Monday, April 30, 2012

First Chapter - First Paragaph(s) - Tuesday Intros (May 1)

This week's choice

Originally published September, 2008

 It happened every year, was almost a ritual.  And this was his eighty-second birthday.  When, as usual, the flower was delivered, he took off the wrapping paper and then picked up the telephone to call Detective Superintendent Morell who, when he retired, had moved to Lake Siljan in Dlarna.  They were not only the same age, they had been born on the same day-which was something of an irony under the circumstances.  The old policeman was sitting with his coffee, waiting, expecting the call.

Teaser Tuesdays (May 1)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

 It happened every year, was almost a ritual.  And this was his eighty-second birthday.  When, as usual, the flower was delivered, he took off the wrapping paper and then picked up the telephone to call Detective Superintendent Morell who, when he retired, had moved to Lake Siljan in Dlarna.  They were not only the same age, they had been born on the same day-which was something of an irony under the circumstances.  The old policeman was sitting with his coffee, waiting, expecting the call.

~ The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson

The Winter Palace - Eva Strachniak

Title: The Winter Palace
Author: Eva Stachniak
File size (pages): 2649 KB (444 pages)
Published: 2012
Challenges: 2012 Support Your Library, 2012 Historical Fiction
Genre: Historical fiction
Edition: E-book
Source: Library

Description: Tells the epic story of Catherine the Great’s improbable rise to power—as seen through the ever-watchful eyes of an all-but-invisible servant close to the throne.

Her name is Barbara—in Russian, Varvara. Nimble-witted and attentive, she’s allowed into the employ of the Empress Elizabeth, amid the glitter and cruelty of the world’s most eminent court. Under the tutelage of Count Bestuzhev, Chancellor and spymaster, Varvara will be educated in skills from lock picking to lovemaking, learning above all else to listen—and to wait for opportunity. That opportunity arrives in a slender young princess from Zerbst named Sophie, a playful teenager destined to become the indomitable Catherine the Great. Sophie’s destiny at court is to marry the Empress’s nephew, but she has other, loftier, more dangerous ambitions, and she proves to be more guileful than she first appears.

What Sophie needs is an insider at court, a loyal pair of eyes and ears who knows the traps, the conspiracies, and the treacheries that surround her. Varvara will become Sophie’s confidante—and together the two young women will rise to the pinnacle of absolute power. (via

Thoughts: The premise of the story seemed intriguing, especially since I had just finished reading the most recent Catherine the Great biography, and I was hooked.  It also seemed to be getting a lot of press in the blogging world in regards to this book.  I can recall that I saw this book on a lot of blogs in January and February and thought I would give this a try.  And even though I was disappointed with the plot, I was glad that I had read something that I wasn't exactly enamored with by the end.  Yes, I am generally a person that likes to finish books that I start, even if I don't like them.  I know that some people will say that one shouldn't continue reading a book you don't like, but if you read only books that you only liked would your tastes expand or not?  My guess is that if that were the case you probably wouldn't go much beyond what you generally read and expand what you do read.

Back to the book.  I thought that while the book started strong, the book seemed to lose steam rather quickly, making the book rather average (well, below average).  Its not that I don't think one should read books that are just average, but I also think that one should read books that make you think about what you read and why you read them.

Bottom line: It was a pretty average book, something to avoid boredom, although this book seemed to induce boredom on my part. Its probably something that is good for a road trip when the scenery isn't that great or you are traveling at night.

Rating: 2.375/5

Pages for 2012: 8881

Saturday, April 28, 2012

April Prompt - A Classics Challenge

This month's prompt on A Classics Challenge has to do with covers of a classic book.  I chose Anna Kerenina (kinda obvious there) and the most recent cover.

My first impressions of the cover is that book has something to do with something sensual.  There is no clothing that is near the woman's knees and just the way that her hands are placed with the flowers in her hands indicates something sensual about it.

From what I know about the book, the cover does reflect the overall theme of the book, almost like the individual in the cover wants a man to notice her and indicates how the main female characters feel about the men that they wish entice or seduce.

I think that this would have been something that I would have chosen; its sensual, but its also sort of hidden.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Blog feature - Scene of the blog

Cathy over at Kittling Books has wrote up a feature on my blog.  Hope you can make your way over there and read up on what she has written about.  The view out of my window has changed and how I can view it as well (the trees have more leaves on them and I have obtained furniture that has somewhat obstructed my view.

You can go here to view the post.  Hope you drop by and enjoy the post.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I really need to weigh in...

I rarely make non-book or non-blog related posts here.  The only exceptions would be if something serious has happened in my life or my Sunday Salon posts or when I need to say something about my beloved team.  And today I am making that exception.

If you follow me on my main twitter account or Facebook, you know that the season ended on Sunday evening for the Canucks. And today the team had their final media scrum from the various players and the final words on the season from the General Manager (I don't get why the GM has to say something about his analysis, because with the Entry Draft around the corner they will be analyzing the needs of the yet again; personally I think its a waste of time and ink space, but I digress).  And there were a couple of things that came out of the day, one that was not exactly surprising and the other that was a complete surprise.

Back in March the Canucks traded a young player to another team out East and it came out that the player did request to be moved.  Well rather he wanted more playing time, but that the fact that he had two established centres ahead of him, there was no chance of that, so that was no surprise.  The second thing that came out of the final day of interviews was that the Canucks main goaltender, who has a huge contract and a no-movement clause, is actually willing to waive the no movement clause, if the team could get somebody who would be willing to take on his huge, multi-year contract.  The Canucks have a younger goaltender who is probably in some respects better than the main goaltender.   And honestly I hope they move Luongo; maybe fans can booo him instead of Luuuuu him.

Monday, April 23, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Apr. 23)

It's Monday!  What are you reading? is a fun weekly meme that is hosted by Shelia at Book Journey were we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

Books Completed:
Nothing this week; am hoping that I can get a couple done this week to include on this list.

Currently reading:
What I am going to start this week:
 I have no clue as I really need to finish a couple of the books on the list above.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Musing Mondays (Apr. 23)

This week Miz B at Should be Reading asks:

Other than working at a job, what is your biggest interruption to reading? What takes you away from your book(s)?

For me it would my family and with things changing in terms of when I see them, I will have to adjust to their schedule.    Another thing that takes me away from my reading is the fact that I watch too much TV during the evening hours.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sunday Salon - Ensconced in Downton Abbey

This past week I was brought back into the world of Downton Abbey, not only because it was the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic (yes I did watch my fair share of stuff on the Titanic last Sunday), but because two items I requested from the library became available to me (the second season of Downtown Abbey and the companion book The World of Downton Abbey) and also because my grandparents watch the show on a Canadian cable channel on Wednesday nights.  I also found out that my mom likes the show in addition to my sister who also watches (or rather downloads the show).

Anyways, safely to say, I am ensconced in the world of Downton Abbey.  But in someways I find this rather odd.  The reason I say that is because all branches of my family are of German-Dutch origin and either came to the States or Canada via Russia or Germany at some point (apparently some of my distant relations were involved in the Oklahoma Land Rush in the 1890s) and really had no notion of what the Edwardian world was like.  Sure I had family who worked in "English" homes during the Great Depression and World War II, but there is no known connection in my family to that world.  Which is strange because my mom's parents have this affinity to all things British (well, maybe not all things British) despite our German-Dutch background.  And I think that was imparted to me and my sister, as the two of us spent a lot of our growing up years with them, and therefore we sort of idealized that world, despite the fact that for the vast majority of Britons living during that period lived a very rough life.  Its not something I would want to be in, especially when you considered that the servants of places like Downton Abbey had it pretty good when it came to the working class.

Maybe its because my mom's grandparents grew up in an era in which the Royal Family was very much idealized and venerated, despite the abdication of Edward VIII to marry the woman he loved.  Or maybe it was because they both came families that immigrated to Canada for a better life.  But the historian in me realizes that TV really does over idealize that segment of history, sort of glossing over the nasty aspects of society, like Dickens likes to expose in a number of his works (I think A Tale of Two Cities is the only novel in which he doesn't look at the plight of the industrialized worker or at orphans in great detail, but I could be wrong).

But safe to say, I will be watching the third season to see what sort of witty things Lady Violet has to say (never knew that Maggie Smith could be so funny; I guess the HP movies didn't give her a lot of wit with Prof. McGongall, even though there are moments, like teaching Ron and the others to dance), especially with Cora's mom around (who knows what lines Shirely McClain is going to have).

No reviews this week, but I should have a few next week.  Toodles.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Apr. 15)

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a fun weekly meme hosted by Shelia at Book Journey were we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

Books Completed last week: (am including ones that I have completed since my last post)
• The Hunger Games (review)
• The Language of Flowers (review)
• The Hound of the Baskervilles (review)

Currently reading:
• A Game of Thrones
• Anna Karenina
• Bleak House
• Elizabeth the Queen: the Life of a Modern Monarch
• Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
• Les Miserables

What I am going to start this week:
I honestly don't know, but probably The Winter Palace and/or Quiet.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sunday Salon - Simple and Sweet

I honestly don't know what to post this week, as it has been a bit of stressful week, at least from my perspective it has (as I said to a friend of mine, what is stressful for one person, can be not stressful).

Despite my somewhat stressful week, I did have some positive things happen.  First off my main e-reader (I have two, the Kobo Vox and the Kobo Touch, the Vox being my primary e-reader) got the new download onto the device and I was able to start reading on it again.  Secondly, I was able to catch up on my Bleak House read-a-long for Week Six.  Thirdly, I was able to get a book I had been reading for a couple of months completed, despite the fact that I could have finished it earlier.

Managed to go and see the 3-D version of Titanic this week with a friend and this time I can honestly say that the acting really is cheesy and I can see why they didn't get any acting awards back in 1998 (Leonardo DiCaprio saw a screening of the movie and came away with the same sentiments; at least his acting has improved since that movie to the point that I really did think he was J. Edgar Hoover in his last film).  Seeing the film with my friend brought back some good memories, but I think what was funny was the two 20 years olds who were behind us, giggling the entire time (they were probably not old enough to see the film the first time around or if they did, they had their parents come with them).  While I thought it was a little rude, I can see where they were coming from; if I were their age, I would probably be giggling along with them, as there were a number of lines that were over the top).  And despite the fact that I thought to myself that I wouldn't cry at the end of the movie, I did.

Hope you all have a wonderful Sunday, however you may be spending it.

Book reviews:
1) The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (review)
2) The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle (review)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Booking Through Thursday - Eternity

Booking Through Thursday asks this week:

What book took you the longest to read, and do you feel it was the content or just the length that made it so?

The book that took me the longest to read was Middlemarch by George Eliot.  The reason that it took me so long to read was because I read a chapter a week (I have always been a Book Whore) and took me almost a year and a half to read.

Hope everybody has a good day :)

The Hound of the Baskervilles - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Title: The Hound of the Baskervilles
Author: Arthur Conan Doyle
Pages: 213
Published: 2008 (first published 1902)
Challenges: 2012 Support Your Library
Genre: Mystery
Edition: Paperback
Source: Library

Description: Holmes and Watson are faced with their most terrifying case yet. The legend of the devil-beast that haunts the moors around the Baskerville families home warns the descendants of that ancient clan never to venture out in those dark hours when the power of evil is exalted. Now, the most recent Baskerville, Sir Charles, is dead and the footprints of a giant hound have been found near his body. Will the new heir meet the same fate? (via Goodreads)

Thoughts: This seemed to be a book that I seemed to read through fits and stages and finally was able to get myself to read the final bit this past weekend.  While I found that book to be ramble at times, I found that the last few chapters of the book is what made the book for me.  The story was clever in that one didn't get the full story until the final chapter, which sometimes I find is lacking in modern mystery books.  I may read this book again due to the fact that this is a book that really needs to be read in a couple of sittings, not over the course of two months.  Read this for my classics club.

Bottom line:  I would recommend the book to those that enjoy classic mysteries, such as Agatha Christie, or just enjoy classic literature on a whole.

Rating: 4.5/5

Pages for 2012: 8437

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

WWW Wednesdays (Apr. 11)

This is a weekly book meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you'll be reading next?

1) What are you currently reading? (these are books that I am mainly reading)
• A Game of Thrones
• Bleak House
• Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch
• The Hound of Baskervilles (I have about 10 min worth of reading left)

2) What did you recently finish reading?
• The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (review)

3) What do you think you'll be reading next?
I honestly don't know what I'll be reading next.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Language of Flowers - Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Title: The Language of Flowers
Author: Vanessa Diffenbaugh
File Size (Pages): 2663 KB (304 pages)
Published: 2011
Challenges: 2012 Support Your Library
Genre: Literary
Edition: E-book
Source: Library download

Description: The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it's been more useful in communicating mistrust and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. Now eighteen and emancipated from the system with nowhere to go, Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But an unexpected encounter with a mysterious stranger has her questioning what's been missing in her life. And when she's forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it's worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness. (via

Thoughts: I had first heard about this book back this past summer and had requested a paper copy of the book and due to the fact that I had lots more on my plate to read, I didn't get around to it and brought it back.  But something that drew me to this book and when I had managed to set aside some time to get started on the book, I started to really enjoy it.  There was something  different about the book that made the back and forth effective and made the story progress well and make it feel as though you were intruding in on Victoria's life and not just getting a glimpse of it.

I can't really really describe how much I loved the book and how I felt about the book; its just one of those things that when you really like a book you can't even describe it.

Bottom line: Really enjoyed the book.  I would recommend it to those that enjoy strong female narratives or are just looking for some quality fiction.

Rating: 4.25/5

Pages for 2012: 8224

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

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Bleak House....

I am managing to catch up on Bleak House and one thing I have realized is that I am wanting to throw the book and quit reading it.  Reason being is that now that I am about 33% of the way through, I don't understand what the point of the book is and am getting frustrated with it.  As I was reading it, I made some notes in regards to it expressing my frustration.  And besides not liking the fact that there wasn't enough of Esther, Ada and Richard between Chapters 18-21, I find it really boring and just wished Dickens would get to the point (and from what I understood Dickens didn't really write after Bleak House).  Can somebody please tell me we get more of Esther, Ada and Richard?

(And yes the above picture is how I feel at the moment)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Musing Mondays (Apr. 2)

This week MizB at Should Be Reading asks:

Do you belong to any book clubs — face-to-face, or online? If so, how long have you been with the group(s)? If not, why?

I belong to one book club.  Its face-to-face.  I think we have been doing it for about 5 or 6 years this coming fall. Our first selection was Mrs. Dalloway.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sunday Salon - March in review

March was kinda of a bust, especially the last couple of weeks.  I really don't know what happened, but it probably had something to do with the fact that the e-reader that my parents got for me for Christmas decided not to download the latest update and had to get a different e-reader.  But it also sort of coincided with the fact that I got a bit depressed/anxious/whatever and therefore I haven't really bothered to read.  I suppose part of it is that I got a bit discouraged with Bleak House, which I have gotten a bit behind, but which I am still enjoying.  I just can't seem to get myself to read the book and seem to be more interested in watching TV rather than reading.  I guess I am just going through a cycle and it will work itself out again and I will get back into reading once again.

I think it also has to do with the fact that I haven't really been at work much since the middle of February and I am feeling a bit out of water not in my regular routine.  Between my trip to Phoenix, a walk-out by teachers (they are declared an essential service for some strange reason by the provincial government [they shouldn't really be deemed to be essential, as its not a matter of being able to live or not, but I digress] and therefore can't legally go out on strike; their contract expired last June and have withdrawn services that were deemed not to be essential by the Labour Relations Board) after I got back from my vacation, 2 weeks off for Spring Break, a full week at work, and then going early for Easter to visit family has made my head spin a bit.  And therefore I haven't read a lot this past month, even though the number of books that i completed was quite good and has me considering adding to my Goodreads goal for this year.

Books reviewed:
1.  Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman (review)
2. The Great Gatsby (review)
3. Madame Tussuad (review)
4. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (review)
5. Sarah's Key (review)
6. Macbeth (review)
7. Death Comes to Pemberley (review)
8. The Hunger Games (review)

Part of the issue is that for some strange reason I have gone a library borrowing binge and have more books than I could possibly read within the time frame.  I have also been craving buying books again, even though I know that I will just let them collect dust. 

Hope you have a good week and hope to talk to you later.
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