Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Review: The Next Always

One thing is for sure, if she does nothing else, Nora Roberts writes characters you want to befriend, and settings you want to be a part of.

The Next Always is no different. And so the very fact that it's the start of a trilogy was a huge relief when I got to the end of the novel and realized I still had two more opportunities to "hang" with the Montgomery brothers and their obviously soon-to-be wives and girlfriends, Clare, Avery, and Hope. (Every genre has a formula and I've had Roberts' trilogy formula figured out for as long as I've been reading her --- But that sure hasn't stopped me from reading).

This novel (and series, really) is a special treat for any Roberts fan. Set in Boonsboro, Maryland (nearby Roberts' real-life residence), the Montgomery brothers are hard at work restoring an old hotel into its former glory, and with the help of their mother and some lady-friends, opening a beautiful and romantic Bed & Breakfast called the Inn BoonsBoro. It's a lot more than just a renovation story, though, as our characters encounter ghosts, danger, and of course, love.

The real treat, however, is that Boonsboro is very much a real place, and very much important to Nora Roberts, herself. The Inn BoonsBoro is also as real as it is beautiful, and the inn was rescued and restored by Nora and her husband. Equally as exciting to a Roberts' reader is that the town bookstore in the novel, Turn The Page,* is also a real bookstore owned by Roberts' husband. (Vesta Family Restaurant, the inn Gift Shop, the Creamery, etc. are all also real-life Boonsboro attractions mentioned at varying degrees throughout the story. The novel is a bit of an advertisement for the town, though Roberts claims that was never her intention).

The Inn BoonsBoro on the Square in Boonsboro, Maryland

So, not only do the readers get to indulge in another fun to read (albeit predictable) Nora Roberts trilogy, we also get to explore a bit of some of the other aspects of a favourite author's life. That, for me, makes it worth the read.

*I'd like to make it known that although "Turn the Page" and "Turning the Page" (as in the titles of the bookstore and my blog respectively) bear obvious similarities, I did not "steal" the idea from my favourite author, nor did she "steal" it from me. Simply a case of great minds thinking alike. That is all.

Recommendation: Avid Nora Roberts fans will love this novel. It has everything we have come to love and expect from a trilogy, but then so much more when you consider the close connection to Roberts' life. The characters are every bit as likeable, the town every bit as close-knit and enticing. I say we all read this novel then head to Boonsboro for a weekend at the Inn!

Up Next: The Gift by Cecelia Ahern

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Well, inside anyway. The grass is still green and the snow is virtually non-existent, but it's December, (tomorrow at least) and I think it's high time I start getting in the holiday spirit. I learned about The Gift shortly after Christmas last year, so I jotted down the title so I'd be sure to read it this holiday season. I've only ever read one Ahern title (no it wasn't PS I Love You -- There wouldn't be enough Kleenex in the world for me to read that). It was The Book of Tomorrow, and I quite enjoyed it. I'm hoping for more of the same from this seemingly magical novel about a man who learns life lessons around Christmastime. Sounds a little Christmas Carol-ish, and I don't mind one little bit.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Twosday Timeout

Important to note before reading today's Two: This quote could have been about something exciting from the novel, like stalkers, or ghosts, or falling in love... Instead, it's about nothing really because when one of those exciting things is happening, I can't seem to put the book down. Enjoy!

"Two dogs." Avery arranged cheese on a platter for the gift shop opening.

The Next Always by Nora Roberts, page 209

Now, go on and open your own book to the page you're on, and share the first two sentences on that page!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday Funnies #6

It's Black Friday! I won't be shopping. One of the reasons I won't be is because of the contents of today's Friday Funnies.

Now, I want to get one thing straight. I'm by no means intending to be rude or mean with this post. But sometimes, especially when hot deals are at stake, some of the world's craziest and most outrageous people come out of the woodwork.

Today I'm simply celebrating the... uh... individuality, and... um... fearlessness... of some of Walmart's most memorable shoppers!

Like this sweet old man... And his hot dog hat.
And this lady who was so excited to shop, she forgot her pants.

This gentleman is probably just looking for the underwear aisle...

As for this one, I'm not sure Walmart sells jelly fish food, but it's nice to just get out of the house sometimes.

Beware the Black Friday shopper who won't even break for the bathroom.
If you weren't yet convinced it's safer to just stay home, you probably are now.

For more crazy shopper fun, visit

And the next time you go shopping, you might want to look your best (and wear underwear, and pants that you don't pee in, or have some kind of outrageous hair growth), or you could end up a "Person of Walmart"... Muahahaha!

Sidenote: As always, I like to keep it literary up in here so I've attached a few Black Friday sales at the bottom of the page from some of my favourite book sites! Happy Shopping! Happy Reading! And... 

Happy Black Friday!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Twosday Timeout

Started a new novel just yesterday: The Next Always by Nora Roberts.

And because I couldn't wait to get it started, you aren't getting the first two sentences of the novel, but a couple sentences from a few pages in.

Deciding he'd murder anyone who called him before eight a.m., Beckett unlocked the stairwell, then climbed past the restaurant level to his door.  He didn't bother with the light, but moved by memory and the backwash of streetlights through the apartment.

The Next Always, page 16                   

Remember to share your Two!

Until next week!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain

Cliches abound in this family drama told from the perspective of the family dog.

"That which is around me does not affect my mood; my mood affects that which is around me." (151)

"...the race is long --- to finish first, first you must finish." (157)

"There is no dishonour in losing the race... There is only dishonour in not racing because you are afraid to lose." (211)

Cliches aside, the story was a heart-warming one, as any story about a man and his dog should be. From open to close you care about the family, and you care infinitely about Enzo, the dog.

Author Garth Stein and his dog
It's an interesting perspective to witness the trials and tribulations of a family through the eyes of their dog, always watching and learning, and never able to truly step in and share what he knows. It's very much like being the reader, knowing what you know, and unable to intervene.

Although the racing analogies became a bit tiresome, they served their purpose. Enzo used racing as one of his main sources of learning about humans and their lives. Entire brief chapters would be dedicated to a racing anecdote that related in some way to the happenings in the lives of Enzo's family. It was sometimes effective, but often a bit distracting. In the end, it didn't matter. I felt too much for the characters, especially Enzo, and his "master" Denny. As expected, tears were shed. I'm human afterall.

Recommendation: If you traditionally read with your dog at your feet and your NASCAR jacket near-at-hand this is a novel for you. Dog lovers will also likely enjoy it. It's a great take on a traditional type of family drama, so if you're looking to broaden your perspective, pick up this novel.

Up Next: The Next Always by Nora Roberts
You show me a Nora Roberts trilogy or series and I've probably already read it. Dream Trilogy, Chesapeake Bay Saga, Three Sisters Island Trilogy, In the Garden Trilogy, Key Trilogy, Bride Quartet... And now for Ms. Roberts' latest Trilogy, The Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy. Book 1, The Next Always was released earlier this month, and begins the story of the Montgomery brothers and their mother who run and are renovating an historic hotel in Maryland. (Cue "Hallelujah" music: I loooove this setting!) The first book centres on Beckett (Roberts always gives her male characters great names), the architect of the family who is equal parts focussed on the renovation of the hotel and on the girl he's had his eye on since he was fifteen. The plot definitely fits the bill of a Roberts trilogy, which means I'm going to love it and will be finished in no time.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Friday Funnies #5

What bothers me? Opening weekend of any Twilight movie.

Sure, the buzz and excitement is like no other night at the movies, but it bothers me to listen to teens and pre-teens scream every time Jacob appears shirtless (so like, 75% of the movie).

And it bothers me to hear squeals and sighs every time Edward does something romantic (so like, 90% of the movie).

And it bothers me to hear whispers when the movie strays too far from the book (though this fortunately doesn't happen too often).

And it bothers me when I can't have an empty seat or 10 next to me so I can have the freedom to squeal, sigh, whisper, and spaz out without disturbing the people around me every time something excites me.

Yes, I'm that kind of Twilight fan.

And honestly, I can't wait for the release of Breaking Dawn tonight! Although, I'm not going to see it until Sunday... Maaaaybe Monday. Which is a good thing. It'll likely save a pre-teen from having a bag of popcorn dumped on her head.

To celebrate my excitement I have a Twilight inspired edition of Friday Funnies brought to you by one of my favourite funny guys, Jimmy Fallon.

Happy Friday!

And enjoy Breaking Dawn Part 1!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Twosday Time Out

Welcome to Twosday Time Out, my latest blog feature. 

In the interest of stimulating interest in the books I read, every Tuesday I'm going to publish the first two sentences of the page I'm currently on in the book I'm reading at the time.

This will keep me reading at an honest pace (because who wants to post the same thing 2 weeks in a row... embarrassing).  Also, once you read my Twosday sentences, feel free to post your own two sentences from your current page in your current book in the comment section below the post. (See below for a brief tutorial on commenting).

So, let's get to it! It's time for the two!

"In Mongolia, when a dog dies, he is buried high in the hills so people cannot walk on his grave. The dog's master whispers into the dog's ear his wishes that the dog will return as a man in his next life."

pg. 83 - The Art of Racing in the Rain

There is no need to explain your quotes. Just publish them for all the world to read! But make sure to let us know what book they're from, so we'll know where to go to read more!

I'll have two more for you next week!

Commenting Tutorial:
Feel free to skip this if you're a commenting guru already.
1. Below the post click "Post a Comment" (It should be in pink). If you don't see that, click on the word "Comment" next to my name and time below the post.
2. This should bring up a comment window of some kind. Once you type in what you want to say you have to choose an identity. If you want to be Batman, that's fine, but I prefer to know your real identity. I get it, though, if you want to keep it a secret.
3. Your best bet for "choosing an identity" is to select the "Name/URL" option. This is for ANYONE. You don't need a Google account or even a webpage to use this. When you choose this option, just fill in your name in the name space. The URL is optional, but if you have a webpage or blog you want to link to, just put the URL in that field and your name in the comment will become a link to your page.
Then you click "Publish Your Comment" and that's all there is to it!
4. Those with a Google account can "Sign in with Google" or something. Click that option and follow the steps. It's very straight forward.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Lest We Forget

For Canadians, today is Remembrance Day. It's a day we all reflect on not only the soldiers who have fought and died for us in various wars throughout history and today, but we also think about the survivors, the families, and the immense greatness that is the sacrifice they have all made.

Today, I'm going to forgo the traditional Friday Funnies. Instead, I'm going to ask you to take a minute, no matter where you're from, and think about these brave men and women and their brave families. Remember those who have been lost. Pray for those still fighting. And acknowledge that they are a big reason why we even have the freedom to laugh and smile every day, not just Friday.

If you're Canadian and want to participate in a Remembrance Day service in your area, check out this link. Because it is also Veteran's Week there may also be some events for you to check out over the weekend as well.

I'll leave you with one of the most popular poems commemorating this day:

Clicking the poem will link to its history on Wikipedia

Lest we forget.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Best of 2000

Milestone Alert: 2000 Page Views

I'm a celebrator. I like to celebrate silly milestones. For example, I was recently devastated to discover that I missed my car hitting the 150,000 km mark.  Seriously, I had been monitoring the odometer for weeks.  I was so close. 149,968... 149,987... Then one day, I wasn't behind the wheel. And it slipped my mind. Next thing I knew: 150,013... 13 kms. Just missed it. Crushing defeat ensued.

But I wasn't going to miss this one. I've been monitoring my blog stats like a crazy woman the past few days, several times a day. And today was my lucky day! I caught the 2000th page view. My only wish is that I could  know who it was. So if you viewed my blog at about 2:30pm EST, let me know! There's no prize or anything... But you can certainly make my day!

Every milestone needs a celebration. My 1000th page view got one and so this one will too!

If you follow me closely, and have checked out my Bookshelf, you'd know that I'm a big enjoyer of GoodReads. It has excellent book ratings, discussions, and a fun feature called "Listopia." I love lists. So, I turned to one such list as my source of celebration.

The Best Books of the Decade: 2000s - The top 100 reader-voted best books from 2000-2009

Of course, I read through the entire list and wanted to share the books I've read and their rankings (in brackets) on the GoodReads list:

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling (#1)
2. The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (#3)
3. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling (#4)
4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling (#5)
5. Twilight by Stefanie Meyer (#6)
6. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling (#7)
7. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (#8)
8. Breaking Dawn by Stefanie Meyer (#17)
9. The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown (#18)
10. Eclipse by Stefanie Meyer (#19)
11. New Moon by Stefanie Meyer (#22)
12. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (#23)
13. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (#25)
14. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (#34)
15. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (#62)
16. Eragon by Christopher Paolini (#90)

And here is a brief analysis of what I've learned from this:
1. I've read entirely too much youth and young adult fiction.
2. I've read nearly the entire Top 10. Books I'm missing:
- The Kite Runner by

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Funnies #4

A friendly reminder from your somewhat enjoyable favourite book blogger! This weekend marks the end of Daylight Savings Time. Why bother "Saving Daylight" anyway? Completely overrated...What's not to love about a 4pm sunset? The way the sun blinds you as you make your evening commute home from work. And who doesn't enjoy driving to work or school in the complete darkness? I like to pretend I'm some creature of the night, being all nocturnal and stuff...


If you haven't noted my sarcasm yet, I'll give you a moment to do so now.


But seriously. Quite possibly the only positive that comes along with the whole "Fall Behind" phenomenon of ending Daylight Savings is that all the "club-goers" get one extra hour of party time, and everyone else gets one extra hour of sleep.

So today's Friday Funny is for anyone with a little one they need to put to bed for that glorious extra sleeping hour. Don't let those little jerks deprive you of the one good thing you have coming to you this weekend.

FYI: This one's REALLY not for the kids...

Now, go out and enjoy what's left of the sunshine before we all voluntarily turn back the clocks to make it go away.

If you want to rebel and refuse to turn back the clock, let me know... Maybe we can start our own movement or something?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

WTJ: Press Leaves and Other Found Things

It's now November, and it's hard to say how many beautiful Fall days we have left before that fluffy white stuff starts falling. I want to commemorate today's wonderful Fall weather with a walk through the Fall colours, a Photo-Blog to share with you, and an exercise from Wreck This Journal. Enjoy!