Note about my Reviews

Dear Authors: The reviews in this blog are only personal opinions. I have absolutely no background in literature, writing or reviewing. I am a Librarian (actually a Library Technician for those who care OR know the difference) with a love for a good story. The opinions in the reviews are ONLY my OPINIONS. I am not commenting on the writers ability since well -- I am not a writer and never will be. If you are the author of any of the books reviewed here, my opinion is just that and not a judgment against you!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in our Stars
by John Green
Suggested Ages: 13+
Dutton Books (Penguin Books)
Buy from Indigo

Description: Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind

The Good Stuff
  • Damn you Green, you kept me up till 1:30 am and my eyes were still bloodshot in the morning from crying
  • Realistic teens and I know its very hard to believe for a YA book but the parents are not assholes -- I know so very rare
  • Brilliant dark humour thrown in exactly where it is needed 
  • If you don't love these characters there is something seriously wrong with you
  • Tough read as a Mom - cannot even imagine watching my child die
  • Hazel is tough and funny and caring and well quite frankly someone to admire
  • Hopeful - I know that sounds weird, but there is just something hopeful and reaffirming about the whole story
  • Never saccharine or unrealistic
  • Hate writing reviews for books I loved because I feel like I cannot express the right words to convey their brilliance
  • Will be buying the rest of Green's books with my next paycheck
  • Even the secondary characters are well developed
  • Could not put it down - even-though I knew someone might not make it and it deals with kids suffering and have hard time reading that sort of story 
  • Everything just flows perfectly 

The Not So Good Stuff
  • Did I mention how red my eyes were when I woke up the next day
Favorite Quotes/Passages

" I hated hurting him.  Most of the time I could forget about it, but the inexorable truth is this. They might be glad to have me around, but I was the alpha and omega of my parent's suffering."

"That's why I like you. Do you realize how rare it is to come across a hot girl who creates an adjectival version of the word pedophile? You are so busy being you that you have no idea how  utterly unprecedented you are?"

"Our city has a rich history, even though many tourists are only wanting to see the Red Light District" He paused. "Some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth it is a city of freedom. And in freedom, most people find sin."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • This one is pretty much for everyone.  There is a sex scene but it is tasteful - just an FYI in terms of audience
  • Tough read for parents especially those whose children have had/have cancer

5 Dewey's

I received a copy of this at the Children's Breakfast at BEA 2012

Mom and Me Mondays: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit
by J.R.R. Tolkien
ISBN: 9780618260300
Buy from Indigo 

Description: A great modern classic and the prelude to The Lord of the Rings

Smaug certainly looked fast asleep, when Bilbo peeped once more from the entrance. He was just about to step out onto the floor when he caught a sudden thin ray of red from under the drooping lid of Smaug's left eye. He was only pretending to be asleep! He was watching the tunnel entrance...

Whisked away from his comfortable, unambitious life in his hobbit-hole in Bag End by Gandalf the wizard and a company of dwarves,Bilbo finds himself caught up in a plot to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon. Although quite reluctant to take part in this quest, Bilbo surprises even himself by his resourcefulness and his skill as a burglar!

Written for J.R.R. Tolkien's own children, The Hobbit met with instant success when published in 1937.

Jake's Review:  Would have been higher rating but the man just had way too much detail and his sentences were like 500 words long.  Liked that the characters from the Lord of the Rings (e.g. Gandalf, Elrond, etc) were in the Hobbit. I watched The Lord of the Rings trilogy with my parents so I was familiar with many of the characters.  I like the fantasy of the story with all the made up creatures and places.  My favorite character was Bilbo because even though he was a wimpy, lazy guy he became brave and fought creatures bigger and stronger than he was.  Gollum is one serious creepy dude (and Mom thinks she can do a Gollum voice but she can't - please make her stop)  I think Aidan would really like this one.

Jake's Rating: 8/10

Mom's Review: Jake and I decided to read this one together - in other words - I read a chapter out loud to him every night for almost a month.  An absolutely delightful fantasy tale that I highly recommend everyone to read. That being said -- oh my god -- Tolkien is the "King" of the run on sentence. Reading it aloud was excruciating at times,  I never knew when to breathe.  Not to mention the shear amount of times he went off topic. It truly drove me nuts at times.  It took us a while to get into it but about a quarter of a way in we were hooked and couldn't wait to read it each night.  The dialogue between Bilbo and Smog was worth each and every run on sentence.  The sheer amount of creativity put into this story is awe inspiring!!! Will be interesting to see what they do with the movies.  Best part was reading it with Jake every night, a truly wonderful bonding experience. 

Mom's Rating: 8.5/10

I borrowed my husband's copy to read aloud to Jake.  Yup he actually read a book once and liked it

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden
by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Wordsworth Edition
ISBN: 978-1-85326-104-6
Buy from Indigo

Description: Mary Lennox was horrid. Selfish and spoilt, she was sent to stay with her hunchback uncle in Yorkshire. She hated it.

But when she finds the way into a secret garden and begins to tend it, a change comes over her and her life. She meets and befriends a local boy, the talented Dickon, and comes across her sickly cousin Colin who had been kept hidden from her. Between them, the three children work astonishing magic in themselves and those around them.

Mini Book Review: I was disappointed when I first started the book as I heard so many fabulous things about this classic.  I almost gave up after about 30 pages as it was hard to read about a child who was just utterly unlikeable (and yes I can see how she bacame that way) But than something happened about 45 pages in I started falling in love with her and wanted to know more.  Such a charming, beautiful story and I now know why so many people list this as one of their favorite stories.  Since I have to get 3 reviews done by New Years Eve (Tomorrow) this is going to be a quickie review.  Fabulous character development and wonderful use of setting. You felt like you knew these characters and let me tell you the whole time I was reading, I also imagined that I was on the moors with the children.  As a child this would be a truly marvelous read. As an adult my only negative comments would be that some might stop reading because at the beginning Mary is so unlikeable.  Also the ending is a tad saccharine and predictable  - but I really didn't mind that as I am a big softie. To put it simply it is a lovely sweet innocent tale of the importance of play, good fresh air and the power of imagination.

4.5 Dewey's

I purchased this at the Indigo at the Eaton Centre for my BBC 100 Top Books Challenge (Yeah I totally failed I only finished 2 of the 5 I was going to review - but hey I moved across the country and became at stay at home mom)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Released: The Shapeshifters' Library by Amber Polo

Released (The Shapeshifters' Library #1)
by Amber Polo
Blue Merle Publishing
ISBN: 978-0977-329663

Description: Love dogs? Love books? Love libraries? Hate Book-burning werewolves? Once long ago the Shipsfeather Academy was a training ground for an ancient race of dog-shifters whose mission was to protect the world’s knowledge. A powerful curse sealed these librarians in the basement of their building and gave the control of the town to a pack of book-burning werewolves.

Librarian Liberty Cutter watches in horror as the town’s public library goes up in flames and plans to re-establish the library in the abandoned Shipsfeather Academy building. Chronus, the Old English Sheepdog headmaster of the academy and leader of the dog-shifters, knows he must make some changes to continue to keep his pack safe. But even if he could persuade Liberty to believe in a talking sheepdog, how far can she be trusted? And will she ever be able to care for him as a man. He has to try, because Liberty Cutter and her staff of zany librarians may hold the key to the dog-shifters’ freedom…and the future of the town

Review:  A delightfully sweet simple urban fantasy story perfect for the those in the library field.  This is one that will appeal to the more mature reader who doesn't enjoy too much sex or violence which is something you don't see to much in the urban fantasy genre.  There is definitely a market for this type of story.  There is nothing wrong with the story it just wasn't my particular cup of tea, guess I am just too jaded. The story moves quickly and the characters are quirky.  My big complaint with the story that it was just too centered on the library world.  The constant mentions of "Thank Dewey" and "For the love of LC" or the mentioning of actual dewey decimal classifications #'s to describe something,  just became very irritating after a while. Once or twice would have been delightful and a nice sly wink to us library folk, but it was just too much of a good thing.  Also I felt at time like I was being preached too about certain topics.  And I know its a silly thing but the fact that all werewolves were evil book burners (ok anyone who burns books is evil) and all the dogs were good - just seemed a little too black and white for me.  Again this is just based on what I like and nothing against the author. Goodness know as you can tell by this review I have absolute no real handle of the English language.
Favorite Quote

"You mean every cranky, indolent, and downright nasty person who works in a library is a werewolf? That teacher in library school who turned every concept into an equation, the student assistant who mis-shelved the most popular books on purpose, and catologers who create obscure subject headings? Bureaucrats who cut library budgets and hours?  Parents who object to books containing any idea not already in their own heads?"

3 Dewey's

I received this from the author in exchange for an honest review.  Sorry Amber, have to be honest and review has nothing to do with your talent, just my particular enjoyment of the story

Reached by Ally Condie

by Ally Condie
Dutton Books (Penguin)
ISBN: 978-0-525-42366-9
Suggested Ages: 12+
Buy from Indigo

Description: After leaving Society and desperately searching for the Rising—and each other—Cassia and Ky have found what they were looking for, but at the cost of losing each other yet again: Cassia has been assigned to work for the Rising from within Society, while Ky has been stationed outside its borders. But nothing is as predicted, and all too soon the veil lifts and things shift once again.

The Good Stuff
  • Nice hopeful realistic ending
  • Condie has a gift for the prose, very poetic
  • Fascinating world building
  • Characters develop maturely
  • Loved how the two boys didn't try to one up each other or fight each other for Cassia - very refreshing
  • I'm sorry I really, really wanted to love this book but I just basically found it meh - like she had to flesh out a two story book into three due to a contract - but her writing is truly beautiful and she is fabulous at character development
The Not So Good Stuff
  • I expected better - but after finishing I felt that this series might have been far better as only a two book series
  • Now its been a long time since I read Crossed, but found myself on many occasions being a little bit confused by what was going on  (maybe should have reread series again)
  • Many things happen way too conveniently 
Favorite Quote/Passages

"So don't worry if you don't hear from me as often. I'll find my way to you as soon as I can. I have a plan. Ky, I know that you 're going to want to come find me, that you're going to want to save me. But I need you to trust me to save myself."

"She tries to explain. "What I'm trying to say is that you've found your way home. You were born to help people, and you'll find a way to do that, no matter where you are. Just like the redfish are born to find their way back from the ocean."

"They are in all of us. I believe this. That every person might have a way to fly, a line of poetry to put down for others to see, a hand to heal."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Strictly for those who have read the first two books

3.75 Dewey's

I purchased this at Chapters Shawnessy as I had read the first two books in the trilogy and NEEDED to know what happened

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Lipstick and Bangs

Lipstick and Bangs
by Colleen McKie
Fierce Ink Press
ISBN: 9780988106796
Buy from Smashwords

Description: Colleen McKie brings readers back to her high school days in the early 90s with Lipstick and Bangs. It was a time of change in which she began to diverge from the interests of her lifelong friends to become an alt rock music girl with a bookish affinity for Stephen King.

Lipstick and Bangs is the true story of navigating identity at an age when everything is weighed against the pressures of friendships and boys.

In the crush or be crushed world of teen dating, can she be true to herself when she’s unsure of who that person really is?

The Good Stuff
  •  The words flow so smoothly and easily you feel you are there
  • Raw and honest & reminds me so much  of my own life
  • Got a kick out of when Todd says he's going out to Banff to work in a resort - as in the early 80's that is exactly what my hubby Jeff did (at the Banff Springs hotel)
  • Relevant message about being yourself & having the courage to be different
  • Canadian author
  • admire those who write so openly and honestly about their painful memories
  • Proceeds of sales go to charity
  • Not a fan of short stories, but I enjoyed
The Not So Good Stuff
  • Too short -- yeah I know  short story - I get it, I just always want more
Favorite Quote

" He told Mike you were kinda cool. You know, in a geeky way.
In a geeky way? Oh, how nice. I'm sure my sarcasm was lost on Trina.  He might have well has said I had a great personality."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  •  Perfect for any one who is or ever was in high school
  • For us girls who were just a little bit different
4 Dewey's

I received this from Fierce Ink Press in exchange for an honest review

Monday, December 10, 2012

Love You Like Suicide by Jo Treggiari

Love You Like Suicide 
by Jo Treggiari
Fierce Ink Press Co-Op
Buy from Fierce Ink Press 

Description: Set against the backdrop of the 1980s California punk scene, Love You Like Suicide explores the dark side of growing up. Author Jo Treggiari writes frankly about a period in her youth when she was addicted to drugs and living in a derelict neighbourhood.

After a near-fatal accident, Jo is determined to clean up and start a fresh, new life. But there's one thing she can't leave behind: a tender friendship, on the brink of being lost forever.

Love You Like Suicide is a gritty, true account of an adolescent who struggles against the odds to make a better life for herself

The Good Stuff
  • Heartbreaking, raw and honest
  • Takes courage to write about such a dark period 
  • Not a word wasted, story is quick and to the point - a slice of life type story which are always intriguing
  • Gifted writer - has a unique writing style that may not appeal to all, but it is fresh and real
  • Author is Canadian - Yeah I know but I am Canadian and its important to me
  • Gives you insight into someone fighting an addiction and wanting something better for themselves
  • Love the opening paragraph, it hooked me in right away
  • Some of the proceeds from the sale go to charity - makes a do gooder like me happy

The Not So Good Stuff
  • Won't lie, not much of a short story lover, as I think I always just want more, so I always get frustrated when it just ends (It's not you Jo - it's me)
  • Hard to read stories about a world I have no understanding of - it is very dark
Favorite Quote

"How should I write this?
In third person so it becomes just a story?
In second so that you can pretend you were there too?
In first, so that I can drown in a tidal wave of sorrow, sink under the weight of it, remember what it feels like to be utterly lost?
First person it is."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Perfect for those looking for something dark and gritty and honest
  • Not for those looking for a fast paced or light story -- this has heart

3.75 Dewey's

I was sent an ecopy for an honest review from Fierce Ink Press

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Age of Hope by David Bergen: Mini book review

The Age of Hope
by David Bergen
ISBN: 978-1-44341-135-6
Buy from Indigo

Description: Born in 1930 in a small town outside Winnipeg, beautiful Hope Koop appears destined to have a conventional life. Church, marriage to a steady young man, children - her fortunes are already laid out for her, as are the shiny modern appliances in her new home. All she has to do is stay with Roy, who loves her. But as the decades unfold, what seems to be a safe, predictable existence overwhelms Hope. Where - among the demands of her children, the expectations of her husband and the challenges of her best friend, Emily, who has just read The Feminine Mystique - is there room for her? And just who is she anyway? A wife, a mother, a woman whose life is somehow unrealized?

Mini Book Review:  It's always hard to write a review for a book that you just couldn't get into even-though you appreciate the talents of the author. I don't want to turn people off of the book, but at the same time I cannot lie and say I loved it. Beautifully written, which kept me reading even-though I wasn't really enjoying Hope's story. I just found her wishy washy and the storyline just left me feeling depressed.  I also think I had a problem with it because it was based in Winnipeg & just brought back memories of High School English. Which also makes me feel as stupid as I did back than trying to figure out why someone was interested in reading about some women who survives through it all.  I do that everyday, I'm a survivor, but I don't want to read about women like me.  I'm just a simple girl and need something more than a character study, I want adventure or at least to learn something.   He's an extremely gifted writer and I think this will be a big hit.  But as I said before, it's just not my thing.  Mr Bergen you are a talented writer with a true insight into the human psyche and I applaud you for that

3 Dewey's (Based on my enjoyment not on the talents of the author)

I received this at the HarperCollins Indigo Insiders event & didn't have to review

Mrs Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn

Mrs Queen Takes the Train
by William Kuhn
ISBN: 978-0-06-220828-6
Buy from Indigo

Description: After decades of service and years of watching her family's troubles splashed across the tabloids, Britain's Queen is beginning to feel her age. She needs some proper cheering up. An unexpected opportunity offers her relief: an impromptu visit to a place that holds happy memories--the former royal yacht, "Britannia," now moored near Edinburgh. Hidden beneath a skull-emblazoned hoodie, the limber Elizabeth (thank goodness for yoga) walks out of Buckingham Palace into the freedom of a rainy London day and heads for King's Cross to catch a train to Scotland. But a characterful cast of royal attendants has discovered her missing. In uneasy alliance a lady-in-waiting, a butler, an equerry, a girl from the stables, a dresser, and a clerk from the shop that supplies Her Majesty's cheese set out to find her and bring her back before her absence becomes a national scandal.

The Good Stuff
  • Delightfully odd and uniquely refreshing
  • Richly developed unusual characters who feel very real
  • Makes you realize that the Queen is a living human being and not just a figure head (yes this is a fictionalized version of the Queen - but still)
  • Discusses race & class differences but in a non preachy in your face sort of way - almost light and playful - but at the same time makes you see the absurdity of judging someone based on race or class (Hope that makes sense probably should have taken the cold medicine AFTER I finished this review)
  • Adored the character of Rajiv and found his back story intriguing - don't want to put any spoilers but his interactions with other characters in terms of his race are funny yet sad and true
  • The Queen's journey is that of most women dealing with mid life crisis & depression and the age old question of "Did I do any good in this life?"
  • Found myself wondering actually how the Queen feels and what makes her happy
  • Actually learned a few things about the inner workings of the Royal Household
  • A wonderful healing journey
  • Within characters various discussions they discuss frankly serious issues such as homosexuality, post-traumatic stress and depression - again never done in a preachy way, just matter of fact and out in the open

The Not So Good Stuff
  • Jumps around a lot which I found quite disconcerting -- but hey I was also very sick while reading -- so take that with a grain of salt
  • Felt the yoga bits didn't really work - that they were just thrown in to make it even quirkier - but hey it could be that I just couldn't imagine H.R.H. actually doing a child's pose
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"She recalled with shame how little she'd taken it seriously when Diana Wales was suffering from depression. None of them had. In her depression was only something that soldiers returning from battle suffered, 'shell shock' yes, but everyone felt dejected every now and again. You didn't take medicine for it. You pulled up your socks. Went for a walk. The whole Diana business had taught her that depression was an illness and that there were drugs that would help if it didn't lift after a month or two of feeling unhappy."

"This time it was Anne's turn to shoot Luke a resentful glance.  He was after all a young man of about her nephew's age,  and sometimes she wondered whether all young men weren't in league against all old ladies. Young men hadn't looked at her on the street for a long time and she still minded."

"Now he'd inherited the earldom and was old enough to stand in the pulpit, he thought he could give her a lecture in how to behave. That was gratitude for you. Had she the power, she certainly would have thrown him in the Tower at that moment. But no, she was quite powerless, she had to do as she was told."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Wonderful book for a book club.  Would lead to fabulous discussions on the Monarchy, Depression, public figures, fame, racism & class
  • Would definitely appeal to those fascinated by the British Monarchy
  • Keeping my copy for when my Mother-in-Law comes to visit as I think she would really enjoy this one
4.5/5 Dewey's

I received this from HarperCollins as part of our Indigo Insiders program & am in no way required to review

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Peculiar by Stefan Bachman - Mini Book Review

The Peculiar
by Stefan Bachmann
Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins)
Suggested Ages: 9+
Buy from Indigo

Description: Don't get yourself noticed and you won't get yourself hanged.  In the faery slums of Bath, Bartholomew Kettle and his sister Hettie live by these words. Bartholomew and Hettie are changelings--Peculiars--and neither faeries nor humans want anything to do with them.

One day a mysterious lady in a plum-colored dress comes gliding down Old Crow Alley. Bartholomew watches her through his window. Who is she? What does she want? And when Bartholomew witnesses the lady whisking away, in a whirling ring of feathers, the boy who lives across the alley--Bartholomew forgets the rules and gets himself noticed.

First he's noticed by the lady in plum herself, then by something darkly magical and mysterious, by Jack Box and the Raggedy Man, by the powerful Mr. Lickerish . . . and by Arthur Jelliby, a young man trying to slip through the world unnoticed, too, and who, against all odds, offers Bartholomew friendship and a way to belong.

Mini Book Review: Delightfully twisted & morbid fairy tale mixed with an almost steampunk vibe.  Was flabbergasted that this was written when the author was only 16. Seriously, I could barely get my homework done at that age, let alone write such a brilliant tale.  I was hooked in from the opening paragraph of this story with its vivid imagery and eccentric characters. The story does drag a wee bit about a third of the way through the story but it does pick up quickly. Lots of fascinating characters and an intriguing storyline that will keep you hooked to the end of the tale.  Love to see characters (Mr Jelliby) who are ordinary and relatively wimpy, do extraordinary and brave things.   The ending almost killed me though with its cliffhanger especially since I have no idea how long it will be till the next story comes out.  Hope this makes sense, I am home sick, and even less articulate than normal. Highly recommend this for the middle grade reader who is a little more sophisticated in his reading tastes. 

Favorite Quotes

``A murmur passed through the gathering. Mr. Jelliby squirmed. Oh, not murder, Why couldn`t people simply be nice to each other.``

``You are so alike really, you English and the faeries. So desperately far on either side that you can`t see anything in between. Ah, well. I`ll not talk. This part of London, nobody talks but the face on the coin, and as I said, it`s none of my business.``

``Bartholomew almost belonged here in this strange place. He could do the same things everyone else did, and no one would drag him off for it. No one would even notice him. For once in his life it wasn`t he who was peculiar.``

Who Should or Shouldn`t Read
  • Definitely for fans of the Leviathan series
  • Would recommend for the more mature middle grade reader  - Librarians make sure you pick just the right reader for this - this isn`t for everyone
4.25 Dewey`s

Simrit lent me a copy of this as she thought I would enjoy it

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Stardust (Gift Edition)
by Neil Gaiman
by William Morrow (HarperCollins)
ISBN: 978-0-06-220039-6
Buy from Indigo

Description: This special gift edition is beautifully packaged in a smaller trim size with a one-piece fine cloth case, a gold-stamped cover, and a whimsical interior design, featuring a frontispiece illustration and line chapter opener ornamentation by noted artist Charles Vess. It also contains an introductory note by Neil Gaiman.

Tristran Thorn will do anything to win the cold heart of beautiful Victoria Forester?even fetch her the star they watch fall from the night sky. But to do so, he must enter the unexplored lands on the other side of the ancient wall that gives their tiny village its name. Beyond that stone barrier, Tristran learns, lies Faerie . . . and the most exhilarating adventure of the young man''s life.

The Good Stuff
  • A truly delightful and fun adventurous fairy tale (not for young kids though)
  • Wickedly funny
  • Fast paced
  • Kicking myself for never having read Gaiman before (Gasp - I know) - ok and I have never seen the movie either so yes I will be scouring the internet tomorrow to pick up a copy
  • love the format of this gift edition - looks beautiful on my bookshelf -- hmm wonder when he will come to visit Calgary so I can get it signed
  • Characters are unique & wonderfully odd
  • The wit is dry and cutting
  • Fabulous book for losing yourself in  - will be saving this one for Jake and Jesse (There be a wee bit of sex in it) to read in a couple of years
  • The opening paragraph hooked me in right away & it was extremely difficult to put down
  • The witty banter between Tristan and "the star" is snarky yet sweet
  • Usually not a huge fan of Fairies -- but like these fairies 
  • Yvaine (the star) is a truly intriguing character
 The Not So Good Stuff
  • Could have been longer and fleshed out more
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"She made a face to indicate just how old five-and-forty is, when you happen to be seventeen."

"They certainly were fine new clothes. While clothes do not, as the saying would sometimes have it, make the man, and fine feathers do not make fine birds, sometimes they can add a certain spice to a recipe. And Tristan Thorn in crimson and canary was not the same man that Tristan Thorn in his overcoat and Sunday suit had been.  There was a swagger in his steps, a jauntiness to his movements, that had not been there before."

"There is something about riding a unicorn, for those people who still can, which is unlike any other experience: exhilarating and intoxicating and fine."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read

  •  A truly perfect gift for a Gaiman fan or quite frankly any lover of adventure and fairy tales
  • Fans of The Princess Bride will thoroughly enjoy

4.75 Dewey's

I received this from William Morrow in exchange for an honest review

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Soup Sisters Sharon Hapton visit Chapters Shawnessy

Meet Sharon Hapton, editor of The Soup Sisters Cookbook, a scrumptious collection of recipes from the "souper volunteers" of the Calgary-based non-profit Soup Sisters, plus recipes from many of Canada's top celebrity chefs. Soup Sisters is a Calgary-based non-profit enterprise dedicated to making a difference to the lives of women and children in need. The perfect feel-good gift that keeps on giving. (From Indigo facebook page)

Chapters Shawnessy 
Wednesday November 28, 2012
7:00 PM  

16061 Macleod Trail S.E
Calgary, Alberta
T2Y 3S5

For more about Sharon and her wonderful charity - Check out

I'm working 6-9 that night too - come say Hi

Monday, November 26, 2012

Highly Inappropriate Tales for Young People by Douglas Coupland & Graham Roumiey

Highly Inappropriate Tales for Young People
Douglas Coupland & Graham Roumiey
Vintage Canada (Random House of Canada)
ISBN: 978-0-307-36067-0
Buy from Indigo

Description: In the grand tradition of Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies, Tim Burton's Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Hillaire Belloc's Cautionary Tales for Children, comes Douglas Coupland and Graham Roumieu's Highly Inappropriate Tales for Young People.

Ever wonder what would happen if Douglas Coupland's unhinged imagination met Graham Roumieu's insane knack for illustrating the ridiculously weird? The answer is seven deliciously wicked tales featuring seven highly improbable, not only inappropriate, characters, including Donald the Incredibly Hostile Juice Box, Hans the Weird Exchange Student, Brandon the Action Figure with Issues and Kevin the Hobo Minivan with Extremely Low Morals. If you are over the age of consent, seriously weird or just like to laugh, you'll love the unlovable miscreants who unleash their dark and unruly desires on every page of these unsuitable, completely hilarious tales.

The Good Stuff
  • Won't lie this book is way to cool and intelligent for me
  • Truly unique
  • Odd and disturbing yet snort out loud funny at times
  • Illustrations too are one or a kind
  • Have a feeling this will be loved by some, truly hated by others and for simple girls like me just meh and way over my head
  • Truly in the spirit of Grimm's Fairy Tales
  • Wonderfully imaginative- this is a man you never have to worry about being predictable
  • Dialogue of the characters is odd yet refreshingly honest
  • The zombie substitute teacher story was seriously funny
 The Not So Good Stuff
  • Expected so much better
  • Very small book for such a steep price - I know quality vs quantity but maybe it's just me
  • Sorry Coupland - just could not get into this -- don't worry its me not you -- I am more a simple in your face girl
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"The library front desk let him use the bathroom in exchange for guarding the property from grafitti taggers."

"Don't throw math in my face. I hate math. It's hard, it's stupid, and it;s nature's way of separating spinsters from women who end of breeding."

"More than once, in desperation, he tried luring senior citizens inside, but when he started his shakedown, they sounded like snapping pretzels, which creeped him out. And all they left behind were coupons, dentures and half-used packets of Sanka."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • only for those who enjoy the obscure and unique
  • you want something completely different, this one is for you
3 Dewey's

I received this from Random House in exchange for an honest review - sorry guys just not my thing I guess

Sutton by J.R. Moehringer

by J.R. Moehringer
ISBN: 978-1-4013-2314-1
Buy from Indigo

Description: Willie Sutton was born in the squalid Irish slums of Brooklyn, in the first year of the twentieth century, and came of age at a time when banks were out of control. If they weren't failing outright, causing countless Americans to lose their jobs and homes, they were being propped up with emergency bailouts. Trapped in a cycle of panics, depressions and soaring unemployment, Sutton saw only one way out, only one way to win the girl of his dreams.

So began the career of America's most successful bank robber. Over three decades Sutton became so good at breaking into banks, and such a master at breaking out of prisons, police called him one of the most dangerous men in New York, and the FBI put him on its first-ever Most Wanted List.

But the public rooted for Sutton. He never fired a shot, after all, and his victims were merely those bloodsucking banks. When he was finally caught for good in 1952, crowds surrounded the jail and chanted his name.

Blending vast research with vivid imagination, Pulitzer Prize winner J.R. Moehringer brings Willie Sutton blazing back to life. In Moehringer's retelling, it was more than poverty or rage at society that drove Sutton. It was one unforgettable woman. In all Sutton's crimes and confinements, his first love (and first accomplice) was never far from his thoughts. And when Sutton finally walked free - a surprise pardon on Christmas Eve, 1969 - he immediately set out to find her.

The Good Stuff
  •  Was completely enthralled with the story and with Wilie
  • Little hints throughout story grab you throughout the story and keeps you from wanting to put book down. Had a couple of late nights with this one - not to mention a couple of times I really didn't want to go back on the sales floor I was so engrossed
  • Makes you think about so many things - especially about nature vs nurture
  • How can you not love a bank robber who went out of his way not to kill people
  • Need to know more about Sutton -- think I will be looking into some of the research
  • Author obviously thoroughly researched Sutton 
  • Authentic & you feel like you are back in the era
  • The characters love of the written word is delightful and gives you another reason to be intrigued by him
  • The part with the psychiatrist really gives  you pause for thought
  • Get a real understanding of America during the depression
  • Delightfully dark and funny at time
  • I dare you not to fall in love with Willie and cheer him on - a moral quandary for sure, you know what he has done is wrong,  yet you can understand what brought him to this place and think maybe just maybe if you were in the same place, you to0 might make the same choices
  • An intriguing and unusual love story
  • O.K. - enough - it's also a Heather's Pick. I'm usually not the type of girl that goes for the Oprah picks or Globe and Mail lists and definitely not anything literary - but man I think Heather and I have similar tastes (If it wasn't already a Heather's Pick I would give it a JR staff pick)
  • Just go buy it - you will thank me
 The Not So Good Stuff
  • A wee bit slow moving at times
  • Still confused about one part (And damn you Moehringer - it just broke my heart if I get what happened)
Favorite Quotes/Passages 

"Because Sutton robbed banks, the TV reporter says, and who the hell has a kind word to say for banks? They should not only let him out, they should give him the key to the city."

"He invited death in with that suicide note. Once you let death in, it doesn't always leave."

"Oh kid, it's all about confidence. That's the whole game right there. Whatever you do, do it with your nuts.  That's how Ruth swung a bat - with his nuts. Rob a bank, date a girl, brush your teeth - whatever. Do it with boldness, with swagger, with nuts, or don't do it all." 

"A man is his job, kid, and I had no job, so I was a bum. A loser. America's a great place to be a winner, but it's hell on losers."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Not to be sexist or anything but this one will really appeal to men but at the same time most women will be as enthralled with the story as I was 
  • Perfect Christmas gift for pretty much everyone on your list -- there is something for pretty much everyone in this one
  • Not for those who need things clear cut and fast paced
  • One that you could give to both Non-Fiction and Fiction lovers 
4.5 Dewey's
Borrowed this one from our staff room library - basically a bunch of ARC's from publishers and we can borrow and pass around - another truly awesome part of my job

Friday, November 23, 2012

Chef Jeff Reviews: The Epicurious Cookbook

The Epicurious Cookbook
Tanya Steele & The Editors of Epicurious
Appetite (Random House)
ISBN: 978-0-449-01581-0
Buy from Indigo

Description: Epicurious is, undisputedly, the most respected website for people who like to cook. In their first-ever cookbook, the Epicurious editors have culled their extraordinary database of 180,000 recipes and selected their most popular recipes.

Organized seasonally and by meal type, The Epicurious Cookbook offers everything from 30-minute weeknight dinners to weekend warrior show-stoppers. Also included are comfort food favorites, small dishes perfect for parties and plenty of repertoire-building mains and sides, plus breakfasts, breads, and desserts. All new stunning four-color photography shows Epicurious at its most irresistible. Throughout are Epicurious member suggestions for tweaking recipes, ideas for menu planning, smart substitutions, and homespun recipes from dozens of Epicurious members newly tested for this cookbook. Recipes include:

Easy comfort foods: Chicken and Fall Vegetable Pot Pie, Beef Short Ribs Tagine, Spicy Mac and Cheese with Pancetta, Deviled Fried Chicken, Chili con Carne with Chili Cheddar Shortcakes

Fast Weeknight Dinners: Quick Paella, Wild Rice with Pecans, Raisin, and Orange Essence, Brussels Sprouts Hash with Caramelized Shallots, Rosemary Lamb Chops with Swiss Chard and Balsamic Syrup, Pan-Fried Spicy Orange Tilapia

Please-Everyone Vegetarian and Vegan Dishes: Chilled Soba with Tofu and Sugar Snap Peas, Spiced Lentil Tacos with Chipotle Sour Cream, Roasted Eggplant Salad

Special occasion show-stoppers: Tom Colicchio’s Herb-Butter Turkey, Beef Brisket with Merlot and Prunes, Wine-Braised Duck Legs

American Classics Updated—Burgers, Pizzas, Salads, Pastas, and Grilled Cheese: Coffee-Rubbed Cheeseburger with Texas Barbeque Sauce; Hearty Asparagus, Fingerling Potato, and Goat Cheese Pizza; Lobster Pasta in a Roasted Corn Sweet Bacon Cream; Grilled Cheese with Onion Jam, Taleggio, and Escarole

Breakfast and Brunch Stars: Extreme Granola with Dried Fruit, Kitchen Sink Frittata, Crème Brulee French Toast, and Ultimate Sticky Buns

Decadent Desserts: Double Layer Chocolate Cake, Apple Tart with Caramel Sauce, Frozen Lemon Ginger Snap Pie, Peanut Butter and Fudge Brownies with Salted Peanuts

Destined to be that classic you’ll turn to daily, The Epicurious Cookbook enhances the very best online content in a gorgeous cookbook

The Good Stuff
  • Incredible variety of recipes 
  • Lots of interesting & unusual combinations
  • Each recipe has comments from Epicurious users
  • Wife wants you to know the Index is fabulous
  • The banana bread recipe is the best we have ever used - Jen makes an excellent banana bread but this one is even better 
  • I didn't have time to make any of the recipes so Jen actually did all the cooking and baking -- she's getting better too
  • The pictures make the recipes look appetizing -- however there are very few pictures for such a large cookbook
  • I wasn't sure about Jen making the zuccini fritters but damn they were tasty
  • Everyone at Jen's work loved the two cookie recipes she made & they ate them all - she barely saved any for me
  • Like the organization of the cookbook into seasons
  • most of the recipes use ingredients that are readily available at most grocery stores

The Not So Good Stuff
  • Needs a lot more pictures
  • Many of the recipes have way too many steps for my wife
Favorite Recipes
  •  Amazing Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies Pg. 282
  • Sweet n' Smoky Meatloaf - Pg 352
  • Zucchini Patties With Feta - Pg 114
  • Beef Stew w/ Potatoes and Carrots - Pg 252
  • Dark Chocolate & Cherry Oatmeal Cookies - Pg 199 (Jen substituted almond extract for the vanilla & it really gave the cookies a spark)
  • Banana Bread w/ Chocolate Chips & Walnuts - Pg 208
  • Wild Mushroom Lasagne - Pg 236 (A lot of steps but wonderful flavor)
Who Should Use
  • There are quite a few easy to make recipes, but still wouldn't recommend it for the truly beginner cook
  • For the cook who wants to experiment
4/5 Dewey's

We received this from Random House in Exchange for an honest review

Dark Chocolate Cherry Cookies

Beef Stew w/ Potato & Carrots (Perfect for cold Calgary night)

Wild Mushroom Lasagna (Note use smaller dish)

My little helper for the cookies

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Reflected in You by Sylvia Day

Reflected in You (Crossfire #2)
by Sylvia Day
ISBN: 978-1-405-91205-5
Buy from Indigo

Description:Gideon Cross. As beautiful and flawless on the outside as he was damaged and tormented on the inside. He was a bright, scorching flame that singed me with the darkest of pleasures. I couldn't stay away. I didn't want to. He was my addiction . . . my every desire . . . mine.
My past was as violent as his, and I was just as broken. We'd never work. It was too hard, too painful . . . except when it was perfect. Those moments when the driving hunger and desperate love were the most exquisite insanity.
We were bound by our need. And our passion would take us beyond our limits to the sweetest, sharpest edge of obsession . . .
Intensely romantic, darkly sensual and completely addictive, Sylvia Day's Reflected in You will take you to the very limits of obsession - and beyond.

The Good Stuff
  • Fabulous character development 
  • As mentioned in the first novel I was extremely impressed with the discussion of therapy and working towards a healthy relationship
  • Understand Gideon a lot better but still don't approve of his controlling behaviour
  • Extremely erotic
  • As mentioned before I find the relationship between Eva and Cary to be beautiful - true friendship
  • Intriguing mystery (though I totally figured it out)
  • The inclusion of Eva's dad into the story is a wonderful added touch
  • Nice to see Gideon opening up about what happened
  • Looking forward to reading the next book in the series and am cheering for these two damaged souls to work things out
  • Raw, dark, honest and yet that hint of hope

The Not So Good Stuff
  • Frustrating at times because of the decisions the characters make - works for the story though
  • A lot of repetition
  • Eva was a wee bit of a wuss through the first half of novel -- but it does get better - again just frustrating
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"Most suits made the man.  Gideon did things to a three-piece suit that should've been illegal."

“The only way I'm keeping my hands off her is if I'm dead. Find another way to fix us.”

"Expect believe him.  Which is what you should have done  as his mother."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Definitely for those who enjoyed the first book

4 Dewey's

I received this from Penguin UK in exchange for an honest review

Judging a Book by It's Lover by Lauren Leto

Judging a book by it's lover: A field guide to the hearts and minds of readers everywhere
by Lauren Leto
ISBN: 978-0-06-207014-2
Buy from Indigo

Description: Lauren Leto, humor blogger and co-author of Texts from Last Night, now offers a fascinating field guide to the hearts and minds of readers everywhere. Judging a Book by Its Lover is like a literary Sh*t My Dad Says--an unrelentingly witty and delightfully irreverent guide to the intricate world of passionate literary debate, at once skewering and celebrating great writers, from Dostoevsky to Ayn Rand to Jonathan Franzen, and all the people who read them. This provocative, smart, and addictively funny tome arose out of Leto's popular "book porn" blog posts, and it will delight and outrage literature fans, readers of Stuff White People Like and I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar--people obsessed with literary culture and people fed up with literary culture--in equal measure.
The Good Stuff
  • Wickedly funny often good naturedly snarky
  • Actually learned a lot & not just how to pick up a guy in a bookstore/library 
  • Love the fact that she adores Evanovitch as much as the literary elite
  • Wonderful suggestions that will help me in my job as a bookseller and Librarian
  • Cannot say enough about the chapters Book Critic's Bag of Tricks - which has given me many new words for my reviews
  • Fabulous message about the importance of books
  • Touching and personal 
  • Loved the chapter What your child will grow up to be if you read them .. It's hilarious and spot on -- and btw I read them a lot of Seuss so phew things are looking good for my boys
  • The chapter How to Fake it will come in extremely well at my part time job ; )
  • A compelling, pithy read - see chapter Book Critic's Bag of Tricks
  • And no I will not lend this book to you --- go buy your own
  • Thinking I should really make my hubby reading this
 The Not So Good Stuff
  •  Wanted more
  • The Classifying literature chapter was far too intelligent for me
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"You would've thought I'd learn after that. Books aren't good gifts for people who don't read. But like a maniac, I keep shoving books into nonreader hands.  I picture myself as not unlike John the Baptist. But instead of preaching for Jesus, I'm preaching for stories."

"Considering yourself a serious reader doesn't mean you can't read light books. Loving to read means you sometimes like to turn your head off. Reading  is not about being able to recite passages from Camus by memory."

"They're BEAUTIFUL THINGS, tangible books. The iPad, Nook, and Kindle are swiftly taking away our ability to instantly judge people by their choice of reading material in public places, but for a little while longer, you'll be able to strike up a conversation with a stranger, or silently mock them, as you notice them cracking open a wonderfully bulky copy of I am Charlotte Simmons."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read 
  • For those who passionately love the written word
  • Perfect gift for the book lover
  • Not for those who aren't crazy about books
4 Dewey's

I received this from William Morrow in exchange for an honest review

Bared to You by Sylvia Day

This is a review for a book that is considered Erotica - please ignore if this type of book offends you & if you are my family please also skip ; )

Bared to You (Crossfire #1)
by Sylvia Day
ISBN: 978-0-425-26390-7
Buy from Indigo

Description: Our journey began in fire... Gideon Cross came into my life like lightning in the darkness—beautiful and brilliant, jagged and white-hot. I was drawn to him as I'd never been to anything or anyone in my life. I craved his touch like a drug, even knowing it would weaken me. I was flawed and damaged, and he opened those cracks in me so easily...

Gideon knew. He had demons of his own. And we would become the mirrors that reflected each other's most private wounds... and desires.

The bonds of his love transformed me, even as I prayed that the torment of our pasts didn't tear us apart..

The Good Stuff
  • Writing is far superior to that of 50 Shades of Grey (which this book is always compared to)
  • Love the relationship between Eva and her best friend Cary - very supportive and honest
  • Erotic and hot without all of the S&M stuff usually thrown in for Erotica
  • Interesting character study -  perfect for a book club discussion
  • Eva is a strong character -  she knows there is some serious unhealthy aspects to their relationship and talks about it with Gideon, Cary and her therapist
  • Love, love, love that the couple go into therapy 
  • I can see the fascination for Gideon (see the not so good stuff section for more on this) Day's descriptions really makes him sound hot
  • Did I mention how hot this book is - I was blushing on many occasions
  • Fabulous use of dark humour
  • Looking forward to reading the sequel now to see how things are going to work out for these two seriously damaged souls
  • Brings up rape and the lasting damages & discusses it openly and honestly which I find to be very important
The Not So Good Stuff
  • Gideon - I am not completely in love with the guy - he is far too controlling for my tastes - don't get me wrong I like a masculine type of man - but hello any man that has you followed or tells you what you can or cannot do -  I consider to be in serious need of therapy (Yes good thing about book is that this is addressed)
  • Do both characters have to be beautiful and rich -- us plain poor girls deserve hot sex too ya know ; )
  • ok and I was slightly irritated by the obsessive exercising in my opinion - but than again that could be why I am not as hot as Eva LOL! - off to the treadmill now
  • Again I more a romantic type of girl so some of the sexual descriptions were a little too base for me -- but again not a bad thing -- just personal preference
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"That sexy length was the crowing touch of bad-boy allure over the successful businessman, like whipped cream topping on a hot fudge brownie sundae. As my mother would say, only rogues and raiders had hair like that."

"I want there to be happily-ever-afters for the fucked-up crowd. Show me the way, Eva honey. Make me believe."

"New York was a brand-new love affair for me. I was starry-eyed and it showed."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Good book club read - no really - the discussions about their relationship would be fascinating
  • For those looking for something erotic but not all S&M
  • Definitely for readers who thought 50 Shades of Grey was awesome -- this is so much better
 3.75/5 Dewey's

I purchased a copy at Chapters Shawnessy as I am receiving the sequel for review

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass 
By Sarah J. Maas
Bloomsbury Books (Penguin)
ISBN: 978-1-59990-695-9
Suggested Ages: 13+
Buy from Indigo

Description: After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men—thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the kings council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best. Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined

The Good Stuff
  • Intriguing, well developed kick ass heroine.  An assassin with a bit of a softness to her, you gotta like that (Reminds me a wee bit of Gin from Jennifer Estep's Elemental Assassins series)
  • Fast paced, had a hard time putting it down when real life needed me -- but I did cause that is the way I roll -- but it was really tempting just to keep reading
  • Lots of little hints about Celaena's back story kept me intrigued and guessing
  • Even though there are hints of a love triangle its not all irritating or overly angsty (Though I am definitely cheering for Chaol)
  • Love that she is an avid reader - a kick ass book loving heroine -- that is so awesome! And a book burning evil king to hate - hello you hooked me in Ms Maas
  • Great mystery weaved with Magic - gives the storyline an original edge in what could have been a predictable story
  • Excellent uses of humour - love some of the snark and swagger that came out of the characters

The Not So Good Stuff
  • Jumps around a little and uneven at times
  • Cover doesn't do Celaena justice - have seen another cover which gives me a much more realistic image of her
Favorite Quotes/Passages
 "Oh, how wrong he was! Libraries were full of ideas – perhaps the most dangerous and powerful of all weapons."

"Though it was the oldest and most shameless trick in the book, he reached over her and put his hand on top of the one that gripped the cue. He then positioned the fingers of her other hand on the wood before lightly gripping her wrist. To Dorian's dismay, his face became warm."
His eyes shifted to her, and to his relief, he found that she was as red as he, if not more so.
"If you don't stop feeling and start instructing, I'm going to rip out your eyes and replace them with these billiard balls."

"There was good in people - deep down, there was always a shred of good. There had to be."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read
  • Both teens and adults will get something out of it
  • Definitely will appeal more to women than men
4/5 Dewey's

I received this from Razorbill/Penguin in exchange for an honest review

Mom and Me Mondays (On Thursday): Ungifted by Gordon Korman

by Gordon Korman
Scholastic Canada Ltd
ISBN: 978-1-4431-1920-7
Suggested Ages: 10-14
Buy from Indigo

Description: The word "gifted" has never been applied to a kid like Donovan Curtis. It's usually more like "Don't try this at home." So when the troublemaker pulls a major prank at his middle school, he thinks he's finally gone too far. But thanks to a mix-up by one of the administrators, instead of getting in trouble, Donovan is sent to the Academy of Scholastic Distinction (ASD), a special program for gifted and talented students.

It wasn't exactly what Donovan had intended, but there couldn't be a more perfect hideout for someone like him. That is, if he can manage to fool people whose IQs are above genius level. And that becomes harder and harder as the students and teachers of ASD grow to realize that Donovan may not be good at math or science (or just about anything). But after an ongoing experiment with a live human (sister), an unforgettably dramatic middle-school dance, and the most astonishing come-from-behind robot victory ever, Donovan shows that his "gifts" might be exactly what the ASD students never knew they needed.

Jake's Review: It's a bit boring and there are lots of run on sentences.  The kid kinda reminds of me and I wanna do the same sorts of things he does.  But my mom and teachers will kill me if I did, but I understand his feelings.  Its funny the situation he gets himself into.  I think kids my age will like it.  The geek kids are really smart but they are actually funny and cool and way smarter than me.  The storyline isn't realistic, there is no way something like this would ever happen.  Like the idea that sometimes teachers are just plain dumb, sort of like my teachers.  I like that the geeks and the real kids got along with each other.

Jake's Rating: 7/10

Mom's Review: Love Korman books, he really knows how to write books that kids will enjoy (Not to mention - adults) This one is definitely more for kids but I still highly recommend it.  Donovan is your typical middle grade boy. Nothing really special, goofs up all the time, but oh so very human.  He isn't a mean spirited kid at all, just a kid who doesn't think about the consequences of his actions. Reminds me a wee bit of a certain someone.  He is a kid the intended reader will relate to and have some fun with. Korman also tries to get across to kids (and to adults) the huge problems with labeling and separating kids based on educational level. I did find this one uneven at times and some of the thought processes seem to be a little to adult for a middle grader. Also way too many points of view.  but still a fun read.

Mom's Rating: 7.5/10

We received this from Scholastic in exchange for an honest review

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Mom and Me Mondays (on Wednesday) The Brilliant World of Tom Gates

The Brilliant World of Tom Gates
By Liz Pichon
Scholastic Canada Ltd.
ISBN: 978-1-4431-1936-8
Suggested Ages: 9-12
Buy from Indigo

Description: Meet Tom Gates - a master of excuses, an expert doodler, a comic story writer extraordinaire, and the bane of his teacher''s existence! In this recent recipient of the 2011 Roald Dahl Funny Prize, readers will find an honest, silly and laugh-out-loud book in the format of Tom''s battered homework diary, crammed full of his scribbles and stories.
And in his wacky journal, you''ll find all sorts of comic craziness to make you groan with glee! Hear about Tom''s worst holiday ever ("camping sucks") and the time his parents went to parents'' evening ("groan"). Tom''s battered homework diary is crammed with his scribbles and stories, cartoons and ideas - as well as comments from the long-suffering Mr. Fullerman.
Warning! Do not attempt to read this in public. You will laugh loudly!

Jake's Review: A really funny book that is a lot like Diary of a Wimpy Kid except for the fact that Tom is a lot cooler of a kid. The beginning of the book was lame but it got a lot better after about 20 pages.  It is a really easy book to read so kids like Brian who don't like to read will actually like to read a book.  The pictures make it fun to look at too.  I didn't  understand some of the words, but after mom showed me the glossary at the end, I could figure them out.  I really think it would be a better idea for the glossary to be at the beginning though.  I hope there are going to be more books in this series since I have already read all The Wimpy Kid books.  Could have been longer too.

Jake's Rating: 9.5/10

Mom's Review: Perfect book for the reluctant reader and also for fans of The Diary of A Wimpy Kids, Dork Diaries and The Loser List.  The story is delightful and the artwork just adds to its charm.  This is one that both middle school boys AND girls will enjoy. Tom is a character that everyone can relate to and the language and situations are very realistic.  Really enjoyed the relationship between Tom and his sister Delia & its one that anyone with a sibling can relate to.  I will definitely be recommending this one to any of my customers with kids who really don't like to read. Hope to see more from this author.  Enjoyed the glossary at the end which gives the reader explanations into the English terms (Published 2011 in the UK)

Mom's Rating: 9/10

We received this from Scholastic in exchange for an honest review

What is Sexy? and Contest

Family please don't read this post - especially M.I.L. and Kids : )

Well its that time of year again - yup People's Sexiest Man issue & once again I had to say what -- really (happens every year -- well except for when it was Ryan Reynolds (Dude he is Canadian & funny) and Matt Damon (doesn't do it for me but at least he has personality) Now no offense to Channum Tating -- I'm sure you are a decent guy & well you really do have a nice chest -- but you just don't do it for me.

It made me think & want to discuss.  However, I am home alone today and in a new Province so I have no one to talk to. So figured what the hell - how about I write something on my blog.    Forgive me for my lack of writing ability & for those who only want to read my opinions on a book, just skip this post.

I have always been teased about my taste in men - even as far back as middle school. My first crush (which btw lasted until college) was Mike Tobias Tinker.  Ever other girl liked the conventional pretty boys, but no I had to have a crush on the smart, geeky and pimpled guy.  I was teased unmercifully but I didn't care.  There was something just special about him, he had more than just looks - I could see past the pimples people.  Update, I still find him handsome & he developed into a truly talented musician -- check him out Tobias Tinker.  

When all the other girls had crush's on the guys from Duran Duran & The Dukes of Hazzard Boys - I had a crush on Joe Elliot from Def Leppard and Alan Alda .

Even now I find myself attracted to men who are not conventionally handsome.  Usually comments I get are really -- Seriously Rayment -- the dude is short and bald & you are thinking naughty thoughts about HIM - that is nasty.  or JR you want to get it on with THAT guy - have you seen the size of his nose (Won't go farther into that conversation - totally inappropriate!)

I like to think that it's because I am a more developed person and am above petty things such as good looks, but yeah that is probably a load of shit.  The truth is I am just a practical girl who is plain & has self esteem issues.  I would be too worried about what I look like naked to have a good time in bed with some chiseled hunk (thought I might make an exception for sex on a stick Daniel Craig).  Plus those greek god looking types just don't look like they would be fun in bed.    Now Steve Carrell is more the type of guy I want to go to bed with. He wouldn't take him self too seriously and I wouldn't have to worry about my love handles with a guy like that.  Plus in my experience (again kids stop here) the hot ones are never worth the effort -- you know who I mean diver boy!  I also need more than great sex to be happy. I want a man who will make me laugh, wants to talk about books, cooks, great father & just plain decent.  Yup my hubby fits all of the above (well except for the book thing -- but hey at least he reads to the kids)

To make a long story short -- way toooooo late.  This is my top 5 votes for who should grace the covers of World's Sexiest Men - but probably never will.

Nathan Fillion  (He is mine people -- back the hell off) - He is handsome, doesn't look like he wastes every day in a gym, intelligent, self deprecating, promotes literacy, Reads & Canadian.  That is why he is my top choice

Zachary Levi 

Adam Baldwin

Steve Carrell

Daniel Craig - ok he is just on the list for sex alone - hey a girl has to have one hot stud

Now I want to hear from you.  What do you think is sexy in a man? and who are your top 5?

US & Canada
Ends November 30, 2012
Prize: Copy of 2012 People's Sexiest Man issue & Book of your choice up to $15
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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Mom and Me Mondays (on Tuesday) Goodnight Canada

Goodnight Canada
By Andrea Beck
North Winds Press (Scholastic)
ISBN: 978-1-4431-0782-2
Buy from Indigo

Description: A bedtime book that opens children''s minds to the wonders of the world around them.
Award-winning Canadian author and illustrator Andrea Beck has created a unique gift for parents as they wind their little ones down for bedtime. Goodnight, Canada inspires a sense of community, as a child who lives in Newfoundland lies in bed wondering about other children in his country and the world at large. He quietly bids a goodnight to them all, and to Canada itself, province by province, territory by territory.

Jake's Review:  This one is a little lame but I am sure little babies like Jesse would like it. I think it might be a fun way for little kids to learn about the different provinces.  The illustrations are very nice and mom would probably like them.  The rhyme is easy to read so I would be willing to read it to the midget at bedtime if mom forces me to.

Jake's Rating: 6.5/10

Mom's Review: A simple and sweet bedtime story with delightful illustrations.  A nice introduction to the provinces and territories of Canada for a young child.  Each page has some illustrations of highlights of each of the individual provinces. A wee bit stereotypical but hey it is for the young.  The images are very dreamlike and will appeal to both the adult and the child. Also nicely multicultural. Not going to lie Jesse was all meh about this one, but he tends to prefer more bright quirky images. 

Mom's Rating: 8/10

Monday, November 12, 2012

Mom and Me Mondays Finding Christmas by Robert Munsch

Finding Christmas
by Robert Munsch
Illustrated by Michael Martchenko
North Winds Press (Scholastic)
ISBN: 978-1-4431-1317-5
Buy from Indigo

Description: For the first time ever, Canada''s best loved author and illustrator team creates a festive story to ring in the holiday season - with all of the zaniness fans have come to expect, of course!
Every year Julie finds the Christmas presents her parents hid: in the basement, under the bed, in the garage. But this year it''s Christmas Eve and she has found nothing. NOTHING! She''s worried - will be there no presents at all?
Her investigation takes her to a mysterious box on the rooftop, which - lo and behold - houses all of the gifts! But, in classic Munsch mayhem, she becomes trapped inside, creating the biggest surprise of all for her family on Christmas morning.

Jake's Review: Munsch books are so much fun to read even for big kids like me.  It's also cool that its not all mushy like most of the Christmas books usually are.  I will definitely read this to the little midget at bedtime.  This book would be really good for little kids cuz Munsch's writing sounds like a little kid talking.  I like how fun the drawings are and each time you look at it you see something different.  The pictures are really funny and even kids my age will like them. I think mom also likes this one because she is always telling me to stop looking for presents and to just be patient.  Wish the book was longer.

Jake's Rating: 8.5/10

Mom's Review:   I love Munsch he is always so much fun to read and kids just lap it up.  Jesse liked this one too and got a kick out of all of the illustrations and kept stopping my reading to point out little things in the illustrations.  I agree with Jake its nice to read a fun Christmas story that isn't saccharine or mean spirited.  The family is real and quirky and just plain fun -- sort of like our family.  This will appeal  to readers of every age - including adults.  Who hasn't gone snooping for presents -- yes Jake you mom too was a present snooper once. As always Martchenko's illustrations will delight and as Jake mentioned, you find something new each time you read. The prose is simple and childlike (this is a good thing) and perfect for reading out loud. Trust me you will love this one! Another instant classic for Munsch

Mom's Rating: 9/10

We received this from Scholastic in exchange for an honest review

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Mom and Me Monday (On Thursday) The Very Hungry Bear

The Very Hungry Bear
by Nick Bland
ISBN: 978-1-4431-1906-1
Buy from Indigo
Recommended Age: 3-7 (or in my opinion any age)

Description: He’s been VERY CRANKY, VERY ITCHY and now he’s VERY HUNGRY. Maybe it’s time to hook a deal with a lost polar bear…. Bear is back...and he''s very, very hungry! 
Bear is hungry! He''s trying to fish, but instead of food, he only manages to catch...a polar bear? The poor bear is lost and his ice floe is rapidly melting. The polar bear makes a deal - he''ll give Bear a pile of fish in return for a new home. Bear takes his new friend on a tour, and finally they find just the right home for a polar bear.

Jake's Review:  For a kiddie picture book, this one is pretty cool.  The illustrations are really nice to look at and the story is pretty good.  I think a lot of kids Jesse's age will really like this and I won't get bored when my parents make me read to the little midget. I think the author is trying to teach little kids about habitats at the same time which is pretty cool, cause it is not obvious like when teachers try to teach us stuff. I liked the cranky bear better because it was funnier, but this is pretty good too.

Jake's Rating: 8/10

Mom's Review: How can you not love a Nick Bland book. The illustrations are truly delightful, the story charming and the rhyme engaging.  I have a mad love for the Very Cranky Bear and while not as perfect as that, this is still marvelous.  A nice moral included done in a non preachy way which is a true gift.  Jesse grabbed this one out of my hand as soon as I opened the package and has made me read it to him every night since.  So really that is all you need to  know, my previously book hating toddler now loves the books - well as long as they are as cool as this one.  Thanks Bland, I owe you one.  Now must pick up a copy of The Very Itchy Bear!

Mom's Rating: 9.5/10

We received this from Scholastic in exchange for an honest review