Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Here’s some fun links and book news from around the world:


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I have a serious love for WWII novels especially those that involve women working for the French Resistance. Kristin Hannah’s newesnightingalet novel The Nightingale explores the lives of two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, who couldn’t be more different. The elder sister Vianne is married to a French soldier and lives in the small town of Carriveau with her young daughter Sophie. When her husband is called off to the front to fight, Vianne is left at home in a country soon to be invaded by Nazis. Unlike her younger sister Isabelle, Vianne is not politically minded and simply wants to stay out of the conflict. In contrast, Isabelle joins with the French Resistance at the first opportunity and risks her life by transporting downed Allied pilots to safety. Though the two sisters have very different reactions to the pressures of living under German occupation, they are both drawn into the conflict and resist the Germans in their own fashion.

Hannah has drawn a convincing portrait of life under the Germans in occupied France. I found myself much more sympathetic to Vianne’s story than to Isabelle’s larger than life work as a resistance fighter. Vianne’s struggle to keep her daughter safe and to simply survive the limited food rations likely reflects the experience of many women during the war. At pivotal moments she is forced to choose whether to stand up to the Nazis or to bury her head in the sand. Hannah does an admirable job of showing both her strengths and weaknesses in the midst of an impossible situation. A definite 9/10 rating.

Other WWII books I highly recommend:

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Lost Wife

All the Light we Cannot See

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Top Books of 2012

Though this blog has been silent for way too long, I’m hoping to resurrect it from its slumber. I have had a great year of reading and I miss the opportunity to write about them and reflect upon them more intentionally. I have split these into a couple of different categories since my reading tastes are a little eclectic at times.

Favourite Fiction Novel: Before I go to Sleep (S.J. Watson)

I read this a very long time ago but the story has stayed with me. It’s a thriller version of “50 First Dates”. I loved all the twists and turns that the story took and highly recommend it.


Favourite Young Adult Book: Divergent (Veronica Roth)

This is a favourite of many seeing as it won the best Goodreads books last year. I love dystopian fiction and this was a great read especially for anyone who love the Hunger Games. I have to say that I did not love “Insurgent” the second book in the series but I think that is more due to it being a transition book. Looking forward to the third book coming out this year.


Favourite Fantasy Series: Green Rider Series (Kristen Britain)

I fell in love with this series this past fall. Even though I had so much on my plate for school, I still managed to read through all four novels in under a month. I loved the setting of the court but that the main characters were their own unit as a messenger service. The main character Karigan was refreshing and authentic starting out as a rebellious teenager before maturing into a young woman with a lot of responsibilities to both her family and country. I know the fifth book will likely not be published for a while but this series was a highlight for me this year.


Favourite Mystery Series: Sebastian St. Cyr (C.S. Harris)

I was sucked into this series so quickly even though I had tried twice before and failed to read the first few chapters of the first book. I’m not a big mystery novel reader but I love the combination of mystery, history and romance in these novels. They reminded me quite a bit of Deanna Raybourn’s series which I also enjoyed.


Favourite Book Cover: Seraphina (Rachel Hartman)

This book cover sold me on the book. I love wood engravings and this reminded me of them. It totally captures the atmosphere of the world Hartman has created. A world where humans and dragons co-exist together was fascinating. I also loved the story and am looking forward to reading the next books in the series.


Favourite Children’s Picture: Boy + Bot (Amy Dyckman)

I do not like robots. Never have. But I love this book. Sweet, simple and fun. I read a lot of picture books at the moment for my 2.5 year old son. This was a huge favourite this year at our house. I also love the illustrations – they perfectly capture the two unlikely friends.

ImageThat’s it for now!

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3WVDR8CANC7VP4CA820TRWCAXN5J9ACAMPKS4KCAOXP702CAM9AWZMCA5NCKX3CAQN1F6ZCASBR28YCA2ORP7GCANX1D46CAE1VNOHCA239225CAT3KF1TCA4XVBORCA763SZPCAD2CGYECAQHWUS3CAUA8QUIVampires seem to be everywhere today. From Twilight to True Blood to the new show Vampire Diaries. I’m not sure why we are fascinated with these dark creatures. Is it their eternal life or that they never age? Or is it that they exist outside the morals of society? Whatever it is – clearly our interest is continuing to spawn many vampire books and movies. I haven’t been immune to this wave of vampire mania. I devoured the Twilight series in a weekend and have been making my way through the Sookie Stackhouse novels. As wonderful as those stories were they remained “lighter” fiction and not necessarily helping me to read more literary works.

So to my delight – I was given a copy of The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. Her first novel in which she explores the real man behind the folklore of Dracula. Her tale literally drags the reader throughout Europe from Amsterdam to France to Romania to Hungary and to Bulgaria. Although a vampire story – this is much less action packed. As the title implies this is a novel for the academically minded. Much of time is spent with the main characters poring over ancient manuscripts in monasteries or beautiful libraries. As a doctoral student, I found this aspect fascinating as it showed how history can come alive. The ancient people or cultures that we study are not far removed from us as we might have thought.

This book raises a lot of questions regarding knowledge and the power of books. They are shown to be tools to educate and illuminate but also can help promote tyranny and injustice. Libraries and collections of books are very central to the novel and it made me wonder how much can we tell about a person based on what books they read?

My rating for this book is a 9/10.

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A tentative start…

It’s 11:17am and I should be working on my dissertation. Instead I thought a better use of my time would be to start my very own blog. I suppose a little introduction is in order. I’m a thirty year old PhD student living just outside of Toronto. I have always been a big reader and always have 4 or 5 books on the go. Unfortunately with the stress of school I sometimes tend to read lighter fiction that is not very demanding and my pile of good literary fiction just keeps growing. There’s nothing wrong with reading lighter books but I really do want to tackle some of those great books out there.

In terms of my favourite books to read. I have a bit of an eclectic tastes in books. My favourite books have to be very character driven and I have to really care what happens to them – whether they are the hero/heroine or villain! Lately I’ve been a bit obsessed with vampire fiction and as we’re heading into the fall season I don’t see it lessening any. At the moment I’m reading the Historian by Elizabeth Kostova and really loving it. I’m almost finished and it’ll be my first book review.

As for what this blog will be about. I’m not too sure at the moment. I’ll definitely post my reviews of books and since I’m such a geek I’m going to have a “Word of the Week” post. Perhaps I’ll pick a fun/strange/difficult word from a book I’m reading. I might also do the same for fun expressions – I’ve always been fascinated by language and the evolution of words/phrases. Haven’t you ever wondered where the expression “a murder of crows” derives from?

That’s all for now.  I’ll be back with a review of the Historian.

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