2018 Reading Challenge

2018 Reading Challenge

2018 Reading Challenge
Tina has read 0 books toward her goal of 30 books.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

REVIEW for Getting Off by Erica Garza

Thank you to the publisher Simon & Schuster for giving me an e-copy of this book.

TITLE:             Getting off

AUHTOR:        Erica Garza

GENRE:           Memoir


My short review is: I LOVE THIS BOOK.

Memoirs on addictions are, in my opinion, very difficult to write. Imagine taking your biggest secrets and putting them all on paper for the world to see. 

This is exactly what Garza did - in fact, she did it in a way that was different from many memoirs, while you can feel the dread, sadness, bewilderment Garza feels as she continues to indulge in her addiction, she does so in a way that sends the message "mea culpa, but I am human and this will never be perfect".

I found this refreshing and surprising. Yes, we get the feeling that Garza is completely lost and yes, while she describes her past (especially her younger years with candor and mercifully not too much detail) we also get the feeling that this person was born to be who she is with the good, the bad and the really bad.

I am not sure I understand some of the passages in her book, but I love that she is always honest, despite the fact that she basically tries everything to find "inner peace" - yoga, mediation, writing. While other memoirs would stop at "now that I have done all these things I have found inner peace" Garza doesn't find inner peace, but rather some kind of understanding of herself, if only a little.

I do admit that I questioned how she could travel so much, to such places without ever seeming to run of money. I also wonder how she managed to survive this behavior without STDs, but this is extremely well written. Thoughtful and deep and I love, love it.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

REVIEW for Walk It Off by Ruth Marshall

Thank you to the wonderful people at Simon & Schuster Canada for giving me a copy of this book to read and review.

TITLE:             Walk it Off

AUTHOR:       Ruth Marshall

GENRE:           Memoir

RATING:          3 Stars

This book started out well. Loved the humor Marshall brought to the situation.

The writing was informative and fun and she managed to make me feel engaged in a memoir on a scary subject.

Why am I rating this 3 stars? I felt that after the operation, as the author was making us more familiar with rehab and who she had become as a person, post surgery, I started losing interest. All of a sudden the tone of the book changed. It became a heavy handed story, with a "heroine" that was really unlikable. The tone turned diva and shrill and gone was the humor that was such an important part of the story.

Of course, I am conscious of how scared Marshall must have been, but her writing just turned to "listen to me" "me, me, me" that I found myself skipping entire pages. I do realize that a memoir lends itself to lots of "me, me" sentences, but there was a lack of gratefulness towards all the people who supported her - her hubby, her parents, her kids, the medical profession that it really turned me off.

Imagine the poor people who had to go through this same medical event and were not lucky enough to have the sound support system Marshall was lucky enough to have.

I will give her props for writing her story. That took guts. I just wish I could have loved this book and its heroine more.

Monday, December 25, 2017

A year in review

                 You have read 28 of 40 books in 2017

Goodreads tells me that I have read only 28 books out of the 40 that I was hoping to read this year.

That's 70% read, which is not a horrible number, but I would have liked to meet my target.

A few things factored into my reading less this year.  The biggest one being that my travel time to work is now cut in half and since I am on the bus so early in the morning, I feel more like closing my eyes for a few minutes than reading.

The second thing is that I am knitting.  I am an extremely slow knitter and the shawl I started in February is just now completed, which means I will be looking for something else to knit.

The third thing is that I am finding it increasingly more difficult to find good reading material.  I cannot even begin to tell you how many books I started and abandoned after a few boring chapters.  My friends always tell me how "picky" I am and I agree.  I hate (not a strong enough word) anything with dystonia, zombies, fairies, etc., which severely limits the reading selection.

The good news is that the books I did read, for the most part, were excellent!

I am going to participate in the 2018 Goodreads challenge, but I think I may put a more realistic number.

As for 2017, this year has been kind of a "meh" year for me.  Nothing amazing and nothing horrible, which after living the worst years of my life in 2014 and 2015 (and the early part of 2016), I will take.

I don't believe in making new year's resolutions because I never stick to them, but I am continuing to work on the issues I need to work on and hopefully 2018 will be better than just "meh".

I am lucky that I have some important people in my life who have been there for me, through the good and not good.  I am grateful for these people.

Above all else, I will continue to be brave and do things that challenge me - 

Happy 2018 to all.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

REVIEW for The People vs. Alex Cross by James Patterson

A huge thank you to the people at Hachette Book Group Canada for the Advanced Reading Copy of this book.

TITLE:                     The People vs. Alex Cross

AUTHOR:                James Patterson

GENRE:                   Thriller

RATING:                  3 Stars

Love Alex Cross and look forward to reading his ongoing story every year.

Alex is in trouble this time around and is on trial for killing Sonjei's "followers". I have to be honest, this is not one of Patterson's best in the series. For one thing, it takes forever to take off. The first few chapters are boring and with Alex being on the bad side of the law right now, we don't find ourselves in the middle of the action as much as we normally are.

I do like that Patterson chose to put Alex in a less than favorable light in this one, as one of my complaints is that Alex and his family are always to loved, so perfect, so it is nice to see that change in this one.

Patterson still writes way too much about Cross' family life and yes, the kids, Bree and Nana are still amazingly perfect in everyone's eyes. Patterson needs to do something about the way he makes Cross' family so saintly all the time, it just does not sound true and now, Ali, the youngest is becoming the newest superstar. UGH!

Once the action does get going (and it takes a while) the book turns into a thriller and I recognize Cross and all that he brings to the story. Unfortunately, that is only toward the last part of the book, so you need to sludge through the first part to get to the good stuff.

Oh well, I still will continue reading Alex Cross.

Monday, November 13, 2017

REVIEW for The Bookshop Diaries by Andy Vines

TITLE:            The Bookshop Diaries

AUTHOR:       Andy Vines

GENRE:           Memoir


A book about books in a bookshop, what else can I ask for?  Very, very quick read with random thoughts on what happens in a bookshop.  Cute, could be interesting, but these random bits don't really gel to form a story that will make it easier to picture the bookstore or the customers.

Monday, October 16, 2017

REVIEW for The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell

TITLE:                 The Diary of a Bookseller

AUTHOR:           Shaun Bythell

GENRE:              Non fiction -memoir

RATING:            4 Stars

Ultimately this was a hard book to rate. There were some great parts and some that, in my opinion, needed work.

I owned a used bookshop for 5 years and reading this book brought back some memories - most of them excellent. I loved, loved, the diary entries related to the customers and for some reason, bookshops do attract some of the quirkiest people.

I also thoroughly enjoyed Bythell's description of his shop and the books in it. I could actually imagine it all in my eye and he did an amazing job with this. 

It felt as though the book was too short and I could have continued reading endless entries, had he decided to document more of his years in the shop. 

For this part this book definitely gets 5 stars.

However, there were a few things that were not clear in his entries and maybe I am being too picky, but if you are going to note how many online orders you receive and fulfill, then you should also note how much money they brought in. At the end of all of his entries, Bythell notes the amount of money he made for the day, but for some reason, excludes his online sales. I would also like to have seen a total for how much the shop brough in every day versus how much he spent each day buying books. Either put complete information in the entries or put nothing at all.

Having said all of this and the reason I struggled with the rating was the fact that there is absolutely no emotion in these entries - nothing. As a former bookshop owner, I can tell you that there was alot of stuff going on in my store and most of it brought some kind of emotion. The feeling you get when someone brings in a box of books - with that possibility of discovering a treasure. The stories you hear from customers about their lives, the ups and downs financially of owning a business. NONE of this is present in this book and it left a hole for me. The author details some of his personal life in the entries and does so without any emotion, be it with his "girlfriend", his parents, regular customers. It seriously removed the fun for me.

Also, where and how did he manage to do all the activities he did from a financial point of view? especially in the winter months where the shop was bringing in less than $50.00 a day - how do you buy a new van? stay at a hotel? hire several people to work in your shop while you go fishing? buy lots of books for serious bucks? I don't get it and it is absolutely not explained. Yes, I agree that this is not our "business" but if you are going to write this type of book, it needs to make sense and the reader needs to understand how this type of business works.

Overall, this was a good read, but it left me with a lot of questions.

I also loved the irony of how Bythell writes often about shooting a Kindle (yep, literally) obviously despising them - yet his book was available on Kindle!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

REVIEW for We Can't Be Friends by

Thank you Sourcebooks Fire for sending me an electronic copy of this book.

TITLE:               We Can't Be Friends

AUTHOR:           Cyndy Etler

GENRE:               Non Fiction


This story sounded so interesting to me, so I was thrilled to receive a copy.

I rated this book a 4 because of the core story, NOT the writing.  If you can get past the stilted and somewhat look winded storytelling, you will absolutely enjoy this book.

The author's own life experience, once she is "clean and sober" is an amazingly interesting look at what it feels like to be in recovery from your dependency on drugs and or alcohol.  

Indeed recovery is not for the faint of heart and can be intimidating and confusing for adults, so it is no mystery that it can be even more so for a teenager.

Etler does an excellent job of describing her need for "more" in her life, her need to connect to other people, things and events that will not trigger her or set her off to use again.  The constant fear, the pain, the never/looping of questions in her head.  This is clearly portrayed and shouts out at the readers. 

While you are recovering, you have to do a lot of work on yourself and unfortunately, recovery and self help meetings do not necessarily help you or prepare you for the outside world and how to connect to people and still stay sober.  

Additionally, the outside world and the people do not know how to connect necessarily with someone in recovery.  

It is a very difficult road and scary, something that the author portrays very well.  We feel for her as she discovers who she is and where she fits in.

Wonderful story.  Awful writing.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

REVIEW for Lessons from the Prairie by Melissa Francis

TITLE:            Lessons from the Prairie

AUTHOR:      Melissa Francis

GENRE:         Memoir/Self Help


I loved, loved Melissa's first book, even though I have never seen one episode of Little House on the Prairie. Her honesty, her humor came through in her first book and coupled with an interesting life story, I could not put it down.

Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for this one. Yes, her trademark down to earth writing style and her humor are very present, but she lost me with the "life lessons". For me, what worked best about this book are the passages where Melissa talks about her youth or when she speaks about her day to day life today - anything in between was, to me, boring.

I know the book was about Life Lessons, but I was hoping these would be minimal - which is not the case.

I think this book would please many, many readers, but it is not for me. I think I will go back and re-read her first book.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

REVIEW for Epic Fail by Christy Watson

Thank you to the wonderful publishing company LORIMER for sending me an electronic copy of this book to read and review.

TITLE:                      Epic Fail

AUTHOR:                Cristy Watson

GENRE:                    YA

RATING:                  3 Stars

I like this series of books because they are not afraid to tackle the hard subjects.

Epic Fail is about date rape and what it does to not only the victim but the people around her.

While the story was compelling, the characters needed to be a lot more developed. Kenzie, the victim and Jared, her friend who feels guilty about what happened are the two most developed characters and yet, I still haven't figured out much about them. Bree and Seth, two more important players in this story are mentioned on occasion, but absolutely nothing is said about them other than they are bad.

I do like that the author chose to make Kenzie work on getting better with a combination of therapy, friendship and self-esteem. The message, while hard to hear, is, in the end a positive one.

Having said all of this, there were some incredibly important moments that were completely missing in this book. ALL the parents are written as either non caring, clueless or self involved.

Jared was a good character, other than the fact that he went back and forth between being strong and extremely weak, which I would not have minded so much, if he didn't seem to spend all of his time second guessing himself on everything. But, I like that he was there for Kenzie when it mattered most and that he never judged her for what happened.

This is an interesting read, but there are some elements missing here.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Review for Being Ana by Shani Raviv

TITLE:                Being Ana

AUTHOR:          Shani Raviv

GENRE:             Memoir


I have read many, many books on addiction and I normally enjoy reading the "recovery" part more than the "disease" part.

However, with this book, it was the contrary. This book was okay until about 3/4 through and then it just got weird and boring.

For sure, I didn't particularly like the author (and the main character) at any point in this story, but that's okay. What i struggled with is the lack of emotion in this story. Even she is describing a disturbing or hard event, you get the impression she is like a robot, which I suppose is part of the story but it makes this story strangely distant.
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