Saturday, December 31, 2011

Saturday Snapshot - Oh Deer!

Over Christmas, my husband and I rented a cabin in the nearby Whiteshell Provincial Park. It was very quiet and very relaxing. We had a great time. We were greeted by the "welcoming committee" upon our arrival. Here s/he is Christmas morning at our cabin door:

There were about 15 of these white-tailed deer in the immediate area. Probably hundreds, if not thousands, in the whole park. They are wild animals and are not penned. They are free to come and go as they please. However, the owners of the cabins feed them deer chow, I believe - although not usually by hand.  Because of this, they stay close and have gotten used to having people around all the time. Most of them will eat right from your hand, as seen above.    We were giving them some bird seed we brought along to feed the birds.  It's sort of a nice added attraction for visitors from the city to see "wild" life up close.

Here's another photo:

When we were packing up to go, there were four of them waiting at the cabin door to see if they could get one last handout. I wish I had gotten a picture of that, but the camera was already packed away.

Disclaimer: I don't support feeding wild animals, especially deer. It's actually harmful for the animals and for humans. Once in awhile, though, I lose all reason.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books. To participate – post a picture that you've taken (or one taken by a friend, or a family member) then add your link on Alyce’s site using Mr. Linky.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Shut Your Eyes Tight by John Verdon

In Shut Your Eyes Tight, a bride is beheaded at her wedding reception just after she was wed to a prominent psychiatrist. Dave Gurney, a retired homicide investigator can't resist looking into this one. His wife is opposed to the idea and just wants him to enjoy their move out to the country. Once Gurney learns the details, he finds that it's so bizarre and horrific that soon he can't think of anything else. Through his digging he finds evil very close to the surface. However, as he continues to dig the extent of that evil becomes unimaginable.

I loved this book. I love that Verdon doesn't rely on action scenes to make the story interesting or suspenseful. Much like his first book, this is very much a thinking man's mystery. It sucked me in and made me forget about everything else that I should have been doing. It was so intelligently written and meticulously thought out that it was a joy to read. Verdon's storytelling is amazing. I just love it. He reiterated the facts in the case several times without coming across as repetitive or preachy. It just made it easier to follow. I didn't have to flip back once in the book to remind myself of who was who or what had happened previously, even though the book is 500+ pages long.

The storyline did get a little gruesome at times. Thankfully, it did not feature the action of the beheadings, just the aftermaths of them, which was bad enough. The other main topic or subject matter of the story was sexual abuse. Another uncomfortable topic to read about. This time it was especially sad since the both the abused and the abusers were so young.

The main character, Dave Gurney, is a fantastic protagonist with lots of great qualities and numerous flaws. He suffers terrible guilt over his sons and has quite a unique hobby - using his computer to manipulate portraits/mug shots of serial killers. He also lectures at the police academy. I loved both his lectures and the way his students answered his questions. I find Gurney very relatable and easy to understand. I think I like him so much because he's very much like least according to his Myers Briggs evaluation:
His instinctive route to understanding was primarily through thinking...He was fascinated by connecting the dots...He was energized by solitude...observing was just one tool to enable clearer judging. (page 96)
His wife, Madeline, on the other hand, is pretty much his opposite, which is probably why I have a hard time connecting with her. As for the other characters, I didn't like them very much, but I don't think I was supposed to.

If I had to pick one thing that I didn't like, it was the dust jacket. It's very striking with the rose petals, rose stems complete with thorns, drops of blood and the raised and indented lettering. However, the slightly weird texture (a bit rough) bothered me. I didn't like the feel of it. It wasn't exactly irritating, but it wasn't comfortable either. It's strange because now that I compare it to other books, it's not really that different. It did, however, seem very different when I was reading the book and handling it daily.

New words:
shibboleth (page 180): catchword or slogan
amelioration (page 214): improve
scimitar (page 218): Arab or Turkish saber
cupidity (page 242): greed
loquacity (page 268): tending to talk a lot
physiognomy (page 268): facial features
insouciant (page 382): not worrying about possible problems; carefree
condign reparation (page 485): punishment in perfect balance with the offense. Punishment of an ideally appropriate nature (definition from the book).

I've read one other book by Verdon, Think of a Number (my review). I loved it.

Highly recommended. I'll definitely be looking for more of this author's work.

For more information about this book, please visit the Random House website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at Random House for this review copy.

Shut Your Eyes Tight: A Novel by John Verdon, Crown Publishers (Random House), ©2011. ISBN 9780307717894(Hardcover), 509p.

Altar of Bones by Philip Carter

In Altar of Bones, Zoe Dmitroff is entrusted with a centuries old very dangerous secret. Just like those who have come before her, this secret will put her life in danger. As she fights to protect it, others will stop at nothing to attain it. The story spans many years, crosses many countries and touches many lives. Even the rich, powerful and famous are not safe.

I enjoyed this one, but only up to a point. It was a good thriller and had the potential to be great, but it's heavy reliance on action sequences, let me wanting. I kept reading because I wanted to hear about this conspiracy in which "everything you believed is wrong...everything you feared is real". Doesn't that sound good? Maybe I was expecting too much and looked at the book the wrong way. Instead of reading to find out about this conspiracy, I should have just relaxed and read the book for what it was...a good thriller. Maybe.

This book offers up another theory (or theories) surrounding the deaths of John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe. I found that very intriguing. However, the theory is so out there and such a small part of the book, relatively speaking, I was a little disappointed. I wanted substance, planning, deception, plotting...all the things of a good conspiracy. Maybe there was some of that here, but it got lost. As far as I'm concerned, with a few changes the conspiracy could have been about any two famous people, say John Lennon and John Belushi, or Natalie Wood and Abraham Lincoln. Again, maybe I'm being too hard on the book.

Back to the action scenes for a minute. I like said above, this book is packed full of action scenes. It would probably translate beautifully into a motion picture. In fact, it's almost like it was written with making a movie in mind. While I don't mind some action in my movies, here it was too much. Much of that action/running around/car chases etc. was wasted on me. While putting the characters in jeopardy as they race around the world added suspense to the story, I wanted to get to the part about Kennedy and Monroe.

Having said all of that, there were parts I really liked. The story might not be probable or even plausible, but it certainly was entertaining. I didn't once think about stopping and giving up on it. I loved how the different characters took turns telling part of the stories. It fit with the overall theme and made it interesting and suspenseful. Also, I really liked the two main characters, Zoe and Ry. I liked the tension in their dynamic relationship.

Favourite quote: I liked this quote because every time my husband and I dig in the garden and a plant is really hard to dig up, I say to my husband "I wish that Chinese person holding onto the root would just let go already?"  It's nice to know that I'm not the only one who thinks like that. 
Babe, they're gonna bury it so deep, the only way it'll ever see the light of day again is if some kid in China accidentally uncovers it while digging around in his backyard. (page 312)
Philip Carter is a pseudonym of an internationally bestselling author. I've heard rumours that it's Dan Brown. It certainly could be. The storytelling and conspiracy angle were not unlike The da Vinci Code. Then again, it could also be any one of a half-dozen other writers out there. Anyone have another theory?

Recommended for its thriller aspects.

For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit Simon & Schuster's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at Simon & Schuster UK for this review copy.

Altar of Bones by Philip Carter, Gallery Book (Simon & Schuster UK), ©2011. ISBN 9780857202062(ARC), 455p.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Saturday Snapshot - Dog Sitting

Two weeks ago, we had the pleasure of dog-sitting for our neighbours. Here are a few photos of Dakota:

Isn't she gorgeous?  She's the best dog...ever. She's about 10 and loves to chase (and sometimes catch) squirrels, chipmunks and rabbits.  She's a mixed breed, but I can't remember which ones. She spent 3 days at our house and slept at home. We had a blast!!!

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books. To participate – post a picture that you've taken (or one taken by a friend, or a family member) then add your link on Alyce’s site using Mr. Linky.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Photo Friday - Depth Perception

For more "Depth Perception" photos, visit the Photo Friday website.

For more of my submissions, please see my PhotoFriday set on my Flickr page.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley

It's Flavia time! In I Am Half-Sick of Shadows, 11 year-old Flavia is busy working on a trap to snare St. Nick and his reindeer, but becomes distracted when the film crew shows up at Buckshaw, her cash-strapped family's mansion, to film a movie starring Phyllis Wyvern, a famous actress. As the whole town gathers to watch the actress perform, a blizzard rages outside. When a body is later discovered strangled with a length of film, the suspects abound. Flavia must once again work her magic to solve this one.

I loved this book! In this 4th book in the series, Flavia is up to her old tricks creating potions and working in her laboratory. I love mysteries like this - the classic locked room type scenario, where the suspects are all trapped in one area by happenstance and the protagonist has to sort it all out, especially when they are as good as this was is.

I was so happy to see Flavia again. She's one of my favourite fictional characters. She's precocious and delightful. I love the way her mind works and love reading her inner dialogue. She's young in age, but seems so mature in her thoughts and dealings with other people. She's seen more dead bodies now than any girl her age should have, yet she's still up for the task of solving the mystery. Besides finding the murderer, she stays true to her passion of chemistry. Her elaborate scheme to catch St. Nick in the act is brilliant!

I'm a huge fan of this series and I love how it's progressing. It doesn't seem to be fading at all and seeing Flavia again is like seeing an old friend. It really doesn't get old. I love that we are learning more and more about the family and their dynamics. I still worry about them between books. I know they are fictional, but I want everything to work out for them. I'm afraid that their future at Buckshaw is in real jeopardy and that Father might not be able to care for the girls much longer. All of those thoughts are for another day, though. They are just too depressing for such a delightful and timely book.

New words:
pantechnicon (page 17): a large moving van (U.K.)
dekko (page 68): a quick look (U.K.)
chaffinch (page 69): European songbird
brambling (page 69): finch (European)
darbies (page 247): British slang for hand cuffs

Other books in the series and my reviews:
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (my review)
The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag (my review)
A Red Herring Without Mustard (my review)

Even though this book is part of a series, it definitely can be read as a standalone book. In fact, this is true for any one of them.

Highly recommended. I can't wait for the next book.

For more information about this book, please visit the Random House website.

For more information about the author, his other books and, of course, Flavia, please visit the Flavia de Luce Fan Club website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at Random House for this review copy.

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley, Doubleday Canada (Random House), ©2011. ISBN 9780385668095(Hard cover), 271p.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Christmas Cookie Club by Ann Pearlman

In The Christmas Cookie Club, Marnie and twelve of her girlfriends get together to exchange cookies just before Christmas. Through their interactions at the party, we learn about the women and their loved ones. We see their love and caring as well as their squabbles and troubles.

I'll cut right to the chase. This wasn't my favourite book. Well, I enjoyed parts of it, but others, not so much. With the exception of the prologue, which I'll get to in a minute, it started off really good. I liked the staggered introduction of the characters and that it was all written from Marnie's point of view.

I liked that each chapter was preceded by a cookie recipe and featured one of the club members. I liked that cookie recipes were included at the beginning of each chapter. Who doesn't love cookies? I love to bake and I'm always looking for new recipes to try. However, having them scattered throughout the book makes them hard to find, especially since there's no index or table of contents. Most of them looked delicious, though, so I might end up scanning them in and keeping them with my cookbooks. I was a little disappointed that many of the recipes contained nuts. I really like nuts, but I also like variety. I suppose this happens in real cookie swapping groups as well. (I'm surprised they didn't try to somehow make a rule about that.)

I loved that each chapter finished off with a section about an ingredient: butter, cinnamon, chocolate, salt, etc. These were extremely interesting. It was neat that they, too, were written from Marnie's point of view, but it really wasn't necessary. It's not like they fit in the storyline.

As for the prologue (See? I told you I'd eventually get back to it), I didn't like that the rules were presented at the beginning. They sounded a little harsh and not that much fun. I understand that in order for the group to work the members have to be committed and follow some rules, but if someone had approached me with this list of rules and asked me to join the club, I would have walked away. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't like rules. In fact, I'm a rule follower. Perhaps if these rules had been presented at the end of the book, after I had read the story, they might not have seemed so jarring.

All of the characters were okay, but I didn't really connect with any of them. I think I mostly kept track of who was who, but I may have mixed them up a few times, with the exception of Marnie, the narrator. I don't think it really mattered that much.

Most of the women's stories were also okay, but nothing spectacular. The one bright spot in the stories for me was Sissy's story about her son, Aaron. I don't know why it stuck out above the others, but I was quite taken with it. The story line about Sky, Marnie's daughter, was too drawn out. I know it was done to prolong the suspense, but I didn't think it was realistic. One of them should have called the other instead of waiting for hours without word, especially with such important news.

Overall, it's a good premise, but it missed the mark with me. Others might like it, though.

For more information about this book, please visit Simon & Schuster's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at Simon & Schuster for this review copy. Sorry it took me so long to get to it.

The Christmas Cookie Club by Ann Pearlman, Atria Books (Simon & Schuster) ©2011. ISBN 9781439158845(Hardcover), 270p.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Photo Friday - Graceful

For more "Graceful" photos, visit the Photo Friday website.   70s glass piece.  Not quite sure why I removed the colour.  It just looked better. 

For more of my submissions, please see my PhotoFriday set on my Flickr page.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Bah Humbug

Almost Wordless: The I'm-so-frustrated-I-don't-want-to-decorate-the-tree Christmas Tree. It looks like a 5-year-old did it. Actually, my apologies to all 5-year-olds. I'm sure you could do better.  I can't wait until this is's a long story.  More Wordless Wednesday.

One Foot in the Gravy by Delia Rosen

In One Foot in the Gravy, Gwen Katz has inherited her uncle's kosher deli. Things are going well and she's just got her first catered affair contract - a murder mystery party hosted by social butterfly, Lolo Baker. Things are underway and everyone seems to be having fun when a guess crashes through the ceiling and ends up in Gwen's gravy. Gwen knows that this just isn't a great way to start this new side of her business, so she decided to do a little investigating to clear things up as quickly as possible. She soon figures out that Hoppy's two vices, money and women, have landed him in a heap of trouble and sorting them out isn't going to be easy.

What a fun book! This is the second book in the series, but the first one that I've read. This cozy mystery was definitely a delight. It was a quick read and really quite funny. I never knew the deli business could be so interesting. Gwen's heart is being pulled in two different directions, so there's even a little romantic suspense thrown in. I was entertained the whole way through and kept trying to guess who done it right until the very end.

The story contained some good solid characters.  They varied between the ones I loved and ones I loved to hate. Gwen, a transplanted New Yorker gets right to the point with all aspects of her life. She wants this deli business to succeed and she's not about to let a little murder get in her way. I really liked her take charge attitude.

I like it when food related mysteries include recipes. Here there are a few recipes for deli-type items in the back of the book: coleslaw, dill pickles, potato salad. Nothing too fancy, but they are written in a way that will stimulate your funny bone as well as your appetite.

I liked the playfulness of the cover; ones like this always draw me in. However, after I read the story, overall it was a little bothersome. How could a man crash through the ceiling and land under a table?

Favourite quotes:
The lie is best disguised by hiding it in the truth. (page 177)
...the door to hell is locked from the inside. (page 183)
New words:
afikomen (page 44): unleavened bread (in Judaism)
fundament (page 61): founding principle
fealty (page 230): faithfulness

Highly recommended. I'm definitely going to keep an eye out for more of her books.

For more information about this book, please visit the Kensington Books website.

Thanks to those nice people from Kensington Books for this review copy.

One Foot in the Gravy by Delia Rosen, Kensington Books, ©2011. ISBN 9780758241719(Mass Market), 313p, including recipes.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Photo Friday - Rugged

For more "Rugged" photos, visit the Photo Friday website.

For more of my submissions, please see my PhotoFriday set on my Flickr page.

The Call by Yannick Murphy

In The Call, a country veterinarian and his family are shaken when their young son is left in a coma after a hunting accident. Despite this, they try to maintain some order in their lives. He goes out on calls to take care of sick animals all the while to trying to find the man who shot his son. Then one day a visitor arrives unexpectedly and disrupts their pseudo-order once again.

I enjoyed this book. It's quite quirky and is written in a highly structured way that I haven't seen in any other novel. It starts off with brief rigid log entries about the vet's calls out to sick animals and gradually expands to include information about the other things, including some of the mundane ones, in their lives. I was amazed that the book kept to its log-like format throughout the whole book. I appreciated the format and author's discipline to keep to that format, but I might have preferred it if she had broken away from it for short periods. There were a few times where that format didn't quite fit with the situations in the book. I can't name them specifically, but I remember thinking that while I was reading.

I liked the characters, especially the vet. I loved reading about the animals he cared for and the owners he had to deal with. I also got a glimpse into the vet's family life, with his comatose son, his young daughters and his wife. It definitely gave me a new perspective and appreciation for those who making their living off the land. The one thing that bothered me was that the vet kept saying he was determined to find the man who shot his son, but I didn't get his sense of urgency. He thought about it a lot and went to talk to people, but his "investigation" was more roundabout than direct.

I didn't quite grasp the spacecraft or spaceman part of the story. I think I got who he was, but I couldn't figure out what "space" had to do with it. I must have missed something somewhere. I'm a little disappointed that some of its relevance was lost on me because it was a major part of the book. It didn't stop me from enjoying the story, though.

Recommended for those looking for something out of the ordinary.

For more information about this book, please visit the HarperCollins website.

This was a win from a newsletter giveaway on Shelf Awareness. Thanks HarperCollins.

The Call by Yannick Murphy, Harper Perennial (HarperCollins), ©2011. ISBN 9780062023148(Trade Paperback), 223p.

The ABCs of Me - Part Deux

I had so much fun with the ABCs of Me a few weeks ago, I decided to make up another bunch of them. I know a few of these are a stretch, but it was harder than it looks to come up with new items. I'd like to thank Mr. Daisy (aka Gary) for helping me with some of the more obscure ones. Anyway, here are the ABCs of Me - Part Deux:

Athletic abilities: None. Zippo. Like watching some sports, can't do any of them.

Bones Broken: None.

Coffee or Tea: Coffee, but it has to be decaf now. I gave up (mostly) caffeine a few years ago. It was probably the best thing I did for myself (besides quitting smoking). Occasionally, I'll have a cup of fully leaded stuff and end up first buzzed, then sick for the rest of the day. I've just recently started drinking tea again.

Dwarves: Of the seven dwarves, I think I'm most like Grumpy.

Education: I went to a community college for business administration and computer analyst/programmer diplomas.

Flowers: Daisies, of course, but I like most flowers. Lilies are not my favourite cut flowers, though. I don't like the smell.

Geniuses you admire: Many, but my latest is Dyson. Yep, the vacuum guy. Okay, it arguable whether or not he's a genius. I do love his products, though, and when I win the lottery, I'm going to buy one of each. Sure there are others, like da Vinci and Edison, but right now I'm drooling over a new Dyson vacuum. One of the main reasons I go to the casino is so I can use the Dyson Air Blade Hand Dryer.

Hair Colour: Medium Brown mixed with grey. It's been turning grey since my twenties. With the exception of some wash out colours many years ago, I'm an "au natural" kind of girl.

Interests: Reading, crafting, photography. I love to learn new things, so lots of stuff piques my interest. I could surf all day on the internet finding new things to read about.

Joke, favourite: A mushroom walks into a bar and orders a drink. The bartender says, "You have to leave. We don't serve your kind here.". The mushroom says, "Why not? I'm a fun-gi."

Kilograms or Pounds: Despite the fact that Canada went metric many years ago, I still use pounds, as do most people I know. I weigh myself in pounds and talk in terms of pounds. However, when I go to the grocery store or deli, I ask for grams/kilograms of stuff.

Languages you speak/understand: English. Just a few words in French, despite taking it all through high school. I wish I could speak more languages, but I don't have the knack.

Music: Anything in the Baroque period, most stuff performed by a symphony/chamber orchestra and written before the 20th century, Country, some Classic Rock

Nationality/Heritage: Ukrainian/Polish

Own or Rent: Own. The last house we lived in was my husband's. We bought this current house together.

Piercings: Just ears, but I don't even wear earrings anymore because most of them bother me.

Quote, favourite: "This above all, - to thine own self be true." Polonius to Laertes in Hamlet Act I, Scene III. Shakespeare.

Religion: I was raised Roman Catholic.

Smoking: I gave that up years ago. Now, I love that there's no smoking in public indoor spaces, at least where I live. Even some public outdoor spaces have no smoking sections.

Time Zone: Central for North Amercia (UTC-6)

Urban or Rural: More rural, than urban. I live in a small community of less than 40 houses. No stores, or cafes, no communities buildings. Just houses. We are bordered on one side by the river, the other by farm land.

Vacation Spot: I haven't flown that much, so my favourite vacation spot won't be an exotic locale. I love road trips, though. I loved the Black Hills in South Dakota, our trip to Michigan, the drive through the mountains to Kelowna, B.C., the trip to Peace River, Alta and many others.

Wine: Dry and White.

(E)xercise: I hate it, but I've been using the treadmill off and on for a several years. I also do a little free weights from time to time.

Your shoe size: 10, I used to be a 9.

Zuchinni, Yay or Nay: I love it. It's especially good roasted with oil olive, a little salt, pepper and cumin.

What are the ABCs of you? Feel free to post these on your blog or answer them in a comment below. Also, feel free to use the ABCs photo I posted (I took it myself) or create one of your own. Have fun!

Christmas and Holiday Reads

How many of you read books with Christmas or Holiday themes at this time of year? Do you plan ahead? I have good intentions when it comes to books with holiday themes, but usually don't read them because I don't have a plan. I usually get wrapped up in review books or other books and don't leave enough time. About two weeks ago, I noticed that I have a number of them sitting around here and figured this year that it was time to read a few of them.

My plan is to read as many as I can between now and the end of the year. So far so good. I've already read two of them. By the way, it was these two titles that spurred this desire to create a plan: 
1) I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley. I adore Flavia and really wanted to read this one in a timely fashion.
2) The Christmas Cookie Club by Ann Pearlman. I realized the other day that this review book has been sitting on my to-be-read shelf for two Christmases already. I couldn't let another holiday go by without tackling this one.

Stay tuned for these reviews. I have a few more waiting in the wings; one review book and a bunch of others from my personal collection.

Do you read holiday-themed books at this time of year?  Which ones are you planning on reading this year?  Have you started?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saturday Snapshot - More Snow

It's not unusual for us to have lots of snow at this time of year, so I shouldn't have been surprised to wake up to more of it, but I was. This wasn't the light fluffy stuff, either. It was the really heavy, exceptionally sticky snow. Despite the additional snow, the temperature was hovering just under 0C/32F.  It was really nice to be outside. If we could have more winter days like this, I wouldn't complain half as much. I'm sure there were lots of kids out this morning making snowmen. Come to think of it, that's what I should have been doing. Instead, I was manning the shovel, while my husband rode around on the lawn tractor with the snow blower attached to the front.

Every time we get lots of snow, my first priority is to clean off the bird feeders. Those little guys are up early and depend on that food to survive in the cold weather. I was a little late getting out there; I could see that they were already trying to dig out the food themselves. I'm such a bad Momma. Anyway, here are 6 of the 14 feeders we currently have up.   It's not too bad. They've been a lot more buried that this.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books. To participate – post a picture that you've taken (or one taken by a friend, or a family member) then add your link on Alyce’s site using Mr. Linky.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Photo Friday - Noon

This was a hard one.  How do you convey time?  After I took this photo, I came up with a half-dozen other things I could have done.   This will have to do.   Sorry for the small size, but it's heavily cropped and needs to be squished to fit here.  Click to see a larger (and more fuzzy) photo. 

For more "Noon" photos, visit the Photo Friday website.
For more of my submissions, please see my PhotoFriday set on my Flickr page.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

In Before I Go to Sleep, Christine wakes up every day to a man she doesn't know. He reassures her that he's her husband, Ben. He also tells her that she had an accident two decades ago that causes her to lose her memory every night. To him it's normal, to her it's frightening. A little later, Dr. Nash phones Christine and tells her that he's been working with her, unbeknownst to Ben. He directs her to a journal hidden in her closet. Supposedly, she's been taking notes each day for the past few weeks so that she can refer back to them and know what's been going on. As the notes accumulate in her journal, a picture of her former and current life becomes more clear and more unbelievable.

This is such an awesome book. I adored everything about it, but I especially loved how the story unfolded. I'm a real sucker for books that feature memories or memory loss. I can't remember why, though. ;) There were more than a few times that I felt shivers up my spine as details of the story were revealed. Just when I thought I knew what was going to happen, the author would surprise me and go in a different direction. Absolutely wonderful writing.

I'm so glad Watson decided to write the book in the first person. It made the story more intimate, more real, more believable. I got to hear the story right from the person who was most affected. This decision also lead me astray somewhat. Watson writes so convincingly as a woman that I was shocked (and almost dropped the book) when I saw his picture on the back flap. I was positive, absolutely positive, that the book was written by a woman.

I was a little confused when I got to Part III partly because I was so wrapped up in reading Christine's writings. I had to go back a bit in the story to figure out why there was a shift in the story. By the way, confusion in this case is really good. It was my "aha" moment. Up until then I really liked the book. However at that point, right then and there, I decided that I loved this book.

I really felt sorry for Christine. I couldn't help but wonder what it would be like to have a condition like hers - the inability to form new memories. It was painful to learn that it had being going on for decades. I liked Ben for sticking by her and commended him for his patience. That was before, well, you know. I won't say anymore than that lest I let loose a spoiler. I won't soon forget either of them.

Favourite quotes:
The irony: that I am prone to forgetting that I have no memory. (page 254)
Highly recommended. This book will definitely be on my Best of 2011 list. I hope to read many more books by Watson.

For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit the HarperCollins Canada website.

For more information about the author, please visit S.J. Watson's website.

I purchased this book.

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson, HarperCollins, ©2011. ISBN 9781443404068(Trade Paperback), 358p.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Saturday Snapshot - Blue

Last year we bought lots of LED Christmas lights on sale after the holidays. Yippee for sales! A few weeks ago, we decided it was time to put them up. Even though it felt a little early, we decided to take advantage of the beautiful end-of-October weather. Who wants to put up lights in the cold and snow? Anyway, here's a close up of the little guys:

We love them! We've been getting lots of comments from the neighbours on how nice they look. I'm glad they think so because they are the ones that have to look at them. If I can figure out how to properly photograph the lights in the dark, I'll post a photo of the whole house.

Remember last week when I said that winter was on its way? As it turns out I was right! [If you think about it how could I be wrong? I live in the Great White North, aka The Canadian Prairies, and it's November. Winter was bound to come any day...but that's besides the point. We'll just leave it at I was right!] This is what happened in the last two days:

And this...

Don't you just love how snow looks blue in the shadows? I'm mentioning this now because in a month or two, I'll be sick to death of winter and I won't have anything nice to say about it. ;)  

For those of you who followed the flood photos, see that wooden stick in the foreground? The one with the little orange thingy on the top? That's where the river was from May-ish to August-ish. See everything behind it? That's part of our yard (some of the neighbour's, too).   The river is now back within its banks and is about 600 metres straight back. 

These snowflakes (along with 3 trillion or so of their closet friends) will be with us until March or into April.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books. To participate – post a picture that you've taken (or one taken by a friend, or a family member) then add your link on Alyce’s site using Mr. Linky.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Afraid of the Dark by James Grippando

In Afraid of the Dark, Vince Paulo comes to the aid of his friend's daughter McKenna. As she lay dying in his arms, she utters the name of her boyfriend, Jamal, when asked "Who did this to you?" Minutes later there's a blast that will forever change Paulo's world. Jack Swyteck, a defence attorney, comes to the aid of Jamal after he's been accused of terrorist activity. His alibi for McKenna's murder is a little far-fetched, even to Swyteck, but a lot is possible when terrorism is involved. As more bodies are found, "the Dark" appears and taunts the investigators with mysterious notes, which causes the investigation to grow in scope and intensity.

I liked this mystery/thriller. It was multifaceted and fast paced. It wasn't as tight as I would have liked to see, but that didn't stop me from enjoying it. I loved reading about the investigation focused on McKenna's killer, but the terrorist aspect was only somewhat interesting. It was almost as if the scope and implications were just beyond me, too big for me to get my head around properly. At times the story seemed to spread out in every direction hitting upon lots of hot topics: politics, terrorism, child porn and more. Much of it unpleasant to read about or even think about.

All of the major characters were well written and edgy. I liked that, but it made a few of them hard to love. I really liked Vince, the blind police officer, but Jack, the main protagonist, and Chuck, McKenna's father, were a little abrasive. I did have a little trouble keeping the characters and their motivations straight, but that's probably because I had some trouble keeping track of the ever-expanding story line. It's all good, though. I'd definitely love to read another book featuring Jack Swyteck.

New Words: polemic (page 27): passionate argument

I've read one other book by Grippando Lying with Strangers (my review). It's one of my very early reviews, mostly just a bunch of jumbled sentences. I had some problems with the story, but if I remember correctly, I enjoyed it. I have a number of books from Grippando's back list as well as his latest (due out in December 2011) Need You Now on my to-be-read shelf. I'll be reading/reviewing his latest as soon as I can.


For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit the HarperCollins website.

For more information about the author and his other books, please visit James Grippando's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at HarperCollins for this review copy.

Afraid of the Dark by James Grippando, Harper (HarperCollins), ©2011. ISBN 9780061840289(Uncorrected Proof), 406p.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Little Bee by Chris Cleave

From the back of the book: We don't want to tell you too much about this book. It is a truly special story and we don't want to spoil it. Nevertheless, you need to know something, so we will just say this: It is extremely funny, but the African beach scene is horrific. The story starts there, but the book doesn't. And it's what happens afterwards that is most important. Once you have read it, you'll want to tell everyone about it. When you do, please don't tell them what happens. The magic is in how it unfolds. - Random House, from the back of the book.

My synopsis of Little Bee: When Little Bee shows up at Sarah's door step the morning of her husband's funeral, Sarah was surprised to say the least. The last time they saw each, Little Bee was being lead away by some pretty frightening men on a beach in Africa. Sarah assumed she was dead. Even though Little Bee just met Sarah and her husband once, she seeks refuge with them now because she has nowhere else to go. It is both fortunate and unfortunate that Little Bee has found Sarah at such a terrible time. Sarah is so vulnerable and confused that she has little choice but to invite Little Bee to stay. Together they drift and together they find their way through the sometimes chaotic world.

I enjoyed this book, but it wasn't what I expected. The back of this uncorrected proof says that the book is "extremely funny". While there are some lighter moments that are amusing, I wouldn't call it hilarious. Then again, Cleave is British and I don't always get their humour or satire.

The story is told from alternating points of view/chapters, that of Sarah and Little Bee, with one exception. One of the characters was relating part of the story when all of a sudden the point of view switched to the other character. I had to read that part no less than three times to figure out what happened. I'm still not sure I got it. Besides alternating between characters, the story unfolds in a non-linear fashion. There were a few times I thought we were close to the end of the story, but I wasn't close to the end of the book. I loved getting the story in bits and pieces. In this case, this style worked really well. Despite being told from the different points of view and jumping around in time, the story was pretty easy to follow.

I liked both Little Bee and Sarah, but my favourite character was Sarah's son, who refused to take off his Batman costume. Being a child and doing childlike things amidst horrific circumstances seemed like the way to go to me. At many times in my life, I wanted to escape and pretend to be someone else rather than be a grown up and face reality.

These favourite quotes are from the uncorrected proof, so they may differ from the final published copy.
Death, of course, is a refuge. It's where you go when a new name, or a mask and cape, can no longer hide you from yourself. It's where you run to when none of the principalities of your conscience will grant you asylum. (page 22)
I planned how I would kill myself in the time of Churchill (stand under bombs), Victoria (throw myself under a horse), and Henry the Eighth (marry Henry the Eighth). (page 49)
New words:
vespertine (page 109): active in the evening
inchoate (page 119): unclear
cassava (page 138): edible root of a tropical plant
puerile (page 152): childish
derisory (page 166): ridiculous

Recommended.  I have another book by Cleave on my bookshelf that I'm looking forward to reading.

Want to read another review? Here's one by Man of la Book.

For more information about this book, please visit the Random House website.

For more information about the author and his other books, please visit Chris Cleaves' website.

This book was sent to me quite awhile ago as a win from a contest in a newsletter. Thanks Random House.

Little Bee: A Novel by Chris Cleave, Simon & Schuster, ©2008. ISBN 9780385665308(Uncorrected Proof), 266p.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Photo Friday - One

For more "One" photos, visit the Photo Friday website.
For more of my submissions, please see my PhotoFriday set on my Flickr page.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Saturday Snapshot - Icy

After last weekend's wintery weather, my homemade rain chain sported a coating of ice. Thankfully, it's melted now. However, I'm sure it's just a matter of time before it happens again.   After all, winter is on its way.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books. To participate – post a picture that you've taken (or one taken by a friend, or a family member) then add your link on Alyce’s site using Mr. Linky.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Seriously...I'm Kidding by Ellen Degeneres

Seriously...I'm Kidding is the latest book from Ellen Degeneres. In her usual laid back humorous style, she tackles numerous topics from her Covergirl campaign, American Idol and her talk show to everyday topics like dreams, exercise, meditation and children.

I enjoyed this book. I really like Ellen's style in her comedy as well as her writing. The topics are varied and peppered with her unique humour that had my laughing out loud a number of times. While it's not all funny, it was definitely interesting enough to keep me reading until the end. The book is more like sitting down and talking to her and hearing her thoughts on life, work and whatever rather than listening to a long stand-up routine.

Favourite quotes:
When making a right turn onto a busy street, always check the crosswalk for children's imaginary friends. (page 75, from Random Things That Might Help You But Probably Won't)
What they should do to save us all some time is combine every show into one giant reality show. Who wouldn't watch a show about the next tap-dancing celebrity bachelor apprentice who can survive in the wilderness while singing about losing weight? (page 132, about how watching all of the reality shows takes a lot of time.)
Even though I enjoyed the book, I do have a couple of complaints. You have to live under a rock not to know that she has a talk show. You may not have watched it, but chances are you know it exists, especially if you are reading this book. Yet she mentions her show time and time again. It's a good show and she must be very proud of it, so a chapter on it would be very appropriate. However, it went beyond that and seemed to be repetitive. I just don't see the point. Another repetitive thing was that she thanked the reader for reading the book a number of times. Once in the acknowledgements (or wherever) would be enough. I'd even tolerate another mention to pull off a good joke, but it seemed to me she mentioned it far more often than necessary. I get it, you're grateful. Enough already. Having said that, none of this stopped me from enjoying the book,

Ellen has written two other books: My Point...and I do Have One and The Funny Thing is.... I read and enjoyed the first one. The second one is on my to-be-read shelf. I hope to get to it at some point.

Recommended. Fans will like it. I enjoyed the book even though I'm not Ellen's biggest fan, nor do I watch her show that often. I do think she's pretty funny and really enjoy her work. I'd more than likely read another book of hers should she write one.

For more information about this book, please visit the Hachette Book Group website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at Hachette Book Group for this review copy.

Seriously...I'm Kidding by Ellen Degeneres, Grand Central Publishing (Hachette Book Group), ©2011. ISBN 9780446585026(Hardcover), 241p.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Photo Friday - Public Space

The pavillion at Assiniboine Park, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

For more "Public Space" photos, visit the Photo Friday website.

For more of my submissions, please see my PhotoFriday set on my Flickr page.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Saturday Snapshot - New Light Fixture

A couple of weeks ago I picked up the newest version of PhotoShop Elements (V9). I don't know how to use it and I really haven't had a chance to even try it out. I thought that I'd spend a few minutes this afternoon playing around with a photo I took today to see what I could come up with. I spent about 15 minutes adding some "special effects" and came up with a photo that wasn't great, but it wasn't bad for my first effort. I then went to save it and I realized that I didn't know how to save it in a format that would allow me to post it here. I tried a few things, but nothing worked. I'm going to have to find a book or a tutorial online before wasting any more time. Apparently, I have a lot to learn about the software.

Because I wanted to post something for Saturday Snapshot,  I used my old very limited software to edit a photo of a new light fixture we installed last week.  I tried to make the fixture look old, but removing the colour.  The fixture isn't exactly what we were looking for, but it's better than what we had, different enough to be interesting (to us anyway) and it was on sale!   The glass casts a very odd pattern on the walls due to the bubble glass.   I'm still trying to decide if I like the effect. 

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books. To participate – post a picture that you've taken (or one taken by a friend, or a family member) then add your link on Alyce’s site using Mr. Linky.

I realize that I've been posting more photos than book reviews lately. I hope to have some more reviews shortly.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Peace Lily - A New Addition

More Wordless Wednesday.

Photo Friday - Wide Angle

This theme of "Wide Angle" was a hard one. Since I don't have a wide angle lens, I had to come up with something different. I looked up the definition of wide angle and everything I could find had to do with photography and the lens itself.   Blah.

Let me apologize for posting such a lame shot, but it's the only thing I could come up with. I'm hoping I can do better with next week's theme.

For more "Wide Angle" photos, visit the Photo Friday website.
Some of them are outstanding, especially those taken with wide angle lens. Maybe it's time for me to invest in one. Hmmmm...

For more of my submissions, please see my PhotoFriday set on my Flickr page.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Penguin's Canadian Pie Contest

Do you like baking? Do you like pie?

Here's your chance to show off your best pie! Penguin is sponsoring a Canadian Pie Contest. All you need to do is make a pie, take a photo, upload it to Flickr and add it to the contest group. Easy peasy!

Here's my entry:

It's a Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with a lattice top.  I'm up against some tough competition (see all of the entries here). There's still time to enter if you haven't already. When it comes to pie, the more the merrier.

Did I mention there's a prize? You could win a book called Canadian Pie by the very funny Will Ferguson and a gift certificate.

Instead of blathering on more, I'll let you get baking. Click here for the details.

Good luck. May the best pie win!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Essential Back Care by DK Publishing

Essential Back Care is a guide to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of back conditions. The book covers many topics related to back pain. Some of these are: anatomy, causes, treatment options, strategies for preventing the pain, and lots of exercises to help with strengthening and stretching the muscles of the back and neck.

This is a pretty good book. The book is nicely laid out and contains informative text as well as lots of colourful illustrations. All information that readers would need if they had or have back or neck pain. With this book, they should be able to diagnosis the problem (superficially), find treatment, and maintain a healthy back. Those with serious back problems still need to contact a medical professional, but this book could help them understand what's going on and show them how to cope with the pain while they are being treated.

I particularly liked the rehabilitation exercise section. I think stretching and strengthening the muscles is very important for both back and neck health. The exercises are explained well and each position is illustrated and labelled where necessary. There are even advanced stretches and variations to use once the basics are mastered.

There are many Question & Answer sections in the book. For example, on the section for Consulting a Physical Therapist, the Q&A section lists questions (along with the answers) that a reader might have before attending their first session. These parts were very informative.

I think this book would be most useful for those with serious back/neck problems. While it won't replace a doctor or other professional, the book could be used in conjunction with other treatments that have been prescribed. Those with occasional back pain, like me, will find it somewhat useful. I found the anatomy, preventing pain, maintenance and exercise sections particularly interesting and helpful.


For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit DK's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at DK Canada for this review copy.

Essential Back Care by DK Publishing, Dorling Kindersley (DK), ©2011. ISBN 9780756682644(Soft cover), 224p.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saturday Snapshot - Autumn Leaves

I'm back after a short break.   Well, I haven't posted a Saturday Snapshot since July, so I guess that's a long break.  Anyway, I thought I'd start back with a shot appropriate for the season.  It won't be long now before we have snow.   Most of our autumn leaves are a drab brown.  Nothing like other areas where the colours are so varied...almost like a rainbow.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books. To participate – post a picture that you've taken (or one taken by a friend, or a family member) then add your link on Alyce’s site using Mr. Linky.

Home Herbal by DK Publishling

Home Herbal: Cook, Brew & Blend Your Own Herbs features everything you need to know about herbs and how to use them to treat everyday ailments. There are also recipes (edible and non-edible) using the featured herbs as well as a recipe chooser to help pick the right herb for ten common health concerns.

Overall, I enjoyed reading and referencing this book. I've known for a long time that herbs are helpful in a maintaining a healthy body. I wasn't sure exactly how to use each herb or when to use it or how much to use, so in that respect this book was extremely useful.

The herbs are presented alphabetically by Latin names. Since most people would probably know these herbs by their common names, I'm not sure how useful that order is. Having said this, the presentation is very good. For each herb, there's a labelled photograph showing the different parts of the plant. Occasionally, there's another photograph showing the plant in a natural setting. The accompanying text lists the parts of the plants used, what the active components are, what the herb does, how to use it, as well as how to obtain, grow or harvest it.

Many, but not all, of the herbs were familiar to me. I knew that some of them had healing properties, but others were total surprises. For example, I was familiar with both Yarrow and Lady's Mantel, but I didn't know about their medicinal uses. I used to have both of these growing in my garden. Some of the herbs like: Gotu Kola (page 40), Cleaves (page 60), melilot (page 82) and mullein (page 127) were new to me.

The recipe chooser section of the book is quite interesting. The section includes 10 common health concerns followed by a list of herbs and a list of recipes (featured in another section of the book) that could be used to treat that concern. The one part I really like is the use of an icon to denote the health concern. Later on in the book, that same icon is displayed on various recipes to show that the recipe and ailment are linked. It sounds like such a small thing, but I really liked it.

The recipes included in the book are of two kinds: edible (heal from the inside) and inedible, (heal from the outside) which can be used topically.  For the purposes of this review, I picked out one edible recipe to try: Onion Squash and Ginger Soup (page 213). I used a butternut squash in place of the onion squash (suggested by the authors) and pureed the soup smooth at the end (optional). Otherwise, I followed the recipe exactly. It was delicious and very easy to make. I'll definitely be making it again and again during the upcoming cold winter months.

I did pick out two other recipes, but after closer inspection I decided to leave them for now. One was for Blackcurrant Walnut Bars (page 242). They have only a few ingredients, but preparing the barley was a two day process, with the bars to be made on the third day. Another recipe Four Fruits Power Bar (page 239), also sounded really good, but the suggestion was to eat it the day it was made. Sorry, but I can't eat 16 power bars in one day! Besides, it too looked like a multi-day process. There are a few other recipes I might try, but I'll have to find the ingredients first.

The information on growing your own herbs is okay, but a little sparse. If you already grow some herbs and know which ones will work well in your area, it might be good for reference. If you are new to gardening or growing herbs, I'd suggest contacting a nursery in your area and asking about growing herbs.

New words: both from the glossary page 344-345
febrifuge: helps to reduce a fever
antitussive: helps alleviate coughing

The table of contents lists the herbs alphabetically by Latin name (as they are presented in the book), but does not offer page numbers. Therefore, it's not really that useful for finding information on particular herbs. There are pages numbers for the other major sections, though. The index, thankfully, is quite extensive and should be very helpful in finding items in the book. The book also includes a glossary which features a limited list of health-related words. Even though it's short, it's informative.

All readers should pay attention to the disclaimer on page 352.

Highly recommended.

For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit DK's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at DK Canada for this review copy.

Home Herbal by DK Publishing, Dorling Kindersley (DK), ©2011. ISBN 9780756671839(Softcover), 352p.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Best Art You've Never Seen by Julian Spalding

In The Best Art You've Never Seen: 101 Hidden Treasures from Around the World, Julian Spalding, a former museum director, takes readers on a trip around the world and highlights beautiful works of arts that is either rarely seen by the public or is underappreciated by the art world.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's very well presented and contains fascinating information about the art, the artists, history, geography and much more. The book does a great job in explaining the pieces and the history either of the area or the piece itself. It's very easy to read and simply written with no pretence that can be sometimes associated with the art world.

The art is divided into many sections outlining why the piece is hidden. The various reasons include: chance, place, choice, hate, convention, art, conceptual art, collecting, conservation, and time. Some of the reasons were understandable; some were surprising. All of it was interesting.

For each piece, there's an accompanying article. The content varies, but it might explain the piece itself, the artist, how it was made or the history of the piece/location. Some of the articles touch on many subjects. Also, included are things like a large photo, the medium, date and location.

I found it extremely interesting that many of the artists were unknown, as in no one knows who created this work of art. It's sad that a name didn't survive along with the piece. There were also a few familiar names and pieces in the book. Most notable names: Audubon, Rockwell and da Vinci. Both Audubon and Rockwell were underappreciated, while da Vinci made the cut because the Mona Lisa has been hidden by so many layers of old varnish, not to mention that now it's behind a barrier and a glass screen. It's impossible to see the painting as da Vinci intended.

Favourite quotes:
If a work of art doesn't speak to you, there's a strong chance that it actually has nothing to say. (from the Introduction page vi)
The table of contents not only has the section headings (and page numbers), but also a list of the art objects within each section. The index appears to be fairly functional. The works of art that are described in the book are in bold, making them stand out. I found everything I was looking for. Having said that, there is one omission, which I mention below.

The "How to find them" section near the back of the book offers further directions to either the location for the piece of art itself or the website where it's best viewed. This information could have easily been added to the page specifically designated for that piece of art. No need for a separate section. The index appears to overlook this whole section, so perhaps it was added as an afterthought. For instance, when I look up Chauvet Cave, the index says it's on page 3. However, the cave is also mentioned on page 254 in this "How to find them" section.

Highly recommended for art lovers and history buffs.

For more information about this book, please visit DK's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at DK Canada for this review copy.

The Best Art You've Never Seen by Julian Spalding, Rough Guides, ©2010. ISBN 9781848362710(Soft cover), 276p.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Photo Friday - Little

For more "Little" photos, visit the Photo Friday website.

For more of my submissions, please see my PhotoFriday set on my Flickr page.

Room by Emma Donoghue

In Room, Jack, who has just turned 5, and his Ma live in Room. To him, Room is his home, but it's also the whole world. He was born there and has never left. Everything else, including the stuff he sees on TV, is make-believe. That includes trees, rivers, Dora the Explorer...everything. Even though Jack has spent his whole life in Room, it hasn't always been that way for his Ma. Room is a prison where she's been kept for 7 years. Between his imagination and her determination, it's only a matter of time before Room will no longer be able to contain them.

I loved this book, however, it wasn't love at first sight. At first, I shied away from it because I thought the subject matter would be so intense that I wouldn't be able to get through it. I needed to be in the right frame of mind. When I was finally ready and picked it up to read, the language in which it's written bothered me. It's written from Jack's point of view and is very much like a five-year-old talking. I found it hard to get into. Maybe I wasn't ready after all. A few weeks later, I gave it another try. Finally, I could hear Jack speaking to me. From then on there was no turning back.

This story could be ripped from the headlines and that's what made it fascinating and believable. It's so sad that something like this could happen. While the parts of the story were definitely horrific, there were parts that were somewhat (strangely) uplifting and humorous. I couldn't help but laugh at some of Jack's antics.   I love that is was written from his point of view.  It would have been a very  different story had it been written from Ma's point of view. 

Jack and Ma were both wonderful characters. Despite Jack's limited exposure to the real world, he turned out quite normal. In some ways, he was more mature than other kids of the same age. In other ways, he was behind them. He didn't realize what he was missing in the outside world, because Ma had taught him that Room was everything. I think Jack was Ma's saviour. Without him, she was lost. Without him, the outcome of the story would have been very different. As for Ma, I can't imagine what she was going through. She knew there was more to the world than Room, yet here she was, trapped in a 11x11 room with her 5-year-old son. They couldn't leave. Old Nick, her captor, was a constant threat and besides Jack she had no one to talk to or to comfort her.

I had a couple of quotes marked down to put in this review, but I realize now that they just might spoil the ending.

I have been recommending this book to number of people, but have been deliberately vague about anything that happens in the book. I've tried to do the same here in this review. The ending and the way it unfolds is best discovered by the reader.

Highly recommended. I have a few more books by Donoghue on my to-be-read bookshelf. I'm really looking forward to them.

For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit the HarperCollins Canada website.

For more information about the author and her other books, please visit Emma Donoghue's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at HarperCollins Canada for this review copy.

Room by Emma Donoghue, HarperCollins, ©2010. ISBN 9781554686319(Hardcover), 321p.

The ABCs of Me

I don't usually do memes. However, when I saw this one on Cathy's blog, Kittling: Books, I figured I'd give it a shot. Here are the ABCs of Me:

Age: 47

Bed Size: Queen. The plan was to buy a King when we got to the new house. Didn't happen.

Chore that you hate: I hate housework. You do it, then two months later it has to be done all over again. What's up with that? I do as little as possible and live in a dusty house.

Dogs: Nope. No cats, either. Achoo! Love them both dearly, though. We had dogs and cats when we were growing up, though. Cats: Tina, Duchess. Dogs: Sandy and Oscar. We were thinking about getting a pet despite the allergies, but I'm not sure I want to put up with the hair. (See Chores you hate).

Essential start to your day: A good night's sleep. I love mornings. It's quiet. I love being outside before the rest of the neighbourhood starts making noise.

Favorite colors: I like all colours. I wouldn't necessarily wear a particular colour or paint a room that colour, but all colours have some merit.

Gold or Silver: Silver or white gold. I prefer brushed metals. I don't particularly care for shiny things...except my diamond ring.

Height: 5'5".

Instruments you play: Flute. I played (mostly carried it around) in Grade 7 band class, but didn't take it up again until after age 30. I took lessons and played for about 7 years. At that time, I wasn't progressing as much as I wanted to and was mostly bored with it. So I stopped. Cold turkey. I haven't picked up the thing in a few years. I still love it, though.

Job Title: My official job title is: Make-Work Project Coordinator. I manage the Honey-Do list and break (unplanned) things around the house so that my husband has to fix them. It doesn't pay, but it keeps me busy.

Kids: None.

Live: Cartier, Manitoba, Canada.  It's a rural municipality, not a town.  Up until two point five years ago, I lived in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, where I grew up.

Mother's name: Sophie.

Nicknames: MeMe (as a toddler, it was all about me), Moody (college, I was and still am).

Overnight hospital stays: Pneumonia when I was <5. Tonsils out when I was around 5. Nothing since.

Pet Peeves: Lots...people who are perpetually late...those who say they are going to do something, then don't...the misuse of the word "myself"... to name a few.

Quote from a movie: "For all the times you pulled my ears?" (Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Roger to Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) after Eddie apologized for pulling Roger's ears for the umpteenth time).

Right or Left handed: Left.

Siblings: Four. I'm the youngest. Well, I sort of share that "honour". I have a fraternal twin sister, but she was born 10 minutes before me so I still consider myself the youngest.

Time you wake up: Lately, usually about 8:30am. I used to wake up around 7am and loved having an hour or two to myself before my husband rolled out of bed (he's retired). I've been having a little trouble sleeping consistently lately, so I've been sleeping in.

Underwear: Ummm...yes.

Vegetable you hate: Hate is a strong word. Let's just say I dislike celery. It's a little too stringy for my tastes. A few years ago, I found out I was allergic to it. Nothing major...just a little sneezing. Now I don't have to make myself eat it. I love it when things work out like that.

What makes you run late: I'm usually not late. I'm an early bird. However, we've recently met some people who are more relaxed about time, so we've mostly adopted that same attitude when dealing with them...5pm generally means 5:15pm or even 5:30pm. I'm not that crazy about it, but I'm learning to go with the flow.

X-Rays you've had: Chest, neck, ankle, probably others ones I've forgotten about. Do ultrasounds count?

Yummy food that you make: I love to cook, therefore, I cook a lot. Nothing gourmet...just good homemade food. I mostly follow recipes, but I'm not afraid to improvise or change the recipe to suit my tastes. Some of my favourites are: homemade tomato sauce, creamy sausage and peppers with spaghetti, scones, pizza, shepard's pie, homemade pie.   

Zoo animal: Not fond of zoos. I like seeing the animals and I realize that zoos do a lot for conservation and protection, but still it bothers me.  

That's it for now.   This was fun.  I really enjoyed reading other blogger's answers, too. I've even made up a few of my own ABC questions. I'll be posting those at a later date. What are the ABCs of you? If you want, you can put your answers or links in the comment section.