Sunday, October 24, 2010


Bound by Donna Jo Napoli
Young Adult

This story is an ancient Chinese re-telling of the story of Cinderella. Xing Xing is bound to her dead father's second wife and her daughter Wei Ping. It is a life of servitude and tied by bonds of family and culture. Girls in this position can expect nothing and are treated little more than slaves.

Wei Ping's feet were bound immediately after her father's death and are extremely painful. Her father did not agree with this practice but her mother wants to negotiate a good marriage for her and sees this as a necessity.

Wei Ping is not an awful step-sister but one the reader feels a great deal of sympathy for. She can not do much for herself and has terrible ordeals because of her feet. The step-mother on the other hand is greedy and very desperate for her daughter to marry before all their money is gone.

The Prince part of the story was almost an after-thought and very little of the story was devoted to this. I felt it could have been fleshed out a little bit more. I loved the historical part of this book and was very interested in the foot binding.

First Line: "Xing Xing squatted by the water, silent and unmoving."


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah

Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah

Adeline is the youngest of five children when her mother dies in childbirth. Shortly after, her father re-marries a French-Chinese whom the children call Niang. Niang is vicious. She takes control of the household, shows favourites to the children she likes, pits the children against each other, threatens them, doesn't let them bring friends home, and is everything you could imagine an evil stepmother to be. Things get worse when Niang has her own children so that she can favour them even more.

All Adeline wants is to be loved by her father. She puts her focus into schooling and gets all A's. While this seems to please her father, he still doesn't give her much attention. Niang makes this as difficult for Adeline as possible, but at the end this is a Cinderella story.

You can't help but despise how Niang treats her children and step-children. There's no reason to treat anyone like this, with all the outright hatred and emotional mind games. I was so happy for Adeline that she got away and created her own life for herself, though she kept getting sucked back into her family drama.

This book was so captivating that I couldn't put it down. I wanted to make sure that Adeline ended up alright. I also really enjoyed the Chinese sayings that were scattered throughout the novel, including the one used for the title: Falling leaves always return to their roots.

First Line: "At the age of three my grand aunt proclaimed her independence by categorically refusing to have her feet bound, resolutely tearing off the bandages as fast as they were applied."


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Driven: How to Succeed in Business and In Life by Robert Herjavec

Driven: How to Succeed in Business and In Life by Robert Herjavec

Robert Herjavec, star of CBC's Dragon's Den, came to Canada with his parents whom only had $20 in their pockets. His story is a true rags-to-riches story. What's unique is that Herjavec isn't an American living the "American Dream", but a Canadian. After selling one business for over $100 million to AT&T, Herjavec started The Herjavec Group, a successful internet security company. This book isn't truely about him though, but rather lessons he has learned over his business life and pointers on how to be successful.

Each lesson is accompanied by an anecdote that either relates back to Herjavec's past, or his time in Dragon's Den. As a Dragon's Den fan, I really enjoyed the inside stories and what you pick up about his relationship with the other dragons, specifically Kevin O'Leary (whom he actually seems to like). Herjavec recognizes that it takes a certain type of person to become an entrepreneur and yet doesn't alienate the reader if they aren't that kind of person.

As a young manager in a small company, I found his pointers on when to say no and his dos and donts of firing an employee (something I thankfully haven't had to do yet) helpful. I laughed to myself about his analysis of MBAs. I completely agreed with it, even though I'm an MBA myself.

For the most part, this felt like common sense. I didn't really have any "a-ha!" moments while reading this, because nothing Herjavec was saying was revolutionary. Herjavec is obviously a charismatic person and this comes across not only in his television appearances but also in his book. Without his charisma, this book would not be nearly as interesting a read.

Browse Inside

First Line: "The $200,000 cheque was on the table and we were ready to sign the deal."


Monday, October 11, 2010

Dewey's Nine Lives

Dewey's Nine Lives by Vicki Myron

Dewey's Nine Lives is nine stories about or inspired by Dewey, the library cat. The stories are told from the viewpoint of Dewey's 'mom', author Vicki Myron. There is a story about how Dewey affected a lady who was a regular at the library and how his legacy lives on without him since he has died. Another story is about a soldier who returns from the Viet Cong a troubled and unhappy soul. A rescue cat helps him open himself up to relationships by being persistent and loving.

An Alaskan divorced mom saves a kitten from drowning on Christmas Eve to form a life-long bond. This cat inspires her to do her best and persevere in her own life. And then there is the story of the cats of Sanibel Island and how the cats of the Colony Resort touched those who lived and visited there. I can just imagine dozens of cats sitting on the rungs of a ladder.

I am not a cat lover but I am an animal lover and these stories can not help but captivate the reader. Time and time again a cat is shown to have 'picked' the person who needs him or her most. By unconditional love the cat has managed to 'save' or help when they are needed. Each of these stories is heart-warming and inspiring. I, too, believe in the magic of these cats.

First Line: "Thank you, Vicki, and thank you, Dewey ... I don't believe in angels, but Dewey comes close."
Buy this Book

Dewey's Magic Facebook Page


Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Voyager by Diana Gabladon

Voyager by Diana Gabaldon
Historical Fiction

The third book in the Outlander series starts with Claire and her daughter Brianna tracking down what happened to Claire's husband Jaime. Claire left Jaime in Scotland in the 1700s after becoming pregnant with Brianna, travelling back to the 1960s after walking through a stone circle. Worried that Jaime may have died in the Battle of Culloden but soon finds out that that isn't the case and all signs point to Jaime being in Edinburgh.

Claire has to make the decision between her husband and her daughter, and chooses her husband. Travelling back through time Claire finds herself back in 1700 Scotland and quickly finds Jaime who is shocked to see her. They learn of what happened to each other over the 20 years since they last saw one another, and some things Claire isn't too sure she likes. Irregardless, the passion between the two is definitely still there.

Jaime works in Edinburgh as a smuggler of alcohol, which puts him working side-by-side with many shady characters. When his nephew is kidnapped, Claire and Jaime follow his trail all the way to the Caribbean to try and find him.

These books are hard to get through because they're so large! As much as I enjoy this series I always cringe at the thought of reading them because it takes me so long to read a 1000 page book. The story pulls you in right away though and there's just no denying the chemistry between Claire and Jaime!

I can't understand Claire's reasoning for leaving her daughter to go back to her husband. She didn't even seem to give it much thought. You would think that a mother always puts her children before herself but this seemed to me to be a very selfish decision, which bothered me through the entire book.

A great book though, and I'm looking forward to the next in the series which is like a new beginning, given the ending of this book!

First Line: "He was dead."


Sunday, October 03, 2010

Hot Six

Hot Six by Janet Evanovich
Genre of book

When Stephanie goes to get her latest bounty job from her cousin Vinny, she is amazed that it is for Ranger, a fellow bounty hunter and one major heart throb. She turns it down because she thinks Ranger is innocent of murdering Homer Ramos, the head of a crime family.

Ranger instead wants her help in keeping an eye on the Ramos and trying to figure out what is really going on. Of course, Stephanie isn't the only one looking for Ranger. Besides her nemesis bounty hunter, Joyce, there are 2 bad guys constantly tailing her and her lover, Cop Joe Morelli.

In the middle of all this, Grandma Mazur leaves home to come live with Stephanie and Stephanie who agrees to dog sit for awhile ends up with a huge dog named Bob. This all hinders any love life Stephanie has going on.

A number of cars are ruined once again but the funniest part involves the bad guys car and Bob. This is the best of the series so far and definitely recommended for anyone needing some laughter in their life.

First Line: "Okay, so here's the thing."