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Showing posts from December, 2009

Movies/DVD's Watched in 2009

I tried to do this last year and failed miserably. It took all the fun out of keeping the list when I tried to review each movie. So I'm just going to keep a running list for the year. The list will include the movie and indicate whether it is a re-watch otherwise it can be assumed it was my first time watched (the year)(owned/rental/library/borrowed/theatre) and a brief review which could be just one word such as good, great, just OK, whatever. If I feel like expounding on the review I will. No rules here just a list with a bit of extra information. I will also note which ones I watched with my 8yo/9yo by starting off with a red (#).

January: 8

1. (#)Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: re-watch, (1984) (library) - great, my favourite of the three original movies because the plot is so dark. 8yo is so into Indiana at the moment.

2. Fargo: (1996) (library) - wonderful. very quirky. Lots of violence but incredibly funny. We will be saying "Oh yah" "yah" to each ot…

Top Ten Books of 2009

OK, so I couldn't pick just ten! Shoot me. I read 270 books (see my complete list here) in 2009 and most of them were great to amazing so it is virtually impossible to narrow a list down to my top ten favourite books. Sooo ... my official Top Ten Books Read in 2009 list contains 14 titles. These are in the order I recommend them.


14. The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade

13. Far North by Marcel Theroux

12. Wake by Lisa McMann

11. American Rust by Philipp Meyer

10. Free Agent by Jeremy Duns

9. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

8. Hell's Horizon by D.B. Shan

7. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

6. Angels of Destruction by Keith Donohue

5. The Chalk Circle Man by Fred Vargas

4. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

3. The Photographer: Into War-Torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders by Emmanuel Guibert & Didier Lefevre

2. Drood by Dan Simmons

1. The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan

269. Twisted

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Twisted by Andrea Kane (Canada ) - (US)
Sloane Burbank, book 1

Pages: 376 pgs.
Ages: 18+
Finished: Dec. 29 , 2009
First Published: Mar. 2008
Genre: romantic thriller
Rating: 4.5/5

First sentence:


She was a true warrior.

Acquired: Received as a 'bonus book' from the publisher along with another book I had requested at the time.

Reason for Reading: Honestly, the cover put me off this for some reason. So it has taken me a while to get around to reading it.

Summary: Sloane Burbank is a former FBI agent who was injured in the line of duty and instead of taking a desk job decided to leave the Bureau until her therapy made her fit for active duty once more. In the meantime she is working as a private consultant for corporations and the police. She is contacted by the family of a childhood friend as a last resort that their daughter has been missing for close to a year and hired to look into the case for them. This one missing person case takes her into a series of related missing women cases, al…

268. The Great Turkey Walk

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The Great Turkey Walk by Kathleen Karr(Canada ) - (US)

Pages: 199 pgs.
Ages: 10+
Finished: Dec. 28, 2009
First Published: 1998
Genre: children, YA, historical fiction, humour
Rating: 3.5/5

First sentence:

I've always been fond of birds, poultry in particular.

Acquired: Received a copy through ILL.

Reason for Reading: Read aloud to the 9yo to go along with our history studies.

Summary: Set in 1860, the book starts with 15-year-old Simon Green being politely graduated from school and told to go find his place in the world. Simon is quite taken aback, as he has just finished third grade for the fourth time and he'd figured on being in school quite some time to get the rest of the grades completed. Simple-minded Simon comes upon a plan to walk a flock of a thousand turkeys from his hometown in Missouri, where he can purchase them for two bits a head, all the way to Denver where they say turkeys will go for five dollars a head. The story follows him on his Wild West adventure across the count…

Monday: Books in the Mail

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Last week was a fabulous week for my mailbox. I started the week with the last couple of Cybils review copies, then came a bookmooch and just before Christmas we got 2 books for review, one had me screaming and the other had my son screaming!

This is what the Beloved Mailbox brought forth:

Cybils Award Review Copies:

I've already read and reviewed this one here.

Alexander Carter has found a key that takes him back to the land of his childhood dreams. Now every night he enters Dreamland...a magical world filled with Dragons, Fairies, and Giants. Re-united with his childhood friends Paddington, Kiwi, and Nastajia...Alexander now embarks on a quest to save Dreamland from war with the nightmare realm.




I've already read and reviewed this one here.

Creator Lora Innes writes and illustrates the tale of 17-year-old Beatrice "Bea" Whaley, a student who begins having vivid dreams about a brave and handsome soldier named Alan Warren... a member of an elite group known as Knowlton&#…

267. Fables: Wolves

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Fables: Wolves by Bill Willingham (Canada ) - (US)
Fables, Volume 8

Pages: 159pgs.
Ages: 18+
Finished: Dec. 27, 2009
First Published: 2006
Genre: graphic novel, fantasy, fairy tale
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

By late November I reach the small port town of Provideniya.


Acquired: Received a copy through ILL.

Reason for Reading: next in the series.

Comment: A very good issue! Lots of secret missions involving action, adventure and revenge. The tying up of an old plot and the introduction of a new fairy tale realm sets the stage for the focus to shift in a new direction come the next volume. As the title obviously tells us this volume concentrates mostly on Bigby, Snow and family. We start with a 2 part issue with the titular name that focuses on Mowgli's mission to find Bigby. Then comes a larger than usual issue, issue #50 in fact, which doesn't give it's title until the end. This issue has Bigby following his mission he was called home for and then brings Snow and the family into play…

Little Mouse Gets Ready

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Little Mouse Gets Ready by Jeff Smith (Canada ) - (US)
A Toon Book

Pages: 32pgs.
Ages: 5+
Finished: Dec. 23, 2009
First Published: Sept. 21, 2009
Genre: graphic novel, easy reader
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

Little Mouse!


Acquired: Received a copy from my local library.

Reason for Reading: book is nominated for a cybils award. plus my son and I have read all the Toon Books and read each new one as they come out.

Summary: This book is in the first level of Toon Books aimed at very early beginning readers. The style is mostly one frame per page, sometimes two. A basic story of Little Mouse dressing himself as his mother calls him to hurry up. But Jeff Smith adds a fun little twist to the "how to dress myself" book by adding a hilarious ending to the story that is sure to have kids roaring with laughter. The book contains all the usual trade marks one has come to expect from any Toon Book. Funny yet quality written story with fabulous illustrations by award-winning artist Jeff Smith.…

MERRY CHRISTMAS

John 3:16
For God so loved the world,
that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in Him
should not perish but have everlasting life.


266. The Dreamland Chronicles

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The Dreamland Chronicles, Book 1 by Scott Christian Sava (Canada ) - (US)

Pages: 300 pgs.
Ages: 10+
Finished: Dec. 23, 2009
First Published: Oct. 29, 2008
Genre: graphic novel, fantasy
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

Tell me about the last dream you remember having...

Acquired: Received a review copy from the publisher.

Reason for Reading: book is nominated for a cybils award.

Summary: When Alexander was a little boy he used to dream every night that he was in Dreamland with his friends: Nastajia the elf girl, Kiwi the fairy and Paddington Rumblebottom the third, a rock boy. Ah, the adventures they had but after a particularly frightening episode the dreams stopped until one day in his college dorm Alexander receives a care package from his mom with a necklace of a sword, he mysteriously brought back from Dreamland that fateful night, and when he puts it on his dreams start again and not only he but his friends have grown up and things are not as peaceful in Dreamland anymore.

Comment: This is a br…

265. Shadow of Colossus

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Shadow of Colosus by T.L. Higley (Canada ) - (US)
A Seven Wonders Novel, Book 1

Pages: 386 pgs.
Ages: 18+
Finished: Dec. 21, 2009
First Published: Aug. 1, 2008
Genre: historical fiction, christian fiction
Rating: 4.5/5

First sentence:


In the deceitful calm of the days preceding disaster, while Rhodes still glittered like a white jewel in the Aegean, Tesa of Delos planned to open her wrists.


Acquired: Received an unsolicited review copy from the publisher.

Reason for Reading: I had been wanting to read it anyway. The Ancient Greece and Seven Wonders angle appealed to me.

Summary: Set in 227 BC on the Greek island of Rhodes, Tesa was sold into bondage by her mother ten years ago and has been a courtesan ever since. She holds quite a high position in society as the hetaera of a wealthy politician, but still she must meet his every need in the privacy of his home. When her patrician is accidentally killed Tesa comes up with a plan to finally escape this island and its bondage but at this time she al…

264. The Dreamer Volume 1 The Consequence of Nathan Hale

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The Dreamer: The Consequence of Nathan Hale by Lora Innes
The Dreamer, Volume 1
(Canada ) - (US)

Pages: 160 pgs.
Ages: 13+
Finished: Dec. 21, 2009
First Published: Jul. 28, 2009
Genre: historical fantasy, YA
Rating: 4.5/5

First sentence:

Beatrice ... I thought you were dead.

Acquired: Received a review copy from the publisher.

Reason for Reading: this book is a cybils award nominee.

Summary: Bea Whaley, 17, wakes up one morning after having a dream where she meets and kisses a young man. They are both dressed in old-fashioned clothing and when Bea awakes the dream feels so real. So real in fact that she can't get it out of her head all day. The next night she picks up her dream where she left off and figures out that she is in the American Revolution and the man is Allan Warren part of a military group called the Knowlton Ranger's. They have rescued her from kidnap by the British and are trying to get her home. Though she isn't helping matters as she has become fascinated with the han…

Monday: Books in the Mail

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Two books in the mail this week. Both from the authors. Both Canadian authors!

A Cybils nominee.

The road to god knows... is the story of Marie, a teenage girl coming to grips with her Mom's schizophrenia. As a result, she's struggling to grow up fast; wrestling with poverty, loneliness, and her Mom's illness every step of the way. Betty, Marie's Mom, can't help; she's living with an illness that's slowly getting worse and increasingly frightening, and she just doesn't have the resources left over at the end of the day to help Marie. With her Mom absorbed in her own problems, Marie is essentially alone while she learns to deal with the chaos in her young life. Marie's youth makes it that much harder for her to cope - as a teenager, she just doesn't have the life experience to feel confident about her decisions. At the start of the story, we see a scared young girl, uncertain and overwhelmed, but as Betty collapses into a full nervous breakdown, …

Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel

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Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel (Canada ) - (US)
An I CAN READ Book

Pages: 64 pgs.
Ages: 6+
Finished: Dec. 18, 2009
First Published: 1975
Genre: easy reader
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

Owl was at home.

Acquired: We own this book.

Reason for Reading: My son read this aloud to me.

Comments: I'm very familiar with this book but had never actually read it before! This contains four chapters, each its own individual story. Owl, himself, is not the brightest bulb in the package and while very polite and considerate he ends up in the silliest situations because of his own misunderstandings. Three of the stories follow this theme, while the third is a simple tale that shows his simple ways of making tea.

Owl is a dear you can't help but love because of his simple yet good-natured ways. My son was laughing joyously at the antics Owl ends up in and Lobel's illustrations of course add volumes to the simple easy reader text. Arnold Lobel is well known for his illustrations but he was also a mas…

263: Matchless, A Christmas Story

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Matchless, A Christmas Story: An Illumination of Hans Christian Andersen's Classic The Little Match Girl by Gregory Maguire (Canada ) - (US)

Pages: 112 pgs.
Ages: 10+
Finished: Dec. 19, 2009
First Published: Oct. 27, 2009
Genre: fairy tale
Rating: 3.5/5

First sentence:

On an island so far north that it snowed from September to April, a boy named Frederick kept himself warm by keeping a secret.

Acquired: Received a review copy from Harper Collins Canada.

Reason for Reading: I have several of the author's books but haven't read any as of yet plus The Little Match Girl is one of my favourite fairy tales.

Summary: The story of a young boy who lives with his widowed mother. They may be poor, but they have just enough to get by and that is enough for them. Their lives very briefly cross paths with a little match girl who dies in the night cold one evening. Then due to that crossed path they are brought together with her distraught family.

Comments: A bittersweet, little story that is r…

262. BoneMan's Daughter

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BoneMan's Daughters by Ted Dekker (Canada ) - (US)

Pages: 401 pgs.
Ages: 18+
Finished: Dec. 17, 2009
First Published: Apr. 14, 2009 (paperback Feb. 23, 2010)
Genre: thriller, christian fiction?
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

The day that Ryan Evans' world forever changed began as any other day he'd spent in the hot desert might have done.

Acquired: Received a review copy from Hachette Book Group.

Reason for Reading: The publisher's description of this serial killer thriller was right up my alley.

Summary: The BoneMan kidnapped and brutally murdered six girl's by breaking every single bone in their body. He was arrested and sent to prison but there was always a feeling by some that the wrong man had been convicted. Two years later on a technicality the prisoner is released and at the same time Ryan Evans, Intelligence Officer, returns home from a gruelling POW capture in the desert. The murder's start again and when Ryan's own estranged daughter is kidnapped the FBI star…

261. A Pioneer Christmas

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A Pioneer Christmas: Celebrating in the Backwoods in 1841 by Barbara Greenwood. illustrated by Heather Collins. (Canada ) - (US)
Pioneer Story, Book 3

Pages: 47 pgs.
Ages: 7+
Finished: Dec. 15, 2009
First Published: 2003
Genre: children, historical fiction
Rating: 3.5/5

First sentence:

Sarah picked up an apple and pushed a clove into its shiny, red skin.


Acquired: Borrowed from my local library.

Reason for Reading: next & last in the series. Obviously the appropriate time of the year to be reading this.

Summary: Tells of how the Robertson family spends a typical Christmas and yet this year is not so typical as they are awaiting the arrival of family members. Their aunt and uncle (who are expecting their first child) are on their way to come buy land in the area and start their own homestead. This makes the family extra anxious as they not only prepare for Christmas but also await the arrival of their guests.

Comments: It's hard to review this book without comparing it to the first two pre…

260. the road to god knows ...

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the road to god knows ... by Von Allan (Canada ) - (US)

Pages: 141 pgs.
Ages: 15+
Finished: Dec. 16, 2009
First Published: Oct. 2009
Genre: YA, graphic novel, realistic fiction
Rating: 3.5/5

First sentence:

"Has it b-been only a few days..?"

Acquired: Received a review copy from the author and passing it on to the next panelist.

Reason for Reading: A Cybils Award nominee.

Summary: I think the author's own sub-title pretty much sums up the story: "an Original Graphic Novel about Hope, Friendship, Mental Illness, Schizophrenia, and a Young Teenage Girl Coping with Her Life and Coming of Age in a Broken but Loving Family".

Comments: This is Canadian Von Allan's first published book. It is an incredibly powerful story. Marie is a young teenager, 13 or 14, dealing with poverty, being teased at school, having only one friend (though a true best friend), parents who do not live together, and a mother who suffers from schizophrenia and keeps going into the hospital after brea…

259. Gunnerkrigg Court: Orientation

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Orientation by Thomas Siddell (Canada ) - (US)
Gunnerkrigg Court, Volume 1

Pages: 291 pgs.
Ages: 14+
Finished: Dec. 15, 2009
First Published: 2008
Genre: YA, graphic novel, fantasy
Rating: 4.5/5

First sentence:

My name is Antimony Carver.

Acquired: Received a review copy from the publisher.

Reason for Reading: A Cybils Award nominee.

Summary: Antimony's mother has recently died and her father has sent her to a remote British boarding school where she soon makes a best friend, Kat. Strange things happen right from beginning as she finds herself with a second shadow who asks for her help, she meets a friendly robot, finds a room that contains an entire outside meadow, meets up with demons, ghosts and the like all during her first year at Gunnerkrigg Court.

Comments: A delightful book! First off, the book itself is beautiful: a small, thick hardcover with glossy full colour pages. The artwork is gorgeous, having an animation feel to it. The story itself has it's obvious Harry Potter similarit…

A Gospel Song

This morning at Mass we sang this song, one of my favourite gospel songs and I've been humming it ever since. Our Priest may not be the best singer in the world but he's no slouch either as he is a Newfie (so he continuously reminds us) and Newfoundlanders are known for their musical talents. (Great Big Sea, anyone?) On Daily Masses he sometimes leads us in an acapella hymn just before Mass is over. And today we showed that Catholics have soul as we sang this! LOL

258. Any Given Doomsday

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Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handerland (Canada ) - (US)
The Phoenix Chronicles, Book 1

Pages: 343 pgs.
Ages: 18+
Finished: Dec. 13, 2009
First Published: Nov. 4, 2008
Genre: paranormal romance
Rating: 3/5

First sentence:


On the day my old life died, the air smelled of springtime -- budding trees and just-born flowers, fresh grass and hope.


Acquired: Won through LibraryThing's Eary Reviewer's program.

Reason for Reading: I was intrigued by the ex-cop, psychic demon hunter aspect of the plot.

Summary: Ex-cop Elizabeth Phoenix has always been psychic but she's tried to keep it under control and under wraps most of the time. But when her beloved foster mother is killed by monsters she visits Lizzy in her mind to tell her that she is now the seer over all the demon killers and she remains with Lizzy to teach her to recognize non-humans. It is in this way that she learns her boyfriend Jimmie is half vampire and one of the demon killers. She is sent out into the desert with a mysterious Nava…

Nightschool Vol. 1 & 2

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Volume 2 of this series has been nominated for a Cybils Award, so as usual I started with Volume 1.

Nightschool: The Weirn Books by Svetlana Chmakova. Ages 14+

#256. Vol. 1 - Apr. 2009. 195 pgs. The book jumps right into the story which takes some time to figure out exactly what is going on. (I highly recommend reading the summary on the back first otherwise you may not completely understand the story until you do!) This high school takes on a completely new set of students and staff each evening where teens of the night take their lessons. The story focuses on two sisters, one much older who is a teacher at the school and her younger sister, Alex, a Weirn, (a certain type of witch) who for some mysterious reason has been unable to attend school, so is being homeschooled instead. The majority of the plot though focuses on a class of vampire hunters, though they are not hunting the lame good-looking suck a little blood here and there vampires. They hunt the real thing, Rippers, who maul …

Monday: Books in the Mail

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The last Cybils nominees are trickling in and I received a few last week plus I bought myself something.

Cybils nominees sent by the publishers:




Antimony Carver is a precocious and preternaturally self-possessed young girl starting her first year of school at gloomy Gunnerkrigg Court, a very British boarding school that has robots running around along side body-snatching demons, forest gods, and the odd mythical creature. The opening volume in the series follows Antimony through her orientation year: the people she meets, the strange things that happen, and the things she causes to happen as she and her new friend, Kat, unravel the mysteries of the Court and deal with the everyday adventures of growing up. Tom Siddell's popular and award-winning webcomic (gunnerkrigg.com) is here collected in print for the first time.


I've already read this one and will not be reviewing it. I haven't read the novels and I was completely lost with this graphic novel. It is definitely aimed at…

Happy Advent!

Happy Advent! Rejoice! We light the pink candle today!

"Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel."

Shatner Gets Upstaged by Palin!

This is absolutely hilarious! Since I've read Shatner's bio, I know where the bits she reads come from too. I love Shatner, I think he's fabulous but Sarah Palin has an awesome television presence as well.




Yeah, Sarah! You go girl!

(Please keep disparaging comments to yourself. I'll delete them. This is a for fun post.)

Bride of the Water God Vol. 1 & 2

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Bride of the Water God by Mi Kyung Yun. translated from the Korean by Heejong Haas.

Reason for Reading: Vol. 3 in this series has been nominated for a Cybils Award but I so far have been unable to find a copy anywhere and according to Canadian online stores the book won't even be published here in Canada until the end of this month even though book 4 is already available. Very strange... Anyway, I thought I'd at least read the first two to get a feel for the series.

#254. Vol. 1 (2006 Korean) (2007 English) 184 pgs, Ages 14+ - This is the story of a Korean village girl who is sacrificed to the Water God in exchange for rain to end the village's five year long drought. Soah is that girl and she is set adrift where she eventually ends up on the island of the Water God who is an insufferable child. But he is keeping a secret from her, at night her turns into a full grown man and Soah meets this man and has feelings for him. Wonderful drawing, beautiful features on the women. A …

252. Old Peter's Russian Tales by Arthur Ransome

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Old Peter's Russian Tales by Arthur Ransome. illustrated by Faith Jaques (Canada )-(US)

Pages: 253 pgs.
Ages: 8+
Finished: Dec. 9, 2009
First Published: 1916
Genre: children, folk tales
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

Outside in the forest there was deep snow.

Acquired: We own this book.

Reason for Reading: read aloud to the 9yo, a story a day, every other week.

Comments: One of the wonderful aspects about this collection of Russian folk tales is that they are centred around Old Peter who looks after his grandchildren, a boy and a girl, because their parents are dead. Old Peter is known for his storytelling and the children are always clamouring for another story and sometimes Old Peter will start to tell one all on his. So at the beginning or ending of each story we have a little scene with Old Peter, Vanya and Maroosia that ties the whole book together.

Russian folk tales (or fairy tales) are absolutely splendid. This is the first time I've read this book, but I've run across a few of …