes it rich after investing in Silver and begins what would become the annual trips to the Northern shores of Lake Superior in Canada. It is during these summers spent in Canada that Austin crosses the path of George, a porcelain painter and owner of the China Hall shop, and Sara, his soon-to-be mistress and muse. Now an old man, Austin looks back on his life and the summers spent up North with a tinge of regret. As an artist, Austin had been encouraged to distance himself from his emotions in order to paint better but in doing so, Austin managed to build a wall around himself shutting out the warmth, love and friendship his companions had to offer. In hindsight, Austin realizes that his connections with George and Sara were shallow and weak and the way things ended between each of them was far from desirable.

Right off the bat I can tell you that this story would most likely hold more for a reader who is able to discern the hidden meaning in writing - this, sadly, is not a strength of mine (I prefer to read a story with a more obvious message) and so I feel that I may have missed out on some of the subtleties that are no doubt lying within the text. There is much reference made to Austin's work as a painter, and especially in his style of underpainting - which I'm sure alludes to something else key in the story. Overall I thought the story was good; tragic, though, in the sense that Austin couldn't see how much he was shutting out everyone around him until it was too late. I probably wouldn't recommend this novel due to the fact that I, personally, don't enjoy novels like this (hidden meanings, etc); however, if I knew someone who did enjoy that sort of writing style, I would recommend this novel to them.

The Almost Moon

The Almost Moon: A Novel (Hardcover)The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold

Helen had never decided to kill her mother. It wasn't something she had set out intending to do, yet following a recent visit to her mother's house, that is exactly what she ended up doing. Through flashbacks, Helen recalls her childhood and what events brought her to this moment, to what she has just done. Having been reared by two parents who were mentally unstable, Helen isn't sure what to feel - she doesn't feel guilt, but she also doesn't feel satisfaction or relief. With the help of her ex-husband, Jake, Helen must now figure out a way to cover up what she has done and decide what she is to do now.

I'm still not quite sure what to think about this novel. I enjoyed the way it was written - jumping between past and present, allowing the author to introduce small pieces of information at a time, encouraging the reader to fit the pieces together creating the larger picture of Helen's past. I'm not keen on the way the story ended, but I will leave my comment at that, as I don't want to give anything away. This was a darker novel, and you really can't help but feel for the main character despite that she murders her mother. Helen had to face not one, but two parents who were not mentally stable and the humiliation that came with it. Having read Jodi Picoult's Mercy, this novel touches also on the topic of "mercy killing", but in a very different light - I'm not even sure that you could count them as one in the same. Helen feels that she has done her mother a favor, but really it seems it was a selfish thing to do; Helen had become responsible for caring for her aging mother who was slowly sliding towards dimentia and it seemed as though it had just become too much for Helen to deal with.

I'm not sure that I would recommend this novel. Given that I had really enjoyed The Lovely Bones which is also by Alice Sebold, I would be inclined to recommend that novel instead. I think The Almost Moon is a novel that the reader needs to decide to read for themselves, as I'm sure it would vary from individual to individual whether or not it was enjoyable to read (which is generally the case with any novel). I don't feel that this novel is suitable for younger readers due to content (the murder, etc).


Wicked by Gregory Maguire

When Dorothy's house comes hurtling out of the sky and falls on the Wicked Witch of the East in Frank Baum's tale The Wonderful Wizard of Oz readers are introduced to her sister, the Wicked Witch of the West. Gregory Maguire has taken this classic tale and filled in the blanks, giving us a background on this seemingly evil character. Will your interpretation of Frank Baum's novel change once you've heard both sides of the story? Afterall, maybe the Wicked Witch of the West hadn't always been so evil...

This novel was fantastic! I couldn't read it fast enough and I was really sad to finish it. I have only seen the movie adaptation of "The Wizard of Oz", so my interpretation of the original story is taken from that movie rather than from Frank Baum's novel. Gregory Maguire's Wicked fills in the blanks almost flawlessly. Readers are transported further back into the history of the land of Oz and introduced to an odd, young, green child named Elphaba who grows up to become the misunderstood Wicked Witch of the West. This novel is extremely well written and gives the reader a wider understanding of the land of Oz, including its politics and the insurrection of the people against the Wizard.

I very highly recommend this novel to anyone looking for a good, rewarding read. This is a novel that I will think about often and I already cannot wait to re-read it. This is a must, must read!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wishlists & Airmiles

So I have just been on the Chapters website updating my wishlist of books (3 pages worth!). I think it is great that they offer this service as it is a way for my family members to access a list of books I would like to have without worry that I will be given a duplicate of a book I already own. I encourage my family members (mom in particular) to go on the website and start a list of their own as well as I often find it difficult to choose books for other people - not everyone likes to read the same thing! The best part is: you don't even have to approach the recipient of the book to gain access to their wishlist - you simply go to the Chapters website and enter their email address to see their wishlist! It's that easy! Plus that means that you don't have to give away the fact that you're getting a book for someone for their birthday, Christmas, etc.

On that note, I have just started in on my third-to-last new book from Christmas. Once I've finished these, I should hopefully have enough Airmiles to get more! For those of you who are not Airmiles Collectors, I encourage you to look into that as well. Over the past two years, I doubt I have actually spent even $30 on books - instead, I redeem my Airmiles for a Chapters gift card and use that (either online or instore) to get my books. Since I shop at Safeway so often, it doesn't take long for the points to add up. It takes 365 points to get a $50 gift card - that can buy quite a few books (especially if they're in the "bargain" category). It makes it much cheaper for those of us who prefer to buy books rather than borrow them from the library.

Hope everyone is enjoying a good book on this cold day. Happy Reading!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Almost Spring!

We are finally nearing the end of Winter! I cannot express how happy I will be to see the snow gone and the sun shining more often! I hope, too, that I can get more reading in soon. It seems as though I hit a bit of a rough patch and was reading one un-inspiring book after another but that already seems to have turned around - I have a review still to do for Memoirs of a Geisha and I am currently reading (and thisclose to finishing) Wicked by Gregory Maguire and my hunger for books seems to have returned with a vengeance! These books are really good and I'm excited to get my reviews up for them soon. I have four books left to read from my Christmas "haul" and then I will get to shop for some new ones! All-in-all things are looking up and I've got lots of reading to look forward to!


HeidiHeidi by Johanna Spyri

Following the death of her parents, 5 year-old Heidi is brought up to live with the grandfather she has never known before. Her Aunt Dete makes the trek up the Alm with her to the hut where the "Alm-Uncle" lives, and where Heidi will now reside. Although the Alm-Uncle has a reputation in the town of Dorfli, at the base of the Alm, of being withdrawn and cruel, little Heidi quickly warms up to the old man and seeing her enthousiasm and innocent joy about the world around her, the Alm-Uncle cannot resist the changes that begin as the two of them create a life together. Heidi's world is suddenly changed with the reappearance of her Aunt Dete a few years later, summoning Heidi to Frankfurt to act as a companion for an invalid child. Stifled by the city and walls around her, Heidi feels torn between her new friend, Klara, and the Alm and grandfather she loves so dearly. Will she ever return to the fresh air and mountains she loves or will she be forever confined indoors, as is the fate of her disabled friend? And what is to become of the Alm-Uncle, left once more alone on top of the Alm?

This is such a wholesome, heartwarming story. It is a simple plot, and is filled with beautiful descriptions of Heidi's home and surroundings on the Alm.You cannot help but feel the joy that Heidi expresses for her home and surroundings and it is easy to warm up to her as the main character. This is an ideal novel for families to share and read together (note: although the story line is simple, the style of writing may be difficult for a child to interpret on their own). I can't remember if this is a novel that I read, or had read to me as a child, but it is one that I will be sure to share with my kids.

The Lucky One

The Lucky One 

The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks

When Logan Thibault finds a photograph of a woman during his time in the Marines stationed in Iraq, he thinks nothing of it. His best friend, Victor, however comes to realize that this photograph seems to bring Logan luck - helping him survive numerous bombings that kill man others in their group - and once the two finish their time in Iraq, Victor urges Logan to find the mysterious woman believing that Logan now owes her for the luck the photograph gave him. Walking from Colorado to Hampton, North Carolina, Logan finds himself on a wild goose chase to track down "E" - the woman in the photograph. When he finally meets Elizabeth, he is stunned by the attraction he feels to her and chooses to keep the story of the photograph a secret; that is, until Elizabeth's meddling ex-husband intervenes, determined not to let Logan interfere with his own plans for his ex-wife.

This was a really sweet story. I must admit that it isn't my favourite book by Nicholas Sparks (maybe a bit too predictable in parts), but as always it is well-written and filled with heart. One of my favourite things about this novel is that there is a dog involved (a German Shepherd named Zeus), and Elizabeth's Nana owns a dog kennel - and, of course, I'm simply biased when it comes to dogs! I really like the way the story played out; despite the predictability in parts, there were other sections that came as a surprise and I was really intrigued and shocked by the way it ended.

The book didn't take me long to finish - it would be a great read for a rainy day when you're stuck inside. It could easily be read in one sitting, and if I could have I would have preferred that. I couldn't wait to get back to the book and continue to where I had left off to see what would happen next. Nicholas Sparks has such an honest, hear-warming way of delivering a love-story, and keeps it real in that the story still has heartbreak, sadness, etc - all of which real-life love stories do. He is a very talented author and I always enjoy reading his novels, this one being no exception. Some of my other favourites of his novels include: The Guardian (also including a dog!), The Notebook, A Walk to Remember and The Wedding. You won't be disappointed by him, no matter which of his novels you choose to read!

Red Storm Rising

Red Storm RisingRed Storm Rising by Tom Clancy

Russia is facing an oil shortage after the destruction of their newest and largest refinery, which only adds to the deficit they were already experiencing from the lower-than-expected production from both Eastern Siberian fields. Faced with the grim facts that they may not have enough oil to support their country, the Politburo decides to take action. What ensues is a long, drawn-out battle between NATO forces and the Soviets, and only one side can win.

I hate to say it, but I really didn't enjoy this novel. I have read another of Tom Clancy's works (Without Remorse) so I was eager to try another, but I came out of this one very disappointed. Perhaps it is only that I found it very hard to follow the story - it bounces back and forth not only between NATO (mainly American) and Soviet forces, but also between frigates to submarines to helicopters to land, etc. Keeping track of Commander so-and-so in charge of such-and-such Submarine, and Comrade something-something head of [enter strange acronym here] got very confusing for me and I think that was the biggest discouragement when it came to reading this novel. I am embarrassed to admit that this 725-page novel took me about a month to finish. I had no motivation to keep picking it up and reading it, although I readily admit that there were parts that I was really eager to read more about (namely the brief parts following Mike Edwards who was leading a small group of men on Iceland) but they were few and far between.

Despite the fact that I didn't enjoy this novel as much as I had hoped, Without Remorse was so well written and is a story I still recall often that I would be willing to give another of Tom Clancy's novels a go - perhaps one that isn't quite so war based. If I had to recommend this novel to anyone, I'm sure it goes without saying that men would definitely enjoy this novel and perhaps there are women out there who are able to follow all the military titles and acronyms and weapon names easier than I did.

One September Morning

One September Morning

One September Morning by Rosalind Noonan
What would you do if you received word that your husband was killed in the line of duty, but the events surrounding his death seemed suspicious? This, sadly, was the fate of Abby Stanton. After begrudgingly becoming a military wife when her husband, John, gave up his career as a football player for the Seattle Seahaws to enlist in the Army, Abby could never have imagined that her husband would be taken away from her so soon after. But when no one could answer her questions about how, exactly, her husband had died Abby's suspicions grew and she endeavoured to get to the bottom of it all. Soon Abby would learn of the terrible plot concocted by a member of John's own platoon, a plan that would create a gap in Abby's life, which he would be all too happy to fill.

One September Morning was a fantastic book! It was suspenseful and thrilling and kept me turning pages as fast as I could get them read. I always enjoy stories which invite readers to solve a mystery along with the main character. Rosalind Noonan creates such a dark, twisted antagonist that you will still get shivers long after putting this book down. This is a novel that I would happily re-read and one that I eagerly recommend to anyone looking for a good mystery-fiction novel. Of course, due to content I would suggest this novel for older readers (say, late teens onwards). A must-read!

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: A NovelThe Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

When Rose Eidelstein turned nine, she discovered she had a certain talent - she was able to taste feelings in food. Rose would eat a sandwich shared with her by one of her classmates and taste her friend's depression; she could eat a bakery cookie and feel the rage the cook had experienced. Food began to scare Rose, to the point where she would subsist mainly on vending machine snacks and junk food - things made in a factory, which meant that they had no feelings in them. Over the years, Rose learned to hone her skill and was able to discern between a milk cow in Fresno versus one from San Diego. Rose never shared the knowledge of her gift with her family, not even when she discovered a secret her mother was hiding from all of them. Rose later learns that she isn't the only one in her family with special gift.

Well that was disappointing! Perhaps I have just missed some underlying hidden meanings? Or subtle nuances? This novel didn't take long to read - could be done in one day, one sitting if you have the time to dedicate to it... although I would highly suggest spending that time reading something better. I never like giving negative reviews to novels, and usually I am able to find a positive thing to say...this is an exception. Although the idea of the story has promise, the delivery fell short. By far. One of the main things I disliked was the lack of quotation marks to separate speech from narrative. The spoken portions weren't even italicized or made distinct in any way, so at times it became difficult to understand what was spoken versus what was thought by any particular character, and what was simply narrative.

I almost feel let down by this novel. I had read the overview on the cover and was immediately drawn to read the book - a mix of fiction with a bit of fantasy. I never ended up feeling drawn to any of the characters, and there were some parts (ie: Joseph's gift) that I didn't fully understand even once I had finished reading the book. Again, perhaps I missed subtle clues and hints along the way, but it's just as likely that I missed something obvious in my hurry to finish the book since I wasn't very invested in it from the get-go. Unfortunately this novel left me with a bad taste in my mouth, and I won't be rushing out to read other works by this author, and it goes without saying that I won't be recommending this book at all.

Sing Them Home

Sing Them Home: A NovelSing Them Home by Stephanie Kallos

Three children's lives are dramatically altered after the disappearance of their mother, Hope Jones, following the tornado of 1978. Bonnie, the youngest of the three, was also caught up in the tornade but managed to land square on the roots of an upturned tree...sitting on her bicycle. Now the Jones children have grown up and are leading very different lives from one another; but when disaster strikes again the three of them will feel separate pulls drawing them back to the community of Emlyn Springs, where they once called home.

I found this novel readlly hard to get into, and once I was fairly far in the story, I regret to admit that I found it easy to put down. That's not to say that it didn't give me something to think about in the "off-time" (when I'm not reading), but it wasn't a book that I hurried back to pick up and finish. I think some of that can be attributed to the fact that I found a lot of the story redundant. Another reason is that it seemed as though the author began to explore certain ideas (ie: the dead mothers and dead fathers of Emlyn Springs mentioned in the opening of the novel) but failed to go all the way and stay consistent with that leaving the reader to wonder why it was bothered to be mentioned at all. I won't call this novel "bad", as it was an interesting plot and the characters seemed real enough, but on the flip side, I also won't call this novel "great". It was good. That's it. To put it in a different way: I had borrowed this novel to read, and wouldn't bother asking to borrow it again for a re-read. That being said, I'd like to give this author another chance by checking out another of her works - I just hope the editor of her other novels was a bit more careful, as I was able to find several grammer and spelling errors in this book (but who's perfect?). So although I wouldn't recommend this novel, I do recommend that you use your own judgement and read it if it strikes you as interesting!

Picture Perfect

Picture PerfectPicture Perfect by Jodi Picoult

As if waking up in a cemetery isn't strange enough, Cassandra Barrett has no idea why she has a large gash on her forehead... or where she lives, for that matter. Suffering from mild amnesia, Cassie has no idea who she is or why she was in a cemetary, but with the help of the new police officer in town, Will, Cassie soon learns that she lives a life she couldn't have imagined possible - she is the wife of Hollywood heartthrob Alex Rivers. Trying to fit back into her life proves more difficult than she expected, especially when her memory starts coming back in bits and pieces until she finally remembers what she had been running from that led her into the cemetary that night.

This was a good novel, admittedly not my favourite Jodi Picoult novel, but it was still a very well written story. One thing I quite liked was the slight variance from her usual style - there were no courtroom scenes. It made for a nice change of pace. I must say, of all the novels I've read by Jodi Picoult, I found that I didn't connect with these characters as much as I have with the characters in her other novels. I disliked Alex right from the start, and although that may have been her intent, I wasn't really keen on the "good guy", Will, either. This would be the only Jodi Picoult novel that I won't re-read, and the only one I wouldn't recommend to anyone else.

About Time!

So I am finally getting more reviews posted! I've had several ready to go, but time seems to slip away from me constantly and next thing I know its been almost a month since the last review post... for shame! So without further delay, here they are...

Sunday, January 02, 2011

List of Books Read in 2010

Here is my list from the past year. Unfortunately I was far from my goal of 5 books per month on average, but there's always the next year! So here is the list, once again the books are listed in the order they were read:

January - 5 books total
  • Shaman's Crossing by Robin Hobb
  • The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  • Chalktown by Melinda Haynes
  • Black Tuesday by Susan Colebank
  • Songs of the Humpback Whale by Jodi Picoult
February - 2 books total
  • The Palace of Strange Girls by Sallie Day
  • Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
March - 6 books total
  • Between Mountains by Maggie Helwig
  • Dear John by Nicholas Sparks
  • Living to Tell the Tale by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity by Kerry Cohen
  • Man Walks Into a Room by Nicole Krauss
  • Thanks for the Memories by Cecelia Ahern
April - 2 books total
  • The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
May - 2 books total
  • The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Without Remorse by Tom Clancy
June - 5 books total
  • Deception by Denise Mina
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  • Altar Ego by Kathy Lette
  • Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult
  • Mercy by Jodi Picoult
July - 2 books total
  • Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult
  • Three Weeks with My Brother by Nicholas and Micah Sparks
August - 3 books total
  • The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
  • Perfect Match by Jodi Picoult
September - 8 books total
  • Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult
  • The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (this is the point at which I started this blog!)
  • Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  • Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  • But Inside I'm Screaming by Elizabeth Flock
  • More Than It Hurts You by Darin Strauss
  • The Wicked, Wicked Ladies in the Haunted House by Mary Chase
October - 5 books total
  • Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
  • The Pact by Jodi Picoult
  • If You Could See Me Now by Cecelia Ahern
  • Sleepwalking in Daylight by Elizabeth Flock
  • Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult
November - 2 books total
  • Picture Perfect by Jodi Picoult
  • Sing Them Home by Stephanie Kallos
December - 2 books total
  • The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
  • One September Morning by Rosalind Noonan

List of Books Read in 2009

So here is my list of books I read in 2009, the year I decided to start challenging myself to read more by setting a goal for myself. That year I was hoping to average 4 books a month, and ended up with a total of 54 books, which works out to 4.5 books per month on average. Here is the list arranged by month (and the books are listed in the order that I read them):

January - 8 books total
  • Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (my third time reading it)
  • New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
  • Port Mungo by Patrick McGrath
  • The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk-Kidd
  • P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern
  • The Buenos Aires Broken Hearts Club by Jessica Morrison
  • The Cellist of Sarajevo by Stephen Galloway
  • Marley & Me by John Grogan
February - 5 books total
  • She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb
  • Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
  • Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult
  • Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
  • The Host by Stephenie Meyer
March - 2 books total
  • Luck by Joan Barfoot
  • Electric God by Catherine Ryan Hyde
April - 1 book total
  • A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon
May - 6 books total
  • At First Sight by Nicholas Sparks
  • A Complicated Kindness by Mariam Toews
  • In the Palace of Repose by Holly Phillips
  • All Times Have Been Modern by Elisabeth Harvor
  • The Tender Years by Janette Oke
  • Return to Harmony by Janette Oke
June - 7 books total
  • Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • The Holding by Marilyn Simonds
  • The Matchmakers by Janette Oke
  • The Measure of a Heart by Janette Oke
  • River, Cross My Heart by Breena Clarke
  • My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
  • Good Grief by Lolly Winston
July - 3 books total
  • Under the Lilacs by Kory Shillam
  • A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
  • The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult
August - 3 books total
  • When the Finch Rises by Jack Riggs
  • Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult
  • The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
September - 1 book total
  • Firethorn by Sarah Micklem
October - 8 books total
  • Diablo: Legacy of Blood by Richard A. Knaak
  • Second Glance by Jodi Picoult
  • Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
  • Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris
  • Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
  • Still Alice by Lisa Genova
  • Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult
  • Merle's Door by Ted Kerasote
November - 8 books total
  • Club Dead by Charlaine Harris
  • Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris
  • Making Friends with Hitler by Ian Kershaw
  • White Crosses by Larry Watson
  • Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris
  • Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris
  • All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris
  • From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris
December - 2 books total
  • An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon
  • Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy New Year!

So 2011 is now upon us, and I am SO behind on my posts! I have several reviews ready to go, but haven't had a chance to get them posted here yet, so I will do my best to get that done in the next couple of days. I will also be posting my list of "Books Read in 2010" and announcing my reading goal for the new year.

I hope everyone enjoyed themselves last night and celebrated with loved ones. Check back soon to see the new posts! Happy New Year & Happy Reading!