Review – Finding God’s Will

book

This was one of the books I got through BookBub, it’s a great place to get ebooks at a discounted rate for most ereaders. I was drawn in by the synopsis of the book, and was glad I took the time to read Matte’s book.

Finding God’s Will deals with how to find what it is that God wants in your life. To provide an example for how to do this Matte uses the story of Moses.

Though I enjoyed this read it has its shortcomings as well. The biggest being that Matte seems to pull further and further from the parallels of Moses and how to find our faith as the book progresses (mostly in the last couple of chapters). Aside from that I found the book to be quite insightful.

As well as being a great read I found it to be motivational. It helped push me in my relationship with God, and the what it is I’ll be doing next in my life journey. As one job ended I now look for the next. While feeling a little down this helped me to see that I need to keep looking to God as I search for the next adventure.

2016 Reading Challenge – To Kill a Mockingbird

Mockingbord

To Kill A Mockingbird could easily fill the criteria for many categories for this challenge. I decided to pick this one for a few reasons, primarily because we lost the author a short time ago. It was sad, but solidified my resolve to read this book for this challenge.

It’s interesting that when you reread a book, or watch a movie, you pick up on things that you missed the first time around or forgot. Anyone that’s read this book is sure to remember two particular moments:
1. The trial of of Tom Robinson
2. The two times Jem and Scout have an interaction with Boo.

After this reading I realized these are just a small portion of Harper Lee‘s masterpiece. The rest of the book is similar to Stephen Leacock‘s novel Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town. We have a glimpse into the small town of Maycomb. Lee introduces us to some wonderfully quirky characters, aside from the ones you all probably remember. Moments that were great to re-imagine while reading made for an exciting second read. In particular the making of the snow/mudman.

If you’re a fan of Harper Lee, or To Kill a Mockingbird I’d suggest picking it up again and giving another go. You might come across several surprises that you have forgotten about since the last time you read the book.

The Holy or the Broken – Review

Holy or broken

I picked up The Holy or the Broken a few years ago, at my favourite (now closed) local bookshop. The reason, Leonard Cohen‘s Hallelujah is my favourite song, and has been for quite a few years. So, when I saw Alan Light‘s book in the discount section I didn’t think twice about picking it up.

Light, one must assume, is also a fan of the song and so wanted to pay some kind of homage to the Choen’s masterpiece. However, instead of taking much time talking about the song he gives the reader a historical account of the songs assent into the realm of the everyday. As he goes through the history he compares the song to the first two records of the piece. The first, which didn’t really get much recognition until much later in his life, Leonard Cohen’s original. Jeff Buckley’s take on the song, the one I believe Light holds in the highest regard. Below is Buckley’s rendition of the song.

Overall I enjoyed the account of the history of the song, and how each rendition influenced popular culture. With that said I must also note that there were two aspects of the book that bothered me. First, Alan Light has no issues mentioning when he helped influence the world with this song. This was as an editor of a magazine I didn’t even know existed, but I’m also no one to read magazines on the subject of music. The other issue I have with the book is that it doesn’t really talk about the song itself, and what it says to the general population. It touches on this but doesn’t spend the time on it I would have liked.

Finally, I will say Light does talk about the importance of two other versions of this song. Cohen’s original and the other by a noted Canadian during the opening cerimonies of the Vancouver Olympics, k.d. lang. These are my favourite versions of the song. So, I’ve added them below for you enjoyment.

Furiously Happy – Review

Furiously Happy

Jenny Lawson’s second book Furiously Happy was the first book I read in 2016! It was exactly what I needed to get back into my reading, and blogging, groove again. I have yet to read Lawson’s first book Let’s Pretent this Never Happend (A Mostly True Memoir) but my wife gave it to me for my birthday this year so I’ll be opening this one up sometime soon.

Two things make Furiously Happy an exceptional book:
1. It will make any ready laugh, and make others wonder what you’re reading
2. Lawson deals with some serious issues

On a number of occasions Emily asked me what I was doing because I was laughing so hard at what Lawson put to the page. Her writing is really sarcastic, at times quite biting. Rather than talking about others and their issues Lawson dives into her own issues, poking fun at herself and her many, many, many mental disorders. If you’ve read anything by David Sedaris you’ll have a good idea of Lawson’s writing style.

While finding yourself laughing you’ll also realize Jenny Lawson has you thinking and dealing with some of the issues society has labeled as taboo. She isn’t concerned about dealing with mental disorders, particularly the ones she lives with daily. Talking about mental disorders has become less taboo over the years thanks to #bellletstalk.

This is one book that I’ve found myself reading large portions to Emily, so we could both share in the laughter and the issues brought up by Larson. It’s also a book we have booth been recommending to others, and have a list of folks that want to borrow my copy. Pick it up and give it a read, you will not regret it!

Review from Stratford – West Side Story

The hype around Stratford all summer has been Stratford Shakespeare Festival‘s hit production of West Side Story. This is a show I’m sure you’re all familiar with, for all intense purposes the show is a musical version of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.  This time the rivals are the Sharks and Jets two gangs and the lovers are Tony and Maria.  A couple of songs from the show are America, Cool, Tonight and I Feel Pretty.

Before I get very far into my thoughts of West Side Story I should say that I’m not huge fan of the show, the song I Feel Pretty is enough make someone want to inflict pain on themselves.  With that said for West Side Story is this is a good production.  It’s far from the greatest show ever done at Stratford, unlike some of the reviewers are saying, this year alone I would say A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum is better.  Paul Nolan and Chilina Kennedy are both fabulous as the leads in this show.  The balcony scene is wonderful especially when Nolan pulls himself up the side of balcony for their big kiss.

The show has been getting so much attention that a commercial was made:

I had the opportunity to be a shadow for the show last night and it was a wonder experience. I got to spend the night with stage management during the run of the show. Because of my involvement with theatre as a stage manager I was really looking forward to doing that. It was a great experience.

Theatrical Thursday – The Importance of Being Earnest

earnest_sm

The first show that I saw at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival was Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest.  For any theatre fan this would be a show you’ve probably seen it several time and probably involved with the show in someway.  But it’s a show I absolutely adore.  It’s almost sad how well I know this show, I could deliver the lines along with the cast.

There are a few interesting points about this particular production that are worth pointing out.  First is Brian Bedford is back at the festival.  That is enough to make it worth the trip to Stratford for this show.  He’s a great classic clown.  Bedford is wonderful in all that he does.  If you’ve never been to Stratford the name may not mean much to you unless you take into consideration Brian Bedford is the voice of Robin Hood by Disney.  Bedford is playing Lady Bracknell as well as directing the show.  The other exciting part of The Importance of Being Earnest is that Desmond Heeley is the set designer for the show.  Anytime he creates a set you know your breath will be taken away.

The cast of this production is amazing, you have Sara Topham, Ben Carlson, and the incomperable Stephen Ouimette.  It’s a show I could watch over and over again this season.  Wilde is a wonderful playwright and I find, no matter how many times I watch this show, I laugh so much.  If you’re looking for a comedy this is the show for you.  The players do a wonderful job of playing off each other bouncing off each others lines as if it were everyday banter.  

Shows that deal with babies left in handbags left in train stations (Victoria station of all places!) are just not done often enough.  The only problem with this show is the final line.  I love this show very much but every time I hear the last line I cringe, it’s horrible.  

It’s also important to note that the festival is doing the three act version of the show rather than the original four act.  There is some interesting trivia surrounding the the creation of the three act play but I wont get into that.  

I’ll leave you with the webcast where the general director of the festival (Antoni Cimolino) talks with Brian Bedford about his involvement in all things Wilde this season at the festival.

Be sure to watch the second part of this video.

The Man Who Forgot How to Read – Review

2nd Canadian Book Challenge, Eh?
The Man Who Forgot How to ReadThe Man Who Forgot How to Read

by Howard Engel

genre: Non-Fiction

I read this book as part of the CBC Book Club and the day the book came I decided to read it for the 24 Hour Read-a-Thon.  I really wanted to get as much out of this book as possible but I had difficulty enjoying it.  There came a point about half way through that I made the decision I needed to keep reading to make sure I got it done.  The Man Who Forgot How to Read was not as interesting as I had hoped it would be.  

Howard Engel is a mystery writer of the Benny Cooperman series.  One morning Engel woke up and found the world was different than it was the night before.  Upon going to the hospital and getting things checked out it turned out Engel had a stroke and it had some lasting effects on his ability to read.  When he tried to read the paper he could recognize the individual letters but when they were put together to form words and sentences he had no idea what was going on.

The other day I got an email from Hannah Sung and I responded to it.  I want to pass it our conversation on to you:How’s it going? Hope you aren’t too headache-y today. I’m not stalking you – just read your blog, which is how I know that about you….

…also, I know that you couldn’t stand Howard Engel’s book. Sorry to hear that! But I’m dying to know….why?

Bye for now,
H

I sent her the following message in response:

Hi Hannah!

Today isn’t too bad, I wish it was better than it is but I can live with how things are going today.  Thanks for asking.  Come now, I know you’re stalking me lol!  It’s actually funny you mention that, there are two people in Stratford I see regularly and all my friends and I refer to them as my stalkers, perhaps I’ll need to add you to the list now too!  hahaha. Anyway, I’m glad to see you’re stopping by my blog and reading things.  

As you saw I read The Man Who Forgot How to Read for the 24 hour Read-a-Thon and I didn’t really like it.  There are a couple of reasons for not liking this book.  I guess the number one reason I didn’t like it is because I felt the book was quite repetitive, it was already a short book and I think he could/should have gone into more detail in several aspects of his life (before and after the stroke). The other aspect that bothered me was the fact that I still don’t really know how he’s worked through the problem.  Well, I guess that’s still a lack of detail issue because he touched on it but I was expecting a lot more about that.  

Now I think I should also say that I’ve read a book by Oliver Sacks (The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat) and I didn’t like that very much either.  I didn’t like his book for the same reasons I didn’t like this one.  

Perhaps if I’ve read one of Howard Engel’s books I may have a different perspective on this book.  I may even enjoy it more if I read a book from before and one from after.  I haven’t read one of his books because I really have difficulty reading that particular genre.  And sadly this book didn’t inspire me to want to read anything else he’s written.

Thank for email, I’m really looking forward to what may be next on the list of books.  It’s been an interesting discussion this month.

Aaron

The Cellist of Sarajevo – Review

2456928072_52e0779c22
sarajevo1The Cellist of Sarajevo

by: Steven Galloway

Genre: Historical Fiction

This is one of the few books I’ve already read for The 2nd Canadian Book Challenge.  I’ve read several reviews out there about Steven Galloway’s The Cellist of Sarajevo and couldn’t resist reading it any longer.  This is a wonderful book and was very glad I picked it up.  It’s one of those books that have the potential of altering the way a person thinks and lives.

This is a story that surrounds an actual event.  During the conflict 22 people were murdered while waiting for bread in the local square.  Because of this famed cellist, Vedrin Smailovic, risked his life to play his cello for 22 days in honor of the 22 people that were killed.  

Galloway tells the story through the eyes of three different characters.  Each of which has a different relationship with the situation and the cellist.  Personally my favourite story was that of Arrow who needed to protect the cellist during the time he played, to help keep moral up.  

There were so many touching moments and the end brought tears to my eyes.  In the world we currently live in there are many times we live without hope.  This novel is full of inspiration and above all hope.  It’s not a difficult read and deals with the subject of war as well as it can be dealt with.  There was never a moment I wanted to stop reading, I just devoured this novel and I’m already of thinking of reading it a second time.  And I’m not one to read novels several times, the only two I’ve ever read multiple times were: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and George Orwell’s Animal Farm.  

If you haven’t read The Cellist of Sarajevo yet you are definitely missing out.  This is definitely a novel not to be missed.  

 

Vedrin Smailovic, The Cellist of Sarajevo
Vedrin Smailovic, The Cellist of Sarajevo

Here some others that have reviewed The Cellist of Sarajevo:

Farm Lane Books Blog seems to have enjoyed the book as much as I did.
http://www.farmlanebooks.co.uk/?p=712

As usual B&b ex libris has a wonderful review of this book.

http://exlibrisbb.blogspot.com/2009/04/cellist-of-sarajevo.html

If you would like to have your review added to this list send me an email with the link to your review and it will be added.

The Walking Dead – Review

walkingdead_book1_hc-719399The Walking Dead Book One

by Robert Kirkman

genre: graphic novel

I don’t have much experience when it comes to zombies but that’s about to change.  I’ve already read the first book in The Walking Dead series and must say I really enjoyed it.  And to expand my zombie knowledge I have Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith on my TBR pile.  So, I should become rather knowledgeable once I’ve finished this series and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. 

It really didn’t take me long to rip through this book.  It is such a great story and is full of action.  The story continues to move forward, which I think is a problem with some graphic novels.  If you’re looking for a story about zombies and the battle between the living and the living dead this would be the book for you. 

Robert Kirkman’s story starts in a hospital when the main character of the story (Rick) comes out of a coma due to an incident you catch a glimpse at the very beginning.  As the story progresses we see learn about defeating the zombies and living a life surrounded by these living dead.  The whole story seems to be well thought out and the artistry is amazing, each panel is wonderful.

I wish I knew how this world came about and what caused so many zombies to exist in the world.  At this point in the story their has been little to no indication of what may have caused this.  If I were to guess I’d say it’s some kind of biological thing.  That’s the only thing that could logically explain what’s going on here.  I really hope that this is explained in later books or I may get really frustrated with it.  

Again this is a great book and would recommend it.  The illustrations are wonderful and simple, working with just black and white images.  It’s truly wonderful and if zombies are your kind of thing this is one you shouldn’t miss.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Review

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

by: Philip K. Dick

genre: sci-fi

*read on my Sony Reader

Not that long ago I finished reading my first novel on my Sony Reader.  I wanted to read something that suited such a device and while I was looking around for the perfect book I thought something Science Fiction, finally deciding Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick.  I haven’t read anything by Philip K. Dick before and much of that has to do with the fact that I really have an aversion to the sci-fi genre.  But I heard good things about this book so thought I would give it a go.

Now, after just saying I have an aversion to sci-fi I have to say that I loved this e-book.  The story of rouge robots and robotic animals made this an interesting story.  I particularly enjoyed the environmental aspects of this story.  In essence Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? takes place after Earth has all but been abandoned (for life on Mars) and looks at the the reasons why people left this planet, as well as looking at what life is like for those left behind.

I cannot recall if it’s fully explained what has happened to Earth but we do know that there are very few species left.  Due to so few animals remaining the cost to owning one is quite high and is sign of wealth.  Not only is it a sign of wealth to have a creature but it seems to be vital for people to have an animal to call their own.  So there are companies that build robotic animals that look like the real thing.  And the main character has a robotic sheep and has to deal with electrical problems with his sheep. 

It didn’t take very long to read this book and it kept my attention throughout.  I must say I’m really glad that I decided to read this.  It is a wonderful story and has me wanting to read more sci-fi (I cannot actually believe I wrote that).  Because I’m not all that familiar with this genre could any of you suggest novels worth reading in this genre?  And please don’t say Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card because it’s the last sci-fi I read and really did not like it.

Others that have reviewed this book include:

The Open Critic has a great discussion of this book.
http://theopencritic.com/?p=54

Fandomania looks at the book and the film version (Blade Runner).
http://fandomania.com/book-review-do-androids-dream-of-electric-sheep/

Steven Wu’s seems to have really enjoyed the book as well he gave it 9 out of 10 on Steven Wu’s Book Review.
http://www.scwu.com/bookreviews/h/DickPhilipKDoAndroidsDreamofElectricSheep.shtml

And remember if you’d like your review added just send me an email and I’ll add your review to the list.  And it doesn’t matter if you liked it or not!