May 28, 2013

Moby Dick Readalong: Let's Do This

So my friend and fellow Edmonton Book Blogger, Laura, is hosting a readalong of Moby Dick over the next two months. That's right: Moby Dick. That big whale of a book (pun clearly intended), that most people probably don't have a huge desire to pick up and read in their spare time. Well, unless you're Laura. And I guess me, since it didn't take much convincing for me to join this readalong (even if history reveals I don't have the best track record with keeping up or completing readalongs, *cough* Harry Potter readalong *cough*).  It's no surprise then, that this post should have been up last Monday - as in over a week ago - ha-ha! But Laura assures me this readalong is very casual and we're all here to have fun with this.

I really didn't know much about Moby Dick before going into this. Actually, I know less than I even thought I did. Turns out, the whale in Disney's Pinocchio, IS NOT Moby Dick.

Moby Dick is also really hard to find second-hand. It took numerous visits to several thrift stores, and then a trip to B.C. before I finally found a copy in a second-hand bookstore in Vancouver. But she's pretty, the print isn't too small, and the margins are big enough to write in, so the 12-hour drive was worth it.


Where all the used copies of Moby Dick go to die.

Also, the chapters, for the most part, are nice and short, which is helpful in a big book like this because you feel like you are actually making progress even if you feel like you aren't flying through the pages. This is an accurate description because I have actually started reading Moby Dick, and while I'm already at Chapter 11, goodreads tells me I'm only 9% along. Sigh.

But I will not be discouraged. My only goal for this readalong is to finish it. Oh, and to have fun! And in a few months I will hopefully be able to say that I have in fact read Moby Dick. You know, for when I run out of cooler things to talk about at social gatherings...

May 26, 2013

Saigon Sundays: Road Trippin'

Last weekend, Jim, Saigon and I packed into my car and hit the road to B.C. to visit my little sister, Vanessa. We dropped Saigon off at over-night camp in Aldergrove (his old kennel), where he got to 
play with all sorts of doggy friends. He was one happy and tired pup when he picked him up! And I gotta say, as hesitant as I was to bring Saigon along on a 12-hour road trip (and that was just one way!), he was 
such a good boy in the car.

Quick leg stretch in Edson

hour 11 in the car...

...and 5 minutes later

meeting up with Vanessa before getting dropped off at camp - he was SO happy to see her!

The trip back home...

just passed Hope, B.C. on our way back to Alberta

Saigon spent the majority of the car ride sleeping like this - as close to his people as possible

forever interested in what's going on in the front seat

I know it's a week late, but I hope you all had a wonderful May Long Weekend!

May 23, 2013

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

Congratulations to Lori who won my Happy Birthday to Me Giveaway! And thank you to everyone who entered and for all the birthday wishes! I appreciated each and every one of them. 
Turning 30 ain't so bad after all!

May 17, 2013

NeWest Press Spring Spectacular: Let's Celebrate Local Literary Talent

Edmonton has quite the literary scene - you just have to know where to look for it. Or you just have to have the right friends to tell you about it (thanks to Laura for putting the buzz out about this one!) This is one thing I really love about living in a big city: there is a lot of intellectual and fun things (yes - at the same time even!) to do as an adult that does not include going to a nightclub and will still get you home in time for bed on a weeknight.

Last night, me and 3 other fellow book-bloggers (Laura, Rick and Elizabeth), met up at Roast Coffeehouse + Wine Bar for the NeWest Press Spring Spectacular event which celebrated the release of four of their new books.

Corinna Chong, Marguerite Pigeon, and Rebecca Campbell reading from their books.

I've been to my share of bookish events over the years, and I can honestly say that each one is always a little bit different - which I think adds to the appeal of attending these kinds of events. The casual, more laid back style of last night, in which a packed coffeehouse of book lovers gathered to hear four different authors brave the mic to read from their books, made for a very different experience than I'm used to, but ranks up there with one of my favourites. (But let's be honest - if you add coffee or wine to almost any situation, I'm a pretty happy camper).

So with our drinks in hand and our books anxiously waiting to be signed, we listened to each author read briefly from their book while I mentally added said books to my ever-growing TBR pile. The readings were short (which my fidgety self was thankful for), the MC (Chris Craddock) was funny and cut to the chase, and musician Tyler Butler added that musical ambiance that pairs well with coffee shops and books.

Singing about The North Saskatchewan River

The Books of the Night:
Half-Chinese, half-English teenager Grace (but she’d prefer it if you called her “Gray” instead) is not a perfect little supermom-in-the-making like her older sister Jessica, and would rather become a marine biologist than a mother—although she does understand how to take care of her special-needs kid brother Squid better than anyone else in her family. When her mother Belinda abruptly runs out on her family and flies across the Atlantic in order to study crop circles in the English countryside, Grace is left alone to puzzle out her life, the world, and her unique place within it. {Read a review of Belinda's Rings on Laura's blog here.}

El Salvador, 2005: a group of Canadian human-rights activists are taken hostage by a former revolutionary fighter who demands that a new gold mine stops production. For Danielle Byrd, the situation is all too familiar, as she was there twenty years previously as an embedded journalist with a guerrilla faction during the country's civil war. Now, her daughter Aida must herself travel to the scarred landscape and choose her allies carefully if she wants to see her mother alive once more.

While working to restore an historic theatre in a seedy part of the city, a graduate student named Anthea searches to find her best friend, lost to the rhetoric of an itinerant preacher and street mystic. Almost a century earlier, Liam, a tenth-rate tenor, visits the same theatre while eking out a career on the dying Vaudeville circuits of the day. In both eras, an apocalyptic strain of utopian mysticism threatens their existence: Anthea contends with a nascent New Age movement in the heart of the city while Liam encounters a radical theosophical commune in the deep country along the coast of British Columbia, who appear to be building ... something. {Read a review of The Paradise Engine on Laura's Blog here.}

 Seldom Seen Road is a collection of sharply observed and understated poems about the land and its people, specifically those who have made it grow. Full of wit, insight, and fine bare bones imagery, they make up a book carefully constructed around a striking vision of the Prairies and its slowly disappearing history. Butler illuminates an oft-hidden world of strong women spanning two centuries, focusing perhaps the most powerful sequence of the book, “Lepidopterists”, on them.

May 07, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me Giveaway!

In case you didn't hear the news, it was my birthday yesterday. The BIG 3-0, ack! Turns out, 30 feels the same as 29. For now anyway. And since we only turn 30 once, I thought I would share the love and have a little birthday giveaway on the blog.  I meant to get this post up yesterday, but with the temperatures in the high 20s and all the birthday festivities that went on, the day got away from me.

So what am I giving away? A copy of Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones, one of my favourite pens ever - the 7 year pen - which I carry in my purse with me at all times, and a little notepad to write down - if you're anything like me - quotes, or to mark pages in your book (say no to dog-ears!).  Really, you can use the notepad for whatever you desire!

I was recently looking through my books and I realized that I have two copies of Mister Pip (both brand new, never read). Oops. I haven't actually read this book yet, but I've heard amazing things about it. In 2007 it won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best Book Overall and it was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize (if those kinds of things matter to you).

Thirteen-year-old Matilda lives on a copper-rich tropical island that has been shattered by war, from which the teachers have fled along with everyone else. Only one white man chooses to stay behind, the eccentric Mr. Watts, object of much curiosity and scorn. He sweeps out the ruined schoolhouse and steps in to teach the children when there is no one else, and his only lessons consist of reading from his battered copy of Great Expectations, a book by his friend Mr. Dickens. First the children, and the entire village, are riveted by the adventures of a young orphan named Pip, their imaginations aflame with dreams of Dickens's London and the larger world. But in a ravaged place where even children are forced to live by their wits and daily survival is the only objective, imagination-- it turns out-- is a dangerous thing.

The rules are simple. All you have to do is wish me a happy birthday in the comments section. Just kidding. Any comment will do. I will randomly select a winner in two weeks.

If you want to tweet or share this giveaway on Facebook, then leave me another comment telling me you did so and that will count as an extra entry. 

This giveaway is International and will close on May 21, 2013 at  9pm Mountain Time. If you've already read this book or don't want to read this book, then win it for someone else! Books make great gifts after all. 

Good luck and thank you to all my followers, commenters and admirers! I appreciate each and every one of you.

May 05, 2013

Saigon Sundays: When an Ordinary Stick Just Won't Do

The snow is finally gone and this gorgeous weekend has convinced us that summer really is just
around the corner! So what could possibly be better than fetch in the snow?
Fetch with a big hunk of wood in a field!

{I apologize for the few seconds where the video stalls at the beginning - I shot it on my 
phone and I have no idea how to edit a video}

May 01, 2013

It's Not Summer Without You (Summer, #2) by Jenny Han

It's a little bit ridiculous that a YA novel can bring out all the FEELS in me, but Jenny Han, you've done it again. My heart was an emotional mess after reading The Summer I Turned Pretty last year. I immediately read It's Not Summer Without You, (the second book in the Summer trilogy), anxious to keep reading about Belly, Conrad and Jeremiah, but then, like usual, I got distracted and neither read the last book in the series or wrote a review of this one. Then, the other day while I was working, I popped into the library and I saw It's Not Summer Without You on audio* and checked it out. What better way to refresh my memory than by driving around in my car while trying to hold back the tears this book demands of me? Seriously - don't read this book while driving.

This book was all kinds of sad - heart-wrenching, blink-back-the-tears-while-driving sad. And it wasn't just about the relationship between Belly and Conrad and Jeremiah. There was so much more to this book. There's young-love, old-love, the love and bond between life-long best friends, the relationships we have with our parent's at an emotionally-charged young age, and the relationships between the parent's themselves. I love how the summer books don't solely focus on the teens in this book. Susannah and Adam - Jeremiah and Conrad's parent's, and Laurel - Belly and Stephen's mom, weren't just side-line characters: they were pivotal to the entire story, providing that parental presence that I often find is lacking (or unbelievable) in teen stories.

This book also had the addition of some of the chapters being from Jeremiah's point of view. Sigh...sweet, loveable, Jeremiah. He and Conrad couldn't be more different if they tried. This is what makes them both so likeable in their own ways. Jeremiah is fun, goofy and wears his heart on his sleeve. Conrad, on the other hand, is his usual quiet, brooding self. He's as closed of a book as they come.

In this book, the summer's of their childhood spent at Cousins beach are no more. Belly, Stephen, Conrad and Jeremiah are growing up and fast becoming adults themselves. But something happens this summer that brings them together at the beach house to fight for something they all need. And along the way, Conrad and Jeremiah become more transparent to Belly than they have ever been, and she has decide once and for all: follow her heart or hold on to the past? How do you choose between two people you love so completely differently? 

“It’s all relative, I suppose. You think you know love, you think you know real pain, but you don’t. You don’t know anything.”

I loved this book just as much as the first and I have promised myself not to waste anytime jumping into the last book in this series, even though I know I'm not ready to say goodbye to Belly, Conrad, Jeremiah OR Cousins beach. 

*This book was fantastic on audio. I really enjoyed the narrator and I found she did an amazing job portraying all the emotions and feelings this book is bursting with.