Sunday, 22 June 2014

Elizabeth the Queen

Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of A Modern Monarch

By: Sally Bedell Smith
Published: January 10th, 2012
Publisher: Random House
Source: Bought
Rating: 4 out of 5 


From the moment of her ascension to the throne in 1952 at the age of twenty-five, Queen Elizabeth II has been the object of unparalleled scrutiny. But through the fog of glamour and gossip, how well do we really know the world’s most famous monarch? Drawing on numerous interviews and never-before-revealed documents, acclaimed biographer Sally Bedell Smith pulls back the curtain to show in intimate detail the public and private lives of Queen Elizabeth II, who has led her country and Commonwealth through the wars and upheavals of the last sixty years with unparalleled composure, intelligence, and grace.

My Thoughts

I have always been fascinated by the Queen and the royal family. When William and Kate got married I had just arrived home from an overnight flight from Cuba and then I made popcorn and watched their wedding (it was 4 am).

I enjoyed the biographical parts of the books- things like what age she met Phillip and what age she became a mother or the Queen. It was pretty interesting to me because I knew a lot about her but not so much of the specifics. I can't imagine trying to raise young children and run a country and the Commonwealth! 

But I didn't like how America-centric it was. The Queen would take a thirteen day trip to Canada, and stay in Chicago for a day but the entire Chicago trip would be laid on by what she did every hour. But there was no mention of what she did on her Canadian trips. Almost all the American presidents were mentioned but only one Canadian one was. 

Given that the Queen considers Canada to be her home and that it was the second country in the Commonwealth (behind the UK), it would have been nice to see more of that aspect. 

At times it was also fairly gossipy and tabloidy. I get that the Queen and her family have had their fair share of drama but I think that the author portrayed certain aspects as too dramatic, and tried to skew the images of certain people in one direction. 

So the stories and characterization should be taken with a grain of salt- but the facts and timeline are done nicely!

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Tuesday, 17 June 2014

TTT- Summer TBR

Top Ten Tuesday: Summer TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at The Broke & The Bookish. Each week they host a different top ten topic. 

I have a huge pile to read this summer but I have narrowed it down to the books I want to read (or re-read) that I physically own (paper or ebook- so just not counting review books)

1. Throne of Glass

2. Darkest Minds

3. Everneath

4. Avalon

5. These Broken Stars

6. Vimy (reread)

7. The Promise of Amazing

8. Game of Throne series

9. Harry Potter (reread)

My first Harry Potter book has the odd brown-bearded wizard!

10.  Tale of Two Cities

And I am also hoping to get a bit further in Les Miserables but there is no guarantee that will happen!

Monday, 16 June 2014

Dog Gone, Back Soon

Dog Gone, Back Soon

By: Nick Trout
Publisher: Hachette Books
Source: Netgalley | Thanks to Hachette Books! |
Rating: 3.5 out of 5


When Dr. Cyrus Mills returned home after inheriting his estranged father's veterinary practice, The Bedside Manor for Sick Animals, the last thing he wanted was to stay in Eden Falls, Vermont, a moment longer than absolutely necessary. However, the previously reclusive veterinarian pathologist quickly found that he actually enjoyed treating animals and getting to know the eccentric residents of the tiny provincial town-especially an alluring waitress named Amy.  (more on Goodreads)

My Thoughts

This was a nice quick read that was pretty fun to read. I have loved animals since I was a tiny, little girl and so it was fun to find a book that focused on a vet and his animal practice. I definitely would have enjoyed more though. More in depth discovery and exploration of characters, motives etc. But in terms of short, lighter read I thought that it was well done.

The storyline was pretty simple and not all that unpredictable (besides from the vet diagnoses- I couldn't guess those!). At times it felt pretty disjointed- like I was missing a page or two from the story. This is also the second book by the author about the main character Cyrus Mills so perhaps if I had read the other one first it would have made more sense to me.  I really loved that it was set in a small town because as someone who grew up in a small community it was nice to see. That part of the story was definitely very well written!

The characters were fairly shallow in my opinion. They had the makings of being great, deep and complex characters but I think Trout didn't take it quite far enough. Cyrus in particular would have been fascinating to have been explored more. Trout wrote him fairly well but I just kept finding myself wanting more!

This book was a nice light read but didn't grab me as well as I thought it could have. I would recommend it to animal lovers, people looking for lighter short reads or are interested in books with a small town dynamic.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Book to Film: TFIOS

The Fault In Our Stars Movie

As most people probably know by now John Green's critically acclaimed novel The Fault in Our Stars, which tells the story of two teenagers with cancer, has been made into a movie. So many readers (both young and old) have fallen in love with Augustus Waters and Hazel Grace Lancaster. You might even say that they "fell in love the way you fall asleep, slowly at first and then all at once".

I was lucky enough to get to go to the movie the weekend it come out. I was even luckier to go with my best friend of 14 years! :)

The Book

My thoughts on the book can be found in the this review. For some more specific thoughts on my feelings about Augustus and Isaac's friendship go here.

The Movie

Some quick movie specs: The movie is approximately 125 minutes long and had a 12 million dollar budget (which is apparently relatively low?!?).

I really enjoyed this movie. I was a huge fan of the book and was pretty worried about how it might turn out because the past few book to movie adaptations to recieve a lot of hype have been very disappointing to me as a book reader. I was aware that John Green was very proud of the movie and that he thought it was very true to the book so I was hoping that this would be true. And it was. 

At first when I heard the casting news I was sort of feeling unsure about it.  I'd seen Shailene Woodley in The Descendants and Divergent and while I enjoyed both performances I couldn't really she her as Hazel. I'd only seen Ansel in Divergent and I didn't particularly like his character and I couldn't see past the whole brother-sister in Divergent and then love interests in TFIOS

But Shailene was stunning. As I watched the movie she wasn't an actress playing a character, she WAS Hazel. And that was beautiful!
And Ansel became Augustus Waters and I can't imagine anyone else but them as Hazel and Gus. SO kudos to the casting directors because they made this movie happen in my mind!

I loved the how they portrayed the story, how there were moments of Hazel talking in her head and how well that was portrayed, how it was easy to see what Augustus and Hazel were texting. I thought the music was okay (half the time I couldn't understand the lyrics but...)

The thing that frustrated me about this movie was the amount of publicity it got. By the time I watched the movie I felt like I had seen the majority of the beginning and most of the important/iconic scenes from the beginning. It got to a point where I just stopped watching the new 'exclusives' because I wanted the movie to be a suprise. (Yes I knew the storyline already but I wanted to see it acted outside my head for the first time all at once, instead of the little snippets). And I feel like there was also sooo much hype about crying at the movie that it actually kept my tears in check? I mean, I cried but not as much as I thought I would. 

This is what I imagined I'd be:

But I was more this
But I still really, really enjoyed it!

Have you seen the movie? Any thoughts that were similar/different from mine? Leave them in the comments!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Peeking at the Shelves

Taking A Look at Numbers

In the book community there is a lot of talk about women authors, and women YA authors in particular. In media however it is the male authors that are represented as being ground-breaking and creating their own genre (refering to the made up genre of "Green" after John Green which he himself disagrees with)

So for fun I thought I would take a look at my bookshelves and do a little analysis on them. I'm going to split it up into two posts- my favourites bookshelf and then my other bookshelf (I like the ones on that shelf too). It should be noted that my Favourites Bookshelf is smaller so it doesn't contain all my favourite books. Its mostly organized that way because then my mom can easily find the books I recommend to others!

This post will be all about my Favourites Bookshelf

The first thing I decided to look at was the gender distribution of the authors on this self. And the results where no surprise to me.

Of the thirty on my shelf 5 were male- making up 17%
and 25 were female- making up the remaining 83%.
Of the 128 books on the shelf- 112 were written by women and 16 were written by men. 
Men authors are: John Green, Scott Westerfeld, JRR Tolkien, Jay Asher and Garth Nix.
Women authors are: Louisa May Alcott, Rae Carson, Cassandra Clare, Suzanne Collins, Gail Carson Levine, Marie Lu, Lucy Maude Montgomery, Diana Peterfreund, Tamora Pierce, Veronica Rossi, Veronica Roth, JK Rowling, Kathryn Stockett, Elizabeth Wein, Jodi Meadows, Kat Zhang, Kiersten White, Harper Lee, Marissa Meyer, Kelley Armstrong, , Sarah J Maas, Miriam Foster, Brodi Ashton, Alex Bracken and Jane Austen

Of the 128 books I would consider 12 to be non YA but some of them fit into multiple categories but they ALL have teenage or young adult characters in them. 

Another thing I decided to look at was the most owned author which was the author(s) that I have multiple books of. Here were the results:
All four of the authors with the biggest number of books are women. I own ever Tamora Pierce book (5 quartets, 2 trilogies and others), all the Harry Potter books by Rowling (including the Hogwarts textbooks), all the Shadowhunter books by Cassie Clare and all the Anne of Green Gables books by LM Montgomery. (I actually have quite a few of her books but some of them are on my other shelf. If I had to guess I'd say that I have about 10 more)

Just for contrast I decided to look at the male authors on this shelf. It goes as followed:
The male authors on my shelf have significantly fewer books. One of the John Green books is co-authored, I have the four Tolkien LOTR books, The Abhorsen Chronicles by Garth Nix (and I think I have another book of his on another shelf), the Leviathon series by Westerfeld (I have Uglies on another self) and just one book by the fifth male author. 

Interesting given that the media makes it seem like male author are THE BE ALL END ALL of YA. And I'm not saying that they aren't good and even great authors. I'm saying that there are amazing women authors who get ignored because well, they are female. 

So I'm going to continue loving my female YA authors and recommending them far and wide, because we need some good female representation. (I'll still read man books though) Plus all my favourite authors are women and they write the kind of books that I just HAVE to share with everyone. 


Monday, 9 June 2014

We Are The Goldens

We Are The Goldens

By: Dana Reinhardt
Published: May 27th, 2014
Publisher: Random House Children's 
Source: Netgalley
My Rating: 3 out of 5


Nell knows a secret about her perfect, beautiful sister Layla. If she tells, it could blow their world apart.

When Nell and Layla were little, Nell used to call them Nellayla. Because to Nell, there was no difference between where she started and her adored big sister ended. They're a unit; divorce made them rely on each other early on, so when one pulls away, what is the other to do? But now, Nell's a freshman in high school and Layla is changing, secretive. And then Nell discovers why. Layla is involved with one of their teachers. And even though Nell tries to support Layla, to understand that she's happy and in love, Nell struggles with her true feelings: it's wrong, and she must do something about it

My Thoughts

I requested a copy of this book on Netgalley and was given the chance to review this book. This in no way affected my opinion of the novel.

We Are The Goldens is one of the only books that I have read that is written in second person. I actually thought it was pulled off pretty well because it made it seem like the book was Nell talking to or writing a letter to her sister. In this respect I thought that it was a good move by the author to use second person- it was a big risk that paid off!

The book is pretty short and because of this, most of the story line and hard topics aren't delved into very deeply. I definitely would have liked to see more exploration of the relationship between the characters, especially Nell and Felix. I feel like their friendship went way deeper than the book made it seem and I would have enjoyed more of it.

Its pretty obvious from the beginning what Layla's secret is but I felt like it never really developed from their. It stayed stagnant and didn't seem to be as grave as it should have been. So I would have liked to see more done their. But for a book that is so short, I guess not everything could be explored deeply!

So overall I thought it was an okay book. I probably wouldn't read it again unless I was looking for a very short, quick read.