Saturday, December 31, 2011

REVIEW: HALF THE SKY BY NICHOLAS KRISTOF


This book has changed my life. I never went anywhere without it while I was reading it. There has never been a non-fiction book that I have read that I did not want it to end! I inhaled every single word of it, and was disturbed, moved, inspired, and most importantly driven TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT MATERNAL HEALTH AND THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN WORLDWIDE.

Nicholas and Sheryl paint vivid portraits of many women throughout the world, and some of whom I will never forget.  But perhaps the one that moved me most, and had me sobbing, was the story of the 14 year old girl, named Mahabouba, who was a second wife and was in labour with her first baby for over 7 days.  On the seventh day she delivered her dead baby only to realize that she was uncontrollably leaking urine  and feces, and could no longer walk due to the nerve damage in her legs.  The leaking of her bodily wastes was caused by a fistula, an all too common traumatic birth injury that currently affects more than TWO MILLION WOMEN in developing nations.

Disgusted by her foul odor, and convinced she had been cursed, the villagers and her family forced her to live in a hut outside the village, but not before taking the door off so that the hyenas could come and attack her in the night.  After darkness the hyenas came.  Mahabouba could not move her legs so she grabbed a nearby stick and waved it at the hyenas and yelled as they circled her all night;  all night long she fended them off.

The next morning the only hope that Mahabouba had was to crawl to find help.   She had heard of a Western Missionary close by, and with a fierce determination to live, Mahabouba began pulling her self along the ground by her arms, her useless legs dragging behind her.  It took her an entire day to arrive at the compound, and she was already half dead.....

Can you even imagine?  I can't.  I CANNOT.  And it is stories like this that have turned my rage into action.  I am now an advocate for women's rights in a way I never was before.  I have recently became a Circle Of Friends Volunteer Ambassador for The Fistula Foundation, and have also started our only local Chapter of Dining for Women, where we meet once a month and donate our dining out dollars we would have spent at a restaurant to causes that focus on women and children all over the world.  I am inhaling everything I can on the topic of women and maternal health, and have recently enrolled in a University course (which I had enrolled in about 6 years ago, only to cancel my registration due to me feeling that I didn't have the time... seriously.) in International Community Development.

I urge every single person reading this to pick up your copy today and read it. Then tell everyone you know about it. I think this should be required reading in high schools, and I believe this could be one of the most important books of our generation on the topic of women's rights.

If you live in the LA area, there is a great Half the Sky exhibit going on at the Skirball Cultural Centre until March 2012.

Thank you, to Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn for shedding light on the issues of women in developing countries, and yes even women right here at home.

If I could give it more than 5 stars I would.

For more information please visit Half the Sky website. 


Sunday, December 18, 2011

REVIEW: THE CELLIST OF SARAJEVO BY STEVEN GALLOWAY

The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway
Kindle version

This is one of those books that I would have never heard of had it not been for our municipality coming up with a really cool campaign called - One Book One Calgary.  The premise was "What would happen if an entire city read the same book?"  The program was launched last month and there were cool events for people of all ages throughout the city.  They had a launch with a fancy schmancy night with appies, and the author doing a talk, and then a performance by a local professional cellist.  They had work shops with the author for teens, and book club discussions at various libraries across.. you get the idea.

So my family book club (which consists of my Mom, my two sisters, and two of my nieces) decided to all read it.  Even though we did not make it to any of the events I have to say I am SO GLAD I picked it up!

Galloway's book takes place during the Bosnian conflict in the early 90's, when Sarajevo was under siege by rebel forces.  It follows the story of three people as they try to cope with what is happening in their beautiful city.

There is ARROW, she is a sniper who deeply loathes the men in the hills, and struggles with who she has become as a human being....

And DRAGAN, a 65 year old husband and father whose wife and son fled to Italy.  In the hopes that he can be reunited with them, he continues to slog through the day to day nightmare of survival in a war zone.

KENAN is the one I can most relate to.  He is a young father with three children and a doting wife.  It is his part of the story that most resonates with me in the shocking reality of... what would it REALLY BE LIKE if suddenly I woke up to find my city completely overrun by rebels and that we have no electricity or water?  WHAT WOULD WE DO?  His part of the story is told in incredible detail that makes you feel his jubilation when the light bulb flares to life for a moment while he is shaving, or the horror as he is witness to the carnage that he encounters while simply getting water.

And then there is the CELLIST... he is based on a real person, Vedran Smailovic,  who played in ruined buildings during the siege. He specifically played Albinoni Adagio in G, which happens to be a real rip-your-hear-out kind of piece... just beautiful.
(Photo is of Smailovic playing during the war)

This story takes us into modern warfare... takes us into the lives of three people who love their city and yearn for the return to normal life... the fear that normal will never be... and within its pages it shows us how as human beings we all are heroes and cowards, and until we walk in the shoes of war, we will never know which of these we are.

RATING:  5/5


Monday, November 28, 2011

What I'm reading now...

Hey there everyone!

Sorry there have been lack of posts, but it has been very busy around here for various reasons.  ANYway, I thought I would just pop in and chat about what I'm reading now and giving some thoughts thus far.

The most riveting thing I am reading at the moment (although I can't read it at night because it gives me literal nightmares) is an extremely powerful book called Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof.  This book is UNREAL.  I have looked at it for the last year or so, and lately with being involved with BeadforLife fundraising efforts, I have discovered my true passion... for REAL.  Advocating and being involved with organizations that empower women and girls in developing nations and right here at home.  So, I decided to finally pick up the book and my God, what a devastating, painful, and inspiring piece of work it is.  I am half way through and already have so many answers to questions, and many many many more stories that fill my head and MOVE ME TO ACT.  I highly recommend this book to EVERYONE.  Because of reading this book, and working with BeadforLife, I stumbled across this amazing website for this great organization called Dining for Women.  It is an international giving circle where women gather worldwide each month for a potluck dinner (or lunch, or breakfast!) and then pool the money they would have spent dining out and make a collective donation to a carefully selected charity or non-profit featured that month.  When I wanted to join a chapter in my area, I discovered that there was none, so I decided to start my own and registered as a Chapter Leader.  We will be having our first meeting in January and I am super excited about it!  I fell in love with BeadforLife and after selling out of beads in October, I quickly registered for another bead party as I was still finding people were asking me if they could buy more.  Once I sell out of the beads again (I HOPE!), I felt I still wanted to be involved somehow and make a difference, and Dining for Women is the answer.  Check them out!  :0)

The other book I am reading is an ARC for Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare, whom I LOVE.  I loved the Clockwork Angel, you can read my review here, and am really enjoying this one as well.  And btw... TEAM WILL, ALL THE WAY!  (Although I liked the other cover Will better than this one.)



Have an awesome day!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

FUNDRAISER... STILL GOING!

My daughter was so thrilled with her fundraiser she wants to keep going...

$2000 is her new goal!

Please visit her link and donate today, you will receive a tax receipt for your donation.

http://my.e2rm.com/personalPage.aspx?registrationID=1318692&langPref=en-CA

2 DAYS AND HER GOAL IS ALREADY REACHED!!!

My daughter, Ellie, launched her fundraising web page less than 2 days ago, and thanks to our friends and family (and the power of Facebook!) she has ALREADY reached her goal of $1200!

As her Mom, I was nervous for her, I was praying that she would be successful because she was so excited about raising money for Because I am a Girl Canada... but I had no need to be because we have some of THE MOST incredible people in our lives... 16 people, and $1200... the math tells the story.  Very generous people inspired by Ellie.

Just awesome.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

MY DAUGHTER IS CHANGING THE WORLD ONE GIRL AT A TIME!

My daughter is turning 12 in just a couple of weeks, and she is launching a great fundraiser for Because I Am a Girl!  Her goal is to raise $1200 and Plan Canada will match her donations for a total of $4800.  This will give four scholarships for girls in developing countries to ensure that they stay in school.  She was moved to have this fundraiser by watching this video from The Girl Effect:



It really hit her because the age of girl they use when everything changes is 12.  I think she realized that just because of where she is born, has enabled her to live the great life she has.  She is determined to help other girls her age in the world to help them gain an education and therefore a better life for themselves, their families, and their community.

I am so proud of her!!

Please click on her fundraising link and donate today!!

Monday, November 7, 2011

REVIEW: OUT OF OZ BY GREGORY MAGUIRE

Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire
Available in stores now

As you could tell by my previous post I was super beyond excited by this book, and once again a huge THANK YOU to HarperCollins for sending it to me.

The book opens with an update, of sorts, on Dorothy with her Auntie Em and Uncle in the city.  Her Aunt and Uncle keep making reference to her time in Oz as a delusion, and they are doing every thing they can to help her to "forget" her time there.

Then it jumps to my absolute favourite part of the entire book... Glinda is under house arrest and my god that woman is funny.  I was reading the first 1/3 of this book in total glee, and inhaling every word with absolute happiness.  Glinda is a hysterical character, and even if you have not read any of the books, if you saw the musical "Wicked" you will know what I mean.  She is desperately trying to cling on to any respectable hoity toitiness she can muster, and she is not having any luck.  Her "capture" General Cherrystone provides some sexual tension which is always an added bonus.  Among Glinda's household minions is Rain.  She is the grandaughter of Elphaba, and daughter of Liir and Candle, but she does not know it yet.  Meanwhile, Glinda uncovers a mysterious and rather large tome known as the Grimmerie.  This book is not unlike The Clock of the Time Dragon in that it seems to be alive and have its own mind, so to speak.  Glinda cannot seem to get the book to reveal anything handy, until Rain gets ahold of it.  Suddenly it comes alive in her hands and they are able to read only one spell out of the book, which comes in handy a little later.

Oz is in a state of major conflict, and as Glinda's world is further and further shrunken down until she is only able to live in her bedroom, there comes a visitor.  The Clock of the Time Dragon rolls into town and she arranges a performance for the troops where the dragon and its cast mates put on a play that is more prophecy than performance.

As the prophecy fortold, Glinda and Rain are able to stave off a massive attack by the military and Rain is able to make a run for it , Grimmerie in hand, with the odd ball bunch traveling with The Clock.  The Cowardly Lion, Brr with his human wife, and the cranky Mr. Boss, etc.

Even as I was reading the Glinda section I worried that she would disappear and no longer be the person from whom the story is told.  And sadly that is exactly what happened.  Once Glinda was gone the book took a turn for the worse and there was no climbing back.  Suddenly I was on a lonely road with a bunch of extremely dull people, animals and creatures yammering on an on and nothing ever happened.

This is where I put the book down, I'm sorry to say.  I will not be doing a giveaway of this book as I think that for me to giveaway a book I have to be super excited about it.

It's always difficult when you are sent a review copy of a book and then you really do not like what you read in it.

I am a huge fan of Maguire's books and always will be, but so far this ranks as one of my least favourites of his.

RATING:  2/5

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

HYPERVENTILATING OVER HERE!!!!!!

OH....MY....GOD.........

SO, a little while ago I opened an email from HarperCollins (who I LOVE... and officially want to marry, but I'll get to that in a minute)...that said they were offering review copies of this.....

Yes, it is the LAST book in the Gregory Maguire Oz series!!!!  Okay, plug your ears...

SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!

For those of you that have not heard of Gregory Maguire and all of his total awesomeness, you can read my ravings of his first in the series here... and then I read and reviewed the second one (Son of a Witch) and you can read all about that here... and then there was the third one.   Let me just say, it was the weirdest of the three, and by weird I mean DISTURBING.  And I really did not like it at all, okay, I liked it AT FIRST, but then the last 1/2 was just way to out there for me.  In fact I disliked it so much that I did not even bother to write a review about it, apparently.  But I have loved all of Maguire's other books.  The only one I have not read it Lost, mainly because I am a big fat giant chicken and it is super duper scary and creepy.

I went to see Wicked the musical and loved it.  I felt it was a completely true adaptation of the book, which is a feat in and of itself let me tell you!  And even if you had NOT read the book, I've been told people loved it just as much.

ANYway... now on to the latest offering by Gregory Maguire.. AKA- GENIUS.  A couple of weeks ago I was sent an email asking me if I would like to review a copy of Out of Oz, and I had to send some stats about my blog, which was almost like math, so that was kind of sucky.  BUT, today... and BY COURIER I might add, IT CAME!!!!   And it is so beautiful I can't stop staring at it.

See, here's the thing.  When you've had a book blog for awhile, and if you have awesome followers who stick around (have I told you lately how much I love you?) you get sent books.  Sometimes a lot of books.  And btw, I'M NOT COMPLAINING!  I feel very fortunate to be a blog that people like to send books to.  I get mostly unsolicited books, but sometimes that works out just dandy because then I find absolute gems like Cassandra Clare's Infernal Devices trilogy (I'm reading ARC Clockwork Prince as we speak!), and the Leviathan trilogy.  But sometimes there are books that for whatever reason I just don't like or can't get into, and they kind of pile up all around me like giant guilt bombs waiting to go off.  So, to get an offer like this one, an offer of a book that I really really really want to read, AND that I would have asked for for Christmas sent to me for review is just so friggen awesome.  It is released on November 1st, and it is a huge book, about 1/3 thicker than the other 3 so I am going to hopefully get it read by that date.

NOW HERE'S WHERE IT'S ABOUT YOU!

Once my review is up and posted, HarperCollins Publishers has generously offered to do a GIVEAWAY OF A COPY OF THE BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thaaaaaat's right, you my lovely wonderful readers are going to have a chance at winning a copy of this gorgeous book!

So, STAY TUNED....

Meanwhile, here is the book trailer for Out of Oz, which is very well done...



Have an awesome night!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

THURSDAY WICKED-ASS SURPRISE!

Hey all, I'm back!  The shoot was awesome, so fun, great cast, great weather, and all around one of the least stressful shows of my career.  Good times were had by all...

But back to bookish things:  I got home to a pile of mail and on the pile was a familiar style package from Simon and Schuster Canada (whom I LOVE).  I opened it and there was a stunning ARC of Clockwork Prince inside!!  I cannot express how much I wanted the ARC of this one.... I completely and utterly L-O-V-E-D the first one (to read all of my rantings and ravings click here), and am sending out a HUGE THANK YOU to Michelle over at S and S Canada for sending it to me.

If you have never read Cassandra Clare's Clockwork Angel, I suggest you download or buy as soon as you are done reading this sentence.... I'll wait.


Clare's work is YA, but if YA is not your preferred genre don't let that stop you.  I don't generally read YA but love anything steampunkish, and this series does not disappoint.  Not to mention the incredibly-hot-but-polar-opposite shadow hunters.. Will and Jem.

Release date:  DECEMBER 6, 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011

SEE YOU IN 3 WEEKS!

I'll be working on a movie called "Hannah's Law" until the first week of October, soooo not much reading will be done.

The movie is for the Hallmark Channel in the states, it's a western, and Hannah is a kick-ass, bad-ass chick with the coolest wardrobe... E-V-E-R.

:0)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

REVIEW: HARRY POTTER FILM WIZARDRY BY BRIAN SHIBLEY

Harry Potter Film Wizardry by Brian Shibley

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Design (October 19, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061997811
  • $24.99 US


Of all of the Harry Potter type books this is my favourite.  This book is so chock full of absolute fun and fascinating tid bits that I think every HP fan should have one.  

First of all, it details really cool facts about the making of all of the films, with bios and interesting info on each actor.  It was created by the Art Department from all of the films so it is one of the most detailed and uber cool fan books I've ever seen!

For example, there is this:

A "real" Mauraders Map (not sure why it's sideways and I can't figure out on my mac how to upright it, but you get the idea).  It looks completely authentic and is to scale so it feels totally real. 

















Okay, frig, so this one is sideways too... ANYway, these are replicas of the posters that Umbridge puts up in the school and look and feel like the real thing. 


There are so many extras in this amazing book I could go on and on.  There is a replica, that looks and feels real, of a Quiddich program, a ticket to the Yule Ball, a catalogue of George and Fred's store... 

But it is in the extra info that you get from David Heyman and each director, the actors, and the various departments from the film as well as J.K. Rowling herself. 


And it was just announced on Mugglenet.com that there is a sequel to this book called "Harry Potter:  From page to screen" coming out October 25th for a whopping $75.00, but if it is created like Wizardry is than I will pre-order it as this one is THAT GOOD!  If you pre-order from Amazon.com you can get the book for $47 with free shipping.  The book is 500 pages and sounds amazing!!!

RATING 5/5









Sunday, August 28, 2011

REVIEW: HARRY A HISTORY BY MELISSA ANELLI

Harry a History:  The True Story of a Boy Wizard, his Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter Phenomenon

Kindle Edition

Alright, so....I was super excited when I started this book. It started out awesomely, and I have been reading it pretty much none-stop since I downloaded it a few days ago.  So, over all it was okay.   The good parts were all of the stuff that I didn't know, like the back ground story of how the books became published in the first place, how it was really a grass roots effort at the very beginning, and how Jo Rowling herself would admit that timing was everything, and there are so many instances in the phenom where everything just fell into place at the exact right time.

One of my favourite themes through-out the book is that pretty much everyone involved with the publication of Philosophers Stone had a dream of a "child loving a book to pieces" which is, really, in essence what happened.  Say what you will about the books, the films, or the "franchise" in general; the bottom line is children, and in fact people of all ages, LOVE the books.

One of my other favourite parts was reading about how the midnight launchings got started, and how brilliant it was, and it brought back the excitement I felt around the pub date of the next Harry Potter book.  My 11 year old daughter, who was 5 (I think) at the time, attended one of the launches at our local bookstore.  It was so exciting!  We went around 6 o'clock, and she was in her little Gryffindor cloak and her hair crimped like Hermoine, and other kids were dressed up.  They had wizard crafts, and in the middle of the store a big screen TV playing the latest DVD of Harry with kids piled up on pillows in front, it was the most exciting literary event I had ever been to.  We didn't stay until midnight, but what we took away from it was memories that to this day we talk about.  Nothing will ever match the hoopla that was the Harry Potter phenom.  And now that the last movie is out, we have a similar feeling.

There was an entire section in the book about Wizard Rock a  supposed entire genre of music of Harry Potter themed bands.  I was very "meh" about the whole thing, and to be honest, this was one of the many times in the book that it was more about Melissa and her involvement in the phenom, and kind of like a bit of a creepy, "Ooooohhh, look at me, I KNOW these people."  This happened a lot, and it was extremely annoying.  I am quite sure she didn't intend the book to come across that way, but it totally did, for me anyway.

Even her interview at the end of the book with J.K. Rowling herself, which she repeatedly had to mention that personal things said were stricken from the record, and any personal conversation was stricken, and anything Jo said to me that was PERSONAL I struck.  WE GET IT, YOU KNOW HER PERSONALLY.  Gawd.  And even comments from her during the interview, "Oh, we'll know each other for YEARS."  May that be true or not, it just comes across obnoxiously.

Now, in fairness, Melissa DID get awesome opportunities to meet everyone, studio execs, the stars, Jo herself, pub execs, etc., and I know from personal experience that it is almost impossible to talk about these experiences WITHOUT sounding like your are bragging.  I am telling you, it IS IMPOSSIBLE.  So I feel her pain.  And it is pretty cool how she went from a unemployed graduate to a sought after web mistress of one of the most popular fan sites, and she takes her job very seriously.  Kudos to her for that.

That being said, and maybe this is what sticks in my craw somewhat.  This book should really be called, "Melissa A Memoir" because that is really what it is.  It is essentially about Melissa Anelli and her rise through the ranks from room in her parents house to a 2 day interview in J.K. Rowlings house in Scotland, from a budding journalist to a person invited to insider Harry events worldwide.  And if it was marketed for what it really was, well then, I would not be annoyed at all because I would be getting exactly what I was expecting.  I am not the only reader that feels this way,  just click here to the Good Reads page to read more people with almost exactly the same thought. 

All in all I take away the parts of the phenom that I found fascinating, and to be honest, most of the stuff about Melissa and her buddies in the "biz" I have already forgotten, even though I literally finished the book about an hour ago.

I think a biography of J.K. Rowling would be what I should have picked up instead.

RATING:  2/5

Monday, August 22, 2011

MAILBOX MONDAY - AUGUST 22

Mailbox Monday is a weekly bookish meme created by Marcia over at The Printed Page, each month it is hosted by a different fabulous book blogger, and this month it is the fabulous: Life in the Thumb.

As it happens I actually DID recieve not one but two sets of the same identical books from the amazing Simon and Schuster Canada, sooooooo... me thinks I will be having a YA GIVEAWAY!!!  I also have a few YA ARCs I'm going to throw in as well, so all in all it will probably be around 6 books?  I'll let you know in a couple of days!

But ANYway, the ones I got today are pretty cool, one in particular I am pretty darn excited about as I LOVED the first two books in the trilogy.  Okay, well, the first one Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld I L-O-V-E-D, like crazy love.  You can read all of my raving here.  The second one Behemoth I liked, but was not ga-ga over.  So, I am hoping that with the 3rd in the offing we will have come full circle.  This beauty is called GOLIATH:

 And I did not get one but TWO of them!  So that will go in the giveaway.  It comes out September 20, 2011.

The cover is awesome, and actually I just love the depiction of Deryn and Alek.  Oh how I love these two!  And my heart is all a flutter if they will finally, you know, get together.  Leviathan was the very first Steampunk book I had ever read and I immediately fell in total love and utter lust with the genre.  LOVE IT.  It is like Victorian age meets a future robot world... sort of.  You can read more about Goliath on Scott Westerfeld's blog here. 












The second book (and yes I did get ANOTHER COPY of this one as well which I am going to add to the giveaway) I have actually never heard of before.  It is the 3rd in the MONSTRUMOLOGIST series, so I am not too sure if I can read it as a stand-alone or not.  BUT, it does sound pretty cool.  I mean, seriously, who doesn't like a totally made-up cool word like MONSTRUMOLOGIST??!! 

It is released on September 13, 2011.

Here is the blurb from Amazon:

When Dr. Warthrop goes hunting the "Holy Grail of Monstrumology" with his eager new assistant, Arkwright, he leaves Will Henry in New York. Finally, Will can enjoy something that always seemed out of reach: a normal life with a real family. But part of Will can't let go of Dr. Warthrop, and when Arkwright returns claiming that the doctor is dead, Will is devastated--and not convinced.



Determined to discover the truth, Will travels to London, knowing that if he succeeds, he will be plunging into depths of horror worse than anything he has experienced so far. His journey will take him to Socotra, the Isle of Blood, where human beings are used to make nests and blood rains from the sky--and will put Will Henry's loyalty to the ultimate test.

Now, on my own purchasey front, I have down loaded the kindle sample for this one, which so far I am LOVING beyond words:






Harry a History by Melissa Anelli

Now, I actually heard about this book from Twitter, of all places.  Being an avid Facebook user I have been "on Twitter" for a couple of years but only in the last few days seem to be getting the hang of it.  And lately I have been finding little gems like this!  Now, the author is none other than the web mistress for The Leaky Cauldren, which just happens to be one of the largest Harry Potter fan sites out there, the other one being Mugglenet... both totally awesome.  And this book, so far, is just EXACTLY what someone LIKE ME who is in total mourning and feel completely lost after the last movie released, and similarily a few years back when the last book came out.  I'm telling you... LOST PEOPLE!!!  It is jam packed with the insider scoop on the phenomenon, and just the kind of thing a geek like me would love, but here's the only weird thing about it.... the Kindle version (which usually for new releases are about HALF the price of the hard cover book) is actually six dollars MORE than the physical book.

W...T.....F????!!!! 

But, being the geek that I am, and since my 11 year old daughter is equally if not more of an HP geek than I am (but I'm a close second, and I'm OLD and have like, you know, responsibilities and can't spend all of my entire day and night everything Potter... although I try.) I may just buy the Kindle AND the hard copy. 

But don't tell my husband.

Have an awesome-sauce day. 

For more Mailboxes you can click here if you completely wanna.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

REVIEW: UNBROKEN BY LAURA HILLENBRAND AND WHY I MISS OPRAH...

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

The day I finished this book I felt a deep sense of sadness that Oprah was no longer on the air.  This was the kind of book she would do a show about, and have the people on to tell their story.  She just knows how to take a subject and go deeper, and enlighten and further inspire people.  In fact, it's because of her that I even read this book at all.  She sends these emails to people who sign up and was raving about it, so I googled it and snooped around and found that EVERYBODY was raving about it!  So I ordered it and read it in about 4 days.

Unbroken is a WWII memoir, but it's so much more than that!  It tells the story of Louis Zamperini, who was an olympic athlete who joins the fight via the airforce and is shot down over the pacific and is captured by the dreaded Japanese.  What follows is his unbelievable story of survival, and redemption.  And when I say unbelievable I mean HOLY-CRAP-ARE-YOU-EVEN-KIDDING-ME????!!  Kind of unbelievable.  This book is so masterfully crafted and written as a novel that it is impossible to put down.  IMPOSSIBLE.  I hands-down loved ever second of it.

If you enjoy reading stories about WWII this book is definitely for you.  If you enjoy reading stories about the human spirit.. this book is for you.  If you like to read books that have you on the edge of your seat this book is for you.  I think it is an extremely important story that everybody needs to read.  I am not the type of blogger that writes a detailed synopsis of books, just because I usually skim over any synopsis of books on blogs or reviews because I want to go in fresh, but there are plenty of them out there that do!  Click here to read more of a summary of the book.

5/5  HUGE ASS STARS.

Here's the trailer for it as well:




Wednesday, July 27, 2011

WITTY WEDNESDAY!

Brought to you by the very cute website HELLO ADORABLE!

Monday, July 25, 2011

MAILBOX MONDAY -- JULY 25

Mailbox Monday is a weekly bookish meme that was created by Marcia over at The Printed page, this month it is being hosted by Gwendolyn over at A Sea of Books!

Since I haven't done a MM in awhile, I have quite a few books to report!  Most are on my Kindle, so I bought them, but I did get one book from Simon and Schuster Canada... THANK YOU!

Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts YA
Release date November 1, 2011

Here is the blurb from Amazon:
Since mankind began, civilizations have always fallen: the Romans, the Greeks, the Aztecs…Now it’s our turn. Huge earthquakes rock the world. Cities are destroyed. But something even more awful is happening. An ancient evil has been unleashed, turning everday people into hunters, killers, crazies.
Mason's mother is dying after a terrible car accident. As he endures a last vigil at her hospital bed, his school is bombed and razed to the ground, and everyone he knows is killed. Aries survives an earthquake aftershock on a bus, and thinks the worst is over when a mysterious stranger pulls her out of the wreckage, but she’s about to discover a world changed forever. Clementine, the only survivor of an emergency town hall meeting that descends into murderous chaos, is on the run from savage strangers who used to be her friends and neighbors. And Michael witnesses a brutal road rage incident that is made much worse by the arrival of the police--who gun down the guilty party and then turn on the bystanding crowd.
Where do you go for justice when even the lawmakers have turned bad? These four teens are on the same road in a world gone mad. Struggling to survive, clinging on to love and meaning wherever it can be found, this is a journey into the heart of darkness – but also a journey to find each other and a place of safety

ON MY KINDLE:
Unbroken:  A World War II Story of Survivor, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
Kindle Edition

I heard about this book from Oprah who emailed her fans that she was loving it and that it read like a novel.  This prompted me to google the book and holy moly are people all over the place loving it!  I downloaded the sample and as is Amazon's little trick they end the sample at an awesome part where you're like, "DAMN YOU AMAZON!!" And you have to buy it to find out what happens.  But this book really had me at "hello", and it has not let me go since.  So far an excellent read, and just brilliantly written.  I am about 23 % done, another little annoying thing about the Kindle.  I'm not sure what that is in PAGES, but I'm about 1/4 of the way through and so far highly recommend.  

You can click here to read more about it or to order.




 The Chimps of Fauna Santuary
by Andrew Westoll 
Kindle Edition

First of all I have to say that I love primates, all of them.  I actually studied 1 year of primatology in university, until I discovered as much as I loved them I hated collecting data more.  So I ixnayed the whole career in the science.  So, I am always up for a good ape story. 

I read about this book in our local newspaper awhile back, but at the time it was not available on kindle so I waited until it was.  What I like about it is it does not focus it's attention on the horrors of the lives of the chimps in the research facility, but of their rehabilitation.  

So far there is a fair amount of humour in it, something involving a cell phone smelling like chimp poop.  I like the guys voice, and I think it will be fun to read this from his perspective. 

You can click here to read more about it. 

And I know these last ones don't count because technically I haven't downloaded them yet, but I plan to later today, and it is a STEAL of a deal.  You can purchase the first four books in the Game of Thrones series on your Kindle for $9.99... thaaaaat's right, for 10 bucks you can have all four books!  I have the first book's sample downloaded and from all of the feedback from friends and family I am getting, I think I will really enjoy them.  Anyone out there agree?  Give me your thoughts on this series, I am very curious!  Historical fiction is my favourite genre, and eventhough I know that this is not historical, it is set in a fantasy world in that sort of medieval time period.. which... I ... love. 



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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

20TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION OF OUTLANDER OUT TODAY!!!

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
20th Anniversary Special Edition...

Lots of goodies, new map, CD of songs from the musical...

I am going to go Chapters today to see this beauty for myself!



Have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Peculiar....

I know it's Tuesday and normally I do Teaser Tuesday, but I haven't been reading much this week so I'm not overly inspired...BUT, I stumbled accross this book trailer that I just HAD to share because it is really really cool, and well done.  I heard about this book last week somewhere, I can't remember, in a magazine maybe?  And thought my 11 year old daughter might like it as she is into ghost story scary stuff at the moment.  But now I'm thinking I might like it too!

ANYway, the book is called Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Eric Smith and the blog that posted a review and other cute things about it is over at Bloggin' about Books.

Here's the trailer!

Monday, June 27, 2011

MAILBOX MONDAY

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia over at The Printed Page.  It is now hosted by a different blog every month, this month it is hosted by The Blue Stocking Guide.

I have received some books lately, and here they are in no particular order:

FOR REVIEW.. Thanks Simon and Schuster Canada!

Fury by Elizabeth Miles 
Publication date August 30, 2011

First thing I want to say is... HELLO!  IS THAT NOT A GORGEOUS COVER???!!!

Here is the blurb from Amazon:

Sometimes sorry isn't enough....
It’s winter break in Ascension, Maine. The snow is falling and everything looks pristine and peaceful. But not all is as it seems...
Between cozy traditions and parties with her friends, Emily loves the holidays. And this year’s even better--the guy she’s been into for months is finally noticing her. But Em knows if she starts things with him, there’s no turning back. Because his girlfriend is Em’s best friend.
On the other side of town, Chase is having problems of his own. The stress of his home life is starting to take its toll, and his social life is unraveling. But that’s nothing compared to what’s really haunting him. Chase has done something cruel...something the perfect guy he pretends to be would never do. And it’s only a matter of time before he’s exposed.
In Ascension, mistakes can be deadly. And three girls—three beautiful, mysterious girls—are here to choose who will pay.



And:

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Publication date September 27, 2011

This is a pretty beautiful cover too, I must say, and the premise for this book is very intriguing.

Blurb from the cover:



Mara Dyer doesn't believe life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there. It can.                                                                                                                                                  
She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed. There is.                                                                                                       
She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love. She's wrong.



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Thursday, June 23, 2011

REVIEW: PEACE FROM BROKEN PIECES BY IYANLA VANZANT

Peace from Broken Pieces by
Iyanla Vanzant
KINDLE EDITION

I saw Iyanla on Oprah and immediately ordered her book on my Kindle and basically could not put it down until I was done. She is such a powerful person to listen to, the things she said on Oprah just made me go, "Ah ha!" all over the place. Her book was very good, one of the most candid and absolutely raw memoirs I have ever read. This woman lays it ALL out there, she is so blatantly honest about every single moment in her life, but it's not just about that. This book is so much more. She gives us little lessons along the way, real soul lessons that we can actually take in and use. I truly read her book and felt that I had learned something about myself. 

It is a compelling read from a woman who once had it all, fame, fortune, a regular appearance on the Oprah Show, and then she lost it all. Everything. She was shaken to the very core of her being, and yes she was even angry at God whom she adored above all else. 

The only thing I will say that was a bit confusing was although I totally understand that Iyanla is a woman of God, sometimes I felt like her friends (near the end anyway) kept reassuring her that nothing was her fault. Her marriage ending, her career tanking, etc. That it was the pathology of her DNA that ran through her veins... it felt like, at those moments, that they all were giving her none of the culpability in her life. 

But other than that this is a  great book for anyone who is searching for meaning and purpose, you may not find all of the answers in it, but you will feel Iyanla's struggle, and may even see a bit of your own through her.  


Here is my favourite clip  from her last time on the Oprah show...


http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/Oprah-and-Iyanla-Vanzants-Misunderstanding-Video


RATING:  4/5



Wednesday, June 15, 2011

WITTY WEDNESDAY! JUNE 15TH

Welcome back to Witty Wednesday, I have been busy READING.. and enjoying my last couple of weeks while my two girls are in school (well, the little one is in only a couple days a week for a couple of hours.. but still) so I have been trying to soak in as much uninterrupted reading time as I can.  I am being very boring and going to my favourite "comfort" reading, Outlander.  I'm on my 3rd go round of the book and I'm about 1/2 way through and couldn't love it more if i tried!  So I have not had much to post, although I have received a few review books via Simon and Schuster Canada (thank you!) so I will post about those on Mailbox Monday coming up.  So, in the mean time, unless you've been living under a rock you may be familiar with today's Witty Wednesday... it happens to be a favourite around here and even our 4 year old knows every single word, with doggy voice, by heart.

ENJOY!


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

WITTY WEDNESDAY! June 1st

Hi guys! Welcome back to Witty Wednesday! I have not been doing much reading these days, but plan on getting back on the wagon this week! Here is another video from Talking Animals...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

WITTY WEDNESDAY... ON A THURSDAY (COUGH)

So sorry I totally missed Witty Wednesday yesterday!  But on a rainy day like today (in Calgary anyhow) we could all use a laugh)

From the guy that brought you, "The maple kind, yeah?"


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

TEASER TUESDAY - MAY 23: From OUTLANDER

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme (it also happens to be my favourite!) hosted by MizB over at Should Be Reading and anyone can play along!


  • Grab your current read
  • flip to a random page
  • select 2 teaser sentences from anywhere on that page
  • Try not to include any spoilers!  Sometimes this is really really hard!
  • Do, though, include the title and author so we can add the book to our ever growing TBR piles!

In honor of its 20th anniversary I am always happy to celebrate my favourite escape read in the universe... Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.  I am currently reading it for the 3rd time in 10 years and never tire of it. 

There is a brand new 20th anniversary version of the book that is due to release on July 5th, and has plenty of extras, kind of like what is in the Outlandish Companion.. which is AWESOME.



Here is my teaser:

"'A bayonet!"  I exclaimed.  "And why didn't you tell me?" 
    He shrugged, and stopped short with a mild grunt of pain.  "I felt it go in, but I couldna tell how bad it was;  it didna hurt that much." '

For more teasers click here. 


Monday, May 23, 2011

MAILBOX MONDAY - MAY 23RD

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia over at The Printed Page (now A Girl and Her Books) but is not hosted by a different blogger every month.  This month it is hosted by the lovely Mari over at Mari Reads.



Whole Foods To ThriveWhole Foods to Thrive by Brendan Brazier --- I am doing a blog tour for this one and my date is in June.  I will be trying a couple of recipes from the book and reviewing them!  The timing of this book was hilarious as my 11 year old daughter is transitioning into being vegetarian.  She is doing awesome, and has one day a week where she eats meat, her "meat for the week" as she calls it. 

What impact do food choices have on your health? Have you ever been curious as to where your food came from, who grew it, and the path it took to get to your table? Have you every wondered how much of each natural resource was used to produce your food—in other words, the soil-to-table environmental cost? In Whole Foods to Thrive, Brendan Brazier clearly explains how nutrient-dense, plant-based foods are the best choice, not only for your health but also for the health and sustainability of the planet.


Versatile and packed with flavor, whole foods have an abundance of health benefits for those who want sustainable energy, high-quality sleep, physical strength, and mental sharpness. Whole Foods to Thrive builds upon Brendan’s stress-busting, energy-boosting approach to nutrition and food introduced in his acclaimed bestseller The Thrive Diet, and includes 200 delicious, easy-to-make, plant based recipes that are all allergen-free and contain no wheat, yeast, gluten, soy, dairy, or corn.

• Breakfast Cereals • Salads • Dressings, Dips, and Sauces • Soups and Sides • Burgers, Wraps, Pizza, and Rice Bowls• Cookies, Ice Cream, and Pies • Kale Chips and Nori Crisps• Energy Bars and Gels

Features recipes for dishes such as • Gorilla Food Green Tacos • Quinoa Falafels • Indian-Spiced Lentil Hemp Burgers • Maple Crispy Rice Treats

The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and AchievementThe one I'm most excited about, though, is one I bought for my birthday.  I actually bought the physical book instead of Kindle as I anticipate wanting my husband and others to read it. 


Here's the blurb from Amazon:

With unequaled insight and brio, David Brooks, the New York Times columnist and bestselling author of Bobos in Paradise, has long explored and explained the way we live. Now, with the intellectual curiosity and emotional wisdom that make his columns among the most read in the nation, Brooks turns to the building blocks of human flourishing in a multilayered, profoundly illuminating work grounded in everyday life.


This is the story of how success happens. It is told through the lives of one composite American couple, Harold and Erica—how they grow, push forward, are pulled back, fail, and succeed. Distilling a vast array of information into these two vividly realized characters, Brooks illustrates a fundamental new understanding of human nature. A scientific revolution has occurred—we have learned more about the human brain in the last thirty years than we had in the previous three thousand. The unconscious mind, it turns out, is most of the mind—not a dark, vestigial place but a creative and enchanted one, where most of the brain’s work gets done. This is the realm of emotions, intuitions, biases, longings, genetic predispositions, personality traits, and social norms: the realm where character is formed and where our most important life decisions are made. The natural habitat of The Social Animal.

Drawing on a wealth of current research from numerous disciplines, Brooks takes Harold and Erica from infancy to school; from the “odyssey years” that have come to define young adulthood to the high walls of poverty; from the nature of attachment, love, and commitment, to the nature of effective leadership. He reveals the deeply social aspect of our very minds and exposes the bias in modern culture that overemphasizes rationalism, individualism, and IQ. Along the way, he demolishes conventional definitions of success while looking toward a culture based on trust and humility.

The Social Animal is a moving and nuanced intellectual adventure, a story of achievement and a defense of progress. Impossible to put down, it is an essential book for our time, one that will have broad social impact and will change the way we see ourselves and the world.
 
What was in YOUR mailbox??
 
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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

WITTY WEDNESDAY!

So unless you've been living under a rock you have probably heard about this talking dog that has made the Canadian owner of the voice famous... not to mention giving him a new gig on National Geographic on a TV show called "Wild!"  This guy has the most hysterical website....  Griswold the dog is not the only one... here's another one of my favs...


Friday, May 13, 2011

BLOG HOP -- MAY 13

Book Blogger Hop

Blog hop asks:

"Are you going to Book Expo America (BEA) and/or the Book Blogger Convention (BBC) this year?"


Unfortunately I am unable to go this year... booo!   I have never been but have heard it is just awesome! 


I have just returned from the zoo and it is a gorgeous springtime day here in Calgary (finally!)  and now we are at home having our sacred "quiet" time with sesame street and me on the couch with my kindle.  


I have JUST bought the latest Melissa Fay Greene (author of There's No Me Without You-- which I am pretty sure every Ethiopian adoptive family has read!) called "No biking in the house without a helmet!"  It is, so far, a hilarious take on parenting in general, but adoptive parenting in specific.  She is bang on with her observations on being a parent, the good, the bad and the UGLY.  Somehow when you read it you feel like, "Hey!  I'm not so bad after all!"  I can't wait to finish it to share my thoughts with you about it.  


ANYway, off to have a very rare weekend that is blank on the calendar... thaaaat's right, we officially have NOTHING to do.  NOTHING!  And we are pretty damn happy about it. 


Now I am off to do some hopping around the blogpsphere!


:0)

Monday, May 9, 2011

REVIEW: WATER FOR ELEPHANTS BY SARA GRUEN

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial Canada; 1st Trade edition (Mar 29 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006391559

This book has been sitting on my shelf for a few years, and like I said before, I thought it was one of those books where the animals talk and that they are the main characters.  Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I have to be in a certain frame of mind to read a book like that and suffice it to say, it never happened.  Once I started to see trailers of the movie, though, I started to hear phrases like, "love story" and words like "romantic" and thought, "Huh?"  My husband read it a couple of years back and he liked it so I picked it up and am I ever glad I did!  

First of all Sara Gruen is Canadian (well, technically a dual US/Canadian) , WOOT!  Love it.  Secondly she is a mom that as dreamed of being a writer her whole life and her finally her husband said to her, "Let's take a year or two of you being at home and you write a book."  How awesome is that?    And apparently this book also had its start in the NanoWrimo competition, although I cannot find any other source that verifies that other than the Wrimo.  The NanoWrimo is a fun competition for no money where people attempt to write a novel in 30 days.  On their website they say that Sara's novel was one.  Pretty cool, if it's true!

Okay, so the first few pages sucked me in when I realized that it was not animals talking, but people and the beginning was a bit mysterious with the menagerie of animals going crazy and a window into the world of the circus circa 1920's.  I love historical fiction, and there were actual pictures from circus archives at the beginning of each chapter, what a nice touch!  I have to admit I did picture Robert Pattison as the young Jacob, which didn't bother me too much, and I couldn't remember who was playing the lead in the movie which is just as well as I'm not the biggest fan of Reese Witherspoon... you know, the chin that never stops growing.  ANYway.  

The book is anchored in present day with my favourite and most developed character, in my opinion, the "92 or 93" year old Jacob in a nursing home.  He was just the right amount of cranky, sad, melancholy and spitfire to make me fall in love with him.  I loved seeing the world through his eyes, and I am always blown away when authors can take opposite sex characters and completely nail them, not to mention characters that are about 60 years older than them!  I loved him, and there were several scenes in the book that were so beautifully heartbreaking, and took place just with him and his own reflection.  Makes me realize what getting old really means. 

Sara manages to seamlessly time travel between old Jacob in the seniors home and young Jacob trying to make sense of his life as he stumbles upon a circus with all of its animals, freaks, and tyrant of an owner Uncle Al, and his manager August who just happens to be crazy and also happens to be married to gorgeous Marlena who does the Spirit act with the horses in her sequenced little dresses.  

As per usual I do not want to give anything away, so I will not do a summary, it is easy to find that anywhere on the web.  But I will give you my thoughts in general about this book. 

It is fascinating, if you like history being fleshed out in a realistic way.  It is beautiful, you can imagine the clothing of the era, the decadence of the state car on the train.  It is gritty, with the roustabouts and their cramped quarters on the train.  It is swoony, when unrequited live rears its lovely head.  It is heart breaking, when we meet Rosie the elephant and fall in love with her as so many before her had.  There is adventure and tension. And pairing the narrative in the present day with old Jacob being agitated by another old gentleman at the home telling everyone he used to bring water for the elephants, we are drawn in by curiosity just as to why old Jacob is so completely fired up about this man and his claims. 

The only criticism I have of the book is that there are a couple of characters, one in particular, that developed in an odd fashion and it annoyed me throughout the novel.  Kinko/Walter is the dwarf who is forced to share his already cramped train car with Jacob and I loved his grumpy, bitter, vibe and how he just was so irritated with Jacob's very presence.  He had this adorable little dog named Queenie, who you could just see was his only true friend in the world.  Well, somehow as the story progressed, and rather quickly I might add, Walter become really really "nice".  Like freakishly nice, in a weird way that even most men today wouldn't be.  All of the sudden he was all nurturing and comforting to Jacob, and it just didnt' make any sense.  His character just disappeared, and that goes with Grady another worker who was just "nice" in a boring way, and except for the name they came across in an identical way with no real voice of their own.  Kinko was cool, at first, an unusual guy who had a very unique "voice", if you know what I mean.  I just don't understand what happened there.  

Otherwise a very fast lovely read, and once I see the movie I'll come back on there and do a bit of a Book to Movie post, I am dying to see how they do it!

Sara has a new book out called Ape House which I would love to read.  And as is my way, I purposefully avoid too much information about a book I want to read, but it's something about great apes communicating through sign language?  I think the story revolves around a researcher on the subject?  Not sure, but I have the sample downloaded on my Kindle and can't wait to read it.  




But back to Water?  
RATING:  4.5/5



For more on Sara and her works click here.