Monday, February 24, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Feb. 24)






It's Monday! What are you reading? is a fun weekly meme that is hosted by Shelia at Book Journey, in which we share what we've read and reviewed and what we plan on reading in the coming week.

Books finished this week:
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

Books reviewed this week:
None

Books I plan on finishing this week:
• Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
HHhH by Laurent Binet
• Relish
• first epoch of The Woman in White

Books I am planning on reading this week:
Moon over Manifest
War and Peace
• The Count of Monte Cristo
• Flight Behavior
• Possession
• Somewhere in France

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday Salon - Olympics wrap-up

As I write this, I am on cloud nine.  Sure the men's hockey gold medal game wasn't as thrilling as the game in Vancouver, but the important thing is that Canada won the game.  And now we can officially say that Canada is hockey, winning both the men's and women's hockey event.  And we are also curling, by winning both women's and men's events (the Canadian women ran the table and won every curling match that they had during the Olympic tournament, which was a first and even the great Sandra Schmirler, who won in 1998, didn't do that).

While there were events that we had hoped to medal in (namely the short-track), the athletes that represented Canada did really well, whether they were male or female.  I think the most extraordinary thing that happened was that Canadian athletes did very well at the freestyle event, winning 9 medals, including the first defense of an Olympic championship. 

But like most Canadians, the most important medals were in hockey, and the men's and women's teams defended them both (I am also glad that Russia basically was ran out of the tourney and I am sure that most Russian hockey fans were very disappointed by the outcome).  I am sorry if I spoiled the outcome of the men's hockey final, but I am assuming that most people reading this aren't huge hockey fans.  And if you are wondering if I was up at 4 am for the gold medal match, you'd be wrong; I had only gotten to sleep about 2 hours prior to the game (was watching the ladies figure skating free skate and the figure skating gala to get room on my PVR for the hockey game). 

During the past 17 days of competition, I got tons of reading done.  In fact, I almost finished reading The Luminaries (I have a few hours of reading left to go through and I can probably finish it sometime this afternoon/evening).   I did read a few other books and got a couple of them completed, but I am feeling like the guys who raced in the mass 50 Km Cross-Country event earlier today.  I managed to finish A Great Game, Winter's Tale and How to be a Good Wife and I felt exhausted even after completing those two and certainly after reading about 10 hours of The Luminaries last weekend.  I honestly don't know what I am going to do with my reading come tomorrow evening.  Maybe I'll save the gold medal game for the evening (I have recorded both the NBC and CBC broadcast, so I don't know which one to watch first; maybe NBC and save CBC for later).    But I am sure that these 17 days of reading is going make reading a little easier.

There were a lot of memorable images coming out of Sochi, but for some reason this one caught my eye:


I love how Scott Moir is embracing the rain and enjoying the moment.  I saw images of him and Patrick Chan at the women's gold medal game and thought its great that these athletes can go and cheer other athletes at other events and it was fun seeing hockey players that get paid millions of dollars with goofy curling hats on their heads and just generally cheering on other athletes in other events.  I also enjoy the general sportsmanship that you see at the games and am looking to Rio for the 2016 Summer Games.

I realize that I haven't posted for about a month, so here are the books that I have reviewed since my last Sunday Salon:

• A Great Game by Stephen J. Harper (review)
• How to be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman (review)
• Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin (review)

Till next week.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wicked Valentine's Read-a-Thon Wrap-up

WVRAT


Overall, it went pretty good. I finished How to be a Good Wife and Winter's Tale.  I also started reading Somewhere in France and got over half of The Luminaries completed.  But I didn't get around to reading Possession, Moon over Manifest, The Woman in White, and a couple others that I had hoped to read during the 10 day read-a-thon.

I am hoping that this read-a-thon allows me to get some momentum going forward, which it has so far.  Looking forward to next year.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Feb. 17)






It's Monday! What are you reading? is a fun weekly meme that is hosted by Shelia at Book Journey, in which we share what we've read and reviewed and what we plan on reading in the coming week.

Books Finished this week:
• How to be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman
Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin

Books reviewed this week:
• How to be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman (review)
Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin (review)

Books I am planning on finishing this week:
• Somewhere in France
the first epoch of The Woman in White
Relish
The Luminaries

Books I am planning on reading this week:
• Moon over Manifest
The Count of Monte Cristo
War & Peace
• Possession
• Flight Behavior

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Winter's Tale - Mark Helprin

Title: Winter's Tale
Author: Mark Helprin
Pages: 768
Published: 2005 (first published 1983)
Challenges: Chunkster, Historical Fiction
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal, Historical Fiction
Edition: Paperback
Source: Personal library

Description: New York City is subsumed in arctic winds, dark nights, and white lights, its life unfolds, for it is an extraordinary hive of the imagination, the greatest house ever built, and nothing exists that can check its vitality. One night in winter, Peter Lake, orphan and master-mechanic, attempts to rob a fortress-like mansion on the Upper West Side.

Though he thinks the house is empty, the daughter of the house is home. Thus begins the love between Peter Lake, a middle-aged Irish burglar, and Beverly Penn, a young girl, who is dying.

Peter Lake, a simple, uneducated man, because of a love that, at first he does not fully understand, is driven to stop time and bring back the dead. His great struggle, in a city ever alight with its own energy and besieged by unprecedented winters, is one of the most beautiful and extraordinary stories of American literature. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts:  I bought this book because I had hoped to go and see the film version of this book, which was released in North America on Feb. 14, and I had started out with high hopes for the book.  Based on how the book started out, I had hoped that this book would live up to the expectations that I had built up for this book and I ended up being a bit disappointed.

While I did like the author's use of words and how he described the rich atmosphere of the book early on in the book, I felt that it just kinda fell flat and by the end I just wanted the book to end.  I realize that this was my first foray into paranormal fiction and so I didn't really know what to expect and how I would react to such a book.

It's not that I didn't have times where I enjoyed reading the book, its just that I felt that it was maybe a little too long and that the book could have been much more effective and cohesive if somebody had cut 200-300 pages; it didn't really need the 700+ pages to describe what it did.

Bottom line:  If you absolutely love paranormal fiction, you maybe should give this one a try.  I realize that this a very long book, but one really does get swept up into the story and at times you really don't feel like you are reading so much.  Otherwise, I would probably give this one a pass and read something that I would enjoy. Recommended.  As for me, I really gave this book a chance and this genre a chance and I honestly don't know if I could read much more of the paranormal genre.

Rating: 3/5

Pages for 2014: 2366

How to be a Good Wife - Emma Chapman


Title: How to be a Good Wife
Author: Emma Chapman
Pages: 288
Published: 2013
Challenges: I Love Libraries
Genre: Fiction, Suspense
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Library

Description: Marta and Hector have been married for a long time. Through the good and bad; through raising a son and sending him off to life after university. So long, in fact, that Marta finds it difficult to remember her life before Hector. He has always taken care of her, and she has always done everything she can to be a good wife—as advised by a dog-eared manual given to her by Hector’s aloof mother on their wedding day.

But now, something is changing. Small things seem off. A flash of movement in the corner of her eye, elapsed moments that she can’t recall. Visions of a blonde girl in the darkness that only Marta can see. Perhaps she is starting to remember—or perhaps her mind is playing tricks on her. As Marta’s visions persist and her reality grows more disjointed, it’s unclear if the danger lies in the world around her, or in Marta herself. The girl is growing more real every day, and she wants something. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts:  Compared to the other book I was reading at the time, this was a fairly quick read and I was able to get this completed in a few days.

The premise was interesting, especially since the title of the book throws off the reader.  And while the title does have quite a bit to do with the storyline, in a sense it really doesn't and is sort of a play on the title.  

I found the book to be a little convuluted at times, as one wasn't really sure as to what was really going on, but in the same respect about 2/3 of the way through, the book actually got somewhat interesting and made me start to think about Marta's actual history.  What was the truth?  Was it the visions that Marta is having or is the life that she has been told for most of her adult life?  And how much can we as the reader really believe is the truth?

Honestly, if the story hadn't made this sort of switch, I probably would have put the book down and not completed it, as I was not completely enamoured with the story and felt that some of the things that Marta goes through were being repeated, but in someway it was the perfect length, as it didn't take too long to get the the premise of the story and the storyline kept at a pretty good pace throughout the book to keep my interest.

Bottom line: If you are looking for a happy book, I would probably not go near it, but if you are a fan of Gillian Flynn's book Gone Girl, I would recommend this and hope that you read it.  Overall, it was a pretty good book and something that can be read when one has a few spare moments to read, as the chapters aren't long (at most they are about 15 and probably average about 10 pages per chapter) and the storyline can be easily picked up when reading it.   That being said, I realize that it won't be everybody's cup of tea and probably would recommend it to those that are fans of thriller and suspense fiction and that enjoyed Gone Girl.

Rating: 3.25/5

Pages for 2014: 1598

Sunday, February 9, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Feb. 9)






It's Monday! What are you reading? is a fun weekly meme that is hosted by Shelia at Book Journey, in which we share what we've read and reviewed and what we plan on reading in the coming week.

Books Finished this week:
• A Great Game by Stephen Harper

Books Reviewed this week:
A Great Game by Stephen Harper (review) 

Books I am planning on finishing this week:
How to be a good wife
Winter's Tale
• the first epoch of The Woman in White

Books I am hoping to read this coming week:
• Moon over Manifest
Somewhere in France
• Possession
• War & Peace
• The Count of Monte Cristo

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Great Game - Stephen J. Harper

Title: A Great Game: The Forgotten Leafs & the rise of professional hockey
Author: Stephen J. Harper
Pages: 320
Published: 2013
Challenges: I Love Libraries, Nonfiction Reading
Genre: Non-fiction, History, Sports
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Library

Description: In the tumultuous beginnings of hockey, the fights were as much off the ice as on it. This engaging new book is about the hockey heroes and hard-boiled businessmen who built the game, and the rise and fall of legendary teams pursuing the Stanley Cup. With a historian’s perspective and fan’s passion, Stephen Harper presents a riveting and often-surprising portrait, capturing everything from the physical contests on the rinks to the battles behind the scenes and the changing social conventions of the twentieth century.

A Great Game shows that many things have stayed the same. Rough play, fervent hometown loyalties, owner-player contract disputes, dubious news coverage, and big money were issues from the get-go. Most important in these early years was the question: Was hockey to be a game of obsessed amateurs playing for the love of the sport, or was it a game for paid professionals who would give fans what they wanted? Who should be responsible for the sport – including its bouts of violence – both on and off the ice?

A century ago, rinks could melt, and by half time the blades screwed to the players’ shoes could be sinking in mud. It was during this time that teams such as the Toronto Professionals of 1908 and the Toronto Blue Shirts of 1914 took turns battling for the city’s very first Stanley Cup. Against the fanatical opposition of amateur hockey leaders, these “forgotten Leafs” would lay the groundwork for the world’s most profitable hockey franchise. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts: For the most part, I really enjoyed this book and enjoyed the descriptions of the various individuals that were involved in the rise of professional hockey and also those that resisted the change from the Stanley Cup being a challenge cup for amateur hockey players to a challenge cup for the professionals and the resistance from any sort of formation of the professional game.

While there was lots of information that Mr. Harper provided the reader, it was probably too much at times and it felt like he was saying the same sort of things several times.   Maybe it doesn't help that he's a  person that likes to use words a lot (he's the PM of Canada), but I sometimes felt that he didn't get to the point and was maybe a little too verbose at times, when less words would have sufficed to get his point across.  I wish he would have spent a little more time on the team itself rather on the formation of professional hockey in North America.

Bottom line: If you are a hockey fan or a sports fan and are interested in the rise of professional sports and have a general interest in the history of the early 1900s, you might interested in the book and it would be a worthwhile read. Recommended.

Rating: 4/5

Pages for 2014: 1310

Wicked Valentine's Read-a-Thon

WVRAT

I totally forgot about this until I checked my email a few moments; guess that is what happens when you get a little too obsessed with one's own issues.  But since this is a longer read-a-thon, I am not too late with starting this one a couple days late.

I have a number of books that need to get completed and some that I just need to work on, so here is the books that I am hoping to finish up during this read-a-thon:

• Winter's Tale
• How to be a good wife

Here are the books that I hope to work on:
• Flight Behavior
• Moon over Manifest
• Somewhere in France
• War & Peace
• The Count of Monte Cristo
• The Woman in White

I realize that its a lot of books to work on, but sometimes I like to have more scheduled than I am actually going to read. I don't know if I am going to participate in challenges or twitter chats, but I'll see.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

It's Monday! What are you reading? (Feb. 3)





It's Monday! What are you reading? is a fun weekly meme that is hosted by Shelia at Book Journey, in which we share what we've read and reviewed and what we plan on reading in the coming week.

Books finished this week:
None

Books reviewed this week:
None

 Books I am planning on reading this week:
• War & Peace
• Possession
• The Count of Monte Cristo
• Moon over Manifest
• Winter's Tale
• Flight Behavior
• The Woman in White
• The Mysterious Death of Jane Austen
• A Great Game

I know I am not going to get all these done, but I hope to at least complete one or two of them.  When I list this many books, these are the books that I am hoping to read this coming week. 

Sunday Salon - January in Review

It only seems like the beginning of January was only yesterday and I was so full of reading plans for the month.

And you can probably guess that it went in the crapper.

I don't know where it wrong, but I think it had something to do with a certain hockey team I follow not play so well and me try to avoid watching them live for the most part.  I did watch them live two games (and yes they actually won both) during the course of the month, but other than those two games there wasn't too much to cheer for in regards to the team.  And that affected my reading.  There were other factors that affected my reading as well last month, including the fact that I really wanted to spend the majority of my birthday reading, but it never came to fruition. And I was a bit disappointed with what went down.

But I did manage to get back into the groove this past week and managed to hit on most of the books that I am reading and start to feel like I can get back into the reading groove once again.  While I was gone for the majority of this past weekend, I was able to get a couple of my classics read, even if it wasn't as much as I had hoped to, just due to the fact that for the majority of the time I was busy (there was free time and I did read during those times).  I did have a good weekend and am feeling a bit more relaxed than when I left for the weekend.

And once I deal with a few personal issues in the coming days, I probably should have no issue continuing on with my reading; it also helps that the Olympics start on Thursday, so that will mean a lot of late night reading sessions being aided by Olympic coverage.  And thanks to the CBC, it will all be live...

That being said and with the Superbowl being over and me feeling a little tired (I didn't sleep well last night), I think I am going to turn off the TV and unpack my things and get ready for the day.  I think I need some quiet for a change.
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