Saturday, October 31, 2015

Sunday Salon - Getting back on the reading bandwagon

Don't know why, but for some reason I got off the reading bandwagon. It felt odd and different and even though I wanted to read, I just didn't have the urge to pick up a book and even if I did read, it wasn't for long periods of time and it was things that I had to read for a few book review tours that I had signed up for during the summer.

But for whatever the reason, the 24-hour Readathon a couple weeks ago energized me to start reading again on a regular basis.  I guess what I needed was some sort of focus in my reading for a sustained amount of time and that really jump started me again into reading on a more regular basis and to enjoy reading again and less of a chore. It's kinda of funny, but I sense another lull coming, but I suppose it depends on how many required books I have to read and whether I am enjoying the books that I am reading for enjoyment. And how I am feeling physically.

I am also hoping to make a vegetarian lasagna today that I will split up and freeze on a cookie sheet before I put them in containers or ziploc bags for easy lunch (don't know how I missed the mozzarella when I went to the grocery store the couple times I made trips).

Here is what I finished this past month:
• Yellow-Billed Magpie by Nancy Schoellkopf (review)
• Port of No Return by Michelle Saftich (review)
• In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume
• Birds of Passage by Joe Giordano (review)
• The Dead in their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley
• Mãn by Kim Thúy
• Bone: The Complete Cartoon Epic in One Volume by Jeff Smith

Here is what I am hoping to finish in November:
• The Buried Giant
• Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell
• The Orphan Master's Son
• The Accidental Empress
• Circling the Sun

Hope you have a wonderful Sunday, however you choose to spend it.

Sit Down and Write 7 - #NaNoWriMo Edition #sitdownwrite

A good blogging friend of mine is hosting a write-a-thon through out the month for the month of November.

Its for those who wish to participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) or for those of us who are really backed-up on book reviews, like myself.  If you wish to join, you can link up here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Birds of Passage - Joe Giordano

Title: Birds of Passage
Author: Joe Giordano
Pages: 260
Published: 2015
Challenges: E-book, Historical Fiction
Genre: Historical Fiction
Edition: Ebook
Source: ARC; I received this book for an honest review from Italy Book Reviews

Description: What turns the gentle mean and the mean brutal? The thirst for wealth? The demand for respect? Vying for a woman? Birds of Passage recalls the Italian immigration experience at the turn of the twentieth-century when New York’s streets were paved with violence and disappointment. 

Leonardo Robustelli leaves Naples in 1905 to seek his fortune. Carlo Mazzi committed murder and escaped. Azzura Medina is an American of Italian parents. She’s ambitious but strictly controlled by her mother. Leonardo and Carlo vie for her affection. 
Azzura, Leonardo, and Carlo confront con men, Tammany Hall politicians, the longshoreman’s union, Camorra clans, Black Hand extortion, and the Tombs prison.  (via Publisher)

Thoughts: The story took me a while to capture my attention due to a number of factors including I couldn't get easily into the main storyline.  I felt that the book was a bit disjointed and felt that it could have been a little more polished and the storyline a little more flowing.  It also felt that it was  a bit of an easy read for me and I was able to quickly read the book.  The book could have easily been about another 50 pages, with the story a little more fleshed out and have a little more meat on the bones.

What I did like was the setting of the story.  Having seen images of that era in New York, I think it was good to see a book set in what would be considered the rougher side of early 20th century New York.  I also felt partial to Leonard and would have liked to see his story a little more fleshed out.

Overall the book was an okay read and there really wasn't too much that was really bad about the book and would probably interest those interested in the experience of immigrants in the early 20th century in New York.  Recommended.

Author's Bio:

Joe Giordano was born in Brooklyn. His father and grandparents immigrated to New York from Naples. Joe and his wife, Jane have lived in Greece, Brazil, Belgium and the Netherlands. They now live in Texas with their shih tzu Sophia. Joe's stories have appeared in more than sixty magazines including Bartleby Snopes, The Newfound Journal, and The Summerset Review.

Connect with the author:   Website  ~   Twitter  ~   Facebook

eBook Promotion: 

The Kindle copy of Birds of Passage will be free to download  for five days starting the day after the end of this virtual tour (Saturday, November 7th through Wednesday, November 11th)

Tour Schedule:

Oct 19 - Working Mommy Journal - review / author interview / giveaway
Oct 20 - FLY HIGH! - book spotlight - guest post / giveaway
Oct 20 - Room With Books - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Oct 21 - Jayne's Books - review
Oct 21 - Notes from Verona - review
Oct 22 - Jaquo Lifestyle Magazine - review / guest post
Oct 23 - The Autistic Gamer - review
Oct 26 - Library of Clean Reads - review / giveaway
Oct 26 - Readers' Muse - review / guest post
Oct 27 - The World As I See It - review / giveaway
Oct 27 - Kimberly's Bookshelf - review / guest post / giveaway
Oct 28 - 3 Partners in Shopping - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Oct 28 -  A Bit Bookish - review / giveaway
Oct 29 - The Cubicle Escapee - review / giveaway
Oct 29 - Cassidy Salem Reads & Writes - review / giveaway
Oct 30 - Deal Sharing Aunt - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Oct 30 - Puddletown Reviews - book spotlight / author interview
Nov 2 - Life as Leels - review
Nov 2 - Worth Getting in Bed For - review
Nov 3 - Bound 4 Escape - review / giveaway
Nov 4 - Studentessa  Matta - review
Nov 4 - Writer With Wanderlust - review / giveaway
Nov 5 - Singing Librarian Books - review / author interview / giveaway
Nov 6 - Essentially Italian - review / author interview / giveaway
Nov 6 - - review

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Port of No Return - Michelle Saftich #historicalfiction #Italy #WW2

Title: Port of No Return
Author: Michelle Saftich
Pages: 238
Published: 2015
Challenges: Historical Fiction
Genre: Historical Fiction
Edition: Paperback
Source:  ARC; I received this book for an honest review from Italy Book Reviews

Description: Contessa and Ettore Saforo awake to a normal day in war-stricken, occupied Italy.

By the end of the day, their house is in ruins and they must seek shelter and protection wherever they can. But the turbulent politics of 1944 refuses to let them be. 

As Tito and his Yugoslav Army threaten their German-held town of Fiume, Ettore finds himself on a list for execution and running for his life. His wife and children must also flee. 

Ettore and Contessa’s battle to find each other, and the struggle of their family and friends to rebuild their lives, provide a rich and varied account of displaced people in war-torn Europe.

What can you do when you have nowhere left to call home? Port of No Return considers this question and more in a novel that is full of action, pain and laughter -- a journey you will want to see through to the very end. (via Publisher)

Thoughts: This book has been sort of simmering for  me since I completed the book over the weekend and as I have thought about the book, I could see my maternal father's parents going through a similar experience as the Saforo's go through.  I liked how the characters felt real and hence  I feel an affinity to the main characters.  I can't imagine what my great-grandparents went through when fleeing Stalinist Russia in 1926 to a country they barely knew anybody and a language they didn't know how to speak.  Like my maternal great-grandparents, I can't imagine the agonizing decision that the Saforo's had to go through.

I quite enjoyed the book and by allowing it to filter a bit, I was able to empathize with the decision that the parents had to make and would recommend this book to those that enjoy historical fiction and those that would like to have something that isn't typical of the Italian immigrant experience.  Recommended.

Author's Bio:

Michelle Saftich is a first-time author who resides in Brisbane, Australia.  She holds a Bachelor of Business/Communications Degree, majoring in journalism, from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

For the past 20 years, she has worked in communications, including print journalism, sub-editing, communications management and media relations. She is married with two children.

Connect with the author:   Website    Facebook    Twitter

I am also doing a giveaway and it is open internationally.

Win 1 of 5 copies of Port of No Return & 1 $30 Amazon gift card
(open internationally)

Saturday, October 17, 2015

24 Hours Readathon - 2nd Update #readathon

I had thought I would be updating more than I have up until this point, but the important thing is that I have been reading.  Since my last update, I have completed one book and am almost finished my second one.  I have currently read for about 11 hours, which considering my "nap" between 6 am and 10 am and the two hours I took to do some things in town this afternoon, is pretty good.  I realize that the next 6 hours are going to be a bit of a challenge, but I have made a dent into the shows left on my PVR and am actually seeing a difference in how much I have left on it.  I have also read over 500 pages since my last update about 11 hours ago.

Wish me luck in the next 6 hours.

24 Hour Readathon - First Update #readathon

As I write this, it is almost noon on the west coast of North America and coming upon Hour 8 of the readathon, I believe.  I manage to read for the first hour, starting at 5 am, but at about 6 am I couldn't stay awake and needed some much needed sleep.  So I did and slept until about 10.  While I am still a bit tired, I managing to get through Bone and have read quite a bit of the book.

During the 3 hours of my time reading, I have read about 300 pages and seem to read more each hour.  I am also going to donate $2 for every hour that I read to my local food bank.  The reason being is that they have had some financial trouble and aren't getting the donations that they usually get at this time of year and I felt it would be the best bang for my buck and a good way of helping out my community.

Next update should be in a few hours.  Happy reading!

24 Hour Readathon - Opening Meme #readathon


In an effort to help you get squared away before GO TIME! here is the Introductory Meme for you to fill out if you wish!
1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? I am reading from Abbotsford, BC, Canada; its about 45 min east of Vancouver BC and about 2 and a half hours north of Seattle, WA.
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? Probably the Bone book and The Dead in their Vaulted Arches.
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? Probably the box of Nestle Halloween candy from last year and probably a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks at some point in the evening.
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I wasn't diagnosed with Asperger's until just before my grade 12 year; was about 17 1/2 at the time.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? I will take a much more relaxed approach to the readathon and not insist on having a personal cheerleader.  I realize that we are all cheering each other on, whether we are assigned one a cheerleader or not and this is supposed to be fun and to get our TBR piles down, somewhat.

24 Hour Readathon - October 2015 #readathon

Somehow I had gotten it into my head that the 24-hour readathon was next Saturday.  I guess because of the fact that I have been very busy in the last few weeks and have basically just barely existed and manage to get through my day, but for whatever the reason I didn't clue into the fact that it was taking place today in about 3 and a half hours (I had 2 large drinks from a fast food place that has golden arches in its logo).  I realize that this means I won't get cheerleaders assigned to me but that is okay since we all sort of cheer for each other anyways.

Since I am going to participate here are the books that I will be reading:
• Bone the complete series by Jeff Smith
• The Dead in their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley
• In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume
• 2 Book Tour books I need to read for this coming week
• A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
• Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell by Susanna Clarke
• Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

I realize that the second last book is a very long book, as is the first book, but that one at least is a graphic novel that can easily be read fairly easily.  I also have over six days worth of podcasts that I would like to get through and off my iPod and I have a lot of hours recorded on my PVR, not to mention the extended editions of the Lord of the Rings movies that I purchased through iTunes for about $30 and the various movies and TV series that I have borrowed from the library.

As for food, I really don't know what I am going to eat, but I do have veggies that I need to eat up and also a lot of cheese and there is always those golden arches to get dinner from at 8:30ish pm that will keep me up until the wee hours of the morning.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Yellow-Billed Magpie - Nancy Schoellkopf

Title: Yellow-Billed Magpie
Author: Nancy Schoellkopf
Pages: 216
Published: 2015
Challenges: None
Genre: Romance
Edition: Paperback
Source: ARC; I received this book for an honest review from iRead Book Tours

Description: Unlike their black-billed cousins, yellow-billed magpies are rarely found outside California’s central valley. So when they begin showing up in Samantha O’Malley’s dreams, she wonders: are they calling me home?

Disappointed by failed fertility treatments and the break-up of her marriage, Samantha returns to her home town and slips into old habits, resuming her teaching career, even hooking up with an old lover. But she also renews her friendship with Craig, the school custodian she honors as her spiritual guide. The work they do together with Samantha’s special education students will lead her to discoveries she never thought possible.

Yellow-Billed Magpie is a love story, a spiritual journey, a quest to look beyond appearances to the mystical rhythms that guide the human heart. (via Publisher)

Thoughts: While I try to avoid cliched romance books, this book seemed to unlike others, but I was hoping for more to the book and felt that the book was fairly simple. I liked how the author made Sam a character that was flawed but could also could be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I wished that the book was a little longer, as I think that the characters, especially Sam, could have been fleshed out better than they were.

Bottom line: It was a nice, quick read, easily something that most readers would be able to complete in a day or two and its characters were people that could one could easily relate to. Recommended.

Rating: 3.8/5

Buy the book:   Amazon

Author's Bio:

Nancy Schoellkopf has been telling stories and writing poems for many lifetimes. It goes without saying she’s needed a second income, so this time around she happily taught amazing children in special education classes in two urban school districts in Sacramento, California. A full time writer now, she enjoys lavishing attention on her cat, her garden and her intriguing circle of family and friends.

Connect with the author:    Website     Twitter    Facebook

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sunday Salon - Happy Thanksgiving

I know that the vast majority are wondering why I am saying Happy Thanksgiving in the middle of October.  The reason is that I am Canadian and hence I celebrate Thanksgiving in the early part of October rather than in November.  If you wish to know more about the  history of Canadian Thanksgiving, you can find it here.

I realize that I have been invisible the last little while on the blog and the reason is that I have been working like crazy since I started work at the school that I am at about a month ago.  That week was insane, as I have a second job working as a cashier at a local trade and convention centre and that particular weekend I worked three shifts there in addition to my job at the school (I help out in an elementary school's library a few days a week).

And hence I have not read much either.  I have been quite tired and most of my time is spent either going to work (I take transit majority of the time to my school job) or at one of my many church activities.  And hence I am exhausted.  This weekend has been a blessing, in that I have been able to rest and relax and catch up on sleep. I was so tired last night that pretty much when I hit the pillow, I was out and slept for a good 9 hours (I have been also staying up late catching up on TV shows and watching TV DVDs; watched the first season of Fargo last week and really enjoy the show and have been watching The Americans this week and am enjoying that one as well).

But I am hoping that this coming week will be a tad more productive, as I have a book review coming up for a tour that I am part of that is due on Tuesday.

Hope you all have had a good weekend and hope that you get lots of reading done today!

Friday, October 2, 2015

#FrightFall Read-a-Thon - Sign Up

I should have gotten this up sooner, but with things being somewhat busy for me over the last little bit, it fell off the lists and I thought this would be a good time to put this up.  It is perfect timing as the weather has started to turn and today was the first day that really felt like it was fall.

My plans for this are pretty simple.  I am going to read Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King as my scary book, but have a number of others that I have to read as well.  Happy reading :)
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