Thursday, August 16, 2012

Settling In

Now that Rich and I are finally settling in to our new home, I'm feel ready to curl up somewhere in our new house and read. Just read until it's time to go back to work in 1.5 weeks. (How is my summer almost over already!?) --- I realize I'm not getting any sympathy from you (unless you too are a teacher).

Anyway, the house is awesome and very Pinterest-inspired as Richard would say. Hey, I can't let all of those logged-Pinterest hours go to waste. And as my brain begins to click over from being the hyper-organizer to being someone who just wants to kick back, I took some time to think about all of the books I've read so far this year. (Not nearly as much as last year -- but I was considerably more employed this year than last)... 

Know what I realized? They're all novels from different series.

That said, I feel the need to dub this the year of the series/sequels/trilogies/etc. Which means I'm left wondering what I should read next. So I'm putting it out there to you: Any good, fairly easy to read, series out there that you've particularly enjoyed?

Let me know! I'm ready to go!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Review: A Dog's Journey

“You can usually tell that a man is good if he has a dog who loves him.” 

Dog lovers rejoice! We have another very special novel on our hands. And by special, I am of course referring to the wonderful sentimentality and humour with which Cameron tells the story -- from the dog's perspective.
Cameron and his dog, Tucker
The novel starts soon after we last met Buddy in Cameron's A Dog's Purpose: with Buddy missing his recently deceased person, Ethan. He is certain that he has finally, after many reincarnations in the previous novel, fulfilled his purpose as a dog; he loved, comforted, and protected his boy until the very end. Surely, this time, when it's his time to go, he will finally be able to leave the world and pass on to the next.

*Spoiler* Obviously, this isn't the case. And the novel takes us on a journey (a dog's journey?) to learn what this, and every dog's, real purpose is.

I find it amazing how Cameron tells a story so richly from the dog's perspective. His dogs have so much personality and character that you definitely fall in love page after page.

I recommend this book strongly for any dog lover. But first, you have to read A Dog's Purpose. It really helps to know the whole history of this wonderful dog's many lives. Both will make you laugh, bring you tears, and leave you reaching for your own furry friend to snuggle afterwards. I believe the first words out of my mouth when I closed the book were: "When can we get a dog?"

While you're browsing the internet, check out the website for the novels: A Dog's Purpose. You can kill hours looking at all of the photos.

Up Next:
In 7 days I'll be back in my hometown for 3 weeks, at which time I will be picking up City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare and continuing the Moral Instruments series. I can't wait!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tuesday Teaser

Today's teaser is the first few sentences of my new book, A Dog's Journey.

As I sat in the sun on the wooden dock that jutted out into the pond, I knew this to be true: my name was Buddy, and I was a good dog. The fur on my legs was as black as the rest of me, but down at my paws it had, over time, become tinged with white.
(A Dog's Journey by W. Bruce Cameron, pg. 5)

I'm definitely in trouble. When a book starts with an old dog laying on a dock reflecting on his life, it can only mean one thing...

Monday, July 2, 2012

Review: City of Glass

There's nothing a sunny day with a breeze is better for than finishing a good book.

If I didn't know better, I'd have guessed that City of Glass was the final book in the Moral Instruments series. It had all of the action and intensity of a final book, plus, it would seem, the conclusiveness.

And who might this be?
As with the first two, City of Bones and City of Ashes, the battles were of epic proportions, the twists were plentiful (albeit a bit predictable), and the story genuinely juicy

Glass definitely surpasses Ashes in intrigue, as it became increasingly clear with each turned page that the second instalment may have suffered a bit more than I realized initially from the sophomore slump. This story clearly had bigger and better places to go -- and it got there with this third book.

Clary and Jace embark on further and deeper self-discovery, that deepens their relationship to each other and many other characters in the book. We learn much more about Simon and Jocelyn which are welcome and important subplots in the story.

Where will we go next with the fourth book, City of Fallen Angels? I haven't the slightest idea. I can only predict that we may see more of the faeries, more of Raphael and the vampires, and quite possibly we haven't seen the last of Valentine.

I won't get to find out for another two weeks as Fallen Angels is waiting patiently for me on a shelf 7 hours away.

Up Next: In the meantime, I'm likely to dive into a huge departure from the fantastical world of the Mortal Instruments -- A Dog's Journey by W. Bruce Cameron. A sequel to A Dog's Purpose which I read early in 2011 before I started this blog, Journey continues to tell the story of Buddy, as he is reborn to look after another human sorely in need of a dog's love. It's bound to be as gushy and emotional as the first and I'm looking forward to it immensely!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Funnies #24

Now that summer has finally arrived for me and all of my teacher friends, everywhere I look there's messages of celebration on Facebook, Twitter, and even Pinterest.

By working in a school, and with summers off, sometimes it's hard to believe we're "grown ups."

But at this blog, I like to keep it real. (Even though it's primarily about fictional worlds). Here are some friendly reminders, or a check-list if you will, to tell if you are in fact a grown up... Even despite our best efforts to not be.
Please forward this on to all of your grown up friends. Or even to those friends who think they're not grown up, but probably actually are.

Happy Weekend!
And enjoy your summer... Don't forget to avoid the reality of being a grown up by stepping into a fictional literary reality (and then tell me about it!)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tuesday Teaser

I am making it my goal to try not to fall off the face of the blogging-earth this summer (like I have this past week). No Friday Funny? What's with that!? But truth be told, between travelling, attending weddings, planning my own, and preparing to move into our new house (Yay! We bought a house!), it's going to be a pretty crazy summer.

However, I will not forget to make time to read. 

In fact, I'll probably use this gorgeous day (and my second official day of summer vacation) to dig in further into City of Glass.

Before Simon could ask him what he meant by that, Alec entered the room. He was frowning, just as he had been when he'd left. His gaze lingered momentarily on Simon, a look almost of confusion alight in his blue eyes.
City of Glass by Cassandra Clare, pg. 69

This book is full of loaded comments so early on... I can't wait to find out what the hell is happening. So many secrets. (I even found myself using Google to translate some Romanian that wasn't translated for me).

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Review: Fifty Shades Freed

Well, I am finally finished the Fifty Shades phenomenon.

The last book, Fifty Shades Freed, took me considerably longer to get through than the first two for 2 key reasons: 1. End of the School Year Wrap-Up and 2. I was admittedly dragging my feet a little to prolong it. I have a tendency to do that when I really love a series. (I'm surprised I ever finished The Deathly Hallows and Breaking Dawn).

There isn't too much to say about the final book. It was fantastic. The story had evolved so that it was different from the first but still true to the style. It delivered answers to everything questioned in the beginning of the series -- satisfyingly so.

It took you to the horizon so you could see the future and left you not searching for more, but content with a real, solid resolution. Yes, satisfying is definitely the right word.

I'd like to make a few notes on the series itself.

With origins based in Twilight fan fiction (and the novel has been heavily criticised for this), I think to a Twilight fan (such as myself) it's easy to get caught up in the obvious resemblances: possessive relationships, somewhat naive young heroine who discovers herself through a man, Washington settings, separated parents, adoption, etc, etc. But for a reader with the foresight to look past these similarities, you're rewarded with a plot-line and story quite rich in intrigue, emotion, and excitement.

This is a must-read for the following readers:
1. Those who can't bear to be left out of current trends/fads in literature -- whether you read to enjoy or to criticize, you can't miss this one if you want to be "in" on all of the Fifty Shades hullabaloo.
2. Fans of romantic fiction. It's undeniable that this is a love story not to be missed. And what's more is that it's not all "hearts and roses" -- It's got a darkness to it that makes it even more irresistible.
3. Mature Twilight fans. All of the elements of the Twilight story are there -- sans the supernatural. But be warned ... it's not considered erotic fiction for nothing.

Up Next:
I'm pressing on with the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. Book 3: City of Glass ... And I'm actually quite excited to revisit it. Fifty Shades was a welcome break, but it's time for more of the supernatural in my life.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Keep It Current: National Zoo & Aquarium Month

In addition to books, I love animals. Always have.

There were quite a few topics on my radar for today's current events blog like, Luminato (but it just ended), a recommended summer reading list (but that's not really a current event), the walk across the falls (but that wasn't really as exciting as it could have been), or Friday Night Live @ the ROM (but not all of my readers are from Toronto, so who would care!?)

Anyway... I ended up stumbling upon the fact that June is National Zoo and Aquarium Month. I think sometimes zoos get a bad reputation for being a terrible place. And don't get me wrong, sometimes they can be. But I also think that done right, a zoo can be a wonderful place for humans and animals to interact. For people to learn about the environment and how our actions can affect some really amazing creatures. I mean, zoos also pilot projects to prevent some animals from extinction and I don't think there's anything wrong with that!

So, on my hunt for something great to discuss today, I found a quiz to test your knowledge of animals in Canadian literature -- I scored a 50% (and admittedly guessed on 70% of them!) It's not easy!

How did you do?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday Funnies #23

I am a blogger, a Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest user, and one time try-er of Google + and LinkedIn. I'm not afraid of social networking.

Know what else I'm not afraid to do? Wish my dad a Happy (Almost) Father's Day via social networking.

Today's funny is a combination of the two. Enjoy!

*Forgive me for the terrible segue into today's funny.

Happy Weekend!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday Teaser

Today will likely be a two post kind of day. Last night, I got within 75 pages of finishing Fifty Shades Freed when I realized I wasn't quite ready to be freed so I put the book down and went to sleep.

But now I can't wait to see how it ends. So I'm sure I'll free myself sometime today.

Without giving too much away...

Christian runs a hand through his hair. "Two women, eh?" Alarm flashes across his face, and his dark look vanishes.
Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Keep It Current: Honorary Doctorates

With so many convocations happening over the past weekend and probably next weekend, I think it's interesting to find out who has been recipients of the honorary doctorates. In fact, it's always one of the first questions I ask someone who has been to a convocation ceremony.

I was fortunate enough to have Stephen Lewis speak at one of my convocations. Though really, I'd have loved to have the likes of J.K. Rowling or maybe Jimmy Fallon. (Two long shots for a small, Northern Ontario university like Nipissing -- but a fun dream nonetheless).

I realize, of course, that Rowling received her honorary doctorate in 2008
so is not exactly "current" -- but she's an amazing inspiration and her speech
needed to be shared.

I was pretty excited to find out that Ryerson University in Toronto conferred their honorary degrees to three Canadian Literature superstars: Graeme Gibson, Rohinton Mistry, and Margaret Atwood.

This weekend I also had the pleasure of reading one of the most inspirational graduation speeches ever written. Probably because it mashed together all of the most inspirational speeches ever written. I'd link to it, but the Toronto Star website seems to be lacking that particular article. Instead I'll link to this blog that contains some pretty humorous and inspirational quotes from famous commencement addresses.

I'd love to be witness to any one of those honorary doctorates (especially Kermit). But what about you? Who would give the commencement address of your dreams?

(According to the New York Times)

10. Rescue Me (Rachel Gibson)
9. Stolen Prey (John Sandford)
8. A Night Like This (Julia Quinn)
7. On The Island (Tracey Garvis-Graves)
6. 11th Hour (James Patterson and Maxine Paetro)
5. Fifty Shades Trilogy (E.L. James)
4. The Storm (Clive Cussler and Graham Brown)
3. Fifty Shades Freed (E.L. James)
2. Fifty Shades Darker (E.L. James)
1. Fifty Shades of Grey (E.L. James)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Friday Funnies #22

Today is my "little" sister's university graduation. Since I couldn't be there to celebrate, I thought I would dedicate today's funny to her!

First, we have a sign made for an English major by her siblings at her graduation ceremony.

And lastly, more fun at the English majors' expense. Thank goodness my sister is a Communications grad!

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Keep It Current: Libraries

I wasn't in a particularly blog frame of mind this weekend when it came to writing my new weekly Keep It Current post. So I deferred until today, when I stumbled upon a brief and interesting article about some major changes proposed to a New York library.

Read the article here -- "Is This the End of Libraries as we Know Them?"

The Gist of It: There exists a proposed plan to turn a famous New York library into a circulation library by storing the bulk of the materials off-site, adding more computers, and possibly a cafe in order to make the library more of a "community hub." Like any proposal, the idea is being met with resistance by those who believe this will "diminish the role of the library as an important research facility."

My Opinion: I'm on the fence on this one. Although I agree that a library needs books, I think that in this evolving age of technology, libraries need to evolve too. In Toronto there is so much talk about closing libraries and cutting back hours, that I can't help but feel that if we changed the function and perception of our libraries that just maybe they could thrive again. I think a library would be a fantastic "hub" of a community. A place to relax, enjoy yourself, meet some people, and learn.

What do you think?

Tuesday Teaser

The weeks are flying by in a blur. Partly because of the end of the year wrap-up at work, and largely because of my addiction to the Fifty Shades series. Since I started reading them not two weeks ago, not a day has gone by that I haven't been found reading. (Yesterday being the only exception).

In fact, I've been reading so much, so quickly, that I didn't even get to do a Tuesday Teaser about Fifty Shades Darker! Today, we jump from Fifty Shades of Grey to Fifty Shades Freed. Sorry, Darker!

I stir, instinctively reaching for Christian only to feel his absence. Shit! I wake instantly and look anxiously around the cabin.
Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James (pg. unknown --- silly eReader bundle)

I hope you're enjoying your books half as much as I'm enjoying mine. And don't forget to post your teaser!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Review: Fifty Shades Darker

More often than not, in these literary mega-series, the second instalment is usually a bit disappointing. (Think, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, or Twilight's New Moon).

Fifty Shades Darker has managed to climb the mountain that is the sophomore slump and come out more than victorious.

I really can't divulge any major plot points because it would surely ruin the story for anyone crazy enough to have not started reading this series yet. (I'm not unaware of the irony behind the fact that I am also a bit behind on this Fifty Shades trend).

I couldn't resist this photo.
The excitement and intrigue continued page after page.

There's also something I find so stimulating about a story whose ending I can only begin to guess at as I near the last 30 or so pages.

Fifty Shades Darker is everything the title promises and then suddenly, the lights are out, and you're itching to tear open the 3rd (and final?) book: Fifty Shades Freed.

Since I'm not sure if I'm ready to be freed from this series quite yet, I'll suppress my urge to read more and wait until tomorrow.

PS - I am painfully aware of the vagueness of this post and I do apologize. But, I sincerely would hate to give anything away. The story is actually just that good. It's really something to see the insides of both Anastasia and Christian unravel as they discover themselves and each other. (There, I've already said too much)...

Friday, June 1, 2012

Friday Funnies #21

It's a miracle I haven't slipped into Fifty Shades of a Coma from all of the reading I've done in the past week. So, to celebrate my Fifty Shades of Addiction, I'd like to poke fun at this current literary fad.

Happy Weekend!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Review: Fifty Shades of Grey

Speaking of not being able to put a book down... Just used my lunch period to wrap up the first Fifty Shades novel.

Words escape me. Which probably isn't great for a blogger.

I think I'll reserve a full review for when I finish the series.

This first one ended so abruptly. I thought I was approaching the end of a chapter, and then the next thing I know, it's the last page of the book. Without warning! (#eReaderProblems)

This was no easy read. The plot centres on a very innocent and inexperienced young college graduate, Anastasia, getting ready to take the next steps into adulthood when she has a chance meeting with the mysterious and very gorgeous billionaire Christian Grey. The two can't stay away from each other and eventually embark on an incredibly exciting, confusing, and highly sexual journey into a relationship and world Anastasia never knew existed.

Throughout the novel she battles with her subconscious who is screaming for her to run for the hills from this man who finds thrills in the BDSM lifestyle. But she also craves to listen to her inner goddess who is exhilarated by all of the pleasures he is bestowing on her.

As a reader, I was very much another voice in Ana's head. Sometimes on the side of the subconscious, other times cheering her on alongside the inner goddess. Every bit as confused as our heroine.

Questions constantly filled my head about Christian Grey and his past, his work, his feelings, and thoughts.

So when this novel came to a close, I had to fight with myself to put the book down instead of diving into the next. (My lunch hour is only so long)...

Without giving away the ending, I found myself both prideful and wounded... very much anticipating the next instalment. And fortunately for me, I don't have to wait very long... Only a few more hours until I can go home for the day and reinvest myself in their ever interesting and tumultuous love story.

Tuesday Teaser

I am absolutely tearing through this book. It helps that the weather has been so gorgeous that usually the only thing I want to do when I get home is sit out back and read. But it also helps that the book is completely absorbing... in its own very weird and twisted way.

In fact, I was nervous about Tuesday Teaser this week -- and likely will be every week until I'm done the Fifty Shades trilogy. It seems every other page is full of content I'd be more than embarrassed to make immortal in cyber space. But I think today I've rested on a page that reveals the tameness of the relationship instead of the wild, animalistic part.

I notice the Twinnings label, and inside, my heart sings. See, he does care, my subconscious mouths at me. I sit and face him, drinking in his beauty. Will I ever get enough of this man?
(Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James, pg. 340)

Better question: Will I ever get enough of this book? Seriously. I'm reading before work, during lunch, after work, before bed. I'm a complete bookworm for this "love story" unlike any I've ever read about a relationship unlike any I've ever heard of.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Keep It Current

It may come as some surprise that I absolutely hate the news. It's a terrible truth. Especially since I'm a teacher and staying "with it" on current events should be a top priority, but I have just never ever been able to get into it. Even when the news directly involves me. I read or watch what I absolutely have to, then turn it off.

It could be that news today is always more bad news than good news. Which could be why what constitutes as "reading the news" for me includes 3 things:

1. Skimming my favourite online news sources for stories that look "feel-good" or like they will directly affect me in some way.

2. Browsing entertainment news for stories about theatre, movies, music, or celebrities (please refrain from judging me)

3. Checking out the "Insight & Books" section of the Sunday Star. (Which, I should add, is such an obscure section it doesn't even exist on their website or else I'd have posted the link for you).

When I started this blog it was a place for me to get back into writing. My life was changing and I wanted an outlet to write about how I was feeling by sharing my thoughts on the books I was reading. I was combining three of my major interests, reading, writing, and social networking (haha) to help me cope with "turning the page" in my life to start something new.

Well, life is still changing, and will continue to do so from now until forever, and I feel like my blog should evolve as well. It shouldn't just be a place to vent about teenagers like a teenager. I want to keep it current and share with you what's going on in the world of books by sharing selected articles each week from my favourite Sunday Star section: Insight and Books.

I happened to find this week's section a bit dull and I've prattled on a bit too long already, so for my first instalment I'll just share a selection of Bestsellers (something I'd like to do every week).

Original Fiction
1. Fifty Shades of Grey (E.L. James)
2. Bring up the Bodies (Hilary Mantel)
3. Fifty Shades of Darker (E.L. James)

Original Non-Fiction
1. The End of Growth (Jeff Rubin)
2. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (Susan Cain)
3. The Power of Habit: Why Do We Do What We Do and How to Change It (Charles Duhigg)

Reprint Fiction
1. Death Comes to Pemberley (P.D. James)
2. The Lucky One (Nicholas Sparks)
3. A Game of Thrones (George R.R. Martin)

Reprint Non-Fiction
1. Bossypants (Tina Fey)
2. In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin (Erik Larson)
3. The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance (Edmund de Waal)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Funnies #20

As we approach the end of the month, I can't help but groan at the fact that yet another student loan payment will be automatically withdrawn from my account. Automatic payments were supposed to mean I didn't have to think about it. I'd just just a little less money on my end of month pay check than usual.

No big deal. 

Except that when you sign up for university you don't really fully realize that you're on a long road to nowhere. If I ever decided to change careers (and sometimes I think about it), I'd have to go back to school. And not university. College. For multiple years. And I already have 2 degrees! What's with that!?

Which brings me to today's funny. What my diploma degree should actually say:

To all my readers who ever feel this way... Enjoy your weekend. Maybe have a drink or two and celebrate that you are educated! (And it doesn't really matter).

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Review: The Last Boyfriend

My heart is warmed. Nora Roberts does it again.

Predictable? Sure. But it doesn't make it any less wonderful.

Roberts writes characters you care about, relate to, root for, and fall in love with, hoping that if they were real people, you might be lucky enough to be in their circle.

The Last Boyfriend did not disappoint with the second instalment in her latest trilogy about the lives of three friends and three brothers in a small Maryland town. This novel, about the feisty and not-ready-for-romance Avery MacTavish and the sensible Owen Montgomery, gets us more in touch with all of the characters and their adventures renovating and restoring several town buildings and landmarks. It also continues to develop an unexpected plot line about the ghost of a woman, waiting for her lost lover, in the Inn Boons Boro, recently restored by the Montgomery brothers.

The whole thing is actually quite exciting and of course, romantic, and I can't wait to see how the series ends (even though I'm pretty sure I can guess)... But I'll have to wait until November...

My Recommendation:
If you love Nora, read this series. It stands up with the rest of them. Simple as that. If you're interested in Nora's trilogies and series, I don't see why you couldn't start with this one!

In the meantime... I made myself a promise. I would finish the Moral Instruments series before moving on to something new. But I couldn't resist. I just purchased the eBook edition bundle pack of Fifty Shades of Grey. I absolutely can't stand not knowing what all of this fuss is about! It's not great timing with final projects, exams, and marking galore on my plate... But some things just can't wait another minute!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tuesday Teaser

I nearly forgot about today's post thinking that today was Monday, not Tuesday. Long weekends have a tendency to play with my mind like that. But who's complaining? I'm now one day closer to Friday, and after a great and busy long weekend, I may not be rested, but I'm feeling pretty pleased to have gotten so much reading done over my holiday. There's no better way to survive cottage traffic than opening a good book (and of course, turning on sports talk radio to entertain my driver).

"Adjust. Yeah, I can adjust." His face darkened, his eyes glinted. "But I'm not the only one who's going to." He waited an hour, decided he'd calmed down, steadied up. He walked over to Vesta in the unrelenting rain, and into the warm, into the scents of sauce and spice.
(The Last Boyfriend by Nora Roberts, pg. 282)

By this time next week I'll be quoting a new book! What are you reading?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday Funnies #19

May Long Weekend is upon us!!!

And as soon as I can sneak out of my professional development I will commence my 7 hour drive home where I'll spend the weekend with friends and family, having a few beer by the pool, attending the variety of events that always find a way to plant themselves throughout the long weekend, and if I'm really lucky... just reading and relaxing.

Because I'm such a nerd, today's funny really hit home for me. It's a sad kind of funny...

...but one I will NOT be participating in this weekend because I'm too too excited to see everyone I haven't seen in too too long!

Happy Long Weekend Everyone (in Canada)!

PS. Have you ever wondered why in Canada we take a day off to celebrate Queen Victoria, but in England there's no such holiday? ...Ponder that.