Category Archives: books

Book Beginnings and Friday 56 – The Hate U Give (Jan 26)

the hate u giveFor this week’s combo post I have chosen The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I received a free copy of this earlier this week (I won it as part of a 2017 reading challenge). I haven’t started it yet, but plan to do that tomorrow, as long as I get my current read, Rowan & Eris, finished. I’ve heard a lot of good things about this book, so I’m looking forward to getting it started. GoodReads has the following description:

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Now for this week’s excerpts:

bb-buttonBook Beginnings is hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader, who invites anyone to join in, saying: ‘Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.  Please remember to include the title of the book and the author. Leave a link to your post.  If you don’t have a blog, but want to participate, please leave a comment with your Book Beginning.’

The beginning of The Hate U Give:

I shouldn’t have come to this party.

An interesting start. I wonder why not?

friday-562.jpgThe Friday 56 is a book meme hosted by Freda’s Voice and the rules are as follows:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url.

It’s that simple.

From page 56 of The Hate U Give:

Momma gets up and hugs him. “Thank you.” She walks him down the hall, toward the front door. “Be safe, okay? And text me when you get home.”

“Yes, ma’am. Sounding like our momma,” he teases.

“Whatever. You just better text me—”

“Okay, okay. Good night.”

Sounds like someone better not forget to text! Hopefully I’ll get into this one tomorrow. It sounds like it’ll be a great one anyway.

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Top Ten Tuesday – Great Books I Read…But Can’t Really Remember (Jan 23)

TTT-Big2Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that is hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week a different topic is posted inviting the participants to come up with a list of ten things to do with the topic.

This week’s topic is ‘Books I Really Liked but Can’t Remember Anything/Much About.’ I read a lot of books, but after a while I sometimes forget a lot about them. Some are probably forgettable anyway, but others are great reads. It’s a little frustrating not remembering the ones that I really liked. I’d love to reread some of them at some point, but with an ever-growing TBR pile this is not always possible. Anyway, here are ten books that I know I really enjoyed at the time, but sad to say can’t remember enough about:

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  1. London: The Novel – Edward Rutherfurd
  2. Tuesdays with Morrie – Mitch Albom
  3. The Man Who Was Thursday – G.K. Chesterton
  4. The Samurai – Shusaku Endo
  5. How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization – Franklin Foer
  6. How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe’s Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything in It
    – Arthur Herman
  7. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek – Annie Dillard
  8. Enough: Contentment in an Age of Excess – Will Samson
  9. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference – Malcolm Gladwell
  10. Red Moon Rising: How 24-7 Prayer Is Awakening a Generation – Pete Greig & Dave Roberts

Book Beginnings and Friday 56 – Rowan & Eris (Jan 19)

Rowan & ErisIt’s about time I did one of these combo posts, so to get going again I’ve chosen ‘Rowan & Eris’ by Campbell Jefferys. I received a review copy of this book from LibraryThing Early Reviewers. I’m almost half-way through it and it’s quite enjoyable so far. GoodReads hs the following description:

It’s a simple story, a journey, a search, a pursuit. There is a man from Perth, an American woman, their daughter. The woman is intent on creating chaos wherever she goes, through urban art, and her work extends to creating chaos in her own life by having a daughter. The man is intent on finding his daughter and in doing so finds himself and the songs inside him. It’s a road trip novel, starting in Perth, Australia, and traversing America, Canada and Europe. It is also a meditation on art, creativity, success, growing up and taking responsibility.

On to this week’s excerpts:

bb-buttonBook Beginnings is hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader, who invites anyone to join in, saying: ‘Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.  Please remember to include the title of the book and the author. Leave a link to your post.  If you don’t have a blog, but want to participate, please leave a comment with your Book Beginning.’

The beginning of Rowan & Eris:

It’s early in the morning, and a slither of winter sun is coming through the curtains, painting a thin yellow streak on the wall that stays the same width, but gradually grows brighter.

I like this very descriptive beginning, although it gives very little away.

friday-562.jpgThe Friday 56 is a book meme hosted by Freda’s Voice and the rules are as follows:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url.

It’s that simple.

From page 56 of Rowan & Eris:

“How tall are you?” he asked, turning another page.

I remembered how Nola had said it: “Six-six.”

“You play basketball?”

“No.”

“Volleyball?”

“I’m all height and no coordination.”

This little conversation made me chuckle. Not all tall people are good at sports, I guess. I have very little planned for tomorrow, so I’m hoping to get the rest of this one read then. I have quite a pile of other books that I need to get into soon as well. The TBR pile never gets smaller!

Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts (Jan 17)

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‘Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts’ is hosted by Christine at Bookishly Boisterous. It’s just a round-up of bookish and other things from the previous week or so. Share a link there if you want to participate.

1. It’s a New Year and so far so good. I posted a few thoughts at the start of the year about my goals and they are going well. I’ll keep revisiting it from time to time and see how I’m getting on.

2. I signed up for a bunch of reading challenges again this year and am looking forward to getting some diverse reading done this year. I also pledged to read 75 books at GoodReads and the 50 Book Pledge.

3. The above picture is some free book mail I received today. The Shane Peacock book is from Early Reviewers at LibraryThing. The other two are a couple I won through one of last year’s reading challenges (Full House Reading Challenge 2017). I’m waiting on another one to come from that challenge.

4. Our Christmas was fairly quiet, once the crazy busyness of our work was over. Our daughter was home from university for a couple of weeks, which was great. We didn’t do much or go far, but stayed in and watched a few movies, caught up on some TV, did some reading, and played a few board games. It was a nice relaxing time anyway.

5. I’m still keeping up with my bookstagram stuff on Instagram. I enjoy joining monthly challenges there and playing along with some of the tags. I’ve made some new ‘friends’ and met some interesting people.

6. Thanks to one of my friends in Elliot Lake I got a couple of free tickets for a Leafs game last month. So my son and I got to see the Leafs beat the Sharks in a shootout at the start of the month. It was an exciting evening.

7. I’m looking for something to binge watch on Netflix now that I’ve finished Stranger Things and This Is Us. I started watching Friends, as I have never ever watched an episode of it before. It seems to be OK, but I’m thinking of binging on Fargo next, as it is back on Netflix in Canada again. There’s also a bunch of movies that have been added that I might need to check out. Speaking of movies, we went to the theatre during the week between Christmas and New Year to see The Last Jedi. I wasn’t disappointed.

Top Ten Tuesday – 2018 Bookish Resolutions/Goals (Jan 16)

TTT-Big2Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that was formerly hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. It is now being hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week a different topic is posted inviting the participants to come up with a list of ten things to do with the topic.

This week’s topic is ‘Bookish Resolutions/Goals’. Obviously I enjoy reading, but I also like to challenge myself each year by setting a few goals and signing up for some challenges. Some of these are easy to do and help me keep on track, whereas others sometimes take me out of my comfort zone and stretch me a bit, which isn’t a bad thing. Here are some of the reading goals I set for 2018:

1. Read at least 75 books. This is the same goal  I set for last year and I surpassed it by 2 books. I thought about increasing it this year, but in the end decided that 75 is a good number.

2. Write better reviews. One thing I started last year, which was fairly successful, was that I decided to write a short review on GoodReads of every book I read. Some of these were very short and said very little. So, this is something to work on.

3. Take my TBR lists more seriously. At various points during the year I share my TBR lists, but more often than not many of the books on these lists end up not being read. This year I’d like to think that I could read at least 75% of the books on these list. Otherwise, what is the point of compiling them.

4. Read the books I borrow from the library. At a rough estimate, I probably read about a quarter of the books I borrow from the library. Either I need to read more of the books I borrow or cut back on the number I take out.

5. Finally read ‘In the First Circle’. I have owned In the First Circle, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, for about 8 years. Each year since I bought it I have put it on TBR lists and vowed that this would be the year I read it. It seems quite intimidating, but I’m determined that this will be the year it finally gets read.

6. Keep up with my reading challenges. Last year I got behind with my challenges and managed to only complete 3 out of 4 that I signed up for. This isn’t the end of the world, but I’d like to be able to keep up with them better this year. It was mad dash in December to try and finish them all and I don’t want that to happen this year.

7. Read more of the books that I own. Like many book lovers, I buy more books than I read. Although I’ll probably never realistically get all my books read, I need to take a look at my shelves and try to read some of the ones that have been unread there for too long.

8. Only request review books that I am going to read. There are so many places out there to get free review books that it can be tempting to over request. This year I need to not be tempted so much, although I won’t stop requesting altogether.

9. Read more of my Penguin Classics. I collect Penguin books, but often I never get round to reading many of them. A few years ago I received the 80 Penguin Little Black Classics as a gift. So far I have only read 9 of them. This year I’d like to try and read at least one of them a month. I also need to look at my Penguin shelf and pick a few out to read.

10. Enjoy reading. This is probably the most important goal on this list. There’s no point in reading if it’s not enjoyable, so I need to make sure that in the midst of all the challenges and goal I have lots of fun along the way. Happy reading!

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Top Ten Tuesday – Books I Meant to Read in 2017, But Never Did (Jan 9)

toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a different topic is posted inviting the participants to come up with a list of ten things to do with the topic.

This week’s topic is ‘Ten Books We Meant To Read In 2017 But Didn’t Get To (and totally plan to get to in 2018!!)’ All of the following books appeared on at least one of my many TBR lists last year. I managed to start a few of them, but none of them were anywhere near finished! I’d like to think that I’d manage to get them read this year, but I hope I haven’t cursed them by putting them on another list like this!

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  1. The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto – Mitch Albom. I’ve had this one for a couple of years or more and enjoyed all his other books, so I’m not sure why I’ve left this one unread for so long.
  2. Sacred Reading: The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina – Michael Casey. It’s over three years since I purchased this book about lectio divina. I really looked forward to reading it at the time, but it still remains unread.
  3. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay – J.K. Rowling. I got this round about the time the movie came out. I loved the movie, but haven’t picked this up yet. I’m sure it wouldn’t be a long read. Maybe I’ll save it for this year’s Savvy Readathon.
  4. The Complete Robot – Isaac Asimov. I started reading this one, was enjoying it, then got distracted by other books. The fact that it is a collection of short stories means that I’ll be able to pick up easily from where I left off.
  5. A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-18 – Joseph Loconte. I received this one a couple of Christmas’s ago and had great intentions of quickly getting into it. Hopefully I’ll do just that soon, especially as it’s a book about two of my favourite writers.
  6. Convictions Matter: The Function of Salvation Army Doctrines – Ray Harris. I’ve started this one a couple of times, but on each occasion I’ve never gotten that far. This will be the year that I keep on going!
  7. The Drawing of the Three (The Dark Tower #2) – Stephen King. I read The Gunslinger earlier on last year with the intention of at least reading this book, the second Dark Tower book, before the end of the year. I’d even thought I might get round to book three. Lots of people have told me it’s a great series, so I need to try and get on with reading more of it.
  8. In the First Circle – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. I’ve written about my failure to read this on a fair number of occasions. I’m determined to get it read this year.
  9. Bradbury Speaks: Too Soon from the Cave, Too Far from the Stars – Ray Bradbury. This collection of autobiographical essays has sat unread on my shelf for too long. I know it’s one that I’ll enjoy, so I need to read it soon.
  10. Outlander – Diana Gabaldon. I promised my wife that I’d read this one, so I started it last summer. I got to about page 100 and neglected to finish it. I’m not sure why, because I was kind of enjoying it. I’ll try to get back to it soon, although when I do I may have to restart it. I’ll see how much of what I read I can actually remember!

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The Year Ahead (2018)

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Today I was looking at the post I wrote last year outlining some of my goals for 2017 and wondering how I could come up with one for this year. I probably did better than I realize on some of the things there, but there are some I still have to work on. Maybe I’ll revisit some of those things in another post.

As I was looking for a quote about New Year, goals, resolutions, etc. I came across the above list and decided I might use it as the basis for this year’s goals post. I’ll list each point below, with a few points how I can achieve them.

this year…

Break a Bad Habit – I didn’t really have to think much about this one as I’ve been talking about this for the past couple of days. Generally, I tend to be quite cynical at times, which can lead to quite a negative attitude. This often rears its ugly head when I’m talking about stuff connected with my work. So, I have decided this is something that needs to change for both the sake of myself and those I interact with. From this point forward I will endeavour to see the good in my situation at any given time and if there is something that is not good to approach it in a more constructive than destructive manner.

Learn a New Skill – One of the things I received for Christmas was a $50 gift card for Michaels. For those of you who don’t know, this is an arts and crafts store. I haven’t fully decided what I’m going to do with this card yet, but it may inspire me to take up a new skill or hobby. Watch this space.

Do a Good Deed – Hopefully I’ll manage more than one good deed this year!

Visit a New Place – I’d really love to visit Iceland, but I don’t see that happening this year, unfortunately. It will happen some time, though. However, having said this, there are lots of places in Ontario that I have never visited yet, so I’ll see if there are a few I can get to this year.

Read a Difficult Book – It’s kind of obvious to anyone who knows me that I love to read. There are a few books on my shelves that I’ve avoided over the years because I’ve looked at them and decided that they are too difficult. So, I’ve left them unread there. One book that I seem to have avoided for so long because of this is In the First Circle by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. I have started it a couple of times and each time have ended up abandoning it. It’s a fairly large book, with a long list of characters (listed in a number of pages at the start of the book) who have long Russian names, which is probably why I have given it up each time I have tried to read it. I think it would be worth reading and it intrigues me greatly, so perhaps 2018 might be the year I finally get over my fears and read it through to the end.

Write and Send a Letter – I haven’t written a ‘real’ letter for many years. For sure I write emails quite often, but that’s not really the same thing. Maybe I’ll try and write and send at least one letter each month this year. It’s something I used to do quite often, so I’ll see how it goes.

Try a New Food – I have been a vegetarian for almost nine years, but I’m sure there is something out there that I’ve never tried before. This one could be fun or disastrous. Nothing different comes to mind right now, but I’ll research it and see what I can come up with.

Take a Risk – As I’ve gotten older I seem to have lost the desire to take risks. Perhaps I need to reevaluate this aspect of my life, because I could be missing out on something exciting. I’m not sure exactly where to take this one, but I’ll start thinking about it anyway.

So, there you go – eight different tasks for the year ahead. Feel free at any time to challenge me on any of these things. Some of them seem easier than others, but they all need some kind of effort on my behalf or they won’t happen. What goals, if any, have you set for yourself this year?

Another year has come and gone

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Hello to 2018 and farewell to 2017. Last year wasn’t a bad year. It had its moments, but on the whole it was a decent one. In some ways it was a year of change for us, but in other ways there were many constants in our life as well.

The biggest change for us was our daughter leaving home and starting university. Thankfully she is only about an hour away, but it was still something to adjust to. She seems to have settled in well and is getting on fine there. With her not being too far away we see her fairy often and she has been home for the holidays these past couple of weeks, which has been great. Other than that, not much else has changed in our lives.

I was looking over my goals for last year earlier today and was surprised that I actually made not too bad progress on most of them. I actually managed to complete most of my reading challenges, which I’m quite pleased about. There was only one that I didn’t complete, but it was one that I wasn’t too bothered about anyway.

I still haven’t fully worked out my goals for 2018 yet, but hope to get them finalized in the next couple of days. I have pledged to read 75 books again and have signed up to do this at both GoodReads and the 50 Book Pledge. I’m also hoping to sing up for two or three individual book challenges as well, but haven’t worked these out fully yet.

Once I’ve worked out my personal goals and my book challenges I’ll post about them here. In the meantime, Happy New Year. May 2018 be a great year for you.

Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts (Dec 27)

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It’s been over two months since I did one of these. Time really must fly when you’re having fun, or maybe the last couple of months have just been too busy! ‘Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts’ is hosted by Christine at Bookishly Boisterous. It’s just a round-up of bookish and other things from the previous week or so. Share a link there if you want to participate.

1. We survived another busy lead-up to Christmas. With all the busyness, and stress that goes with it, each year where I work, I usually end up feeling fried by the time the 25th comes around. This often ends up in me feeling that my family have been cheated somehow. This year I was determined not to allow things to get to me, especially with things that I have no control over. It seemed to work and the last few days have been more relaxed than in previous years.

2. For a little while there in the fall I thought that I was going to fall flat on most of my reading challenges. I got over the slump and got back on track. I reached my target of 75 on the 50 Book Pledge with time to spare, and I completed two of my other four challenges, with the chance that I may still finish at least one of the other two. The one that I might not finish is the Mount TBR challenge, which I’m not that worried about. I am now trying to work out which challenges I’m going to enter in 2018.

3. For a change this year I gave my family a Christmas wish list of books from bookoutlet.ca to choose from. I was surprised by receiving nine of them on Christmas morning. I’m looking forward to getting stuck into them soon. I also received a $50 gift card for Chapters/Indigo, which I’ll get around to spending eventually.

4. Since I last did one of these posts I enjoyed watching two Toronto sports teams win their respective championships. First there was the Argos winning the Grey Cup at the end of November on a very snowy night in Ottawa. This was followed by TFC winning the MLS Cup a couple of weeks later. Her’s hoping the Leafs can go deeper in the Stanley Cup play-offs this year. Speaking of the Leafs, I have a couple of tickets for their game against the Sharks next Thursday, courtesy of a kind friend of ours from up north.

5. I seem to have watched a ton of movies this year, close to 120 movies at this point.  I still have to see the new Star Wars movie and have been trying to avoid any spoilers on social media. We are hoping to see it yet before the end of the year. As far as TV goes, I did manage to watch Stranger Things 2, which was awesome, and have binge-watched half of the first season of This Is Us on Netflix, which has been a lot better than I thought it would be. I started watching The Mist, but gave up on it as I found it to be too disappointing.

6. I haven’t done much blogging this year and at one point considered closing down this blog altogether. Maybe in 2018 I’ll try to get some inspiration and post here more often. One bonus in 2017 was that I wrote a small review on GoodReads of every book that I read.

7. Overall, 2017 hasn’t been a bad year. There have been some highs and some lows, but I think the highs outscored the lows. Our daughter left home to start university and seems to have settled in well. It’s been great having her home for the holidays. She’ll be returning to university next week, but at least she is only about an hour away. Work has brought some challenges, but we have been here over two years now and are starting to find our groove.

Here’s hoping that 2018 will be a good year and, if you have made it this far, I wish you a Happy New Year too!

Top Ten Tuesday – Favourite 2017 Reads (Dec 12)

toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a different topic is posted inviting the participants to come up with a list of ten things to do with the topic.

This week’s topic is ‘Top Ten Favorite Books of 2017’. The following, in no particular order, are the ten books I enjoyed the most (so far) this year, but I still haven’t decided which one was the best:

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  1. Wenjack – Joseph Boyden
  2. Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World – Henri J.M. Nouwen
  3. 84, Charing Cross Road – Helene Hanff
  4. Letters from Father Christmas – J.R.R. Tolkien
  5. How to Be Here: A Guide to Creating a Life Worth Living – Rob Bell
  6. Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love So Much More – Janet Mock
  7. Finding God in the Waves: How I Lost My Faith and Found It Again Through Science – Mike McHargue
  8. Rescuing Jesus: How People of Color, Women, and Queer Christians are Reclaiming Evangelicalism – Deborah Jian Lee
  9. The Marvels – Brian Selznick
  10. The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins
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