Teaser Tuesday: Aug 25th

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Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly book meme originally featured at Should Be Reading. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

Here is another blast from the past so to speak! A little late I know, but it’s not like they expire. Look out for the review for this as well over the weekend 🙂

” ‘You’ve been pretty busy these last few months. I’ve been reading a lot about you. You beat the police by several lengths when you tracked down Zalachenko and identified Niedermann.’

‘Lisbeth Salander was faster.’ ” (431)

The Seven Deadly Sins of Reading Tag

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Thank you so much to The Happy Typewriter for nominating me for this lovely blog award, I love doing these too. Sorry it has taken me so long to complete it (I went on a little hiatus!). But I am back now so let’s get started!

Greed Defined as: An intense and selfish desire for something.

What is your most expensive book?

I am going to be super boring and have to say my most expensive book was for my German course in university, cost just under $200. I know, I am so lame!

Wrath Defined as: Extreme anger.

What author do you have a love/hate relationship with?

George R.R. Martin. The fantasy world and the complex relationships that he creates in the Game of Thrones is very awe inspiring…however sometimes the complexity of the plot and just the sheer number of characters in his books get to be a little too much for me!

Gluttony Defined as: Intense over-indulgence.

What book have you devoured over and over with no shame?

Any of the Harry Potter books. I am a quarter of a century old and I still proudly announce that the Harry Potter series is the best thing that has ever happened to me (in the book world of course!).

Sloth Defined as: a reluctance to work or make an effort.

What book have you neglected to read due to laziness?

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. I just don’t have the patience or the will power to tackle that read at the moment. So it just sits there on my reading shelf, a big blue spine that just makes me ashamed of my laziness.

Pride Defined as: satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.

What book do you talk about most in order to sound like an intellectual reader?

HAHA this is such a good question, as I am sure we all do it. For me it’s the The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. How can you not brag about having read a book published in 1475?

Lust Defined as: a strong sexual desire.

What attributes do you find attractive in male characters?

Nothing beats cleverness/intelligence in a male character for me sprinkled with a little humour of course. However, that should never cross into a know-it-all and the “perfect” male character. I appreciate a flaw or two to make him more realistic.

Envy Defined as: a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck.

What book would you most like to receive as a gift?

I have to pick just one? This is going to take me forever…

The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Collector’s Edition. If you have no idea what I am talking about click here to see this beauty. It costs an arm and a leg but brings so much happiness!

So, that’s all for me, now here are the bloggers I tag:

Really curious to read your answers!

Book Review: The Real Elizabeth by Andrew Marr

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Published: 2012

For a few years now I have wanted to read a biography about Queen Elizabeth II. I find her an extremely intriguing person, who is frequently misrepresented in the media in my mind. Previous biographies of the Queen that I have come across have been rather lengthy volumes so I was looking for something a little bit more general, that would give me a good overview of her life and what she has been through. Plus, it’s hard to tell which author has the access to actually know the Queen.

Before reading the book I’ve had some exposure to the Queen’s past, as I have watched a documentary detailed her love and passion for horses (as you may already know I am an avid horse aficionado). That one was very interesting and is what prompted me to pick up this book. It’s a very condensed version of her life, and did give me a good general overview of the Queen, which was what I was looking for in this case.

There were a few elements to this book that I thought were nicely done. Again, I liked that it was short and to the point. I don’t recall ever being overwhelmed or bored by minute details, which is something I do do find occurs in biographies.

Another good feature was that Andrew Marr made sure to bring in the context, so I was able to better envision the period and struggles she may have been experiencing at that point in history. He was also sure to always give background on significant people in her life, wether positive or negative, to again refresh a person’s memory or just understand the context. I am forever grateful for that!

There were aspects of the book that I didn’t quite enjoy. There seems to be this very obvious bias against Canadians. Now I am not sure if the author is aware of this, but I couldn’t help but note that every instance a Canadian person or Canada as a whole was mentioned there was always a negative connotation attached that quite frankly got on my nerves a bit. I don’t mind hearing something bad about Canada, I know we aren’t perfect by any standard, but when I couldn’t find a single positive association to Canada that really displeased me. I think even the fact that I became aware of it should demonstrate that it was very prevalent in the book.

I also felt that Andrew Marr tended to stray from the point. I bought this book to read and know more about Queen Elizabeth II, the real Elizabeth as he alludes in the title. Frequently though I am not sure that the book really accomplishes this, instead he often gets caught up in detail and his opinions. It’s great to get context, but that shouldn’t be the whole point on a chapter. Often, I felt he drifted and didn’t really give any interesting details about the Queen, nothing that I have never heard of.

Overall, I will say if you know very little about the British monarchy, this is definitely a good first time read. Especially since he does focus quite a bit on explaining what the monarchy does in the first place. If you are looking for more in-depth account of the Queens life I am not sure you will find this here.

Any biographies or autobiographies that you have been reading? Anything on your bucket list? Very curious to know!

Teaser Tuesday: Aug 18

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teasertuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly book meme originally featured at Should Be Reading. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

Got another blast from the past for you here today, as we continue to hunt for a house in a city that is 3 hours away from where we currently live. This house hunting is a lot harder than I had thought it was going to be. Anyway, hope you enjoy this little teaser from The Real Elizabeth by Andrew Marr!

” The glamorous young ones [Philip and Elizabeth II] would go instead. On January 31, 1952, the King waved them off at the modestly sized and freezing London Airport. His life of meetings was about to end; hers, to begin,” (98-99)

What are you reading this lovely Tuesday? Post your Teaser Tuesday links for me below please!

Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

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Published: 2015

My co-worker mentioned that she was reading The Girl on the Train during one of our conversations and it sounded interesting so I thought I would look into it. I did some research on it before I bought it and I was quite surprised at how much attention it’s been getting. In fact, apparently it’s been top of USA’s bestseller chart for over 13 weeks and Dreamworks has bought the rights to produce a movie.

The similarities between this book and Gillian Flynn’s novel Gone Girl are undeniable, both are psychological thrillers that not only keep you on the edge of your seat but also allow you to observe how people cope in difficult situations. I think the reason why they felt so similar is because the authors made the characters sound so real and relatable. They were far from perfect, instead the main characters were fraught with many psychological issues, but they lived in very realistic conditions that I am sure many people could relate to. The fact that it was based in London was particularly interesting to me, as it’s a place I’ve been to several times so I can image the setting well.

I think the similarities end there between the two books though (Paula Hawkins has stated that she actually used The Girl on the Train as a working title long before reading Gone Girl). I say this because the main characters are very different, and therefore, handle each problem and event very differently. Amy from Gone Girl is a very astute and crafty woman. She’s highly intelligent, and the planning and masterminding that she took the time to plot out was quite astonishing. Rachel, on the other hand, is very much a polar opposite. She’s a divorced, unemployed, unhappy alcoholic who defies planning and thinking in general. Instead she feels unmotivated, sporadic and depressed. When we meet her she is a shattered woman, who has given up on her life completely.

The plot of the book I think could have been a little bit better. I found the build-up/intro to the main characters took a little too long. Also, I really struggled to sympathize with Rachel. What happened in her life was sad, but seeing her throw her life away and just drink alcohol on every page got a little repetitive. I think it could have moved a bit quicker. Also, despite her problems, I didn’t like how she was handling her life and so wasn’t as attracted to her character.

The other flaw in the novel, was the man hating that was going on. It safe to say that 90% of the men in the book had either anger management issues, psychotic behaviour or were cheaters. I supposed only the red-haired man that help Rachel was the beacon of light, but even he seemed to have a drinking problem and didn’t actually help her in the end. Thought that was very negative and the fact that I became aware of it wasn’t a positive.

Lastly, it was interesting how the many of the main characters had similar qualities, but to me they seemed like the same person. I suppose this may have been because they all had very similar men in their lives, but I wasn’t quite convinced by it.

In conclusion, I found the book very thrilling and I was desperate to know what happened next. I would definitely recommend reading it, especially if you have enjoyed Gone Girl. Also, I found this interesting article written about the book that I would recommend reading through if you are interested in the book!

Did you read this book yet? If so what did you think? Send over links to your reviews!

Teaser Tuesday: Aug 11

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Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly book meme originally featured at Should Be Reading. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

So because this week I am going to try and finish off The Kill Order in the Maze Runner series, I have decided to give you a preview of a book that I have read during my hiatus and have therefore not done a Teaser Tuesday for. It also happens to be one of my Top 10 favourite books of all time!

“None of you will go to America, none of you will be film stars. And none of you will be working in supermarkets as I heard some of you planning the other day. Your lives are set out for you…” (81)

Whatcha reading this awesome Tuesday? 🙂

Book Review: Empress Dowager Cixi by Jung Chang

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Published: 2013

I came by this book when I was looking for a biography to read about an important historical figure. I was keen to stay away from any American or European people because I feel like I was taught a decent amount about those two continents in my education. I wanted to find someone fascinating from a part of the world I knew very little about. So I narrowed it down to East-Asia. Well at least we made progress right?

What intrigued me about his book right away is that it was based in the Victorian Era, a period I feel I had grasped well in school, and it was about an important woman of power. Pardon my naivety, but I didn’t know that women could easily gain influence and power in China during this period. As I began to read the book, I realised just how amazing thing woman was. It was indeed very rare for a women to not only make political and economical decisions in a country, not to mention also rule for such a long period of time (nearly 50 years)!

Empress Dowager Cixi started off as a concubine to Emperor Xianfeng, as the author explains, “a Chinese emperor was entitled to one empress and as many concubines as he pleased” (3). Her role as concubine came with no real power, she was merely meant to please her emperor. So how did this incredible woman manage to become Empress and bring China from a medieval empire into the modern age? Well you are going to have to read the book to find out!

As someone who has studied History in school, I must say that there are many authors out there that can make an exciting period sound awfully tedious and can drown you with facts and figures as an attempt to impress you with their knowledge. Little attempts are made to make historical fiction engaging as well as educational. I think this book does an amazing job with this. Jung Chang manages to tell a story in such an engaging way, I couldn’t put down the book the same way I couldn’t put down the heart-racing The Maze series by David Dashner. Without a second thought, I could pick up the book even now and start re-reading it!

I marvelled at every page at how incredible this woman was and what a tumultuous time she ruled in (through many attacks from the Japanese, Russians and the West to multiple assassination attempts on herself). She was a very shrewd individual who was able to push aside her own feelings and opinions in order to find ways to ways to make China a strong empire. This means introducing then controversial and Western tactics such as building up a military and railway system to better transport it’s people and produce.

If you are interested in Chinese history, but may be a little bit overwhelmed as to where to start I would recommend this book. As someone with nearly zero prior knowledge about China I was able to follow everything without any issues, probably because Jung Chang does such a great job explaining everything! A definite must-read!

Have you read up about an amazing person in history? Let me know the title and author so I can add it to my list!

Teaser Tuesday: Aug 4

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Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly book meme originally featured at Should Be Reading. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

So I have been a little quieter this past week or so because we are trying to find and buy a house in a brand new city (very time-consuming, unrewarding and exhausting task), so I have been spending all my free time researching, and trying to find a house we’d like. But I am trying to read as much as I can in my free time. This week I have started The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I have heard so much about it via internet an friends, I had to pick it up. Sounds like a similar genre to Gone Girl, which as you know I loved. Without further ado, here is the teaser for this one!

“I feel uneasy. I walk around the house; I can’t settle, I feel as though someone else has been here while I was sleeping. There’ s nothing out of place but the house feels different, as though things have been touched, subtly shifted out of place, and as I walk around I feel as though there is someone else here, always just out of my line of sight.” (68)

Have you heard of this book by any chance? Have you ever experienced the stresses of moving house and keeping your life organised?!

Book Review: The Death Cure by James Dashner

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Published: 2011

I had no idea what to expect from the series after I had read the second book, The Scorch Trials. There seemed to have been a pattern in the first two books, with them facing new and more gruelling challenges that WICKED, an organisation trying to find a cure for the Flare (a disease that has destroyed much of man-kind and threatens to completely annihilate the population), set out for them. I enjoyed the ride but I was a bit worried that the third book would be just as predictable. And I was left thinking, ‘will they finally find the cure that they have been looking for all along’?

James Dashner has left me pleasantly surprised, when I found out that the novel would not take the predicable pattern of the first two books. I won’t lie though, a lot more happens in a short amount of time and some of it’s pretty brutal (probably Thomas’ biggest tests). The book did feel a bit rushed to me. A lot does happen, and the series does come to a close at the end of this book but I think it would have been better if the series progressed at the pace it had in the first two books, maybe split the last book into two and give more detail.

In terms of plot, the story definitely changed. We are introduced to some new and important characters, but Dashner makes sure not to exclude the reader by also making characters the reader would already know play a significant role in the ending. As for the ending, I am not going to reveal it, but I was pleasantly surprised. After the whole ride I was pleased with how the series concluded.

The diction and prose mimics the previous two books. In my opinion, it’s not a Nobel Peace Prize for Literature contender, but it was a super easy and fun book to read on vacation. I don’t think Dashner brings about a new theme in the dystopian genre, but I can appreciate the ride that he took me on. If there is one other criticism that I have for this book is for the characters development of Thomas. I was a little disappointed in his lack of growth, I don’t consider him deciding between Theresa and Brenda as character growth. Also, I was a little bit disappointed with him the in café scene, when he stays behind despite his friends telling him to go, and then gets caught by the Red Guard. It not only seems insanely stupid but also completely out of his character. Overall, I must say I was quite pleased with how the series ended and enjoyed the book, although not as much as the previous two.

Did you finish the series? What were your thoughts on the ending of the book?

Teaser Tuesday: July 28

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Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly book meme originally featured at Should Be Reading. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

I’ve decided to just finish off the The Maze Runner series by plunging right into James Dashner’s last book, The Kill Order! I did feel there was a big shift with the third book and I am not sure if I am liking it that as much as the previous two books in the series. Something tells me this last one will be very similar to book three. Stay tuned for the review!

“It was faint but definitely there. The sound of a woman singing some type of chant, not as far off as he thought at first. Chills ran up his skin – it brought back the memory of Misty singing as she began to succumb to the illness.” (115)

What are you reading this Tuesday? Give me your thoughts and send over your links! 🙂