Note about my Reviews

Dear Authors: The reviews in this blog are only personal opinions. I have absolutely no background in literature, writing or reviewing. I am a Librarian (actually a Library Technician for those who care OR know the difference) with a love for a good story. The opinions in the reviews are ONLY my OPINIONS. I am not commenting on the writers ability since well -- I am not a writer and never will be. If you are the author of any of the books reviewed here, my opinion is just that and not a judgment against you!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Mom and Me Mondays: You by Stephen Michael King

You (Post January 31st)
by Stephen Michael King
Scholastic Canada
ISBN: 978-1-4431-0722-8
Suggested Age: 0 - 2
Release Date: February 1, 2011

Description: A new title from one of Australia's leading author-illustrators, Stephen Michael King. A beautiful, affirming story for every family! The perfect book to share with a child, parent, friend, or any special person in your life, You is a simple yet extremely touching story about how it is the people we love who make the world a beautiful place.

Jake's Review: This book is for babies but its kinda cute.  I think its more for mommies because they like that mushy stuff.  I would like the illustrations to be done on the whole page, not just the little bit on each page. I also think there should be more words -- but I guess that is why the book is for little guys like my dumb brother who cannot speak much.

Jake's Rating: 7/10

Jesse's Review (done in mommy words): Likes to look at the cover and will let me read him a couple of pages and than he takes off. That is pretty good for Jesse as he is an anti book type of kid.  I think he would really like this type of art if it was of something of interest to him like sports, cars -- or even better diggers.  I cannot tell you what he thought of the whole story -- because -- um -- he wouldn't let me finish reading it. 

Mom's Review: I adored the art in this one. So sweet and beautiful and I think will really appeal to little girls  - I know its sexist, but I have 2 boys and they tend to gravitate towards more bold and colourful. That being said I think little ones will enjoy the simple touching story and the cute little pictures.  I will be passing it on to my friend Pam because I think her little girls will like it.

Mom's Rating: 8.5/10

We received this from Scholastic in exchange for an honest review

Friday, January 28, 2011

Nocturne by Syrie James: Book Review

by Syrie James
Vanguard Press
ISBN: 978-1-59315-628-2

Description: When Nicole Whitcombs car runs off a Colorado mountain road during a blinding snowstorm, she is saved from death by a handsome, fascinating, and enigmatic stranger. Snowbound with him for days in his beautiful home high in the Rockies, she finds herself powerfully attracted to him and soon comes to realize that the feeling is mutual. But there are things about him that mystify her, filling her with apprehensionand Nicole cant shake the feeling that he doesnt want her there.

Who is Michael Tyler? Why does he live alone in such a secluded spot and guard his private life so carefully? What secretor secretsis he hiding?

Nicole has secrets of her own and a past she is running frombut Michael understands her better than anyone she has ever known. Soon, she is falling as deeply in love with him as he is with her. But as the sexual tension between them builds, the clues mount up. When Nicole learns the terrifying truththat her host is an ages-old vampire who is torn between his love for her and his desire for her bloodtheres nowhere for her to run but into the blizzard raging outside, and hes the only one who can save her life.

The Good Stuff
  • Beautiful descriptions of the setting make you feel you are right at Michael's home in the middle of a blizzard. Author's talent really shines when she writes about the house, Michael's past, the landscape and the house. I could get lost in her descriptions of the scenery -- kept looking outside and hoped it would start snowing
  • Love the scenes with the horses
  • Interesting take on a Vampire love story
  • Surprise ending wasn't what I expected and actually liked the ending
  • A good beach read
  • Liked the idea that the Vampire was an author
  • Cover is beautiful
  • Vamp has an awesome library!!!!
The Not so Good Stuff
  • Way too mushy and romantic for my taste
  • Felt like there was something missing, I have enjoyed Syrie's works before, but something about this one left me a little disappointed
  • Honestly it just felt like it would have been better as a regular romance instead of a paranormal romance it probably would have worked better
  • I just didn't buy that Nicole was all that tortured about what happened in her past
  • Liked Michael but found Nicole to be rather stupid for a supposedly educated women
  • I hated the scene with the poor mountain lions
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"I love children. I always have. They have so much energy and enthusiasm, and such a vivid sense of imagination. Don't you think? To them, the whole world is an exciting place full of wonders just waiting to be discovered."

What I Learned
  • Lots of stuff about horses
Who should/shouldn't read
  • Those who enjoy sad romantic love stories
  • Those who enjoy paranormal romances might be a little disappointed in this one
3 Dewey's

I received this from in exchange for an honest review --Sorry Syrie if you read this, I have enjoyed your previous novels, but this one just didn't do it for me.  Don't take it personal I just don't like the sappy romance (Not that it's a bad thing, just not my thing)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Try Something New Contest

Over the past year that I have been reviewing books and blogging about them, I have discovered a whole bunch of wonderful books, that I would never have picked up in the first place. 

Since I like to pass on the love and encourage you all to try reading something outside your usual comfort zone, I am going to have a quick contest. 

The Prizes

1st Prize - 1st choice of book ordered from The Book Depository
2nd Prize - 2nd choice of book ordered from The Book Depository
3rd Prize - Yup that's right 3rd of choice of book ordered from The Book Depository

Book Choices (Click on link to my review of the book)

Don't be Afraid
Everything is Going to be Great
It Could be Worse You Could be Me
Motorcycles and Sweetgrass
The Atheists Guide to Christmas
The Book of Tomorrow
You are Not Here

All you have to do is be a follower (If I get more followers, maybe publishers will offer to host some contests here) and in the comment field put your 3 top choices from the list of Books. That's it - easy pesey! Please include your email so I can contact you if you win.

Open to wherever Book Depository ships to
End February 2nd (have to end it before I go to the OLA conference and get all behind again)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Atheist's Guide to Christmas: Edited by Robin Harvie & Stephanie Meyers: Book Review

I think it is very important that I give you a warning and some background before you get to  my review of this book.  I am not an Atheist, but I am also not an organized religion type of girl and I also grew up in a family that weren't very religious.  My Father was raised Salvation Army and many of his relatives also follow the B'hai religion.  My Mom was raised United but didn't attend church much growing up.  The only time our family went to Church was for weddings, funerals and way too many bazaars to mention (my mom was a serious crafter).  We were raised to respect others beliefs, to help others less fortunate than ourselves, and just to be kind generous people without being told we had to do it or God was going to be pissed off and send us toHell.  I know my Dad believed in God, but was against organized religion of any kind. He was very vocal in saying that we all had the right to believe what we wanted, but it was wrong to force our opinions on others.

So I pretty much lived the way he lived.  I believe in God, but honestly its more  like Mulder, in that I want to believe rather than I actually do.  Both of my Parents are dead, so it is very comforting to think that they are in Heaven watching over me, and quite frankly getting a laugh over all the trouble my kids give me (because they know I totally deserve it). I'm also a parent so I want there to be a Heaven so that when I die I can still watch over them (and probably lmao when their kids torture them). I also like to believe in a gentle God who obviously has a weird sense of humour, and who is totally ok with my views on him.  A lot of my healthy skepticism about God comes  from history, not to mention science. Look at all the wars that have happened in Gods name (or Allah, etc) -- and quite frankly if God approves of that, well than I would rather go to Hell than to Heaven (and laugh with the sinners like Billy Joel). Also, I have spent many a day at Sick Kids in Toronto and to seen so many innocent children suffering ,so it makes it hard to believe that a God could sit around and watch that happen.  And finally I'm sort of pissed at him for taking my Dad away far too early, the world needs more men like my Dad and my kids never got the chance to meet him.

I am sorry if my opinions offend anyone, but they are my opinions and I think important to know before you read.

The Atheist's Guide to Christmas
Various Authors
Edited by Robin Harvie and Stephanie Meyers
ISBN: 978-0-06-199797-6

Description: If you're an atheist, you don't believe in the three wise men, so this Christmas, we bring you not three, but forty-two wise men and women, bearing gifts of comedy, science, philosophy, the arts, and knowledge. What does it feel like to be born on Christmas day? How can you most effectively use lights to make your house visible from space? And where can you listen to the echoes of the Big Bang on December 25? The Atheist's Guide to Christmas answers all these questions and more:

Richard Dawkins tells an original Christmas story.Phil Plait fact-checks the Star of Bethlehem. Neal Pollack teaches his family a lesson on holiday spirit. >Simon Singh offers a very special scientific experiment.Simon le Bon loses his faith (but keeps church music). AC Grayling explains how to have a truly happy Christmas.

Plus thirty-six other brilliant, funny, free-thinking pieces perfect for anyone who doesn't think of holidays as holy days.  All author advances and royalties for The Atheist's Guide to Christmas will go to Terrence Higgins Trust.

The Good Stuff

  • Ed Byrne's essay is hilarious and has a wonderful point about having a moratorium on any holiday advertising before mid-November
  • Catie Wilkins essay was wonderful, loved the fact that she sent a letter to both God and the Devil
  • Many of the essays are very wise on the spirit of Christmas
  • One of the essays mentions Buffy  (David Baddiel and Arvind Ethan David)
  • Absolutely fascinating essay on the star of Bethlehem
  • Loved the conversation between and Adam Ruthorford and God in Adam's essay
  • David Stubbs essay was hilaious and his comments about all the ands in the bible are right on the money
  • Atheist Barbie - trust me - worth the price of the book
  • Sian Berry's green suggestions are brilliant and not at all preachy
  • Charlie Brookers essay on laughter is just plain wonderful
The Not so Good Stuff

  • The essays from a science point of view are way over my head
  • Some of the essays are a little boring

Favorite Quotes/Passages

"I find him in the bedroom with the lovely Nativity book his devout -and devoted-granny has sent him (even though he hasn't been baptized and thus is slightly damned and stuff), agruing with his friend Freya."
(Jenny Colgan)

"I appreciate all that my mother and my grandmother tried to do. They can't be held responsible for my failed childhood birthdays-they were up against eons of ritual and tradition. Still, if I'd been alive in the fourth century, I could have been sacrificed by pagans, so perhaps I should count my proverbial blessings and be happy that all I had to deal with was losing my birthday to a holiday. It could clearly have been much worse."
(Emery Emery)

"Keen scholars of Judaism (or readers of the beginning of this piece) will know that, as well as the whole pig issue, dairy products and meat products must be kept separate. So, for example, if you're eating a meat-based bolognaise sauce on pasta, you couldn't put cheese on it to make it, well, nice. Cheeseburgers are out too, because they are nice. Esentially the Jewish  God hates the delicious." (Matt Kirshen)

"I've never believed in God, but I've never wanted to prevent anyone else from doing so" (Andrew Mueller)

What I Learned

  • Atheist's are extremely accepting of all and really frickin funny
  • Most Atheists love Christmas
  • A lot about the Big Bang Theory and its written in an easy to read and understand way
Who should/shouldn't read
  • This is NOT a book for those who are sensitive about religion in any way
  • Perfect for those who have a dry sense of humour
  • My family who will really enjoy and will lead to some interesting and hilarious conversations
  • Dad you would have loved it -- Miss ya! (Tell Mom to stop laughing when Jesse gives me a hard time - I wasn't that bad!)

4.5 Dewey's

I received this from HarperPerennial in exchange for an honest review

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Don't Be Afraid by Steven Hayward: Book Review

I have to be honest, was looking forward to  and dreading to read this one.  I went to High School with Steven and he was super intelligent, so I was worried that his writing would be over my head or worse depressing and dull.  I didn't know him to well even though we hung in the same group for a while.  But let me tell you if I knew he could write like this I would have had a crush on him instead of Michael (now known as Tobias) Tinker.

Don't Be Afraid
by Steven Hayward
Alfred A. Knopf Canada (Random House Canada)
ISBN: 978-0-676-97736-3
Published: January 25, 2011

Description: Hayward's darkly comic novel of adolescent anxiety reveals an unforgettable family caught in a state of mourning.  Meet Jim Morrison--not the lead singer of the Doors who died a rock 'n' roll death in 1971, but a chubby seventeen-year-old living in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, who was born days after the singer's death. Jim, or Jimmy, as most people call him, has been living a largely invisible life, overshadowed by his older brother, Mike, popular and charismatic, and his father, Fort, a stern and unyielding engineer. Jimmy spends his time avoiding gym, transforming his uneventful days into scenes from his favourite movies and occasionally going on banana diets (special banana carrier required).

But everything changes the night the library explodes, with pieces of books and catalogue cards falling like snow from the dark sky. Jimmy is first on the scene with his father and it's soon clear that Mike had been in the library when it exploded, possibly meeting a girlfriend after hours. Mike's death upends the Morrisons' suburban life and any sense of normalcy is destroyed. Their mother, Filomena, is nearly catatonic with shock, and Jimmy must become his much younger brother's nanny, taking him to preschool every day and uncomfortably hanging out with a gang of mothers, watching them breastfeed and talking about peanut allergies. Life gets even more surreal. The cause of the library explosion remains mysterious, and Jimmy tries to help his father unofficially gather evidence at the site. Add to this his duties surrounding his mother's idea to have a birthday party for his dead brother, and Jimmy finds himself busier and, bizarrely, happier than he's ever been.  With generous humour and characteristic energy, Steven Hayward weaves a story of the undercurrents of family life and the unpredictable ways our paths can unfold.

The Good Stuff
  • As the description states so beautifully and bang on - This IS a "darkly comic novel" that deals with family members separately lost in their own grief
  • Extremely darkly funny, my type of  novel
  • Steven really understands how grief affects us all so differently and when something tragic happens how it affects the family as a unit
  • Loved that he gives the History and Geography Teacher the names of our respective teachers at Richmond Hill High School (BTW, they were both OUTSTANDING teachers)
  • Description of the library brings back memories of my old public library - man I miss card catalogs
  • The discussion about the James James poem is hilarious - sort of reminds me of some of the conversations around our dinner table
  • Mentions the town of South Porcupine in Northern Ontario where we drove through every year when visiting my mom's family
  • Loved the scenes with the mommies from the daycare because they are so very true to life. Trust me I'm a Mom
  • Wonderful witty writing and just real and honest -- my review cannot not due this book justice, just go buy the damn think ok
The Not so Good Stuff
  • The character of Vivian isn't very strongly developed in my opinion, I wanted to hear more of her voice
  • A Library is blown up -- hmm a little sensitive about that since - well - I'm a Librarian and work in a library : )
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"I call Mike my dead brother because he is, and so there won't be any weirdness later. Otherwise there'd be this awkward moment when you'd have to nod and say how sorry you are, just like you'd done if you'd been at the funeral home and had to stand there with me in front of Mike's casket. I'd thank you for being sorry, and maybe you'd say it again, say how really sorry you were, but eventually you'd walk away, leaving me there while you took off somewhere else, anywhere else, relieved it's not you in the middle of this, that it's my dead brother in that coffin, not yours."

"It didn't even look like she could hear us but I guess she might have caught on to the fact that what was happening was the mothering equivalent of having her driver's license revoked."

"I've come to think of the mothers of the other children as the Mothers, like they're a street gang with a ringleader, a bunch of henchmen and also a couple of loser sidekick characters who you know are going to end up being killed early in the movie because of a botched robbery."

"It's libraries, she maintained, that show us what heaven will be like. Look at these books, she'd say, how can there be so many books and no eternity in which to read them."

"I don't want a gun. In the country I'm from"-this was one of my father's favorite things to do, to refer to Canada as if it were a distant other world in the far reaches of the galaxy - "we don't have guns."

What I Learned
  • Damn, who knew the boy I mostly remember for singing Rock and Roll,  Hoochie Coo in those tight spandex pants(sorry Steve when I think of you that is the outfit I remember the most) could write something so outstanding
  • Some facts about Jim Morrison that I never knew
Who should/shouldn't read
  • For those who enjoy dark comedies
  • Anyone who grew up in the 80's (especially Richmond Hill in the 80's) will enjoy
  • Fans of Mordecai Richler will appreciate Hayward's writing
  • Honestly I think pretty much anyone could find something to enjoy  in this one
4.5 Dewey's

I received this book from Random House in exchange for an honest review

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mom and Me Monday's: Quest for the Spark #1 (Bone) by Tom Sniegoski and Jeff Smith

Quest for the Spark #1 (Bone)
byTom Sniegoski
Illustrated by Jeff Smith
Graphix (Scholastic)
ISBN: 9780545141024
Suggested Ages: 9-12
Published: February 1, 2011

Description: A return to the enthralling world of BONE with book one in this gripping spin-off novel trilogy, illustrated in four-color!

Twelve-year-old Tom Elm is just an ordinary turnip farmer from the Valley, but he's always felt destined for something bigger. So when he discovers everyone in his village is asleep and plagued by nightmares, he assembles a band of unlikely heroes. They must fight to preserve the Spark--a divine light born at the core of a vast, dark nothingness called the Nacht. The Nacht is trying to permeate the Waking World with nightmares of the Dreaming, and it's Tom's mission to defeat the Nacht and its most loyal follower, the Constable. If he fails, his family--and everyone--might never wake up again.

Jake's Review:  Mom this is awesome, I really like the new story. I miss hearing about the other Bone guys, but these new characters are interesting too.  I really didn't like the dead rat (that's my boy) but everything else was pretty cool. Some of it was a little scary for me though and I wished there were more pictures, like in the original series.  I can't wait to read the rest of the series -- when are they coming out -- what do you mean you don't know -- some Librarian you are (mom's note: no I did not slap him upside the head after that comment, but I thought about it).  Some of the story was really funny and I liked how the story put funny stuff in after the scary parts, it helped me get my mind off the scary stuff.  The pictures are so cool, I wish there were more of them.
Jake's Rating: 9/10

Mom's Review: O.K, I would just like to start off by saying that the dead rat really grossed me out and probably resulted in me giving this the rating I did.  But this book isn't written for Mom's so I should really let it go, but ewwww!  This is an excellent book for reluctant readers and kids like Jake who are fantastic readers but miss having books with pictures in them.  A very creative storyline and good moral lessons will also appeal to Mom's, Dad's and Librarian's. This is a delightful addiction to the Bone world with the introduction of  new fun and likeable characters, while at the same time bringing back or mentioning well loved Bone characters.    But I'm warning you there is icky stuff involving a a dead rat that just grossed me out and freaked out Jake a little.
Mom's Rating: 8/10

We received this from Scholastic in exchange for an honest review (which Jake thinks makes me an awesome Mom -- but shhh don't tell his friends he said that)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

In My Mailbox

For Review
From HarperPerennial

From HarperCollins

From HarperCollins

From Vanguard Press

From a FreshFiction Contest - Shakespeare & Austen action figures will now go beside my Shushing Librarian
Won a $25 Giftcard for Amazon from I Heart Chocolate and this is what I purchased - I LOVE Dr Horrible & Paranormalcy was one of my favorite books from last year

From the totally hilarious Cammy at indigogreenroom on Twitter - Follow him - TRUST ME!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern: Book Review

The Book of Tomorrow
by Cecelia Ahern
ISBN: 978-0-06-170630-1
Publishing Date: January 25, 2011

Description: The magical new novel from number one bestseller Cecelia Ahern. Tamara Goodwin has always got everything she's ever wanted. Born into a family of wealth, she grew up in a mansion with its own private beach, a wardrobe full of designer clothes and all that a girl could ever wish for. She's always lived in the here and now, never giving a second thought to tomorrow. But then suddenly her dad is gone and life for Tamara and her mother changes forever. Left with a mountain of debt, they have no choice but to sell everything they own and move to the country. Nestled next to Kilsaney Castle, their gatehouse is a world away from Tamara's childhood. With her mother shut away with grief, and her aunt busy tending to her, Tamara is lonely and bored and longs to return to Dublin.When a travelling library passes through Kilsaney Demesne, Tamara is intrigued. Her eyes rest on a mysterious large leather bound tome locked with a gold clasp and padlock. What she discovers within the pages takes her breath away and shakes her world to its core

The Good Stuff
  • Quirky Irish humour -- reminds me so much of hanging with my Irish neighbor
  • Intriguing opening chapters, grabs your attention and never lets go -- trust me I stayed up till 1am to finish the book. Read it on one day!
  • Hilariously funny yet touching and sweet 
  • Loved the Nuns (especially Sister Ignatius) I'd become Catholic if they were real
  • Tamara is such a wonderful, fun, interesting and all too human.  What is so fascinating is that she is really understanding how shallow her earlier life was and she tries very hard to change, but doesn't always do it the right way -- you know typical teenager ; )
  • There is a Castle and well I just like things with Castles 
  • Intriguing mystery that slowly unfolds and keeps you guessing 
  • Simply just a good story to enjoy while tucked under a nice soft blanket or lying on the beach or at the cottage
The Not so Good Stuff
  • I had to stay up till 1am to finish the damn book
  • Was a little confusing at times -- than again I have been home with a sick toddler for 3 days so I wouldn't necessarily take my word for this
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"And than I felt sorry for God because I understood how it must be frustrating for him.  He offers people a helping hand, but it often gets pushed away. People always want to help themselves first."

"After the Norman psycho, various lords and ladies lived in the castle.  They built stables and outhouses around the place.  Controversially one lord even converted to Catholicism after marrying a Catholic, and built a chapel there as a treat for the family.  Me and Mom got a swimming pool as our treat, but to each his own."

 "I used to think that it was better to have too much than too little, but now I think if the too much was never supposed to be yours, you should just take what you need and give the rest back.  That way, you never have to give back the things you love."

What I Learned
  • Some interesting Irish history
  • Nuns are a lot cooler than I have previously thought
Who should/shouldn't read
  • This is pretty good for everyone.  I would say probably 12 and up due to some sexuality
  • Lovers of Irish fiction, obviously will enjoy
  • Obviously I am passing this on for Joan to read (She's the Irish neighbor and usually my books go to her daughter, but this one is for both of them) maybe she will make me some of her yummy Irish tea hint hint!
4.5 Dewey's

I received this from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review

HarperCollins ise currently offering a low price e-book edition of one of Cecelia Ahern's backlist titles, THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES.  Its being offered at $1.99 through all major retailers, and it includes an excerpt from the new book.  The price goes back up to $9.99 on 1/25.

If youre interested, you can find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Sony, the Apple iBookstore (just search for THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES and it comes right up), and other e-book retail sites. - FYI I couldn't find any Canadian options fellow Canucks - sorry!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Death and Life of Charlie St Cloud by Ben Sherwood: Mini Book Review (ebook)

The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud

by Ben Sherwood
Random House
ISBN: 9780553383256

Description: The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud tells the haunting story of a young man who narrowly survives a terrible car wreck that kills his little brother. Years later, the brothers bond remains so strong that it transcends the normal boundaries separating life and death. Charlie St. Cloud lives in a snug New England fishing village. By day he tends the lawns and monument...moreThe Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud tells the haunting story of a young man who narrowly survives a terrible car wreck that kills his little brother. Years later, the brothers bond remains so strong that it transcends the normal boundaries separating life and death. Charlie St. Cloud lives in a snug New England fishing village. By day he tends the lawns and monuments of the ancient cemetery where his younger brother, Sam, is buried. Graced with an extraordinary gift after surviving the accident, he can still see, talk, and even play catch with Sams spirit. But townsfolk whisper that Charlie has never recovered from his loss.

Into his carefully ordered life comes Tess Carroll, a captivating, adventuresome woman training for a solo sailing trip around the globe. Fate steers her boat into a treacherous storm that blows her back to harbor, to a charged encounter with Charlie, and to a surprise more overwhelming than the violent sea itself. Charlie and Tess discover a beautiful and uncommon connection that leads to a race against time and a desperate choice between death and life, between the past and the future, between holding on and letting go.

Luminous, soulful, and filled with unforgettable characters, The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud is one of those rare, wise books that reveal the mysteries of the unseen world around us, gently transforming the worst pain of loss into hope, healing, and even laughter. Suspenseful and deeply moving, its startling climax reminds us that sometimes tragedies can bring about miracles if we simply open our hearts

Mini Review: Warning -- have a hanky when you are reading this. I am a sucker for these types of books since I am such an emotional girl.  Absolutely beautiful and hopeful to read even considering the subject matter. It's the sort of book that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy without being schmaltzy, I think its a great book for both men and women, and if my husband liked to read, I think he would enjoy this.  I also hope my 2 boys will develop a close relationship as the brothers do in the book -- without the whole death thing of course.  I really enjoyed the idea that when you dream of dead loved ones, they are actually almost visiting you in a dream. Both my Mom and Dad are gone and I dream of them often, so I find this very comforting. My only problem when reading this was because of the movie. I haven't seen the movie but I have seen the posters with Zac Efron (Spoiler alert) and the scene where the characters have sex all I can imagine is little Zac having sex and that is just creepy -- he's just a boy. OK, I'm 40 and I'm a Mom, he's a little boy to me.  It's a perfect read for a cold winter's night all wrapped up in a soft blanket with a warm tea (OK or booze) and just can just lose yourself in the story.   Those who enjoy Nicholas Sparks will enjoy this, not as schmaltzy as some of Sparks works, but it has that same romantic and hopeful feel to it.  All reminds me a little of Mitch Albom's The Five People You Meet in Heaven, which I just adored.  Go Buy It -- this will definitely be a keeper for me


"We all shine on. You just have to release your hearts, alert your senses, and pay attention. A leaf, a star, a song, a laugh. Notice all the little things, because somebody is reaching out to you."

"That is the inescapable math of tragedy and the multiplication of grief. Too many good people die a little when they lose someone they love. One death begets two or twenty or one hundred. It is the same all over the world."

4.5 Dewey's
I ordered my copy from Kobo I read this as part of my ebook challenge and also wanted you guys to know about it since I enjoyed it so much

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Incendiary by Chris Cleave: Book Review

Before I get to this review, I just thought I would let you know that I was dreading reading this. First of all a child dies, and I have a hard time reading books where anything bad happens to children Ive got 2 kids, it makes me think of them. Even before I had kids I had a hard time reading this sort of thing, because it usually ended with me crying like a baby. Second of all it has to do with a horrendous act of terrorism very close to 9/11 (My oldest son Jake was born on this date btw) and the July 5, 2005 attack on London. This brings up so many emotions and feelings that I have a hard time expressing. It makes me feel hate & I really dont want to feel that. But the Random House rep pleaded to give it a chance and I am not good at saying no, so I gave it a chance and I am glad I did.

Also must mention I am typing this up at 1am since my youngest fell off his chair and banged his head really hard on the tile floor so I have to wake him up every hour to make sure he doesnt have a concussion. Bad timing on his part I have to say, I am already emotional after reading this book and I may have overreacted when he fell and I dragged him right away to the walk in clinic. So sorry if any of this doesnt make sense or is overly emotional!

By Chris Cleave
Anchor Canada (Random House)
ISBN: 978-0-385-67129-3
Publication Date: January 11, 2011

Description: A distraught woman writes a letter to Osama bin Laden after her four-year-old son and her husband are killed in a massive suicide bomb attack at a soccer match in London. In an emotionally raw voice alive with grief, compassion, and startling humor, she tries to convince Osama to abandon his terror campaign by revealing to him the desperate sadness - "I am a woman built on the wreckage of myself" - and the broken heart of a working-class life blown apart." But the bombing is only the beginning. While security measures transform London into a virtual occupied territory, the narrator, too, finds herself under siege. At first she gains strength by fighting back, taking a civilian job with the police to aid the antiterrorist effort. But when she becomes involved with an upper-class couple, she is drawn into a psychological maelstrom of guilt, ambition, and cynicism that erodes her faith in the society she's working to defend. And when a new bomb threat sends the city into a deadly panic ("It was a panic like the darkest dream and the more people ran out onto the streets the bigger the panic got like a monster made of human beings") she is pushed to acts of unfathomable desperation - perhaps her only chance for survival

The Good Stuff

Wonderfully written
Heartbreaking and raw and very real
Darkly funny at times, you will laugh out loud even while you are crying
Author has a true understanding of post-traumatic stress and grief
The main character is so believable in her grief and the authors description of her grief is so raw and powerful it brought tears to my eyes (why must I never learn to not read this stuff on the bus)
The parts with the frickin rabbit ripped my heart out and stomped on it on quite a few occasions
Really makes you think about terrorism, grief, revenge and so much more

The Not So Good Stuff
Really disliked the ending - a bit of a downer
Really didnt understand how she dealt with her nervousness at the beginning it seemed out of place with her feelings for her husband and child
Also the thought of her leaving her child alone so she could go out and get a drink and have a little nooky made me incredibly angry
Older son is a little freaked cause Mom came home with tears in her eyes and gave him such a big hug also he mocked me afterwards damn 9 yr olds and their disgust with emotional moms : )

What I Learned

Quite a few new English sayings

Favourite Quotes

Dear Osama they want you dead or alive so the terror will stop. Well I wouldnt know about that I mean rock n roll didnt stop when Elvis died on the khazi it just got worse. Next thing you know there was Sonny & Cher and Dexys Midnight Runners.

Nobody knew why you made them be Arsenal fans. Does Allah hate the Gunners even more than he hates the west in general or was it just a coincidence?

Youre a bit of a Knightsbridge girl yourself at heart Osama. We never see you without your AK47 and matching bullet belt I suppose Allah is big on accessories.

4 Deweys

I received this from Random House in exchange for an honest review

Monday, January 10, 2011

Nerd Do Well by Simon Pegg: Mini Book Review

Nerd Do Well
by Simon Pegg
Century (Random House)
ISBN: 9781846058110
My ebook is from Kobo

Description: The unique life story of one of Britain's most talented and inventive comedians, star of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and Star Trek.Zombies in North London, death cults in the West Country, the engineering deck of the Enterprise: Simon Pegg has been ploughing some bizarre furrows in recent times. Having blasted onto the small screens with his now legendary sitcom Spaced, his rise to the UK's favorite son status has been mercurial, meteoric, megatronnic, but mostly just plain great.From his childhood (and subsequently adult) obsession with Star Wars, his often passionate friendship with Nick Frost, and his forays into stand-up which began with his regular Monday morning slot in front of his 12-year-old classmates, this is a joyous tale of a homegrown superstar and a loval boy made good.

Mini Book Review:  A delightfully touching, real and nerdy memoir from one of my favorite British actor/writers.  You can really tell while reading it that he doesn't quite understand why anyone would be interested in reading about him, but was convinced to write a memoir in spite of this. His self deprecating humour makes reading it worthwhile and at times I felt a connection with him based on our similar nerdy ways.  I got a kick out of him talking about listening to the Noah skit by Bill Cosby over and over, when I also did the very same thing. Basically he just comes across as a very nice nerdy guy who has talent and got lucky to work at doing what he loves.  He mentions all of the other people that made his success happen and it is very obvious that he is thankful for them. He does a marvelous job at telling the stories about when he met his hero's like George A. Romero and Leonard Nimoy, which makes you feel like he is one of you. I am totally jealous that he got to work with Spock, I mean Leonard Nimoy (what can I say I'm a nerd). He doesn't slag anybody and he doesn't over share about his personal life which is extremely classy.  Also, in a decidedly unusual way for a memoir there is a hilarious adventure story interspersed within that will make you laugh.  My only problems with the book are that is jumps around a lot and you are sort of thinking WTF, and certain parts are a little dry. I think my favorite part of the whole book is the Appendix -- trust me if you are a Star Wars nerd you will enjoy it!  A must have book for nerds like me.  I think tonight will be a night for a viewing of Shaun of the Dead.

I don't usually do quotes but this one made me laugh

"Also, Pegg had spray-painted a pair of tits on Canterbury's breastplate after he got drunk on sherry at a Soup Dragons concert in 1991 and couldn't get it off.  He regretted the act enormously and had thought many times about spraying over the lewd graffiti but had refrained from doing so in case it invalidated his warranty. It was the same reason Pegg had refrained from removing Canterbuy's flashing earring, resulting in the asexual android being called "gaybot" by some of the other automatons at the 1998 science expo at Earls Court."

4 Dewey's

I bought this for my Kobo and didn't HAVE to review it, just wanted to bring it to your attention - Live Long and Prosper 

In My Mailbox

For Review

Random House


Really looking forward to reading this one, as I went to HS with Steven

United Way Raffle at work - cell  phone, lunch for 2 at Humber Room and Humber Spa Gift Certificate

From Caramilk on Facebook

From Rants and Raves blog at

Auction for Laura Mousseau 's participation in 2011 Conquer The Volcano-Costa Rica '2011

Her sister Sarah Mousseau made the cards

More of her work

Mom and Me Mondays: Kids Cooking: A Very Slightly Messy Manual by editors of Klutz

Kids Cooking: A Very Slightly Messy Manual 
by editors of Klutz
Klutz (Distributed in Canada by Scholastic Canada Ltd)
ISBN: 978-1-59174-899-1
Suggested Age: 5 +

Description: Over the years, this classic collection of parent-approved recipes has become the favorite cookbook of countless thousands of real kids in real kitchens, It's printed on wipe-clean, glossy pages (on the remote chance that anything gets spilled), and packaged with a set of color-coded measuring spoons. Written by the Editors of Klutz.

Jake's Review:  I like almost all of the recipes in this book, except for the nasty salad ones.  The pictures are awesome and the directions are easy to do.  I barely needed Mom to do anything except that I think I should be allowed to take things out of the oven, and she doesn't.  I cannot wait to make more of the recipes from the book.  I liked making the cookies and kept sneaking some of the batter.  It was also tons of fun to make the play dough.  It was my idea to add the blue food colouring which is how we got that awesome colour.  We are going to make the Personal Pizza's recipe tomorrow.  I also like that I know have my very own measuring spoons.

Jake's Rating: 10/10

Mom's Review:   I really enjoyed this book too. There was a great selection of various types of recipes.  Basically there was something for everyone to enjoy.  The recipes were easy to follow and didn't have too many ingredients in each one.  The pictures were adorable and really added some interest to the pages.  My only complaints being that since the book is sold in both the US and Canada it should have both measurements -- I know its picky, but even adults have a hard time figuring out how much a 12 oz bag of chocolate chips is.  Also for the cookie recipe it really should mention how far apart to set the cookies -- the picture is ok, but having it said up front would be good.  I had tons of fun with Jake from picking the recipes we were going to make, shopping for the ingredients and actually making them.  I think this is a great book for every parent to have.  Its a wonderful teaching tool and also a wonderful way to bond.  Also when he gets to University he will know how to make more than Raman noodles and Kraft dinner -- also chicks dig a boy who can cook.

Mom's Rating: 9/10:

Ingredients for Darrell's Forget the Cookies Just Give Me That Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Melting Butter & Sugar on Stove
Finished Cookies - Look and Taste Great
Stirring the Cookies
Rolling out the dough
Finished Play Dough - Look at the awesome colour we made!

We received this from Scholastic in Exchange for an honest review

Sunday, January 9, 2011

CSN and Christmas Shopping Review

Due to all sorts of reasons, last year was a real tough year for us financially and we were really being frugal.  Hubby and I had decided not to get each other Christmas presents in order to save some cash.  Well,  thanks to CSN and their perfect timing we were able to get each other a little something.

I absolutely adore CSN since they have such a wonderful selection of stuff, great prices and extremely fast delivery times.  Of course I hate the international fee, but at least it is listed right up front and quite reasonable compared to other US online retailers.

The 1st we ordered for our Christmas presents were these amazing 300 TC Single Ply Sheet Sets.  They are so comfortable, light weight and soft as silk, that it is a guilty pleasure to slip into them after a hard day with our little heathens -- I love my 2 boys but they can be extremely challenging at times.

This is the 1st time in our married life that we have actually owned a "good" set of sheets and I don't think we will ever go back now to the Wal-Mart ones we have been buying.  They also wash amazing and don't tear or get all nasty feeling after washing as many of the cheap ones do.  We are actually going to order a couple more sets of them and throw out all the other ones.

Crappy picture, my hubby is much better looking than this picture shows : )

The 2nd present we got was the Delonghi Cool-Touch Deep Fryer.  My hubby has been nagging me for years to get a deep fryer, but I put him off until now.  He loves this thing and quite frankly I am not sure if he had a choice over a choice between me and the deep fryer, which one he would choose.  It was hilarious today while we were at the Costco, he kept pointing at things and saying -- We could use the deep fryer to make that.  It was a running joke the rest of the day to choose weird stuff and say that we could use the deep fryer -- and btw the Cat now is hiding in fear of being deep fried!  O.K we are a weird family -- but trust me the kids made us this way.

As for this deep fryer it is easy to use, safe, fast and actually looks nice on the counter -- I have tried to put it in the cupboards, but hubby keeps giving me the evil eye each time I try.  In defense of my hubby I will never buy take out fries again, because the home made ones we make with this are AWESOME!!

Jesse helping with the Opening
Oreo checking it out -- guess he doesn't know about how much Daddy wants to try things

Thanks CSN for helping us have something to open on Christmas Day!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Guardians: by Andrew Pyper: Book Review

The Guardians
by Andrew Pyper
Doubleday Canada (Random House)
ISBN: 978-0-385-66371-7
Publication Date: January 4, 2011

Description: From acclaimed author Andrew Pyper, a gripping novel of psychological suspense about four men haunted by a secret from childhood.

There's no such thing as an empty house...

Trevor, Randy, Ben and Carl grew up together in the small town of Grimshaw as many boys do playing hockey and forging friendships that run deep. Twenty-four years later, when Ben commits suicide, the three remaining friends gather once again in their hometown. But going home means going back, and that's not always easy. The three men are forced to confront their memories of a sinister crime that happened in an abandoned house in their neighbourhood a crime that claws its way into the present, leaving its indelible mark on everyone.

The Good Stuff
  • Extremely suspenseful and delightfully creepy at times
  • It's got a Haunted House and I LOVE haunted house stories!!!!!
  • Set in small town Ontario -- so it is very familiar to me -- even been to Grimshaw
  • Canadian and not depressing - who would have thought
  • Lots of twists and turns and surprises that you don't see coming
  • Very wise commentary on youth and loss of innocense
  • Did I mention Ghosts and Haunted Houses - what's not to love
  • Will definitely be looking for other books by author -- love it when I find a good Canadian fiction author -- that doesn't depress the crap out of me or write about the frickin prairies
  • It reminded me a little of "good" Stephen King stories like The Body, It and Bag of Bones without the icky stuff that King sometimes goes overboard with (Love you Stevie but still haven't totally forgiven you for Pet Cemetary)
  • Heard that this book is under option to be made into a movie -- with the right director I think it would make an awesome flick
The Not so Good Stuff
  • Some dry humour present, but would have liked a little more
  • Small town Ontario isn't as bad as he makes it sound at times ; )
  • Must go hug my two little boys and pray that nothing shitty happens like it does to the boys in the book
  • Hmm might be discouraging Jesse about playing Hockey
  • Prefer the cover of the Orion version -- more spooky looking -- although this cover is pretty good too
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"My father, not known for his wisdom (though he took runs at it on the nights he hit the sauce harder than usual), once told me something that has proven consistent with my experience; while a man can accumulate any number of acquaintances over his life, his only true friends are the ones he makes in his youth."

"But to me, there is something chilling in all the broken-down bastions of the divine, as though it will be here, and not in the indifferent, thrumming city, that the final wrestling of goods and evils will take place. And it won't be as showy as Revelation promised either; no beast rising from the sea, no serpent to tell seductive lies.  When the reckoning takes place it will be quiet.  And like all the bad done in Grimshaw, it will be known by many but spoken by none."

What I Learned
  • Grimshaw sucks ; )
  • Boyhood  friends are friends for life-- must pay closer attention to Jake and Jesse's friends LOL
Who should/shouldn't read
  • Fans of Stephen King will probably enjoy (I know I did & I love King's good stuff)
  • Lovers of Ghost and Haunted House stories will really enjoy
  • Actually think this would be a good one for everyone -- absolutely perfect read for a Cold Canadian winters night
4.5 Dewey's

I received this from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review -- Thanks guys for bringing my attention to a good Canadian fiction author

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Lake of Dreams by Kim Edwards: Book Review

The Lake of Dreams
by Kim Edwards
ISBN: 978-0-670-02217-5
Published: January 4, 2011

Description: With revelations that prove as captivating as the deceptions at the heart of her bestselling phenomenon The Memory Keeper's Daughter, Kim Edwards now gives us the story of a woman's homecoming, a family secret, and the old house that holds the key to the true legacy of a family. At a crossroads in her life, Lucy Jarrett returns home from Japan, only to find herself haunted by her father's unresolved death a decade ago. Old longings stirred up by Keegan Fall, a local glass artist who was once her passionate first love, lead her into the unexpected. Late one night, as she paces the hallways of her family's rambling lakeside house, she discovers, locked in a window seat, a collection of objects that first appear to be useless curiosities, but soon reveal a deeper and more complex family past. As Lucy discovers and explores the traces of her lineage00from an heirloom tapestry and dusty political tracts to a web of allusions depicted in stained-glass windows throughout upstate New York-the family story she has always known is shattered, Lucy's quest for the truth reconfigures her family's history, links her to a unique slice of the suffragette movement, and yields dramatic insights that embolden her to live freely.

The Good Stuff
  • Wonderful realistic characters
  • Author really understands the inner workings of a family and its dynamics
  • I really understood Lucy's need to understand about her family history
  • Fascinating information and history and the portrayal of women in organized religion
  • Loved the character of the priest Suzi and her conversations with Keegan.  If she was real, I would actually go to church
  • I was totally engrossed in the mystery of Rose and Iris and I think I wanted to find out the truth as much as Lucy did.
  • A truly fascinating tale and history lesson all in one
  • Beautifully written, author has some serious talent. Must go get me a copy of The Memory Keepers Daughter
  • I really enjoyed all the information about the suffragette movement and realized even more how grateful all of us women should be for what those women fought for
  • I could definitely see this one being made into a movie
The Not so Good Stuff
  • It was hard to get into at first. I struggled at first, but am glad I did, as it ends up being a fantastic book
  • Would have liked a family tree or a who's who at the front of the book for my mommy addled brain to remember who was who and where they fit into the family
  • Honestly I would have taken out some of the dream sequences but dammit I am a Mom I need things to pick up the pace more -- that's just me though -- nothing against the author -- it was just one of those irritating things to me.
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"In those days God seemed as silent as my father, as angry as my uncle, as distant as the portrait of my great-grandfather in the hall; when I closed my eyes, those were the gazes I felt, and I was always nervous."

"This history, told through Rose's eyes, didn't seem very far away, and it made me wonder how my own life would have unfolded if I hadn't been abler to study or work or even know the most basic facts about my body.  A difficult history was hidden beneath my independence, like the ruins of the factories beneath the tranquil surface of this water. The rights I took for granted seemed suddenly very new, measured against the centuries."

"Close-up , their lives were as complex and chaotic as my own, full of mistakes and disappointments and good intentions gone awry."

What I Learned
  • A crap load of information on the history of women and their portrayal in organized religion  -- truly fascinating stuff
  • Tons of facts and history about the suffragette movement -- and how glad I didn't grow up in that era. I would totally have been jailed too!!
  • That I would love to know more about my ancestors and how they lived and their emotions. Damn why couldn't either side of my family been good at keeping journals!
Who should/shouldn't read
  • Those who need plenty of excitement and romance might not get into this one
  • Anyone interested in the suffragette movement or the portrayal of women in religion will love this
  • Really almost anyone will enjoy this as long as they give it a chance
  • This is not a light read so if you are looking for something on the  light and fluffy side, this ain't it. Not that their is anything wrong with light and fluffy - since I also enjoy those types of books, just more of an FYI
4 Dewey's

I received this from Penguin in exchange for an honest review

Monday, January 3, 2011

Various Book Signings

Here are some pics from various books signings I have attended this year

Russell Peters

Love his smile in this one

DJ at all Signings I have been to so far

Russell and Natasha

Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Crowd around 5:30 (Event starts at 7:00)
Rick Springfield

Jamie Oliver Signing

He wants me, you can tell LOL

Totally wants me LMAO!

Smart Chicks Book Tour

Kathy Reichs Signing

No Pictures

Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg: Book Review

Prom and Prejudice
by Elizabeth Eulberg
Point (Scholastic Inc)
ISBN: 978-0-545-24077-2
Suggested Ages: 13-18 (I would say 11 & up would be ok, nothing offensive)
Publication Date: January1,  2011

Description: After winter break, the girls at the very prestigious Longbourn Academy become obsessed with the prom. Lizzie Bennet, who attends Longbourn on a scholarship, isnt interested in designer dresses and expensive shoes, but her best friend, Jane, might be especially now that Charles Bingley is back from a semester in London.

Lizzie is happy about her friends burgeoning romance but less than impressed by Charless friend, Will Darcy, whos snobby and pretentious. Darcy doesnt seem to like Lizzie either, but she assumes its because her family doesnt have money. Clearly, Will Darcy is a pompous jerk so why does Lizzie find herself drawn to him anyway?

Will Lizzies pride and Wills prejudice keep them apart? Or are they a prom couple in the making? Whatever the result, Elizabeth Eulberg, author of The Lonely Hearts Club, has concocted a very funny, completely stylish delight for any season prom or otherwise.

The Good Stuff
  • absolutely delightful retelling of Pride and Prejudice for the YA set - and for those like me who never made it through the overly flowery original novel -- I know I know but hey I'm more of a get to the point kinda gal
  • Nice surprise plot twist that I didn't see coming
  • Light and fun
  • Nice morals -- no surprise there since its basically a retelling of Pride and Prejudice
  • It actually inspired me to TRY and read Pride and Prejudice and if not, will be grabbing my copy of the AE mini series with yummy Colin Firth
  • Loved brashy Lydia
  • Look forward to reading other books by this author
The Not so Good Stuff
  • Sort of jumpy at times in terms of jumping from scene to scene
  • Could have had a bit more romance
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"Imagine the chaos that erupted a few years ago, when a scholarship student not only snagged the most sought-after boy at Pemberley, but showed up in a dress from Macy's (the horror!) and caught the eye of the New York Times  reporter, who ended up putting her, and her story, on the cover of the Style sections.  Up to that point, most students tolerated the two scholarship students in each class. But this was too much."

"I'm guessing your daddy doesn't think saying things like 'venti half-calf, skinny latte' is too impressive, either. But if that makes you feel smart - when really, you're just asking for a decaf coffee with skim milk - who am I to judge."

"I wanted to look away, but it was one of those horrifying scenes that you just can't take your eyes off of.  Just when I thought it couldn't get worse, she did jazz hands."

What I Learned
  • Sucks to be a scholarship student
Who should/shouldn't read
  • Fantastic for the YA's on the younger side.  Some of the more jaded YA readers may find it a bit too clean
  • Good for those who enjoy the themes and ideas in Pride and Prejudice but cannot get by the flowery writing
4 Dewey's

I received this from Scholastic in exchange for an honest review