Saturday, September 13, 2014

Bloggiesta September 2014 Master To Do List


This couldn't come at a better time.  I have a lot of things related to my blog that need to be done.  And here are the things that I need to get completed:

• complete book reviews up until The Martian
• cross-post book reviews on book reviews until the end of 2012 on Goodreads
• cross-post 2014 book reviews to BookLikes
• updates on the 2014 challenges that I am committed to (link up reviews to the various pages I set up and make a master post of where I am in those various challenges).
• clean up labels
• participate in a twitter chat (if I remember)


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sunday Salon - Of beaches, mountains and books


As I write this, my summer vacation is coming to a close.  I realize that I am saying this when most summer vacations ended last week, but where I live most kids are still on summer vacation and will be for the foreseeable future and hence I am also off as well, not that I would like to be off.

And due to this extended summer break, I have been off since the middle of June (usually I am off at the end of June) and have been able to do somethings that I would not have otherwise done.

My break started off with a nice little day trip to a sea-side town near my hometown where my parents and I had some wonderful fish and chips after which we had a nice walk down the boardwalk to where some ugly gates had been erected (didn't take photos of the gates).  It was a really nice day and fairly quiet compared to when I came back a couple of weeks later and crawling with people seeking some cooler weather on Canada Day.

West Beach (White Rock, BC)

A few days later, my parents and I headed to Vancouver and went to FlyOver Canada, which was incredible, and afterwards we walked around to the new Vancouver Convention Centre and sat at a local coffee shop for a bit before walking into Gastown for a little while (my parents went to a concert with some of their friends later that evening) before I headed home.

Me at the FlyOver Canada kiosk.

July saw me head back to White Rock for Canada Day and a few days later see my cousin and his wife in Burnaby for an evening in early July and had a lovely Korean meal.   A few days after seeing my cousin and his wife, I took a trip down memory lane by going around to some of the places that I lived in when I was younger and went on a swing in a park that as a child I knew quite well (it was about 3 doors down from where we lived and spent many summer afternoons and evenings in).

The Yellow House (home from newborn to about 8 months old)

Shortly after I attended Bard on the Beach in Vanier Park in Vancouver with my mom and a friend of hers and then left for Sun Peaks and spent almost two months there, in which I went on a couple of hikes, went to the pool, and several other amazing times.

Mountain flowers underneath the Crystal Chair

Other than the many guests that my parents hosted over the summer, the highlight was seeing the Stanley Cup and having my photograph with it.  For me as a hockey fan, it was just amazing.  Other than on TV, I had never had the chance to see it in person.

Yay!

I am not a LA Kings fan (boo!), but any chance to see the Stanley Cup is worth it.  The four of us (my parents, my sister and I)  had a couple of photos taken with the Stanley Cup and actually got to touch it.

But soon after that signs of fall started to appear and sadly I have to make the trek back home, but know that I will hopefully be back soon.

Clouds lifting after some rain

If there is one thing that has come out of my summer this year is that I read more than I probably do most summers and also read quite a few more ebooks than I would normally read, as my tablet isn't really conducive to reading outside and I don't want the hassle of getting my library e-books onto my Kobo Touch (I did it once and it was tricky and while I did get it onto my Touch, it was frustrating to do it).

While I am looking forward to getting back and seeing friends and into more of a regular routine, I am going to miss sitting out on my parents front (or back) deck sunning myself, reading a book or two while listening to one of my many podcasts.

Books finished since my last Sunday Salon:
• Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
• The Cuckoo's Calling
• The Word Exchange
• Mrs. Hemmingway
• The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out a Window and Disappeared
• Under the Wide and Starry Sky

Books reviewed since my last Sunday Salon:
• Perks of Being a Wallflower, The by Stephan Chbosky 
• Remains of the Day, The by Kazuo Ishiguro 
• His Majesty's Hope by Susan Elia MacNeal 
• Rosie Project, The by Graeme Simison 
• Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch 
• Light Between Oceans, The by M.L. Stedman 
• Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The by Douglas Adams 
• Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley 
• Levels of Life by Julian Barnes 
• Road Ends by Mary Lawson 
• Goldfinch, The by Donna Tartt 
• Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell Jr. 
• We Were Liars by E. Lockhart 
• Circle, The by Dave Eggars

Books I hope to finish this week:
• The Martian
• Big Little Lies
• The Lady and the Unicorn
• The Invention of Wings

Hope you all have a wonderful Sunday, however you plan on spend it.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril IX



After seeing this through the various emails that I receive through from a variety of bloggers over the last few years, I thought that this might be a good chance to do it.  The host for this challenge is Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings.

Here are a few words from Carl about the challenge:


Nine years ago [NINE?!?! Inconceivable!!!] I became aware of reading challenges and wanted to start one of my own, hoping to find others who shared my Autumnal predilection for the works of Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Bram Stoker and other authors contemporary and classic who captured the spirit of gothic literature. All these years later we are still going strong, welcoming September with a time of coming together to share our favorite mysteries, detective stories, horror stories, dark fantasies, and everything in between.
I welcome you to join us.
September 1st is right around the corner. It is time to begin.
Mystery.
Suspense.
Thriller.
Dark Fantasy.
Gothic.
Horror.
Supernatural.
Or anything sufficiently moody that shares a kinship with the above.
That is what embodies the stories, written and visual, that we celebrate with the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril event.
As time has wound on I’ve honed this event down to two simple rules:
1. Have fun reading (and watching).
2. Share that fun with others.
As I do each and every year, there are multiple levels of participation (Perils) that allow you to be a part of R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril without adding the burden of another commitment to your already busy lives. There is even a one book only option for those who feel that this sort of reading is not their cup of tea (or who have too many other commitments) but want to participate all the same.
R.I.P. IX officially runs from September 1st through October 31st. But lets go ahead and break the rules. Lets start today!!!
Multiple perils await you. You can participate in just one, or participate in them all.
Here is the level that I am doing:

Peril the Second:
Read two books of any length that you believe fit within the R.I.P. categories.
I am going to read Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë and finish The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Circle - Dave Eggars

Title: The Circle
Author: Dave Eggars
Pages (File Size): 528 (1.5 MB)
Published: 2013
Challenges: Blogger Summer Reading, E-Book, Chunkster, I Love Libraries
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Psychological
Edition: E-Book
Source: Library

Description: When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in the world—even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge. (from Goodreads)

Thoughts: I head about this book about a year ago and had tried to read it earlier this year and wasn't able to get around to it due to reading other books, but it now seemed to the right time to read it.  And it basically creeped me out, especially as the book moved towards the end and really made me think about how much I share and spend on social media sites.

It was very interesting to see how Mae became more and more involved with her life at work and how the world outside of her job became less and less important to her.  While it is primarily a book about how social media sites are playing more and more of a role in our lives, it is also a story about how work has become more and more consuming and how our social lives are basically those that occur online rather than off line.

Bottom line: While it was creepy and worrisome, it does give one pause and does raise concerns to how much social media is playing a role in our lives.  It you enjoy books that have a dystopic themes, you might enjoy this one.  Recommended.

Rating: 3.75/5

Pages for 2014: 17,557

If you have read this book, what did you think about it?

We Were Liars - E. Lockhart

Title: We Were Liars
Author: E. Lockhart
Pages (File Size): 228 (2.2 MB)
Published: 2014
Challenges: Blogger Summer Reading, E-Book, I Love Libraries
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, E-Book
Edition: E-Book
Source: Library

Description: Spending the summers on her family's private island off the coast of Massachusetts with her cousins and a special boy named Gat, teenaged Cadence struggles to remember what happened during her fifteenth summer. (from Fraser Valley Regional Library)

Thoughts: I downloaded this book through one of the e-book services that my library offers for its customers as the result of many reviews that I saw online that piqued my interest that were fairly positive.  If I had read the book straight through and dropped my other books, I may have enjoyed the book a little more than I did and probably wouldn't have been confused for a good portion of the book, at least until I was able to figure out what the story was about.

I did feel that the book was well-written as it didn't draw out the story too long and it really allowed the reader to quickly get into the story.

Bottom line: If you need to read something quickly or are in a place for a bit of time, this could really help pass time quickly.  Recommended.

Rating: 3.25/5

Pages for 2014: 17,029

If you have read this book, what did you think of it?

Empty Mansions - Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell Jr.

Title: Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguett Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune
Author: Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell Jr.
Pages (File Size): 496 (11.4 MB)
Published: 2013
Challenges: Blogger Summer Reading, E-Book, Chunkster, Non-fiction, I Love Libraries
Genre: Non-Fiction, History, Biography
Edition: E-book
Source: Library

Description: When Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Bill Dedman noticed in 2009 a grand home for sale, unoccupied for nearly sixty years, he stumbled through a surprising portal into American history. Empty Mansions is a rich mystery of wealth and loss, connecting the Gilded Age opulence of the nineteenth century with a twenty-first-century battle over a $300 million inheritance. At its heart is a reclusive heiress named Huguette Clark, a woman so secretive that, at the time of her death at age 104, no new photograph of her had been seen in decades. Though she owned palatial homes in California, New York, and Connecticut, why had she lived for twenty years in a simple hospital room, despite being in excellent health? Why were her valuables being sold off? Was she in control of her fortune, or controlled by those managing her money? (from Goodreads)

Thoughts: It was definitely an interesting book, in that it one learned about the uber-rich and the strange lives that some of these individuals have lived.  Other than the odd bits of fascinating information about the Clark family, I felt that the language was simplistic at times and felt that Ms. Clark was portrayed as being a bit too sympathetic at times.  I also felt that the author never really delved too much into Ms. Clark's life and treated her with kid gloves.

Bottom line:  It was definitely an intriguing story and was worth reading.  If you are interested in learning about those who are a bit odd or even those who are/were uber-rich, then I would recommend this book for you.  Recommended.

Rating: 3/5

Pages for 2014: 16,801

If you have read this book, what did you think about it?

Write On Review-a-thon Wrap-Up

Write On Review-a-Thon

I was able to get four book reviews posted:

• Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley (review)
• Levels of Life by Julian Barnes (review)
• Road Ends by Mary Lawson (review)
• The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (review)

Am very pleased that I was able to get these reviews done and posted and am that much closer to catching up with my reviews, even though I didn't get them all caught up with by the end of August, but they all are written up to some degree (the remaining 7 have been hand written and will posted throughout the week).  Looking forward to the end of September.
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