Stiff – Review

stiffStiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

By: Mary Roach

Genre: Non-fiction

Alright, this was one book that I couldn’t wait to write about on here. If I could I would send all of you a copy of this book for a couple of reasons: a) this is perhaps one of the most informative novels I’ve read, and b) perhaps one of the funniest novels I’ve come across. If you’re looking for a simple review of this book it’s AMAZING and you just go out and get it!

This book is so informative I can know tell you several different uses (would that be the right word to use here?) for a human cadaver. I also know every step that happens in the decomposition process, and in case you were wondering it’s not pritty. I also know that one body has been composed for scientific purposes, nothing like a mixture of manure, straw and corps. But don’t let this turn you off from reading Mary Roach’s Stiff because you are sure to burst out in fits of laughter.

There were far too many times I ruptured into fits of laughter at work while reading this book. Which would often lead to the inevitable question, “What’s so funny?” And how many times can answer that question, honestly, by say say corpses, or cannibalism for medicinal purposes, or theft of human remains? Not often enough would be the correct answer in case you were wondering. Roach has a wonderful biting sense of humor that works to lighten the material she’s writing about.

This was a book that’s been sitting on my shelves for quite some time and I regret now that I’ve waited this long to read it. It was truly a wonderful. I can actually see this being one of those books I continually bring up in conversations about books people should read. So go out and read it!


Booking Through Thursday #24

Booking Through Thursday

* Hardcover? Or paperback?
* Illustrations? Or just text?
* First editions? Or you don’t care?
* Signed by the author? Or not?

Well this is quite easy to answer. The answers seem to be quite basic, but knowing that the underlying theme is collectibles would make these answers different (I would think) if I looked at my books as collectibles.

  1. Paperback is the type that I prefer. On the other hand if I’m really keen to get a book I will buy it as soon as it comes out in hard cover. I’ll also pick up the odd hard cover if it’s cheap and the only one available. For example I may just go ahead and purchase Christopher Moore’s novel Fool while it’s in hard cover because I love his work and I’m not sure I could wait until it comes out in paperback.
  2. Not really sure what this question is all about but if a book has illustrations it does and as far as I’ve seen there really isn’t an option.
  3. I really don’t care if it’s a first edition or not. All I care is that the text and everything else is the same as when the book was first published.
  4. Again I like to have signed copies of books but it always means more if I’m the one that met the author and got his/her signature. But if I find a signed copy I will get it if it’s a signature I really want.

BBC Books Meme

So, here is a meme that is floating around on Facebook and I thought it would be more appropriate to post it here. Rather than tagging anyone to do this if you’re interested feel free to take part and post your link in the comments to we can take a look at your list.

Apparently the BBC reckons most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here.

a. Look at the list and put an ‘x’ after those you have read.
b. Add a ‘+’ to the ones you LOVE.
c. Star ‘ * ‘ those you plan on reading.
d. Tally your total at the bottom.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen x
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien x
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling x
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee x +
6 The Bible x
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte x
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell x +
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens x +

Total so far: 8

11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott x
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller x
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare x +
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien x
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger x
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger *
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot *

Total so far: 13

21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell x
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens *
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams x +
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky *
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck x
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll x
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame x

Total so far: 18

31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy *
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens x
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis x
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis x
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini x
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne x

Total so far: 23

41 Animal Farm – George Orwell x +
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown x
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez *
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving x
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery x
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding x
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan

Total so far: 28

51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel x
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens x
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon x +
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez *

Total so far: 31

61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck x +
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov x
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold x
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac *
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville *

Total so far: 34

71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens x
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker x
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett x
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath *
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt

Total so far: 37

81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens x
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker x
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry x
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White x
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom x
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle x
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton

Total so far: 43

91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad x
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery *
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams x
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole x
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas x
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare x +
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl x
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo x

Total: 50

The Book Thief – Review

productimageThe Book Thief

By Markus Zusak

Genre: Fiction/Young Readers

Printz Award winner

There are few books that you read in your life that really move you to your very soul. I can only think of two from all the books that I’ve read To Kill a Mockingbird and Martha Ostenso’s Wild Geese. Markus Zusak has managed to write something here that can be added to this list. The Book Thief is the kind of book that you rarely find but when you do you want everyone to read it.

Zusak tells the story of a girl Liesel Meminger (aka the book thief) and her encounters of the Second World War. She encounters many people in her small village where she lives with her adoptive parents. The story is about Liesel but the twist here is that the story is told by none other than the Grim Reaper. The story is so moving that it brought tears to my eyes.

It’s not very often that leave some quotes here but there were a few points that struck me. So here are a few quotes from The Book Thief:

“As is often the case with humans, when I read about them in the book thief’s words, I pitied them, though not as much as I felt for the ones I scooped up from various camps in that time. The Germans in basements were pitiable, surely, but at least they had a chance. That basement was not a washroom. They were not sent there for a shower. For those people, life was still achievable.”

This was the Reaper’s description of the German’s crowding in various basement throughout the village because of the air raids that were taking place prior to the bombing of their village.

“On the ration cards of Nazi Germany, there was no listing of punishment, but everyone had to take their turn. For some it was death in a foreign country during war. For Others it was poverty and guilt when the war was over, when six million discoveries were made throughout Europe. Many people must have seen their punishments coming, but only a small percentage welcomed it. One such person was Hans Hubermann.”

Hans is the adoptive father of Liesel and a very caring man that loved the little girl that was put in his care. He was also willing to put his life in danger by keeping a Jew in their basement. He did this because of a previous event.

I don’t want to give too much away so I’ll end the review with that. I hope everyone takes the opportunity to get their hands on a copy of this book. It’s wonderful!

I read this as part of the Travel the World (From a Comfy Chair) book group at Book Blogs. Here are some others that have read and reviewed the book. If you want to be added to this list send me an email and I’ll add it.

B&b ex libris who also happens to be the host of Travel the World book group.

Books Love Me has reviewed this one back in September of last year.

Sharp Words seems to have enjoyed the book but has a different take on the book.

Paperspine has a great review here:

Hip Librarians Book Blog was found on my google search for reviews for this book and after looking at this review I’ll definately be keeping an eye on this blog.

I’ll leave you with the final words of the book:


I have hated the words and
I have loved them,
and I hope I have made them right

Fruit – Review

2456928072_52e0779c22I’ve been really slow on the uptake here. I’ve finally read my first book for The 2nd Canadian Book Challenge, Eh! Not only have I read this book for this particular challenge but I’m also reading this for Canada Reads 2009. I hope to get all the Canada Reads 2009 books but I know they probably won’t be finished before the winner is selected but that’s alright.


By Brian Francis

Genre: Fiction/Humor

I’m not really sure what to say about this book. It was amazing and I laughed out loud several times while reading this. It got so much attention that people at work have been asking to borrow the book. So it’ll start making its rounds, in fact someone else has the novel already.

The story is told by the teen aged Peter Paddington who is over weight and believes his nipples are evil. Peter is such a well developed character I could see him and hear his voice from the opening statements in the novel, “My name is Peter Paddington. I just started grade 8 at Clarkedale Elementary School. Six days a week, I deliver the Sarnia Observer and the other day, my nipples popped out.” Throughout the novel Peter tells us everything that is going on and what he thinks about the people and situations.

It’s no wonder that this book was one of the selections for Canada Reads 2009. I’m really keen to see what Jen Sookfong Lee (the defender of Fruit by Brian Francis) and the others on the panel have to say about this wildly humors novel. This was a great choice for my first book to read in the Canada Reads 2009 competition. I’ve also started The Book of Negroes and it’s fantastic but not even close to being in the same category as Fruit.

I’ve decided to do a google search to find some fellow reviewers of the books I’m reviewing and will be posting links to their review. If you’re interested in checking out their reviews just click the link. Also, if you’re interested in having you’re review added to the list this can be done by emailing the link to your review to Here are the reviews I’ve come across on my google search for Fruit:

The Book Zombie a fellow Canadian reviewed this book for Canada Reads 2009 as well.

The Keepin’ It Real Book Club has a witty review of the book.

Reader of the Stack is another blogger that’s read Fruit for Canada Reads 2009

Pickle Me This is yet another Canada Reads 2009 reader.

If this a book that’s been of interest to you remember you could be the winner of the winner of the Canada Reads 2009 novel by entering my giveaway.

Weekly Review #8

Well I guess this past week made up for the previous week.  I got three books finished and got a giveaway started.  I guess I have several reviews I should get working on and posting on here but I keep finding other things that I want to talk about on here so the reviews get left behind sometimes.  Another bookish type thing that I got do yesterday was a trip to Toronto to see The Color Purple: The Musical.

If you’ve been reading this post for a while you’ll know that I spent some time talking about Canada Reads last year and I’ve started to keep tabs on what’s going on in the world of Canada Reads 2009. So to celebrate great Canadian literature I’ve decided to host a giveaway.  I’m going to give the drawn name the winning novel in this years Canada Reads.  I’m really excited to see what others have to say their best Canadian novel is.  Since some people have asked already the giveaway is open to everyone!  Enter and good luck!

This week I finished reading Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow then I got several other started and finished.  This week I also had the joy of reading Fruit by Brian Francis (this is the first book I read for Canada Reads 2009), Murder at the Prom by Peter DePietro (this was actually some required reading for the community theatre group I’m helping get off the ground), and the 3rd installment of the Fables graphic novels (Fables: Storybook Love by Bill Willingham, with illustrations by Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha).  Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for some reviews to come.

Well it’s been a busy week and it was nice to end it off yesterday with The Color Purple and then the Oscars.  A great way to end a week.  Until next time happy reading!

My First Giveaway!

This is part of the book giveaway carnival being hosted over at bookroom reviews.

So I thought I would give this a shot. I’ve been the recipient of a few prizes when others have done giveaways and thought it’s been more than time for me to host one of my own. I’ve been trying to think of the best thing I could giveaway. After giving it significant thought I’ve decided to giveaway a copy of the winning novel in this years Canada Reads 2009, or if you already have the novel you may select one of the other contenders.

To celebrate great Canadian writing you need to tell me what your favorite Canadian novel is and if you really want you can tell me why it’s your favorite.

The novels up for Canada Reads this year are:
The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant by Michel Tremblay
Fruit by Brian Francis
Mercy Among the Children by David Adams
The Outlander by Gil Adamson

Canada Reads runs on CBC from March 2-6 so the winner will be selected the following day. All the best to everyone who enters. I must also say I hope to hear about some great Canadian novels that I haven’t read yet.

Booking Through Thursday #23

Booking Through Thursday

I recently got new bookshelves for my room, and I’m just loving them. Spent the afternoon putting up my books and sharing it on my blog . One of my friends asked a question and I thought it would be a great BTT question. So from Tina & myself, we’d like to know “How do you arrange your books on your shelves? Is it by author, by genre, or you just put it where it falls on?”

This is a great question. And there are a couple of things I do when I shelve my books. I first organize my books by genre, I get really excited to do this and when I get new books I tend to pull everything off the shelves and re-organize them all. Then I go along and organize them alphabetically by last name of the author.

I’m not usually an organized person but when it comes to things like I love sorting through the books and surveying these treasures. I’m interested to go and see what everyone else has to say on this topic. But I have a feeling that many of you do the same thing with your books.

My grandfather made a bookcase for me and I’m looking forward to getting it here and finally putting all my books on the shelves again.

Let the Games Begin

Wow, it’s that time of the year again. CBC is gearing up for it’s yearly Canada Reads competition. I always look forward to debates that happen on CBC radio 1 to see what the defenders of each book has to say about the novels. When I get a chance to read the selections I’m often pleasantly surprised how wonderful the books really are.

I must say I wasn’t a huge fan of Canadian fiction until just a few years ago when I took a Canadian Literature course at the University of Manitoba. After reading doing the required reading for the course I couldn’t get enough of the writers from my country. Canada has some wonderful authors and I try to find more of them yearly.

Well, I walked into The Book Vault yesterday to pick up the books that I had ordered for the book club at work (John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines). Before leaving home I took a look at the list of books up for Canada Reads 2009 and decided I would pick up two of the books up for debate:

bookofnegroesSince this book won the Giller prize I’ve been drawn to it. Then the book continued on to win the Common Wealth Writers’ Prize for best overall book. So I thought I would pick up this book and attempt to get it read for the 2nd Canadian Book Challenge. The motivation became even greater since it became a selection for Canada Reads.
I must say I’m trilled to be reading this book and without having read any of the books I’m kind of thinking this will be hands down the winner of Canada Reads 2009.

ladynextdoorSince the first time I watched Les Belles Soeurs I fell madly in love with the dramatic writings of Michel Tremblay. And since that first encounter with his work I try as hard as I can to see everything he’s written for the stage. I’ve never read any of his fiction and seeing The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant on the Canada Reads list I couldn’t resist reading this. So I grabbed this one as well.

After reaching for my copy of The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill I looked up and saw another book on the list for this seasons Canada Reads 2009. So, I made the mistake of pulling it off the shelf .

fruitOn my cover of the book just below Fruit it said “a novel about a boy and his nipples” after reading that I knew I had to see what this book was about. Upon turning the book over and reading the very first sentence taken from a review published by Entertainment Weekly I new I had to read this book. The review stated, “Peter Paddington is a 13-year-0ld, fat, gay cross-dresser with two selfish, annoying older sisters and an overbearing mother” nothing more needed to be said I knew right there that I wanted to read Brian Francis’ book.

There are two other books in the contest but I didn’t pick those up so for the time being I’ll just wait to see what the debaters have to say about them before I rush out to pick them up.

Weekly Review #7

When it comes to reading it’s been a rather slow week.  I was wanting to get more read but as usual life tends tends to get in the way so some things get left behind and unfortunately it was reading that has had to suffer.  When life gets busy for you how do you get all the reading in you’d like to?  Or should I say get all the reading in you possibly can?

I guess I’m lucky enough that I can get some reading in at work while I’m work.  As one of those annoying people that makes phone calls selling tickets for the festival.  Since many people don’t answer I need something that will occupy my time so that I don’t go completely crazy I get some reading done.  The problem is not every book is suited for the stops and starts needed when doing this kind of work.  It’s been difficult trying to find something so I’ve had to change a few books over the week.  I still haven’t found one that will work for me to do this kind of reading.

Yesterday I went with Mike to see Coraline in Kitchener.  When we decided to see it I mentioned wanting to read the book the movie was based on and Mike told me had the book.  So he brought the book with him.  I’ll be bringing that book with me to work today because it looks like something that will work for reading there.

Coraline was a fantastic film and seeing it in 3D was great!  If you haven’t seen this film yet you should rush out and see it now.  The story is great and then to see it in 3D added to the story.  When I went to see the show I thought the 3D aspect would be gimmicky and was skeptical about that.  It wasn’t that way at all, it made for a fun few hours at the cinema.  Now I’m really looking forward to seeing what Neal Gaiman’s novel will be like.