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!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Mom and Me Mondays: Ghosts of the Titanic by Julie Lawson

Ghosts of the Titanic
by Julie Lawson
Scholastic Canada, Ltd
ISBN: 978-1-4431-0041-0
Publication Date:  March 1, 2011
Suggested Age: 9-12 (Or for Titanic obsessed mommies)
Purchase from Indiogo

Description: A teenage boy finds himself caught up in a century-old mystery aboard the Titanic! Kevin and his family are en-route to Halifax to check out a house they have mysteriously inherited from a man named Angus Seaton -- mysterious because none of them have any clue who he was or why they would be named in his will. While at the house, Kevin does his own investigating and discovers some old artifacts hidden behind a wall, including enigmatic photographs dating back to 1911, which show a young woman and her baby. This puzzling discovery leads to troubling dreams for Kevin -- haunting dreams and a voice that plagues him, a voice he cannot escape. Someone -- somewhere -- needs his help. One night he tries to answer the call, and finds himself in another reality, another time, in a flooded corridor... ...aboard the ship Titanic. In this ghostly new mystery by award-winning writer Julie Lawson, the terror, anxiety and reality of the sinking of the Titanic comes to life, as a teenage boy tries to right the wrongs of the past and put some troubled souls to rest

Jake's Review:  DNF - Too scary for me. BTW, Mom you really have a weird fascination for that ship.  Guys my Mom got me a Titanic model and she used to sing me the Titanic song all the time and wonders why I don't like swimming. And FYI don't ever get her started on that "travesty of an animated movie where all the Titanic passengers are saved" -- she won't shut up for hours about that!
Jake's Rating: N/A

Mom's Review: I should have known better than to try and give Jake a ghost story to review, but Mommy likes stories about the Titanic and wanted to get her boy interested too.  I did read some chapters to him that didn't have to do with Ghosts and he was interested, so I will be keeping this for him for the future.  So if anyone has some suggestions on how I can get my 9 yr old to be less scared of things, I would be very interested and maybe willing to give out books to those with some helpful suggestions.  Anyways, back to the review.  I really enjoyed this one (no shock as I adore pretty much anything to do with the Titanic) and would recommend it as a great book for a classroom or school library. I think it would be a great opener for teachers or teacher librarians to discuss quite a few topics in relation to the Titanic disaster.  The book is obviously well researched and written in a way where kids I think will become interested in finding out more about the tragedy.  The storyline itself is interesting even if you have no real interest in the Titanic disaster itself.  The relationship between Kevin and his family  is very realistic and will appeal to kids who just don't know where they fit it.  That being said I really disliked Kevin's dad and thought he was a big dufus (not quite the word I would normally use -- but I like to be a little less colourful when reviewing books that are meant for middle school kids). Also as a Canadian -- I love the fact that it is set in Canada and mentions quite a few Canadian facts and history. Also there is some information about the 1917 Halifax explosion which is something I know very little about -- well except for what I learned from the Historica Minute spots from TV.

Mom's Rating: 8.5/10


We received this from Scholastic in exchange for an honest review

Thursday, February 24, 2011

She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth by Helen Castor: Book Review

She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth
Helen Castor
HarperCollins
ISBN: 978-0-06-143076-3
Release Date: February 21, 2011
Purchase from Indigo

Description: When Edward VI - Henry VIII’s longed-for son - died in 1553, extraordinarily, there was no one left to claim the title King of England. For the first time, all the contenders for the crown were female. In 1553, England was about to experience the ‘monstrous regiment’ - the unnatural rule - of a woman. But female rule in England also had a past. Four hundred years before Edward’s death, Matilda, daughter of Henry I and granddaughter of William the Conquerer, came tantalisingly close to securing her hold on the power of the crown. And between the 12th and the 15th centuries three more exceptional women - Eleanor of Aquitaine, Isabella of France, and Margaret of Anjou - discovered, as queens consort and dowager, how much was possible if the presumptions of male rule were not confronted so explicitly.

The stories of these women - told here in all their vivid humanity - illustrate the paradox which the female heirs to the Tudor throne had no choice but to negotiate. Man was the head of woman; and the king was the head of all. How, then, could a woman be king, how could royal power lie in female hands?

The Good Stuff
  • Wonderfully  well researched
  • Fascinating historical information
  • Learned a lot about Matilda, that I had never known before. Ok most of the stuff I "know" about her came from the novel Pillars of the Earth
  • Powerful women taking charge and flouting male authority
  • Insightful commentary on both modern and historical female figures
  • Extremely thorough in historical detail
The Not so Good Stuff
  • Way too scholarly for day to day reading, but a great text for historical information, written in a fascinating way
  • Very, very dry at times and a little confusing
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"I know I have the body of a weak and feeble women, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too - Queen Elizabeth 1, 1588"

What I Learned


  • Fascinating  historical information of lesser known female rulers
  • Way too many interesting tidbits about British history to mention
  • I always thought that Henry VIII's son, Edward VI, was a weakling all his life
Who should/shouldn't read
  • This is definitely more for the educated scholar than to someone like me
  • Wonderful resource for high school and public libraries, as it makes history come alive
3 Dewey's

I received this from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review -- sorry guys this one was way over my head

Drinking Closer to Home by Jessica Anya Blau: Book Review

Drinking Closer to Home
by Jessica Anya Blau
HarperPerennial
ISBN: 978-0-06-198402-0
Buy from Indigo 

Description: They say you can never really go home again. Adult siblings Anna, Portia, and Emery are about to discover just how true that is.

From Jessica Anya Blau, critically-acclaimed author of The Summer of Naked Swim Parties, comes a new novel of California, growing up, and learning to love your insane family. Perfect for fans of Jess Walter, Kevin Wilson, and Michael Chabon, Drinking Closer to Home is a poignant and funny exploration of one family's over-the-top eccentricities—a book Ron Tanner calls "heartfelt and hilarious."


The Good Stuff
  • This wasn't my cup of tea guys, but don't let my review affect you too much as she is a fantastic writer, and I have read many fantastic reviews of the book, but I just couldn't get into it
  • Bitingly funny at times
  •  Well written and the story flows nicely told between modern day and flash backs
  • Author is outstanding at making you see the character she is describing, I felt like I really knew the characters even if I didn't like them
  • A extremely realistic portrayal of many families during the 70's
  • Emery is an interesting character and I really felt for him
The Not so Good Stuff
  • The parents are so narcissistic and just bloody awful parents, that they really turned me off from getting into the story.  In fact most of the characters were just genuinely unlikeable, which makes is hard for me personally get into a novel
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"Portia begins speaking for the cat, saying what she believes Maggie Bucks is thinking. Emery, who is sitting at the kitchen table reading the paper, assumes that Portia is giving her a cartoon-like Asian accent because the cast is Siamese."  "What you do here, Connecticut Girl? Smoker Lady no here! Smoker Lady in hospital! You go home now! You go back to Greenwich! I no want you here, Connecticut Girl!"


"The idea that her mother wouldn't have the same occupation as her friends' mothers enraged Anna. Who would have the nerve to give birth to children, move them into a  house and declare that she wasn't going to take care of them? A drug-addicted hippie, Anna decided, that's who."


What I Learned
  • That I was a kid during the 70's and I am so lucky that my parents didn't do any of the shit that these kids useless parents did
Who should/shouldn't read
  •  Not for me or for those with similar reading likes & dislikes
  • Better for a more educated reader who likes something a little more thought provoking
  • Bet ya my sister in law will love it -- we always have opposite reading tastes -- totally love her though!!
  • Please if you think this is something you might like, go for it, the writing is brilliant -- I'm just a simple girl who needs to find someone to really like and cheer for, for me to love
2.75 Dewey's (This is based on my personal experience with the book, not on the quality of the writing, which is exceptional) 

I received this book from HarperPerennial in Exchange for an honest review 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Mom and Me Mondays: What's the Big Idea by Helaine Becker

What's the Big Idea: Inventions That Changed Life on Earth Forever
by Helaine Becker
Illustrated by Steve Attoe
Maple Tree Press
ISBN: 978-1-897349-61-8
Suggested Ages: 6 - 12 (But parents, teachers & librarian will love)

Description: This lively book by an award-winning author brings to life the history of human innovation for young readers. What's the Big Idea? focuses on those inventions that help fulfill people's six basic needs: food, sleep, security, shelter, companionship, and good health. Main spreads feature a specific invention such as the wheel and axle, paper, bicycles, or the Internet. Each one starts with a "What’s the Big Idea?" box that explains the problem the inventors were trying to solve. It answers the pertinent questions: Why this invention and why now? "Fast Facts" and "Big Ideas" sidebars give young readers quick blasts of information reference-style. Twelve special spreads scattered throughout the book highlight either a famous inventor or a specific theme. The "Inventor Biography" spreads profile inventors such as da Vinci, Galileo, and Thomas Edison, and summarize their main inventions. Comic strips deliver an added snippet of information and a humorous punch. Helaine Becker's witty, inventive text and Steve Attoe's wonderfully whimsical art make this a book children can enjoy while they learn

Jake's Review: The pictures are hilarious.  Everything was educational (Mom's love that stuff) but it was a fun way of learning about things. I think this is a good book to give to my teacher, because when  she teaches stuff like this it's really boring.  If her classes were like this book I would pay attention more in class.  Oh yeah and the pictures and some of the words really made me laugh

Jake's Rating: 9/10

Mom's Review:  I love Helaine and I love her books. I don't have to twist Jake's arm to read them and even my book hating hubby likes to look through them. She makes learning fun -- the way it should be.  Her style of writing most importantly appeals to boys & we all know how hard it is to get their attention. The illustrations are delightful. I'm not sure if Helaine has any input into the illustrators, but no matter what books we have read by her -- she always gets an illustrator that gets her humor and puts it into pictures. BTW, I learned tons of stuff too and even my know it all hubby learned some things.  A must have for every library and middle school classroom.

Mom's Rating: 10/10


I won this (and a whole bunch of other Helaine books) from Owl Kids Twitter contest

It's up for the OLA's Silver Birch: Non-Fiction Award

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

OLA SuperConference 2011

Just thought I would do a quick post on the 2011 OLA SuperConference

This year I missed a couple of my sessions because I was having so much fun in the expo, meeting publishers, getting books signed and just hanging with my co-workers


As usual I got to bring home tons of books and fun SWAG

The Sessions

I won't go into much here, as they probably won't be of much interest to you. The session on Millenials was fascinating and I learned a lot about the millennial generation. This is important to us working in the College and University libraries, as these kids are the bulk of our clientele. The speaker, Randy Oldham from the University of Guelph, was also animated and funny which makes a difference since it was my last session of the day.

The  lecture Atom Egoyan gave was fascinating if you are interested in film (which I was) but I found that most people walked out because it was more of a lecture than a plenary session. I liked him though, he had very dry sense of humour and he is super intelligent, but not in that snobby boring way.  I won't lie, I am not a fan of most of his movies, as they deal with unpleasant situations but I do admire his movies. I got a copy of Chloe (Which is a fantastic movie) signed for my hubby and the screenplay of Exotica signed for me. Exotica is a fascinating movie, not sure I really enjoyed it, but I was fascinated by it.


Books and Swag

Signed Books
ARC's 
Various books
Cute swag -- I love the pin the tail on the scaredy
Even More signed books
Various stuff from Friday - check out Divergent one of the best books I have EVER read

Meeting Fun and Fabulous fellow Book Nerds

Seriously guys he's a Straight, talented and handsome Librarian -- they are truly rare

Not Pictured

Penguin Books: Andrea Colquhoun was so much fun to talk to. She was extremely passionate about her job and really knew her books. I got some great suggestions from her and I cannot wait to start reading Matched. Vimala was also really nice but my buddy Natasha was the one that got to talk to her

HarperCollins: Rosalyn (fellow Bolton girl and also member of the Dewey Diva's, Melissa (who introduced me to Divergent, and love her because of it), Jason, Liza

Simon and Schuster: Michelle and her co-worker who were lovely to talk to and didn't comment on the fact that when I met them I was seriously buzzing on caffeine - sorry guys usually not that hyper. They also gave me a copy of Whither which I started this morning and so far it is awesome!

Tundra:Lovely group of women, including Sylvia and the intern at this booth. All fun to talk to and really passionate about their books and extremely helpful

Scholastic: Nikole and Janet whom I finally got to meet in the flesh and they are just as awesome in person. I also talked to 2 other ladies who were really nice and fun but didn't get their names (Sorry!)  They also had Joel at their booth so I will always be grateful to them : )

Random House: Maylin and Lahring were also super nice

AUTHORS

Helanie Becker - I only had a moment of time to chat with her but she is sweet, totally wacky and a huge promoter of literacy - she write books even my hubby will read
Kate Bow - Really nice and friendly
Tom Earle - Funny and says there is hope for Jesse to be a hockey star and a reader - or most likely a future contestant on Wipeout
Lesley Livingston - HILARIOUS!!!! So much fun to talk to and has a great self deprecating sense of humour.
Cyndi Sand-Eveland: Very sweet and funny
Joel Sutherland - Of course he's on my fav's - he's a Librarian too and hubby says I can put him on my freebie five LOL!
Jeremy Tankard - very unusual and fascinating man -- loves his kids - hope your son was ok

And when I got home I got this --- this makes everything else pale in comparison

Jesse
Jake

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Oracle of Stamboul by Michael David Lukas: Book Review

The Oracle of Stamboul
by Michael David Lukas
HarperCollins
ISBN: 978-0-06-203683-4
Published: February 8, 2011

Description: Late in the summer of 1877, a flock of purple-and-white hoopoes suddenly appears over the town of Constanta on the Black Sea, and Eleonora Cohen is ushered into the world by a mysterious pair of Tartar midwives who arrive just minutes before her birth. "They had read the signs, they said: a sea of horses, a conference of birds, the North Star in alignment with the moon. It was a prophecy that their last king had given on his deathwatch." But joy is mixed with tragedy, for Eleonora's mother dies soon after the birth.


Raised by her doting father, Yakob, a carpet merchant, and her stern, resentful stepmother, Ruxandra, Eleonora spends her early years daydreaming and doing housework—until the moment she teaches herself to read, and her father recognizes that she is an extraordinarily gifted child, a prodigy.

When Yakob sets off by boat for Stamboul on business, eight-year-old Eleonora, unable to bear the separation, stows away in one of his trunks. On the shores of the Bosporus, in the house of her father's business partner, Moncef Bey, a new life awaits. Books, backgammon, beautiful dresses and shoes, markets swarming with color and life—the imperial capital overflows with elegance, and mystery. For in the narrow streets of Stamboul—a city at the crossroads of the world—intrigue and gossip are currency, and people are not always what they seem. Eleonora's tutor, an American minister and educator, may be a spy. The kindly though elusive Moncef Bey has a past history of secret societies and political maneuvering. And what is to be made of the eccentric, charming Sultan Abdulhamid II himself, beleaguered by friend and foe alike as his unwieldy, multiethnic empire crumbles?

The Good Stuff
  • A librarian protects his library while other people cower from invaders --that endeared me to the book right away
  • Reminds me of an old fashioned good story but written WITHOUT the over flowery language 
  • I love the look and feel of the actual physical book
  • I am incredibly jealous of the Beys library. The author does such a fantastic job of describing the look and feel of it, that it feels so real to me
  • Obviously the author did his research, and you can really feel his fascination with this period of history and of the land
  • Unusual ending 
  • Fascinating characters
  • I recommend reading this story over a longer period of time instead of reading it through just to find what happens, I think it will be a more enjoyable story this way

The Not so Good Stuff

  • would have liked a map included as I was confused at times where places were
  • A little overly descriptive at times, but that is just my opinion - if you like that you will love this 
  • Extremely slow at times and I think people will put it down because of it
  • I know quite a few people will not like the ending
  • I felt like the history and the land were more important than the actual main character
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"..the library was the only municipal building that survived the Third Division unscathed.  Not because of any special regard for knowledge.  The survival of Constanta's library was due entirely to the bravery of its keeper.  While the rest of the townspeople cowered under their beds or huddled together in basements and closets, the librarian stood boldly on the front steps of his domain, holding a battered copy of Eugene Onegin above his head like a talisman."

"But such is the season. In spite of our best effort to smother its growth, to lie down on the tracks of its progress, life persists. And enduring, it issues a cruel taunt to the memory of death, to memory, and to death."


What I Learned
  • about Hoopoe birds
  • Some fascinating historical information about the Ottoman empire

Who should/shouldn't read
  • Definite for lovers of historical fiction
  • Not for someone who wants a quick paced story, this is something to savor slowly
  • Also I think this would be appreciated by someone more scholarly than I
3.5 Dewey's

TLC Book Tours (For Full Tour Schedule)

Monday, February 14th: Living Read Girl
Monday, February 14th: Life is Short. Read Fast.
Tuesday, February 15th: Melody Likes Books
Wednesday, February 16th: Jenny's Books
Thursday, February 17th: Man of La Book
Thursday, February 17th: Book Sake

About Michael David Lukas

Michael David Lukas has been a Fulbright Scholar in Turkey, a late-shift proofreader in Tel Aviv, and a Rotary Scholar in Tunisia. A graduate of Brown University and the University of Maryland, his writing has been published in the Virginia Quarterly Review, Slate, National Geographic Traveler, and the Georgia Review. He has received scholarships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Squaw Valley Community of Writers, and the Elizabeth George Foundation. He currently lives in Oakland, CA, less than a mile from where he was born. When he isn’t writing, he teaches creative writing to third and fourth graders.
Find out more about Michael at his website.


I received this from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review

Monday, February 14, 2011

Mom and Me Mondays: Scaredy Squirrel has a Birthday Party by Melanie Watt

Scaredy Squirrel Has a Birthday Party
by Melanie Watt
Kids Can Press
ISBN: 978-1-55453-468-5
Suggested Age: Any age can find something to love - I'm 40 and I love it

Description: In the fifth book, Scaredy Squirrel plans his own birthday and surprise!... things get very crowded. Scaredy Squirrel is planning his own birthday party for one ? but despite his detailed plans, things get out of control when the party animals arrive. He's back! Scaredy Squirrel, the loveable worrywart, returns for another nutty adventure. Scaredy never plans big birthday parties. He'd rather celebrate alone quietly in the safety of his nut tree and avoid those pesky party animals (ants, clownfish, ponies and Bigfoot). When all his excessive plans are thrown up in the air like confetti, will Scaredy play dead and cancel? Or will he face the music?

Jake's Review: It was hilarious.  Scaredy always makes me smile and laugh. He is soooooo weird (Mom, what do you mean by isn't that the pot calling the kettle black) but if he was real I would hang out with him.  I hope Melanie keeps writing Scaredy books.  You guys do know that my Mom has TWO Scaredy puppets right. She has one at home for "us" and one at work -- isn't that kind of weird for an old mom -- than again she is a Librarian. I think this is a book everybody would like and it is my favorite so far.

Jake's Rating: 10/10


Mom's Review: My favorite absolutely delightful neurotic squirrel is back again.  As usual the illustrations are adorable. The storyline is wonderfully quirky and beautiful. Trust me if you haven't read Scaredy yet, you are truly missing something. This latest story does not disappoint.  This is a book that the WHOLE family likes, even my little anti-book boy Jesse. You know what, I think I am going to have a Scaredy birthday party this year for Jesse
Caught you reading!


Mom's Rating: 10/10

I bought this at OLA and didn't have to review it -- it's Scaredy I WANTED to get you all addicted to him too


Check out all the Scaredy Extras at: http://www.kidscanpress.com/Canada/Product.aspx?productId=5767
and http://www.kidscanpress.com/Assets/Books/w_ScaredySquirrelHasAB_Party_2095/PDFs/ScaredySquirrelHasAB_Party_2095_storytime.pdf
Also you can be a FAN of Scaredy on Facebook

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Border Vixen by Bertrice Small: Mini Book Review

The Border Vixen (The Border Chronicles #5)
by Bertrice Small
New American Library (Penguin)
ISBN: 978-0-451-23122-2

Description: Dugald Kerr, the laird of Brae Aisir, has lost his male heirs in the raging border wars. He has but one inheritor remaining: a beautiful headstrong graddaughter known as Mad Maggie. There are many eager to wed Maggie, for with her comes the profitable right to exact tolls at a famous safe passage through the border hills, which has been under the protection of the Kerrs for generations.

Keenly aware of the covetous interest in his lands, the laird announces that any man who can outrun, outride, and outfight Mad Maggie will win her and her inheritance. His proposition causes more chaos than resolution, for feisty Maggi'e reputation precedes her, and the one man to take up the challenge is roundly defeated.

But young King James V learns of the laird's problem adn dispatches his cousin Fingal Stewart into the borders to wed the heiress without delay so that the valuable pass may be protected. But the laird insists his conditions be met, and the heated contest of wills between Fin and Maggie brings out the fire in them both. But there are those who will stop at nothing to gain control of Maggie's inheritance - even if it means getting rid of Fingal Stewart, and his border vixen


Mini-Review: Another wildly passionate Bertrice Small historical novel filled with fiery Scottish wenches and strapping border lords. What is not to like. Bertrice has the gift of telling an engrossing tale backed up with historical detail. I own pretty much every book she has ever written, and this latest story doesn't disappoint.  Not as naughty as most of her other stories, but still enough to make you blush. I love her descriptions of the lands, the customs, the foods and most of all the fashions of early 1500's Scotland.  Sort of wish I had been around during that era -- than again, I like my modern conveniences and well quite frankly the ability of women to be able to own property and not just be a breeding mares - I know picky picky. But the fashion is very tempting and quite frankly suit my body type.  If you want a tale for a cold winters night or lounging around on the beach, this here it is.  Now hopefully tonight I will dream of a strapping Scottish lad.

4 Dewey's

I bought my copy from Chapters and nobody paid me crap to put this review up -- but hey I love to promote Bertrice's books. She's a wonderful writer and a truly decent women!

In My Mailbox

For Review

From Random House

Won

From Owlkids on Twitter
From Random Acts of Reading
From Goodreads
From ChickLit Central on Facebook

Saturday, February 12, 2011

How to Raise a Boyfriend by Rebecca Eckler

How to Raise a Boyfriend
by Rebecca Eckler
Doubleday Canada (Random House)
ISBN: 978-0-385-67048-7

Description: Rebecca Eckler shows women everywhere that while they're busy offering not-so-casual advice and reprimands to the men in their life, they've lost sight of an important fact: they're not dating a boyfriend, they're raising a boyfriend.

He wandered away from the checkout, leaving her to cope with an overflowing shopping car. He dashed in front of her to cross a busy intersection without so much as a backwards glance. He forgot — forgot! — to meet her at the airport after a trip. And then an inescapable truth settled in: Rebecca Eckler already had a six-year-old daughter, so what was she doing with a boyfriend who was even worse behaved? There were only two options. Dump the sucker and concentrate on raising her child. Or raise her boyfriend, too.

From making introductions, to offering compliments, to saying you're sorry, boyfriends need to be raised with the same lessons we use on our kids. As Rebecca writes, "If I can raise a child — a smart, kind and polite one — surely I can raise a boyfriend, too."

The Good Stuff
  • Extremely funny at times
  • Self deprecating author, which regular readers of this blog will know I love
  • Before requesting the book for review I had read tons of negative reviews on this book and I think alot of people missed the point about this -- humour -- If you don't have one -- get one!
  • Very wise commentary on the fact that we should stop complaining about some of our men's less than stellar qualities and do something about them (and vise a versa -- us girls also have our own faults to look at) And also that we shouldn't settle with bad behaviour
  • The obvious love for her daughter. BTW, Rebecca I got a polite and well trained 9 yr old boy for your daughter.  I also have a charming 2.5 yr old boy, but he is too much of a tramp like his daddy was and will not be good marriage material until at least 35.
  • Love the advise from "Freud", the man has some very wise advise and some very valid points
  • The Winnie the Pooh quotes are cute
  • Like the clever tactics on Page 80 for shopping with a man
  • Chapter 24 -- also my pet peeve -- but not just men - always look behind you before you let the door close -- just hold it open. It only takes a freakin second!!!!
  • Loved the part about her snoring brother -- I have felt like smothering my man when he snores too
The Not so Good Stuff
  • A little mean spirited at times -- but hey it sounds like many of them deserve it 
  • I know its a small thing, but I really got irritated by the constant mention of "She does my Brazilian Bikini waxes. She knows, Hears, and Sees it All".  All you have to do is mention that once and than in every other chapter just write "Wise Words from Helena". I'm a women, I got it the first time LOL!
  • I have a bad feeling this one is going to get slammed a lot --but guys come on it's funny -- she is not man bashing
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"Okay, I'll admit I was 5 percent asking because I can be a royal nag and jealous bitch. But 95 percent of me was asking because I was genuinely interested in what he got up to."


"Actually, I have pretty good relationships with my exes, in the sense that because I'm no longer with them, they don't annoy me so much.)


"And I'm her role model. I just know by the time she starts dating, the man in my life will be consistently achieving at or above the expected level. I expect no less for me, and certainly no less for my daughter."
 
What I Learned
  • I've got a pretty good hubby, although he definitely could use some remedial courses.  I guess I am a pretty lucky women
  • That as a women I take the compromising thing a little too far
  • Wow I am far too passive aggressive
Who should/shouldn't read
  • I don't think I am going out on a limb when I say, most men will not enjoy this
  • Unfortunately, I don't think this book will be for everybody. I can see quite a bit of negative press from those who don't get her sense of humour or some of her very valid points. 
3.75 Dewey's

I received this from Random House in exchange for an honest review. BTW, I have read tons of stuff from Rebecca. She is tremendously funny - I recommend that you pick up Wiped by her

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Mental Floss History of the United States by Erik Sass with Will Pearson and Mangesh Hattikudur: Book Review

The Mental Floss History of the United States
by Erik Sass (with Will Pearson and Mangesh Hattikudur)
HarperCollins
ISBN: 978-0-06-192822-2

Description: Smarter than a history teacher, funnier than the Founding Fathers, and more American than Alaska, an almost (but not entirely) comprehensive primer on American history (or at least, the good stuff)

In trademark smart aleck style, this is history according to mental_floss, an insightfully accurate and incisively humorous exploration of little-known truths and widely believed falsehoods, which simultaneously exposes some of America's oddest moments, strangest citizens, most egregious frauds, and much, much more.

Ten meaty chapters, peppered with fun trivia, entertainingly cover the essential timeline of the social, political, and cultural happenings of American history and mythbust all the lies teachers told us along the way. Was Abraham Lincoln really a heroic defender of liberty and freedom? Were the Sixties actually a groovy time of peace and love? Has the U.S. always been dependent on foreign oil? mental_floss sets the record straight and shares the fascinating stories behind politics, literature, fashion, televangelism, serial killers, genetic engineering, Yuppies, SPAM, the original Swine Flu, potato chips, rollerskating, mobsters, rum, communists, beaver wars, the rise and fall of irony, and everything else made in the U.S.A.
 
The Good Stuff

  • American historical information written in an easy to read and understand format
  • Funny as Hell, but also sensitively written at times
  • You can see they have a love for their country, but at the same time admitting its faults and some of its less than stellar historical moments
  • Wonderful explanation about "indentured service"
  • The titles of the paragraphs are hilarious and often bang on!
  • Really enjoyed the paragraph on the War of 1812, but would have liked more information but than again, it must be a little bit of a sensitive subject to the Americans.  It reminded me of my favorite quote from Due South. And before I put this quote in, I love Americans, its just that Canadians usually think that we are the little brother and the US is our big brother so anytime we can get a shot in we do. "which makes the border between Canada and the United States the longest undefended border in the world. So that since their formation, our countries have found a peaceful way to coexist. Except for the War of 1812, where your country invaded ours and we sent you packing - but that's hardly worth mentioning - Due South January 2003)"
  • This is a must have for every library
  • Let me also say if every history teacher taught history a little more like this book, you would have a lot more students interested in it.  History if fun and fascinating kids, but most of my history teachers bored the crap out of me and made me hate history class -- except for you Mr Shore and Mr Linton - u guys rocked!
The Not so Good Stuff
  • lots of slagging of the Brits
  • I know its a picky thing, but the font is seriously small -- but hey I'm a 40 yr old women, the eyesight ain't what it used to be
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"By the time they arrived in America, the English were masters at screwing their subjects (See: Ireland)"

"Even though the last American invasion of Canada during the Revolutionary War had been soundly defeated, the Americans decided to try again.  They would liberate Canada from British rule, whether Canada liked it or not - and in fact, Canada did not like it, putting up a fierce resistance."

"People who maintain that the 1960's were groovy and mellow was either so addled with drugs they didn't notice what was going on, or so fried that they forgot about it later.  The sixties brought violent upheaval, including assassinations, domestic terrorism by the KKK and crazy left-wing groups, clashes between anti-war protesters and police, and race riots that left hundreds dead. Not exactly "groovy."


What I Learned
  • Way too much historical information about the US to list
  • About a lot of misconceptions about certain historical events and figures -- interesting about the background to the Alamo
Who should/shouldn't read
  • Not for "serious" history readers
  • Great for Canadian's with a lack of knowledge and misconceptions about the US, its historical events and its historical figures
  • A wonderful beginning history book for US students or those students who might find history boring -- this book is great at making it all sound interesting and exciting
  • I'm pretty sure my British pals will not be huge fans
  • A must have for every library -- think I might suggest purchase for Humber
4.5 Dewey's

I received this from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review & they should not be held responsible for the quote I put in from Due South -- I love you guys in the U.S. and I know you will definitely save our asses in case of a killer asteroid, alien attack or massive blizzard : )

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Plain Kate by Erin Bow: Book Review

Plain Kate
Erin Bow
Scholastic
ISBN 978-0-545-16664-5
Suggested Ages: 12 and up


Description: Plain Kate lives in a world of magic and curses, where cats can talk and shadows can bring back the dead. As the wood-carver’s daughter, Kate held a carving knife before a spoon, and her wooden talismans seem to reveal hidden truths about their owners. But she and her village have fallen on hard times: Kate’s father dies, crops fail, and a strange sickness is spreading across the countryside. The village is looking for someone to blame, and for her skill with a knife, Kate is accused of witchcraft. Enter Linay, a stranger with a proposition: If Kate gives him her shadow, he’ll grant her heart’s wish, and he’ll also find a way for her to escape the angry townspeople. Kate reluctantly agrees, not realizing that she’s given a powerful tool to a man driven mad with grief. Aided by new friends and armed with the carving knife that has never failed to show her the truth, Kate must stop Linay in his terrible plan of revenge and become the heroine she knows is within her.

The Good Stuff

  • Well crafted, beautifully written and unusual storyline
  • You'll need a hanky near the end, especially if you are a big baby like me
  • The author truly understand the haughty arrogance of cats and you can pretty much tell the author is a cat lover
  • I love the cat!
  • Kate is a very unusual and strong girl, I didn't like her at first, but I grew to love her.
  • Cover is spectacular
  • A truly unique story, I can honestly say I haven't read anything quite like it before
  • Some nice dry humour added just when it is needed
  • Ok, one more time, I love that cat!
  • Very realistic secondary characters.
  •   No stereotypical bad guy, you can somewhat understand the choices the villains make
  • Hopeful ending
The Not so Good Stuff
  • a little bit of a downer at times
  • took me a little bit of time to get into it, but once I did I was happy that I did
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"He turned - stepping on her spleen - and sat. "I am sorry," he said. "I don't like it. It is a new word, sorry. It should not be a thing for cats."


"And then, because hope will break the hear better than any sorrow, she started to cry."


"Musssssicians,' the cat spat. "Do you know what fiddle strings are made of? Bah! I'm glad he's gone. Let's eat."


What I Learned
  • That I too am a Cat lover -- ok, I knew that already "Cat's rule, dog's drool"
Who should/shouldn't read
  • Fans of Hunger Games and other dystopian YA literature will love
  • I'm just guessing but serious dog lovers might be offended ; )
  • Not for those who like a light hearted story
  • Honestly, I also think fans of Philip Pullmans will find something to enjoy
4 Dewey's
BTW It was nominated for a CBC Bookie Award, go vote for it if you are interested!  - http://www.cbc.ca/books/bookclub/2011/02/the-first-round-of-bookies-voting-begins.html
I received this from Scholastic in exchange for an honest review and I got my copy signed at the OLA conference. She was really nice to chat with too : )

Monday, February 7, 2011

Winners of the Try Something New Contest

Sorry this is so late guys! First we had a snowday on Wednesday so I was busy with my kiddies all day and too exhausted to do any computer work after hubby got home. Than I was at the OLA conference on Thursday and Friday and than we got hit with snow again on the weekend so we just played all day outside. To top it off it was also our 17yr Wedding Anniversary -- I know excuses, excuses.

Well since you waited so long here are the winners.  Also since hubby won't buy me a new bookcase I have also decided to send 3 of you my gently used copies of the titles

All winners were chosen through random.org

1st  -
vicky weiss who will get a copy of Don't Be Afraid

2nd

stacybuckeye who will get Everything Is Going to be Great

3rd

buddyt who will get Motorcycles and Sweetgrass

The bonus books (gently used) are going to

Mary Ellen Thompson - Book of Tomorrow
Vampires and Tofu- The Atheists Guide to Christmas
hense1kk - Incendiary

I will be emailing you all and you have 72 hours to reply or I have to pick another winner

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson: Mini Book Review

The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo
by Stieg Larsson
Penguin Canada
ISBN: 978-0-14-317009-9

Description: Mikael Blomkvist, a once-respected financial journalist, watches his professional life rapidly crumble around him. Prospects appear bleak until an unexpected (and unsettling) offer to resurrect his name is extended by an old-school titan of Swedish industry. The catch - and there's always a catch - is that Blomkvist must first spend a year researching a mysterious disappearance that has remained unsolved for nearly four decades. With few other options, he accepts and enlists the help of investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a cache of authority issues. Little is as it seems in Larsson's novel, but there is at least one constant: you really don't want to mess with the girl with the dragon tattoo. 

Jen's Ramblings: It took a long time for me to get into this one, but just over half way through it, it finally grabbed my attention and  didn't let go. Now I cannot wait to get to the next book.  It has a fascinating storyline, but it could have done with a serious edit.  There are way too many overly descriptive and useless scenes and far too many political ramblings.  Some of the scenes are extremely raw and disturbing, and let me tell you the original title (Men Who Hate Women) for this is extremely appropriate.  The characters are fascinating and unusual which is the only reason I kept reading through the extremely slow beginning.  For those who have picked it up, got frustrated  and put it down, I recommend you give it a try again.  It really does get better.  I have heard fantastic things about the movie, so I am going to pick it up from Blockbuster tomorrow.  Honestly the only other reason I kept reading was I have heard there is going to be an American version of it starring Daniel Craig as Blomkvist and I kept imagining Craig's face when I was reading.  Yummy!!  One last thing, a family tree at the beginning would have been extremely helpful.


3.5 Dewey's

My sister lent this to me and hopefully she remembers to bring me the next book in the trilogy when they come by in a couple of weeks -hint hint Tracy

In My Mailbox & stash from the OLA Conference

For Review
From Scholastic
From HarperPerennial
From Canadian Living 
From Maybelline on Facebook

Won

From PTPA
From Escape Through the Pages
From YA Book Shelf


OLA Library Conference

Signed Books from Thursday
ARC's from Thursday
Miscellaneous books from Thursday
Fun Swag from Thurday
Signed Books from Friday (& signed DVD of Chloe from Atom Egoyan)
Various other stuff from Friday
Unfortunately I didn't get to bring Joel Sutherland home with me - it's not everyday you find an attractive straight Librarian (cut my nasty looking self out of pic for you all)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Trapped by Michael Northrop:Book Review

Trapped 
Michael Northrop
Scholastic  Press
ISBN: 978-0-545-21012-6
Suggested Ages: 12-18
Release Date: February 1, 2011

Description: The day the blizzard started, no one knew that it was going to keep snowing for a week. That for those in its path, it would become not just a matter of keeping warm, but of staying alive....

Scotty and his friends Pete and Jason are among the last seven kids at their high school waiting to get picked up that day, and they soon realize that no one is coming for them. Still, it doesn't seem so bad to spend the night at school, especially when distractingly hot Krista and Julie are sleeping just down the hall. But then the power goes out, then the heat. The pipes freeze, and the roof shudders. As the days add up, the snow piles higher, and the empty halls grow colder and darker, the mounting pressure forces a devastating decision....

The Good Stuff
  • Wanted this book based on the cover alone -- wonderful cover gets you totally in the mood for the story and the graphic of the snow on each of the chapters really adds to the mood
  • Great messages about how looks can be deceiving and how people react during adverse conditions
  • Good strong male protagonist
  • I think it would be an excellent book for reluctant male readers
  • The story was very well written and exciting and kept me from putting the book down - I read it in one sitting -- which is also why I was so disappointed by the ending
  • Great for reading during a snowstorm (not much of one, but it was the most we had gotten so far) sort of like reading The Stand when you have a cold
  • Humour and language will definitely appeal to the male YA (or immature Library Techs like me)
  • Setting was done so incredibly well you will find yourself freezing and looking out the window all the time
The Not so Good Stuff
  • Hated how the book just sort of ended - expected more. Won't lie this fact disappointed me and took away a little of my love for the story
  • Also would have liked more development or background of some of the secondary characters
  • Really found it hard to believe that after a week there would be no mention of fact that 7 kids were missing even with the blizzard - just sayin. If my kid hadn't contacted me somehow I would be out in that blizzard trying to find him
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"When I was a kid, I had a little round cell phone with one button so that I could call my mom or she could call me.  It had some embarrassing name, like Doodlebug, but it really should've been called Leash."

"If I could've I would've asked him to put down the trumpet and pick up a snow shovel to clear off the roof for us but to step light when he did it.  I didn't know a lot about angels, just what everyone knows plus what I'd learn the one year I went to Sunday School, but I knew they didn't do yard work."

"We busted out laughing. He knew that's what we all used to think about him, that he was that weird kid in the library, and it was cool of him to bust on himself."


What I Learned
  • Boy's really are idiots sometimes : )
  • Makes you really think what would you have done in the situation
Who should/shouldn't read
  • Great for male reluctant readers around 13-17
  • Those who like a quick suspenseful story
  • A good book for discussing survival techniques with students

3.5 Dewey's

I received this from Scholastic in exchange for an honest review