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!

My favorite books I read in 2012

English: Stack of books in Gould's Book Arcade...

I am not going to lie, 2012 was a craptastic year. But every dark cloud has a silver lining and I had a few of those. I achieved some goals, learned some hard lessons and made new friends. All of those belong in the win/win category of my story.

My Life Coach advised me to make a non-fitness goal this year. That was hard. A non-fitness goal made me feel weak. I looked at the things that were important to me and I decided convincing myself that I am intelligent was pretty high on the list. My non-fitness goal of 2012 was to read 50 books. Today is December 30th and I completed my last book today, just under the wire.  You can see the complete list of books here. That list shows 51 books, that is I am not sure whether to include Life of Pi. I read it 2 years ago and reread for book club. I got new insights out of it as I often do when I reread books, so I added it to the list. I also didn’t include the TON of reading material I read for University, that wasn’t for fun it was for marks which is fun in a different way, so that didn’t count either.

I decided to reflect back on my year of reading, trying out new genres and exploring topics that had been difficult for me in the past. I picked most of  these books because someone else read it and said, you might like it. Mostly it was true. If  i started a book and hated it, i stopped reading it. 50 books was a lot to get through and I wanted to enjoy my reading, after all this was suppose to be fun! This was a huge year for risk taking when it came to books and it paid off in droves! Here you have it, the Edmonton Tourist’s Top 11 books she read in 2012.

My favorite books I read in 2012

  1. Book of Negroes by  Lawrence Hill. Yes it is an older book, yes it won the Canada Reads award, yes it shamed me as a human and Canadian. But the story was captivating and engrossing. I couldn’t put it down. This should be required reading in every high school on the planet. I missed her when I finished the book. She was remarkable.
  2. Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Maybe I loved this because of where I was at the moment in my life but it struck a chord with me. It was my Eat, Love Pray of 2012. I want to read it every year to see if I learn new insights from it.
  3. 11/22/63 by Stephen King. This was and is the only book I have read by him. I will admit to being scared of him. I have seen some of his movies and I don’t like feeling scared, but something about this book called to me. First of all it wasn’t scary! Secondly it had an element that lots of people think about, myself included, the chance to go back in time and fix a wrong that you did. Sadly there would be consequences  I loved this book, but it was loooooooooooong. Not a quick read.
  4. Room by Emma Donoghue. This is not for the faint of heart. It was told through the eyes of a 5 year old boy and that made it seem less horrific because he didn’t really understand what he was seeing. A college girl is kidnapped and made to be a sex-slave for a creepy old guy and she is kept in ROOM. It made me think about how young children see their world and how they deal with pain and abuse.
  5. A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron. A book club pal recommended this to me. It is from the perspective of a dog who reincarnates into several lives looking for his purpose. He takes the lessons learned into the next life. Brilliant book, I loved it. It was heart warming and not sad.
  6. The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings. Better than the movie, although I thought the movie was great. I loved this man’s journey to discover what was truly important to him. The fact that I could vividly picture my future ex-husband George as the main character only broke my heart. I love how his relationship with his girls builds throughout the book. There is nothing sexier than a great dad.
  7. The Unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. It was long listed for the Booker Prize and I heard about this from Laurie Greenwood on CBC Radio. I liked this book as it played like a movie in my head, but it wasn’t until the end when you find out what it meant, then looking back over the book made it brilliant.
  8. Me before You by Jojo Moyes. I have figured this for some Chicklit fluff. Was I wrong! It had me torn in pieces thinking about the moral dilemma  Loved the two main characters. Great read!
  9. Gone girl by Gillian Flynn. I had never ventured into mystery before, or a mystery like this one. I often found my jaw hanging open in shock and awe. I may have found a new genre I like!
  10. Shop Girl by Steve Martin. I like his writing style. His other books were not as good as this one. I like how he captured the female character. I think it is hard for a man to write about females, I find them often unbelievable but I liked her.
  11. A Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan. This was almost poetry and made me feel pretty. Lots of memorable lines and something I could really relate to. Heartbreak transcends gender.

It was hard to narrow it down to 11 but I found some authors who I will read again, I quite like Diane Chamberlain and Jennifer Weiner both new to me. And I had the pleasure of reading Maeve Binchy’s last book. She is my favorite author and of late her books had left me flat, I was not like the Father Flynn series at all. But a Week in Winter brought in new characters and was as lovely as Even Class. I shall miss her.

As for next year? I am setting a goal of 20 books. This time I am going to explore fantasy. This is something that doesn’t interest me much but people yap on and on about it. Can’t say I hate something if I don’t give it an honest chance. I find it hard to wrap my head around weird names and bizarre settings. I like Sci-Fi so maybe I need to re-examine Fantasy, and by Fantasy I don’t mean that crappy 50 shades series. There is 2 days I will never get back.

So tell me, what is on your list for 2013? What is the first book you will be reading?

50/50 Me: Update 38 books

 

Well…it’s been a while since I have updated this project of mine. I think it was somewhere around May 20th. I think it was Never let me Go. I have read 16 books since then and you can find out what they were by checking out THIS page.  I ave read some outstanding books this year and I have read crap. I do know what I think is crap, others think is fantastic. That is what I love about reading. Different books appeal to people in different ways. Isn’t that fantastic?

English: Open book icon
English: Open book icon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have a certain group of goodread friends who read with the same taste as me. I check out what they like, they check out my list and then we discover for every 1 book we finish we need to add 5 more to the list. It is frustrating. I just can’t seem to read fast enough. I am currently reading (almost finished) 419 – the 2012 Giller Prize winner. Know what? It is justified. This book is compelling and interesting and there are times I am GOBSMACKED at the stupidity. 419 is code for the Nigerian bank account scam. I actually know a person who gave their bank information and had their account wiped out. AND they were not seniors with limited faculties, they are a perfectly sane human who thought it was a good idea. It ruined him financially. It crippled his life and I doubt he will ever be the same. Just like the book is unfolding. Scary really…

I figured it was time to update my top favorite 5 books of the year so far. I hope to make it to 50 books by New Years Eve. I am not sure if I will make it, but I am trying. 50 books is a ton of reading. I went through the Wee Book Inn the other day. That is my favorite used book store on Whyte Avenue in Old Strathcona. I was looking at the books they were displaying and in my head all I could hear was ” read that, read that, read that, read that read that.” But do you think I could find the next book my book club is going to read? NO! I may have to pay full price because I am not good with the library book thing. I never return them on time and it creates bad karma. There are so many books I want to read I am having a hard time fitting them all in. But those of you who read the same types of books I do (good ones) then maybe this list might be helpful in choosing YOUR next book.

The Edmonton Tourist’s Top 5 favorite books in 2012 so far…

  1. 11/22/63 by Stephen King. It is a book about “what if”,altering the time line and saving Kennedy. Great read, weak ending.
  2. Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Probably not for everyone but the journey she took shook me and I could relate. Loved every moment of this book.
  3. Me Before You by JoJo Moyes. So unexpectedly great and moving.
  4. The Book of Negroes by Lawernce Hill. Every human should read this.
  5. The Decendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings. Maybe I loved it because of where I am in my life, but it was way better than the movie and I liked the movie too.

Choosing 5 is hard, I need to give honorable mention to The art of Racing in the Rain and A Dog’s Purpose. Both of those surprised me and charmed me…yes I cried too but the endings were perfect.

50/50 me is also about movies but I have reached that target long ago and stopped keeping track. I am well over 80 by now, perhaps more.

So that is what I am reading. Follow me on goodreads if you want to read my reviews of all the books I have read or challenge me on books you think I should read. Click on the goodreads button to the right, it will lead you to me. Or just tell me what you are reading! Should I read it too?

 

Fifty Fifty Me: The Shadow Wife

So I missed a week of 50/50 me. Reading The Management of Nonprofit and Charitable Organizations in Canada by Vic Murray and Effectively Managing Human Services Organizations by Ralph Brody apparently don’t count. I don’t find it dry reading, I quite enjoy it and find it enlightening. However, it doesn’t fit the criteria for the challenge. First of all, you need to read it cover to cover – who does that with text books? Secondly, these aren’t the books I read for fun. They are work. Fun is different. Although making the effort to expand my genre exploration hasn’t always been fun. Science Fiction isn’t very fun for me, nor is fantasy. I need to put effort into it so I am able to follow the story line. My preference is the ability to be LOST in a book. When I say LOST, I mean the story sweeps me away and I can’t wait to spend time with the characters. I do not mean LOST as in “WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON?”Hello Lord of the Rings…

The book I read this week brought me back to my favorite genre. I love family relationship stories. I love a strong female lead. I love reading about places with such detail that I figure I could go there on vacation and find my way around.

I watched 6 movies over the past 2 weeks… I know 6!!! When I was suppose to be sleeping or writing papers. I no longer watch TV, I just don’t have the attention span for interest right now. But a movie? Now that is something I like to get lost in. But enough with the musings… let’s get on with it shall we?

The Book

The Shadow Wife by Diane Chamberlain was gobbled up by me in a couple of days. I read it over lunch at work and every spare moment at home. I was reading reviews on Goodreads by my friends and discovered this author through them. They love her…I can see why. This book was about two main characters intertwined through separate stories. They meet and their story connects. I became very involved in one story, then it stopped and started with the second character’s story. It would frustrate me because I never wanted to end and pick up the next story line. This is common for the books I prefer to read. Maeve Binchy is a master at it character development. I devour strong character building.

This story began with The lead’s parents in a commune in Big Sur. It reminded at first of a Barbara Delinsky novel called the Coast Road (also a good read). I like the whole hippy concept except the filth part, and the camping life part, and the lack of wealth part…okay in THEORY I like hippies, but I like to read about them and have coffee with them and learn about their life. I do not wish to be a hippy. Been there, done that to the best of my ability. I can peel logs, can food, grow food, identify edible plants in the wild, fish, and build a fire without the use of paper or fire starter. Trust me, I’d rather read about these adventures the relive them myself.

As this baby of the hippies grew up, her life changed into what I can identify with professionally. There was a twist at the end that blew my head off. The entire time I was reading this book I was thinking I like this book a lot, not sure I love it. By the end, with me not seeing the twist coming, I LOVED this book! I knew this writer always places twists into her books but there was no hint of it in this. I loved that – and now have ruined it for everyone because I am awesome like that.

When I read the twist, I was at work in the lunch room and yelled out “NO WAY!” That to me is the sign of a fun read. What more can you ask for? Surprise, independent strong females, family legacy, and beautiful scenery? Great summertime read!

This week  am tackling Oprah’s new book club – that’s right people she is back with an on-line book club! Wild by Cheryl Strayed. This book is uncomfortable for me at times. It is very relevant to me, but I am enjoying it immensely! I will let you know how it goes. This book places me halfway to the challenge of 50 books in a year. YAY! I have loved this challenge! It has brough me out of my comfort zone and into books I love. I never would have read Stephen King, The Room, or a multitude of other genres and storylines that have scared me in the past.

The Movie

I watched these movies over the past two weeks :

  1. Avengers
  2. Factory Girl
  3. Being Elmo
  4. Every Little Step
  5. Schindler’s List
  6. If Lucy Fell

Factory Girl was about Andy Warhol’s iconic Factory girl and the person she was in real life. All this movie did for me was make me see what a wingnut Warhol was and wondered how he paid for things. I love his art, but wow…

If Lucy Fell was an old school Sarah Jessica Parker movie – Boring….

Every little Step was a documentary of  the Chorus Line revival. I loved this. Pain, rejection, excitement all rolled into one. I have always fantasized about being on Broadway but I don’t have the strength it takes (nor the talent) to face rejection on a daily basis. Wow these people are amazing!

Being Elmo… Behind the scenes of being a Muppeteer? Are you freaking kidding me??? THIS WAS AMAZING and I cried. I loved seeing the Jim Henson Empire. I will watch this documentary over and over.

Schindler’s list. I was the only person left in the world who hadn’t seen this. It is now part of the Grade 12 curriculum in Alberta’s High Schools. Wow what a powerful movie. I found it interesting how he made enough money to save these people and then just before the war ended, so did the money. Divine intervention obviously played a hand.  4000 Jews live in Poland now, but 4 generations of Schindler’s Jews make up over 6500. Doing the right thing is never easy, but so important. If you haven’t watched this – you must. AND I can cross it off my 100 AFI list!

Then my favorite movie of the year. It is no surprise people. you all know how much I love superheroes and fancy myself as one. The Avengers was FREAKING AWESOME! Is it out on Blu-ray yet? I want it for Christmas Santa!! Please do yourself a favor, watch all the other movies first. This will help with the maximized enjoyment of the Avenger movie. Stan Lee I heart you.

This week movies? I have no idea. I have watched 42 on the year. I am in the mood for Brave but that isn’t until the 22. I want to see something that will make me laugh. Life has been hard this week, so laughter is in order!

Suggestions?

I know stuff because I’m old

I am the fountain of useless knowledge. Jealous? You should be! I could beat a fair number of you in a Trivial Pursuit game. Give it a twist and add hockey and Disney and you would be toast. The older I get the more brilliantly trivial I get. And I don’t mean that in a good way.

I was sitting at lunch the other day and got into a discussion about Greek Mythology. I spouted off facts about blood spouting from the neck of Medusa when Perseus was beheading her and Pegasus and Chrysador emerged. I suppose it wasn’t a discussion so much as me explaining what happened. My partner looked at me and burst into fits of laughter… “who knows that stuff?” she said through tears of laughter. “Apparently I do”. I owe this to my bucket list called 50 in 50. I wanted to read Greek Mythology and did. It isn’t as interesting as the way it is described in the Percy Jackson series, I recommend that version instead.

Another day we pulled the DVD/VCR combo into the classroom so we could watch a movie based on a story we were learning about that week. My other partner popped the VHS tape into the VCR and rewound it while the movie was shown on the screen. I said press Stop, then Rewind it is much faster. She looked at me like I was a nut bar and then said, I do not understand this thing. WHAT?!?! You can’t work a VCR? Apparently this was another tidbit of knowledge I knew that no one else did.

Yesterday we were discussing the various types of Ski Lodges around the city and why they were different. Well, on was in a Provincial Park, so there was grant money for that one. That is why it is a nice facility. There is another one that is run by the City of Edmonton, so upkeep is based on parks and rec dollars. Then there is the privately owned ones. Having worked in the Ski industry while I was in high school, I knew that it cost a fortune to run a facility and not a lot of money was to be made especially if it was a particularly cold year or dry year. My partners looked at me again with a stunned gaze as if to say “you know a whole lot about nuttin!” I guess you could compare me to George Kostanza.

Then there are those conversations where people at the lunch table are discussing things of their childhood, like Strawberry Shortcake dolls, TMNT, and Cabbage Patch Kids. I look at them and they say, you remember those. Well sure I do, but normally the students I taught played with those, not me. Then they laugh and say you aren’t THAT old. Hmmm wanna bet? I was born in the ’60’s. The look on one of the gals faces was priceless. “SHUT UP!” “No” I said, “It is true”. Apparently I am  a couple of years younger than her mom. Only I don’t seem old. Wow, Thanks?

I am not old, I am middle aged. I am old enough to be the granny of all my students. I said that to one of them and she said, my grandma is old you aren’t. Cool, when a 5 year old says you are not old, then it’s all good!

I am currently reading Stephen King’s 11/22/63. The concept is pretty cool. It is about traveling back in time, changing an event and witnessing a different outcome. The problem being, each time you go back you start back at zero. You undo all the things that were previously done. Cool concept. I particularly liked how the main character talked about the taste and smells of things from the past. Rootbeer being full flavored.Yum!

I remember things tasting …more or smelling…more I think it has a lot to do with preservatives and chemicals altering our bodies and the food we ingest. I don’t think going back in time means to a simpler time, it was just different. Having a head full of useless knowledge would make it more interesting. Betting on sports events, stocks or even being at the right place at the right time for a change.

I think about what I would to change things in my life and perhaps history itself. The nifty part being, if I don’t like the outcome I could just pop back and grab a coke in a glass bottle and call it a day. Things would be right as rain again. So what would I do? Where would I be?

A girl friend of mine in high school went to Boston to go to college. That sounds good! Another friend spent a year in Italy, wow that sounds good too! I think I would not work at the ski hill in high school, then I would NOT meet a certain idiot stick. Then I would want to go to a proper University right off the bat. I would love to go away to school. My cousin went to Scotland for University for one year. I would choose New York. Then see what happens. How cool would it have been to be there for Mark Messier winning the cup? Too fabulous to even think about. Get my business degree in human resources and work for Tiffany & Co on 5th avenue? Yes Please! Okay, that is what I would do and live of the avails of gambling on sports teams to finance my whimsy. Useless knowledge could be a financial boon for me.  If it sucked? I would just come back. How could it suck? Diamonds, New York, Mark Messier… it’s all good.

Being old has it’s advantages. It also gives me the hindsight to know if I had done those things, then the offspring wouldn’t have a change to do these things