A Bookaholic, Pro-life, Pro-Family, Pro-Oxford Comma, Catholic (with Asperger's) who reads and writes as her obsession. I've been reading over 400 books a year lately. These are my ramblings on the books I read.

I sometimes go through stages of "genre love", I'm addicted to
mystery thrillers, memoirs, 20th century Chinese historical fiction, Victorian fiction and nonfiction, Catholic theology and short story anthologies; but you'll find I read an even wider variety of books than that. I have a teensy fascination with macabre non-fiction books about death and anything about insane asylums.

I also tend to post a lot of reviews of
juvenile/teen books.

I also blog about
graphic novels and manga on a separate BLOG.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Chinese Turkestan: A Photographic Journey Through an Ancient Civilization by Ryan Pyle

Chinese Turkestan: A Photographic Journey Through an Ancient Civilization by Ryan Pyle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 192 pages
Published September 5th 2014 by Ryan Pyle Productions

An interesting book, with an interesting topic. A look at a part of China inhabited predominately by Muslims, with thousands of years of history. Pictures of the people and buildings with the old and ancient beside the encroaching Communist China's signature highrise white apartment/office buildings. I enjoyed the use of black and white photography; it appropriately fit the atmosphere the photographer was presenting. My problem with the book was its design. A photographic essay such as this is usually presented in an oversized book (this is close to a standard sized hardcover). The pictures were squeezed together on pages when they would have been done better justice had they been framed by more negative space on the page. And most annoyingly were photos which spanned across a two page spread landing a good portion of the photos central focus (a person) slap dab in the books gutter. I realize the cost of publishing probably was the determining factor in not using a larger format but could suggest perhaps keeping the size and layout but at least using a lay-flat binding so images aren't lost in the gutter.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Ten apples up on top! by Theo LeSieg

Ten apples up on top! by Theo LeSieg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 59 pages
Published by Beginner Books, 1961

Dr. Seuss' Beginner Books

One of my absolute favourite Seuss books! I read it myself as a child and it went through my boys as being a favourite at one time or another also. This is a perfect one for reading aloud because of the rhythm of the verse. You can have a lot of fun with it. Ten Apples is also very basic reading, simple phonetic words, easiest sight words and plenty of repetition and yet it conveys an exciting story which is continuously in motion. From start to finish there is movement on every page. McKie's illustrations are wonderful as well; large simple, bold black outlines. These capture the reader's attention and his pictures carry the physical energy of the story with little action lines but also effectively using slanting lines to carry the movement across and off the page. A lifetime keeper for the classic Dr. Seuss shelf in my home.

Winemaker Detective Series (3) Nightmare in Burgundy by Jean-Pierre Alaux

Nightmare in Burgundy by Jean-Pierre Alaux
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paperback, 140 pages
Published July 31st 2014 by Le French Book
(first published in French, 2004)

Winemaker Detective Series (3)

The third book in this charming series is not quite up to par with the previous mystery but still brings plenty of murder, mayhem and wine to the table. There is a puzzle, along with two deaths, that must be unravelled; and Benjamin Cooker finds himself calling upon an old dying friend, a monk to help him decipher the Latin clues. I really enjoyed the Catholic aspect of this particular story. The relationship between Cook and Virgile is a warm strong bond between a Catholic and an unbeliever bringing about many interesting discussions. I highly enjoy this duo who casually stumble upon mysteries on their travels as wine critics/tasters. This book, the third, does take some assumption that you will know who the characters are so there is little to no introduction or background on them. Which in my opinion would make this one not suitable as a starting point for the series. A quaint cozy set in the wine country that will please both cozy mystery readers and wine enthusiasts. Looking forward to the next book!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Color of Courage: A Boy at War: The World War II Diary of Julian Kulski by Julian E. Kulski

The Color of Courage: A Boy at War: The World War II Diary of Julian Kulski by Julian E. Kulski
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paperback, 450 pages
Published November 7th 2014 by Aquila Polonica
(first published 1979 as "Dying, We Live"

This is the type of book one really can't review. How do you review the memoirs of someone's life, especially the most troubling time of their life. I finished this about a week ago and needed the time to recover before putting down my thoughts here. The author wrote these memoirs at the age of 16 while convalescing in the hospital after being liberated from a German POW at the end of WWII, at the suggestion of his doctor as an aid in his mental recovery. The memoirs were first published in 1979 and have been thankfully reprinted again. This is a book that should always be available for people to read as an historic reminder of what happened to Poland and the Polish people during the Nazi occupation and Russian invasion, their resilience, then the final backstab as they were handed off to Lenin's Communist Regime from which they didn't break free until 1989 with the leadership of Lech Walesa. Julian was a 10-year old boy when his country was invaded and he describes through a child's eyes what happened in his home, Warsaw, almost daily over the next five years. He goes from being a boy who can't wait to be old enough to join the army, to one who sees the men of his country being loaded onto cattle cars and sent off to labour camps. Then he tells the horrid and inhuman tale of the Warsaw Ghetto as the Jews, including his little girlfriend and her family, are rounded up and starved and slaughtered. His frustration at living in a house amidst his mother, aunts and little sister end with him going to live with his former Scoutmaster who recruits him for the Polish Underground (Home) Army, mostly teens and some children, boys and girls alike, who fought bravely against the occupation and matured quickly to be the ones who led the Warsaw Uprising in 1944. The whole story of Poland under siege, under occupation, is one of a country and a people with a tremendous amount of strength. Through their faith and their pride in the country's heritage they never gave up the fight from oppression, for freedom. Kulski's memoir is particularly heart-wrenching and eye-opening as it gives an eyewitness account of Poland's WWII years through the eyes of a child as he grows to adolescence but never considers himself a victim even though he's imprisoned and 'interrogated' by the SS. Of particular note are this volume's visuals: there are many photographs from the era like nothing I've seen before. The slaughter, the devastation, the armed children at post in uniform, the hangings ... They cause the reader to pause and I did have to put the book down several times get an emotional breather. Plus the publisher, Aquila Polonica, has included several internet links to rare original footage the likes of which were either totally fascinating or heartbreaking. I highly recommend the book and hope this will stay in print for this and future generations to never forget what happened to Poland and how the Polish as a nation responded to oppression. Great thanks to Mr. Kulksi for sharing his darkest moments with the world.

Friday, March 27, 2015

2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge - COMPLETED

2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge

I participated last year and it really helped me to read these books that I can't stop myself from requesting.  Same as last year I am self-imposing a rule of not including graphic novels since that would defeat my reasons for participating in this challenge.  Otherwise the sign-up is here. and the rules are:

- The challenge will run from Jan 1, 2015 – Dec 31, 2015.
- Any genre, release date, request date, length, etc. counts so long as it came from Edelweiss or Netgalley.

Last year I signed up for Bronze level and completed that quite easily but never did quite make it to Silver so I'm going to go with the same and hope to make it up to the next level.

Bronze - 10 books


1. Dark Screams: Volume One by edited Brian James Freeman
2. The Settling Earth: A Collection of Short Stories by Rebecca Burns
3. Until You Are Dead, Dead, Dead: The Hanging of Albert Edwin Batson by Jim Bradshaw
4. My Pa the Polar Bear by Jackie French
5. Forsaking Home by A. American
6. Dark Screams: Volume Two edited by Brian James Freeman
7. The Wilderness of Ruin: A Tale of Madness, Fire, and the Hunt for America's Youngest Serial Killer by Roseanne Montillo
8. Grand Cru Heist by Jean-Pierre Alaux & Noel Balen
9. The Governess by Evelyn Hervey
10. Hot Dogs and Hamburgers: Unlocking Life's Potential by Inspiring Literacy at Any Age by Rob Shindler

ETA March 27: I'll now continue on to the next level which I didn't quite make last year.

Silver - 25 books
11. Nightmare in Burgundy by Jean-Pierre Alaux & Noel Balen

Hot Dogs and Hamburgers: Unlocking Life's Potential by Inspiring Literacy at Any Age by Rob Shindler

Hot Dogs and Hamburgers: Unlocking Life's Potential by Inspiring Literacy at Any Age by Rob Shindler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paperback, 206 pages
Published December 1st 2012 by River Grove Books

I love finding little gems like this inspirational memoir. Shindler has a son with severe learning disabilities which mainly make him unable to read. As a father he fails his "experiment" in trying to teach his son to read and decides that if he can learn to teach adults (people he doesn't love) to read with patience he may be able to bring those skills home and put them to use in helping his son read. I was drawn to this little book as I taught both my sons to read, the eldest was advanced and had started on his own by age 3. That was a lot of fun. I just added in the phonics and the rest was natural for him. My second son is autistic and has many learning disabilities, some which sound identical to Schindler's son. He went to elementary school half days and was homeschooled the other half. He has short term memory and teaching him often felt like banging your head on a wall as what he had successfully conquered one day, would be as if he had never heard of in his life the next. Anyway, he's succeeded in being able to read now at age 15, below age level, but he's a work in progress, as are we all. I became an expert in phonics and the school worked on the Dolch words. I found Mr. Schindler's book highly inspiring and related to him greatly. However this little book concentrates more on his teaching the adult literacy classes than teaching his son and these were wonderfully inspiring moments. It's an inside look at who these people are that end up as non-reading adults,why they decide so late in life to learn to read and the determination and success they find in this new atmosphere as opposed to the school system that let them down as kids. Schindler's book often reminded me of episodes from that show starring Judd Hirsch "Dear John" which was an adult class or group of some sort (for divorcees or something). Anyway Schindler's classes had wonderful comedic moments, a cast of eccentric characters and moments that pulled at the heartstrings. A very well-written, uplifting book on parenting, helping others, learning disabilities and keeping dreams alive by remembering you are never to old to learn something new! Along with just how important reading is for a fulfilling life (not novels, but street signs, menus, etc).

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Governess by Evelyn Hervey (H.R.F. Keating)

The Governess by Evelyn Hervey  (H.R.F. Keating)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Paperback, 254 pages
Published December 20th 2012 by Bloomsbury Readers
first published November 1983

Harriet Unwin Trilogy (1)
Bloomsbury Readers

A Victorian cozy mystery written by H.R.F. Keating under a pen name. This is the first in a trilogy. It was a fun, light, quick read for me. Overdramatic and unrealistic, especially in the portrayal of the stubborn police inspector. However, it was a pleasant romp with lots of atmosphere and dealings with the downstairs goings on in a Victorian household. The mystery was not too complicated being more involved in proving the governess's innocence than in a real secret of who the perpetrator was but, the reveal for motive at the end was amusing. Nothing too stimulating but an entertaining cozy read to which I'd most certainly read the sequels.