Monday, August 31, 2009


"What are you reading on Mondays" is a weekly meme hosted by J. Kaye's Bookblog where we post about what books we plan on reading this week, and the books that we finished the previous week.

This week I started and finished "The White Queen" by Philippa Gregory.  Although not my favourite of hers, I love reading anything from that time period.

 I  picked up the paperback version of "A Breath of Snow and Ashes" by Diana Gabaldon for my re-read as the hard cover gave me migraines when I read it last time years ago - it was so heavy, as in weight!  So, I plan on reading about 1/3 of that this week if not more. 

Last but not least our family book club is starting tomorrow, WOOT!!  We will be reading "Three Day Road" by Joseph Boyden.  We have a pretty strict reading schedule, but not a totally unreasonable one.  We need to be finished by November 28th which gives me lots of time to get it done, given all the other reading that I want and need to do! 

How about you?  What are you reading on Monday?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

REVIEW: THE WHITE QUEEN by Philippa Gregory

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

A HUGE THANK YOU to Simon and Schuster Canada for sending me a copy of "The White Queen" for review! 

SUMMARY:  (  Brother turns on brother to win the ultimate prize, the throne of England, in this dazzling account of the wars of the Plantagenets. They are the claimants and kings who ruled England before the Tudors, and now Philippa Gregory brings them to life through the dramatic and intimate stories of the secret players: the indomitable women, starting with Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen.

The White Queen tells the story of a woman of extraordinary beauty and ambition who, catching the eye of the newly crowned boy king, marries him in secret and ascends to royalty. While Elizabeth rises to the demands of her exalted position and fights for the success of her family, her two sons become central figures in a mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the missing princes in the Tower of London whose fate is still unknown. From her uniquely qualified perspective, Philippa Gregory explores this most famous unsolved mystery of English history, informed by impeccable research and framed by her inimitable storytelling skills.

"The White Queen" will always be special to me as it was my very first Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) sent to me by a pubishing house.  I was very excited to read this book as I was a HUGE fan of "The Other Boleyn Girl" by Gregory, and had heard many good things about "White Queen" so I immediately started reading. 

The first 50 pages or so of the book will have you swooning all over the place.  At least that's where it had me.  The georgous blonde king falling in love with Elizabeth is Gregory's story telling at it's absolute best!  But right after the coronation is when the story starts to become little more than a retelling of events, for me.  The majority of the book was very much a "talking heads" book and more like non-fiction.  Most of it lacked Gregory's usual dramatic edge and emotion, and I felt myself becoming bored and often times confused as to where the characters were physically in the story and what they were doing when the pages and pages of dialogue started. 

What I did like about it, though, were the scenes in which Edward and Elizabeth were alone as husband and wife and gently teasing one another, or embracing in powerful displays of love.  These were like lovely oases in a stark and long trek through facts and history.  Also, the whole theme of the mythical Melusina was lovely, and I also enjoyed the "witchy" aspects of Elizabeth and her mother. 

Near the end of reading it I started to wonder what I would say about the book, and knew that I had to have a balanced review for my readers.  While I did not "not" like it, I couldn't say in all honestly that I LOVED it either.  It was a fast read, and definately peaked my interest for more about this particular royal family and their story. 

RATING:  2/5

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Let's Be Friends Award! Awwww... shucks!

A HUGE THANK YOU to Nikola over at Nikola's blog for the "Let's be friends" award!  Nikola and I started around the same time, and she was my first blogger friend! So I am very touched to get this award from her!  WOOT!
Blogs that receive the Let’s Be Friends Award are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers.
I now pass this award on to:
Everytime I get an award I am so thrilled, grateful, and passing them on to other bloggers is a great honor.  It takes me a long time to pass it on as I put a lot of thought into each and every blog I choose.  I love all of these ones too!  Check them out!  And thanks again, Nikola!

Friday, August 28, 2009

My first Challenge.... oooooo... SCAAARRRRYYYY!!!! (revamped post)

Dark Fantasy.
There are two simple goals to the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril Challenge hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings:

1. Have fun reading.

2. Share that fun with others.

R.I.P. IV officially runs from September 1st through October 31st. But lets go ahead and break the rules. Lets start today!!!

I will be doing:

I have officially entered my VERY FIRST reading challenge!  Yikes!     I have signed up for "Peril the Second" which means that I have agreed to read 2 novels of any length in the subgenre of any scary stories I choose!  How cool is that! I see lots of other book bloggers doing various challenges, but most have been running for awhile already, and I have been waiting to catch one at the beginning, and this one fits me well as this is not normally the genre I read, BUT I have enjoyed a scary story or two in my reading life. 

I do not have a reading pool yet, but when I have a look at my stash and google around a bit I'll tell you what I find and then let you know how I do in the challenge!  I have from Sept 1st to Oct 31 to complete it!

How about you, do you think you would take the SCAAARRRYYYY path with me???

HACHETTE GIVEAWAY ~ 5 Copies of "The Way Home" up for grabs!

Hey President Obama, whatcha readin'?  Apparently the Prez, while on holidays, had the book "The Way Home"  by George Pelecanos in his hot little presidential hands.  And thanks to the kind folks at HACHETTE BOOK GROUP   I am able to give away 5 COPIES OF THIS BOOK!! 

Here's the blurb:
Christopher Flynn is trying to get it right. After years of trouble and rebellion that enraged his father and nearly cost him his life, he has a steady job in his father's company, he's seriously dating a woman he respects, and, aside from the distrust that lingers in his father's eyes, his mistakes are firmly in the past.

One day on the job, Chris and his partner come across a temptation almost too big to resist. Chris does the right thing, but old habits and instincts rise to the surface, threatening this new-found stability with sudden treachery and violence. With his father and his most trusted friends, he takes one last chance to blast past the demons trying to pull him back.

Like Richard Price or William Kennedy, Pelecanos pushes his characters to the extremes, their redemption that much sweeter because it is so hard fought. Pelecanos has long been celebrated for his unerring ability to portray the conflicts men feel as they search and struggle for power and love in a world that is often harsh and unforgiving but can ultimately be filled with beauty.

This book sounds very intriguing, and I can't wait to read it! 

The contest ends September 15th, and the winners will be announced the morning of the 16th.  To enter, leave a comment with your email address!  If you become a follower or are already a follower send a seperate comment and you will get an additional TWO entries!  Add it to your sidebar and send a link along with a seperate comment and you will get an additional TWO entries!  That's a total of 5 ENTRIES you can accumulate!  GOOD LUCK EVERYBODY!
Here is the EXCELLENT trailer for "The Way Home":

Thursday, August 27, 2009

REVIEW: THE BRONZE HORSEMAN BY Paullina Simons AND Autographed Bookmark Giveaway!

The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons

Pretty much everyday I visit a site called "Ladies of Lallybroch", and they have a section called"Reading Recommendations". A few years ago I checked the site and found women raving about this book. As I mentioned, I am very susceptible to people's excitement about books, so I immediately bought it.

I realize that I do a fair amount of raving myself on my blog, but I can't help myself sometimes! This book was a FANTASTIC read. Now for the ladies out there, this book's "swoon factor" is all the way to "11". Almost every woman in my family read it, and we would just gush over Alexander and Tatiana... Sigh.

Before I go any further there is terrific news in regards to this book! I WAS going to say that it is very hard to get these days, other than online. That although it is part 1 of a trilogy, the second book is relatively hard to get, and the 3rd one almost impossible. BUT Harper Collins is RE-RELEASING this novel as a trade paperback August 28th! And one can only hope that the other two will follow. But maybe not. See, the thing is that my edition of TBH has an epilogue on the back that fast forwards 15 years and neatly sums up the rest of the story to THE END. This was apparently because the publishers were not sure how it was going to sell. Then when it did well, they re-released it with the new ending and the following two books. I'm not sure which version this one will be.

And that's not all. Although I am not giving away a new book, I AM giving away an AUTOGRAPHED BOOKMARK! That's right, folks, I have in my hot little hands a Secret Garden (the 3rd book) bookmark SIGNED BY PAULLINA!!! All you have to do to enter is comment and leave your email address. That's it. I will then mail the bookmark to the lucky winner. This little giveaway ends Sept 5th.

Now to business. The blurb from the back is a pretty good little summary:

The golden skies, the translucent twilight, the white nights, all hold the promise of youth, of love, of eternal renewal. The war has not yet touched this city of fallen grandeur, or the lives of two sisters, Tatiana and Dasha Metanova, who share a single room in a cramped apartment with their brother and parents. Their world is turned upside down when Hitler's armies attack Russia and begin their unstoppable blitz to Leningrad.
Yet there is light in the darkness. Tatiana meets Alexander, a brave young officer in the Red Army. Strong and self-confident, yet guarding a mysterious and troubled past, he is drawn to Tatiana—and she to him. Starvation, desperation, and fear soon grip their city during the terrible winter of the merciless German siege. Tatiana and Alexander's impossible love threatens to tear the Metanova family apart and expose the dangerous secret Alexander so carefully protects—a secret as devastating as the war itself—as the lovers are swept up in the brutal tides that will change the world and their lives forever.

This is a love story, and it is historical romance at its best. The war is a stark backdrop to our two lovers who are constantly battling their surroundings against their overwhelming need to be together. I hardly could breathe while reading the thing. And for any of you interested in this sort of thing, the love scenes? (cough, cough) Are the best I have ever read. Ever. Without being too over-the-top, nor too cheesy, Simons hits it just right. To me fall or winter is the perfect time to read this (if you live in such a climate), the cold weather outside will lend nicely to the imagery in the story.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

WAITING ON WEDNESDAY and the Proximidade award!

Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that
highlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating.

This is the next installment of the much loved Outlander series, and I can tell you from personal experience that there are LEGIONS of (mostly) women practically hyperventilating waiting for the release of this one on Sept 22!!!!!

The next one, I just found out about this yesterday in Bookmarks Magazine, is a new novel by Barbara Kingsolver author of The Poisonwood Bible. It is called The Lucana. Here is the blurb from the publisher, Harper Collins:

Book Description
Born in the United States, reared
in a series of provisional households in Mexico, Harrison Shepherd is mostly a liability to his social-climbing flapper mother, Salomé. From a coastal island jungle to the unpaved neighborhoods of 1930s Mexico City, through a disastrous stint at a
military school in Virginia and back again, his fortunes never steady as Salomé finds her rich men-friends always on the losing side of the Mexican Revolution.
Sometimes she gives her son cigarettes instead of supper.
He aims for invisibility, observing his world and recording everything with a peculiar selfless irony in his notebooks. Life is whatever he learns from servants putting him to work in the kitchen, errands he runs in the streets, and one fateful day, by mixing plaster for famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. Making himself useful in the household of Rivera, his wife Frida Kahlo and exiled Bolshevik leader Lev Trotsky, young Shepherd inadvertently casts his lot with art and revolution, and the howling gossip and reportage that dictate public opinion.
A violent upheaval sends him north to a nation newly caught up in
the internationalist good will of World War II. In the mountain city of
Asheville, North Carolina, he remakes himself in America’s hopeful image. Under
the watch of his peerless stenographer, Violet Brown, he finds an extraordinary
use for his talents of observation. But political winds continue to throw him
between north and south, in a plot that turns many times on the unspeakable
breach—the lacuna—between truth and public presumption.
This is a gripping story of identity, connection with our past, and the power of words to create or devastate, unfolding at a moment when the entire world seemed bent on
reinventing itself at any cost.

PLUS I would like to send out a HUGE THANKYOU and the
warmest utmost gratitude to Natalie at The Book Inn for awarding me with one
of THE nicest awards out there. Natalie is a book blogger with an enormous heart
and gives lots of encouragement and support to her fellow bloggers. Reading the description of this award brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much, Natalie!

Being a recipient of this award affirms that this blog invests and believes in the Proximity – nearness in space, time and relationships.
This blog receives this great award as a further way to re iterate that it is exceedingly charming, and aims to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement! Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers!

I nominate the following:

I sincerely hope that the folks above accept this award with all that it has behind it. I believe each and every one of them has such a great spirit that they add to our great community of Book Bloggers!

Have a WONDERFUL day! And what book are YOU waiting for???

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I would like to send a HUGE THANK YOU to my friends at Teens Read and Write for this EXTREMELY cool lookin' award! I mean just LOOK at the thing! Is that cool, or what? Now if I was 20 years younger I believe the term I would use is "sick". Right??? :) ANYway, Alyssa, Gregory, Jake and Anna THANK YOU. You made my day!!!

Now to pass on the "Your Blog Rocks" award to my 5 nominees!

I sincerely LOVE all of your blogs, and hope you likeyour awards!


  • Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read

  • Open to a random page

  • Share (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page.

  • Be careful not to include spoilers!!!

  • Share title and author too so readers can add the book to their TBR pile

My teasers:

"It was nearly dark as we came down the narrow trail back to the house. I could see Brianna in front of me, though leading the way; the men were a little behind us. the fireflies were out in great profusion, drifting through the trees, and lighting the grass near my feet. One of the little bugs lighted briefly in Brianna's hair and clung there for a moment, blinking. A wood at twilight holds a deep hush, that bids the heart be still, the foot step lightly on the earth."

The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon

Monday, August 24, 2009


I realize that this book came out 12 years ago.. 12 years! Can you imagine? But it is in my top 10 so I thought I would review it. I was originally told about this book in 2001 by a gal I met in L.A. while visiting. She said that every single woman should read it, and she was quite excited about it. I am one of those people that is easily swayed by someone else's excitement over a book, but that being said, it did take me another 7 years before I would read it. And I am so glad I did!

The Red Tent, although conceived from bible roots, is not a "religious book" per se. In other words you do not need to be religious at all to enjoy it. It speaks to every woman (or man I suppose), and makes you wish there was something still called a "Red Tent" in existence today. After reading the book I then did some research and found an interview with Ms. Diamant and she admitted that the "red tent" from Dinah's story never actually existed as far as we know, but reading the book you would believe that her story is a historical fact, it is so beautifully written in believable detail.

The story follows the biblical character Dinah, who in the bible is only mentioned in a few short passages. But the way Diamant fleshes out Dinah's life and what happens to her before, during and after the events of the bible is truly beautiful and heartbreaking. But perhaps my favourite parts of this entire novel are in the intimate interactions among the females of the time. They form a strong "sisterhood" and when one enters the red tent for the first time they lavish her with attention and celebrate her entering into womanhood. Such a different picture than I formed in my mind when I heard that women then and even in some modern cultures are sequestered away until their "red" days have passed, like some leper. Not so in Diamont's world. It left me wanting to celebrate my mother, my daughters, my sisters, my female friends! To hold them up and sing their praises! It really makes you feel like that! Here's a passage illustrating what I mean:

The set-up: Dinah as just been born in the Red Tent among all of the women of her community.

(Page 67/68)

After Rachel wiped me clean, she handed me to Zilpah, who embraced me, and then to Bilhah, who kissed me as well. I took my mother's breast with an eager mouth, and all the women of the camp clapped their hands for my mother and for me. Bilhah fed my mother honeyed milk and cake. She washed Leah's hair with perfumed water, and she massaged her feet.

While Leah slept, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah took me out into the moonlight and put henna on my feet and hands, as though I were a bride. They spoke a hundred blessings around me, north, south, east and west, to protect me against Lamashtu and the other baby-stealing demons. They gave me a thousand kisses.

There are only a small hand full of books that has brought me to tears, and The Red Tent is one of them. I sobbed near the end. SOBBED. But after I read it I phoned my Mom and told her all about it, and felt such a kinship with other women I may never had experienced had I not read it.

Rating: 5/5

I am also ECSTATIC to report that I have my very first ARC on it's way to me!!!!!!! A huge thank you to Simon and Schuster Canada for sending me THE WHITE QUEEN by Philippa Gregory!!!!! Once read I will review it, I am just thrilled that I have my first one!

Sunday, August 23, 2009


I would like to send a HUGE THANK YOU to Julie at My Own Little Corner of the World for the very sweet Lemonade Award! What a lovely surprise for first thing on a Sunday morning!

The Lemonade Award is a feel good award that shows great attitude or gratitude. Here are the rules for accepting this award:

- Put the Lemonade Award logo on your blog or post.
-Link your nominees within your post.
-Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
-Share the love and link to the person from whom you received the award.

The blogs I nominate are:

This week was a bit light in the reading department because I had an out of town guest staying and had zero time to read until Wednesday. I WAS reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but for some reason I just couldn't get into it so I switched gears. After reviewing "Wicked" I was in the mood for some more Gregory Maguire and I pulled "Son of a Witch" off of my shelf where it has been sitting since it came out about 3 years ago. I had tried to read it a half dozen times, but just couldn't get past the first 10 or so pages. But now I am well into it and so far I am loving it! I'll do a review when I'm done.

I am also desperately trying to get through my re-read of the last two Diana Gabaldon books before the next one is in stores September 22nd. I am not even half way through The Fiery Cross, and it is almost 900 pages, and then the next book is over 900 pages! How am I going to do that in one month! I mean I totally CAN, but it will be with concerted effort. And the thing is I am SO enjoying my re-read (even more than the first time around!) that I do not want to skim at all. Sigh. I suppose I will just keep reading and stare longingly at Echo until I am finished the last one.

Today I plan on doing a good chunk of peaceful reading during my youngest daughters naptime. Curled up on my couch with my blanket!

Have a WONDERFUL Sunday!

Saturday, August 22, 2009


A HUGE thank you to She's Too Fond of Books for hosting the giveaway and allowing me to win "The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder by Rebecaa Wells (author of Ya-Ya Sisterhood) WOOOOT!!!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

REVIEW OF WICKED by Gregory Maguire

WICKED by Gregory Maguire

Wicked is one of those books that stays with you for a long time. To be fair, I read this book a few years ago, but it is still one of my all time favs and I love sharing it with people who may have not given it a try yet.

The thing with Gregory Maguire is that he loves to take fairytales or fables and highlight a character that is not traditionally the "hero" of the story. In this case, this is the story of the "Wicked Witch of the West" and how she came to be so "wicked". Believe it or not you will learn to love and even feel empathy for Elphaba the wicked witch, and understand why she was such a twisted and disturbed individual. You will also get to know Dorothy, and her travel companions in a totally new way, as well as a whole host of wild and weird creatures that inhabit the world of Oz. And a strange place it is. At times you feel slightly disturbed and unsettled while reading, and other times you laugh out loud. As in this, my favourite scene from the whole entire novel.

The set-up: Elphaba was born not only green but with an enormous set of razor sharp teeth to which she would set upon innocent bystanders from time to time. Concerned that she was creating an anti-social child, her mother Melena and Nanny decide to put Elphaba in a playgroup of sorts. And here is what happens:

(page 51)

"No throwing, Elphie dear," called Nanny.

"I'm only saying what I hear. They say at night that Quadlings fall asleep and their souls climb out through their mouths and go abroad."

"Stupid people say a lot of stupid things," Melena was curt and too loud. "I have never seen his soul climb out of his mouth while he was sleeping, and I've had plenty of opportu-"

"Darling, no rocks," shrilled Nanny. "None of the other children have rocks."

"Now they do," observed Gawnette.

"He is the most sensitive person I've ever met," said Melena.

"Sensitive isn't much use to a fishwife," said Gawnette. "How about to a minister and a minister's wife?"

"Now there's blood, how vexing," said Nanny. "Children, let Elphie up so I can wipe that cut. And I didn't bring a rag, Gawnette?"

"Bleeding is good for them, makes them less hungry," said Gawnette.

"I rate sensitive a good sight higher than stupid," said Melena, seething.

"No biting," said Gawnette to one of the little boys, and then, seeing Elphaba open her mouth to retaliate, raised herself to her feet, bad hip or no, and screamed,"no biting, for the love of mercy!"

"Aren't children divine?" said Nanny.

The world that Gregory Maguire paints is vivid, unique and not at all like you probably have envisioned Oz. But you will never forget it, mark my words. I loved this book. Probably because it was so fresh and new and different. The words that Maquire uses are astonishing as are the names of his characters. I have the second book now "Son of a Witch", which I am now reading and will review when I'm done. There is also a third in the trilogy called "A Lion Among Men" which follows the cowardly lions story.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

ZOMBIE CHICKEN AWARD! And Booking through Thursday - Recent Best

Thank you SO MUCH to Jessica at A Book Lovers Diary for the much coveted Zombie Chicken Award! This is my first award and I must say this is one of the ones I MOST wanted!! THANK YOU!!!!!!

The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken - excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all.

My 5 nominations are:

1. Danielle at Opiniated? Me?

2. Rachel at Obsessive Reader

3. Alyssa and her team at Teens Read and Write

4. The Boston Bibliophile

5. Karen at Outlandish Observations

What’s the best book you’ve read recently?
(Tell me you didn’t see this one coming?)

The best book lately would have to be one I reviewed for my first ever post here The Mutiny on the Bounty by John Boyne. You can read my review here. He is also the author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas which was made into a movie.

What's yours?

And for more Booking Through Thursday click here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Hello, everyone! First of all I wanted to say a HUGE thank you to John Higham, author of 360 Degrees Longitude, for joining us this morning for our interview! And to encourage all of you to enter the giveaway for John's book, and if you are not one of the lucky winners of one of 5 copies you can purchase the book here, or here, or here. 50% of the proceeds goes to KIVA, which is an organization that I deeply believe in, and besides that this memoir is SO worth your purchase! Also, visit the Higham's website as well for links to the Google Earth bonus feature that is added to the book as a cool layer to their whole story. 360 Degrees Longitude Site You can read my review of his book here.

Without further adieu...

Hi John! Thanks for visiting Book Blab today, and entertaining some of our questions.

Let's get started!

LJ: At what point did you decide you were going to make your family's journey into a book?

JH: This was a gradual process, that wasn’t firmly cemented until about the time we reached South America. I had encouragement from September and several people who were on our e-mail distribution list. Initially I was reluctant because, well, I knew it would be a lot of work. Luckily, flattery goes a long way. In the end, I was right – the book was a tremendous amount of work. But the writing and editing process let me relive our journey and now I have this huge sense of accomplishment and am immensely proud of the result.

LJ: Were there any objections or concerns any family members had about the book? Or were they pretty open to the idea?

JH: Without September’s unfailing support the book project would have never started. Katrina and Jordan were open to the idea, and we had long discussions about what it might mean for people to know some fairly intimate details about themselves. Although they have always been supportive, I’m unconvinced Katrina and Jordan will really understand the impact of having details of their lives made public until they reach adulthood.

LJ: I don't think you have ever written a book like this before, so what can you tell us about one of the major things you learned along the way with the writing and then the publishing process?

JH: Before I embarked on down the path of writing about our “World-The-Round” trip, I had written a few articles for bicycling magazines, but nothing as ambitious as a book. During the time between querying my first literary agent to the book shipping out to bookstores I learned a lot about publishing, and myself. The most notable items I learned about publishing is that the vetting process one goes through to find a literary agent and a publisher can be lonely, frustrating and tedious. So while writing talent is necessary to get a book published, it is, by itself, insufficient. Self-confidence and tenacity are absolutely mandatory.

As for myself, where to begin? While I may have been the one tickling the keyboard, for a guy who already has a full time job, writing a book was an undertaking for the whole family. As such, it required sacrifices from everyone. The biggest lesson I learned about myself is that my family has more tenacity and confidence in me than I do. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have been successful in getting a book in stores.

LJ: As you were traveling I imagine you were keeping a journal, if you were planning on writing a book at the end of it all, were you writing and "editing" it as you went along? In other words, when incidence would happen would you find you would think, "That would be a great section for the book!" or was it more organic of a process pieced together when you returned?

JH: I did keep a journal, but the purpose of the journal was simply for e-mail material. I loved writing e-mails home, describing what we did and some of the crazy anecdotes that fell out of traveling around the world with kids. Any time I had a thought during the day, I would pull my “e.brain” (PDA) out of my pocket and jot it down so I wouldn’t forget it. When I had enough material, I would weave all those anecdotes into an e-mail home.

We had always planned our itinerary for a stationary final month and that ended up being in Belize. So, when my father-in-law visited us in Bolivia and Peru (before we went to Belize), we had arranged for him to bring a notebook and that final stationary month was spent compiling all our e-mails and journal entries into a rough draft. Although those e-mails become the basis of the book, I wanted our story to be much more than a collection of anecdotes. It took months of contemplation and revision to weave into those anecdotes the story I wanted to tell – that of an American family discovering that together they could accomplish much with the biggest accomplishment being finding their place in the world.

LJ: If there were one piece of advice you could offer to a would-be travel writer wanting to publish their journey, what would that be?

JH: Believe in your project and don’t give up.

LJ: What has been the most surprising thing that has transpired since your book has been released?

JH: This might sound odd, but the biggest surprise is that people other than my mother like my book! As I stated above, the vetting process to get a book published is lonely and that if I couldn’t draw upon the confidence of my family, I may not have made it through the other side in one piece. I poured my soul into my book and then put it on bookshelves. That felt a little bit like being an awkward teenager all over again, asking out your first crush on a date, fearing rejection. So, my biggest surprise is simply that the story resonates with those who read it; I actually can tell a story.

LJ: Can you tell us about the cover? I'm a HUGE sucker for a beautiful book cover, and yours certainly is up there as one of THE most gorgeous out there...

JH: Oh, my. Do I dare mention that the cover was, for me, a compromise? My publisher and I went back and forth on the cover art for a long time. Let’s just say that I had ideas about the cover that didn’t align with the publisher’s. I’m not exactly sure how the publisher came upon the image that we ultimately chose, but I had suggested an image that was a photo I took in Belize (click here for image) that was the inspiration for the VW Bug Bike theme in the Belize chapter. A few weeks later, the publisher came forward with the current cover. I should mention that throughout the process of selecting cover art I was pretty pig-headed and I am grateful to an even-tempered publisher for putting up with me. Now I simply can’t imagine any other cover art.

That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

LJ: If you had to do it all over again what, if anything, would you do differently in writing/publishing your book? And adding to that will you write another book when your family travels again?

JH: A friend with some experience in the book selling business told me the day the book came out, “Now comes the hard part.” I had read all the books about getting a book published, and thought I was ready for that next phase. A lot of things caught me off guard, however, including resistance from bookstores to carrying a title from “an unknown” to the timing of the book’s release with the lead time it would take to have it reviewed in newspapers and magazines. So, in retrospect, the down time I had between editing the last revision to the book shipping would be better spent making friends at local bookstores, newspapers and bloggers (not unlike yourself!).

Although our family continues to travel – we recently returned from three weeks in Tonga – I don’t see anymore travel books in my future. I do hope to write newspaper and magazine articles on a variety of subjects. Once September and I get Katrina and Jordan’s braces and college paid off, we hope to be able to do charity work in the developing world. It’s possible there is a book in there, somewhere. I also have an idea for a novel, but that would be a huge undertaking that simply won’t be possible until the braces and college are paid off.

LJ: This last question comes from my husband when I asked him any questions he might have, "I wanna know how much 'the shirt' cost”.

JH: You must mean the Bill’s Burger Barn shirt. I frankly have no recollection of the actual cost – the original was on a discount rack in a Prague department store – maybe US $10. Of course Jordan and I had some replicas made and shipped to Mauritius. While I do remember what that cost, not including shipping to an obscure tropical island, I think it best not to stoke the flame there J. I’ll simply state it was the most expensive practical joke I’ve ever played on my wife and I will always regret that the package didn’t come in time.

Once again THANK YOU for stopping by, and sharing with us! Good luck with 360 Degrees, already a great success! We look forward to watching your writing career unfold, and I, for one, am looking forward to a novel by John Higham!

Don't forget, everyone, that you can enter the Book Blab giveaway to win one of 5 copies of John's book, and 50% of the proceeds goes to the organization KIVA, and you can also purchase his book here, or here, or HERE.


Sunday, August 16, 2009


The Sunday I apologize for the late post, but I have a visitor from out of town who I took site seeing.  So needless to say I didn't get any reading done!  BUT this week I went to Chapters and wrote up a wishlist!  Here are some of the books I hope to get soon!

  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 
  • The Ten Year Nap
  • Guernsey Potato Peel Pie Society
  • The Tenth Gift
What's on your wishlist?  And can anyone out there tell me if I need to read The Girl Who Played with Fire first before my first pick up there?  Thanks!  Have a WONDERFUL night!

Friday, August 14, 2009



I JUST finished Slumdog, and having never seen the movie, I have to say I was a bit disappointed with it. I mean it was GOOD, but I wouldn't say it was GREAT. And this may be the rare case where the movie is actually BETTER than the book. In fact, reading it, I could see how it would make a pretty amazing movie!

Okay, so back to the book. The thing that threw me off was the cover. On the cover is a profile of the main actor and inset is a young woman running. Underneath are questions like that from a "millionaire" type show and it says, "What does it take to find a lost love?" and then 4 answers to choose from. Does this not sound like the book would be about a "lost love" and then does it not imply that he will be trying to find said lost love? Right. That's what I thought. So with that paradigm looming in my head, I felt frustrated about 3/4 of the way through realizing that that was not really what the story was about. Maybe the movie was cut that way? Not sure, but for me this premise was very distracting.

The story is about Ram Mohammad Thomas who has just been arrested on suspicion of cheating on a televised game show, "Who Will Win A Billion?" He is a kid from the slums with no education and manages to answer all 12 questions correctly, much to the stunned crowd and game officials. During his arrest he is rescued by a lawyer who then asks him to reveal how he could possibly know the answers to all 12 questions. He then proceeds to show her by illustrating moments in his own life that coincidentally have a direct correlation with every single question he is asked on the stage!

It is a very clever method of storytelling, and set in India the author portrays life there as very gritty, chaotic, and sometimes beautiful. My absolute favourite part of the book is the very opening line in the Prologue:

" I have been arrested. For winning a quiz show. "

How cool is this for a first line?! The entire prologue is fantastic and a great set-up for the entire book. I wish I had read it under the original title of Q and A, without the new cover, I would have gone in without any expectations and would have enjoyed it much more. Like I said, I didn't hate it, or even dislike it, it was GOOD. A good solid read.



I am practically jumping out of my seat over here!!! Book Blab is hosting its very first EVER giveaway AND it just happens to be John Highams 360 Degrees! You can read my review here. And my interview with the author here. My deepest thanks to Alyson Books Publishing company for this terrifac giveaway! 5 COPIES are available for giveaways and will be directly mailed to the winner from the publisher, so here is how to enter!

1. Comment below and leave your email address, no email and you can't win! 1 entry

2. Become a follower and comment to let me know you've done so. 1 entry

3. Blog about it! Put my giveaway in your sidebar and you earn an extra 2 entries! Put a post in your blog about the giveaway and you earn an extra 2 entries! Let me know that you have done both or either. And send me the link and I will add you to my blogroll and follow you! :)

This contest will end 12 midnight on Sept 1/09 and is only open to Canada and the US. GOOD LUCK!

Thursday, August 13, 2009


COMING SOON!!! Book Blab is honoured to have an up and coming interview with the author of 360 Degrees Longitude, JOHN HIGHAM!!!!! Stay tuned!


Booking Through Thursday is a weekly meme that is hosted by the website of the same name, and this weeks question is:

What’s the worst book you’ve read recently?(I figure it’s easier than asking your all-time worst, because, well, it’s recent!)
Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!
The most recent of "worst" would probably be The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. This meme is super timely as I was JUST going to review it today! I know this was an Oprah pick, and that is primarily why I bought it. Like her or not, she sure knows how to hype up a book! Some of the books from her book club have been duds, but two of them are in my top 5 and I may never have read them if they hadn't been chosen!

But I digress....

I was pretty excited to read this book as I am a huge dog fan. HUGE. And seriously, just look at the cover, I mean does that not scream, "BUY ME!" from the shelf, or what? That being said, I loved the first half of this book. I loved Almondine (the dog heroine) and I loved Edgar, I even loved the loathsome Claude (who I kept picturing as a very dingy looking Sam Rockwell). His character was very colorful and the writing of all of the scenes in the barn between Edgar and Claude are very well done and unfold movie-like on the page.

Then Edgar heads to the woods.

Without giving anything away, Edgar does disappear in the woods for a time and this is when this book really takes a plunge into boredom for me. It goes on and on, endlessly, with details and ... yawn. Although there was glimmers of hope for this section, I could barely get through it. I felt as if the author was trying to fill out the book, I'm certain that is NOT the case, but that's what it felt like.

Then he meets Henry.

Can someone please tell me the point of the Henry character? By the end of the book I was just mystified as to why this whole part of the novel existed. I liked Henry a lot. A very loving caring man, and really enjoyed some of this section. But there is something that happens in the shed, as in an apparition and it is never really explained or addressed and is just sort of left there... hanging... only to annoy me.

So this book is difficult to rate. I enjoyed the first half immensely, found it very well written and engaging.. but the last almost half and the ending left me disappointed. I would never tell a person NOT to read a book they want to read, other people LOVED this one, so what do I know. I am only sharing my opinion and my answer to today's meme!

What is YOUR worst recent read?


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

REVIEW: 360 Degrees of Longitude

360 Degrees of Longitude by John Higham
Our Family's Journey Around the World
How I came about this book I just can't remember, and it was just a few weeks ago! I found the authors website based on the book and then I pre-ordered it and got it only the day after it was officially released on July 1st, 2009. WARNING: Full on raving and 5 star shenanigans ahead...
I read this book in 2 days. Not an easy feat as I look after two girls, 9 and 2, AND a 44 year old kid posing as my husband.
Once I read the first few sentences I could not put it down. Now, granted, my husband and I have been talking about a trip like this for as long as we have been together, and we place world travel very high on our priority list, so that could be why I just inhaled the thing. But don't take my word for it either! Just check out! In just 6 weeks this non-fiction delight has garnered ONLY 5 star ratings, and rave reviews. And I can totally understand why.
John Higham is a rocket scientist. Not as in, "Oh gee, it doesn't take a rocket scientist." No, he really IS one. He and his wife took 10 years to plan the "world the round" trip (as one of his children exclaimed in their toddler years), and he not only gives great detail of their travels but it is entertaining as heck and hilarious at times! When was the last time you laughed out loud while reading a travel memoir other than a Bill Bryson? Not only is it wildly entertaining, it is also educational without being text-booky, and honestly? You just feel like you are along for the ride, the tandem bike ride, as that is how this family largely travelled. Surviving on ham sandwiches and hitting the off-off beat track and getting sidetracked by some crazy stuff, you will feel like you know each and everyone of these people intimately. Not only that, if you have any interest at all in travelling the world? This will definitely inspire you to google earth yourself an itinerary.
The other neat thing the author did, he created a layer within Google Earth and there are many photos and extra little anecdotes to follow along as you read. Every time you see the little Google Earth symbol in the text you can visit the website and see the added bonus! GENIUS!

All in all a FANTASTIC read for anyone, but especially those of us wanting to travel with our kids.
RATING: 5 stars

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
McArthur and Co 1993 (issue read 2003)
Oh... my .. God.. to say I loved this book is a GROSS understatement. Seriously. First of all it is a HUGE book with a LOVELY cover, which are the two deadliest things in terms of "irresistible" qualities a book might have that get me to buy it. It ranks in at a whopping 1474 pages long, and in fact you'd be hard pressed to find the copy that I have. Now you can buy the book in two separate volumes, I suppose to not scare off any would-be buyers of its enormity.

This book, even though extremely long, was so engrossing and pleasant to read that I actually did not want it to end. I tell EVERYBODY about it, and to this date only my sister has bought it and hasn't tackled it yet. But listen to me, people, this book is ACTUALLY really really great!!! I mean REALLY great! And here is the number 1 reason why I love it:

"You too will marry a boy I choose," said Mrs. Rupa
Mehra firmly to her younger daughter.

Lata avoided the maternal imperative by looking around the great lamp-lit garden of Prem Nivas. The wedding-guests were gathered on the lawn.

"Hmm," she said. This annoyed her mother further.

"I know what your hmms mean, young lady, and I can tell you I will not stand for hmms in this matter. I do know what is best. I am doing it all for you. Do you think it is easy for me, trying to arrange things for all four of my children without His help?"

Etc. These are the first sentences and it already shows Lata's relationship with her "Ma" as strained in a hilarious way. It reminds me very much of Amy Tan's writing as in The Kitchen God's Wife. She usually has a very "overburdened" mother who always LOUDLY lets everyone know how much she has sacrificed for them. This is Lata and her mother.

Other than this very entertaining interplay between these two characters it is a beautifully written novel about India, its culture, its people, and it is an epic following this family and Lata's quest for love and happiness. Ever since reading it I have been drawn to other books that have a setting in India and love to be immersed into that world.
I highly recommend it to everyone!

Sunday, August 9, 2009


Welcome to my very first Sunday Salon! The Sunday Salon is like a virtual "reading room" where fellow bibliophiles "gather" and do some relaxed reading on Sunday's and share what they have read.
Today I took up my usual spot on my living room couch, at my usual time of my youngest's naptime, and stretched out in a slash of sun and continued my re-read of The Fiery Cross. Before Diana Gabaldon announced the impending release of the next Outlander book, I started to re-read the entire series about 2 years ago. Once I heard, via her personal blog, that she was writing the next installment in the series I got much more focused in my reading. Nothing like a deadline to get the pages turning!
Re-reading a series is something I have done since childhood, starting with the Little House Series. I have probably re-read that series about 30 times in my life. Once I found, through my older sisters, the Gabaldon series, I knew I wanted to keep Jamie and Claire alive and well around me at all times. So, since reading the first in the series, "Outlander" in 2002 I have basically always got one on the go. I liked the Fiery Cross when I first read it, but at the time it was my least favourite of the series. Mostly because (and I had been fair warned ahead of time) the entire first 147 pages takes place in ONE DAY. It felt endless. I was apprehensive about reading it again, but reading them all for a second time I am actually enjoying them a lot more. The thing about them is that this is very smart historical fiction, written not only for women, but many men I have heard (my Dad being one of them) have loved them too. Not purely "chick lit".. which is not my preferred genre.
So now every single day I sit down and read for at least an hour because in 7 weeks the new book comes out and I have to finish this one AND re-read the LAST one which is well over 900 pages! Can she do it??! We'll see.....

Thursday, August 6, 2009

REVIEW: The Book of Negroes

The Book of Negroes (released in the U.S. as Someone Knows my Name)

Harper Collins Publishers Oct 15, 2007

This is one of those books that I kept going to on the bookshelves at Chapters. I kept picking it up and wanting to buy it, but for whatever reason I didn't. You know how it is. When I finally did buy it was after about a year after we brought our adopted daughter home from Ethiopia, so the story had even more meaning to me.
This book is one of my all time favourite reads. Written by a Canadian Author and highlighting much of the history of slaves who were sent to Nova Scotia. I have to admit I knew nothing about that history, and I was blown away by the accounts. But let me back track a bit. The story follows a young African girl named Aminata Diallo, a fictional character, but the "face" of many many slaves of all sexes and ages that went through the living hell that was her life after her capture. It was an extremely compelling read that had me, at times, almost in tears at the absolute terror that this young girl must have felt during her captivity. Lawrence Hill is an incredibly gifted writer that, for a man, captured his heroines heart and soul and laid it out on the page. Not knowing any of the history of the journey to Nova Scotia or of Freedomland I was on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen next!

This is a piece of historical fiction that is beautifully written, educational as well as heart wrenching.
It is interesting to note that before the novel was released in the US they had to change the name reportedly because the publishers or distributors down there thought the name might be to inflammatory. But the truth is there really is a record of names of slaves that travelled via ship to Nova Scotia from Africa and it is actually called "The Book of Negroes."


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

REVIEW: Mutiny on the Bounty by John Boyne

'>Mutiny on the Bounty by John Boyne
Published Feb 2009 Doubleday Canada - To purchase click this link:
The day I bought this book I was doing my annual birthday browse at a Chapters and had literally a pile of books in my arms. Normally I don't wander up and down the fiction aisle and look at every book that's there, but this day I did. Beside a shelf in a pile was Mutiny on the Bounty by John Boyne. Personally I love books about life on ships, and I haven't read many of them. So I picked it up and read the first page. HOOKED.

To say I loved this novel is an understatement. The language the author uses in the dialogue is ingenious! Words like "scut" to describe a scumbag, or "squits" for... well.. obvious bodily issues you may or may not get on a ship, and my personal favourite when our hero John Jacob Turnstile suddenly finds himself in the company of a lady, let's say, he "gets the motions." Honestly, I laughed out loud at this almost every single time.

I was not familiar with the Bounty story so for me this was a great read on that level as well. The story of Bligh and his ill fated voyage is told from the perspective of a 14 year old n'ere do well Turnstile. He narrowly avoids jail time by agreeing to serve time as Bligh's personal "assistant" on the Bounty for an eighteen month voyage. The interesting thing about using Turnstile to tell the story is we get to "be there" and watch the events unfold as a fly on the wall, so to speak. Boyne uses the boys perspective that filter the story as well as his reaction to what he sees and often overhears that helps us to understand what went wrong. The story is a fictional account of what happened, but follows the historical version pretty closely. And the characters you love to hate are much more fun when you interact with them thru a 14 year old boys impatient and rebellious yet controlled manner.

This is one of those books that I could not put down. I read it every spare moment I had and talked of little else. It was funny, heart breaking, compelling and unpredictable. (At least for me since I had no idea what actually happened in the history books) After I finished it I was thoroughly satisfied right to the very last page, which in and of itself is an amazing feat for an author.