Category Archives: review

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?”



“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!


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!


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


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 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!

Book Beginnings and Friday 56 – Optimists Die First (May 26)

For this week’s Friday meme combo I have chosen a book I recently received from LibraryThing for review, Optimists Die First by Susan Nielsen. I also received her previous book for review and enjoyed that one, so I’m looking forward to getting into this one soon. GoodReads has the following description:

optimists die firstLife ahead: Proceed with caution.

Sixteen-year-old Petula De Wilde is anything but wild. A family tragedy has made her shut herself off from the world. Once a crafting fiend with a happy life, Petula now sees danger in everything, from airplanes to ground beef.

The worst part of her week is her comically lame mandatory art therapy class. She has nothing in common with this small band of teenage misfits, except that they all carry their own burden of guilt.

When Jacob joins their ranks, he seems so normal and confident. Petula wants nothing to do with him, or his prosthetic arm. But when they’re forced to collaborate on a unique school project, she slowly opens up, and he inspires her to face her fears.

Until a hidden truth threatens to derail everything.

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 Optimists Die First:

The first time I saw the Bionic Man I was covered in sparkles.

I don’t remember the first time I saw the Bionic Man, but I’m pretty sure I wasn’t covered in sparkles!

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 Optimists Die First:

I marched over and grabbed the scrapbook from his lap. It was open to my most recent page.

Woman Dies from Minor Cut on Finger

A mother of two contracted necrotizing fasciitis, more commonly known as flesh-eating disease, after receiving a minor paper cut at work…

I’m not sure what kind of scrapbook we are talking about here, but I look forward to finding out soon. I hope to make a start on it this weekend anyway.

WWW Wednesday (May 24)

www-wednesdayWWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Here is what you have to do to participate:

Answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments section the host page for others to look at.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading:

I’m currently reading the above three books, which are:

  1. Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly. One of my book challenges this month is to read a book that was made into a movie. I bought this one round about the time the movie came out, but am only getting around to reading it now. Once I’m finished it I’ll try to check out the movie.
  2. Are You Seeing Me? by Darren Groth. This is one of three books I received from LibraryThing for review, so I need to get on with this one as well.
  3. Grounded: Finding God in the World. A Spiritual Revolution by Diana Butler Bass. I started this one last year and never got it finished. Now that I’m back to it again I’m really enjoying it and should be finished it soon.

Recently Finished:

I finished the above two books during the past week:

  1. You Will Not Have My Hate by Antoine Leiris. I borrowed this little book from the library. It was written by the husband of one of the women killed in the Bataclan Theatre terrorist attack in Paris in late 2015 and is his account of the days following the loss of his wife, and how he will not let what happened cause either himself or their 17 month old son to hate. It was a fairly emotional read, but well worth reading.
  2. Finding God in the Waves: How I Lost My Faith and Found It Again Through Science by Mike McHargue. This was one I had been looking forward to reading for a while and it did not disappoint me. I’ve been listening to a couple of podcasts that Mike is on – ‘Ask Science Mike’ and ‘The Liturgists Podcast’ – for a while now and it was great to finally be able to listen to his story.

Up Next:

I have a couple of review books to get to, as well as a graphic novel I borrowed from the library, so it could be any of them. I’d also like to get into Richard Rohr’s The Divine Dance. So many books and not enough time!

Musing Monday (May 15)


Musing Mondays is a weekly meme, hosted by Ambrosia at The Purple Booker, that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: How do you review your books? Do you review them right away as soon as you finish reading them? Or do you let them wait a bit and do you ever fall behind?

I’ll answer the random question first and then see if I can answer a few of the set prompts.

Random question…

For a while there I wasn’t reviewing any of the books I read, because I got so far behind and discouraged. This year I decided that I should attempt to write a review for every book I read, even if it’s only a few sentences. Because of this I now try to write the review right after I’ve finished reading the book. This way the book is still fairly fresh in my mind and I can keep up with things. I’ve been writing all my reviews on Goodreads. Writing the reviews in this way is working for me so far and I’m keeping up with it very well.

Now for a couple of the other prompts:

I’m currently reading…  Finding God in the Waves: How I Lost My Faith and Found It Again Through Science by Mike McHargue – I’m really enjoying this one and might even get it finished tonight.

I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)… I took part in the SavvyReadathon on Saturday, which ran from 9am-9pm. It was a fun event and I hope to take part in something similar again. I managed 3 books and got about a third of the way through another. I probably would’ve managed more if I hadn’t stopped reading to watch TFC, plus I had to go out and run an errand at one point. If I plan better for the next one I might manage to read more than I did this time. It doesn’t matter too much anyway, as I enjoyed what I managed to get read.

Book review: #struggles by Craig Groeschel

#Struggles: Following Jesus in a Selfie-Centered World#Struggles: Following Jesus in a Selfie-Centered World by Craig Groeschel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

#struggles is the latest book by Craig Groeschel, pastor of and author of a number of other books dealing with issues faced by followers of Christ in the world today. The book is a candid and critical look at the way in which the use of social media has impacted and controlled the lives of many people and offers advice on how that can be reversed so that people control it rather than the other way around.

For me personally, this was a very timely book. I have been using a variety of social media platforms for a number of years, but I recently acquired my first smart phone, after having used a very basic flip phone for the past 10 years or so. I used to scoff at the way that people allowed their phones to seemingly control their lives, but have discovered in the past month or so how easily the urge to continually check the phone or use an app on it can take a hold of you.

What I like most about this book is that it is more practical than preachy. Groeschel doesn’t condemn social media and, in fact, points out how it can be used for the good. However, he does point out the many pitfalls and dangers of over-use of social media and some of the ways that it can take over or cause harm to one’s life. I also like the fact that much of the advice he gives is basic common sense and very practical. Having said that, I also appreciated the way in which he backed up much of what he said with Scriptural reference.

The book is set out in eight straight-forward chapters, each dealing with a different aspect of life in connection with the usage of social media, beginning with contentment through to rest, with intimacy, authenticity, compassion, integrity, encouragement, and worship covered in between. In the conclusion, Groeschel shows how one can keep technology in its place, showing how a person should control it rather than the other way around. There are also a couple of very helpful appendices – one being ‘The Ten Commandments of Using Social Media to Grow Your Faith and Share God’s Love’, the other being a helpful section on safeguards that can be put in place if you find that social media is taking you or your family to places you rather would not go.

Overall, I found #struggles to be a fairly helpful guide to a Christian approach to social media. It would probably be a good book to use for a small group setting and could be a good gift for a teen or young adult to help them as they navigate through life and the ever-increasing part of it that is lived online. It’s not a difficult read, is well-written, and could be a very useful tool to have on one’s bookshelf.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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