Friday, October 28, 2011

Bonus Book: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

SPOILER ALERT (but I think most of you have already read these books)


This book, along with the Goblet of Fire, is my least favourite of the Harry Potter books. I still like it, but it's not one of the best. I feel like J. K. Rowling padded this one up too. My copy is starting to fall apart because it's so heavy the spine can't handle all the pages!

I remember when this book came out - I had just moved into my own place and my birthday was a few days away. I used my birthday money to buy the book and spent the weekend inhaling it. I was SOOOOOOOO sad when Sirius died. In fact, I cry every time I read that part.

Harry annoyed me to no end - he was so cranky. I get that it was a combination of hormones, not knowing what was going on and the whispers at school and Voldemort, but hey, he didn't have to be that cranky.

I ended August with Harry Potter, just as I started August...phew. Five sevenths of the way into the series...after writing these, I feel like I need to read the books again. I'm going to try to wait until the new year though!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bonus Book: Sarah's Key

sarah's key

It's time for me to get's now less than a week before the end of October and I still have part of August, all of September and now all of October's books to post.

I saw Sarah's Key ages ago, but the book diet was still being enforced (common theme or what?) I needed a book to keep me entertained when we went to Manning Park for my cousin Amy's wedding and I thought this would be the perfect book to take. Except one evening I picked it up and started reading. And that was the end of that plan. It only took me a couple of nights to devour this book.

I inherited my love of reading from both of my parents, but my strange love of all books World War I and World War II and Holocaust and Russian Revolution I'm going to attribute solely to my mom (my dad introduced me to the Hardy Boys and spy and detective novels and Kathy Reichs and Patricia Cornwell and books of that genre). So this book was definitely on my radar for a while before the book diet ended.

I loved how the first part of the book alternated between the stories of Sarah and Julia and then Julia picked up the whole story and became Sarah's voice. Sarah is a young Jewish girl who locker her young brother in a secret cupboard when the rest of the family is arrested in the Vel d'Hiv. She struggles to survive and return to Paris to save her brother. Julia is an American journalist married to a Parisian who is assigned to cover the 60th anniversary of the Vel d'Hiv, a piece of French World War II history that is seems many know little about.

Julia's investigation into the Vel d'Hiv leads her to Sarah's story and in turn a story of her own.

I really liked this book. I flew through it and I think I will go back and reread (parts) of it. I have this bad habit of reading really quickly and enjoying what I read, but then I can't remember what the story was, or I mix two or three stories together.

Definitely a book I recommend - has anyone else read it?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Help


the help

Oh look, a break from Harry Potter!

I saw The Help a long time ago in the bookstore and read the back and thought, hmmm, I might want to read that. But I was still on the book diet, so I put it down and figured that I'd ask for it for my birthday or borrow it from someone or visit the library. And because there are eighty million books out there to choose from, I promptly forgot about it (that's how excited I was to read it).

Then Alex and I went to a movie. In the movie theatre. And it had trailers. And because we went out like regular grownups, we watched the trailers. And one was for The Help. And I thought, hmmm, I might want to read that.

And then it was my birthday. And then it was summer. And then I was in the bookstore after going out for dinner with Alex the day after being sent home from the emergency room for the second time and we stopped at the bookstore on our way home, as we often do. Weird? Maybe. Maybe not.

And I saw The Help sitting there. And the book diet had been lifted. And I was feeling miserable and pathetic and sorry for myself, so I decided to engage in a little retail therapy. Okay, maybe a lot of retail therapy. And then I came home and a couple of days later all the internets could talk about was The Help (I think maybe because of the movie...but seriously, it felt like two out of every three blogs was talking about The Help)

I enjoyed it. I didn't really get the Gone With the Wind or To Kill A Mockingbird comparisons, but did enjoy the book. I felt like the relationship with Stuart was somewhat underdeveloped and I wanted more about it (not more relationship, just more about his previous relationship and his motivations...)

The end felt a little too contrived for me. It was as if she didn't want to go with a happily ever after ending, so she threw if off a bit, but it didn't feel right...anyone else feel that way?

I would recommend The Help for sure. I will be reading it again, when I get it back from my mom!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

harry potter and the goblet of fire

If Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is possibly my favourite Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is one of my least favourite of the series. This is the book that created all the hype that eventually led to me finally and reluctantly to read the first three books.

But it's too long. There's too much description (I can't believe I just wrote that). I like the plot. I wish there was more Sirius in it, but I understand why there isn't. The descriptions of the tasks are great. But it's too long. I know. I said that already. And it's heavy. I have the hardcover and it's hard to read in bed. And because of the weight, the binding is starting to loosen.

(Yay! I made it to August. I should be caught up by Christmas at this rate!)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Bonus Book: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

harry potter and the prisoner of azkaban

Last July book...This was the last book out when I read the Harry Potter books for the first time. I liked it best of the three. I think I might still like it best...although, except for the last few pages, I liked the Half Blood Prince too.

Once I got back into the Harry Potter books, I just couldn't stop. There were many nights this past summer of going to bed at 10:00 but not turning the lights off until after midnight because I was reading Harry Potter. And I've read the series so many times...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bonus Book: Still Alice

still alice

Still Alice is the story of Alice, a woman in her late 50s who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's. It was well written and easy to read, but so difficult to read too. Lisa Genova did a great a job of making me feel like I was in Alice's head with her...This is another July book that I happened to read this right after The Disappeared and right in the middle of my brain having a temper tantrum. So I had strange dreams about strokes and Alzheimer's and blood clots and ambulances. I did enjoy the book and I felt like it was probably something anyone who knows someone with Alzheimer's should read - I feel like my Alzheimer's empathy quotient has gone up dramatically.

My recommendation? Read this with a box of tissues and be prepared to laugh and cry and feel uncomfortable...sometimes all on the same page...and if your brain is having a temper tantrum? Well, wait until it's calmed down a bit. Just so you don't go nuts (although, I felt like even though my brain and Alzheimer's are two totally different things, the book did give me a little insight into what might be going on in Alex's brain).

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Disappeared

Oh, July book number two, The Disappeared by Kim Echlin, you were tough on me. I read the first half very quickly and then it languished beside my bed. I'd read a couple of pages a night and give up. I'm not sure what it was. I think it started when Anne went to Cambodia and found Serey. You can sense the foreboding from the beginning, but it becomes overwhelming once Anne gets to Cambodia and starts to (she thinks) settle in.

I don't know about this book. I loaned to my sister, so we'll see what she thinks...I finished it during the week that started all the crazy health stuff, so it may have just been the wrong time to be reading this book...

Has anyone else read it?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

31 Dream Street

31 dream street

Oh look, we're into July! This is the book that ended the book diet and all challenge rules pertaining to said book diet. I picked it up for a whole $2 at the big box bookstore one evening. And I read it all the next night.

Lisa Jewell's 31 Dream Street is a typical British chick-lit book. It's set in London and, predictably, it made me homesick. Of course it did. I don't learn! It wasn't horrible, but it also wasn't the best chick-lit I've read recently. I felt like the lives the people in this book were living were more normal and less high-drama than a lot of books. I had trouble keeping the characters in the house straight for the first ten pages or so and then it sorted itself out. It was predictable, but how it got there wasn't. But in the end, the puzzle pieces all fell together.

I liked the use of the letters to set the scene and I liked the quirky characters. There were some I didn't like much and some I really wanted to meet...

It was a good, quick, easy read. Perfect for the beach. Or the couch. I still have it and it's going to get donated unless someone (local) wants it. I think it would be perfect for a wet, rainy, Vancouver Saturday or Sunday. With a cup of hot tea and a little plate of chocolate covered McVities digestives. Yum.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

hp chamber

Okay, so let us go back in time a bit. To June. I finished this book very late at night on June 30 and just barely squeezed in my two books. Harry Potter is my go-to set of books when I get in a reading funk but it took a while to kick in this time...As always, I enjoyed this book. Nothing new or surprising popped out at me, but there is something comforting about a familiar friend!

PS Excuse the horrible photo...