2010 In Review

2010 is nearly over and can I just say that I’m really looking forward to 2011?!! It was kind of a crazy and rough year for me and I even had to take a break from blogging toward the end of this year. I decided that despite my challenges, life must go on and I miss my blogging friends too much to just give up blogging altogether.

I had hoped to do much better with reading in 2010 than I actually ended up doing. I managed to read or partially read 53 books (not all of which I reviewed and listed—some of them were smutty free books from Amazon that to be honest, weren’t worth reviewing. Yes, I’m admitting it. I read a few smutty romance novels to try to expand my horizons). My spreadsheet total says I read 21,000+ pages and averaged 465 pages per book I read. I am not sure that count is completely accurate because some of the books I haven’t finished yet.

What I learned about myself
I did learn that overdoing challenges really bogged me down in 2010. I didn’t enjoy reading as much because I felt obligated to hold to the challenges I had joined. So, toward the end of the year I gave up and just read what I felt like reading. It worked much better for me and I felt much more satisfied.

I did REALLY enjoy doing read-a-longs though. I finally trudged through Middlemarch with Lydia from The Literary Lollipop and Ellie, a friend from Shelfari. It made the experience enjoyable and we are all reading The Count of Monte Cristo together right now and through the first part of 2011. Instead of joining tons of challenges, I am going to concentrate more on joining read-a-longs from now on because I feel like I get more out of them.

I will however be doing two challenges in 2011:

Rikki from The Bookkeeper’s Steampunk Challenge
I have already started this one and plan to read a total of five books for the challenge.

Zee from Reading in the North’s Nordic Challenge
I am planning on reading at least one book from each Nordic country in this challenge. I have already chosen a book for Sweden called The Saga of Gosta Berling by Selma Lagerlöf. I still have to choose books for Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland. I can’t wait to start this one because I have a love affair with Scandinavia (and now Iceland too after reading The Tricking of Freya).

So I guess to make it official, I am going to make every effort to start blogging again. I miss all of my blogging friends too much to stay away. You guys have all been so supportive of me through my blogging break. I especially want to thank Amy from Amy Reads, Rachel from And the Plot Thickens, Rikki from The Bookkeeper, and Sarah from Bookworm Blues for being my sounding boards. All my blogging friends are great, but these ladies have really listened to me through some chats and are probably sick and tired of me moaning and groaning about life! I love all of my blogging friends though. You are all very special to me! Thank you all for being there in my time of need.

I am not sure that I’ll be posting three or more times a week, but my goal is to post one to two times a week and get my rear in gear for 2011. I am going to read where my heart takes me this year and not limit myself in any way other than these two challenges. I also may host a read-a-long of The Three Musketeers later this year when things settle down in life.

  • What are your plans for 2011?
  • Are you going to challenge yourself in any way this upcoming year, reading or otherwise?
  • What things will you change in your blog and/or reading habits from 2010 for the upcoming year?

Have a Happy New Year everyone!
Hope it’s a joyful year for all of us!

The Distant Hours–Kate Morton

Book: The Distant Hours
Author: Kate Morton
Publisher: Atria
576 pages (Hardcover)
My Rating:
4h stars

Edie has never had a close relationship with her mother, Meredith, but she does have a love of books that helped her through her youth. When Edie is on assignment for her job, she detours to Milderhurst where Raymond Blythe, the author of her favorite book lived. There she visits his castle and meets Raymond Blythe’s daughters who are all strange and unique in their own way. Little does she know that her visit will begin to unfold a mystery that involved her mother’s relocation to Milderhurst during WWII.

A few years ago I read Kate Morton’s previous book, The Forgotten Garden and really enjoyed the mystery she wove in it. When I found out that Morton was coming out with a new book I was more than excited to read it. It’s one of the few books that I knew I had to have as soon as it came out. I was not disappointed. The Distant Hours has the same mysterious build to a historical fiction story, but is told just as beautifully as The Forgotten Garden was.

The Distant Hours is not a typical mystery or thriller. There isn’t a psychopathic killer or kidnapper running around town. It involves family secrets that affect numerous people throughout the years. The story is about Raymond Blythe’s famous work, The True History of the Mud Man and the mystery surrounding it. The Blythe family has a mysterious history including a house fire that killed Raymond Blythe’s wife and a daughter that wanders around aimlessly and appears emotionally disturbed. Edie decides to visit the castle and is later commissioned to write the introduction to a new edition of The True History of the Mud Man. While visiting the castle to interview the two sisters that are well, she finds the family dynamic interesting and discovers so many things about the family.

The thing I really enjoy about Kate Morton’s writing is that there is something very calming and introspective about her mysteries. There is always some sense of self-discovery for the characters that make them reflect on who they are. The Distant Hours is no exception. Edie learns a lot about herself and her family through her work with the Blythe family. The writing is excellent and Morton knows how to delve into both her characters and her plots. 

I definitely recommend this for anyone who enjoys literary mysteries. Kate Morton is now one of my favorite writers and I will gobble up everything she writes!

*Notice of Disclosure: I received The Distant Hours for review from Atria Books.

**I am a Book Depository and IndieBound afilliate so If you purchase any of the books I have featured through the links I posted or from the banners in my left hand sidebar, I get a small commission from them. I am in no way compensated for the reviews I post of my books.

Getting in the Christmas Spirit

This year I have been having a lot of trouble getting in the Christmas Spirit. To make an effort, I decided to make a list of my favorite Christmas movies. Some of these I watch year round while others I only watch as part of my Christmas tradition.

White Christmas
This is one of my favorite movies of all-time. I admit it. I had a huge crush on Bing Crosby as a kid and developed a huge crush on Danny Kaye in my teen years. I love how Vera Ellen danced and Rosemary Clooney sang. I especially loved their dresses at the end of the movie and secretly wish I had one exactly like theirs to wear EVERY Christmas. I grew up with musicals because my mom liked them and this movie resonated with me. The songs in this movie are so good. Everytime I see snow I sing, “Snow…snow…snow….snow,” just like they did in the movie. I know I’m a dork, but wouldn’t life be more fun if sometimes we all sat around and sang like they did in the movies?

Love Actually
This movie is also among my favorites and isn’t only a Christmas tradition. I enjoy watching this film all year long. Hugh Grant is so loveable as the British PM and is just classic when he calls Margaret Thatcher a “saucy minx”. Or how about Billy Mack becoming a beloved Christmas figure by being utterly vulgar. All the characters in this are so loveable and it is one of my favorite movies because it has such wonderful actors like Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Martin Freeman, Colin Firth, Andrew Lincoln, and Liam Neeson. It’s such a feel good movie that personifies the new love, unrequited love, love of family, love on the rocks, and love of friendship.

While You Were Sleeping
This is another favorite movie of mine that I watch all year round. Sandra Bullock is one of the sweetest actresses and she is so wonderful in this movie. She plays Lucy, a young woman who is a booth operator at the “L” (Chicago Transit Authority) that is hopelessly in love with one of the regular riders, Peter. When he falls onto the tracks, Lucy saves him and is taken in by Peter’s family while he lays in a coma. They mistakenly think that Peter and Lucy are engaged and lots of hilarity ensues. Because Lucy doesn’t have family she is reluctant to tell Peter’s family the truth about her not being engaged to Peter. Peter also has a brother named Jack that Lucy begins to realize might be the one she is actually in love with. I really love this movie. Some of it really resonates with me which is maybe why I love it so much.

What is funnier than Will Ferrell as an elf? I can’t really think of anything. I love this movie! Zooey Deschanel is SO amazing in this as well. When she and Will Ferrell sing “Baby It’s Cold Outside” I was taken aback at what a lovely voice she has. It has this really old-timey quality to it that is just soothing to listen to. The movie also features another favorite actor of mine, Peter Dinklage! He’s so funny even though he doesn’t have an overly large part in the movie. Will Ferrell has this very innocent and hilarious quality in the film that I really enjoy and it is possibly my favorite movie of his.

The Santa Clause
OK…I’m not gonna lie. I might be a little embarrassed to put this one on, but you know what? I love this movie. Eric Lloyd was a super cute kid and Tim Allen was pretty darn funny in this movie. I also wanted to put a movie about Santa Claus in this list because I can’t leave the jolly fellow out! It’s been several years since I’ve seen this film, but I really like it and if it came on TV I would be sure to sit and watch it!

Scrooged is one of the first Christmas movies I remember seeing and absolutely loving besides White Christmas. Bill Murray does the unlikeable but eventually loveable Scrooge character and the cast surrounding him in this movie is awesome. Honestly, who doesn’t love Mary Lou Retton as Tiny Tim? She was my hero as a kid! I also remember thinking how hilarious Murray was when he told the production crew to staple the antlers on the reindeer mice—he was so ruthless! Glad he learned his lesson in the end!

So there you have it. My favorite Christmas movies of all-time. I know I left off the classics like It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street but honestly, they are not among my favorites.

What are some of your favorite Christmas or Holiday films?

Guest Post #7–Judith from The Netherlands shares her Book Read ‘Round the World Experience

World Map 4 (LoPC)

Lost on Planet China = Purple Pin
Journeying from Utrecht, The Netherlands to Ringgold, Georgia, USA
Distance Traveling = 4370 mi. / 7033 km.
Distance Traveled to Date = 16400 mi. / 26393 km.

Guest Post #7
Judith from The Netherlands

Judith from Leeswammes’ Blog in The Netherlands has sent her package off to Julie from Book Hooked Blog in Georgia, USA but since there are no spoilers in Judith’s guest post, it’s time to share her Book Read ‘Round the World experience. Judith has a regular feature called Book Bloggers Abroad that she has been running for a good portion of 2010. She is also hosting the Book Bloggers Abroad 2011 Challenge in which people will choose from a list of favorite books her featured guests mentioned in their posts. Julie from Book Hooked Blog has some AMAZING things on her blog. Besides being a Hunger Games fangirl, she is rather crafty and has two gorgeous Great Dane puppies that I love to read about. Please check out both these ladies’ blogs when you finish here. They are great bloggers and I love reading their blogs!


I’m Judith from Leeswammes. My blog is mainly about books but sometimes I post a recipe too. I read a lot of different types of books  but especially contemporary fiction, literary fiction, mystery, chick-lit, and anything else I get my hands on.

About the package:

The package arrived on an evening when I’d been to a book reading at a book shop, and I’d forced myself not to buy anything. A good thing too because when I came home, Carina’s package was waiting for me.

When I opened the package, I found a neat pile of books and cards. When I unfolded and opened all this I found:
  • A nice smiley card with a personal message (and 3 questions, which I will answer below)
  • A very old book called Twenty Five Ghost Stories by W. Bob Holland. This looks as if it’s from the 1930s or so. Very current, with Halloween just behind us.

  • The book: Lost on Planet China by J. Maarten Troost. The book looks in perfect state after having been read by Carin, Carly, and Carina and having travelled from the USA to the UK to Canada to The Netherlands. I tried to be careful to keep it nice. By the way, I was the first one to read this book whose name doesn’t start with “Ca”!
  • A bookmark with the text “Books Leave a Mark”.
  • A doorhanger with the text, “Shhhh…..I am reading for the MS Read-a-Thon!” and on the other side “Shhhh….. Je lis pour le Marathon de Lecture SP!”

  • A small children’s book: Pigs by R. Munsch who, Carina writes in her card, is one of the most famous and most prolific kids authors in Canada.
  • A Ride Guide. This is a public transit map of Toronto.
  • A book about Toronto, with lots and lots of pictures.
---After these two presents I just have to go to Toronto, it looks so nice!
  • A newspaper article about Word on the Street and a booklet about this event: a national book and magazine festival. I’m sure I’m going to be jealous after reading this!
  • A really nice poster saying “Freedom to Read Week”.

I was overwhelmed!

The Questions
The questions Carina asked were well thought-out, I thought.

What books would a Dutch child typically read (what books would be in the “collective knowledge” of most adults who grew up in The Netherlands)?

There are two series that are very popular. The first one is Nijntje (Miffy) which is also known around the world. This is for the smallest children. For the slightly older ones there is Jip and Janneke. In addition, when I was young, me and many other youngsters read a lot of Astrid Lindgren, the Swedish author of Pippi Longstocking.

Are there as many multilingual Dutch as they tell us over here?

Yes, a lot of people know several languages but not necessarily very well. Everyone in The Netherlands will get 4 years (or more) of secondary schooling in which English is required as a subject. Most also learn some French and German (I had 6 years of French and English and 4 years of German at school).

Also, we have a lot of English and American shows with Dutch subtitles. So, we are exposed to the original language and bound to pick up some words here  and there.

So even people who are not highly educated are likely to speak basic English. And if you get to the more touristic places, yes, then everyone will know their English and German.

What do most Dutch really think about pot smoking in Amsterdam?

Hmm, I don’t know what most Dutch think, but pot smoking isn’t something we all do. Some people seem to be into it a lot, especially 20-somethings with nothing better to do all day. Also, it’s very popular with tourists, as you can imagine.

I hate the smell. When I walked to work in Amsterdam I had to pass several “coffee shops” where they sell the stuff, and I really hated the smell. I can’t imagine any of my friends (in their 30s and 40s) smoking pot, but who knows? It’s not something that is happening in my circle of friends and family. I only notice the coffee shops in Amsterdam and other cities, but otherwise, it has nothing to do with me.

[I don’t think I got any information on Canada, so no “snippets of information”]

Shopping for Julie in Georgia, USA

I found it quite hard to find local things for Julie. I myself can’t stand very touristic things that you can find in many shops that only tourists ever visit. So I only bought from shops that I normally frequent.

A few items I got really early on, even before I got the book because I was keeping an eye open for something nice all the time. I was quite worried not being able to find enough nice goodies to go in the package.

When it was almost time to put the package together I combined this with shopping for the Great Grocery Bag Exchange. Combining the two made shopping a lot easier. Although I bought one item exactly the same for both packages, I was more inspired to buy local goodies this way.

A problem I had was that it was very hard to find anything in English that was still local. I didn’t succeed there  and included only items without text and one item in Dutch.

I also could not find a book in English by a Dutch author (which I had planned to include) so at the very last minute I found a novel on my shelves that takes place in the Netherlands but is written in English. I hope Julie will like it.

One Sentence Review of Lost on Planet China:
Initially a very lost traveler in China eventually becomes an expert China traveler compared to newbies.

Thanks for the great gifts, Carina. It was great to get your package. Thanks to Carin for organizing. A great idea and I loved reading the book. (Click HERE for Judith’s review of Lost on Planet China.)

The Great Grocery Bag Exchange - Your Loot!

The Great Grocery Bag Exchange - Your Loot!

Well, it's here! People have started receiving their packages and posting links on their blogs so if you are interested in seeing reusable grocery/book bags from around the world, click on the links below to see what everyone got! Thanks again to all those that participated in this event, and thanks to everyone checking out the links. It was heaps fun!

Blogging Break

After long and hard thought, I have decided to take a blogging break. With the holidays coming up and some personal issues I am having, I need to make this decision for myself. It's been a hard decision to make, but one I need to make. I hope to come back soon and return to blogging, but at this time, I can't give a definite time frame.

I will still read and post reviews for the books I've received for review, and I will still continue doing the Book Read 'Round the World Event so all those participating have nothing to worry about. I will still post your guest posts on my blog and the McKlinky will stay up for you to post links to your reviews of the books. I will also post a McKlinky for the Great Grocery Bag Exchange event as well.

I hope everyone has a really Happy Holidays and I'll still occasionally run around on Twitter so I don't lose touch with all of you. Thank you all for following my blog and being such good friends. I promise I'll be back and posting new reviews soon!

Friday Coffee Chat (19)–What are we telling young people?

What are we telling young people?

Jennifer from Girls Gone Reading is taking the week off of her portion of Friday Coffee Chat. She'll be back next week with a new post so make sure you stop by her blog next week!


This week I have invited Amy from Amy Reads and Rachel from And the Plot Thickens to cohost a special edition of this week’s Friday Coffee Chat. I have had conversations with both of them about the portrayal of young women in books. Because all three of us have read some of the paranormal romances like Twilight and Shiver, we decided to write about it this week and really open a dialogue about this topic.

Click here read Rachel and Amy’s full comments on the topic.

I have to say that for the most part, I don’t think a lot of the books are super harmful. I enjoyed Twilight even though it is clear that Bella has issues. To me, the relationship between her and Edward is troublesome, but not for the reasons everyone might think. His possessiveness I had always thought of as part of his vampiric nature which is animalistic—meaning that it is difficult to control (he does after all see Bella as filet mignon) so when he told Bella not to answer the phone when Jacob called, I thought that his vampiric nature was showing. I also never thought about the obsession/possessiveness because I thought, “Hey, there’s a group of bloodthirsty, super-fast vampires after her. I might want a scary vampire to protect me too!” However, after hearing what Rachel and Amy had to say, it gave me another perspective.

Rachel’s Point of View

Twilight has morphed into this oddly shaped monster that is devouring the minds and souls of women everywhere! Overly dramatic? Yup, totally. But with good justification. I am sure anyone who has been living and breathing for the past two years is just as sick of hearing about Twilight as I am.
So besides my obvious distaste for this series due to it's hold over the mass media, what else do I see is wrong with it? Frankly, it sends a very bad message to teenage girls and Bella is a shockingly poor role model for impressionable teens.

Teenage girls, in general, are moody, dramatic and easily swayed. I know this because I was one, and because I teach them. Every little thing is the end of the world. If I move a girl away from her friend for talking while I am trying to teach, that is cue for tears and tantrums.

They take dating very seriously and break ups... oh boy... It's a combination of World War III and a Joy Division song all rolled into one. So the fact that their role model is a girl their age, who has a dramatic break up then wants to die, worries me. The only reason she gets it back together is because of another guy. What sort of message is that sending?

I will say that in Shiver (click HERE for my review), Maggie Stiefvater accomplished what Stephanie Meyer did not when she actually brought up the painful subject of parental neglect when Sam confronted Grace about her absentee parents. However brief, it was something and extremely profound since so many teens turn to the opposite sex for love when they are not receiving it at home. The thing that disappointed me was that Grace didn’t seem to realize this and was the aggressor when pursuing Sam physically. There was so much hurt in her that turning to a physical act of love would eventually not cover up the emotional hurt from the lack of parental involvement in her life. However, I know the book was a romance so I need to give a little slack to the book and its author, Miss Stiefvater for my reservations about how the situation played out not only for the pure romance of it, but also for the truth in how those situations often play out.

Amy’s Point of View

This year I’ve been reading [a lot] more young adult books than I usually have in the past, and more recently published books. In my reading, I’ve been noticing a disturbing trend. Most (if not all) of the young adult paranormal books that I read show unhealthy relationships, girls being forced into things and then deciding they like it so of course he should have pushed her. They show girls who at the age of sixteen to eighteen are saying they know who and what they want for the rest of their lives – based on these unhealthy relationships and rape situations.

Twilight was one book, now it’s seeming like it's all books. This, to me, is disturbing. The more often we see the same message, the more we internalize it. The more we internalize it, without realizing it, the more we come to accept this behavior as normal. Yes, we like to think we know better than to believe these things, but if we get it enough times it won’t matter because we’ll absorb the message anyway.

As women, we want to read about strong women and yet we turn to these romance stories and enjoy them. While talking to Rachel and Amy the other day (they have a much more firm stance on these YA romances than I do), I made the comment that we love old fairy tales and don’t hate characters like Cinderella because she is also saved by a man from a terrible home situation and lives happily ever after. We realize that it is a fairy tale and fantasy, not real life. I pointed out that these YA romances today seem very much like that to me—modern day fairy tales that are not always written well but resonate with us on that fairy tale level.

Amy’s Point of View
Fairy tales aren't always the most positive representations for women... but the thing with older fairy tales though is that they were quite often written BY men FOR men and were about keeping us women in our place. As female authors have been re-telling them, they quite often create stronger female characters and show the positivity in the situations. With the young adult paranormal books we are still stuck in the past, only we have women writing these disparaging situations for women. Shouldn't we want to build each other up?

The situations in these ya paranormal books are, in my opinion, often written they way they are because it is the quickest and easiest way to move forward. They are fighting? Well, don't have them talk it out respectfully, have him jump her and she will realize how much she loves him deep down and everything will get better. I refuse to give authors the pass anymore, so I will point it out.

One book isn’t a big deal, a constant barrage of the same unhealthy message certainly is.

Rachel’s Point of View
I just want to make it clear that I am not anti-sex in teen books. I think sex is an important issue and needs to be addressed. It's a natural part of life for teens and a good YA book should talk about it (so it's not taboo) but in a educational/responsible way. It should not glamorize sex, or make it 'a bad thing', just something that should be well thought out before you take that 'big step'. Making the decision to have sex takes emotional intelligence which a teen does not get just because they have turned 16. This is something that YA books seem to miss. Usually the character (and often the female) can't wait to be bedded and practically jumps the male! Although true for some teens, how about looking at why she feels so needy that sex seems like the best way to be close to her honey?. I'm all for a bit of a nakie romp but not because your parents neglect you and you want to feel loved. That does not send a good message.

Point is, paranormal romance does not send a good message to teenage girls and I really hope this all just a passing craze. It's time we started giving our teens (and adults) great books to read! Stories with strong, morally grounded heroines who take on the world and retain their individuality in the face of adversity! Who never stop fighting and live good,well-rounded lives. We need heroines who put education, achievement and being true to themselves before shacking up with a hottie.

Some good food for thought from Rachel and Amy. Make sure you check out both of their complete statements HERE

So my questions for readers this week are:
  • Do you think that the female protagonists in YA romance novels are poor role models for young women?

  • Do you think that teenagers are not capable of understanding these situations where young women depend on young men are fantasy and not how healthy relationships really are?

  • Do you find some of the sexual content objectionable where it normalizes teen sex rather than make it something that should be more thoughtful on an emotional level?

  • Are you disturbed by the trend of adult women fawning over these teenage boy characters who give so much attention (sometimes in a far too controlling way) to their female counterparts? Is it inappropriate?

Shiver–Maggie Stiefvater

Book: Shiver
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press
392 pages (Hardcover)
My Rating:
3h stars

As a child, Grace was brutally attacked by wolves. She only remembers seeing a wolf with mysterious yellow eyes as she lapsed from consciousness. Over the years she watches this same wolf with amber eyes watching her from the woods. She feels drawn to him and has a real connection with him. Sam enters Grace’s life in the waning warm months of the year. He also has amber eyes and Grace immediately knows that there is more to Sam than most people think.

Rikki from The Bookkeeper and I decided to do a read-a-long together because I am not big on romance books and am trying to open myself up to different genres. She suggested Shiver because she hadn’t read it either and we have both heard good things about it. My review below will include some SPOILER type discussion so if you are interested in the book and don’t want to know anything about it, I would navigate away at this point.

Shiver has created a lot of dialogue between some of my book blogging friends and I. I found it enjoyable, but I also found that something was lacking for me. The writing had a distant quality to it, so connecting with the characters was actually quite difficult. I felt like even they felt like they were on the outside looking in on their own lives. I wonder if Maggie Stiefvater intentionally wrote the book this way or if this is just her writing style. Either way, it didn’t necessarily hamper my enjoyment of the book, but it was something that I noticed throughout the book. The chapters are divided into Grace and Sam point of view chapters

There is something about teen romance that I find problematic. I don’t know if things have changed that much since I was a teenager in the 90’s, but I feel like the YA books I’ve read to date are much more mature in teen language regarding romance and sex. For example, when Sam and Grace are having a “romantic” moment, Sam growls and Grace says:

‘That was so sexy,’ she said, voice uneven. ‘I didn’t think you could get any sexier.’

I find dialogue like this problematic between teens because as a teenager I frankly would have been too awkward to say something so bold to a boy. I also get uncomfortable reading scenes that include sex between teens (although I know in some books there is a sociological importance to confronting the issue) because frankly it makes me feel like a peeper in a inappropriate private moment between underage people. Can’t teens find something more constructive to do than fall into bed with each other? I know it’s just the reality of things, but I sometimes feel like sex between underage people is encouraged now. I was a teen in the time when it started being normalized, but we were introduced to the perils of it as well including teen pregnancy and STDs (which were both all too common at my high school). I feel like all forms of media now make teen sexuality less taboo than it probably should be. In this respect, I think Shiver is not alone in romanticizing teen sex rather than showing it for what it really usually ends up with—heartbroken young people who often make poor choices and give a part of themselves to someone.

However, this being said, I do think that Shiver dealt with parental neglect in a way that Twilight did not. There was actually discussion about the absentee parents Grace had to live with whereas in Twilight it was more taken for granted that Bella came from a neglectful home. Sam did confront Grace about her parents behavior and it was clear that she was hurt by them not being a major part of her life.

[Sam] ‘Does it bother you? That your parents are the way they are?’…[Grace] ’Why can’t I make them love me any more than they do?’…[Sam] ‘Grace, they love you. It’s not about you. It’s their problem.’ [Grace] ‘I’ve tried so hard. I never get into trouble. I always do my homework. I cook their damn meals, when they’re home, which is never—‘…”

Grace’s pain is tangible and real and is something that many teens deal with. I was glad for this discussion since essentially she was shacking up with Sam for a good deal of the book and her parents were none the wiser. I thought it gave a better understanding to her humanity and her desire to be loved. People might argue that Grace should not find her love and identity in a boy, but I think this is part of the human condition so I actually applauded this portion of the book because it is a situation I could see happening. However, I wonder how teens would deal with a passage like this. Are they mature enough to see that they don’t actually have to find their identity in a boy and that the fairy tale romance is not usually something that occurs?

Overall, I did enjoy the book. I will read Linger (the second book in the series) at some point in the future, but the disconnected feeling of the writing kept me from thinking this was a really good read. I also didn’t care for the song lyrics and poetry recitation in the book. What it boils down to is that I’m truly not a romantic for the most part. I think I would think it was corny if someone sang to me or recited a poem for me. I’m going to own that unromantic side of my personality. It may work really well for others though so if you enjoy those heartfelt declarations then Sam Roth is definitely a loveable male character. I definitely recommend Shiver as discussion material for teens and adults. I found that in the end it was definitely a worthwhile read because of the dialogue it created for me and my friends.

Links of Interest
Rikki at The Bookkeeper – Shiver Update #1
Rikki at The Bookkeeper's full Shiver Review
Chachic's Review of Shiver
Iris from Iris on Books' Review of Shiver

**I am a Book Depository and IndieBound afilliate so If you purchase any of the books I have featured through the links I posted or from the banners in my left hand sidebar, I get a small commission from them. I am in no way compensated for the reviews I post of my books.

The Gates–John Connolly

Book: The Gates
Author: John Connolly
Publisher: Atria Books
295 pages (Hardcover)
My Rating:
4 stars

Samuel Johnson is ready for Halloween—so ready in fact that he and his dog Boswell have gone trick-or-treating a few days early. The first door he knocks on is the Abernathy house and he is rudely sent away. Little does he know that strange things are afoot at the Abernathy house and that all Hell is about to break loose. Literally!

I have never read John Connolly before and I don’t know much about him, but I have to say, my journey into YA has been quite fun because The Gates was AWESOME. I am not sure how to tell everyone that a book about the Gates of Hell being opened and demons wreaking havoc in England could be fun and hilarious, but this book was just that. Samuel is a really clever little boy and has the obligatory adorable and faithful dog, and his friends are pretty cool too. The book is a little reminiscent of The Goonies with the kids running around and having a great adventure, but instead of pirates, they are battling The Great Malevolence.

I like that the kids are at the forefront of the adventure and are basically put in place to save the planet because kids suspend disbelief more often than adults. This was pointed out to me at my book club and I wish I had thought of that while I was reading the book. There is a faith in children that adults just don’t have and The Gates truly showed that adventurous and creative spirit that kids have.

I didn’t find any of the demons to be scary. Some of them were downright funny. I don’t want to give any of their antics away, but there was one demon in particular that was a major character in the book that I feel ok to write about. Nurd, The Scourge of the Five Deities is the demon with the heart of gold. He’s a little rough around the edges, but he means well despite being a demon. He is the most loveable character in the book and he really is competing with Hellboy for my favorite demon of all-time!

In all, I thought this was a great book to read during Halloween or really any other time. It has more humor than horror and recommend it to people who want a light hearted, quick read. I will definitely be picking up more of John Connolly’s books in the future!

Link of Interest
Man of la Book's review of The Gates

**I am a Book Depository and IndieBound afilliate so If you purchase any of the books I have featured through the links I posted or from the banners in my left hand sidebar, I get a small commission from them. I am in no way compensated for the reviews I post of my books.

Friday Coffee Chat–Book Burnout

What do you do when you have book burnout?

Last week on Friday Coffee Chat we talked about movies that were better than the books. I was surprised to see so many movies on people’s lists and I definitely have to add some of these movies to my Netflix queue. After you weigh in on this week’s chat, head over Jennifer at Girls Gone Reading’s Friday Coffee Chat. This week she is talking about reading fears so make sure you let her know what you think!


As readers we all go through book burnout. I occasionally see the blog entries from other bloggers about how they are feeling when they go through a reading slump. Mostly it seems like we all want to know what to do to get us back to reading. The more I’ve thought about it lately, the more I’ve realized that yes, sometimes I go through reading slumps, and I’ve felt guilty about putting down my books and doing other things. Lately I’ve been wondering why I’ve felt guilty. It makes no sense. I have a lot of different interests and I realize now that it’s ok to go through periods where I read less. Does this make me any less of a reader? I don’t think so. I just like other activities besides reading.

So, let’s throw the guilt out of the window. When I hit these slumps there are a few things that are my go tos:

I find crocheting so relaxing. I don’t have to think about what I’m doing and I can just sit and watch a movie while I make cool things like blankets! I am also trying to teach myself to knit. These are worthwhile things to do I think because it works a different part of my brain than reading does.

OK…this one is a vice in a way. Sometimes I watch WAY too much television and films, but I do think that sometimes I watch really good quality film and television that I don’t feel bad. Other times I admit that I watch utter crap and still enjoy it. I really enjoy watching foreign films and documentaries which to me, open my eyes to the world and lets me see culture and events outside of the United States.

2010-10-29 21.06.47
My Dogs
Oh the baddies! I love them though and sometimes I just would rather take them for a walk than read. They get so much joy out of being outside of the house and it makes me happy to watch their doggie faces of joy.

Sometimes just like to shoot the breeze with friends. I like having coffee or dinner with friends once in awhile just to get outside of myself and see what is going on with them.

So there it is. Those are some of the things that I really enjoy when I’m not reading or in a reading slump. I refuse to feel guilty about enjoying these things anymore. Life is too short to not enjoy every moment!

  • Do you ever feel guilty about going through times where you don’t read very much?
  • What are some of the things that you enjoy outside of reading?
  • Is there anything you wish you could learn to do outside of your reading time?

Eco Libris’ Green Books Campaign–Finding Chief Kamiakin

Today is the day! 200 bloggers are simultaneously posting reviews of books that are produced on environmentally friendly paper. Eco Libris in partnership with Indigo Books and Music is running the Green Books Campaign to raise consumer awareness about considering the environment when purchasing your books. I really like what they have to say on their vision page: “We don’t believe in preaching doom and gloom. It’s not our style. We do believe in taking action and in the power of small changes to make a big impact.”

Personally, I had never thought about books being printed on environmentally friendly paper until this event. I feel a little ashamed of that since I do like to buy paper products that are recycled when I can. I really like that this campaign has made me more aware of the processes in which books are made and now that I’ve been sent a book to review (and seen another called The Texas Legacy Project) I know what to look for when I purchase books.

I received the book Finding Chief Kamiakin by Richard D. Scheuerman and Michael O. Finley to review. On the inside of the book where all the copyright and publishing information is, this small line was included:

The Texas Legacy Project had an emblem on the inside of the book indicating that it was produced by environmentally friendly methods (Jenn from Picky Girl is reviewing that book so head over to her blog if you are interested in reading about it). If you are interested in this campaign, but you haven’t signed up to participate, here is a link to Eco-Libris’ blog on things you can do to promote the campaign. If any of the books interest you (and there are MANY good ones), take a trip to your local bookstore or order it online! The more demand for green books the more publishers will supply them!

I thank Eco Libris and Indigo Books and Music for allowing me to be a part of the Green Books Campaign and hope to participate next year as well. I think they are doing a very good thing promoting sustainable and environmentally friendly paper in books.

Click here to see other reviews from Eco Libris’ Green Books Campaign

On to my review…

Book: Finding Chief Kamiakin – The Life and Legacy of a Northwest Patriot
Author: Richard D. Scheuerman and Michael O. Finley
Publisher: WSU Press
175 pages (Coffee table paperback book)
My Rating: I am halfway through the book so I will only say that so far it is excellent!

Chief Kamiakin was an important chief of Inland Washington area in the mid-1850s. It was a time of westward expansion and both the fur trade and gold mining were booming. The indigenous people of the Northwest were faced with having their ancestral lands moved in on by the White man and sought to protect their people and their way of life. Chief Kamiakin rose to prominence because he believed in protecting this very thing. He heard about other indigenous peoples’ encounters with White men and was wary about what would happen to his own people and the land they lived off of. Despite these sweeping changes that were about to happen, Kamiakin was an honorable man that welcomed White men, albeit cautiously. When it became evident that U.S. policy was to take the land whether it was agreed upon or not, Kamiakin and some of his fellow Indians took up arms to protect their way of life.

This review is going to be posted in two parts since I am only halfway through the book. I also admit that I have never actually read a coffee table sized book because I tend to just pick it up and look at the pictures. This book has convinced me that I need to start paying more attention to large size books because so far, it is excellent! I know nothing about the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest and when this book popped up on the Eco Libris campaign I jumped at the chance to review it. So far, the story goes almost like all other native peoples’ stories in the U.S that I am familiar with. There is one big difference. The Pacific Northwest natives knew of previous treatment of other indigenous people so they knew what they were facing and those odds were not in their favor. It is interesting to read about how they dealt with the coming changes and how their lives have already been affected by the change with more accessible trade routes.

I am tempted to say that this was an advantage for them, but this would be a lie. Governor Isaac Stevens was bent on having the railroad built in Washington and opening up the land to mining and agriculture. Kamiakin was aware of Stevens’ goals and sought out the advice of Father Pandosy, a man he considered a trusted friend. What Pandosy told Kamiakin was disheartening:

“It is as I feared,” Pandosy told Kamiakin, “the Whites will take your country as they have taken other countries from the Indians….Where there are only a few here now, others will come with each year until your country will be overrun with them….[Y]our lands will be seized and your people driven from their homes. It has been so with other tribes; it will be so with you. You may fight and delay for a time this invasion, but you cannot avert it. I have lived many summers with you and baptized a great many of your people into the faith. I have learned to love you. I cannot advice or help you. I wish I could.” (p. 31-32 Finding Chief Kamiakin)

The book is written in such a way that although it is non-fiction, I felt myself reacting with true sorrow over statements like these. Scheuerman and Finley write in a mostly clear and powerful manner and quotes like these were placed in a way that make me feel like I was there watching that exchange take place. Chief Kamiakin must have felt despair for his people and for himself at what he knew was inevitable. Rather than allow his people to suffer on reservations that didn’t include things like their traditional fishing grounds, Kamiakin and others took up arms to give their people a chance to have at least some of their way of life preserved. After fighting at Toppenish Creek, Kamiakin had a letter dictated to Father Pandosy that was one of the most powerful things I have ever read. Here is a short excerpt:

“If the Governor had said to us, my children, I am asking you a parcel of land in each tribe for the Americans, but the land and your country are always yours, we would then have given with good will what he would have asked us and we would have lived with you as brothers. But he has taken us in small groups and thrown us out of our native country, into a strange land among people who is our enemy (for between us we are enemies) in a place where our people do not even have enough to eat for themselves.” (p. 48, Finding Chief Kamiakin)

I admired his efforts to fight for enough land to sustain his people. Governor Stevens seemed to be a major part of the problem (but I do feel if it weren’t him it would have been someone else that did exactly the same thing) and didn’t understand nor care about the Indians’ differences in culture and tribe. Stevens was of the prevailing thought of the day—that the Indians would assimilate and learn to farm and graze livestock or be eliminated from the earth. This was all too common in westward expansion. Were the leaders of the tribes supposed to sit there and watch their children starve because they couldn’t live off of the land? Reservations were not the choice pieces of land that allowed people to live fruitfully.

Thus far, the book gives a very good, descriptive account of what the Palouses, Cayuses, Yakamas, and other native groups faced during the American expansion into the Inland Washington area. The chiefs of the Washington tribes were skilled in negotiations because of their experiences in trading and their knowledge of the Americans’ westward movement. It makes it difficult to read because they were fighting a losing battle both on the war front and the diplomacy front. This book and others should be read by us all because all too often we do not see how our nations’ policies and actions affect those people that we are trying to help or infringing upon. It is a part of history that isn’t covered very well in U.S. History class—we tend to applaud the idea of Manifest Destiny and the entrepreneurial spirit, but our actions as a nation had consequences to those people we infringed upon. I am loving Finding Chief Kamiakin – The Life and Legacy of a Northwest Patriot because it is giving a clear voice to the indigenous people of the United States—one that is long overdue.

**I will post Part 2 of my review next week or the week after.

On the Edge–Ilona Andrews

Book: On the Edge (Book 1: The Edge)
Author: Ilona Andrews
Publisher: Ace Fantasy
309 pages / Paperback
My Rating:
3 stars

Rose Drayton is a resident of the The Edge, the area between the non-magical Broken and the aristocratic magical Weird. The people of the Edge don’t quite fit into either world, but they are usually able to cross over into either realm. Rose works an under the table job in the Broken where magic doesn’t exist, but her astonishing abilities make her attractive to those in the Edge and the Weird. Between working hard for pennies and having people pursuing her for her magic, Rose’s plate is further filled with caring for her two brothers. When a blueblood noble named Declan shows up at her doorstep, Rose believes that he is only after her magical abilities. Little does she know that his appearance is about to turn her life upside down.

After reading the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews I was really excited to read On the Edge. However, because I'm not a huge fan of romance Chachic from Chachic’s Book Nook warned me that it is a little more on the romance side than Kate Daniels was. I’ve promised myself to be more open to different genres (including romance) so I picked it up and read it. The book is in fact more heavy on the romance, but it still features a woman that can take care of herself and doesn’t feel she has to identify herself by a man. I think Ilona Andrews definitely writes some of the better female characters when it comes to romance because there isn’t as much angst or misplaced anger in them. They are quite simply, strong women. Rose is no exception. Although she does spend a good portion of the book attracted to Declan, I never felt like her character was overtaken by the need to be loved by a man. She felt a strong duty to herself and her family and had her own identity throughout.

However, this book fell short to some extent for me. It just wasn’t as exciting as I thought it would be. There was definitely good world building and good action, but for some reason I felt a little disconnected with the characters of Rose and Declan. I actually enjoyed the supporting players in the book more than the the main characters. This isn’t a bad thing since I love a good supporting cast, but I wish that I liked Rose and Declan a little more than I did. I am not sure that I felt the real connection between them as a couple and their relationship was definitely a big part of the book. The romantic tension just wasn’t quite up to my expectations. Don’t let this turn you off the book though because the story was actually good and the world was interesting. I also say this because the first books of series oftentimes just set up what is to come in the world its building, and I’m wondering if that is the case in this series.

The world itself was interesting. There is a dark character that is bent on having his way (no spoiler here because that’s just a plot point in pretty much all fantasy books) and the way peoples’ magic is used in the story kept me guessing as to how things would turn out. I like the idea that the magical world and the non-magical worlds couldn’t mix except for this select group of people from The Edge. I also enjoyed the rural Georgia setting which I wasn’t expecting to like. I ended up thinking it was the perfect setting for a story like this.

I am definitely looking forward to reading book two of the series, Bayou Moon because it is about Declan's friend William who was my favorite character in On the Edge. I recommend this book to people who like enjoy urban fantasy and paranormal romance that is fast but with decent world building, strong characters, and a little bit of romance.

Link of Interest
Chachic’s Book Nook’s review of On the Edge (she loved it and her review will give you a different perspective)

*Notice of Disclosure: I received On the Edge for review from Penguin Books.

**I am a Book Depository and IndieBound afilliate so If you purchase any of the books I have featured through the links I posted or from the banners in my left hand sidebar, I get a small commission from them. I am in no way compensated for the reviews I post of my books.

Friday Coffee Chat (17)–Better Than The Book

The Movie/TV Show is Better Than the Book!

Last week on Friday Coffee Chat we talked about whether or not we imagine everything we read right down to length of someone’s hair. I found out that I’m somewhat of an oddity because I am one of those people that imagines everything, but there are a few people that read the same way I do! It makes me feel like less of a freak! Jennifer at Girls Gone Reading talked about whether or not we require great lines in books to really love them. Make sure you check out Girls Gone Reading’s post this week on Friday Coffee Chat after you comment here.


This morning, one of my friends posted an article from the Huffington Post on my Facebook page talking about movies that are better than their paper counterparts. Is this possible? Blasphemy you say? Surely there must be a movie or TV show that you saw that a) was better than the book, b) made you feel it was unnecessary to read the book, or c) was just as good as the book. I definitely have a few shows and movies that are amazing.

I’m just going to admit it right off the bat. I loved Sense and Sensibility starring Emma Thompson. I could watch it OVER and OVER again. Could I read the book over and over?…hmmmm…No. I read it, and maybe someday I’ll read it again, but for now, I’m good snuggling up on the couch with my dogs and watching the movie. I think most Jane Austen fans would think that was blasphemous because the movie does combine some characters and inevitably left things out. Emma Thompson was also older than Eleanor Dashwood was supposed to be. I don’t care. I love her. She’s my favorite actress and I could watch that movie forever!

Field of Dreams is another movie that I don’t know if it’s better than the book, Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella, but it comes pretty close. I mean, that scene with Annie when she is protesting at the school board meeting to ban books is perfect. “You want to step outside you Nazi cow?!!!” Now tell me there is a better line than that?! Atonement is another movie that I thought was just as good as the book. The film was beautiful and stayed very faithful to the story. Even the casting was perfect for the film.

In television, Band of Brothers is probably one of my all-time favorites. I actually do like it better than the book because I think it captured the essence of brotherhood better. The book was fantastic as well, but the mini-series I watch several times a year. I watch it so often that I know some of the lines in each of the episodes and I even know most of the more minor characters (who aren’t really ‘characters’ since they were real people).

The other show that I haven’t read the book for, but it’s on my short list of non-fiction that I MUST read is The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood by David Simon and Edward Burns which HBO’s The Wire is loosely based on. The Wire is simply the best television series I have ever seen in my life. The book itself actually had a mini-series that was produced before The Wire, and I need to see that as well. It’s an amazing show.

…And my last TV show, is True Blood. The show is SO much better than the books (of which I have only read four). The books are ok, but the show is just amazingly written. The characters are better, the situations are better…but Bill is still as boring as ever and Sookie is still just as life-sucking as ever. It’s the supporting cast and writing in that show that makes it worth watching and the dialogue is so good! I love it.

So the questions for this week are:
  • What movies or TV shows do you think are BETTER than the book and tell us all why you think that.
  • Are there any movies or TV shows you think are comparable to the book and you enjoy them equally?
  • What TV shows or movies have you seen that make you want to read the book?

The Great Grocery Bag Exchange!

The Great Grocery Bag Exchange!

Have you been aching to get a piece of the international blogging community, but are short on funds? Well, look no further because here is an exchange that is relatively inexpensive and helps you find and meet bloggers from outside of your country! The Great Grocery Bag Exchange is here and I am looking for people to join in on the worldwide fun!

How did this start? Well, in the Book Read ‘Round the World event on my blog, a group of us are sending small gifts with a book we all read around the world. Some of the cooler gifts we have been receiving have been reusable grocery bags! They are cheap, you use them all the time to lug stuff around in, and they are all unique since they are from a country other than our own. For a few of us, it’s become an obsession. I’ve received bags from Germany, The Netherlands, and Australia and am looking forward to adding to my collection. I look so posh when I go to the grocery store with my special bag that no one else has! Haha!

If you are interested in joining, fill out the Google Doc form below. There are a few requirements:
  • You must send between 1-2 reusable grocery bags.
  • A small treat from your country is optional (postcard, candy, etc.) but is NOT required.
  • You must have an active blog or be active on Twitter so I can keep in touch with you.
  • You can sign up to send to more than one person, but no more than three people.
  • You must be willing to send the package First Class or by Air Mail (no Pony Express, Sea Mail, or other super slow mail is allowed).

If you feel like you can meet all these requirements, fill out the Google Doc Form below by November 12, 2010. I will pair people up and send e-mails out with who you will send to one November 13. You will have one week to ship everything out to the person or people that you have been paired with.

Remember that others are buying bags for you and are spending money on postage as well so it is courteous to get your package out on time. All your information will be kept private and will only be shared with those you swap with.

Signups are closed. 

Friday Coffee Chat (14) – Are you a dreamer?

Are you an imaginative reader?

Last week on Friday Coffee Chat we talked about whether or not big name reviews were important to us and most of us get our book recommendations from people we trust rather than a nameless person that doesn’t know anything about us. However, some of us felt that the big name review often trickled down to our reading lists because the books that are reviewed by big name media outlets are often heavily marketed.

Make sure you check out Jennifer at Girls Gone Reading for this week’s Friday Coffee Chat and last week’s chat on the books that turned you into a reader.


This week on Friday Coffee Chat I wanted to ask how many of us are imaginative readers. What do I mean by this? I am a slow reader. Why? I’m slow because I often imagine EVERYTHING about a book—the setting, the characters, their accents, what clothes they are wearing, and how they wear their hair among other things. It’s so bad that I even sometimes read out loud to myself trying to imitate whatever accent I think the character speaks. If there isn’t a lot of dialogue, I imagine the narration to be by some fabulous actor or actress with a wonderful voice that just fits the book perfectly. I even do this with non-fiction books no matter what they are.

I think that classifies me as an imaginative reader (this is a term I just made up—who knows what it’s really called…probably GOOFY!). I know people that tend to speed read and they don’t necessarily create the entire world in their head. To me, the concept of this is completely foreign. I wouldn’t comprehend anything, but all these people have excellent reading comprehension and often remember just as much or more than I do once they are done with the book.

I also have a tendency to change the “look” of the character if I don’t like the way they are described. I am not a fan of flowing, long, man hair so whenever there is a character written with long hair, I usually change it in my mind to short and some actor I think is handsome. Is that weird?!!! Probably! I do the same thing for girls. There is such a shortage of female characters that are minorities in the books I read that I never feel like I could ever put myself in their shoes since I could never look like them. Is that weird?! Probably! Either way, they get switched to Asian or Hispanic or Black or any other minority in my head sometimes just for variety and to know that yes, I could be a character in a book!

So my questions for you readers this week are:
  • Are you an imaginative reader? Do you build the world and characters in your head?
  • Are you a speed reader and you don’t imagine anything while reading—you just comprehend it all and move on?
  • Could you ever fathom trying the opposite of what you do when you read?

Guest Post #6 – Carina from Canada shares her Book Read ‘Round the World Experience

Lost on Planet China = Purple Pin
Journeying from Toronto, Ontario, Canada to Utrecht, The Netherlands
Distance Traveling = 3733 mi. / 6007 km.
Distanced Traveled to Date = 12030 mi. / 19360 km.

Guest Post #6
Carina from Canada

Judith at Leeswammes’ Blog is still awaiting her package from Carina at Reading Through Life, but since there are no spoilers in Carina’s guest post, it’s time to share her experience! Carina has a regular feature on Reading Through Life called Reading Roots in which she interviews bloggers about their early reading influences and experiences. She also just recently finished a month of Ramadan reading where she featured books by and/or about Muslim Culture and Religion. Judith also has a wonderful blog that features her weekly Book Bloggers Abroad posts where she interviews book bloggers from around the world. Make sure you stop by both of these blogs because they are fantastic!


Hello! My name is Carina, and I blog over at Reading Through Life. I’m a 20-something Canadian book blogger and high school teacher, living and working in downtown Toronto.
I’ve been blogging for just under a year now (my “blogoversary” is at the end of December), and I’m having a great time meeting people and being exposed to books that I likely would never have known about. I blog about a lot of different things, but I generally keep to the topics of books, reading, and literacy – which includes everything from book reviews (most of what I do), read-a-thons, read-a-longs, challenges, theme months and events (such as Ramadan Reading), and discussions about various topics, including literacy education and reading engagement.

From Carly in the UK:
One day, I got a package in the mail. It was actually kinda funny, because it had SO MUCH packing tape holding it together. See?


I have to say, I was bowled over by the great things that Carly sent me! There was just so much of it, I wasn’t expecting that. (It also made for a really hard act for me to follow!) Here’s what I saw as soon as I opened up the package:

As you can see, there’s two different books: the one for the event (Lost on Planet China), and another (Girl, Interrupted). Here’s the funny thing – Carly knew nothing about me going into this, and somehow managed to buy me the book of one of my absolute favourite films of all time! Also, I’ve never read it before. I haven’t gotten to it yet, but I’m seriously looking forward to it. Such an awesome choice, Carly!


Inside the bags you see pictured above, there was even more awesome stuff. Let’s start with the contents of the bookstore bag – Jane Austen things! I have, strangely enough, never read anything by Jane Austen, even though I have a specialist degree in English literature. (Strange, no?) Even with that, though, I absolutely adore women writers, and I loved the things that Carly sent – a postcard of “Jane Austen in Bath” (a pseudo-map with pictures, quotes, facts, and places related to Jane Austen), and a mini-book of “Jane Austen in her own words”. They’ve encouraged me even more to finally get around to reading some of her work!


Next, I will show you the contents of the Bath bag (and no, it didn’t contain bubbles and Epsom salts). Instead, it was full of awesome tourist-y things! From left to right, top to bottom, here’s a list of the contents in the picture:


1.    a Souvenir Picture Guide to Bath, World Heritage City
2.    what seems to be a leather bookmark (?) from Bath, with a crest and two small etchings of Pulteney Bridge and Royal Crescent
3.    a Pictorial Map & Guide to the City of Bath
4.    a postcard of Bath Abbey (West Front)
5.    a postcard of the Roman Bath
6.    a postcard of The Royal Crescent
Finally, here’s the letter that Carly sent to me. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the paper and envelope are this really cute light blue!


Here are the questions she asked me, and the answers!

1. Have you seen a bear? A WILD bear? Please tell me you have or my vision of Canada will be crushed forever.

I’m really, really sorry, but I’m going to have to crush your vision. I have never once seen a bear outside of the zoo (though my boyfriend has seen a bear in a conservation area in British Columbia, though that’s not much “wilder” than bears in a zoo). HOWEVER – I have seen a deer and a moose up close, right by the road on my way north to go camping! Is that good enough?

2. If a friend was visiting Ontario and asked you advice on where to stay, what restaurant to eat in and what bar to drink in – where would you recommend?

It would depend a lot on where exactly they were staying and how much money they had to spend. For the sake of argument, I’m going to assume that they’re coming to Toronto and have unlimited supplies of cash. (Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?) Actually, that only really applies for the hotel, the other two recommendations are pretty inexpensive.
a)    stay in the Royal York. I’ve never been inside their rooms, but the building is absolutely gorgeous and so is the food that I’ve eaten (once!) in the dining room. They also have afternoon tea on weekends, which I haven’t had the pleasure of trying yet, but I imagine that it’s divine.
b)    eat at Fran’s. There are two different locations (both downtown), and they’ve been a local pillar for 70 years. It’s traditional pub food and all-day breakfast with a mix of other things, open 24 hours, and an extremely popular hangout for students, the after-hours bar crowd, and pretty much anyone else. Have the apple pie.
c)    drink at C’est What? It’s downtown, and they have a ridiculously awesome menu full of local craft beer (35 different ones on tap alone!), international whiskies, and a variety of Ontario wines.

3. What are your thoughts on Justin Bieber? Do you have Bieber fever?

My thoughts can be summed up in one word: ick. I simply cannot wrap my head around the thousands of people who scream and chase after this young boy – especially the adults! He’s a child, people! I have no objections to his music, though I usually try to avoid most pop and thought he was a girl the first time I heard him sing.

4. What’s your favourite attraction in Ontario and why?

I would probably say that Niagara Falls is my favourite “attraction”. It’s gorgeous, and there’s tons of stuff to see and do, no matter when you go! There’s even a bike train from Toronto during the summer months, which I’ve taken, that allows you to spend a day or whole weekend riding around the area checking out all of the beautiful scenery and everything else.

Sent to Judith in the Netherlands:
I spent a good couple weeks compiling things to send to Judith ... but you’ll have to wait and see what she got! I didn’t take any pictures before mailing off the package, but I can tell you that it includes a lot of local flair and a bit of a sneaky item that has to do with her location in a very roundabout way.
Thanks so much to Carin for organizing this event! It’s been so much fun.
Related Posts with Thumbnails
Home | Gallery | Tutorials | Freebies | About Us | Contact Us

Copyright © 2009 A Little Bookish |Designed by Templatemo |Converted to blogger by BloggerThemes.Net

Usage Rights

DesignBlog BloggerTheme comes under a Creative Commons License.This template is free of charge to create a personal blog.You can make changes to the templates to suit your needs.But You must keep the footer links Intact.