The Challenges of Summer Reading

Bw4niccCQAAavva

Do you find that making time for reading in the summer can be a challenge? There are so many outside things to do: go on hikes, take your kids to cool off at the pool or splash pad and BBQ’s with friends.

However, as busy as we are in the summer, my kids have seemed to be enticed by the chance to win prizes through our local library’s Summer Reading Program. Each week they record time spent reading (or being read to for my smallest child) and get entries into draws for prizes for every one hour read. The program has offered my kids a lot of incentive to sit down and read a book during their down time instead of staring at the TV.

For those adults who love to read AND win stuff, there are also Adult Summer Reading Programs too. Check out your local library to see if they are offering one; often the adult prizes are pretty nice!

There are so many benefits to reading, not just for children but also for developing adult minds as well. I found this article examining the “Science-Backed” health benefits of reading.

  1. Reading increases intelligence
  2. Reading boosts your brain power
  3. Reading makes you more empathetic
  4. Flipping pages of a book helps with your understanding and comprehension skills
  5. Regular reading has been linked to decreasing your chances of developing Alzheimers disease
  6. Reading helps you relax and overcome stress
  7. Reading before bedtime can help you fall asleep faster
  8. Reading out loud to your children inspires your children to want to read more

And finally, how is your 2017 Reading Challenge progressing? I am currently at 45 books for this year, but I will admit that the last month or two I have slowed down a bit. A few of my most recent reads and/or reviews are:

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Into the WaterInto the Water by Paula Hawkins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It took me a while to get into this book. I appreciated the multiple points of view and it kept the storyline interesting. My biggest critique is I felt there was a bit too much back and forth for my liking. I would have preferred fewer points of view in favour of a more in-depth characterization. I have to say I liked Girl on the Train more than Into the Water but I would definitely still recommend this book and enjoyed it. Give it a try!

Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict (Expected Release Date January 01, 2018)

Carnegie's MaidCarnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A sudden death on a trans-Atlantic journey opens up a future far different than Clara Kelley could have ever imagined. As an immigrant to America from Ireland, Clara is expecting nothing more than some steady low paying employment so she could help support her family back home. A tragic accident upon the vessel Envoy has left one Clara Kelley deceased and given the other a chance at a future far better than was anticipated. A caller is waiting for the Clara Kelley who has been offered employment as a highly desirable ladies maid for one of the richest families in America and Clara jumps in the carriage. Clara has only a second to choose her fate and decides to carve out a future for herself.

Clara is transported to Philadelphia where she meets the wealthy and innovative Carnegie family. She learns how to pretend to be something she is not and eventually finds a friend in the eldest son of the Carnegie family, Andrew Carnegie.

Carnegie’s Maid is a historical fiction about class differentiation, industrialization and the many forms that love can take. This story reveals how not just the drive for success, but also love for ones family can at times cloud our judgement and affect our morality. Clara and her master Andrew Carnegie share a special understanding of ideals and both want to provide financially for their families. In a way they both help each other succeed.

I really enjoyed Carnegie’s Maid and would definitely recommend it. I appreciated the author’s writing style and felt like it was a well written, captivating story. (view spoiler) Furthermore, I could have also used more of Andrew’s point of view; his characterization wasn’t developed enough for me. The beginning of the story gives the reader a little taste of who Andrew is but otherwise the story is entirely from Clara’s point of view. I feel as though more insight into the thoughts of Andrew Carnegie would have helped the overall success of the story.

I want to thank NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for the opportunity to read and review Carnegie’s Maid.

The Ways of the World (The Wide World Trilogy #1) by Robert Goddard

The Ways of the World (The Wide World Trilogy #1)

Short for Chameleon by Vicki Grant

Short for ChameleonShort for Chameleon by Vicki Grant

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am pleasantly surprised at how much I liked Short For Chameleon and how hilarious it is at times. Vicki Grant keeps the story short and sweet and adds just the right amount of quirkiness to each character. The main character Cam works for his Father’s business “Almost Family Surrogate Agency”. The business employs people to pretend to be relatives of clients who are willing to pay to have fake relatives for social obligations. As a result, Cam is constantly finding himself in unusual situations. I think teens and young adults would find this novel engaging, funny and entertaining. I only hope that there is more to come from Cam and his new friend Raylene.

I also want to thank GoodReads, Vicki Grant and the publisher HarperTrophyCanada for a free copy of this book.

View all my reviews

 

~ Happy Summer Reading ~

books-1655783_960_720

Leave a comment

Filed under tay bridge disaster

Light Summer Reading and Spring 2017 New Releases

Sunset in Leduc copy

Spring has come and I am excited to get to spend more time outdoors. Gardening, going for walks or just stopping to take pictures of the beautiful Spring scenery has taken up more of my time than reading/blogging. However, I do want to give you some new (and a few old) release books that you may want to check out. I will be honest in saying that my reviews are not always positive and sometimes I just simply don’t engage with the plot or style of writing. BUT I have done some of the leg work for you which might help you decide between what new release books you may or may not want to pickup for your next camping weekend.

Also, next to come on my READ50 list for this year is The Last Neanderthal by Clair Cameron – I’ll let you know what I think when I am done!!

Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore (Release date March 2, 2017)

An Emotional and Tension Filled Glimpse of Life in Bristol During the French Revolution

Birdcage Walk

Baroque is the word that comes to mind after finishing Birdcage Walk . Drama, tension and poetic influence is how I would describe the book. I cannot say that I loved this new novel by Helen Dunmore. I felt the plot was missing some key climatic elements. I did not care for the heroine Lizzy, I was hoping for her to rise above her situation and so many times she let me down. Diner was very unlikable and controlling but yet Lizzy would throw herself into his arms again and again. Lizzy doubted herself so many times I struggle to call her the heroine. Lizzy’s half-brother seemed to be the best thing that happened to her in the entire novel, and yet when it came to a decision between her brother and her husband, she chooses her husband.

What I do feel Helen Dunmore excelled at was her descriptions and settings in the novel. She vividly captures what life was like in Bristol at that time in history. Her writing is poetic and sensual as she attempts to depict what emotional trials people might have faced during the French Revolution. However, Dunmore’s repeated insertion of political discussion into the dialogue felt forced and did not really add anything to the development of the characters or the narrative.

I would recommend this book to my friends but I am not sure I would reread it.

I do want to give my appreciation to NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for a free ARC copy of Birdcage Walk . Thanks again.

Island Girls by Nancy Thayer (Also available as an audio book)

Island Girls

Island Girls was a fun read and the characters all had unique personalities. The plot kept along at a good pace and I think it would be a perfect summer read. However, this novel is not deep nor has overly complex character development.

As a stipulation to their deceased father’s will, three very different women find themselves stuck sharing their father’s Nantucket home for an entire summer. Arden, Meg and Jenny all begin the summer with their own agendas while trying to survive just a few months together as a blended family. Rory Randell was handsome and wealthy but left behind a mess of emotional drama between his three daughters, two ex-wives and latest wife. Rory’s three daughters have one summer to fix the drama and grievances they have with each other in order for them to inherit the family home. This is an enjoyable read but do not expect deep insights or believability. I liked it, but some things are just too good to be true in my opinion.

A Suitable Affair by Erica Taylor (Expected Publication June 6, 2017)

A Suitable Affair
You won’t be disappointed!

A Suitable Affair is a light-hearted and entertaining read. Lady Susanna Macallistar, the heroine of the story, finds herself with a large dowry but she is falling short in her search for eligible suitors. The one gentleman who has offered to court her is too compliant and boring, a stark contrast to her own vibrant and adventurous personality. After a random and potentially dangerous encounter with a stranger in Hyde park, Susanna finds herself drawn to the newcomer, Ian Carlisle, the handsome Earl of Westcott. Ian has trouble ignoring the magnetism between Susanna and himself but his affection is clouded by his troubled past and his quest to bring a murderer to justice. Susanna turns out to have a few secrets of her own as she struggles between society’s expectations of a Lady and her own ambitions.

The writing style at the beginning of A Suitable Affair is verbose in my opinion. The author uses too many words in the characters dialogue and some of the sentences and descriptions are awkward. Susanna does not need to describe in length her motivation behind everything and she often repeats the same thing in two different ways in one conversation. After the first few chapters the writing style becomes less forced and the characters conversations flow more smoothly. The plot is entertaining from the beginning with the murder mystery keeping the storyline complex and engaging. And of course the romance isn’t too bad either! I appreciate that Susanna’s character is not just adventurous and witty but she is also brave and intelligent. The more the plot progresses the more interesting and developed Susanna’s character becomes.

I would not hesitate to recommend A Suitable Affair to my friends and I think if some of the wordiness in the first few chapters could be edited out I would definitely rate it 5 out of 5.

I also want to thank Amberjack Publishing and NetGalley for a chance to read an advanced copy of A Suitable Affair .

The Last Piece of My Heart by Paige Toon (Release Date May 18, 2017)

The Last Piece of My Heart

So far so good! I have only read the Prologue and the first three chapters but I am left wanting more! I hope Bridget’s story continues along the path of being exciting and fun with hint of romance. There is a small chance that the plot of this novel will be predictable but as it is my first time reading a novel by Paige Toon I cannot say for sure one way or the other. I can say that so far the first three chapters are entertaining, convincing and witty and that Paige Toon’s novel has drawn me in. I can’t wait to read The Last Piece of My Heart in its entirety.

Thank-you also to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to read a pre-release teaser of the novel.

And last but not least…..have YOU read Into the Water by Paula Hawkins and what did YOU think of it? And which do YOU prefer, The Girl on The Train or Into the Water

Happy Reading

~ Adrienne

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Mystery and Intrigue in London in the 1800s

Just a quick book review if you are looking for a recommendation for some light reading this April! A Twist in Time by Julie McElwain is a time-shift historical fiction available April 11, 2017.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30334200-a-twist-in-time?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

A Twist in Time is chock-full of mystery and secrecy in upper class British society. The novel which takes place against the backdrop of London in the 1800s is a surprisingly good read! When I read the description I was expecting it to be a bit like Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict but this book was far better!

Julie McElwain gives us a vivid view of life in 1815. Kendra Donovan the heroine of the series struggles to accept that she has been dropped somehow in 1815 and is thrown into a series of murder investigations. The literary is style engaging and Kendra’s character is confident and adventurous. The plot of “A Twist in Time” keeps up a good pace moving from scene to scene and I didn’t feel like there were any long and drawn out sections. Some time-shift novels have an heightened sense of implausibility but because Kendra has chose to trust the Duke of Aldridge and his nephew Alec with her secret, it somehow makes her presence in the 1800s more plausible. I also appreciated the author changing the point-of-view intermittingly from Kendra to some of the other characters to allow for differing perspectives. Kendra Donovan is an intelligent, solid and delightful heroine and I cannot wait to read more about her adventures.

I also want to thank NetGalley and Pegasus Books for a pre-release copy of the book to read and review.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Book Review: Miss You by Kate Eberlen

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26594969-miss-you?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

Miss You is a delightful read which manages to capture the essence of fate. The story is told by Tess and Gus, two people whose lives intertwine occasionally but who have only ever spoken a few words to each other. Will fate eventually intervene to save these two lost souls from themselves?

Tess is unexpectedly thrust into a life she never dreamed of for herself. She gives up everything including her university acceptance to take care of her little sister Hope when nobody else has stepped in to help. Tess struggles to find herself and her own ambitions in the life she passing through. She is almost a spectator, often refusing to make any decisions regarding her own needs or desires. Tess has a giant heart though and loves Hope to the same degree as a mother would love their child. Tess let’s romance into her life but never gives herself over completely, like she is waiting for some feeling that she can’t quite understand.

Gus is a smart and intelligent young adult who regularly acts on impulse. He is criticizes himself for not acting in the moment and yet most of events that happen in his life are because of impromptu actions. Gus graduates university and finds a steady girlfriend named Lucy; his relationship with Lucy seems to point to an advantageous match. Yet so,etching is still missing and Gus can’t even bring himself to be full open and honest with Lucy. Instead Gus turns to Charlotte who fulfills he sexual desire but leaves a lot to be desired in the relationship department. With two rocky relationships on the go at once and trying to figure out his career ambitions it seems like Gus’ life can go nowhere but down hill.

Miss You is a story about life, fate and relationships. I feel as though fate is like a seed in this book, being blown around but never landing in the soil. So many times Tess and Gus almost meet or do actually meet only with no remembrance and recognition. The story’s motto “Today is the first day of the rest of your life” basically happens again and again. Do Gus and Tess really just have one moment where their lives reach a drastic turning point? I don’t think so. In my opinion, it happens again and again which makes the story more realistic.

A few turnoffs for me were for starters the length of the novel; it really is quite long with 433 pages. I think it can be trimmed down and some filler taken out. I really don’t need to know about every dinner date or job that Tess or Gus had during the 16 years of the story. I also would have liked Gus and Tess’s lives to converge more, there was such a long time in the plot where it was just their own individual stories. And finally, the ending (I won’t offer a spoiler) BUT it could have been more believable and more developed throughout the story so that it fit with the rest of the plot.

Thanks for reading my review and I’d like to thank Harper Collins Canada (HCC First Look program) for an advanced copy of the book! And I love the cover, it is very eye catching.

Happy Reading!

~Adrienne

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

☘️ And then we are reading Irish literature ☘️

Is anyone looking forward to St. Patrick’s Day March 17, 2017?

According to Irish legend, the shamrock or clover was used by the patron Saint of Ireland, St. Patrick as an analogy when explaining the Holy Trinity. That is a THREE leafed clover in case you are interested and the FOUR leafed clover is often a sign of good luck and is attributed to St. Patrick’s Day. Unfortunately it does not appear that Patrick had a great deal of that luck in his life. When he was 16 he was kidnapped by the Irish and forced to work as a slave. He was eventually able to escape and sought theological training in France. Once his training was complete, Patrick felt God calling him to go back and evangelize to the Irish; he was often beaten, chained and imprisoned during his time as a Bishop in Ireland. Despite his run of bad luck, he was coined St. Patrick by popular opinion (never officially canonized) and he is credited for converting many people to Christianity. For some heavier reading, you can read St. Patrick’s Confessio or The Confession of Saint Patrick.

So…in honour of everything green and Irish, I am posting some book recommendations that will have you speaking Irish slang, cuddling up with a pint (or not) and a great Irish themed book!

The Stolen Child by Lisa Carey

Little Girl Lost (DS Lucy Black Series, 1) By Brian McGilloway

A Line Made By Walking by Sara Baume (Expected Publication 18 April 2017)

The Celtic Twilight: Faerie and Folklore by W. B. Yeats

Borderlands (Inspector Devlin Series, #1) by Brian McGilloway

Clever Tom and the Leprechaun by Linda Shute

There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Clover by Lucille Colandro

(And I’m pretty sure this Lady has swallowed just about everything now…)

“From Agamemnon to Zola: The books to look out for in 2017” ~ The Irish Times

12 Best Irish Novels for St. Patrick’s Day ~ The Daily Beast

Kindle Book Deals: Kindle Store ~ Amazon.ca

 

Happy Reading! ☘️

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

And then I’m sharing some quick book reviews

It has been a while since I have posted some actual book reviews and I am super excited to share what I have been reading so far in 2017! I have recently joined a couple of book reviewing companies and have received enough material to give me a huge head start on my READ50 challenge. Although my reviews are posted on Goodreads, Chapters/Indigo and Amazon, I also wanted to share them with my fellow bloggers. One of my goals for 2017 is to try to post at least once a week on this READ50 blog. Several of the books you will find here are soon to be published; watch for them upcoming if you need a book recommendation!

Two books I am looking forward to reading this year in particular are A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn (Pub. 10 January 2017) and The Paris Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal (Expected Publication 08 August 2017).

A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner (Expected Publication 14 March 2017)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31625062-a-bridge-across-the-ocean?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

A Bridge Across the Ocean is a refreshing and intriguing read. Historical Fiction books can often have predictable plots but Susan Meissner’s newest book is far from traditional WWII fiction. The story has strong believable heroines and has a hint of the supernatural.

Brette Caslake is a just a regular woman who tries hard to hide her ability to see ghosts and “Drifters”. Brette’s journey leads her to the RMS Queen Mary ship which instigates a hunt to discover the truth on a death which occurred on one sailing of War Brides to the United States. Simone Deveraux and Annaliese Lange both struggle to survive their own horrors as they live through WWII and find themselves both onboard the same voyage of the RMS Queen Mary to the United States. Brette tried to unravel the truth behind Simone and Annaliese’s voyage across the ocean and help her elusive “Drifter” find peace.

A Bridge Across the Ocean is a complex tale of survival and it can be powerful and emotional at times. I would highly recommend this book to those who love complex historical and WWII fiction novels.

I would also like to thank NetGalley and Berkley Publishing for an advanced reading of this book.

The Queen’s Accomplice by Susan Elia MacNeal (Maggie Hope Mystery, #6)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28503798-the-queen-s-accomplice?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

This recent installment of the Maggie Hope Series is packed full of drama, tensions and dangers. The setting is War time London and we get a glimpse of how scary and dark London could be for women at that time. On one hand women were given freedoms during this time in history that they otherwise were not privy to but on the other hand there were still those fighting for normalcy and traditional beliefs that a woman’s place is in the home. Maggie Hope shines in this novel, bursting with feminine determination. She does not want to let her gender or career path hold her back and at every turn she asserts her authority. My personal hope for the next book in the series The Paris Spy is that Maggie has some time to relax so she is not consumed by the darkness and death going on around her; at some point I hope her luck with relationships changes.

The May Queen by Helen Irene Young (Expected publication April 25, 2017)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32960279-the-may-queen?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

May is a unique, spirited and adventurous heroine. She comes across as not being afraid of anything. This is a story of a young May discovering herself amidst the death and destruction happening in the world around her. I found the writing style very hard to engage in for at least the first half of the book. By the time the War was raging around her, May seemed to become more real and the story became easier to translate. Through her War efforts, May is able to develop relationships, discover her individuality and begin to form her own opinions of the world. The May Queen is not an easy read but I will definitely remember the story and its quirkiness. From my critical opinion, I think the ambiguity and abstract writing found in the first half of the book might lead people to give up on the story before its completion.

I want to thank NetGalley and Crooked Cat Publishing for an advanced copy reading of this book.

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30821598-my-not-so-perfect-life?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

Sophie Kinsella has created another quirky and out of the box heroine. Katie is definitely different from many of the other characters in Kinsella’s other novels; she is not quite as wild, eccentric and clumsy as the others. In addition, Katie doesn’t seem to “fall” into things by chance but deliberately goes out to make a name for herself, wanting to climb the social and business ladders that she knows exist. I will say that I did miss some of the self depreciating humour that is so evident in Kinsella’s other novels. I wished Katie was a bit more embarrassing, had a few more BIG mistakes and at least one or two “I can’t imagine how humiliating that would be” moments. On the other hand, she IS different and I can appreciate the value in not creating the same type of characters over and over again.

The one character in who did disappoint me was Alex. At first I love his spontaneous and fun vibe but he sort of lost that as the story went on and in the end came across as just needing to be constantly uplifted emotionally.

There were too many gaps in the romance for me to make me give it a 5 star for that alone, but I enjoyed the book so much that overall I think it deserves a 5. It was a super fun read and I would definitely recommend it!

Beneath the Cypress Tree by Margaret Pemberton (Expected Publication 23 March 2017)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32860666-beneath-the-cypress-tree?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

Beneath the Cypress Tree is a story of three young British women desiring adventure and to make a name for themselves in the world of Archeology. I love the concept behind this book but it has too many flaws for me to give it better than a 2 star out of 5. For the first half we really don’t get to the heart of each of the three main heroines (Ella, Kate and Daphne) and most of what the reader does learn is second-hand information. Kate writes letters to Daphne discussing Ella’s budding relationship with a Greek national and Ella writes letters to Daphne giving hints at Kate’s secret interest in the Archeological dig director Lewis. I love the information about the archeological digs but as a reader I am still not sure what was the central conflict; is the basis of the novel supposed to be the characters’ romances, the archeological digs or something else?

From my opinion this novel should be two separate stories; it is long enough to be cut down on pages but also there is a division in the plot between what happens before and after the war. Just when it feels like the conflicts should be coming to some sort of resolution and end, instead the story takes a huge 360 degree turn and focuses on the war and politics etc. I do not understand how the war fits in with the first half of the novel at all. The second half of the book also gets confusing really quickly. There are so many things going on it is a hard to keep track of where people are and who they are with. I still do not really understand how most of the characters manage to survive through the German attack on Crete and find each other again. Neither are some of the coincidences very believable. Ella’s ex-fiance, Sam, really doesn’t need to come to Crete and somehow see Kate and he doesn’t add anything more to the story.

All in all, I wanted to like this book but I lost interest half way through when I was expecting some sort of conclusion.

I appreciate being given the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book and want to thank the publisher Pan Macmillan and NetGalley for the opportunity.

The Worthington Wife by Sharon Page 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29095431-the-worthington-wife?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

The Worthington Wife past expectations for me. I was expecting a fluffy historical romance but it was more than that with mystery and suspense. Julia Hazelton, the heroine, is energetic, kind-hearted but also a risk taker. As the new Earl of Worthington, Cal Carstairs defiant character also fit naturally into the story but he did brood a bit too much about his past mistakes. Julia and Cal struggle to see eye to eye. Julia wants Cal to take on his new role as Earl and make some much-needed changes to his estates and tenants. Cal wants to sell off the estate and pay back his relatives for the poor treatment he received growing up. Between their very different personalities and upbringings, Julia and Cal struggle with their obvious chemistry, each trying to win out their own agenda for the other person. The book was longer than I was anticipating but it kept me engaged and had a good pace. I did wish Zoe was in the plot a bit more as she connects the reader to the last book An American Duchess . Julia’s desire to help widows by funding small business was admirable but could have been developed throughout the plot in more detail. I give it a 5 star because I was captivated throughout the entire novel and didn’t find any major faults. I would definitely recommend this book!

Unrequited Alice by Sarah Louise Smith (Estimated Publication 16 March 2017)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34001754-unrequited-alice?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

Unrequited Alice is a fun and lighthearted book, a great summer great. I will admit it took me a good while to get into this book and I thought the first 3-5 pages spent too much time on Alice’s love for best friend’s fiancé. Overall the tone of the book is the same throughout and the conflict doesn’t seem to change either.

Alice is heartbroken that her best friend Hannah is marrying Ed, a man who Alice also happens to be in love with. On a last girls weekend away in Niagara Falls, CA, Alice and her friends meet a group of 4 guys who they immediately connect with. Alice feels like she is not ready for any new relationships until she can get Ed out of her thoughts but then finds herself drawn to Toby, one of the men she meets in Niagara Falls. Toby also went on holidays with his own baggage and he and Alice earn each other’s respect but find themselves struggling to keep their relationship just at the friendship level.

I feel like this story has been told before in many varieties so I give it a 3 out 5 stars. If I had any major judgement of it, it would be that the novel could be half the length it is and still tell the same story. However, Unrequited Alice was an enjoyable and lighthearted read and would be a great book to pickup to take on holidays or to the beach.

I also want to thank NetGalley and the Publisher Crooked Cat for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of the book.

A Wish Come True by Kolet Janssen (Expected Publication 13 June 2017)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32073202-a-wish-come-true?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

I thought this book was awesome. Mark is a child whose life is different from many other children but the author is able to keep the story light-hearted and fun. Mark does consider wishing for things like ice cream etc. which would be the natural answer of any young child but he is able to see past his own satisfaction and wish for something that would help others. I did like how the story doesn’t focus too strongly on Mark’s illness and allows Mark to dream big. Many children dream of being firemen or policemen when they grow up and I think the story would be relatable and exciting for children. I saw the importance of having the Make-A-Wish information at the end; people are able to learn more about the foundation and know how to support it if they can. I wouldn’t hesitate to read this book to my children.

I also want to thank the publisher Clavis and NetGalley for the opportunity to have a free advanced reading of this book.

Princess Lila Builds a Tower by Anne Paradis (Expected Publication 16 May 2017)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31863716-princess-lila-builds-a-tower?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

Princess Lila is an excited and energetic princess who dreams big. She has everything needs but Lila is still not happy. She is forbidden to enter the forest and so she decides to build a tower that is taller than not only the castle but also the forest.

I read this story to my 5-year-old daughter who was interested in the story right away because of the wonderful drawings and the hopes of discovering a new princess that she has not heard of before. My daughter loved the story but did begin to be distracted and uninterested about half way through the book. The lull in the middle part of the book however did not distract her completely and by the end of the story she was still waiting for more pages!

Any children’s book which can entertain my 5-year-old from start to finish deserves at least a 4 star in my opinion. If I have any advice to the publisher/author it would be to somehow put some sort of conflict in the middle of the story to keep the attention of young kids but otherwise it was a good read!

Also, I’d like to thank NetGalley and Chouette Publishing-CrackBoom for a free Kindle edition of the book to review.

Thanks for following my READ50 and Happy Reading!

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

And then we are discussing: FREE books

FREE Books? What!?! And how do I sign up? Blogging and book reviewing doesn’t have to be the only way to get your hands on free books. One question I get asked all the time is…”how do you get so many free books?” Not everyone enjoys reviewing books but I am pretty sure everyone loves free stuff. Below are a few ways that I get free books and some other recommendations that might interest you. 

 

Enter Contests

  • Right now there is a March Madness going on with Harper Collins Canada and you can enter once a day to win a 64 book library! Here is the link for that if you are interested: http://www.hccmarchmadness.ca
  • I enter just about every contest I see if the prize is worth winning. Sometimes  it is stuff that I will never use like a pod coffee machine or a men’s watch but most often it is stuff I can either use myself or easily sell. Last year I even won a $5000 shopping spree at Leons! Books happen to be one of those things that you can often find tons of giveaways for.
  • Goodreads also does a ton of Book Giveaways. It is a bit time consuming because you have to individually enter EACH one. On the upside, you can use key words to narrow down which books might interest you and there is a huge list of possible books you can win. GoodReads Giveaways
  • Twitter/Facebook are also great places to catch book giveaways. Some of the accounts I follow which regularly do giveaways are @SavvyReader, @PenguinCanada, RandomHouseCA & @ChaptersIndigo. Scene on Facebook does giveaways regularly too https://www.facebook.com/SCENE
  • First Look with Harper Collins Canada (#HCCFirstLook). “What’s #HCCFirstLook? It’s a program that gives Canadian readers exclusive access to advanced copies of HarperCollins books before anyone else!” harpercanada.wpengine.com/first-look BUT be fast because the titles change frequently!
  • Thanks to HarperCollinsCanada I won a pre-release copy of Miss You by Kate Eberlen earlier this month!

 http://harpercanada.wpengine.com/first-look/26594969.jpg

Read Books Digitally and/or Sign up for Free Ebooks

  • NetGalley is my newest favourite website for finding pre-published books. Once you sign up for NetGalley, you can either scan the “Read Now” titles or you can put your name in to request to read many others. Publishers are often looking for specific audiences for pre-release books so if you fit their desired profile then they will approve your request and send you a Kindle copy of the book to read. This is a great option for people who like to review books as the purpose of sites like NetGalley is to get feedback on books before they are published. 
  • Try Amazon. Did you know Amazon has a ton of books either free or for less than $1? Amazon Top 100 Free: https://www.amazon.ca/Best-Sellers-Kindle-Store/zgbs/digital-text/ref=zg_bs?_encoding=UTF8&tf=1 There are also tons of websites out there which will notify you if Amazon is having a sale on Kindle books.This is a much cheaper option to get ebooks; many new ebooks can now cost $10 and up. 
  • Access the E-Resources with your library card. Your library card likely gets you access to several ebook  databases. OverDrive, Cloud Library and many others offer thousands of books free with your Public Library Card. Some libraries even loan-out E-readers that come pre-loaded with books. The list of e-resources at my local library, Leduc Public Library, is quite extensive: http://www.leduclibrary.ca/eresources

Find a Little Free Library or Arrange a Book Swap

  • Little Free Libraries are a great way to share and read used books. We even have one in Leduc, AB in the Willow Park neighbourhood. You can take the books from the Little Free Library and return them there or leave some books of your own that you no longer want. Hopefully in the future there will be many more of these around. Here is a link to find locations on existing ones or how to start your own in your neighbourhood: https://littlefreelibrary.org
  • If you don’t have a Little Free Library in your area, you can easily set up a book swap with your friends. Everyone has some sort of stack of books at home that they have already read (usually shoved in the back of their closet somewhere) and aren’t sure what to do with. Host a coffee/tea night where everyone brings some books and leave with the same number of books they brought.  Freecycle is a great way to connect with others who are giving away free stuff. There are tons of local Alberta groups where people post all kinds of free stuff including books: https://groups.freecycle.org/group/EdmontonAB/posts/all

pexels-photo

And Finally: Check Out Your Local Library!

Happy Reading!

~Litldods

 

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

And then we are discussing Book Clubs

Does reading have to be a solitary and personal experience? The quiet and peacefulness that accompanies reading is part of what draws me to a new book but discovering a great book does not have to be individualistic. Book Clubs are a great way to find new genres to read and also a great way to find new friends who share your passion for literature.

Do you have a book club that you are already apart of and have advice to share with those looking? In all honestly I can say that I have not participated in very many book clubs. Because I did a minor in English in University, it often felt like all of my classes were large group book clubs.  I remember being amazed in my first English course how my opinion of a book could be so different from someone else’s. Every person in my class had their own feelings about the plot, characters, resolution and even the writing style of the books we read. At first it upset me and left me feeling frustrated; I might have absolutely hated an ending and someone else liked it (sometimes even the professor) but after a while I realized that other people’s interpretations of literature can help you broaden your own worldview. If this wasn’t the case then group analysis of books would not be as beneficial or widespread. Canadian Living discusses 10 benefits of being a part of book club:

  1. Community
  2. Intellectual stimulation
  3. New books and new people
  4. A break from everyday life
  5. The freedom to be honest
  6. Friendship
  7. Self-expression
  8. Lifetime connections
  9. Spending time with other women (men)
  10. A welcome space for strangers

http://www.canadianliving.com/life-and-relationships/community-and-current-events/article/10-benefits-of-joining-a-book-club

I think all of these reasons are valid and helpful. I know many people who would LOVE to join a book club but do not know where to find information on some or the knowledge of how to start one up themselves.

So have I convinced you and you have decided that a book club is what you need? You might want to do a bit of research before joining just any book club and/or announcing to all of your friends that you are starting up your own. Here are some of the questions you might want to ask yourself before starting up a book club:

  • What will be the theme, genre, style

    • What types of books are you interested in? Are your friends that you want to ask to be apart of your book club interested in the same types of books as you or will you be flexible? If you only read Historical Fiction or Sci-Fi books you might bore everyone after book #2. I would recommend having some kind of book guide to help you choose your titles (ie. reading Canada Reads Longlist or Hot and New Fiction lists from Amazon & Chapters/Indigo, or only New Canadian Authors)
  • Make some (new) friends

    • Give word to your existing friends that you are starting up a book club and what type of books you will be reading. Let them know that if they aren’t interested to share the word. You probably want between 5 and 15 people in your club but that doesn’t mean those have to be people you are already connected with. This is a great time to make some new friends outside of your regular social bubble.
  • Set some guidelines

    • Pick a location, doesn’t have to be your own home. You might decide to meet at a different person’s house each week or to take the pressure off trying to have a clean house you could choose a quiet coffee shop or library to meet. Meeting outside of the home also checks off the “A break from everyday life” benefit of a book club. Pick a time to meet that works for most of the people you hope to have attend (ie. after bedtime or on a weekend). Pick a duration. Nobody likes to go to stuff that they are expecting to be 1 hr long only to find themselves stuck for 2+ hrs. Just give an idea of how long you plan for each meeting to be so that people know what to expect.
  • Pick a Co-Leader(s)

    • You do not want to be the only person picking the books for your book club, for many reasons. Good co-leaders can help you keep up on what other people would like to read (this may not coincide with your own opinion). They can also take the reins if and when you miss a meeting. Everyone has their own talents and yours might not be social media or keeping up on emails. Pick some friends to be co-leaders that are reliable and maybe fill a few of the gaps in your own abilities.
  • Keep a record

    • Social media is great at helping with this. You could open up a free blog (wordpress.com) or have a Facebook group for your book club. That way you can let everyone know where and when you are meeting and maybe even keep notes and write down ideas. Want to be apart of an ONLINE ONLY book club? You might think that is weird but it is actually pretty common. You can find book clubs online for just about any interest or genre or author.  Goodreads Groups is great for this and it will even send you emails when someone comments on a thread or makes a new post in the book club you choose to follow.

For those local to me in Alberta, the Leduc Public Library offers a book club in the evening on the third Wednesday of every month (http://leduclibrary.ca/content/spring-adult-programs-registered). They even offer a writing club if you are looking to get some creative juices flowing. 

For some book reading guides and to follow other book club ideas this is a great website too: http://www.readinggroupguides.com

I’d love to hear about your book clubs and what you are reading and how you decided on your book lists! 

Happy Reading!!

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Do you have a favourite cookbook?

1st Question: Do you have a favourite cookbook?

As many of you know I not only love to read, I also love to bake. I would definitely never claim to be a stellar cook but I do take pride in baking and decorating pretty treats (If you want to see a few of my creations you can head over to my other site www.evenabratcanmakeit.wordpress.com). Imaginative and creative are also two things that I would never use to describe myself, which is why cookbooks are essential in my kitchen. Do you have a top 4 when it comes to your go-to cookbooks; these are always the cookbooks you would feel a bit panicked if they got lost or damaged? I definitely do and am happy to share mine. 

cookbooks

2nd question: Do YOU write in your cookbooks?  

Many people love to mark up their cookbooks, putting notes here and there: add more sugar, use less flour, never make again, amazing, my husband said it was just fine, the kids actually ATE it…

The New York Times wrote an article on how collectors of old books actually consider a marked up cookbook to be a relic (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/30/dining/cookbooks-echo-with-the-wisdom-of-chefs-past.html?ref=dining)

I on the other hand still have a hard time taking a pen to any book even cookbooks. Most of my cookbooks do have sticky notes in them though or I have used a bookmark and wrote on the bookmark. Modifying recipes to make them perfect is necessary and at the end of the process it helps you feel proud of your food creation.

Some early cookbook favourites of mine were The Best of Bridge series. I loved “reading” the books, not so much for their recipes but because of the stories in them. Almost every page has a joke or a saying or a life lesson. Some of the comments are pretty hilarious and others give you a quick view of what life was like as a mother in the 1970s and 80s.

“DEFYING ALL ORWELLIAN PROPHECIES (AND SOME OF OUR OWN) 1984 HAS BECKONED US BACK FROM THE WAREHOUSE TO OUR KITCHENS AND WRITING DESKS.

TRENDS AND TIMES DO CHANGE. WE SEE NEARLY 50% OF WOMEN NOW IN THE WORK-FORCE, AND THAT EVER INCREASING NEW BREED – SINGLE PARENTS – INCLUDING FATHERS IN A NEW ROLE, KEEN AND EAGER TO MAKE A STEP UPWARDS FROM BOILING WATER. ONE CAN’T LIVE ON T.V. DINNERS ALONE – THE CHILDREN WON’T ALLOW IT! ” Winners: More Recipes From the Best of Bridge: pg 3 (1984).

Times haven’t changed so much, everyone is looking to squeeze in time for healthier meals for their families. Most of the cookbooks on the shelves right now have the words “quick” or “easy” in their title somewhere.

3d Question: What is it about your favourite cookbook that makes it your favourite?

I wanted to give you a few reasons for WHY these four are my favourite go-to cookbooks right now.

Company’s Coming Breakfasts & Brunches by Jean Paré. This is my all around breakfast book (let’s be honest, it only comes out on weekends and holidays). It will teach you basic recipes for most breakfast meals that your family would enjoy. The two most heavily used pages in my book are the pages with Waffles and Pancake recipes. This cookbook contains tons of egg recipes from basic things like learning how to make Scrambled Eggs to making more complicated things like Eggs Benedict and Egg Enchiladas.

Five Roses: A Guide to Good Cooking by Elizabeth Driver. If you need a cookbook to teach you basic things like what temperature to cook a roast beef to or to find a sauce to go with your pasta or vegetables then this would be your book. It has been well used in my kitchen since I got married. I actually couldn’t really cook much of anything until I got married. My husband liked to try out new recipes and we sort of learned how to cook things together (obviously with many failed recipes along the way). I still reach for this book often just to double-check things or find a sauce recipe. I think it is the perfect book to give any newly weds or really anyone, it should be a must have in your cookbook collection.

Company’s Coming: Most Loved Cookies by Jean Paré. I know I have 2 Company’s Coming books on my list but I can’t leave this one out. This book was probably what ignited my passion for baking delicious treats. I don’t think I have ever made a recipe from it that failed. I keep all my recipe cards for everything inside it and often just pick it up to look at the pictures and get ideas. The picture on the front cover says everything, delicious chocolate chip cookies! Company’s Coming: Most Loved Cookies covers everyday type cookies as well as shortbread and other Christmas treats. Many of the recipes are KID FRIENDLY if you are brave enough to let your kids touch your flour container.

Layered: Baking, Building and Styling Spectacular Cakes by Tessa Huff. EXCELLENT. I highly recommend purchasing this book if you love cakes and baking. The pictures alone make it worth purchasing. I have used recipes from Tessa Huffs cookbook many times all with success. She goes into detail on everything so you can make the perfect icing, cake layers and decorations. I even attempted the cake on the front cover just because it was so pretty I couldn’t resist. My cakes will never be quite so pretty but I appreciate all the wisdom and advice Tessa offers in her book.

Thank-you for putting up with my food inspired Book Blog this week and happy reading (I mean baking)!

strawberry-shortcake-2

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Author Interview: Cyana Gaffney

VEILED by Cyana Gaffney

cyana-gaffney-author-profile

Q & A With Cyana Gaffney

Q: What made you sit down and start writing your first book?

A: I’ve always had crazy, vivid dreams. So one night I had an intense dream where I was hiding in a spice market from a group of men. My husband was at the other end of the tent, and I was trying to figure out how to get his attention, but yet not alert these men. I won’t give more details as that would give away some part of the book, but when I woke up, the first thought I had was “wow that would make a great novel.” And so I sat down and started researching how to write, details for my book, and then got to writing. It has been quite the wild journey.

Q: Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

A: Briefly, but then I thought that, hey I’m me and it took me a long time to be okay with being me… so… it would be silly to “be someone” else now. So, Cyana Gaffney, it is.

Q: Are you friends with any other authors, and if so, how do they help you become a better writer?

A: I know a few authors, but at this point, we are just starting to share our journey with each other. The exception is Ruth Johnstone (a lovely woman) who wrote: When Troubles Fall Like Lemon Drops. She gave me some great advice. She said, “It’s great to get writing your next book, but don’t forget to market VEILED. When VEILED takes off, that will help bring in income so that you can work less, which then will free up time so you can spend more time writing.”

Q: Do you have any writing rituals or superstitions?

A: No superstitions. But I do have a very specific process before I start writing. I sit down and write in bullet point form, all the events of the book that I know I want to have. Sometimes this starts with just a handful of ideas. Then I take two of those points and ask myself how I could connect them. I keep up this process until the full outline has been written out and I have a clear picture of the entire storyline and how the characters will develop. This process saves me SO much time by not having to rewrite things or discard parts when I realize they don’t fit or hit a wall and need to change directions. It’s so much easier to think through that beforehand rather than make those adjustments later on. Changing bullet points are far easier than going back and editing chapters to make them fit and flow.

Q: What was the strangest thing you had to research online for your book?

A: Hmm, maybe the effects of different type of bombs on a human body. It was interesting to learn about, but it felts like a weird thing to know.

Q: What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

A: Two things: 1) I purchased a Chromebook. It’s small, light and so easy to transport back and forth from home to coffee shops. It also has an incredibly long battery life. 2) A grammar program that I purchased for assisting with the second edition of VEILED. I will be using this for all my writing from now on. For the first edition of VEILED, I had six people review it, and we all missed stuff. And while editors do a great job, I just didn’t want to invest that kind of money at this point. So this program corrects while I write and saves me a lot of time re-reading my manuscripts. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is reading something so many times just to try and find things like missing commas… dull, dull, dull!!

Q: How did you select the names of your characters?

A: For the American characters, it was pretty simple – I thought of names I liked and that sound good together. For some of the foreign names, I had a bit of fun with them. I went to a site for Muslim baby names and picked names based on the meaning. I wanted to have a name that embodied a personality trait of that character. For example, Ghada means delicate, young girl.

Q: Did you come across any specific challenges in writing VEILED? What would you do differently the next time?

A: Well because I looked at writing as a hobby at first, I didn’t set any deadlines or goals. Which aided in it taking me years to write VEILED. There were sometimes years between me working on it, and I would forget some of the character development I had done earlier and therefore, I unknowingly duplicated it later on in the story. This duplication made it wordy and turned parts of my book into ‘drama queen mush.’ I had to do a lot of thoughtful editing and cutting out which took time. I have now added character development points to my outline process. This way I don’t fall into the same trap, and therefore, I don’t waste my writing time by duplicating work.

Q: How long on average did it take you to write the book?

A: I think I started it in 2004 or 2005. There were months on end that you would find me at the coffee shop every weekend, but then years where I wouldn’t touch it. As hobbies go, sometimes you take time for them and sometimes you don’t. But my goal for the next book is 5-6 months.

Q: Does your family support your career as a writer?

A: Yes, they are very supportive. They all loved VEILED and are pushing me to keep writing. My daughter, unbeknownst to me, took an article about me in the paper and went around to all the teachers in her whole school and invited them to the book launch party. It’s super encouraging to have such a great cheering section.

Q: What are your thoughts on writing a book series?

A: Well I’m in the process of writing the sequel to VEILED, called THE SAND BRIDE. So… I would say that I’m in big support of it – haha. But I’m stopping this series after that and not making it into a trilogy. I think you need to be careful with series and not push it past where the characters can realistically go, and common sense ends in regards to scenes/events. You need to write great scenes that push your characters to grow and adapt, but you need to know when to let it end and be okay letting those characters go.

Q: What’s something you are really good at that few people know about?

A: Card/board games and volleyball.

Q: What type of books did you read in preparation for writing VEILED?

A: Actually, I tried not to read anything during the bulk of writing VEILED. I didn’t want to be affected too much by others creative take on the subjects I was covering. My mind can sometimes have a tendency to latch on to great ideas, and once that happens, it’s hard to separate from it and move on to create my story. I wanted this book to be mine and not chance getting hung up. So I limited my reading to research.

Q: If you could go for coffee with any of your characters who would it be?

A: Sarna – I would love to have longer conversations with her about her life and her perspectives.

Q: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

A: I had never considered that I would be a writer. But once I held VEILED in my hands, I realized just how much I loved getting it to that stage. I discovered that this is what I wanted to do from now on and I couldn’t wait to start writing the sequel.

Q: What advice would you give to children who are interested in creative writing?

A: If you want to write, you will go on a journey that is all your own as you learn your style, and what you want subjects you’d like to cover. Don’t feel discouraged or sad if your path doesn’t look like someone else’s. BE YOU!! That’s beautiful, so don’t take that away from the world by trying to copy someone else or what they do.

Q: Are you hoping to write a second novel and if so, do you have any ideas as to what type of novel you would like to write in the future?

A: Well as previously mentioned, I’m writing the sequel to VEILED called THE SAND BRIDE. But I also have another book idea all ready to go, called THE DOOR. For both of those books, I want them to get my readers to take an honest look at difficult subjects and have that challenge them to heal and grow.

Q: If someone wanted to buy a copy of VEILED where can they get the book?

A: You can buy it on my website: cyanagaffney.com, and you can also purchase it on all the Amazon websites. It will also be available in select bookstores in the Edmonton area by the end of February.

I just want to say a big THANK-YOU!! to Cyana Gaffney for consenting to an interview about her new book VEILED

If you would like to purchase a copy of the book you can do so on Cyana’s website: cyanagaffney.com

Or on Amazon.ca: https://www.amazon.ca/Veiled-Cyana-Gaffney/dp/1540496082

Happy READING!

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized