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

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And Finally: Check Out Your Local Library!

Happy Reading!

~Litldods

 

 

 

 

 

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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!!

 

 

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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. 

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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

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Author Interview: Cyana Gaffney

VEILED by Cyana Gaffney

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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!

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Setting Reading Goals & Annual Reading Challenges

Now that 2017 is firmly underway, what sort of reading challenge have you set for yourself? Some people struggle to read one book a month and others are like a sponge and cannot find enough books to read. With annual events like Family Literacy Day and Summer Reading Games participating in literacy awareness can be easy. Schools host Book Fairs and the TD Canadian Children’s Book Week as well as many new baby programs now include a free book to families with their newborn packages.  Many libraries in Alberta even offer free library cards; I believe access to libraries and their services should be free across Canada, why not?

When it comes to reading goals, do you include your family in your challenge or just plan it for yourself? I tend to not include my children in my reading goals but I do include any chapter books that I read to them in my yearly book count. My kids do like to participate in our local library’s annual Summer Reading Game and it challenges them to try new types of books and find fun ways to read. Recording your books on a website such like Goodreads is an easy way to keep track of all the titles you have read and helps you track your progress. In addition, Goodreads has book giveaways you can enter to win free books; sometimes just reading through the list of giveaways on Goodreads can spark your interest in a genre that you may not have considered trying before.

@Savvyreader also has a 50 Book Pledge website up and running for 2017 which is another great way to record the books you read this year, write some book reviews and connect with other readers.

I have done a bit of research and people seem to love book challenges that want you to read specific types of books, ie. “read a book written by a Canadian author”. Popsugar has a checklist style book challenge for 2017 which is printable: http://www.popsugar.com/love/Reading-Challenge-2017-42561300. Furthermore, you can record your progress in this challenge and join the group with the many other readers also aspiring to this goal on Goodreads called the Ultimate Popsugar Reading Challenge group.

If you are loyal to very specific genres, you might want to try looking through this website with the “Master List” of reading challenges. This list is sure to have a reading challenge for just about anyone.

For those just starting out and wanting something different, a good starting place is always the Canada Reads Longlist. The 5 finalists from this list are posted on January 31, 2017.

We will all get to a point in our book challenges in 2017 when we are at a loss of what book to try next. I would recommend then turning to some of your favourite authors websites and blogs and see what they are reading. Chances are good that you will also like many of the same books your favourite author is reading and might even find another favourite author to add to your list. Another option is to try to find something local. Has anyone in your city/town recently published a book? You would probably be surprised at how many people you know that will know someone else who has written and published a book. Supporting local authors is important and helps to build a sense of community.

Here is a list of some of recently published books I am looking forward to reading for my 2017 READ50 list:

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

Witch Switch by Sibeal Pounder (Arc Book Courtesy of Goodread’s giveaway)

Veiled by Cyana Gaffney (Leduc, AB local author)

A Perilous Undertaking (Veronica Speedwell, #2) by Deanna Raybourn

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Family Literacy Day January 27, 2017

As an avid reader and mother of two, I am really excited for Family Literacy Day January 27th, 2017! It is a chance for us to actively try to spend at least 15 minutes of our day reading to ourselves, to our children, and/or to play any sort of game with our family that includes reading. Many libraries and schools across Canada are participating in different Family Literacy Day events for good reason. In a statement from the Government of Canada:

“Strong literacy and essential skills are so important for children’s success at school and adults’ success at work. That is why our government is investing in skills development and proudly joining Canadians in celebrating Family Literacy Day” http://www.cdnsba.org/new-site-fr/?p=856

 

The Leduc Public Library is hosting an event for Family Literacy Day and is also part of a Canada wide challenge to read ANYTHING for 15 minutes (this also includes blogs, web sites, magazines). Leduc Public Library web site for Family Literacy Day: http://www.leduclibrary.ca/content/family-literacy-events Make sure to log your 15 minutes of reading tomorrow on this website to help Leduc be the most “read” city in Canada this year!

There are also events all across Canada and a list by Province can be found here: http://abclifeliteracy.ca/events

There are so many ways to include reading in your family activities. We love to read to our children at bedtime, even our son who is 9 has always looked forward to getting another few chapters read to him at the end of the day (our current series is “The 39 Clues“). Reading not only helps him calm down before bed but also requires us as parents to stop whatever household chores etc. that we are doing and spend some time with our kids. After years of reading to our kids, it is nice to see them excited to bring home their school library books or pick out new books at our Public Library. Kids take so much pride in their reading skills as well. They get excited to show you how they can read and I think it is important to give them a chance to read to you once in a while too. Occasionally if my kids are bored or I am busy I will even get my older child to read a book his younger sibling. I always think he will refuse when I ask him but he takes so much pride in knowing how to read that he will sit and read it to his sister using as much inflection as he knows how to at his age.

For some lists of books that are age appropriate for your children I found a few good websites which categorize book recommendations based on age: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-lists (this site also has app recommendations for learning and vocabulary games etc.) and http://www.scholastic.com/parents/books-and-reading

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Progress! January Reads

My READ50 for 2017 is off to a good start. Some months I find I have more time and interest in reading than others and January has been a busy reading month for me. So far I have read 7 books for my reading challenge this year. My list of to-read books is getting shorter though so if anyone has any recommendations for me please feel free to comment and suggest some!

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Some of my thoughts on a few of my January reads:

The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams & Lauren Willig 

3 stars out of 5

This book is worth giving a consideration. With romance, a historical home and three women from one family lineage, The Forgotten Room is an engaging historical fiction. The story moves between three different women but if you pay attention it is not difficult to follow the diverging plots. It is even more interesting when you realize that it was written by three different authors all working together and taking turns at different parts of the plot. The story itself is a bit unbelievable but sometimes that is what we hope for in a novel, that it will take us somewhere other than real life. I didn’t think it was outstanding but definitely worth a 3 star rating in my opinion.

Mr. Churchill’s Secretary (Maggie Hope Mystery, #1) by Susan Elia MacNeal

4 stars out of 5

Despite receiving some bad reviews on GoodReads, I actually really enjoyed this book and wouldn’t hesitate to pick up another novel in the series. It is really not as bad as some reviewers make it out to be. Yes Maggie, the heroine, was a little naive but women in general were not given a lot of responsibility during that period in history. I appreciated the author’s notes at the end of the book where she describes her conversations and correspondences with real war time secretaries. One lady interviewed mentioned that in real life their secretarial responsibilities were definitely not exciting or glamorous and they certainly did not have time for romance. Obviously a fictional novel wouldn’t be as exciting or fun to read if the author only wrote about the lonely and dark lives of the secretaries during war times. All in all I liked it and give it 4 out of 5.

The Whistler by John Grisham

3 out of 5 stars

I think time for big expectations and hype with John Grisham novels has come and gone. I enjoyed reading The Whistler but it fell short in some ways. There were moments when it captivates you and others when you just want to skip a few pages of lengthy detail. Lucy, the heroine, works for the Florida Bureau of Judicial Conduct and she and her partner Hugo are asked to investigate the fraud of a long serving and influential judge. The fraud involves large sums of offshore money, unexplained murders and a Casino run on Native American lands. There are some unexpected twists in the plot but for the most part the narrative is smooth and somewhat predictable. Furthermore, the end of the book feels rushed and anti-climactic. Grisham neatly wraps up all loose ends in the conclusion by foregoing narrative and just recaps the events so you can end the book. The ending feels rushed and unfulfilling. I would still recommend this book but I will definitely have lower expectations for any new John Grisham books that might be published.

Death of An Avid Reader by Frances Brody

3 stars out of 5

I took a chance on trying to find a new mystery novel series with a female heroine. Death of An Avid Reader was harder to get into than I was hoping. In the first few chapters I couldn’t figure out what story thread I was trying to follow as Kate Shackelton, the main character, was jumping all over the U.K. After the third chapter I couldn’t figure out what was going on and almost gave up. I kept plodding through and eventually the story started to make sense and I began to recognize the characters. I think there were just too many unintroduced characters in this novel to make it successful. It was difficult to follow and more than a few times I was completely lost to who a character was when a name was mentioned. By the end of the book I enjoyed the main thread of the story and I would pickup a second book in the series just to see if some of those characterization and plot problems have been worked out in subsequent books.

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READ50 2017 to be continued..

READ50 2017 Here I Come!

My list of to-read books for this year is quite short so if anyone has any recommendations let me know! I love book series, Historical Fiction, Cookbooks, Mystery and many other genres so feel free to comment with some recommendations!

Here is my to-read list so far:

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

 

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

 

The Whistler (Whistler, #1) by John Grisham

 

The House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe

 

All In (Only One Night, #1) by Simona Ahrnstedt

 

Death of an Avid Reader (Kate Shackelton, #6) by Frances Brody

 

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

 

The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig

 

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

 

A Perilous Undertaking (Veronica Speedwell, #2) by Deanna Raybourn

The Crocodile on the Sandbank (Amelia Peabody, #1) by Elizabeth Peters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My READ50 for 2016!

Well 2016 was a busy year and looking back I find that I really did not do very many book reviews. I did manage to complete my READ50 challenge for yet another year and I believe my final total was ~52 books for 2016! Although I did not review all of the books I read, I do want to tell you about a few of my favourite books and series as well as a few undiscovered authors that you may or may not have heard of. But first, take a quick look at the titles I did read and see if there are any that pique your interest for the upcoming year.

Link to Adrienne’s GoodReads List for 2016

 

By Gaslight by Steven Price

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https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28007842-by-gaslight?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

William Pinkerton hunting Adam Foole; a private detective versus a notorious thief. Just like his father before him, Pinkerton spends his life chasing a ghost thief name Shade in this historical/crime fiction novel. I really enjoyed this novel and it kept me engaged in the storyline and was easy to follow even with some time-shifting. The author, Steven Price, does do away with typographical convention though and removed all dialogue quotation marks. This reading style does take a bit of getting used to but after the first chapter I found it did not bother me.

The 39 Clues series by Rick Riordan

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8941418-the-39-clues-complete-collection?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

My son really enjoys this series. It is one of his favourites to have us read aloud to him at bedtime. We go back and forth between “The 39 Clues” original series books and “The 39 Clues: Cahills vs. Vespers” series which is in succession to the first series. I would recommend only reading it to the older children and young teens as it can be violent sometimes. The writing style in the novels can be difficult at times when reading aloud I find I often have to either leave out words or add words to make it sound grammatically correct.

Layered: Baking, Building, and Styling by Tessa Huff

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26240710-layered?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

What a great cake book! I was so excited when this book arrived in the mail and I will be honest, I rarely spend $ on new books. I recently made a new cake and used the Buttercream recipe from “Layered” and it turned out simply delicious, like whipped cream consistency and so yummy. Super baking book and I would highly recommend. If you want to see my cake creation, check out my blog post using Tessa Huffs buttercream recipe: http://wp.me/p3QU1I-9M

Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series by Laurie R. King

https://www.goodreads.com/series/40966-mary-russell-and-sherlock-holmes

This is definitely my favourite series of 2016. I was sad to reach the end of the books and wished there were more to come! In September of 2016 the final book was published which is a collection of short stories; Mary Russell’s War: And Other Stories of Suspense

The Mapmakers Trilogy by S.E.Grove

These three books are for any Science Fiction / Fantasy readers out there. It is a juvenile series but I found it entertaining and enjoyable to read. It can be dark and I am not sure I would let my child read it but definitely fine for teenagers and older. The trilogy follows the lives of Sophia, her uncle Shadrack and her friend Theo. They traverse through different lands all the while learning that time itself can be abstract. Each land they visit they experience different types of people and creatures and have to discern who to trust and who they should not. I found the characterization a bit shallow but the imagination and fun in each of these novels was enough to keep me reading. So much creativity in these books; how S.E. Grove was able to think up such a wild and exciting world I cannot begin to imagine. The books in order are:

  1. The Glass Sentence
  2. The Golden Specific
  3. The Crimson Screw

https://www.goodreads.com/series/118416-the-mapmakers-trilogy

These are my top books for 2016 and I hope to have many more books to share in 2017! Please feel free to comment on what your favourite books were for the year as I am always looking for suggestions. ~ Adrienne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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MY READ50 Finale for 2015!

2015 is all finished and so is my READ50 list for 2015 (full READ50 list http://wp.me/P5G0BQ-m). I am a day behind in getting my post up for my list but here it is! I am looking forward to another year of great books and always appreciate any recommendations from friends.

One of the first books up on my READ12483610_10153688307355700_546424048_n50 list for 2016 is pre-release book I was gifted by author Nikki A. Lamers: The Unforgettable Summer. I will hopefully have a review on it for you soon.  

I am also looking forward to a few reads that I never got to in 2015:

  • The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny, Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella, The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory, and Off The Page by Jodi Picoult and Samantha  Van Leer. 

50 ~ What Pet Should I Get by Dr. Seuss

Book #50 of my READ50 for 2015!!!

My daughter was gifted this book at Christmas. It is a Dr. Seuss book which was not published during his lifetime (posthumously, to be grammatically correct). I will give you the one line response from my children once we finished reading it (see below). It will basically explain everything that you will need to know about this book.

But first, I want to explain what was going through my head as I was reading it to my children. The book starts with all sorts of pets that Jay and Kay could get. As I am reading I can’t help but think this book can only end poorly if the kids can only choose ONE pet and they start out already wanting both a dog AND a cat. Someone is going to be upset, either the dog lover or the cat lover, etc. Then you add in a fish and a Yent – of course we all know what a YENT is right? And then things just get very complicated by adding in a hypothetical angry Dad which can also only mean disaster for Jay and Kay (insert visual on Dad mandating time-outs and Jay and Kay having melt-downs). After all of this going through my head while I am reading the story, I am met with a very abrupt and inconclusive ending. I am left feeling undecided about how much I like this book. I know I am not alone in this because I have since watched the faces of many adults as they read What Pet Should I Get? only to laugh and say “I know, right!?!”

And so, I will leave you to my spoiler ending and wish you happy reading for 2016!

***Contains a spoiler.

Tukari and Brynn collectively:
“So, we don’t get to find out what pet they get? That’s dumb.”

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24968109-what-pet-should-i-get?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

49 ~ A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn (Veronica Speedwell Mystery, Book 1)

My favourite author! I really liked Veronica Speedwell and this seems like a fresh new series for Deanna Raybourn. I did find some of the descriptions to be a bit repetitive. We understand that Veronica is different, unusual etc. but reminding the readers over and over again gets annoying. Otherwise a great fun read and I always look forward to reading Deanna Raybourn’s books. Honestly her novels are some of the only books I have read multiple times.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23160039-a-curious-beginning?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

48 ~ The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes Series #1)

Tops my fav 5 list for 2015. I can’t wait to read some of the other books in this series. I love mysteries and what is better than a female heroine who is partnered with the famous Sherlock Holmes? I can’t say I have ever REALLY read a book about Sherlock Holmes but I have watched enough TV in my life to understand his character. I enjoyed getting to know Sherlock Holmes from the perspective of Mary. At the young age of 15, Mary becomes Holmes’ apprentice after dazzling him with her intelligence and quick wit. Mary is strong and self-assured but clearly has need of friendship after her family is killed in an accident. Holmes’ takes Mary under his wing and trains her in the art of solving mysteries and how to be a successful detective. Along the way it becomes apparent that Mary and Holmes each have their own strengths and they learn to rely upon each other the most when their lives are at risk. I really appreciate Mary’s desire to learn and take control of her own life while acknowledging that she still needs the guidance and experience of her mentor. Mary is a strong heroine but I also learned a lot about Sherlock Holmes through reading this book. I can’t wait to read more of Mary and Holmes’ adventures in the rest of the books in this series.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/91661.The_Beekeeper_s_Apprentice?utm_medium=api&utm_source=blog_book

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