This is the second book in the Pottermore Presents trilogy that digs a little deeper into some of the characters and magical elements of Rowling's famThis is the second book in the Pottermore Presents trilogy that digs a little deeper into some of the characters and magical elements of Rowling's famous universe. While I'm a huge Potterhead this was my least favourite book in the trilogy. There are some interesting tidbits but the portion dedicated to the Misters of Magic was overly lengthy and I can't say that Horace Slughorn is a character that I was interested in knowing more about.
That said, it's always nice to jump back in to Rowling's magical world and I enjoyed learning more about this history of Azkaban prison and the mischief-maker Peeves. For Potterheads, overall, this trilogy series is a nice way to give readers some background knowledge on secondary characters, magical items and creatures....more
The description of this book is accurate but doesn't come close to describing the rich characters, Scottish history and atmosphere that Susanna KearslThe description of this book is accurate but doesn't come close to describing the rich characters, Scottish history and atmosphere that Susanna Kearsley brings to her readers. This was my second time reading The Winter Sea. The first time was many years ago, and while I didn't recall the plot I always had images in my mind from reading the book the first time around. The sign of a good book.
Kearsley's writing is rich in detail creating a vivid atmosphere for her story to unfold. The story is told via two narratives - Carrie in modern day and Sophia in the early 1700's during a lesser known Jacobite rebellion. Their stories intertwine, with a little help from a fantastical element, and while they were both compelling I admit to preferring Sophia's story line more. There are some twists thrown into the plot and the characters, generally speaking, are easy to root for making it easy to see why this book is a fan favourite.
For readers looking for a bodice-ripper type read this is not it. While there are some intimate moments they are only hinted at leaving the ensuing passion to the readers' imaginations. Instead more focus was on their relationships, the beautiful setting and the Jacobites attempt to return James to England's throne to replace his half-sister, Queen Anne.
For people, such as myself, who only have a basic knowledge of Scottish history do not fear. Kearsley explains some of the Jacobite history without a huge info dump while still keeping in line with her story. Readers will enjoy reading the appendix at the end of the book where Kearsley explains which characters and events within her book are based on historical fact.
The only criticisms I have for the book is that the ending is wrapped up a little too neatly. Sure, it's a nice way to end the story but a little too easy. I know that some readers weren't fond of one of Sophia's decisions in the book (I wasn't happy reading it either) but, in the end, that was probably a more realistic decision based on how things were in the 18th century.
Overall, I'm happy I could delve back into this book. This time around I got to read my personalized, signed copy and that made it even more special. For fans of well-researched Historical Fiction with a solid nod to genealogy, who like a good love story (or two) set in the beauty that is Scotland then this is a book for you. ...more
If you're told the book you're about to read is a Victorian murder mystery featuring a lepidopterist (bu4.5 STARS (increased to 5 stars for this site)
If you're told the book you're about to read is a Victorian murder mystery featuring a lepidopterist (butterfly collector) and her best friend, a taxidermist, it may cause you to question if the book is right for you. But with Deanna Raybourn at the helm, you can put away your doubts because you know you're in for a good ride. Her writing is some of the best that I've read and the breadth of her vocabulary is wonderfully challenging (thank goodness for my Kindle's dictionary feature) and adds so much to the personalities of her characters and the era in which they live.
I have read a couple of Deanna Raybourn's previous books in her Lady Julia Grey series and quite enjoyed them. I associate Raybourn with memorable, witty and well-rounded characters and her compelling writing. The first book in her Lady Julia Grey series, Silent in the Grave, features one of my all-time favourite opening lines ...
“To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband's dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor.”
A Perilous Undertaking, the second book featuring Veronica Speedwell, was the first book I've read in this newer series. For new-to-Veronica readers, you needn't worry about falling behind in character relationships or the plot if you haven't, like me, read the first book in the series, A Curious Beginning. Raybourn gives enough details without divulging the plot lines from the first book yet doesn't leave her readers with that niggling feeling that they're missing something by not starting with the first book.
While the mystery itself had some good twists and kept me guessing, this book is much more of a character focused read. Even secondary characters, namely spunky old Lady Wellington, add much to the plot and humour. But it's the bond between Veronica and Stoker that really drew me into this book. They have a deep connection to each other that is based in respect and love but is sprinkled liberally with witty banter and some delightful romantic tension.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. With it's stunning cover, humorous exchanges, solid historical mystery and colourful main characters this book has it all.
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Berkley Publishing Group for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy in exchange for my honest review....more
I'm always eager to step back into the Potterverse. In this third and final installment of the Pottermore Presents series J.K Rowling focuses on manyI'm always eager to step back into the Potterverse. In this third and final installment of the Pottermore Presents series J.K Rowling focuses on many aspects of Hogwarts including the history of the Hogwarts Express, Platform 9 3/4 and more information about the castle itself like descriptions of the Hufflepuff common room and the mysteries in the Great Lake. Rowling also gives her readers a better look at many magical artifacts that were featured in her famous books. These include the Sorting Hat, Dumbeldore's Pensieve, the Sword of Gryffindor, The Mirror of Erised and the Philosopher's Stone.
Page time is also given to some of Hogwarts' inhabitants including the ghosts, Sir Cadogan and the people who dwell in the pictures throughout the castle. I enjoyed the ballad about Nearly Headless Nick which was the icing on the cake for me.
This was a good read but, like most Potterheads, I would have liked even more detail. I found the first book in the series, Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies, gave a bit more detail about the topics it touched on. This is still a 'must have' for fans of Harry Potter. It's always fun to spend time in Rowling's head and get a better idea of how she came up with her magical universe. These e-books are a very quick read, a great price and are an easy way to get back to her Potter magic which, of course, is priceless. ...more
2.5 STARS - A Study in Charlotte follows Charlotte Holmes and James Watson, descendants of the famous detective duo Sherlock and Watson, at a boarding2.5 STARS - A Study in Charlotte follows Charlotte Holmes and James Watson, descendants of the famous detective duo Sherlock and Watson, at a boarding school in Connecticut. This was an interesting premise and, honestly, the reason I picked up this book at my local library. Charlotte and Jamie find themselves in the thick of a few crimes that mimic the famous mysteries that their great-great-great grandfathers solved 'back in the day'. While it had a good premise, an interesting twist with Charlotte being a teenage girl and a decent (if a bit befuddled) mystery, there were some inconsistencies/issues that bothered me.
First, Charlotte felt too similar to the original Sherlock. Just because she's (distantly) related to Sherlock, does that necessarily mean that she must be brilliant, socially unaware and an egocentric jerk most of the time? I was hoping she'd have her own unique elements - perhaps a more human, softer side so readers can relate to her. But she didn't have a uniqueness to her apart from the characteristics people relate with Sherlock, nor did she have the depth of character that he possessed. She was Sherlock 2.0 and I was hoping for a bit more.
Watson, on the other hand, came off as a wienie. Sure, he was funny at times but he was like a lost puppy blindly following Sherlock around waiting for moments to admire her (which often had a creepy vibe). I just couldn't understand why he was so into her when she was perpetually in a bad mood, rude, mean, insensitive, brash, egocentric .... the list goes on and yet there is Watson just beggin' for her attention. And don't get me started on the unnecessary romance angle.
This book addresses many serious issues - murder, date rape and a lot of drug use. These issues played a bigger role in the plot than I was expecting and I wasn't comfortable with Charlotte's drug use or the lack of explanation for it. But, more importantly, I was shocked and very disappointed with how the date rape was handled in the story. More specifically, not handled. For a book whose audience is mainly teens I think the author missed a very important opportunity to address this serious subject.
*** Spoiler Alert ***
Most of the people at her school think the rape was Charlotte's fault so Charlotte keeps this information to herself. She doesn't want to reveal the attack to her family for fear of being another disappointment to her famous family. The reader must assume that Charlotte is totally alone in her torment because the rape is barely acknowledge for the vast majority of the book. I just don't understand, besides being a plot device, why the date rape was included. I could see a person such as Holmes burying her feelings and memories of the rape but the reader never gets to see her deal with it. We only see it through Watson's eyes and that just seemed wrong.
*** End of Spoiler ***
While this book had a great premise it just wasn't the book for me. I found the mysteries to be predictable and disjointed in their telling and I was left struggling to stay interested in the characters and plot which was much darker than I had expected. Perhaps true Sherlockians will enjoy this but I'll be taking a pass on the next book in this trilogy. ...more
I enjoyed the first book in this duology, Six of Crows. It had action, a little romance, a big heist and some unforgettable characters with witty bantI enjoyed the first book in this duology, Six of Crows. It had action, a little romance, a big heist and some unforgettable characters with witty banter t'boot. Unfortunately, Crooked Kingdom didn't match up.
Not even close.
Slow, Scattered Pacing and Lack of Direction I am in the vast minority with my feelings. So many people loved this book so I was surprised at how much I struggled to stay with it. It has the same group of characters (who continue to have some great lines) but it was loooong with barely any plot direction and poor pacing. You'd have moments where the story plodded along and then Bardugo would throw in an amazing, tension filled scene and I'd think "OK, this is where things pick up!!" ... only for the pace to drop back down to snail level for another bout of overly descriptive telling. This 'up and down' momentum continued for the entire book which was the exact opposite of Six of Crows with its plot and awesome suspense scenes.
This book should have been whittled down considerably because the plot got lost in the unnecessary details. I had to push myself to finish it. It felt scattered, with no direction, or more precisely too many directions because the plot kept jumping around to various smaller plots which, in the end, really didn't get much closure anyway! These smaller plot ideas are barely tethered together, have rough transitions between them and Bardugo didn't give her readers enough time to be invested in any of them.
Weak Character Development In Six of Crows we're introduced to a strong, varied cast of characters but their unique issues are lost in this book. First, Kaz was a perpetual jerk and he had only one weakness: his relationship with Inej. He was too good to be true since almost everything he did worked out, always keeping him a few steps ahead of his nemesis' plans. That's hard to believe and boring to read.
I enjoyed the tension and 'star-crossed lovers' vibe between Nina and Matthias in Six of Crows but in this book, that tension is non-existent. Their relationship was a huge let down and one scene in particular felt like Bardugo added it merely to shock her readers and jump start their interest in her dwindling plot.
I think the characters deserved a better ending. They were so strong and unique in the first book but the lack of character development and definitive plot in Crooked Kingdom killed this book for me. This book can be summed up in the following words: underwhelming, scattered, unresolved....more
Robert Dugoni is quickly becoming one of my go-to authors for a suspenseful, twisty read. I adored My Sister's Grave and continued to enjoy the next tRobert Dugoni is quickly becoming one of my go-to authors for a suspenseful, twisty read. I adored My Sister's Grave and continued to enjoy the next two books in the series, (Her Final Breath and In the Clearing). With The Trapped Girl, the fourth book in the Tracy Crosswhite series, Dugoni once again gives his readers a non-stop story filled with suspense, tension and twists. He had me captivated throughout and while I had several ideas of who the culprit could be, by the time Dugoni finished weaving his web, he ended up surprising even this seasoned reader.
Tracy continues to be a strong main character. She's tough yet likable and has her flaws. A gaggle of fellow detectives and Tracy's boyfriend round out the cast. I'd suggest reading this series in order so that you understand where Tracy's past which continues to haunt her. While her personal life plays a role in this book and I liked its inclusion, I'm glad it stayed in the fringes of the story to keep the tension high.
This is a well-crafted suspense read. It's complicated without being fussy or confusing as Dugoni leads his readers through his plot leading up to a very satisfying, nail-biting conclusion. If you're in the mood for lots of twists, suspense and some solid characters you must pick up the Tracy Crosswhite series.
Highly recommended for fans of Lisa Gardner and Harlan Coben.
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Thomas and Mercer for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review....more
A Quiet Kind of Thunder is a teen romance between a Deaf boy and a girl who has Selective Mutism. As a former Sign Language Interpreter, the additionA Quiet Kind of Thunder is a teen romance between a Deaf boy and a girl who has Selective Mutism. As a former Sign Language Interpreter, the addition of the Deaf character was the reason I picked up this book in the first place. Unfortunately, the book is only told from Steffi's point of view so we don't get a great representation of Rhys, the Deaf teen.
Steffi suffers from anxiety and Selective Mutism - a debilitating condition where she is unable to speak in social settings. But, over the course of the book, it didn't seem like her mutism effected her daily life as much I would have expected. There were a few instances where she was unable to speak to people but, for the most part, she seemed to be able to overcome her social anxiety and mutism without much trepidation. Steffi's behaviour could be explained by medication and therapy - I just thought there would be more issues surrounding her condition. With Selective Mutism being new to me I wasn't sure if this was an accurate portrayal.
This was a slowly paced story about a sweet teen relationship but I was expecting their communication issues, social anxiety and Deaf culture to play bigger roles in the plot. Instead the focus was on the teen romance which had that sweet, first love feel to it. Ah, l'amour! That said, I felt their connection developed too fast with their bond having an Insta-Love vibe to it. And while I applaud the author for including BSL (British Sign Language) into her book I felt that Steffi picked up BSL unbelievably easily - we're talking about a whole new language.
This book addresses several relevant issues - mental health, teen sexual health, first love and a strong nod to relationships with parents and best friends. I liked seeing the different ways in which Steffi and Rhys' families dealt with issues surrounding Deafness and Selective Mutism as well as Steffi's relationship with Tem, her BFF. These secondary relationships were well drawn and added diversity to the cast.
Overall, this was a decent, slow burn kind of read which gives readers a general idea about being Deaf in a mainly hearing world as well as what it's like for someone living with Selective Mutism and social anxiety. I think other readers (who have more romantic souls) will enjoy this book more than I did.
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to MacMillan's Children's Books at NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review....more
Picoult is known for writing compelling stories about timely, ethical issues and Small Great Things is no exception. It was immediately drawn into thePicoult is known for writing compelling stories about timely, ethical issues and Small Great Things is no exception. It was immediately drawn into the lives of the three main characters who share their points of view -- Ruth, the African-American nurse who is charged with a crime; Kennedy - the white lawyer who defends her and Turk, the white supremacist whose young son has died. By using these three varied points of view Picoult delves into the issue of racism.
These perspectives engage the reader immediately with characters who are well-rounded and believably flawed. You will love some of their actions and hate some but I guarantee you will feel something. It is, at times, heart-wrenching, maddening, shocking and frustrating but always compelling. The characters face different issues and I can't say that I was 100% on board with any of them. While I abhorred Turk's racism I could also sympathize with his loss as a parent. While I found what happened to Ruth unjust and maddening I also wondered why she didn't make other choices.
Some people criticize Picoult for being too formulaic but one cannot deny that she gives her readers food for thought. She, once again, uses her 'ethical issue/courtroom drama' formula (which I was fine with) but I'll admit to not being a fan of the ending which I found was wrapped up too easily and predictably. Satisfying but predictable.
Picoult has opened the discussion regarding intolerance and racism - in both its active and passive forms. Hopefully, this book will give readers a new perspective on racism and show how even small comments and actions only help to perpetuate the current environment of intolerance. Just because the situation is fine for us some of us, doesn't mean we shouldn't stop and think about how it affects others. It's this message of passive racism that stood out for me the most.
" If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way." - Dr. Martin Luther King
Picoult tackled this topic with a lot of research and an equal amount of sensitivity. I encourage people to read the author's note at the end of the book regarding why she, as a white woman, took on the topic of racism. With all the moral, ethical and racial issues that were touched on I feel that this would make an excellent book club selection.
This book continues to creep into my thoughts and I find myself wondering about the daily racism that people of colour continue to face - especially subtle, passive prejudice. What I'm hoping is that we keep this discussion going. Talk about racism and intolerance with our kids. Call people on their racist comments. Listen and believe people when they share their experiences. Racism isn't just about hate. It's about ignorance. It's about an unbalanced system of power and about the little things that encourage intolerance.
We can be better than this. We need to do better. Everyone has the chance to make a difference - small or great. We just need to choose to do it.
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Random House Canada for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. ...more
A little over a year ago I read Yoon's Everything, Everything) and enjoyed the quirky and witty teen romance. In this latest book, she has written a sA little over a year ago I read Yoon's Everything, Everything) and enjoyed the quirky and witty teen romance. In this latest book, she has written a story about two teenagers who find each other at very critical junctures in their lives and fall in love.
This book has it's moments of witty writing, addresses several current issues (illegal immigrants, depression/suicide, parental pressures, cultural differences ...) and has a wonderfully refreshing culturally diverse cast. But it also had aspects that I struggled with including the weak chemistry between Natasha and Daniel and my lack of connection to them or the plot. Their InstaLove felt needy (and quite cheesy) rather than romantic to me. Perhaps readers who love all things romantic will have an easier time believing the idea of two people falling hopelessly in love with each other within 12 hours. Personally, I couldn't do it.
While the book focuses on Daniel and Natasha, I LOVED how different perspectives of secondary, and even tertiary characters, were brought into the story line showing how even brief interactions can greatly influence others. From a janitor, to a waitress, to a security guard and various family members, Yoon gives readers snapshots into characters' lives (as well as interesting random facts) which I think broadened the scope of the book.
Overall, this was a good, light read clearly with the romantic reader in mind.
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to DoubleDay Canada for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review....more
The Tangle family is the focus of this book and how a tragedy which occurred decades before continues to affect each of them differently. Family is aThe Tangle family is the focus of this book and how a tragedy which occurred decades before continues to affect each of them differently. Family is a complicated group of relationships that can be messy, tragic, loving, funny and even heartbreaking. But it is never dull.
In her latest book, author Nancy Star shows just how complicated these bonds can be, especially when family members are holding on to long-held secrets. Sisters One, Two Three focuses on the relationships between three generations of family members within the Tangle family. By alternating between present day and flashbacks to their childhood, Star shows how tragedy affects people differently and how influential these familial bonds are in forming who we become in our adult lives - how we view ourselves and relate to spouses, siblings, parents and our own children.
This is a character driven read with a good pace and some hearty twists - one of which reveals a tragic family disaster. The reason for the family disaster was new to me and I applaud the author for bringing this issue, which is more prevalent than I would have thought, into her story line.
The characters are diverse and while they were not always likable I felt that they were well-drawn and interesting. I can't say I was always on board with their decisions but the plot pulled me in enough that I had a hard time putting the book down in my need to find out how things would end for the Tangles. I could relate to some of the characters, to varying degrees, but found Ginger to be a frustrating character initially with her obsessive worrying and some of her decisions as she struggles to be a good wife, mother and daughter. I had similar feelings for Glory who was a very over-the-top character and a hard person to understand initially. But by the end of the book I had a clearer picture of both women giving me a better understanding about the reasoning behind some of their questionable choices.
Overall, this was a good read that will give you all the feels. From anger, to frustration, to sadness to hope, love and resolution Star brings her readers into the nitty gritty of the Tangle clan. And with the Book Club Guide at the back of the book I think this would make a great book club selection.
3.5 STARS - When I was contacted by the author to review this book I was immediately intrigued by the premise. The idea of a woman with a hidden past3.5 STARS - When I was contacted by the author to review this book I was immediately intrigued by the premise. The idea of a woman with a hidden past who is forced to confront her turbulent history to save the life of her ill son. It not only tugged at the old heart strings but I liked the mystery aspect as well.
Even though the book deals with some serious issues (childhood illness, violence, abuse) it was, overall, an easy read that flowed fairly well. There were a few instances where it felt like some dialogue could have been cut down a bit but it's the emotional scenes of abuse and illness that I felt showcased the author's writing even though these scenes were difficult to read due to their subject matter.
Like I mentioned, the premise was strong but I think the book would have benefited from more character development and back story, specifically when Catherine was first out on her own. This would have helped me to better understand her side of things. Unfortunately, I struggled to connect with Catherine who often came off as too detached and self-centred. Her reunion with her first son was lackluster and too brief for the build-up in the plot. Catherine's only goal was to find a donor for her young son. As a mother myself I get that, I do. But to bound into this young man's life with barely a hello to him (or your estranged brother) and expect them to feel obligated to help you after decades of radio silence when she could have reached out was hard to fathom.
In contrast, the connection Catherine had with her brother Kyle was my favourite part of the book. It went from being very close, to damaged almost beyond repair to ultimately a very healing force. Their bond was written with sympathy and heart and was very believable.
Overall, this was a good read. It's a story about family bonds, loss, forgiveness and learning to move on. And, while I would have loved to have had an epilogue to gain some closure and things fell into line a little too easily, in the end I still feel that people who enjoy a family drama will want to pick up this book.
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Susan Clayton-Goldner for providing me with a complimentary ebook copy of her book in exchange for my honest review....more
This is a book about secrets, loyalty and the repercussions regarding the choices we make. It's also about an unlikely friendship and an improbably loThis is a book about secrets, loyalty and the repercussions regarding the choices we make. It's also about an unlikely friendship and an improbably love. For a debut novel, it had moments of amazing and wonderfully crafted prose.
"It was strange, learning the contours of another’s loneliness. You could never know it all at once; like stepping inside a dark cave, you felt along the walls, bumped into jagged edges."
That's some impressive writing for a debut author. Unfortunately, those moments were far and few between. The plot itself felt muddled and I struggled throughout the book to connect with and stay interested in the plight of the characters. For a book that deals with serious life issues and multiple relationships (familial, romantic, friendship), the character development was thin and the issues felt too removed from the plot (for example, Aubrey's past which the author doesn't explore).
While I can't say I loved this book, it had its moments. Certain passages were well crafted and impressive but, while Bennett interested me enough to finish the book, I can't say that she completely pulled me into her story. Bennett shows good promise as an author and although this wasn't a home run for me I look forward to reading her next literary offering....more
2.5 STARS - I love it when I can learn a bit about history while reading a fictional tale. In The Magdalen Girls, I learned about the Magdalen laundri2.5 STARS - I love it when I can learn a bit about history while reading a fictional tale. In The Magdalen Girls, I learned about the Magdalen laundries during the 1960's - a place where women were imprisoned after being deemed 'fallen women' sometimes merely based on speculation and rumour of their unsavoury behaviour. These laundries were instituted to 'rehabilitate' women who were accused of being promiscuous, reckless, having children out of wedlock, being prostitutes etc. Their 'rehabilitation' included hard labour, forced prayer, physical and emotional abuse at the hands of nuns, minimal nourishment and ultimately no future.
These laundries were barbaric places and provide an interesting backdrop and premise for this book. It's appalling that these laundries, which were often run by Catholic nuns, still occurred into the 19th century (with the last of these laundries closing in the late 1990's!). They occurred not only Ireland but also in the US, Canada, Scotland, England and Australia and were used by families to deal with their daughters who they deemed wayward and not falling into line with family/religious ideals.
While I applaud the author for bringing this difficult part of history to light the plot fell short for me. Both the plot and dialogue were more simplistic than I had expected. There were a couple of escape attempts as well as a twist but they felt predictable and came off as lackluster rather than exciting. There was the addition of a supernatural element but that felt awkward at best, was only alluded to and didn't play a big enough role. In the end, this book read more like a light historical fiction novel even though it deals with very serious subject matter.
The character development was also weaker than expected with Nora and Teagan, the two main characters, having such similar personalities that they started to blend together making it hard to connect with them individually. Lea was the most interesting character but she fell on the outskirts of the main plot. I would have liked to get inside her head to learn about why she felt the way she did about her life at the laundry.
In the end, this was an eye-opening read that educated me about the horrific acts that were committed against young women for many decades by the Catholic Church. While there were some aspects that were weaker than expected, I applaud the author for bringing this part of history to readers. I encourage people to read the epilogue for more information regarding these laundries.
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review....more
With the first line of his book Myers relays his love for our mutual home country of Canada. While many people know of him as an actor from SNL and thWith the first line of his book Myers relays his love for our mutual home country of Canada. While many people know of him as an actor from SNL and the Shrek and Austin Powers series (among others), most people who have seen him in interviews know that he is also a fiercely proud Canuck.
As a proud Canadian myself I could relate to much of what Mike described as he shares anecdotes from his upbringing in 'Scarberia' (aka Scarborough), a short drive from where I partially grew up in Markham, Ontario. It was a romp down memory lane as he recalls the Canadian TV of our childhood (Mr Dress-Up, The Friendly Giant ...), our own dialect/jargon (two-four, double-double, EH! ...) and his memories of famous Toronto haunts like the CNE and Sam the Record Man. He also includes stories about his rise to fame on stages in Toronto, London and Chicago as well as his beginnings on SNL. And while this section gave me all the nostalgic feels I couldn't relate to everything mentioned - like Canadians pronouncing the word 'been' as 'bean' or saying 'aboot' which I have never said and rarely heard.
And that's okay, eh? This book is Myers' personal account of what it was like for him to grow up in Canada. He also shares his thoughts about our Canadian psyche, our wonderfully dry, self-deprecating humour, heart and humility. Myers also recounts Canada's history which was well-researched - without sounding like a Grade 9 textbook.
While he hasn't lived in Canada permanently for a few decades he is Canadian through and through. He has the unique aspect of viewing Canada as an insider and as an outsider. He has maple syrup running through his veins, a love for Hostess ketchup-flavoured chips, an abiding love for hockey and our country.
As our country gets ready to celebrate the sesquicentennial (150th birthday) of our country in 2017 Myers shares his feelings and concerns for Canada. He gives us food for thought about the struggle we have with our country's identity, especially in relation to our neighbours to the south. While we're teased for being quiet, overly apologetic, hockey loving people who add 'eh's' onto sentences we also know how to laugh at ourselves and (hopefully) realize how good we have it here in the Great White North.
I appreciate how unabashedly and unapologetically proud Myers is for his home and native land. His continuing support, affection and respect for our country warms this Canuck heart. This is a funny and informative read which is, ultimately, a love letter to Canada from Myers. And we love ya right back. Now pass the two-four and the back bacon on a bun and turn up the Hip, eh?...more
A Historical Fiction novel with a romance in Paris! Ahhh, l'amour!
What struck me about this novel was the historical detail that Colin brings to herA Historical Fiction novel with a romance in Paris! Ahhh, l'amour!
What struck me about this novel was the historical detail that Colin brings to her story. Paris and the Eiffel Tower's very early days were clearly described for the reader and each played roles within the plot. This is a very atmospheric read and Colin places her readers deep in the heart of 19th century Paris with its culture, food and social mores (including the limitations for women at the time). She also shows the dichotomy of Paris' social classes - with its glamour, opulence and culture on one hand and in the other, the gritty, filthy streets where people struggle to make ends meet. This history of the Eiffel Tower was fascinating and those bits saved this book for me.
Unfortunately, the romance was lackluster at best. I didn't think the connection between Emile and Cait was strong and found the 'obstacles' that they faced to be together weren't as monumental or as daunting as they were portrayed.
Other characters weren't substantial either with not enough page time devoted for the reader to get to know them. Cait herself was a weak main character and I didn't have a connection with her or her poor judgement. Other characters, like Cait's young charges, were caricatures and the epitome of spoiled, insipid snobs yet interesting characters, like Gabrielle, weren't used as well as I would have hoped.
This is a slow-paced book with only a handful of scenes, mainly in the last quarter of the book, that gave the plot some vitality. It was also evident how things would play out and I struggled to stay invested in the story to the point where I was skimming pages to finish it. The ending, without giving away a spoiler, was rushed, unrealistic and felt tacked on to appease readers.
Overall, my feelings for this book are all over the place. It was a decent read of an interesting historical era but very weak in the romance department, pacing and character development. What I will take away from it is a newfound knowledge of 19th century Paris as well as the early days of the Eiffel Tower and the man who designed it but, sadly, the plot and characters will not stay with me long....more
I was drawn to this book because of its cover. It reminded me of both Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland and We Are All Made of Molecules by SuI was drawn to this book because of its cover. It reminded me of both Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland and We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen - both of which I adored. I'm a sucker for a good cover pic, what can I say.
What I liked about Holding Up The Universe: • This book deals with some important issues - bullying, weight discrimination, self-acceptance, peer pressure, biases against overweight people, loneliness ... • The awesome cover • I enjoyed learning more about the neurological disorder, Prosopagnosia (aka face blindness - the inability to recognize faces, even those closest to you). I had ever so briefly heard about it but Niven gives her readers an in-depth look at what it would be like to live with it - the scary and extremely lonely aspects of the disorder. • Libby is often a bad ass and I love her confidence • Jack's relationship with his younger brother Dusty (it gave me all the feels) • Niven gives readers a good look into the life of a teenager - some of their struggles and anxieties as they try to fit in
“We're all weird and damaged in our own way. You're not the only one.”
What I struggled with: • Jack and Libby didn't have enough emotional depth and rarely felt like they were more than their issues for me. • I couldn't understand why Jack wouldn't tell his family about his Prosopagnosia. Or how they didn't realize that he had trouble recognizing faces. You'd think after a decade they'd put two and two together. And why would Jack want to keep it hidden from them? This issue didn't feel like it was addressed well and felt contrived when Jack simply revealing his problem could have helped solve a lot of his issues at school. • this was a slower paced book that had only a few blips in the emotional/exciting radar. While there were aspects that I enjoyed, the plot itself was pretty much a flat line. • the bond between Jack and Libby felt too rushed and the romance unnecessary. I couldn't believe that after he does a horrible, embarrassingly public thing to Libby, in a matter of weeks, they're all chummy and lovey. Libby was strong in other aspects of her life but went all to mush for the first guy to give her the slightest positive attention (after being an utter arse). I would have preferred for them to become great friends, learn something about themselves and support each other no matter what. Romance doesn't always have to come into play. Overall, this was a good but not great read. Sure it was predictable and could have delved deeper into its character but I liked the issues it addressed and loved the overall message that everyone is wanted and deserves an opportunity to be themselves.
"Dear Friend, You are not a freak. You are wanted. You are necessary. You are the only you there is. Don't be afraid to leave the castle. It's a great big world out there. Love a fellow reader." ~ Holding Up The Universe...more
Before I listened to this audiobook I guess you could say that I was an Anna Kendrick fan. I enjoy the P4.5 stars (increased to 5 stars for this site)
Before I listened to this audiobook I guess you could say that I was an Anna Kendrick fan. I enjoy the Pitch Perfect movies and have seen her in the Twilight movies and Into The Woods but it's her sense of humour and the feeling that she's just a regular gal that have always drawn her to me.
With this group of essays Anna brings her readers on a journey through her normal childhood to her time acting on Broadway stages as a tween, to paying her dues in smaller films and eventually being in blockbusters like the Twilight and Pitch Perfect franchises. Along the way, she shares some of her personal moments, fears, awkward encounters, joys and everything in between.
I'm glad I decided to listen to this book because Anna's personality shines through. I'm sure she's equally funny on paper but having her read the book to me was the icing on the proverbial cake. She is witty, sassy and wonderfully smart assy. She swears a lot but she's also a charming, self-proclaimed dork who shares her big life moments with her readers. Whether they're cool, funny or awkward you know that Anna will be candid.
Her personal observations are regularly served alongside some great self-deprecating humour (of which I adore and personally partake in regularly). She is definitely funny but also inspiring and quite on the money with many of her observations involving relationships, friendships, sex, work, not taking life too seriously. I particularly appreciated her more feminist views on slut-shaming, double standards of the sexes, and women being empowered to be who they want to be.
While she remains a fairly private person, readers will still get a feel for who she is. She can be laugh-out-loud funny, let her snark fly, isn't afraid to speak her mind and doesn't take herself too seriously. Yup, she's a normal gal who happens to have a cool job. The fact that she hasn't let Hollywood change her makes her all the more appealing. In a nutshell, she's a relatable and candid hoot who is intelligent, not always nice and unapologetically herself.
How can you not love that?
For those of us who are scrappy little nobodies ourselves Anna is our Queen. If you have lived through awkward break-ups, held a grudge for years, often feel anxious and hide behind a great sense of humour then I highly suggest you pick up this book and pay homage to her majesty....more