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

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!