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!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Bug in a Vacuum by Melanie Watt

Bug in a Vacuum
by Melanie Watt
Tundra Books (Penguin Random House)
ISBN: 978-1-77049-645-3
Buy from Indigo

Description: A bug flies through an open door into a house, through a bathroom, across a kitchen and bedroom and into a living room ... where its entire life changes with the switch of a button. Sucked into the void of a vacuum bag, this one little bug moves through denial, bargaining, anger, despair and eventually acceptance -- the five stages of grief -- as it comes to terms with its fate. Will there be a light at the end of the tunnel? Will there be dust bunnies in the void? A funny, suspenseful and poignant look at the travails of a bug trapped in a vacuum.

The Good Stuff
  • The artwork is truly outstanding  
  • Sensitively done explanation of the five steps of grief 
  • Great for discussions with children especially about talking about feelings
  • So much of the story is told through the illustrations which is brilliant for kids
  • Touching, yet funny 
  • Truly unique
  • Doesn't talk down to kids or ignore their feelings

The Not So Good Stuff
  • My son and husband didn't enjoy it, but they did love the artwork
Favourite Page

4 Dewey's

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

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Deceptions by Kelley Armstrong

Deceptions (Cainsville #3)
by Kelley Armstrong
Random House Canada (Penguin Random House)
ISBN: 978-0-307-36058-8
Buy from Indigo

Description: Olivia’s life has exploded. She’s discovered she’s not only adopted, but her real parents are convicted serial killers. Fleeing the media frenzy, she took refuge in the oddly secluded town of Cainsville. She has since solved the town’s mysteries and finds herself not only the target of its secretive elders, but also her stalker ex-fiancé.

Visions continue to haunt her: particularly a little blond girl in a green sundress who insists she has an important message for Olivia, one that may help her balance the light and darkness within herself. Death stalks Olivia and the two men most important to her, as she desperately searches to understand whether ancient scripts are dictating their triangle. Will darkness prevail or does Olivia have the power to prevent a tragic fate?

The Good Stuff
  • This series just gets better and better 
  • Adored the opening chapter and the banter between Olivia and Gabriel
  • Non stop action and plenty of twists and turns
  • As mentioned on many occasions, Kelley Armstrong is a born storyteller and she never fails to keep me absorbed in  her imaginative worlds
  • Olivia is kick ass - she takes shit from no one and liver her life the way she wants to 
  • Um Ricky and Gabriel - yeah I think I am a little in love with both of them
  • I love the cover on this  one
  • Does bring a little attention to what Spina Bifida is (Um and if we go with Kelley's story - my son must be Tylwyth Teg )
  • Exceptionally well developed world building
  • Puts together fairies and the x-files in one paragraph - made me laugh my ass off

The Not So Good Stuff
  • I know its silly but cannot mention why without giving away a major spoiler.  My son has Spina Bifida and it has to do something with that 
  • They fey always confuse me a little -- not a complaint about the author or the story, just something that affects my personal enjoyment of the story (but hey it still gets 4.5/5)

Favorite Quotes/Passages

"I woke up to my ex-fiance calling. Which was awkward, considering  we'd only broken up two months ago and I was in another guy's apartment.  Even more awkward when that guy wasn't the one I was currently dating. In my defense I was on the couch."

"Exactly. I'm the Lord Byron of bikers. Except, being a biker, naturally I don't write  poetry. Or read it. In fact, for the record,  I have no idea who this Byron guy is."

"I find fairies with cell phones disconcerting enough. Do they really need to use text talk."

4.5 Dewey's

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

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman

The Marriage of Opposites
by Alice Hoffman
Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 978-1-4516-9359
Buy from Indigo

Description: a forbidden love story set on the tropical island of St. Thomas about the extraordinary woman who gave birth to painter Camille Pissarro; the Father of Impressionism.

Growing up on idyllic St. Thomas in the early 1800s, Rachel dreams of life in faraway Paris. Rachel's mother, a pillar of their small refugee community of Jews who escaped the Inquisition, has never forgiven her daughter for being a difficult girl who refuses to live by the rules. Growing up, Rachel's salvation is their maid Adelle's belief in her strengths, and her deep, life-long friendship with Jestine, Adelle's daughter. But Rachel's life is not her own. She is married off to a widower with three children to save her father's business. When her husband dies suddenly and his handsome, much younger nephew, Fréderick, arrives from France to settle the estate, Rachel seizes her own life story, beginning a defiant, passionate love affair that sparks a scandal that affects all of her family, including her favorite son, who will become one of the greatest artists of France.

Building on the triumphs of The Dovekeepers and The Museum of Extraordinary Things, set in a world of almost unimaginable beauty, The Marriage of Opposites showcases the beloved, bestselling Alice Hoffman at the height of her considerable powers. Once forgotten to history, the marriage of Rachel and Fréderick is a story that is as unforgettable as it is remarkable.

The Good Stuff
  • The perfect book for me, especially after struggling through On the Road
  • Once again Hoffman has created an engrossing story laced through with a hint of magic
  • Has brought to life a relatively unknown (Especially to me) historical character and created a fascinating tale of forbidden love, family, betrayal, art and history
  • Hoffman has a true gift for storytelling, I always become lost in her stories and don't want to put them down. Her words are lyrical and poetic
  • Enjoyed Rachel's love for her father's library and his books - I truly understand 
  • Learned a lot about the fascinating history of St Thomas 
  • Each and every character felt so very real to me
  •  Hoffman's description of St Thomas is so beautiful, I feel the need to jump on a plane and head there right now
  • Will be putting my Staff Pick sticker on it tonight

The Not So Good Stuff
  • As always horrified by the prejudice against Jews and the restrictions
  • As a Mom, I really didn't understand Rachel's attitude towards her son and his choices, especially after her childhood. Probably realistic, but it irritated me

Favorite Quotes

"The colours I used might not have been of this world; instead they showed what lay below the surface of this world, the spark of colour at the deepest core."

"Then I understood that when someone begins to tell you her story, you are entwined together."

"We're likely to see our children as we wish to, not as they are."

"The night world was blue and black; a hot velvet curtain dropped down from the branches of the trees."

4.5 Dewey's

I received this from Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review

Sick in the Head by Judd Apatow

Sick in the Head
by Judd Apatow
Penguin Random House
ISBN: 978-0-8129-9757-6
Buy from Indigo

Description: From the writer and director of Knocked Up and the producer of Freaks and Geeks comes a collection of intimate, hilarious conversations with the biggest names in comedy from the past thirty years—including Mel Brooks, Jerry Seinfeld, Jon Stewart, Roseanne Barr, Harold Ramis, Louis C.K., Chris Rock, and Lena Dunham.

Before becoming one of the most successful filmmakers in Hollywood, Judd Apatow was the original comedy nerd. At fifteen, he took a job washing dishes in a local comedy club—just so he could watch endless stand-up for free. At sixteen, he was hosting a show for his local high school radio station in Syosset, Long Island—a show that consisted of Q&As with his comedy heroes, from Garry Shandling to Jerry Seinfeld. They talked about their careers, the science of a good joke, and their dreams of future glory (turns out, Shandling was interested in having his own TV show one day and Steve Allen had already invented everything).

Thirty years later, Apatow is still that same comedy nerd—and he’s still interviewing funny people about why they do what they do.

Sick in the Head
gathers Apatow’s most memorable and revealing conversations into one hilarious, wide-ranging, and incredibly candid collection that spans not only his career but his entire adult life. Here are the comedy legends who inspired and shaped him, from Mel Brooks to Steve Martin. Here are the contemporaries he grew up with in Hollywood, from Spike Jonze to Sarah Silverman. And here, finally, are the brightest stars in comedy today, many of whom Apatow has been fortunate to work with, from Seth Rogen to Amy Schumer. And along the way, something kind of magical happens: What started as a lifetime’s worth of conversations about comedy becomes something else entirely. It becomes an exploration of creativity, ambition, neediness, generosity, spirituality, and the joy that comes from making people laugh.

Loaded with the kind of back-of-the-club stories that comics tell one another when no one else is watching, this fascinating, personal (and borderline-obsessive) book is Judd Apatow’s gift to comedy nerds everywhere.

The Good Stuff
  • Amazed (but really not surprised) that he was so young when he got access to such famous comedians and was so very articulate and got them to talk.  That my friends, takes balls and is so very impressive
  •  Learned a lot,about the comedy world
  •  Interviews some of my personal favorites
  • Some incredible raw and very personal stories
  • This is a perfect gift for the comedy nerd or those interested in working in the field 
  • Have a sudden urge to watch Freaks and Geeks again
  • Albert Brooks is a fascinating man
  • Very wise conversation with Eddie Vedder regarding children and technology
  • Favorite interview was with the very insightful Harold Ramis
  • Impressed with how the interviewees had been very helpful and kind to such a young man who they had no reason to - gives me faith in humanity
  • Have a new found respect for Steve Allen and his originality 
  • Understand why HBO gets to make the brilliant shows they do
The Not So Good Stuff
  • Would have liked more information about Judd himself (though you do get a good idea from what he lets out in the interviews)
  • Expected it to be a lot more funny, but hey that is my problem 
  • He gets to work with Steve Carrell and I don't 

Favorite Quotes

"Judd: As I said to someone recently, I'm trying to fuck my kids up just enough so they'll want a job."

"This blew my mind. Wait, so we could actually interview people we admired? They would talk to you if you asked nicely? It suddenly occurred to me that maybe I could do this with comedians."

"I didn't understand that what I liked about them was seeing normal people with their daily struggles, trying to be good people in spite of all of the obstacles that are in their way, trying to find connection. That's what I enjoyed the most, but I didn't understand how it was made and I didn't understand how I would get there, until I worked with you at The Larry Sanders Show."

"I can almost feel people forgetting their troubles and laughing, and for a moment I feel like there is a God or a higher purpose and I am truly happy.  God gave me that dick joke. It all makes sense"

"When are girls going to figure out that the jocks become used car salesmen and the nerds become, you know, Judd Apatow and Bill Gates? Why aren't they on to that by now?"
4 Dewey's

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

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

In the Unlikely Event
by Judy Blume
Doubleday Canada (Penguin Random House)
ISBN: 978-2-385-68507-8
Buy from Indigo

Description: In 1987, Miri Ammerman returns to her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, to attend a commemoration of the worst year of her life. Thirty-five years earlier, when Miri was fifteen, and in love for the first time, a succession of airplanes fell from the sky, leaving a community reeling. Against this backdrop of actual events that Blume experienced in the early 1950s, when airline travel was new and exciting and everyone dreamed of going somewhere, she paints a vivid portrait of a particular time and place—Nat King Cole singing “Unforgettable,” Elizabeth Taylor haircuts, young (and not-so-young) love, explosive friendships, A-bomb hysteria, rumors of Communist threat. And a young journalist who makes his name reporting tragedy. Through it all, one generation reminds another that life goes on.

In the Unlikely Event is vintage Judy Blume, with all the hallmarks of Judy Blume’s unparalleled storytelling, and full of memorable characters who cope with loss, remember the good times and, finally, wonder at the joy that keeps them going.

The Good Stuff
  • Excellent character development 
  • Wonderful depiction of the 50's in all of its glory and horror 
  • Every character felt so very real and so very human, Blume has always excelled at this
  • Interesting to see all of the different types of families depicted
  • You can see how much the story based on real life events has haunted the author. I hope this has helped her come to grips with the loss
  • Some absolutely brilliant wise words about life, family, love, loss and growing up
The Not So Good Stuff
  • Really not a good idea to read this just before you are about to get on a plane (FYI, started 2 days before I was leaving to visit Toronto, I picked my seats at the back of the plane, because of this book)
  • Way too many characters, hard to keep track of everyone's storyline 
  • Really wanted to love it, as I have enjoyed the authors other works, but it just felt rushed and all over the place.  I blame myself for having high expectations as well

Favorite Quotes/Passages

"Life is a series of unlikely events, isn’t it? Hers certainly is. One unlikely event after another, adding up to a rich, complicated whole. And who knows what’s still to come?

"What was it with boys in her class? Was it that they liked the idea of spaceships and zombies? Was it too scary to think about what really made the planes crash ?

"Miri, sweetheart-life is hard," Henry said. "but its worth the struggle."

 3 Deweys

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