Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Miniaturist - Jessie Burton

Title: The Minaturist
Author: Jessie Burton
Pages 416
Published: 2014
Challenges: Historical Fiction, I Love Libraries, Readers to the Rescue, Snagged @ the Library
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Public Library

Description: Set in seventeenth century Amsterdam-a city ruled by glittering wealth and oppressive religion-a masterful debut steeped in atmosphere and shimmering with mystery, in the tradition of Emma Donoghue, Sarah Waters, and Sarah Dunant.

"There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed…"

On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office-leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.

But Nella's world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist-an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways . . .

Johannes' gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand-and fear-the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation . . . or the architect of their destruction? (via Goodreads)

Thoughts: I  had heard quite a bit about this book throughout the late summer and early fall of 2014 and it grabbed my attention, plus the cover that I saw made the book enticing.  Due to other books I was reading at the time, I wasn't able to get the book until this winter.

While it was a fairly quick read for me, I did have difficulty getting into the book at times, especially in the first half, and I seemed to struggle to get through certain portions of the book.

That being said, I did find it an intriguing book, especially since I am planning on going to Amsterdam sometime during the summer of 2016 with my parents and getting a taste of the city myself.

The book started and ended fairly strongly, but it did seem to  hit a lull about half-way through the first part of the book.  While the first half to seem choppy to me, the second half seemed to have a better flow to it and a better focus.

Bottom line: If you enjoy historical fiction, you probably will enjoy this read.  I felt it was a good, but not a great read.  Recommended.

Rating: 3/5

Pages for 2015: 3,689

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

Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel

Title: Station Eleven
Author: Emily St. John Mandel
Pages: 333
Published: 2014
Challenges: Just for Fun, I Love Libraries, Readers to the Rescue, Snagged @ the Library
Genre: Dystopian, Science Fiction
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Public Library

Description: One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur's chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them.

Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten's arm is a line from Star Trek: "Because survival is insufficient." But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave.

Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleventells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it. (taken from Goodreads)

Thoughts: After seeing this book on a number of lists on a number bookish blogs/sites at the end of 2014, I knew that I had to read this book.  So I took the plunge and requested a copy from the library. And I wasn't disappointed and really got enraptured by the book and felt that by the end of the book that I didn't want to leave the world that Mandel created.

I felt as though Mandel really enveloped me into a post-apocalyptic world that looked strangely like mine.  The language in the book was excellent and allowed me to really experience what that world would be like (hopefully I never experience it).

Bottom line:  I really enjoyed the book, even in a genre that I don't generally enjoy reading from, as I have tried to avoid reading dystopic fiction as much as possible.  In reality, the book is much more literary than genre fiction, as Mandel really uses language to convey what is going on rather than focusing too much on events.  Highly recommended.

Rating: 4.5/5

Pages for 2015: 3,273

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

The Last Battle - C.S. Lewis

Title: The Last Battle (The Chronicles of Narnia #7)
Author: C.S. Lewis
Pages: 229
Published: 1994 (first published 1955)
Challenges: Classics Club, Finishing the Series, I Love Libraries, Readers to the Rescue, Snagged @ the Library
Genre: Children's, Classic, Fantasy
Edition: Mass-market Paperback
Source: Church Library

Description: The last battle is the greatest battle of all. Narnia... where lies breed fear... where loyalty is tested... where all hope seems lost. During the last days of Narnia, the land faces its fiercest challenge - not an invader from without but an enemy from within. Lies and treachery have taken root, and only the king and a small band of loyal followers can prevent the destruction of all they hold dear in this, the magnificent ending to theChronicles of Narnia. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts: After reading the other 6 books in the series, I think that I expected a different end and that my expectations were somewhat elevated as to how the series ended, not that I didn't enjoy the journey.  I think that while my expectations were inflated, it was a good way to end the series  This might be a series to revisit down the road by reading the omnibus copy that I own.

Bottom line: The story itself seemed to be ok, but felt it to be a little slow at times.  Overall it was a satisfying ending to the series.  Recommended.

Rating: 3.5/5

Pages for 2015:  2,940

If you have read the book, what did you think?

The Silver Chair - C. S. Lewis

Title: The Silver Chair (The Chronicles of Narnia #6)
Author: C. S. Lewis
Pages: 272
Published: 1994 (first published 1953)
Challenges: Finishing the Series, Classics Club, I Love Libraries, Readers to the Rescue, Snagged @ the Library
Genre: Children's, Classic, Fantasy
Edition: Mass-Market Paperback
Source: Church Library

Description: A prince imprisoned - a country in peril. Narnia... where giants wreak havoc.... where evil weaves a spell... where enchantment rules. Through dangers untold and caverns deep and dark, a noble band of friends are sent to rescue a prince held captive. But their mission to Underland brings them face-to-face with an evil more beautiful and more deadly than they ever expected. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts:  Really enjoyed this book, as it seemed to have a better flow to the story than The Dawn Treader and seemed to be less contrived than the previous book and more of what I have usually experienced with other narrative fiction that I have read.

I think that the biggest reason that I enjoyed the book was the introduction of Jill Pole.  She gave the book a lightness to the book that really allowed me to enjoy reading the book.

Bottom line: A good continuation of the series that retains the magic of the earlier books. Recommended.

Rating: 3.75/5

Pages for 2015: 2,711

Mailbox Monday (June 1)



Mailbox Monday is a place for readers to share the books that came into their homes during the past week.  After being hosted at a number of blogs over the past few years, it has gone back to its home base, the aptly named, Mailbox Monday.

Due to the spending splurge that I had a couple of weeks ago, I got a 10% off card that I had a limited time to use the card.  So on Wednesday after work, I went back to the Chapters location in Langley and bought a couple more books.  And instead of spending about $42, I spent about $28.  And here is what I got:



I guess with my previous purchase I have my reading basically set for the summer.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Armchair BEA Day 4 - Book to Movie Adaptations

If there is one thing that I enjoy, is watching book to movie adaptations.  There are times in which I don't get to read the book right away, but do eventually do get around to reading the book.

Here are a couple of my favourites:

About a Boy - I did read the book afterwards and the movie was fairly faithful to the book and it was quite enjoyable as a film

Sense and Sensibility - while there are some aspects of the movie adaptation which seem a little far-fetched (one being Emma Thompson playing the role of a character who is probably 15-20 years younger), it is a pretty good adaptation and had a really good cast (Hugh Laurie is in the film and it wasn't until much later that I was able to recognize him in the film).  I didn't even recognize Alan Rickman when I first watched the film, as I remember him being the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Pride and Prejudice (1995) - Probably my favourite adaptation.  Personally I don't care if there are things that are different, I just really like how the miniseries was able to capture the book very well.  And while Kiera Knightly did a good job as Elizabeth in the movie that came out 10 years earlier, I just feel that this is the best adaptation of the book out there.  Doesn't hurt that I began a life-long love with Colin Firth (I have watched a number of his other movies, including A Single Man, which was excellent).

North and South (2004) - Love this miniseries.  Now I don't know how accurate the miniseries to the book and how much was and wasn't included from the book in the miniseries, but I  know that I just find Richard Thorton gorgeous and every summer I will sit down and watch it again.

Jane Eyre (2006) - Having read the book a number of times, I find it a pretty faithful adaptation. There are a few things that are different in the miniseries than what is included in the book, but for the most part it is pretty faithful to the book and enjoy watching it from time to time.

There are others that I could mention, but since I feel the need for a nap, I am going to stop here.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Armchair BEA Day 3 - Blogging Q & A

Today one of the topics ask us about our blogging habits and what keeps us going.

What keeps me blogging here is interacting with other readers and the community that I have created with them as a result of being apart of the community.

The blogging platform that I use is Blogger.  I think part of the reason was that it was a platform that I was aware of at the time that I started a previous blog that I haven't really blogged on since.  Since I have heard about WordPress, but I choose to stay here because I know what to expect than if I would move over to WordPress, especially in regards to adding photos and other media to my blog.

I network by getting involved in with memes, getting involved with readalongs and making sure that I have somesort of social media presence for the blog (I have a Facebook page for this blog under the same name) and by also linking up my blog posts through NetworkedBlogs.  And also by keeping up to date with book reviews (which for some reason that I have not been able to do over the last few months).

As for web designs, I just stick with what works for me, but what appeals to me as a reader of blogs is something that has interesting content and also keeps the blog neat and tidy, with not a lot of clutter on the blog, making it easy for a reader to read the stuff on the page, without everything else becoming the object of the readers eyes.  Of course you want relevant material on the side to inform readers what is going on with your reading life.

Enough of me chatting, I would love to hear what you think.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

ArmchairBEA Day 2: Social Media

 Armchair BEA is for those people who cannot visit Book Expo America but still want to join in the fun. This week, May 27th to 31st, there are celebrations for those who stay at home rather than make it to New York. Check here for other participating blogs discussing social media. 

Today, Thursday, is about the use of social media.

TWITTER

I have two twitter accounts, actually.  One, @melissawiebe, is my primary twitter account and where is you can chat with me on any issue on the sun and the one that I use most of the time the second one, @mjreadings, is one that I primarily use for my book blogging

FACEBOOK

I do use it for personal reason, but I also have a Facebook page for my blog, Jayne's Books.There I link up with my blog posts here.  I also put things that might interest my readers that I might not be able to post on my blog here, but that is very occasional.

INSTAGRAM

I also have an instagram account (@melissajayne80) that I post the covers of the books that I am currently reading  and other bookish things.  I also post other things as well that interest me and catch my eye from time to time.  I link up to my main Facebook or Twitter accounts as well.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Armchair BEA - Introduction Questions 2015

It's that time of year again; a time when a number of bloggers look forward to sharing the excitement of those that are heading to the BEA Expo from the comfort of their own homes.  And to kick things off, we answer a bunch of questions.

Here are the questions for this year:
Tell us a bit about yourself: How long have you been blogging? Where are you from? How did you get into blogging?
Why do you loving reading and blogging?
What is your theme song?
What does diversity mean to you?
What is one book everyone should read?
Share your favorite blog post on your blog. (aka written by you!)
What is your favorite genre and why?
What book are you reading right now?
What is the top book in your TBR pile?
What book are you most looking forward to reading this summer?
If you were stranded on a deserted island, what author would you want to bring with you? Why?

1) I am from Vancouver, BC. I have been blogging for about 4 years, but probably a bit longer. I started blogging on LiveJournal and eventually made the transition to Blogger.

2) I love reading because it gives me an ability to go to different places and times and I love blogging because I get to share my enjoyment of my reading with others.

7) I would say that my favourite genre is historical fiction with literary fiction not far behind as my favourite genre

8) I am reading a number of books, but am mainly reading All Quiet on the Western Front

10) If I was stranded on a deserted island, I would probably bring Tolstoy along with me, as his two main books, Anna Karenina and War & Peace would last a long time and probably make good kindling for fire, if need be.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

First Chapter - First Paragaph(s) - Tuesday Intros; Teaser Tuesdays (May 26)


This is my choice for this week:

First published 1928

We are at rest five miles behind the front.  Yesterday we were relieved, and now our bellies are full of beef and haricot beans.  We are satisfied and at peace.  Each man has another mess-tin full for the evening; and, what is more, there is a double ration of sausage and bread.  That put a man in fine trim.  We have not had such luck as this for a long time.  The cook with his carroty head is begging us to eat; he beckons with his ladle to every one that passes, and spoons him out a great dollop.  He does not see how he can empty his stew-pot in time for coffee.  Tjaden and Müller have produced two washbasins and had them filled up to the brim as a reserve.  In Tjaden this is voracity, Müller it is foresight.  Where Tjaden puts it all is a mystery, for he is and always will be as thin as a rake. - pg. 1& 2






Would you continue reading?

Monday, May 25, 2015

Musing Monday (May 25)

The last few days, due to work, I have been unable to read anything and the last few weeks my blogging has been non-existent, but I hope that will change sometime soon.  And I am starting to blog again in small steps and this is one of them.

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…
THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: Where is the strangest place you’ve ever read a book? OR… Where is the strangest place you’ve ever found a crazy-good book, 
Right now I am in the middle of a book slump, which is a bit of a bummer, but up next I will read All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Remarque (book club read that I have to present in about a week and a half), The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness, and The Prime Minister's Secret Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal (Maggie Hope #4).  I might start the Sarah MacLean series with A Rogue by Any Other Name (Rules of Scoundrels #1).

This week I blogged about the BOTNS Reading Bingo Challenge on my blog.  If you wish to join, it starts today, May 25, and ends on Labour Day, September 7.  You can still join and download a bingo card for this summer and I hope that some of you are interested enough to join me in the challenge (more information through the link above).
The strangest place that I read a book was a closet in the hotel room in Montreal that my sister and I were sharing.  I didn't want to go and sit in the bathroom nor did I want to go down to the lobby to do some reading, so I went into the closet, where there fortunately was a light that I could turn on to read while my sister slept.
PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either a link to your own Monday Musings post, or share your answer in a brief comment here (if you don't have a blog). Thanks!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

BOTNS Reading Bingo

I am a huge fan of BOTNS (Books on the Nightstand) and have listened to every episode that they have produced.  I know that I have mentioned them in an earlier post about the book podcasts that I listen to (will have to update the podcast, as there are new ones on the list).

One of the things that Ann and Michael have done for the last couple of years is a BOTNS Summer Bingo reading challenge.  Its a very relaxed reading challenge except that you have to read books within those categories and yes you do have a free space as to read whatever you like.  The fun part of the reading challenge is that you can refresh your card until you get something that you feel you like and will also challenge you.

So this is the card that I chose this summer:

I think the ones that may be a challenge for me are the poetry collection, self-help (not a big fan of the genre), finding a book in which the protagonist/narrator is over 50 years old, and the obscure novel by a famous author.

So if you wish to join, you can head over to Books on the Nightstand (link goes to the relevant page), download a card and start reading.  It starts May 25 (Memorial Day) and lasts until September 7(Labour Day).  Good luck!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Mailbox Monday (May 18)


Mailbox Monday is a place for readers to share the books that came into their homes during the past week.  After being hosted at a number of blogs over the past few years, it has gone back to its home base, the aptly named, Mailbox Monday.

I went on a bit of book buying binge this past weekend.  Never discount me and good deals that are being offered at the book store (this one was buy $40 or more at the store, not online, and get a $10 gift card from the store to be used at a later date; I won't say how much I spent, but it was definitely over $40).

So on Saturday afternoon, I went to the store and purchased about 5 books in addition to the 2 that I had just received on Wednesday from Amazon (The White Queen and Bring Up the Bodies).  So without further ado, here they are:


In order they are:

  • The White Queen by Philippa Gregory
  • The Kingmaker's Daughter by Philippa Gregory
  • The White Princess by Philippa Gregory
  • The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • The Moon & More by Sarah Dessen
  • The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory
  • Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
I also have the newest Harper Lee coming in July, which of course didn't come with the Gregory and Mantel books.  And it kinda looks like my summer reading is kinda set.

#boutofbooks Wrap-Up Post



Overall, I think I did pretty good.  I got All the Bright Places completed and got most of Vanessa and Her Sister completed and should be done on Monday or Tuesday.

As for pages read, I got about 370 completed, which is pretty good, but for me a little disappointing. Hopefully the one in August is a little better for me in that respect.  I didn't really participate in any Twitter chats nor did I do any challenges, but I did enter a contest on Saturday.

#boutofbooks Update #6


Today was a bit better reading wise, but still didn't spend the full day reading; am hoping that I will be able to that tomorrow, as I don't have anything really planned.  I hope to get at least part 2 and completed from Vanessa and Her Sister and start Book of Life and get the first little bit completed.

While I know that there is no really sanctioned twitter chat, I will try to come around and chat with some of my fellow readers at some point during the day.

Happy book dreams.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Saturday Snapshot (May 16)





Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads.

Every now and then, I spend some time with my mom's parents on Saturday mornings.  More often than not, we spend sometime at their favourite spot: Tim Horton's.   Now if you live in Canada or have spent any time here, you know what I am referring to.  The chain has also expanded into the United States under the banner Tim Horton's Cafe and Bake Shop.  I took this photo this morning, while my mom and I (not pictured) were enjoying sometime with them.


Friday, May 15, 2015

#boutofbooks Update #5


While I didn't finish anything, nor get anything really completed, I did start reading Vanessa and Her Sister on Friday and am in the process of possibly starting two other books that I am wanting to get done.  Thankfully it is the weekend and so I will probably be able to get a little more reading done after a fairly busy week.  Maybe I'll stop to watch the series finale of Mad Men this coming Sunday evening and to attend church and to do a few other tasks that I would like to get done.

Here's to a happy weekend of reading....

#boutofbooks Update #4



Thursday was a bit more successful of a reading day, in that I did actually complete a book off my list,  All the Bright Places.  I don't know how much I will be able to read today, but if things work out, I shouldn't have an issue getting some reading done.  I don't know if I will get anything completed, but I'll see.

Book Blogger Hop: May 15th - 21st


The question this week is:

If you see a book you like but see it is 400 or 500+ pages, will you still read it? 

Yes I will still the read the book, especially if it is a book that I want to read.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

#boutofbooks Update #3



While I did expect not to read a lot today, I did kinda expect to read during the evening.  That didn't exactly happen.  I didn't sleep well overnight and due to some social engagements I had during the afternoon, I was exhausted.  And the last thing on my mind was sitting down and reading.  But I did go to the libraries that I have membership with and pick up materials I had requested.  The next  few days should be better, but sometimes life throws you curve balls that you can't anticipate.

Hope you all have pleasant bookish dreams.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

#boutofbooks Update #2



While I didn't read the amount that I had hoped to, I did read a bit more than I did on Monday.  The reason for the lack of reading was due to the fact that I was busy for a good portion on Tuesday, cleaning in the afternoon and at my Bible study group in the evening and by the time I got home, I was feeling tired (I didn't finish the movie that I had hoped to watch prior to going to be).  Wednesday will probably look somewhat the same, as I have a number of things up in the afternoon, but I am not as busy in the evening and hopefully I can get some reading done then.  Thursday through Sunday are much more freer and looks like I will be able to read for most of them.  Happy reading.

#boutofbooks Update #1



Didn't read as much as I hoped to; was hoping to complete All the Bright Places on Monday, but due to waking up late and having stuff to deal with, I didn't really read much.  I tried to read this evening, but some reason my head wasn't in it.    I hope that this afternoon will be a little more productive.   And by not reading much, I read like 10 pages.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

#boutofbooks 13 Sign-up




This is one of my favourite read-a-thon's (my other being the 24 hour readathon, among a couple of others) and the start date is creeping up on me.  If you want to join, you can still do so.

Here is some information about Bout of Books:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 11th and runs through Sunday, May 17th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 13 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

I hope that you will be able to join me as well.

Here are the books that I hope to read from:
  • The Book of Life
  • The Color Purple
  • All the Bright Places
  • All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Vanessa and Her Sister
  • Moon over Manifest
  • While We're Far Apart
  • plus maybe a one or more two books
I know that I won't be able to complete everything on this list, but I can probably at least start or make some headway on most of them.  

My goals for Bout of Books 13 are:
  1. Complete at least two of the books on the list
  2. Read every day
  3. Update my blog readers as to what I am up to
  4. Read at least 600 pages
  5. Participate in a Twitter chat
  6. Participate in at least one challenge/giveaway
I also hope to get caught up on book reviews during the week at some point.  Hope you all have a great week of reading.
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