Mar 31, 2012

How We Decide

How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer

Reading Imagine: How Creativity Works made me really want to read this book. So when amazon put the kindle version on sale for 99 cents, how could I say no?

After reading the first chapter, I realised this is basically the same book, but on a different topic.  It has the same tone as Imagine, the same style. The same way if presenting several types of information and bringing it back full circle, wrapping everything up in a nice little package.

That isn't to say that if you've read one, don't bother to read the other. They are two pretty different subjects. There's some overlap, but as a whole there was a ton of new information in this book. As well, I found How We Decide to be more scientific and less anecdotal than How Creativity Works.

I enjoyed this book just slightly less than the other. I don't know if it was the subject matter or the extra science, but over all I just liked Imagine better. I'm glad I read it though. I learned a lot about the human brain, neurology, psychology, autism and how air planes work. I don't know if it will help me make better decisions or not, but it can't hurt right?

On a scale from Totally Awesome to Horrifically Awful, I'd give it an Extremely Excellent. Informative and entertaining - everything a non-fiction book should be.

Mar 30, 2012

Rum and Cola

It's Friday! Time to kick back, and enjoy a tasty and refreshing drink.

Mar 27, 2012

How To Get Free Books: GoodReads First Read

I've gotten quite a few free books lately. Seriously, I've got a backlog right now, that's how many free books I've gotten lately. And because I'm feeling generous, I'm going to tell you my secret: GoodReads First Reads

I did win a prize pack from HarperCollins Canada on Facebook, but most of my free books come from GoodReads. I just go, click a few buttons and I'm entered to win. The real beauty of it though, is that when I win, it doesn't require any action from me to receive my books. They just show up in the mail, often unexpectedly. Like, I came home today and there it was, sticking out of my mail box - a copy of Bloodman by Robert Pobi. I didn't know it was coming, but there it was. (I'm not very good at email sometimes. I almost missed out on that five book prize from HarperCollins because they needed me to reply to their e-mail with my address. I would have been so angry with myself! Everything worked out for the best though.) If you win, you are not required to write a review, but you can if you're so inclined.

The other thing about GoodReads - even if they didn't keep sending me free books, it's still a great site if you're a lover of books. It's full of reviews and ratings and will even recommend books you might like based on your ratings. You should go there and check it out.

Music Monday (special second edition): Nowhere With You

Ok, ok. What would Nova Scotia music month be without a little Joel Plaskett?

Mar 26, 2012

Music Monday: People Lie

Welcome to the last Monday of the (self proclaimed) Nova Scotia Music Month. I hope you've enjoyed a peak into some of the incredible music offering from this little corner of the earth.

This is Molly Thomason. She's not a born Nova Scotian, but she moved here when she was 2, so close enough. Also, she's only 16. It was a little mind blowing, since I heard her voice first and read the bio second. Anyway. Yeah.

Mar 22, 2012

So Much Pretty

I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

So Much Pretty by Cara Hoffman

From Amazon:
Set in a rural community steeped in silence and denial, So Much Pretty explores all parents’ greatest fear, that their child will be hurt. But it also examines a second, equally troubling question: What if my child hurts someone else? The disappearance and murder of nineteen-year-old Wendy White is detailed through the eyes of journalist Stacy Flynn and a host of other richly drawn characters, each with their own secrets and convictions. After Wendy’s body is found, Flynn’s intense crusade to expose a killer draws the attention of a precocious local girl, Alice Piper, whose story intertwines with Wendy’s in a spellbinding and unexpected climax.

This book arrived in the mail on my Birthday. How excellent is that?! I knew I'd won a book or two from Good Reads, but I forgot what they were and had no idea when they were coming. So when I tore open the package, it really was like a birthday present!

I didn't mean to read this book as quickly as I did. But I found my self thinking, "ok, just one more chapter..." and then I was done.

I wasn't immediately pulled into the book. It jumped back and forth through time, and was told from so many different perspectives, it was hard to keep track who was who. The mystery kept me reading, however, and it wasn't long before I was totally sucked in.

The way it was written, although at first confusing, was the genius of this book. It made me feel like I was constantly on the edge of figuring it all out. But then I didn't. I had no idea what was coming. Either I'm getting worse at figuring out mystery/thriller stories, or I've just read some really great authors of the genre lately. I prefer to believe the latter.

 Some of the subject matter is horrific, but it's also real. Violence against women, sexual assault and murder. It also based on a real crime -  which I was somehow unaware of until after. I guess when free books show up in the mail I just read them, I don't ask questions (or thoroughly read book covers).

On a scale from Totally Awesome to Horrifically Awful, I'd give it a Pretty Awesome. You should read this if you like thrillers and awesome books.

Mar 20, 2012

A Walk Across the Sun

I recently won a five book prize pack from HarperCollins Canada. This is one of those books.

A Walk Across the Sun by Corban Addison

From Amazon: 
When a tsunami rages through their coastal town in India, 17-year-old Ahalya Ghai and her 15-year-old sister Sita are left orphaned and homeless. With almost everyone they know suddenly erased from the face of the earth, the girls set out for the convent where they attend school. They are abducted almost immediately and sold to a Mumbai brothel owner, beginning a hellish descent into the bowels of the sex trade.
 
Halfway across the world, Washington, D.C., attorney Thomas Clarke faces his own personal and professional crisis-and makes the fateful decision to pursue a pro bono sabbatical working in India for an NGO that prosecutes the subcontinent's human traffickers. There, his conscience awakens as he sees firsthand the horrors of the trade in human flesh, and the corrupt judicial system that fosters it. Learning of the fate of Ahalya and Sita, Clarke makes it his personal mission to rescue them, setting the stage for a riveting showdown with an international network of ruthless criminals.
 
I didn't know how to describe this book in my own words, so you get the blurb from Amazon. Beautifully written, this novel takes you into the all too real horrors of human trafficking.

This is a book people should read. Although the main plot centres around India, it's made clear that human trafficking is happening everywhere, all the time. The story takes us to France, as well as the United States, as well as talks about Russia, Estonia and the Baltics. It's not just a problem off on the other side of the world - It's happening in your backyard. This is the kind of book that starts conversations and puts ideas in people's heads.

On a scale from Totally Awesome to Horrifically Awful, I'd give it an Incredible. Moving, outraging, heart warming and action packed. You should pick it up.

Mar 19, 2012

Music Monday: Ages

Continuing with Nova Scotia Music Month, this is Norma MacDonald.

Mar 15, 2012

The Ides of March

In the Roman lunar calendar, the ides - from the Latin "Idus", literally "half division" and especially related to months - fell on the 15th of long months like March (or Martius). That's today! Welcome to the Ides of March. It was originally meant to mark the full moon, but it didn't really work out that way most of the time.

The Ides of March is best known by most people for the day, in 44 B.C., that Julius Caesar was assassinated, and the famous line from Shakespeare - "Beware the ides of March".

For me though, it only means one thing - It's my Birthday!
Happy 28th Birthday to me!

Mar 14, 2012

Mar 13, 2012

Hanging Hill

I recently won a five book prize pack from HarperCollins Canada. This is one of those books.

Hanging Hill by Mo Hayder  

I didn't know, when I picked this book up, that it was going to be a murder-mystery-crime novel. Apparently I didn't read the back cover very closely. So the basic gist of things is this: Two very different estranged sisters - one newly divorced and penniless, the other a self-confident cop both with terrible secrets are brought back together after the murder of a teenage girl. There are also several sub-plots about drug dealers and the pornography business.  

I love mystery novels, but murder mysteries? They're my favourite. I'm usually pretty good at figuring out where they're going, too. But this book? I had no idea. Just when I thought I knew where it was going, there would be a new twist and we'd be off in the opposite direction. I lost track of how many twists there were. And then there was the ending. Don't worry folks, no spoilers here. I will say this though - the ending was the biggest twist of all. It was a major, major surprise.

I know it's cliché to say that I couldn't put this book down, so I'll just say this: I started this book on Saturday morning, and was finished by Sunday afternoon. You draw your own conclusions from that. On a scale from Totally Awesome to Horrifically Awful, I'd give it a Pretty Awesome. It's a fast-paced page-turner that kept me guessing right to the end. If you like mysteries, you should be reading this book right now. 
 

Mar 12, 2012

Music Monday: Aid the Getaway

Continuing with Nova Scotia Music Month, this is Alert The Medic.

Mar 10, 2012

All That I Am

I recently won a five book prize pack from HarperCollins Canada. This is one of those books.

All That I Am by Anna Funder

"When Hitler came to power I was in the bath." begins the story of four young people who risk everything to stop Hitler on his path to World War II. It's a novel, but it's based on real people and real events. I like that in my novels - a little real history, a little fiction.

The story follows four main characters - Ruth, Ernst Toller, Hans and Dora. It's told from two perspectives - Toller and Ruth's. The book weaves back and forth through time, telling stories of war, politics, activism, fear, love, loss and strength.

I adored the opening line in the book. I have no idea why, exactly. I guess it's that it's this huge moment in history, mixed with every day life. Or something. I don't know. I just liked it. It stuck in my mind, made me stop and pay attention. Grabbed me, you know?

After that...I don't know. It's not that I didn't enjoy the book - in fact, I enjoyed it immensely. It just wasn't at first a book that I couldn't put down. It took me about a hundred pages to really get into it. It's strange - I just finished a book that, at the beginning, I thought I was going to hate but ended up loving, only the start a book that, at the beginning, I thought I was going to love but ended up more or less under whelmed. I guess that's what makes reading such an exciting and strange hobby.

Once I got over the hundred-page-hump, things got better. I was invested in the characters and what happened to them. Even though I knew pretty much where the stories were headed, I wanted to keep reading to find out how we were going to get where we were going.

On a scale from Totally Awesome to Horrifically Awful, I'd give it a good. I would recommend you read this book, just keep going, even if you aren't hooked right from the beginning.

Mar 6, 2012

Running the Rift


I recently won a five book prize pack from HarperCollins Canada. This is one of those books.

Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron

When I first started reading this book, I didn't think I would like it. It starts as the main character, Jean Patrick Nkuba, is a young boy in Rwanda. As it progresses, we follow his life over ten years. From young boy, to gifted track star, to Olympic hopeful. Through his life leading up to the terrible events that occurred in Rwanda in 1994, when he lived in terror and struggled to stay alive.

If you are not up on your world history, that's when over 500,000 people were killed in Rwanda over the course of about 100 days. I'm talking, of course, of the Rwanda Genocide. 

When I first started reading, I felt that it was written in style of a book that I'm supposed to like, because it's important. You know what I mean? Anyway, I was completely wrong. It wasn't long before I was totally engrossed in the story. The style, in fact, perfectly reflects the mind of the narrator. 

This book sparks some major emotions. As I read, I felt a profound sadness and anger, as only hatred and racism can make you feel. At first, as an adult reading a child's thoughts, you can see it in the background. Just out of reach. It only grows as our protagonist does. It's not only that though. There is happiness, family bonding, triumph and first love. There is great loss. It's kind of impossible for me to explain all of the ways this book will tug at your soul. Impossible.

On a scale from Totally Awesome to Horrifically Awful, I'd give it an Incredible. It reads like an important book because it is important. There is a good reason it won the Bellwether Prize for fiction. If you get a chance, read this book. I'm serious.

It took me three days to finish this book. Only because I had to go to work. And to sleep so that I could go to work in the morning. If I could have, I would have read all day and all night, until it was finished. On day three, I wanted nothing more then to get home, so I could finish reading the book. I can't say that I couldn't put it down, but I can say that I didn't want to. 

Mar 5, 2012

Music Monday: Keilani's Song

I've decided that March, my favourite month of the year, is going to be Nova Scotia music month. I'm not sure why I've decided this, I just have and that's that.

I thought, since it's Nova Scotia Music Month, it only make sense to start with a family friend and incredible voiced musician, Amanda LeBlanc.



Mar 2, 2012

Happy Middle Name Pride Day! How About a Drink?

Today is Middle Name Pride Day. Do you love your middle name? I'm betting you don't - most of us are ashamed of our middle names. How silly is that? It's just a name, right? It's something to make us a little more unique. Because there may be a billion John Smiths in the world, but there are far less John Alexander Smiths. And if you have a truly bizarre middle name - you know, the kind that really make your cringe - well then you're even more unique. I used to hate my middle name, but as I've grown older...well, I don't love it, but I'm more indifferent to it.

So, without further adieu, my middle name:

Louise

Since it's Friday, I searched out the perfect cocktail to compliment my middle name pride post: Louise Cocktail

  • 1 oz vodka
  • 1/2 oz peach schnapps
  • 3 oz cranberry juice
  • lemonade
  • Ice
Fill a Collins glass with ice. Add vodka, peach schnapps and cranberry juice. Top with lemonade. Serve with a bendy straw (not optional)

Do you love/hate your middle name? Did you luck out and get a totally bad-ass one? Either way, share your middle name in the comments.