Friday, December 23, 2011


This book is not part of the angel movement we saw  few years ago. Far from the cute cherubs,  this book is based on the reference in Genesis 6

When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them,the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years. The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

Canielle Trussoni's book on angels is based on the Nephilim and how they as a race have been manipulating humanity. The Watchers sent to earth to watch God's perfect creation, man and how they fell out of grace. These are not your cute angels, these are the rebel angels, the fallen angels, the angels that walk the earth.

The book takes place in 1999 starting on December 23rd and ending on Christmas Day.  An appropriate read for December.

The book starts off promising and certainly in the vein of The Da Vinci Code and other great adventure books based on religious quests.  The middle section of this book was the best part, I found the beginning ok and the ending section to be sloppy writing.  It's as if Ms. Trussoni lost interest in her characters and the premise of this book.  As if a secret society of angelologists would choose license plates with Angel 1 for their vehicles when we know they are being watched by the Nephilim!! I thought the love story between Evangeline and Verlaine was juvenile. The novel takes place in 1999 but never mentions the internet and people never use cell phones yet both existed.  Also Verlaine is an art history graduate and doesn't know some basic art history knowledge. 

There was potential here for a fabulous well written novel but it just fell flat at the end.   The characters were well developed at the beginning and Ms. Trussoni should have just left well enough alone rather than trying to impose a love interest between the two main characters.  This could have been such a great read and certainly I had high hopes, fell flat at the end and was only a so-so novel. As this was a New York Times bestseller I guess I expected better.  I'm not saying don't read this book, just be aware that the ending isn't all that great.

Hoping the movie will be an improvement on this story.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Not Scarlet O'Hara

A bit of catching up to do on the blog posting.  I've read three books that I have been meaning to blog about. Here is the second...

This novel is about the Civil War and Mary Sutter, a woman who wishes to be a surgeon. The time period is the American Civil War and Robin Oliveira doesn't skimp on the details either.  I loved the characters in this book and the heartwrenching sacrifices the men and women had to endure during one of America's bloodiest battles.  Mary isn't Scarlet O'Hara, although she has much the same spunk, she's got far more compassion and grit.  The men who fall in love with Mary Sutter do so not because of her beauty but for her character, her determination and her passion for medicine.  Mary's character has to endure so much to finally arrive where she wished to be in life. I don't want to write a huge long review of this book because I really think it needs to be read slowly and enjoyed, plus I don't want to give too much away of the story line.

A slow read but that was due to having to slow down to take it in. A riveting story!

PS: Dear friends you cannot borrow this one from me.  It was given to me to read and pass along and I've already passed it to another reader to enjoy.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

This book is the story of Marina Singh and her journey to the Amazon for the pharmaceutical company she works for, Vogel, to find her former mentor and discover what happened to her colleague Anders. What Marina discovers is beyond what she imagined and her time in the Amazon does leave her in a State of Wonder.  

Here we have the big pharmaceutical company concerned only about profits, doctors and reseachers wanting to do further work and thus hide their intentions from the company and one woman coming to terms with her past and moving forward.  The characters are well developed, complex and interesting people.  I will say the book took a bit of time to "take off" but once I was into the middle I understood the reasons for laying down all the details in the beginning. 
There are unanswered questions at the end of this book, but I rather liked that Ann Patchett didn't write a nice compact ending.  

This is the first book I've read by Ann Patchett and I would like to read some of her other ones. This wasn't a quick read and you really need to be in the mood for a book that makes you think and leaves you wondering. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Trilogy Of Light, Darkness and Shawdows

book review

Imagine a world where one group of people live during the hours of the evening and another group live during the day.  This is the world of the Darkborn and Lightborn who have been cursed for 800 years to live as such. The Darkborn cannot go into light or they will burn to ash.   The Lightborn cannot go into darkness or they will find their life force draining away.  Here begins the adventures of Balthasar, his wife Telmaine and their friends Ismael and Floria White Hand.  I found the characters to be most intriguing, these are the type of people you'd want to meet.  I found the relationship between Balthasar and Floria White Hand interesting and this progresses in the final book, Shadowborn.  While reading Darkborn one must remember this is a trilogy and more is to come in the other two books. Lightborn tells us more about the other side, reveals more about Floria White Hand and her life at court.  Shadowborn, the final book brings all the characters together and introduces the Shadowborn characters to us, why the curse has lasted so long and how the three groups will now live side by side.

I enjoyed the women in these books too.  Telmaine with her court manners and society rules, Floria White Hand, Telamaine's husband's first love and the Lightborn neighbour Balthasar grew up with and finally the two Shadowborn women at the heart of the curse that has lasted so long.  I even enjoyed the twins, Laurel and Lavendar, tough Border women who fight for their family home. Great characters in these books which makes reading this fantasy trilogy so much fun!

Now that all three have been released, I suggest one purchase all three and read them back to back to get the full story.

I will say, as I just recently read Shadowborn, I wish there was more.  I know writing a trilogy must be daunting, keeping all the characters in place and knowing what will come next.  Still I'm hoping that maybe there will be more, especially regarding the children and what happens to them.  Possibly Ms. Sinclair is keeping those plots for another trilogy.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

When you don't like the characters....but...

Set in a small Wisconsin farming and manufacturing town still crumbling a decade after the depression of the 1890s, this is the story of Ralph Truitt, a wealthy businessman who advertises for “a reliable wife” in newspapers across America. The woman he chooses, Catherine Land, describes herself as “a simple, honest woman,” but in truth she is both complex and devious. Her plan in accepting the marriage offer is simple: she will win this man’s devotion, and then, over time, will poison him and leave Wisconsin a wealthy widow. What she has not counted on, though, is the passion she finds in this seemingly solid, forthright man—a man who also harbours secrets...

That is the description of A Reliable Wife which was given to me as a Christmas present.  I was intrigued by the description above and the story inside its cover.  It lived up to its description, with twists and turns until the very end.  What I found interesting reading this book is I didn't like any of the characters, they had no redeeming qualities and unlike other books I've read,  were not people I'd ever wish to meet.  Maybe that is why I kept reading to the very end, I wanted Ralph and Catherine to prove me wrong, to make me like them.  This book is an excellent read, even if one doesn't like the characters, it is a study in human nature and to what lengths people go to get what they want.  

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bitter and Sweet

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford is the story of Henry and Keiko, their friendship and innocent love during World War II.  But this book is more than that, it is the story of a young Chinese American with his parents wishing him to be American while wanting him to follow Chinese traditions.  It is the story of Seattle's Chinatown and Japantown (Nihonmachi) and the differences between the two, as well as the internment of Seattle's Japanese citizens.  It is about forbidden love and friendship between two young Americans from different Asian backgrounds.  All wound around the Seattle jazz scene.  This book truly is about bitter and sweet, the joys and sorrows of life, the things we do for love and family as we come of age especially during a time of great tragedy.  I though Henry's character was charming, both as a 12 year old boy and a 50 something man.

The book takes place in 1942 and 1986.  I did find some rather inaccurate depictions in the 1986 chapters, especially referring to use of the internet and digital recordings/CDs. Otherwise this first book is a really pleasurable read.

The hotel in the book actually exists and does have on display the belongings of 37 Japanese families. After reading this book I'd like to go to the Panama Hotel to see the display and have tea in the hotel's tearoom.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Retold Fairy Tales

I like retold fairy tales, Gregory Maguire has done a brilliant job of Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister and Mirror Mirror.  Of course, Gregory Maguire's best loved series is Wicked and the other three novels that follow its grand success. 

Recently I was introduced to Jim C. Hines and his series of retold fairy tales.  The first was The Stepsister Scheme introducing Danielle Whiteshore (aka Danielle de Glas or Cinderella) and her not so happily ever after life.  We meet a wonderful cast of characters and plunge into a chic-lit romp which includes Danielle's two stepsisters, their ultimate fate, her prince and his family, along with fairies, goblins, witches and Danielle's two new friends, Talia and Snow.  This really is what I call a light read, not fluffy but a good bit of fun. 

Book Two is The Mermaid's Madness, a retelling of the old story of the little mermaid who saved the life of a prince and fell in love. So deep was her love that she gave up all she knew to become human to be with her prince. This isn't your Disney version, nor is it the original story with a happy ever after ending.  This is murder, madness and magic gone wrong.  Our three princesses have to step up and kick ass, which they do in plenty of style.  Danielle and her friends Talia and Snow (White) are the ones who can tell you the real story of what happened to the little mermaid and her prince all while trying to set their world right again.  

I just finished Book Three, Red Hood's Revenge, the little Red Riding Hood story retold. Roudette is an assassin known world wide as the Lady of the Red Hood and we learn the "real" story of Little Red Riding Hood. This book explains the conflict between humans and fairies, and the woman who is at the heart of the conflict, Sleeping Beauty (aka Talia).  Our three friends from the two earlier books band together again to protect each other and fight to the death.  Another great book filled with strong powerful heroines who know how to kick butt. 

These books have been compared to..."as if the Brothers Grimm had been allowed to watch a 'Charlie's Angels' marathon." - Green Man Review.  However, I think it is more the Brothers Grimm with a touch of Kill Bill.

I was given a few days ago, as I was nearing the end of Red Hood's Revenge, the fourth book, The Snow Queen's to follow at a later date.  

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Introducing Flavia de Luce

Alan Bradley introduces the reader to eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce in the first book, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.  I'll be honest, I picked up the book many times in several book stores only to put it aside.  I just wasn't sure if I really wanted to read it. Then on another cruise through Victoria's wonderful book stores someone mentioned it was a good read.  So I purchased it, and then after reading it waited for the second one to come out in paperback and now wait with bated breath for the third adventure.  

Flavia de Luce is charming, witty and oh so wickedly funny!  Bishop's Lacey the English town she lives in joins Agatha Christie's St. Mary Mead as a place you'd like to visit.  Mysteries being solved by an eleven-year-old girl wise beyond her years is a pleasurable read.  Set in 1950s England, we have the country police officers, a cast of villagers, Flavia's absent-minded father, her two older sisters, the butler-handyman who is her friend and the well-meaning housekeeper-cook. 

The second book is The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag (great book titles) and Flavia returns with the same cast of characters we met in The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.  I enjoyed the second book as much as the first, if not more. Both books are a delight to read!  Flavia de Luce has more spunk than Miss Marble and could hold her own with Hercule Poirot.

Two great reads for the summer.

I'm look forward to A Red Herring without Mustard and have heard book #4 is to be released in November 2011, with two more books to follow.  If Alan Bradley only writes six Flavia de Luce murder mysteries I will just have to be content with that, even if I hope he would do a few more.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A book in two parts

I was first introduced to Connie Willis with the gift of her book Passage, soon followed by Doomsday Book, Bellwether, Uncharted Territory, To Say Nothing of the Dog, Lincoln's Dreams, Impossible Things, Remake, Fire Watch and Miracle and Other Christmas Stories. Not surprising all have been enjoyable from this six Nebula Awards and ten Hugo award winning author.

The newest book is Blackout which I received for my birthday. The story is well researched.  From 2060 the reader is taken back into World War II during the Blitz in London, as well as side events such as the evacuation of London children to the countryside and the rescue of troops from Dunkirk. All the characters from 2060 are historians studying the second World World who can travel back in time to actually witness events. The question is, can a historian be a mere observer or is one able to change events? Connie Willis undertakes that question in Blackout, presenting what seem like little problems to the characters but might actually create chaos. 

I really like Connie Willis's writing, especially this book as I never felt I was reading science fiction but rather a interesting story about World War II and what people had to endure. From stories I've heard from family who lived during World War II I really felt this book conveyed the spirit of the British people.  This is storytelling at its best.  

Don't expect Blackout to be the end, there is more, All Clear is the sequel and continuing story.  I'm waiting to see the sequel under the Christmas tree.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

If you only had One Day

It's 1988, Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew have only just met.  After one day together they cannot stop thinking about each other.  Over the course of 20 years, each July 15th, the first day they met, Emma and Dexter have their lives reviewed, until we discover the true meaning behind this one day.

This book has been made into a major motion picture starting Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess. I hope the major motion picture doesn't ruin this book as so often happens.  This book is such a great read, full of British humour and if you like Nick Hornby (High Fidelity, About a Boy, Juliet Naked) then you will really like One Day.

I don't think this is chic-lit either.  Considering there are two characters in the book, we get a picture of both. Plus Nick Hornby even recommends One Day....

"A big, absorbing, smart, fantastically readable on-off love story that sprawls over a couple of decades. One Day’ therefore the perfect beach read for people who are normally repelled by the very idea of beach reads." - Nick Hornby, from his blog.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Mathilda Savitch

This is the second debut books I've read in the last few months.  The first being The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (nonfiction 2010).  Victor Lodato's debut novel Mathilda Savitch was a 2009 release and I'm a bit behind.  I must admit some readers may not like Mathilda, she is rather bratty but there's a sad reason for it, and when one is only 13/14 well we've all been a handful at that age.  I personally liked her. I thought she was a fierce and funny character with a loving heart under her bad behaviour.

If you've ever been 13/14, if you ever pushed your parents boundaries, if you ever had an older sister, had one truly madly deeply close friend, you have to read this book. I read it in a little over a week, not just on the bus but read it during my lunch hour too.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

I must thank Rebecca Skloot for taking on this project and her determination to publish Henrietta Lacks's story. I wish to thank Henrietta Lacks as well and I hope this book will be read by billions of readers so that they too know Henreitta Lacks and her incredible story. This book shocked me.  I was speechless and I was deeply moved.  I think Rebecca Skloot delivers this story in an extremely respectful manner and had to deal with extremely personal issues.  This book will open your eyes to the medical profession, to medical revolutions, and a multimillion-dollar industry. This book will takes the reader into the thorny issue of scientific ethics, it will reveal crippling poverty, racism and will break your heart.

This is Rebecca Skoot's first book, and the praise for this book is well deserved.

Winner of the 2010 Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Nonfiction
New York Times Notable Book
O, The Oprah Magazine Best Book of the Year
Entertainment Weekly Best Book of the Year
Discover magazine 2010 Must-Read
Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year
Times (U.K.) Best Book of the Year
and the list goes on and on...

This is one of the most moving non-fiction books I've read, I couldn't put it down.  Further high praise of this book can be found at

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Heather's Picks

Chapters/Cole's/Smithbooks staff picks are a good place to start if you have a problem with finding something to read.  I don't, have a problem finding books to read that is, not that I don't have problems, I do. I have noted though that I often read books that are Heather's Pick.  I don't know Heather, I do know she does pick some good books. This time I choose her pick of The Shadow of the Wind.

This novel is about a writer, one Julian Carax, whose novel The Shadow of the Wind touches young Daniel who sets out on a quest to find the author's other works only to discover someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has ever written. Thus we the reader enter into a novel of intrigue, mystery, sinister times and secrets, deep deep secrets.  All is revealed in the end (page 480), and then there is the little Dramatis Personae bringing the reader to the finale on page 487, full circle.

This book is not only about a writer, but about a time in Spain's history, just after the war. The novel begins in 1945 and ends in 1966. The time period makes this novel more sinister and mysterious, as it is a time when men wore suits and fedoras, clothing that lends itself to mystery and secrets.

I think the only way I can fully review this book is to provide Stephen King's review..."If you thought the true gothic novel died with the nineteenth century, this will change your mind. [The Shadow of the Wind] is the real deal, a novel full of cheesy splendor and creaking trapdoors, a novel where even the subplots have subplots....This is one gorgeous read." -Stephen King

In the edition of The Shadow of the Wind I have there is a walking tour for the reader to walk in the footsteps of the Shadow of the Wind. If anyone is travelling to Barcelona I would highly recommend reading this book before you go and then to follow the walking tour in the book.  And even if you aren't travelling to Barcelona and want a book that is full of twists and turns, take this one along on the bus, to the beach,  to the cottage or curl up on a rainy Westcoast winter's night and read to your heart's content.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A few months back...

I have a 45 minute bus ride to and from work if I take the #26 and a longer ride if I take the #11.  Both rides allow me a lot of time to either listen to music, which I find hard to do as I often start singing.  I can do without embarrassing moments in my life without actually setting myself up for them. My partner being passionate about books and sharing this love with me ultimately gives me books for birthdays, Christmas and in lieu of flowers.  Also, because of reading so much lately, it was suggested by my friend Paula that I start another blog and review what I have been reading. Thus the birth of this blog began, of course it needed a title, I asked John who immediately came up with Books on the Bus (like Snakes on a Plane) and then I wondered where to begin. I could start at the beginning of the year, I've decided to hold off on the two books I read in January and April to lump them altogether as they are part of a series.  Instead I will start off with the book that took most of March 2011 to read.

Shantaram ~ Gregory David Roberts

Gregory David Roberts was born in Melbourne, Australia and was sentenced for 19 years in prison for a serious of armed robberies, he escaped and spent 10 of his fugitive years in Bombay.  Although this novel is not autobiographically the character Mr. Lindsay (Lin or Linbaba) has a similar life path of the author's.  This is a big novel - 933 pages that will take the reader on a journey through life in India, mostly in Bombay/Mumbai and introduce a cast of characters the you will come to love and hate.  It took me almost a month to read this book, not because of the amount of pages, but because I stopped often to mark pages to Google to find photos of an area or to just stop because a chapter or paragraph was so intense.  I laughed, I cried and I wanted to meet the people in the book. Yes, I even wanted to see Mumbai for myself.

 I even read the Acknowledgements section of Shantaram, in fact I read all 936 pages of this beautifully written novel. It was in the Acknowledgements section that I learnt Shantram as a novel had rather troubled beginnings.  It took thirteen long years to write! The first draft, six years and 600 pages were destroyed in prison.

I could write a very long review of this book.  I'd rather not, trust me though, although this book is almost 1000 pages it is worth reading.