Friday, December 30, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #44 - Fame

I was tricked into reading another short story collection because the title indicated that it was a novel in 9 episodes. However in this case I was pleased with the collection overall. A couple of the stories I skimmed through a bit but most were engaging and the writing was quite outstanding.

This collection was translated from German. I always wonder in these cases how difficult it must be to translate and not make the text too much of your own. Also how much of my enjoyment of the book came from Carol Brown Janeway's influence on the text.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #43 - It Feels So Good When I Stop

Apparently Joe Pernice is some kind of musician, but I just happened upon his book in the highlighted section of my library and decided to check it out. There are a lot of musical references throughout the book so I should have clued in, but I didn't notice until about halfway through when I decided to read some of the author recommendations printed on the back of the book. I haven't heard any of Pernice's music that I know of, but after reading "It Feels So Good When I Stop", I am now of the opinion that he is also a respectable fiction writer.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #42 - Stash

"Stash" by David Klein is a tale about a mother, Gwen Raine, who visits an old boyfriend to pick up a bag of weed and on the way home gets into a car accident and things just go downhill from there. The other driver is killed, but the accident is determined to be his fault. However, because the police find the drugs in her car, they threaten her with major charges and try to force her to turn in her source.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #41 - What's Your Number

While cruising my local library I saw this book on the selected picks shelf. I remember reading a review of the movie and since I heard it was very awful, I was surprised that it was a book first. I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised though, I guess there are lots of terrible books as well. This book wasn't supremely terrible, but it was predictable and a bit ridiculous. Sometimes the ridiculousness was fun, and overall it was a decent, quick read. It was a bit like baby food or mac and cheese.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #40 - The Descendants

I'm on a roll again, I just finished reading "The Descendants" by Kaui Hart Hemmings. I had seen a trailer for the movie and decided to read the book as the premise seemed interesting. After just reading "Girlfriend in a Coma" it was slightly similar subject matter, but then again it is not really a book about someone in a coma, it is about a family struggling to find their own way.

I may be getting ahead of myself, for those who are not familiar, "The Descendants" is the story of the King family. We meet them as the mother, Joanie is in hospital after falling into a coma resulting from a boating accident. At first things seem optimistic, but eventually they do have to say goodbye and we follow the family through this journey, as they tell their friends and family and deal with other issues that have come to light as well.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #39 - The Guy Not Taken

It has taken me forever to finish another book, things in my personal life were not the best so I wasn't really able to focus on reading. It seems again that I will be unable to meet my goal of 52 books in a year, but perhaps I can get closer than last year and maybe 2012 will be the year I get it done. Last year I read 41 books in the year so I can be sure to beat that as I only need two more after this. No matter what, I feel that I have acheived something great, as I hardly used to read at all, and now I have read almost 40 books in 11 months.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #38 - Girlfriend in a Coma

I remember hearing buzz about “Girlfriend in a Coma” by Douglas Coupland back around the time it was released back in 1998. I also fairly enjoyed reading “Player One” so when I saw Coma in the library I was excited to pick it up. I had to be at the airport for my flight at 5am and I ended up getting through security quite fast so I had a fair amount of time to read before my flight left. Once I started reading Coma I didn’t want to stop. I was awfully tired, and I tried to take a nap towards the end of my flight, but the pull to keep reading was just too strong.

RIP Murphy :(

I got back from Toronto on Sunday but I didn't get much reading done. I read a whole book on the flight over (Girlfriend in a Coma, excellent book, review to come) then I was pretty busy the next couple of days spending time with my friend and doing lots of drinking. On Wednesday however, I got some terrible news that one of my kitty cats was dragging his back legs which as a former veterinary assistant I knew was usually fatal. It's called and Arterial Thromboemoblism.

It was very hard to take as Griffin aka "Murphy" (he made a murphing noise instead of a meow) was the first cat I ever had on my own. He was such a great cat, he was personable to everyone he met and was so easy going that he even let me give him showers to keep him clean. I am very sad that I didn't get to say goodbye, it is very hard when he was totally fine when I left town.

So I was not in the right state of mind to do any reading for the rest of my trip, although I bought a Nick Hornby book right before this all went down so I am sure that will be next in line.

But before I go back to reviews, here is a tribute to Murphy. In the words of my son "There will never be another cat like Murphy".

Friday, October 7, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #37 - Games to Play After Dark

I don't have a lot of time to devote to this review, I am headed off to Toronto bright and early tomorrow morning and I wanted to check this off my to do list before I left. I just finished reading "Games to Play After Dark" and it was a race to even finish reading it.

This is a run of the mill troubled relationship story, I seem to read a lot of them. It was well written and speaking as a divorced woman with a child, it is quite true to life. We have Kate and her husband Colin who have two daughters. The relationship trouble seems to stem from boredom and a stay at home mother who feels that her husband feels that simply because he "works" he does not have to do much else when he is at home, including parenting.

It was a passable read, nothing too exciting but enjoyable enough. Gotta run and finish packing! I will be back in a week and a half. I packed lots of books so hopefully I will have lots to review when I return.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #36 - Rose Madder

Whenever I read a Stephen King book I always remember how much I love them and I seek out another one. Pretty soon I am going to run out of books of his to read, but I guess then I can just reread my favorites.

Rose Madder is a tale about an abused woman who one day has just had enough and decides just to walk out and never go back. Rose starts out afraid of her own shadow, and rightfully so as she has suffered numerous horrors at the hand of her police detective husband Norman.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #35 - His Robot Girlfriend

2 Reviews in one day, I am just motoring through!

I downloaded "His Robot Girlfriend" by Wesley Allison because it was free on iBooks. I have been reading it off and on when I had absolutely nothing else to do. I have to say that I understand why it was free, it was pretty terrible.

It is set in the future, about 20 or so years from now. Our protagonist, Mike decides to buy himself a Daffodil, a robot girlfriend. She comes into his life, helps him to improve it and although she is a robot, to him he falls in love and sees her as his girlfriend.

Alli's CBR-III Review #34 - Sweet Valley Confidential

Growing up I read a lot of the "Sweet Valley" books by Francine Pascal so I was pretty excited to see "Sweet Valley Confidential" a new book to accompany the series. It is said to be set ten years later, but the time frame is suspect, as the original books were from the 80s. In any case, it follows twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield in their late 20s.

As we catch up with the twins, they have had an extreme falling out as Jessica stole Todd Willkins from her. Todd was her longtime boyfriend. The details of how this all happened are laid out in the book using flashbacks.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #33 - Wild Abandon

Last night I finished reading "Wild Abandon" by Joe Dunthorne. It promised to be a tale about a commune in England at the time of the end of the world. The tag line on the cover was "The last day on earth is coming, bring your own booze".

I was pretty disappointed in this book, I found it pretty uneventful and I just rushed through the second half just to be done with it. I am pretty fascinated with apocalyptic tales and sadly in this case it was more metaphorical end of the world and that just didn't do it for me.

If it had just been sold to me as a tale of life in a commune, a coming of age tale of two siblings and the adults in the community, then I may have been less disappointed. The writing was decent, but the pace was rather slow, and there wasn't really much plot to speak of. All in all, I am sure that I will forget all about it in a couple weeks.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #32 - Dead Reckoning

I was planning to wait to read this book since that way the wait for the next edition wouldn't seem as long. However, I was visiting the new Surrey library and they had a copy just sitting there on the shelf waiting for me, how could I resist? I devoured this book up in just over an afternoon, these books are such a guilty pleasure for me. If only all books were this quick to read I would have a way higher number on my count by now.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #31 - Under The Dome

OK I’ll admit it, I have an addictive personality. I have been lucky that it has (mostly) affected me in fairly innocent ways, like my Sims addiction or my chocolate addiction. Another addiction I have had for a while is my Stephen King addiction. My latest fix was “Under the Dome”. Yesterday with around 100 pages to go I left the monstrosity on my desk at work, and I almost started crying. I stayed awake late nights reading it, I dreamt about it, I loved it.

I know it is fairly chiché to be into Stephen King and I really don’t care. There is just something about Mr King and his writing that just speaks to me. I may have said that before and I will probably say it again. “Under the Dome” reminded me in some ways of my favorite King book (and possibly all time favorite book) “The Stand”. For those not aware or who cannot guess by the title, “Under the Dome” is about a small town in Maine (of course) that becomes cut off from the outside world when a mysterious and invisible barrier pops up. For a lack of a better term it is called a dome, but it fits precisely around the borders of the town so it is not really a dome as many might think of one.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #30 - Bossypants

So so so so funny. That is all I have to say about Tina Fey's book "Bossypants". Ok fine I will elaborate. I had to wait quite a long time to get this book from the library but it was definitely worth the wait. I read it up in just over a day and laughed like a crazy person. My boyfriend even picked it up and started reading it after reading the back cover.

So basically this book is a collection of tales from Tina Fey's life. I wouldn't go as far as to call it an autobiography although it is pretty close. The timeline jumps around a bit and it is not a complete tale of her history, although it comes pretty close. There are also sarcastic helpful hints and replies to "fan mail". She addresses the challenges of being a women boss and a women in comedy and the lack of respect that they receive. Near the beginning she mentions being asked how she manages to be the boss of all of these people and she states that Donald Trump would never be asked those types of questions and it is pretty apt.

I have never understood the theory that women are not funny. We can be very funny and Tina Fey is living proof of that. Make sure that you take the time to read this book, you won't regret it!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #29 - The Perfect Age

I finished reading "The Perfect Age" by Heather Skyler a week or so ago but I haven't gotten around to writing it up yet. Things have been hectic, and I also don't have a heck of a lot to say about it. I read it in the pool, as seen above, and for a summer read it wasn't too bad, but it wasn't that great either.

One thing that bugs me a bit is that this book takes place over three summers so the title is kind of a misnomer. I guess what it might be trying to say is that any age is the perfect age to fall in love, but that is not really what the book is about. It centers around teenager Helen and her Mother Kathy. It also tells parts of the story from the point of view of Helen's boyfriend and Helen's father.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #28 - Dead in the Family

I am pretty excited that my laptop is fixed, my Dad is a wizard sometimes, but there have been times that even he cannot make things come back to life. This now means that I don't have to write my reviews on my breaks at work, so I can put a bit more attention into them. The thing is though, at home I might be under the influence of something or other so it is a crap shoot on whether or not the quality will actually be any better if I am writing here at home.

I finished reading "Dead in the Family" this morning, I was a bit sad because I thought I had 20 pages left and so I found the ending to be abrupt. There is a preview of the next book in the series in those remaining 20 pages, but I have a few library books that I have to read before I can move on to "Dead Reckoning" anyhow. The good news is that I have nothing but time to read since my son is away with his Dad this weekend, and the weather is beautiful and I am ready for some more time in the sun. One thing that might distract me from my reading is that my boyfriend and I just started watching "Breaking Bad" and we just picked up season 2 on DVD today. But the sunshine is calling my name so I will be able to get some reading in today for sure. The problem is choosing which book I want to read!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #27 - Dead and Gone

As you may have noticed from the pictures, I did some reading at the beach recently. I was happy to have been able to do a bunch of reading on my trip to the Okanagan. Although I did end up getting sand in the dust jacket, but that is how it goes on the beach.

So I am now getting deep into the Sookie Stackhouse novels (or as they are technically called “The Southern Vampire Mysteries”). I have waivered back and forth on my opinion of these books versus my opinion of the TV show. It is pretty difficult to separate the two in your mind, I am finding it sometimes hard as well to remember what happened in each book as they all seem to blend in to one in my head. I am already well into the next edition and I thought that I might just lump them in together as one review. But that is cheating a bit, I am going to try and come up with something different to say about each one. I am on the second to last book that is available in the series, although I hope that there will be more to come in the future.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #26 - I'm Sorry You Feel That Way

I just finished reading “I'm Sorry You Feel That Way: The Astonishing but True Story of a Daughter, Sister, Slut, Wife, Mother, and Friend to Man and Dog” by Diana Joseph. It came highly recommended on the book cover and jacket so I thought I would check it out. It is a collection of essays or vignettes about different people and experiences in her life.

Even though I don’t generally enjoy short stories, I did enjoy this collection. Diana has a voice that I related to quite easily. Starting off with a tale about her father, I immediately “got it” and her tales about her teen aged son prepared me for what may be to come once my 10 year old hits that barrier. She tells of her ex husband, friends and colleagues. I didn’t notice until I peeked at her blog that all the tales are about the men in her life.

I appreciated the window into her world, the last tale (about her common law husband Al) to be the most moving. I see now on her blog that she has another little boy. I hope that all is going well for her and I would be glad to read more of her work in the future.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #25 - From Dead to Worse

Alright so I have now finished book 8 in the Southern Vampire Mystery series by Charlaine Harris. My last review has all the links to the reviews that I have written for the other books in the series if you are interested. All Together Dead was trying my patience with these books, and as youthfulzombie pointed out in the comments of that review, the TV series is better than the books. That is mostly true, overall I believe that the show is better, but there are certain parts that I prefer in the books, mostly parts of dialogue and certain story lines in the show (hotshot for one) that are so much different on the show and not necessarily better.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Farewell to Beer

This post is on my other blog You've Gotta Have Goals so I am being a promo whore and posting it here as well.

Something scary has been happening to me lately. I have seen the scale creeping back up there and I think I know why. Let's be brutally honest, I know exactly why. I am not blaming one thing for everything but it is a lot of little things that have come together to make my success fall away.

I have had a couple falls, I had one in May off my bike, then I have fallen a couple times this past week on my rollerblades. I haven't been going to the gym because my hip has been hurting, but it is mostly an excuse and I am making myself accountable for it now. I can still go and work out, even if it is not at the level I was doing before, I can still make the effort. I need to be doing my weight training most of all and also I need my cardio. Also when I work out I am more likely to make good choices when eating.

My other nemesis has been BEER. I have become addicted to Granville Island Raspberry Ale. It is so good!!! Me and beer have had a long term relationship but it has never been this good. I have had beers here and there, mostly in the summer time but there is something about raspberry beer that just speaks to me. The local brew pub gave me my first taste.

Read the rest here

Monday, July 25, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #24 - Girls in White Dresses

I was at the grocery store the other day and a magazine caught my eye, it had these home made ice cream sandwiches on the cover which made me drool but which I currently can't eat since I have been veering too far away from my healthy plan lately and the iron fist has come down. I looked at the magazine a bit further and noticed that it came with a free book. There were also some interesting articles so I bought it.

The book itself was "Girls in White Dresses" by Jennifer Close. After I finished reading it I realized that it was only selected stories from the actual book, but I am counting it because it was over 150 pages and I am really not itching to read more.

This book is a collection of short stories, I am generally not a fan of those because I find as soon as I "get to know" the characters involved and get invested in their story then the story is over and we have to start over again with new people. Unless the stories are a bit longer (for example Stephen King has written story collections that I have enjoyed) or if the writer is extremely talented, then I tend to lose interest.

"Girls in White Dresses" was no exception, although I think that Close tried to counter my opinions about getting invested in characters by having them resurface in different stories. This was a good effort, but I still found the stories to be superficial and lacking in depth. It was an okay enough book to read out in the sunshine on a Sunday afternoon, but had it not been free I would surely be regretting purchasing it.

Alli's CBR-III Review #23 - High Fidelity

“High Fidelity” is the third book that I have read by Nick Hornby and it will not be the last. As mentioned in my reviews for “Juliet Naked” and “About a Boy”, I find his writing style comfortable and easily read. His characters are relatable and although not obviously likeable, I find them to be so.

“High Fidelity” was the author’s first novel, and a rather good one in my opinion. I have seen the movie quite a few times as well and was impressed in how the book held up to my memory of the movie. Wikipedia also tells me that it was a musical in 2006, that would have been disasterrific to see. As in the movie, the book centers around Rob Fleming who owns a fairly unsuccessful London record store. As the book opens, his girlfriend Laura has just left him and he proceeds to tell us his top five heartbreaks and how Laura should have gotten to him sooner if she really wanted to make the list.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #22 - About a Boy

Yet another book that has been made into a movie, but I love movies (or I used to, but most seem crappy lately) so it is only natural that I would read these kinds of books. Another reason I chose "About a Boy" is because I really enjoyed "Juliet Naked" so I requested both this book and "High Fidelity". This one came in first but "High Fidelity" is next on my reading list most likely.

Through most of "About a Boy" I was struck at how similar it is to the movie. I haven't even seen the movie in quite some time, but it all rang very familiar. Will is a loner by choice, he's never had to work and takes pride in having no relationships to hold him down. Marcus is a loner by circumstance and lacks the tools to survive as a young person in society. Through Will's trying to seduce single mothers, the two meet and are able to help themselves through their shortcomings.

The book had a much stronger ending than the film. I also appreciated the era that the book was set in and the references to Nirvana. It was published in the late 90s and is set in the early 90s and rings true to my adolescence. Marcus meets a friend who wears a sweatshirt with a man who looks like Jesus on it, and that turns out to be Kurt Cobain. I thought it was a nice touch.

I would most surely recommend reading this book, it is very sweet and funny and I very much enjoyed it.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #21 - Election

First let me say that I did enjoy Tom Perrotta's "Election" however, this is the first case in quite a while where I have found the movie to be superior to the book. Perhaps it is because I am a big fan of the movie, but to me the book almost seemed like a draft version of the movie. The bare bones were there, but the movie took things a step further.

For anyone not familiar with the story, Election follows a campaign for a high school presidency. Right from the start we are told that it does not end well for Mr M, the teacher in charge of the election. We are told the story from the point of view of the candidates, Mr M himself as well as one of the campaign managers.

I was not satisfied with the motivation for Mr M in the novel. In the film version we are made to understand quite well why he does not want Tracey Flick to win, but in the book there is not a lot to go on. Also the character of Flick that I have come to know and love, is so much different in the book. Gone is the brown nosing over achiever that had a secret affair.

It is hard to say how I would feel had I not seen and loved the movie so much. But that is the way I see it and I can't change that. I am looking forward to a re watch of the movie, my boyfriend has never seen it so he is in for a treat!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #20 - Little Children

After reading Clementine Bojangles' review I immediately requested the book from my local library and devoured it in no time at all. I then got right onto Netflix and watched the movie, which was an interesting experience.

Little Children by Tom Perotta follows the lives of suburban parents, mainly Todd and Sarah but also their partners and other associates. There is also Ronnie, a "pervert" recently out of jail for flashing a girl scout but also suspected in the disappearance of another child.

To me this book is seems to be about is the choices that we make and the repercussions that come from them. Sarah made a choice to marry an older man, most likely for the security but then finds herself unsatisfied with her marriage and the other vacuous and vacant mothers on the playground. She then meets Todd, dubbed "Prom King" by the other Moms. Todd himself is a stay at home Dad, unable or unwilling to pass the bar exam. Together they take refuge from their real lives and create a situation for themselves to make things seem better.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #19 - Some Girls

I feel like I am doing a lot better this year with getting books read and reviewed, but apparently I am a few books behind on my pace from last year so I had better get on it!

Some girls by Jillian Lauren is her memoir, focusing mainly on her time as a member of the harem of Prince Jefri of Brunai. Lauren pulls no punches in telling of her beginnings as a peep show worker, stripper, call girl and eventually harem girl. Lauren to me was a relatable narrator, which sounds odd since I have not been any of the items on her list. I started off the book wondering how I would relate to a person like Lauren, but something about the way she writes put me on her side. It also doesn’t hurt that she is unapologetic for her choices, they are what they are.

Lauren takes us with her on her mysterious trip to Brunai, not many details are revealed to these girls that are brought over to “entertain” at parties for the prince and his friends. Lauren was asked to surrender her passport to them, which even she admits seems like a bad idea. I anticipated the worst for her, but seeing as she made it back to write the book, she was obviously okay.

The book is not gratuitous in nature, it seems like the biggest pain that Lauren suffered was boredom and lack of attention. It must be difficult to be a beautiful woman in a room full of beautiful women with few men to dote on them. At least they were paid well to be there, but Lauren wanted more, she wanted to make the prince fall in love with her, she wants the fairy tale ending. We all know how that usually works out.

Parts of this book were very interesting, and as mentioned above, I found Lauren’s writing style appealing and I may seek out other works of hers in the future.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #18 - Juliet Naked

I read this book simply because I have enjoyed the movies were based on Nick Hornby books. I am glad that I took the chance since I most definetly enjoyed “Juliet Naked”. This book follows a couple, Annie and Duncan, who have been together for 15 years but who have really just settled with each other for matters of convenience. At the start of the book they are on a pilgrimage to sights related to reclusive singer songwriter Tucker Crowe. Duncan is obsessed with the singer and spends a lot of his time on a website devoted to analyzing minute details about Crowe. Annie is along for the ride, although she doesn’t share Duncan’s obsessions she has put up with them so long that Crowe has become a fixture in her life as well.

This book follows the couple, and later even Crow himself as we cover themes of complacency, obsession and loss and waste of years and time. Can relationships that have been neglected for years and years ever be repaired? Are we really unhappier now then people were in the past, or have we been brought up expecting too much happiness to ever be satisfied?

There is not a whole lot to say about the plot without spoiling too much, but Hornby’s writing style was very comfortable to sink into and the pages just flew by. I was sad that it ended as fast as it did, even though it was 400 pages. I will be checking out more of his works in the future.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #17 - All Together Dead

I just finished book 7 of the Southern Vampire Mystery series by Charlaine Harris. Here are my other reviews from this series: Definitely DeadDead to the World, Dead as a Doornail and Living Dead in Dallas.

There is not really a heck of a lot else to say about these books. There may be spoilers if you haven't read the previous books. Sookie is still a telepath and working for the vampires. This time she has headed out to a vampire summit at a fancy pyramid hotel. She reunites with fellow telepath Barry, they are both working for different vampire royalty to listen in on human minds.

Of course there are murders, and a mystery to be solved. For me it's all about the sexual tension between Sookie and Eric. It must be because of this. Sookie is currently dating the weretiger Quinn, which I guess is pretty good too. Quinn didn't factor much into this book, his company was arranging a lot of the summit so he was always otherwise occupied.

I am already starting on book 8 but I just got a bunch of holds in from the library so I might have to leave this for a while (I bought a few of these books since I got a gift card at Christmas). But I'm hooked and I will see this series through to the end. Plus season 4 of True Blood Starts June 26!!

Alli's CBR-III Review #16 - Breaking out of Bedlam

Breaking out of Bedlam by Leslie Larson was a good quality fluff read. It was really what I needed after taking so long to finish my last book. This book is told from the point of view of Cora, an 82 year old woman who is taken out of her home by her children due to her being incapable of looking after herself. Cora is overweight, depressed, on prescription drugs and her home has become a bit like something that you would see on A&E.

It sounds depressing, but Larson maintains a light tone and the assisted living place that she goes into could be related to a high school or boarding school. I have often thought that this would be the case in places like these as there will always be cliques and bitches and all that, no matter what your age.

Cora feels betrayed by her family, and we are made to relate to her struggle to adjust to her new environment. Soon after her arrival, she meets a man and that gives her the motivation to improve her situation and her health. All is not perfect however, things are getting stolen all over the place and Cora is one of those who is under suspicion. To pass the time, and to extract her revenge upon her children, Cora writes a tell all journal with all her secrets. The novel goes back and forth in flashbacks in this journal and to her current situation.

Overall, this book didn’t change my life, but it was entertaining enough and I would recommend reading it. Cora's tale is relateable. I work in an industry where I have to deal with the elderly quite a bit, this book helped me to relate to my clients more. It must be very difficult to have to leave your home at that age and start all over in a scary new place.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #15 - Ender's Game

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card came highly recommended by a friend at work, so I gave it a go. I don't normally read science fiction because it has always been something that my brother was really into and we are like oil and vinegar so I always stayed away but I generally enjoyed this book.

Ender's Game is set in "the future" although since it was published in 1985 (and parts of it are from a short story published in 1977) in all reality it could have been intended to be set in our present day. Certain aspects of the book certainly are actually eerily accurate to the way things are now. The characters in the book have "desks" that seem to be like iPads, and there is discussion of "the nets" and discussions on them that are a more intelligent version of the internet.

As for the plot, we start out the book from the point of view of Andrew "Ender" Wiggin. He is a third child in a society that has a limit of two children per family. The Wiggins got an exception for Ender since his older brother tested very well to the international fleet, but he was too vicious to qualify for battle school. The fleet is looking for someone to train to command their fleet for the third invasion of the buggers. We follow Ender through battle school, then onto command school. In these schools, they are trained using a variety of games, hence the title. He is tested, pushed and isolated, but ultimately still succeeds.

Parts of the book focus on the other two Wiggin children and their life after Ender goes up to school. Peter is the aforementioned vicious brother, and there is also a sister named Valentine. Ender and Valentine have a close relationship and it helps him survive throughout the book.

Although on it's surface it is a science fiction book, it is really about relationships, manipulation and the mistakes and perils of war. I would recommend checking it out.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #14 - Wasted

I have been so bad, I have barely read anything in the past month and a bit. I did finish the book I am about to review a few weeks ago but I didn't get around to writing about it until now.

After I read Unbearable Lightness, Youthfulzombie recommended reading "Wasted" by Marya Hornbacher as a more accurate memoir of someone with an eating disorder. I bought the iBooks version and read it over a couple of days. I could relate to quite a bit of it. I have eating issues that are now mostly resolved, but I am currently on a calorie counting plan and it is sometimes hard to know the difference between being dedicated to my health and being obsessive.

Wasted in some ways offers little hope to eating disordered people. Hornbacher doesn't sugar coat her realities, and it is appreciated. That was one of my main issues with Unbearable Lightness, De Rosi spent 95% of the book detailing her obsessions and 5% saying how magically one day she was all better. Hornbacher also details her processes and the ins and outs of her disorder, but she is clear that there is no magic solution. She also spent the time and did her research, and so it feels that her information is coming from a more authoritative place.

I also appreciated the fact that Hornbacher mentions that pretty much all women suffer from eating disorders. Although not all women have anorexia or bulimia, the majority have an unhealthy images or are constantly dieting. I have a skewed view of this, as I spend a lot of my time on a diet community online. I also read something similar in the book In Defense of Food where it indicated there is a new disorder called "Orthorexia" which is an obsession with eating healthy.

It seems no matter what you do, if you are predisposed to eating disorders then you will find one that fits you. Some of us are just not wired to be able to eat normally. Then again, what is normal? All we can hope for is a balance, to be able to not be self destructive and to try and enjoy all that life has to offer.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #13 - Room

I am trying to wrap my head around "Room" By Emma Donoghue. The book was excellent in a lot of ways, but there were a few things that left me lacking. It is hard to say what those things are without giving too much of the plot away.
The premise of the book is our narrator Jack lives in "Room". Jack and Ma are there together. The first section of the book describes where they live and the routines that they go through in their days. He is a 5 year old and so he has limited understanding of certain things, but thankfully for the reader, he does have a decent vocabulary since Ma spends a lot of time teaching him things.

The reason that they are in this room is that Ma was kidnapped some years ago and she gave birth to Jack in the room which is a converted garden shed. There are parts of the book that are upsetting, but Donoghue manages to maintain a level tone.

I was on the edge of my seat during some parts of this book and the pages just flew by. It is something I recommend reading just for the experience. It has left an impression on me that's for sure.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #12 - One Day

Wow. . . I just finished reading "One Day" by David Nicholls and I am frankly just floored. I have been reading this one for the past few days and really loving it, but the ending, wow.

I don't even know what to say about this book. It is the story of two best friends, Dexter and Emma, Dex and Em, Em and Dex. The book gives us a glimpse into their lives on July 15th of each year from 1988 when they meet on the eve of their college graduation, through to the year 2007. They struggle along as we all do, sometimes handling things better than others. Dexter is reckless and parties too hard at times, Emma is perhaps too straight laced, and lacks momentum in certain areas. But most of us can relate to both of those things, or at least I can.

This book was like a comfy pair of jammie pants, I fell in love with the characters and I couldn't wait to read what happened to them next. Nicholls took the concept of telling a story in the unconventional method of one day per year and really made it work. There is really nothing I can write to do it justice. I am perhaps being hokey but that is where it has left me this evening.

I strongly recommend reading this book if you have not yet already, if only so we can talk about it together.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #11 - Hector and the Search for Happiness

"Hector and the Search for Happiness" by Francois Lelord is a parable about a psychiatrist who becomes disillusioned after seeing many people in his practice who are unhappy for no apparent reason. He then travels around the world searching for the secret to finding happiness.

Not to appear ignorant but I had to google parable. I suppose that this book falls under that category. It read like a bit like a fairy tale or a children's book. Hector seems at times simple, yet Lelord tells us that he is very smart since he is a psychiatrist.

The book was enjoyable enough, cute but a bit pointless. I think that I was expecting more out of it, maybe to become inspired or at least feel more emotion from the stories within the story. Hector just travels from country to country, makes a list of what comprises happiness, then comes to the end of his journey without learning much that most of us wouldn’t already know.

Perhaps that is the point and I am missing it? Perhaps I am jaded and can’t appreciate this book for what it is? I am not sure. Either way it only took me a day to read it, and sometimes that is good enough.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #10 - Into The Wild

After finishing Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer I immediately dug into Into the Wild. I have seen the movie and I was moved by the tragic story of Chris McCandless. The book was quite superior to the movie, as is often the case. Krakauer’s book is thorough, and also fills out the story with tales of similar tales lived out by other ill fated travellers and his own close call in Alaska.

For anyone not familiar with the tale of Chris McCandless, he was a complicated soul, a wanderer with strong ideals and a lust for the outdoors. He decided to head out to Alaska and live off the land, and ultimately perished and his body was discovered by hunters. His life during his time as a vagabond is related from those he encountered, he seldom failed to leave an impression on those he encountered on his travels.

His time in the Alaskan country had to be reconstructed from brief journal entries, mostly discussing his diet. A lot is left to speculation, which only heightens the intrigue of the tale. Who among us has not taken a risk, and so McCandless’ serves as both a cautionary tale and as an insight into the part of our self that would like to just burn all our money and go live in the wilderness. Or is that just me?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #9 - Into Thin Air

I read "Into Thin Air" by Jon Krakauer on the recommendation of a coworker. I had just finished reading "In the Path of an Avalanche" and while I enjoyed it I wasn't really looking forward to reading another another snowy disaster tale. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself engrossed into this book. Krakaurer's style allowed me to easily imagine myself among the climbers on the ill-fated 1996 Everest expedition.

One of my pet peeves with mountaineering tales lies in that they simply relay the drama and difficulty of the ascent and downplay or ignore the challenges that lie in the descent. This book relays both, but the tragedy strikes during the descent and many lives are lost.

Krakauer was sent to Everest as part of a paid expedition team to report on the growing number of companies taking people up the mountain for a profit and the pros and cons of such practices. I never gave much thought to the reality of this, the environmental damage, and the pressure on the owners of these companies to get their clients to the top, even at every one's risk.

Towards the end, the book relays that one group actually admitted that they walked right past a group that was close to death since they didn't want to jeopardize their summit attempt. I can see both sides to that argument, however I would think that being able to tell the tale of saving lives might be better than living with the guilt of letting someone die that you could have helped rescue.

All in all, "Into Thin Air" was an excellent read, that gave me many things to think about after reading. I am already reading another of Krakauer's works and I look forward to reading more in the future.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #8 - In Defense of Food

I have never really read a lot of non-fiction books, but I have to say I am becoming quite fond of them. They are not as much fun to read necessarily, but I do enjoy learning and so I think I shall continue on this path. I went to the library last night and found that I had 5 books in that I had requested (one that I had requested only 20 mins before I left to go to the library).

The latest non-fiction that I read was “In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan is about nutrition science, government food policy and ends with suggestions on how one should eat. The manifesto is simple “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”. It may have been a bit too simple, as the majority of the book focuses on the science, and the failures and misinformation of the past, and not enough on hope for the future. I suppose that people do need to be frightened into change, I am about halfway where I want to be as far as clean and healthy eating so it was a bit of preaching to the choir for me.

I am not going to say that I never eat crap, because that would be a total lie, but I am well aware that I should not be eating those things, and of how bad they are for me. I am making a large effort to eat less processed foods and more fresh foods. Being a vegetarian also helps a lot to avoid certain unwanted chemicals and hormones in my diet.

I did find it interesting how unreliable nutrition science is, as well as how food lobbyists can manipulate the FDA into making claims about their products. Frito-Lay is getting a claim encouraging people to eat chips because the fat they are fried in can be interpreted as good for you. Before fat was vilified as causing multiple heart problems, but people simply replaced the fat with sugar and we are worse off than ever.

Although some parts are a bit dry to read, I would recommend reading this to anyone who is concerned about the current state of food in this world that we live in. We all really do need to take the focus away from quantity and back onto quality. We need to learn to appreciate the food that is on our plates, to savour it and get back to having mealtimes be a time for social activity. This is something I would also need to work on, with a busy schedule I tend to think of mealtimes and the preparation of those meals as something to get through as fast as I can. I need to put the joy back into cooking the meals, and sharing them with my family as well.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #7 - Girl Interrupted

I recently rewatched the movie “Girl Interrupted” on Netfix and noticed that it was based on a book so I decided to read it and I am very glad that I did. The movie is pretty good but personally I found the book by Susanna Kaysen to be superior. Her memoir reads a bit like a diary, and the story is told partly in a non linear fashion with vignettes telling of different people that she met in hospital and experiences that she had there.

For anyone who is not aware, “Girl Interrupted” is about a young woman who enters a mental hospital in the late 1960’s after a suicide attempt. Susanna was 18 at the time of her admission and spent almost two years at McLean hospital. One of the more interesting aspects of the book was the aspect of seixsm that was involved with certain diagnoses at that time, promiscuity for example was one of the symptoms of Susanna’s condition of borderline personality disorder. A lot of the reasons that women were considered to be abnormal were realting to a lack of desire to get married and have babies like they were supposed to at the time.

As I was reading the book, as often is the case when comparing a film version to a book version, little changes that were made really irked me. For example, the character of Lisa as played by Angelina Jolie with that awful fake blonde hair, was a brunette in real life. And the nurse played by Whoopi Goldberg was a white woman with a long blonde braid that she wore in a braid and the patients would beg her to take the braid out and let her hair loose, although she never would. Also I loved the ending of the book so much more, it was more defined and more realistic. And there was a bit of a surprise ending for Lisa as well that I hope worked out for the best for all concerned.

It was a nice fast paced read, and I recommend reading it.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #6 - Never Let Me Go

I haven’t yet had the experience with many books the way I get with certain movies where a lot of friends have reccomended them and then I feel quite let down once I see them. I try to shy away from reviews or plot summaries of books that I want to read as I would rather be surprised by plots and so forth. “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro is a book about coming of age, friendships, love and also something a bit more.

The “plot twist” to me was not that interesting the way it was presented. I think that more could have been revealed or discussed to make it more interesting but to me the book felt a bit pointless. The book centers mainly around 3 friends: Kathy, Ruth and Tommy. They live in a “mysterious” boarding school called Halisham. There is a bit of a love triangle, and rivalry in other ways between the two girls. There is also a lot of talk about the students being “special” and whatnot.

I am not going to say much else about it. The writing is pretty good, but the whole book to me felt a bit sedated and slow. I am glad to be done with it.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #5 - Player One

Player One is a novel by Douglas Coupland, it was written for a CBC lecture series and was broadcast on the radio as well as through podcasts. It is split up into 5 one hour segments. We follow four main characters and a couple side characters through a global crisis as it unfolds.

My favorite book is “The Stand” and in some ways this book reminded me of that one, but overall it was a bit disappointing. Coupland is quite a famous Canadian author, and this is the first book of his that I have read. I think that perhaps trying to fit it into the time frame of the lecture series may have been responsible for the shortcomings that I perceived.

I think that Coupland set a good scene, created interesting characters to fill it in. One of the main characters suffers from a plethora of medical conditions on the autism/OCD spectrum, which was quite interesting. I think that had Coupland had more time to flesh out the characters and plot the book would have been much stronger.

The ending felt tacked on and too simplistic for the crisis that the book centers around. I would rather not say what that crisis is for fear of giving away too much of the plot. But I will just say that something like that would not have a happy ending.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #4 - Unbearable Lightness

I don't know how to begin my review for Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi. I don't know how personal to get with my experience reading this book. I don't even know how to describe it, it is not a biography, not a novel, it is an unabashed confession of a person with an eating disorder, a person like me.

Portia, like so many of us, struggled with body image and issues of self worth her whole life. Growing up in Australia she never felt quite pretty enough, quite good enough. When competing she felt that she had to be first or why not even try, even winning with a close margin was not good enough.

When she got the part on Ally McBeal she never felt that she deserved it. The adjustment to being a "celebrity" proved too much for her, and being gay and not quite coming to terms with it didn't help matters at all. Portia relates how this all factored into her eating disorder becoming life threatening.

The majority of the book focuses on the details of her disorder, which is relatable to those of us who have been there. I found that she seems so happy now, and seems to have found a way to be healthy and just to listen to her body and not binge, starve or exercise obsessively. I wish that she spent more of the book focusing on the recovery side of things, as that is the hardest part about having an eating disorder. Food can never be avoided, we can just hope to find the reason to be healthy and the love for ourselves to know that we do matter.

Alli's CBR-III Review #3 - In the Path of an Avalanche

My boyfriend highly recommended this book to me, and I was not disappointed. He has a lifelong background in skiing, while I am just starting to learn. I think that I have more than my fair share of anxiety about the sport without reading about avalanches, but after reading this book I feel more aware and secure about risk versus reward on the whole matter. Vivian Bowers wrote “In the Path of an Avalanche” based on a true tale of tragedy that happened in my province of British Columbia.

In January 1998 six adventurous skiers headed out by helicopter to a remote cabin to enjoy a week of fun in the cold. They considered themselves fortunate as the only way to book that particular cabin was through a lottery system. Unluckily for them, the weather conditions were poor and avalanches were likely. For reasons unknown, the normally fairly cautious group set out and did not return.

The book is extremely thorough, at parts a bit dry due to the amount of scientific type data. I was very interested to learn how avalanches are created, and even the little details about how helicopters work and the logistics of heliskiing. I became quite invested in the story and the portraits that Bowers wrote about the ill fated skiers. Even knowing the outcome from the get go, I found myself tearing up when the inevitable came near the end of the book.

After the avalanche occurs, the last quarter of the book focuses on the search and rescue and recovery efforts. To me though, it seems like a lot of risk was taken, even after the outcome of the skiers was already known. But there was great pressure from the media to get the skiers home, alive or not. This tragedy occurred in a very small town, so the intrusion of the media was not exactly welcomed and they wanted to show themselves in a positive light.

I expected to come out of this book more afraid of back country skiing, but it had the opposite effect. Reading about the safety precautions to take, and the benefits that outweigh the fear inside. After all, I could get hit by a bus on my way home from work. If I am meant to die doing something that I love, then so be it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #2 - Unsweetined

I have a few trashy biographies on my book list for this year and Jodi Sweetin's unfortunately titled "Unsweetined" was the first on my list. It was a quick pleasant read, even with the darker times in her life, Sweetin (and her writer Jon Warech) keep the tone light and the pace fast.

Sweetin has been in the spotlight since a very young age. She has encountered a lot of addiction in her short time on this earth and recounts it all in a fair amount of detail. There is no real reason for her problems, other than an attempt to explain them as genetic. I can't say that I blame her for living the way that she has, imagine being rich and successful and having it all end at 13 years of age. Then, having never learned to make friends, taking them in any way that you can get them, even if they are just using you for your drugs and partying.

The most shocking part is that she toured colleges promoting her sobriety while still being deep in her addiction. It makes me really wonder if she is being honest about her recovery this time. One hopes that for her daughter's sake that she has it all figured out.

Addiction and recovery are a life long process and I wish Sweetin the best in her recovery efforts.

Alli's CBR-III Review #1 - Definitely Dead

Ok so here we go again. I start off a new year with a new count. This year I hope to make my goal of 52 books. I am still working on the Sookie Stackhouse novels and I finished this one on January 1st but I haven't had time to get on here and bang off a review.

Since I have read several of these books, there is really not a heck of a lot else to say about them. Charlaine Harris has created a world full of supernatural creatures that live among us mere mortals. The main character is Sookie Stackhouse, a telepath who may be more than she seems as well. She has ingrained herself into the world of vampires and other "supes" and seems to encounter danger at every turn, and all the better for us to read about.

In this particular book, Sookie has a new boyfriend, and has travelled to New Orleans to clean out the apartment of a deceased relative. And guess what happens, she encounters danger. I don't want to say much more since it is a series and I don't want to spoil the plot.

These books have fast become a guilty pleasure of mine and I have 2 more on my shelf that I picked up from a Chapters gift card given to me by my work for Christmas. I am already halfway through the next novel but I have put it aside for now as a bunch of my library holds came in and I have to dig my way through all of them. I have 4 books at home and 2 more just came in! But they are all books that I am excited to read so I am pretty happy about having too many books on the go at once.