2018 Reading Challenge

2018 Reading Challenge

2018 Reading Challenge
Tina has read 4 books toward her goal of 30 books.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Book Review for The Adventures of Esther the Wonder Pig

Thank you so much to Hachette Canada for sending me a copy of this beautiful book.

TITLE:          The Adventures of Esther the Wonder Pig

AUTHORS:   Steven Jenkins, Derek Walter and Caprice Crane

GENRE:         Children's Book


I have been following Esther the Wonder Pig, on her Facebook page for a few months and fell in love with her, her siblings and her two dads.

This little pig puts a smile on my face every day, so I was thrilled when I saw The True Adventures of Esther the Wonder Pig - a children's book.

This book is so absolutely adorable.  The story of Esther and her experiences (including her two dads, Dolorese and her other siblings) is wonderful, heartwarming, cute, sweet and overall a lovely, lovely book  - perfect for children of ALL ages.

No violence, simply love on each page as Esther and her two dads illustrate through words and cute illustrations how families do come in every shape and size.

Illustrations are right on point and the accompanying story is heartwarming.

This is a perfect book for everyone.

Friday, February 9, 2018

REVIEW for Brave by Rose McGoman

TITLE:                  Brave

AUTHOR:             Rose McGowan

GENRE:                Memoir

RATING:               3 stars

I reeeeallly, realllly wanted to like this book,  because of the importance of the message delivered and also because I love books with "I am woman, hear me roar" type of message.

However, in my opinion, this book should have been called "Rage or pissed off" because that is the entire tone of the book.  It is an incredibly angry-toned book.  Nothing is positive or nice and while I get that this is McGowan's life and she gets to complain about it as much as she wants, it just felt as though I was somehow being yelled at by the book in my hand.

Obviously McGowan had a rough childhood, that is clear.  However, as much as she says that people and specifically men were horrible to her, she also spent all of her time consciously or not putting her life, herself and her soul into their hands.  She simply does not exist as a person outside of being in one precarious experience after another.

Never, does she tell herself "stand up and do for yourself".  Instead, she spends all of her time blaming her parents, hollywood, the variety of men who "take care" of her when she is getting out of her teens.  It gets  a bit old.

I admit that the Hollywood portions were very interesting, but other than that, there was not much here to keep my interest.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

REVIEW for Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

Thank you to Dial Press for sending me an electronic copy of this book.

TITLE:               Surprise Me

AUTHOR:         Sophie Kinsella

GENRE:            Chick Lit

RATING:           2 Stars

What to say about this book?

Despite giving it 2 stars, I can say that there were a few things I did like. I do enjoy the way Kinsella writes as she avoids that trap of giving way too many details, making the story overly boring and long for no reason. She also has a way with dialogue and always infuses some humor in her books.

My problems with this book are twofold - 1) the premise is absolutely ridiculous - so ridiculous that I can't even suspend my disbelief. 68 years together OMG???? because you will live to be super old - yup, pretty silly. 2) I hated the Sylvie and the mother characters so much that I wanted to scream. They both had the mental capacity of 15 year olds and neither had one redeeming feature. Also, Sylvie was soooo whiny and it was constant!

Also, while I realize that characters who cannot speak up for themselves are a great way to propel a story forward, they are also a great way to piss off your readers. Between Dan, Sylvie and her mother - absolutely NONE of them EVER opened their mouths to speak up for themselves nor did they open their mouths to ask basic questions or to share how they felt about anything. The result? a bunch of silly plot lines with weak characters who just let everything go, even if it meant confusion, misunderstandings and pain. I hated that part so much.

Please Sophie Kinsella, can you write a book with humor AND smart characters AND smart plotlines? It seems as though you cannot do all 3 at the same time and that is such a shame.

REVIEW for The Optimistic Food Addiction by Christina Fisanick Greer

TITLE:       The Optimistic Food Addict

AUTHOR:  Christina Fisanick Greer

GENRE:      Memoir/recovery

RATING:     4 Stars 

I always admire someone who shares their story and invites us in to read about it.  It is a tough and brave thing to do.

I have read many, many, recovery books on eating disorders and this book touched me.  The sadness, loss and pain this person experienced in her early life would be enough to send me hiding under something and never come out - which is, of course, how some people with eating disorders deal (or don't deal) with personal trauma.

I have mixed emotions about the content of this book , obviously I am talking about the view points this author has about eating disorders.  She touched on several interesting topics, i.e. are eating disorders an addiction (and a disease) which requires abstinence or are they better treated with intuitive eating.

I have been on both sides of this equation and there are good and bad on each side.  The author does not advocate for one over the other although she does admit to believing she has a disease and that intuitive eating did not work for her - she needed clear abstinence.

While the author says she does not want to be "food obsessed" anymore (something I totally agree with) I question how abstinence does this as it encourages a person to vigilantly avoid sugar, flour, etc.....keeping the focus on the food and feeling defeated if there is a "relapse" back into sugar or flour.....

As the author mentions, eating disorders and binge eating in particular have been around for a long time, but they have just recently been recognized as a medical condition and little is truly known about it.

I am encouraged by the tone of optimism in this memoir and I applaud the author for being happy with who she is, even if she is not a size 6 - to me, this was the golden nugget in this book - discovering that you can be happy even if you struggle - that there is hope.

Well written and candid.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

REVIEW for Getting Off by Erica Garza

Thank you to the publisher Simon & Schuster for giving me an e-copy of this book.

TITLE:             Getting off

AUHTOR:        Erica Garza

GENRE:           Memoir


My short review is: I LOVE THIS BOOK.

Memoirs on addictions are, in my opinion, very difficult to write. Imagine taking your biggest secrets and putting them all on paper for the world to see. 

This is exactly what Garza did - in fact, she did it in a way that was different from many memoirs, while you can feel the dread, sadness, bewilderment Garza feels as she continues to indulge in her addiction, she does so in a way that sends the message "mea culpa, but I am human and this will never be perfect".

I found this refreshing and surprising. Yes, we get the feeling that Garza is completely lost and yes, while she describes her past (especially her younger years with candor and mercifully not too much detail) we also get the feeling that this person was born to be who she is with the good, the bad and the really bad.

I am not sure I understand some of the passages in her book, but I love that she is always honest, despite the fact that she basically tries everything to find "inner peace" - yoga, mediation, writing. While other memoirs would stop at "now that I have done all these things I have found inner peace" Garza doesn't find inner peace, but rather some kind of understanding of herself, if only a little.

I do admit that I questioned how she could travel so much, to such places without ever seeming to run of money. I also wonder how she managed to survive this behavior without STDs, but this is extremely well written. Thoughtful and deep and I love, love it.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

REVIEW for Walk It Off by Ruth Marshall

Thank you to the wonderful people at Simon & Schuster Canada for giving me a copy of this book to read and review.

TITLE:             Walk it Off

AUTHOR:       Ruth Marshall

GENRE:           Memoir

RATING:          3 Stars

This book started out well. Loved the humor Marshall brought to the situation.

The writing was informative and fun and she managed to make me feel engaged in a memoir on a scary subject.

Why am I rating this 3 stars? I felt that after the operation, as the author was making us more familiar with rehab and who she had become as a person, post surgery, I started losing interest. All of a sudden the tone of the book changed. It became a heavy handed story, with a "heroine" that was really unlikable. The tone turned diva and shrill and gone was the humor that was such an important part of the story.

Of course, I am conscious of how scared Marshall must have been, but her writing just turned to "listen to me" "me, me, me" that I found myself skipping entire pages. I do realize that a memoir lends itself to lots of "me, me" sentences, but there was a lack of gratefulness towards all the people who supported her - her hubby, her parents, her kids, the medical profession that it really turned me off.

Imagine the poor people who had to go through this same medical event and were not lucky enough to have the sound support system Marshall was lucky enough to have.

I will give her props for writing her story. That took guts. I just wish I could have loved this book and its heroine more.

Monday, December 25, 2017

A year in review

                 You have read 28 of 40 books in 2017

Goodreads tells me that I have read only 28 books out of the 40 that I was hoping to read this year.

That's 70% read, which is not a horrible number, but I would have liked to meet my target.

A few things factored into my reading less this year.  The biggest one being that my travel time to work is now cut in half and since I am on the bus so early in the morning, I feel more like closing my eyes for a few minutes than reading.

The second thing is that I am knitting.  I am an extremely slow knitter and the shawl I started in February is just now completed, which means I will be looking for something else to knit.

The third thing is that I am finding it increasingly more difficult to find good reading material.  I cannot even begin to tell you how many books I started and abandoned after a few boring chapters.  My friends always tell me how "picky" I am and I agree.  I hate (not a strong enough word) anything with dystonia, zombies, fairies, etc., which severely limits the reading selection.

The good news is that the books I did read, for the most part, were excellent!

I am going to participate in the 2018 Goodreads challenge, but I think I may put a more realistic number.

As for 2017, this year has been kind of a "meh" year for me.  Nothing amazing and nothing horrible, which after living the worst years of my life in 2014 and 2015 (and the early part of 2016), I will take.

I don't believe in making new year's resolutions because I never stick to them, but I am continuing to work on the issues I need to work on and hopefully 2018 will be better than just "meh".

I am lucky that I have some important people in my life who have been there for me, through the good and not good.  I am grateful for these people.

Above all else, I will continue to be brave and do things that challenge me - 

Happy 2018 to all.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

REVIEW for The People vs. Alex Cross by James Patterson

A huge thank you to the people at Hachette Book Group Canada for the Advanced Reading Copy of this book.

TITLE:                     The People vs. Alex Cross

AUTHOR:                James Patterson

GENRE:                   Thriller

RATING:                  3 Stars

Love Alex Cross and look forward to reading his ongoing story every year.

Alex is in trouble this time around and is on trial for killing Sonjei's "followers". I have to be honest, this is not one of Patterson's best in the series. For one thing, it takes forever to take off. The first few chapters are boring and with Alex being on the bad side of the law right now, we don't find ourselves in the middle of the action as much as we normally are.

I do like that Patterson chose to put Alex in a less than favorable light in this one, as one of my complaints is that Alex and his family are always to loved, so perfect, so it is nice to see that change in this one.

Patterson still writes way too much about Cross' family life and yes, the kids, Bree and Nana are still amazingly perfect in everyone's eyes. Patterson needs to do something about the way he makes Cross' family so saintly all the time, it just does not sound true and now, Ali, the youngest is becoming the newest superstar. UGH!

Once the action does get going (and it takes a while) the book turns into a thriller and I recognize Cross and all that he brings to the story. Unfortunately, that is only toward the last part of the book, so you need to sludge through the first part to get to the good stuff.

Oh well, I still will continue reading Alex Cross.

Monday, November 13, 2017

REVIEW for The Bookshop Diaries by Andy Vines

TITLE:            The Bookshop Diaries

AUTHOR:       Andy Vines

GENRE:           Memoir


A book about books in a bookshop, what else can I ask for?  Very, very quick read with random thoughts on what happens in a bookshop.  Cute, could be interesting, but these random bits don't really gel to form a story that will make it easier to picture the bookstore or the customers.

Monday, October 16, 2017

REVIEW for The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell

TITLE:                 The Diary of a Bookseller

AUTHOR:           Shaun Bythell

GENRE:              Non fiction -memoir

RATING:            4 Stars

Ultimately this was a hard book to rate. There were some great parts and some that, in my opinion, needed work.

I owned a used bookshop for 5 years and reading this book brought back some memories - most of them excellent. I loved, loved, the diary entries related to the customers and for some reason, bookshops do attract some of the quirkiest people.

I also thoroughly enjoyed Bythell's description of his shop and the books in it. I could actually imagine it all in my eye and he did an amazing job with this. 

It felt as though the book was too short and I could have continued reading endless entries, had he decided to document more of his years in the shop. 

For this part this book definitely gets 5 stars.

However, there were a few things that were not clear in his entries and maybe I am being too picky, but if you are going to note how many online orders you receive and fulfill, then you should also note how much money they brought in. At the end of all of his entries, Bythell notes the amount of money he made for the day, but for some reason, excludes his online sales. I would also like to have seen a total for how much the shop brough in every day versus how much he spent each day buying books. Either put complete information in the entries or put nothing at all.

Having said all of this and the reason I struggled with the rating was the fact that there is absolutely no emotion in these entries - nothing. As a former bookshop owner, I can tell you that there was alot of stuff going on in my store and most of it brought some kind of emotion. The feeling you get when someone brings in a box of books - with that possibility of discovering a treasure. The stories you hear from customers about their lives, the ups and downs financially of owning a business. NONE of this is present in this book and it left a hole for me. The author details some of his personal life in the entries and does so without any emotion, be it with his "girlfriend", his parents, regular customers. It seriously removed the fun for me.

Also, where and how did he manage to do all the activities he did from a financial point of view? especially in the winter months where the shop was bringing in less than $50.00 a day - how do you buy a new van? stay at a hotel? hire several people to work in your shop while you go fishing? buy lots of books for serious bucks? I don't get it and it is absolutely not explained. Yes, I agree that this is not our "business" but if you are going to write this type of book, it needs to make sense and the reader needs to understand how this type of business works.

Overall, this was a good read, but it left me with a lot of questions.

I also loved the irony of how Bythell writes often about shooting a Kindle (yep, literally) obviously despising them - yet his book was available on Kindle!
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