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!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Blog Tour: Kissing Frogs by Alisha Sevigny

Kissing Frogs
by Alisha Sevigny
Fierce Ink Press
Buy from Fierce Ink Press (For PB version, also available in other formats)

Description: Finding Prince Charming sure is hard work
Popular high school senior Jessica Stone has a secret: she used to be a nerd — a goody two-shoes, grade-skipping, all-state spelling bee champ kind of nerd. But she gave herself the ultimate makeover and applied all her academic genius to study and imitate the social elite and now she rules the school. With her cool new friends and hottest-guy-in-school boyfriend, life’s a beach — and that’s where she’s headed for spring break. That is, until her biology teacher breaks the bad news that she’s failing and her only chance to make up the grade is to join the conservation club in Panama to save the golden frog.
Jess finds herself in a foreign country with a new social crew, including a ghost from her past that could threaten her queen bee reputation. Travis Henley may have grown up, but he still likes to play childish games and as payment for retrieving her lost ring from the bottom of a jungle pool, he wants three non-dates. The last thing Jess wants to do is be around him any more than she has to, but she’s desperate to keep him quiet and agrees. Soon she begins to realize the worth of her inner nerd, and that one frog in particular could be her prince in disguise.
Set in the lush and tropical El Valle de Anton, Kissing Frogs is a smart and funny re-imagining of “The Frog Prince” with an environmental heartbeat.
Rated E - Everyone over ten: Content is suitable for everyone but may contain mild violence and language and minimal suggestive themes.
The Good Stuff
  •  Author has a fabulous understanding of the teen world with all its bumps and drama
  • Excellent character development
  • Reminded me of being that age and wanting to be someone different than you are
  • Beautiful setting and lots of interesting information about environmental issues done in a non preachy way
  • Laugh out loud dialogue at times
  • Excellent for reluctant readers
  • Sweetly romantic
  • Adorable Golden Frogs
  • Well written secondary characters, which is something many writers forget to do is flesh out their secondary characters
 The Not So Good Stuff
  •  Not really a bad thing, but I felt too old to really appreciate the story. So thinking that could be a good thing as I am not the intended audience
  • Would have liked more back story
 Favorite Quotes/Passages

"There's something jarring about seeing your teacher half-naked. He's pretty white. I hope he's wearing a high SPF."

"Oh." I flush. Dora and Boots will only get me so far here."

"There happens to be this fabulous invention called Google." I retort, wiping the water dribbling down my chin. "In fact, you're there under the search term 'annoying-know-it-all'"

3.75/5 Dewey's

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

Alisha Sevigny holds a degree in Sociology and Professional Writing from the University of Victoria, is a film school graduate, former literary agent and current Social Media and Communications Director for an award-winning English school. A shameless romantic, Alisha and her husband have travelled the world together. On a recent trip to Panama with their new daughter, Alisha fell in love with the country, culture, and their national emblem, the Golden Frog. She was inspired to write her first Young Adult novel, Kissing Frogs. Born and raised in Kitimat, British Columbia, Alisha has always had a strong connection to the environment and conservationist spirit. She now lives in Toronto with her family.

Blog Tour

Nov 4 YA Book Shelf (review)
Nov 5 Cozy Up With a Good Read (review)
Nov 6 YA Book Shelf (Q&A)
Nov 8 Jess’s Book Blog (review)
Nov 9 A Portia Adams Adventure (review)
Nov 10 Canlit for Little Canadians (review)
Nov 11 Canlit for Little Canadians (guest post)
Nov 12 Book Drunkard (review)
Nov 13 Writing on Writing (review)
Nov 14 Feisty Little Woman (review)
Nov 15 A Portia Adams Adventure (Q&A)
Nov 17 Misbehavin’ Librarian (review)
Nov 18 YA Book Shelf (guest post)
Nov 19 Escape Through the Pages (guest post)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Where I Belong: Small Town to Great Big Sea by Alan Doyle

Where I Belong: Small Town to Great Big Sea
by Alan Doyle
Random House Canada
ISBN: 978-0-385-68036-3
Buy from Indigo

Description: From the lead singer of the band Great Big Sea comes a lyrical and captivating musical memoir about growing up in the tiny fishing village of Petty Harbour, Newfoundland, and then taking to the world stage.
     Singer-songwriter and front man of the great Canadian band Great Big Sea, Alan Doyle is also a lyrical storyteller and a creative force. In Where I Belong, Alan paints a vivid, raucous and heartwarming portrait of a curious young lad born into the small coastal fishing community of Petty Harbour, Newfoundland, and destined to become a renowned musician who carried the musical tradition of generations before him and brought his signature sound to the world. He tells of a childhood surrounded by larger-than-life characters who made an indelible impression on his music and work; of his first job on the wharf cutting out cod tongues for fishermen; of growing up in a family of five in a two-bedroom house with a beef-bucket as a toilet, yet lacking nothing; of learning at his father's knee how to sing the story of a song and learning from his mother how to simply "be good"; and finally, of how everything he ever learned as a kid prepared him for that pivotal moment when he became part of Great Big Sea and sailed away on what would be the greatest musical adventure of his life.
     Filled with the lore and traditions of the East Coast and told in a voice that is at once captivating and refreshingly candid, this is a narrative journey about small-town life, curiosity and creative fulfillment, and finally, about leaving everything you know behind only to learn that no matter where you go, home will always be with you

The Good Stuff
  • A wonderful and charming memoir of a talented (ok and handsome, totally had a crush on him for years -- till Fillion and Tennant came along) humble musician growing up in small town in Newfoundland.  The man is a born storyteller, which for those who are fans of his work, will not be surprised.
  • Thoroughly enjoyed where Alan and his mother have a discussion on the recipe for her homemade bread.  Reminds me of all the times I would ask my neighbor to write down her recipes, it never happened
  •  His tales of the dinner table are so very similar to ones I heard from my husband
  • Don't get me started on the chapter about the family bathroom.  I laughed so  hard, I had tears running down my face.
  •  As a fan of GBS, I never realized the Janie mentioned in Ordinary Day was Jann Arden.   Interesting to hear how Ordinary Day came into being.  Still one of my favorite songs by them, and like so many others, when I am having a crappy day that song always gets me out of my funk.
  •  As a gal raised with very little religion  (and in a bigger town, where I don't remember any kind of mentions of the difference between Catholics and Protestants) , I was fascinated by the religious divide between these two faiths (I know I'm a heathen, but to me they both believe in God -- so what's the problem here folks, thought God was about love and acceptance)
  • I felt very nostalgic when he talks about the kitchen parties.   My fondest memories of my childhood are when my Dad's side of the family came over for a party.  All the male members of the Porter clan have the most beautiful voices (unfortunately for me and my sister, we did not inherit this and we both sound like cats dying when we sing - never stopped me from singing along though) and we would hang out in the kitchen while my Uncles and Cousins strummed their guitars and sang.  Guess that's why when I first heard a GBS song, it made me feel like I was home.
  • I appreciate and agree with his commentary on organized religions. 
  • Felt like I was hanging out with a good friend telling stories of his youth. Sometimes the stories would make me laugh out loud and at other times made me cry and want to give him a hug. 
  • Delightful glossary of terms 
  • Book is even better if you read while listening to his solo album, Boy On Bridge

The Not So Good Stuff
  •  Hoping he will write a second book, as I want to know more about life on the road with Great Big Sea
  • Spent days singing Ordinary Day - and trust me that was torture for so many people as I just can't sing worth a damn
  • Nooooo he's a Habs fan - why oh why ; ) Ah well, married to one of those, so I can let it go
  • Now having fantasies about this man singing to me -- hmmm new bucket list item. Have attractive man sing a song to me. Might have to let that one go
  • Have had a serious craving for homemade bread - ok lets post this review so I can try to make some (FYI - pals, don't drop by for a while, this could get messy)

Favorite Quotes/Passages

"This has always been my mother's pearl of wisdom, a single piece of advice she offers just about every time someone walks out the door or every time she ends a phone call. It's one of the most brilliant pieces of advice I've ever heard: Be good. Be good to people."

"We even got to play for a few dances in St. Paul's church basement, which meant playing for Protestant girls. And according to my grandmother, these girls were all scandalous whores who were on the pill, girls who were constantly having sex with just about everyone. You can imagine my disappointment when I discovered for myself that these gals were no more willing to make out with a guy like me than the Catholic gals at my own school."

"That's how parties went. That's what my folks did.  People came over to our house, we sat around the kitchen  or the piano and we sang songs.  It wasn't a party unless someone was singing a song.  We didn't have a big stereo or many records. Music was homemade."

"So, I restate my place in the world as a religious free agent with more questions than answers."

"Don't be afraid of tough guys. You need them and they need you. Let them have their moments in charge if it buys you order and civility where there might be madness.

4.75 Dewey's

I received a copy from Random House in exchange for an honest review. Also won a signed copy - which I will get him to personalize when I meet him next week at Chapters Chinook!!! And will try not to go all fan girl on him or beg him to sing me a song

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris

Choose Your Own Autobiography
by Neil Patrick Harris
ISBN: 978-0-385-34699-3
Random House
Buy from Indigo

Description: Tired of memoirs that only tell you what really happened?

Sick of deeply personal accounts written in the first person? Seeking an exciting, interactive read that puts the “u” back in “aUtobiography”? Then look no further than Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography! In this revolutionary, Joycean experiment in light celebrity narrative, actor/personality/carbon-based life-form Neil Patrick Harris lets you, the reader, live his life. You will be born in New Mexico. You will get your big break at an acting camp. You will get into a bizarre confrontation outside a nightclub with actor Scott Caan. Even better, at each critical juncture of your life you will choose how to proceed. You will decide whether to try out for Doogie Howser, M.D. You will decide whether to spend years struggling with your sexuality. You will decide what kind of caviar you want to eat on board Elton John’s yacht.

Choose correctly and you’ll find fame, fortune, and true love. Choose incorrectly and you’ll find misery, heartbreak, and a guest stint on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. All this, plus magic tricks, cocktail recipes, embarrassing pictures from your time as a child actor, and even a closing song. Yes, if you buy one book this year, congratulations on being above the American average, but make that book Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography!

The Good Stuff
  • This autobiography is -- legen - wait for it--  dary (Yes you know I would have to go there)
  • The most unique way of presenting an autobiography I have ever seen and lets face it, only this multi talented could pull it off so wonderfully
  • Not at all relevant to the review, but I met him at BEA and he is so handsome and sooo charming & he shook my hand -- yes I feel sort of special right now LOL!
  • Touching, honest and utterly perfect.  He is definitely a class act. Even when being negative about someone it is done in a classy honest way
  • Will make you snort out with laughter
  • His mom. Love where they talk about NPH maybe being gay
  • Found a connection to him - yup we are both boring crappy drunks LOL!  I had to pretend to be drunk a lot Neil in High School and College because booze just makes me sleepy
  • Yeah, there is a chapter written by Nathan Fillion
  • He is also a huge fan of anything Whedon and learned that he actually auditioned for a role in Firefly
  • Chapter on how David him became parents is hilarious
  • There are magic tricks and recipes
  • I always appreciated his thoughts on his gayness. I'm gay, who gives a fuck.  Some people are straight and some  people are gay end of story.

The  Not So Good Stuff
  • Try reading it like a normal book and you will find yourself going -- huh
  • Wanted more pictures
  • I really feel bad about never having watched Doogie.  Saw commercials so knew about it but NPH will never be Doogie to me.  Feel sorta bereft now. My first introduction to him really was Harold and Kuman go to White Castle

Favorite Quotes/Passages

 "But  moms are moms, and later in life she will tell you that deep down she always had a strong suspicion*"
"* You almost had to have a board slapped against your head not to know he was interested in men, not women - Your Mother January 21, 2014"

"But at the same time you're not shouting "I'm Gay" into a megaphone from the middle of West Hollywood either. And why should you? There's a great deal of immodesty in assuming the entire world is desperate to know who and what you stick your wang into. You yourself aren't particularly interested most of the time.  And you' are not, by temperament, an activist. Despite you love for Les Miz, flag -waiving on the barricaded is not your style in real life."

"You're shown the set and the lights and the costumes and learn another various the the same basic lesson about showbiz  you will learn over and over again - it's all fundamentally just a bunch of crap glued together and spray-painted over. But the wonderful paradox is that knowing this does not distract from the experience."

5 Dewey's

I received this from Random House in exchange for an honest review

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood by William J. Mann

Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood
By William J. Mann
ISBN: 978-0-06-2242167
Buy from Indigo

Description: By 1920, the movies had suddenly become America’s new favorite pastime, and one of the nation’s largest industries. Never before had a medium possessed such power to influence. Yet Hollywood’s glittering ascendency was threatened by a string of headline-grabbing tragedies—including the murder of William Desmond Taylor, the popular president of the Motion Picture Directors Association, a legendary crime that has remained unsolved until now.

In a fiendishly involving narrative, bestselling Hollywood chronicler William J. Mann draws on a rich host of sources, including recently released FBI files, to unpack the story of the enigmatic Taylor and the diverse cast that surrounded him—including three beautiful, ambitious actresses; a grasping stage mother; a devoted valet; and a gang of two-bit thugs, any of whom might have fired the fatal bullet. And overseeing this entire landscape of intrigue was Adolph Zukor, the brilliant and ruthless founder of Paramount, locked in a struggle for control of the industry and desperate to conceal the truth about the crime. Along the way, Mann brings to life Los Angeles in the Roaring Twenties: a sparkling yet schizophrenic town filled with party girls, drug dealers, religious zealots, newly-minted legends and starlets already past their prime—a dangerous place where the powerful could still run afoul of the desperate.

A true story recreated with the suspense of a novel, Tinseltown is the work of a storyteller at the peak of his powers—and the solution to a crime that has stumped detectives and historians for nearly a century.

The Good Stuff
  • Reads like fiction. Forgot on many occasions that I was reading non-fiction
  • Absolutely fascinating, hooked me in with the first chapter. Author really knows how to set a scene
  • Henry Peavey sounded like he was a delightful and colourful man
  • Interesting to find out about the scandal involving Fatty Arbuckle. I knew a little about it from stories from my Dad, but had no idea what really had happened. Poor bastard.
  • I know, I know, but I am still flabbergasted at the Anti-antisemitism against the Jews in Hollywood - especially by so called christian people who went to church every sunday but thought Jews were evil - still blows me away
  • Made me very interested in reading more about Hays
  • Extremely thorough and well researched
  • Fascinating exploration of the decadence of Hollywood in the Twenties

The Not So Good Stuff
  • Not sure if the finished copy (I received an ARC) has pictures, but if not, this would be a lovely addition
  • My lord, Mary's mother was a truly horrific women - cannot believe the scene in which she forces her daughter to have an abortion - worse than many evil fictional characters
  • Ummm tagline says murder was solved until now- well technically it is not solved, this is just a theory (This is the reason I lowered the rating on the book)

Favorite Quotes/Passages

"The affair had started as a lark, full of fun and laughs, but it had ended up wrecking Mabel's health and depleting her bank account--the way romances with cocaine usually ended."

"The only part of his religious education that had ever interested the future moviemaker was the Bible itself, because it was a primer in how to tell good stories."

"Zukor knew that bringing on Hays wouldn't completely silence bigots like Ford, but it would deprive them of one of their most potent, and loathsome, rallying cries. The leader of the movies would no longer be a Jewish infidel, but a Christian elder."

3.25 Dewey's

I received this from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review