Wedding Night, Sophie Kinsella

Wedding-Night-coverI love Sophie Kinsella despite the fact that she can be a hit or miss. Her hits are just that good (for me). Wedding Night, her 2013 release, is unfortunately a miss.

Older sis Fliss always looks after Lottie, and when Lottie breaks up with her long-time boyfriend, Richard, she is ready for one of Lottie’s Unfortunate Choices; rash decisions Lottie always makes after a break-up (like a bad tattoo, or joining a cult). But even Fliss is surprised when Lottie elopes with an old beau, and she is determined to prevent them from consummating the marriage, which would disallow the possibility of an annulment. Fliss teams up with best man, Lorcan, and together with Richard, who is now determined to win Lottie back, and her son, Noah, they plan to break up the marriage, traveling to the Honeymoon destination Ikonos, and teaming up with hotel staff to create the worst honeymoon ever.

So the book is a little insane, and there is not much else to redeem it. The comedy fell flat and the romance was far from compelling. Rarely do I have so little good to say about a book, but it’s looking like this will be a pretty short review. I’m always baffled by the roller coaster of Kinsella’s works. Her 2012 release, I’ve Got Your Number is one of my favourites of Kinsella’s, and of the entire chick lit genre. Wedding Night was far too easy to put down, and a burden to finish.

Let me fill you in…

Well hello there! Hope you all had great summers!  Mine was great, thanks for asking. Highlight would be … going camping with my dog. My hubby tagged along too. Now I’m back to the grind. I just finished my first week as a shelver at a local public library, which is a great foot in the door, since I am also in my first semester of a Library and Information Technology diploma (2 year program). I’ve finished four weeks at college and I cannot believe how much I’ve learned about my desired profession already! I’ve still got a few bad habits though- I’ve already been caught eating in the school library, have $8 in fines at the public library and just two days ago spent big bucks on a book I was dying to read which today I saw two copies of in the library.

It was also a good summer for books. Though I didn’t consume as many as the previous year, I was very happy with most of my reads. And now, ladies and gentlemen, is my chance to brief you all on these very books, so sit back and enjoy!

Matched Trilogy

Speak, 2011-2012

Ally Condie’s Matched Trilogy

I was given Matched for my birthday from a friend whom is obviously a great present-purchaser. I enjoyed the first novel, though it was nothing spectacular. The gist is that main character Cassia is living in a future dystopian society where, as the ‘disclaimer’ says, ‘…officials decide who you love, where you work, when you die’. There’s the dreaded love triangle, which was super annoying and got progressively worse. I’m pretty easy when it comes to books, so obviously I got hooked and had to read book two and three, which also got progressively worse. Not my cuppa tea I suppose.

1984

Penguin Books (different cover), 1954 (originally 1949)

George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four

Before anyone starts thinking highly of me, I should admit this is the only book I got around to reading from my previous post. I pretty much got what I was expecting, and it was rather good. It didn’t draw me in so much as give me the heeby-geebies, but I keep thinking it would have been even better if read in the 50’s. If I had done so, I probably would have moved to the Yukon, a hundred kilometers from the nearest town.

I've got your number

Dial Press, 2012

Sophie Kinsella’s I’ve Got Your Number

This was one of my favourite books this summer. After a couple of lemons, Kinsella is back to her old self with this chick-lit, which has her usual plot and character-types. It was funny and cute and exactly what I wanted it to be. Kinda silly how something so predictable can be so good.

The Book Thief

Knopf (different cover), 2005

Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief

This book was not what I was expecting at all, and it was great! It was like nothing I had ever read before, and though it’s not out-of-the-ballpark good, it was sure worthwhile. The narrator, who is death (sorta like the Grim Reaper, though ‘he’ says that ‘he’ is not), is intrigued by our main character, Liesel, who is a preteen in Nazi Germany. She comes to live with foster parents and eventually develops a habit of nicking books at meaningful moments and teaching herself to read with her new father. Doesn’t sound too good the way I’ve put it, but trust me, it’s popular for a good reason! The best thing about it for me was that it was a totally different side of the holocaust, which I’ve always enjoyed reading books about.

Legend

Speak, 2011

Marie Lu’s Legend

This one has been in my sights for awhile, as all popular young adult reads are, eventually. Unfortunately, it was a disappointment. Another dystopian future, where main character June is born into an affluent family, though it is just herself and her brother. When her one sibling is murdered, she discovers the other side of society when she hunts for the ‘supposed’ killer, her future love-interest Day. At least there’s no love triangle! Well, not really, at least.

Lunar Chronicles

Square Fish, 2012, 2013

Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles

When push comes to shove, these were probably my favourite reads of the summer. Cinder, the first installment of the so-far two-piece saga, in particular was wonderful- everything I want in a YA book. Meyer is a self-proclaimed geek, and all that awesome-ness comes out in her writing. Cinder and the sequel, Scarlet, are both based off of popular fairy tales, re-imagined in a future society. If I had a list of requirements for a YA book to be amazing, this one would have all the boxes checked off.

Flavia de Luce Novels

Anchor Canada, 2009-2013

Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce Novels (2-5)

I had read the enjoyable first novel, of which you can read Deborah’s review of here, long ago, and picked up the second book on a whim when I saw it on the discount rack at Barnes & Noble. Thank goodness I did so because I became so hooked. The books all have wacky titles, but each one was a better read than the last. Sam Mendes is planning on making the books into TV movies, and the series has been extended to ten books(!). One of the best protagonists around, Flavia is not something I will ever get tired of. The only thing I’ll say is don’t read the fifth book until the sixth one comes out in ‘early 2014’. The cliffhanger is killing me!

Well that’s it folks! These were the books of my summer, or at least the ones I remember. (My memory has decided it is not important to keep track of those sorts of things.) Hopefully some of you will pick up a few of the books I’ve recommended, because really, what’s better than knowing you have a good book right in front of you? Feel free to share some of your favourite summer reads, I’d love to hear them!

So I’m becoming a Librarian… Ten books to read before September in order to ‘fit in’.

The Catcher in the RyeIt’s actually worse than that. August 26th is only 32 days away and I know I’m going to give in and read a few chick lits while the sun is still shining. I’ve been working at this over the years, last year reading the wonderful To Kill a Mockingbird and the ‘OK’ Lord of the Flies, besides also reading the less popular Austen novels and some great contemporary literature. Besides these I’ve seriously got to get my butt in gear and finally figure out who Holden Caulfield is.

My List: (the page count will fluctuate)

  1. Animal Farm, George Orwell, 1945, 112 pgs. 
  2. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell, 1949, 326 pgs.
  3. The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger, 1951, 220 pgs.
  4. Ulysses, James Joyce, 1922, 632-1000 pgs.
  5. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh, 1945, 351 pgs.
  6. Catch-22, Joseph Heller, 1961, 453 pgs.
  7. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov, 1955, 368 pgs.
  8. To The Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf, 1927, 209 pgs.
  9. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn , Mark Twain, 1884, 366 pgs.
  10. Farenheit-451, Ray Bradbury, 1953, 179 pgs.

Ulysses To the Lighthouse

A pattern has emerged! With the exception on HuckFinn, these are overwhelmingly mid-century literature.  Encouragingly on the short side, but then again, there’s a reason I left Anna Karenina off my list. Of course I will take the ‘quantity’ approach and start with the shortest ones to knock ’em off the list. A few weeks from now I’ll be flinging Joyce quotes all over the classroom! No, not really. Even if I wanted to, I have no memory for quotes. Have you read any of these novels? Any cautionary tales or favourites? Do tell.

The Ten Greatest Books of All Time:

LolitaYou may have heard about this 2007 phenomenon: Numerous authors rate their top ten novels and when you compile their lists- Bam! You’ve got a top ten list.

2/10 (pathetic)

  1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  2. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  3. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  4. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  6. Hamlet by William Shakespeare Check!
  7. The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald Check!
  8. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
  9. The Stories of Anton Chekhov by Anton Chekhov
  10. Middlemarch by George Eliot

    These are the books that haunt me! How many times have they popped up and I keep telling myself ‘I have to read that!’ One day…

The Top Ten Books You Were Made to Read in School:

Of Mice and Men7/10! Not too shabby.

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird Why couldn’t my teachers pick this instead of some of the other messed-up stuff?
  2. Of Mice and Men
  3. A Seperate Peace ? Never heard of it.
  4. The Catcher in the Rye
  5. Animal Farm
  6. Lord of the Flies
  7. The Great Gatsby
  8. A Farewell to Arms Ugh, glad I never had to read this in school- one of my least favourite books ever.
  9. The Scarlet Letter
  10. Macbeth

Top Ten Books I Read in School (from my sketchy memory):Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang

  1. Jacob Two-Two meets the Hooded Fang We would beg our teacher to read one more chapter.
  2. Macbeth My favourite only because of how much fun we had with it in class.
  3. Dante’s Inferno I remember we had to create our own layers of hell. Good times.
  4. Hamlet
  5. The Scarlet Letter  This one got an ‘A’.
  6. Brave New World 
  7. Flowers for Algernon
  8. I am David I remember this as the first time I was properly taught symbolism: Jumping in the ocean=baptism!
  9. Othello
  10. Romeo and Juliet Shakespeare, much? I’m not complaining though- these ones are much harder to pick up on your own.

Bonus: The Outsiders, Of Mice and Men and April Raintree ( the latter probably unknown to those outside of Manitoba, and most of those within), along with all the other books I’ve completely forgotten, did not make the cut. Worst book I read in school: Fifth Business by Robertson Davies

Any favourites or hated books you read while you were in school? Anything I should add to my TBR list? Hope you guys are having a great summer- I’ll be hitting the books!

Light and Fun Summer Reading

This was supposed to be a Top Ten for early May, but we’ve decided to rework it into your personal summer reading list! Kaite and I will tell you our top titles for when you’re looking for something “light and fun”, plus some of the books we’re planning on picking up this summer.

Deborah’s (Few-and-Far-Between) Light and Fun Recommendations:

Not that I only read depressing stuff, but mostly I err on the serious/dramatic side of things. So whenever I read a book that makes me say “man, I feel GOOD”, I usually wonder what the heck my problem is, and go hunting for more. Here’s my (short) list of funnies I’ve liked so far.

1) Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan. I read this last year, and it’s probably one of the single most funny books I’ve ever read. Just ask my BFF, who was trying to suntan in peace while I was reading this beside her. Every two seconds I burst out laughing, which made her jump. It does have some heart-wrenching “high school” (AKA sucky) moments, but they’re always tempered with more humour.

2) Any Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Waterson. Okay, okay, so comics shouldn’t really count, but why not? That little troublemaker and his stuffed tiger have some pretty philosophical moments! Other personal faves are The Far Side (Gary Larson) and Cul de Sac (Richard Thompson).

3) The Princess Bride by William Goldman. Despite the title it’s not a girl book. It’s a for-anyone-who-likes-to-laugh book! You’ll be amazed at all the background hilarity that simply didn’t fit into the movie (which is already pretty jam-packed with laughs). Downside: it’s super long, so may not be considered “light”. But hopefully I’ve aROUSed your suspicions enough to give it a try!

A few books I plan to pick up soon(er or later):

  • Ella Minnow Pea, by Mark Dunn. Mostly because the title is great (LMNOP, get it?!). Apparently it’s a book about letters, in letters.
  • Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. I didn’t love Levithan’s solo effort Every Daybut since I enjoy his writing and this is another collaboration…why not?

Kaite’s Way More Complete list:

Though I have love for all sorts of novels, I usually need to mix in some lighthearted books when I read some great literature*.  Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance wrecked me for a long time, and though I’m currently reading Susanna Clark’s (really slow) 1008-page Johnathon Strange and Mr. Norrell, I’ll probably read about 10-15 other books before I finish it. This is also why I cannot love J.K. Rowling’s A Casual Vacancy. I appreciated it very much and was really into the book after the first few chapters, but the darker side of mankind is just harder for me to enjoy. I’m still mulling over why I do this.

Usually my go-to ‘easy-reads’ are whatever YA or romance I have lying around. YA books always seem to provide a good mix of seriousness and lightheartedness, and the romance can sometimes be hilariously awful, but mostly end up sweeping me away. (Though they always have numerous annoying traits I  must overlook- it comes with the genre.) But there are many other great ‘Light and Fun’ reads out there outside of these genres! Here are some of my favourites:

Undomestic Goddess1) For some Chick-Lit, check out Sophie Kinsella’s Can You Keep a Secret, and Undomestic Goddess. These books actually make me laugh out loud, and the stories are Kinsella’s trademark mixture of embarrassing and cute. I would say they are her two best. If you’re not into Kinsella, you can try out any of Marian Keyes’ books. They go deeper than your usual chick-lit, but I enjoyed what I felt was an elevated form of the genre.

2) For some travel adventures, check out the works of Bill Bryson. I haven’t read very much, but I’ve always enjoyed reading a chapter here and there. He has a good sense of humour, and has definitely added some out of Neither here nor therethe way places to my must-see list. If you like history, try out his A Short History of Nearly Everything, which is great, though when compared to other books, not so short.

Welcome Home3) Though his books are pretty Canadian (which I love), Stuart McLean’s numerous books are great for those looking for something easy to read. His Vinyl Cafe books have little stories that still stick with me years later, and I recently purchased Welcome Home: Travels in Smalltown Canada which I’m waiting to get back from my Dad.

4) Does it really get any better than The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy? No, I didn’t think so.Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

5) Bridget Jones’s Diary and the works of Sophie Kinsella definitely have a similar audience, but Helen Fielding’s bestseller outclasses all others.

*Not that lighthearted books cannot be classified as ‘great literature’.

Some books I’ll be reading this summer:

  • Someday, Someday, Maybe, by Lauren Graham – Yeah, Lorelai!
  • Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn – I’ve heard good things!
  • Silver Lining’s Playbook, Matthew Quick – Because I loved the movie so much.
  • Dune, Frank Herbert. Gotta get some science fiction in there.
  • Friendly Shakespeare: A Thoroughly Painless Guide to the Best of the Bard, Norrie Epstein – From last years’ summer reading list.
  • Legend, Marie Lu – Time for some new YA.

    Gone GirlSilver Linings PlaybookLegend