Saturday, 28 May 2011

Karen's Summer Chick Lit Challenge

My friend Karen, fellow booklover and talented book publicist in Toronto,  recently proposed a summer reading challenge that promises to be a lot of fun.

The goal is to read as many chick lit novels as humanely possible for the entire summer. My favourite chick lit author of all time is Marian Keyes. I don't read a lot of chick lit these days, but I've enjoyed Jane Green and Sophie Kinsella in the past and it looks like there is no shortage of chick lit options. Bring it on I say!

In Karen's words we're looking for titles that are "pure, unadulterated, fluffy chick lit". 

The first book on our list is Something Borrowed. So far it totally fits the bill and I'm starting to think about the next title. 

Would anyone like to join us? You can read at your own pace, and we can share ideas and compare reading lists at different stages during the summer. 

We would love to hear suggestions from you!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Vaclav & Lena: A Sweet Immigrant Coming-Of-Age Love Story

A few weeks ago I received a publicity copy of Vaclav & Lena by Haley Tanner. I was happy to receive an advance reader's copy (my first!) but was worried a bit because I like to blog about books that I love or want to read. I used to be a book publicist and appreciate that the person who sent it to me thought that I would enjoy it. But what if I didn't? 

I am happy to report that I LOVED Vaclav & Lena.  

Vaclav & Lena by Haley Tanner published by Random House Canada

The novel is a charming, sweet story about Vaclav and Lena, five-year-old Russian immigrant children who meet in an ESL class in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn.

Vaclav is wise beyond his years and he and Lena who has a troubled childhood spend everyday after school together and  aspire to one day perform a special magic show.

A lot happens as they grow up and part ways, but they have a special bond that can't be broken.

The story is at times funny, sad, sweet and anyone who reads it will be charmed by Vaclav and his love for Lena. 

Vaclav's mother is also an interesting character. She is tough on the outside but her weakness for Lena demonstrates that that she has a big heart. 

There are quite a few surprises and as the secrets and mystery of Lena's past were slowly revealed, it became really hard to put the book down.

I'm surprised that this  is Haley Tanner's first novel, she is definitely a writer to watch.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Two Novels: Two Sex Scandals

I've just finished reading two novels that deal with sex scandals. Reading the paper today, or almost any day really,  it is no surprise that there are a few novels out there that deal with this subject. Both got me thinking and asking questions, always a good sign that I've enjoyed the book.
Faith by Jennifer Haigh is definitely in my top 3 for spring. It is about the McGann's, a Boston family who all deal with the situation in different ways when Art, a popular pastor of a large suburban church is accused of molesting a young boy. His sister, Sheila, seeks to uncover the truth and discovers some family secrets that begin to influence the way she feels about the situation. As she looks for clues to what happened, and begins her own investigation of sorts,  the book becomes harder and harder to put down. It makes you think about important values like trust, faith, guilt and innocence. I highly recommend this novel. 

The second novel, Fly Away Home, by Jennifer Weiner (author of In Her Shoes, one of my favourites) is about Sylvie Serfer Woodruff, a fifty-seven year-old mother of two who is married to Senator Richard Woodruff. The family is torn apart when Richard is exposed as a cheater after a news story breaks that he has had an affair with one of his legislative aids and used his influence to get her a job at a law firm he used to work at.  

The big question in this novel is will Sylvie stay with Richard or dump him and start a new life?

And how can these women who are prominent in their own right stand by their husbands at the post scandal news conferences?

I'm not sure I got any insight into this after reading the novel but maybe that's the point.
There are some great female characters in this novel and I really enjoyed the dynamic between the two sisters. I also liked the witty dialogue which lightened things up when necessary. 


Monday, 9 May 2011

Back To The Bookstore?

Since I got my Amazon Kindle e-reader in March I have been feeling a little guilty about buying most of my new books online.  

I’ve always been a book person, I worked in publishing for a long time and I feel for the way that electronic book publishing and e-reading is impacting the industry. 

I never thought that I would prefer to read on an actual e-reader, I resisted for months as I thought that I would not be a real “book person” without my hardcover first editions.  But this is not the case anymore.  In two months I’ve downloaded 10 novels online and purchased three books in the bookstore (two of them were reference books). 

This weekend I was browsing in a real bookstore and it got me thinking about the benefits of buying and reading books on my Kindle AND buying and reading books at the bookstore: 
The Bookstore
  • There are still a few really great independent bookstores.  Ben McNally Books in Toronto is one example.
  • You can ask for help from an experienced bookseller who will help you find a book you will love.
  • Nothing beats walking around the bookstore and seeing some of the cool/interesting and eye catching covers.
  • While walking around you might stumble across a rare find which is not on any bestseller list, but is the best book you’ve ever read.
  • Rochelle mentioned to me that she was interested in reading Shania Twain’s new autobiography, but for now you can only buy it in the bookstore in Canada. Not everything is available right away for downloading on the Kindle. 
  • I still prefer to buy reference books that I can keep on my desk from the bookstore.
Downloading books on my Kindle e-reader
  • When I read about a book that looks good I can sample a chapter right away and see if I like it before buying it.
  •  It is less expensive in general to buy books online.  
  • I can take my Kindle with me anywhere and if I’m stuck waiting at an appointment I will always have something to read.
  • The cover with the light is one of the best inventions ever. I can read while my husband sleeps and the cover makes the Kindle feel like a book.
If you love to read then chances are you will enjoy reading physical books and books on an e-reader. Sadly I will probably continue to buy more books online than in the bookstore and I keep hearing the same thing from others who’ve been using e-readers. The good news is that people are saying that they are reading more books than ever with their e-readers. Hopefully new opportunities will be created for publishers, writers and booksellers who have always struggled in a competitive market. 

Thankfully, one thing is clear – booklovers will always be around.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Misery Loves Mystery

I've always been a big fan of mystery novels. Lately I've been buying more of them than usual - even for me. It probably has something to do with the miserable weather in Toronto. It has not stopped raining since March and in the meantime I seem to have purchased enough mysteries to last until next May. The good news is that this type of weather totally sets the mood for curling up with a cup of hot tea and and a mystery novel.
Here's the list I've been working on:
It is very scary, and if you like the TV show "Criminal Minds" then you will enjoy. I also really liked his first novel,The Sculptor. Terrifying.
I had not read one of hers in a long time! At first I thought I was really clever and had figured the whole thing out. I was proven wrong and there were some good twists and turns. 

I've downloaded this one, it sounded good. Still too early too tell. I read about it on LesleysBookNook.
I recently finished this one which I had mentioned in an earlier blog post. There were some really good twists and turns and I read it quite quickly.

I finished this one around a month ago. Lisa Gardner is one of my favourites. Again, I thought I had it all figured out but this was not the case.

Thanks to Bonnie in Mississipi for mentioning this author on the Booklover's Blog TorontoFacebook Page . Her new book sounds really good.

And for anyone out there who loves a good mystery, Joy Fielding is one of the best.

Does anyone else have any good suggestions? It doesn't look like this rain is going to go away anytime soon. . .