Monday, March 6, 2017

BookTube #1: Mini JG reviews Beware the Kakamora


My daughter has been asking for her own YouTube channel for quite some time.  Unlike me, she loves being in front of a video camera. She turns 5 in only a few weeks and the amount of confidence this kid exudes is inspiring.

I have challenged her to come up with her own theme for her channel. Until she figures it out, she has agreed to "practice" by doing BookTube videos. Enjoy and stay tuned for more!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Blog Tour: Kill The Father by Sandrone Dazieri

Let's Take a Shelfie is the fourth stop on the Simon & Schuster Blog Tour for Sandrone Dazieri's thriller, Kill the Father.


Kill the Father
by Sandrone Dazieri
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
Format: ARC from the publisher
Publishing Date: January 17, 2017
Rating: 



Synopsis: 
In this fascinatingly complex thriller, two people, each shattered by their past, team up to solve a series of
killings and abductions—unspeakable crimes that turn out to be merely the surface of something far 
more sinister.

When a woman is beheaded in a park outside Rome and her six-year-old son goes missing, the police 
unit assigned to the case arrests the woman’s husband and awaits his confession. But the city’s Chief of 
Major Crimes has his doubts and assigns two of Italy’s top analytical minds to the case: Deputy Captain 
Colomba Caselli, a fierce, warrior-like detective still reeling from a horrific mass killing she survived, and 
Dante Torre, a man who spent his childhood trapped inside a concrete silo. Fed through the gloved hand 
of a masked kidnapper who called himself “the Father,” Dante emerged from his ordeal with crippling 
claustrophobia but, also, with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge.

All evidence suggests that the Father is back at work and wants a reunion with Dante. But when Colomba 
and Dante begin unraveling the truth, they find themselves wanted for murder. Now Dante and Colomba 
must travel down a number of dark tunnels, both literal and figurative, as they confront the question that 
may solve it all: what lies beneath the water in a remote Italian quarry? And what might that revelation 
mean for ten children who have recently gone missing?

An instant breakout novel in Italy, Kill the Father boasts a brilliantly layered plot that offers new and more 
haunting revelations at every turn. Not since Thomas Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs has there been as 
intriguing a pairing of hard-charging female detective and “damaged” savant, and not since Jo Nesbo has 
there been a foreign thriller talent as promising.


Review:
First book and first review of 2017 and I sure picked a doozy! 

If you were following along in the last couple months of 2016 you would have noticed a trend, I was 
listening to a ton of audiobooks and reading a bunch of memoirs. Fast forward to the first few weeks of 
January where I was happily lugging around a 500 paged book everywhere I went. The cover, or maybe 
just the title, got its share of second glances on public transit.

Where do I begin....

Kill the Father by Sandrone Dazieri is the first psychological thriller I've read in at least 3-4 months and it's 
got me hooked back into the genre. It's filled with unpredictable plot twists and clues to help 
the reader solve the crimes left in "the Father's" wake. Dazieri has built a setting that is almost too 
real. 

The lead protagonists Dante and Colomba are characters you won't soon forget. They are written with 
such precision. They are so relatable that you can't help but hold your breath for them during 
some of the more intense scenes in the book. I could feel my heart racing and body tensing up during 
some of these moments.

If you pick up Kill the Father, and I recommended that you do, you'll be in for a quite a ride and you won't 
be disappointed. I cannot wait for the second book in the Colomba Caselli series to be translated to 
English. It's either that or I'll have to learn to read Italian.

Have you read Kill the Father? I'd love to hear your thoughts about the book in the comments. if you'd 
like to learn more about what inspired Sandrone Dazieri to become a writer, check out my Q&A post with 
the author here.

You can also check out the fantastic reviews on the blogs that are a part of this tour:


Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of Kill the Father by Sandrone Dazieri from Simon & Schuster for review and participation in this blog tour. All opinions are my own.

Blog Tour and Q&A with Sandrone Dazieri



Q & A with the Author
Let's Take a Shelfie is the fourth stop on the Kill the Father Blog Tour. As part of the tour, I was given the opportunity to participate in a Q&A with the book's author, Sandrone Dazieri.


1.       What inspired you to become a writer?

In 1990, aged twenty-six years old and at the lowest point in my career, I was working for a pittance as a cook in a restaurant where the owner’s dogs defecated in the kitchen. My flat had no heating and I had the start of pneumonia. In the boredom of being bed-ridden I asked friends and neighbours to bring me things to read, leading me to collect a pile of dog-eared paperbacks.
One of the books that surfaced from that pile had the picture of a typewriter on it and the name of an author I was not very familiar with: Stephen King. It was Misery.
As is known, it is the story of the writer Paul Sheldon who, following a car accident, ends up prisoner of a nurse who is in love with his novels: his Number One Fan, as she likes to describe herself. When Annie, the name of his kidnapper, finds out that in his last novel Sheldon “kills” the heroine Misery, she forces him to destroy it and write another in which Misery lives.
I’m not going to disclose the ending, but that novel that I read on a feverish night exposed something I had within but which I could not yet give a name or shape to. I realised I too had some form of Annie inside me and that it was so terrible it had completely crushed me. I wanted to write but I was frightened of doing so because my Annie expected masterpieces and my efforts had never met those expectations. Reading Misery, I realised that I was not alone in that war of words, and a week later I quit my job. It was a long journey before I become a professional writer, but started that day.  

2.       Kill the Father is a very dark and gruesome story, how do you mentally prepare yourself to write about such topics?

Castle, the fictional writer hero of the eponymous tv series, always tells that there is two kind of folks who think about killing people on daily bases: serial killers and crime writers… More seriously, I always write of what I fear. So, I can say that it is the writing that helps me survive my nightmares, not the reverse.

3.       How does it feel to have your work translated to English and made available for a wider audience?

Well, it’s fantastic. I found a magnificent publishing house, Simon&Schuster (Scribner for USA), and a fantastic international team to help me and my job. And I hope to be invited to Canada and meet Wolverine.

If you haven't had a chance to check out my review of Kill the Father, check it out here.

Simon & Schuster will also be hosting a Twitter Chat with Sandrone on Wednesday, February 22 @ 10AM EST. If you've read the book, join in on the conversation and tell us what you loved! If you haven't read the book, follow along to see what all the hype is about. If the responses to my Q&A are any indication of Sandrone Dazieri's personality, we'll definitely be in for a entertaining conversation!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

2016: The Year of the Memoir

As I started to put away a few of my 2016 reads, I realized, that over half of the books I read were non fiction. Of those books, a majority of them were memoirs or collections of essays about the author's life. They were all filled with inspiring words, hilarious stories and some very personal sentiments. Here mini reviews of a few of my recent reads:


Title: Where Am I Now?
Author: Mara Wilson
Publisher: Penguin Books
Format: ARC from the publisher
Publishing Date: September 13, 2016
Rating: 

I have always wondered what happens to child actors/actresses when they grow up. I often click on articles titled "Where are they now?". When I found out that Mara Wilson was writing a book, I knew I just had to read it. I mean, have you read her Twitter account? From her tweets alone you can tell she is a free spirited, confident and outspoken woman. Much like the character she plans in one of her movies, Matilda.

Mara Wilson's book dives deep into the life of a former child actress who, as most of them do, fell out of the "cute" phase and eventually could no longer find work in Hollywood. Her collection of essays is a mash up of stories that at times, can make you laugh uncontrollably and others that make you shed a tear. Mara's book is an easy read that gives you a look into what it's like to grow up as a young child, having all the same problems as most, with the added pressure of being a star. Definitely a recommended book for fans of Mara's movies or those looking for a light read.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of Where Am I Now from Penguin Random House Canada for review purposes. Opinions are my own.



Title: Scrappy Little Nobody
Author/Narrator: Anna Kendrick
Publisher: Touchstone
Format: Audiobook
Publishing Date: November 15, 2016
Rating: 

I was first introduced to Anna Kendrick in the film Up in the Air. When I saw Pitch Perfect, I became a fan. Anna Kendrick's collection of essays is her way of "letting the crazy out". We get a behind the scenes look behind her broadway debut, her experiences on the set of the Twilight films and just how quirky, cool and composed she really is.

For anyone interested in reading this book and hasn't yet purchased it, I highly recommend the Audiobook. I've said this before, but listening to an audiobook that is written and narrated by the author really gives it that extra bit of enjoyment. The changes in their tone and spurts of sarcasm don't stand out as much on paper as they do when it's being read to you. Regardless of the format, fans of Anna Kendrick will definitely enjoy this whimsical series of essays that takes a look into her road to stardom.



Title: Born A Crime
Author: Trevor Noah
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publishing Date: November 15, 2016
Format: ARC from the publisher
Rating: 

I have to admit, other than knowing that Trevor Noah hosts the Daily Show, I didn't know much else about him. My husband is actually the one who told me I HAD to get this book. When Penguin Random House Canada offered to send a review copy I jumped at the chance and I'm SO glad I did.

The book begins with some background on the laws of Apartheid and brings light to the author's title choice. During the years of apartheid, sexual relations between a white man and black woman was illegal, making their children a crime.

Trevor Noah's story is nothing that I've read before. His life journey from being raised by his mother in secret, to overcoming hardships presented by his skin colour was eyeopening. Born A Crime serves two purposes. It's partially a history lesson in what it was like growing up in South Africa during these times and the difficulties it's people endured in the years after apartheid was abolished.

As expected, this book had more than its share of laugh out loud moments. But, what I appreciated most was his openness to share about his upbringing and how it was affected by blatant racism. What I found most inspiring was how he and his mother approached and endured torment from both black and white people. Both of them had learned how to be a chameleon among them.

Hands down one of the best books I've read and one that I woudn't hesitate to pick up and read again.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of Born A Crime from Penguin Random House Canada for review purposes. Opinions are my own.



My next read...
The next memoir I have on my to be read list is The Elephants in My Backyard: A Memoir
by Rajiv Surendra. Rajiv is was born and raised in Toronto. Once an actor with a dream, that was never fulfilled. This memoir is filled with joy, heartache and a desire to overcome the pain.




My past reads...
If you're looking for some other recommendations of memoirs to read, here are a few others that I've reviewed and really enjoyed this year:




Have you read any interesting or inspiring memoirs recently? Leave me your recommendation in the comments below.





Tuesday, November 15, 2016

My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

Title: My Best Friend's Exorcism
Author: Grady Hendrix
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Narrator: Emily Woo Zeller
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Publishing Date: May 17, 2016
Book Rating:
Narrator Rating: 





Synopsis from Downpour :

A heartwarming story of friendship and demonic possession

The year is 1988. High school sophomores Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since the fourth grade. But after an evening of skinny dipping goes disastrously wrong, Gretchen begins to act … different. She’s moody. She’s irritable. And bizarre incidents keep happening whenever she’s nearby.
Abby’s investigation leads her to some startling discoveries—and by the time their story reaches its terrifying conclusion, the fate of Abby and Gretchen will be determined by a single question: Is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil?

Like an unholy hybrid of Beaches and The Exorcist, My Best Friend’s Exorcism blends teen angst, adolescent drama, unspeakable horrors, and a mix of 80s pop songs into a pulse-pounding supernatural thriller.


Review:

My Best Friend's Exorcism takes readers on a nostalgic trip through the 80's where crimped hair, E.T. and Phil Collins were all the rage. The book incorporates high school drama (a lot of high school drama), bits of horror and one hilarious exorcism into one gory (kind of, not really) package.

Most of the characters were well written. Each had their own quirks, but nothing too extreme (exorcism aside). I was able to relate to them which made them believable. The only two which really got to me were Gretchen's parents. They really got under my skin. It was hard to believe that both parents would be THAT blind to their child's condition. As for the story, it flowed well and had its fair number of twists and turns. What would have made this a 5 Star would be for a slight change in the ending, it was a bit too predictable for my liking.

My Best Friend's Exorcism is a great read to get you in the mood for Halloween (yes, I'm 2 weeks late..). For even more fun, I'd recommend downloading the audiobook. Emily Woo Zeller does a fantastic job bringing the characters to life. However, I do think a second narrator, especially during the exorcism, would've added more depth to the scenes and provided some extra scare factor.

My warning for potential readers: after reading My Best Friend's Exorcism, you'll never be able to listen to the Go-Go's We Got the Beat without thinking of demonic possessions. If you're OK with that, then this book is for you!

And if you're still not sold... check out an except of the book courtesy of Quirk Books below

Top Ten Tuesday #11: My favourite Disney Movies



This week's Top Ten Tuesday was a movie freebie. I have always been a huge fan of Disney from their characters to their amusement parks. This week, I wanted to focus on my ten favourite animated Disney movies. Whether it was watching it in the theatre with my parents as a child or watching them with my own kids at home with a bowl of popcorn, these movies are a part of many of my cherished memories.



#10 Inside Out: The newest movie on my list. I really enjoyed this movie. After watching it a few times (this happens when you have kids), it really made me realized how intelligent the writing is and really gives viewers food for thought. It speaks to mental illness and how people handle their emotions. Pretty deep stuff for a kid's movie.

via GIPHY

#9 Up - This movie makes you laugh, it makes you cry and it makes you stop to appreciate what you've got. Even though he wasn't featured much, Doug the dog was my favourite character.

via GIPHY

#8 Pochahontas - I think it's more the soundtrack than the movie, that puts this in my top ten. Regardless, my kids and I still watch it at least a few times a year.

via GIPHY

#7 Lady & The Tramp: This scene right here... you've all tried it! My parents and I used to snuggle in our living room right before Christmas every year to watch this movie. I always secretly hoped they would one day give me a dog after watch it... It never happened. Lucky for me, I convinced my husband to get a dog a couple decades later.

via GIPHY

#6 Toy Story - Who doesn't love Buzz & Woody? These characters are so memorable and incredibly hilarious. I can watch any movie in this series and be totally content.

via GIPHY

#5 Wreck It Ralph - I was born in the 80's and I love video games. This movie was made for me.
#4: Finding Nemo - I love aquariums. I can spend hours in one walking around and taking in all the different kinds of marine life. No surprise that finding Nemo found a way to my heart.

#3: Brave - Merida is my daughter's favourite Princess. She watched this movie everyday for almost 6 months and I did not mind. Merida is a strong character who never plays the damsel in distress. I'm happy that my young one found a role model in her.

#2: Cinderella - This movie reminds me of Sunday mornings with my mom. Every week we would pop this video in to our VHS player and it would play as we my mom did our household chores. 

#1: The Little Mermaid - Maybe it was because Ariel's name so closely resembles my own, or maybe it's because I think I'm part fish, but, the Little Mermaid goes down as my all time favourite Disney movie.


What are your favourite Disney movies? Did any of your cherished movies make my list? Let me know in the comments below.

Top Ten Tuesday is an original bookish meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. For the list of future top ten topics or details on how to participate, click here.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

2016 Penguin Random House Canada Reading Bingo: November Update

It has been a while since I've done one of these updates... 

At the beginning of the year, I decided to participate in Penguin Random House Canada's Reading Bingo challenge. I have to admit, I haven't read as many books this year as I would have liked. But, with the books I have read, I've managed to get through a diverse set of genres and authors. 

So far, I've managed to cross of 17 squares, which is already an improvement over last year's 16.
I'm not quite sure I'll get through many more by the end of the year, but who knows...

Links to my reviews of the books listed are below. 

If you're participating in this or any other Reading Bingo challenge, feel free to leave the link to your post and I'll be happy to check it out!




A Book Written by a Female AuthorThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondō
A Book Set Outside of CanadaThe Widow by Fiona Barton
A Book With a Blue SpineThe Productivity Project by Chris Bailey
A Book Set in CanadaThe Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew
A BestsellerYear of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
A Book With A Female ProtagonistEverything Everything by Nicola Yoon
An Award Winning Novel (Quebec Writers' Federation Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize Winners, 2013)Bone & Bread by Saleema Nawaz
A Book That Takes Place Before You Were Born: The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel
A Book Written by a Person of Colour: The Illegal by Lawrence Hill
A Book With an Illustrated Cover: Birdie by Tracey Lindberg
A Book with a Character Who has a Disability: Mad Miss Mimic by Sarah Henstra
A Book You Find in #WeNeedDiverseBooks: The Hero's Walk by Anita Rao Badami
A Book Based on a True Story: Wenjack by Joseph Boyden
A Graphic Novel or Comic Book: Secret Path by Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire
A Book Recommended by a Family Member: Batman: Earth One By Geoff Johns
A Book in a Genre You've Never Read Before: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
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