Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantal
Now available!

First off I wanted to send a HUGE THANK YOU to  Christine Choe over at Henry Holt and Company Publishers for sending me a copy of this book!

The first thing I wanted to say is that I really enjoyed reading this novel.  I am a huge sucker for all things Tudor and I love that Wolf Hall has been continued with Bring Up the Bodies with the story through Thomas Cromwell's eyes is brilliant.

Mantel's writing style is unique, and not an easy grasp, in my opinion, but once I got the gist of it I rather liked her way around the words.  Now, I remember in Wolf Hall I was so confused by her use of the word "he" that I often times had no clue who was speaking, and it drove me nuts.  I didn't get, at the time, that the book was written solely from Cromwell's view.  So, when I was offered an ARC of the next book, I said "yes" and for some reason really grasped the concept well this time around.

I personally loved it when she would use "he, Cromwell, says"  or at the end of a sentence by Cromwell, "he said: he, Cromwell."  I don't know why, exactly, but it endeared the hell out of me.  As does Cromwell himself.  LOVE him.  Now that doesn't mean he is not self serving, I mean, let's face it, he has a pretty cushy life as the right-hand-man of the king.  But that does not mean he is without scruples.  And Mantel sprinkles examples of his scruples throughout, which make me like him more and more.  I now want to go back and finish Wolf Hall with this new appreciation for the point of view, and enjoy the relationship between himself and Wolsey, which as I remember had quite a humorous way about the two of them in the first book.

So, back to Bring Up the Bodies.  This book brings us to the point in Tudor history where Anne Boleyn is no longer in Henry's good books.  She has failed to produce an heir, and as it turns out is schtooping every able body in the county.  She is not liked by many, and her cunning and calculated ways are a strain on everyone who is near her.  Meanwhile, demure and tiny Jane Seymour is quietly making a place for herself in history, and when Henry finally has had enough... well, we all know what happens next.

In the telling of the story from Cromwell's point of view, we see the delicate politics that he faced in this time in Henry's court.  In order to carry out the king's wishes, Cromwell will have to ally with some of his enemies.  How will he handle himself in these instances?  To what lengths will he go to pay for Anne's head?

A beautifully told version of a much told tale and a must read book for any fans of the Henry VIIIth era.

This book is also available in audio format by Macmillan Audio and the reading is done by the very talented Simon Vance.

And here is a video with Hilary Mantel about the book.

 RATING:  4/5

For more information about this book click here. 

Monday, June 18, 2012


Mailbox Monday is a weekly bookish meme currently being hosted by Burton Book Review.  

How much do I love Simon and Schuster Canada!  SCHWING!

Last week I received The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman.  (Release date July 31, 2012)

Here's the blurb:

After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.
Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.
M. L. Stedman’s mesmerizing, beautifully written novel seduces us into accommodating Isabel’s decision to keep this “gift from God.” And we are swept into a story about extraordinarily compelling characters seeking to find their North Star in a world where there is no right answer, where justice for one person is another’s tragic loss.

I was super excited to see that this book is set in Australia, and I am a sucker for books set around oceans.  It looks great, and I think it will be a great summer read!

And today I received:  

The Blessed by Tonya Hurley  Release date Sept 25, 2012         
(Gorgeous cover!)

Here is the blurb:

What if martyrs and saints lived among us? And what if you were told you were one of them?
Meet Agnes, Cecilia, and Lucy. Three lost girls, each searching for something. But what they find is Beyond Belief.

How about that for a nice concise blurb!

For more Mailbox Monday posts click here!


Friday, June 15, 2012

COOKBOOK REVIEW: The Looneyspoons Collection

The Looneyspoons Collection by Janet and Greta Podleski
Granet Publishing | November 1, 2011 | Trade Paperback

I have decided instead of starting a whole new blog for cookbooks and food, that I would just include a Foodie Friday post where I review a cookbook and share a recipe from it!

Today I am reviewing and sharing from the Looneyspoon gals, whom I adore.  They are a super fun sister duo that focus on healthy eating without sacrificing flavour.  Their recipes are easy and fun, and kids love the wacky names that they choose for them.  One of our old standbys around here is the Lord of the Wings recipe, I make it about once a month, and it is a huge HUGE hit.  

So far I have tried three recipes, they were all soup.   I am a huge fan of soup.  ANYway, the three that I tried were:

  • Thai One On -  Exotic sweet potato and coconut soup with shrimp  -  This soup was excellent and super easy to make.  What I loved about it was the coconut milk flavour.  I did not add the shrimp, but I can honestly say that with the shrimp it would have probably made a 9 instead of the 8.5 that I gave it out of 10.  Super tasty. 
  • Bean Me Up, Scotty Spicy, high-fiber black bean soup with a sour cream swirl-  This was rated a 10 by my finicky husband (especially in the soup department!) and by me, my oldest daughter gave it an 8 out of 10.  This was so super yummy I can't even articulate it well enough to describe.  The only thing I added was fried corn tortilla strips, super easy.  You slice up corn tortillas into 1/2 inch strips and then fry them in vegetable oil until slightly brown and crispy. 
  • The Squash Court - Silky butternut squash soup with pears and ginger - I was the only one that tried this soup and I gave it a 7.  I'm not sure about the "silky" part of this soup, but it was pretty tasty.  The only thing I might omit if I ever make it again is the 3/4 cup light cream, it doesn't really need it.  
Here is the recipe (credit - Janet and Greta Podleski Looneyspoons Collection) * if someone in book blog land knows if for some reason I am not allowed to publish recipes from books, can you let me know??!  Thanks!


2 tsp  olive oil or butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp  grated gingerroot
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable 
3 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
2 cups peeled and chopped pears
1 cup peeled and chopped carrots
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup 5 % cream or evaporated milk 2%

  • Heat olive oil in large pot over medium heat.  Add onions and garlic.  Cook and stir until onions begin to soften about 3 minutes.  Add gingerroot, curry powder and ground cumin.  Mix well and cook for 30 more seconds. (I asked a friend who is a chef why I always had to cook curry powder for a bit before adding broth and he said it was to keep the curry from being gritty)
  • Add broth, squash, pears, carrots, salt and pepper.  Bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 12 to 15 minutes or until squash and carrots are tender.  Stir occasionally.
  • Working in two batches, carefully transfer soup to a blender and puree until smooth.  Soup will be very thick (mine wasn't).  Return pureed soup to pot and stir in cream.  Serve hot.  


So far I love this book, and there are over 300 recipes in it!  I highly recommend it!

RATING:  4 out of 5 spoons

Friday, June 8, 2012


Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

This book was sent to me an embarrassingly long time ago by Michelle over at Simon and Schuster Canada, and I first wanted to shriek THANK YOU!  To her and them, as they have been very good to me despite my lollygagging.

Clockwork Prince is the much awaited sequel to Clockwork Angel and, although extremely excited that this book was coming out, I have to admit to being a wee bit nervous that it was not going to live up to book one.  Which makes me want to poke sticks in my eyes when that happens.

But, alas, it did not happen this time!  Clockwork Prince picks up where we left off in the story and is just as delightfully written as the first one.

We are taken back to the underworld of Victorian London Steampunk style, where Tessa Gray is still living safely among the Shadowhunters.  But not for long as it is soon discovered that the Magistrate will stop at nothing to obtain Tessa and her powers to use for his own evil purposes.  With the help of the dark and handsomely disturbed Will, and silvery glittery Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magistrates war on the Shadowhunters is a deeply personal one that is fueled by revenge.

The beauty of this story is two-fold.  One, it is set in the enticing Victorian era with a twist.  There are mechanical machines that are used as the Magistrates minions, and Clare's use of them is terrifying and reads like a movie script.  There is magic and demons, and Clare has an extremely imaginative mind that creates the creepiest of visions in your head.  Like the Warlock that comes to dinner with the 4th knuckle on each of his 6 fingers.  Ick.   Or the striking "woman" in the red dress with a long slit up the back to reveal her snake-like tail underneath.  There are so any more visuals like that but done in such a believable way that it only adds to the setting and the story in general.

The second, and possible the best part, is the ongoing love triangle between Tessa, hot hot HOT Will, and sweet and nice Jem.  Will is tortured, to be sure, and he vacillates between being a total dick to clutching her to him in a mad fever.  Huh?  No wonder she is so confused!   And Jem is the quintessential "nice" guy who is always loyally by her side, and Will's and well pretty much the loyal guy that everyone can count on.  Plus he has the hots for Tessa, and he's dying, so this all makes him pretty interesting.

The thing that I love about Cassandra Clare's writing, with this series anyway as I have not read the other one, is that the reason for Will's behaviour is a completely plausible one and an actually very satisfying one within the realm of the world that she created.  You know how when you read a book, and often times a YA one, that the author seems to pull a completely obscure and ridiculous answer to a mystery or reason for a person's behaviour out of their ass and you are yanked out of the story and so utterly pissed off that you feel like heaving the book into the nearest fire pit?

Okay, maybe that's just me.

ANYway, I loved it.  And since it was left as a relatively nice cliff hanger I can't WAIT for the next one to come out!  The next book will be called Clockwork Princess and it will be released March 19, 2013!!

Thank you Cassandra Clare for creating this amazing world and the creatures in it!

For more on The Infernal Devices series you can click here.

And for information on her other series, The Mortal Instruments you can click here. 


Thursday, June 7, 2012

In which I spend money on books.... again.

Okay, so I'm sure that many of you can relate to this story.  I have A LOT of books around my house.  I would guess that 97% of them I have not yet read.  And despite my yearly promise to myself that I will not buy another book until I have tackled the hundreds that are already crammed in every small space in my house, I cave in probably within two weeks of making said promise.  When I bought my Kindle I thought, "HA! Now I won't have to have book buying guilt as I won't have to add any physical books to my shelf!"


So, now do I not only have still hundreds of books unread that we are tripping over, used to stop a table from rocking, whatever... you get my meaning, I also have probably about twenty samples and maybe half a dozen books waiting on my Kindle, and some I started and will never finish.

Book buying diet... FAIL.

Not to mention cookbooks, I have a THING for them.  They also line shelves inside my kitchen, not in the hundreds but lets say there's more than two and less than thirty. (cough)

And while I was snooping around on the interwebs, always dangerous, I realized I had not stopped over at Pioneer Woman's abode in quite a few months, so I grabbed my Bailey's tainted coffee and knocked on her "www."

Well..... not only do I marvel in the force that her blog has become (a recent poll she took on one post about how young people feel took in over 46,000 comments.  Thaaaaat's right, not 46, not 460... FORTY SIX THOUSAND people commented.) I started to meander around her recipe index and then I saw that... GASP (and that's a REAL gasp, not the Christian Grey variety) SHE HAS A NEW COOKBOOK OUT!  

So there I was at Chapters this morning with my 5 year old in tow with every intention of just looking at it.  I picked it up and it was gorgeous in all its pioneer woman glory.  I took my daughter to the kids section so I could really give it the 'ol once over, and I looked once and it was over.  It literally took me about three seconds of flipping to know I wanted it, nay... MUST HAVE IT.  And then I looked up and saw a lovely display of YA novels just staring at me.  One may have been winking, but I'm not exactly sure.

Next thing I know a copy of Divergent AND the new Pioneer Woman Cookbook had somehow magically ended up in my hands and I was handing them to the cashier with a gamblers glee at the blackjack table.

Here I sit on my living room couch like a dieter who just went on a binge.  Even though it is just two books (I've done worse... much MUCH worse) I still feel like my house will actually be made of books someday, you know furniture, fridge, the whole thing.

Anyway, this is why I get very good at hiding Chapter's receipts like they are evidence of a crack habit from my husband.

Just like he hides receipts for his motorcycle doo-dads.  Right?  RIGHT?!!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Should Be Reading, and anyone can play along!  I haven't done a TT in months and months, so here goes!

  • Grab your current read
  • Flip to a random page and select two teaser sentences from anywhere on that page. 
  • Try not to include any SPOILERS!
  • Make sure you let us know the name of the book and author so we can add it to our growing TBR pile!

My TT is from Cassandra Clare's Clockwork Prince which I got as an ARC back in November.  THANK YOU MICHELLE FROM SIMON AND SCHUSTER CANADA!  I am, obviously, waaaay behind on my ARC reading, but now that I have been spending more time with this one I am LOVING IT as much as the first one, which I LOVED.

Here is today's teaser:

"Starkweather's eyes swept over Tessa again, one last time, before he turned and stalked out of the room, his cloak flapping behind him.  Tessa couldn't get the image of a great black bird of prey - a vulture, perhaps - out of her mind."

For more teasers click here. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012


Here's the thing, people, I realize that I will probably get hung up from the rafters by a large member of the +35 female Christian Grey club, but I just have to comment on the inexplicable phenom that is this book.  I will say that this is not a review as I could not finish this book, I got around 1/3 in and just couldn't do it.  But before I go any further I do want to say...

YAY FOR THE AUTHOR!  Even though I personally think her book is a step below most erotica you can find in the used book store shelves, I think it is stupendous that she has become a total runaway success!  Here she is a mom of two, and she decides to write some fan fiction, and literally within weeks she is a wealthy famous author.  KUDOS TO HER!  I love it.

Now, on to the negatives.  This book is just not written well... AT ALL.  And I know most people who are obsessed with it will argue that "It's escape reading!  Just have fun with it!" Well, good for you if you can, but it is no only dreadful to read, it is chock full of complete an utter mistakes in story that pull you out of the story.

Example:  Early on in the story Anastasia (barf, nice name) is waking up from being hungover in Christian Grey's (double barf on the name) apartment.  He exits the shower in nothing but a towel, where she remarks in her head that he's got nothing on David the statue, meaning, NICE NAKED CHEST.  Then skip ahead after their first virginal romp, because before he takes her down the road of dominance and S & M he, being such a GOOD GUY, decides he has to "take care of" her virginity first, like its a surf board he has to wax down before he takes it in the big waves.  This part made me want to hurl, personally.  ANYway, after their romp she finds Mr. Billionaire playing at the piano in nothing but a pair of flannel pants and she thinks, "Gee, I have never even seen his naked chest before!"  HELLO, YES YOU DID, IT WAS ONLY ABOUT 20 PAGES AGO, MORON!

This kind of thing.

There is actually so much more I could say about how this book is thoroughly annoying and difficult to read, but I am not going to waste any more time on it.  You can visit and read almost 1600 1 star reviews that will echo pretty much exactly my sentiments on the subject.

What I am trying to figure out is what makes THIS BOOK so popular compared to say... any other  erotic harlequin type of book?  I mean, she is selling  one every THIRTY SECONDS! And like I said, good for her, and this is not really a comment on her, she just wrote it, it's the folks that are buying it by the millions that I am directing this question to.

As I was racking my brain to try to figure it out, I thought, well, lots of people are probably buying it to satisfy their curiosity, like I did.  And some are getting sucked in and some, like me,  are not.  The hype is totally out of control which is creating a kind of reading frenzy.  As I was reading it I realized what it was that was irritating me about the writing.  It is clearly written in a YOUNG ADULT style, and BADLY, and not edited well.  It is basically a poorly written YA novel with graphic sex.  Which makes sense since a large portion of the YA market is actually women between the ages of 35 and 45.  There are hundreds of fan fic stories with more raunchy sex with Edward and Bella, or Harry and Hermoine, for example.

When I searched the interwebs for other reviews, I was kind of relieved to see other scathing reviews of 50.  

Here's my final word on the subject:  The argument that this book is escape reading and that you just have to let go of shitty writing is flimsy.  The reason is because there is PLENTY of fabulously written escape fiction out there that you don't have to use too many brain cells to enjoy.  Case in point:  The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.  And when I have to use TOO MANY brain cells TO READ a book because the writing is not good or the plot is full of mistakes and holes and inconsistencies then it is no longer feels like escape... it's TOO MUCH WORK.

And here's where I hoist a glass to my favourite escape reading heroes Jamie and Claire, where there is enough brilliance and heat to keep you satisfied for years!

For more reviews of this book you can visit