2019 Reading Challenge

2019 Reading Challenge

2019 Reading Challenge
Tina has read 2 books toward her goal of 32 books.
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Thursday, September 5, 2019

Book REVIEW for Confessions of a bookseller by Shaun Bythell




Thank you to the publisher for sending me an electronic copy of this book,

TITLE:                 Confessions of a Bookseller


AUTHOR:            Shaun Bythell

GENRE;               Non fiction

RATING:             4 stars

 have read both books in the series and have the exact same thoughts on both.

I love the bookstore stories. The customers, the online sales of books, the book buying trips and, of course, Captain. I would have continued reading hundreds and hundreds of pages on the above subjects.

What I struggle with though, is the fact that the author is not particularly likable. In fact, I am reminded of a saying I heard recently "all that brooding intensity is just annoying sometimes". That is exactly how I feel about the author and since he is an integral part of the story, I found myself turned off by the stories that are directly connected to him.

In fact, the weakest parts of this book are the characters. Yes, I know that bookstores are known for being eclectic, but I don't understand how a boss can tolerate employees who basically do what they want, which includes calling him names and blatantly disregarding his instructions (not to mention coming in late or not at all).

The part that is absolutely worth reading are the bits featuring conversations about books. Books purchased and sold and I love, love the stories about visiting various homes and buying collection of books. I wish there would have been a lot more focus on this topic and less on who is sleeping where for the "festival".

This book is well written (in diary form) and, for the most part, is fun.

I, again, wonder how he makes all his money. According to his "till" totals, there is no way he should be able to buy all the books he does, not to mention all the other expenses he seems to pay off without a care in the world about $.

I always find his books incomplete, like we are missing pieces of the puzzle for it to all make sense.
 

Thursday, August 22, 2019

BOOK REVIEW for Girls Like Me by Kristin Butcher

I love this series.  They are short, I admit, but they are all aimed at YA and usually carry an important social theme.


Thank you to Orca Book Publishers for sending me an electronic copy of this book to read and review.


TITLE:               Girls Like Me

AUTHOR:         Kristin Butcher

GENRE:             YA

RATING:            4 stars


This book was no different. The theme of rape, pregnancy and friendship are all covered in this way too short book.

The book opens with a resounding scene, our main character is rushed to the hospital because she is bleeding.  It turns out that she was pregnant and miscarried.  This is definitely an issue as she is a YA and nowhere ready for motherhood.

While this could have covered a whole book in itself, the author chooses to focus on the reason she got pregnant.

Horrific and all too possible.  

What I liked most about this book is the main character, she is smart and makes a decision to keep living her life as best as she can.  We see how hard her "friends" makes it for her, in fact, her best friend disappears and ends up hooking up with "the" guy everyone is in love with.

The friendship is strained, until an event brings them back together.  

The whole story is done very well, with respect and with big issues needing to be handled.

Loved, loved this book.

Friday, July 5, 2019

BOOK REVIEW for Confessions of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell






THIS BOOK IS SCHEDULED TO BE RELEASED IN AUGUST 2019.

Thank you to the publisher, Profile Books Inc, for giving me an advanced  e-copy of the book to read and review.

TITLE:                   Confessions of a Bookseller


AUTHOR:              Shaun Bythell


GENRE:                 Memoir

RATING:               4 Stars




I have read both books in the series and have the exact same thoughts on both.

I love the bookstore stories. The customers, the online sales of books, the book buying trips and, of course, Captain. I would have continued reading hundreds and hundreds of pages on the above subjects.

What I struggle with though, is the fact that the author is not particularly likable. In fact, I am reminded of a saying I heard recently "all that brooding intensity is just annoying sometimes". That is exactly how I feel about the author and since he is an integral part of the story, I found myself turned off by the stories that are directly connected to him.

In fact, the weakest parts of this book are the characters. Yes, I know that bookstores are known for being eclectic, but I don't understand how a boss can tolerate employees who basically do what they want, which includes calling him names and blatantly disregarding his instructions (not to mention coming in late or not at all).

The part that is absolutely worth reading are the bits featuring conversations about books. Books purchased and sold and I love, love the stories about visiting various homes and buying collection of books. I wish there would have been a lot more focus on this topic and less on who is sleeping where for the "festival".

This book is well written (in diary form) and, for the most part, is fun.

I, again, wonder how he makes all his money. According to his "till" totals, there is no way he should be able to buy all the books he does, not to mention all the other expenses he seems to pay off without a care in the world about $.

I always find his books incomplete, like we are missing pieces of the puzzle for it to all make sense.

Monday, June 24, 2019

BOOK REVIEW for Save Karyn by Karyn Bosnak


TITLE:                 Save Kary

AUTHOR:            Karyn Bosnak

GENRE:              Memoir/self help

RATING:             5 Stars


I love, love this book.

To be honest, I had read it when it first came out. This was at the beginning of the Internet craze and at the time, this was a radical thing to do - ask strangers for $. Now, we have all types of site that do just that, but it is interesting to read, in Karyn's own words, her experiences. I feel she is a bit of a pioneer in the "asking for money" arena and I thought it was a brilliant idea.

The first part of the book details her spending. It is done with humor and is an honest look at a single woman living and working in NYC. Karyn's writing style is nice, she is down to earth and the pacing of the book is perfectly done.

You end up cringing at some of the purchases, but also at some of her reasoning, because you have no doubt been there at some point.  Its amazing how our brains can rationalize stuff and you can see it, in full force, in this story.

Its interesting to see the progression of her shopping and the inflation of her debt. At the end of each chapter, she includes a copy of her credit card statements., Wouldn't it be great if we could all remove ourselves from our own lives and see it written down.   How would  act if we saw on paper our purchases and the associated debt.

I have always felt that debt kind of creeps up on you.  You know its there, but you keep telling yourself its not that bad - when it actually is.

Karen's debt load was killing her and I don't know how she managed the stress. No job and $20K in debt.  I would have freaked out AND living in NYC where no apartment is cheap!

The second part of the book details how she gets out of debt. Between selling her designer stuff on Ebay and creating her website to ask $ for strangers, it is fun to read all of her entries.  Now she is putting every penny towards her debt, which leaves her drinking really bad instant coffee because she has no money to buy the better stuff.

What is lacking in this book is more details about her state of mind during the second part of her book. We get a lot of i am hungry, but not a lot of anything else. I wanted to know how she could just turn that switch on and off - one minute you buy designer and the next you sell it off, eat ramen noodles without much effort. Did she ever want to just splurge? these are the types of questions I have.

Overall, this book is fantastic and kind of inspirational and a cautionary tale for sure.

I would love a follow up memoir to let us know what happened AFTER the first book.
 

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

BOOK REVIEW for A Sucky Love Story by Brittani Louise Taylor

A Sucky Love Story: Overcoming Unhappily Ever After by [Taylor, Brittani Louise]



TITLE:            A Sucky Love Story

AUTHOR:      Brittani Taylor


GENRE:          Memoir


RATING:         5 stars


Oh my god this was such a good book.

I actually bought this book because I loved the title, never having heard of Brittani Louise Taylor. I thought it would be light reading, with some cute break up stories. Even the cover made me think this....but what I found was completely different.

This book is amazing - the story Brittani tells is so private and so scary. It makes you really ask the question "do we ever really know someone" and from my personal experience I can tell you a resounding "NO".

The opening pages are light and airy, but then the story takes a turn and what makes it so engrossing is that this is real and could have happened to any woman.


Brittani has a wonderful writing style.  She gives us just enough detail without adding  boring details and she knows how to make the tension mount.

The turn this story takes is scary for any female. Like many of us, Brittani, a smart woman, basically turns dumb when it comes to Milos (been there, done that!). At times, I found myself yelling at her, then being scared for her, then going from appalled to ultimately rooting for her.

What would have done in this situation? I would like to think I would have dealt with it sooner than Brittani did,  but I am not remotely certain I would have.  Men lie - and they do it well and this book is a prime example of that.  They get you to the point where you question your own sanity, which Brittani conveys clearly in this story.

Thank you to Brittani for writing this book, it must have been hard and you are brave.

Now, start writing fiction books with strong female characters and I promise to buy and read each one.


Friday, April 26, 2019

BOOK REVIEW for Push Back by Karen Spafford-Fitz


Thank you to James Lorimer & Company for sending me an electronic copy of this book to read and review.

TITLE:             Push Back

AUTHOR:        Karen Spafford-Fitz

GENRE:           YA - social theme

RATING:           4 Stars


This was a very enjoyable read and did not go in the "standard" direction I thought it would go.

Zaine is in trouble after doing something stupid, but this character was pretty well fleshed out, considering how short this book is.  The author did a good job of showing us his "bad" side, but also his "better" side.  This comes through especially when he spends time with his 3 year old cousins.

Throughout the story, I actually felt for him.  A useless mother who puts herself first each and every time and Zaine who feels unwanted and rejected.  

Thankfully, this story did not go in the general direction of "everyone hates me so I will be bad".  I like that the author chose to give Zaine a few people in his life who actually want him to succeed.


The scenes with Lucas were too short, I would have liked more of those, but overall, the story is good, the characters are fairly well fleshed out and I found myself cheering for Zaine.

Friday, April 19, 2019

BOOK review for Inebriated by Katey Taylor



TITLE:            Inebriated

AUTHOR:      Katey Taylor

GENRE:          YA

RATING:          5 Stars



This is exactly my type of book. I was actually mad when I had to put it down to deal with real life.

Having said that, this book also exasperated me almost as much as I loved it. The characters were so incredibly flawed that all I did was yell at them for the entirety of the storyline.

The basis was intriguing a 17 year old meets her idol, musician Adrian and surprise, surprise, they actually end up together.

At first, I though the story would go in typical fashion - fan meets star and has sex, only to never see them again. But Adrian actually did "fall" for Cait in a way and it was like watching a car crash (no pun intended) in slow motion.

I loved that the author did not show Adrian as a complete jerk, but rather someone who is extremely broken, but who does have moments of "reality". I think, in many ways, he was the most interesting of all the characters and the best fleshed out.

His mood swings and his honestly about his drug addiction were compelling, until you remember that he made a conscious choice of sleeping with a 17 year old while he was battling his demon.

Cait is probably the character I disliked the most and the one that was the least fleshed out. If her actions were meant to be some kind of mental rebellion against her parent's divorce, then I don't really by it. This was one spoiled little princess who was at times incredibly immature and at other times more mature than all of them. But she constantly walked that line and by the way, as she worried about everyone else's addictions, she might have asked herself.....why do I need booze when I go to ANY social events?

I think the story failed in a few spots with this character. Her actions are never really explained and that includes why she would think it is ok to let her friends start/do cocaine. Was she so self centered that she only could handle her own stuff? I never found that she was a good friend. A good friend would have tried to talk her friends from doing things that were dangerous or just plain stupid. Cait failed big time in that area.

Steph was okay, but again, what was her problem? Was it as simple as "young, rich and dumb?".

One of the biggest issues I could see was that NONE of these kids had jobs and it is never really mentioned. I get that Steph "had money" but what about everyone else? I can't believe that Cait, as a 17 year old, was not expected to get a job for the summer.

I also saw very minimal parental guidance in this story, which, of course, goes a long way in explaining what happened. The ease in which these kids got their hands on booze was also alarming as was the fact that Cait could "sleep over/out" so many times. The parents were obviously written as caricatures of themselves - no parent is that dumb!

Finally, the ending of this book is awful and very, very sad. Yet, once again, Cait gets away free. Come on, there should have been consequences for her - she was a huge part of the problem in the first place and yet, once again, she skates. What a terrible friend.

As a final question mark.....why were none of the kids worried about oh I don't know little things like HIV or sexually transmitted diseases? especially considering the story line.

As you can see I dissected this story to pieces, which means I loved it. I can't wait to read more from this author.

Friday, March 22, 2019

BOOK REVIEW for We All Fall Down by Daniel Kalla




Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for sending me an e-copy of this book to read and review.

TITLE:      We All Fall Down

AUTHOR:   Daniel Kalla

GENRE:      Thriller

RATING:     4 stars

I love Daniel Kalla's style of writing, especially when dealing with medical issues/terms.  He makes it clear and understandable without going on and on about boring things that will just clog up the story.

This book is thrilling.  I love a good pandemic type story and this one does not disappoint.  While we "sort of" know what is happening before the main characters do, its still intriguing as Kalla leaves a lot of unsolved issues and keeps them to the very end.

Although I had to read this slowly (time constraints) I was always annoyed that I had to put it down for "real life" and looked forward to picking it up again.

The only reason I did not give this a 5 stars is that I HATED the forced romance in this book. This story could have easily survived without any of that and I wish it had.  I am not sure why Kalla felt the need to insert that in an otherwise captivating read.

Friday, February 1, 2019

BOOK REVIEW for Fat Woman on the Mountain by Kara Richardson Whitely


TITLE:              Fat Woman on the Mountain

AUTHOR:         Kara Richardson Whitely

GENRE:            Memoir


RATING:           5 Stars



I have read all of Kara's books (albeit in the wrong order) and my favorites are definitely the ones where she talks about her adventures, even as a person with excess weight.

I loved reading about her fears, which would not prevent her from training for a climb to Kilimanjaro.

So inspiring and I loved loved her honesty. 

I felt as though I was right with her on her trek, reading actually make me feel dizzy a few times for how realistic it all felt.

Wonderful writing style - just enough information to help you feel as though you were hiking up the mountain as well.

I hope she writes a next book - detailing her next adventure! Very inspiring and I she does not claim that climbing that mountain worked miracles on her weight. In fact, she is honest in saying that she gained 60 pounds back - I am grateful that she is able to open up about this aspect of her life.

More books please.

Friday, January 11, 2019

BOOK REVIEW for I Ran With the Gang My Life In and Out of The Bay City Rollers by ALAN LONGMUIR


TITLE:         I Ran with the Gang, My Life In and Out of The Bay City Rollsers

AUTHOR:  Alan Longmuir with Martin Knight

GENRE:      Memoir

RATING:      4 stars


Right upfront, Alan Longmuir, co-founder of the Bay City Rollers tells the reader that there will be no scandal in this book.  He also says that he is only speaking on his own experiences and, for the most part, he stuck by these two comments really well.  Which means he is ethical but it also gives for a fairly vanilla memoir.

I rated this book 4 stars because it is a thoughtfully written book by a man who appears to be, by all accounts, humble, quiet and kind.  But this book could really have used a little bit more oomph because it is a tad boring.

Longmuir goes into a somewhat long explanation on his growing up years.  I think he could have cut it down by 30% - conversely, he should have added 30% more on The Bay City Rollers).

Of course, we are mostly reading this book to find out about Alan's experiences with the band.  Alan, similarly to the book written by Les several years ago, does not give us enough "on the road experiences" to help us get a good feel of it was for the boys at that time.  Alan generalizes A LOT and while drooling a little over Olivia Newton John and Ann Margaret, we don't get much else.  I would have loved to hear the thought process before a show, after a show.  How did he feel about the fans? what funny and not so funny events happened on the road?  There is none of that in this book.

One thing this book did well though was spell out Alan's feelings about the other guys in the band and how the Bay City Rollers are and have always been their own worst enemy.  Alan comments on this and even basically says "its time to grow up and stop the petty fights".  Unfortunately, neither the  Bay City Rollers nor the fans ever got to this place - made even sadder by the fact that only Nobby Clarke and Les' wife made it to Alan's funeral (Les was touring in Australia).  Even at the end, the BCR could not put their petty differences to go to Alan's funeral, the man who created the band in the first place.

On a more positive note, the writing is great!  Down to earth and a breeze to read.  The book is very short with just a little over 220 pages.

Yet, I can't say that I really have a much better idea of who Alan really was.  


RIP Alan Longmuir,  you and the BCR defined my youth.  Thanks to you and the BCR, I spent countless hours listening to your music, countless daydreams thinking about how wonderful you all were and most importantly countless days being a star struck teenager, who had no idea the horrors that you were all living while I was screaming out  "THE ROLLERSSSSS"

 
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