Mindless Reading creates Mindless Creatures

Yesterday was a huge milestone for my boy and  me. He passed his Driving Learners Test and now has a permit to drive with a licensed driver in the car. He came out of the test office, stood in front of me an did a little happy dance jig. Wow… 17 years ago, I whined about wanting a baby – not this man-child with the deep voice, goatee, size 13 feet and giant that stands before me. I look at him through mother’s eyes and melt. I look at him through strangers eyes and feel pride. His dad and I did good.

It made me think about all the books I have read and characters who were bad parents and characters who were great parents.

Best parent character award goes to Atticus Finch – from To Kill a Mocking Bird

Worst parent award goes to… hmmmm There are SO MANY!! From Scarlet O’Hara to the Evil Step Mothers in fairy tales, from Old Nick in Room to Mum in Hidden. Robert from 101 books agrees with me. He is on a quest to read great literature and is learning great is subjective. He also is learning that parents in books make bad choices. He has a great commentary about it so click here to read more.

Characters in books usually offer bad parenting advice, so my advice is to learn from them in the “what not to do” category. That is what is great about books. They teach you things, shock you, make you smile and even laugh. Take the time to learn critically from books, don’t just absorb them and think because it was published, it makes it a great read. It doesn’t.

The prime example is Shades of Gray. Read more books if you think this one was great. There are better books out there, I promise you!

This leads me to the Goodreads Giveaways I have received. The latest book I read was Alys, Always by Harriet Lane.

This book is about a newspaper editor who comes upon a car on a country road in England. The car has turned on its side and there is a women trapped. The editor approaches the car to help and her life changes forever from that moment forward.

The first chapter was EXCELLENT! It was a short story in itself, and quite frankly should have been kept that way. The rest of the chapters were dull, boring and I would have stopped reading if two things did happen:

  1. I won it with the implied intent I would review it.
  2. It was billed as having a twist and being suspenseful.

I can assure you there was no plot twist, there was no suspense and I could care less how it ended. It was predictable. The people reviewing it are giving it rave reviews  – mostly because it is a romance – blech – a poor one at that, and they won this book and likely feel obligated to give it a good review. This book took me forever to get through because of dullness. Read the first chapter and call it a day. OR find a great book and read that one.

15852479I have started my second Goodreads Giveaway book called We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo. It is slated for publication 5/21/13. 19 pages in and I cannot put it down. It is about the life of 10-year-old Darling and her friends living in Zimbabwe. The culture will shock you North Americans. I am hoping this riveting read will continue throughout the book. The reviews are consistently stellar. Alys, Always had spotty reviews, so I am hopeful.

I am also reading the Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. This one is more for work and personal growth. It talks about how the brain develops habit and how you can use this knowledge in business and personal life. I am fascinated by it! For all you Dr. Bruce Perry fans, this would be interesting to you. It is for me.

So tell me, what great read is on your shelf right now?

Obsession or Passion?

My book obsession passion has reached new heights.

dovekeepersThen why am I writing instead of finishing the last chapter of The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman? Well, to be honest, the last chapter has filled me with anxiety and trepidation. I am fearing the end because I fell in love with 3 out of 4 of the women whose stories are intertwined with each other. I don’t want to see it end, nor do I want it to end badly, NOR do I want to say good bye. I will busy myself with house work and some other mundane chores before I sit to weep and say farewell to Yael and Aziza.

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Last night at my Book Club meeting, I fulfilled a lifelong dream of sitting for the entire evening talking about books. We asked each other why this happened. First off, we all read the book Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danicat. Two of us really liked the book and two of us weren’t sure. This made for great discussion as to what we liked and what we didn’t. The big consensus was that this was an unfinished book, with gaps and details left to misunderstanding or oblivion. I like that in a book. I don’t always want to know the meat of the story, it helps with speculation of the character. But I did love the cultural aspect of the characters family. Learning about the bond of women and how they give everything up to serve man. This makes me thankful I am a Canadian Girl with North American values that honor education and independent choices for women and their daughters.  Leaving this book behind did not sadden me like leaving the Dovekeepers will.

Other books that have stayed with me over the long term and make me sad when I leave them behind have strong character development and something that has me relate on a personal level. Everyone I talk to who has read The Red Tent by Anita Diamant has felt the same as me, they loved this book and rank it amongst the best they have ever read. The Dovekeepers feels the same as this book. From the time in history, to the bonding of women, to the servitude of men, The Red Tent speaks to the strength of women over time. Read it.

I have been ever vigilant in searching for that next great read. I browse Goodreads on a regular basis and have found some reviews to be stellar and others that make me wonder if we read the same book.  There is a section on goodreads called Explore. I stepped into that section this week to look at new books that are going to be released this year. Authors I have never heard of, genres that don’t interest me (romance) and concepts that I have never heard of for fiction (Steampunk? I thought that was art!). Then I discovered a section called GIVEAWAYS!

For the record, I love free things! From soap and shampoo in hotel rooms to water bottles at conferences, Free = Good! I started heading down the list and began entering the draws. Publishing houses and authors give away first copies before the launch of their books to readers who are willing to read and review these books. Tuesday I won a Canadian book The Demonologist by Andrew Pyper! Simon and Shuster publishers are mailing it to me. The release is set for March. It sounds scary but so interesting! I can’t wait to crack it open!

The next night I was browsing that list again and entered a few new draws. By morning I received notice that I won Healer’s Touch by Deb Howell. Deb sent me a private message on Goodreads, she is signing the book and mailing it to me! Her and I chatted back and forth a bit and I admit to being star struck. I get that way with writers, hockey players and astronauts.

Then Friday I was browsing again and came across The Fallen Snow by John Kelley. I entered the draw for that book because it is another autographed copy but then I noticed a message, this weekend is the book launch! He was offering a free download on Amazon click here you Canadians for a free copy for your kindle or kindle app to read this book. The deal is, by accepting the free book, they hope you will review it on Amazon or the Kindle store. Fair enough, I appreciate the book and will be honest about my review!

I do know that the more you review, the more books people will send you. SWEET! Bring on the books! But here is my disclaimer, if it isn’t smart or clever, I will be ruthless.

What do yo think? Obsessed or passionate?

So here is me, looking for my next great read! I have chosen these ones for the month of March  and end of February:

  1. The Fallen Snow by John Kelley
  2. Under the Dome by Stephen King
  3. The Dinner by Herman Koch
  4. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn (the book club selection for March)
  5. The Witch’s Daughter by Paula Brackston
  6. Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb

Thoughts or opinions on my chosen ones? Got a better one for me? I am ALL EARS!

Happy reading!

You think THAT is a great book? Oh Honey, we need to talk.

English: Stack of books in Gould's Book Arcade...
English: Stack of books in Gould’s Book Arcade, Newtown, New South Wales (NSW), Australia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was scrolling through endless book lists looking for that next great read. I find myself reading book reviews and browsing Goodreads and think, maybe. My problem is I have read such great books in the past 6 months that the next great read needs to be SPECTACULAR! All I really want to know is WHY for the love of libraries is Shades of Grey the number one downloaded book? That is the worst book EVER. There are WAY better books that will teach you and tantalize you about sexual encounters that may or may not shock you depending what your pleasure is. Seriously, Shades is NOT GREAT LITERATURE, it’s not even good porn. Obviously I cannot rely on the masses to tell me what is a great read. Luckily I have friends who read great books and are willing to spread the word.

So far this year I have read 8 books, I know…I know… I was suppose to slow down. But now that the pressure is off, and my goal is only 25 books instead of 50, it may be darn site easier to read 50. We shall see… At any rate, I have read 8 and started my 9th. My iBook reader (ipad) says this latest book has 1653 pages. Holy hell Stephan King, you write really long books. I know that isn’t actual pages because I read with bigger font because I am old I don’t like the glare.  Still, the average book I read is 400 pages. I hope Under the Dome is at least as good as 11/22/63 because THAT book was fantastic.

Here is my list of books I read this year so far (2013) it doesn’t count the fantasy books I am kind of reading. I am trying to get through Dragonlance Chronicles and have learned fantasy is NOT FOR ME, but I am giving it my best shot. There is too much war and fighting…snore, I prefer – well I no longer don’t know what I prefer. I now like thriller or mystery, that’s new because I wouldn’t read those before. Mostly because I would skip to the end because I am impatient. I can’t stand romance for the sake of romance….snore. But throw in a great romance into a thriller, sci-fi or contemporary novel and I am IN! Anyways………….. here is what I read so far

The Edmonton Tourist’s 2013 Book List so far

  1. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Steadmen. This is one of Heather’s Picks (the CEO of Indigo Books) I typically think she picks great reads, this is another one. This is about a Lighthouse keeper in Australia after WWII and the things a lonely couple get up to when no one is watching. I liked it. 4 GR stars
  2. Where the Heart is by Billie Letts. The movie was better than the book. I liked it in spite of the main character being to naive to be real. I didn’t love it. 3 GR stars
  3. Proof of Heaven by Alexander Eben. I am a sucker for this kind of stuff for reasons I won’t get into. His story is fascinating and not fake like the Heaven is for Real. 4GR Stars
  4. Every Day by David Levithan. Now THIS was a great book! It was odd and quirky about a disembodied soul that pops into people everyday to live their life for a single day. Levithan is becoming one of my favorite authors. 5 GR Stars
  5. Dragonlance Chronicles Book 1 by Margret Weis – I just am plowing through this series, this book was meh for me but those who love this genre will LOVE this book.
  6. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult. Good read filled with sociopaths. It was a little unnerving to read this book about a school shooting so soon after Sandy Book, but it is enlightening. Well thought out and characters are real. 4 GR Stars
  7. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. This author is CRAZY or at the very least understands crazy. This is the second book of hers I read, I will read her other one hoping it will be as good. The reviews I read say Sharp Objects isn’t as hood as her other books. I rated 5 GR stars. I thought is was dark and twisted. The ending  – well, just read it.
  8. Lessons from the End of a Marriage by Lisa Arends. This is a true story about a woman whose husband left her via text so he could marry his second wife. The best part about this story, is how Lisa learned from choices she made and used goals to pull her out of her nightmare. I really admire her courage and spirit. I found her because she subscribed to me here first. Then I decided to take a peek at her blog. I watched her on Jeff Probst and love here memes. I have gleaned great insight from her that can be applied to all relationships and self, not just broken marriages. Go give her site a peek and then buy her book. $7 on Amazon, you can’t go wrong. 4 GR Stars

 

Tell me about a GREAT book you read, chances are I have it on my list or have read it, but I am hoping for that book I will mourn over and miss characters from for weeks.

Happy Reading!

“We read to know that we are not alone.” ― William Nicholson

 

“We read to know that we are not alone.”
William Nicholson

 

I just came off a weekend reading frenzy. I love those kind of weekends. You know the type, lay around in comfy clothes, snacking instead of eating meals and reading 3 books that had me a Page 1.

The first book was J.K. Rowling’s A Causal Vacancy. This was my least favorite of the 3 books this weekend. The story line was just fine, there were a couple of characters I really enjoyed. I loved reading about Krystal’s family and I really liked Andrew. The rest of the town was just overloading me on not caring very much. There was something about this book that made me wade through the crappy bits to get to the climax. Rowling is a master of creating excitement and building to a big finish. That was obvious from reading all her previous works. A Casual Vacancy also had a big build up. I LOVE that in a book. It was unfortunate that this story line was less than interesting. Even with the big build up to the end, I was left with disappointment in her plot line. It was just a regular little town with regular weird residents that resemble people I know. I have to admit of being sucked in by the author’s name. I will likely read her next book but am still holding out hope she will create a Marauders series. Her small town book was dull….except for the end. I rated this book 3 out of 5 on Goodreads.

After I read that book, I immediately picked up A Dog’s Purpose. My friend and bookclub mate The Reader suggested it to me. Our taste in books is very similar, so I figured I would likely enjoy this one too. Did I ever love this book! You don’t need to be a dog lover to enjoy it. The story is from the perspective of the dog, who reincarnates 4 times and has memory of his previous lives. The interesting part for me was how this pup would learn from lessons taught in each life and bring it forward to the next one knowing he has a purpose and must fulfill it. I read this book in a couple of hours and was enchanted right from the time he was Toby until the end of the book as Buddy. I rated this book 5 out of 5 on Goodreads. Love, love, loved it!

The last book I read was the Book of Negroes by Canadian Author Lawrence Hill. It won the Canada Reads award and is a book that everyone should read. I rated it 5 out of 5 on goodreads. For some reason, it is called Someone Knows My Name in the USA.  Which is a shame because of the historical importance of the book entitled The Book Of Negroes (a log kept by the British military to keep track of the slaves, endentured slaves and people freed from slavery who were transplanted to the British colonies in Nova scotia and New Brunswick). It was the story of an 11 year old girl who was captured by the slave traders in Africa. It talked about her 3 month journey to the coast where she was branded and sent on a slave ship to Sullivan Island where she was sold. The story moves throughout her amazing, yet tragic life and the 7 different places she lived. She was more fortunate than most but her life was tragic none the less. I was shocked and shamed to learn about Nova Scotia’s part in the slave trade. The underlying message from this book was timely. It stressed the importance of educating women,especially after Malala Yousafzai was shot for being an activist for girls right to education. Shining Hope for Communities is an organization that combats gender inequality and extreme poverty in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya, by linking tuition free schools for girls to accessible social services for all. Studies show that by educating women, poverty can be reduced and violence is lessened. Women who are educated and well read tend to are less fearful. People shouldn’t have to live in fear.

The Dali Lama said this today on his facebook page:

Comparing the 20th century to now there are many hopeful signs. Look at the way people view war. These days many people challenge the need for it, they question why we have to resort to it. In the early twentieth century there was no talk about protecting the environment, yet now everyone is aware of it. Our perceptions are coming closer to reality; humanity is becoming more mature and I am optimistic about the future.

I think we are making gains. Keep Reading people!