A Room of One’s Own

After being away for far too long, it looks like I’m back! And the reason why is that I once again have a room of my own in which to work. Virginia Woolfe was right, it really does make a difference. Done are the days of sandwiching myself into a corner of the kitchen or living room. We’ve recently bought a lovely little place, putting to bed our renting woes and allowing me the space I need, not just to write, but to exist happily.

Even though I’ve been away for most of 2017, that does not mean that I’ve stopped reading. I’ve kept track of the books I’ve read and will be posting a “Best Of” list soon. Unfortunately, since I didn’t review the books immediately upon finishing them I probably can’t even remember why I liked them. Such is my memory these days.

Hope to see you here soon.

Little Free Library – Woodstock

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Who among us is not obsessed with Little Free Libraries? They are the latest craze to sweep the nation and I for one could not be happier. How could I not support something that encourages and enables more people to read more often?

That is why I’m thrilled to announce that my mom has just unveiled a Little Free Library at her home in Woodstock, Ontario.

I know that I have fan base of loyal followers in Woodstock, so what are you waiting for? Go on over! Take a Book, Leave a Book!

The Muslims Are Coming by Arun Kundnani

the-muslims-are-comingDo you ever take the time to reflect on how your reading habits have changed over the years? In writing this blog I’ve come to realize that I am less of a literary snob than I used to be. I actually like stuff that I once would have considered “too light”. Instead of something truly challenging, I prefer a book that will take me away from the daily grid for a couple of hours.

And that brings us to The Muslims Are Coming by Arun Kundnani. There was a time in my life when I would have been all over this book. The topic – Islamophobia in the United States and Britain – is one that I think needs more critical attention and analysis and still appeals to me. BUT, maybe it’s because I am living the post-academic life, can you dumb it down a little? Continue reading

Cover Wars: The Changeable Spots of Leopards

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The Changeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma was one of the most unique novels I read in 2013, but for some reason it didn’t seem to attract the kind of attention I thought it deserved. Jennifer at The Relentless Reader mentioned the same thing yesterday. Continue reading

January Round Up

I feel like January was a whirl wind month in the blogosphere. There was a lot going on. To start with I read 10 books, which i feel is pretty good. But is it sustainable?

  1. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  2. Shorecliff by Ursula DeYoung
  3. Promise Land by Jessica Lamb-Shapiro
  4. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
  5. The Missing Shade of Blue by Jennie Erdal
  6. Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas
  7. Under The Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan
  8. A Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn
  9. Why Are You So Sad by Jason Porter
  10. The Golden Day by Ursula Dubosarsky

I also participated in Jazz Age January hosted by Leah at Books Speak VolumesBloggiesta – a weekend of working together to clean up our blogs, and I launch a new feature on my blog called Cover Wars.

Things don’t look to be slowing down for February. I will be hosting my first give away during the  Literary Blog Hop hosted by Leeswammes’ Blog, happening February 8-12. So far 39 bloggers are participating! This overlaps slightly with Literary Love hosted by Doing Dewey, From Isi, Estella’s Revenge and Love at First Book taking place from February 10-14.

I will also be in London for a week and will hopefully have time to take in some bookishness.

Mini-Bloggiesta: To-Do List

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Yep, it’s that time of the year again, time for a little house cleaning. Bloggiesta happens twice a year with two additional Mini-Bloggiestas to help all of us bloggers keep our blogs looking and working their best. This is my first time participating and I have quite a bit I’d like to accomplish.

  • fix links on author archive page
  • update author archive page
  • add other bloggers’ challenge buttons
  • catch up on reviews
  • make reading schedule
  • copyright my blog

In addition to the things listed above, I’m also going to try to participate in as many challenges as possible. They are a great way to learn new blogging skills, and let’s just say that I am not that techno-savvy to start with.

Top Ten Tuesday: Best New-to-Me Authors of 2013

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the lovelies over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme: Best New-to-Me Authors of the year. Not surprisingly several of the authors mentioned hail from the UK.

1. Jenn Ashworth. The Friday Gospels is Ashworth’s third book, and yet I had never heard of her. It would appear that her talent hasn’t reached North America in any big way yet, but I can assure you that she is worth checking out.

2. Amber Dermont. She has an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Need i say more? The Starboard Sea is her first novel, though she has published numerous short stories.

3. Jennifer duBois. I can’t tell you how shocked I was to find out that Cartwheel was not her first novel, and that her previous work has met with much acclaim. This is a writer I should have known and should have read. And you probably should have as well.

4. Kristopher Jansma. His debut novel The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards blew my mind. Jansma is someone I’m going to be keeping my eye on.

5. Lisa O’Donnell. Closed Doors is this Scottish writer’s second novel, and I have her first, The Death of Bees, sitting on my desk as we speak. O’Donnell is a captivating storyteller.

6. Sathnam Sanghera. He was picked as one of the Waterstone’s Eleven this year and I can understand why. Marriage Material may have been one of my favorite books of the year. People in the UK are talking about Sanghera, but I don’t think he is so well known in North America.

7. Maria Semple. She seems to be on everyone’s list. Where’d You Go Bernadette is a funny and heart felt novel that was almost impossible to put down.

8. Graeme Simsion. Simsion, and his novel The Rosie Project,  have taken the world by storm. If there is one book this year that I’d recommend to just about anyone is it The Rosie Project. A perfect ray of sunshine from Australia.

9. Abigail Tarttelin. The Golden Boy was A.MAZ.ING. Tarttelin is an all around artist. This comes through in her writing as well. Unlike many of the other UK writers I’ve mentioned, Tarttelin is finding a fair amount of success on the other side of the ocean as well.

10. Mindy Quigley. An American writer with considerable ties to the UK. Her debut novel, A Murder in Mount Moriah, is highly entertaining. Light, humorous and insightful. And I guess I should mention that she is a good friend.

Worst. Person. Ever. by Douglas Coupland

My father-in-law recently borrowed Worst. Person. Ever. by Douglas Coupland from me, without me knowing. Let’s just say I was horrified. I’m fine with him borrowing my books, in fact I welcome it, but this book? No way. Not his cup of tea. Let’s just say it is about a truly reprehensible individual who takes swearing, sexual innuendo and political incorrectness to a new level. This is not a book I want my father-in-law reading, nor is it the kind of book that I want him thinking I enjoy.

Worst.Person.Ever. is a far fetched tale about a British cameraman who is dispatched to an unknown Pacific Island to tape a reality show. He hires a local homeless man to be his assistant, wrangles with his ex-wife, falls in love, witnesses a nuclear explosion and that is just the tip of the iceberg. Everything that comes out of our protagonist’s mouth is offensive to someone. Is he a provocateur? Or is he insensitive?

Stylistically, the novel hearkens back to the success Coupland had with Generation X. He once again makes use of catchy definitions and explanatory notes. Unlike Generation X, Worst. Person. Ever. does not do a whole lot towards providing insightful commentary on contemporary culture. Instead it just derides everything.

By the end of the novel I found it a little tiresome and was plagued with the question as to what was Coupland’s motivation in writing it. I found it difficult to separate the opinions put forth in the book from Coupland himself. Is this actually what he thinks? Is this type of thing running through his head all the time? These are not the kind of things I want to associate with Coupland, who I (used to) see as a very creative individual.

Who would like this book? I’m not quite sure. I’d be very hesitant to recommend this book to anyone. It is offensive most of the time. However, I did enjoy parts of it. As a fan of certain reality TV shows and travel, I could relate to some of what he was saying. But take as a whole, I would guess that the book would offend most people and maybe that’s the point? Bottom line: if you want to read Coupland go for Generation X, Microserfs or Player One or some of his non fiction. I’d give this one a pass. 

Top Ten Tuesday: 2014 Book Releases I’m Dying To Read

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I don’t often participate in memes, but when I do it is usually for Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

TOP TEN BOOKS OF 2014 I’M DYING TO READ

nancy-horan1. Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan. I like books about real people. This one is about Robert Louis Stevenson and his love affair with an American divorcee. Do I smell a little scandal? Also, I really liked Horan last novel Loving Frank, about Frank Lloyd Wright.

local-customs2. Local Customs by Audrey Thomas. Thomas is one of Canada’s best (under-rated) writers and it has been a long time since she’s had a new book. Local Customs is also based on real life characters – the Governor of an African colony and the mysterious death of his poet wife.

astonish-me3. Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead. I don’t even know anything about this aside from the fact that it is by Maggie Shipstead and that is enough to have me sold!

setting-sun4. The Setting Sun by Bart Moore-Gilbert. Moore-Gilbert is a South Asian historian whose stuff I read quite a bit of when I was in grad school. In this book he examines his family’s colonial past and the unwanted secrets that emerge. I can’t wait.

worst.person.ever5. Worst. Person. Ever. by Douglas Coupland. This book is already available in Canada, but doesn’t come out in the UK until later in the year. It’s Douglas Coupland. What can I say? He’s the voice of Gen X.

Okay, so that’s only five books, but maybe you can suggest five more that I should be dying to read!