About Me and My Blog and Amazon Store

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Langley, BC, Canada
I love to read. I love books. I like to talk about books and recommend them. I read everything including cereal boxes and junk mail! I heard once that if you're not reading at least 3 books at a time you're not reading enough! This blog will keep track of the books I've read and whether or not I liked them. It will be a little bit of everything from Christian fiction to Science fiction and fantasy. Feel free to participate by suggesting books to review and giving your comments. Occasionally I am given free books by Publishers in exchange for a review. I am not told how to review them or compensated in any way for the review.

Friday, December 18, 2009

100 book challenge in 2010
I've just joined a read 100 books in 2010 challenge. I read a lot but 100 books in a year will definitely be a challenge. I'll keep you posted on how I do.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larrson

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is Stieg Larrson’s first novel. It was published in Sweden and translated into English. At more than 850 pages The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a big book. Often a book at this length will get mired down either in characters that are too introspective or pages of descriptive prose that’s pretty but pointless to the story. This book does not have either of these issues. The writing is crisp, the story is engaging and the characters are believable.

The story opens with the main character, a journalist standing trial for libel and defamation of character. He is convicted but convinced that he published the truth. The notoriety of the trial brings him to the attention of Henrik Vangar who has a family mystery that he needs to have solved. The mystery is almost 40 years old and involves a missing person who was presumed dead. The murder involves an island and a specific number of people who were there at the time; all family members. Mikael Blomkvist is offered the assignment which involves writing the family history and trying to solve the murder. The Vangar family story and his own troubles eventually merge and he becomes involved in the story he is writing.

Lisbeth, the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the eventual sidekick of the journalist. She is a computer hacker and has developed some highly questionable coping mechanisms to deal with a dysfunctional past and family of her own. One of the underlying themes of the story is the treatment of women in Sweden and the prevalent abuse of women in that society. (Growing up I was fond of Pippi Longstocking books which were set in Sweden and Lisbeth is apparently based on Pippi which is mentioned a few times in the story.)

There is no danger of being bored with this book. It was hard to put down and the ending is truly shocking. Stieg Larrson died in 2004 shortly after finishing this book and its two companion novels. I look forward to reading them.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Favourite book of 2009?

What's the best book you've read this year? If you leave me a comment and let me know your favourite book of 2009 I will compile a list and post it for everyone to read and maybe get some new books to read for 2010.

For fiction, mine would be the Thirteenth Tale and the one I'm currently reading The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo (review to be posted soon) In non fiction it would be Fearless by Max Lucado.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Best Practices for Reading #1

Tis the season for shopping and cleaning and writing christmas cards and celebrating the birth of Christ. It seems that reading will fall by the wayside this month. I've joined Curves and have been going there at lunch so I don't even get to read on my lunch hours very often anymore. But I'm reading some really good books right now and I still try and squeeze in some time during the week.

One thing I try to do is have a night that I don't turn on the TV and just sit and read for a couple of hours (sometimes this works; sometimes it results in a nice nap before I go to bed!) Of course being single helps immensely, if you have a family this might be a harder thing to accomplish!

So how do you try and squeeze reading time into your day? What are you reading now?

May there time be in your month this December to read.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Hide by Lisa Gardner

Lisa Gardner writes great mysteries. This is a story about a family who goes into hiding because the father is protecting his little girl from a serial kiiller. It always amazes me that some writers seem to understand evil so well. This is a fast moving, intense thriller that keeps you guessing to the very end. About two thirds of the way through I thought I had it figured out but in true Agatha Christie style the killer is, well I can't tell you that can I? The little girl grows up never knowing her true identity and never knowing why she is always paranoid. She does have a dog which is a nice touch making her seem less aloof and alone. She thinks she is finally safe and then, well I can't tell you that either.

Besides the mystery it is a moving tale of a father's love for his family and the lengths he will go to keep them safe. As much as the evil is palpable in the book so is the love. And because love always wins out the book is a great read.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Green by Ted Dekker

I specifically chose this book because of the author’s assertion that Green begins the series and ends the series. I assumed that meant that I could read and understand it without knowing what was in the other books. Unfortunately this just isn’t the case. The cast of characters is confusing and the symbolism often seems contrived or unclear and the story was hard to follow. This was disappointing because, despite this, the writing is superb. The depictions of good and evil in physical form are beyond amazing. But because I was so confused I could never really connect with the characters.

I really wanted to like this book. I love fantasy novels with big apocalyptic themes and high drama. I like time travel and I watch the Space Channel so I have no problem with imaginative story lines and mythical creatures. I’ve played Myst and Riven so I even understand about linking books and writing into books to change history. All these things I understand and really like. What I don’t understand and didn’t like at all was Ted Dekker’s novel Green as the beginning and the end of the Circle Trilogy. As a beginning it was lacking in information and I wonder how satisfying it really was as an ending for those who’ve read the other books? So that’s the best I can do for a review, I can’t really tell you the story because I’m sure I would tell it wrong. This is one case where each reader will have to make their own decision about how good or bad the book is. Don’t rely just on reviews; read the book for yourself and decide.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Review Teasers

Since I hate checking blogs and not seeing any new content I thought I'd let you know that I'm trying to finish a few books right now and I haven't been able to get as much reading done as I'd like. So here's a couple of comments on the books I'm reading and you can look forward to the reviews soon.

The Blue Parakeet - not my favourite book, having trouble getting through it, will explain why in the review

Inside the Revolution - reading it because my book club picked it! Interesting information but takes time to read it carefully

Green - worst Ted Dekker book I've ever read, might be because I've not read the rest of the series but he said this book could be the beginning or the end. I disagree.

So that's what's coming down the pike. Now if I could only read for a living we would be farther ahead.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Find your Strongest Life by Marcus Buckingham

Have you ever wondered if you can or should “have it all”? Does life feel seriously out of whack? Is a balanced life really attainable? These are questions that Marcus Buckingham confronts in his new book, Find your Strongest Life. The tag line is What the happiest and most successful women do differently. He says that a strong life isn’t about what you do but what you feel and he defines success as “feeling effective and capable.” Find Your Strongest Life is positive, affirming and challenging. It acknowledges the complicated lives women lead and offers help in finding focus and clarity. It’s the next best thing to having a personal life coach

I found this book to be very helpful. If you’re worried about a man writing a book like this for women, don’t be. He has a lot of experience in counseling and coaching and really seems to understand women. In fact reading the book felt like being in a coaching session with lots of good advice and information to help you move forward in your life. In addition, the book is full of stories from women who are moving forward and finding their strongest life. He’s formulated nine life roles that he says identifies women’s character. He’s developed a test to help the reader discover lead and supporting roles. There is a detailed description of each role and suggestions on how to make the most of your role.

I recently had a few friends over for dinner and we ended up spending part of the evening talking about the book. Everyone took the online test and we read the descriptions and discussed how right on most of them were for us. That made me realize that one of the best uses of this book might be in small group discussions. Read if for yourself first and then join with other women to discuss and really make the most of what you’ve read.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bookstores I have known and loved

I’ve said I love books so it’s no surprise I’m sure to hear that I love bookstores and libraries; mostly bookstores though since I get to keep the books! People are always asking me where I get books so I thought I’d share some of my favourite bookstores.

Hemingway Books in Abbotsford is my new favourite used bookstore. It’s very well laid out and has a great selection of new and used books. One of the things I really liked is that the books are shelved horizontally making it much easier to scan the titles and choose books. There are usually several copies of the more popular books and they are the cleanest used books I’ve ever seen.

Black Bond Books has warehouses in Langley and Surrey where you can get new books at a reduced price.

Of course there’s Wendell’s’ Bookstore in Fort Langley where you can buy a book and then have lunch in the adjoining cafĂ©.

My most unique bookstore experience so far is in Sidney, BC where they have a Book Town. This consists of several bookstores scattered about a 2 or 3 block radius. The stores sell both new and used books and some stores have themes like military or history.

The key to a good bookstore experience is the staff. They need to be friendly and knowledgeable about their stock. I love getting recommendations from them and finding out what they are currently reading.

There’s nothing like a good visit to a bookstore but I have to also admit that I love ordering books from Amazon. I like being able to read the reviews before I buy and I like being able to get a list of everything an author has done in order of publication date.

So where do you like to shop for books and why?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fearless by Max Lucado

“Imagine your life without fear” and “What if faith, not fear, was your default reaction to threats?” These two phrases alone would be worth the price of the book. But it gets better. This is a great book, one for our uncertain and fear-filled times. Max Lucado fans won’t need a reason to buy this book, but this is a book that everyone else should read as well.

The chapters describe different types of fear and how trust in God allays those fears. Some of the titles include, fear of not mattering, fear of not protecting my kids (every parent should read that chapter), fear of worst case scenarios etc. Each chapter is filled with personal illustrations and stories of people overcoming their fears. He also gives practical advice, for instance 8 worry-stoppers is a list worth pinning up on the bulletin board and taking to heart.

Max is a great writer; the man knows how to turn a phrase and make it sing. Often I would find myself re-reading passages not just because the content was great but because it was so well put together. But even if you don’t appreciate good prose you will appreciate the content and what he has to say about fear and trusting God.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Crazy Love by Francis Chan

In Crazy Love, Francis Chan attempts to mobilize a sleeping, lukewarm church into action. The first chapter is entitled, Stop Praying. By which he means we should stand before God in awe and silence, drinking in who He is and what He’s done for us. The first three chapters describe the greatness of God in creation, in what He did for us and is doing for us. The rest of the book talks about how we should live our lives in light of the fact that God loves us so much.

Chan is passionate about this subject. He really wants us to get it. So much so that he often comes across in his writing as an angry or maybe disappointed parent wishing his children would understand what he’s trying to teach them. He has some harsh things to say about lukewarm Christians and whether or not you can really be lukewarm and a Christian. One of the things he does in the book is to keep directing us back to the website and videos he’s done on the subject... The videos are good but it distracted me from reading the book.

Ultimately though, despite the tone and distractions this is a challenging book. It will challenge you to really think about God and the place He has in your life. It will challenge you to live your life as if you really do believe that the God of the universe does love and care for you. And because of that, it’s worth reading.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Tsar by Ted Bell

Tsar by Ted Bell

There’s a quote on the book that says “a hero to rival Bond by an author to rival Cussler”. I enjoy a good Bond movie and have read a couple of Cussler books so I felt prepared for the type of book that this would be. In fact, I just about put it down after the first couple of chapters, not really enjoying the slow start and all the introduction of characters that was necessary to set the stage. But soon enough I was drawn into the action and mesmerized by the plot which doesn’t seem so far-fetched in this computer-driven day and age.

The action spans the globe and has Hawke in various locations always rushing to the save world from the Russian threat. There’s murder and violence and just enough romance to keep things from being completely brutal. But there is also intrigue and political theories and enough espionage to sink a battle ship, I think there’s one of those as well.

It’s an intricately woven story with a plot that somehow seems plausible and I finished the book sincerely hoping that it would never be prophetic.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Let Go by Sheila Walsh

I have a confession to make. I’ve never read a Shelia Walsh book before, nor have I heard very much of her music. I tend not to listen to Christian music much and as a single woman I find that I don’t usually relate to most women’s books with their family and marriage illustrations. So it was with some trepidation that I opened Let Go.

Happily, I enjoyed the book and found much in it that I will need to think about and continue to apply to my own life. I found her to be an easy writer to read. Her style is warm and comfortable, almost like a conversation over a cup of coffee. Her topic is not always warm and comfortable. There are things to make you think and concepts to wrestle with and these apply whether you are a single or married woman.

What I liked most about the book is that she doesn’t try to give easy answers. This isn’t a how-to book. I think it’s more of a theology of freedom and deliverance. From it we learn what God can do, how He accomplished it in the life of the writer and her family and how He will continue to accomplish it until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil. 1:6).

If you are a woman burdened by life this book will give you the tools to find freedom in Christ and let go.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

I really like reading debut novels. Especially if they’re great books because there is a promise of more great books to come. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield is a great debut novel. I read it one weekend when I was home sick and I literally could not put the book down.

It’s a story about families, mostly dysfunctional ones. It’s a story about stories. It’s about people trying to discover their story and how that story fits into their family’s story.

The story opens in a bookshop where the main character, Margaret works with her father. She has received an invitation to write the biography of a reclusive well-loved author with a mysterious background; a story that others have always wanted to hear. Margaret accepts the invitation and sets out to find a tale that will also help her tell her own story.

One of the more intriguing themes that run through the book is the theme of twins and their twinness. Another theme is childhood cruelty; this is not always an easy book to read. But the twists and turns of the mystery keep the reader coming back to the book for a thoroughly satisfying ending. I hope Diane Setterfield is well on her way to publishing another book; I for one will buy it.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Thanks for the Memories by Cecilia Ahern

A blood transfusion leads to an encounter with stranger which leads to well, if I tell you any more than I will give away the plot. This is a creative and imaginative book with a really good story

I've just started to read Cecelia Ahern, this is the second book of hers that I've read and I'm hooked. Normally I'm not a fan of romance novels but Ms Ahern's imagination and skill with prose has made me a fan. If you are a literal thinker with little imagination you might be slightly confused by the twists and turns and downright unbelievable story line. But if you can let your imagination engage with this book you are in for a treat.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Quaker Summer by Lisa Samson

The book opens with Heather coming face to face with a past that she has tried to bury. Her life as a young wife and mother living in a mansion on a lake seems perfect. So what if she has a shopping addiction, doesn't everyone? So what if her relationship with her church and God seems hollow, it's just a busy stage of life, right? She knows she has "issues" and some problems but life is just too busy to deal with all of this now. She'll do it later. Then she confronts her past and her present starts to crumble.

It's interesting (to me at least) that my first review is a Christian novel. Traditionally I've had low expectations of Christian Fiction as a genre finding it to be mostly shallow and preachy. My views are slowly changing with authors like Ted Dekker and now Lisa Samson (whose book is nothing like Ted Dekker's just to be clear!)

What I loved about this book is that the life questions are confronted head on and there are no easy, pat answers. Heather has to completely redefine her life and her walk with God to start down a path that ulitmately makes sense to her. The characters are well written and likeable. There is action and angst. There is humor. There is a christianity that is messy but believable and desirable. God comes through in these pages for Heather.

This book will make you laugh and cry but mostly it will make you think and for me that is the sign of a great book. Enjoy!